This is a small painting I did today of a boxer’s face that I originally painted at 30 x 40 inches in 2011. Al Delmar was a middleweight boxer in the 1920’s.
I am beginning to call the San Francisco area fighters the Olympic Club fighters because the name is more concise, as the photograph album images I am working from contain fighters from that athletic club. An observation I made while painting was I am using paint like I am building a body from clay: pushing parts together with force. Though I often paint that way, the surface being naturally colored linen (a beige color) makes the painting of the face that much more difficult. I have to make the colors more vibrant to compete with the surface, and this pushes me to be more forceful with the paint application itself, not just the colors I use.
It is wonderful to know that artists are being appreciated no wonder where they may live, as a recent article in the NY Times shows. It is interesting to compare what the curators from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art are undertaking with a book by Kelly Grovier, which believes that almost no art being created in the United States defines our age. Though I disagree with using the term ‘art’ when describing many of the works in this book; I see most work the author has chosen as information, or perhaps informart, and the artists as informationists. This is because much of the work wishes to utilize and impart as much data as possible, rather than showing us the artist’s own heartfelt response to information. There is a terrible coldness to much of art today, a byproduct of pop and conceptual art which technology has only encouraged.
Here is a recently completed painting of fighter A219:
Fighter A902. He’s brighter than the weather which is gray and dreary.
Discussion a few weeks back about blue paintings and I wanted to make one. This fighter has some green in him as well. So many bad things are happening around me that creating a blue painting seemed apt. On a brighter note I recently finished Transatlantic, an amazing novel by Colum McCann that I am certain will be winning many awards. I was impressed by the delineation of characters and their interrelationships; how servitude can take more than one form, and how complicated our reactions may be when we are faced with injustices. Also spent some time with great friends and got to visit Woods Hole, MA, though did not get to see as much as I would have liked, I expect to make another trip some day.
When I visited a gallery owner two years ago, he asked me why I didn’t paint people who were personally close to me. At the time, I said that history is important to me. But while painting Fighter A351 I began to feel bored. I have been influenced by the Buddhist Center in town, and my readings; I think I am ready to see myself in those closest to me. While painting my grandmother Rae, my mother’s mother, I saw my mother, my sister, my aunt and uncle, and myself. I worked from three different images of my grandmother. I chose the one from the 1960’s for the hairstyle. How was she able to balance that on her head? Memories came back to me of the fried chicken under heat lamps at the Woolworth’s on Lincoln Road in Miami where she took me as a child, as well as the beaded curtains she made for her Florida apartment. From the stories my mother told I have gathered that Rae was a wild one. My first version of her contains a worry line on her forehead but as I thought more about her I couldn’t remember her worrying much.
My site was down for some time today, but my admin is golden, and so is this fighter. He fairly glows. I was going to begin a portrait of Amy Bock next but I have been reading about her and find that I am less than sympathetic. This is the problem with learning more about the people you paint.