Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Fritos, Yes, No

Fritos, Yes, No
Oil paint on Panel
16" x 16" x 1.5"

My latest food obsessions painting, Fritos, Yes, No, has just been posted to my website. This is the fourth painting I've created exploring my love/hate relationship with food. Fritos, are without a doubt, my favorite lunchtime snack food. The saltiness, the oil, and the corn taste are all irrefusable. But, alas, it is these same qualities that make them so bad for me. It is so frustrating. So, when I do get a bag of Fritos they are gone in a minute. I shorten the ecstasy to not prolong the agony. Does it work like that?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Gathering Resources for My Botanical Paintings

With the launch of flowerartgallery.com, I thought I would share with you how I go about collecting resources for painting flowers. Mostly, I walk my dog. Just as my landscapes are about a place in Northern Minnesota that I love, and my still lifes are about the food I eat (or don't eat), my botanical paintings are about where I live. I walk my dog twice a day every day of the year. here she is sitting patiently waiting to cross a street. She's a good dog.

Over the years I have planted many different flowers in my yard and have made paintings of them, but I also peruse my neighborhood and study flowers. There are gardens I watch and make sure to pass by almost every day. There are others that I watch on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. In this manner I come across some amazing flowers of which I take numerous pictures.

Now, I wish I could peruse all of my neighbor's gardens, but many of them I don't know, so I have a rule to make sure I do not bother them. In order to take a picture or check out a flower in a yard on my dog walk, I have to always leave one foot on the sidewalk. It is a fun challenge at times, but really, people love to plant flowers and there is a great variety along the sidewalk.

I also live near Como Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota. There are several gardens and flowering trees in and around the park, as well as an entire conservatory of plants. I used to work at the conservatory and once had the person in charge of the conservatory's orchid collection take drawing lessons form me. So, if I don't have an orchid I want in my studio or house, I go to the conservatory and work from their collection.

When I do take pictures, I often am getting down in there to get details. Sometimes this means shooting through a chain-link fence or being at ground level, like in this photo. One time I was extremely interested in getting the underside of some flower leaves, so I laid down in a garden bed on an alley, to get the perfect shot. The owner came out of his garage to find me laying amongst his flowers. He didn't say anything - just looked at me. I introduced myself and that I am an artist that makes paintings of flowers and that his garden was particularly beautiful. He signaled me to follow him. I followed. He led me around his garage and through his backyard. We entered into his next door neighbor's back yard that didn't have a stitch of grass - nothing but flowers. He said "Go ahead and take pictures. I'll let Francis know its okay if she wonders what's going on." He stood guard for the next half-hour while I took pictures of all kinds of flowers. From that summer forward, when I would walk my dog I would see him outside at his patio table and he would invite me over, pet my dog and give me a beer while we talked about life. When the beer was done, Delilah and I would finish our walk. As I have said before - art is not my life, but a vehicle for it.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

And the Winner Is...

The winner of the recent art give-away is Lori Heeter. Every couple of months, I have a give-away of a small art piece to those who sign up for my newsletter or respond on my Facebook post.  Congratulations Lori! Next give-away will be just before the upcoming online auction. Stay tuned here or on my Facebook Pages:
Mark Granlund Studio
Flower Art Gallery

Monday, June 4, 2018

New Website: Flower Art Gallery

Over the years I have equally enjoyed making oil paintings of landscapes and still-lifes and watercolors of floral subjects. Looking at the images in this newsletter, you can see that I paint in different styles for the different media. Not only our my styles of painting different, the works are different in intent. The oil paintings, to me, our objects not images. They are each a unique vessel that receives my energy and perception and are then deepened through your experience of them. The botanical watercolors have always been paintings that have been associated, for me, with teaching people how to paint and art prints that are created for the Minnesota State Horticultural Society. They are a more community and genre driven art than my oil paintings. So, for me, in many ways, they are serious paintings that are more flexible in terms of being open for a variety of formats. To this end, I have created a separate website for my botanical paintings that will provide an opportunity to buy prints and select products with the images on them.

