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American Painter Wins Oscar for Best Director ...of a Canvas

Imagine that......

Or at least entertain the idea for a moment while I explain.

My political paintings are modern films compressed into one frame, and I am the movie director.  

As a painter, I emulate much of the film maker’s artistic process.  I do realize that a film is a sequential presentation, one film-scene after another, and I also understand that the sequence is lineal in time, which seems on its face to be impossible to replicate on a single canvas.  In actuality, those characteristics of film are not as different from a single painting as one would presume.  My paintings too contain sequential characteristics, which are somewhat lineal in that they follow a path from one point of interest to another, but the sequence plays out in the depths of space rather than the lengths of time, in layers of mature consciousness rather than in sequences of juvenile action. That is, I present an image on one level of perspective and/or consciousness behind or within or in front of another and another and another until all the story which could be told with film is told in multiple overlapping, enmeshing, retreating, advancing frames and consciousnesses within a single painting.  The approach works best and is the most fun when I intend my painting to present worthwhile content, to speak to something important and specific about social, behavioral and political issues. As do movies like The China Syndrome.  As did Network.  As did 1984.  As did The Killing Fields.  As did Blaze.  As did Wag the Dog


To demonstrate in some detail what I mean, I refer the reader to my painting Abraham Contemplating Sacrifice Future (below: view larger in gallery).  For a year or so that painting sat there on the easel unfinished and demanding attention, somewhat like the expensive movie rights for a book might sit in a file drawer in the producer’s office while all the ducks are getting lined up. As with movies, in order to get this painting into production, there are a number of artistic and theatric problems that I must solve, massage, speak softly to, rough up, finesse, and for which I must acquire "the feel".











The painting:

This new painting is about the shameful con job that entices our children to volunteer (of their own "free will") for service in America's military (climb up on the sacrificial altar and place their young neck beneath the knife of international insanity). 



  • Ancient Old Testament Abraham is about to sacrifice his son, a son whom he thought necessary to deceive in order to entice the boy to the sacrificial altar…the job of Location Manager:

  • In the wilderness beside him is George W. Bush, Sacrificer-in-Chief, at another bloody altar before which a smiling, youthful and unending line of volunteer sacrificees stretches to the distant horizon…the job of Set Director:

  • I must come up with a good one-liner in a text balloon that a bewildered and extremely impressed Abraham might say to George Bush?  The job of Script writer:

  • What props could I put in the painting to make George Bush's reply unnecessary, or delightfully revealing?  The job of Prop Master:

  • What ridiculous thing could I have George Bush say anyway that would reveal the callousness of America's recruiting deceptions--educational, cultural, economic and otherwise--which we employ to con our own children into volunteering to prostrate themselves beneath the sacrificial knife, no matter which president or party is brandishing the knife?  The job of Script Writer:


In a nutshell I have just given you an inside look at how I develop a political painting--not so far different than a movie director plans a film.


  • As Lighting Supervisor:  I am concerned with the lighting: for instance, would this painting work best, would the point I am making be best served, if the lighting were dark; if it were dusk; high noon; midnight; if it were spotlighted; rosy; cool; garish; ghostly?

  • As Casting Director: I select the actors I need to play each role.  In one painting, I may direct W. C. Fields in the role of Uncle Sam; in another, I may choose Clint Eastwood to play the Secretary of Defense; or Pee-wee Herman to play Vladimir Putin.

  • As Creative Consultant: I am concerned about the mood: should it be farcical; melodramatic; serious; sensual; tragic?

  • As Casting Director: what about the Co-stars?  Who plays Abraham?  His son?  Who plays the angel?  Who else should we recognize in the scene? Who else should have speaking parts?

  • As Script Writer: What comments should I, the artist, the producer-writer-director-slash-creator, make in the margins or as part of the composition?

  • As Location Manager: What should the terrain be like?  Mountainous, garden-like, barren, cloud strewn, misty?

  • As Costume Designer: Should Bush wear cowboy clothes or robes or a mixture of each, or should he be nude?

  • As Director: How can I simplify.  How can I focus on the main issue and avoid delving into side issues that distract?  But then are side issues perhaps necessary?

  • As Director: What about symbolism?  Icons?  Wouldn't a conglomeration of academic references hidden in vague, tricky symbols delight intellectual critics?  And aggravate (a sweet thought) the rest?

  • As Director: What about style?  Semi-abstract, cubist, impressionistic, calligraphic, minimalist, Neo-Renaissance, French romantic, something new? 

  • As Director: What about aesthetics?  Given the subject matter I have selected, and additionally stipulating to all the considerations listed above, how then may I best delight the eye?  How must I change any or all of those factors above to delight the eye.  And what kind of eye?  The intellectual eye?  The hysterical eye?  The guttural eye?  The glandular eye?  The spiritual eye?  The skeptical eye?

  • As Producer: I have to raise the money to produce the painting. 

  • As Distributor: I have to manage the distribution options and promotional strategy for the painting.


Thank you, Academy, for this honor.  I want to thank also my co-creator, Creativity, which plays a role outside--beyond--over and above--dictating all the important duties mentioned above.  As you will notice, the finished painting is somewhat different than I, we, planned.  I and Creativity  made changes as we went along, especially with the script, finding clever ways for the actors to carry the plot without so many words.  Uhmm, which way do I go to get off stage?  And where's the bar?



More essays? Click on More above.

More essays? Click on More above.

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