Even Michelangelo Needs Advice

Even Michelangelo Needs Advice

Reprinted with permission from: http://painterskeys.com

Dear Artist,

The following is part of a letter from an artist to an architect friend: “I asked him for some of the money I need to continue my work. He told me to come around on Monday. I went on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and there was no money. On Friday someone else came to the door and threw me out. I’m discouraged about getting paid for this job.”


“The Creation of Adam” 1512
fresco 280 cm × 570 cm (9 ft 2 in × 18 ft 8 in)
by Michelangelo (1475-1564)

Sound familiar? The date on the letter is May 2, 1506. The artist was Michelangelo and the patron was Pope Julius II. The “job” was a three-story tomb with forty bronze and marble statues. Michelangelo never completed the job because he was never properly paid. Julius, who never got his big tomb, died. After two short-lived popes, Paul III, equally ambitious, took over. He got Mike to finish a ceiling. Then he told him to paint the end wall. This is the Sistine Chapel we’re talking about. Virtually a prisoner for four years, Mike applied what Thomas Craven called, “the compacted fury of twenty years in which the artist’s vision compromised with the world of fact.” This job was “The Last Judgment.” It’s been called “the greatest single work of art that man has ever produced.”


“The Prophet Ezekiel” 1510
by Michelangelo

We artists are often asked to do something along the lines of somebody else’s ideas. If the subject matter turns your crank, I recommend that you should say “yes.” You should never say “when.” Commissions tend to bend your mind into dimensions where you may not at first be prepared to go. This is good for you. If the job or the patron starts to make you angry, you should pretend the job is for someone else. Even for some higher power. Popes are only popes but art is pretty darned permanent. And another thing, it doesn’t matter who you’re dealing with, get a decent deposit.


“The Last Judgment” 1536–41
fresco 13.7 m × 12 m
(539.3 in × 472.4 in)
by Michelangelo

Best regards,


PS: “Poets and painters have the power to dare, I mean to dare to do whatever they may approve of.” (Michelangelo) “Art is made noble and religious by the mind producing it.” (Michelangelo)

Esoterica: The pope wanted The Last Judgement to be done in oils. Mike thought it would be better in fresco. “Michelangelo did not say either yes or no. He did not lift a finger for several months. He let it be known around and about that oils were suitable only for women, the rich and the slothful. He quietly had everything plastered over in preparation for fresco, and then Michelangelo set to work.” (Giorgio Vasari)

This letter was originally published as “Commissioned artwork” on November 12, 2002.


The Letters: Vol. 1 and 2, narrated by Dave Genn, are now available for download on Amazon, here. Proceeds of sales contribute to the production of The Painter’s Keys.

“If people knew how hard I worked to achieve my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.” (Michelangelo)

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in spring 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.

A work of art

Reverse Shopping

Reverse Shopping

Sometimes “Reverse Shopping” can lead you down a rabbit hole.

So I do this thing sometimes where I buy something and then I realize I don’t need it or it doesn’t fit my life/home/style and so I return it. I just returned a bunch of paint canvases at my local art supply store and got a $400 dollar store credit. It was past the date of the receipt so no cash back, unfortunately, but hey, I’ll have no problem using that credit paint supplies. Painting is just one of my passions – the other ones include writing and ballroom dancing and cooking and of course my husband, Tom.

Reverse shopping is fun, but it’s not just about the excitement of getting your money back or a credit. It also gives you that all-important chance at a “do-over”. The ability to make a shift and start fresh. And sometimes that can lead you down a new path. Returning those canvases meant creating more physical space in my painting studio as well as emotional and creative space in my mind.

We can apply that to anything in life. Sometimes you have to stop, take stock, let go, and shift directions. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that lately – the direction I should be heading in terms of my creative-business pursuits. Painting will always be a driving force in my life so that’s a no-brainer. I’m going to be doing another show later this year and hopefully painting a few more landscapes.

Other times “Reverse Shopping” can lead you to a new (out)look.

But best of all, “Reverse Shopping” can lead you in a new creative direction.

My writing is a newer passion, but certainly not a lesser one. I’m currently working on my WIP, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin. I had to apply my “reverse shopping” technique to my book. I stopped writing for a bit as I took stock of the book and I’m currently working out some new additions and possible directions. The “credit” I got back is some time to do a bit of extra reading in the craft of writing. Just a few refreshers to inspire me. And boy am I inspired. I can’t wait to finish the book and share it with everyone.

