Tag: Blog

Flint Valley Pasture - Acrylic Painting By J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

The Artist Life: Getting Away

REFRESH AND REGROUP

Sometimes You Just Have To Get Away From It All

Every Year Our Church, Topeka Bible Church (TBC), Sponsors A Retreat, “Family Camp”. It Is A Time To Get Away And Spiritually Recharge.

My wife Raychel “Mad Hatter” George and I first experienced Family Camp the summer of 2021. After the pandemic stress of 2020 the retreat was a welcomed chance to relax and escape for a few days. This year was no different. After the horrors of our studio and home being violated and Raychel’s battle with cancer a getaway was desperately needed.

We arrived at New Life Ranch: Flint Valley in Colcord, Oklahoma around 2:00 PM on Thursday Afternoon August 4th. We would have arrived at 1:00 PM but there was a man hunt underway in Pryor, Oklahoma and all traffic was being diverted around the city.

We quickly found our cabin and started unloading our rental car. If you recall our car was stolen a day after the studio break in. Our car was totaled by the thieves, so we were grateful that our insurance policy included a rental car. After the car was unloaded it was time to relax. Raychel took a nap (she does not travel well), and I kicked back on the deck of our cabin to enjoy a peaceful afternoon.

Family Camp is alive with lots of Fellowship and lots of Activities and Raychel plays a major role in one of those activities; Children’s Crafts. Raychel takes over the Activity Hut and leads the Children in Craft Activities every evening after Worship Service. Raychel looks forward to being with the children and spends weeks before Family Camp getting the craft projects together.

For my part I help Raychel set up the Activities Hut and I assist her in keeping order among 30 excited and happy children. Otherwise, I am on my own to create my own entertainment and this year that is just what I did.

I took my portable easel/paint box with me with every intention of doing a painting outside while at this beautiful camp. I had recently gotten the easel/paint box and was excited to use it. The design is based on the easel/paint box that Van Gogh created and with Vincent Van Gogh being my favorite artist well…

There was a great view of a hillside and a pasture from the deck in front of our cabin, so I decided to paint my interpretation of that view. New Life Ranch: Flint Valley is located in the Oklahoma Ozarks, so every view is great. But this one intrigued me. I cannot explain why, it just did so I set out to capture it on my canvas.

The first day I worked on the painting for 3 hours and the second day I finished it in 2 hours. I paint fairly quick but could be faster if I was not so meticulous. I recently read an essay by a well-known artist where his opinion was that “unskilled artists spend too much time on detail”. I disagree! I strongly believe the old adage that “God Is In The Details” and I love the details. For me that is half the fun of creating a painting.

Sunday came all too soon, and it was time to head home. To try and explain how special the 4 days we spend at Family Camp would be like trying to explain the feel of the first warm day of spring; there are no words.

I have something special in mind for this painting which is acrylic on 16” x 20” canvas board. I have entitled it “Flint Valley Pasture”. What will I paint next year when Raychel and I go to Family Camp? Who knows? But I can promise you that I will greatly enjoy capturing whatever scene it is.

-The GYPSY-

We Forgive You Boarded Up Artist Alley Studio Window

The Artist Life: Picking Up The Pieces

When Your Studio Is Violated Do You Cry Or Do You Pick Up The Pieces?

On Friday July 15, 2022 The Artist Alley Studio Was Burglarized. So Where Do We Go From Here?
Broken Artist Alley Studio Window
Our loss at the studio to the thieves was $8,000+ but it did not end there. The thieves stole papers that contained our home address and a day later they came to our home and stole our car. So where do we go from here? We pick up the pieces. Nothing was ever accomplished by crying over spilt milk.
Ransacked Artist Alley Studio 1
Unfortunately two things severely affected our recovery from this violation. The first was an event called Country Stampede. This event is a very large event and takes place just down the road from us annually. Last year during the event someone tried to break into our back door at the studio. They were thwarted because it is a heavy steel door that is deadbolted and double barred. This year during the event they threw a no parking sign threw the front window to gain access.
Ransacked Artist Alley Studio 3
Shortly before the burglary took place the event, due to excessive power demands, caused a “Brown Out”. This is when there is a power surge and your electric blinks and shuts down for just a second. This “Brown Out” caused my security system to shut down. Because the cache was full on the receiver the system could not reboot. The thieves struck while the cameras were down.
Ransacked Artist Alley Studio 2
The second thing that hampered our recovery was no insurance. Our insurance company had recently dropped our liability policy because “We No Longer Cover Body Art Studios”. We were seeking out new coverage when the burglary occurred. So how have we addressed these flaws?
Ransacked Artist Alley Studio 4
First and foremost we have obtained a new insurance carrier. We have also increased the security inside the studio and everything of value is now under lock and key when we close at night. But most importantly we have upgraded our security system. We have new cameras with battery backup and all video is saved to the cloud. A “Brown Out” nor a “Black Out” will never have an effect on the studio’s security again.

