Tuesday, May 31, 2011

sleeping beauty

7" x 5", watercolor and Pigma Micron pen on watercolor paper, 5/2011, made for the Illustration Friday topic "asleep"

Monday, May 30, 2011

instagram photo show

Technology is a curious thing. It can make things more difficult rather than simple. It can make us oblivious and ignorant instead of alive and aware. It's all in how we choose to use it, if we choose to. The emphasis is on choice. In this case, I chose to use the I-phone I finally broke down and bought after my Motorola Razor had been acting up for about a year.  I must admit, I really like it, especially some of the free applications, some of which I'll blog about in the near future. One I particularly enjoy is Instagram, a great, free photo app my wife turned me onto last week. Today, while walking home after dropping off the car to get some work done, I made good use of Instagram. I wanted to get home earlier and get some other work squared away on my day off, but got distracted by the sights and sounds outside. The majority of these photos were sent through an Instagram filter called Hefe, which seems to be my current favorite. I then sent each photo directly to my Flickr account, which only took a few seconds. Later I made a few twenty-second movies from my phone, at Brandon Park in Leesburg, VA, where most of these pics were taken. I hope to post those sometime soon at the ol' Bloggey. Anyhow, if you like the old photo aesthetic from the sixties and seventies, with a modern twist, I highly recommend downloading Instagram. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

fan kuan: travelers amid mountains and streams

Yesterday I posted about Dr. Wayne Dyer's work and philosophy regarding the Tao. This made me instantly think of my all-time favorite work of art, an ancient centuries-old scroll by Chinese landscape master Fan Kuan entitled "Travelers Amid Mountains and Streams".  I've been teaching a lesson based on this particular work to my students for the past decade, and one of my favorite parts of the lesson is when I invite some students to come up to the front of the room to find the travelers mentioned in the title. Before you click the Fan Kuan link, see if you can find them yourself in this magnificent piece. I made sure to upload an extra large image of the work so you can get a closer look. If you click on the Fan Kuan link here in this post, you'll find out why.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

dr. wayne dyer and the tao

Last night my wife and I finished watching Dr. Dyer's recent movie "The Shift", based on his book of the same title. I've been wanting to read the book and had no idea there was a film as well, which I was lucky to find at my local library. The movie itself was very good and took a unique approach to Dyer's philosophy with regard to the ego. If you haven't heard of Dr. Dyer and his work, basically he bases his teachings on the ancient spiritual text, the Tao Te Ching. In The Shift, Dyer explains how our ego is an illusion fabricated in our own minds, influenced by what we perceive as how we should be/live. The need to fit in, aquire more things, act or look a certain way derails us from who we truly are and what we truly need. He also talks about a hightened awareness in life, only attainable through introspection and time spent looking inward. Our society does not encourage this, and we see the damage done as a result, both on a personal and colossal level.

I'm fairly new to Dyer's work, my wife introducing me to him through the work of Louise Hay. Much of what I've heard and read by him so far has deeply resonated with me, and I can cite examples in life where I've experienced this "shift". This leads me to the creation of art, which is, in a small way exemplified in the film. I was telling my wife last night how in college, after a four-hour long, intensive class of observational drawing, or working on a sculpture, I'd walk out the studio doors and experience what could only be described as a heightened state of awareness. All objects, things, people, took on a more special presence - a higher significance perhaps. This also happens to me after hiking for a long time in the woods, or taking a long walk around town.

If you've never checked out the work of Dr. Dyer, now might be a good time. If you've never tried hiking, or creating, be it art, a favorite meal, taking photos all day, why not give it a try. I know I need to do this much more myself. I know that this is when I feel most alive. In the meantime, check out the brief excerpt above featuring Dyer discussing his own personal influences.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

seefeel: "more like space" & "spangle"

