Thursday, November 29, 2007


Ming was one of my cats. Today we had to put him to sleep-he had acute kidney failure. I use to go out into the garden and call to him and he would run in that cat-flow way, in a series of fluid bounds to my side. He would look up and lift one paw, his face full of light: the gold eyes in the orange and white fur. Ming means bright in Mandarin. I was totally smitten. I just loved him completely. I use to call him King Ming. He liked that.
This painting is called Wolff & Ming Late at Night. When I would get up in the middle of the night to pee I would think about death. After a while I started to think that I had a date with Death by the toilet every night. The minute I thought that I knew it was a painting. So it became, except I put Ming in with me. In the painting he is unfazed by Death's flamboyant appearance and under lit wing. He is totally cool about it all. I hope it was really like that for him.

doodles, atmosphere and water

The curlicue has become official, the two headed flourish standing in as character and figure.
They fall from the sky like bombs, glorified weather interpreters, or a frieze of design.

But perhaps their best gig is as a crew of pirate-floaters----parachuting behind their red smoked ship in a sea inhabited by climate personalities.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

glass, folly and death in the rain

Glass is like water except it doesn't move, or to be exact it is a fluid that moves so slowly that we can't perceive it, except after many years as in rippled old window panes. This is a quick drawing of the glass chandelier in the room where the constitution was signed:

And here is Mr D again in the guise of a threesome in the rain---a divergence from a photo in the NY Times......

In the silliness of perfect alchemy we can draw anything. Glass, water, fire and doodles leave their unions to come do serious work for me:

Monday, November 26, 2007

considering water

Here is an extended doodle about the ways to draw water in line, using the actual visuals of moving water and some designed indicators. Then take the body, dip in through and you get a reading.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

black and white

I got to thinking about drawing and what kind of decisions you make when working from life. What do you do with color, shadow and depth? Do you go for illusion or do you go for design? And how do you decide between color and depth when the two collide on translation? I don't like to get too fussy, yet am intrigued by dark & light and the topography you can make. I also really like the quick line. This is a drawing I did in Venice of the Grand Canal as seen from a rooftop. One of the buildings depicted had a story of being bad luck wherein the family living there all came to tragic ends.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The White Horse

Partially from a dream and the rest from a childhood gilded with the equine mythology. And of course the long, long love affair with water. I have spent decades learning to create the illusion of water. Often I will hover over a puddle that is creased with ripples, standing until I have memorized its pattern of silver and shadow. One of the things that fascinates me about limited animation and comics is the way the artists portray weather, and in particular water. I'm always thrilled when I find one doing something completely eccentric and counter-intuitive and making it work. I'm thinking mainly of line and simple color. If you have made friends with paint you can do anything. Black and white is a lot trickier.
I once spent a year living on the Hudson River. My son was very small at the time and the only consistent art work I could do was drawing. So I drew the river over and over: rippling, in rain, frozen-over and breaking up. If a bird was there, in it went. If a dog came by, ditto. When a storm hit I did the trees whipping sideways and the small waves slapping the shaled beach. It was a school of narrow focus and delight.

Friday, November 23, 2007


The horse doesn't stay out of my imagery for long. This one (2 Heads) came by way of an Australian cowboy movie and a photo that my neighbor took of me in the post office. They met cute and fell over the falls of my painting brain. A lot of pictures happen this way. Consider Through Moving Glass which was a result of my daydreaming on the subway while gazing out at the tracks. Many things happen there:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Miho & Death

This is Miho, Frank Miller's assassin from Sin City, and Death. Its the only time I've ever painted someone else's character. It was fun.
Today is Thanksgiving and the possibility of a glittery snowfall in NYC, one my favorite visuals, is locked in the vault of December's thoughts.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

love in the garden

The lush impulse to dig, plant and look is something genetic. You can't decide to love it, anymore than you can turn on the chemical spigot for another human. But having been born with it--it is as nutty and ecstatic as the human folly. More lanquidly paced, and more muddy, but gloriously sensual anyways. Here's my guy doing the purple garden dance:

And, taking a rest on a log--the resultant ease liquifies and turns to gold in the spine and pelvis:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sphinx & Death

I only did a few things about 9/11. Always the Sphinx was there.

city of light & dark

Where the city is the the constant landscape for the collage of my characters. They make footprints everywhere, at home among the other hybrids.

