Chicago Rain, A Young Man Faces Down The City

In Chicago Rain, I’m looking back at the years of my youth and strength. I grew up in Aurora, but spent two decades in the urban bliss of the Windy City. I married there, and all three of my children were born at the Swedish Covenant Hospital on the Northwest side.

10″ x 12″ acrylic with blades
on a solid wooden block

Actually, Aurora is considered a part of “Chicagoland,” as it is only forty miles west. A city itself, but small compared to Chicago with about 100,000 population, hardly a village. We actually had a twenty-story skyscraper in town. But the allurement of the big city is magical. Let me tell you about my first trip to the big city, many years before Chicago Rain. I was in 8th grade and along with two of my pals, decided to skip school and go to Chicago. None of us were old enough to drive, but Aurora has a commuter train that goes straight into Union Station. Back then the tickets were probably less than ten bucks, so we saved up for our big hooky day trip!

Chicago Rain

I thought I was street wise, but it turned out I was not. At 14, the world belonged to me; Chicago was just the first stop. We got off the train in Union Station and somehow got out on the streets through the throngs of humanity. No problem, easy peasy. I was tough, Chicago streets did NOT scare me. (They should have.) We roamed around aimlessly acting as if 100-story skyscrapers were normal things, but our necks were bent a lot that day.

Then we ventured into the subway system. We acted cool, yet had no idea how to read the complicated maps on the station walls and in the trains. While transferring from the NW routes to the Southside routes, I got separated from my friends. They were ahead about twenty or thirty bodies in the sardine can of the subway car. When they got off, I had to rush to an exit or be forever on my own.

Running as fast as I could, I spotted them ahead going up a huge escalator. Some pals they were – they didn’t even notice I WAS MISSING! I jumped on the escalator and found myself squished in the midst of a large group of teenage boys. (Hmm, I thought, why weren’t they in school?) Must be trouble-makers for sure. Or wait, worse . . . gang members? Yikes, they didn’t smile at me, but glared.

That’s the last thing I remembered until my friends were splashing water in my face to bring me to consciousness on the floor at the top of the escalator. And for some reason all of my pockets were empty. Too bad those punks couldn’t find a rich kid to rob. All they got from my was a couple bucks and my comb (don’t need one of those anymore.) Then the swelling in my face and head started. They sucker-punched me!

Chicago Rain is a painting about years later when I moved to the city. I was much more cautious and wise, and instead of a gang, I found the love of my life.

ABOUT the artist, Ed Lowe
His art is available to purchase at KellGrace Salon, 110 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.

Lake Eola

Eerie Lake Eola Haunts Orlando Skyline

Orlando is a city of lakes, but right in the middle is a small one called Lake Eola. It’s a place of dreams come true. Not far from Disney World, Universal, Sea World, and a plethora of entertainment venues, Lake Eola is renowned as an urban focal point. Many great events are held there to the delight of the locals and vacationers alike.

One visitor wrote,

Lake Eola Park is an oasis located in the heart of Downtown Orlando. Amazing variety of birds, great place to dog and people watch. Restaurants and bars located within inches from the Park. Great place to hang out.

Lake Eola

But in my conception the lake is viewed at night, and from a darker  insight. It may come from my first visit to a lake. My family lived in Aurora, Illinois, about forty miles west of Chicago. We went up to Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, which is on the IL/WI border. As a ten-year old kid I was excited to go on a big trip to a lake. I knew about rivers because we lived near the Fox River, but a lake was a whole new thing.

We rented a boat and my dad and I got fishing poles and bait. It was awesome trying to get a worm on a hook, I loved it and knew we would catch lots of fish. We cast off, and with the small motor soon got out into the middle of the lake. As I was trying to get worms not to fall off my hooks, I notice dad was nervous. I wondered if he might be afraid of the water. No, that couldn’t be true because he told me of times he fished before.

Then he really got agitated and was swearing at his pole, the boat, and the lake. I knew what was coming. Next thing, after only 20 minutes on the water, he took us back to the dock. He tied the boat and told me to wait. He said he’d be right back. Hours passed and I played on the scant beach and tried fishing from the pier.

