Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Illusion of Paradise

Illusion of Paradise, oil on canvas 36h x 60 inches.  With the last post I wrote about the enigmatic way my paintings end up with meaning and how I'm sometimes oblivious even at the end of the full meaning of the piece. With this one, it definitely evolved, but I also know it's meaning.

This one started out with a source photo I took while in Honolulu, Hawaii on a mini-vacation.  I lived there for about a year when I was in 7th grade, so it was a sort of homecoming for me.  It was odd for it to still feel like home after all these years and really a small period of my childhood, but then again when I think of my childhood my year in Hawaii feels more like ten years.  I think the that moment of going from being twelve to thirteen is an very impressionable time.  

Needless to say, while in Hawaii in September I wanted to move back.  I was filled with this sense of "why on earth wasn't my Mom able to be happy here; it's so wonderful?"  That was while on the big Island and still how I felt the first day back on Oahu. After failed attempts of striking up conversations with a few locals though, it came back in focus how cold Hawaii was when we lived there.  

One person's paradise is another person's hell.  I can go into details, but really there's no point.

So, back to the meaning of this painting. I allowed the background to feel a touch stormy and abstract to address how our belief or what paradise is, is actually very abstract and merely an impression.  I also wanted to depict the disillusion of my perception. In Japanese woman's face, in roughly the center, I unconsciously placed all my conflicted feelings about Hawaii. My subconscious mind at work again.

How I feel about Hawaii is simply this.  It will always feel like home to me, I can and will visit it, but will never be able to call it home even though I love the islands dearly.  I also realize that paradise is merely an illusion and can never be attained.

Life Comes Too Quickly

Life Comes Too Quickly, oil on canvas 36h x 24 inches. The inspiration for this piece came from three places/events.  The photo was taken initially on a bike ride from Midtown to Downtown in Phoenix.  I was feeling a little bit frustrated with what was on the easel, so I decided to go for a ride and my habit now is to try to take a camera with me wherever I go. I was aimlessly cycling around with no real place to go or mission. I didn't even care how fast or how far. I still ended up doing a few sprints though. I was struck by the loneliness of this parking lot and wondered for a moment about the lives of the people who were still up around midnight and those who were fast asleep. The second piece of inspiration came from when I was flying home from attending the opening at Abend Gallery in Denver.  I was listening to Jesu and reading Sit Down and Shut Up by Brad Warner. One of the verses stuck in my head "Life Comes Too Quickly". I was feeling exhausted a combination of work and travel and it hit home. My life is flying past me at a million miles an hour it seems and I'm not actually being mindful of the moments I'm currently in.  Last, but not least as I was working on this painting there were a few days of rain and one of them I went for a ride despite the wet roads. I didn't go too crazy, but I passed by a few wet parking lots and decided that even though the source photo was of a dry parking lot didn't mean I couldn't paint a wet one.

This brings me to say something about art.  At the last openings I've encountered folks who want more meaning and some who want less within my works. For those who wanted more I didn't think of what to say to them until weeks afterwards, but I think I can say it here.  Art has it's own intrinsic meaning beyond what the artist feels or intends it to mean or at least this artist.  So much of my work is about process.  I have this initial concept and then the work morphs from that. I also can't help, but feel like my subconscious is trying to tell me something about how I feel about things in my life. In other words - my subconscious knows what's eating me long before my conscious mind is aware of it.  In the end after I complete a painting or drawing - I'm lucky if I know what it means, but understand that the work has meaning whether or not I know what that is.

I think these days artists are way too concerned about their work having meaning.  I don't know why this is really, but my guess is that when people watch a movie or read a book there's always a "point to it".  The thing is this, does the author always know what the book is going to be about when they start writing? Can it be that they just have a flash of a storyline pop in their head. An outline of the characters, scene and plot.  As all the puzzle pieces fit together and the characters are fleshed out the author then follows them through the story and their morality (the author's voice) is then imprinted upon the piece.

