A study of the heart,soul and mind. Creating esoteric connections to the universe. Without symbols our lives would be as spiritually impoverished as sleep without dreams. Our waking life is full of symbolism operating on an unconscious level. A symbol is a sign which opens up or makes transparent insights and truths that were previously hidden.
My dad had a strong belief that work was not play and you should not have fun when you are on the job. I think his strong conviction come from the fact that he spent many years without work and struggled to find employment during the depression. He was very demanding and he expected me to work hard and never complain. If I complained he would just create more work for me. His favorite refrain was “stop playing around”. I was expected to come right home after school and do chores before supper. After supper I had to go to my room and do my homework and go to bed. During the school year it was simple work and school. He was a bit more lenient during the summer. I was allowed to play with my friends for a few hours in the late afternoon and sometimes during the long summer evening. However, most of the time I was playing with my brother and taking care of him. When I was about 12 years old my dad put me in charge of mowing a vacant lot next to our house.
I was surprised when my Dad purchased an old gasoline powered mower to make cutting the large lot easier. I had been using a push mower and it took about four hours to cut the grass. He was a very good mechanic and he was proud of his restored mower. He showed me how to start the mower and gave me a lesson on maintenance and safety. I was thrilled with the mower and for the next few months I breezed through the cutting process. The mowing became routine and I started to vary the cutting pattern. I would cut zigzags and circles; it was sort of an early form of crop circles. When my dad returned home late at night he did not check my work until the next morning. I had removed all traces of my patterned cutting and he was proud of my work and was not aware that I was having fun during work.
My creativity proved to be my downfall one hot summer afternoon. I decided to cut my initials into field. I had a great time making the large block letters. When I had finished putting the final touches on the “I” the mower began to sputter and smoke. Apparently, the aggressive use of the mower as a sculpting tool had taken its toll on the refurbished mower. I checked the gas and oil and both tanks were nearly full. I pulled and pulled the starting cord and checked and rechecked the carburetor settings. In a panic I loosened and tightened screws. The final attempt was removing the spark plug. The wrench slipped and I broke off the tip of the plug. I was in deep trouble. I tried to remember my maintenance lessons as the sun set on my “fun project”. I was frantic and my dad would be home soon. I spent a sleepless night knowing that in the morning my dad would see my handy work and I would suffer his wrath. In the morning I went to breakfast. I received a cheery greeting from my mom and a stern question from my father. “Did you finish the mowing” after a long and painful pause, I confessed that I had encounter a little problem. He looked at me and sternly and said “that is what you get for playing around”. I will not bore you with the details of my punishment but I still remember it over sixty-two years later.
It is both strange and prophetic how we remember and react to little dramas in our life. I am thankful for that harsh lesson, it just made cherish the fact that throughout my working years I never separated work and play; and I still do a lot of “playing around”.
All of nature evolves out of simple geometric patterns incorporated within the molecular "seed" structure. Each of these basic patterns contains information that enables animals, plants, minerals (and humans) to develop into complex and beautiful forms, each with an intrinsic awareness of its location in space and time. Being part of nature, we have a relationship with it at the cellular level which is experienced vibrationally, and which is nurturing. When these seed patterns are incorporated into our architecture, a vibrational exchange takes place between the building and its occupants in a way that is similar to the connection we have with nature, and which leads to a sense of well being.http://www.archinomy.com/case-studies/1938/geometry-nature-architecture
“If we open our eyes, if we open our minds, if we open our hearts, will find that this world is a magical place. It is magical not because it tricks us or changes unexpectedly into something else, but because it can be so vividly and brilliantly.”–Chogyam Trungpa
Plein air painting seems to be the “ art du jour”. Plein air is a term derived from the French phrase en plein air, which literally means 'in the open air'. It's a familiar concept today, but in the late 1800s when the impressionists ventured out of their studios into nature to investigate and capture the effects of sunlight and different times of days on a subject, it was quite revolutionary. However, it is not quite so revolutionary today.
My art is called “studio art”, which is art produce in a studio setting. Studio art is not revolutionary today and it is a quaint reminder of an artist in his cluttered studio, lined with plaster busts and manikin models to help him in his academic studies.
I decided to describe my work as Dans l'air fermée. Dans l'air fermée is a French expression which means "in the closed air" and it is used to describe the act of painting/ drawing indoors. which is also called La peinture avec l'esprit ("painting with the mind” or what the minds’s eye actually sees”) This type of art, generally does not require a classical studio, photographs, copy devises etc. All you need is a computer, a few sharpies and the desire to draw objects, symbols and images from the subconscious mind.
