Saturday, December 25, 2010

Oil Portraits again

After a nasty rejection several months ago, I had more-or-less decided to take a break from portraits. I did NO art for 2 or 3 months, and made myself sick on a cheap diet of Ramen noodles and whatnot, basically insolvent financially. Then I got into murals a bit, but I'm not sure how much I enjoy murals, to be honest.

So...

Recently, a sculptor acquaintance of mine wanted a pastel portrait of his neighbor's newborn, a little girl, but instead of pastel, I chose oil. I delivered it yesterday, on Christmas Eve, and all were pleased. And I am pleased. I enjoyed the act of painting again in oils, in a portrait. It went well in most of its stages. About 20 hours perhaps.

I'm realizing how much I disdain pastel, and that rough scratch-scratch-scratch, and that pastel chalky "smoke" which rises and gets in my mouth and nostrils and lungs... I LOVE the smell and feel of oil, however.

Anyway... The canvas was 24 X 18 inches, but the portrait area inside the white border is about 11 X 8. The reference photo, you see, was cropped just like this, and was about an inch or two wide, so I just painted what I saw, which is a lot easier then trying to imagine how the head and body were completed. The photo had a white border and a pink field surrounding it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Residential Mural, first wall

Acrylic on cement block. This is a south-facing wall, and even in November it is too hot to touch. Miserable working conditions, and the paint was drying almost instantly as I stroked it on... but the overall effect came out OK. "Decorative palm trees and foliage, and a little southwestern motif sun... or something. Nice customers.

BEFORE:



AFTER:

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Boat Portrait

I took this photo before it was finished... Later I adjusted the clouds, and added more clouds, and whatnot, and then didn't get a photo of the finished piece. ...Not completely happy with this, but landscapes are new to me.
...Acrylic on wood panel, 36 X 24 inches. ...For a hundred bucks, I'll do another one... hint hint...



Convenience Store Murals...Continued

Each head is about four feet high. Acrylics again, of course. Owner wanted more girls eating sandwiches, and is happy with the result, apparently. (I actually went back a week later and made the sandwich much thicker and meatier, and I adjusted the teeth of the dark-skinned girl, slightly.)






Saturday, October 02, 2010

Mural at Convenience Store


Acrylic on Latex... First time using acrylic for flesh tones...

I was nervous about this. I realize that there is no more difficult subject for a muralist than a human face and/or figure, and my acrylic experience is limited. But I knew that if I could wrap my head around people in acrylic, in a water-based paint, in a mural, large-scale, that I can paint anything in acrylic, in a water-based paint, in a mural, large-scale.

It was surprisingly easy, and I think it came-out quite nice. From the proper viewing distance, it looks almost to be a photo plastered onto the wall...almost.

Or maybe I'm wrong. ....There are lots of people saying WOW and whatnot, but I don't have any artist friends saying anything like that, so far. And artists are the ones who know.

...Oh well...

I never know. I painted a portrait last spring, got it rejected, and then I freaked-out and didn't do anything for 3 months. My very specific thought was, "If I am not an artist, I do not wish to live." It was a very specific, very powerful thought, and it chilled me. Am I not actually an artist? But rather a poor fellow with misconceptions?..., poor poor Tim, ha ha ha, so sad really, him thinking he's a real artist continuing the tradition.

Alas... I do not know. I've been a failure so long, it seems the appropriate designation. Just ask any of my previous employers. I love 'em all, but they were GLAD to see me go. Heartbreaking.

Again, I know, I'm reveling in delicious self-pity. But everything is such a mystery. Everything. Waking in the morn, scratching my eyes, "Is that really the beginning light of day?" or a memory of being home, being loved, a child, a Saturday, and my long-lost Mom rubbing my thin child shoulders, and telling me to sleep more if I wish....?





Sunday, August 29, 2010

Losing all hope is freedom



"Losing all hope is freedom." ...This quote is from a fellow named Timo Noko in Finland. Here's his website:

http://koti.welho.com/tnoko/

This fellow has a dry wit and a strange perspective. He travels by kayak in places all over the world, alone, and spearfishes, cooks on open flames, and generally thumbs his nose at all convention.
He has several videos. It's worth watching one or two just to get a sense of someone this unusual.

I often think that simple kayak/canoe travel, and simple fishing, simple living, selling simple art, alone, and seeing the world... is the ideal scenario for myself. I did a lot of that sort of thing on the weekends back in Orlando, (canoe camping, that is...) traveling with eagerness to the east coast of Florida whenever I could, and camping, swimming, watching the stars at night, ...seeing...

And, these days, it seems as if I AM losing all hope, just like this Finnish fellow. All hope for a normal life. ....In recent months I've been told (by friends) that I'm a poor and even dangerous sailor, and that if I were lucky enough to get married and have kids, that I'd be a poor father; and I've had my artwork rejected; I've been rejected by business friends as well, basically; and, of course, a few women over the years have bluntly rejected me in startling fashion.

Losing all hope is freedom. That's an idea which seems delicious as I try to avoid eating in order to save money. Losing all hope is perhaps my best hope at this point. My youth is finished, and my careers are disasters. I just had another mural job get postponed, and spent my last dollar again.

Perhaps I've lost all hope already, all hope, that is, for the normal. Or perhaps all hope, flatly, is the best description. Just accept it and give up and go. Fascinating.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Living Hand to Mouth...What does that mean?

I found this answer on the 'Net:

' Hand to mouth is a phrase which is used to denote living with the help of bare essentials. Living from hand to mouth means having absolutely meagre resources. What the phrase actually means is that, as soon as the resources are coming in, they are getting spent on basic necessities. To live from hand to mouth is to have a precarious existence. It literally means to intake or eat whatever one can lay their hands on. For example, "he was living hand to mouth after he was fired from his workplace". '

Anyway...

That's what the last few days have been like. Counting my change, looking for coins on the boat, running through the dwindling inventory of rice and noodles, and instantly taking and eating any food a friend or stranger gives me. (No, I'm not begging.) However, I do actually say things like, "If you have any FOOD you don't want...." Or, "You're SURE you must cancel that commission? Yesterday you said--"... whatever...

I guess it's an interesting experience that I'll always remember, especially later when I'm rich and famous. lol

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trying to have some fun today

Why so serious?

I don't know. Just broke, I guess. And hungry, a bit. Not too bad. Hard to get good food.

Graphite on regular ol' printing paper, 8 X 11 or whatever. ... Almost got him:



Sketches of the Day

Ball point pen stuff.

Sitting in the doc's office, waiting for a friend (to drive him home), and reading William Silvers' (of Disney fame) new book on acrylic painting... I got out the blue pen and doodled:

Reading V for Vendetta, and thought I'd practice on a few of the characters:


Not so good....My portrait sketching often looks like caricaturing, with too-big eyes, etc...:

Overall, blue ballpoint pen sketching is convenient and a good exercise. You can't erase.

Poem of the day

How Death Got His Start

I found
this lullaby in my head this morning
in those moments flashing
between sleeping stupor and awake:
Roses are red, blood is like red, red is red, my roommate is dead.

