In the Studio #85

The Fall is moving faster then I can handle. Keeping up with all the challenges that have come my way lately continues to be difficult. Its always hard for me to decide what’s important and stick with it. Everything I’m working on seems so vital and I want to do the best job at all I attempt . I think one of the toughest parts about being an artist is that your the sole instigator of everything, it begins and ends with you. Most ventures as sophisticated as an art career have fleets of staff to handle daily tasks that happen for most of us creatives. I’m realizing the more time passes that the art-making portion of a successful career takes up fractionally less time than I originally thought. I’ve attempted to draw certain lines in the sand as far as studio time these last few weeks, and I have grabbed some good work hours in. Best to not let folks know your available seems to do the trick. With that said, I have focused on 4 main projects I’d like to get more or less under control to cut down somewhat on the 30 or so pieces of art I’d like to make in the Fall. That’s right, 30. Pretty preposterous that I would attempt that many but I’m kind of crazy when it comes to ideas. These four projects are Tyrone Goes to the Capitol, a new iteration of Puppet Pal Friends, a new series of 4 cephalopod inspired works, and tightening up “Ethereal in Minutiae Shared”. I will have more than a few all-nighters if I’m to get it all in over the next few weeks.

My short series Tyrone Goes To The Capital was supposed to be a fast sprint. I needed works I could quickly sell for a few hundred dollars for an event called Art-in-the-Park. It turns out that I had plenty of work for that event and didn’t need more. I ended up just about finishing one of the works while at the event. I was a demo artist at the outdoor fair so I treated the day like a work day. I think because I was nervous monkeying for the public both pieces on display felt a little overworked. I managed to rescue the second piece while I’m resolved to let the thick thick paint on the first piece just sit there and layer up. The colors and shapes in the first worked never quite coalesced in the sky portion of the piece. I was going initially with a wavy Thomas Hart Benton effect and switched gears later on for a more impressionistic effect. It’ll work out in the end I’m sure. I’m certain my disappointment at my indecisive technique won’t be all that visible to a viewer. That’s because the second piece is terrific and flows well. Sometimes the first work in a series are a bit clunky for me. Here’s where I am I’m with both works.

I’m been thinking a lot about risk lately. As I said at the beginning of this post I feel pulled in all sorts of directions lately, and I am often uncomfortable with making a decision, preferring instead to do everything and driving myself crazy in the attempt. Being poor as I am I feel like I have to attempt every risky venture. This feeling of indecision is the source of inspiration for my new Puppet Pal Friends series I’m calling “Puppet Pal Friends Believe Caution is the Better Part of Wisdom”. These Puppet Pal Friend series are a way that I engage in self talk. I use them creatively to shake up my hand and get it use to making marks in unusual directions. The self talk I engage in, with the unreadable text I weave into each piece, is just as useful allowing me to work out my insecurities right on the paper. I tend to be a confessional person, being told early on by relatives that I lie poorly. Having this upfront discourse allows this impulse to have some utility in this drawing series. Here’s some sketches of what I think this series will look like once I get around to drawing them, hopefully sometime this month .

The last few weeks I’ve really been obsessed with cephalopods. I saw that octopus movie on Netflix finally and I think it just stuck out in my mind. I wanted to do a series of works that showcased some of the underpainting that goes into my pieces. Those who know my works know that there are these steps that often get hidden from the viewer. I think of this body of 4 works as a continuation of a previous 4-set, “Higg(ins) Bosons”, which also tried to allow one of my underpaintings layers to exist relatively unmolested. This series, like the one that came before it, turned out to be more involved than I anticipated. Nevertheless, as the series continues I find that I’m enjoying the calming effects of just drawing the octopi and squids. Sometimes just drawing something can be so uplifting. Here’s “Cephalopod Chromaticity No. 1” and some images of where the other pieces stand.

“Ethereal in Minutiae Shared” is turning into a monster piece and its all because its so big and so important. Its already been selected to go into a show in Detroit in the summer and so its critical that I get the piece right. I think its this pressure that’s making it so hard for me to just pump it out . I’ve been grossly overestimating what I can accomplish with limited time. Taking on a work like this seems like more than I could do right now. The piece is somewhere in the middle of the color story phases of my 4-step process, that would be stage three. I have a pretty good sense of what its going to look like in the end so it really a matter of pushing everything else off my plate and just focusing on it. I’ve tried to give myself artificial deadlines to get it done but they’ve been largely ineffective. I think what I’m going to have to do it just give myself an few hour a day just dedicated to the piece so I don’t get too discouraged. I’m happy that at least its actively on my plate unlike the cedar shingle pieces or other landscape works that I have waiting to even get started. Here is where this piece stands as of this posting.

I teach at Northampton Community College, having recently left my retail job. My students are all lovely and I adore them all. They are so talented. In my Drawing 3 class my students just finished a still-life project inspired by Vanitas paintings popular in the Low Countries during the Northern European Renaissance. The students and I arranged the still-life together and I so loved what we put together that I may end up painting a version of it myself one of these days. Here are some images of what we came up with.


As per usual I’ve been all over the place musically these last few weeks. When I first started writing this blog posting I was in love with Drake’s new CD, “Certified Lover Boy”. Now I feel like it was initially a fun recording but, like Kanye West’s latest effort “Donda”, it was in fact very mixed. One song I really liked off the recording is called “Fountains”. Here’s A YouTube video of it.

Another hip hop artist I following right now is Baby Keem. He’s a cousin of Kendrick Lamar and you can definitely tell by the incredible arrangement and complicated story-telling. The one song of his I love is “family ties”, but only the first half of the song, the second part gets to busy for me. Anyway, here’s the YouTube video of the song.


To say that I feel overwhelmed lately feels like the understatement of the century and it seems like this pressure will persist for some time. It seems like I will just have to content myself to this feeling. Work need to get done and there’s just no getting around it. The one thing I’ve noticed lately, with all the pressure that I feel, is just how comforting sleep has become for me. I love going to sleep and staying in bed for as long as possible. Excessive sleeping has become my coping strategy. One way or another dozens of works will get completed over the next few month, hopefully there will still be a me left when all is said and done. Until I post next do be well and stay safe.

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