WE FORGIVE YOU

We Forgive You Boarded Up Artist Alley Studio Window

Though it has been extremely hard to do we have Forgiven the Thieves and have prayed for them. We also pray that they will do the right thing and return those items they stole. We must have faith that God will touch their hearts.

We have picked up the pieces cleaned up the mess and the studio is in full operation. Should you happen to come across items that belong to us or you know who the thieves are please phone Detective Julian at Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office at (785) 251-2551 or (785) 273-2220. If you have information on the theft of our 2001 Lexus please phone Topeka Police Department Detective Division at (785) 368-9400.

Thank you for your help, prayers and positive thoughts. All are appreciated more than we can express. God Bless You.

-The GYPSY and Raychel George-

The GYPSY On His V45 Honda 2006

The Artist Life: Gypsy Meatloaf

The Recipe For A Big Life Is Full Of Small Moments

It was February of 2007 and the weather was 60 degrees and sunny in Independence, Kansas. Here let me repeat that just in case you didn’t hear me the first time; It was February of 2007 and the weather was 60 degrees and sunny in Independence, Kansas. I bet that if you think hard enough you will know what I did that day. If you said, “Ride your motorcycle” you are only partially correct.

I cannot tell you how it felt to put the wind in my face. I cannot tell you because I do not wish to explain it. Those, like me that ride, know what it felt like, those that do not ride cannot even imagine. My bike and I got re-acquainted with the road today. My bike coughed and protested it’s awakening from its winter long sleep but I soon had the cobwebs blown out of her. Soon she purred like a content lion as we hugged each and every curve.

In Riverside Park I saw a father blowing bubbles with his son. An elderly woman walked her dog along the road. Big horn sheep frolicked upon icy slopes in the hollow along the road that passes the zoo and all was right with the world.

When I returned home I saw patches of green within the yard fighting to force back the grays and browns that have dominated for so long. I went into my home studio and started on a painting that was inspired by my friend Jana. It will be outstanding when completed because it was inspired. I had been in a creative slump for awhile and it felt good to make my brush do my bidding as it skipped and danced upon the canvas.

I also did some cooking in the kitchen, real cooking, not Hamburger Helper. It had been awhile since I had felt like exercising my culinary skills. I had debated what to fix. I had thought about Spaghetti with a nice thick meat sauce and Asparagus patties (recipe courtesy of my friend Dianna), but I opted instead for something that I had not made for along time, Meatloaf. “What, Meatloaf again, that’s the third time this week!?” For you maybe but not for me. So I rolled up my sleeves and went to work.

I wish that I could give each and everyone of you a taste because it came out fantastic but since I can’t I will do the next best thing. I will give you my recipe so that you can make it yourself and melt into its rich and many layered fountains of flavor.

GYPSY MEATLOAF

Gypsy Meatloaf with Southern Style Collard Greens and Scallop Potatoes with Mushrooms
Gypsy Meatloaf with Southern Style Collard Greens and Scallop Potatoes with Mushrooms

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound of Ground Beef
  • 1 can of Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Chili, Cilantro and Lime Juice
  • 1 Can Tomato Soup
  • 1 small yellow Onion
  • 1 7.5 or 8 ounce can of Tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced Garlic
  • 2 large dashes of ground Basil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 sleeve of Ritz Snack Crackers
  • Pam butter flavor spray

Preparation: 

