Thursday, September 03, 2009


The American Painter Emma Dial by Samantha Peale
Emma Dial is a virtuoso painter who executes the works of Michael Freiburg, a preeminent figure in the New York art world. She has a sensuous and exacting hand, hips like a matador, and long neglected ambitions of her own. She spends her days completing a series of pictures for Freiburg's spring exhibition and her nights drinking and dining with friends and luminaries. Into this landscape walks Philip Cleary, Emma's longtime painting hero and a colleague and rival of her boss. Philip Cleary represents the ideal artistic existence, a respected painter, fearless and undeterred by fashion. He is unmatched by anyone from Emma's generation. Except, just possibly, Emma herself. Emma Dial must choose between the security of being a studio assistant to a renowned painter and the unknown future as an artist in her own right.
This is an interesting read for an artist. Although fiction, I can't help but think that Peale has inserted some truth from her experiences as an assistant for artist Jeff Koons. The whole idea of a painter having an assistant do all the painting is crazy to me. If you're a painter, you should love to paint. It should be as much about the process as it is the finished work...perhaps even moreso. (depends on your point of view I suppose) I have nothing against assistants. I believe an artist can make good use of an assistant to accomplish tasks which keep them from the real work of artmaking. But to have the assistant do all the way. I could rant for days about this but I'll cut it off here.
As for the story, I enjoyed all the art world stuff. The relationship stuff made me sad because it all seemed so shallow and "what can you do for me" oriented. I know that's how the world operates in most cases but it makes me sad nonetheless. Even though Emma put herself in the positon she was in, I found myself pulling for her to get away and do her own thing. Does she? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out.

The Book of Lists: Horror compiled by Amy Wallace, Del Howison & Scott Bradley

I picked this up on a whim. Since Halloween is coming up I thought I could find some new books, movies, etc. to watch for the season. I found a few. The book ended up being too skewed toward hard horror...the really gory "torture porn" stuff that I don't like. But, like I said, I found a few ideas amongst the gore.

The Devil's Storybook by Natalie Babbitt
I found this book on a list of greatest children's books and I thought it sounded intriguing. It's basically a book of short stories, quite fable or fairy tale-esque, about the Devil. In these stories, he's an annoying trickster, visiting pranks on unsuspecting humans but having the tables turned on him every once in a while. It was an interesting distraction and a quick read.

The Mice Templar: The Prophecy by Bryan J. L. Glass and Michael Avon Oeming

This popular graphic novel has wonderful, Mignola-esque artwork but I found the story very wordy and boring. Very Arthurian except for it being set in a world of talking mice.

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