Friday, April 30, 2010

Flash in a Pan

Improvised Jazz makes you itch. It makes your fingers tap and your limbs spasm. It makes you want to come unglued from your skin and fly around the ceiling. It makes you uncomfortable where you sit.

Other times you want to shout out. Emote some loud crystalline sound which isn't yet a word but should be. It makes you want to melt into a pool of quivering jelly. To return to an amoeba. In the nurturing, chaotic oceans where our multi-celled brethren evolved, I'm sure jazz was playing. Desperate, frenzied, improv jazz.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: last night my friend Thomas took me to see Hamid Drake, Kidd Jordan, and Ingebrigt Haker Flaten perform as the Drake Trio. Here's a Hamid Drake Solo. Now throw in a legendary sax player and a virtuoso upright bassist and you have last night's show.

It wasn't even the music itself which made last night's experience extraordinary. It was how the musicians disappeared into the music. It's like the music poured through them, and they, as individual human beings, ceased to exist. Even the audience seemed to disappear. A spell was cast, a trance, where nothing existed except mad, furious sound. Sound which spoke everything and nothing at once. If this seems like nonsense, go see a show like this. It's hard to understand until you've experienced it yourself.

Drawing and improv jazz are similar. When I look at the drawings I'm most proud of, I see a common thread. I didn't draw any of it. Meaning: I wasn't self-aware or thinking at all. I didn't even have a concept beforehand or even desire for a final product. I was simply there, allowing it to come. For me, this is a difficult and fleeting state to be in. I found it inspiring how these musicians could remain in this state for two hours. If I can learn to do that, "Oh, the Places I'll Go!"

Last night's performance also made me realize how there's something rare and immensely beautiful about art created with no commercial consideration. It exists for it's own purpose, and what better purpose is there?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rock Poster Art

Tonight a friend took me to see American Artifact, an inspiring film about the art of rock posters. Turns out there's a pretty large subculture which has formed around rock n' roll gig posters and it's easy to see why. They're amazing! Check out the trailer and you'll begin to see why.

Here are some of my favorite recent posters from The first one is simply beautiful, I adore the figure on the second, and the last one is just ridiculously funny. It's an ice cream cone peeing on your grave for cryin' out loud!

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Equation Needed: Apply Within

I valet at a restaurant. Often, at the beginning of a shift, I'll check the reservations. This will let me know what kind of night to expect. Like most people in 2010, I need money to survive, so when I check the reservation book, I'm hoping it's busy. The other night it looked rather slow, but there was a reservation for a large group of 20 people.

Upon seeing this, I caught myself thinking: "Here's hoping they arrive in 20 cars."

I examined this thought and found it funny and strange. Another me, in a context outside of my job, would obviously prefer these people walk or carpool. It appears my ideals of conservation are at odds with my desire (and necessity) to make money. But it's not just me. The car companies also hope these 20 people own automobiles and wear them out quickly. And the Oil Companies? To them, "carpool", must be a dirty word. I imagine the word creates an uneasy feeling, like "cholesterol" or "diabetes" might to a McDonald's executive.

My aim is not to vilify these companies. After all, they are largely made of people who, like myself, must earn a living. My scorn is directed at the system and our outdated modes of thinking, for as long as consumption = profit, it's like we're paid to burn our own house down.

(click to enlarge)
Here's an Earth Day card for our planet, courtesy one of my favorite living artists, Richard Thompson.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wouldn't it be nice...

... if the right thing to do was always the easiest thing to do?

Saturday, April 24, 2010


This morning's passage from the Tao read in part:

The mark of a moderate man
is freedom from his own ideas.

I like that.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Children's book writers are allowed to have political opinions, right?

A few days ago, my friend Sarah questioned a drawing in my portfolio: the president marionette. "I thought you liked Obama," she said. And she's right, as far as presidents go, I do like Obama. However, if you believe Obama or any president holds any substantial power in this world (or even this country), I think you're mistaken.

But my friend is right. Perhaps the drawing misrepresents my politics. After all, there are more deserving people who could be drawn attached to puppet strings.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Updated Portfolio

I've added seven new images to my online portfolio, and not one of them took longer than five minutes to draw. Of course, if you asked me in person how long each of these took to draw, I'd give you the more cliche and pretentious answer: "five minutes and my whole life."

Unfortunately, it's also the most accurate answer. Behind each of these simple drawings are literally hundreds of amateurish drawings riddled with mistakes. And the mistakes don't start or end on the paper. It's taken a long time to discover my talent, and there have been many false starts and painful dead-ends along the way.

These drawings also reflect my beliefs and are a snapshot of my current perception of existence, which like everything else, constantly changes and evolves.

After viewing these new drawings you might ask, "What does a strange looking guy with three bodies, or a politically charged cityscape have to do with children's illustration?" Nothing, really. But these are the drawings which resonate with me, and the ones I've chosen to represent myself. The truth is, I draw what I draw, and I can hardly help it. If I end up doing anything for children, it will come out of the discovery process I'm in now. A natural progression. Refinement.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Springtime In Texas

Texas is magnificent this time of year, so you'll have to forgive me for neglecting the blog.

Of course it hasn't been all butterflies, daisies, and dancing naked through meadows. March was a whirlwind which included: dental work, my car window being smashed and my backpack (and wallet) being stolen, SXSW, my 28th birthday, and a extended trip to West Texas and Big Bend. It was madness, MADNESS I TELL YOU!

But just because I haven't been blogging doesn't mean I haven't been drawing. New artwork coming soon.