Sunday, August 31, 2008

USC 52-UVA 7 ... oy gevalt!

We're back. Me and my double chin--we're back. Back in Brooklyn. Back in action. Back in the saddle.

Shots of Big John McCain as rendered by the flinging of paint from the end of a stick will be available tomorrow.

As far as where we were? A bloodbath. We were at a bloodbath. If they replaced a regularly scheduled bullfight with this football game, the Spanish would be crying about how football should be banned. Inhuman, they'd cry. Inhumanos! ¿Qué hay de malo con los americanos?

I am referring, of course, to the 52-7 (I think that was the final score) asswhipping that USC laid on my beloved University of Virginia Cavaliers.

And the weather? Well, first I thought the USC fan in front of me was going to have a heat stroke. Then I thought I was. Daughter Meaghan left and didn't come back for half an hour (although she tells me she spent the whole time in line to buy Cokes). My guess is she was sleeping under a tree.

I'm still hot.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Patient #2

I am now leaving to attend the U.S. Open.

Before I go, here is a photo of Patient #2:

Big John

I'm not ready to share McCain images yet, but I have decided what my opening annotation on "The Annotated McCain" will be:
If you make $25,000 or more * you'd
be crazy not to vote for John McCain

(* per month)

Financial Times, Deutschland

Who knew the German Financial Times would be so interested?

Go to:

Who knows if this will get you where you need to go, but what I did was pull up the GFT article online. As you can imagine, it is published in German. I then used Google Translator to translate the website. This, if all goes well, is that.

If you can't make heads or tails out of it, you can go to here and read it as the original.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Big Barack--Day Three

This, at the end of Day Three, is "The Annotated Obama."

I think it's going well, although you have to admit, there's a hell of a lot more blue (denoting Democrats) than red (for Republicans). The theory is this: the Reds tend to stay far enough away that they don't hear my spiel when I thrust my handful of markers towards a potential annotator. Their immediate assumption is that you have to be pro-O to write on the damned thing. Which is unfortunate, but it is what it is, whatever that means.

Case in point: I asked one guy as he walked by if he wanted to annotated Big Barack. He shouted over his shoulder as he walked past, "You don't want me writing what I think on that painting." To which I responded, vigorously, "Yes I do." Except that, by that time, he had moved down the lane.

Can't wait for Big Mac...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Big Barack--Day One

This is Big Barack after a day's annotations. Double click for maximum effect.

Red is for Republicans; blue for Democrats and black is for independents and others.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I like the mouth, but the rest...

Do you know what galls me?

I'll tell you. What galls me is that I spent at least an hour in the studio today, essentially done, reading the newspaper, staring at The Annotated Obama. I mean staring at it. I mean looking at it with a jaundiced eye, whatever that means. And I liked it.

I liked it. And if I go back tomorrow, I'll still like it. Yet when I look at this particular photo... seems alarmingly off-base.

That's what galls me.

Nonetheless, I will be on Wall Street tomorrow with a painting I like, collecting annotations. And at 10:00 am, EST, it will be available on eBay. Bidding opens at five bones and closes Saturday morning.

And we'll see.

Actually, I like the mouth

Actually, I like the mouth. I'm not going to touch it. I like how gestural it is. I like, in a closely-related way, how I didn't get too fine with it; too anal; too obsessed with getting it right in all the wrong ways. Sometimes, in the quest for realism, we end up shooting ourselves in the foot. This, by the way, is true in many aspects of life; certainly true with Barack's mouth.

And I like the filigree of black lines that help define it--particularly the ones on the upper lip.

Now, if I'd cropped it a little less tightly you would see that that filigree (today's word) extends up and around the image-right side of his nose, helping to define that part of his face too. Which is good news because I believe I am going to mess with his nose, but only with the (image) left side. I'm just gonna push it down a bit.

I'm leaving the right side alone. I am, after all, not a fool. (I think I'm more of an idiot-savant. Which is a completely different kettle of fish.)

And, for you academicians, here is the same mouth from a few days ago:

Which is kind of fun. I mean, to see the difference. Or, better said, the improvement.

If you, like I, believe there has been an improvement. Hey, everybody gets a vote.


