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Continuing with the landscape theme compelled by painting in Shady Side, Maryland. Here is the latest work in progress:

IMG_0559 (2)


This painting is less site specific via memory than the previous two works that are redolent of the sod farm off of Swamp Circle Road, rainy days, and spring time in Maryland. Here they are:


Detail of the new work in progress (below.) This detail is most akin to something that I’ve been holding in my mind for sometime.


If this detail was a 40 X 30″ painting, I’d be pleased. In painting terms, I’d like to capture weather phenomenon in abstract, painterly terms: From a distance, it should evoke experiences observed and felt. Close up it reads as painterly abstraction. Holy grail mindful of precedence: Turner by Joan Mitchell’s hand.

So with Land/Seascapes in mind, I have been thinking back to some of my earlier efforts.

Pinellas Point

Pinellas Point

I was about 20 years old when I painted Pinellas Point (above.) Working outside on the deck of Dad’s Studio with Tampa Bay in sight.  At the time, M.C. Richards was visiting Eckerd Collage where Dad mentored and professed. She told me that she liked this one. I was flattered, but had no idea who she was.



Ramsuer, North Carolina. Zoo Days. (above.) Painted on a little table outside of the little house in Albert’s back yard. Mid-1990s.

I like that the one on the left is very free, with little reference to local (or “real”) actual colors and with completely random forms popping up. A summer painting. I never would have thought that this would become a modest touchstone for later works.

Painting on the right same rural route view in winter. Believe that it is called Grantville Winter in honor of the Hurley’s.


The painting above is called “Jetty.” Hard to believe that it was painted in New Mexico. You can’t take the Bay out of the Boy. The hooked form was routed into the scrap of Masonite that I painted on. It was a backer board used for cutting out an “X-Prize” logo for the New Mexico Museum of Space History. I hadn’t gotten around to finishing this and was embarrassed that Mom-in-Law Peggy proudly displayed it. So – I finished it for the better. I have always liked that the left half is very loose with a light touch. Tricky for me. Oh – late 2000s. If I painted/collaged something like this today here in Maryland, it would more properly be named “Rip-Rap.”

That is a brief survey. If you look, you will likely find land and sea references in abundance. Cityscapes too. But that’s another story, for we have arrived at the tail end:




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Swamp Circle, Maryland. Plus One

Swamp Circle

Something of the feel . . .  south county, Anne Arundel, Maryland in May. Driving with the pups on a rainy day. Getting somewhere going nowhere.

Coming to grips with all of these yellow-greens and rain. Not a New Mexico scene.

. . . Adding a companion painting today. Emptying out at ground level. More roiling above. Less sunlight. This is a fairly specific scene, from memory. Different times on a favorite drive. accompanied by wagging tails.

These are relatively small – 20 X 20.” Usually tend to fill to capacity plus of late. This serves for now. Something different next time. I’ve held a Mighty Storm painting in mind for months. Seven out of nine days of (mostly) gentle rain here. This is what results.

2017-03-13 15.55.45


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Here Abouts

Version 2

I have been reworking and revisiting this one for weeks. Don’t know . . . not ready for the “Gallery” yet, but have a look.  Unruly – winter into spring during eventful days. 4/23/17


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A Maryland Painting


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February 24, 2017 · 4:01 am

A Line in Winter


Carey Crane, January 14/15/21, 2017. 24 X 36″

I may have finished the piece above this winter morning. Continuing along the lines of the last post, Hommage in Collage, I am including some images of my Father’s 1960’s work and relating it to what I am up to now. At the conclusion is an example of my work done in Las Cruces, New Mexico, also in winter that I’ll compare to this 1/21 piece.

Dad’s strongest artworks posess a kind of a monolithic inevitablity. They hold up as a single, integrated, object or event:


Jim Crane, ~1967. 48 X 48″

My 1/21 piece obviously appropriates the radiating (arms, rays, petals?) from this Jim Crane. The radiating form appears to be related to the “Agave” and leaf forms of some of my other work, including this decidedly Fraught-with-New Mexico-Summer FiestaAgave:


Fiestagave ’12 , 48 X 36″

Separating the Carey from the Jim, my work tends to divide the picture plane – at minimum delineating a bifurcation of the plane, in some cases working from a grid. Some suggest “story boards” filled with a series of discreet incidents. At times, the goal is to have one area of the picture utterly unrelated in form to an adjacent area, yet working together as a whole. The results may run-riot.

So, when am I best able to exercise some restraint in collage/painting?


Shady Side, Maryland, January 21, 2017

In Winter.

Winter commands restraint. My collage/paintings drift towards opening up and “emptying out.” For me. The palette trends neutral.

Cold Winter days I work inside, in Shady Side moving to the small, old canning shed. The collage/painting balance tips towards collage. Some spontaneous tearing and cut-paper findings aside, collage is a more considered and methodical a process than the potential for spontaneity and free flow of paints. For me. In spring and outside, I’ll be slinging paint again.

Here is a piece made, also in Winter, in Las Cruces New Mexico, two years ago:

Blanco Verde

Blanco Verde ’15 LoLo Collection

Note the grid.

Here is another Jim Crane that works as a “single, integrated, object or event:”


Jim Crane, ~1967? 48 X 48

Deceptively simple to achieve. For me.


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To the Manner Born: Homage in Collage


Carey Crane,  After Jim, December, 2016  36 X 24″

How to begin? Having taken a long break from Art-Making, where to start in again? I asked Jim Crane (Dad) this question some time ago. He would work intensely and prolifically for stretches before he was once again caught up in the life of a dedicated professor and art department administrator at Florida Presbyterian, later Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“I came to Florida with a raise in salary. But mainly, I thought it was a terribly exciting school with all sorts of possibilities, and I felt also I would have more time to paint, that part of it was not true.”

Teaching, and the Florida Presbyterian/Eckerd community became his passion. But still, he made a lot of wonderful art.

Dad talked about periods of making art as “emptying out” and the interim periods as “filling up.”


Jim Crane,  circa 1967

Painting/Collage: Defining a Period

How to begin? I propose to draw from a period of time in my father’s artwork defined by childhood memory – work created in St. Petersburg, Florida between 1963 and 1968. consider this the height of his Painting/Collage period, initiated a few years earlier by a dropped jar of Cadmium Red paint.


*A Jim Crane painting before the “Cadmium Red Scare”

Jim Crane: Oh yeah. That is a story I like to tell. I was painting in the graduate students studio [Michigan State] and I dropped a jar of cadmium red paint…which is fantastically expensive, cause I didn’t have a lot of money. I probably said a few cuss words under my breath and started tearing out papers from the big can of newsprint I had and wiping the stuff up. When I unfolded the paper, I found it was more interesting to me than what I was working on. So I borrowed some automobile lacquer from Ken Wynsma – that is what he was using, and  glued the paper to the painting. I really found it pretty interesting. It so happens that I was studying with Murray Jones at the time and Murray Jones had just come back from Japan and he was doing absolutely lovely paintings…or not paintings–collages with Japanese paper. So I bought some Japanese paper, and I started doing collages too, although with paint in them.  Murray was worried about me because he was afraid that he had over-influenced me and he called me in and talked to me. He looked at what I had done. And he said, “No, actually you’re combining collage and painting, and what I am doing is purely collage.”


Murray Jones, Nara I, 1960. web sourced

Circles, Squares, Veils, and Drips – A Vocabulary

Carey:  You talked . . . about the circle and the square. I think, the circle being eternal…

Jim:  The circle being a kind of symbol of nature and the eternal, like the moon is circular and all sorts of things are circular.  But the square is measured on each side. That’s kind of interesting because if you compare the collages, they are all on a square. And they contain squares except they contain circles too, but there is some kind of tension between the circle and the square. Back to the collages, I had talked earlier about. [Josef] Albers and . . . other people have used squares, and they were very “pure” squares. My squares break… they had torn edges, messed up surfaces sort of like the rationale was having a really hard time surviving in the world where there were things happening to it all the time. My squares did not live in the . . .  world of the Albers square because my squares, some of them, they were tortured, painful . . . .

