Today is your Last Day

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“Do anything, but let it produce joy.”
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Since I’ve been asked numerous times why I left this blog high and dry a little over two years ago, I figured it’s now time to provide an answer. Trust me, this has been bothering me for some time, and though I try to maintain my creative efforts to a steady beat, sometimes life happens.

Back in the summer of 2016 I met someone who I fell for, and…

Just like that… “poof”… I was gone.

Over a year’s worth of writing and art making was seemingly put on hold for the better part of 6 months. I did occasionally write on my other blog, but I had little to no creative focus. I had literally stepped into suspended creative animation, frozen and stagnant.

My focus was on another soul, who I found to be beautiful, complimenting my own life in every way.

However… It did not last and I was left in despair. But, I was also given the greatest gift imaginable.

In August of 2017 my son was born, and just two months later I turned 40 years old. Now, today, I am 41 and within the past few months I have uncovered a part of myself that was buried long ago.

Life is funny. It seems that we have to travel so far from ourselves just in order to find ourselves. It’s like we must leave home simply in order to find our way back, to remember; to remember who we really are, and who we’ve always been.

And this is exactly what I have done.

A young artist that I follow taught me a valuable lesson recently, and I must say that the timing of this lesson is perfect. We have to become ourselves. We cannot lie to ourselves. Though we may try new things or think ourselves into something that we believe we should try or should be, we will never know happiness or peace if we are chasing something that does not fit our soul.

What we do must bring others in, and it must share joy. And we can only do this from a place where we generate our own joy, our own peace.

The above picture is a pen and ink drawing that I created recently. This is the type of art that I do, the type that I essentially began with. It is within creating these types of abstract images where I am the most vulnerable, the most centered and the most comfortable.

This is my space, and this is where I create from. Though I realize that it is highly abstract, dark and seemingly disturbed, it is also completely truthful. It is honest emotion and an uninterrupted flow of creation.

And this is what art is. This is what writing is. This is what moves us in a dance and why we lose ourselves in music. It is raw..

It is a full baring of soul.

We must do what we do because every day is our last day. This moment, right now, is your last moment.

So do what you do and do it well. Do what you do best, and do what you enjoy. So long that this is altruistic and brings joy to the world, and it leaves you with a smile..

Then do it.

And enjoy it.

 

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Seeing the Soul

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In life, we should all inevitably (and hopefully) come to the point where our focus is turned away from ourselves and out into the world. This can come at any age, where we wake up and shift our concern from ourselves onto others. Where we see not what we can gain, but what we can give. Correspondingly then, our affect on on the outside world becomes more important than what the world can give to us.

We then become free. We become part of life.

When we learn to become selfless, we truly begin to live.

This, for me, is that time. And it has been happening for a few years now, only recently have I begun to truly understand it.

I believe we are all bound by a higher force, one that is not only part of everything but contains everything. It is the source from which all creativity emanates, flows and returns. This is God. This is the Universe. This is the soul; the small pieces of God that inhabit us all.

This is a simple thought to me, though it may seem complex and illogical to some, but then, we’re all allowed to think, believe and have faith in any way that we choose.

For me, this truth is part of who I am and part of my awareness, my own discovery, my own experience; one that nobody else can have. This is part of the dynamic in which I live, and the closer I get to embracing and loving, the clearer the face of my soul will appear.

The above painting was rendered over a period of two weeks. First green-gold and yellow, followed by the magenta and portrait pink underlay, then came the patching of bone white. You notice the face immediately, and then probably understand the title.

Seeing the Soul

To me, this painting represents what is hidden within us all. It partially illuminates our inner light, our inner connection to the divine, to the universe and to God.

It shines behind the perforated veil of the ego, and glows under the confusion that we create in our lives with our carnal and selfish ways. It is always there, we, our soul, waiting to become bright and allow our hearts to guide us.

These are the truths that will guide us all home. But, it is up to each of us to find our own truth, release our Earthly binding and become part this life, this connected life that is shared by all.

