Monday, September 24, 2012

pennies, baseballs

I'm having this rotten day and a friend just shared with me this website to cheer me up, the homepage of Jacqueline Lou Skaggs, who makes oil paintings on pennies. So my first but short-lived reaction to this was kind of like horror at the thought that this woman spends her time making these beautiful little images on pennies, because as a painter, I tend to put myself in the shoes of other painters and the little story that played back in my head when I saw this penny was the idea that I might spend all day painting something on a penny, using tiny little paint brushes, my eyesight going wonky and my back sore, bent over this penny for a tiny image best seen with a magnifying glass.

I flipped through the paintings quickly at first, zooming past this piece called Last Supper Table, depicting a table, just a table, where I noted briefly that it's a little strange to see a painting of a table and nothing else, but then what do you expect on a penny? Then there's this piece a few pennies down, of a town in the distance with the long rambling title: Through Carelessness He Loses His Cow. And I noted the fact that it's a wheat penny, the ghost of the wheat shape just visible. And so these thoughts then started running through my head:

  1. these paintings have two images on them. Lincoln's head and a bush. The wheat penny, and a little town. The year, 1990 and a table. 
  2. the texture of the pennies are lovely
  3. the fact that each penny comes from a different year is noteworthy, making each piece an individual on many levels
  4. these paintings are nothing but tokens, worth a penny but worth much more
  5. they are tokens I could put in my pocket and take with me, and no one would know I had a painting with me.
  6. I could trade them for other pieces of art, like baseball card trading. 
And then I saw this painting: the baseball one. Ah-hah. Yes, I like these paintings now. Just a painting of a baseball, why would anyone paint a baseball on the ground? It seems to tell no story. Well, I'll tell you why: because it's a painting on a penny. Simple is good. 

And it does tell a story, but most painters would not bother with a fuzzy little image of a baseball on the ground, because larger canvases make good platforms for grandiose ideas. 

But there are some big ideas in this little painting--something about baseball being the American past-time and pennies being American currency. A simple little image of a simple little baseball on our most basic form of currency. 

Can anyone tell me why this is called Four Witches Stand? I'm assuming this a play on the words "for which it stands, one nation under god indivisible" etc... but how is this related to baseball? it's the American past time, and a reference to the pledge of allegiance makes sense, but then where are the four witches coming from? This is a nod to the Salem Witch trials? The crucible? would baseball and the crucible be related somehow?

Crucible->Arthur Miller->Marilyn Monroe->Joe DiMaggio?

thoughts, please.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


So these are the paintings I've been working on for the last few weeks. Actually, you could say that I've been working on these for the last few years. Figuratively, and literally you could say that. They were painted on reused canvases, some of which I laid the foundation for two or more years ago.

They are paintings of home.

I'm sure everyone has complicated feelings about their families. Sometimes I think my family is killing me. I didn't want these to be touching and loving pieces, but I didn't want them to be without love. They are meant to be gritty, messy paintings of the feelings I have about my family. how working so hard for them feels like running up an endless sand dune. But I would do it for them forever. And probably I will.

These pieces are somewhat abstract, somewhat primitive. I've had a hard time working in this style in the past. I have a hard time making paintings that seem raw, genuine. Studying art in college made me overthink my process. I didn't want these pieces to be like that.

Amazing how hard it is to get back to a primitive state. As adults, we refine and refine our actions, behaviors, character.

My daughter has made some of the most lovely poetry and paintings I've ever seen. I don't know if I've ever told her that. But my daughter, who has this primitive, unrefined, chaotic brain, has the ability to be so creative it blows me away. It makes my own paintings