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Clues from the future...

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    Moving sculpture

    Recently I've become captivated by artists who make moving sculptures, or should I say movable sculptures? The artist I first discovered was presented in episode 5 of MakeZine television. The motorized wave sculptures, created by visionary maker Reuben Margolin, are elegant and hypnotic. Make magazine has been a real hit for O'Reilly Publishing, and the extension of the magazine into video has been very inspiring. I really appreciate O'Reilly making a version of the video available for download. This is an important concept a lot of content producers haven't yet figured out. If you're going to go through the trouble of producing content, it makes little sense to throw up obstacles to obstruct people from consuming that content, of course, this is at the heart of the entire debate raging in the publishing world.

    The other artist is Theo Jansen, which I learned of from the fantastic Boing Boing. According to his own description, Theo is building new life forms, which he aims for them to survive on their own.  In this short video from the TED Talks, Theo gives a brief overview of some of the inner working of his creations. He also describes his driving motivation in attempting to make his creations self-sufficient.

    These two artists have inspired me to make some moving or movable art. The first form that comes to mind is the mobile.  I made one a while back out of used aluminum racing horse shoes. My daughter and I worked on it for a cousin of mine who loves and owns a bunch of horses. I thought it turned out pretty cool, but I visited her place last year when my brother died, and the mobile has still hanging on the wall of her stable where she put it several years before. Boy everybody is a critic, right?

    The other form that comes to mind is the weather vane type of sculptures made for the movie Twister, remember those? A little googling turned up that the artist commissioned for the movie was Evan Lewis. Another related artist I found was Lyman Whitaker, who makes Outdoor Kinetic Sculptures.

    All of this is totally overwhelming, but fascinating, truly fascinating.

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    1rst International Art Mail Exhibition of Puerto Rico 2010

    I've already trimmed some paper in preparation of creating two pieces for the 1st International Art Mail Exhibition of Puerto Rico 2010. The theme is "Stop Child Abuse Now," now the technique is open to the artist, but each piece can be no larger than 5" x 6", which doesn't leave a lot of real estate for much.

    The deadline is Jan 31, 2010, so there's plenty of time. However, I'd be lying if I said I'm over-flowing with ideas. I got one, but like I said, there is just not much room for anything. There's a blog set up to post entries as they come in, and while I've seen a couple, I don't want to look at too many entries. I'd like my ideas to be fresh.

    I'll post what I finally come up with after I've sent them in.

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    100 word fiction

    A while back Boing Boing ran a contest for 100 word works of fiction. The theme was "Found in Space." To enter all you had to do was leave a comment with your entry. Today they announced the finalists, but unfortunately I wasn't one of them. They received 8,00 entries. So I wanted to share my entry. Besides my poetry, and the fake news stuff I did over at "The Fake News Nightly", I'd have to say this was my first true attempt at fiction writing. Anyway, here was my entry:

    "Is that You? Where am I? There was a moment, just before the truck smashed into me. When I thought the panic would overwhelm me, everything became still. Silence. Peace. Tranquility. There was no pain. I felt calm. "How could that be?" I am, but I have no body. "How can that be?" I try to remember, and there's nothing left to remember. I am. Nothing more. "What is happening? Am I lost?" I sense the infinite, I am the infinite. "Wait, what's that?" I'm descending! Quicker now, everything is dimming. In total darkness now. I am born a new.
    It was fun to participate as well as a welcome challenge to exercise my fiction writing muscles. Something I aim to exercise more often int he future. I read through the finalists and voted for the entry by Thought Grime, who is currently losing to the entry by femaletrouble3.

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    Ten sites I wish I had time to enjoy:

    It really is a shame that we can't live multiple lives, stop time, or live forever. The web, it seems, is continuing to produce great example of innovation and entertainment. And, if anything, it seems to be be accelerating at how fast cool new sites pop up. Here are ten that are all worthy of great attention, unfortunately, I just can't afford to spend any of my attention on them:

    1. The Forum Channel - One-of-a-kind video content, which features unlikely combinations of celebrities and experts talking live and unscripted about topics that range from the serious to the ridiculous. The site offers hundreds of clips as well as full Forum conversations, and you can also search by dozens of panelists. 
    2. überpix is huge archive site for entertaining pictures. Our pictures (or “pix”) vary from plain old funny pictures, to our collection of demotivational/motivational posters and FAIL pix. 
    3. The Ninth Annual Year in Ideas - The Times Magazine looks back on the past year of ideas. They present, from A to Z, the most clever, important, silly and just plain weird innovations we carried back from all corners of the thinking world. 
    4. National Archives and Record Administration - YouTube collection of videos from the vault of the National Archives. Enjoy!
    5. Make Magazine - MAKE Magazine brings the do-it-yourself mindset to all the technology in your life. 
    6. h+ online magazine covers technological, scientific, and cultural trends that are changing — and will change — human beings in fundamental ways. We will be following developments in areas like NBIC (nano-bio-info-cog), longevity, performance enhancement and self-modification, Virtual Reality, "The Singularity," and other areas that both promise and threaten to radically alter our lives and our view of the world and ourselves.
    7. The Oatmeal - Everything on this site was written, drawn, and coded by Matthew Inman. The Oatmeal's real name is Matthew and he lives in Seattle, Washington. He subsists on a steady diet of crickets and whiskey. He enjoys long walks on the beach, gravity, and breathing heavily through his mouth. His dislikes include scurvy, typhoons, and tapeworm medication. 
    8. Lifehacker - Most Popular Top 10s of 2009: Here are the 20 list(icle) posts that proved the most popular in 2009.
    9. MakeUseOf, a booming daily blog that features cool websites, computer tips, and downloads that make you more productive. The aim of MakeUseOf is to guide you through the web and tell you about hot websites that you have never heard of, free alternatives to popular software programs, and all kinds of “how to” tips for Windows, Mac and Linux computer users.
    10. Singularity University - Singularity University (SU) is an interdisciplinary university whose mission is to assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies in order to address humanity’s grand challenges 

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    My Love Affair with the Internet

    There is beauty

    I remember clearly 15 years ago when I finally gained free and unlimited access to the Internet. It was amazing. After struggling through my initial online experiences of logging into bulletin boards, it was thrilling, it was liberating. With a quick click I was now able to access more information than humanely possible to consume. Now flash-forward, and the Internet has become an infinite source of enjoyment and distraction. 

