Friday, June 29, 2018

Return to Rock Temple Beach

Nine years have past since my last visit to Mackinac Island and the living natural art installation persists. This visit included my wife and son, thus making our first mark on the Rock Temple Beach.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Little Boy Lives in a Copper Camp

At the Phoenix Museum of Art I encountered what is my favorite work of art. Nothing before has ever resonated with me like this piece. It by Arizona artist Lew Davis and is titled: Little Boy Lives in a Copper Camp -1939 - oil on canvas. If I could have one work of art to look upon every day of my life it would be this. In the boy's expression you see the longing for a life that will never be. How much potential, how much imagination how much life and dreams of young boys and girls have been squandered for the benefit of the power mongers? He wears loose fitting pants and has no shirt, thus no pride, no identity, no hope. I think of all the children who's lives are ruined every day and I am filled with sadness and rage.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mors Violenta

This etching with aquatint à la poupée plate is part of the Pipelines and Borderlines portfolio exchange project in which I had previously participated in with the piece Atra Mors. This 3rd iteration of the portfolio is based on actual stories of the havoc that extreme energy extraction has wrought on the environment, communities and people's lives. I chose to depict the fuel train derailment in 2014 that obliterated the Canadian town of Lac-Mégantic and took the lives of 47 people including children. These derailments and oil spills are worsening every year. From 1975-2012 a total of 800,000 gallons of crude oil had been spilled in US derailments. In 2013 alone over 1.15 million gallons had been spilled. Our blind dependence on fossil fuels is literally destroying peoples lives and livelihoods. The title is taken by the town's coroner who was quoted as saying that the 47 people killed had died "A Violent Death." 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Heroes/Villains - Educator & Journalist

The role of the educator is to prepare individuals for the future by giving them the greatest tool they could possibly have: an unconstrained intellect. Education is but one aspect of success of course, without application and adaptation it is completely inert. The etching The Luminous Mind is a celebration of those who bring wonder and give children the keys to knowledge. Knowledge coupled with experience helps bring about wisdom, but that road is all too often diverted or blocked by those who would be threatened by an enlightened population. The social, economic and political power brokers use every tool in their arsenal of control. The most powerful, of course, is public perception and opinion via media. The etching In Malformation expresses the frustration those who wish to expose the truth, the Journalists, must experience in a media environment that is mostly owned and controlled by those interests that actively seek to obscure and manipulate the truth.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Life

These four images act as companion pieces to the etching series "The Four" which include Setting the Precedent, The Condition of Postmodernity, Kierkegaard's Dilemma and The Ultimate View. Where we were once looking through the character's eyes, we are now looking directly at him as he lives out a typical life.  Our default state, one we are born into and thus easily reverted to, is fear. The pain of hardship and failure is constantly looming over our heads. We feel immense sorrow when confronted with our mortality and the burden in places on those closest to us. At the end there is nothing but fury for the unfairness and cruelty of existence. 

The Fear

The Pain

The Sorrow

The Fury

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

In search of the Grand Illusion

This etching makes up the writer aspect from the series: The Arts. The desire for composing the "Great American Novel" is something that runs deep for many creative individuals. It is driven by the false myth that anyone can write a book and the delusion of riches and fame that come with writing a best seller. This is because of the mentality of  the post Oprah's book club environment, coupled with the successes of poorly written drivel for young adults caused by Hollywood's push for properties that they can mine for movies. The result is countless MFA's in writing who end up working as barristas and writing blogs hoping they get noticed. In addition, those writers who really wish to stand out play literary shenanigans with format and structure trying desperately to attract an ever increasingly dumbed down and attention deficit public.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

20th Century Ink

The greatest stain left on history during the 20th century is the undeniably horrific use of genocide as a political tool and military tactic. From the Armenian Genocide through the Holocaust and the Khmer Rouge through Darfur, the 20th century was by far the bloodiest in human history. The unfortunate thing is that the grip from the shadow of the past has held fast and is showing strong signs of continuing unabated going into the 21st century. This piece was conceived for a tattoo based exhibition by imagining the sickening use of the bureaucratic efficiency employed by the Nazis to brand prisoners in the death camps. It portrays but a small portion of all the known recorded genocides. While the numbers killed are accurate to the best of my knowledge, they are more or less is irrelevant, for our collective humanity is forever stained by the ideologies that spawned the hatred to commit these acts in the first place. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Actor

This piece is titled First Act/Final Act and it makes up the Actor aspect of a new series focusing on the Arts and Humanities. The viewing public tends to see only the finished work, be it play, television, or film, and do not realize the tremendous amount or work and preparation that goes into it. The actor's job is so taxing because they must empty themselves so that they become a vessel for the soul of the character. It is a tremendous drain but ultimately fulfills their need to understand the human condition.

