When I look at my art now it's no surprise that the nature of my work has changed over the past 15 years. There are spots of time in the last ten years where I didn't create any art at all beyond a doodle or two. However, I can look at my work from college and see how my current style is worlds away from where I started.
I was primarily a drawing artist when I was college. I wasn't very interested in painting because I had only experienced oil and had not tried acrylic paint yet. I found that oil painting was stinky and annoying to wait around for. So, I studied drawing and honed my technical skill. I took everything from basic techniques to advanced experimental art and I logged hundreds of hours drawing the nude human form in all shapes and sizes. Despite the fact that I think of myself as a painter, I regret nothing about taking so many drawing classes. After all, drawing is the basis for much of painting so it ended up bolstering my skills in the long run.
One of my favorite ways to draw was with charcoal, which is messy yet wonderful. It was a natural leap for me to go from intensive drawing toward painting. The skills I learned in those classes ended up being the basis for my understanding of painting. I remember that even as a drawing artist that I would incorporate pale colors into my work using watercolor or gouache.
My present work is anything but muted in color and I'm happy to feel nothing like the student I was in college. I almost exclusively follow my intuition while creating my artwork designs and hold value the stream of consciousness creative model.
How has your art style changed?
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I was accepted to two schools during my senior year of high school: University of Maine Orono and Lesley University. I had a big interest in Lesley after learning about their art education program in conjunction with The Art Institute of Boston. At the time, I wanted to be a teacher and their art education program was well known.
The single most important thing I learned there was abstract thought. It was in college that I learned to think in a creative way and how to better craft my ideas. Abstract thinking implies contemplating outside of reason and relies on symbols and ideas.
Here’s a very detailed and clinical sounding article about what abstract thought means.
A close second to this lesson is the art of defending your work and it’s message. Twice yearly, Lesley students at the Art Institute of Boston collect their work from the previous semester for presentation in front of 4 professor jurors. “Critique Week” it was called, and we all hated it. This biannual tear-down to my soul pushed me to defend my work which proved to be very valuable later on. Art school helped me open my eyes to the value of my strange mind. I learned that there are tons of people in the world who think like me and that we add something to society by doing what comes naturally: creating!
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Does everyone remember Bob Ross? I talk about this dude constantly because I feel he was an artist genius. As a kid I was glued to the television every time his show came on PBS. (Shout out to the folks as PBS for creating educational, inspiration shit that cable-free kids like me had access to.) For those who don’t know who I am talking about: "The Joy of Painting" was a TV show hosted by Bob Ross where he stood at an easel and taught you how to paint using acrylic. He created these gorgeous nature scenes, plucked from his mind, in seemingly no time at all. Bob Ross walked us all through his personal art process in a calm and kind manner. He has undoubtedly inspired millions like myself.
Mr. Ross used acrylic so now I use this type of paint, too. His work positively shaped me over the years and influenced my own pursuit of painting. I find that I’m able to work in a freer fashion with acrylic versus oil paints which dry much slower. With this type of paint, there’s no need for mineral spirits or thinner of any kind.
Now that I’ve learned the properties of my medium, I can work with them accordingly. I like to mix additives into my paints which allows for different finishes or dry times. For instance, you can add a gloss medium to your paint and it’ll dry with a high sheen. There’s other additive mediums available to create a matte finish or slow/hasten dry times. I like the versatility of this medium because you can create a different look by easily switching up tools or by pouring paint onto the canvas. Acrylic paint is archival and easy to care for over time. Some paint additives even help your work remain dust-free over the years.
TL;DR- I paint in acrylic because it dries quickly, it’s less expensive, archival and non-toxic.
Questions? Email Me.
My unique artwork is the product of a process I’ve developed over time. This post will serve as a little look into how I create my designs with some instructional photos.
First, I choose my surface. I tend to alternate between stretched canvas of varying thickness and archival canvas board. Both are treated with gesso for strength and smoothness. You can learn to stretch your own canvas, but I’ve always gotten mine from a local art store. I find it’s easier and is cost efficient if you buy in bulk and surf the periodic sales.
Second, I create a grid pattern. You can see by this photo that I started with equal quadrants that I measured out with my handy blue ruler. I made four squares this time around, but any size grid is OK.