    I love design. I love art. I love photography. I love software. And I love reading. In short, I love just about everything that the Internet makes available to me. However, there is a seductive quality to the Internet which always tempts me. I  can hardly be on the Internet for 5 minutes with out finding 5, maybe 10, articles, libraries, or galleries. All of which seem worthy and deserving of my attention.

    Just recently however, I reminded myself of my goals and reemphasized my rule to limit the amount of time I spend on leisure activities. The first step involved un-scheduling all of my favorite shows from the DVR. The second step involved un-subscribing from all non-essential feeds and email newsletters. I've left only the most useful and entertaining, what can I say? I can't totally disconnect. The last step is the hardest. It requires my constant vigilance against pointless surfing on the Internet. While "pointless" may be harsh, I have to monitor how I spend my time. 

    I once read that one of the reasons why people get addicted to checking their email accounts so frequently is because they are hoping to score a fix, i.e., an important message. Now important can mean many different things, from a message from a close friend to a key business communication. Like gambling we get addicted to checking our email accounts in hopes of hitting it big, in other words, receiving that important message. 

    For me, the Internet is also like that. So while it's easy to dismiss taking the time to find a set of web pages that seem unrelated to my goals, I'm addicted to the thrill of finding a golden nugget. Metaphysically, sometimes you find something that fits into what you need, but you didn't know you were missing it until you find it. Some call this "The Law of Attraction." Some call it coincidence.

    I know this obsessiveness is overkill, but I know myself. If I don't focus on my goals, I'll lose myself within the Internet chasing down fool's gold. Another strategy I've started to use is Twitter. Sometimes I know something is important, probably worthy of reading, but off topic. So instead of ignoring the new information, I'll just quickly share the link and a few words and then I'm on my way. I do this for two reasons. First, I want to share something I've found that will probably be useful. Second, I essentially archive the link, just in case I need the information, I know exactly where it is.

    I've just figured out another tool to help me out. Sometimes, I'll get lost within a topic and end up with a useful collection of web pages that really lay the foundation for understanding something new. In the past, I would use the "Bookmark all Tabs" feature in Firefox and hope to remember to revisit the topic soon. What I've found though, is that I rarely go back and pick-up the thread. So instead of loosing all of my research, I'm going to start sharing my research in brief blog posts. Just as with Twitter, my hope is that I can quickly document what I've found, share it, and have the links ready just in case I need to go back and use them. The key here is that the process has to be fast. The first will be coming soon, as I got lost last night researching art journaling.

    Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: Annadriel

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    Injury Report #49

    Staring off into the infinite
    My soul draws me there to join you
    We flow together within a river of consciousness
    We are the collective infinite 

    As I continue my journey inward, 
    I discover ancient myths
    They guide me through the darkness
    in my search for meaning, 
    nay I'm seeking the divinity
    that lies hidden within me

    Today I stumbled 
    Even though I've been this way before
    I was hoping that it had changed
    I was stretching to cross over
    a familiar obstacle
    but as I leapt over
    I imagined for a moment 
    that a new step had appeared
    however as my feet were ready to
    land on the new foothold
    it disappeared into delusion
    and I ripped my leg open 
    as I once again fell to the ground

    As the pain erupted within me
    it was overwhelmed by embarrassment
    How could I let this happen again?
    I'm trapped within the duality 
    of the man I choose to be
    and the man that I can not be
    And yet, a shadow within me still remains
    which neither prayer nor drug
    nor advice can pacify

    As the sun sets, 
    I'm lost once more
    within contemplation
    I'll have to venture
    again into the darkness
    to confront my fears
    My torment is my own
    it haunts me when
    I'm weak
    and conspires with
    my doubt to keep
    me from reaching you

    Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: Tyson Cecka

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    Pathetic

    As I was in Borders trying to choose which was going to be my next investment in comicbook making resources, it hit me that I've really always assumed that my comicbook making was going to be done on the computer.

    So I invested in The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics. I had been looking at a few other choices, but they were all pen and ink based. So over the wekkend, I got to thinking. I better dust off the old tablet interface and give her a try.

    Man, was that a frustrating experience. It might be that I've got a old Aiptek Wacom wannbe that was built to run on Windows XP, I'm on Vista now, and it could have also been the program I was using, but I'm unimpressed with my results. Take a look:
    I know, pathetic. My next attempt will be using the tablet and Inkscape. That should allow me to have more control and hopefully, the ability to smooth out my squiggles. I've got to go back and redo the tutorials using the tablet so I can get more hours behind the tablet. It really all comes back to that one principle. They difference between those that produce and those that don't is the diligence, commitment, stubbornness, and perserverance to put in the time.

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    Dopeman character creation

    While I'm still trying to put the final touches on another wire sculpture, I'm studying hard to prepare myself for the big one: writing my first book, uh, comic book that is. As I've always found in the past, when you're engaged in some sort of organized program, it's a lot easier to produce. Whether it was school or work, the structure, process, and deadlines, always made me better at whatever I wanted to do. Of course, when you're out on your own, outside of all organization, creating becomes, at least for me, more challenging.

    As I've been reading consistently about art and writing, one thing comes through loud and clear. And, in a way, it proves my theory. The demands of a structured environment accomplish what is THE difference between publishing a book and only wishing you did. That structure (dedication, sacrifice, commitment) puts your butt in front of a keyboard and demands that you produce. A lesson I frequently share is that whatever you want to do or be, you have to spend all of your time do or being that thing. Painters paint, singers sing, chefs, cook; authors write

    So in order to prepare myself and create the structure I know I'll need to keep my butt in front of a monitor, I'm pulling together some structure from a couple of books to create a writing process. The first resource I'm using is from Elizabeth George's "Write Away", she calls it a character prompt sheet. This bullet point list of attributes help create a in-depth character analysis, which George considers one of the fundamental pre-writing activities. I've also read this ideal from other authors; building a rich character helps you ultimately know what a character will do when you put them into a what-if scenario.

    Here's a few triggers that I need to answer so I can bring Dopeman to life:

    • What is Dopeman's real name?

