Red Oak Victory November 7, 2013


Red Oak Victory
26x32  oil/canvas 2013

It's been six months since my last entry, as I've been entering on Facebook and have thus neglected to enter my blog.

I began this painting on location about 10 years ago, then decided to use it as a teaching tool for my beginning oil painting class through the SBCC Continuing Education. The Red Oak Victory is one of two Victory Ships saved from being scrapped out of the Ghost Fleet in near by Suisun Bay. The ship was imacculate on the inside, however the outside left much to be desired.

Just after I took this picture, I laid in the basic color masses, when the wind came up and practically blew my easel over. It blew like a wind tunnel, through that gap between the ship and the warehouses.

In researching the history of this ship I see it is now fully restored to WWII configuration, and sits as part of the Rosie the Riveter Museum in Richmond, near where it was created almost 70 years ago.





In Memoriam, (Lest We Forget): Memorial Day Weekend 2013

Ens. William Harold Tucker USN

My only Uncle: William Harold Tucker, went to war in 1942 after graduating from John Marshall High School in Hollywood.  He kept a daily diary throughout High School and for two years after up until his enlistment in the U.S. Navy.  Upon enlisting he wrote home every day; one to eight page letters describing his training and experiences in flying.  For a year and a half he went through training, graduating from Corpus Christy TX and receiving his commission to fly a Lockheed Hudson and be stationed out of Ft. Lauderdale FL.  As a solo pilot in command of this medium bomber his job was to take up to eight service personnel from various branches of the military, up in his plane. They would spot shipping off the coast, and let them practice with the new invention of radar.


Wednesday afternoon Feb. 3, 1944 at 2:15 pm, while flying seven miles off the coast of Miami, at an altitude of 3500 feet the plane lost an engine.  With the nine men on board and the heavy radar equipment the plane was overloaded by approximately 2600 lbs. It went into a flat spin. 


Many of the servicemen on board had never flown before this flight.

My Uncle, being a top notch pilot was able to pull the plane out of the spin and according to witnesses leveled off at an altitude of ten feet above the water. 

In the Lockheed Hudson the only door is in the rear of the plane.  Investigators surmise the personnel on board panicked and rushed for the door making the plane tail heavy, causing the ship to hit the water tail first, and it sunk like a stone, into seven hundred feet of water.

The search went on for two days, and no debris, or bodies were ever recovered.

William Harold Tucker was two months away from his 21st birthday.  He was one of 138 kids lost during WWII from John Marshall High School, a school which lost more students in the war than any High School in Southern California.

In 1987, forty three years after the accident, I traveled to New York and Boston with my teacher from Art Center, Dan McCaw.  While visiting, I went to the Atlantic Memorial in Battery Park and searched for Bill’s name. It was not there.  I contacted the right individuals in the Government;  sent them all the info I had on Bill Tucker, and after a period of four years I was contacted Battlefields Commission saying his name had been listed on the memorial (along with the 11,500+ Americans who lost their lives in the coastal waters of the Atlantic in WWII.

While visiting the Eleanor Ettinger Gallery in Soho, where I would eventually have my first Solo Show in New York, I found the name of my Uncle inscribed in the Memorial.  Now things feel complete!


Still Waiting, Figure in the Landscape April 24, 2013

This is a quick charcoal sketch I created back in  1999 when I was pursuing my Master's Degree in Art.  The criteria was to create a series of plein air nocturne sketches using a live model as the subject. 

I sketched the model at the Santa Barbara Train Station around 10 pm.

Being it was winter time in a public place, the model preferred to pose "draped".


"Still Waiting"
Collection of the Artist


The Nocturne Wall April 11, 2013

My Friend and art patron, Robert Eringer, has opened a new Saloon in Santa Barbara. It is called Palmeri's.  Once a seedy dive bar, Eringer has cleaned Palmeri's up, making it a location to come, have a drink and a chat, Listen to good music, and leave feeling you've had a "memorable experience," of leaving Santa Barbara without actually going anywhere.

He has taken a collection of my paintings; (38, out of the 86 he owns), and has decorated the inside of the saloon with them, and assorted pantings by his father, and Santa Barbara Artist Shawn Kirkpatrick.  The Nocturne Wall, of moonlit scenes, remains above the fray and frolicking customers  who are enjoying their libations below.

Most of the paintings depict images I painted on our Surreal Bounce over the last 13 years. Every painting tells a story about our quest; our search into creativity and madness.

Feedback from the clientele is that they love having artwork on the walls...

In my opinion, it sure beats plastic Budweiser pennants.


Photo: Robert Eringer



Clicking Frog of Calaveras County: Old Fashioned Road Trip April 10, 2013

I've traveled all over the world with Author/Spy Master Robert Eringer, in search of creativity and madness. For a year  we traveled far and wide with the goal of getting to places  where famous American Literary Icons like Hemingway, Kerouac, Fante, Bukowski, Steinbeck, Brannigan, Miller, and Hunter S. Thompson, lived and/or committed suicide. One of the Authors we never got to investigate was Mark TwainSo on this old fashioned road trip with my travel companions, I decided to have my own mini "Surreal Bounce" journey.


We stopped up on Jack Ass Hill to view Mark Twain's Cabin, where in 1865 he wrote his very first novel, "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County".  Feeling the empty cabin with three chairs wasn't much to shake a stick at, we traveled on down the road tothe town of Angels Camp to find the tavern where it is said Twain heard the story while sipping liquor at the bar.

The Tavern, inside Angels Hotel is now an Antique store full of glimmering novelties.  I asked the owner if he knew where the bar was once situated way back in the day? He then pointed to some display cases over yonder. I walked over to the cases imagining them to be an old western bar where I could order a shot of Basil Hayden, (Bourbon Whisky).


Thinking to myself, "This is where Mark Twain once stood... way back in the day... when he was starving, striving to become a successful writer and searching for his voice.  The one that was loud enough to be heard like the croaking of a bull frog." 

Then, looking down into the case, I knew there must be something there for me to remember this moment by. There, sitting on top of a small box was this well-worn antique clicker, in none other than the shape of a frog! I knew I had to have it as a keep sake from this journey.  So, in my search to capture a glimpse into the spirit of Mark Twain, and in the continued tradition of a Surreal Bouncer,  I purchased this miniature clicking talisman that still works like a charm. 

Yosemite Falls April 8, 2013

I had a two hour window to make a decision on how I would paint the Yosemite Falls for my client. Now, even though I'm use to teaching and demonstrating plein air painting techniques,  I did my best to conceal myself in some trees alongside the road to limit exposure to the hoards of tourists. My strategy worked somewhat. I spent almost two hours painting in awe of the scene before me, attempting to capture the sunlight as it moved across the granite walls. Somewhere in Korea and China this image exist in some tourist's photo album. The ripples go out...


Work in progress, with client, Jim Worthen. Photo: Rob Rafelli



Eyes Wide Open, Yosemite April 7, 2013

The Focus of the trip was to paint a couple of painting for a client. Having only a small window of time to produce it was important to not get distracted by the magic, beauty, and sublime grandure of this place. In other words keep focused on the job. However I couldn't help but appreciate a few choice views of the world around me.

Stained glass, Art Deco Design, Iwani Hotel 

Nature Abides

Eyes to the sky