Van gogh

Matisse Was Right In Matters of Joy and Toasting Success

Matisselandscape

I need to explain the genesis of this painting. It began in my mind long before brush touched board—actually, at dusk the day before I got up from bed on a harried-to-be morning with my plein air materials set at the door ready to go. I would teach myself to paint in the light of day. A month or two, whatever it took of daily jaunts out into nature to record what I sat down to see—my eyes, arm and left hand making interpretive copy of what was already right there in front of me. I walked down to the lake like an intense van Gogh, but unlike him in so many ways as to render me the most simpleton fool tool to the greatest of painting’s idiots. I set up on the rocks and commenced painting the view. I wish I had a picture snapped behind me. What was coming out on the canvas looked very similar to this photo taken last year.

1797445_10203922619696600_625443218895350823_n

I was set up outside on a beautiful spring day intent on painting my wish to keep the rain at bay. There is an expression from days gone by that if you can throw a cat through the clouds, then it will not rain. Meaning that somebody’s great great aunt heard that if a cat can fit inside a patch of blue sky, then she would not have to carry her umbrella to the corn fair.

My attempt in the photo didn’t last much longer. Seconds after the picture was taken I brushed over the board in heavy grays and black. I didn’t feel good about painting what I saw. So I finished the day enjoying the outdoors with my family and friends, and went home thinking of weather folklore. The next day in the studio I set up the largest canvas available and for the next week, commenced painting with my thoughts and only what the canvas beheld in front of me. Here is the result:

Don't Worry I Can Throw A Cat Through The Clouds

“Don’t Worry, I Can Throw a Cat Through the Clouds” 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 73 x 50″

I had no luck in the wild, but was thoroughly satisfied abiding by my own genius.

This post’s title painting was the forth and final attempt to paint a scene I saw on Monday morning. While there, painting the view, I had three unremarkable failures. I could have titled them: Straining, Impotence, and Self-doubt. For the rest of the day I felt awful, a great sham, a delusion unto myself, and a guilty criminal to loved ones who believe in me. What a heavy load. I scribbled the board in grays and blacks, and laid off painting for a day in order to follow through with promised summer chores, thinking often about my failure. And then at some point yesterday afternoon, Matisse popped into my head. Rather, words once uttered by him. I paraphrase: “I don’t paint what I see as much as what is in my mind.” Then a mantra silently repeated over and over again while making dinner, visiting with the family, and finally settling down on a hot night.

Up in the morning, down to the studio. I could not paint fast enough the scene of a couple days ago. Plein air just doesn’t work out for me. Maybe nature is what it is and only some form of torture can come to those who attempt imitation. I would rather paint the cat with a red halo being thrown out to the clouds, than struggle with strokes that make me feel like I’m having a stroke. So finally I can say after many years time, in matters of plein air painting, I know what I do not know, and that is a milestone joy worth toasting a glass to. Here’s to you Mr. Matisse!

Throop Painting! Hasn’t Stopped. Yet.

02.09.01dads_bananas

Written in 2001:

