Here’s a painting that I am working on right now, and I thought it would be cool to show a work in progress. This painting is in its second day, and so I’ve only had Matt sit for this painting twice now, about three hours each time. Matt is the best sitter, I wish he were around to sit more often, but he himself is busy working in his father’s faux finishing business.
Matt is one of my best friends from childhood. Matt’s brother Brandon is my closest friend, and Brandon and I went to school together. Although Matt is younger than Bran by a few years, the three of us always hung out together. And so, the three of us are all still very close.
I love the way that Matt lives his life. He is very aware of what society demands of him, and he will make concessions to these demands, but only so far. And so, he did as he was told and went off to university to get his Bachelor’s degree in Biology. He works hard throughout the week, but he chooses to drive rundown cars, wear shabby clothes. But then, and this is what I love- he up and moves to Costa Rica. He spends months and months working and saving, and then books his flight. Two days after faux finishing in a beautiful mansion in Mill Neck, New York, he is laying in a hammock on a beach in some obscure Costa Rican village, smoking a cigar, reading Brothers Karamazov. He exploits the system responsibly. He works for materialistic society, then withdraws from the materialistic demands of society and enjoys himself for months and months on end, living off his savings. He does this back and forth thing on a regular basis. I doubt whether capitalistic America has birthed a finer specimen of beach bum in which resides equal parts antiestablishmentarianism and commercial enterprise.
Matt got back from Costa Rica, this last time, about four months ago now. When he got back, he was wonderfully hirsute. He had long hair pulled back in a pony tail, and a scruffy beard. Perfect sitter for a painting, especially in metrosexual Long Island, where the men are as hairless as the women. He came over my house with a handmade, classical guitar that he had bought from a guitar maker in Costa Rica. He decided to learn the classical guitar in his free time.
I’m including lots of photos, in order to show how broadly I paint in the beginning. In the first few days, especially on a big canvas such as this one, I paint with only big brushes, each one about an inch wide. I just want to see the whole picture, the broad planes, before I get absorbed into the smaller details. Using such big brushes prevents me from getting absorbed by the trivial aspects of the painting- I literally cannot paint small details with these brushes. I typically paint this way, confining myself to good habits, as if I myself were a thing to be roped in- I just know that I will get absorbed by unimportant things if I allow myself to be (in life as well as painting, I must admit.) Using this technique, I’ve taught myself how to move quickly on the first few days. It’s not that I need to always work quickly, it’s just that in the first few days I need to get all of my thoughts out, before I lose enthusiasm and creative energy. After this burst of painting, I can slow down and focus on refining the work (such as shortening his arm, enlarging face a bit…etc.), and try not to lose the momentum of the initial sprint.