La Verguensa

"The Shameful One"

Archive for the month “July, 2011”


The best time to plant an Oak tree was 25 years ago.

The second best time is today.

Romance and age go hand in hand

All things are literally better, lovelier and more beloved for the imperfections which have been divinely appointed.

Translation: Wrinkles and scars are cool.

The Piano Pirate

Keep Trying- back up and push.

I’d rather be a could be if I cannot be an are;

Because a could be is a maybe who is reaching for a star.

I’d rather be a has been than a might have been, by far,

for a might have been has never been, but a has, was once and are.

What is it about?

Painting is an exercise in expression. It is in expression that new aesthetic  ground is broken. Beauty cannot be found in a painting in which it is the target. Beauty is the result of an action. Not a purpose. I think this is why you can find such outrageous criticism of artists in their own time.

Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting.

His painting “Snow storm-steam boat off harbors mouth”, said on critic, looked like a some one spread currant jelly on the canvas. And so it goes.

I think that beauty is found in the seeking. The journey its-self is the slow scratching away at the surface. Revealing the seekers intent over time, and creating a context in which the viewer can enjoy the work.

The Adventure of Paining

Most of my paintings are some what process oriented. I start off with a sketched up idea. Then I follow up with some basic pigment. After that I start to let the act of painting take me in unknown directions. Often I will sort of vandalize the painting, or paint unrelated symbolic gestures above or beneath the topic, Then I will attempt recovery. My goal is always good composition over a predetermined result.

This makes painting some what like travel. I have my itinerary (the sketch.) But then I leave home and the journey  always contains adventure and the unexpected.

Here is an example:

This painting is called the Rabbi. I started by prepping the canvas and creating a border out of playing cards. I had met an artist from New Orleans who was re-using playing cards as his business cards. I liked that so I used some of my corrupted decks for this border. After that the canvass sat for about 6 months. Eventually I sketched this emotional sketch of a person burying head in hands.

Some thing aout it was all wrong. It did not go with the cards. So it sat while I pondered. (I was already starting to travel in my mind).

Eventually I re-sketched this drawing over the canvas. I liked it much better. From the beginning the effort had meaning to me. For one the cards began to represent the chance that god deals in our lives. Second, I drew the rabbi telling a story with a hand gesture My mom used to show this to me as a kid. “here is the church, Here is the steeple, open the doors and look at all the people.” This is a little methodist ditty. I also found that appealing because it illustrates all of the meaningful grey area in my own life. Now that I knew (from the actual act of painting) that I was contemplating thoughts on the seemingly randomness of life events and the needs of people to come to grips with this, I started to fill in the details.

The final painting contains a variety of detail. Some of it is symbolic and some is just plain personal. The background is composed of thumb prints. This is meant to symbolize the congregation to whom the rabbi is telling her story.

detail: I like to sketch in the thick wet paint.


palimpsest is a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped off and which can be used again.

Georgian Palimpsest (top) and a design Development Drawing

This concept is used in the discussion of architecture, where layers of different ages can be seen in the same building.

I have adopted this concept when designing both buildings and paintings. Typically I do not use and eraser, but continue to draw darker. This helps develop an overlapping of shapes and meaning which become more and more interrelated.

La Verguensa?

La Verguensa means the “Shameful One”. I first heard the term used in Spain. I was living there with my father. The term was used to refer to the lonely piece of food, which all refuse to eat.  Left on the serving plate, as every passerby breaks yet another half of of the last tasty cookie. All that remains is the ever shrinking shameful one, la vergenza. It has become a phrase used lovelingly and with humor to describe a multitude of things and situations in our family.

I liked that concept for this blog. When I think of the shameful one, it is kind of a paradox. It is the piece that remains unchosen and yet remaining can be a good thing.

We all have those thoughts that stick like a burr to your sock. Those thoughts relate to painting and architecture.

So if you like images and a few words you might enjoy this bit-o-mumbbling from the shameful one.

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