Scarlet Letter
Tramp Steamer


Portrait of the Artist as an Old MaN
February 28, 2012


Angelina Jolie presenting at the Oscars.
This is an excerpt from the Rogovoy Report - a lively email summary of the days news and entertainment that you might enjoy subscribing to if you don't already. And Rogovoy's report is excerpted in turn from newyorker.com. Without further ado:
What else would explain the magnificence of Angelina Jolie, with her streaming tresses, the two and a half hectares of scarlet lip gloss required to cover her mouth, and, most telling of all, the single, flawless leg that was permitted to emerge from the slit of her long skirt and planted cockily in full view?
She was merely doling out the screenplay awards, but her pose bore a definite, don’t-fuck-with-me trace of the gunslinger, and so it was, across the time zones, that a billion people sat there with their hands up: Freeze.
I have seen nothing like it, in terms of the power to strike dumb and stupefy, since Jack Nicholson, introducing a tribute to Michelangelo Antonioni, showed the scene from “Zabriskie Point” in which a television set explodes into a thousand angry shards. That was Oscar night, 1994. Those were the days.

Read Anthony Lane's full take on the Oscars in the New Yorker. Take a look at the Rogovoy Report. And if you get a chance check out my Post below.

February 27, 2012



Photo by NowFashion.com as it appeared on nytimes.com

This model and gown is my new choice for my next Runway Series painting. Nothing if not fickle, I previously had decided to do Gisele  Bundchen, Tom Brady's wife, ( see my February 17 post, but when I saw this shot I switched.
The gown, which I think is great, is by Tess Giberson, who recently showed her Fall 2012 collection at the New York Fashion Week. I could not find the name of the model, who I think is a classic Renaissance beauty.

This photo is from Elle.com, which labelled it: Courtesy of IMAXtree.com and Matteo Volta.

Just five years out of the Rhode Island School of Design, Giberson, pictured below, launched her own clothing collection in 2001. But in 2005 she put it on hold and became design director at TSE for three years. She relaunching her own line in 2010 and opened a store in Manhattan last year.


Tess Giberson from Style.com.

She told Style.com that the artist Christo, back in the days when wrapped small things like books and motorcycles, had influenced her work. "I like that idea that you don't really know what's underneath," she explained.

To see





February 25, 2012



Swimmers met John Fairfax and his 22-foot rowboat, the Britannia, in Hollywood, Fla., in 1969. Associated Press photo.


This post is stolen word for word from the New York Times of February 19. It is a long and wonderful obit of a man whose life makes those of most adventurers seem pedestrian.


John Fairfax, Who Rowed Across Oceans, Dies at 74


He crossed the Atlantic because it was there, and the Pacific because it was also there.

He made both crossings in a rowboat because it, too, was there, and because the lure of sea, spray and sinew, and the history-making chance to traverse two oceans without steam or sail, proved irresistible.

In 1969, after six months alone on the Atlantic battling storms, sharks and encroaching madness, John Fairfax, who died this month at 74, became the first lone oarsman in recorded history to traverse any ocean.

In 1972, he and his girlfriend, Sylvia Cook, sharing a boat, became the first people to row across the Pacific, a yearlong ordeal during which

John Fairfax and Sylvia Cook on their 8,000-mile voyage across the Pacific. Mirrorpix photo.

their craft was thought lost. (The couple survived the voyage, and so, for quite some time, did their romance.)

Both journeys were the subject of fevered coverage by the newsmedia. They inspired two memoirs by Mr. Fairfax, “Britannia: Rowing Alone Across the Atlantic” and, with Ms. Cook, “Oars Across the Pacific,” both published in the early 1970s. (They are pictured below.)

Mr. Fairfax died on Feb. 8 at his home in Henderson, Nev., near Las Vegas. The apparent cause was a heart attack, said his wife, Tiffany. A professional astrologer, she is his only immediate survivor. Ms. Cook, who became an upholsterer and spent the rest of her life quietly on dry land (though she remained a close friend of Mr. Fairfax), lives outside London.