But dad never came back because he went into the lodge and got drunk. Later, when I found him, he was all smiles and seemed very relaxed. He was, of course, because the alcohol was taming his urges. But he had no interest in fishing any more. I went to our cabin and spent the day with my mom, sharing in the disappointment of a dysfunctional home.

16″ by 20″ acrylic on canvas
on panel board in a black wooden frame

ABOUT the artist, Ed Lowe
His art is available to purchase at KellGrace Salon, 110 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.

Vincent's Old Tower

Vincent’s Old Tower is After Van Gogh’s Old Tower at Nuenen

I zoomed in and took only a portion of this scene, Partly because of the skinny shape of my canvas, but also because I was eyeing the tower. I wanted to make it about the tower. Sorry, I left the ploughman out. I’m sure he won’t mind since he has been gone for over 100 years. 🙂 I named it “Vincent’s Old Tower,” to honor him, and it seemed to fit. The reddish tints in the background sky add mood.

18″ x 11″ acrylic on canvas
on a sturdy MightyWood Stretcher

Towering above the pastoral countryside,
the ancient structure sees all
and can be seen by all.

Vincent van Gogh loved to paint everything around him. He did, “The Old Tower at Nuenen with a Ploughman” in 1884 . . .

Vincent's Old Tower

Vincent’s Old Tower

I find Van Gogh’s textures and treatment of everyday scenes the most inspirational. He could really capture life as it is. Viewing his art makes you feel like you want to be there, living in that moment. More than anything, I want to strive to do that. Vincent’s Old Tower reminds me of my childhood when I was exploring. I would wander everywhere to see what I could and to discover things. It got me in trouble sometimes, but I don’t think I could’ve done otherwise.

It was not a pleasant thing to have the Aurora police call me down from the top of a water tower on top of a factory building. But, man was it cool. First, I had to squeeze through the fence around the factory. Eazy-Peezy. Then I had to find the fire escape ladders on the five story building and get up to the first rung. No prob. After climbing to the top of the flat roof, I found the location of the water tower. Oh man, they had a fence around it way up on the roof. Why would they do that? Who would get that far anyhow?

Oh yeah, I did. But scaling a six-foot wire fence was also Eazy-Peezy. From there it was a relaxing climb up about a hundred steps on a steel ladder. Once on top it was a little tricky keeping balance, but hey – you wanna live forever? But I will admit when I crested the tippy-top of the bubble I was feeling woozy… especially when I saw the flashing cop lights down below. How did they know I was up there?

But wow, I could see the whole town. It was exhilarating. When I got down, my chauffeurs were patiently waiting to escort me home in style. Mom was pissed though.

I just know if I lived in 1888 in Nuenen, Netherlands, I would have visited Vincent’s Old Tower.

ABOUT the artist, Ed Lowe
His art is available to purchase at KellGrace Salon, 110 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.

The Red Vineyard is the Only Painting Van Gogh Sold

The Red Vineyard was a fun project. When I do an “after” piece using a master’s inspiration, I never consider copying the work. But usually I utilize the basic layout and make changes to make it mine, usually drastic alterations. In this case I got flipped around by starting with the big beautiful orb of the sun. I like the way mine turned out, then I realized it was on the wrong side! OOPS. Then it increased the challenge as I had to mentally flip everything else. Oh well, I’ve always been a sort of backwards guy anyhow. Also I made the colors different and the people smaller.

The allurement of hard work is a mystery. There are some people who avoid it at all costs, especially physical work like the fields. Van Gogh is known for his feature paintings of peasants around a table having a meal. They are the potato eaters and they are content. They probably didn’t realize how poor they were. They had food, work to do every day, and each other. After a hard day in the fields, they would gather together for food and relaxation. The aches and pains of the day would wear off and they would sleep well.

The next they were ready to get back in the fields. The Red Vineyard was calling to them; it’s harvest time! They loved the earthy smells in the morning, the dew on the plants, and the crisp and cool beginning of another productive day. Nobody told them they were poor.

