Monthly Archives: September 2012

Spell Paintings: the Process of Desire

I’ve mentioned spell paintings before – they’re one of my specialties. They operate sort of like vision boards. They’re artistic representations of elements one would like to see flourish in one’s life. You think about what you want/need/desire and you discuss it with an artist. Namely me. I render (we hope) an eye and soul pleasing design, rich in symbolic imagery, and then I paint it in appropriate colors. You hang it on the wall and see it every day. It seeps into your subconscious. You dream about it. The symbols work their magic. Before you know it, the elements of the painting are part of your material world. They have manifested. The spell painting is a success. If you’re careful about what you want. We don’t get into monkey’s paw territory if we can help it.

And spell paintings work, too. Make no mistake. I’ve seen it happen more than once.

This is a spell painting I made for my wife, Colleen. Let’s walk through the process with some visuals here.

First, we talk. She tells me what she wants to see manifest or increase or flourish in her life and I listen. I make notes in my sketchbook. I let it stew.

First sketches

Step two: I make lists and cull images and refine the sketch, which, if successful, will resonate with power and magnetism.

More sketches

Step three: the painting is completed, framed, and hung in a prominent place, to be seen often. In this case in the bedroom, across from the foot of the bed, easily visible before retiring and upon rising.

Finished spell painting.

Step four: things come to fruition. In this case, piano lessons, New Orleans, parties with friends, good food and wine, creative writing for fun and profit, good luck and the buoyancy of excellence, rising to the top like cream, etc. No dogs . . . yet.




Spell paintings work, chum. Don’t let anybody tell ya different. Contact me when you’re ready to change your life.



Filed under original art, spell paintings

Here’s a Guy Doing Something Different

with Paul at his opening at Dizzy’s

Paul Catalanotto has 17 years as an artisan plasterer under his belt, and now he’s working as a fine artist, along the lines of Michelangelo… only smoother. Frescoes of a sort, with more polish. He tints his plasters first, then works them into art, meshing the different-colored plasters together to create abstract — but plausibly figurative — paintings. Or frescoes. Or walls, kind of. They’re heavy and substantial and he polishes them till they’re smooth as glass. When you look at them you might see (if you’re me) an impressionistic night scene of the city, as seen from Queens. Or maybe not. That part is up to you.

Paul’s job is to turn plaster into beauty, and you can see what I mean at Dizzy’s on Fifth in Park Slope. They call themselves the finer diner, and that they are. I’ve enjoyed every meal I’ve had there, including a well balanced repast of beer and bacon during happy hour at the bar. Oh yes… baskets of bacon on the house during happy hour. You eat bacon, you get thirsty, you buy more drinks. Everybody wins.

Paul’s work will be up on the walls at the corner of Fifth Ave. and President St. in Park Slope through November 3, courtesy of Spring and Michele at Radar Curatorial.

“Westeastern” by Paul Catalanotto © 2012

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Filed under Art Shows, brooklyn

What I’m Reading Now, If Now Were About Two Years Ago

Paul Madonna’s fabulous book © 2007

I picked up Paul Madonna’s All Over Coffee a couple years back during a visit to San Francisco. Bought it at the fabled City Lights Bookstore in fact, right there on Columbus Avenue in North Beach. Historic store, historic neighborhood.

Madonna’s brush and pen and ink work is revelatory. I’ve never seen anyone capture both the subtleties and the power of light so well USING ONLY BLACK AND WHITE FOR PETE’S SAKE. How does he do it? Practice. And a great eye. And practice. He describes his learning process (and much more) in the book. I appreciate an artist who shares his process. It’s both encouraging (because since he wasn’t always that great, there may be hope for us mortals) and enlightening (ahh… so THAT’S how he did it!).

Paul Madonna © 2007

This book is a collection of work Paul did for the San Francisco Chronicle. Ostensibly, it’s a comic strip in which disembodied voices provide text to go with gorgeously rendered scenes of San Francisco, arguably the most scenic city in the U.S.

Madonna nails the feeling of San Fran, sometimes with just a clipped view between buildings, or the very top gables of an unmistakeably San Franciscan Edwardian mansion. It’s absolutely uncanny how good he is. All Over Coffee. Check it out.

My favorite one: a house on Ashbury and Page in the Haight (Paul Madonna ©2007)

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Filed under Artists, books

Shameless Plug for My Friend Sorgatz

Shameless is an overused word. Why do “plugs” always have to be described that way?? How about “unabashed?” Or “sincere?” “Useful?” “Worthwhile.” Let’s go with worthwhile.

Because this here is a worthwhile plug for my friend Mike Sorgatz, painter. He has a solo show opening Friday September 14, 6-9 p.m. at Figureworks, a gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn “dedicated to bringing you contemporary fine art that explores the human form.”

As Figureworks puts it “Michael’s paintings are immediately captivating by their vibrancy and playful abstraction. They keep one’s interest by discovering that they hold a whole world within them which is familiar to those living or walking throughout the New York City landscape.”

Also, they’re powerful and compelling and full of sound and movement. They explode from the center of the canvas, with light and shadow as thick as frosting. Check ’em out, and say hey to Mike for me. Because I’ll be out of town…


Filed under art in new york, Art Shows, Artists, brooklyn, new york, openings

A Thank-You Postcard from Burning Man

Just got back from a fairly intense stay in the Nevada desert. Alkali dust, all the time, from an ancient sea bed filled with the pulverized shells of long-dead shellfish. Breathe that stuff, eat it, get coated with it like a sugar donut. That’s the way it is at Burning Man.

But after a period of acclimation, it can be a good thing. It got a lot better when Colleen and I got with the spirit of giving (one of the ten principles of The Burn) and started gifting these postcards to people.

“Thank You from Burning Man MMXII”

We printed up a couple hundred, stamped ’em, and encouraged people to write a thank you to someone back home or wherever, and we would see they were mailed. A little tip o’ the cap from Burning Man. Colleen’s suggestion, and a fine sentiment, to be sure, but I didn’t expect the reaction we got.

We were swamped. The first woman we met was hoping to send postcards back home, but had just missed one opportunity to do it. Then, boom. We showed up and she got her wish. Uncanny coincidences like that happen all the time at Burning Man. I conjured a root beer out of thin air once.

Another girl started to write a note home and began crying as she was doing it, big old tears running down her dusty cheeks. Foreigners flocked to us, ready to spread thanks around the globe. Kids sent thanks to parents, and parents to kids. It was sweet.

We sent a few, too (and saved a few extras), so you might see one soon. We were surprised to get quick reactions from a couple of folks who already received ours. The moral of the story is this: say thanks to people. Right now. Do it. They’ll appreciate it, and so might you.

… and a tip o’ the pith helmet from Mr. Bob Hope. Bob HOPE, ladies and gentlemen! Bob Hope!

Thanks for reading!

YOUR U.S. Snail Service, always at the ready….

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Filed under cartoon art, original art