Sep 16, 2012

The Invisible Pyramid

I seem to have this skill of stumbling upon the weirdest books at second-hand shops that grapple with our place in the cosmos. Here are some bits of poetic language from my recent find, The Invisible Pyramid:

"time glimpsed through a blowing curtain of dust"
"Man himself is the solitary arbiter of his own defeats and victories"
"compulsive vertigo of vast distance and even more endless time"
"I dream deeper, slipping back like a sorcerer through the wood of time"
"We no longer stare at the stars or think of the unreal. Do not repeat this. I think we are animals."
"Indeed the cloud itself was symbolic. It represented time in inconceivable quantities--time, not safe, not contained in Christian quantity, but rather vast as the elemental dust storm itself."
"a silence so profound, a silence so complete that the soul feels penetrated by a sort of religious terror."
"Man cannot restore the body that once shaped his mind."

"Out of a spoken sound, man's first and last source of inexhaustible power, would emerge the phantom world which the anthropologist....calls culture. Its bridges, towers and its lightnings lie potential in a little globe of grey matter that can fade and blow away on any wind."
"A name is prison, God is free"
"To speak of man as 'mastering' such a cosmos is about the equivalent of installing a grasshopper as Secretary General of the United Nations."
"Nature gambles, but she gambles with constantly new and altering dice."
"the flaw is in the vessel itself"
"Infinite love cannot be expressed in finite room. Yet it must be infinitely expressed in the smallest moment...Only so is it in both ways infinite."
The price of living:
"It is, though overlooked, the discontinuity beyond all others: the separation both of the living creature from the inanimate and of the individual from his kind. These are star distances."
Captain Ahab: "All my means are sane, my motive and my object mad."
Buddhist saying: "Thou canst not travel on the path before thou hast become the path itself."
"Men may....use beautiful or deathly machines and yet have no true time sense, no tolerance, no genuine awareness of their own history. By contrast, the balanced eye, the rare true eye of understanding, can explore the gulfs of history in a night or sense with uncanny accuracy the subtle moment when a civilization in all its panoply of power turns deathward."
"...because with understanding arise instruments of power, which always spread faster than the inventions of calm understanding."

I'll keep updating this post as I read!

Sep 15, 2012


Sometimes you can be so close to your work that you don't see something really obvious.        
For example, today it occurred to me just how important titling my work is to the work itself. I realized this when I decided to make a list of reoccurring phrases that I use in my songs and paintings. What I have so far is:

Radical Light (from a poem by A.R. Ammons)
Myth of Boundaries (from an AMAZING book by Wilson Harris)
Frontier (a word I use for paintings that have a really novel space)
Wilderness Surface (a phrase I use for paintings where the novel space is primarily created through texture)
Portal Pusher (break on through to the other side, baby)

Hm. I guess I'll just keep on collecting words. To live you need books, words to save and keep with you. Words trailing behind you when you walk, floating above your head when you sleep. To die, you won't need a book or prophecy. These are words you can't save, although they'll be the bridge to the next living soul who picks up your golden track.

I know that's a bit depressing, but I saw an opportunity to expound on some lyrics and I took it! "Softly, softly you fall apart. And you won't need, a book or prophecy. Words you can't save."

Without poetic thinking, language is just a crude tool and a prison.

Jul 1, 2012

Keeping it Snappy

As someone who is predisposed to an unhealthy amount of self-analysis, here are some of the things I consider to drive away the fear/anxiety and keep the studio practice spritely:

Joy gives you power.

My variety of painting is like any necessary human expression such as singing or dance.

Fuck it.

It's about play, so how are you getting so down about it?

I know I've made something worth saving before. It will happen again. Have faith.

You are totally freaking free!! This is your chance to make real all or any of those things bouncing through your skull.

Don't be impatient. Let the painting reveal itself to you through the ACT of painting, not just in THINKING about it.

Judgements you make don't need to carry so much positive or negative weight. This is from a part of you concerned with illusory ideas of success/failure. As long as you're thinking of those ideas, you certainly won't make a good painting!

May 28, 2012

Portal Pusher

In the constant ruminating over my paintings, I keep thinking about hitting the pavement. I think about that peculiar sensation, the sudden awareness of the physical. It's funny, I used to think the more appropriate scenario was the moment during a jump (or fall) just before you start to come back down. No longer! Mind versus asphalt.

What the hell am I talking about?? I'm talking about multiple takes on reality. On the one hand, I am desperate for magic, desperate for a portal, or a sudden change. I know that I occasionally experience something beyond the sum of whatever is unfolding, but I lack the ability to describe it. It's me, floating away on my bicycle. It's my mind before hand touches canvas.

On the other hand, I am hyper-aware of the impossibility for a real examination of this magic. The impossibility of fully and really passing through a portal. I know that it slips away as soon as you turn to see it head-on. I know that I'm a damned fool. It's me, kissing the ground. It's paint hitting paint, swirling, scraping, pushing back.

It's not a dignified battle. It's mud-wrestling. Painting isn't dead, it's the perfect medium for the times. Moving paste around a flat surface, sometimes pretending it's not actually flat. People ask, why can't people write music like Mozart now? Because the world he wrote to/for/about...that's not our reality. Tough nuggets. 

