Thank you, Cockburn and Colville

Well, posting a blog every few months is evidently not the key to art marketing success, but I gotta start somewhere…

In 1973 Bruce Cockburn released the album “Night Vision,” and I heard it for the first time in 1975. I had left home at 16, was living with a friend, and heard the wonderful instrumental piece “Islands in a black sky” wafting up through the floor from the apartment below (hear it at a Cockburn fan’s YouTube site:; I’m listening to it now).

Not exactly high fidelity, filtering through the carpet, but I’d never heard anything like it. It was played frequently, and during one playback I screwed up my courage, knocked on a stranger’s door, and asked him what was on his turntable.

When I finally got the album, I discovered the stunning art of Alex Colville through the cover image: the painting “Horse and train.” I was electrified by it, even at that tender age (or perhaps especially at that age?). Horses were a major part of my life growing up, so maybe that was part of the impact. (See it at,+Horse+and+Train).

Influenced in a big way by that Cockburn album, I finally started playing guitar at 18, and eventually adopted a “fingerstyle” style of playing, trying in my own way to make sounds like Cockburn’s.

While art was big for me while growing up, it went away for many years, for the most part. But when I rediscovered art-making I found myself drawn to Alex Colville’s work; he’s a major influence. His ability to evoke tension from the everyday, and his precision, are things that I admire very much. While I enjoy trying to create images that are beautiful, it’s strangely satisfying when there’s an unsettling quality…which seems to happen sort of accidentally, when it does happen.

My painting below, "Burn piles, night" (14" x 18", acrylic on canvas) is one of the pieces that seems, to me at least, to be slightly unsettling...

Read more →