Gabriel Roberts

Truth is Beauty

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October 2016 Desktop Calendar Background

Here’s a new background for October! Well, what’s left of it anyway…

Photo is of Lake Elmore at sunrise (or shortly thereafter) in Elmore, Vermont.

Click one of these links to download for your desktop:
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Turning Thirty: Painting Pictures Ep. 52

I made it to thirty years old! Next stop: the year 2047. Here’s a new episode of Painting Pictures to commemorate this momentous occasion, recorded dangerously while driving around Vermont. Pie crust recipe complaints, some thoughts on boogers, over-competitive society, and, of course, coffee. Oh and I got married!

Click here to download the episode and subscribe to Painting Pictures via iTunes:

Here’s a permalink to the episode:

September 2016 Desktop Calendar Background

Yes! September is here! You got it! Probably the best month of the year, and a few days late I’m happy to present a new desktop background image for your computer:

september-2016 desktop calendar background by Gabriel Roberts

This photo is from Highway 12, just North of Elmore Vermont. The road hugs the side of Mount Elmore, and off to the side you can often see an ocean of fog in the lowlands. On this morning it crept all the way up to the highway.

Click one of these links to open a large image and set it as your background:
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Many thanks to Lukasz Dziedzik for the lovely Lato Font:

August 2016 Desktop Calendar Background

Hello and welcome to the month of August! Here’s a new wallpaper for your computer desktop:

August 2016 1440x900

This is a digital coloring of a pen-and-ink drawing I made here in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Pictured is a farm off of Highway 14 near Craftsbury.

Click one of the following links to open a full-sized image and save it as your desktop background:
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Trigger Warnings with Joe Gruen: The Cream and The Clear on Painting Pictures Ep. 51

Joe Gruen returns to record a new episode of The Cream and The Clear, joining Gabriel to discuss Do It Yourself, leakage, tractors, almond butter and/or tomatoes, and pigs. TRIGGER WARNING: This episode is not remotely safe for work.

Go here to download the episode and subscribe to Painting Pictures via iTunes:

Here’s a permalink to the episode:

In Search of Painting

I want to see paintings made unselfconsciously. Paintings painted by artists who had some ideal of perfection for which they strived, and who were not considering politics or ideology. There was Michelangelo and Rembrandt, then Van Gogh and Matisse and Derain. But what then? What about now? Who is painting seriously today?

Most of what I see is flat, dark, vulgar, and vapid. It has no content in and of itself: it requires the accompanying essay for appreciation. It explores politics in some vague and abstract manner. It touches on soundbyte themes like feminism or culture or man’s destruction of nature, but does nothing for these causes besides allusions: what does referencing feminism do for feminism? And what does a painting referencing feminism do for me on my wall, besides give me a script for the 30-second conversation I can have with my houseguest who wants to admire my new piece of art? Of what use are these pictures?

Great paintings have intrinsic value. They are magic. They hang on a wall and in exchange for your attention they provide spiritual manna: they feed your soul. Looking at a great painting is a positive, enriching, and worthwhile experience. Your mind can take a rest from interpretation. You look at a great painting for the same reason you smell a flower: you are drawn to it, it captivates you, offers itself to you and unfolds over time.

While some still paint flowers, landscapes, and figures, this is no longer considered valid as true art, and as such very few true artists can be found here. There are hobbyists happily depicting pretty flowers and sunsets, selling their paintings for $250, satisfying themselves when they get that nice little bit of yellow in the center of the flower, or the blue shadow of the tree or a particularly juicy stroke of paint, and especially when they apply their signature in the bottom corner. These pictures are equally shallow as the conceptual or political nonsense mentioned above: you and your houseguest can have a 30-second conversation about flowers or birds or San Francisco. You will never really look at this picture, because after the first glance it is dead: it has offered up all that it has, and from now on is nothing more than an object on your wall. There is no magic.

The artist today, if she pursues education, will be taught to deconstruct all ideas of art, to follow the endless downward spirals of her panicked mind, searching for something new, something dark and twisted and convoluted, and will only be allowed to stop and be patted on the back when she has created something thoroughly confusing or completely empty. Only then will she be allowed to teach at the college level.

