Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Prelude and Fugue

Sometimes, robots and postmodern creatures are referred to as "canners" (ie. Asimov's I, Robot). So I am using this painting for IF's topic this week, canned.

I finally finished this, in the nick of time to enter it into a show (in New York City!) that is asking for work that is totally imaginary, that is, that wasn't made using references. I'm not holding my breath about getting in. Shows like this are a longshot at best, but it is unusual to find anyone that makes the distinction between work that is copied from photos and work that is purely from the artist's brain, so I had to try. The title I finally settled on is Prelude and Fugue. I hope Claire Corriveau will approve.

Monday, January 28, 2008


For IF's challenge: packed.
A kappa is a pretty disgusting creature in Japanese literature, whose head is hollow like a bowl on top. It attacks human beings in a rather rude way and has a fondness for cucumbers. One can trick it by bowing to it; when it returns the bow, it spills the water in the bowl that is its head, and therefore loses its power and becomes harmless. This kappa has had even more bad luck and lost its body entirely. His head is now used for storing light. This drawing was made with graphite on coquille paper.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


One time, I had some lima beans that had sprouted, and they looked just like fetuses to me. It made me think of the complex systems that plants and creatures are, all built upon the system of a seed.

Friday, January 25, 2008


When I made this painting, I was thinking about the reasons that people embrace organized religions. The medium of this painting is acrylic on canvasboard.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I've really been struggling with the robotic hands in this piece. Just today, I think I might be getting somewhere. I'm rushing to get this done to enter a competition that will compare pieces done with references to those done without. I rarely look at references; I generally just make things up as I go, so this show sounds like it might be a good one for me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Reckoning

For IF: Burning
For me, this drawing is about damage control, whatever forms it might be taking at one time or another. This drawing was done with charcoal on coquille paper.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Family Portrait

For IF's topic this week: similar

This is a drawing about grafted families. It was done with graphite on coquille paper.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Oni and the Tomato

I read a story once about an oni who came to an old woman's house and said he was going to eat her up. She told him that she would be much too tough and stringy, and wouldn't he rather have a nice tomato instead? She offered him a basket of tomatoes, still warm from the sun. In it, she had hidden her pin cushion, which looked exactly like the tomates from her garden but was full of pins and needles. The oni took one bite and went howling away down the lane. I've often thought about how the old woman prevailed over that bully by using her wits instead of violence. I'm posting this today for IF's topic, Giant, because the old woman beat a giant problem, literally and figuratively. Also, in this beginning summer season, I have Giant tomatoes on my mind.
This is an egg tempera painting on panel, with gold leaf.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


This is an older image, but it still has a story for me. It originated from a dream in which a dog/wolf grabbed my pocket and helped me across the street

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Today's IF topic is Muscles, so I reckon this guy fits.

When I first posted this drawing, I was reading a lot of Japanese folk tales, in which there are lots of beings imbued with a sort of divine spirit. The spirit is called 'mononoke', which might sound familiar because of the excellent anime film by Miyazaki called Princess Mononoke.

Sometimes, when people can do something really well, it seems like they tap into a spirit like that. It usually takes a long time to develop such ability. Maybe that's where he got all his muscles.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Progress report

I'm a very slow painter. The paintings in the blog represent months of painting time, and the drawings take about a week. It's partly because I have quite a few plates to keep spinning at once, and partly because my technique just takes time, both in the sense that I work in many thin layers of paint that have to be built up over time, and also because it takes my brain a long time to see what needs to be done. Since I generally don't use visual reference material, I tend to fuss over things like perspective and proportions for a long time. I also find that the idea continues to evolve as I work, and I go through many titles until I find one that works. This one has the working title of Scaffold. Some others that I am considering are Modernism on a Subway in D.C., Innerscape and Study in Grey on a Subway in D.C.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


For IF:
For me, this painting is a warning about keeping the home and heart safe while controlling influences that come into our lives through all kinds of technology in the global community.

Friday, January 11, 2008

You Are Invited

The great film maker Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke) said,"In an era of no borders, people who do not have a place to stand will be treated unseriously. A place is the past and history. A person with no history, a people who have forgotten their past, will vanish like snow, or be turned into chickens to keep laying eggs until they are eaten." (
Miyazaki seems to be celebrating the role of myths and narratives in the survival and growth of culture, especially in cultures where the boundaries are blurring with each global advancement, like our is now. Myths and narratives that have roots in ancient tales will help us retain the integrity of our cultures while branching into the global stories that are being created moment by moment.
One of the jobs of the artist is to observe and convey the flavor of a culture. This can be done through many different types of work, but I do it through the form of visual stories. All of my pieces can be thought of as visual stories, and though I have a story in mind when I make a piece of work, I feel that my version is by no means the only possible one. I think it is quite likely that each viewer could make a unique version that expresses the image. Viewed together, these stories might begin to tell us something about who we are and where we stand in our global village.
I would like to invite everyone who reads this blog to record a story about any of the pieces shown here by posting a comment about these paintings and drawings. These stories could be any length. One sentence could be enough as long as it conveys the meaning that the viewer experiences, and the posts can be anonymous. I hope you will consider participating in this project. Maybe it will keep us from being turned into chickens.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Green Willow 4

In this story, the beautiful Green Willow goes Poof! when her tree is cut down.

The old couple had a beautiful young daughter named Green Willow. Tomodata fell in love with her at once and spent a sleepless night thinking of her. Remembering his Lord's warnings, he left in the morning before the family awoke. By the old man he left a purse with money. Green Willow followed him and, his quest forgotten, they found a little house to live in. For three years, the couple lived very happily in love. One day they were in the garden when Green Willow fell very ill and told Tomodata that she was about to die. He asked what was the matter and she moaned, "The tree..they have cut down my tree." Then she slipped from his arms to the ground, where he found only her clothes, still warm and sweet from he body.
In his old age, Tomodata became a holy man and travelled from shrine to shrine. One day he looked up and saw a little battered house on a hill. In front of the house stood three willow stumps. Tomodata stood for a long time looking at the stumps, singing a song to Green Willow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Green Willow 3

'Before the fire sat the good old man of the house, and the two old people didthe very best they could for Tomodata."

Monday, January 7, 2008

Green Willow 2

For IF: imperfect
Ha! This image is certainly that! One of these days I'll fix this poor old girl's face so that it doesn't look smashed in on one side.

The story continues:
On the third day of Tomodata's journey, he encountered a fierce storm. Tomodata became lost and just when he was in despair, the clouds parted and the moon shone on a tiny cottage on a hill. In front of the cottage stood three green weeping-willow trees. Tomodata called out at the door and at once the door was opened by an old woman, who was dressed poorly but neatly. The old woman welcomed him in to rest and eat.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Green Willow 1

There is a Japanese folktale called Green Willow in which a young samurai named Tomodata is sent on a misson by his daimyo, the Lord of Noto, to deliver a message. The daimyo ordered him to ride without fear of enemies, weather or terrain. "Above all, do not look any maid between the eyes. Ride, and bring me word again quickly." This is a portrait of Tomodata. It is an erased charcoal drawing.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Lesson

For IF: Sneaky
This came about because of having to be Sneaky in teaching my son about nature and the world.

This drawing is done in graphite on coquille paper. This piece is part of the nature/technology relationship thread I am developing. I wonder, if you had to draw a picture of the internet, what would it look like?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Guitar Kami

For IF: a wise guitar player.

In the Japanese Shinto tradition, kami are traditionally forest spirits, imbued with mononoke, or world spirit. This is a charcoal drawing of Carlos Melendez, a fine guitar player whose skill makes it seem as though he has tapped into mononoke when he is making music.