Thursday, January 31, 2013

One Hour and Counting

Hey there cyberspace.  In the matter of one hour, I will be adding a new member to the global population of websites taking up space on the internet.

Officially up and running as of February 1, 2013.

Did I Make That?

Yay! Ice Cream, 2005
Acrylic & Collage on Canvas
24" x 24"
I totally forgot I made this painting, and I don't even have a reason.

I barely remember making it.  I think mostly I was being silly.  It's just a happy little dude who loves ice cream.  Nothing more complex than that. 

But I don't know why I forgot all about it.  

Lately I've been getting a lot of stuff ready for my new website that launches on Friday.  I've been reviewing images, looking through inventories of old work, and just sort of reminiscing in a rather clerical way.  During that process, I have been blown away by the number of pieces that I totally forgot that I ever made. I feel sort of callous to admit that.  Shouldn't my creations have kept a slightly more special place in my heart than all that?  I guess not. 

I think a lot of it has to do with the notion that creativity is a forward momentum.  I don't keep much of my work around.  Sell it.  Get it out of my studio and out into the world.  So once it's gone and out there, it's sort of over for me.  My major concern has to be the next one, not the last one.

I must admith though, it really has been cool to consider the sheer volume of work that I've created.  In the past 15 years, I've made close to 500 paintings and drawings.  

Not to shabby for a guy who sometimes forgets he's an artist for long periods of time.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Weird Little Monsters: Creature Fear

I used to paint like this all the time.  Toward the end of college, and after, I worked loosely.  I let the paint be paint, and didn't force it into rigid representation.  I let it slip and smear and drip.  It was nice, and recently I have been missing painting like that.  The freedom and the looseness.  The opportunity to experiment with color relationships.  

Lately I've been finishing up some small squares and I was considering painting them in a "superflat" manner - like Murakami('s staff.)  Crisp.  Even.  Perfected.  The more I worked though, I decided that they lent themselves nicely to the free and loose paint application style that I have been missing.  I've tentatively called the series Creature Fear, which is named after a Bon Iver song.  (I listen to a lot of Bon Iver.)  Anyway, they happen in a way similar to my sketchbook drawings.  No preparation.  I just see what comes out.  Free association.  I'm not sure what brings about strange little creatures like this, but I associate them with invasion.  They're germs that creep into our bodies.  They're fears that sneak into our thoughts; monsters that show up in dreams; lies that find their way into the light.  

They don't seem like they should be taken seriously.  They seem silly, but like many hidden things that sneak up on you when you least expect it, their impact is usually more serious that we had originally thought.  These are the first two.  I have 10 more, so expect to see them soon.

Monday, January 28, 2013

More Drawings from Sketchbooks: The Mean Teacher

Did you ever have that teacher who seemed to be having the worst day of her life every single day of her life?  Yeah.  I think we all have.

Don't get me wrong, any of us in a classroom have had moments where we're not very pleasant to deal with, but I'm talking about the person who makes this her way of life.  The Mean Teacher is the archetype.  She's the ruler smacking, ear pulling, zeros for nameless papers sadist.

I'm curious what makes this person.  What contributing factors led to the rigidity?  What made someone who lives on free American soil want to be a fascist so badly?  Early toilet training?  A parent as sadistic as she?  

Though it might be easy to dismiss this person as a stereotype, I think any of us who went to elementary school know there is some truth to this drawing.  I should draw a sequel, where her overbearing mother comes back and makes amends and they all live happily after.  Or...where her students team up and overthrow her like the false despot that she is!

Either way.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Inspiration: Coffee

Oil Painting by Michael Naples
I didn't like coffee when I was younger.  Not even in college.  Not even with the rise of Starbucks.  I always appreciated the smell, the culture that surrounded it, and the ice cream that bears its flavor, but I was never a coffee drinker.  I think overall it was an aversion to hot beverages.  You know that scaldy mouth, burnt tongue thing that happens.  I hate that!  Hate it.  So I think that was a big factor.

So what changed?  I entered a ridiculously busy phase of my life, and also opened a coffee shop at school for the kids to raise money for trips.  I had an endless supply of coffee at my disposal, and I also needed a little pick me up a bit more often than usually - so necessity indeed became the mother of invention.

So, now when I need a little focus I resort to legal addictive stimulants?  That makes it sound so scandalous.  But I guess the answer is, "heck yeah."

