It's been a while since I wrote a blog post. To be honest, there wasn't a lot to say. Often, as the weather gets warmer, I don't paint as much. First, it gets warm in the studio, and secondly, there are so many other things to do, enjoy the sunshine, work in my garden, eat ice cream, etc.
That doesn't mean I haven't been busy. On the contrary, I've been flat out. I've been doing quite a bit of work on my new YouTube Channel, Carl Parker: The Zen of Painting, which is a collection of videos of either me creating or talking about my work, with a few fun and silly videos sprinkled in. Don't be afraid of the silly ones, it's just another outlet for my creativity. I'm going to be 49 later this month and I've promised myself, since I'm not getting any younger, and, since I spent probably the first 40 odd years of my time on Earth letting people squash my creative voice in one way or another and to varying degrees, that I'm just going to enjoy myself, stop taking things so seriously and stop worrying about what people think. Let's face it, there's no point worrying about what others think of you, because really, they rarely are. So, if you're open minded, love art, aren't easily offended and love a good laugh, check it out.
The other thing I've been working on has been a project that had been in the works for quite some time. I kept it under wraps until now, but today I can finally talk about it. I've just published my new book, this one being my second, called Fake News, Real Paintings: An Artist's View of What's Wrong With the World. I'm very pleased with it. It was a fun book to write. It's a collection of some of my more "controversial" paintings, my protest pieces, if you will, along with commentary about what inspired each one.
The best way I can explain it is to give you a sneak peek at the introduction, or a part of it:
As a young man, I never watched the news; I never followed politics. I was generally, blissfully unaware of anything that was going on in the world, and more than that, I really didn’t care. If it didn’t have a direct and immediate impact on me personally, well, frankly, it just didn’t exist. I was happy in my state of blissful ignorance.
Fast forward a few years, and that blissfully ignorant young man began to grow up, as we all do, and began to take notice of the world outside of his own bubble. Not in any real deep or meaningful way, but enough to watch a bit of news and follow politics, at least on a superficial level, just enough to parrot what I was hearing around me as my own thoughts and opinions. And really, I thought they were. I was the best little sheep you could ever meet, following the herd whichever way the wind took it. I mean, what else was I to do? I wasn’t an educated man on these matters; best to leave the thinking to those more qualified, right?
However, as the years passed and forty came and went, I began to expand my horizons, to read, to study, to talk to people, a wide variety of people. I was encouraged to look at the headlines and listen to the soundbites with a critical eye and ear. I was both shocked and horrified at what I learned. All those things I had believed, all those opinions, you know the ones other people had that I just adopted as my own without much thought, were, for the most part, complete and utter garbage. Some of them were even more than that, they were out and out lies that anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of how politics or the Constitution works would spot in a heartbeat!
And as time went on and I became more and more aware, I noticed things didn’t seem to get any better. In fact, they seemed to get worse, until what I discovered was that we had devolved into a society of political correctness, where free expression has been replaced with sanctions, both real and imagined for wrong think and civil, lively debate has been replaced by mean – spirited school yard taunts. The news isn’t the news anymore. Remember journalism? The 5 W’s, who, what, when, where and why, the facts and just the facts. Well, they seem to have been replaced by “info-tainment” programs where facts are lightly sprinkled over opinion and political leanings. I could go on and on here, but you get the idea.
Of course, to process this, and to perhaps purge my frustrations in a constructive fashion, I turned to the only thing I knew, painting. I found, to my surprise, that the boy who once abhorred anything political; the boy who refused to watch the news, not only noticed world events and social commentary seeping into his work, but he was compelled somehow to speak his mind through his paint.
I guess maybe I've turned into an old curmudgeon. Oh well had to happen sometime. You can find Fake News, Real Paintings: An Artist's View of What's Wrong With the World on Amazon at www.amazon.com/dp/1073715698/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=fake+news+real+paintings+carl+parker&qid=1560796457&s=gateway&sr=8-1 or on my books page, here: Books
It's been a busy time over here, but I thought I'd better take time to post an update. First off, this is my latest painting, I call it Mother Nature's Whisper. I'm very pleased with it, and the inspiration is likely obvious; it's that time of year now when everything is coming to life, Mother Nature is showing her chops hardcore. The blossoms are out, everything is green again, the sun is shining and the sky is that gorgeous shade of blue. It makes a person feel grateful to be alive.
