Saturday, February 14, 2009


I'm working on a small series of mixed media collages from a short story. This is the first drawing for possible use. Charcoal approx. 6"X 8".

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Iconography mounted

I enjoy the organization and system of the old library card catalogs and similar outdated systems. Printed text has changed considerably with the advent of digital media and with that refinement a certain amount of apparent human connection with the writing. I am working with the idea of a system that, in a sense, removes that personal impact from the resulting creation while, because of the inherent flaws and unique characteristics of the typewriter, a trace of human contact is remains.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Working on a couple of ideas tonight on iconogrphy. Watercolor and india ink.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Know Blood for Oil

Repetitive Pump in Purple, 2006, Acrylic on Canvas, 12" X 36"

The text, though difficult to read, is about Randy Cunningham, a congressman convicted of accepting bribes for war related government contracts.

As time moves on and the fog dissipates, information floats to the surface. This information suggests the worst as reported by Bill Moyer.

During the first gulf war I considered myself lucky as I was on my way home from a west-pac when Iraq invaded Kuwait. I missed my girlfriend and thought I finally knew what it was to be an American. Believe me, no one knows what it means to be American until they've been away from it, they only suspect. I paid my respects to those who gave their lives for my country in Pearl Harbor as we manned the rails when we pulled into port. I lost countrymen and acquaintances over the Mariana Trench off the coast of Japan as their helo went down and no bodies were recovered. This time was served in the defense of my nation; it was an honor to serve.

Along with that honor comes a certain amount of trust. I trusted, as as most sailors and soldiers do, in the judgment of our civilian leaders to be deployed in our nations defense. Now I've come to understand that defense is not always clear as at times service in small military actions can defend my nation such as a call to certain commitments for the United Nations. Yet I trust that these too are for the protection of life and nothing less. This service is not for a way of life (and by that I do not mean fundamental values of my nations such as liberty and equality but in the sense of certain conveniences we've come to expect as Americans, like football on Sunday or disposable coffee cups on our way to work) but for life itself. My trust appears to have been betrayed as my service has been at least partly for the protection of American business interests. As if I was not defending my country or the freedom of my countrymen but the market for a few industry leaders. Now, I must point out this does not mean my service was not honorable or that the lives of American servicemen and women that were lost or altered in the service of our country was in any way less than honorable, I am saying that the trust we put in our civilian leadership has been betrayed.

No blood for oil! It has not been shed for oil but for country. Those that betrayed our trust must be held accountable. They know there has been blood for oil.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Artist's Community:Show Space

The second thing an artist's community needs is a place to show the artwork. This pretty much goes without saying that when the space is made available for making artwork eventually that artwork should be shared with the rest of the community. The most conventional way for this to happen is through two methods: The first is the time honored art galley and the second is an art fair. Either display or setting has its strengths and its weaknesses which I'll explore in the following paragraphs. I'll also propose an additional display opportunity that I've not seen that I think should be entertained by a community.

Art fairs or street fairs are great opportunities for artists to get out there and meet people interested in art. It is also an enjoyable way to spend a nice sunny day (I enjoy camping and barbecues and liken the art fair experience to a little of both). For artists this provides an opportunity to exert some control over what is shown and how it is displayed. On the other hand the context in which the artwork is shown is determined by the organizers of the event and the artists' booths often appear a little like a side show where the main event might be the local restaurants, corporate contributors' booths, or kettle corn. For the most part, however, art fairs do make the display of art by local artists an event and an opportunity for those without gallery representation a place to show their work to the public, therefor they are necessary and desirable.

For those with gallery representation I have little to say because this traditional meeting place for art and art collector is, strongly and rightfully, in a good position both financially and socially. My only suggestion to gallery owners is, perhaps, to provide and publicize greater openness to the public for a greater overall understanding of art by the public. I do understand the interest in the exclusivity between collector and private gallery. I've also enjoyed the availability of public galleries in the area. In most cases a small membership fee is attached but I find the benefits of this small fee understandable and seldom insurmountable (especially when compared to the fee for some art fairs- Wow!). Perhaps a little more civic planning would help funnel some tax dollars into or consolidate these galleries into art districts or areas that may, in fact, benefit both the galleries and the local stores, restaurants, and community. (Did I contradict myself? Very well, I contain multitudes!- but then, it is a matter of priorities)

I would like to interject the idea that public galleries could and should promote art collecting by celebrating the collectors themselves. By this I mean providing a mild competition open to collectors for recognition of their savvy discretion and taste. Perhaps a juried event based on theme- around local art collection, course- like a contemporary surrealist collection, seascapes, landscapes, political/social awareness, etc. This would be a chance for collectors to show their collection, receive accolades and reward for their support of local artists without having to invite an entire community into their home.

