Back To Painting

Paul Dodd "Model From Crime Page" charcoal on paper 2011, 11"x14"
Paul Dodd “Model From Crime Page” charcoal on paper 2011, 11″x14″

I put this charcoal drawing in the Rochester Contemporary Members Show and two others in the upcoming iSquare Show. I really like the medium. The charcoal is graphic and cheap but it’s messy as hell. Once I do a drawing I can’t even close the sketchbook without creating a reverse image on the opposite page and the drawing itself smudges. You have spray a each sketch with fixative if you want to keep it in the state its in. The fixative is rather expensive. I have drawings spread out on the floor all over the house. I’m thinking of going back to painting.

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Ten Six By Six

Paul Dodd Crime Faces for upcoming Rochester Contemporary Sis by Six Show
Paul Dodd Crime Faces for upcoming Rochester Contemporary Sis by Six Show

I really enjoyed doing these small paintings on canvas paper.  I knocked out about twenty in the last two weeks and was planning on submitting them all to the Rochester Contemporary 6 by 6 Show. But then someone told me there was a limit of ten entries per person. When I found that out I kicked around whether I should be submitting the ten I like the least or the the ten I liked most.

I settled on the later and spread them all out on our kitchen floor yesterday so Peggi, her mom and I could pick our ten favorite. Peggi’s mom was a little disturbed by the women with no pupils and she she joked that none of them were exactly good looking. Of course I thought I was going to submit the the ones I liked regardless of what they thought but I was easily swayed by the two astute Fourniers. And it turned out the ten best didn’t exactly work together so we chose the best group of ten. They are twenty bucks a piece at RoCo.

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Horse of Course

Fifth grader's horse painting, Auburn New York
Fifth grader’s horse painting, Auburn New York

Fred Lipp, my painting teacher, has been trying to make me more aware of the different forms on the two sides of a head when the face is even slightly turned. Most of my recent paintings are mugshots and the photos I paint from were taken pretty much straight on but there is usually something I can pick up to make the structure more interesting. I working on that.

And then along come this painting of a horse by a fifth grader currently on view at the Shweinfurth Memorial Art Center in Auburn. This girl made the dead-on sing.

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Abstract Mugshots En Plen Air?

Memory Project "Orphan" paintings by Paul Dodd
Memory Project “Orphan” paintings by Paul Dodd

Orphan painting for the Memory Project

My painting show from the Little is all boxed up and today I took down my painting show at the Genesee Center for the Arts. So it’s time to move on and an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate what it is that I spend so much time painting. I am enjoying this process and considering wild alternatives like en plen air and abstraction.

In the meantime I was asked to paint a portrait for the Memory Projct. They sent me a photo of this kid, an orphan somewhere, and I did a few versions. The kid kid gets the painting. The one in the middle looks the most like him so I’m sending that off. Now what?

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I See An Opening (Update)

John Gilmore at Paul Dodd Crime Faces Opening in Rochester, NY
John Gilmore at Paul Dodd Crime Faces Opening in Rochester, NY

Openings are the perfect opportunity to mark time and move on. What am I doing painting these anonymous mugshots from the newspaper when I have such colorful friends?

My opening was supposed to run from 7 to 9 and it went til 11. It was fun. The ginger snaps that Peggi made were a big hit. Someone told me they went really good with beer. I had really interesting conversations with Alice, my mom, Skip Bataglia, Jan Marshall, Peggi, Fred Lipp, Geri, Julie, Elizabeth Agate, and Elaine Heveron. I had a conversation with Beth Brown that fell apart. The one I had with Janet Williams was my favorite. She was standing in front of the close quartered wall of eight, where you could stand no more than four feet away from these guys, and she told me, “I wouldn’t mind being accosted by any of these people.”

I set the alarm in order to meet Peter Monticelli at 8AM at the Little in time to take my other show down before the next one got hung. This required a stop at Starbucks on the way. Once I was awake I remembered how nice the light is in the morning. I ‘m not talking like a painter or anything. I mean it was pretty out.


Post Dumas

Paul Dodd "Crime Face" painting 2009
Paul Dodd “Crime Face” painting 2009

This is the first painting I’ve done since taking in the Marlene Dumas show at MoMA last week. My show at the Little is up for one more day. It comes down tomorrow so for one night only, both it and the second half of this last batch of “Crime Face Paintings” is up at the two locations. The second half opens tonight at the Printing and Book Arts Center in the old firehouse on Monroe Avenue. I put the best light in the house on this painting when I hung it over there.

Today is the first friday of the First Friday series of openings this year. Small galleries, scattered all over the city, have openings tonight. So if you are out and about , stop in at the Book Arts Center for “Crime Face Paintings Pt. ll”. Peggi made spicy little ginger snaps (from Shelley’s recipe) for the occasion and dj Sam Patch will provide the music.

