Monday, September 23, 2013

Cosmic Pull

Now that the destinies of Heaven and Earth 
have been fixed; 
Trench and canal have been given their proper course;
The banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates
have been established;
What else shall we do?
What else shall we create?
Oh Anunaki, you great gods of the sky, 
what else shall we do?
 - The Assyrian account of the creation of Man, 800 B.C.

Cosmic Pull II, 48" x 36", oil on canvas, 2013.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Doodle of the Day - The Act of God

Yesterday I was reviewing a file with old cartoons I created c.2005, and then back-to-back reggae songs happen to play on the radio, two tunes that I happened to listen to over and over around the time I created these exact cartoons. It really seemed like an Act of God.

The songs have nothing to do with the cartoons, but here's the Act of God from c.2005:

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Time Travel

Time Travel, 44" x 32", oil on acrylic sheet, 2013. 

An excerpt from History of Art, H.W. Janson,1964: "[T]he creative process consists of a long series of leaps of the imagination and the artist's attempts to give them form by shaping the material accordingly. The hand tries to carry out the commands of the imagination and hopefully puts down a brush stroke, but the result may not be quite what had been expected, partly because all matter resists the human will, partly because the image in the artist's mind is constantly shifting and changing, so that the commands of the imagination cannot be very precise. . .

"[A]rtistic creation is too subtle and intimate an experience to permit an exact step-by-step description; only the artist himself can observe it fully, but he is so absorbed by it that he has great difficulty explaining it to us. Still, our metaphor of birth comes closer to the truth than would a description of the process in terms of a transfer or projection of the image from the artist's mind, for the making of a work of art is both joyous and painful, replete with surprises, and in no sense mechanical."

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Doodle of the Day - Back To School Sale

It seems there is a "Back To School Sale!" for everything out there...

This doodle was created on a postcard from

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Art, Craft, and Alchemy

"[T]he making of a work of art has little in common with what we ordinarily mean by 'making.' It is a strange and risky business in which the maker never quite knows what he is making until he has actually made it; or, to put it another way, it is a game of find-and-seek in which the seeker is not sure what he is looking for until he has found it. . .

"To the non-artist, it seems hard to believe that this uncertainty, this need-to-take-a-chance, should be the essence of the artist's work. For we all tend to think of 'making' in terms of the craftsman or manufacturer who knows exactly what he wants to produce from the very outset, picks the tools best fitted to his task and is sure of what he is doing at every step. Such 'making' is a two-phase affair: first the craftsman makes a plan, then he acts on it. And because he -- or his customer -- has made all the important decisions in advance, he has to worry only about means, rather than ends, while he carries out his plan. There is thus little risk, but also little adventure, in his handiwork, which as a consequence tends to become routine. It may even be replaced by the mechanical labor of a machine.

"No machine, on the other hand, can replace the artist, for with him conception and execution go hand in hand and are so completely interdependent that he cannot separate the one from the other. Whereas the craftsman only attempts what he knows to be possible, the artist is always driven to attempt the impossible -- or at least the improbable or unimaginable. . .

"The urge to penetrate unknown realms, to achieve something original, may be felt by every one of us now and then; to that extent, we can all fancy ourselves potential artists -- mute inglorious Miltons. What sets the real artist apart is not so much the desire to seek, but that mysterious ability to find which we call talent. . .

"All we can really say about talent is that it must not be confused with aptitude. Aptitude is what the craftsman needs; it means a better-than-average knack for doing something that any ordinary person can do. An aptitude is fairly constant and specific; it can be measured with some success by means of tests which permit us to predict future performance. Creative talent, on the other hand, seems utterly unpredictable; we can spot it only on the basis of past performance. . . 

"Originality, then, is what distinguishes art from craft. We may say, therefore, that it is the yardstick of artistic greatness or importance. Unfortunately, it is also very hard to define; the usual synonyms -- uniqueness, novelty, freshness -- do not help us very much, and the dictionaries tell us only that an original work must not be a copy, reproduction, imitation, or translation. What they fail to point out is that originality is always relative: there is no such thing as a completely original work of art. . . ." H.W. Janson, History of Art, 1964.

The above passage reminds me to strive to create something beyond what we know. The path is infinite, and we as artists must stay on course for as long as our minds remain cognizant. If we should find ourselves following a pre-discovered formula, then we have demoted our yardsticks to measuring simple distances rather than originality. But if we find ourselves in the unknown, we should know that we may be on to something.   

A craftsman laughs at the idea of turning lead into gold, as it is the practice of a foolhardy alchemist, but I think an artist should strive to be more like the latter than the former.   

Cosmic Pull I, 44" x 32", oil on acrylic sheet, 2013.

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Doodle of the Day - Bring Your Own Bag

Many grocery stores in Los Angeles County are charging customers for grocery bags if they don't bring their own reusable bags. While this is an environmentally conscious trend to reduce plastics, here's its practical effect on guys like me...

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