For all its bravura, Mr. Fairfax’s seafaring almost pales beside his earlier ventures. Footloose and handsome, he was a flesh-and-blood character out of Graham Greene, with more than a dash of Hemingway and Ian Fleming shaken in.

At 9, he settled a dispute with a pistol. At 13, he lit out for the Amazon jungle.

At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar. Afterward he was apprenticed to a pirate. To please his mother, who did not take kindly to his being a pirate, he briefly managed a mink farm, one of the few truly dull entries on his otherwise crackling résumé, lately included a career as a professional gambler.

Mr. Fairfax was among the last avatars of a centuries-old figure: the lone-wolf explorer, whose exploits are conceived to satisfy few but himself. His was a solitary, contemplative art that has been all but lost amid the contrived derring-do of adventure-based reality television.

The only child of an English father and a Bulgarian mother, John Fairfax was born on May 21, 1937, in Rome, where his mother had family; he scarcely knew his father, who worked in London for the BBC.

Seeking to give her son structure, his mother enrolled him at 6 in the Italian Boy Scouts. It was there, Mr. Fairfax said, that he acquired his love of nature — and his determination to bend it to his will.

On a camping trip when he was 9, John concluded a fight with another boy by filching the scoutmaster’s pistol and shooting up the campsite. No one was injured, but his scouting career was over.

His parents’ marriage dissolved soon afterward, and he moved with his mother to Buenos Aires. A bright, impassioned dreamer, he devoured tales of adventure, including an account of the voyage of Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo, Norwegians who in 1896 were the first to row across the Atlantic. John vowed that he would one day make the crossing alone.

At 13, in thrall to Tarzan, he ran away from home to live in the jungle. He survived there as a trapper with the aid of local peasants, returning to town periodically to sell the jaguar and ocelot skins he had collected.

He later studied literature and philosophy at a university in Buenos Aires and at 20, despondent over a failed love affair, resolved to kill himself by letting a jaguar attack him. When the planned confrontation ensued, however, reason prevailed — as did the gun he had with him.

In Panama, he met a pirate, applied for a job as a pirate’s apprentice and was taken on. He spent three years smuggling guns, liquor and cigarettes around the world, becoming captain of one of his boss’s boats, work that gave him superb navigational skills.

When piracy lost its luster, he gave his boss the slip and fetched up in 1960s London, at loose ends. He revived his boyhood dream of crossing the ocean and, since his pirate duties had entailed no rowing, he began to train.

He rowed daily on the Serpentine, the lake in Hyde Park. Barely more than half a mile long, it was about one eight-thousandth the width of the Atlantic, but it would do.

On Jan. 20, 1969, Mr. Fairfax pushed off from the Canary Islands, bound for Florida. His 22-foot craft, the Britannia, was the Rolls-Royce of rowboats:


made of mahogany, it had been created for the voyage by the eminent English boat designer Uffa Fox. It was self-righting, self-bailing and partly covered.


Aboard were provisions (Spam, oatmeal, brandy); water; and a temperamental radio. There was no support boat and no chase plane — only Mr. Fairfax and the sea. He caught fish and sometimes boarded passing ships to cadge food, water and showers.


The long, empty days spawned a temporary madness. Desperate for female company, he talked ardently to the planet Venus.

On July 19, 1969 — Day 180 — Mr. Fairfax, tanned, tired and about 20 pounds lighter, made landfall at Hollywood, Fla. “This is bloody stupid,” he said as he came ashore. Two years later, he was at it again.

This time Ms. Cook, a secretary and competitive rower he had met in London, was aboard. Their new boat, the Britannia II, also a Fox design, was about 36 feet long, large enough for two though still little more than a toy on the Pacific.

“He’s always been a gambler,” Ms. Cook, 73, recalled by telephone on Wednesday. “He was going to the casino every night when I met him — it was craps in those days. And at the end of the day, adventures are a kind of gamble, aren’t they?”

Their crossing, from San Francisco to Hayman Island, Australia, took 361 days — from April 26, 1971, to April 22, 1972 — and was an 8,000-mile cornucopia of disaster.

“It was very, very rough, and our rudder got snapped clean off,” Ms. Cook

said. “We were frequently swamped, and at night you didn’t know if the boat was the right way up or the wrong way up.” (They are pictured on their row in this shot by Mirrorpix.)

