Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Chaotic Order (again?) a new translation

thinking of both the screen prints and the acrylic paintings....

New Chaotic Order, what is that? other than a title to that blue cycle print I made in September with much difficulty?

It gets me thinking about the repetition of a small matrix to create a slightly disordered sort of random new matrix that is almost 100% repeated, but not completely, and only for a very short time, then probably not reproducable in the future.
I suppose that, in many ways, it's the entropic side of the chaos theory conversation.

Without regard to the verity of the above thought train, it gives me a new idea. Instead of using the same screen in a variety of ways, to make an edition of multiples, I should use a variety of screens, in the same sequence, but placed in a different position on each piece of paper in the suite.

The order of the process will be the same in each iteration, but the collective image on each sheet will be different. It will be an experiment in movement and will. If I position the screens by hand, I cannot possibly make a mark in the same place on each sheet. I can get close but not the same place. It's a demonstration of the failure of will in that respect. But, the intention and effort are will itself. And, when I chose to change the position, to consiously be different, then it's an obvious demonstration of will in a successful (if not simplistic) light.

And yet, if the order of screens, during the process, is the same on each page, as well as the ink, then structure, will, contrast, tension, repetition, accident, chaos, chance, process and time are all discussed in a sort of visual hermeneutics, in which the challenge lies in the progressive translation throughout the process, which will dictate the conditions of every following decision. And, when the suite is finished, the appearance of relationship between the pieces will be obvious, but the degree and specifics of the relationship will be subject to translation.

The best way to explore this, to start the translation, is to make the repetitions that don't mimick each other, pile it on, layer it up cover what happens to get covered and hope the transparency allows ore translation than speculation. Much like the repetition of the acrylic paintings.

For screenprints, I'll make a suite of 21 and use the screens I have now (to start). A new screen might be needed, but I'll let the process dictate that.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

art and water

Although this was the last one completed in the series, it shows the inspiration for the 21 paintings/drawings that I made at the end of last year.

I am rebuilding the main Art and Water site, and after nuking a few things by accident, decided to work backwards and build the galleries from slide show to front page. The contact sheet style page for this series is done, along with the slide show of larger versions.

Each one is done on 22" x 30" Rives BFK print paper using thick transparent acrylic paint. It's hard to see in the photos, but the dry paint looks as though it could still be moving when you see it in person.

Now, if I could just find a place to show these for a few weeks and have an excuse to frame them...

Monday, December 08, 2008

just drawing for fun

kind of between projects, but feeling the itch, so drawing randomly in front of the TV
I've obviously been working on wave shapes for a long time so it comes out subconsiously
anyway, just for fun

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Monoprint Screenprints

made as the process of pulling multiple prints starts to get wound up, too tight, and the urge to draw quickly comes to the surface

stemming from the fact that I have a load of acrylic ink in a screen, and a desire to paint and compose more loosely, relfecting a less ordered sense of subject while creating a direction of movement that is not cyclical, except, perhaps, in the familiarity of the mark and pattern of gesture

sometimes random, forceful and surrendering to chance, while occasionally lucid and decisive, marks are made quickly so that I may jump on the passing whim and float in unison long enough to capture the fleeting moment before it breaks apart again

similar intents from different directions
similar forms with different intents
bask in each other's presence, crash, combine, coexist, repel, and resist each other in the inherent tension of motion

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


It's the name of the piece (edition of 5) as well as the month of posting.
It's not a coincidence.

The seasons effect abstract work more than observational work. If I were currently painting landscapes, I'd have the option of consciously changing temperature, color, mood. While working with non-observational pieces, in an expressive form, the sub-conscious impact of the given season is unknown until it is already expressed on the paper or canvas. I can't help it until I have seen it expressed.

It is scattered, fractured (probably not fractal), uncertain change in which layer upon layer of transitional states are apparent.
Forms, shapes, patters are both obvious and not.
It is a dream-like state of semi-lucidity whos interpretations must be made loosely without assuming any concrete properties.

