Fairyland

Detail from “My Insignificance is Magnificent”, 2016, watercolor on paper

At this stage of my life, off center of a century, I am grappling with ways in which to express my “being-ness”.  Unable to avoid the “who am I” question any longer, I find myself, as a visual artists reaching beyond my usual studio practice of oil painting into diverse disciplines including figures in the round.  The figures are essentially dolls, and are fashioned by fully embracing the pre-conceived sissy element of this art.

It is in this extension of my practice that I am exploring, at this late stage, my identity as a queer and terrified man; the specter of the pansy boy I was, being given new voice in my latest ongoing project “Fairyland”. It is in this new series of projects , where paint, needle and thread give expression and validation to a long suppressed self loathing.
The very name “Fairyland”, a word once delivered with bloody blows, transcends beyond with a message of empathy, compassion. pride, and I hope, humor. Reclaiming the fairy has been empowering. The art I attempt to create is intended to express the spirit of furtive repression breaking free.

Detail from “The Doomed Amphinomos”, 2012, colored pencil on paper

 

 

My Insignificance is Magnificent

It has been a  rough week for my ego, starting on Monday with the withering appraisal of some gym bunnies . I was washing up after my work out and I could just feel their chilly disdain for this goofy, ill-dressed, scrawny, not very fit fellow. I felt ridiculously ashamed and wanted to rush out; but instead , this phrase popped into my head, “my insignificance is magnificent”. So I went back to my dainty, silly bicep curls, finished my work out and then proceeded to the studio to work on this little painting. In between  painting, school and life, I felt buffeted by life’s indifference: I received  several rejections for juried entries that I had hoped to be included in, frankly a   benign snarky comment at school that stung nonetheless and the usual  brutal election year antagonism on FB …that and just recognizing my own limitations artistically which is humbling.  But instead of sinking into my usual depressive funk I instead went to work on this painting. Perhaps it isn’t particularly good  but the mantra “my insignificance is magnificent ” was helpful. 

And that matters.

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My Insignificance is Magnificent

2016

gouache on paper

22 by 15″

That Most Terrible Tree

Given that it is Holy Week and Good Friday is fast approaching, I have been at work on a Deposition of Christ. My friend and fellow LA artist J have been in a bit of a duel, each tackling this well known subject. I’m eager to see what he comes up with, this is my offering, a watercolor on paper,clicking upon the image enlarges it for detailed viewing.

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 Descent from the Cross, I

2015

watercolor on paper

11 by 14 “

My intention was to capture the unimaginable grief of those who had born witness. J and I had stumbled upon an early Renaissance gold-ground image in which the attending angels were painted black. That really stuck with me, how unimaginable the loss, that even angels who have seen it all could not control their grief. 

I started another Descent yesterday morning, this is the scribbling in…

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 I am back in class ( English Comp 1-c) and as usual overwhelmed, hence my cobwebbed  studio.

If I do not post before, Happy Passover and/or Joyous Easter!

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The Green Knight

Given that Saint Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and that I happen to be in the throes of attempting to read as many translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as I can, this still-wet painting/drawing seemed fit to post. 

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 The Green Knight 

2015

graphite and watercolor on paper

11 by 11″

As I mentioned I am on a Romantic frenzy with an emphasis on Gawain and the Green Knight. So far the Simon Armitage translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight seems the most expressive and easily holds one’s attention, it is a real page turner. Thankful to Clive Hicks-Jenkins for introducing me to it.

What I love most is Armitage’s  almost erotic description of the beastly yet seductive Green Knight.  He is clearly a monstrous sight, green of flesh, massive and brutish; yet beautiful, well built and splendidly attired. A radiant greenish-golden yellow glow,save for the flaming red of his eyes, permeates his being. I was seduced immediately. Hence the image. 

In my readings I have come upon numerous interpretations of who or what the Green Knight is. Some have understood his unholy skin color to represent death; some believe he is the devil, yet others believe he is a Greenman or the Greenman’s cousin the wodewose.  I want to believe he is not anything particularly malevolent but instead  an old god, full of contradictions, light and dark, “good” and “evil”. The complicated  duality  that the chivalric court of Arthur found so difficult to comprehend with its rigid codes of behavior.

