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.

Some Recent Paintings

August 10, 2014

Here’s a little landscape I saw in Cambridge. This is what I was on my way to paint when I ended up painting Erich.

Cambridge Common, 5 x 3.5

Cambridge Commons

I brought my paints into work on Friday and left early to do a panhandler painting; and once again there was nobody new to paint. This is starting to piss me off. I chatted with Keith, who is not doing well physically, then kept looking unsuccessfully. Eventually I ended up in front of the bank next to my office. There were Gary and Whitney. They practically begged me to paint them so I ended up doing my third do-over portrait of the season.

Gary and Whitney

I’m not really that happy with it. It’s more about a set of circumstances–two people who once again are homeless and now drag all their belongings around with them on a cart and in various bags and backpacks–than it is about two people. I’m unhappy with the portrait but reasonably satisfied with the genre painting.

I guess I should relate their story, which goes like this: they were staying in a room provided by an acquaintance who had lucked into a home by marrying an alien seeking a green card who was willing to pay to marry an American citizen. Once her residency was established she flew back to South America for a visit and it was while she was away that their friend invited them in. There they had provided their friend with necessary medication (I’m not quite sure about this) at their own expense and to the tune of $2,000 when the wife suddenly came home and threw them both out. Needless to say, they are furious about this.

On the plus side, Whitney is in remission from her cancer and looks very healthy. She was trying to pin down a shelter and needed to make a phone call at a certain time, but the battery in her phone was dead. So she needed to go into Panera to plug in her phone, but the manager at Panera was very rude to her and followed her around everywhere, even into the bathroom, when she came into the store. They made a point of buying a cup of iced coffee there each day so they could establish themselves as customers.

While we were painting a personable young Asian woman came along and offered to buy Gary and Whitney food. She soon came back with a meal and sat down with them to eat. She is one of those rare but charming slacker Asians, completely Americanized, casual and aimless; an indication of what the children of today’s obsessive Asian overachievers will be like.  Eventually another panhandler of the “grubby youngster” variety arrived, complimented her, and took her off with an offer to introduce her to the other Pit denizens, with all of whom he was friends. “He’s not friends with them,” Gary said after they left. “She should be careful around him.” However, she came back about an hour later, none the worse for wear. Then a young man stopped and asked them if they needed foam cushions to use as bedding. He also provided blankets. I later saw Susan at the T stop with a new pillow still in its packaging, which I assume came from the same source. I’ll have to find out if this was fairly typical of the largess the good people of Cambridge bestow upon their homeless population.

We were also joined by Joe, who had suffered either a stroke or a head injury–I’m not quite sure as this information was conveyed in a whisper by Gary–and certainly his speech had a characteristic halting quality. He was very interested to pose and so the next day I came back and painted:


Joe was not very forthcoming as a conversationalist. At the same time, he managed to extract from me quite a bit more information about myself than I was able to get from him, which was, as I said, zero.

At one point I pulled out my box of baby wipes, which I use to clean paint off my hands. “Can I have one of those?” he asked and I said of course. He proceeded to wipe his brow and his head and I soon offered him another one. By the end of the painting session he’d used four or five. When I was done I handed him a ten dollar bill and said, “Her’s your fee.” Then I handed him the box of baby wipes and said, “Here’s your tip.”