Vanguard of Light & The Highest Echelon

These two prints are part of the Heroes/Villains series and they constitute the Soldier and the Banker aspects. An individual indoctrinated into any military thought process is not given the luxury of distinguishing between moral action and successful mission accomplishment. Whichever side one is on in any conflict, the cannon fodder are but the instruments of expressing foreign policy and expanding a nation's influence. On the ground a soldier must believe that their action are just otherwise they will either go insane or freeze in a combat situation. A volunteer based armed force that is split between true ideologues, career opportunists and those so desperate for employment they take this lowest base of work opportunities, can only work cohesively if the psychological branding is unbreakable. The cruelest irony is that in the name of spreading "light" "freedom" and "equality" one must commit the worst of atrocities as well as permanently damage one's own mind and body. Their sacrifice always goes to benefit only those that belong to the next image. The control of wealth and the power and influence that it breeds is a direct result of undeniable exploitation of the vast majority or humanity. On the sweat, labor and blood of those who work and produce ride those that do nothing but manage. This burden cannot last for either those that bear it will collapse or they will rise up in a violent overthrow.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Imperium Americana

This tetraptych etching w/aquatint depicts a stark and pessimistic future, in which the Realpolitik that has guided our foreign policy the past 60 years takes on a life of its own and the cycle of unjustifiable violence perpetuates its own existence until there is nothing left. The post 9-11 world is this future coming to fruition. Thematically continuing from the series The Four this image, with Atra Mors and Frontier's End constitute the beginning of a new series called Posterity. The subtitles of each element in Imperium American take off from Papal Bulls that were written to justify the actions of the Church. The upper left is Intra Arcana which authorized warfare to spread the word of Christ. To the right is Ineffabilis Providentia which detailed the strictures of Jubilee Year preparation and celebration. Below is Ad Extirpanda which suggested the use of torture against heretics. The final piece is titled Sic transit gloria mundi which is a phrase uttered during the papal Coronation ceremony and translates to: "Thus passes the glory of the world."  I do not want this future to come to life, as I am sure no one in their right mind does, so it is literally our responsibility to make sure it does not come to pass.


This etching is dedicated to the now abandoned exploration of space. Our species has always moved beyond our borders; that momentum has not only stopped but has begun to recede. Contemporary life has benefited to no end thanks to the innovative minds that sent truly brave men and women outside of the protective cradle of our planet so that they can learn and discover. Now that drive to explore has been supplanted with the insatiable hunger to exploit and posses. It burns me to no end that we are becoming a society that no longer revels in intelligence and scientific discovery but only in assimilating and consuming. We are locust, we are Borg, we are now a blight on our very species' growth and evolution. Just as the rise of Christianity destroyed most of the technical revolutions of the Roman empire, our fanatical Consumerism is undoing the very notion of progress. In but a generation from now, the hopes and dreams that were given life from the Space Age will fade away to the history books.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Patriot

This etching was conceived as part of a continuing series project with my fellow print-makers called Dialogues. My piece is titled: The Patriot and is pretty self explanatory.

The Artist's Studio

These five graphite line drawings when complete will be part of a portfolio series I am creating depicting the artist studio. I host a live model session every Monday night for 4 years now and I felt it appropriate to document the process and participating artists in a way that pays homage to the artistic practice of painting/drawing one's studio space.


Sometimes it is just fun to go off on tangents during live model sessions and experiment with different styles, techniques or media. These three pieces above let me explore certain ideas that had been rummaging in my mind for quite some time:  graphic novel, multiple takes of the same pose and fantasy illustration. It goes without saying that some kind of reference is always needed when trying to get a pose or look just right. It is impractical to always use live models, hence the brilliant utility of the photograph. These studies give tremendous insight into how to approach the work in this fashion in the future. Waiting for a Grey Hound is in graphite, Duel Natured is in colored pencil and Micheal's Lament is in charcoal.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Colored Pencil III

