‘Men’, 24″ X 32″, oil on panel.

24 Responses to “Men”

  1. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    Your men in pink seem a little more sure of themselves.

    • graphicanthropology Says:

      Many years ago I had studied some colour theory. Some of that is at use in these images. Certain shades of pink, white and magenta, have a calming effect for several minutes, then the psychology changes for some reason and causes agitation. I think the scientists were trying to point out that the colour of a thing has an influence, separate from the shape. Maybe a compliment, or an opposite. All colours have a psychological effect.

  2. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    That’s interesting. I think there are a lot of colour theories. It wasn’t taught at the schools I went to and I never looked it up. I guess, the proof if any is to observe someone looking at the painting.

    I generally like to look at pinks, oranges. Pale blues. I really like sepia tones, shades of gray (you paintings in black and white), but for some reason, I don’t think I’ve ever done a painting in all shades of any one color. I’m like a kid with a box of crayons. I go for the pink and after that I’ll colour with the closest crayon, no matter what colour it is.

    I definitely found the painting calming at first, but if I found it less calming the longer I looked at it, it could be the expression in the eyes, or making note of the yellows contrasting with the pinks. Colors for mind control. Sssshh, don’t tell the government.

    • graphicanthropology Says:

      I did have several shows with this group of paintings, there are over 100 of them, they are collectively called “Domesticated”. I was able to observe reactions to them. Three of the six shows I did asked me to please remove them, ‘now’, after a few days. Even though the establishment owners really enjoyed them, they did get under someone’s skin. They are mostly from the mid to late 1990’s, but still seem to catch people today. Anthropology before I went to school for the subject. Observations on Homo Sapiens Domesticus. An ongoing project, there are new ones too.

  3. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    You must paint non stop. 100! Acrylic? I guess some people might find them uncomfortable to be around, I can’t imagine why, but then again, I paint funeral parlors. With dolls. That would be an interesting project to take further. They wouldn’t let me photograph the embalming room, I was kind of relieved.

    • graphicanthropology Says:

      The domesticated paintings are all oils. Some on canvas, but most on found pieces of plywood or masonite. I guess I do paint quite a bit. I started the sign business quite young and have had a studio to work in most of the time.
      These paintings frequently move towards the darkest nature of humanity. Murder, suicide and cannibalism are all subjects of the work, they make me uncomfortable too at times.

  4. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    There is a lot to see and read on you site, I’m working my way through it, there’s a lot i haven’t seen yet. If there were cannibalism paintings maybe it didn’t read that way to me because I’m sure it was done with humor, I don’t think you are building the Hansel and Gretel oven in there.

    I’ve always thought sign painters had a bit of an edge as artists, ever since a teacher explained what a rigging brush was and suggested we try it for fine details and lines, I can imagine the concentration and surety of line confidence one would develop.

    As I have felt up to doing more, I have several projects going, mostly drawings, but some drawings I want to plan out as paintings and could use more flat surfaces. Even with the work bench, drafting table, easel and coffee table (coffee table too crowded, it’s also where I eat and keep track of paperwork) I can really see how great it would be to have a separate studio, a large one.

    • graphicanthropology Says:

      I always try to dress up the truth with humour, or with beauty. Mainly with the idea that the truth is too hard to look at directly. Its more easily swallowed if its nicely covered.
      I learned a great deal about painting techniques from sign painting. Freehand straight lines, circles, repeated over and over until it becomes second nature. Colour mixing, and perspective, pin-striping trucks with a single haired brush. It was great having a large studio set up primarily for painting anything. I’m now condensed into half of my apartment, with piles of stuff on coffee tables, and any other flat surface I can find.

  5. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    Oh, the piles. Since I started drawing, the little piles are flourishing. I tried straightening up… just seems like several projects require several separate spaces. Sometimes when I knock a pile over, I don’t pick it up right away, because I’m going to knock it over again. But today, I really will try. I going to have to straighten up to find those electronic bills anyway.

    Must be great to paint with a single hair. Do you have a single hair brush, or did you cut something up? I guess that would be a rigging brush? I should go get one. I did purchase a foam tip “brush” but I haven’t used it yet. I’m awful about not cleaning brushes and points don’t last.

    The day I used the compass for the circle, I enjoyed watching the line so much. Even to use one of those plastic templates to get a perfect circle. Adventure. Some people climb mountains, jump out of airplanes……I try a new tool.

