Thursday, March 31, 2011

five from march

Man, I'm so happy March is just about over and done with.  I'm so sick of the cold and crappy weather these days.  It seems like Winter was one bad, long drawn-out extended remix.  A little bit of sun and warmth is all I want right now. That and a much-needed Spring Break. The weekend will do for now though. In the meantime, I haven't posted many Splotch Monsters like I used to, and they've been about the closest thing I've done to art recently, due to other obligations.  I feel like I'll be getting back on track again art-wise though, so I'm not going to sweat it. Above, I posted five favorites from March, like I used to do every month at this blog.  I've got some cool little plans for these guys too, but I'm waiting to pursue them when I've got a bit more time on my hands.  In the meantime, sayonara March!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

glasser: "apply" & "treasury of we"

OK, don't tell my wife, but I've got a mad crush on this Glasser gal, real name Cameron Mesirow. Seriously, how could I not? She has a marvelous voice, she makes wicked experimental electronic music that's somehow catchy and pop, yet makes the brain dance too. Plus, she's got it goin' on, in that cool, ethereal artsy girl style.  Oh, and she's American (for once!).  If I would have heard her debut album "Ring" in 2010, it would have easily made my top ten list, possibly knocking out the School of Seven Bells LP, which her sound is somewhat comparable too. There are also traces of Cocteau Twins and Morgan Kibby's  vocals on M83's "Saturday's = Youth". In the meantime, there's a real good review of the album HERE, if you want the lowdown broke down.

Monday, March 28, 2011

new lands

Actually, it's a great macro shot Kris took of our attempt at growing a little garden.  We've got some herbs and vegetables on the way (hopefully). Anyhow, I might have to Photoshop a Splotch Monster into this photo one day - it just looks so alien. In the meantime, my wife's got a new lil' blog of her own, and HERE she posted some about the early stages of our garden. Check it out when you can and wish us luck!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

cultivate empathy

What's the role of an artist? I guess it depends on who you ask. For some it's telling stories through pictures. Others attempt to shock, just for the sake of it. Some attempt to make us think more about ourselves and our world. I'm not sure what mine is in particular, and on some days I doubt my own credibility as an artist, which is in the end, a bunch of negative self-talk. When I am making art, I usually tend to gravitate towards a cultivation of empathy, usually pertaining to living things that aren't human. This isn't because I don't value empathy towards humankind. Rather, it is my belief that if we care for even the seemingly most insignificant forms of life on our planet, struggling to get by just like us, then we begin to set in motion a positive domino effect. I'll probably post more about this later here soon. In the meantime, the image above was drawn on the front and back cover of a Moleskine sketchbook, showing one of the world's most endangered animals, the Javan Rhino. Last month I was contacted by Moleskine to be a part of a pilot group of artists to launch a new marketplace for customized Moleskine notebooks, and today is the first day the official site went up.  So far I only have one item for sale there, but plan on getting some more work up there soon, when the school-related work dies down a little more next month.  Check it out when you can, and maybe you might want to consider selling some of your own work there as well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

screen vinyl image: "fever" & "cathode ray"

I've been in the mood for some Screen Vinyl Image lately, probably because it was around this time, a couple of years ago when I first saw and heard this DC band play live. It was the first time I heard them at all really, and I became an instant fan. It's really hard to pinpoint what type of rock they play, though it's far more moving, and interesting than what's on the radio. I, personally would classify them as "post-punk", kind of along the lines of early Killing Joke or Public Image Ltd. Then there's a touch of Goth going on - real (good) goth rock, like the sound of Bauhaus or Clan of Xymox. Throw in a dash of shoegaze for good measure, and you've got something close. Their full length album "Interceptors" was excellent, from beginning to end, and really should be big right now, if all was right in the world. But we know how that goes. Anyhow, good news is SVI have got a new single and are touring again. They'll be at Galaxy Hut in DC on April 4, which is on a Monday unfortunately. Who knows, you might see me there despite it being a Monday night, after all the crazy work I've been doing this past month in the name of furthering my education. I could use a good show - it's been a while. In the meantime, enjoy these two vids featuring songs from their Interceptors album, including my favorite, "Cathode Ray", which needs to be listened to with the volume cranked high.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

in defense of teachers

I've seen this little promo vid floating around on quite a few art blogs and sites lately, and I thought I'd post it up here as well, since I too am a teacher, and have been for a good portion of my life. I don't post about it much at the blog, but sometimes I think it wouldn't hurt to give folks some perspective and see where we're coming from.