It is simply an expression of a collective impression of similar moments and reactions to the last days of November and the first day of December, in which the light is blue, days are short, a dusting of snow barely covers patches of fallen leaves while the gray sky's winds indicate the seasonal change, and the last few degrees of warmth are escaping the rivers' water as it falls and churns while reflecting the steely sky and iron ground of rustling leaves.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Late Fall (another turbulent river shoot)

This is a monoprint using screens. Monoprint means that I only made one in this particular configuration. It's what happens sometimes when I get thinking of screenprinting like painting instead of reproducing for the sake of editioning.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

watercolors from Monhegan Island

I thought it would be nice to post some images from the Camp Kawanhee groups on the island this summer. Some of these pieces are very fun.

click the link below to see a short slide show I built with them

Sunday, November 23, 2008

drawing impressions

while teaching I get moments in which the students are working and I need something to do. Best to leave working students alone. Not enough time to really get into something, because invariably someone has a question or needs help. But, I learned to draw fast and enjoy scribbling quickly.

It's a moment in which I expect nothing. Results do not matter. The only thing that matters is the act of observing and making a mark. It feeds a primal, childish desire to simply draw, for the sake of drawing.

The above drawing was done (between questions) on Monhegan Island; children sitting on the rocks, drawing the beach, water, boats, and rocks.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

W.P.A. (1932 - 1943)

a program that (probably) helped kick the U.S. into center stage of the art world

Ranger Doug makes reproductions of the national park posters from the era.

a very brief visual overview of the variety of posters made for different programs

a general art program blurb from wikipedia

I can't imagine that so many American artists would have pushed to the 1950s avant guard wihtout the encouragement of the WPA

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Olive Ayhens

spent a year at American University, while one of the painting professors was on leave for a year.
AU has evolved into an odd mix of both conceptual/intellectual faculty and those who put physical mark-making first. I fell into the latter group and needed to find more people who were similar. Having not had a class with Tim Dowd, and with Don Kimes only spending spring semesters on campus, I needed a visual mentor. Olive Ayhens' drawing class fullfilled that need, and encouraged me to keep working at a time when others were trying to take me away from my work-first based center of creating art.

Look at her website. Her paintings are both dense and light, concerned and comical, whimsical and serious. They ask questions about people, human space, city scapes, nature, and how they all are butted up against each other in an ever shrinking world.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008


In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts; as a spiritual teaching tool; for establishing a sacred space; and as an aid to meditation and trance induction. According to David Fontana, its symbolic nature can help one "to access progressively deeper levels of the unconscious, ultimately assisting the meditator to experience a mystical sense of oneness with the ultimate unity from which the cosmos in all its manifold forms arises." [1] The psychoanalyst Carl Jung saw the mandala as "a representation of the unconscious self,"[2] and believed his paintings of mandalas enabled him to identify emotional disorders and work towards wholeness in personality.[3]

In common use, mandala has become a generic term for any plan, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically, a microcosm of the Universe from the human perspective.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Friday, November 07, 2008


In psychology, sublimation is a coping mechanism. It has its roots in the Nietzschean & psychoanalytical approach, and is often also referred to as a type of defense mechanism.
Sublimation is the refocusing of psychic energy (which Sigmund Freud believed was limited) away from negative outlets, toward positive, or the rechannelling of drives which cannot find an outlet. For example, a student worrying over a major exam might rechannel that energy into studying, and a rageful person who is accustomed to lashing out might rechannel their passion through introspection and organization.

Or, in this case, one could refocus all the psychic energy that results from the desire to explore onto a piece of paper, canvas, stone and create some art. Perhaps more Jungian than Freudian.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


A fugue begins with what is known as the exposition and is characteristically written according to certain predefined rules; in later portions the composer has somewhat more freedom, though a logical key structure is usually followed, and further "entries" of the subject will occur throughout the fugue, repeating the accompanying material at the same time. The various entries may or may not be separated by episode

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

meditative work

While referring to these in a fit of honestsy, a spasm of clarity, and a moment of who-cares-about-intellectualism, I wrote this:

"I want the viewer to look at these pieces as long as I have worked on them. The process is a contemplative meditation that relfects the same state of being I attain when looking into the water, both moving and calm, as well as the frascination that falls upon me while curiously observing many natural things."