As with the earlier piece of Lindsey as a bride, the paper used makes all the difference when working with colored pencil. In this case Melissa was wearing a black satin dress, so the choice of black paper was obvious. The major difficulty when working with a dark background, is being able to successfully bring the lights out to their proper value and getting all the chroma correct without over saturating. Referencing the failure in the piece of Marquecia in a black gown allowed me to avoid the mistakes I made then.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Heroes/Villains - The Nurse

This etching is titled "The Paragon of hope" and is dedicated to those individuals who spend their lives in the service of healing others. Nurses, nurses aides, home health caretakers, hospice workers and hospital staff are the unsung heroes of medicine. While physicians, surgeons, specialists and therapists are the conductors of the healing arts and the recipients of all the glory, it is the former group that executes the process. They alleviate discomfort and pain and help eliminate the paralysing fear that patients and their loved ones feel when the undefinable burden of severe illness afflicts one. Their presence brings light and hope and they are truly the most vital individuals for any functional society to have. It is a travesty that there are far too few nurses in this country and that many who practice are overworked and woefully underpaid, especially the home health care workers, many who receive wages that are the equivalent of less than $ 1.25 per hour. They never give up because they believe in what they do but they are taken advantage of by the profiteers in the industrial-health care complex and that is an unacceptable sin for us to let persist.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Heroes/Villains - The Farmer

This etching is titled "Feeding the thankless masses" and is about those who have worked in agricultural production for the tens of thousands of years since our species first learned to cultivate the earth. There is an universal agreement amongst anthropologists that the advent of agriculture led directly to civilisation, economy, and the city state. With that also came war, government and the beginning of social class struggle. Prior to this era, human societies depended on all members of the tribe to work together for the entire group to survive. When cultivation of the land began and food security was guaranteed, individuals within the groups who managed these food resources began to hoard the power and wealth they had over the rest. In the meantime, the populations that lived with abundant resources became dependant on those providing the food and thus became subservient to them. Desire for better production yields led to greater technology and need for protection of these resources begat the city state, which led to the creation of government and armies. Our entire species and modern society would collapse in an instant without the availability of abundant and inexpensive food. In our zeal to guarantee that, we have set on a course to destroy the very earth that provides us this sustenance while simultaneously conditioning an entire society to be oblivious to not only the nature of food production but the sheer inequity of food availability to the vast majority of our species. Profit driven motivations of the agricultural-industrial complex supercedes all notions of environmental sustainability and nutritional purity. With what the rich nations dispose of from their annual over production, there are exactly zero justifiable reasons for any single human being to be starving to death. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Drawing with Graphite II

I chose to execute this image of Lindsey with graphite pencil as opposed to charcoal so that I would have more precise control on depicting the various patterns and textures of the fabrics. Her "Lady Jack" outfit in charcoal had velvet, satin, lace and feather boa, which was a nightmare to get right in charcoal without interfering with the each other. This maid outfit had a translucent lace skirt and the fine detail of the lace really called for the precision that graphite allows. A taxing process on the arm and hand to be sure, but once you get into a healthy rythym the results are just right. One must take care to not overdue each passing as it is easy to give in and burnish the darks or push too thick of a line, especially as the arm fatigues. Pay attention to keeping lines consistant and clean and the pencils well sharpened, not neglecting to switch the pencil grades when necessary.

Colored Pencil II

The image above was done with colored pencil on a brown sheet of paper. The paper one uses helps balance out the colors used, in this case the brown helped bring out the warmer hues of the skin allowing an easier time to get Lindsey's skin color right without having to worry about blending in red pencil. The most difficult part was trying to mimic the reflective aspects of the sequins on the dress, but I managed by flecking with pure primary and secondary colors covered with white. Again, as with all pencil drawings, it is time consuming and harder on the hand than charcoal or paint, but well worth the effort.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Atra Mors

This image is part of a portfolio exchange project that questions the ramification of the world's increasing demand on oil. The title refers to the Latin translation for the "Black Death" or as we know it: the Great Plague that ransacked Medieval Europe and killed off nearly one half of the continent's population. This occurred because of several reasons, one being population density in urban centers which saw the rapid spread of the plague but also due to unregulated commerce which brought the disease from the east in the first place. This unabated commercialism was the result of high demand of inexpensive commodities and goods, without concern of quality. Before this time, the Roman Empire had a well maintained, regulated and taxed shipping and commerce system, which prevented any major pandemic from taking hold. Medieval Christianity had no such standards but learned its lesson which helped bring about the Renaissance. We are now reliving the complications brought about from unchecked consumerism which oil consumption is the heart of. The catastrophe this time however will not be a mere pandemic but environmental destruction on a scale which will make life for human civilization untenable. Of course we offer our up our future generations to this fate in the struggle to consume as many manufactured goods as possible.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Costumed poses

