Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Painting Tutorial Video: How to Paint the Basic Shapes in Monochrome.

A 15 minute demonstration and tutorial of how to paint a cone and sphere in black and white oil paint. With a short discussion of the materials, brushes paints as well as a discussion of Caravaggio, chiaroscuro and tenebrism.

More "How to" Articles and Tutorials
Upcoming shows:

Art Museum of Los Gatos, California
Saturday December 3, 2011
5PM-8PM Show up in costume and get into the photobooth!  You may end up being my next painting!

January 2012    
Santa Clara College, California

February 2012    
Ohlone College, Fremont California 
Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento California 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Tutorial on How to Paint a Still Life

Win one of my watercolors or drawings! Visit my web site and click on one of the contests for details!

New Painting in Progress

Two Preliminary Studies

My Studio
Some details of the collage parts I made the as the base for the painting.

The painting as it develops step by step

Friday, May 27, 2011

Caption/Title Contest: Thematic Apperception Test

Caption or title this image and Win this Drawing on the Right
The contest closes Wednesday June 8, 2011 

oil on masonite panel 10"x8"vintage frame, magnifying glass

Enter your caption in the comments section and or send me an email so that I can let you know if you won.

Write a new title or short caption (one to several sentences) about what you think this painting and drawing are about and the best entry will win this preliminary study.

The Thematic Apperception Test, or TAT, is a projective measure intended to evaluate a person's patterns of thought, attitudes, observational capacity, and emotional responses to ambiguous test materials. In the case of the TAT, the ambiguous materials consist of a set of cards that portray human figures in a variety of settings and situations. The subject is asked to tell the examiner a story about each card that includes the following elements: the event shown in the picture; what has led up to it; what the characters in the picture are feeling and thinking; and the outcome of the event.

So watch out what you write or maybe someone will think you're nuts!

More competitions on my site:

The Winner of the Title Caption Contest is Julia Sisk

The winner of the caption/title competition is Julia Sisk:

Well then!" she said. "What shall we do now?" Her tone made a shiver run down his spine, and he wondered once more what he'd gotten himself into.

Everyone who entered should still send me an address because I'm gonna send you a little something!

Buy this painting on Etsy


Go to my site for more contests:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Marcel Duchamp, Rrose Selavy, Mona Lisa, and Me

One of the biggest influences on my project is Marcel Duchamp and his alter ego Rrose Selavy.  

Duchamp had this idea that he could take the identity and meaning of anything and make it over.  He did this by grabbing mass produced ephemera like his L.H.O.O.Q., a cheap postcard-sized reproduction of the Mona Lisa, upon which Duchamp drew a mustache and a goatee. The "readymade" done in 1919, is one of the most well known act of degrading a famous work of art. The title when pronounced in French, puns the frase "Elle a chaud au cul", translating colloquially in "She has a hot ass". 

In essence he was developing his use of the "ready made" object and his transforming of the meaning of that object.  Like a modern day Madonna, "touched by. . ." he developed an alter ego which was a ready made transformation of himself with the help of his photographer friend Man Ray.  He grabbed some clothing from a friend, put himself in drag, and had Man Ray photograph himself.  A sort of "renovated reputation"  whose name was a play on the phrase, “Eros, c’est la vie”. 

I'm trying to do something kind of similar in my own way with found objects and photographs.  For example "Chastidy Beldt" came about after I started finding old photobooth portraits and making sketches of the.  I wondered who she was so I put her on my blog and asked people to write short stories about her in exchange for the drawing.

The story Michael Gray came up with inspired me to actually make a painting of her in which I included some ready made objects, such as some sheet music and a frame I found from a thrift store.

 Here she is 10"x8" oil on masonite with found sheet music.  
Read her story here:

Renovated Reputations is the result of an internet blogging project in which paintings and assemblages based on vintage and antique vernacular photography are the inspiration for short fiction.

The impetus for this project is based in a solo show of paintings in I am having at ArtHaus Gallery in San Francisco in April through June 25th 2011. 

