Friday, August 25, 2006


Max Beckmann, as befits his Teutonic heritage, is partial to black. He is, at least in my humble opinion, the king of black. He is to black the way Picasso is to noses and eyes. The king.

But that's black with a "c." I had a moment to taste Coke Blak--no "C"--earlier today and have determined that the Coke people are the new kings of blak.

Joe Stirt, eponymous auteur of, writes tellingly:

Why Coca-Cola BlaK is doomed to fail: It's simply too good


It's not only bad products that wither away and disappear: good ones do as well — perhaps even more often.

The most common reason, in my humble opinion (note to self: coin acronym), is that something is simply too good for its time and place.

Full disclosure: I love Coca-Cola BlaK, introduced in April of this year with much fanfare.

Though it's meant to show off its "carbonated-coffee essence" the thing that most appeals to me about it is the wonderfully chocolaty flavor — not too sweet but, rather, in the words of Goldilocks, "just right."

Alas, it's far too quirky and exotic to succeed.

I predict the chance of being able to find this product at this time next year to be ≤ 1%.

Enjoy it while you can.

BlaK: R.I.P.

I am awfully fond of for reasons like the above.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Spikus Interruptus

Technical difficulties have prevented me from posting for almost a week. In the meantime, I have made significant progress on "Spikus Aurelius." What you last saw as this...

became this...

and is now this:

I suppose this would be a good time to confess that I do, on occasion, use a paintbrush. In this case, I had so clearly screwed up several features of his face that I was left with no choice but to white them out and start over. Thus the brush.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Lord Hamercy

Years ago I painted a portrait of a man in a formal suit and a head comprised of a tulip. I called it "Lord Hamercy" with the idea that it looked a lot like the sort of fusty, cracked-varnish portraits you might see in lesser English castles with a surreal twist. And of course there's a "Lord have mercy" joke in there too.

And it is with that phrase in mind that I prepare to meet tomorrow with the Pastor of my local Roman Catholic church. The topic of the meeting is:

Does the Catholic Church represent a viable "client" for allegorical and historic religious paintings?

I'll let you know what he thinks.

Somewhere in the back of my head I'm thinking that if Matisse and Picasso each got to paint churches, shouldn't I do one too? This is Matisse's Chapel of the Rosary in Vence, France.

Nice. Where are the folding chairs?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Day 4

Herewith the blow-by-blow of Exhibition Day Four:

Saturday, August 12, 2006
80 degrees, beautiful

2:10 Set up with "Elena C. (Girl With the Pearl Earring, 2005)". Given the size of this particular canvas, set up was much easier.
2:12 I already have to pee. This may be a problem.
2:13 Hard to keep my mind on the matters at hand. I'm trying to set up an appointment at a gallery later today and am awaiting the call-back.
2:40 Had quite a group of people all gather around at once. One guy took a flyer
3:03 Spoke with a bum with the most amazing nose--I'd to paint his face--who told me to watch out for the pigeon droppings. (Too late, I thought to myself) He also warned me that 24th street was worse for pigeons.
3:15 A woman walks by, says, "cute idea", which makes me wonder if this particular painting is the best choice for public showing. Does everyone just think it's a Vermeer knock-off? They probably do--I would if I didn't know the back story. It is easy to carry, though.
4:00 Finish "Much Ado About Nothing"--not one of my favorite comedies, but I was prepping for seeing another version of the play and wanted to be up to speed.
4:13 Remind me to tell you my "smartest guy in the room" story. Neither the time nor inclination now. But soon.
4:20 Gotta go. I mean, really. Pack up and head back to the office.

The Girl With the Pearl Earring, 2005

About a year ago I was sitting at a table at Elmo, the somewhat-stylish restaurant on 7th Avenue between 19th and 20th Street, in somewhat-stylish Chelsea, staring at the hostess, trying to figure out what it was about her that I found so compelling. I disregarded the fact that she's a knock-out--there was something else.

Then it hit me--she looked just like the girl in Vermeer's "Girl With the Pearl Earring." Or at least she looked as much like that whiter-than-white Dutch girl from the 17th Century as a modern woman of color could.

This, of course, is Vermeer's version (cropped a little, I think):

This is the girl from Elmo (also cropped a little):

And this is the portrait I painted of her:

It's called "Elena C. (Girl With the Pearl Earring, 2005)"

I happened to have a round 42" canvas sitting around the studio. I could never quite decide what I wanted to do with it. But it seemed perfect for this particular task.

