Monday, March 30, 2009

Stinky Still Life Finished

Chocolote Milk, 22"x14", oil on linen, 2009

I have been working on a still life response to the Coffee and Cigar painting I did a few months ago. It is the 'right side' of a father and son diptych set of paintings. I will have the same frame on each of them, and think they work well as pair.

I try to take a lot of process shots of my paintings, and I kept up with this one fairly well. I will try to post a series of shots throughout the execution of the painting describing the process a bit.

Here they are side by side.

It is an interesting mix of time periods, with a new carton of milk, and old retro can of Nestle, a new Snickers bar, and an old comic book of mine from the 70's. The Toys were also mine from childhood. Someone had questioned the mixed of products from different eras. After I got finished giving them a serious beating, I explained that it is all about design and the anachronisms are hopefully what the painting is about. I tried some other retro stuff, but I decided that then new plastic carton looked the best. I mean, if Rembrandt was allowed to put contemporary armor on soldiers in religious paintings of Christ rather than Roman garb, I can have a contemporary Snickers bar (I have heard that the armor Rembrandt used was not exactly contemporary, but from the previous generation. I suppose the current armor was in use, and he got the armor for the painting from the local Thrift store).

Now, why was it stinky? Obviously, because there is milk in the painting. The painting did take a while to complete- it has been up since the middle of January, so I went through a few cartons of milk to finish it. I used a carton of skim milk and a carton of chocolate milk from IGA. The chocolate was not mixed from the can, as it was an old empty can I found in the building of my old studio in Northside- I am guessing it's from the 60's. It was a bit rusty, and I had to use another similarly shaped can to fake the shine of chrome in the last few sessions. I thought I would be able to buy one at the store, but everything is in plastic these days.

Just for your interest, here is a photo of the chocolate milk on the last day (this is the 4th glass I had poured for the painting, the other 3 got similarly funky). This is a lesson in making sure that this sort of work is done in the cooler months of the year. Not a good painting to try in the summer. Though, I suppose the milk could go in the fridge each night if I had too.

This got me thinking, what would chocolate cheese taste like?

As will most pictures on this blog, you can click on it to see it enlarged.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Surrealism- ideas below the waist

You know how when someone comes up to you and says, "I had the craziest dream last night!" you usually are in for a boring disappointment. Well, there is a show at the museum that really hammered that point home for me. Other folks dreams are just not that interesting, unless they happened to come up to you and say, "I had the craziest dream last night where I brutally murdered you." Then maybe you want to take notice.

I have never been a big fan of any 'isms' past Impressionism, but I decided to go see the Surrealism show at the museum with my good friend Carl Samson.
The show did not disappoint, in my continued disappointment with Surrealism.
If 12 year old boys were asked to make art about their dreams, you get Surrealism, and apparently you also get lots of boobies.
The show was a lot of self indulgent, juvenile, and over sexed art that was mostly of pretty poor quality. No real drawing or painting craft was present- Dali was the best craftsman of that period, but these were not shinning examples.
Some of it was clever or amusing. Some of the work had nice color arrangements. It may be enjoyable if you like collage or stuff screwed to other stuff, but it was mostly forgettable. Well, I remember the boobies- and there were a lot of them. Often they were in unusual places- like on a ladies elbow. One sculpture was just a pile of them.
There was also a video playing of a close up of a woman's naked butt walking. Really heady stuff. Poetry really.
There was a group of high school boys that really seemed to appreciate the subtle messages in the naked woman's butt. I was proud to see that these kids are getting an education in the arts that will help build character and appreciation, resulting in an enlightened memory that will last until they sit down at the computer and type some sex related search into google "surrealism, woman's butt". I don't recommend you take the kids.

One of the better pieces was the Magritte of the floating rock castle over the surf. I thought it would really look brilliant in poster form hung on a college dorm wall. Standing before it, I hearkened back to my art school days, with the smell of incense, the sounds of Led Zepplin and inane college banter. I was a nerd who did not drink or do drugs in college, and as most of my roommates were drunk or high, I suffered through listening to conversations that were never as interesting as they believed them to be. Anyway, there were usually at least some posters of Magritte's work or the required Escher image called 'Crazy Stairs'.
I really did not drink until much later. Interestingly I started drinking just shortly after I met my wife.
I did mention to Carl that the show may have been improved if we had taken some sort of mood altering substance. All he had was a few lint covered Altoids in his pocket. While they were curiously strong, it did not effect the experience.

Blogged Down

I told myself that this year, I would do my best to post weekly on the blog, maybe more. It is a good exercise for both discussing art and in maintaining my curmudgeonly reputation. I have failed in that promise to myself and to you. Although you were not really I made that promise to you, so...... anyway, I will try to post more.
For all you that watch this blog anxiously awaiting the possibility that I will finally post my nude self portraits, that isn't happening anytime soon, but I do have a list of topics I hope to cover.

Why have I been so remiss? Well, first I have been working a lot: Painting scenery at the Cincinnati Playhouse, trying to catch up on illustration work and painting in the studio as much as possible.

The main reason, I have not had time to write in my blog is because I have mostly been spending a lot of time reading other blogs. There is some great stuff out there to read, and as it takes a lot of effort to write good stuff for this blog, especially in this economy (I had to lay off my entire staff of writers).
So what have I been reading?
One of my new favorites is the blog by James Gurney. I have no idea how this guy has so much time to post on his blog. They are all great discussions, he posts quite frequently, and it is all well thought out, well written heavy stuff. I mean, I think he writes books and illustrates them too, unless he has elves or robots or robot elves doing some of the work. Anyway, check it out.