So keep that in mind the next time you buy something that doesn’t quite fit. Stop. Take stock. Reverse shop. Free your mind.

Love, Gail.

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in the spring 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.


Have I Got A Red For You . . .

Have I Got A Red For You . . .

Roses are red . . . We’ve all heard that little ditty numerous times. But have you ever wondered what makes red such a powerful color? Why does red make a bold fashion statement? Why does it look great as a feature wall in your home? Why does red pop on a book cover?

Amy Butler Greenfield’s fascinating book, A Perfect Red, traces the history and cultural impact of the color red. And guess what? It all began with a little red bug called cochineal. Vast fortunes were created and international intrigue bloomed as countries battled to figure out how to beat Spain’s hold on the trade of a red dye. So valuable – it was traded on commodity exchanges in the 17th century.

And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I love red as an artist and painter. I often weave red into my paintings, like the one shown here.


And if you’re curious – here are some other fun facts about red:

Threads of Wisdom 36×36 Oil Ingis Claus

Clever red fingernail polish names: Red Abandon, Little Red Wagon, Don’t know . . . Beets me, Wanted . . . Red or Alive. Life is a Cabernet, An Affair in Red Square, and Breakfast in Red.

Remember Dorothy’s beautiful, magical silver slippers from The Wizard of Oz? Not silver, you say? Well they started out as silver in the novel but when the new Technicolor process was used in the film version, the moviemakers wanted a color that popped—so, of course, they chose red. Ruby red.

Charles and Ray (Bernice Alexandra) Eames: Together the husband and wife duo created some of the 20th century’s most enduring designs. Charles and Ray Eames are known for their classic modern furniture and for their pioneering work with materials such as molded plywood, which they created by pressing sheets of wood veneer against a heated mold. Through this work, in the 1940s the couple developed their iconic LCW (Lounge Chair, Wood), which has been called the best design of the 20th century. The Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair Wood Base, currently sold by Herman Miller, is striking in red. Today, the chair sells for north of a thousand dollars and is made in the United States.

In 2019 as I finished my Unforgettable Miss Baldwin, I’m seeing red everywhere. My heroine has red hair, she blushes a pretty shade of red, her lips are full and red . . . Red has seeped into our language: seeing red, caught red-handed, down to my last red cent, red herring, a red-letter day, like red to a bull, red tape, go beet red, in the red,  red-blooded, red-carpet treatment, red-light district . . . well—you know. And of course, my sweetie Tom and I love to paint the town red,

What’s your favorite red—either in your home/office or in your personal life?

Used with permission, © 2014, Icon Magazine American Society of Interior Designers.

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in the spring 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.


Reaching for your own star by Gail Ingis

Reaching for your own star by Gail Ingis

Brite Brilliance Acrylic/Canvas | 16×20″

As a kid, my creativity took the form of re-creating. I took clothes apart and remade them into something different. I turned my mother’s gown into a dress. Mom was horrified. I also took apart radios and clocks and put them back together. Dad was supportive. I sometimes needed his help. I also began drawing when I was a kid. I drew faces and comic book characters, like Wonder Woman. Everything around me was an inspiration – to create.

Music has always been a joy. I love to play piano and guitar. If only there was more time in a day to create new things, including all the ones in my dreams. Then there’s my professional life as an interior designer where I photographed the spaces I created. The interior design school I founded gave others a way to expand their horizons. Currently, my  passion is writing and painting. Painting landscapes has been a way of connecting to nature and to explore the beauty of a sky, a sunset, sunrise, a body of water, a wave. I see a painting in everything, even a building, a portrait of my grandchildren, and a snowy Christmas tree. Everyone loves the creativity Christmas offers. Just look around you, it’s all there for you to enjoy and participate in. There are so many ways of creating beauty. Many of us have past times that give us peace of mind and help us to reconnect to our inner lives. Some of us love to garden, others love to cook, but what we all have in common is a desire to create. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Reach for your star and you will find your own truth path.

I love vibrant colors. And if there is one common element in my work, it’s color. Outdoors, I look for the sun’s rays of pink and amber creeping across the meadow, catching the magic hour when lights are warm and reflected light is bouncing in the cool shadows. Sunrise and sunset sweep the rainbow colors across the skies. Atmospheric landscapes have a beauty that often goes unrealized. Rich purples, yellows and blues on a rainy, foggy day are subtle, but magnificent. God’s heaven on earth.

