Saturday, January 31, 2009

A couple of updates...

First, "Waitress #5 (Reclining)" in her finished state:

I'm quite pleased. That said, let me quote from an early email from me to the Waitress herself:
I will give you one of them, but I get to choose which one you get (and there can be no bitching and moaning about my choice) and you may not get it (because it may not be done) for several months.
Later in the same message, I reiterated, for clarity:
Just to be clear--If I paint three paintings of you and one is unbelievably good and the other two are nice but not fabulous, you are going to end up with one of the nice but not fabulous ones.
So now here's my problem. I'm thinking about giving this one to her--because I am fond of her--but there is a part of me that is liking it so much that I'm thinking maybe to give her another.

That said, I can't really give her "Waitress #5 (Torso)" ...

because, were it you, wouldn't you want your face in the painting, as opposed to, say, your breasts? So that doesn't seem sporting, does it? Yet I'm not sure if I want to do a third. I mean, I've got John Thain I'm already working on...

... which, when finished, is to be called "The Enumerated Thain." This is a great freakin' photo, isn't it?

Inscribed will be a series of similarly constructed annotations. The first, for example, will read "Six wall sconces... $2,700." The list, which you can see below, will go on from there.
1) $2,700 for six wall sconces. 2) $5,000 for a mirror in his private dining room. 3) $11,000 for fabric for a "Roman Shade.” 4) $13,000 for a chandelier in the private dining room. 5) $15,000 for a sofa. 6) $16,000 for a "custom coffee table.” 7) $18,000 for a “George IV Desk.” 8) $25,000 for a "mahogany pedestal table.” 9) $28,000 for four pairs of curtains. 10) $35,000 for something called a "commode on legs.” 11) $37,000 for six chairs in his private dining room. 12) $68,000 for a "19th Century Credenza" in his office. 13) $87,000 for a pair of guest chairs. 14) $87,000 for an area rug in Thain's conference room. 15) $44,000 for another area rug. 16) $800,000 to hire celebrity designer Michael Smith to pull it all together.
And, as close readers can likely predict, the urge to close with something like ...
Doing your mea culpa on television and having people believe that January, 2007 really was "a different time" ... Priceless!
... is almost irresistible to a wag such as myself.

On a self-flagatory note, can you believe I didn't have the presence of mind to shoot the goddam thing once I got the tape off? What the fuck?

Anyway, the list continues. I just shot an exotic dancer (codename: Armagedon) and the hand shakes at the thought of painting Armagedon in all her glory.

This is all you'll see of that particular project. The mind reels with the sheer number of inappropriate puns.

And, of course, there's Vic Pandit:

We're holding him in abeyance, waiting for CitiGroup to simply blow the hell up. I figure if I can finish "The Annotated Citi" (above, almost done) and "The Annotated Fed 2" (a portrait of Tim Geithner, not even started), it'll be all I can do to wait until the weather's above 50. At which point I'm gonna march through Wall Street like Sherman's march through Buckhead (and the rest, presumably, of Georgia).

As for me, right now, as if this were Facebook, I am in a zen-like state, preparing for the Super Bowl. For you completists, I'm listening to "The Only Living Boy in New York" and, as I type, I have the Knicks/Indy game on pause (Knicks up by ten at the start of the 4th). The only reason I'm listening to Simon and Garfunkel (hey--as if I need a reason) is because earlier this evening, with red wine (and sausage and peppers plus brocolli from Pollio's), I watched the recap of the US Figure Skating Championship and Alissa Czisny, if that's even close to how you spell it, took her congratulatory skate to the soulful notes of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and I just got the bug.

This is Ms. Czisny:

Can you even imagine? My vertical leap on skates, even back when I had one, had to be six inches, max. And I would have left the whole skating thing at that, but whenever I see an image on the web that says "Not for publication" I immediately publish it. Thus:

For the record, I can't imagine doing this either.

Actually, push comes to shove, I have a great deal to say about recent skating events but I want to watch the Knicks game. Besides, I thought we were talking about Waitress #5, weren't we? This is how her left eye (image right) turned out.

The arch above her eye and below her brow used to be darker. Plus I like how it seems to go with the tones of the mouth. After that, though, I started to feel like I was on a slippery slope and I just stopped screwing around.

For you completists, I'm now listening to "Graceland," from which I offer the following opening line:
The Mississippi Delta was shining like a National guitar.
Wow. If I could paint like that...

Friday, January 30, 2009


Honestly, could things be more fucked up? I have quite a bit of visual information to share, but I dropped my "transfer" camera (don't ask) and the big camera is stuck at the studio. The whole thing's a nightmare. Then I find out that my friend Earl and my namesake Geoffrey are going to the Super Bowl and instead of being man enough to rejoice in good fortune, I'm jealous. Or envious--whichever suggests a smallness of spirit.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beckmann, Caravaggio and Me, as listed aphabetically

Here is the next installment in the drama known as "Waitress #5 (Reclining)."

Before we get to the pics, however, this would be a good time to introduce the fact that there is a growing school of critical art thinking that lumps Caravaggio, Max Beckmann and me together as the three finest proponents of black in the history of painting.

Modesty prevents me from commenting, but the argument does put into perspective the following sequence. This is the canvas re-taped after the 7th Inning Stretch and with the next set of boxes executed:

Followed, moving quickly now, by this--the final set of boxes executed:

Which brings us, inexorably, to this:

Honestly, who would have thought?

Given that whole black thing we were talking about earlier, I might have made the area under the neck a little darker, but this is where we stand as of this moment, tape off, miscellaneous tweeks having been implemented, feeling pretty good.

Interesting. Reminds me a little of Liz Taylor in National Velvet (a little young, I might add, for taking her shirt off, but really, I'm talking about the blues and purples near her eyes)

This might also be instructional...

I can't decide whether it's done or not. You can't mess too much with these obscured box paintings, as my previous painting of Waitress #5 has taught us. Still, I might do a little of this and a little of that. Certainly the right eye could be rethought. Likewise the right side of the mouth.

Or I might just leave well enough alone (other than to slap about five coats of varnish on the thing, which is my new way of conducting my affairs, at least when it comes to small paintings). I think I like it.

What I have done, I should tell you, is take the damned thing home with me. It's sitting on my dresser and I'm sitting in my chair, sipping a bit of red wine, staring at it. Or at least I will be, once I stop typing.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

W#5(R) continuing

Here, to recap, is where I think we left off with "Waitress #5 (Reclining)" ...

This is me peeling my grid of blue tape off the surface of the picture.

This is roughly how it turned out.

It is now obvious to me that I need to just retape the thing from scratch (not a particularly big deal at this size--12"x 24"--but implicatory, if that's even a word, of bad things coming for larger works).

This, however, is fun to look at:

And here it is, taped shut, if you will:

To paraphrase Vito Corleone: "Look how they messed with my tape..."

There is a rough mathematics at work here; the notion of two inch squares masked by tape that is two inches wide. But, because the assholes at 3M have decided to save some money with what they call "2" tape", they've actually begun constructing it with a 1.87" width. So you can see some of the paint from the original squares peeking out from behind the slightly-too-thin tape. Crikeys.

Anyway--press ahead. Keep the nose to the grindstone. Remain calm. Here we are with the second set of squares painted in:

And here, voila, is the 7th Inning Stretch. That is to say, what half the painting looks like.

I sometimes think it might be a giggle to just leave it like this. Implicatory, if you will.

I leave now to watch whatever movie that is with the James Bond guy who leads a Jewish resistance movement in Russia, maybe.

Friday, January 23, 2009


This is the nine hundred twenty-second post in the history of The Year of Magical Painting. My prediction? I will hit 1000 on March 1st. Exactly. And won't that be a moment, dear friends?


Herewith the continuation of "Waitress #5 (Reclining)" -- if that's even what we're calling it -- for your viewing enjoyment:

Can you see it coming together?

I'm at an exciting moment with this painting because the first set of boxes is now complete. Stepping back for a moment, I'm not sure if it is clear, but W#5(R) is an obscured box painting--one whose boxes are exactly the width of the blue tape I've used to create the grid. This means no newspaper. Today, with the help of a friend, I'm gonna peel the entire tape grid off the surface of the painting and move the entire thing (intact, if God truly exists) up two inches. This will then obscure everything I've painted so far and open up a new set of untouched boxes to be addressed prior to having dinner with my daughter. The question of whether the tape will withstand this process is certainly near the top of my list of questions for today; likely falling just below "What does it all mean?" and above "I wonder if Pollio's has any egg salad today?"

