NEW PAINTINGS ~~~March 2014

                  Here are 4 brand new, original Sparhawk oil paintings. 

The original of    The Water LiliesLilies, Rowboat, Dock. Full. Dark has been re-worked since I first posted it. It’s a large canvas, about 36 X 30.  I had a splendid time continuing, developing and enriching the details, adding much including a rowboat and oar with an invisible enthusiast, the rope left behind wrapped ’round a sunken tree limb, and draped up at a dock. It is the product of a childhood memory.

Lilies, Rowboat, left


The Dawn Pond is two 12 X 12 inch canvases side by side. Farm Pond, Ducks, TwoFarm, Pond, Ducks. Right



Farm Pond, left, upper detail

  Road to the Pond 

Road to the Pond, full, bright

Both Dawn Pond and Road to the Pond (12 X 12 inches, oil on canvas) are from my photographs of the wild in the woods farm I’d rented in Virginia, less than a mile from Harper’s Ferry. It was sixty acres in the Blue Ridge range, log cabin, out buildings and barn from the mid 1800′s, and so striking in its varied landscape from meadows and ponds, hills with thick underbrush and tall trees, wild roses and wild flowers, an abandoned asparagus patch near the old stone garden house, wild berries, thousands of birds, owls and eagles, frogs and snakes, fox, bear, and mountain lions… name it….the lively and fabulous American woods.  I’m going to start painting more of those years. 

Camelias in Glass Bowl, FullThe Camelias, Camelias In Glass Bowl, detail whitewhich were painted from local bushes here, white Camelias to the left and hot pink camelias to the right of my Carmel Valley Gallery door, The Hawks Perch.  I believe I found myself slipped into Gauguin’s palette here. In the process I discovered that Gauguin came to his marvelously intense darks, which he used abundantly in shadows and plants, by adding an off yellow like Turner’s Yellow maybe, to black, producing a wonderful green highlight.  He’d also use rust/orange in interesting blocks or spots, and blues nearby. I don’t ordinarily use such combinations but was pleased to find it for the dark Camelia leaves, and the colors around them.

Come for a visit! THE HAWKS PERCH GALLERY, The Farm Center, Carmel Valley Road at

Robinson Canyon Road.  Open 11 ~ 4 Every Day!

