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The Call

The road I took

I’ve been living in Valdemoro for twenty years but I came to Spain more than forty years ago. In those far-off days I earned my living teaching English in Madrid, and in my free time I began to model clay and make figures. I wanted to become a sculptor.

I was lucky enough to find a master carver and during three and a half glorious years I hammered out my first marble figures in his windy workshop on the outskirts of Madrid. Here are the first. They were bulls.

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Lying Bull in red Alicante marble (40cm x 18cm)

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Charging bull in gray Calatorado marble (33cm x 44cm

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Bull in the corral of El Batán, Madrid (plaster model)

These heroes of the bull-rings seemed mysteriously imposing and beautiful; and I spent hours and hours struggling to capture their grandeur in clay. I had noticed the same veneration for them in the paintings and etchings of Goya, who always represented the bull as the noble, proud protagonist of the drama of its death.

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Observing the bulls at El Batán (1970s)

I was a passionate aficionado. I went as often as I could to see the bullfights in Madrid and I rode on the busses full of enthusiastic bull-lovers to the fairs in the towns and villages around the Capital to see their fights. Those old aficionados taught me a lot, not only about bulls, but about the exciting life of Spain.

I joined the Association of Painters and Sculptors and took part in several collective exhibitions, earning a Special Mention in the biggest of its shows. My largest marble figure until that time was exhibited in the Crystal Palace of the Retiro Park, and at the Cultural Center of the United States I held my first individual exhibition with encouraging success.

In the evening, after leaving my English classes, I hurried through town to draw the live models that posed on the top floor of the Circle of Fine Arts building.

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El Círculo de Bellas Artes,  Calle Alcalá, Madrid

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Pencil drawing (Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1979)

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Pencil drawing (Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1979)

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Pencil drawing (Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1979)

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Pencil drawing (Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1979)

copia de my drawing4Pencil drawing (Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1979)

And at the Codina Hermanos foundry I learned the lost wax process and took part in the production of my first bronze figures.

 

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Yawn (bronze 48 cm x 23cm)

 

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Demon (bronze 32cm x 39cm)

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Sitting Boy (bronze 20cm x 23cm)

With the help of a small inheritance, my wife and I bought a house and yard in a village near Madrid, which I intended to use as a workshop to hammer out my marble statues.

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Our little house and cave in the village of Seseña Viejo

Destiny intervenes

But it wasn’t to be. A strange illness appeared, a muscular contracture of my back and neck that would not go away even with the help of medical specialists, strong drugs, and the massages of expert chiropractors. I had to completely give up sculpture and even reduce to the minimum my work as an English teacher. Those were very hard times.

But I went on…

See Hard Times

 

 

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Enchanted Landscapes

I come from the Great Lakes region of the United States. It is a fertile land with tall trees and broad fields of wheat and corn, where anything can be cultivated. For this reason, coming to this part of Spain and seeing its dry fields and gray hills produced in me something like sadness. How could I like such a land? Its dusty roads, bordered by thistles and brush, seemed forgotten by nature.

Nevertheless, little by little, on my almost daily walks through those fields and down those roads, I began to know the rich and diverse flora and finally came to love it. And when I began to paint, it all seemed, and it still seems, a wondrously rich creation of nature, as magnificent as the thick woods and black earth of my native Ohio. Or more.

These are views of the outskirts of Valdemoro, the ones that seem to call to me on my walks. They are my first tries at capturing in paint the admiration I feel; and, with some luck, some of their majesty and charm. Their thistles I now see as proud and noble as the tall maples of Ohio and Canada.

 

Walking Uphill on the Way to Ciempozuelos

Walking Uphill in Spring (acrylic55cm x 46cm

 

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Hill and Fig-tree (acrylic55cm x 46cm

 

big puddles picMudpuddles (acrylic61cm x 50cm

 

big wheat field with road 2Tractor View of Wheatfield (acrylic) 52cm x 46cm

 

copia (3) de pics june 28 002Wheatfield in Summer (acrylic) 55cm x 46cm

 

best pic aug 2 field with plantsThe Way to Ciempozuelos in Spring (acrylic) 50cm x 61cm

 

But landscapes are only part of the magic of this world.

 

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Girl and Cat at Window (acrylic) 55cm x 46cm

 

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Meeting in the Woods (acrylic) 61cm x 53cm

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Don Quijote and Sancho Panza Riding through the Thistles (81 cm x 118 cm)

 

Time to Paint

I began to paint.

Those first paintings were not at all bad but I kept making cruel comparison with the great masterpieces in the Prado Museum and elsewhere and could not be satisfied with my own work. I left them unfinished.

Besides the bulls and my apprenticeship as a sculptor, a favorite theme was the dreamy world of a boy: the rides through the streets of my town, the conversations with my mother, fishing in our enchanted woods…

 

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Idyll (oils, 80 cm x 100 cm )

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Setting out (oils, 63 cm x 52 cm)
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Storing Away the Winter Bedclothes
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A Dream
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Sculptor at work (acrylic) 45cm x 36cm

 

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Stonecutters in Winter (acrylic) 45cm x 34cm
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Watching the Bulls
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 But I also liked to illustrate the great works of literature.
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Macbeth Consulting the Witches
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Dedalus Giving Instructions to His Son Icarus
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Don Quijote and Sancho Panza
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And of course I kept trying to capture some of the landscapes of my new world, Spain.

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Ploughed Field in Spring

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Climbing
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 But my more ambitious landscape paintings came years later. See some of them in Enchanted Landscapes.

Hard Times

 

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My wife and I ended up living in that little village house and teaching English to the school children and adults of Seseña and Ciempozuelos. My muscle pains never ceased and I had to lie down after every class to try to relax and ease the tension. Even so I lived with constant headaches.

Nevertheless. I refused to give up what was the great passion of my life: art. I created many reliefs in clay, on various subjects, with the idea of making moulds to reproduce them, if not in bronze, which was very expensive, at least in another material. I made many experiments and tests but never found an adequate material.

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Friends (plaster model) 32.5cm x 29cm

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Your Horse is Ready  (plaster model) 31cm x 30cm

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Your Friends Are Waiting (plaster model) 44cm x 40cm

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Fishing from the Bridge

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Conversation

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Asleep 

Drawing

I went on drawing. I liked to color my pen drawings with color pencils. My favorite themes were illustrations of Bible stories, great works of literature, and myths.

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Don Quijote Lectures Sancho Panza

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Ulysses Trying Not to Listen to the Sirens

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Eden

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Jacob’s Dream

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Man Giving Names to the Animals

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Noah’s Ark

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The Golden Calf

The day came when I bought some brushes and oil paints and began to paint. See some of my paintings on Time to Paint