2021 MoonBlog

This isn't really about the moon, I call it a moonblog because a new homepage image appears twice a month on the new and full moon. The home page shows a featured image —sometimes freshly minted, sometimes seasonal, sometimes from years past— along with improvised ruminations, something like a leisurely blog. Previous years’ entries are here for your perusal; see the links, above. The sharp-eyed visitor will notice that the year 2020 is entirely missing. I'll let you guess possible reasons for that. This year's will fill out as the moons go by. Meanwhile, let's get back to it.

P-47 Thunderbolt

Robert Spellman triptych painting of a World War II P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane.

Here's a painting of a World War II P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane. This painting appears in an earlier form on this site. I've lately been re-visiting and re-working many of the paintings in this series. One reason for this is seeing that some of them needed more work on the surface, the roughness of which is not entirely apparent in a digital format; or I may have not liked the color of the earlier version.

The second reason for the re-workings is to add the star insignia. This is to denote the American origin of many of the planes in the series. In the 1930s there was a poisonous spread of fascism in Europe and Asia, led by arrogant and deranged men skilled at whipping their people into a misinformed froth. Not unlike our own time. So adding the star insignia calls on an earlier time in the USA, a national facing down of global fascism.

Working on these feels like a way to invoke a certain American mythology of our having been the decisive force in that war. It gives me an idea for a film: The ghosts of American World War II veterans come back to the America of the twenty-first century to sort things out with present day American nazis.

Music of the Moment

This one is called Lumbricus Terrestris, which is the Latin name for a common earthworm. I don't know if this music has anything to do with earthworms but it does have a slightly creepy crawly quality of something slithering through the night.

I have a page with more of these compositions in progress. Go here for a listen.

New Moon ~ April 11th, 2021

Chance Operations

Robert Spellman print, an abstract composition based on the accidental behaviors of saran wrap and air.

This image is from a series of prints that make use of the accidental behaviors of plastic wrap, block printing ink, and air pockets. It's a kind of chance operation in which the results are quite unexpected and sometimes strangely inviting. The twentieth century composer John Cage made much use of this in his work and commentary. Someone once asked him, "If you don't like the result [of a chance operation] do you change it?" He replied, "No. I change my mind."

These prints seem to me to be free of artiface or intentional meaning. Even the arrangement of parts occurs without any guiding “aesthetic”. And yet the shapes can be so specific. To what, I'm not sure. Perhaps specific to themselves. The form also mimics the color and arrangement of Dutch etchings from the 1500s. Or Chinese landscapes from the same period and much earlier. 

Music of the Moment

This is an arrangement of a traditional Chinese composition called Akebono. Here it's played on the yangqin, a Chinese instrument resembling a hammered dulcimer, likely descended from the Persian Santūr  . The yangqin is in conversation here with a piano.

I have a page with more of these compositions in progress. Go here for a listen.

Full Moon ~ March 28th, 2021

Grumman Hellcat

Robert Spellman triptych painting of a 1937 Buick

I seem to have wandered away from any kind of website maintenance for quite a few few months by now. It's more like a year and half come to think of it. We're still in the thick of a pandemic, with a bit of hope that it could abate in the next several months. Meanwhile, I'm back at the website trying to remember how to use html and all of it.

I've been away from painting, too; but now easing back into it. This painting of a Grumman Hellcat is a re-working of an earlier version. I added the star insignia and changed the color scheme. While working on these paintings of World War II planes I find myself doing a lot of poking around online to find out more details. I was reading last week that when this plane - the Grumman Hellcat - appeared in the Pacific theater of the war, the Japanese pilots were, like, "Holy Crap". Of course, they only revealed this some years after the war was over. It seems this was quite a formidable fighter plane.

Music of the Moment

Last fall I did a series of musical sketches featuring a pan drum. The pan drum is a refined version of the steel drums common in the Caribbean and elsewhere. This sketch has a pan drum and vibraharp in a simple duet.

I have a page with more of these compositions in progress. Go here for a listen.

New Moon ~ March 12th, 2021