May 11, 2012

Ann Coxon Quote

"The art of 'falling without hurting yourself' is about developing a skill. It is about letting go of rigidity and inhibitions, making a statement, a leap, yet landing scathed. For an artist, this translates as learning to be confident in one's ability to express oneself, remaining strong despite the vulnerability of continually revealing inner thoughts, desires, feelings or motivations. From then on, it's about making a habit of creating, continuing to develop and to 'hang in there' day to day."

-Ann Coxon from her book on Louise Bourgeois

Mar 14, 2012

The Space Between

It hit me like a hammer today (again) that painting/drawing really comes down to describing relationships (duh). I guess I always know that even though it may not be in the front of my mind.

I looked around my studio today and realized that what I'm chasing right now is not a play off of a landscape-type space in order to describe an unspeakable feeling, not just a "new world", but some very discrete forms and their relationship to one another. Usually, lately, I build a whole space, rising up together...but I'm getting back to bluntness and silliness holding hands and staring at you from the canvas. It's a relief that I realized this more consciously today because now I can go after this idea with more focus.

This idea, that painting is about relationships can get really complex really fast when you consider that painting/drawing can be 'about' not only the relationships between people (with or without actually depicting them) but also relationships between existing physical forms. This is where my mind usually gets blown. Can I really examine, explore, describe the unspoken between people through abstraction? I think yes, it's possible. Can I really do all this and also utilize the conventions of pictorial space? Is it necessary? Should I completely drop all conventions and be more 'purely' abstract? I think the reason I turn away from that idea is that the relationships that I want to explore are between myself, another person(s), the entirety of physical space and the viewer.

The problem also arises when I realize that I'm approaching this from distinctly different ways. 'Radical Light' for example (a painting that is already is on the blog) is about the relationship between myself and the well...planet Earth. More specifically, it tries to make real the character of ecstasy (insufficient word) and awe (insufficient word) that I experienced. But these recent paintings seem to actually kind figurative (with the exception of one). The forms aren't scapes, they are more like characters, like the work right after grad school. Anytime there is a change in the studio it has me scrambling for answers. But also, these might just be different 'modes' or categories that just exist in my practice and maybe I should just embrace them both! The Radical Light paintings and the Negotiating Distance paintings.

Mar 8, 2012


What kills me about so many great artists is the precision of their words in handling difficult and elusive concepts. This is just tonight's example. There's always a little poetic joy in my mind (tiny parade) when I see another artist take a word like a pushpin to their work.

Jonathan Lasker

Mar 6, 2012


In regards to the last post-- Periods of rapid expansion can really take a toll on that 'protective' part of the identity. Rapid expansion also including paradigm shifts, large influxes of new information, new surroundings, new risks, basically-- change. I can say I've been through a lot of that lately and I've been doing a lot of really dingy things. I have felt amazing, but just really forgetful (more than usual) and a little scattered. It's not a totally unfamiliar feeling, but I can say that it's been awhile.

The problem is at the intersection of that expanding sphere of your creation-mind and your daily life. The rapid growth of one seems to render you childlike or even infantile as you're trying to digest the new information. Not only that, but the call of the growing creation-mind is so strong that many daily responsibilities seem pretty much irrelevant. Well, they might be irrelevant but it sure it nice to have gas, water and power. Plus you just become exhausted. Time to rest up and build back that adaptive, shock-absorbing part of one's identity.

Feb 12, 2012


I feel a much clearer sense of how to proceed in the studio right now. Much clearer than ever, actually. There's no doubt that finding other avenues of expression has facilitated this clarity. Anxiety that one clings to ("I'm incapable of ....") outside the studio MUST inhibit creation within the studio. These self-imposed boundaries we all create serve to keep us comfortable (and in some cases focused, I guess) but also forever restricted.

It seems like an artist's identity has to be simultaneously focused and fluid to manage some kind of productive sanity. The focused part is... fairly untouchable, nearly indescribable. I imagine this like a hidden engine room where crazy amounts of fuel are being consumed. Then around that I imagine so much protective layering: adaptive, gel-like, seemingly casual and very absorbent. Anyone ever seen that old Kung-fu movie, The Drunken Master?? Yeah, like that.

Jan 25, 2012

Artist's Statement

Here I go, at it again. I swear I've really nailed it this time. Before I edited, first I made a catalogue of all the paintings I consider "my best". Thankfully, they all made sense together AND erased a lot of the anxiety I tend to feel when the lesser paintings are included. This is the benefit to being brutal. So I'm not going to post the statement but I do think it's interesting to look at the keywords in it. This list could probably stand on its own as a statement.

Chasing, earnest, wonder, natural, frivolous, dark, brutal, power, nature, horrible, ridiculous, consumption, whipping, playground, mania, awe, clarity, humor, frolic, process, mastication, landscape, playful, stripping, abstraction, freedom, new, strange, specific, novelty, absurdly, project, discovery, painting, impossible, color, seduces, confounds, unseen, terrain, explore.