Magical mystery tour of a different ilk
I am announcing today a new artist’s statement. If you want to see a sample of my work, there are two watercolor cats at the Swiss Cottage Library in London that were a part of a show I had at Arlington Arts Center in Arlington Virginia a few years ago called Cat’s on the Washington Post. I painted a bunch of cats on the daily newspaper and placed them into a basket and referred to it as kitty litter. People liked the art and I nearly sold every piece in the show.
Patrons asked if I ever paint anything else, and I replied that my artist’s statement for this show restricted my work to cats on newspapers.
“Can you also paint dogs,” one person asked?
I winced and replied that I have the ability to paint dogs though I lack passion for them.
Last winter, I tried something different. I visited the home of a person that I have never met. I spent the night as a guest in the town of Bath England. I painted five paintings inspired by the lovely home and left them in various locations near their inspiration.
I discovered that examining a person’s surroundings can provide unique insight about them. I still have yet to meet this person who is a friend of a friend, though she has my paintings and through second hand communications I know they have been suitably framed.
So, to repeat and expand the experience I have developed a new statement.
All summer long, I have been painting trees. Now, it is time for a new theme.
I paint watercolor sketches, fast paintings from portable watercolor kits of various types, often painted on small paper though sometimes I am inspired to work larger. What I like to do with great passion is to visit a stranger’s house as an overnight guest while the resident is away.
I arrive in the late afternoon and begin at once to survey the residence to learn as much about the person living there as I can. Then, I produce paintings that are my impressions of the person and that leverage their artifacts as stimuli. Typically, I produce five paintings that I leave behind for my guests to discover upon their return after I have gone.
I spend the night in the home and try not to disturb anything, though I typically ask that a water kettle and cup and saucer are provided for my tea. I will bring my own snacks as well.
I request that no dogs be present, though I don’t mind a cat so long as the cat knows that I am working. Birds must be kept in cages too.
While I am there, I may paint a couple of paintings for my keeping. When I am finished your paintings are yours for hanging, showing, resale, or discarding as you wish.
I perform this work for a fixed fee established as my day rate. If international travel is required, I may request prorated expense sharing if there are other engagements in the vicinity. Sometimes, I negotiate expenses to the satisfaction of my client.
I sometimes paint at parties where I have been present as an incognito guest or as celebrity guest such as Rembrandt, for instance. Rembrandt didn’t work in my medium, but I am sometimes inspired by him in not so subtle ways. Discovery and enchantment are a part of the process.
My audiences and critics are throughout the world, though I am often their best kept secret.
You can see some of Georgia O’Keefe’s leaves here. She just did leaves. I do the entire tree and woods.
“The first international exhibition organized by The Phillips Collection to feature an overview of the museum's renowned American collection, To See as Artists See incorporates nearly 100 works by 68 artists, including outstanding paintings by George Inness, Winslow Homer, Maurice Prendergast, John Sloan, Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, Stuart Davis, Milton Avery, Jacob Lawrence, Adolph Gottlieb, Philip Guston, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Motherwell, and many others. Since its opening in 1921, the Phillips has been an active champion of American art, singling out artists who followed their own vision independent of fashionable styles and schools. Its collection of American masterworks celebrates the very best of American art from the late 19th through the 20th centuries.”