    • How old is Dopeman?

    • How tall is Dopeman?

    • What is Dopeman's weight/build?

    • Where was Dopeman's born?

    • What color are Dopeman's hair and eyes?

    • Does Dopeman have any physical peculiarities?

    • What is Dopeman's educational background?

    • What is Dopeman's sexuality?

    • Who is Dopeman's best friend?

    • Who are Dopeman's enemies?

    • Who are Dopeman's family (mother, father, siblings,etc.)?

    • What is Dopeman's core need?

    • Does Dopeman have a pathological maneuver?

    • What is Dopeman's ambition in life?

    • Does Dopeman make any gestures when he's talking?

    • How is Dopeman's gait?

    • What is Dopeman's strongest character trait?

    • What is Dopeman's weakest character trait?

    • What does Dopeman laugh or jeer at?

    • What is Dopeman's philosophy?

    • What is Dopeman's political leaning?

    • Does Dopeman have any hobbies?

    • What do others notice first about Dopeman?

    • What does Dopeman do when he's alone?

    • Will the reader like or dislike Dopeman?

    • What event significantly molded Dopeman's character?

    • What event illustrates Dopeman's personality?

    • What super powers does Dopeman have?

    Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: Jakob Montrasio

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    Reluctant prophet

    If I told you I was I prophet
    would you think I was vain
    or just insane

    If I told you that I know things
    or that I'm able to see truths
    that remain hidden from you
    would you think that I was just vain
    or simply insane

    If I told you that God speaks to me
    and answers my inquiries
    would you think that I was simply vain
    or totally insane

    If I told you
    that you should listen to me
    because I have heard your prayers
    and am prepared to share God's answers
    would you think that I was totally vain
    or completely insane

    Of course, you've got no reason to believe me
    for I'm just another prophet
    in a long line of fools
    that believed he could
    make a difference

    Maybe I am completely insane to believe
    that anyone should listen
    to what I've been asked to share
    but then why would you
    for you haven't been with me
    through my long and endless pain

    Maybe it's the pain
    that has driven me to insanity
    that has convinced me
    that even though my faith wavered
    God's faith in me never did

    No you weren't with me
    as I quietly suffered
    down a long and lonely road
    but God was there

    You weren't there
    to hear my desperate
    cries of agony
    nor were you there
    to aid in my comfort
    but God was there
    he heard my screams
    and quieted me with the truth

    In the end
    it doesn't really matter
    whether you listen
    to me or not

    My mission is to share
    what I've learned
    in as simple and helpful
    terms as possible
    whether you learn anything
    is up to you

    Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: cindy47452

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    Hope in abundance

    Last night I took a trip
    I didn't mean to
    It wasn't like I ingested something
    with the sole intent
    of experiencing the unknown

    No, this was a journey to the abyss
    Little bits of information
    came at me from all angles
    and I was pushed
    to the edge of my sanity
    And from where I stood
    all around me was despair
    all around me was futility

    The next morning
    is was difficult to awake
    from my nightmare
    We were smashed
    between the vise-like grip
    of cold lifeless hatred
    and the seemingly immovable
    wall of reality

    Now as I sit here
    I can remember my hopelessness
    Everywhere I looked
    there were warnings
    but everyone around me
    seemed hypnotized
    by despair

    This wasn't the first time
    I've been to edge of this chasm
    I'm repeatedly taken there
    to witness the destruction
    of humanity
    It used to terrify me
    and leave me grieving
    in a pool of hopeless tears

    But I've been there too many times
    for it to scare me anymore
    With gross familiarity
    I can now witness
    the end of our existence

    I've become like a scientist
    I can now experience our demise
    with a sterile perspective
    that allows me to see
    but not feel

    So I've been asked to
    report back to humanity
    and dispel the myths that
    we use to prop up our
    sense of reality

    We are one
    Just as certain
    as I am here
    sharing my tale
    so are you
    In fact
    when I was at the end
    so were you
    Now when I'm challenged
    I am not alone
    For not only are you there with me
    so is our Creator

    He has asked me to tell you
    to surrender your beliefs
    She has instructed me to create
    a new way of thinking,
    a new way of relating
    They want us to know that
    it is time
    time for us to look
    beyond ourselves
    and see the unity
    that surrounds us
    There is no separation
    between our God and Ourself
    God is within Us
    We are God
    Our will is God's will

    Within Our heart lies
    the greatest mystery
    To love Ourself
    is to love God
    To love Ourself
    is to love Everyone

    Do you hear the truth?
    Can you see truth
    of our shared vision?
    Know this
    there is no end
    there is no beginning
    there simple is
    Love the God within
    each of Us
    and there will
    always be hope
    in abundance

    Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: ecstaticist

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    Home inspired drawings

    It's been a while since I posted some of my work, so I scanned in a few drawings from my trip back home. These are once again, examples of Babblecards, or what you might call Shockobabble postcards.

    This first one was inspired by a good ol'e fashion car show/parade. Went with my brother and it was a real gas. Plenty of beautiful cars, beer, and burn outs. How could anyone not find that inspiring?


    These next two drawings were my original sketches for the two masks I did. The first one was done with the intent to create the ugliest and meanest face I could conjure up. What's cool about this sketch is it's one of my first original cartoon influenced characters. The second was my sketch for my biker demon. Again, these were both caricatures I drew from my imagination. In the past, I've copied elements of other photographs or drawings. So these show my growing confidence in cartooning.


    I've still got to pull the picutres of the finished masks from my phone, but I've just been to lazy to hunt down the cable.

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    Internet firehose vs Limited attention

    If previous generations of artists warned against the evils of television, see Frank Zappa's anthem "I am the slime," what can we say about the Internet? For if slime only oozes out of our television sets, then the Internet is a like a firehose of ooze, blasting out at 800 psi.


    While I'm amazed an titilated by what I find, I've begun to get more and more suspicious that it (the Internets) is a sweet temptation meant to lead me away from my dreams of becoming an acclaimed and recognized artist.

    There was a time when I tried to stay on top of the thousands of new articles, RSS feeds, and email newsletters, etc. I actually felt as if I didn't peruse each one I might miss that one silver bullet that would magically change things. [I struggled to end that sentence because frankly I'm not sure what I was looking for, call it solve my problems, make me happy, give me the clue to achieve my dreams.] Of course, I now know there is no external silver bullet, magic, or solution.