Only when we glimpse the soul of the world will we understand how truly beautiful we all are.

Only then will we truly know life.

Bleed

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“Art has a voice – let it speak.”
Rochelle Carr

In my opinion, the very heart of the creative process is and always will be a simple truth that lives in the art of self-expression. This is an art unto itself. It cannot be tamed or explained to others with ease. Especially to others who don’t understand or cannot interpret art very easily.

Abstract artists know this all too well. In non-representational art we find many models of expression, many concepts that are explored and some that seem so foreign to even be considered “artistic.”

We can find these forms of expression in most modern art galleries across the west. Everything from conceptual textile art to the placement of a pencil on a block of wood is considered artistic expression by someone or some group of collectors. And it is true. Whether or not we personally think of something as artistic, doesn’t make it inartful, or any less artistic whatsoever.

These are still, at their very essence, a pure form of self-expression by a person; a human being who has chosen to express in his or her own truthful way.

We must all understand that art is very subjective by nature. What I like or what my neighbor likes in terms of “art” is going to always be interpreted differently by different eyes.

This is a lesson that all artists must learn:

Not everyone is going to like your shit.

And this shouldn’t worry us. We must all bleed our true nature, and not worry about the spilled drops.

Just like all art collectors collect for specific reasons, we as artists all do it for our own different reasons. Some of us enjoy the planning and execution of the concept, whereas others simply like the random splatter of paint on the canvas, or wherever else it may land. We all have our own form of expression, and it is during this process where we create our truest works.

The above painting is a 24×30 abstract work of pattern and color that I made mostly using a two inch palette knife and heavy body acrylic paint. Up close the erratic texture is easily recognizable, and in this piece I was mostly concerned about creating a sense of comfort within a sense of confusion.

Mostly though, it was fun to make. And that’s all it really is about. Interpret it how you like.

I call it “Bleed.”

 

No Inspiration Needed

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“The conception of each star was at the point of no return; of a desperate soul struggling to master the winds!”
C. JoyBell C.

As an artist and writer I often get asked the question: Where do you get your ideas from? or Where do you find inspiration?

Well, art isn’t a cut and dry subject. In fact the very nature of inspiration, ideas and muse are quite complex and even paradoxical no matter what reference they’re assigned to.

Where does the business man get his motivation from?

Where does a nurse get his or her passion from?

Where does a mathematician find his sense of purpose, his need to solve or create complex problems, questions or ideas?

The answer lives strictly in the individual sphere. And even if I could explain the very nature of muse, it wouldn’t always be transferable to another. For example, here at the link below artist David Limrite writes about the various yet simple ways in which he acquires or drums out his ideas.

Where do My Ideas Come From?

His answers are unique to his personal experience, as they should be for all of us. What I can answer personally, or elude to, is that sometimes inspiration isn’t needed.

How is this possible? Aren’t all great works of art somehow inspired by something else?

No, not always. And quite possibly, not even half of the time.

The inner domain of the artist is a very creative place. Sometimes, it is out of this simple and basic desire to create something that we all begin our work. We feel a calling, an urge, a push from a divine inner force or what have you. Sometimes, it’s just an itch that needs to be scratched.

I want to create things because I can. It couldn’t get any simpler than that.

Often, yes, I’m inspired by a certain image that I come across. Other times I read something that makes me think beyond the box, or strikes my heart a certain way. I could even hear a song and be inspired by the lyrics or even by the tempo. But all of this is but cake for a creative spirit.

We, as truly creative beings, need no inspiration to create. We are motivated by an unseen realm of forces. These are the thunderstorms that rise from within and purge from our fingertips. They cannot be controlled, but they can be directed.

We need no reason, and we do not ask why.

If you ask a climber why he climbs a mountain, he’ll probably tell you simply because it’s there. And so it goes with art. We create because it’s there, because if we don’t we feel silenced, unfulfilled and empty. We feel the rumble of our creative voice stifled from within, and this cannot be. For any artist, it will not sit still.

