Sunday, July 31, 2016


"Trampoline" water color and ink 2016

Friday, July 29, 2016

Thursday, July 28, 2016


"chez Denis" acrylic on canvas 2000

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


"more fish in the pond after midnight"  water color 2016


"Le Poissonier" acrylic on canvas 1994
The story. 1994
I opened my eyes to a blue sky one Sunday morning, early in March.  It was the first sunny day in at least a month.  I decided to skip church and go make a painting in the market  I had in mind, for a long time, to paint one of the venders, le poissonier,  Monsieur Anglade.  He’s one of the most fascinating, if not the funniest on boulevard Brune.  You can hear him shouting two or three stands away.  His gravelly voice penetrates la foule.
I had first discovered him when I lived in Montparnasse where he has a stand in the street market  at Edgar Quinet every Wednesday..  Although I never bought any fish from him he generally recognizes me and says “bonjour” if not “Qu’est-ce qu’on fait ce soir?”
I set up my easel diagonally across from him next to a long vegetable stand. I showed the vegetable people my post cards and told them what I intended to paint.  I finally got the fishman’s attention.
“Je vais faire votre portrait.  Ca vous gene pas?”
He laughed.  I went over and showed him my postcards and told him again.  He was emu.  I took a can out of my bag and looked around.  A man who had chosen a spot not far from me to beg and a little girl selling daffodils both pointed to a spot where I could get some water near by.  My guardian angels were watching over as I began my first public portrait.
I was disappointed to learn that he says “Bonjour” to all the nice ladies that go by and if not “qu’est-ce qu’on fait ce soir?” sometimes “Qu’est-ce qu’on mange ce soir.”  More than one passerby noted that it was a shame I didn’t have an audio with the canvas.  In this case I agreed.
The other revelation was why fishmen yell.  They have to.  It ain’t no good the next day.
By one o’clock I was exhausted.  I told him I would come see him Wednesday at Edgar Quinet.
He said, “Oh!  You know I’m there.”  To think all these years I thought he had a crush on me and he didn’t know me from Adam.
I had gotten Monsieur Anglade’s expression with a stroke of the brush.  The proof was that everyone from the neighborhood who saw the painting later recognized  him and  said “C’est lui qui guele.”  And then with varying accounts discussed the quality of his fish.
 I went to the Edgar Quinet market the following Wednesday.  The spot I chose to position my easel was contested by a market squatter who was selling small leather goods from Pakistan. He argued intensely and insisted I move.  I told Monsieur Anglade.  He asked in a whisper, “Can’t you do it from the other side?”  I said “non.”  The sun will be  in my eyes.  Then he announced to the world that this was where I was going to be.  C’est tout!
It was a wonderful spring day.  The trees that lined the boulevard were speckeled lime green.  I painted his fish and raptured at being in Paris.
The outdoor markets are a paradise for artists.  The colors, sounds, smells inspire me more than any museum. Until my Monsieur portrait, I never appreciated how hard the commerçants work.  Mr. Anglade says he starts his day at two in the morning.  So I know what he does tonight.  He sleeps!


"The Cocktail Party" 2015 Ipad drawing

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


"Café Le Metro" acrylic sur toile 1997

Facing la Place des Abbesses and the Metro Abbesses, this family owned café was one of my favorites when I first arrived in Montmartre. It gave way to a blasting techno music nite spot and now is a bank. Credit Agricole. Quiet.

Monday, July 25, 2016


"la tour Eiffel - la nuit" 1993

As a debutant street painter, I was a little shy to paint the gargantuan  icon of Paris
so I slipped out after dark and took my gear to la Pont Alexandre. People still stood and watched.
One asked if I did "it' (paint) for a living.  I remember roaring back something and he apologized.
One can clearly see that it is "la nuit".


"African twilight" 2 water color 2016

Sunday, July 24, 2016


La Place Passy 1994

I painted the charming Place Passy in 1994 just before Luco the small grocery store on the right gave way to a MacDonalds and a high end fashion shop replaced the finest pastry  ever to disolve in your mouth. in a store on the left. But even before then...

