Sunday, December 27, 2009

Paintings for Christmas

With Christmas now behind us for this year, I thought I'd share the paintings I made as gifts for friends and family this year.

This is a double double portrait of my nieces, Audrey (upper left) and Madeline (lower right). I worked on these two paintings simultaneously to make them fairly similar, since I was planning on giving one to my parents and one to my sister and her husband. The Chinese characters depict each girl's respective sign on the Chinese zodiac.

I made this painting for Audrey and Madeline (who will have a new playroom very soon). I tried to fit in as many diverse Disney or Pixar characters into this one to interest them. Hopefully, it will add a special atmosphere to their environment.

Finally, this was a painting I made for a friend based on the illustrations of Cicely Mary Barker. It was intended as a gift in Fall, but somehow it became a Christmas gift. Now I just have to paint three more representing Spring, Summer, and Winter (or so I have been informed, ha ha).

Anyway, I hope everyone reading this has had a good holiday season!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Paranormal Garbage

I regret to inform my readers that I saw Paranormal Activity at a local theater yesterday. On a positive note, I went with a friend who was dying to go and who generously bought both of our tickets and the popcorn. When I hear about the contrast between how little this movie cost to make and how much money it has made at the box office, it seems incredible how much audiences will pay for garbage (this comment could apply to an increasing number of big-budget efforts from Hollywood as well). As for the quality of the film...well, there is a lot of truth in this old saying: "You get what you pay for."

While there are some funny moments in this movie, it just seems like the most recent work in an increasingly long line of what I think of as "faith-based" movies. This is not to say that these films are biblical or have a religious subject matter, but rather that they require a great deal of faith on the part of the audience to suspend disbelief. For some reason, whenever I watch movies that are shot in a "cinema verite" style that also deal with paranormal or supernatural subject matter, I can't help but feel that they are even less believable than over-sensational or spectacular works. It also seems more worthwhile to pay to see characters that are a bit more interesting or unique than the average jackasses that can be found at any local shopping center. Maybe PA was actually written that way, but it feels much more improvised, as though the actors were given cards describing each scene, which they then played out in a realistic, unimaginative way. Just an observation, not exactly a criticism.

(In contrast to many well-known screenwriters, film critics, and film goers, I prefer memorable, clever dialogue to unimaginative if entirely believable dialogue that could have been thrown together by any illiterate. Screenwriters that exhibit their own style and personality will always win out for me compared to screenwriters who strive for authenticity above all else.)

It is difficult to articulate why I feel this way, but after thinking about it last night, I came to the conclusion that the simplicity of a movie like Paranormal Activity is partly to blame. When the viewer is incredibly conscious of the camera, and is fully aware that there is only one camera being used, the artifice of the movie becomes more apparent. PA consistently places the camera in one spot during the nighttime sequences when the characters are asleep. Although I recognize that this is the way real people might attempt to record mysterious phenomena occurring in their bedroom, this single camera angle prevents viewers from experiencing anything else happening in the house. Whenever there is a strange noise, it is too easy to assume that either the effects were dubbed in or that there were accomplices elsewhere in the shooting location creating these sounds while the video and audio equipment were running.

By contrast, a movie such as The Exorcist is much better at suspending disbelief because events, characters, and spaces are seen from more than one perspective. Although anyone cognizant of how films are made will acknowledge that standard filmmaking equipment must have been used to make that movie, the filmmakers were smart enough to use such equipment as storytelling tools rather than as a focal point within the film. PA places such emphasis on the presence of video/audio recording technology that it is impossible to become totally immersed in the story that is being told. The audience is constantly reminded that these "real" events are happening for the benefit of Micah's camera.

I'll admit that there are some strange visual effects sprinkled here and there, and to be honest, I really don't know how all of these were accomplished, but I suspect that some fancy editing (film's longtime and most faithful bedfellow) may be at least partly responsible. PA probably works most effectively for audience members who already have a strong belief in demons, ghosts, and other malevolent spirits, who will carry this faith into the theaters even before the movie begins. I can't say definitively whether this planet is swarmed with spiritual entities or not; what I can confidently state is that a movie is much more likely to impress me if it draws me into another world through the use of well-written stories and characters than if it makes me acutely aware of the way in which the movie was made.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In the Honor of Halloween

Since Halloween is right around the corner, I've been thinking a bit about the macabre. In addition to watching some old Roger Corman and Hammer movies over the past few weeks, I've even decided to revisit a collection of Edgar Allan Poe's work which I have not read from in quite a long time.