We all have a voice within that longs to be heard and shared with the world. But sometimes, we long to hear our own voice, the ancient vernacular of the soul. It is within this primordial need that we find the first form and uttering of the artist.

Just as a child bellows out his first cry, only to hear himself, so we too cry out to the world to hear the same.

Map of The Wanderer

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“I am much inclined to live from my rucksack, and let my trousers fray as they like.”
Hermann Hesse

Artists, art scholars and critics all have argued over many years about the artistic quality of abstract art, non-objective art and non-representational art as a whole. These are typically all grouped together as what abstraction represents. Some even say that it’s just random splashing of color for no particular purpose or goal. Others argue that it’s the most raw of artistic expression.

I’ll agree with the latter.

Abstraction is, for me, the most cathartic medium for expressing emotion, ideas and intentions. Some pieces might look haphazard, chaotic, and even completely incomprehensible, but the true artist in his most raw and vulnerable state is able to express his emotion, thoughts or feelings through the use of line, pattern and color.

The example..

The above piece I painted last night I’ve titled, Map of The Wanderer. This, as with all art is certainly open to anyone’s interpretation. However, there is a specific focus and intent here.

In this piece it’s clear the confusion that I, the wanderer face. The hectic line and pattern work represents the map, while the sporadic splashing of darker colors infers my emotional confusion on which direction to pursue.

In life, I am a wanderer. I’ve been lucky enough to travel and see most of the world and to gain valuable experience about life and people while doing so. But, in the most basic and pure part of my being, all the experience of the world leads me quite often to knowing no direction, following a map of blurred lines.

The intent of this piece is to bring the viewer into understanding the wayfaring soul, the desire to blow with the wind and to grace the surface of all places, even if only to touch them or lay eyes upon them once.

The abstraction allows the viewer to feel the wanderer’s confusion, his feeling of misdirection and indecision. His map is confounding and worn, like his heart and his patience. The color pronounces the hefty burden of choosing his way, and his feeling of despair in not knowing which direction to travel.

The wanderer stands to the right of the map, looking on it with a wide eye of anguish, in a solemn expression of blankness. This is the look I know all too well.

I often find lessons and wisdom in art, an urgent feeling or a sense of the artist purging himself onto his canvas. I can even find this in the work that I produce and many times to my own surprise.

We should all purge ourselves and bare the soul. In doing this we find a peace that we may have forgotten.

To me, art is simply a unique, uninhibited expression of life, and pure abstraction can initiate the release of these thoughts almost subconsciously. In this respect, art and life are inseparable, as are the lessons they teach us.

Staring back at our own reflection, at our own work, we find a lesson that we unknowingly taught to ourselves.

My lesson?

Pursue only the map of the heart.

 

 

 

The Race

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“Why should we be in such a desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple tree or an oak. Shall his spring turn into summer? If the condition of things which we were made for is not yet, what were any reality which we can substitute?”~ Henry David Thoreau

It would be less than, or even non-human, to have a perfect life of peace and balance at all times. Though this is what we strive for, most of us, to balance our lives with the busyness of the world in any way possible, we cannot avoid the speeding. These are the moments of frenzy and the ever quickening pace of life that leave you behind in a heartbeat if you slip for just one moment.

I was reminded of this several years ago when I was introduced to the work of Julie Mehretu, an Ethiopian born artist, in her work “Black City.”

The overall composition denotes and feels like the modern, busy world we attempt to thrive in. And just beyond the initial view of the work one can easily feel crowded, left behind or easily confused. As you focus your eyes on the piece itself you start to notice your eyes darting about its space, trying to stay focused is nearly impossible and after a while you begin to feel overwhelmed by the subjective chaos that the piece exudes.

This is art of the world. It is a perfect example of reflecting the culture of speed; a culture that is ever evolving to an even faster pulse of time.

