Tuesday, April 6, 2010


When it rains it pours. The ideas are coming. I've sketched out a new series of work, and will be posting it soon. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I love blue. Always have. I've written papers about it. I overuse and overwear the color. I love it. Hell, my undergraduate exhibition was even called, "Shades of Blue." One particular shade of blue even earned the name "E. Bell Blue" when I was in college. Though not unlike the color shown here, it is still different. It's more cobalt, a little more pink, and a richer hue. Someday my friends at Crayola are going to learn about E. Bell Blue and they're going to do right by my color. Yves Klein got a blue...why can't I?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Reasons For Painting, Volume 1

I have no reason to believe that my reasons for painting will apply to every person who touches brush to canvas, but I do think that there are some fundamental motivations that push all of us that practice creation.

The first of those that I'll mention is brilliantly true, but not discovered without help. An old friend of mine, and fellow artist brought the idea to my attention. it started with me wondering if the little boxes (see previous blogs) were transitioning into another series of paintings. We talked extensively, for a length of time, and then he spoke works of such clarity and wisdom:

The only reason you need for making art is that you want it to exist.

Oh simplicity. How I love you. My friend was right though. I'm the artist. The creator. And in my mind pictures come and they dance around, and I want them to become real. And that's the only reason I need.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A New Look At Home

Today I was walking to the post office and I was trying to look at the town where I live objectively. It's not beautiful, in the traditional sense. There is no architecture of notice, no city planning. It is not magnificently landscaped or filled with interesting shops. It just is.

The interesting thing is that is contains an honest reality that is it's own version of beautiful. The real things that happen to people and construct a life happen here. They happen to people of character who deserve respect. Seeing life play out like that provides something innately fascinating.

I have come to live in this town 3 separate times, and each time it became a different place.
  1. I came home from the hospital here in the summer of 1976, when I was born.
  2. I came here for a new start in the spring of 1988, when I was 11.
  3. And I came here after I lived in Chicago to resume my teaching career in the fall of 2002.
There's something here that deserves documentation. I'm not exactly sure what or how I'll go about it, but I'll let you know when I find it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Richter is my Yoda

I like that the name Yoda has become synonymous with understanding and wisdom, and I like using that as a name for those who live that. I've taught with several people in the past decade who have shown such a fundamental understanding of education that it only made sense for us to call them Yoda.

When I think about painting though, and influences, there can be only one. Gerhard Richter is my Yoda. He is the ultimate painting theorist. He's the quintessential postmodern painter. He operates with both a love for paint and a respect for it's inherent (and undiscovered) possibilites. And yes, after 30,000 years with a material, there can still be new things to do with it. It's amazing how he takes something as beautifully simple as paint and makes it new. When I look at his work it's like I'm staring at a new, undiscovered planet or something.

A few weeks ago I was at the St. Louis Art Museum and they had the most impressive room of Richter's work. Not only did they have some of his definitive photo paintings (like Betty) but they also 3 of his large abstractions from the late 80s. When I say large, I mean LARGE. Massive might be a better way of saying it. The three paintings November, December, and January occupy an entire wall, and fill the viewer's entire field of vision. It's like diving into the ocean, and feeling yourself getting swallowed up completely. I'm guessing that they are 10 feet tall, and collectively about 40 feet wide. And they're stunning. Though I know this won't come close to doing them justice, here's December:

He's not just a brilliant painter though, he understands paint, entirely. And he understands the practice of painting.
An example of the way this guy thinks:

One has to believe in what one is doing, one has to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do painting. Once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point of believing that one might change human beings through painting. But if one lacks this passionate commitment, there is nothing left to do. Then it is best to leave it alone. For basically painting is total idiocy. (From NOTES, 1973)

In terms of painting there can only be one Yoda...perhaps he'll take me as his padawan.

Monday, March 29, 2010

City Bird

So, I still haven't gotten the work I painted during winter break photographed so that I could post those images. I know. I'm terrible at making my art a priority. I'll do better. And now I have other paintings that I've started, so I'm going to be even more behind on art-ing. But considering the drought in work that I experienced in recent years, there are worse problems to have. At least I'm painting.

This one is from winter break. I called it City Bird. I don't love that title, it's just what I used. I already gave this one away to a dear friend for her birthday. She loves art and is clever and lovely. Since this one was on the way out, and is delightfully small, I scanned it. No photography needed.

There's an ambiguity to this one that I enjoy. Art isn't blatant. It can't be a flashing neon sign with the meaning spelled out (sorry Bruce Nauman, I didn't mean you...you're clever and ironic and awesome, so you go right ahead.) Subtlety and ambiguity can be so beautiful.

More to come. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Flux Capacitor is Broken

Something is wrong with time. It goes too fast. I was sure this would be the year that I'd blog more, but here it is...a quarter of the way through and I haven't blogged since the New Year. Maybe I just don't think I have enough to say, or don't take the time to make it worthy, or something.

