A hot summer day, somewhere in the middle of 1978 and I approached a puddle in the mud-cracked ditch, just one door down the street from our house. The water reflected the brilliant blue sky, and when I think of it now, that sky symbolizes all the memories of that particular time with its innocence, sensations and the ignorant bliss that was my youth. I seem to recall being with another neighborhood friend, but I can’t remember who.

We hovered over the calm water and could see a few scattered cotton candy clouds reflected in it; at the same time we could see through to its shallow bottom only a few inches below. I picked up a nearby dirt clod and dropped it into the puddle. I smiled as it hit perfectly in the center, landing with a satisfying plop. Tiny waves pulsed away from the miniature epicenter and a cloud of muddy water began to weave its way through the water, like thick cream poured into coffee; the heavy mixture swirls around its new environment until it gets to know it a little better and eventually surrenders, dissolving into its surroundings.

The puddle was large enough to sustain about two or three more drops before the visual reward was voided by uniform, cloudy water, leaving us gratified only by the sound of the experience. We soon discovered there were no other puddles in our ditch, so my friend and I began to look for a new adventure.

We turned to the traffic on the street. Syracuse was sort of the main road that ran on the northeast side of our neighborhood. Even though traffic was never heavy, there was always a car moving in one direction or the other, every few minutes or so. My friend was the first to launch a dirt clod at a passing car. The flying object skidded along the pavement merely hitting the back tire of the vehicle. This new activity looked rather enticing to me, so I picked up a dirt clod too and hurled it at the next car. POW! I hit that rust colored station wagon right in the passenger door! BULLSEYE! We managed to hit a few more passing cars until one of the drivers finally pulled over to yell his displeasure at our newfound sport.

Although he was visibly angry at us for being so careless, he still was responsible enough to take the time to explain to us why this wasn’t the most productive thing to be doing with our time. Partially because of fear (getting yelled at by a stranger has a tendency to rattle me) and partially because we respected our elders, my friend and I stopped our assault on the noontime traffic and ended up walking home to do something else.

Today, I find myself in a situation where I’m learning the lessons of being that responsible person. JQ and I have been together for nearly two years now and as our relationship grows, I feel more responsible for the influence I have on her seven year old son. Sometimes, he does things I simply can’t understand. Things that, as Bill Cosby put, would lead you to believe “that child has brain damage.” Sometimes it can be frustrating, but whenever I can, I always try to remember what it was like to be a kid- not knowing any better because I was still learning and experiencing life for the first time. I think as adults, we sometimes forget what that is like- to experience life, as if for the first time. Ultimately, I believe the patience and influence I want to have come from the ability to see the world that way again.

Return to the Norm

Well, I finally finished my newly designed website. Between that and all of my recent art events, the last month and a half has flown by. I'll be thankful to have my life settle down a bit so I can blog and post more work on my site. Stay tuned!


New Morning

A new morning gently kisses away any dilusions that rendered us impotent in the final waking hours of last night. Our troubles obscured by the thin veil that was yesterday. All is forgiven and the excitement of a new day entices us, replenishing youthful exuberance once again. Anything is possible now.

The Warming

I awoke to the blue air-conditioned hum of her apartment and climbed out of bed, making my way into the living room where filtered light adorned the cooled fibers of the carpet. Synthetically inundated and numb, longing for something natural... I remembered the sun.

I opened the front door and stepped outside, welcomed by flowers, bushes and the beautiful morning sky. My bare feet warmed by the concrete and I felt alive again.

The Slump

I walked into Janice's office, seeking her counsel on my recent drawings. We talked about my work and I felt it somehow necessary to offer a self-depricating note.

"I think I'm in a slump."

She just laughed as I stood in front of her desk, feeling rather naive.

Conversation Piece

Starting a painting session can be challenging some days. Because I work with oils, there is a period of time I must wait between sessions, to let the paint oxidize so it is dry to the touch and I am able to work on the canvas again. This chemical process generally takes several days. Once I am able to approach the canvas again, I liken it to running into an old friend you haven't seen in awhile. Although there's a certain sense of familiarity and connectivity, it's not always obvious where the conversation should begin. Usually, it's on a superficial level, but as the dialogue progresses, you are able to delve a little deeper into more meaningful language; respond to, impact and shape the conversation.

There should be intent in the exchange.

Creative Realization #7

Intuitively applying the delicate balance of what I learn at a particular moment with that of what I already know; teetering on the crest of a wave, between the unmanifested and manifested.

Just Paint

I attended college at Arizona State University, where I studied studio art in the School of Fine Arts. I distinctly remember my second year/first semester there. After spending my first year taking mandatory classes on composition and color theory, I had progressed into more specialized study. The class was something like, "An Introduction to Painting," and the instructor was Mr. Woods. I'll refer to him by his last name only because I cannot, for the life of me, remember his first name. I think it was James, but that sounds like the movie actor and consequently ruins it for me.

