My take on the interchange between Alice and the caterpillar from Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” is one of perception, and of knowing oneself.
Alice is unable to give an answer to the creature ‘s simple direct question of, “Who are you?” She is too distracted with her current circumstance, and only seems to know she’d like to be a “bit larger.” So, Caterpillar eventually leaves after giving her sound advice about keeping her temper, and pointing her in the direction of the mushroom.
Though often depicted as a drug related conversation, perhaps because of the hookah, and the eating of mushrooms, this is actually an exercise in learning to know what you want.
There will always be distractions and circumstances of life to cloud the issues of self. As the caterpillar showed Alice, it is best to look past the veils of confusion and hone in on what one wants badly enough to endure being thought of as too small or otherwise to obtain that goal.
This 12″ x 12″ abstract painting was executed on stretched canvas with alcohol inks. It is an example of the wet in wet process.
As I have imagined and remembered being below water, while looking up at the sky above the surface, I have sometimes experienced a certain dread that something would bar my path back to fresh air. In this inky water which is most common in the “fresh” bodies of water here in Texas, I get to exercise my faith that the surface and the sky are not too far away, and nothing is hiding within the murkiness to impede me.
As I cropped and sized Bruised Twilight I was reminded of the Frank Stella retrospective hosted at the Fort Worth Modern last year (2016). I visited a total of three times while the work was here, and each time I was awed and inspired by the breadth and the beauty of the work, as well as encouraged by what I realized to be the natural progression of the abstract expression process modeled by a master.
That progression is something I experienced prior to becoming familiar with Stella’s work.
Expressions either grow more and more complex, or more simple. They can be layers and layers of gesture lines and color, or they can be deep color fields. But, as that practice matures and the extent of the technique is fully explored, the next logical step is to take those techniques to alternate surfaces. I have explored that both in my Under-Works series and with my geometric paper sculptures. It was very reassuring to see this same progression in Stella’s work and read his explanation in the accompanying monograph.
However, the real surprise, the thing that brought me to tears all three times I saw it, was the hideous beauty of his massive sculptures, especially The Raft Of The Medusa, part 1. I could not look at “part 1” without my eyes welling up and water rolling down my cheeks.
This was before I had done my homework and was, at the time, unaware of Theodore Gericault’s epic painting by that name, which depicted a tragic shipwreck. Yet, somehow Stella conveyed that story on a subconscious level in his sculpture. The juxtaposition of the title with the sheer mass of the sculpture made the idea of this creation as a raft scream “HOW HOPELESS IS THIS?”
And yet, the framework on which the work was built almost gives it the appearance of floating in space from certain angles, as if this might have been a lifeboat from a crippled starship.
It is in the vein of creating beauty, even if somewhat hideous, of and from that which seems lost or hopeless that also speaks to me and through my practice. Materials which would normally be destroyed, dismissed, or discarded can give voice to joy, hope, courage, truth, and goodness.
Case in point, the image presented here, Bruised Twilight, was a scrap of note paper with which I soaked up excess inks from a project. As I looked at the scrap after it had thoroughly dried, I was struck with its beauty. The original piece was lined, so there has been some extensive editing of this final image.
This is, or should be if things work out, an introduction to a series of similar projects which I am thinking of as the Hideous Beauty series.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. If you would like to support this work, in particular the Hideous Beauty project consider becoming a patron here.
I am currently offering Bruised Twilight as a limited edition print in a run of 25, 18″ x 24″ acrylic panels For details on purchasing one or more of these prints follow THIS LINK.
We all believe in something. Our beliefs are most often based on our experience, and not limited to lessons taught in school, church, media, or literature. Our beliefs shape our understanding and form the path our life takes. When presented with new ideas and concepts those beliefs are the light with which we examine the new information before assimilating or rejecting it.
However, there are times when old beliefs and new ideas seem to cancel each other out. We shine the light of our beliefs on the new idea, and a blazing laser beam bounces back, blinding us. In modern psychology this is often referred to as cognitive dissonance, which is a state of discomfort when we cannot reconcile our beliefs with the new information, often despite overwhelming evidence.
In my way of thinking about this, it seems that discomfort, that doubt, that questioning of our faith stems from a belief that is too rigid. Some have called this, “putting God in a box.” Others reject God from the equation outright.
