Hopping Around With Random Thoughts,
Including Journal & Correspondence & Conversation excerpts & some photos, etc...

Joseph Raffael journal entries to appear in forthcoming Nancy Hoffman Gallery catalogue.

From Journal 3, October 2006

Listening to Pergolesi's "La primavera (Spring) - Le rimembranze del vecchio" ("The memories/remembrances of the old man")

As a child, being alone was my favorite way of passing each day.
In those beginning years, speaking little if at all, wide-eyed and open-hearted, I began experiencing Life's mysteries, documenting the powerful silence within, while each day, drawing and coloring.
Inner experiences enriching the inner self who would be doing my paintings' navigation for me years later. As a child I was alone drawing. To this day, I continue to pass my days alone—painting.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I never feel alone while I am painting. What I am—is solitary.

Joseph Raffael Cutchogue Joey Raffaele in Cutchogue, New York, 1942

Painting gives life in the visual world to what had never existed before; the invisible takes form as a painting.
Each brushstroke, each layer of color gives birth to never-seen-before realities as a result of this Creative Act.
For most artists, writers and composers, the routine of working in the studio each day is a necessity. How else could the work emerge?


In his book The Soul's Code, James Hillman discusses how the acorn already has the oak tree encompassed in it. I sensed in the seeds of my youth how important “place” would be in my own life. I appreciated my father's and maternal grandfather's symbolic input as a traveler’s in search of the realization of the self. They had left Sicily to go to Sydney, Australia, and then turned westward to go to New York. My mother's father left Switzerland for New York.

They planted in me the notion that one must make a long, courageous journey to arrive at one's fulfillment. I was born in Brooklyn, lived in Manhattan, then lived in Marin County, California, before I finally moved to a foreign country—France. Moving across the sea to find “a new life” played a very important, even crucial, part in my life. My father, and his father gave me that gift, as did my mother's father. Actually, it was a treasure, offering me a certain courage to enter new unknown territories. It may sound odd, but I feel this way each time I begin a new painting. Each time I'm confronted by the new white space of a painting, I feel like an immigrant, a foreigner entering an unknown country where new life is possible.

A lifetime’s habituation needs to be renegotiated, redrawn, transformed. Is this why we’re given these Life challenges over and over So we can redraft the maps?
I need to let it go, and, as they say, ‘Let God!’ Let Life unroll its parchment before my eyes for me to see anew, and—as though for the first time—view a fuller plan.


Last evening watched a NYT’s interview/video with John Updike made three months before he died last week at 77 yrs of age.
His honesty charmed me. His smile. His modesty. I want to share it with Lannis. How one can be at the end of the road, even with advanced cancer, and be so cheerful and happy. Now he’s gone.
I am touched and saddened by his leaving. Also inspired and encouraged by his being.

The ptg went well yesterday. The vase.
Will work some more on the vessel today, and then perhaps can get it up on the wall.
I’ll be able to see it more fully, see where it is, and Lann can see it tmrw.

Couple Hrs Later
Finished, for now the vase. Looking good.
Now, I see that there are areas not yet ptd, that need to be, on the upper left of the ptg..
Will work on them now.

Sun, in and out today; it keeps wanting to come through. I wish it well.

At Yale I also discovered Botticelli's drawings for Dante.
Yale also was a solitary time for me. I included Dylan Thomas’s “A Solitary Mister” in my graduate thesis—a large handmade book of calligraphy and leaf collages.
I was one solitary, and lonely mister. It was essential for the composting which would nourish my later “art tree’s” blossoming.

Our Brooklyn neighborhood was basically very middle class. Men went off to work in the morning to return in the evening, only to begin the whole ritual over again in the morning. Our house was on a Flatbush Street lined with very tall old trees. Early Saturday mornings I practiced the reverie of creation by skating alone along the Brooklyn Streets looking up at these trees. In that action I feel I became one somehow with nature, lost in its swirl. On winter nights, from my bedroom window I would see the snow flakes falling in the light of the street lamp or watch the shadows of the leafless trees projected along the darkened wall of my room as they swayed and crackled. The young artist in me absorbed all this visual psychic information.