  • Peel and Dice the whole Onion into fine cubes.
  • Crush the Ritz crackers into an almost fine powder.
  • Drain the juice from the Rotel.
  • Combine all the ingredients, except for the tomato sauce, into a round oven proof casserole bowl.
  • Get your hands into the bowl and thoroughly mix the ingredients together.
  • Make the mixture into a large loaf and remove from casserole bowl. Place on plate.
  • Clean and dry the bowl and coat liberally with Pam butter flavor spray.
  • Place your loaf back into the bowl and gently pat down until it covers the entire bottom of bowl. DO NOT hard pack the loaf.
  • Place casserole onto center rack of oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Remove Casserole and drain off grease.
  • Pour the can of Tomato soup evenly over the entire loaf.
  • Cook 15 More Minutes
  • Remove from oven and allow cooling for 15 minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestion:

A large baked potato with real butter, sour cream, real bacon bits and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. It makes a perfect side to my Gypsy Meatloaf. I would also suggest adding Texas toast with Garlic butter to complete the meal. A nice Merlot goes well with this meal. Bring your appetite because you’ll need it.

This is a very moist meatloaf and very flavorful. You will taste it for hours afterwards and will not be able to resist the urge to sneak bites from the leftovers. You can make it dryer by cooking for an extra 15 minutes but I don’t recommend it.

I have other meatloaf recipes and if you like this one I might share the others with you someday.

It was a great day and I got to do three of the four things that I enjoy most in the world. And who knows I still might get to number four before midnight. So how was your day? I hope that it was at least half as enjoyable as mine. And if it wasn’t don’t worry because there is always tomorrow.

-The GYPSY-

The Arrival Revisited By The GYPSY

June 8, 1966

I SURVIVED THIS TORNADO

June 8, 1966 Burnetts Mound Topeka, Kansas

I was 10 years old and was playing on the front porch of our home with my friends. Grandma came outside with Lemonade for us children and stopped in the doorway, she was looking at the sky which had turned a sickly greenish yellow. She calmly said; “Children, let’s go have our Lemonade in the basement.” My best friend Bobby Boyce said that he had to go home. Grandma said; “Run, don’t walk. When you get home tell your parents to look outside and then go and play in your basement.”

Just as we got to the basement the sirens sounded. Grandma rushed upstairs to the second floor where she rented out 3 apartments. She got the tenants to the basement while my Mom got my dog Buster inside. We lived at 7th and Western, 4 blocks from downtown. When mom opened the outside basement door to let Buster in it sounded like a freight train.

As we huddled in the corner Grandma and Mom kept us children calm. They turned up the radio to drown out the outside noise. We listened to a reporter out at Ballard Airport describing the planes being flipped over.

When the all clear sounded Mom escorted my friend’s home. Grandma, who was the Manager of Pelletier’s Department store walked downtown to assess the damage from the storm and to see if the store needed to be secured. One of the tenants, a girl in her mid twenties, walked downtown to sight see against my Grandmas advise, and ended up being the first injury recorded at Stormont-Vail when she ended up stepping on a nail and driving it up through her foot.

In the days following the Tornado Mom, who was a PBX Operator working for an answering service over by Washburn University, put in long hours coordinating emergency calls for Doctors and emergency personnel. National Guard Troops escorted her through the devastation daily as she walked to and from work.
Grandma coordinated food and clothing drives through our church, First Church of the Nazarene. She also worked soup lines with the Red Cross and she urged other Pelletier’s employees to do the same thing.

Before the Tornado I had been taking Saturday Morning art classes at the Mulvane Art Gallery at Washburn University. But now that the roof of the Mulvane was parked in the parking lot our classes were moved to homes of the instructors. I still remember the unearthly feeling of walking to my art classes and seeing what had been being no more.

Our house did receive damage. A maple leaf blew through a storm window in the exact shape of the leaf. Our home got listed as the house that had received the least amount of storm damage. Grandma kept the piece of glass, leaf and article in a frame for years.

I do not think that there was one living soul who was a resident of Topeka at that time that was not touched by this monster in one way or another. I thank the Lord for those that survived and pray that he took those who didn’t into his Kingdom that day.

The days that followed were life changing for me. For the first time in my life I truly understood beauty from ugliness, calm from turmoil and peace from horror. My art in the days that followed reflected this. Even now, all these years later I see things in a different way and it translates into my art.

I have a healthy respect for the forces of nature and never take each day or moment for granted.

-The GYPSY-

“Art Must Evoke An Emotion In Order To Be Art. If It Only Evokes Indifference It Is Not Art It Is Garbage.”

Finger Paint Self Portrait By The GYPSY

The Artist Life: What I Want To Be When I Grow Up.

