|"Diner Goddess," oil on canvas, 68"x44" 2012|
One of the most famous moments in movie history comes when Bogie chucks Bergman under the chin, looks at her lovingly and says: “Here’s lookin’ at ya, kid.” I think about that scene every once in a while when I’m working on a painting. When the figures on the canvas communicate with me (or each other) I know things are going right. I’m a great believer in “eye contact” in general. That’s why I never read notes when I lecture; I need to look my listeners in the eye to see if they understand me.
I’m intrigued with an artist’s ability to create life out of inanimate materials; it’s almost a God-given power, like Michelangelo’s depiction of God touching Adam’s hand on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. You see the beginnings of this kind of contact thousands of years ago in Prehistoric cave paintings, where the realistic depiction of animals was meant to bring them to life for the hunt. In one of my earliest blogs, I related the (apocryphal) story about the Renaissance sculptor, Donatello, who was known to scream at his statues “Talk! Damn you! Talk! It was as if he were performing an act of magic, infusing life into a piece of stone. I often do not regard a painting finished until the moment the figures come alive. They don’t have to talk only to me; I’m not possessive. I’m perfectly happy if, like Bogey and Bergman, they talk to each other.
|Detail from Lower East Side |
polyptych, oil on canvas, 2014
I love when I am successful at bringing someone to life on canvas: I dance around the room; I sing and talk to my paintings. Many years ago, I did some huge cardboard puppets drawn from local political figures – “Gangsters” I called them. I knew my drawings were complete when the figures spoke to me; unpleasant as they were, I had given them life.
|"Restauranteur" from "Gangster Series." acrylic on box cardboard, 6'x3'|