As I consider how childhood affects the artist, I realize that, in fact, it was after my mother's death, 3 Nov 47, when I was a freshman in high school, that I entered into a kind of deep seclusion and interiority, and began consciously making, for the first time, “paintings” as such. The first painting was one I did in that month of November, a few weeks after my mother's passing. It was a gouache of an autumn forest. I recall I did it on a Friday evening in my room, which earlier had been the room in which my mother died. So a kind of ritual took place, a ceremony of sorts, during that grief period in which I became sure that I was to live my life as an artist.

Gertrude Stein/Alice B. Toklas, were two Americans who moved to France and stayed there for the rest of their lives.
When I was at Yale their life appealed to me. Later, after I had graduated, I wrote a letter to Alice B. Toklas at 27 rue de Fleurus in Paris. She kindly answered me sending a beautiful card with a picturesque map of France on it.

In the same period more or less, while I as a young-beginning-artist on my own in NY, I saw Sean O'Casey's autobiographical play I Knock at the Door and Pictures in the Doorway. The Playbill said he lived in Torquay, England.
So I wrote him a long letter. His piece had spoken of his love for his mother. I wrote him telling him of my appreciation of his work and of his love for his mother. I also spoke of my mother, dead then for about 7 years.
He wrote me back a long kind letter speaking of my “mother and all people's mothers.”

I learned then to always answer those who write to me whom I don't know.

At sixteen it was Tchaikovsky's 6th later to be replaced by Prokofiev's 5th, when I was 17. Listening to those records borrowed from the Bklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza Branch, listening to them on rainy, wind-blowing-trees days, their branches’ shadows choreographing on my bedroom’s walls.
The music, its Russian gravitas, connecting me to an inner, power-filled solidity of joy and love. Music—a bridge, a transformer, a soul-mine for me.

23 January 2009

Chose Prokofiev’s 5th to listen to this rainy late-afternoon. Once more. All these years.
It brings me to the deepest parts of my being.
This music comes from that creative place where all life issues from. It connects me to all art and all artists of all time.

Joan Sherman Scott, my girlfriend in high school, asked my poet chum Stanley Nelson,
who knew about classical music, what to buy for me for my birthday, and he suggested this piece.

So I’ve had this “food” feeding my spirit for almost 60 yrs. The connection of all things.
It’s extraordinary to realize that he had written it only a few yrs before Joan had given it to me.

20 January 2009

I'm having such a fine time ptg this new ptg (Inauguration).
The ptg itself is so messy and blotchy and also soooo beautiful that I am in awe.
I've been saying I want the ptg to pt itself. It knows so much more than me. Et voilà, it is and it does.
Things appear I could never have come up with.
You know how snow falls? It's like that.
Zillions of unrepeatable fallings. It feels like that.
The ptg is not only unrepeatable, it pours itself forth as does a newborn, and I recognize & see that it has a BIG, unique life within it, and ahead of it, just like a baby does.

Couldn’t wish for ptgs other than these at this crucial point in my life.

Joseph Raffael Cooper Union Joe Raffaele standing in front of Cooper Union, l954

As life is happening it might seem to be by chance, but in retrospect it’s clear it’s all had its purpose. For example--three “school” events which altered my life forever.

At 17, I took two all-day exams to see if I would be among the 90 students chosen to attend Cooper Union School of Art on scholarships that coming year.
During the first day I grew discouraged, and during a break I told my high school pal who was also taking the test that I was giving up and going home.
He urged me to stay. I did. Good thing because I passed the exam and I was accepted.

In my final year, there was a Dean of Students, Ray Dowden, who offered me a fellowship to a summer program at Yale-Norfolk Art School in the Connecticut countryside.

The painter Bernard Chaet was teaching at Yale-Norfolk that summer. He was also on the faculty of the Yale School of Fine Art in New Haven. Chaet got me a scholarship to Yale for that fall.

Joseph Raffael - Yale Joe Raffaele painting at Yale Norfolk Summer Art School, 1954

Those three events—the kindness and encouragement of these three people changed the course of my life as an artist and as a person forever.

Tears have come four times for me in looking at paintings in a museum setting. Each time I was surprised.The first time in Florence standing in front of Giotto's Crucifixion. Then, later in London seeing a Piero della Francesca Nativity.
The third time, also in London, seeing a Van Gogh Postman. The energy from the ptg palpably traveling towards my body and entering it.
The fourth time in Paris a couple yrs ago seeing the large Bonnard retrospective.