My own beliefs do not rely on whether you believe in God or not. It will not alter my faith in the slightest or change the amount of peace I have found and continue to find in my faith.
On the other hand, if you struggle with the concept, or have entered a dark night of doubt because of the voices that argue against the possibility of a spiritual way, let me reassure of one thing. GOD LIKES TO WRESTLE.
I’m not talking about choreographed hi-jinx on TV, but about a willingness, on the part of whatever you call your Higher Power, to reason things out with us. This should be perfectly logical to those who refer to God as “Good Orderly Direction.” For those of us who believe in an omnipotent creator it also tracks as being well within His/Her/Their wheelhouse to already have this new information you are struggling with, which might make acceptance easier.
For me, this was my “Dawn of Faith.” It was the realization that I could doubt God. I could get angry with God. I could question God, and especially what men had taught me about God. God was not threatened or angry by my doubt and questions, nor reactionary to my anger. God welcomed it, and the opportunity to (over time) answer the questions of which I became aware by showing up in situations where I had invited God to participate.
This realization also came with an assurance that I know to be true in my experience. God is faithful, even when I am not.
The Tech Stuff:
The painting DAWN OF FAITH is 30″ x 30″ oils on textured gallery wrap (1.5″ thick) canvas. The texture came from adding aquarium sand to the gesso layer. I used predominately vertical lines in this painting after a discussion with my friend and master painter, Ernesto Rodriguez. In his opinion, vertical lines conveyed positive emotions. I find this to be as true as the fact that in design theory they also represent and convey strength.
DAWN OF FAITH is currently on exhibit at the Taste Community Restaurant, located at 1200 S. Main, Ft Worth, TX 76104. All proceeds from the sale of this painting go to support the Taste Project. See anyone in attendance for help in your purchase.
When dusk and the overhead cloud cover both converge around the setting sun it can resemble a fire lit cavern.
I have written along these lines before when I wrote about UNTIL TOMORROW. Since then, I have checked the numbers. The average daily death rate worldwide is roughly 150,000. There are always spikes and dips in that number, but that’s the average. So, Neil Young wasn’t incorrect in his lyrics, just incomplete. “Every junkie IS like a setting sun. A little part of him in everyone.” Only the setting sun is for so many more than just the junkies. Still the metaphor works well.
The beauty of HOPE expressed in dusk is never hidden by total darkness, because there is more to gain than what we have lost. As high as the mortality rate is each day, to date, it has always been dwarfed by the continuously high birth rate, about 300, 000 each day.
So, even when dusk encompasses us, there is still an ember smoldering, ready to ignite the fire of a NEW DAY.
This painting, Dusk Cavern, was originally executed on reclaimed packaging with alcohol inks, and then digitally edited for larger formats. I am currently offering a limited edition print in a run of 20, 18″ x 24″ acrylic panels. To purchase your copy before the sun sets on this edition FOLLOW THIS LINK>
All the good, true, and beautiful things we hold most precious in this life never leave or abandon us. Regardless of how desperate the circumstances of our day, or how dark and lonely our night may seem, faith, hope and love are with us, merely hiding in plain sight.
In Plain Sight, was originally executed on reclaimed packaging with alcohol inks. The image was then digitally manipulated.
I am offering this image as a limited edition print in a run of 15, 18″ x 24″ acrylic panels. Prints are currently available by following THIS LINK.
The setting of the sun is metaphorically the dying of the light. Yet, even as it takes its leave each day, it bows in a promise of its return. This is not the end. There will be another day, another chance to walk in its light.
Recently as I pondered the departure of a family friend, I was overwhelmed with emotion, and found myself considering all the friends and family members who have likewise departed, bowing low in a similar promise of some other day.
So, I must wait, work, and love Until Tomorrow.
Until Tomorrow was executed on 12″ x 9″ watercolor paper with oil pastels.
Although the original is spoken for, I have decided to offer this image as a limited edition of 20, 24″ x 18″ acrylic panel prints.
Further work with alcohol ink has resulted in large studies with multiple areas of interest. Sunset Lake is one such work of art.