There is a significant difference in working with a costumed pose as opposed to a nude. Firstly and strangely enough, it is more difficult to gauge the proportions of the anatomy as accurately as you would be able to when the body is unencumbered by clothing. Secondly the color of the costuming usually deceives the eye in regards to value. With lighter colors, one tends to raise the value making them brighter than they should be, and vise versa with darker colors. Thirdly, the detail and texture of the fabric entails visual trickery that is sometime time consuming and other times gets too muddy and confused. The above two images of Lindsey in her "Lady Jack" attire were harder to get right than if she was in the exact same pose in the nude. I avoided attempting a painting as the fish net stockings would be a nightmare and getting the temperature would be very maddening since here costume was pitch black, yet her skin tone very pale white-blue. I embellished the ink on bristol by adding the red ink and the charcoal version depicts the darker color/value issue I referred to.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Heroes/Villains - The Bureaucrat

This etching is titled: "Seeking the Behemoth's favor," and it comprises the Bureaucrat aspect in the Villains category. In theory an efficient, fair and transparent bureaucracy is essential to the proper functioning of any truly democratic system. However history has shown us replete that in practise no such body exists. Not in any institution; be it government, academic, religious. military or corporate, can one find a system void of corruption, inequity and gross mismanagement. Human beings are not infallible and prone to relishing power, be it true or perceived. We must demand a fair system with adequate checks and balance, yet also be willing to deal with the realities of the complexity of any system and not try to skewer the system in our favor. No body should ever be entitled to advance past everyone else that plays by the rules.

Reclining Nude II

This charcoal study of Janet reclining legs up is another great exercise in understanding the anatomy because it is much more difficult to draw upwards from the head being at the bottom position. The eye is always trained to identify the head at the top of the body and therefore naturally expect it at the top of a composition. By drawing this layout, amongst others, it forces the artist to really get the proportions of the body and the facial features correct as your mind is seeing the face essentially upside down.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Heroes/Villains - The Chemist & The Mason

These prints are a continuation of the visual narrative project started with the piece "He stole through the night. . ." That image was the Thief aspect in the Villains category. The images above are both in the Heroes category and they include the Chemist, titled: "Tirelessly toiling towards truth;" and the Mason, titled: "A cost not insignificant." The final project will have 19 hero and 19 villain images with corresponding text, hopefully done in letterpress. Eventually all will be hand bound to create an art book.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Colored Pencil

When drawing in colored pencil there are a few things you need to take into consideration with the materials you use. Less expensive pencils are usually poor in quality as the pigment is suspended in a more waxy medium, leaving behind a shine and making it far more difficult to overlay the different colors that help blend areas. Pencils also come in different densities (hardness) which also allow you to make variations in line thickness, details and filling in area of color. The other matter you must take into account is the type of drawing surface you use, not only for color and tooth, but how sturdy it is. Unlike graphite, it is actually much more difficult to erase or lift mark when they are applied, so errors need to be covered up in a sense. The end result is a much more illustrative look than other media. It is time consuming but worth the effort.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Drawing in Graphite

Using charcoal allows the artist to get a drawing to a refined state in a relatively short period of time. To be sure it can become a messy process, but it is remarkably fast. On the other hand drawing in graphite requires a little bit of patience. It is a universal assumption that all artists are accustomed to drawing with a pencil from youth, but that does not mean we know how to handle it properly. As with all media, the better quality materials the better the results. Graphite pencils range in density (hardness) and darkness (tone). The hardness scale goes from 9H (hardest) to H, and the tone from B to 9B (darkest), the middle pencil is always an HB. The famous scholastic "Number 2" pencil is the equivalent of a 2B. Hard pencils give very sharp and precise lines and are best suited for architectural and engineering drawings. Tonal pencils allow a full range of dark values to be drawn without burnishing the paper by pushing too hard on the surface. To be sure drawing with graphite requires constant sharpening and a consistent stroke and pressure on the fibre of the sheet as well as holding the pencil vertically like charcoal and drawing with the arm instead of with the wrist. The above study of Rene is 20" x 30" and took approximately 12 hours to complete. A similar sized drawing in charcoal would have taken about 6 hours.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