But really, what's spooky is how much Elena looks like the Vermeer girl.

Dee dee dee dee (this would be the theme from the Twilight Zone playing).

Friday, August 11, 2006


I was trying to channel my inner Basquiat when I painted "Pricelist!"

Essentially a gag, it was more about how Basquiat would stretch his canvases over some sticks he tied together. This was, I'm guessing, before he started painting barefoot in Armani suits (see my previous post about Levi Button Fly 501s). Here the canvas is stretched over the back of a dilapidated loading pallet that I found outside my studio door one night. Thus the extreme skew to the left. You can see a piece of the pallet peeking out from the bottom of the painting on the left side. You don't hang this one; you lean it against the wall.

On it you can see what may now be some familar images: "Woman Adjusting Head," "Close, But Not Quite," and the St. Theresa painting, here entitled "The Lamentations of St. Theresa."

What's she complaining about? Isn't she having a big orgasm?

Anyway, getting back to the gag idea, "Pricelist!" is first and foremost a gag about the series of Mastercard commercials that end with the word "Priceless!"

So, as you can see, does the painting.


Breezin' Up

This is "Breezin' Up," by Winslow Homer.

My father took me to see it at a museum in Washington, DC--the Smithsonian, perhaps? That doesn't seem right--and it's the first painting I ever remember really looking at.

A couple of things fascinated me. First, I was very much of a sailor as a boy, and the big catboat in the painting reminded me of the duck boats and Sneakboxes I myself would sail on Barnegat Bay. But more than that, what really grabbed me was that, if you look closely at the sky just to the right of the sailor who's steering, you can see where Homer painted over the image of the boat on the horizon, either deleting it or moving it to its current location at the right edge of the painting. Likewise, if you look at the space just to the right of the middle sailor, you can see the same thing happening--he used to be hiking out; his figure extending horizontally, but Homer wiped that out and decided to have him sit up straight. (This second example is hard to see in the jpeg you are looking at, particularly since the image doesn't expand when you double-click it, but is quite obvious if you are staring at the actual picture.)

Lord, this hit me like a ton of bricks. Who knew, I thought, that guys like Homer were constantly screwing things up, white-ing things out, changing their minds? I always just thought the stuff came out like bolts from the forehead of Zeus.

To this day, when I've massively screwed something up on a painting, I think of "Breezin' Up" and feel better.

Which brings me to "The Ecstasy of St. Theresa."

Truth be told, I had originally planned on a one-panel, color painting--the right panel as you look at it--except that, as it unfolded, I realized I didn't leave enough room for the poor girl's head. This is what we, in the painting world, call a situation. The solution was to introduce the second panel. More on that later.

Even further to the point, if you look closely at the right panel you can see the "ghost" of an arm protruding at a 45 degree angle from the center of her chest. The original idea was to have the arm of the girl grasping the spear of the angel (which was never painted), uncertain as to whether she's pulling it in or pushing it out (or both) as she writhes in (sexual? spiritual?) ecstasy. And, as with Homer, the "ghost" is clearly obvious on the painting itself; harder to see on the jpeg.

And just like Homer, I ended up dumping the whole idea and painting over it. And today, as I look at what might be considered a glaring error, it doesn't bother me a bit. In fact, it's one of my favorite parts of one of my favorite paintings.

Wouldn't this look beautiful in somebody's dining room? Seventeen grand; negotiable.

The Ecstasy of St. Theresa

This is "The Ecstasy of St. Theresa":

The painting itself, comprised of two panels, measures approximately 14 feet in length and 5 feet in height. One panel is painted in color; the other in black and white. It is the zenith, if you will, of my randy saints series; that being my series of paintings of female saints that explores the fine line between sexual ecstasy and spiritual ecstasy.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must say I was inspired by passages from a Dan Brown novel that describe St. Theresa's sculpture as seemingly in the throes of a massive orgasm. Alarmingly so, Brown would recount. Shockingly so, others would suggest. On a less interesting note, Brown also suggests the sculpture was linked to the Illuminati, the shadow organization that fuels, to a large degree, the plot of "Angels and Demons."

