Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's a nice day for a white...xmas tree

Today has become the last day of November, 2006. Again, another week has slipped by my keyboard without a posting. Well, in the spirit of staying in the "now", I'm simply going to focus on the entry that I am writing this very second - the words that you are reading, right now. And of course, like every other event in your life, it is happening now simply because it is impossible for it to happen at any other time. You will never be able to read this entry "later" or "then", since it will always be now when you reach that spot. Obviously, I'm still enthralled with the book that I am now re-reading, "The Power Of Now".

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish a Happy Birthday to rocker Billy Idol. He was born on this day in 1955. From all accounts, he is still an amazing performer. If you search for his image online you will also notice that has kept all of his bad boy sexiness intact, in fact, I think his body actually looks better now than it did 25 years ago.

One of the other things that took up some time over the last couple of days was the decorating of the house for the holidays. In particular, the tree, which fell apart as I was bringing it up from the basement. It's artificial and white, ( we purchased it last year ) but I love the snowy and crisp look that it has. It makes me think of trees from the North Pole or Narnia. This year, I went for white, non-blinking lights and choose only orb ornaments with a high gloss finish to them in shades of red, silver, gold and dark green. So, here tis...

I've had the old tarnished silver star on top for several years now. I found it in the Pottery Barn in Georgetown in the 1990's and have used it every holiday since. I suppose it's one of those things that have become ritualistically tradition, at least until it changes, in the "now", which of course, is the only time that it could change. Tee Hee.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

T-Day Memory

In the house that I grew up in, the night before Thanksgiving was the night that my mother would bake pies for the next day’s feast. Each year there were usually other family members that would either join us for dinner or would come by afterwards for dessert, coffee and or after dinner cocktails. So, it seemed to me that there were enough pies made to stock a pastry shop. She would usually bake about 3 pumpkin pies, 2 apple and one mincemeat. The mincemeat pie was definitely not one that either my siblings or myself were interested in.

One Thanksgiving morning when we were still very young, my mother made a special deal with us, if we would stay out of the kitchen the entire day, we could each have a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream as a special Thanksgiving Day breakfast treat – but – it would be the only day of the year when we could have pie for breakfast, we could only have one piece each and we had to stay out if the kitchen all day.

Her idea worked like magic. The thought of having pumpkin pie for breakfast with whipped cream while watching the never-ending Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was too much to deny. We had the pie, watched the parade and stayed out of the kitchen. We ended up repeating the same Thanksgiving Day ritual for years. In fact, even though those days are light years away now, guess what I’m having for breakfast this morning? Happy Thanksgiving all!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving back...

I was forwarded this email yesterday from the curator of the gallery that shows my work in Richmond and Charlotte. In the spirit of the holiday, I want to not only express thankfulness for my ability, but to “give” back by offering my thoughts to aspiring artists.

“Mr. Chasen,
I would like to thank you once again for your help and patience this weekend. The girls were absolutely spellbound by the outstanding collection you feature at the gallery.

The following are some of the questions that the girls had for Michael Sprouse:
1) Please provide any biographical information you see fit (birth date and location, education, inspirations, etc.)
2) Are your paintings based on real people?
3) Why do you choose to paint the faces of only women?
4) How long have you been an artist?
5) How many different works have you composed?
6) How long on average does it take you to complete a painting?
Any additional information you would like to provide would be appreciated.

I have an additional request, as well. Do you have digital images of Aspirant and Recital that you might be able to pass on via email? I took decent black and whites of them this weekend, but thought you might have something better.

Thank you kindly for all of your help. Please pass on our collective appreciation of Mr. Sprouse's work to him.
Jason Strong”

So, I figured that for today’s post I would answer these questions and see where it goes. I have been the subject of many individual student’s art projects, but this is my first time that I have been the subject for an entire class. It’s an honor for me to think that I or my work somehow serve as an inspiration to young artists.

Here goes:

1) Please provide any biographical information you see fit (birth date and location, education, inspirations, etc.)

