Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Wait 'til your BG gets home!

Johnny Winter draft 2
Originally uploaded by Elvira Black.'s BG's second "draft" of Johnny Winter. I put it up now because he's gone to do some errands in the "city" (where I should have been today, helping my ex-b/f pack so we can SELL this coop already.) But I've been having some horrible dreams about moving out of Manhattan. No need to interpret them...they speak for themselves.

Anyway, the other night I kind of caught BG at a weak moment...with a little help from your comments. He'd had a "few," which usually results in a little attitude adjustment, and I got him off guard. I tried for the thousandth time to convince him that it would be fascinating to show the various stages of his "creation," but he is very resistant to this idea. I guess he thinks his earlier stages are not show-worthy, but I have to say that I think this "unfinished" work has received more positive comments than any other BG work that I've put up here. In a way, I suspect the rougher stuff has more of an impact, and I've always told him he could stop at any point in his creations and it would still look like a viable finished work.

So at one point he kind of mumbled "Do what you want,"...though he changes his mind on this frequently. I don't show him much on this blog anyway. When I do read him some entries, he usually likes them, but at other times paranoia sets in and he says "Don't put anything about me on your blog!"

BG is highly ambivalent about recognition. I started sending out slides of his stuff years ago, and as a result he was in three shows, plus he won nationwide in a VA art competition, and had one of his works published in a book .He hated all the openings--the last fiasco is detailed in Alternative Gallery Hell. If I had been consistent and pushed harder, it is likely he could have shown more. But I've come to realize that BG has a point when he says he's not ready to show yet--for one thing he's still discovering what he can do, though he's been doing artworks on and off all his life. As BG sees it, in a way, these are just studies.

Lately, esp. now that BG uses oils as well as acrylic, his work tends to be more "finished" and perhaps even "academic" in style than heretofore. Since he is totally self-taught, I think he feels insecure about the fact that he never learned the classical techniques, so his latest works are often more traditionally representational. But judging from the response here to the first draft of Johnny, maybe some of the rougher renditions have more impact.

In answer to Timothy's question: BG used to work solely in acrylic, but now he starts with acrylic and then switches to water-soluble oil. He paints on canvas or canvas panels, depending on the size. His idol is Francis Bacon (the artist, not the other guy), and though he feels Bacon has had a big influence on his work, there is really no direct similarity between the two--other than perhaps BG's penchant for bold, dramatic effect. Francis Bacon, an Irish/British artist, broke new ground esp in the '50s at a time when the art world was pretty much co-opted by the abstract expressionists.

In addition to his paintings--a fraction of which appear on this blog--BG will occasionally (albeit reluctantly) do a quick illustration to go with some of my humor stories. He did my Elvira Black"logo" as well. These he can do with his eyes closed and his frontal lobes tied behind his back, but he really doesn't like to do them.

Anyway, on my woefully out of date site map (another source of blogger's remorse) is a section called "BG's art," which has links to the earlier BG stuff I've posted on my blog.

Thanks again, everyone, for all the kind comments on BG's art.


At 3:35 PM, Blogger Timothy said...

E, I am very happy you got him to put this on here! Thanks!!! BG has got some great emotion going in Johnny’s eyes. Fantastic! I am 4 classes short of having a BA in fine art. That was my first college major back in 1981 before I got my BA in psychology recently. I wanted to be an art teacher, but then I got married and dropped out and yadda, yadda here I am now. In many artist’s opinions, how you were taught is not so important. Only art critics care about that stuff and who cares about their opinions? In fact, I have tons of respect for self-taught. I play guitar, both acoustic and electric, bass, drums, harmonica, and mandolin. All of which I taught myself how to play. I can not read music nor do I know the notes on my instruments. Just like BG, I just create. College helped my art considerably, but I am not convinced it would make much difference in some people. I teach a drawing class at the YMCA. Mostly because I love to teach and I love art and I get to work-out for free. Classic techniques mean very little, but they are nice to know and try out. If BG has an ideal, then he has been influenced in a positive manner. That is perhaps more important than ‘professional’ training. One nice thing about having a teacher is that a person can get some fresh ideas. One of my biggest influences in art before college was Frank Fazzetta. He did lots of fantasy type paintings that were on some album covers in the 70’s and early 80’s, most notably “Molly Hatchet.” I liked Boris and Rodger Dean, too. Then, I discovered Vargas. He did “pin-up” art in the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s before the technology in photography was good enough to make decent colored photos. His technque was to use water colors as a base and then chalk pastels over the top. His work is amazingly realistic looking. I have done lots of that type work lately (mostly women and dragons), using the water color and pastel technique, but I am not so much into making things look “real.” (So who’d a thought I was going to be inspired artistically by looking at my grandfathers old nuddie calendars? Not Grandma when she caught me.) BG is pretty lucky to have someone like you with this. I think one of my requests for a girlfriend/wife is to have her push me like that to do something with my art, music and writing.

