My Latest Posts

  • Wed, 13 May 2020 23:20:00 +0000

    Imperfection

     
     
     
    One of the things I am really appreciating about pouring sand is its imprecision. I have spent so much of my artist efforts in getting things done perfectly. I can't escape the impulse- it is hard-wired into me. Even this artwork is done on a precise grid and I'm doing my best to keep everything tight. However, my lack of practice in this medium, meaning lack of muscle control, lack of best positioning to keep my arm or hand from quavering just slightly, combined with the spillage and inherent sloppiness of sand come together to create a whole lotta "errors". My eyes constantly fixate on the lack of uniformity or straightness in the lines, the variability of the negative space. And yet, I am finding this to be the part I love best about this medium- my mind is forced to free itself of the tyranny of perfection. 
     
    I have had a few accusations of PhotoShopping my beach artworks- people disbelieving their material reality. My intensely physical large beach artworks lost their physicality when seen on print or on screen.
     
    I love traditional tribal art. Often there is a geometric component, frequently done in an imprecise manner. What this speaks to me is that there is an acknowledgement of a conceptual perfection (of geometry, in this case), but an imperfect human is allowed to be seen as the artist. It is saying that the artist matters- the final form is not the priority, not the true aim. My work is a human creation, not made by a robot or computer. By virtue of being human it will have errors. It's the errors that say "a human made this". And actually, by virtue of being in the actual world, errors will occur- human or not. It's are the errors that say "this was built in the real world." This aspect of imprecise renderings of otherwise precise forms allows these artworks to warmer, more relatable.
     
    In contrast, precisely rendered art can often feel outside of this world, accounting for geometric  forms being such an integral part of most religions from the start of humanity. The shapes speak to a  transcendence of 'reality'- something beyond the world of our material form but also at its core.
     
    Life, and our species, evolved within chaotic natural systems. We resonate most deeply with that which connects us to this primitive recognition. Hence the therapeutic qualities of being in nature. Geometric perfection presences our awareness to truths that transcend all circumstance. 

    I'm finding my path both in art and life is to be unwinding control and allowing life to reveal itself in it's unpredictable ways.
  • Tue, 24 Mar 2020 06:06:00 +0000

    We are Creation Creating


    We are Creation Creating


    I just had a thought, one of those that recurs to me occasionally when something brings my attention to it.










    I was in the process of chasing a moth (we are infested with a small, clothes eating variety). Its flight pattern was erratic, making it challenging to swat. The flight pattern of a mosquito is also erratic. Both are programmed genetically to fly in a way that will make it hard for them to be swatted- or more likely to avoid being eaten by a bat.


    This ability is part of why they are alive, the ancestors of this moth took on the ability to be this way as a fundamental part of who they are, genetically. This helped them thrive. And when conditions invariably change (as they always will, eventually) inherent in the dna transfer process are small aberrations in the code, which may, but mostly won’t, be the thing that offers greater survival in some other circumstance. The species as a whole may move in a new direction in what they look like, how they behave and what they are capable of, a long, shifting process, with no true end because the goal posts are constantly changing.


    I was considering these moths and what their goal is- essentially to mate and lay eggs. There’s no finding those eggs- they are very well hidden. And the moths are tricky, suddenly landing and blending in or walking into crevices.


    I am trying to kill it, but clearly many have escaped me because new moths keep showing up. The upshot is that they are ‘winning' the opportunity to release their next generation into the world.


    My thought: Life always finds a way. All these forms around us in the world - life finding a way to exist. As a colony, as an individual, as a species. Life finds a way into existence.


    The ways that life has found to express itself are as many as the uncountable fellow inhabitants on this planet.


    I see a fundamental force driving this process. A force whose goal is its own existence. It is generative, it is forwarding moving, intent-ful. It is self-organization- the opposite of chaos.


    .......


    Here's where that takes me when I consider the idea relative to my own life...


    At our essence you and I are expressions of a Force that is fundamentally about creating itself and keeping itself alive long enough to keep the process moving.


    Poetically speaking, You and I are expressions of life creating itself.


    When I lead my workshops the most spoken words I hear are ‘I am not an artist’, followed by ‘I am not creative’. These words create division simply by their existence- as though they are things that you either *are* or *aren’t*. But it is a false dichotomy. We are all creators simply though the fact of our existence. At a basic level, our hearts are beating, our eyes are blinking, I am eating- my body and me are keeping me alive.


    I envision his creative force as a stream that is passing through me. When the blocks to accessing it soften I find that it was always present.


    Bringing this perspective of us being connected to this force of creation, I see that we are all wielding the capacity to tap into the Creative Force, to be energized towards birthing into existence things never before yet seen, something coming through our own unique being.


    Metaphorically speaking, Creativity is the product of tapping into this Creative Force. Dreaming up and building from nothing or building upon its predecessors, this is the act of creation expressing itself in the moment through the Creator- the person wielding this Creative Force.


    A grounded way this shows up for me is the need to track the tides to find the best times to create my art. This is an act of creation- through charting the tide I am engaging the creation process.


    Species evolution is mainly a reactive force, a path of least resistance, engaging practicalities slowly, over millions of years. It doesn’t look ahead. It doesn’t create meaning or analyses.


    In contrast, our own level of self-awareness allows us to consider into the future, to feel into possibilities that may never, or could never, be. We can reflect upon our own life experience and divine meaning which can offer both guidance in the moment and serve to evolve ourselves into new imaginings.


    Creating ourselves into being, continually.


    This is the ultimate place from which to exist in one's life- the place of intentional creation. You are operating from this place simply by being alive- which includes multiple levels of self-creation.


    What I have found is that when I connect to this Force of Creation, the more life energy I feel. Through engaging the things that activate within my creative force, I feel energized.


    Think upon any experience that had you feeling ‘in the flow’- that state of being in which time slows down and senses heighten, when you were fully absorbed and single focused. I see this in my son playing with Legos or building his marble runs.


    Think upon a time in which the activity you were engaging fed you energy to keep going, after a day's work, perhaps physically and mentally tired, but emotionally and spiritually recharged. Creating always is a recharging act.


    We are all born as open channels to the Force of Creation. No small child would ever consider the idea that they lack the ability to create. But as they get older it can become easier and easier to create blocks to the ability to access this force. Hurtful comments from parents and peers, lack of encouragement, narrowing conceptions about what art is, self judgement- these can build up internal resistance to allowing oneself to access one’s creative potential.


    But it is always there, it never goes away. It may need some rust brushed off, some lubrication and jump-starting, but your channel to the Creative Force is an intrinsic part of who you are as a being.


    If you have activities and interests in your life that amplify your energy when you engage them, bravo to you, keep it up! If this creativity connection feels lacking in your life, it is time for change. I am going to be looking more closely at the process of opening oneself to one’s creative potential in coming posts.


    To those who would think 'I am not an artist' or 'I am not creative' I say: You are a manifestation of the Creative Force and through you creation actively flows. How this looks for you specifically is your life’s journey.


    Life is precious. It is our opportunity to make it as expansive and full as we can.


    Enjoy the ride :-)
  • Wed, 11 Dec 2019 06:19:00 +0000

    Shine

    ‘Shine’, 2014

    I created this artwork with my pregnant wife as an offering to our not-yet born son. I designed it with the question in my mind of how I could encode a wisdom that would always offer guidance, regardless of (most any) circumstance. What simple message could I impart to him that would always offer perspective?

  • Wed, 22 May 2019 22:46:00 +0000

    The Randomized Mandala
    For a number of years I’ve been using mandala-making in my workshops as a method for quickly creating large-scale artwork.

    Mandalas have a number of features which make them ideal for this use. For starters, you can take practically any element, like a line or dots or spirals or whatever, and as long as it is repeated with regularity around a central point, it will look intentional. Keep adding elements and building outwards and voila! This is helpful when I’m working with art novices for whom coming up with a compelling completed artwork from scratch could be a daunting task. It allows me to work with any number of people and have each person’s creation be unique. Collaboration between multiple participants can easily be incorporated with each person taking turns adding new elements.

    The first thing that is needed is a framework. For a mandala the framework can be a series of circles and a few spokes. The number of each is not so important. The framework will not be visible in the final creation (unless desired)- rather it serves as a guide to staying even in placing and sizing new elements.

    So we might start with a framework like this. Then, for any element that is added, decide where it is going, how large it will be, and then repeat the positioning for as many times as the circle has been divided by spokes. Keep adding new elements in a similar manner.

    Sometimes deciding what to add next can be a stumbling block, especially during a workshop when there isn’t much time for designing. A new twist I have added is using a dice guide:
    So, by rolling the dice (or going to this site which will give randomized numbers), whatever the dice comes up with your job then is to incorporate the new element. There are no rules for how the element is added- as many or as few as desired, inverted or sideways, large or small, filled in or left open. The great part about this system is that even though it is prescriptive in telling you what to do, it leaves open tremendous room for creativity. 

    The guide can be any elements you decide, and there can be as many as desired (using the randomizing link for numbers not found on dice)

    Here’s a go I had at using this system using a slightly more complex framework:

  • Thu, 04 Apr 2019 18:32:00 +0000

    Substructures IV
    A recent artwork created for The Guardian UK. It is a variation of a line of inquiry that involves layering textures. I like this one :-) Many more variations to play with!

  • Tue, 05 Mar 2019 20:32:00 +0000

    Beets!
    Just harvested my Gaurdsmark Chioggia Beets and prepping them for my next round of ‘kraut. What a lovely pattern within.
  • Mon, 04 Feb 2019 23:32:00 +0000

    Glyphs IV
    A new ‘twist’ on the Glyphs series :-) A practice run for a future piece.

  • Wed, 16 Jan 2019 20:11:00 +0000

    The Problem with Goals and Purpose
    This is a bit off-topic, but my interests and thoughts range widely and I’m getting back into speaking my mind, so here goes…

    I recently came across a motivational speaker, someone famous for their accomplishments. He spoke about the unorganized expenditure of energy for people not connected to a goal and then stressed the importance of having a goal and then driving towards that with everything you’ve got.

    I feel differently about all this. I don’t have an issue with having a goal or striving towards something. What I see is that, generally speaking, the goal itself is not the end. Once that goal is attained, then what? A new goal perhaps. Okay, fair enough.
  • Fri, 07 Dec 2018 20:55:00 +0000

    Professional Development with Mountain View Schools
    This past month I was invited to share perspectives and techniques in my style of art to 5 and under instructors from Mountain View Schools. During my site visit I was inspired with the layout of the school- numerous zones with different features- trees and grass and sand amidst the concrete jungle of Mountain View. I began visualizing my session.

  • Thu, 06 Dec 2018 20:13:00 +0000

    Offset Dislocation
    This concept comes from the book The Self-Made Tapestry by Philip Ball, which I speak about in this post.

    Offset Disclocation as a concept arose in the section of the book that looks at how markings occur in on biological bodies. This includes phenomenon such as zebra stripes, fish banding, and butterfly wings. Each organism has its own approach to this and so Philip goes through many potential routes. The implications of the principles he engages take him all the way to pondering how a fetus knows where to place its head and fingers (more on that in a post dedicated to ‘Diffusion Fields’). Very cool.

    An Offset Dislocation is like a tectonic fault line. A road is going along and then suddenly, after an earthquake, there is a split that cuts across the land and the road is now a shifted few feet to the side. In this concept, the entire field suddenly shift along a a specific (or sometimes gradual) fracture line.

    This artwork of mine is almost, but not quite this idea:

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