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.

Kate Huntington Show

October 2, 2017

I’ve known Kate for 12 or 13 years now. I started attending her figure sessions when she had a studio in East Providence. Her space went condo and she moved her operation to Gerry Puleo’s basement apartment for ten years. When Gerry lost his lease, Providence Picture Frame very kindly allowed her to set up shop in their third floor space and, in honor of her 25 years running the drawing session, set up a huge show of her and other attendees’ work. Donna Parsons, the gallery director/chief cook and bottle washer at the Dryden Gallery, did a superb job and for once I can’t complain about how my artwork was displayed or lit. If you’re in the Providence area, please stop in and check out all the wonderful artwork!

Well, it’s September now. Better start in on the backlog.

Here are the rest of the skull watercolors I’ve done to date, in the order done. Got busy with other stuff, but that will be the next post.

Deer and Ostrich. The ostrich is a little weak.

Pig, Seymour (Bones), and Three Views of a Human Skull:

The pig painting was thoughtfully ruined by my cat.


Squirrel and Cheetah:

I wasn’t really happy with these last few, so I took a little break from the watercolors for a few weeks. And then my birthday came.

The thing about birthdays is, if you want something for your birthday, you should get it for yourself. I happen to collect skulls and so every year I treat myself by buying one skull.

Oops. Got a little carried away this year.

For starters, I knew I wanted a monkey. I also knew I didn’t want to spend more than $150. I posted on a bunch of Facebook groups where people buy and sell skulls, but no response. I started looking around for alternatives.

I found an interesting skull, a good addition to my collection, on a wholesale skull-and-shell site. And it was only $45 too! Bonus! I went to check out… and found that I had to buy a minimum of $100 worth of stuff (wholesale, remember?). No problem, $100 was less than I was planning on spending anyway, so I ended up getting this:


Clockwise from the left, a gar, a bat skeleton, a hyrax (the original impetus for my purchase), two chicken skulls and two turtle (“cooter”) skulls (these last were minimum purchases). Cost me about $115 plus tax. I gave a friend the surplus skulls, then painted these:

Hyrax, Gar with Tape Dispenser, Cooter, and Two Views of a Chicken Skull:

The hyrax looks like a rodent but is actually more closely related to the elephant and the manatee.

And then… someone contacted me with a monkey skull for sale. It was half price, $75… I just couldn’t resist…

Vervet Monkey

It’s been a long time since I posted here and with good reason. The GoFundMe campaign was a success, the paintings were framed, the show went up, the show came down—two days later and I’m still exhausted.

The GoFundMe Campaign was a Success

Kinda… I raised $1400 (and that mostly through the generosity of my brother Eric), far below the $2500 I thought I needed. Luckily a friend turned my on to Franken Frames (http://www.frankenframes.com), where I was able to attractively frame the paintings for about $21 each. I can heartily recommend them.

The Paintings were Framed


It took a while but everything got framed, wired, wrapped and ready to go. The next step was to track down some food for the opening, and here I’d like to thank Otto Portland (http://www.ottoportland.com/) for their donation of five large pizzas. The pizza was delicious (mashed potato and bacon, anyone?) and a considerable number of the local homeless population got their pizza on. We also had veggie, fruit and dessert platters. The homeless folks who stuck around to the end left with quart baggies of leftovers.

The Show Went Up

Saturday was incredibly hectic. The show had to go up and come down the same day—there was going to be a punk concert the following night, so leaving it up was not an option. So step one was to pick up a rented van, which I did at 8 am. I drove it home, we loaded it with paintings and other stuff, loaded up the car too, and headed to Cambridge. We were lucky enough to find two parking spots outside the Democracy Center, where we were met by director Vero Smith and daughter Sara. We unloaded the car and van and started unwrapping paintings. At a certain point it became necessary to move the car/van to avoid a ticket. Vero had validation tickets for a nearby parking garage, so I first drove the van over there… and the entry was too low. I ended up parking the van in the hotel parking garage across the way. I then walked back to the Democracy Center, picked up the car and brought it to the first parking garage. When I got back the second time my brother Eric, his son Dave and a friend had arrived. I took them to the first garage and gave them the second parking validation I had, then walked them back to Harvard Square, gave them a brief tour and left them at Leavitt and Pierce while I headed back to the Democracy Center.

In my absence the hanging had gone exceedingly well. Each painting was hung with a brief description of the panhandler who had posed. We were actually done by 3:30 and were able to relax a little before the opening.

