In the Studio #67

Thanks to the national emergency I’ve been given tons of time in the studio and I’ve finally begun my first Gnostic Confessions piece and began a small works series called “Maxatawny Stitzer”. I’ve been trying to keep my mind off all the existential questions this current national crisis brings to mind by focusing on my art. Unfortunately often the mood in the air filters down into the work and so I’m finding my painting a bit more plotting and deliberative then normal. Actually, I’m a very ruthless artist where planning is concerned but there comes a point in the painting process where all the planning and sketches, underpaintings, personal notes and the like all fall away and I’m free just to channel my inner muse without the filter of an underlying scheme, that is, when there not an annoying pestilence distracting me.


Here are some beautiful flowers I saw the other day walking home from the bus

Anyway, a couple of days ago I finished “Maxatawny Stitzer No. 1”. It was a very fast piece taking about three days from start to finish. I also prepped two of the sister paintings in the series. The works are influenced by a visit to my friend Marc Stitzer’s home late last fall. The sun was setting beautifully that day. I don’t really have much to say about painting the work other than it was fun. What painting this small work made me feel though was that I was yet again avoiding the hard work I set up for myself, work I have been avoiding for more than a year; and so after I finished this small landscape I decided to work hard on Gnostic Confessions for the last two weeks, and now I’m in the mess.


Here Maxatawny Sitizer No. 1 all finished

This first work in this series which by the way once again is officially and of course pretentiously titled “The Twelve Gnostic Confessions Of St Bartholomew The Lame”, has the unenviable task of acting as art therapy, a much needed dense abstract work and to contain all the thematic motifs of the entire set. That’s why I call these first pieces chapter houses, and it’s usually why I either love or hate the first work in a series because it’s either the perfect encapsulation of my idea or its a muddy mess which only successive pieces can unpack and rescue in some fashion. This piece oddly enough looks like it’s going to live somewhere in between, although as it is the first whose to say. One thing is for certain, it took a long time to create, and the steps I took, the ways I divided the picture-plane and later, added collage, paint, gloss medium, and dyes were all confused and annoying to me and not fun at all. The results I think are a success however and were a proof of concept for the set, but it’ll probably not be a quick turn around for the other pieces in the series. My ideas for the series is that they will come out in 3 chapters of 4 pieces each so I think I will burn hard to try to get chapter 1 out this spring and then do a chapter 2 in the summer and a chapter 3 in the fall. Given how time-consuming this piece was I think that is a realistic time frame.

Here are some process shots of Gnostic Confessions No. 1 along with the final work


Anthony Smith Jr, The Twelve Gnostic Confessions of St Bartholomew the Lame No. 1, 20 x 36 inches, mixed media, 2020.jpg


When I first began writing this blog post about a week ago I was in an interesting jazz mood which I try to escape to when news gets bad and I want to depart from all the noise. During that time I stumbled on two artists Hal McKusick and Nicholas Payton. I don’t know much of the two but I found two pieces of the following two pieces of there’s very sweet and calming. Heres Hal McKusick’s “Don’t Worry About Me” And Nicolas Payton’s “Way Down In New Orleans”.


Gnostic Confessions has a very specific structure that I’d like to explore and write about in a future blog post in the next week or so. By then I should have popped off a few more small Maxatawny Stitzer landscapes, and maybe begin work of a boy-girl portrait piece I’ve been thinking about. Until then be safe and be well.

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