Day 57

Sometimes it feels as if the universe conspires to provide me with divine inspiration. The other day, for example, I was sifting through cut up pages and came across the words “garbage collector”. About 30 seconds later, some song playing on the internet radio station I’ve never heard included the lyrics “garbage collector”, and I had to stop for a moment to let the Twilight Zone music play out in my head because I found it rather odd. Now, I haven’t yet painted a garbage collector, but who knows? Perhaps it’s foreshadowing and my first great masterpiece will be a portrait of a garbage collector.* (Today’s post ended up being kind of verbose and brainy, so I spliced it up with photos. Feel free to scroll through without reading. Hell, I won’t know.)

Today’s pieces were inspired by a physics lecture I was listening to this morning. I’m a big fan of color, and of course color itself is a pretty amazing phenomenon. The fact that we can see it at all is because we have different types of cone cells in the retina that are able to recognize variations in frequency of visible light. (If you want a more intense science lesson on color than provided in this blog post, Wikipedia will help you with that here.)

There are frequencies of light outside of the spectrum visible to humans, of course, and so there are all kinds of amazing things going on that we can’t see at all when it comes to light and energy and the universe. Vision is huge for us, as everything we see is perceived in our brains as reality. This is a quote by Einstein from here that I found fascinating:

“A human being is a part of this whole, called by us ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to apportion for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” — Albert Einstein

So today’s work is an ‘optical delusion’ if you will- three doors, in the primary colors from which all other colors are comprised, without doorknobs. Sometimes it’s not so easy to alter pre-defined concepts of reality by just grabbing and turning a handle. Sometimes you have to figure out another way altogether.

Thus ends my tree-hugging “whoa man” mind-expansion post. Happy Friday, everyone!

*P.S. I know you haven’t seen any portraits, figurative work, still life pieces or a few other styles from me in this project yet, but don’t worry! It’s all on the horizon. I may be two months in, but I’ve got 10 left to go. There’s plenty of time.

Day 51

At first I couldn’t paint today because I kept thinking about how somewhere out there is a box of Girl Scout Cookies with my name on them. And I don’t think I’ve even had one for two years. One would think that a powerful brain-altering recipe like that would be examined closely. I think, however, that the people responsible for chemically testing Girl Scout Cookies also love Girl Scout Cookies as much as I do and have no desire to ruin them with some pesky science, so the world will never know.

Sometimes one painting I’ve done beckons to its’ soulmate floating as potential inspiration in the ether, and sends it through my paintbrush on to a suitable surface so they can be together again.  Or I’m just kind of OCD and feel like they all need to come in pairs. Either way.

So today I made a match for the red/orange/gold one from the other day with a complimentary color scheme (cool tones and silver sides) and “poem”. Enjoy!

Day 49

It’s a good thing Rob turned down the neighbor kid selling Girl Scout cookies after this painting was done, or it would have probably been a darker piece. I don’t know what it is about those things, but they’re buy-a-box-and-hide-in-a-parking-lot-devouring-them good. Sigh. I did work out again today, which would only have accounted for, say, ONE Samoa, and I would have wanted to eat four, so I suppose it’s for the best. Sadness.

So here’s where the inspiration came from for today’s piece: I was watching a documentary about the history of Apple today, and one guy being interviewed in some café made some extremely accurate -and hilarious-  observations about engineers & social graces, and I noticed in the background there was this painting that was half figurative, half color-field.

I used to love drawing figures in school (probably because I was good at it), but it’s not easy to do without a nude model and good lighting. Hence, I couldn’t really bust out a figurative piece.

Then I considered writing a poem, but that’s one thing I really can’t force. The good poems seem to come to me of their own volition, and rarely.

So instead, I filled this field with colored squares in warm tones and a makeshift “poem”- bits from the Capote scrap pile- finished it off with a smear of gold and painted the sides the same brilliant color. I rarely use gold, but it felt right today. Et voila!

I’m off to attend an art lecture (I know, I am willingly going to a lecture. I must really be an adult now) at the Verge Gallery with my buddy Reina (and I talked someone into going with me! I must really be a con artist too). Here’s hoping it provides some divine inspiration for work to come!

