Monday, April 30, 2012

The Tough Mudder just called you a sissy!

(Be sure to check out the Bonus news at the bottom of this post!)

The Tough Mudder for the Carolinas is October 27th and 28th. I'm signing up for the 27th because I'm sure I'm going to need all day Sunday to recuperate! I may be signing up as an individual, but if any of you care to join me a team option is possible.

I only mention the team option because I was talking to the Tough Mudder the other day. I said to her...what? You didn't know the Tough Mudder was a woman? How could you not? All the signs are right there!

Anyway, I says to her, "Toughie, I'm really about to buckle down and start training. There's only five months between now and our date."

Tough smiles that "I'm gonna work you hard" smile. Then she starts to look a little pinched. Like you just came out of her bathroom wearing her father's bathrobe.

"What's wrong," I say, 'cause I'm caring like that.

She says, "You know...."

Alright, I don't want to mention any names. It's not my place to tell you directly. That's between you and Toughie. For this post I will call you "Gopher."

Ok, so, she says, "You know Gopher?"

"Yeah. Everyone loves Gopher."

"Well, I think Gopher is a sissy."

<Gasp> "Jibba whuuuuuu?"

"Just calling it like I see it, Batman."

(That's her nickname for me. I don't know why.)

She says, "Gopher talks a good game but have you ever seen Gopher actually DO anything. I mean REALLY?"

I shift uncomfortably. I don't like talking about people behind their backs. It's un-American. She sees my discomfort and tries to let me off the hook.

"Look, Batman forget about it. I was talking out of turn. Gopher's ok. Just forget I said anything."

But I couldn't get it out of my head. I'm worried about you, Goph. Goaf. Goeph.

I'm worried about you, Gopher. Just...I don't know. Consider stepping up your game a little bit. Maybe you can join me. You don't have to decide now. I'm signing up in 2 weeks. Let's say...Friday the 11th. If you want to join me, we'll do it together. Just you, me and whoever else wants to join us. There's no timer for the event, so you don't have to worry about looking"slow". We just go out there dressed like ninjas or faeries or power rangers or something and show Toughie that you are a strong, active, dedicated human being.

Then again, I'm statin' the obvious when I say that you don't have to prove anything to her. The Tough Mudder is a bitch!

I think, if you're going to do it, Gopher, you're going to do it because the idea of wearing a Power Puff girl costume, dressing as a barbarian, or getting glammed up like one of the cats from Cats just excites you. I mean, why do you think I'M doing it??? And, for the record, I'm leaning toward dressing like characters from Lost. Anyone got dibs on the smoke monster????


I am fat. I don't care. I'm proud of it. In the middle ages having some extra fat on you showed you were prosperous.

"I eat pheasant, peasant. And you are lucky if you eat at all!"

"Posh. Muffy, look how skinny those homeless cretins are." Titter titter titter.

Anyway, I'm assuming that 5 months of training for an obstacle course is going to change my body shape a little, so starting right now I'm going to take a picture of me every day up until the Obstacle Course. I'm probably not going to be naked so put your tongues back in, pervs. Eventually, I'll string 'em together to make the world's least interesting video, but I have to do something with all this artist creativity.

--- Geraud

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Top 5 Must-Have Movies from 80s TV Shows

You're saying to yourself: "What the hell does this have to do with art?"

I'll tell you what, Johnny Questions: EVERYTHING. I may actually draw some of these. Who doesn't love drawing fake movie posters???

If I missed any you think we should have, leave 'em in the comment section!

So, without further ado, and in no particular order:

1. The Fall Guy

The Original Premise:
Hollywood stunt legend Colt Seavers (Lee Majors) moonlights as a bounty hunter, accompanied by his cousin and stuntman-in-training, Howie (Douglas "Never Seen Again" Barr). Also accompanied by the always beautiful Jody (Heather Thomas...or as we called her in school: The Yummy Train). You guys can all probably sing the theme song. Go ahead, sing along. "Well, I'm not the kind to kiss and tell, but I've been seen with Farrah."