What our eyes can see in this moment is forever an impact on our minds and this, if anything, reminds me of why all people should take a moment to simply breathe.

Should we simply let the world pass us by for a moment and recognize our inward muse, we will quicken to the pace of the world in a unison that time cannot fathom. It is in this moment, that the world will have to keep up with our pace.

Though we may be living in an ever busier world, we must recognize that this perception of time is but an illusion that has a higher purpose.

We should all be the keepers of our own time, and see beyond the race of life.

It’s not a race. It’s simply a journey.

Lessons of Local Color

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“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ― Oscar Wilde

The world of art knows no bounds. In all reality, everything is artistic; all of life is an expression of the creative force that binds us together. It is through the many mediums of art that we find the soul of the world expressed in numerous forms.

We find this expression in visual art, in those paintings, sculptures and images that draw out emotion and thought. We find it as we dance, as our bodies vibrate in movement with drums and music. We find it in writing, reading the words of a fine poet, or immersing ourselves in the world of fiction and imagination. Often for me, I find it on the stage, or on the screen through the characters that actors portray, in stories that speak to the heart and burn my eyes with tears.

Recently I watched a movie titled “Local Color.” This was listed as an indie film and produced over a decade ago. I hadn’t heard of it until recently. And, in my opinion, all artists should check it out.

The story is simple. It is about finding yourself and following your heart at all costs, no matter what people say, no matter what obstacles you face and no matter how much self-doubt, pain, guilt or anguish that you might carry.

It is the story of movement and change. Understanding how the world can break you, but make you. It illustrates the passion to create beautiful things even in these dark moments, and in those made of light.

It is the story of understanding life.

In artistic terms, local color refers to “the natural color of a thing in ordinary daylight, uninfluenced by the proximity of other colors.”

This definition can easily be attributed to a person. i.e., Standing as a singularity, perfect in our own light, uninfluenced by the proximity of other things.

Be local in your own color. Be yourself, and always be free.

 

Blank Beginnings

IMG_3135“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”~ Émile Zola

 

There it sits, right in front of you. You look at it, and you swear it looks back. It stares at you, looking right through you, taunting you to approach. You step forward, then back. You pace as it stares at you, mocking your stride as it sits motionless.

Your blank canvas has an agenda.

It’s up to you to unlock its secret story.

Often, we as artists stare at a blank canvas. We sit and we stare. We leave the room then come back and stare a bit more. Nothing changes. Time progresses, and it sits still, blank and void of color, emptiness projected through blinding white light.

We all endure this moment of creative stagnation. We have an idea, but we aren’t quite sure how to approach it. Sometimes the idea is blurry, resting in the fog of our mind’s eye. Sometimes the idea itself eludes us altogether, hiding behind other noise.

But we don’t give up. We wait. We want the right moment of inspiration. We yearn for that divine spark. And until that moment strikes us, we’ll have yet to breathe life into the blankness.

This prequel to the act of creation reminds me very much of myself as a young child. Too often I’d run off without any idea of where I was going or what I was going to do. And though I didn’t realize it then, it’s clear to me now that in those moments I was the most free, the most creative, the most pure. It is within this special place that the creative spark lives. In those moments, all I simply wanted to do was to be outside, to be free.

This is how we approach the blank canvas. We don’t have to have an idea, we just have to be there in the presence of life. We just have to have the desire, the fire that burns within.

To create art is to unlock the human experience, and to move the soul. It is to make the world feel. It is our way of living out loud.

We all just have to step outside sometimes and feel the breath of life grace our hearts. The direction will always find us.

Step toward the canvas, free yourself, and begin to live.

The Art of Line

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The line that describes the beautiful is elliptical. It has simplicity and constant change. It cannot be described by a compass, and it changes direction at every one of its points. ~ Rudolf Arnheim

We are all welcome here, within the art of line.