The show is called
Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs.
at ArtHaus 411 Brannan Street  San Francisco, CA  94107

Download the draft of Tabloid Newspaper catalog as a PDF.
Here's a link to the free newspaper style catalog as a pdf:

Here's a link to the book:
(This is about 5MB so if you are using firefox it may stall.  You can right click and save or use explorer.)

Enter more competitions on my website:
Similar blog posts about technique and the use and misuse of art history:


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Patrick Nelson and D Bellinghi winners of the Tina Bopper Flash Fiction Competition

 A Love Story 
by D Bellenghi


"Hey, Mister you can't be in here," the young man shouted as he hurried inside into the fading light. "This building is closed. Torn down on Monday. I'm just waiting on a guy who's picking up the last of this stuff." Joe stood in the gloom looking at the bits and pieces of a life that no longer existed.

    "Relax, kid. I just came in to look at the old place one more time. The only thing I'm taking outa here is memories." the old man said as he looked around. On the floor was a torn down yellowed poster of a woman from the time the building had been a strip club. The old man walked over and picked up what was left of the poster.   

    "Boy, she sure was somethin," he said more to himself than the young man. "There was a real woman."

    "Oh,yeah," the younger man said taking the poster to study. "and what made this Tina Bopper so special" he asked reading off the poster in disbelief.

    "Well, for one thing, she was a beauty queen. You know, one of them girls always winning those contest." he stopped to take a sip from the pint bottle in his hip pocket. "She was a beautiful girl. Could have been an actress. That's what she wanted. When she looked at you, it was like a spotlight had been turned on you. When she talked to you, she made you feel like the only other person in the whole world."

    "Sounds like you thought she was something special."

    "She was all of that, I can tell you. When this place first opened, it was a hot new club. A place where things happened. A place to see and be seen. It was one the first club where people lined up clear around the block to get in. I was one of the bartenders in those days and I got to see it all. Tina was in here every night. She loved the attention the men gave her. She was always the life of the party. She burned the candle at both ends. She had fun no matter the cost."

    "So, you knew her real well?" the young man asked hoping to get to some "good stuff" in the story.

    "We were just pals. You know, I wasn't bad to look at in those days, myself. The ladies liked me. Not like now." he gestured moving his hand across his body as if to point out the state he was now in. " That's the way she wanted it." he said with a sigh to himself. "She would say, “Joe I don't need another guy who loves me, I need a friend. That's what she always said."   

    "What happened to her?"

    "She wanted to be an actress. She went out there to Hollywood. She gave it a good shot. She stayed out there a couple of years. Nothin ever came of it. Then one day I looked up and there she was.  Same as always, bigger than life and just as beautiful. I told her them big movie moguls was crazy! Tina just smiled and said she was over all that stuff about being a star. All she wanted was a job. Course, by then the club had changed hands and it was a strip joint. Not run down or nothin just .... Well, it took about two weeks before she came back in." The older man paused, pulled out the bottle and took another sip before continuing. "Tina said she couldn’t handle a regular job and asked if I could get her a job dancing. She needed a theatrical job. Something that fit her talents.  So I got the boss to try her out. She had danced in all them beauty contests so it was easy for her. She just lit up when she hit the stage, even if it was a strip stage. That's when she changed her name to Bopper. There wasn't a guy in the place that didn't have eyes for her. She was the life of the party again. She packed this place every night."

    "Tina was doing real good, you know. She was making lots of money and the guys were fallin all over themselves to be with her. She was still so beautiful....." his voice trailed off and Joe was watching the past that only he could see.

    The younger man, eager to hear the rest of the story asked, "What happened man. Don't keep me hangin."

    "Everythin was going great.  One night, this guy comes in. Big shot. He's throwing money around. He's blown away by Tina. He starts coming in every night doin everything he can to win her over. Expensive gifts and a lot of promises. Tina didn't care at first. She had heard it all before. Gradually, he wore her down, and she started to believe him. He wants her to go away with him. I guess, you know, she figured why not. What was she leaving behind. She had a shot at a real life."

