murphy, mid December
Murphy, 50″ x 50″, oil on linen
I am glad to say that, during the past week, I have been painting constantly. I have a show coming up at the Salmagundi Club in Manhattan on January seventh, and so I’ve been painting eight hours a day. I’ll be hanging five works, three of which are still in progress. In addition to this upcoming show, I’ve got a few portrait commissions running, a Christmas card that I am designing, and hopefully a painted present for my son Liam. Never a dull moment, but I’m very glad to be so busy.
Here’s the progress shot as of this week for my painting of Murphy. On any given day in the week, I have a few friends stop by my studio. Every person that comes in has enthusiastic reviews for this painting. As well, people who have seen the progress shots over the internet have given me really great feedback on Murphy. I’m glad, because I do feel it is one of my best works. It’s pretty important that a few other people agree, though.
Murphy is great to work with. He sits pretty still, and yet is interesting, funny, and very sarcastic. His voice is raspy, and his wit is extremely sharp. The other day, Murphy and I went out for a beer after painting. While sitting at the bar, another guy was saying that the social security system was going under because, when it was instituted, the government never expected that the average person would one day live to their mid seventies. Murphy leaned over to the guy and growled “You’ll never stick me on a floating iceburg with a frozen piece of salmon, you bastard.” I couldn’t stop laughing, neither could the other people listening in on the conversation. I also learned something new about the social security system of the Inuit in the Arctic.
In Florence, I learned how to paint in such a way as to keep the paint on the canvas very flexible. Entire limbs can be moved with a little steel wool, some turpentine, and a few minutes of scrubbing. The flexibility of oil painting is one of its greatest assets, and allows the painter to discover his painting as he works. This flexibility allows me to think more in terms of a novelist who is developing a story and a character, than a wall painter who is covering square feet. This is opposed to fresco, which is literally set in stone. And so, I’m sure I’ll be changing this painting as the next two weeks go by- who knows what this painting will look like on January seventh?
On a sidenote, I’ve been told that my son is “very advanced” in subjective, artistic thinking. Mentioning this may seem pretentious, but these are the literal words stated by Kerry, my two year old son’s daycare teacher. She told me that she was doing a project in which the students were given yellow and red paint, and they would mix it to make orange. Then, she went around the room and asked each child to repeat the word “orange.” Each child regurgitated the word “Orange”, but when they got to Liam, he exclaimed in a horrific growl “TIGER…. RRRR… TIGER!!!!” The teacher was very impressed with such an abstract association, though I was particularly impressed to hear that he growled.