Speaking of grateful, I do want to mention my new YouTube channel, which is both a new endeavour and an expression of my gratitude. It's called The Zen of Painting and I hope it gives at least someone the same thing art gave me, a sense of zen, of peace and purpose in this crazy world. It really doesn't matter what you paint, or even how good you are, what matters is having fun, being able to do something tht makes you feel good, that allows you to leave the chaos behind. I'll post the link to the channel here and I hope you'll all like, subscribe and share: www.youtube.com/channel/UCFCyG3qVOUPBlBw6N5fRUGQ
This piece, Summer Murder, contains my version of crows and my version of graffiti. I enjoy an artistic path where I have my own style. This style that formed from me in a natural and spontaneous way was embraced and successful from the start. I am very grateful for this. Gratitude is paramount in life.
Several years ago, I was looking out my studio window. This window was in the top apartment of a rancid, too old building. I was told the building was a former Cat House, as in, an establishment where men would visit to acquire female company. This apartment was so bad that I developed a cough while I was living there. As it turns out, it was the insanely old carpets. Eventually, someone removed them.
However awful the apartment seemed and was, part of my art beginnings happened here. One could say I earned my chops. I couldn't afford to eat properly, live in a healthy place, have a normal amount of peace of mind, and so on. These struggles can shape someone and an artist. Everything goes into the art if you allow it to.
Wanna be an artist, a real one, a good one? Then, go out and live life on your own and on your own terms. That's where life flow and art flow will come into existence. Life should be everything, and art should be too.
The interesting fact is that as I looked out that nightmarish old window, I noticed crows outside on the wires close to the building. I immediately painted my first crow piece. It sold right away and the rest is history.
You see, In line with the yin and yang of life, you take the good with the bad.
If you're a member of a close-knit and loving family, you may understand this painting. If not, you still may understand it. If you're used to just looking at or buying purely decorative art, this piece may confuse you. I don't mean to be harsh here, it's just that this painting has a complexity to it. Complex work takes years to learn how to produce. If this sort of art eludes you, perhaps move on now. ;)
In families that are tenaciously close, the bond is amazingly strong. The love knows no bounds. In this piece, we have three generations of females, mother, sister and younger sister. What challenges will they face? Will their lives be like rocky seas or smooth waters? That's the beauty of this life, the mystery. This is also the beauty of good art. XO.
Some things, we want to forget. Some things, we want to hold onto forever. When I was little, my deep mind held on so very tightly to every moment, every exciting thing, and each new discovery. One beautiful memory I shall always treasure is when my mother, sister, and myself would be at the beach. Every summer, I had a really cool mom who took us to a beach setting, whether it was Grand Manan, P.E.I. or Newfoundland. It was the '70's and things were good. Things were still innocent and sweet. It was before the world had it's way with me! Ha! Ha! You know what I mean. When we grow up, things have a funny way of chipping away at our peace of mind and freedom of spirit. At the end of the day, though, that crap matters not, it's what you do as a so called, adult, that will make the new brilliant memories. XO.
I called this painting, When Time Stands Still. Sometimes we happen along a natural scene so awesome that we want time to stop. It's like Mother Nature is smiling at us. She's giving us a glimpse of the amazing thing called the natural world. This is often the best world we can be in.
Go out and walk in the woods, or stroll along a green field full of flowers. You'll be so glad you did.
I have this amazing memory of when I was a kid. I was at the beach with my mother and sister. The child in this painting shows a girl, but it could be me, a representation of me as a kid, happy and carefree. I even remember the sunburn I felt that night in bed. Yes, my father was missing from that scene. My parents were divorced when I was just 4 years old. It was difficult for many years. I would sometimes cry at night in my bed because I missed my father. It rips a hole in your inner being to be without a parent. The years went by and life went on. I always felt the pain of the divorce. We all did.
Shoot ahead to 2019. I have emotional scars, have made mistakes, have had major challenges, but something interesting happened. That sad little boy who had felt so alone and unsure became a man who got to know himself. This man became someone who found their inner strength. This man became an artist. That is a truly magnificent thing.
I called this painting, Those Beautiful Moments, and it was both difficult and freeing to paint. It is one of my favourites to date. It shows a little girl, but it feels like me when I was that little boy on that beach. After I finished this piece, I felt a mixture of sadness and elation. Sadness because my father was not with us at that beach and elation due to dealing with that fact through my painting process.