Yesterday, it occurred to me to post a list of some of my favorite horror movies here.

Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Martin (1977) - A unique variation on the traditional vampire story written and directed by George Romero.
  • Dawn of the Dead/Day of the Dead (1978/1985) - Although Night of the Living Dead is great, these two movies are my favorites of Romero's zombie films.
  • Re-Animator (1985) - One of Stuart Gordon's best films, with a good feel for the humor/horror combination that dates back to the days of James Whale.
  • The Pit and the Pendulum (1991) - Fine direction by Gordon and a memorable performance courtesy of Lance Henrickson.
  • House of Wax (1953) - Any fan of Vincent Price will enjoy this one while getting to see one of Charles Bronson's earliest film roles as a bonus.
  • Phantasm (1979) - One of the most original horror movies I've ever seen.
  • The Hills Have Eyes/The Last House on the Left (1977/1972) - Two great early films from Wes Craven.
  • The Thing (1982) - One of Rob Bottin's first projects, and his effects from it still creep me out.
  • The Exorcist (1973) - I generally enjoy William Friedkin's work as a director, but this movie may be one of the best efforts of his entire career.
  • Shaun of the Dead (2004) - A hilarious take on the ol' zombie horde.
  • Evil Dead II (1987) - From the days when Sam Raimi was making good movies.
I'll probably think of more later, but these are the ones that quickly spring to mind as being particularly special to me.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Meet the Anti-Koko

Within the past month, I have become more active on deviantART. I have discovered that the DA community is very supportive of my work thus far (although I'm not a superstar on that website by any means). One artist who has particularly impressed me is Julia Takagi (AKA martoo1973), or as I like to think of her, the Anti-Koko.

Takagi's work displays her technical prowess, understanding of composition, and subtle color choices. She is masterful at capturing and amplifying nature's beauty as well. Obviously, my work is often garish and impulsive, which is why I think she is my exact opposite. When working with color, I often don't have the patience to mix subtle colors; I'd much rather create complex hues by glazing premixed paints one over the other. Subjective thought and instincts shape my material much more than anything resembling objectivity. Thankfully, there are artists like Takagi out there, with the patience and focus to hone their craft to the point of sublimity.

Here are several of my personal favorites from her gallery:

Asian Sunset by ~martoo1973 on deviantART

Moonrise by ~martoo1973 on deviantART

Cherry blossom 1 by ~martoo1973 on deviantART

Dragonfly by ~martoo1973 on deviantART

Daisetsusan by ~martoo1973 on deviantART

Sunflowers by ~martoo1973 on deviantART

Autumnmood by ~martoo1973 on deviantART

For anyone interested in seeing more, here is a link to her deviantART gallery, and here is a link to her blog.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hello, Gorgeous (2009)

I just photographed this painting, which is made from water-soluble oils on 18" x 24" canvas. Basically, I started with the background and added a face that embodied the opposite values (a method similar to my "Serenity...Now" painting).

Have a safe, happy Labor Day weekend!

Helpful Advice for Bloggers

I just stumbled onto this link earlier on Twitter. Although I may not be able to implement all of this articles suggestions immediately, it seems like it might be worth it to try.

Thus far, my blog has been used in a relatively limited way (namely to share my artwork with individuals not connected to me on Facebook, deviantArt, or Twitter).

For those of you interested in maximizing your blog's potential, Webitect can be followed on Twitter here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Full Circle

Ever feel like your life is a long journey back to the place where you started? I've been feeling that way today, because lately, I've been thinking more and more about comics. Although I started drawing before I ever read any comics, by the time I was 12, it was reading comics that inspired me to learn as much as I could about visual art. I attended art school after high school, but my comics dream had been largely forgotten. Occasionally, those dreams would return briefly then get pushed into the furthest recesses of my mind. In the meantime, I went back to school to focus on music, and worked briefly for a music education website (during which time I wrote my only book to date).

