A lot of times I’ll include song lyrics in my work. In this case, lyrics from Nirvana’s ” On a Plain “.
I’ve thrown my lot in with painting, but I often feel that music has a greater resonance and depth to it. I find a lot of contemporary art to be fairly clinical, distanced. Out of touch with feeling and the deeply personal inner life most of experience.
I don’t always put text into my paintings, as I sometimes feel it too much guides people to some overly defined sense of what a painting ‘means’. To my mind it’s a poor work of art that has a didactic “I’ve put in signifier X, therefor the meaning is Y, and thus you should feel Z”. Without ambuigity, I find that art is simply another lie, and God knows we don’t need more of those.
When I put lyrics into a work, I try to convey a sense of how that song makes me feel. The feelings I had around it. Nirvana is particlarly powerful for people of a certain age and generation. You can see and feel in his lyrics why he killed himself. There’s a kind of self absorption and despair which is not uncommon in our world today.
There’s an old adage, “Think you’re enlightened ? Go spend a week with your parents..”. Our relationship to our parents is a primordial one. Perhaps our mother especially so. Our parents are humans like any other, but for us they once occupied a god like position, and they set the templates for all of our future interactions with ourself and the world.
What is your relationship with your mother ? How are you like her ? What are your feeelings about her ? Have you ever seen her words or tone of voice or ideas flowing from your own mouth ? What ways was she kind ? What ways was she cruel ? Have you ever hated her ? Loved her ?
How did the relationship affect you ? How did it affect her ?by
I do portraiture much of the time these days. To my mind the face is the area which most shows us a record of the human soul’s transit through the arc of corporeal existence. And one of the most interesting areas of inquiry, at least from an artistic point of view.
But I also move sometimes into portraiture. Body language tells us so much if we are attuned to it. Body language, and the energy which we can feel coming from another, if we are sensitive to it. And we do this by first being sensitive to ourselves and our own bodies. Both the corporeal one, and the much subtler inner body of energy, which, in a sense, is us.
When drawing faces and figures, I often transpose many different positions and postures onto one, to show perhaps several points in time, collapsed into one. There actually is a face in this picture, and that is part of our life as well. Our body is part and parcel with our face. Both are scenes of horror and joy, love and hate, peace and torment.
Performing life. This is all too often what we do, perform some set of rituals or programs which have been laid out for us…But our family, by our friends, by our society. Are we performing for some audience ? Some audience which may or not even exist ? Are we aware that we are doing so ?
There is nothing inherently wrong with performance, but is it nor wise to see the nature of the performance we are giving, and why we are doing so ?by
I often make these kind of diagrams. They’re a kind of exploration of colour and form and feeling and text and information. I model them after infographics and scientific diagrams, which is to say, after methods for the visual communication of complex artifact of information.
They’re also modeled after maps of information networks, and maps of space. Interstellar or otherwise. I found something profound in the reality of celestial phenomae, the vast panoramas which our universe is composed of.
As opposed to hard clinical data, I’m trying to express something more poetic. Something ambiguous.
The artist is only one voice in regards to what a piece ‘means’. What’s going on in this piece ? What does the ‘ resource sector’ have to do with the ‘The Mind’ ? And what does this have to do with dominating planets and Oz ? There is a kind of riddle here. Or perhaps several.
We often tell ourselves that it is economic or financial imperatives which drive us to utilize our environment in a fashion which despoils the very ecologies upon which life on Earth depends. But it seems that there is a kind of madness here. A kind of addiction to profits at any cost that seems more akin to an addicts desire for their drug of ‘choice’ than rational and sound decision making. Further, at times there almost seems a kind of bullying. A desire to render some kind of pain and abuse onto the natural world.