When I was younger, from grade school on up through high school, I was always drawing, and showing my peers how to draw things. I wanted to do something with art in college, and ended up taking the art teacher route.  There are days when I absolutely love my job, and there are times I wish I could be alone, working on my own art for eight hours straight while listening to some good music and sipping some good tea.  I tell people that choosing teaching was good for me, 'cause I know I'd probably be a hermit with a long, scruffy beard and no social skills whatsoever, not that there's anything wrong with that, if that's your thing. Teaching brought me out of my shell (and my nickname in college, thanks to friends, was "turtle boy" for good reason).

One thing that sometimes makes me laugh out loud, and sometimes irks the bleep outta me is when someone says "teachers get paid too much, especially for having summers off".  It's rare to hear this (my wife jokes with me about marrying me for the money) but it does happen.  The first thing I think is wow, that person has not a single clue. The second thing I think is OK then smarty pants, you take a walk in my shoes for a week and see how you feel by three-o-clock on a Friday afternoon.  Better yet, I'll give you a day. I bet you wouldn't last. I'll bet you couldn't. You see, with teaching, at least with elementary art you play the role of not only educator, but disciplinarian, babysitter (yes, there are children who can and do, above the age of five, and sometimes close to seventeen, absolutely act like babies, and often), psychotherapist, custodian, comedian, entertainer, you get the picture. I'm not whining and in no way would I want anyone to feel sorry for me, but that's the truth - ask any one of us.  I'm not asking for extra money either, if you think that's what I might be getting at here, though I wouldn't complain if we got a little extra. That might explain why I teach after-school programs four times a week in addition to teaching summer classes every year as well.  This is in addition to the many extra hours I spend after school at meetings, hanging up work at school and elsewhere, and on Sunday afternoons, preparing for the week ahead, without pay, while still feeling behind on all things school-related. Again, I'm not complaining - just stating my case and giving you a little glimpse into my world. Some teachers I know have the luxury of being married to a wealthy spouse who is the breadwinner of the house.  Since I'm the main source of income at my home, we don't/can't live in a house, which is, in many ways, alright by me.  At least not at the present moment, and not around Northern Virginia. The great thing is, teaching can be an adventure every single day, and there are many moments that make you want to jump with joy, and there are times you just want to curl up into a fetal position and vanish, and while we might not be on top of things 100% every single day, many of us do the very best we can. Sure there are those who are pretty bad teachers who hate their jobs and don't care, but you will find that in every profession unfortunately. Some are downright awful, and I remember quite a few when I was young, and I'm sure you do too. So, nobody should ever generalize because it's usually the ones who like to flap their yaps the most who know the least, I've discovered.  Anyhow, if you see a teacher, thank them (and there are a lot of good people who do thank us, which I'm very thankful for), or at the very least, make an effort to refrain from saying we get paid too much ("especially for getting those summers off!").  Seriously, that does nobody any good. In the meantime, check out the promo above for a very thought-provoking documentary I saw called "Waiting For Superman".  The animation by Sol Linero is great, and the story above is something I think most teachers should aspire to.

Friday, March 18, 2011

auburn lull: "broken heroes"

I've been listening a lot to Auburn Lull's "Begin Civil Twilight" ( 2008, Darla) CD these past couple of weeks.  It's easy to compare this Michigan-based shoegaze band to great groups like Slowdive, however, they take their genre in new directions, and in many cases, I like Auburn Lull's music even more, which is no easy feat. "Begin Civil Twilight" might just be one of my all time top ten favorite albums now, and it was an album that grew on me gradually. A song I keep returning to is the song above, "Broken Heroes", and I somehow can't help listening to it without thinking of the tragedy unfolding in Japan right now.  My problems seem so incredibly trivial right now, I simply cannot fathom what these people are going through. My heart goes out to them and somehow I'm optimistic that Japan will find a way to rise again from this awful disaster.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

stir buggy, stir

Here's a little exercise I do with my students in an after-school program class I teach called Art Monsters. They're called "scribble critters". The concept basically involves turning a line doodle or a scribble into a critter - that simple! This one's stirring up some coffee before a long day of mischief and minor mayhem. Thanks once again to odosketch for providing half the fun!