And who knew is works so well?  I've seen the joke mugs about how much people need it.  But I didn't know they MEANT it.  But man oh man, does it work.  Once I really figured out how motivating coffee can be, I found myself wondering if this is something that everyone knows about, and I'm jut late to the party?  Does the whole world run on coffee and I just didn't clue in?  

Well, either way I'm happy to have finally figured out the motivating power of the bean.

Friday, January 25, 2013

New Artist Statement

As a component of my new website that launches next week, I've reworked by artist statement.  For those of you not familiar with this practice and artist statement is a short piece of text roughly outlining an artist's intentions.  It lets you into his/her head and allows a little insight into the work.  Mine latest revision is as follows: 

We have reasons for making art. Though many of mine involve liking bright colors, shiny things, and pretty clouds and flowers, most are about documentation. Before cameras took over, painting was the way that the human experience was recorded. Now with the rise of the digital age, when one can make instant pictures, documentation of life is covered all too well. But isn't there more? Can’t art still offer a uniquely personal view? Experiences color life, and my mental pictures are not black and white snapshots or digital photos of vacations. They are fragments - broken pieces of the world. The combination of which are powerful pictures of life and the things that have filled it.
So how do I fit into this? Don’t know. Might not even care, but I know I need to document the things I've lived. This world is remarkable, filled with beauty and horror, and I must take note; of experiences, of ideas, and of things that I can't let go of. I am the visual DJ.  I take the parts, I remix them, and I lay down a new track – beautifully the same, and surprisingly different, from the original.
For those of you who have no idea why I put a picture of Cheetos next to my artist statement, my only response is, "Why not." 

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I drew the sketch for how I wanted my website laid out my Junior year of college.  That's be about 1997.  And now, 16 years later, I've almost got the job done.  

Nope. I never procrastinate.

So...after many moons, and much anticipation, I'm pleased to announce that will be up and running on Friday, February 1st.  

Oooh.  I should have a launch a party.

Redemption with Everyday Beauty

I've been on my soap box again lately haven't I?  Sometimes the art philosophy side of my personality gets the best of me.  It whips everything into a fury.  I spent most of college like that, and I have to admit - it's exhausting.  

Since yesterday's post was so critical of a huge portion of society, in an attempt at redemption, I thought it might be a good idea to focus on the beauty of life today.

I save images all the time.  Things from the internet.  Magazine images.  Old photos.  Anything that I think looks cool.  I keep a file both in physical form and on my computer called "everyday beauty."

Here are a few examples.  I credited the photographer if I knew.  Otherwise, please know that these are re-posted images, and I do not hold the copyright.  Enjoy.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Reasons for Painting 3: My Distinctly Unique Point of View

My thoughts are mine, and mine alone.  Painting presents me with an opportunity to share those.  Today, my thoughts drift to the nature of our world, and the way we either are, or are not using it.  

It occurs to me that perhaps we, as a people, don't take this life very seriously.  I mean not that we're too silly or we have too much fun.  I fully condone those choices, but perhaps we don't value it enough.  Maybe we don't respect our time here.  We live in falsehoods.  The existence that we create through Facebook photo tags, status updates, Twitter trendings, and Snapchats is manufactured.  It is not real - which can mean, at times we're living a false life.  Of course, we could be using those things to connect with real people, in real and meaningful ways.  But are we?

We fill life with meaningless rituals - with "supposed to" and "have to."  It is as if we're all trying to prove - to ourselves, to others, to nobody in particular - that what we're doing matters and that we are not just going through the motions.  But we are.  We craft and document how busy we are.  Our friends reply, "way to go" and "keep up the good work."  They enable our pretend lives.  We make ourselves look brave and put-upon that we're handling all that life has given us, and I fear - we're making ourselves look like total jackasses.  Case in point - let's take the Facebook post that I just stole from Google images.

My initial, unvarnished reaction is: You are all complete idiots.  My rational brain usually tells my gut reaction to shut up, and then I apologize to the cosmos for lambasting these poor, hopefully well-meaning strangers.  But I don't mean it.  I do think they're idiots.  But I don't want to.

I want my paintings to show pieces of real.  Pieces of things that have been important.  I want them to be the polar opposite of what I've been describing.  I want them to remind people to see what a rare and special gift we've all been given.  I want them to recognize that the amount of time they spend bitching on Facebook could be channeled into something meaningful.  I want them to know that even though a real life that doesn't involve pretending you're alive is a lot more challenging, it is completely worth it.  I want people to live a life filled with value.  I want it to make them happy.  I want them to stop and ask the simple human question, "what do I need most and how can I make that happen?"  

