I wrote this paper for my art history class. Enjoy!
I peevishly plodded into the Philadelphia Museum of Art on a brisk Saturday afternoon, hung-over, not necessarily in the mood to be analyzing artwork. I had not been to a museum in ages, so I was not exactly sure what to expect. As I dragged my disheveled and tentative self throughout the building, it became apparent that I was going to have a difficult time finding a work of art that struck me enough to be able to write a three to four page paper on it. Many paintings and sculptures, while expertly crafted to the utmost detail, simply bored me (sorry Manet and Monet). Even the Picasso’s which I found to be pure eye candy, did not stir up enough emotion for me to be able to discuss them in depth.
Feeling nearly defeated and heading towards the exit, I lost my way into a room containing nothing but two solid colors (if they are even considered that); black and white. This hit me, as no other room in the entire museum was like this. After being exposed to a wide range of tones and tints for the previous hour or more, it felt like I had just stepped into a Twilight Zone of some sorts, depraved of all color. The extreme contrast of the room had truly taken me back. Unsurprisingly, these paintings were all constructed by the same artist, Ellsworth Kelly. As I examined each piece, they all seemed to exhume this sense of unity, form, and excessive calculation. Each work appeared to be precisely concocted in order to stretch the colors of black and white to the apex of their potential. Each piece showed this perfectionist character, save one.
“Tennis Court” in my opinion stood out in a room that stood out from the rest of the museum. Though it appears to be something a caveman may have doodled millions of years ago, it evoked a certain je ne sais pas within me. In passing, it looks like the most primitive piece of art in the building, something that I am sure in many minds should not even be construed as artwork. I however felt that “Tennis Court” evolves to become a surprisingly complex painting when you sit down and absorb it for an hour within its surroundings. (Fair warning: you may receive some odd glances from passers-by and museum attendants for being locked on such a “simple” painting for such a long time.)
Kelly is obviously an incredibly deliberate artist. Every other one of his works, though not detailed per say, is formulated very carefully. I can imagine him painstakingly deliberating on where to place each line and how to orient every angle on the canvas in order to get the most out of his two color palette, like some kind of mad scientist mixing chemicals to create a powerful potion. “Tennis Court” appears to be painted at a time when he may have been delusional, drunk, or on drugs; a moment when he lost his sense of extreme order.
The painting is about two feet high by one foot wide, give or take a handful of inches either way. His other paintings in the room are all bigger than this one by a relatively noticeable margin; they are all around at least two to three feet wide and high. This may suggest that “Tennis Court” was not a work Kelly necessarily wanted to be shown off, that it was more of a painting he did to experiment against his natural inclinations and was not sure how it would turn out.
To further accentuate the postulate that “Tennis Court” may not be his favorite creation, it is actually somewhat dirty and uncared for; the edges of this oil on canvas work are soiled and unfinished. It appears that Kelly probably carried this painting around town after eating lunch and his dirty fingertips tarnished the pure white color he used as the background. The texture around the edges also makes it apparent that it was not handled with the greatest of care. There appears to be some chipped paint, possibly from Kelly dropping or scraping the painting, and the grime from his unwashed hands creates somewhat of a sheen or gloss in areas, which is not visible on the meat of the painting. It’s actually a little gross thinking back on it.
Kelly could have simply put a frame around the piece to hide these blemishes, but he chose not to. He left the piece in its most bare form, which I suppose is fitting as the way the subject matter is presented is as innate as it gets. Appropriately, a pieced called “Tennis Court” portrays just that; a tennis court. However, it is not drawn the right way. I am a huge tennis aficionado, so I know exactly what a tennis court looks like, and Kelly did not paint one. I am not exactly sure what he was looking at. It appears that he drew a bird’s eye view of the court, but the way he orients the lines bothers me. I can’t tell if the middle box he drew is supposed to be the two service courts, or if it is supposed to be representative of one service court and the net. The reason that I am not able to tell is because the boxes are not the same size. One is more appropriately sized to be a service box, but the other is more rectangular, which makes me question what is supposed to be. Kelly does not give any hints by employing only two flat colors.
