B

(This is from a new series “Songs About Women”)

First Song: B

Did glitch art

As university student she sat at feet of a professor who was for her, one part jesus, one part father figure. He was infallible in all things which upped her worth by acolyte association.

She mentioned a tome, one of the dead Roman’s that I am into, which he had turned her onto.

I had just finished writing an essay on translations. This was the worst translation, full of errors. Politely pointing this out caused discord in her established narrative.

A picture I found while pruning my papers of no longer necessary accumulation. the drawing from it to serve as a tombstone.

 

9×12 Quick Sketch

 

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Falstaff ‘Riffing

It was magical in that the rain held out every day, aside from minor flare ups, until I was home for the night. I would lay in bed and see the lights of other people’s home’s flicker through the sheets of heavy Parisian rain. The steady rhythmic sound as it hit the zinc tiles made music unnecessary.

I was reading Harold Bloom’s “Falstaff Give Me Life”. A meditation upon the character & literature. Some of his pronouncements (in general) are controversial but he always walks the reader through his thought process. Unlike a lot of essayists of later generations, he does not insist he is correct because it is how he feels but instead presents evidence cited to back up opinion.

Of course personal taste enters into it too. I confess some works of which he is passionate about do nothing for me. The mark of a great thinker and essayist, I am still interested to read what he has to say.

For me, Shakespeare is not the same end-all-be-all. I prefer my Greeks & Romans. It did prompt me to revisit the bard and also the Verdi Opera. (In the book he mentions the opera, making a specific point of  “that Falstaff not being the one written about”.

I got more enjoyment from revisting the bard. I already owned the opera, bought originally solely because Bryn Terfel was in title role. I delved into it again and found I enjoyed it much more than at the time of my original purchase, now listening to it at least once a week.

Falstaff, just under the surface of his merriment can be glimpsed a bent to self sabotage or a fatal purity, to not play the game of politics & ambition but rather stay true to himself via  appetite. Appetite that is not always to be satiated but the attempt to do so being the best way to honor & live life.

It all makes for some great base material of art in any medium. Here are some quick sketches, riffing upon the theme.

 

 

 

M.Tom

I am working on an essay for my next collection which touches about the mid to late 70’s which was sort of classic age of vinyl culturally.

As I worked and had music playing I decided to do something different (for me).

This is 11×14

Sordid details following

 

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Seattle

Smaller works of art might be of ideal size for where it is going to be placed. There is resistance to this though, as on a subconscious level (at least),  some people equate “more” of something with it being better.

It is faulty logic, unless a work’s size is an intentional component, bigger to near on point of domination of a space, is not better. Bang for your buck should never be a cultural consideration.

In the age of consumerism, a sort of forced perception resulting from faulty logic.  Just as physically bigger books with higher page count are automatically deemed harder reads (most of the densest books I have read all have had relatively average page counts, it is ideas and style that create density) it is letting the wrong factors inform opinion.

More and more I lean towards smaller works. They lend themselves to lessening the “I am looking at art” sensation while furthering the “I am feeling something/something from this”.

It could be a generational thing, I am wary of deflated attention spans and lapsed concentration of gallery goers. People having become used to necks bent in worship of i phones or tablet will do a cursory look at larger piece, eyes flitting across the canvas to capture “the point” of it at cost of all the other things going on which contribute to a work’s tension & release.  Smaller works, there is no dead space all the poetry and flavor is enmeshed with “the point”.

I do vary the sizes of my works but with the largest being 11×14, no one will ever call any of them big.

Seattle 5.5×8.5

 

Seattle

Lion Alone

I was safely ensconced in my hotel room and ready to work. There was heavy marble topped table on wheels atop of whose curved feet I put my own while painting.

In between, i would walk up the hill for drinks and let strangers make confessions to me as i swirled the cubes in my glass counter clockwise with my left hand.

No one here would call to see when i would be out and about which then delayed the process. Instead I would see on the peripheral, people who surprisingly quickly, had learned where I liked to haunt, waiting.

