Thursday, April 4, 2019

About a Painting... Cast Off

"Cast Off" is a charm to ward off all manner of corrosive thoughts and actions which may weigh down the spirit of the viewer. The work has gone to a very good home in Nashville,Tennessee.

It was painted using casein, a very fickle medium... which I have thinned with acrylic air brush medium, rather than water. 

Sometimes it is best to try something new. You just never know.


10 X 10
Casein and Acrylic Media
Photo by Jay York

Monday, February 4, 2019

A Beautiful Question

There is certainly ample fodder for outrage these days and it can be challenging to maintain mental equilibrium. 

I have always been fond of this quote by ee cummings:

Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.

Therefore, I have been designing a number of elaborately framed question marks, the better to nudge myself into a more productive frame of mind.

A Beautiful Question on Faux Leopard

Digital Media

Thursday, November 22, 2018

A repost, because reflection is in order...

From 2015

Thanksgiving, George Catlin and Refugees

I like Thanksgiving, however mythical or sketchy the origins of the holiday. 
I also like the artist George Catlin.

George Catlin traveled among the Native Americans, producing more than 600 portraits and illustrations of daily life among "the numerous and noble race of Human Beings". Catlin estimated their numbers to be in the neighborhood of 16,000,000. 

So much for the hubris of those who believe that the North American continent was somehow lying fallow before the first Europeans slogged onshore.

Be that as it may, and this a rare thing is a day when white people in the USA pretty much agree that some of their forbears were in deep, dire and unpleasant straights and needed help which was freely given them by the Native Folk.

Today is a day that commemorates a remarkable community supper and the spirit of cooperation. 

So, once upon a time, there were the Pilgrims. They were immigrants. They were religious and political refugees. At home they were facing almost certain death. They travelled across treacherous waters to an uncertain future. They were down and out. They were given a leg up by the First Americans ...the "numerous and noble". The Native People showed them how to feed themselves and where to shelter. In gratitude the Native People were invited to dinner by the Pilgrims once the dust had settled.

Now, please pass the cranberry sauce and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

This lady is Kei-a-gis-gis,  
a woman of the 
Plains Ojibwa. 
George Catlin painted her in 1832.
She was lovely and she was here first.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

From the Transition Series..."Fabulist"

Trolls are interesting creatures, they can be large or small, horrifying to behold or as ordinary as any ordinary person can be. The only thing trolls have in common as a rule is this... they are usually not interested in bringing much that is positive into any given situation.

Contemporary trolls can be found on social media, and their methods range from mild disruption to pointed malice. Trolls of this sort are best approached with caution, or ignored altogether.

Casein and Acrylic Media on Cradled Panel
10 x 10"

Friday, August 31, 2018

Aviation, or The Love Bomber

Here is a 38 second film of my Aviatrix. Her craft is self propelled and her aim is to shower as many people as possible with rose petals. We need all the help we can get. The machine makes quite a racket once the hydraulics kick in. The plane is very fast and has thrilled audiences around the globe. She may soon appear in a city near you.

Acrylic on Canvas
24 x 36"

Photo by Jay York

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Throw Back Thursday and Memories of Philadelphia

This is a drawing from my High School days, this woman looks an awful lot like a very nice woman in SW Philadelphia where my family lived in the sixties. She dyed her rugs maroon one summer, and the dye left traces on the bottom of your sneakers. She was Polish and her daughter and I were friends for a short while. 

The daughter passed away in her twenties from what I understand. I often think about this woman and hope that the balance of her life was comfortable and blessed. 

The neighborhood was a rabbit warren of Roman Catholics. First Communion saw the smallest of us crammed into unaccustomed finery for our first trip up to the altar.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

"Conflict" is an online competition and group show hosted by Artspan

I am tickled pink to have had my work selected as the winner of this competition! 
Thank you Artspan!

More Alike than Not Alike
12 x 12" casein on birch panel
Photo by Jay York

While working on this piece I was reflecting on a thought that has often crossed my mind. It is this... When we as citizens put more emphasis on our perceived differences rather than our similarities, we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would cynically exploit an all too human tendency to blame the "Other".
Here is an excerpt from Maya Angelou's "Human Family" which inspired the title for this piece...
I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

Please click on the link below to view the entire online show

Sunday, June 17, 2018

About a Painting...The Invention of Clouds II

I imagine a little wooden structure in the woods shuddering and hissing and sending out product. While I have an idea why weather is the way it is, it still remains a mystery as to when it will be the way it will be. The use of diagonal lines has come, for me, to represent the divisions between time and space... of things known and unknown... the mysterious other side of things as in “Frontier”.

The Invention of Clouds II 
in Process
14 x 18"
Acrylic And Casein Media


8 x 8"
Casein on Cradled Panel

In "Frontier" the barrier is used as a metaphor for the division between what is right before the eyes and that which is unseen... the visible world and things metaphysical. Spirit and matter, where does one stop and the other begin? The barrier could also be closing in on a mind with a fettered worldview or opening to celebrate a happily altered state of being.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Colossus

There is an alarming consolidation of media giants in this country, from Sinclair to Fox to Comcast. I have dressed my giant in attire appropriate to the 1970s, he'd fit right into the film "Network".  The television is similar to the one I watched as a child, although I can't imagine my folks buying anything with a blond finish... which I've always loved.