This is Barack, almost done...

There are some issues with the shape of the bottom lids of the eyes and, of course, the mouth. But the more I looked at it last night, the more I thought I might just leave it alone. Additionally, one could argue that the angle of the bottom of the nose is too close to the horizontal. It needs to rotate counterclockwise about 15 minutes (on the hour hand). Maybe twenty. We'll see.

All that said, the objective here is not photo-realism. The object of the exercise is to set into motion the depiction of an historical moment by way of the annotation process. Still, it would be nice if the painting looked like the guy.
Which it does.
Yes, to a degree.
And certainly having the words "The Annotated Obama" scrawled across the top of the thing will provide helpful guidance to those otherwise unclear as to who the subject of the painting is.
No doubt about that.
I'd leave it alone and get working on McCain.
This, by the way, is the resource photo for purposes of comparison:

It should be noted that, as is often the case, the painting looks more like Obama in person than it does here on the blog (or, rather, the painting in person looks more like the photo of the man). Can that be possible? I don't see why it is, but I often notice it.

This, by the way, is me, having crept back into the jungle, resting against what will someday be a pile of broken televisions.

Later, if my wound allows, I'm gonna go for a swim, maybe eat a snake.

This, by the way, is the resource photo for The Annotated McCain:

I like the smile on his face plus the characteristic puckish roundness of his jawline (image right) plus, of course, state-of-the-art jowls.

And how 'bout that Brett Favre?

Friday, August 22, 2008

2 Women

I'm painting two women in the relatively near future. One I know a little bit; the other not at all. Both are attractive. One wants to be painted nude; the other will go, I'm assuming, for something a bit more demure. Neither is a paid assignment; more of a busman's holiday--whatever that means. One solicited me to paint her; the other accepted an offer that I made.

Me? I am loving, by the way, these fucking semicolons.

Anyway, life does have its moments. When the individual hereafter to be known as Patient #1 (or, just for convenience, "#1"; or, if I'm feeling the full weight of the positive bond between painter and subject, "Onesy") asked me to paint her I did what I always do--sent her to this very blog. T'was she that prompted the previous post titled "I'd love to paint your portrait..." Admirably, #1 did more than her share of homework, read way too much of The Year of Magical Painting for her own good, then clicked through on "my current portfolio" and looked closely at the work.

Her favorite?

Hmmm. Interesting choice. Patient #1 is, as you might guess, the one who wants to pose nude.

"St. Joan Receives the Spirit of the Lord" is, as you long-term readers know, one of my Catholic Saints series. If, in fact, three paintings make a series. The other two are "The Ecstasy of St. Theresa" and "The Lamentations of St. Agnes." St. Joan is a biggie, by the way. Almost seven feet high; five and a half feet wide. She certainly fills a room.

Here, for the record, are Theresa and Agnes:

The idea, if it isn't obvious already, is the visual exploration of the fine line between sexual and spiritual ecstasy. And I will say that, although it's a badly flawed painting (one of my earliest attempts at representational drip painting), I did have the strong feeling that, having painted that face, I could die a happy man. I should drag that thing out of storage and hang it on a wall.

Anyway, regarding me? I love St. Joan. And art historians years from now will find much to study and reflect on with this painting. Assuming art historians will ever actually give a shit about whatever it is that is being conducted under the auspices of The Year of Magical Painting.
[Note to self--Remind me to tell you about the person who recently told me he "liked the blog, but found the tone a bit cocky."]
And of course it is all too easy to stand around and admire the stuff that's already done. Somewhat harder, one might suggest, is the doing of the thing. Which brings me back to Onsey and the challenge, in this day and age, of painting nudes. Anybody who's seen a Victoria's Secret ad (and, really, who hasn't?) knows that we are confronted with virtual, implied and, even sometimes, actual nudity all the time. I think it was cooler to paint nudes back in the old days, when it was harder to talk the girls out of their cloze.
And what about that Gucci ad?
Thank you. Exactly what I'm talking about.
You should explain it to the readers.
What? They don't know? I mean, isn't it famous?
Just tell them.
Okay. So a couple of years ago there was a Gucci ad featuring a model named Carmen Kass. It ran in W Magazine and a couple of other places. Vogue, maybe. Anyway, it featured the lower half of Ms. Kass, mostly unclothed, with a male model kneeling in front of her, pondering (and here I am only supposing) something along the lines of "Wow, how does a gay boy from Kansas move to New York City and two weeks later find himself staring at Carmen Kass' crotch?"
Get back to the story.
I mean, it's like a Lou Reed song.
Get back to the story.