New Casting:
I hate when they bring back my favorite shows and then make them into ridiculous, un-funny comedies...I'm talking to you, I Spy/ Wild Wild West/ Starsky and Hutch. But this one could use some yucks. I'm thinking we get Bruce Willis as Colt Seavers. He can even do his own stunts. Cousin Howie will be played by the always inept James Franco. Willis and Franco: Comedy Magic. As for our hot-blonde-of-the-day: What's Heather Graham doing these days? She and Ali Larter can duke it out in a jello pit. Winner takes all!

2. Perfect Strangers

The Original Premise:
Speaking of 'yucks..." I know you've all been asking yourselves where Cuzin Larry was. Well, he and Balki are back! It's the Odd Couple meets...umm...another Odd Couple. But with an accent! Larry (Mark Linn Baker) meets his cousin Balki from Mypos (Bronson Pinchot). And hilarity ensues.

New Casting:
If we can't bring the original cast back, then we're going to have to create our own comedy gold. And who better to bring in a new generation than Robert Downey Jr as the straight-laced Larry and that wacky charmer Owen Wilson as Balki. Can he pull off an accent? Who cares? That guy is quirky, like a male Zooey Deschanel!

3. Magnum PI 

Original Premise:
Dude lives with an old man in an even older man's guest house. He wore really tight shorts and usually walked around with his shirt open. I think he cleaned the pool sometimes. But he drove a sweet candy-apple red Ferrari 308 GTS. Oh, and he did PI work...thus the title. Magnum was played by Tom "Quigley" Selleck. Higgins, the first old guy, was played by John Hillerman. No one cares about Higgins. The only other people we really care about are Rick and TC. Rick is a tiny little man who is the "Face" of the group, while TC is the token black guy and flies the helicopter.

The New Cast
This remake is NOT supposed to be funny. I think we should make Magnum this bad-ass ex-special forces lady killer. This movie should be gritty and violent and there will be no...I repeat...NO tiny shorts on anyone! The now kick-ass Thomas Magnum should be played by my man crush, Thomas Jane. I'm secure enough in my manliness to say, "Hubba, hubba, me likey!"

You throw Ving Rhames in as TC and Vin Diesel as Rick and you've got some heart-pounding, explosive filled goodness...why am I sweating?  Ahem...I guess, if we HAVE to include a Higgins, we can use someone interesting. How about Bill Nighy.

4. The Herculoids

Hey, I just love this show! Besides, if you can turn THIS...

Into THIS...

Than you can probably turn a couple of those Fanning kids into THESE...

5. The Greatest American Hero 

This show was made of three kinds of the time. DON'T try to relive the glory days. The truth is, this show stank eight ways from Sunday. If you liked it even half as much as I did then you were just as much of an idiot as I was. Do the math!

The Original Premise: 
A teacher gets abducted by aliens and given a suit that gives him super powers. But he lost the instructions! Alack! Lucky for him he has an FBI agent who manages to convince him to keep working out the kinks and become the Greatest Hero. Scratch that. The Greatest American Hero! This show stars William "This show ruined my career" Katt and Robert "Would you Believe I Was On I-Spy" Culp, not to mention the beautiful Connie "Who?" Sellecca.

More than those clowns, the show starred this song. Sing along! You may as well. It'll be in your head for the rest of the day.

The New Cast:
This one was a stumper. Who could we get to carry the greatest super hero torch in the world??? Here's who I went with:

The role of Ralph Hinkley, Greatest American Hero, goes to Will Farrell. Crotchety old FBI Agent Bill Maxwell will be played by crotchety old Harrison "Don't let Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull be my last movie" Ford.  As love interest, lawyer Pam Davis, there were plenty of choices. If I said Sofia Vergara you'd accuse me of playing favorites. Instead, how about stately Jessica "I could play a lawyer better than Denise Richards could play a Scientist" Biel? As understudy, you could use Evangeline "I have two facial expressions" Lilly. I'd pay good money to watch either of them try to kiss Will Ferrell without giggling.

Got some better choices? Or movies you think the world needs to see? Leave 'em in the comments section or on Facebook. I'm sure people would love to hear 'em. If I get some good ones I may post them later!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Curse of the Nine-To-Five

I used to work on weekends. This lasted for many, many, many years. I would like to say that there is something good about not worrying whether it's the weekend or not, about being able to run errands during the week, or maybe able to handle business related stuff during the work week.