Some of the pain and some of the joys reside in my paintings. This is partly what makes them feel special to collectors. However hard it was to go through the things I did, I am grateful to have experienced it because it caused a beautiful honesty in my work.
I thank my beloved collectors for sharing in my life's journey with the art I create. You know who you are...
I finished this painting yesterday. I really enjoyed painting it. It was actually a soothing and relaxing process. When I head to the easel and set out to tackle the canvas, it's often not a tackling process at all. With me, it tends to be healing, and quite possibly therapeutic. This piece, Spring Comes Soon, was just this sort of experience. Sometimes, Mother Nature seems to guide us and whisper her awesome teachings, things we knew all along. XO. Namaste.
As I drink my morning coffee, I think about this piece, Pure Sensuality. She has a lot of fire, sass, and passion. Shouldn't we all possess these things in our being? YES! However, at times, we forget some of our real joys. Life can get in the way. Bills, kids, work, whatever, can really bog us down. As long as we stop and remember the intense passion that uplifts and heals us, we get to see those hidden things behind the curtain. It makes this life all the more worth living. XO.
The million dollar question is what do these three things have in common? The obvious answer is simple, me. However, as with most things, there's the simple answer and the more complex one; today, we delve into the more complex. And before you get on me about the clown picture, calm down, you're not Cosmo Kramer, it's just me with make up.
The real message behind all the things listed in the title is self acceptance. It's really as simple and as complicated as that. First, the clown. As a child, I never really fit anywhere. It's a story I've told before, so I'll repeat it only briefly here. I was different, I knew it, everyone knew it, but there hadn't been a name assigned to it yet. I preferred my own company, finding other children annoying, for the most part, due to their child-like behaviour. I preferred to hang out in my room and draw or read. In school, I was bored, I never wanted to listen, I was content to stare out the window, making up adventures in my head. Of course, the social dynamic of the schoolyard dictates that one must fit in and it really can be a jungle out there. I didn't get a lot of hassle from other kids, likely due to my size and hot temper, but my real way of compensating for feelings of separateness, of feeling out of place, was to poke fun. I became the class clown. I'd draw funny men on the chalk board, make sounds or sarcastic comments during class, you name it. Well, obviously, I spent a lot of time in the hallway or having teachers screaming in my face. It didn't seem to work, I couldn't hold back, honestly, I felt compelled to act out.
Years later, I guess I finally got the message. When I was about 16 or so, and following me through much of my adult life, really until about 5 or 6 years ago, I again, tried to fit in. The class clown was out, it had no place in so-called manhood. So, I became a "man," a miserable, humourless, brooding man. I stuffed the humour in me so far down that even Indiana Jones wouldn't be able to dig deep enough to find the remnants of it. I didn't laugh, rarely smiled and was generally miserable and made everyone around me miserable. And when I say I didn't laugh, I mean it. Misty told me she actually remembered the one time I laughed between 1986 and 1990, seriously, ONE TIME. She used to call me a stuffed shirt. I bet I was one fun date! Nevertheless, being a man was serious business and if that's how I was supposed to be to force myself to fit, well, so be it. Of course all that suppression and pressure to fit came out in other ways, rage, restlessness and being a general asshole.
It wasn't really until a few years ago that I finally let the stuffed shirt go. I still remember the day, Misty wanted to show me a YouTube clip of a comedian she saw live in Birmingham, AL that she thought was hilarious, Ralphie May. I protested, saying I didn't care for comedy (pair that with my other two favourite lines at the time, I do not drink alcohol and I do not attend parties and you begin to wonder why she ever came back). Well, she persisted more, and I found myself laughing, out loud and everything. It felt good. Slowly, Mr. Stuffed Shirt left the building and I became able to accept the silly side of myself as just another part of who I am. So, now, looking down the barrel at 50 (I'll be 49 in June), I can honestly say that I accept all of me, the serious, the silly, the feminine, the masculine, all of it. And the clown is my way of showing that. It's my way of embracing and celebrating what was first punished, and later, suppressed, for so long. But don't worry, I don't always masquerade as a clown when I'm feeling silly, sometimes I play board games wearing a tin foil hat:
And you know the beautiful thing about accepting yourself, once you do, others will begin to accept and love you for you too, think about it, do you really think I make my own hats or paint my own face? Now, on to the art portion of this. One of my recent paintings is about exactly what I've been talking about. It's called Sweet Freedom and it's my depiction of the joy and freedom that comes with self acceptance, of letting go of the expectations and opinions of others: