Masterpieces and Idiots

By W R Jones

The Teacher
The Teacher    14″ x 18″   Oil on linen panel


I was at a framing shop when I noticed a beautiful large, 8′ x 10′, maple frame.  I commented on it and the frame shop owner showed me the large painting for which it was intended.  The painting was solid black, purchased at an auction for $80,000.  The buyer felt he got a bargain.    I was astounded.  The shop owner told me the painting was by a well known artist – never heard of him.  I looked him up using Google.  He is mostly known for sculpture which is as minimal in design as his painting.  A slab of steel for equally weighty sums of money.  

I thought the outlay of $80K for a solid black painting was stupid in the extreme.  But then I read in the Wall Street Journal of a solid red painting that sold for $34 Million.  What the hell is going on here?  My first thought is to question how  people that stupid can get their hands on large sums of money.  But then – maybe they are actually very smart.  They are investing, looking for a real idiot to purchase from them for even more money.   I suppose it is a pretty good business model.  There will never be a shortage of idiots.   I can’t help but wonder if somewhere down the line there may be a terminal idiot.  The last in the line before the rest of the world figures out you can pretty much paint your own solid color (or have the maid do it for you).

But what about collectors who buy these pieces for pleasure and not resale?  What is going on in their minds?   Do they see it as a masterpiece?  If you change the signature on the piece how much would they pay then?  I imagine an experiment whereby you take an actual Picasso painting and change the signature to Sever Tisthammer, a Minnesota grain farmer.  At the same time have a five year old draw something and have Picasso sign it.  I would love to be at that auction.

I’m just another of the billions of idiots without the funds to flaunt my lack of common sense.  I’m forced to promote my idiocy through everyday conversations with random passers by.  I must say I’m having considerable success.  At least locally, practically everyone calls me an idiot.

I still feel $34 Million for a signature on some red paint is a less than optimum use of money.  Maybe it is just the jealousy talking here.  I can’t get diddly squat for my signature unless it is on a check.

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By WR Jones

First Day of Spring
First Day of Spring – 14″ x 18″ – Oil on linen panel


See this one horse, er one truck town?  I wouldn’t be able to find my way.  Simply too many streets.  Well, not so many streets as much as the one street has two possible directions.

I’ve been spatially bereft since birth.  I probably found the nurse’s breast by mistake.   That part of my brain that should have been devoted to determining where I am in the world was crowded out by a neural structure devoted to whiffledust.

My first memory of being lost was at the age of 5 when we visited relatives in a small Iowa town.   I wandered off.  As soon as I realized I was lost my lower lip started quivering, tears began to flow, and my nose got runny.  Some adult found me and took me to mother.  I’ve been using this same technique ever since.  I did have a learning curve about whom I could use this particular technique on.   Certain people are sympathetic when confronting tears, others just kick your ass for sniveling.

I have many painful memories of the old days with road maps.  Long hours looking at maps and street signs.  I know I’m on this street but am I going north or south?  What does north and south stand for anyway?   The top of the map is always north so what is the point of talking about that stuff?

I once spent a week doing some work for the Navy in Washington DC.   Flew in from California, picked up a rental car and drove to hotel.  They told me I did not have a reservation.  I insisted I did as I watched as the reservation was made.  They informed me that while I did have the correct hotel name, I was in the wrong town,  Oh.

Got to the right town and hotel.  Let’s call that point A and we will call the building I was working in for the week, point B.  Monday morning, going from point A to point B I got lost.  This was to be expected.  Tuesday morning from the same point A to the same point B I got lost again.  Wednesday was an embarrassing repeat of Monday and Tue.  Thursday the same.  Now I look like a complete nitwit.   Thursday evening a woman flew in from CA to go with me to a meeting on Friday.   I told her (I wouldn’t have but expected others to rat me out so wanted to appear to be forthright about my issues) about being lost 4 days in a row going between same two points.  I assured her that I had the route locked in my mind now.  No worries about getting to meeting.   Started out confidently.  Eventually my sense of passing time tells me the bad news – there is no living way I’m on the correct route.  I stop to ask directions AGAIN – I’m in the wrong state and heading further away from my destination.   I have no recollection of getting back to CA.  Maybe they boxed me up and mailed me.