Mr. Fairfax was bitten on the arm by a shark, and he and Ms. Cook became trapped in a cyclone, lashing themselves to the boat until it subsided. Unreachable by radio for a time, they were presumed lost.

For all that, Ms. Cook said, there were abundant pleasures. “The nights not too hot, sunny days when you could just row,” she recalled. “You just hear the clunking of the rowlocks, and you stop rowing and hear little splashings of the sea.”

Mr. Fairfax was often asked why he chose a rowboat to beard two roiling oceans.

“Almost anybody with a little bit of know-how can sail,” he said in a profile on the Web site of the Ocean Rowing Society International, which adjudicates ocean rowing records. “I’m after a battle with nature, primitive and raw.”

Such battles are a young man’s game. With Ms. Cook, Mr. Fairfax went back to the Pacific in the mid-’70s to try to salvage a cache of lead ingots from a downed ship they had spied on their crossing. But the plan proved unworkable, and he never returned to sea.

In recent years, Mr. Fairfax made his living playing baccarat, the card game also favored by James Bond.

Baccarat is equal parts skill and chance. It lets the player wield consummate mastery while consigning him simultaneously to the caprices of fate.


February 23, 2012


Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Snow squalls swept across Pontoosuc Lake recently, obscuring the west shore. But they didn't deliver much of a punch in this snow starved winter.

Although you'd think the weather was the subject of this post, it isn't. The subject is two old men trying to pay to park in the lot behind Judy's restaurant in Amherst.

When I spotted him, my friend George was hunched over the automated toll machine, struggling to figure it out while another guy waited.

"Hey old man," I said before he had seen me. "What are you doing?"

First you had to punch in the parking space number - 170 in his case - and punch a little button that said OK. Then plug in quarters for the amount of time you wanted. And punch OK again. Sounds simple. The set up, however, wasn't easy to navigate.

I knew. I had already grappled with it a few minutes earlier. Two young men in front of me had spent a long time paying. Next in line were two young women.

"Do you mind if I watch so I can see how you do it?" I asked them. They didn't. That's when I noticed that the key to it all was the little round OK button.

So when it was my turn, my quarters clutched in my hot little hand, I approached the machine with some confidence. One at a time I pushed eight quarters into the slot. The machine kept flashing numbers at me, ending at 4:00. I figured that was either the time I was paid up until or the number of hours I had paid for. Either one was all right so I punched OK. I watched the machine's face. I expected it would tell me That's It. Or go blank. Or something. It didn't do anything.

I wondered if there was one more step.

"You think I'm all set?" I asked the guy behind me.

He looked at the machine and said authoritatively that I had rung up the maximum and was good to go. Must have been a native.

I think George took longer than I did. You know how old men are. You've been behind them in the check-out line. First they have trouble getting their wallet out of their back pocket. Then they have trouble getting the bills out of their wallet. They take so long people behind them start getting restless.

I know because I'm one of the guys who tries your patience.

At lunch George told me there's a huge difference between 76 - my age - and 86 - his. I don't doubt that for a minute. But when it comes to paying the toll, age has taken its toll on both of us. We're not too old, though, to joke about it over Judy's Wednesday special and a draft beer.

Back to the pictures: The tree in the photo below was shot in the same snow squall. It is on the south bank of the channel - the narrow neck of the lake before you get to the dam. I know. What's the photo got to do with the story?

February 21, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

The language of lights at night shot from a moving car is vivid and beautiful, if somewhat hard to translate. I took these photos coming back from the Catherine Russell concert at MASS MoCA Saturday night.

In the photo at the top, headlights of advancing cars veer in orderly sweeps to the right and left, where they do a frenzied dance as the Prius, with Babbie at the wheel, bounces over rough pavement.

Below five strands of light move in unison as if they were responding to the conductor in an orchestra - or a jolt in the road.

Below the car is making a right in Adams where Route 8 southbound switches course as it approaches McDonalds. You can see the golden arches on the right.


