Random Musing No. 1

August 4, 2018

The human eye has a range of 120°, mostly peripheral vision, compared to the camera’s typical 200° or more. That is why the figures sometimes seem distorted at the edges of a photograph. We make up for this seeming deficit by moving our focus (in movements called “saccades”) around a scene to build up a gestalt awareness of its appearance.
A painting, curated by human intelligence, is superior in every respect to a photograph, except for how long it takes to make it. If cameras took three hours to create the exact same image as they do now in a split second, there would be no question as to which medium people would choose when they needed an image recorded.

Pickman’s Model

September 10, 2015

Pickman's Model

Oh my God… what have I done… He said his name was Pickman and he offered me $10,000 to paint a portrait of his friend. He paid in gold coins from the reign of William III. I took the commission… God knows I needed the money… Imagine my surprise, my horror, when I saw who the model was to be! But by then it was too late, I had no choice.

I have been places I should not have been, I have tasted things I should not have tasted. The portrait is almost done, and both Pickman and his model have told me they are pleased with the results. Now they tell me they want another portrait, a group portrait this time, something like Rembrandt’s “Syndics of the Clothiers Guild”… or perhaps “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp” would be more appropriate. I told them no, and this morning when I awoke, my wife and children were gone, spirited away.

I must go to them, and I do not think I will be coming back. They told me to take no pictures, but the world must know what lies beneath. If I go missing, do NOT open the trap door in the back of my garage. Let the world know, protect yourselves…

* * *

Well, I’m back from dream-haunted Kadath! It all turned out to be a silly mistake. My wife and children are fine and are taking a well-deserved vacation in the Mountains of Madness (the skiing is excellent this time of year!). I painted the group portrait Pickman and Cywexggjsdjxhkfeyf wanted, and it was easy as pie. Those guys can really stay still, it’s like painting a corpse. Unfortunately I was not able to take a photo of the painting because the laws of physics are different there, but here is the finished Pickman’s Model painting. I’d still recommend against opening that trapdoor in the back of my garage, and please, do not disturb the metal cylinders stored back there. They’re very important to me. Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nfah Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

* * *

This painting is completely atypical for me, I actually spent a good deal of time on it so it deserves some explanation. First of all, this is an obvious tribute to H.P. Lovecraft and the short story of the same name. I happen to be a big fan, live 30 miles from Lovecraft’s home town of Providence and have even recently gone with a friend to visit Lovecraft’s modest grave. Then my daughter came back from a visit to Providence with a tee shirt  for me (“R’lyeh – City of Dreams – Necronomicon Providence,” with a picture of Chthulhu on it) and awesome news—it being Lovecraft’s 125th birthday there would be a convention in Providence—NecronomiCon—in his honor. I was very excited to go.

About the same time I had been cleaning out my garage/studio and came across a large tube of cheap, student grade Flake White oil paint. It’s something I would never, ever use in one of my paintings, and yet, there it was, going to waste. I also have a number of extremely large canvases given to me by my step-mom that have just been sitting there, so I had the brainstorm to do this painting. I never work from imagination, but the concept behind what Pickman’s model would look like came to me in a flash—part human, part mole, part frog, part extraterrestrial—and aside from that, everything else in the painting (including the skeleton!) is straightforward still life of my studio.

I completed the painting over six sessions and was able to document each stage before proceeding.

Pickman's Model WIP 1

Pickman's Model WIP 2

Pickman's Model WIP 3

Pickman's Model WIP 4

Pickman's Model WIP x