My Thoughts... Exactly!

Hey, you wanna know what I think?

Page 4 of 21

Playing with Paint

I’m starting a new painting, 5″ x 7″ on Panel.

I’m planning to do some experimenting with materials, and starting with this pencil on gessoed masonite.

The drawing is of my wife at the time. It’s from a photo that was taken by Morgan Weistling in 2002 when we visited him and his family. The shot was taken with the natural light that comes into his studio during the day.


I completed this a week later… no, it did not take a week, it just took a week to get to it. I did the finish live on my Dave The Painting Guy broadcast.

I tried to keep the shadows thin and very warm, and then heavier on the opaque lights. This is to help the illusion of cool light in a warm environment.

Putting Off: A Story of Procrastination

Drew M. Darrow, my oldest sonSometimes — no, usually — the consequences of procrastination are unforeseen at any of the myriad moments a task is shoved off the list for the time-being.

I never got around to filing my actual 2007 Income Tax forms at the right time, in April. I filed for an automatic extension. That gave me until October 15 — a few days from now. I made a phone appointment with my tax accountant for Friday October 10, 3pm. I called at 3:00 on the nose, and my accountant answered. “I’m running late on the appointment before you… give me another hour.”

So I called back at 4pm. He asked for another 1/2 hour. I gave him 35 minutes, and called him back. No answer. I called every few minutes, and at 4:50 he answered, telling me he was done, but he needed a bathroom and coffee break. “Call back in 15 minutes.”

• • •

Sometime between 16 and 25 my son Drew became a singer and guitar player. I knew he was a guitar player for years, because he would either grab my guitar and strum away the hours, or bring his own to beach gatherings, picnics or wherever it was he figured the events of which he’d like to tune out and instead focus on his guitar. But I did not know he was a good singer until recently when he handed me a CD with songs he recorded while leading congregational singing during a segment of a church service designated for musical worship. The same evening he handed me the CD, was also the evening of his first Art Show, and among the attendees was Jimmy Robeson, a fellow musician whose music I like, and so I bought one of Jimmy’s CDs and eventually both CDs and my other stuff made it to the car, where in a blurred bit of confusion I put one CD in the player and the other in a stack of my things.

I just
the voice,
the instrumentality
and musicality
of it all.
I recall listening to Drew’s friend Jimmy on the way home from the gallery and thinking what a nice, earthy, styled voice he has, kind of smokey at the right times, but with full-volume gusto when called for. Very nice voice, this Jimmy. My only disappointment was that I had just bought from Jimmy not his earlier CD which my daughter also owned and I had heard, rather a compilation of worship/church songs, which I generally don’t enjoy for entertainment’s sake, nor for singing at church either, really, but that’s more for philosophical reasons related to my ideas of what kind of worship God enjoys vs what modern routines we slog through at church on Sunday mornings — all of which I can save for another time. Still, Jimmy’s got a great voice, and handles the guitar deftly, so I listened on the way home and just enjoyed the voice, the instrumentality and musicality of it all.

The next day I got into my car again for an errand, and the CD player started up, and I decided I wasn’t in the mood for more church/worship music, so I popped the CD out of the player so I could put it back in the Jimmy case. That’s when I found Jimmy’s CD already in it’s case, and realized for the first time that I had been listening to my own son Drew all that time.

I didn’t know he was a singer. No one told me, and he’d never sung in front of me. It really took quite a bit of time for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I was listening to my son sing — and that was him on the guitar, too! I wondered why I didn’t know. Why hadn’t I been invited to hear him sing and play before? When did he turn into a fine singer?

Last night, Drew was scheduled as the second act at our large church’s first annual Art, Music, Dance, Drama, Poetry event. It just happens that my son and I enjoy the same church — it’s not like we attend as a family. And on our own, he and I each submitted pieces to the art gallery segment of this art weekend. He also submitted a song, and as I learned Thursday morning, would be performing Friday evening a little past 5:30pm. I was excited to see him perform, finally.

• • •

I called my tax accountant at 5:15pm. No answer. 5:18. 5:21. 5:25. 5:30. 5:35. He finally answered. We got down to business for the next 40 minutes discussing the data, the details, the financial prognosis, as my son performed before an audience of maybe 100 to 200, 6 miles away.

I did not know I would miss such an important event when I failed to file my taxes on time 6 months ago.