Portofino Charm Acrylic/Canvas 18×24″

Indoors, I have a myriad of subjects to paint. I have photos from my photography then and now. I record people, places and things that are inspirational. It is thrilling to watch a blank canvas evolve into work-of-art.

Next week, I’ll be taking part in a special art show where I’ll be featuring two of my paintings: Maine Boats and Coney Island Bumper Cars. If you want to see more of my work you can visit my website.

Maine Boats (formerly boat bunches)
Watercolor | 10×14″

Coney Island Bumper Cars
Pastel & Watercolor| 10×14




Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in the spring 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.


HISTORY IMAGINED: Hank Dempsey, Villain

HISTORY IMAGINED: Hank Dempsey, Villain

Hank Dempsey (Villain)

The antagonist featured in Indigo Sky pens the driving force of his addictions

After realizing his need for drugs, alcohol and money was all he cared about, Hank Dempsey tried to run, but trouble met him at each juncture. His birth, life and death reveal his path of destruction. Addictions controlled his life. Part of my book is loosely based on the real life of Fitz Hugh Ludlow, syndicated columnist, lawyer, art critic and addict.

GI: Where did you grow up and who loved you?

HD: Dubbed Hank Dempsey when I was born on September 11, 1836, in New York City, I was the pride and joy of my father, Reverend Henry Dempsey, abolitionist and my mother Abbey Wells Dempsey. At six-years old, father considered me a bright boy because I had learned to read almost without help.

GI: What influence did your birth family have on you?

 HD: My father was an outspoken abolitionist minister at a time when anti-slavery enthusiasm was not popular, even in the urban North. Father was also a ticket-agent on the Underground Railroad where escaped slaves were safely transported to safe cities. The moral lessons learned at home were principles hard to maintain among my peers, especially when expressed with my father’s exuberance.

GI: How do you feel about your family, and your father who defies most of societies attitudes about slavery?

HD: I tried my hand at haranguing a multitude upon the subject of Freedom, with as little success as most apostles, and with only less than their crowd of martyrdom, because, though small boys are more malicious than men, they cannot hit so hard. These experiences inspired me to write about the ‘truth’ of freedom. Mother was ill for years and died when a few months after my twelfth birthday. My mother’s suffering may have brought out in me an obsession with mortality. She seemed to have an indescribable dread of death, as of the dying itself. Mother had an appalling sense of the fearful struggle, which separates the soul from the body. 

GI: Where did you get schooled?

My literary skills followed me into the Poughkeepsie Collegiate School where I had my debut as editor of the College Hill Mercury, a student publication that showed my creative literary bent at the age of fourteen. I was expelled for insubordination and eventually ended up in Union College, Schenectady, New York. I took some intensive courses in medicine. And in 1857, I had been an anesthesiologist during minor surgery and remember being asked by surgeons for my opinions on the actions of various courses of anesthesia. There, having been asked by the University President, Rev. Nott, to write a song for the commencement ceremony of the 1856 class, I wrote the Song to Old Union. I understand they still sing that song.

GI: What is your favorite occupation?

HD: Writing. I am known as an American author, journalist, and explorer; best known for my autobiographical book that I wrote in 1857, The Hasheesh Eater. I was also the author of many works of short fiction, essays, science reporting and art criticism.

GI: How did you meet your wife?

Leila Osborn Dempsey

HD: Leila and I met at the Catskill Mountain House, in the New York Mountains, when she was only seventeen. In the woods one day, she passed by my group and stopped to listen to the stories I was telling. I said that this was only for children, but the kids hollered to let her stay. Afterwards, I walked her back to the hotel, and found her charming. I pursued a relationship. When I discovered that she had a dowry, and that her father would give her an allowance a husband would handle, I asked her to marry me. I thought my love for her was real, but after thinking it through, it was the money motivation that drew me in, not her beauty. Although I made a good living with my syndicated column, her allowance gave me more luxuries than I could afford on my salary. I depended on that extra money for my busy life and excesses.

What are your excesses?