Alternately, he may decide to forgo education and instead paint what he likes to paint. Unfortunately, he will be forced to get a job and in a few years will stop painting entirely, or he will be forced to make something marketable and become a whore to the whims of a tasteless society that will only respect the paintings they cannot understand and cannot afford, and will only purchase paintings of their backyard or their pet or a rooster, because they collect rooster things.

The painter with good intentions, who is not interested in expressing political views through art, finds no one to push her towards greatness. Nobody will tell her honestly what they think about her work. The critics and professors won’t even look at her paintings, and everybody else will say “great job” and “good for you” no matter how good or bad her work. She will paint the same thing for thirty years, in the same style, and die having done nothing for art, nothing for her patrons, and nothing for her own huge and infinite soul.

The serious painter walks a lonely road. He is mocked by great museums hung with complete nonsense auctioned at absurd prices, or patronized by cramped gift shops that will hang his paintings on over-full and poorly-lit walls behind cases of jewelry and glass figurines.

This morning, in search of painting, I do a web search for “painting blog”, and get as the top result the blog of New American Painting, and accompanied by a painting of a strange green landscape, the following “review” (please feel free to skip ahead):

There is constant irregular conflict behind the eyes—flash! electronic fusillades jumping viciously into the breach! burning, burning chemical warfare! psychological warfare, of the most personal and literal kind!—whether the brutal bedfellows Mercury and Mars, tussling for dominance and fucking to fuck you, or the constant recce and rendering benign of the dangerous and volatile thoughts accrued from the moment one awakes and slips into Society, or the punching of mirrors, or the delicate handling of nitroglycerin emotions, or the silencing of vicious tongues, or the bolstering of saintly patience, or the valiantly held redoubt, behind which happiness flies beautifully, vulnerably, the tattered and torn through—victim of a thousand missiles, from a thousand enemies, from a thousand directions—standard which, if all goes to plan (hah!) serves as both signal and spur … but few battles of the brain are more foundational, and therefore more potentially devastating, than the Soviet Spy style, low and slow, inevitable conflict between reminiscence and reality, the fungibility of memory a rose-colored radiation, seeping into every sulci, every incident, a terribly malleable foundation—Memory!—for us to build ourselves upon, leaving us all Houses on the Sand


So perhaps I must write more about painting on my own blog. I can post images of my work and talk about my process. I can post images of paintings I love and talk about why I love them. If you have an artist or a painting that you would like to discuss, please contact me at I cannot promise any amount or frequency of content, only honesty and dedication to the magic of great painting.

I’ll leave you with a wonderful painting by Andre Derain:


July 2016 Desktop Calendar Background

July 2016 1680x1050

Howdy folks and welcome to July! Here’s a chilled-out easy-going summertime background for your computer’s desktop. Photo is of Lake Caspian at sunset here in Greensboro, Vermont. Imagine the sound of water gently lapping underneath a dock. Then think about how weird the word “lapping” is. Then go back to just thinking about chill lakeside vibes.

Click one of the following links to open a large image and set it as your background:

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Basement Talk with Brent McCoy: Painting Pictures Ep. 50

I couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate fifty episodes of the podcast than with the following conversation with the supremely talented and warm-hearted Brent McCoy:

Basement Talk with Brent McCoy

Street performer extraordinaire, damn good painter, bread baker and Settler of Catan Brent McCoy joins Painting Pictures to explain the worldwide street-performing and circus scene, the origins of Vermont Vaudeville, and what’s it like to be living the dream. THIS MAN HAS STOPPED DRINKING COFFEE!

Click here to download the episode and subscribe to Painting Pictures via iTunes:

Here’s a permalink to the episode:

Check out Brent’s website:

See him and Maya perform regularly at Faneuil Hall in Boston.

Painting Pictures Ep. 49: Baby Creemee

baby creemee
From Greensboro Bend, Vermont, a solo stampede through bread-making, potholes, washboards, and soft-serve ice cream.  Wander with me as we run barefoot, get chased by dogs, and finish with a Shakey Graves cover.

Download and subscribe via iTunes:


June 2016 Desktop Calendar Background

June 2016 1440x900

Welcome to June!  I’m in Vermont and it’s green like I ain’t never seen.  I spent the past few days painting in a field overlooking some hills here in the Northeast Kingdom.  In a bold and brilliant cross-promotional gambit, I have converted the resulting oil painting into a new background for June!

Click one of the following links to open a large version of the image and download for your desktop:

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