But those are all excuses, just like "I went through the drive-thru because my day got busy and I needed to eat." For me, working on the weekend sucks.

Now, when people say, "Thank God it's Friday," I actually agree. By Thursday, I'm so excited about the idea of Friday that I have trouble getting to sleep Thursday night. And every Friday is like a holiday. I'm sure this weekend euphoria will wear off eventually, but whenever I hear Rihanna sing "Cheers to the freakin' weekend. I'll drink to that," I get misty-eyed.

It's not that I dislike my weekday job. or school. In fact, I REALLY enjoy both of them! The job has some great people, and I'm learning so much stuff I feel like my head is going to explode sometimes. And school is just he right challenge. But I have a WEEKEND AGAIN. It's like when you lose a lot of weight and you can see the inside of your belly button. Sure, it's just a navel, but it's like a friend you haven't seen in AGES. And you spend a lot of time looking in it.

Ummm...I assume everyone does that.

I mean, I don't do it. That's weird. I've never...

Anyway. You get the idea. My weekends are back. Yardwork. Home depot. Sleeping in. Watching movies.  Business time.

Life is great! This past weekend I created some French flash cards using Anki. This thing is amazing! The program uses delays for cards that you are getting correctly and brings back the ones you keep missing. You can use photos and even audio. Love it. Check it out.

I spend some time playing Mass Effect 3,where I'm SURE I kept hearing Captain Artist, but he kept calling himself Admiral Anderson. It was unsettling. Plus, the Reapers scare the crap out of me. I watched some 30 Rock with TheWife on Hulu. I cleaned up my house. I went for a 6-mile run in the rain. It was wonderful.

Loverboy was right! Everybody IS working for the weekend. Everybody needs a second chance. I get it now! I understand what all the fuss was about!

...I also understand what the "Monday blahs" are. School is great. The job is great. Anything I may be doing during the week will probably be fun. My life is pretty damned blessed. But the Mamas & the Papas knew what they were talking about. Every other day I'm feeling fine.

And now, I've been lying in bed, playing Avengers Alliance on Facebook and listening to Flight of the Concords songs and I...

CRAP!  I have to leave the house in 10 minutes! Feed the dogs, eat some breakfast, pack up my books, check the weather, I'm late, I'm late, crap, crap, crap, shit! 

Looks like it's going to be just another Manic Monday afterall.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Tough Mudder, Krispy Kreme and...Jesus, is that my gut???

David Campbell, the founder of Saks Fifth Avenue, said, “Discipline is remembering what you want.”

Unfortunately, what I really want is a Krispy Kreme doughnut. And not one from Kroger, sitting jammed in that green and white box like a new pack of hockey pucks covered in grease.

No sir. What I want is a real Krispy Kreme doughnut. One that you pick out yourself, like a new puppy at the pound, still soft and sweet and smelling of puppy breath. The one that burns your fingers when you pick it up because you were lucky enough to be driving by when the 'hot' sign went on, a red beacon of hope and deliciousness calling out across the heavens. The one that has the substance and weight of an angel's sigh. It melts in your mouth and all you can say, past the tears streaming down your cheeks and through glaze covered lips, is just: I love you.

Instead, I stare at my reflection in the mirror. I'm standing there naked, slack jawed...and not like usual, where I'm in absolute amazement with my own junk. No, this time I'm just looking at my gut, hanging there like a forgotten baby on the doorstep of my sternum with a note that says, "Take care of him. He'll be loyal and will stick with you forever."

When did it get so big? I've lost nearly 60 pounds! You'd think it would be smaller. But it's not. It's just sitting there, looking back at me through the dark eye of my navel. Mocking me. Laughing at me. Singing at me.

"Yeah yeah
When I walk on by, - girls look away and so do guys.
Bugatchi shirt, workin' hard - trying to hold in this mound of lard, lord.
Sweet scent of Bvlgari - doesn't help me actually see my feet.
Expensive shirts so I look fly
Instead I look like that Kuato guy. Ugh!"

I don't even bother stepping on the scale, torture device that it is, there to taunt me like the the ghost of Hamlet's father. Nothing I do is ever enough. "I run, damn you! I ran 5 miles this weekend! What must I do???" And the scale says the same thing....for months, it says the same thing. So, I spray on more cologne and hope that the smell will make you squint when I get close and your stinging eyes will fail to see the goose I have hidden under my shirt.