Okay. So the point of the story is that in the American versions of the ad, she more or less had her underwear where one's underwear should typically be. But in the European version, she had the damned things pulled down so you could see her pubic hair. Which was, of course, sculpted in the shape of the Gucci "G" logo.
And what does that tell us?
I'm not sure.
While you are thinking about it, why don't you see if you can find the image in question.
It amazes me that if you Google "Carmen Kass+Gucci", then click "images", this image shows up as the first, third, fifth and sixth thumbnail. It is interesting to note that the American version of the ad is nowhere to be found.

So I guess it is pretty famous.

Anyway, what does it all mean? What it all means is this:

Actually I don't know what it all means. But I do sometimes get the feeling that it's all been done before. I mean, if you line up Picasso and Matisse, plus maybe a couple of out-of-the-box yahoos like my boy Jackson, you end up with the same sinking feeling. What's left for Geoff?

I mean, after that ad, what's left? What can I possibly think up to match that? What's left for Geoff?
I thought you were going to spare us the whining and self-loathing for a while.
I gave it my best shot.
Has it occurred to you that it's not a competition? That you don't have to match anything? Has it occurred to you that the simple confluence of you, a cheap camera, one light and the profound majesty of the unclothed human body might, if only by accident, yield something wonderful?
Like those monkeys writing King Lear?
Can I get an orange gel?
I think you're missing the point.
And the point is?
The point is something along the lines of: "Man up and stop whining."
Easy for you to say. You're the fucking Greek Chorus.
It's that Obama picture, isn't it.
I can't stand the mouth.
Of course you can't stand the mouth. The mouth is your weakest link. You always hate the mouth.
And then it turns out okay, right?
Sometimes, yes.
Nicw work with the Gucci ad, though.
Yeah. Who knew?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quick look at Barack

I would have spent more time painting Barack but I had to get back home and count my houses.

Obviously, it would help if this fucking blog program would hold the rotated image. But still, there it is. Try leaning the top of your head towards your left shoulder.

Or better yet, take a look at this:

The mouth is interesting. You know, the man has purple lips? I mean, in real life. On the painting, it's hard to say just what color they are. But I'm sanguine, whatever that means.

And the good news? Well, the good news is twofold: First, I'm way--I mean WAY--ahead of schedule in terms of having a workable image at this stage of the game. Second, because I am in such good shape, I'll spare you all the sturm und drang; all the whining and self-loathing that I typically impose on you when things are going badly. All the "oh my-ing" and "what the fuck am I going to do-ing" that I know you are sick of? You get none of it.
Now THAT sounds like some good news.
I told you.
But manoman, you didn't do the dude any favors with those ears.
Hey, I just report the news.
I love that line from the Eagles song about the million stars.
Remind me.
It goes: "I want to sleep with you in the desert tonight, with a million stars all around."
By the word "you," I'm assuming you don't mean me.
No. That would be against union rules.
Yes it would.
Yes it would.
Me? I got a peaceful easy feeling.
I think the Eagles take way too much shit. Sue me, but I still love 'em.
I do too.
When I was in Nam we did way more drugs than the Eagles, and we all had guns and big fucking knives.
You were in Vietnam?
Of course. The whole gang was there. Can you think of a place that needed a Greek Chorus more than that hellhole?
Quang Tri.
Quang Tri? That's what they used to yell at us at night. "Quang Tri go home."
That's not it, man. They were saying "Yankee!"
How so?
Like in "Yankee go home."
What's your opening annotation gonna be on The Annotated Barack?
I'm going with: "Richard Nixon had more experience than John Kennedy."
Man, you have drunk the Kool-Aid.
Yes I have. Totally. Plus the jell-o shots.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Me? I'm an Obama guy.

