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Month: January 2011

This is for you, mom

This is for you, mom

As I get older I notice that I already start to feel older than I really am.  I often think about how “I’m 30” even though that statement won’t be true for over another two months. This feeling probably has less to do with how my body feels and more to do with my perception of life accomplishment (or lack of it). There are many things that I thought I would be or have done by the time March 2011 rolled around. Very few of them I’ve been able to cross off the list. Honestly, one of the reasons I went back to school was perhaps so I COULD take  “get a graduate degree before I’m 30” off that list.

Now that I’ve long since passed the escape velocity of graduate school I can finally comment on it. In short, it really feels like it never happened.  I’d say that “the money is gone,” but that isn’t entirely accurate either, as I have yet to get the first bill (there is a six month window between graduation and the beginning of repayment). The only thing that has changed is that I have a few new friends and associates (and a girlfriend) that I didn’t know in 2008. If I made more money last year it was from new freelance clients, not because of my education. I have gained new insight into realms I hadn’t delved into previously. I know more about economics, finance and so on. Some of that will have an impact on my future, as I’ve done things like reallocate my retirement funds, but largely it has no effect on my life in the present.

I don’t “feel smarter.” In fact I feel dumber only because I have noticed that my formerly agile brain is beginning to slowly atrophy. A memory that used to impress everyone at the office with the ability to remember every conversation and the dates things happened has disappeared from my skill-set.  The ability to always pluck the right words and drop them into a conversation has disappeared as well.  I find myself at least a few times every week not being able to remember the particular “big word” I’m intending to use in a verbal pronouncement.

After years of staring at a glowing box for 15+ hours a day I’m noticing my eyes can’t see as far as they used to.  Of course, this is nothing to fret about as I was (and still am) one of the few that do not need glasses. It does take some getting used to knowing that your body is now starting to decay and it will only get worse as time marches on.

Time, something that I was supposed to discover so much more of now that I’m out of classes, has also started slipping away faster than normal. When one has to complete a paper or presentation or study for a test every week, time seems compressed. It goes by quickly, but satisfyingly as many things are accomplished. Now when I turn around and see the whole month of January behind me and only a little 11×14 painting to show for it I feel lazy. This new sense of time also forces me to deal with the demons I used to escape from in financial equations and SWOT analysis. Now I know I spend all day not doing what I would like. Lately I’ve made a point to turn off the world between 8pm and 10pm on weeknights.  This is my time to do what I want (art). It claws at my heart when I think of how small a stretch of time I get to devote to what I actually enjoy and how the rest of the time (on weekdays) seems to sputter off into nothing. Oh, sure, I’m making sure that some older men keep receiving large checks, but the work I’m doing seemingly has no positive effect on my own well being (financial or mental). And that’s not the fault of those men I pledged my service to, they’re doing what they intended to do, I merely inserted myself into a machine in 2005 without considering the ultimate consequences first. Now, six years on, I’m deep inside and wouldn’t survive long without being implanted into another machine of similar (albeit I hope much larger and better designed) workings.

Similarly, in 2007, I inserted myself into a home loan minutes before the housing bubble burst. This conflagration of a few bad decisions now has me locked in a sort of “free prison.” Oh sure, I’m allowed to wander at night and pretend I’m free – but I belong to someone else from 7am to 5pm. Every week I go through an amazing transformation.  I wake up on Saturday morning with a sense of purpose.  I have plans, and most often they involve things I like doing. I often am able to completely forget that the warden has only let me out for a short period. On Sunday it dawns on me that I must make my way back to the gates and prepare to start hammering out license plates the morning following. This process, which occurs with certainty every Sunday, is a bit like the dramatic emotional drain that can be visually seen in the face of a child when told (with proof) of the nonexistence of Santa Claus for the first time.  No Virginia, there isn’t a Santa Claus, and you’ll never feel quite the same about the good nature of existence again; you’re ruined.

It occurred to me a few days ago that I’ve now spent almost ten years of my life with most of my days dedicated to looking at things that don’t exist. I wonder what George Berkeley would think of me.  I live largely in an imaginary world assembled in my head of data that is only represented to my eyes, but doesn’t even exist in the “real” world. Then, when I’m done with that horror (“talking” to people who I can’t see or hear doesn’t sound like a very human interaction, does it?), I retire to my estate only to retract completely into imagination with the only connection to the real world being the tip of my pencil or brush. This should not be a surprising viewpoint, as my friends know I’m a futurist and do not enjoy the trappings of the primitive stage in human evolution we happen to share at the moment. I do all I can (sans psychotropic cop-outs) to escape the real world. This does, of course, at first glance sound like something a madman would say. Recognize though, dear reader, that madmen do not know that they have escaped the clutches of the foul mundane “real.” That is the difference between insanity and creativity.  Creativity is the ability to leave this world knowingly and voluntarily and return likewise with proof.