At 7:01 PM, Blogger dan said...

Personally, I love that there's no 'classical' technique to it. It's more visceral because it comes from somewhere outside of strictly technique.

If he argues, beat him over the head with something blunt. Good is good.

At 9:14 PM, Blogger digibrill said...

Good stuff. Eerie and piercing. Image of paintings don't always do them justice, but you've done a good job with it. Maybe he could take some extension courses on basic techniques or audit some courses. All the bang with much less buck.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger E-E said...

wow.... absolutely great stuff, sweetie. I also looked at the other stuff on flickr. Very, very cool.

He is truly talented, no question about it - and reminds me of one of my closest friends who is a portrait painter.
BG is like all of us artists... moody, emotional, creative, sad, happy... when he is moody and doesn't want it on he is just being like any of us.
Feeling exposed!
But the work is very cool, and I truly mean that.

Nice posting! Thanks!

At 11:03 PM, Blogger cell13 said...

Very nice, and interesting reading.

I was always told to read between the lines.

Next time

At 11:20 AM, Blogger Reverend Z said...

Great art! Maybe the lack of "traditional" training makes it more powerful, he doesn't have the life, the raw emotion, taught out of his work.

At 12:10 PM, Blogger jessie said...

he is very talented artist. his work seems to have alot of emotion. you must be very proud of his work.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


Many thanks! I agree about the self-taught stuff. As I mentioned, BG and I play music together from time to time too. We both just jam and play by ear. The funny thing is, some people with formal music training can play perfectly from sheet music, but cannot just improvise. I find that very hard to fathom. It's great that you are so versatile musically!

Teaching an art class sounds totally cool. I've often thought BG would have a ball doing that as well. I'm familiar with the artists you mentioned--very funny that your grandma caught you looking at your "influences"--lol!

At 12:25 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


LOL--I agree--I think the raw emotional aspect of BG's work is what gives it his impact--though he is far from finished with this one.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thanks! Actually, BG's final stuff--esp. the more recent works--do wind up looking more traditionally representational when he's done. One example is here. And this is not the final version of Johnny Winter by any means--it will probably look radically different by the time he's done.

With my encouragement, BG did attend the Art Student's League for a short while. You basically get to paint there in a studio with other students, and the actual "teacher" comes by once or twice a week and puts his two cents in. This teacher was a tradtional portraitist, and though his mastery of technique was admirable, I thought the finished product was kind of bland.

When he saw BG's stuff--he said, "It's got a lot of angst. You've got something there--painted incorrectly, of course." Typical. If it makes an impact, how can it be painted incorrectly? This is why in the end it's probably for the best that BG didn't attend art school.

He also wanted students to work on linen canvas (very expensive), use the "right" brushes and oils, etc. Thing is, you could give me all those accoutrements and my stuff would still look like it was done by a two year old. Some well known artists use "crude" mediums and they sell for thousands or millions. That's the crazy world of art, I guess.

At 12:42 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

emerald eyes:

Wow, thanks so much for the kind words! I read them to BG and he's very flattered.

As far as the artistic temperament, I guess you're right. But sometimes it does let one get away with things (lol). When I was in a hypomanic phase and being very difficult at work, my then-supervisor (who loved my hypomanic ability to write quickly and well) excused my outrageous behavior by saying that's the way creative people are! Nothing like being the enfant terrible lol...

At 12:44 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Cell 13:

Thanks! I like your layout, and love that picture--did you do this? It's very haunting and a little scary too! Hits me a little too close to home, I guess--lol. I was always afraid they'd stick me in the "quiet room" at the hospital, but I never acted up.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Reverend Z:

Thank you! My thoughts exactly. One of the MANY difficulties facing artists nowadays is that we live in a decidedly postmodern society, which to me means, in a nutshell, it's "all been done." So being original is not the same as it was with 20th century modernism. Now it's a case of combining older traditions and turning them on their ear by "riffing on" disparate older elements, etc. etc. At least, that's how I see it.

I tried to submit BG's work to an "outsider" art competition, but he just wasn't "outsider" enough. Pure outsider art is the product of people who are very isolated--usually mentally ill-and have no knowlege of or exposure to art history whatsoever. Although BG is self-taught, he is very much aware of art history and its influences. Since he is an expressionist, his originality comes from the fact that his works are a vehicle to release his raw emotions---and in this way, I feel he is making his "individual" mark.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger cell13 said...

