Friday, March 28, 2008

This is my brain...

This is my brain. This is my brain on drugs.

This is my girl Erin:

This is my brain on drugs:

And still more drugs:

Disregard the whole nose/flume/upper lip thing. It's still way to early for all that.

And back to the drug thing: Actually, we have a strong anti-drug policy here at The Year of Magical Painting and none of the images you see above involved any drug use whatsoever. Including alcohol. Which, by the way, is not prohibited under the collective bargaining agreement.

Also, a quick note on the phrase "my girl Erin": I mean, I don't know the woman whatsoever. So I'm the first one to admit that the phrase "my girl" is a bit presumptuous. That said, I think I've spent more time staring at photographs of her than probably anybody in the world over the last couple of months (other than, perhaps, a subset of perverts that should best go unacknowledged), so there's a sense of vesting that has occurred.

And a philosophical thought: One of the reasons that people spend the required membership fee to tune into TYOMP is certainly this: most of the time you only get to see the finished paintings. Here, you get to see them unfold before your very eyes. For good or for bad.

You may remember that we last left Ms. Burnett like this:

God Almighty, that was a low point. A low, low point. But this time around, I'm embracing my discomfort. I'm approaching the hair in a completely different manner. And I'm stepping away from the yellow on her face like it was a flaming broom and I'm one of those characters from The Wizard of Oz.

And a quick additional note: Actually, cropped as you see it above, I kind of like this version of Big Erin I. It doesn't look anything like the subject for whom it's named. But it has a kind of strength.

Anyway, the game is afoot. Look at how blurry the resource photo is. Somebody looked at it and said, "Don't you think that's a little blurry?" To which I responded, "I paint blurry."

And there's some truth in that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I've been sitting in my office for the last couple of days...

I've been sitting in the studio for the last couple of days (quick aside: interesting how the word "office" instead of "studio" rolled off my fingers while pounding out the title. I think that's a good thing) staring at the blank canvas that's destined to be "Hey Joe...", my depiction of the Annunciation of Joseph.
I thought you just did Wall Street guys.
I'm assuming that you're using the word "guys" in a non-gender-specific way.
Of course. How else would I use it?
I can't imagine.
Back to the original question: I thought you just did Wall Street guys.
Nah. I'm well rounded.
Yeah. My beat is money, sex and God; individually and in combination.
Petty comprehensive.
Yeah. If you can't fit what you're trying to do into those three, do something else.
Nicely said. Where does the Annunciation of Joseph fit?
It's a sex/God combo-pak.
Got it.
Anyway, I've been sitting in my office staring at the already gessoed canvas thinking, roughly, "What the fuck am I doing here? I don't have a clue where to start."

It's pretty frustrating. Especially on the heels of Big Fidel's relative merits.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Castro's a disaster

Castro's about done. Mostly because I think spending any more time on him is counterproductive. I do love the sadness in his eyes, though.

It matches the sadness in mine when I realize what a disaster Fidel is.

I like the cigar too.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

That smell is me burning up the clutch

Can you hear the gears grinding? Smell that chemically-rubbery-smokey smell? That whining sound coming from the differential? That's Season Two of The Year of Magical Painting lurching forward.

Lurching forward with, of all things, this:

This is a still photo of Big Fidel taken moments after all the Christmas wrapping was pulled away. More or less where we left it when we plunged into The Annotated Spitzer. In a perfect world I'd also post the video of the unwrapping, but I haven't had time to upload to YouTube.

In the meantime, suffice it to say I was a bit shaken by how far astray one painting could go in such a short period of time. I mean, I thought things looked pretty good during the Seventh Inning Stretch. You?

Anyway, after a couple of days of anxiety I got back on the horse and made some changes. The biggest one (albeit one already predicted in these very pages) is the deletion (if that's the right word for taking a razor blade and just cutting the fucking thing off) of the entire left column of boxes (Talk about obscured boxes...). Which, of course, yielded this:

Quick note: I can't stand the color correction here. It should be more vibrantly orange and green. Like this font color.
But back to the narrative: I just couldn't stand to look at that finger another minute. I've subsequently dealt with the whole mouth problem by (engagingly enough, if I do say so myself): a) fixing it, and b) adding a cigar to disguise the lame manner in which I fixed it. As is often the case, when I say "fixed" it, I mean started to fix it. There is clearly more work to do, both on the cigar as well as the rest of the damned thing.