    "So, man is that the last time you saw her?"   

    "Yep, that was the last time...." Joe’s voice trailed off again as he fell back into memories. Off in the darkness a tired door hinge squeaked and a door banged close.

    "That's probably my guy." the kid said as he hurried away. Joe stood gazing around him at the shabby ruins of where he had spent so much of his life. And for what? Was he like this building.....

    Out of the darkness came the sound of footsteps  coming closer and then a voice like honey, "Hey, Joe, how about buying me a cup of coffee." Joe squinted to see but couldn't. No matter, he would know that voice anywhere. It took his breath away. "Sure, anything for a friend."   

The Beauty Within by Patrick Nelson

“I got the shaft and boy does it suck.” She looked at me with very manic eyes; they wouldn’t stay still and her pupils were tiny black pinpoints. I don’t know who she was, but she kept ranting about ‘the whole thing being rigged and they got what’s coming to them.”
It sounded like the script from some old radio soap opera: “I didn’t do it, but I wish I had.”
I was riding in the back of the ambulance with her in case she had anything to add to the story. The other detectives and I had cobbled together what we could and it wasn’t much: we had three victims and a whole lot of sick people. Someone had released a noxious gas on stage at the beauty contest and the two finalists and the judge were at ground zero when the crude dispersion device went off. The “bomb” was a bouquet of roses that contained two vials of liquid that, when introduced to each other, create a deadly gas that only lasts five minutes but can kill you in two if you get a big whiff of it. This woman was extremely agitated and she had to be strapped down but she couldn’t be sedated as the EMTs had a pretty good idea but did not know for sure what the chemicals were that were used in the incident. She had been a contestant in the contest, but had been voted out in the preceding round so she and a bunch of the other ‘losers’ for want of a better word, were commiserating in the wings.
“Those cheats got what they deserved. I hate ‘em all! They ruined my life. I can’t go back on the circuit after a defeat like this!”
She was delusional and probably dangerous, but whoever did this had done it premeditatedly and wouldn’t have been dumb enough to be nearby when this happened, plus it was tossed from within the audience. Other detectives were doing what I thought was the more productive chore of interviewing the members of the audience. My gut told me Lucy in the skies here was just an angry innocent bystander no matter how hopping mad she was on the way to the hospital. To be honest, I kind of agreed with her--about the results, not the killing of the people. The other two dead finalists were nowhere near as good looking as the wild eyed and sputtering lunatic in the gurney before me. As a matter of fact, if we had met under different under different circumstances...
“Hey you male chauvinist pig, just because I'm drugged and strapped down, doesn’t give you the right to drool all over me. Is that what you’re into? What? You want to ask me out you freak? I don’t care if you think I should have won, you weren’t one of the judges. Just because I wouldn’t sleep with him, the lousy son of a bitch cashes me out in the last round. Yeah, we should have done it too but we didn’t. We were all talking about how we all refused that creep Mr. Toque’s promises of winning if we did the big nasty with him. You’re right about the audience being important. It wasn’t any one of us so you should ask them all.”
Okay, she was starting to freak me out.
“You? How do you think I feel?” she exclaimed with flailing arms.
I thought: ‘can you read my thoughts?”
She looked up at me with no sign of lunacy and said: “yeah, asshole. Like a book. Just the stuff on the surface, though. The rest is like a ghost image on the TV. I can’t focus on that.”
I said in my head: “is it just me can you read other’s thoughts?”
“I’m in everybody’s head sunshine! Not just me, All the girls can read minds. You want some more proof, sherlock? The driver of this ambulance is worried that you are going to search him and find that bag of dope under his seat. The other EMT is waiting for you to leave us so he can try to cop a feel. By the way, no such luck, sweetheart! I will break your arm off and shove it up your ass!”
Wow was all I could muster.
“Yeah, you dumbass! ‘wow’ Is right!”
I did have a great idea, though. Maybe she could help me out with this investigation.
“Well, then have them turn this band-aid box around and let’s go!” she said in a borderline hysterical tone.
Oy vey.
“Yeah. Oy vey is right, putz.” 

