Aug 31, 2015


Go to there
Do not speak, to me 
Make silently, do not speak
There, to me
Your eyes may gently
Linger on
The grit of the page
Linger on, a silence
Not dark
a vastness waits for us
A sustenance, In silence
We intuit 
We hope
We feel its rumble in our shaking knees
And we form strength in unspoken 
Unions of making

Jun 10, 2015

Does this riot gear make me look fat?

I found this great essay of a dadaist talking shit about painters...bear with me folks, or don't...but I got really excited by this last night:
    "Oh those dear fellows, Maurice Denis and Charles Guerin. What a kick in the ass I'd like to give them! Oh jumping Jesus Christ Almighty! How phony is the ideal of Maurice Denis. He paints women and children all naked amid nature, a thing that you simply do not see nowadays. To look at his'd think that children brought themselves up and that shoes could be resoled for nothing. How far we are from railway accidents: Maurice Denis ought to paint in heaven for he never heard of dinner-jackets and smelly feet. Not that I find it very bold to paint an acrobat or a man shitting; on the contrary, a rose executed with novelty seems much more demoniacal."
    "The chief thing that will be noted at the Salon is the place that has been assumed by intelligence among so-called artists. Let me say right at the start that in my opinion the first requirement for an artist is to know how to swim. I also feel that art, in the mysterious state corresponding to form in a wrestler, is situated more in the guts than in the brain, and that is why it exasperates me when, in the presence of a painting, I evoke the man and all I see is a head. Where are the legs, the spleen and the liver?
    That is why I fell nothing but disgust for a painting by a Chagall or Jackal, that shows you a man pouring kerosene into a cow's ass-hole, when even real madness does not appeal to me because it manifest only a brain, while genius is nothing but an extraordinary manifestation of the body.
     Henri Hayden. If I speak first of this painter, it is because Madame Cravan's hat went into the manufacture of his paintings. And manufactured it is indeed. Everything in it is out of place, muddy, crushed by the cerebral. I'd rather stay under water for two minutes than face to face with this painting: I should feel less suffocated. Values are arranged in it, to make a good impression, whereas in a work that issues from a vision the values are merely the colors of a luminous globe. The artist who sees the globe has no need to manipulate his values, which will always be false. Hayden has not seen the globe, for he has at least ten paintings on his canvas.
     A bit of good advice: take a few pills and purge your spirit; do a lot of fucking or better still go into rigorous training: when the girth of your arm measures nineteen inches, you'll at least be a brute, if you're gifted."   [Cravan, Arthur. "Arthur Cravan: Exhibition at the Independents." Dada, the Dada Painters and Poets: An Anthology. By Robert Motherwell. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1981. 5-7.]
     Arthur's said two things I've been unable to articulate: the importance of the whole body in painting (the anti-quip) and the essential quality of a vision. There's no reason to summarize further. However, it also brought into focus the desperate, narcissistic neediness that exists now...well, everywhere (because when do you read a contemporary writing like his?). Not to say that I want to cultivate being an asshole, I actually think I'd find that nearly impossible. Not only is it just against my nature, but I suffer from the same fear of confrontation that most people do: a fear that is probably more a fear of being wrong than it is a desire to be nice.
     Back to the point, I want to cultivate being an asshole at the right time because being nice in our culture means fuck-all anymore. Maybe we could drown all the actual assholes and teach all the nice people to say what they actually think. There, culture saved. It probably would because I bet most of the actual assholes are at the ground zero of planet destruction stroking their persian cats. What a lovely image. Oh wait, there is no ground zero for planet destruction anymore. Hyperobject
     To bring it back to peacefulness, if you confront me about something I've done that you don't like or understand maybe I can:
1.) shed some light on my motivations
2.) realize you have a point and change my thinking

Here's a video that speaks to this narcissism by artist Ryan Trecartin:

It will make you feel pretty dirty but there are some perfect moments in there.....I think worth sticking through for the whole thing.

Feb 4, 2015

VMFA Fellowship!

Well, I've been telling them for years... but the VMFA has finally concluded that I am, in addition to being a number one cheese deliverer and chicken tempura distributor, a professional painter!!