I HAVE MADE A DECISION

I have finally decided what I want to be when I grow up: I want to be an Artist. I know, I know you are asking yourself; Will he go mad from eating lead based yellow paint? Will he catch an incurable STD while painting ladies of the night? Will he go blind while laying on his back having paint drip in his eyes while painting a chapel ceiling? Will he paint a self portrait of himself as a woman? Will his studio be in a room so hot that clocks melt? Will he spill paint on a canvas and pass it off as art? Or will he eat a can of soup and think to himself; some fool will buy a painting of this can if I proclaim it inspired. Well the answer to all your questions is YES! But the sacrifices will be worth it because of the Zillion of dollars I will make. Now shut up because you ask too many questions and I have art to make.

Little did I know, when as a child, I finger painted my first finger painting, that someday I would finger paint a self portrait of myself. But as a child I did know one thing… I would be an Artist. While other children had dreams of being Doctors, Lawyers, Nurses, Firemen, Policemen, Scientists, I had a dream of being an Artist; a dream that would come true.

I remember; when I was in second grade, being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said, “I want to be an Artist, I want to be Famous and I want to be Rich.” I take satisfaction in the fact that I have accomplished all three. I am an Artist; Body and Fine. I am Famous; in Body Art circles and the number of people that enjoy what I create. I am Rich; not monetarily but in the things that mater. But I did not accomplish these three things on my own nor easily I had help along the way.

On this long journey I have had the guidance of God. At times I was too blind to see and to self involved to understand that he was guiding me but guiding me he was. He gave me helpers that at the time I did not recognize as helpers. Some were friends, some were family, I loved some and despised others. Yet all helped me on my journey to being what I declared at 7 years of age I would be someday.

I was always Spiritual and believed in God. I believed that Jesus was his son and died for our sins but my faith was not what it should be. Though I had a successful career, that career came in spurts and had more downs than ups. I always thought; “This is something I can do on my own, I don’t need help.” But I did need help. I needed God’s help.

Once I realized that without God’s help I truly could not accomplish all I wanted to accomplish things started changing for me; for the better. I renewed my faith and have been on the right road ever since. There are bumps along that road but with God’s help I am able to maneuver around any  major obstacles.

What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be an Artist, I want to be Famous, I want to be Rich but most of all I want to be eternally grateful to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that have made my amazing life possible…. and I am all that and more.

-The GYPSY- “Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”

Circus Posters from The GYPSY's collection.

The Artist Life: Rare Circus Art

Circus Art Is Created To Create Feelings Of Excitement And It Works.

The Circus Poster Hailed The Most Magical Time Of The Year… Circus Time!

I own the two circus posters pictured and a couple of more. Every time I look at them they make me smile and bring back wonderful memories of fantasy, fun and family. But they also represent so much more than that to me; they represent a colorful history and a captured moment in time.

As a child I would wander the downtown streets of Topeka. My mother was the Toy Department Manager At Pelletier’s Department Store and my Grandmother was the Children’s Department Manager at the same store. I spent a lot of time at the store but when I became bored the downtown streets became my playground.

I would walk the streets looking in store windows, browsing the book store for the newest comics and reading the fliers of coming events taped to store windows. When the circus posters appeared on the windows my excitement was untamed. The bright colors, laughing clowns, performers and animals rendered by skilled artists took my child’s mind into a world I wanted to live in.

Little did I know at the time was that many of my people, Romani, had been and still are circus performers. The history of Gypsy circus performers is a long one and maybe my desire to be part of it was something that is within my blood.

I would pester my mother and grandmother without mercy until they would say, “Yes, we are going to the circus.” I had daydreams of becoming a circus clown, making people laugh and yes… creating the artwork for the great posters that fueled those daydreams. But my talents took me down a different artistic path in my life though for a couple of years in the late 1990’s I did become a professional clown.

Where the circus started has been discussed by historians for years but it is believed that the modern circus began in the United Kingdom in 1768. Circuses needed to market themselves as they began to tour and their popularity grew, In the 18th and 19th centuries, circuses were truly the realm of magic and dreams.

Since circuses are often in a town for only a couple of days a sense of anticipation was necessary. The promoters of the circus this and so the circus poster was used to communicate the fantasy and excitement, and the momentary magic of a circus’ brief stay. 