HD: Already plagued by a history of frailty and ill health, I self-administered one or another treatment of drugs regularly used for relief of pain and various other symptoms. My curiosity, if not my health, was nurtured by these treatments.  It was my friendship with Mr. Anderson of the Poughkeepsie Apothecary that opened the door to active experimentation with a variety of drugs, not for cure but for exploration. But he warned me of the dangers, and to prove it, he showed me one bottle with a skull and cross-bones. He emphasized not to play around with these poisons, that they could kill me. With a disregard to my own safety, I made upon myself the trial of the effects of every strange drug and chemical that the laboratory could produce. Mr. Anderson had no idea of my obsessive behavior. Drugs and alcohol lured me. Time seemed endless, when it was only a fleeting thirty-seconds. I sensed the knowing nods of my audience, who judged that I had merely underestimated the lure. The memory wooed me continually like an irresistible sorceress, as did the occasional drink of alcohol with women of the night. Then with the ingestion of the drugs all became habitual. I shared with my school buddies by supplying them with these horrendous so-called medicines. My friends unwittingly migrated to me like swans to water.

 GI: Who are your best friends?

HD: I thought my best friend was Rork Millburn. He invited me to join him to go across the country to Yosemite. The plan was for me to journal our adventures while he gathered resource material to create paintings when back home in his studio. We were vacationing at the Catskill Mountain House, in the mountains of New York, to rest up for the trip. When we got to the Mountain House, Leila went out for a walk alone. Rork was out painting and heard her scream. He ran to her aid, and saved her from drowning. From that moment on he was infatuated with her. He had no idea who she was.

GI: What did Rork do once he discovered Leila was your wife?

HD: I introduced Rork and Leila before dinner that evening. Then I found out that Rork apologized to Leila if he had done anything offensive when he pulled her from the water. Rork knew I had a drug and drinking problem, and also knew of my relationship with my lady friend, Sissy Lanweihr. Unknown to Leila and Rork, I invited her to the Mountain House. At dinner, Rork was appalled at my blatant flirting with Sissy. His final stamp of disapproval came when I was verbally abusive to Leila. As drugs and drinking took an increasing toll on my life, Leila turned to Rork for comfort. Rork encouraged Leila to divorce me.

GI: When and where were you happiest?

HD: I can’t remember when I was ever happy. Maybe when I was a boy, but I was always in trouble at school. The only friends I had were the druggies, and crazy like me. Maybe when Leila and I married, I could have been happy, but alas, unfortunately for me, I could not give up my habits and addictions.

GI: Do you pay someone back for hurting you, or getting in your way?

HD: I did just that. I shot Rork when he was out for a morning stroll on our visit in New York City, and left him for dead. But he lived. Leila then had compassion for him. It didn’t do much good to shoot him and commit a crime that would destroy my marriage and perhaps even get me hung. That’s when Leila put an ad in the paper requesting a divorce. My lady friend, Sissy, was waiting for me at the St Nicolas Hotel. I sent for her, and we ran. On our way to St Joseph for supplies, we bumped into Rork and Leila at the home of Rork’s friend, Alex Major, who was an acquaintance of mine. When Rork and I argued and got into a scuttle, I pulled out my gun. Alex shot me. As I lay on the ground, Alex said, “It’s only a shoulder wound, we’ll get it fixed up.” Leila had asked me to sign the divorce papers. I begged Leila not to divorce me and screamed at Sissy, who had began to whine and holler about my getting shot, to get out of my life. I said that I first loved Leila and if I could make a choice today, I would choose Leila. Sissy shot me in the face . . . dead.

Author’s Notes:

My book, Indigo Sky, is a story loosely based on the love affair of 19th century Hudson River artist, Albert Bierstadt & debutante Rosalie Osborn Ludlow, wife of syndicated journalist, lawyer, critic, womanizer, alcohol and drug addict, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, who died at the age of thirty-four from drug abuse and tuberculosis. Albert & Rosalie married, they never had children. Rosalie died a few years later from tuberculosis.

Albert Bierstadt worked on immense paintings of the landscapes he had sketched in the new West. One of his masterpieces is his “Domes of Yosemite.” 10 feet high by 15 feet wide. Originally commissioned for $25,000 by LeGrand Lockwood for his country home in Norwalk, CT. The painting was sold when Mr. Lockwood died and his home was mortgaged, his wife sold the painting to a New York Auction gallery for $5100, then sold to Horace Fairbanks for $5000 who trucked the painting to his home and business (Platform Scale) and built a gallery for the work. The painting was hung in the gallery of the St Johnsbury Athenaeum, Vermont in the rear of the building of the library.