The Colossus

26 x 18"
Casein and Acrylic Media
photo by Jay York

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Closed Circuit

Here I am considering the all too human tendency to seek out others with similar opinions, and the attendant danger of ignoring or discounting a point of view which may run counter to one’s own notions. The two utility poles are carrying information back and forth, but remain disconnected from any outside source.

Closed Circuit 
Casein and Acrylic on Cradled Panel
photo by Jay York

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

In Process...The Colossus

This is a detail of a casein work nearing completion. There is an alarming consolidation of media giants in this country, from Sinclair to Comcast. I have dressed my giant in attire appropriate to the 1970s...he'd fit right into the film "Network". The television is similar to the one I watched as a child, although I cannnot imagine my parents buying anything constructed with a blond wood finish... which I've always loved. 

Detail of "The Colossus" casein on Birch Panel

Monday, April 30, 2018

Reincarnation Theatre

Our heroine has dealt with various and sundry demons, risen above stubborn problems (with the help of both earthly and unseen angels represented by a lute playing assistant who, now that I think of it, looks a bit like Jeff Spicoli). Finally, she assumes her chosen occupation as the self appointed Queen of Paris, France... she is a bit overwhelmed, but feeling that she is up to the challenge. Long may she reign.

Reincarnation Theater
Triptych mounted on Polychromed Wood Structure
Acrylic and Ceramic Tile
27 x 52 x 4"

Photo by Jay York

Monday, April 2, 2018

March has come and gone...

...and I have broken a cardinal rule of blogging. One should post AT LEAST once a month, here is a penance post. 

The All Seeing Eye on School Street
Acrylic on Panel
8 x 8 "

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.

Digital Media

Monday, January 1, 2018

Friday, December 1, 2017

About a Painting..."Grooming" from the Transition Series

There is a song in Richard Rodgers' musical "South Pacific"...

You've got to be taught to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught.


Casein on Birch Panel 
12 x 12"
Photo by Jay York

Thursday, May 18, 2017

About..."Shirtwaist (Second Wave)" from the Transition Series

This piece came to me as I was thinking about my mother's contemporaries, women who began to take a more active role in the trajectory of their lives, sparking the Second Wave of Feminism in the United States. 

Moreover, there is something very disturbing about a society which to this day does not consider better than half of its citizen's entitled to their full share of the American Dream. 

The Equal Rights Amendment still languishes in Limbo.

48 x 24" 
Casein on Luan

Saturday, April 1, 2017

About..."Deterrence" from the Transition Series

"An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind."
                                                                                                                   Mohandas Ghandi

9 x 22"
Casein of Wood Panel

Thursday, March 30, 2017

About... "Unsettled" from The Transition Series

Every now and then, I receive a comment on my work which so clearly describes my intention in creating the piece that I am left equally gratified and astonished. I posted this painting online and a Facebook friend, Anthony Taylor noted the following...

The suburban daydream being undermined by climate change and the population boom? Solipsism being undermined by unintended consequences? I see parody and social satire in your work that reminds me of Grant Wood!

I had to look up solipsism which Webster's describes thus: a theory in philosophy that your own existence is the only thing that is real or that can be known.

Well, that entirely works for me. Thanks Anthony.

Acrylic on Wood Panel
24 x 16"

Friday, February 24, 2017

About a Painting ...Five Element Charm

I am vaguely to moderately superstitious. However I do believe that lucky is generally what lucky does. There's a popular saying... "The harder I work, the luckier I get."
I decided to split the difference and create a charm for myself, inspired by the elements used in Feng Shui, while referencing the work of a dear and departed friend.

Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire ...each element brings forth the next.

Five Element Charm
8 x 10"
Acrylic on Canvas Panel 

Friday, February 17, 2017

About... "The Year of the Rooster" from the Transition Series

The winds of change are blowing with might and main. I seem to function best when I channel my angst into work, and there is a meditative quality in painting with casein.
My observer is oddly composed in the face of the oncoming cyclone. I am not nearly as dispassionate, but I've always admired those with cooler heads.

The Year of the Rooster
12 x 12"
Casein on Birch Panel

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Fuji Series... James explains it all.

I am often asked about my series "New Views of Mount Fuji". No one has ever explained it better than my friend James Scarborough, who wrote the following piece for me back in 2008. I quote from it regularly. Thank you James.

Ricky Nelson anf Three Cupcake Fuji Montage
Digital Media
"Dorette Amell’s many-pieced and on-going series of views of Japan’s Mount Fuji is both funny and incisive. It shows what happens when you take something that is not just iconic (the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji) but also so ubiquitous that it loses any aura it might have had.

Within the confines of popular culture, Mount Fuji is the Japanese version of the Golden Gate Bridge. Like the feat of engineering, the image of this feat of nature peeks through every building; it commands the view outside office windows. It’s been photographed and painted and drawn countless times. Whatever you do, it’s always there. It’s also a venerable subject for artists: consider Hokusai’s famous series of works that depict it.