    • graphicanthropology Says:

      When I was sign painting full time the main brush was the quill. The good ones are actually quills from the feathers of different birds and the are fitted with sable hair. Very expensive, but the only way to go for lettering. They can range in price from $30-$200 per brush. The single haired brushes I usually made from quills that were losing most of their hair anyway. You can also get an actual pin striping brush for that purpose, it has a long triangular tip rather than the square edge of a quill. Nowadays I mostly use cheap brushes from the dollar store, 6 different sizes for a dollar. I don’t have to worry as much about cleaning them, unless I find a particularly good useful shaped one.
      I don’t often paint signs now, nobody wants to pay any more than what they would pay for a computer vinyl cut sign. And I’m not willing to give them handcrafted work for the same price as a mass produced computer letter. But in a pinch, if I really need the cash, I do still paint signs. Customers love them when they see the finished product, nothing like a computer sign, the paint lasts 10 times longer than the vinyl, but they still won’t pay more.

  6. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    I’ve had some brushes soaking for several days. I just rinsed them off. Not on purpose, just too tired. On two of them, I’d soaked off some but not all the glue in the ferrule. I realized I was pulling the hairs out. I didn’t know they extended that far into the brush. I’m going to tape them onto the handle, one of them I think with a little fiddling would make a good tiny point.

    I don’t think I’ve ever used a quill brush. I’m going to have to look these things up. I can go a whole lifetime and not know the most obvious things. It’s the oxygen thing, maybe.

    I have more brushes than I know what to do with, in varying stages of usability. My pride and joy is the new small sable (I didn’t look at the price, I knew it was more than I should pay). I really want to use and I want to try one more time to be careful with just this one brush. I did also get a couple of cheap ones. One way or the other, right?

    I had a friend who used to paint fabric designs with guache. He used one brush for everything. Might have been sable. It was bushy, but with water, the tip came to a fine point.

    That’s too bad. Even when someone knows it is not only custom crafted, but obviously better looking and more durable, they still won’t pay. Maybe they don’t think they will be in business long enough to need a durable sign. I’ve sold a few things for less in a pinch, too. A sale is a sale. I once did a sign on spec, and the guy got angry and started screaming at me I was trying to rip him off for a lousy $75. I had scanned in the by hand elements, and took it to a shop and had it printed on foamcore. It was really nice, I was so upset I threw out the whole project.

    I knew someone who said for something really tiny she would use one of her cat’s whiskers. I used to have cats, the whiskers were pretty sturdy.

    • graphicanthropology Says:

      I think for most work its the artist and not the brush that makes the difference. Its easy to quickly spend a lot of money on art supplies but I’ve never found expensive means better. The quills for lettering are the only ones I would invest a lot of cash into, its difficult to do good lettering without them. The quill is actually the ferule part of these brushes. Once you start using them they have to be kept in oil to keep the hair inside the quill from drying out. They aren’t any good for water based paints.
      Chinese lettering and painting brushes are really good for the pointy fine detail too. They are usually quite bushy and go to a point at the end, but they hold a lot of ink. Good for fabric or rice paper.

  7. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    I messed up my Chinese brushes a long time ago by using them with oils. Dumb move.

    It’s true, it’s the artist, not the brush. I love an art supply store though. I bought everything under the sun when I had money. Some of it I use, still years later, some stuff got old and unusable, some was stuff I never needed in the first place.

    I’ve got all kinds of things to draw with. I saved them, unlike acrylics they don’t dry up or go bad if I never used them, but now it is good to have them. As because now I can actually draw and will actually enjoy using them instead of collecting them. You know, if I live long enough.

    Of late, I can draw or doodle with a mechanical number 2 pencil and white eraser pencil and I am so impressed with myself. It took me so long to just scratch the surface, but now that I’m pretty sure I have at least done that, it’s really nice.

    When I was starting out, though, I didn’t know what I was doing in any area really. The fundamentals of drawing and painting, I understood but could not get my hands and brain to work together to do them, and the idea that I could accomplish many things with few or cheap supplies I did not understand either. It takes many years to know what’s worth investing in as far as equipment and supplies. For me, anyway.

    I grew up really poor, as well, so you know, everything was cheap, cheap and many things I did without, I wanted the best for once in my life. Although, of course, it improved my ability not much.

