Crooks on Tape

I have been a fan of the music of John Schmersal since his days in Brainiac. Each of his subsequent bands has been different, the commonality being his ability to be genre defying, throwing whatever he enjoys into the mix.

He revisits one of the bands which also features Joey Galvan (drums) and Rick Lee (samples & sounds) both of whom possess equally cool musical pedigrees.

They just released a limited edition ep Prime Time / More Dismay on Blind Rage Records which features special guest star DANNY RAY THOMPSON from Sun-Ra on baritone sax.

It is a special picture disk. I had pleasure of doing the front & back cover plus the actual image on the disc all, of which are from my CINEFIELDS®

CINEFIELD® Return

After a year plus of sheltering in place, one of the first things I did when at liberty to go out again was to restart taking walks. In finding a positive from a negative, the little things now all seemed fresh, new & beautiful. The palms, ferns and other tropical plants which grow up out of the sidewalks looked fantastic to my thirsty eye. The tiny architectural flourishes to be found on various older buildings previously unnoticed, now interesting and meriting a stop to look.

I am in no huge rush to go back to bars or even restaurants. It is my now twice daily walks which have made me once again start to feel among the living. I went to the local farmers market, half a second of apprehension from now finding myself among so many people again. The flower merchants with their plastic buckets offering sprays of color.

It is beauty not merely seen on my computer monitor nor emerging from the end of my hand onto paper that lets me know that I am returning to life.

This piece is 11×14. As always is the case, all the images are from photos I personally took ( in this instance from walks in park and farmers market). There is no digital magic, just my trusty scissors and adhesive applied with a brush.

Lyra Two

Now twenty days past my second vaccine, I can start dealing with things which had been on hold for year plus. The vents in my studio needed flushing/servicing. Because of this, I could not do a painting nor start a                 CINEFIELD® which would put sheets of tiny cut out components everywhere.

I did my nightly drawing but also continued to hone my Lyra chops. This was perfect medium for my situation as it was like painting but each piece was one session after which I could put equipment away.

Studio is back up and running and i have started a new  CINEFIELD®. As these are time consuming, i decided to post some more of my Lyra pieces.

Each is 9×12

Lyra

I have specific pens, pencils etc that I use. Of course I constantly challenge myself by using lesser quality equipment, it makes using preferred stuff feel easy. As far as travel kits, i am forever tweaking that, the cases and holders all my equipment goes into. I always have three kits; the one for just bopping around the city. This is the smallest and its just a refillable pocket pad, retractable pencil and in the pocket sleeve of the pad a blender or two. This is used as I sit in cafe or bar locally, just doing quick guerilla sketching. As a side note, this is always within reach of my hand and has been around the world with me. I realized that because of the pandemic, it saw zero action for a year plus! It has sat in drawer of one of my tabourets awaiting its chance to see some action. My other kit is for short trips four days or less of being away from home. This is pocket pad, 5×8 pad few traditional pencils of different degrees of hardness and two types mechanical pencil & blenders. It’s still fairly compact, easily carried in book bag. Short trips, I do not bother bringing any painting accoutrements. My last kit is for longer trips week or more and this includes paints etc. The long trip kit is the one i tweak the most often as it’s important for me to work but very quickly space within a suitcase can be taken up.

I discovered during the pandemic a small company that made cases geared towards road warrior artists. The case was very flat and it came loaded with “free” pencils, erasers and all kinds of other sketching swag. Obviously I have not had chance try it out on road. I did try the pencils and sharpeners. All of it was of such low quality it got thrown out. It contained a small cellophane pouch inside of which was three short, pudgy graphite sticks. It reminded me almost of tailors chalk. I had never used it before, so decided try for hell of it. I enjoyed challenge of it and was actually pleased with pieces i did. My way of thinking was that if I could make something happen with low quality version, then using some made by a quality company would be even better. I started doing some research. One thing i found was that the Lyra graphite sticks were said to be basically the same thing, with benefit of being able to sharpen to a point where as the sticks were basically short rectangles.