I just pray that the answer isn't, "get back to my nail polish board on Pinterest."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More Drawings from Sketchbooks: More Mean Kids

Sketchbook Drawing #15, 2010
Ink on Paper
I'm don't think a person has to be too perceptive to infer that my being a teacher just might have something to do with how much I like to I draw misbehaving children.  Let's not look too deeply into that.  Sound good?

To draw these Mean Kids is to draw something that can be related to.  As I mentioned before, there is something relatable about these drawings and that is, for the most part, relatively important to me.  I want people to connect with my work.  I want them to react on a human level.  

Sketchbook Drawing #16, 2010
Ink on Paper
Obviously I want other things too, but we can address that in the next installment of "Reasons for Painting."  For know, understand that I'm not enough of an academic to want to create something that makes great strides in advancing post-modern thought.  No, I'm afraid I'm not that guy.  But I do want people to feel something when they see what I make.

That said, I present a couple more Mean Kids.  Above you'll see that prissy little brat that you know not to leave unattended around babies and small animals.  Below, you'll see that "O'Doyle Rules" type of kid that you know lives by the creed "pound or be pounded."

These drawings are probably born out of simplicity.  When I draw them, I'm not trying to draw anything.  In not forcing it, simple, uncomplicated things come forward and rear their (in this case) ugly heads.

I'm sure a better writer than I could find a narrative in these, but for now we'll just let them live as simple drawings, and know that perhaps someday we'll run into them again.

Hopefully not in a dark alley.


I'm reminded today, on this observed holiday for Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Second Inauguration of 44th US President Barack Obama, of dreams.

Dreams.  Hopes.  Wishes.  Fluffy little feelings that occupy our minds at carefree moments.  Happy little longings.  Far off feelings of things that may never be.  Dreams can be all of those things, but they are also so much more.  

Dr. King dreamed of a better day, and though we have much ground to cover still, we have come so far.  President Obama's journey would not have been possible in Dr. King's day, but it is real today.  I can't think of a more perfect example of the fact that dreams do, in fact, come true.  Many of Dr. King's dreams that he spoke of so beautifully when he stood in front of The Lincoln Memorial on that August day in 1963 have come true.

I think dreams, overall, sort of get a bad rap.  Dreams get accused of being frivolous, but those are not the dreams that matter.  The important dreams are not fluffy clouds.  They are blood spilled.  They are sweat dripping from every pore.  They are dirty hands and frayed nerves.  Those dreams are finding yourself at wit's end, and choosing a new path.

Now I fully admit that a dream, without that effort, is nothing.  Or if it is something, it is little more than a distraction from the void.  

But those important dreams can be acted upon.  Our history taught us that.  We have seen it happen.   I'm reminded of this quote by T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia):
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Inspiration 6: Working

Photo Credit: Chantal Regnault 1983
After reading that Chuck Close quote (that I posted last week) again recently, I can't help but think about how true it is.  

Inspiration, for the most part, cannot be something you wait for.  The little art elves aren't coming.    They're not bringing us magical feelings of creativity.  Inspiration isn't floating in on a summer breeze.  To be inspired is to work toward an idea.  The work feeds other work.  It's inertia.  It's momentum.  To work is to bring about more ideas and more work.  To think about how the work gets made is to think of other ways to make work - it presents options.  It creates choices.

So I guess what I'm saying is...working is good for working.  Weird.

Inside Creativity, Volume Three

To create is to bring something into existence.  And I think that the scariest part of bringing something into existence is allowing it to exist once you've made it.  To do that, the creative process has to end.  Decisions have to have all been made.  Changes have to stop.  No more edits.  No more adjustment.  The work has to stop, and once it does, that marks the beginning of the product's life - when it's individual purpose can be fulfilled.  After all, art has a purpose.  A book must be read.  A painting must be seen.  A play must be preformed. could be the kind of person that creates and hides.  Someone who makes something for the purpose of making it and never offers it up to the world.  But that's weak sauce.  That's cowardly.  Oh, we've all got that squeaky little neurotic voice shouting things inside of heads - "But what if no one likes the work?"  "What if I suck?"  "What if my work is entirely derivative and unoriginal?"  Ultimately, we ask,  "What if my time spent creating was wasted?"

Well, that's an interesting point to make.  One that I think applies to most things.  We don't always succeed.  We fail.  So what?  Worst case scenario, we DO feel like we've wasted our time.  And if our endeavors don't feel valuable, then it can very difficult to continue.  

