Looking Inside: Kaleidoscope

 
kaleidoscope

I didn't really know this when I started Kaleidoscope, but when I finished it, it became clear to me that it was the final piece of the puzzle that I had began putting together with Fidelity and Force Majeure. Kaleidoscope is the biggest of the three, sitting at 3 feet across and 4 feet all, which is fitting, as I hope it provides the biggest takeaway for it's audience.

For a long time I let my ego (or perhaps my id) go unchecked. I was in a hole which I knew I needed to get out of, but at the time, I was just having too much fun digging. But digging for what exactly? I "hoe'd around" (haha) for a couple of months, delving deeper and deeper into my own self constructed chasm, and it wasn't until I hit the bottom that I realized there was nothing to find there in the first place, and there really never was. So, I sat down on the floor of the abyss, and finally took a breath. I looked around this cave I had built for myself, thinking about the days I'd never get back I'd spent digging it, and for the first time I saw everything I had destroyed or broken in order to do it. And where was I now anyway? Alone in a hole with nothing to show for it. So I stopped digging.

Coming to terms with your own mistakes and misgivings isn't easy, but it's necessary. I had hurt people who I liked or appreciated on some level, which I look back on with regret to this day, but I couldn't take any of that back. In my mind, the only option left was to change. It may sound extreme, but I decided to take a vow of "celibacy" - an attempt to let go of the destructive mindsets and attitudes I held towards women and my relationships with them.

For a long while, I cut "romance" entirely out of my life, and only interacted with women in a purely friendly way. I took my misguided perception of women as "opportunities" (whether that be for sex, or a relationship, or both) and put it completely out of my mind. This sounds elementary, but for the first time I was seeing women for everything they really had to offer, and not only what they could offer me. During this time I created some of the great friendships I still appreciate to this day, friendships I may have squandered in the past with my warped idea of how men and women could interact. Finally, instead of searching for something within these women that I could never find, I could step back and admire what these people already had.

I feel as if many men find themselves in that same cave I dug myself into back then, with only their misguided attitudes and ideas about women to hold on to. Maybe it's how we've all been raised in this society, socialized from birth to believe that our relationships with women are limited to those involving sex or love, or maybe it's just built in to our dumbass nature, doomed by the flaws of humanity. Either way, we have the power to overcome this inherent weakness, if only we take the time to look inside ourselves and try. Many of us men just look at women through one lens, but if you come from the right angle, you see them through the Kaleidoscope, more complex and beautiful than you could have imagined.

 

Looking Inside: Force Majeure

 
forcemajeure

Force Majeure is a weird piece for me. It's a piece of art that, while I enjoy it, feels joyless. I almost don't like to look at it, because it serves as a reminder of a time in my life which I kind of want to forget. Yet, I love it, because it's probably one of more true and honest pieces I've made in my career.

About two years ago, after constantly struggling with the idea that other women could provide me with more contentment than the woman I was with, I reached a breaking point and ended a the relationship I was in at the time. I was finally "free", free to move around from person to person, free to be with anyone, free to do anything. Some may have called this a "hoe phase", or called me a "fuck boy", but at the time I fully embraced those labels and that lifestyle. I had felt like something was missing, and I was determined to find it.

I'm not sure what I was looking for, love, validation, or just a warm body to sleep next to, but even when I got those, I never felt closer to whole. So, rather than looking in and realizing I was treading the wrong path, I figured I just needed more. I moved from girl to girl, searching for something within them that I could never find, digging myself in deeper with every move. It almost felt good at the time, binging on the fools gold of sexual attention, but running faster on the carnal treadmill wasn't getting me anywhere closer to where I wanted to go. But I kept running and running, not even thinking about it, and it was far too late before I finally stopped and thought about who I was running over along the way.

It took me a while to realize the damage I had done. In my search for whatever I was looking for, I used the women I was with along the way without even thinking about how they felt about it, or me. In my head, all that mattered was what I was going through, and it didn't even cross my mind that I could have been hurting people. Now it makes me cringe to think about the women who put enough trust in me to open up, only for me to move on from them without regard. It sounds like it should be common sense, but I wasn't thinking of these women as fully realized people, they were just someone to hold on to until I was done with them.