Domes of Yosemite Oil by 19th century Hudson River painter, Albert Bierstadt (who is known as Rork Millburn in Indigo Sky) 10feet x15 feet wide

Domes of Yosemite 4×5 feet oil






Indigo Sky Trailer: Preview YouTube video I#36491CE

Indigo Sky for reader who enjoy historical romance! @AmazonKindle http://amzn.to/2nWqbcq Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE
Author page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA


Banner represents eBook, print book, and audio

“A beautifully spun tale of love, heartache, adventure and sinister perils….” – David S.

Indigo Sky book cover

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Bunny Win 12x12" oil

Bunny Win 12×12″ oil-on-aluminum

Suspended . . . Coney Island painting project. The beach, Washington Baths, swimming, blackball, cool sand under the boardwalk, with friends, watching Tuesday night fireworks, Nathan’s hotdogs, French fries and steamed corn.

I didn’t get to choose between writing and painting until I decided to paint Bierstadt’s Domes of Yosemite in 2009. Captivated by how the painting came to life, Indigo Sky is an historic romantic adventure inspired by Bierstadt’s journey from the Catskills to Yosemite.

Indigo Sky Bookcover

Indigo Sky Bookcover

After extensive studies and writing workshops, among many was Carol Dannhauser’s Memoir writing and Michael Hauge’s, A Hero’s Journey. I realized that I could never get this book written while I was still painting. My writing hijacked me and held me prisoner until the ‘end.’ The time flew by, those several years. Consider, I could have acquired a PhD in writing!  Metaphors and similes, the tools serious writers need made a difference, I learned and I loved writing . . . Truly!!!

One day, I looked up—Soul Mate Publishing published my book—suddenly, I was a published author.

You see, I had been painting full time, everyday, three workshops every week, sketching, photographing, scanning, framing, it is a full time job. Writing is the same. I did a ton of research before I even began to write. Then I wrote everyday, researched when necessary. Writing is rewriting. First draft, second draft, edit, edit and more edit. Then when the publisher’s editor got hold of it, we did more editing. We deleted down from 86k to 82k. It was not scary or sad. It was good. I knew it needed more editing, always, especially when a professional looks at your work.

Domes of Yosemite (Ode to Bierstadt) Ingis Claus

Domes of Yosemite (Ode to Bierstadt) 24×36″ acrylic on canvas


Finally, when the book was published, I finished my painting project. I love to paint! Now, literally, with the show on the road, I am seriously thinking about writing my next historical romance, maybe in and around Coney Island. This blog sees the culmination of my Coney Island painting project, on view, until September 30 at Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, Norwalk, CT. Come party with us on Thursday, September 8, from 5:30 – 7:30pm. Clap along with us as we demo a swing dance (Lindy) just like in Coney Island way back when, to the big band mix of, ‘In the Mood, Sweet Sue, Rockin’ the Rock named “Jive Bunny.” See the invitation here:

Coney Island: Visions from the Boardwalk
Meet Artist-Writer Gail Ingis Claus at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
Artist Reception and Book Signing Party, Thursday, September 8, 2016, 5:30-7:30 pm Enjoy exotic aged cheeses, grapes, berries, and veggie crudites generously provided by Susan Kane, Catering

Cyclone, Oh What a Ride 12x24 OilConey Island’s Cyclone: Oh What a Ride 12×24 Oil-on-Anodized-Aluminum

Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum is pleased to present more than 25 paintings
from artist-writer Gail Ingis-Claus. The artist will be signing copies of her new
book entitled INDIGO SKY. During the reception, the Lockwood-Mathews
Mansion Museum will be offering the book at a special show price.
Unique Offer: Enter at the reception to Win A FREE Book and a Coney Island
print! Attendees of the Artist Reception and Book Signing Party on Thursday,
September 8, 2016, will be entered to win a complimentary copy of Gail’s novel in
paperback and a Coney Island print from her art collection. The drawing will take place
shortly before closing at 7:15 pm. The winning ticket holder must be present to
receive the free book, bookmark, and print of Coney Island.
Founding Patron
The Estate of Mrs. Cynthia Clark Brown
2016 Distinguished Benefactors:
The Maurice Goodman Foundation
Sponsor: www.investmarkfinancial.com
RSVP by Friday, Sept 2, 2016
203-838-9799 ext. 4 Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
295 West Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06850

Free, win an Indigo Sky eBook download. Winner chosen from those who comment! Deadline, Wednesday, August 17th at midnight.




