The Waiting Room

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The Waiting Room, 2017.  95″ tall x 160″( edition of 1 ) to 31″ tall x 53″ wide ( edition of 12)

Transition

Recently a friend was describing an NPR Radio Lab episode(Afterlife season 6, episode 2 http://www.radiolab.org/story/91680-after-life/ ) he heard, which was about death. In the episode, a writer and scientist was talking about three deaths and a waiting room. The story, as my friend told it to me, grabbed my attention; I immediately thought it would be an interesting art piece.

A few days later, I was listening to Radio Lab when that very episode was rebroadcast. I was struck by the coincidence, and struck again by the concept and the possibilities for imagery that it conjured.   I ordered the book by neuroscientist David Eagleman,, where this tale of three deaths and a waiting room originated. The book, SUM: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, is a collection of his essays which explore what the afterlife might be like. All of the stories are well written and immensely creative. But it was  Metamorphosis, that had aired on Radio Lab, that I found myself still wanting to pursue.

Metamorphosis is about the process of waiting to transition, and then transitioning, to the afterlife. In the story, after we die we go to a waiting room until our name is called. The wait can be quick, or it can take a very long time. Once called, we go through a door, behind which is a mystery.

When we experience a loss, death of a loved one, loss of a job, not getting a promotion, an unexpected change in a significant relationship, what do we do with this disappointment or loss?  Do we spend any time being still, or consciously waiting to see what we want to do next?  Often, where we will go after loss is a mystery.

How we deal with loss, sadness, or change differs from person to person. Some get busy and distract themselves, others sink into deep sadness, others become angry, others simply deny their feelings. It’s rare to find the person who consciously waits and listens for a new direction.

Carl Jung said, “ We cannot change anything until we accept it.” Pema Chodron says, in her book, When Things Fall Apart, “We think the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things really don’t get solved. They come together and they fall apart.  Then they come together and fall apart again…The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” And Jeanette Winterson, in  The World and Other Places: Stories, wrote, “ In the space between chaos and shape, there is another chance.”

The waiting process is hard for me, as it is for most people I know.  It is this conscious waiting process, however, that is vital, that, if given a chance, will allow us to walk through the next door with openness and curiosity.  link to full story here

The components of “TRANSITION”:

For the left side of the piece, I used a photograph that I took of a man who seemed to be in front of every painting I wanted to look at when I was last at the Museum of Modern Art, in NYC.  Now he IS the art. 

The clock on the wall is from my home, and is a reminder to be mindful of our time and how we use it.  Below the man’s feet is a poem by the poet Marie Howe titled What The Living Do.  see link here for Ms Howe’s poem and an amazing interview.

For the Waiting Room section of the piece, I posed and photographed three people.  The face of the woman to the right belongs to a mannequin in a shop window.

The art in the background of the piece is another collage that I created for the purpose of this piece.  It is of a man searching, or on a journey.

The writing on the wall is from the three sources already referenced above: Carl Jung, Pema Chodron and Jeanette Winterson.

The diagram on the floor is a black hole diagram that may also be seen as a mandala.

The magazines on the floor, from left to right are, Thoughtful Waiting which has the image of a Nuxalk Indian illustration from 1865.  This illustration signified transition to the Nuxalk.

The next is Man in Chair from one of my earlier collages, and the next is a photo of the George Washington bridge in NY that I took a few years ago. The magazine is titled Bridge Symbolism.

The magazine to the far right is titled Just Sit There. Far from just sitting there, the cover shows a woman on a horse juggling.  It is based on a funny teaching, attributed to various sources, an old friend of mine used all of the time, “ Don’t just do something, sit there.”

The writing on the newspaper has a 1582 alchemy illustration of man in transformation and writing from the Jungian psychologist, James Hollis.

Finally, the man to the right is a friend who often models for me. The sky is meant to reflect possibility.

The writing surrounding him is from the Tao, and the gold stars in the sky are actually illustrations of the Higgs-Boson “God “ Particle.  The other stars, the color in the sky, and all of the color throughout the piece comes from photos I have taken of paint on train cars, sidewalks, splattered paint, and weathered walls.

Carl Jung said, “ We cannot change anything until we accept it.  Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”

Upcoming Exhibits in 2017

Ormond Art Museum and Gardens, Ormond Beach, Florida.

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Reflections on Self and Society, Solo Exhibit, Artist Talk and Opening on March 16. Dates of show are March 16-April 22, 2017
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Center of Excellence Visual and Performing Arts, West Loop Gallery, Houston Community College, Houston, Texas.

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The Struggle to Evolve Before the End of Time, Solo Exhibit, Center of Excellence Visual and Performing Arts, West Loop Gallery, Houston Community College, Houston, Texas.  April 27 – June 22, 2017
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The Arts Company, 5th Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee

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Understanding Contemporary Relationships, Solo Show at the Arts Company, June, 2017. Downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

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 Artist-in-Residence for The Gathering at Keystone College

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July 14-16, 2017 I will be Artist in Residence at The Gathering at Keystone College. The theme will be …ways to find common ground among bitter rivals in religion, politics, ethics, race, and the arts and sciences that have deeply divided America.

http://thegatheringatkeystone.org/schedule/

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Solo Exhibit, Arts at the Airport, Nashville International Airport, Sept 4, 2017- Feb 25, 2018

ABOUT ARTS AT THE AIRPORT

 

 

Created in 1988 by the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA), Artat the Airport is an ever-growing, ever-changing showcase of cultural diversity and creative talent in Tennessee. The terminal and surrounding facilities at Nashville International Airport were designed to incorporate rotating public art exhibits and permanent acquisitions.

The art in image above is not mine, but from a previous exhibiting artist.  

