Last evening until sunset
I had a painting session that felt
like the time itself was wrought
from a higher quality iron ore
Tonight I was in full flow
but for a limited time only
I could feel the buzz in my hands
and in my vocalized responses
at certain brush strokes
and then paint flings
and I did a little skateboarding
and my eyes felt like
laser attack vessels
on the prowl looking for rebels
Last evening makes me think of
this thing I like to say
and that is
one brush stroke per night
of perfect flow
is cause for celebration.
The universe was swirled
like my enamel paint cans
and just as active
The meteors sprinted to graceland
against a background
satellites warm and round
while stalactites of mineral light
kissed the luminous stalagmites
of the gravitas and apparently grievous black
the more distant and bent
and we talked about these rays from afar
meeting with our retinas
and love and memory perhaps
And the sagebrush surroundings
on this darkened desert planet
beside a big white dog
I’ve been working on my tan, working on caring less about it. I’m becoming brazen about my bronze. I plan to stop needing sunblock. If my skin can be weened off of it then I’ll be resilient and I’m on my way to becoming the uncontested Grizzly Adams of self sufficiency. I’ve needed less each day and haven’t touched sunblock in a week now. One day it will be impossible for me to become sun burned–that’s the idea. They’ll think I’m aboriginal.
Working here in the heat of the day is so absurd it’s almost unbearable. I have to wear black latex gloves so enamel paint doesn’t creep up under my fingernails. Glistening sweat pores from under these gloves and trickles down my wrists. Am I spoiled? I dunno but hey, I can work at night, alone, in silence, with the lonely breeze of refreshment. Nothing will be visible to compete with the horses I’m brushing on to this surface in red and blue. I’m all alone and in the best way possible at night, it’s only me. Me and the bugs. So just us.
My cabin is a 40 foot container actually ear marked for Eddie. I’ve been residing in his cabin during this stay and he’s not in a hurry to displace me. The guys have hooked up the water in this cabin first and I have a shower to myself. After six years coming here I’m the envy of camp.
Smack My Brush Up
I smack my brushes on the wall for splatters and they hate me for it. Paint brushes have tiny nails that hold them together which loosen up because they suffer at my abuse. Repairs are needed. I took the time today to replace screws in my brushes. I’m kinda proud of the whole thing, the abuse, the repairs–it’s work hard play hard. You should see me dancing around flingin’ paint.
It was to be the night I’d go full vampire. I want to paint late into the night with spotlights to see by. Bugs would convene, yes. My laptop assisted me in making a soundtrack which is 10 hours worth of music. It consists of 177 songs and I can’t wait to dig in. I’ve been talking about night painting sessions since before I got here. My tendency has always been for the night owl preference. Early wake ups suit me when I’m here but I’d prefer all-nighters for getting artwork done. My sleep schedule will take a bit of time to switch over. Years ago when i was just out of high school I had a performance motorcycle that I’d work on all night. Night working has been good to me. I’m a night crawler.
There’s a big blue jet parked right beside me. It’s called Playa One with a big ol’ official looking seal on the door. The wings fold out for people to dance on with spinnie glowey lights. Yes, it’s a Burning Man thing. This crew has a couple other art cars parked here in the dirt for maintenance as I paint on container cabins. Six cabins line this yard to eventually house workers during their stay here. This dirt is used to being trampled down by horses. It’s a re-purposed stable at the West end of the inner ranch where the home front is. No vegetation is here, only dust, tons of dust. The horse patties have returned to dried up biblical dust.
The weather is crisp and calm, just right. There’s a wind blowing cool air over me. I keep talking about sleeping out here. Seriously. One’s filled with pillows. My cabin gets pretty hot and never cools down. Sleeping out here on an art car might be just the thing I need. The stars are so luminescent it’s like a soup that you can dip into with your spoon–unlimited depth. New moon is the best night of the month to soak up the milk of the Milky Way.
These container cabins are 40 feet long, each side gets adorned with horses and so far I’m up to like 20 horses in total but some are very small and without detail so they almost don’t count. It’s blue brown and red basically. The short cabins are 20 feet long and those get rented to go out onto the playa for Burning Man which happens about a month from now. The cabin I’m currently working on will be a field office for JB, the owner of this ranch. It’s got the best view to the west. This is number 9.
