Monday, December 29, 2014



" I never have more than one drink before dinner, but I do like that one to be very large, very strong, very cold and very well made."
                                                             - James Bond, 007


I write this on the shortest day ( light) of the year, the Winter Solstice. If you are an optimist and your glass is always half full then you can call it the longest evening of the year. If your glass is half empty, its just plain dark. It is at this time of year that we cloak the days with tradition and custom and we call it 'The Holidays', from Thanksgiving to Epiphany ( Jan.6 ) there is a cascade of festivities designed to help us forget how miserable we really are. ( Think of how you feel in June.)

I do know of one way to assuage the misery of darkness....a roaring fire and a great cocktail.


" Hey Bartender, you got anything stronger?"
                                                                            - Conte Cammillo Negroni, 1919

Negroni Cocktail
James Aponovich
oil on panel,  9" x 6"

Beth and I were beating the streets of Florence with our guests, Tom and Shannon. It was a hot day and since we were near the Via Tournabuoni, we decided to head for Bar Procacci for a glass of prosecco and a tartufatto panini ( truffle sandwich). Of course, it happened
 to be Monday and guess what?....closed!
Tom then noticed a little bar around the corner with outdoor seating. It was there that we discovered the Holy Grail of adult beverages, Caffe Giacosa, the birthplace of the Negroni !

In general, Italians are not big cocktail drinkers. Order a martini and you are likely to get a glass of sweet vermouth ( brand name Martini and Rossi). They are fond of two types
 of liquor: an apertivo ( before dinner) and a digestivo (after dinner). One of the most popular apertivo is from Milan. It is distilled from rhubarb and herbs and it is quite red, its name is Campari. By itself, Campari is fairly bitter, so it is customarily diluted with soda water, add a little sweet vermouth for balance and it becomes an Americano.

Legend has it that in 1919, a Count Cammillo Negroni went to the Bar Casoni ( now called the Caffe Giacosa) and ordered an Americano, but he was not satisfied, and wanted 'something' added to it. He had  had a tough day and he needed a 'stiffer' drink. The bartender, Fosco Scarselli , thought for a moment and added a shot of English gin and in honor of the count, called the drink a Negroni. It was an instant hit. With time the soda water went away and it has become an Italian classic.


1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1 oz. gin
Shake with ice and serve cold with an orange peel as garnish.
Felice Anno Nuovo!

PS. Add the soda water back and it reverts to the original, the Italians call it a "long drink".
PPS.  I must confess.......I drank the still life.

{week 18}
Copyright 2014 James Aponovich


Monday, December 22, 2014


E ~ N ~ E

"The dogfish are back" *
                                                    -Kimball Petty, Little Deer Isle, Maine

* Local Mainers response to the returning 'summer people', who like the small sand shark ( dogfish) only come when the weather is warm (er).


 Blue Hill From Parker Point
James Aponovich
oil on canvas

As far as I know, there is no agreed upon point as to where "Downeast" actually begins. To mariners gunkholing up the Maine coast, it starts when you set your compass East / Northeast to follow the coast after Cape Elizabeth. To others, it is when the glacially fingered Mid Coast opens to Penobscot Bay, home of ancient volcanos. To diehards, it's only after you reach lonely Naskeag and set out onto Blue Hill or Jericho Bay that the real Downeast begins,. It is also, as they say.....


Pine Tree, Sebasco, Maine
James Aponovich
oil on canvas

We have lived there, for fifteen years we owned a house on Eggemoggin Reach,  about a mile from the Deer Isle bridge. We lived amongst the aging hippie diaspora   who settled there seeking the "good life,' albeit on rocky soil and frigid waters. We also knew the Grindles and Grays,  descendants of English prisoners released on the shore of what was then Massachusetts Bay Colony, later the British exported 
their 'unwanteds' to Australia. We were friends with Consuela and Julia, aristocratic Atlanta belles who taught us gardening and grace. We were all there bound by one common question, often asked: "How did you ever find this place?" We all came there from different circumstances and for different reasons, but the convergence united us all until the tide turned and it was time to move on.


The Tidal Pool, Low Tide
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 8" x 12"

The current thinking is that early in our planets life, the earth was only rock, no water and little, if any
atmosphere. Our little sphere endured an aerial bombardment of asteroids, leaving craters and somehow, water, which after countless eons, created oceans.We still go to the coast of Maine and find that primordial scene recreated, the ebb and flow of water and rock. The scars from that violent epoch are still visible on that other rock, our Moon. On Earth the scars are hidden, but here the sea gradually erodes the granite shore exposing the once molten, ancient basalt. As the land slips under the sea and the Earth spins under the Moon, it all becomes magic.

Moon Rise Over the Gulf of Maine, High Tide
James Aponovich

"The sea has many voices, many gods and many voices."
                              -T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets

Monday, December 15, 2014



James Aponovich
Assemblage: wood panel, paper, ink, 2014

To:  Aponovich 43
Re: Artwork
Title:  ?
Source:Blog post, # 15  A43

Dear A43,

I am quite interested in your use of the visual/ conceptual trajectory in your recent assemblage ? ( 2014).
 Your repurposing of the found object combined with the manual task of art marking engage and challenge the existing social matrix (zietgeist). The manipulation of a significant social artifact (post-it) coupled with the highly charged symbolic
 icon (?) enables you to reference the current, existential, nihilistic angst ( blank canvas/nothing). I find all this most refreshing.
    I look forward to following your explorations. Were you at ArtBasel? I don't recall seeing your work there.

