Seven virtues for becoming a better * v2

Here are seven things to do daily for creative advancement from someone on the interwebs.  It was from a youtube video but I did not remember to save it so I can’t link it.  I like some of the things this guy had to say but I am conflicted about others.  In the next few post I will be my thoughts from a visual artist perspective, these could apply to writing, music and other creative endeavors too…

Will add links and header to each post.

·         Daily work – even if it is only a line

·         Volume not perfection

·         Steal – like an artist (from lots not just one)

·         Conscious learning – don’t just stumble around

·         Rest – play

·         Feedback – lots of it

·         Create what you love

drawing from deconstructing the box sketchbook

part 2

Volume not perfection.  What?  I shouldn’t be perfect all the time?  No, not when you are trying to learn new skills and getting the muscle memory down, it is about doing, doing and more doing that you are going to learn. 

Let’s say you want to draw hands better.  How is this going to happen?  Well by looking at references and by drawing from that reference.  At first block in the hand, get a nice sketchy hand down, then start to refine it by separating the fingers, get the joints in look and fix as you go.  Do it quick and then sit back and keep refining until it looks like a hand, not a perfect one because it will take you double the time or more to get everything perfected if ever.  Go do the hand over, or go to a harder reference and take that time to get 3 more hands drawn.

Think of it as practicing a musical scale, you won’t get it right the first time but you will eventually but you have to practice!  Then you can be perfect.

Final notes, for fuck sake, use references! (more on this on “Conscious learning” post) and don’t worry about the epic fail!  You learn the most.


I really think of this as “volume over perfection”

Seven virtues for becoming a better * (v1)

Here are seven things to do daily for creative advancement from someone on the interwebs.  It was from a youtube video but I did not remember to save it so I can’t link it.  I like some of the things this guy had to say but I am conflicted about others.  In the next few post I will be my thoughts from a visual artist perspective, these could apply to writing, music and other creative endeavors too…

Will add links and header to each post.

·         Daily work – even if it is only a line

·         Volume not perfection

·         Steal – like an artist (from lots not just one)

·         Conscious learning – don’t just stumble around

·         Rest – play

·         Feedback – lots of it

·         Create what you love

Portrait of Ai Weiwei

Part 1:


Daily work is definitely one of the most important things you can do, especially if you are trying to improve your craft or learn that new skill you always wanted to do. 

Can’t draw well?  Draw daily even if it is just a line! 

The idea is that if you get everything out and set up that you will not stop at one line, you will at the least fill up a page or better yet, you will get into a grove and draw for hours without even realizing it.

The big thing idea here is you want to form a habit of doing or of a good work ethics which will make daily work become second nature, you will just find the time to sit down and draw/paint/write or whatever.  Habit forming is fragile though so try to avoid the “ah-screw it” mind set.  Also don’t sweet it if you can’t do it every day, shoot for 5 days a week, if you get more, well that is better!

It will be hard at first (as I am finding out) but it will get better every day.  Schedule your time at first (make a meeting with yourself) if need be!

Earl I in the morning

The time in the earl I in the morning is a good time to break the chains, to meditate, to work out, to walk, to fuck, to muse, to plan, to snuggle , to cool off, to be, to remain, to reintegrate, to watch the movements, to listen, to bird, to drink tea, to serve, to share, to write, to paint to plan, to build logo, to watch cooking shows, to spin and dance, to think, to try something new, to be lazy, to draw, to tell a story, to meet friends at random locations, to drive somewhere never been to, to surprise someone, to make public art, to color, to challenge self and others to see the last star, to kiss, to be happy, to be sappy, to bake breakfast, to tell loved one they are loved, to search for lost things, to talk to fairies, to do all the things…

Cross of list~

Action Items:

This list of action items is mostly for me but I want them out for accountability and so others may use as a guide line for their own uses.  May not always cross off as for they are ongoing, some may get crossed off as moods and goals are achieved.  Some repeat over and over…

  • Draw in influences
  • Be visual while writing
  • Be verbal while drawing (arting)
  • Be abstract while being literal
  • Combine a variety of unrelated stuff (juxtapose)
  • Forget the rules
  • Make alternative rules
  • Fuck the “man”
  • Be the “man”
  • Resist/react/change/flip/challenge


The myth

  • Write daily or as near as possible
  • Paint 6 hours weekly
  • Increase weekly
  • Put out into world
  • Draw, daily – work on body
  • Document
  • Sock it up


To riot to

  • Be the awesome
  • Share the awesome




Be the awesome

  • Work hard
  • Play hard
  • Help when needed, stay out when they need to bta
  • Ask “what will I be awesome at today”
  • One step at a time


Our Badges

  • Set goals, they are levels
  • Make a place to display them
  • Make them
  • Hit your goals, advance to next level set new goals
  • Repeat


Action Item

  • Start small
  • Achievable goals
  • Unachievable goals!
  • Dead lines
  • No excuses/no fear


Brain storm the ideas

  • Prep canvases
  • Get back ground down
  • Have fun
  • Do research
  • Paint, paint, paint
  • Sketch some
  • Sell