The police don't like me, I can tell, I told
their questions.
The sweetly cold wall on my face for a moment or two, my mouth
upon it;
it was new latex;
it tasted of ammonia, and at that moment
it occurred to me
that my mouth can be upon someone without kissing.

And I remember the horrible pain of the handcuffs, but later they sent me home.

But later that year when my cousin was dead, they left me in the cell.
And when my cellmate died They put me in a room alone.
But, my Goodness, I escaped. A huge riot! Many of us got out, many died, many had red blood.

Running in the woods I found a stream but could not drink.
Running in the woods I found an elk and killed it but could not weep.
No, that is ridiculous.
No, yes, it is dead.
And a poor woodpecker with red head, dead.

I desired screaming, I desired kisses, I desired.

I found a large highway and walked straight out into it,
and the wreckage began.
...There were people in the upside-down car, moaning.
I crawled in and put my kiss on each.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Mural Website

Yeah, so I'm trying to get my mural career going again, so I started this:

www.TimGardnerMurals.Blogspot.com

Right now, I don't have much of a portfolio of murals, so I'm trying to create many murals ASAP. I may be painting a really huge cuban SANDWICH on the side of restaurant tomorrow. We'll see. Funny. ...I figure I can try to make it the most realistic and cool-looking cuban around.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Continuing to not paint portraits



I may never do another portrait, I've decided. I'm not sure I enjoy the subject matter. Perhaps I'm feeling constrained. I'd like to paint everything... I like the idea of murals. The scale. The variety. I especially like large outdoor murals. Something about me, psychologically, finds that huge scale appealing.
Here's a photo of Eric Henn. An excellent artist who became a muralist specializing in large-scale outdoor works. This is the size I want to work with:


What does this say about me?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gallery Update

Yea! I've finally updated my gallery. Go to

http://www.TimothyBrentGardner.BlogSpot.com

...or not...your choice...But, really, I mean, why not? Go ahead and see my gallery...or not... Or you can, yes, you CAN go there and see my gallery of art, oh yes...yes...YES! ...or not... YOUR choice... Nobody's twisting your arm here, you know... No pressure... OK? OK... All is well...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Our One Possession

From V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore:

"But it was my integrity that was important. Is that so selfish? It sells for so little, but it's all we have left in this place.
"It is the very last inch of us.
"But within that inch we are free." ...

"It is strange that my life should end in such a terrible place, but for three years I had roses and I apologized to nobody.
"I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish...
"Except one.
"An inch.
"It's small and it's fragile and it's the only thing in the world that's worth having.
"We must never lose it or sell it, or give it away.
"We must never let them take it from us.
"I don't know who you are, or whether you're a man or a woman. I may never see you. I will never hug you or cry with you or get drunk with you.
"But I love you.
"I hope that you escape this place.
"I hope that the world turns and that things get better, and that one day people have roses again." ...

"I know every inch of this cell.
"This cell knows every inch of me.
"Except one."

...

EXECUTION :

Guard: "It's time. ...Unless you want to change your mind. ...Sign that statement. You could be out inside three years. Perhaps they'd find you a job..." ...

Prisoner: "Thank you. ...But I'd rather die behind the chemical sheds."

Guard: "Then there's nothing left to threaten with, is there? ...You are free."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Charcoal Portraits

I drew this charcoal several months ago, while experimenting with different papers. This paper was actually Newsprint, which I loved, but which yellows and deteriorates quickly. I couldn't find another other paper I liked, so I stopped doing charcoals. Silly, I know.

You see, I've long had this idea that I should make money by doing live charcoal portraits. I did caricatures for years, which I think can ruin a traditional artist if he's not careful. But don't get me wrong. Caricatures are wonderful, but for artists they're mainly wonderful if you're a cartoonist. All very respectable, but not my dream. Charcoal portraits (from a live model) are a demanding step up from caricaturing, and one step below the discipline of oil portraiture.

Of course, I've done plenty of oil portraits (although I've been taking a break for the last 3 months, to get my head straight). But my oils have been from photos.

I have this romantic notion: if I want to participate in the tradition of the old masters, then I must do my oils LIVE. The artist observes a thing in the world, and then recreates it. From the caves in France, to the Athenian artisans, to Michelangelo, and John Singer Sargent, to my doorstep now. It is one thread being stretched through the centuries. When you see those drawings in the cave, you know that MAN was there. This is the skill which defines the human as human, and abstracts us away from the animal.

But to make a living, and to increase my skill, I believe charcoal portraits, done live, and quickly, are a perfect compliment to, and enhancement of, oil portraiture. I have this image of me setting-up on a sidewalk, with or without permission from whomever thinks they are the giver of permissions of whichever site, and doing fantastic, mind-blowing, beautiful charcoal portraits for 10 bucks a pop or something. ...Maybe I can do it one day, maybe not.

But to do live charcoal portraits, I must be sure of my materials, I must understand my materials. As of yet, I can't find the right combination of materials. Mainly, I cannot find a paper I like, which is readily available, and inexpensive, but of better quality than Newsprint.

And here's my confession. While I've taken a break from portraiture, I've also just realized that I have drawn NOTHING. Three months, NOTHING. I have found myself taking a break from all I know or understand or love. It has been a quiet Hell of sorts, walking through the days, doing whatnot, surviving, and unable to find the merest scrap of ambition.

And then, two days ago, I grabbed a blue-ink ball-point pen, and started drawing. I found it strange that the ability to draw, to see, still resided in me. A mystery, a joy.

Beautiful



I found this accidentally yesterday. I keep replaying it for the music, but also for the technique and the beauty of the charcoal portrait. Looks like vine and/or compressed charcoal. Notice how the artist blocks-in roughly and darkly, then "washes" the face, then drags a rag to soften and sink-in certain areas like the hair, and then restates dark areas, and then lifts off the highlight areas, bringing the visage to life, and then the final details. I'm guessing it was about a 20-minute drawing from a live model, but I don't know. If you go to the artist's YouTube channel, he has several more videos.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nightmarish Week

This last week can be called, without reservation, a nightmare.

First, I got news that my friend, Michele Nichols, was killed in a small plane crash. Michele was an artist in Orlando with whom I'd often worked, and whom, I must confess, I loved. Of course, she had a boyfriend, and he died also in the plane crash, but I would have married her in a second if she'd been single and if, miraculously, she would have wanted such a thing. But life rages against our desires often. Michele and I occasionally talked on the phone or emailed, and she had bought my old PC when I left Orlando last year. She paid more than it was worth, and she asked me, "Are you all right? Let me give you more money." And just a couple of months ago, I "borrowed back" my computer from her, visiting her at her apartment in Orlando for a couple of hours. She never used the computer she said, and I needed one for a while, promising to either bring it back or pay her back. "No, no, " she said, "Keep it, keep it." ... Sweet, sweet Michele is all I can think about, and her terrible final moments. Her face is so clear in my head. And my artist's imagination keeps playing a vivid reel of the plane's violent crash and explosion, with sweet Michele being mercilessly twisted and destroyed in the middle of the inferno, over and over in my head. I know this will torture my soul for a while, but like everything it will pass, and that will be sad as well. Then again, my suffering is certainly less than that of her family and closest friends. And I hate myself for being so interested my own suffering, fascinated by it really. I am an egotist.

