Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Over 700 visitors came to the Open Studios at the Velvet Mill and I received my share of questions: “Where do you get your ideas? Do you sketch or take photographs first? Do you paint a scene while it is happening? How do you know when a painting is finished?”

Here is the story of my painting The Literary Gathering which may answer these questions: I saw a photograph of some people sitting around a table in deep conversation. It reminded me of a literary club where I had been invited to speak about my book The Magic of Theater. When I asked the head of the club how long I should speak she said, “Five minutes. The group has a short attention span and they prefer to ask questions.” After my five minute synopsis of The Magic of Theater the members of the literary club talked with each other and never asked me any questions.

I began the painting with the black and white photograph in my left hand and a brush in my right. First came the table which I made orange with a scattering of candles and wine. Then came the club members, one after the other. While I was painting them I felt as if I knew each of them personally. I added some book cases in the background and stopped for lunch. After the break I looked at the painting and decided it needed more people. I outlined them in black and was about to flesh them out when the phone rang. After the conversation ended I was eager to get back to the painting and bring the newcomers to life. I was about to start when I noticed the fully painted people looked like they were talking to ghosts.

“How do you know when a painting is finished?”
When the telephone rings.