Sleepy Update

Well, it’s been about a week or so and I figured I should probably clue you all in on what’s been happening in the studio and all that. In my art life, as it were.  Give you an update as to how the project is going…

How about I do it in pictures? That’s always fun.

Here’s been the progress on this one, now titled Shekinah:




And here it is, almost finished, although the colors are not as accurate as they are in the top picture:


All I have to do now is stitch the “tet” pattern in the background. I have to wait for the oil paint to dry first though.

Then, remember these two compositional layouts?


doggie trail72

Well they are complete now and became paintings for a brand new series that I am calling my Masonry Collages. They are inspired by the houses that are near the West Entrance of the Joshua Tree National Park.

Guesthouse, 20 x 20 inches. Mixed Media on birch panel.


The House on Doggie Trail, 20 x 20 inches. Mixed Media on birch panel.


When I say “mixed media,” I mean I used that Zinsser Universal Sanding Sealer I spoke about on my other blog, and I fell in love with the stuff! I am never going back to shellac again. I have to thank the good people in the Acrylics Forum for helping me find this stuff. 

I wound up sealing 13 panels with it. (Why not? I had it all set up.)

Once I used the sealer, I was able to use my Nova Color clear acrylic polymer to stick the various pieces of paper and fabrics on here. I was not able to do that when I used the shellac, so I am one happy camper.

Then there’s the oil paint, of course, the colored pencil, and the bits and pieces that should accompany that thar stuff, but overall, it’s a mishmash of I don’t know what ya call it exactly, except for what have you.

So there you have it.

On the video front, I have been making some steps in the right direction there. I have nothing to show you, nor will I be showing any of that along the way (I don’t think. I kinda want it to be a surprise), but I was able to get my first rough storyboard together — kind of. 

Okay, wait. Put it this way…I was able to get the first few not-so-rough panels together of the first act. I suppose the story already has its “rough” completed. It just has never been written down in the physical universe.

To be continued. I’m so tired right now.

Better Now

The rough patches seem to be over. I figured I should announce that. I wanted to wait a little bit to make sure I was really back on track, and I am.

I don’t have much to show, visually so far, except for these composition layouts. This won’t show you much, but if you don’t mind reading and using your imagination, I’d like to explain what’s been happening this last week and a half.

doggie trail72


Now, these don’t look like much right now, but they will be something – hopefully – interesting when I get through with them. They are mixed media pieces: college and paint on birch, obviously, and they actually are taking a fair amount of planning. However, there will still be room for them to take off in an unknown direction once I lay down the basics.

Laying down the basics are what is taking all the planning because the panels I have were already sealed to take oil paint. Now I am going to be using acrylic based mediums and they require a different wood sealant.

Today the humidity is like 50% and I am going to be outside sanding about 12 panels. I’m ready though.

The final paintings will have raw pattern paper, like you see here, painted pattern paper, and fabric. I’m also using pieces of Style Cards, which look a little bit like this:


These style cards are used in garment manufacturing. They go with a grouping of pattern pieces that make up one garment, or one style.

But I digress. That stuff is so uninteresting. I just like using materials from that industry for personal reasons.

Anyway, once I stick all these pieces on the wood, I will also be painting on it as well, and then we’ll see what happens.

These mixed media collage paintings are based on how certain architecture is incorporated into the rock formations and boulders in Joshua Tree around where I was staying on my retreat. Of all the photographs I took out there, these were most interesting to me as far as lines and contours were concerned. I was even thinking of paintings while I took the pictures, but had forgotten about it until recently.

Meanwhile, what was bothering me, or upsetting me over the last couple of months was the fact that I have been inspired to pursue several subjects regarding my experience in the desert. I felt like I had to chose one.

I came to the conclusion that I should probably just create as I please and see what comes to be in a few more weeks.

I could  have a flippant attitude, like if wind up having a mish-mosh of work after months and months, then so be it. But that’s not me.

Because at the moment, I am working in three different directions! That’s a lot. Too many. I know, But I’m going to go with it because I am interested in all three for now.

I say all that, and that’s not even counting the movie! Ha!

The thing is, I feel that given the time, I feel like I could have it under control…I just need a plan. I’m really not good without having a plan. And the plan is to finish at least two to three paintings in each series and then reevaluate what I am going to do. I feel I can complete this in four more weeks or so. Then I will see what I have.

Right now, I have two completed in the Kabbalah/Rock series. (I’m going to have to name these series soon!) I also have two more partially done.

I have two architecture pieces started.

And remember that terrible landscape? I may have talked about it before. Well, after many hours of labor on that thing to save it and get it to a point where I was finally happy with it, I finally succeeded. And now I want to do more.

JT Landscape, 2014. 16 x 20 inches.

So I have one of those.

And none of these look alike.

Here are the completed Kabbalah pieces:

Firmament, 2014. 34 x 34 inches.


Can you even tell these were all done by the same artist?

We’ll see how it goes.

Rough Patches

It’s no secret that I’ve been experiencing some rough patches lately. I guess it had to get worse before it could get better. I’m just waiting for it to get better now.

Still messing with this piece:


And I don’t want to speak too soon and jinx it, but yesterday I started to feel better with the near completion of this new painting that I’m trying to find a name for now:


If anything, it feels like a relief more than anything else – like a burden lifted.

You see, I took this detour for a couple weeks and worked on a little landscape, which – I’m sorry – I just can not show you, and the more I worked on it, the more it sucked.

I’m not used to not being able to rescue a painting if it goes south. I’m really not. I just can’t let go. So what did I do? I didn’t let go! I just kept working on it and working on it and working on it until it was an absolute monstrosity. And not in a good way either. There is nothing good about it. But I just couldn’t allow my precious time to have been wasted and throw it in the scrapper.

Can you believe me?

Well, maybe there’s a lesson it this somewhere, but I haven’t leaned it yet.

In the meantime, I have spent a lot of time in therapy trying to get to the bottom of it and I know I have uncovered quite a bit of it. You’re not going to like this, but it has a lot to do with the Exodus Project. I’ve been stressing myself out about it! Way too much.

It seems that I keep thinking that I have to create work that is going to fit into a “theme,” instead of just allowing myself to work on whatever comes naturally. I mean, I shouldn’t worry so much since Joshua Tree is on my mind. Kabbalah is on my mind. I’m even doing a kabbalah class right now at my shul. (It’s hella interesting, too!) I’d think that stuff would inevitably reveal itself in the work.

But then I worry: what if it doesn’t? Then What? Will the world end? Of course not. But will there be a cohesive show next year?

Oh the pressures of being an artist.

On the bright side, since I have realized this stuff, I’ve created the above piece, quickly and easily. I’ve also been drawing – a LOT. New and strange ideas are coming and I am starting to like myself again.

I wasn’t liking myself very much at all there for a bit. It was sad, and sad.

Put it this way, I am learning to like my work. I’ve always had the trouble of liking other people’s art a lot more than I like my own. That’s why my house is filled with other people’s art. I don’t hang my own art in my house. Just a couple of pieces, but 50 others are by artists I love — not counting the ones in storage that I don’t have enough wall space for.

But instead of being sad that I don’t paint like other artists that I like so much, I am learning to accept the way I paint, while also branching out and experimenting. I must try to paint out of my comfort zone. That’s just something I will always always try to do. But to think that one day I’m just going to wake up and have a similar hand to XYZ Smith is ridiculous.

That’s actually a cool artist’s name. Maybe I should change my name to XYZ Smith.

Isn’t That Enough?

So it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’m sorry about that. So much has happened, yet so little of the tangible to show for it. That leaves me with trying to explain more of the un-explainable.

Weeks ago, I thought I finished Firmament. Well, I kind of did. Never before (well maybe a select few times) in all of my painting life have I gone back to a painting after I have deemed it finished only to un-deem it again and continue to muss with it. But that happened.

You probably can’t tell, but here it is now, ever-so-slightly different:


What happened?

Remember I told you about all that self-doubt? Well it really took over me.  Maybe it wasn’t so much self-doubt, but indecision.

I began this piece with journaling on the pattern pieces and I could never get off the fence about how much of that I wanted to reveal in the final painting. That was the problem here. And because I couldn’t decide that, that’s what was stopping me from moving forward with the rest of the paintings.

In this case though, I covered up the words and sketches too much to bring them back no matter how much I tried to carefully brush and rub it with turpentine. The more I did that, the more it began to eat through the layer of polymer that is between the paper and the oil paint. It started to rough up the paper, not bring up the journaling.

