Category Archives: Articles on travel

Travel articles including trips where art is a large focus. Food, travel and general interests including food reviews.

What’s so great about poetry? What’s so bad about poetry?

I almost hate the word poem or poetry because of the stigma it has taken on. People who don’t get it seem to think it’s some foreign, incoherent rambling of words for the sake of being artsy and creative. I think we are force fed poetry in high school and choke on words we don’t only not understand but at that stage don’t particularly want to understand. I have written all of my life-since I was ten and when you tell someone about poetry you can almost see their eyes glaze over. It’s some foreign overly artsy intense thing that makes most people who don’t care about it think your some kind of babbling foul.

I would prefer to call poetry-a verbal snapshot of life. It captures a description of intangible elements of some ones life and creates a tapestry of colors only through words. It would not make sense to speak in poetic terms in prose because there are too many elements that blur together and support each others processes. Another aspect of poetry for me is that it touches parts of the brain that aren’t normally accessed. You will be speaking about a feeling and describe it with words that people can relate to-for example-depression; the great steel vice that crushes us or the black chasm that always looms above us, a language is created that isn’t so much the sum of simply words but the sum of multiple feelings that people address with words. This way the poem starts out from the writer as their experience but when it is read, the reader injects their own feelings from the experiences they equate with the words chosen.

In a more self motivated process, I learn about myself and others every time I write because it is not the standard way of relating. From the subconscious, decisions and opinions are formed and reworked in every poem which grows the breadth of understanding of people, nature and that all encompassing theme of death. I see the world and people from various different perspectives from a subconscious bent and every time I write I learn more.

I believe if it was not for writing my coping mechanisms would definitely have been tested as poetry is a release valve that contains all of the fears, hopes, happiness and sadness. It filters the feelings and allows them to be processed first in subconscious and than to the conscious. I am working on a book on dealing with depression and living through the process and writing has helped a lot in getting through it. It tends to be the vehicle for writing as well as an illness that is alleviated through writing.

So when they glaze over when you mention poetry, lose the word-it is not poetry it is a word snapshot.
A language that transcends feeling, words and life, a way the inside speaks to the outside-okay I’m getting artsy now.

Community-it’s where we began and where we’re going

Community is something that is innate in our culture. With the rise of the web and the increasing state of anonymity the web offers, we have grown further away from our natural propensity. Community used to be the neighborhood, where people would raise their children, live their lives and die in the same neighborhood where they were raised. Newspapers were necessary to bring us just a glimpse of the world outside the microcosm of the community. Now with a trend of job hopping and the transient nature of people today we tend to not have the roots in a given neighborhood, news isn’t just available-we are bombarded by multiple mediums on a daily basis and the community has become a global phenomenon where no one knows everyone but we all know small aspects of everyone’s life depending on personal interests and business priorities shared across a global scale.

How do we get to know this community when it tends to be overwhelming and how do we get to know customers without bombarding them with the same advertising we have all come to loathe? A community which we see at a coffee shop has become the atrophied muscle-we know it’s integral to our nature but we’re not quite sure how. When people go to a coffee shop where we all should socialize we use our laptops and cell phones that become a way to avoid social contact. Customers and people in general like to be seen as people not numbers and the state of our electronic age has calloused much of our reflex to talk with each other but the underlying need still persists. Customers need to know that the business isn’t selling to them, people we connect with on the web need to know that there is a connection and their needs and interest mean more than a name on a database or information for future advertising.

The act of creating a community does not create a store front, it creates a place where people can connect with like people with similar interests that can together find a common need that might bring them to a storefront when the need arises. Brand awareness and mind share is what the purpose of the connection and not just the traditional sharing of marketing information as previously intended. An awareness grows that will slowly spread to others with similar interests-now we have a neighborhood that has grown to include strangers that might not even know us by our appearance but knows our interests and trusts our opinion. This trust is not something that can be created quickly nor faked through advertising campaigns that seek to capture the name and info and ignore the needs and interests of the customer.

I have recently created a website, what I have learned in the process is that first you send out the word about what is new and at first, friends will show interest but the interest is short term and quickly the response lingers to glances and an ocasional like. What creates the buzz is the constant flow of new information and activity but also through the engaging of multiple people who have the same interests.
What starts out with minor interest slowly becomes one person sending an article to another person or posting something on their website-the name and recognition of the information slowly markets itself.