I am also annoyed that the shapes are placed off center. The box creating the border of the court is shifted to the right, which the service box within that box is shifted to the left. This does create a sense of balance as a whole, but the individual parts are not aligned correctly. However, when I squinted my eyes and looked at the painting from a distance, I saw nearly perfect symmetry; everything looks perfectly placed. I was surprised that it comes off as being so uniform when viewing it in this manner. The painting actually exudes the calculated characteristics of Kelly’s other works. Whether or not this is intended be would make an interesting question for debate.
Viewing “Tennis Court” in this fashion also eliminates the shoddy brushwork he employed in the painting. Squinting your eyes makes the white and black paint seem as solid and piercing as they are in his other works. When looking at the piece without a funny face, it is a totally different story. Kelly appears to use one thick brush for the entire work. He paints in what appears to be an uninterested and uncaring manner, using paint squeezed straight from the tube onto his brush. You can visibly see that he starts by drawing the outline of the court in black paint, then paints over it with white deciding that he doesn’t like how it looks, but does not even put enough effort to completely hide this “mistake” as he only uses enough white to mask the black a small degree. It looks like he then paints with wide but loose horizontal strokes of white paint to fill in the blank canvas, but does not seem to mind if the paint is of a uniform thickness throughout. He then paints the remaining outline of the tennis court in black with the same distracted brushstrokes. For whatever reason, possibly inebriation, he is not able to connect all the lines properly and leaves stay marks. Kelly again somewhat conceals these blunders with scant amounts of white paint.
If this piece was not entitled “Tennis Court,” I am not entirely certain that I would have recognized that as the subject matter. Kelly could have easily named it “Box Enclosed in Another Box” and I would have totally bought that. The painting uses only two colors and a total of eleven lines, but is able to evoke a myriad of questions and interpretations. If you look closely, Kelly does give us a hint that it is indeed a tennis court he is attempting to portray. Along the top edge of the canvas, among the smudges, you will see a tiny splotch of pale green paint. This could be construed as a stray marking, but seeing how calculated Kelly’s other works are, I have no doubt that it is part of the design. This almost microscopic green dot brings the piece together, showing that yes, this is a tennis court, no matter how rudimentary the resemblance. This technique is akin to what David does with “Death of Marat.”
I would love to know more about the background of “Tennis Court,” but I am not even able to find a picture of it online. The tag at the museum said it was painted in Paris, but other than that I know nothing about it. I would like to know exactly in what context Kelly painted it and what he was trying to achieve. None of his other paintings or works are at all similar to it in technique and outward expression. Only when viewed with squinted eyes does one see the essence of Kelly’s expression within this piece. It is quite unique that Kelly is not able to escape his style, no matter how dissimilar it appears to be from the rest of his works.
Guy landed a job with some top fashion people through AdWords!
Temperate, light rain
Chariots Of Fire
(play the song… trust me, it will create atmosphere)
Tang has no place in my cupboard.
I have eluded the Ramen noodle diet.
And I did not resort to 1 ply toilet paper.
I have successfully pulled myself from the brink of financial ruin and once again above the poverty line.
(I jest, but seriously, I have more than $4 in my wallet now… more like $20.)
Sorry for the hiatus from the “I’m Broke” saga, but with finals, graduation, and a sheer lack a focus, I failed to produce any content for this website. To make up for 2 weeks of stagnant space, this post will be extra good.
In short, I was able to go from $30 to somewhere around $850 in 2 weeks without a job and only “working” part time hours.
There are two ways I consider to go about making or creating money:
1. Indirectly Making Money
2. Directly Making Money
Let me explain the difference between the two…
I regard indirect methods of making money to be tasks that don’t yield money at the current time, but can potentially produce money in the future.
For example, going to school. You learn skills with the thought that those competencies will help you earn money in the future. Putting those skills to use is what I would call directly making money; that is to use what you know in a job type setting.
I am very oriented towards indirectly making money. I like to learn new things, hone my skills, spend time perfecting projects.
None of that stuff puts money into your wallet.
What I realized is that I needed to spend more time of my day applying some of my abilities to earn money.
In other words, I needed to make an active effort to chase after money. Simple as that.
Either you (1) use your talents to provide a service or (2) sell a product. Those are the main two options you have.