Thank you all for writing such great stories!  Some gave me the willies, some may me sad and others turned the rock over so I could see the crawly things scamper away from the light.  I’m awarding the drawings to Patrick Nelson and D Bellinghi’s story but I have another study of Tina that I’m going to have to send to Dee Turbon as well.  Here’s why:

I got one of those chills when I got to the end of "A Love Story" by D Bellenghi.  I knew Bellenghi was setting me up for something but I still had that little chill run up my back; tighten my scalp and a lump formed in my throat.  Bellenghi's story had a great sense of setting.  I could see dust motes travelling through a shaft of dirty sunlight and smell the musty odor of old building.  A sort of counterpoint and almost a continuation of "A Love Story" was "WHAT EDDY SAID" by Dee Turbon.

Dee's story seemed almost like an earlier chapter from Tina's point of view.  The two were companion pieces.  Like Bellenghi's story there was a strong visual and tactile element in the story.  I liked the touches of description like complexions and ceiling fans.  There was a kind of pathos and bittersweet optimism to the ending that really appealed to me.

 I never know whether something is a metaphor or an allegory but I feel like "Under fingernails" by Philip Greenspoon was a bit of both.  Sheesh! I wanna take a shower.  Some of the imagery was hard to take but I think I understood Greenspoon's take on Tina's turmoil.  I think a lot of people can really empathize with his take on Tina's life and her new beginning.

Nothing could be truer then the flash bulb piece by Wesley in which the realities of Tina's world were laid bare.  It had a lot of punch for such a short piece.  Wesley's piece almost read like the thoughts of one of the characters in Patrick Nelson's "The Beauty Within."

Nelson's story is by far one of the most original and compelling stories I've read in a long time and I would really like to see where it goes after this.  It read like the beginning of a funny noir pulp style novel that I can't wait to tear through all in one night.

Read all the stories here:

More competitions on my site:

The show is called
Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs.
at ArtHaus 411 Brannan Street  San Francisco, CA  94107

Download the draft of Tabloid Newspaper catalog as a PDF.
Here's a link to the free newspaper style catalog as a pdf:

Here's a link to the book:
(This is about 5MB so if you are using firefox it may stall.  You can right click and save or use explorer.)

Winner posted late tonight for the Tina Bopper Flash Fiction Contest, meantime!

This is my garage with too too many old paintings in it. Help the artist and go to my studio sale on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/kmencher

Monday, May 23, 2011

Write a story about Phil A. Buster and Win the Drawing on the Right

Contest closes Monday June 6th 2011

Left: Phil A. Buster oil on masonite 8"x10"
Right: Phil A. Buster wash drawing on cold press w/c paper approx 8"x11"

Click on pictures to enlarge
The story you write should be a "Flash Fiction" which is a complete story in one thousand or fewer words.  Please post the story in the comment section, you will have to provide your name and an email address in order to be qualified to win or you can e-mail me at kmencher@ohlone.edu with your info.  There is a problem with how many characters can post (only about 4,000) so if you cannot post it.  E-mail it to me at kmencher@ohlone.edu

Entries for this contest may be used in a future show.  

Renovated Reputations is the result of an internet blogging project in which paintings and assemblages based on vintage and antique vernacular photography are the inspiration for short fiction.

The impetus for this project is based in a solo show of paintings in I am having at ArtHaus Gallery in San Francisco in April through June 25th 2011. 

The show is called
Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs.
at ArtHaus 411 Brannan Street  San Francisco, CA  94107

Download the draft of Tabloid Newspaper catalog as a PDF.
Here's a link to the free newspaper style catalog as a pdf:

Here's a link to the book:
(This is about 5MB so if you are using firefox it may stall.  You can right click and save or use explorer.)