    Which leads us to the crux of the biscuit. One of the grandest contradictions I see in myself and the thousands people I've witnessed, is how I (they) can know what I (they) want to do or be, but still allow myself (themselves) to be tempted away with juicy images, articles, videos, behavior, and other ephemeralia. If I know there is no external silver bullet, why do I find it so difficult to focus on producing art?

    It grinds upon my sensibilities when, for example, we claim to be Christian yet judge everyone around us, or not love ourselves (let alone our neighbors). It whittles away at my belief in the common good when people profess to be something when their actions are direct contradictions of their beliefs. What I'm trying to reaffirm to myself and anyone else who shares in this struggle, is that we must be eternally vigilant of our choices. We are what we do. We are what we think about. My focus must stay on producing art, because that's the only thing that will bring recognition and acclaim. Lord, give me the strength to step away from the firehose and be the artist I know that I am.

    P.S. I'm stunned at how professionals can manage the infinite number of media choices thrown at them, yet still balance their choices and remain authentic. At this point I'm clueless how to manage this balance except by excluding everything (to the ultimate test and stretch of my attention and will) to focus on the pursuit of my art.
    Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: jurvetson

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    Alternate lives in New York

    While both times I have visited New York City have been surreal experiences, I've often fantasized about living there. There must be something secretly alluring about its' always something to do or see cultural vibrancy, that calls out to me.

    But having three kids and living on a rock in the middle of the ocean, leave me as far away from that fantasy as humanly possible. So I'm sure that in one of my infinite realities, I'm there now. And in my extratential existence, I'll grow and thrive. Meet me there soon and we'll both go see Tim Burton's exhibition at the MoMa.

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    Make a wish

    When I first read "Ruby Slippers" from Seth Godin, I thought. Yes, yes, that's it. You need to have one thing, that's what I've been saying. You figure out that one thing, then start working towards making that magical moment arrive.

    Then it hit me. As Seth puts it:

    But for many sites, many companies, there isn't a thing. They can't articulate it. They have no wish. If you have no wish, how can it possibly come true?

    Ahhh. What's my wish? I don't know exactly what my wish is. [...deep sigh...] Then, that's when it really sets in. [...more sighing ...] I don't have a wish.
    You could also call it an objective, but I think that obsfucates the magic of "wish" within the walls of business double-talk. So there it is. I don't have a wish. And if I may, what I think Seth means by wish, is that one special goal, when reached, will allow all of your other plans to fall into place. Note to self, go to the beach and stare into the waves until i fugure out what I wish for.

    P.S. Maybe this should get filed away under throw in blender of the same and "wish" for something else besides goop coming out. Just another re-hash or what eludes me. It's not one wish, it's a hundred million. Which to choose? What gets post-poned? Is this a scale of wishes until you receive you're big wish?

    Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: kern.justin

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    Hockney and the iPhone

    We Two Boys Together ClingingIt must be the new drugs, or the constant home repair work, but the urge to pick up a pencil, brush, or crayon has seemed distant. So instead I'm staying close to the warmth and comfort of my keyboard. A recent tweet, led me to an interview/article with David Hockney.

    At one point in the article he mentions that he has his suits especially tailored to include an inside pocket in the jackets large enough to accommodate a sketchbook and brushes that he always carries.

    He is well aware, as he says, that “the art world thinks that this is a genre that’s quite exhausted – but nothing is quite exhausted”. Images, he says, help us to see the world: “I keep thinking that people have stopped looking at landscape . . . and I’m very interested in how we see; seeing is memory and memory is now. We don’t all see the same things even if we’re looking at the same thing . . . looking is a positive thing — you’ve got to decide to look.”

    Then at one point in the interview, when discussing several drawings of Hockney’s brother, Paul, and his sister, Margaret; in each picture the subjects seem mesmerised by a small gadget in their hands, which turns out to be an iPhone — Hockney’s latest enthusiasm: Hockney shares:

    “Yes, my brother and sister sat there for three or four hours, totally engrossed.” Hockney is thrilled that he has finally persuaded Celia Birtwell to buy one so that he can send her pictures: “I draw flowers on them and send them out every morning to a group of people.”

    He demonstrates, tracing his finger over the tiny screen with such absorption that I worry he will stop talking altogether. “Who would have thought the telephone would bring back drawing?” he exclaims with glee.

    “It’s such a great little device, it has every Shakespeare play in it and the Oxford English dictionary. In your pocket! But it’s also amusing, look at this.” He blows into it and his new toy
    becomes a harmonica.

    What is lifestreaming?

    I came across this term the other day when I was contemplating how to aggregate together all of my various online projects. According to the lifestream blog, written by Mark Krynsky, a lifestream is a:

    "a chronological aggregated view of your life activities both online and offline. It is only limited by the content and sources that you use to define it."
    So far, it seems that Mark's the leading blogger focusing on this emerging trend and he has some great posts and links to get started aggregating your online experiences.

    One that I found on his blog, that I considering using is StoryTlr.com. According to the project initiative page, StoryTlr.com is:

    "a way to help him build 'the centralized me'. We liked the idea because it sounded like reinventing the good old 'personal page', realizing that a blog can only capture one angle of what we did online. More over, we felt that this page had to be personal, and not yet another profile page locked in a social network, and plastered with company branding. Storytlr brings you just that, a platform to build the centralized you, and it is really about you, not about us.".
    Another site I stumbled onto, which presents a completely different perspective to a lifestream is lifeblob.com. Now lifeblob approaches a lifestream as a serious of posts along a timeline. Like other lifestreaming tools, you can pull your content posted on other services to present them along your timeline.

    I haven't decided which of the services to use, who knows? Maybe I'll use both. If these tools aggregate my content automatically, then they both may have value. I've long believed that anything that helps create a cloud on the Internet ponting to your content, then it is probably worth the effort. It's something I've been calling "cloud marketing." Essentially, to the best of your abilities and time, I think one way to organically increase your presence on the Internet is to use the search engines ranking formula in your favor. If I have a bunch of "unrelated" sites pointing between all of my content, then merely by those interconnections, my content is more important than other content.