There are plenty of other good reasons not to procrastinate, but I’ll get to those later.

VisualHub Disappears. I am sad.

Tyler Loch, the funny, sassy, brilliant mind behind one of the most useful video conversion utilities ever made for a Mac just announced he is closing his website forever. Just a vague explanation as to why:

After much soul-searching (it’s not you, it’s me), for personal reasons, Techspansion is closing its virtual doors.

I think he’s being held by aliens, like Art Bell was a couple of years back.

I could be wrong.

This is sad, to me. For a brilliant mind to have constructed something that made it SO easy for the rest of us to do video conversions, he was also remarkably funny. His button for advanced settings, for example, produced an advanced settings control panel that starts with the warning “Don’t! You’ll screw it all up!” — which was usually true.
Visual Hub
Anyway, boom, it’s gone. Can’t buy it.

He posted backup instructions to users who have bought it, and also claims that the back-up instructions will soon disappear, too. So I am preserving them here.

In honor of a great tool by a great guy…

In order to get VisualHub working if you need to switch computers, you need to back up two things:

1: VisualHub itself
2: The conversion engine

To back up the conversion engine, Copy the folder at:
/Library/Application Support/Techspansion/

…for good measure, you can also back up your Preferences file, containing your registration info in case you lose the original purchase e-mail. It’s at:

As far as I can tell, VisualHub 1.34 will continue to work up to and through Snow Leopard. I obviously can’t predict the future and what Apple will do, though.

Thanks for enjoying Techspansion’s software. It’s been an amazing journey.

And here’s what you get if you cancel an operation in VisualHub:
VisualHub Cancel

Jan Painting in Progress

I started a painting of my oldest sister Jan on Monday night, to bring attention to the one-year anniversary of her death to breast cancer on September 29, 2007.
I was doing the painting live on the air on my Dave The Painting Guy Show, and it became clear that the painting was not going to get finished in this one evening… so I changed gears for a bit and played in impromptu slide show, using some of the images that were shown at her memorial service and 2 of the songs played during the slide show.
If you’d like to see this “slide show,” it was recorded, and embedded below Jan’s picture at Just click the white arrow to get it playing.

The Blind Merchant – Color Sketch

The Blind Merchant - Color Sketchby David R. Darrow
8" x 10-1/2" (20.3cm x 26.7cm)
Oil on Panel

About This Painting

Last evening on my internet video broadcast Dave The Painting Guy I did a preparatory painting, known in painting circles as a color sketch.

This is part of a process of a larger work in which I can test at a small size how I might approach the color and some of the brushwork on a larger work.

In the case of The Blind Merchant, a commission from a San Diego collector of my work, I painted this on top of a mounted print of the pencil layout I have already done on the final, 18″ x 24″ canvas.

The painting is ready to go, and I will begin it in a 2 – 3 hour broadcast beginning Wednesday at 5pm, Pacific time.

To go directly to the broadcast, where you can view my show if it is live, or view video clips of past broadcasts, click here. ◙

Samuel Gompers

Samuel Gompersby David R. Darrow
8" x 10" (20.3cm x 25.4cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
This painting is not framed
Click here to see it larger

About This Painting

Next Dave The Painting Guy show:
Today, Wednesday, 5pm Pacific Time (GMT -8)

This past Monday, I relaunched my Dave the Painting Guy streaming internet show (website link) after over a month off the air, a month off from any painting (other than walls), and a month of packing and relocating.

Somehow Labor Day seemed like an appropriate day top get back to work. So I announced my intentions to go on the air again to subscribers to my notification list… and then set about trying to figure out what I would paint fro the show.

As always, careful planning and meticulous forethought are not my strongest gifts.

So it seemed Labor Day might have some interesting faces associated with its history, and sure enough, this interesting man, whom I painted as a demo on the show.

Samuel Gompers, according to Wikipedia “…helped found the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in 1881 as a coalition of like-minded unions. In 1886 it was reorganized into the American Federation of Labor, with Gompers as its president. He would remain president of the organization until his death (with the exception of one year, 1895).”

And he had a pretty nice face for a painting demo. ◙

In <censored> We Trust

MSNBC is taking a poll:
Should the motto “In God We Trust” be removed from U.S. currency?
Make your voice heard. Click the link and cast a vote.