When you get down to it, we really have two choices.  We can stop that action, knowing full well that we don't do it well and we shouldn't spend our time on it anymore.  OR, and this is a big or, we can learn from what failed, make adjustments, and improve.

OR...we can acknowledge that our time has been valuable and that we don't suck.  Self doubt is a bitch isn't it? 

Painters Painting

In college, my friends and I became a little obsessed with Emile de Antonio's 1972 documentary Painters Painting.  Though the film may appeal strictly to the art geeks among us, it's still worth a watch.

Painters Painting thoroughly delves into the New York art scene between 1940 and 1970.  Through conversation with some of the greatest artists of the 20th Century, we are let behind the curtain to see what the wizards have really been up to.

I recently watched the film again, and was surprised to find even more wisdom and insight this time around.  So if you're interested in creative process, 20th Century Art, painting, or all of the above check this gem out.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

You Don't Have To Like It!

This is Wednesday's post.  Forgot to publish.  Don't you just hate that?

I recently had someone tell me that they didn't really like 20th Century art.  I never really know how to react to that.  Mostly, I guess my initial response it: YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIKE IT!

I think the disdain comes from a lack of understanding.  And pre-understanding should't rush to judgement.  You should never like or not like anything until you really understand it.  In the meantime, one should just accept that it's important.  That it changed things.  That it made a contribution.  Etc.  And if you want to understand it, do the leg work.  Read about it.  Hear lectures.  See it.  Soak it in.

If you don't want to understand it, then you'll probably want to reserve judgement, as we wouldn't want people running around spouting uninformed opinions would we?  What would the internet be like if we all did that?  Oh, wait.  Never-mind.

This rant has been brought to you by the letter R.

More Drawings from Sketchbooks: Mean Kids

Sketchbook Drawing #13
Ink on Paper
I'm not sure why.  But I love to draw mean and nasty little children.  There is a kind of comedy to it.  They make me chuckle. 
Sketchbook Drawing #14
Ink on Paper

I think, at the heart of it, it's about exhibiting and understanding of our base instincts.  Each one of these little monsters seems to be a demonstration of something that we can all relate to.  Greed, aggression, selfishness.  They're all emotions that we each have, and that we know, even if we do try our best to suppress or defeat them.  Here you'll see a couple of the type of kids that's I'm talking about.  To the left is a boy with a rock, and you know perfectly well that he's going to throw that rock.  Hopefully it will be aimed at something like a pond, and not someone like his neighbors.  Below we've got a glutenous girl who is in love with her cheese puffs.  She's shoveling them in with the kind of reckless abandon that makes you hope she is in close proximity to someone who knows the Heimlich maneuver.

Overall, I prefer my art have this sort of honesty - a truth that's buried beneath  something silly.  That sort of layered meaning draws people in, and then slowly reveals what it is really about - light on the surface, then delves into something a bit more meaningful once you've scratched the surface.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Gospel According to Chuck

I recently came across this text from Chuck Close. Brilliant and true. He address the notion of inspiration:
The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lost & Found

Boy & Dog, 2007/13
Ink & Colored Pencil on Paper
This weekend, I found an old line drawing and so I decided to color it (with Prismacolors, of course.)  I saw the boy and thought that I might be able to use him as the main character for the book concept that I started developing over Christmas break.  I ended up scrapping the idea that there needed to be a central character, but I think I'll bookmark this little guy for later on.  He has a fun, whimsical energy that I think could be quite useful in the future.

This ended up being one of those drawings that doesn't feel entirely mine.  It's like I found it.  I mean, I'm sure I drew it, but I don't remember why I originally sketched it, so the lack of intent makes me feel a little guilty.  I guess the guilt stems from me looking at it now and thinking that it's good.  So if it's good, and I don't remember how I did it, then that sucks.  If I drew something good, I'd really like to hope that it wasn't an accident.

I should explain though.  Why do I think that it's good?  Well, it was drawn in ink - no careful layout in pencil first and no eraser smudges.  The line work is confident.  No hesitation in the mark making.  When a person draws without hesitation, I find that impressive.  Also, the shapes are decisive and interesting.  Playful proportion.  Interesting subject matter.  The list goes on and on.  No...I don't remember why I drew him, but I must have ate my Wheaties that day.

I wish it were this simple every time - that the work could just flow freely.  Unencumbered and automatic.  So often it feels contrived and forced, but there is something that happens occasionally when the images just pour forth and I can't really do anything to stop them.  I like those days.  This drawing must have started on one of those days.