36″ x 48″ acrylic on canvas
on a MightyWood stretcher
# 17-039

The workers in the field must hurry before the sun sets.

According to some accounts, this was the only painting Vincent van Gogh ever sold. Van Gogh did the original in 1888. It is on display at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.

Red Vineyard

ABOUT the artist, Ed Lowe
His art is available to purchase at KellGrace Salon, 110 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.

Starry Cypresses Team Up From Van Gogh Inspiration

While meditating on nature and Van Gogh’s propensity to portray it, I thought his solitary Cypress tree in “Starry Night” needed a companion. The result was “Starry Cypresses,” and after painting looking quite different.

36″ x 45″ acrylic on canvas
on a MightyWood stretcher
# 17-005

This is obviously an “after” painting. I love doing Van Gogh pieces. The swirling sky alone makes it an adventure to paint. Mountains and hills are my life-long passion; I will always tend to create them. With Starry Cypresses, I took the liberty to add sweeping mountain slopes, an extra cypress, and more intense swirls in the sky. And instead of a night scene, I changed it to more of a dusk or dawn scene. In my mind the sun has just set behind the mountains and the villagers are settling in for the night. Dusk is a precious time; it is the last chance of a given day to go out a embrace the beauty of nature just before the darkness swallows it up.

The feel and depth generated gives the painting an interesting feel. Standing in front of it draws you in and places you in one of the humble cottages nestled in the hills. Unfortunately for this artist, I live in a flat terrain. There are forests with pine and oak, and there are swamps, but in my area there are no hills.

Here is the original by Vincent van Gogh called  “Starry Night.” It is one of his most famous paintings from 1889. The view of the scene has been identified as being from his bedroom window, looking east.

Through the iron-barred window,” he wrote to his brother, Theo, around 23 May 1889, “I can see an enclosed square of wheat . . . above which, in the morning, I watch the sun rise in all its glory.

So I did it again, Van Gogh was facing east, my painting faces west.

Starry Cypresses is based on Starry Night

ABOUT the artist, Ed Lowe
His art is available to purchase at KellGrace Salon, 110 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.

starless cypresses

Starless Cypresses Where Darkness Reigns Supreme

I’m not sure if this one is “after” Van Gogh or not. There certainly is inspiration in the sky, but I went a different direction with Starless Cypresses . . . no stars . . . many cypresses . . . and a village swallowed by an eerie mountain slope. Darkness tends to highlight the natural environment in a special way. Of course, I don’t mean total darkness because then nothing would be highlighted. But even on a moonless cloudy night there is minor light from stars or bouncing off the cloud cover, especially if civilization is nearby.

My swirling clouds in the sky have their own special blueness that illuminates the scene. It’s alien, mystical, and ethereal, but I don’t think it can be called unnatural because nature has a great number of weird effects. Maybe the clouds came through fronting a storm, or perhaps they are the storm, or even a tornado. I guess it could be a cosmic event that transcends normal atmospheric activity.

So let’s consider those poor souls in the tiny cottages clustered together in the mountain valley. Why would people live there, it doesn’t seem safe. They could live in a town or city. Are those safe? Where is the greatest threat? Is it nature, or is it humans?

The starless cypresses form a wall of security and safety for the people. They stand tall in the dark mountains as if to defy them. They are unaffected by the harsh conditions, they are not afraid of heights, and the darkness only makes them bolder. Peering through their windows, the people see sentinels and guardians. They sleep peacefully.

34″ x 42″ acrylic on canvas
mounted in a frame with a white mat,
no glass, the texture is exposed
# 17-011

A dark, starless night embraces the frail mountain village.

ABOUT the artist, Ed Lowe
His art is available to purchase at KellGrace Salon, 110 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.

Lonely Tree

The Lonely Tree Awaits Fellowship in the Mountains

Surviving the harshest elements on earth, the mountains stand firm, and the lonely tree stands with them. Mountains are one of the most magnificent parts of creation. They were made to be painted. As far back as my memory goes, I’ve loved drawing and painting them. When I was in Chicago, I work with an inner city ministry as a street artist. We would go into the gigantic housing projects and gather hundreds of kids for a Bible lesson. And, of course, there would be a 4′ x 4′ sketch-board for story telling. Nearly all of the thousands of painting I did over two decades had hills or mountains in them. An appropriate background for the good news of the Gospel with a scene of Calvary as the focal point.