Circus promoters used some of the earliest forms of aggressive marketing, like saturation advertising. The urgency was necessary to lure attendees to an event that only happened nearby for one day out of the year. Circuses are not strangers to a little bit of exaggeration and the circus poster reflects this. Headlines such as ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ or “Renowned Great Show”, written in bold type and colorful font were used to entice potential attendees. The circus poster used stylized printing techniques, with the use of lithography, which gave circus posters their vivid, colorful look. 

Circus posters capture the color of the circus, animal images and the carnival atmosphere of the circus show. Circus poster are remarkable artform and those who collect them appreciate the unique aspect of the art. I have collected circus poster images from all over the world and from all periods of time but by far, in my opinion, the American Circus Poster is the most colorful and artistic.

The artistic aspect of circus posters help correct misnomers and stereotypes around the circus. Fear of clowns or misinformation put forth by well meaning animal rights groups can all be dispelled by looking at a circus poster. Movies like “Killer Clowns from Outer Space” or Stephen Kings “It” helped nurture a fear of clowns. But how can someone look at the smiling and cheerful face of the clown on a circus poster and be afraid? 

Likewise the animals portrayed on the posters echo the actual animals of the circus. The animals show, within the poster, that they are well cared for and loved, so it is with the actual circus animals. American Circus animals, just like American zoo animals, are governed by rules and regulations set up by the Federal Government and closely monitored by the Humane Society of America.

Circus posters lesson the fear of clowns and dispel misinformation about circus animals through artistic interpretation and a high level of integrity. Some of the greatest Circus Posters ever designed were by Ringling Brothers Barnum-Bailey Circus. They preserve and record the history of the circus; animals, clown and performers. Circus posters keep the excitement and anticipation of the magic and fantasy alive.

It will always alive in me and I will always continue to smile and be uplifted whenever I look at the art of the Circus Poster.

-The GYPSY-

Passion & Redemption Comparison 1973 - 2022

The Artist Life: Passion and Redemption

PASSION AND REDEMPTION

I sat in my Highschool art class and stared at the 11″ x 14″ canvas board on the table before me. I squinted my eyes trying to make the image on the board look better. I closed one eye and tilted my head. No matter what I did I could not make the image I had just painted look like anything I would be happy with.

The biggest critic an artist has is themselves and this day I was ultra critical. I had mastered pencils, charcoal, watercolor as well as pen and ink but this was my first step into acrylic painting. As far as I was concerned I had indeed really stepped into it and the canvas before me was a stink I couldn’t wipe off my show.

“Is that Jesus?” The question came from Karla Weigman. Karla was not only one of the smartest students in my small Highschool of West Platte RII in Weston, Missouri she was also one of the most popular.

I was not popular, I was poor and an outcast. My long hair separated me from the majority of the other students in my class who were country boys and girls. I was a city boy and different; a fish out of water. This never seemed to matter to Karla and she was always friendly with me and always had a smile for me whenever we met.

“Yes”, I said, “I guess so.” Karla picked up the canvas and looked at it. “I really like this” she said. “You like it?” I scrunched up my nose. “Yes, it is very nice.” I looked at her to see if she was kidding; she wasn’t. “You can have it.” Karla looked surprised. “Really?” I smiled, “Yes, really. I’m glad you like it.” That was the last time I saw the painting until a couple of years ago.

Karla had found me on Facebook and Friended me. Shortly after I accepted her friend request she posted a photo of the painting on my timeline. My jaw hit the floor. I had not thought about that painting in almost 40 years. I had almost forgot that it had existed and now here I was staring at my first attempt at acrylic painting.

I do not know what shocked me more; the fact that I was looking at a painting I had attempted at 16 years of age or the fact that my friend had, in all reality, archived my first attempt and preserved it.

As I looked at this painting that had come back to haunt me after all those years in obscurity I resolved that there was something I must do; I must see this as the zero mile marker at the beginning of my artistic journey. I could no longer regard this painting from 1973 as something better left forgotten it was now so much more. This poorly rendered acrylic painting connected my past with my present and the impact was palatable and enduring.

As I studied the painting the first thing I noted was the effect I had attempted to create; the head of Jesus on the cross emerging from the blackened shadows. I remembered that I wanted to make a statement on how the sacrifice of Christ brings us out of the dark and into the light. If I had done this painting in pencil the effect would have been dramatic. However my unskilled hand with acrylic paint made the head of Jesus look misshapen.

