In the Studio #86

I’m finally starting to get some good work going in the studio after a few weeks of slow plodding progress, mostly on those cephalopod pieces. I always find these ebbs and flows in studio output interesting. I feel like when it’s slow that maybe the universe is telling you to stop and look around to take something else in. It’s hard for a driven person like myself to ever stop long enough to listen to any whispering muses, so slow output feels very punitive, like ‘why can’t I do this thing faster.’

I often feel like I have to produce as much work as possible because I don’t know how much time I have left to work. It seems like a thing many HIV-positive people feel, this feeling like ‘I gotta hurry up living because tomorrow might not come’. It does make the studio feel like a task-master at times, however. Feeling resentment at my creative obligations I think also affects my output. In any case, the easy flow seems to have returned and like an old friend who knows you well, so my friend let’s pick up where we left off!

After finishing my little squiddies I immediately launched into doing a new set of Puppet Pal Friend drawings. The title of this set “Puppet Pal Friends Believe Caution Is The Better Part Of Wisdom”, is supposed to be my reflection on the heady pace of events in my recent life. Also, they symbolize for me the need to sometimes stop and assess a situation rather than always impulsively responding. Compositionally the pieces all seem to be activating the entire picture plane, even when I want to make something minimal and understated. Often when I do a set of these drawings they start out very heavy and lighten up later, so I’m hoping these will follow that same path. Here are the first four pieces in this new set of eight.

I had this friend once who told me that the art supply store motivates me too much and that I should use what was in my studio already. I’ve mentioned this friend before and I’m wishing I could channel that energy more. I bring what he said up because this encaustic work“Hoops and Hoes” seem to constantly call out for more stuff to buy. I’m really wanting it to be perfect because I’ve never made an encaustic piece this large before and I’d like for it to initiate a whole new line of similar works. And so, I’m unfortunately reluctant to cut back and be more experimental, using shit-that-I-already-gots. While that’s not so much a problem financially right now, it does feel like I miss opportunities for discovery due to my insistence a work develops in a specific way. It’s all part of my OCD no doubt. This work when complete will hopefully feel like looking into a fish tank full of murky water and strange creatures. Right now it looks like a waxy mess, waiting for something , I don’t know. Here’s what “Hoops and Hoes” looks like now. In a week or so I’ll have the supplies in hand to finish it.

Here’s Hoops and Hoes. It’s a shell of itself right now, maybe 30 percent done.

This piece about my momma, and this woman Sabrina (who I’m certain she had an affair with), has finally taken off. I think for the longest time I was afraid of it, and I still have a lot of trepidation about it. I have essentially 2/3rds of it mapped out in my head and in my sketchbook, but the lower third feels unresolved. I feel like I need a sweet sweet cherry on top of this sundae and I can’t quite figure out what that cherry is. I’m leaning towards a creepy row of hands of women with their nails done up. It feels like a fun idea, but I’m wondering if it works conceptually with what I’m trying to convey with the work. I think I’m trying to tap into the everydayness of black love, to demystify it and place it in a very American context. That might be a lot to ask for the work, but it’s my reach for now. Here’s where I stand with “Momma Love Sabrina And Was Buried Wearing Her Bling”.

Here’s “Momma Love Sabrina And Was Buried Wearing Her Bling”. I’d say at this point the piece is nearly halfway completed.

I’ve been in this soft jazzy mood lately and so Dela keeps coming up over and over again as a relaxing painting jam. but while Dela is a reliable playlist it can get stale, so I’ve also been exploring this kind of weird band I discovered a few weeks back called “Soft Hair”. They’re a corky band led by two singers who seem like they’re singing out of tune. Their videos have them doing all these bizarre dances that remind me of Sprockets from SNL in the ’80s. They seemed to only have released one CD I could find, and the best song on the album by far is “Lying Got to Stop”.

Steely Dan entered the rotation a few weeks back too. For some reason I found myself listening to “Dirty Work” over and over again. It sounds so much like CSNY that I thought it was them for the longest time. I guess I’m into that sweet sweet falsetto sound these days. Here are YouTube videos of both songs.


As we enter the holiday season I find that my frenetic pace of output hasn’t really slowed down. There’s a bunch of work I feel I need to complete before calling the year a success creatively. However, as we enter this period of reflection I will allow a moment of self-congratulations on the fact that I’ve done so much. I talk with my therapist all the time about the need to be one’s own rescue, one’s own hero. Driven people I find never allow themselves the time for self-reflection regarding their accomplishments on being that knight-in-shining-armor for themselves; it’s always on to the next project. I exemplify this trait, but as I look over the last 11 months, where I started and where I ended up – in a pandemic, I am relieved that I more or less got all the important shit done creatively. Ambition is a cruel task-master as I alluded to before, so it’ll never seem to be enough. I’m losing my therapist of the last 7/8 years this month and I want to blog next on some of the things he’s taught me as a thank you for all he’s done to quite literally save my life. Until then do be well and stay safe! Happy Thanksgiving!

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