The line is full of motion. What seems plainly straight is more full of movement than one can see. Line carries with it inertia, the line is artful inertia. It moves and leads the eye, the heart and the rhythm of life around it.

One line can form two, and two can form several. Three lines can intersect, forming sacred geometry. All lines have this form, though they are not simply linear. The move both forward and backward, through time and across the mind. The line becomes what one sees and lives in memory.

This line is infinite; never starting and never stopping. It moves beyond the footprint of origin, beneath the tide of moon driven waves. It pervades all things and coalesces with dark and light.

What is the line? What is this art of line that has lived before time began?

This is the finger, the brush, the words, the thoughts and the dreams of all creation. It begins without beginning and ends without end.

The line is the spiritual vein of art. In life, it redeems the wicked, saving the souls of the wretched with each pulse, with each ripple of time in each glimmer of the eye. It calls to the to the painter and to the watcher. It drives us mad with each stroke and lifts our hearts without pause. The line is life.

Where is your line? Where is your art of line?

The line is born as we are born, though it has existed before we first ever spoke to the world. This unbroken, unfettered, unfiltered divine laser lives as we live, stepping where we step, extending outward along our path. We find it behind us and in front of us. It lives where we walk.

We cannot escape the line.

We must all walk this art of line. We should all dare to follow its way. Our intrepid souls follow the line in hopes that we too follow with full hearts, with bright dreams and desires of truth. The line marks our way, and draws out our deepest desire.

The art of line must be learned and lived. It must be caught and released. It must be embraced and kissed. It must always be, only to become.

What will the line become?

It already is. It always has been.

Source

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“Because when I dream, I feel no fear,
And when I am fearless, I am my most creative self.” ― Nikki Rowe

I, like many other artists, often find myself staring at a blank canvas wondering where to start, how to begin, where to place the brush or which angle to approach. This can be frustrating. But, it is a part of what we do. When this happens we must look deep within and find what we are missing. Sometimes, we can see it staring right back at us. This is the art of finding the source.

The funny part about being an artist is that when we openly express creatively, we most often go blindly into a piece without visualizing the end result. And, many times, even when we have an idea or a visualized concept, halfway through it we change direction, we change color, we might even turn the canvas upside down and start over, or sideways, or upside down then sideways. The possibilities are endless.

In our work, we move forward only with connection to the source. Sometimes the source hides from us. It is within our creative nature, however, to find where it hides and breathe life into it.

We’ve all had that once piece of canvas that just never seems to come together. No matter how we approach it, it simply does not speak to us in the way we’re searching for. It speaks a foreign language. It sits still and lifeless, staring back at us, mocking our every attempt to push forward and finish our work.

We paint over it, we rewrite it, we add whites, highlights, dark colors and texture. We change the background, we change the foreground, we change the edges, we change everything about it and end up in frustrated limbo, unconscious of what we are really doing.

This is what happens when the source of our creative energy is missing. Though, it’s never really gone. It hides from us, sometimes in the corners of our canvas, in once spec of color that we overlook time and again. The source hides in our lives as well. This creates imbalance.

In our lives, we must connect with the source. We must center ourselves and find where it hides.

All lives are connected with the source, with that point of awareness that begins and ends within us all. It is the sacred place of our hearts, the hidden space within our souls.

In life, we cannot paint over our frustrations. We cannot color over the blackness, or add white to the mopped mess of color that we’ve created. Sometimes, we must step back and look for what we missed from the beginning.

All of the arts and all lives must have a connection with the source. Without this connection, our work does not speak and our lives remain static and droll. It is through mindful awareness where we find this firm ground and let it speak through us.

Stop and let the source breathe through you. Let it guide your brush and your heart. What was once a mess of confusion will soon become a mirror of life that emanates from within. The canvas will then speak to you, the language will become clear and it will look at you as you look on it. With the source, the work will come alive.

Be aware of the source, and begin your great work. Begin your life with this connection and move throughout time with the flame of creation.