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Saturday, March 28, 2015


One of the things that I am learning about myself through yet another disappointment, is that I am completely capable of taking care of myself. Why would I think that I can't. Because I have been told that in some form or another all of my life. Sometimes accusatory statements come out as commandments as if they are repeated often enough they become a kind of mantra. Every time you tell a kid they can't do something for a reason other than health and safety (which needs to be stated as you "will not" or just "do not") it becomes a rule of living. And it goes so far into the subconsciousness that it makes everything in life much more difficult than it needs to be.

I am a weird person because I was a weird kid. While everyone was planning weddings and dreaming up their own dream homes I was planning a solitary life. I was born wanting to be left alone. Oh I was socialized, and traumatized in the process. But I had no desire for human companionship. As an introvert and natural observer, it is hard to be around people when you can see through their lies, the dissembling and even outright hostility toward others. And as a kid it is hard to get adults to listen and see what you see because they all "know better". I have always wanted to be a lone. But I was programmed to believe that I could not take care of myself.

So here I am up to my ears in debt, working my body to an early grave and immersed in the belief that art will never pay and that for whatever reason I am not a good enough writer to make money doing that. I've gone into relationship with the belief that they are needed because we aren't supposed to do life alone.

But I have to. I have a fundamental distrust that is not over come with therapy. I have no desire to learn to trust. Not on an intimate level where people are supposed to know you. That is where betrayal happens. And people get in the way of making art. I don't care if I make money at it or not. It would be nice. But I make art because to not make art is to begin to crawl into my grave. I do it to live. People get in the way.

Not believing in yourself gets in the way too. And so do setbacks. The art gallery was a dead end. I sold nothing that was submitted. But that is ok. I have other plans for my art. But I am taking a break and just working on digital stuff because I am transitioning into a new part of life.

My employer has started negotiations to move into another promotion. We have to work out the details such as the salary and the start date, how I will use my vacation time etc... so there is not much that I can say about it right now. But I am starting to believe in myself. So I am saying yes to bigger things. And as a result of the process I am seeing that I can take care of myself. I wish that I had seen that sooner. I wish that I had a defense for the people who tore me down 20 years ago. I wish that I had been strong enough to keep that from happening. In the 20 year struggle to rebuild after a divorce, I am seeing that one mistake doesn't really define me....

it defines the people who do not let you forget your mistakes.

And that, more than the work transition, is a significant thing to understand about ones self.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Illustrated Sayings

It seems that art and life can not be easily disentangled. Nor does it seem that life allows art to be made without there being some amount of sorrow or pain associated with the creation. 2015 has begun with a series of personal tragedies following a rather large dry spell in the art department throughout the later half of 2014. And from this perspective it seems that art is going to have to wait for a while longer before it can take center stage in life again.

As has been the case in this past year, digital art production is a quick hit for getting the creativity going. And I am still working on my photographic skills, honing the set up and snap shot process of capturing the essence of food before it gets lost to the ravages of too much counter time. So it isn't like ABSOLUTELY nothing is getting accomplished. I do have to remember that and not get down on myself for being unproductive. It's just that the kind of art I am doing is a bit of a departure from the art that I am used to presenting here.

Take, for instance, this set of images I made for my facebook page. It uses 4 layers of textures, the first of which is my own painting of the sacral chakra which was heavily manipulated. Then a series of overlays from my own files that were culled from graphicstock and voila!

One of the things that I hate about the internet is how fast snark and sarcasm spread. It isn't just snark and sarcasm though. It is the way that trite one-liners and pseudo-proverbs that are woefully one dimensional spread. One of them that got me riled was the saying that Actions Speak Louder Than Words.

When a promise is made and broken that says something about the person who made the promise. When a secret is shared and then blabbed about town that says a lot about the person who broke confidence. It says you don't care. It says you lie. Two times the saying is true. The problem with this saying is that in other situations, you have to be able to interpret actions objectively.

I do not know too many people who are objective enough to be reliable interpreters. One has to be able to understand human psychology and behavior and disciplined enough not to run another's actions through the filter of your own pain. Even with my considerable skills as an empath, I don't get it right all the time. Few people get it right at all.

This is the placard that I created in response to the haphazard application of the pseudo-proverb Actions Speak Louder Than Words.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Photography: Food

I've made a new pinterest board. It's for food porn... you know, those impossibly beautifully plated meals in the french tradition that make you think of nothing but gorging yourself. Sensual. Hypnotic. Designed to make the cravings intense enough to blow your mind. And make you jones for the thing that is out of reach. It is the fantasy meal that no average American fare dinner will ever live up to. It is the unreality that makes reality intolerable.

Why do we torture ourselves with such imagery?

I want to learn to take these kinds of photos.
I want to learn to prepare those kinds of meals.

I want to produce the kind of food & work that gets into the deepest part of your subconscious and lives there until you go mad for the desire of a piece of sculpted chocolate or a fruit tart that looks like something with which a serpent could tempt one out of Eden.

I started out with these kinds of photos. you might remember this from a trip to Grand Rapids with my old housemate. It's a good photo. But it isn't food porn. It is mere documentation, though by no means was this a mere dessert. That was the best ever chocolate pudding I have ever eaten. And I thought that some of the home made ones, from scratch not mix, were good. 

And I got a little better once I read up on how these kinds of photos are taken. MACRO lens, flattened field of vision and natural lighting make all the difference. And while this is still better than the mousse/pudding.....

You see the grain in the cake, the textures and variegation in the frosting and the depth of the shadows it still needed something. So it gets a little picmonkey treatment and voila! 

Closer to being food art photography. 

