The Magic 8-ball Said What?

Magic-8-Ball-Fortune Circa Late-1960s
Magic-8-Ball-Fortune Circa Late-1960s - My sources tell me.....that I'm just a friggin' plastic ball! You're on your own kid!
You never know what life has in store for you. Will tomorrow bring you joy, riches, love – or perhaps frustration, boredom, or higher taxes? Wouldn’t it be cool if we all could walk around with a Magic 8-ball to guide us each day? Yeah that would be sweet – you roll out of bed and ask the ball if today will be a great day and if it gives you one of those “all signs point to YOU’RE SCREWED” then you can just stay in bed eating fruit newtons and watching the People’s Court. Thank you magic plastic divining ball, assembled in China, for protecting me from my destiny! Ugh, wouldn’t that be something? Hey look! There’s a flight back to reality leaving now! I better catch it!

Okay so anyways that was just my own clever little lead-in to my latest completed painting. The Taming of the Cue is a 24”x36” oil painting depicts a lively night at a pool hall. We see dancing and other folks enjoying some billiards but the focus is the table in the foreground. Here we find two ladies are engaged in a heated game of 8-ball and one girl is clearly dominating the other. Upon a quick examination of the expressions you would guess that the girl on the left is winning and is gloating over a near-victory. But wait a moment, look at the configuration of the solids and stripes on the table and tell me what you see. Well, there is only one solid left on the table before the winning player can go for the 8-ball so that’s normal, but….. oh. I see. The 8-ball is close to the pocket while the 3-ball is hugging it. That is a big problem because when you go for that 3-ball you are risking knocking in that 8-ball and losing the game. Ah so that’s why the girl on the right looks unhappy – she isn’t losing; she’s winning! She’s winning but she’s stuck uh, ahem, ” behind the 8-ball” because she can’t really go after that 3-ball. Well the smug-looking lady, who is so confident for being in such a poor state, has a good reason to smile. I wonder how you would approach that next shot.

'The Taming of the Cue' - Copyright 2012 Ryan G. Williams
'The Taming of the Cue' - Copyright 2012 Ryan G. Williams

So this painting was a gift to my cousin. He asked for anything and so I came up with this billiard scene when I saw his new house and his pool table. The selection of billiard balls was not random. I chose the 10,9,8, and 3 to have the focus in the foreground because my cousin was born in 1983. Just a simple little salute to make it more personal. If you look in the top right, you will see a neon martini glass sign. That’s a reference to another cousin’s painting (this cousin’s sister) that I did back in 2008 (The Martini Stands Alone). I figured since they’re family then why not link the paintings together some how? Also in the distant background towards the middle, you might make out a little ’39’. If you need help then click the image for a closer look. This is the 39th oil painting I have completed. It seemed like such a round number that I thought I would put it there. I thought a billiard scene, as classic as it is, would be appropriate. You know there have been some really entertaining billiard paintings over the years. Of course we all know dogs can play poker, but did you know they also play pool? Artist Cassius Marcellus Coolidge painted many scenes of dogs playing poker back in the 1920’s which we are all familiar with (I have a tie of one of them). Perhaps not as well known is Arthur Saron Sarnoff who focused on dogs, but they were shooting pool which was just as funny.

'The Hustler' Circa 1950s; Artist Arthur Sarnoff - That is some great shooting for not having thumbs.

Closer to modern times, I also love artist Chris Consani’s billiard scene depicting classic television and film stars enjoying a night on the old felt table.

"A Game of Fate" - Artist Chris Consani - Circa 1980's-90's --- This was not the original look. Elvis was not in the original.

By the way, this version of “A Game of Fate” is not the original version. Consani was forced to use Elvis as a replacement for the Three Stooges. The reason: He was popped for copyright infringement by the good folks who own the likeness rights to the stooges. That’s pretty ridiculous if you ask me. As an artist, we have to be careful of what we paint in this age of litigious larceny.

Back to my painting, which is copyright infringement free (suck it Lionel Hutz), while my scene is more down to earth, I like putting a small twist on the expressions because it’s a little test to see if you’re just looking at the painting or if you’re entering the painting. If your knee-jerk reaction to the unhappy lady is, “she must be losing” then you’re not in the painting; you’re just looking and not taking in all the facts. We must hear, or in the world of art: SEE, all the testimony before we can render a verdict. Remember, artists are creating worlds for you to enter and explore from the comfort of your own imagination. So please, take a moment, and explore.

This painting is also a visual metaphor. Yes, yes, everything in art is a metaphor isn’t it? The scene is depicting a little lesson about life if you take the time to think about it. What? You don’t have the time? You say you need to hop back on your cell phone to update your score on “Words with Friends?” Good lord, what happened to our attention spans? (Sigh) Okay, I will divulge the life lesson for you: no matter how good (or bad) things are going, your fortune can change in a heartbeat. In this case the situation is rolling along for the lady on the right and then, in the blink of an eye, she’s facing a difficult decision. What is the next step? What should she do? Good times can swing a 180 in the blink of an eye.

Real character is born of adversity. While the fates are kind to us, we put away our true nature for a rainy day. When it finally does start to pour, we put on that true persona and find out what we’re really made of and what we really believe. How appropriate the expression “behind the 8-ball” huh? Life is a game we play. We will lose more often than not, but remember that losing glorifies winning. That’s your life lesson for today.

I’ll have a video showing the painting sessions for this piece on my YouTube channel soon.

But Wait, There’s More!

In the meantime I continue to develop my Joker-Holiday painting. I’m getting close to the color stage on that one. I have been careful in how I render that scene because I really want the faces to not only bear a strong resemblance to to the characters from the movies, but I also want their emotions to really come across as genuine. That was one of my goals for 2012 after all. Speaking of goals…

I just implemented a new database system on my website to house my paintings and their associated Paypal codes. So now when you click a painting, the image expands for easy viewing and the paypal link that is appropriate for the selected painting is revealed. No more listing all painting and Paypal information on one page. That was just plain ugly and I’m glad I got rid of that. Let me know if you like the new layout.

Well one month is gone and one painting is complete. So far the fortunes of 2012 have been kind. But when will that 8-ball creep closer to the pocket? I better chalk my cue to be ready for it.

Be ready for anything
You never know what that 8-ball will say.

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