While I did get a part time job where I will be of service, I haven’t actually started receiving any money from that yet or really delved into the work I will be doing.
Instead, I sold stuff.
Over the past couple months, I’ve realized truly how much stuff I have. It’s really that… just “stuff.”
I’ve got way too many material possessions that I rarely use. I’ve worn 1 pair of jeans the past year. I only have maybe a half dozen video games that I play on rare occasion. I’ve stopped watching television while at my apartment.
80% of the things in my possession haven’t been touched in a blue moon. Upon coming to terms with this reality, I decided to eschew these materials which clutter my life.
It can be difficult to do this, as when you own something for a long time you become psychologically attached to it; it becomes part of your self. Getting rid of something like an old loved stuffed animal could be akin to losing an appendage for some people.
I’ve been pretty much able to climb over that psychological barrier. Some things I won’t be able to get rid of the first time I contemplate whether I really need it or not, but on second or third thought I will come to terms.
Here’s some of the things I’ve said sayonara to the past dozen days…
- Pokemon Cards
- Video Games
I actually haven’t even sold any of my CDs or DVDs yet, but they are sitting in my closet at home waiting to go. I’m probably only about half way done going through my things too, I’m sure I’ll realize there are more items I have that I don’t need. I’ll be busy for at least another week or two cleaning shop.
It actually feels great for me to get rid of my old things… it’s a freeing feeling.
I don’t think we realize how controlled by our material possessions that we really can be. It makes me want to live a lot more minimalistic lifestyle.
The things you own do not make you happy.
What makes you happy are the things you do and the people you interact with.
Those things become clearer when you own less substance. The mind has less white noise to cancel out, in essence, and can concentrate more efficiently.
And of course when undergoing this process of minimalizing, if you ever realize you tossed something you cannot live without… just buy a new one.
P.S. Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts on living a minimalistic lifestyle… I’d love to hear some people’s takes on this.
Humid, Philadelphia, PA
Flyers just went down 3-0 to the Bruins
I have been kindly reminded by a few of my friends that there is another option besides pawning all my stuff away… I could get a job! (Why didn’t I think of that?)
I’m not going to delve into my thoughts about jobs right now, but let’s just say that getting a paying job immediately isn’t feasible at the moment. I’ve still got over a week to go before I am prodded across the plank into the shark tank that is the real world.
Right now the goal is to see how much money I can make with my own resources before I am forced to get a 9 to 5.
The argument could be made that I should be using all this energy into applying for jobs, but to be honest I don’t know what my plans are going to be. I am not mobile at the moment (this means I have no car for the simpletons out there) and I might consider going to grad school next year, so I wouldn’t be able to commit to anything long term.
Anyway, here’s the progress I made today…
Sold two more books for a total of $146.85 netted from Amazon. However, I had to buy bubble mailers and then ship the books, so it’s coming out to nearly $5 per book for shipping and handling. Subtract $20 from that total.
It had been a while since I’d sold anything on Amazon and what I forgot is that they only pay out every 2 weeks, not immediately. Not cool Amazon, not cool…
Selling books on Amazon is a terrible business idea at the moment by the way… if you are just selling school books it’s ok but as a full time business, forget about it.
Maybe 5 or 10 years ago it would be worth it, but right now it’s not the way to go. Maybe I’ll write a post about Amazon in the future…
Yesterday I spent a good amount of time redoing my sales page for my Pokemon site and lowered the prices of t-shirts to see if that might elicit some sales.
Sold 4 shirts today alone after not selling a single one for almost 2 weeks. Not bad! Shirts sell for about $9 each. I’m only making back what I paid for the shirts at this point, but as long as I don’t lose money then I’m golden.
A friend is getting back into the TCG and is in need of cards, so he sent me a list of what he was looking for and I actually had a good amount of stuff he needed.
Mailed out the cards and am letting him decide what a fair price is. I don’t really know what they’re worth anymore, but I’ll get something for them. :)
Also finally got loose ends tied up in a deal where me, Ian, and Josh were trying to sell upwards of 10,000 commons and uncommons for 3 cents each. Should finally be getting those cards sold this weekend and we’ll split the money, so that’s going to be at least $100 for me… most of the cards are mine anyway, but I don’t want to take more than an even slice of the pie if they are obliged to it.
