Monday, January 16, 2017


Shocking!  How did he ever think of adding all that mass to the shoulders? 

"Headless Nude Torso: Study for Balzac, 38", plaster, 1893-95.  I love the earthy solidity of this figure. It would have been nice to see a bronze of this.

"Man With a Broken Nose," 1863-64. How do you like the "can of worms" technique? It's a powerful portrait that also pays homage to the medium. All the best art is like that. It celebrates the possibilities of its medium at the same time it drives home its  overt message.

Above, 'The Crouching Woman," 1880-82. Okay, this isn't what you'd call a "lesser known" piece but most people are only familiar with the 33" high bronze.

Here's (above) the 12 inch terra cotta that the larger bronze was based on. I'm glad we have both versions; you can see more detail here.

It looks like Rodin modified the shoulder when he scaled it up.

Above, a brooding Victor Hugo. Wow!

Here's (above) Flying Figure" from 1890-91. It's from the same year that he did the similar but even more iconic "Isis, Messenger of the Gods."

Above, Isis.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


I just found some more caricatures! Here's one of me by Lenard Robinson. Not bad, eh?

This (above) isn't a caricature but I want to include it anyway. It was a gift from Katie Rice! It was meant to be a fridge magnet but it looked so good on black paper that I hung it on my black bulletin board instead.

Oops! I just noticed that the legs bowed when I took the picture. they're supposed to be straight. 

Here's my kid when he was a toddler, drawn by John K.  John was fascinated by the size of little kids' heads.

Finally, here's a doodle I made of John for an old Theory Corner blog post. Haw! I can't remember why I gave him surfer hair.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


If I have a basement rec room in my new home then I'd like to have a wide, square coffee table like the one above.  I like to work while I watch TV and I like to spread out when I'm working, so a table like this facing a wall mounted TV would be perfect.  I picture a sofa where the wooden bench is now.

In back of the sofa (above, lower left) I'd have a long, shallow table or desk that would enable me to peek over the sofa and work or eat a meal while watching TV. The picture from a book that illustrates this only shows a corner of the table so I'm so I hope the idea gets across okay.

In the part of the country I'll be moving to it's common to leave basements unfinished, so the ceilings of rec rooms are often made of exposed wood. If that's the case then I'll sand and varnish the ceiling and add natural wood pillars like the ones shown in this Reggio Emilia school room above.

Friday, January 06, 2017


It's amazing but true: it's possible to create a house where about a third or a fourth of the elements are fake. By that I mean fake landscaping...including fake trees, grass and hedges..., fake porch, fake fireplace, fake gables and dormers, fake windows, fake bookshelves, fake floors and ceilings, fake name it. 

This practice is so common now that what I have to say about it will hardly raise an eyebrow in some quarters, but it still surprises me, so I'll talk about it here.  

I started thinking about this when I researched stone fireplaces on the net. I found the ads for fakes almost outnumbered the ads for real ones.

Geez, those fake fireplaces (above) looked so real. I'll bet even the wooden mantle is fake. Some fake rocks are cut veneers of genuine rock...some are cardboard and plaster.

That's because real stone walls require a skilled stone mason. Real stone walls...with potato-shaped stones... are made of irregular- shaped rocks and are supported by nothing but gravity. The mortar's there just to keep the weather and bugs out. It requires someone with a good eye to make a wall like that.

To build it a mason will bring in three times more rocks than he'll actually use, because filling in each new spot requires just the right shape to fit. Even that will have to be chipped with a pick axe to get a snug fit.

The best stones usually have a relatively flat side and that allows the mason to make roughly linear rows. They have a flat side because they were probably sheared off something bigger by earth quakes or erosion. If the mason can't find a flat enough stone he'll throw in a man-made brick.

Believe it or not, few people ever notice.

But faux fireplaces are just the beginning. There's faux ceiling beams, faux floors, faux dormers, faux eaves, faux gables, faux windows....wait a minute, I need some pictures here.

