Sunday, September 30, 2007

Yesterday I picked up my 30 canvas boards for the challenge. It's almost a little intimidating.

Today, I spent 4 hours in the studio. First toning all the boards so I can begin painting tomorrow. It gives me 28 days to do 30 paintings. Almost nuts.

But, I am excited because I'm curious to see what it does to my painting, during and after the challenge. I'm going to work on studio interiors. Simple, nothing hugely realistic. We'll see what happens.

After covering the boards, I worked on two small paintings in acrylic. One I began on Friday and the other, a new one. They are test paintings, getting used to working with acrylic paint. And then I worked some more on a very large (22x28) graphite drawing that I began last Saturday. It's a relaxing thing to do. Much different than the freneticism that comes with working in oils. I don't rush through building up the layers.

I'm not sure where the drawing is headed and it doesn't matter. It's more of a meditation piece.

I can slow down...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

And my favorite~

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sometimes it's the simple things that can be important: a nice glass of merlot or nothing more than stepping in the studio to clean off a palette and tend to brushes.

Sometimes the simple things are what is needed.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

First Thursday quickly returns.

Although 8 paintings in, and I could show them as work in progress, I don't think I will.

I've been pretty sick since last Saturday night with a really nasty cold. It's the first in over a year. Since then, I haven't spent any time in the studio.

The cold was a blessing in disguise. It forced me to stop. I had been pushing myself to do some intense emotional work, jumping into all that I needed to experience. Although I had pretty much reclused myself to work, painting and being alone to facilitate this work, the attack on my physical stole all my energy.

In a way, it was a reprieve...a forced escape from the tumultuousness of life.

Yesterday afternoon I could feel the damned cold shifting and moving out of my system. With that, life in all its ferociousness came charging back.

This Saturday I need to pick up my 30 canvases and begin working those. I'll start by toning every one, so they'll be ready to paint.

It means that for now, my current paintings need to be tucked away.

So, unless something else comes to me next week, for first Thursday I'll be showing a series that is just over a year old. The timing is perfect. Until now, only one person has seen the series as a whole.

They are charcoal/watercolor and graphite pieces, about 15x20 each. There are about 12 pieces (can't remember the exact number right now). The totally best compliment I've received on my art has become a part of one of these pieces.

Here's a favorite one~

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

self portrait

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Over the weekend I rented a really not so great, overly dramatic, filled with stereotypes and a "geez, how many famous characters can you pack into a movie?" account of the painter Modigliani, played by Andy Garcia. I cringed many times in the viewing. So the plot...not good.

Visually, it was beautiful.

Stunning. Stunning. Stunning. Paintings in many shots. The light is gorgeous. Despite many problems with the story telling, it was what I needed.

The soundtrack is luscious. Especially, one particular song called Ode to Innocence, by Sasha Lazard. Sadly, it's not included if you purchase the cd to the soundtrack, but it is on her Myth of Red cd.

Yesterday, Patti Smith's Dancing Barefoot played on Radio Paradise. That song speaks to me. And it reminded me that I don't own any of her work….and sadly, not familiar with most of it.

So, I indulged. I purchased Myth of Red, Smith's Wave and another called O: Operatica, Vol. 1.

Myth of Red led me to the third. The reviews and the song snippets drew me in.

Lately, I'm seeking music where it's the sound not the lyrics that hit my belly. It creates a freedom within, regardless of how I'm feeling.

It assists with soaring...

Monday, September 24, 2007

"There is something at work in my soul which I do not understand. I am practically industrious–painstaking, a workman to execute with perseverance and labour–but besides this there is a love for the marvellous, a belief in the marvellous, intertwined in all my projects, which hurries me out of the common pathways of men, even to the wild sea and unvisited regions I am about to explore."

-Mary Shelley Frankenstein, Letter 2

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What I find strange about my new paintings (see yesterday's entry for sample) is how bright and clear they are, considering my emotional state as of late. The shrink told me I was in a much different place this time and therefore, even though this is a most challenging time, it would be handled differently. The paintings do seem to reflect that. In a way, it puzzles me.

On another topic, here is a powerful and very moving video of Jerry Sanders, the mayor of San Diego. It's a little speech from last night regarding his shift from support for gay civil unions to full on gay marriage, knowing "separate but equal" isn't right.