Since I do love a list...



2. While this photo was taken in Joe's adjacent studio, the temperature is the get the point
3. Holla

Forest Bathing (fear not the landscape)

I'm still here! Let's see if I can beat my two posts a year habit in 2015. Unlikely, but hope springs eternal, even for boneheads.

More incremental progress in the studio as per usual. I sold some paintings at the end of last year which gave me a little buoyancy to carry me into what will be a new body of work.

I'm done apologizing for the landscape that constantly appears in my otherwise 'abstract' work. I'm not even sure to whom I was apologizing or why!

What made me accept this into the image? Because, even though the idea of painting mimetically from the landscape feels like the wrong way to go, I still find myself building images in the manner of a landscape. I find myself doing this not just out of habit- let's be clear. I broke myself of that habit and found some interesting results in grad school and beyond. This penchant is coming from another desire in me: to put it simply, to relate to the landscape. And let's be real, these "landscapes" are still pretty damn abstract. I was taking inventory of the things I set out to accomplish:

1. I want complex space in the work.
2. I want the colors I see in life (even if I don't need to paint the object)
3. I want to seduce the shit out of the viewer (people do love the whiff of the familiar or archetypal)

Of course, I could still do all three of those things without allowing the landscape in.

4. I want the paintings to have a clearer (but still enigmatic!) relationship to that which is visibly universal.

Enter the scape! The change happened in paint first, as it should be. I painted over this small piece that just never quite delivered and ended up with the most bizarre little "street scene":

While that had me scratching my head, I painted this:

which is decidedly tree-like… sorry for the glare
and then this:

which is probably the most traditional painting I've done in a while...

I'm not saying these are great, but they are little footholds, and I want to go somewhere new. Also, I like the idea of giving the viewer a foothold also...right before I pull it away and go somewhere far out. I'm piecing this together with some other changes, resolutions, etc:

5. To pay more attention to varying textures
6. To build more patterns of mark-making (not so many one-offs)
7. Pay better attention to value

From that comes this:

I need to fix a composition issue there... but Omicron Theta IV wasn't built in a day....
I'm thinking of titling that one the Holy Mountain after one of my favorite movies. Too much for one post. Maybe I'll beat my two post a year record after all.

Feb 3, 2015

All Up In the Grey Area

The favorite dance of a painter is what happens after someone asks, "What makes a work of art meaningful?" or "What is the meaning of this?"

The dance has developed over the ages, not because the artist lacks the answer but because the answer so often does not satiate most people asking. Here's the pattern: question is asked, response is delivered, querent stares (if they're nice they'll try and help you out), artist stumbles on words because things just got awkward, querent looks skeptical, artist gets freaked out and blurts something vague, unintelligible or just completely unrelated.

That does sound like a "me problem", doesn't it? Well, yes. But once I recognize a pattern like that, I fall right into it.


If anyone read this blog, I would no doubt get all kinds of responses to this...but the common zen-savvy answer goes something like:

A painting simply is meaningful if it is more than the sum of it's parts: that the whole somehow transcends the crude bits. 

Another version I've read/heard/experienced is:

The painting looks back at you.  OR The painting has a real palpable presence in a room.

So maybe now you understand why this answer is not acceptable for a lot of people. You now have a whole area of grey…a wide chasm for debate to ensue over which piece in here is meaningful. This is in contrast to the lens through which we usually view images, namely, "Do I like it?" The real reason this, "the painting has a soul" type answer is eye-roll-inducing to most people is:

1. The answer is fluid (changes even within a single viewer)
2. The answer relies on a judgement from the viewer (varies between viewers)
3. The meaning is not reliant on a single particular technique (although the meaning does arise out of the technique used). In other words, there is no hierarchy of technique aside/outside of the painting.
4. It carries the whiff of the metaphysical- and that is a polarizing whiff, believe-you-me. Yes...I suppose it is scary to think we might not know and control everything about our existence.


A lot of strange, new exciting experiences can develop if we fight this impulse to immediately dismiss that which doesn't immediately ring your bell. We might even...grow *gasp*