Then came the miracle of GPS!  I would never be lost again.

Last week I was driving with my wife in Los Angeles.   We left a hospital in San Fernando valley to drive to LA.  I knew the route like the back of my hand.  I was ok until I made that one wrong turn.    No problem, I will get off at the next off ramp, get back on in the other direction and retrace my path.  As bad luck would have it, there was no on ramp going the other direction.   This turn, that turn, nothing.  Finally my wife gets fed up and turns on the GPS.  Except for the “rerouting” mantra getting back on track was a breeze.   Then I shut the GPS off as I knew the rest of the route.  And I did, thus I can’t explain how I made that wrong turn.  That 50/50 chance stuff is bullshit.  I get it wrong 100% of the time.  My wife turned on the GPS again and told me if I touched it she would bounce my head off the steering wheel. 

I have some struggles typing this post.   This computer seems a little different.   I hope I’m in the right house.

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A Mother’s Love

By wr jones

“Erika” in a sort of Sargent pose – oil on  linen 36″ x 24″

Neighborhood Watch
Neighborhood Watch  –  oil on linen  –  I don’t remember the size and am too lazy to check.  He weighs 5 lbs and this is 3/4 size painting, you do the calculations.

Mango Resting
Mango not watching the neighborhood – off duty position.

I read an article about a woman with a cat and a child.  The article didn’t mention it but it seems she got the cat before the child was born.  Turns out the child is allergic to the cat.   On finding this out the mother took a belligerent stand about never getting rid of the cat.  The way it read in the paper made it seem that getting rid of the child and keeping the cat was a option.  Instead mother came up with  a plan to dose the child daily with allergy pills and eye drops.  I hope the kid has a loving grandparent because if the cat turns up allergic to the kid, sonny boy is history.

I would choose my daughter over Mango (most of the time anyway).   Mango wouldn’t care that much.  He would head out the doggy door and look for a better life elsewhere.  I’m not sure how much better life he would expect to get.   We feed him, wipe his butt, carry him everywhere and give up our pillows nightly for him to sleep comfortably.

You can’t buy these paintings for any amount of money – within reason of course, oh hell, just make me an offer.

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Kamikaze Painter


by Lisa

Notice anything funny? Do most chairs have a handle that flushes?  No.  Indeed, that is my third floor bathroom.  This, is how we diehard painters will go the distance to capture that beautiful scene outside even if it means standing on your knees on the toilet for hours.  I personally will climb any indoor mountain, to avoid the bugs, the critters, the bird poop, the honking cars, the people who come to observe and tell you they know where a good painting class is being offered (and you happen to be the teacher of that class), and in my case now here in Iowa, the COLD.

I was spoiled in California with the weather year round.  It is a different playing field here in ol’ Dubuque, Iowa, for sure, where the wind off that mighty river down yonder, will freeze you up faster than you can say, “Bill, stop stealing that ladies flowers.”  We, as diehards, have to find other means in the winter, even if it involves a toilet.

Bill, if no one buys that sweet little painting you are auctioning below this post, will you give it to  me?  (tip to all:  that is one of Bill’s most beautiful paintings, and you are all nuts not to buy it.  I would buy it, but I am hoping none of you bid on it, and he will just give it to me.)


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Handy Man

By WR Jones

Plein Air

Plein Air – 8″ x 10″ – Oil on Linen Panel
This little girl is getting a head start on a life of frustration.  Good luck kid.


I’m going to talk about some general handy man stuff today.

The first issue:

Keeping track of your glue.   Last week I needed some super glue.  I needed it to glue my broken guitar playing thumbnail.  The nail broke when I fell with my bike (again). Guess the pain from the first fall didn’t register to the extent I would learn something.  Now I’ve got a note taped to my handlebars reminding me to un-clip feet when stopping.  Had to use tape instead of glue as I didn’t have any glue.  It just occurred to me that if I’m going to stick with those biking shoes (and my wife is insisting that I do so having spent all that money on them) I ought to put those training wheels back on.   Well, I take the car to Walmart to get a $7 big bottle of super glue for the thumbnail.  Would have ridden the bike but now I get the shakes every time I go near it.    I get home and open desk drawer to put my car keys away and notice I did have a big bottle of super glue.  Ok, let’s not get started on the memory issue.  I open the new glue and apply to thumbnail.  All is good.  The next day I need to glue the trim on my pickleball paddle.  Can’t find the new bottle of glue.   Fine, I have another in my desk.  I use that bottle to fix paddle.  Two days later my thumbnail is splitting again.  I look for the glue that was in my desk.  Not there.  In fact not ANYWHERE.  It has gone to glue heaven with the first bottle.   Now I have lost $14 worth of glue in a few days.  Could this sort of thing have led to that saying, “a fool and his money?”   I bought a third bottle of glue.  This time paying only $5 so if when I lose it my total glue expense will be less than $20.  Brilliance comes in spurts they say – after fixing my nail I glued the bottle down.  Good idea eh.  Well the concept was ok but not so much the execution.  I glued it to my desk.  If I rip it off it will leave a noticeable spot on the expensively refinished top.  I’ll just dust around it.  If I need it for my thumb again I will have to turn the desk over to get glue to drip out.  This feels like a future disaster.

The second issue:

Plumbing – don’t do it, pay someone.

I changed to a fancy shower head this morning.  The first attempt failed as the water shot out the connection onto the shower head wall and ceiling instead of coming out the expected holes.  Not sure exactly what happened.  I tried again.  This time I planned on tightening the connection so the water could not possibly escape backwards.  Well really, how was I to know a wrench could slip off like that?  Gouged a small hole in wall.  Not that big of deal and I didn’t spill all that much paint while touching up the wall repair.  Now it sort of works.  At least the back spurt doesn’t reach all the way to the ceiling.  This shit is some sort of black magic, pay your local warlock to do it.

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By WR Jones


DOTS  –  4″ x 4″  –  Oil on Gessoboard


They are helpful about taking my money.  On the cover of the issue I received yesterday was a tear out postcard to subscribe.  It had a year’s subscription as $23.96.  Standing by the mailbox I started to remove it from the cover to put into the outgoing mail slot.  Before I could finish another postcard fell out of the magazine.   Picked it up – another subscription postcard – this time for $21.96.  Being somewhat of a financial wizard I went with the fall out postcard.  I looked in my checkbook at last year’s price – $14.95.   Everyone at the magazine must have received a nice raise this year.

The candy painting goes well with my Halloween sweet tooth.  If I hadn’t spent so much money on that magazine I could have more candy.  Still, all is not lost.  This makes for a rational reason not to share my shortened supply of sweets with a hoard of scruffy children.

Posted in Humor, Painting, Rants, Still Life | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments


By WR Jones

I saw a young black man at a grocery store today with his pants barely hanging on below the hips and 50% of his underwear showing.  He made a small tug on his trousers to hike them up a bit.  It did help keep him from tripping over his pant legs I suppose but that was about all.  The fact that he was black doesn’t really enter into my observation except as a paragraph filler.  This makes it seem I work harder at this writing business.

I looked at him wondering how he chose this particular dress style.  He must have seen someone else with his ass hanging out and said to himself, “Wow, that looks cool.  I want that look.”  This is probably how most of us pick our dress style.  I went to a western hat store last week to have my Stetson “Open Road” hat shaped to fit my head better.  I bought the hat because I saw an old gentleman with the same hat and thought he looked elegant.  I told the woman in the store the reason I had purchased this particular hat and could not understand how I looked like such a buffoon with it on my head.   After all, I and the old gentleman were about the same age.  How could he look elegant and I look like a common shithead?  After reshaping the hat the woman said it looked better.  I asked her if I looked elegant now.  Damn I hate blunt women.  As a business woman you would think she could finesse a little lie.

Another issue:

This painting started out as a still life of a slice of apple pie.   I can’t seem to gain control of my compositions; they run amok.   At one point I had a dump truck and a miniature giraffe in the foreground when my wife suggested flowers.  I followed her suggestion as gospel (a little play on words and illustration) as I was hungry and wanted some dinner.  Are there any drugs that will:

1.  make me feel very good

2.  make it so I don’t have to pee quite so often

3.  clamp down on this ADD that jerks me from one subject to another before I get my paints laid out.

Posted in Critiques, Humor, Landscape, Painting, Rants | 11 Comments