Friday, March 25, 2011

And Now, The Cow

I'm painting a golden bull for someone. And, to be honest, I've been a bit flummoxed as to how to proceed. (I thought a visit to the Neue Galerie to look at some Klimt would help--and it did to a degree, but it didn't quite solve the problem. Good clean fun, though.) Not so anymore, however. Bring forth the bull. No longer flummoxed, I stand at the ready.

In the meantime, let me clarify one thing: The Myth of the Rational Market, or MythRat, is done. Finished. When, during the course of my conversation with the Greek Chorus, or Gorus, the following lines were more or less uttered:
It doesn't look like Greenspan.
It will.
This, dear friends, speaks not to the question of whether the thing is done or not. It is. But. rather, the famous interchange between Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso in which she said of his famous portrait of her, "It doesn't look like me" and he replied, "It will."

This, by the way, is my Obscured Box rendition of Portrait of Gertrude Stein:

I just put it in a fancy frame and hung it in my bedroom. The painting, in my humble opinion, is a pip. But the frame makes all the difference.

Back to MythRat, it should be noted that its companion piece, The Myth of the Rational Market (Reclining Nude), is a complete disaster and earlier today I painted the whole thing black and started over. You think this shit is easy?

Right now, to soothe myself, I'm making broccoli and cauliflower soup. Without, it should also be noted, an emersion blender. The urge to pour some cream in it is almost overpowering.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And Elizabeth Taylor is Dead...

I love this picture ...

My Portrait of Alan Greenspan

Wow. This is going to change everything!
Yes it is.
Your ex-wife is right.
How so?
The depth of your arrogance! It's ... it's ... it's ...
Sounds like something she'd say.
So you honestly think you can just call that a portrait of Alan Greenspan and everybody will just go along with it?
Sure. Why not? Besides, that's what it is.
It's a portrait of Alan Greenspan testifying before Congress on October 23, 2008. I was originally gonna call it The Day the Earth Stood Still.
It doesn't look like Greenspan.
It will.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Myth of the Rational Market

By now everybody knows that my newest painting, "The Myth of the Rational Market" will change the world. Which is a lot of responsibility, let me tell you. What if it changes the world in a bad way? Like Warhol?

Anyway, the myth I'm thinking about now is not the myth of the rational market but, rather, the myth of Ronald Reagan. Having two things to actually mail, I went to the post office earlier today and bought a sheet of stamps. When I saw that they were offering Ronald Reagan commemorative stamps, I just couldn't help myself. If you receive a letter from me with a Reagan stamp, please understand that this is an ironic gesture.

I was also alarmed to note that the Reagan stamp is what the USPS calls a "forever" stamp. Meaning that it will work for a first class envelope forever. Which hardly sounds like Reaganomics to me.

Forever? Are we stuck with the myth of Ronald Reagan forever? Lord help us.

I wonder what Picasso and Braque used to write to their buddies when they felt like they were on the brink of something fantastic?

But before we get to Cubism, who says painting isn't a contact sport?

Exactly. Boxcutter to the knuckle.
Anyway, since I have a leg up on my boys Pablo and Georges, technologically at least, in terms of announcing that I'm changing the face of painting forever, I'm here to announce that I am, as we speak, redefining portraiture for the new millennium.

I don't know what you people are doing, but that's what I'm doing up here in the Northlands.
It seems a worthy endeavor.
Thanks. Nice of you to say.

How do we know you are really redefining it? Or perhaps you're just deluded? Or worse, just fucking with us?
Only history will tell.
Can you share a picture?
No. I'm having a bit of trouble with it just now.
That sounds promising. Some tidbit of wisdom perhaps?
Sure. The name of the two pieces that I'm suggesting will change the course of art history are "The Myth of the Rational Market" and "The Myth of the Rational Market (Reclining Nude)."
Two strong titles. I particularly like those with parenthetical phrases. Speaking generally, of course.
Of course.
I could be wrong, of course. About this whole changing-the-world business. But believe me, the last person you should be listening to in matters such as these is yourself. Followed closely by everybody else.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

For you completists...

I'm listening to The Hollies cover version of "Sandy (4th of July, Asbury Park)." It's absolutely horrible, in a wonderful sort of way. But who knew? I thought The Hollies were done by '69 at the latest, and "Sandy" didn't how up til '71 maybe. Go figure.

Also, for you keeping score, here's the weekly graph of TYOMP hits.

I'm starting to get obsessed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ahhh, Krugman, Volume 2

I'm painting Are You People Insane?/The Annotated Paul before I paint The Annotated Krugman. The thinking being this: There's a limited number of 4'x5' stretched, primed canvases in the world, and an even smaller number in my studio.

That's a fact. Now consider this: There's a high probability that the experimental technique called, here, "A/B/A/B" is going to be a complete failure. Not that I'm daunted by that, but it's a fact. For those of you not familiar with the general idea behind A/B/A/B, consider this post from July 1, 1010:

Okay...let's get serious.

Let's assume, for purposes of this discussion, that people's faces are roughly symmetrical. That is to say that, when vertically bisected, each half contains a nostril, an eye, half a mouth, an ear, some hair, etc.

Now let's further assume that we are trying to embrace the spirit of Andy Warhol, at least in terms of generating multiple images.

Now let's think of a stretched, primed 4'x5' canvas lying on the floor with the charcoal sketch of, say, Rand Paul, already executed on its surface. Next to it is a second canvas of identical proportions, without the sketch. In your hand you hold a can of paint and a paint stick.
You begin painting.

Shortly after, while every bit of the paint is still wet, you stop.

Then, carefully, you (and your assistant) lay the second canvas--let's call it Canvas B atop the now-painted Canvas A, so they are aligned, face to face if you will.
You then take some kind of a roller and roll the two surfaces together, thus transferring, likely in an imperfect manner, the image from Canvas A to the surface of Canvas B.

Lord have mercy, you find yourself mumbling under your breath.

Once rolled, you separate the canvases. Lo and behold, they are, on some level, mirror images of their respective others, although the paint transfer to Canvas B is likely imperfect--perhaps 50-80% of Canvas A. Remain calm--that's fine.

You let them dry.
Then you take Canvas B and lay it on the floor. You continue the painting with a second application of paint. Once done, you repeat the directions found in paragraph 5 above. You continue til the canvases are some version of complete. You then finish each in the manner that suits you. When you are done, you have two canvases with images of Rand Paul (that putz), similar in a number of ways but tantalizingly different as well.

Lord have mercy, you find yourself mumbling under your breath.
The concern is this: What happens when you put canvas A on top of canvas B and press down. My worry is that the lines will smush out too much and become unrecognizable. Or they won't smush enough and canvas B will be illegible (which is actually a solveable problem, but still...).

So the thinking is this: Why not try it out with two beautiful canvases and see if it works. Then, if it doesn't, I can just paint Krugman over top of one of them and voila: "The Annotated Krugman (Are You People Insane?)" --which is a great title.

The Paul picture I'll be working from is this:

Which should make a nice pair of paintings.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lilah S. (Ash Wedneday)

It's fun to unroll stuff and mess with it--in lieu of painting Paul Krugman. This painting, titled either "Lilah S." or "Lilah S. (Ash Wednesday)", has kicked around my universe for a long time (as I measure it).

I finished it on Ash Wednesday of 2006 and always wanted to put the ashes on her but could never quite pull the trigger, in large part because Lilah herself resisted the notion. But I haven't talked to her in several years and besides, in the end, it's my painting, not hers.

More than the ash, however, was the desire to fix her hair. I don't know what I was thinking back then, but that hair was a disaster. I always knew it was--so that's no excuse. Now, with a keener painterly understanding of hair, I've revisited it.


Sorry about the glare--gloss paint is a pain in the ass to shoot. But check out those ashes! I wrestled with the notion of toning them way down. I mean, they really pop off her forehead. But the other side of the argument--the winning side--is that her lips really pop too, so this gives the image some balance it never had before. And in fact, in the end I even added a bit of decorative filigree to the cross itself. What can't be denied is that the whole thing is now several levels creepier than it used to be. Which is a good thing, I think.

I also fixed a little bit of her nose, redefining the tip:

What may also not be evident is that Lilah's painting is six feet high, five feet wide. And with her staring out at you like that--well, she really fills a room.

And this would be the actual girl, in the flesh. Be still my heart.

To see her in sunlight was to see Marxism die.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Is 4,136 a lot?

I'm informed by no less than the people at Google that I entertained 4,136 visitors on The Year of Magical Painting last month. Given that nothing of significance happened in the media that might have driven people here, I guess it's a pretty normal month. Wait til they get a load of The Annotated Krugman.

Anyway, I'm astonished that that many people manage to drag their ass over here and read what I have to say. Who knew I inflicted so much pain on so many?

That said, and because I'm a small, petty man, I wish it was a larger number.
I wish it were a larger number.
You think?
I do.

Ahhh, Krugman

Every once in a while an idea comes along that pushes everything to the side. A friend of mine just suggested I paint Paul Krugman and it was like a light went on. Bingo!

(Which isn't actually the sound a light makes when it goes on. But bingo just the same.)

