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.

A Process of Passion

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“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.”
Anatole France

Being an artist is hard work. All artists know this to be true, and whether or not you’re actively selling your work, the process is at times a lengthy and complex one. But this process is fueled by passion, by the will to create, inspire and share with the world.

Personally for me, my art and writing work are both callings in life. I do it because I love it. I share it because I want to. And, yes, occasionally I do make a dollar or two at it. Though I’d love for this work to be my livelihood, at this point in time it doesn’t quite make the ends meet. But of course I am certainly hopeful and sure that in the near future it will..

In the meantime, I work a rather taxing schedule on a graveyard shift that leaves me little time during the day at all. I’m often tired and lethargic during my work-week and splitting your sleep schedule into 4 to 5 hour increments at a time is no easy task.

So, I have to make time during a tiny window of daylight and spend my days off writing and conjuring up ideas for painting.

This, however, is only one small part of the complex process of passion that I endure week after week. But, I love every minute of it.

The other night I finished a 30×40 acrylic piece which I’ve titled Dreamer’s Door as seen in the main image on this post. This was a process that I began around noon and finally finished close to midnight.

Below is just a part of the process that took around twelve hours to complete.

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The beginning. All things must start with a little color and a big idea. I’d already envisioned a piece with a geometrical center. In this piece I envisioned a rectangle for the impression of a door and left more light within the center of the canvas.

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Adding more light in the form of dark titanium and milk white. It may look patchy, but here we go…

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After adding a ridiculous amount of painter’s tape to frame out the door, the fun begins by playing with colors. In this case, ultramarine blue and light violet.

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And now.. We have a mess.. But it’s SO much fun! And really, as in my last post, there is a method to the madness here. Looking closely you might see the long strip of painter’s tape which is keeping a slightly off center strip of light color preserved for later manipulation.

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Now, after removing the center strip of tape and a little wash with water and a few splashes of Viridi, and a few streaks of orange.. The door is almost finished.

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And now there she is.. Dreamer’s Door. A process of passion that lasted a beautiful (and quite messy) twelve hours.

I enjoy these moments while creating art, as brief as they might be, no matter when or how they happen. It is part of a path that I have never truly known where it would take me, and it doesn’t matter because the journey has always been beautiful.

There is truly something magical and joyous in creating art, and I’m grateful for the ability to do so.

Thank you all for reading!

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.

 

 

 

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 Ground

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“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.”
Leonardo da Vinci

An artist must create a background. No matter musician, painter, writer, dancer or actor, we all must have a background, a beginning; a point from which our work and our lives begin to live.

The background is more than just a stage or foundation. It is more than a smattering of color in a painting and more than a random coloring of history in a story.

It is more than the melody that threads together the chorus and more than the step that connects the pirouette. It is more than the scenery beyond the actors face, and it is more than the first chord that any musician plays.

The background is the primal voice of our art. It is the first echo of our voice and the first cry heard from our hearts. In it we find the woven, inseparable brothers of light and dark. We find the first shadow and we find the first flaw.

The background connects all that can be contained in its margin. Without this crown of strength, the flatness of life is shown through in all works, and in all life.

The background is sometimes unseen. Often it is completely unnoticed. Sometimes it is gray, white or even invisible from man’s sight. But, it is always there, always the connecting source, always the point of awareness from which emanates all life’s colors.

The background is life. It is the stage which you call home. It is the rest you take before a long day. It is the thoughts and ideas you have about others, about life and about yourself.

What color is your background?

Is it textured, rich, full of noise? Full of darkness?

Is it full of light and awareness? Is it sharpened, or diffused?

Does it hold your heart in place? Does it move your soul, or move your life?

The background is a sacred place. It is the beginning of all creation, the garden, the birth swaddle, the uncurling from dreamless sleep. It is the place where the ghosts of the future speak to us.

The background is the beginning of the dream, the unseen witnessing of the miracle. It is the first chord of the grand chorus, sung by the universe for all men to hear.

Create your background well and live to brighten life.

 

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.

Life in Contrast

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“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” ― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Contrast is part of life, and we truly live in a life of contrast. However, what appears to us as strikingly different, what appears to us as a simple juxtaposition of black and white are really two of the same. It is within the one shade that we can find two.

We should all explore the contrast as it applies to our lives. We artists use contrast to evoke distinction and clarity within a piece. We writers use contrast to shade the personality of a character against his peers, his struggles or in completion of his goal. Within one form, we can always find two, contrasted throughout time.

Contrast dances in unison with one purpose. This simplicity differentiates the part from the whole, though it is the whole that all parts emanate from. It is this specific part of the form that we emphasize in our own lives. Sometimes we emphasize the black, while other times, it is the white.

In life, we must recognize our own contrasts. We must become aware of both the subtle and the striking differences within our own consciousness and what we perceive around us.

It is through recognizing these true contrasts that live within us all that we can become whole. With this simple understanding we can come back to the center. The contrast will coalesce within and around us, becoming one.

It is dutiful of all artists, of all creative spirits to explore contrast, just as it is for all lives to accept and understand it. This is the divergence of self and of sight, of mind and of body.

We become our own contrast. We live through our variance of self and of mind only to one day return to the true form. To become one with this clashing of color, of shade and of emotion is to become one with the heart and the mind.

Color your work and your life with the awareness of contrast. Unfocus and watch as two forms become one.