It's always so good to get nice things in the mail, rather than bills and solicitations, especially when they're a surprise. Today was a prime example, as my friend Eric Gordon, who runs the Vinyl Vagabonds and DC Creepers blogs and zine publications, sent me a portrait he made of me, along with other various goodies. The portrait was made late last year, when a bunch of cartoon and comic artists got together in Silver Spring, MD to participate in the first Cartoonists Draw Blood event, organized by Carolyn Belefski. What I love about Eric's portraits is that they aren't just your run-of-the-mill type visual interpretations. They're alive and electric and they capture the essence and character of an individual. I was in awe at just how many he successfully cranked out that day during the Cartoonists Draw Blood event, while having full-on conversations with those folks who sat for him! I feel very fortunate to have met him and his wife Sara at the Richmond Zinefest several years ago, as he came by to talk and introduce himself. Make sure to visit and follow his Vinyl Vagabonds and DC Creepers blogs, and buy their excellent zines, some of which I look forward to digging into tonight!
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Nearly two years ago I began participating in a mail art collaboration with my favorite living artist and all around cool guy, JJ Cromer. It was a dream come true, and we eventually had an excellent exhibit in February of 2013 at the Off-Rhode Gallery/ Art Enables in DC, called Splotch/Asterisk. Recently, a member from the DC band The Funk Ark picked up a copy of Magic Bullet - Washington, D.C.'s Comics Newspaper, issue #8, which featured my monster-themed art on the front cover. Long story short, this led the band to some of the collaborative works I did with JJ, which I posted online. Now, after talking on the phone with the band's manager, Nick Velleman, as well as with JJ to get his good graces, one of those pieces will adorn the front cover of their new album, titled Man is a Monster. To say I'm psyched about this is an understatement! Above is a teaser vid posted by the band for the new album. These guys are on fire, and if you watch until the very end, you get a peek at the cover art, with some nice close-ups. Below will be the featured album art, before the text gets added, formatted to square. I'll be posting more about this soon. Enjoy!
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Sometimes, or more often than not, I tend to take the good for granted and forget how sweet life can be. I complain about the heat and the sun and the bugs more often than I should in the summer. Taking pictures reminds me of all the good in the summer. The five pics above are from a visit to 868 Estate Vineyards, near Purcellville, Virginia. The five below are from the grounds at the Dodona Manor in Leesburg, Virginia, where I've been taking my drawing students all last week. Enjoy.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Earlier today I was happy to see a message from the Thrill Jockey records mailing list announcing the release of a new album by musicians Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler. I'm mostly familiar with Jeff's music in the form of his band Arc in Round, who released a truly amazing album and EP under the band's former name Relay. Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I was able to witness Relay open for The Lymbyc Systym and The Album Leaf, and never hearing or seeing the band before, I was instantly blown away. As Arc in Round, the band continues to impress, and on this latest project, you hear the more electronic, ambient production work that Zeigler's sound hinted at in Arc In Round/Relay.
Prior to today, I had unfortunately been ignorant to the brilliantly unique harp music coming from Mary Lattimore, and I had read in the T.J. newsletter (and later watched the clip from CBS Sunday Morning) that she had visited the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Tennessee, known for its spectacular summertime firefly display, to record a video for a song from the upcoming collaborative album. This is interesting, because earlier in the evening, I listened to the recording featured here while sitting outside on my back deck, when the woods began lighting up with fireflies - something I grew up with as a kid in Pennsylvania, and will never get tired of. It was fascinating to me how perfectly Lattimore's sublime harp melodies and Zeigler's rich synthesizer chords and textures seemed to synchronize so well with the nocturnal visual delight unfolding throughout the air that surrounded me.
The duo only have a few concerts lined up currently, but there is word of more shows to come when the album drops soon. You can mark my word that I will do everything in my power to be present at a performance if they come to the DC area. In the meantime, the album (featuring some gorgeous cover art by Becky Suss) is available HERE from Thrill Jockey for preorder.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Above is a sneak peek at the new series of Splotch Monsters I've been creating for my upcoming show at Off-Rhode Studio in Washington, DC this September. Not exactly the Brady Bunch, I know! While the tentative title for the show is New Mythologies, these are from a set of ten 9" x 12" pieces to be in the show, called Conversation Pieces, mainly because all of them are in some way, having a conversation with each other, in pairs. So, you're only getting a brief glimpse at four (of the ten pieces), which would include eight Splotch Monsters altogether, eventually ending with twenty, when completed. As with all the works in this series, it's mostly up to the viewer what conversation it is they're having.
Getting into the drawing portion of the pieces was the hardest part. I sometimes get so attached to the initial outcome of the more abstract-looking Splotch Forms (paint splotches) that it can be very difficult to move on to the next phase, which is adding faces, limbs, hair, etc. In one way, this subtracts from the initial subtlety of the forms, which is one reason why I like to scan them first, and have some visual record of them. On the other hand, adding these things and creating this more literal element is a great challenge, and I honestly don't mind them being more accessible for this very reason. Perhaps, so many years down the road from now these will evolve into something more abstract and sublime, something more subtle and cerebral, "spiritual" even. Or, maybe they won't. Either route is fine, and I'm just focusing on what I feel is best for me to make right now.
Monday, July 14, 2014
As a public school teacher, I look forward to summertime, especially towards the end of the school year. Summertime means sleeping in, relaxing, and doing the things I normally don't have much time and energy for during the school year. The reality is, I can get lazy, or at least lazier than I want to get, and I tend to feel bad about it. I feel like I could and should be doing more, but I'm too sluggish. Maybe that can be attributed to the heat, and so far the summer of 2014 has been a hot one, though I'm looking forward to the cool front they're calling for later this week. Maybe I simply need to be lazy and learn how to relax more. I guess I'm kind of a restless soul when it comes to doing the things I want to do - the things I wish I had more time for. I tried relaxing under a new umbrella we bought for our backyard porch, but after about five minutes of attempting to calmly sip my morning coffee (which I really shouldn't have to drink in the summer), I was up out of my seat and looking around at things. A fallen leaf on the porch had caught my eye, or at least the way some water droplets from last night's rainfall looked on the leaf. This prompted me to search for a tiny macro lens that Kris had purchased online (at no more rack) for about fifty dollars last year. The lens comes in a set of three and can simply clip onto your i-phone when you want to get a good close-up shot of something. So, after finding the lens, I managed to get a decent shot of that leaf with the water droplets (very bottom image), which got me up and looking for other things to shoot using the lens. Now, the macro lens won't get you an instant winning pic, especially if you're like me and your hands get shaky from the caffeine in your coffee. So, after about a dozen attempts, I got one that was decent. That brought me to our little organic vegetable garden, where we're somewhat successfully managing to grow some tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, eggplant and unintended (and probably inedible) mushrooms. With about 2% power left on my phone, I was able to grab a few nice shots from the garden using the macro lens. How great it is to live in a time where you can take amazing close-up images with a tiny, hand-held phone! Still, how great it would also be to be able to enjoy some time relaxing without an electronic device at hand. I managed to go without Facebook, or any other kind of social media for a week, last week, and I loved it. As much as I enjoy and appreciate social media, going without it for a week was like a mind-detox/refresher. Maybe I should try it more often, and learn to make friends with summertime again, minus the gadgets and gizmos, just like (not so) old times.