My original plan for March (what with April being the official start of annotation season) was to craft my A/B/A/B Technique interpretation of Rand Paul titled (since there would be two, mirror images of Paul--thus the term "A/B/A/B") "Are You People Insane?" and "The Annotated Paul". The general thinking is that "Are You People Insane?" would be annotated, over and over again, with the words "Are you people insane?", a la Jack Nicholson's character in The Shining writing an entire manuscript comprised of the repetition of the sentence "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Moving on, my opening annotation on The Annotated Paul was going to read "Anybody who thinks this looks like Paul McCartney must be insane." Which makes me smile.

I was then going to paint something called "Black Man on Wall Street (American Gothic)", which is too complicated to explain in the middle of a post about Paul Krugman--who's complicated enough--but that was the plan. But suffice it to say BMOWS(AG) was going to be, in part, an homage to Glenn Ligon. Or fromage--whichever isn't the cheese.

Now, everything's Krugman. He's a good looking man.

I don't think that's Paul Krugman.
Of course it isn't. It's Tim Geithner.

Then why's it here?
Great photo of Geithner. Came across it looking for Krugman pics.

Okay. I just didn't want you to paint that thinking it was Krugman.
Do you think I'm an idiot?

You do the math.
Anyway, we're all Krugman, all the time now. Once I finish redoing this:

Painted several years ago, it's called "Lilah S. (Ash Wednesday)." I want to redo the hair and finally give her her ashes. It is, after all, Lent.

Illness passed. Life is good

At roughly six pm on Wednesday, just as I was sitting down with some friends at our favorite Indian place in the East Village, I received an email from the Boys in Brown announcing that the painting mentioned below had, in fact, been delivered.

We had, among other things, ordered one of those things called something like phumkuht, or something not even remotely like that (I'd been drinking beer for quite a while at this point, hoping to blunt the uneasiness also mentioned below, so it's hard to remember obscure Indian culinary terms). It kind of a curry thing baked in a large ceramic dish. Just before you put the thing in the oven, you drape some dough over the top and kind of pinch it down around the sides.

The result, you ask? The result is that the bread puffs up while cooking and comes to the table looking like a huge muffin. You tear open the bread and use it to scoop up the innards.
All of which brings us to the question on the table.
Yes it does.
Okay. But if you don't mind us asking--what is the question on the table? Because so far this sounds like a story about eating at an Indian restaurant.
The question on the table, albeit unasked and perhaps not even immediately self-evident, is this: How big a nightmare do you think it would be if the UPS boys actually failed in their mission and managed to send my relatively expensive painting someplace other than it's designated target? Do you think they just say sorry and write you a check for the thing? My guess is no. My guess is that it's a year's worth of hassle and lawyers and angry clients who have neither the painting nor the money ('cause let me tell you, I spend that shit as fast as I get it).
Wow, that's irresponsible of you. Don't think you should put it in escrow, or something?
No, I just spend it once I get it.
Wow, that's irresponsible of you. What happens if the painting gets lost?
That's exactly the question we are grappling with.
Like Meredith Whitney wrestling with the next big prediction?
Anyway, all that said, I'd just like to clear one thing up.
I still have the guy's money. All that stuff about spending it was just me fucking around. Being flippant for humorous effect. I could have given it back if I'd had to.
Good. That makes me feel better.
But it would have hurt quite a bit.
I can imagine.
Can you? I'm thinking of pain along the lines of what that guy felt in the first Alien movie when they're all sitting around the table and suddenly the baby alien just tears up through his chest.
Through tarmac, to the sun again?
Something like that. Anyway, that's roughly how painful it would have been to give the money back.
And then there'd still be the year of lawyers and such.
So I guess you were delighted to receive notification of delivery.
I was.
Made the phumkuht taste all the sweeter?
Yes it did.
And then the next day I went to the Neue Galerie on the 86th and 5th and stared, transfixed, at the portrait of Adele Bloch by my boy Gussy Klimt.
And that single act made the whole trip to New York one big tax deduction, didn't it?
Yes it did. Because I'm working on a painting of a golden bull and nobody, as everybody knows, does gold like my boy Gussy.
And then I went to the guitar show at the Met, then somehow got back to Troy. Where I slept til 9:15.
Life is good.
Yes it is.
Illness passed?
Yes it has.
I'm reminded of that famous line.
Which one?
The one that goes "The line between utopia and naivete is a thin one."
That's a good one.
Yes it is.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

I think I may be ill...

Sometime later today I'm going to step off the bus in New York City, wide-eyed bumpkin of the lowlands, and take a cab to the big UPS place on west 43rd (maybe). There I'm going to hand some random UPS guy a tube containing a painting, ask him to insure it for a shitload of money, sign something and then watch as my tube disappears into the maw. At which point I will be more or less nauseous until I receive word that the guy in Houston has received it.
Brief personal aside: It annoys me that Federal Express--if you even call it that anymore--won't insure packages beyond a couple of grand. I have vastly greater faith in their ability to seamlessly deliver a domestic package to a big city than the boys in Brown. Boys here is, of course, a non-gender-specific term.
To ease my uneasiness, I anticipate having a number of beers at the Peter McManus Cafe. But I doubt it will help.
Brief personal aside #2: I always whisper into the tube, just before I tape the end cap on, "Don't let anyone ever tell you you're not a great painting." Then I seal the thing shut and send my boy out into the world. Big emotional lump.

Friday, March 04, 2011

And Now a Word From Our Sponsors

As is likely evident, Ferrari is the primary sponsor of The Year of Magical Painting. And God blessum for their support. So I thought I'd offer a quick plug for their newly introduced, $400,000 four wheel drive, four seater, the FF:

You don't have to watch the whole thing, but at least check out the car sliding down a ski slope.

Lord have mercy. Be still my heart.

Oh look--there's this one too:

Interesting side profile on this car. Not the loveliest in the world, but hey, who cares? Kind of an Z-3 Coupe on steroids kind of a thing.

Word to the wise: Don't take your regular, two wheel drive Ferraris out in the snow.

Thursday, March 03, 2011


I'm sure you are as worried as I am about the hospitalization of Jackie Stewart for ticker-related problems. God bless the man.

The only actual Grand Prix I ever actually attended was at Watkins Glen in, I think, 1973. It was a thrill to see Stewart steam by with that green and red tartan stripe around his white helmet and his Elf-Tyrrell in full wail. Maybe it was a Lotus. Maybe it was an Elf-Tyrrell Lotus--memory fails me. It was the loudest thing I can remember ever hearing.

Sadly, his teammate, Francois Cevert, went off the course during practice, hit a tree and died. Stewart (not then Sir Jackie), having already accumulated enough points to win that year's Driver's Championship, elected not to run.

Stewart later became one of the truly influential voices in increasing F1 driver (and by extension, course) safety. Check out his helmet.

All of which makes me think about toddling up to the Albany/Rensselaer train station sometime this summer, grabbing the most convenient train to Montreal, and attending the Canadian Grand Prix. I think its a two or three hour ride.

I'd like to see Michael Schumacher in person once. Likewise those beautiful red Ferraris, stuffed with people like Fernando Alonzo and Felipe Massa.

I get the urge to paint one every once in a while. In the meantime, I have this commission to complete:

You may remember her :

It is gratifying that she like the first one enough to buy a second.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Neia the Wonderdog, Volume 2

This is the finished dog. If you really push in, you might be able to see my signature (GVR 3-11) on the upper right hand corner.

The commentariat weighs in

Red letter day here at TYOMP. Lloyd Blankfein (or at least somebody named Blankfein) left the following comment:
We train young men to drop synthetic CDOs on unsuspecting long-siders, but their managers won't allow them to write Rubin on their Bloomberg Terminals, because it's obscene!
Very strong, Lloyd. Thanks.
The thinking here is that it isn't actually Big Lloyd.
Same here. But still, it's a good comment.
I don't own a Bloomberg Terminal, do you?
No. And you don't own them--you lease them.
In any case, are you really not allowed to write "Rubin" on the terminal, or is that poetic license on the part of the poster?
Me neither.
Strong comment though.
Maybe it's the first annotation for Mr. O

Niea the Wonderdog

Here's a better, almost finished, version of Niea's portrait.

Interesting name for a dog--Niea. Sounds like a government agency. National Institute for the Expansion of the Arts, for example. Check out my new easel.

What's wrong with Obama?

It's an interesting question. For purposes of today's discussion we are going to avoid the whole unable-or-unwilling-to-smite-the-forces-of-evil-as-mightily-as-some-of-us-had-perhaps-hoped thing and restrict ourselves to my painting of our current sitting president.

Which, as it stands now, is this:

And the answer?

Well, just one man's opinion, but I think I've rendered his nose too long, thus pushing the whole nose-flume-mouth thing too far down the face. The solution is to white out everything from the tip of the nose down to just below his lower lip and move all the goddam stuff up about half an inch.

President Obama, you see, has a rather finicky lower half of his face. Kind of a pursed mouth and an elongated chin (kinda). Reminds me of Fred Astaire. Of whom I'm fond.

Be still my heart--I'm such a sucker for Ginger Rogers. I'm fond of the president too. But honestly, what a pain in the ass. But at least Michelle looks good:

I added a bit to her left eyebrow. Kind of a fond nod to the angry-black-woman thing which seems to be all the rage.

I do, however, very much like the look she's giving, when hung as a set, to Barack:

And this, strangely sepia toned (I'll never understand photography), is the dog. It's supposed to be white. I'll also never understand why the goddam thing is still rotated 90 degrees when I just fixed it in iPhoto.

I should get a new program but don't feel like shelling out the colossal amount required for whatever that famous one is.