If for no other reason than it's high time we had another Irishman in the White House.

And I've decided that, despite my previous suggestions that I didn't want to make the crossover from financial guys to political guys (the term "guys" here is being used, of course, without gender specificity), it couldn't make any more sense than to paint Big Barack in time for the Democratic National Convention.

So, barring inclement weather, I will be standing in front of the NYSE with "The Annotated Obama" come Monday morning. Red pen for Republicans; blue for the Dems.

And when I'm done with that, I'll be back with Big John in time for the Republican meeting.

Is it just me?

Is it just me? Or does everybody get all verklempt when the athletes get their medals? Particularly the girls, just because I think they are better about allowing themselves to cry. And when they cry, I do.

Or at least get all clogged up in the throat and my nose starts running.

And, since I paint portraits, I am particularly fond of the super-close, screen-filling close-ups of the winners as their national anthems play. The stuff that's going on behind those eyes--manomanoman. I love this stuff.

I wonder if this means that my television and cable bill is tax deductible.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'd love to paint your portrait...

I believe, as artists go, I am deeply misunderstood. Presumably every artist in the course of human events has believed the same thing. Except that for me it surely must be true.

That said, I thought it was worth mentioning that if, as they say, in the course of human events, I ever say to you, dear selected reader, some variation of the words: "I'd love to paint your portrait," you should know that I completely mean it. With my heart and soul.

I really mean it. Because if I didn't, I wouldn't have said it. Period. I mean, I know whereof I speak in this particular category.

Truth be told, it's a big pain in the ass to paint someone. I mean, it's hard. Really hard. Really fucking hard. I mean, it's easy enough to slap something out. But slapping something out is not what we are talking about here. What we are talking about is the task, the ordeal, the Sysiphisian act of pushing your particular boulder all the way up the fraking hill, then watching it roll back down, then pushing it back up, then watching it roll back down, etc... until I get the thing right.

Let's think of it in accounting terms: If I say to you that I'd like to paint you, I have already assessed the amount of work necessary to come up with a compelling image of you (which is the debit side) versus my interest in painting your portrait, and my belief that if I pull it off, the painting has about a fifty/fifty chance of ending up in your living room or on a wall in the Museum of Modern Art (which, obviously, is the credit side of the ledger). And, having done the math (sometimes in my head, under great timeframe-based duress; sometimes after considerable contemplation), I wouldn't have said "I'd like to paint you" if I wasn't ready to actually do it.

So, dear selected reader, if I said it, I meant it. Absolutely. You must simply tell me something along the lines of "Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."

Or, more simply: "Shoot me, Milly," (if people ever used this particular diminutive for Cecil B. DeMille).

Caveat number two (if we're counting):

A lot of times, when I tell people I want to paint them, I send them to this very site. This very one. Rational thinking leads me to conclude that this is a massive mistake. A grievous error. "Big mistake," as Julia Whatsername said in that movie she was in with Richard Gere to the sales girl in that Rodeo Drive shop.

Here's the bottom line: If I have said to you that I want to paint you, your job is to immediately stop reading this blog and look over at the right column, find the URL connection that says "My Current Portfolio" and click on that. Click on that and you can look at about thirty examples of my recent work. The work speaks for itself.

Likewise, if you want to send me an email, click on "Contact me." Under no circumstances should you continue reading here.

I repeat: Do not continue reading!

Because this, my dear friends--and by "this" I mean "The Year of Magical Painting, Season Three"--is an act of madness. It is, by way of public service, a window into the mindset that has yielded such now-famous paintings as "Big Maria 1 (plane too many)" and "The Annotated Spitzer." Presumably a good thing.

It is also, for good or bad, a window into the same mind that thinks "The Nipple Initiative" is a good idea (see below, if you must). A slightly scarier proposition.

Ditto "Cheerleader with Banana (Fallen Angel)."

Ditto a bunch of other stuff.

It might as well be a bit of the journal that crazy guy wrote right before he cut off his ear.

That said, if I wasn't a little bit crazy, do you think I'd be a painter? I mean, really!