Day 12

Tonight after dinner, I wanted nothing more than to stay exactly where I was on the couch to watch a recorded episode of Medium and/or hockey. But I knew I had to get up and make something. I know it’s hard to believe I could already be complaining less than 2 weeks into this thing, but I am. I have a hard time building habits and I’m lazy. When I thought about the inevitable, I got that twitch in the base of my spine that signaled my internal desire to throw a temper tantrum. Sure, you may not see adults sprawled out on their bellies, flailing limbs and screaming “I don’t wanna!”, but you sure as hell do it in your brain. Probably multiple times in a day, too. Adulthood is 99% shit that you don’t want to do, and it’s amazing that adults resist telling this to children for so long, because that one sure as hell took me by surprise. When I was a kid, I thought adulthood was all dessert before dinner and staying up late. Now I’m tired at 8 and can’t consume any sugary snack food without thinking of my arteries. Woohoo.

So I got up to go to the studio. Rob stopped me and played a clip he’d recorded onto his iPhone from NPR. It was an author speaking on how necessary it is for artists today to reconnect us with things we no longer appreciate. He was talking about how we have no understanding or gratitude for the many practices and processes, both manufacturing and commerce-related, that make life possible for us. He even mentioned “the salesperson in an office”. It was an interesting moment of clarity. Every day, when I call business owners with a real, valid product from a real, recognized company that could really help them become more profitable, they are irritated and uncomfortable and can’t wait to get me off of the phone. I understand that, but it was nice to hear a different perspective. It made me think of the current handmade movement on sites like Etsy, which is essentially a “take two” version of the original Arts & Crafts movement, which was largely inspired by the artist community’s concern that industrialism and machines would take the quality out of products and the humanity out of design.

I decided one color was all I could handle tonight. Pandora put Radiohead on first. I feel like Radiohead always helps me paint better. It makes me more patient and less cranky. Tonight it felt yellow. I decided to go with yellow- maybe because of Radiohead, maybe because the first painting on canvas I ever sold was a stunning yellow color field that made my professor exclaim, “it makes me want to go out and get religion!”, or maybe because Chester’s puppy pee pads are really near the studio.

I set out all my yellows, golds and siennas. First I put them on with a brush, then with the palette knife, then I dragged ribbons and twine through the impasto parts and sprayed it with vinegar water, lifting off the wetness with a crinkly napkin for texture. Finally, the painting looked at me and said, “Okay, I’m done.” And I replied, “Thank God!”

Day 9

After yesterday’s failure, I decided to return to the mini painting series I started awhile ago (for the older ones, see, paintings, mini paintings gallery). Working on more than one piece at a time is natural for me. There’s less pressure. When I’m stuck with one piece I start to feel trapped, and I think that the effects of that are visible in yesterday’s painting.

While living in an electrical closet with cold showers during my semester in France, another transfer student, a printmaker named Victoria Browne from Bristol, England gave me a copy of a Truman Capote anthology to cheer me up.

While exhilirating, my time in France was a little scary. My accent was odd to the people of Marseille, I was scared to be living alone in a big city, I had ended a long relationship not too long prior and was a little shaken up. Victoria was funny, friendly and extremely helpful. I sensed that she felt sorry for me in a way, but she never made it evident. We spent a lot of time together during those few months and I haven’t been able to get in touch with her since. I miss her.

The book was falling apart then, 6 years ago, and she let me keep it knowing it was on its last legs. One day, thinking of how kind Victoria had been to me, I dug out the gifted book and decided to flip through Breakfast at Tiffany’s for inspiration.

I sat on the floor of my studio and thumbed through the pages. Snippets of literary brilliance started to pop off of the page- two and three words together here and there that had beauty all their own- and I circled them in charcoal. I then removed the pages and affixed them to 5×7″ canvases with acrylic medium. Not wanting the pages to stand out like a piece of a book slapped onto a canvas, I did mini color-field style paintings on top of them, careful to let the little blurb remain legible.

This series reminds me of these great found object paintings a fellow student at CCAC named Kate used to do. In class critique one day, I said they were just so lovely and inviting- they were like “little hugs”. I remember how delighted she had been at that description. I think of the Breakfast at Tiffany’s series as my “little hugs”; partially because of the memory of my friend, but also because the color and words are so happy for me. I am constantly inspired by language, and a few words are frequently the starting point for an idea for a painting, or a literal tidbit inserted into the piece itself.

Here’s a closer look at the 3 works I completed today: