Scene from Story

I have always drawn, doodled and painted but just as a way to burn off excess energy. I was originally solely (in professional capacity) an author. As I mulled over a paragraph or scene I would draw or paint.

Not too many years ago I became more serious about my visual work and also started putting real work effort into it.

I feel very fortunate to now have an audience into what I am doing and who are not even necessarily aware that I write.

Part of my daily work schedule is now specifically for visual work. Aside from the allotted time and the nightly woodshedding in my Midori, I do also still draw as I mull over the words.

Occasionally I have a cross pollination, the pen will inspire the brush or vice versa.

This is 5×8 image tied in with an essay I am currently working on.





Smaller works of art might be of ideal size for where it is going to be placed. There is resistance to this though, as on a subconscious level (at least),  some people equate “more” of something with it being better.

It is faulty logic, unless a work’s size is an intentional component, bigger to near on point of domination of a space, is not better. Bang for your buck should never be a cultural consideration.

In the age of consumerism, a sort of forced perception resulting from faulty logic.  Just as physically bigger books with higher page count are automatically deemed harder reads (most of the densest books I have read all have had relatively average page counts, it is ideas and style that create density) it is letting the wrong factors inform opinion.

More and more I lean towards smaller works. They lend themselves to lessening the “I am looking at art” sensation while furthering the “I am feeling something/something from this”.

It could be a generational thing, I am wary of deflated attention spans and lapsed concentration of gallery goers. People having become used to necks bent in worship of i phones or tablet will do a cursory look at larger piece, eyes flitting across the canvas to capture “the point” of it at cost of all the other things going on which contribute to a work’s tension & release.  Smaller works, there is no dead space all the poetry and flavor is enmeshed with “the point”.

I do vary the sizes of my works but with the largest being 11×14, no one will ever call any of them big.

Seattle 5.5×8.5



Lion Alone

I was safely ensconced in my hotel room and ready to work. There was heavy marble topped table on wheels atop of whose curved feet I put my own while painting.

In between, i would walk up the hill for drinks and let strangers make confessions to me as i swirled the cubes in my glass counter clockwise with my left hand.

No one here would call to see when i would be out and about which then delayed the process. Instead I would see on the peripheral, people who surprisingly quickly, had learned where I liked to haunt, waiting.

My first stop would always be the record store. Everyone was always telling me that they were willing to accompany me. While it might have been nice to have company on the way, I had a process. I had learned with Tania that it was not enjoyable for anyone but myself. The record store was too hot, to my surprise after having walked back and forth between several bins, upon leaving I had spent way longer inside than I had realized.

I showed up to the cafes and bars with my brown paper wrapped purchases, ready to build an empty glass cityscape upon the tabletop with whomever had been waiting for me.

I am not anti drama, but I think organic things and beauty have more power. A pleasure for me is the ability to take some thing from my daily existence and then conjure it into my work.

It is not necessary and also has the potential to become a trap if an artist uses their personal lexicon of totems and symbols for every piece. But once in a while, the organics of it make for art which resonates emotion. Not necessarily as upfront dramatic as an artificially induced thing, it is of a more lasting impression to the viewer.


Lion Alone watercolor & paper 5.5×8.5



Lion Alone



New Sketchpad & Paper

Disclaimer: I received no compensation/incentive for writing about this, nor was i given any type of review copies.

Up until a few years ago, I was hung up on finding “the perfect notebook (sketchpad)”. There were a few that were outright belly flops, more effort being put into articulate descriptions which initially caught my attention rather than actual construction.

Others, like my now ever present Midori Passport had a good system but do not exactly have that eventual heirloom feel to them.

I did not seek to start a collection and although I eventually ended up with several drawers of my taborets full of pads, it was not done at a maniacal pace.

Often I am on the road. Several trips I packed more equipment than I would end up using.  Not a happy flyer, I like to pack as light as possible so my shoulders do not hurt, adding to already uncomfortable situation.

When one finds the most efficient or best way to do something, after the fact it seems so obvious that there is the self asked question “Why wasn’t I doing it this way from the start?”.

There is no “perfect” notebook as different situations, what is ideal or required varies. The one constant prerequisite was that it be refillable. Other than that, sometimes I need one which fits in a jacket pocket while at other times something larger or an in between size for a few day jaunt carry on bag.

I now have a preferred one for every situation. When not on the road but merely woodshedding, i mix it up, trading off which I use.

