Portrait of the Artist as a Young Manatee

not much to say or do

Friday, September 02, 2005

I jumped on the blog wagon in college, creating one merely for the sake of doing it. Then I realized I had nothing to say. The title of my blog was "hello, hello" and the first post had to do with blog formats. I soon came to terms with the fact that my scant musings mean very little to the world at large. After "hello, hello" the only thing I could think to write was, "goodbye, goodbye!"

You may be wondering, is this blog for me? Are you a wealthy patron looking for an artist to shower your riches on? Are you a friend of mine curious about why I always have a splotch of paint on the left boob of my tee-shirts (boobs stick out! What can I do?)? Are you a voyeur looking to get kicks? Do you have a strange, persistent rash of sores? If you answered yes to the first three questions, then YES this blog is for you. If you have sores, then I recommend that you take a break from blog-reading to roll over once every hour.

Right now I am home in California, whiling away a few summer days until I begin law school. As I wandered my suburban house I looked at many of the paintings I have done over the years and it seemed a pity to me that most of my East Coast friends have never seen my paintings, or have only seen very few of them. So I grabbed the digital camera and started roaming the halls, capturing some of the work that I've done over the years.

Pretty much every inch of wall space in my house has my artwork on it. My garage has thick stacks of canvases. Even so, there are tons of paintings that did not make it to this site. I have probably lost in the neighborhood of 50 paintings over the years. I left school for an emergency sophomore year and lost all of the paintings I had done in that class. All of the work that I did during my year in New York were thrown out by the Art Students League in a misunderstanding.

Also I often give paintings as gifts to friends and loved ones. There are a number of my paintings that I never bothered to photograph floating around the living rooms of people I know. My brother has about 10 of my paintings in his condo and both of my parents have some of my paintings at work. In fact, my brother has almost all of my still lifes and landscapes. This is because paintings of people scare him a little. One great lost (or trashed) painting that comes to mind is from freshman year. It is of my friend Ed. In the painting he looks like Robert Kennedy as a frightened child-whore. We put it up in our dorm room with a sign over it that said "This is the face of ED" (this was during the Bob Dole ad campaign of the same slogan).

So, many paintings have fallen to the wayside or are in distant locales. What you see is a sampling of what my mom has liked (or has not buried too deeply in the garage).

Unfortunately I do not take great photographs, so many of the pictures suffer as a result of insufficient lighting and my shaky hands. I also am not super familiar with how to publish blogs so they look pretty. Some stuff may look messed up. Apologies. I also have a terrible tendency to not sign or date my work. So most of the dates are to my best recollection. The order is roughly reverse chronological.
Women watching TV
I painted a series of women watching tv this year in New York. This is based on a New York Times article that described a new study that revised the conventional wisdom about what makes women happy. Unfortunately all of my paintings were destroyed, but I am re-painting them. The next three paintings reflect that effort.

Painting of Laura

Painting of Julia

Painting of Candice

Senior Year Painting Class, 2004
Senior year I took a painting class at school with George Condo. He encouraged us to base our paintings from our imaginations and dreams. I took a few of these pictures outside, so the colors appear much more vibrant. Please apply the brightness of these colors to the pictures I took indoors with bad lighting. Most of the paintings are about three feet square.

This is a diptych I did of my feet. On the left foot are the following: fly with larvae, cupid with arrow, and monkey hanging off instep. Part of the inspiration of this painting came from one of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo, and from Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa.

These are some small studies that I did. I was trying out a lot of new glazing stuff.

Here's a study of my hand using a sienna underground. The painting on the right is a study for the next painting. I rarely do studies or repeat paintings because I find that I lose a certain energy and looseness. This problem has plagued my attempts to re-do the paintings that I lost in New York this past year.

This picture comes from an assignment where the class looked at a Vermeer painting and interpreted elements of it in their own way.

This painting depicts the studio, which at the time was a sort of weird and wonderful place. The class next door had all kinds of crazy still lifes going on (note the skull and the rubber snake). They also were doing paintings of an elaborate set-up that featured a man and a woman at opposite sides of the room with props redolent of the Garden of Eden. The female model held the man's picture in front of her face and wore a strap-on. The man held the female's picture over his face and wore a drawing of a vagina over his groin. Awesome.

I like to ask provocative questions when I paint. I painted this after becoming interested in reinterpreting the history painting genre. This is based on a picture of the Japanese surrender of 1945 aboard the USS Missouri. Modern warfare interests me, and this event represents an important point in military history. The surrender came after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and also represents the moment that Korea, a former colony of Japan, was turned over to the conquerors, only to be divided to disastrous effect. The provocative question implicated is: Good lord, why am I such a weirdo???