    • graphicanthropology Says:

      I love art supply stores too, wishing I could afford to try everything. There is one near here that has a display of ‘high-end’ spray paint cans for the graffiti artists. Every colour in the rainbow.
      Your right, pencils don’t go bad or dry up. Its were I started in art. Drawing was something I could do anywhere. Like in math class, drawing eyeballs in the margins instead of equations. I also found Bic pens made great drawings. Most of the work I do now with pencil is with very soft leads, 3b to 9b, I find the depth of shadows I like with those. Its almost the same technique as watercolour, drawing away from the subject.

  8. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    I hate to agree with you all the time, you’ll think I’m agreeable. But usually I don’t agree with anyone about anything so it’s such a relief to say I agree and mean it. Anyway, I also like the soft, dark pencils. I’ve used a 6B but for some reason I don’t think I’ve ever used a 9B and don’t think I have one. I have some Ebony pencils.

    I’m not much for scraping at pencils with knives, grind the hell out of them, so the mechanical is good because I don’t have to sharpen it. Was it you who said if you keep turning as you draw the pencil stays sharp? If I could get in the habit of that, that would be good. I use an electric/battery sharpener, great for colored pencils.

    i always hated the pencils you had to peel off. We had to use those in life drawing class. I was in a hurry, tired, didn’t feel well and nine times out of ten I’d peel too far and have to start all over again. The art schools must own stock in peel pencils and newsprint. I still can’t stand the look or feel or smell of newsprint, but I’ll get over it.

    It’s always good to have a white pencil, I’m not sure what kind is better or is used for what. I have a china white, a colored pencil white and a charcoal white. They are running short.

    I was watching your mixing paint video again, it still makes me laugh. The mixing part is very helpful. You do it so calmly. I have the same tiny palette knife. From years ago, I still use it. I have a collection of them, we did some knife painting in one of my classes, so of course I bought five or six of them and maybe used one. I usually mix paints with a brush and wonder why the brush is always gunked up and the puddles of paint all turn brown.

    My absolute favorite thing is the tin can brush cleaner thing with the screen inside and the handle, the airtight top. When I saw it in the art supply store, I didn’t know what it was. And I saw more of them, including some very large ones. And they were hugely expensive. So beautiful and shiny. I wanted one, but …what was it? I obviously figured it out, because I bought the smallest one. It’s screen thing has gone rusty, but that’s okay. I know I could could use a tuna can with holes punched in it for the same purpose.

    I’m sure you are supposed to use a separate brush for each color, I usually dip and wipe with turp, which probably hastens the demise of the brush. And keep on using the same brush unless I need to change sizes. I don’t know why anyone thinks art is not work.

    Spray paint. Yes. I was in an art supply store recently, Very disappointing. Small store, and everything was a mess, but hundreds of spray cans. Some kid was buying 100 of them, put it on a credit card. He saw me give him a look and he told the cashier (who sells this stuff all the time and doesn’t care) “My birthday is coming up.” Yeah, sure. It’s against the law here to sell spray paint to anyone under 18. Doesn’t matter to me. I have more respect for the kids that spray on walls than the kids who sit in their cushy classes and pretend to be gangsta taggers.

    Speaking of graffiti, I occasionally play around with 3d lettering. I was musing about combining grafitti with medieval illunination theme. Letters, words, pictures, style…I’m not sure. But it could be interesting.

    By the way, when you did the sunflolwer, did you freehand all the curved lines?

    • graphicanthropology Says:

      I always use a utility knife to sharpen the pencils, then a piece of sandpaper to keep it at a point if that’s what I need. I find I can get a longer point on the pencil than with the electric, it lasts longer.
      Art can definitely be work. Even small images, when it isn’t as physical, require a lot of mental work. I’ve taught watercolours before and watched as beginner adults try to draw something for the first time since grade school. Beads of perspiration running off their furrowed brow, groaning and grunting, you might think they were lifting weights instead of a piece of charcoal. I’m sure a lot of people don’t try because they are afraid of what it might say about them, and art in general. It does require concentration over time, something I see is lacking in today’s culture. Or should I say concentration is focused more on things like playing a video game for 6 hours. But I think everyone has an artist in them, its in our genes, some more so than others. I’ve watched people who are unable to draw anything but stick figures progress to painting beautiful watercolours that are saleable. I always saw it as removing the mental block most people have against art. Humour always helped, and music in the classes. I’ve never taken art in school so I had no idea what ‘art class’ should be like. My students seemed to enjoy it though. I had senior citizens sitting in a candle lit classroom listening to Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, and attempting to draw in the dark with charcoal, they loved it, broke through the barriers. I actually did this with all the classes at one point or another. They would completely forget their daytime troubles.
      The sunflower’s structure I used a protractor. I had one sitting on my bench and it was the right fit, the right size for the paper. I would usually use a set of compasses for circles. If they are to be perfect I mean. I can do it freehand but it takes longer, and probably wouldn’t be as perfectly lined up the way a sunflower actually looks. I’ve been working on it and it is quite the optical illusion, a spiral that goes both ways, plus each little section has to be shaded three dimensionally, it takes concentration. I’m doing it without looking at any sunflowers though. Not sure about the petals. I was more interested in the geometry for this one.