It goes to show the impact of change of heart, even with a Republican, conservative ex-cop.

If you watch it, and are so moved, you can email him your support at:
jerrysanders at sandiego dot gov

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

(click for better color)

One of my in progress pieces. It began very realistic and as you can see, I'm beginning to blow it apart.

I'm struggling with color....and have been for about a month. I feel inept.

After working, I wound up at Elliot Bay Books and ended up with major retail therapy by splurging on 3 art books. I was seeking a colorist....and found one, as well as two other books. All spoke to me in a different way, feeding different parts of what I seek in my art -

The Drawing Book, filled with drawings by creative people in various fields. As soon as I picked it up I was drawn in.

The other two are about new to me artists:
Gordon Matta Clark: You Are The Measure. His work struck me.

Emily Mason: The Fifth Element. Flipping thru this book felt almost familiar. Here's a page with some of her work.

Gordon and Emily are both new artists for me. Emily's work feels similar to what I'm trying to do and her color is luscious. I'm seeking study. I want to define space and light with color and don't feel as if I know how to do it. If it happens in a painting, it's not an intellectual process...yet intuitive. But I want to learn the skill.

In the last couple days, I'm slowing down the color mixing. Today, I tried to force myself to only mix one color at a time....lay it down, then from there decide what I need.

Study. Study. Study.

It's work.

Every day I drag myself into the studio for a bit. Sometimes, only one hour. Sometimes more. Sometimes it takes all my energy to get there.

What keeps me going, pushing me, is that it is the only thing I have to hang onto. Painting. I've just claimed it and it will not be taken away from me.

There are 8 paintings in progress. Two big ones, 6 small. The paintings are messes. But I need to continue to work. One of the smaller pieces is a self portrait.

Painting one's self while in the throes of grief is a most surreal experience.

One day, all I could do was tape paper together to make a large 4 by 6 foot sheet. On my hands and knees, I marked the paper with charcoal. Smudging, blurring, wiping.


The fire is hot.

My shrink says I'm being forged. It's preparing me for greater adventures. He also says if I weren't strong enough I wouldn't be going thru this. My strength is little comfort. It's a double-edged sword that slices back.

I know there is something on the horizon. I've been acutely aware of it for the last few months. Something is coming. Something grand. I can visualize it, feel it, smell it, taste it. It is the one thing that gets me through.

And still, knowing this also brings very little solace.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Alizarin crimson mixed with sap green makes a beautiful, rich, deep brown. It's the way I begin, have begun...for over 10 years. The first mix on a fresh palette. It's my base. My grounding color. The earth.

Today I knew what I was going to paint. Grabbed an armful of small canvases.

Towers. Towers upon towers. Towers crashing.
Two towers in rubble.

Fast, little paintings.

I approached the easel and looked at the large painting, barely begun on Sunday. Only one layer of thin paint. My eyes moved toward the bag holding all the small canvases.

No more hesitation, I grabbed 3 brushes in my right hand. With my left, selected the largest of the three, soaked it in medium and then the brown, quickly glazing over the large painting. Repeated the process over and over. Then I slammed my brush in the alizarin, mixed it with medium and continued to coat the canvas.

Long, thin streaks of dark red began to show. Yes..blood. My blood.
It's perfect. A long sigh of relief escaped my lips.

My blood.

Time to go darker. Mixing some ultramarine into the brown creates a black that's alive. Today is a day for more blue than black. It's meant for the bottom of the painting.

Now, I've lied a little.

Although I always begin with the alizarin/sap mix, this painting session had one step before the mix. For me, an odd move. Very curious. Bright, light blue. Titanium with a small dab of ultramarine placed near the center of the painting. Quick and clean.

Then it was followed by my ritual glaze all over, except for that blue patch. From there, I began to build on the paint. Laying it thicker.

I thought I knew what I was going to paint today - two towers crashing.

Instead, it desired to be Two Chairs.

(clicking on the image shows more vibrant colors)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Yesterday, although very well-intentioned, I never painted. I did get to the art store, dropped off my purchases at the studio, went into our storage room and pulled out the easel and worktable and set everything up to paint. For First thursday, we all throw our stuff in our storage room. It's a guarantee that we clean the big space once a month.

Today, I went in and began two large paintings. Well...large compared to what I'd been previously 18x24 and a 22x28.

