Nero Lyred While Rome Burned, But Was He Any Good, and Did He Know?


Last night I sat with painters who sat 6,000 miles away painting a model who sat like a heron waiting for supper, even if the supper might never come. It may have been the most non-tragic humbling experience of my life. This morning I still feel almost rotten to the core, unworthy, and outclassed. In the land of figurative painting, I had no right entering Alexey’s studio in the guise of a painter. I could have delivered their pizza, maybe.

For several nights our roof has been suffering 50 mile per hour gusts, and shingles are tearing off. I hear a loud slapping above my head. This keeps me from sleep and well-being. I have been insomniac for over a week. I thought up the Nero title while wide awake in bed, in dread. A musical emperor always told of his talent, and because of his arrogance, believing it himself right up to the end. What slight could ever slip through the stone wall idea of himself to slice the head off the ego?

I don’t know yet. It stands before me with the cutlass raised.

My favorite line from the Stuckist Manifesto:

  1. It is the Stuckist’s duty to explore his/her neurosis and innocence through the making of paintings and displaying them in public, thereby enriching society by giving shared form to individual experience and an individual form to shared experience.

There, that’s the truth, and that is off my chest. Aside from awakening me to my faults, I had a memorable experience. I shall continue this figurative work as practice, but only because it builds appreciation for what I cannot do at the present time.

Also, this fact cannot be understated: I painted in Moscow last night, and painters from Moscow were in my studio. I know it is a first for Oswego, and that means history has been made. The language gulf was wide, even with Sergey, the model, who spoke good English. I met the latter, along with Alexey, Andrew, Lena, and Igor, and yet I could not get to know them past their genius and body language.

And my body language is fluent in spastic, so I can imagine the worse of what was determined about me. So, while I continue this blog and project, I will post a fact or two about myself from time to time in order to connect with painting colleagues, if they wish to know anything about me beyond the elements of art.

I am an accomplished cook and have absolute confidence in the kitchen. I know my limitations, yet also know that I would be a strong addition to any culinary team, of any race, creed, or color, or mixture thereof.

Here are some photos Alexey took last night (morning and early afternoon my time), followed by an unfinished attempt by me. I say unfinished, because I promised it to the model Sergey, and I must clean it up to my specs. As you can see from the finished work of Alexey and friends, they are very good at this game. Two fifty minute sessions with a fifteen minute break in between. Wow.

If there is time, please watch the video too. It is sped 20 times fast. After initial maneuvering, watch how still Sergey sits while the head of the painter explodes. My wife who has a lot of studio-model experience, said he was the best she ever witnessed.

Listen here Alexey and friends… If you haven’t read Training of a Zen Buddhist Monk by D.T. Susuki, do so if you can find it. I feel like the poor soul at the first stage of acceptance into the dojo. I am still sleeping outside in the elements waiting for the door to open. I hope this translates well. And I hope I get invited to another session some day.


Unfinished. Acrylic on canvas 20 x 16″




2 thoughts on “Nero Lyred While Rome Burned, But Was He Any Good, and Did He Know?

  1. The video reminds me of when I would have my students do model drawings in 30 seconds or a minute. The whole figure. It made the drawings that were 5 minutes long somewhat better.

    Liked by 1 person

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