We're closing in on the gas station on Route 8 in Cheshire (above). I was very glad to see that station once when I was running low on gas, very low. It took 17.9 gallons to fill the 18-gallon tank - or something like that.

Above we're rolling up to the traffic signals at the Route 7 end of the Mall Road.

Heading south on 7 we pass the BP gas station (above) and Mr. Donut (below). We're almost home.





February 19, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is Catherine Russell, a jazz and blues singer, during a crowd-pleasing performance last night at MASS MoCA in North Adams.

It was the second time she had sung at the contemporary art museum and Babbie and I had been there that time too.

I'm no music critic so I'll let the Boston Globe, speaking of another concert, hold court here:

"Mining a treasure trove of double entendre-laden blues, vintage jazz tunes, and Tin Pan Alley gems, the native New Yorker brings a visceral connection to old-time material, delivering the songs as if they were written yesterday, just for her.”

Terry Gross of NPR's Fresh Air calls her "a terrific singer."

I think both have it right. Give her a listen.

The museum's Hunter Theater was transformed into a supper club for the occasion. It's tiered seating removed, the space was filled with round tables. The theater opened an hour before Ms. Russell took the stage so people could order meals and drinks.

We sat with two friends we ran into in the lobby, and were joined by a young couple - the back of the woman's head is shown here - enticed by our stage-side seats.

Ms. Russell was born into a musical family. Her father Luis Russell was Louis Armstrong's musical director and her mother Carlene Ray was a singer. Ms. Russell had a career as a backup singer for artists such as David Bowie, Steely Dan, Cyndi Lauper, Jackson Browne and Rosanne Cash.

A late starter as a solo performer, she told the audience she didn't cut her first CD until she was 50. Her fourth, Strictly Romancin', was released on Valentine's Day.



February 17, 2012


Photos by Grier Horner Unless Otherwise Noted/All Rights Reserved

This painting and I aren't getting along well. We've been in a love-hate relationship for a while now. It's resisting my advances. I haven't given up but I am starting to wonder if it's ever going to happen.

The affair started about six weeks ago and I've posted about it a number of times. The last was February 3. The first was January 3. In my painting world that's much to much time with the same woman. Hope this isn't reading like True Confessions.

I would really like to get going with a new one. The painter in me wants to love them and leave them. I don't want to live with them too long. And this has been way too long.

I'm having trouble with Haider Ackermann, the fashion designer. I can't get his slacks right. The pants and blouse in the painting are his design. I've redone the pants so often they must be a dozen coats of paint and glaze thick. I do like the surface the built-up paint makes.

Photo by Filippo Fior

I just pulled up this photo - not the one I was working from - of Ackermann's show last fall and I see that the color of my pants is all wrong. I was using a photograph with more red. While I'm not a slave to fashion, I am sometimes a slave to a photo. That gives me one way out: try to duplicate this shade. Or maybe not. Which way would you go?





Like rings I used to get from Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy when I was a kid, this painting packs a secret message. These are the stealth words, painted in such a dark purple that they are hard to see on the dark background. I'm keeping them that way.

What they say is this:

"I think it pisses God off is you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it."

That's from Alice Walker's novel, The Color Purple. Appropriate, don't you think.

The model, Nana Keita, is much prettier than she is here. That's another problem.


Back to the drawing board.



February 15, 2012

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is a photo of my father mounted on a black panel that is 72" x 36".  It is the second piece I have done of him in the series on my parents which I am now calling Remembrance of Things Past.

The title comes from Marcel Proust's seven-volumn novel of that name. When I had read one volumn, Swann's Way, I thought I had read the whole thing. I just learned on Wikipedia that it's one down and six to go.

The familiar title has given way in recent years to In Search of Lost Time, a literal translation of the title Proust gave it: À la Recherche du Temps Perdu.

The large print of my father came from a photo I took of a Xerox copy of a small picture in our family album.

Speaking of my family, I woke up the other night when I heard Babbie laughing next to me in bed.

"What's so funny?" I asked her.

"Do you know what you just said out loud in your sleep?"


" 'My parents must have been very proud to have such a special child as me,' " she said. That got us both laughing.

"Can you remember the dream?"