A community can’t be faked, it is as honest and natural as the neighborhood. We all desire to be connected and we all strive to be heard-todays’ electronic neighborhood enlarges the scope of our community but the same rules of being genuine, honest and straightforward hasn’t changed-no one likes to be sold or advertised to-we want to belong to a group that we can trust and feel our interests are a priority-welcome to the neighborhood.

Getting Back to Painting

I have had a rather long break from any kind of painting, yet I have been teaching and have been learning more about my subject matter and painting. The strange process of getting back to painting is the fact that all of the ideas and images stay somewhat intact in the mind and the inspiration although often a bit changed keeps its initial interest.

I have just sketched two paintings out that have been on my list and sketched out for the last fifteen years and suddenly I know how to sketch them and have an image that is clearer than ever before. I believe the initial inspiration begins with an image but the skills and processes might not be up to the challenge. The image sits in somewhat of a holding pattern until the skills can catch up with the inspiration. I am painting urban scenes which I have never taken further than an initial stage. I am in the process of doing quick figurative sketches in pastels-they will be finished images that will be a basis for the larger oil if warranted. I also plan on painting landscapes from my trip. I believe the pastel sketch will open the door and work out the problems that might be originally awkward, in the past I would have painted a painting and worked through the problems on the canvas. I hope with this technique I will be less overworked and the viewer will have a starting place as well as several versions of the same scene.

I have always been a night and water artist but now I am combining them. I am in the process of sketching out rain scenes where the water is reflecting rich evening lights and am also including figures in the painting as well. It is a strange feeling when a totally different style and process creates itself and a new artistic outlook is explored, which brings me to the reason for the long hiatus.

I think the artist had preconceived notions of his or her own work and when the inspiration or approach strays from the original before the skills are up to the task, the logical and creative side fight each other. Instead of the fast and furious painting that usually occurs in the process of painting the inspiration and the image tend to fight each other. The same process I had when I learned from an artistic mentor, suddenly instead of painting by reflex I was thinking of every process and the process was slowed until the mind can put the two new process together naturally. I believe painting and  creativity are reflex actions and if you have to think about what you are painting some of the magic is lost. My zone begins when I don’t even remember what I have written or my hand moves across the canvas as if it knows what it needs to do. My eyes and my mind don’t even control or maintain the process. There are no questions in this zone and the painting pretty much paints itself.

I have sketched out two new paintings today and am well into another night scene that I started earlier in the week. When I start back to painting it usually becomes a fast and furious process almost to make up for lost time. I am excited about this series and will continue to blog as the series progresses.

Some lessons are better taught in real life. I have always lectured my son on every aspect of dealing with crisis, my biggest rule which came from learning to scuba dive is never to panic. Once you panic you lose all logic and one small mistake becomes many larger blunders.

A wonderful day on the road, we ended up later in the afternoon than we planned at the bottom of the lower falls in Yosemite National Park, our only disappointment was not being able to walk the six hour round trip hike to the upper falls. We had just sat and watched a herd of mule deer start their spring ritual of courtship. Both of us had that feeling like it doesn’t get much better than this. After aborting the idea of the six hour hike we climbed the rocks at the lower falls-I stressed myself concerned about him falling off the rocks and once he disappeared behind the rocks he could tell I was not happy and starting to feel that uncomfortable distance between us.

It was time to get on the road, we were driving to an amazing place in Inyo National Forest-a cabin, the high sierras in the back yard, privacy and a new place to hike and maybe even fish. We started out just about dusk, again, it was later than I would have preferred to leave. My son is great at navigation and with his new Iphone he really took over the task. I had forgotten to tell him that the eastern pass was closed for the season-my first mistake. We began driving and noticed some of the terrain was familiar-not the direction we were supposed to be going so after fifteen minutes of navigating through the winding mountain roads it was time to turn around. More time had passed and now I was getting increasingly uncomfortable as the light was getting dim.

