Tag Archives: West Michigan Artist

MBTB Tasting Room Painting of the Month: “Dancing Through the Vines”



Each month, Michigan By The Bottle Tasting Room in Shelby Township — which has a long-term exhibit of my work in its main space — focuses on a different painting, giving guests the story behind it. The latest one is “Dancing Through the Vines.”

The story: “Celebration of life is a recurring theme in my work. When giving me advice, my wise mom, on more than one occasion, said, ‘Don’t take life, or yourself, so serious,’ and so in my typical fashion (I cant help myself), I took that seriously. Her words are something I have to work at, and remind myself of. My paintings help me do that: They are reminders to me to focus on celebration and the pure thrill of being alive.

“The title of this piece could have been many things: ‘Dancing to the Beat of My Own Drum’ or ‘Dancing Through Life’ or ‘Without a Care in the World.’ But I chose to put her in the vineyard, tying her to another theme in my work, which is wine country — another place for joyous celebration. ‘Dancing through the Vines’ is meant to remind us all of my mom’s sage advice: ‘Don’t take life or yourself, too seriously.’ Remember to take time to celebrate, to honor your own aliveness and the special people in your life.

‘She is created in acrylic, and her body has been collaged from my palette. I paint on a plastic that you can peel your paint off. The more interesting leftover paint — or acrylic skins, as they are called — end up as collage in my work, as it does here. The wine label is also a skin.

“Now that you know the story behind ‘Dancing Through the Vines,’ today I raise a glass to you, encouraging you to celebrate the small victories, and your own aliveness. Cheers!”

Size: 20″ x 20″
Medium: Acrylics
Price: $320

To purchase this painting, visit the Michigan By The Bottle Tasting Room. To purchase other paintings, click here.

A Time-Honored Tradition



The words of my mentor, teacher and friend Bob Burridge continued to resonate in my mind long after they were spoken in my figurative art course today.

“What a luxury you have today, painting from a live model,” he told the class. “This is a time-honored tradition; it goes back to cave paintings.”

ImageHis description got me thinking about what a time-honored tradition it is indeed. Some people collect coins or baseball cards; I collect art books, poring over the works and stories of those who went before me who shared my passion for making art.

Think of your own favorite artists from the past …now Google them. They all work from live models at some point, both drawings and paintings — further proof of the undraped model’s relevance in art’s foundations and evolution.

ImageThis art history buff gets giddy just thinking about visiting the paths of my art heroes. Rembrandt, Picasso, Goya — they are all masters of the figure in art. So today, pondering Bob’s words, I felt a kinship with my teachers from the past and yet an owning of my own tradition, a journey that takes me deeper into my own artistic voice while nodding to the greats of art history.

Here’s the thing about life drawing or painting: It teaches you to see. The human figure is not easy to re-create; you really have to look, find proportions, study the shapes and spaces around the figure or negative shape. It’s a challenge that stretches you as an artist, makes you better by forcing you to look, and then demands that you have seen with each mark you make.

ImageThe figure, a human element in art, is not just exciting to me because of the nod to the past and the exceptional way it teaches you to master your skills. It’s about humanity. Mastering the figure is a way to enter a painting from your own point of view. By this, I mean: We are all human, so it puts the “us” factor in the art. As I continue my week of study, this will be my goal, to honor the life in all of us, the connectedness we have as humans. Here’s to being alive!