Discovery of Choice

 

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The Discovery of Choice, inkjet on aluminum, 120″ x 180″, 2016 ( see bottom of page for more sizes and pricing )

I was driving across the west last year listening to one of my favorite NPR podcasts, On Being. During one particular episode, host Krista Tippett was talking with the poet Marie Howe about life, poetry, and all things spiritual and psychological. I will confess that I had never heard of Marie Howe, but I was taken immediately with her manner of self-exploration, her charming self-deprecation, and her wit and wisdom. Her ability to link her brother’s death from AIDS, her religion, and everyday mundane things like spilled coffee and a mustard sandwich, was impressive and captivating.

During the interview, Ms. Howe described finding a circle that someone had drawn on the sidewalk. The words “step inside for happiness” were written outside the circle, and “Happiness Here” was written inside the circle. I love–and agree with–the concept that we make a choice to determine our mood or state of well- being. I immediately saw an image for an art piece in my mind, in which people were standing around a box drawn on the ground, trying to decide the ramifications of stepping inside it. The box was surrounded by the word “fear.” Other people were looking away, and up, at ladders* and doors. I held onto this image in my head until this past winter, when I created the art piece.

Discovery of Choice is clearly a meditation and examination of the role we all play in deciding how we are going to live in our world. The piece asks whether we are present for our lives, and if we understand that the choices we make create and shape our lives and, by extension, our world. As the happiness circle drawn on the sidewalk by an anonymous philosopher-artist reminds us, even our mood and state of mind are, at least in part, a choice.

To listen to the conversation between Krista Tippett and Marie Howe, click on this link.. http://www.onbeing.org/program/the- poetry-of-ordinary-time-with-marie-howe/5301

*The ladders are meant to be ambiguous. Are they career ladders, ladders to escape, or “Jacob’s Ladder,” connecting us to something higher?

*This is a very limited edition piece, edition of 1 at size shown, total edition of 12 in all sizes. Piece shown, $12,000.

The Challenge of Creation

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The 1663 illustration, Metamorphosis Planetarum, by the alchemist J. de Monte-Snyders served as an inspiration and starting point for my piece, The Challenge of Creation (2016).

In pondering this creation illustration from the 1600s, I tried to envision what a modern day version might look like. The question turned into what would a modern day creator look like?

Instead of going with a mythical God-like creator, as J. de Monte-Snyders did, I chose to represent each of us as creator.  We all participate in click here for rest of the story

City of Loveland Colorado Selects My Proposal for Indoor 18′ Public Art Mural

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Anatomy of a Mural 

The RFP ( national Request for Proposal ) asked that the mural be urban, edgy, vibrant and colorful.  In creating the mural, I wanted to incorporate Loveland landmarks and history. The city has many beautiful and historic buildings, but when I looked at including them all in the mural, it made for a more historic and peaceful (as opposed to urban and edgy) piece. So in the end, I settled on five primarily industrial buildings.

Once I had the basic structure of the image, I began cutting and pasting multiple photos of weathered paint and paper, utility poles, street signs, words from documents and other images and text for color and texture. read about the entire mural and the key to finding and understanding everything in it at this link

Commission for Pinnacle Financial Partners

I have recently finished a four-piece commission for Pinnacle Financial Partners headquartered in downtown Nashville. Pinnacle has added my  piece, Snowy Night in Nashville, 54″ x 43″ to its permanent
corporate collection and wil reproduce all four images for the group’s holiday cards.  When asked to create the initial Nashville image, I immediately had a vision of  an iconic cottage sitting in a snow covered field, and thought about  how unexpected it would be to see their downtown high-rise in place of the cottage. That vision was the genesis of the four pieces. You can see the other three images here.. other images

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Images from Artist Talk and Opening of Solo Show at The Gallery at Penn College

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See more images from the July 9, 2015 artist talk and opening here….TGPC Opening.

Also, thanks to Penny, Cindy and Lenore for the posters, catalog, postcards, images, video and the large amount of work that went into the show.  Link to the Gallery at Penn College site.

Ignoring The Door

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Ignoring the Door
I recently read a story about a man in a jail cell. Every day he would stand on his tiptoes to look out the window, the small bit of light he could find in his small cell. One day a large gust of wind blew, and the cell door, which had been unlocked the whole time, blew open. By refusing to explore the dark, he had kept himself trapped.  

Man with Parachute

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Man with Parachute

Last year I jumped off a mountain.  Since I am afraid of heights, I had not planned such a thing, but I was on a trip and had vowed to a friend to be more to experience. Which is how the 9200 foot tandem paraglide jump in Sun Valley, Idaho happened.

I have been asked by a number of people if it changed me.  The answer is a qualified yes. There was no big “aha!” moment where I suddenly realized I was free and had no fears.  But there was a subtle shift from my lifelong tendency, when afraid, to say “no,” to being able to remind myself that I jumped off a mountain, which makes whatever is scaring me no longer so big.

This piece is was inspired by that jump.  It is about the metaphor of taking a leap into something that we know probably will not kill us, but scares us terribly anyway.  And it is about bringing something back: the courage to jump again and again.

The Search for Balance

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Last year at an open air flea market on the pier in Barcelona, I found a group of illustrated WWI cards made by the chocolate company Chocolate Amatller. The cards were bright and colorful and hardly conveyed the gravity of war.  I bought thirty and kept them out on a table for inspiration. They were the starting point for this piece.

The Search for Balance on first glance may appear to be a statement about work, success, and career competition as war, and certainly I had Sun Tzu’s The Art of War in mind when building it.  But I also had Middle Passage, by Jungian Psychologist James Hollis, about the journey and struggle of midlife on my mind, as well as Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching which encourages one to go with the flow of life rather than fight against it.

My Art Work, Christina Aguilera and ABC’s Nashville

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ABC’s hit series Nashville has bought the rights to use two of my pieces on the set for some upcoming shows. They will appear in Christina Aguilera’s character Jade St John’s dressing room. Both pieces are 72″ x 48″ so they should be hard to miss. Date TBA.