Don't, by the way, rush out and buy this book. You are perhaps familiar with the term "jump the shark?" It is most often used to describe that moment or episode in which a previously enjoyable television show abandons those things that made it good and sells out to Hollywood. "Angels and Demons" officially jumps the shark when it turns out that the new Pope knows how to fly a helicopter. Please.

Anyway, the statue itself was sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and figures prominently in the decoration of the Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.

The following except from St. Theresa's autobiography should make clear why painting her seemed like such an excellent idea:

"I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying."

I mean, honestly...what's left to say?

Actually a couple of things, but I'm going to let the woman's words sink in for a while; revisit my thoughts on the painting later.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Voice in the Middle of the Night

I heard a voice in the middle of the night, telling me:
Catch your dreams before they slip away.
Since this blog is as much about insanity as it is about painting (how different are they, really?), I thought the voice was in my head. As I sat bolt upright I realized it was actually the Rolling Stones singing "Ruby Tuesday."
Dying all the time,
Mick continued,
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.
Which was hardly comforting, but made me think of a painting I did entitled "Woman Adjusting Head." Unstretched and stapled to the wall, it looks like this:

Kind of a Magritte/Munch fusion.

Ain't life unkind.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Relative Economics of Portraiture

Long-term, clearly the news is good.

With Ronald Lauder's purchase for $135 million of "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1" by Gustav Klimt (whom I sometimes confuse with Gussy Fink-Nottle, the character from a P. G. Wodehouse novel) coming on the heels, relatively speaking, of the $116 mil somebody paid at auction for "Portrait of Dr. Gachet" by van Gogh (these two transactions top the Wikipedia list of most expensive paintings ever sold), it is clear to me that portraiture is the smart move.

By the way, Picasso's "Garcon a la pipe" and "Dora Maar au chat" come in respectively at numbers 4 and 5, all-time, as adjusted for inflation. If you just count straight dollars, unadjusted, "Bal au moulon de la Galette, Montmartre" drops from its #3 spot down to #5, switching places with Dora and her cat.

Between you and me, $110 million, adjusted, seems high for a Renoir, but that is a nice painting. I love the guy in the hat.

So clearly, sooner or later, the money should start pouring in. In the meantime, I am thinking about selling my watch. It's a beauty--a early-70s Rolex Explorer II, stainless. Having never used ebay, I'm leaning towards reaching the local NY market through Craigslist.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Day 3--the report

Herewith the blow-by-blow of Day Three:

Tuesday, August 8, 2006
87 degrees. Very pleasant

2:30 While preparing to leave the office, I receive a call from my daughter with a minor domestic emergency.
2:31 Plans shelved to assist daughter. Day Three ends before it starts.

St. Francis of Assisi

St Francis said, "Preach the Gospel always--if necessary, use words."

I saw the most extraordinary painting Sunday at the Met. Caravaggio's "The Denial of Saint Peter"--a depiction of Peter, a Roman soldier, and a woman telling the soldier that Peter was one of the disciples while Peter denies it, all illuminated only by the light of a fire. The woman, by the way, reminds me of Monica Belluci, the Italian screen siren who plays Mary in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ" (also the ill-fated Alex in "Irreversible"). The record should show that Caravaggio's painting is way better than Mel's movie.

Caravaggio was clearly a guy who took St. Francis' words to heart. What you can't see in the photo--and can barely see in the painting itself--is that the woman is pointing two fingers at Peter while the soldier points another. These three fingers represent the three times Peter denied Christ. Yow.

As for me? Well, canvas is a cloth, so one could say I, like Caravaggio, am a man of same. But I must admit I was gobsmacked at the intensity of the painting. Would that I could tend my flock as well as he.

Day 3

Like the Six Hundred, I will sally forth into the wilds of Chelsea this afternoon. The current location of The Gallery of One is up for debate (mostly internal).

In any case, today I will remain at the same location--the north side of 22nd St., under the High Line. For ease of portage, I am changing plans somewhat and will be showing "Girl With The Pearl Earring, 2005"--a portrait of a restaurant worker who looks so much like Vermeer's pearl girl that it's eerie.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Chuck Close Must Be Freaking Out

I thought it might be interesting to demonstrate how a painting--in this case, a grid painting--progresses.

