Friday, February 29, 2008


At first I was going to post an iris, another of the four gentlemen but as
I was scrolling through photos, this image caught my eye. 
A captive, a prisoner; I started to think about how we all become 
captives of our own self constructed realities.  While I love the digital 
world and believe that is where my creative muse lies; I am so
tuned to ink it brought me back to the brush. A prisoner of tradition.
I'm not sure how long this will last or if it should.  I think I just need
 a balance; perhaps a few days per week that contain brush and the 
remainder in digital.  Balance  

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I love painting bamboo.  It's my favorite subject for sumi-e, at least of all
the four gentlemen.  The background looks a little mottled.  I happened
to experiment with a paper I usually reserve for woodcut; Gampi 
off white, that I found through McClains. It seems to photograph
that way because of the buff character of the paper.  Sometimes I
know that I'm back on track with this water/ink art by the sound
of brush on paper.  There seems to be a sweet sound when the paper
is accepting of the brush.  When an artist gets into that sweet spot it 
really seems like the paper is drawing nourishment from the brush.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Plum Blossom

It's hard to shift gears.  I finally came up with two additional digital
prints to add to my Winter series.  I'll post these soon.  In the meantime
I've switched gears a bit.  I've been viewing Laura's watercolors
lately and realized I've been neglecting sumi-e.  Time to get back
 in the saddle; but not so easy.  The ink drawings are coming
with great difficulty after so little practice over the last several weeks.
The subjects I wanted to work on just weren't coming and most
attempts ended in the trash.  In desperation I decided to return
to the 'Four Gentlemen'.  These are four traditional subjects that 
contain the brush loading and strokes that are fundamental to
more complex compositions.  The four gentlemen are plant forms.
Orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum and plum blossom.  It is claimed that 
one can spend a lifetime on these forms.   The plants define the 
seasons. The orchid is spring, bamboo is summer, chrysanthemum
is fall, and plum blossom is winter.  I have finally fallen into working 
on plum blossoms.  First harbingers of spring.   

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Weaving the Universe

I was at the computer today and I heard a noise directly above me;
Karen's weaving room.  Probably a mouse.  I was struck by a work in 
progress.  Karen is working on some dish towels.  (she claims) I took
a few pictures of a work in progress.  I love this weaving aspect about 
my wife.  She has such a high pressure job in mental health, I'm glad
in the last several years she's found this again.  She's got a dark green
with a light sage going on the warp.  I suggested she blog about to 
her return to weaving again.  Her response was something like " My 
title will be 'I'm trying to do this to relax'  so why do I post Karen's
work?  I wonder if there is a universal impulse to make art.  I would 
say yes there is. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Winter Path

What am I to do?  As an artist you start each day with a plan
and then (if you're lucky) something else takes over.  I had
every intention that my next blog post would be an ink
work.  But, I have to confess, I haven't done sumi-e for
several weeks. I've been really focused in the digital 
realm. My attempts today are all in the trash. Certainly
not worth comment.  I'll save failures for another post.
So, in the end I went back to the computer and found another
winter image to work. Perhaps all my hesitant tendencies 
had evaporated by the ink work but I flew through a
creation in photoshop.  I printed it and I'm satisfied.
Great joy; I hate to spend the day chasing my tail.
The ink will have another round with me tomorrow.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Being present each day to follow your art is 
the most courageous thing many of us do each day.  Being 
self employed is frustrating at times; many people want to 
take your creative time.  I have to thank teri p for giving
me the gift of creating something on the fly.  Just to stay 
connected.  I found another "Winter " image to share. 

Saturday, February 16, 2008


On his deathbed Xiuhtecuhtil imagined the end of the
world.  Only 512 years in the future. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Weaving the Universe

Ixchel figurine, 600- 900 AD

Thanks for the positive feedback on Karen's weaving.  I think weaving
is a fundamental art.  Food, shelter clothing.  Weaving crosses cultures
as an art necessary for survival.  Fabric arts in general, go under the radar in 
the examination of a culture's art.  Both Karen and I have been 
influenced by Mayan women who have codified traditional religious
belief into their fabric.  Since the conquest, various aspects of their
belief systems evolved into geometric equivalent to prevent detection. 
An early protest movement, mounted by women, against an occupation.  
 There is a tradition in  Mayan studies that place the goddess Ixchel, not only 
a  moon/ fertility goddess, but as the  weaving goddess.  Weaving the fabric 
of the universe.   Color, structure and patience.  

