From early 2020 here in our house in Craftsbury Village.
The “drop zone” inside our front door, as seen from the couch.
Thanksgiving in Montgomery—cooking and hanging out in the kitchen.
Our mysterious palm-like plant that lived in our bedroom, now out in the nook for some extra light and space. Charcoal and pencil drawing.
Holiday meal prepping.
The advent calendar that my sister and nephew made, inside their house on Morey Hill Rd.
I made some new designs for the construction company I used to work for in Morrisville, VT:
This was my first time using Adobe Illustrator, and I really enjoyed getting to know the program. Pretty different from Photoshop. Thank goodness for YouTube instructional videos! Learned about paths and live paint objects and in the end I’ve got the start of a custom font. I guess I’d call it “Freelance”. It’s based on Trader Joe’s “Tijuana” lager beer packaging.
View of our Crafstbury apartment from the step up from the kitchen to the utility room. Had to block the entryway while painting, so to get by we had to shimmmy sideways and hope we didn’t bump into the palette full of paint. I started the painting with my palette knife and got a few things in and then realized that I’d put in the ceiling at the top of the picture, and the refrigerator at the right, which didn’t leave much room for the table and chairs and the living room off to the left. So I took a brush and went at it with a bit of gusto, drawing in the things I wanted, moving the whole perspective down and to the left. This little half-hour session with the brush imparted some good energy that I tried to maintain in the picture. On the second day of painting, a Sunday morning, Ailynne sat down at the table with her crossword and coffee and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to paint her in. Her figure led me to realize that I’d made the table much too small, and the wall behind it much too narrow (she looked rather like a giant, capable of picking up the entire table). So I had to enlarge the wall, the table, and move the window scene a good deal to the right. The result is that the right side of the painting is a bit heavier—there’s alot more paint on it—than the left side. The left side is, incidentally, my favorite part of the picture and I like how much light comes through.
If you’re interested in acquiring this piece, please send me an email at email@example.com
I’ve got a small selection of framed pictures here in Vermont that can be purchased. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to buy:
“From Calderwood Hill (ochre)” 2016 Craftsbury, VT, 6.5 x 5.5 inches $175
“From Calderwood Hill” 2016 Craftsbury, VT, 11×18 inches $750
“Le Marabout (after Matisse)” 2013 Sacramento, CA 12×17 inches $275
“From Overlook Road” 2016 Hardwick, VT, 8×12 inches $350
“Apricot Tree in Bloom” 2015 Paonia, CO 6.5×8.75 inches $350
“Hardwick Town” 2016 Hardwick, VT 8×12 inches $400
I want to see paintings made unselfconsciously. Paintings painted by artists who had some ideal of perfection for which they strived, and who were not considering politics or ideology. There was Michelangelo and Rembrandt, then Van Gogh and Matisse and Derain. But what then? What about now? Who is painting seriously today?
Most of what I see is flat, dark, vulgar, and vapid. It has no content in and of itself: it requires the accompanying essay for appreciation. It explores politics in some vague and abstract manner. It touches on soundbyte themes like feminism or culture or man’s destruction of nature, but does nothing for these causes besides allusions: what does referencing feminism do for feminism? And what does a painting referencing feminism do for me on my wall, besides give me a script for the 30-second conversation I can have with my houseguest who wants to admire my new piece of art? Of what use are these pictures?
Great paintings have intrinsic value. They are magic. They hang on a wall and in exchange for your attention they provide spiritual manna: they feed your soul. Looking at a great painting is a positive, enriching, and worthwhile experience. Your mind can take a rest from interpretation. You look at a great painting for the same reason you smell a flower: you are drawn to it, it captivates you, offers itself to you and unfolds over time.
While some still paint flowers, landscapes, and figures, this is no longer considered valid as true art, and as such very few true artists can be found here. There are hobbyists happily depicting pretty flowers and sunsets, selling their paintings for $250, satisfying themselves when they get that nice little bit of yellow in the center of the flower, or the blue shadow of the tree or a particularly juicy stroke of paint, and especially when they apply their signature in the bottom corner. These pictures are equally shallow as the conceptual or political nonsense mentioned above: you and your houseguest can have a 30-second conversation about flowers or birds or San Francisco. You will never really look at this picture, because after the first glance it is dead: it has offered up all that it has, and from now on is nothing more than an object on your wall. There is no magic.
