Tag Archives: contemporary portraits

Set of 4

1

 

2My paintings featured at Nick and Gayle’s place in Brooklyn! These four represent the members of their family. What a thrill to see them featured in their living room. I love the way the light on “Nick’s” nose works with the light in the room! And with the light in the photo (?) above! Nick says, “They are like tattoos: now I want more.”

NOTE: Gayle as in New York Times-bestselling novelist Gayle Forman (straight up name drop).

The Hat #30 800

The Hat #30

No Hat #126 800
No Hat #126
The Hat #2
No Hat #119

 

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Bodies

From my recent email to David Lester about my new series “Bodies”

“The women seem empowered. The source material (an illustration by a woman — Jacqui Morgan) is from burlesque, which seems to me more powerful than stripping. The two images might be the same person – one is acting (performing in costume), the other is less defined, in motion, nebulous. Two very different roles and degrees of vulnerability.

The performer in stripes could easily be holding a microphone – giving a semi-naked woman, a burlesque dancer, a voice. My voice, really. Plus, those striped stockings and long, fingerless gloves give it a sense of old-timey classic circus. Or, to me, a very Picasso sense. Growing up, we had a book in which he was wearing a lot of striped clothing. It also harks back to Lautrec’s paintings of women and night life.

Interesting too that the stockings and gloves cover parts of the body that are actually acceptable to show in public, so there’s a kind of reversal going on. The stripes – yes//no – good//bad – light//dark – lines that bend around the arms and legs, giving them their shape.

And, of course, when I titled the series it also refers to the Sex Pistols’ song “Bodies” – and our version of it in Atlanta which isn’t as much about the lyrics as it is about being on stage with a voice (being alive with choices).”

Bodies 800

“Bodies” (acrylic on canvas board, 11 x 14″) May 28, 2017. SOLD

Bodies #2 800

“Bodies #2″ (acrylic on canvas board, 11 x 14”) May 28, 2017. SOLD

Bodies #3 800“Bodies #3″ (acrylic on canvas board, 11 x 14”) May 29, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

Bodies #4 800“Bodies #4″ (acrylic on canvas board, 11 x 14”) May 29, 2017. $100 USD plus shipping.

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Videos of $100 USD Portraits

All Jean Smith’s $100 USD portrait paintings from the beginning of the project (January 7, 2016) to March 14, 2017. Music by Mecca Normal.

Currently Available: Slide Show

Jean Smith’s $100 USD currently available portrait paintings from the beginning of the project (January 7, 2016) to March 14, 2017. Music by Mecca Normal.

Currently Available: Slide Show

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Gloria Steinem, CIA

“No Hat #138 B aka Gloria Steinem, CIA” (acrylic on canvas board 11 x 14″) January 21, 2017 (not posted until today, February 25, 2017). SOLD

I referred to this painting in a post earlier today, in which I was writing about “No Hat #133”. I mentioned that one of the big skills I possess (in painting) is knowing when to stop and both #133 and #138 B are excellent examples of that.

 

No Hat 133 800

#138 B (at top) was one of the rare times that I set a painting aside because it felt finished well in advance of what I was intending to do, but I wasn’t entirely sure. With #133 there was no question that it was totally finished. In this case of #138 B, I still wanted to think about it. So it’s been sitting here since mid January and I haven’t had any inclination to add anything to it. Selling “No Hat #133” earlier today (to a radio journalist in Stockholm) has inspired me to call “No Hat #138 B aka Gloria Steinem, CIA” finished as well.

I started painting from a screengrab of Gloria Steinem speaking at the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, but… I stopped here because, as I say, I liked it at this point. This is a good example of how I use photos of actual people to whatever degree I need them as a starting point.

After I set the painting aside I ended up doing some research on Steinem, just to refresh my memory on her history. I’m pretty sure I never knew she worked for the CIA. This kinda killed my interest in doing a portrait of her, not that it would necessarily be representattional to the degree that she’d be recognizable, but the CIA connection fortified my interest in halting my involvement with her.