But Amell doesn’t so much pay homage to the site itself as to the idea of creating serial images of the site. It’s just like Monet painting the same haystacks, the same cathedral facades over and over again, the better to capture its particular qualities present in each moment of ambient light. But she goes one step further: like Marcel Duchamp’s famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) LHOOQ (he expertly reproduces the Mona Lisa and then adds a little mustache), she takes a famous image and then has fun with it.

The fun consists in both the sense of scale... as well as the many and seemingly endless associations she broaches with the view: the mountain draped in leopard skin, in lion skin.

Fuji as a cupcake, subject to the forces of a magnet, decked out with horns or aliens, or else emerging from a forest; covered in rust, the destination of a dinosaur or a 1930’s Flash Gordon spaceship. Fuji as a trio of t-shirts that billow on a clothesline, in a tropical climate, in a not-so-tropical climate, decked out with flowers.

Amell’s series might look like it’s done tongue in cheek. Really, though, it comments on the way a familiar thing becomes invisible and so the only way to make it visible is to make it unfamiliar, novel, if not a little absurd.

A perfect example? Think of how the artist Christo would wrap entire islands, entire buildings, construct a fence that ran for hundreds of miles, the better to call (better yet, recall) attention to that which had escaped their public’s attention. Amell’s series of work is the bonsai version of Christo’s work: appealing, interesting, and not a little funny."

James Scarborough is based in Los Angeles and writes about art, theatre and film.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

About a Painting... More Alike Than Not Alike

While working on this piece I was reflecting on a thought that has often crossed my mind. It is this... When we as citizens put more emphasis on our perceived differences rather than our similarities, we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would cynically exploit an all too human tendency to blame the "Other".
Here is an excerpt from Maya Angelou's "Human Family" which inspired the title for this piece...
I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

More Alike Than Not Alike

12 x 12"
Casein on Birch Panel

Friday, January 20, 2017

New Views of Mount Fuji ...Obama (or Optimist) Fuji

In 2008 Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States. I was so inspired by his candidacy that I painted "Obama Fuji" in his honor. 

There are those who will remember the devastated economy, the very real threat of the country sinking into depression and the near impossibility of finding work as an astonishing average of 800,000 jobs vanished each month. 

Obama gave a lot of folks the sense that somehow, someway, we would all pull through.

During the 1930's, in those very hard times... there was a poem circulating called "The Optimist's Creed" which I referenced for my humble tribute. 

As you ramble on through Life, 
Whatever be your goal.
Keep your eye upon the doughnut,
And not upon the hole.

Today the Obamas left the White House. Donald Trump was sworn into office. During his last press conference Mr. Obama said, “In my core, I believe America will be okay." 

Once again... I think he's right. There's a rocky road ahead, but I think he's right.

Obama (or Optimist) Fuji
28 x 34"
Acrylic on Masonite Panel

Friday, December 30, 2016

About a Painting... The Fool and a Blue Moon

This piece began as a relatively simple painting of two dance hall performers. Less than thrilled with the finished product I decided to make some edits, and the work became more and more elaborate with ever spiraling, synchronous and personal associations. I began the adjustments in winter, during a month with two full moons... the second full moon a relatively rare event and referred to as a "Blue Moon".

"The Fool" has the face of Curt Jergens, a German actor. I've always liked his face, his white hair and blue eyes reminded me of my Great-grandfather. My Great-grandfather or "Pa" was married to "Mutti" as in "Mutti and Pa". Ariadne's face is an amalgam of several people who I have admired. The hands are mine.

Pa was a baker. He served on a U-boat during the first World War. He married Mutti after the war. Mutti's husband had left her, my grandmother Christine and her sister Frieda for parts unknown. He said that he would send for them all, but never did... no one ever knew what had happened to him. Years later Pa made the same promise. I can only imagine Mutti's anxiety. Pa, however, did send for his adopted family after settling in Illinois.

There is a story about Ariadne and Dionysus... Dionysus looked down from Mount Olympus and saw an abandoned Ariadne, weeping and mourning the loss of her unfaithful lover, Theseus... all of this after she had taught the duplicitous Theseus a dance to escape the Minotaur. Moved by her plight and her bravery, Dionysus fell in love.

Dionysus is the inspiration for "The Fool" a character represented in Tarot Decks ...he carries a staff, holding his belongings, ready to step into the unknown. 

During the Biedermeier period in Germany, elaborate flower arrangements often conveyed remarkably complex messages. Pink carnations told the recipient that they were unforgettable ...the sender has declared  "I will always be there for you".

There is also a connection to Our Lady of Guadalupe who brought forth miraculous roses in the snow. Ariadne wears purple and yellow, balancing the mystical and the intuitive with an entirely epic rose crowning her head. She is a "Pearl of Great Price". A most worthy woman. Entire and equal.

The happy pair appear ready to dance out of the picture frame. Finally. You just never know where the fates will lead you I suppose.

This painting was completed in late 2012. I recently photographed the work. I am a better painter than photographer... but you get the idea.

The Fool and a Blue Moon
48 x 48 "
Acrylic on Panel