We gave away those tempera water color paintings done on newsprint provided by the Chicago Tribune or the Chicago Sun-Times. Often, as every teacher knows, kids can become squirrelly. Especially when there are several hundred of them on a concrete pavement playground in the projects. That would be the time when I would announce that I was going to award my painting to the kid who sat the stillest! Magic.

I think I can paint the Lonely Tree with my eyes closed. Getting the shape of the hills right has almost become a muscle-memory reflex for me. The same for shading and texturing the individual slopes. I trained hundreds of Christian Sunday school workers, youth workers, evangelists, and missionaries to do quick work and be as artistic as their DNA allows. A few of my affiliates frowned on that because they thought the message was the only thing that mattered, that you didn’t need to be artistic. I agreed with the first part, but not the second. If God put art in you – it’s a great thing to let it shine.

The children appreciated beautiful scenes with hills, mountains, trees, and villages. My only regret is that newsprint crumbles after a year or two. Sigh. Hence today I use acrylics and canvas and wood. Heck, now my paintings, like the Lonely Tree, will last longer than anything the masters did. Archaeologists will find them a thousand years in the future.

16″ x 20″ acrylic & gesso on canvas
on a MightyWood Stretcher
# 16-038

My companions are of stone and not wood, yet they are my friends.

Solitude is a relative condition. Those who isolate themselves from only those of identical attributes will inevitably be alone. And if there was a way for them to be with only clones of themselves – they would be at war forever!

ABOUT the artist, Ed Lowe
His art is available to purchase at KellGrace Salon, 110 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.

Jax White Enlightens, Enthralls, Entertains

Jax White is a expression of a clear path and a bright future. The living lines and colors represent the inner activity of the soul, an unrestrained presence of life surging forward. Yet there is evidence of a raging struggle, perhaps a bit of anger. The lines criss-cross with what seems to be a random movement, but the synchronization of the whole remains intact.

I’m not certain of the vision of Pollock, but I know what is in me. With Jax White, I respond to that inner force and participate in the action of painting. The only thing that transcends the vigorous process is the satisfaction when it is complete. That is when I stand back and wonder what happened. Never quite fully able to know, the feeling is overwhelming and inspiring. The deep inspiration drives me forward to the next project and the next after that. If I cannot glean this passion, I cannot paint.

26″ x 18″ acrylic on oakwood
poured on a 2″ deep wooden box-frame
# 16-006

The path is the way and clearly all things are in position for change.

After Jackson Pollack. Abstract Expressionism (1946 – 1956).

Pollack is known as the creator of “Action Painting,” usually done on very large canvas. Ed was born in the middle of this era and has managed to replicate the style in a smaller format. But his largest piece (53″ x 77″) is on display in Kell’s condo in Winter Park. This painting, Jax White, can definitely be re-created in a larger format, the size does not matter.

Jax White

Since I got the studio all messy, it only made sense to do a pair. Double the fun! Purchase as a pair with “Jax Black,” and get the diptych for $650. Call me at 407.267.6977 for this $50 savings.

ABOUT the artist, Ed Lowe
His art is available to purchase at KellGrace Salon, 110 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.

Jax Black Penetrates Darkness, Engulfs All Things

Jax Black is an example of abstract expressionism inspired by the 20th century artist, Jackson Pollock. Using the drip technique is challenging and messy, but I had fun creating it. The dark background emits an aura of despair and loneliness. The only thing that can overcome darkness is light. All of the colors trailing the wooden surface represent pathways and byways of life and energy. They stand out in brilliant contrast to the darkness.

In 1939, Pollock began visiting a Jungian analyst to treat his alcoholism, and his analyst encouraged him to create drawings. These would later feed his paintings, and they shaped Pollock’s understanding of his pictures not only as outpourings of his own mind, but expressions that might stand for the terror of all modern humanity living in the shadow of nuclear war.