Man on Fire

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I begin most of my pieces with a clear idea of what they are about and an outline of how they will look. With a few images, however (such as The Man with Cello) I began with a visual concept and had to discover their meaning as I went along. These are the hardest pieces to do.

These two pieces, Man on Ice and Man on Fire, I had to discover the meaning as I went along. When I was in St Petersburg, Florida last month I watched a boy throwing bread in the air for a group of seagulls. They were all hovering over him and it made for an amazing visual. I stood and watch them for a few minutes, took a few photos, then moved on. For this piece, I had a clear vision of a man playing a guitar to the sea gulls, but I did not have the meaning behind it.

So I posed a friend playing a guitar and placed him in the image and began searching for the meaning. I looked into mythology, psychology and religion to see what might resonate. Maybe he is Orpheus, the Greek musician and poet who could charm all things. Maybe the birds are messengers. A funny thing happened on the way to finding the meaning. I realized the birds, originally my favorite part of the image, had to go. This is what writers call “ killing your darlings”.

This left me at the beginning again. Now, what is the piece about? Who is this man?

What or who is he looking at? Is he playing the guitar for himself? Did he just want peace and solitude?

As I began working with it, the clues began taking shape. Twice in two days, I came across Copernicus’s illustration, Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres). His illustration places the Sun, not Earth, at the center of the solar system. Since it kept appearing, I included it in the piece. I also added a diagram of a Sun chart, showing it at different locations in the sky during various times of the year, and photos that I’ve taken of splashes of concrete on a train car, which looked to me like stars. I added the fence for visual depth and also to suggest limits or boundaries, imposed or imagined. There is either a fire in the background or a brilliant sunrise.

If I am to understand this piece, I have to begin with the Copernicus illustration. It seems obvious that placing the Sun instead of the Earth at the center of the solar system is a psychological shift, which is a metaphor for the fact that we ourselves, are not the center of the universe.

The figure in both pieces also seems to relish his aloneness. If there is a fire, he is not disturbed by it. This could suggest that it is a psychological fire, something burning inside, or being cleared away or purified. Perhaps in his solitude he has discovered that he is not the center of the universe, and is relieved; perhaps he is celebrating or singing a song of gratitude.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tea with Mara

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Tea with Mara

There are various versions of this story. This is my summary of the lengthy myth:

Just prior to enlightenment, the Buddha was approached by Mara, the Demon God, along with his daughters and an army representing craving, boredom, passion, anger, and pride. The story goes that Mara tempted and challenged the Buddha to leave his enlightened state and re-enter the world of the mind and ego, but the Buddha did not give in and Mara and his army went away. But not for good.

In the future when Mara would show up with his enticements, the Buddha would invite him in to have tea. Mara would stay a while and then leave, and the Buddha would be left undisturbed.

Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield write, in Seeking the Heart of Wisdom, that we are challenged by hindrances again and again in the course of our lives, and so it is important to learn to work with them when they show up. Pema Chodron writes, “Mara represents the false promise of happiness and security offered by our habitual responses.” However If we are willing to sit what he brings, without fighting, suppressing or ignoring the feelings, we can strengthen, clarify and deepen our awareness and understanding of ourselves and be freed from old patterns and habits.

In my piece, Tea with Mara, I have set the myth in contemporary times and left it up to the viewer to decide who is the Buddha and who is Mara.  In the myth, both are male, but they are meant to represent everyone.

For the creation of this piece, I had people pose in multiple positions and I chose the positions that worked best. The lines in the background are from a vintage astronomy chart, and the words underfoot are from different texts which tell the story of Mara and the Buddha. Between them on the floor is a vintage astronomy chart of a black hole. Two of the books of the table are my creation (Tea with Mara and False Promise of Happiness; the third is Jung’s Man and His Symbols. The “cover” of Jung’s book is a war scene from a vintage Spanish WWI card.  As always, the color and texture from the piece comes from photos that I have taken of weathered paint, paper, rust and other colors and textures I have photographed. The cage on the table, which I found at an antique shop, represents the psychological confinement we suffer unless we become aware of our tendencies, habits and self-made traps.

Artist Talk at Jewish Cultural Center, Chattanooga, Tennessee

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Thanks to the JCC for the invitation to speak about my art and career.  Behind me is a projected photo of me at 9 years old taken at the Milan Mirror Newspaper in Milan, Tennessee for winning awards at the Gibson County Fair. The talk covered my early background, mental health training and my art career.

Running to Catch a Poem

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A few years ago I accompanied my wife to The Gathering, a literary event at Keystone College in Pennsylvania.  It was there that I learned the story of the poet Ruth Stone and how as a young woman she found inspiration.

I have since learned that Elizabeth Gilbert has made this story famous in one of her TED talks (link).  I am not surprised that it has become famous, at least in some circles.  I heard it several years ago and have loved it ever since. Below is a transcribed version

“As [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming…cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, run like hell to the house as she would be chased by this poem. The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would continue on across the landscape looking for ‘another poet’. And then there were these times, there were moments where she would almost miss it. She is running to the house and is looking for the paper and the poem passes through her. She grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her and she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.“

About the piece.  It was harder than I had imagined to capture this story.  I felt a little like I was in a version of MS Stone’s story, running with everything I had and catching the wrong angle, the wrong color, the wrong way to make the words visual, but still catching enough of it that I held on.

In order to create this piece, I used someone I know to act as though she was running while I photographed her.  I used multiple photos of weathered paint and paper from urban poster walls, sidewalks and the sides of trains for the color and texture.  I photographed the house in rural Lousiana just south of New Orleans and the utility poles between Iowa and Denver.  The words come from a vintage letter that I found in an antique shop and a print out of one of Ms Stone’s poems. Link to Ruth Stone Poetry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metro Development Group Purchases Five Pieces

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Thanks to Metro Development in Tampa, Florida for their purchase of several of my pieces.  I am excited to be a part of their new beautifully  remodeled space.  Thanks to John Ryan, Chief Executive Officer and Alison West Brown, Artist Agent.

