In the Studio #71

This week was my first full week back to work after my month-long stay home residency, and I feel like a mere mortal again regarding my time and creative ambitions. It’s a bit of a transition to go back to work after that long of a time away. I got used to the idea that coming to the studio daily was my life. I developed a pretty rigid routine just like I tried to create when I went to the Vermont Studio Center 4 years ago. And I accomplished a lot during my “time away”. I made nearly 20 pieces of various sizes, sold a couple pieces, despite a global pandemic – which I regard as a kind of accidental miracle which I’d like to replicate if I can. In this first week back to normal I’ve had an opportunity to look back at what I’ve done and made my plans for the summer. With my plans for the season so far it would take me the full summer to do what I did in a concentrated month, but that’s to be expected. I’m just happy to have had the time to work hard and burn through some ideas without interruption. The little taste of freedom has made me hungry, though, for a lifestyle free from a 9 to 5 obligation. Unlike many, I would put my time to good use.

Here’s the work that I did this last month or so:


This week I turned my attention to work on my latest planet painting, this time of Pluto. I’m making this work in honor of my excellent friend Tanya Saunders who recently had a beautiful baby girl. I think I’m gonna name this one “Growing Deep in Wisdom Like Pluto, Tanya Sees”. Tanya has a profound connection to the spirit world and I hope I can pull off an awesome planet to show her respect. I seem to be on a roll with these planets and so far things are going pretty well on this work. The construction of the panels are much better now then they were in the beginning. So much so I’m kind of embarrassed when I look at the backside of those earlier paintings. Artists often have to – by necessity – pick up trades along the way such as carpentry or photography skills, because we can’t afford to farm out those services to professionals. Its definitely affected the quality of the craftsmanship of some of my pieces over the years, but thankfully I’m getting better at holding a hammer, and my iPhone can take nearly foolproof pictures, though I’m sure my colleagues in those fields would quibble with my results. Be that as it may, I find that it’s better to forge ahead clumsily with an idea to see a portion of the original vision come to life, and thankfully with these planet pieces, the gamble has paid off.

Here’s where I am on my Pluto planet painting as of this post:


My schedule of works that I’ve devised for the summer includes finishing this planet painting series, continuing work on my Gnostic Confessions series – I have two more works to finish off the first chapter of that series, and working on a couple botanical pieces. This workload should take me comfortably into August by which time I will likely have added new works. I for example am hankering for another obsessive drawing series. If I’m able to carry it all off it will cap probably the most productive period creatively for me since 2016 with the last month included so I’m really excited about the months to come.  I feel so charmed lately to have my work and the peers around me during this time of turmoil. I really feel that – except for the somber news and for the really minor health-related adjustments (re mask-wearing, etc) – I’ve been largely unaffected by the pandemic. I, therefore, feel more obliged to work as hard as I can to take full advantage of whatever time I have because I know there are many struggling artists out there who can not get to there real work.

I’ve been in some crazy musical moods over the last few weeks. I’d call it a little musical-listening schizophrenia, actually. I usually come to the studio by bus and try to listen to something calming like something by the group Dela, but lately, I’ve also been hungry for something that reminds me of when I was a kid. I remember loving Luther Vandross for example as a child. I just loved the way many of his songs told these long unwieldy tales, they’re really some of the most indulgent R and B you can find out there. But he managed to lure you in with his silky smooth voice, somehow. I went from that extreme to this new group I discovered called “The Chariot”. This group reminded me of when I was in high school and I hung out with all these really alternative kids who loved metal and punk music. And so here are a few selections from these two artists/groups, Luther Vandross’s “A House Is Not A Home” And The Chariots’ “The Earth”.

I wanted to close this post by saying how distressed I am about the George Floyd murder at the hands of the Minneapolis Police. It’s not a surprise to me that this incident happened unfortunately but it’s no less sad. I live in terror of the police and do not trust them to protect me as I think they see me as a target. I work as an artist in an art building where police often hover in the parking lot and when I come to the building early in the morning I often fear that I will be accosted and asked to show ID or questioned in some intrusive fashion because I appear “suspicious” – police speak for black. On top of this quite literal mortal terror, there are hundreds of times a day when I find  I have to bite my tongue when I encounter microaggressions that remind me of the supremacist culture we live in and it is exhausting to endure. I think I may blog on this subject as I collect my thought on it further. I’ll also collect some musing on this new planet painting I’m working on as well as Gnostic Confessions 3 and the botanical pieces I have planned. Until then do be well and stay safe.

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