There was no gas available for me. I didn’t realize the gas cans piled were empty. There’s gas on the ranch in a big tank or two but I don’t have access to those. I can string a cord out from an outlet. This ranch does have power that’s generated by the big diesel genny. Also an array of solar panels generates energy for the ranch. My midnight lights will take power. Energy is rationed here.
The first night I ran out of gas. The second night I decided I could just plug in, skip the gas can fiasco. The second night I had my electrical cords all ready to go and I saw a flashlight out there in the dark by my painting. JB had walked out and he told me that we don’t have the power to spare. OK. I guess that’s that.
I had to cancel my mission but I’m happy to have it all set up and ready to go for another night and trust me, it’s on. This will happen. Choose your battles, as they say. On the ranch we get started on things that might not happen until the next day. The night was not a total failure because I now know what to expect.
It’s a cushion to have it in mind every moment that this could be art. It’s a soft comfort. You just transfer the energies from life into the visuals of a painting. That’s the job, the alchemy.
Or do artists conjure something from nothing? “Creatio ex nihilio”? The energy combines like spines of blue electricity entwined from nowhere. Or maybe it’s more like dithered rays projecting outward from a light house of inspiration? Energy combines in waves, crests and troughs and interference, this is everything.
Every good story needs conflict, I’m told, but it’s the conflict resolution that makes a story rewarding–high resolution. People mix with people bringing new things to life, new life to things. La tee da.
Witness the magnetism of an artist in the depths of obsession when he’s creating. Look on at the intensity of him like a caged animal. It’s all he’s got. It’s all that matters at the moment. Don’t fight his eye of the tiger.
Habitually making pictures is all I’m here to do. It’s not the only aspect of me but it’s my material keystone. My material existence, my creation, is centered on the reflection of daily existence–and the reflection of the reflections. Personal autobiography is my angle. My life with kitchen sink thrown in. Keep watching the vids.
Here’s the sunset live. 11 minutes is a bit surprising how fast it goes bright.
And this one became a favorite instantly. You have to invest a bit of time to get the goods..
I’ve been doing realistic portraits lately. These new canvases are small, eight by ten inches, 9×11, featuring bright solid colored backgrounds behind the heads. I painted Jean Michel Basquiat on a purple grey canvas. Next after him was Georgia O’Keefe on Red and then Pablo Picasso on orange. For now I’ll stick to the artists but I want to do the Dalai Lama and Noam Chomsky eventually as well.
Realism scrutinizes. Practice makes perfect. With these I’m seeing the progress I’ve made. It’s paying off. Each painting progresses often outside of my control. Colors come together as long as you’re methodical about it. I can feel it when it’s right. The brushstrokes dry on their own time usually over the course of a couple days and in between are periods of sticky paint layering. The behavior of paint as the canvas cures is the variable duty action. Get it while it’s hot.
I’ve worked on this one single skill selfishly my whole life and in doing this for me I hope to accomplished something for everyone. To be a painter is to say “I’ve changed. Once again, I’ve changed. Nothing stays the same. We can evolve.”
Bowie’s death inspired a lot in me and still is as I write this. My awareness of ideas felt piqued by his art. These ideas are of the subject of death and transcendence. The Buddhists say we should practice our own death everyday. For me, each portrait is a meditation and this one took me to interesting places as my important figure of creativity passes on early January of 2016.
My meditations with Mr. Bowie’s work has pierced me deeply on the subject of living my art, I kiss it farewell into the world as something I leave behind to outlive me. My art will endure because the paintings cause desire in their audience. Well, I mean they’re supposed to do that and I hope they do. I didn’t give my life to my art, my art has give new life to me, extended, expanded life. Reciprocation. We need each other as creator and audience. And then there’s reinvention like Mr. Bowie. Tune to the flow.
There are the songs which talk of space travel
the courage to move toward the unbound
elaborate on feeling the loneliness of space
being out there all alone in a tin can.
The untethered one gets lost
but at his own command unattached
Left to one’s own device
we create, we build
Finding fast motion was a godsend. Here’s 2 videos, quickly.
