All posts by Rich Potter

About Rich Potter

Rich Potter's formative years were spent dreaming and drawing. Undiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder until his 40s, his travels have spanned 22 different countries. His appearances in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and on The Late Show with David Letterman weren't interesting enough, so one year, he completed a painting every day. Now he writes, performs comedy and produces a monthly clown cabaret in Washington DC. And other stuff, too.

The Space Race

Looking into the space race, in the timeline between Sputnik and the first moon landing, and our silly, silly nuclear sabre rattling.

The podcast says “a couple days late.” I made it a full week, just to release on a Wednesday. You’re welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

“My culture is not your prom dress…”

I’ve heard a lot about “cultural appropriation” recently. It seems to be a sticky situation and many people have a number of different ideas about what is right and what is wrong.

Then there’s this girl, Kezia Daum of Salt Lake City, who wore a Chinese-style dress to her prom and faced monstrous backlash from the Twittosphere. I find myself scratching my head.

People for thousands of years have worn clothing that is functional, with the materials they had on hand. If they had time/materials, they would add adornments such as beads or embroidery. The people in roles of leadership — or ones who had greater means — would have more ornate adornments.

I admit I’m pretty American, and I’ve traveled around the world a few times. This doesn’t mean I’ve seen everything or know everything. I have however seen people dressing in T-shirts and blue jeans or cowboy hats or business suits wherever I’ve gone. I was pleasantly amused to see a Japanese actor dancing in cowboy boots at Tokyo Disney’s Country Bear Jamboree.

I’ve also occasionally dressed up in traditional clothing (kimonos, sarongs) when it was offered or it suited my purposes. Did I think I was stealing someone’s culture? Not when it was offered/sold to me.

Great honor and dignity has been afforded this Asian garb by this 1980s Japanese video game.

I know some types of clothing are associated with holy, or sacred roles. As a clown, a thespian, and a smartass, I know historically in a healthy society, anything holy is ripe for exaltation, depiction, and iconoclasm. But there’s also the fact that art, fashion, and technology progress much more quickly if they can breathe. Sharing/cross-pollinating ideas is the best way to find new, better, and stronger ideas.

Putting up walls saying, “this is my culture and you can’t have it” I don’t think is the answer. Which brings me to a Kezia Daum, the blonde teen who found a cute Chinese dress for her prom and is now being subject to a world of hate for it. Really?! It looked like the sort of dress so sacred it was placed in the holy land of Japanese company CapCom’s Street Fighter game. So sacred.

But then there is stuff like keeping black artists out of the music industry while white recording artists plagiarized their songs and made the money from them. I’m sure there’s a bit of (deserved) resentment here and there. I see no simple answer to this, especially when everyone’s on a knee-jerking hair trigger and yelling.

Clowns and taxes

While doing taxes, (of course at the last minute) I always end up meandering over things I’ve done over the last year. This one was kind of cool. At the height of that idiotic media-invented “clown hysteria” last October, the good folks at Good Morning Washington reached out to the experts of Washington DC’s Clown Cabaret to get a more educated perspective. Check it out. I’m the blond. The one wearing pants. 🙂

http://wjla.com/features/good-morning-washington/clown-cabaret-joins-gmw

As GMW mentions, you may find more information about Clown Cabaret at our website.
www.clowncabaret.com

43-45 More Universes; and God Fooling Around

Paintings 43-45 of 365: So, I got to a point with this project where I had an idea for a piece but there are things I didn’t know how to do in watercolors to make it happen, hence the Universe painting (#43) today, and in the last two posts, (here and here). Today’s post contains a few paintings with elements of either a technique, or playing with concepts of style and spirit of the upcoming God piece. I believe these experiments have their own charm though.

I always enjoy seeing the finished piece vs. the rough sketches, to see the artist’s mind taking every detail available to the lump of matter in their skull, crunching it down to the comparative few strokes of the final work. These are simultaneously rough sketches and finished works. I’ll explain that conundrum to anyone who can explain the Trinity to me without using tautology.

But art really is a tip-of-the-iceberg thing. Whenever you see artwork, literature, performing arts, etc., the final product represents many, many discarded ideas, blood, sweat, tears, etc. Even if it isn’t rough sketches, there’s still much iceberg beneath the water. A quote attributed to Pablo Picasso suggests, “It took me 30 years to learn how to do that in 30 seconds.”

Similarly, it takes 12 pounds of grain, 35 pounds of topsoil, and 2400 gallons of water (19,200 pounds) to produce one pound of beef. Yikes! Glad I eat plants– smaller footprint and they fart less.

In #44 here is God, in His eternal glory, farting around with some planets. All-powerful beings have got to have fun sometimes, when they’re not flooding or smiting people. The “upcoming painting” is a take on God that I found amusing, and will likely end up hanging in my office, though I may make another one to sell.

