Fire at the Lake House

Lately, I cannot really state an exact time, but lately, my paintings seem to go off in any given direction of style, technique or discipline. I may start in one direction in my mind, come before my canvas, almost directed to another approach that begins familiar and ends in uncharted waters. I do not even know how I got there and wonder if I could reproduce this approach again.

Fire at the Lake House

The painting is the exploration ground. It is not boring. It is not a formula, it is entirely me. I wonder how I may organize them in a show, though that does seem to work itself out. Like in my most recent showing, “Renaissance Man”, so many different painting directions covered in a ten-year life span. Now my paintings are becoming even more different from one another like many different painters painted each one. Like wondering who will I be today. Very liberating painting approach and at the same time intimidating in a very good way.

This painting is from a regular scene photo I shot almost 15 years ago. From my hometown of Avon Lake, Ohio, I had a lot of good memories growing up. This was home for me for many years. I liked this view and remember swimming here many times growing up, it was a cool place to hang out.

So this painting continues as I notice a glowing yellow light on the front of the house. Liking what I saw, the yellow glowing light of morning I decide to keep it. Moving to trees, rocks, some good, some things that will need more work, then the flat perfect colored winter sky. Keeping with those winter colors I see in my mind.  Then flat colored water that stated a quiet stillness and calm, much nicer than the busy photo. Made me think of one of my favorite painters, Andrew Wyeth, and also a friend I went to art school with, Dean Mitchell.

Visuals are strong in my mind. Sometimes I need to close my eyes so I am not studying every form, color, light, shadow, texture or pattern. I am always a painter. Even when I am helping clients in financial services, my other occupation that does provide me a momentary visual break. Then I come back even stronger visually, like a lion deprived of its’ prey. More clear to distinguish and see things stronger.

Hmmm, where is this painting taking me? So I mute the house and trees even more to emphasize the glowing yellow light, I want to play upon the grass in front of the house. I will use my painting knife, just to scratch in some highlights on the peaks of the thick paint at this location. Oh, s_ _ _,  that is too much paint. Wait, look, that looks like the perfect flames of a growing fire. That is at home with everything around it, even the muted area behind it looked like smoke. Oops, burn baby burn, I am feeling better, even laughing, and therapy has emerged from my painting experience. When I was growing up Lake Erie did catch on fire, wonder if that is it?

Now I am playing with the rocks. Faces begin to emerge from them like my Pareidolia series of paintings. I love rocks and painting them. I do not need faces here. Or do I? Playing with texture and color of the rock, glazing, then I scumble in color into the glaze. Later scratching in lines with steel wool so other rocks match the texture created with my rough brushwork, spatters of color from a toothbrush. What the heck am I doing? This is not how I paint. I know there is still more to come. I am okay to rest, let the painting settle and dry some as I lay it flat so the walnut oil glaze does not run.

M. Graham oil paint is so versatile. The more I paint with it, the more I learn what it may yield. I like the Walnut Oil they are made with. No turps for me. Hated their odor, even odorless turpentine gave me a headache. Healthy paints made with Walnut Oil is for me. I wash out my brush in Walnut Oil, then Murphy’s Oil Soap, then Essential Oil soap my wife gave me. My brushes seem to last longer this way.

Each time I come back to my panel different things happen. Like returning to a book that you have no idea how the plot will end. There are so many different possibilities.

A commitment as a painter to paint, diligently for a lifetime before the canvas is starting to yield its subtle truth. You cannot get this by someone telling you to do this or that. It is only from the experience of self-exploration and lots of mistakes. Plenty of failed paintings.

I never wanted to copy a painter. I would allow my self to be inspired by different painters, but never a copycat. My thought is; I should accomplish something that is mine. To add to the greater legacy of art that is handed down to each generation. Like life, there is no end to the possibilities we can accomplish if given the commitment and focus of attention.

Returning to paint the rocks, wanting to add some detail while maintaining the large dark mass with a highlighted soft transition on top.

I could not hide the ravenous beast faces of Pareidolia emerging from the rock structure. The man laid rocks where used to protect the shoreline from erosion. When they raised the level of the lakes years ago, many lost land along the lake. Rocks and stone became a poor shield against the very cold, even brutal beating waves of Lake Erie. Each rock took on a face devouring the next with one main leader out front.

This break walls fought the violent waves we experienced in Avon Lake, Ohio. Protecting the shoreline some from erosion. One day the waves could pull you under with the undertow and another day the water could be perfectly calm. In winter the water was a smooth glass of ice close to shore. Another day it could look entirely different.

You could say I had a tremendous healthy respect for the water, its’ dangers and joys it provided. Maybe this is what has emerged from this particular painting experience.

The rocks needed more work. The drawing of the rock shapes needed to lead the eye in with a believable perspective. The light and darks were not working as strongly as they could, so this was reworked also. The water in shadow cried out for me to make it a cleanly drawn shape.

I was determined to not give up on this painting, quit too early or leave unresolved areas. I had to make this work as a whole. Then I signed my name on the bottom of this cold realism painting. Finished.

