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.

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