Monday, December 19, 2011

58. Ten Years and Still Making Every Day Count

December, 2001
This is a special day for me, for it marks the tenth anniversary of the day I almost died.

Unconscious on a metal table, my body chilled to 93 degrees,  my heart was stopped and machines breathed for me and circulated my blood.  I spent many long hours in this condition while arteries and veins were cut from my chest, arm and legs and then sewn to the blood vessels of my heart.

I had six by-passes at the age of 45.

It took a while to recover from this operation and it did indeed change my life on so many levels. So many changes. You would think, for example, that a close brush with death would make you appreciate how precious life really is, which I do, and therefore I would become a much more cautious person.  But instead, it made me fearless in the sense that it gave me a new perspective. I knew what was, and wasn't, important and I knew how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I really was without fear in my dealings with people and in my law practice.  The feeling was, after what I had gone through and survived, there was nothing anyone could throw at me that would compare. I suppose it is the same kind of confidence someone may develop after surviving a major catastrophe. It either destroys you or makes you a stronger, better person. Unfortunately, it also sometimes makes it difficult for me to suffer fools easily and in that respect, it may be more like some elderly persons I have known who are at a point in their lives where they just don't really care what other people think, about them or anything else. While I haven't quite turned into a grouchy hermit, I did learn to slow down and appreciate every single day for its own sake, to stop planning so much for the future, or dwell too much in the past. The past can't be changed and the future is always uncertain. But we all exist in the present, and I needed to live in the present. And so I have.

My children have grown and made me very proud of them.  A lot has happened in the last ten years and I hope to be around for many years to come.  Wealth and success can come and go, but it was the love and support of my family that pulled me through a most difficult time.  I was too ill and weak to set up the Christmas tree that year (the only year I can remember not doing so), but the love and togetherness of our family was so strong, we hardly even noticed. 

The above photo was taken on Christmas Day in 2001 while I was recovering from my surgery. From left to right: Me, Alice Davis (my mother), Alyssa Bickers (my daughter), Tom Davis (my step-father); and Jessica Landis (my step-daughter).  Photo by Diane Landis Bickers (my wife).

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

57. Duff Park Sunset, 20 x 24, oil on canvas, 2011

Duff Park Sunset, 20 x 24, oil on canvas, 2011
Last winter I took a hike in Duff Park in Murrysville, PA, soon after a snowstorm.  I could barely believe my eyes when I saw how beautiful and serene the park appeared, especially with a small stream running through the landscape.  I explored the area all afternoon until dark, filling my soul and my camera with wonderful images.  This painting is based on such an image and it demonstrates my new appreciation for snowy winter scenes.  I can hardly wait for it to snow here again!

This is one of two paintings I now have on exhibit at the East Suburban Artists League's Annual Art Show at Penn State New Kensington (3550 Seventh Street Road (Highway 780), New Kensington, PA  15068). The show runs from December 2, 2011 through January 2, 2012.  The reception (and ESAL's holiday party) is Friday, December 2nd 7-9pm.  The public is invited!  I hope to see you there!

Friday, November 25, 2011

56. Electric Sun, photograph, 2011

Electric Sun, photograph, 2011

It took almost three weeks to recover from a case of the flu and unfortunately, most of November has been a blur to me.  I did manage to take this photograph the day before Halloween when we had just received a bit of snow a day or two before. Click on the image to enlarge.

I attended the opening reception of the 16th Annual Regional Juried Art Exhibition sponsored by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, Inc., at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley on November 19th.  While I did not win any awards this time, I was grateful to find that the curators of the museum liked my painting (see previous post) enough that they chose to hang it on the wall behind the front reception desk, making it the first painting a visitor sees when visiting the museum.  There is a great deal of fine artwork on display and it would make a trip to Ligonier very worthwhile. The exhibit runs November 18, 2011 through February 12, 2012.  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

55. Leaves Upon the Waters, 20 x 24, oil on canvas

Leaves Upon the Waters, 20 x 24, oil on canvas, 2011
This is a view of the Conemaugh River near the Conemaugh Dam in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. This painting has been juried into the 16th Annual Regional Juried Art Exhibition sponsored by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, Inc., at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley.  Reception is November 19, 2011, 6-8PM.  The public is invited. The exhibit runs November 18, 2011 through February 12, 2012.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

54. A Complete Revision of My Website

The last time I did a major revision of my website, I was excited about using some Adobe flash software that made viewing of my artwork easier and more appealing.  You could pick images from a table of small icons or sit back and watch a slideshow of my artwork slide by.  Many artists today use some sort of flash software to streamline the viewing process as I did.  Of course, it wouldn't last.

