“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
Memento Mori is a Latin phrase meaning, more or less, “remember you’re going to die.” Though it’s been used since the 5th century to call into question the vanity of earthy life, and to realign focus on the Christian afterlife, I’m referring to it here in a different way, offering a different kind of immortality. To contemplate death for a best possible life here and now – remembering oblivion’s unavoidable approach and letting petty concerns fall away, choosing to be guided instead by desire and self-realization – all in order to live well and to gauge our realization of a fulfilling life by asking ourselves if we’d be willing to accept our own immortality, our own life relived for eternity by us without any changes. Asking this is daunting but also promising; we’re forced to face whatever boredom, lack, or horror has come before and to justify its return by affirming henceforth a life so fulfilling that no prior misfortune would scare us from saying yes to our own immortality.
“Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” -Gustave Flaubert
I don’t know how violent or original I am in my work but the above quote, along with the research I’ve recently done, has influenced my perspective on how best to structure my day. I’ve been spending some time learning about the routines of influential figures throughout history (mostly while myself procrastinating) and looking for anything consistent or novel among their daily rituals. I’ve held to various morning routines over the years but I’ve always felt that scheduling the day into predictable, consistent time chunks that don’t alter over months and years would result in just too draconian and boring a life. The sentiments of WIlliam James offered me an alternative perspective,
“The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work. There is no more miserable human being than one in Continue reading
“Even though white is often associated with things that are pleasant and pure, there is a peculiar emptiness about the color white. It is the emptiness of the white that is more disturbing than even the bloodiness of red.” -Herman Melville, Moby Dick
In July of 2013 I laid out 14 different types of white oil paint on the same surface, each adjacent to the other, in order to track what sorts of variations would take place over time. I’ve included typed notes next to each swatch that states the white’s brand, name, and oil content. These typed notes should help clarify the scribbling of my messy handwriting. Also, to be clear, I did not store the whites in the dark once I had applied them to the panel (total lack of light causes darkening and yellowing in all oil paints.) The panel was tacked to the wall and exposed to northern light, not darkness and not direct sunlight. I learned some interesting things within days and weeks of starting this experiment.
Lucia /chalk and pencil on toned paper/18×22″
I’ve had my studio here in Marshall, NC for over six years now. I had no illusion of this small town offering me exposure to larger galleries or wealthy collectors and neither of those hopes flourished to keep me here. What drew me to stay on in this small outpost north of Asheville was an environment conducive to merit. The low cost of living, the reprieve and revitalization of the mountain trails and swimming holes, the time for projects of importance, the community that values all these in the name of a life that isn’t slave to reaction; all this combines to allow for quality, the making of something, whether it be paintings or another art form, that is unrushed, cared for, and true to the makers vision. Continue reading
In this short video segment I summarize some of the guiding forces behind the compositions of my paintings. I’ve also included two images of drawings that represent some of these influences, most notably pentimenti. While involved in the very time consuming process of realizing my own paintings and the equally time consuming process of paying the bills with commission paintings I’ve decided to direct some energy into creating these multi figure drawings. Continue reading
“Keep death and exile daily before thine eyes, with all else that men deem terrible, but more especially Death. Then wilt thou never think a mean thought, nor covet anything beyond measure.” -Epictetus
About a year ago I posted a time-lapse video consisting of a hundred skulls being painted, each measuring 4×5″. Since then I’ve painted about a hundred more and put together a show of them in Asheville. The title I gave the show was Catacombs, and the location I chose was Izzy’s, a small narrow dark cafe resounding with moody instrumental music.
“Because of the envious nature of men, it has always been no less dangerous to find new methods and institutions than to look for unknown seas and lands, since men are readier to blame than to praise the actions of others. Nevertheless […] although it may be irksome and difficult, it can also bring me a reward from those who are kind enough to keep in mind the goal of these labors of mine. And if my poor intellect, my slight experience of current affairs, and my feeble knowledge of ancient ones make this attempt of mine imperfect and of little use, it will at least show the way to someone with more ability and a greater capacity for analysis and judgment, who can carry out this intention of mine, which, although it may not bring me praise, should not earn me blame.” –Machiavelli, The Discourses
On Sundays I plant myself in Izzy’s café with an assortment of books. As I read I mine for anything useful. I mine through books mostly of philosophy and theory, underlining, noting, and trying to gauge the value of each new find, trying not to forget the majority of everything as time passes. Even if I leave it at that, making no further attempt to organize the bulk of it all, I come away feeling stirred and inspired. If I put a little more time in the following evening and try to compile the various pieces, try to form a new coherent whole that lends my own work strength, I grow more inspired and confident, witnessing my own literary golem begin to emerge, taking up my cause with its mismatched parts sourced from various pages. Ergo my plan, to carefully over time puzzle together an outlook and position increasingly supportive of my own aesthetic.
In the near future I’ll try and put together some writing to go with this entry, for now here is a video! I’ve also added new images of each skull painting, viewable in the gallery menu above.
An excerpt from popular culture:
“I understand now that boundaries between noise and sound are conventions. All boundaries are conventions waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention, if only one can first conceive of doing so… My life extends far beyond the limitations of me.” -Cloud Atlas David Mitchell
A jump back to 1872:
“…Does anyone say that the red clover has no reproductive system because the humble bee (and the humble bee only) must aid and abet it before it can reproduce? No one. The humble bee is a part of the reproductive system of the clover. Each one of ourselves has sprung from minute animalcules whose entity was entirely distinct from our own, and which acted after their kind with no thought or heed of what we might think about it. These little creatures are part of our own reproductive system; then why not we part of that of the machines? But the machines which reproduce machinery do not reproduce machines after their own kind. A thimble may be made by machinery, but it was not made by, neither will it ever make, a thimble. Here, again, if we turn to nature we shall find abundance of analogies which will teach us that a reproductive system may be in full force without the thing produced being of the same kind as that which produced it.”
-The Book of Machines, Samuel Butler
“It was therefore fated that philosophy degenerate as it developed through history, that it turn against itself and be taken in by its own mask. Instead of linking an active life and affirmative thinking, thought gives itself the task of judging life, opposing to it supposedly higher values, measuring it against these values, restricting and condemning it.
And at the same time that thought thus becomes negative, life depreciates, ceases to be active, is reduced to its weakest forms, to sickly forms that are alone compatible with the so-called higher values. It is the triumph of “reaction” over active life and of negation over affirmative thought. The consequences for philosophy are dire, for the virtues of the Continue reading