Another thing happened, and this within 48 hours of the news of Michele's passing. A special friend of mine emailed a long letter to me which can be best described as a complete evisceration of our friendship. The man and his wife are portrait clients of mine, but more than that they are a couple to whom I have, in the past, looked for guidance and respect. I especially have wanted their respect. He is a boat captain, but he retired last year, and he and his wife moved out of state. I haven't spoken to them in several months, and then, suddenly, I receive this horrible email. I won't go into details, but it was bad enough that it makes me concerned for my friend's physical and spiritual health. Of course, it makes me doubt myself. My confidence in all things wavers constantly ... And so I'm stuck between incomprehension, anger, and love.

On lesser news, all my money-making efforts here in Apollo Beach have been defeated. I thought, for sure, that a couple of little commissions were developing, and I wasn't worried, but suddenly I was completely broke. I absolutely am unable, psychologically, to return to a normal job, but I won't go into details of that. Besides, I know how to make money with my art, but this whole thing snuck up on me. Maybe I wished it so. I don't know. I never planned to stay in Apollo Beach, and I've found myself glued to the place, unable to ascertain the proper will, or understand the proper will, or discover the proper will. I only know that I want to do my art, and travel simply, and not have friends die or friends deny me their friendship or... or...

What this all culminated into is, I have sold my cruising sailboat. In my current emotional/soulful state, I just wish to go. I'd like to photograph and paint wildlife and marine life, and I thought, in fact, that I'd buy the simplest craft I know, a canoe. Deck it, put a sail on it, grab a few items and my art supplies, and, indeed, go. Build a series of serious paintings.

But I compromised. I found a $200 sailboat, old and taken-apart and half-customized, but with almost all the parts, all the (OLD) sails, and with a decent trailer, and nothing but potential. It will be ready to go into the water in just a few days. The sailboat is only 20 feet long, and one-forth the weight of my just-sold cruising sailboat. It can actually be rowed, and the mast is rather easily put up and taken down. And everything is cheaper about such a small boat, and simpler. This is crucial. Perfect for my starving-artist/lamenting-soul mindset right now.

The $200 Sailboat:


Yes, I will live on her, and go to The Keys, and find tourists to buy my paintings, and begin working on a real portfolio. And I need to commit myself to improving my draftsmanship.

Being truly mobile is precious to me. With this boat, I can take all my art supplies and even most of my books and whatnot, and stay relatively dry. I think of it as a fat canoe, really. It has ballast in the form of a 400 lb. iron swing keel, and should be fairly stable yet nimble. My 22 lb. Danforth-style anchor, 30 feet of chain, and 150 feet of 1/2" three-strand anchor line should hold this vessel through everything up to a hurricane.

So I conclude the horror of this week with a touch of hope. And tomorrow is a new week.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Prisoner... Thoughts and Quotes


The Prisoner. How does one describe this thing? First it must be noted that it is a British television show from the 1960's. I still remember watching the reruns in the 1970's, as a kid. The premise, superficially, concerns an intelligence agent, ala James Bond or similar, who tries to escape his professional position and his unsatisfying life. But as he tries to retire, he is drugged and taken to a mysterious island. The island is populated with ostensibly happy people, and the environment is a lovely seaside village. And everyone is identified by a single number. Our protagonist is given the "name" Number 6.

Number 6 doesn't know why he's there at first, but then it becomes clear that some para-government entity has put him there. And all they WANT is for #6 to tell them WHY he resigned and WHAT he knows. And, generally, they want him to be a good citizen of the village, and conform, join-in, be nice... normal and friendly.

Of course, #6 immediately thinks of nothing else except ESCAPE.

In the end, the television series explores the relationship between an individual and the community. This is an ancient problem. The ancient Greeks ruminated excessively upon this very thing. And, philosophically, it is not in any way clear which is more important, the individual or the community in which he resides.

Our contemporary instincts tell us that the best good is that which is best for the most people. But it may come as a surprise that this is a rather new idea, or at least it's an idea which is only now popular, briefly, historically speaking. Surely it can be argued that great men, men like Socrates and Plato and Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, are more important to the very core of mankind than the teeming masses.

In my own estimation, the individual is at least as important as the community, and perhaps is of greater value. The individual human must be protected and respected as the most precious thing alive. That's why we have laws protecting the lone man against the tyranny of the many. The lone man stands aside the group, forever glorious and irreplaceable.

With that said, here are some quotes from The Prisoner:

First, my favorite:
“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own.”
--No.6; Arrival

And more. Peruse at your leisure:


New No.2: “Good day, Number Six.”
No.6: “Number what?”
New No.2: “Six. For official purposes, everyone has a number. Yours is number 6.”
No.6: “I am not a number, I am a person.”
--Arrival


No.2: “We can treat folly with kindness . . . knowing that soon his wild spirit will quieten, and the foolishness will fall away to reveal a model citizen.”
No.6: “That day you'll never see.”
--Dance of the Dead


“Unlike me, many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment and will die here like rotten cabbages.”
--No.6; Free For All


The Queen: “I want to be near you.”
No.6: “And everybody's near in this place . . . far too near.”
--Checkmate


No.2: “Tell me. . .are you still as keen as ever to leave us?”
No.6: “Any more questions?”
--The General


Chairman: “We deplore your spirit of disharmony.”
No.6: “That's a common complaint around here, isn't it?”
--A Change of Mind


No.2: “I assure you, that no matter what significance you may hold for me, to the Village and its Committee, you are merely Citizen Number Six, who has to be tolerated, and if necessary, shaped to fit.”
No.6: “Public Enemy Number Six.”
--A Change of Mind


“You still have a choice. You can still salvage your right to be individuals. Your rights to truth and free thought! Reject this false world of Number Two . . . reject it NOW!!”
--No.6; A Change of Mind


“He told [those kids] a . . . a blessed fairy tale. That one wouldn't drop his guard with his own GRANDMOTHER!”
--No.2 [concerning No.6]; The Girl Who Was Death


AND THE FINAL TWO:

“He has revolted. Resisted. Fought. Held fast. Maintained. Destroyed resistance. Overcome coercion. The right to be a person, someone or individual. We applaud his private war, and concede that despite materialistic efforts, he has survived intact and secure!”
--The President; Fall Out

“All that remains is . . . recognition of a man.”
--The President; Fall Out

Final note:
I suppose, too, that I should tell you the ending of the entire TV series. So if you don't wish to know, then stop reading.

Throughout the series of episodes, Number 6 continued to plead to see Number ONE. But he could never get passed Number 2. Number ONE was the only person who could, in the end, grant Number 6 freedom. Of course, finally, Number 6 is allowed to meet Number One. And who does he meet? Himself. That's right, Number One is his own self. The entire time, the person who was holding Number 6 PRISONER was his own self, his own fears... A great metaphor, for sure, beyond all the concerns of society and the individual within. In the end, WE are the people who stop ourselves from success. We fear escape. We fear success. We enslave our own souls by adhering to the ideals of the familiar.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"When in danger or in doubt, hoist your sails and bugger off out!"


A Law Unto Himself
- No money, no registration, no worries! Kris Larson wanders the Indian Ocean battling bureaucrats and ignoring snobbish yachtsmen aboard his steel junk.



