Hello Party People:
I wanted to update you on which comedians I’m painting next.
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In November 2018, I went to a Doug Benson show in New Orleans at Cafe Istanbul. I had tweeted about my excitement the night before the show and Doug ended up mentioning my tweet on stage. He started reading my Twitter name aloud and said : “Hey wait, is your last name really Galactica?” I huffed loudly and just said: “NO.” I’m kinda delighted to say got a laugh or two from Doug and the crowd. Needless to say, I have been asked more than a few times if Samantha Galactica is my real name. In the interest of transparency and honesty to the people who have supported me, I’d like to clarify and share a few things:
My given name is Samantha Hayslip, I was born in 1987. I grew up in Lisbon, Maine. (Never heard of it? I’m not shocked.) I went to the local public schools and graduated from high school in 2005. After high school I moved to Cambridge, MA and started attending the Art Institute of Boston. I went there for about 2 years and learned about a few different types of art in a short amount of time. I studied art history, I learned about photography, I was taught how to paint in oil and how to draw. I struggled with the practicality of my decision to study art pretty much the whole time I was there. I left AIB sometime in 2008 because I thought I wanted to get into nursing school and secure a practical career. I had a crisis of thought about studying to be an artist because I couldn’t figure out how I’d make money or start a career. I didn’t have anyone mentoring me in one way or the other so I caved to the thought that I needed to choose something more practical. I started exploring nursing programs in Boston and applied to several schools. I got into exactly zero of those schools. Struggling to find a direction, I took the advice of a friend at the time and enrolled in some exploratory classes at Harvard Extension school. Harvard was in very close proximity to where I was living and working so it made sense to study there. I never declared a major and lasted 2 semesters. I wasn’t asked to come back after my grades dipped below a B- for too long. It was an interesting experience but now seems like time wasted because I didn’t pursue anything specific.
I ended up moving back to Maine in 2009. I took a job at the nursing agency that I had previously volunteered at and where my mother also worked. In 2009 I became certified as a nursing assistant and was able to work in many different areas of healthcare, including:
Somewhere around July 2017, I had decided to leave Maine and formulated a plan to move. I came to Louisiana in late August 2017 and it’s been a great choice so far. I feel grateful for the people I have met and the connections I’ve made. I can now be an artist again and it feels natural to be working in the way that I do. I’m always going to be Samantha Hayslip, but becoming Samantha Galactica has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I was scrolling through Twitter when I read the first post about Brody Stevens dying. My brain turned to instant denial and that it must have been some sort of cruel rumor only the internet of today could provide. Then I saw more tweets, pictures and memorial messages. I felt and still feel a lot of disbelief that this truly funny and good hearted, positivity-pushing comedian took his own life. I do not place blame on Brody for leaving us, I’m just really sad that he’s gone.
In the days following his death, I knew I needed to paint Brody’s portrait. I wanted to memorialize him in some way, and I used the time spent making his portrait as my own type of therapy. It felt like my way of saying goodbye and helped me work through a lot of sadness by focusing on my craft in those few days.
Brody meant a hell of a lot to me because he shared things so openly and he helped me feel less alone in my own life more than once. When I watched his memorial at The Comedy Store on Periscope I saw that he helped not only me but plenty of other people during his time here. It was so clear to me how loved he is. I still feel a pang of sadness whenever his photo pops up in a feed, I miss him a lot. I know lot of others do too. All we can do is keep is memory alive and be there for one another.
Believe It Fund
Push & Believe!
Last September I was sitting at my display booth a local art show as people walked by and checked out my paintings. A passerby was perusing my art pointed at my painting and said: “Kinda folksy, huh?” while walking off. I realized in that moment that artwork can be easily misunderstood and that the message I'm trying to send isn't always received by the viewer. The big lesson here for me was that if I make strange art, which I do, it may serve me to try and explain it to the world. There's a big part of me that wants each individual viewer of my artwork to have a different idea on what it means, independent of what I say. I like to provoke thought and conversation as an artist and I'm glad if my work does so. Still, I think it's probably good to shed some light on my process and how I come about the imagery I create.
I do have a process that I like to follow. I enjoy creating little rules of each piece of artwork. These rules end up helping to inform the piece. For instance; I might make a rule that I can only utilize certain colors or tools. It's my thought that by creating small limitations that it helps me move my work in an abstract direction. I also change the orientation of my canvas intermittently while I work. I like to check that my image has visual balance and I think the change in perspective helps my brain see things more clearly. It's the same idea as stepping back 10 feet from the easel while working; a shift in perspective is good most of the time.
For these types of paintings I have adopted a stream of consciousness style. I'm not sure that is an exact or popular style, but it's what I call it. When I say stream of consciousness style, I mean that:
Part 1: Periscope
On a random morning when I was still living in Maine, a very famous comedian showed up to my Periscope: Bert Kreischer. At first blush I thought the @bertkreischer tag was a joke and couldn’t possibly be his real account. I finally believed him as my view count went nuts, and commenced freaking out.
At one point my phone was dying and I was struggling to find a charger. I was worried at the time that I would lose the crowd that Bert so nicely brought in if my connection cut out. Eventually I managed to plug my phone in and get it together for the remainder of the broadcast. Despite this shit show that ensued, Bert retweeted my broadcast that day and followed me on Periscope. Very cool!
By the way, the periscope that I'm talking about is: here
Part 2: A Mention on YouTube
I got a notification from Instagram when leaving the movie theater a while later. It was a comment that went something like : I saw the Bertcast with Owen Benjamin and I’m from Maine too. So cool that he mentioned you, and so on. I allowed myself to melt down/freak out for a second or two and then got to researching on YouTube. The dude was right! Bert mentioned me in the episode of Bertcast Featuring Owen Benjamin starting at the 1hr, 9m mark.
Part 3: Portrait
After I moved to Louisiana and got settled in, I was able to begin painting again. I first painted Doug Benson’s portrait and we’ll talk about that some other time I bet. The second person I painted in a similar style was Bert, and I was (and continue to be) in a learning phase of portraiture so I used a photo I found easily on his website as a reference.
A few months after I completed this piece, I built up the courage to send Bert a message via his website contact form. I crafted what I felt was a nice but not creepy email saying thank you and that I would love to send him his portrait as a thank you. To my delight, I received an email just a short while later from Bert’s wife LeeAnn. She said she thought it was so cool that I had done this and that they would like to have it. I sent it off and haven't heard much since but I remain hopeful that they liked it. I am not 100% positive but am pretty sure that I saw the painting a few months back hanging on his wall in the background of an Instagram story. I only caught a glimpse for a second. I hope that he at least liked it enough to keep it. Fingers crossed!
The above image is a portrait in acrylic of Doug Benson on 24”x36” canvas. Some of the white paint (eyes, teeth) on this canvas glows in the dark!
I have been inspired to paint Doug Benson’s portrait twice, and I had the courage to ask him if he’d like his own portrait sent to him just once. (He kindly said ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’) I think I decided to paint him after I saw him for the second time live in New Orleans and I actually had to courage to say ‘hey’ in the green room after the show. He was kind to me when I was very nervous to meet him and I appreciated that.
Doug Benson is a comedian that I’ve always had a lot of love for- he consistently makes me laugh and I value that beyond most things. I have watched and listened to a wide range of everything he’s ever recorded and I think it’s fantastic how he’s found a way to make money from each ‘thing’ in life that he enjoys. It meant a lot to me when I realized that anyone with enough heart and persistence can do apply the same equation to their own life. I’m inspired by his work and so I attempted to pay tribute by creating his portrait, twice.
I have been experimenting with larger canvas sizes recently and this was the first portrait of a comedian that clocks in at 2 ft. By 3 ft on stapled canvas. The background imagery was created by making a stencil of Doug’s favorite leaf and repeating that same image in the background. For aesthetic reasons these leaves are somewhat stylized and there’s a light blue, diagonal stitch-type pattern radiating from the middle of the canvas. The clock on the bottom of the canvas features Roman numerals, the clock is conveniently set to 4:20.
I paint comedians I admire and respect the most and Joey Diaz is on that list in bold letters! It was my goal to contribute to Joey’s legacy by immortalizing him in a painted portrait.
I created this artwork in early 2019 and it’s made with acrylic paint and metallic paint pen on a 16”x20 canvas. Periscope is a main theme of this work because Joey broadcasts there often and is well-loved on the platform.
This portrait of Joey Diaz (JoeyDiaz.net) is one in a series of comedians I have painted and this piece has been reworked twice because I didn’t quite like the lettering in my first iteration. I ended up doing some research, changed my technique slightly, and started over. The reference photo I used was a simple screenshot from Periscope when Joey was laughing a hearty “HA!” into the camera.
I absolutely love Joey Diaz for being not only a hilarious genuine king of comedy but for also being a very positive influence in my own life when I needed it most. Does he realize he’s such a good motivational speaker? I sincerely hope so. It has helped me out tremendously (see what I did there?) to just listen to Joey speak from the heart on Periscope, especially on days where I felt down. In the past few years, there have been days upon days that his broadcasts shifted my perspective for the better and I’ll always be appreciative of that.
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This painting exists among a series that were created in a stream-of-consciousness style.
This means that I clear my mind through meditation or other means and then set to work creating markings in pencil or paint directly on the canvas. This initial abstract design isn’t usually what takes the longest, it simply sets some boundaries up and alleviates the anxiety attached to painting the first brush stroke. The shapes created during the initial stages eventually give rise to objects, forms, and patterns that tell a story.
The longest part in creating a painting this style is in all the details lovingly placed on the canvas. Tiny brushes lend to the small details of this painting and help to create thin outlines, dots and dashes. I also changed the direction and orientation of the canvas several times throughout her painting session in the hope of creating a balance of form and color.