This painting fits my description of big, bold and colorful art. The inspiration behind this work is our changing climate. With no scientific knowledge of the subject, I, a layman, can see and feel differences in today and sixty years ago. Perhaps it is my age as I have had long enough to actually experience the difference, but no matter what, things are rapidly changing and I fear not for the better. So, who will benefit from global climate change? Maybe vegetables will be the next intelligent beings that inhabit the Earth. If so, one can only imagine what a strange society that would be. While doing this painting, this little sentence kept looping through my head; "When cabbage girl, with her soul all aglow, rode into town on a pink bicycle with seedless watermelon tires - the skull of an extinct plant eating mammal decorating her handlebars - and wearing clothing apparently sourced from a different universe, the vegetable people and their souls were appalled, albeit surely impressed and, if the truth were known, exceedingly jealous. After all, why hadn't they thought of such a bold and outrageous act?"
The Vegetable People" is a 24" X 36" (.61 X .92 M) oil on canvas and was completed during the summer of 2019.
When my son Halston was four years, old I took him 50 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico off St. Pete Beach, Florida to experience for himself the many sights and sounds of being on the open ocean. During the day he asked many questions, which allowed me to see through his eyes. "What bird is that? A frigate. What fish is this? A tuna fish, a mackerel, a dolphin. Are there sea monsters? No. Will we see whales? Unlikely. Why is that buoy red? So you will know to keep it on your right side when coming back to port. Oh, what's port? Home."
Halston's Eyes is a 46" X 72" (1.17 X 1.83 M) oil on canvas was completed in February 2004
I like using a very small brush to hide simple things in large paintings. Here, Halston's eyelashes are converted into fish.
I changed the fish color to orange like the life preservers and used tiny fish to make out the marking on the side of the mackerel.
In the 1990's, I got into writing about my family history, which eventually led to this painting. My use of blue jeans as a symbol of today's culture (getting more casual by the year) dominates the top of the work along with the cannon balls that blew up the southern states during the Civil War - which had a big effect on my family.
In the bottom right of the canvas, is my portrayal of my great grandparents, Bug and Molly Belew, which was taken from an old photo of the then young couple. They experienced the Civil War first hand as residents of Lawrence County, Tennessee, at the time. Despite the times they lived in, they were fruitful people who left each of their children a fully stocked farm.
On the very bottom left of the canvas, is a self portrait overlooking the shoulder of a girl I married, who turned out not the be what I had initially thought (so her face got turned into a passage to another place). The figure holding the black horse was taken from the only known photo of my great grandfather, Richard "Felix" Woodward who was murdered. While in a fist fight with another fellow, the man's son fatally shot Felix in the back of the head. Above the ex-wife is the ghostly figures of my father, James Roy "Slug" Woodward, and above him my great great grandfather, Richard Jasper Woodward.
In the top right quarter of this painting is my brother, David Woodward, who I portrayed as a ghost crossing water. This turned out to be a premonition as my dear, dear brother passed away at age 52 in 1999 of a heart attack. It was a devastating loss.
The steer in the center of the painting, standing on an unfinished rug, is a representation of me at the time that I began the work. The fruit that floats over the canvas represents the fruit of the vine or the continuance of the family. Much fruit is produced, but only a part goes to seed.
The Family History is a 48" X 72" (1.22 X 1.83 M) oil on canvas was started in the early 1990's, but not completed until 2006
If I ever captured how I felt at the time, I did it in this painting, which makes it one of my favorite works. I did this painting in 1976 while living in Florence, Alabama, where I had gone to college at Florence State University (now the University of North Alabama) after returning home from the Vietnam War in 1970. Six years had gone by in a blink, along with a very short-lived first marriage, several other relationships and several jobs, which I could never seem to hold down. Later, I would learn that I was not alone as many Vietnam era veterans struggled to fit back in to "normal" society. I resented authority and to some degree still do. I don't like to be put in a mold and I see this painting as a mold breaker. I didn't follow any rules - just painted. I did a small sketch of this work and then transferred it to canvas. This painting captured my living conditions, the depression that I was fighting, and the colors that would follow me around throughout my life as a sometimes artist - Prussian blue is my favorite color (and blue jeans my all-time favorite symbol of a society becoming more and more informal). The person sitting in the chair is me, of course, all hollowed out and dead to the world inside. The pink intestines are my guts poured out on the floor, exposed and vulnerable. I was fearful, but not knowing why. I had been in one relationship after the next with some very beautiful women, but still felt alone. But still the bright colors seem to project a sense of the positive. I think I had hope that 43 years ago, while sitting in a very small apartment I had the idea to put my feelings onto a canvas.