Despite now having my methodology down, I do still occasionally buy more notebooks. There is no rhyme or reason to it. A matter of if something captures my eye.

Using the last nubbin of a pencil which had been a great collaborator, I went to the store only to find they did not have any. Ordering it online, i decided to poke around for the hell of it. A less vapid version of shopping therapy.

My shelves groaned under all my books, I could not add to their number. I kept looking. I came across Le Vent notebooks by complete happanstance. They had two styles one which held 7×5 spiral bound notepad and the other a 8×5 sketchpad.

Staggered by a week or two I ended up getting them both.

Aesthetically, they are very different. The 7×5 looked like a new take on the classic portfolios that Torquato Tasso or Casanova would have kept their papers in. Modernized with two brass snaps to hold it shut in lieu of cumbersome leather straps. The leather was of surprisingly good quality. With leather goods, be it a bag, shoes or notepads there are nice things which daily life leaves its marks on, creating an “Oh No” effect upon initially being noticed. Then there are the leather good which do not mar so much as tell the story of where you have been, taking on a nice patina. These pads fall into the later category.

Unique among this type of thing, it opens and lays flat on the table which makes the act of writing for any length of time much easier. It came with two pads of thick good paper. As long as you size it correctly, any pads will work although the included brand is far from cost prohibitive.

The 8×5 sketchpad looks like a book with a snap buttoned  strap to keep it shut. The leather is a different one from the other pad but of equal quality. The paper it comes with is a flat spined, sewn binding. The paper is heavy and has a vellum like smoothness to it. Again, any pad sized correctly will work.

All the times that I have purchased new notebooks, I use the paper it comes with, the main incentive being merely because it’s there. Rarely is the paper something which I would use regardless, often seeming an afterthought on the part of the company. This is paper which I would continue to use. It handles a little differently the what I usually use but I like to mix things up.

Their Site:

Here are my initial forays with my new notebook:





Herbert West Sings Songs of Romance

This piece upon initial glance can seem an arresting or slightly off putting subject. Continued observation allows for awareness of the delicate coloration and despite subject matter, a beauty.

This dichotomy is what I was after.

The piece is part of an ongoing series “Drinking with Doctors”.
The paper is a mixed media paper 98LBs It is my second ever painting using this paper







Some of the greatest painters considered drawing not a preparatory work for painting but rather complete works unto themselves. I get as much pleasure drawing as I do putting brush to canvas and deeply share this point of view.

People talk of the “lizard” part of the brain. This might exist on deep subconscious level but i think closer to the surface of modern man is a simian. Few now are gracious in defeat or frustration of not getting what they want. I myself am constantly throwing bananas at my more primal self to keep him compliant as I make my way through society.


Urges 9×12 Graphite & Paper



A Perfect Circle

For my paintings I change up both the type of paper and size with every piece. This keeps things fresh and makes me have to think differently for compositional balance. Were I ever to only use one size, eventually i would inherently know the proper choreography. The properties of color too can change with the size of a piece.

There is an established range of sizes for me though. The smallest being 5.5×8.5 to the largest 11×14.

Each size of paper is different from vellum to French cotton to mixed media to American cotton.  All the different materials posses their own inherent properties which call for slightly different touch from one medium to the other.

The mixed media paper is the most unforgiving. I enjoy the challenge and  much like a runner training for a race using ankle weights, when I use French Cotton paper which I find to be my preferred, it seems “easier”.

Visually I still get the effects & results I want with the mix media paper. It looks slightly different from when I am using cotton paper. My voice still ever present it is similar in effect to the effect of playing different venues for a musician.

I use three different sizes of mixed media paper but all had been the same brand, Canson.

By happenstance I just came across another company when at the art store to buy pencils. Strathmore in the same size and weight as my Canson.

It seems obvious now, but I had not thought to vary or explore companies with my mixed media paper.

Right out of  the gate I enjoyed the Strathmore. My first piece gave me results I wanted.

With all my paper I just mentally have them arranged in a circle, each has a number and there is no thought given to which paper to use next as the subject matter may be up in the air but the type & size of paper is already predetermined. I will now add the Strathmore to my perfect circle of paper.