Monday, March 14, 2011

carpoaccio magazine, issue 24: "imaginary friends" is out

The latest issue of Carpaccio Magazine, Issue #24 is out today, and it's filled with some insanely good imagery from all over the place. I'm pleased to say, they chose a couple of my recent Splotch Monsters for this one, who you'll find lurking around the back of the issue somewhere. Check this ace mag out and get inspired! 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

from spain with love

From Spain arrived a beautiful little package in my mailbox yesterday. It was The Carpaccio Guide to Emerging Illustrators, Photographers and Artists Volume 4, from Atem Books. Inside was a ton of dazzling images and works from artists across the globe, including four of my own pieces. Once again, that turtle and those birds sure have been making the rounds! I'm very impressed with the quality of the book and the work inside, including some very good, insightful interviews with artists, photographers and illustrators. I'm also very happy to have been chosen to be a part of this excellent publication. Thanks to the good people at Atem Books and to all the amazing creative individuals who made this little book happen. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

wolf's warning

Kris showed me this way cool site called odosketch, where you can sketch right there online. Since I don't have a digital stylus pen right now, sketching with my touchpad was kind of awkward, kind of like using an Etch-a-sketch, but it was a good challenge. Being pressed for time made me sketch this out as quickly as possible too, and you can see the process right there. Try it out for yourself in the meantime!

Monday, March 7, 2011

ulrich schnauss, auburn lull, and screen vinyl image : "live improv jam in baltimore" & ulrich schnauss: "monday paracetamol"

I really need more music by German electronic music man Ulrich Schnauss, who specializes in sweet sprawling, textured shoegaze-inspired instrumentals. Above is a dream-come-true merging of awesome forces, including Schnauss, DC's own excellent post punk rockers Screen Vinyl Image, and modern shoegaze masters Auburn Lull, all performing a live jam together in Baltimore a few years back. What I would do to have been there in person. It takes me back to so many great shows I saw in Pittsburgh back in the late nineties at the now gone Millvale Industrial Theater. Below is another fine track by Mr. Schnauss, accompanied by some wonderful wildlife photography. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

russell simmons on a vegan diet, etc.

Kris showed me some short interviews with Russell Simmons on You Tube that gave me a whole new level of respect for the guy, especially this one here. I'm not into mainstream hip hop, but you've got to give a self-made man like Simmons props.

I'm not 100% vegan, or even 50% for that matter, but I'd like to make more of an effort. I'm sure he, like a lot of vegans get the "why?" thrown at them a lot, and not always in the most respectful tone. The same goes for folks who decide to no longer watch TV, or decide to donate a bunch of their belongings they no longer need or use, or downsize to a smaller home. I say, why wouldn't you? What are you afraid of and perhaps even more so, who are you afraid of with regards to what they think? Myself and my wife have been slowly and steadily making small, positive adjustments to our own lives that might not sit well with what the so-called norm dictates, and I only wish I would have thought of these things at least a decade earlier. I'm seeing a small but growing revolution in thought and action happening all around, and folks like Simmons can be seen as elder statesmen (no offense to his age). It's not about achieving perfection, which is not remotely possible, because there is no such thing and there never will be. It's about erasing all the noise, eliminating the extraneous bullsh*t, being honest with yourself, and taking small steps. I hate terms like "new age" or labels like "vegan", personally. I'd like to see it as simply positive change.

I especially like Simmons' simple and clear answer to the "why?" question here. This was filmed in 2008, and while I was all about Obama then (who Simmons talks about), I'm not too sure about him anymore today, especially with his recent approval of more genetically modified produce, which runs counter to any small amount of progress natural and organic farmers have worked so hard to make. There's a more invisible war going on right here on our nation's produce farms, and the world's farms for that matter, and that was the straw that broke the camel's back for me.

Alright, enough rambling. Just check out the interview for yourself and formulate your own opinions.

Friday, March 4, 2011

proswell: "jupiter"

It always makes me happy to hear people making beautiful music, like that of Proswell's, real name Joe Misra. Seriously, so many people are into so much forgettable crap, either still listening to Lady Gaga (next!), boy bands disguised as deep, cool dude rockers (yaaaaaawn), or even worse, Eminem (played out punk, Sage Francis can still rap rings around his sour little puss). Sorry to get on a bit of a negative tip, but it can be disheartening sometimes. Proswell's "Bruxist Frog" was one of my top albums from a few years back, and the track "Jupiter" is one of the best songs on that album. Just listen when it gets to about 2:17. If that don't make your heart swell, you might just wanna get that ticker checked. Joe was going through an extremely difficult time during the recording of what would be the very last release on the now defunct, always awesome Merck Recordings label. It's baffling, yet makes perfect sense to hear sounds so gorgeous produced from such a troubled state of mind. Fortunately, Proswell's still making and releasing music, though it might be a challenge to eclipse tracks like the one featured above. Long live Proswell!

Thursday, March 3, 2011


*4" x 4" watercolor and Pigma micron pen on watercolor paper, made for the Illustration Friday topic "swarm", 3/2011