I was into my third day of a meager attempt to recreate this fabulous morning market scene when I heard from behind a very high pitched voice,
"Avant que Passy était Paris,  c'était la Marie de Passy" (the town hall) I turned to see a very elegant elderly gentelman pointing to the pattiserie
"A bon!" I said. That's very interesting. He nodded and moved on.
Five minutes later an another old man arrived. He was somewhat bent and had an intruding shuffel.
He stood for sometime and just looked. 
Then I shared the knowledge from my earlier visit. "Avant que Passy était Paris, c'était la Marie de Passy"
He wasn't sure. I told him that a very old man had just told me.
He got angry and insisted that he couldn't be older than him. Impossibe.
Yes. He was. (to defend the integity of the first monsieur).
He shuffeled off.
In fact Passy has been part of Paris for the last three centuries so the monsieur must have been a historian or just pulling my leg. I think to this day the former.


"Picnic in the Park" 2015 Ipad drawing

Saturday, July 23, 2016

PAINTING PARIS and how it all began

"Chez Fausto"  1994

If some of my blog followers (over 44,000 to date) are confused when they see so many abstract water colors and Ipad drawings that are not Paris, I present a brief explanation of how my street painting began and why. 
Soon I will explain how it almost ended 10 years later.

Une bonne idée  1993

To go out in the street and make a painting on an easel with the whole world watching was never one of my great fantasies.  True, I had made some charming outdoor sketches of New York townhouses, and even Trinity Church when I was working down on Wall Street.  That was before I became “professional”.  That was before I left ITT.  I enrolled in art school just when the flower children were getting home from Woodstock.  It was the “do your own thing” era and I was gonna do it.
Through Bruce Dorfman at The Art Students’ League my eyes were opened to the abstract.  “Easel painting is no longer relevant,” he said as if it were gospel, and I was a believer.
I was still painting from imagination years later when photo-realism was à la mode.  I loved Paul Klee and it showed!
Then, how did this turn-about happen?  It certainly wasn’t by  reflection, contemplation or desire.  The grace of God maybe.
I had just gotten the bad news that my pay from Education National would be delayed a month.  It was, they explained, “an oversight.”  I was already down 200 francs on my bank account after writing a check to EDF for 700 to keep the lights on.  That normally took four days to clear.  Colmbani was on my back for the rent.  I promised him sans faute the end of the month.  I was in trouble.
In a trance-like state I walked to Picola Italia on the rue de Vouillé.  Fausto, a friend, and the owner, used to give me a good deal – 30 francs for a plate of pasta and a small jug of bad wine.  He had been a good collector of my work when he was still a waiter at Montparnasse.  Now, like all the French commerçants, he complained constantly.
I sat there in quiet anguish as he strolled around doing magic tricks for his clientèle.  The waiter had just served one of Fausto’s special dishes – pizza aux escargots – with the shells!  As always it made everyone around laugh.  He looked my way  with a self approving nod.
“I think I’ll make a painting of your restaurant tomorrow.”  I replied chin up and doe eyed, as if the idea had just occurred to me.
C’est une bonne idée.”     He responded politely.
There was hope.

My portable easel, the nuts and bolts

I woke up the next morning with a mission in mind.  I took Ruby for a spin around the block and a café visit.  She’d get a chance to fait la belle for some sugar and watch other dogs go by.  When I got back, I did an inventory of my acrylic supplies.  I took the bus to Montparnasse with an already perforated Metro ticket.
Maison Gattegno, on the rue de la Grande Chaumière, is one of the oldest art supply stores in Paris.  It’s a family business.  The familiarity of walking in there always makes me feel like I’m part of something important.  I checked out the portable easels.  Luckily they were on sale – 195 francs.  I got a couple of tubes of acrylic, a small canvas and two bristle brushes.  I made out a check and before handing it over, asked if they could hold it for two weeks.
Mais bien sûr.”
Zone de texte: scandaleuse
I was off to a good start.

