art

Cute bunny rabbits

So I’m back in the studio painting cute bunny rabbits.

Open studios has come and gone, and now my studio is totally cleaned out. Totally. New drop cloths. It’s this sterile doctor office blue drop cloth now.

So as I began to put some details on Mr. Cute Bunny Rabbit no1, I started to outline this great eye detail, Just where the fur meets. Tori Amos‘s version of Slayer‘s “Raining Blood” is playing. And I flick the brush over the canvas, get more water, flick, switch brushes, paint, paint, then some more water and now some more white. No, water. Get some more wat — splash!

And that is how, my friends, you test the water capacity of the new doctor office blue drop cloth.


He did it all for you

This piece was originally entitled “A son to a father”.  I decided against this title because I didn’t want my peers to think it was about me and my father.

This idea started festering when I met other men in the workforce who had young sons. They would talk about them, and it didn’t take me long to realize what they were doing wrong. It wasn’t my place to say, and on the occasion where I dropped subtle hints, I was always dismissed as a young artsy type with a goofy moustache that didn’t know anything. I contend they were afraid of the truth.

When you loose a parent, you develop a new understanding as you link up events in your head in reflection on their life. Unfortunately this happens after the fact, and was never seen as an asset in my wisdom.

Another interesting aspect is the fact that some of these men were more or less talked into having kids from their spouse. To clarify – a lot of parents truly want to have children and plan accordingly. Most of us have a strong drive to reproduce, as it’s built into our genetic makeup (a drive I fortunately did not receive), but sometimes this drive is paired up with inappropriate timing or other obstacle. So in many situations the male doesn’t want the added responsibility, at least just yet. And it takes about a whole three seconds to realize where a parent fits on this spectrum when you see them in Safeway. After all, no one knows how to be a parent, they just (hopefully) do the best they can when the time comes.

When men have a son, a whole new dimension opens up and a sense of pride is developed. It’s almost a god complex when they consider they made what will become a man in their own image.

To some, that child represents an unconditional love that will most likely morph into a love-hate relationship as adolescence sets in. And parents know this. You get caught in a catch 22; if the child is the same sex as you, you know what they are in for and it’s terrifying to watch. If they are the opposite sex, you ultimately will never fully understand them.
But I digress.

So the men that originally got my gears turning were very good at getting up everyday and going to work, to provide and build a good home life. But I always wondered, when I met these children, what they were really providing for the child, emotionally and spiritually. The family I feel sorry for the most involves the father who insinuated he was waiting until his boys were a bit older so he could really bond with them.

I wasn’t able to communicate to him just how detrimental his process was.


A diary of sorts…

Everyone knows that painting is a diary of sorts, and it is no surprise to be reminded of this as I start to refactor the galleries on my site.

I never know exactly how to display my work as many pieces have little or no relation to another while others do (some are series spanning years), not to mention the differences in style I jump between. Chronological order just seems the best way to conquer this beast.

What I wasn’t prepared for is the the way my analytic mind gave into the emotions of pieces ordered throughout the years. Not that these are unresolved, but when I think of a piece, I know exactly where I was and what I was doing when I started it, as well as when I finished it. Not only physically, but also mentally. Upon thinking about or sometimes handling a piece, I am transported to the time and space of wading through the ego or stepping into the shadow. Looking at the whole, I can recognize large sets of time correlated with events that produced a specific kind of work, and other time/event combinations where I was complacent and the reasons why. It is not so much that one understands things better in reflection, but that one cannot fully understand things while working through them.

The daunting task before me is leveraging this knowledge to try and further understand the why’s and how’s in the big picture of my work as a whole, as a reflection of life. Any creative outlet is, as is life, an experiment.


Don’t stand in the shadow of my hammer

Hammer


Surgery

I performed major surgery on a painting last night. It was hard, you never know how it’s going to go and to top it off, this was the ‘non reversible’ kind. It is so easy to ruin a piece if you are not careful, but you get to the point where it isn’t working and impossible to do nothing.

This wasn’t as hard as what came next.

I have a small pile of canvases that have initial compositions sketched on them; the ideas are well formed, but not 100% ‘there’. I have to force myself on a (semi) regular basis to do housekeeping and go through said pile.

Last night I pulled out a piece that I started years ago and really thought would evolve into a great work. As I studied it for the millionth time, I realized I had to say goodbye to this old friend. It was very painful but I knew it had to be done. Artists are made from ideas and our work is an extension of them. When a piece doesn’t work and needs to be put down, there is this weird feeling of loss that you have to come to terms with.

So as Depeche Mode (classic, right?) rang out at ear splitting volume I white washed the idea I had so many years ago and tried so many times to make work. I really thought this one would ‘go somewhere’ but now it is apparent where that somewhere is — a 180 from where it was.


The perpetual problem of producing

Recently I’ve tried to cement a few ideas into some semblance of creative expression, though nothing has come to fruition. Now at the tail end of my second solo show, I feel depleted. At first when the show went up, I had incredible ideas and energy: new compositions were still coming and I was working towards finishing several pieces I started while preparing for the show.

Now I spend hours in my studio into the late night, with half finished canvases staring at me in mockery. The mouths of half formed figures laugh at my impotence; fingers from disembodied hands point accusations of fraudulence. Is it over?

In times like this, I honestly feel like I may never finish another painting again. How can I have nothing left to do with so much to say?

While I recognize this has happened before, I cannot escape the finality of this feeling. I remember when it happened last and being on the phone with Tonka outside of the office building where I was working. He suggested meditation as a method of clearing/centering my mind. It helped a bit, but sometimes nothing seems to kick start the creative engine.

Contention breeds creativity, but this is ridiculous.

I continue to sketch during the day, working out possibilities over coffee, milkshakes, and sammiches. Some ideas have potential, yet they soon dissolve into ambivalence when I consider them mere minutes later. Now it seems as I am trying too hard, which never works…


Embrace the dark

It is obligatory… whenever I show someone new my website or Facebook page, their response is “your work is dark”.

What the fuck does that mean? Dark as compared to what? I wonder if Tim Burton got these responses before he was big (or still does).

I don’t really think of my work as dark, but I know that it makes some people uncomfortable. It is confrontational on purpose, and if someone thinks it is dark, chances are they see something inside themselves reflected back, possibly afraid to examine further. I have sabotaged meeting people by sending a link to my site first. I have ended conversations with my work. Once Tonka had to leave the room. Mind you, I’m not complaining, it’s a great filtering tool.

It is not art without a reaction. The answer to that timeless question, ‘is it art’?

So I have made a decision. I will embrace the darkness. And if you thought my work was ‘dark’ before…