Visual Aspects of Financial Subjects
In this blog entry, part of expanding my Abstracted Directions statement, I will tackle explaining my work with stock charts. Today, Jan 25, 2023 the market gapped down and then basically rallied to where it was. Which usually tells you nothing, or or more likely it shows you there are overreactions to overreactions. Which is usually what happens. Then again, I didn’t check the news (closely). When I took my first and only class in Technical Analysis, in 1996, in NYC, well into the Dot Com Boom that was yet to turn into the Dot Bomb Bust, the first maxim I was taught was, always compare the news to the stock reaction and you will benefit.
For one thing, ever since that class in 1996, I check “the market” nearly every day. I have some skin the game, but most importantly, I like to follow what is happening with corporations, commodities, technology and so on. Every check presents me some information on all manner of economics and money, even politics, that I find useful and sometimes even amusing. Like most investors, I am pleased when the market rewards and sometimes when it punishes. Since I look at charts, the information is presented visually, and being a visual artist, that is what intrigues me. Then why do I want to revision stock charts? Good question I am realizing as I have to put in writing something intelligent. And enlightening. And informative.
Let’s start with the informative. As in almost all my work, the facts are what is interesting. And that’s what stock charts show. They put the price investors are willing to pay, onto a timeline. That simple. That direct. If you look you can see uptrends and downtrends, gaps, bottoms, tops, an expanding list of things. Quantitative things that can be seen visually. Like the satellite images I saw in my Urban Design class, it is the visuals and the often obvious, but at other times so subtle visual patterns, that are so captivating for me. I did my first stock market paintings while still in Jersey City, across the Hudson River from Wall Street. They were more like landscapes, lots of volatile pours and erratically moving, constantly reversing lines, and they had stock ticker titles. Titles like INTC #3. You had to know INTC was on the Nasdaq, because it had 4 characters, and also that is was the stock ticker for Intel Corporation. INTC was having a good decade then. Not so much recently. Later, maybe I can mount on my website a tab of these early works all named with stock ticker abbreviations. Most are in storage and I haven’t seen them myself for 23 years now.
Jump to 3 years ago when I was casting around for new subjects. I decided to try painting again, in a fine art way, the stock market and it’s melt ups, and melt downs.
Before I can continue, I need to briefly describe my photorealist techniques for image transfer. The way I began, using color 35mm slides and Kodak slide projectors is long obsolete. My own personal copy machine, a Canon, the quarter ton machine I used to own that made sharp clear sheets printed with un-smudgable toner had died after performing admirably for 20 years. I was reduced to just the clear sheets to be placed on an “overhead projector”. Since trying to print with an inkjet printer on these clear sheets created more often than not an undrying ink that was surely messed up in subsequent handling, I needed to make changes to my process. These days I make a crisp color print on regular office paper, then set a clear sheet on top, tape the sheets together to keep things registered, and trace with fine tipped sharpies the design I want to enlarge. I often simplify complex charts this way, and introduce some of my own line quality. The tracings, placed upside down on the overhead projector create a very luminous image on my panels, and can be enlarged to almost any size. Then trace a second time. Yes, trace, that’s what photorealists often do. Shocking. It’s how you get a level of accuracy easily, directly.
Therefore, any chart I care to paint, I save a screen image, then print it at desired size to then trace. You get another hand drawn edge when you do this, which I admire. Then after outlining on your panel your projected chart, you go after the panel in an action painting way. I use both oil and enamel paint, hot glue, glitter, crushed glass, colored sand etc. All the stuff happening above and below the chart are my painterly ways to show the incessant noise in the market. The projections, analyst up-grades, down-grades, news news news. I learned. Compare the news to the chart reaction before you think anything or do anything. I also include “trendlines”, often imaginary lines drawn by chartists that stock prices follow, or not. If anyone is good at making up imaginary lines on graphs, it’s got to be me.
But again, why try to bring the stock market, capitalism, world economic conflict etc etc into fine art? I guess I am going way out on a limb here, but I strongly believe, economics matter. Economics is what is running the stock market. Or so they say. In any event the economy is (I think) run by economics, corporations, “money”. So just like at election time. “Its the Economy” is certainly one of the most important things for people. If not the most important. So, stated succinctly, I want to inject economics, finance, money, stock prices into a fine art discourse where important subjects belong.
If I am to do so, and I am trying, then I can’t think of a better, and certainly more visible way to present the myriad money based subjects, be it the price of a barrel of oil, inflation adjusted, from 1946 thru Spring of 2022, the given chart of any corporation, or stock exchange etc etc. At one point last year I was keeping a running list and folder of charts. “Winners” and “Losers” I titled the saved files, noting the date, the time frame and the name of the corporation or commodity. “Winners” and “Losers” of the Week, the Month, the Year. The winners and losers, truly are often the most entertaining, and sometimes the most enlightening. In any event, I will likely continue the series as long as I am able to paint, continually checking the market for it’s next surprise. Look for these works on my “Stock Charts “ tab. And always, if you take a liking to technical analysis, compare the reaction of your position to the supposed news. Oh, and I certainly can do commissions if you have a favorite winner or loser that I haven’t covered.