Then, I find my tangrams and use them as stencils. I also utilize jar lids or cups for circular work. Please note that I drew this design in pencil but I use sharpie just as often.
Third, I paint my background design. Sometimes I’ll create a tie-dye pattern with watered down acrylic and others I’ll use just one color for the background.
I am strategic in my color choice and pattern creation. When creating my designs, I consider things like palette, balance, and visual weight. These considerations help me to create an aesthetically pleasing design with room for change along the way.
After filling in all the shapes I’ve created with colors from my palette, I tend to trace my design in bold black paint pen. I use a ruler to create crisp lines. This simple and final step makes the form to stand out from the background and read well from a distance.
Here's the final product:
Do you have a question about this or any other post? Feel free to email me.
Grief takes many forms, and no one should be able to tell you what you may or may not grieve over. The termination of a job, the death of someone in your inner circle, or the end of a relationship can trigger feelings of sadness and loss.
When I first realized what grief was, I was five. Over the course of the year previous, my grandmother who was one of my primary caretakers, fell ill. She had been in and out of hospitals and came home to die in 1992. My parents tried to explain to me what was happening, but at the time I had little idea what was going. My parents told me things like: She’s in heaven now and she doesn’t hurt anymore. Even as a child I thought to myself: Is that the whole explanation? I still couldn’t fathom that she had died.
On the day of her funeral, I sat in a limousine that carried most of my family members. I remember the car moving slow and being uncomfortable in my starched dress and frilly knee socks. With little notice, I became extremely nauseated and vomited in the back seat. My brain and mind were so young that I think I had trouble processing the entire event. The funeral was the first and only time I have seen my father cry. This day is burned in my memory because I was in the throes of deep grief and had little idea how to cope. I felt very similar at the funeral of my dear friend in 2015. Looking at his mother in the pew curled over in grief sent me over the edge. During the service I sat alone about 10 rows back, though I could see our high school friends on the other side of the church. I tried to be strong that day and it was very difficult.
I will not get into the details here and now about my relationship with the friend I’m speaking of. I will say that he was the first friend I ever made and that I truly loved him. He was my best friend for a long time and we were attached at the hip, starting when we were just four years old. He lived across the street- I could see his bedroom window from mine. We used walkie talkies between our houses, we played outside every day. We were inseparable! In third grade he asked me to be his girlfriend (I said yes, duh) and we spent nearly every day together. We were cut from the same cloth, so to speak.
He had a two little sisters including the youngest who succumbed to her severe physical disabilities when we were about 11 and she was 3 or 4 years old. When she died I think that’s when our relationship started to unravel. I think back I realize that we both didn’t know what to do with our grief and it changed our relationship. After high school, we fell out of touch as I moved to Boston for college and he stayed in our hometown. He worked, played music, and studied as well. In the last five or more years of his life, my friend struggled with addiction.
Like so many, he fell prey to prescription painkillers after a car accident that almost killed him. From there, it seems that he had a cycle of hiding his addiction, trying to quit, and then falling back into it. I had no idea that he was struggling, or else I was oblivious. Two months before his death, we were hanging out more often. We met up one afternoon and it was like we never left another. We went on long drives, hiked together, had deep talks and reminisced about our youth. On an afternoon after hiking I noticed that he had red marks in a small part in the crook of his arm. I asked him what they were and if he was okay? He quickly crossed his arms and said he was donating plasma. In my denial, I took what he said as truth and didn’t think any more of it. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.
In November, it will be four years since his death. I still struggle with it, I burst into tears sometimes. It’s normal. I have put a lot of effort into my recovery and I’d like to share some things that took me from the brink to where I am now.
The long and the short of it is that I use meditation. I learned it, I live it and love it. It has saved me from the brink of panic and utter despair in the past and I have confidence that it’ll help in the future. I can’t imagine the trajectory of my life if I had not added in a meditative practice. I use a free app (Stop, Breathe and Think) and Youtube videos as guided meditations. There are sessions that start at just one minute long. Even the one minute meditations can give me an anchored feeling for the day and smooth my emotions. The results of my own daily mindfulness practice have been astounding in terms of how I feel. I find that after meditation I’m focused, calmer, and more understanding of others.
Second and third, I let myself cry and I write a lot about my feelings. In order to not fall into a pit of despair when I’m full of grief, I put a timer on feeling terrible. I still do this after nearly four years! A ten minute timer on my phone allows me to ugly-cry my heart out and feel my feelings or write about it for a bit and then move on. This practice may sound a little strange but it really works.
Grief is a complicated emotion that deserves your attention when you feel it. I have been told by people who know that this emotion can take years to work through. That being said, it’s absolutely worth your time to work on healing and feel better. If you are struggling with grief or loss now, you won’t always feel this way. Take the time to work on yourself and your emotions and you’ll quickly see how it can help.
Questions? Email Me.
Hello Beautiful People:
I talk about comedy a lot. I can’t take back my love for everything funny now- I’m pretty sure it’s a matter of public record. You can catch me watching tons of stand up and I definitely follow what’s going on in the comedy world. Needless to say I’ve watched a hell of a lot of comedy movies. I’ve seen some of these on the order of twenty or more times. If they are on this list, then it means I can watch the movie time and time again and still think it’s great. Here’s a list of my favorite comedy films of all time in no particular order. Please note:This is not a list of all the comedy movies that I like and I'll likely update it as I remember more awesome things.
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There have been a few times in my life where I felt artists’ block. During those times I had nothing but fear when facing a blank canvas or sheet of paper. I shamed myself further for not having good ideas or for not creating any artwork. For me, this persisted on and off for years. Anxiety has proven to be a creativity silencer for me. I find that when I calm my mind that ideas start to appear.
Meditation is an excellent and proven way to get my mind into order. It admittedly took a few false starts before I made this practice into a habit. I’d recommend trying meditation apps like Calm or Stop, Breathe & Think. There are plenty of free sessions available between both of these apps. Both even offer a timed guided breathing session that has been a lifesaver in times of anxiety and stress. I have confidence that when you quiet your mind that all your good ideas will appear.
Second, record the things that come up in some manner! You can’t guarantee that you’ll have that same thought again so it’s best to keep notes just in case. The mentors I look up to also suggest this exact same thing. Writing in a journal or notebook around could be the answer for some people and talking into a digital recorder could be better for others. Keep track your thoughts in any way that works for you.
I recently worked with Chris Pemberton of Crisp Creative when I participated in Creative Mirror USA and he has some very interesting thoughts on creativity. Check out his TedX Talk here.
Breathe. Take a beat to focus with even a tiny amount of meditation and the rest will follow.
Questions? Email Me.
Looking up to famous artists is one of the smartest things that I can do for my prosperity. I like to read other peoples stories of success and apply their tactics to my own life. I recently finished “Tools of The Titans” by Tim Ferriss which examines the habits of very successful people. Literature like that makes me feel I’ve leveled up after I'm done. Think about it, reading is a quick way to assimilate others’ knowledge for your own use. All with no power or WiFi required. Thanks, books! Shout out to local libraries too, man. Talk about doing the good work for communities everywhere.
Anywho, I’m here today to talk to you about my favorite artists. These are the people who inspire and influence me the most. This isn’t an exhaustive list and there’s no particular order to it. I’m purposely excluding classical artists. Expect posts dedicated to these people in the future. Click through and let me know if you agree with me.
I’m actually a little late to the “Baskets” game. Have you seen this show? If not, I implore you to check it the hell out! It's great. I discovered this show embarrassingly recently: Jan. 2019 or so...and promptly binge watched it. Around this time two cloon-type things merged in my life at once which can’t be coincidence, right? After the Creative Mirror show last year, I found a mentor in Grey Anatoli Cross. He tipped me off about a show that was coming up that he was taking part in and the subject matter was clowns. I had been watching Baskets recently and was intrigued by the show, so I wrote to the art director and asked to take part. I ended up getting into the show. The Baskets piece plus some of my stream of consciousness paintings were displayed for a few weeks while the show ran here in New Orleans. I posted the painting on social media and got some serious love from the official BasketsFX account on both Twitter and Instagram. Cool!
I woke up one morning a few days later to a comment directly from Louie Anderson saying he loved it! It was really, really cool (to say the least) to see the response.
I painted a second piece and displayed it at my first solo art show at St. Roch Market recently and it sold quickly. :)
Please watch Baskets, it’s brilliant! We need as many seasons of this original and unique show as we can get. (Season 4 starts in June 2019)
Hello Party People:
I wanted to update you on which comedians I’m painting next.
Questions? Email Me