I was driving over hills and around caverns and realized that we were getting higher into the mountains. I was not comfortable as with the altitude the presence of snow and ice was increasing. I was sure some ranger had forgotten to close the gate for the season and was at that very time closing us off in the treacherous mountain pass without chains. I had visions of us spending our vacation stuck in some remote road hoping some one would find us. The more snow I saw the more uncomfortable it was getting and the quieter him and I became. There is a silence that suddenly grows between you and you can feel the tension growing as the light dims and the roads get icier.

One problem with being out in the middle of the mountains was a lack of service so as we were navigating with his phone we were getting to realize we had no idea where we were or where we were headed as the signs got less common as we continued deeper into the mountain range. We were both starting to snap at each other as our fatigue grew and the tension increased to a fever pitch. After driving for the last thirty minutes we had decided by looking at a map we could barely read we were heading the wrong way. It was actually a Godsent as if we had ended up in the right direction we would have been heading for the pass that was closed.

Suddenly to bring all of the tension and the confusion to a final pinnacle, enter two deer. Both deer came out of nowhere and in slow motion-I veered to the left and they veered to the right. It was one of those rare moments when man and mother nature enjoyed mutual cooperation. I think I was much more in panic than the deer and I felt that having avoided a major hazard that could have changed our whole vacation it was time to stop and regroup.

I slowed down, instead of going back the other way, we decided to keep going to the nearest town and after hopefully getting some service and finding the charger for his now almost dead phone we would eat and regroup. In an instance, I was doing as I had always preached, instead of reacting and continuing to get more and more tense, we slowed down and methodically made good decisions that would make a bad situation better. We ate really good pizza in a small restraunt, had coffee for the long night ahead and got a grasp on the situation. Because of the closed passes we would have to drive six hours to get to where we needed to go, around a mountain range and through a state forest.

I made the best decision I could make for the situation-find the nearest hotel, relax, eat and get a good night sleep. So I paid for a cabin six hours away and one of the more expensive hotels but it was so worth it. We ended up experiencing a wonderful night sleep in a circa 1800 gold rush hotel, having a wonderful breakfast and living to drive another day. Several things we learned-in a trip through the mountains don’t take passes for granted-they close during the winter months. Be flexible and have a secondary plan, If your going to nearly hit deer make sure they are cooperative deer that don’t panic and the biggest rule of all is don’t panic.

It’s all in the details you don’t see-those are the details that make an effective painting

We had a second class for the the next painting and the flow was quick and really enjoyable.
Our first process was to create zones out of the image-several areas of the painting were envisioned
as geometric shapes that were created and approached as separate colors and textures. The painting as I mentioned in the last post is a painting of a single leaf on water. There is not much as far as details to create, in the previous painting we could capture a region of the painting with detail and connect the areas of detail, in this painting the simplicity and subtlety of the image forces you to keep the transparency fresh and light and to capture the effect by the layers of each area we create.

The first task was to create a layer of soft blue sky which was not like the blue green of the water. Next was to put a dark line to denote where the bubbles of water were, this area created a definite division of value and contrast and allowed the viewer to see the sky above as a distance. The lack of detail forces you to exaggerate comparison of detail so the viewers’ eyes have enough cue to know how far they are seeing into the painting.

Once we created the area of turbulence we blurred it into an area where the water turned more green and definite blue green lines created the movement, this again separated the turbulent area near the leaf from the depth of the water beneath it. This was the third zone and the layer to the left of the leaf was another area of bubbling water which interacted with the leaf.

The two areas that we are leaving alone are the leaf and the light above it- this last area of the painting will contrast strongly to the water around it and the light will glow because of the difference between it and what surrounds it. Again we are not painting the actual image, we are painting what reflects around the image and how the light reacts and the colors and contrast are affected by the comparison to the light and the leaf. After we are done with what the leaf is reflecting on and with we will further perfect the leaf and the light and either ratchet up the contrast or tone it down.

In the end complementary highlights will be weaved throughout the final image to lead the eye through the image and create the flow that make the leaf look like it’s floating. The idea of this post is how detail can be seen where there is no detail and created out of the lack of detail. The changes must be in hue, texture and contrast which creates the depth and interest a painting like this might lack because of it’s lack of detail. Next post will be about the subtlety of transparency and allowing the canvas to show through.

