Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Southie guy at the White House.

I am returned home from a reception at the White House last week. Yep, That’s right … me at the ‘White House’. It’s not that I was trying to get there before Obama … but back in July I was asked if I would like to paint an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree.
Duh, I said …let me think …
Of course I said yes and snapped up the invitation. This idea was sponsored by George W’s wife, Laura Bush, and each congressional district in the country was asked to propose an artist. Thank ya … Congressman Steve Lynch.
So in September, in the mail comes a large shiny silver ball … about 5 ½ inches in diameter.
Note … we’re talking about a shiny ball. The surface … Shiny. No, not just shiny … but really shiny … shiny as in a large ball of mercury. I’m a watercolorist. Watercolors do not work very well on shiny metal surfaces. Think like trying to paint on a toaster. The stuff rolls right off like … uh … uh … well … a large ball of mercury.
So I had to switch to acrylics. This is a kind of paint that I can hardly spell … let alone use well.
For a while … in the spirit of fairness … I thought I should do the right thing … give it up and let someone with acrylic and shiny ball painting expertise paint the ornament But then I says, “Screw that!”
And … after much mental anguish (mental anguish is what we artists call thinking) … and a drop or two of Jameson’s … I started sketching and decided on Southie as a theme. And what better to represent the 9th Congressional District than Southie’s Castle Island and the people who enjoy it.
But how do you hold this shiny slippery ball to paint it? First I hung it down on a piece of string, but that was like working out on a speed punching bag. Then I I tried a flat surface but it was rolling all over the table. Then I used my head … and some duct tape, bubble-wrap, a soup bowl and a hunk of non-skid rubber stuff that’s used to lay under carpets.
This steadied the ball and I went acrylic. Painted Castle Island’s Fort Independence, with walkers, roller-bladers, bike-riders, and moms with baby carriages circling the fort, and sent it off.

Then comes an invitation to the White House reception for me and one guest. I took my daughter Catherine. Her two sisters and brother might start talking to me again by the time Obama is up for re-election.
The tree and the reception was in the East Wing in the Blue Room …like I’d know what a Blue Room was … right? Well it was blue wasn’t it? Getting into the White House wasn’t too much different than say … going through sixteen-seventeen airport security checks.
However, there we were among five hundred or so other painters and guests from all over the country … good looking Army, Navy and Marine guards in dress uniform … and a bunch of black suits with a squinty eyes, tight lips and computer chips in their ears. Also in this Blue Room was a large catering staff and a great spread of food and beverage. We’re talking about some serious lobster and shrimp … and it just don’t get much better than that.
Somewhere … at some time … I heard that private funding paid for the reception. I hope so and I accept that concept just to keep from feeling too guilty.
OK … now for the tree. It was what you would call a Big Tree. A twenty-footer. Covered with these magnificent ornaments from top to bottom. Some were incredible and most were fantastic and the whole scene was magnificent..
I was already to blast out that mine was at the top nuzzling against the angel … because the tree was so high no one could really see it to prove me wrong … but … uh uh … there I was at the very bottom. Well I was not about to let any negativity get between me and my White House moment …and after a short spell I came to the conclusion that my ornament was supporting the whole tree … and besides, you could see it better than the show-off ones on the middle or on the top … particularly if you were you on all fours.

But wait a minute. Don’t the Bushes have this dog that bit a reporter last month? What was I having … a Woody-Allen-worry/guilt-moment? The ornament was too big for a little doggy to bite … so give it up … what else could a dog do to it? Hmm … let’s not go there.
Well after two hours of living the high life with pride and gluttony … we were cleared out for another party coming on. I did manage to swipe two or three napkins with the White House seal. OK … they were paper napkins … but they were hardly used.
Thank you Congressman Steve and wife Margaret.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Off to the White House

Today, Tuesday, December 2, I’m off to a reception at the White House. Yep, That’s right … the ‘White House’. It’s not that I’m trying to get there before Obama does … but … I was … uh … there’s a … hmm … like every year … alright … let me start from the beginning.

Back in September I was asked if I would like to paint an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree. Duh …let me think …

Of course I said yes. This idea is sponsored by George W’s wife … Laura Bush and each congressional district in the country can propose an artist. Thank ya … Congressman Steve Lynch

So in the mail comes a large shiny silver ball … about 5 ½ inches in diameter.

Note … this is a shiny silver ball. It’s like painting on a toaster. I’m a watercolorist. It doesn’t work. Rolls right off like a ball of mercury.

So I have to switch to acrylics. This is a kind of paint that I can hardly spell mush less use well. But after much thought and planning … I decided on Southie as a theme. It's not a Christmassy thing ... but what better to represent the 6th Congressional District then portraying Southie’s Castle Island and the people who enjoy it. See the images below.

