I’m in a bit of an “artist intermission” full of anxiety, and the familiar depression that I’ve battled for many years. Nope, not a glamorous star here bringing awareness to those of us who live with depression and anxiety. And, I don’t have the resources to completely “take time off” to check in to a place of wellness to work on myself. Although I’m happy for those creatives who can work on their own wellness with time off and a dedicated (even inspirational) place to do it.
For me, I’m still here – in my home studio which has sat empty and alone for the past several weeks, just waiting for me to come back. I’ll admit that I’m acutely struggling right now.
Meanwhile, some of you have asked what I do with myself?
Well, I sleep a lot. I’ve worked on office chores such as household budgeting and financial actuals. I sit in my green leather studio chair and pet studio cat Stan. I managed to finally update my website with snapshots from my Arctic Circle Expedition. I take pills and go to talk therapy. I attempt to help myself with hard-to-crack wellness workbooks. And, I generally try to get back into things I’ve enjoyed in days gone by like gardening… one weed pulled at a time.
I miss painting my abstracts… I really do. Hopefully a new and inspirational project will come along for me soon. In the meantime, I’ll just try to tread water.
And a big thank-you to my husband, Steve, who through it all, helps and loves me lots.
I’ve always been inspired by anything water – rain, puddles, the Pacific. And the frozen water of the arctic circle didn’t disappoint me in how it all inspired my paintings made onboard the ship and once I returned to my Portland studio.
Daunted by the experience itself and the 900 snapshots I took on the Expedition, I’ve clearly taken several months off from blogging more about my trip. Today I finally finished going through all of my snapshots, pulling out the better ones for publishing here on my blog and posting on my website.
The good news is that in the meantime, I completed the last larger commissions for my Kickstarter backers in late February, so everyone now has their arctic abstracts – over 80 that I painted – all inspired by my time in the ice and cold of the arctic circle.
Preparing for the Expedition, I had thought I’d be able to possibly paint on a table set up on the outside deck of the ship. But after two failed attempts to paint in the cold, snow and wind, I set up a makeshift studio on my bunkbed in my shared cabin. Tight quarters for sure, but I made it work and at least was out of the extreme elements!
Well, since my last post, I’ve been fully outfitted, made all of my preparations… and have actually GONE ON MY ARCTIC EXPEDITION!
Most folks are more interested in the actual trip and what I experienced while in the arctic circle than all of my preparations anyway. So in a multi-part series of posts, I’ll be sharing my most favorite images and observations of my travels in and around Svalbard (Norway) and the Arctic Circle.
I did have some fun trying to pack up all of my cold-weather gear and art supplies, but finally got everything down to a manageable size and packed up!
After a day and a half of travel, I arrived in Longyearbyen, Svalbard which is about 78 degrees (north) and 800 miles from the North Pole. I would spend the next 2 weeks aboard the tall ship Antigua, sailing the arctic circle around Svalbard, soaking in the frozen landscape and painting my abstracts.
Here’s a snapshot of the first glacier we visited… and, after a nice hike, that I actually got to touch!
And here’s me looking (and feeling) pretty darn cold (it was in the teens and 20’s most of the time throughout the Expedition).
Finally, here’s a snapshot of the tall ship Antigua that I spent 2 weeks on, along with 27 other artists, 4 guides and 7 crew!
My Arctic Circle Expedition is still months away (I leave on September 28th, 2018), but I’m trying to take advantage of end-of-season sales to get myself better outfitted for the Arctic.
Some of you know me as the guy who wears shorts year-round (Denver, Columbus, Portland… doesn’t matter!). I’m usually warm, so I just don’t have much colder-weather gear in my closet. But, on a recent winter trip to Boise, I was reminded that I CAN actually get cold, so I need to be prepared for the Arctic by planning on more than shorts and tees for my wardrobe.
Trying on big, puffy jackets isn’t a whole lot of fun for me and I began to overheat in the snapshot below, but here I am hitting an end-of-season sale for warm outerwear that I just don’t have…
Nearly a year ago, I posted that I was accepted for a truly epic artist’s residency: The Arctic Circle 2018 Autumn Arts & Sciences Expedition in October, 2018.
Wow. I’m super excited as the super-long anticipation and lead time gets shorter… 18 months from when I was accepted has now shrunk to just 6 months. And, I’m thrilled to announce that after a month-long campaign on Kickstarter to raise the funds necessary to participate, I am fully funded!