Over the past year, I have become increasingly focused on visual art, primarily in the form of painting as anyone who has visited my blog knows. A couple weeks ago, I bought a copy of Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics. I had read this volume before, but it was the only one of McCloud's books on comics that I did not own yet. After making this purchase, I decided to re-read the series in order: Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics, and Making Comics. At this point, I am almost finished with RC.

Along with Will Eisner's Comics and Sequential Art and Graphic Storytelling, McCloud's works are some of the most insightful and inspiring books on comics. McCloud explores comics in depth, but he does so using the comics format. So the content is informative and rich, and the format shows a comics master at work. These books help stimulate my ability to think of new ideas, even if those ideas aren't directly related to comics.

Earlier today, I checked out some of the webcomics mentioned in Making Comics for the first time. (After all the years I have owned this book, this comes as something of an embarrassment. Sheesh!) If you already follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me post some of these links earlier today.

Here are some of the best I've checked out so far:

I'm still exploring the multitude of other comics online, and from what I've seen so far, I'm sure there are many more gems to discover.

I guess the only thing to do now is actually start making comics myself again. The idea of publishing comics online is exciting to me, especially since I have some good digital tools at my disposal. The precision of graphics software has always appealed to me, especially because I have a tough time drawing geometric shapes precisely on paper (even when using a T-square and triangles...don't ask me how I can possibly screw that up!).

So I'll keep working on story ideas, and sketching characters until I've got a project ripe for consumption.

And now...back to the drawing board! Err, I mean, easel!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


One of my best friends, Paul, likes injecting random phrases into conversations. Three of the most common are:
  1. You'll get that.
  2. Hard telling, not knowing.
  3. Sheesh!
I've been saying "sheesh!" so much that another friend's son says it constantly. Last night, I took some random reference photos of myself for a possible self-portrait in the future. One face in particular cried "sheesh" so I made this in honor of Paul:

Three New Paintings

Hello again,

I've been busy working on several paintings simultaneously. Here are three that I finally photographed yesterday.

Mental Menagerie, 2009. Acrylic ink and paint on 16" x 20" canvas.

I had bought several acrylic inks manufactured by Liquitex before beginning this painting. When I used to work with India ink years ago, I often liked to create continuous line drawings, some of which resembled a single strand of spaghetti folded and contorted to create an image. The lines in this piece are not continuous, obviously, but I think it has the same spirit and a balance between positive and negative space (or figure and ground).

Initially, this work was only black ink on white-primed canvas, but then I decided to add color accents. As you can see, those accents took on a life of their own, and as a result, the final image is much more colorful than I ever intended. I should also point out that the large face on the left was the only area that I penciled first; the majority of the ink lines were improvised.

Old Bug-Eye, 2009. Acrylic ink and paint on 12" x 16" canvas.

This painting didn't begin as a face; it was an abstract work featuring gold ink. Then I added the loops on the left (at first they were much neater, but I wanted to build them up). It was then that the face developed and I finished the work by adding watered-down blue and purple paint to add more definition to the face.

Serenity...Now, 2009. Water-soluble oil on 16" x 20" canvas.

Like many of my other paintings, this was improvised as I painted. I started with the background which looked like decorative paper to me. It seemed peaceful, yet in motion, so I thought that the next step might be to add a still, ominous element. Somehow the idea for a robot with blood dripping from its hand popped into my head. When I see this figure now, it reminds me a little of the Prawns in District 9, but I assure you that this was not my intention.
For those of you who missed it, the title is a reference to Seinfeld.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Why I Love Quentin Tarantino's Films

Okay, this may seem like a bit of a bizarre post, but I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately, having seen Inglourious Basterds this past Friday. I thought it would be worthwhile for me to articulate why I enjoy Tarantino's work as much as I do (without sounding too much like a fanboy).