It's the same for me as I paint, but my stories are told visually.  The challenge is to verbally express what I've already stated visually without losing the nuance expressed within my brushwork. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Long Day's End

Long Day's End oil on canvas. 30w x 40h inches.  This is another painting for my solo show at Modified Arts this November the opening on the 3rd Friday November 20th.  It's based off of a photo I took on Market Street in San Francisco.

It's been a lot of fun returning to oils.  Over the summer with the studio just shy of 100 degrees with little humidity, it's been nice having a longer drying window.  Now that the Fall is finally here, I may need to switch over to faster drying mediums in order to get everything finished in time for the show.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Busy Fall Season

Admittedly, I've been neglecting the blog a little bit. This Fall has been a jam packed season for me with four shows one right after the other.  The work above will be in my solo show at Modified Arts called "Amor fati" this November - Crash acrylic, ink and collaged materials on canvas, 36w x 60h inches.

I had two songs from two different bands come up in my Pandora cue and both were titled "Amor fati", so I looked it up and it was a perfect fit for how I've been feeling lately. The loose translation is "love of fate" the concept being that whether good or bad at the time - everything that has happened in your life has made you who you are and is therefore for the best. Considering you wouldn't be who you are if you had not had to live through those experiences.

That fits for me. While painting my abandoned desertscape paintings I really have tried to make sense of the events of my life, particularly my childhood. I have also dealt in those pieces with feelings of disconnect and how my memories feel like empty shells or abandoned buildings, because I can't really go back into that past and most of the people within those memories are now gone from this world.

I don't paint it to dwell in the past so much as to deal with my feelings and to achieve a deeper understanding of who I am. I also feel that the message is ultimately - to let the past go and be in the present and that the present is all you have. Once it's past all you can really do is apologize, forgive or release it. 
There's no going back to fix it and constantly bringing it to the forefront of your life only cobbles your present and stifles your future.

On to talking about Crash.  With this piece I wanted to create the sense of it being a memory. There are strong shadows to represent our mind's natural tendency to dualistically view the world as black or white, but at the same time there is this murky, distant/untouchable, dreamlike quality.

I was interviewed by a journalist for Sunset Magazine who is doing an issue devoted to Roosevelt Row and Downtown Phoenix the month of my show. My fingers are crossed that they'll use one of my images as well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Urban Life

Here's three of the new works that will be on display this month at Abend Gallery's "Urban Life" show in Denver, Colorado. The opening is this Friday, October 9th 6-9pm and I'll be there. If your in the area please stop by.  Here's my artist page on their site.

Green and Gray @ Tempe Center for the Arts

Here's a photo from the opening at the Green and Gray show at the Tempe Center for the Arts. The show runs from October 2nd to January 2nd. Here's a link for more information:

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Empty Sentiment

Just finished "Empty Sentiment", acrylic, ink and collaged materials on canvas 15 x 60 inches on canvas. I started it back in March and it sorta spawned other work and then I did some other projects. I looped back around to it this week. I'm not sure I understand my creative process or if I should even try. Maybe, I should just work the way I do and not worry?

This is an abandoned station right at the tip of Arizona on the boarder with California. It's actually across the street of a former in-state customs checkpoint that's been converted to a border patrol station. It seems odd it's so far north.

I woke up this morning realizing how much the visual technology of my age is part of my work. I also was struck with how my peers and I have only scratched the surface of what is possible within this golden age of visual technological tools.

I'm not sure what the next step is, but I know that in some regards that I'm shackled by conservative norms and traditional thinking when it comes to art making. I studied both painting and intermedia back in college. In the end I decided that I was a painter at heart and communicated best through paint. With that said - I also felt as if intermedia-conceptual work although not tethered by object creation and materials was still governed by conventions. In short being unconventional and radical is still governed by a play book and a set of mental constructs. I always hear "think outside of the box", but ultimately our linear minds can only create new boxes to think within. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Aftermath in progress


Work in progress entitled Aftermath oil on canvas, 12h x 36w inches. This is from a photo I took a weekend back outside of 29 Palms in California. It was a great site. 