I've recently learned two (completely unrelated) things from two (completely unrelated) friends:
  1. As it turns out..."real bloggers", blog daily. They offer something new and exciting to their readers every single day. I find this both terrifying and exhilarating. Could I be a real blogger? Do I have what it takes? Do I have the potential to be one of those people who put something new into the blogosphere every single day? The mere thought gives me a jolt of excitement. That sort of diligent work could lead to greater understanding, introspection, and if God loves me, intelligent thought. Wow. That'd be sweet. But wait...it could also lead to failure, or at least the feelings of inadequacy that accompany missed deadlines and unused opportunities. I don't think this can be decided right now. I'll get back to you on whether I decide to be a "real blogger" or not.
  2. Sometimes it's the really simple concepts that we forget. A few Sundays ago, I was on the phone with a friend who moved to London, who happens to also be an artist. We continued a discussion we've been having for years about how little time we have to paint. She then reminded me of the idea that art-making doesn't stop. An artist, makes art wherever he goes. I don't mean this in the hippy-dippy creativity touches everything way. I mean that when we have work in process and we think about it while driving to work, or we stop to buy a new kind of paint to use in an upcoming piece, we're still working. Every time I go into my studio and look at a painting, and decide what is or is not working, I'm an artist. Every time I walk into a museum and feel that kinship that a painter feels when he looks at the work of those giants who's shoulders he stands on, I'm an artist. Every time I spend more money that I should at Pearl or Blick, I'm an artist. That's reassuring in a sense. Sometimes it feels more lost than that. Like the pencil you couldn't find when it was right behind your ear.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


A new year's resolution? Not really. The word resolution means the act or process of determining or solving. This new year, I have an artistic situation that I need to bring resolution to.

In 2002, when I first started creating the Little Boxes, I was still painting in a completely different style. Those paintings were, for the most part, painted in the style of the old stuff posted on this blog last year, a sort of stylized abstraction. But I was busy revisited realism, and ultimately falling back in love with representational painting (I painted representationally before the abstract series, back in college.) So without really understand why, I was sort of ignoring my abstract notions.

But they didn't go away. I still sketch the same type of abstract people who populated my earlier work. I draw them on notes and scraps of paper. I doodle them on the corners of meeting agendas. I see them lurking around corners. They watch me when they think that I'm not looking. They won't leave me alone, and they know I'm not painting them. They want to know why...and I don't have an answer.

Well, I didn't. This last week of painting has given me a lot of time to think about my process. During that time I've arrived at an interesting conclusion: I refuse to paint in one style. To work in a definitive manner - to be only a realist or an abstract impressionist or a po-mo post pop whatever - is to create limitations, and I'm just not comfortable with that. This is not a magnificent revelation. I already knew I wanted to Richter it up a little and stretch out the idea of style (Gerhard Richter is a contemporary German painter, who's work absolute denies categorization. He'll paint completely nonobjective, and he'll paint perfect realism.) So I guess what I'm saying is that this idea of not accepting limitations or parameters applies not only to my style of execution, but also to my subject matter. Perfect superflat cartoons, lucious abstraction, thick gooey impasto, gently fuzzed photo-realism...the sky is the limit.

Attached is the last "abstract" painting I did. I think I painted this is about 2005, and then touched it up in 2007. I apologize for the poor quality of the image. As you can see, he loves ice cream. He has friends, and you'll see them soon enough.

Ice Cream, 2007
Acrylic, Collage, Spray Paint on Canvas

Friday, January 1, 2010

Moving Paint

It's Winter Break and I'm in the studio. Though it scares me that my productive time is when I have absolutely nothing else to do, I am reassured that the paint, this time, is movin' like I want it to.

I remember a conversation in college between some friends and I, and we were talking about a particularly attractive girl. She was that sort of fragile and hot art chick. Anyway, the conversation ended with one friend saying, "Yeah, but she sure can move paint." I had never heard this expression used, and for all I know now, it might have been it's first use, though I doubt it. I have used it many times since then though. When I say someone can "move paint" I mean that that particular painter has taken the time and effort to understand the properties of his material.

This week I have been moving paint like crazy. It bends to my will. It follows my orders. When I exhale, and slow my pulse to the rate at which I must to paint, the paint and I sync up and we move like one organic being. It's like in Avatar. The paint and I just lock our little pony tails and we communicate.

I have a lot going right now. I have about 12 paintings on easels/my work table right now and theoretically, I will have them to post by next week. Before I can do that though, I have to paint the following things:
  • The sesame seeds and pickles on a Big Mac.
  • A wild rose.
  • Odwalla orange juice bottle.
  • A CTA pass.
  • Some blurry traffic/brake lights.
  • A doughnut.
  • Pizza.
  • A vintage chubby cupid illustration.
  • Ross & Rachel's first kiss.
  • An old school Fisher Price Little Person.
  • A one-hitter.
  • Peanut butter cookies.
  • Georgia Bulldog.
  • Popcorn.
  • A granite pillar.
  • A piece of college lined notebook paper.
  • Big green polka dots.
  • The original Smallville billboard.
That's a lot for one weekend. I'd better get back to it.