The Day A Cookie Saved A Life

One quiet Sunday, not long ago, far way off in the middle of nowhere, was     


              There’s a man in my neighborhood I barely knew but now won’t likely forget. He works the desk at the self-storage business next door to my gallery. Turns out his name is Frankie.
              About three weeks ago on an early quiet Sunday afternoon Frankie walked out into the sunshine to halloo a lone customer unloading stuff into his storage unit. Frankie offered him a cookie along with a brief chat on the slow day. He studied the emptiness out front, turned his tall wiry frame from roadside dust kicked up by a breeze, checked the sky for cloud formations and figured rain wasn’t coming and mentioned that last part outloud.  Frankie went back inside to catch up on his bookkeeping.
            The customer popped in before driving off so he could deliver a thank you for the cookie.  Frankie looked up, smiled, suddenly went rigid and blank, looking as if he’d vanished from the earth, and then into a collapse on the desk in front of him. He was in the grip of a massive heart attack.
           That man who happened in, who’d been greeted by the storage guy he didn’t know, ran across the office to Frankie, now unconscious, pulled him off his chair, stretched him out prone on the floor, all six feet of him, and went to work on his chest. It wasn’t more than a couple of minutes that a woman walked in.  All the action in the room was hidden by the big front desk.
                       She called out, Hello!  Hello? Where is everybody? That’s odd…..
               Her church rented space at a discount for sports equipment at Frankie’s storage. She had a few minutes on the way home and wanted to stop by with her 14 year old son so her boy could meet the nice people who helped out their church and his team. They walked in on the impossible scene unfolding, unseen. 
Call 911!  Call 911!!!
            Frankie stayed alive that long with just the CPR. The EMT guys, fire and ambulance pulled into the big lot out front, lights and sirens. Their team of five worked about twenty minutes to get Frankie pulsing, then fast on the stretcher, in the ambulance, speeding to coastal Highway One and the hospital between Carmel and Monterey.
           I’d heard the sirens while I was painting, and put down my brush, walked out of my studio and gone over to investigate the commotion next door. By then the front lot was empty of people. I went inside help but stood back to watch the EMT guys do a brilliant text-book save.
             Trying to size up what was going on around me I noticed a boy sitting on the far side of the room, looking intense, on alert, taking it all in, calm as pie.
You okay?
He looked right at me and said,
That’s the kind of work I’m gonna do. That’s for me.
           My eyes and heart swung back to the intensity on the floor.  There are five guys in uniforms. Equipment used, scattered, grabbed for, shouted for, sterile packing ripped open, low volume talk back and forth between the man at the head, men at the throat and chest, shirt pulled off a stranger laid out lifeless and going blue.  My neighbor. Everybody there fighting for his life.
           It produced a kind of surreal glow, an atmosphere as if they were all contained in a cloud of activity and moisture and dancing light. It was so compelling a fleeting vision, a test, a challenge where everybody’s body goes working in sync with that just one so desperate for air. You feel tethered by the event of it….held back, to stand clear, to let the experts at it, to give them all you’ve got that’s maybe not visible and maybe not enough but you send it over into space, and you can feel the outpouring register on your skin or in your brain or somewhere.
               Minutes into it, the rescue, the team wanted a name. There’d never been much visit or talk between us. I didn’t know what he was called.
                  We need a name, who is he, does anybody know his name.
           I knew the other manager, Terri. I rifled desk papers for her number, found it. The woman phoned her, got it, repeated it to me, 
He’s Frankie, his name is Frankie,  
I called it out to the emergency crew, 
Frankie! Frankie
Then spoke it to him myself, his name, that link,  though he was barely alive ten feet away, Frankie! You’re in good hands, Frankie! Friends are here. You’re going to be okay, Frankie. You’re not alone!
             Where did that come from? I figure it’s the residue Brooklyn in me. The last thing any New Yorker ever wants is to die alone on that city’s streets. The stuff of nightmares.
            They got a pulse. The pulse held. They got Frankie on the stretcher. His head was way back, his neck way arched and still. All of a sudden he gasped coarse and hard, so deep from him like every molecule he had was pulling air, and in that second he went from blue to pale pink.  They rushed him past me and I quicksilver hovered my hand over his leg, figuring not to add to shock he must have already felt from so many hands he didn’t know, just near his foot for just the second I had to do it I said it again, 
Frankie. You are going to live, Frankie. 
             The front door swung closed and in that quiet once more Sunday office the little group of us all at the same minute stopped to look at each other to take it all in. The man who’d done CPR first was leaning against the back wall, shaking. The boy was solid. His mom and I were weeping. Terri, the store manager had sped in from her day off and was intense on the phone, choking back tears, to reach Frankie’s wife who she’d never spoken to before.  For one damn fast half hour we were connected inside one brief enveloping hurricane that was so unique and extraordinary, breathtakingly impossible but for a whisker’s width of chance, and we knew it. And when that knowing it hit, we all turned to stare at the on-the-spot miracle worker who nobody knew either.    
Somebody said,
You saved his life, mister. You did. Who are you.
My name’s Chris, he said. I can’t believe this. I just finished a CPR course last week.  Holy God, I can’t believe it. I didn’t know him. I never talked to him. I only stopped back in to say goodbye because he came out to give me a cookie!
         Frankie’s back home resting after his totally successful battle with death. Fit as a re-strung fiddle.
         And oh, for future reference?
                                The cookie was a
  chocolate chip.         .

Having It All. Ain’t Worth Much.


            L’Wren Scott, Mick Jagger’s sweetheart

of 10 years killed herself today.  

          I regret such a limited time on Earth for her, just 49 years.   I never paid much attention to L’Wren except to notice Mick dating a 6’3” brunette fashion designer. I adore his second wife Jerry Hall who’s got a lot of character; various kids….Jade and Georgia who are interesting.

      In the reports on L’Wren’s death, she was millions in debt, business failing. She’d spent Christmas on the island of Mustique with Mick and friends. She lived in a NYC apartment worth 5 or 6 million. And most of her friends, like Mick, Ellen Barkin, models, designers…worth hundreds of millions. L’Wren lived large.

      We see the glittering, fascinating photos of the A-listers, celebrities, global citizens, in rock, movies, sports, banking, politics,   music worlds   and it’s all set up to produce drool and envy.  Meanwhile in the real and actual lives of this big bunch, they are in and out of rehab,   murder their friends,                                  kill themselves with cars or drugs, leap off tall buildings, steal, lie, injure and ignore their children, punch photographers, and (mostly) show limited talent for which they are paid enormous sums so they can do all of the above and live the hallucinating lives of potentates. They don’t appear to actually do much, and they sure don’t seem to feel much either. 

      The public, us peons, imitate hairstyles and save up to buy their overpriced endorsements.      More than one magazine article tells us how to be just like so and so, with Botox, bikini waxes and wigs. They’re all so scuzzy!  I wouldn’t want half inside my home. There aren’t more than one handful of actors today I’d pay to see, or musicians to perform, or whose antics are worth following.    It’s not a very good crop. And show business must be a hell of pain and torture. Shakespeare wrote it out for mankind’s instruction, but lived as long as he could…..

“…Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury.

Signifying nothing.”