 

 

Arts Company in Nashville

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My latest commission is for the Arts Compnay in Nashville.  Anne Brown, the owner of the AC asked if I would do something that had downtown Nashville, the AC and is urban and contemporary. I wanted to do two different versions, one more abstract than the other.

This piece has multiple photos that I have taken of the AC, multiple buildings in the downtown area from different angles and multiple photos of weathered paint. The art in the window of  the Arts Company is  by  Denise Stewart-Sanabria, Tres Taylor and Daryl Thetford.  http://www.stewart-sanabria.com/  http://www.trestaylor.com/trestaylor/home.html and http://darylthetford.com/  http://www.theartscompany.com/

What is Behind the Western Series

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The cowboy has been portrayed in American culture as a masculine ideal and a symbol of individualism for decades. John Wayne, the Marlboro Man and Clint Eastwood embodied and helped to solidify the cowboy-as-rugged-individualist icon.

Like many men of his generation, my father fully internalized the cowboy image. He lived in south Texas during his early adulthood, at which time he became a literal manifestation of it, trading regular shoes for cowboy boots, and a cap for a cowboy hat.  Later, because he wanted a cowboy son to complete the picture, he dressed me in full cowboy regalia. But my preferences leaned toward painting pictures more than riding horses, and, to my father’s disappointment, my cowboy childhood came to an end fairly early. For years, I would try to distance myself not only from all things cowboy, but from all things southern and country; in short, I rejected that which most clearly defined my father, and that which my father so heartily embraced.

 But the unconscious has a sense of humor, unexpectedly slipping that which we thought we’d cast off back into the spotlight of our psyche when we aren’t looking. Knowing this, it should not have surprised me when I started to create my western series. And yet it did. The series began when I found a 1906 stereograph cowboy image while on my travels through Omaha. Back home in my studio, I enjoyed retrofitting the cowboy in (very un-cowboylike) clothes and colors, until he emerged as something more interesting, quirky and colorful than his iconic self had been. I was hooked. I began looking for other vintage western images to recreate, and before long I had a reworked pop-art bull rider, which I created using cut up articles from Art News and Art Forum, a cowboy wearing Prada sunglassesand my “Wu Wei” cowboy, a riff on the Asian concept of “flow.”

But the series raised some serious questions for me. How was it that our culture’s metaphorical cowboy, and the attendant notion of the independent, self-made individualist who needs no one, wound up creating cracks in the very culture it purported to strengthen? While the cowboy (i.e. ideal man) as self-sufficient individualist is an appealing idea, it is one that inevitably causes more anxiety than comfort, more feelings of isolation than community, more puzzlement and feelings of failure when we are forced to admit—as we always are—that we need other people to survive. And another question: how can I pay homage to American culture, and my personal history, while simultaneously attempting to demystify it?

 Perhaps the answer lies in recognizing and honoring the cowboy mythology as a part of history whose contribution has been both heroic and tragic. Perhaps it is to see history’s true rugged individualists exactly as they were: not as heroes or mythological figures, but as fallible human beings capable of mistakes and as dependent on one another as we are today. Perhaps if we as a society were to reclaim the “real west” of today—that is, a world that is ethnically diverse, dependent on one another, and very much human, we could, in the process, reclaim the part of ourselves that feels the isolation and pain or those long-ago internalized myths, and set the record straight.

It is always tempting to me, in examining both the personal and the universal influences on my work, to bring my ideas to resolution. If I resist this urge, however, what I come to is something more global and at the same time hopefully more personal to others: the recognition that our images of the west have much to tell us about how we live—but only if we will see them as symbols of our culture’s projections, rather than as a literal group of people whose lifestyle we shallowly long to embrace.

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New Work for 2015

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The yet untitled first piece of the year.  I am reserving the right to add words to the image, but I like it the way it is too.  I will be at the Temple Beth-el show in St Petersburg, Flordia Jan 31-Feb 2.

The Meaning of the Wu Wei Cowboy

 

Knoxville Museum of Art Features Cityscape with Bridges at Artscapes Live Auction and Exhibit

feature_larger2I am late publishing it, but thank you to the Knoxville Museum of Art which featured my piece, Cityscape with Bridges, 43″ x 54″ , inkjet on aluminum, edition of 9 on the cover of their catalogue and in the live auction on Sept. 14th.

Commission for Scripps Networks

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40″ x 66″, inkjet, edition of 1

Thanks to Mary Morris of Mary Morris Arts Management for her recent placement of this commission for Scripps Networks.

Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville exhibit ” The World of Daryl Thetford”

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Following the successful show at The Arts Company on 5th Avenue in Nashville, the CMHF is continuing the show “The World of Daryl Thetford”.  The show, which is in cooperation with The Arts Company, will run from September 12th, 2014 through December 31st, 2014. For additional information or

To purchase or inquire about availability of the artwork please contact
The Arts Company at 615-254-2040 or at www.theartscompany.com

 

Read more: The Arts Company Presents: Introducing the World of Daryl Thetford
Follow us: @countrymusichof on Twitter | countrymusichof on Facebook

 

Paramore Digital, Nashville, Tennessee

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Friday, July 11, 2014 at Paramore Digital, downtown Nashville, Tennessee.  Top: speaking at Paramore, bottom left to right, work in Paramore facing conference room, speaking in conference room and Anne Brown, owner of the Arts Company, Daryl Thetford and Hannah Paramore

INTRODUCING THE WORLD OF DARYL THETFORD, the Arts Company, Nashville, Tennessee through August 8th, 2014

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NA-July-2014I realized earlier today that I have not posted anything on my blog about my show at the Arts Company on 5th Avenue in downtown Nashville and it is closing on August 8th, 2014. So if you have not seen it, there is still time.