Since I do not struggle with addictions, nor do I fear nuclear war, I need another source to feed my creative spirit. I find that in Christ and the Scriptures. Jax Black is my interpretation of a dark setting with light overwhelming it.

26″ x 18″ acrylic on oakwood
poured on a wooden frame
with 2″ deep wooden box-frame
# 16-007

Darkly the path transcends ethereal realities for a new future.

After Jackson Pollock. Abstract Expressionism (1946 – 1956). For what it’s worth, I was born in 1951, exactly in the middle of that movement. I admit it is difficult to get into the mind of Pollock, but I admire the energy and passion of this great artist. He painted in an old barn near East Hampton, on Long Island, New York. It is interesting that being in nature brought out such divergent artwork compared to Vincent van Gogh.

Jax Black

… A major figure in the abstract expressionist movement.  Wikipedia

Jackson Pollock was a primary influence in the abstract expressionist era. His style was revolutionary as he would splash, throw, and drip paint unto a canvas. He had fame and fortune during his short life, but sadly alcoholism killed him in a car crash. He was married to Lee Krasner, another artist of the era and the steward of his legacy.

Purchase as a pair with “Jax White,” and get the diptych for $650. Call me at 407.267.6977 for this $50 savings.

ABOUT the artist, Ed Lowe
His art is available to purchase at KellGrace Salon, 110 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.

Let's Dance

Hi, Let’s Dance: A Tribute to New Smyrna Ballroom

This is a large composition of layers of dancers. “Hi, Let’s Dance” is a festive piece that looks into the invitation to dance.

I’m bashful about dancing, but love to watch others, but would never say, “Hi, let’s dance.” I wasn’t that Junior High kid who went to the dance and never got to dance with a girl – I just skipped the dances! Or, I went to them for the wrong reasons. It seemed I was drawn to trouble. I don’t think I was the cause of it, but it cannot be ruled out either.

So there I was, a 10th grader who made the wrestling team walking around a dance at the YMCA. I was fit because to beat out a dozen guys in my weight class I had to lift weights all summer. Man, that paid off. But it might have been convenient if I also took dance lessons that summer. The girls liked me, then turned away. Phew, I thought, because I did NOT want to dance.

Then this Japanese guy spotted me because the week before I got in a fight with his cousins. They were a year or two younger, but there were four of them, and only two of us, me and my friend. We won, but it was for a righteous cause. That’s another story. This kid was obviously trained in Judo or Karate because he took up a really scary stance that scared the acrylics out of me.

So, since I was in wrestling practice every day after school, I did the logical move . . . a TAKE-DOWN. In wrestling that would be 2 points, but this was life or death. So little Bruce Lee Junior started chopping and making strange sounds. My panic was a controlled slamming of his head to the floor. He got quieter, but kept chopping harmlessly at my back because I has him in a bear hug and would not let go. I sensed if I did he would’ve had the advantage of mobility. So my theory was not to give him to ability to move and use his lethal weapons, his hands and arms.

Next thing I know security had their hands all over us and tossed us out the front door. After they left, Karate Kid ran back in for back-up. I saw them earlier, about five or six nasty looking asian gangsters. Don’t take this as racial or anything, but we all knew these guys carried blades. So my inner wrestler acquiesced to the tactical field commander. I got in a taxi and said “Take me home.” I lived to fight another day.

50″ x 64″ acrylic on canvas
on a MightyWood Stretcher
# 17-001

The girl danced and I was drawn to her. With my greeting, I swept her away in my arms. There’s nothing better in the world than to dance freely.

Original art inspired by the dancers of New Smyrna Beach Ballroom: Tony & Renae! They epitomize DANCERS, and they love to say, Let’s Dance! And it’s contagious because they have a raving following of clients that love to come to any event and dance. Seriously, they dance in the ballroom, in the streets, on the beach, and anywhere once the music starts. I am very proud of the great fellowship my daughter and son-in-law have built in their niche.

ABOUT the artist, Ed Lowe
His art is available to purchase at KellGrace Salon, 110 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.