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” C.S. Lewis
Over the years I have seen many artists and teachers embrace appropriation in their art work and teaching. Copying has always been part of art education and teachers has stretched the aesthetic rules to allow using reference images. The picture file was a big part of teaching and and the commercial art world. My high school teacher had a large picture file will images that she used in her teaching. We all like to pretend that our art work evolved without “borrowing” a few elements from existing work or from printed imagery. My own work has elements of Picasso like images and symbology borrowed from art history. Some artists have built their entire career on appropriation. Google images provide thousands of images for artists to utilize with or without copyright. “Appropriation has been defined as "the taking over, into a work of art, of a real object or even an existing work of art. The Tate Gallery traces the practice back to Cubism and Dadaism, but continuing into 1940s Surrealism and 1950s Pop Art. It returned to prominence in the 1980s with the Neo-Geo artists.” Wikipedia
“Despite the long and important history of appropriation, this artistic practice has recently resulted in contentious copyright issues which reflects more restrictive copyright legislation. The U.S. has been particularly litigious in this respect. A number of case-law examples have emerged that investigate the division between transformative works and derivative works. Many countries are following the U.S lead toward more restrictive copyright, which risks making this art practice difficult if not illegal.” Wikipedia
Recently, I have been posting “ self-taught” or “raw”. It is an art that is disconnected from the everyday barrage of images and emerges from deep
Finding the starting point for your chosen profession is not easy. We often miss the simple decisions that lend us to our place in this world. It may have been something buried deep in our subconscious or an event that was transformative. Trying to identify this elusive nexus has helped me understand more about the meaning of self and consciousness.
Very deeply imbedded in my mind is a warm memory of my Mom making small boats and hats out of paper scraps. We would sit on the floor, put on our hats and sail the boats on a sea of wooden flooring, around cliffs of furniture and landing on the edge of a carpet island. The island was patterned with lush floral images and teeming wild imaginary animals. We would travel the world and evade sinister pirates and terrible storms. That small connection to the past is imprinted on my mind. It is the basis of my interested in manipulation of material and creative imagery. Throughout the years, I would amuse my students with this simple paper folding. I would create voyages for them using nothing more than simple materials and mental creativity. We would put on our creative hats and explore the world. When I fold scraps of paper to make boats for my grandchildren, I am transported back to those wonderful adventures with my mom and students. That early exposure may have been the cornerstone of my artistic foundation. Many more creative bricks were added each year of my life.
Another brick was placed in the foundation when I was in seventh grade. My mom gave me a large scrap of brown wrapping paper and challenged me to make a picture. It was near Easter, and my mom suggested that I make a picture to celebrate Easter. I decided I would make a picture of an Easter bunny. Since I was attending Saint Mary’s Catholicgrade school, my mom suggested that this secular image would not be appropriate. Undeterred by political correctness, I proceeded with the pagan symbolism. However, a simple decision changed what could have been an embarrassment into an artistic triumph. I added a basket filled with eggs decorated with Christian symbols that the bunny was offering to the heavens. The manipulation of materials and creative story telling showed me the way and solved the problem. My mom kept that picture with her for many years.She shared the picture with everyone and I remember how carefully she would unfold and spread the tattered image on the floor for all to see.
Rediscovering the bricks that support my creative mindset is an ongoing projects. Bits and pieces of images are revealed that contain codes the mind keeps under lock and key. Examining the symbols within my spontaneous drawings and paintings continue to reveal secrets from the recesses of my unconscious mind.
Cryptic series Electric Landscape. I pad drawing 2015
As an art instructor and artist I have received extensive training in the arts and educational theory. In addition, I have received a modicum of success as a regional artist. As a result, my art cannot be classified as raw art, untrained or outsider art. Outsider art has been a powerful influence on my personal imagery. The immediate primal urge to create something with your hands and wield any material to your desire is evident in the untrained art world. These artists do not consider audience interpretation or gallery showrooms. The quirky objects they create represent the familiar through distorted multicolored lenses. Is it art? Is it craft? Whatever it is, it is entrancing and has inspired me and many “trained” artists for generations.
“Pity the planet, all joy gone from this sweet volcanic cone; peace to our children when they fall in small war on the heel of small war--until the end of time to police the earth, a ghost orbiting forever lost in our monotonous sublime” ― Robert Lowell, Near the Ocean: Poems
The monoprint series is now available for purchase. The prints are 15"X21" including the white space around the print. Each gelée print will be hand signed and numbered. Only 25 prints in this series. The price will be 44.00 for each print. Please email me if you want to buy a print.
This series of ten prints is a homage to the Dadaists.The Dadaists used scissors and glue rather than paint brushes and paints to express their views of modern life through images presented by the media. A variation on the collage technique, photomontage utilized actual or reproductions of real photographs printed in the popular press.In Cologne, Max Ernst used images from World War I to illustrate messages of the destruction of war.I find my image using Goggle much like the early Dadaist used media images.I print the black and white images on 11”X17” presentation paper and use a Sharpie to enhance the image with personal symbolism.The image guides my imagination and provides a starting point for the spontaneous drawing.
The Giclée prints are 9”X12”, printed on heavy archival paper. Only fifty of each signed and numbered print will be available. Individual prints are 25.00 each and a completed set of ten is 200.00. Shipping costs will be added to the price. Please email your interest.