I feel as if this is the attitude many men approach women with, not one of malice, but of ignorance. In this piece, I tried to depict the reality of the situation, the reality I feel too few men get to see, one that I wish I had seen when I was going through this. This piece is the opposite of Fidelity, or perhaps the flip side of the same coin. Where Fidelity represents a male idealization of women, Force Majeure shows what can happen when that idealization goes unchecked. Creating Force Majeure was an exercise in empathy for me, and I hope it serves as one for other men as well. It's important to realize that the people you interact with are real, and that the way you treat them may impact them in ways you didn't expect or don't understand. I've learned this lesson, I just hope others can as well without leaving the same damage in their wake. I've changed, and that's the only solace I can find now as I've forgone forgiveness.

All I can hope to do now is teach others to be better through my art and these words, and I'll delve a bit deeper on the subject tomorrow in my next post, which will be about my piece "Kaleidoscope". Until then, thank you for reading.

 

 

 

Looking Inside: Fidelity

 
fidelity

Today I'm going to look into an older piece of mine called "Fidelity". This one is a personal favorite of mine, and I honestly feel as if I've been trying to recapture it's essence ever since I put down the last brush stroke on it.

Throughout my romantic life I've struggled with a fear of missing out. I've always been plagued by the thought that there's someone out there I haven't met yet, someone who could fulfill me, someone who could make me a little bit more happy - which came much to the detriment of the people I may have been involved with at the time. I had a naive and flawed view of relationships, looking at women more as opportunities than real people, which prevented me from taking my relationships with them as seriously as I probably should have. This mindset put me in a condition of constant wandering eyes, even when I was committed to someone. I couldn't help but always wonder what another girl could offer me that whomever I was seeing couldn't.

This is obviously an idiotic way to think about things. I put the blinders on and blocked out any ability to appreciate what I had at the time, instead focusing on what I didn't. I idealized the women I wasn't with, and soured on who I was with, descending into a headspace of dissatisfaction and contempt. This would eventually lead to me breaking up with them, leaving them wondering what they had done wrong, when their only "mistake" was not being everyone else. This became a cycle, and with each turn I spiraled further and further into self loathing. It wasn't them, I thought, it was me - I'm the one who is incomplete. But rather than fix myself, I reveled in it, ran with it, and dove deeper into what made me hate myself in the first place - which I will discuss in more depth in my next post about "Force Majeure".

Fidelity is a representation of my flawed idealization of the women outside of my relationship, and at the same time a reflection of what I didn't see in the partners I had as well. I've reflected on this part of my life a lot since then, and I think I've changed how I think about these things for the better (which I will also get into in my next post, and the one after that). Currently, I'm in a relationship with someone who I value a lot, and I can only thank art for allowing me to process my flaws and grow to be someone who is able to be committed to someone like this. My art sometimes serves as a mirror, reflecting back at me the evil inside myself, allowing me to see it for the first time. This piece in particular was the first step in healing this culturally and self inflicted wound that is the male perception of women. Thank you for reading, new post tomorrow.

 

 

Looking Inside: Persona

 
persona

I've decided I'd like to do a series of blog posts in which I go in depth providing context and meaning for some of my art work. Not only will this be a look inside the work, but a look inside the artist as well. Because it's sitting behind me right now, I'd like to start with my painting entitled "Persona".

In early 2017, I was really popping off on twitter. I was posting paintings all the time, interacting with the community, and gaining some solid attention - but it was getting to my head. I was acting like a right dick head, taking full pride in my art and my newly attained position of "internet notoriety". I let my ego run loose, talking my shit every day on the TL, basking in the glory of endless digital attention. I couldn't help myself, the fanfare was ecstasy.