I got to Fausto’s just as he was setting up the café for lunch.  I fiddled around with the nuts and bolts of my new found toy hoping he wouldn’t see me.  An artist for 25 years not knowing how to set up a portable easel is a honte if not embarassing.  I was almost ready to begin.  I went across the street and asked Fausto for a can of water for rinsing my brushes.  He was flattered that I was painting his restaurant  my motive, I thought, was not an issue.
I worked on it for a couple of hours.  It had a nice flavor.  Surprisingly, the difference between making a figurative painting or an abstract wasn’t a big deal.  The mental process was about the same.  I found taking the image in front of me and putting it down on canvas fun.
I didn’t feel too vexed by people going by.  I learned right off that the French, as formal as they are, feel no hesitation to come up behind me, while I’m working and chat.  Freely they discuss my style, tell me their woes along with a little history of the neighborhood.  Americans say that it’s difficult to communicate with the French.  Two keys:  get a dog and paint in the street.

Around 2:30 Fausto came over and invited me to have lunch.  I worked on the painting later than afternoon and returned the next morning.  I wasn’t terribly happy with it although I had lots of compliments from passers-by.  It’s prettier than the actual place was and is a comment that I hear often.

‘”That’s art,” I reply, but I don’t tell them that’s why I paint.
I returned that evening.  It was dusk and not a good time to work, but I was worried about the check going through for EDF and I wanted to finish it.  My banker was tolerant but up to a point.  In France if they pull the plug, you lose your privileges for ten years with all banks!
The moon showed its face and that was it.  I’d make a night scene.  Some phalocyne blue and a full moon.  Perfect composition.  I had to make the buildings grayer and work on the light coming through the windows.  Fausto came by for a visit and felt the same enthusiasm.
“How much are you selling it for?  I’d like to send it to my mother.”  He was a smart commerçant.  I was so afraid of refusal I said 1000 francs about $200..
“Okay,” he smiled.
“Let me put the finishing touches on.”
I worked ‘til midnight, then, crossed the street for some escargots.  “Hold the pizza.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Café L'Autobus 1993 acrylic on canvas

Here is a story I wrote when I lived south of Montparnass.


The Café L’Autobus is on rue Didot, just at the end of  street from my studio on
rue Pierre Larousse.
Two years ago the owners, bought the  adjacent shop, and expanded
their seating capacity from 16 to 28 seats. They raised their menu from
37 to 45 francs. (7 to 8 dollars)
“We want to upgrade our clientele,” Nassir explained.
I had been examining the corner all summer.  It was a little run-down,
but the shapes were interesting. I decided to give it a try. 
I set my easel up in the doorway of the hotel Citadine
which had not yet opened for business. I wasn’t more than an hour into the work
when  a certified nut job began making comments behind me. 
The comments turned to flaring insults.
 I decided to take a break. I crossed the street to the Café L’Autobus for a glass of wine.
Nutzo didn’t budge. He continued to make verbal attacks.,
now talking directly to my painting. 

Olivier, a forty-year old rock and roller, with a long ponytail, and a crush on me,
announced that he was going to have a talk with him.
Ton-ton, who runs the place and is already a fairly nervous man thought it was a bad idea.
“Ca va finir mal! Ca va finir mal!  Le tableau va tomber!”
 He was more worried about harm coming to the painting of his restaurant
than Olivier getting his brains knock out.
Eventually le provocateur  left and Olivier returned to the café. Then and there I learned the expression 
for knight in shining armor – chevalier servant.
The more I got to know Olivier, I realized there were other names that were more fitting,
but on this particular day he was my hero.
I  had just  begun painting early the following morning when I felt a little tap on my back. 
It was  Angelique, ma petite voisine  from the first floor . I had forgotten that
 I had   invited her to my apartment to give her a lesson in watercolors.
When she saw me from her window, she came running.
“I’ve knocked on your door three times!” she announced.
“I’m really sorry. I completely forgot.“ I pleaded.
“It’s all right,” sweet, but pouting, she consoled me.
“How about if I put you in the painting?”  Angeliue was prepared for a discussion ,
not a proposition.
I took out a tiny brush and painted a little girl waiting for the bus
with her mother and father.  She was very excited and ran home to tell.


Ruby chez la princess from