Fire Eater


Hedy Lamarr, one of my favorite actresses from the 30’s and 40’s has been in the news a couple of times recently. Lamarr was so beautiful that I think she couldn’t stand how people fawned over her all the time. Her beauty became a burden. And she was also something of a genius.

Upon learning that Lamarr was the inspiration for the original Catwoman, the gorgeous Anne Hathaway has modeled her version of the character in the upcoming Batman movie on the screen legend. You can read about it here. A leather-clad Hathaway channeling Hedy Lamarr! WOW!

In November of 2011, author Richard Rhodes published Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. In it, he tells of how her invention changed the world.

I have used Hedy Lamarr myself as inspiration in many of my paintings. In Fire eater, I actually kind of blended her features with those of film noir queen Gene Tierney. I guess for this painting I couldn’t pick who I wanted more.

As a postscript, I just wanted to thank those of you who have purchased my art, read my blog or just visited my website.  It has been a few months since my last blog, but as you know sometimes real life gets in the way and there are just so many hours in a day. Have a Safe, Happy and Prosperous New Year everyone!

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An artist’s inspiration can, of course, dry up just like a writer with writer’s block.  Except that I don’t know what it is called for artists. Artist’s funk, maybe?

Anyway, the way I like to cure it is by creating limits for me.  The problem with the arts is that you are always starting with a blank canvas or a blank piece of paper.  Now what??

By setting parameters you can work against those limitations.  Kind of like the limits of writing a hit single record.  With a hit single you are greatly restricted by time (less than five minutes) and you need to create a hook or else your song is dead in the water.  I like those kinds of restrictions.

One of my favorite challenges for art, when I don’t have an idea to work from, is to create a paperback pulp fiction cover design for a book that was never written. 

For this type of challenge I am restricted by format (must be vertical) and I usually need to incorporate type into the design – the title of this non-existent novel.

The best designs typically include random elements brought together. Random elements suggest surrealism, dreams, nightmares. And of course, the layout must include a vixen, a dame, a doll, a femme fatale.

Temptation available now as an art print or giclee print.

 The viewers create the story in their heads, as sordid, steamy and dark as it may be. So allow me to present my painting entitled “Temptation”.  I’ll let you take it from there.

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Marilyn Monroe in Chicago | part 2

While everyone continues to trash the “Forever Marilyn” sculpture in Chicago, I instead found myself reminiscing about how I fell in love with her. 

It was because of Marilyn Monroe that I started to develop a taste for old movies. When I was growing up, “Some Like it Hot” used to run a few times a year on the late show. I never missed it. Still love it today. 

And of course Marilyn Monroe inspired my art. As a kid, I had learned how to draw by copying pictures of animals and cartoons. Then one day in high school I found a book of photographs of Marilyn from Life magazine. I was in awe. I just started drawing picture after picture of her, getting down every curve – and there were a lot of curves to get down. And I guess I’ve been stuck on drawing pretty girls ever since.

The Marilyn Monroe Room at the Northbrook Public Library

Now my little town of Northbrook has a library that shows films for free.  The Northbrook Public Library has theatrical 35mm projection equipment which enables them to screen actual archival prints of movies. Their movie series is so popular that, according to the library’s multimedia manager Steve Gianni, the Chicago Reader named it the best free film series in the entire Chicago area.

But what is really fascinating is that the projection room of the library is called the “Marilyn Monroe Room.”  When I first heard about this room I had to go see it.  And I have to tell you, it is amazing. All four walls of the projection room are covered with pictures and memorabilia of Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe by Terry Luc - gift to the Northbrook Public Library

The only thing it was missing was me. There was no way that a Marilyn Monroe room was going to exist in my home town without me. So I painted a small little painting of Marilyn Monroe and donated it to the library – whether they wanted it or not.

So yes, I will be making a pilgrimage to “The Marilyn” on Michigan Avenue to pay homage to her. She was truly one of the greatest of all time.  As for the sculpture itself, I’ll give the last word to Jack Higgins of the Chicago Sun-Times (click here).

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Marilyn Monroe in Chicago | part 1

Forever Marilyn by Seward Johnson

Big art news for Pop Art fans: Seward Johnson’s 26 ft Marilyn Monroe sculpture was unveiled in Chicago this week next to TribuneTower.

Talk about larger than life!

 I love big fun art all over the city – from “The Batcolumn”, to “The Picasso” to “The Bean” – and “The Marilyn” is right up my alley. I was also interested to hear what the buzz was about colossal Marilyn in her “The Seven Year Itch” pose. And here is a sampling:

From Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times (who calls the movie “Inception” a masterpiece) – “…this thing is just hideous.”

From Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune – “…as tawdry as a peep show.”

From Abraham Ritchie of the Chicago Art Blog – “It’s creepy schlock from a fifth-rate sculptor that blights a first-rate public art collection.”

Comments from Lee Bey and others were in the same vein. 

Geez – what a bunch of killjoys. What really annoyed the critics was the way people were posing and taking pictures looking up Marilyn’s white dress between her legs.  Well, you know, boys will be boys, and sometimes men will be boys, and sometimes even women will be girls.

If it offends you to see tourists having their picture taken next to a sculpture, go hang out by the Dubuffet’s sculpture, “Chicago”, in front of the James Thompson Center.  The next time a tourist takes a picture of that one will probably be the first time.