I may have pointed to this article in my blog once before, but I don't remember. It's worth a repeat, either way. This fellow Kris Larson must be my long lost brother I think, or soul mate, of sorts. Thanks to AtomVoyages.com and James Baldwin for his great reportage.

Here's the link:

http://www.atomvoyages.com/articles/krislarsson.htm

To summarize, Kris is a fellow who James met back in the '90's I believe. Kris epitomizes the individual who proclaims the worth of the individual in an era of the collective. Of course, he probably wouldn't put it that way, but I do. Kris merely sails his home-built sailboat around the world and thumbs his nose at all the government over-reaching which dominates contemporary culture.

Here's a passage:

' From Darwin (Australia) he enjoyed a trouble-free 40-day passage on port tack all the way to Mauritius, where he began his first of many battles against port officials. His lack of boat-registration papers caused customs officers in each country Kris visited to react with anything from mild annoyance to shocked disbelief. We can imagine the scene: Boat registration, please. “No registration. Build her myself.” Inoculation certificate? “No papers, mate, but here’s a smallpox inoculation scar on my arm.” There are port charges. “Sorry, no money.” And so on. Rather than conform, Kris prefers to haggle with and outfox the port authorities. He usually gets away with it. '

And this:

' With his inability to obey the bureaucratic buffoons, certainly Kris will never be a candidate for membership in the Seven Seas Cruising Association. Kris said, "when those brown-shirts in the SSCA tried to tell me to 'leave a clean wake or you make it more difficult for all of us', I told them that by spinelessly accepting every new restriction and tax on our freedom, they are the ones making it more difficult for sailors to move around freely." '

The point is, sailors and non-sailors, in all aspects of modern life, are faced with more and more restrictions on our freedom.

For instance, right now, I'm struggling to upgrade Empty Pockets to legal status for a liveaboard. I especially need a working head (toilet) of adequate size. The thing is, I don't plan on actually USING the nasty thing. I piss over the side or ashore, and either go ashore to shit, or "pack it out," backpacker style. But the law requires a certain set-up, and the water police will ticket me if they board me and inspect the vessel. The sad thing is, with a properly working head and holding tank, when I have the thing "pumped-out" at a marina (for a fee) this untreated sewage will be circulated to a commercial sewage treatment plant where it may or may not be treated before being pumped INTO THE SEA. Millions of gallons of untreated sewage is deposited along our coasts every year by these commercial interests.

If we allow it, these pompous fellows who like to call themselves, as a group, GOVERNMENT, will tax our bank accounts and our RIGHTS right down to nothing.


(By the way, the title is a quote by Tristan Jones, who has buggered off out of this life, but still has influence. He was a sailor and a writer and a madman.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

More Illegal Drug Horror

First, let me say, I don't mind people smoking a little pot or snorting a little cocaine, or whatever, in the realm of mild hedonism... assuming all things, otherwise, are equal. But that's not reality. We do not live in a vacuum.

I know I've mentioned this before, but if you use illegal drugs, especially pot or cocaine or meth, you are FINANCING the drug cartels and the associated violence, killing, and destruction... the horror... You are financing the horror. Just look at the daily headlines out of Mexico.

Mexico. We in the U.S. get almost all our drugs from the Mexican drug gangs, those brutal and soulless institutions which market pleasure mixed with blood. Of course, we might think it's a Mexico problem, and not our concern. Well, the cartels have actually set-up a nicely organized network throughout North American cities, from Anchorage to Key West. They're right down the street, so to speak. But even if it were simply a problem in a foreign nation, the problem is, we are the ones creating the problem. Plus, the argument that non-Americans are undeserving of our concern is conspicuously without heart.

Let me be blunt.

Buy some weed today? Some coke? Take a toke today? Congratulations, you just added your own little money advance to the nightmare. Congratulations, moron. Sleep well in your stupor.

Listen, man, the Cosmos is full of pleasures that don't need to feed this catastrophe.

A cool glass of wine... sweet sex... dolphins off the bow of your boat... the laughter of a dependable friend... an anticipated meal... the smile of a curious child... starry, starry nights...

And on and on...

Listen, man, I wish drugs were legal, too. But they're not, at least not the kind of which I write tonight. Unfortunately, the appetite in America for these particular drugs is overwhelming. We give the cartels 30 BILLION BUCKS a year, and we sell them their automatic rifles and grenades and rocket launchers.

I mean, I don't know... Look in the mirror... No, do it... Look in the mirror and consider. I must do it also. I pay taxes and support the US military and its sometimes questionable (at best) use of force... .... And I pay for the government to ride harder and harder over the populace of our nation... But I must choose my battles. I politely decline to smoke. I politely decline to enjoy the company of many folks because of their drug use. Many folk. ...We must choose our battles.

Now, with that said, watch this video from last year. Horror.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sailboat Shipwreck and Rescue: 5 Days, 15 Miles, and One Broken Ankle

Empty Pockets, back at dock, after the ordeal:

OK, so I don't think my ankle is broken, but I'm not sure. Probably just a severe sprain. I can walk, barely.
...Here's the story:

Last month (April), my deal to paint murals at this old yacht club/ apartment complex was canceled. Since I didn't have money for rent, and since my Watkins 27 sailboat, Empty Pockets, needed a lot of work to really be ready to sail way, I decided to do a quick sale of the vessel. Within 72 hours, it was sold, and I had a measly $875 in my pocket. The new owner put an outboard on the back of Empty Pockets, and motored it away forever... or so I thought.

My friend let me stay temporarily on his "extra" sailboat, and I looked for a cheap, small, and ready-to-go sailboat. I soon found an 18-foot open boat, brought it back, and started to get it ready to head to The Keys. In the meantime, the yacht club owner had me do some normal ol' house painting to pay for a little rent.

THEN, a couple of weeks ago, an FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) officer gave me a visit. He said that they'd found my boat.
"What boat?"
"Your Watkins 27 sailboat. It's washed-up on a sandbar on the other side of Tampa Bay, laid over on its side, and full of water. Sunk, basically."
"Oh, no, that's terrible... But I sold that boat last month."
"Really? Well, do you have a bill of sale?"
"Uh, no. It's just an old sailboat, and the guy paid cash."
"Well, you are the owner of record, and you are responsible. You're facing criminal charges and many thousands of dollars for salvage fees and fines."

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Needless to say, I quickly contacted the guy who bought the sailboat, and he said he didn't have time for the whole situation, and that he would simply give the sailboat back to me. And he did just that. He brought the title back, and I was totally stuck with the wrecked thing. Great.

But then the St. Petersburg police got involved, and they said they were going to prosecute that guy who had bought the boat from me and wrecked it and abandoned it. (Actually, it had been "at anchor," but a storm pulled it away, dragging the anchor, and put the boat on the sandbar.)

So I was confused... A couple of days passed, and I got a ride over to where the boat was laid-up. I wish I'd gotten a pic. A sad sight, indeed. Empty Pockets was completely grounded and heeled over to starboard. It was completely full of water, with fish and everything else swimming in and out. But at low tide, it was in only a couple of feet of water. A salvageable situation, quite possibly.

