by Dick Millott
Editors note - We here at Explore HQ love a laugh - and whether you agree with everything Dickie says or not, you have to love the guy’s turn of phrase :) Warning - extreme political views below.
Now I know what you are thinking. Why should we be even remotely interested in your wretched studio, when we are about to be involved in what can only be considered as an experiment involving the free world and a man with dyed hair, a spray tan and an appetite for younger Eastern European women. And firing people. The ultimate act of control. Not to mention a man who can only manipulate a faucet if it is 24 carat gold.
If you think that Donald Trump will make a massive contribution to the free world, over and above ticking 'president' off his gilded bucket list, then I hope for all of the Trump supporters out there and our sakes, that you are right. But several decades on this planet have taught me a couple of things as well. And any man who must tweet before he goes to bed every night, as indeed he does, is a man relentlessly screaming, 'Look at me!' in the hope that the world will love him with the same intensity that he does. Plus he knocked Meryl Streep - which cannot be a smart first move for any President, as everyone on the planet thinks she is the best actress in the universe. Me included.
If Trump does manage to totally unsettle the world once he is behind the oak desk in the oval office - it directly affects artists. Even struggling ones. Currencies are affected with just one badly couched, off the cuff comment. And let's face it - Trump loves an off the cuff comment. Stock markets may dive. Trade may gets the jitters. And people will stop spending money on non essential items. Like paintings. Imagine being a Mexican painter while this wall is going up. I mean, if Trump does manage to turn his continent back 50 years to the cold-war era with a monolithic dividing monstrosity - then this is gonna hurt!
Ever resourceful - there may well be a way to boost your finances if and when Trump gets to drive the 'Resolute' Desk. Paint a painting of him! Apparently he loves buying paintings of him. Even when he was beseeching people to fork over more 'Benjamin Franklin's' for his election campaign, he blew a decent chunk of it on a portrait of himself to go with all the others.
I'll even give you portrait jockeys a further tip. Trump likes emerging from battles as a winner. His nostrils fairly flair with the scent of victory. Especially 'yuge victories'! So an impressionistic Turner-esque background portraying the smoking aftermath of what looks like a Napoleonic war would be highly desirable with Trump - his jaw jutting with a winner's dominance and a gold nametag of 'Supreme Commander' on his Presidential chest should be almost too much for him to resist. He will have an office and Presidential library to kit out soon - so portraits with a theme of the winning-est man in the universe will no doubt turn his head. And he will fork out big Oxford scholars to own them too!
But with most things Trump comes a word of warning. As one L.A. artist found out. She painted a gold framed Trump - a perfectly presentable likeness - his hair perfect to the strand, his mouth even framing the word he so much admires- 'YUGE!' - except he was, not to put too fine a point on it - as 'nekkid' as a Jaybird. Sadly Ms Gore was indeed a little too fine with her point and this was the cause of much outrage from the Trump camp because as we see in the reportage - Trump suffers from no embarrassment when it comes to the size of anything about him. The Trump legal teams sprang into action and are now threatening to sue her for her economy of paint in the reproductive department.
So if you are going to go down the bold and dare I say, confronting track, of painting the Donald in the altogether, make sure you use a number 24 brush or above. I can't be more delicate about it than that. I'm sorry. You don't want the President of the United States suing you! And he loves to sue people. His 3,500 lawsuits make him the most litigious President in history. It's better than negotiation apparently. You have been warned. I know some of you out there will love the guy so I really hope he delivers everything he says he will. For everyone's sake. No sane person on this earth wants anything bad to happen to America - we are all brothers and sisters after all.
But back to this studio I promised you I was building for myself due to the slow progression of art materials and canvases covering every flat surface in the living parts of the home. Boy did I get it all wrong! For a start I had three weeks at Christmas slotted to do it. The first week I had to think about the strategy and garner the materials including raiding my own architectural salvage stockpile. The second week I was interstate, and the final week - or D Day as I know it, was a succession of six days straight over the ton. 105 degrees in the shade every day! I went out looking like a foreman every morning and came back ten minutes later sweating like a cart horse with a face that looked like a Peach Melba. It's hard to build stuff under these conditions. Several times I lost the will to live. I repeatedly pondered on the relative ease of digging a grave over this building lark. The birds were literally falling out of the sky.
You try measuring a slot where a weatherboard goes, accurately, bent over like Fontaine doing one of her dying swan thingummies, with a pocket full of nails threatening your vital organs, with sweat pouring into your eyes and your glasses hitting the deck for the hundredth time that hour. And your pants won't stay up because of the weight you have lost since nine o'clock that morning and your belt has run out of holes. I'm serious! On reflection I'd rather have all my teeth pulled without an anaesthetic.
The chain of events that brought this studio necessity to a head are indistinct to me now, but I'm pretty sure it was the popcorn incident. The Minister for Internal Affairs came home one Friday night after a week in the field and being a female person, she momentarily glossed over my efforts to please - the polished floors, the gleaming benches, the empty rubbish bins, the vacuumed bathrooms and the polished furniture - and her laser like blue eyes settled on what most men would refer to as a minor and completely trivial oversight, poking out from under a settee.
She'd hardly dropped her bags and the couches were wrenched away from the walls and there in all of its horror was a collection of popcorn flotsam from a thoroughly enjoyable night on the couch in front of the Telly, which had alerted her internal radar with the honing accuracy of a Baltic Sea border control facility. I'm serious - the woman has a gift. She can sniff out something that shouldn't be there, blindfolded, from about - oooh - 200 feet. It's one of life's little mysteries. This lady is part woman and part Jack Russell!
But being a very supportive soul, I was banned from eating popcorn for the rest of my natural life and she set about finding a slot for a studio - which was a concept I had already given up on in this particular house because I couldn't work out where. Or how.
One thing we do have, are a number of verandas - designed to sit on and ponder life's unpredictability. We even have one we don't use, and it was this more than generous site that was earmarked as the future location of my artistic endeavours. A space where the French doors can be closed to the world of a house proud woman and the space of a frequently messy man. A bit like Donald's wall, I sit on the western side of Check Point Charlie luxuriating in my own indulgent piece of real estate, now immune from and unaffected by the laws on the other side of the domestic frontier. I'm sure bi-annual white gloved inspections will ensure this never gets totally out of control but I live in the hope of being a free man.
Anyway two weeks of blood, sweat and tears from one most imperfect man has resulted in a very pleasant creative space that hopefully will be the birthplace of stuff I have not yet even dreamed of.