Here's a close-up. It was too wet to get a full shot, but tomorrow will no doubt bring one.

Nonetheless, we here at TYOMP are now tootling down the road again, sanguine--as is our fundamental nature, listening to The Floating Men and throw long-necks at any State Troopers we pass.

Life is good.

Although I still can't believe nobody bought my painting.

Black day at TYOMP/Open letter to the Wall Street community

It's a black day at The Year of Magical Painting. Perhaps the low-point of Season Two.

The reason, of course, is the no-sell of The Annotated Spitzer. I had thought this one would go like hotcakes. Perhaps the recent turmoil amongst my client base didn't help. But still... I mean, did you SEE that painting?

Nonetheless, the only thing you can do is grind forward. I'm going to fold the entire left column of Big Fidel underneath the painting, essentially shifting the grid format from 6x5 to 6x4. I'll keep you posted.

As for Big Eliot? I'm embracing the Fram Oil Filter financial model: pay me now or pay me (a significantly greater amount) later.

Which speaks to one of the elemental functions of what I do/have done. That being: if I didn't think greatness was afoot; if I didn't think this Rube Goldberg-like contraption would fly me to the North Pole; if I didn't believe whatever it is that I believe... then what the fuck?

Me? I believe that you, members of the Wall Street community, having chosen not to pay me a reasonable sum now, are gonna have to cough up a wad of money the size of a roll of quarters for future considerations.

Fram, baby!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Day Five

This is the final version of "The Annotated Spitzer." Double click for a hi res image:

Bidding closes at @10:00 am Wednesday.

Thank you in advance.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Spitzer Timeline

Since I'm not exhibiting today, I thought it might be nice to provide a feel for how this whole thing unfolded.

Note: Double-clicking on each image will give you a hi resolution version.

Over the weekend of March 8/9 I started working on a painting of Eliot Spitzer that I planned to give to (a group of NYC and Catskills-based citizens fighting the potentially disastrous expansion of the Belleayre mountain resort that Spitzer had championed) to use as a fund-raising device. When Monday morning rolled around I realized three things: a) a Spitzer painting, since he would likely no longer be Governor, would be of little use to them, b) that if I down-shifted into second, so to speak, I could finish the painting and get it on Wall Street in a timely manner, and c) my painting of Fidel Castro could wait a week or so.

This, by the way, is Big Fidel in its formative stages:

(Explanatory note: Unlike the Spitzer painting, I'm doing Big Fidel in what is called the Obscured Box Technique--where I paint each one-foot square completely then mask it off before painting the next one. This is Big Fidel half done, the point at which I usually unmask the whole thing to see where we are. If you look closely, you can see that each horizontal band is actually composed of five "boxes" that abut each other in sometimes disjunctive ways.)

Big Fidel, by the way, is for sale.

Anyway, back to the narrative: I didn't take any pictures on Monday, but by Tuesday afternoon, The Annotated Spitzer looked like this:

Eleven p.m. Tuesday evening we had this:

Wednesday evening--after the first day of annotation--we had this:

Thursday evening:

Friday evening (and where it currently stands):

Day Four Update

Do you spend much time on Wall Street? Despite having never worked there, my experience with standing around outside the damned place is considerable and I can tell you that the ambient temp in that particular neighborhood is about five degrees lower than the published New York City weather reports. Add the wind chill of all that air coming off the Hudson (and, I suppose, by connection, the North Atlantic) and the fact that sunlight is thin on the ground in those parts and I must apologetically announce that it is just a little too cold to be standing outside with a painting.

Besides, there's no more room to write anyway. See for yourself:

There is also the very real concern that some drunk (today being the day that it is) might grab a marker and have at the thing in an inappropriate way.

Tomorrow should be warmer.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

If you're just tuning in...

It's possible you've arrived here from the eBay page for "The Annotated Spitzer." If so, scroll past this post until you get to the updates, then double click on the images that interest you. The top-most images are current as of Friday evening.
Bidding for "The Annotated Spitzer" closes at about 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
As far as updates are concerned, the painting isn't being exhibited over the weekend. Monday lunchtime, weather permitting, will see it back out in front of the NYSE. Tuesday, likely behind the Goldman Sachs office at 85 Broad.