Stand for something, or stand for nothing at all. Food-Eat Pareidolia


monsters, pareidolia, food industry, food, eat
Urig Standing next to Food-Eat, 4 feet x 4 feet, oil on panel

Stand for something, or stand for nothing at all. I see a lot of injustices in our world. This painting, Food – Eat is part of my Pareidolia series of oil paintings. I want to bring attention to what the food industry has been serving up to us for years. Hurting us all with GMO’s, chemicals, drugs, GMO’s, fast food, food without nutrition and food that they don’t have to tell us where it came from, all to make a buck.

Yes we are partly to blame. We keep eating it. If we keep accepting garbage, they will keep serving it to us. While charging us nicely. I have personally gotten myself very sick from many foods meant to do me well that have been hurting my health.

As in real life, there are many faces we do not see that our behind these injustices. As there are many hidden faces, beasts and monsters in my painting with a nice piece of cake. Come eat.

Let’s stand together and contribute to a world we can all enjoy and leave as a legacy to our children’s children.



Man and the Sea, Pareidolia Painting

Man and the Sea, 30 x 24 in., mixed media & oil on panel

There is so much coming at us each day. When you look do really see what is before you or just what you want to see. What you think is there and move on. I am hoping my Pareidolia Paintings help you to understand that there is much much more than we initially observe. Look deeper and allow your mind to assemble many hidden images, large and small.

A trip to the sea may be pleasant or unravel all of your hidden fears and horror to find your heart pounding, mind racing while feeling all alone. It is only you who can change your fate. Maneuver your destiny or at least give it a better shot. If you’re just following along you will be lost, even left behind. Stop just existing. Do something.



Religion, 24 x 30 in., oil on panel

This post is to be included with my series on Pareidolia Paintings. This painting again reflects on the state of religion in our country and possibly world wide. As the previous paintings in this series brought attention to other disguises in our country labeled; The Corporate World, Pharmaceutical, The Food Industry, and the Arts.

If I were Joni Mitchell I would want to sing out about the injustices we face daily, though they are hidden faces we face. Fighting against what we cannot see.

Pareidolia painting series incorporates perceived images that do not exist along with others that we normally observe. Like seeing a face in a cloud. Both the cloud and the face are recognized. Pharmaceutical, Corporate and Food all sound fine by them self but under closer scrutiny may have some hidden agendas or monsters lurking that may hurt us all.

Pharmaceutical, 30 x 24 in., oil on panel
Food Industry, 30 x 24 in., oil on panel
Corporate World, 30 x 24 in., oil on panel
The Arts, 30 x 24 in., oil on panel

Let us all get back into the act of living by developing our culture

I hear more about things, things, and more things. Let us all try to enrich our life, culture and those around us with good conversations. Think for our self. Believe in something. Do something selfless. Honor the law of doing good. Develop rich family customs that bring with them good memories. Learn to appreciate art. Choose habits that others would be delighted to follow. Leave something positive for the next generation. Let us all get back into the act of living. Then see the great outcome this has on our society.

The Arts - Culture, 30 x 24 inches, oil on panel
The Arts – Culture, 30 x 24 inches, oil on panel – Pareidolia

Pareidolia Painting Series

Self Portrait, Pareidolia Painting
Self Portrait, 24 x 30 inches, M. Graham oil paints on panel, $4300

Is it Pareidolia?

We walk into a dimly lit room and see a figure staring back at us, Pareidolia. Startled we recognize it is only a coat peculiarly lying on a chair. What was that? What just happened?

Could it be our minds playing with us? A mind that quickly assembles and recognizes face-like image where there is none. It may not be our imagination but part of our early survival instincts software that has aided us in recognizing other living forms. Could this be heightened in some humans more than others? Do some find it disturbing? Or do we all have it? Is it cool when we recognize it? Then quickly want to share with others.

Pareidolia painting incorporates perceived images that do not exist. Like seeing a face in a cloud. A Pareidolia experience is where you may perceive an image of animals, faces or objects in cloud formations, a knotty piece of wood, a marbled tile, stains, inkblots and other forms.

Corporate, Pareidolia Painting
Corporate, 30 x 24 inches, M. Graham oil paints on panel, $4300

Leonardo da Vinci explained in his notebook that it was a device for painters to explore. Where we can see an infinite number of things that can be reduced into separate and well-conceived forms.

Eat, Pareidolia Painting
Eat, 30 x 24 inches, M. Graham oil paints on panel, $4300

I enjoy drawing from my mind. Demonstrating where the perceived and conceived collide. Painting a depiction of two parallel universes. One being a visual reality of what I think is before us combined with the second filled with perceptions, reflections, and experiences in the mind.

The Arts, Pareidolia Painting
The Arts, 30 x 24 inches, M. Graham oil paints on panel, $4300

Please visit my Gallery, The Creative Underground and enjoy viewing my demonstrations of a “Pareidolia Experience” Exhibition.

Pharmaceutical, Pareidolia Painting
Pharmaceutical, 30 x 24 inches, M. Graham oil paints on panel, $4300
Hidden Faces, Pareidolia Painting
Hidden Faces, 24 x 18 inches, M. Graham oil paints on panel, $2600