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:
I completed this piece yesterday. I'm very pleased with it. It takes me back to my childhood when I relied on my strong mother, well, for everything. My mother worked two jobs and raised my sister and I as a single mother. My parents got divorced when I was 4. I didn't have the easiest childhood, but I didn't have the hardest, either. We had enough to eat and wear. We were safe and warm. This painting speaks of these essential things that every child should have.
A child's mother can be like God, angel, warrior, psychologist, protector, provider, story teller, disciplinarian, teacher, or best friend. The strong mother stands out, she shines. The courageous mother shines and glows just like this painting.
Remember your mother for all she did and does. Where would you be without her?
I normally don't blog on Monday's, but this piece is special, so I thought I'd talk about it. It reminds me of myself in many ways. Yes, I can see that the figure in the painting is a woman, and yes, I'm a man, but I am a man with a very well developed feminine side, and no, I'm not ashamed of that in the least. On the contrary, I'm as proud of that as I am any of my other attributes. That being said, let's get back to the topic at hand, this painting. I completed it last night and it really speaks of my life, and I suspect the lives of many of us that have had no choice but to push through some really awful times. I call it She Keeps Going.
When I say "have no choice", obviously, I don't mean no choice at all, I suppose you can just roll over and let whatever the circumstances are beat you, and I'd be lying if I tried to say I didn't have the momentary inclination to do just that. Let's face it, life can be tough, mine was, and is no exception. In fact, in many ways, my life has been almost 49 years of choppy waters with obstacles and sharks popping up out of the dark seas. Some obstacles, I admittedly put there myself, others were deliberately planted by others, motivated by all kinds of insanity (jealousy, fear, anger) and some even motivated by a misguided concern for my well-being. I, as you know, was a misfit from day one, school, the work world, both left me feeling like I was alone in a stormy ocean, bobbing around on a cork, just hanging on until I could find the shore (gotta keep the nautical theme going). Relationships were pretty much the same (until I came back to my true love). When things were good, and of course, there were good times, it always seemed that something came along and threw a monkey wrench into it all and there I was, back on that damn ocean bobbing around again. It seemed to happen so often that I began to spoil the good times with the constant fear of the coming storm.
After the momentary lapses wherein I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity, each time, I gave my head a shake and kept going, because in truth, the only real way through a tough time is to head straight "through" it to the other side. And each and every time, I made it through to something better. And after having to learn the lesson over and over again, it finally stuck, and this piece is a reminder of that lesson, life won't always be smooth sailing, but when the seas get rough, ride out the waves till you see the shore, it may be close, it may be far away, but it's always there. And once you're there, don't be afraid to enjoy it, yes, you may find yourself drifting again one day, but you'll also be back on terra firma. Oh, and as an aside, and an added fun bonus, once you've reached the shore and are finally on good, firm solid ground, boy, does that ever piss off those people that put obstacles in front of your boat! :)