In the mail the other day, I got the latest issue of Men's Health. Who's this prick on the cover? Am I supposed to be impressed? Did YOU ever weight over 300 pounds, Mr. Stephen Moyer or Vin Diesel or Jason Statham or David Beckham or nameless dude from a soap opera? I laugh at you and your stupid, those are nice abs. Ok, maybe I'll read one more article.

The articles don't help. I still end up here, staring at my own gut in what must be a fun house mirror because ex-military guys who run 5 miles and are training for 10-mile Tough Mudder obstacle courses do NOT have all the passengers of Noah's Ark riding just above their nethers.

"Ah. Girl look at that body.Ah. Girl look at that body. Ah. Girl look a that body. 
I pork out.

Ah. Girl look at that body.Ah. Girl look at that body. Ah. Girl look a that body. 
I pork out.

When I walk to the buffet, this is what I see:
People walking fast so they can get ahead of me.
I got stretchmarks on my gut and I ain't afraid to show it...

I'm chunky and I know it!"

Have you ever HOPED to have a disease? I HOPE I have anorexia and that people are actually seeing a very skinny me and I'm the only one that sees Every-Sitcom-Husband-With-The-Hot-Wife looking back at me (Yeah, I'm talking to you, Kevin James!).

"Jiggle jiggle jiggle jiggle jiggle. Yeah!"

I break away from the mirror and get dressed. Maybe I'm just having a down day. Maybe I'm feeling a little peckish from not having eaten enough protein. Maybe I'm dehydrated. A new perspective is all I need. I'm a Leo! I'm Mr. Vain. I'm Mr. Brightside. I'm Mister Mister. I'm learning to fly again, learning to live so free.

And I do feel better, almost instantly. Being away from the mirror helps. Then again, maybe I should keep mirrors around all the time, hovering around me like a shield of humility. They build my resolve. Without them...

...well, let's just say that Krispy Kreme is only about 30 minutes away...and wouldn't you know it: the hot sign was on.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sirens Limited Edition Prints For Sale!

     First things first: I'm using a great publisher to print my high quality giclees. For awhile, I was using Fine Art America to do an unlimited number of generic prints. They were good enough. But award winning art deserves higher quality materials. I would still recommend them to anyone, especially if you aren't doing limited edition prints.

     I'm proud to release the last few copies of Sirens, one of my favorite of my oil paintings. The original has sold to one of my collectors. I'm honored that he has it in his collection and hope to visit my girls from time to time. The limited edition series is limited to 50 hand-signed, archival quality giclees.  All but the first few, called Artist's Prints, are 11" x 14", with a black 16" x 20" mat, as seen above.

     Your print can be shipped to you within 3 weeks. Order Sirens right here, or just click the picture above.

     I have two new paintings I'm working on. I'm finishing up a commissioned piece, the last of 3 so if you've been wondering where all my latest works are, they've been going out as soon as they leave the easel. But I'm back to producing works for the studio.

     The first is a beautiful nude of a beautiful, full-figured friend of mine that I call Bastet. This piece should be very elegant and I think you guys are going to love it. The second is one that slips back into my always-loved Greek mythology theme. This one will emphasize the Mystery in my mission statement. Starring one of my dearest friends, Kitten will draw you in and leave you in awe.

     Look for both of these works coming in the next month or so. And, as an added bonus, I'm going to create a video of one of these paintings so you'll get to see me in action. The video will be done in fast-motion, because even I don't want to be there for the 20-30 hours it takes me to do a painting!

     I'm using PayPal for all online purchases. Their security protocols are top-notch and the fees are very reasonable. More importantly, you guys are protected against fraud, as well as having your purchases secured.

