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“Topsy Turvy Too”, The Human Condition Series, No. 94

20 Oct

This was a re edit from the original “Topsy Turvy” piece, which was unfortunately rejected due to Mickey’s face being upside down in a right side up silhouette. You can find the original in the “Extra” series. Because I loved the idea of everything being backwards and the story attached to it, I resubmitted it with his face normal, but the background still being similar. Here is the original post.

“Disorientation is the feeling I experience the most in regards to “The Human Condition Series”. I’ve been confused for a large portion of my life as understanding and keeping the information of things learned has always slipped my grasp as a kid. My brain had the hardest time retaining facts and information when I was young, and I always felt like I was spinning in this upside down spiraling void whenever asked to repeat, recite, or simply remember anything.

I used to think that inside everyone’s body was a house. Inside your feet were the basement and rec room, the legs were the study and exercise rooms, the stomach was the kitchen and dining room, the chest was the living room, and the brain was your own bedroom of sorts. Everyday I’d walk around staring at people trying to figure out what their house looked like from the inside, and automatically would associate their personality to the state of their house. The wacky would have funky houses, the prim and proper would have cookie cutter duplexes, and sad and disheveled would have empty and lost rooms awaiting furniture.

Looking inside my own self, I imagined that all the furniture was on the ceiling, and that magazines, coffee cups, and random flotsam and jetsam floated about the room with no gravity, aimlessly clinking into each other with no means of ever settling. All the paintings were backwards, and everything was in a consistent state of how I liked to describe to people as “upside-down-ness”. I suppose this was some kind of coping mechanism to relate to the world that I had attention deficit hyperactive disorder,  and had severe learning disabilities in both math and science.

When teachers would ask “Why can’t you understand this?” or “Why aren’t you retaining this information”, I could only reply that everything in my head was “Topsy Turvy”, and/or more specifically “That none of my furniture is on the floor in my head”, to which would promptly get me sent to the school shrink for my metaphors (which was common). I think for a lot of my life growing up in the microcosm of the school system in Georgia, my ability to relate to people on an educational level, let alone, a social level, was met with great obstacles, due to my inability to retain information. I was always in this state of confusion due to the mass amount of information being fed to me on a daily basis. In essence my imagination was a deterrent to me understanding anything, and therefore became my worst enemy.

With that being said, I was always “TOPSY TURVY”.

I was heavily insecure about this, even after being retested in my senior year and being rebranded as intelligent, heck.. EVEN after becoming an algebra tutor to my peers in college. .. I still had this lingering aftertaste of being inadequate and slow to the world. That feeling of confusion, being overwhelmed, backwards, upside-down.. still floated around softly in my skull tepidly whispering its potential of return. Occasionally in my late twenties and thirties working in business/corporate, I’d be reminded of its ghost, and I’d give it little refuge for establishing itself in my head.

It wasn’t until I fully realized that this confusion, this disorientation, … was more of a sensation from stifling my imagination and creative abilities. When I was discovered as an artist, my ideas emptied out of my head like a burst dam. .. YEARS AND YEARS of dreaming, thinking, drawing, sketching, … previous actions which were hinderances to my learning development, were suddenly rewarded by my quirky and weird thought processes. I wasn’t a failure. I wasn’t slow. In fact, there was nothing wrong with me at all. I just happened to be a human being meant for different things, things that required different thought patterns and different approaches. I was an artist. That was really it in the end.

This piece is called “Topsy Turvy (too)” which is the essential mainframe to confusion and ‘upside-down-ness’. For some of us, this backwards feeling can be quite unsettling, BUT for us creative folks, the idea of changing things around… thinking outside the box, and putting the ‘triangle peg in the square shape” … can be the very RARE quality that makes us catalysts for others to dream, think beyond the scope, and ultimately see and create beautiful things.”


