I’ve painted this bar before. I painted it again for some reason–honestly, I can’t remember exactly why. Someone asked me to. Anyway, here it is, in its crazy red glory. I’m auctioning it off for charity on eBay along with a bunch of other paintings of New York, and one painting of a famous New Yorker.
You can read more about why I’m auctioning off paintings for charity here.
I’m auctioning a bunch of paintings on eBay and donating 100% of the sales to charity. You can go to eBay to see all the paintings. A few days ago I posted another New York painting and said that it was my favorite, but I changed my mind: I think this one is my favorite. I’ll miss it. It’s one of the strange things about painting, as opposed to writing books: Artists sell their paintings and never see them again, but writers always have their books around (sometimes we have more copies than we want! Boxes and boxes of them!)
Here’s a little 8 x 8 painting of Park Avenue, looking toward Grand Central Station. I’m auctioning this painting on eBay to raise money for the American Refugee Committee. Here’s a link to all the paintings I’m auctioning off for charity. They get 100% of the proceeds–every penny–automatically through eBay’s charity program.
You can read more here about why I’m auctioning off paintings for charity at this particular moment in time.
How long has it been since I’ve posted a painting? Forever, right? Well, I’m always painting–I just don’t necessarily do anything with them. They tend to stack up. That’s the difficulty with an artistic pursuit like oil painting. What do you do with them once they’re finished? If I were a professional artist, I would photograph them, submit them to a gallery, list them for sale online–but that’s administrative work, and I have WAY too much administrative work already in my life as a writer. I want to paint, but I don’t want to do all the other stuff painters have to do to sell their work. (See: Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic, Shit Sandwiches)
Well, now I have an answer. I’m auctioning the paintings off for charity. I’m channeling my election-fueled anxiety in a new direction that solves a whole bunch of problems all at once. It goes like this:
(1) Stay away from the news until 6 PM. I call this the 1995 Before 6 Plan. Before 6 PM, I can only look at news sources I was looking at in 1995, which means that in the morning, I listen to NPR and read the paper (like, the real paper that gets tossed on my doorstep), and that’s pretty much it until the end of the day. This makes for a remarkably pleasant day. You should try it. When 6 PM rolls around, I go back to my Twitter/Facebook/Politico-fueled insanity. But 6 PM also happens to be the hour I’m allowed to start drinking, so it works out.
(2) With all that free time during the day, make some art! Why not?
(3) Sell that art in an auction to benefit a charity doing some actual good in the world. So you see, I get to have a nice time making some art, and I get to disconnect from the insanity of current events (at least before 6!), but good deeds still get done, and small steps still get taken toward solving the world’s problems. I’m just not obsessively agonizing over those world problems all day long.
So. To that end, I’m auctioning off ten paintings in December to benefit the American Refugee Committee. The donation happens automatically through eBay’s charity program, so you don’t have to wonder if I’ll actually get around to donating the money. I won’t ever even see the money. The charity gets 100% of your purchase price–every penny.
I’m calling this first round “Nine New York Scenes and One Famous New Yorker.” You can go here to bid, and to see who the famous New Yorker is.
I intend to continue doing this. It’s very pleasant to make art, but it’s even more pleasant–thrilling, actually– to make art for a REASON. I am painting for YOU, and for a good cause. It is truly such a delightful way to put in my time, even (especially) in this tumultuous age.
So please, follow me on eBay by clicking “Add to my Favorite Sellers” so you can be notified of new listings, and stay tuned for new charity auctions in the new year. I’ll also post updates on Facebook if you’re following along there.
Here’s my favorite painting from this first round:
Without really meaning to, I’ve done a whole series of New Yorkers with their phones. This guy was reading something on his phone after lunch in Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library. I love it that his shoelaces matched his phone case!
The Manhattan skyline as seen from the Newark airport. Who knew they had such interesting views?
6 x 12, oil on cradled wood panel with sides painted black. See this and other paintings at DailyPaintworks.
8 x 10 oil on cradled wood panel. See this and other paintings at DailyPaintworks.
Ladybird is a Buff Orpington with a sweet disposition and an amazing capacity for egg-laying. She’s also very eager to sit for portraits.
Available for sale through DailyPaintworks
Gangsters! And assorted other criminals and associates. This is my attempt to get better at painting faces. All 8 x 8, oil on cradled art board. If you want to see the paintings, they’ll be at Eureka Studio Arts in December. The show opens Saturday, December 7 from 6-9 PM.
I’ve been painting for over ten years, thanks to Linda Mitchell’s weekly class, but I’ve always avoided faces. I found them frustrating and, to be honest, not as interesting as cityscapes, which is what I really want to paint. But then I took a workshop with an amazing painter named Kim English, and we spent an entire day on the planes of the face. Understanding the architecture of the skull, and the way the light falls across it, really got me thinking about faces in a way that I hadn’t before. So I decided to do a series of faces and really figure this thing out.
The idea to paint mugshots is not my own. Another great painter I’ve studied with, Karin Jurick, did a series called BUST-ED for much the same reason – she really wanted to work on faces. But I decided to take a slightly different approach. I found a website about gangsters from the early twentieth century and a lot of their mugshots were posted. I thought it would be fun to paint these gangsters, in black and white or another monochromatic palette, so I could focus on the form and not have to think too much about skin tone.
There are some famous mugs here, including Al Capone, Whitey Bulger, and John Dillinger, as well as some anonymous mugshots and press photos from the black-and-white era. A few are not actually gangsters, but they’re associated with the era and I thought their faces were interesting. The goal was not to glorify or glamorize these guys — many committed monstrous crimes — I just wanted an interesting set of faces to work from, and these were certainly interesting.
After a while, I decided I ought to move into color. Rather than do ordinary criminals as Karin Jurick did, I thought I would focus on modern day gangsters — the white-collar criminals who destroyed lives, communities, and entire economies in the pursuit of even greater riches than they already had. I’m sure you’ll recognize Bernie Madoff, Kenneth Lay, and Humboldt County’s favorite, Charles Hurwitz. Some, I should emphasize, are drawn from press photos and not mug shots.
I’m certainly more confident with faces after doing thirty of these. There were a few that I wiped off in frustration, but these are displayed in the order they were painted (left to right, top to bottom) and there is a progression of sorts. And as with any kind of painting, it’s amazing the things you notice when you look at something closely. Some of the people in these mugshots had been beaten right before their picture was taken. And to my surprise, I kept having to add more red around Kenneth Lay’s eyes to match the picture. I finally realized that he might have been crying right before the picture was taken.
Not that we should feel sorry for Kenneth Lay. It’s just an observation. And that’s what painting is all about — observation.
An interior of Little Branch, a bar I love to visit when I’m in New York. 8 x 10, oil on wood panel, slots in the back make it easy to hang on a nail unframed. $150 plus shipping. To order or look at other paintings, visit my DailyPaintworks gallery.