About a year ago when the I-Pad was released, I was troubled that Apple was refusing to work with Adobe to make sure their software were compatible.  When I finally looked at my website with an I-Pad, I found that the images either didn't appear at all or were thrown into some sort of "retro" mode where they were all the wrong sizes or jumbled up.  In other words, my website was a total mess.  Now that the I-Pad 2 has been released, Apple and Adobe, like a couple of misbehaving little brats, are still not talking to each other.  Unfortunately (sigh), it is clear to me that the use of I-Pads and similar instruments is only growing and may dominate the way most people view information on the internet, along with their smart phones.  It was time for me to make some adjustments.

I therefore revised my website to make it more friendly to all types of operating systems and to especially make it easier to use on a tablet-style computer (I hope).  Please go ahead and check my website out for yourself.  I think you will like it.  

There are exciting times just ahead.  I am working on a number of new paintings and will have them exhibited in various shows over the next year.  I will be updating and adding more paintings and more photographs to my website on a regular basis and you can expect to see more frequent postings here as well.  It is a good and exciting time to be alive!

Monday, September 12, 2011

53. Deep Woods Respite, 18 x 24, oil on canvas

Deep Woods Respite, 18 x 24, oil on canvas, 2011
This is the latest of a series of landscape paintings I am preparing that focus on various aspects of the seasons, especially as I see them here in Pennsylvania.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Monday, June 27, 2011

52. Michaels Incorporates Two of My Paintings in It's Advertisement Campaign for Fine Art Classes

Although my tenure as a Certified Grumbacher Fine Art Instructor at Michaels Arts and Crafts Store only lasted six months last year, I was surprised recently to find that Michaels had elected to use two of my paintings in it's website promoting the acrylic fine art classes I had taught. If you look up art supplies at the Michaels website and then click on "Fine Art Classes at Michaels" you will see the advertisement at left. Moving your cursor over the "Floral 1" bar or the "Seascape 1" bar shows additional images of these paintings. The seascape and the floral paintings are, of course, mine and are shown below.  I am quite pleased and honored to have my artwork showcased this way and I sincerely wish Michaels luck in the promotion of their acrylic fine art classes.  More about my association with Michaels and Grumbacher and the artwork created there can be found at my Post No. 46Click on any of the images to enlarge.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

51. Giuseppe Moretti's Ladies of Highland Park, Pittsburgh, Digital Photograph Diptych, 2011

Giuseppe Moretti's Ladies of Highland Park, Pittsburgh, Digital Photograph Diptych, 2011
Last year I visited Highland Park in Pittsburgh and was greatly impressed with the enormous columns that stood on either side of the entrance to this old and stately park.  Providing light on either side of the street were these two magnificent bronze statues created by the sculptor Giuseppe Moretti late in the 19th century.  I was struck by the greenish-blue patina on the statues and decided to print my own digital interpretation of these works of art.  Note that this diptych and the oil painting of the Conemaugh Bridge (in the post below) were both juried into the "History Through Art" Exhibition being held by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Council for the Arts and the Greensburg Art Club at the Rowe Gallery (at 230 Todd School Road, Greensburg, PA 15601) and will be on exhibit July 15, 2011 through August 26, 2011.  Opening Reception is on Saturday, July 16, 2011.  The Rowe Gallery is open Tuesday-Friday 10:00am-4:00pm; Wednesday Evening 7:00pm-9:00pm; Saturday 1:00pm-4:00pm and closed Sundays & Saturdays.   Click on the image to enlarge.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

50. Conemaugh Bridge No. 4 on the West Penn Trail, 18 x 36, oil on canvas, 2011

Conemaugh Bridge No. 4 on the West Penn Trail; 18 x 36; oil on canvas; 2011
A short distance east of Murrysville, Pennsylvania, where I live, is a section of the West Penn Trail which crosses back and forth across the Conemaugh River along a series of old stone railroad bridges built over a century ago.  Stained yellow and red by the iron deposits washing out of the many flooded mines upstream, the bridges have always been a source of fascination for me.  I decided it was about time I went ahead and painted one of these stately wonders of another era.   

This painting and the digital photograph in the next post above were both juried into the "History Through Art" Exhibition being held by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Council for the Arts and the Greensburg Art Club at the Rowe Gallery (at 230 Todd School Road, Greensburg, PA 15601) and will be on exhibit July 15, 2011 through August 26, 2011.  Opening Reception is on Saturday, July 16, 2011.  The Rowe Gallery is open Tuesday-Friday 10:00am-4:00pm; Wednesday Evening 7:00pm-9:00pm; Saturday 1:00pm-4:00pm and closed Sundays & Saturdays. Click on the image to enlarge.

