Archive for painting

State of Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 31 Dec (Start of Grisaille)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2011 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges, “Detail of State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Flibbertigibbet Knucklehead Aunt as of 31 Dec 2011’, acrylic grisaille on canvas 60 *80 cm”

Edward G. Nilges, “State in-situ of ‘Peter’s Crazy Flibbertigibbet Knucklehead Aunt as of 31 Dec 2011’, acrylic grisaille on canvas 60 *80 cm”

Because I suck at photography I cannot communicate accurately what happens when I start to highlight her face, the sky, her body with purest white. Nonetheless I have commenced the grisaille phase. I find it so magical.


Yes, in the beginning God created the heaven and earth, and Ihr Sprache, let there be light. I can only celebrate this through mimesis. Beats working.

This re-enactment of the Apollo 8 Christmas message is kitsch, but one nice thing about being one of Edward Said’s “disobliging old gentleman” is that you don’t have to worry about going “through” Kitsch, around the moon (like Munchshausen) to the other side where things “shoot” (zuschammen) into the mirror writing.

This clip mythologizes the romance (sad story) of the divorced technical male who, from either the complexity of what he does, or state secrecy at places like Lockheed, cannot speak of what he does or accomplishes to his children (seinem Kinder) and is, like Mike Douglas’ character in Falling Down, on the dark side of the moon. It tugs at the heart-strings because you want the children and “that wretched Anne, thy wife” to see you on the TV in front of which they parked themselves so long ago.

Besides, they really did go, didn’t they. One of the oldest conspiracy theories is that it was a simulacrum, and this was believed by a bitter, twisted and prematurely aged philosophy graduate student of my acquaintance after he failed to get his dissertation completed.

The common element of conspiracy theories, apart from the logical fallacy of unfalsifiability (for the conspiracy theorist can at one and the same time appeal to documents and call inconvenient documentary evidence a fabrication), is the denial of suffering, struggle, death and victory in the name of the triviality of the flaneur.

It is inconvenient to some clown who can’t get his act together that Shakespeare did, leaving his wife to start a business and at the same time creating the greatest works of the English language.

It is inconvenient to some on the island that I live, artists who cannot draw the human figure, editors who cannot write a complete sentence above a low upper bound of complexity, and earth lovers who can’t walk to the pub, that I climbed Mt Stenhouse with a mate, so in the dysfunctional site it was bruited that I just didn’t.

It is an Inconvenient Truth that, while the neocons evilly chose to exploit 9-11, a collapsing building does blow out what looks to idiots like explosions and are merely cement, concrete and the souls of men and women squashed like fucking bugs…thanks to our abandonment of Afghanistan and military presence in Saudi Arabia.

It is an Inconvenient Truth that we’ve fucked up the earth so much as possibly to change even plate tectonics (cf Global Catastrophe, a Brief Introduction, Oxford).

It is an Inconvenient Truth that Jews were murdered by people like us who sit in fancy restaurants in gracious arrondissements and locate Evil in the Other.

In a sense, in the rejection of a father by a son, there’s this element of conspiracy theory.

Therefore I leave like the astronauts this trace. I trust that Chinese Taikonauts, when they arrive on the Moon in 2020 will not even if ordered to do so by some clown in the Party eradicate the footprints in the still Moon dust made by Neil and Buzz and the gang. That’s because the Chinese are good people.

Happy New Year. Listen!! Glenn Gould compared the slow elaboration of the tune, like the creation of a galaxy, to Hindemith. It is a mind blower to which I have danced alone on our football pitch on Lamma Island.

Slow elaboration and refinement, for its own sake, is how the artist participates in Creation. What’d Jackson Pollock say? “I am nature”.

Edward G. Nilges, “State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Flibbertigibbet Knucklehead Aunt as of 31 Dec 2011’, acrylic grisaille on canvas 60 *80 cm”

“Chloris eram quae Flora vocor” (I am Cloris who was Flora called)

There shall be colors, anon, even as Cloris brought color into the world.