This last idea is to suggest collaboration between artists' communities and local retail outlets such as furniture stores. Although I believe the best way to see art is in the home with the time to look and think about it, galleries and museums run a close second. This does not mean that other settings would not provide an opportunity to see and appreciate art. I'm sure we've all heard the "that'll match the sofa" story that many artists find offensive but the fact is there are some artists that do not mind such a thing and, in fact, create accordingly. For just such artists an association between the artists' community and local retailers would help these artists find a place to show their work to the public. With a little education, salespeople may also help inform those in the community that may know little about art understand it and appreciate in more. This may even benefit the artists disinterested in matching sofas reach a new audience; and, like I mentioned before, it may help a person picture the work in its best setting, the home.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Digital Art

I enjoy working with a variety of media. I think most of the work in this blog does a pretty good job of showing that. That interest is more obvious in my paintings as they are almost all constructed using a variety of media. I've come to find that one advantage of an art education major is the variety of classes that are aplicable to the course of study. I could take everything from drawing and painting classes to basket weaving and jewelry design and it would all help me acquire units for graduation. This interest in multiple media compliments my appropriation of different sources for information and meaning.

In a discussion with one of my students about her artwork she mentioned the fact that she liked working with a digital drawing tablet. I've seen them in Fry's and often wondered how they worked for making artwork. I figured in order to continually improve my ability as a teacher I must be prepared to discuss work in a greater variety of media so I bought one.

The one I bought was relatively inexpensive but effective. It works well with Photoshop but I couldn't get the pressure settings to work in GIMP though they are supposed to. To make an exceptionally long story short it is a lot of fun to use. I am able to scan things in on a whim, reproduce images endlessly, and apply the human contact present in conventional media through the drawing tablet (that contact is at least as close to the final image as possible given the media- not quite like smudging with your finger tip, but you get the point).

These are a couple of samples of the work- just sketches from a couple of evenings in the studio.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Artist's Community: Work space

When building an artists' community the first thing artists need is space to create. Most call this a "studio" though I don't think an artist needs to go that far in order to get work off the easel. This "space" must have access to the requirements of the media (the materials an artist uses to make his or her art) as a minimum, and a means of reasonable security: An artist must be able to lock up and walk away without fear of damage to the work or loss. This space need not be an elaborate thing as one might think having watched enough television to assume the workspace must meet some visual definition of a "studio" or "must inspire" the artist. Artists can take their inspiration from a number of sources; scenic views, the city, people, stories, almost anything! (Besides, I'd be a little suspicious of the merit of an artist's work that found its only inspiration from the working environment.) Ask anyone who is sick of their cubicle at work- work still gets done, though I will admit, it is probably not as enjoyable as completing the work in an office with a view. Studio needed? No, just work space. If we do not call this space a "studio" other opportunities open.

The reason for pointing out exactly what kind of space an artist needs is that many communities overreach when they consider providing space for artists placing unnecessary burden on both the community and the artist. Communities often approach this by offering a large building constructed or redesigned specifically with artists in mind. Small, blank workspaces grouped together with other small blank workspaces with an office space mentality. As I've mentioned, artists need work space not a studio, there's a difference! Another common mistake is to think about artist spaces as apartments- make them small, sterile, and ... oh ya, charge rent. Then they can say, "see, we are providing space for artists," and pass financial burden on to the shoulders of the artist and increase the artist's risk or need for commercial success. Not to mention the risk shared by the community if the space go unused without the rent to pay back the taxpayers. Because artists need low risk workspace much less is required and desired by the artist.

Look, as I've already written, a small space (about 13' X 20' floor space) - enough for a couple of easels, a flat file, and a cabinet for supplies is enough space for an artist to get started. How many streets are lined with nice restaurants below an empty second level with 85% of the shades drawn over the windows with the rest revealing "bookshelves" (this is the name that is given to refuse containers used for self deception) full of things no longer needed? How much room is "used" way in the back of the shop for items of little or no value? This space is wasted space, this wasted space is artist's space that could be made available through the help of the community to the artist.

I propose civic organizers simply coordinate unused space in businesses already active and successful in the community! Coordinate the space as a donation from the business, offer some tax breaks or advertising perks, and an artist has workspace risk free- or at least the risk is shared by the community. I mean really, imagine how many store fronts have "storage space" filled with boxes and unused office furniture that would much rather get a tax break (not to mention a free rotating art collection) for letting an artist use the "storage space" as work space? Any community incentive for the business would surely help reduce the risk inherent in establishing an artist at a very small price. The price might simply amount to collecting an inventory of available space and presenting it as available to artists: "Artists wanted- free studio space, visit the chamber of commerce website," - space made available, coordinated through the city, artist community started! No new construction, no financial risk, no contributions needed, just a community working together as a community for the sake of a community (and, of course, art).

The artist's community is started but not finished. More on that in future posts...