Category Archives: crisis

Artist on the Edge of Surreal: Exploring Darker Moments

Depression: An Emotional Storm

My intention has always been to create art that was realistic and once I attained a certain skill level I would just tweak reality, just enough to make the viewer a little off kilter.

It probably stems from years of depression which, although is part of the creative process, also makes the person feel off center. The paintings that approach surreal are a bit more dark but nothing too obvious.

Moonflower is a painting of the morning glories, moon flowers, which only bloom at night. I wanted to share a bit of the darkness and mystery of evening but I wanted the flowers to have a bit of a magical feeling to them.

The willow tree is a tree from my youth. It makes it into most of my paintings and is a bit of a symbol of time spent in New Jersey. The dark green lawn in the summer beneath the shadows of tall dark willow trees.

The same trees were struck by lightning and ended up becoming outdoor furniture where many of my very old poems were written on copied on.

The Grackles 2018

Blackbirds are a consistent subject in both my paintings and writing. They are mysterious as the night sky and symbolic of impending doom.

Halloween 2016

Alone in Wylie


Halloween 2016

Halloween has always been a subject as every year I see a different feeling to capture. I love the dark evening and the idea of goblins in the trees, I have always been a big fan of horror movies and my uncle used to buy my brother and I horror comic books and the feeling and thrill of being scared has continued through my writing and painting.

Child of Ten

Child of ten is a diary of sorts, my dad died when I was ten. This is a painting of the effects of losing a parent at the age of ten. There are many symbols including the egg which represents the soul. Again the blackbirds are in the field and the child watches the future unfold.

The death of my father was a catalyst for much of my earlier writing and has only recently shown up in paintings.

Grandfather’s Willow

This painting is from a dream when I was very young. My grandfather came out of a willow tree as the lightning hit the tree. The red flannel shirt is from the dream and I remembered the shattered bits of wood-I am planning on another attempt at this painting as the face wasn’t quite correct.

Many older painting ideas are now resurfacing as I begin to gain more confidence. I plan on creating a more concise series on the surreal side.

The Loneliness Project: Part 1

It is the absence of something, most of the time something we took for granted for a long time before we realize it’s gone. The swing settles in the family tree and only a random breeze will wake it from its slumber.

I remember the cool green grasses and clothes blowing across the long lines of rope making shapes and patterns like ghosts. I remember the simplicity of a great blue sky and a child’s mind full of opportunities.

There are so many times we fall off the swing, we skin our knees and assume that no one is coming with the clean washcloth or the gentle encouraging voice; we grow up. We become self-sufficient, we are taught to ignore the swing, the green grass and the great blue sky as if they were just childhood foolishness.

We barely realize they’re gone but the child inside us still yearns to stop, to seek comfort, to search with an explorers heart for wonders among the grass and secrets in the woods.

It is this loneliness, missing a child that always found time to play, to look up to the sky in search for something great. How I miss the swing and the tall willows throwing viridian shadows, I consciously aspire for my own resurrection.

The green lawn, the red and white shed before it was an eyesore, back when it had a purpose. We would have family dinners in the backyard, the kids would take orders and there was a barbecue fired up, it was summer.

I remember a large gathering of people, usually Easter, after church we’d sit outside. It was back before mosquitoes became the deadly creatures they are.

I remember plastic chairs and long white plastic table clothes, laughter and drama-it was a family gathering after all.

Now the family is scattered to multiple states. Many of the members I remember are dead, some still live near the same town but we are all separate.

I miss the bond of family, even if what I remember wouldn’t match reality. I”m sure there was more tension among them but I was young. I had the privilege to grow tired of having guests.

I would love to sit in my Aunt Ann’s kitchen listening to the old woman with stories and small talk. I would enjoy sitting in the living room with all the men watching sports and talking trash but time moves on and we don’t realize the connections or their significance in our lives.