Riding the bus across town today, I’m going for canvases. A book of Charles Bukowski’s letters to editors accompanies me. The letters are so personal it touches nicely a nerve to see how he was. I’m sitting in the back enjoying the sights and soaking up this man’s mind. I’ll need to pick up a pen before the art store.
It matters who my heroes are. Who is more “every man” than Bukowski? It tells me what’s important to me. I study the photos of the writer seated at a humble desk facing a wall with plaques, he’s in his underwear and with a drink. Scotch was it? Sacrificing for the art is an important concept and we’ve seen plenty of examples of the wrong way to carry out that notion. Bukowski is one of those who died younger than he should have because of the drink and the smoke which were the comfort he allowed himself. Other things like wives and lovers could go to hell but these two, they would never leave him and his typewriter.
So many of us want to speak for others but that’s not going to get us to the finish line is it? Riding the bus today has me on the subject of collective action and how does a project get carried out? How do humans do big and good things? The like-minded unite, right? People come together in agreement. Perhaps their agreement is centered on something rejected–something their group dislikes–but their aim is to achieve something. The concerted effort is what reins in the change sought after. Some individuality must be sacrificed for the collective and that is a voluntary action. It’s an agreement entered into.
Is this a gift? Is it altruism to enter into this agreement with a group to collectively enact something? Is there personal gain expected from the agreement? If it makes you happy to help the under-served, then this happiness is a fair outcome. It’s a harmonious goal. This is compassion. Win/wins do happen in life.
The only way to make myself a bigger person is to let go of more ‘self’. Debts and balances can’t overshadow what’s right. “You owe me” is not a mindset cohesive to healthy inter-dependence. Healthy co-existence depends upon a sane level of true compassion and compassion is not keeping track.
So often we see a power battle ensue while objectivity evaporates from existence. It’s a subject important in politics, love, and life. All interactions happen in relation to compassion. Some have no compassion at all.
Even Bukowski’s compassion comes through in these letters of his. Most of them are in regard to rejection letters he’d gotten but you can see that literary imagination and courage light him up and he expects these to light others up as well as he accepts his fate, continually. Such is his craft. It’s his gift to the world. Bukowski sacrificed himself, in ways, to his art. I’m grateful.
At the very end of that one you see my just start to paint Bowie, that was the night I learned of his death and started painting.
The next one is painting Bowie but sped up. It’s so much better in fast motion. There will be a part 2 of that theme.
Here’s the previous post, Part 2:
Potentialist Workshop & Gallery is a brick building on 2nd Street in Reno with big picture windows framing 2 front doors. It’s in a very old neighborhood sprinkled with Victorians in various states of maintenance. Fairly forgotten by the regentrification crowd. There’s still rawness in this neighborhood. There’s a walled in daycare right across the street, nice looking, plus mechanic shops and next door are glass workers in their shop. The hospital, Renown, dominates our view from the backyard. The homes right next door feature dirt yard squats filled with young families and tough dogs. We have nice parking off the busy street.
There’s a gallery, workshop with 10 or so studio spaces, and a 40 seat theater. Art all over the place. It’s a fully functional place with a large number of people coming and going here, most are creators of some kind. The gallery and workshop brings lively energy. Many people stop in. Characters, the lot. I like everybody who comes here. Their eyes are open to what this place is and that makes for a nice vibe between us. People are curious here and it’s an unusual place to be in for most. It’s exciting to see where artists create and I’m proud to be one. Playing gallery maiden puts me right in the middle of it all. I meet everyone.
Environment is everything. The informing characteristics from brick plate glass to overcast afternoons and neighborhood bars shade every brushstroke. Every car crash at the 7-11 and altercation in front of the Launderland boils into aromatic broth for my reflections and the art will always be unique to my experience. I hold to the energizing ideas in this very real life.
We create something new together by our combinations and outside of the gallery even. They’re not even thinking about things like art, perhaps, but our paths cross like rocket exhaust trails. Even if it’s not collaboration between us we might influence each other just by being. We live at the same moment in time. I tied my red and grey scarf around my pony tail yesterday, hanging off my head slanted. That might have given somebody something to chuckle over. I made something for them instead of nothing.
