Happy Thanksgiving 2014

It has been my custom to share some of my favorite art on Thanksgiving. While the paintings that follow are not Thanksgiving themed, they do take me back to my younger days. As a kid growing up in Huntington, on Long Island, we lived near wooded areas. We also watched TV shows about cowboys, and there were even small forts that were built in those nearby woods. So it is no surprise for thoughts of the west to stay with me all these years later. In those days, a good many films were produced that featured Cowboys and Indians. In fact hiking in the woods has stayed with me even as an adult.

These days, I don’t live in the west except through art. And here in Sarasota, Florida, there are neither hills or forests. We do have some hiking trails and those help somewhat. While I like horses, the last horse I rode was near Shenzhen in China. And it wasn’t that many years ago; maybe in 2008. So you shall see a good number of paintings that include horses. But that’s not all – some of the paintings will take you back to the days of the Old West, or others will be family oriented as is this holiday.

If you can remember the Thanksgiving holiday from when you were a child, you will note that those family gathering have changed. Families do get bigger, but they also get smaller with the passage of time. So thinking about those good old days will be good for the spirit. I have a good many paintings for you, so let’s get started. NOTE: Following the end of the text – there is a link to a video I made of almost all of these images.

I’ll lead with Of Many Paths They’ll Take by Steve Hanks. I don’t think I was this small when I started to navigate pathways. And I didn’t have a small sister either. But doesn’t this painting have an aura of wonder to it. We don’t know where these kids will end up. Nor do they know how their lives will turn out. As a companion to the above painting, Steve Hanks also did one (below) involving a walk down a different path and he called it A Path to Follow.

A Path to Follow Steve Hanks

Speaking of paths, beside those that wend through a forest or the country, there are pathways to people’s hearts. But there are also warpaths.

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Art Warms the Heart and is Food for the Brain

Today was a day that saw Germany go to war against France. As did Brazil against Colombia.

Not on battlefields that left bodies destroyed, but rather on pitches of green grass.

That's Mats Hummel (#5) who scored the winning goal for Germany

That’s Mats Hummel (#5) who scored the winning goal for Germany

I’m talking about the FIFA World Cup in Maracano Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, and the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil. Germany prevailed 1-0, Brazil eked out a 2-1 victory, with both of those teams heading into a semi-final match. What was destroyed were the hopes of France and Colombia to proceed deeper into the World Cup Championship.

David Luiz of Brazil just after scoring the decisive goal

David Luiz of Brazil just after scoring the decisive goal

There was more warfare today on another patch of green grass. This time the location was the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London. Roger Federer of Switzerland squared off against the Canadian Milos Roanic in the semi-final of the Wimbledon Men’s Championship.

Federer moves into the Wimbledon Final against Djokovic

Federer moves into the Wimbledon Final against Djokovic

Federer won in straight sets, and neither player lost any blood. Federer will play for the championship against Novak Djokovic on Sunday morning in what has been called ever since I can remember Breakfast at Wimbledon at least on this side of the pond. In London it is decidedly after breakfast.

In the USA, July 4th celebrates the anniversary of American Independence. While it is a national holiday and there are parades, and fireworks, some folks will be at work. But for most of the country it is a day of parties, outings, and celebrations. Did I forget to mention the NASCAR Race at Daytona tonight?It is also a day when many Americans, those not at the beach, or the mountains, or at work, do their favorite things.

Here, annually on July 4th, as well as another American holiday, Thanksgiving, I present some art works by American artists. These great paintings may not all be about patriotic fervor, or about activities you have ever done; but I believe they represent a handsome example of Americans enjoying themselves, or at least – doing what they do to maintain their families and their homes, and their hopes and desires.

I am going to begin this year with a painting by James Bama. It is called Waiting for the Grand Entry. Now if you aren’t sure of what The Grand Entry is, it is how every rodeo begins. In short a procession of the contestants and other riders that follow the flag bearers.

Waiting for Grand Entry by James Bama

Waiting for Grand Entry by James Bama

In this painting, Bama spotted Kenny Claybaugh as he waited at the beginning of a junior rodeo in Cody, Wyoming. Bama has commented that he was struck by the colorful combination of the yellow rain slicker, the dark glasses and the American flag. Incidentally, I did a post on James Bama back in 2009, for Thanksgiving. Check it out here.

In this next one called, Hopes and Dreams we have another piece of breathtaking art by Alfredo Rodriguez. This grizzled prospector, like so many before him, followed his dreams deep into the American West in hopes of striking gold.

Hopes And Dreams by Alfredo Rodriguez

Hopes And Dreams by Alfredo Rodriguez

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The 4th of July – A Celebration of Art by Steve Hanks

So on this July 4th, when most Americans are celebrating that most American of holidays –  Independence Day – what are you doing? I’ve just finished watching a German girl, Sabine Lisicki slugging it out with a Polish girl, Agnieszka Radwanska, on some lawns with white stripes on them. Of course, this is another traditional event of July 4th. They call it Breakfast at Wimbledon, and it is a kind of warfare of a sport called tennis.

I’ll bet many Americans, by the end of the day, will have been to a beach, or went to a ball game, went camping in the woods, or went hiking , fishing, boating, or maybe played some golf or tennis. Then again, maybe they spent the day shopping, going to the movies, prepping for and  then having a picnic, a barbecue, or even a buffet brunch. To be followed by watching fireworks somewhere.