Closer. But not perfect. Perfection being slow in the making. And not all that easy to come by even with a few articles on the subject under one's belt. I don't know what it is about food. It is difficult to use props yet props are rather essential. Or so it would seem. Food also has a relatively short table life. It doesn't take long for frosting to lose it's sheen, veggies to dry out and meats to begin to shrink and lose their freshly seared pucker.

The other difficulty is that food is food. I still have a hard time seeing it as all that artsy. Of course the way that I cook it is not. But to make really great food art photos you have to be able to 
see an alternate presentation. You know, something other than what you see when you set the table. 

So that means looking at it not like food but as something else. You have to look at it from the building blocks of composition. A bowl of soup is just a circle with a pattern. So how would you present a circle in a more interesting composition than sitting smack in the middle of a plane of existence? 

Divide your circle into half. If that is not interesting enough then quarter it. Make the texture the star. Let everything else fall away but not so far that the meaning of it is lost. 

And now we are closer to getting what others call food porn. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


It's my thing these days.
While things are all tucked up in storage I am playing with the tools that I have at hand. Tools and subjects. I've also been toying with the idea that I would leave off of art for a while and write. It's hard to do everything that I like to do and still make a living.

Honestly it is hard to do anything and make a living these days. Grief is rather closer than I like and gets in the way every time I sit down to do anything creative. Usually grief and other such high emotions make great fodder for art.

Granted, there has to be a cool down period, a chance to let things settle in the mind and heart so that you can concentrate and not be distracted by all the things that run through your head. The grief is still fresh enough that picking up the old tools isn't sufficient for keeping everything at bay. So there is this....

Learning better blog photography though online articles and then playing with effects in post takes enough concentration that I can start to forget the things that plague me. 

She's a great companion. But she isn't mine so her helpfulness is a bit limited where I am concerned. 

She has quite an intelligent face doesn't she. Sometimes I think that she sees through everything. And I wish that she could tell me what it is that she sees.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


My best friend died last night. He's been sick for a long time, rallying after setbacks that came far too frequently. His body just couldn't anymore. With all the changes that have happened this year, art is taking a backseat to other aspects of life. Shayne's passing will be another opportunity to re-evaluate and revise my own plans while I try to deal with the fact that the most significant influence in my life these last 7 years, the reason I kept blogging when I wanted to give up, is no longer with me.

He hasn't been well enough to comment on the Geek blog in almost a year. It's been 9 months since he posted anything himself. And to be honest, his decreased participation has taken a little of the joy out of blogging.

So for a while I will have to put aside somethings, including AOG Studios, while I try to learn a new identity.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Relief Regarding Creative Anxiety

Not a Richter but it has a similar feel. I've been
wondering what it would take to render my digital
works on canvas... if I would even know how. 
I am watching a German language documentary on Gerhard Richter. They are trying to film his creative process and it is messing him all up. He is a quiet person, reserved in public and not the kind of guy who can lecture. Which is what it seems the documentary director wants him to do. He just wants to paint. But things are not going well for him with this series that he is creating.

He talks to the camera person about it. He articulates the feelings that I have about performing sketch or painted art. What happens when you are watched is that you do not work with the same freedom of expression. To the artist this shows in the work and in the heart. Those observing do not see the conflict growing within the artist. It changes the work. He and his work are the quanta. The more they are observed the more they change. Unlike the quanta, the artist can refuse to be observed.

He is a quiet man and seems a bit terrified to even be at his show in the Nation Portrait Gallery in London. Portraits are not his sole production. I rather do like his modern atmospheric paintings. They seem like giant monoprints.  But I know they are not; paint and a squeegee with instinct made those works.

He works without a plan and works until it is done. I watch him and I see in his face when a piece is complete. But I could not tell you which of the painting's qualities he considered to be the key to a successful painting. And he could not tell the documentarist. I relate to this method. And I see things in the work that I would consider the benchmark of success. But I will never know that he and I see the same things. At some point he says that the painter and the viewer have to have only one thing in common, and that is to know that a painting is good of its own merit. He did not say that we would have to agree on what made it good.

I am finding quite a lot in this that is very helpful to me in a an aesthetic, spiritual way though nothing practical in his methods as Richter and I do not have a similar style. I do believe that we have a similar temperament. He was a serious child. A serious teen and a mature art student who though that the boy who whistled at his easel was working too hard to enjoy his own works. Richter believes that one must always look on one's work with a critical eye. Really, how else will you know if you are on the right track?  It was when he was asked about his relationship to his mother and her own mature personality that made him such as he is.

He said that "You don't want to believe your parents And you can see through them pretty good." 

Which seems to fly in the face of what most people would assume to be true. Most of the world says that we want to believe in our parents and that a good deal of our issues with reality is the extreme disappointment we feel when the reality that our parents helped to mold dissolves painfully or dramatically when we experience the world outside of the home. I was one of those kids as well. I wanted to believe some things that I was told. But there were things that I fought to disbelieve. The things that I know in my soul are true, the things that I could trust because the heart never really lies to you as it has no need to be placated, those things I fought to hold on to. I disbelieved a good many things I was told and yet was very gullible about others. I do wish that they has asked him what sorts of things he did not want to believe. A child raised on Goethe is bound to be a serious one. Of course being a Winter baby, an Aquarius, Goethe may have had nothing at all to do with anything.

Nearing the end of the film, I can see where he became more comfortable with observation. Having gotten used to the camera a bit, the cameraman and the questions he approaches the green series for this installation with more certainty. He almost attacks the canvases that were about to give him fits in the beginning stage. Now, as before, when he drags the squeegee it seems if he is pulling a layer of film to reveal the painting. Almost as if unwrapping a present.

Definitely a present.