For much of our natural history as humans, much of the natural world was at times a hostile, forbidding, and overwhelming place. Now that it is not so for us, is it possible we are attempting to enact some kind of revenge for the millenia when we were at the natural world’s mercy ?by
I sometimes love drinking. At least most of the time. A lot of it was ‘self medication’ as they say, to deal with the symptoms and effects of different traumas I’ve been through. But then sometimes it was simply to anesthetize myself against the horrible suffering of humans in the present day, and throughout history.
It’s not the best strategy, but it worked for awhile. I don’t so much feel the need to these days, at least not for the purposes of self numbing, or coping with existential pain or suffering.
A psychopomp is an idea from Greek mythology, of a guide that helps people enter the spirit world. And perhaps that is one of the roles of the artist, to help people enter some kind of realm of peace. Death is hard. Mortality is hard. Life is hard. To pass from one state which we have been accustomed to, into another. Into another idea of ourselves. Into some reality of ourselves.
People always tell me things. Sometimes the worst things. They trust me for some reason. But If I can’t imagine doing horrible things, or what that must be like, how could I possibly help people forgive themselves ?by
This is more of a landscape. Kind of after the fashion of Chinese ink painting, but taking place in some kind of metaphysical or information landscape.
There are figures scattered about at various positions, and perhaps at different times. I love to think about or reflect on the connections who have with people we may never meet, or who have existed in other parts of the globe, in other times, or even the future. Of the forces and historical movements which move us and that we are a part of.
Dynasties of Unknowningness. And Prometheus. To enter into a new terrian of mind or life, or of discovery, we need to unlearn what we have learned (to quote Yoda, I think). We have some idea of ourselves, just as a society has an idea of itself. Some spirit it embodies. What the Germans called “Zeitgeist” (the spirit of the times).
But for a society to advance, either in a technological fashion, or more importantly, in a social, pyschological, or spiritual fashion, it needs to give up some of what it has learned, or accepted, and venture into the unknown. At one point everyone ‘knew’ that the Earth circled the Sun. Everyone ‘knew’ that slavery was just the ‘ natural order of things’.
It takes venturing into the unknown, and being willing to not know, to bring about a new world. To be Prometheus and steal fire from the gods. They’re all secretly rooting for us.by
“Acts of the Apostle I” is a great song by Belle & Sebastian. It tells of a young woman in Middle School whose performance in choir is compromised because of her mother’s sickness. One of the lines is “What would she look like standing be the well ?” in reference to the girl imagining what it would have been like to live in biblical New Testament times. And specifically, in those times, how as a 20th century teenager she would be seen more as a girl, and in those times, more like a woman.
I’ve thought a lot about what ‘women’ mean to me. What ‘woman’ means, both personally, and on a spiritual level. Both to ‘myself’ and to ‘them’. There is some kind of inner deformity there. Some ways we have debased or estranged or debased humans of both genders.
A human is not merely the sculpted form we see before us in our day to day life. They are a complex galaxy of cells, tissues, and organs, embedded with an equally complex society and ecology.by
I’m particularly happy with this piece. I don’t know what’s going on here. There’s something to do with the complex system which is a human being’s corporeal form.That combination of molecular biology amalgamated into various tissues and organs and spirit. Some mystery about how a kind of new order of consciousness comes to inhabit an ape’s body and become aware of the many aspects of itself.by
8.5″ x 10″ Acrylic, coloured pencil, and ink on paper 2014
I’ve been thinking about sense of worth. Thinking about the mentally ill. I live next to a building full of the ‘hard to house’ in Vancouver. It doesn’t really affect me, except that on occasion I’ll hear random screams and cackles and yelling from next door. Some people have issues. Real challenges. I’m just glad they’re not homeless.
Back in My Day 8.5″ x 10″ Acrylic, coloured pencil, and ink on paper 2014
I watched this great Ted x talk by Liz Mullinar:
She goes into how a great number of people with mental illness have suffered some kind of childhood trauma. I can remember a quote from a VPD officer in the paper, saying how he’d yet to meet a street prostitute who hadn’t suffered some kind of abuse in their childhood.
