Just Thinking Thoughts

My mind has been preoccupied lately with so much stuff, yet it’s been more at rest than usual – surprisingly. My mind is always preoccupied with something, that’s for sure. That’s nothing new. It’s just a little calmer than usual, and that seems like it would be disturbing, but luckily it’s not too bad. Does that make sense? I hope it does, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’m not on the verge of crazy right now. If I was, I wouldn’t be able to write any of this.


I keep thinking about what I would like to do next. I was really hoping I would have been able to go up to Marin County for that Headlands residency (pictured above). That would have been nice so I could have started painting the landscape there, but then again, I’ve also had thoughts about finishing the desert paintings. They don’t seem resolved to me. I still want to do more. Not only that, I’ve had a fantasy about painting the outskirts of Los Angeles. In fact, I might even be more excited about doing that than Northern California, as pretty as it is. My love of Los Angeles is stronger after all. I even know the exact location of the first photo I want to capture. It’s in El Sereno at Valley Blvd. near Cal State LA, and there’s a freight train that runs through it. It’s like a perfect scene to paint as an abstract landscape. Here’s a Google image of the area. The last time I drove by there, there was an engine parked there on the tracks.



I recently got the Lisa Sanditz book Sock City and it’s been really inspiring me lately. (Pearl City Underwater is pictured above.) Her work has been the true motivation for all of my recent oil paintings. I think I’ve admitted this already. In fact, I want her work to infiltrate my hand even more. I don’t think it does enough. Between her and my long-time passion for Amy Sillman, you’d think I’d loosen up more, but I still feel I’ve been too tight. This seems to be my forever dilemma.

Sometimes I equate this issue to my painting space – the comfort of my space – in all honesty. However, I’m really not one to make excuses about such things. I should just make a mess if a mess is in order. I realize I have a lot of letting go and control issues that have nothing to do with painting. I seem to make up for that though in my drawing technique. I have learned to be a lot more free in drawing than I am in painting. I just need to follow suit with a paintbrush in my hand, and I have been getting better at it. I do see progress, especially in the last year. I see it in certain portions and areas of paintings. I just want it all to loosen, not just “portions.”

There were portions of this piece, Drum Lab, where I found it, but I probably hit it more in pieces like Ladder to Dad. The surfaces were completely different though and that too had something to do with it. Ladder to Dad was on a giant canvas, so it was a rougher tooth, and there was just something about having that smooth gessoboard for Drum Lab that made it easier to tighten up and be more precise. Still, these are not excuses for fulfilling my ideals. That’s why I would like to continue making the desert pieces until I “get there.”


The artists I love make it seem so easy. I wonder what they say and/or think about the artists that inspire them? Who is Lisa Sanditz’s inspiration? Or Amy Sillman’s? Or Rita Ackermann‘s? I should ask them. Or maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe then I would just have more paintings to study.  I think Amy Sillman has been the artist I have studied most of the three of these. Sanditz is more of a new discovery of about a year ago. I’ve known about Rita Ackermann since about 1996 though. Her work was different then too. She also had a autobiographical character/young cartoon girl she used in her art. I felt really close to her because of that. We had that in common. And when I first saw Sillman’s work in person, maybe 10 years ago, I realized she was in a place that I was trying to get to in my work that I couldn’t quite achieve, so I started to really look at her entire body of work to try to see how she was doing it. I saw the magic in her brush strokes. The effortlessness. But I finally saw that it wasn’t something I could learn from, only something I could enjoy and I gave up trying. Or, maybe I didn’t give up trying to learn from it, but I realized something more important from it once I began to get into Lisa Sandiz.


The above painting was the first Amy Sillman painting I ever saw in person called Elephant. It was at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.

And here is an older work of Rita Ackermann’s:


Once I discovered Lisa Sanditz’s paintings, I was revitalized about learning to paint again. Like years ago, I began learning from my own trial and error and listening to the pulse of my own self. I could see that this is what she does in her own work. She is listening to herself – to her own voice. Not that Sillman doesn’t do this, but I believe Sillman is listening more to the process – if that makes sense. This is all just my opinion, so take it or leave it, but these were the small differences I could see and felt. And it was how I got sparked back into anew.

I have always been all about process. I haven’t abandoned that at all and in fact I will always learn from that – to trust the process. But I have perhaps done this almost to a fault. I forget to trust myself and the vision I have for the work at times because I forget that I’m there. I believe that I let this get away a bit and I have been getting back to it over the last year or so. Much more anyway. I’d have to say that it’s been because I have been inspired greatly mostly by these artists. And while my work doesn’t exactly mimic theirs (I never would want that) they are still big influences. I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Anyway, these are just some thoughts I was thinking. What they mean, I am not so sure. Thanks for reading though.

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