I finally finished watching the Firefly series. Not being a fan of westerns or sci-fi, I dragged my feet on viewing these. I tend to enjoy films set in either but only after I'm pushed into watching them. With Firefly, it took about 8 shows for me to warm up to the characters. Then, I was a sucker for the remaining episodes and annoyed that it was such a short-lived series. Whedon is genius.

So now I'll watch them all one more time before returning the dvds to Dan & Craig.

The slow pace was needed after Thursday's exposure.

In my email was a notice for a series of very groovy art events known as the Motel Series. A few motels, slated for demolition, will be the venues for performance art and installations just before demolition.

I received details on the first one being held on September 15th.

From the website:

The Bridge Motel (3650 Bridge Way N, off Aurora, in Fremont) will host a one-night only event to kick off the MOTEL series on 15 September 2007, 5 PM - midnight.

Built in 1952 by a retired policeman, the motel has anchored the north end of the infamous Aurora Bridge for decades in welcoming glory. Originally a place frequented by tourists and traveling salesmen, the Bridge Motel has over time become more a place for those living from paycheck to paycheck, and whose lives involve drug use, prostitution, and the like. In the popular imagination, the place embodies and realizes that underbelly, shady side of life's toiling. There has been murders here, and numerous drug busts, its decaying artifice contains the stories of a full lifetime of drama, and the day by day passing through of souls...

For one night, its last night of existence, the Bridge Motel will be dressed up and called to shine and dance ... Numerous installation/performance artists have been given full rein the week prior, to transform each dilapidated pocket into whatever they could imagine. The opening evening will reveal the Bridge's final blossom before its inevitable razing. And to top it off, every inch of the motel will be crawling with performance artists, injecting the animation and energy of truly ephemeral art. The stellar roster of artists involved is sure to create a cacophony of sights and sounds to inspire the mind and heart, and give the aging motel a proper dress-up before it's demise ... This night is not to be missed.

Check out the participating artists and descriptions here.

What an incredibly sexy idea.
This turns me on big time.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Going painting today.
My truth is found in the paint...therein lay integrity.

This morning I woke with the desire to paint big. In October I'll be bound to a multitude of 8x10's, so now is the time to immerse myself in larger work. As soon as Utrecht opens, I'm headed over to pick up some white and then off to the studio.

Snippets from First Thursday:

An elderly couple walked in the studio about 6:15. They explained they have been attending First Thursday for about 20 years, and have come to prefer exploring our building instead of the galleries because there was more life in the 619 building....more artistic excitement. It gave me warm fuzzies and showed me that I was in a good place.

In addition, and what thrilled me even more, a handful of folks walked in throughout the night and all mentioned to me that our studio space has always been the one they looked forward to seeing because there's always something exciting happening in the room. And that's with an evolving group of artists who work in the space. It seems The Sophia Room beckons a certain energy of artist to work within her.

I chose not to price my work because being all new from this past month, I'm not ready to part with them. In case someone did ask, I mentally had prices set. Two different people inquired about the very same painting. And it's the one painting I almost didn't hang yet made a very last minute decision to show! In addition, it was the one painting I felt wasn't fully complete. never know.

What was unsettling to me was that many times throughout the evening I was asked to explain my work. The impetus, what it meant...etc. The unsettling part was that I really couldn't. Last month, even though I was showing abstracts as well, those ink pieces were speaking to my fear of potential ovarian cancer. It was clear and therefore I could articulate a response.

These paintings...all of them...were born of a desire to step into the unknown. I literally didn't know what I was doing, where I was going, what it would look like. I didn't have a vision of their completion. Nothing. It was simply a matter of immersing myself in the blackness found in my belly and allow the brush to move on canvas. Yes, I would begin with a rectangle for one reason: it felt simple...a basic we all are before we're tainted with the complexities of life, the hurts, the wounds, the abuses.

I couldn't have even written the above while I was working on them. It was just a sense I had...of needing to go back to basic. Stripping myself and my work. Allowing greater vulnerability. In painting each, my head really didn't know where my body was taking it. This was the most unintellectual series of paintings I've ever done. And in being such, they are the most honest and most powerful.

Because I couldn't come up with an intellectual response to their inquiry, I felt at a loss. Where are the words for something so visceral?

