Sunday, December 30, 2007



There may be few choices to be made, at the end, and fewer moments in which to make them. I’m convinced, now, that unlimited choices and unlimited time may not be a good thing. In fact, it may just be the evil that personifies our era. Perhaps this is simply a man with a hammer speaking, but we seem to long for evidence of unity and coherence. For instance: I have spent quite a bit of time lately, familiarizing myself with some of the more intimate aspects of DreamWeaver- the popular web-design program, and it occurred to me, during my travels- that a great deal of the features that are included are devoted to conferring a “standardized” look and function to the product of the application. It is an unhappy, even downright ugly occurrence to avoid and evade using the methods of construction suggested by the program- the files get bigger and more unwieldy- the appearance gets “homely” and the navigation or function becomes more confusing. (See my website)

The need for freedom and personal integrity (I don’t use this term in the way you might think) - perhaps a determination to make one’s own way without interference from much of noise that passes for the life of the culture (or the culture of the life,) this is the grail – the doorway through which lies transformative expression- but this passage is probably not unified nor coherent. I suspect that a short attention span may well be an evolutionary tactic to push the “creative” impulse toward this. In transformation, the doorway is often an abyss.

As December brings a close to 2007- so also it finishes this year of sketchbook practice. I think there may be close to 100 entries in my sketchbook for this month. Now I need to decide on formats for archiving this year and establishing 2008. Something I never look forward to.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Pie Fight in the Monkey House


Big brushes for little paintings, little brushes for big paintings
Paint like you draw, draw like you paint.

Each time I come to a statement of fact- such as, "painting is reductive while drawing is additive," I immediately conjure exceptions. Yet, this is mostly true, for me. A drawing is almost always, strictly and additive process, with rarely any "corrective" subtractions. The lines are often nervous because they are direct extensions of my haphazard thinking and poorly organized directions of energy- (oh glorious waste!!!!) I am trying to capture that ethic in the paintings, as well, but I realize that my wasteful approach to painting is wasteful in a different way- I add and add and add, then take away, then add some more- the adventure and the gamble is to take away almost to the point of completely dissolving the picture (sometimes even that.)

There is also the perverse thrill of destruction, even cherished things.

Happy Boxing Day.

Monday, December 24, 2007


A Buddhist Monk writes a book on the nature of happiness- it reminds me of the magazine Tricycle- full of ads selling stuff so that one may better meditate, presumably. If I understand the gist of this book correctly- it speaks of happiness not as a state, destination or goal- but as a process- and I think I agree with that. Of course, this means that happiness doesn't always look "happy."

What I can't wrap my head (or my heart) around is the notion of some overriding and absolute "reality." First, and most importantly, I trust the idea that some things do come easily- when you stop trying so hard. For this reason enlightenment must be highly overrated. The ecstatic might be purely chemical and, thus, easily available. The notion that reality can be observed and appreciated objectively I find highly non-intuitive. The power of will is so limited in its effect so as to be largely useless in determining the course of a life- in relation to the scope of that life. Some will is useful in small ways- but it amounts to the same thing as sailing vs. driving. Driving will get you there- but you are really dependent on overcoming nature through the use of resources that aren't always available. Sailing is less precise- but the energy to steer toward a destination is always available and only limited by the navigator's ability see and understand the flow and drift of things.

Happiness might not be at the end of the journey- Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Losing the Line

Slumping in the studio- I get a new idea- I can't articulate it, but I see it from the corner of my eye- more on this later, perhaps. Sometimes drawing is an act of letting go- of little things like a tumbling line that dawdles down and simply disappears. Or big things- like the surely to be misunderstood shapes and forms that all too clearly stand in for the regrets- big ones and little ones, but then, this is the admission price for experience...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I went to see the Murakami show yesterday. Really good taping. There is something going on, there, but concealed by the interior decorating and house painting-
It is inevitable, as an artist, that comparison follows appraisal- and I realize that my own view of the universe is somewhat clumsy. I also realize that this is one of the things that others may hold against me- however, it is what I am, and so, highly doubtful that I would ever impress those others, in the first place.
Still- there is a thrill (lower case T) is seeing the execution of highly planned and structured work in which the outcome never seems in doubt.
If I understand the intention- it would seem that there is a spoof of an organized take-over in marketing, on a galactic scale- but out at the edges- (Inochi, specifically) there is enough ick factor to feel assured that few will sit still for it. Glorious to watch, though.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Update December 15, 2007

