Oil Painting

y interest in doing art began about 1969 when one of my brothers suggested it as a way of pleasantly and interestingly killing time. I got some acrylic paint and brushes ... a canvas ... and painted a masterpiece (hah!).

"This has possibilities" ... says I.

So I began putting time into the subject and after aquiring a few years experience, had the bold idea that "one might even make a marginal living doing this". Wouldn't it be wonderful to make enough money to live on doing something you enjoy? Most people would envy such a life.

Of course, in time, I realized that this is not a realistic possibility in the twentieth century. I've tried to make "abstract art" but I always end up laughing and just can't take it seriously.

The best I thought I could eventually do was to poop out one very high quality painting per week and sell it for peanuts and maybe just "augment" my earnings as a laborer. The idea became disgusting and eventually I just threw out everything and "hit the road" ... tore everything up and dumped it all in the trash. I did sell one painting to my landlord for $15 (It had a fifty dollar frame on it ... terrible overframing job on my part.) I sent away my best drawings and a self portrait and my two-year-600-hour learning piece is now on permanent display in the Fresh Kills Gallery on Staten Island... ;o)

My only extant works are a few learning pieces and some "joke' paintings which escaped the "Green Monster" (dumpster) by virtue of NOT being in my possession at the time. I expect these to one day come back to haunt me perhaps in the way of blackmail. So I have done next to nothing since around 1980.

One thing I naively counted on at the beginning was the knowledge that good painters in the Renaissance needed to produce "one good thing" in order to insure that others took them seriously. Today, if you spend a lifetime perfecting your art and learn to paint "as well as any man ... be he who he may", contemporary art critics will call your work "superficial" whilst reserving their praise for a spot of red paint on a black background which took all of one minute to realize.

Because I now know their motives, it no longer bothers me. I am content to do other things. However, since the Web now offers the opportunity to "bypass" this scum, I think I might just give it another try ... just for demonstration purposes, mind you.

Amour Propre

(This is what Bernini called it.)
This term is familiar to all who aspire to high technical ability. It simply means that you "fall in love" with your own work even though it sucks. The cause of the phenomenon is found in the nature of the mind. We take for standards ... to judge other things by ... elements of our own experience (what else would we use?). Therefore, if you truly love a homely woman, her visage will in time become the standard against which you judge other women. And if you marry a good looking woman (judged by average contemporary standards as found in movies & magazines) and she's a "real bitch" ... she will eventually become your standard of ugly.

Your mind will focus on an object's good or bad points to forge a standard. Consequently, if you look at your own artwork for long periods (of course you will ... you're the one working on it!), it will become your standard of measure even if it sucks the big monkey.

Bernini adjusted for this by looking at his sculptures through a colored glass. This made them look different (as though made by someone else) and he could see them as he would judge another's work, i.e. without prejudice. Leonardo, on the other hand, used a mirror. I tried this and it works like a charm. When you think your work is the greatest ever done ... just look at it in a mirror and see what crap it really is. But don't use the mirror too often or you lose the effect as well as your ability to judge your own work dispassionately.

A Good Brush is worth a Cocked Hat

It took me some time before I realized that soap cuts oil in paint just as it cuts it on your dishes. Therefore, put a couple drops of Ivory dish washing liquid in your hand (better yet ... the cheap junk in the dollar store) and wash your brush there. Then, rinse it and give the tip a little twist and lay it down to dry. What the turpentine is for ... I can't say for sure.
I believe it's only legitimate purpose is to alter the ph of the paint so that the next layer won't bead up on you. (This actually works especially for that nastyass shiny black paint that every other color won't stick to. This is a bone to pick with the medium ... you have to memorize what happens when you use this or that paint with this ar that other. Of course, if you're just making "abstract" nothing like that matters.)
Anyway, back to the brush ...
A "proper" brush by my experience looks like this.

This is a standard soft brush, fairly large, which has been worn down on the sides all way around but the center bristles are still long since these don't wear off on the canvas (because they aren't touching it 'cause the outside ones are). With such a brush you can load lots of paint, blend very well indeed ... and ... and ... do fine work at the same time with the long bristles. It's a universal brush. I cut 'em that way at the outset (not an easy task because it's hard to cut round instead of flat). For the experienced painter loading such a brush with Venetian Red and applying it to the canvas is a guaranteed "art hard-on".

If you "hone" such a brush ... take good care of it.

Glorious, Gloriae, Gloriarum ... Venetian Red

Of all the paints you can ever use Venetian Red is the most pleasant to work with. It goes on like silk and covers ... ANYTHING ... even pure black ... with one light brushstroke.

All other paints leave something wanting. They are all different and inconsistent and incompatible with one another. This is a major headache for any would be fine artist.

The worst part about paint is the drying time. With acrylic paints you have about two seconds to "work the paint". With oils, you stand there and wait for maybe two weeks before you can take your work to the next level.

Something in between is needed. something with a drying time (out of the tube with no dryers added) of about ten to twenty minutes. At this drying time, you can work the paint to your hearts content ... wait for it to dry and put another layer of work on right away.

Finish whole work quick like bunny.

Come to think of it maybe this problem has already been solved ... hmmm ... but why solve it within the last 20 years when it wasn't solved in the last 400? ..........

Giorgio Vasari

If you are really interested in fine art ... read ...
"The Lives of the Artists"
by the above guy (a contemporary of Michelangelo).

It is very insiteful, full of anecdotes and idiosyncrasies and completely unaffected by any knowledge of "modern art" because there wasn't any then (hah!). Those people wouldn't have conceived of it as an "advance of artistic theory". They weren't sophisticated enough. They didn't know that you have to "paint like a child" (Picasso) to be sophisticated. They just thought you had to do the best you were able to do.

Hmmmmm ... come to think of it ... isn't that what a child does? ... tries to do his best?

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