So, I brought it back as much as I could, and the painting sat there while I wondered if the background was competing with the foreground. Because essentially, I just wanted the painting to be a big circle on a white background. I wanted everything in the background to be as subtle as possible.

But wanty wanty, cyann getty, getty getty no wanty, which happens all the time in painting – painting abstracts anyway. And most of the time, it’s the painting that will tell you which way it wants to go. You are not always the dictator. What am I talking about? You are never the dictator. It’s a collaboration between you and the painting itself.

Well, I forgot about all of that, and I just couldn’t move forward.

You see, by now, I really do have all the paintings honed in. I know what they are basically going to look like. I spent a good portion of my time in Joshua Tree drawing the same thing over and over. In fact, in terms of “sketching,” all I did was fill 6 x 6 inch sketchbooks with colored rocks.

Yes, rocks.

They all more or less look like this:



or this:


It gets really repetitive, but you get the idea, right?

Anyway, I have finally moved on and I am settling on at least trying a few new pieces in both directions.

Well, actually, it’s funny I should say that…

I started this one with the intention of not journaling on it at all. In fact, I didn’t. I mean, I did on one, but that was before I made the decision:


but I have been journaling on the pieces since I put them onto the canvas! This is a near impossible feat because now there is polymer on top of the paper. How have I been doing it? It’s not easy. And it’s not looking as authentic as they are supposed to since I didn’t do them in the first place, but I found that if I do them in micron pens, it can be done. I just can’t use any pencils or stamps. It just won’t take to the polymer.

So now I’ll have to fix them once I’m done with Krylon fixative, then give it another thin coat of polymer, then I can paint on them. If I swipe it with polymer now, or even with my hand, that micron pen is going to smear.

And so, that was all tangible stuff. But what else have I been doing?

Getting my video organized — in my head, that is.

I met with Jonathan, half of my editing team, and we had a great meeting about how, basically, the sky is the limit with my film. That is, within reason. Within budget. But budget is not going to stop anything vision-wise I, or we, can come up with.

Okay, I just did a search on this blog for Jonathan and see that I never did mention just who Jonathan and Susan are exactly. I said I wasn’t going to reveal their full names because, back then, I wasn’t sure if I had them on board.

I’m so sorry I have not linked you to their websites because I have known they were on board for a long while now.

Jonathan Nesmith and Susan Holloway.

Like I had said before, I have known Jonathan since I was 15 or 16 year old, and he has been with Susan for the past 14 years. I’m pretty sure the three of us are going to work well together on the film since I already know that Jonathan and I work great together on music.

The film, I’m pretty sure, is going to be a kind of surreal journey about an abstracted giraffe that goes to the desert and comes back a bug.

But don’t hold me to that.

I also made a few more key decisions about the actual installation. I did finally buy the tent. It’s the orange and grey one. It’s the only one that is going to fit into the project space.


And instead of the movie being projected onto a projection screen, it will be playing on a small, old television connected to a car battery. There will be some lawn chairs to sit on and people will feel like they are really camping.

Of course, I have already blown my budget, but that’s okay. I will figure it all out. I need a few more things and Jonathan and Susan are being pals about their fee. There are just plenty of things I didn’t account for, like telling everyone that the shipping was “on me.” Or things that just added up like art supplies I didn’t think I needed that I did. I’m going to need things like sandbags to keep the tent in place in the project space, lots of film developing, and I most definitely need to go back to Joshua Tree and pick up shots I missed because of the crazy winds I experienced there the first time around.

I’m also incorporating photographs into the show. I’m pretty sure. We’ll see if they will look good with the paintings, but I’ll save the aluminium printing for the last thing, and I will also be applying for a Durfee grant later this year to see if I can maybe get funding for that. It’s just that I got some beautiful photos like these:


Printing them on aluminum is really the only way to go to keep that vibrancy.

I recently got a small commission, which will tide me over for now, so I’m not too worried…yet.

Okay, I think that’s it for now.

Wasn’t that enough?

Oh the Places You’ll Go (Cross Post From

That’s the title of my favorite Dr. Suess book. It’s the last one he created before he died. I remember rushing to the bookstore on the day it was released. I read it right there on the floor in the isle of the Walden’s near my house – and back then – I even felt guilty to be going to a “chain” bookstore to get it, but Dutton’s wouldn’t have it for another week.