There was something else funny that I was going to tell you, but I can't remember what it was. I'll ask Babbie in the morning - if I remember.


This is the first photo blowup I did of him. Both have been messed around with on the computer. All the photos in the series have been printed by Tony and Scott at Massive Graphics in Pittsfield.








February 13, 2012

Photo: Monica Feudi / Feudiguaineri.com in Style.com

I think this shot of Gisele  Bundchen on the runway Saturday during Fashion Week in New York City will be the basis for my next Runway painting.

I picked the subject before it even dawned on me that this is the wife of Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady who lost 21-17 to the Giants in the Super Bowl.

When the 31-year-old super model uttered a few words - rather softly - in her husband's defense she became the girl who kicked the hornets' nest.

A loudmouth heckler was taunting her as she walked to an elevator to leave the stadium. He shouted that Eli Manning, the Giants' quarterback, "rules your husband."

After the model rounded a corner and stopped to wait for the elevator she said, seemingly to no one in particular:

"My husband cannot fucking throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time."

Then she angrily whipped the water bottle in her hand to her mouth.

She was savaged by many for taking a shot at Brady's teammates who had dropped the ball.

But the best comment I read was by Dr. Keith Ablow on FoxNews.com.

"Should Bundchen apologize to Tom Brady’s teammates? Of course she should. And they should promptly tell her that no apology was ever needed. People in love sometimes do irrational and stunningly beautiful things," Ablow wrote.

"The truth is that almost every man (or woman) wants a wife or husband who is willing to go to the mat for him — even if it sometimes looks over-the-top."

You can watch a You Tube video of the heckling and her response moments later in a quiet voice by clicking on this link.


Above Gisele watches the game from the owner's box. And below she leaves the stadium with Brady, who looks haunted in this AP shot.

Six days later Gisele makes another exit (below). This time its from the Alexander Wang show. And the way she looks, the way she moves and the clothes she's wearing make it obvious why she's been as big a star in her world as Brady has been in his.


The photo at the top of this post is actually two - one of the top half of the model and one of the bottom half. I did that to make the picture so large. Viewers on some computers may see a space between the two. But I hope on most screens it looks like one picture.



February 11, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

I think this photo tells the story of why I love to take long hikes on Pontoosuc Lake. It is just so beautiful. And it isn't uphill. But I've only been out on the ice twice this winter.

Many afternoons the surface has been slushy because the days are so mild. And then there's the slickness factor. With so little snow the ice is smooth and slippery.

Two young women took advantage of that one hazy afternoon this week. They were out there on skates and they were good. They were way out and it was hard to get a good picture. It was fun to watch them twirl and glide, moving effortlessly. Out there all by themselves having a good time.

Seeing them made me wish I could skate on the lake, too. I don't know if I can still skate. The last time I can remember being out there must have been 40 some years ago when Babbie and I took Shannon and Eric, who were just learning to skate.

We had smooth ice and a south wind was blowing. We skated up to the north end, then stretched a blanket between Babbie and me. It was our sail. With the kids holding on to us, we glided down the lake. What a great time we had.


Back to  a sunny day. Here the ice has buckled by the shore, forming a roof. I love the blues, greens and lavenders of the shaded side. It looks like a plastic bag is stuck to the sloping ice.




February 9, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner Unless Otherwise Noted/All Rights Reserved

With its new show Taking Flight: Audubon and the World of Birds the Berkshire Museum has demonstrated again that it can soar.

This ambitious exhibit was mounted by its staff, drawing on its own collections and borrowing prints from the Shelburne Museum, the National Audubon Society, Arader Galleries, the Chapin Library at Williams College and individual lenders. Maria Mingalone was the curator.

Before installation of its expensive art-protecting, climate-control system in 2008, the Berkshire Museum was limited in what it could do because other facilities wouldn't lend it their valuable art and artifacts.

But it takes more than climate control to mount blockbuster shows - by small museum standards - like Taking Flight and the memorable Armed and Dangerous of 2010.

It requires leadership and a staff with the imagination, knowledge and skill to dream up, put together and install displays like these. Taking Flight is fascinating in the way it combines art and natural sciences, making the exhibition much more interesting than if it had been limited to either the prints or the taxidermic birds.