In the meantime, you might want to click on the "my current portfolio" link just to the right of this post to see examples of previous work. On a commercial note, several of these paintings were painted on commission. Please contact me if you have some someone you'd like to see rendered in the usual manner.

If you don't have the energy to click through to the portfolio, here are a couple of previous paintings you might enjoy:

Quick note: the first picture you see--"The Annotated Murdoch"--is the only other painting of mine on which I've invited the public to offer notations. I did it late last summer, during the week or so of time between when the board of Dow Jones recommended accepting Mr. Murdoch's purchase offer and the Bancroft family agreed to do so.

It is as poignant a document as the Spitzer painting, if not more so. That said, there are, I believe, 93 annotations on the Murdoch painting. Spitzer's contains well over 300. They are, I can assure you, damned hard to count accurately.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Day Three, by quadrants

For maximum resolution of the annotations, I've shown close-ups of each quadrant, starting with the top left, Double click for maximum size.

Top right:

Bottom left:

Bottom right:

Day Three

Here is what "The Annotated Spitzer" looks like as of end of day Friday:

What is interesting, as the comments really get packed in (I stopped counting at 200), is how the background approaches the same visual effect you might get with random brush strokes of red, green and gray.

In the flesh it is quite pleasing.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Day Two

As of midnight, the painting looks like this:

Red indicates members of the financial community and black is for general civilians. A new category is green, indicating comments from people at the Pete McManus Cafe, my favorite watering hole, located at the corner of 7th Avenue and 19th Street in Manhattan.

This is the cover of New York Metro this morning. Interesting to note the number of annotations as of mid-afternoon yesterday versus where we currently stand.

Other media coverage includes: NPR, CNN, the New York Post,, and a bunch of others.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Like a lightning bolt from the forehead of Zeus...

I give you "The Annotated Spitzer."

I think it's going pretty well for the first day. Double click to read comments.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bit of a screw-up...

Seem to have neglected to commit to the archives, or into any electronic storage device whatsoever, how we looked at the end of Day Three.
I can hear the completists gnashing their teeth.
Me too. Fuck em.
And now, all that stuff is covered up. Basta!
Why do you keep saying Basta? We don't need no stinking basta.
Excellent point. I don't even know what it means.
Wikipedia says its a village in Shetland, Scotland.
I thought Shetland was a village.
In Swedish, basta means to sit in a sauna.
You would think it would mean to sit in a sauna while, at periodic intervals, somebody with a basta sucks up all your liquid and squirts it back on top of your head. To ensure even cooking and a nice brown skin.
Maybe that's how they make head cheese.
If you and I were sitting in a bar in Basta, Scotland, drinking some local beer out of 8-ounce bottles, do you know what the beers would be called?
Shetland ponies?

Anyway, this is how we look halfway through Day Four:

And by tomorrow night we'll see just what the damned thing looks like.

Can't wait.

Big Fidel--Quick note on timing

One school of thought, if "school of thought" doesn't confer greater importance on the topic than it necessarily deserves, goes like this:

Today we finish Day Three and a good portion of Day Four. Day Four continues through Tuesday afternoon.
Christmas Day comes, perhaps in the presence of friends Chuck and Wyn, sometime late Tuesday afternoon. Be sure and watch for the video on youtube.
Day Six is Wednesday and Thursday.
And Day Seven, the day on which God is said to have rested, is Saint Patrick's day.

Me? I'll be doing my resting at the Peter McManus Cafe. But I'll get out before the bagpipe brigade appears and things become truly bizarre.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Big Fidel--Day Three

We are somewhere between noon and happy hour on Day Three of Big Fidel. There are no images to share. There is, however, the renewed hope that, as my mother once said to me, everything is going to be all right.

Me? I have my doubts.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Dynamic Cinemascope

Here's a wide angle shot of just one of our problems:


Whatever that means.

Here we are at the end of Day One:

Here we are at the end of Day Two:

Prediction: There is going to be hell to pay when we see how one side of his mouth relates to the other, once the tape comes off.