Then there’s web-surfing, which is how you came to be here if you are reading this webpage. One of my traditions for this website, is a celebration of Art on another traditional American holiday called Thanksgiving. This year I am inaugurating the tradition for our July 4th holiday. We’ll be looking at the art of Steve Hanks who has been recognized as one of the best watercolor artists working today.

Hanks has described his art:

Art comes from a deep inner sense of direction.

It starts with a re-evaluation of your own life, from a search for the source of the impulses and mystery of it all. I think of myself as an emotional realist. Emotion is what I want to portray. Realism is just my way of doing it.

Personally, I love Hank’s art. This is not the first time I’ve featured art by Steve Hanks on my pages – just the first time I’ve done so on July 4th. In this post, I will present a number of works by Hanks that appeal to me. There will be some quotes from Hanks about the particulars of some of the paintings as well as my own reactions.

Let’s lead with Reflecting on Indian Beach.


Hanks: “There is a big difference between the beaches of the Northern Pacific Coast and those down in Southern California. The surf rolls in over long shallow flats. The waves pound and boil for great distances, creating in the air  a thick moisture. This subtly diffuses the light creating an atmosphere palatably different from that on the beaches farther south.

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Happy Thanksgiving – 2012

As has been my custom on the Thanksgiving holiday, not only do we give thanks for everything we have, but I like to share works of art with you. Sometime the paintings have a theme to them, and other times they have been included just for being both masterful and magnificent treats to look at.

For Thanksgiving in 2009, I covered the art of James Bama, an American artist born in 1926. As a younger man he was an illustrator, but he moved to the west and began a second career. His works are most often described as photo-realistic. I love his work, and he was my first choice for a Thanksgiving tribute. You can find my post on Bama here: Happy Thanksgiving – 2009.

in 2010, I mixed the modern with past with regard to the subjects. The artists however, are definitely in the present. I went with Steve Hanks and Alfredo Rodriguez, Tim Cox, and Martin Grelle. It was an eclectic mix of trappers and hunters, frontiersman and Indians, and people caught up in the Gold Rush of the mid 19th century. Steve Hanks was included for the sheer beauty of his famed watercolor paintings. That post can be found here: Thanksgiving 2010.

Last year, I focused on a single artist – Robert Duncan. Duncan’s works bring memories of when we were children. It was a kinder and gentler world when I was a kid, and Duncan’s works capture the essence of those innocent days. Though I didn’t grow up on farm, there were farms nearby. The paintings are displayed in a video accompanied by the classic music, Sunshine on My Shoulder, by John Denver. You can find this post here: Happy Thanksgiving 2011.

This year, I’ve decided to bring forth, in honor of Thanksgiving, a number of paintings made by a number of different artists. I hope you will enjoy these works as much as I do.

Leading off we have a quartet of great pieces of art by Alfredo Rodriguez. While these paintings are not specific to the holiday of Thanksgiving, they do represent how the artist feels about being grateful, and appreciative. The first one (above) is called They Are Coming Duke. A man and his dog are watching for the arrival of their family. Note the continuity of the stripes on his pants despite the folds and creases, and the intricate work done for the dog’s fur. Below, a lonely old-timer prepares his food. This one is called First Meal of the Day. I love the rich color of his shirt, the hanging powder horn, and his gun belt which seems awfully close to the fire.

Directly above we have a third classic by Alfredo Rodriguez. He calls this one Counting His Blessings. As you can see, this isn’t about food, instead we have an old prospector who has just discovered that his panning for gold has brought for some dividends. Is it the same prospector as the one in First Meal of the Day? Might be. While you ponder that – check out the wear and tear on his boots. The last Alfredo Rodriguez painting (below) is called Grateful Hearts.  This one portrays simple homesteaders about to sit down for a meal of a cooked bird.

Next out of the chute is a portrait. The (above) painting is called The Pearl of Sante Fe.  The artist – Carrie Ballantyne. As soon as I saw it, I knew that it would have to be, make that – must be – included in this Thanksgiving post. There’s something about the way the hat, the braid, the scarf, the drop earring, and the woman’s expression that just captivates. Note the lack of a background.

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Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

In America today, we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. As has been my custom for a few years, on this day I offer my thanks to the explorers, pioneers, settlers, and frontiersmen and women, who long ago sailed across the seas and then trekked overland to build their futures in the land we call America.

While many of us will spend today watching football, and then carving a roast turkey and sharing a meal with our families, like the family to the left in the classic Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving painting from 1943 …

… we can be thankful for this day off from our work. But we are fortunate that there are many others who will do their jobs today to make our holiday enjoyable while we give thanks.

On this day I set aside my film reviews and my looks at Japanese bikini beauties which are my usual topics. But my way to say thanks is to share some beautiful art with you. On this day, I offer a look at some of our best artists who portray both the Old West as well as the modern day West of America. Though many of us live and work in cities, there is the charm and the allure of living in the west where there are more opportunities to see trees and mountains, wild life, and much of the bounty that nature provides us with. Let’s get started.

Steve Hanks - Road Less Traveled

Our first artist for today is Steve Hanks. He has been called the best American watercolorist. His topics are often women and children, but he has also been drawn to the sea shore. Rather than simply conveying a specific message in each painting, Hanks gives us a chance to explore our own memories and emotions. Hanks describes his works:

“My paintings speak to the vulnerability that we all feel from time to time. They evoke nostalgia, transporting us back in time. All art is an escape to somewhere you want to be or a feeling you want to have. People see different things in my paintings because we all have different backgrounds and feelings.”

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