Another technique we did this time was smoothing of the paint with a paper towel instead of a brush, it softens up the image and allows the viewer not to be able to discern the difference as colors change. Another plus is the fact that the transparency is achieved by putting paint down and lifting most of it up-the canvas shows through and mimics the feeling of soft intangible light, something easily lost with using white which makes a more pasty feel.

This photograph is from Wallcoo.net and is a free wallpaper

Painting an Effect Instead of a Scene
Saturday was the first class of a new painting. It is a totally different process from the previous painting as this painting is very simple and low on details. This makes it hard to lose focus on the overall painting because you are in the process of working the whole painting at once and all the processes support the overall effect. The previous waterfall painting was all about detail and technique and it was easy to get lost in the details-teach a technique and an idea of how to quickly render an area and let the student take over the process.
This painting, because of its lack of detail and the subtlety of its effect demands light overlays of color, not a whole lot of paint piling up and an intricate weaving of light and hue to capture the focus of light, movement and hue. The main point of painting water is that you are not painting water-you are painting the sky, the landscape or anything that interacts with the water but the water because of its colorless characteristics can not be captured only by the movement and color of objects reacting with it.
Another problem with painting water and a simple image of a leaf on water is how do you explain the fact that their is water and that the leaf is not just plastered on a wall flat like it is envisioned. The  image needs visual cues to explain to the viewer what they are seeing, visual cues that are assumed and felt because of the fact that we know by watching water that the leaf is on water and we hear the water and know that the leaf is on water. In a painting there are no sensual cues to explain there is water so unless you can explain to the viewer how the leaf rests on water and that there is depth before and behind the leaf the image is a flat leaf on a two dimensional plain.
We have to notice changes in detail, contrast and color, without the changes the eye has no concept of what it is seeing and the photograph from which the rendering came from has successfully captured a three dimensional image and rendered it as a flat, evenly contrasting image. As artists we need to exaggerate certain aspects of the image and clarify what the viewer is seeing.
So how hard is this to teach? For me it is even more like trying to explain the color you see on a regular basis to someone who has never seen color but even harder than that is without certain words like warm or cold. I would move paint around as I was constructing the original painting and as it worked or didn’t work I would adjust and refine my rendering of the painting depending on the process. In teaching you have to reach and move paint without being able to rely on the idea that this is an experiment, there needs to be clarity with a student and you need to show the way when your way at times seems somewhat cryptic.
We moved paint around the leaf and continued to refine the image-If I say refine to her one more time she’s going to shoot me, but just as in the other more detailed painting the process begins with refining where light is, where the leaf falls in your plane of vision and how the contrast and color changes throughout the painting. As the textures and the colors form and push each other into the position on the plane the image will create itself almost like a puzzle that becomes only with the relation to its parts and how each appear. So just like not painting water, we are painting the way the sky looks and how the leaf looks and in the end we will have how the water was affected by the leaf and the sky.
I will continue to comment on the steps to getting there and have a final video of the class in the end when the final puzzle creates itself. Thanks for reading and stay tuned.

Painting an Effect Instead of a Scene

Saturday was the first class of a new painting. It is a totally different process from the previous painting as this painting is very simple and low on details. This makes it hard to lose focus on the overall painting because you are in the process of working the whole painting at once and all the processes support the overall effect. The previous waterfall painting was all about detail and technique and it was easy to get lost in the details-teach a technique and an idea of how to quickly render an area and let the student take over the process.

This painting, because of its lack of detail and the subtlety of its effect demands light overlays of color, not a whole lot of paint piling up and an intricate weaving of light and hue to capture the focus of light, movement and hue. The main point of painting water is that you are not painting water-you are painting the sky, the landscape or anything that interacts with the water but the water because of its colorless characteristics can not be captured only by the movement and color of objects reacting with it.

Another problem with painting water and a simple image of a leaf on water is how do you explain the fact that their is water and that the leaf is not just plastered on a wall flat like it is envisioned. The  image needs visual cues to explain to the viewer what they are seeing, visual cues that are assumed and felt because of the fact that we know by watching water that the leaf is on water and we hear the water and know that the leaf is on water. In a painting there are no sensual cues to explain there is water so unless you can explain to the viewer how the leaf rests on water and that there is depth before and behind the leaf the image is a flat leaf on a two dimensional plain.

