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Building a new website is not my idea of fun.

Eric Ortega

However, revisiting paintings and drawings created over the last few decades has turned out to be both entertaining and enlightening.  I am surprised by the work that still makes my heart sing, like the portrait of Eric Ortega.  I am also surprised by the work I thought was so splendid and I now see as quite dreadful.

Maybe I should create a new website every five years to rediscover where, as an artist, I’ve been and where I want to be going.

I just pushed the button to publish the new site as well as redirect my domain name chriscarterart.com to the new site.  It can take up to twenty four hours for the links to work.  Please let me know if you have any trouble loading pages.  All feedback is welcome.  The direct link to the GoDaddy site is chriscarterartist.com.  By tomorrow, both should get you to the same place.

Painting:  Oil painting portrait of dancer, Eric Ortega

Posting this image after returning from Robert Wood Johnson Hospital is oxymoronic, yet in many ways quite appropriate, though only a very few, older folks might understand.

Pumpkin Disguised as Female Nude

The phone rang at 2 pm….

Sad news.

I stopped working on my new website and drove to the hospital.  KLA and I met when we were eleven years old.  Our friendship was sporadic, but true.  As I sat holding her hand, alone for an hour, I focused on the better memories.  I let go of her hand to draw her … a drawing I will never post.  I held her hand again.  When the nurse asked me leave, I said bid farewell.

The plug will be pulled at 5 pm tomorrow evening.

She would have liked this post.  She was an amazing photographer who lost track of the path she once walked.

Image: Watercolor and pastel

I keep slipping further behind on my Daily Paintworks Challenges.  My personal muse is screaming at me for attention, especially when I have so little time.

Broccoli, oil on wood panel

I am letting go of my commitment to the Daily Paintworks Challenge and embracing the Daily Chris Carter Challenge.  I will continue to check in the DPW Challenge, but I will skip the ones that require me to work from a photograph.  I like working from life and life is too short to paint from photographs if I can avoid it.

Today I said goodby to “Hecate”.  I don’t often barter these days, but I was swept off my feet by a black and white photograph by Brad Browne, “Before the Sermon”. (It’s the one featured on his web site main page.  It now hangs on my wall, thanks to “Hecate”.  I am glad that painting has a good home.  It is one that is quite special to me.

Hecate the Moon Goddess

Title: Hecate
Dimensions: 22″ x 30″

Hecate is known as the Moon Goddess or Queen of the Night. She is also a Triple Goddess. The Triple Goddess represents the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. The maiden is both innocent and a seductress. The Mother is fertile and strong, able to nourish the emotional needs of her children while also protecting them physically. The Crone is wise and skilled at healing body, soul and spirit. Her guise as Maiden and Mother are often forgotten.

After searching, without luck, for an apartment in Boulder, CO that would allow dogs and wasn’t in a basement, Michael Vergalla and I headed back East to New Jersey. The year was 1977

Pulaski Street, South Plainfield, NJ

When I first saw this sketch in one of my old sketchbooks, I thought it was the little house Michael and I rented at the end of Pulaski Street.  Now that I look at it again, I realize it is the house next door to the one we rented.  Our landlord owned both houses.  My neighbor and I were given permission to dig up some of the yard between the two houses for vegetable gardens.  My neighbor fenced his garden to keep the rabbits out.  I planted marigolds all around mine, for the same reason.  The marigolds worked and the fence didn’t.

This drawing is in the sketchbook that is in line to be the next completed sketchbook.  Thirty-seven pages to go.  The first entry is October 10, 1974.  I lived in the 2000 square foot attic, the seventh floor,of a warehouse in the North End of Boston, around the corner from Haymarket Square ( just prior to the beginning of the renovations).  Seven flights of stairs was a lot of steps to carry my bike and paints up and down every day.

The last entry is a page of ink sketches I did on Opening Day of the Green Brook Little League, April 17, 1994.

Pencil sketch using full range of value scale.

Sitting in the front row, six feet away from Tom Waits as he sang and played the piano at the Passim Coffeehouse in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I scribbled this pencil sketch.  It was November 10, 1974 and it was my first experience of drawing a musician during a performance.

Tom Waits, Passim Coffeehouse, 1974

Nine years ago I gave this little sketch to the owners of the gallery that was representing my work.  It was seen hanging in the gallery by a man who immediately recognized it as Tom Waits.  He insisted on buying it even though it wasn’t for sale.  He didn’t want a reproduction, so I agreed to draw a “copy” of the little sketch.  What a mistake!  The original drawing was done in less than a minute, inspired and guided by Tom Waits himself, sweat on his face, smoke spiraling up from where his cigarette rested on the piano.

Three and a half hours of struggling to be expressive with my pencil and re-capture the magic of a moment that happened two decades before resulted in a less than spectacular copy of the sketch.  Fortunately, the customer was satisfied, but I felt miserable.  I hadn’t drawn or painted “live” for at least ten years and I realized how much I missed those moments of bringing art and music together.

Though I have only this blurry reproduction of the original drawing, I am printing it and framing it to hang in the show at Connexions Gallery in Easton PA, a tribute to the moment that started it all, the seed that has grown into my greatest passion.

Tomorrow morning I catch a train into New York City.

Kathleen in New York City, 1969

In 1952 Kathleen lived three houses up and across the street.

Dad pointing out where the house would be built

My parents moved the family to New Jersey from Indiana in 1952.  I am wearing the blue snowsuit.  I had not yet met Kathleen.

Helping my parents build the house, 1953

By the time the seasons had changed and I was wearing red overalls, Kathleen and I had become friends.

Kathleen, June 1969

We had our ups and downs, as all relationships do.  Through it all our bond grew stronger in spite of the distance between us as we went our separate ways after graduating from high school in 1969.  Three days ago Kathleen turned 60.  The next three days will be spend together, laughing, talking, walking, drinking wine, eating chocolate, having adventures in New York City and celebrating life, love and friendship.

I find it valuable to look back at older work and analyze the color elements of the paintings that still have visual impact on me.

Portrait of Nicole, Watercolor Demo, 1985

This watercolor portrait of Nicole was done as a demo for a class I taught.  It was my first experiment with hot press watercolor paper.  My focus was more on the way the paint worked on the surface of the paper than it was the way the colors worked with one another.

When I analyze the color scheme I see that it could fall into the split complementary scheme that continues to crop up when I paint on Tuesday nights at the Todd Wolfe Blues Jam, Purple / Yellow & Red / Green.  The colors missing in this portrait of Nicole are Blue and Orange though they are suggested by the neutralized Blue Purple in the background and the Orange Red of the object Nicole is holding.  The strength of the color is in the intensity of the small color shapes in the foreground, the yellow, red and green.  The larger, neutralized shapes are the foundation and support for the bright spots of color, allowing the pure colors to come forward toward the viewer creating an illusion of depth into the painting placing Nicole’s face in space between the object she is holding and the area of the room behind her.  I am seeing this same visual phenomena working in the Blues Jam paintings.

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