But I was blind to the flip side of "clout". One day I opened up a curious cat, a service which allows people to ask you anonymous questions online, in hopes of opening up a new channel for praise and attention. I did receive mostly positive submissions, but my attention was fully swept up by some others. These particular questions (or statements, really) were about my personal life. These faceless people were telling me what they thought about me - that I was a player, that I didn't respect the women I was involved with, and that I was an asshole. What bothered me was that they were closer to the truth than they might have understood, but they weren't completely on the money. Their picture of me was incomplete, the puzzle they had put together in their head was missing pieces.

This made me think about how everyone saw me, not just these particular vocal few. I was scared - I couldn't tell if I was misrepresenting myself, or representing myself perfectly. So I panicked. I deleted all of my tweets and went into hiding - I couldn't bear looking at the imperfect reflection of myself I saw in those submissions.

Since then I've begun to re-open myself to the internet, but the fear of a developing a public persona which diverges from my reality still hangs over me. I've changed for the better as a person since then (at least I hope), but I can't shake the idea that people won't see that and will never see that - they'll only see a mask in the form of my handle, and I can't breathe through it.

Although I am not pictured, this painting is a reflection of those ideas. Who really are you? The idea of yourself in your head, or the idea in everyone else's? Thank you for reading.

 

letting go

I'm gonna try to get back on doing these blogs. I really like the idea of doing a bunch of these and then reading back on them later, having some sort of documentation of my thoughts and self over time. I wish every day that I was the type of kid that kept a diary, because without that written record of my thoughts, I feel like I'm missing out on some sort of personal connection to my self and my past. So, I figured I'd spare my future self by creating that written record and sticking to it.

Why did I stop in the first place? I had a pretty good run of blogging daily when I first started, which felt really good, but then I missed a day. My "perfectionism" turned this imperfection into a failure (or perhaps just an excuse to be lazy), so I turned away from it entirely. I hate looking at my "failures", so I ignored it for a while, trying to push it out of my mind completely - but I couldn't.

I used "perfectionism" as an excuse to be lazy rather than getting something good done, and I decided to let that go. I know I was talking about the blog, but this ties into my art as well. I recently have done a few pieces that are very loose and gestural, a sharp contrast against the more realistic and "tight" work I was doing. I feel unshackled from ideals and expectations and am just going to give what I can and give in to wherever this freedom takes me.

Whatever dude I'm just having a good time,

I'm in my desk chair screaming at the top of my lungs

building a door, following through

I'm trying to learn to follow through. I've always been someone with grandiose aspirations, yet I've been afraid all my life to take the necessary first steps towards them. I'm letting go of that right now. In my last post, I was kind of talking to myself - coming to the realization that in this life there are no doormen, only gatekeepers, and the fear of those gatekeepers has kept me down my whole life. Yet, if I'm to get what I want, I can't wait to be let in, I have to build my own door.

Some people say they're going to build that door, but it's hard work, so they put it off until next week, and then the next week, and then the next month, until years have gone by and there's not even a frame. I've been one of those people until now, but this time I'm going to follow through.

Some people say they don't know how to build a door. They spend their time looking up "how to build a door", perhaps reading all the door building material there is, but never start building the door. They tell themselves that they can't build the door until they know how, or until they can make the perfect door. But that day never comes. I've been one of those people until now, hoarding my art, waiting until I had the perfect collection before I showed anyone, waiting and waiting and waiting. But this time I'm going to follow through.

Some people are just too weak to build a door. They can't lift the wood, or get a few splinters before falling apart. They are unwilling put in the work to grow their muscles and thicken their skin so they can build the door one day. They just know they can't do it now, so they don't even begin to try. I've been that person until now. But this time I'm going to follow through.

Building a door is hard work, but I can't imagine what it will feel like when I finish.

For all my creative people out there, I recommend the book "Show Your Work!" by Austin Kleon. It will give you hope.

permission, or the lack thereof

I didn't do one of these yesterday, which is a bit of a disappointment. I was on a pretty good streak! You gotta go away to come back I guess.

