Monthly Archives: June 2020

By Definition

Objects are defined by use.

A bucket turned over and sat on is a stool…

A chair that’s put on a plinth in a museum is sculpture…

A shovel nailed to a wall and proclaimed to be art challenges our preconceptions of what it means to be art and in the process, becomes art…

Are ideas defined by use in similar ways?


5”by 5” acrylic on gessoed paper

It’s in the act of moving toward an ideal that a space created between myself and that ideal, a space where expectations are never quite met, but still, surprises of incident regularly arise in the attempt.


“Caprice” 5”by 5” acrylic on gessoed paper

It’s nothing to brag about, but I can still enjoy the result without feeling that I’m being overly delusional. The process was clunky, mixing colors was fun, but the paint dried much faster than I thought it would, and I still managed to muddy up my color pallet despite trying specifically not to. Still I feel good where the painting landed. It’s readable for across a room and is interesting(ish) close up. Give it a month and a half of getting hands on experimenting with a brush and pallet, and I’m sure that I’ll gladly be able find plenty of well chosen words to critique a small 5”by 5” square of work.

(Note: the front facing outline of vermillion orange and the trailing edge of blue work to push what would otherwise be a dull portrait off the background.)

With that said… the charcoal that was used as the framework for the painting was pretty good. Readable shadows, the nostrils were built nicely, strong outline… but hitting a target occasionally is more symptomatic of luck than skill. Have to do it again with more regularity before skill is something that can be shaped.


I took a few days off from tending grounds in hope to dive into studio work, instead I’ve been struggling with keeping my energy up. I’ve been feeling lightheaded when I stand up and move around, I’m tight, achy, and having trouble staying focused. Off handedly I inappropriately hope it’s covid, but instead, it’s depressing to believe that it’s more likely that my age is catching up with me as I slow down.

I have been getting a little in though… Today’s 5”by 5” project was to prime a few sheets of paper with a light yellow ocher tinted gesso and start blocking in faces and hands with charcoal in preparation for another round of painting. I’m keeping the exercise as simple as I can, focusing on the initial laying the charcoal sketch, mixing that pallet, and managing to keep the brushwork readable (no mud).


“Sideline” 5”by 5” charcoal and crayon
“Underwater” 5”by 5” charcoal and crayon
“Take a Moment”

As much as I feel that rational details add reliability to a pictorial narrative, I enjoy the emotional promiscuity of intuitive mark making. I enjoy being forced to grapple with both liking a drawing while at the same time being bothered by it. This is an idea that I don’t need to banish from my work. I can simply enjoy this mode of drawing and thinking as it passes through, something much more deliberate always seems to come along and push mess making out of the way in favor of ideas that are more clearly formed.


I keep absentmindedly moving towards mediocrity. Yeah… It’s in the blandness of the background, how it’s composed, filled in, its color… It’s in the composition of the figure, it’s lack of narrative, its inability to capture essentials, its lack of essence and personal connection. I would not cross the room to look at this…


We are all in a push pull relationship with our own identities and personas. A struggle between curating the outside acceptance of others versus regaining a sense of our fundamental self and our needs.


“Couch” charcoal on paper

There’s so many feelings that passed as this was being drawn. Satisfaction was not one of them. Standing back, and without a piece of charcoal in hand, it’s a much different experience.

(note: laid down an initial base layer of tinted gesso on the masked in section of paper. Experimenting with with working on a substrate. It gave the surface tooth that could be altered with a sanding pad and tinted to an off white using a yellow gouache.)


I’m not avoiding being alone, I learned early on to enjoy many aspects of what it means to be alone, essentially, to be an individual. What I am avoiding is a sense of not being included… not necessarily excluded, being excluded implies acknowledgment and denial… to be not included implies being invisible and unworthy.

There’s a trap that people commonly encounter as they learn a new system, as they become proficient, they quickly come rely on the new system to get results. Eventually they begin to believe that everything is a result of systems, organizing themselves and their thinking around systems… they become bureaucratic.

Efficiency of can reliably achieve predictable results, but efficiency can also choke down growth.

Blah blah Growth needs to trip up systems and open up space for growth. Blah