I remember crying on the floor, sitting cross-legged with the book in my lap upon reading the last page.

Later I bought one of the special editions of the book that’s bound in linen with a matching slipcase. I hardly had the money to do that at 22.

The reason I revere it so highly is because it is not just some children’s book, like Green Eggs and Ham – my previous favorite. That was the book I made my babysitter read to me every single night (that I was being babysat that is) before I went to sleep. I could hear it again and again, never getting tired of it. I’d pretend I had never heard it before. I knew how to do that sort of thing when I was six.

Oh the Places You’ll Go is profound, and I wished that Theodore would have written it when he was younger, but the wisdom of the book came when it came. Unfortunately, I was already grown up when it came out. If I had been able to read it at six years old over and over again – instead of Green Eggs and Ham – I would be a different person today. That I know.

But luckily, I was still young enough for this book to have a great impact on my life. I still read it from time to time to remind me how to navigate life in the simplest terms. It will help you do that. No kidding!

I bring all this up because I should have broken this book out about a week ago when I was having the dilemma with my alef painting. You don’t even wanna know what I went through.

I know a lot of people think that painting and making art should be all about joy and happiness. I mean, why would you contribute to an endeavor that caused you such turmoil and grief at times?

Ha! I say.

Those people don’t know artists. Working artists anyway.

I have fantasies about retiring one day and becoming a hobby  artist, which is pretty funny. I don’t think it can be done. I don’t think it’s in my blood — painting leisurely. I probably thrive on the struggle. Maybe because I always come out the other end of it a little more learned. A little more evolved. At least I am in my own mind. But isn’t that all that counts?

I haven’t written about my progress on this painting for a while because I got myself into such a muck that I didn’t want to resurface until I could find my way out of it on my own.

I had to make hard decisions in the midst of some deafening insecurities, which actually happens with me quite often. Surprise surprise! An artist with plaguing self-doubt. Have you ever known one of those before? Or do you only know the overly self-confident kind? News flash — those guys are even more insecure. Not that you couldn’t have guessed. You guys are smart enough people. All three of my readers are very intelligent, so I don’t need to explain this stuff.

Admitting, publicly, that you are riddled with self-doubt is probably not the best PR, but I’ve been able to get by with sharing my vulnerabilities so far without getting too  much flack.

Having eyes on me could have contributed to the stress of knowing where to go next with this painting. By that I mean exposing myself and every step of this work on the blog. I wouldn’t doubt it, but that was why I had to make a disappearance for a week, so you understand.

Last I left off, as far as you knew, we were here:


At this point, I was still liking it. Still excited, and was not stressed out in any way. However, it was not finished. This was not the point where I would ever think to walk away just because I liked it. Painting is not that simple. Especially painting something abstract.

I spend far more many hours looking than I do painting. It’s all about looking, and thinking, deciding, and more looking.

You’ve probably heard this before, and it’s going to sound like some “art speaky” cliche, but it’s really the painting that dictates where it wants to go.

You can have all kinda intentions about where YOU want it to go, and that’s just too damn bad. You’ll just have to throw all of your dreams for your painting out the window because that’s when this happens:


That’s when I went crazy.

I know, not much of a difference, right? But to me, this was all wrong. I didn’t even want to show it on the blog until I figured out what I wanted to do about it.

All I could really do is look. Look and think and sort of ask it what it wanted. You have to let go of your control. I was trying to control it and look what happened: it started to look controlled. 

Maybe you don’t see that, but I sure did. It looked controlled, and tidy, and anal, and deliberate and suddenly what was originally free became something I wanted to bury in the dirt. Just in these slight changes.

So I took a few days off and just glanced at it every so often. (That means I obsessively looked at it every half hour.)

Then I took one real day off from it.

The next day I finished it. Just like that.

First it was hard, and then it was easy. That’s the way it goes.

So after a month, and after all this time, all this fussing, all these paths and talk of significance, this painting is finally completed!


It’s called Firmament.



The Alef Painting: The Saga Continues


I am still working on the alef piece, which isn’t going to be called that. I’ll think of something eventually, but I put a couple more thin layers of white on it before I began to finish stitching it all up.

Through the front…


And then the back.


After I sewed the edges of the patterns (which is where I think we last left off from) and, by the way, there’s quite a bit of waiting time between these layers of oil paint…


I finally started the very basic composition on this with some oil pastels.


