Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Posts = 0 Games = 1

I'm going to be absent for the next few days, so no new posts until Jan 4th 2007. In the mean time here's a game. Have fun!

Friday, December 22, 2006


Merry Christmas movie house! Um.. I mean Merry Christmas everyone!

Feel free to download this as a wallpaper. (Click picture. Right-click big picture save as background/wallpaper. The usual procedure.)

You better be good this year or Monkeyclaus won't bring you a banana!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Electronic Nostalgia and Something New

I love electronic and down tempo music. This is what I'm listening to right now.

Tricky - Aftermath
Dj Shadow - Organ Donor
Daft Punk - Aerodynamic
Dj Sted-E - Zone
Lilly Allen - Smile

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Free Art, Strange Land

Sometimes I wish I was more free in my art like David Choe. I feel like I have these two fighting daemons inside of me, one pulling me towards realism and the other toward complete abstraction.

I want to make great art. I want to become a household name. But I also want to be myself. But to become famous now days all you have to do is be shocking in some way and get your name in the news. The art seems secondary.

I often feel that some artists use gimmicks to get in the news. One guy is now making art blindfolded, we are to believe that will take him out of the equation, ignoring the fact that he is still consciously moving the pencil. Another guy uses body waste like blood, feces, urine, and even placenta. Some other guy performs stunts such as protesting against breast feeding or putting a confessional on the back of a bike and riding around town in a priest's outfit. (The media always falls for this, and amazingly it's splashed across the headlines.)

I sometimes wish we could move forward to a time of art without gimmicks.And then sometimes I think that the gimmicks while not adding to art, at least add something interesting to life.

This other world of art feels like an unexplored land but upon arriving everything is familiar. It's sad in a way. We struggle to push our limits, the way we think, and the social norms, but all we end up doing is shining a flashlight into a corner we haven't looked at. Everything was already there, we just decided that we'd turn our head in a different direction.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Salty Encroachment

Monday, December 18, 2006

No More Painting on That Wall

(photo from New York Times)
I just thought this was a cool article about the end of an era.

My brother was a graffiti artist so I know first hand how much talent and work goes into it. We never had anything like this building in our city. I think it is awesome that a place like this existed and hope that somewhere in the future there will be someplace for free expression like this again.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Why You Should Own A Gimp

1 Job security. When you don't want to go to work you can force your gimp to go in your place.

2 Low maintenance. A gimp only requires one outfit and his room is a wood box at the foot of your bed.

3 Companionship. When you're feeling lonely you always have the gimp to keep you company.

4 No nagging. When you're tired of hearing your gimp talk you simply close the zipper on his hood.

5 Stress relief. When you are feeling frustrated you have a willing subject to whip.

6 Cool factor. Nothing says you're the coolest cat on the block like your own personal gimp.

7 Cash flow. If your short on cash you can rent your gimp to all your friends.

8 In with the Hollywood crowd. You now have an excuse to invite Quentin Tarantino to your place.

9 “I was with my gimp.” When the police knock on your door you have an alibi.

10 Cheap labor. When none of your friends show up you always have someone to help you move.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Killer on the Road: Part Four

We're now starting to see an almost completed painting. You can see that I've fleshed out the furrows by blending black into red until it looks like it is supposed to. What you may not notice is that the lines of the furrows on the right side of the road have been changed in direction.

This is the problem that I was talking about at the end of part three. In the sketch, the shape of the enclosing rectangle is slightly taller which gave enough room for the furrows to flow off the right, but with the narrower shape of the MDF I had to repaint the furrows to go off over the hill and into our imaginations.

After this was resolved, I had to blend in the gray. First I had to cover the ends of the rows with white to provide some sort of barrier between the gray and the red. Then I had to add the gray, being careful to not pick up too much black. But everything kept mixing together anyway, making a muddy mess. I needed a solution and I ended up diving right in and pushing lots of paint around, smearing the gray over the red and the red over the gray until it looked right. Sometimes you have to bold while painting and take risks. Luckily this time it worked out. (Sometimes you end up scraping it off with the knife and starting over.)

So after the fields were done, I had this bright white road down the middle and thought it needed some dirtying up. I used a brush with some dark grey and black on it and scumbled it around a bit in the white. This seemed to work but it was a little too dirty. I went over it again with white, which brightened it up, but still let some of the darker color show, adding some texture to the blank road.

In the second photo you can see the only thing I added was the fence. This called for a thin brush that could carry a lot of paint. There's only one brush for the job and that's the liner brush.

