I get my hair done every 4 - 5 month at this super cool salon owned by ultra chic Nicole. So when she asked me to put my art on her walls I was more than willing. It was also a great opportunity to show some of my new work.
It has been almost a year since I've created a new piece. I've been so busy with other things in my life. But constantly longing to get into the studio and create. The way I reignited my love for painting 14 years ago was by buying a house and needing art on the walls. Through painting for myself I became inspired to continue this path. Then after this became a business and I started getting commissions I lost my enthusiasm. Or rather I lost the willingness to make time for this thing that I love which gives my comfort.
This last weekend with my partner out of town I had time to finally paint the walls in my house. I have to admit that I absolutely love painting walls. There is something so satisfying about it. With new color on the walls I have been faced with the same dilemma that had originally inspired me so much. I am now selfishly inspired to create something for my own walls. This feels so much better than having to do a commission.
More than in any other vocation, being an artist means always starting from nothing. Our work as artists is courageous and scary. There is no brief that comes along with it, no problem solving that’s given as a task… An artist’s work is almost entirely inquiry based and self-regulated. It is a fragile process of teaching oneself to work alone, and focusing on how to hone your quirky creative obsessions so that they eventually become so oddly specific that they can only be your own.
In Japan there is a kind of reverence for the art of mending. In the context of the tea ceremony there is no such thing as failure or success in the way we are accustomed to using those words. A broken bowl would be valued precisely because of the exquisite nature of how it was repaired, a distinctly Japanese tradition ofkintsugi, meaning to “to patch with gold”. Often, we try to repair broken things in such a way as to conceal the repair and make it “good as new.” But the tea masters understood that by repairing the broken bowl with the distinct beauty of radiant gold, they could create an alternative to “good as new” and instead employ a “better than new” aesthetic. They understood that a conspicuous, artful repair actually adds value. Because after mending, the bowl’s unique fault lines were transformed into little rivers of gold that post repair were even more special because the bowl could then resemble nothing but itself. Here lies that radical physical transformation from useless to priceless, from failure to success. All of the fumbling and awkward moments you will go through, all of the failed attempts, all of the near misses, all of the spontaneous curiosity will eventually start to steer you in exactly the right direction.
In those moments when you feel discouraged or lost in the studio, or when you experience rejection, rest completely assured that what you don’t know about something is also a form of knowledge, though much harder to understand. In many ways, making art is like blindly trying to see the shape of what you don’t yet know. Whenever you catch a little a glimpse of that blind spot, of your ignorance, of your vulnerability, of that unknown, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to stare at it. Instead, try to relish in its profound mystery. Art is about taking the risk of engaging in something somewhat ridiculous and irrational simply because you need to get a closer look at it, you simply need to break it open to see what’s inside.
We live in a meritocratic society, where accomplishments are constantly being measured externally, where forms are always read from the outside, where comfort and lifestyle are often mistaken for success, or even happiness. Don’t be fooled. Our ideas regarding success should be our own, and I urge you to pursue it simultaneously from both the inside and the outside… As artists, it will be especially difficult to measure these ideas of what success may be because you have chosen a practice that is entirely dependent on being willing to possibly fail, over and over again regardless of any successes that do come your way.
For the most part people are aware of what the outside of success looks like… Outside success always seems to look terribly glamorous, and every once in a while it can be. But it still never means all that much, and it still never makes the work of the work any easier — if anything, it makes it a little harder because the stakes get higher; the possible humble failures become less private and more visible and more cruelly judged.
A kind of panic sets in the very next day, an urge to get into the studio because you know you have to start all over again, building something from nothing, seeking the company of those trusted beneficial failures, waiting for those absurd internal dialogues with your own gang of voices. It’s not a very glamorous scenario. But this is precisely what internal success looks like. It is visible only to yourself and while you can trick the rest of the world into thinking you are a good artist, you can never really convince yourself, which is why you keep trying. If you’re lucky and motivated enough to keep making art, life is quiet, you get to work at what you love doing, happily chipping away at something, constructing something, adjusting to a cycle of highs and lows and in betweens, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing it for two years or 50 years, the patterns remain exactly the same. The anxiety continues to set in, the doubts creep in, the baby steps towards mending fragments starts all over again, the cautious urge to peek between the cracks is there. When you find yourself in that place, that’s when you’ll know that the inside is driving the outside.
Being an artist is not just about what happens when you are in the studio. The way you live, the people you choose to love and the way you love them, the way you vote, the words that come out of your mouth, the size of the world you make for yourselves, your ability to influence the things you believe in, your obsessions, your failures — all of these components will also become the raw material for the art you make.
-MacArthur Genius Teresita Fernández’s Magnificent Commencement Address
A few times a year I go on retreat. In silence I am not supposed to have any electronic devices. This is a Buddhist retreat. I'm meditating for 16 hours a day and studying the Dharma. It is pretty amazing. But my last retreat I smuggled in my phone and took pictures of my experience.
My main goal in having my phone was to take photos of the colors of the hills and the textures of nature in Spring. I spent so much time outside hiking and meditating on nature. And now I'm working on a huge piece of art based on the textures and colors I saw on this retreat.
I also had to take a picture of the chocolate bar I smuggled in, which represented my addiction and guilt. And of course the power outlet in my room next to my bed, which seemed weird since we were not allowed to have any electronic devices. Maybe they knew we would cheat. It was just there to let me know it was ok if I slipped. That outlet made all of my indiscretions ok. Even all the naps I took when I should have been on the mat..
This is a chronicle of the experience that clears my head and allows me to work my shit out.
“If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
― Kurt Vonnegut
Woke up this morning inspired with new ideas. Spent the day creating, painting and reading poetry.
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
— by Charles Bukowski
That time Art Club sat around and drew portraits of each other. The very talented Pee Wee drew this of me.
One of my Collectors sent me this photo of my piece hanging in his house.
When I was a kid my father had restored an old scooter with my brother. We would ride that thing around my grandmothers property, practically beating each other up to get a turn on the scooter. Years later in 2009 when my father passed away I was compelled to buy a scooter. It was almost as if my father was telling me to do it. I just knew that the scooter would make me feel better. So I bought this Chinese scooter called a Lance Charming. It was only 50cc’s. I bought a sweet speed racer helmet to match. As soon as I got on that scooter I started giggling with excitement. The same I felt when I finally got my turn as a kid. Now it was always my turn. I began scooting everywhere. I was one of only a few people on scooters in my area, and I got a lot of weird looks and thumbs up from backseat kids. But I never stopped. and in 2013 I upgraded to my dream scooter, a Vespa Piaggio with all the fixins. When I need inspiration I go for a ride. It always changes my frame of mind. A am always happy when Scootin.
Recently my mother reunited me with a few childhood things. Among the pile of schoolwork and photos was this poem I wrote in first grade.
This has become the cornerstone of my studio. Always an Artist