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Showing posts from March, 2011

Spring Joy

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After weeks of rain, the sun appears over San Francisco.  This week I met a friend on Columbus Avenue in North Beach for a long, leisurely lunch. He was new to the city. We traded stories of how we got here and how it's different from the places we came from.  It was a perfect day to watch the city go by. Columbus Avenue always moves, but at a slow pace. Pretty women walk by. Aspiring novelists type away at their computers in a cloud of espresso steam. We had the luxury of time, which is exceedingly rare for me. Normally, my day starts running and ends running.  My friend's pleasant conversation reminded me of another warm afternoon in Philadelphia, the summer after I finished art school. My roommate went away to a summer house-sitting gig, so our apartment was quiet as a tomb. My girlfriend had just dumped me, most of my friends left town for the season, and I felt confused about what I should do next. I decided to stay put, work my job, and paint some pictures. I'd

Recent Reading

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I can't stop reading; I wonder if that might be a good idea. No matter, I can't stop, anymore than a hopeless drug addict can seriously consider life without drugs. I want to pass on some snippets of the current reading, which might interest you. While I have my own ideas on these subjects, I'll withhold them this time. Below is a tray of literary appetizers . Art is order. But order is not necessarily just, kind, or beautiful. Order may be arbitrary, harsh, and cruel. Art has nothing to do with morality. . . Only utopian liberals could be surprised that the Nazis were art connoseurs. Particularly in modern times, when high art has been shoved to the periphery of culture, is it evident that art is aggressive and compulsive. The artist makes art not to save humankind but to save himself. Every benevolent remark by an artist is a fog to cover his tracks, the bloody trail of his assault against reality and others. Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae The central enigma of Hit

Approaching Storm

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I mean an actual storm. News from this web site: 1. Poster News: I'm sending a new print order out, so delivery on posters will be delayed. You will get one eventually, and they're free, so chill out. 2. New readers, please send your thoughts in the comments or email me. I'm interested in what you like, dislike, or would like to see in this space. In my current, never-ending painting project I'm still trying to get a grip on painting water. This is easily the hardest part of the composition for me, and I must nail it. I've made progress over the last seven months, but I'm not quite over the goal line.  I've looked at water in every way I can think of, from painting it in a cup to copying sections of Old Masters. I've studied it from land, boats and airplanes.  Right now I'm looking at video loops I shot last summer. Water's surface being complex and moving every second, a photograph doesn't capture the effect I'm after. Therefor

The Power of Less

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I have written before about the power of environment and breaking free from possession s . Many people never get around to discovering this, and I'm astounded at the enormous opportunity they miss.  Hello Al, is my letter to you in one of these piles? One of my first lessons in this discipline occurred during a hot Texas summer, when I was 21. I visited a married couple in Austin and stayed a night in their small house. My hostess Akiko directed me to their guest room, which consisted of a bare floor with a futon folded against the wall, to make a low couch. Beside the futon was a metal cylinder that might have been designed to hold umbrellas. Akiko filled it with dead tree branches, reaching up to head level. On one of the branches, she clipped an xray image of her chest. I thought, "This room is hot and it could be oppressive, but Akiko has made it delicious, like a firm piece of fruit." This week I read Leo Babauta's helpful book, The Power of Less . Babauta g

Liars' Olympics

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I'm still trying to grow up, to understand more of the world. In intellectual terms, growing up = destruction. I started life with ideas about how the world works. Then I found out my ideas were, almost invariably, wrong. Experience charged into my head like a bulldozer, destroying my ideas and replacing them with facts. I thought honesty and openness were the best—the only moral—way to deal with others. This idea appealed to me because I'm lazy and I have a simple mind. It is, however, completely wrong. Deception is essential in human relationships, and people who pretend otherwise are often the worst deceivers of all.  Robert Greene explains the value of deception in his book,  The 48 Laws of Power: Power requires the ability to play with appearances. To this end you must learn to wear many masks and keep a bag full of deceptive tricks. Deception and masquerade should not be seen as ugly or immoral. All human interaction requires deception on many levels, and in some