After about 2 hours or so of looking, I found a pic that felt like me, at home, in cell13.

I admire your style, it keeps me coming back......That is a good thing.

Next time

At 12:56 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thank you! Yes, I think that is the hallmark of BG's work--the raw emotion comes through in every piece. I consider him to be an expressionist--which means, in his case, that his subjects always look depressed, pissed off, crazy--or all three.

At 1:01 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Cell 13:

That pic is absolutely amazing. I think I see something outside the cell window vaguely, but can't tell what it is.

Thank you so much...I'm so glad for your visits and comments.

At 4:32 PM, Blogger jane said...

That is an excellent painting, I can't believe it's just a 2nd draft!
And YEAH, to what Dan said!

At 7:52 PM, Blogger ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

THAT is totally beautiful! Thanks for sharing. :-)

BTW, and extremely off-topic, I am more "back in action" now; starting Zoloft seems to be helping somewhat, despite the fact that I am in extreme work-hell right now (and should be looking for another job)...


At 8:52 PM, Blogger Justine said...

I LOVE your logo! BG's got talent.

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Webmiztris said...

damn - I did a search for Johnny Winter on Google and I think I found the pic BG actually worked from (it's the second pic that comes up in Google Images) - awesome job, BG!!

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Nikky Egland said...

nice pic!!!!!!!!!

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Leslie said...

nice art! I'm not good at art (not the obvious kind, anyway, I'd like to think that everything can be an art form), so I excel in appreciating it. :)

Excellent work, BG!

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Duddits said...

Painting is awesome! Eyes are haunting!!!

At 5:16 AM, Blogger Walker said...

BG's art has so much depth.
I can understand how he feels about his work.
He paints for himself and expresses his feelings through his work.
I write poetry on occation and I sit back and look at it.
Make sure it's perfect and when I am happy with it, I delete it.
I only write them for me.
So I can understand his reluctance to show something of his soul let alone someting unfinished.
Somethings are so intimate that its hard to share them.

At 2:25 PM, Blogger Neil said...

Hey, BG don't be so gun shy! You're a talent.

At 12:57 AM, Blogger cell13 said...

It's a silhouette of my secret lover, in such "nice" form, waiting on me to get my ass in gear, and out of cell13.

When is your next post?, I'm getting horny waiting.

Next time

At 7:45 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Jane, AriK, Justine, Webmiztris, Nikky, Leslie, duddits, Neil:

Wow--thanks so much for your kind words on BG's art! I'll post later versions when he does them--he doesn't paint every day but does it when he's got the time and the mood strikes him. I read him your comments and he really appreciates them.

As a matter of fact, I think having this little "gallery" for BG is much more gratifying than the shows he's been in--so thanks again, everyone.

At 7:48 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


I'm glad you're feeling better with the new meds and all--but sorry you're having work woes. Yes, work-hell can be one of the worst hells of all. Here's hoping you prevail over the forces of evil!

At 7:49 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Yes, BG really outdid himself with my logo. It takes him no time at all, but he doesn't like to do them much. He even colored this one in for me! So I'm glad I nagged him to do it (lol).

At 7:51 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Yep, I'm pretty sure that's the one you're talking about. It's actually the only pic I've seen of Johnny Winter where he looks kinda cute instead of just weird!

At 7:53 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thanks so much--yes, BG is ambivalent about sharing his work with others, and particularly about showing anything that's "unfinished."

You write poetry too? Awesome! Though I don't understand why you'd delete it! Maybe you'll post some on your blog one of these days?

At 7:58 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:38 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Cell 13:

I'm glad you like the blog. However, as my (now very out of date) site mapwill attest to, although I try to cover a wild and wide array of topics, erotica is not just not one of them.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Walker said...

Now that enought time has gone by and no one will see this. I do have another blog I occational post a peom on. Its not linked to my personal blog and not visited by anyone really. Its just there for me. One of my readers stubled across it once and has since lost it LOL
Its just there for me I guess and who ever accidently stumbles on it.

At 3:17 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


Ah-ha--my Yahoo e-mail lets me link to the post you commented on, so I tracked this down--lol.

Well, it's good to know that you've got your poems "out there" instead of deleting them after you write them. Maybe some day you'll feel comfy enough to come "out of the closet" and show them, but I imagine poetry can be very personal. I've never even attempted it, so it's pretty impressive to me.


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