Seefeel, formed in London, 1992, are back after nearly a decade-and-a-half hiatus, with a new four-track EP from 2010 ("Faults" Warp Recordings) and their new self-titled 2011 full-length. While I'm enjoying their new material, I can't help comparing it to their early work, which I find far more engaging. Not to say the new stuff is bad - not even remotely. It's still Seefeel, for sure, but with a noisier, grittier sound, which can most likely be attributed to a couple of members gone, replaced by some new ones who have long contributed to the experimental music scene.  Seefeel have always been difficult to classify. They use guitars but sound like something entirely different. They employ vocals but would be appropriately classified as instrumental. Perhaps they simply exist in their own musical realm, caught somewhere between Eno and Slowdive. The two songs featured here are quite possibly my favorites from the band, including "More Like Space" (above) from their 1993 EP of the same name, and "Spangle", from the influential Artificial Intelligence compilation series on Warp (volume 2, 1994). Both tracks greatly remind me of warm summer evenings spent in the open air. If you like what you hear, I suggest checking out all of their material, as well as the excellent side projects from band members, including work under the titles Scala, Mark Van Hoen, Locust (NOT The Locust), Disjecta, Sneakster and Cliffordandcalix.

Friday, May 20, 2011

carpaccio guide to emerging illustrators, photographers & artists vol 5 is out

I got an e-mail this week from Atem Books telling me the new Carpaccio Guide Volume 5 is now out. I was pleasantly surprised to see they included some of my art again. I've got no idea what they used of mine, but I do know that the guide itself will be fabulous, based on receiving volume four a few months ago. Volume four is now sold out and I've got a feeling that five will soon as well. So, do yourself a favor and spring a few extra bucks to support great art and a wonderful independent publication. In the meantime I'll be buying mine and keeping my eyes peeled for the mail. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

splotch forms invade the tyee

I've got some Splotch Forms illustrating a series on the arts over at British Columbia news publication, The Tyee. It's an excellent series, so check it out when you get a moment!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I ended up going for the two for one deal this Illo Friday. I wanted to do an image of a baby animal trying to walk for last week's topic, "beginner".  In particular, a newborn giraffe was what I had in mind. Blogger was acting up last Thursday, and pressed for time I ended up not doing any drawing at all.  Then I saw this week's topic "safari" and was glad I could use my idea from last week as well. It's a quick drawing, done with a China marker on a brown paper bag on my lunch break. It's been a while since I've drawn on brown bag paper and I forgot how much I enjoyed it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

mighty robots, mighty vehicles

Before the Transformers there were Gobots. I remember getting my very first one at the local K-Mart - a gift from my mom for having a cavity-free visit to the dentist while in the fifth-grade. It was such a simple toy - you fold it and you get a train! It was a very sturdy, heavy little toy too, as were all the early Gobots and Transfromers toys. It was my brother however who beat me to the Gobot craze, getting one before it was even called a Gobot - a small robot who turned into one of those little Toyota vans, popular in the 80s, purchased at a novelty store at the mall. At first, Gobots were the coolest toys ever made, and when I saw the first Gobot commercial (posted above), I about lost my ten-year-old mind. Then came the Transformers about a year or so later, with much cooler packaging, more complex designs, rad names, and all-around better toys. Sadly, the Gobots were soon forgotten, and it didn't help that they had a pretty weak cartoon. Looking at today's toys however, makes me long for the simple, efficient, and perhaps brilliant design of those early Gobots, and it was nice treating myself to a couple after a visit to Pittsburgh's own vintage toy store, Groovy, a few weeks ago. One of them was the original train my mom bought me for my dental visit - my very first Gobot. I'm glad I grew up during a time when toys were still somewhat simple and left room for the imagination to roam free.

Monday, May 9, 2011

richard h. kirk: "freezone" + "clandestine transmission" , cabaret voltaire: "big funk"