Black Dress

Black Dressby David R. Darrow
11" x 14" (27.9cm x 35.6cm)
Oil on Panel
Collection of Bob Camp,
Cincinnati, OH – USA

About This Painting

I’ve just moved and am very excited about my new studio… it’s the perfect setting to reintroduce my Internet Video Show Dave the Painting Guy which I will have on the air again this week.

From the new studio in Encinitas, CA!

One of the last paintings I did on the air from my old studio in Oceanside, CA was this one I have titled Black Dress.

I liked this woman’s face and curly hair, so I asked her if I might pain her sometime, noting that I would kind of like to direct the lighting… she agreed, asked her daughter to photograph her — following my instructions — and sent me several to choose from. I liked this composition best.

I decided to paint this one live on my show, keeping it heavy and painterly, and also decided to experiment a little with the start: I started the painting with my reference photo upside down as a means of forcing my mind to see abstractly, to get the shapes right. (Watch the first in the video clip series)

The result was very pleasing to me, and the painting sold immediately…

…to her husband. ◙

English Muffins

I know they are not English.

But why, in all these years, have they not figured out how to slice them all the way through before packaging them? Is it really that hard?

I get why they don’t slice hot dog buns all the way: so you have a hinge… a folding bed for your dog.

But, are there really people out there trying to make double-sided, tiny sandwiches?

Hey, Dad…

What’s it like in a place with no time? Do you have any since that it’s been 3 years since you left this world at 10:00am?

I still miss you. Just so you know.

I love you, and my memories of you.

Signed, Framed, Delivered: It’s Yours!

David and Mariam, the portrait's subjectI delivered my commissioned portrait of Mariam directly to her place of work yesterday. Rather than having me bring the painting to her office, which she felt would certainly lead to unwanted ribbing from her already tease-prone coworkers, she met us in the lobby, complimented the portrait, asked for a little stack of my business cards and walked directly out to the parking garage to sequester the painting from prying eyes.

She later wrote that she took a few trusted friends to the garage gallery and showed them, which garnered the artwork still more compliments.

Cards and Letters

Birthdays are nice. You not only get e-mail greeting cards from friends and family, but also from every stinkin’ online service or membership you have given your birth date to. I had forgotten half my accounts.

I got a birthday greeting from Coca Cola, MySpace, eBay, PayPal, Facebook,, SmoothJazz 98.1, MovieLink, Blockbuster, Workworker’s Journal, WetCanvas, Southwest Airlines, and many others…

I feel very special, and somewhat famous.

Surround Sound Birthday

51st BirthdayIt’s great to finally, again for the first time since I was 1 year old, to have my age digits match the number of audio channels available for my listening pleasure. We didn’t have stereo when I was 2, and neither AC3 nor Quadraphonic existed until well after I was 3. Wow. That was geeky.

So today is my 5.1 birthday.

Anyway, as you can see, I don’t wake up so pretty, but the coffee has a wonderful effect on my waking mood. I am grateful for yet another day, and another year living in this great country, with outstanding children and a satisfying profession. God has been good to me — more than I deserve.

Life is beautiful — even when I am not.

Father’s Day with No Father

I miss my dad.

It was three years ago that I saw my dad for the last time. I am grateful to God that I had that last opportunity to spend my Father’s Day 2005 with him, and to be able to sit beside him as we watched along with the family my tribute video — a short story of his life in music, pictures and video clips.

Since that time, I am aware of the seeming finality of death, through the many, countless events I have wanted to share with my dad over the phone, or via e-mail; the new technologies that I have acquired or learned; or the accomplishments of my children about which I would love to brag, as if I had anything at all to do with their skills and knowledge.

51 years ago, I was born to my mother and him on Father’s Day… my actual birthday falls on a Monday (tomorrow) this year. But Father’s Days are not what they used to be. I now own the coffee mugs and some of the other gifts that were mailed to him for this occasion, and I remember him with each cupful of my favorite morning beverage…

My uncle Willis died just a few weeks before him that year, then my sister Jan just over two years later, then my dear brother-in-law Scott a couple of months ago. Joanne, my surviving sister, joined my brother and I at my mother’s house for her 80th birthday last Tuesday, and as we rode to our favorite childhood Christian Family Camp Mount Hermon — just the four of us — I commented about how these four of us were now “the whole family.”

It seemed small.

And through circumstances no one wants to face, and with a bit of irony, I am the only married Darrow child. And I am grateful to God for the many graces that have come come my way in that arena.