That statement could easily apply to many things, and be spoken by many people. I cannot tell if the ubiquity of the statement makes it banal or interesting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

more work to be done

after getting back from Colorado. This is what the paintings that were left on the table look like now that the transparent layers have dried.

Time to do more work on at least 10 of these. Some of them might be finished now, but I have to take a closer look and really consider if they are meeting my intentions.

While in Colorado, I did not do much in-depth work (too busy). But, I took many beautiful, sentimental photos of the mountains as well as preliminary drawings with the intention of making a few multi colored screen prints this winter.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Decoration vs. Exploration

Surviving in the space between the two is difficult, but worth some consideration. Artistic exploration runs the risk of being so exceptionally personal and specific that it becomes obscure. Decoration, for the sake of covering a bare wall or other empty space, is discounted by artists for the lack of exploration. In short, it is simple and boring.

Setting aside, temporarily, the over-driven egomaniacal motivations and insecure human tendencies that crave approval, I suspect that an often overlooked factor is involved in many judgements of art. Consider a single factor that contributes to one's thinking about a piece of art often. There are many, but I am thinking of complexity.

Art that is too complex might be inaccessible to many people. It takes too much work to enjoy or understand, therefore few people will spend any time with it, and it will not stay in many memories. By contrast, art that is too simple is taken for granted. It may be exceptionally accessible. It can be as seductively simple as a colorful pattern that brightens up a room. The simplicity can leave a viewer without any way to continue the visual dialogue that starts, and it will not be remembered.

The balance between expressing the seductive visual stimuli that I feel and fully exploring any path of discovery through a piece of art, creates a constant tension that allows me to continue working. I want to make the next piece more complex, or less complex. It can be more or less beautiful or seductive. The work can be more specific and personal, or more open to the experience of others. I don't know the single answer. The question keeps me going.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Left on the table

This is how I left the 15 paintings before leaving for my Colorado trip.
No matter how excited I am for a trip, it is always difficult to leave unfinished work in the studio.

I'll bring watercolors (and of course a pencil) on my trip. But, I'll be anxious to get back to these and see how they look when the paint dries (and all the white color clears to transparent colors).

Friday, October 03, 2008

Paint By Numbers

On a recent trip to Pearl Paint in Paramus, New Jersey, I had a few sad realizations about the apathetic relationship between those who would call themselves "art suppliers" and people who actually are driven to create some sort of art.

The "art supply store" is a deceiving moniker given to any sales outlet that sells products which have an air of artsyness to them. Often, the products are paint sets, some brushes, poorly primed crap canvas, some pencils and paper. I am not against kits, how-to books, or anything that can let someone enjoy a few relaxing hours making something pretty. But, the label of "art supply store" implies that the establishment at least partially cares about supplying the means to create art. The problem is that "art" includes creative endeavors that stretch far beyond the paint-by-numbers mentality of how-to books and rigid sets of colored mark-making tools. The sad reality is that most retail outlets (particularly the big ones) don't care if they are selling art supplies or trinkets for pets. They only want your money.

When is the last time you walked into a Home Depot or Lowes paint section and looked at the thousands of paint swatches, placed neatly inside organized displays, with a color-adjusted light system that allows some compensation for the horrible general lighting of all giant stores. I am alternately amused and angered that the big-box hardware stores put more effort into helping people see colors in a broader spectrum of light, allowing improved comparisons, than my closest big "art supply store" does? Pearl Paint has horrible lighting, even by box-store standards. If I really need to compare relative colors, then I make an effort to shop during daylight. You can find me walking back and forth between the oil paint aisle and the store front window for more accurate color comparisons. The system is not perfect, particularly considering the green/brown tint to the window, but it's better than relying on blue/green warehouse lights, which distort color more than cheap fluorescent garage lights.