                                   - Trevor F., Manhattan

A.  Uh.... No... I wasn't.

GOBBLEDYGOOK  ( GOB'  EL - DEE- GCOK )   n. ( coined by Maury Maverick 1895-1954)
                                                                Unclear wordy jargon.


? Post-It Note
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 20" x 16", 2014

Sometimes you find paintings in the strangest places. In order to illustrate " Blank canvas brain freeze" in the last blog I set up a "still life' of a sticky note on a blank panel which became the basis for this painting.

The question is, why the question?
I don't really know.

Monday, December 8, 2014



James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 11" x 9"


R.T.A. is gallery speak for a work of art that is "returned to artist." for whatever reason, they don't want it anymore, it may take up too much space or there is little interest, but as they say," we know where it is".......
....not always.
I have had many R.T.A.'s in my career and generally speaking, they have found new homes. Sometimes they stay and occupy a prized spot on a wall, other times they find themselves back in the studio like disorderly students
 who find themselves in detention after school, they sit in the studio and the question is asked, "what is wrong with you?"
Believe me, I am very familiar with this analogy.


James Aponovich
Post-it Note & Ink, 20" x 16"

The blank canvas or (or page) contains unlimited potential and it is up to the artist to release the latent energy within. I have tried to explain that one method to assist the exploration is geometrical proportion, but that by itself will not necessarily get you very far, it is only a substructure. It's what you put onto it that becomes the "art", which is ineffable and impossible to teach. When a sculptor looks at an uncarved block they must envision the form they want and just remove the excess (material) to release it. A painter adds only what (material) is necessary, no more....easy to say, difficult to do.


So, here I have a painting I 'completed'  a couple of years ago. The gallery didn't want it so I brought it into the studio for a look. I decided to have another go at it but keep the theme of a bag of candy. The malted milk balls seemed dull, so to get more visual appeal I needed glitz!...and I knew exactly where to go to find it.

"I only eat candy."
       - Andy Warhol *


If you follow the 43rd Parallel due east from Peterborough, you will arrive at the Revolutionary War Capital of Exeter, New Hampshire, next door is the town of Stratham, the American home of the Swiss mega sweet corporation,
Lindt Chocolate, and they have an outlet shop!

Bins of candy at Lindt

What's the line about a kid in a candy store? This is Lindt's outlet store and it is amazing. While Beth went to the cafe for a hot chocolate ( it was a cold day)., I started digging through bins of European wrapped chocolates. I was seeking total visual eye appeal and was more than happy to be beguiled by a fancy wrapper. Armed with my bag of visual munitions, I returned to the studio for one more round with the here it is.

                                      -with apologies to Howard Mansfield

Bag of Chocolates
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 11" x 9"

P.S.  The obvious question arises as to why use an old canvas? Why not just start with a new one, its all about mojo. Paintings must have the flame of magic in them and if there exists only a spark ( in this case, hardly an ember), then the 'failed' canvas must be continued,
 artists must be explorers and again.....
A painting is only finished when there is nothing
more you can do to make it any better.

* Early in Andy Warhol's career this is what his response was as to why he wasn' eating at a formal, upper East Side dinner. He didn't know which fork or knife to use........brilliant response.

Monday, December 1, 2014



The most difficult color chord to work with is the primary triad of red, yellow and blue. They are the starting point in the mixing of other colors ( i.e. yellow + blue = green), but likewise they cannot be created from other colors. They don't particularly like each other so are difficult to place side by side, they each vary in chromatic intensity with yellow being the most dominate and blue least. red is very symbolic.
This chord was the starting point for the Hydrangeas Over the Amoskeag I introduced in week 2. Working with red, yellow and blue is like dealing with three chromatic divas so I needed a color that could settle this crowd down and that color is green.

This particular combination was one of the first 'scientific" color chords of the early Nineteenth  Century. It was also the first primary color chord. It was developed by none other than Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, the German poet, dramatist and Italophile who also liked to dabble in the new science of optics. A Phd. was not required then.


Hydrangeas Over The Amoskeag
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 34" x 55"

So, here I am and the long climb  is approaching the summit. The painting of ten thousand windows and a million leaves is slowing "coming together", but exactly when do I finally put the brushes down and consider it done?
I have said before that a painting is only finished when there is nothing more you can do to make it any better. true enough, for a painting is more than the sum of its parts. By parts I mean all the complex elements of color, line,energy, visual weight, balance of imagery, proportion of areas and a myriad of other things  that all need to rush to a conclusion, a finish. But should a artist cross the threshold and seek to extend the painting it becomes "overworked." The life quickly gets sucked out of it.
The artists responsibility is to recognize the point of conclusion and there remains only one more thing to do......sign it.

Hydrangeas Over the Amoskeag  ( detail)