Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I Pad procreate app Videos
"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Visit my new Facebook Artist Page.

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 20135 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


As many of you know my art and teaching philosophy relies heavily on experience.  I have always been fond of the “monkey and typewriter theorem” and in my own work I have been pounding at the keys and turning out hundreds of pieces of art work. in hopes of producing something meaningful.  Exploration in the arts is a continual process.  Human beings, always seem to be searching for something, trying to gain an understanding of our world and ourselves. I view my work as a means of exploration, something that allows me to investigate, and contemplate my own inner experiences, thoughts, and emotions, as well as observations of the external world.
John Dewey in his book, Art as Experience , proposed that artistic expression is not "spontaneous."  “The mere spewing forth of emotion is not artistic expression. Art requires long periods of activity and reflection, and comes only to those absorbed in observing experience.  An artist's work requires reflection on past experience and a sifting of emotions and meanings from that prior experience. For an activity to be converted into an artistic expression, there must be excitement, turmoil and an urge from within to go outward.”  Art is expressive when there is complete absorption in the subject.

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The gun

The gun is a weed: growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants. Ink drawing/digital collage. 2015

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Big plans.

In 1953, my freshman year at Belleville Township High School, I spent  many hours drawing cars. The car culture was in full swing and all young boys were dreaming of sleek custom “hot rods”. My ideas were influenced by the futuristic cars illustrated in Popular Mechanics magazine. My Grandpa had a huge collection of the magazines in his workshop. It was the first place I went  when we visited him in Coulterville, Illinois.  I would study the picture intently and dream of building a car.  There was an ad in one of the magazines about the Fisher Body car model contest. I sent for the information and received an envelop with all the details. My favorite part was the schematic .  I was able to locate one on the internet and it still gives me the sense of awe I felt as a teenager. I like plans and schematics. I still fill my drawings with symbols, lines and shapes that look like diagrams.

I was really anxious to start the build but money was tight and wood and paint for the model would be hard to buy. Also, I did not have the proper model tools or space for working.  I did manage to get some wood but it was not the smooth pine wood that was suggested and I tried carving it with a pen knife.  I would work many frustrating hours on the back stoop of our small house.  Sitting on the concrete  and carving. It was problematic  and dangerous. I suffered many cuts and scraped knees.  Well to make a long story short, I never finished the model.  I still think about that failure.  I had expectations of creating an award winning model and I would have a special assembly at school; all the students would marvel at my achievement.

I have come to realize that the car debacle was a learning experience and I  incorporated it into my life and teaching.  I have had many unfinished project. and many of my students struggled to finish projects. It sounds sort of quaint and old fashion to say “you learn from your failures” but I think it is true.

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Isometric drawing.

I do not know it I have the necessary skills to write a book about art education but I have been compiling small snippets about my career in education and sharing them on Facebook. Tracing the twists and turns of my seventy-five year journey has been a enlightening experience. 

Of course, art teachers, course work, family and the creative process have been my main influences. When you dig deeper, small things reveal a complex network of influences. In high school, I was an average student hoping to go to college. The men in my family were laborers, farmers, railroad workers and mine workers. I was encouraged to obtain a skill.  Most students in my situation enrolled in “shop classes”. During the 1950’s the vocational education department was popular. Auto shop classes and drafting classes were very popular.  One of my favorite classes was Mechanical drawing. Projects were drawing on light green paper with specific borders and precise lettering which were called “plates” Neat rows of helvetica letters indicated the title of each projects. Clean drawings with tracing paper cover sheets were very important. I remember the Thomas E. French textbook illustrations and the wonder of isometric drawing (the word seems prophetic ). I was a good students and learned to be neat  and precise. That element is very evident in my work today and do enjoy detailed work with no erasures. 

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lessons in work and play

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”.

Whenever you trace the origin of a skill or practices which played a crucial role in the ascent of man, we usually reach the realm of play.

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2013 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Monday, March 30, 2015


The code key part one: the asemic solution

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015© Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Art of nature.

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.

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

It is magical.

“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 

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Patterns within.

 Patterns within the  realm of unconscious vision. A

Patterns within the  realm of unconscious vision. B

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dans l'air fermée…and innocent parody.

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. 

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Head full of truthful  images...let it go!
Ink, colored pencil, felt pen drawing.

“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

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bricks in the foundation...searching for the creative nexus.

Searching for the creative nexus. Blue felt pen. 8-1/2" X 11" 2015

The unexamined life is not worth living.
Socrates, in Plato, Dialogues, Apology
Greek philosopher in Athens (469 BC - 399 BC)

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 Catholic  grade 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.

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ode to DADA

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

Biomorphic sketches.

Preliminary sketchs that are scanned and used in computer graphic images.
Felt pen, ink colored pencil. 8-1/2" X 11

"Things hidden in my head" Copyright 2015 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.