Love Letter To Elizabeth Peyton

Paul Dodd painting entitled “Model from Crime Page” 2008

Our painting teacher, Fred Lipp, is really much more than a painting teacher. And I don’t say that because he is also an extraordinary artist. He is a fly fisherman too but I have no idea what his skills are in this area. He is more than a painting teacher because his methods for teaching painting can also be applied to living your life. Last night in class I heard Fred give advice to a woman who was painting near me. He said, “Paint it as a whole, from start to finish”.

Say you are heading out for a drive. You might have a destination and you might even use a map. But if you really want to enjoy the ride you may decide to take a detour or a side trip or forget about your destination altogether.

“What we’ve heard is so disturbing
It takes time to settle in
Our destination doesn’t matter
This is it… life hereafter”
– Personal Effects, “This Is It” LP, 1984

I’m trying to connect the dots here. I devoured an article on Elizabeth Peyton’s “Live Forever” show in Friday’s New York Times and then started a new crime face painting on Monday. I sketched a guy that sort of looked like a woman and in fact I switched the situation in my mind and thought I was sketching a woman that looked like a man. The people in class thought he was a man and Maureen Outlaw told said he looked like me. When Peggi saw the painting she said, “I like him”. I said, actually it’s a woman and I reached for the Crimestoppers page that I used for my source. His name turned out to be “Jeffery”. I had played up the lips like Elizabeth Peyton did in her portrait of Kurt Cobain and the clothing was loosely painted like her portrait of Piotr Uklanski. My crime guy was thin and more youthful than the source. He looked like a rock star.

We watched the “Life and Times of Frida Kahlo the other night and I was knocked out by how beautiful and exotic Frida Kahlo was. This documentary was so much richer and more interesting than the Frida movie. Frida Kahlo was her artwork. She lived her artwork and painted the whole from start to finish. I have no idea what Elizabeth Peyton is like but I love her work.

While I was applying paint to my sketch of this crime guy and developing his attitude, it suddenly became clear that each move was not helping so I stopped. I was painting the whole from start to finish and this was the finish but I didn’t recognize it at first. The finish could come at any time regardless of my plans. I should live my life this way and then painting would be a breeze.

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