The next thing that caught my eye was the garish pinkness of the face. I am sure that in my feeble understanding on how to mix acrylic color kept me from getting a Caucasian flesh tone which I could have easily have done with watercolors. I did notice that I was at least on the right track with the shading in the face but oh that all too pointed nose. Which brings us to my next observation; the hair and beard.

Like most people my age I grew up with “Euro-Jesus” the Blond Haired Blue Eyed Nordic God of Jerusalem. Thanks to the Medieval, Renaissance and Contemporary Artists of my age I just assumed that everyone from the middle east, Jesus included, were Caucasian and of fair hair and skin. Heck, not even the Romans who sealed his fate were lily white or as my painting depicted Peony pink. Now knowing that Jesus was Jewish and not a Germanic ideal I shake my head in the deception that was perpetrated on generations by artists like Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Cervantes, Raphael and myself.

Looking at the crown of thorns I shudder. If I had created them in Pen and Ink there would have been depth and detail. These thorns looked like a mass of worms that had been executed with a pen cushion and the blood, oh the blood. I could have created more realistic flows of blood using my Charcoal Pencil than I did with the globs of red that I splash on the face of my unfortunate depiction of the savior. I had to remedy my artistic blunders and find redemption.

Now you will note that I used the word “Blunder” and not “Mistake”. There are no mistakes in art, just as Bob Ross observed, only “Happy Accidents. To my state of mind this blunder verged on the edge of an 18 car pile up at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I resolved to create a new acrylic painting using the same subject matter, The Crucifixion of Christ, and put into that painting all I have learned since 1973 and all I continue to learn. The only question was; when would I do it?

To try to explain to you when inspiration comes for me to create the art I create would be like me trying to explain what lies beyond a Black Hole in space; impossible. Just suffice it to say that I had to wait for the inspiration to hit me at the right time.  That inspiration hit on Easter Sunday of 2022 five years after Karla posted the photo on my Facebook page. I set to work and documented each step of the process. As I worked I watched such movies as “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, “Ben Hur” and   “Jesus of Nazareth” so that I could stay focused for the task at hand.

I finished the painting and named it “Passion”. The name was not only for the Passion of Christ but also represented the Passion I have had for my God given Artistic Talent my entire life. I sent it to Art Print Express in Topeka to be digitized so that I would have an archive copy for future printing purposes. I knew, when I set out to do this painting that it would never be one that was for sale.  This painting would be a gift, a token of my gratitude to Karla Weigman for preserving my first attempt at Acrylic painting.

Now you might ask; if you disliked the original painting so much why are you grateful that she saved it? Because, without her preservation of my first effort I would have never had the opportunity to truly understand how far I have come on my artistic journey. I cannot tell you how many paintings I have created since that very first one, they are to numerous to count.  What I can tell you is that each one was a milestone along my road. That road is one that will end one day on this earth but until it does I will continue to create art and mark each milestone. My hope is that by the time I get to heaven I am worthy to paint for eternity next to the masters that have come before me.

On Monday May 23, 2022 I mailed “Passion” to Karla. She received it on May 25, 2022. It is now at home with it’s ancestor, “Head of Christ”.

-The GYPSY-

 

Andalusian Dancer In Cave Café At Sacro Monte" By: The GYPSY

Anatomy Of A Painting “Andalusian Dancer In Cave Café At Sacro Monte”

Acrylic On 16″ x 20 ” Gallery Stretched Canvas.

GYPSY WOMAN

She stands on the tips of her toes

Letting the music ease her woes

Centuries rest within her line

A silken thread strong and fine

Her Gypsy blood courses true

As her dance entrances you

Rhythmic beat of tambourine

Silver coin with twinkling sheen

Turning twisting left then right

Dancing by the campfire light

Gypsy woman of ancient way

Lover at night Mother by day

The road it knows her secret name

Her Gypsy heart will never tame

This painting was my last of 2021 and my first of 2022 having started it on 12/22/2021 and finished it the afternoon of 01/01/2022.
The photo that this painting is based on comes from the National Geographic book “Gypsies Of The World”. This picture has always held a fascination for me. My family migrated from Sacro Monte, which is near Granada, Spain, to Enigen, Germany in 1543 to escape the Spanish Inquisition. My family consists of Artisans, Craftsmen, Healers, etc. and were prime targets.
Romani businesses and skills are passed from one generation to the next. I cannot help, when I look at the photo of the dancer in the café, but think that perhaps my ancestors visited the café and enjoyed a nights entertainment much as the people are doing that I have depicted in my painting.
I have taken liberties with the photograph and have added my own take on the people within the café. I have also included, in the photos on the wall, members of my family as well as the family crest. Most notable is a picture of Berta Hummel also known as Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel. She is a distant cousin of mine and the Artist who inspired the Hummel Figurines.
There are many surprises and a multitude of stories within this painting. I hope you enjoy them all.