An Open Letter to Friend and Family…

I surrender. I must go on record. I begin my true career today. My spirit down-sized itself into a fickle, indecisive, pot-bellied embarrassment. Now I am stuck in internal revolution. When I am through and all the manias on the inside are hung on the outside, then I will have erased doubt, denial, melancholia, fear… What or whom do I have to fear? All the animals laugh at human melodrama. I swear everything human that is not connected to love is melodrama and useless.
Look here friends, family, all strangers alive today, and those living tomorrow… I am through playing the sad game. I want to live the life I was born to live. I cannot wait for security in order to practice happiness. I do not wish to pursue happiness. It’s here! At my writing table. The same table I set my meals on. The table from where I teach. The table in the kitchen of my home.
As downright stupid and confused that I was at twenty, at least I had the foresight to know I would be ready to write “professionally” by my thirty-fifth birthday. Thereafter, I would keep no job that would steer me away from my true desire. I’ve done horse and mule work to keep the artist in me alive. I purposely hacked at all financial opportunity because I could never imagine any other life for me besides that of the poor artist.
For the time being, (and I pray that I can summon the courage to make it forever) my indentured servitude is over. Now at thirty-four years of age desire is shooting out of every pore at a screaming boil. Freedom! Poverty! Yes! For the rest of my life I would like that my government mark me out as one of the impoverished. Frankly I believe that its mark of poverty is a king’s income for a sane man.
Because I am a father and a husband, I realize that I will never join that degraded class of poor which turns out the brilliance of Hamsuns, van Goghs, and Dostievskys. I want to do my part providing the necessaries for my family. Therefore I foresee many more degrading jobs popping up in the future. I write this letter hoping that someday I can be employed by you or someone you know. I am a fantastic cook. I can create all sorts of delicious goodies for the gourmet. I am also quite handy around the house. Home repair. I prefer electrical work to fine carpentry. In fact I am pretty good at anything which can be finally hidden behind a professional job. I can paint the inside and outside of homes. Not too well, but much cheaper than you’d pay someone else to do it just as poorly.
What I really want is to sell my paintings. While the writing is in progress I plan to paint for relaxation as well as keep the creative juices flowing. I use acrylics and gouache. I’m good enough. That is to say, I am a living artist, and whatever I do today should be of some interest to posterity. I will charge twenty-five dollars plus shipping and handling for each finished work. I will take commissions. Presently I am painting a goldfish in a busy underwater scene. When it is finished I will have spent approximately eight hours working on it. You can see what a measly hourly wage this will make. A little over three dollars an hour. Yet it’s such a sweeter life than sweeping a stranger’s floors to get my butter.
There are those who think my business will fail miserably. I am positive that it will! But not trying is wrong living, and who wants to be to be guilty of that!?
“The primary thing is this, that whatever money is given me constitutes a mortgage on the future, my future as a writer. Making water colors is so much play for me; it gives me a release. In other words, it keeps me happy, enthusiastic and alive, and to be happy, enthusiastic and alive is a prerequisite for the artist.”—Henry Miller
The point is I won’t go another year suffering for illusions which others may have of me. (A path I have foolishly followed for most of my adult life.) I am not a sole provider. I am a father, a friend, an honest, loving, incredibly cheerful, desperately creative and funny man. I want coffee in the morning, hot, delicious food for dinner, rent paid, and time. You can help me achieve my first three objectives by offering to purchase one of my books or paintings. Time is up to me. I could make the most of it with your financial, or at the very least, moral support.
One more quote before singing off… It should set the droning, one hundred page tone of bitterness for the remainder of this book. Erica Jong wrote the following about Miller, but it works too for all of us lazeabout, good-for-nothing, artsy-fartsy types:
“The New York that Henry left in March of 1930 was nowhere as fraught as the New York of today, but it still bore certain similarities. In New York it was a dishonor to be an unknown writer; in Paris one could write écrivain on one’s passport and hold one’s head high. In Paris it was assumed (it still is today) that an author had to have time, leisure, talk, solitude, stimulation. In New York it was, and still is, assumed that unless you fill up your time with appointments, you are a bum.”
So be it. But I must warn you that I did not set the stage for this play, although I share the guilt of every actor playing in it. Help if you can, or decide to breeze alone through this one safe life never to support a fallen man unless he’s prepared to give you back some proof of financial success. Invest in paper clips but never individual men. The return is slight compared to the trillions already in degradation circulation. My hand holds a blank sheet of worthless paper. Sometimes I write words on it. Sometimes I fill it with colors of joy and light. It’s not plastic or perishable. It won’t make much money. But it shouldn’t make me broke either. It’s time now to make an exchange to benefit humankind. Neither of us will get much out of it, but one of us will get some money to buy food.

Matisse Was Right In Matters of Joy and Toasting Success

Matisselandscape

2015. Acrylic on Masonite®, 16 x 12″

I need to explain the genesis of this painting. It began in my mind long before brush touched board—actually, at dusk the day before I got up from bed on a harried-to-be morning with my plein air materials set at the door ready to go. I would teach myself to paint in the light of day. A month or two, whatever it took of daily jaunts out into nature to record what I sat down to see—my eyes, arm and left hand making interpretive copy of what was already right there in front of me. I walked down to the lake like an intense van Gogh, but unlike him in so many ways as to render me the most simpleton fool tool to the greatest of painting’s idiots. I set up on the rocks and commenced painting the view. I wish I had a picture snapped behind me. What was coming out on the canvas looked very similar to this photo taken last year.