The liner can be tricky since it has a tendency to go out of control and will loose paint at the tip first which means you have to press harder bringing side of the bristles down to finish the stroke, but this also means that you usually end up with a thicker line since the hairs of the brush start to fan out. Once this happens you need to reload the brush with paint which means twirling it through a big gob of thinned paint until all the bristles line up and it is back to its original shape.

Once you get the hang of it, it's not that bad, you just have to watch what you are doing and know when it's time to reload. So after I slapped in the fence it was time to let it dry for the final stage.

I still need to paint the figure on the road and put in my signature finishing touches. This will be much easier to do when it is dry. So for now, part five is going to have to wait as we watch the paint dry.

(To be continued.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Killer on the Road: Part Three

I've put two photos on this one so that there aren't so many parts to this post. From here on out things go pretty smoothly.

I want the fields to contrast with the sky but part of them go under the city so I take some left over gray from the buildings and use it to get the general shape of the land. The sharp eye will also notice that I added some more sky to the left side of the city since the land was going to dip down right there.

Then I took a step back and realized that the buildings looked flat, so I used some lighter and darker paint to put some streaky details in the buildings. I liked the looks of this but it still needed some detail.

In my other paintings I usually put in lighted windows to show someone is home, but in this one I thought leaving them out would be better. But after standing back and looking at the painting I realized that the city wasn't alive yet and needed the windows. I mixed up a light orangey color that seemed to fit with the other colors. I took my small liner brush, and using just the tip, put in some windows in a grid pattern which brightened things up.

In the lower picture I started to add the color to the fields. Since I already had the gray there, I wasn't sure how they would mix together.

I often wonder what people think of artists. Do they think that they get this complete idea in their head and then just go about putting it on canvas like a paint by number? Or do people realize that there are many, many steps and decisions that are performed while the painting is taking form, and that the artist probably has as much foreknowledge of what it's going to look like as them. When a painting is finished, I'm usually as surprised as anyone else as to how it turned out.

Well anyway, I use the red to help define the final shape of the road. If you look at the gray on the left side of the city you will see a sharper drop off than later on in the red. I didn't like the way the road didn't quite look as if it was getting smaller with distance, so I rechecked my sketch and sure enough that part needed to be flattened out and the drop off placed further down the road.

After that, I started putting in the furrows of the field. I knew that I wanted them to fade into gray at the ends but at this point I wasn't too concerned with them. As I learned in the next step I should have been thinking harder about how I wanted the final painting to look.

(To be continued.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Killer on the Road: Part Two

Yes, that is a partially completed painting on a jerry rigged easel. Hey, if Albert Pinkham Ryder can paint on the back of a chair using shoe polish for paint and Picasso can draw on a table cloth I can certainly use a home built easel. Plus, it only cost ten bucks, while a good store bought easel would cost over $100, and fancier ones require a mortgage. Money I'd rather spend on paint. (But if you feel sorry for me, feel free to donate some green to the get Brady a real easel fund. Or better yet, buy some art.)

Okay, on with the painting. Yes I know this is a little further along than a blank newly primed chunk of MDF but I got to this point before I reminded myself that I was going to do this post. After wrapping my mind around the shape and size of my surface, I laid out my paints. I paint mainly with primary colors plus black and white. Working with a limited palette does two things. First it teaches me how to mix any color, and secondly it makes sure that my colors will all work together and I won't have an unusually contrasting color that doesn't fit with the painting as a whole.

My paint of choice is Alkyd. Alkyd is a resin modified oil paint that makes all the different colors dry at the same rate. If you've ever painted with oils you know that some colors can take weeks to dry, like white. With Alkyds I can paint quicker and not have to worry about storing a wet painting for months, worrying if something is going to smear it. Alkyds also have the advantage that they are usually dry to the touch within a couple of days.

I've been thinking about making a red and grey painting for weeks, so the first thing I do is brush a large red splotch across the board about where the sky should be. Next, I fill in the top with black and begin roughly mixing them together on the surface. After I get it looking like I want it, I take a fan brush and lightly, with super fast wrist action, blend the whole thing together to remove some of the brush marks of the coarser brush.

At this point I have to decide where the city is going to be and the white area behind it. I use my palette knife to scrape away the sky area where I want the white and use a paper towel to wipe as much red paint off as I can. (Painting is extremely paper towel intensive. I go through a roll on just about every painting.)

Next I have to paint in the white, but through experience I know that it will turn pink if I just use straight white from the tube. So, to make the white stick to, but not blend with the red underneath I have to mix it with a little bit of paint thinner. After gingerly applying the white paint over the red, so as not to dig into it and make pink. I end up with an arch of white against a red and black sky.

I'm not exactly happy with this but I push ahead and grab a small clean brush and use it, and several paper towels, to scrape away the white paint as I block in the shapes of the city. Then I mix several colors of grey, some with a little blue, some without, some with some blue and yellow. Then I paint the basic buildings.