The example here is my painting of Chuck Close. As source material I used the photograph Close took of himself that became the basis for more than one painting of his. This is it:

Here is a shot of my painting in progress and then the final product:

The idea is to paint each square while the adjacent squares are masked off. Working in such a visual "vacuum" creates a disconnect between certain areas of the canvas--the rim of the glasses in his right eye, for example, don't completely line up on the upper-right. Likewise the coloring of his forehead varies considerably from one grid square to the next. And even though I eventually grapple with the painting as a whole, ignoring the grid for the last several layers of paint, the unresolved conflict between the squares creates a low level of visual chaos that enlivens the image.

Quite zippy, I think. It will likely be one of those things art historians point to when they say, "He was the pre-eminent portraitist of his time.

Chuck Close must be freaking out.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Exhibiting--Day Two

Herewith the blow-by-blow of Day Two, now blessedly over:

Saturday, August 5, 2006
@88 degrees; sunny and dry

3:00 Arrive and set up. Am exhibiting Lilah S. for the last time.
3:01 A provocative stare from a passerby promises, at least to my mind, an exciting day.
3:07 A Saab pulls up and a bunch of women come out of the restaurant next to me and fill it with boxes. Must have been some kind of shower. Lots of airkisses and goodbyes. Nobody so much as glances at my painting.
3:25 Lots of staring from passerbys, but no talking. I am loathe to initiate conversation, but I do smile and make eye contact. Less foot traffic than I would have thought, given this being the first nice Saturday in a while.
3:35 Strange looking guy asks if the galleries are open. Mine is, FYI. I point him down the street; wish him luck. He is wearing shorts, dark socks and sky-blue Chelsea boots. Looks a little like Cosmo Kramer, but spookier.
3:55 Meet a woman--a fellow portraitist--named Patricia O'Donnell. She told me John Sargeant preferred to paint people he didn't know, rather than his friends and acquaintences. Made him less hung up on the absolute realism and more in tune with the essence. This is from her, not me.
4:25 Unbelievably slow. I'm going to pack up soon if nobody else comes by. I wonder if the good times on Saturday are earlier.
4:45 This is how it looks:

If you've been following, you can tell it looks just like Day One. I wonder if I am better served bringing a new painting every day, or sticking with the one painting per week strategy currently in play. You may be able to zoom in and read my bit of promotional literature on Lilah's upper right corner. If not....

5:05 While walking home I run into a woman walking two dogs. We talk painting for ten minutes or so. Makes me feel better about the day, but with only one flyer distributed, I feel that I have not moved the needle even the slightest bit. I will spend the rest of the weekend reflecting on slight tweeks I can make to my marketing initiative in time for Tuesday. Tomorrow I am going to reconnoiter the neighborhood again to identify alternative sites.

The key is not to panic; make incremental changes rather than wholesale ones; stay the course to a degree. But still, this was a downer.

ps--I could have sold more paintings in the Valley of Death.

Into the Valley of Death Rode the Six Hundred

The Six Hundred comprise, of course, the Light Brigade. And the poem from which the line is taken is, of course, the Charge of Same.

And although I like a dramatic headline as much as the next guy, it's actually only me and I'm not riding. I'm walking, or will be soon enough, pushing my trusty handtruck, loaded with a rolled-up painting, my folding chair, my promotional materials, some water and other miscellaneous support materials, including a hardback version of "Heat", the cooking memoir that's all the rage but which annoys my friend Chuck--who is both an actual chef and a subject of mine whose portrait you will likely see soon enough.

And my destination isn't the Valley of Death. It's the north side of 22nd Street, west of 10th Avenue, under the High Line.

And, unlike many of the six hundred, I anticipate coming back alive.

For those of you wishing to see the entire poem, click here.

I particularly like the part that goes:

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

I wish I could paint this good.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Concerned Friends

Stan, a concerned friend of mine, says to me on the phone, "You sound good. Are you okay?" (his concern precipitated by my recent plunge off the face of the world as we know it) I say, enigmatically, "I have the ability to fool people."

Since this is more than Stan can handle, he tells me he has to go to see a movie with his wife. I recommend Descent, which got strong reviews in both The Times and the Post--an unusual double hit.

