“Yearning” – finishing touches video

Every painting eventually gets to a point that I call the “signed and staring at it” phase. More often than not, I’ll tweak something before I call it “done.”

I thought this one (“Yearning,” soft pastel on La Carte, 24x36cm) was finished, but I worked on it for another hour or so the next day. It turned out to be a good choice. This video condenses about 23 minutes’ worth of that painting time down to less than five. Turn on the sound to listen to my instrumental piece “Dawn” while you watch all the scribbling and scratching.

Check it out!

About “Mood”

About “Mood”


Oil painting by Terry Allen Jones, used by permission

A painting that artist Terry Allen Jones posted on Facebook (above) sparked a discussion on “mood” that made me think. I had mentioned that I loved the juicy paint, and that I’d found the mood interesting. Terry thanked me and followed up by saying: “Mood is hardest, don’t you think?”

Hmm, I thought: yes, it can be. Then he said the following:

“It isn’t something I try to do, do you? If it’s there it doesn’t come out on purpose. Right? I’m thinking of Don [Gardi]’s pastels.”

That really got me thinking.

Abstract paintings by artists such as Don Gardi, Pirkko Mäkelä-Haapalinna, Casey Klahn, William Wray, Laura Pollak and Arlene G. Richman–among others–are delightful puzzles to me. I marvel at the artist’s ability to evoke emotions with shape/color/line/value that may or may not have any direct correlation to actual objects! I would love to have a long conversation with these folks about the _intention_ with which they approach a given painting.

I, personally, have become increasingly intentional about the mood and emotion I want to convey. Back when I started drawing and painting seriously, my paramount intention was to get the details “right.” Now, all aspects of the painting are consciously chosen and rendered to express my _response_ to a momentary view or vision, even if I cannot verbally articulate it (which often I cannot until the painting is done). So, for me, the mood is definitely “on purpose.”

Okay, that turned out to be a long answer to a short question. Many thanks to Terry Allen Jones for asking it! I enjoyed thinking about this.


“The Necromancer’s Daughter” – Point Lobos, CA – Pastel on MingART Premium, 4.4×7.1″/11.2×18 cm

A Dozen Pastels From One Trip

A Dozen Pastels From One Trip

As I write this, it’s been 19 days since we got back from China. In the 8 days we were there, I took almost 3,000 photos. No wonder: the places we hiked in Chongqing and Hubei were classic Chinese landscape. I was so inspired that I couldn’t wait to start painting. I set an arbitrary goal of “10-12 paintings” from this trip. I just finished the twelfth painting this afternoon. What a journey, both on foot, and artistically! I feel so grateful to have spent time in such places, and great joy at being able to bring that experience to the artwork! It’s been quite an adventure, on both counts!

Below is a quick collage of the dozen paintings (not to scale). You can see these as individual paintings in the gallery on the Landscape>Pastel page here.

A Dozen Pastel Paintings From our 8-Day Trip to China - May, 2018

A dozen  pastel paintings done in 19 days, after our trip to China in May, 2018.

Poem: “The Last of the Lukewarm Tea”


“The Last of the Lukewarm Tea”

By Mark Ivan Cole

(c) 2018 Mark Ivan Cole

No finer ship
Ever sailed the slip
With a prouder crew than she,
And no other schooner
Ever foundered sooner
Than The Last of the Lukewarm Tea.

Aye, she lost all sails
In a hungry gale
On the waves of an angry sea.
Tho’ we lashed each plank,
We almost sank
With The Last of the Lukewarm Tea.

She came to grief
On the barrier reef
By the gods’ and the winds’ decree.
To the sea we were cast
With the shattered mast
Of The Last of the Lukewarm Tea.

Aye, the men who clung
Slipped away, each one;
We were five, then four, then three,
Till I and you
Were the only two
From The Last of the Lukewarm Tea.

Nigh sixty-odd years
Since we faced those fears,
Awash in the brine of the sea.
And in all those years
We have shed no tears
For The Last of the Lukewarm Tea.

But as this cold day wanes,
We take our canes
And our aches and pains
Down the winding lanes
Till we reach the shore
Where we kneel once more
And embrace again
Like we did back then.

And when this setting sun
Says the day is done,
We trundle back
Up that well-worn track.
Then I and you—
As we always do
When the day is through—
We make tea for two.

We fill the pot,
Brew it nice and hot,
With a cup for you and for me,
And we scald our tongues
For the men who clung
To the shattered mast
To the very last
Of The Last of the Lukewarm Tea.