Below is the information on the show which opened on July 5th, 2014 and was followed by a live discussion between me and Paul Polycarpou, editor of the Nashville Arts Magazine on July 11th, 2014. Paul chose my piece, “Man in Chair : World as a Mandala” for the cover of this months magazine.  Paul is the one entertaining the crowd and holding a copy of the magazine in the photo to the right.

INTRODUCING THE WORLD OF DARYL THETFORD at The Arts Company, 5th Avenue, Nahsville, Tennessee

Daryl Thetford offers fresh perspectives to The Arts Company.  He uses thousands of images he has captured from urban places such as crumbling walls, grafitti, signs, etc. He uses a collection of these images as an urban background for all of his finished pieces. His images come together through his layering of his own images. He creates narratives based on classical themes that are given new life in our urban culture. The resulting photographs are printed on aluminum in small editions and coated by his hand three times to protect and brighten the surfaces, again to reflect the effect of urban life as we know it. His finished photographs come across as narratives that are embedded in the images.

ABOUT THE ARTIST:

Daryl Thetford grew up on a hundred-acre farm in Bradford, Tennessee, a small town in the rural northwest corner of the state. His father was a forklift operator who worked in a warehouse, and his mother was a beautician. While they encouraged their son to pursue so-called “practical” avenues of work, they also recognized an early artistic bent, and enrolled him in oil painting lessons–which he loved–at age nine. Although he went on to obtain a graduate degree in counseling from Murray State University, and spent 15 years working as a vocational program director, mental health center manager, and a therapist, his creative juices never dried up. In 2001, when Thetford left mental health to return to his first love, art, he discovered that the psychology of behavior and emotion–everything he’d been studying and practicing for years–flowed neatly into his artistic process. The result is a compelling body of photo collage work that is informed by the richness of the psyche

Daryl’s work has been described as graphic, modern, pop, and contemporary, although what to actually call the process has been a larger source of debate; it has been called photo collage, digital art, and digital mixed media. The process begins with Thetford selecting a single, original photographic image followed by a digital layering and combining of dozens of additional original photographs. It is a process, which takes an average of 40 hours. His resulting images range from culturally familiar individual pieces (bikes, cowboys, guitars, cityscapes) to more esoteric series’ based on man’s inner struggle with modern society or the human sense of isolation in the noise of the modern world.

Thetford’s recent exhibits include a solo show at the Art Museum at the University of Memphis; an invitation-only group show at the Annenberg Space in Los Angeles; a solo show at the Jung Center in Houston, Texas; and an upcoming show at the Coffman Gallery at the University of Minnesota. His work has also been shown at SOFA Contemporary, Art Dallas, Art Chicago, the Knoxville Museum of Art, Mobile Museum of Art  and others, and is in a number of individual and corporate collections across the nation.

Daryl currently lives with his wife, writer and artist Dana Shavin in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They enjoy travel, great food, great art, and the company of good friends.

 

 

Landscapes

Landscapes

I walk in fields in my mind. Years ago I realized that I was doing this mainly during conversations. I’m not dissociative; to the contrary, often I imagine I am walking with the person I’m talking to. The fields are near my hometown in west Tennessee. Interestingly, while I’ve driven past them many times, I’ve never actually walked in them.
I believe that we make art as a result of a psychological call or need. Since I have most often found inspiration in the color, movement and energy of urban environments, I was initially surprised by my own move in the direction of landscapes. I soon realized, however, that whether I was taking in the vastness of the Great Plains, the majesty of the Rockies, or the simple beauty of the hills and gorges of the Southeast, landscapes provided a template onto which I both projected, and had reflected back to me, my thoughts and emotions. Storms, depending upon my mood, could be dark and threatening or a peaceful isolated shower. A path through a forest could be lonely or lovely.
It’s my goal, in creating landscape images, to provide the viewer with a template onto which thoughts, feelings, and emotions might be projected–to provide a field, so to speak, that invites a larger conversation

Man in Chair

man in chair

 

Last year I went on a trip out west with a good friend.  I went into the trip knowing that we have very different ways of interacting with the world.  When traveling, I am rigidly on time, often arriving at scheduled events long before they begin. I schedule my 3 ½ star hotel rooms well in advance and choose my meals carefully.

My friend, on the other hand, has a more casual relationship with time and destinations.  He often leaves hours later than he planned, makes multiple unscheduled stops and drives well into the night.   It is not lost on either of us that he is the happier person.

Since I know our style differences, I also realized that a two week trip could create great stress for our friendship.  So I vowed that I was going to say YES to everything with a couple of very modest exceptions: I would not drive after midnight, and we would have to arrive at shows on time.  At some point during the trip he suddenly turned to me and said “ You are agreeing to everything”. I am, I said, “ I am calling it my YES Tour. “ I told him that it would be interesting to see how this little bit of letting go impacted me.

With his discovery of my experiment, things quickly got interesting.  We took an unscheduled site seeing trip into the mountains with someone we did not know, told the chef at an amazing restaurant to bring anything he wanted to bring, and made arrangements to stay on a houseboat instead of a hotel.

This was life changing.  I did not know how much it changed me until I began winter in my usual way with stacks of books to read, multiple ideas for series and a 1000 art and exhibit opportunities to apply to.  I made the same choice I usually make: do it all instead of to prioritizing based on the reality of time and energy.  This is an old pattern passed down for generations in my family which has created various results including never missing work, a perfectly manicured yard, premature aging, needless suffering and multiple levels of neurosis.

I was shocked to realize that, unlike in the past, I was unable to complete everything that I had laid out for the winter. Not only did I not get everything done, I did not even get close.  As a result of the Yes Tour, some part of me had decided that letting go was a strategy that made sense.

