Friday, June 10, 2016

More On Art

  • Moron Art
  • Miserable Thursday Night Busking Prompts Change

The Howard Portrait

The biggest thorn in my side was having only one pencil and one crappy sharpener which wouldn't give it a sharp point; to work with -the eraser on its other end became crucial.

I basically could do what I do now when I was in third grade (I could also play a guitar at a level that I never improved upon until I was in my late teens) but I never developed it further.
There was a suggestion from perhaps the nun that taught 3rd grade; that I perhaps be sent to some kind of art school, but that was quashed by my dad who foresaw me using the college fund that he had already started for a degree in chemistry (the idea in 1970) or computer science (by 1980)

I understand and appreciate my dad's looking out for me that way; especially now that I am studying American History, and can see how by having acquiesced to his plan I could be on easy street now.
A "valuable" education could have ensured the preservation of  my middle class status and given me an advantage over those kids whose dads couldn't, or wouldn't afford 4 years of education at Worcester Polytechnic College..."anybody can draw or strum a guitar; do you really want to have to compete against them all?"
This was my chance to leapfrog all of the future skeezers of the world who, behind a panorama of excuses would never become degreed. I understand that now. My dad just drew the short straw in having that rare son who was destined to wind up singing "The Carcass Song" on Bourbon Street -kind of hard to see that coming in a youth of 7 years; and the aptitude tests aren't much help there, either....
America was all about "giving your kids all the advantages that you can."
Wasn't college enrollment even one of the disqualifiers for the draft (the "conscription" if you're college educated) that helped send 57,000 to their deaths in places with names that they couldn't pronounce? (I haven't gotten that far in the American History tomb; I'm up to 1947 now [and I hope none of you readers think that I am spreading communistic ideas in this blog, by the way...]).
Maybe it was a blessing in disguise that I just couldn't see the whole picture when I was young and become dead serious about life.

Why I'm Not A Portrait Artist

I could never force a person to sit for hours while I erase and redo and perform nose jobs on them; and then there are changing light situations; and -probably what the real pros practice- how to make the subject look "better' by basically becoming, also, a makeup artist -false graphite eyelashes? Sure...

I have done exactly one real oil painting. It was after I got an insurance settlement after a motorcycle accident and could buy all of the necessary materials to include an easel.

By the time I had finished it, I had learned 80% of what they probably teach in oil painting class, by trial and error. I did have a lot of people stop to look at the work in progress and most were very complimentary; though it was a small town with not much else going on.

The subject was a 1870's era Victorian house that was octagonal in shape -probably got photographed a lot- and I remember the little girl who lived there, the 8 year old daughter of my music teacher, coming out once and interrogating my on: "Why are you drawing our house?!?"

[*10 Seconds with Google Maps and voila! There is the house (left). I painted it from an aspect to the far left, where the crosswalk; which wasn't there then; leads to].

That house reminds me...

Coming soon: More of  the story of that house, which was a huge part of my life when I was 25. It looks like it is on the market and has been, at the time of this photo, long enough for the sidewalk cracks to have become overgrown with grass; and the bushes in the back yard are definitely not being held to the standards of the family that once lived there. I think they have moved into the brick mansion that was owned by the father in law of my music teacher, Diane Cushing. 

I have had the idea of setting up an art display beside me as I busk -an array of famous musicians copied from famous photos of them? -just drawings of Jerry Garcia, so I might profit from the collateral: "Do you play any dead songs...I see you like to draw Jerry?" But, I think only the originals would have any value; and I really don't have any "style," unless it would be: "photorealism."

But, if people want to give me a photo, I would be happy to basically reproduce it, at my leisure; complete with the mistakes that we all love because it makes us human LOL
Hangs by the clock

Yes, the final touch on the drawing to the left was to have her holding a magnifying glass to her right eye; to explain why it is larger than her other eye.

Thursday, I left the apartment before sundown; hoping to make it to the music store in time to buy strings. Had I not made it there in time, I would have come back home. That would have been a blessing.
I got to the Lilly Pad and put the new strings on and began to play; happy that I could still use the harmonica if I kept the melody within the range of the holes that worked; and ultimately disappointed that I couldn't play as freely and had to abort some melodies, which was embarrassing.
At one point, I didn't feel like playing at all. I couldn't think of a song that's message I wanted to put out there; "Imagine," by John Lennon even seemed a shallow meaningless parlay. I had gotten "medium" strings, which were making it harder to play and hurting my fingers on certain chords.
The weed I had smoked 5 hours earlier was just putting me to sleep.
I was ready to leave. I checked the time: 10:08 PM. You've got to be kidding me; this is the time that I often start and already I feel like leaving....
I took a short break and then forced myself to go back at it. Most of the 9 dollars that I would wind up making came from that second set.

I decided that I cannot smoke weed during the day and expect to have any useable energy by 10 PM at night.

I've also decided that, given the state of financial emergency that I am in; that I had better learn how to sit there and play anything, whether I am "feeling it" or not; just to put the time in and collect tips from people with the "I always give the musicians a couple dollars" attitude.

