Ephemerama #51

Over the last few weeks I’ve been waking up with really bad back pain, I imagine from wrenching and fretting all night, the twisting and turning can’t be good for one’s backside. This latest spat of physical discomfort joins a whole list of aches and pains both serious and mundane, which befalls everyone entering firmly into middle age. A weight problem and predilection to drink haven’t made matters better, eating and drinking are both so easy to do and are generally well tolerated socially until they’re not. Coping with the world turned upside down and seeing the worse of human nature, (like what’s happening in many state capitals with the anti-quarantine protests ), only adds to a sense of dread that I’m all but resigned to. My therapist asked me a few weeks ago how I was managing my stress over everything happening and I confided that eating and drinking were far too easy, I also mentioned that sense of resignation.

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Here’s an awesome tag I found in my neighborhood a couple days ago

I think there’s something to the idea of keeping one’s focus on the present, and on what one can fix. Painting in serial fashion actually teaches this lesson well. I often engage in projects that take many months or years to finish. Most of the time I don’t have the materials, times, or courage to do projects according to my vision. So I try the best I can to breakdown the problem into steps and I simply do what I can do, with the foreknowledge that I might not achieve everything I want but at least I tried. That’s my response to the pandemic,ย  relentlessly focusing on the present and a general avoiding what I call my negative chorus.

I just finished a group of drawings in my Puppet Pal Friends series, my seventh since 2002, and as I was finishing the last one I remembered what started me making these works in the first place. I’ve mentioned in other posts that they were inspired by a cartoon within a cartoon of the Cartoon Network show Dexter Laboratory. What I didn’t mention before is that I did the works shortly after grad school when I was short on ideas and scared shitless about how I was going to make it as an artist. There no handbook of course on how to be an artist, and at the time I was simply an academic machine. I did not have many marketable skills and had even less of an appetite for the corporate world than I do today. Now I regard most work for money as a devil’s bargain that the artist puts up with for making ends meet. All the while trying to convince themselves that they are still creative.

I’ve been luckier than most in that I’ve avoided being tied down to a job I cared too much about. The downside, of course, is that I’m far poorer than my peers because of it. In any case, Puppet Pal Friends came to me like a lightning bolt. It was meant to be a quick drawing exercise designed to loosen the hand and open up alternative ways of organizing pictorial space, and as a means to talk to myself. I’ve lost some of that rawness with successive series in this set of pieces. The works, which I do yearly now, feel very balanced and less free than earlier ones, even though I find myself liking them more. What has stayed consistent from the very first iteration of this series is that the drawings are autobiographic. I find it very useful to have this set of pieces to go to in order to unburden myself of thoughtsย  I don’t quite know what to do with. Every series has words in it, often buried and not designed to be read. I like how the letters just turn into compositional marks. The works are my musings. I’m usually happy no one can really read them because I’m not a poet, my writing style, like my artwork, is very pregnant, full of too much. Here are the first Puppet Pal Friends pieces I did back in 2002 simply called “Puppet Pal Friends” and the latest iteration I call “Puppet Pal Friends Hold Fast To Hard Dreams.”

 


I’ve been in a classic rock mood lately. Actually, I’m still all over the place but classic rock seems to be winning the battle more times than not. I’ve moved from my CSNY thing and now I’m back home with my Led Zeppelin thing added with a bit of Queen. Here are two songs I’ve had on rewind. Led Zeppelin’s “Bron-Y_Aur Stomp” and Queen’s “Let Me Entertain You”. Here are some YouTube videos for your listening pleasure.

 


After finishing this last series of drawings my long back-ordered supplies finally arrived so I am moving full steam ahead with work on my Neptune planet painting. Since the piece has several stages where I’ll have to let the painting dry and rest I’ll try to get in some Maxatawny Stitzer pieces and also do more work on Gnostic Confessions 3. Until I next post do be well and stay safe!

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