I have to play pickleball right after art today so I won’t paint with oil yet. I’ll be too messy and stinky. I gather some turkey soup and a few brushes and I pick up Oscar. I’m a little late because the power outage messed up the clocks. Also because I had to stop and take a picture of the old sardine factory near Oscar’s house for a New England Historical Society story.
Oscar says it’s okay I’m late, he wasn’t ready yet. We chat with Diana in the kitchen and tell her everything we did yesterday sucks. She says often the first thing you do is.
“Have fun,” she says as we leave.
“It’s work,” I say.
“I know, but it’s fun to work,” she says.
Oscar has a red Moleskine book he uses to help communicate. It has names and addresses, business cards, sketches. The book is ragged, he says it’s time for a new one. He hands me an envelope.
it’s my Christmas card. I love it.
He asks me to write my name and address in his new book. I see it’s from the National Gallery of Art. I point to my fountain painting. That’s from the National Gallery, I say. He tells me he loves that place. Shows me pictures he took there, of paintings by Picasso, by Stuart Davis. That’s what he wants to do with his Church of the Morning After painting.
I should bring in my Picasso book, the one Jean-Michel Basquiat used to pore over when he was living with my friend Alexis Adler. About the time he met Andy Warhol. We’re not sure how Alexis ended up with the book, but I was so glad she returned it to me several decades later. With Basquiat’s smudges and scribbles in it.
(“I like the druggy downtown kids who spray paint walls and trains
I like their lack of training, their primitive technique
I think sometimes it hurts you when you stay too long in school
I think sometimes it hurts you when you’re afraid to be called a fool” – from Songs for Drella.)
Oscar shows me another book. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. “I can’t use the right side of my brain anymore,” he says. “I can’t do architecture.”
“I have to find a way,” he says.
By 10:30 on Day Four all I’ve done is lift mistakes from my paintings. I lift the sky from the Maine lobster trap painting. I lift the sky from the Acadia Panorama painting, which looks like two separate paintings fighting with each other. Maybe if I lighten the sky it will be better. Maybe if I replace the cobalt with cerulean and a dash of cadmium the sky and the land will stop fighting each other.
Day Four Visitors
Hub White comes in, our first visitor. He’s a DIAA board member. “It’s because you don’t have a visitor’s chair,” he says. He finds one in a closet.
Oscar and Hub both studied architecture at the University of Michigan — at the same time, Oscar realizes. We talk about how gray it is in the Upper Midwest, how it gets dark here at 3:30 pm, what it’s like to paint big and to paint small.
Someone mentions John Singer Sargent. It’s his birthday today. Hub says he likes his travel paintings and his watercolors better than his society portraits. I say I think Sargent did too. I think he had to suck up to a lot of rich people to make a living, then when he didn’t have to anymore he painted what he wanted to paint. Like ‘Gassed.’
Andy Warhol sucked up to rich people, too. Wonder if he’d been so successful if he hadn’t befriended Edie Sedgwick. Probably. There are plenty of rich people in Manhattan.
After Hub leaves, Linda Campbell drops in. Her surveying office, Due North, shares the building. I say I hear she’s becoming a drone pilot. She says there’s so much to know: airspace, weather, kinds of planes. She was taking a class at UMaine-Orono and everyone in it works for CMP, Emera or big construction companies. When the power went out on Wednesday the power companies sent drones to look for the outages, she says.
Annie Taylor Gray comes in briefly. She drove three hours to Bangor and back for a two-minute dentist appointment.
When I get home I post a photo of our Day Four work on Facebook.
“There was a lovely feeling in there today,” posts Annie.