You know what's hard about writing a blog? You can't use any emojis (or at least I've made the stylistic choice to do so). With emojis, you can get across the true inflection of your words more accurately, so because I've made this choice to not use them, I can't help but wonder how people read what I say. In today's soundbite culture, I feel slightly justified worrying about being taken out of context. Isn't it kind of weird that your inflection is an extension of the context of whatever you say? Big ups to whoever invented emojis. It's a pretty crazy thing to basically create an entirely new way to express ourselves and extend our written language, allowing for us to better express the context of our words. Yet, I think my blog would look nicer without them, so I'll have to do my best to express myself accurately, or suffer the consequences.

Somewhat related, I wanted to bring up something that's been inspiring me lately: no one is going to give you permission to do anything. As in, if you're a person who wants to go out and makes something happen for yourself, you can't wait for the world to allow you to. That's partly why I'm writing this blog (and by extension, creating this whole website). I could've sat around waiting for someone to come along and anoint me with the privilege to start blogging, painting, or any other thing someone could want to do, but why wait until then when I've got right now? The anointment, permission, whatever I'm calling it, doesn't exist. The only thing that's real is getting to work and being persistent. Only like, two people probably read this blog, but if I keep it going maybe I'll be at three by the end of the year! You can't look at the people at the top of the mountain and think "it will be impossible to get up there!", and scare yourself from even trying in the first place. You have to realize the climb was probably a struggle for them to, but they weren't too afraid to allow themselves to start. I've been too afraid to allow myself to start for too long. I'm still not sure if I'm good, or strong enough, but I figure starting is the only way to get stronger.

Hopefully I won't miss any more days. It's hard to do this every day, but I feel like it will be good for me in the long run. Consistency bears fruit.

Read the books "Steal Like An Artist" by Austin Kleon, a really interesting book on finding artistic inspiration in your day to day life.

keepin' it movin'

Today our film production company (Stray Dog Productions) sent out a casting call for the short we're working on, tentatively titled "I Need You". I'm really excited to get started on this, and if things go as planned we're only a few weeks away from shooting. I'm a little scared, because this is my first time really working on a film from start to finish (or at least one that's actually gone through a professional process), and I just hope it will be as good as it sounds in my head.

Another scary thing about making something like this is the commitment. We'll spend a couple weeks start to finish making this happen, whereas I'm used to making paintings which I usually finish in a week or less. Since the turnover on a painting is so quick, I can throw one out into the world, and if people don't like it, I can just make another one. But if people don't like the movie, I don't think it will be so easy to brush off. I guess that's all the more incentive to throw everything we've got at it and make something we're proud of.

I feel like on this blog I've talked a lot about my fears and insecurities, but I feel like it would be disingenuous to just talk myself up on here. People I'm close to have told me I can come across a bit egotistical, which only makes me wonder where that comes from and why I act that way. It probably stems from some sort of compensation for my insecurities, because although I like to imagine myself as some sort of "intellectual", I think that same quality leads to me overanalyzing and nitpicking myself. I feel pretentious even using the word "intellectual" to describe myself, a nice example of what I'm describing I guess, haha. Yet, I believe the nitpicking also leads me down a never ending search for some higher version of myself, one that I don't have to tear down every day.

The ego act works for me I guess, living life on the "fake it til you make it" mantra. Only downside being that faking perfect often leads to me letting myself down when I falter. But I guess chipping away at the ugly parts of myself will only bring me closer to that more perfect self, but how deep can you chip before you start cutting through the core?

Anyways. Things are generally going well right now. I'm making less dumb mistakes today than I made yesterday! Just gotta keep that up, right?

You should check out the song "The Battle Is Over" by Jenny Hval. It's something you could dance to while performing a blood sacrifice, if get down with that.

i wonder what that would look like

Most of the time when I make art, I generally don't think about the purpose of the piece until after it's finished (usually taking a couple weeks for me to figure it out myself). Yet, looking back on them, they are usually a good approximation of my mental state at the time of their creation.  They somehow serve as a funhouse mirror reflection of my life, but with  hindsight I can usually see myself pretty clearly. Yet, that also comes with the consequence of knowing the oft unfortunate circumstances that might have prompted some of my more personal pieces, and as a young male idiot those tend to be prompted by my romantic experiences with women. I try to pass these works off as some sort of commentary on relations between the sexes, specifically men's (usually) flawed relationship with women, but I know that there's a piece of me and the real people I've painted about that can't be severed from the paintings. I wonder if any of those people have seen the paintings I've indirectly made about them, and if they've realized that's what was going on. Maybe if they read this they might give my paintings a second look, ha.

But this kind of brings me to a weird thought: I wonder what it would look like if they painted me (or about me) instead. I figure if I air out my feelings via my work, I can't help but be curious about how they might express themselves regarding me. I'd really like to see that painting, not purely because I'm a narcissist, but because I just wonder if it would look more real than my own fun house reflection. Maybe they could teach me a new technique or two as well.

Anyways, last night we finished the first draft of our script for our upcoming short film. I'm pretty excited about this! More updates on this as they come. That's it.

If you're interested in some weird funky music from Somalia, check out the song Dooyo by Dur Dur Band. This song is an ultra bop if i've ever heard one.

 

 

not sure exactly (about anything)

I consider myself a liberal person. Yet, I find myself consistently frustrated by those I tend to agree with lately. I can't help but get angry at the gatekeeping I see on the left, which seems to be heavily prevalent among online communities. I just can't wrap my head around how a lot of liberal people go about spreading their political views, usually taking the form of calling anyone who doesn't fully agree with them an idiot. I personally believe this to be a weak strategy. Why not treat those who which we disagree with with respect? I just don't think we're going to change anyone's mind calling them an idiot.

I recently was on the Denton square (I live in the city of Denton, Texas for the uninitiated), where we have a conservative monument. I walked by and saw a few people protesting the monument, and another man counter-protesting them. I'm really into politics and stuff like this, so I decided to inject myself into the situation. At first, the conservative man and the protestors were having a discussion about the monument, trading points, and generally staying civil, which made me happy - but things quickly fell apart. Another protestor arrived and began shouting about monument, which only caused the counter-protestor to shout back. While my personal opinion is that we should take down these monuments, I found no reason to antagonize the man standing up for them. Yes, I found his opinions misguided, but rather than yell at him about it, I tried to speak with him calmly and perhaps change his views, rather than push him further away.  I don't think I succeeded in convincing him, but I'd like to think that I turned the dial a little more than antagonizing him might have.

One more story. Recently on my college campus there was a demonstration organized by a radical christian group. They were holding signs saying things like "Got Aids Yet?" and other inflammatory things about "sinners". I thought that it was pretty disgusting what they were "preaching", so I joined the counter protest (even going so far to kiss a male friend dressed as Jesus in front of them). Yet, as much as I find these people abhorrent, I couldn't help but be peeved when I saw people online complaining that the university would let them hold their rally at all. You may not personally agree with me, but I decided to reply and say that while I find them and their message wrong, I believe that they have the right to demonstrate either way, because if we pick and choose who can demonstrate, who's to say people in power won't pick and choose against us? I was told to "shut up, nerd".

This is my general issue with the liberal discourse these days. I just feel like people would rather hold onto their moral superiority rather than actually have a conversation. People would seem to rather foster enemies than perhaps educate others and create allies. Maybe if we didn't gatekeep liberalism and tried to expand our ideas instead of closing ourselves off, we could actually make a difference and move things forward.

Maybe, maybe not.

(also I feel like there's a lack of focus on liberal economic policies, protect the working class and all that, but that's a discussion for another post)

Anyways, if you're looking for an incredible animated horror classic, please check out PERFECT BLUE, directed by Satoshi Kon.

 

wrote this listening to them new father john misty singles

A couple of things are on my mind today. First off, a question for anyone reading:

Is there a point where you've done so much wrong, you're past redemption?