We have to notice changes in detail, contrast and color, without the changes the eye has no concept of what it is seeing and the photograph from which the rendering came from has successfully captured a three dimensional image and rendered it as a flat, evenly contrasting image. As artists we need to exaggerate certain aspects of the image and clarify what the viewer is seeing.

So how hard is this to teach? For me it is even more like trying to explain the color you see on a regular basis to someone who has never seen color but even harder than that is without certain words like warm or cold. I would move paint around as I was constructing the original painting and as it worked or didn’t work I would adjust and refine my rendering of the painting depending on the process. In teaching you have to reach and move paint without being able to rely on the idea that this is an experiment, there needs to be clarity with a student and you need to show the way when your way at times seems somewhat cryptic.

We moved paint around the leaf and continued to refine the image-If I say refine to her one more time she’s going to shoot me, but just as in the other more detailed painting the process begins with refining where light is, where the leaf falls in your plane of vision and how the contrast and color changes throughout the painting. As the textures and the colors form and push each other into the position on the plane the image will create itself almost like a puzzle that becomes only with the relation to its parts and how each appear. So just like not painting water, we are painting the way the sky looks and how the leaf looks and in the end we will have how the water was affected by the leaf and the sky.

I will continue to comment on the steps to getting there and have a final video of the class in the end when the final puzzle creates itself. Thanks for reading and stay tuned.

Places to Paint and the Places Painted from


I try not to be too abstract about art and the intricacies of inspiration and creativity but there are many intangibles that are hard to explain. I am a landscape painter-I paint places but the place from which I paint tends to be varied depending on mood and circumstance. The word place could better be described as tense as in writing or maybe even atmosphere. I  paint from states of being either extremely happy and feeling content or being somewhat dark and pensive. There definitely seems to be a need for extreme of mood when I paint because I rarely intend on painting a pretty landscape I more want the viewer to feel
cold or lonely, or the excitement of light and vibrancy of color so the landscape becomes a secondary backdrop to a state of being.

The most uncanny of this is in the past having painted a landscape which for all purposes was a simple landscape but having music in the background while painting caused the painting to have a somewhat dark uncomfortable  feeling-the music in the background was Hunters and Collectors-Scream and it touched on a darker more uncomfortable place in my mind and that’s what came out through the painting.

I am impressed with mystery and darkness. I think depression probably has also lent itself to the darkness in my paintings-I just sometimes don’t feel comfortable in my own skin and I often think that comes out in the painting. I want the viewer to walk down a road in the evening and feel that tension of fear but the enjoyment at the same time of that fear and uneasiness and that is probably why people like haunted houses-the fear takes them safely out of their comfort zone.

My writing is actually more dark and tends to be more of an open door for the uneasiness because it is unattached to a specific image which at times might be completely contradictory to the scope and ideas I convey. I like a landscape that you can enjoy the beauty and natural feeling while at the same time feeling that there was  a bit of tension and you don’t feel completely comfortable being there. I think one painter that has captured the idea that I express is Edward Hopper-his paintings are about dark places in city streets or in bars and there is a tension I just love.

I’ve included a pastel that is probably a bit more over the top than intended as far as the mood but the name is Halloween. It’s a perfect example-a wonderful family time out with the community and yet the underlying idea that there are goblins in the trees and ghosts abound. I’ve always loved that feeling and that’s what I tend to paint.

The second pastel is of blackbirds which is a recurring theme in my writing. The last image is of sunflowers-I thought it was a bit alarming of that one light in the evening on a silent house-begs the question who is staring out the window?

First mural painting





This is the first mural painting for a private home. It took just a week but the freedom 
of the whole wall and painting in a different medium was both exciting and a challenge.
It reminded me of when I used to work on large charcoals that I tacked across my wall-
the freedom was an enjoyable aspect of the creation. The difference between working
on my own painting across the wall and in someone’s home is the discipline that creating
a painting for someone else entails. The editing process was much longer as well as
the client had the freedom to adjust the image to how they envisioned.
I was glad to be able to do passionvines as I have painted many passionvines and have
actually collected several species that I have raised. This particular painting is of the Passiflora
Violacia which is a plant I had bought on the internet. The pot was created from different options
that the client preferred.