This came in by e-mail:

The Delicious Taste of Paint
by Philip Greenspoon
Mr. Buster sat at his desk in the basement of the gallery, adding up bills that he couldn't afford to pay. He was three months behind on the gallery's rent, and a letter from his landlord sitting on his desk said in cold legal tones that if he failed to pay his debt by the end of the month, the gallery would be shut down. The first week of the month was now coming to an end.

It had been a dream of his, ever since he was a young man, to run a gallery where young artists could show their work and establish their careers. But when he finished high school and got married, the responsibilities of married life forced him down a more realistic path, and so he became a marketing consultant, and was quite successful. But nights when he couldn't sleep, often he would quietly slip out of bed, go to the living room and read some art book or other. He always had one out from the library. It was only after the sudden death of his wife five years ago, two weeks following their fortieth anniversary, that he mustered the courage to follow his heart into the art world that had secretly fascinated him all his life.

Mr. Buster always came to work elegantly, though not fashionably, dressed, wearing suits and ties that he was accustomed to wearing to business meetings decades ago, in his heyday. Mornings in front of the mirror, he would carefully arrange the tie around his neck, checking for symmetry, and taking pride. This morning he had been especially scrupulous and shined his black shoes vigorously until they gleamed triumphantly.

Seeing the final figure of how much he owed in black ink in front of him, Mr. Buster let out a deep sigh, and said self-pityingly, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." He was supporting his head in his hands, and slowly shaking his head, while he said this over and over again. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

He was jolted out of this mournful reverie when he heard the sound of footsteps on the staircase leading down to the basement. Then the door to his office opened, and Mrs. Tenison walked in. She was a shy elderly woman, who had lost her husband just one year ago. She and her husband had been neighbors of Mr. Buster and his wife for nearly twenty-five years, and they had been close friends. They would go to each other's houses for jovial dinners, or couples bridge games. Sometimes they would go to the movies together, and afterwards, at dinner, the men would heartily debate the merits of the films they had seen, while the women listened in and poked fun at their husbands' passion for such trivial things. Each couple depended on the other for their social life, and they were great old friends. But after Mrs. Buster's death, the friendship had fizzled out, after Mr. Buster had angrily accused the Tenisons of busting the VCR he had lent them, which they emphatically denied.

Now Mrs. Tenison stood in front of Mr. Buster in his office.

"Mrs. Tenison. How do you do?" said Mr. Buster with undisguised surprise.

"Just fine, Mr. Buster. Just fine. And you?"

"Oh, fine," he said tentatively. "Mrs. Tenison, I think this is your first time in my gallery. Is there something wrong?"

"No. No. Don't act so surprised, Mr. Buster. I've just come to see your paintings."

"Oh really? Well, they're not my paintings, Mrs. Tenison. I just give them a home." And then after a pause, "I didn't even know you were interested in art."

"I've decided to become interested, Mr. Buster. Even old ladies sometimes like to try new things."

Mr. Buster chuckled. "I suppose they do indeed. I'm glad to see you."

At that point there was an uncomfortably long silence, which Mrs. Tenison broke: "Well, are you going to give me a tour?"

They went up the stairs, and were both short of breath at the top. Gesturing to the wall on the right, Mr. Buster said, "We just got these ones in last month. A young artist called Fitzroy. Talented, don't you think?"

"Very," she replied. "I like the colors of the mountains."

"I do too," said Mr. Buster. "And the shadows the mountain in the background casts on the ones in the foreground."

"Do you think it will sell?"

"It's hard to say."

"What do you think is behind the tallest mountains?"

"I think only the artist can know for sure."

"How about that one?" she said pointing to the painting to its left. "Isn't that the duck pond in Central Park?"

"Why yes. I believe it is."

"Stewart and I used to go there when we were courting. I remember we'd feed the ducks."

"That's funny. Shelly and I did that too. We'd buy feed from a poor young mother. She must've been twenty years old back then. God. That was a long time ago."

"Time flies."

"Yes. It does."

"Life is short."

"Yes. It is."