Currently, fine art prints, greeting cards, mugs and buttons are available. Oh, those buttons - I have been doing those for years and now you can buy them straight from my website. If interested in a print, you can see a preview of the print on a wall of a color of your choosing. The print, framed or matted, will appear in proportion to its surrounding furniture, etc. It is really handy in helping determine if the work will look good in a room like yours. 
In the coming months, I will be adding flower paintings and new products. I'm very excited about this development and feel it can be a consistent way for people to engage with my botanical work.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Current Exhibit and Upcoming Onlie Auction

I currently have a few of my Sinkside Compost Series paintings in Animal, Mineral,Vegetable on exhibit at Wargo Nature Center in Lino Lakes, Minnesota. The show also includes Kat Corrigan and Bronwyn White. The show is in the display cases in the middle of the center and will be up until September 2018.

Later this summer will be an online auction with artist Gregory Graham. It will be a whirly-twirly event with all pieces painted with gouache on paper and they will be in 5" x 7" frames and ready for hanging. The auction will take place during the Minnesota State Fair, thus the Spaghetti Eddie's painting that I created for this event. I haven't painted people since The Book of Bartholomew project. It has been fun to tackle people again - that just sounds wrong. You get what I mean. Anyway, it will be a lot of fun. More info to come.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Winter Morning - Oil Paint on Canvas

Winter Morning
Oil paint and charcoal on canvas
60" x 36"

My landscapes are moving to a looser style with a greater variety of paint applications. The canvas in part of this painting is simply primed canvas with charcoal. Other areas are very thin drip washes, while yet other areas are thick strokes of paint. It is a very vibrant and active painting to look at. The image comes from Rainy Lake in Northern Minnesota. In the summer, I often stay in a cabin wherein the bed has a north facing window next to it. The sun comes up right in a spot where it angles in the window and shines right on the pillow. I can't tell you how many times I have woken up between 4 - 5am with that sunrise hitting me right in the eye. Often I will get up and take a photo and then go back to sleep. This painting is a winter version of this sunrise with active horizontal wintery clouds and the sunlight reflecting off the snow covered lake.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Winner Is...

If you follow my Facebook Page, you know that every few months I have an Art Give-Away. The latest give away, of an oil painting of a daylily, was won by Lori Heeter.  Thanks to all who shared the post (and my art) - it reached 1,800 people. The next give-away will be in July.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Making versus Marketing

There have always been more artists than galleries and avenues for exhibiting art. But the internet is now changing this. Artists can find and foster an audience that galleries never even knew existed.

In light of this new freedom of outreach, there are many businesses marketing to artists to help them market and sell their work online. I have been using one such business, Art Storefronts, and I am enjoying many of the features and benefits of such a program. I see some of my other artist friends using other programs, but they all focus on building your audience and marketing to that audience. The platform I joined has a lot of marketing and social-media advice that is good and I have been following through on some of these suggestions while testing the water on others.

I find this type of work to be a curse, anathema, an abomination. Alright, the fact that I like writing this newsletter and having y’all read it tells you that I don’t think marketing is a complete abomination. But it is not natural to me nor convenient. These platforms suggest that an artist’s time should be divided between art making (80%) and marketing (20%). For the course of 2018, until I took the last two weeks off of social-media and updating my website, I have been consistently promoting my work and doing many of the things I “should” be doing.  But I needed a break.

Artists like to make things. I think that is pretty obvious. In general, artists prefer that the objects they make are out front in the public eye and their personal life stays behind the scenes. It is hard for artists to remember that they are not marketing themselves. They want to stay in the background while marketing seems about placing yourself out there in the rough currents of society. Yet, my work has a commentary aspect to it. It talks about who we are as a society and I would love to have people respond to it, value it and take it home. That is part of the thinking behind the work. Unfortunately, to engage an audience I can’t sit in the shadows and throw out wry observations.

So, I am getting back on that horse and will continue with the marketing, and even ramping it up some, over the course of the year. But I don’t want to have my marketing activities diminish my studio experience. My work doesn’t fit neatly in the online scene of art marketing. I don’t make images. Much of the art online is just an image to be placed on a piece of paper, a piece of canvas, a coffee cup, a keychain. It is not art meant to be its own object and have its own presence in someone’s life. Often the final product someone receives from an online artist’s website was not made by an artist’s hand but by a printer. I’m only willing to go down that path so far. So, I struggle with the contemporary art marketing world that I have to live in.  It is at odds with the ultimate purpose and value of my work which is forging a worldview into an object - developing a language of material that expresses thought.