From here on out I’ll be painting color and blending — all the funnest parts, and the most crucial parts too. It’s like perfecting mark making. Or trying to anyhow.

And here is the last shot of it from yesterday. I’ll be adding the blues tomorrow.


At the same time, I have been working on rewards. And as I have said before, I have more pieces of art than I have people to reward (some people get multiple things), but I am now glad to say that out of  58 people, I only have 16 more people left to reward. I got a lot done in a couple of months actually.

I am also working on two other paintings. I know I said I would be working on the largest one next, but I just barely started “Tet” – a 20 x 20 inch canvas, and a new abstracted landscape – a 16 x 20 inch canvas: something completely new and experimental for me!

I have absolutely no idea if it will turn out the way I dreamed, but we shall see. I’ll keep you posted, but you can not see it in progress images on it. However, if the experiment works out as planned, then perhaps I’ll let everybody in on the next one. How’s that? Sound like a deal?

I will be taking a few progress shots of the small “tet” piece soon, but we won’t be following it as closely as we have with the alef painting. I don’t want to bore you all. I’ve only slopped some acrylic paint on the 20 inch square canvas, and cut the pattern pieces that will form the letter tet shape.


I cut these patterns with the same shears I used when I worked with my dad back in the day. Then they get notched before the staples come out. After that, they’ll be ready to become Journal drawings.

All that so they can be stuck to the canvas to be mostly covered in paint. Why? Why, oh why?

I guess because of the significance and the fact that I want them to subtly show through, but not so’s you can read or see them exactly. I like that look.

I know, I’m weird. That’s a lot of work for something that’s going to be covered up. I suppose I shouldn’t write anything too serious on them, right? ha!

The thing is though, it’s a good way to bury my secrets into the paintings. It’s my way of putting blood or guts into them and no one knows what in there but me. You might be able to make out a work here and there, but you’d never be able to see the whole thing. They are like whispers from ghosts. A child ghost mostly.

And the main significance. Well, I can tell you. I can tell you the significance to all this if you want, but I am such a big advocate of all of my art being for the viewer’s interpretation. Even this work too. I always feel like if I tell viewers what it all means to me, it’s like taking away their meaning and I don’t want to ever do that. My meaning and your meaning are never in conflict! My art means what you think it means. I’m serious.

It’s just while I’m making it, I have my own relationship with it. When it’s finished, then everyone else has their relationship with it. It’s not really mine anymore.

But anyway, these Hebrew/kabbalah pieces are really about me leaving my past. I want to stop being so affected by my past and just leave it there – and live in the present. That’s truly my exodus.

It was the purpose of my meditation in Joshua Tree, the studying I’ve been doing, the process behind these paintings, and the new compositions on top of the Hebrew letters.

To go on (and on), The Journal pieces that make up the letters on the painting are like my subconscious interpretations that I gleaned from my studies from the letter and what the mystical significance means to me on a personal level. And since they are totally unplanned, a lot of cognitive experiences happen while I’m making them. I never know what I will write or draw on those patterns.

So all of this kabbalah significance has gone into the support of the painting; the foundation for the main composition – which has more to do with my Joshua Tree experience. The compositions, in a nutshell, have to do with the giant rock formations near the National Park.

Maybe it was the meditating, or just where my frame of mind was at the time I was there, but those rocks are so big, and I felt so small in comparison. There was just something about that. Something spiritual and humbling.

In the alef painting, specifically, if you go back to my first day in Joshua Tree, I was studying this letter and I had a lot of realizations about the Firmament as it could be applied to the Exodus with Moses and the burning bush. Maybe it was far fetched, but I have not stopped thinking about it since the first day I was out in the desert.

Anyway, as it applies to the Firmament – this is how I chose my basic palette for the alef painting. I probably could have made the darker water on the bottom instead of the top, but it looked better to have a cobalt blue up top alone with the yellow, and then I’ll be mixing a turquoise blue into the bottom half of the rock formation.

Okay, I just erased about two paragraphs on even MORE significance on this color palette, but it was so biblical that I just couldn’t stand just how biblical it was. So I’m going to end off here before I embarrass myself even further.