So stop complaining about whatever weird stuff you might read here (since, according to the above instructions, you shouldn't even be reading this far) and say to yourself something along the lines of: "Yes, I'd like to be painted by someone whose dealer describes as 'the most prestigious portrait painter of the century' (although less than five minutes of clear thinking clearly tells you that he is, in fact, not)" or "No. The man's obviously a fruitcake."
How about something along the lines of this? How about if you say: "The man's obviously a fruitcake, but his dealer calls him 'the most prestigious portrait painter of the century' and she, hyperbole aside, is clearly no fool?
That sounds more like it.
I thought you might like that.
I do. It's a sort of acknowlegment of the yin/yang thing. That notion of where best to find greatness than in the lap of insanity.
Nicely said.
Did you learn that in Vietnam?
Is it a kind of a zen thing?
Zen is an overused word.
Yes it is. So is Thing.
Yes it is.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My blood is boilink

There's an annotation along the left side of Jimmy Cayne's face that reads "My blood is boiling." But the way the author inscribed the G makes it look like a K, hence the title of this post.

That said, I finally picked up a copy of Fortune Magazine today and saw the photo of "The Annotated Bear." As noted above, my blood is boilink. I mean, how hard is it for a magazine with the editorial resources of Fortune to get my name right? They think my first name is Gregory. For the record, it was spelled correctly in the caption provided by Getty Images for the photo they used.

I'm not actually the least bit thin skinned when it comes to stuff like this. I mean, somebody commented on an early Dealbreaker story that I should consider painting Elvis on velvet full-time. CNN once reported that I would be exhibiting my Spitzer painting outside room 871 of the Mayflower Hotel--something their writer just grabbed off a financial blog without bothering to check. Truth be told, neither bothered me as much as this one does.

I don't want to complain. Lord knows the media does more right by me than wrong. And anyone who is covered by the media on a regular basis has to make peace pretty quickly with some combination of blazing ineptitude and the flawed results of decent people being pushed to produce a product at too a high rate of speed.

But there's an old line in the publicity business that goes something like "say what you want, but spell my name right."

So my blood is boilink.

Tropic Thunder

Those of you with a deep familiarity with this pages know that I have a profound emotional link to The New York Times. I'll spare you the details other than to say that my ex-wife once said to my friend Earl that "Geoff has turned drinking coffee and reading the Sunday Times into an art form."

I think it was the nicest thing she ever said about me.

Anyway, despite my admiration for the newspaper and the institution, sometimes you have to admit it has a bit of a stick up its ass. I refer specifically to its rather nasty review of Ben Stiller's "Tropic Thunder." It goes, in part:
What’s most notable about the film’s use of blackface is how much softer it is compared with the rather more vulgar and far less loving exploitation of what you might call Jewface. Hands down the most noxious character in “Tropic Thunder” is Les Grossman, the producer of the movie-within-a-movie, who’s played by an almost unrecognizable Tom Cruise under a thick scum of makeup and latex. Heavily and heavy-handedly coded as Jewish, the character is murderous, repellent and fascinating, a grotesque from his swollen fingers to the heavy gold dollar sign nestled on his yeti-furred chest.
C'mon, lighten up Manohla. Maybe you were the wrong person to be assigned to this one. Me? After living in New York City for more than half my life I consider myself at least partly Jewish simply as a function of osmosis. And I literally couldn't stop laughing every moment Tom Cruise was on the screen.

Which, given my antipathy for Cruise, is an odd thing to say. Oy gevalt!

"Tropic Thunder" is the best movie of the year. There--now that's a review. Hyperbolic, perhaps. But as accurate in its own way as The Times'.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Food for thought

Because I like to include you, dear reader, for good or for bad, at what one might call the point of creation, the earliest moments during which some bit of complete nonsense pops into my head, passes through my brain and then comes out as a plan (witness The Nipple Initiative), I am here to inform you that I am officially in flirtation with the Food Network about painting a portrait using food products instead of paint during the course of one of their shows.

The guy from The Guardian (I think) once referred to me as a "stunt painter." Which makes my blood fucking boil, by the way. But now, look at me. Look at what I've become. Look how they messed with my boy!

