Posts Tagged ‘The Wizard of Oz’

If you only had brain in your head you would be as good as man as any of them, and a better man than some of them. Brains are the only things worth having in this world, no matter whether one is a crow or a man. 

― L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz

Watched the end of the impeachment trial yesterday. Sad day for this country and for every American as the former president* was acquitted.

Acquitted but not exonerated in any way.

It was actually more of an embarrassing day for republican voters who see themselves as being American first then republican. I believe there are a few still remaining out there. These folks witnessed and understood the criminality– which their party leader readily admitted was present in the words and actions of the president– that put our democracy in peril, knew that it went against everything that our country once claimed as virtues.  But they saw the majority of their craven senators say that it didn’t matter, that their partisanship and short term self-interest was more important than doing what was right for the future of our nation.

These senators seem intent on following the road to disgrace to its bitter end.

Their votes to acquit made this political in a proceeding that, at its heart, was not apolitical. It was necessary and for the majority party to have not went down this path would have been betraying their sworn oaths to the Constitution and to the future generations of this country. The House Managers laid out a compelling and convincing evidentiary argument that won the day.

57-43 is a victory in a way. It was an acquittal but, as I said, not an exoneration. No innocence was implied or proven. The majority of the country recognizes and approves of the guilt attached to this vote. I say majority because the 57 senators who voted to convict represent 76.7 MILLION MORE Americans than the 43 dissenting senators.

The people know. 

Let’s move on now to the Sunday morning music for this week. I was working on the small painting at the top the page yesterday while listening to the impeachment proceedings. I don’t know what made the idea of a person standing in the field as scarecrow come to mind but it appeared around the time the voting was taking place. I can’t quite put my finger on the feeling I get from it or its origin but it seemed to fit the moment.

Maybe it cam from the quote at the top from L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz? If they only had a brain…

The piece itself reminded me of the old John Cougar Mellencamp song, Rain on the Scarecrow, from 1985. He started his career with the cheesy stage name of Johnny Cougar before attaching his actual Mellencamp last name and eventually getting rid of the Cougar altogether.

In 1985, he was still John Cougar Mellencamp. He had a great trio of albums in the late 1980’s starting with this album, Scarecrow, followed by The Lonesome Jubilee and Big Daddy. They were all strong. complete albums. This song has been a favorite from when I first heard it back then. I also want to note that John Mellencamp is a talented painter as well.

But here’s Rain on the Scarecrow to go along with the new piece at the top which is simply called Scarecrow.

Be careful out there and have a good day.

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I debated over showing the  progress of the large painting on which I am currently working.  I know that I have done it it the past , especially with this style of work, but I almost felt like I wanted to keep this one more guarded.  It feels kind of like pulling the curtain back on the little man working the controls which make him appear as a much more magnificent Wizard of Oz.  Or maybe it’s like showing how the sausage is made– tasty but nobody wants to see it.

But whatever I thinking, in the end, I decided that I would show how this piece is moving.  If the final product is not worthy, knowing how it came to be so won’t taint it and if it ends up being a good piece, nobody will care or remember.

Again, this is a 54″ high by 84″  (4 1/2′ by 7′) canvas that I have finally decided to start after 10 or so months of pondering it in the studio.  Well, pondering is overstating it.  Avoiding is probably closer to the mark. 

 This is the progress after about three days of roughing in the composition with red oxide paint and I am  finally nearing the end of this this part of the progress.  As I near the terminus where the landscape ends and the sky will begin, I have started roughing in with a piece of rouge chalk, trying to find that final silhouette that will stand out in the final product.  I am hoping to finish this phase today.

So far, I am pleased.  The elements all seem to work well together and the whole composition has a unity that I am looking for.  This is vital especially in a piece of this scale where any element that lacks that sense of rightness will be magnified by the sheer size of the comsposition.  I am really beginning to see how I think the painting will finally emerge and I am getting antsy, wanting to get beyond this initial phase.  But as I said earlier, the key is to not jump ahead, not speed up at any point.  If I make a shortcut now, it will change that final version dramatically.

So, I will be patient.  But I must go.  Gotta paint.

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Scene from Black Narcissus

As an artist, I am of course influenced by color in many things.  Obviously, the colors I have seen in the work of the great painters played a part in how I came to view color, such as the bold use of it by Van Gogh and the deepness of the greens and reds in Holbein’s masterpieces.  But even beyond painters I am influenced by color in so much that I see. 

This makes me think of a Coke television commercial from a number of years back, probably in the late 80’s or early 90’s.  It was in an urban setting with a Latin vibe but it wasn’t the setting that caught my eye.  It was the color of the whole ad.  Deep, dark throbbing colors.  Reds that looked like they poured out of a beating heart.  Gorgeous rich golds.  All shot in a very cinematic manner, much richer in texture than one would expect from a TV ad.  Every time I would see it I would stop and just stare, taking it all in.  I don’t think I was painting yet and it really made a big impression on how I viewed color and made me think that I could find expression in color.

Another influence is in the work of the great cinematographers of the movie world.  I especially think of the movies from the earliest years of color use in the films, movies like Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, which both were extraordinary in their use of color.  But, for me, the work of Jack Cardiff in the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger takes the cake.  In movies like The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, A Matter of Life and Death, The Tales of Hoffman and The Life and Times of Colonel Blimp ( a favorite of mine), Cardiff used color in a way that added even more depth to the story, making the eye want to settle on the scene at hand and take it all in.  The images and the opulent color  from these films often lingered in my head for weeks after seeing them and when I am at the easel I find myself still trying to capture that same atmosphere that he was able to create on film.

I mention this today because I want to remind anyone interested that TCM is featuring the work of Jack Cardiff in January and will be airing a documentary, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff  along with a number of the films that showed off his great skill, both as a cinematographer and a director.  It’s a great opportunity to see some of his color work that that been called decadent by some writers.  When I read that description, I nodded because that is exactly what it felt like– grand, luscious decadence.

Good stuff.

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