Sad Eyes

In keeping with the process I’ve been using in my last series that began with a photo of my brother Mike*, beginning with Portrait, Mike and Mom, ending with Autism and Cave Paintings. In yesterday’s post (Emotional), I revisited a seminal photo in my long term photo project about him. Today I tried to boil […]


I began photographing Mike, my older brother, on his 40th birthday. I wanted to try figuring him out. Since I was a child, Mike was unreachable. In 1952, he was diagnosed with autism and ‘profound retardation’, according to the first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM I). Mike is nonverbal to this day. On […]

Autism and Cave Paintings

One of the more fascinating bits in Eric Kandel’s* book, The Age of Insight was an alternate appreciation of the people who drew the cave drawings in the Chauvet caves, estimated to be about 30,000 years old.  Art historians, including Ernst Gombrich noted that the realistic representation of horses in these caves implied that the humans who […]

Focusing In

I intended to focus on painting a representation of Mike’s* eye from a childhood photograph of one our camping trips. However, his eye doesn’t tell the whole story. I thought maybe the combination of his eye and mouth would be adequate. Here is a preliminary sketch, and here is the watercolor study. Mike’s face is distorted in […]

Dividing Shadow

I’ve been working from and old family photograph of my mother and older brother, Mike*, taken in the late 1950s when our parents took us on a camping trip (see Portrait, Mike and Mom, Abstract Portrait Mike and Mom, Mike – Close Up, Continuing to Abstract).  Yesterday I created the beginning of a watercolor that […]

Continuing to Abstract

I just had time today to do a couple of sketches and the beginnings of a watercolor. I am continuing to work on the photograph Dad took of Mike* and Mom, during a camping trip in the late 1950s. I paid attention to that great Bauhaus Master, Paul Klee’s advice: to take my pencil point […]

Mike – Close Up

I’m still investigating the photograph my Dad took of Mike and my Mom. I estimate the date of the photo as circa 1958. Mike is my older brother who is autistic, low functioning and nonverbal. We used to go camping. Mike was a handful,  I don’t know how my parents took us all (Mike, Dave, my […]

Abstract Portrait Mike and Mom

The next step in my process of abstracting the emotions from an early photograph of Mike and Mom (see yesterday’s post), is to paint with a broad brush (literally).  For me, the salient features in the original photograph my brother’s eye and my mother’s smile.  Mike is probably about 12 years old here. Mike is my […]

Portrait, Mike and Mom

I was thumbing through my (unpublished) book about my early life with my older brother Mike. He is autistic, low functioning and has never spoken. When he was still at home, we used to go camping. My father must have taken this picture of Mom holding Mike. One can tell there is something amiss. Perhaps, […]

Thirsty Fig Tree

It’s been pretty dry out here in California. The fig tree in the back yard seems to be wilting. It has been doing so all summer. Usually, the onset of autumn begins one or two yellow leaf among the lush green leaves. Today the fig tree looked like yesterday’s limp salad. I began this study […]

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