I guess I got a notion to render, a little, this week. I haven't really done this in a long time and I'm pretty rusty at it. One of the things that prevents me from keeping in practice is that it takes sooooo long. On the other hand, if your standards are somewhat lax and your ambitions light- like mine- rendering can be a relaxing and pleasureable pasttime. Kind of like putting it in gear and heading out on the road for a Sunday drive in the country.

Also, finally filled up the brown sketchbook- so no more of that- although I like the look of the paper- it really is difficult to deal with the limitation of value that the darker surface imposes- for instance- I couldn't really put a light tone down to cheat the form- so, today, I'll go out and buy a new book- white pages, this time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In the Kingdom of the Blind

John Dewey: "The conception that objects have fixed and unalterable values is precisely the prejuidice from which art emancipates us."

Our duty to each other is to re-present those moments of liberation, somehow, amongst the responsibilities of survival, social adhesion and the anxiety of careerism. If you can turn away from the wind of all this, even for a moment, and not give a fuck, one way or the other, whether anyone understands or even cares- that's the trick. I do think we all have an audience of a hundred, or so, some less, some more, that do get it- to my audience, wherever you are- thanks!

"What will will they think of my hat,
the Polish, in a hundred years?

What will they say about my poetry,
Who never touched my blood?

How do we measure the foam
That slips from the beer?

What does a fly do, imprisoned
in one of Petrarch's sonnets?"

-Pablo Neruda
Number Ten- the Book of Questions

Monday, December 10, 2007


I recently read something about complaining and it went like this: "try to go a month without complaining," so I've been trying to follow this advice- it's hard. I'm not sure, but I think I see some benefits- kind of like taking a mood enhancer, only there are no pills invovled.
Now, I'm not certain I care wether it makes me a more pleasant person to be around- but I do think I see where it makes things a little easier- day-to-day.
Now for the complaining: it has been a little difficult to get to my work the last few days- and when I have been able to do so, the work feels a little listless and becalmed.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Shortest Distance

A new idea for images comes to me: people who wear two hats. But then, this starts veering dangerously close to illustration- which, although not a bad place, is not where I want to go. For some reason indefiniteness appeals to me. Even if it creates a longing for something more coherent, more complete, that cannot be satisfied.
I remember this feeling from my earliest awareness- a deep, painful desire- not sexual, not from hunger or lack of comfort, but, something undefinable. Now, looking back, I realize that this black hole in the center of everything, is the cause of everything, both good and bad. I suspect this is true for most living beings. It may also be true of rocks.
If I were to write a true manifesto it might also contain the maxims: "make it easy to do," and "play." I learn so much about these things from my dog, Penny. She knows we must work, and she makes her daily journeys with some degree of purpose and gravity. But, she also takes the time to divert, to ramble, to smell and mark and sniff out possibility.
Sometimes the shortest distance between two points is not worth the trip.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Flu

Crazy dreams where facts collide from different parts of the file system- an exquisite corpse (almost literally- because I thought about being dead and felt that it couldn't be too much worse than this) of commercials and football and cat and dog and soup and water than pee than nod off then wake because I can't breathe than pee again but it's too cold to get out of bed...........