“Out To Lunch”, The Human Condition Series, No. 72

25 Mar

Out To Lunch

Insanity is an important level to reach when you unlock yourself as an artist. Its a terrible and beautiful road we traverse to get to ourselves, and there is this kind of pandora’s box breaking point you get to when tapping into the raw grueling sector of yourself that provides the viewer with the best you can be. Even at the pinnacle of your outlandish self, when you’ve reached what you think is the barrier of your safety point.. you realize that there is yet another mountain to climb in front of you.. and that life your life and the potential of your aesthetic is a endless mountain range filled with even steeper peaks of your craziness and depth.

With insanity, comes the rawness, the depth, the introspective looking glass to yourself and what you are trying to convey in your work.

In the beginning of this TENxTENxTEN project, I relied on the warmth and simplicity of my geometric work to carry me on throughout my life. It was the piece “Wake Up and Smell the Sound of Coffee” that broke the mental camel’s back, and carried me up the first flight of the craziness and roughness of my work.

I have, for most of my life, painted simple things for safety. I had kept my work far from the integral deep part of my heart, because I was terrified of connecting my viewers to any portion of myself and my life’s story. I figured, that people just wanted to see the aesthetic, and that any connection to my head would be in fact detrimental to my artwork.

It was where I exposed myself to the coarse elements that brought people to the real portion of my work. It was that sense of approval from the vast change of my work that brought me to where I am.

In doing so I began to paint everywhere I went. From the various studios in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.. to the streets of Paris, Berlin, New York City, Philadelphia, Denver, DC, and beyond. Each moment, each painting, I got closer to connecting my work to myself, and in doing so I opened up all the rifts like a blustering electrical storm inside myself.

In this painting, entitled “Out To Lunch”, I combine ALL NINE “Human Condition” Series pieces into a cluster of different emotions and mental actions. In here I have put the elements of previous pieces about love (Forevermore), anxiety(#), joy (Sold in Face, Bubbles in Space), despair (Rain City Blues), confusion (Topsy Turvy), ambition (Sleeping Fluorescent Giants), bliss (Cotton Candy Universe), frustration (Metropolis Rising), and hope (Infinite Summer), and mashed them together into a portrait of the ultimate human condition.

This is the 10th in “The Human Condition” Series, and 82nd in the collection. This piece is the largest of the collection, measuring 36″ x 36″



“Cotton Candy Universe”, The Human Condition Series, No. 71

10 Mar

Cotton Candy Universe


Post Berlin I was in a haze. Everything was a massive blur from the chaotic wonderment that encapsulated me there. I suppose I was a bit heartbroken about the matter, and this was because throughout my life I’ve always connected when I’ve been disconnected from wherever I called my home.

A friend I had met in Berlin decided to visit me nearly three weeks later from my departure from his city. I decided to return the favor in showing him the sights of my home in Los Angeles since he had been so gracious to do the same in Berlin.

In my time with him, we traveled around Los Angeles. Steadfast in my project with TENxTENxTEN I carried a blank Mickey around with me to figure out what feeling or chapter I was going to paint about in our adventures.

His main focus in all of this was a vacation of sorts for both him and I, and I was to relax. Of course, I made whatever this focus was for him, to further my aesthetic into my project. We decided to leave my home in Los Feliz, and we rented a house on the boardwalk of Venice Beach.

While there, he walked the boardwalk in the daytime, and I sat in the front patio of the house painting around Mickey’s silhouette, minutely struggling to come up with a concept of our adventures.. and this came to mind. I decided to focus on BLISS, that ever incredible feeling of just being in felicity of one’s surroundings.

We traveled from Venice Beach to Palm Springs a day later, and I spent the remainder of this piece painting in the quiet breeze of the desert.

This painting represents the calm from the wild storms of heartache and anxiety. In here, Mickey is floating among tranquil bubbles and soft arching hot air balloons that quietly smooth around the circumference of a cotton candy universe. This piece speaks of that vacationing quiet that soothes the troubled heart and calms the quelling mind of life’s trials and tribulations. This is the 79th in TENxTENxTEN collection, and number 9 in “The Human Condition Series.