If Stan hadn't jumped off (a phrase that makes me giggle), I would have told him I was listening to the Beach Boys this morning. That would have cheered him up, until I told him which song:

I keep looking for a place to fit
Where I can speak my mind
Ive been trying hard to find the people
That I wont leave behind

They say I got brains
But they aint doing me no good
I wish they could

Each time things start to happen again
I think I got something good goin for myself
But what goes wrong

Sometimes I feel very sad
Sometimes I feel very sad
(cant find nothin I can put my heart and soul into)
Sometimes I feel very sad
(cant find nothin I can put my heart and soul into)

I guess I just wasnt made for these times

Every time I get the inspiration
To go change things around
No one wants to help me look for places
Where new things might be found

Where can I turn when my fair weather friends cop out
Whats it all about

Each time things start to happen again
I think I got something good goin for myself
But what goes wrong

Sometimes I feel very sad
Sometimes I feel very sad
(cant find nothin I can put my heart and soul into)
Sometimes I feel very sad
(cant find nothin I can put my heart and soul into)

I guess I just wasnt made for these times
I guess I just wasnt made for these times
I guess I just wasnt made for these times
I guess I just wasnt made for these times
I guess I just wasnt made for these times
I guess I just wasnt made for these times

(Brian Wilson)

Actually, I feel great. I just have the ability to fool people.

Should You Wish to Contact Me

Should you wish to contact me, send an email to

Exhibition Day 2, Hopefully for the Last Time

As noted below, The Gallery of One (moi) will be open tomorrow from two-ish to five, at the usual place.

It should be noted that the title of this post suggests hope that we are embarking on Day Two for the last time, not that we are coming to an end. To the contrary. I believe we have just begun to fight.

Hopefully, Days Three, Four, Five, etc., will all fall into place in the appropriate order.

It will look pretty much like this, except I'll be sitting in the chair.

A Room with a View

The view out my studio window onto Union Square is this:

So my friends ask me why I don't exhibit my work in Union Square instead of dragging it to Chelsea. Two answers jump to mind.

First, in the final analysis, I'd rather be close to the action, and the action is in Chelsea. Second, even though portraiture can be conducted successfully without a dealer, it would be advantageous to have a relationship with one. And how many gallery owners are wandering around Union Square?

Thus, every day I spend in The Gallery of One is an investment in making one or both of those things happen.

That said, tomorrow should be a nice enough day to exhibit. If you haven't been following closely, I'm thinking between two and five, on the north side of 22nd, under the High Line. Visitors are welcome.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Too Hot

As discussed, I stepped outside at about three and determined that it was too hot to exhibit. The question, if you're wondering, is less about my ability to schlep stuff to the appointed spot and more about the fact that no one will be there to see it.

Given my concern about consuming electricity, I then repaired to what some people think is the center of the world: the Peter McManus Cafe.

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, the PMC (above) is the workplace of one Howie Levine. See his portrait under an earlier post entitled "The Last Freebie." (To do so, you'll have to open the July archives.)

Later, at home, I'll be blowing AC to beat the band. But every moment saved is a straw off ConEd's back.

Elena in the Morning

"Elena in the Morning" looks like this:

Two things strike me as being of interest here. First, instead of inscribing my typical one-foot grid with charcoal, I lay twine across the surface of the canvas (already stretched in this instance) and gessoed it into place.

Second, I then painted the surface a reddish-brown. This may not seem like much to you, but up until Elena, every painting I've done in this style has been executed on a neutral canvas. Let me tell you, painting the damned thing brown changes the whole game.

The image itself was then recorded by dribbling black paint on top of the brown. Yellows, blues, some pink...but mostly black. I like her face and the impressionistic feel to the painting. It doesn't look as much like the woman herself (I've painted her before), but when I showed it to her I referenced the famous line Picasso fed Gertrude Stein.

"It doesn't look like me," she said.
"It will," he replied.

I am entranced, if I do say so myself, with how the one-inch strands of unpainted yarn extend into space beyond the stretched canvas, creating the impression of a frame.

Exhibition Day 2, Redux

It remains spectacularly hot in Manhattan. I've been told that Bloomberg LLP has turned off its office televisions as an energy-saving measure. Odd, I thought when I heard, but you have to applaud any effort.

Me? My plan is to step outside around 3:00 pm and determine the relative wisdom of exhibiting today. The act of sitting under the trestle on West 22nd will be done in lieu of sitting at home with the air conditioning blasting, so I suppose this would be an example of the arts supporting the city rather than vice-versa.

One thing that does have me fired up is the recent piece in the New York Times about the redecoration of the Gramercy Hotel by Julian Schnabel. Always one to rejoice in the success of my fellow painter (except, perhaps, in certain acute situations), it's good to see Mr. Schnabel branching out; keeping the wolf from the door, so to speak.

