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Close, but no cigar.

My First Oil Painting

My First Oil Painting

It’s said that an artist is his/her own worst critic. Well, that’s certainly true of me. Even though I can see that I’ve gotten better over the years, I’m not yet where I think I want to be. Don’t get me wrong – I believe that I have talent; I believe in my abilities to create fine art – but I haven’t reached that stage in my artistry where I’m completely comfortable.  I generally begin a painting chanting “I THINK I can, I think I can,” and then of course I do it.  But I rarely start with the thought,  “This is cake, I can do this, hands down.”   There’s always a little hesitation, some trepidation.

As we close on 2012 and begin 2013 I, like most, engage in a little retrospective on life, love, dreams, career, and of course my art.Hold Me

When I look back at some of my earlier paintings and compare them to recent works, I feel a real sense of accomplishment.  I can definitely see the progress that I’ve made over the years, which is as it should be.  Many of my first works look so amateurish to me now, yet with every new painting I complete I look and look and pick it apart and look some more, never fully satisfied. Oftentimes I am pretty reluctant to even sign my nKOROame, because signing it would mean that it’s finished.

I think that un-satiated feeling derives from not yet having developed a style I call me own. (Interestingly I’ve been told by others that I do indeed have a style, only I myself can’t see it.)  Because I enjoy such an assortment of media and subject matter and technique I find it hard to lock myself into what I think is a specific style.  I can’t even attempt to clump my paintings into “periods” such as Picasso’s Blue and Rose periods.  Each time I pick up a brush to start a new painting the outcome is decidedly different from the last one I completed.Mike

Then again, if I ever find myself pigeon holed into a specific style – in my art or in my life – it would mean that I’ve stopped growing, stopped evolving, and that simply will not do. Notably, all of the Greats have danced between painting and sculpture and architecture and science and invention, dallying in different genres and media  – it’s part of what made them great. And because there’s still so much more that I want to try, because I haven’t learned it all, because I relish a good challenge, because I’m still not satisfied, I so look forward to 2013.

orchid My wish for you: Continue to grow, continue to evolve into that being you are meant to be – at least for this year.  Get as close as you can without lighting that cigar. 

 Now, throughout this article I’ve given you a little peek at my evolution thus far. embracedBesides the obvious, can you tell what’s old and what’s new? Friends


Meet the Artist Reception

William “Chilly” BramletImage

 Enjoy a laugh, a story, a glass of wine and light refreshments while taking in the spectacular artwork of William “Chilly” Bramlet.

With no formal training, Chilly began painting and experimenting with different media and techniques just 5 years ago and has accomplished a stunning collection of paintings and objects d’art that will simply awe you.

Please join us in giving Chilly a warm welcome during his premier exhibit at Handy Concepts Art Gallery on October 7, 2012, from Noon til 4:00 pm. We are located at 150 Country Club Road, Red Lion, PA on the lower level of Kerry’s Green. This event is open to the public and we hope to see you all there.

Picture Perfect

The first computer I ever worked with back in 1978 (showing my age here) was a behemoth mass of metal and buttons and switches, and took up the space of an entire room. 33 years later all of that technology can fit in the palm of my hand. Truly technology has brought us a very long way and for the most part that’s a good thing but for some, having such powerful technology in the palm of their hands sometimes gives them a false sense of their true abilities, or lack thereof.

Case in point: owning a digital camera does not make one a photographer. Point and shoot is wonderful technology for people who simply want to remember a vacation or capture images of their children in their Halloween costumes. Those are photos to be cherished for sure, but they belong in the family album and not in a gallery. 

Photo by Ansel Adams

A photographer on the other hand knows a little something about composition, and lighting, and directing the viewer’s eye to the focal point of the photograph. They are aware of brightness and contrast, backlighting, and color casts. Because they know these things they put a lot more work into a photograph than merely “pointing and shooting.” And also because they know these basics, very good photographers can often get away with point and shoot technology and still come away with fantastic photographic art.

