Blog Archives

Naming the Ineffable

Why artists love mythology   In late 2013 I painted a series of illustrations for an herbal guide. It consisted of thirty plants painted in a traditional watercolor botanical art style. This greatly honed my botanical draftsmanship. Some of the plants I was able to locate in local nurseries to purchase and add to my own garden. Others I was able to seek out at the Berkeley Botanical Gardens. But a large number of the plants I had to forage for my specimens in my local environs. This proved to be highly instructional in teaching me to identify much of …

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Without an Audience

the importance of sketchbooks

Having a private sketchbook is vital to my creativity. The key is that it has to be exactly what that word says. It’s a book for your sketches. Not a showcase for your finished drawings. Not your completed masterpieces that you expect to eventually show the world. You can have those too if you want. But you need to have one book that is for yourself. It has to be a place where you feel safe to make mistakes, and to just draw what your muse inspires you to create, even when you don’t really know what she’s saying, and …

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Transmuted Sand

My art this past month is filled with winged things. Perhaps it is because I feel the pulse of the year’s heartbeat rushing past me in a swirl of weather and seasons. The passage catches me up like a whirlwind of wings. The trees are alight with blazing colored leaves. The rare rain seeps across the windowsill. The crows in the park grow brave and chase off the resident red-tailed hawk. Just for a day. She is ensconced in the branches of her throne once again on the following morning. Generally it is a truce of mutual ignoring with the …

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Lulls

Immortal Ephemera finally happened this month, and I had a wonderful trip to Seattle for the opening reception. Many familiar faces, old friends, and some new ones. Thank you Yeechi & Frank for being my gracious hosts, and sending me back to California several pounds heavier for all the fantastic food (Amy & Darren, you’re equally responsible, although I did manage to resist the chocolate). Thanks to Julie Baroh, Kathryn McDivitt, and Yvette Endrijautzki for the amazing work in preparing the gallery for the show, hanging and for having my art grace the walls for a month. Thank you Susan …

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Sipping tea with your Muse

Mab of Dreams Only by fostering a facility with the vocabulary of your artistic medium of choice, can you begin to really free yourself to be open to being creative with it. The size of that vocabulary is another matter, and that’s about growth, improvement and development. These are important as well, and intricately linked to creativity, in parallel (more on that in a future article). But first let’s talk simply about the genesis aspect of art. Remember when you were in high school, doodling in the margins of your notebooks? Ballpoint pen and edges of blue-lined notebooks, with half …

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Abandoning the Preciousness

The most important thing about creating art is to create. If you want to be at ease with creativity, you have to immerse yourself in it, and do a little bit every day. Even if that little bit is only to take five minutes while waiting for the bus to come and do a gesture drawing of a man reading his book across the street from you. Or to take the moment to scribble down a thumbnail rough sketch of a concept that occurs to you. Do a little bit each day. Train your brain to think visually.   It …

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Conceptual Blending

The path of my career has often elicited surprise from people: the fact that I went from working as a software programmer for several years, before striking out to pursue art full time. And contrary to what some might suppose, I don’t dislike programming.  In truth, I enjoy the challenges of working with computer languages and designing program structures quite a bit. Not as much as I love (and need) to create art, mind you, but it’s a part of me as well.  Recently, while reading an article about author (and Physics PhD) Catherine Asaro, I came across the theory …

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Where the Shadow Used to Fall Sketch

It has taken a week to get this sketch done.  The piece is 20×30 inches. I’ve had this title for a many months now, and a vague image concept for it in mind. It just took a while for the definitive shape to emerge. I had several possible thumbnail sketches in my sketchbook, and one that I almost started drawing, but they weren’t quite right. I’ll post those later. It’s to be a painting for a fallen tree. We walked once where the shadow used to fall:   watched the eclipse blot out the sun,     and the streaming beams …

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On the Proper Depiction of the World

My friend Aiko was a year older than me, which meant I wanted to do everything that she did, and listened avidly to all the wisdom her greater years had to offer. We were drawing with crayons, and I was four years old. She laid out a sheet of paper between us, and told me, “This is how you draw the sun.” She took a yellow crayon, bumblebee-fuzz-yellow, deli-mustard-bright-yellow, yellow-Plain-Yellow, and colored in a quarter-circle at the top left corner of the page. She set the yellow crayon down and surveyed her work. Satisfied, she continued. “This is how you …

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Time

Inner Workings Finalized Sketch In response to those who have objected to my integrating steampunk elements into this piece, I want to address a bit. While there is just steampunk for steampunk’s sake (Claire’s halloween costume for example. 🙂 ), I feel that this piece is not in that category. At a glance it is swiftly slotted into what we all conceive of as “steampunk” these days because ANYTHING with clockwork is automatically put into that genre now. What this piece is about, and what I hoped the title would convey, was not simply just jumping on the steampunk-wagon. It’s …

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Learning to Paint Bamboo

Sifting through my stockpile of pens and brushes, and I am reminded of the lessons I took when I was in grade school in the afternoons with a lady who taught me the basics of Chinese painting. I went to her house with my brother and a couple of other neighborhood kids after school. For some of them, the time spent in her kitchen was not much removed from glorified babysitting. My brother liked to draw, copying some of the cartoon characters from the stacks of how-to books she had on hand. She noticed at one point that I was …

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The First Moonrise

The First MoonriseMedium: InkSize: 11×7 inchesoriginal available for sale -here- One evening, about a month ago, Claire was restless. We took her out of her crib, and down to the front room with the big picture room where Dana started to read her some books. But she looked outside and saw the moon, noticing it for the first time. Her eyes rounded and with the moonlight glowing in them, she exclaimed, “Up up UP!” We explained it was the moon, which she knew of by reputation through the pictures in her books, but this was the first time that the …

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