What I'm getting at is, what's the limit of wrong doing someone must commit to where they just have to accept that they're past the point of being forgiven? Do we believe in rehabilitation, or do we believe that people don't change? Not sure what prompted this thought, and I really don't have any answers either. I've grown and changed a lot as a person as I've gotten older, as I'm sure everyone has, but because of that same fact I consistently feel deep regret and embarassment about who I have been and the ways I've acted in the past. I wonder if any of my past misdeeds have put me past redemption in anyone's eyes. Constantly trying to be less of an idiot requires a lot of reflection on my idiot tendencies, so the self cringe (or loathing, haha) never ends I guess. But if I think so lowly of my past, I can't help but wonder how lowly everyone else thinks of it (although it's probably self aggrandizing to think that anyone thinks about it at all, haha). Anyways, I'd love to hear what you might have to say on the topic (I guess this site comes with a comment section? or you could just tweet at me if you're so inclined).

Anyways. I'm trying to get my priorities straight. It's hard to decide what's most important to you when you like to do so many things. I was learning to play the guitar for a while, practicing every day consistently last summer, but I had to put it down to focus on other things. That's a lame feeling. I figure my number one priority should be creating things, as that's what I think really brings me joy. Yet, art takes time, promoting your art takes time, doing everything necessary to create a fruitful career takes time. But I figure if I really want it, I'll have to make sacrifices. But "what am I willing to sacrifice?" becomes the question.

I'm excited to start painting again soon. I've got a few people lined up to model for me, which really excites me. I like my paintings more when I get to take the pictures and I don't have to use someone else's. The models have really unique, interesting faces. I feel kind of weird going up to people on the street (or in one case, at the gym) and asking if they want to be painted, but I can't just let someone with a cool face pass me up and not regret it - I'd just think about how cool the painting would have been for the next week, kicking myself.

Today I'm working on a poster design, the concept is basically a haunted house that's also a skull, the whole poster being kind of in the style of an 80's horror movie. It's going to be pretty cool if it turns out the way I hope it does. Would y'all be interested in seeing my design work as well in the future? I generally keep it to myself as I figure people mostly want to see paintings from me, but if there's interest, I'd be happy to oblige. Anyways, I should probably be getting back to that.
Gotta find a way to NOT use this blog to procrastinate, haha.

Today's recommendation,

Try out the song "You Don't Have to Worry" by Doris & Kelly. For some reason it's their only song on most streaming services, but it slaps so it makes up for a lack of catalog. Listen to this if you're interested in something that's drearily funky.

what would you title your first blog post?

I decided to start a blog. Somewhat for "documentation" reasons, and somewhat in an attempt to open myself up more to the outside world. Generally, I'd consider myself a pretty extroverted person when I'm out and about in the world, but I live a very private life, keeping my business to myself and a "very small" circle of people usually (I'm aware that sounds corny). I think that's for several reasons, one being some irrational paranoia about the government reading my tweets and tracking what I'm up to, as well as internet detectives trying to piece together a persona of me through my online presence (wether that's to advertise to me or expose me on the TL). Not to mention a general insecurity of what people might think about me and what I have to say. But, I'm trying to get over those fears and be more willing to share myself and my life, because I figure if I stay comfortable staying hidden, I'm hindering my growth not only as an artist, but a person. Hence, my new blog.

This will probably take the form of information and updates on my art and other endeavors, a repository for some thoughts that I can't get across tweet style, as well as a representation into who I am as a person.

Anyways, this isn't the only new beginning I'm going through right now. Some friends and I are starting a Film Production Company and are in the pre production phase of a short right now, which I'm super stoked about. School is also about to let out, which means I'm going to be able to devote a lot more time to that, as well as my art. Speaking of, I've been reading a couple books about selling art and learning a lot, and I'm going to begin really applying those lessons once the summer begins as well. This is kind of how the blog will serve that "documentation" purpose, being a record of my progression as a creator (and hopefully, as a human too).

I feel like that's a good place to end things for now.

I think I'll make it a thing to give a recommendation to finish these off (movie, book, music, etc.), as I'm a firm believer that if we are to be media consumers, we're only as good as the media we consume.

If you are looking to understand your place in the natural world, read ISHMAEL by Daniel Quinn.