Friday, April 27, 2018

What's Cooking in the Studio - April 2018

As mentioned, I have been painting with guache to make pieces for the online auction in August. This project happened to coincide with the blooming of two orchids in my studio. So, of course, I had to make a few paintings of them. More info coming as the auction gets closer.
Peanut Buster Parfait or Not

I have been working on my next Obsessions painting - this is the first layer of paint. The working title on this one is Don't Leave Me. Yes, it is an empty peanut buster parfait cup with a red plastic spoon in it. The text written in the background are the words"Don't Go." I really appreciated setting up this still life - eating just enough of the fudge so you can still see some but still see through the cup. It was hard work! I hope to finish this painting in the next week.
Botanical Prints

My studio has been littered with prints as I have been busy this last week making 100 prints of my trillium painting for the Minnesota State Horticultural Society. This is an annual project helping them with their annual fundraiser. The original painting is auctioned off at their spring fundraising dinner and signed prints are available to members of a certain level.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Granlund Room

The winner of last month's promotional give-away was Bill Smith. He sent this lovely image of my red onion painting hanging in his home above a small sculpture by Paul Granlund. In honor of these two pieces, he is now calling this the Granlund Room. I am honored to be displayed next to such a great artist, like Paul. No, we are not related, although a lot of people ask.  And I am honored to have a room named after me (shared). This is the second time I've had a room named after me. The other is a backroom in a bar in Teaneck, New Jersey, but that is a story for another time.

Another promotional painting give-away will happen before Mother's Day in early May.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Upcoming Exhibit at Wargo Nature Center

I will be in the upcoming exhibit, at Wargo Nature Center

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral 
May 8th through September 8, 2018 

The exhibit explores the interpretations of Animal, Vegetable, Mineral in relation to subject and material. I will have 8 - 10 paintings from my Sinkside Compost Series on exhibit.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

I Hate Myself for Loving You - Oil Painting

I Hate Myself for Loving You
Oil Paint on Wood Panel
12" x 20" x 1.5"
This oil painting is of Oreo cookies half-eaten, broken and piled on a plate. I cannot refuse Oreo cookies. I also cannot eat just one. By the time I am done I feel terrible, physically and emotionally. I hate myself for being so addicted. This is the third painting I've created in my Obsessions Series, which is about my food obsessions. Normally, I write the title obsessively across the background of these paintings. In this one I painted little red hearts for how much I love Oreos. The edge of the plate also has the words "hate" in black and "love" in red.

Monday, March 26, 2018

AI Art and Dwindling Human Experience

Scientists at Rutgers University are programming AI to create art. After AI programs viewed thousands of artworks they were tasked to create Abstract Expressionist images. The images generated by the AI were then shown next to real artworks from Art Basel, one of the most prestigious art fairs in the world. People were then asked to differentiate the AI images from actual artworks by human artists. Long story short, viewers correctly identified the works by real artists more often than the works by AI. Yet, often, the AI images were indistinguishable from the images by real artists.

But then, “respondents were asked to rate how intentional, visually structured, communicative, and inspiring the images were. They 'rated the images generated by [the computer] higher than those created by real artists, whether in the Abstract Expressionism set or in the Art Basel set.'”

The catty part of me wants to question whether AI images looked more like real art, or Art Basel images looked less like real art? Art Basel is a bit of a carnival and lots of bad art is raised in stature by being seen with the good art. But, this is not the point of the article, nor is it the point of what I am most concerned about – meow.

This incident is one more step down a road that we have been traveling quietly for many decades, maybe even centuries. It is the devaluing of the human experience.

Of course, humans are the pinnacle of development - as far as we are concerned. So, of course, we would be the standard against which AI would be measured. AI is very beneficial in situations in which it helps humans to compensate for disabilities and deficiencies or makes a task easier and safer. But there is another side to AI - creating an alternative to humans.

It is interesting that all the articles I have been reading focus on the timeline for improvements to the AI. They ask where is AI on the road to developing true imagination and how long will it take to be indistinguishable from human creative thought? But none of them ask what the impact is on humans. What happens to humans if a completely separate entity is created that makes human expression no longer unique, or necessary?