I am guessing now that my unconscious had a plan all along.  It was a setup to overthrow the internal dictator that often over schedules my life.  Life was not just one big Yes after the Yes Tour however.  Although my new system was in agreement with the Yes that chose to go with the flow of life, it balked at the Yes that agreed to do everything on every list.

This was scary since I have always functioned by over-controlling.   So I began to ask myself just how, if I am to work with this new system, can I remain productive without being compulsive.

More on this and the “Wu Wei” tour planned for summer.

 

 

Wake Up

Wake Up w Mask

wake up in garage

While the image Wake Up is not new, this is the first and only one that is 84″ x 74″. I deliver it today in Tampa.

The two somewhat crude images are a “selfie” of me in the studio coating it and one of the final diptych leaning against my garage for size perspective.

Commission Finished

Commission Completed

This commission consists of 4 separate pieces. Each piece consists of documents, maps, names of places they have worked and other information that is personal and important to each of them. It is seldom that I do a personal commission, but I am pleased with the way these turned out.

The Second Question

cc-woman-w-halo-and-yellow-stars

Woman w a Halo : A Modern Icon.
This piece is 36″ x 54″, inkjet on aluminum, edition of 9, completed March, 2014.

I mentioned previously that I am frequently asked two questions.The first question (and answer) was included with my post, “Two New Pieces and Two Frequently Asked Questions.” This is the answer to question #2 (which is really a statement): ”You must have a lot of fun doing these.”
It’s true, I do have fun. Especially for the first 20 hours or so, when I’m most excited about the new piece and it doesn’t yet feel hard. After composing the initial piece however, and getting its structure how I want it, the effort becomes, like the collages themselves, fun, fragmented, stressful, obsessive, frustrating, tedious, frightening, playful and all-consuming.
Here’s a brief description of the process. I usually start with an idea and then look for a photograph I’ve taken that might fit it. This becomes a dialogue between the idea and the image. I find that often the choice of the image changes the concept a bit–sometimes quite a bit–depending on the image and how different it is from my original vision.
At other times, I stumble across a photograph I took months or even years earlier, which for some reason now speaks to me. The same dialogue then ensues about the nature of the direction I or we ( we = photograph + idea and me ) want the piece to follow.
At this point I begin experimenting with multiple photographs that I’ve taken, of painted surfaces, text, road signs, weathered wooden walls, torn paper on urban poster walls, paint on train cars, paint on sidewalks, etc. From this I create the foundation of the piece and begin adding other, larger elements. I progress this way for hours.
Often this all happens over the course of a day or so, leaving me with the foundation of the piece and the crazy notion that I’m only 2 or 3 hours away from finishing it, even though I have never finished a piece this quickly. (Balancing Act took more time than almost any piece I have ever done.) I think the answer is contained in what a friend of mine once said about self-help books. Because they “almost” work, she said, we believe the next one will fully work. Same with “almost” finishing an art piece quickly. Surely, the next time I really will!

Two New Pieces and Two Frequently Asked Questions

cc-balancing-act

Balancing Act, 36″ x 62″, inkjet on aluminum, 2014

I am frequently asked two questions. The first is, “How long does it take you to do one of these?” The second is almost always in the form of a statement: “I’ll bet you have a lot of fun doing these.”
Neither answer is simple. To the “how long” question, the answer is “around 40 hours.” This is just an average, and doesn’t take into consideration the time I spend taking all of the photographs, or the times that I trash an image I’ve spent many hours working on because it’s not going anywhere. Then there’s the issue of my obsessive indecisiveness, whereby I declare something finished only to return to it the next morning to find that the piece spoiled during the night and needs more work.
Balancing Act, included with this post, is a case in point. Its true name should be Balancing Act #10 or #12. This is because I “finished” it a few months ago, so quickly that I was amazed and pleased it did not take the usual 40 or more hours. I then posted it, only to realize it still had significant issues. So I began working on it again until it was truly “finished.” This “finishing” and reworking went on so long I finally decided that the piece (and I) needed time to breathe. I recently returned to Balancing Act with an open and positive attitude, and I’m happy to say that it is really, finally finished…again….for now.
Why, you might be asking, was Balancing Act such a struggle to “finish?” I’d say it has something to do with the lack of balance that I felt this winter. So to end the longest rambling answer to a simple question, my pieces often take more hours than I can justify, for reasons that have everything to do with the intersection of life and art.

Here’s hoping we all have a balanced spring.

The Art Museum at The University of Memphis is showing STRUGGLE TO EVOLVE BEFORE THE END OF TIME.

journey to the next day

This is my series on our struggle and our interaction with the world and our inner reaction to it
Here is a link to the Museum Website. http://www.memphis.edu/amum/darylthetford.php

This is my series on our struggle and our interaction with the world and our inner reaction to it
Here is a link to the Museum Website. http://www.memphis.edu/amum/darylthetford.php

Reflections and Resolutions : Creating New Worlds in Digital Art, Lincoln Center, Fort Collins, CO.

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This 4 person exhibition opened January 17th, 2014 and will run through March 8th, 2014.  The show was curated by Jeanne Shoaff who selected 12 pieces from my The Struggle to Evolve Before the End of Time series.  Several of these pieces will also be on display beginning March 28th at the Art Museum at the University of Memphis Caseworks Gallery.

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Temple Beth-el Art Show, St Petersburg, Florida

I was recently sitting around thinking about food and lists. I had thought it would be fun to list some my favorite restaurants of 2013. The list is extensive and diverse, ranging from a vegan asian place in Providence, RI to the first place on my list in Tampa, FL.

I have since rethought the list idea, but since I am heading to St Petersburg, FL again for the Temple Beth-el Art fundraiser, I realize that I am excited not just about returning to the show ( which I am ) but also about returning to two of my favorite restaurants in the area.

I was in Tampa running an errand before the show began last year and decided to “google” the best places to eat Cuban food in the area. Two restaurants in the Ybor City section of Tampa came to the top of the search as one might expect. One of the top three, however really grabbed my attention. It was La Teresita Grocery. ( Columbus Ave at Lincoln in Tampa).