Pre-stitching the Canvas

So, Last I left the underpainting sessions of the alef painting was like this:


and I said that this was the last layer of translucent paint I’d use before I would start stitching it. But before I stitch it, I first have to take a pencil and very lightly draw the stitch marks on them. I didn’t warn you about that part. Maybe because I forgot. But this is how I do.

Now, you may think I am doing all this the hard way, or being redundant, but just bear with me, or rather, don’t give me any crap because this is just how I do it. It’s a meditative process for me. I’m letting you into my studio here for Christ sake. Don’t judge me. 😉


Once I make these little marks all around the edges of the patterns, I have to use a long steel push pin on the edges of each line.


This is time consuming and sometimes it loosens the canvas just a little, but nothing that a spray of water can’t fix. If you spray water to the back (or the front of an unused) canvas, it will tighten up when it dries.

I find that pushing this very push pin through the front like this, number one, punctures easier than anything else I have tried. That includes all kinds of awls, pins, etc. And it doesn’t rip up the paper upon pulling it back out too badly. I mean, just the right amount really. It’s nice to have a little of that puncture texture.

I mostly puncture both the top and the bottoms of the lines, so I can see where I am going from the back of the canvas.


The light shines through the other side in all that shadow I have to work in back there. It’s hard enough to maneuver around the stretcher/support bars (as you can see), let alone not having a big enough hole, or any hole for that matter. It makes the stitching from the back go so much faster because I can see what the hell is going on.

When will I start stitching? I have no idea. I haven’t even finished poking holes. I just did a few so I could show you. It’s hot out there and I’m not going to work today. I’m tired and sore all over. Not feeling my best, and tomorrow is full with non-art related business.

But the wheels in my head will be a-turnin’.



I have been slowly putting light, transparent layers on the aleph painting between working on various Kickstarter rewards. I think this is where I left off last we spoke.


Then I said I was going to add some beige, which I did.


I know that looks like a mess, but bear with me. This is just how I get started. I’m not doing this with every painting (showing you the process), so pay attention.

Then I started to add some transparent colors. This is a really really light raw sienna with white:


And then some more white and a tad bit of cobalt blue (but you can hardly see it):


Then, this is the last white coat before I start stitching it.


As you can see, there is an “oopsie” on there from another painting. I’m going to leave it there as a “happy accident.”

Two, maybe three more layers to go now, but only one more over the patterns after I stitch it. Stitching takes a while, but I’ll take a few shots as I go along so you can see how I do it.

Studio Babble: Cross Post from Carol’s Bloggie

Just been working in the studio on and off. Thought I’d say hello to my blog.


It took me some time to make the five journal sketches for the aleph painting. Seems pretty silly to spend the time when I’m going to be covering them up with paint! But I’ll admit, I did sorta keep that in mind while I was doing them. It was in the back of my head anyway.



I think they still turned out looking the same as always, but at first it was a little bit hard to get back into the swing of things. They always say…or someone said, inspiration will come to you, but it has to find you working. Or something like that. And so it did. After the second or third piece, it was like I was doing journal drawings everyday again, and it made me want to start that practice up again too.

A couple of the drawings have to do with the project and a few of them don’t. One of them is about snakes and Sleestacks for some reason. Don’t ask. I have no idea where this stuff comes from, but I’d like to do more, more, more.

Oh, if only more time existed on the Earth.

So, I stuck those drawings onto my canvas. This is a 34 x 34 inch canvas and I used a clear, matte acrylic polymer made by Nova Color when sticking these things on – I use it when sticking anything on to my canvases. It’s pretty thick and pasty stuff, sorta like cake frosting. It goes on white and dries clear, as you can see. That manila paper I’m using is #125, so I do need strong stuff that’s going to brush on evenly to prevent air bubbles and such. This polymer stuff is great for collage.  You should look into it if you do collage.


I have to say, when I shot this picture wider, all it did was distract me. I mean, once I downloaded it into Photoshop. All the little things in the background started to freak me out – the little things that needed to be done. I started to obsess on them.


A. Like this box of photos. They don’t belong in the studio. They are supposed to be put into albums. I meant to do that in memory of my aunt, but I just don’t have the time for “extra curricular” activities these days.

B. That’s a box filled with Ethereal Research Laboratories Etherecals, Bacterribles, and Imaginodds that still need to be shoved into Erlenmeyer flasks.

C. A Blick return I need to pack up and bring to UPS.

D. An older work that needs special packing because of the pins sticking out of it. It needs to be packed up and put away before it starts to get dusty.