Peter’s Crazy Aunt #11: All This Useless Beauty (Cluster of Rainbows)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 18, 2010 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges, “State of Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 18 Dec 2010 10:00 PM (final grisaille state)”, acrylic on canvas, 20″x30″

Edward G. Nilges, “State of Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 18 Dec 2010 12:00 PM (initial colour state)”, acrylic on canvas, 20″x30″

Edward G. Nilges, “Tryptch for Peter’s Crazy Aunt”, desaturated photographs of acrylic painting, 18 Dec 2010

Edward G. Nilges, “Fouillis d’arcs-en-ciel, pour l’Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps, for Peter’s Crazy Aunt”. Photograph of detail of acrylic painting montaged with accidental photo of same and part of a painting made at Open Space, Lamma Island, 2010. 18 Dec 2010.

It’s at times such as this she’d be tempted to spit
If she wasn’t so ladylike
She imagines how she might have lived
back when legends and history collide
So she looks to her prince finding he’s so charmingly
slumped at her side
Those days are recalled on the gallery wall
And she’s waiting for passion or humour to strike
What shall we do, what shall we do with all this useless beauty?
All this useless beauty

Good Friday arrived, the sky darkened on time
‘Til he almost began to negotiate
She held his head like a baby and said “It’s okay if you cry”
Now he wants her to dress as if you couldn’t guess
He desires to impress his associates
But he’s part ugly beast and Hellenic deceased
So she finds that the mixture is hard to deny

She won’t practice the looks from the great tragic books
That were later disgraced to face celluloid
It won’t even make sense but you can bet
If she isn’t a sweetheart or plaything or pet
The film turns her into an unveiled threat

Nonsense prevails, modesty fails
Grace and virtue turn into stupidity
While the calendar fades almost all barricades to a pale compromise
And our leaders have feasts on the backsides of beasts
They still think they’re the gods of antiquity
If something you missed didn’t even exist
It was just an ideal — is it such a surprise?

Elvis Costello

The Siren (below in a non-likeness) thought that black won’t work with the relaxed gaiety of the figure, but La Sirene doesn’t know any more than I do where this is going (cf notes below about artistic originality), and I am interested in its Goyescas: the idea of painting a beauty surrounded by a black. Which means the clash of pink and black is now part of my intention.

I remain fascinated by the initial application of colour to chiaroscuro and am enchanted by the possibility of the human face. Modernism seems superficial. I want the depth, the space, of Richard Strauss, the late Strauss, the Last Songs of 1948.

The strength and errors of my drawing unreconciled, shining through, the firmness of the figure, here I stand, ich kann nicht anders, walking towards the TSA scanner at the airport.

Peter’s Crazy Aunt #10

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 6, 2010 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges, “Colour Study for Peter’s Crazy Aunt”, photo of state of painting as of 6 Dec 2010, coloured pencils.

Peter’s Crazy Aunt #9

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 3, 2010 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges, “State of Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 3 Dec 2010”, acrylic on canvas, 20*30 in.

I FOUND the phrase to every thought
I ever had, but one;
And that defies me,—as a hand
Did try to chalk the sun

To races nurtured in the dark;
How would your own begin?
Can blaze be done in cochineal,
Or noon in mazarin?

Emily Dickinson

I won’t get fooled again

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 3, 2010 by spinoza1111

In 1966 I figured out how to use acrylics to simulate tempera with the depth of oil, and was using this method at the School of the Art Institute in 1970. Many people expressed admiration while one girl was really pissed at me, since I unwittingly used a photo lab that was under construction as studio space, getting paint all over.

I overheard some of my fellow students asking our instructor how I did it, and he replied, dismissively, that “all I did” was use expensive sable brushes, a cartoon, ink wash shading, grisaille and glaze. I was in, I felt, in no position to ask for more recognition, having been denied admission to SAIC three years before because of my academic grades by a fat slob in SAIC’s admission office.