02.06.09 – 03.04.09 Printing and Book Arts Center 713 Monroe Avenue
Opening Reception on Friday 02.06.09 7pm – 9pm
DJ Sam Patch will provide music

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You Are Invited

Detail of postcard for upcoming show of recent Paul Dodd paintings
Detail of postcard for upcoming show of recent Paul Dodd paintings

I numbered the backs of my paintings today so I can keep track of them. I plan to put half of this last batch in to a show at the Little Theater Cafe that opens next Wednesday, January 14th at 7pm and the other half in a show at the Printing and Book Arts Center that will open on February 6th.

The faces are all from recent Crimestoppers pages in the Democrat & Chronicle. I sent an invite to the Monroe County Sheriff and whoever it is that answers the mail at I hope you can stop by for the opening party. You can preview the paintings here.

Show Is Split Between Two Locations

01.10.09 – 02.07.09 Little Theater Cafe
240 East Avenue Rochester NY
Opening Reception on Wednesday 01.14.09 7pm to 9:30pm
Margaret Explosion will play at 8pm

02.06.09 – 03.04.09 Printing and Book Arts Center
713 Monroe Avenue Rochester, NY
Opening Reception on Friday 02.06.09 7pm – 9pm
DJ Sam Patch will provide the music

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Can’t Stop The Crimestoppers

Snowmen in front of the house
Snowmen in front of the house

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. The temperature was somewhere in the low thirties so it was perfect packing and we rolled these two dudes up.

I tried to help my dad by buying a harddrive so he good do a proper backup of his system but the Western Digital drive I bought at was defective so I spent a good part of the day getting an RMA number, repacking the thing and running it out to the UPS Store to return it. I took advantage of the trip to buy some new canvases at the Art Store in South Town Plaza. I bought six 20″ by 24″ canvases that were 50 per cent off. I was thinking of doing something other than crime guys but there was an enticing “CrimeStoppers” page in the paper this morning.


Shopping For Nostrils

"Local Crime Face 01" oil on canvas by Paul Dodd 2008
“Local Crime Face 01” oil on canvas by Paul Dodd 2008

I finally finished this guy’s nostrils. He’s another face from the Crimestoppers page in the Democrat & Chronicle. The painting happened really fast. I was just laying it in and it seemed like it was done so I stopped. But I knew the nostrils weren’t right so I repainted them and repainted them again. Then I set the painting aside for a few weeks. I took a fresh look and was not buying them.

I changed the color, I loosened up the edges, I made them less flat and they still weren’t right. Peggi had me tip my head back and she drew the shapes of my nostrils on a piece of junk mail. I changed the shape of these and the painting looked pretty good. Thank you Peggi. I dropped the painting off at RoCo for their Member’s Show. It opens on the first Friday of December.

I sorted my Scorgie’s Reunion photos while talking to Duane on the phone from Brooklyn. I put a about twenty five of them on the Scorgie’s site.

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White on White

Detail from Paul Dodd Crime Face painting from 2008
Detail from Paul Dodd Crime Face painting from 2008

It was a good day to cut out of work and go on an art supply run. I needed white oil paint but not just any white paint. I’m in the habit of leaving a lot of white space on my finished canvases. I’ve gotten used to people asking if my paintings are done. Is there some rule that you have to cover all the white Gesso on the store bought canvas? Many times I paint out portions of my paintings with white and then find that the white oil paint yellows over time so the white oil on white Gesso looks more like yellowed white on white Gesso. White oil paint yellows in the dark and then gets bleached out by the light. It really goes to town if the painting gets put a way for a while. I can usually bring it back to white on white with a few weeks of daylight exposure but some paintings are really stubborn.I would love to know what causes this. Is it the pigment or the medium?

I switched from Gamblin to M.Graham and now the M.Graham has yellowed on me. I went out to buy something different but came home with three more big tubes of M.Graham. I found that M. Graham makes two kinds of Titanium White. I was using the one with Sunflower Oil and Alkyd Resin as a vehicle and now I’m going to try the one with walnut oil.

Peggi just finished “Goya” by Robert Hughes. I started it a while ago but never finished it. I got lost gazing at the pictures. I might go back to it later on tonight.

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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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Painting Houses and Crime Faces

Paul Dodd Crime Face #22 2008
Paul Dodd Crime Face #22 2008

It is not just a coincidence that we finished painting our house yesterday and that painting class starts up again today (see class listing below). My painting arm is in good shape, my mind is well rested and I am ready to apply myself to this most engaging discipline.

Don’t let the “Advanced” part of the description scare you. Sign up if you if you’d like to be a better painter. Fred Lipp is the best.