(In the photo at the top you are looking past a golden eagle at the north end of the museum to the replica of Winged Victory at the south end, a vantage point suggested by Director Van Shields.)

The show casts a light on the work and life of John James Audubon, the artist and naturalist who devoted 18 years of his life to producing his monumental Birds of America. The book is a collection of 435 prints of every bird known in the North America in the early 1800s - including 25 species he discovered in his wanderings. Thirty four of the prints from the original book are o display.

It is estimated that 119 of his large folios of birds remain of the 200 or so printed between 1827 and 1838. Of those only about 11 are in private hands. In 2010 one of the books brought $11.5 million at auction. That is one of the highest - if not the highest - price ever paid for a book.

Courtesy of Museum of Science, Boston

In the portrait above Audubon is pictured with his rifle. He wandered the country shooting - and often eating - the birds he would paint. That practice that would bring wrath down on him today. But before the camera, it was the only way he could do his detailed renderings of the birds.

In a video in the main room, Great Barrington's Walton Ford, whose naturalist paintings with an edge also command exalted prices, demonstrates how Audubon pinned the birds to a gridded board so he could paint them accurately.

Handsome, vain, magnetic, he was equally at home on the frontier as he was in the the drawing rooms of aristocrats.

The painter was born in 1785 in Haiti, the son of a French adventurer and a Creole chambermaid who died soon after his birth. Audubon grew up in France but adopted America. He died in New York in 1851. For more on his life go to this PBS link.


Here's a shot of a fashionable woman wearing a hat that utilizes a real bird to dramatic effect. She is part of a video demonstrating how the demands of fashion had at one time threatened bird populations. Six of the birds Audubon painted are now extinct.



The birds and their printed doubles are mounted so that you can often look past the real thing and see its counterpart on the wall. Here a swan in a glass case seems to be in conversation with his counterpart. You get a better view of that illustration in the print below.

John James Audubon (After), Common American Swan, (Plate CCCCXI). Hand-colored engraving with etching and aquatint, by R. Havell, c. 1838. Collection of the Shelburne Museum.



While Audubon painted the birds for the book, the work of master printers was exceedingly important. These first edition prints were done by the London engraver Robert Havell Sr. and his son. Each print was hand colored by them - not Audubon - using Audubon's original painting as a guide. One of the engraved plates is show at the museum with the print - the reverse of the plate - above it. Aububon's original watercolors are owned by the New York Historical Society.

Reading a comment by Paul Graubard on facebook reminds me that it's a great show for children, with things they can do, not just see. The most popular among these is the table where you can make and decorate your own Bower Bird nest after watching that spectacular builder in action on a video.



Also at the museum are 15 paintings by Morgan Bulkely, a Berkshire artist, whose colorful, quirky, action-packed work lights up the Ellen Crane room. I don't think anyone could come up with a more clever complementary show to go with Taking Flight.

A reception for Bulkely will be held at the museum from 5 to 7 this Saturday. It is open to the public and free.

At 4, also in the Crane room, there will be an informal conversation with the artist moderated by Geoffrey Young. It is free with regular Museum admission.

Taking Flight will be up through June 17.





February 7, 2012

So here is the post I didn't give you two days ago because at some ungodly hour in the morning it disappeared and I couldn't retrieve it.

The actress is Melanie Thierry as she appeared in The Princes of Montpensier. I can't tell you why I was so intrigued by the movie. It got some good reviews but it was not a great movie.

Maybe it was the compelling, square-faced Thierry. Or maybe it was because the movie didn't glorify war. An old soldier who committed an atrocity - he killed a pregnant woman during a raid - and was so disgusted with what he'd done he quit the war.

I'll let Mark Feeney, a Boston Globe critic, set the scene:

"It’s France in the 1560s. Catholic and Huguenot are fighting to the death. So, too — in this sumptuous and sumptuously intelligent film — are reason and passion, loyalty and desire. Mélanie Thierry plays the title character. With her boxy face, smushy lips, and honey-colored hair, Thierry looks like a Pre-Raphaelite fever dream."