Painting has been for me the way to explore the exalting and profound mystery of being alive & here on this earth.

My mother was a farmer's daughter from the tip of Long Island. As a family, we lived in Brooklyn. It was WW II and we had a victory garden and flowers in the backyard. The garden meant something very deep to my mother. I helped her with it. More than anything else my own experience of the plant nature realm was influenced and inspired by my mother & that garden amidst its plants and the cherry tree. I, now 6 decades later, paint cherry tree blossoms from Lannis and my garden here in France. The Brooklyn garden is where I first witnessed the patterns of seasons, the dormant times, the flourishing times.

I think nature's alchemy really affected me from those beginning garden times. Alchemy and magic in the sense of the wonder of watching buds come out of the earth. They weren't there yesterday, but here they are today. Seeing blossoms come alive is the same as watching a painting come forth out of the white space of a page or a canvas. The garden is another example of how one begins with nothing but seeds and the brown colored space of the earth, from which, little by little, the garden emerges.

Also another gift my parents gave me were our summers on Long Island Sound in Peconic, N.Y. The house a stone's throw away from the beach, where I could at an early age watch all by myself the water and the sky's reflections on the water's surface. My water paintings grew out of those soul-strengthening moments.

Also the skies and water at Peconic Bay where my mother, sisters and I would go and watch the sunsets over the Bay. We would just sit on the beach around a fire or in the car at the beach front at twilight watching the darkening sky change from its pink, magentas and oranges to its final indigo. I think of that windshield as though it were a picture frame. We were, in fact, looking at nature's moving pictures, or of a painting's subject slowly, slowly moving.

Then, later in the dark, around the beach fire, we would watch the stars appearing one by one. The sky and water were our works of art, the setting, our museum. Along that water's edge I would muse about the water, dreaming upon its surface.

I was just thinking the other day of the time when I had received the Fulbright to paint in Europe in Florence. It would be there I would be altered forever by the works of Giotto, Fra Angelico, & Cimabue.

I was traveling with my friend Peter Hujar, at that time a young unknown photographer. We traveled to London and began visiting the museums of London, Amsterdam & Paris. At all those museums I had purchased postcards of paintings of bouquets of flowers. I must have collected at least 60 or so. Then, finding a small house on a hillside over looking the Arno River with Florence’s Duomo Cathedral visible from the studio’s window, we began doing our art. The house had a garden. Peter planted zinnias. Later, I painted them in an abstracted manner in large oils, and also made a handmade book with calligraphy of Ernst Juenger's “On The Marble Cliffs.” It was illustrated by watercolors inspired by these zinnias.

Joseph Raffael - Florence Joe Raffaele in Florence on Bellosguardo in front of an oil painting, 1955-6

Been thinking of Bellosguardo with its view of Belvedere and also of the Duomo. Both names specifically about seeing and beauty.
The first means beautiful glance. The second means to see beautifully or to see beauty. I think I'm right about the definitions. They're more or less correct. Someone, at some point along the way, wrote, "Raffael's ptgs are for those who are not afraid of beauty."

Those beauty definitions are both about what this life as an artist has been for me—describing beauty and painting beauty over the years as I withdrew over and over from the world, so I could do my paintings like a monk in his cell does his prayers and meditation.

There, at 3 via Bellosguardo, the beautiful cupola of the Duomo Cathedral could be seen from my studio window. That studio, a small room I ptd in was like a monk's cell.
Seeing the Duomo and living in that almost timeless time in Florence nourished, inspired and filled out a spiritual, metaphysical view of life, which I had had from the beginning.

That time living in Firenze really etched the road map for my life. Even Lannis’s and my home/studio here in Antibes is small and modest like that villino was, with the difference being the large garden and the view of the sea relatively nearby.

In other words, It's all been on purpose. Nothing gone to waste, no matter what it was or what it felt like.

Now, 5 decades later, I am living and working in a small house overlooking the Mediterranean, and for the past year or so I've been painting mostly bouquets, flowers collected from Lannis’s and my garden here in Antibes.
How Life is all of a piece. One Life. Many spiraling, unfolding chapters.

