Title Pending: Dry Seasons

It is likely that, if you’ve been making art for a while, you have felt the seasons change but might not have had the language or permission to see that seasonal change for what it was. It may have felt like things had simply dried up—that rain wasn’t falling and the ground was hard. Everything took ten times the effort and even when your efforts did bear fruit, that fruit was sour. Certainly, it is ...

Title Pending: Keep It To Yourself

When I’m at the beginning of a project, I generally let just one or two people into my process and share my vision, or at least as much of it as I have clearly in mind. They are people who will hold me to the work I’ve committed to rather than just pat me on the back for coming up with the idea. They are people who will also say, “What’s your plan? How are you ...

Title Pending: You Are Always Beginning

The hike to the top of Mt. Diablo is roughly seven and a half miles. And though I know that cognitively, I don’t climb the mountain with that number in mind - I climb it in sections. The first two miles are relatively easy, with a few short hills and plenty of flat ground between. When I finish that first sec- tion, I know that the next two miles are much more difficult. The grade ...

Weights15 Jan 2015

Title Pending: Translation

The grease board listed, in red and blue dry-erase marker, all the movements, reps and weights involved in the day's workout. I was familiar with everything on the board... with the exception of one word. I'd never seen it before in this context. So, I went ahead and took a radical step... I asked what it meant. The instructor looked at me quizzically and responded "Are you sure you should be in this class?" "I'd like ...

Title Pending: Details

At the very end of Pearl Jam’s hit song “Daughter,” the drum track delicately vanishes, the bass track disappears and Vedder’s signature vocals are long gone. All that remains are two guitar parts, playing single-note patterns... and a beat. But the beat isn’t played on a drum kit. Nor is it played on a djem- be or congas. Instead, drummer Dave Abbruzzese is playing the beat on his lap. What was a high hat, kick ...

Title Pending: Study A Master

My wife studied studio art in college. And as part of her coursework, she spent a good chunk of time not only looking at but re-painting or re-sculpting pieces by master artists. On the wall near my desk is Amy’s study of Wayne Thiebaud’s “Black Shoes.” I find Thiebaud’s original piece particularly remarkable because the artist painted black shoes, with black laces on a black background—without using black paint. Instead, Thiebaud employs varying shades of ...

author21 Jan 2015

Upon The Dawning of a New Year and Turning 41

I'm not someone who worries about my age. I worry more about the Raiders and A's than I do how old I am. That said, I have spent the past three months on Sabbatical, looking backward at the first forty years of my life and wondering/dreaming about what's next. Author Richard Rohr, in his book Falling Upward, suggests that the questions we ask during the first half of life are designed to build a sense of personal identity. Identity is ...

Title Pending: Inspiration Fizzles

Inspiration generally gets me to the foot of the mountain. But once I’m there, inspiration often fizzles because the mountain doesn’t look like the mountain anymore. It looks like a steep hill and lots of short steps carrying a cheese-ob- sessed toddler on my back. It looks like a spreadsheet or a blank page instead of a finished book. It looks like cliché and bad transitions instead of a song. In short, it looks like ...

Title Pending: Are You A Sellout?

It is easy to romanticize the image of the “starving artist.” But there is no intrinsic value in failure. Just as there is no intrinsic anathema in success. If you choose to sell what you make, then for the sake of all things worth swearing by, don’t believe for a minute that doing so makes you a sellout. Some art sells. Some doesn’t. Making art with a broad appeal is an art-form in and of ...

weakness20 Nov 2014

Title Pending: What To Do With Criticism and Weakness

If you are anything like me, you won’t have to work very hard to remember negative remarks - they tend to stick to the lesser and weaker parts of my psyche like barnacles. And while I try not to allow negative feedback to derail me, I also think its a bad policy to simply ignore it. Sometimes I need to know that what I’m doing isn’t connecting, and negative feedback is one way (just one, mind you) ...