Then, last Monday, the FWC said that they had consulted with the police, and they had all decided that I was the responsible party, since I was the owner of record. So that was that.

The next day, I arranged another ride, and planned on renting a big water pump. But, surprise surprise! I get a call from the guy who had bought the boat. Happily, he had taken responsibility and hired a boat and had, just the day before, pulled Empty Pockets off the sandbar and anchored it near a park about 2 miles away.
"So what now?" I asked.
"It's all yours, Tim. I'm DONE with the thing. Good luck!"

HA! I was off. I gathered together some necessary items, borrowed a rowing dinghy, got a ride over to that park, and rowed me and my stuff over to the boat. And... And.... I was officially living aboard my own cruising boat again. Suddenly. Wow.

First sunset, back aboard:



But there was one small problem. It was sinking.

OK, OK, I can handle this, I thought. I pumped and pumped the water, and, finally, about four hours later, I could see the leak. The drive shaft/stuffing box was lightly pouring water into the bilge. I called my friend, Radar, who calmed me down and guided me, over the phone, through an attempt at repairs. And eventually I got the leak down to a drip-drip-drip, and went to bed about 2 A.M.

The next day, exhaustion. All the stress of the last week, and then all that pumping... I was wasted. I took four naps during the day, in-between bouts of cleaning-up and organizing the big mess which was my new home.

I love being "at anchor." Being "on the hook" is wonderful. One thing, it's much cooler than being at a dock. And there's a sense of freedom. Just raise the sails, pull up the anchor, and GO. Anywhere. Any time. ...In a sense. ...But it's not quite that simple, of course. I have responsibilities, needs... Yet the whole experience is thrilling for me. Sure, boats will zip by and throw-up a wake, and I must row the dinghy to shore if I need anything, but think about it: no rent, no bills, and the freedom the roam around wherever I wish. If I like someplace, I'll drop the hook and stay a while. If I have problems, I pull up the anchor and "bugger off."

The reality is, and was, last week, I needed to get back to Apollo Beach and get all my stuff. Plus I have some loose ends. But buggering-off I shall be, soon.

But let me finish the story, and tell how I broke my ankle, or almost.

I actually had never sailed ALONE on a boat of this size. My Islander 24 wasn't really that much smaller, but, then again, moving-up to a Watkins 27 is a big move. The Watkins weighs twice as much, and takes a lot more sail area to move at all.

Quickly I learned that I needed both the mainsail and the jib up if I wanted more than a knot or two of speed. The top speed of a sailboat like this is 5 or 6 knots, which doesn't seem like much to those not familiar with sailboats, but if you're sailing at 5 knots in a 27-foot boat, it means you REALLY have the wind going and the sails full, and the boat is likely heeled WAY over, and there's a A LOT of action and movement in and amongst the waves and current. It's beautiful and exciting. Tears come to my eyes, thinking of it... It's such a powerful physical and soulful experience.

Anyway... A couple of days pass. I'm enjoying being at anchor, and getting some rest, and I'm getting the vessel organized. I mean, first, besides saving the boat from sinking, I had to untangle one of the anchor lines from the rudder. ( They had put out 2 anchors. ) And the sails needed to be inspected and tested. ...I then sailed the boat away from the anchorage where'd it been left, and cruised about half a mile away to an isolated location off Indian Key in Boca Ciega Bay. Ahh, alone at last. I sail around a bit, feeling uncomfortable with the big sails and more cumbersome vessel, but knowing that it would only take a little time with the girl to learn her ways.

Day Four, Friday. Dawn. THIS is the day, I say to myself. Let's get back to Apollo Beach and get my stuff!

One problem. No wind.

So I wait. And wait more. The boat is ready to go. I made sure of that the evening before. I just need some wind.

Slowly the breeze begins and builds, hour after hour. I try THREE times to get going before I'm successful. You see, I had to cross under a bridge. The bridge was certainly high enough, but the tide had changed, and I had, by Noon, missed my chance for a favorable current. My first attempt had me pull up the anchor, sail back and forth a couple of times in the wide anchorage next the the Intracoastal Waterway, and give up, throwing the anchor back down. Damn. Around lunchtime, with more breeze, I pull up anchor again, sail around a little, a little better, a little more wind, and I said around for an hour or so, wishing for more wind. I even make a dry run directly down the channel toward the bridge, with the wind at my stern. No way. I turn hard to port and sail a couple of hundred yards away, and drop anchor. Again. Whew!

I eat lunch.

About 2:30 PM, I look at the situation. My food and water are getting low. (I was actually beginning to ration everything.) The wind EXISTS, and is steady. I need to get back. Go for it.

So I begin heaving-in the anchor line and chain AGAIN, for the third time. Let's go! I put-up all my sail area, and I immediately realize that the wind is indeed a bit better. I zip around, tack, and jibe, and head straight down the channel again for the bridge. Here I go!

Yeah, here I go, but slowly. The current is going the opposite direction. But I have steerage, and the breeze direction is perfect, directly astern. Let's just do it.

And it works. I slowly and surely slide under I-275, and then out the other side. HA! Here we come!

I cover the next four miles down the ICW channel in an hour. Only ten more miles! Me and Empty Pockets enter the wide expanse of Tampa Bay proper.

But then... but then... But then the breeze begins fading. And soon it's nothing. I wallow the remaining hours of the day two or three miles from land. Seeing my destination, but also seeing my origin.

Eventually I notice that the eastern shore of Tampa Bay is covered in clouds, and that smoke stacks are indicating a different wind direction than that which I've had so far. So I try to milk all the energy I can out of my sails, but instead of northeast, I head east, and get another half-knot of speed to go with the half-know I already had.

And soon, I think, I mean, I think this is happening, YES, I'm picking-up a southeast wind. A nice one! Woo-hoo! It is pure joy, man. Pure joy, as the sun sets behind me.

This new wind, however, proves more fickle than I would have guessed. But I manage to cross the ship's channel before dark. Five more miles!

Night descends.

No problem. No problem. I have already anticipated this, and have used duct tape to attach temporary red and green lights to the pulpit at the bow. But I need to go forward and turn 'em on. So I set the sails and steering wheel in as much a balanced position as I can, and I calmly dance forward. I am happy.

So I turn-on the lights at the bow, and turn-around to walk back to the rear of the boat, to the helm. But something strange happens. I stop. I look at the boat. I'm standing on the foredeck, and watch as the boat is sailing itself, just like I trimmed it, and I have this overwhelming experience. I see the boat, heeled over with the sails full, and me and the boat are jostling quickly over the light choppy waves, and the sun's light is still noticeable in the orange western sky, and the full moon is rising around to my left, and the fishy breeze is cool on my skin, and a dramatic opera of lights upon the sea surround me, and I wonder, very clearly, "How is it I've come to this point in my life? This spot, this time, this beautiful boat and overwhelming experience. How is this boat doing this? How am I doing this? ... Did I make all my decisions throughout my life simply to come to this point? It is perfect."

I sail through the deepening evening. The moon, completely full, meets me. And I can see the lights of Apollo Beach about two miles off my starboard bow.

WHAM!!! SCRATCH!!!!!

"What the--?!" I exclaim. I've hit something in the water, under me.

I look back, but don't see anything. I shine the flashlight all around as I keep Empty Pockets on course. Nothing. But then I wonder... I step forward and shine the flashlight down into the cabin. Water everywhere! Oh my god!

I set the steering wheel and sails again, pointing toward Apollo Beach as close as I can. (The wind is coming FROM that direction.) I scramble down the companionway stairs and into the ankle-deep water. (The bilge is already full and is spilling out onto and over the floor, the cabin sole.) Soon the problem is identified. That same drive shaft is leaking again, but this time it's SPINNING, throwing water all around. My repairs from before have broken loose. The prop is obviously spinning on the other end of the shaft, outside the hull. I grab some line and tape and tie-off the shaft to stop the spinning. This greatly helps, but it's still leaking pretty bad. Two steady streams from below the shaft.

Wow, I must get back to the helm! ...I skip up the companionway and into the cockpit, over the starboard lazarette hatch, and to behind the wheel. Everything looks all right. Back down now. I jump back down there and start pumping. Whew, I didn't know I could pump so fast! Soon I have the water level down below the sole, and I jump over the companionway, into the cockpit again, and place my right foot on that starboard lazarette hatch and--CRACK!--the hatch has suddenly given way and slipped off, with my right foot along for the ride. The crack sound is my ankle breaking, obviously. Or the shout that went out from my lungs.

In a flash, I realize that I'm lying on my back directly behind the wheel. I'm holding my knee with both hands, and I may or may not be screaming. Another moment passes. I sit up, look around, and notice that I've accidentally tacked the boat, turning into the opposite direction as I had grabbed the wheel for support when I feel. Or I assume that's what happened.

I reach down with apprehension toward my ankle in the dark, expecting to feel bone marrow exposed and warm blood gushing freely. But... nothing. I grab the flashlight, which has suddenly appeared beside me, and shine it done to my ankle. Wow, it's really swollen, but that's it. I stand up, grabbed the jib sheet (control line) and try to tack back around to put us back on course.

Amazingly, I realize that I can put plenty of weight on the injured ankle and foot. I reset the boat's travel, and I shine the light below to see the water level holding steady. Sitting down again, I simply steer the boat toward shore, still a mile or two away.

Of course, the wind is dying.

10:30 PM... I call my friend and tell him I may need his help the next morning. He says he'll be ready.

I sail for another hour or so, before giving up with virtually no breeze, and still a half-mile from shore.

Then again, there was no chance that I would have tried to sail in the dark up the narrow channel which leads to the canals of Apollo Beach... against the wind, no less. So I drop sails and drop anchor. But then, a wind! Let's go! I raise sails, despite limping really badly now, and noticing an occasional crunch-crunch-crunch sound coming from my ankle. I pull up that damn heavy anchor line and anchor for the fourth time this day, and get back to the helm and... and... and the wind drops to nothing.

I think, "I must be crazy. My ankle is broken, my boat is sinking, and I want to get a little closer to the beach before I drop anchor for the night?!!!!"

So I anchor and I secure the sails. I go below and make more repairs, dragging my bum ankle and foot around like a useless appendage of wood or silt. The repairs work, and the leak is reduced to a drip again.

I take two aspirin and go to bed. Unconscious in the middle of Tampa Bay, you might say.

The next morning, I expected my foot to look like a footBALL, but the swelling was about the same as the evening before. The leak repairs are holding, and I go up into the sunshine as Empty Pockets rolls lightly in the pleasant breeze. Memorial Day weekend has begun, and this Saturday morning welcomes many boaters. Beercan Island isn't far away from me, and several boats are already there, readying for a weekend of partying. I call my friend, Radar, again, and, surprise-surprise, he is already in his boat and headed my way. I was going to tell him not to bother, but I don't have the courage. "Thank you," I say, and then wait.

After he tows me back to the Dolphin House, I tie-up, go take a shower, and Radar takes me to the store for groceries. It's good to have friends.

Thus... I have my boat. It's a mess, really. All the cushions are soaked, and lots of stuff "floated away" while it was aground over by St. Pete. But Empty Pockets is obviously a tough old Watkins sailboat. I may keep her. She seems to want me.

Finally, I don't think my ankle is broken. I did a little researching online, and am confident that, since I don't have constant pain, and since I can wiggle my toes and MOVE my ankle in all directions (with difficulty)... I am confident that I have very badly sprained my ankle, not broken it. Yet, as is, I may not be mobile for at least a couple of weeks. About the time my rent expires. ... Great.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

PIIGS: The Beginning of the End for the World Economic System?

When the normal guys start talking crazy, that's when I get REALLY nervous. There's always nay-sayers and contrarians and fringe personalities making money off of common fear, but as more mainstream commentators comment on possible DOOM, I am chilled:



What Brian Williams is mentioning is something called PIIGS in Europe. It stands for "Portugal Ireland Italy Greece Spain." More recently it may be indicated as PIIGGS, with the extra G for Great Britain. ... The term has been around for a while, but what it now infers is any European country with high government debt levels and an unsustainable economic reality. GREECE is the current big struggle, and is completely collapsing economically, and thus socially and fundamentally.

I am no expert, but I do my best to piece things together from various sources. I confess that I am a libertarian politically, which means, in one sense, that I do not believe government should be involved in the realm of business and economics, basically, but should be a small entity just as it was originally conceived in the U.S., with little interest in how we conduct our individual lives as long as we are just to each other. The government should have a capable military, an adequate court system, but generally these people who join the government of the U.S.A. should leave us all the hell alone.

Of course, today, the governments of the U.S. and virtually everywhere have become giant enterprises, more or less, and have taken over the role of the mafia and similar organized crime associations of the various cultures worldwide, banning such organizations while simultaneously collecting payment from individuals and threatening us all with violence, naming imprisonment. I find it remarkable that we've allowed ourselves to be so ridiculously dupped. Then again, I suppose it is all about the psychological force known as "the father." Each of us will always be the children of our parents, and we all, secretly, wish to be protected and cared-for by this "father entity." Food, shelter, love... So we vote HIM into power in the form of more government oversight and help, more entitlement, more and more and more... and finally we quietly cross a point of no return and get to a point at which the father can no longer realistically provide for us. The whole world is reaching this place. Greece is our future, it is being said.

Europe and the International Monetary Fund are now moving into action. ONE TRILLION DOLLARS (750 billion euros) are being spent to save Greece and stabilize the markets. Now, one of the amazing things about this is that Greece is a nation of only 11 million people, which is smaller than New York City or Los Angeles. Heck, my original hometown of Dallas/Fort Worth is over half that size. So what's the big deal about Greece?

Well, again, I lack technical knowledge here, but the idea is that ALL IS INTERCONNECTED in this world, economically. The construction of this worldwide, interconnected economic reality occurred throughout the 20th century. Let me explain. We had World War I, WWII, and we had all the horrors we could imagine became reality. The popular notion, then, was to connect all nations politically and especially economically, so that if one nation attacked another, it would AUTOMATICALLY "lose," because it was harming its own economy as it sought destruction of the other nation. It's like the Cold War. Mutually-guaranteed destruction: if the US attacked the USSR with nuclear weapons, the USSR would retaliate with nuclear weapons, and both nations would be destroyed.

In the end, this has basically WORKED. No world wars, just occasional incidents in small countries, in a sense, despite the very real loss of life in places like Vietnam. These days, the US cannot attack China, because we would destroy our economy, and vice-versa, and on and on.

But there is ONE FATAL FLAW, as I understand it, and which many are beginning to speak of. If one part of this daisy chain goes over the cliff economically, it starts pulling the other links of the chain over with it, or at least starts a gravitational force upon the rest of the long chain. Slowly, as this force is unrelenting, other chain links are pulled toward the precipice. And as these nations, one by one, fall over the cliff, they pull the rest of us over as well.

The EU and the IMF and the USA are attempting to save Greece, but there are "conditions" which Greece must meet. Greece must reduce the size of its government and associated payrolls and pensions, and must begin privatizing some of its health care system. Greece has for too long taken money out of the private sector and put it into government. The obvious observation by an American is, "Hey, aren't we going in the same direction?!" Yes we are. As we bail-out Greece and demand that it reduce its public sector, we are simultaneously increasing the size of our public sector and are removing more of the health care system from private hands. We are making ourselves into one of the PIIGGS.

But how long do we have before the images of rioting on TV are images of US cities? I do not know. Some say it could begin any ol' time now, but others say it'll be a couple of years, or any point in between, while others say that we are a special situation which is somewhat immune to such things.

I don't know. I am neither a sage nor a fortune-teller. But it looks very, very bad. The stimulus money is apparently going to be running-out soon. Many states have sustained their public institutions this past year only because of that stimulus entitlement. Without it, an array of public jobs and works will be unfunded further, likely leading to mass lay-offs around the country in the next year or so, or so I understand. And that public state consideration is only one small part of the disaster we face. The private foreclosure mess isn't any better, and at any time may move wholeheartedly into commercial real estate. The local malls will begin closing, and then supermarkets. And while some stores will certainly survive and even prosper perhaps, the growing closings of the local malls and whatnot will likely have profound psychological effects en masse upon the population.

ODD TIMING. For myself, I have fully accepted the life of the starving artist, and of living with little. I have realized that, in order to concentrate on serious art, I must abandon all the money-making infatuation I have, in a sense. I mean, in order to have a nice apartment and a nice car and a nice TV and a nice computer and ALL THAT (which IS all very nice, don't get me wrong) I MUST WORK MANY, MANY HOURS in whatever job I can get, whether it be as a waiter or a truck driver or a cook or a Disney caricature artist. Most people say, "Oh, that was so perfect, working at Disney, drawing cartoons all day... and you're able to pursue your favorite art when you get home." Wrong! When I would get home, I'd be exhausted, and go straight to the TV and the computer, and eat a meal, have a beer, whatever, RELAX. I did this for YEARS, and I see other artists doing the same thing. ... So what's the solution? For me, it's radical: quit everything, drop-out of everything, and just make serious art. I'm little above a homeless person, living on my little sailboat, wondering if I'll have money next week for food, but, at the same time, all I do for money is serious painting. I'm even giving-up pastel portraits. From now on, basically, I'll simply be exploring oil painting and the old masters. I'll sell my works wherever I can, to whomever I can, for whatever I can get. And that's enough to survive. For me, if there's any possible path to great art, this is it. Maybe others can overcome the allure of modern convenience, but I cannot. I must leave it all behind. ... Which brings me to this ODD TIMING. Just as I am learning to live with little, the whole world may soon be joining me. Odd, I think, in my odd mind.

So, as I learn to fish, and to live simply, and to create art, I tell everyone to not freak-out, to calm down, and don't worry yourself to death. Don't jump off any skyscrapers. ...We have our friends, we have family. In the long run, the encroaching global crisis, if fully realized, may serve to improve us and save us. We, as citizens of nations and of the planet, are learning lessons the hard way.

POSTSCRIPT :
I just noticed this video by fellow Texas and Libertarian Ron Paul... Helps explain things a bit more:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cast Away


I know it may sound ridiculous, but this is how I feel, and have felt, for much of my adult life: as if I've been cast away. And while the famous movie of the same name doesn't form a perfect metaphor, somehow it touches this most sore characteristic of my soul. You see, twice as a young man (once when 18 and once when 23) I had a girlfriend who I planned to marry, although things actually never got to the "engagement" period, technically. In each case, our love seemed strong and mutual, and in each case the girl was pretty and brainy. And then, again in each case, as our love seemed at its highest, and my imagination full of bliss, the end came with a simple conversation. Each girl gently and abruptly ended the entire thing, in a moment's flash. Stunning and devastating, in a moment's flash. Stunning and devastating, for my entire life.

After the second break-up, I feel ill FOR SIX WEEKS. It started within an hour of the break-up conversation, with vomiting and deep congestion, like the flu. And I was so weak I could barely stand or walk for several days, and I kept weeping involuntarily, over and over... ... I calculated, afterward, that I would not survive, physically, another such experience.

And so commenced a quarter century of haunted living. And I use that word carefully, HAUNTED. Unable to sleep, often, until the light of day reveals itself. Unable to communicate, or terrified to do so, and terrified to consider ANY friendship worthy of the risk. ... I even have a haunted home in my dreams, and when I say "home" I mean an actual structure, like someone's family home, except this one is completely fictional, or, that is, fictional in the sense that dreams are fictional. In my dreams, however, it seems utterly convincing, real. And what does this home look like? It looks like an immense old hotel, built snugly in some hills and at the edge of a busy little town. The hotel appears to be built in disjointed stages, over decades of time, with multiple-storied sections, and some sections following the steep edge of a hill. And the structure is so immense that it disappears upward around a hilly corner, into a blue-black mist. I have yet to explore the whole thing. In fact, most if it is a mystery to me. I've had many dreams in which I find myself back in the old thing, living there usually, finding more and more rooms and closets and stairways, hallways, all semi-lit, all semi-maintained, all completely frightful. These dreams are nightmares usually, and, usually, I REALIZE that it's a dream, that I'm back at the old hotel, my own personal family home, haunted and rotten and teeming with ghosts. And how do know there are ghosts? I SEE them, I hear them, feel them. ...Occasionally I find "real" people living there, and I wish them well as I hurriedly leave, or try to. Last year, I discovered that all my old friends from Orlando (in the real world) had moved into my dreamland haunted hotel. "What are you doing here?" I asked. "We've all moved in." "But it's haunted!" "Oh, don't be silly." A few months later, they all seemed to have left. I discovered this while I was walking in yet another dream, walking along a sidewalk, and came upon the old hotel. I walked around to the back, fascinated. I hadn't visited in a while. In the back, there's an old park-like area, with big trees and freely-living weeds, and then a forest and hills, all disappearing into that dark mist, and all virtually connected to the hotel, having grown into each other, I'd guess you'd say... the hotel crumbling, literally, plank by plank, out into the weeds and forest and up the hill, and the vegetation sprawling forcefully up, into, and over the structure. An old grain mill is back there too, attached by a breezeway to the hotel. Everything is abandoned. ... Then, in this dream, I look around, and I see three girls going into the back of the hotel, near the ruined mill. I follow them, and find that much of the hotel back there is ripped-out and torn-up. I ask the girls what they're doing here, and they said that they're college students and that they're renting a room. How comical! I laugh. I follow the girls to their room, but since the stairs have collapsed, and even some of the walls, we must CLIMB up along the edge. Basically, we're crawling over rubble, but then we're inside, me and the 3 girls, and we climb some more, this time up a few ladders, higher and deeper into the hotel. The sun glints through busted walls and roof sections, here and there, and I feel completely unafraid. When we arrive, I tell the girls, "Oh yes, this is my old room." "You used to live here?" "Of course. I own this whole place.... But I advise you to not go into the other rooms. I mean, I think everyone has left now, but, I'd hate for you to have a bad experience. It's hard to explain." "But we've already been through that one door, and out into that one long hallway." "Oh, my, I'd advise you to not do that, and to lock that door, and all other doors. I'm afraid to say it, but spirits live here." "Yes, we know." ... The girls moved-out the next day I think, to join everyone else who has abandoned my heart.

... I haven't visited in a while, but that old place, that old haunted hotel, still exists. It exists, and I can never really leave, because it is ME, my SOUL, and I suppose I should open the darkened doors and follow the long halls and climb the stairs and ladders, and explore the wretched thing. I do find it interesting.

Of course, other events and people have managed to further scar my heart over the years. My mother, while still supremely disappointed with me and my free-thinking ways and my troubled demeanor, died unexpectedly of heart failure when I was 27. I thought I had plenty of time to make her happy and proud, but no. Oddly, today, she might have become somewhat proud of me. She always wanted me to become an artist. At the time she died, I couldn't even draw... And I remember vividly, standing in the hospital room, with my weeping father and siblings behind me, and closing her eyes at the bequest of the ER doctor. "I'll do it," I said, with bizarre eagerness. I closed her eyes, her dry, cold eyes, as my eyes were dry and cold as well. Two weeks later, I left work, walked to my car, sat down into the seat, and found myself weeping for 15 minutes or so. I knew it was for her, and that was the one and only time, something I'm ashamed to admit, but something which is interesting to me as I view myself from afar. There's a key to my interior there.

And now it's April 2010. Remarkable. I'm still breathing. Still foolish. Still haunted. ...Terrified.

But back to Cast Away. I wrote down part of the epilogue speech, for it sums my thoughts right now:




"...So I made a rope, and I went up to the summit to hang myself...but I had to test it, you know, of course..."you know me'...And the weight of the log snapped the limb of the tree... I couldn't even kill myself, the way I wanted. I had power over nothing.

"...That's when this feeling came over me like a warm blanket. I knew, somehow, that I had to stay alive...somehow...I had to keep breathing...even though there was no reason to hope. And all my logic said that I would never see this place again."

"...So that's what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing...

"...And one day that logic was proven all wrong, because the tide came in, and gave me a sail... And now here I am. I'm back. In Memphis. Talking to you. I have ice in my glass...And I've lost her all over again... I'm so sad that I don't have Kelly, but I'm so grateful that she was with me on that island...

"...And I know what I have to do now... I gotta keep breathing. ...Because tomorrow the sun will rise... Who knows what the tide could bring."

Friday, April 23, 2010

I am no longer doing portraits

How do I explain this? I do not know. I am a portrait artist who can no longer do portraits. ...

My goodness...

Why does suffering need to be a part of artistry? Why difficulty? I know not. I only know that, fundamentally, my portraits are all wrong, despite the courtesy of clients and man, despite the successful garnering of meager acclaim. It's all wrong. Something is wrong.

In fact, recently, I had a portrait rejection. My first. How can this be? ... Well, it BE because, some time ago, my heart left the effort... left the effort of portraiture TO MY POCKETBOOK.

If you only do something for money, it quickly becomes mediocre, or never arises from mediocrity, to begin any possible path toward greatness.

Aah, the perils of the starving artist.

Suddenly, Shakespeare

I came across this sonnet tonight, after having not read (or EVER really appreciated) Shakespeare, and this sonnet STRUCK me with clarity and great force. I've long hoped for understanding of Shakespeare, or, really, I've long hoped that I would gather the forces of my self and LEARN Shakespeare and "get" it... Maybe this is a beginning...

Indeed, the permanent concerns of the human soul, or heart, are certainly permanent, or timeless... Ah, the considerations of felt being... of being itself.

( And I took the liberty of adding punctuation here, and parenthetical references..., punctuation which tells how I "hear" the sonnet, how I see it at this point... not necessarily how it is MEANT to be read... Maybe it'll help you... I don't know. But read this thing, read it carefully, slowly, and take the words deeply inward, if possible)... :


SONNET 29


When, in disgrace... with fortune (money) and (in) men's (society's) eyes,

I, all alone... beweep my outcast state
And (I) trouble "deaf Heaven" with my bootless (bare-footed? as in, poor) cries
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me, like... to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him (a successful and happy individual perhaps)... with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art, and (/or) that man's scope,

With what I most enjoy, (I am) contented least;
Yet in these thoughts... myself, almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark (of a bird) at break of day, arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd... such wealth brings
That then I scorn... to change my state with kings.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A variety of art this month...

A friend of mine LOVES the Florida Gators, and wanted an oil painting of their cartoon logo, but then he also said he wanted a basketball to be in the painting. I suggested I paint a basketball sitting on a court, and try to make it look like the logo was ON the ball. I'm happy with the result. 24" X 18" OIL ON CANVAS:


This is the continuation of that pump house mural:



Stencil I drew and then cut for an abandoned project:


Swimsuit model in oil on wood panel, just for kicks (or $40, whichever come first!). 24" X 20":


And a Florida panther in oil on wood panel. I still have this, and will part with it for 25 bucks! 24" X 11":

Finally... A Real Cruising Boat

Finally, I've obtained a real cruising sailboat, and it's all mine, with a clear title and no loans. All mine! It's a Watkins 27, with a 10-foot width (and 27-ft length), and goes by the name of Empty Pockets. Needs a lot of TLC, but the sails and rigging seem to be good. No motor, nor electronics, and it's been basically stripped otherwise, but it's HOME.




A view from the bed. Aaahh, pretty feet:



And the opposite view, near the little galley:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Art of the last few months



I'm using the library computer (but now I've come back and edited the images so that they're upright). ... That first one is my return to pastel. If anyone wants one, 75 bucks!
...

The next one here is an oil I did of some dear friends of mine. They wanted a ship's wheel AND their sailboat in the background. I'm not altogether satisfied at the result:









And here I am hard at work on an oil last Christmas. That black-n-white girl in the background is a charcoal on newsprint.


Latest oil:


And I'm doing murals, finally. Well, a few, for almost nothing. Here's my first, a swimming pool pump house:


And that's that for now. I'm in the process of losing my boat and simply moving into my van. Ouch. Very broke, be I. If anyone wants any art, let me know! lol




Thursday, January 21, 2010

Alive and living on Ramen

Howdy, everyone. I haven't updated my blog, or even been ONLINE at all, in nearly 6 months. I got stuck in Tampa last summer, and have been living on my sailboat, and doing lots of oil portraits, and now a pastel or two. Basically, I've been starving, living on noodles, but learning much about portrait technique. I'll post photos of everything soon, and give more details.