I am ptg these new enormous works of bouquets, these crescendos, my heart and my art have brought me to. A friend writes me about these new works: “With these most recent works, something has broken loose and open and free and glorious.”

I feel that too. Their incandescence is reassuring. Their inevitability, surprising. Everything I've been saying these past yrs about letting the invisible become visible and getting out of the way to let the ptg pt itself. It's been happening over and over. On its own. I'm just a witness to it.
I know these are crowning &—in their way— concluding works.

10:30 AM-Sunday 22 February, 2009, my 76th.

Birds done, Dogs walked, Soup made.
Glen Gould Goldberg.
Lannis in Paris.
Made some photos of flowers—bouquet Guido gave me yesterday.
Guido, gardener and can-do-all, a young Italian about 30 who lives in Italy,
and comes up here to la Côte to work.
A week or so ago when René, the gardener, brought him by to introduce him, I found myself watching Guido, hearing him speak,
and was unexpectedly moved, so much so, I could have cried, and even perhaps did, but the tears remained inside.
It was like some ancestor of mine had been brought to me at this twilight time.
Il giovane spkg to il vecchio.
Shades of an Italian memory from those who came before JR responding from their cellular-inside-me-Greco-Sicilian chorus.

This early AM, when Lannis was preparing to leave for her trip,
out of the corner of my eye I saw the new ptg unrolled on the table,
I found myself taking refuge & repose in the reds of the roses’ petals.
It is there in the ptg I shall seek safe haven during these days of inner-world travel as I stay here in the studio.


Last evening watched a NYT’s interview/video with John Updike who died last week at 77 yrs old. The interview had taken place 3 months earlier in October.
His honesty charmed me. I want to share it with Lannis. How one can be at the end of the road, even with advanced cancer, & be so cheerful and upbeat.
Now he’s gone.
I am touched and saddened by his leaving. He had always felt an outsider, as did Wallace Stegner. As have I.
It was that being on the outside of the circle where the strength has had the space to roam and develop.

The ptg went well yesterday. The vase.
Will work some more on the vessel today, and then perhaps can get it up on the wall.
I’ll be able to see it more fully, see where it is, and Lann can see it tmrw.

Couple Hrs Later
Finished, for now the vase. Looking good.
Now I see that there are areas not yet ptd, that need to be, on the upper left of the ptg.
Will work on them now.

Sun in and out today; it keeps wanting to come through. I wish it well.

The new painting is quite something.
Not a struggle exactly. It’s more like
a wild sweet horse is in the studio
in the form of a work-in-progress.
The horse wishes not to be “broken,”
I too want him to know that I also
want its nature to be retained.
It’s just that I’d like it to come into
the enclosure of the painting’s borders,
as it would into a large,
what is it called, for a horse—
not a pen, not a stall, but outside,
oh yes, a corral—
so it might leave its imprint, its smell, its breaths,
its glances, its droppings, its horse-ness,
its “we are all of a one-ness”—
and then when its image, its beingness
will have been realized for the world
to see in the form of a painting,
when the trans-migration has taken place,
then the horse can go back into its own life
and continue onward anew,
and the just-born painting will start its life also.

Are artists aesthetic botanists,
catching with their nets a never-before-seen species,
then studying it, notating its uniquenesses?
Do we record what of its identity we are able to recognize and describe,
and then when the process is complete, we release for viewing
the results in the form of a particular work of art?
Perhaps this activity is what Life has made possible
for the Artist in his or her life to live and to know from—

I realize now that this form of random jottings in the above for this catalogue piece is not dissimilar to the way I paint—all these disparate parts coming forward, going backwards, each appearing and surprising its surrounding partners, these myriad events appearing, just like in Life. And just like in Life always making a “whole.”



Journal extract following development of 'BIOGRAPHY' Painting

3 NOV 02
Anniversary of my Mother's death 3 Nov '47.
Since back from the desert, I've begun a new ptg as of yest., the 1st Biography ptg. In it appears the studio wall which is nearest the Sea, and a 1/2 each of the large arching glass doors on either side of the wall. All of this had been on the studio wall, and I decided to paint it, one day in September, and to call it "Biography".