As someone who is engaged in expressing his human experience through his art, I always find it puzzling when people want to disregard the human experience. We see this continually in the world around us. We have fake news that is not based in human experience, but manipulated messaging. We have Facebook friends and communities instead of investing in personal relationships and engaging in local human communities. We watch other people's (fictional and non-fictional) experiences on television instead of creating our own. We have alternate reality machines that can put us into a completely convincing alternate world. On top of that, we do a lot of self-medicating via alcohol and drugs. It is as if we don't want to be here. As if we don't want to be ourselves.

I know life is hard for many people and I don't want to make light of that. My life, at times, has been very difficult. But I relish the personal experiences of raising a daughter, being involved in my friend's lives, and being intimate on many levels with a partner.  I enjoy having a mother and sister that live close so we can share new experiences while reminiscing about old. I enjoy creating something on a daily basis. And I appreciate the eventual results of wrestling with the difficult times.

Now, to see an AI program creating “art” is one more example of negating these human experiences and there expression. Yes, Mark, but people find the AI images more engaging. Doesn't that make the AI art more valuable, more...art? This is tantamount to saying news sources are credible because they have stories that appeal to your opinion on issues. We have flipped the dynamic of human experience. Instead of observing the world around us and growing from its alternating between challenging us and supporting us, we expect to impress our opinions onto it so our reality is not challenging. What we are doing is creating a small homogeneous bubble around ourselves thinking it will protect us from pain and struggle. My friend, Barbara McAfee, in her book Full Voice, asks the question, “when did we decide that being anything less than our full selves would make us safer?” It's a great question.

My human experience is not so objectionable that I want to continually run from it. Society-wide, that approach is a race to the bottom, a marathon to a world that will not allow us to reach the finish line. I am trying to live in a world where we value the expression of our full selves instead of leaking our self-loathing into objects meant to replace us instead of amplify us. I want my life to be an oil painting of substance instead of an empty illustration of what I had hoped for.

So, for the foreseeable future, I will keep painting, putting my experience into canvas and panels. I believe that art is an object. It is not an image. Artists imbue their substrate with an energy that lives on and emanates into your home when you hang it on your wall. Then, you add your energy to the art by interacting with it on a daily basis and providing a deeper experiential meaning. In the end, the work has been a conduit for energy and intention, for building memory and knowledge, for sharing experience and meaning, for weaving together the strands of humanity that create a better self.

At some point we will have to put away our AI, our toys, and our distractions and value our experiences, expressions and who we are at our core, if we are going to make it to that finish line.


Here's another interesting article about the history of AI paintings, which have their beginnings in 1973: https://newatlas.com/creative-ai-algorithmic-art-painting-fool-aaron/36106/

To see my non-AI paintings, visit markgranlund.com.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sinkside Compost #9

Oil paint on panel
8" x 16"

The ninth painting in a series of the container next to my sink where I place my food scraps before taking them out to the compost bin. To purchase this painting or to see the rest of the series, click here.

Monday, March 12, 2018

What's Happening In the Studio - March 12, 2018

So much has been happening in the studio this month that I only have time to share some of it with you. First, what's that up there? That is a photo of my table where I am painting small guache paintings. Guache are basically opaque watercolors. You can paint in layers like watercolors, but you can also go thicker and paint over things you painted previously. It is a nimble kind of paint.

I have begun painting small images on paper for a project I will be doing with artist Gregory Graham. We are each producing guache paintings and will be having an online auction this summer of these pieces. I will share more with you about themes and individual paintings as they develop. But in case you are wondering, yes, that is the beginning of a painting of the danish competition at the Minnesota State Fair.
I am continuing my series of paintings about food obsessions. This one will be titled I Hate Myself for Loving You. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

Here is the first layer of paint blocking out the big shapes.
After a several month layoff, I have started painting my Sinkside Compost container again. After completing ten paintings of the container in 2017, I already have two completed in 2018. Here is a recent quote from a fan:

"In my opinion the compost pictures Mark Granlund makes are not only well crafted and composed, but they also tell a story about how we eat. Mark is able to make art from the edge of his sink with as much heart and thought as any contemporary artist does with sweeping landscapes of farm fields."
 - Brett Olson

Below is Sinkside Compost #12

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Obamas, Neanderthals and Art

There were two major news stories about paintings this last month. First, it was fun to see paintings being the center of nation-wide media attention with the release of President and First Lady Obama's portraits. The first African-American couple in the White House had their portraits painted by African-American artists, the first to do presidential portraits. The artists are Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley.