"I'm thinking of taking up painting," she blurted out quickly and a little embarrassed.

"Really? That's terrific."

"Which reminds me, can you recommend any good art supply stores?"

"There are plenty in the neighborhood. There's Rembrandt's just a block down from here."

"Do you paint, Phil?"

"No. Well. Sometimes. But I mainly just look after other artists' work. Give them a home."

"I think that's great."

"It is," he replied. "But, well, it looks like we're going to have to shut the place down. Financial problems. Such is life."

"Oh. I'm sorry."

"Me too. Me too," and he hesitated. "Shall we walk over together? When I was a kid, I used to love going into art stores, and looking at the tubes of paint. So colorful. Rich. I almost wanted to eat them."

Mrs. Tenison laughed. "I'm glad you didn't. That stuff is poisonous. Shall we go?"

"Yes. Lets," and he took her arm.

This came in by e-mail:

The Root of all Evil by Patrick Nelson

          "But Sir, your honor, I do not want the billions Mr. Buster has apparently left me. As a matter of fact I find the idea of being given his fortune to be extremely repulsive and horrid" Albert Christian said in mildly dismayed distress, yet he possessed a melodious English accent. He was still wearing his butler's uniform which was pristine. He was a man in his seventies who had worked himself into the body of a ninety year old man through a lifetime of servitude to one Mr. Phil A. Buster, a pioneer in the rest home boom. The billions he made off the veiled neglect and abuse of the elderly helped fund a lavish lifestyle of comfort and ease well into his nineties.

          That is until last week when he died in his sleep with a smile on his face.

          Arthur was actually the one who found him that morning: he had brought up the master's coffee enema and newspaper. Yes, you read that correctly: coffee enema. Every morning Arthur was required to administer the enema via a device while his master lay in bed. Then he was required to attend the master as he sat in a bottomless chair over a large sink reading the paper. Arthur was quite sure that this was not a treatment recommended by any physician. He was almost certain it was just another trial he would put Arthur through to break him.

          That was Mr. Buster's soul ambition and hobby in the years since he sold his empire and retired: he wished to see this stoic servant from Britain who was the finest human being he knew broken.

          In an interesting side note: the shareholders who did purchase his majority shares were soon rewarded with not princely dividends which they were promised but an anonymous phone call to the press about the horrible living conditions at the rest homes they now fully owned. The stock plummeted, there were lawsuits from families that had never even noticed these conditions their loved ones were forced to live in until they heard it on their televisions. Philip A Buster had managed to break every single person who even dreamed to have the same thing he did. Arthur was forced to make the call.  

          That was how he had crafted this game: he made every required demeaning task appear to be under the guise of either a business necessity or a medical therapy: from firing board members at company picnics in front of their families (which Arthur had to do) to the yearly earwax collection and weighing. It would appear to any outsider to be an albeit eccentric but nevertheless required chore. After all, any outside individual would, upon examination, never  believe the complaints a mere butler over the defenses of 'Lord' Buster.        

          Another tack Buster used was constant degrading verbal abuse: he would come up with some of the most offensive and disgusting comments in order to debase his employee and force him into rash action. He would go so far as to have his head of security sweep every room and Arthur daily for listening devices. This way none of the vile and provocative things he spewed at his human disposal were ever used against him. It was fortunate Mr. Buster was retired because the amount of imagination, time and energy required to carry out this daily crusade was staggering and Phil was no longer a young man, either. None of it succeeded. Arthur bent but never broke.

          "I am afraid this is just a final attempt to bring me low and for master to see me as rich but worthless as he was. For years I argued that a man was nothing, even with riches, if he did not have pride in his life and work. He scoffed and often attempted to force me to renege on my contract with him and be a broken man. I persevered, and I will not succumb to his phantom, sir. I deny his wish."

          The judge who was a very influential man and friend of Philip's, was completely baffled by this simple man's stubbornness: "but my dear sir, do you not realize what this means? You can now live as you choose without a care in the world. You owe nothing to anyone and you now have power beyond anything you could ever have imagined as a mere butler." The judge said.

