Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Painting Thursday Doldrums

I apologize for such a long gap since my last post. I go t a slew of jobs there at the end of summer then went on a wonderful family vacay to the west coast. Once I finally got back into the studio it took a while to get my rhythm back. So long in fact that I started into a funk because I thought I'd lost my painting mojo. But all of the sudden it came back and I finished two paintings pretty quickly. But now that I'm done I'm kind of all out of ideas and whenever I go back to the drawing board, literally, I get frustrated at the slow pace of it all. Thankfully though, Painting Thursdays has turned into Painting Tuesdays and Thursdays now that school has started back up.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pop Musings

Jennifer Lopez, a booty like pow pow pow.
You know, that last post just scratched the surface of all the rules and regulations that we artists have to live by and how this comes into conflict with our lives as parents. So I felt like I had to delve into another subject, at least a little bit. Music. The codes on musical tastes aren't quite as stringent as long as certain criteria are met. For example one doesn't have to like punk or any indie rock necessarily. They can legally listen to country music as long as it predates the 1970's, though there are exceptions. Any country singer with three names is allowed, like Jerry Jeff Walker or Robert Earl Keen. Anything just totally over the top works as well, like Charlie Daniels, though this is probably listened to in an ironic sense. But still, if its older then its better is the general rule.
Classical music is tolerated, but it should be experimental or highly obscure - Erik Satie always impresses. Funk, metal, soul, folk, electronica, r&b, jazz, hip hop and even disco (with restrictions) are all acceptable form of audio entertainment. Even Fischerspooner is allowed on your mp3 player, but why?
In general the rules are simple. Obscurity ranks very high. Band names that include animals are good: Grizzly Bear, Arctic Monkeys. Old music is preferred because it is old. Inclusiveness and diversity are also highly prized. In fact, the more genres you have on your ipod the better. But pop music is strictly forbidden.
So what happens when an artist's children pass the Yo Gabba Gabba! stage? They turn to pop music, that's what. They like the Black Eyed Peas, and they LOVE lady Gaga. At least my children do, though much to my chagrin. Now I have friends in artistic circles that claim that their children hate pop music and have a cultivated taste in music. But I know by experience that children loathe Tom Waits, so I suspect that these parents are either lying, or keeping VERY strict control over what their children hear, or simply brainwashing them - all to avoid embarrassment at mixed company, all age dinner parties. To these parents I say you're missing out. Missing out on the chance to ridicule your children when they become teens. And missing out on a lot of laughs. There are some real doozies out there. Following are a few of my musings over the last year or so of listening to my kids music choices (thankfully the lyrics seem to pass them by, at least for now, or at least all they hear are the radio edits)...

Akon - in one of his songs he notes that he's noticed a certain lady on the dance floor who has really caught his attention. He seems to be tongue tied because he is trying to find a way to describe this woman without being disrespectful. His solution? "Damn, you a sexy bitch!"

Pitbull, he's got a nice sex party anthem called Hotel Room. My favorite line... "We at the hotel, motel, Holiday Inn!" Really? A pop star can't afford something better than the Holiday Inn?

A more recent one. Usher. "Honey got a booty like pow pow pow. Honey got some boobies like wow, oh wow!" Seems he's hired a 14 year old boy to write his lyrics.

Then there's Ke$ha. "My status is gonna be affected if I keep it up like a lovesick crackhead." She's got a slef destructive obsession with a boy but she's worried about her Facebook status.

But my favorite story of all time happened last summer. I was walking with Cyrus one evening and a fire truck stormed by us. Cy asked where it was going. I said they were probably going to put out a fire.
"How do they know where the fire is Daddy?"
"Some called 911, I suppose," I replied.
"Oh," he said. "Shorty's fire must be burnin' on the dance floor."

Artwork by Deborah Cushman

Fashion Crisis

We artists are bound by certain fashion principles. Unfortunately this is generally dictated by the rules of hipsterism, especially while in grad school. There's no getting around it. Some of the reasons for this disease? I dunno, but sheer poverty is one. General self-aware nerdiness is another. And for us guys, there is one big reason for voluntarily making ourselves look ridiculous: masculinity, or lack thereof. See, artists don't seem to be perceived as very manly by the general public, so the principles of hipsterism give us a huge carte blanche to wear oversized keychains. They take on many forms - the biker, the janitorial, and the mountain climber-y carabiner styles are among the most popular. But something really big changes when one becomes a father. One becomes more responsible (hopefully) and gets a better job. Buys a better, safer car. And when said artist-father becomes father of two, the car gets upgraded again to something that can hold all the extra stuff. And usually that upgrade comes with "keyless" ignition, meaning instead of an old-fashioned key it has a little electronic thingy that starts the car. And this little electronic waste of a battery - well it looks stupid on a hipster keychain. It totally gives you away. You no longer belong in the hipster rank and file. Fashion crisis.