    Sure it is a little more work to maintain many different sites, but I like the ability to put my life into little compartments. Somethings are more suited to fit into one compartment than others. Again, that is also what the search engines are looking for. The more specialized and consistent a web site is, than the better it will do in SEO.

    I wasn't quite sure whether to put this under "Make my Own Media" publishing content or here in my personal blog. But I decided since it was for personal use more than anything else, I should hang it here. Anyway, it's pretty exciting trying to figure out how to bring everything together to present a much fuller picture of who I am and what I'm doing. Stay tuned to see how this online storm settles into place.

    Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: Christolakis

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    Deconstructing Cubism

    Alright, I must confess, I'm fascinated by cubism. But for the life of me I just can't seem to "get it." But I will. I assure you, I will. I mean I'm not an idiot, I get the whole "little cubes" thing, but what I can't seem to see is the process of deconstructing reality and reassembling it onto a structure of cubes.

    I have a book on Picasso I picked up on clearance from Amazon. "A life of Picasso" by John Richardson covers the exact period that Picasso and Braque created cubism, and I should note, also brought collage into the world of of fine art (but collage is a whole other topic that I'll be getting into later). So, I've gone back to study the origins of cubism. Mistakenly, many attribute Picasso for the creation of cubism. A documentary I watched essentially says that they should be co-creators, becuase neither would have been able to create cubism with out the other.

    One thing I didn't know about cubism was the motivation for wanting to create cubism in the first place. I was vaguely aware that it was a reaction to the impressionists Renoir and Monet, but it goes a little deeper. Plus it gets a whole lot cooler. Picasso is quoted as saying that he wanted to go as far as possible in the other direction and produce work that would be "bien couillarde." For those of who skipped French in high school, like me, it essentially means "ballsy." Hence creating a common catchphrase for Picasso and Braque, "A painting should have balls." There is just something about that statement that somehow increases my already high image of Picasso.

    In a quick search of the web, the Wikipedia article on cubism appears first. The article includes a link to an interesting video "Video decoding a Picasso Cubist still-life." It's real short, so you can watch it here real quick:

    While simple, I like the way the video helps to show how bits and pieces of "La Grenade" were constructed. But, in the end, I'd say the video is only slightly helpful. I need a much more in-depth explanation, and it goes with out saying, a lot more drawing and painting until I unlock the secrets to cubism.

    Just a thought, which just popped into my head, but I wonder if there is any connection between me never being able to solve the Rubik's cube and unlocking the secrets to cubism? I'm amused at the connection, but I know there's a big difference. I never really committed myself to solving the multi-colored cube. Who knows, if I ever would of grokked the patterns necessary to solve the Rubik's cube, but I know I will solve cubism. I know, it because I've already envisioned new projects that I've already seen complete within my imagination. And I think, if they turn out as I have seen, they just might be "bien couillarde."

    In: , ,

    Found meaning + Found Art = Inspiration

    It's well known that artists are often gifted with seeing the world in a unique way. Then, if they are lucky, they can find a way to successfully share their unique vision. Others characterize good art by stating that the artist has provided a new way of seeing the world. Perhaps they are both the same and it's just a matter of perspective, one from the artist and the other from the viewer.

    Which brings a question to mind, kind of a digression, but what do artists call the people who appreciate their art? And what do they do? With some of the arts, it's easier to classify. You listen to music. You watch a movie. You watch a dance. If it's performance art, then clearly you watch it, you many even interact with it. So you look at art? You can experience them all, so that can't be used "just" for art. So if people look at art, do we call them lookers?

    It's said that everything happens for a reason. I stumble over that truism, more often than not. Imagine throwing concepts like destiny, free will, spirits, demons, God's will, the devil, karma, and reincarnation into a pot and stirring them together. It's like when you mix a bunch of different colors together, you end up with a million different shades of brownish-black. In the end, it all becomes clear as mud.

    I think it's more likely that some things happen and there is no reason, it just happens. Yet, there are some things that seem to lend themselves to clearer conclusions. I think that part of being an artist is using your environment and experiences to find meaning. Lately I've been collecting a lot of materials that I can immediately see their uniqueness. Projects based on those materials instantly pop into my head, so I pick them up. Recently, I mentioned some hardened polyurethane foam, that I found at a deconstruction site. Wouldn't you know it, yesterday I scored several sheets of ¼ plywood from the same site. The plywood is EXACTLY what I'm going to need to start mounting the foam. So I've been really lucky.

    But the other day I really struck gold, when you're into found art, you've almost always got to have an eye out for something interesting. Well as I was picking up the kids from school the other day, when I saw something that looked like some old cabinets in the trash of a church near their school. On the way back home, I stopped to grab the cabinet.

    However, what I found was a big surprise. When I bent over to pick it up, it turned out to be an old keyboard. Apparently the church had broken apart an old organ, and they couldn't force themselves to smash the keyboard apart. This keyboard is quite old and is extremely unique. I've been rolling thoughts around my head in how to include it into a piece that honors it's spirituality.

    Well, I got my answer last tonight when I attended my nieces 8th grade graduation. She went to a school based in Baptist church formed here in Puerto Rico by some ex-pats back in 1983. It's hard to describe this ceremony, but during many different momemnts, I could have sworn that I had dropped a couple hits of acid. The whole experience was sooooooooooo surreal, that at times I had to contain my laughter or astonishment. I had been enterntaining myself by sketching some ideas on the back of the program when a few feelings and observations crystallized. I suddenly knew what I wanted to do with the keyboard.

    So as I've trying to explain, through my unique way of experiencing this event, I found meaning for my keyboard. Now my challenge is combining my interpretations of this evangelical school graduation ceremony and my respect for the soul of my keyboard. There's a deep connection between the history of this keyboard and the rigid ceremony I have just witnessed. Now I've got to study, how to convert ( get it?) my imagination into something which tells the story of this connection.

    Ultimately what I discovered is that the history of the Spanish inquisition and the spread of Catholicism during the inquisition and conquering of Puerto Rico were similar to the way the leaders of this church and school perceive the world. The human drive to dominate, convert, and control people through religion linked my experience with the history of this piano, so instead of the graduation merely being an extremely uncomfortable experience, I found out why I found the piano. Either that or it's all just a coincidence. Perhaps only time and inspiration will tell.

    In:

    Painting Au Natural

    Inspired by a recent show I saw at Galería Yemayá, I've been experimenting with natural pigments. As I'm sure you already know, paint as a pigment, was orginally derived from the naturally ocurring colors from nature. Whether from a berry, flower, or leaf, the pigments first used in painting were simply taken from nature and applied to a medium. One of the artists featured in the "Por la Línea" show used wine and coffee stains to setup an image which was then enhanced.

    In this image, I used flowers from some trees and shrubs I cut down from my front yard. The tree is called Bottlebrush or "Cepillo de Botellas" and the shrub is called "Cruz de Malta" in this case, the yellow version. I also added some leaves from a small shrub, which I really don't know the name. I also added some last minute touches with a pink rose that my wife received for Mother's Day.

    To transfer the pigment I had to smash the flowers, leaves, or petals against the paper. Some transfer was easier than others, and as a brush, left me in little control in terms of the size and the amount of pigment. Whatever the result, I'm glad that regular paint is so easy to acquire and use.

    In:

    No doubt about it

    That's what came to my mind
    when I was sitting on the john
    trying to figure out
    what was going through
    my daughter's mind

    When did she start thinking
    more of herself
    than about her family?
    Surely this was not
    something she got from me!
    Surely she's seen me
    give, and help,
    and sacrifice.

    Where did she get off
    thinking that her
    desires were more
    important than
    those who love
    her most?

    Doesn't she see
    the sacrifices I make
    for our family?
    Didn't she know?
    That there was
    no doubt that
    I could make it
    as an artist.

    Then I stopped
    my thoughts from
    forming the next sentence
    and asked,
    do I really believe that?

    I searched my thoughts
    for dissent,
    and even my fear
    of success kept silent.
    I did mean it.
    I do mean it.
    No doubt about it.

    Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: ucumari

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    Found art = opportunity?

    I went by a deconstruction site yesterday and they were tearing down walls and throwing everything out. Normal stuff for deconstruction, but there in that there rubble I found gold.

    Ever come across a can of Great Stuff in the hardware store? Ever use any of it around the house? It's pretty amazing stuff. Well imagine having a dump truck full of it and you coat cinder block walls of it 8 inches deep.

    So as they are busting down walls, these huge slabs of this polyurethane-based foam are breaking off. Even without painting, they're a trip to look at. They are perfectly flat on one side, many include the imprint of the wood or cement there were squirted on to. On the other they have a dimpled wavy pattern.

    I immediately stopped the van and loaded up as many slabs as I could find. I asked the deconstruction guys to save me some more, but when I went back it was all in the dumpster. I was able to salvage a few more big pieces. I think I was pretty lucky. Not only does this stuff look weird, but went it busts apart it almost looks as if was carved. In fact, I bet I could even carve a design into some of the slabs.

    My mind is racing trying to figure out what to do with these new supplies. I imagine already using smaller pieces and gluing them onto a gesso covered wood panel and then painting. I'm intrigued by making paintings that escape from the flat space of two dimensions. This stuff is perfect for that. Other pieces could combine the shards with wire and other materials to form assemblage sculptures. Some could just be painted and hung on the wall as is. I know I could put a whole show together based on this stuff.

    I'm kind of motivated to get started on them so I can move them out of the yard and the shed. My wife is already starting to complain about the stuff I'm accumulating. I'm going to experiment with a few pieces to see how acrylic and latex paint looks on them and finish a few pieces. Then I'm going to present them to some galleries to see if they would be interested in showing them. I think that it's good to finally be taking this step.

    In: ,

    The pursuit of Artiness

    Bruce Lee by Phil HansenSeth Godin is a writer and social commentator that I respect and follow. His writing is crisp, to the point, and his timely observations are usually right on the money. In his own words, he's an agent of change, and I couldn't agree more. He has a special way of saying things that almost always motivates me and spins up my imagination.

    In a recent post "Can you change everything?" Seth offers up some options for change if you're feeling in a rut. Near the end of the list he suggests "Buy some art." I was intrigued. Who would Seth consider remarkable enough to suggest?

    And the winner is...Phil Hansen from Benton City, Washington. After watching a few videos of Phil's performance art, I had to admit, his art certainly is remarkable. Phil's a very creative artist that offers up some fresh new ways of seeing art, while at the same time expanding the definition of what most people would call art.

    Artists Dilemma

    After seeing Phils' art, it occurred to me what is the artist's dilemma. It might be called many different things, but the dilemma essentially boils down to offering something "new" to the world. While some may see this search as an exercise in differentiation, a declaration of uniqueness, others might characterize it a seeking out a personal style.

    In "Abstract Painting Concepts and Techniques," the author, Vicky Perry, describes this dilemma perfectly. When recounting the period of art following the Renaissance, when the church began to reduce the patronage of artists, she observes,

    "Painting developed within the context of ideas about where innovation would take place and thus the search for "newness" became a competitive market motivation for painters."

    I think this search for innovation continues on today. As I recognized this search taking place within myself, I asked myself, "Is that it?" Is that "the mystery" about why some artists break out and others don't?

    It's difficult at this time to say, but it seems pretty convincing that innovation is a critical ingredient in the success of an artist. But I have a feeling that there is something else. What immediately jumps into my mind is that art has to have a story. Let's use the familiar metaphor, "A picture is worth a thousand words."

    At least for me, right now, most of the art I contemplate producing will be visual, paintings, drawings, collage, sculpture, etc. While video has always intrigued me, I don't think I'll experiment with it for a while. I have so many ideas and projects already lined up in the visual arts, I just don't want to lose the momentum I'm building to add video, but who knows, right? Any way, I digress.

    If a piece of art (a picture) is worth a thousand words, then, I think it follows, that those thousand words should tell a story. Within the mixture of artist, environment, motivation, materials, and technique, a piece of art should communicate something. Sure there is some art which is just plain fun to look at, but I've got a gut feeling that it must also tell a story.

    Coming full circle, Seth suggests in his book "All Marketers are Liars" that there is only one sure path to successful marketing in our ADD overcrowded marketplace. That path involves creating a story for your, products, services, and your company that affirms people's world view. So I wonder if that applies to art? If you create a successful story for a piece of art that makes someone feel "right" about their world, then you should be able to sell it to them. Seems plausible, right? I'd say it is at least worth further consideration.