In it various aspects of my life appear in the form of photos, repros of ptgs, collages, and a litho done more than twenty years ago (which recently I added watercolor to, and w-c'd its white border). There are also a couple reproductions including a V.Gogh collage I made yrs ago, plus V.Gogh's "le pere Tanguy" ptg, etc. All the images represent different aspects of my life.

A glimpse into the artist's studio where the Art is conceived, born and nurtured.

I'm so appreciating this life as an artist I've been given . In a way, this ptg will be another homage to that.


A morning working on our dog "Beauty"-in-the-wood-photograph as the sound track to Aldomovar's film "Talk to Her" continuously plays on. I've played it all the time since our return. Its haunting quality keeps me in mystery realms. Also not listening to any news, purposely.

5 NOV 02

Finished "Beauty". Also the 1st butterfly. Also V.Gogh's "le pere Tanguy" . Under these images I've begun the large glossy shiny photos which lay on the table. I'm enjoying how the above reflects on the below. It's like reflections on water.

A good day ptg.

Lynne Z came this early evening to explore book project.

7 NOV 02

This ptg is a 'whole' image and, at the same time, also made up of clusters of individual images. In this way, it relates to my early 1960's white ground paintings and the 'whole image' paintings which followed them.

8 NOV 02

Finding it not easy or flowing to work on ptg. The Golden Kyoto Palace and Brugh's Treescape--T hey're both so complex. I believe, due to talking so much the last two days for the book project, my mind is a bit askew . Just not used to it There's not been the mental space necessary to organize these visual complexities. Perhaps the solution is to do bigger blockier-shaped images during this time of verbalizing and introspection, and then do the detailed stuff later.


Began the Angels and Aposh collage. Is it a Van Eyck? This turns out to be very demanding also.

I sat quietly and that did still the mind, helping me get centered.

Need to get deeply into the ptg, and also be available for Lynne's limited time here.

Later 19h15 le soir

Got quite a bit done. It's sweet and innocent. These two angels with our cockatoo, Aposh. All these parts coming together, adding up to a whole.

Today in a tired state, I saw clearly once again, how important for me to maintain the necessary energy to do these ptgs I want and need to paint.

SATURDAY 9 Nov 02 14h

The angels and Aposh section is well along, and this afternoon I continue with them and also begin another image. But for now, a petite sieste.

Sunday 10 November 02

Needing to slow down today and take one step at a time. This AM I walked the dogs in the nearby wood, prepared clean water for today's w-c'ing, and then chose the next image to work on. I decided to do the Kyoto Temple upside down. Less daunting. Seeing its pictorial qualities in a fresh original way, I won't get hung up on its almost impossible architectonic elements.


It worked. Made progress with the Kyoto Palace. It's slow with tiny details, and it is working.

Thus far with the ptg, I've been solely concentrating on the appendages to the wall. However, at a certain moment today, I found myself seeing in actuality the wall plus the windows and the scene outside. In other words,the bigger picture. I had lost sight of the forest for the trees. So, I was able to see the whole image that the ptg will be.

What a relief!

Tuesday 12 November 02

Much flowing forth. Needing to center and to contain. The imagery in the ptg doesn't simplify matters. Brugh's forest scene in this smaller format is an even crazier mass of complex contradictions than the photo is in its original size. Same thing for the Kyoto Palace.

Also Beauty in the wood.

Yikes! It's hard and unsettling. All this combined with our three way conversations being taped each meal time...I'm a wreck. However, trusting it all.

Friday, I'll be back in studio in full swing.

13 Nov 02 Wednesday 7h30

Lynn's Final day here. It's been a rich time. Much has already occurred on many levels. Alchemy. This past night---much heavy, pounding, solid, penetrating rain.

Last evening, I had the very strong sense that the recent trip to Paris and the 30 films, plus the Desert Experience with all its mysteries and inductions have had their most profound effect not yet revealing their deepest nature.

This morning, at last spoke and taped with Lynne a conversation specifically about the painting. It felt very good .

14 November 02

Began reading Savage Beauty, biography of Edan St Vincent Millay, which Lynne left for us.

Last night a dream about an artist wanting to make and direct a film and wanting me to star in it.

16 November 02

Much coming up.
The good news is that I was able to paint well on Brugh's forest scene.