Update:  This painting won Third Place in oils/acrylics at the 2011 Murrysville Women's Club Annual Art Show held at the Murrysville Municipal Building on October 8-9, 2011.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

49. Bethany Blair Bickers Receives (Another) College Degree

Bob and Beth Bickers
I am proud to announce that my oldest daughter, Beth (posing with me at left), received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Memphis on May 8, 2011.  Her major was Criminal Justice and at this time she is seeking a job in that field.  Beth had already earned an Associate Degree in Graphic Arts in 2007.

I know that Beth has worked very hard to get this far and I wish her a very rewarding (and safe) career in law enforcement.  She is only the third generation from my side of the family to be college-educated, and I hope that is a chain that will continue into the future.  Beth is a fine young woman with a bright future and exciting times ahead of her.

Speaking of bright, Beth's younger brother, Brad, just completed his first year of college on the Dean's List.  That's the sort of thing that makes me proud.  Keep up the good work, Brad.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

48. Serving as Juror for The Gallery Space, Monroeville, PA

The Gallery Space, Monroeville, PA Public Library
The public library of Monroeville, Pennsylvania, next to the Gateway High School, is host to The Gallery Space, a special place to showcase artwork by established and aspiring artists from throughout the Western Pennsylvania area.  The gallery is in a lovely setting with a natural stone wall at its focal point and two additional walls to showcase art.  In addition, an exhibiting artist has room for more art behind the front desk and in the snack cafe next to it.  The image above gives a 180 degree view of the main gallery.  The present curator, Sally Wightkin, and a dedicated group of helpers from the gallery's sponsors, The Friends of the Monroeville Public Library, work tirelessly setting up and maintaining the gallery and its many exhibits (a new one every month!) throughout the year --and all as volunteers.  Now that's a labor of love.  Commissions from the sale of artwork at these shows benefit the public library in Monroeville.

Exhibitions at The Gallery Space have been a tradition since 1965.  When I had my first show there in 2001, only six artists would be selected to exhibit each year with each show lasting two months at a time.  By the time I exhibited there again in 2007, exhibits were limited to one month.  While I wasn't pleased by the shorter shows, the fact is that the shorter shows made this forum accessible to twice as many artists and, as I later discovered myself, was quite necessary. In 2008, I was honored when Sally Wightkin asked me to assist her and help select, from the many submissions, those artists (and artist organizations) that would be selected for exhibitions at The Gallery Space in the next two years.  The number and quality of submissions were so overwhelming, we finally decided to extend the period we were judging another year.  It was a very enlightening experience for me.

Another call for artists has been extended by The Gallery Space in which those wishing to exhibit are asked to bring three examples of their artwork (or a CD of 6-10 examples of their artwork) to the Monroeville Library on Friday, April 29, 2011.  Art groups can bring 6-10 original works or a CD of 12-20 images.  Again, I have been asked by Sally to assist in the selection process.

I have been doing serious art for over 30 years and fine photography for even longer.  I've had three shows at The Gallery Space the last 10 years and participated three other times in exhibits there by the East Suburban Artists League.  I have had numerous solo and group exhibitions and my work has appeared in galleries, museums, major corporate headquarters, newspapers and the cover of magazines.  I have won plenty of awards, have taught oil and acrylic art classes for major national corporations and I have served as a judge and juror for a number of local organizations and major art exhibitions.  While there are plenty of artists and art instructors who have done more than I and have better credentials, my point is that I have had some experience in a lot of things, and am independent and confident enough not to be overly worried about the politics in art (and, yes, every human endeavor involves politics), and I hope, at 55 years of age, I've learned to learned enough to keep all of this in perspective.  Anyway, I've been told I am pretty fair and level-headed and I will do my best to remain objective and judicious.  I have to think too that it helps being an attorney where I often and regularly serve as an arbitrator for the Court of Common Pleas in Pittsburgh.

Be sure to get your submissions in for consideration!  I will probably write something afterwards about the whole process.  And thanks again, Sally, for this opportunity to serve again.