Monday, July 12, 2010

It's been brought to my attention...

...that there are some bad cooks out there. Now, one might think that if one has the gene for artistic endeavors like art, music, etc. that one would also have the gene for a little flair in the kitchen as well. Not so. I recently took my son to a play date at a friend's house. And it so happened that we were visiting a family in a similar situation as ours. The dad, who shall remain nameless, is another artist of sorts who'd been laid off from work and was now charged with taking care of the tots full time. So, at many a play date, there is usually the offer of a little snack or drink while the dad's talk and the children destroy the house. I myself keep a few nice things on hand for when the event takes place at our house. I'll make a curried chicken salad and serve it on some cranberry bread or something like that with a little hot tea or coffee. I do it, you know, to impress - and to make it seem like I've really got it together. But at Nameless' house things are apparently much more honest. Here's how it went down...

The house was a wreck when we go there and the kids were still in their pajamas. No matter. Kids don't mind these things, and I assumed this was Nameless' technique. Why clean up the house now - it was about  to get destroyed anyway? And in good form I was offered coffee as soon as I walked in the door. I accepted, so we set the boys off to play and went into the kitchen. At which point I was also offered a little something to eat. Nameless had made some toast and some scrambled eggs - dry and burnt. Now some of you might think this is perfectly acceptable even though unimaginative. But the problem was that it was 2 in the afternoon! And apparently this was going to be the kids snack as well. Well, I didn't want to be rude so I ate a little, but my curiosity was killing me. What on earth was this guy thinking? I couldn't ask him outright, so I did a little dancing around until I got to the root of the problem. Nameless couldn't cook. At all. Except for eggs, and even that he tended to do poorly. And it turns out, that his poor kids are subjected to his eggs at least two times a day, every day. I can only imagine how happy those boys are when Mom gets home.

So to all you pathetic culinarily challenged men out there, homebound artist fathers or not, I will be happy to share simple recipes with you to relieve your misery. Hopefully it will  make your wife happier and she'll finally take you to bed again...

Here's a recipe you can start with. Its easy but impressive. And a pic of an old food inspired still life of mine (above, Still Life with Watermelon/Watermelon with Life, Still. 2007).

Cannellini and Escarole Soup

4 thick slices of bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2 -inch strips
1 head of escarole, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Two 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 quart chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

 In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over moderately high heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plat and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and return the saucepan to moderately high heat. Add the escarole and minced garlic and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring, until the escarole wilts, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the beans and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook until the escarole is tender, about 10 minutes. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Goes great with bread and some homemade herbed butter.

Broken Promises

OK, so I couldn't bring myself to post images of my work in progress. This painting just wasn't happening. Well, it was coming along, but slowly - very slowly. You know. It's like trying to get your 5 year old to get dressed, eat his breakfast, brush his teeth and GET INTO THE DAMN CAR SO WE CAN GET TO THE GROCERY STORE,  IT'S 2 O'CLOCK ALREADY!

Painting's not done yet, but i can show it to you now.

No Guarantees

Back when I was a wage earning boy I did this gig at a conference for designer perfume companies. The client I was working for threw a luncheon for one of the Ralph Lauren men’s fragrances. It must have been a safari theme because we packed all the lunches in small Pelican Cases, which are these supposedly super tough cases for sensitive gear when you’re traveling into rough places. It keeps stuff safe, like survey equipment, photography gear and, you know, manly perfumes. Anyway, when we were taking the cases out of their boxes I noticed a disclaimer on the side. It read:
Pelican Products, Inc. guarantees its products for a lifetime against breakage or defects in workmanship. Pelican™ injection molded cases are guaranteed to be watertight to a depth of 3.3 feet (1 meter) for 30 minutes (IP 67) unless otherwise stated if properly closed with undamaged o-ring in place. Pelican’s liability is limited to the case and not its contents or foam. This guarantee does not cover the lamp or batteries (rechargeable or alkaline) for lights. Any liability, either expressed or implied, is limited to replacement of the product. This guarantee is void if the Pelican product has been abused beyond normal and sensible wear and tear. This guarantee does not cover shark bite, bear attack or damage caused by children under five.
That was years ago, before I had children, and I thought it was a total joke. A joke I understood, because like many people without children of their own, I found children under five to be pretty annoying. But now I know better. Children under five aren’t really that irritating, they’re dangerous.

Watson and the Shark, 1778.
John Singleton Copley. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Painting Thursdays

As I mentioned in my previous post, I only get to paint one day a week unless I run into some kind of windfall and I have cash for more babysitting time. (Forget about the rising cost of studio space in Brooklyn, how about the cost of a nanny!) Given that, I figured I need to change my policy of never letting anyone see a painting until its complete, at least in digital form, otherwise no one would ever see what I'm working on. So here's where I left off at the end of the day last Thursday. If you want to see more, go to

Monday, June 7, 2010

Old Man Painter

I’ve been hearing a lot of references lately to Malcolm Gladwell’s recent book Outliers, in particular his talk about the “10,000-Hour Rule”, where in order to achieve proficiency at anything one wants to do, 10,000 hours of practice is required. Naturally, this has me questioning my status as a painter. So here are my calculations: In undergraduate school I majored in Sculpture and minored in French (boy I use that a lot), which means I did virtually no painting from 1989 to 1994. When I got out of school I had no tools and no space to speak of to continue making sculpture so I turned to painting to ease my troubled mind. I started working full time right out of school but the work was mostly freelance or intermittent work which meant I usually had off about a month each summer to paint. Tending to keep my workaday hours, I painted about 8 hours a day Monday through Friday, equaling about 160 hours for the month. Now, that wasn’t all that I painted so I’d have to say I was able to squeeze in another 40 hours a year, so at a conservative estimate I painted 200 hours a year from 1994 to 2004. 2000 hours thus far. In 2004 I started graduate studies at Tyler School of Art and naturally I got to paint a lot more than that. I figure I painted about 720 hours as a first year and then in my second year I studied in Italy, which gave me a lot more time in the studio, so I am guessing that I spent about 950 hours painting that year. New total: 3,670 hours. Moving on from grad school 2007 and 2008 were great years. I was working again, making good money but the work was off again/on again, but when I worked the hours were long so I had money to burn. I spent an average of 2 days a week in my studio in an industrial loft down the street from me, so I guesstimate that in ’07 I logged in 640 hours and in ’08 about the same, but that year I did a month long residency at Cooper Union, so lets say 800 hours that year. Tally: 5,110 hours. Last year was a different kind of year. By then I had become a stay at home dad in earnest. I left my studio down the street because it was getting too expensive, and after a couple of residencies and all that painting, I was going into debt. So I fixed up my studio in the back yard and didn’t get started painting until mid-summer. That summer my mother in law Ida came to baby sit the kids for a month so I could get a little time in the studio. She went nuts but I’d say I got about 100 or so hours of painting time. Later we hired a sitter to come in once a week to hang out with Frances while Cy was in school so I could paint. So for about 4 months I painted about 4 days a month, give or take, adding about 150 hours to the year. Same thing this year so my calculations put me at about a total of about 5,540 hours of painting practice. Great. I’m hovering somewhere just slightly above mediocrity. At this rate it will take me about 532 days do reach proficiency. At 39 years of age I think this means I’ll be considered a good painter when I’m 52. So I’ll be a master at about 75. Thanks Malcolm.
Painting by Judie Giglio. If you happen to be interested in this painting, you can purchase it online at

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Long Time Comin'

To make a long story long, it all started about two years ago…I was working as a Project Manager in Staten Island for a company that made specialty anything for private and corporate events. It would have been a pretty successful small business had it not been for the boss’s Cadillac Escalade problem, stripper problem, Patron problem, and oh, a mounting IRS problem, but I digress. I was about to take a leave of absence to do an artist residency at the Cooper Union School of Art, which I knew was going to dovetail nicely with my boss’s the-check’s-in-the-mail problem.
Fast forward to the end of the summer and the end of the residency. I’d somehow managed to finish seven or eight paintings but I was still chasing after about four thousand dollars. On top of that Dana and I were in the process of buying a rental property, so the cash would've been very helpful. I was calling Staten Island daily. I even got dressed up like that kid in “Better Off Dead” and rode my bike to Jersey in the middle of the night to harass my boss saying, "I want my TWO dollars!" incessantly. I think I was worse than the IRS.
Things changed abruptly when I finally got paid - and a phone call from a friend who wanted to know if said Staten Island company could build some casework for an upcoming exhibition at the International Center of Photography. I wasn’t about to give my boss the work since the profits were most likely going to be given to a stripper anyway, and I’d have to put on my costume again. Not to mention, I was about to be the proud owner of a Brooklyn rental property complete with a garage so I told him I’d do it myself. So I did. And then the fantasies began. Not about strippers and Patron and Escalades, but about running my own business and having rental income and staying at home with the kids in between jobs. While Cy was at school and Frances was napping, I thought, I could get some painting done. Fantasies, I tell you. I forgot to factor in grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, and the daily train wreck that happens to the house when children play.
Like any dad who is used to working and getting paid, (ok, so I was actually used to NOT getting paid) I had a rough time adjusting. There was a whole lot more stay at home dad than there was working in my shop, not to mention painting. My frustration grew from lack of studio time, and when I did get to paint nothing seemed to work out right. But there was one day last summer when it finally clicked. I took Cy and Frances out into the studio for a little painting fun. Naturally it turned into a disaster, but it was a beautiful one. It taught me a lot about painting, actually. I realized that being in the studio, like being a stay at home dad, was just simply a beautiful disaster unfolding. I’ve accepted it as it is. And the kids grow more beautiful every day, and the paintings have gotten better.