And I'm not much of a Cy Twombly fan, but the article's lead photo showing the big, primarily red piece of his in the hotel's lobby juxtaposed to the set of red curtains framing an arched doorway makes me just want to run over, order a mojito at the bar and ask them to put a maraschino cherry in it.

The name of the Twombly work, by the way, is "Bacchus (untitled)." If I ever get that cute in naming my stuff ("Close, But Not Quite" notwithstanding) I would appreciate a swift slap in the face.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Levi 501 Button Fly Jeans

The woman who used to do my laundry must have looked at my socks and wondered what the hell I was up to. Even as I now type I'm wearing navy socks with red, blue, yellow and white paint marks on their soles. It's quite festive, in a discrete sort of way.

All of which leads me to a further explanation of what I do and how I do it.

On a logistical level, every painting goes through more or less the same sequence over and over again. The sequence is this:

I am sitting on my sofa staring at the unfinished painting on the wall of my studio. Depending on how the painting is going, I am filled, for example, with unbridled optimism (usually at the beginning) or extreme self-loathing (usually about 3/4 of the way through) or elation (sometimes, at the end, if I'm pleased) or some other emotion. In any case, I am invariably studying the painting, deciding what to do next. When the fit seizes me, I stand up, tear the painting off the wall, throw it on the floor, kick my shoes off, rip my pants off and start painting.

I keep my socks on because, really, if I get paint on the soles of my socks, who cares? My pants are another thing entirely. First, if you get paint all over your pants (and if your painting style involves throwing paint from the end of a stick, you will get paint all over your pants), they are essentially ruined. Second, they cost a lot more than socks.

Thus Levi 501 Button Fly Jeans. Provided you are not wearing a belt, there is no faster pant to be ripped off one's body than a pair of button fly 501s. You just grab the fabric in the vicinity of the top button and yank. The rest of them pop open in sequence, making a pleasing machine-gunny sound as the five buttons part company with their respective buttonholes. I'm reminded of how, back when the Knicks were really something to see, Pat Riley would signal to John Starks to enter the game and he'd jump up and somehow (I still don't actually know how--Velcro maybe) yank his warm-up pants off in one fell swoop, the way a magician yanks a tablecloth off without disturbing the dishes, and rush to the scorer's table.

Done painting, I let the canvas dry on the floor then put it back on the wall, put my shoes and pants back on and return to my spot on the sofa. The sequence then begins again.

Spikus Aurelius

My current subject is Lawrence, although a subset of his friends call him Spike. He's an actor, and looks like this:

Where I stand on "Lawrence J. (Spikus Aurelius)" looks like this:

There's always a moment when I look at the black and white (for lack of a better term) silhouette and wonder if I should stop here. It's hard to see on the blog, but the image on the canvas feels very much like a white marble sculpture.

I actually did stop with my picture of St. Joan. This is where I ended up:

Because her canvas wasn't gessoed, her skin takes on a nice cafe au lait coloring. At this point I chose to stand pat.

There's insanity...and then there's just plain crazy

Some of my friends have suggested that my current occupation is a manifestation of burgeoning insanity. To them I say, "Nuts."

And so, in part as proof of my sanity, I chose not to drag a painting to the north side of 22nd street and sit there in the hundred degree heat while nobody walked by. Instead I opted for seeing the theatrical release of Miami Vice. After all, I'm not crazy.

Regarding Miami Vice, my disappointment is palpable. More on this later, although I must say that the shot of Sonny and Rico roaring up one of those Miami canals in a speedboat swollen to the bursting point with bales of cocaine, silhouetted against the setting sun, all blues, greens and oranges, was almost worth the price of admission. That, plus the air-conditioning.

Oh God, Oh God

Sometimes I go for more overtly Christian imagely, although this freaks people out more often than not.

This painting is called "The Lamentations of St. Agnes", and is part of an ongoing series of female Catholic saints, the painting of which is an exploration of the line between spiritual and sexual ecstasy. Thus the repetition of the phrase "OGOD" (a contraction of "Oh God") around two sides of the painting. This also freaks people out, by the way.

In neither case can this be my concern.

I do like how the OGOD border lends a cinematic air to the proceedings; the suggestion, perhaps, of a Tarantino/Plutarch fusion. And I must say, I could probably die happy just having painted this face...

Oh God.