Note that the circle (sun) and square are often used in Jim Crane’s earlier work. * above.

You will also note “veils” in a lot of my father’s work from this time. Veils are full sheets of paper made translucent by thinned acrylic medium adhesive, folded back upon themselves to create textures and linear rays of variegated opacity. To know a veil: The use of veils is clearly influenced by Murray Jones (photo above).

Retro-Beginnings and Endings

Jim Crane, 48 x 48″


Though Dad was supremely articulate about art, creating his artwork was not primarily an intellectual pursuit. He was of-his-time in taking a “process-oriented” approach to creating collage/paintings. His aim was not to realize a methodically conceived and carefully planned outcome. The process of creation was a “conversation” with the piece; one thing leads to another. In musical terms, he didn’t play from a score, but started with a familiar melody (vocabulary, materials, color palette) , then improvised his way towards a resolution.

He would usually work the collage elements with the panel “flat” – face up on the floor or low saw horses. That is often the best way to collage when using thinned medium, or to capture “flooding” – pooling washes of paint. There are many incidents of Expressionist style dripping in his work. My guess if that these drips were a stylistic device as often as incidental to the process. Naturally the panels would be tipped up to achieve this effect. I don’t recall him making use of his easel. Working in Florida allowed painting outside on the studio deck throughout much of the year.


Masonite panels. Masonite, or heat and pressure formed wood pulp composite panels, were and are readily available in 48 x 96″ sheets. Dad’s larger works employed this dimension ready-made. More typically, he would have the panels cut in half to 48 x 48″ squares, or those halves quartered into 24 x 24″ squares. I know that he had gallon jars of acrylic gesso around for priming panels, but suspect that he worked directly on the panels, using thinned acrylic mediums and paints to seal the masonite. His discovery of acrylic polymer mediums as collage adhesives was very fortunate:

Jim:  Incidentally, Murray had taught Ken and other people how to use automobile lacquer as a clear lacquer surface that they could use to glue stuff down. The lacquer thinner is absolutely toxic. It will get into your skin and in your lungs, and so that is what happened. Murray got a better job and moved to Ohio State University, but died from his use of the lacquer thinner. [?] 

Dad used acrylic paints nearly exclusively after the late 1950s. As for collage materials, he used newspaper and magazines early on, but mostly employed Japanese rice paper and shear fabrics – materials as materials without reference to a previous history or use. He would include small “found objects” on occasion, such as flattened bottle caps and pop-tops.


Jim Crane, 24 x 24″

I believe that he picked up the paper and had the masonite panels cradled (backed with 1 x 2″ wood supports) and framed in a little shop over the bay in Tampa. That meant that I could occasionally accompany him with the promise of a Cubano and Garbanzo soup at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.

In the Manner of Jim Crane: Similarity and Divergence

As I work “in the manner of” Jim Crane, no one is likely to confuse our efforts; once started, I take an improvisational approach as he did. For each painting/collage in this new “Jim” series, I have looked at one of his pieces and held it in my mind as a starting point, I did not continue to view that image as I worked. My own “conversation” with the piece in progress took over, followed to resolution. How do I know when a painting/collage is “done?” Much as one senses when a conversation with a friend is concluded, or a prized collection is agreeably displayed.

I have many thoughts on the convergence and divergence of Dad’s work and mine, but I’ve kept you long enough.  In conclusion, I will simply post one on my new collage/paintings and the Jim Crane that initially inspired it.

Retro Chrysius

Jim Crane, “Chrysalis” 24 x 24″


Carey Crane, after Jim, December, 2016. 24 x 36″

For more images of  Jim Cranes 1960s work, look here:


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James Gordon Crane 1927 – 2015

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