Saturday, September 09, 2017

Michael Kiefer, We Will Not Forget.



On 11 September, 2001 I was in Amman, Jordan as the senior member of a small American military detachment getting a refresher course in Arabic at the Royal Jordanian Military Language Institute. At the time of the attacks, I was just signing onto my email account at an internet cafe. I saw a news banner announcing that two planes had crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center, and I was certain that I was looking at an advertisement for a movie. Within two minutes, my embassy cell phone rang. "Get all your people to the embassy right away," I was told. That's when I knew it was no movie ad.

As I was scrambling to get my colleagues together, 26 year-old Michael Kiefer was breathing his last in New York City. Micheal was one of the 2,996 innocents who lost their lives in Al Qaeda's attack on our nation. Maybe you remember it? In case you've forgotten, let me remind you by telling you about Michael, because Michael Kiefer is a shining example of what our nation lost in that attack.

To say Michael was a fireman does not do justice to the drive and the passion he brought to his work. Some people have a job they do, and others have jobs that they are; by all accounts, Michael was one of the latter. From his early years he knew that he wanted to be a fireman. childhood photos show him wearing a fireman costume, and people tell of how, as a boy, he was so accomplished at mimicking the sound of a siren that he once convinced his school bus driver to pull aside for a firetruck that wasn't there.

Michael bought a scanner that he used to listen for fire alarms, and would ride his bicycle to watch the firemen work. Sometimes he rode so far from his neighborhood that he was brought home by police escort. Michael earned perfect scores on his fire academy physical and written entrance exams, and began training in October, 2000. He graduated in December of the same year. He drew one of the busiest assignments, Engine Company 280/Ladder Company 132 Firehouse of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. In achieving his lifelong dream, we could say that Michael Kiefer accomplished more in his short life than will many men who live to see a century, but that would be only half his story.

In addition to being a fireman, Michael was a committed Christian, beloved son to Pat and Bud, and older brother to Kerri and Lauren. He was saving his money to buy a ring for his girlfriend, Jamie Huggler. Son, brother, boyfriend, he was the kind of guy who dedicated himself to a job that would put his life at risk in order to save others. He was just one of 2,996 who died at the World Trace Center 16 years ago, but in him was a reflection of all the strength, the selflessness, the goodness, that we love about America. On this anniversary of our nation's loss, take a moment to remember Michael. Say a prayer for the peace of mind of those he left behind, and give thanks that our nation can still be the home of men like him.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

New Paintings

Fischreiher (Grey Heron) 12 x 20 inches

Approach to Riyadh  18 x 26 (Ok, this is technically not a NEW painting, but I've made some significant changes to it.


Floating Leaves 18 x 14 
This is one of several recent paintings inspired by an interest in painting water.

Lilly Pads  11 x 8
This was inspired by some paintings I saw by Stev'nn Hall.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Currents


This painting involved a lot of new techniques, and a lot of self-discipline, because I find it very difficult to just let the paint do what it wants to do, and that's exactly what this painting required. I pretty much sprayed some paint and some water around, and then held on for the ride.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Painting on Plastic

There are some interesting new papers that aren't really paper at all, but are plastic, instead. This means watercolors don't soak into the paper. Colors are more vibrant, and they run more freely on a wet surface. Also, since the pigment isn't absorbed into the paper, it wipes completely away. This means "mistakes" can be totally erased, but it also means that if you rework a section, you will lift off the paint you've already put down. Here is my first painting on this kind of paper. 

And here are some closeups of sections that I particularly like:




"More abstract"

I recently had someone ask me to paint "something more abstract." Other than that and the dimensions, (43 x 32 inches) they didn't give me much more guidance, except that it should also "have some blue in it." Here's a look a the first result, which is still drying in this photo. Like all my paintings, it's a watercolor, but I applied paint straight from the tube onto when paper, and I left it on very thick, which isn't normal watercolor procedure.
Here's another view of the painting after it dried, and with light hitting it from a slightly different angle. Because the paint is on so thick, there is a lot of variation in color depending on the viewing angle.