17 November 02

Been ptg the V.Gogh self-portrait collage which I've been wanting to paint for atleast 10-15 yrs. It touches and amazes me how this man's depiction of himself in certain of his self-portraits has so fascinated me. I've ptd him atleast 4 times, and also done collages with him in them. Now this collage, I made in California, on Tamarack, all that time ago which has traveled with me from studio to studio, is finally becoming a ptg. What would a biography of mine be without Van Gogh in it?

18 November 02

A fine day of ptg. Working on the V.Gogh collage, and also the Egyptian Couple sculpture. The sculpture's being ptd in a kind of greenish, not quite sepia, more of a neutral tint/pale rose coloration. So, the day's been good, and I finally feel here and home at last!

I've been wanting to paint these images which are in this ptg for so long. I might not ever have gotten to them as individual, separate ptgs. I will be 70 in 3 mos. The images I pt will now be part of what I leave. This "Biography" ptg for me is a perfect manner for me to show a view of my spirit's imprint to those in the future who might be interested

19 November 02

A clear, beautifully crisp, getting colder day. All's well here.

At last, I'm fully 'back'.
Feels great.

20 November 02/Wednesday

So much good energy today. It feels mighty. Working now on the Beauty-in-the-wood tableau. Basically, it's the final one. What remains afterwards is the litho "Pink Lily with Dragonfly" of 20 plus yrs ago. It's on the left side of the wall. That'll be interesting to paint a ptg of a ptg, which, as it turns out is already an interpretation of a ptg. After that it'll be the rattan bench which'll be a good wk's work. First, I must redraw its structure. And do it well. After that the cobalt blue balustrade. Thank God, we ptd it blue and not green. This way it'll be so striking in the ptg with the green foliage all around it. After that the pines and the sky.

Finally the wall.

22 November 02

Today, a major one for us. Lannis doing a healing this afternoon, and I have major roads to travel in the ptg and alot to do in the studio.

These days are so strong, so powerful. I have almost too much energy. Everything seems on fast forward. I want to and need to get in 'sync' with my ptg, with our life. There seems to be so much going on. I'll pull a Tarot card. I pulled "Wheel of Fortune". So, I need to stay objective, be flexible, and be open to the energy, no matter what it may look like.

23 November 02

A night full of dreaming.

Awoke just a bit ago, a little before 7. These dark-end-of-autumn mornings, the birds outside (and inside), their stirrings and their 1st sounds beginning later and later. The dogs too wake less early.

There's so much to do today and everyday. I want to get the correspondance done now, so that I can get an early start with the ptg. Yest. got a good start on the blue railings. Looks like a few more wks yet for completion of ptg.

Sunday, 24 November 02

Finished right side of balcony--the balustrade, the leaves with the red shapes amongst them, and then in a few moments some light washes for the tiles.

Quite miraculous, all of it.... The vertical balustrade, the horizontal floor bringing my eye inside through the glass doors, then up and seeing the images on the wall.

28 November 02

Very much enjoying the E. St V. Millay biography. Next, plan to read Dylan Thomas' and then TSEliot's. This is biography time. Who would have thought, who could have guessed it was coming? I've been avoiding these bks for yrs even with Lannis having bought them for me to read. Now, at last, I am ready to face the Poet's Life as well as the Poet's Death. One of these titles will turn out to be my Winter Solstice reading material. It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that this is a time of Summing Up.

29 November 02

At 5:45PM I asked Georges to come in and help me with the rather tricky business of me focusing the slide projector so that I could begin redrawing the very complex rattan chair on the left side of "Biography". He checked the projection for me while I fiddled with the focusing. It went quickly. Tmrw AM I'll start the left half of the ptg. It will have its challenges: the rattan bench for starters and then the litho of "Pink Lily with Dragon Fly".


Now to bed to continue rdg of E.St.V Millay's. It's getting more and more difficult for me, the reading of it, as she descends further and further into her hell.

30 November 02

A friend, yesterday in the studio, without knowing the title of the ptg in progress said, toute de suite, "That's your life."

1 December 02

The yr almost done, and in three wks The Winter Solstice....The Days Will Become Longer. I capitalize the words. It's like title-ing the event. It's like that for me, now. Everything becoming more meaningful and distinct. This time is passing so quickly. Feeling it particularly today.