I, for one,
intend to
just go back
to blogging
the way I
did before
Wednesday, in celebration of what would have been Joanne and Scott’s 31st anniversary, we went to San Francisco on what turned out to be the most beautiful San Francisco day I can ever remember. It was a glorious family time with my mom and sister. Mom, at 80, can walk faster and with more energy than many 35 year olds I know.

We talked about our losses over the last three years, and decided that those heavenly incarnations of those we lost would be very disappointed to find out we didn’t get back to our lives and live them richly with every bit of the personality they knew here on earth, so I, for one, intend to just go back to blogging the way I did before: just as corny, irreverent and playful as I have been — with all due respect to those who have passed on.

Living is pretty nice, after all. I intend to enjoy it.


Jenby David R. Darrow
8" x 16" (20.3cm x 40.6cm)
Oil on Stretched Canvas
Collection of Renée Richardson,
Washington, DC – USA

About This Painting

I try to make a habit of painting strangers. In fact, my business card which bears a sample of my oil portraiture makes reference to my interest in strangers with my tag line “Beautiful Strangers: Oil Portraits of Friends I Don’t Know.”

Now, usually I reserve my canvas manipulations for the likenesses of people I have met and asked to paint. But the other day I painted a total stranger as an alla prima painting demonstration for the viewers of my almost-daily painting show Dave The Painting Guy.

Number 1 of the 4 video clips of this painting in progress can be found here.

“Jen,” as I have since discovered her name to be, left a comment on one of my painting photos on, and so I jumped over to her collection to look at her paintings. Seeing only thumbnails there, I thought that one of the shots was a wonderful painting so I clicked the thumbnail to look at it more closely only to discover that it was actually an out of focus cell-phone picture she had shot.

So, I wrote to her and asked if I could do a painting… an artistic interpretation of that shot. She gave me permission, and the rest is history.

It was a fun painting to do… the angle of the head, the elegant lines of her neck, her curly hair. Beautiful women make for beautiful paintings. ◙


Meganby David R. Darrow
11" x 14" (27.9cm x 35.6cm)
Oil on Stretched Canvas
Collection of Jose Arce,
Jacksonville, IL – USA

About This Painting

Last June, I was very excited about an article that came out about me and my portrait painting, and was celebrating at my favorite custom-brew house, Pizza Port in Carlsbad, CA, handing out copies of the the San Diego Reader which contained the article about me, trying, to no avail, to get someone to think I was a big deal and buy me a beer.

A gorgeous, young woman walked by with lovely eyes and beautiful curls in her long, deep-red hair, and so I whipped out my business card which has my website on it, and asked her if I might paint her.

The next day she called, and she and her boyfriend Mike came over for a quick photo sitting for an eventual painting. Last November, I held a painting workshop for artists in Southern California, and used a large photo of Megan from that shoot to demonstrate my painting methods, concentrating on Values and Shapes, and how to quickly get a good likeness.

I only painted for 45 – 60 minutes, and did not finish the painting at that workshop.

Fast Forward

A few weeks ago, I began broadcasting a painting show on the Internet from my studio. It’s a free-to-anyone show called “Dave the Painting Guy” (Google it). As one of my many demonstrations to date, I decided to complete this portrait of Megan. The entire process (except for the first hour) was recorded and saved for viewing, with segment 1 found here:

On that internet show, people can log in and “chat” via a text window, and I can answer questions via video and audio. It’s a very casual show, with lots of laughs, and honest, straight-forward answers to viewers’ questions.
You can also log in there and watch this “episode” and others to watch this painting reach completion.

Shout Out

I have not been keeping up with American Idol this season. I have caught a few, and as always, the young talent is remarkable, and I find myself thinking again, If you’ll just listen to Simon, you have a chance in The Business.

I hear a lot of folks say that Simon is just there for the shock value that they get good ratings with his determined meanness. I see it differently: he’s startlingly frank, blunt, direct. The worst I would accuse him of is using the verbal tool hyperbole — over-stating or using exaggeration to make a point. I can’t even hear the words horrendous, hideous or absolutely appalling without hearing his distinctly British accent.

The one I would accuse more easily of exhibiting a mean spirit is the show’s host, Ryan Seacrest. If there is a playful understanding between him and Simon, the recipient of the majority of his barbs, the humor in it escapes me.