I was born in Somerset, Massachusetts in May of 1965 though my family moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky in 1969. I was raised in Bowling Green and lived there until 1989 when I began traveling to different parts of the south eventually ending up in Washington, DC in 1990. Though I did attend Western Kentucky University at different times in the early 1980’s, I never officially finished. I mention this only because somehow along the way, different Press publications list me as having graduated from WKU with an BFA. That is not the case, I actually have never had a painting class in my life, though I did take several drawing classes, which I highly recommend for any beginning artist. I have several artistic inspirations, not only through visual art of course, but also film, music and photography. Some of the fine artists that have inspired me are Amedeo Modigliani, Chuck Close, Edward Hopper, Kate Kollwitz, Jackson Pollock, John Singer Sargent, though there are always more that I could add to this list. I am totally captivated by the lives and works of the late photographers Robert Capa and Diane Arbus as well as the films of Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein, Fritz Lang, and Federico Fellini. When I paint I listen to a wide variety of music, though a large percentage of that music is early American and French Jazz and Jazz vocals. The one important fact is that I can’t paint without music in the background. It is without a doubt an integral part of my creative process.

2) Are your paintings based on real people?

Though I have painted real people by the way of commissions, by far the majority of my works are based on vintage photographs that I find in flea markets and yard sales, or that are just given to me by those who know that I appreciate them. I go through hundreds of photos until I find the one that seems to call out to me. I then create an artistic portrait of that person. It’s a very emotional and spiritual process and though I have never met these subjects and they have been physically dead for many years, some kind of connection does form between my work, my process and the “energy” of the subject. I still find the process fascinating. Imagine if you could go back in time to the moment when a photograph of one of my subjects was taken and then say to them, “you know, one hundred years from now, a painting of your face from this photograph will be hanging in an art collection somewhere”. There is a cycle that forms, though I’m still trying to work it out in my own mind. Exercises like this and answering questions like yours really help me to do that.

3) Why do you choose to paint the faces of only women?

Though the majority of my works are of women, I have painted several portraits of men as well. For some reason, they don’t seem as popular as the images of women. There seem to be definite societal ideas at work in this. I think that society has been taught historically over the years that women are more artistically approachable as subjects in art then men. We are taught that they are have an easier ability to express and sense emotion. I believe that the core essence of art is about expressing emotion in one way or the other. There have been times when I have painted portraits of men, and because they were such close-ups of the face, people have assumed that they were women. You may also find it interpreting that I began my career as an abstract painter and I still am a big fan of well done abstracted work. In fact, I my last two works were abstracts.

4) How long have you been an artist?

I feel that I was born to be an artist. I remember when I was in 2nd grade, the agor old question was brought before us by the teacher of “what did we want to be” when we grew up. Amongst all the answers of fireman, nurse and doctor, came my response of “I want to be an artist”. This caused the whole class to laugh and I remember very clearly the teacher telling me that I couldn’t be an artist because the chance of being successful were very, very slim. Of course, that was a long time ago. I began creating work professionally in my late teens, but I was working many different jobs at that time to financially support myself outside of my artwork. Now, however, I have been working full time as a professional artist for several years.

5) How many different works have you composed?

I have created so many different works of art over the years that I literally don’t know the answer to that question. I imagine hundreds though I have every intention of creating much more.

6) How long on average does it take you to complete a painting?

I’m asked this question often and there is no solid answer. It depends on the work and my mindset at the time, my level of inspiration. Some works take only a few days and others a few weeks.

Any additional information you would like to provide would be appreciated.

There is so much advice that I could give young artists that I have learned over the years that I don’t know where to begin. Perhaps I will write a book, because I have really had a wild ride, though I am grateful for every second of it. However, one key piece of advice that I would suggest is to strive to do something creative every single day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a doodle on a notebook, a painting, or rearranging items on a shelf. If your try to do something that requires you to think creatively each and every day, you will begin to see that there is beauty and inspiration all around you, no matter where you are or what type of situation you may find yourself in. If you can do that, you will begin to think like an artist and a whole new world will open up for you.

Thanks for your interest in my work and for your engaging questions. Best of luck to you all,

Michael Sprouse

P.S., you can learn more about my work on my website at

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In Memoriam...

A brilliant director, artist, and visionary.