Sold a couple polos I don’t wear anymore to Plato’s Closet for a total of $5.60.
Had to listen to Justin Beiber while I waited in the store. Not sure if it was worth it.
Tried to get in contact with my friend “Video Game Mike” to see if he wanted to buy any of the Sega Saturn or Genesis games. He didn’t pick up so I left a message.
Either way I’ve got two games which I will throw up on eBay tomorrow and should sell for about $75 each.
I also saved some money today by eating lunch and dinner at home… but I did mow the lawn so I’ll count that as work. I love mowing the lawn though, it’s almost therapeutic.
But at this point I still don’t really have any money in hand. Any money I received today was negated by shipping costs and costs of feeding myself (had to buy groceries).
In two weeks I’ll be getting paid out a decent amount by Amazon, in 5 days or so my eBay auctions will end, and in 3 weeks I get paid out by Google. I’ll probably also have at least a part time job by then.
In any case, I’m still to focus my daily efforts on creating money… well after I finish my last final on Friday. Then I’m good to go.
If you have any get rich quick schemes for me, just drop a comment. I’m all ears.
3:47 PM Tuesday afternoon
79 degrees and humid
“The Ocean” (Led Zeppelin) is playing on WMGK
I am one final and one walk of the plank away from being a college graduate. I don’t have any work lined up aside potential part time… and I have a total of $25.50 in my bank account and $4 in my wallet. I also am out of food except for some carrots, a little bit of peanut butter, and some soy milk.
Bills and groceries don’t pay themselves, so I thought this might be a good opportunity to document how I pull myself from nothing to something. I’ve got a few skills, so as seeing I have almost no schoolwork to worry about at this point, it’s the perfect time to put all my abilities into action and stabilize my financial situation.
First thing I’ve been planning to do is sell off all my unneeded possessions. I am going to have a garage sale in a couple weeks to pawn off everything I don’t use or need… DVDs, CDs, clothes, old toys, etc… it feels great to get rid of clutter and simplify my surroundings.
Problem is the yard sale won’t be happening for over 2 weeks, so…
I spent a few hours this afternoon putting my valuable school books up on Amazon and the non-valuable books (worth less than $10 to $15 on Amazon) will be sold to the school bookstore right after I finish typing this post.
My strategy with Amazon listings is to list my books equal to the lowest price in almost all cases, no matter the condition. You don’t want to go lower than the lowest price because people have software set up that will automatically change their prices to be a penny less than yours. If multiple people have this software set up, it screws everyone over as the prices will continually deflate.
In the listing I made sure to highlight that the books are in great condition if they are needed for a class. Even if they are worn, all books are good for class use and I’m guessing that students are going to be the ones buying the books. I was thinking of putting some disclaimer like “help out a poor fellow college student!”… actually maybe I’ll go back and edit that in. People are more likely to buy from someone they identify with.
But anyway… that’s my strategy for selling the books the quickest. I don’t have shipping supplies right now, but I’ll just buy envelopes when the books sell. No use in buying supplies in advance.
Next up will be to get a listing typed on to sell my Sega Saturn on eBay or Craigslist, then to go through my Sega Genesis games and maybe sell some of them as well.
I also have Pokemon t-shirts from my website which haven’t been selling… guess it’s time to do a price cut and see if I can at least make back what I paid for them.
Wish me luck and stay cool,
Edit 6:28 PM: Sold some books to the bookstore and 1 of my books sold on Amazon already. $53.35 gain but I need to ship the book, so that will probably cost me $5 if I’m thrifty. Not a bad turnaround in only 2.5 hours.
Edit 7:00 PM: Sold another $41.60 book on Amazon…what’s going on??? Am I doing something right for once? It must be the “Help a fellow poor college student!” line…
We had this screen saver on our old HP computer in the late 90’s and I rediscovered it sometime last year. Nothing can beat Johnny Castaway, it’s by far the best screen saver ever produced.
Download it from that site and be prepared to waste hours watching Johnny do various tasks from eating coconuts to going for a jog.
Incredible the way Steve Jobs is able to woo the audience… 25 years later you can still feel the rush from this presentation.