Skull In Blue Jeans is a 30" X 48" (.76 X 1.22 M) oil on canvas painted in 1976
This painting contains visual elements of a novel I wrote, but have yet to publish; just another of the long list of uncompleted projects I have waiting on getting enough time to finish. It was a pleasure to research and write, but a beast to edit. It is not unusual for me to finish a painting twenty years after beginning the work. The novel is about a group of people that get tossed together after the Civil War and end up traveling west in hopes of finding a better place to live. There are outlaws, Indians, ex-slaves, and a host of other characters that are all trying to adjust to a new society following a devastating war.
The book cover to Somewhere Better is a 36" X 48" (.91 X 1.22 M) oil on canvas painted in 2006
After writing Somewhere Better I chose to do my own book cover. This is the early stages of the painting process.
I don't recall how long it took to paint this work, but I do remember that I stuck with it from beginning to end.
When I finish the edit and publish Somewhere Better this will be the book cover.
Life was green like the Carolina mountains for the ever-so charming bachelor. This guy was the epitome of a bachelor. He mostly treated women terrible, which is an understatement. "Get them in bed then run" was pretty much his modus operandi. Here he tells his sister, (reflected in the sunglasses), about one of his latest conquests, which were a series of usually one-night, but always short-lived, affairs. Beside him, the sea shell (see drawings) represents the hard headed women who were determined to catch him, only to learn that he considered past bed-mates as trash to be discarded like the waste they were. On the bottom left of the painting, is a mannequin (see drawings), representing his type of woman, who is in line to be the next fool heart in search of being broken. Over his left shoulder, is a ball and post in a broad field, which represents his true love - sports. Love to the Bachelor was a ball.
This is basically a painting about a bachelor and his sister, whom he loved and confided in. The women in his sexual life - well another thing. Eventually he came upon a woman that corralled his cold heart. I am sure it is an on-going process.
The Bachelor is 48" X 72" (1.22 X 1.83 M) oil on canvas painted in 2003
I think some of my paintings reflect things to come. By that I mean, they were not necessarily "in" at the time I painted them. This could be said of "The Camero". This painting is a composite of images that were in my head at the time. A friend bought a new Camero, then got a job on the Alaskan Pipeline project, which was built between March 1975 and May 1977. He insisted that I buy the car from him. I don't even remember what I was driving at the time, but he gave me a good deal and I became the owner of an almost new Camero. At the time I was dating a good-looking blond (pictured here sitting on the front bumper of the car) and soon learned that there is no making love in the back seat of a Camero. Other than that, I loved the car and displayed my affection by putting it in this painting. The mallard duck standing on the top of the car represents all the parks I visited while dating. Going to the park was free, which was just fine for a young man not yet established.
The Girl Friend is a watercolor painted in the 1970's.
It has always been easy to ask women to take off their clothes so that I might immortalize them in paint - that is women I know. I would never ask someone walking down the street to do such a thing. Also, I never used this as a crafty way of seducing anyone, but it was fun because these encounters usually ended up (after some serious artistic impression) in the bedroom. The girl that modeled for this work was my girlfriend at the time. I was pretty much under her spell and she liked to watch me work. Like so many of my paintings when I did this work, I put it away as "not up to par" to my idea of good work. Years later, I pulled it out of an old file box and realized it was worthy. Breaking something down to its essence (in this case a nude) is not easy. In this painting, the girl is looking down no doubt sensing her nudity and the hormones that are raging inside. She liked being nude and anticipating what was next. So did I.
The Girlfriend is an acrylic on canvas paper painted in 1976
I love the sea. In 1999, soon after the death of my brother, I bought a boat. It was time to enjoy my life and quit putting things off that I had thought about for years. The boat was a twenty-seven foot open fisherman with twin Honda engines. After getting the boat, I began the process of learning as much as I could about the boat, the sea and the rules and regulations that were necessary to be a good seaman. In December 2000, I got my captain's license. In April 2002, I got a license (master of steam or motor vessels of not more than 50 gross registered tons upon inland waters). I was a captain and a responsible one.
This painting, "Rough Seas Ahead", represents a technique that I do occasionally. It is a non-objective type of style. I try to put as much paint on the canvas as quickly as possible by just having an image in my head of a past experience. The idea is to capture a feeling of, as in this case, what it was like to be somewhere fairly dangerous.
A fishing buddy and I left the dock in complete darkness one summer morning while going out on a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico. Several miles out to sea, and what seemed to be not long thereafter, the sun came up revealing a very rough sea. It caught me off guard and I will admit I gripped the steering wheel a bit more firmly when I saw the size of the seas. In the dark, we were getting kicked around a bit, but everything seemed normal as we busied ourselves with the many chores necessary for a good fishing trip. We had shined a light into the water, but were not convinced we were in any danger. When full daylight revealed the beast we would be fighting, in a small fishing boat, we quickly made the responsible decision to head back to shore. We had come out on a following sea, which meant going home we were facing breakers that would pound the boat and keep us drenched in salt water. It was one of many such experiences, and far from the most dangerous one, but one that I thought should be remembered on canvas.
The yellow in the center of the canvas is the beam of the flashlight hitting the water just as the sun came up.
"Rough Seas Ahead" is a 30" X 48" (.76 X 1.22 M) oil on canvas painted in 2008
Me standing on the bow of my open fisherman with the catch of the day - a twenty some odd pound red grouper taken off the coast of St. Pete Beach in the Gulf of Mexico
23 1/2" X 44" (.6 X 1.12 M) 2008
Size Date - to be added
24 X 36 2008
Size Date - to be added
36 1/2 X 36 2008
Size Date - to be added
In 1980 I had a house in Hoover, Alabama, (a suburb of Birmingham). It was a small house with a dug out dirt basement. I did this painting using a washing machine as an easel in very poor lighting. I had good eyesight at the time and did very detailed work. The blue jeans (my symbol of an ever more informal society) were hanging above the washing machine. From that iconic symbol, the painting grew. It is about time and how it passes. In the early days of our planet, there were creatures like the dinosaurs, which survived for millions of years. Eventually their time ended and man came along and with him one or two dogs. At the time of this painting, I had two Labrador Retrievers (Sanford and Lily). Like most dogs they spent a good part of their time sleeping.
On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers, are credited with the first ever flight of man. A mere sixty-six years later man had improved that early technology so much that he landed on the moon. In the bottom left hand corner of this painting, is a figure taken from a photo made the day the Wright Brothers achieved this world changing feat. Here he is looking back at an ancient statue and the head of some mythical beast. One symbol planted in the past and one planted in the future. On the right lower part of the canvas, an ancient human form toils under a makeshift covering while next to this form a new being is evolving into atomic proportions. All this is happening under the American flag.
You may have noticed that the tree in the center of the canvas has no leaves so we must assume it is dead. This is a symbol of man using up all his resources. Also, the tree has its secrets as eyes peer out. One limb holds a basket, the work of the hand (shown underneath the basket), the second a towel, a symbol of cleanliness.
Above the sleeping dog on the left, (which is Sanford), is a man holding his hands up in surrender. He is wearing desert clothing. This was my premonition of coming trouble in the Middle East. I had no idea how right I was until 911. Above the surrendering figure, is the torso of a woman dressed in the day’s fashion. She is headless, because I thought most fashion was purchased by people that follow along like sheep. Above the white dressed woman, is a flower, a symbol of where the inspiration for fashion comes from.
The top of the painting is covered by a cloudy sky and the bottom by a golden field (a symbol of the richness of Earth). All through the painting there are drops of water, which can be interpreted as either tears or rain drops. The one resource the Earth has that is perhaps our most important – water – was run through the kidneys of many hundreds of millions of dinosaurs long before man. We are the first creatures that have polluted this valuable, non-replaceable, resource. So, this painting is about time and how it passes ever so quickly. We can improve on the things that came before us or be destroyed by lust and greed. No worries though. Sooner or later another meteor will come along and man’s time will end. It is a fun thought to wonder what will come next.
This oil on canvas is 16" X 20" (.41 X .51 M) and painted in 1980
Things that are developing in the world is the inspiration of this painting titled, "The End of The Cow." In the background, a man is walking away with the DNA of the beef cow. Watching is the rancher/cowboy as his industry is about to change as beef will be produced in a centrifuge. The cow no longer has to fear the butcher, but now the fate of dwindling numbers. The cow and all who depend on this animal, from man to the dingle bug, now face a new future. In the end, the grim reaper takes us all.