Additionally, a novel I wrote a few years back (The Black Dot Museum of Political Art) has a segment in it about the CIA’s involvement in the abstract art movement in NYC in the 1950s and 60s, so this issue of cultural icons being willing and/or unwittingly participants in CIA activities was unexpectedly back in front of me.

So, while the is painting (#138 B) is at face value a solid composition made up of fairly similar tones with the suggestion of what might have followed (the shape of the head) for those that know my work, the backstory provides intellectual content that can be factored in.

The Hat 53 800

I painted Michael Moore the same day, so it’s conceivable that Gloria would have been similarly obscured had I continued and, as I type this, I realize that it was obscured – even more aggressively, but in a completely different way.
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‘Friend me’ on FB

No Hat 133 800

Earlier today “No Hat #133” sold to a radio journalist in Stockholm, Sweden who found this website and fell for this painting!

I’m really excited about another painting going to Europe! Also, this is a great painting. Am I even allowed to say that? I wasn’t sure it would sell (for obvious reasons) – so, it’s a total thrill that it has, within the context of the overall project, been selected.

One of the big skills I possess (in painting) is knowing when to stop. This painting is an excellent example of that. I’m inspired to post a similar one with even fewer features that I painted a month ago. It’s one of the only ones that I’ve stopped and put aside to consider. I haven’t found a reason to add anything else to it, so I’m going to call it finished. Or maybe I’ll call it Swedished in honour of the radio journalist in Stockholm.

I paint start to finish, in one event. I think this comes from my upbringing around watercolour painters – my dad mainly. With watercolour, you keep moving forward after committing paint to paper. You don’t keep messing around with the paint once it’s down. I don’t follow that part of the process; I continue working with the paint for up to 4 hours.

It’s interesting to me when paintings sell from pages other than  on my FaceBook page, because that group is part of the project. They see the work first – sequentially, as it is created. Each new painting falls into an ever-evolving context in progress that is being created for over a year. Within this linear context, I’ve recently demonstrated that the images can be used for additional purposes long after they’ve been posted for sale (or sold).

It’s interesting to me that a painting that is now hanging in someone’s home can be on the internet saying, “No one is illegal.” Winnipeg artist, art critic and educator Steven Leyden Cochrane documented this over on Tumblr when he collected all the “No one is illegal” images in one post. Actually, for my recent project, I photographed paintings that have yet to sell, but, in theory, I could have used jpegs of work that has sold.

FaceBook reactions (likes, shares and sales) accumulate in the time immediately after posting paintings. I’ll be saying more soon about how using FB as a studio component and a venue affects me and the work.

It’s exciting to have had two recent sales in Europe. Shipping to most places in Europe is reasonable. I’ve sent paintings to France, Austria and the UK without tracking for $15 USD. Tracking seems to run an additional $20. In the 145 paintings I’ve sold, I’ve never had to use tracking.

 

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Hotel / Pizza / Text

I rarely use text in my paintings, but it’s something I may get into. With resistance a prevalent theme, I’ve been considering how to make my portraits more overtly political. Text is probably the easiest way to get a point across.

Last summer, I was asked to paint actress and singer Francoise Hardy, so I found a photo I found of her outside the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. I tend to use photos as starting points, and not necessarily to paint a likeness. This wasn’t a commission, so I felt free to paint the subject the way I normally do. Without slavishly representing her features.

I noticed that putting the subject in front of a hotel sign suggested certain things about the women I painted. I wasn’t convinced that everyone would know it was the Chelsea Hotel where artists, musicians and other creative types lived and congregated, so I changed the iconic hotel sign to a pizza sign — and suddenly it felt like the subject had moved from the hotel to the pizza parlor. Or perhaps there were different women outside both locations.

Because I post my work immediately after I paint it, there is a kind of sequential element built into it. I noticed that added text suggested a possible narrative — at least it did to me.