          "I know that given the circumstances and my reaction to them you believe you are speaking to a simpleton, but I do fathom the gravity in this situation. I have lived with the daily reminders of what wealth can do to a man. I have seen the consequences first hand for most of my adult life. In many ways I have lived so near the edge of that abyss of the soul for so long just to remind myself where the path of human decadence can lead; where the heart can become seduced by riches and become a factory of depravity. The one thing that has kept me at the master's side is my honor bound duty to strive to never become such a vacuum of the human spirit such as Mr. Buster. With that as my model opposite, I found the path much easier."

          "Well, I must say..." The judge said as he scratched the bald area at the top of his head which was surrounded by shock white downy hair. "I thought I knew old Philly, but with your description here, I am not so sure now."

          "Indeed, sir" was all Alfred would offer.

          "What about your retirement? I knew Philly fairly well and since he's dead and gone I can tell you he was a cheap son of a bitch. I can't imagine him paying very much. How will you fair? Would you be looking for employment?" The judge let it trail off in hopes that Alfred would pick up the thread just as any good servant would.

          Alfred just flashed a friendly smile and shook his head: "no sir, your honor. I took my hard earned wages, which were as you intimated, quite small and managed to sock away quite a nice nest egg. You do not spend so many years with a financial genius and not pick up a trick or two. I chose wisely in my investments and withdrew my money when the amount was sufficient to my needs. I have just enough to move back to England and spent the rest of my days catching up on my reading."

          "But investment in the stock market would seem to draw a very close parallel to the monster you describe. Were you not afraid of becoming the soulless man just as you say Philly became?" The judge felt he had him there and maybe he could lure him in through that loophole.

          "My dear sir, I am but a man as was Mr. Buster. That similarity does not doom me to his fate. As I said earlier, it is what a man chooses to do with what he is presented that define what becomes of his soul."

He could tell the judge was still hopeful about trapping this man into taking the bequeathment. He added: "when we are placed before a table laden with a feast it is up to us whether we eat our fill or gluttonize and make but pigs of ourselves as if we were before a trough. Food is like money: we need it to survive in this world. You can either control how much you earn or it can control and "earn" your soul.” He folded his perfectly manicured but worn hands in his lap. He was done trying to explain.

          "Well" the judge said "this is extremely unusual. I suppose the money could be redirected to the two grandchildren..."

          "Oh, my!" Alfred gave a moan of disdain with a dramatic eyeroll for good measure "that would be an even more distasteful solution! I abhor those vicious little brats. They are worse in every evil quality and vice than their grandfather could ever hope to be. This added fortune would just further their depravity. That would have entertained Mr. Buster to no end. No--I will find another solution to  this dilemma. Perhaps I can give it to a charity..."

          "Ahem" the judge interrupted "there is a specific stipulation in this will that states that the money must either go to you or his heirs but it will not be spent on any charitable works. It seems he may have anticipated this maneuver on your part."

          "Indeed. Well, I will find an appropriate solution was all Alfred had left to say.

          "In that case, I only will require your signature on these few papers and I will then hand over this check to you.

          One week later Alfred was on a chartered jet flying out of the private air strip on the estate he now owned. He no longer wore the starched and well kept uniform he donned every day of his sentence, but instead wore the simple country attire he had come to work in that first day. As the plane lifted into the thick cloud layer that kept the glorious sun from shining upon his new empire, he caught a glimpse of the conflagration that had been the estate of Phil A Buster as it billowed black smoke high into the sky.

          As soon as he had left the office of the Judge he made the call to his sister back in England. He told her what had transpired and gave her the authority to access his personal account and buy the small cottage in the countryside outlying London. His real dream was coming true. He then went to the bank and withdrew all the money his vile employer had left him and took it the mansion and had it piled in the library: the master's favorite room in which to berate Alfred due to the comfort of the one leather chair by the fireplace.