People's responses to the paintings thrilled me big time. Yes, quite a few gave a cursory glance and walked the same way I've done to work in galleries. But there were so many who would stop, look, walk up and down the wall. Others would come close, then step back to the other side for a distance view to then return close. Really looking. And a handful throughout the night came up very close...noses almost pressed to canvas, studying them. It warmed my heart.

One man walked into the room and made a beeline for a certain piece. He approached me after and said that painting caught his eye as soon as he stepped into our space.

Another, after doing a microscopic study of the work walked away nodding, with a big smile on his face. I almost cried with joy.

First Thursday is from 6-9pm but apparently it's not a strict time. I had to tear myself away at 10:30 due to exhaustion, and the room as well as the building was still full of folks!

It was a very good evening.

And I've noticed that since then, I've been jacking off like crazy. It's not a sex that comes from running away or distracting myself as I do at times, but a full immersion into who I am.

Friday, September 07, 2007

First Thursday Art Walk

Steph's work on the right

Trina's artist statment

Trina's paintings

Dave's work

Phil contemplating the great truths hidden within the paintings while someone is sharing his experience of my work

A very tired me

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

This is the bunny above the door inside my studio. He's huge.
And very welcoming.

Tomorrow is the First Thursday art walk. If you'd like to stop in and see a bunch of work, including are the details:

619 Western Ave
6-9 PM
My studio is on the 4th floor - 4 South.
It's the room that has "The Sophia Room" painted above the door.

Some kickass business cards were designed for me. I'm picking them up from the printer tomorrow.

I'm very excited and proud to show this work. It's the first series of paintings in my new space. Some are still in progress, but remembering someone's directive...I will show every month.

Tonight, I went to Septieme to relax, grab a bite to eat and read. An ice tea, a little bread, and a green salad with grilled pears, dried cranberries, red onions and some wonderful ham (I can't remember what type). Delicious and light.

It's the second time in a week that I've enjoyed Septieme alone. You see, for the last 3 months, I haven't been able to spend alone time anywhere, other than work, my home or my studio. Everything else felt unsafe. I could be alone in a restaurant, waiting for friends but not for long. That development saddened me and I hoped it wasn't permanent. Happily, it changed last week.

After my dinner, I bumped into an NGLTF board member in the restaurant, who had been talking about the foundation I work for and wanted me to connect with the person she was meeting with right then, regarding some political organizing. Sat and chatted with both of them a bit and the new person said she'd contact me soon for more networking.

On the walk down to the Cafe, I was getting cruised big time by quite a few guys. That never happens. Or if it does, I'm oblivious to it. This time I was catching their eyes and yeah, doing some cruising of my own.

There were still some dark chocolate covered pretzels left at work. I found them as my craving increased.

Today I received an email asking me if I'd be interested in being one of the jurors for the Seattle LGBT film festival. This person couldn't do it and was going to recommend me. I would have jumped at the chance but it's a 2 week commitment right in the middle of my "30 paintings in 30 days" time.

Great session with my shrink today. We aren't meeting for another four weeks. I know I can call and schedule something if needed...but we're pulling back some. I left it up to him and he suggested waiting a month. He was very complimentary, which he normally doesn't do. He also teased me and said it's because I had a good teacher.

Although life is more challenging than ever, I'm learning new ways to get through it. The shrink hasn't received an emergency call or email from me in at least a few months.

And even with the challenges, he told me to keep weighing the amazing, positive changes in my life and that this current suffering is needed because it's pushing the good stuff fast and furious. He said "you're definitely doing something right!"

Yeah I still screw up at times...but there's a definite healthier shift.

Yes, I still will post about the talk with my parents. While in Septieme I made notes. Because so much was said, even though it was all positive, it's tough to share it in a concise manner. I'll figure it out.

A busy, busy day.

This image, shot last night, is quite perfect for my horoscope this week from Rob Brezsny's Freewill Astrology.

And here is yours.

Busy day today...I'll post more later.
Exciting things are happening.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Coming - by Jimmy Somerville

I am coming! I am coming!
I am coming through!
Coming across the divide to you

In this moment of unity
feeling an ecstacy
to be here, to be now
At last I am free

Yes at last, at last
to be free of the past
and the future that beckons me

I am coming! I am coming!
Here I am!
Neither a woman, nor a man

We are joined, we are one
With the human face
We are joined, we are one
With the human face

I am on earth
And I am in outer space
I'm being born and I am dying

I am on earth
And I am in outer space
I'm being born and I am dying

I am coming! I am coming!
I am coming through!
Coming across the divide to you

In this moment of unity
feeling an ecstacy
to be here, to be now
At last I am free!

