SELF PORTRAIT WITH iPHONE
Oil on Panel / 6 x 6 inches / ©John Farnsworth
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TOM AND ME
As I was sitting here, wondering what the heck to write about this little painting that just seemed to take over and paint itself, I remembered when a self portrait of Thomas Hart Benton appeared on the cover of American Artist Magazine. I was shocked that he had painted himself as an old man, hair sticking out all over (he’d be right in style today) wrinkles, a scowl and a pot belly all wrapped up in a plaid shirt. That shirt, too, was a whole different fashion statement than it would be today. Old Tom the Hipster. Way ahead of his time. Thirty or forty years will change a person’s thinking, apparently. Now when I see that painting I just see a damn fine painting. Like most of his work. Honest, direct, his own.
When I read about other artists’ work, written by critics, historians, and others, going on about the intent of the artist, How he did this or why that, I often wonder what someone might say about a piece I’m working on. Because I don’t think that way. Take this piece, for example. I wasn’t trying to make a statement, wasn’t thinking about age, or, obviously, fashion. Mainly I was responding to a familiar gesture and hoping to be able to capture it. Draw it with paint. I wanted to put down the essence of that gesture, that “un-posed pose”. I guess in a way I was trying to represent the essence of me. I sure wasn’t thinking of it that way at the time, though. I was aware of the familiarity, but that’s about as deep as it went.
I was also thinking, to some extent, about painting in a high key, with the iPhone being the only really black note. And I was excited about the prospect of painting it quickly, directly, with thicker, juicier paint, in a more expressionist manner than is usual for me. Anyway, it was fun to paint, and I’m finding it fun to look at. Sort of like running into an old friend. And those yellow walls stir up dreams of Italy.
One of these days I’ll tell you about the time my daughter Rosa and I visited Benton’s home and studio in Kansas City, Missouri and his murals in Jefferson City and Independence.
When Atticus and I went out on the portal this morning for our toast and coffee, we encountered this beautiful bouquet that Thea had left for us when she went in to work this morning. Thanks, sweetheart.
By the way, Atticus enjoys sharing my toast, but I don’t share my coffee. He’s wound up tight enough without it!
It’s time to start getting ready for THE KACHINAS ARE COMING. That’s the big Kachina show Thea wil be putting on of my Kachina paintings the first of September at David Anthony Fine Arts, here in Taos. I hope to see you there!
David Anthony Fine Art, 132 Kit Carson, Taos, New Mexico, September 01 to October 05, 2012. Reception September 1, 5 t0 7pm
See the August/September issue of the SANTA FEAN magazine, page 90 for a write-up on the show.
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