To begin with, these paintings are meaningful on that level alone. Even if these were the same type of portraits as their predecessors, these would have additional meaning because of who the artists are and who sat for them. But, in addition, each of the artists took the portrait format in unconventional directions, which fits with their previous works but not previous presidential portraits. They were chosen by the Obamas precisely because they would bring new life to a rather formal and predictable tradition.

President Barack Obama's portrait was painted by Kehinde Wiley, an artist who for many years has been painting African-American people in what would be considered traditional depictions of the aristocracy and the gods. They are very dramatic and often very large.

Although President Obama's portrait certainly stands out amongst the portraits of previous presidents, it doesn't "wow" me. Mr. Wiley has always shown a great ability to paint hands, and I love the President's hands in this portrait. Real bone and sinew under the skin with amazing tonality. The rest is convincingly painted, but to me seems a little more flat, a little less lively than the hands.

That said, paintings can be a completely different experience in person and I would love to see these in person.

Michelle's portrait is painted by Amy Sherald. An artist that has just recently returned to her painting after dealing with family illnesses, including her own, for many years. Ms. Sherald's portraits tend to the minimal in emotion and composition. She paints her subject's skin in greys and does not create lifelike likenesses in terms of detail. Her subjects are simplified, becoming almost interchangeable from portrait to portrait. The dress is a very important part of this portrait compositionally and in terms of meaning.

The dress is large, First Lady Obama could be sitting on a high stool underneath it. The colors and patterns represent different ideas. But, quite frankly, I read about them and immediately forgot and didn't care. Really... I read a very nice, rather long, article about what Ms. Sherald tries to achieve in this work, but if I have to read that much to understand what an artist is doing symbolically, I just don't care. As an image, I really like the painting. I like it better than her husband's. The solid colors are soothing and reassuring. The portrait is strong and depicts someone who is nobody's fool, yet there is an elegance to her. I think the portrait, within Ms. Sherald's style, captures Michelle, but it is a somber side of her.

These portraits will break the tradition of the staid traditional presidential portrait, which is good for art. It gets to a point with certain genres where the artists are no longer taking chances and being human, but become a factory trying to meet expectations. A shaking up of ideals is good for art and for people. It challenges the status quo and pushes us to consider things that have become Cannon. Limiting our idea of what is "right" to what is acceptable never leads us to our full selves, never leads us to something that makes us better humans.

As could have been predicted, there are people who do not like the portraits simply because it is the Obamas. When it comes to the Obamas, there are some people that will never be happy. Many of them are racist and don't want to accept that a person with dark skin can be their equal... or even their superior. They can't accept that this country is only as great as it is because of the labor and sacrifice of African-Americans. Somehow they think this is a challenge to their own contributions and turn around and do nothing but belittle and deflect the accomplishments of people with darker skin.

Another art story out this month is about cave paintings in Spain. Three caves were discovered to have paintings on the walls that predate Homo sapiens' arrival to the peninsula. This means that they were painted by Neanderthals. Until now, Neanderthals were considered to be cognitively inferior to Homo sapiens and there has been no known example of Neanderthal art. But the art in these caves, in particular in that they have some complexity to them, show that Neanderthals may have had the same cognitive abilities as Homo sapiens. These paintings pre-date any art by Homo sapiens by 20,000 years.

Cave painting in Spain

One of the things that I love about life is that, through art, not only can we challenge our understanding of people today and set the future in a new direction, but we can also make discoveries from thousands of years ago that can change our understanding of the world. Until now, it was thought that Neanderthals went extinct because they were not as smart as Homo sapiens. For hundreds of years we have had this negative view of Neanderthals simply because we "won" on evolutionary terms. We have turned Neanderthal into a derogatory name for someone who is dumb and brutish. Other studies are also coming out showing that Homo sapiens and Neanderthals interbred more than previously thought. Wouldn't it be like Homo sapiens to have inherited our culture and refinement from the Neanderthals and then turned around and belittled them and gave them a dirty name?