In La Teresita Grocery, a huge buffet of Cuban food is on display. For $5.00 I was able choose a meat, ranging from goat to chicken and 2 sides. So, the huge quantity and amazing fresh quality of chicken, black beans, rice and plantains cost me $5.00. I know I mentioned the price before, but is bears repeating. It would have still been a bargain at $12. I sat a a long community table and had one of the best meals of the year.
coln ) . http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-teresita-grocery-tampa?nb=1

The second place in the region is the Taco Bus on Central Avenue in St Petersburg, FL. I was browsing the antique shops and other interesting places along Central Avenue when I came upon a large line of people ordering food. While I assume that the bus is indeed mobile when they want it to be, a large indoor/outdoor seating infrastructure has built up around it making it an great place to eat and people watch. The menu is large and diverse and the food is fantastic. http://www.taco-bus.com/

See you in Florida.

Evolution of an Artist : How Not to Sit in a Corner and Suck on Rats

Evolution of an Artist : How Not to Sit in a Corner and Suck on Rats

Several years ago I saw the movie, Interview with a Vampire. While not really a great philosophical movie, and I think I am being generous here, one concept really stuck with me. The new vampire, Louis, played by Brad Pitt, was baffled as to why, if vampires are indestructible, the oldest one was only 400 years old and not 4,000 years old. The explanation was simple: vampires failed to evolve.

Flash to the last part of the movie and you see Lestat, Louis’ maker, hiding from streetlights in the corner of an abandoned house. The once grand and confident vampire, afraid to go out, was feeding on rats and starving. He too had failed to evolve.

I sometimes get signals that it is time for me to evolve. When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone, I knew that I had to either embrace the new culture of connectedness or hide in a corner. Years later I rode the tide of digital photography from shooting straight photographs to manipulating my work–using Photoshop–into collages.

I am now faced with another opportunity to either evolve or retreat into a corner.

This year was one of my best ever; at the same time, there were some unexpected rejections on the art front. I initially thought that only a re-evaluation of my art was in order, but I am reconsidering this idea now. What is needed most, I believe, is a re-evaluation of my perspective, my lifestyle and perhaps most importantly, my ego.

So I am trying new things: little experiments with the look, materials and meaning of my work. I know that many of the pieces I am creating are stepping stones to the next place I’m going.

And as far as self is concerned, I am returning to the places that have helped in the past. I am rereading an amazing book, The End of Your World, by Adyashanti, along with writings by Pema Chodron. The real challenge, for me, is to recommit to what helps most: meditation.

So here’s to new art, a new perspective and to stepping out of the corner and into the light.

Man with A Cello

Man with A Violin

I usually have to live with a piece for a while to see if it makes the final cut and this still unfinished image is no exception.

I have been experimenting with new ideas, new colors and new collage techniques. Funny how some of the pieces I think I have been experimenting with still look just like my old work.

Nurses in A Boat, 47″ x 66″, inkjet on aluminum

blog 2 nurses in a boat w happiness 48 x 66

So what do I do if I have four series that I want to work on? Which one do I start with?

Well if you are me, you have an idea that is completely unrelated to these things and do that.

Unlike most of my pieces, this one did not begin with a clear idea. So the experiment that I felt moved to do, lead to this. I am calling it Nurses in a Boat. I still have some work to do, but it is almost finished.

Since this idea came to me, I have had several related ideas that seem to be speaking to me louder than anything I had planned to do. So it looks like some surreal times ahead.

47″ x 66″, inkjet on aluminum

Artist at 9

Artist at 9

I recently found this old newspaper clipping of me, taken at age 9, after the Gibson County Fair in Humboldt, TN. I am not sure, but Iooking back from an adult’s perspective, I may have been the only person in my age group.

The rabbit and terrible cars were my idea and the flowers were my painting teacher’s idea.

The really interesting story is that I took oil painting lessons from Sally Huffles. She played Jane years earlier in a Tarzan movie and still had all of the press clippings. Sadly, I have reviewed all of the Janes and can not figure out which one she was. I am assuming that she had a stage name for her acting career.

The Centered Juggler

The Centered Juggler

The madness and fun has begun as I am well into my reading list, finishing Banksy : The Man Behind the Wall by Will Ellsworth-Jones, True Meditations by Adyashanti ( his best is The End of Your World ), Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, with Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit and Gompertz’s What Are You Looking At? already underway.

Combine this with my pull in different directions in art making, which currently include a Landscape series, a continuation of my Graffiti and Evolution of Man series, and two sets of “religious” series, one light and one dark, and you can see why I have created 3 Jugglers in the last 2 years.

I was telling Dana, my wife who by the way is a writer, artist and life coach http://www.danashavin.com/ that I go back and forth between excitement and being freaked out with all of the different projects. Usually, the overwhelmed times just last a few moments and I am back on course.

I used to think that I wanted to have one focus and would get frustrated at my journeys into other projects before the one I was working on was complete. And, as much as I still think that I need to do a series with headless chickens to complement the jugglers, I find that I actually do need to have the diversity and the multiple voices to keep me centered.

Part 1 of a 4 part commission

Part 1 of a 4 part commission

I do not take many commissions from individuals for a number of reasons, but a family I met this summer convinced me that doing a portrait of each of their family members could be an interesting project. Everything in this one, which is 94% finished, is from personal letters, work, school, personal and meaningful maps and numbers, etc

train

train

I took this photograph somewhere between Denver and Des Moines this year. I used it as a template for my new landscape series, which, if you do not know me, is a real stretch. I have combined multiple photos of weathered paint and paper, graffiti, etc

This piece is 66″ x 44″ and will be printed on aluminum in an edition of 5.