So I did the acrylic thing with people circling the fort and sent it off. And today … tuh-dah … I’m off to D.C. Thanks again to Stephen Lynch and the lovely Margaret.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Well, summer is in full swing and the annual Arts Affair on the Boardwalk at Marina Bay was held this past weekend. This year I was fortunate to be awarded the "William E. Beyer Award of Excellence" for my painting "Marina".

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Paint first ... ask questions later (Story of my first painting sale)

As a young guy learning how to paint at a summer workshop in Provincetown in the summer of 1951 I had no thoughts of making a living … or that someone would want to pay money to me for things I was learning to do. I was just training with brushes and colors … in between late night parties and laughter. Never thought much about making a living
Five mornings a week I painted and seven afternoons and evenings a week I bussed tables at the Moors Restaurant, out near the beach. One afternoon a very pretty woman came in with her two small children and her mother … or maybe the mother-in-law.
I schmoozed with them as I set up the table and, I guess because of my city-street attitude, the woman asked what I was doing in P’town. She was genuinely surprised when I told of the painting workshop ... then asked if she could see some of my work.
You know, I was macho and comfortable enough chatting them up while setting the tables for them … but she wanted to see my stuff … what was that all about? Why would she want to see my stuff? I began stuttering and shuffling because I sure as hell didn’t want anyone to look at my work. I guess I figured it was cool to talk about being a painter and let them wonder how good I was rather than to let them see the work and probably remove all doubt.
I had my gear in my locker including three or four paintings I had just finished. I was pleased with one of them … a painting of a fish processing plant jutting out into the harbor on a fog-drenched morning. I liked it … It was a good painting.
I remained firm in my refusal to show my works for about fifteen seconds. Did I mention that she was pretty? So I went off to my locker.
When I returned to the table a man had joined the party. Rats … must be the husband, I thought. Parking the car. I handed the paintings to the woman and went off to fetch some water. And when I cane back the guy says to me … “How much are you selling these for?”
Whoa … having to show them was bad enough … now he thinks I was trying to sell them. I took a bit of an issue with his question and his tone … like I was some kind of a gypsy selling roses from table to table.
I said I was not selling them. He gave me a look that was like … Yeh, Right.
He said “What do you mean your not selling them?”
I said, “I’m not selling them. The lady asked what I was doing in Provincetown and I told her I was in a workshop. I work here afternoon and nights … and I paint in the mornings … and I really didn’t want to show them. I don’t show my paintings … I don’t sell my paintings.” I had my dignity.
And now I was really getting agitated because I was trying to explain something very simple and doing a bad job of it.
He said, “You don’t sell your paintings!”
I said … “You got it.”
Then he holds up the painting I liked … the foggy fish plant … and says … “Well if you were selling them … what would you sell this one for?”
Now I figured he was playing games … having a little sport with me. I was into a slow burn. They were all looking at me … so I figured … “To hell with it.” I really wanted to bust his chops and make him look silly in front of his very pretty wife.
I thought to myself … let’s see if he can put his money where his mouth is. I smiled, leaned forward … locked into his eyes and said, “Twenty bucks.”
So the guy reaches into his pocket and pulls out his wallet picks out a twenty and holds it out for me.
I looked at the twenty … then at my painting … that was getting better looking and better looking as the seconds ticked away.
Now don’t forget … this was 1951 … and back then twenty bucks would go a long way for me in P’town. Rent … Food … Nights of splendor. Mostly the splendor.
I licked my lips … seven, eight, nine, ten … I grabbed the twenty and said, “You’re not getting it back.”
Now everybody laughed and I went off to my other chores filled with a bittersweet joy of selling my first painting ever … but one that I really didn’t want to sell.
Later in the afternoon, as things slowed down, I was chatting up with the bartender and he asked, “What was going on with the Fords?”
I said … “The Fords,”
He says, “The Fords.”
I says … “What Fords?”
He said “The Fords … the party against the window … you were showing them some of your paintings.”
I said, “Them! Oh yeh! They were nice Although the guy was a wise guy … he was busting on me. But he bought one of my paintings.”
The bartender said, “Henry Ford Jr. bought one of your paintings?”
I said, “Henry Ford Jr.? … like in the beep, beep, beep, Henry Ford … Automobile-Ford? … Model T-Ford? … Fords?”
He said, “Yeh … That was Henry Ford Jr.”
I thinks … “How do you like that? I coulda nailed him for forty bucks.”


· Don’t argue with a client.
· Why paint something that you don’t want people to see?
· Painting for money is nice.
· All paintings are Af-FORD-able.

Blog me back and share your the story of your first painting-sale. Or poem ... or song ... or photograph ... or whatever.

Dan McCole

Happy St.Patrick's Day

Well, it is that time of year again when shamrocks and green prevail. Here are some views of past parades.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's That Time Again

Well with spring training starting up I thought I would give you a look at one of my new paintings - "BIG PAPI" David Ortiz.


Here are some of my cityscapes from a different viewpoint than most. My works will soon be showcased in a new DVD. Visit my website at

Walk Through My Gallery

I thought you might like to take a quick walk through my virtual gallery.