With the intention of preservation as well as sharing those results, I have executed numerous scans of various studies which are then edited down and digitally stored in formats which lend themselves to reproduction in large format. This is simply a way to curate the images while maintaining a certain level of quality and the production of new work.
However, it also adds to the amount of work required, which causes the sharing part to sometimes suffer. That is one of the reasons I have made it a point to employ social media wherever possible, including a patron / creator reward program called Patreon.
Sunset Lake was executed with alcohol inks on reclaimed packaging. The entire color study from which the smaller Sunset Lake was taken was a mere 5″ x 6″ However, high quality prints as large as 60″ 45″ are possible . Currently I am offering a special limited edition of 25 prints of “Sunset Lake” on 18″ 24″ acrylic panels. Follow the link here to learn more on how to PURCHASE.
This painting is a part of my efforts in sustainability. “BREAKER” was originally a 5″ x 5.35″ painting using alcohol inks on reclaimed packaging. The cropped image you see here measures about 5″ x 2.25″ and has been touched up in PhotoShop.
For those of you who might be interested in the original unaltered painting, which when I painted it I called it “Bucket Lists Don’t Mean Diddly When You’re Busy Painting Skies,” you may see a digital version of the original. It can be viewed at my Patreon page. However, a fortunate and faithful patron now has this original. So, you may want to get your print before they run out.
NEW DAY is a 40″ x 30″ acrylic painting on a gallery wrapped canvas. It is composed of predominantly primary colors.
NEW DAY speaks to the idea suggested by the common consolatory phrase, “When God closes one door, He opens another.” Each new day is another open door; a brand new start, and a fresh beginning. Regardless of what transpired on the previous day, another better day is always possible. In fact, when I make an error or slip back into less than desirable behavior patterns, I can start my day over from any point in the current day.
This original painting can be yours for $2100.00 including shipping and handling. For additional details,follow this link: https://newday.paperform.co/
Acrylic on 36″ x 48″ canvas – Original painting $2750.
Step 5 in the 12 step tradition reads, “We admitted to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” This is only possible after accomplishing the four previous steps, which begins with the honesty and humility of first admitting powerlessness over anything that does not originate from within ourselves. This is followed up by a searching and truthful moral inventory of ourselves, digging down to the core reasons behind our behavior.
In this abstract pictograph, the individual in question reveals to the God of their understanding and another person the results of this inventory. The “wrongs,” “character defects,” or “shortcomings” are still with the confessor, as they have yet to be removed. In later steps the individual must first become ready for their removal and then, humbly ask the God of their understanding for help in the form of doing for them what they cannot do themselves; i.e. removing these exposed personal flaws.
To date this has been one of the most difficult and rewarding parts of my own recovery. Not only because it involved digging down into, and being honest with myself, but also involved learning to trust myself, someone else, and especially, God. That may sound odd to some, not being able to trust God. However, it turned out to be key in improving my attitudes toward myself and others, and thereby beginning the healing process.
For additional information of this original painting, including purchase details, visit our sales page.
Shamanism is an ancient healing tradition and moreover, a way of life. It is a way to connect with nature and all of creation.
The true shamans were reported to join their spirit with the Great Spirit, and with the very essence of nature itself. When they created their sand paintings they were lending a hand in the structure of their own reality. This is true today with spiritual artists and their work. As Picasso said, “everything you can imagine is real.”
The Shaman (or Sunset Sage as some call him) was created with a wet in wet process, using alcohol inks on reclaimed packaging.
Why reclaimed packaging? Simply, because I believe we do not fully utilize our resources.
Alcohol ink, because to me the result of the process is effective in depth, color, and the serene energy conveyed.
The image is an abstract impressionistic representation of both a sunset on a day with high clouds, and a spirit warrior creating a sand painting in the sky.
This painting is available in a limited edition of 25 prints reproduced on 16″ x 20″ acrylic panels. For more information on purchasing one or more of these prints follow THIS LINK.
CHASING HER CHILD is one of the initial images from the “CULTURAL GHOSTS” series which I have been documenting since 2006. What first attracted my attention to this opportunity to collaborate with nature was a startling appearance along a local thoroughfare I traveled frequently. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I had seen someone hanging in a tree. Turning my car around to investigate I realized that the person or their skeleton was in fact a tangle of plastic wrapped in the limbs of a tree.