The artist today, if she pursues education, will be taught to deconstruct all ideas of art, to follow the endless downward spirals of her panicked mind, searching for something new, something dark and twisted and convoluted, and will only be allowed to stop and be patted on the back when she has created something thoroughly confusing or completely empty. Only then will she be allowed to teach at the college level.
Alternately, he may decide to forgo education and instead paint what he likes to paint. Unfortunately, he will be forced to get a job and in a few years will stop painting entirely, or he will be forced to make something marketable and become a whore to the whims of a tasteless society that will only respect the paintings they cannot understand and cannot afford, and will only purchase paintings of their backyard or their pet or a rooster, because they collect rooster things.
The painter with good intentions, who is not interested in expressing political views through art, finds no one to push her towards greatness. Nobody will tell her honestly what they think about her work. The critics and professors won’t even look at her paintings, and everybody else will say “great job” and “good for you” no matter how good or bad her work. She will paint the same thing for thirty years, in the same style, and die having done nothing for art, nothing for her patrons, and nothing for her own huge and infinite soul.
The serious painter walks a lonely road. He is mocked by great museums hung with complete nonsense auctioned at absurd prices, or patronized by cramped gift shops that will hang his paintings on over-full and poorly-lit walls behind cases of jewelry and glass figurines.
This morning, in search of painting, I do a web search for “painting blog”, and get as the top result the blog of New American Painting, and accompanied by a painting of a strange green landscape, the following “review” (please feel free to skip ahead):
There is constant irregular conflict behind the eyes—flash! electronic fusillades jumping viciously into the breach! burning, burning chemical warfare! psychological warfare, of the most personal and literal kind!—whether the brutal bedfellows Mercury and Mars, tussling for dominance and fucking to fuck you, or the constant recce and rendering benign of the dangerous and volatile thoughts accrued from the moment one awakes and slips into Society, or the punching of mirrors, or the delicate handling of nitroglycerin emotions, or the silencing of vicious tongues, or the bolstering of saintly patience, or the valiantly held redoubt, behind which happiness flies beautifully, vulnerably, the tattered and torn through—victim of a thousand missiles, from a thousand enemies, from a thousand directions—standard which, if all goes to plan (hah!) serves as both signal and spur … but few battles of the brain are more foundational, and therefore more potentially devastating, than the Soviet Spy style, low and slow, inevitable conflict between reminiscence and reality, the fungibility of memory a rose-colored radiation, seeping into every sulci, every incident, a terribly malleable foundation—Memory!—for us to build ourselves upon, leaving us all Houses on the Sand
So perhaps I must write more about painting on my own blog. I can post images of my work and talk about my process. I can post images of paintings I love and talk about why I love them. If you have an artist or a painting that you would like to discuss, please contact me at email@example.com. I cannot promise any amount or frequency of content, only honesty and dedication to the magic of great painting.
I’ll leave you with a wonderful painting by Andre Derain:
Here’s the first painting I’ve made here in Cochabamba: the view from one of the windows in my studio here at Sustainable Bolivia.
Below are step-by-step images of the painting in progress:
I’ve got a small painting on display at Bistro 33 in Sacramento.
I made this painting one day in October at McKinley Park in East Sacramento. The painting has been sold, but will remain on display through December 21st, 2015.
Here’s a picture of it framed:
The small painting “Main Alley (windy day)” will be on display in Paonia, Colorado at Wisehart Springs Inn this Saturday during the 2nd annual Elsewhere Studios Masquerade Ball. Along with a number of other paintings by local Paonia artists, “Main Alley” will be auctioned off to support the North Fork Community-Supported Art Library.
This painting is on Rives BFK printmaking paper and measures 6.5×11 inches. Here are some pictures of it all framed up in recycled redwood:
Sadly, I won’t be attending the ball this year, but I’m glad that my painting will!