Boston Commons

August 18, 2013

Went to the Commons yesterday and set up near the State House. I got there around 10:15 and so had the opportunity to watch the vendors set up. Several trucks from Brookline Ice and Coal dropped off 50 pound bags of ice, then came back around 1 to deliver more.

Because of where I was standing I heard at least 20 different versions of tour bus spiels, since they’re all delivered over loudspeakers. Apparently Saint-Gaudens’ 54th Massachusetts Regiment memorial is the “favorite sculpture” of at least half the tour bus drivers in Boston; it is a very fine piece of sculpture. I also learned about Paul Revere’s involvement in the State House roof, over and over, and one guide in colonial garb said something like “This monument recalls the northern victory in the Civil War– any Southerners here? No? — we’re kicked their ass.” One bus tour guide said “This is the Massachusetts State House. Nothing gets accomplished here and everyone is corrupt” and I couldn’t stop myself from shouting out “Hey!”

Anyway here’s my painting for the day:


I had a little time and a lot of paint left on my palette, and I felt guilty about not putting any pedestrians into the painting, so I also did the following one inch wide painting in the space of about five minutes:



I planned to go to Revere Beach a few weeks ago to do a little painting but there was some sand castle competition going on and I didn’t feel like dealing with the predicted half a million visitors. So I went down to Aquarium and did this painting:Image

The following week I did go to Revere Beach. Instead of sand castles there was a Latino beach volleyball tournament going on, complete with kiosks and a live radio broadcast. After about an hour I suddenly heard the following announcement (in English and Spanish):

“Come on down to the volleyball tournament, everyone! We’ve got food, we’ve got drinks, we’ve got prizes, we’ve got an artist…”

They had turned me into an attraction! I was tempted to see if I could extract some money for my services, but by the time I finished I was pretty sunburned and headed for home instead.

Revere Beach

Michael and Lord Paladin

August 16, 2013

I ran into Kelley, who I understand is no longer homeless but still hangs out in the Square doing needlepoint.  I gave her ten dollars in keeping with my decision to “spread the  wealth” from the $600 I got from the Globe for the panhandler article. Later another panhandler I painted last year showed up and I gave him ten bucks too. By the time I paid my subjects fifteen bucks I was pretty broke.

The guitarist in this painting, Michael, was setting up to play and invited me to paint him, so this piece is a little off subject and technically not part of the panhandler series, I asked him his friend’s name and got the answer, after a brief pause, “Lord Paladin,” As I started to set up an older guy sitting said to me “You can’t stand there! You’ll block my jewelry.” I apologized and moved. Later he chatted me up; turned out to be a retired cop  (he showed me his badge) and the jewelry was by his late daughter, who sad to say had died of an overdose. He was selling it kind of as a memorial. He showed me enough scars to make me queasy and asked me to be on the lookout for anyone bragging about a recent attack on a Cambridge police officer. Apparently a local cop was waking up the street people in one of their hangouts behind the Coop when someone snuck up and clobbered him with a brick. He’s recovering in the hospital but it’s one more reminder that there are good and bad folks among the homeless as with anyone else.

Michael and Lord Paladin

Harvard Yard

August 15, 2013

I got shooed out of Harvard Yard by an overzealous security guard. This was only the second time in 30 years of painting that I was told to vamoose. I had set up my easel and set out my palette but hadn’t actually started to paint, so I packed up and walked around the corner to this location, getting madder and madder all the time. I had my speech all ready in case another guard showed up (“I’m afraid you’ll have to arrest me. I’ll be happy to sue Harvard University for infringing on my First Amendment rights”), but of course it didn’t happen. The thing is, I’ve done half a dozen in the Yard over the years. Grr, I’m still fuming.


Harvard Yard

Bea spent more time setting up her display than I did setting up my easel. She brought a variety of fresh flowers to sell (she actually did sell one while I was there), although she was unclear on where the flowers came from. I sketched her here writing a small “Namaste” sign. I am happy to report that when two trustafarians with clipboards showed up to shill for Greenpeace, she successfully shooed them away with a guilt trip.