In Memoriam...
Robert Altman
February 20, 1925 – November 20, 2006

The Power of Now

First, I want to begin by stating that this particular post today is in honor of my dear friend Kathryn who has a lovely way of emailing me subtle hints about needing to update my blog when I fall behind. Kathryn has been a part of my life for over 20 years - a fact that I pleases me very much. Now, last evening before I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer, I was preparing a long and wordy explanation as to why I have been absent these last several days. This morning, however, I decided against it. I'll incorporate the KISS (keep it short and simple): SInce my last posting I have been mostly on the road between NJ, Delaware, and Richmond transporting new works into the Chasen Gallery. When on the road, I rely on my Mac Powerbook. However, this time I realized that one of my kitties had decided to chew into the power cord leaving me with a quickly draining battery. Since the replacement cord was shipped to my home in NJ, I didn't have access to a computer until last Sunday afternoon.

There is much that I am leaving out, very much, from my crazy last week.
One thing that I did manage to do (one of the joys of stepping away from the computer for a few days) was to read a book that I found fascinating. In fact, I found it so fascinating, that I immediately began to reread the book after I finished it just so that I could absorb it's message more clearly. The book is titled "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle.

I'm not going to spend too much time here describing the book because there is so much about it available online. I will say though, that it has really opened my eyes to a new way of thinking and clarified many ideas and thoughts that I have had before reading the book.
The morning sun is now streaming through the window and it is lovely. It's also streaming through the incredibly beautiful stained glass windows that Kathryn made for me last year. I'm going to sit quietly now and enjoy. Back later.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Scatter Perm

Needless to say, I am wonderfully happy with the results of the election. With that said, here's something totally different. I ran across it on You Tube. It's wonderfuly retro. See if you can recognize a young Erin Grey, Cheryl Tiegs and Ali McGraw.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


If you're reading this and you are a registered voter in the United States, you should either have already voted today or you are on your way. It is your civic duty! NOW GO VOTE, and remember, your Democratic party members love you!

Monday, November 06, 2006


It's early and I'm still waking up slowly through mouthfulls of hot and robust coffee. Tomorrow is election day for those of you who may be reading this seconds after waking from a coma or a Rip Van Winkle like sleep. Though I have made it no secret that I am a Progressive Democrat, there's something that I want to stress the importance of here, and that is the need to get out and vote!

Frankly, regardless of what party you may hitch your wagon to, if you're not registered to vote or have no intention of voting, then please, keep your f**king mouth shut the next time you feel the need to discuss politics with me. I've had it with these idiots who attempt to have a political discussion with me and then reveal that they aren't even registered to vote. It's shameful and there really are very few excuses for not voting.
So with that said, has posted some useful information about how to make sure that your vote counts tomorrow. You can read about them here. I placed the link on page 3 of the article which cuts to the points, though the whole article is worthwhile.
And, please, in case you don't know who to vote for, just vote all Democratic and you'll be fine - and so much more happier too!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Post Halloween Rapture

Well, turn your back for a minute and an entire week has gone by. I'll begin by stating that I had a wonderful Halloween week. I attended two very fun parties and my undead costume was very popular. On the actual night of Halloween, I was the one to give out candy at the home of our friend's Larry and Tom. The second party was held there and of course the place was decked out. Though it wasn't my intention, I made 3 little kids scream and cry when they came to the door. But, isn't that what Halloween is for?


Last night, George and I happened to catch a very poignant film on television. It was titled "Rapture". Directed by British-born John Guillermin, the film stars Melvyn Douglas, a young and striking Dean Stockwell, Gunnel Lindblom, and most importantly an absolutley enchanting and amazingly talented actress named Patricia Gozzi.

It happened to be showing on one of the INHD channels offered on comcast. So, if you have high-definition television and digital cable, you may be able to catch a rebroadcast as they seem to show films more than once. You may also be able to locate it in your local video store or library. I don't think that I can describe the film as well as this page that I found online.
Though I did find some more info here in an article in Time magazine from 1965.,9171,828378,00.html.
Finding much online about Patricia Gozzi is very difficult. It seems that she dropped out of the film industry all together 5 years after this film was released. What a shame. She had amazing film presence and incredible acting ability.