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Karens' latest weaving is going to blow people away.   A wonderful collection of color 
and a difficult rep weave. A table runner. For Karen, I believe weaving is a survival art.
A type of art, that if you don't do it, your day job consumes you.  My wife has been in
the mental health field for way too many years.  Currently with the state; as opposed to 
non-profits, her life is a pressure cooker.  Plus she married an artist.  Her latest
work is her most ambitious in the last couple of years since we bought the loom.  I
think her journey to rediscover her inner artist brings something special to this
Valentines day. Plus I think she will finish soon so we can invite Teri P and 
family over.  

Some days we just need to do some maintenance.  In Teri's last comment
she mentioned that I should get busy framing my Winter series.  A perfect
excuse to invite my diabolic friend over for a meal and some wine.  I say diabolic
because I kept coming back to her latest art post and wanted to comment.  
I probably went to her site fifteen times trying to un-spool what she 
was getting at with the image and title.  Finally, I realize that once again 
she has hijacked me, for her own nefarious purpose; driving me crazy.  Good 
fun, I think I'll resort to some childless prank, like pasting her head on Dr. Evil.
So, I'm busy matting these three pieces today. I can't wait to see her face
when I hand her a glass of wine and it's beer.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Finally - I feel vindicated; my friend Teri suggested that I do  some
ten minute pix.  Some real pressure, don't over think, just bang out
 your best.  I have taken to heart in my attempt to produce three
pieces, based on some photos shot after an ice storm with some 
great light the next day.  Thanks Teri - I came up with a great 
series.  And yes I threw out about twenty failures.  Still, the lesson
remains and promise to abandon bad ideas and trust instinct. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Dogwood veins

My friend Teri has me on to something.  Musicians warm up, athletes
warm up.  When I wake up, finish the shower, walk the dog, check
out the paper to see if the world has ended, I need to get to work. If I need to work on art 
( or my woodworking business) I usually begin where I left off. 
 Teri suggests a warm up and I agree. I started off with one of her ideas yesterday 
with a ten minute creation, and guess what;  this was the best work I did today.

Monday, February 4, 2008

White pine

I'm not sure what is the most destructive thing artists do to sabotage their own work.
I usually work several pieces at any one time.  Having said that, sometimes I
end up down a dark alley, a dead end and still I don't want to wait for the 
inspiration that elicited the idea to return and guide me.  I press forward like a good worker bee and may settle for something because I'm just exhausted.  So it's a lack of patience.  Later on  I realize what I've done; I shortchanged something that just wasn't ready for birth.
  On the other hand, I have ideas that I procrastonate.  "The time isn't right", the little
 voice in my head intones. It usually means that I don't want to make the effort 
that the imagination is calling for.  I need to make the first step but I'm paralyzed.  I decided to share tonight a project that my friend Teri P suggested in one of her posts.  "Share something that you spend only ten minutes manipulating."  

Friday, February 1, 2008


Meeting Rusi

I've been re-working Rusi all this month.  I don't understand my motivation to 
return.  This is a piece that I haven't exhibited; although it hangs in my studio
for me to observe. I really should be working on some newer ideas I want to develop
 but this image seems to be a thorn in my side.  For some nagging reason I haven't gotten 
to the meat of the subject.  I've had a year to observe and 
think about it and finally decided the original didn't convey my evolving feelings 
for this traditional Thai puppet figure.  While I probably will continue to 
rework the image a bit more, this is where it is tonight.  I need more polish 
on the slightly visible words surrounding the person figure.  Possibly some 
Thai phrases surrounding Rusi.
Original Rusi (printed 11" x 50")

I orignally did this very long and extended version with self portraits tied in knots.  At the time I think my insertion into the Rusi myth  (hermit who knows everything about your character) conveyed a universal reaction.  Now in retrospect; those viewing a Nang performance could only bring their own unique identity; both positive and negative properties to judgement.   In my new version I simply meet with no judgements.  This is not the final version and while it seems strange to present works in progress, that is the nature of the blog.  Final version to hopefully come soon.