Peter’s Crazy Aunt #4: colour and chiaroscuro study

Edward G. Nilges, “Colour and Chiaroscuro Study for Peter’s Crazy Aunt”, pen and coloured pencil with Gimp modification and adjustment using Microsoft Office Picture Manager, 19 Nov 2010, A4 size

O she doth teach the Torches to burne bright:
It seemes she hangs vpon the cheeke of night,
As a rich Iewel in an Aethiops eare:
Beauty too rich for vse, for earth too deare:
So shewes a Snowy Doue trooping with Crowes,
As yonder Lady ore her fellowes showes.

Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

A note to certain Ladies: no, this is not the image of my “dream girl”, so please, don’t compare yourself to it and imagine that I only like skinny blondes. I do, but they’re not the stuff dreams are made upon in all situations.

Otto Weininger, in Sex and Character, speaks of Woman as the eternal (ewige) match-maker and as such destructive of creativity. Otto Weininger is a real “male chauvinist pig” but it’s true that the origin of consciousness is suffering and withdrawal of the sugar tit, and consciousness is good, right? Even the consciousness of one’s pain?

I heard a segment this morning on the BBC World Service in which a hiker, his hand trapped between two rocks, rejoiced when he figured out that he could systematically smash the bones of his hand to free himself and welcomed the pain. Ow.

“Peter’s Crazy Aunt” is art, it is myth, it is fable and as such it may dance widdershins to the true image, or, there may be no image of Jerusalem.

Let me be clear. I ain’t no spring chicken and while this image bears a certain resemblance to my first love, that was a very long time ago. 1968, baby, if you must know. There still was a Riverview Park at Western and Belmont back in Chicago. Today there’s a jail and a Devry University.

The image is one of a feeling, that one might get in Riverview or an airport where you see some stranger and she’s going one way and you the other, but you smile at each other…and then, like Bernstein in Citizen Kane, you never forget her.

The piety of the Torah is never imagining what Salvation might be like.

I reassert the Line, where form seeks infinity of darkness. Well, something like that. Anything to set my face against art school pieties about loosenin’ up and bein’ Authentic and drawing some sad girl who needs the money to pose. Yes, her calves are underdeveloped in relation to those magnificent shoulders. This is because she’s a swimmer, dammit. She likes to swim, dammit. She goes to the pool during Ladies hour only because during adult swim there’s a guy, who lives in the YMCA where the pool is and drives a black van, and creep won’t take his eyes off her. All right? OK.

Where was I. Oh yes, the Line. In the beginning was the line. Drawing it with full consciousness and as much restraint as one can muster, and being aware that you are not drawing the Ideal line: that is a mere division, a Platonic idea, and it has no thickness.

Whereas the real line is a trench as real as at the Somme, varying in width, and suggesting a world outside the boundaries of the visual field, things in themselves which eye hath not seen.

I should have checked out Donald Knuth’s classic “Digital Typography” from the library last night and did not, shall during my next visit. This is because Knuth discovered that the letters do not have simple curves but are instead insanely erotic in shape. He’s got a whole chapter on the letter S, that Cleopatra, that queen of letters.

Or something like that. Anyway, I found a nice big and narrow canvas at Commercial Press on the Hennessy Road, so once more unto the breach.

I have been asking myself, over the last couple of days, why I have chosen this image instead of a theme of High Seriousness such as the Continence of Scipio or the Dying Lament of Widow Dido. MCM Poussin, mon cher maitre, is rolling in his grave.

Well, for one thing, there is a serious theme: that Peter didn’t have a father and didn’t seem to need one, which was and is an invitation to me to become the usual caricature, the failed Lear, a thing of darkness which I abjure. For another, Crazy Aunts are cool. My brother and I had a crazy aunt as did my kids.

In computer programming, you Know: in art, you Never Know. Which is why I always took too long in programming, I wanted to defer the bad news, which was “the expense of spirit in a waste of shame”: in software I wasted my talents by making computers do crappy stuff. But in art there is always that intimation if you will of crossing the line. Plus when you’re done, even if it’s unsaleable, you have something colorful to put on your walls.

Note: those online “show your art” sites are pathetic, although I’m on RedBubble, Saatchi, and ObsessedArtist. You are one of thousands unlikely in the strict mathematical sense to be Culled Out even if you don’t suck.

Also, when I view the thumbnails, there seems to be two types of artist: the one who can’t (or won’t) draw and takes his childish revenge with deliberate offence and uglification (like Enrique Chagoya, who could do so much better giving his etchings), and the realistic artist who, rot her boots, can do much better at pure realismus than me, whether because she draws from life, uses computer shortcuts, has learned art skewl tricks, or has more “talent”.

That could mean that I fill a need. Or it could mean that I have a true vision that overpowers my hand: compare Poussin and Vouet: Vouet is never clumsy but Poussin can be at the crisis: the latter’s Inspiration of the Poet comes to mind.

My last painting (chronicled below), “Lana Sutton as the Dancer of Dawn” was as far as I’m concerned a miserable failure, although the lady liked it and it shows a good use of colour. It was too small and my smaller brushes are gunked up. But it produced a lot of cool intermediate stages.

What did Mao Zedong say? Fight, fail, fail again, fight again.

Anyway, this new project should drive my Stalker crazy. This is a local boy who’s probably a moderator of the awful site http://www.lamma.com.hk who is outraged that when I draw women I draw myself. Younger men have set their face against androgyny, even that form of androgyny which treats male and female as adjustable dimensions, both of whose magnitudes can increase, as in the case of Joan of Arc. If I have to “get in touch with my female side” (to use distinctly Seventies language) in order to clean up after myself or forgive another, then if necessary I’ll wear a goddamn dress down the high street. Fortunately that shall probably not be necessary.

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3 Responses to “Peter’s Crazy Aunt #4: colour and chiaroscuro study”

  1. Creepy. Like all your “female” portraits, looks like you in a skirt. And you tagged this freak “pretty girls”? You’re not only your own ideal man, you’re your own ideal woman. Narcissism doesn’t get more extreme or obvious.

  2. spinoza1111 Says:

    Bingo, just as I thought. Hi, Alan.

    You’re getting warmer, just try to control yourself, because yes, I still have cute legs, as no doubt you have noticed: they’re the last to go. I also have a vulnerable expression which makes men think they can screw with me until they realize, too late, that it’s best not to mess with me.

    Anyway, stalk away. You’re making a fool of yourself. A necessary fool.

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