26 May 2016

Repurposed

When I began creating tableaux and then photographing them with my iPhone a couple of years ago, I naturally sought out whatever props I thought would be of use.  Early on, I settled on a piece of woodworking I'd done years ago.  Its configuration and sharp angles put me in mind of a tortured tree, one of the sort I imagined was used by Judas Iscariot. The Christian Bible says he ended his life with a length of rope after suffering remorse for facilitating the arrest of Jesus by the Romans, so the piece also symbolizes Judas' own dark night of the soul.  

The title refers to the place where the Bible says Judas' remains were buried:

Potter's Field
iPhone/Pix
2014

Just as a theological sidelight, I've long found it curious that Judas's name has been blackened for all time, ironically, for helping Jesus fulfill his destiny.  If not for Judas, then what?

25 May 2016

Into the Inky Abyss

I was talking with another artist recently about his work as a cartoonist and illustrator of graphic novels.  There is the strong element of science fiction and the fantastical in his work, so I asked if he'd been influenced by the late H. R. Giger.

"He's my godfather," came the almost-reverent response.

I thought this might be a good time to introduce you to this remarkable Swiss artist, if you aren't familiar with him or let you take another look if you are.




Though Giger's name may be unknown to you, if you saw the sci-fi classic Alien, then you'll recognize him as the creative force behind the Grand Guignol sets and unforgettable monster that made life a bit uncomfortable for Sigourney Weaver and her crewmates aboard the Nostromo.




I first came across Giger years before the 1979 Ridley Scott movie.  I had seen his work in Playboy and as part of his first major -- and best-known published work -- The Necronomicon.




Giger is certainly not for every taste.  His work is edgy, dark and often uncomfortable, exploring regions of the subconscious most of us never access.  But there is little doubt that he is a unique artist and a master of his craft.

I appreciate that.  In small doses.

For those who want a closer look at Giger and his world, there is a fascinating documentary available on Netflix.




If you savor a good thrill, then you need to join these readers in picking up a copy of brother Jim's chilling tale of horror:


"This novel picks you up by the scruff of your neck and doesn't let you go until the final pages!" VB, London 


"I found myself not being able to put the book down...it just got better and better!"  LS, Arizona


"Intriguing...kept you wanting more." JS, Illinois








24 May 2016

Orient Expressed

I have long been attracted to and influenced by the Japanese aesthetic -- best expressed through Zen calligraphy, sumi-e, bonsai, ikebana and raku pottery.  What appeals most is that the best of each of these art forms captures the essential spirit of its subject with neither ostentation nor self-consciousness. 

 I hope these three paintings, all focusing on pottery pieces, achieve that.

The first is of a Japanese teapot:

Kyusu
Acrylic on canvas
2012

Next, I tried my hand on two tea bowls:

Raku Ni
Acrylic on canvas
2012


Raku Ichi
Acrylic on canvas
2013

I have several other pieces that focus on Japanese and Zen themes.  I will feature more in future posts.



It's time for you to order brother Jim's exciting thriller!

"I found myself not being able to put the book down!"  LS, Arizona

"I read three chapters and was completely gripped!"  VB, London 














23 May 2016

Through the Lens

Among the finest documentarians working today is Errol Morris, who's built an impressive career with films such as The Thin Blue Line, Gates of Heaven and the Oscar-winning The Fog of War:  Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara.


He's delved into many interesting and controversial areas through the years.  In this short piece, he focuses on a subject I'll be you haven't thought about in a very long time, if ever.


"An old-fashioned thriller."  Featured Kirkus Review

And a damned good one.  Find out for yourself.

"It maps the tortures of the human soul in a completely unexpected and shocking way.  Read it!" CE, Illinois


22 May 2016

Tangled Up in Blues

Many of my drawings and paintings reflect a love of music, especially jazz and blues.  I've mentioned this before in posting some pieces.  Today, I thought it might be enjoyable to not only spotlight the artwork but the music, too.  Thanks to YouTube, it's easy to do.

Let's begin with Billie Holiday:


Billie
Acrylic on canvas
2015

Nicknamed "Lady Day," she is considered by many the greatest of all female jazz singers.  I agree.  Here is one song, Good Morning Heartachethat may convince you, too.


A female singer of a very different sort was Koko Taylor, often dubbed the "Queen of Chicago Blues":

 
Wang Dang Doodle
Charcoal on paper
2011


She is rough and ready, a barrelhouse belter of the first order.  I love her.  Here's a performance of her signature song -- the one that lent its name to the drawing's title -- along with the man who wrote it, Willie Dixon, from 1989.  Get ready to boogie!