     You can use PayPal when you purchase your copy of Sirens

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Creative Process Part III: The Talent

I have, what I believe to be, the greatest composition for a painting that the world has ever seen. I think this about nearly every painting I do. My study is riddled with temporary bouts of vanity. My excitement is so thick that I can actually feel it in my throat. I want to start painting now. 
   Oh, if it were only that simple.
   This is a pretty typical interaction between me and my models. Some are easier, some are harder to work with. I'll use Blondie as an amalgamation of all the typical...
   First, I send an e-mail: “Hey Blondie! It’s been awhile since we talked about your posing for me. I have an idea for your painting and wanted to see if you were still interested and when you would be free. I’m looking forward to speaking with you about it. I think this project will be a lot of fun.” I follow it immediately with a facebook message.
   Then, I check every 45 minutes to see if there’s a response. I spend a little time doing some sketches to see if a pose comes to mind. I check facebook again. I could actually pick up the phone and call, but that's too 1994. A text message then:
  • “Blondie. Ready to pose? Your immortality awaits.”
   I quickly delete that. What kind of military recruitment poster bullshit is that? I re-type.
  • “Hey Blondie! I’ve been working up an idea for your painting. You down?”
   When did I turn into Shaft? Screw it. I hit send.
   Four days pass. You'd think I was waiting on an acceptance letter to Harvard. I'm in a near-panic that I might have to rethink this whole thing. Maybe she's changed her mind. Maybe my Shaft-esque text message was...
   My phone beeps. A message from Blondie: “That sounds awesome! Let me know when and where.”
I start typing a response, but maybe that sounds TOO desperate. How many days are you supposed to wait to call a girl?
   A week and a half has gone by since I've talked face-to-face with Blondie. Finally, our schedules are in sync and we are about to start our first photo session for the painting. I'm nervous. I always am. This is the first step toward making my vision a reality. This first step can really screw it up!
   "Honey, you think the kitchen is clean enough?" I ask TheWife
   She rolls her eyes at me.
   "I'm serious. I don't want the place to be uncomfortable. People have to model in here."
   "It's fine," she says. "Forget the kitchen. I'd worry about the bathrooms, if I were you."
   "I just did the bathrooms!"
   "Did you? Huh. It didn’t look like you did."
   I sprint to the bathroom with a mop and sponge. I hear TheWife giggling behind me.
   Once the bathrooms have been cleaned a second time I go change clothes. Again. I want to be comfortable, but not slovenly. I want to look good but not seem pretentious. I want to look professional but not seem over-bearing. I rule out the suit. I also rule out the sweat pants, the shorts, the khakis, and the men's capri pants I bought because they were featured on the cover of some magazine I saw in the grocery store. 
   Just as I've settled on jeans and a casual shirt, I hear the <ding dong> of the doorbell. I run to the door like a kid waiting for a candy delivery from the Easter Bunny, himself. I open the door with just as much excitement, huge grin on my face. And there's Blondie...sort of.
   "You dyed your hair," I say flatly.
    "You like it?"she asks.
   "Ummm, of course. It's not blonde."
   "Yeah, it's sort of reddish. It's a little redder than I thought, but I like it."
   "You should.  It's...not blonde."
   She smiles.
   I stare.
   She starts to look uncomfortable.
   I stare more.
   She shifts a little, looking past me into the house.
   I feel TheWife come up behind me. “Hi. You coming in or what?”
   “Hey honey,” I say through a forced smile. “You like her hair? It’s kind of…not blonde.”
   TheWife and Blondie-No-Longer spend the next three or four minutes talking about hair styles and dye jobs. I wander into the house behind them staring into Blondie-No-Longer’s hair as if I think a demon might step out from it. Here is my internal dialogue while all this is going on:
   Me: Shit. She dyed her hair. I wanted it blonde.
   Captain Artist: Cope with it, pansy. (Note: Captain Artist sounds surprisingly like Keith David, the voice of the cat in “Coraline,” Goliath in “Gargoyles” or almost every video game since 2004.)
   Me: This is going to be more difficult. You can't just paint someone's red hair suddenly blonde. The light plays on it differently. There's highlights I can't fake.
   Captain Artist: You are worthless! Get your ass in gear and start snapping photos!
   Me: But...
   Captain Artist: That does it. Your day is over, sissy! Out of the way!

