Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Curtain Call Paintings

Recently someone sent me an email saying that my work reminded them of another painter who was lining up objects all in a row similar to mine. I thought it was a good time to post them all going back to number one, painted in November 2005.

Curtain Call XIV 2009
When I started this series in 2005 I heavily researched it to make sure no one else had lined up fruits and vegetables like this. I checked art books and Google and found nothing. Bottles of alcohol lined up, sure, but nothing like these. I googled, paintings lined up in a row, horizontal still -life, 12 x 40,
Long fruit and vegetable paintings, etc.

Curtain Call XIII 2009
I try really hard never to deliberately copy a painting I have already seen. What I found when I went to their site was that all of their work was done recently. Not a single painting from before 2011! I told the person who mentioned it to me that actually my series was older and most likely they saw my work and not the other way around. I was told "Oh, don't be upset and jealous now" - Thankfully they were not standing near a flight of stairs.

Curtain Call XII 2009
I came up with the idea because I really hated still-life paintings. I found them contrived and boring.
In order to keep my own interest, I decided to pretend they were characters on a stage taking a bow,
after the painting had been completed. Originally I was calling them Long Vegetable Still-life, but then an actress friend of mine heard the point and said, that's called a curtain call. So, I titled it Curtain Call - again I thought it was an original idea.

Curtain Call XI 2008

Number one and number two were part of my first solo exhibition in Arizona in 2006.
They were the first two paintings to sell out of that show. I thought, hey, I must be on to something here.

Curtain Call XV 2008
When they sold, the gallery owner asked if I could paint two more. I always do two at a time with a similar feel but different objects. People seem to like to buy them together.

Curtain Call XV 2007
When I see that another painter has done something, I try to stay away, not from the subject but at least from the layout and or composition. Especially if it is a teacher of mine. For example, I will never paint NY Subway scenes, Daniel Greene has done it. Out of respect for him I will never do it. And yet, another student of Dan's is copying him to the point that the work looks identical. Makes me sick, I met him once, I can't look at him...

Curtain Call VIII 2007
I know it is hard to separate from a student teacher influence but at least try! I know my drawings look like High Focus Drawings from the School of Visual Arts but I don't sit there and copy the book, I try to have my own take on it. When anyone asks, I tell them who my teachers were. I have a friend who asked if  he could do something similar to what I am doing, would I mind? He said he would give me credit o the work. Of course you can do that, I said!!! I was impressed that he offered credit without me having to mention it. In my book, I gave credit in the beginning to Daniel Greene and my drawing instructors. Most people just want a little credit.

Curtain Call VII 2007
When I decided to do wave paintings I googled it to see if anyone else was doing them.
Well, a few people were including one of my favorite painters, Daniel Adel. I was crushed. I didn't want anyone to think I was ripping off Daniel Adel, especially him! I friend of mine said, it's the ocean, a few people have painted it before, and you have your own look to your work. If anyone asks just give him credit for the influence. If you start painting engine parts and crumpled pieces of paper, then he might be pissed. I'd like to add that Daniel Adel's wave paintings are the best I have ever seen.

Curtain Call VI 2007

I am really sick of people thinking it's OK to help themselves to the art world like it's the buffet table at Red Lobster and no one is looking. Art, to me, is about having your own opinions. Not copying something because it sold.
Right now, as soon as something sells, there are a dozen people lined up saying - "oh, that sold for how much? I better make one too!"

Curtain Call V 2007
I don't even like copying myself because something sold...but I have no choice. The market is set up so that many painters, who have no other means of income, have to paint constantly, and sell for far less then they are worth just to pay the bills.

This post may sound like I only want to be around people who agree with me, which is common. Actually, the opposite is true! I want to be around people who aren't like me, who don't even agree with me, but do the best they can do.
I like people who have their own ideas, and present them in an intelligent way. Unfortunaltely many of those people are afraid to open their mouths in public. I get that. Hey, do you feel that way?
Are you reading this and thinking, "I wish I could say what I was thinking most of the time"... - go add me as a friend on Facebook, I 'd be happy to call you friend..

Curtain Call V 2007
It is hard to come up with an original idea when you are trying to make five, ten, twenty, or even one painting a week. I get that. It is the reason i turn them into characters. I figure If I paint what is DIFFERENT about an apple, rather then what is the same. I can line up twenty apples in twenty paintings and they all will be different. Sometimes I see a painting of fruit all lined up, and it is the same apple over and over. I think, great, not only did they swipe my idea, they missed the point too.

Curtain Call III 2006
I also never understood the idea of working in someone else's style. This is big in illustration. Painters are recognized by style, before name in many cases. Stealing a style, is like stealing a name or a credit card. It's like wearing someone's underwear. Hey, get your own, I'm using mine!!

Curtain Call II 2005
Back to the original point - This was number two. As I said, painted in 2005!
This is the first time I have lined them up all in the same place.
I was really amazed at how much I have improved of the years.

Curtain Call I 2005

Number one!! The first in the series. I had just started painting still-lifes when I did this but as I look at it I remember liking the flat onion as a character. The two pears slightly touching, etc.

Now, before someone sends me the angry email or posts a comment saying, my great grandpa did this exact type of painting in 1832...blah, blah, blah. I'm not saying it has never been done ever. I'm saying, if it has, I didn't see it. I do think it is possible for two people to come up with the same idea. I'm talking about the "cheats". The ones who see something and copy it, who go to a gallery and see a painting and think "I have to try that". That is not inspiration, it's theft. To deliberately paint something, because it sold, or because they liked it and wanted it for themselves.

For my friends who know and understand what I'm talking about - I know you are smiling too.


  1. What a terrific post, Clinton. I enjoyed what you had to say about coming up with your own ideas and I really love all these "Curtain Call" paintings to observe the variety and the progression of your masterful skill.

    1. Thank you Fay, I am really glad you liked the post!! it took guts to post some of the older paintings - "Progression" is such a nice way to put it.
      Thanks again