-The GYPSY-
“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”

End Of The Green: College Of Crows - Oil Painting By The GYPSY

The Artist Life: Topeka Spring Eve

Daffodils and Peonies lift up their scent from the garden below

Through the window their fragrance drifts poignant and ever slow

The sun settles towards the west drawing with it the last light

Shadows creep across the floor chasing the day from our sight

 

Soft breeze rustles the blinds, music swaying the slats and cord

Wood grain trails from wall to wall changing with each board

Mindless chatter touches the dusty air around the empty time

Coffee, tea and laughter fight on the screens electric vertical line

 

Images fade to a small gray dot as the oak box is shut off

Cracking, popping its protest as I exit the door of the loft

New leaves wave as I pass under their light green ceiling

Young grass dances upon the walkway blind and unfeeling

 

Houses of white, gray board and brick fade behind a tree

Structures of granite, marble, and stone loom ahead of me

Car radio blares out Broadway, a street in a city far away

As I step upon broad Kansas a street in this city today

 

Light glows green, mocking the color of Topeka’s Capitol dome

Autos suddenly stop their engines belching protest as I roam

Lines in a sidewalk try to jump forth and break my mom’s back

I dodge and weave counting steps so I may avoid each evil crack

 

Old people stare at women where men browse and children play

Searching for the news, fiction or just a thing too important to say

The smell of tomes, newsprint, candles, candy, ink old and stale

Fills the fluorescent glow of the interior where the world is for sale

 

Casper, Superman, Batman and Wendy reach to me from the rack

Richie Rich, Mighty Mouse, Flash and Spooky beg me from the stack

I flip the pages as the four colors explode into tempting allure

Nightmare, Green Lantern, Black Hawk, or Dot I’m just not sure

 

My choices are made held secure and close to my heart within one arm

The rest returned to their slant seat awaiting for the next soul to charm

Silvery coin to clerk, butterscotch stick in mouth I leave with my treasure

Turning towards home I direct my step anticipating hours of pleasure

 

The red and white machine looms ahead wherein the green bottle lies

Dime in the slot, Twist of the handle to hear the slide and out it flies

Cap popped off as the fizz escapes and tiny bubbles fill the dusky sky

Icy cold the syrupy liquid sharp and sweet burns the throat till I cry

 

In one hand the bottle kept intact for the two pennies it has earned

In the other hand the magic paper whose pages wait to be turned

Red sky turns purple as blue lights high above hum to dull glow

The cobbled walk tries to trip my step as it leads me home too slow

 

Upon my porch the round orb above casts it’s yellow and hazy light

As moths and their cousins dance and swarm within their endless flight

The brown, rusty springs stretch on the end of the porch swing chain

Screaming their protest as my weight settles in  the seat that I claim

 

Lost with Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey and Louie within a vault

I sail away until mother calls me to bed, until tomorrow I shall halt

But upon the sunny morning I shall again be whisked far and away

As Hot Stuff, Green Arrow and Lottie jump forth and ask me to play

 

And when the magic has been used up within the pages faint and torn

Again shall I visit the World News Stand where my mind can be reborn

-The GYPSY-

Gypsy Stew

The Artist Life: Gypsy Stew And The Perfect Day

GYPSY STEW AND THE PERFECT DAY

There is an old saying, “Any day I wake up is a good day.” I totally disagree with that sentiment. There has been many a day that I woke up that I just wished that I would have stayed in bed and slept until the next day. Fortunately however, yesterday was not one of those days. Yesterday was a “Perfect Day.” What constitutes a “Perfect Day”, you may ask?! A “Perfect Day” is a day filled with those things you enjoy doing the most.