ADVANCED PAINTING – Creative Workshop – Memorial Art Gallery
Ten Tuesdays, 6:30–9:30 pm, September 23–November 25 [taught by Fred Lipp]
This studio is a place of camaraderie, concentration and honesty mentored by highly respected painter and teacher Fred Lipp. Your work will be carefully seen, reviewed, and nudged along, as you’re challenged to consider what you’re creating, why and (most importantly) how the painting works and can work better. Painters work in a variety of styles, manners and media. Register early as this class fills quickly.


Speed Isn’t Everything

Turkey in the woods Irondequoit NY
Turkey in the woods Irondequoit NY

Turkeys are almost too big to fly and even though they have wings it seems they would rather walk. Occasionally we come up on a group of them and they will all take off but that is only if we have really taken them by surprise. Otherwise they just walk a little faster to get away form us.

Alice asked to see my recent paintings last night and I expressed or tried to articulate a problem that I thought I was having with a few of them. I feel like I am ill equipped to fine tune some them that started off full of energy but are now bogged down. Bogged down because I’m trying to attend to poorly executed details. As I fumble my way through addressing these problems I feel like I’m over polishing and loosing the original energy.

Alice pointed out that speed isn’t everything and if the problem was really severe I could paint it out and start over. She made me realize that the choice is entirely mine as to whether I like the painting or not. And if I do, it is worth whatever it takes to finish it. The time frame is dictated by the situation and is really irrelevant to the finished piece.

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Worst First

You know how when you wander off a trail in the woods and you find yourself wallowing in the brush, ducking under low branches with prickers grabbing your clothing and the ground gets all mushy and wet and you’re thinking it might just be better to go back but then you’d be backtracking which is usually a bummer.

After knocking off some pretty quick paintings, I have been spending a lot of time trying to bring others with a good start to a close. There is no proper amount of time that a painting should take. It could happen in a flash or it could be a long struggle. Both are equally valid. It could take a lifetime to learn how to execute a perfect stroke. And in the end it is only the process that is rewarding. The paintings themselves are markers.

I have terrible time management skills and it is really easy for me to get off the path while painting so I am really interested in procedure. My painting teacher, Fred Lipp has very few rules. In fact he boasts that he can break any rule and get away with it.

One of these rules is: “Always address the worst first”. If there is a sore spot in the piece you are working on, fix it. Now. Well, how do you know what the worst area is? Another one of his rules helps here. “If the question comes up, the answer is yes.” If you are questioning whether something is wrong, it probably is. This works 99.9 per cent of the time.

While working on this last bunch of paintings I have to keep reminding myself to stay focused on making the “worst” better. I would rather be starting some new, fresh faces but I created these problems and I’m trying to clean them up. The procedural rules help and I am grateful for them.

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One Percent

There was a new guy in my painting class tonight. He is an architect by day. He asked me who these people were that I was painting and I said that they were from the CrimeStoppers page in the paper. He seemed really surprised but he smiled and said, “They have some attitude”.

The other day I read that one out every one hundred US citizens are in prison. I know at least a hundred people and I know someone who did time for printing twenties in his basement. And my brother did some time for weed but I don’t know anyone behind bars. I know my friend, Frank Paolo, visits a woman in prison.

I guess these crime faces are really pretty mainstream. I plan to to move on to some new subject manner as as soon as I can nail this “attitude” thing.


I’m Not Fussing

I brought a pile of paintings to class last week. I think I had eight that were near done but all needed more work. I’ve been having fun starting new ones and trying to grab the essence of these crime guys as quickly as possible without getting bogged down correcting all my mistakes. Fred, my painting teacher came around and said, “I’ll talk about these when you’re ready”. I said “I’m ready now. I’m getting tired of fussing with this one”. He said, “I don’t like the word fussing. I like struggling”. I guess it is a little more noble.

So this week I’ve spent a lot of time time “struggling”. It’s the perfect word for this activity. Someone has to do it. And if the word sounded any easier it wouldn’t come close to describing how difficult painting is. Like Fred says, “It’s supposed to be difficult. If it was easy, everyone would do it.”

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Art Ensemble

Paul Dodd Painting In Studio
Paul Dodd Painting In Studio

I loaded the cd player (shown to the left) with five Art Ensemble of Chicago cds and hoped some of their magic would rub off on me.

And I remembered another painting truism. The further back I stand from my painting, the better it looks. And I don’t mean just because I can’t see it as well. When I catch myself hunching over the canvas I know I am in trouble. I am better off hanging onto the end of a big brush and standing as far back as I can. This way I can keep the whole painting in view while I paint a small section. When I start obsessing on the parts I would be better off walking away. “Walking away” seems to be a useful technique as well. When I come back to it, I usually find a clearer picture of the real problems.