Oil on wood panel 6 x 8 I think if you were to ask any artist which painting of theirs they liked the most they would, to a person, say “none of them”… At least the ones I’ve talked to have, (You may have to ply them with libations.) It’s a hard fact that as artists we get way too close to our own work to really enjoy the piece as much as an outsider would. It’s just too familiar to really be that intriguing. Also, every artist will also tell you, if you get them in the right circumstance or, again, with enough booze in them, that we really don’t know how we do what we do. Sure we know in the greater sense, “apply paint to canvas with brush” kind of knowledge, but it’s the other finer points of creating art, the stuff that’s happening waaaay down below the surface that we just can’t put into words. As a result there’s always “happy accidents” that occur. It’s these little gems that intrigue me about my own work. For the most part I look at the entirety of a painting always aware that no matter how “good” I am I could always be better and yet without fail there’s always a spot, sometimes two, in every painting that just sings. It’s an odd experience to try and explain, so just trust me, it’s true. For example in this particular painting my favorite spot is the area just behind the brim of the fish’s hat over on the left hand side. The way the clouds come together there and play off the light illuminating the tops of the cypress trees just happened so nicely that I wish I could achieve that level of perfection over the entirety of every painting I ever do. Unfortunately that’s not the way it works and so I struggle boldly on. So the next time you’re at a gallery opening or happen to be chatting up an artist in line at the coffee shop or at waiting to see a Metallica cover band at the bar up the street, don’t ask them which is their favorite piece of art, you already know that answer. Ask them instead, of any given painting, which is their favorite part… You may need beer.
I usually get my ideas in a flash of inspiration. It comes when I least expect it and usually revolves around something I’ve seen or done recently. This piece came not long after I watched “Adaptation”. Though this image has little to do with the movie in general it’s got a lot to do with a specific moment. Specifically a passing reference to the literary pitfall, “deus ex machina”. “Deus ex machina” literally means “God from the machine”. In writing it means that when a writer paints himself into a corner he creates a convenient solution to get out. “Piscis Ex Machina” means “fish from the machine”. I meant it simply as a play on words as I had included the fish and thought it would be a great tie-in to include them in the title. However, I realized that there was much more going on here. The intentional “deus ex machina” is, of course, the key. It hangs on a wire being delivered from out of frame. Because the robot needs to be wound, the key becomes the classic “deus ex machina”. Yet, if you look in the background there’s a clockwork device. Originally it was supposed to be a clock and you can still see the demarcations around the outside ring, but, as I finished the image I realized there was no way I could insert the hands without destroying the composition, SO, I left them out. In other words, I used my influence as a creator to conveniently remove myself from a painted corner… In other words, “deus ex machina”! These are the things that make me love art. The accidents that allow me to be surprised by the very art that I supposedly have such control over… And if you’re still not convinced, the title was originally going to be “Deus Ex Machina”. The fish I put in simply because needed something to fill the bottom of the image.
Rise of the Red Star was more of an experiment really. As an artist I am interested in creating images that evoke a response in a viewer. As such I try to create images that have the suggestion of a story but don’t have any concrete direction, the thought being, the more I direct the process the less a viewer will contribute and thus the less an image will resonate with that viewer’s psyche. When I started Rise of the Red Star I tried to pick elements that were wholly disparate, a grab bag of interesting objects thrown together to form the loosest possible framework for a story. How clever was I? After I had finished I decided, not really. I looked on what I had done compared to all the others that had come before and chalked it up as a failure. I thought at the time that as an image Rise was too disparate, too abstract, too absurd to hold anyone’s attention and as such the connection to the viewer and the results I so desired, image plus viewer equals Art, would never coalesce… How wrong I was. For some reason people really respond to this piece. Maybe it’s the pure abstraction of idea that makes it so malleable as to fit any idiom, maybe it’s just because it’s so strange it stands out from the visual noise and becomes a beacon, drawing people in. Whatever the reason, I’ve gotten more responses from this image than any number of my other pieces combined. In the end it just goes to show you I’m not half as smart of half as clever as I like to give myself credit for…
Ten Stone Tea was a bit of an adventure for me. I had been feeling artistically weighed down with a seemingly endless parade of freelance jobs not to mention my full time, nine to five job. After I finally got a little bit of time for myself I decided that to keep myself fresh and to recharge my batteries I would do a painting just for me. This is the result. To tell you the God’s honest truth I wasn’t really sure of what to paint when I started and frankly most of the elements in this painting are stuff I put in on the fly. In the end however everything came together quite nicely and now I have a much stronger appreciation of my subconscious. I would also like to note I was so enamored with the method and the style of this painting I decided this would only be the very first in a long series of paintings that I will at some future date collect into a book and publish.
This is another of my latest, “Painting by the seat of my pants” (Or panting by the seat of my paints…) I’m not sure if it really fits the mood of the previous piece or if it’ll ultimately end up in the “book” but for right now I quite enjoy the feeling of this image. Admittedly the background is a little plain but as fellow artist Jim Goodliff pointed out, it kind of suits the piece. Furthermore I would like to point out that the pattern on the wall is the brainchild of my lovely wife Halima. I had originally planned on putting a row of Trilobite fossils embedded into the wall but after describing the piece to her she suggested using the wishbones instead. Just goes to show that first, one need not be an artist to be creative and second, I’m anything but infallible.
Digital- Painter 8 6 x 8 I’ve always enjoyed self portraits. Not necessarily doing them but looking at what other artists do. I think a self portrait is really an unabashed view of how an artist sees himself, or more to the point how they think the world percieves them. I was recently asked to do an interview for a webzine and as part of the bit I was asked to include a headshot or a self portrait. Because every single photograph ever taken of me makes me look A) retarded B) ugly or C) both, I opted for the self portrait. This is what came out. I guess I think the world sees me as some sort of floaty-head macabre, ghost-pirate that’s into carving numbers on their forehead. Maybe I need to rethink things