Another painting of someone else’s house

So a guy on Instagram so a commissioned painting I did of someone’s apartment building a few weeks ago and ordered one of his house. If a few of his fellow homeowners follow suit and some more pet-parents want their progeny immortalized I may just manage to stay unemployed! 

At my own home I’ve been drawing things like paint tubes in the studio.

Full Rooms and Empty Rooms

Last Tuesday I went to The Whistler for Stirrup’s record-release. My friend Charles plays drums in the band. The small room gradually filled up as the 9:30 showtime approached, until it was standing-room-only. Aside from the oblivious, yammering couple on a date next to me, it was a great audience to mark an accomplishment. It’s no small thing to put a record, book, movie, whatever out into the world. There are often years of struggle, doubts, and frustrations behind the small packaged thing you’re presenting to friends and strangers alike as if it appeared all of a sudden, with little effort. 

A couple nights later I was back in the same room for Bill Hillmann’s book-release and it was a very different scene. The place was mostly empty and the people that were there were there to drink rather than to hear Bill read from his memoir about running with the bulls. I bought a copy but may have been the only one.

Bill and his wife Enid gave me a ride home after and voiced their frustration. It’s dispiriting when one’s work isn’t acknowledged, much less celebrated. Publicity and promotion is a tricky thing too. I’ve been to events that were hyped all over the place and you could hear crickets, and others that weren’t mentioned anywhere and were packed in like sardines. If you’re in any of the creative rackets it’s gotta be for a reason other than external validation or fame because if you wait for others approval or encouragement odds are you’ll be bitterly disappointed.

Sunday morning an interview I did last fall with a Northwestern journalism student was finally published. Aside from the horrible case of you-know-itis which my interviewer chose not to edit out, it was interesting to read my answers to her questions as a sort of time capsule. At the time of our talk my second book had just come out and I was probably more hopeful about my prospects than I have been lately.

I don’t quit because I’m not good for much but drawing and writing. There’s nothing else for me to do so I’ll keep going. Whether the room’s full or it’s empty.

Hannah’s House

I make most of my living these days off commissions of various kinds. Pet portraits, non-pet portraits, record covers, poster designs, book reviews, and a bunch of other kinds I’ve chosen to forget. Sometimes though someone wants a picture I might’ve painted without being asked. That was the case with the one above. It was commissioned by a woman who’s moving out of state and wanted a keepsake of her neighborhood. It happens to be in my neighborhood and I know someone who lives in the building. All paintings have a backstory, a narrative known only to the painter. I’ve always wrestled with how much to say about the significance or meaning of the subjects I choose to paint; the trouble being that the artist’s words tend to dictate how a viewer will interpret the picture rather than using their own eyes and minds. Oftentimes I’d rather know nothing of an artist’s intentions or hopes. The words feel like a crutch, a way to prop up mediocre work. Other times a bit of explanation enhances the experience. In any case, I might’ve painted this without being asked.