Saturday, January 7, 2017


Self Portrait as Cat Power: Moon Pix
Blue ballpoint on paper, 12x9 inches, 2017

As one of many New Year's resolutions I decided I would do a self portrait a day. Towards the end of last year I had already started doing the morning pages, stream of consciousness writing geared toward freeing creativity. I found at a thrift store the book The Artist Way by Julia Cameron, a best selling new age self help guide book for blocked artists. Due to an intense teaching schedule I had only made few works in the autumn of 2016. I had nothing to loose. It was a good thing, I'm still doing these three pages each morning in a note book that I had dedicated as a dream journal a few months earlier. The self portraits seem a logic extension to the morning pages. What better way to get back into producing work again than to draw self portraits? Next week I start teaching a drawing class in college and I intend to make the students do a self-portrait-a-day, preferably in the morning. As a teacher to this class I decided I would be a student at the same time, expose myself to the same rigorous regime as I put the students through. I get a fresh start myself in a way. Start over. New year, new beginning. The portraits very quickly turned into a Top 100 extension (as so much of my work does): draw myself as the musicians from the Top 100 appear on their records. I've done it before, some 12 years ago—I was still a handsome fella then—but now as an old man. 

oil on paper, 24x18" 2004 
Anyway... the first one, as it was the first one in 2004, in this context is a Cat Power impersonation. The image I started with is the cover of the Moon Pix album. I've used it several times before for Cat Power portraits, it's lovely image. The artist who created the image is  Roe Etheridge. The image is reproduced in a book that features some of my own works as well. You Should've Heard Just What I Seen was published in 2013. Yesterday I wrote a new artist statement for a job application. It's basically an update from the statement at the header of this page. Here it is in full:

"The Top 100 is an ongoing series of one hundred portrait paintings of musicians and accompanying writings every year since 1989. The simple and straight forward concept of the Top 100 has stayed the same throughout almost 30 years of painting. The premise is the shallow vantage point of a music fan at his insignificant home looking out onto a world of cultural importance. While the context has shifted from a hobby to an activity within contemporary art, the essence has stayed the same. The format is a hermetic system in which everything is open and free to experiment, surprise, failure and excellence, open too to different styles and techniques, emotional expression and introversion. The format is both that of a personal diary and of an impersonal archive charting the music an individual encounters throughout a lifetime. The Top 100 is a testament of a life lived in the margins of notoriety and a historical record of the world of music and the scene of the avant garde. Shameless crushes and adorations of musical heroes provide an intimate yet recognizable account of oneʼs humble existence within an unattainable world bigger than ours. That the paintings of musicians are now shown at the same venues as their objects of desire play in, and the painted portraits appear on the sleeves of the sound recordings they illustrate, does not alter the relationship between object and subject. The artist responsible is still that fan. Itʼs all about them, the others."

I might as well forward some other self portraits I did in the past few days. Nothing to be too proud of, perhaps even a bit embarrassing, but here they are regardless. A note about the Amalia Mendoza one is that I think she's one of the great singers of the 20th century but unfortunately the context of her recordings make it less universally so: Mariachi. There's nothing wrong with mariachi but the Mendoza records (I have four of them) could certainly do without. If I had the time, expertise, and equipment, I would reissue all her records without the mariachi. She would sing unaccompanied or, in some cases, just by an acoustic guitar or piano. Her voice does not need all these happy trumpets. The best self portrait perhaps, thus far, is the one where I substitute Nina Simone's face for my own. The image is from her first record Little Girl Blue.
Self Portrait as Amalia Mendoza: Los Exitos
Blue ballpoint on paper, 12x9 inches, 2017

Self Portrait as Nina Simone: Little Girl Blue
Blue ballpoint on paper, 12x9 inches, 2017

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