Some freeform stuff

  • Be strong
  • Be a force
  • Grow
  • Nurture
  • Write
  • Draw
  • Meditate
  • Love
  • Be an ass


Ides of March – early in the morning/late in the night

  • Once a day – cross off list




Make a Manifesto

  • Lay the roots of man I festo
  • Refine, refine, refine
  • Live it
  • Don’t give up


Love only

  • No hate
  • Be great
  • Be


Ich bin ein auslander

  • The faces of merica
  • Don’t kill me – a series
  • Paint the hate
  • Drump X
  • Research



  • Look back
  • Fuck the obey


The deceit of now

  • Learn all the things
  • Do all the things
  • Be all the things
  • MJ
  • Web site portfolios – on going
  • Portfolio – 1 month
  • Get a job that pays – 3 months
  • Get car paid off – asap
  • Don’t live in box and don’t box in
  • Challenge everything

Morning Pages a change

{edited 31may17}

I started working on Morning Pages off and on for many years now (based off of the book The Artist Way) I would go a good 6 months or so and trail off. It always wielded some good ideas but was just more about bitching and what was going on, which is kind of the point, get out the crud so the day would be cleaner mentally.  I would start up again eventually, trail off again and the cycle has continued to now.

My problem with this method is that I get to work early and like to get up and go! Sooner there soon done plus I was finding that they just haven’t been working as advertised, I need something different.

Look, I am not a good writer to begin with, bad spelling, bad grammar. I am a painter for fucks sake!  I was in special classes for reading and spelling when I was young.  That is a story for another time though.

To my point though, I was in Big Rapids MI a few weeks ago for work, I had my MP journal with me. I hadn’t written anything for a year. Wrote one page because I couldn’t sleep anymore and I had a half an hour to kill before we had to get to the client site. Talked about where I was and what I needed to do when I got home.   After that I promptly forgot about it again even though I said I needed to work on the MP’s again.

This last week, I picked it up again. Not in the morning though, and I wrote more abstractly.  I had been thinking of all the strange and fun stuff I have done in my life to date, and what I neede*d to do to continue as I have in the past.  So that is what I wrote about. It was what I wanted to do in my next artist statement.  I do not need three pages of writing, just one.  Adding action items at the bottom (everyone needs action items) more on this later.  I will also be looking back at my ideas and following up with the past writing which is a no no in the Artist ways Morning Pages.  I also pull out an idea from the page and add it as a title for the next day or days when it feels right, I have two days of titles to write about at the moment.  I am creating a new journaling method for me based off of the MP’s, I am calling them Daily Pages, maybe, not sure.  Basically use other ideas and make them your own.  MP’s work for some but don’t follow the rules if it doesn’t work for you.




Here are my first actions items:

  • Be visual while writing
  • Be verbal while drawing (arting)
  • Be abstract while being literal
  • Combine a variety of unrelated stuff (juxtapose)
  • Forget the rules
  • Make alternative rules
  • Fuck the “man”
  • Be the “man”
  • Resist/react/change/flip/challenge

Titles so far, the myth, to riot to, label yourself, be the awesome.




Art by the inch 2014

today I am starting a project where in the next 28 days I will try to create 10,000 sq inches of art/drawing/doodling/sketching/painting etc… It doesn’t need to be good all the time, I just have to do something creative.

I will be posting results here and at my blog site also.

if anyone wants to join in feel free!


Enough talk, let’s take it to the next…

Re(focus) is no good if there is no action to back it up so I broke the bounds that have been holding me back and forced myself back into the work I love so.  As the shackles fall from my wrists and ankles I took off running as if something big and dangerous was chasing me, nipping at my heels.  Four (4) new works started or restarted…

The first painting I started working on is a nude that had a base laid down some time ago, some blue outlines to indicate where I wanted the main figure to be on the page was also laid down.  As a start I started by adding a wash of paint with drips and splatters to get the color vibe going for then started to block in the figure keeping a painterly and loose style through the image.  I felt that it got to a good point and I left it yesterday as it is in the picture below.


Today I went back at it, I fought with the breasts a bit (sounds more fun than it really was) under the hands that I had already blocked out.  I pretty much had to paint over some of what I liked of her left had to get the feeling and light I wanted for the breast/cleavage area.  I also worked on the torso for a bit and added some cooler tones behind her elbow and curve of her waist and added some more splatter to the overall image.  I will post some images of this phase when I can…

I really did not mean for this post to be a talk about process of this painting but I don’t think it is a bad thing especially for the re(focus), talking about what’s on the mind is good…

I have a few commissions lined up that I am going to start in the next few days, along with an opportunity to hang a few paintings at a trendy place downtown, more on that when I have things up though!

Boy, this has been a rambley post, I will shut up now… oh if anyone wants to know more , have questions or wants to commission me out/buy a piece please leave a comment!