I suppose those days have a lot to do with how inside of my own head I am.  I'm sure I psych myself out on busy days when I only have a short amount of studio time, and I try to force it.  But I know better.  I know  I have to stay loose.  I know I have to just keep working and that it will come eventually.

Now...I only need to bridge that gap between knowing it and doing it.  I'll add that to my to-do list.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Inspiration 5: Music

When I'm in the studio working on my most recent project, nothing seems to keep me working quite like music does.  It sets the mood.  It creates a vibe. It maintains pace.  It has been, and continues to be a profound sense of inspiration.

Over the years, I've gone through several albums that defined a particular creative period in a given studio.  When I listen to these albums now, I can't help but be transported back to that place, when that work was being created.  Here are the definitive examples:

1993-94 - Williamsfield High School Art Room
Pearl Jam, Vs. (1993)

It was bitter and angry and hopeful and dreamy...all the things a high school artist should be.  Pearl Jam has always been a favorite of mine, and I think it all has to do with timing.  There comes a point in life when you find that band, at just the right moment, when you absolutely need to hear what it is that they have to say.  Daughter will always be exactly that time in my life.

1994-95 - Carl Sandberg College Ceramics Studio
Counting Crows, August and Everything After (1993)

I loved this album from the moment I bought it back in high school, and I listened to it a lot, but it became a Discman staple in my first college ceramics class.  There was just something about it's rawness.  It was so complex and so basic.  It made me think and ask questions.  It made me wonder.  And isn't THAT howcollege artists are supposed to be?

1998 - Bradley University Painting Studio: 
Jim Croce, Photographs & Memories: His Greatest Hits (1974)

Let me explain...I am not now, nor have I ever been a stoner.  The 70s were long over when I fell for this album.  I didn't sit around drinking Mogen David blackberry wine and pass the hippie lettuce with my friends.  I just liked the sound and energy of this album.  The guys I shared my studio with made fun of me, but I didn't care.  It played and played.  And we drank Foster's oil cans and painted into the night and were utterly convinced that we were at the top of our game.  Hell.  Maybe we were.

1999-2000 - My Studio (The One Under the Funeral Home)
Dave Matthews Band, Before These Crowded Streets (1998)

What can I say?  It was post college and rent was cheap.  My best friend's wife ran a salon in the same building and it made sense.  It was also across the street from a bar, and I would go get white russians in to-go cups.  I wasn't The Big Lebowski, but this was one of the most irreverent times in my life, and I made the most of it.  I made big, colorful works that spoke of love and loss and the beginning of the end of what had been a maniacally fun youth.

2002 - Artabounds Studio at Chicago Children's Museum
Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

Uuugh.  This album changed my life.  Seriously.  I'd never heard anything like it.  I listened to it so much the fall I moved to Chicago.  Over and over again.  Every chord became emblazoned onto my DNA.  It played every time I was alone, or was with anyone who would let me listen to it.  I found myself staying after work, eating french fries from Charlie's Ale House and drawing amazing things without thought or effort.  I think of that time so fondly.

Summer 2003 - The Fine Arts Shop at Tripp Lake Camp
My Morning Jacket, At Dawn (2001)

I didn't know about these guys until my friend Chris passed this gem along to me.  And I played it so much that summer.  At night, when I'd be in the studio by myself painting, it would float out into the Maine night and float up into the trees.  I think there was one night I actually just left "Bermuda Highway" on repeat and let it play.  There's something 

2008-Present - My Studio (My House)
Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)

I can't stop listening to this album.  It's perfect.  As a whole, or each song.  This is one of those things that reminds you that good art - really good art - isn't something that happens everyday.  Sometimes something comes along that is so much more special that you have to stand up and take notice.

I think overall, this album/studio connection has something to do with symmetry.  I think I loved these albums because they sounded like the work looked, or like I wanted it to look.

I had originally meant to attach a song to each of the Little Boxes, but realized the mechanics of that would probably be too daunting.  Maybe someday, when Little Boxes are prominently on display on the second floor of the MCA in Chicago, you'll be able to walk up to them with earphones, and plug into a jack by the title and hear the work along with me.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

More Drawings from Sketchbooks: Longing

Sketchbook Drawing #12, 2010/2013
Pencil on Paper
I don't know what it is that this little robot needs, but he does seem to need something that the octopus seems unwilling or unable to offer him.  She hasn't abandoned him entirely, but she also has gone away.

But he's still trying.  He's still reaching for something that's probably not there.