I have attempted to fit all of Gawains future into the blanket of the Green Knight’s equally green horse. There is the unholy beheading challenge, the castle/sanctuary of  Sir Bertilak ( the Green Knight’s alter ego), the seductive Queen with her charming bosom, and  finally the Green Chapel. The Green Knight and his horse are a writing pulsating tangle of vegetation.

Right now I am reading the latest Penguin translation and next I plan to see what Tolkien thought of this grand tale. The following image, which thankfully I did not see until just a moment ago for fear of undue influence, is from an original manuscript-it’s pretty splendid.

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 Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Herakles and Telephos

In my ever expanding collection of books , I possess a well worn volume that I treasure dearly. It is The Odyssey of Homer,  translated by Alexander Pope and illustrated with lovely line drawings in the manner of Flaxman. As I mentioned, it is in sorry shape, but I picked up this gem for a quarter at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh  many years ago. I confess I haven’t read this translation, the pages are brittle, the text so teeny I can barely focus on the page. I merely enjoy the book ; its fussy attention to detail, each page framed by an elegant red line, its many musty charms. I particularly love the ornamental spot illustration, micro plates , somewhat Greek (sometimes not) in nature,that intersperse the text; they are often enigmatic and always delightful .

One such micro plate inspired this painting/drawing, Herakles and Telephos.

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Herakles and Telephos

2015

graphite and watercolor on YUPO paper

9 by 12″

Initially when I stumbled upon the plate (set neatly between Book  XIV and Book XV) I couldn’t figure out what the hell I was looking at. The image seemed  vaguely surreal in its composition and in its elements: a big headed man, a putto, a doe (with antlers), a strangely phallic cloud and a menacing raptor. But as I began working on my own interpretation I began to realize I was looking at an image of Hercules and his infant son Telephos. In  a nutshell, Telephos born of one of Hercules’ many dalliances, was ill fated, and like the babe Oedipus, sentenced to death, in this case by his fearful maternal grandfather. Our Hero-daddy rescues the boy, entrusting his care to a lactating doe. For a better explanation, this link might help, HERE.

The following is the initial image, blown up quite a bit, the original is the size of a postage stamp; I have no clue as to who the artist was.

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If the original was enigmatic, my interpretation might be more so. I of course retained the phallic cloud, and the doe’s perplexing antlers, but Telephos is no mere babe and the raptor/Zeus ( the boy’s grandad) is no mere bird. I’m not going to analyze the drawing to deeply but let’s just say the notion of a protective father figure resonated for me. Session ended.

In this drawing/painting I experimented with a new material, the synthetic paper YUPO ( link HERE). I was introduced to this paper by another artist who extolled its virtues, namely its ability to take a lot of medium and still remain flat and unwrinkled. It also allows for errors in watercolor to be easily removed. Alas it also allows for details you value to be easily removed. It takes a bit of time for paint to set up, and I must figure out how to work with it. YUPO may not be my go-to paper just now but it does have possibilities I would like to explore. It is marketed as a watercolor paper yet it takes graphite beautifully, the pencil glides upon the smooth surface. The following is the drawing before I added watercolor.

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Today I will be back into the thick of oils and perhaps venture into a hand puppet ( one idea will not leave my head so I better let it out).

Be well,

Lg

Oedipus Rex

I’m taking an English Composition course, I’m hoping to transfer to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and I want to get the academic work out of the way. I gripe about CA but its junior colleges are wonderful and affordable. My last assignment was to write an essay on Sophocles’ play Oedipus the King; what a treat, if one can delight in such abject misery. I enjoy writing and re-reading the play brings me tremendous pleasure. At the end of the day, after researching  source material (the psychoanalyst W.R. Bion, the mythologist  Robert Graves) just  being steeped in the narrative; after such a day of writing and thinking it felt good to just make.

This little watercolor of  the young king beseeching the Delphic Oracle for insight is the result. 

IMG_5727Oedipus Rex

2014

watercolor on paper

5.5 by 8.5 inches

From Grave’s The Greek Myths 2:

“…Oedipus went to ask the Delphic Oracle what future lay in store for him. ‘Away from the shrine, wretch!’ the Pythoness cried in disgust. ‘You will kill your father and marry your mother!’ (105).

With that cheery thought may your day be bright.

Be well, Lg