08 March 2023

Sea of Trees: Letters to My Brother



Sea of Trees: Letters to My Brother, No. 1–10 (Set I)
mixed media on paper, 2022
24" x 30"

One year.
For every word I am unable to find, for every sentence I am unable to construct, for every emotion I am unable to articulate, there is a brushstroke for it.  A mark.  A dab.  A speck.  A scribble.  A color.  Some are executed with a heavy hand, others are rendered more lightly: impressions made by the conscious and subconscious states; letters formed from the hollows and depths of life, its bends and folds; visuals of the feelings that exist, yet go unseen, unspoken.
You are here and a part of me always.
Love you forever, Brother. 

31 December 2022

The Absent

Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic NP (October 2022)

I have been absent for most of this year, however one would define it.  
Absent from others, absent from my practice, absent from my mind, absent from living.  
I look back on the last nine months and all I see is absence.  
The most painful absence being that of my brother's.
I lost my brother in March.
Since then, I haven't been able to move through this world quite the same.
I haven't felt the same.  
How precarious it all is.   

I am coping.  I am writing.  I am learning how to breathe in the sweet air again.
'Til then, I leave 2022 with this: 

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”
Thank you, Jamie Anderson, for articulating so eloquently the murmurs of this here heart.


22 February 2022

2.22.22 Note for Two

A favorite scribble from about a week ago.  
They've bloomed magically in the days since.

Your painter, 

31 December 2021

The Whole of 2021

In no particular order:

Clocked 838.9 active (running/hiking) miles (vs last year's 735.2).  Started bouldering.  Moments that seemed strangely surreal.  Monarchs.  More bouldering.  Coyote friend on the trail in the morn.  New Mexico twilight.  This year's reads.  Slow work.  Autumn.  Annual October road trip (ten days, six SW states, approximately 3200 miles; separate post to follow).  White Sands, Alamagordo.  Pumpkin.  Sunrise at Mather Point Overlook.  Trail work ahead (life application).

The visuals of 2021, a year that came and went far too quickly.

Love & Light, 

Pollock & Nougats



The memories I have of the Anderson Collection span nearly a decade and are many.  

As I wove through the galleries again this past November, the poignancy of a life dedicated to art-making reverberated from wall to wall--filling internal caverns with what only could be described as understanding and absolution.  I had been wracked with guilt for a long period, ignoring the pleas of my once feverish discipline to push ahead and continue with the work I was set to do.  Questions lingered: to where had my expression disappeared?  From what source had the overwhelming air of stagnancy come?  

While wrestling with these thoughts, I pressed upon myself to recognize life in its unadulterated form once more: the abstract, yet beautiful world of two- and three-dimensional bodies occupied by intention and meaning.  Revisiting works from Pollock, de Kooning, Diebenkorn, Jay Defeo, Wayne Thiebaud and Nathan Oliveira (among others) provided my noisy mind with a quiet parallel.  That afternoon, I ended up unpacking the past--one painting at a time, from one to another.  


The Relationships We Have



Consider the relationships our lives are comprised of and by which they are formed.  
Familial, romantic, and platonic are terms to differentiate the types of direct connections within our human group.  Outside of these, there are the spiritual and political.   Less obvious are the relationships we have with our careers, passions, vices, physical bodies, conscience, and thoughts.
How does the nature of each relationship reflect behavior?  How does it inform our sense of self?  How does it lend to the purpose of life as well as our purpose in life?  

Is it possible to separate ourselves and our relationships from the carnal, the visceral, the flesh, the intellect?  That is, can a relationship exist independent of its associations (inherent or otherwise)?  Is it futile to search for a relationship that does not feed from expectation nor carries out like a well-structured syllabus?  A relationship that exists in this sphere because it does--because to exist is enough?

To exist should be enough, but it is not.  It hardly ever is, or seems to be, enough.  
There is a yearning that persists.  An active curiosity that pulsates loudly.  It leaves me questioning the  "realities" that are apparent, and it makes living feel like a horrible chore.  Gradually, I feel less and less human, dissolved from a world where relationships of any form have to demonstrate a certain level of return and equity to qualify as valuable. 

I wonder this: can love exist outside of a shared connection between two entities?  Can love live on its own?  
If it is possible, then surely it is proof that to exist is, in and of itself, enough. 