This might seem like a frustrated rant. Yes. It is. It does, however, have merit; particularly when you consider the narrow definition of "art" that seems to exist, and how a box store like Pearl Paint wants to keep the definition inside a box so its price can be inflated more, discounted less, and sold to those who can be turned into mindless zombies. I was willing to let my surprise go during my undergraduate studies, but when I saw this in graduate school I was astonished. I was impressed with fellow art students who did not have concept about the incredible bounty contained in hardware stores (let along any idea how to use a tool beyond a standardized oil painting kit). Those pursuing graduate studies, in art, had an idea of art that fell right in line with the packaged products sold at big-box "art supply stores".

A couple of final notes:

I will continue to rush off to Pearl Paint in Paramus when I am in New Jersey and need to replace a simple tube of paint quickly. I have resolved, next time I need accurate color comparisons at night, to bring along a flashlight that is strong enough to counter the horrible lighting.

Throughout my two years of graduate studies I only met two people who entered into a course of study at American University who did not know their way around a hardware store. And, I know those two overcame any sort of inexperience with pure curiosity about the world around them. I am still occasionally surprised when I speak to graduate art students who do not know the world that exists outside the major art supply chains.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Rocks in the river

I was talking to a whitewater kayaking friend of mine who was expressing regret about his long hiatus from sculpture (he has a degree in sculpture and makes very cool large steel and wood structures). My friendly recommendation was that he should just start making something, anything, regardless of size. The important thing is to just get started by doing something creative, as a way to reconnect with the childhood joy of making something (simply for the sake of making it).

This summer, while skipping the flat rocks of the Kennebec river, I started to show some of the junior counselors how the slate and shale rocks would fracture into thinner stones for skipping. That demonstration lead to speculation about using harder rocks to do the job, which in turn lead to discussion about how well one rock would cut into another. It was a demonstration of the essential human tendency of simply play evolving into experimentation through creativity.

One of the junior counselors, noticing how well he could shape the stones, declared that he was going to make an arrow head. Recognizing the awesome possibility to turn a speculative text book history lesson from school into an actual connection with ancient humanity, I (as well as the other junior counselors) agreed to each make an arrow shaped rock, using only tools found on that small beach.

As youthful enthusiasm gave way to peer pressure for playing frisbee, the junior counselors finished their arrow heads and joined the rest of their group on the adjoining field. I could hear them explaining the playing/experimenting with rock that they were enjoying while they warmed up for a game of Ultimate. I picked up my stones to move within sight of the group, but continued to work. Since I had finished an arrow shape, I decided to draw with it. Then, I decided to draw ON it, with the first decoration that naturally occurred; a line in the middle. The next rock got a decoration that progressed from the first. It had the most common two-line decoration in human history, intersecting lines.

I wonder how many works of art are made with stone.
How many have intersecting lines?
How many started as play, and continued through experiment? (and is there a difference?)

Monday, September 29, 2008

new chaotic order

I don't know what to say about this one except that making it was about as ordered and chaotic as it looks.
It goes around and around in circles/cycles not quite sure about where the connections are, what the direction is, but there is still an order (in multiple dimensions)

Friday, September 26, 2008

a response to a student's question

"POSTmodernISM is often a B.S. talking point used as a feeble attempt by most people to seem like they are contemporary.
The "ism" makes it more BS than the silly "post" moniker, particularly if you are looking at a Derrida based deconstruction (he has said over and over that if his "deconstruction" ever became "deconstructionISM" then it would not be his intent or even nearly the same thing he has been talking about)

Check out Derrida, Lyotard, Nietzche, and pre Tibetan Buddhism (or preferably Taoist texts) and filter the contemporary rhetoric through those lenses.

A large concept is the idea that grand narratives are either not inclusive enough to explain everything, or simply human constructions that can't explain everything. Thus we are left with pluralism. But, the human tendency to want to explain everything in a neat package keeps rearing it's ugly head and people either make up more grand narratives to try to explain everything, or get frustrated and think that everything is nothing.

In my opinion, both extremes are foolish endeavors, motivated by desire, and as separate as the republican/democrat two-party political system we have here in the U.S. (two different parties,but still really the same shit)

Often, a misunderstanding of deconstruction and "post" modern is the same misunderstanding of both nihilism and buddism. The point is NOT to come to some sad realization that everything is a construct, thus a lie. It is to recognize that we (humans) construct our realities without awareness. A recognition of these constructions can be found (if you believe Derrida) through deconstructing them piece by piece, within each paradigms' own rules. A similar result can be found through the neo-Buddhist writing of Nietzche, particularly in his recognition of the "will to power", in so much as he is pointing out that we are creating our own realities. It's not magic. It's just awakening. Enlightenment is not a magical, physical thing. it's simply an awakening through awareness.

"postmodernism" has been a phrase used for a long time now and is, itself, full of smoke and mirrors. Explore every question for yourself. it's the only way to grow beyond catch phrases and popular distraction."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

baby boy born today

My new nephew was born tonight at about 10pm
Looks like he's a big one already.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Camp Kawanhee on Monhegan Island

Helping Camp Kawanhee is a wonderful experience. Not only do I get to teach drawing and watercolor techniques to interested campers, but it also is an opportunity to go on hikes around the island to see the cliffs, the cathedral woods, as well as swim in the ocean (brrrrrr), go on a beautiful boat ride, and be in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Below are two pictures of the campers who were in my class. We'll have a small show for them, displaying their art back at the base camp some time this week.

This guy was starting a drawing of Jaime Wyeth's house (formerly owned by Rockwell Kent).

Many of the campers focused their artistic efforts on the wreck of the D.T. Sheridan. Some of them did observational work, while others were inspired to illustrate their thoughts about what the ship wreck would have looked like as the boat ran aground in a storm.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I'll teach watercolor on Monhegan

I'm very excited that it all worked out, and I will be teaching four watercolor classes on Monhegan Island, Maine.

I used to attend Camp Kawanhee as a camper. They still go out to Monhegan for fishing and hiking trips. I have not been back to the island since 2001, and I look forward to have any excuse to visit this beautiful piece of land off the coast of Maine.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Process art

life as art

"stop and smell the roses"

No other way to say it than this

and if the embed doesn't work try this link

(special thanks to Jess, for digging this up on YouTube)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Free to chose a tshirt as art

continuing with the freedom of choice idea....
I decided to limit the color/design combinations of the tshirts to just a few. My experience in the wholesale/retail world has taught me that too much choice paralyzes customers' ability to decide to buy, and you end up with lots of unpurchased inventory.

While alot of my art focuses on repetition, layering, and subtle changes (either thematically or within a single piece of work), it does not have a useful place in the retail world.

Perhaps that is what helps separate "Art" (as an exploration) and "art" (as fashion and decoration).
Although, when put into a historical context, or at least when considering a larger sample of time, fashion and decoration both repeat in cycles (of varying sizes) and DO explore multiple avenues. It's just a matter of time. But, I think the progress is not a quick as "Art" (big A) can be.

Regardless of the reasoning, and whether or not fashion, decoration, and tshirt making (in particular) can stand up on their own as being considered "Art", they certainly can be fun endeavors. Besides, apparel (and none better than tshirts) can be intriguing signifiers of a person's sensibilities and beliefs. Whether the images on the tshirts are signs, signifiers, or whatever is up for debate.

One way or another I've narrowed the tshirts down to some of the better combinations and hope that people enjoy them.

Have a look here


Thursday, February 28, 2008

"freedom of choice

is what you got
freedom from choice
is what you want"
by Devo

The Paradox of Choice
by Barry Schwartz

Saturday, February 23, 2008

late winter cycle

colors inspired by increasing amounts of daylight, an anticipation of spring, and the memory of greens and blues in the water on the warmer winter days.

The movement is more agitated with increased protential, more chaotic and creative than the hibernating months of winter. Snow is melting in the warmer climates and close to turning to water elsewhere, soon to swell the rivers into rushing torrents. Seeds are ready to burst and let loose fresh life.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cold Water Surfing

After seeing a video clip of people river surfing in Montreal, climbing over huge chunks of ice, someone mentioned "they must be Polar Bears up there".
here is the link
and since some of those guys are my friends, I thought it would be funny to make a quick drawing for them

And, the drawing can be shared on tshirts...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

two new surfer shirts

the color in the top picture is better

the ink is silver

click here

Women's blue hoodie

click here

Monday, January 28, 2008