Here's (above) a 5 meter high faux fig tree with silk leaves. The price? I don't know about this particular tree but things like this generally go for anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 depending on wether or not they're used to disguise phone towers. 

Here's a faux aluminum balcony, but if that's too pricey then get a plastic one instead. Just don't lean on it.

Here's the cheapest faux dormer I could find (no, it's not mine). When it's finished it won't connect to a real bedroom or attic, or contain a real window.

Last but not least, here's (above) a fake bookshelf. Appalling, eh? But maybe not.  After I saw the next picture below I almost warmed to the idea...well, sort of.

And here's (above) the reason...putting a fake bookshelf on an ordinary bedroom door turns that room into...A SECRET ROOM! Yeah!  Something right out of the 30s horror films!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017


I don't know what kind of house I'll end up with. I'm hoping that I can find something the town eccentric used to live in, or a house made from a barn or an old workshop. If so, I can have a living room like the one above, which is a place to work as well as relax.

I love the way the loft creates a dark shadow space which makes for a great contrast with the white light in the rest of the room.

 In my fantasies the town eccentric also left behind a large, cozy, old-fashion kitchen like the one above.

 Of course there's some nice modern kitchens, too.

I have a lot of books and papers so a hallway like this one (above) would be much appreciated.

It would be nice to have a lawn with old-growth trees in front. I'm a big believer in front gardens rather than front lawns.

But what am I talking about? I can't afford the kind of architecturally sophisticated house you see above. The likelihood is that I'll end up in a tract house that simply has more square footage than the place I'm living in now. *Sigh.*

Well, the one thing I can afford to control is the lighting. Wherever I end up rest assured that it'll be lit like a Hollywood set. It'll be a place to park the lamps I've been accumulating over the years.

How do you like the hanging lamp above? It's a one-of-a-kind item I got from a library book.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


Now that Christmas is over my thoughts turn once again to what kind of house I can expect to live in when I move out of L.A. (Sigh!) I'll miss the California ranch style (above).

If I end up with a small house maybe I can convert it into something nice. I like the simple, open-plan living room, above. The blue sofa makes a nice contrast with the varnished wood.

Here's (above) a light and airy living room furnished by Ikea. The curtains unexpectedly turn out to be a potent unifying element.

I like wide living rooms with low ceilings. This room (above) is by Frank Lloyd Wright. 

In California you hear of people converting outdoor pre-fab tool sheds into tiny offices. It would be a place to get work done if the house were too noisy. I wonder what the zoning laws say about this.

Here's (above) another outdoor office. Gee, all that glass would make it hard to heat. It looks great, though.

Wow! I love the way this dark, woody bedroom looks! It would be like sleeping in a cabin in the Klondike.

This unusually dark room raises a question: would it be wise to allow each bedroom to have its own unique look and feel? Would a house with wildly different rooms be a platypus?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


How was your Christmas? Mine was wonderful, just wonderful, what with my family all around me and an unusual Christmas Eve church service that I'll tell you about here.

It was a cold night outside the house when my wife tried to rouse the family to get dressed for church. We all made excuses for staying home where it was warm and cozy and we had presents to wrap.  She didn't get mad but instead got quietly but visibly disappointed as if she sensed that this was the year when an important tradition of family church going might come to an end. When we realized what it meant to her we were embarrassed by our laziness and one by one we reached for our coats.

The service we attended was held in an old mission church which enclosed the interior space so intimately and with such perfection of mood that the experience was magical. The priest was old and completely sincere, and the ceremony...which minimized instruction...really did adhere to Christ's simple admonition to "Do this in remembrance of me." But that's not the most amazing thing.

The service was so beguiling that I found myself lulled into a kind of half sleep where I dreamed while awake.  In that state I found my head filling with memories of unexpected good things people did for me over the years. Some were done by people who had it in their power to do me tremendous harm, and yet they refrained, and even helped me. I felt protected beyond what I deserved.  I tried to balance this out by remembering some irredeemably bad events but my mind refused to entertain them.

Just as odd, when we left the church for the parking lot the flashes of memory continued. They continued the next morning, too; one after the other.