Working on the litho image is so much fun---ptg from a ptg which itself was after a ptg. It's actually even 4th generation. I could go on forever with this process.

5PM: Today, a pale panic of "Not enough time left". The ptg of the litho is inspiring. So painterly. It amazes me how much has been accomplished on the ptg in two days, and how much has happened also in our daily life here at Site Charmant.


Mentally a-clutter and fatigued. Can't see forest for the trees.

Now to bed to read a simple story, and then to sleep.

2 December 02 - AM

Beautiful Golden Day.
I need to go straight away to work

It's going slower than usual because normally I find the 'how' within ten days or two weeks, how to paint each ptg. Once well into a ptg I discover its pictorial needs and once that

happens it all flows more fluidly Therefore it's taking longer to understand the nature of each and what makes it tick. Continually start and go, start and go.

04 December 02

Majorly important day in terms of realizations. Got clear about lots of things related to my art, and other aspects of our life which accompany it. Now, after a day off yesterday, I'm so excited about the six days ahead of ptg, ptg, ptg.

6 December 02, Friday

Working on ptg. Needing to make some deep progress. It's taking longer than I thought. As I mentioned above, each section is a new ptg.

Knowing that I must spend more time with the ptg. Six hrs a day is not enough. Must do more.

An intense time. December always is. Particularly as Solstice approaches. The days become shorter and shorter. An anxiousness fills me.


It's clear that I need to get into deeper concentration in the ptg. I've let myself be drawn too much into the peripheral aspects of the art. The ptg is the most crucial.

7 December 02, Saturday

Pearl Harbor 61 yrs ago. Hard to believe! My, how life has sped by. It feels like it's been 7 or 8 months not 70 yrs.

Excellent energy today after yest's intensity and demands.

The ptg's going very well. It's definitely a 'let-go' time. Letting go of any sense that it is me who is in 'control'. I'm not, of course, never have been and never will be. For me, that's water-color's and Life's great lesson: It does what it's going to do.

So much seems to be happening right now.
v The word "elucidation" keeps coming to mind and lips .

It's interesting to think about the choices I have made or have not made. One made, decades ago, has been to enter more deeply into the artist's world, the inner sanctum where the soul rests, to commune and collaborate with it, and to attempt to paint from that place.

8 December 02, Sunday

In AM today began working on rattan chair.
It's now 3:45PM. Will take dog walk and then back for a couple hrs more of ptg. This ptg's already taken 5 wks... will be atleast another two--Yikes!

11 December 02

The time's passing so quickly. Happy the days start getting longer in 10 days.

Rain, rain, rain today.


Now to bed. Been waking recently at 5AM. In bed doing heart chakra meditation and Reiki symbols, then rising at 6-ish, going downstairs to do email correspondance, then dog walk in wood, then making fresh carrot/ginger juice, then to studio to pt by 9 AM. Lately, feeling so much energy.

20 December 02

So much to do.

Ptg, almost finished, hung it on lvg rm wall. First time the two 1/2's are joined. Lannis and I sat in silent awe.

I need to do wall on left side, then some 'fine-tuning' over whole surface. Then the border.

It's a crisp and clear Friday---The full moon two days ago.

Augmenting my studio listening of Aldomovar's soundtrack of "Talk to Her" with some Glen Gould Bach, and from time to time a bit of Brian Eeno's Airport Music.


Had wonderful couple hrs this afternoon working the full width and expanse of the w/c on the table, concentrating on the walls and doors with their blueish, greyish,rose-dore-ish sienna-ish tones. Listening with ear phones to multiple Baroque selections. Definitely 'Fugue-Time. Seventh Heaven for me. As usual, going to let the ptg take whatever time it wants and needs to complete itself. In fact, I have no choice.

The energy since before dawn has been intense and bright--- again, a certain elucidation taking place, and this, the Eve of the Winter Solstice.

21 December 02, The Solstice Major day.
Lannis had a revelatory night. This AM as she shared it with me, I was filled with its gift and its light. As a result, I got so much ptg done in the studio. It's about two or three days from completion. It'll have been 7 1/2 wks in the making.

22 December 02

Lannis said: "It's an ah-hah! day."