When I get to this point I want to figure out where the road and fields are going, so I take some white paint and rough in the general shape of the road. But that white arch is annoying me.

So I take a big flat brush and start to blend the arch. This is not an easy task, since on one side I have very wet buildings, that if I run into will make the white grey or the buildings white, neither one a desirable outcome. And on the other side, I have a red sky that is also wet and threatening to make it a pink arch. I finally come up with an almost Cezanne type brush stroke of dabbing that makes the arch blend in with the sky, and yet remain white behind the city. And yes I did have to go back and fix the buildings a couple of times.

I'll continue this next time since this has gotten way too long. This had several steps in it, I expect the other posts to be far shorter.

(To be continued.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Killer on the Road

This is a sketch of a painting I'm doing. I thought I would try something different and walk you through the process of how I paint. I'm not trying to teach anyone how to paint like I do, since I believe every artist should express their own view, but I might talk about some techniques along the way.

I was listening to Riders on the Storm by The Doors while I was falling asleep, and when he sang the line "there's a killer on the road" this idea popped into my head. The next day I sketched it out.

I usually sketch on anything at hand, but a cheap notebook for some reason tends to bring out my muse. I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go because you never know when an idea will hit you. All I know is that there must be some graveyard out there for lost ideas, I never seem to be able to remember them if I don't write them down within a short time.

A painting usually starts out with an idea and then I sketch it. Inspiration usually finds me when I'm in a slightly meditative state, like listening to music, sitting listening to a speaker, or about to fall asleep at night.

When I hear a song that wakes up my muse I usually put it on repeat and soak it for all it's worth. And then when I'm painting I play it again on repeat, or will make a play list for that painting with songs that seem to have a similar mood.

The next thing I do is find something to paint on that's about the right size and shape. I paint on all sorts of surfaces but I like MDF. It's an absolutely smooth board made from sawdust and glue and I can cut it into any shape I like. I like MDF since its thickness allows you to hang it without a frame.

After finding the right surface, I usually set it on my easel for a day or two while my subconscious gets comfortable with the idea of painting this idea on this board. I know that sounds weird, but if my mind isn't happy with it there's nothing I can do about it. After all of me agrees that it is the right surface for the job I'll start to paint.

(to be continued.)

Friday, December 08, 2006


Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Fountain: Not a Movie Review

(Sorry it's long and rambles a bit.)
When I go see a movie I always step into the situation without preconceived ideas. When I saw the previews for The Fountain I thought it looked cool. I went online and read some article somewhere about it saying it was scifi, which is my genre of choice, and that the director, Darren Aronofsky, used bacteria grown in petri dishes instead of computer graphics for as many shots in the movie as he could. I thought it was something I would have to see for myself, and that it would be interesting at the very least.

When I say I like scifi, I don't mean that I like giant cyborg chihuahuas running around destroying mankind with the help of evil one eyed aliens from Hell. What I mean is I like scifi with meaning and thought behind it. So when The Fountain started I was more than willing to let it unveil itself.

It started out with Thomas the conquistador finishing his quest, and I thought oh no, not the old show the ending first trick. (It's like reading the end of a book first. What's the point of reading it after that? You might as well save your money and just read a review.) After finishing the movie, I could almost forgive Aronofsky for the trick, but I still think it would be a better show if they would have started with the journey and not the conclusion.

Besides the tricks of story telling, as I was watching the movie I noticed that throughout the show people would periodically get up and leave, never to return. I've walked out on my fair share of movies but usually for offensive reasons, and so far I couldn't think of anything offensive about the show. So I started thinking that there must be a disconnect between what people thought they were going to see and what they were actually seeing.

This made me wonder why people go to see movies. Do they see previews, form an idea of what the movie is about, see the show, and go home to compare notes, checking off where the movie did and did not conform to their view of things? Do people go to movies just to forget for two hours how crappy they've made their lives? There are many more questions I could think of, but without an official poll, (assuming people even think about why they see movies in the first place) I couldn't guess their reasons.

But I do know my own reasons. Number one on my list are the looks. Film is first and foremost a visual medium and if it doesn't grab my attention visually I might still think it a good show but I feel the lack of decent visuals.

Second, I love a show with a story line, a.k.a. a plot. A plot is defined as, a situation is revealed, there is a struggle over the situation, and the situation is resolved. This could involve people or lumps of play dough, but it has to come to a conclusion. I am not a fan of the "slice of life" genre.

One other reason I watch movies, but certainly not the last, is when it provokes new thoughts. If a movie can make me think about things I haven't thought of before, especially things beyond the here and now, it gets extra marks.

