Saturday, December 01, 2012

Reality Check

Long-time readers of The Year of Magical Painting will immediately identify the words "up next" as not actually meaning the thing I'm going to paint next.  So when I talk about "The Assassination of Richard Fuld by Henry Paulson" as being next up in the previous post, that just really means it's in the hopper.

When I first wrote it, I suppose you could say it was first up in terms of me sitting on the sofa, looking around my amazingly clean studio, listening to the Rolling Stones, staring at the Martoma painting and thinking about a religious triptych that might be called The Assassination of Whomever.

What's really next up is something I've talked about before, if perhaps only to myself in the shower.  If I did mention it, I probably referred to it as "Lehman Falls."  The idea being a large scale painting of a waterfall as part of my Japanese woodcut series.  Except that it won't be digital; it'll be painted.

Something like this ...

Pretty, yes?

Two things brought this to a head:  I don't remember what the first one was, but the second one was this whole business of the pasting of newspaper on top of canvas and the numerous interesting effects it generates.  The first one could have been the fact that I've had a long, thin piece of canvas stapled to the wall of the studio for about six months.  It's about two feet by seven.  So it is thin.  THIN.

Anyway, I could never quite piece together in my mind just how to do it.  Until now, that is.

Consider this:  You (meaning me) prime the entire length of canvas while it's just lying on the floor.  Un-stretched mind you--no wood has touched this canvas.  This I have done.

You pour yourself a finger of Evan Williams into one of those plastic glasses you use to mix particularly watery paint, taking care to choose one that doesn't have any paint in it.  This I have done.

Once the primer is dry, you cover the entire length of the canvas with newspaper, very much in the manner you saw with "Portrait of Mathew..."  This I have not done.

For one thing, I'm enjoying my bourbon.  Second, it's gonna be a pain in the ass the size of the Grand Canyon.  Because with no wood to stabilize the canvas, you're gonna have to slap a certain amount of a given piece of newspaper on the front of the canvas, then fold the other portion so it literally wraps around to the back of the canvas ... and then glue it to the back!

Assuming you can do this without actually gessoing yourself to the floor and dying of hunger because it's the weekend and nobody can hear you screaming, my theory (for it surely is just a theory) is that you will be left with a fairly stiff, newspaper-covered surface upon which to work.

More than a surface.  A thing!  An actual thing, with its own this's and that's.  A living, breathing whatever!

I'm getting really excited.  Let's pause for a minute and list the entire set of songs on Flowers:

Side one
  1. "Ruby Tuesday" – 3:17
  2. "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?" – 2:34
    • A September 1966 single release
  3. "Let's Spend the Night Together" – 3:36
    • A January 1967 single release also featured on the American edition of Between the Buttons
  4. "Lady Jane" – 3:08
    • Also featured on Aftermath in 1966, as well as the b-side of the U.S.-only "Mother's Little Helper" single in July 1966
  5. "Out of Time" – 3:41
    • An abridged alternate mix of the version originally released on the British edition of Aftermath in 1966
  6. "My Girl" (Smokey Robinson/Ronald White) – 2:38
    • Previously unreleased; recorded in May 1965, with strings added in fall 1966
Side two
  1. "Backstreet Girl" – 3:26
    • Originally released on the British edition of Between the Buttons
  2. "Please Go Home" – 3:17
    • Originally released on the British edition of Between the Buttons
  3. "Mother's Little Helper" – 2:46
    • Originally released on the British edition of Aftermath; first released in the U.S. as a single in July 1966
  4. "Take It or Leave It" – 2:46
    • Originally released on the British edition of Aftermath
  5. "Ride On, Baby" – 2:52
    • Previously unreleased; recorded during the 1965 sessions for Aftermath
  6. "Sittin' on a Fence" – 3:03
    • Previously unreleased; recorded during the 1965 sessions for Aftermath

Whew.  Honestly, I can't stop listening to it.

Okay.  Back to Lehman Falls...

Anyway, the scroll -- that's what you're calling it from here on in -- is stiff because of the newspaper and all that gesso (Wait til you get some paint on the goddam thing).  And it's funky because one of the long sides is not parallel to the other.  It's a trapezoid, I suppose.

Okay.  Then you mask a bit of a border on each side and a lot more on the top and bottom and you paint your waterfall.  This, I can assure you, is easier to type than it is to do.  But let's assume you are able to achieve some kind of finished image that doesn't want to make you completely vomit.

You then nail, screw, wrap, glue, and/or otherwise affix a piece of wood on the top of the scroll and on the bottom.  You then add some string and hang the thing on the wall.  Ahhhh.

You then stand back, take a sip of Evan Williams like you are some kind of 15th Century Japanese War Lord and breathe a sigh of contentment.

Life is good.  Your scroll looks something like this ...

Pretty, yes?

Except that it's a waterfall and not some calligraphy.  But check out, just for argument, how the calligraphy is actually a significantly smaller portion of the scroll than, say, the totality of the thing.  If that makes sense.  Imagine now that the waterfall painting is where the writing is and the border is just a bunch of newspaper.

God almighty!  The mind absolutely reels.

Here's the front cover of my Flowers album...

Keith and Charlie deliberately designed Brian's flower without any leaves.  At the time it was a gag.  I wonder how they felt two years or so later, circa July 4th, 1969, when they looked at it.

Spooky, no?  It's like that whole John-is-dead business.  Except Brian actually is.  So's John, for that matter, but let's keep moving forward.  And besides, it was Paul-is-dead.  And he actually isn't.

Final note:  Type "Lehman Falls" into the TYOMP search box and you'll see all sorts of stuff.  Hell, I even scratched out an image ...

As to whether it ends up being called Lehman Falls remains to be seen.  The alternative structural approach is to use proper names instead of company names.  As in Fuld Falls -- which kind of sucks.  But the idea opens itself up for a whole range of titles:  Skilling Falls, Boesky Falls, Corzine Falls, Cohen Falls (if Martoma does turn state's evidence), etc.

And really, who ever heard of something called MF Global Falls?


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