Also, last night Lannis said looking at BIOGRAPHY, as it hung almost completed on the living room wall, "It's like a play". I know what she means. There are the characters, there's the plot, there's the decor and the scenery, and there's the unfolding of an action. Moreover, the two halved arched windows on either side of the wall, create the feeling of curtains on the sides of a stage.

Today, realizing once again painting for me is a vocation.

23 December 02

Today, I will be tearing down the borders around the ptg, looking at the ptg, putting in the necessary finishing touches. It's a bit of a letdown, this finalizng stage. After almost two months living and being together every day. It'll be gone before we know it. Now, to tear it down, paint on it, and see it anew.

Feels appropriate to be completing this Biography ptg during the Solstice time. As Allen Marshall pointed out to me in an email today, these lengthening days of early winter are the preparatory time for Spring's growth.


I just put the torn-down Biography on the studio wall, and guess what? I think it's finished!

Now, I want to put some order in studio, particularly the surfaces including the ptg table. It's gotten quite cluttered. For me it seems creativity soars within chaos. While I'm ptg I find an order in chaos.

Realized today that the Alexander Liberman photo of Picasso in his Studio, (actually it was'nt far from here, his studio), this photo which we have up on our w/c wall and which I've carried with me for some 30 years, is also a vision of an artist's studio wall.

Also, looking back, there were my childhood's bedroom wall which I covered with photos of movie stars. There were also the 12th Street studio wall with all the images on it. Also the San Francisco Bulletin Board I showed at Mills College. Also the collage on canvas that was in the Whitney (a telegram I sent to Johnson during Vietnam war, a Vietnamese Man crying, etc.). Later, still on 12th St. there were the photos of Tut and Cheetah from Paris Match which inspired the first "whole image" ptgs I was to do. Then, eighteen months ago, the Scenes from a Life: Studio Wall. And now these Biography images.

So, multiple images have played a crucial part in how I have surrounded myself with photos and repros of works of art, etc. all my life. Spent afternoon going through slides and picking out a selection to view with Lannis for printing at the photo lab in Nice as possible ptgs for down the road. Then looked again through the Albert Kahn Gardens' photos fom Paris of last Oct.

Finally, went through the already enlarged color prints of photos I've taken. Viewed the latter with Lannis in early evening and decided upon two to pt: The Tibetan Altar we have in the kitchen. Also the white bird seen in the twilight sanctuary in LA.

I'll call the first "Altar", the 2nd "Sanctuary". Will paint "Sanctuary" first. It'll be a long relatively narrow vertical with a dark, perhaps black border. It's an ageless moment, with an ancient Chinese painting sensibility to it. I like it alot. Feels right for now after Biography's wide full horizontal expanse.

24 December 02

Spent AM cleaning studio surfaces of tables and storage cabinets. Throwing lots away which had accumulated these past two Biography months. In afternoon drew in Sanctuary. It done, turning around I saw the 'finished' Biography. Turns out, it needed more work. The wall isn't dark enough. More contrast needed. That way, there'll be more dramatic pull.

I'll work on it tmrw.

25 December 02

Yesterday's drizzly grey has been replaced with a bright sunny morning. Yesterday, wrote to Al Ujcic that this is a time of new birth and extended light. And so it is. On many levels.

Now to start darkening and solidifying the wall on Biography.

L&I opened Christmas presents sent to us. One from the Makkinks, a book entitled "Old Man Goya". Isn't that perfect? Yet another synchronistic sign. Another biography come our way.

By the way, when Lynne was here in one of our recorded conversations, Lannis spoke of Jung's Memories, Dreams and Reflections, an example of an older person transcribing his view of his life. A summing up.

I've got the studio's sliding glass doors open and a wonderful fresh winter air fills the room.

Ptg the ptg's wall on my studio wall vertically. Usually I work flat on a table. This act of ptg on a vertical is an exhuberant feeling.

Spent the morning on ptg.
Then saw in afternoon it needed more work. Lannis and I discussed it and we saw certain areas which needed a bit more attention, and little by little it all came into a heightened state. A wonderful sacred moment of collaboration. Ahhh, "Biography" is now completed.

Tmrw we go to Nice. Then, the next day, Friday beginning Sanctuary.


Joseph Raffael | "Biography" 2002 | Watercolor on paper | 54 x 81 inches