Roger Ebert is smitten to by the actress "who looks a decade younger than her 30 years, a classic heroine with a fresh, proud beauty."

Four men have the fever: The Prince she is forced by her father to marry, the rakish Henri de Guise, the Duke of Anjou - these three are cousins - and the aging soldier, the Comte de Chabannes, who as the prince's trusted friend becomes Thierry's tutor.

Henri, who she was engaged to before her father makes another deal, is the only one the Princess loves. And she has never tried to make the others fall for her. They just do. It is her undying love for Henri, valient in battle but untrue in romance, that makes critic Marcy Dermansky in About.com confess, "I often wanted to shake her, tell her to behave."

Here's the rake, Henri, played by Gaspard Ulliel.

Here's the Comte de Chabannes, Lambert Wilson, who is terrific, with Thierry, who's pretty terrific herself.

And here's the director and co-writer of the script, 70-year-old Bertrand Tavernier. I like to see old men do good work. He's fashioned the movie out of an old book, Madame de La Fayette's novella written in 1662.

Henri is the only one of the four Princess pines for the rake, who is also on the battlefields. Despite the warnings of Chabannes (who as her tutor and fallen in love with her), the Princess runs away from her husband to throw herself at her true love. Henri, however, has been anything but true. He casts her aside for a woman with better prospects.

Meanwhile Chabannes has died defending a woman under attack during the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.

Devastated by her double loss, Thierry has no where to turn. She foreswears love and is probably off to a convent.

Life as a princess hasn't been a fairy tale. Mark Jenkins of the Washington Post reminds us she is treated as a commodity.

In his last sentence Jenkins says, "The Princess of Montpensier features sumptuous costumes, grand vistas and swooning emotions, but it’s much too clear-eyed to be a romance."

The last sentence of my review - aren't you thrilled that I hardly ever write reviews - is:

Love, oh love, oh careless love...look what love has done to me.

Whoops, it's not my last sentence. This is: If you'd like to watch the trailer click on this.



February 5, 2012

This is Melanie Thierry, the star of the French film The Princess of Montpensier. I had written a post about that movie and Moliere's farce The Learned Ladies at Shakespeare & Co.

Disastrously - or perhaps fortunately - for you gentle reader the whole thing got blown away at 3:25 a.m. and I've abandoned that sunken ship. Maybe I'll put on my diving suit and try to rescue the thing tomorrow. Or maybe I won't.



February 3, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

There is a secret message in this painting. I think that's intriguing but I don't know whether to preserve the mystery or call it to the viewer's attention.

Below is the bottom right hand corner of the painting where words occur but in many lights go unseen. Here because I have a lamp shining on the canvas you pick up the idea that the painting contains words.

With the camera on flash (below) you can read the words. By Alice Walker

from her novel The Color Purple, this is the message, which seemed appropriate considering the color's prominence in this painting:

"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it."

The reason her sentence disappears, which you can see with the word God below, is that the letters are painted in a purple so dark it is almost black - as is the background itself. So I'm still thinking about the best course - leaving the words the way they are or bringing them out. What would you do?

The painting by the way is one I showed you late last year and have failed to finish. It is Number 14 in the Runway Series. The model is wearing an outfit by Haider Ackermann, the fashion designer who was featured in my February 1 post.

As for me painting with my fingers in the photo at the top, it is something I do frequently. But that shot is a put-up job for a start-up on-line gallery that has asked to represent me. More about that soon.


February 1, 2012

Alessandro Viero/GoRunway.com for Vogue.com

This model Abbey Lee Kershaw , wearing a revealing outfit by Haider Ackermann ,  may be the inspiration for my next Runway painting. I like her face and figure and the dark silver top and great gray coat. Not crazy about the color of the pants. Maybe I'll paint them the same color as the top. Or black. Purple? No idea what I'll paint in background.


I'm almost finished with Runway Number 13. Need to mess around with her face a little and maybe with the words on the painting. Number 13 is wearing a costume by the same designer.

P.S. I like her eyes and hair, too. And her cheekbones, collarbones, nose, mouth, chin, wrist and ankle.





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