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Here’s the food:


You can tell I was pretty exhausted by the time I took these photos.

People started to arrive. Special thanks to Elena, Ian and Olivia, denizens of the Monday night figure drawing session at the Democracy Center, for coming. Also Dennis, who had been extremely helpful in getting the word out to the homeless community in Harvard Square:


and his wife Kelly (who was not really enthusiastic about having her picture taken):


Dennis became quite emotional by the end of the night. He told me, sadly, that Sean, pictured below, hadn’t been seen in a while and he feared he was dead. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s extremely difficult to find information or statistics about deaths in the homeless community. Unless there is something unique or odd about them or their demise, they merit neither a news article nor an obituary. Here is the portrait I painted of Sean in 2011.


I also chatted with the owner of Grolier Poetry Shop, who was equally concerned about Gary and Whitney, neither of whom had been seen in the Square since last fall. Both are Harvard Square regulars, so their absence reflects either extremely good news, or extremely bad.

Gary Whitneysmall

Alistair did show up around 5 and left at 6. He said that 6 pm was “rush hour” for him and he needed to get back to his spot in front of the Harvard Book Store in order to panhandle. Alistair also corrected some mistakes I had made in my description of his paintings. The scars on his face were not from fights; they were spots where he’d had tattoos removed.

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Here are some more pictures of the show:

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I spoke with a lot of people, received a lot of compliments and was literally reeling with exhaustion by the time 8 pm rolled around. Now it was time to take down the show.

The Show Came Down

I would like to especially thank, in addition to Vero Smith, my wife Joanne and my daughter Sara, Michael and Rachael Peckar, my step-brother and sister-in-law, for sticking around to the bitter end and helping take down the show. Once the take-down got started, I walked back to the parking garage (for the fourth time that day), picked up the van, and was very lucky to find a very illegal parking spot in from of the Democracy Center. We loaded up the van, I said my goodbyes, then drove Sara back to the garage to pick up our car, sent her back to pick up Joanne, and drove back to Mansfield.

It was a crazy, exhilarating day. Next on the agenda: getting the paintings down to Washington!

Well the Kickstarter campaign was a failure. My daughter said to me, “Why are you using Kickstarter? Use GoFundMe instead.” I said, “But isn’t that for racists and homophobes whose businesses are failing so they drum up support on GoFundMe by saying they won’t serve pizza at gay weddings?” and she said, “Oh Dad…”

Anyway, I’m on GoFundMe now. The purpose of the campaign is to raise money to frame my “Panhandlers of Harvard Square” paintings for a one day show at the Democracy Center in Harvard Square. Then the paintings are being put on permanent loan with the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington, DC. It’s a really worthwhile cause and if you stumble over this page, your contribution, in any amount, would be greatly appreciated (considering the subject matter, I’d actually prefer to get 2,500 $1 donations, but too late for that; my family and friends, and a few very kind strangers, have been very generous and I’m halfway to my goal). The GoFundMe page is here:


In addition to the info on that page, I’ve posted a couple of videos. I pulled all the paintings together for some photography, and took the opportunity to display them here, in all their unframed glory:

And I’ll also be posting little video vignettes about the panhandlers as well. Here’s the first one, about Frenchy and Ken:

More will follow. Incidentally, should the GoFundMe campaign go over the amount I’ve set, any extra money will be used to buy food for the opening or be donated to a worthy cause. Here’s a good one:


Thanks for your interest, and your help, and if you happen to be in Harvard Square on June 6, 2015, between 5 and 8 pm, please come to show!

Best wishes,

Marc Clamage


If you are in Cambridge on June 6th, please come to my showing of Panhandler portraits at the Democracy Center. The Democracy Center (45 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA) has very kindly offered to provide a venue for the paintings, on very short notice. The Democracy Center is engaged in an interesting project of its own—development of an urban farm to provide fresh organic produce for the homeless population of Cambridge.

The show will be up for only a few days–it’s a community center, not a gallery–and then the paintings will go to the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington on permanent loan, so this is your chance to see all the paintings in Massachusetts. The opening should be fun, and I’m hoping to put on a big feed for the local homeless folks.

I’m trying to raise the money to frame the paintings properly using Kickstarter, and every little bit helps. Please make a donation of as little as a dollar, and pass along this link to your friends:
Thanks, and I hope to see you there!