   And just like that, there’s a no sheriff in town. I have lost complete control
   Blondie-No-Longer is chatting with the wife, standing in the hallway, holding a couple of bags. I think about saying something polite, and as my mouth opens I hear Keith David’s voice come out.
   "You can put your stuff down where ever you like. We'll get started soon. Your hair will be perfect. Goddess of the Dawn. Dawn sky is reddish. Your hair is reddish. Be just fine."
   Blondie-No-Longer beams at me, or rather, him. "Good, I was worried," she says.
   "No worries," the Captain says. "Let's get started." rushes around like a man on fire: Setting up lights, moving furniture. Blondie-No-Longer is talking to me but I can't respond. The work is calling. Steps must be taken. Nothing can be skipped. The Captain is all about efficiency. And as much as I hate him...and I do hate him, my fellow adventurers. I really hate him...But I need him. I recognize that without him I would sit and drink margaritas with my models for three hours before I get to work. I'll watch youtube videos like Double Rainbow and snack on microwave taquitos. But this plane has got to leave the ground. I can plot a scenic course with the best of them. But you do NOT want me flying the plane. Trust me.
   I hear Blondie-No-Longer say something.
   "What's that?"
   "I brought a few changes of clothes with me."
   "Good," the Captain barks. "How about you go in the bathroom there and we'll take a look at all of them."
   This part fills me with dread. Captain Artist is super efficient. He gets things done. But he has the creativity of a gerbil on an exercise wheel. Letting him choose the outfit would be terrible. I try to resume control, which means I spend about 5 minutes pacing back and forth in the same 3 foot square, a science fiction robot repeating "does not compute" over and over again. I watch Blondie-No-Longer come out of the bathroom in a blue dress with heels. Blondie-No-Longer has great legs, so the heels would be a good touch. The dress, however, covers up said asset too much.
   The Captain doesn't care about great legs. He doesn't care about cleavages or pecs or asses or strong arms or even breasts. This can be good. Left to my own devices, I will sit and stare at a model in an incredibly inappropriate and pervy fashion for hours on end. There would probably be drool. The Captain, however, just wants you out of our house. You may be the most beautfiul woman on the planet (I'm talking to you, Sofia Vergara). You can stand in front of me and rip everything off in one smooth motion, then strike some impossible yoga pose and yell "booya!" The Captain will cringe at the increased noise level and start snapping pictures without a second thought.

   Unfortunately, that means that when given choices that are directly related to beauty, as in "do we emphasize these calves or not?" the Captain will tend to go with whatever is most efficient.
   And so, I was appalled when I heard my mouth say, "that's perfect."
   Blondie-No-Longer pouted. "You sure? I brought a lot of stuff with me. I don't mind trying it on."
   "No, don't worry about it. Stand over there."
   Blondie-No-Longer looked over her shoulder toward the bathroom where her other clothes were waiting.
   TheWife rolled her eyes at me again. "Honey, she did bring a lot of stuff. How do you know this is the best one?"
   The Captain almost said something stupid. He doesn't mind sleeping on the couch. The other 299 personalities in my head hate it, however, and we all rallied, putting an invisible hand over the Captain's mouth and wrestling him to the ground of my psyche. It was a glorious battle. While the other's held the Captain down, a second personality shows up. I managed an impassioned, "that would be great. Sorry. That's a great idea! Please, try on everything you’ve got!"
    Thirty minutes later and I've settled on an outfit: tight jeans that emphasize strong legs, a white tank top that's tight enough to show a strong core as well as accentuating the shoulders, and boots to show the viewer that this is serious work, not the flippant project of a high-heeled harlot. I’m pleased with the choices. Blondie-No-Longer has been instrumental in helping with the choices, as was TheWife. There is more clicking in my head and poses are starting to make themselves known. We all get an ice cold beer and relax for a few minutes.
   Then, the posing begins and we let Captain Artist do what he does best.
   “Stand over here. No, face that way. There you go. Turn your head a little to the right.”
   Click, click, click. Not in my head this time, though. This is the camera, a Fujifilm 10 megepixel beauty that we bought last year with money from the change jar.
   “Raise your arm a little. Higher.TheWife, move that light to the left some. Shift backward.”
   I have some poses in my head, but the Captain doesn’t care about them. His goal is to take as many poses as he can. Anything that seems to make sense is fair game. I click my way through seventy-eight pictures before the Captain considers his job done. I spend 5 minutes getting rid of crap and deciding on the best pose. This part is mostly intuitive. I see what I like, and I chose it. I call Blondie-No-Longer over so she can have a say. TheWife is always welcomed to help with this part, but she rarely does. I’ve never known why. She just smiles that enigmatic smile that says, “Husband, something is happening here and you don’t get it, but it is for your own good.”
   It takes a very short amount of time to chose the pose we want to use. I have Blondie-No-Longer memorize it. I memorize it. I have my wife memorize it. I pick up the camera. I wake the Captain. And thirty minutes later and I have more reference material than I could ever use. And it's good. Close ups, distance shots, different lighting, different angles. The Captain knows his shit. Bondie-No-Longer and I look over the shots. I tell her what the painting is going to look like. She seems excited. TheWife is excited. Even I'm excited. I have a physical representation of something that has been in my head for weeks. It is satisfying. It is incredibly powerful. We have created something from nothing. There is no more clicking in my head. There is no more uncertainty. Everything I need is right here in front of me. My mind is quiet and I am at peace.