My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 
 -1 John 3:18
(Entry written on September 11, 2021) 

02 May 2021

Songs of Our Past

2021, oil on canvas
36" x 48"
(aspects 1 & 2)
Somewhere in this broken and disconnected world is a fellow human who is lost and searching for answers.  One who is in need of assurance, encouragement, and strength: assurance that his life holds meaning; encouragement to carve his own path; strength to break free from society's mold.

This is for you.

May you know life deeply.


A Search for

"More and more he will be governed by what others want him to do, thus increasingly falling prey to conformism."  -Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
* * *
Is permanence possible, and can it take form, in a transitory existence?  Most will argue no.  I am convinced otherwise.  While elusive, permanence does exist, but it is only present in the deepest recess of the human experience: the state of assured meaning——that is, purpose.  
To know our purpose in life——to pursue meaningful work in spite of its hardships and suffering——is to have permanence in an ever changing landscape.  It is what courses through our finite bodies to move us beyond ourselves.  With this knowledge, we are bound to a higher something.  As a result, our fleeting condition is given a permanence that transcends time and space.
I met my purpose many autumns ago.  Yet, I spent the greater portion of the last two years attempting to trade in its very truth for a life of practicality, for that which is considered conventional and socially acceptable for a thirty-something-year-old.  

There is an insidious nature to conformity.  As someone who is much too stubborn and headstrong, it seemed my purpose and values were safe from the impact of external noise.  It was not until my desire for meaning over financial security was being challenged consistently that I found myself confronted with doubts——doubts that started off inconspicuously small, but gradually grew to an obstructive size.  Critics purported my work as a painter was impractical and short of prestige.  Instead, they insisted on the importance of what I had long deemed empty and vapid: monetary accrual, socioeconomic status, and running in the "right" circles.
Unfortunately, over time, I——as well as my work——became affected by the unsolicited advice.
This wolf, a stealthy predator, had found its way into the sheep pen. 
 * * *

Society's ill-fitted, one-size-for-all ideology pressures us to renounce dissenting behavior and harms the outliers who swim against the current——the individuals who consciously choose meaning over a life of material stature.  At birth, we are handed a timeline for the milestones that must be reached at each age.  To stray from it is to subject oneself to continual scrutiny and shame.
For the past two years, I have struggled to drown out the voices of the naysayers, of those determined to kill the better part of me——the only part of me I have ever known to be true.  I lost several battles in the process and suffered a high degree of debilitation.  However, as I learned from Viktor E. Frankl, meaning is found in suffering, too.
* * *

It was a Friday in early October.  The year was 2010.  I was twenty-six, and it was my birthday.  The highly anticipated exhibition, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay, which I waited well over a year to see, was finally open to the public.  I spent that afternoon with Vincent at the de Young.  
Seven of Vincent's paintings were on display.  I must have stood in front of Bedroom at Arles (1889) for an hour.  Seeing his actual brushstrokes from 120 years ago in person was an experience I would not soon forget.  I was intent on taking in every minute detail.  What were you feeling when you painted your bedroom, Vincent?  I imagined him sitting on his bed, turning his head towards the window and peering out into the world.  I thought about him suffering for his purpose, for the very thing of which he was so certain, but which many mistook for far less.  And I remember standing there, a mere few feet from his painting, sharing an internal conversation with a man who lived and died a century before I was even born——the full impact of its resonance bringing me to tears. 
* * *
How can anything be permanent when we are living in a constant state of impermanence?  How do I reconcile practicality and expectations with meaning and the responsibility of fulfilling a purpose so few understand?  I am not sure.  Answers come and go for me.  Yet, amid the uncertainty, I do know this much: poorer my life would be without art and its enriching experiences, and poorer this world would be had Vincent ignored his life's calling——had he listened to his critics, taken the practical path, and done what was easier. 

There is a reason painting cuts me as deep as it does and why the need to continue painting is unrelenting: it is both the means and the end to my existence.  Painting is the vehicle by which I can reach and serve others——those who are yearning for resonance and connection, those who are searching for the greater meaning in their own lives.  Sharing hope, even the smallest grain of it, with my fellow humans has been the driving force behind this impractical journey from the very beginning.  It is what gives my days meaning, and it is what provides a sense of permanence in a world that is ever fleeting.


31 December 2020

The Search for 2020

Photos from a year I had mistaken to be lost, but eventually found in the simple, unconfounded tones of everyday life.

Sending infinite love and light to all . . .