I think I was watching something about mummies because these faces came back to me this morning.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

We are the Hollow Men

Samuel Johnson said, " Where there is leisure for fiction, there is little grief." What this means to me is that art doesn't make us better, it helps us cope. In a perfectly harmonious and orderly society there would be no need for art.
John Cage said something quite similar - that he "could imagine a world without art and could see where it wouldn't necessarily be a bad place." (I'm paraphrasing- and probably have it all wrong.)
Suppose John D Rockefeller came upon the Buddha on a city street. I imagine they would become fast friends and have quite a lot to say to one another- both robber barons sharing a joke about the teacher who named a teddy bear Mohammed.
....Alas! Our dried voices, when we whisper together, are quiet and meaningless,...........
In comes December and I have a new page to share with you. I should also share some facts about my practice as well as something of the spirit behind my sketchbooks. First, I draw every morning, usually at breakfast. On those days when I am in the studio, (usually 2 to 3 days a week, right now,) I draw more. Often, I have no idea where I'm going at the moment the pen first touches the paper. I have no need to draw anything, any more- I just draw. Like breathing. It's quite apart, as you can probably tell, from "seeing."
Well, maybe I'm trying to see inwardly.
At the same time, I have no reservations about appropriating or "sampling" photographic material or even ideas from other artists. No particualr artist is of any more importance to me than any other- with some exceptions: Goya, Arnold Mesches, Jean Rustin are very much on my mind, right now. (There may be a few others, forgive me.)
I no longer need to remind myself that I'll always be a beginner.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Process and Memory

As I was housecleaning last weekend, I came across a bunch of travel photos taken on various trips throughout the years. In 1989, patty and I went to Paris for our Anniversary. I took a Pentax K1000 (old school) and took hundreds of really boring snapshots- Long story short- I decided to explore some of the ideas in my sketchbook-
The Nike is not exactly the way the photo suggests it- but more blended with what I remember of the moment you come around the corner onto the main staircase of the Louvre from the lobby (I probably am not remembering this accurately)
The point is really the mob with its back on history while the anchoring the base of the triangle is the lone figure of a sleepy, bored guard- apart and, somewhat, redundant. Above it all strides the judgement of destiny- a shabby victory of the gods- what good are wings when you have neither arms nor head?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

We do what we want- we get what we want

Sketchbook update November 25, 2007
My wife says, "We do what we want." What she means by this is that people often say that they want to do this, that or some other thing, as in, "I want to learn to play the piano." If we really wanted to play the piano, we would be doing it- right now, today, no matter how badly or well. It wouldn't matter. If I could only give my students one gift, one lesson, one thing to take away from their time with me, it would be the gift of this moment of clarity. What ever you are doing, right now, is what you really want to do, even if that's drinking beer, watching the Beverly Hillbillies and smoking pot.

oh yes,
there are worse things
than being alone
but it often takes
decades to realize this
and most often
when you do
it's too late

and there's nothing worse than
too late.

Charles Bukowski

Saturday, November 24, 2007

First Entry

I begin this blog as an extension of my website - a way to verbalize what I'm trying to do with the expressive content of my sketchbook.
First, a bit about the daily practice of a sketchbook: for me it is a form of diary- a way of parsing the world and its experience presented through my daily existence, my dream-life and the things I love, hate, hope for and fear. By the very nature of the exercise it is at once poetic and ineffable. It is inconsequential and gigantic. Hopefully, it operates outside the need for qualitative measurement.
My need to sometimes explain doesn't seem to fit very elegantly into the universe of the website, itself, so, hopefully, this blog may act as a "junk drawer" for all that stuff that doesn't fit elsewhere.

Let's face it- some of it is, lacking a context for it, not good. I admit to relying on a certain amount of artistic pretension to cover up for my lack of ability. Simultaneously I hold the belief that true authenticity must come from a certain fearlessness. As a maker of images all makers must, at some point, show their work to someone. Without this resolving act the work itself seems to remain inchoate-only partially formed. (Or is it just an ornate justification for shameless exhibitionism and self-promotion trying to pass for humility?)

"Even the president of the united states must sometimes have to stand naked."*

Over the next few months I will post a new entry each time I update my website sketchbook, typically two or three times each week.