In any event, it was our first lesson- to paint a still life with the subject matter of our own choosing. I decided to paint my backpack, which was the only thing I had on me, at the time. I went ahead and rendered what I thought was a really colorful representation of the backpack with a contrasting, bright background; the work had a very slick feel to it- more along the lines of graphic design than fine art, per se. As Mr. Woods circulated through the class, offering feedback to everyone's work, I could feel my confidence build a little, as I was sure he would praise the creative excellence in my work. He paused in front of my painting and flatly remarked, "And what is this?"

My ego was so stunned by his blasé reaction, I could only stand by, lamely unable to answer the rhetorical question. After categorically breaking down my painting technique, he candidly told me to stop coloring in my work.

"Just paint," he said. I don't think I've ever been given better advice, even though it's taken me many years since then to fully understand those seemingly simple words. I'm still learning, but I carry that gentle reminder with me every day. Thank you, Mr. Woods- wherever you are.

Break On Through

In what felt like a harmonic convergence of all my creative energies, last night was probably the greatest artistic time of my life. Ultimately, I will let the art speak for itself to explain what I am talking about, as words alone simply won't do. In the meantime, I wrote down a few Morrison-inspired words during this prolific five hour painting session-

"Tonight, I spoke with the ancient guardians and they, in turn, gave me my own language."

Reality Bites

I found out last week I was accepted into the Art Students League of Denver's Summer Art Market. It's a two day festival where I'll have the opportunity, along with two-hundred-or-so other artists, to sell my work and meet art enthusiasts, as well as potential clients. As I was thinking about the show and my experiences thus far (this will be my fourth year of participation), I was reminded of this little nugget:

It was my second show, in 1999, and I was still relatively new to the experience of dealing with clients. Being an artist today often means striking a balance between the creative process and fundamental business operations. Because I do not have a gallery that represents me (nor did I at the time of this story), I am responsible for marketing and selling my work in addition to creating it. The selling aspect of my work has always been challenging for me, as I'm not exactly a "social butterfly." Never the less, it is an important aspect of what I do, so I've tried my best to learn and improve at the art of selling... this particular occasion just happened to be one of my growing pains.

A woman, who appeared to be in her 50's, walked into my tent with a few friends or relatives of hers. After looking around, she decided to purchase a painting of mine that really had some spiritual significance to me. The painting was set in a meditative blue background with various images that served as symbols to tell a story. I really liked the piece and was glad it had found a home. As I began to write up a receipt for the work, the woman signed up for my mailing list and we made small talk about the artwork. At the conclusion of our exchange, I said to her, "If you have any questions or want to discuss the piece at all, please feel free to call me." I was sincere and simply wanted to acknowledge the bond that I felt was forming between an artist and patron through a special painting.

Clearly, the woman wasn't quite as enthused as she indignantly replied, "I've already bought the piece. I don't want to talk to you about it." I was mortified.

Work In Progress, Take One

In a posting I listed a few weeks ago, called Orchestrations, I had mentioned that I wanted to document some of my works in progress, so here's my first effort.

After a brief hiatus from doing musicians, in order to focus on my Slices of Denver show, I was eager to return to one of my favorite themes. This picture was taken after my first and, thus far, only session with this canvas. The purpose of that particular session was to establish the story of the painting, as I had not sketched nor planned the composition prior. I knew I wanted to paint a saxophonist, playing in an urban setting, surrounded by buildings and a night sky. The buildings, however, seemed to demand a specific kind of feeling to them, but initially, I wasn't sure what they should be. I opted to render a church, instead of non-descript background architecture. My solution had nothing to do with religion; the church, in the context of this painting, is a symbol for the sacredness of music.

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.

So Write

Today was a gorgeous day in Denver. I went for a run this morning and passed by a sandwich-board outside one of the LoDo restaurants by the ballpark. I found myself admiring the chalk handwriting- loose but still legible.

As my mind wandered, I began to think back on grade-school; watching my teachers, through the years, writing their lesson plans, instructions and math problems that stretched across a panoramic blackboard. I remember being mesmerized by the motion of the chalk on the board. Even though I doubt any of them would really consider themselves artists, the way their arms flowed as they guided ordinary stubs of chalk across the board was often more captivating than the content itself. The writing equally imperfect as it was beautiful.

For as confident as I am in my ability to paint and draw, I have to admit the older I get, the more my handwriting starts to look like vital statistics on a line chart. How eternally grateful I’ve become for keyboards and typewriters.

Connection and Creation

Last night, I delivered three paintings to some friends of mine that had commissioned me to do some artwork for their home. I brought the works, one by one, into the house. As I hung up each piece in the very place I had designed it for, the art came alive. Afterall, the colors, content and sizes were all specifically catered to the environment of this particular dining room. It was gratifying for all of us to see the work this way, after going through a process where we had discussed ideas, designs and dimensions several months ago. It's easy to get excited about the concept of a project like this- everyone has their own idea of what the final product will be- but to actually see the finished product really creates a feeling that's hard to express.