Simon might
be showing
a softer,
spiritual side
I always blow it off thinking Simon can laugh all the way to the bank. The show is, as I understand it, his creation, and he gets a percentage of every dollar made from the show and the recordings all the Idol stars make, at least for some period of time.

Imagine my momentary surprise when at the end of tonight’s show American Idol Gives Back, a charity drive for a variety of causes, the current Idol stars joined a choir on stage to close out the show with what is, in my opinion, one of the most singable, exquisitely musical and moving worship songs I have ever heard in church — and in my 50 years of church, I have heard everything from the trite ‘7/11 songs’ (same 7 lines sung 11 times) to the forever-great standards like Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art — the song, rooted in Psalms, which they sang so beautifully, so powerfully: Chris Tomlin’s Shout to the Lord.

Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing
Power and Majesty, praise to the King;
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name.
I sing for joy at the work of your hands,
Forever I’ll love You, forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.

My Jesus, my Savior, Lord, there is none like You;
All of my days I want to praise the wonders of Your mighty love.
My comfort, my shelter, tower of refuge and strength;
Let every breath, all that I am, never cease to worship You.

Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing
Power and Majesty, praise to the King;
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name.
I sing for joy at the work of your hands,
Forever I’ll love You, forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.

Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing
Power and Majesty, praise to the King;
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name.
I sing for joy at the work of your hands,
Forever I’ll love You, forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have…
Nothing compares to the promise I have…
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.

I sat and watched in wonder. It had a calming effect on me. It even brought a slight smile to my face as I wondered if that old curmudgeon Simon might be showing a softer, more spiritual side.

I don’t know.

But when the show’s credits were done rolling and the screen went black, they added a cameo bit with Ben Stiller showing up on an empty stage in the now-empty auditorium, who upon realizing — as the bit went — that he was too late, walked off the stage cussing and swearing, having his mouth blurred and sound bleeped.

Brilliant, Hollywood! At least you have consistency working for you.

Making California A Safer Place

Some brilliant minds tried to get the City Council of Los Angeles to “proclaim a moratorium on murder and violence” for 48 hours in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. [story]

Once the moratorium is lifted, murder and violence is permitted to return to it’s normal schedule and intensity.

How do these people rise to the positions they do? The stupidity of this ridiculous feel-good gesture astounds me. What’s next? Reduce the affects of acid rain with a moratorium on gravity?

‘Crossroads: New Directions’ – New Art, Darrow Show

New work by David R. DarrowAnnouncing a show of new works by David R. Darrow. This one man show entitled Crossroads: New Directions will showcase 86 new works by artist David R. Darrow.

Thinking ahead, Darrow reveals:

"Recent revelations and theories about some of the Masters’ "softening approach" to portraiture as natural aging affected their eyesight have freed me up to pursue a direction of artistic expression in which I can continue well into my eighties."

Formerly well-known for his realistic impressionism, Darrow has assembled an impressive body of abstract and impressionistic work over the last four ‘silent’ months, heralding an entirely new artistic direction.

The piece shown above, Coffee Focus, (48" x 48" oil, acrylic and wax stylus on canvas) will be featured prominently on the cover of the 102-page color catalog, available to our guests at the show’s opening. Other works, not shown, include: Flavored Weather, (48" x 56"), Analog Jam (36" x 48"), Angry Mornings (60" x 60"), White on White on White (72" x 105"), Wall Flour, (72" x 24"), Pigeon Toad (Sculpture) and many additional thoughtful works.

Please join us!

Time/Date: Thursday April 31, 2008, 7:00 – 10pm. Wine and hors d’oeuvres served.

Place: the Grand Opening of the Clientso Prix Tenshous Gallery, NW corner of 5th and K, Downtown San Diego.

All works offered under $15,000!

Mark your calendar. It’s only 30 days from today: April 1, 2008!

Critical Mouse test: Click next to the “>” on the next line; hold and drag to the right.
> •• APRIL FOOLS! ••

The Virgle Project

What better to do with ones remaining days. What the heck. I applied. [details]

Crime and Punishment

I don’t agree with Obama on very much except I like the idea of ‘change.’ I’m kind of flexible that way, and I get tired of stuff easy.

Except French toast. But that’s a another story.

Anyway, since he has not been clear on what the changes would be if he were president, I can’t vote for a man who holds such vague ideals. I also have difficulty voting for someone whose whole name shows up as 2 or 3 misspelled words in my spell checker. But that’s another story.