But of course, childhood trauma doesn’t just result in people ending up on the street, in obviously dire circumstances. Sometimes the survivors of it can be VERY high functioning. Entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, bankers.
Eventually though, all unexamined trauma and suffering come out somewhere.
Quarterly Bonus 8.5″ x 10″ Acrylic, coloured pencil, and ink on paper 2014
Recently there have been a few high profile suicides in the financial world:
People can be as addicted to money and power, as they are to heroin or alcohol. In the end, it come down to people not healing some kind of wound within themselves. Not being able to feel the sense of peace and contentment and wellness and worth, which is their birthright.
These suicides, along with Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s recent tragic overdose, again remind us that no amount of success, or money, or acclaim, can bring a person a sense of their own inner worth. You must recognize your own intrinsic value, in and of itself.
This is a problem in many ways, as then you will be forced to recognize the intrinsic worth of others, all others, regardless of their education, or status, or income, or in fact any external variable. And then you will realize that much of the way the human world functions and has functioned throughout history insane.
This isn’t cause for despair mind you, rather, it’s an incitement to figure out your purpose in life. Figure out what you need to do to help bring the paradise back to your own life, and to this world.
As Italo Calvino put it so eloquently in his book ‘Invisible Cities’, “..seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”
8.5″ x 10″ Acrylic, coloured pencil, and ink on paper 2014by
First off, I didn’t even know they did Ted Talks from correctional facilities. I suppose what with the percentage of citizens incarcerated in the US (a state of affairs that my own ‘decider’ in Canada, Prime Minister Stephen seems to want to replicate) this would make sense.
A very courageous talk by Andrew Chamber, about his PTSD, and how veterans affairs let him down. Essentially, after returning to the US from heavy combat and IED clearing missions, he was in a state of constant vigilance and paranoia, and armed at all times.
He was told by friends to seek help, and at the VA office, after he told them he was afraid he was going to hurt somebody, they essentially gave him some sleeping pills, and told him to come back in six months.
He’s now serving ten years in Marion Correctional facility.by
I’ll often collapse images of info cartography and my impressions of images of deep space. They’re both a kind of imagined space which receive their sense of the ‘real’ owing on the one hand to it’s photographic qualities, and on the other on it’s reliance or rhetorical presentation of ‘real data’.
Warehouse 7 9″ x 12″ pencil, acrylic, and ink on paper
Real World 9″ x 12″ pencil and ink on paper
Star Nursery 9″ x 12″ pencil, acrylic, and ink on paper
Inevitable Religions Ink, 8.5″ x 11″ Acrylic and Pencil on Paper 2014
I find protein folding fascinating. Protein folding is basically how mRNA (this is like a copy of a section of DNA that goes out and does work in the world) takes loose proteins and fold them into a three dimensional ’shape’ that can perform useful biological functions.by
Competing Translations of the Moon
9″ x 12 ” Mixed Media on Paper
The moon has been used as a symbol since the dawn of history. What is this strange levitating object in the sky ? It’s easy to take wonders like the moon for granted. As just some ’normal’ or ‘ordinary’ thing.Which it is. It’s also a miraculous object, a miraculous event.
In the 20th Century, walked across it’s surface, took their first steps into a new dimension of their of life and reality. And surely this a wondrous thing. But you too, every night the moon is visible, can take your own journey. Stop, take a look. Don’t think too hard about what the moon is (although that can be amazing too), but just look. It’s astonishing.by
What’s that platitude ? “ The problem with the world is that we use people and love things.”
A great article in the Guardian on it here:
” but a photograph whose purpose is to illustrate plenty seems instead to depict a void. She’s alone with her bags and her image in the mirror, in a scene that seems saturated with despair.”
I agree with a lot of this article on these luxporn selfies. I used to feel envy towards people for having more money, more things, and the capacity to purchase more and better Read More →by