My ability to escape momentarily from this world is really the only proof that it exists at all.

Also – I need a haircut, now that they know what causes baldness (scalp stem cell problems, google it) maybe they can tweak me so I don’t look like a shaggy dog two weeks after a cut.

Southern California Fires

Southern California Fires

I had to fire someone for the first time yesterday.  Ironically I ended up having to (getting to?) do it via email since the employee was off site and didn’t respond to my phone calls.  Since this position was/is important we immediately re posted the job ad on craigslist.  I get the strangest emails from job seekers on craigslist…

I received an email today from a designer with a short cover letter that included this sentence:

“I have a strong of atheistic,…”

After a minute I realized they probably meant “I have a strong sense of aesthetics” – but the bad grammar and misspelling made my day.  Given my views on religion I suppose I have a strong sense of atheistic too!

It amazes me how many people can create a cover letter and/or resume without feeling a need to click spell check.  My theory is that they must not need work that badly.  Meanwhile, I’ve had friends and professors review my resume to get it perfect, acquiring recommendations on LinkedIn, etc., but haven’t received a response from a potential employer for over two years.  I have easily applied for over 1,000 jobs and procured only one interview (at UCLA in 2008).  To be fair, I’m not a desperate unemployed wreck who will take whatever I can get.  I’ve been very selective in the positions I’ve applied for (both in pay grade and location) and competition is expected to be stiffer.  Regardless, these are positions I’m qualified for, in some cases overqualified for, yet I haven’t received a single phone call.

I haven’t posted about that before, but at this point I don’t think anyone at my current office would be surprised that I’m keeping my options open.  I also have doubts anyone at my office has or ever will read my blog, I’ve been successful in keeping those worlds separate so far.

Art Walk January

Art Walk January

Another second thursday – another art walk downtown.  Once again, I drove to Sam’s office to pick her up.  I decided to take a new route to try and avoid traffic, which was maybe five miles longer and looped around downtown – but was much quicker.  This put me on the 5 south connecting to the 10 west.  It was about 5:30 and the sun was setting.  The view from that little section of freeway is nice as it is raised up above the city streets and the view of the downtown skyline is clear.  Unfortunately my photos are not clear, but you get the idea.

Much more impressive in person.

This art walk was largely even further diminished from that of December.  There seemed to be less of a crowd and less art.  More galleries were closed and some that were open had nothing changed from last month (including the half-assed show at Bang).  The food trucks were out in abundance though.  Sam and I split a pomegranate black tea boba drink.  Even though the proprietor assured us it was “decaf tea” I didn’t get to sleep that night until 2am the next morning – not good on a Thursday night.

There is a gallery that is on the second floor of a building near the epicenter of the Art Walk.  If you’ve gone, you know what gallery I’m talking about.  On this Art Walk the space below that gallery (ground floor) was rented out for’s show.  The show was actually quite impressive, a mix of traditional art and newer art forms (or just now recognized as art) like tattoo and digital painting.

Here are some impressive pieces from the show:

John Park live painting demo.

Figure based photography prints by Andrea Pun.  Reminds me a lot of  Brooke Shaden – not sure who came first, but they’ve both exhibited work at/on BlueCanvas.

Tony Hong had a number of lovely intricate ink drawings inspired by trees (both the insides and outsides).

James Paick had some great environmental design digital paintings and was doing a Wacom sponsored demo.

Korin Faught had a few small paintings (or perhaps they were prints).  Korin’s work is largely figurative and she uses a lot of symbolism.  This is one of those artists that I’m sort of jealous of – as I wish I had the skills to paint the figures I see in my head the way she can and put them in believable environments.

Aron Wiesenfeld, one of the current darlings of the New Brow art scene had a small charcoal piece.  I’d actually seen this piece online before as Aron’s shows have been covered in the art press, and his work often finds its way into daily art photo blogs like (which I subscribe to).

Right next to Aron’s piece was a similarly sized piece by another New Brow darling – Andrew Hem (arguably more popular right now than Aron).

