Goth froth. Image by Grant Ellis.

How To Paint A Gothic Masterpiece

Stuff Made For The Sake Of Making Stuff

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There’s a common belief in modern society that to be a truly great artist one must suffer from anxiety, poverty, drug addiction, mental illness, self loathing and radical bouts of venereal disease if one is to be taken seriously. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve never aspired to be a truly great artist. How can I be when muffins make me happy? Don’t get me wrong, some of my favourite artists of all time have been insane depressed junkies, it’s just that some of my other favourite artists of all time have been happy-go-lucky life loving vegans. The question is, can you really create a masterpiece without suffering for your art? We’re gonna try it out today.

Step 1. The first thing to pick is a subject. I have chosen Vincent Van Gogh, the 19th Century Post Impressionist who once cut off his ear and gave it to a prostitute named Rachel from Friends. Despite his incredible talent Vinnie was never recognized for his work in his own lifetime which resulted in him being pretty bummed out a lot. I imagine him sitting in his room listening to The Cure or the Smiths for days straight and wondering why nobody gets him. Poor bastard.

Step 2. Now that I have my subject, I find my favourite of his self portraits:  Self Portrait with Bandanged Ear, and ruthlessly incorporate it into my own work. The great thing about using Vinnie is that his style is easily copied yet also easy to manipulate into a great little gag that incorporates his general outlook on life but with a 21st century twist.

Step 3. Sometimes it’s the little things that help to change a great work into a masterpiece. For me it’s Vinnie’s leather jacket and badges that take this piece from being just another high school imitation to a first or second year TAFE student imitation. Expressionism is Futile! I can totally see Vinnie wearing that over to Paul Gaugin’s house just to piss him off. Die Yuppy Scum and It All Sux: That’s Vinnie expressing himself despite his belief that expressionism is futile. The Dead Moon badge? It’s a sick logo and Vinnie would have loved it.

Step 4. When you finish a painting you’re happy with, how it is received becomes crucial. Anyone who pats you on the back and says ‘it’s a masterpiece’ is obviously welcome back to your house for cigars and strawberries at any time. Those who offer criticism in any form, constructive or otherwise, are no better than the clowns who told Vinnie his art wasn’t worth shit back in the day. What were their names again? Exactly. Either way, your work is done and you didn’t have to destroy yourself to do it. Bravo art! Bravo clean living! Bravo happy feelings!

Ozzie Wright