Another blog I just found is one by my artistic uncle Stapleton Kearns, a Gammell student (Gammell is my artistic Grandfather). In addition to being a successful east coast landscape painter, he has a wonderful blog that covers a lot about the Boston School way of painting and thinking. He is also gifted with a biting wit that he uses to discuss the business of being an artist in this market. Just today he posted about the audacity of charity auctions that prey on artists on a regular basis. I will post one of my favorites here, where he answers a woman's request for smaller, more affordable paintings;

On Tue, Feb 24, 2009 at 8:57 AM, Linda Larynxslicer wrote:
How 'bout you-guys whipping up some quickies that can go for cheap as compared to your masterpieces? I read that Mary Kaye and other cheap make-up companies are thriving right now, stock going up, because (apparently) women get a boost out of using it, for but little invest. Not clear, however, that this theory might transfer to the art world.
xo xo xo Linda

The art market is different, Linda. Thanks for asking for the quickie though. People often imagine that art is expensive because of the enormous hubris of the artists or our lack of understanding of how the business model actually works, They are vile crustaceans. Here's why.
Lets say I make a painting to sell for $500.00 The dealer earns his half, ( and deserves it too, retail is a lot of work and overhead ) that leaves me with $250.00 A frame will cost me 50.00 I really can't get a frame for that, but lets just suppose....Now I am down to $200.00. If I then back out of that, a very reasonable charge for canvas, paint, stretchers, driving to location ( often distant) and some marketing, accounting, shipping and incidental expenses, let's call all of that
$ 25.00 , (again in the real world it costs more)......Now I have $175. Now lets assume that Mr Obama (oh most merciful! ) and that cheery band of tax cheating thugs in congress , were to take, say $25.00 for some stimulants, I am left with $150.00. That's assuming I am in the 10% bracket. Which I am not, because my goddamn social security tax alone is 15%, by it Ponzi scheming self.
How many 150 dollar paydays must I then receive to earn 100 thousand dollars a year? With my mortgage, health insurance, kids in college, debt, medical bills and secret heroin habit that's what it takes for me to live in the sparkling wonderland of the greater Boston area.
Assuming that every single painting I do works out and then sells without exception the number of paintings I must sell at $500 a piece is 666 per year, that is, no kidding the actual number ( and oddly enough the number of satanic completion as well ) . That works out to about two a day if I take Sunday mornings off to get down on my knees and thank God for those hundreds of sweating, Mary Kay opaque gypsum foundation plastered housewives buying $500.00 paintings like there's no tomorrow, in the heart of a recession, rather than a Tom Kinkaid bathtub strainer at K-mart. Fat chance, Screw em!

PS. Thanx for asking though , this will make a swell post for my new blog on art, I will expunge any reference to you of course and place the question into the mouth of a happy little cartoon lobster with a droll Jamaican accent dancing to a churning yet harmless and lighthearted calypso beat.........................Stape

Monday, March 16, 2009

Take some art classes

I am offering what I can best and humbly describ as the most traditional and information filled classes available in the tristate area. I would also describe the classes as sexy, but that one is really up for discussion.

The first class is a still life class. Students will be able to work on a painting throughout the class and have a fairly satisfactory piece of work at the end.

Oil Painting Still Life with Me [Thursdays, March 19 - May 21 from 6:30pm to9:30pm]: A beginning painting course where the students will not only begin with the very basics of painting but will begin to learn how to see and study nature.The Student's own work is the forum for inculcating this knowledge through verbal instruction, demonstrations and hands-on critiques. There will also be plenty of suggested reading. I am offering two classes this spring.
Please contact me for a full supply list.
Cost of the class is $250, ($50 deposit will hold your spot) ; supplies are the student’s responsibility. Limited to 11 students. Located in at the Women Art Club and Cultural Art Center, 6980 Cambridge Ave. in Mariemont, Ohio,
More info @ 513-479-3322,, &

Plein- Air Landscape Painting Class [Saturdays, April 18-June 6, 10 am-1 pm]
Experience the pleasure of painting, of self-expression, and of seeing the world in a new way as you meet at various locations and scenic parks around Cincinnati to learn to sketch and to paint with oils. Drawing on the ideas of impressionism, you will practice the techniques needed to complete painted sketches, including basic composition, value, pattern, color spotting, and covering the canvas. Then, building on those skills, you will complete a larger fully realized landscape painting that will capture the impression of light and color of the Cincinnati landscape. In case of rain, we will arrange to meet indoors or in parks with overhead cover. Details and directions to the various locations will be given in class. No experience necessary.
Sat., 10 am-1 pm; April 18-June 6; 8 wks; $175 (no discounts); supplies are the student’s responsibility.
A list will be sent with your enrollment confirmation or see; #3715-01
Location: First class meets at artist’s studio in Eden Park; then at various parks thereafter

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Website In the Works

My website is horribly outdated. My current web person (me) has not updated it in 3 years. I have done a few paintings since then, and they are generally much better representation of what I am capable of.
I have needed one for a while. My wife's insistence that I make a new one has gotten to the point of her threatening me with divorce if I do not update it immediately.
She has this annoying need to treat what I do like a business. I would rather just wait for a government bailout.
So, to keep myself from being kicked to the curb and having to live under a bridge, I spent the day working on the layout of the site and have come up with some ideas.
Let me know what you think.

The new site will be constructed by Linda Crank. I completely expect the working process to not be very painful for me, but feel that this will result in her filing some sort of grievance with a lawyer by the time this is all done. Thanks for your patience Linda.