You have to cultivate people, avoid speaking truth to power, and build a reputation but my family always believed you should conform, be silent, work hard, and be good at what you do. Well, last August 31, I had my hopefully last demonstration of what happens when you do this: let go with one hour’s notice after five years of great classes, six days a week, being told it wasn’t a termination, just a contract non-renewal.

[Fought that using Hong Kong’s Labour Relations department and won. Working two new jobs four days a week and much happier.]

Today, the prospect of recognition as an artist is close to zero…hell it is different from zero by an infinitesimal amount (which means it is zero). This is because I’ve lost forty years trying and failing for recognition, something for which as a narcissistic personality I have more than usual need, in a completely different field.

But this is freeing, since I only have to paint as best I can, and use other skills to hustle for some sort of living. At the same time, I can self-promote cheaply using the Internet. In 1970, you had to have a friend with a camera photograph your work. In 1982 you could get one of those old instant Polaroid cameras and watch the snapshots develop, but I was using these to take pix of the children instead…they loved watching the chemicals develop.

But younger artists need to learn to develop their careers. An excellent source of advice is Elizabeth Briel, who put together my one man show in 2007.

You need to learn how to bullshit about your work. In 1970, I was so shy that the instructor discovered he could say cruel things and get away with it: “thees hand looks like a bunch of zee grapes” and “eet ees foolish to use a computer to preent a table of divine proportions”.

Zee hand looked, in a painting that is probably in a midden somewhere in Seattle, like zee bunch of grapes because it was chopping downward to make a point. And, of course, I was a pioneer in using the computer in the arts.

The problem is that if you have a passive aggressive shy personality and you are a narcissist, people will walk all over you. And if your family thinks “being successful” is being a lawyer who defends corporations’ rights to screw their employees, or being a medical billing clerk, well, you’re toast.

Learn how to listen to criticism and use it. Elizabeth doesn’t like many of my works, especially my “Barbie Dolls” as she calls them, supermodels drawn exclusively from my fevered imagination, and my own kynesthetic sense in my own workout practice. But this only means I need to be better as regards the supermodels, use live models where possible, and, when she likes something, it means much more.

You are as an artist the Unknown, flying into the Unknown. If you’re writing a computer program, you know what the final result should be: it should work, and be elegantly written as source code.

But when Glenn Gould sat down at Columbia to record the Goldberg Variations, I don’t think he fully knew what he wanted. He knew what he didn’t want: the harpsichord sound of antiquity which would situate Bach in an ancient church and not speak to us. He also saw the notes on the page and happened to have the perfect hands and body to deliver these notes without rubato or mush. And then he worked hard.

But that doesn’t begin to explain anything, for the spaces between the notes are just as important: the microtiming. In the legs of Peter’s Crazy Aunt, there are a number of subtle depressions, in the back of the lower leg, under the patella and when the leg becomes a foot. Accurate anatomy cannot begin to scientifically describe them statically since they are the product of movement. Nice girls who look like her won’t pose for me since they make more money working as models at IFC, and photographs (like CDs) conceal as well as reveal.

Therefore I have to transmit the feeling in my own legs through my hand to the canvas which is really, really weird.

“Edward G. Nilges in special shorts, 3 Dec 2010”

Peter’s Crazy Aunt #8: Some Dancing to Remember

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 30, 2010 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges, “State of Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 30 Nov 2010″, acrylic on canvas, 20×30”

Edward G. Nilges, “State of Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 30 Nov 2010″, acrylic on canvas modified with Gimp, 20×30”

Her mind is definitely twisted
She’s got the “Mercedes-Benz”
She got a lot of pretty pretty boys
Who she calls friends
Seem them dance in the courtyard
Sweet summer sweat
Some dancing to remember
Some dancing to forget

The Eagles, Hotel California

The wash chiaroscuro is finished: the grisaille has been started.

The shoulder further away from the viewer needs to be a veritable cascade of light going down from where it hits her hair.

Her hair is a memory of an experiment with dreadlocks.

There is a lot going on on her tummy and legs.

Above all, she dresses not to entice nor entrap but for comfort and to survive with part time work as a model. Part of my inspiration is passing through Hong Kong’s International Financial Centre on the way to work, and working to survive as a film extra.

IFC is often the locus of model shoots especially in the small hours of the morning, and sometimes one sees positive troupes or herds or flocks of models, smashingly dressed at their own expense, clomping towards an assignment. This, and working recently as an extra where we had to look much more fabulous than real airline passengers, but played real airline passengers, brings to my attention the reality, oh the humanity, of fashion models.

Indeed, I have a vision of a near-future society in which the actual wealthy become so twisted in their souls that, in a Picture of Dorian Gray, they are all ugly, so they hire fashion models, working at minimum wage, to represent them. For to me the pictures of fabulous people one sees all over Hong Kong are no longer pictures of fabulous wealthy people, but of people, working for next to nothing as fashion models and English teachers simultaneously, loaned the expensive clothes, and, as it were, warriors for the working day.

I need only to put on my little bespoke Hong Kong suit to become the glass of fashion, like Leonard di Caprio in Titanic. It is all surface.

There is, perhaps, a one to one correspondence between the body and the soul.

She has two hands. One graceful, on the Happy Sun Dress. One absurdly clumsy, the problem being a monster thumb. This shall get the Pentimento treatment.

What started as a simple neckerchief reminded a serious Fashionista of my acquaintance of Lanvin jewelry. So I looked at Lanvin’s baubles. My word. Big and clunky seems to be the rage.

Basically, women are sold clothes with less fabric than men because this cuts costs. Men insist on clothes that more than cover their bodies, which are more twisted and stunted by industrial and office life: they got de board shorts, absurdly long, they got de Brooks Brothers shirts with the sleeve over the base of de hand.

Whereas women are forever pulling down the shirt that reveals. They didn’t mean to wear it to entice, they have instead been told that it is fashionable, just as I am (at times literally, as in Kailua Kona) told to lose the Eighties running shorts and get board shorts.

In the case of Peter’s Crazy Aunt, she figures that the Knucklehead top is to be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, since it settles the question of what shall be revealed once and for all, and comfortably. Plus it’s hot outside the terminal…very hot. For the overly cool plane she has any number of layers in that magic bag.

Peter’s Crazy Aunt #7

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 25, 2010 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges, “Tryptch for Peter’s Crazy Aunt”, photographs of incomplete 20×30″ acrylic painting with Gimp modifications. Photo at left is original, photo in center is a detail, photo at right highlighted using Gimp.

THAT is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.


Using Gimp I simulate an “old master” drawing technique that I learned, and applied without using Gimp, from a book that’s still in print, The Practice of Tempera Painting by Daniel V Thompson.

In the manual technique, you use dry pigment and rabbit skin glue to prepare sheets of tinted paper. On them you use the hardest pencil you can find or a silver needle to draw the design.

You then use a Chinese ink stick to shade.

Then comes the magic. You use Chinese white to highlight, creating a beautiful tension as seen in Watteau and the drawings of the Flemish masters.

Well, if you can’t get sheets of bunny skin glue or have compunctions about using cute bunnies you can use Gimp, a free photoshop, to simulate this technique.

The magic is that you must start with and be familiar with the ancient techniques before you can exploit them using the computer. When I got my first Mac in 1984, I thought wow. Then I tried to draw with the mouse.

Those new digitizing pads look cool.

She’s a Barbie doll and a fashion victim as I used to be a Ken Doll in the 1980s (a punkette once snarled at me in Seattle, “hey Ken, Barbie went that a way”). But it is a Jargon of Authenticity to assume that she’s not saying something unique with her fashion.

I love fashion conscious people! I had so much fun in Sep when in order to eat I was an extra, since I met all these starving cool thin people who’d stepped down from the fancy ads and turned out to be human, all too human. I felt like Mia Farrow in the Purple Rose of Cairo!