   How quickly I forget. The easy part has just finished. Hell begins tomorrow.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Updated Website

I spent most of the weekend tweaking the website. There may be a few holes in it, but I think it looks much better, flows easier and is more pleasant to look at. I've even moved the blog over so that it's part of the website. It's still hosted by Blogger, so we still have some Blogger love.

There may be a few links that aren't working, and if you find any please add them to the comment section, or send me an e-mail.

Next week: 4 North Carolina Artists You Should Be Watching

--- Geraud

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Creative Process Part II: Defining the Work

I spent hours trying to come up with the next award-winning painting, and finally came up with a subject: a painting to represent the story of Eos, the Greek Goddess of the Dawn. I even have a model in mind. You would think the job was half over, but I was just getting started. 

I review the six images that were in my head. They are: 1) Eos breaking open the night sky with a hammer; 2) Eos pulling open the night sky like a curtain; 3) Eos opening the night sky with a manual can opener; 4) Eos flying next to Apollo’s chariot; 5) Eos standing on a cliff looking out at the sunrise; or 6) Eos shoving the night aside like a giant block. 

I have a few rules about a painting that I need to remind myself of. The first is that the painting needs to follow the Seraphim goals. It must represent at least one of the mission statement goals, though multiples are always better: Strength, Energy, Radiance, Adventure, Passion, Hope, Inspiration and Mystery. Energy is ALWAYS important. People standing idle and staring off in the distance is great for Awkward Family Photos, but it’s not what I’m striving for. 

The second is that the painting needs to have multiple story possibilities. I consider a work to be a success if everyone has a different story than I do. Using these rules I go back down my list. 

  • Eos opening the night sky with a hammer looks pretty damned awesome in my head, and it holds strength and radiance and energy. 
  • Eos pulling open the night sky like a curtain feels the same way, though less violent. There is an advantage to this one, though: Blondie is a stage actress and director. The curtain feels more personal because of that, and like the first one shows many sides, plus I feel a little mystery.
  • Manual can opener: Do any of you even know what the hell an old-school manual can opener looks like? Behold: 

This image cracks me up, but it's not what I'm going for. Too Looney Tunes. That doesn’t mean we won’t see it again in the future, though. I'm still giggling about it.

  • Eos flying next to Apollo’s chariot is dynamic, but there aren't really multiple stories.
  • Eos looking off at the sunrise/sunset has potential at first. Blondie is a beautiful woman, and I think the viewer could get lost watching her stand in the light of a rising sun. This is a painting that sings to me. But I'm looking for adventure and energy. But this one seems amazing, so I file it away.  
  • Eos pushing the night sky away.Just dull.  

So, I’m back to the first two. Hammer or curtain? I go with my gut. The curtain just fits because of Blondie's background, so I work from that angle. I should be happy that I'v come this far, but the damned clicking starts again. 

  • What can you see through the opening curtain? 
  • How thick is the rope? Is it easy to pull?
  • Is there any astrological pattern that the stars should hold? 
  • What should Blondie be wearing? Not wearing? 
  • Should there be more landscape? Lack of landscape? 
  • Should there be an audience? 
  • What colors are represented by Eos? 
  • Do I want the stage to be recognizable? Should you see it at all? 
  • Larger than life? Smaller than life? Do we look up at her? Down at her? 
  • What do I want the viewer to FEEL?

