Teacher, Sorry I Painted On The Desk. I Want To Be A Ditch Digger

2014. Acrylic on antique scholar’s desk. Running out of paints again, but Dan is in Denver. I suspect Santa will drop some coal black and pyrrole red tubes in my stocking…

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Here is the result of a week spent suffering canvas and paint box depletion. Sitting, stretching and bending all over the floor has made me more limber than normal. The desk was a miscellaneous tool box cobwebbing in the basement. After some color it became a testament to my education and a brief eulogy to the poet Lou Reed.

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As explained in a previous post, earlier this week my friend Dan dropped off some paint and a couple canvases to my surprise and wonder. Then, he came back the next day with more paint and canvases. He also rolled up several Arts sections of the New York Times so Rose and I could be entertained with human good news over our morning coffee. I am a ditch digger of wealth and taste.

There was an article about Milton Glaser collaborating with the writer of the TV show Madmen. In it the reporter referenced the door of Glaser’s company bearing the words, “Art is Work” on the transom glass.

Yes! That is what this famous graphic artist is worth to me. Passing on a truism that I will take to the grave. Art is work. One, two, perhaps a cliff drop in salary grade from ditch digger. However, even with all the maneuvering to paint in awkward positions, I will never wake with a slipped disk and a painful drive to the next work site. So in matters of health and possible longevity, I save big time by being a painter. I work. I just don’t work for a living… Yet. Rose is making an investment in my education. She is putting me through life art school. She works. I cook the rice and beans. We eat together. She grabs my hand and admonishes me for the dirt under my fingernails. The paint dirt!

And what do I have to show for it?

A small house filled up with much more than a repeated yarn or two expressed at the shuffleboard court about that awesome French drain I dug back in the summer of ’98.

“I have been in love with painting ever since I became conscious of it at the age of six. I drew some pictures I thought fairly good when I was fifty, but really nothing I did before the age of seventy was of any value at all. At seventy-three I have at last caught every aspect of nature–birds, fish, animals, insects, trees, grasses, all. When I am eighty I shall have developed still further and I will really master the secrets of art at ninety. When I reach a hundred my work will be truly sublime and my final goal will be attained around the age of one hundred and ten, when every line and dot I draw will be imbued with life.
—Hokusai Katsushika (an art crazy old man)

More desk. The tribute to Lou Reed part.

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Coney Island Baby




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