I write, and I paint. Is it possible to do both? Really?

Wonder Woman 1942

Wonder Woman 1942 ( I used to own these, mom made me throw out all my comic books. Imagine?)

The Urban Sketching Handbook, Understanding Perspective by Stephanie Bower

The Urban Sketching Handbook, Understanding Perspective by Stephanie Bower

Comic book visuals that captured the hearts of America, mystified me. My pencil crossed the blank page pulling lines to create yesteryear’s super heroine, Wonder Woman. I don’t remember coloring the pictures. It would have had to be crayon, so I just used my pencil.

I sketch on location. Like my long time architect friend, Stephanie Bower. She takes groups all over Seattle, Italy, Hong Kong, Asia, and more. She teaches sketching and makes perspective easy. A great tool for drawing is her new book, Urban Sketching Handbook, Understanding Perspective: She says in her book,  How does perspective work? And where is that darn vanishing point? Understanding Perspective helps you bridge the theoretical world of Perspective concept with the real world of on site sketching. Stephanie shows you how in her book and online with her Crafty classes video.

Where is writing in this creative world of mine?

I didn’t get to choose between writing and painting until I decided to paint Bierstadt’s Domes of Yosemite. Captivated by how the painting came to life, although told as fiction, this true romance, Indigo Sky, is based on Bierstadt’s journey.

After extensive studies and writing workshops, I realized that I could never get this book written while I was still painting. My writing hijacked me, and held me prisoner until the ‘end.’ The time flew by.

Metaphors and similes, the tools serious writers need made a difference, I learned and I loved writing . . . Truly!!!


Indigo Sky

Invitation to Gail's Art Bash and book signing-Thursday, September 8, 2016, 5:30-7:30 PM

Invitation to Gail’s Art Bash and book signing-Thursday, September 8, 2016, 5:30-7:30 PM

Suspended . . . Coney Island painting project. The beach, Washington Baths, swimming, blackball, cool sand under the boardwalk, with friends watching Tuesday night fireworks, Nathan’s hotdogs, French fries and steamed corn.

Today’s blog sees the culmination of my book and my Coney Island project. Indigo Sky is published as an Amazon eBook, and will be out in paperback and audiobook by August.

Coney Island project to be installed at Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum on July 9, 2016. An art bash and book signing exhibition is forthcoming on Thursday, September 8, 2016. An invitation is at the left.

Knowing that I can’t write and paint simultaneously, my dilemma is to choose. Like notable American novelist Peter Selgin says, “It’s like choosing between two lovers.” One is like a water sprite leaping from rock to rock in a babbling brook—delightful, delicious and delectable. The other is serious, elusive with thoughts examining and imagining experiences and occasionally describing them.

Drawing a breath, is like drawing a line. My passion for painting and drawing is like breathing. My tools . . . pencil, paintbrush, and sketchbook are indispensable, like my morning coffee.

Choose writing, and I become a thinking machine. It’s difficult to raise up a world of words that express traits in my characters. My readers ask that I keep writing. I am torn, and still sketching and painting. My writing is waiting.



 Preservationists and Coney Island residents want the Coney Island Pumping Station to be landmarked, renovated and repurposed for the community's use. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan

Preservationists and Coney Island residents want the Coney Island Pumping Station to be landmarked, renovated and repurposed for the community’s use. Photos by Lore Croghan of Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Back in the day, the Coney Island Pumping Station saved many lives and properties by providing high-pressure water to firefighters.
Educator Merryl Kafka wanted to drive that point home visually — so she wore a firefighter’s helmet to testify at a city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) hearing on October 8th.

“Coney has lost much of its architectural framework, but we can save this 1938 modern masterpiece preserved as public art … with a new purpose,” said Kafka, the co-founder of the Rachel Carson High School of Coastal Studies in Coney Island. “Let this building be the one.”

Preservationists from the Art Deco Society of New York and numerous other groups turned out to testify that they want the Coney Island Pumping Station to be landmarked, renovated and repurposed for the community’s use.
The pumping station at 2301 Neptune Ave. was one of seven Brooklyn historic sites that have been on the LPC’s calendar for consideration as landmarks for many years without a decision from the preservation agency.

The hearing was a first step in an intensive LPC campaign to clear up that calendar backlog. There are 95 properties citywide on the backlog list.
The lozenge-shaped Arte Moderne-style pumping station was the only public work designed by prominent architect Irwin Chanin. It boosted the water pressure available for firefighters in Coney Island, which was frequently stricken by devastating conflagrations.

Merryl Kafka

Merryl Kafka wears a firefighter’s helmet to the October 8th Landmarks Preservation commission hearing about the Coney Island Pumping Station. BEST HAT. EVER!

Decorative Art Deco-style limestone statues of winged horses were removed many years ago from the long-decommissioned pumping station and loaned to the Brooklyn Museum.
“The Elgin Marbles are waiting at the Brooklyn Museum for reassembly,” testified Sean Khorsandi, an alumnus of Cooper Union, like Chanin himself.
“The power lies with you,”  Khorsandi told commissioners.
“Give a landmark to a neighborhood that basically is NYCHA public housing,” Dick Zigun, known as the unofficial mayor of Coney Island, said at the hearing.

Does this interest you? What is your take on saving America’s history?

This blog is a repeat today with the Good news as of October 8, 2015. The Pumping Station has been saved.Original existing pumping station and my oil paintingTop: Original existing pumping station on Neptune Ave in Coney Island and below: Pumping Station Pink-my oil painting on aluminum 12×24″Pumping Station Pink 12x24" Oil/Aluminum



Gallery270 Michael Massaia

Gallery270 Michael Massaia

Last week my visit to Gallery270 in Englewood, NJ proved to be magical, once again. Tom Gramegna, owner of the gallery sure knows how to pick the images to interest us viewers. Today’s blog though is not about that show, you’ll have to wait until another blog time.

On the left, here’s a tease . . .

Why photography? Goes back to my own stint as a photographer for my design and architectural work, then on to experimentation in the art of photography. Working with photo images led me to full-time painting those images. My work as an artist led me to Hudson River artist, Albert Bierstadt. His brothers were into photography in 1859. They traveled to Yosemite with Albert and took many of the images that Albert painted. In those years, cameras were big and bulky and travel was less than convenient. Only way to California then was by coach, the one with horses.

Coney Island parachute jump

Coney Island parachute jump 1950’s

The 1990’s saw an explosion of the craft with digital photography. Today, everyone is a photographer with the smart phone. It’s always easy and convenient to turn the phone into a camera. No more do I have to lug along my camera, unless I have a special project that needs professional work. I still use my Nikon D200 to take photos of images to paint. Like my Coney Island project, I have photos from 1986-2013 of Coney Island before restoration and after restoration. This one is the 50’s when I played in Coney Island.

I have a heart for the venue of photography and thought I would share some pieces of history and processes.


Site: Half Dome, Yosemite

Site: Half Dome, Yosemite by Ansel Adams

Group f/64 was a small group of 20th-century San Francisco photographers, like Cunningham and Adams, who shared a common photographic style characterized by sharp-focused and carefully framed images seen through a particularly Western (U.S.) viewpoint. In part, they formed in opposition to the Pictorialist photographic style that had dominated much of the early 20th century, but moreover they wanted to promote a new Modernist aesthetic that was based on precisely exposed images of natural forms and found objects.

Succulent by Imogen Cunningham 1920

Succulent by Imogen Cunningham 1920







Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams

The term f/64 refers to a small aperture setting on a large format camera, which secures great depth of field, rendering a photograph evenly sharp from foreground to background. Such a small aperture sometimes implies a long exposure and therefore a selection of relatively slow moving or motionless subject matter, such as landscapes and still life, but in the typically bright California light this is less a factor in the subject matter chosen than the sheer size and clumsiness of the cameras, compared to the smaller cameras increasingly used in action and reportage photography in the 1930s.

Digital photography has come a long way since it started to catch on in the 1990s. While even your high-end smartphone may take pictures that look like crap, a real digital camera can make even the stodgiest photographer forget about film.