I’d already painted a few baboons without text when I decided to paint one with the pizza sign. The baboon reminded me of King Kong — perhaps because the Chelsea Hotel sign placed the action in New York. Now, instead of being concerned that the women might be regarded as sex workers, I was worried King Kong was going to grab one of them and carry her up the Empire State Building.

I painted the last one in the series to indicate that the baboon did not harm the subject(s). I’m pretty sure I was the only person caught up in my halting narrative, but adding text to my otherwise language-free portraits was a surprisingly power experience.

No Hat #104 800 ed

No Hat #104 SOLD

No Hat #105 800

“No Hat #105” (acrylic on canvas panel, 11 x 14”) November 5, 2016. $100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat #106 800

“No Hat #106” (acrylic on canvas panel, 11 x 14”) November 6, 2016. $100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat #107 800

“No Hat #107” (acrylic on canvas panel, 11 x 14”) November 7, 2016. $100 USD plus shipping.

Baboon 3 800 NEW

Baboon #3 SOLD

No Hat #109 800

“No Hat #109″ (acrylic on canvas panel, 11 x 14”) November 12, 2016. $100 USD plus shipping.

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Studio Visits

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Ronan Boyle and Tom Anselmi looking at paintings
ronan-jean-tom-1
 Everyone gets a little lecture before they’re allowed to leave.
david-briker-photo-by-bob
David Briker on deck (literally) waiting for Beth and Bob to make their final selection. Photo: Bob Hanham

Studio Visits are done, resulting in 7 (and possibly 9 or even 11) sales and a handful of strategies to think about. Bigger panels, higher prices, scarcity, merch potential, cultivating my Instagram, a show in LA, prints!

The “c” word got used for the first yesterday. Collector. As in a collector is sending someone over here to select three paintings.

All this action in an otherwise ultra-reclusive life could send some artists into a tailspin, but not me! I love it! This kind of thinking replicates what I have done with Mecca Normal for 30+ years. I love making things happen along these lines! Working with fabulous people!

With my FB painting sales tanking in January, now is a good time to consider other avenues. I don’t think I’ve lived above the poverty line since the mid-80s; I might wanna give that a try!

Favourite interactions with a total of 5 people I didn’t know:

 – David Briker comparing my paintings to Marlene Dumas, whose work I discovered about a month ago! Such a great compliment! Once I discovered her, I had to see everything, watch every video!! Life-altering. Truly. My work changed at that point. I mean, it changes all the time, but there was a fabulous shift for having seen her paintings.
 – Thomas asking me if I wanted his opinions. Me saying, “That’s why you’re here! Didn’t you know that?”
 – The great surprise of really liking Ronan Boyle’s paintings after he “tagged along” with Tom, bought a painting, and kindly shared his opinions about various directions I could go in.
 – Watching Beth go through the paintings, pulling out many of my favourites to consider. When work spans a year in solitude and then, finally people see it in person, watching the associations they make is really something. It’s watching a person’s inner workings come to the fore in response to something I created, something I obviously have strong feelings about. While I was sad to see those three paintings sell, I know where they are and I’ve already invited myself over for dinner!
 – Meeting and having a really fun visit with Bob and Beth.
 – David Briker introducing me to the work of Elisabeth Peyton. Noticing I really connect with the artists he likes, and the colours he likes and tends to use in his projects.

 – David Lester coming over for the Friday Studio Visit with Ronan and Tom. Things always go better when Dave is around!

Upshot: contact with humans IRL proves interesting

Thanks everyone for participating!!!

Below: paintings sold during this weekend’s Studio Visits
No Hat 138 800
No Hat #138
No Hat 139 800
No Hat #139
No Hat #124 800
No Hat #124
The Phone 800
The Phone
No Hat #85 800
No Hat #85
No Hat #103 800
No Hat #103
No Hat #95 800
No Hat #95
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“Is that the one I want?”

david-briker-photo-by-bob

David Briker on deck (literally) waiting for Beth and Bob to make their final selection. Photo: Bob Hanham

No Hat #124 800

“No Hat #124” (acrylic on canvas panel, 11 x 14”) SOLD

 

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