First and foremost, I think his greatest talent is that he understands pacing of narrative structure as well as pacing of individual shots. Although Inglourious Basterds does seem to drag a bit more than it should, it was still paced at a more comfortable rate for me than District 9. It may seem as though I am comparing apples to oranges, but I have noticed in recent years that an increasing number of movies are edited in a frantic way. This results in a kind of Tony Scott/Ridley Scott/television commercial look that rarely allows a scene to play out as a scene. Tarantino has learned an important lesson from older films, giving the actors and the audience a chance to experience the characters and locations. Such dazzling visuals and montages often sacrifice developing characters or story to their full potential within the film.

Among other directors that seem to understand this are William Friedkin and Blake Edwards, both of whom brilliantly used cameras placed in a fixed locations with long takes at times. In doing so, Edwards also used the edge of the frame to great comic effect in his Pink Panther films.

Now I know that film is a highly collaborative art form, and that screenwriters and editors in particular may deserve as much blame as any given director for overcutting, but from what I've read about a director's responsibilities, I'm inclined to think that the directors deserve the bulk of the blame.

Secondly, Tarantino has a unique writing style, unlike many other screenwriters. Yes, he often wears his influences on his sleeve, and yes, his dialogue is often totally unrealistic but at least it has character. Tarantino tends to be highly self-referential, which is a treat for his fans and probably a nuisance to those who dislike him.

Screenwriting incorporates much more than dialogue, but when dialogue has personality I tend to react to it much more. David Mamet, Charlie Kaufman, Paddy Chayefsky, and Billy Wilder (with his writing partners) are a few of the talents that belong in this category. When you see a movie written by any of these people, you will know who wrote it within a few minutes. There are some films from the past few years that I've seen (particularly The Dark Knight and District 9) that have totally dropped the ball as far as creating and developing meaningful characters is concerned. Granted, Inglourious Basterds has fewer strong characters than most of Tarantino's other films. (The marketing and title of this movie led to the false expectations that the American soldiers would be central to the film and that the dialogue would be primarily in English.)

I doubt that I will ever consider Inglourious Basterds Tarantino's finest work, but it has left me eagerly anticipating his next project. I hope more filmmakers will strive to meet the bar he has raised, not through cheap imitation, but rather through their own inspired invention.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Random Improvisation

Last night I felt like creating some experimental, improvised works with my new acrylic inks.

The first one I have finished is entitled "Ink Blob with Tentacles and a Bad Attitude." I basically created it by asking the question: "What if I made an ink blob and worked outward?"

Not exactly brain surgery or great art, but I had fun making it. :)


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Recent Readings

It's been a long time since I posted anything other than my own paintings. Therefore, for the sake of reestablishing a little variety on my blog, I thought I'd mention a few books I've been reading recently.

First of all, I finally finished Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, a Pulitzer Prize-winning book that incorporates ideas from art, mathematics, and music to examine the nature of intelligence. I realize that I'm oversimplifying its contents with that statement, but you can go here to read more about it. The concepts within are deeply interwoven with one another, so I doubt that I fully understand it after just one reading.

One of my favorite new books is Alien Hand Syndrome and Other Too-Weird-Not-To-Be-True Stories by Alan Bellows and the editors of Damn This volume is a collection of freak disaster stories, miraculous feats, scientific absurdities, and forgotten chapters of history. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves the bizarre.

Finally, two nights ago, I started reading from my 1979 edition of Bulfinch's Mythology. I've read a section here and there since I bought it from a library sale a few years back. Lately, I've explored the chapters on Norse mythology and tonight I think I'll start the chapters on Egyptian gods. I have a few translations or retellings of classics such as these, but I find that the writing is often so dry that all the life is sucked out of these legends (Bulfinch isn't nearly as bad as my translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey). As a result, I am constantly reminded that it may be time to author new versions, or create new art works based on these time-honored tales.

Until we meet again...

The Return of Toby


Here is my most recently completed painting, entitled "Lord of the Frogs."

It is 18" x 24" and was made with acrylic paint and iridescent acrylic silver and gold inks. After a friend complimented another painting featuring Toby, I decided it might be time to create more works with this character. In fact, I have even started developing Toby's story, which might result in future paintings or other projects.