Here's an excerpt from my email to the FN producer. It is preceded in the body of the email by what might be paraphrased as "blah, blah, blah, blah."
... But I have to believe the techniques I use with acrylic house paint can be adapted, to a degree, to media like ketchup, mustard, beet juice, maybe a little pesto and a nice cabernet.

I'd like to paint Barack Obama, but am flexible.
Additional blah, blah, blah ensues, followed by:
Sincerely, Geoff Raymond
I didn't want to burden the guy with a follow-up email but others who jumped to mind after hitting the send button, subject-wise, are Martha Stewart, whom I love, and ... drum roll ... Julia Childs, whom I also love.

I mean, who wouldn't want to paint her? In freaking ketchup?

Obviously nothing is firm yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Painting tutorial from somebody who isn't me

Yo Dog. Check this out:

This is a time-lapse video of a guy "painting" a portrait of Angelina Jolie with some kind of paintbox program. A couple of things are interesting: First, you get a good sense of how a portrait actually happens, with all the to-ing and fro-ing, re-doing, etc. Second, it's an interesting look at paintbox technology--something about which I don't have a clue. And third--and this is the kicker--take a look at the three minute mark at how he slices off the image-right side of her face and then moves it just a skoonch closer. The lesson is that he reduces the physical width of her face by maybe a millimeter and then whammo!!!--it goes from not really looking like her to looking a lot like her.

A millimeter! I mean really, we portraitists are operating at NASA-level plus/minus dynamics. Whatever that means. And you think this is easy?

All that said, the end product is not fabulous. The mouth is a little obvious (one man's opinion, but hey--people throw shit at me all the time) and he never really got her right eye (image-left) exactly right. I don't think the nose is right either, but hey.

What is cool is when he colorizes it. For a long time (and maybe all the way to the end), her eyebrows are actually green. Which, in my opinion, is good clean fun and instructive on many levels. There are those, by the way, who feel that green--particularly pthalo-green over a dark background--is the new black. Somebody should alert Max Beckmann.

And finally, the most important lesson of all: When in doubt, add a hand.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And Just for the Record...

Just for the record, here is a shot of all four annotated paintings as currently hung in Andes.

If you look closely, you can see in the lower left corner, sitting on the desk, posters of the show that I was autographing and which were then sold to support a charity related to the local high school (25 bucks for a poster; $5 for a post card). Honestly, how lovely is that?

Now, in a perfect world, one has a show in a big white box someplace in the heart of Chelsea. But this is Andes and the venue is called Andes Arts & Antiques and so while the walls are ours, the center of the room continues to function as an antique store.

And, truth be told, Merna (my dealer) did a wonderful job of clearing out most of the stuff she usually has in that room and the place turned out to be a really nice space in which to look at my paintings. Even the standing lamps (which is not the way they light paintings in Chelsea) worked nicely.

And, at times, the place was packed. This is me, holding forth on the relative merits of "The Annotated Spitzer," fingers, as always, somewhat gnarled:

What's also fun about this picture is that if you look over my right shoulder (image left), you can see my self-portrait hanging along the back wall.

This is a view of the entire "Wall Street" wall, plus the buffet.

This is me trying to sell a Close painting to a guy who remains, I believe, interested. I am holding what I believe to be the remnants of a watermelon cosmopolitan. Please forgive me for this.

Also in the picture is Merna Popper, my dealer and a source of great support. Merna and I had our differences in the run-up to the show (but isn't that the way with any complicated project?), but we have emerged good buddies.

Also note the stuffed beaver in the foreground. Were I to set reasonable expectations at this point, it would be to sell three paintings and somehow get the hell out of Dodge with that beaver in the trunk of my car.

This is a bird on the side of the road, just to show you that the country is a wild and beautiful thing, no cell-phone service notwithstanding.


The reference here is not biblical. It refers instead to a question I get frequently these days--namely, the genesis of the now-famous Nipple Initiative. That question being, just to clarify, not how I decided to paint the head of a woman having an orgasm (hell, who wouldn't?), but rather, what made me decide to then festoon the thing with baby-bottle nipples.

As mentioned below, it has something to do with the little red dots on "Close, But no Cigar." But it has more to do with "Big Fucking Julian."