“Absinthe Eyes” 9×12 Strathmore (98lb) Mixed Media Paper





Audrey’s Birthday

Audrey wanted to do something different for her birthday which was one of those momentous numbers, more so for women than men. The thought of drunkenly lurching about town with some of her girlfriends all festooned with cheap feather boas while being too loud held not appeal for her.

She asked if I would paint her and then afterwards would be a party.

I agreed readily enough as there was something of an awkward swan or perhaps giraffe about her which I thought would make for a compelling piece.

There was no preconceived notion of  how I wanted to put her,  organic body language was of the most importance to me.

“How do you want me?”

I told her to just get in any position that was comfortable. While I worked fast, she still needed to be able to maintain the pose.

I began to study the way her shirt draped on her shoulders, the bunching of material at her wrists.

She settled by the window but there was too much light coming from behind her. Moving to the couch she stopped a moment inhaling then exhaling deeply as would a diver before a fall.

One of the buttons to her shirt went missing with a sound that reminded me of candy as it hit the floor. Now nude, Audrey took a Cleopatra pose on the couch.

To my surprise she was calm during the session. It was only afterwards, at the party she seemed to become a little giddy as she told people what she had done.

None of us want to talk about the weather. I understand the etiquette need for small talk. For someone who has just done something; come back from a trip, bought a house or dog, executed a painting, it is more fatiguing as the same comments and questions are presented over and over.

I did participate until I had encountered one example of everything there was to say on the matter of being an artist & the painting I had just done of Audrey.

I found a quiet corner to sit and nurse my drink. Audrey’s friends were all polite so that she could put out the good stuff and the crowd would show some restraint, allowing it to last the whole night as opposed to merely an hour as some other crowds would have done.

An old man sat across from me. He had on a short sleeve powder blue shirt in whose pocket i saw poking out an eyeglass case and the rounded end of a cigar. We gave each other the casual nod of our chins.

When I was younger and asked about my work or art in general there was an over earnest need to try to make people understand. Now I realize that , when it comes up in the casual conversation, at best it is on account of a mild curiosity. No one wants to to sit through a soliloquy on painting at some social function.

I had expended all my painterly small talk.  A woman holding a martini glass at a perilous angle wandered over to our spot. She asked the old man:

“What is it that you do?”

“I…am what you call a tinkerer.”

A friend called to her from across the room and she flitted away.

“I was going to say that.”

He pulled out his cigar.

“Do you mind?”

“Not at all.”

As he lit up with three deep puffs his eyes twinkled.

“I know I am not supposed to be smoking in here but no one ever yells at an old man. An old man and midgets can get away with anything, taking the last slice of pie, over staying our welcome, anything. Because no one wants to reprimand us. One would think it would be similar for children but if a child annoys, you can let go at them and then make yourself feel better by telling yourself that it’s a teaching moment.”

The scent of his cigar was good. I thought of my grandfather’s study while imagining that Berlin now was very different.


“Audrey’s Birthday” 9×12 watercolor & mix media paper

“Sy” 9×12 graphite & paper






I am near on obsessive in exploring properties of different equipment & materials I use for my art. This is one way of avoiding repeating myself or having the process, which in itself brings me great joy, from becoming mechanical.

There is the preferred equipment & materials I use but i constantly break things up. I utilize paper & pencils of drastically different quality over the course of my weekly woodshedding. The challenge of working with not so great paper or pencils makes it so that when i use my ideal it is easier. It also allows me to work under any conditions and to even improvise at a moment (in a bar, cafe or party) when I had no intention of doing so to good results.

The most important aspect for me in not being rigidly locked down in how i create is that I want a recognizable voice but to never slip merely into mannerism(s).

With my painting, for every piece i switch off the size and style of paper. It keeps me engaged in the work and far from mannerisms.

With Miles, he sounded great regardless of which of his trumpets he used. However, he did have certain trumpets he would use for specific pieces.  Of course he could have used any trumpet for any song and sounded great but he felt that although his voice was ever present when playing, each trumpet had its own properties which it injected into the overall feel of the song.

So it is for me with the paper I use for painting. Different paper has inherent properties which add a component to the work. My voice is always there but effected to a certain degree by the medium.

Even with knowing this, I do not change my method of which paper I use. There is specific rotation regardless of which I feel is best for portraying flesh etc. This too is a nice challenge and discipline which I find invaluable.



“Hommage John Lurie” 9×12 Canson Multi Media Papper 98LB

“Foot Brace” 7×10 French Cotton Paper