Doesn’t Remind Me

Denver scene, detail

I was painting in the studio the other day, jamming to Audioslave, when I heard a familiar verse -

"I like studying faces in a parking lots, Cause it doesn't remind me of anything."

- lyrics to their song "Doesn't Remind Me" which is so appropriate in the way I've trained myself to see, as an artist.

As I have stated before, in order to see the visual world objectively, the artist must work to disassociate from himself/herself from preconceived ideas of whatever their subject matter is. The artist observes the world as if they have never seen it before, so as to avoid any visual bias and ultimately distortion of the subject matter. 

The end-result from seeing something that "doesn't remind me of anything," enables me to find more abstract relationships between shapes, values, and colors that set the stage for my own artistic expression.


Last week, I attended an artist reception at The Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce. The event, titled All That Jazz, featured my work along with three other Colorado artists. I was the only painter; the other artists were photographers and the work on display centered around the theme of jazz. The reception was very enjoyable with food, wine and a jazz band.

I met my L there. I was a little nervous and tense when I first arrived. After a little conversation with L and a glass of wine, we circulated a bit through the crowd to the area where the band was. As I listened to the music, I took in the shape of the instruments, the sounds, the textures of the evening. I tried to visually capture moments for future paintings. I finally relaxed and we circulated back into the group to meet people.

There was one woman who really fascinated me. She appeared to be well connected in the CWCC network and was introducing various people to one another. When she met me and discovered I was ‘the painter,’ she immediately knew I must be a bass player. I was shocked and gratified- few people take the time to deduce that I am also a musician, but I never had anyone able to pinpoint my instrument of choice through my paintings.

I left the reception satisfied. Not only were my paintings well received, but knowing that I was able to, subliminally, effectively communicate with somebody else through my art without the aid of words… well, words alone just won’t suffice to explain my feelings.


I was driving to the gym today, flipping through radio stations trying to get a decent song to play when I found Nirvana's "Lithium" playing. I cranked up the volume and proceeded to happily sing along while furiously rocking out behind the wheel. During the instrumental lead-in, I looked up in my rearview mirror and found a woman driving her car behind me, bobbing her head in time with the song. "Could it be? Could it finally be?" I thought to myself.

As music is my other passion from art, I have developed a lot of habits to keep it at the forefront of my life. In addition to actually playing it, I often find myself singing along when I can and for the times I can't, I find myself moving or lip-synching lyrics (usually in the car). As I'm driving, I'll occasionally peer into other vehicles to see if anybody else is grooving to their tunes. I've always thought it'd be a kick to look over and see somebody else jamming to the same song. I've waited years for this to happen... and today it did.

As I continued to rock out to Nirvana, I kept an eye on the rearview mirror and sure enough, when Cobain's voice came back on, the woman in the car behind me and I were both mouthing the words... in synch! Yes!!! A rush of warm fuzzies ran through me as the song continued, "I'm so happy, 'cuz today I found my friends..."

I wondered if she was aware that I was listening to the same song too, but it didn't really matter- the dream was realized, leaving me to ponder another simple pleasure. Our paths soon diverged, and I turned off the street to go my way as the song went on.

For The Record

Whilst I was painting the other day, I was enjoying a playlist of CDs by Beck that I had set up in chronological order. Usually, when I'm painting, I tend to favor a particular artist for about a month, recharging me through their musical catalog which, in turn, serves as an inspiration for my art. I like hearing the progression of an artist and how they evolve over each release through changes and refinement of their sound. I pondered the career of a musical artist- as they come up new material, record it and ultimately release it onto an album- and I thought how much my process has become like this.

First, I'll come up with some ideas- stories that represent a specific time in my life, either technically, conceptually or visually. After the canvasses have been prepared and their perfect white surfaces reflect the glow of my studio lights, I can see the possibility of perfection and delve into the process of my craft. The series of paintings are worked together for one to three months at a time. Over this period of time as each painting progresses, it teaches me something that I can apply to another work and helps maintain the harmony of the bigger picture- the overall "sound" for my upcoming release of new material.

This is such a larger concept than I had originally envisioned for this blog and I'm torn between blowing it out into a novel... but I think for now, it has served its purpose and I'll look to write more about it in the future.