Charcoal – Reasons Why

Every artist that draws or paint should have a set of charcoal or chalk and draw with them on a regular basis even if it is not your primary medium.  Why do you ask?  You say you had one drawing class that made you do all your drawings in them and you hated it.  You say you can’t get the hang of it and it is messy and it just falls off the page anyway.

Here is an argument on why you should love to draw with charcoal (not charcoal pencil either, get the stick kind) and ways to use the medium effectively to boot.

Charcoal is a great medium to get something down on paper quickly, boldly and relatively cheaply.  The energy that can be intense and there is no reason to get to fussy with it, get dirty with it as it were.  The most important part of this media is to get your whole body into it, move your entire arm, crank some music and dance with it and don’t be skimpy with the paper either, get a big pad of news print or a roll of brown packaging paper and attack it.  Turn the stick on its side and use the entire flat side, turning it so it ribbons out bold lines that morph into areas of dark shadows.  Go in and erase over it and then hit if back with more charcoal to create interesting tonal areas.  Create dark areas and draw with your eraser or kneaded eraser.  Smudge with your fingers, towels or smudge stick.  If you are using heavier paper (90# or higher) add water and make a wash out of it.

tool kit…

First lets understand a little bit about the types of charcoal artist typically use.  Vine charcoal is a commonly used form and comes in a variety of grades like pencils, form soft to hard.  It needs a toothy paper to grab and hold onto.  I like to use it as an under-drawing to get my composition organized and study the way light and dark will play over the surface or the drawing.  It wipes off easy so there is no big commitment when laying down shapes and lines.  It also gives a light and soft feel so using it in more subtle drawings.  To keep it from falling off the page add a coat of workable fixative that will give it permanence.

The other extreme in the charcoal range is compressed charcoal, it is made from loose or ground charcoal then mixed with a binder and compressed together, hence the name.  It is soft and luscious how it falls off the stick and leaves a velvety black mark.  It is hard to erase but well worth the effort since it can create nice tones and will leave nice energetic marks.  Smudging it works well and also can create wonderful tonal areas.  By adding a little water with a brush, you can create a nice wash, just be aware that when it becomes a wash it is really impossible to erase, plus use a paper that can handle wet media.

The last one I will talk about is clay charcoal, it is charcoal mixed with a little clay and then compressed into sticks.  It is harder than the other two types discussed here and a bit more crumbly.  With that said it is my favorite and is a great finisher.  It doesn’t get as dark and has great tonal values and adds nice weight to the line and marks you use.  I really like it for detail and highlighting areas that need to be sharper but still has character.

I tend to use all three in my drawings, even the quick ones.  To add more highlights or and some mystery to your drawing add some white conté , some other soft pastel color, a wash or even paint such as gesso.

More on these techniques later.

old drawings found

A few months back I found two drawings at my mom’s house that I did back in college, not sure what class anymore, maybe 2d design or beginner illustration or what not.  They were of the same subject matter and done in different technique, I wouldn’t classify them as great works of art but they are ok.  Because they were skill building assignments, I categorize them differently than if I would have done them on my own conviction.

They are both pen and ink but one had some ink wash as well (see below).  If my memory serves me we where to draw something mundane and to create them very differently, can’t remember the details such as if we were given certain styles and or techniques to work form.  I did one in the style of analytical cubism and the other plays with hard lines and soft textures this gives a very different feel from the other one.  I could go on but I won’t bore you with analyzing the works.

I mainly brought them home to reuse the nice paper they were made on (archers 140# rag paper cold press) and paint over the two pieces.   They have been sitting in the hallway for a week now and Shae commented on them saying how much she liked them, she got upset when I told her my intent.  Now artists have been working over older works for centuries and I really haven’t ever thought much about it.  I am curious what others think, should I let these two drawings live?  Anyone want to give them a good home?


Balance and Diebeinkorn

In recent days I have been looking at some of the principles of design for some research on an article I am writing about it.  One of the principles is balance and there are two main aspects of how we achieve balance in the visual arts, it is through symmetry or asymmetry.  So I was thinking about symmetrical layouts and compositions, frankly all I thought about was how mundane and boring they must be.

Fast forward to today when I was looking for a new wallpaper for my work computer, I was getting sick of Van Gogh’s sunflowers that have been occupying that job for months.  Richard Diebienkorn came to mind so I did a quick search for some images that might spark something in me.  While I was looking, I came across a painting of a sliced tomato from him and was a perfect example of approximate horizontal symmetry (symmetry occurs with similar but not identical forms) and I was stunned how excited this painting made me feel.  First of all, the knife’s point ended at the middle top of the canvas creating great amount of tension not to mention the erratic and painterly texture that breaks up the plane.  He used more design principles which adds to the beauty of this painting, one being “dominance” where the contrast seen in the tomato in counterpoint to the cool whiteness of the table surface.  The brush strokes also give a wonderful feeling of unity throughout the painting and adds a rhythm and movement that is energetic, playful and exciting.

I obviously pushed off and assumed certain tenants were not worth exploring and had preconceived notions about symmetry; I was wrong.  I will have to develop a nice assignment so I can test and play with this and other principles and see what I come up.  Could add a lot to the article!