Hipster in Black Shawl Collared Coat at the SpiderHouse

The brisk wind lifted up his collar like a petticoat

I went to Spider House to meet my daughter, yesterday. It was sunny, and crisp. The two of us were not able to sit together because it was too bright for my daughter’s laptop. I found the perfect table, right in the sun. Very few people were outside, and I soon found out why: it was windy as West Texas, and cold! I forgot my dog clip which fastens my canvas to my painting support, but the nice waiter, Aaron, brought me two plexi beer menu displays which served as clips.

This young Hipster sat down at the rusty red glider in front of the Mannekin Pis sculpture, to eat lunch and have a hot drink. I loved his coat, with the shawl collar, which the wind was lifting up like a petticoat. It was all so Victorian – I couldn’t help but think of Bram Stoker’s Dracula as I painted.

Couple at SpiderHouse Patio by the “Mannekin Pis”

They were sitting by the bathtub fountain

I painted this couple, enjoying a warm snap that we had – it was beautiful that day. They were seated at a table right by the “Mannekin Pis” (replica of the famous Belgian “Pissing Boy”). It was such a good composition, I could have painted several different versions, if I had more time.

I Painted the Pretty Hipster at SpiderHouse

She was at SpiderHouse with a large group of "hipsters"

We had a beautiful, sunny and warm day here in Austin last week. I went to SpiderHouse with Erin Park-Markert, one of my art students, to meet my daughter. We sat out on the patio, right beside this large group of “hipsters”, as my daughter calls them. They had pulled two tables together to accomodate the ever-increasing group. Here is what I noticed about the group:

Well, they reminded me of my own college years.  They appeared self-confident and easy-going: they were not vulnerable. They could smoke and drink too much,with very little consequence.  The air was filled with essence of James Dean.

Conducting Business at Epoch Coffee

She was on the phone with a colleague

She came in and sat down with a coworker at the storefront table next to me. With her shiny black hair, and the widely woven houndstooth coat were just too good to pass up. I was in the middle of painting her profile, when her phone rang.  It seemed important. There was an interchange of project schedules and the like.

Painting live in coffee houses has taught me that people move a lot, and the artist has to adapt and be fluid with the active environment. As I paint and stare at a person, even their personality and behavior changes. One has to be observant in order to capture with intent: what is real and what is temporal? I hope that makes sense.

Girl Genius Writes Code at FlightPath Coffee

She was at Flightpath with her buddy during finals, banging out code

My daughter and I went to FlightPath Coffee during Finals Week before Christmas. This young brainiac came in late with her friend, and snagged one of the best tables. I don’t know if she knew how lucky she was – probably not. These Einstein- types can be totally unaware of the world around them. She had on a huge TULANE pullover sweatshirt hoodie that absolutely swallowed her. She looked like some mad monk working on alchemical formulae.  She was eating that code – her entire body was thrust into the act. Then, the caterpillar turned into a butterfly: she took off her hoodie, and the most beautiful, petite,long-necked young woman emerged. She relaxed. I suppose that she was in the groove, and had got over the difficult patch in her thinking.

Reading Proust and Duras at Epoch Coffee

He was discussing Marguerite Duras and Proust with two classmates

He looked very smart, and I just love sentimentalists. I myself have a thing for John Singer Sargent, who was a contemporary of Proust, so I can understand the attraction to certain artist of the Victorian era who weren’t particularly Victorian. Of Proust, I know very little.  This young man could probably tell you a lot.

I loved his long coat, and barbered sideburns. He was talking with two friends about the author Marguerite Duras, a French colonialist reared in Viet Nam. I don’t know which book it was…sorry.

I Painted the Guy in the Panama Hat at Epoch

He was reading the newspaper at Epoch

He was reading the paper, and chatting with two girls at Epoch Coffee.  He had his folded hands resting on his forehead for just a few moments – long enough for me to get the gesture. He seemed to be  filled with the youthful optimism that everything will work itself out for the best. But for a moment, with his head in his hands, he exhibited what my niece terms, “The Dark Years of the 20’s”.

I loved his scrawny figure, the nice authentic Panama, and the way that he interacted with his friends. Upon exiting Epoch, he saw that I had painted him. He got a kick out of it. I hope to run into him again. He is a great subject.

I Painted Enrique at the Apothecary Cafe

Enrique is the barista at the Apothecary Cafe in Rosedale Village

The Apothecary Cafe is the new coffee house and wine bar that opened up its doors recently. It is in my neighborhood, and I can walk there. The young owners have done a perfect job of combining both the urban and the funk, all tied together with a touch of contemporary Middle Eastern decor. If they changed the glass doors to wood with a small window,  this would be the perfect place.

I Painted Martin Button in My Studio


My Dear Neighbor, Martin reading a paperback fiction

Here is Martin. We all love him. Martin is originally from New Zealand. He first came over to America to attend college at Berkley. He is a seismic engineer, and a structural engineer. At the present time, he is working on Building No. 7 (WTC), the Chinese Ferris Wheel (largest in the world), and many other projects – but I would have to ask him about those.

Martin is truly a “man without guile”. His “mate”, Christine says that she has only seen him mad twice in 25 years. He is a jewel here in Austin, and I hope that you will get the opportunity to know him.

I Painted Hannah Today


Hannah is the daughter of a good friend of mine

This is a studio painting that I just did from a photograph of Hannah.  She really did not want her mom to take her picture. Both her mom and I just loved the photo; we can all identify with the raw and stubborn posture. I just love the transparency of emotion that are portrayed here. Kids are not good at faking things just to make nice, and bless them for that.