Once all of the art had been placed, my friend Melanie said to me, "So, nobody else will ever have paintings like these, right?" I confirmed she was correct- I had designed the paintings specifically for them and they were not to be reproduced. A few moments passed and the idea really started to sink in. With great excitement she went on, "You know, somebody could give me $10,000 to spend on any art I wanted and I would never be able to come up with this. I mean, you can't just buy this kind of work."

Melanie was right- there was no way she could have simply happened upon that kind of art- it didn't exist. The paintings were created for her and her husband- by me for them- and that is what made it so special. After I left their house, I felt so happy and fulfilled- I had conceived and delivered artwork that had a significant impact on my clients; work they will surely enjoy and cherish for a long time to come.

As I headed home, down the highway from the foothills of Colorado toward Denver, I was struck by the sight of a big, bright orange moon that seemed to be there just for me to honor the moment.

P.S. If you would like to learn more about Customized Commissioned Art Work, click here.

Have A Nice Day

After a recent painting session, I went to clean my brushes and couldn't resist taking this picture of my brush soap.

At the time I took the pic, it seemed like a clear cut happy face, but now it kinda looks like a smiling ghost. Not as impressive as a grilled cheese Jesus, but...


Last night, I began work on five new oil paintings. For the past week, I had been agonizing over what exactly I was going to paint on them. Periodically, I would take out the large white canvasses and put them on my easel under good lighting to see if perhaps a design would reveal itself from the white background in front of my eyes. Perhaps I was looking for divine inspiration.

Slowly, ideas presented themselves to me. One was very clear, while the others began as concepts that needed time to ripen. Last night, it finally came together for me. I was the conductor of a visual symphony- waving my paint brush in time to the music, orchestrating the colors and composition of the painting while more specific images emerged in front of my eyes as the notes interpreted by the individual musicians.

I'm excited about the new work, as it seems to be a natural progression of my last series. The lessons learned over the last year are helping me work faster with greater focus. I'm working on a new Mayan painting, in addition to some dramatic aerial perspective pieces. I will be blogging about this body of work, and possibly adding some pics to go with it over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

The Kids Are Alright

Yesterday, I went to help my girlfriend, Jacqui, teach a lesson on art at her son's school. Though I wanted to help Jacqui, I was a little nervous trying to 'teach' first graders how to paint. I arrived at the session a few minutes late, so Jacqui had already discussed painting and Impressionism (the topic for study) with the kids. When I entered the classroom, the group was in the process of sketching designs that were going to be painted on the canvas.

After I was introduced to the class, I began to walk around the room to see what each of the students was up to. I was truly impressived at their drawings and use of color with markers.

Jacqui wanted me to say a few words to the class, so without getting into too much detail, considering my audience, I explained they would be painting on canvasses and gave a brief introduction to colors. I tried to make it as interactive as possible and was glad to know many of them already knew quite a bit about painting. Before we began, I told them that they should paint whatever made them happy and that there were no mistakes they could make for this project. With that, we handed out materials and I observed how each of the thirteen students reacted.

Almost all of them wanted to sketch out their idea first before getting into the paint. Several were very concerned with getting their sketch and first brush strokes just right and labored over their beginning for awhile. One little girl even brought up her canvas that she had drawn on with a pencil and said she had 'messed up' and wanted another canvas. I was surprised that for such a young age group, these students were already hung up on little things and so concerned about being perfect.

As the project progressed, their timid nature diminshed and they began to immerse themselves into making beautiful artwork. Even their teacher, who until this point had only been observing, allowed himself to paint on one of the extra canvasses, albeit begrudgingly at first ;)- he claimed he was no artist. After an hour of painting, nearly everyone had finished their tiny canvasses and laid them down to dry. Unfortunately, they were rushed off to their next activity- gym class, I believe- so, I never got a chance to ask them what they thought of our time together.

I felt a real sense of fulfillment and happiness from the project and was glad I did it afterall. I hope, if nothing else, I left the students with the experience of trying something new and being able to leave behind preconceptions. Picasso once said, "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. " I hope they all remain artists.

Facing Myself

I just finished my third self-portrait painting. Of the other two I had done previously, I exhibited only one, so I still consider myself relatively new at this. I remember the reaction from others on the work I exhibited last time (a few years ago)- some people didn't recognize the figure as me, while others differed in their opinion of how it was rendered and were critical. Criticism certainly comes with the territory, but particularly in the instance of a self-portrait, I was more inclined to defend my point of view... call it foolish pride ;). I believe this portrait certainly looks more like me and though I will no doubt do better next time, this is the best I could do for now.

I believe this portrait, entitled, "Awakening: A Self-Portrait," captures the essence of me. In doing that, I believe I have achieved success in the piece, although technically, I can still represent myself better. I learned a great deal from doing this work and am actually anxious to explore the subject again.


Like the writer who immerses himself in character to pen the lyrics to a song, so do I, for the sake of the story in my painting.