  9. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    I should really give that knife sharpening thing a try.

    It is kind of funny to watch people who think they “can’t do it.” Too bad, really, because I love watching people’s first attempts or first attempts since kindergarten. I try to talk my friends into drawing a pciture for me, but they make a face. Someday, when one of them is here, I’m going to hand out a pencil and a piece of paper and demand they at least draw a square or a circle.

    People are strange. They really believe it’s just some magical power. You have it or you don’t. But if they are so sure it’s some kind of magical power, they shouldn’t feel like someone will criticize them if they can’t do it. I guess it brings up all kinds of things. Not being good at something, afraid they will accidentally give away some secret about themselves. If people are so sure you don’t have to be any too bright to do artwork, why can’t they do it?

    I’m sure its fun to watch the seniors nodding along to Pink Floyd. “We don’t need no education…..” We used to have Pink Floyd parties. We’d hang a pink balloon pig from the ceiling and play The Wall. And smoke…cigarettes…Maybe the seniors would enjoy some brownies.

    One of my art teachers, who hadn’t gone to art school either, said I shouldn’t go at all, or at least go to the cheapest school. I think it was the best for me, because I wasn’t well enough to have kept at it. As it was, I missed most of my classes. I either couldn’t go or spent all my time in the smoking lounge. Or the art supply store. I used to wander all over the Manhattan for hours. Sometimes I ran into actual artists to talk to. We talked about everything but art. They wanted to talk about their lives.

    A steam pipe broke in my bathroom ceiling this morning. I had to call the powers that be. No one answered, but half an hour later, the plumber, three assistants, the super, the building rep and the real esate agent showed up. I thought I was having party. The plumber and super showed up first, the rest came after they realized there was extensive damage, insurance and all that.

    The handyman will be here tommorrow to patch up the hole. And plaster. Then he’ll have to come back in a few days to paint when the plaster is dry. I’m not sure he will even come tomorrow, because the ceiling has caved in before. He waited a couple days for everything to dry. He is not very good at what he does at all. I could do the same job, maybe a little better. I don’t plaster that well, but he is even worse. I don’t care, it’s not my wall. As it is, I have to paint and plaster over a big crack in the kitchen wall. It was a tiny little crack twenty years ago when I threw a pot at it, but it’s gotten a lot wider since then. I could make them do it, they don’t know I threw a pot, but I don’t like to have them in here. The owners are a horror. The grandparents passed, the father just passed and now it’s up to the daughter who is not very nice. She steals from the tenants. Fortunately, she did not show up this morning. Sleeps all day and wakes up long enough to count her father’s money.

    But its going to be a drag. Because I don’t know exactly what time, what day, etc. They do not have the keys. They are supposed to but I changed the locks. I changed the locks because they are not supposed to come unannounced unless there’s an emergency, but they do anyway. They know they don’t have the key, but for the moment they are not going to admit they tried to enter when I wasn’t here becasue I threatened to sue for trespass. We’ll see how this goes. I was’t going anywhere anyway, except to walk the dog. I told them that — I’m never gone for more than 10 or 15 minutes. This is an old building, this has been going on for years with repairs, and them trying to sue me and charge me for things I didn’t do, etc., it has been very difficult to concentrate in here. They have mostly left me alone since I was in the hospital. They should really be ashamed of themselves.

    • graphicanthropology Says:

      I think most seniors would feel a lot better if they could have the right kind of brownies and paint pictures all day and listen cool music. And I think a lot who don’t want to try artistic endeavours really are afraid of giving something away about themselves. Trying to get them to abstract is like pulling teeth. Its something from the inside of their mind, it really can say a lot about a person.
      And I think we have similar landlords. I have been tempted to paint cracks onto the walls. Maybe even a hole right through it showing the park across the street. But they would probably try to sue me for damages. They are never happy with just getting their rent.

    • graphicanthropology Says:

      Be extra careful using a knife to sharpen pencils, I’ve been doing it for a long time. I have cut myself before, years ago now though. It just takes practice.