Yes at last, at last
to be free of the past
and the future that beckons me

Yes at last, at last
to be free of the past
and the future that beckons me

I am coming! I am coming!
Here I am!
Neither a woman, nor a man

Oh we are joined, we are one
with the human face
Oh we are joined, we are one
with the human face

At last I am free!
At last I am free!

I am on earth
And I am in outer space
I'm being born and I am dying

I am on earth
And I am in outer space
I'm being born, I am dying

At last I am free!
At last I am free!!!

Yes at last, at last, at last I'm free!
Yes at last, at last, at last I'm free!

It was a very busy weekend with a ton of socializing. Matt was in town which meant I was out and about more than in.

Pretty much no studio work, until yesterday. But I felt myself winding down after an intense month of working. First Thursday is in two days and I'm very excited. What I've done feels strong. Although I'm not sure if they're all complete, I will show the series.

Yesterday, Matt borrowed my car so he could visit Daniel. He dropped me off at the studio which gave me a few hours there. A very pleasant couple hours. I had begun a large black and white piece in charcoal & watercolor on Wednesday. Yesterday I went in with pastels and began to add color to it. Also worked on cleaning, putting stuff in the storage space, prepping for Thursday night, sat and sketched in my book a bit and also did some reading.

It was the first time I really putzed in the space. Normally when I stop, I'll go home. But having to wait for Matt pushed me to embrace the studio in a greater way.

For over 10 years, I've owned The Art Spirit by Robert Henri. I purchased the book because I admired Henri's paintings, especially his portraits. Although I began it at that time, I clearly wasn't ready for the book. There is a copy in the studio and yesterday I began reading.

It encompasses what I've learned from my leather Mentor, my shrink and N. It shows me once again how we can't separate life but lessons learned in one arena need to be applied to others.

From the book, on the first page:

"The work of the art student is no light matter. Few have the courage and stamina to see it through. You have to make up your mind to be alone in many ways. We like sympathy and we like to be in company. It is easier than going it alone. But alone one gets acquainted with himself, grows up and on, not stopping with the crowd. It costs to do this. If you succeed somewhat you may have to pay for it as well as enjoy it all your life.

Cherish your own emotions and never undervalue them.

We are not here to do what has already been done.

I have little interest in teaching you what I know. I wish to stimulate you to tell me what you know..." had me in tears. It was a needed affirmation. And reminded me of how fortunate I am to have these amazing teachers that share a philosophy that isn't about compartmentalization yet works from the core and flows out from there, touching my art, my leather, my relationships.

Regarding the letter to my parents, on Sunday morning we spoke on the phone. Although N and I spoke about it and I informed another, I'm not yet ready to go into it publicly. It feels like I need to wait until I share it with my shrink.

What I will say was extremely positive, unfolding in a way I couldn't have imagined. We had a very powerful talk, filled with love and much honesty.


Monday, September 03, 2007

On Saturday, Matt, Phil, D and I were out and about, grocery shopping for Sunday dinner. Matt and I were hanging in the store, to this cooler of sausages. Being next to the dairy case and near the meat case, I thought it was regular food until I noticed "hearty chunks".

Who woulda thought that dog food came in refrigerated sausage tubes? This one pounder is the trial size!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Yes, I saw and enjoyed Young Frankenstein. But, as I told friends, it felt like a good show for a small town. I don't believe it's ready for NYC. Still a little messy. The sets are wonderful. The lyrics are really wonderful. The actors were good, with the strongest performance coming from Andrea Martin. The show needs more tweaking.

New artsy type sculptures next to the Paramount. The lot is still under half of Seattle. They are interesting, although a little too cutesy for my tastes. Safe.

Last night's FELS was at the Liberty Bar, a couple blocks from my home. I've never been there before. Couches, free wifi, open for coffee in the morning, and cocktails and sushi later on. On the walls, some artwork by Ellen Forney.

I'm kicking myself for not paying attention when I took this shot. I should have taken note of Luke's to Forney's art, and worked the image around that.

Our Phil.