#45  is also thematically aimed at the upcoming painting. This reflects the sensibility of my book of illustrations, “Snapshots of God,” which I might sell online at some point. I currently only sell them at shows because I hate stuffing one envelope at a time. Give me 100 envelopes to stuff, and I’m your guy.

If you really want one, drop me a line and I’ll hook you up.

Universe 3: More Universe stuff. I like this one more than the others. Planning for another more involved painting.

 

Since I am painting the Universe, I figured I’d show the dude behind it all, not exactly playing dice.

Art Works #40-42 of 365: A request, and being imperfect

Day 40 – Lon Chaney as a Bullfrog on a Watermelon

I don’t normally do requests… unless I’m asked.
–Victor Borge

I occasionally find myself struggling for something to draw/paint. I find no shame in the occasional block. My daily practice has trained my brain to just find something and do it without asking my “editing brain” if it’s a good idea. Or my “choosing brain.” I find it hard to make choices.

So on this day, I asked Facebook At Large to suggest a subject. “Lon Chaney.” The next suggestion, “A Watermelon.” And third, “A bullfrog.” All three are things I could get better at rendering, so I went on a crash course.

I am still trying to figure out this thing called watercolor, and will be for a while. I do enjoy some of the subtleties that are guided by the artist’s hand but some of is left to entropy. Guided entropy, I guess.

The second one, #41, is just a study, an admission that I am not very knowledgeable at that extremely important aspect of illustration: Perspective. The first step it to admit you havea  problem :0).

And #42 is the second in a series. I wanted to create a painting that requires a little warm-up. Part of that is learning how to get certain effects. I’m not entirely happy with the results here, but it’s like going to the gym. You don’t always get results on the first visit. But I know I can.

And you can, too. What are you putting off improving because the first time you tried, you got discouraged from your lack of professional skill on your first try?

By request. Well, by three people's request.
By request. Well, by three people’s request.
Using my daily practice to improve on certain things
Using my daily practice to improve on certain things.
Playing around with colors to prepare for a painting I want to do later.
Playing around with colors to prepare for a painting I want to do later.

 

 

37, 38, and 39/365 Goat, Ding-Dong, Universe: Catching up with God

I’m behind on my blogging by nearly two months, so I’m strategizing a solution to catch up. I can put it off longer, decide not to continue, or just f**ing do it.

On the plus side, I have been sticking to my guns, doing my #ALittleArtEveryDay #365Project, every day since July 19, 2016, but I have had roadblocks to getting the blogging done about it. So I’m endeavoring to double and triple up on the images per blog post, to see if I can tie a block of them together with a unifying concept. This group is from August 26-26, which was just a week before bringing my “God: The One Man Show” to the New York Clown Theatre Festival, so my mind was running wild in that vein.

Since my original idea with this 365 project was to “do a little art every day, to see what develops,” I do from time to time try to illustrate something I feel I’m not very experienced at. I’ve shied away from drawing things, or learned to “fudge” things to make them look recognizable, since photorealism is so bothersome. Nobody can tell you that you drew a stick figure goat wrong.

In any case, one of the prominent items on God’s “to do” list in the show is to create goats (and gravel). I have never sat down and said, “I’m going to learn animal anatomy.” Convergence of ideas, so here. Here’s a goat. Like the God in my show, I have created … GOAT! (scroll down for more bloggishness)

Day 37 Goat and Gravel. Fans of God: The One-Man Show, (Nov. 10-13, 2016 in Baltimore) might be amused by the reference.
Day 37 Goat and Gravel. Fans of God: The One-Man Show, (Nov. 10-13, 2016 in Baltimore) might be amused by the reference.

 

38 Ding Dong

I have always kind of wondered about the relationship of God and Lucifer. I mean, they once were friends. They had a spat. God never forgave him. I’m sure that’d be kind of tough for both of them, evidenced by the 6,000 year silent feud, only broken once by a wager over poor Job.

If I were Lucifer, I’d probably occasionally do something passive-aggressive as is illustrated below. It was fun making the Pearly Gates.

Going along with the "God" theme, though "Satan" or "the devil" never appear in the show.

Going along with the “God” theme, though “Satan” or “the devil” never appear in the show.

39. The Universe (1)

What says, “God” more than amorphous, undulating nebulae, billions of light years away? Really, I was just playing with watercolors. I find them to be aggravating and a hell of a lot of fun. I did intend to paint the Universe on a 5″x9″ piece of watercolor paper, but personally, I’m not entirely pleased with this first attempt. Many people have offered positive feedback. It’s somewhat frustrating as an artist to find people resonating with things I really don’t like. Not that I hate this one; I just don’t love it like some people seem to. I have learned to just smile and say, “I’m glad you find enjoyment from my art.” It’s a tough lesson to learn.

More calibrating my brain for my New York run as God. I do feel that playing with the visual concepts does help me better embody the character.

More calibrating my brain for my New York run as God. I do feel that playing with the visual concepts does help me better embody the character.