There were several life-size paintings from Lance Richlin in the show including the one above called “actress.”  You can’t see from the photo – but the detail work is amazing in Lance’s work.  The statuette on the table has tarnish on it that is only visible from about a foot away.  Just like a few of the other painters I mentioned earlier in this post (and appeared in the same show), Lance’s work pairs stunning skill in realistic rendering (look at that granite counter top!) with subtle symbolism (note the arm on left with wrist cut, ghost with crown, etc.).

The gallery also had a tattoo parlor doing a live “demo.”

After seeing all the great art that BlueCanvas had on display we headed to the upstairs gallery… where… we found stuff like this:


When we got to the Temple of Visions it was full of new art.  Many many Amanda Sage pieces and four or five by James Zar.  As we walked to the back of the gallery we passed a man and a woman sitting on the benches.  The women looked like she was asleep – but then I noticed her hands were outstretched (on her knees) and open in a meditative posture.  THEN I did a double take at the man sitting next to her.  I’ll be damned if it didn’t look like Gallagher.  I kid you not, after doing a double take on him I noticed he was wearing a coat that literally said “Gallagher” on it, thus leaving no doubt to my previous suspicions.  Within five minutes others noticed and started having their pictures taken and I tried to very slyly document the moment.  The result was this horrible shot:

Next door at the hive we walked through the Tarot card themed show.  Below are some of the pieces  (to see mine go to my post from a few days ago) that I liked:

Yoko D’Holbachie was one of the featured artists and had a bunch of these little paintings that look like candy coated Hello Kitty monsters.   I think she could take this farther (less cute, more crazy) and go to some really interesting places in the future.

Asia Eng also has a nice style that will be very interesting to watch change and mature over the next few years.  She has a way of painting very vibrant abstract paintings that incorporate very intricate details not too far away from realism (like detailed butterfly wings emerging from a sea of swirling colors).  Above is a small photo of a large painting of Koi.  I’ve always liked Koi, so of course I’m drawn to work like this.

Asia’s paintings were right behind the Tarot table (which was by the door last time).

Sze Jones had a pretty cool alto-relievo sculpture.  I didn’t post it, however, because upon investigating her web site I found the above sculpture which is intensely beautiful and much more refined than the piece in the show.

Augie Pagan had this cool little piece; his interpretation of the “strength” card in the tarot.

For my piece in the show, Ten of Wands, see the next blog entry below….

Hive January

Hive January

Attended the Hive Tarot show tonight.  There were a lot of interesting pieces.  This is one of their most popular themed group shows.   I got there around 10pm and it was really hard to move around; a good thing for artists getting their name out, but a bad thing for me casually perusing the art.

I’ll post more when I revisit it on Thursday – but here is my little 5×7 piece for the Ten of Wands card:

new post

new post

Someone near and dear noticed last night that I haven’t posted a lot lately.  I’d like to say I’ve been busy – but that is really only half true.  I’ve been sick for the last week and haven’t felt like doing much of anything (productive).  That’s the second illness in four months… Before last September I’d gone 26 months between illnesses!  I long suspected that my immune system was kept ramped up by my brain while I was in grad school, telling my body I couldn’t “afford” to be sick – thus keeping my white blood cells ever vigilant.  The only time I became ill (in the program) was last September at the end of our break between trimesters.

Now that school is over and there is a (somewhat depressing) void of intellectual challenge I think my immune system assumed it could take some time off.

Regardless, I’ve still been working on new art projects.  I’ve been working on a second portrait for Sam, but also completed a new piece for the Hive (for the show opening this Saturday) and for the past three days I’ve been getting the sketch for the next Hive piece (the February show) right.

So here is a quick scan of that sketch done on the office copy machine (so the quality isn’t so great).  The show is called “lovers and haters”, but for some reason it went into my head as “two lovers” and so I worked on that premise.  I suppose I can just say this represents the “lovers” side.  I hope it is clear what is going on in this sketch…

I know it looks like a quickie little sketch – but it was actually probably ten hours of work to get to this point.  There were many many “thumbnail” sketches, actual model posing sessions (you can guess who played the guy and girl) and then multiple revisions on the nearly complete pose.  Also I did a fair amount of research on how people pose in weightless environments – and a fun/ny part of the research dealt with what the woman’s hair would look like.  Basically in space long hair just spreads out like a gigantic multi-directional afro.   You can see the original lines for that in the sketch above -but I eventually decided to have her hair bound up so it would only spread out at the end of the ponytail… otherwise the hair would have obscured too much of the man’s already barely seen face.

I’m nervous about completing this on an 11×14 canvas as there is so much fine detail required….   we’ll see how it turns out… it’s due in 23 days….