In the Studio #66

How quickly the world can change in the course of a few weeks.  Events of late can put passions like art in a new perspective. These events ask those of us in the industry about the relevance of art while there’s a pandemic occurring around us. I remember the last time this happened during 9/11. I was in graduate school and a group of us artists in my cohort decided to create work that responded to the terrorist attack and to do so with defiance. We were collectively saying fundamentalism will not defeat the creative spirit, hope, life, and art. I feel exactly the same today with coronavirus quickly turning into the 9/11 or our day, perhaps more severe, certainly economically. So, I am in the studio today working on my 8th planet painting, “Uranus King Spins Like A Top”.

Heres my studio from First Friday at the Banana Factory a few weeks back

This painting is a fun work to paint because the NASA photo which is the source material for the piece shows the planet rotating on its side, which is unlike any planet in the solar system. The challenge with this work, (as with all the pieces in the series “Friends Are My Solar System”), is making the work a painting and not a pale imitation of the photograph. This particular piece is that much more challenging because the underpainting laters of the work are so insistent that I want to leave some echo of them in the final version. I always feel the urge to cover what I did before in my paintings and I am constantly getting advice from friends and other artists about how that’s foolish or a waste of time. I mostly ignore this advice as I feel it often misses the point, which is that I know what’s there underneath and can see the legacy of what came before.

There is one aspect of this painting I would like to keep however which is the yummy space background, which contained cyan flecks amongst the black background. This cyan color is the underdrawing crayons and china marker layer of the piece, and I usually completely bury this layer, but this time around I think I’m going to fold some of that color in the top layer to give the piece a bit more of a blue-green glow in the space around the planet. This is the first and perhaps the only planet in the series that depicts the planets moons as well and hopefully having this bluish space around the moons will help them pop as well.

Here the original NASA photo next to this week’s progress on my Uranus painting

I feel strongly that calamity teaches us who we are and what we value. I value art and want to stay creative as long and possible, sickness be damned. I hope as everything around us closes down due to an “abundance of caution” – including possibly my residency in Vermont – that we all can choose life, joy, and engagement somehow instead of fear and isolation.

I’ve still been in a hip-hop mood these last few weeks and am still generally enjoying Tyler, The Creator a lot. I found myself playing “Tamale” over and over in the studio which in a strange way lead me back to Azaelia Banks. She has a new and very bawdy song out right called “Salchicon” Here are some YouTube videos of these tracks.



I’m working on a half dozen pieces right now including a commission and I hope to get to the studio more over the next couple days to tear into them. Hoping the world doesn’t come to a zombie-apocalypse end so I can get my work done. Until next time. do be well!

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