1797445_10203922619696600_625443218895350823_n

I was set up outside on a beautiful spring day intent on painting my wish to keep the rain at bay. There is an expression from days gone by that if you can throw a cat through the clouds, then it will not rain. Meaning that somebody’s great great aunt heard that if a cat can fit inside a patch of blue sky, then she would not have to carry her umbrella to the corn fair.

My attempt in the photo didn’t last much longer. Seconds after the picture was taken I brushed over the board in heavy grays and black. I didn’t feel good about painting what I saw. So I finished the day enjoying the outdoors with my family and friends, and went home thinking of weather folklore. The next day in the studio I set up the largest canvas available and for the next week, commenced painting with my thoughts and only what the canvas beheld in front of me. Here is the result:

Don't Worry I Can Throw A Cat Through The Clouds

“Don’t Worry, I Can Throw a Cat Through the Clouds” 2014, 72 x 50″

I had no luck in the wild, but was thoroughly satisfied abiding by my own genius.

This post’s title painting was the forth and final attempt to paint a scene I saw on Monday morning. While there, painting the view, I had three unremarkable failures. I could have titled them: Straining, Impotence, and Self-doubt. For the rest of the day I felt awful, a great sham, a delusion unto myself, and a guilty criminal to loved ones who believe in me. What a heavy load. I scribbled the board in grays and blacks, and laid off painting for a day in order to follow through with promised summer chores, thinking often about my failure. And then at some point yesterday afternoon, Matisse popped into my head. Rather, words once uttered by him. I paraphrase: “I don’t paint what I see as much as what is in my mind.” Then a mantra silently repeated over and over again while making dinner, visiting with the family, and finally settling down on a hot night.

Up in the morning, down to the studio. I could not paint fast enough the scene of a couple days ago. Plein air just doesn’t work out for me. Maybe nature is what it is and only some form of torture can come to those who attempt imitation. I would rather paint the cat with a red halo being thrown out to the clouds, than struggle with strokes that make me feel like I’m having a stroke. So finally I can say after many years time, in matters of plein air painting, I know what I do not know, and that is a milestone joy worth toasting a glass to. Here’s to you Mr. Matisse!

I Want To Paint in a City That Needs Artists and Clowns

CityTumblr

2015. Acrylic on canvas, 38 x 18″

I’ll know I have painted my own perfection the morning I can tell my wife, as we sip coffee in the window chair, that I have achieved the magic breeze, and sent the latest piece back to from where it came. The day I approach a blank canvas with the same confidence a journeyman plumber tightens a sink drain will be fine, yes, and may come in my lifetime. The magic breeze I am talking about visited the modern masters. Van gogh, Picasso, Philp Guston even… I am confident I could define it, if it ever came. Rembrandt? Velasquez? No magic breeze for them, nor anyone who painted for the pleasures of royalty or aspirations to universal perfection. They painted everyday with the constipation of desiring super-humanity, as if almost to declare another species unto themselves, while pleasing their commission, their patron merchant or king. Compared to today, try making a painting that would please the likes of a George W. Bush. One would have to sleep on a bed of used hot dogs for a month, bathe in chimichanga sauce, moan low over a toilet bowl, to finally produce a LeRoy Neiman horse-being-gelded masterpiece.

The modern masters felt the freedom enter their toes and flow through their bodies and out their eyeballs like spirit magic. I know it because I “feel” what needs to happen, but a guillotine slams the toe tunnel shut every time. And I paint with an increasing tightening in my forearms. The evening I finish a piece, raise a glass of blackberry wine to it, take it from the easel, hug it to my chest, run to the lake bluff to finally frisbee it off back to god… then I know I will have achieved the satori of modern masterhood.  Where will I be? When will it happen? I sure as hell won’t be on the Internet to yarn about it. Probably postmortem, as the wife frisbees my ashes off the lake bluff to Canada.