Perhaps one man who doesn't get enough credit for his influence on the face of contemporary music is Cabaret Voltaire founding member Richard H. Kirk. I remember reading a review for his "Number of Magic" album years ago in a magazine, the critic calling Kirk the funkiest white man in music today.  Being the backbone of C.V.'s music since their early start as a post-punk outfit, later becoming one of the most influential industrial bands, it's easy to see why, as Kirk brought the funk no matter what the genre. C.V. would later explore acid house and ambient music before Kirk would go on to focus on a multitude of solo endeavors. Despite all of the music phases Cabaret Voltaire would go through, there was always a curious and perfect merging of African tribal and contemporary black musics with very euro-centric industrial and synth-laden soundscapes. None of this music sounded forced or seemed nearly as pretentious as it might look in writing. Richard explains how he and his band were influenced musically in the excellent documentary Synth Britiannia. In the meantime, the above tracks are from my favorite Richard H. Kirk release, 1994's "Virtual State", released on Warp. I listened to that album a lot during the summer of '95, and it still reminds me of summertime today. Below is a video for the track "Big Funk" from 1985, featuring Cabaret Voltaire exploring more of a pop sound while still keeping things on an experimental tip. Rumor has it the band will reform and tour again, but I'll believe it when I see it. Whatever the case, enjoy the tunes, and if no one's looking, cut some rug while you're at it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

"magic bullet #2" & free comic book day

Today's Free Comic Book Day, as is the first Saturday of May every year across the United States. So, there's still time left, if you haven't stopped by your local shop yet! In the meantime, Magic Bullet #2 is out - a super (and free!) comic newspaper mostly made up of work from artists in and around the DC/NOVA region. DC Conspiracy member Rafer Roberts worked hard to put this paper together and it looks awesome. I'm blown away by the quality of work by the artists in this paper! I'm also thankful to Rafer for getting some of my very own Splotch Monsters on a page in #2, as well as for his time and patience with getting them to look just right in black and white (was not an easy task). You can now find some copies at Phoenix Comics and Toys in Lansdowne, VA, again for free, while supplies last. For more on this fine publication, see the press release.

While I painted and drew the art, I also have to give lots of credit to my buddy Eric Scott, for letting me use his large format scanner, and during a busy time, my wife Kris for the final touches in photoshop, to Evan Keeling for kindly bringing me a bunch of copies last night, to distribute, and to Mr. Matt Dembicki for telling me about the comic in the first place.

I made sure to leave one paint splotch (or as I call them, Splotch Forms) blank for Metro commuters, or anyone else to draw on!

Thanks to the excellent Phoenix Comics and Toys in Lansdowne, VA for carrying the paper. Hopefully folks will enjoy it and be inspired to do some of their own comics and art. 

Finally, may the force be with you. ;)

"we are monsters!" opening night at pleasant plains studios, washington d.c.

Kris and I took a little trip out to our nation's capital to drop by the "We Are Monsters!" opening night at Pleasant Plains Workshop, Friday evening. Of course a night on the town was not complete without a stroll in my Lamborghini, funded entirely by Splotch Monster sales.

When we got there, the weather was looking pretty ominous, with frightening lightening and dark skies. This didn't stop the place from packing it in, which was a very good thing.

The window front of P.P.W. featured a great trio of monster sculptures, made just for the show.

Anthony Dihle (the happy fella with the glasses and drink in hand), who helps run the studio curated the show, featuring 21 local artists. It was a real pleasure to be asked to be a part of this fantastic show, which runs until June 4, 2011.

Once again, the place was jam-packed.

Love these collages!

I really dug the drawings too - I'm a real sucker for black ink on paper works.

Sweet triptych!

I really enjoyed the wide range of artistic styles and formats going on in the show.

This little fella (above) was real charming - one of my favorite pieces of the night.

Cool little sculpture doll!

It was real nice to see some people interested in some of my work, which included nine Splotch Monsters and one Godzilla drawing. I also have a Moleskine book of Splotch Monsters on display for folks to leaf through at the back of the gallery. 

It was even nicer to see a couple of my works sell pretty quickly! Thanks! :)

DC Conspirator Evan Keeling had a couple of wicked works (above) at the show as well. 

There was something for everyone at the show.

The photo above was perhaps the most unique and nightmare-inducing piece of all. Awesome!

Thanks to Anthony and the Pleasant Plains Workshop crew, and to all the artists and folks who showed up and supported the art. If you're in DC, don't miss this show!

Goodnight and sleep tight yo (driving back home in the 'Ghini of course).