Well, believe it or not, I actually started working on my “Monsterpiece” today. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the epic battle that has wagged for nearly half a decade, I will attempt to bring you up to speed.

First I had the idea to try to paint an epic and monumental work. Something that would “establish” me as a “real” painter. I had some idols, people like J.C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, Harvey Dinnerstein, Paul Delaroche, Jacques Louis David, Graydon Parrish, et al. I was lucky enough to be “trained” to some extent by Graydon, and on a trip to New York, I met Harvey Dinnerstein. I collected every book I could on the other painters.

In addition to training with, meeting, and studying these painters, I also began to collect every piece of machinery, drawing aid, device, or system that would help me become a “master”…or so I thought. Furthermore, I collected, at some price, every book known to man that was in one way or another endorsed by an artist,  of an artist of note, or held the promise of revealing the “secret” to becoming a great artist. Finally, I amassed a collection of every concoction known since time immemorial as a “secret medium” of the masters.

To make matters even more muddled, I began to investigate every paint tube in my collection (bordering on 1000’s of tubes), and began to manufacture my own paint. I subscribed whole-heartedly to the study and discovery of color and of the Munsell paint notation and color solid. However, none of this prepared me enough for my toughest and most challenging problem…to actually paint a picture.

I wanted to prove that I was equal to the masters, and the great illustrators of old. I wanted to establish myself as equals with contemporary painters such as Graydon Parrish, Harvey Dinnerstein, Jacob Collins, Rob Liberace, Daniel Sprick, Douglas Flynt, etc. But…I still couldn’t paint. Well, I could paint, but I had to use a whole host of contrivances, aides, crutches, and “cheating” mechanisms. I wanted to arrive NOW, I was impatient, I longed for glory, and I didn’t want to put the work in to get there. So, I end-routed around the work, and used my intelligence and my limited resources to get there. Actually, that part is in a way rather admirable. I forsook all forms creature comforts, so that I could have money to buy all these artists conveniences and books. But…I digress.

The point is, when I arrived at the task of trying to do that which I had intended, I had a head full of theory, and not enough (if any) practice. I was screwed. The goal, for any of you non-initiates, was a 7 foot by 4 foot canvas (quite large in the world of painting) with 13 figures and a dog.  All figures are half life-size. Just to give you a clue as to how hard an endeavor this truly is, no one has painted that many figures and on that scale in a long long time. Why, you might ask? Because they are sane!!! It is fricken hard! And I, the neophyte. was going to attempt it.

I failed.

But…I came close. But then, you don’t get awarded a medal for being close, except for in horse shoes and hand grenades. As such, the committee for my Master’s of Fine Art degree wanted me to finish it. Somehow I just expected that they would see my intention, and that that would be good enough. I know, I know…a sucker born every minute. When they denied my conference of my diploma, I was hurt, crushed really, and that turned to anger. Couple that with a whole host of other things going on in my life regarding love, profession, age, and a pretty self-centered existence, and you have yourself a recipe for disaster my friends.

Fast forward one year, and we find our hero a changed man. Or at least willing to change. He has devoted his life to compassion, love, art and peace. He has worked diligently for a year learning to paint and draw. He forsook all the trinkets, all the aides, amulets, and chicanery and just sat every evening with a pencil and paper and learned to draw…well. He learned to paint as well, and although he is still far from a master, we find him at peace.

It is this “peace”, hard-won as it was, that has emboldened him to try his hand again at the “monsterpiece”. Today was the first day, and although the going was scary and at some points tenuous, he has survived to fight another day. Below is a chronology of the previous efforts to date; the final picture is where the piece is at the end of today’s efforts. Be at peace dear friends, this weary traveler is.

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