I don't really think about subject matter when I do these sketchbook drawings, but when I turn away and then look back, there is almost always something there.  I'm no psychologist, and I don't really know the human mind, but there must be something to that.  There must be some stories that we find a way to tell whether we've decided to or not.

I don't know if this story is real.  If I'm the robot longing for more, or if I'm the octopus trying to hang onto things that need me more than I need them, but I guess it might be.  And I suppose a little dash of truth is enough to make anything interesting enough to pay attention to.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Degrees of Reality

Damien Loeb
Can't You Take A Joke, 2004
Oil on Linen, 108" x 96"
A painter's ability to accurately represent the 3-dimensional space of the physical world on the 2-dimensional picture plane is nothing to be taken lightly.  It's a sticky business that takes much work to fully understand.  It's trickery.  It's magic.  It's witchcraft.

That concise way of arranging the paint so as to reproduce each subtle nuance of the original source takes patience and understanding.

I've been struggling with that form of realism lately.  I can do it (see below)...but it takes so much time.  And I try to rush.  But you can't rush something like that.  You have to work in that deliberate way, in complete control.  I have such a hard time quieting my mind enough to allow myself to get into that mode, but when I have taken the time to work that way, I've been utterly pleased with the results.  Note to self: chill out and take your time.  I feel like maybe I've ignored that note before.

I love Realism though.  It gets a bad wrap sometimes because it's such a traditional method. In today's postmodern climate, where such importance is placed on the conceptual side of things, I think we sometimes need to remind ourselves of the respect owed to this skill set.  The ability to achieve a convincing representation of reality is increasingly more uncommon, and for those who have taken the time to master that ability - hats off.

Pictured, is a painting by Damien Loeb.  He and I e-mailed back and forth a few times back in the 1990s.  He was one of the emerging golden boys of the New York scene at the time.  Mary Boone had taken him on.  His name was everywhere.  I was in college, trying to find the fast track to being the next Basquiat or something.  Damien did a good job explaining that there is not fast track.  Not from Central Illinois to Chelsea. He explained that if I wanted that life, I needed to move there and struggle and starve.  Before the folks with the money give it up, they'd want to see someone dance for it.  That is beside the point though.  The point I want to make is that he does realism well - really well.  He shows things as they are, but polished.  He was high def before high def was high def.  Don't get me wrong, he also has this creepy cool David Lynch vibe, but it's all still very good.  Check out the gallery on his site if you get a chance.

And next time you stare down something that looks so real you think you could just touch it, and it's really nothing more than paint smeared on cloth, take a longer look.  Drink it down.  Soak it in.  Someone made that image with a brush, and a lot of time, and that my friends is not as common as one might think.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

An Old Standard

When I was 17, my high school librarian gave me a poster.  I don't know where she got it, and I don't remember if she had a reason for giving it to me, other than she must have thought I'd like it.  I think I thought it was sort of goofy at the time, but for some reason, I kept it.  I came across the poster again in college, and this time it struck a chord with me.

It's called "How to Be An Artist" and it's graphic prose from someone named Sark.  It's a nice allegorical look into all the little reminders that those of us living a little ways off the beaten path need.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Intimacy of Small Paintings

I really enjoy working large - big grand paintings making an impact and commanding a room.  There is an undeniable power in that.  It's a statement.  It's impactful.  Some of my best paintings have been feet by feet.  The King of Nothing Special is 4' x 5'.  Galatea was 5' x 7'.  The Struggle was 8' x 10'.  Working big is fun.  Big brushes slopping around.  High energy.  Full movement.

However, I also work small.  I think it developed out of a space constraint.  I just didn't have room for an 8' canvas.  Also, at the time I began to predominantly make small paintings, that was when The Little Boxes took off.  The Little Boxes are only four inch squares.  Most of the paintings from the Self Portrait Series are four or six inch squares.  Working small is tidy.  It's easily organizable.  It's neat.

There is more to it though.  A small painting seems the more appropriate conduit for small ideas.  For little notions and private memories.  There is an intimacy.  To view the subject the viewer must get closer.  He must enter the space nearer the painting.  The intimacy of a small painting lends itself to telling secrets.  To paint one's secret thoughts or quiet memories onto a giant plane would seem vulgar.  

But quietly, closely, little paintings do quite nicely.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Tomorrow marks a return to routine, which I admit I welcome.  I'm quite certain that I function best with a fair amount of structure.  I won't say that I haven't been creative over my holiday, because I have.  But I will admit that I am not as comfortable with the loosey goosey way of doing things that was once the norm for me.

So back to grind tomorrow - and onto whatever the future holds.