  10. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    I wasn’t serious about the knife. I have slipped up cutting things even when I was paying attention. I have to pick my battles.

    Yes, landlords. I used to take everything so seriously, now I realize they are bluffing and I hold all the cards. Once I got the hang of it, it wasn’t complicated. I figure out a way to turn things around. They used to complain my dog got in the way of the repair people. I told them if they or anyone who worked for them injured my dog in any way I would sue them for animal cruelty. That’s really the major reason I don’t want them in here. My dog had some kind of strange hip injury a couple of years ago, that took a long time to heal, and I have always suspected someone kicked her. Sometimes I just make up stuff the way they do. Now they know I know how to play the same game they don’t bother me as much.

    If they were honest with me in general, it would save us both a lot of trouble. They seem to deliberately choose to act in such a way as to insure they end up losing money and making themselves and everyone else just furious. They really should replace the plumbing altogether, but they don’t and it costs them more in the long run, because it causes a lot of damage to the floors and wall. It seems to bother them so much to take care of their building. I remember when I rented it, I thought this building is so ugly. It”s got to be the ugliest building I have seen in the whole city,

    What a great idea, wish I thought of painting cracks in the wall. They would die. I’m not allowed to paint. Ridiculous. When I first moved in, I didn’t even know the landlords were supposed to paint. The lease said, if the tenant painted, the landlord would pay for the paint. Now they don’t want me to paint because then I have the hassle of failing an inspection. …..Someone in this position, since the walls are white anyway, would certainly just paint. And really, they don’t want to paint, just part of the game, so of course they are perfectly happy should someone do this. These people are a perfect example of why I deplore the demise of culture, should they apply themselves to drawing, some piano playing, something of pleasure, they would not be uselessly bored and hostile schemers.

    My landlords think they are doing me a favor to accept the rent. As the neighborhood “gentrified” what they have found is people who can afford to move will, guess what, move. So they lose a certain amount of money in between tenants. Nothing is ever vacant for more than a month, but I have seen over the years, people are less and less willing to put up with their behavior.

    They have a strange relationship with all the tenants.They seem to think they own us. Want to go in and out with no notice, pocket small items they find amusing, be rude in a way they would never be to someone else they are doing business with, they think of us as family. The poor relations they look down on. They have these fantasies I hang out here all day nibbling brownies and engaging in general debauchery. I was always so tired, when she came banging on the door, I just answered in my pajamas. I mean, really, what was she hoping to find? At one time, I put all my ghouls out. When you walked in, they were staring at you from everywhere. One stood high up on the armoire looking down, another sat in a chair facing the door, and so forth. I had about four of them all trained at the door. The repair people were scared to come in here. Thought I was nuts, which was a good thing. I’m not sure they realize I paint these things.

    That’s interesting seniors won’t do abstract. I didn’t want to do abstract because I thought anyone looking at it would think I was pretending to do abstract because I didn’t know how to really draw. I was always very insecure about my drawing ability. I didn’t have a second to waste with abstract because I was so far behind. Now that I feel I can really draw, I enjoy making random shapes and adding shadows to make the three dimensional. It’s very relaxing.

    I understand to abstract something, that’s interesting, but all the way abstract, I don’t know. I don’t lile Pollack the much for example, some of his paintings are nice because I like the colors or the energy. And then there’s something like a red sqare painted on a blue diamond. Something like that can be relaxing to look at, like looking a blue sky with no clouds, but I like pictures. I didn’t really want to be any kind of commercial artist, but I knew I wanted to do paintings the expressed something in my head I found intriguing or funny, so even though I knew I wanted to be a painter, I figured I would learn more studying illustration than studying fine arts.

    Maybe I mentioned this before, but I like watching instructionaal videos, your mixing paints for one. And there’s lots of demos on youTube. For some reason, my teachers rarely gave demonstrations. But I love watching them. I might understand what someone is saying or teaching, but I don’t really get it unless I see someone do it at the same time. I’ve always done better with small classes. It would have been interesting to be an apprentice. Many times I wish I had an apprentice. It’s a win/win. I would be spared all the brush washing, to concentrate solely on the painting, and the brush washer would have a chance to use and handle the materials while observing the actual craft and practice of art.