A day or so ago Obama spoke from the heart [YouTube video clip], clearing up any misunderstandings as to where he and I differ so greatly:

“Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old,” he said. “I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby. I don’t want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn’t make sense to not give them information.”
–Barack Obama, March 29, 2008
Emphasis mine.

Punished with a baby?

And the other punishment he could think of was a sexually transmitted disease? These two come to mind as, by implication, similarly overly-severe punishments?

Man-o-man, do we ever see things differently. It is just so sad that anyone would think that way — and I know many people do — but horrible if that person were to be the most powerful person in the Free World.

I don’t like his concept of “mistake” nor of accepting responsibility for a mistake.

What happened to the concept of children being a blessing… even more so on the heels of a mistake? That’s called grace.


Lora - A Portrait Commissionby David R. Darrow
16" x 20" (40.6cm x 50.8cm)
Oil on Belgian Linen
Not For Sale
Private Collection

About This Painting

Lora got in touch with me shortly after the San Diego Weekly Reader article, about me and portrait painting, came out mid-last year.

She wanted me to paint her portrait after reading about my thoughts on painting, God and beauty, and after seeing my work.

Ironically, perhaps, it was in this article I was quoted as saying that as of that time I had not received any commissions from women for portraits of themselves. And I speculated as to why.

Lora’s approach changed my thinking. She wanted to capture this moment in time for a number of personal reasons, some of which she shared with me, and which made painting this portrait that much more engaging. She also wanted to own original art, for all the best reasons.

I only hope I captured the kind and thoughtful spirit of the woman I came to know while painting her. She tells me she loves it. ◙

American English, Please!

Someone recently told me — as several of us were complaining about having our support phone calls sent to countries where English is not the primary language of the support person — that if you request to have the call handled by an American-English-speaking person, they have to transfer you.

Today I got to put that to a test while trying to make a balance transfer with Capital One. When I called their help line, the gentleman who answered the phone had such a strong accent that I was literally having to ask him to repeat every sentence that had 5 or more words in it, and so the transfer-to-America request came to mind.

I asked him, “Excuse me, but where are you located?”

“I am having
a difficult time
“In the Philippines, Sir,” was his reply.

“I’d like to ask that you transfer me to an agent in America, please.”

“May I ask why?” he asked.

“Yes, it’s because I am having a difficult time understanding you, and therefore I am also uncertain as to whether you can understand me fully.”

He began laughing. “Oh, I see…” He chuckled again. “You’re having trouble understanding me,” he repeated, somewhat condescendingly. When I confirmed that that’s what I had said, he said, “Okay, I will transfer you to an American-speaking assistant. I hope you could understand that.”

LongStoryShort: I was transferred, but not without some grief.

I did however report it to Marissa, my ‘American-speaking assistant,’ who, as it turns out, was working in Canada when we spoke. She assured me that she would make a note ‘a-boat’ my difficulties with the man in the Philippines. The rest of the call went as smoothly as the best American customer assistance I have grown to expect.

At the end of the call, I asked to be transferred to her supervisor to whom I complimented her excellent, friendly and patient service.

Learning from ‘Commies’

Today I had lunch with a couple who used to live in Russia. They are warm, homey people who had as many questions for me as I had for them (or at least I like to think I didn’t ask them too many questions). One of the things that came up early in the conversation — since we are fairly close in age, give or take 10 years — is how in the 1960s we were in great fear of each other.

I knew nothing of the Russians when I was a child except that they were referred to by some adults as Commies (in my naivety, I presumed all Russians were ‘Communists’), that they had bombs pointed at us, and that they were going to fire them at random at America, and if I ever saw a huge flash in the sky, no matter where I was, I was to try to find a school desk and get down under it with my hands covering the back of my neck and put my face to my knees.

They, I learned today, were taught the same thing by their government about us, and they were afraid of the crazy, aggressive Americans.

Forty some-odd years later — today — we were having lunch together, and I was a guest in their home. Man, has the world changed since I was a kid?!

But — they told me, reflecting on Russia in the late 1980s — the way the world was changing, the change could not be contained. In the late 80s when Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev were exchanging words and ideas, Gorbachev introduced Perestroika (economic reform) and, among other reforms, allowed people — if they really wanted to — to leave the homeland. What he did not count on was how many, many people would take him up on it — and the world has never been the same.