It too, you see, has little red dots. Less successful ones, in my opinion. But there they are ...

Can you see them? Anyway, the idea behind BFJ was to get back to the freer style of the Close painting by using the same moving template approach to developing the grid, then celebrating it with the dots (in a functional way, since the dots offer a locational clue to both the primary and secondary grids). As it turns out, I worked too far into the painting and obliterated virtually every trace of the grid. So here, I suppose, the dots are like those organs we have but don't need. Is it the spleen? Definitely the appendix.
Your life is so complicated you could definitely use an appendix.
Nicely said. For the completists, yes?
Exactly. And indices.
Anyway, I thought the dots would also help tie the artists series together by linking the Schnabel painting to the Close painting in the same way that the fingers on the face of three of the other paintings tie them together. It's a thematic thing.

'Cept I didn't really like them. The dots, that is. So I got to thinking about alternatives. And for a long time I was stuck on the idea of mattress ticking. I don't think that's even the right word, but do you remember back in the old days how some mattresses had bits of yarn coming out of the surface, more or less where there might otherwise be those little buttons?

So I was trying to figure out how to paint the thing, then celebrate the grid with a piece of thick twine which I would (I conjectured) punch through the surface of the painting with one of those hooked awls they use for needlepoint (it would have to be a fierce fucking awl to get through all that canvas and paint). The idea was that I would pull the middle of the piece of twine through, then tie a knot on the back side--so it couldn't slip back out--and then tighten the thing up, maybe put some glue on the back as well so it all stayed put, and then trim the two pieces of exposed twine so they were both about an inch long, just sticking out of the face of the painting.

Like whiskers. Which would have worked nicely with Big Julian.

Also like the twine around the edge of "Elena in the Morning," an old and much missed favorite now hanging in an apartment formerly owned by anger-challenged, now-fading-supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Man, I do like that painting. Not just because I think it's beautiful but because it assists in my narrative flow by bringing the mind back to nipples. Reaching back into history I can truthfully report that Elena was almost completely done except for the nipples. And I was having a lot of what artists call (I assume) "nipple anxiety." That is to say, if I screw these babies up the whole painting is gonna stink like week old scallops.

As it turned out, they turned out great.

Which should be an inspirational lesson. Because I am sure the moment will come, as I am about to glue the first nipple on the surface of the exquisitely rendered (on canvas) face of the exquisitely rendered (in real life, one has to assume) porn star, when I stare into the abyss and ask if it is a good idea and the answer coming back from the infinite expanse of alligators, wildebeests, lions and sawgrass, from the murky depths of the river, from the chattering pthalo-greeness of the jungle (all of which being what comprise my personal abyss) will almost certainly be no.

"No. It is a bad idea," the abyss will say.
"No?" I will ask back. "By 'no,' do you mean the Cheney thing or do you mean the whole thing?"
"The nipples," the abyss will answer. "The nipples are a bad idea."
"How about the twine? Is that a better idea?" I'll ask back. Which, really, you have to admit, is pathetic.
And the silence will be deafening.

You think this stuff is easy?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

TNI, episode 3

And this, I'm thinking, is my boy Cheney.

Suitable for painting. I like the teeth. Disregard all that Getty Images stuff on the nose. I'll get rid of that for you.

Plus an important update: Because my urge to paint "Nipple Cheney" is so high, I may just paint him second and wrap the installation around a corner like this:

That's "Pornography with Nipples" on the left, weighing in at roughly seven feet by five, and that's "Nipple Cheney" on the right, occupying the usual four feet by five.

What this does, and which the illustration so ably illustrates, is it allows the two paintings to sit next to eachother comfortably, since both their vertical dimensions (five feet) and the spacing of the nipple grid will match.

This is them going around a corner. Can you see what I'm talking about?

And, although I'm not one to pat myself on the back too aggressively, I think the graphic rendition of the nipples in the illustration is particularly strong.

To describe us as fired up is to minimize the implication of the phrase. Whatever that means.

TNI, episode 2

Just for the record, a more accurate interpretation of the resource image for "Pornography with nipples" is this:

A bit hotter in temperature. Glossier. Spangly--if that's a word.

