The Plop Artist

I am yet to be able to sell a single one of my paintings. For over twenty years I have been painting diligently with fervent dreams of artistic success. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one left who believes that this success is still possible. People see my paintings and they do not understand what I am doing. They think I am untrained and naive. An unenthusiastic “interesting,” is the most often used descriptive response to my work. I have left my paintings on sidewalks to see if anyone would steal them- but the paintings just sit there. Getting galleries, restaurants, museums or any other establishment to hang my art upon their walls is like pulling teeth. Nobody seems to want to see my art except me, myself and I.

The other evening when I was talking to my wife about my decades old desire to earn a living as a Painter, we had another fight. She is frustrated by my inability to see the reality of my situation. “You have been painting for over twenty years and can not get shows. No one has shown any interest your work for years! I love you and I like your art but come on, when is it time to get real real?- you are yet to sell a single painting!” she replied. “This does not mean I will never sell a painting. I mean look at van Gogh or…. (I was unable to come up with another name), they could not sell a single painting in their life time and now their work is worth millions,” I replied like a man defending his property. “Who is they?” my wife rhetorically replied. “You only referenced van Gogh, that is only one out of thousands. Are you equating yourself to van Gogh? -because to be honest with you honey- you are no van Gogh.”

I beg to differ. I think that my talent as a Painter is equal if not greater than any Painter that has ever lived. It may be a latent and unskilled talent but this does not invalidate it. My ability to portray a world that does not exist any place other than in my head- is unrivaled by any other artist I have ever seen. I do not believe that there is anything quite like my art in the world. My value as a Painter is greatly underestimated and unappreciated. So what, gallery owners and museums do not respond to my submissions. Does this mean that I am helpless? What I know for certain is that if I do not find a way soon to make the world realize my artistic value- than I am afraid that my life will be relegated to a nine to five job, salary, health benefits, certifications, and a mortgage that I can barley afford. I will have become a mere image of what I had dreamed myself to be and my painting studio will be cleaned out to make room for the baby and its crib. Shit.

I can tell no one who knows me about being a Plop Artist. If my wife finds out that I am taking my paintings and hanging them upon walls illegally- I know that she will not only loose respect for me but she will become infuriated. She wants a comfortable life where there are no concerns about her husbands arrest. She takes comfort in believing that I am a law abiding Anarchist who has never been in jail. If she found out that I was jeopardizing her domestic dreams by illegally hanging my paintings on museum, gallery and corporate office walls (without permission) I know it would not only destroy her illusion of me but also end my marriage. But this is only if I am caught. If on the other hand, I am discovered, and someone wants to buy one of my paintings or provide me with artistic representation- than not only my career as a Painter but also my dreams and my marriage will be salvaged. My despair will float away like ripples in a stream and I will be entered into Art History books. I am willing to take the risk.

I always check the garbage first. The following day, after plopping my painting upon a wall, if my painting is not yet in the garbage than I know that it is either still hanging on the wall or someone has kept it. I have hundreds of paintings in my cob web ridden painting studio- so giving a few away for free is the sacrifice that I have to make to get my name out into the world. I often leave my business card with my website address besides the painting that I have just plopped down- and it has just occurred to me that this is not such a good idea since it could lead to my arrest. “Never leave a paper trail,” my grandfather used to say to me. Shit.

The other day I hung one of my paintings in the San Fransisco Modern Art Museum right besides Paul Klee’s “The Tightrope Walker.” There was no security in the room at the time and there was a small open space upon the wall which I could not resist. I took the painting out from under my long black coat and stuck a tack into the wall upon which I hung my painting. It was a little out of place but I desperately wanted to hang one my paintings right besides Paul Klee. Just as I was straightening the painting out, a group of what looked like Japanese students walked into the room. I quickly backed away from where I was standing and waited to see if they noticed my painting. They did not. They walked right past it without even a subtle remark.

My heart sank when I was putting one of my paintings on the wall of the TransAmerica building. I stuck the tack in the wall and put my painting up right when a security guard said to me “sir, you are not allowed to handle the art.” “Sorry officer, I just accidentally ran into the painting on my way out to lunch and I was trying to straighten it out,” I replied. “Just please step away from the art sir,” he said and I continued on my way.