New Landscapes begin part two of the art making season

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Ferris Wheel begins New Season of Making Art

Ferris Wheel begins New Season of Making Art

Every year from October to the end of March, I make as much art as possible. Sometimes I do a few pieces during the year, but I am aware that this is the time for the big ideas or new series, experimentation and reinvention.

This year is no exception. My first image, seen above, is already well outside my normal color palette. I may keep it or I may not, but for now, it is my beginning.

The lofty goals, which I can never fully meet, are to finish my Evolution Series and begin 3 new series. These include a very abstracted series on symbols and religion taken, in part from the classic book, The Sacred and The Profane and a reading list as long as my arm; a Circus Series reflecting the psychological aspects of our daily lives; and a Landscape series, which is a real stretch for me.

Even though I call these goals, I have realized the impossibility of doing it all. In past years I actually believed that I could meet all of my obsessive mind’s demands, creating amazing amounts of stress. I now know that these goals really serve as a starting point. I will likely finish the Evolution of Man Before the End of Time series, start and finish one of the other series and do a few pieces on the others in order to find a direction for future pieces.

“Man Reaching” chosen by Glass Street Public Art Project as Bus Shelter Wrap

Public Art Chattanooga, in collaboration with Glass House Collective and CARTA has chosen 4 artists’ work to use in wrapping bus shelters as part of a public art project in Chattanooga. I am delighted that they have chosen my image, “Man Reaching” to be a part of the program. More later when it has been installed.

Cityscape finds home at DMACC Urban Campus in Des Moines

Cityscape finds home at DMACC Urban Campus in Des Moines

I placed this 67″ x 48 piece earlier this year, along with Thoughts of a Better Day ( see in a post below ) at the DMACC Urban Campus with the assistance of Mary Capobianco of Designing Women in West Des Moines and Provost, Dr Laura Douglas as part of their campus renovation.

Books, Book Lists and Art

this one

I knew that it was that time of year, when I looked at my bedside table and living room table and studio table and my kindle and all that I could see was books that I have been accumulating all summer and fall in preparation for winter reading season. It is not that I do not read all year, but the winter is the true reading season where I binge on everything good and bad.

I am assuming that I am not alone based on two e-mails that came in this morning from Brain Pickings and ArtSpace, both of which had new books and book lists featured this month. I especially like Brain Pickings which consistently recommends books for artists and others in creative fields. http://www.brainpickings.org/

The stack I can currently see and which I began reading last night includes, in part:

1) Beyond the PostModern Mind : The Place of Meaning in a Global Civilization by Huston Smith ( recently heard an old interview with Huston Smith where this book was mentioned.  I had not heard of this book of his )
2) Banksy : The Man Behind the Wall by Ellsworth-Jones ( bought this on sale at Shakespeare and Co. in NY )
3) Concerning The Spiritual in Art by Kandinsky ( referenced in Jewish Museum Beyond the Spiritual Exhibit in San Francisco when I was there in September )
4) Salvador Dali’s Tarot ( saw a print from this book in a antique store and looked it up )
5) The Sacred and The Profane : The Nature of Religion by Eliade ( already owned this, but decided I had to read it when we saw Donna Freitas at The Gathering Conference at Keystone College last year and she repeatedly referred to it.
6) 100 Chinese Two Part Allegorical Sayings
7) What Are You Looking At? : The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art by Will Gompertz
8) Glittering Images by Camille Paglia
9) True Meditation by Adyashanti ( just finished The End of Your World by same author which was fantastic )

Something does not seem quite right when I notice that I am excited and daunted and maybe even intimidated by my own list…  and this is just the beginning of the list.  That always seems to be the case for my winter reading,- a little heavier, a little more thoughtful, when not coincidentally is when I began the months of art making which will consist of the majority of my work for the year.

Chagall’s Love, War and Exile in the Upper East Side

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Chagall’s Love, War and Exile in the Upper East Side

The great benefit of having been in New York several times recently is the letting go of compulsions to fill every minute with the big things.  While I still managed to do too much ( including seeing the big things), walk too much and eat too much, I also took the time to wander around some areas that I usually only pass through in a taxi or under in a subway or at best walk through on a main avenue on the way to another destination
On my walk through the Upper Eastside among interesting coffee places and shops( including Shakespeare and Company Books – thanks Tom for shipping the books for me ) I happened across Andy Warhol’s former home which only had a small plaque that I just happened to notice and just down the street, President  Grant’s former residence. Grant would have gotten a nice portrait of himself if only the timing had been right
The best discovery of the weekend was the Chagall exhibit – Love, War and Exile which was advertised on a bus stop that I was walking past. I am a Chagall fan, but have seen a number of Chagall exhibits and almost passed on this one, which I now know would have been a loss. The exhibit which focuses on his work from the 30s to 1948 is, to me some of his most powerful work given the personal nature of the subject matter and his choice of imagery to portray his feelings of fear, loss and love.
The docent  giving the tour completed the package, providing the information that one expects while asking people on the tour about their thoughts and opinions and casually bantering with the crowd

Images from The Evolution of Man Before the End of Time series

Images from The Evolution of Man Before the End of Time series

Man and Media and Man Alone from ongoing series. The man in the Man Alone piece was standing on a subway platform on morning last fall waiting on the commuter train to Grand Central Terminal when I took the shot that became the template for this final version. I served as my own model for Man and Media. More on this series later.

Thoughts of a Better Day

Thoughts of a Better Day

This is one of the few images that I have created using a photograph that was not mine. The original face template came from a late 1800s photo that I found in an antique store in southern Illinois

Struggle

Struggle

Struggle is a part of the series, The Evolution of Man Before the End of Time. It is composed of multiple photos that I took, beginning with me posing as a man pulling something, photos of caution tape to go across the eyes; a cross walk, utility poles, a piece of a vintage astronomy chart, graffiti, weathered paint and numerous other photos all combined to create this image. In all I used more than 75 photos used to create it.

Yellow Lips

Yellow Lips