E. Those are two small white panels I’m supposed to do pin drawings on. They are pending commissions!

F. I need the top to that. I just need to fish it out and stick it back on there. I’m pretty sure I know where it is.

G. OMG! How long has THIS been like this?! This painting has the weight of a few of the same size paintings leaning up against it. Did I explain that correctly? It is facing the wrong way. The canvas side should be facing away from the table so that the weight distributes evenly. Now I have to move it all and it’s a bigger pain than it might seem.

Here’s the thing with this space. Pretty much everything needs to be put away in its place in order for me to have the space to work. I’ve found that I can’t really work on more than one painting at a time unless I want to be up to my knees in clutter – which I’ve done before when I’m really into things. I suppose I can let it ride. But I like to start with a clean slate.

H . That painting is white (obviously), and needs to be wrapped up and put away. (I had it out for a studio visit.)

Well, that’s what happened when I downloaded this picture from my camera. It sucks to be me.

Anyway, I put the first very light layer of white over the drawings, but you can hardly tell.


Later today I’ll probably do a really light beige in some areas and see what happens there.

I should do it before the day ends because tomorrow I’ll be receiving the Dan prints and will most likely be working on painting those new À la Dan Kabbalah and Special 16 Dans.

Process: TMI

I’m pretty sure this will wind up being a cross-post both at the esart blog and the Exodus blog since I’m going to be talking about, and boring you on the process on the paintings that are about to come…

As you might know, I still haven’t put paint to canvas. This has been depressing, yes. However, it has given me lots and lots of time to think and plan. Not always a good thing, but in this case it’s kind of great since I need to be careful about building the foundation/surface to paint the spontaneous on top of. It’s like the best of both worlds really. I get to be a control freak about the under layer, and then I can let my freak flag fly on the top layer!

Now, there are a dozen reasons why I haven’t began the process. I’m really not procrastinating. Ask any artist and they will tell you that almost 99% of the work happens in our heads. The follow through is the easy part – sometimes.

A while back, and even in my Kickstarter story, I mentioned that I have a whole “sketching process.” Well, it’s not that it’s “so” complicated or anything, it’s just that I have a few different approaches. It depends on which sketchbook I use, that’s all. But if I’m working on the Journal Project, that is a completely different animal all together. Overall, it’s not like I do a rain dance or something intense like that.

maywall2The Journal Project is kind of intense though. It has the most ritual anyway. And as random and as stream-of-consciousness as it is, it has the most “rules.”

I got these rules from working in the garment industry. Traditionally, you can’t mark a master pattern with anything but black, red, blue, and sometimes green, ink. Pencil is okay for notes, but not for anything permanent. And certain colors mean specific things: industry standards.

Every pattern is to be stamped with a style number over the size with a line that separates the two. That’s to be in black ink. Then it should be indicated whether it is 1,2,3, or 4 self. Once in a blue moon it is 5-self.  That’s how many layers of fabric will ultimately be cut. All of that that is marked in black.

I don’t have a style number stamp anymore. My dad got rid of all his marking supplies at some point and I don’t know why. Probably because I told him that I really wanted them for art and to please save them for me.  So her probably threw them away. He was kind like that.

Instead of having such a stamp made for myself (they are truly pricey), I just write a random style number in with the thickest black pen I have handy. That is supposed to be the biggest thing on there. And they are not as random as they might seem, yet my system is not hard to figure out either.

The color blue usually indicates that the pattern is a lining, and red usually means they are button hole markers. Green is rare and I think it’s only for very large patterns, like a complicated jacket with a lot of pieces where differentiation is required, like different fabrics.

I obviously do not keep to any of these rules because I’m not making “real” patterns that are going out for manufacturing. I do use stamps though, just not industry stamps. I have some Hebrew alphabet stamps, and some bugs, and a few others, but I don’t always use them.

Mostly, I cut a pattern by hand, notch it, then, I write or draw whatever is in my head at that very moment. They are completely unplanned and uncensored. Sometimes they make absolutely no sense, and sometimes I am apparently angry at the curator at such-and-such museum for how she spoke to me on the phone. I do not hold back. I could probably get myself into trouble with people in the art world or even friends if someone were to actually stand around and read every single one of these when they’re installed.