Monday, November 19, 2007


A ripple in the field of things. The surface of water. The conjuntion of intention and fluidity.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

laughter, an aside to the Death retrospective

The name of this painting is Element, which is what the two images have in common: laughter. On the left Kali is dancing & laughing in a bombed synagogue in Istanbul. The reference was a terroist attack which had been written up in the New York Times Magazine decades ago. On the right a Tibetan monk is laughing at the moon. My inspiration for that was a Japanese brush painting. I had a postcard of it, although that monk was not Tibetan nor in the Himilayas. I painted them seperately, knowing that I would frame them together. But I didn't have them side by side when I worked on them--each one went up on the wall by itself. So when I had them edge to edge I was surprised that the blue-white light coming in the broken wall of the synagogue continued in the monk painting as moonlight, traveling in the same path down the mountainside.
Magic, isn't it great? Makes you laugh.

roses and rain

He may be luminescent from radiation. More likely it is the light of a billion roses that have been crushed to make his bones. They don't melt in the rain; they just smell sweeter.

Here in the land of shadows we hesitate near the hemlocks to distill a bit of shape and old stone into watercolor:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

the painter's joke/ Death retrospective continues

Raining color and rhinestones beneath that one, extravagant wing, and trailing the vapor of illusion--I'd say he does a pretty good impression of an artist. Always, in every piece I've done, even the most intense, there is the sense of laughter. Not everyone else sees that--but I know its there and without it the colors won't take the light the same way.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Nothing like a little joke from Mr D...
Nice wing, no?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Death retrospective

For several decades I have been doing work about death. He is personified as a skeleton, usually with one arm and one wing. Doing these always cheers me up. Often it is an image done on a particular day with allusions to that day (Valentines, New Years, after 9/11). Sometimes he is an alter Wolff who goes out and extemes whatever I might be feeling or thinking. And then, often, he is funny and/or contemplative. In the above (First Snow) he is joined by two objects that were in my studio (large glass jar & toy copy of old gun) in his bemused immersion in the weather.

This one was done a few days after 9/11 and includes another reoccurring character, the Sphinx:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Alien Beach

Sometimes you just have to walk barefoot down to the beach and take out your science fiction brain and play ball with it. A bit of ink & watercolor later; you are as full as when you make that delicious lime cake and eat all of it in two days, with the help of your son.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dream Deer to Summer

This is a paper painting (pencil and watercolor) I did several years ago. I gave it to a friend who had it framed and hung it in her apartment. I had forgotten about it, so when I visited her and saw it hanging at the end of a long, narrow hallway (which funneled you straight into the image) I saw it as though it wasn't mine. I was smitten. I decided to do an oil.
When I did the paper version I had no preconceived ideas--I just started drawing and painting. When I did the oil I was beginning with the original picture and it then began to take on a more realized, intensely illusional quality. The path turned into a stream and the figures took on weight and color. The painting itself became the dreamy essence of summer:

Monday, November 12, 2007


Leather, feathers, and a bit of ink; a happy inclusive party. That bit of leather was hand tanned by myself and my friend, Indigo. We used cow brains (skin was deer), following the lead of the Native Americans.
The smell was so intense that all we could do was laugh as we worked. The leather came out supple and pale.
Desire is the name of the piece.

freeing the doodles

Here is a watercolor I did several years ago. I've always wanted to give doodles their due. This is what my hand does while I'm on the phone or my mind is very much elsewhere: spirals and lightening bolt curls. They show up in my paintings when they get a chance. Its as though I've reverted to the true nature of my hand---like when you let your hair do what it wants.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

drawing people drawing

This is my son.
I love to draw people while they are drawing. For one thing they mostly hold still. But also they focus very intently and I am interested in how that comes across in their face and posture.
I love the down turned eyes that pour their gaze onto the paper.

This is Paul Pope drawing:

This is Frank Miller drawing:

Saturday, November 10, 2007

this summer

Now that it is cold and the rain strips the last memory of an overlong summer from the piscean brain, I find this: the path through my studio garden. Very similar to the fish's progress, it curves its way. In a winter garden there are no obvious luxuries, but here as in my brain there are endless moments of delicate details and colors rippling through their possiblities with the changing light. I think I'll put this one in my pocket and keep it as the grey light fills the volumes of NYC.