Monday, March 5, 2018

Blue North, Oil Painting

Blue North
Oil Paint on Canvas
36" x 60"
This is a painting of islands on Rainy Lake, near International Falls, Minnesota. I - Falls is known for being one of the coldest places in the continental United States. That's during the winter. During the summer, it is a beautiful spot with clear light that creates intense colors and dramatic tones. When painting, I often think about Picasso's comment that all surfaces have energy. This is expressed in a painting through brushstrokes and color. I take this comment by Pablo to heart, not just about painted surfaces but also about real-life surfaces. All surfaces have an energy that radiates from the essence underneath. Originally, this painting had a smooth sky transitioning from light to dark blue.
In this instance, the painting looked more like a photograph might, a realistic depiction of the landscape. But to me, the sky did not seem to have the energy that the sky should. And it didn't stand a chance against the energy in the water. There is far more to the skies of Rainy Lake than simply going from light to dark. I started to put small strokes, like in the water, in the sky but it didn't feel right. Then I started painting in the larger flat strokes and the energy started to come. In person the layering of the paint gives a glow and intensity to the color, like the sunlight creates in the North Country.

More work, to view and purchase, is available at my website: markgranlund.com

Friday, February 23, 2018

Free Piece of Art for Signing Up for my Newsletter

My next monthly newsletter is coming out next week. I enjoy making these and people enjoy hearing about what is happening in my studio. So, in order to share these with more people, if you sign up for my newsletter before the end of the day Thursday, March 1, you will be eligible for a free piece of art. To sign-up for my newsletter, go to my website: https://www.markgranlund.com. Once there, a newsletter form will pop up. Just fill it out! Sorry, if it doesn't pop up you already receive my newsletter.

My newsletters include:
- Featured Painting - a first peek at a painting I just completed and information about its meaning, how I painted it, and more. Sample.
- What's Happening in the Studio - is a look at paintings in progress, planning for new work, building stretchers and panels, and sharing about equipment and material. Sample.
- Updates on Exhibits and Events - be the first to hear about upcoming exhibits, auctions, and events. Sample.

- Updates on other things, such as: progress on studio renovations, holiday sales, projects I am working on, etc. Sample.
- The Finishing Touch - The place where I talk about art, culture and my own painting discipline, a chance for me to open it up and get a little deep about my life and my practice. Sample.

Again, just fill out the newsletter sign up at my website and your name will be entered into a drawing for a free piece of art. Winner announced in the next newsletter.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Rocky Nook, oil painting on canvas

Rocky Nook
oil paint on canvas
30" x 30"

To see more, click here.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Upcoming Online Auction

I'm currently working with Gregory Graham to create art for an online auction. The pieces will be small, 5" x 7", gouache on paper. Each piece will be framed. Auction will be this summer. More info later. Now off to start painting!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Art is Not My Purpose, It is My Vehicle

I'd like to be self indulgent and share why I have become more introverted as I get older. Lately, I see more articles and posts on social media about how this world really has no meaning, that people have no preordained purpose. I think these two things are inter-related.

For the last couple of decades I have defined myself as a father first, then an artist, then by my day job and then whatever else. My daughter has become an independent young woman, living on her own in another country. My first self-definition is needing less attention and the needs of my second self-definition are growing. It keeps knocking on the door and insisting that I finish something that I started years ago.

I have been drawing, and getting recognized for that skill, since 3rd grade -- Mrs. Shore's classroom. I did quite a good job of drawing a map of the United States and recreating the cover of an album of Sleepy Hollow stories by Washington Irving. My fellow eight year old schoolmates also seemed to like the clay creatures I would create. There was a girl in the class who was also a good artist -- I wish I could remember her name. She reminds me very much of a friend I have now, named Aleta. This pseudo-Aleta, as I mentioned, was also very good at drawing and it seemed like her and my art were considered the best in the class. More often than not, my classmates tended to respond a little more positively to my work. I liked that. It felt good to be considered the best at something. I drew a lot at home and did as much art as I could at school.

When not making art I would hang out with Peter Goodwine, David Hooley, or Michael Iannacone and we would catch frogs, light firecrackers, build forts and tramp about the woods of Northern New Jersey. It was a good time.

In high school, I continued to define myself as an artist and was recognized as one of the leaders in my grade. So much so, that in my senior year the art teacher told me to sign up for any art class and then he would determine my assignments with me - in any medium I wanted. Basically, every class was an independent study. I would hang out with Mark Johnston, Jim Pappageorge, Brian Huck and Ken Hooten. We would drive around, listen to the Cars, play soccer, play pool in Brian's basement and laugh A LOT! It was a good time.