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    Half-moon quicksand struggle

    Sliding through the night

    a half moon ring
    mocks me
    from outer space

    I squint
    and can almost see
    the mysteries of life
    crystallize around me

    My future orbits
    through my imagination
    almost reaching light speed
    it streaks away from me

    Phantasms of art
    I've never completed
    flash before my inner eye
    like I've already finished them
    a thousand years ago

    When time was more scarce
    I was graced with a focus
    that has vanished from
    my repertoire of tricks

    With more time now
    I struggle to find the energy
    to pull my self free
    from this mental quicksand

    And as my thoughts
    thrash around
    seeking answers or guideposts
    I'm only aerating
    the viscous snare
    that entraps me

    As my struggle grows desperate
    I only sink
    deeper within myself
    With no answers
    to grab a hold of
    I slip out of existence
    unable to share
    the Renaissance of my creativity
    Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: Rhys Jones Photography

    In:

    A financial security blanket

    Link to 'A financial security blanket' by Brian Rushton PhillipsI came across a unique press release today for a new art project by Brian Rushton Phillips. According to the release, Brian is a "casualty" of the 2008 economic crisis. In response, this unemployed conceptual artist used his remaining cash to comment on the downturn.

    Using 208 $1 dollar bills, Brian stitched them together to form a makeshift security blanket. According to the artist:

    "The fragility of the blanket conjures an oxymoronic image, consistent with the current state of global unemployment, homelessness and financial insecurity."
    I, for one, got a kick out of first, the effort. But even more, having the chuztpah to create his own press release announcing the pre-release of the project on his web site. Mad props Brian, I hope thinks turn up.

    In: ,

    Reflections

    On Good Friday, I sat down and painted some with the kids. We mostly used tempura, but the youngest wanted to try watercolors. I had been having an image in my head of Christ carry the cross, and had already made two unsuccessful attempts before. This watercolor probably comes closest:


    4" x 6" water color, "Jesus carrying the cross"

    In:

    Swimming against the current

    In what may turn out to be the definitive "how to tell when you've finished" rule of thumb, this piece, as originally intended meant to contain some more depth. I was copying a graphic I say in the newspaper, but it sort of took off on another direction. I worked on this for a few weeks, off and on, and when I was done putting in the scales, I sort of put it aside.

    So maybe I'll know when I'm finished with something by whenever I stop working on it. If I move on, and never go back to a piece, well, "taaaa-daaaa," it's finished. That's probably a pretty weak cop-out, but doesn't that really get to the crux of the biscuit? If a piece isn't done, it'll call out for more attention. When it no longer holds my interest, well then it must be done, no?

    So check it out, "Swimming against the current"
    8.5 x 11 110 lb white index, sharpie, and pigment ink

    In:

    Blind in the silence

    Tell me why Lord!
    Why must I only
    live this one life?
    I am surrounded by choices.
    Choices which require me
    to be someone else.
    Within the confines of this life
    I am bursting to explode.
    The walls squeeze in upon me.
    They force to examine my choices
    with each fleeting fantasy.

    Life, an endless stream of decisions
    which define you, trap you, imprison you.
    Enslaved, we are prisoners of our own choosing.
    Abadan all hope, there is no escape.
    Only more decisions.
    Some will tear down old bars;
    others only replace them.
    Shiny new ones,
    that are free from the blood stains
    we deposit by smashing our heads
    into the cages we've built around ourselves.

    When did it get so lonely in here?
    I'm held here in this solitary confinement
    of my own choosing.
    And yet, I'm not willing to risk escape.
    For there is only pain.
    It is definite if I try to escape,
    but it is unavoidable if I make no choice

    Yet, I wonder! How did I get so lonely?
    I'm surrounded by love,
    and offer my own
    as frequently as possible.
    But love is like the oil
    which helps the lantern burn bright;
    we must frequently replenish it
    or love's shine will die down
    and become dark.

    As a friend once told me,
    we each must struggle
    with our own humanity.
    My struggle revolves around
    the silence which engulfs me.
    Blessed beyond most,
    my loved ones leave me
    in solitude.

    With feelings and passions overflowing,
    I turn to these words
    to catch my emotions.
    They are like the storm drains which
    protect the city from flooding.
    As the storms within my mind
    fill up my sewers,
    these words catch the deluge of
    questions, doubts, and delusions
    and carry them away to spill
    into the ocean of creation.

    For if these pages did not eagerly accept
    these words, my life would be swamped.
    The flood waters of my torment
    would destroy everything I hold dear.

    In these waters, I search for solutions.
    I search for patterns, symmetry and balance.
    I over analyze the theories
    which swirl within my head.
    Then when I stumble upon moments
    of clarity, I turn to share them,
    but no one is there.
    Simply a blank page staring up at me,
    and no matter how eloquent I can explain
    my conclusions, I never receive solace.

    Is this it, my Lord?
    Am I sentenced to remain
    within this one life?
    Am I condemned to suffer
    through this tornado of confusion,
    so that I have to sift through
    the debris which floats
    through my mind?
    And when I'm ready
    to collapse from the search,
    is the silence
    meant to lead me to You?
    If it were only that easy
    to know, beyond
    only a sense of belief,
    it might make it
    only slightly more hopeful
    to endure the quiet.

    Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: Fraochsidhe

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    Hitting the books

    [Fade in college dorm room from 1981. The incense is thick to cover the herb stench and there's black light posters on the wall. A young student studying photojournalism and art makes a fateful decision]

    "Man this whole photojournalism shit sucks."

    "Can you imagine being stoned and drunk at 2:00 am and getting a call to go out and shoot some pix of some losers house burning down or some stupid shit like that?"

    His equally stoned and drunk room mate exclaims, "Yeah, no shit!. That would suck!"

    "That's it man, I'm changing my degree. I've heard that there's going to be a lot of jobs in computer science. I think I'll try that." And with that inebriated decision, his life diverts upon a tangent into a new reality.

    [Fast forward nearly thirty years into a new life, in a different land, and a world run afoul of greed, consumerism, and selfishness. Our life long student isn't as young as before, but he's hungry to revert his life back to his original reality. It won't be easy. His life is way more complicated and he has precious little free time.]

