Discovery of Choice

 

web discovery of choice

 

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

web creation

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

loveland final image for web

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

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

gallery 1 gallery talk for web

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

HR ignoring the door Final 2 copy
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

Man-with-Parachute-web-.-

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

war web image

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.

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

guitar final for mary Tuesday copy

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”

HALL OF FAME 3

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

nashville paramore landscape shotnashville paramore  b

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

10521531_782214041810563_7819313697285062208_n
interview 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

blog 1

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.

blog 1a

Denver firm Brownstein, Hyatt, Faber and Schreck purchase two pieces.

Denver firm Brownstein, Hyatt, Faber and Schreck purchase two pieces.

Brownstein, Hyatt, Faber and Schreck recently purchased two pieces for their offices in Denver.

I would like to thank Kay Brouillette and Chris Fullerton at Sapiro Art Consultants for their work on this project.

You can find more about them and see some of their work at this website. http://www.sapiroart.com/

REFLECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS: CREATING NEW WORLDS IN DIGITAL ART

REFLECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS: CREATING NEW WORLDS IN DIGITAL ART

Man and Media II ( pictured ) is one of twelve images that I have at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, Colorado for the REFLECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS exhibit. All twelve of my pieces included are are part of the “Struggle for Evolution Before the End of Time” series.

The three other artists who “share the new worlds they’ve imagined through the media of Digital Art” are Fran Forman, Osvaldo Buccafusca and Daniel Fonken.

The show will run from opening night on January 17, 2014 to March 8, 2014.

Thank to curator Jeanne Shoaff for bringing the show together.

Artist Becomes Enlightened.

Artist Becomes Enlightened.

A few years ago, during a drive to Miami, I listened to 13 hours straight of Eckhart Tolle being interviewed by Oprah. During the course of these ( free ) podcasts, I got it. I saw what the eastern sages were talking about as a window, albeit a small one, opened up and reveled the universal truth of oneness to me. The lifestyle article for the Chattanooga Times Free Press about my experience, included below, was written by my wife Dana Shavin. She was the person who had not been in a car for 13 hours listening these podcasts, so her view of the events might differ from those who were enlightened..

Living in the Now Makes Problems Later
By Dana Shavin

My husband said something the other day that I should have found disturbing but didn’t. Which, frankly, disturbs me.

“That week we were so sick was the most fun I had all winter,” he said.

I knew what he meant. We never take time off from work to do nothing. We never even take time off to do SOMETHING. We just don’t take time off.

Case in point: Today is Sunday, and I am in my half of the studio, writing. I can hear my husband in his half of the studio rifling papers, printing things, pounding computer keys. I can assure you he isn’t surfing the net for pleasure or leafing through a magazine for fun. He’s working on new art images, contacting contacts, answering business e-mail, in short, creating, or following up on, opportunities.

Any minute now he’ll head over to my half of the studio to tell me everything he’s done. At which time I will be forced to ask him to leave, because I am busy creating my own kind of opportunity: I am getting some writing done so that I can then get some other writing done so that I can then get some research done so that I can then get some errands done.

Which is precisely why a week or so of body-flattening illness, during which we did nothing but lie on opposing sofas and talk, watch “Oprah” and obsessively take our temperatures was like a little dream vacation. Sad but true.

After our illness, I returned to business as usual. My husband, on the other hand, set off on an epic journey down the road to self-enlightenment. This is because he actually learned something from our downtime, which is that unremitting, achievement-oriented striving that takes you out of yourself and deposits you firmly in a mythical future where all that’s left is to appreciate the money and accolades you’ve garnered is a big fat waste of human time. He had already read “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth,” both by Eckhart Tolle. (Tolle, the king of the Now, is a spiritual anomaly who, by his own report, once spent two years sitting on a park bench doing nothing but smiling.)

It is a well-known fact that the road to spiritual enlightenment begins with a single download. What my husband discovered when he went looking, however, was not one but 10 90-minute conversations between Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle, which addressed not just the nebulous idea of living in the moment, but the nuts and bolts of how to actually stay present in a world replete with the stresses of family, work, health and domestic and international strife.

These downloads he listened to all the way to a Miami art show: 14 hours of pep talks, how-tos and earnest entreaties to forsake the What Might Be in exchange for the What Actually Is.

The next day, every nerve singing a song in praise of the Now, my husband discovered an irresistible photo-op: a shop window full of Buddha statues, with an old bench out front for passers-by to sit on. The bench, it turned out, was actually a rare antique, and the woman flying out of the front door of the shop was the bench’s owner who, upon seeing my husband settle his 200-pound frame into it, exchanged whatever serenity she had been enjoying in the moment for something akin to a blinding rage.