In college, I continued to be a leader with the art department crowd. I won awards, hung out with cool kids and had a good time. In graduate school I was considered a leader in my class and was the first student ever to win back-to-back graduate fellowships in the department. I was living in New York City and met my future wife. It was a good time, although I must admit that living in New York City in the mid 1980's was challenging. There was a lot of crime and I left The City not thinking much of people, in general.

I got married soon after graduating, moved to Minnesota to teach art at my alma mater and a few years later became a dad. I kept making art, but it took a backseat to my relationships. I was very active in my community. It was a good time.

In mid-life, things got harder. The marriage fell apart. Having a proper studio space in which to make art disappeared with the marriage. There were several years of trying to parent while putting the pieces back together. Friends changed, too, as they dealt with their own divorces, needs, passions... or addictions. We scrambled it all up and then tried to put things back together again. Some friends are still here, but many new friendships have developed. Over time, the things that were important when I was younger ended up not being that important. What I look for in a friendship or romantic relationship has completely changed. Through it all, the swings this way and that, I have come to the decision, like many in our society, that there is no preordained purpose to my life.

Art has always seemed to be part of my sense of purpose. But after a lifetime of not making a living at making art, of art taking a backseat, of people not valuing my subject matter as much as me, art becomes slightly hollow in its sense of purpose.

Now this seems like I should be depressed by my experiences. It seems like maybe I should give up art. But, I think, truly, it has taken me a lifetime to hit rock-bottom and now I can build up again. When I say "rock-bottom" I don't see that as a negative and it doesn't mean I am depressed. There is a point in life where you have to live with your true self and accept it so that you can go through the next doorway. I am on the threshold and I can't deny myself what is ahead. It is happening and I am letting it happen, gladly. Art is not the purpose of my life, but I have been making art for so long that it has become the vehicle for moving myself forward. When you realize that there is no preordained purpose to life you, hopefully, realize soon after that meaning and purpose in life is dependent on no one but yourself. With this wisdom I can hold introversion and focus in my one hand while holding relationships and community in the other. It almost seems like the threshold is moving toward me now.

I don't know if anyone will understand what I am writing, as I said, I was going to be self-indulgent. But, I am on a journey and I think sharing it is better than not. I think it is sufficient for you to know that art is very deep for me.

Friday, February 9, 2018

That Cute Little House

People have been asking about the small house I have been renovating. Here are some pics of the place. I currently have installed the in-floor heating... and the floor. I have also installed the rust slate stone tiles at the front entrance and kitchen area. As you can see, I have purchased some cabinets for the kitchen. More still to come. Next is to prepare the bathroom and kitchen area for a plumber and an electrician. Then install a spiral staircase. And then track lights.  And then a bedroom.  And then....an end is almost in sight. Almost.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What's Happening in the Studio - February 2018

As you might have seen previously in this blog,I completed a Food Obsession painting titled If There's a Cure for This, I Don't Want It. This is part of a series of paintings talking about my food obsessions. There are certain foods I cannot pass up, even if I'm full. Since this is a dis-functional relationship with food, I am titling these (and writing the title into the composition) after phrases within popular culture that refer to dis-functional relationships. The paint on these panels is thick and luscious, enticing the viewer to fall into my emotional state and consume the painting as I would the food depicted. More of these to come.

If you would like to see a fun time lapse of the different stages of creating this painting, you can view the 24 second video at this blog entry: https://theartistsbrain.blogspot.com/2018/01/if-theres-cure-for-this-i-dont-want-it.html
I've been making some new stretchers for wood panels so I can paint more of these food paintings. That's been fun. My wood shop is ridiculously filled with furniture and other stuff from the recent move and construction, but I still wiggle out some room to make some stretchers. It is something I enjoy doing. When I was in High School I had a job working for a guy who made wooden toys. I learned to use a lot of power tools and have enjoyed doing this type of work ever since. 
And... as a teaser, here is a painting I just completed. It is drying before I take a picture of it and share with the world. It is leaning against the canvas that is my next large landscape: 8' x 4'. Getting BIGGER! Having FUN!