Never Bored with the Boards

Bridge Yellow

It was one hell of a busy summer. I finished a novel and gave up on another one (for now, anyway). I put together a game and marketing plan for the world’s first free daily serialized coffee break novel (seriously, Google it). The novel is currently running on my parallel blog, The Weekly Man.

I also, visited Fundy Park for the first time with my bestie, Stephanie, and will definitely be going back. I discovered a lake I’d been wanting to see for years along with my friend, Nanook of the Nashwaak.

I also put together my first solo exhibition featuring my macro photography and board drawings. I did 37 boards last winter and lost over 20 pounds. They were addicting to the point that I would start right in on them as soon as I got home from work and forget abut things like eating and making a lunch for the next day.

I did the actual drawing at home but took the boards into the studio to paint and varnish them.

This is what they looked like in the studio:

And this is what they look like hanging up:


I’ve visited the studios of many of my artist friends and it always fascinates me to see their works in progress and then see them on display with all the messiness of creation left behind. I think this is what many skeptics fail to see when they look at a painting and say something stupid like, “A few dollars for paper and a few dollars for paint…and you sell it for ten times what it’s worth.”


I hate these people with a passion. I’d like them all to work for me for free for one year. You know, doing whatever they’re good at and not being paid for it. Or being paid a couple of dollars an hour. On the other hand, these are most likely to be people who don’t do so well on their jobs because they’re not smart and they talk too much. Maybe I don’t want them working for me and just messing everything up.

So, with that aside put aside, seeing the work in progress gives you a true sense of the intense focus and commitment that goes into creating art. I’ve seen artists on the verge of collapsing from hunger and fatigue because they had a deadline for an exhibition and they’ve gone for days without sleep and they’ve survived on coffee and air.

And this isn’t always a matter of the artists not preparing properly. Often, it’s because the gallery or other venue has changed the rules, the dates, the physical venue or whatever. Or, preparing for the exhibit leads the artist into new areas and the temptation to add some of the new stuff to the exhibit. Fortunately, most galleries don’t allow this, or there’d be a lot more crazy artists jumping out of windows and off bridges.

For me, working on the boards was one of the most fulfilling and mystical experiences of my life. I believe that where there was life, there will always be life. Life is energy and wherever that energy has existed, there will always be some remnant of it…like when you cut down a tree, the tree’s life energy doesn’t just disappear…patches of it inundate the wood like shadows of the tree’s memories, and you can feel that energy in the boards even after they’re cut into useable sizes from the tree.

Before I start drawing on the board, I spend some time getting a feel for its life energy, and that’s what directs the tip of my gel pen to bring out the board’s story.

And the stories are never boring.


(BTW, the image at the top of the screen is one of the photos in the exhibit.)









Searching for Peace (a matter of energy)

Purple Butterfly

“Hey Biff,” said the fox. “Can we get out of this place? Kinda hot here in Texas. And they have a lot guns. Why do they need all those guns, Biff?”

“To protect themselves from themselves, fox,” I said.

“That doesn’t make any sense, Biff,” said the fox.

“You’re right, fox,” I said. “It doesn’t make any sense at all.”

“So, where to now?” said the fox.

“Not sure,” I said. “Maybe we should ask the worry stone.”

“I don’t think the worry stone is speaking to either of us, Biff,” said the fox. “Ever again.”

“Probably not,” I said. “How about some all-the-energy-in-the-world, fox?”

“What’s all the energy in the world, Biff?” said the fox.

“Well, you know how everything is energy, right?” I said.

“Right,” said the fox.

“OK,” I said. “We open ourselves to all the energy in the world…the peaks, the valleys, the good, the bad…everything, without thinking about it…just letting the energy enter us and take us wherever to see whatever whenever it feels like it.”

“Mindless energy, Biff?” said the fox.

“Would it be anything else?” I said.

“Go for it, Biff,” said the fox.

So, I opened myself to all the energy in the world and believe me, that’s a lot of energy, and I was hoping that I wouldn’t be blowing any fuses or shorting any circuits or spontaneously combusting because that would be a crummy way to start a new year.