I can't remember why, but I thought a new Toby would be a good opportunity to incorporate a stamp. A friend had given me some frog stamps quite a while ago, and I had never really used them for anything. (The stamp used in this painting was manufactured by Vap! Stamp btw.) The other stamp will get its own time in the sun someday.

The title refers to the way that I consider Toby to be my alter ego. I started including him with my signature (especially on drawings or paintings) since I was 12 or 13 so you might say we've grown up together. He vanished for a few years but now he is back. I have also liked frogs since I was a kid (one of my first nicknames was Ribbit because of a giant stuffed frog I owned and the fact that I often sat in a frog-like pose) and, since this interest has been rekindled in the past few years, I now own more than 30 frog-related items. I assure you that most of them were gifts.

Until next time,


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Inspired by Facial Hair

Greetings! Today's post features a recent painting entitled "A Man for All Seasons" (2009, acrylic on 16" x 20" canvas).

It began with a mental image of a spiky goatee, which then evolved into the idea of seasons, or warmer and cooler areas, revolving around a central figure. I also wanted to create a finished work quickly; it took me less than forty-eight hours from start to finish (although my initial goal was to complete the piece in less than twenty-four hours).

It's been completed for a week or two, but I only got around to photographing it last night.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Gift Given

Two weeks ago, a friend of mine, Norman Daigneault celebrated his 80th birthday (albeit a little early) at a semi-surprise party. His daughters Ann, Joyce, and Mary began planning the event in January, and as soon as I heard about their plan, I wanted to help them make it a special day. I thought it would be nice to present Norman with a painting of him and his wife.

Here is the final result:

The painting is acrylic and measures 16" x 20". Both the older and younger versions of Norman and his wife Laurel were taken from the scores of photos that I scanned for a movie slideshow that was shown at the party.

Perhaps I will attempt more human likenesses in the future. If so, this will be the place to see them.

Until next time,


Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Paintings, New Programs

I recently finished two new oil paintings and finally photographed them to my satisfaction earlier today. Both works are 11" x 14".

"Star Eyes" 2009

"Dysfunctional Family Theatre" 2009

These pieces had been in the works for a while, and both were begun without a plan so each composition developed over time. Personally, I think it's very liberating for me to work that way; it's quite a big contrast from working with grids, trying to recreate a specific likeness or preliminary drawing.

Recently, I've also begun playing with Blender in earnest. If you on a tight budget and are curious about exploring the world of 3D graphics, Blender is the way to go since it is an open source, freeware program. I'm still learning how to navigate and how to think like Blender, with the aid of Blender for Dummies. As soon as I make any cool images with it, I'll share them here.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Hello there,

I have a new painting to share with all of you: "Syracuse Sunburn (2009)."

While working on some more painstaking images, I impulsively began an oil painting I intended to finish quickly. This is why the composition is simple and the range of colors used are limited. This work also gave me the opportunity to experiment with copal medium, which thins oil paint, speeds drying time, and adds a glossy finish. The digital version I am posting is actually a composite of two photographs (one taken with a flash and one without) to give the most accurate representation of the colors and the texture of the work.

Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Caving In

Yes, it's true: I just joined Twitter. Maybe its usefulness will be revealed to me in the future.
Back to defrosting my fridge.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bow Wow Wow

Hope everyone had a good Father's Day! If not, perhaps next year is your year.

Anyway, here is yet another painting. It's called "Portrait of Tazzie (2009)."

It is acrylic on 11"x14" canvas. I made it at the request of my friend Mary, who wanted a painting of Tazzie to give to her fiance.

Stay tuned for more work in the future.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Dabbling with Oils

Hello again,

For the past month or so I've been working more and more with oil paints, and I'm pleased to post my first completed work worthy of posting.

It's called "(Whoa Whoa Whoa) Skull with Fire" (2009, oil on 11" x 14" canvas).

Due to the time it takes for oil paint to dry (at least in my apartment), I've been juggling four or five oil paintings as well as some acrylic work at the same time.

In fact, I have two recently completed acrylic paintings that will be posted soon, but because I made them as gifts, I don't want to post them before they are given to their recipients.

Until next time,


Monday, April 13, 2009

More Digital Shizzle


I finished another digital work the other day; this one is entitled: "Crowds."

This incorporates some photos I took during a Harlem Wizards game a local school was hosting as a fundraiser (they also raised a lot of fun at that game, nyuck, nyuck). I then layered and traced these pics in Illustrator CS4 before creating the border.

I have over 700 pictures from that game, so I will have lots of creations potentially stemming from that one event.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Virtually Painting

I have recently been trying to get into creating more digital projects lately (although I am still painting the "old-fashioned" way too). Here is one of the first completed digital projects. It's called "The Source of My Dementia" (2009).

All the work needed to create this image was done in Photoshop CS4. I thought it might be fun to manually merge some photos I'd taken of my messy studio. As I spent more time on this project, I became intrigued with the idea of revealing an inner space after I noticed I could create a gateway from music stands.

I only used four photographs, but each one was duplicated at least twice to create the effect I was going for. This work provided a nice alternate from another painting I have been developing. I look forward to exploring other digital projects, and, as soon as some are finished, they will be posted here as always.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Boogedy Boogedy Boo

Although I enjoyed painting "Mother & Child," whenever I finish a work like that I feel a creative backlash. It becomes imperative that I paint or create some work that is more in line with my twisted aesthetic values.

Sooo...I present "The Three-Eyed Boogedy Boogedy Man of the Mountain."

I used acrylic paint, texture gel, and toothpicks to create this image on 11"x14" canvas. The techniques used include regular brushwork, squeezing the paint directly from the tube onto the canvas, scraping, and manipulating the paint with both paint knives and brush handles.

Until next time,

Boogedy Boogedy Boo to You!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thinking Organically

No, this post is not about any environmental stuff; I'm posting a new painting: "Mother & Child" (2009). This was a gift for my mother (who just had a birthday). It's 9" x 12" and acrylic on canvas (this image has been slightly corrected in Photoshop because my photo was pretty crappy).

I had the flu before I painted this. To get it done on time, I spent about 30 hours over the course of three days (and still got to my parents' house late for dinner on Mom's birthday).

I hope you enjoy it as much as she has.

Until next time,


Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Painting

Hello again,

This one is called "School Bully." I had painted the green character late last year, but couldn't decide what else to do with it until earlier this year. Unfortunately, I got a little too experimental, and had to repaint the majority of the fish (which explains why it wasn't finished earlier).

I'm also trying to get my feet wet with digital work, but I've got at least a few more paintings in the making. They'll get posted as soon as they are done. I'm currently fighting the flu (I think) so I'm not promising when new work will be up.

Until next time,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Well, here it is: the long-awaited self-portrait you've all been dying to see (yes, that's a joke).

So, now I'll move on to either finishing up some old projects or starting something new (I haven't decided which yet).

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New Gadget Added

After thinking about Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies cards earlier, I resolved to make my own low-rent set (the current edition can be purchased here.)

In honor of this decision, I added the Oblique Strategies gadget to the bottom of this page, between Mark Twain's Quote of the Day and the Headlines Ticker.

To use the new gadget, simply click on the Oblique Strategies card to reveal one of the phrases from the deck.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

New Products Now Available

Welcome back!

Last night, I added a few more products to my Cafepress store. Here's the link.

I'm working on additional designs for even more products.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Store Is Now Open!!

Hello there,

I've been mentioning that I was starting a Cafepress store, and I finally got a few products set up and ready to buy. Here is the link: Ye Olde Go-Go Go-Go Koko Shoppe.

Not much to choose from, but I'll be adding more items as they are ready.

I think I hear a turkey sandwich calling my name.

Until next time,


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Life in the Slow Lane

Hello avid readers,

As a fortnight has passed since my last communique, I thought I'd update you on the progress of my projects mentioned in the last post.

I've been spending the most time on my large acrylic self-portrait, which I didn't think would take so long to complete. Now a pattern is emerging: after the preparatory stages (if any), I begin painting with great hesitation, even if the composition is simple. Eventually, I reach a point where I get much more daring with my strokes and color; this is the point at which I know I am making a work that will please me. Along the way, I typically make many mistakes and many corrections.

As it stands, this stylized self-portrait is coming along, slowly but surely, awaiting more glazes and details.

During the past week, while waiting at the laundromat, I worked on the fantastic world/story I mentioned last time. I hate going to the laundromat, but I find that a potentially boring experience can give me the opportunity to brainstorm and explore the depths of this wacky collection of nerve cells I call my brain.

Hmmm...what else?

Let's finish with some movies or shows I watched in the past two weeks:

  • Kurosawa's Dreams
  • Black Adder (Series 1)
  • Jessica Yu's Protagonist (which features Mark Salzman, star and author of Iron and Silk, another great movie)
  • Palindromes and Storytelling (two films directed by Todd Solondz)
  • Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World
  • Lots of Woody Allen flicks, including: Mighty Aphrodite and Crimes and Misdemeanors (wow this list is much longer than I thought it would be)
Until next time,


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Upcoming Projects


I hope everyone is enjoying this freezing (for me) January day. Because I want to keep my promise to post more regularly, I've decided to write a post about some of the projects on which I am working.

  • One oil painting set in a fantastic, imaginary desert scene.
  • One oil painting (subject TBA on a black surface).
  • One acrylic self-portrait (although it will be more fantastic than realistic, still in the drawing stages).
  • Several random, unfinished acrylic paintings (not feeling too motivated to finish these at the moment).
  • Sketches for acrylic pet portraits.
  • Drawings and sketches of an imaginary world which will be the setting for some stories (if I get this world developed to my satisfaction).
I think that covers it. As soon as I have some new images to post, you'll be able to find them here.

Until next time,


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Painting for the New Year

Hello again,

Here's wishing everyone a belated Happy New Year! I honestly thought that I'd be posting more frequently here, so I'll give a quick summary of some things that I've been doing lately.

  • Reading from Just After Sunset, Stephen King's most recent collection of stories
  • Reading Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (This is my fourth attempt; let's see if I make it all the way through this time!)
  • Sketching ideas for pet portraits
  • Watching movies (Survival Quest, Hearts of Darkness, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, just to name a few)
  • Playing music and sketching out some new tunes
  • Painting
The big news is that I finished a new painting, one which I thought would be completed before the end of 2008. Yesterday I decided it was finally done, so here it is:

"Mustache #2" (2009, Plaka on Canvas Panel)

The reason it is called "Mustache #2" is I had a doodle that was going to be "Mustache #1" after I enlarged it and transferred it to the canvas panel. I drew the enlarged, mirror version (so it would transfer properly) freehand, which caused some unintentional alterations (hence the name).

I've started sketching what will eventually be "Mustache #3" then we'll see where I go from there. Perhaps mutton chops? Beards? The world of stylized facial hair is wide open.

On another topic, in addition to the movies listed above, I also saw Keith Jarrett: The Art of Improvisation. This documentary explored Jarrett's life, career and his ideas about performing. One of the most profound things he discussed was the ability of improvisation to stand alone, rather than as a way to get from Point A to Point B in a composition.

Personally, I think when I am improvising (not within the context of a tune, but actually improvising compositions), I am playing the most meaningful music possible. Of course, when I have listened back to such improvisations, I perceive a very different reality (a bit like the dichotomy of perception that Mick Goodrick refers to in his book, The Advancing Guitarist). Maybe I just owe it to myself to keep recording them, knowing the more I make, the better they might become.

The other thing Jarrett said in this documentary that fascinated me was that classical performance is almost designed for failure (I'm paraphrasing a bit). The performer of traditional repertoire already has success defined for them as playing all the notes in the score correctly, and an audience that will for the most part be judging the performer against an imagined ideal interpretation. The classical performer has already hit his or her peak if they have played perfectly during their practice sessions. There is not a lot of room for discovery once they are on the recital stage. I'm sure not everyone would agree that this is the case, but it makes sense to me.

Anywho, can't think of too much more to write now.

Until next time,