Autobiography brings honesty and plainness. In what other form would I narrate? ..or not narrate. Most of my videos have been without words. They’re open to interpretation but it’s mostly just the way it was. The pacing is all about frequency.. the output, but online attention must be maintained. Viewers must be entertained. Editing must happen quickly. Post frequency, you see.
So the week after I took down my show in the gallery I was painting Tesla to the point of being finished and then on to a couple small abstract landscapes. It was cold, hovered over the heater and we’d play music in the studio while the improv people practiced in the theater. Pan and Kelsey had their little baby at Christmas by the way. Axiom is a little handsome guy. His facial expressions are pronounced. He will rule his own art empire some day.
Here’s Post 3 from Potentialist Workshop in Reno, plus Bowie Portrait video Part 1:
In the studio none of the thoughts should seep in through the window seals but they do and with a whistling draft and rustling frames. Through the mist of grey snow showers outside my window I stare toward the new hospital tower’s neon. Renown. Yellow hazy city glows over night. Helicopters take off from the rooftop 3 times a day or more and I kinda’ like the sound. I haven’t lived downtown in awhile. Years. Memories of places I’ve been since then. Scene 1.
I’m in my couch tent of my studio space which is made from a theater curtain, heavy black and an aluminum U shaped ladder. The space heater warms just me in this draped enclosure over me. This workshop building stays pretty cold at night–drafty. The back door is just beyond my curtain. Last night was the first significantly warmer night for a couple weeks. These 12 section windows leak alot of cold but they let glorious light in.
At the curb I’ve been chopping away at the ice in the gutter many afternoons. It tends to solidify to little icebergs and I jump at the chance to break them up like Thor when I get a warm day. Today my work is done, there’s nothing left to clear from the curb. I took care of it. The neighbors, I wonder if they’ve even noticed their gutter is a little clearer. I can’t help myself. Walking up and down this sidewalk every day it has become my trail so I try to make it better. Why not.
Reno streets might feel lifeless but I know its only the cold. Other lifeforms are hopping the curbs with me but we cross paths, often without a nod to each other on the foot commute, just moving. Under the neon, beside the river, occasional awkward exchange. The snow drifts on mountain ridges think it’s all funny, the human drama. What is lonely to an aspen weighted by snow?
I had an art show here, up until January 4th. It was called Small Talk because the genres were from abstractions to portraiture and I wanted them to jive small talk. I put out a strangely large number of videos of me sweeping the gallery for some reason. I was just starting to stream this time around.
I’ve fishbowled like 12 times now. I like to share some edited videos to touch base with folks, let them see my environment. Not much need to explain if it’s all in visuals.
Chickens prefer heavy beats. Day three or so, an art car, The Serpent Queen, was getting carpentry updates while I worked on the paint job of these storage units near the shop on the grounds.
The chicken coop sat not far and people working on their feet were all around and we had music. From where I was, away from the boom box, saws and routers I heard the rooster chiming in with his minimal harmonic chords. The first time the sound was so good, such great timing that it seemed as if it was part of the mix. The next track also featured the rooster’s r-r-rr-rucrrrruhku-u-uuuu and that’s when I was certain that the sound was coming from the chicken coop 100 feet from me. The cock didn’t care for classic rock. I decided I gotta talk to a DJ about this barnyard phenomenon.
It seems a spaceship contraption found a good landing pad behind our place. “That’s the Funk Yeah. It only plays funk out on the playa” I was told. The Funk Yeah was in disrepair and it needed a space mechanic. Ventilation tubes of steel line this thing in a sort of X wing configuration and it has a satellite dish for shade above the driver’s seat. I don’t know. It looks like a Star Wars kinda’ thing, you know,when they were on the desert planet with Jabba–a hover vehicle look like that. Underneath it was a Chevy van with the top chopped and with silver Tattooine embellishments. I wasn’t aware it was a space funk mobile.
Burners have the right idea. The collective knowledge between these ratty dudes is astounding. Over bacon and eggs this morning Douglas, Clown and Ocean were talking about a doomahincky used for movement detection–mercury switches versus some other thing. I don’t know but these guys get together and use their brains to make stuff and this kind of collaboration is what I’m most impressed by. They’ve got the right idea. When they put their minds to it they can build a city. Plus there’s the whole topless women thing. And lasers.