Here's a close-up of the thing lying on the studio floor.

Reclining, if you will.

While JPMorgan considers this information to be reliable, we cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness...

This graphic via Dealbreaker, via Bloomberg, via JPMorgan. What it reminded me most of, when I first saw it, was the graphs I used to look at back in the days when I wasn't a doctor but I played one on TV--the slides they would show in the back rooms of the American College of Cardiology that showed the degree to which atherosclerosis had clogged certain blood vessels.

The prognosis? HSBC, JPMorgan and Santander each might survive with angioplasty, a stent and extensive dietary/lifestyle modification. The rest of them? Yow, it's a bad time to be a bank.

Regarding The Year of Magical Painting, Season Three, while Geoffrey Raymond considers this information to be reliable, he cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration Footage

This is the first of, I'm sure, several Inauguration posts. One photo. Just a taste. Shot as I turned around at the top of the escalator steps (turned off for crowd control) coming out of the L'Enfant Plaza Station and tried to capture the magnitude of the crowd below me. It took us about an hour from when we stepped off the train itself and when we got to the top of the stairs.

In a perfect world, I'd have brought a 35- or 28-mm lens with me, but for convenience sake all I had was a 55-200 zoom. The crowds were unbelievable.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Go Blue!!!

Pretty strong rendition of the National Anthem, coming off a vocal chord injury, by ex-Giants cornerback Phillippi Sparks' daughter. Go Blue.

Steven Tyler, by the way, continues to hold the distinction of being the all-time most obnoxious. I think it was at the Indy 500.

The work in progress...

The hardest part of my job
is convincing my wife that staring
out the window is part of it.
--James Thurber

Because much of my work only happens in the temporal lobe, if you catch my drift, I sometimes find that I have said something or spoken about something in a tone or tense that indicates it has actually happened when, in fact, it hasn't. Ideas for paintings that sit around long enough actually begin to be paintings, at least in the head. I should quickly add that this is a good thing, not a bad thing, at least as far as the miracle that is "The Year of Magical Painting, Season Three" is concerned.

Case in point, the pornographic image that was initially supposed to be the jumping off point for my Nipple Series:

That's a woman named Georgia Jones (a famous porn star) on the left and a man named Dick Cheney (a famous porn star) on the right. The grid of gibbets are supposed to be baby bottle nipples.

Anyway, all that said, I thought I'd show you a couple of moments during the process by which I transferred "Waitress #5 (torso)" from this...

To this...

This is me folding the canvas along the new edge, in preparation for the knife. Image-right, already partially stretched over new wood, is the top part of the image, the part that's going to stay. The left side of the image is what's going to be cut off. You can see that I've had to white out a portion of the image so the final product will be white on all four sides.

This is half way through the cutting. Lord have mercy.

Ahhhh, victory!

... or at least what passes for victory in these parts.

Quick additional note about how richer the reds look on the painting as I hold it in my hand compared to the shot several images above: I don't usually do it (because acrylic varnish [not really what they call it, but you get the idea] costs a shitload and my paintings are pretty big), but the image I'm holding in my hand has about five coats of varnish on it. Something about that gloss surface makes the colors pop quite a bit.

Or it could just be the light.

Anyway, the game is afoot and we proceed apace. Whatever that means.

Here is a quick shot of "Waitress #5 (reclining)" as an early work in progress. For modesty sake, I've masked her breasts with a slab of newspaper.

It is now 3 o'clock and I'm going to turn on the Eagles/Cardinals game. Go Birds.

This will make you smile

Click here for words of wisdom from Tyler Durden.

I wish more people were thinking this way. It seems sound to me. Screw Damien Hirst, by the way.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A rare political post...

I'm on my way to Washington to greet President Obama. This, in retrospect, is worth considering:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ahhh, Victory...

Or at least what passes for victory in these parts.

I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but the solution to all the things that bothered me about my first Waitress #5 painting is to simply fold the offending two rows of boxes under and re-stretch the now significantly smaller canvas. Leaving (although this was created by the computer) us (you and I, dear reader) with this:

"Waitress #5 (torso."

Me? I'm feeling pretty fucking good. Ahhh, victory--I can't wait to tell my buddies at dinner tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cadillac One

Look how ugly the new Presidential limo is:

I mean, I understand there's a lot of stuff going on here that the average car doesn't have. But it still looks a bit clunky to me. Should have gone with a Lincoln.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The world is a funny place ... volume 2

Honestly, I am having the loveliest morning. Here's what I'm doing:

I'm sitting in a railway station; got a ticket for my destination. Unhuh.
That's not right.
What's not right?
That you're sitting in a railway station. That's a line from a Simon and Garfunkel song.
Well I can assure you it is. The next thing you'll be saying is that you're on a tour of one-night stands.
Okay. But isn't that what painting is, really? A tour of one-night stands?
Okay, fine. Here's what I'm doing. I'm sitting at my computer reading a draft of a thesis produced by a college student (she has asked for confidentiality, knowing full well my proclivity for republishing stuff people say or send to me). The topic is my Richard Fuld painting. And the coolest part, other than the obviously cool parts, is hunting down interesting citations that appear in the footnotes. Stuff that I had no idea existed. Witness this excerpt from Pambazuka News (a weekly forum for social justice in Africa):

“It is over” - a succinct way of informing the death of a dogma, the greed-driven neoliberal capitalism. On September 15, 2008, that is how one of stockbrokers in Wall Street described the fall of the Lehman Brothers. The fall of the Lehman was a visible signifier of the Tsunami that hit the base of a turbulent sea called the Wall street - the world of high pitched financial trade and investment. It was the story of a disaster foretold. The dogma is dead now under the debris of the famed investment banks. There is no more consensus in Washington. Karl Marx must be laughing in his grave, says John Samuel.
“It is over”, a succinct way of informing the death of a dogma, the greed, driven neoliberal capitalism. On September 15, 2008, that is how one of stockbrokers in Wall Street described the fall of the Lehman Brothers. The fall of the Lehman was a visible signifier of the Tsunami that hit the base of a turbulent sea called the Wall street , the world of high pitched financial trade and investment. It was the story of a disaster foretold.

That morning a painter called Geoffrey Raynold landed up in Manhattan and unveiled a large canvass painting, The Annotated Fuld , showing Richard Fuld , the beaten Chairman and CEO of the Lehman Brothers with sunken eyes. The painter invited the Lehman employees and others to scrawl their message on the canvass , someone scribbled, “This sucks”. The next day the painting was sold for a 100,000 dollars.
First, I love that the red line around the intro graph stayed put when I cut and pasted it. Second, I love just reading the very last sentence. Although incorrect by a factor of ten (the painting sold for a million--eat that, haters!), it feels like good karma.

There is also one extraordinarily pleasing line from the paper itself that I'd like to share with you, but I need to get permission to do so. I will tell you this: it contains the phrase "epideictic discourse."

Remain calm.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The anger, the anger...Volume 2

Behold "Waitress #5 (torso)" ...

Anger isn't the right word for how I feel about this painting. But it's one of those steps you go through on your way to the acceptance of dying.

They are: denial, anger, depression, negotiation and acceptance. This, I believe, though granted pop cultural significance from the scene from the movie within the movie titled "All That Jazz," actually comes from a scholarly paper by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

Because isn't every bad painting a little bit of dying? On my part, at least? The winnowing of Geoff? The life-force as a zero-sum equation? Whatever the hell that means.

Me? I've thought about the relationship between the Kubler-Ross thesis and a bad painting--more particularly an obscured box painting--and where it goes off the tracks is with the negotiation. Because, unlike regular paintings, OBs are immune to negotiation. That is to say, more or less, once you peel off the paper, you can't really fix them. They just are what they are. So despite my best efforts, the lower left corner is simply that: the lower left corner. I've messed with the hand enough and am now done.

And I'm past anger. I'm just depressed. And the good news is that, since we've ruled out the negotiation phase, soon enough I'll just accept the thing for what it is.

"Waitress #5 (torso)." Nothing more and nothing less.

Tomorrow I begin "Waitress #5 (reclined)."

The anger, the anger

Did I tell you the name of my vampire movie is "The Horror, The Horror?" And that it's not a movie?