It was a really weird sensation…and kind of personal. I mean, you have to give the entire world access to everything you are and trust that the world won’t get nasty and tear you apart from the inside, starting with your soul.

And look at the world I was letting in.

At first, it felt like something nudging lightly at the membrane of my being. I have no idea what I mean by that, but that’s what it felt like and this is my blog so I’m leaving it at that. Then I felt little footsteps tiptoeing into my head and into my eyes, nose and ears and the tiptoeing turned into marching and the marching turned into stomping and the stomping turned into thunder and rain and snow and heat waves and it became a tsunami of pure energy tearing through every cell in my body. I was on the verge of saying fuck this when the tsunami abated and I felt this great settling…a stillness that could calm the boil of Victoria Falls. It was sort of like an acid trip from back in my hippie days.

Let me tell you about that.

Christmas was a few days away and my roommates (the craziest gang of misfits I’ve ever shared a Kraft Dinner pot with) had gone home to do the family thing. I was alone and decided it was a good time to clean out the drawers in my desk and see that was in them these days. I found pens, a couple of roaches, a roach clip, a book I thought I’d lost, a condom with an illegible phone number written on it…a few other things I can’t remember, but what caught my attention was a tiny translucent square, like the kind of plastic bits that fall off new stuff when you finally manage to detach them from those impossible plastic structures that hold the stuff together for no apparent reason than to drive us crazy when all we want is the stuff and not have to take a course in mechanical engineering to get to it. Fortunately, this piece of plastic-looking thingy wasn’t anything like that.

Now, back in those days when I was an unwashed dirty hippie with hair down to my ass, there was a type of acid called Clear Light. It came in a little translucent square. It was a heavy hitting trip that could put you on another planet somewhere inside another planet revolving around a sun within a sun. Something like that.

I rolled about ten menthol cigarettes and made some coffee, put on a Doors album and settled in for suns within suns. It took about half an hour before that familiar feeling of lightheadedness arrived and the fire in my cigarette started glowing brightly. I sipped some coffee and sank deeper into the armchair with a big happy smile on my face. We had a black light poster of Jesus hanging on the wall. When we turned the black light on, his eyes glowed and looked right into your soul, especially when we were on acid. We talked for a bit…not sure about what, but I’m guessing it was good stuff.

I think it must have been about an hour into the trip when I noticed that my right arm was acting weird. It was sinking into the arm of the chair. I thought: This is interesting. I looked at my left arm. It was sinking into the chair as well. Cool, I thought. And then my body started sinking into the chair so that soon, I couldn’t tell where my body and where the chair stopped being body and chair until I was the chair and the chair was me. You kind of had to be there.

I, the chair and chair and I (had to be there) looked around at the room and noticed that we were sinking into the floors and walls and ceiling. I’m not sure how long it took, but suddenly I couldn’t distinguish between myself and the room. This led to one of those life-changing thoughts…you know…the ones that, once you know something, it’s there forever…you can’t get away from it because it’s always right there staring down everything you try to think against it. This was my thought:

Martin Heidegger, you sweet existential visionary…you were right. We’re all one big happy smile.

“I’d like to do acid sometime, Biff,” said the fox. “Just to see what it’s like.”

“Fox,” I said. “You don’t ever have to do acid. You’re already there.”

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing, Biff?” said the fox.

“A good thing, fox. A good thing,” I said.

So…back to letting all the energy in the world into me.

It was a stillness like the kiss of a butterfly that settled along the plains of my existence right up to the borders of everything I was and would ever be. It was like morning light seeping through the cracks of infinity…

“Hey, Biff,” said the fox. “Getting a bit maudlin, aren’t we?”

“Sorry ‘bout that, fox,” I said. “Let’s try this…”

It was a slow ebb and flow, like my entire body was shifting in slow motion at different speeds of slow. Maybe like tectonic plates moving across…

“Biff!” said the fox.

(To be continued. When the blogger is feeling less maudlin.)

“What are you smiling at, fox?” I said.

“Can’t picture you with hair down to your ass, Biff”