For me there are three things in my top ten list of “Things I Enjoy Doing The Most” that I was able to do yesterday;

  1. Ride my motorcycle
  2. Paint
  3. Cook

For those of you that are nosey and are wondering what the other seven “Things I Enjoy Doing The Most” in my top ten list are (and not particularly in this order);

  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Volunteering To Help Worthy Causes
  • Yard work and gardening
  • Hiking through the woods
  • Exploring new places off the beaten path
  • Visiting Landmarks, Zoo’s and Museums
  • Watching a great show whether it be movie, TV, concert, live or circus

“But Gypsy”, you may say, “You didn’t mention tattooing.” That’s correct, I didn’t and I also did not mention building and updating websites. Both activities, though I greatly enjoy doing them, are my job, not my life. The top ten things I listed keep me a happy and well rounded person. Tattooing and Websites keep me fed.

I started out the day as I always do, drinking my morning cup of Java and answering emails. I then went for a cruise on my scooter and ran some errands all while enjoying the beautiful day we had been given. I then returned to the house and started a batch of “Gypsy Stew”.

Here’s the thing to remember, open air and the feel of the wind in your face and the road beneath your wheels wets your appetite making you hungry for all that life has to offer. That includes good food, why do you think there are so many fat

bikers, me included?! So I came home pulled out the crock pot and went to work;

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup Worchester Sauce

2 well rounded tablespoons chopped Garlic

1 cup white flour

1 tablespoon Seasoning Salt

1 tablespoon Pepper

1 tablespoon Garlic salt

1 table spoon Cumin

2 packages of Lipton Beefy Onion soup mix

¼ cup of cooking oil

2 pounds beef stew meat

4 Large stalks of celery

4 large russet potatoes

1 16 oz bag baby carrots

1 large onion

1 16 oz bag frozen green beans or frozen sweet peas

PREPARATION:

  • Combine Worchester Sauce and cooking oil into a large skillet.
  • In a 1 quart zip lock bag combine flour, seasoning salt, garlic salt, pepper and cumin. Shake well to mix.
  • Place ¼ of stew meat into the bag and shake well. Place coated pieces into the skillet that contains the oil and Worchester sauce. Repeat until all the meat has been coated.
  • Turn the burner under the skillet onto medium heat. Brown the meat stirring frequently.
  • Rinse and cut each Potato into 12 pieces each. First cut the potato in half then section each half by 6. Do not peel the potatoes.
  • Rinse the baby carrots. Do not cut them up, leave them whole.

Gypsy Stew and Homemade Sourdough Bread

  • Rinse and cut up the celery. Do not chop, cut into half moons.
  • Rinse, peel and chop up the yellow onion.
  • Combine the browned meat, vegetables, soup mix, chopped garlic and eight cups of water into a large crock pot. No not add the peas or green beans yet.
  • Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove the lid after 2 hours and stir once.
  • At 4 hours stir the stew again and add the green beans or peas, whichever you decide to use (I prefer it with green beans, makes it heartier). Stir in the green beans and recover.
  • Cook on high one more hour and then shut off the crock pot.
  • Leave to cool, covered for one more hour.
  • Stir and serve with cornbread (Jiffy mix is by far the best) and bring your appetite. Total prep time is 30 minutes and total cooking time is 6 hours. It is well worth the preparation and wait time. It will feed an Army at one setting or just yourself for several days.

After getting the stew started I went to my computer and worked on updating my websites and answered some more emails. Before long however I was in the “Bloody Vardo” (our art studio) starting a new painting.

Right outside the “Bloody Vardo” windows is a very large Lilac bush. Lilacs and Iris’s are my favorite flowers and the breeze was carrying the scent of lilacs through the window. I generally do not paint flowers. Oh I might add a flower here or there for effect within a painting but flowers is not my thing, I leave those to my wife Debbie who loves to paint flowers. But I was inspired so I have started a painting whose main subject is flowers. It is entitled, “The Scent of Lilacs”; Hmmmm, wonder where I got the idea for the painting‘s title. I will share the painting here as soon as I complete it.

Later I did my radio show, as I always do each Monday evening at 6:00. It was a good show and we had a lot of listeners. Afterwards I partook of some of my “Gypsy Stew” and watched my favorite television shows.

I ended the evening by working on “The Scent of Lilacs” a little bit more before calling it a day. All in all it was a “Perfect Day” and I hope you don’t mind that I shared it with you!

-The GYPSY-