Given a choice between saying I hate The Fountain, or I like it. I would have to say that I liked it. For most people I believe they would say they hate it, since it lacks the typical Hollywood predictability. But I will say that this isn't going to be a movie I watch repeatedly.

After leaving the movie I kept thinking about it and what Aronofsky was trying to say. One review I read says, it's all about the "cycle of life", but this trite answer ignores many of the details of the show. Yes I believe that that's in there but it isn't an accurate summation.

Another review tried to simplify things by saying that there are three separate Thomases, but this doesn't fit with the movie since clearly the doctor and the space faring Thomas have the same tattoos, same pen, and same wife with a brain tumor. And at the end of the movie space Thomas is clearly recognised as the Mayans First Father, (sort of like a cross between Adam and the Norse god Odin, if you haven't seen the movie.)

So here's my take on it, (subject to change of course.) I believe that doctor and space Thomas are the same. The doctor does find a way to stop death, using the tree, but living forever doesn't answer the question of death. After humanity gets to a certain level of technology he sets off to the place where he believes Izzy, his dead wife, will be resurrected by the dying star by pulling her spirit from the tree.

The tree is the key to living forever and the conquistador Thomas and the other Thomas are linked spiritually at the least. In the movie time is like a circle, (actually it's more like a sphere but that's another post.) Space/doctor Thomas is actually the Mayan First Father, and the tree he creates to keep him alive turns out to be the tree of life of the Mayans. (Hey it's science fiction. If it was simple, more people would be reading it.)

But by dying space/doctor Thomas starts the cycle up/over and if you listen carefully to the Mayan lore in the movie, becomes the First Father through sacrifice of his desperate clinging to life, his preconceived ideas, and his belief that he knows everything.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Domestic Expedition

Why am I taking photos at three in the morning? It's the banana's fault. It's always the bananas.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Late Spring

I took this up at a small reservoir last March. It was quiet and cold and reminded me of one of those western movies. I half expected Clint Eastwood to come riding by, cigar clenched between tight lips.

I played with filters a little bit and got this partial b&w, partial color image. It made me think of a cold Winter turning into Spring with great reluctance, like trying to pry a few grains of sand out of Father Time's grasp.

Later on, Search and Rescue came down out of the back country with their fancy snowmobiles and gear. It looked like they had just finished training for the day. They stared to pack their stuff onto trailers and into trucks. One of the recruits thought it would be fun to try to take this four wheeler that was towing a snowmobile over a ten foot high mound of snow the plows had piled up.

You and I could have both predicted what happened, he got stuck. I didn't think it was appropriate to laugh at a Search and Rescue team, especially since one day I might have the misfortune to need them, but it was sure hard waiting until I got in the car before I let it out.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Time ≠ Great Art

As an artist, one thing that I often get asked and overhear, is that people will ask how long it took for an artist to create the work of art.

If time was the best indicator of good art, the greatest painting would never be finished. And what does this say about photography? With the click of a shutter lasting 1/60 of a second or faster, by the more time equals better art method, photography would be the lowest form of art, if it would even merit such a label.

I heard a story once where a customer went into an art gallery to buy a painting. The customer found one he liked but its price was a little out of his price range. The customer called over the gallery owner and asked if he could lower the price since after all, how long could it have taken the artist to paint it anyway. The gallery owner replied it took sixty years. The artist was sixty years old when he painted it, and up until that time there was no way he could have painted it before that moment.

The point of this is simple. An artist's work is a reflection of who they are, the environment around them, and the skill they have acquired, not the time it took to create it.

A good thing to remember is if you like the artwork, then whatever time it took to make it was the correct amount. Any more or less would have produced a different work. And if it is a different work of art, who cares how long it took?

Friday, December 01, 2006

I Invented Pizza...

I keep getting email purportedly telling me things I don't know. For the past several years I've gotten the "Mars will look as big as the Moon" email hoax. But the latest one is telling me 50 things I don't know.

I admit to a couple of facts on there I didn't know. But apparently neither did the person who wrote them. Two of my favorites are about dragonflies and scissors.

One of them said dragonflies only live for 24 hours. I thought hmm, interesting, I'll check it out. It turns out that they live for several months and the shortest lived among them, live several weeks, even if you only take into account their adult stage.

The other one said that scissors were invented by Leonardo Da Vinci. The only way this could be true is if Leonardo was extremely long lived, (let's just say he would put Methuselah to shame,) and was probably Egyptian.

But the email was correct about a few things. I did learn things I didn't know, or at least relearned them. If you get an email telling you things, check the facts and try to remember to do it before you send it to all your friends.