I started this painting many years ago not knowing where it was going. It was almost as if I looked at this cow and said to myself, "your days are numbered." In a mere one hundred years, from now the people of today will be remembered as savages for eating meat.
This is an 18" X 24" (.46 X .61 M) oil on canvas competed in 2019
When I look at this very small painting it makes me think of some primitive contest or war that was held centuries ago that no record of now remains. There have probably been many thousands of such episodes in history that were never recorded and have long since faded from any memory especially from ancient civilizations that kept no written records. These contest and wars were only important to the people who participated or to those who directly benefited or suffered as a result of the outcome. History will be forgotten or at least get compiled. Approximately 3% of the 1940 world population of 2.3 billion died in World War Two, which was somewhere between seventy and eighty-five million people. I would be willing to bet that if you stopped ten people on the street today and asked how many people died in World War Two you would not get one right answer.
The walnut frame I built for this painting looks somewhat like a trophy handed out to the winner of the contest as a lasting remembrance. I wanted it to look that way. I would say that when ancient people scratched on cave walls it was to record some event, some hunt or perhaps some victory over an adversary. That was their little 8 X 10 painting in a walnut frame.
This is a 8" X 10" (20 X 25.5 CM) oil on canvas framed behind glass over cloth and distressed walnut (the frame is 16" X 16")
In 2003 we lived in a condominium in Terra Verde, Florida. I was in the process of remodeling the kitchen (if you look close you will see some exposed wires that would later serve under counter lighting), which had a window over the sink. Benicia didn’t like that window at all so she asked me to plug it up. The painting “The Kitchen Window” was the result of that request. This painting is oil on canvas, which was stretched just to fit the window. The oak frame matched the cabinet doors that I had built and installed. I did a non-objective painting rather than a still life as I felt it did the space more justice since a red light fixture hung in front of the painting.
This is a 31" X 36 1/2" oil on canvas painted in 2003
Where the painting hung
Don't know why I never painted this sunset
Her name was Maria Papapanagiotou. I met her on a flight from New York to Athens. I had a business class ticket, but was upgraded to first class since the entire first class section was empty. Just before the doors closed on the airplane, in rushed a well-dressed Greek girl. I had been to Greece several times and I knew the look. She appeared flustered, like one would who had made a flight at the last second. She paid no attention to me at all and sat across the aisle and one row behind me. But even before the airplane taxied out to the runway, a stewardess asked her to move to the empty seat next to me so that the crew could use the other seats to nap during the long over-night flight. Then here came the champagne, followed by a very nice meal complete with salad, entree and dessert, and glass after glass of good wine. She had extremely beautiful eyes.
I ended up getting an apartment in Athens with a view of the Parthenon and we carried on a long-distance romance for some time with me staying there some and her visiting me in Florida. She was a party animal that could stay out until sunrise throwing down shots like they were tea and she knew every Greek ballad by heart. Her hour-glass figure and dramatic style drew attention wherever we went. Maria was also a celebrity. She was a well-known news reporter. In the Greek community, which is basically all over the world, she was very well known. Armed with good looks and a dynamic personality, she was quite a woman. Unfortunately, there was a dark side – like there always is and the relationship turned into ash.
The painting, “Maria” was painted in the U.S., but most of the elements are Greek. The sunset in the background, came directly from a view I liked on one of the Greek islands. The olive tree over Maria’s right shoulder is a symbol of just how long the Greek culture has been around. The tiger symbolizes her personality and also says something about how she camouflaged some parts of herself. The leaf and lemons symbolize the Mediterranean diet, that she introduced me to and which I loved. Over Maria’s left should is a game board, which symbolized how she played life. The driftwood behind her how she drifted as though not in any one direction, which was in direct conflict with one so driven in her profession. The hold in the head is about how a person can be so gifted and still do some pretty damn dumb shit like not being able to break a very bad habit. The hair symbolizes her style. She spent hours poring over fashion magazines to be sure she was up to date. The wooden clothing is all about style – so new no one has yet done it. The orange balls in the boxes, symbolizes the treasures she sought. And if you will notice, the right eye behind the magnifying glass, is slightly bigger than the left eye, which explains how I saw her at first. Later, her beautiful eyes were not as big and bright as they were on that flight from New Your to Athens.
This is a 18 X 24 (46 X 61 CM) oil on canvas completed in 1997