It is almost 7 PM on this Friday, it just rained for about 20 minutes, and then stopped. It will be getting dark outside soon; and I prepared to go out there and go through the motions at the bare minimum; and maybe have someone come along and request an original and tip me enough for a new harmonica at the most...
Insult to injury:

I ran into Jay The Really Loud Singer, who had apparently been drinking as evidenced by the almost empty Hand Grenade sitting next to him.

He had given up on making any money off of the same cheap tourists that I must have encountered and was singing out, making fun of them; strumming a blues progression and singing things like: "Oh, I'm a dork from Michigan and my wife wears ugly shoes...etc" when a guy with a Michigan sweatshirt on walked past with a wife wearing unusual shoes.

He continued on; apparently not caring if he made a tip or not and, quite frankly, getting away with stuff because he is large and mean looking, that other buskers might have had their guitar kicked in for.

I appreciated seeing someone else freestyling like I do myself and I wound up breaking my guitar out and jamming with him.

I was singing funny lyrics and he was singing whatever popped into his drunken head, and people were actually pausing to listen.

A guy gave Jay a 100 dollar bill.

I hadn't heard what the guy said to him while he was handing it to him; it could have been: "Can you break this and give your partner 50?"

Jay showed it to me, as he seems compelled to show off such things and said: "Look at what that guy just gave me!" and then quickly explained that the guy had remembered him from last year, or something. From his tone of voice it was clear that he was anticipating me trying to claim some of it. I could have ran after the tourist and said: "Excuse me, was that tip just for Jay, because he said it was; or for the both of us?"

Even if the guy had then said, "No, I told him to break it and give you half..." he might have argued that he would have gotten the money anyways.

All I know was that, he was sitting there insulting people. One guy walked up and asked him if he played any "Metallica," and then walked off with a "sorry to bother you" expression after Jay had just stared back at him without saying anything.

Then we jammed together and it turned from insulting to kind of comic; prompting Jay to say that we could make a lot of money together; and then the 102 dollars instantly materialized on a night that had been so slow as to have Jay pissed off and insulting people.

I would have given that thought a passing consideration if he had at least offered me one dollar to go with the 9 that I had made the whole night. That would have given me an even 10 dollars and, he still would have had about $135.

It would have been easy for him to have pocketed the 100 and not shown it to me.

I would have done that; rather than feel like the 10 year old kid: "Look what I got! And you can't have any!!! Ha ha!!"

It's funny now to recall that after I had first met Jay about 3 years ago, I had deemed him to be selfish and didn't really hang around him much. After having walked past him 900 times since, there had been a gradual eroding away of that opinion.

It is not such a big deal to me; especially given the fact that Jay pays rent somewhere; and has child support issues and has frequent encounters with crystal meth -the times that he will play all night until the sun comes up and then all that day until the sun goes down and then all night until the sun comes up..which puts into a different perspective his typical boasts of "...that all you made? I made 300 yesterday and 220 the day before!!"


alex carter said...

The best way to do "portraits" would be to do ones of famous people, print those off and hand-sign each one, maybe add some hand-coloring. This way the buyer has the experience of getting something "hand-made by the actual artist" while the actual artist is making a decent hourly wage. You can also do drawings of local landmarks, and do it the same way, print 'em up, sign 'em in pencil and add hand-coloring if you like, it doesn't have to be elaborate.

The way to do portraits out in the open for people is to learn "caricature" drawing, 99% of which is really just being able to draw a portrait quickly. There are tons of tutorials about it online, and the best single source on that is to look up the YouTube videos done by "Elgin Bolling" he's good, very helpful, and very encouraging.

I've seen it said more than once that at tourist locations, the tourists often prefer to get something physical, like a drawing, than hear music, or at least that they'll pay more for a physical thing they can take home with them.

alex carter said...

Comp sci would have been a decent degree for making money, chemistry eh, not so much. But ultimately it comes down to what you like.

I was considered "destined" to become an artist, and it went from constantly having drawing materials put into my hands from before I can remember, to my teens when my earnings often as not went to feeding myself and my younger siblings. For me, music was the forbidden fruit. If I weren't obsessed with escaping poverty I'd have gone for a music degree, and the real twist was that by going into electronics I guaranteed myself a life of poverty, whereas, with a degree in music I'd have done much better.

It takes being interested in something enough and finding it enjoyable enough, to happily spend hours a day doing it at a high energy level. A sayind attributed to many people is "quantity has a quality all its own" and this certainly applies to any sort of interest or career.

You and I are the same age, roughly. If we'd both gone for comp sci, we'd have gone through the motions well enough, and due to being "there" at the birth of the micro-computer, we'd have probably done OK. But the comp sci student who really loves comp sci, who does it for fun on the side when their comp sci homework is done, will really come out ahead.

The reason Loud Guitar Guy makes "dah moolah" is because, apparently, he's capable of getting some meth in himself and going all-out for hours. I'd wager he probably had a decent singing voice and that's a huge asset. Same reason Tanya & Dorise do well - they're out there at a high energy level for hours.

If you're not a cute Chinese gal who's been playing the violin for 5 hours a day since she was 5 years old, or don't have a huge foghorn voice, then it might work out well to team up with another musician or musicians.

Or, if art calls to you which it obviously does, give that a swing.