       Years ago when movie star magazines did unobtrusive 3 or 4 photos withstories on the stars, I read a wonderful article about Burt Lancaster with a picture of him stretched out on a simple couch in a very simple home, studying a (likely powerful) script.   None of them were highly paid, very few millionaires. The houses of the stars of the ’50′s and 60′s still look modest, if they haven’t been  torn down. I never minded that Brando bought a Tahitian island because he was most often   

a life-altering experience to watch on stage or film. And the actors were admired and loved for what they could express, tell the theatre audiences through their skill, move us. Yes, just that. The main job of stars was to inspire the public, teach about human nature, take us to untried territory, explain this life we’re all in.

         Now, the more expensive the life style, the cheaper the behavior. Go figure. Women in show biz haven’t moved an inch toward better roles, depicting whole or interesting people. Indeed they’re all busy out doing prostitutes, and I feel bad for the prostitutes. Where do they go from here? I expect the next trend to be selfies of vaginas.     But interestingly enough, except for the occasional porn star or politician (like NY’s Carlos Danger), not penises.   But I may be underestimating Brad Pitt or George Clooney.     Not DiCaprio. Lives signifying nothing.

         When there’s enough license to mostly skirt the law, buy small countries, hire a personal army, make up rules, live as large as emperors and gangsters…and still want to die, maybe that ‘everything’ needs some scrutiny: 

We’re left to ask what it is that really counts in our own lives, not someone else’s idea of a good time. 

There’s a sizeable difference between what we’re told is pleasure and what pleasure actually feels like to sentient human life. The ones who DO have what we get drummed at us is happiness don’t appear to have much after all. Unless the goal is ending up dead. With a beautiful corpse. How good did L’Wren look when she hanged herself, when she really had it all and lost it all and was too embarrassed to ask for help and expose the trouble she was in, for all to see that she didn’t have it all anymore.

                     Who else in the public eye hates their questionably fabulous life?  Who’s next?  Well, let’s take the measure of ourselves and what we’re up to anyway, and not imitate the insanity.

                                           Not be next.

Redwood Poacher Druggies Pick Up Speed on Coast


Forget beer bottles left on trails, threat of campfires gone wild, or syringes dropped on sandy beaches. Drug addicts are stealing REDWOOD BURL from our forests. I’m not making this up.      “When I interview suspects, that is the (reason) they say: their addiction to drugs and they can’t find jobs.” (Ranger Laura Denny).  The Associated Press is carrying the story today. Her husband likened it (oddly) to Africa’s outlaw gangs who poach Rhino and Elephant tusk, induced by a bad economy, easy money, and a drug habit to feed.

(Source: Jeff Barnard, AP) “(Law Enforcement Ranger Laura Denny) is currently chasing a bunch that cut a massive burl from a redwood just south of the mouth of the Klamath River that was discovered by a bear researcher tramping the woods in April. The cut left a scar measuring 8 feet by 10 feet.

Over the course of weeks, the thieves cut the burl into slabs weighing more than 100 pounds each that they dragged behind ATVs through the woods several hundred yards to a road.”

  “Lorin Sandberg is a burl dealer in Scio, Ore. He occasionally goes to Northern California to buy burl, but it is tough to find any more, with almost all of the old growth that makes the best burls protected on public land. The good stuff with a lacey grain full of eyes will go for $2 to $3 a pound, unseasoned. Finished dining room tables are being offered for $1,300 on eBay.  “I don’t buy them unless they have proof of where they got it,” he said. “I’ve got to have a paper trial. If there’s not a paper trial, it can stay in their yard.” “

But the part of the story that disturbs me secondarily if not most of all is the solution:  Closing roads leading into the forests.

“The practice – known as burl poaching – has become so prevalent along the Northern California coast that Redwood National and State Parks on Saturday started closing the popular Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway at night in a desperate attempt to deter thieves.”

The prevailing conventional wisdom on every front seems to be curtailing the pleasures of many innocents to meet the troubles caused by very few criminals. Closing America’s access to our parks is an extraordinarily bad idea, but one that’s growing quickly.

What If the international drug cartels now operating in the Santa Cruz Mountains want to add Redwood Poaching to their exploits. Bit heavier per pound than meth and coke and pot, but who knows what lucrative markets for California Redwood Burl may spring up in Asia, like the insatiable taste for tusks. And where’s the loud outcry from the determined environmentalists tying themselves to  Redwoods to stop loggers.  Loggers at least left the burl. Which is the root base from which new growth springs. The Burl Poachers are taking the offspring of the Redwoods. The hope for new Redwood life.

Instead of penalizing a public hungry for the geographic splendors of this fabulous wild country, put a huge and painful penalty on the thieves when caught, and put the illicit burl dealers out of business and in jail with them. But damn! What are you thinking?’t close the magical Redwood Parks! 

Stormy Cornwall. Now THAT’S a Wave!!

Now THAT’S a Wave! 2014 February 6-7-8 in Great Britain

Dozens of people line the sea wall at Porthcawl in South Wales, risk their lives, eager to get a look at the giant waves crashing ashore


A winter of storms and each more drama than the one before.  Maybe not the 100 footers of Peru or Maverick’s with surfers daring the ferocity of nature.  But the sea is impacting towns and coastal villages, and landing on top of thatched roofs, not a sandy shore!

These are current photographs from the UK Daily News, more HERE along with the towns flooded and people rescued. And some citizen fury at bad government planning when it comes to dykes and ditches and seawalls.Buildings on the sea front in Porthleven, Cornwall are dwarfed by a huge wall of water crashing on the front

Leaning into the wind………80 mph gales.A man is lifted off the ground as gale force winds sweep up his jacket in Sennen Cove, Cornwall

Lyme Regis, Gathering of Storm WatchersCrowds gather on the beach at Lyme Regis to watch as the power of the storm unleashes a series of rolling waves crashing over the Cobb

Southsea, Hampshire…35 Foot WavesGales of up to 80mph and 35 feet waves have created further flooding misery as a fresh series of storms sweep across Britain. Pictured: Giant waves lash the seafront in Southsea, Hampshire

High Tide Breaking at Porthleven….High tide storm waves break at Porthleven. Britain is bracing itself for more storms and spells of rain over the weekend

No Hills to Head For….Get Out The Wellies and Bumbershoots!Severe flooding in Essex today meant ten people two dogs had to be rescued by Essex Fire by boat in Saffron Walden

Pete Seeger Has Left the Planet

                       PETE SEEGER, AMERICAN. DIES AT 94. 

And we’ll miss him.  Seeger was more American than most, because he kept an unfaltering love for this country, our culture, history, people, and best of all the poetry in our songs.

Folk music legend: Pete Seeger, shown in a 1967 file photo, died on Monday at age 94 in a New York City hospital         And he loved the whole world.


When I was 9 years old and we lived out in the scrubs of Missouri, my mother took me to an old off the beaten path church one night to hear Pete Seeger sing.  The little ramshackle white clabbord Baptist place was jam-packed, the stage was teeny and badly lit. He’d just come back from some island place and showed up there, just outside St Louis, with a small band of wide-eyed Caribes standing in the America of Huckleberry Finn to make music in this foreign land with Seeger — hot with the discovery of steel drums from cut off barrel tops, held waist-high with broad canvas straps around the shoulders, and dented just so.  When he bonged on the lumps with a cotton topped stick he made music. It was astonishing. It was beautiful. 


Six years later I saw his brother and their band perform in La Jolla, barefoot blue grass fiddlers.

          Pete Seeger’s voice was often strong, always emotional, ever sweet. I grew up singing along with him and enchanted by his stories set to music.  “If I Had A Hammer”,  “Turn Turn Turn”, “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night”…..the kind of old-fashioned liberalism shared with Woody Guthrie that revered the working man and woman, gave attaboys to perseverance and independence and good character of people everywhere, and knew America was a shining light of possibility for all the world.  Thank you, Pete Seeger. You still lift my spirit mightily, though just now I will weep at your passing.Music ambassador: Pete performed in 2009 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in Louisiana

Lily Pond in Motion, January Paintings

I’m not entirely sure these 2 paintings are complete. But I think they are.

This is   LILY POND IN MOTION. Lily Pond In Motion, center top

I wanted to get a feel for a pond and those mystic flowers, the water lilies that bob the surface. Or maybe it’s of gently still cove waters, moved by air and slight currents between sun and shade, some fallen branches always at a pond’s curving ends and middles. Sometimes you get into a painting and it keeps going, you keep finding changes to make, a different tilt and flow, shadows move around…this is that to me now, maybe something to keep on painting for a year.Lily Pond in Motion, right detail

Lily Pond in Motion  *******************************************************************************

This is  FLOWER IN VASE, AGAINST BLUE.Flower Against Blue, full

This is a fairly large canvas.  The thought here was strong foreground color, but sort of telescopic in that Flower Against Blue, centered, detailthe center is focused…then the edges fade off into whatever is back there in all that cobalt blue whispering sweet nothings and seducing the bloom out of the vase.Flower Against Blue, detailand off it goes……..

Original Oil Paintings by Barbara Sparhawk. Available in exquisite Cards, Posters, on Canvas prints, Photographic Prints.   From REDBUBBLE, Australia, which prints and ships most all reproductions of Sparhawk Art. 

For the original paintings, visit my Mid-Valley, THE HAWKS PERCH in Carmel, California Gallery, or email me at

Thanks for the visit.