This painting was the first assignment for the class. We had to paint a portrait from our imaginations. I'm not crazy about this painting, but I was trying some new stuff with light and glazing.

Here is a painting of my senior year roommates, Marsha and Odette.

The summer of 2003 I got a scholarship to study studio art in Italy over the summer. The institution that I used did not give me the experience that I expected and hoped for, but I loved seeing the country and taking trips on the weekends. The teacher had us do a lot of plein air painting, which led to some challenges (like my painting falling off the easel at the beach and hitting me and then the sand), but overall was a lot of fun.
This is a picture of a model, Tiziana, sitting in the major park of Florence. She became uncomfortable within a couple of hours because of the bugs so we had to end this little adventure quickly.

We moved the pose into the studios where I decided to work on a new painting that focused on her face. Both paintings of her are about 3 feet tall.

This is a man that the teacher loved to use as a model in his own paintings. All of the students speculated that he was a homeless man (he would work for food). This painting happened on the balcony of my teacher's apartment. This is a fairly large painting, probably a little over three feet across.

This is a painting from our plein air trip to the beach. I loved seeing all of the bodies strewn around, leathery old Italian sun worshippers sprawling out everywhere. This painting fell on me as I leaned over to pick something up, so there is a light imprint of it on a t-shirt that I have, so I guess it's also my first effort at monoprint! About 2.5 feet high.

Here's another painting from the beach that day. We were at the beach for about 8 hours, and it was incredibly hot and bright. I wore a big floppy straw hat that I bought at an outdoor market, and one of the other students did a painting of me painting this picture. It came out well and I've always wanted a picture of it but never got around to seeking out. The students would take breaks by wading out into the ocean. On one such break a hot (but "29-year-old") Italian man tried to pick me up when I was chest-deep in water. He insisted that even though I spoke little Italian and he spoke just as little English we could still be right for each other. Who knows? Perhaps he was the love of my life, and he just did not know the language with which to tell me.

I like this painting (which I did out in the courtyard of the art studios) partly because it's so different from most of the other stuff I do. It's very simple, almost to the point of being spare. It also evokes the moment I painted it--the heat of a summer day in a quiet Italian courtyard.

The school used to put on open studios with models. The poses generally lasted about an hour, but I still did some larger paintings during that time. This one is probably a little over 3 feet high.

Who knew that Jesus Christ was an Italian man wearing designer jeans?

Holy foreshortening, Batman! This pose took place during class and I chose a really foreshortened viewpoint. This is only a couple of feet high, so I used the rest of class to do a much larger painting (below) from a different angle).

Here's the same pose from the side. I finished this up at home because I didn't have time to put enough paint down on the canvas during class.

There's a naked woman with huge boobs under my bed!
Many of the paintings I couldn't find I discovered under the beds of my house. All of the following come from under the bed, as well as some of the paintings from Italy. These come from a class I took sophomore year of college. That semester they did not offer an advanced painting class that I was interested in, so I asked the instructor of the figure drawing class if I could paint in his class as long as I did not use solvents (the drawing studio did not have proper ventilation). Most of these paintings come from hour-long poses and I merely wiped my brushes instead of properly cleaning them. Still, I tried some interesting things and enjoyed moving the paint around. Another drawback to the class was that the TF only used three models for the whole class, so there are a lot of paintings of a woman with huge boobs, and older man who liked to sprawl out, and a very thin blonde woman. Since the very longest poses ranged from 30 min. to half-an-hour many of these are incomplete.

I often do paintings as gifts. Over the years I have done a number of paintings of my family. Here are a few.

I don't know exactly when I painted this series of pictures (very small canvases), but I think it was pretty recently. This is my family. The painting on the far left is of me as a mini-manatee. This is also my garage floor.

Here are two paintings that I did that depict my grandparents in a photo take about 35 years ago. I gave these to my grandpa as a gift about 4 years ago, but after he died my aunts sent them back to the US. They now hang in my house.

I think I painted this in 2003 as a Christmas present to my mom. It depicts our family about 20 years ago at the Golden Gate bridge. I love my mom's sunglasses in this picture.

Okay, so this isn't a painting of my family, but I did give it to my mom for mother's day (or her birthday or something) about 3 years ago. It is of Mt. Diablo as seen from a road that passes by my house.

I gave this painting to my grandpa as well, many years ago.


This painting, and about three others that I did at the time, has a sad story behind it that's not really appropriate for the blog.

This is part of a series of small studies that I did while painting at a community center in Boston. They were usually done in one hit over the course of an hour-long pose. I did probably around 8 paintings like this, but I could only find this one and the next painting (weeping woman).