At this moment in San Fransisco I have art hanging in several galleries, two museums, a few corporate office buildings and in some restaurant and bar bathrooms. If you are in San Fransisco and you go to the Museum of Modern Art, Hang Gallery or the TransAmerica building- you will see my work (if it has not yet been taken down). I have been plopping for almost a month now and I am determined to make a name for myself before the school year starts and I have to go back to my day job as a high school English Teacher. “When are you going to take the certification test and get your Teaching credential?” my wife keeps asking me. She wants me to secure my career as a high school Teacher so that we can begin to plan having a family and maybe even buy a house. “I will do these things soon, soon,” I tell her with the intention of putting it off as long as I can hold out. Maybe I am trying to avoid the inevitable, maybe there is no hope for success in my artistic career. Maybe I am a 37 year old burn out. But I only have one life to live and I am determined to live and dream. I will keep plopping my paintings on walls all over this city until I either get caught or discovered by somebody who recognizes the artistic genius that I know I am. In the meantime, I still have not sold a single painting.


  1. I have been following your blog for some time. I would like to discuss with you a possible opportunity to turn your blog into a book. I will email you, but please contact me if you are interested.

  2. Is Pequin Books the eastern division of Penguin Books then? Shit, Randall maybe they have different tastes…

    Wouldn’t that be ironic? To blog about not being able to sell your paintings, or write this elusive novel and someone couldbe – I say that with a truck load of salt – interested in publishing The Life of Randall.

    Don’t say I didn’t say this a week ago!

  3. And then you can use your art as cover design for the book. Success! Plop Art sounds like guerilla art. Brilliant idea except the not getting arrested bit. I think you should get arrested, get a civil rights lawyer, plead your rights as an artist, front page of the paper, instant fame. We will organise a Free Randall campaign and sell tshirts to pay for your defence. When you get out you will sell a million. Your wife might object though.

  4. That is quite funny Paul. And I must admit, Mr. Sanders- I thought this was a prank pulled by you since you did indeed say it a week ago. As far as The Life Of Randall- that may be a little too incriminating for me. How about, The Life Of A Nobody Particular.

    However I did receive an email and the comment was earnest. Who knows how this new pitch will turn out, but I am curious to see who would be crazy enough to offer me a book deal. The irony, oh the irony of this strange life of mine…and all of yours.

  5. Moi?

    No, no… I would do no such thing as to play with the wants and desires of those who are enlightened enough to have them.

    Have fun though and if it does, one day, hit the shelves I will be there – if only to ‘plop’ my own novel in front of it.

  6. You know Randall…it doesn’t actually take a lot of time to make a book in the pdf format, with all the writings in this blog and name it as you did “The life of Nobody Particular.”

    I know that you are a procrastinator when it comes to writing big books, but your short story writing style equals that of great writers. You are on an equal footing with them.

  7. Yes, I am a perpetual procrastinator. Today however I have to mop the hardwood floors in our house or else the flees are going to eat my wife and I alive (I have been putting this off for months).

    Your compliment has really made me feel very good. Thank you, since today has been yet another day of heat, challenges and delusions. The flees are even jumping upon my computer as I write this!!

    I must go- but thank you again Sajins!

  8. I think you are multi talented. Your paintings and your words are unique and in a good way! I struggle with both.

    Tell your wife you can’t stop painting..’tis an addiction, a disease, a curse!! Hmm..maybe we could start a support group. Oh wait a minute those are called workshops.

    So you are an English teacher…now I am nervous about you visiting my blog! I already covered myself though on my about page, but I am asking your forgiveness for all of my spelling and grammar errors. So as my girl Amy Winehouse says: “I told you I was trouble, you know I’m no good.”

    Please keep us posted about the book…put me down for a signed copy!

    Well, I’m starting to shake so I’m going to the studio for my daily fix/hit/shot of painting.

    Hey are contractions legal?? :O

  9. No, contractions never count in my book. I see grammar only as a kind of tyranny that needs to be dis-empowered and re-invented by creative writers and thinkers. One needs to learn grammar only so that they can then break it down.

    Thank you for your heart warming comment…maybe the reason why I have been having a perpetual anxiety spell is because I have not been getting may daily fix. Thanks for the reminder and the support- If I am ever published I will send you a dozen signed copies (to give out to friends, pets and uptight co-workers and grammatically correct employers).

  10. laughter is good for the soul… 20 years, thaz not so long… passionate plopping painter and rebel to boot… is it really true..yr on the verge of divorce again… oh lordy…

  11. Wow!
    Can you take me under your wing?
    I’m working for more than 20 years.
    I was very luck moving my art around
    when I was monk.
    Anyway I’m not making any money with my work.
    It’s hard to believe that you never sold nothing.
    But it’s no new about how horrible the art market can be.
    So… Let’s cry out together.


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