This last is the most important question. If I can answer that, I think the other questions will fall into place. Sometimes a story or image moves you and you want to make sure the viewer feels that as well. Sometimes, though, you just have to decide. Many paintings are like that. I’m sure when Peter Paul Rubens created “Daniel in the Lion’s Den” he knew that he wanted us to be frightened for Daniel, and yet have some sense of hope, the way Daniel himself seems to. 

One the opposite end, perhaps Degas wasn’t certain how he wanted “Absinthe” to feel. He very well may have had a subject and no other original thought. But he gave us a feeling. For me, it was loneliness. The tables around the drunk woman are empty of people and anything of substance. Even the other figure in the painting doesn’t look at her. For all we know, the truth was that this place was crammed with people, the tables could have been messy, maybe the woman wasn’t as drunk as she appeared. Degas did not leave this up to interpretation. We, the viewer, are told how we should feel.

Life is no different, my friends. Sometimes there are no signs. Sometimes there is no voice in your head that tells you something must be a particular way or that you must do a particular thing for a living or that you need to make a decision in some particular manner. Sometimes, you just gotta pick a path and go with it. 

I decided to emphasize strength. Blondie has great shoulders and legs. I want to incorporate them into the painting. I want women to look at the image of Eos and, no matter what story they come up, I want them to be inspired by her strength. I want men to feel the desire to have someone like Eos pulling away their own obstacles. I wouldn’t mind of some people were intimidated by her. Strength can do that, too.

The other answers come easily, now. The rope is thick because her burden is heavy. It takes a great deal of might to pull it. Eos could be nude to show off her physique, but would that be too distracting. Still, something that reveals her physical strength, something tight or sleeveless. The landscape doesn’t matter, so don’t bother. The viewer is the only audience we need. And we should be looking up to her. 

And all of a sudden the clicking stops. The questions are answered. There are still a number of posing options, a number of clothing options, but I find that these are best determined once the model is present.  So, I go about making that happen.

To be continued...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Who's the April Fool Now?

     She got me. It was the perfect set up, and by that I mean there was no set up. There was no pretense. No amount of work. Just simple, good old fashioned sucker-punching. We're lying in bed, me doing a crossword puzzle on my Android while she lay with her head on my chest looking up at the ceiling.
     TheWife looks up at me with these beautiful brown eyes a hint of mischief that I misunderstand completely, and says, "You heard Taco Bell bought the Liberty Bell, right?"
    My blood pressure is starting to go up. I love America. There aren't many countries in the world where I could do figurative paintings and make a living at it. But like any good American, this Durham artist worries that sometimes our government doesn't always make the best decisions. And maybe, every once in awhile, I go on a rant about it.
     "For how much?" I ask.
     "Half a million," she says with no hesitation.

     "You gotta be fucking kidding me!" I could actually hear the blood racing through my veins. My beautiful Sunday morning was ruined. Philadelphia sold part of our history for a measly...
     "They're renaming it," she continues. "The Taco Liberty Bell."
     Something in my head snapped the breaking of your mother's good china. It broke into a half million tiny shards that bounced around and tore away any rationality I might have had.
     Even I know I should dial it back, but the curses and shouts were overwhelming. My tirade was laced with betrayal, lack of pride, commercialism, corporate greed, money grubbing politicians, and the loss of American  history. Five minutes went past in a flash and I was on the edge of writing every government office I knew. Yes, women's rights is important. Yes, we know you're trying to weed out the poor from the voting booths. Yes, your courts are riddled with inconsistencies and miscarriages of justice. And all those causes have advocates. But on earth could anyone let THIS happen? Right under our noses?
     TheWife tilts her iPad up so I can see the picture. There it is: America's pride, almost as important as the Statue of Liberty herself. I honestly felt a little sad, and a little sick. Then I read the caption over it:

     "100 of the World's Greatest Pranks."

     I looked for a few seconds, my addled mind unable to come back down that fast. But come down it did, like Icarus amid a sticky mass of melted wax and feathers. The look of TheWife's face was sheer joy.

     I haven't been so proud of her since the crisco-on-the-toilet seat incident.