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! :)
It's a gorgeous sunny morning here as I sit and sip my coffee and contemplate what my day will look like. And as I do that, well, I figured why not talk about my latest piece. I call it Wonderfully Haunted, and I must say, it's one of my favourite crow pieces that I've done. Why haunted? Well, I am a huge fan of horror movies and all things generally scary, or on what people would call "on the creepy side (much to Misty's dismay, she hates that stuff. I even had to promise never to bring the movie The Fly into our house when we reunited after forcing her to watch it with me back in the 80's ... sorry Jeff Goldblum, she's just not that into you (well, she did like you in Law and Order), but I digress. Of course the title and the feel of the piece may have something to do with my love of "the horror", but as always, there's something deeper, what can I say, I'm a pretty clever guy, much to the surprise of most.
Besides scary movies, I also love old buildings. You know, when you're walking by and you see an old house, it's dilapidated, empty, lonely, the yard inhabited only by the crows that hang out on the branches of unkempt trees, partially obscuring the windows, but there it stands, and you can see it's past glory in your mind's eye. How it used to stand, so tall, so beautiful, the huge rooms, the ornate and intricate architecture. You wonder about the types of people that lived there. Who were they? What did they do? Were they happy? What happened to them? Did they all die or just move away? Was there no one to pass this former beauty onto? I imagine who the inhabitants were, but in reality, I guess I'll never really know, that's between the old house and the crows.
Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Well, I haven't blogged for a bit so you're probably wondering where I've been. As it turns out, I've been very busy, prolific, in fact. As the temperatures warm, the days lengthen and sun strengthens, my energy goes way up, and along with it, my inspiration. You can see the renewal of the upcoming season in my most recent works, I think. Themes like water and flowers have made their return and you can sense the joy in these pieces. You can almost see me smiling as I painted them, and I hope they make you smile too.
You may have noticed that most of my recent posts, and paintings, for that matter, have had some mention of spring or summer. Well, can you blame me? I mean, it's been a hellish winter! Okay, maybe hellish is a bit dramatic, but well, I'm an artist and I am nothing if not dramatic. And, for the record, I think 90 km/h wind gusts, bone chilling cold and a never ending series of snow, freezing rain, rain, repeat, is indeed, hellish.
But I digress, this is meant to be a happy post about my latest piece, I call it Spring Window. I'm really pleased with it. It reminds me of this time of year in a way. I'm loving sitting by the huge windows in my studio now, in the mornings, having my coffee, looking out at the crows. The air is still crisp and cool, but that sun, DAYMN! It's got some heat to it. In the mornings, as well as in the early afternoon, it warms my face as I sip my coffee, or work on a painting, or whatever. But by late afternoon, around 3 or 4 pm, that sun, coming in those huge windows cooks up the joint. Seriously, it heats the place up so much that I've had to turn the heat completely off and crack a window. And when the window's cracked, I can smell the freshness in the air, that crisp, "new" scent that tells you everything is about to begin again. I love that smell, and I love basking in the sun by my big window this time of year.
I haven't been writing much, so I figured I'd better check in. Things have been crazy busy around the studio. My book seems to be taking off, and I'm finally receiving a shipment in mid-March so those that have asked for signed copies will be able to order them directly from me (shameless plug: if you wish to have a signed copy of the book, you may contact me through this website's contact form or if you're on Facebook, through it's private messenger). Other than that, I've been painting and trying to stay warm. I know I said a week ago that I could feel spring coming, and I stand by that statement, I can, I feel it in the sun, the sun is getting stronger, it seems the air, however, has some catching up to do.
Oh, and a pretty cool thing happened last night. I was just sitting around minding my business, when I was approached by a guy named Reid. He runs a website and has a blog all about his life and travels as an adult with Asperger's. Anyway, he wanted to do a spotlight on me, you know, as a fellow Aspie, with a special talent. So, I checked out his site, www.aspergerszone.com; it's very good, so I, of course said yes. I mean, come on, who doesn't want an entire page on someone else's blog devoted entirely to them?
Here's a link to my spotlight: aspergerszone.com/spotlight/artist, check it out. And while you're there, have a browse, look around at his other content, it provides great insight into his life on the spectrum in a straightforward, honest way. Be sure to subscribe too.