“Infinite Summer”, Human Condition Series, No. 62

14 Sep

560O0103C Infinite Summer 14x14

A few months ago I was commissioned to create a piece that would imbue the idea of hope. My mind twirled 360 degrees around the moon and beyond the stars over this idea, because to me hope was such a complex emotion.

As an adult, when I envisioned the idea of hope, my mind went to the business side of things. It created stories around charts and graphs, where I would see the protagonist arrow travel through the treacherous canyons and hills of a crisis to reach the upper right corner land of ‘hopeful’ profit and productivity of the present. I felt shallow because I knew hope stretched beyond the realms of the boardroom.

I tried again and again, and began to get frustrated over the complexity of this emotion. Everything I came up with too specific and untranslatable.

And then it hit me.

Hope wasn’t complex.

Hope was quite simple.

It was the situations that proved to be complex and out of shape. It was kind of like my understanding of a higher power. I put so many situational events and interpretations of how I was supposed to believe in something greater than myself. .. that the very idea of a higher being became too overwhelming to understand because I believed it to be too complex for me to process. But that was just it. ..

It wasn’t complex..

It was quite simple.

The belief of a higher power existed, and in that understanding, the idea of it became straightforward. It was the people that made it complex. Thats kind of how hope worked for me. Having hope wasn’t neccessarily a complicated emotion.. it was the situations where I needed hope that were beyond my control and therefore made it convoluted.

I focused back on this idea when looking at the piece and closed my eyes. I took this into a color context, as I rely on the psychology of color to communicate to a color seeing world. My client wanted hope over their ailments of life so I used the following colors of blue, yellow, and green.

In looking at all these colors together and what they objectively spoke about, I realized their relation to hope and how they connected me to my past and my beginnings of how I began to first have this feeling.

Growing up in Marietta, Georgia I often felt afraid, confused, and misunderstood. As I’ve mentioned in many blogs before, I spent most of my youth sitting on my bay window at night and looking at the lights of the distant city of Atlanta grow from the top of the hill at night. I dreamed that in those lights were places that would tell me not to be afraid. I spent many nights staring for hours and romanticizing about getting out of my town and moving to a place where people understood me.

It was in this, that I had hope.

When things got incredibly bad as a child I would run out into the yard to beg whatever magical force to take me away from where I lived. I’d lay out in the lawn for hours and stare at the sun and clouds and talk to the sky to strike up a bargain for my ticket out of where I lived. I would imagine, that someone eventually would hear me, and the grass and all its army of millions of legs, … would begin to move my body down the lawn, out of my town, and past my county line.

And while the grass never moved me, I did plant the seeds to manifest my reality. .. I eventually, when the opportunity became available, left Marietta, GA*.. and I traveled all over the United States and found understanding, conquered fear, settled confusion, and found the love I so desperately sought.

In this piece, called “Infinite Summer”, I chose to use these three colors as a nostalgic amulet for hope. The blue represents the sky I used to stare at. The yellow shards represent the sun that I used to converse with. The green waves represent the grass that I prayed would transport me away from my situation. Furthermore, I found specific meanings of the color to the client (as seen below)

1. Light Ultramarine Blue [PB29 + (PW6 x 2)] is the color of protection. In Greek Mythology, it was believed that the Gods on Mt. Olympus created the sky blue to let mortals know that they were protected. It was a color to ward off evil. In our path in life where hope is over our ailments, we often need protection to keep on keepin’ on.

2. Brilliant Yellow [PY86] / Diarylide Yellow [HR-70]. This represented the vibrancy of light, and was believed in pagan times to be a direct link to the power of life.

3. Spring Green [(PG7 + (PY86 x2)] Condensed Spring Green [PG7 + PY86]. This was an objective relation to color to grass and leaves that multiple religions used to emphasize the feeling of healing and renewal.

While I have never spoken to the client as this was a piece commissioned from one of the galleries that carries my work, I hope they find hope in this creation… as I did creating it. Hope is not complex. Hope is what carries us from point A to B to N to Z and beyond. Hope is what keeps us living.

Hope is having life.

This is the 9th in the “Human Condition” series, and serves as the 71st in the TENxTENxTEN collection.

*Disclaimer: Marietta, GA is a wonderful place to many people. I must emphasize that just because I did not fare well there does not mean its a terrible place.

“Forevermore”, The Human Condition Series, No. 51

5 Apr


Love is the incredible psychic adhesive that glues us all together.

It is complex and vast in its mystical workings, and for the life of me, one of the hardest emotions to piece together as a painting. When doing the “Human Condition Series”, emotions of greed, despair, and confusion were the easiest to put together, as these primarily worked as surface agents that, from a visual perspective, were easy to explain. Love, in all its circuitous glory, was far more intimidating to create, as it relied on my understanding on emotional depth, .. and I had to dive deep into the random crazy scribblings that I prescribe myself in these workings to fundamentally explain the sinewy fabrications of an emotion I have chased for years.

This piece is composed of dozens of phrases that ultimately construct the cloud 9 consciousness that love emits. In the face, items of music, flowers, and catchphrases bloom from the center of the face. There are radiating circumferences of pink and black that pulsate to the outer edges of the piece, signifying that frequency like signal that the feeling of love emits… almost as if Mickey is radio tower broadcasting waves of joy and happiness to all that is in reach.

This started out in Seattle Washington at a wedding on Capitol Hill during Valentines Day, and was worked on a flight back to San Francisco, and various diners and locations all over SF as well.

This piece is entitled “Forevermore” as in reference to happily ever after we, as humans, chase throughout our lives. It is the 8th in “Human Condition” series, and 58th in the TENxTENxTEN collection.

“#”, Human Condition Series, No. 44

18 Jan


“#”, otherwise known as “hashtag” is a metadata tag that allows words attached to “#” be classified into a searchable group. This is primarily used for internet social media outlets to connect users to a common word for many purposes (however it is not solely used for this). I relate this idea of tagging in much ways to the gateway of sensory perception.

Originally when I created this piece, I was doing a piece for the “Loveless Letters” section going over the year of travel in 2012. Each square was to be an airport terminal to a plane flight number, to an arriving gate, to an airport terminal, to a plane flight….  and so on and so on. Each square was to be a launching point to an arriving destination point that in turn launched to a different area.. When I had finished all the line work, I pulled back to look at the portrait, and the entire concept flipped entirely aesthetically into something else. While these were pathways, these resembled more of the action of getting to one place to the next.

This is


Worked on in:

  1. Los Feliz Art Studio, Los Angeles California
  2. Rooftop off of Sycamore Street, Mission District, San Francisco, California
  3. Box Factory, Mission District, San Francisco, California
  4. SOMA Art Studio, San Francisco, California

“Rain City Blues”, Human Condition Series, No. 42

28 Nov

Despair was such a hard feeling to bring into the “Human Condition” series. I thought about it for weeks, trying to figure out how I could essentially communicate this emotion without changing the smile on Mickey’s face. Sure I could use a different expression, but that would derail the entire point of the TENxTENxTEN collection. I decided to return to where I met the most obstacles in my life, and purchased tickets to Seattle, Washington.

When I had announced that I was returning to Washington to research despair, I was met with many comments over my choice by Seattle locals who found it slightly offensive that I chose THEIR town to research this feeling. I should mention that Seattle was not a city of despair, but a city where I personally found despair. These feelings emanated from the consequences of bad decisions I had made in that town, and mixed deep with the relentless rain and lack of sunshine that the Pacific Northwest was most famous for. I was unprepared for the present at that time, and slothed back and forth for 18 months (2006 – 2008) through the muddy torrential downpours, miserable from regret of leaving San Francisco and that lovely apartment I had off of 8th street in the SOMA district. I had left back to San Francisco burnt from the inability to adapt to Seattle, and carried with me a list of addiction issues, and personality problems. I was … in essence, a very sad and troubled fellow, and what I carried with me weighed me further down in my downward spiral, until my ultimate crash and burn event in Los Angeles a year later.

Upon returning to Seattle in a far more sober state that when I lived there, and I was able to revisit the feeling of despair from a rear view mirror. I did not experience despair, but remembered the experience of despair, and in doing so, was able to forge a painting based based off this emotion. This painting is built off of elements of Seattle, Washington. First I worn down the canvas by dragging it across the sidewalk down Broadway Avenue in Capitol Hill. I then infused black gouache with coffee grinds from the coffee houses of Vivace, Stumptown Roasters, and Roy Street to create the base of Mickey’s face. The background was later used with coffee, ink from pressed flowers, gouache, and rainwater I had captured in a pickle jar from the weekends downpour. I lined Mickey’s face with elements of soft sharp lines to emphasize a feeling of cracking, and drew lines of rain dripping in straight linear lines in the background.

With these elements I forged a portraiture of despair. Despair to me was never at best, dramatic. Despair did not move to destroy, it was not made of anger. Despair while insidious, moved like molasses. It was quiet and slow and sat uncomfortably like a distant ache. It was not sharp. It did not destroy me, It taught me to be better, to get better, and to desire greener pastures. It taught me to acknowledge my rock bottom, so I could move upwards to the top. Despair was an opaque and multidimensional teacher, and Seattle was my classroom.

Some would consider my visit to Seattle a bit ironic, considering I experienced nothing but joy and requited love from the visit.. but considering the state of my consistent sobriety, and my acknowledgement that Seattle is and WAS a beautiful city that I had miserable experiences is .. well … its not very ironic at all, but a testament to my growth as a human being.

This piece is called “Rain City Blues”, and is filed under the “Human Condition” series. This is the 47th piece of the TENxTENxTEN collection

“Sold in Face, Bubbles in Space”, The Human Condition Series, No. 23

25 Jul

Three months ago in April I found myself fidgeting with a blank piece of canvas in a sectioned off back room of a gallery west of Chicago. I wasn’t allowed to go into the front room just yet, as I was to be introduced to the collectors with an introduction and  Q & A once the room filled up. In that hour I sat there staring at this Mickey head over and over again, and wanted to create something from the anticipation. Much like the No. 14 piece “Home, Here is Love, Love is Here”, I wanted to find some element from the room I was occupying to get a creative kick start and ultimate one of a kind ‘in the moment’ fixture to the beginning of the piece.

I searched around, past the markers, and the paint, and brushes that already honed in on the area, and finally focused on the stamps that laid in perfectly organized format at the end of table. I quickly, and without hesitation, grabbed the ‘SOLD’ stamp, which clearly was for their sales slips on pieces that had sold, and began to hammer the canvas repeatedly over and over again. Honestly I had no idea what I was doing, but much like all of my work, there really are never mistakes, just layers and layers of work over each other, much like the waltz of time and sedimentary rock. And with that being said about time,  before I could start actually working on the piece, I was called up to front of the gallery for my presentation, and the progress of this series, was not completed until a later date.

After that show, I was booked for another show in Chicago a month later at the Center on Halsted and had another project on redoing a couple previously sold Mickey heads, and suddenly I found myself completely burnt out and just unable to do anything but sleep for days. I had, for the most part since the beginning of my relationship with Disney, been a steamroller of work, but finally I had succumbed to my human need for rest, and began this month long hibernation of various other side jobs and much needed slumber.

When I awoke a month later, I sat there at my drawing table for hours, just staring at the sketches of ideas and blank canvas. My hands, like bib lettuce, lackadaisically, flipped through pieces and pieces of unfinished work, until I came across the previously “SOLD” stamped piece. I stared at it for a while, and much like coffee for the morning person, I just kind of slowly woke up and remembered that first show… being in the back room, the smell of cologne and perfume from the main room wafting in, the sounds of conversations beginning to pipe up, the crowd clamoring upwards, and more than anything the adrenaline of my first solo show with Disney at “Art Partners Gallery” .

From there I took the same ‘stream of consciousness root’ that I had done before and kind of let my hand guide me through scribbles of what was going on in my head at the time. This piece is called “Sold in Face, Bubbles in Space”, which represents the ‘sold’ stamps in the face, and the commentary bubbles in the rest of the space. This piece dually acts as a piece of art AND as a device for personal positive feedback. These words are to be viewed as not commentary for the actual piece, but as commentary for the viewer FROM the actual piece. (IE: you are ‘thumbs up’, ‘amazing’, ‘super’)

This is No. 27, completing this project at 27% of the actual goal of this project.

“Sleeping Fluorescent Giants”, The Human Condition Series, No. 17

7 Apr

Change is not always abrupt and cataclysmic. Change can be soft, and rippling quietly within the center to the outskirts of your hand to pen. I’ve been looking at my folder of inspiration and aesthetic, and for the most part in six years it has not changed. Its geometric, solid, and linear. It was this index of Rudy Gernreich, Pierre Cardin, Barbarella, slapped with a bit of Paul Klee and Mondrian. Its controlled chaos in an emerging space bubble aesthetic. Yet now when I look at these things, its lines are muted, and the once foundation of the need for shape becomes more of a training wheel idealism.

This piece says “Right Inside the Heart is a Sleeping Giant, and that Giant is Dreaming Very Big Ideas”. The letters are purposely distorted in an elementary context of shape. There are eyes within the eyes to see more than just the surface of things, and keys within the mouth to unlock speech of whats seen..

This piece is about the dawning of ideas, the changing our tastes, and the advancing of our aesthetics.

“Metropolis Rising”, The Human Condition Series, No. 15

2 Apr

Stream of Consciousness Series, No. 16

There is this two second intimidation to a blank piece of canvas when there is no plan. My right hand circles over the canvas without touching it, and my head is in this state of confusion and trepidation, and what seems like 20 minutes, is literally only a blip of a second before my hand decides what to do. This is all new to me, since before there were hours of planning before doing an execution. Its like a battle strategy, divide by the ruler, and conquer by the brush, and when all is said and done, there is no white space left to fight over.

I’m sitting in a chair in a massive group of people listening to them speak off of Melrose and Fairfax in West Hollywood. It’s 11:30am, I’ve had this canvas since 8:00am and I haven’t figured out what I’m going to make. Lately I’ve been focused on the shape of a cumulus nimbus cloud, which technically is a vertical cloud made up of atmospheric instability. Its flat at the base, with a massive bouffant of swirling electricity and humidity at the top. This kind of represents the build up of static imagination in my head… and how lately it has come together. Its never in this free form existing flow that pours like coffee in a 24/7 diner. Its sporadic and temperamental, and once the threshold is broken, its like an exploding dam.. never ending, and often spilling over the edges and into the ravines of the sides of canvas.

The 2nd form that I keep on drawing is cityscapes.

My head is like this city at times, and all my thoughts are compartmentalized into these spaces. The shops are desires, the apartments are basic thoughts, the museums are dreams, and the broken down sectors are my fears and insecurities. The city keeps growing, buildings building on other buildings, and the thoughts get demolished and rebuilt along the way. But I see them, as these twisting forms, consistently expanding in structure and distance as I get older. When I was a boy, I was a town, and now as a man, I am a city.

That day, in West Hollywood, in that metal uncomfortable chair, I drew a cumulus nimbus, and what erupted were more clouds in contrast to the city. This piece is about our ideas built on the foundation of our time here. Our hopes, desires, fears, and loves, built like a city around sporadically growing clouds of imaginative summer thunderheads. These are ideas inside the icon that guide us around the circumference of our dreams and possibilities and wonders inside our head.