The Precarious State of Loneliness

There are so many more like me…but we are all separate,

How uncomfortable it is, longing for contact

and yet unable to fathom its joy

To seek solitude while aching for connection

it’s the most difficult state as nothing seems to feel comfortable

time is slow and yet fast and random simultaneously

I have lived here

I have driven a long road, alone, missing others

and yet insistent on my own solitude

is it the soul’s nature of knowing its own state

but curious for another?

Fear keeps us

separate.

Awkward we are souls in transition.

I forced my way through loneliness

until I grew comfortable with myself

it was only then that I could fathom

interaction

and it’s joyful conclusion…

The colors of humanity

ebb and flow just like the seasons

but they are to be shared

not squandered

our voices are like the fleeting colors of autumn

how they linger among the tangled limbs

to grow as a wonderfully colorful

landscape

they become stories among grasses

ghosts in the shadows

until they settle on stones

and sleep like whispers…

we were never meant to be alone

we are all notes in a beautiful song

so when did we stop singing?









Fear of the Canvas

florida_intercoastal

I’ve just realized why I have been avoiding painting recently, not really avoiding it but just having a harder time settling down. Many of the works have been in progress for quite a while so getting back to them is often like picking up a strangers painting.

The amazing point is when suddenly you stop thinking about what you need to do and just start slashing at the canvas with purpose. There are unseen shapes and connections of shapes that come out of the surface of the paint and you fill in the blanks instinctively.

A stumbling block is the fear, especially when you like what you’ve started but there is no room for timid strokes in painting or anything else creative. Once you stop and think or attempt the safe way you might as well save painting for later.

Painting should be bold, excited and even a bit reckless. My thought is every painting is a potential mistake that will never see the light of day. This is the time you learn the most, when you are free to forcefully and confidently paint without fear of failure.

One particular technique that takes a lot of time going back and forth is the light on water, it starts out overly dramatic and slowly becomes more realistic. There are points where the light seems right, others when there seems to be a bump in the horizon and you have confidently fix the problems and continue to focus while you see the image you’ve been working on go from good to worse to good again.

Another aspect is painting objects, straight lines and architecture, something that often needs to be reworked and perfected. You are happy with the background and suddenly you’ve just destroyed it with the object that you overlapped-often the background needs to be reworked with the object as you work to perfect both.

I am excited about the process and while I continue to get bits of time to paint, I am adding to an already large painting list. Let me know what you think of the new images.
swallowspsd









Painting: Deliberate until something develops

undertheseasm

There are so many different feelings when you paint, sometimes it’s pushing paint around, sometimes it’s deliberate, even mechanical and sometimes it’s instinctual, tonight’s ¬†sitting was a little bit of all of them.

I started with an under painting and it was one of the more deliberate paintings I’ve started, unfortunately I didn’t have the full picture, just an idea of clouds moving forward over the viewers head. The actual image is from real life, I have photographs for reference but I’m not completely sure where the clouds end and what the landscape looks like.

I painted the background with perspective lines, every form, every color and every space will be designed with the idea of perspective and I want the viewer to feel overwhelmed by the clouds overhead.

As I tend to do, I switched gears after finishing a monochromatic under painting I turned to the painting of a scene from beneath Shark River Inlet in Belmar New Jersey. This painting was inspired thirty plus years ago and it still stood clear.

I painted with a clear feeling of purpose but as suddenly as it began it ends and I wasn’t sure if I was done with the painting or should start all over. The problem is the idea and image is strong but the recollection is so hard to bring back to mind. I will continue to study it until I know it’s either done or time to start over.

Another thing about painting, sometimes you feel like you’ve created your best work and sometimes the same painting looks like a mistake. I got back to the grackles above the city, an image that I started at the end of the last series, again I had that feeling of instinct kick in and for thirty minutes or so I painted like I figured out the problem.

None of the paintings are finished but I feel like I’m shaking off the stagnation and getting in the process. The most exciting thing about painting instinctual is that images appear that you didn’t necessarily know you were creating they just come out of the details you’ve worked in feverishly.

I’m excited about this series and feel it will be a huge step toward my future painting style and feel.

Stay tuned, more paintings coming very soon.

gracklessm









Christmas Miracles-(2011)- Part 1

I had an amazing Christmas-miracles abound. We tend to see things how we are used to seeing things and often miracles are overlooked because we were looking for or waiting for the wrong miracle and missed the great things around us happening. I believe the presence of something greater is around us all the time-it’s the feeling you get staring at a sunset, or the feeling of a winter storm on Christmas-a momentary feeling of peace that supersedes the everyday feeling of stress and crisis we go through.

I always tell a bride-usually it’s the bride as they are the ones that usually stress about a wedding- that everything will work out in its time and the things that don’t will be the things you remember or you can laugh about if you let yourself. I believe it’s the same scenario dealing with holidays, especially Christmas. For one day out of the year we expect to have peace, to be able to guess what our loved ones want for Christmas, to have the amount of money we need without going over budget and for the family and friends for one day to put down their differences and enjoy each other around the kitchen table. Every Christmas is the same-start off being conservative about money, start out being excited and by the time it is over you can’t wait to tear down the dried up tree and put off all the feelings of sadness or auld lang sine for the next year when we’ll try it one more time.

I have been schooled in miracles for the last two years because Christmas didn’t turn the way it was expected-it turned out better than I could have even imagined or tried to plan and it wasn’t any of the gifts or the perfect smile that a family member experienced from that extra special gift-it was the way the time went without the control of being able to sculpt this perfect day and that’s where the miracle comes in.

The word miracle can be overused, it is usually saved for some great deed, someone coming back from near death, the finding of funds when there were no possibilities, yes that is how we describe a miracle but just as the word love is often misused and mistaken for infatuation the very magic of the word is usually in the subtleties we would normally overlook. Which brings me to last years’ Christmas. My mom fell and broke her hip, how could we enjoy a Christmas season after something traumatic as that? I almost mentally wrote off the season-which is maybe the good thing-the problem with holidays are our expectations are often too high. So instead of shopping, we spent time at a hospital room and none of us could explain the fears we felt and the lack of control each of us felt about the fact that she was in for a surgery which science said she could not live through-first miracle maybe. The break was the best break it could be-if you could look at a broken hip like that but the doctors were positive about her prognosis.

I think one of the hardest things about a crisis during the holiday is the fact that children don’t need to be involved in the stress and worry, so that means just because a dads’ first instinct would be to lay down and watch some mundane show to ease the feeling of depression and worry-we need to go get a tree, decorate it, enjoy egg nog-without the nog and really feel the christmas feeling. This is where shear will comes in play-I don’t have the privilege to have  a bad season-my son is watching and learning how to deal with worry and crisis as well as expecting a Christmas he doesn’t want to have to remember as a bad memory. So I shop in between going to the hospital, wrap late in the evening and Christmas eve-don’t feel like I bought enough gifts for everyone-the usual dilemma and we all get through the process as well as we could possibly get through a holiday where someone you love is in the hospital.

Here’s the second miracle-it wasn’t a good or even mediocre day-it was special and beautiful in its own way. My mother learned things in the hospital she wouldn’t have, found strength in other people, allowed herself to give up control of her situation and shared her strength with other people-the gifts she got were more than we could have wrapped. The family joined together and felt that feeling of overcoming a crisis, there was hope for the New Year. My son and I got perspective about what Christmas really means and not what marketing would have you believe-we don’t deserve anything specific, we don’t need to overspend and put ourselves in debt to get ourselves and others everything we deserve-instead we got just what we needed-family-the closeness, the true bond, we watched other families coming together-we got perspective on our situations and appreciated things we would have overlooked if it weren’t for the wonderful misfortune of a broken hip. That is when you have witnessed a miracle when you call a misfortune wonderful-the presence you feel and joy is the unexplained phenomena that follows and just as a haunting can only be describe and understood by someone who has felt it, the same goes with the presence of God on that special, crazy, hectic day we call Christmas.

I will leave this year’s miracles for the next post so I won’t completely bore the reader as well as infuriate further whoever is looking for punctuation and grammar-this is what you call free thought, plain and simple. So I hope if this was even a bit interesting you’ll follow to part two when this year’s miracle is explained.