UPDATE:  I once again assisted Sally on May 31, 2013 in the selection of artists for the upcoming years through parts of 2016.  Thanks again Sally for letting me help in this process.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

47. Painter in the Park, 12 x 12, digital photograph, 2011

This image was based on a photograph I took of an artist painting flowers in a park in Boston the summer of 2007.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

46. Acrylic Fine Art Class I Taught at Michaels as a Certified Grumbacher Fine Art Instructor in 2010

I am not teaching a fine art class at this time, but I did teach an acrylic fine art class as a Certified Grumbacher Art Instructor at various Michaels stores at several locations in Tarentum, Monroeville and Greensburg, Pennsylvania in 2010.  It was a pleasure being able to teach art classes once again and I look forward to doing something similar at some point in the future. The acrylic fine art program will go on and Grumbacher has replaced me at most of these Michaels stores, so be sure to check with them to see if Acrylic Fine Art Classes are being offered at these locations. 
The following are some of the materials and paintings used in the acrylic art classes at Michaels which may assist you in exploring acrylic painting.  While these may not represent some of my more finished work, they are examples of what can be done with acrylics in a two-hour class.

The image at bottom is the reference photo given to me by Grumbacher for the landscape painting, and the other images are paintings I taught.  As the classes moved into autumn and winter, we shifted the landscapes to reflect the outside conditions.

The flowers on the left are paintings and the reference photos are show on the right.  The first reference photo at top and the one at bottom center were given to me by Grumbacher.  The other two photos are mine.

Below are the Seascape paintings I taught at Michaels and at bottom the reference photo I was given.  

Below are the still lifes I taught with my reference photos at the right.  At bottom is another reference photo which you are free to use to practice painting.  The


(Right) My final acrylic art class as a Grumbacher Instructor at Michaels on 12/18/2010.  Pictured with me are two of my most loyal regular students, Wei-Duan Liao at left and Judy Zeman at right.   Sincere thanks to all of my students. It was great fun while it lasted.

Friday, February 25, 2011

45. Duff Park in Winter, 12 x 16, digital photograph, 2011

This was taken in Duff Park in Murrysville, Pennsylvania close to where I live.  The original photo lacked any color and while it looked just fine as a standard black and white image, adding a sepia tone to the picture, I think, definitely makes this photograph stand out.  And yes, it was very cold when I took this. Click on the image to enlarge.

Edited on April 14, 2012:  After looking at this image for a year, I have decided that yellow snow is not all that appealing after all and I like my black and white version much more, especially when mounted in a nice modern chrome frame.  So here it is.  What do you think?

Duff Park in Winter by Bob Bickers, 2011, photograph

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

44. Winter Fences, digital photograph, 2011

Winter Fences by Bob Bickers, 2011, digital photograph
One of the things I like about living in Murrysville, PA, is the fact that I am never very far from the rural countryside. This view is not far from my house. I digitally altered my photograph in order to make it resemble an impressionist painting.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Monday, February 21, 2011

43. Sun and Shadow, 9 x 12, digital photograph, 2011

Here's another photo I took from the highway in Ohio which I managed to salvage.  Besides the tree catching my eye, I really liked the contrasts in the sunlight and shadows on the winter grass.  Click onthe image to enlarge.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

42. Branches, 8 x 10, photograph, 2011

This lonely tree was photographed from the highway while I was traveling through Ohio last month.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Monday, January 10, 2011

41. Acadian Sailing, 12 x 16, digital photograph, 2011

This is my interpretation of a scene taken in the waters off of Acadia National Park in Maine the summer of 2009.  I have many more images from Acadia that will be a source of inspiration for me for many years to come.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Monday, January 3, 2011

40. Cody's Catch, 18 x 24, oil on canvas, 2010

Cody's Catch by Bob Bickers, 18 x 24, oil on canvas, 2010
I begin this New Year by wrapping up a bit of business from 2010.  At right is an oil painting commissioned last year, Cody's Catch, 18 x 24, oil on canvas, 2010.  The person who commissioned the painting had accompanied Cody and his father on a fishing trip to a remote area of Canada a few years ago.  While there, Cody had caught a huge Northern Pike with an ordinary fishing line.  He struggled with it for a long time before bringing the exhausted fish to his kayak.  Unfortunately, the fish got away before any pictures could be taken, thus the desire to forever re-create the moment in oil.  I used photos of Cody taken on the trip, as well as pictures of the lake and I pulled reference photos off the internet ont he fish and the type of kayak Cody was using.  I then had my daughter pose for Cody's body holding a fishing rod and kneeling in a sled.  Eventually it all came together for a complete painting.  I have a page on my website showing the steps I took in creating this painting here.

I had a good time working on this painting and I hope to get more commissioins this year.  Meanwhile, I plan to post each new painting I do right here on this blog.  Most will be a bit smaller than this one, and each will be for sale.
A couple of years ago I tried to post a new painting every week, but stumbled a few months in as I got involved in other matters.  I am going to try to do the same again, although I may need to post one of my photographs once in a while.  I am hoping 2011 will be the start of a wonderful new decade of art!  As always, click on the image to enlarge.