The model for this painting was very odd. She kept crying during her poses, which made the people in the class supremely uncomfortable. We would ask, "Are you okay? Would you like to take a break?" to which she would reply, "I'm fine! (sob, sob) Don't mind me!" I guess there aren't very many models in Boston, because she was the woman with the large breasts used umpteen times in the painting class above.

Walnut Creek Community Center, Summer of 2000
I think that I painted this the summer after freshman year (2000). I painted this at the Walnut Creek Community Center, where they have very cheap (but excellent) classes. It's about 4 feet high.

Here's another painting from the Walnut Creek Community Center. This is about 5.5 feet high. I totally forgot that I ever painted this. It was way in the back of my garage.

Here is a smaller picture from that summer.

Another small painting. I painted this over a horrible painting that I did when I was really young and watching Bob Ross on TV. Let's hope that no one ever uses that x-ray thingy and discovers the atrocity that lies beneath.

Freshman year, 2000
Freshman year I took a painting class at school that was fantastic. The teacher was Nancy Mitchnik, who led us on many wild and crazy adventures. One of my favorite projects from the class does not exist on canvas. We were discussing Dada and created an impromptu performance art piece that involved the whole class cramming into the service elevator in various poses (from fetal position to regal standing poses). We brought in lots of fabric and packing material. Whenever anyone entered the elevator we would yell "Dada!" at him/her and throw pieces of cloth at him/her. There was a candelabra involved.

Painting of my brother and me based on an old photograph. Painting's around 3.5 feet high. 2000.

Here is an abstract cityscape that I did as part of my final project, which focused on scenes from Boston. This is a large painting.

This model was a total weirdo. Nancy asked him to assume a simple standing pose (one that mimics Cezanne's "The Bather"). He couldn't manage to hold the pose without swaying, probably because he kept sending lecherous glances over at this cute guy that was in the class. There are many horror stories about nude models that I've heard from over the years, including one that involved a man with some kind of "discharge issue." Apparently a thin string of some kind of discharge was hanging off of him and visible to all the students in the class. This may simply be an art student's urban legend, but after some of the models I've seen, I believe it.

We were studying fauvism at the time of this painting, I believe.

The art class I took freshman year focused on "The Century," moving from Chardin into modernity. I painted this painting while we were discussing Cezanne.

This painting was a homework assignment from freshman year. I copied a Cezanne self-portrait. It's only a copy, but I like the way it came out.

This is one of the largest paintings I have ever completed. You can see where it hangs in my house above our dining room. It's probably about 7 feet tall.

Here's the painting (the set-up was inspired by the painting of Chardin) that I started the year with.

I have dabbled in some sculpture and mixed media, mainly during high school. My mom keeps some of my sculpture stuff around the house still.

I had a much more complex latticework in mind when I made this vase. However in executing it I realized why most people don't put holes in their work--if you don't exercise supreme caution you can totally destroy it. With more experience and skill I probably would have been able to do better, but I still like the way this came out.

I did the small vessel on the right in high school. I was thinking of pomegranates when I made it. The larger vase on the right I did at an all-night clay party the ceramic studios used to throw during college.

I made this little elephant at the clay party in college.

I did this large bowl with dancing figures during high school. I liked it until one of my friends asked me "Are those figures Power Rangers?" You see how profound my subconscious is.

My high school did not offer AP Art, but I took the exams anyway. One year I did my portfolio based on self-portraits. This sculpture was part of that portfolio. It's a sculpture taken from an imprint of the bottom half of my face. The bubble I am blowing has a figure trapped inside.

Here's another sculpture from my high school self-portrait series. Part of the reason I like sculpture is that you have to really figure out how to fit everything together. For this one I had my friends help me make a plaster mold of my face. From this I made two ceramic masks, one which I glazed in skin tones and one which I painted in the colors of the American flag (with glitter stars over the eyes). I then cut the American flag face into pieces and using wire stitched it over the bottom face like a Frankenstein. I used a glue gun to make the connection secure. I used tissue paper and watercolors to make the hair and then I mounted it all onto a mirror, which you might notice is slightly crooked on one side. This is because I cut it myself, which means I scored it deeply with a glass cutter and gave it a hard hee-yah! (The leaves in this pic are a reflection of a plant that was in my living room.) I placed the mirror on top of a piece of wood, which I stained dark. This was very fun to make.
This self-portrait won a cheesy little competition in the East Bay when I was in high school. It's still in the frame that it was exhibited in.

Here's a watercolor I did in high school.

I'm pretty sure I painted this when I was about 12-13.

I painted this when I was around 12.

I like the simplicity of this pen and ink. This is one of the rare instances when I recorded the date of something, so I know I did this in 1992.

I did this the same day when I was 11.