          The pile of bills looked comical. He did have the opportunity to get the full sum in a cashiers check or bearer bonds, but it would doubtless not have had the theatrically cathartic result as that pile before him. This was the cancer that had eaten away Philip Arthur Buster's soul.

          He set it ablaze. It has been burning for two days now. The local authorities are up in arms at the fact that they cannot attempt to put out the blaze. Alfred denied them access. They feel it will be perceived as them not doing their jobs, but it is private property well outside the limits of any local jurisdiction. They, as Alfred was, were reduced to watching from a safe distance.

          The plane lifted and so did Alfred's spirits (after all these years) as he remember the final exchange with the judge: "why will you just not take the money and leave it at that?"

          "For the simple fact, your honor, that he would have won and I would have lost everything."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Giacomo Balla and Me

 At left (Giacomo Balla's "Street Light" 1909)

Occasionally I like to talk about my use and misuse of art historical resources.  One of my favorite painters is Giacomo Balla.  He was an Italian "Futurist" painter who believed that the world would be greatly improved by the use of technology.  

February 20, 1909 an article was published that marked the beginning of an age of science fiction.  Electric lights shattered the darkness of the night.  Medicine conquered new diseases.  Artists and poets pronounced their verdict: the past was obsolete.  They saw a new world where it was no longer necessary to remember: one must always look forward. 

Jacquie M. Balla  16"x10" oil and acrylic on panel
The founder of the Futurist movement was the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, (1876-1944).  In 1909 Marinneti shocked and mobilized Europeans into accepting the wave of the future by publishing his “Manifeste de Futurisme” in the Parisian newspaper Le Figaro.  Marinetti, bilingual, international and irresistibly modern, nevertheless borrowed from the past's French avant-garde poet Charles Baudelaire. By using an almost traditional symbolist pastiche of onomatopoetic words, shocking imagery and radical ideas Marinetti influenced Europeans to believe that the future was going to be a fabulous place.  Similar to Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal, in style and influence Marinetti's manifesto inspired succeeding generations.  A group of Italian artists, Gino Severini (1883-1966), Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), and Boccioni's teacher Giacomo Balla (1871-1958) seized Marinetti's ideals and wrote their own "Futurist Manifesto."
The Italian Futurists believed science would create a new and better world.  Electricity would destroy the darkness of ignorance. Factories and automobiles would move life along at a lightening pace.  Life was going to be easier, but in order to accomplish this, the past needed to be wiped clean.  Marinneti advocated war as a way to do this in his 1915 collection of poems Guerra sola igiene del mundo (“War the Only Hygiene of the World”).  In 1916 Boccioni, who had enlisted in the army during World War I, fulfilled Marinetti's prophetic vision by dying from wounds and a fall from a horse.

My painting of Jacquie M. Balla is reference to Balla's Street Light c.1909

I invited internet authors to write a story about Jacquie, you can read the stories here:
Similar blog posts about technique and the use and misuse of art history:


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Caption/Title Contest

Caption or re-title this image and Win this Drawing on the Right
The contest closes Wednesday May 25, 2011

Enlightened Monkey 
oil on panel 28x22"

Write a new title or short caption (one to several sentences) about what you think this painting and drawing are about and the best entry will win this preliminary study.

Enter your caption in the comments section and or send me an email so that I can let you know if you won.

Buy this painting on Etsy

Go to my site for more contests:

Preliminary drawing and step by step progress on a recent painting

The preliminary sketch, water soluble marker and watercolor on cold pressed watercolor paper.
 Payne's Gray oil paint thinned down with Galkyd Painting Medium and the drawing is done with burnt umber.
 I wiped out some of the lights with a rag soaked in Turpenoid.
Burnt umber with a sable brush (a big flat.)
 Darks are made of lamp black, alizarin crimson and scarlet.
 Flesh tones are cadmium orange, white and various mixtures of burnt umber and some of the black I mentioned above.
 Potchking and working out details.
I don't like the face on the figure on the right.  I wiped it out and started again much looser.

The finished painting, oil on masonite panel 11"x14"