Follow the instructions below to better understand what I am heretofore calling "The Nipple Initiative."

Okay. Picture yourself on a train in a station, with plasticine porters with looking-glass eyes.

Okay, that's just the warm-up exercise. Now picture an obviously pornographic image of a woman's face and neck, mouth open, lips red, teeth white, eyes closed, head cocked back, painted, let's say, seven feet wide by six feet high.

Something like this:

Actually not something like that, but that. That very image. At least that's the plan.

Now hark back to my painting titled "Close, But No Cigar" which I festooned with small red dots of paint, demarking, if you will, the corners of the squares that comprise the painting's primary grid.

Can you see them?

Now imagine the first painting festooned not with dots of red paint but, rather, with those amber latex nipples that you use with baby bottles.

Something like what's on top of the bottle you see here.

Now picture another painting, about the same size, of a some poor soul getting the waterboard treatment, likewise festooned (the word of the day) with nipples. Something like this, albeit with a closer approximation (perhaps flipped for symmetry) of the facial structure of the porn star:

This isn't a very good picture, but you get the idea. And finally...
Wait a minute. You're not going to tell them about your Dick Cheney idea are you?
Why not?
Because it's stupid. It's just one of those things where you have a good concept going and because you can't control yourself you end up messing it up.
I think Cheney is an integral part of the relationship between the two paintings.
How so?
Well, clumsily put, given that you've put me on the spot, the purpose of the two primary paintings is to stimulate debate on American foreign policy by juxtaposing the ideas of pornography and torture. Putting "Nipple Cheney" in between the two works because he is both obscene and demonic. Okay?
I mean, if I'm supposed to be an important painter ... well, this is what important painters do. Witness Guernica.
Okay, I give up.
No, really. Look at it. The whole idea of that electric light near the top in the middle is to represent the artist shining light on the atrocity of war. More or less.

Okay. Sorry.
I mean, my upstate dealer subtitled my show "The most distinguished portrait painter of the century."
Okay, okay. No mas. I give up.
Now, if I can get back to the narrative, picture a somewhat smaller vertical portrait of Dick Cheney planted in the middle of the previous two.

Festooned, of course, with nipples.

The primary paintings are called "Pornography with Nipples" and "Waterboarding with Nipples." The one in the middle is called "Nipple Cheney."

I wonder how quickly my taxes will get audited.
You're not that fucking important, you old gas bag.
What did you say?
No really, what did you say?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The World is a Funny Place

You're familiar with the phrase "the world is a funny place," yes? I presumed so.

Me? I shouldn't complain because, really, I get a shitload of press, given the somewhat patched-together, fly-by-night, Rube Goldberg-ish nature of the endeavor that is The Year of Magical Painting. That said, most of the time, with the exception of The Sun and The Post, God bless 'em both, I find myself featured on websites but not actually in print. Today, however, I find myself--or more accurately my name next to a photo of my painting of Jimmy Cayne--in Fortune Magazine.

Actually in the magazine. OMFG! Although I don't think you can actually buy the damned thing til this weekend or early next week, perhaps. I think Meredith Whitney is on the cover, so look for her on your local newsstand.

Me? I have inside sources. That's how I know ahead of time.

And the world is a funny place. I wish my parents weren't dead.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Geoff in the country

Apparently there is no money in the country. Everybody works on the barter system. This is me going to the video store to trade vegetables (and some edible flowers--those orange things are nasturtiums) for the first disk of the first season of Battlestar Galactica.

This, I suppose, means bad news for Big Geoff--the suggestion being that, instead of a nice ten thousand dollar check in return for a painting (or better yet, a satchel full of crisp Benjamins), I will be receiving a cow or a goat.

Which is troubling.

On several levels.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Before ... and after

Here we are before (that is to say, rolled and ready to go in the studio)

And here we are, hung. At least part of us.

Actually, despite some backing and forthing, the opening was a big success. A couple of nibbles even, which is always a good thing.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Wish me luck

I leave now, loins girded--whatever that means--for the opening of "Geoffrey Raymond--The Most Distinguished Portrait Painter of the Century"--whatever that means.

Wish me luck.

Me?  I'm sanguine--whatever that means.