What offends me is that there are people – not just kids but young adults – who don’t even know who Marilyn Monroe was? Never even heard of her. One of the most beautiful women of all time, an American icon and extremely under-rated actress, and she is already fading into obscurity.

If nothing else, maybe this sculpture will keep her memory alive a little longer. So I urge you, not only to see the sculpture, but afterwards go home and watch a Marilyn Monroe movie. You want to see her in one of the greatest movies ever? See “Some Like it Hot”. Like silly comedies? Try “The Seven Year Itch”. Marilyn as a Femme Fatale? ”Niagara”.  Film noir your thing? “Asphalt Jungle”. Crazy baby-sitter movies? “Don’t Bother to Knock”.  (Yes, seriously, she played the crazy baby sitter.)

For me, I just want to thank Seward Johnson, for bringing the fun to Michigan Avenue– because hideous, tawdry, creepy schlocky art is OK by me.

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It’s all a scam!

As far a politics go, I lean a bit to the right.  Many of my friends lean a bit to the left.  Some of them to the far left.  I love the political banter and debating among friends.

But no matter what side you’re on, sometimes you just have to throw up your hands and say, “It’s all a scam!”

Take ethanol for example. We give the ethanol industry billions of dollars in subsidies. It is less efficient than gasoline, costs more to transport, drives up the prices on food and does not reduce pollution. Here’s a thought – if you are growing food – EAT IT! But Iowa is a big ethanol state and that’s where the election starts, so all the guys and gals running for president support it. What a surprise.

And how about the War on Drugs? Why don’t we just call it the National Endowment for the International Drug Cartels. We’ve turned illegal drug trade into a hugely profitable – and deadly – industry. Didn’t we learn anything from Prohibition?

 I could go on – and you could too.  Everyone has their own pet peeves.

So maybe I was a little bit angry when I created this t-shirt design. (Possibly channeling Ralph Steadman? Not sure.) All I know is that – Left, Right or Center – here is a sentiment we can all agree on.

It's All A Scam! t-shirts available in S, M, L, XL, XXL

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The Golden Arrow, a little Frazetta tribute

When there were still book stores and record stores, one of the most simple pleasures was browsing. You could spend hours looking for that ‘something new’ that would send your imagination soaring.

But actually many times the real magic wasn’t on the inside.  It was right there on the cover. So many of these artists and illustrators whose work appeared on book and album covers remained anonymous to the general public. Sometimes they broke through and gained quite a bit of notoriety and success with the general public. Everyone remembers the amazing fantasy art album covers of Roger Dean that he created for Yes and other bands.  Do you still have your Uriah Heep Demons and Wizards album? Dean is the guy who painted that one, too.

But the greatest of them all was Frank Frazetta. Frazetta’s art redefined the fantasy art genre the way Marlon Brando redefined acting.  Sword wielding Vikings, Amazonian warriors, sabertoothed alien tigers, crazed berserkers, Tarzan, Vampirella, Conan the Barbarian and more.  He didn’t just paint them, he brought them to life. His figures looked like real flesh and blood. His colors and composition captured the action at the most decisive moment.

Frazetta passed away on May 10, 2010.  Check out his art at and you’ll probably say,” Oh, that’s the guy who painted the Death Dealer!”

Now I’m just a dabbler when it comes to fantasy art.  But Frazetta did inspire me to create one or two pieces. Here’s The Golden Arrow.  It is a little unusual for me in that I used pastel pencil instead of acrylics.  Hope you like it. It is available now as an art print or canvas mounted giclee print.

The Golden Arrow available now as an art print or canvas mounted giclee print.

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Whiskey on the Rocks with L’emma Peel

In a previous blog, I talked about how the movie stars of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s made a such lasting impression on me that they continue to be a source of inspiration for my paintings. I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the beautiful women of the small screen. 

I don’t have to tell you how crazy the real world was in the 1960s. But if you were a kid growing up on a steady diet of TV shows, you’d think life for most grownups was working a pretty skate job, having martinis at lunch and coming home to a smoking-hot girlfriend or wife. And I remember gazing at the women on prime time like I remember listening to my old 45rpm singles. Here’s a little sampling of some of the ‘hits’.

There were the ‘normal’ girlfriends and wives: Marlo Thomas (That Girl), Mary Tyler Moore (Dick Van Dyke Show), Donna Reed (Donna Reed Show).  There were the ‘magical’ girlfriends and wives: Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie), Elizabeth Montgomery (Bewitched).  There were the single moms: Diahann Carroll (Julia) and Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family).

Can’t forget the country girls of Hooterville: Ellie Mae from The Beverly Hillbillies, the three sisters of Petticoat Junction and Eva Gabor, always attired in her feathery negligees. And also Dean Martin’s Golddiggers and the girls of Laugh-in.

But the ones that really got my imagination going were the spy girls.  Ann Francis as Honey West, Stephanie Powers as The Girl From Uncle and the most amazing woman of all, Diana Rigg as Emma Peel from the Avengers.

The Avengers was a BBC espionage show like none other. Bizarrely British, it featured the most incredible storylines and photography.  And Emma Peel with her karate moves, leather cat suits and auburn flip was absolutely mesmerizing.  Forget the G.I. Joes, where can I get one of those to play with?

Of course the question of the day for every boy was: Ginger or Mary Ann?  The correct answer, however, was Ginger and Mary Ann.  And what about Lovey?

Whiskey on the Rocks with L'emma Peel

 Whiskey on the Rocks with L’emma Peel is available now as an art print and as a canvas mounted giclee print.
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