Anyway, I took this shot walking either East or North (you can never really tell what the hell is going on in Brooklyn) on Third Avenue in Gowanus. The bridge it appears I'm crossing spans some portion of the Gowanus Canal--once one of the vilest most polluted bodies of water in the city and now something not so bad as that but still not approaching, say, a Jones Beach level of pristeen-ness.

Anyway, the graffitti on the building reminds me of the graffitti on my paintings. So here it is.

The anger, the anger.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hey Joe ... ad infinitum

I thought I'd put several iterations in a row. You may have seen the earlier ones. You almost certainly won't want to see the newer ones.

Top to bottom, old to new. I don't even know if I have the last ones in the right sequence. It's all just such a nightmare.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Artist with Self-Portrait

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Revisiting The Annunciation of Joseph ... Volume 2

Just for the record, check out these two paintings of Mary. Each presumably depicts her face after receiving notification from Gabriel of what was afoot:

Both by a guy named Antonello da Messina, painted in Italy around 1450-1475. If nothing else, this should indicate to you that I'm not the first painter with some interest in depicting these events.

Anyway, both of them surely remind us (you and me, dear reader) of that famous Rolling Stones song "Girl with the Faraway Eyes," which begins, as I am sure you know, like this:
I was driving home early Sunday morning through Bakersfield, listening to gospel music on the colored radio station. And the preacher said, you know you always have the Lord by your side. And I was so pleased to be informed of this that I ran twenty red lights in his honor. Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord
I mean, you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried. The circularity of it, I mean. The synchronicity of it. Plus, if the Stones can cover this stuff off, then surely why not me?

Now take a look at the faraway look in my boy Joseph's eyes:

Not such a great image (I just zoomed in and cropped it), but the take-away is that everybody is looking someplace else. Someplace faraway.

I think if I can get this right--and I haven't really tried yet--the rest of the painting will end up just fine.

Revisiting The Annunciation of Joseph

Otherwise known as "Hey Joe..."

It's been so long since I've talked about this painting that I'm not really sure where to start. Adding to the general confusion is the fact that, really, the whole thing is a disaster.

The only part I do like is the right side of the canvas with the yellow layer put down. Certainly the yellow comes at you like that kid on the Ravens: Ray Lewis. I mean, it's a jolt.

I'm going to step out of real-time and go back into the archives to see if I can find an actual example of what it used to look like. Remain calm. Talk among yourselves. If it's too much, drink a glass of water slowly.

Shit. I can't find an earlier photo of this painting. I did, however, find this:

Which, really, explains it all.

51 weeks ago I posted an entry titled "My man Gussie", which, in addition to all the requisite jokes about Gussie Fink-Nottle, spent a lot of time talking about the relationship between Hey Joe and the above--Klimt's famous "The Kiss." At least that's what I think it's called.

Also worth noting is this, culled from Moma's vast vault of Klimts:

I"m just throwing it in for you completists. It's a beauty, though, isn't it?

Before I started throwing paint on it a couple of days ago, "Hey Joe..." wasted (I'm thinking) a lot of energy on its lower half, defining his chest, his arm, the drape of his garment, the body of Gabriel (I'm assuming it's Gabriel. He was the one who visited Mary, so why not kill two birds with one stone?), etc. The net net was a lot of visual clutter.

This is what he looks like, presumably.

The Archangel Gabriel, that is. This is a 12th Century painting of the guy on a plank of wood. You can see it if you find yourself in Moscow.

Anyway, let's not get mired in too much detail. The point of the story is to suggest that the bottom half of the painting is still the place where all the problems lie. And maybe the answer is to make it more like the first Klimt. That is to say, just make everything other than the two faces and the Angel's hands completely abstract.

The whole idea of Klimt's coolest stuff is the notion that these realistic bits of body keep popping out of what otherwise might just seem like weirdly decorated abstract panels.

The long and the short of it? The next time you see "Hey Joe," everything below the Angel's forearm is going to look pretty much like what's happening at the top of the Angel's head. Except darker, to generate a sense of upward motion.

And then we'll be okay. Whew--who knew these religious paintings would be so tough? I'm never gonna get to the Vatican.

Huge relief, by the way.