In his own words...
But, now I could get back into my art. I paint mostly in the wee, small hours. You don’t need sunlight to paint on a computer and I don’t sleep very well at night. Also, there are no distractions late at night. Phones don’t ring at 2 A.M. There are no meetings. Kids aren’t asking me to glue toys back together. Doorbells don’t ring.
I use a combination of AppleWorks and a simple program called Adobe PhotoDeluxe. They each have something I want. I stick with them because everything has to be done manually. There are very few special buttons you can push to do things for you automatically. I like that. It’s just me. People can hardly believe I can do what I do with these programs. Every once in awhile, someone will try to talk me into the real PhotoShop or Adobe Illustrator or something, but then, when they look at my stuff, they admit that I don’t need it.
Some people call me an inventor. Well, I don’t know about that. There are a lot of people out there with Apples.
I started getting interest from art dealers and museum people three or four years ago, but I didn’t feel I was ready. Last year, when I started casting around for a way to get the stuff out of the computer and onto canvas, I found,––through my old friend from the Beatnik days, Michael Bowen, known as pretty much the greatest of the unregenerated Beatnik artists from San Francisco––a fellow named Jim Costello, who made giclés for a living, a kindred spirit, covered with tattoos, like myself, and totally hip to my work. I started running tests and transferring my computer art to canvas., all the time having no idea where I was going to take them. I’d lost the cards and numbers of those interested Art Dealers long ago.
Then, at a gallery showing of my son’s paintings (he’s pretty good, amazing, actually, in a kind of punk underground way) I ran into an old friend from my distant past: a painter named Salvatore Monteleone. He decided to mentor me, even though he hadn’t seen my work. I packed a few canvases into my car and drove them down to Mirabel’s on the Sunset Strip, one of my favorite restaurants.
I realized, though, that it was how Gaugin painted. He’d draw a cartoon, a thick black line, and fill in the colors. He himself called it a cartoon. That gave me hope. I still didn’t paint much, though. Never had the time or enough room to set it all up. My days were full, and you need daylight to paint. I never stopped drawing, though, on napkins, scratchpads, even on newspapers with magic markers. The background of the newsprint made an interesting effect
In the Army, they classified me as an Impressionist-Expressionist. They actually had that as an M.O.S. (Military Occupational Specialty) listed in a big book, with a six-digit ID. number beside it. I don’t know. I think every one of my paintings is different. I don’t have a genre, or a set style that I know about. I don’t do cycles, or periods.
Occasionally, I’ll scan in a drawing I did in a sketch book, or on scrap paper. Then work on it in the computer. Sometimes, after I’ve produced the giclé, I might enhance it with oils, or pastels or maybe gold leaf. Or I might rework scenery from a photograph behind the subject. So, the paintings transcend time and space, going from analog sketches and photos to Cyberspace and back to the real world. Some of it was started in the twentieth century and finished in the twenty-first.
I was influenced by everybody. The Greeks, the Impressionists, the Fauvists. Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Ernst, Peter Max. Disney, R. Crumb, Frank Miller. Yeah. I’ve always been crazy about comics. I’m an omnivorous reader of those. Comics are cutting-edge. And I love Art Nouveau, mostly as it was reused during the hippy era, with its curlicues and beautiful impossibly long-haired women.
I once had the luck to spend an afternoon with De Kooning in his studio. That was a definite revelation.
I took up photography at one point. I had a brace of Pentax SLR’s, and I followed Rock Groups around the country. I graduated to a Leica and photographed my girl friends nude. I just recently got into the digital thing, using a Panasonic that has a Leica lens and a lot of pixels.
I set them around in the bar, on chairs, tables and the floor, and Salvatore, over a glass of Cognac, looked them over. He dug them, as it seemed, did the patrons of the bar. He helped me put together an exhibit in Beverly Hills with a charity hookup, and I was off and running, or at least walking very fast.
My Art is mostly representational. Sometimes. though, I get a little abstract, and once in a long while I paint something that has a certain amount of social significance, like “Commander-in-Chief,” a partly abstract representation of one of our Generals, unshaven and brutish, with a lot of explosive madness occupying his head.
But, really, I paint almost nothing but nude women, mostly without the partial drapery, but then, this is the twenty-first century. It’s time to strip off the pasties, isn’t it? I tend to make nipples look like flowers, and I’m particularly adept at faithful representations of what Anais Nin called “The Delta of Venus.”
I love color. Maybe because of my color blindness. When I say I’m a little color blind, I don’t mean I can’t see colors. We’re men, not dogs. “Color confused” would be a better description. I see lots of colors, brilliant, maybe more saturated than most people. I just don’t know what their names are. But, I’ve conquered that. And I always have my wife Annie to help me out.. I run everything by her. I don’t think I could do much all by myself in any of my areas of production: film making, writing, Art, Music. A successful man, I believe, needs a woman––not behind him––but beside him.
Right now, I’m contemplating a series of paintings with religious themes, though it won’t be very traditional. I’ve started out with a Madonna with two Messiah babies in her arms: identical twin girls! You might call it sacrilegious. But, my take on religion is it’s all right as long as you don’t take it religiously; though I’m a big fan of Jesus.
I still sculpt. My latest is a bronze bust of my fourth wife I call “The Farmer’s Daughter.” It’s been sitting in a foundry for several years. I’m waiting ’till I can see it as just a sculpture and not my ex-wife. Every once in a while, I go down there and change it a little. It keeps looking better. But, I don’t want it in my house, so I don’t know what to do with it anyway.