But by the time she got to him, he was already sauntering away toward the Miami Art Museum, to see at last the famed Robert Rauschenberg retrospective he’d been thinking about for weeks. Except that when he got there, he realized it wasn’t a Robert Rauschenberg retrospective but a Susan Rothenberg retrospective, a painter he neither knew nor cared anything about.

We were laughing about all this the other morning on our way to Birmingham to deliver art. It was a long day that included a stop at a hardware store, a frame shop, a restaurant and a shoe store. It wasn’t until the following day that my husband realized he’d walked all over Birmingham wearing one dark brown dress shoe and one tan casual shoe.

So while I know I should be living in the present, I am in fact worried about the future.

Given what’s already happening to my husband, can two years on a park bench with no goals and a kooky grin be far off?

Dana Shavin’s website is DanaShavin.com.

The Final Version of Branding Day on the Bird Ranch

The Final Version of Branding Day on the Bird Ranch

After 5 or 6 or 10 revisions, this is it. I am not sure why, but the colors are not quite right rich enough on this upload.

45″ x 66″, inkjet on aluminum.

The Reading List

The Reading List

Just as I am beginning to make my way through my stack of books, the website/blog BrainPickings releases their list of the Top 13 Best Psychology and Philosophy Books of 2013. Suddenly the ground that I have gained now lost and I am 13 books behind. Still, if you don’t know this site, I encourage you to take a look.

What I can tell you about my current progress on the book list, posted on October 7th is that, unlike other areas of my life I follow new leads and directions more easily. I try to pay attention to what I am wanting to read, what is really calling to me. Why is this easier to do than in other aspects of my life? I will have to talk to my therapist and read some more books and report back. Here’s my progress report so far.

2) Banksy : The Man Behind the Wall by Ellsworth-Jones. I finished this book right before Banksy hit Manhattan this fall. It is an easy read, and while not a great book, it gives an interesting glimpse behind the scenes of the famous street artist’s world.

5) The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion by Mircea Eliade. This book is not for everyone. Because he addresses myth and culture in an academic style, reading it is a bit of work, but I have found it a worthwhile read and an inspiration for my religious series.

4) Salvador Dali’s Tarot.”After initially not being fond of Dali’s work, I have grown to appreciate both the artist and his art. I did not realize he had a Tarot series until I ran across a print in an antique store. This is an excellent introduction to his work and the thought behind the meaning of his Tarot images. It does not address the Tarot itself in any depth. For a great group of Tarot images from early to contemporary, see The Art of Tarot by Christina Olsen.

7) What Are You Looking At? : The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art by Will Gompertz. A really excellent read which I highly recommend.

9) True Meditation by Adyashanti. This is a very nice book consisting of his lectures. If you are going to read just one Adyashanti book, and if you have any interest or appreciation of Eckhart Tolle, you will love his book, The End of Your World. This book was recommended to me by young-adult author Whitney Stewart when I told her that I was enlightened for an entire week one time (another blog post for the future).

9)The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is described as a “haunted odyssey through present day America” and is a great new novel by the author of The Secret History. When I love a novel I want it to last for a while and at 800 plus pages, it does.

The Circus Loop in My Head

The Circus Loop in My Head

It has come to my attention that I’m caught in a loop of my own making. Not that this anything new.

I decided to start my art making period, the majority of which falls October through March, with something light and fun. Making a few circus pieces seemed a fun and somewhat psychologically relevant way to start. Later I would work my way into the heavier, odder images I’ve been carrying around in my head for a while.

Unfortunately, the art ideas in my brain sometimes do not mesh with the deeper psychological self that wants to move in another direction. I created three images fairly quickly. I only needed to spend a few more hours editing and finishing them before I could move on. That’s when I realized they actually needed a completely new and fresh look, one that departed from what I’d been doing. So I re-entered the loop, and reworked them. I was satisfied. Until, that is, I got up the next morning and realized that the guy who had created them the day before was a bit lost and confused about what finished art is. And on the cycle went. Now it’s approaching mid-December, and I have three circus images and their multiple variations to show for it.

I woke up yesterday and knew it was time to move on. Time to get out of the circus loop. I was tempted to label it a failed experience. Instead it has led me to question why I am fighting the experience so hard.

In Jack Kornfield’s wonderful book, A Path with Heart, he talks about “the war within.” An example of this is when we attempt to move in a direction that is at odds with the internal (or external) flow of our lives. This is when things become a struggle.