Tonight I went to an artist meet and greet for the Roosevelt Row scene in Downtown Phoenix. A scene I've been part of for years. It was a great event. I spoke about my work and although I like to think that I do a good job of it, in someways there's room for improvement. 

In the new batch of abandoned desert works I'm trying to speak about living in the desert as well as about the buildings I render. The relationship to the coming of night and the coming and going of monsoon storms. I was born and raised in the Phoenix area until I was twelve and returned briefly for the summer of 87' only to leave again for Santa Fe another desert city to return about a year later. I've lived most of my life in the desert and I am a desert rat at heart. Although I love big cities and dream of living in Oregon, I'm very connected to the desert.

As a artist I find that the meaning within my work can be very complex and deeply buried within my psyche. Time to stop thinking and let my subconscious mind take over while I paint and reveal more to me about who I am.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Riverfront Property Somewhere Else

Just completed Riverfront Property Somewhere Else oil on canvas, 24h x 48w. It's based on a source photo I took along side Route 66 in California halfway between Kingman, AZ and Barstow, CA. My wife and I had gone up for the Rockabilly Festival up in Lake Havasu, AZ and decided to go exploring before coming home.

The title is based on the billboard, but as an aside it does seem like the grass is always greener somewhere else. In this case that may very well be true, but no matter where we are or how good we have it - inevitably it seems like we want what someone else has, because it's better than our lot in life.

In the desert works I've been playing around with the addition of monsoon skies. In the summer growing up in Phoenix the monsoon storms have been a big part of my life. They also have a wonderful double meaning. The storms during the summer are particularly turbulent, but at the same time with the destruction that they can bring they also bring life giving water to a parched landscape. There are very few moments in our lives that don't mark transitional periods, but sometimes in my life some years are more transitional than others.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Study for In a Lonely Place

Knocked out a study for In a Lonely Place last week. I'm still not completely content with her face, but this study has brought me much closer. I will be repainting that portion of the big piece starting tonight.

I have also been working on more abandoned/desertscapes. At the moment I'm working very hard not to pigeon hole myself. I have so many seemingly disparate ideas and directions at times, but it may simply be a case where I don't see the connections at this moment. In short, there is a connection, a thread that runs through everything and if I self-censor myself I'll never get to see it.

In other news! I will be part of a exhibit in October at the Tempe Center for the Arts called "Green and Gray".  More specifics to come, but I will have four large abandoned/desertscapes in the show.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

In a Lonely Place - In Progress

I've been working on a new series of works dealing with rented rooms. Hotel and motel rooms are really interesting places in that many intimate things occur within them, but they are inhabited only briefly and by numerous people. What I have noticed is that they are spaces that can unlock or reveal inhibitions of a hotel's guests unlike other spaces.

This is the first canvas of In a Lonely Place series that are in this vein. In a Lonely Place, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches. It's been really interesting for me to switch from exterior spaces and a more macro view to a interior space that has a much more intimate psychological story that is playing out.

It's really hard to explain how I'm feeling right now. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. Without meaning to it seems as if I've sorta "niched" myself as an artist. It's about time that I'm doing something out of the "box" so to speak.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Waiting in Line

Finished up Waiting in Line, mixed media on canvas, 24 x 48h inches. The source photo is from my trip up to Portland, Oregon this summer. I actually spent two days roaming around the downtown.

In this piece I kept the palette really minimal. The figures beneath the sign are the only full color elements. The title is inspired by the Zero7 song "Waiting in Line". The lyrics about looking at the world and not being content with what you see really hit home for me. My thought is how at time the world can seem very big, cold and distant, but the people in my life provide the color, love, and relief from these feelings. At openings I'm often told that my work is dark, but really my work is about the light and the dark is only there for contrast.