They gave
up everything
they had
To my new friends, this was an opportunity they could not pass up at any cost. They literally gave up everything they had, and not only gave up their citizenship, but had to pay the government to be able to do so. The cost was high, too: the husband had to pay the equivalent of 2 months’ salary for the right to give up his citizenship after leaving everything they had to The State — just walked away from all their possessions — and he had to pay the same amount for each member of his family that he was taking with him, his wife, two daughters, their parents, and some others. They had $300 to start with when they got here in 1991.

Eventually, our conversation rolled around to our political events that are in the news. At this moment in history (today) the California Primaries are 3 days away, and the choices are apparently Obama, Clinton, McCain or Romney and I admitted to them I was not happy with any of the choices, but it was apparent that the world was changing. (How very white toast of me).

They pressed me farther, wondering what I thought of either Obama or Clinton, since it looked to them like one of them will eventually win the presidency, and I told them that no matter who wins, what really concerns me is that as a nation our people are growing up with the idea that the government should take care of them, and that they are entitled to a piece of the pie. The solution for our greatest problems will be solved with more money from the government.

I continued that while I love the idea that we have it so good here in America, in part due to Capitalism, and in part because our tax dollars are put to fairly good use a lot of the time, I see a growing attitude or belief among, especially, young Americans that ‘the government owes me’ and ‘the government will take care of me’ and there is something that leaves me with a great sense of unease about where that eventually leads. We’re losing individual independence, hard work and a belief that “My better life becomes effective the moment I do.”

I asked my new friends with great interest what it felt like to give up being taken care of by the government and the socialist programs that attempted to make it fair and equal for everyone, in trade for striking out on their own in America. What they said in response is something I will never forget: ‘Almost every [former] Russian that we know in America is Republican.’ (He noted, for accuracy, that indeed there are Democrat former-Russians, but that they are in the minority).

‘Super Tuesday’ is huge this time.

56 Years Ago

Jan Darrow Geist in 1979

My oldest sister came into the world 56 years ago today. This is the first year I can remember having no way to say, or sing, Happy Birthday to her.

She passed away, September 29, 2007, and I miss her more as time goes by.

I know my mom feels that way, too. And more. She tells me she just can’t believe it, that her first child is gone.

Digital TV Converters

The countdown has begun. If I understand correctly TV broadcasts as we have come to appreciate them will cease to exist on Feb 17, 2009… just a little over one year from now. If you’re like about 70,000,000 American’s you do not pay for cable, and you do not have satellite or other means of watching TV other than connecting to a TV antenna.

Next year, that won’t do you any good. All TV stations in America will be required to stop broadcasting that way.

Why the change?
Simple: up to 7 digital channels can be transmitted in the same bandwidth that occupies the portion of the band of one regular TV channel. More programming. More commercials. And all of that, clearer with better sound.

The government (and let me remind you, that’s me and you and our wallets) is offering to help with a $40 coupon to help pay for a digital converter (which is really just a digital tuner that can tune in these digital signals like your older TV tunes in analog signals) that will allow you to use your regular TV and antennae, while adapting the digital signal your antennae gather. The bonus is, most TV stations in larger metropolitan areas are already broadcasting digital signals anyway. Many people do not know that the “snowy, interference-laden” images they currently watch could be eliminated with one of these converters now. With the converter being your only new expense, the TV signals will still be free, and you will be getting a much better picture and sound.

Coupon is valid “while the initial funds of $990 million are available.” (from this Gov’t PDF — Thanks WC.)

This includes HDTV signals. Most modern TVs built in the last 2 years, 27″ or bigger already have a digital converter built in (check your user manual!). If you have recently purchased an HDTV, you do not necessarily have to pay for cable or dish to get HD digital TV. Local stations broadcast these signals for free, and your TV can decode the signal.

All HDTV signals are digital, but not all digital signals are HDTV — don’t get confused. Also, you do not have to buy a “converter” or digital tuner if you already pay for cable or dish: They are sending you a converted signal.

This is only for the people out there like my mom who only pick up TV shows over the air.

Update 2 To the right you’ll see an actual ad from I was looking for what kind of deals can be had online for Digital Converters. Now, of course, this is not the right kind — this is for transferring analog-to-digital signals into your computer.

But look at the incredible slashing of prices going on over at! Why, if I could save like that on everything I buy, I would feel like a purchasing agent for the US Government!

Christmas Carols for the Disturbed

(I cannot take credit for this, but I was amused –dd)

Christmas Carols for the Disturbed

Schizophrenia — Do You Hear What I Hear?

Multiple Personality Disorder — We Three Kings Disoriented Are

Dementia — I Think I’ll be Home for Christmas

Narcissistic — Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

Manic — Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and…

Paranoid — Santa Claus is Coming to Town to Get Me

Borderline Personality Disorder — Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire

Personality Disorder — You Better Watch Out, I’m Gonna Cry, I’m Gonna Pout, Maybe I’ll Tell You Why

Attention Deficit Disorder — Silent night, Holy… oooh look at the froggy – Can I have a chocolate? Why is France so far away?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder — Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells …

Bethany in Green

Bethany in Greenby David R. Darrow
8" x 14" (20.3cm x 35.6cm)
Oil on Stretched Canvas
Collection of L. Grace,
San Diego, CA – USA

About This Painting

I’m not as good at math as I should be.

And I am really lame at guessing ages.

In 1991 a little girl came into my life that would change my heart and my mind, and sway my resolutions, the subsequent blessings of which I could never have foreseen.


Because of Bethany, I have a wonderful daughter.

See, in 1991, my daughter did not yet exist, because her mother and I (mostly me) had decided a few years earlier to stop at 2 children. We had two fine boys, and were having plenty of fun, and absorbing the challenges that come with raising two boys on an artist’s income.

That year our little family of 4 had season passes to what is now called Six Flags Magic Mountain and decided, for reasons I cannot remember, to take some of our friends’ daughters with us. Bethany was 5, and her mother instructed her simply, “Now you hold on to Mr. Darrow’s hand the whole time, okay?” Right there in her driveway before we even left for the amusement park, she looked up at me and smiled and grabbed my hand.

Like Superman too close to Kryptonite, I began to melt… little by little throughout the day, this warm, sweet, smiling little girl brought down the giant I thought I was.

At the end of the day, I didn’t want to return her to her mother.

But I did. (It’s the law).

Later that year we decided to expand our family and “try for a girl.” And in 1992 God blessed us with a sweet daughter of our own who has been the subject of many of my paintings, and has her daddy’s heart forever.

Well, in 1994 we moved away from that area, and I have never seen anyone in Bethany’s family since. Fast-forward to 2007, Tuesday in fact, and I get an e-mail from Bethany assuming, of course, that I remember who she is.

I’m picturing a little smiling cutie looking up at me holding my hand, and I am mentally trying to stretch her image into an older person that has the facility to write e-mails (I told you math escapes me at times).

She attached to the e-mail a picture of her now… posing with a melancholy expression in front of a green wall… and that’s when reality smacked me across the face.

She’s in her early 20s now, married and just found out she’s expecting a child of her own.

How did Bethany turn into a woman in — what’s it been —three weeks? All I could write back to her was “Wow! You’ve grown up!” and then, “This picture looks so much like a work of art with that pose and lighting that I want to know if I can do an oil painting interpretation of it,” to which she enthusiastically agreed.

I showed the finished painting to my oldest son when we got together for Thanksgiving and asked him if he remembered Bethany.

“Do I remember her?” he said, as if I asked him if he likes to surf. “If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have a sister!”

The Legend of Bethany, the 5-year-old girl who melted a man’s heart, lives on.

And now she is immortalized. ◙

Happy NerdGiving

My sister and her husband in Colorado just e-mailed me a picture of the family all together for Thanksgiving. All their adult kids came together for this Thanksgiving.

I am telling you, this picture brings back so many memories of my childhood in the late 50s and early 60s… so rife with tradition. Amazing the images it brings up, with almost a “pilgrim” feel to the whole gathering.

I get a little misty just seeing them all enjoying such warm family time together.

God bless us, everyone.


Distractedby David R. Darrow
14" x 11" (35.6cm x 27.9cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
Collection of L. Grace,
San Diego, CA – USA

About This Painting

My daughter is one of my favorite models.

Every now and again I see her face in a certain light… the highlights glancing off her cheekbones in some way, or the pattern of the shadows bringing out her natural beauty…

In this case, I happened to catch her looking simply beautiful while she was watching a fascinating show on TV… while I messed with the lights she kept her eyes on the story from which I could not steal her. ◙

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