My first stop would always be the record store. Everyone was always telling me that they were willing to accompany me. While it might have been nice to have company on the way, I had a process. I had learned with Tania that it was not enjoyable for anyone but myself. The record store was too hot, to my surprise after having walked back and forth between several bins, upon leaving I had spent way longer inside than I had realized.

I showed up to the cafes and bars with my brown paper wrapped purchases, ready to build an empty glass cityscape upon the tabletop with whomever had been waiting for me.

I am not anti drama, but I think organic things and beauty have more power. A pleasure for me is the ability to take some thing from my daily existence and then conjure it into my work.

It is not necessary and also has the potential to become a trap if an artist uses their personal lexicon of totems and symbols for every piece. But once in a while, the organics of it make for art which resonates emotion. Not necessarily as upfront dramatic as an artificially induced thing, it is of a more lasting impression to the viewer.

 

Lion Alone watercolor & paper 5.5×8.5

 

 

Lion Alone

 

 

Urges

Some of the greatest painters considered drawing not a preparatory work for painting but rather complete works unto themselves. I get as much pleasure drawing as I do putting brush to canvas and deeply share this point of view.

People talk of the “lizard” part of the brain. This might exist on deep subconscious level but i think closer to the surface of modern man is a simian. Few now are gracious in defeat or frustration of not getting what they want. I myself am constantly throwing bananas at my more primal self to keep him compliant as I make my way through society.

 

Urges 9×12 Graphite & Paper

 

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Audrey’s Birthday

Audrey wanted to do something different for her birthday which was one of those momentous numbers, more so for women than men. The thought of drunkenly lurching about town with some of her girlfriends all festooned with cheap feather boas while being too loud held not appeal for her.

She asked if I would paint her and then afterwards would be a party.

I agreed readily enough as there was something of an awkward swan or perhaps giraffe about her which I thought would make for a compelling piece.

There was no preconceived notion of  how I wanted to put her,  organic body language was of the most importance to me.

“How do you want me?”

I told her to just get in any position that was comfortable. While I worked fast, she still needed to be able to maintain the pose.

I began to study the way her shirt draped on her shoulders, the bunching of material at her wrists.

She settled by the window but there was too much light coming from behind her. Moving to the couch she stopped a moment inhaling then exhaling deeply as would a diver before a fall.

One of the buttons to her shirt went missing with a sound that reminded me of candy as it hit the floor. Now nude, Audrey took a Cleopatra pose on the couch.

To my surprise she was calm during the session. It was only afterwards, at the party she seemed to become a little giddy as she told people what she had done.

None of us want to talk about the weather. I understand the etiquette need for small talk. For someone who has just done something; come back from a trip, bought a house or dog, executed a painting, it is more fatiguing as the same comments and questions are presented over and over.

I did participate until I had encountered one example of everything there was to say on the matter of being an artist & the painting I had just done of Audrey.

I found a quiet corner to sit and nurse my drink. Audrey’s friends were all polite so that she could put out the good stuff and the crowd would show some restraint, allowing it to last the whole night as opposed to merely an hour as some other crowds would have done.

An old man sat across from me. He had on a short sleeve powder blue shirt in whose pocket i saw poking out an eyeglass case and the rounded end of a cigar. We gave each other the casual nod of our chins.

When I was younger and asked about my work or art in general there was an over earnest need to try to make people understand. Now I realize that , when it comes up in the casual conversation, at best it is on account of a mild curiosity. No one wants to to sit through a soliloquy on painting at some social function.

I had expended all my painterly small talk.  A woman holding a martini glass at a perilous angle wandered over to our spot. She asked the old man:

“What is it that you do?”

“I…am what you call a tinkerer.”

A friend called to her from across the room and she flitted away.

“I was going to say that.”

He pulled out his cigar.

“Do you mind?”

“Not at all.”

As he lit up with three deep puffs his eyes twinkled.

“I know I am not supposed to be smoking in here but no one ever yells at an old man. An old man and midgets can get away with anything, taking the last slice of pie, over staying our welcome, anything. Because no one wants to reprimand us. One would think it would be similar for children but if a child annoys, you can let go at them and then make yourself feel better by telling yourself that it’s a teaching moment.”