The Hasselblad H4D-60 is probably the most expensive digital camera in the world. This DSLR camera has an astonishing 60 megapixel 40 x 54 mm sensor. Aided by the Absolute Position Lock processor, Hasselblad’s True Focus system allows the photographer to focus on the composition without constantly fiddling with the focus. The camera has a capture rate of 1.4 seconds per capture and shutter speed ranges from an 800th of a second to 32 seconds.

This pro digital camera costs in excess of $40,000, but that price will also get you membership in the Hasselblad Owners’ Club. The exclusive club promises to hook you up with a considerable network of professional photographers to increase your exposure and expand your client base.

Do you take photographs,  and with what, camera or phone? What kind of camera? Do you have one of those $40,000 digital cameras? No kidding . . .






Local barn

Local red roof barn

Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, and then there’s Putney. You probably know what state these towns are in. The town we visited was Putney. Putney is anything but a sleepy town in Vermont. But, this town has no supermarket. I couldn’t believe it. What, where will we buy our food? How can I prepare our meals if there is no food, where’s the supermarket, or grocery store or something? No worries. Tucked away around a corner was their Co-op that calls itself a grocery store.

The popular Captain getting his garden ready to plant.

The popular Captain getting his garden ready to plant.

The Putney Co-op is a full service, community owned grocery store and deli. It’s been around for more than seventy years. You can buy all kinds of fresh food, grown locally, delicious baked good and hefty sandwiches. A little pricy, but everything is fresh. Then, of course, just in case you can’t get to the next town Brattleboro, with their supermarket, seven miles or so away, there are staples of all types. The General Store and Pharmacy has all kinds of necessaries and first aid items like peroxide and bandaids and tweezers to get out splinters. Here there’s a store called “Basketville,” and known, obviously, for it’s woven baskets. It also sells necessaries, and handmade rocking chairs. And candy. And rugs. And toothpaste. This is what the brochure says about Basketville. A landmark store . . . a browser’s paradise, vast and barnlike, full of handcrafted items for the home. You never know what you’ll find down the next aisle. Whatever you find, it’s probably a bargain. They pride themselves on outlet prices, workshop direct deals, and frequent specials. The international basket collection includes exotic new imports from Africa and Cambodia. The store is100% solar powered. We were amazed at the selections. Fun. The drugstore, within another store, the general store, and the co-op all think they are cafe’s. There are sit-down areas to eat, drink and socialize. It’s all very strange.

Local waterfall

Local waterfall

There’s even a waterfall in town. It’s mini, like everything else, but it is a waterfall. Makes noise like a waterfall, feels like a waterfall, smells like a waterfall. It’s even wonderful to stand nearby and feel the cool spray as it pours into the canal.


Private tennis court in the middle of nowhere. Sigh

Private tennis court in the middle of nowhere.

For those of you who know, tennis has been part of my life, and Tom’s. Upon exploration, we found a private tennis court. There is enough land to grow several tennis courts, but this one was right near that red roof barn in the first image above, in the middle of nowhere. No, we didn’t invite ourselves. Perhaps, if we had our tennis racquets . . .

This trip to Putney, Vermont, was for a painting workshop for me. Since flowers are not always my first choice to paint, I opted for this workshop because the emphasis was flowers. You can figure that one out, can’t you?

Putney barn studio

Putney barn studio


Gail’s Pansy set-up

So here’s the interior of the Putney barn studio and flowers to select for our set-ups .

You are probably wondering where we hunkered down at the end of each intense workshop day. Our accommodations were right below this studio.

It was a busy week. There were seven of us, and our workshop leader standing in the middle of the studio, Stephanie Birdsall, an amazing artist and instructor. Google her if you want to know more about her work. We loved our workshop, and found new friends.


Gail's oil painting

Gail’s Pansy oil painting 9×12 using set-up above







Putney barn exterior

Putney barn exterior

In this barn, we had a lovely apartment on the first level just under the studio. It’s the first set of lower windows, We had a bedroom, full bathroom, sitting room, and full kitchen. Brand, spanking new, we were the first guests. It was comfortable, clean, lovely, and had full views of the vast landscape.

Here’s more images. Wonderful, not so sleepy town, Putney, Vermont. Do you have a favorite town in Vermont? putney 1200vt photo P1100007 P1090980 P1090871 P1090952

















Gail’s Begonia set-up

Gail's unfinished Begonias

Gail’s in-process Begonias using set-up above

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