They are installed with 50-100 drawings at a time, depending on the space. Whatever looks good.

So that’s the Journal Project.

Then there is my drum set sketch pad, which is nearly finished now. I think I have less than five sheets left in there.


This was a gift from my friend Kelvin Bufkin. He also collects my work and is a really nice person too.

I’ve used this book on and off because I like it so much, I didn’t want it to “end.” It’s the perfect size, and  it’s been good luck too! I only use my trusty Space Pen in it for fast sketches, and a good many of them have wound up to be paintings, or still will be.


I also use this pen strictly for my little pocket-sized moleskin notebook.



I keep this thing by me at all times, even by my head while I sleep!

Then there’s my Eye-book, a sketchbook method I learned from Ellie Blankfort that changed every way I have thought about art.

I have disclosed a lot about this method, but I can’t disclose any more than I already have or else it is like giving the farm away for free. I should respect Ellie’s business. I mean, I could ask her. She’d probably say, “go ahead! blog all about it,” because she is gracious that way, but that’s not the point.

It’s not just the way you “do” this sketchbook that matters, it was the way you, or I rather, have been counseled though it by Ellie. That is really the key ingredient. The relationship I have with Ellie is what makes the sketchbook work the way it does.



By the way, the above drawing became the bottom painting:


Which happens sometimes.

The Eye-book above is from last year and the one I am using now is square, which has been exciting since I love squares (uhh obviously!) — most all of my paintings are square.

So, now that you know my sketching processes, I want to talk to you about the under layer of these new paintings I’m about to do. I feel like I have them totally figured out, but they are going to be time consuming. Once I tell you, I’m going to have to show you, and if I don’t show you, that means I’m officially procrastinating!

Not really. I am working on these paintings, just not with paint yet. I’ve had to trace out about 30 different pattern shapes into Photoshop so I can move them around on the screen instead of all over the studio – because I just don’t have the room in there. I’m trying to fix them into Hebrew letters, and this was the easiest way for me to do it.

Well, while doing this – because I traced out pieces from the Journal Project for the shapes – I realized that using journal pieces instead of plain pieces would look way, way more interesting, even though I had planned on covering it with paint. Instead, I can just cover it a little more translucently.

Despite the fact that no one would ever be able to read or even see the words or the sketches, it’s still going to look better. However, this is going to take a lot more work – more work than I had originally bargained for.

PLEASE bear in mind that this is a PHOTOSHOP mock-up, not a painting, but this is the gist of what I am going for, in essence:


So, for now, that’s as close as I can relay my vision as I possibly can. I hope I was able to explain it right without putting you all to sleep.

But wait! There’s more reason why I haven’t started this yet – since I’ve only figured out that I am going to make the pattern pieces Journal style on Sunday.

Yesterday I called Nova Color to find out if the transparent medium that I usually use to adhere the pattern paper to the canvases could actually be used as a sealant for my birch wood panels. I’d like to see if I could maybe do some of these on the panels as well.

This has been tricky business now – since I am not used to going this way with my panels. I have always  sealed them with a shellac/DH alcohol mixture, then painted over that in oil and kept a lot of the wood showing.

Right now, the backs and sides on most of the ones I have are already sealed. Some are even fully sealed, so I’ll have to sand the surfaces down on those. Either that or just not stick anything to them. Just paint them as I normally do. But I spent the weekend trying to research how to deal with this whole thing because I want to use a transparent acrylic support. I’m just not exactly sure I need it to be transparent. I mean, why? Am I going to let the wood show through on these new paintings? Am I abandoning all that? I need to decide. Can I let go of that beautiful wood grain?

Maybe I should just start with a canvas.

Another thing I realized about sticking the pattern paper to the panels in particular, I obviously can’t sew through the panels like I can the canvases. I am going to have to stitch the paper before  I stick them onto the panels. This is so I can have thread stitched around the outside of the patterns.

In essence, that’s really the same amount of work – the stitching – it’s just that one will be through the canvas – where I have to walk back and forth (from the front to the back of the easel), and the other – where I have to hand stitch paper in my lap or over a table. Makes no dif to me really. Actually, I prefer the paper stitching. I’ll get to sit more.

But doesn’t it sound like doing these on panels all in all are a pain in the ass? I already know it’s going to work perfectly on a canvas. We’ll see, right?

Are you asleep yet? Wake up!!!