The scent of his cigar was good. I thought of my grandfather’s study while imagining that Berlin now was very different.

 

“Audrey’s Birthday” 9×12 watercolor & mix media paper

“Sy” 9×12 graphite & paper

 

 

 

 

Trumpets

I am near on obsessive in exploring properties of different equipment & materials I use for my art. This is one way of avoiding repeating myself or having the process, which in itself brings me great joy, from becoming mechanical.

There is the preferred equipment & materials I use but i constantly break things up. I utilize paper & pencils of drastically different quality over the course of my weekly woodshedding. The challenge of working with not so great paper or pencils makes it so that when i use my ideal it is easier. It also allows me to work under any conditions and to even improvise at a moment (in a bar, cafe or party) when I had no intention of doing so to good results.

The most important aspect for me in not being rigidly locked down in how i create is that I want a recognizable voice but to never slip merely into mannerism(s).

With my painting, for every piece i switch off the size and style of paper. It keeps me engaged in the work and far from mannerisms.

With Miles, he sounded great regardless of which of his trumpets he used. However, he did have certain trumpets he would use for specific pieces.  Of course he could have used any trumpet for any song and sounded great but he felt that although his voice was ever present when playing, each trumpet had its own properties which it injected into the overall feel of the song.

So it is for me with the paper I use for painting. Different paper has inherent properties which add a component to the work. My voice is always there but effected to a certain degree by the medium.

Even with knowing this, I do not change my method of which paper I use. There is specific rotation regardless of which I feel is best for portraying flesh etc. This too is a nice challenge and discipline which I find invaluable.

 

 

“Hommage John Lurie” 9×12 Canson Multi Media Papper 98LB

“Foot Brace” 7×10 French Cotton Paper

Jam session

Anytime one sees Paris on television or in the movies, as a character passes by a window or stops in front of one to gaze out and ponder some plot point, the Eiffel tower can be seen.

More often than not, this is not geographically accurate for where the action is taking place.

That aside, not a bad view to be sure. But I think there are more inspiring views which would have less ambient noise of tourists etc which can distract from living one’s life (working) in the city of lights.

Year after year I live in the same place, same arrondissement, in Paris. It is  a working neighborhood, meaning no tourists.

However, every other door which is not a residance seems to be a bar or boulangerie.

I am ten minute walk from places to sketch like the Luxembourg gardens.

I have, after all these years become a part of my neighborhood.

When I am elsewhere in the world, I dream of being back. I have decades long relationship with my wine merchant, butcher, greengrocer and baker.

There is established level of comfortability that I know I can sit in a bar sketching on the sly and not be perceived akin to one of those people with their laptops “writing” to be found in every Starbucks stateside.

It kept raining off and on…steady rain would be all right people would click clack down the wet cobblestone streets holding a newspaper or their jacket, cape like, over their heads.

Sporadic rain, it got humid. Clothes got wet, then you find yourself cold, followed by a type of sticky as body heat working over time dries away the rain.

Stop-start of the skies festivities,  people are just staying wherever they are at.

I am in one of the little intimate bars which despite my now having a studio, serves as an unofficial office.

There is a tall brown haired girl sitting alone at the bar. She wears a still wet dress whose true color is slowly being revealed as it dries.

I am at my usual table, stealing pieces of her with my pencil.

A guitarist is in the corner playing.

At first he is playing for her…his fingers conjure up abstractions which encapsulates something that could make one happy to be blue.

She is forgotten, now he plays for himself.

Her change on the counter, the cymbal fall, the end of a song.

He sees me, I nod.

I hold two fingers up to the bartender. He has never cared about busy versus dead nights so long as he sees the familiar faces of regulars over the course of the week.

We Klink our glasses.

I see him look at my sketchpad. Without hesitation I hand it to him to inspect.

He had originally wanted to be a poet using language and words as to convey the emotions which are now brought forth via his fingers. Words to make people feel.

I had wanted to, in my youth be a musician .

We had both found our way, just not in the manner originally envisioned.

Paris May ’18

 

Quick sketch

 

 

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