I didn’t think I would simultaneously be able to work on my book and a painting at the same time, but that’s what I’ve been doing this past week or so. I’m a regular multitasker, even though I don’t really believe in such things. Who knew?


I probably haven’t mentioned that my memoir, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley, has 77 chapters. No, I wouldn’t mention that, would I? That’s just sounds so excessive. I haven’t wanted to bring that up before because it sounds like it’s a lot, doesn’t it? Well let me just tell you that Post Office has 100 or so chapters. Ham on Rye has 58. Of course, those are much shorter books than mine is ever going to be, but I’m just sayin’. Seventy seven is not that many. I also don’t know why I am comparing mine to Bukowski’s. It was just off the top of my head really. It’s just that I am now on the 3rd draft and just finished the 10th chapter, which is why I am mentioning it. It’s for those of you that I’m sure are not keeping track. That’s where I am.

I am averaging around a half a chapter to a chapter per day, when I work on it, that is. It depends on how long each chapter is, too. I am starting to see it shape up and take form now, which is pretty exciting. And I’m still trying my darndest to cut. (It’s very difficult.) Pretty much all of the chapters are titled now. The one I’m working on now is called Bloody Knees. Nice, eh? It’s just non-stop hilarity folks!

Some days (and/or moments) I think the book is pretty good, while other times I feel like it has a long way to go. I polish, polish polish. I’ve never polished anything so much in my life. In a book this long, you can’t repeat too many words. You have to break a lot of bad habits, but still keep your own voice and personality. There’s a lot of tweaks and details to pay attention to. It’s as if I’m a real writer.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on this painting that was inspired by this photo I took just above Valley Blvd between East LA and El Sereno.


The painting has been going through a lot of transitions and stages because I’ve been fighting with myself about loosening up. I didn’t start this thing the way I’d hoped to. I know it’s “loose,” but my intention wasn’t even to make hard shapes like this. I wanted to paint freehand, yes, but I wanted to be entirely abstract instead of being so literal.


I figured my second attempt would be better. I figured I could always go back and “mess it up” later. And in the meantime, I’d move forward and at least be loose with the hills.


After the above session, I found that it was a push-pull kind of thing. I was still more or less painting the photograph, and not pulling from my imagination. Damn it! So I gave up on the whole abstract idea and just wanted to salvage this into something I still liked. So I continued with it in a semi “sloppy Joe” sort of manner:


Now I felt like I was getting somewhere. I mean, I thought so anyway.


The above was just another layer and variation of greenery, but then I began to feel like it got overly thick. I almost preferred to have parts of the gesso showing, like how it was in the session before this one. The purpose of adding more greenery was so that I would fully cover the panel. Why I think this is a “rule,” I’ll never know. It’s not like I went to art school. I make my own damn rules. Next time, I’ll think with my brains.


In the above, I just added the sky. Can’t really tell from this particular photo, but it’s blended from light to dark. Still, the foreground was really bothering me. Something wasn’t right about it. I had to do something, so this is what I came up with:


Now it’s prac-near done. I need for it to dry a little bit – which won’t be that hard considering how hot it’s been. Then I can put little windows in the houses and make some more electrical wires, etc. I think I can call it “done” for reals after that. Then I will start something new entirely. I may even use the same exact photo as a jumping off point to see if I am even capable of doing what I set out to do in the first place.

So until next time, that’s all I’ve got. See you on the flippity-flop.

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