I had bought one along with a sharpener ages ago but had not used it. I started messing around with it and found i really liked it, the pieces I did were loose and had a painterly effect. Lyra also makes water solvable ones. I bought one to try. It is a game changer for me. It fits in my pocket and all i need is that and one brush and I can do monochromatic watercolors. This will allow me to paint on short trips and not have to up the equipment i take. The actual process is quicker than my normal painting and best of all, I do not need sunlight and can actually do these at night. Two things not possible with my regular painting.

here are my first tries with it. I am sure that the more I do this, the better i will get but I am already pleased with results.

In the Eights: The Beautiful Sisters

My In the Eights series has garnered an audience which I am pleased about. My one reservation, using found images to take my trusty scissors to, has become a non issue as people now volunteer to model. As it is an ongoing project, i am always open to new models. Email me for details.

They are meant to be beautiful but also slightly off putting. One part H.P Lovecraft and one part Impressionist painting.

As always, there is no digital magic, just trusty scissors and adhesive applied with a brush. roughly 3×5. Special thanks to model Beauty

City Crawl

I am finishing up a section of my novel before i stop to type (while continuing to take notes). It has not allowed me to start another CINEFIELD® nor painting. Of course during the interim I have continued to draw & woodshed.

For a while I had only done cityscapes so that I had a portion of my audience only knew me from that. I took a break from it and then ended up not rejecting it, but getting caught up in everything else that I was doing

I decided to return to it and do another one as it would give me the satisfaction I derive from larger projects without the distraction of having equipment out and in my way as I paced the studio as I write.

As I did this piece, i got just as much enjoyment from it as I ever had. My initial conception was to finish it in colored pencil but I felt there would be a loss of detail. Also I wanted to do something a little different from the other cityscapes I have done.

The piece is 11×14. I just used a basic pencil and finished it with a fine marker.

Lipstick

After all the time spent on my last CINEFIELD®, it felt great to get back to painting. I feel all the mediums in which I create are of equal value even though some of my audience only knows me through one of them.

“Lipstick” 9×12 Watercolor on paper

Cinefield® – Dante

I never want to repeat myself. There are some of my direct peers whose works I enjoy but after knowing them for a few years came the feeling that once you had seen a few of their pieces, you have seen it all. One way to sidestep this is by constantly mixing things up, leaving one’s comfort zone.

For myself, I do this by shaking up my methodology, intentionally putting aside things which I know will work procedurally or which I have done already a few times.

I always like to have my work possess a sort of open ended quality so that the viewer feels that there is a story within but it is up to each person to decide what it is.

This time I changed that up making a work which is intentionally programmatic.

The two books i return to time and again over the course of my life are Homer and Dante. I am far from the first artist in visual arts or letters to find inspiration within the pages of these two works. The appeal for all of us is that they offer so many possibilities of dramatic moments. And even two artists showing the same scene will present two completely different works.

I did not choose a specific scene from Dante. Instead, it is the idea of him following the shade of Virgil, seeing all the shades in their free falls on their way to the various rings.

I only used images for which i personally took the photos. The very bottom section is water rather than flames/lava. I felt that any kind of flame thing would be a little too on the nose, also i had not taken photos of any flames. As always, there is no digital magic. I just used my trusty scissors and adhesive applied with a brush.

Sheltering in place (still), I used whatever materials I had in hand. With all the figures, I got some cardboard, from packages delivered and constructed a little stage. I then painted it white. I painted each figure, applying different coats as to get color variations of darker and lighter blues and reds. I then took photos of the figures from various angles as to have it seem a myriad of different types of people rather than merely the five or six. Top views, side views etc, further create the effect of many types of people on their way to the deserved rings.

I always have a design in mind beforehand and primitively sketch it out. More often than not, as I am actually creating the piece, i tighten up the design. This piece originally had several clock faces from photos i took of the great clock at the Musée d’Orsay. I was going have a row dark blue versions of the girl seen in upper left corner as if the line were falling off top each clock to join all other shades. I was so pleased with the effect of depth and movement in the background of the vast crowd, i decided against it, feeling that it would detract.

The piece is 14×17

Gossip

Being in Paris has always been a sort of battery for my work. During this pandemic for the first time in decades I found myself cut off from my usual arrondissement and sources of inspiration. I recognize many had it far worse than I, so bare in mind I am not complaining. I needed to find a new way to work for essentially first time in my career.