"American Gothic" by Gordan Parks

Ansel Adams didn’t just take pretty pictures of landscapes. Gordon Parks didn’t justshoot photos of people. They were true storytellers. Their photos brought tears to viewer’s eyes. Their photos moved people to action. These artists captured atmosphere, height and depth, peace, love and despair, and hope with the click of the camera’s shutters. They drew you in and forced you to see, not just look. Their photos had soul. One could feel the enormity of the mountains and step into the valley and lose oneself in the sheer vastness of it all.  One could be overwhelmed by despair and feel great pride all at once from a single image. Anyone who viewed their photographs could lose themselves; become part of the landscape, part of the argument, part of the movement.

Before you approach a gallery, take a little time and study some of the old masters whose photographs are so much more than pretty pictures. Then take another glance at how things are looking through your lens.

“Wood” you be mine?

As we near the end of the month of August my eye wanders around the gallery and I am drawn to the wood. Such a versatile medium to work with. There are soft woods, hard woods, light woods, dark woods. Rough and smooth. Young and old. Wood reminds me of people. There are so many different varieties and colors and personalities. Wood has attitude. It has character, and if you pair a good piece of wood with an artist it gains a soul.

Full Count

"Full Count" Driftwood sculpture by Bernie Houston

Decidedly, Bernie Houston is a gallery favorite. His driftwood sculptures are definite crowd pleasers. Just the mere mention of driftwood and people are oohing and aahing over the artistry that is borne of nature.

 As when we were children and looked up at the sky and the clouds turned into horses, and faces, and lions, and ships, Houston has mastered the art of bringing out the natural imagery inherent in the wood itself. Bernie’s use of finished and unfinished wood is so appropriate to the medium and quite alluring.

wood chest

Hand-crafted Rosewood, Cherry, and Tiger Maple chest by Felix Milner

Then there is the exquisite craftsmanship of Felix Milner.  His hand-crafted fine furniture are truly works of art.  Though the top drawer is fitted to hold the family’s silverware, this lovely chest lends itself to fit-in in any room. Each drawer is felt-lined in black. Constructed of rosewood, cherry, and tiger maple with decorative inlay this functional treasure is one to pass down from generation to generation. It will one day suddenly become a marvelous antique.

From representational, to literal functionality, to the abstract – there are three pieces of rain tree wood lounging in the jewelry case. Raintree woodLight in color and weight, the smoothed exteriors turn to rough and jagged interiors but with a simplicity that is sheer magic. From them I get a very calming effect and I think I can actually hear the rain. 

All are available for purchase and can be seen at the gallery at Kerry’s Green and on the website at Do take just a little time to bask in the wonder of it all and perhaps choose a piece and ask, “Wood you be mine?”

Fancy That


Snow Fairies

Featured in the gallery this month of August is award-winning artist and illustrator Ellen Killmer of Red Lion, PA. Working in acrylic and watercolors Ellen creates whimsical, lighthearted paintings that call our inner child out to play. There are bunnies in a marching band, a bagpipe playing dog, a cat in the hen yard and fairies everywhere!  She’s so talented she can even make rats look like fun.  “Alphie’s First Snow” and “Sing a Song of Sixpence, the Baby King” are both award winners taking Best of Show and Director’s Choice awards.

Bunnies and Fireflies

Much of her inspiration comes from literature, poetry, and places that she’s visited. “I feel that every animal and person has an inner character that needs to be revealed,” she says.


Another man's garbage...

Come out to see her latest works along with a couple of old favorites. Ellen is available for personalized pet portraits and children’s book illustrations. Contact us if interested in custom, commissioned paintings or illustration. Call 717-417-6341 or send email to

Your feedback is welcomed.


Handy Concepts Art Gallery is now located in the lower level of Kerry’s Green at 150 Country Club Road, Red Lion, PA 17356. Please make note of the change of venue and stop by and see us.

The Gallery is OPEN Monday through Friday from 9 am til 5 pm. and open for each event held including open mic, comedy shows, battle of the bands and other engagements that are open to the public.  Not to be outdone, private parties can also visit the Gallery during your event or better yet, have your event IN the Gallery!  Wedding showers, baby showers, birthday parties, graduation dinner, or any other reason you can think of to have a party, if yours is a small crowd of 60 or less, the gallery is THE place to be. When you make your reservations, tell them you want to party in the Gallery!

We would love your feedback on the new location. It has a whole different feel to it – I think I’ll call it quiet elegance. Let us know your thoughts.  We look forward to seeing you there.


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