    • graphicanthropology Says:

      Its not just the seniors that have difficulty with abstracts. So many people get stumped with a blank piece of paper or canvas. Making the first mark is difficult. I try to encourage just throwing something down on it, abstract can be just decorative, with the right colours the painting works. I think people are worried about what shapes they may make accidentally.
      I’m glad you enjoy the videos. I have more but haven’t loaded then all to youtube yet. They aren’t all instructional. Whenever I was teaching I always gave a demonstration of what I meant, I figured it was the best way, plus it lets the students know that I do know what I’m talking about.
      Stupid landlords, I swear they must all be related, all over the world it seems.
      I like the ghouls on guard idea. If I had some I would probably do the same thing. As it is, the first thing people see when they walk in my door is usually one of my more ‘dangerous’ paintings, right now its ‘The Last Supper’ with their favourite messiah yelling at them. And Judas hanging from a rope in the corner. Its a fairly large painting 4 feet by 3 feet. People either love it, get it, and start giggling with glee, or they suddenly don’t want to be here at all.

  11. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    When I was in life drawing class, I drew a male model. When I looked at what everyone else did, I realized I was the only one who drew the entire anatomy, and with remarkable ease…..well, I thought, geez….was I the only one who would admit to having made enough of an acquaintance to include it in the drawing? I guess I was able to draw it because I didn’t really care what anyone would make of it.

    I think every landlord should be greeted with such an image. It does sound funny. Considering some of the awful thing people do and say, it’s really a wonder a picture can bother them so much, I guess they look in the mirror and deny what they see.

    One of the plumber’s assistants was looking at The Wake, and he said (he doesn’t entirely speak English and I’m not entirely fluent in Spanish) and he said/asking “Some people don’t like that. It’s a beautiful painting, But some people don’t like that.” I think he himself had mixed feelings, he told me he was Catholic. So maybe he thought he shouldn’t like it, and wanted to know if other Catholics found it offensive. And then he was curious to know if I could draw from my head, and I said a little. It’s something I’m getting better at and I enjoy it, and even though I was often disappointed I couldn’t do it at all, I didn’t think I absolutely had to know how to be an artist. I could be wrong.

    When he was leaving, I asked him if he wanted a small drawing I had done the night before. It was a jest er clown doll with a little girl doll in a red velvet dress and hat. He seemed really happy with it. It’s nice when people enjoy looking at what I do and feel good about having something of their own that I did. It’s a good feeling, like putting out a plate of brownies.

    • graphicanthropology Says:

      I like the analogy. Art is the dessert for a life spent doing the plumbing. And I think good art only happens when the artist doesn’t dwell on what others will think. But I always find myself wondering that when I’m finished. Maybe I should put more ice-cream and chocolate syrup on my work. I’ve been told they are hard to look at, even by people who really like them, unnerving. I mean them to be difficult subjects, ‘eat your vegetables’ type of work. I’ll give you dessert after you look at this.

  12. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    I guess you can get immune to something. I remember when I got the idea for the wake, at the second wake I had been to in a month (significant passings), I could not believe the totally bizarre rug pattern and stage curtain behind the coffin and all the theatre of people coming and going, the phony cryer who grasped the cold dead hands and pretended to weep.

    I found myself thinking, “Well, I’d like to do that, would really, really like to do that, but……no.” And then I thought about it some more. I just allowed myself to imagine, well, let’s see, if I was going to do that painting, what would I put in it? Which dolls would I use? Maybe I shouldn’t use the dolls, and then I thought there is no question absolutely everyone would be horrified to look at a funeral parlor with a coffin and a bunch of dolls in it. And then I started to smile. And then I think I laughed.

    And then it took me three years to work up the nerve to call the funeral parlor and ask the director if I could take photos for some research. He said sure. I was in luck, there was a funeral that day, so I got a coffin (no body), he opened the casket for me, I had no film left….I said I could go across the street and get film, he said, no, we have to put this wake together, but I have a polaroid, so he let me take a picture with that. So the funeral director had a hand in the painting. I don’t know who the corpse was.

    So, I can imagine people finding a painting unnerving, but I can’t imagine as me, me this particular artist, not doing something because of what someone would think. If i had to worry about what people think, I would never have done my favorite paintings, and I think I would find the work boring. I certainly would not have spent a lifetime studying, painting, drawing, failing time and time again in pursuit of the well, what? I have a feeling sometimes, somebody has to say these things.

    I like the original Dick and Jane children’s books, (never cared for Dr. Suess or Sendak, either) but the the kind of illustrations that really horrify me are the watery pictures in some children’s books, I’m not sure what the style is called, a fairly loose drawing with happy cows and beaming suns and everything wearing an over-sized stick figure smile. I can’t bear to look at them.

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