"I read three chapters and was completely gripped!"  VB, London

Readers everywhere love brother Jim's new thriller!

"I found myself not being able to put the book down...it just got better and better!"  LS, Arizona

Time to find out for yourself!

 "Fantastic book, right up there with Dean Koontz!"  JS, Illinois









21 May 2016

Drawing the Line

How about a little shot of humor with the morning coffee?

I'll let the New Yorker's  superbly talented cartoonists do the heavy lifting.


It's the one readers are buzzing about . . . 


"An old-fashioned thriller."  Featured Kirkus Review

"I found myself not being able to put the book down...it just got better and better!"  LS, Arizona

"This novel picks you up by the scruff of your neck and doesn't let you go until the final pages!" VB, London 























20 May 2016

Hold the Phone

A couple of years ago, I began fooling around with my iPhone, trying to come up with simply staged tableaux that I would photograph, process and creatively title.


One of my earliest efforts utilized a wood carving of an elongated African warrior, a la Giacometti:


Sunset, Serengeti Plain
iPhone
2014
It was accomplished on top of a dresser with light cast by a small, decorative lamp.  I processed with Pix.  The title suggested itself after running the the image through a filter or two.

In the case below, the setting was the lobby of the Prudential Center in Chicago.  It was the middle of the night with the only illumination provided by the lighting fixtures near the ceiling between two banks of elevators.  Standing below, taking stock of the geometrics and how the lines radiated, it suggested a large space craft.   Again, processed with Pix:


Mother Ship
iPhone
2014

Finally, another in a series of photo setups involving shadow play on a wall in my home. For this, I used a ceramic black panther -- long and sleek -- in a posture of prowling with his mouth open  I set him up on a table behind a small plant and shot the shadow through the leaves with, as I recall, minimal processing.  In most of these iPhone photographs, I was trying to conjure time and place, hence the title.


Big Cat, Guatemala 1956

Brother Jim's new thriller has readers staying up late!



"I found myself not being able to put the book down...it just got better and better!" (5 stars)  LS, Arizona


"Intriguing...kept you wanting more." JS, Illinois


"I read three chapters and was completely gripped!" (5 stars)  VB, London





















19 May 2016

You Draw, Girl!

Graphic novels and comic strips may be mostly male preserves, but that doesn't mean women haven't taken up the pen and made their own mark through the years.  

This brief look should whet your appetite.

Camilla
Marcia Snyder
1954



"This novel picks you up by the scruff of your neck and doesn't let you go." VB, London

Read brother Jim's debut thriller . . . but leave the lights on!

"It maps the tortures of the human soul in a completely unexpected and shocking way.  Read it!" CE, Illinois
















18 May 2016

Men of Letters

Among the  writers I admire are Albert Camus, Joseph Conrad and Nikos Kazantzakis. When I began drawing the artists who've influenced me, it was quite natural that I would select them as subjects.  

First, Camus, an Algerian by birth.  I count among his greatest works The Stranger, The Plague and The Myth of Sisyphus:
L'Algerien
Graphite on paper
2009

Next came Conrad, whose prose (in english, his second language) is unparalleled.  Among his most celebrated works are:  Typhoon, Lord Jim, The Nigger of the Narcissus and Heart of Darkness, as well as the short story from which I borrowed the title for this piece:


The Secret Sharer
Graphite on paper
2009

Finally, Kazantzakis, the author of such classics as The Last Temptation of Christ (for which in an act of utter stupidity he was excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox Church) and the immortal Zorba, the Greek:


The Last Temptation
Graphite on paper
2010
In each case, their faces are only partially visible.  Such is the revelation -- and the drama -- of the composition. To understand them fully is to read them.  I hope you will.



"It maps the tortures of the human soul in a completely unexpected and shocking way.  Read it!" CE, Illinois

Readers are raving about brother Jim's novel of mystery and terror:



"This novel picks you up by the scruff of your neck and doesn't let you go until the final pages!" VB, London 

















17 May 2016

He's No de Medici

As the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, it is worth reflecting on Donald Trump's involvement with and appreciation of the arts.  It's not a picture that engenders hope.

Trump Tower
Andy Warhol
1981
"Trump’s name—not to mention his physical presence—is an unfamiliar sight in the city’s (New York's) major cultural institutions." 


Five-star reviews for brother Jim's new thriller:

"It takes hold from the first page and won't let go."  CE, Illinois

 "I found myself not being able to put the book down...it just got better and better!"  LS, Arizona

"I read three chapters and was completely gripped."  VB, London