Friday, November 9, 2007


This is a painting done in response to making two paper horse heads for my son's play when he was in grade school. It was a Norse myth wherein Loki turned himself into a white horse that lured away a black one--all very important to the plot of intriguing gods. The two characters wore long robes of matching black or white. I ended up also making backdrops for different scenes and photographing my son wearing the heads in various guises. Thus the painting of the two based on my son running about in the costumes with the ribbons streaming out behind.
Like some of my other paintings the image has a logo-like quality and the silhouette is central.
Its a good way to really bang the eye.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Above my desk in my studio upstate is this small collection of oddments. There are two Eddie Campbells-including one from From Hell, a copy of a Frank Miller drawing he did for Vibe magazine a while back, a small animal skeleton found on the Hudson's edge and various pieces of mine.
The painting on the left is one I did in art school--a dreamy horizon-only landscape. Below it is a watercolor from Sanibel Island. The orange piece in the middle (Burning Up Fish) is probably from the 70's. Below it is a pairing of birds done from life, and below that are two watercolors, also from life from Florida and the Bahamas. The small pink guys to the right of center are portraits of rocks from the 80's. Below them is an encaustic and feather piece: Thief in the Night (1990's). On the right wall is a portrait of my son when he was about 10 and below that is one of my palettes glued onto two pieces of wood. Oh, and the tiny oil next to Frank's drawing is from a series I did on cock fights in the 80's.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Treasure on Canal Street

In the winter, the sun down, Canal Street is still dense with people looking for treasure. The shops are crammed with things that sparkle in the intense artificial light, boxes that promise exotic smells and piles of shirts proclaiming the love of NYC. In the shoals of such plenty the dark schools of fish nibble and buy.
I love it.
But it is only a small version of the eye feast that is going on in the street. Sliding through the path of hundreds of lights the liquid metal of cars carve out a tidal trough between the caves of treasure.

Below the street, somewhere, runs the actual canal that it was named for. Above is the variation that becomes more and more fluid as night develops. The lights of cars, the street, the shops and restaurants move into the forward visual field while the larger masses become negative space. As the illusion becomes true the tiers of rhinestones glitter that much stronger, their tiny prismed daggers like a rain of military arrows among the heavy aquatic creatures in the street.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

East Wolffland

Here is a plain portrait of the interior of my head. Notice the furry blue guy, the orange happy one and the artist portrayed in the background, peering off into the pink sky.
Being a literal, not a metaphorical painting, it has both watery feet deep in magic realism.
For me it is a decidedly happy, even funny picture.

Monday, November 5, 2007


So this is a photo of me sitting in the Mexican sun chair or what I like to think of as the Queen's chair. After making a good dinner (black sesame chicken, mashed potatoes and salad) for friends I am rewarded by photos----I have lots of them of others but almost never of myself.
The chair was my Mother's and I use it to sit and look at work in progress--which at the moment is an operatic sky in the background of my grand western.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Center of the World

The Greeks saw Delphi as the center of the world. It is on the steep side of a mountain that descends into a deep ravine and then up again on the mountain opposite. In the spring it is covered in a foam of wildflowers and mist coils in the valley and tongues its slow way up.
Being there is very much like being on a trapeze. It centers you, and the ancient stone pillars stand quietly with you--old friends enjoying the circling mist and the flowers kiss. The history isn't a weight, rather the comfort of old, old niches carved out of the wilderness.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Sweet Spot

The place that exists on the the trapeze is a very small, geographical print but a huge experiential area. The bar is a thin line in the middle of the sky. The view, both literally and internally is unmeasurable. It thus exists as an actual place like the studio. I have a trapeze in both my studios and that place is the best place in each space. To sit in the middle of everything (which is how it feels when one is up) is both akin to the womb and outer space. The air, although it will not support you, envelopes you in a transparent allowance.
That place is both familiar and unforgiving.
Choosing to be there, either trapeze or studio, is a good reason to get up in the morning.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Heart of the Map

The studio is the heart of the artist's incountry. Here you are off the map of others, but in the sweetest spot of your own. The metaphors grow as lush as the garden that surrounds mine.
The path through the garden to the studio has always overlayed every fairytale and science fiction journey in my library. But the actual walking has a tactile resonance of its own physicality. In its domesticity it includes the wild of weird bugs, fantasitic birds and unending story buried in its greenery.
The walk to is part of the events that take place within.
I am not always there-being most of the time in NYC--where my studio is in the same room that I live, work, and eat. But there is still that resonance of heart in the wild when I get to the wall I paint on.