The Loss of Nostalgia

Originally uploaded by Cap'n Pete.

My wife has been busy putting piles of old photos into albums. They've all been organized into seperate sections on top of her sewing table. I look at these photos as my child would. I can hear them asking, "Dad, what happened to all of your hair? You used to be so in shape, you sure dressed like a dork, Dad."

At work, I've been busy taping drywall. I'm mudding the corners with my four-inch knife switching between net tape and carbon tape. It's an art, really. You need to lay down a thin layer of Spackle first, then measure and cut the tape and lay it into the wet Spackle. The tape then must be covered and smoothed with Spackle. The challenge is to cover the tape with the smallest amount of sanding for tomorrow. Carpenters and do-it yourselfers will tell you taping is no fun. It's a pain in the butt. It takes a bunch of patience and a slow hand, but I love it.

The same fascination I had the first day I posted a blog, the first day I saw words that I created on the screen, is the fascination I have taping drywall. It's liberating to know that I could fix a big hole in the wall, or create an entire new wall. I wonder what moments will flower in my child's mind. The smell of sanded Spackle unlocks circumlocutions from my childhood. The dust feels cool when it hits your arms. Your boogers are white.

I listened to audio coverage of the 1968 Democratic Convention today, when the police attacked the crowd of anti-war hippies. Tear gas covered the streets and rose to the fifth floor of the hotel where news anchors, Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite were staying. They cough. Then I hear about the "free" speech zone set aside for protestors this year. People who are crying for peace. People, who are pleading for an end to war, contained by barbed wire and metal fences.

That feeling of self-sufficiency dissipates like rising tear gas. The feeling of growing up, learning things to tell your child, or not being a child becomes meaningless. I look at my wife, filling the photo albums, and I wonder how I'm going to explain this tomorrow.




Originally uploaded by Cap'n Pete.

About six years ago this week, my mother died. She took a half-day from school (she was a fourth grade teacher) to go to the hospital for a Vitamin A shot. She hadn't been feeling well. The doctors at the hospital asked her what she was doing in those clothes. She said I have to get back to school. They said, but you have leukemia, you're going to be here for a while. One month later she died. I had a great relationship with my mother and although her death was too soon, it is acceptable. Parents die. Some sooner than others but it is inevitable. I was 19 at the time and just getting in to really painting.

For the next year my paintings were dealing with the death of my mother in such a straightforward way that the viewer was left with nothing to think or say. It was all right there on the canvas. I might have even written the date of her death on one of the paintings. I was studying Klimt's work at the time so the paintings were covered in flowery designs and eye candy.

The life of my paintings died almost as quickly as my mother. What an odd sentence. Not so odd if you are familiar with the work of Felix Gonzalez Torres, who I promise to post on shortly. He covers the gallery floor with candy that if weighed would weigh the average weight of a human male. As gallery visitors enter they take a piece of candy and the art piece slowly disintegrates, as did Felix's partner from AIDS. You slowly watch the candy on the floor disappear.

I rejected my paintings. I did a painting of a faucet in black and white photo realistically. I'll post it above this post. There was nothing to this painting. No feelings, no dead mom no suffering artist, no dates and definitely no flowers. It was liberating. I stayed on this way for a while.

I realized, after drooling over Odd Nerdrum's paintings, that my work lacked any sense of narrative. It drove me crazy. Again there was nothing to my paintings. So I returned to the basics. I did a portrait of my wife with a rag on her head. It was fascinating. By simply putting a rag on her head, the painting trampled over two or three hundred years of history books and sat down comfortably a long way from today. By subtracting almost everything, no background, no body, and no expression, I found narrative. Why is the person who says nothing always more interesting?

After Jared's eloquent comments on my paintings he asked how the angled backgrounds came about. It was a way of integrating a narrative that could also be applied to the painting while adding another layer to the background. Instead of limiting these portraits to a room of my choice or a colored wall I opened the wall behind them with a second background that should be applied to the painting. For instance The Procuress has Vermeer's painting The Procuress in it's background. This was the only known self portrait of Vermeer, but in my painting I left Vermeer out of the painting, in a move to subtract the painter completely from the painting, so that it is Priscilla who now has procured not only the gentleman in the painting but also the original artist (Vermeer) swiftly taking him as well under her possession. It seemed like cheating to me. There was this entire reservoir of narrative that was just waiting to be applied which left a multitude of applications for the viewer as well. Why they are angled I suppose came about as a design intuition. I spend a good lot of my time painting sitting in front of the painting. Paintings need certain things sometimes. You just look at the painting and see where your eye goes and ask why it's going there. The angled backgrounds needed to be there. But I think that Jared's postulation to why they are there are really incredible and accurate and really do affect the paintings in the ways he wrote of.

My only gripe about these paintings is that they are too small. They've begun to take the painting out of painting for me, which perfectly explains my attraction to the bold expressive moves of Diego Rivera. I'm ready to paint with similar dexterity but to a much bigger scale and with more exciting moves. Large exciting paintings are next. I need about two weeks of work to afford some materials, so I should be posting some progress in the near future.



Della Francesca

Originally uploaded by Cap'n Pete.

This painting actually began the series because I was looking through some of Della Francesca's work and realized that he was responsible for much of the perspective theories that we have today as well as many mathematical formulas including formulas of truncation. I decided to truncate the background of one of his paintings in my painting as a kind of visual pun. It is undoubtedly the least successful of the lot.



I'm going nuts

Piggyback, originally uploaded by Cap'n Pete.

Here's a picture of my wife and I.


The Procuress

Here's the first painting I've gotten to work. The background is from Vermeer's The Procuress. This is more of a test than anything else.
Originally uploaded by Cap'n Pete.


Pictures of my Pictures.

Well, the photo's are terrible quality but their on-line at least. I put my video camera on them to feed them into my computer because I do not have a digital camera yet. I then use the Apple+shift+4 mode to take pictures of whatever is on the screen in this case my paintings from the video camera into iMovie. From there I drag them into Adobe Photoshop 7 where I'm sure I could do a whole lot more to them but for now I change the contrast and the brightness and convert the from pdf. to jpeg. where the can be easily uploaded from my desktop to Flickr.com. For some reason I can not upload them to my blog...yet. It keeps telling me I need Flash six or higher and I have Flash 7. I don't understand. But I'm getting closer. We just agreed today to fix a digital camera a friend gave us for $280 bucks. It's a sweet camera though. So for all of you "artists" out there that I have dealt with sternly, now's your chance. Let me have it Jared. The paintings can be found here.




I just signed up with flickr so tomorrow, some way somehow I should be posting some pictures of my paintings. I haven't figured it all out yet but I will tomorrow morning. This should be a link to a golfing photo of myself used for testing purposes only. I had half a head of dreads then.