How do I know? Well, first I'm experienced at this sort of thing, so you could call it a sort of expert testimony. Second, I already took the tape off:


That said, what really bugs me is not the dynamic disjunction between squares 17 and 18. It's the difference in color between 25 and 26. What was I thinking?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Viva Zapata!

Whatever that means.

One of the differences between a twenty-foot square canvas and its thirty-foot compadre (if that's where you hyphenate) is the fact that you can't stand on one side of the thirty-footers, stretch your arms up and out, and capture the entire canvas with your camera. Things get twisted. Bits get left out.

Experience, however, tells us that if you take a canvas that is covered with wet, dripped paint and hang it on the wall so as to get a better shot ... well, let me tell you, it's a disaster.

So as evening falls on Day One we are left with this:

Or, as they say at Ohio State when they play Wisconsin: "Badgers? We don't need no stinking badgers."

Basta! Whatever that means.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

And Furthermore re. Big Fidel...

If we acknowledge that Old Bobby Lee and The Annotated Murdoch represent the high water mark of the obscured box technique (with my boy Lloyd 2 following closely behind), I would present the above painting, Close, But Not Quite, as something. What? Maybe an inspirational note?

I look at this painting and I feel a bit like Bob Dylan. Mr. Jones, on the other hand, wishes he was someone just a little bit more funky.

Mr. Jones Lyrics

The point being: I wish I could paint another painting like the above re-interpretation of a Chuck Close self-portrait. But that's spilled milk, isn't it? Besides, who's to say? Suffice to note that I am holding CBNQ closely in my mind as I paint Big Fidel.

It is worth noting that CBNQ, while not an obscured box painting, is the immediate precursor of the thinking that led to the technique. I mean, you can see the grid, yes? But more than that, you should understand that the grid was created by laying a cardboard square with a one-foot-square hole in it on the face of the canvas, then painting the exposed "box"--if you are getting me here--and then moving on. If you look at squares 8 and 9, you can also see something else at work: the thinking being that I could pour a light surface coat of one color on, say, square 8, then (although it didn't happen in this actual order) pour a slightly different background on square 9, then take the paint I used on 9 and drip it over the surface of 8. Likewise, the background color on 8 became what I drip on 9; all with the assumption that somehow the two squares would move closer and closer to each other chromatically. This strategy might work in the current state of obscured box painting, but would require much more advanced planning than I am constitutionally capable of.
I suppose you might note that the use of the word constitutionally refers not to the guiding document of this great nation of ours but, rather, your personal constitution, i.e. the way you are built, constitutionally. So to speak.
And finally, back to CBNQ, you can also see how the rims of his glasses are also all screwed up--a classic OBT visual outcome.

Closing note:

Picasso once said something like "I've worked all my life to learn how to paint like a child."
Me? I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now. So I guess there's some hope.

And furthermore re. The Counting Crows...

I'm not a big fan, but I am awfully fond of Mr. Jones.


For you completists, I redacted the Andrews/Burton musical number from the post titled: "October 30, 1974."

Big Fidel--Day One

I'm actually feeling pretty good about Big Fidel half way through Day One (which should take about one-and-a-half or two days, chrono). One thing that has me fired up is that the painting is physically bigger. It's fun to thrash around on a 6x5 canvas, as opposed to those dinky 5x4 jobs.

Also the thought of all those greens and purples has me a bit excited.

Photos to come once day one is done. Which, as a sentence, certainly rolls off the tongue.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

maps/massle update

The reason for the lack of posting is that I've been charting about a zero on my recent maps/massle curve. This, I should say, is unrelated to any current, in-the-works painting since there isn't one.

(I frequently respond to misery with inaction. I'm Hamlet, to a degree, I suppose.)

I mean, there always IS one, but sometimes it's just revolving in the back of my mind. To wit: Big Fidel. I'm not happy with the images I have and am considering switching to The Annotated Greenberg.

This would be Hank himself:

Although the urge to go with this one:

... is palpable.

I don't quite know what to call the idea of schlepping a painting of the baseball Greenberg down to 70 Pine (AIG HQ) and inviting annotations regarding the business Greenberg.

But I am fucking warming up to it!