I had my usual routine but mixed in with this were little challenges, explorations as to facilitate both evolution and insperation. I started several series utilizing new to me mediums, ideas and goals.

Gossip in one of them. It is not a book so much as a work of art which utilizes text. It is not only something very different for me but in general unique. I would call the art “immediate” in the same sense as some of the works by Wayne White & Ed Ruscha’s text incorporated pieces. You view it, have initial ideas but then chew upon it after the fact.

One thing I highly recommend is that you do not take a peek inside as amazon offers but rather go in completely cold with no idea what awaits you. Were it up to me, I would offer no “sneak peek” but amazon has other ideas in that department.

Rarely do i promote my works to buy. I would always rather have an audience than customers. With Gossip, it is meant to be viewed as a whole start to finish and there is simply no way to show parts of it in journals or what not without loss of effect.

All the images are created by me as is the text.

From the back cover:

At its best, the stream of life is like a great jazz standard. There is the familiar melody but with each player there are infinite variations and improvisations occurring within the known framework. Not just what the player says but the way in which it is said, the tone, make it worth revisiting. Further variation derives from our perceptions. One person’s requiem is another’s calliope.

Here is my riffing on humanity, flurries of notes darkly funny, tragic and image rich.

In the Car

I have started reading The William H Gass reader. Right out of the gate I found myself deeply enjoying it. One of the first essays is on books which were touchstones for his life as an author. Early on he makes a point of drawing a distinction, it is not supposed to be a “best books” list but rather ones which resonated personally for him and which served in his journey into becoming an author.

He mentions Flaubert’s Bouvard et Pécuchet. Of the trinity of Flaubert, Balzac and Zola I had always held him in the least esteem (with Zola being, in general, one of my favorite authors). Right before returning to France a few years ago I read the excellent bio on Cezanne by Alex Danchev. Cezanne talks so passionately about Flaubert, i felt the stirrings of considering giving him another try.

That season I kept meeting Helene and Charlie for drinks and book talk. Her admiration of the trio was the inverse of mine. Her description has stuck with me:

“With Balzac, it was all money, money, money if only I had the money. With Zola it was sex, i need power to get sex, I use sex to get money to get power to have sex. But Flaubert, there is an author, the sentences each meticulously crafted.”

I decided to give Flaubert another try. I went to Gagliani and bought Sentimental Education and Bouvard et Pécuchet. I read Sentimental first. It was good, i definitely had more appreciation for Flaubert than I used to. It was Bouvard though which sealed the deal for me. I found the book darkly funny in the way early Celine had been.

What is interesting to me is that when this book is discussed it’s merits are often described via a shorthand of being “funny” ala wacky Swiftian satire. I think people perceive it this way because it and Sentimental Education form perfect bookends. The later is more outwardly “dark”. I like it, but really it is just a romantic era story of squandered potential and the dried up promises of bygone youth. And, of course, the usual chess like romantic patterns of the main characters. Bouvard is actually a darker novel.

Gass has very much same assessment. His articulation spot on and obvious, but not until you have heard him say it.

I would never argue interpretation with someone on art unless they were 100% wrong. With my own work, unlike when I was first starting out, I rarely talk about it. Fascinating though that art can have completely differing interpretations. Is one person wrong or are they merely noticing and emphasizing in talking of it, a different aspect than someone else?

The pandemic has effected people in drastically different ways. I am not talking about how they directly handle it i.e wearing a mask, not wearing a mask et al. Rather, the sea-change that has come over people in regards to their personal philosophy. For some it served as grim reminder that life is fleeting so live while you can. For others, it has served to bring on a sort of cautious vigilance less something else unexpected further swat us down.

A type of cabin fever-life is too short bubbles up in many and temporarily dictates their actions. I find myself getting notes, photos, movies which when looking at, I keep this in mind.

One of the photos which I recently received had an interesting compositional point of balance. I decided to make a painting of it. As i worked on it, I found people all had different interpretations on it. “Hot” “Silly” “Weird” “Beautiful”. Like Bouvard, it has a little bit of everything in it. The main overriding intent is not for me to say as why would I want to make anyone wrong and temper their enjoyment.

“In the Car” 9×12 watercolor & paper