Which brings me back to one of my old issues: fighting the flow by attempting to force my will onto the process, instead of looking for the direction that is opening for me. Funny how things loop around.

Flying Woman with Blue

Flying Woman with Blue

Ok, If you have been following this work progression you will know that I have reworked the circus images twice. So here is another one….again.

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.

Branding Day at the Chicken Ranch

Branding Day at the Chicken Ranch

I have been feeling a strong pull to do something different in the past few months. While most of the people who know me would recognize this and pieces like Nurses in a Boat, that I posted previously, as my work, they are I think a departure and for better or worse bring a freshness.

48″ x 60″, inkjet on aluminum with varnish coating.

The Juggler

02 02 02 copy

Ok, I recently mentioned that I have done 2 jugglers in the past 3 years which, I am guessing, is no coincidence. Add a 3rd, which happens to be my favorite, and I think we not only have a pattern in my art making, but also in my psychological state.

This is also the third in my new ( small) circus series. I have actually done four, but am rethinking the woman on the bike.. Woman on a Wire. I am thinking that the woman on the bike has to go. I am hoping to keep the background and just replace the rider.

Just to clarify, by small circus series, I mean that I am only doing 4-6 pieces

10 Rules

10 Rules

I ran across these rules when I was at the Diebenkorn exhibit at the de Young Museum in San Francisco earlier this year. I had planned to type them out when I had a thought, I’ll bet someone has these posted online. So here they are… and it just so happens, they are at one of my favorite online places Brain Pickings.http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/08/23/richard-diebenkorn-10-rules-for-painting/

10 Rules for Creative Projects from Iconic Painter Richard Diebenkorn
www.brainpickings.org
“Do search. But in order to find other than what it searched for.” On a recent visit to the Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years, 1953—– click link to go to Brain Pickings for rest of story and rules

The Flying Woman

The Flying Woman

Circus Series, also 48″ x 72″.

After two days of working on this, I literally had my finger on the delete button when I got a new idea. Woman’s dress from photo I took of mannequin, vintage circus cannon in Wisconsin when I was driving through, signs in background from Texas truck stop, crowd from Louvre…looking at Mona Lisa and dozens of other photos used that I have taken from almost everywhere.

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

The Enduring Appeal of the Apocalypse

The Enduring Appeal of the Apocalypse

Back in May of 2011, I did this one-off as a tribute and commemorative poster for the end of the world. I had just heard about our love of end of the world stories on NPR and then came across an article in the Wall Street Journal, which is where I got the title. I do not often bring pieces back out, but somehow it seemed fitting for Halloween. Maybe it is the scariest piece I have… not that everyone would agree with that, for reasons I would not want to know.

As a footnote, I seldom use photos as my base that I do not personally take, but in this case, the person pictured is my father at 21. Those are my arms and Andy Warhol’s eyes. The people in the crowd were looking at and photographing the Mona Lisa when I photographed them

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.

Barbara Kruger at Hirshhorn, “Yes, No, Maybe”and Kerry James Marshall at the National Gallery

Barbara Kruger Exhibit at Hirshhorn, Yes, No, Maybe exhibit and Kerr James Marshall at the National Gallery

After beginning with modest goals starting with the idea that I would just see the Kruger exhibit at the Hirshhorn, today, things quickly got out of control as I dropped by the Freer Gallery to see Asian art ,including Buddhas from everywhere and every time period. I knew how my day would go from here. Despite Eckhart, Pema and all other forms of Zen masters telling me that I am not my thoughts, I know and my thoughts know who is in control.

It was almost lunch, and with my thoughts/injunctions in place, I knew that i would need food in order to keep up the pace! preferably food and espresso. While there was no easy Espresso to come by, I did find one of the best chicken Philly Cheese sandwiches I have ever had from the New York Express truck in front of the National Gallery.

After this, I had no choice but to go into the National Gallery to see the Yes, No and Maybe exhibit; the religious icons exhibit and the Kerry James Marshall exhibit.

While the Marshall exhibit was the star of the show today, Yes, No and Maybe, subtitled “Artists Working at Crown Point Press” is also a must see if you have interest in printmaking or just the creative process.

I had never seen Marshall’s work in person. I had seen it in books and online and like a lot of art, especially art that is 12’+ wide and 8’tall, one has to see it in person to fully appreciate the quality and power of the work and the artist’s voice.

I can not believe it has been 10 years since I have been to Washington. It is apparent that I need to come back sooner next time

New Landscapes begin part two of the art making season

image

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