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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

My Paintings, For Bonnie -- 1

"I am Living and You are Dead"

A product of 1996, a year in which I finished an unusual number of paintings. It is based on an idea suggested to me by R. Howard in the early 1960's, from a seene that he saw but regretted not photographing, in Dupont Circle in D.C.

The models for the people on the park bench were Joan D., a well-known artist in Amherst (Va.), who has since moved to Florida, and John Brown, a well-known neighborhood sage who lived right up the road. He is now deceased, and meanwhile Ms D., after having first been highly pleased at posing, later expressed her displeasure for being in the painting, on grounds, I think religious, that failed to register on me. It's amazing how much the face really looks like her. It is probably the best likeness I've ever caught of anybody. The background figures in gray are all from newspaper and magazine clippings of the day.

This painting measures 4 by 5 feet and is oil on masonite. It is in my workshop.

"The Sentinel Observed: After Four Dutch Masters"

This painting was done in 1993. It won the Best-in-Show prize at the annual exhibition of paintings by local artists at the Lynchburg Art Center in Lynchburg, Va., in 1995. Before I knew that I would win anything I put an $800 price tag on it, as I was obliged to do, and then was overjoyed when no one bought it. Everyone who sees it is especially struck by the satin dress, which seems to be in metallic paint, though it was done with straight, ordinary colors, and it is actually a great study in the uses of grays.

This painting is one of four that I've done in my "Dutch Copy" series. One of the time-honored methods of learning to paint is copying from old masters, and in this painting I used elements from three paintings and one drawing from my favorite period of painting, the Dutch of the middle 1600's. The main feature, the dress, is from a smaller painting by Ter Borsch, while the painting with the dozing guard and the wide awake dog is a copy of "The Sentinel," by C. Fabritius. The easel comes from a painting by J. Vermeer, and the distant cityscape in the upper background is from a drawing by someone named Doomer. I put in the beer cans to bring things up into the 20th Century.

This painting measures 48" by 39" and is oil on masonite and is also hanging in my workshop. Although inexplicably not shown here, it sports an especially attractive frame made by M. Campbell, with inlaid light and dark woods meant to suggest the checkerboard patterns of Dutch floors of that period.


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