One commonly overlooked aspect of creating any image is the composition. Layout of the figure or object, angle, source of lighting and how the object interacts with the pictorial plane or activates the edge are just as crucial as draftsmanship, value and volume. A thoughtfully laid out image can evoke emotion, create a narrative or project tension. In the two images above I decided to pick a pose that creates a melancholic and nostalgic feeling. Our model, Jerry was gracious enough to grow a beard for the pose (months in advance) as well as dress in a very specific style that would clearly conjure a certain feel. However, if I had chosen to pull back in the charcoal  it would lose its intimacy and had I laid out the ink version symetrically, there would be no tension. I have countless images in which the drawing or painting have been executed to a high standard but have no emotional impact simply becasue the composition was just not right.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Beta Gale

With this woodblock print I am now officially finished with the first phase of my series: The Disasters. This, of course, is the wind aspect of the series and was very difficult to finish as I was carving out of red oak, an extremely hard wood. I learned quite a bit in the process and broke a few tools as well. You can not work red oak like birch or pine, it's fibers are interwoven and course, however I needed to see if it was worth the surface texture. To my satisfaction it was indeed worth the time, effort and pain. Trying to capture something as dynamic, fleeting and without heft as the wind on a solid surface is one of the hardest tasks I've ever attempted. The next phase of both The Disasters and The Four will have me challenge either lithography and silkscreen or cast relief and stencil. After all the reproducible media are complete I will begin tackling the one off forms.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Creating a Visual Narrative

This etching with aquatint print is titled: "He stole through the night" and it constitutes the Thief aspect from the series Heroes/Villains. The images from this project will also be used to create a narrative that will string together tell a mythological like story which I intend to write out and make a finished work in book form. I will study the book arts to learn typography and binding so that I can make an edition of fine art books.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mixed Media Sculpture

I was tasked to create a kite for an exhibition celebrating the artist made craft. I chose to make a dual image object honoring our space pioneers in which the top side is titled: "Thank you Icarus for daring to fly. . ." and the bottom side is titled: "Damn you Icarus for teaching us to dream. . ." I constructed the frame from wood and twine and used hot glue in lieu of wax to bind it all. The top image is acrylic and conte on canvas and the underside is acrylic with attached goose feathers. The mast has stenciled in the mission flight numbers for the space shuttles Columbia and Challenger, with seven feathers per flight lost for the astronauts who lost their lives in those tragedies. It saddens me so much that the space age has come to an end. All our technology that we take for granted, from communication, entertainment, transportation, medical and safety all owe their existence to NASA. The population as a whole has seem to forgotten that in their zeal to acquire more, faster and cheaper. Hubble alone has given us unimaginable insight into the fabric of existence and the nature of the universe. The end of the Shuttle program with no replacement in sight marks the first time in our species history in which our frontier is contracting and not expanding. This marks a possible regression into a dark age. I pray that I am wrong. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Setting the Precedent

This image is an etching from War aspect of the print series "The Four." It is titled so because a child born into a world of violence is prone to violence. Hatred begets hatred in a vicious and everlasting cycle that seemed unbreakable. The trauma of a violent upbringing will create war mongers, political fanatics, and those who take advantage and profiteer from upheaval; including but not limited to those who control food, energy, and the flow of capital as well as media outlets, unchecked governments and religious institutions. It is absolutely irrational and borderline psychotic for people of different ethnicities, cultures, creeds and political ideologies to despise each other for what amounts misunderstanding and miscommunication. There will never be peace on this earth until we strive as a species united to break the cycle of violence.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Immaculate

This woodblock print constitutes the disease aspect from the print series The Four. Throughout human history, individuals with what we now know are severe psychological, neurological and physiologically degenerative conditions, have been relegated to the fringes of society and shunned as either demonic, corrupted or possessed and nothing but a bane and burden on society. It is such a remarkably troubling thing that these sentiments still run rampant and most people ignore the millions who suffer from a variety of ailments. Only with a massive public awarness campaign and heavily supported medical research can we even begin to allieviate those who go through an entire life truly tortured and in pain. We must never take the fraility of our species for granted.

Heroic Pose

The standing pose is one of the most difficult for a model to execute as it is incredibly taxing on the body. Only a stable pose such as this can be taken on for prolonged periods. In the past, models were many times tied into convoluted stances and poses with ropes and left for hours on end. Suffice to say that photography has eliminated that essentially barbaric practice. Dalawn's physique is perfect for this type of pose, which is heroic and statuesque.