    "Well this week, I've really placed my aim square in the middle of my new target. I'm recommitting myself to limit my reading and viewing habits to only those that support my development as artist, author, cartoonist, and publisher."

    "While I can't actually afford the time or money necessary to go back to school. So, I'll have to teach myself. As luck would have it I've been slowly collecting books that I think will teach me the things I need to know. All told, at my current pace, there's probably two years of study in front of me. I can't wait! As a bonus, this week I also found a diamond hidden within the book shelves of my community library."

    "I found "Design and Form - The Basic Course at the Bauhaus" by Johannes Itten. As a study guide it's awesome. I read through the first section "Light-Dark" and I've already got quite a lot of "homework" to do. Of course, all of this means, that I'm in "always be drawing mode," which is exactly where I need to be."


    So here's my first two light-dark, finished assignments:

    "Dad in Korea"

    "A la 'Barbers Tree'"

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    Mal-a-days

    I suffer 

    from equal 
    and opposite
    afflictions.

    I'm impatient
    and I procrastinate.

    I'm doomed!

    Fun note: Did you know that mal means bad in Spanish?

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    Shock and Despair

    I remeber that day, 

    no matter how much I try to foget.
    How could I?
    Probably only the actual death of my wife or any of my kids,
    will surpass the horror and dread I felt that day.

    Few will ever experience 
    the solitude that engulfed me,
    because few people 
    ever get that dreaded phone call. 
    The call that brings you 
    to the brink of madness
    No, no one ever wants 
    to get that call, 
    but I did. I did,  
    and it fell upon my soul
    like a hammer on a thumb, 
    pain exploding
    into every corner of my being.

    How could anyone 
    ever think I was capable of such evil?
    How could people, 
    who claimed to know me,
    believe that I was a threat?

    I frequently revisit 
    the treachorous steps 
    which led me astray?
    Probably 
    more often than I should,
    more often than any sane person should.
    It's true! 
    There are some doors
    which are better kept closed, 
    because behind some doors
    lies nothing 
    but blackness, 
    doubt, 
    and self-recrimation.

    I guess it depends 
    on who you ask. 
    While my wife thinks
    we all paid 
    for ignoring her guidance. 
    While me. Well,
    I'll know one day, 
    if my delusion 
    of spiritual guidance 
    was real.
    It might all come down 
    to what I believe.
    When no proof is available 
    within this corpeal existence,
    then it all boils down to my faith, 
    right?
    So, if it is up to me, 
    when I'm gone 
    I'll kneel before Jesus.
    He'll lean forward,  
    stroke my cheek,
    and wipe away
    the pain I've endured.
    He'll tell me 
    that he is pleased
    with my actions,
    and I'll collapse
    into his forgiving arms,
    finally quieting
    these demons;
    leaving me 
    to fade away 
    in peace.

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    When is abstract art done?

    I'm drawn to abstract and modern art. For me, when I discovered these art forms, a little bell went off inside my head. Immediately I knew. Like most people when they see a Dubuffet or a Basquiat, I said, "Hey, I can do that!" And it's true, most people could, it they tried. Of course, there's a mystery to abstract expressionism. What makes one work a masterpiece and another crap? However, in an art form that defies everything, how can you know that your art is achieving its' goals?


    Sure there are some questions, that as an artist, can help guide you, such as:
    • Do I simply want my abstract painting to be beautiful?
    • Do I intend this abstract painting to convey something specific to the viewer?
    • Do I want people to extract their own meaning from it?
    • What in the abstract painting is going to do this?
    • How do the elements interact?
    • Do I want to guide the viewer's interpretation with my choice of title?
    • Do I want to write a statement to accompany the painting explaining how I created it, what my thoughts were while I made it, or what I see it conveying?
    • Does it matter to me if they don't "get it?"
    I guees it might come down to, how much really goes into creating an abstract paiting? Do I set out with a clear image of what I want to create, or do I stumble along and finally steer myself into a dead-end, and claim the piece complete. 

    For me, when I start a new work, I might have a concept, like hey I want to draw a humanlike dude. It might even be a self portrait. First I stare at a blank sheet, and then wait for inspiration. Later as the image develops, I'll react to the image and then select colors and forms to add.

    Then, the crucial point arrives, how do I know that I've finished? Let's look at an example and then you'll see what I mean. Here we have an amibigous self portrait, is is done?

    To start off, I have to ask myself, "Do I like it?" To that I'd have to say, "Yes. I do." It has good energy, and I like how some of the color combinations and how the colors collide. I can't change the general compisition, so there's not much flexibility available, that is, unless I go ape-shit and paint over sections, which would significantly change the design.

    So I like what it looks like so far, however, is it missing anything? When I finished painting, I had the feeling that it needed more energy. Seeing it closer, I'd say it seems pretty high energy already. I guess what I had in mind was a little more chaos. It looks too plain. While I'm tempted to try and add more detail, how will that affect the energy? Or do I add intricate detail completely unrelated to the original image. 

    Then it begins. I see infinite possibillties. Now what? Should I change it or leave it be now? I can certainly see now having a print master would allow me to individually explore different themes, all using the same basic image. I guess I could also do that with the computer too, but with my current level of skills, computer based imagery seems too sterile.

    The future

    Perhaps, what I'm sensing is what Pollack did when he could sense that something was missing. He was looking for a new style. A style completely his own. Maybe that's what I'm missing. If could develop a unique style, then I'd know when something was complete. It's difficult to say, what is missing, but it's probably even more difficult to develop a unique style. It is possible, of that I'm sure. Even after 50 some years of Rock and Roll, artists are still producing fresh and original music. It's what you get with inifinite possibilities, no limits.

    Both of these pieces were painted with my kids using Tempura and some heavy paper stock. The first was deliberate, while the painting that follows was done with what was left over. I like to create paintings with the colors left over after the kids are done painting. This piece was done with even more forethought into creating a self portrait.


    In: ,

    Fun with Silhouettes


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    Definition of Art

    Let's just get this out of he way. Art is whatever I can get away with.

    In:

    Sea Monster

    Taken in Cerro Gordo Beach, March 14th, 2009.