A huge thank-you to those Backers on Kickstarter who pledged funds now to receive paintings of various sizes at the end of this year to help me get to the Arctic Circle. Now that I’m through the funding phase, I have lots of work to do to get organized, outfitted for the Arctic environment and experiment with how I’ll paint my abstracts on a ship in the middle of the Arctic Circle!
As a guy who generally likes to be well-prepared, I’m thinking this summer will go quickly and in no time I’ll be in the Arctic, soaking up the frozen inspirations and making art… somehow and of some sort!
Did you know that I dream my paintings before I actually paint them? Well, I do — whether a daydream among a stand of rustling trees, or a dream while I slumber under blackberry skies, I see my next paintings vividly in my head before they ever hit my paper canvas. Huh… just like Vincent van Gogh who said simply, “I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream”.
And, if we’re talking about how my process is like the Masters, Picasso explained it in more detail this way:
“How can you expect a beholder to experience my picture as I experienced it? A picture comes to me a long time beforehand; who knows how long a time beforehand, I sensed, saw, and painted it and yet the next day even I do not understand what I have done. How can anyone penetrate my dreams, my instincts, my desires, my thought, which have taken a long time to fashion themselves and come to the surface, above all to grasp what I put there, perhaps involuntary.”
Here’s a large format painting I made after dreaming of trees and sky:
I’m having a summer studio sale! I’ve selected 16 (or so) original paintings on canvas and have marked them down by 50%. Check out the selection from my studio wall below and let me know which favorites you’d like to add to your collection! Sale goes through Saturday, July 15th.
Top two rows: 12 x 12 inches; 50% off price = $200 each
Bottom row, left to right: Painting #1 is a collage of 100 mini metallic silver squares, 24 x 24 inches, 50% off price = $600; Paintings #2-4 are a collage of mini metallic squares,18 x 18 inches, 50% off price = $325 each
I’ve posted more snapshots of these paintings, plus a few bonus ones on my Instagram.
It has been awhile since I posted a snapshot of my studio… I’d sure be lost without my large, main studio table that I got at The Ohio State University’s surplus warehouse before we moved out to Portland! In fact, I’ve found several pieces of great “studio furniture” at university surplus stores, so if you’re looking for furniture you might check with your local universities to see if they sell surplus furniture and equipment.
The horrific events in Orlando have taken over my creative process in my studio since it happened nearly two weeks ago. As an artist, I paint what I’m thinking and feeling – first I paint in my mind (often while I’m supposed to be sleeping!) and then, ready or not, I put paint to paper in my studio.
As a gay American, tragedies like Orlando impact me deeply. My own family has rejected me on this “issue” and I’m saddened that hate and anything but complete acceptance, still fills many people on this planet.
So, I paint. And then I paint more as I process what happened in Orlando and the 49 young people who died. The painting below, one of my Pacific Northwest Rains series, is one that I finished this week. I’m conveying the lives of 49 colorful people (as the stripes on the bottom) who are being transported through a black line into whatever silvery “light” is above and next for them.
I’ll never forget what happened in Orlando and will be painting many more as I try to make sense of people like the shooter… and my own family.
I’ve been a fan of Michael W Smith’s music for a long time – surely over 25 years. His music and message always inspire me… all year around and at the holidays. His music is especially a favorite of mine for listening in my studio.
I recently commented here that I was listening to some of my favorite holiday music in my studio, including Michael W Smith, and received an interesting message from one of my blog fans. In a nutshell, the point was, how do I reconcile being a big fan of a musician who most likely would condemn and oppress me for being gay? I’ll admit that it is a question that I’ve avoided researching over the years, not really wanting to confirm anything. But, this message from a fan made me google around to see what I could find. I didn’t really stop to think how I would solve this problem, depending upon what I found out…
Well, there doesn’t seem to be much out there about what Michael W Smith thinks of gay folks. But, he does have a recent, dramatic video on his website that encourages conservatives to vote and highlights the fear of “redefining marraige” as a motivator. He also seems to be a fan of Rick Santorum, and we all know what he thinks of gay Americans.
So, how do I solve a problem like Michael W Smith? Is there a problem? Can I just not care what he thinks and still be inspired by his music? I’m certainly not a book-or-CD-burning kind of guy, but will I stop listening to his music? Blech – I don’t know.
Maybe I’ll try focusing on a simple message that is on his live Worship album. I wrote it down to send to members of my family years ago and dug it out to hang back up in my studio today: