I’m back in the studio after four amazing days at TRAC 14 ( - a conference for representational artists) and would love to share with you some of the inspiration I received there. Also, check out the two invitations to upcoming shows (it’s a busy year).
In the past few months I have been thinking a lot about why I paint, who I paint for, and when my art is at its most successful. Why not give it all up and get a job with less fluid boundaries and, most of all, a more steady paycheck?All questions that can quickly pull the studio rug out from under your feet. It was with these musings on my mind that I drove up to Ventura to spend four days at TRAC.
I have to admit that on my drive up north apprehension was my passenger, wondering if it would be a conference that propagated a narrow and constricted idea about what art is or should be. Luckily, my doubts were quickly swept away by the palpable excitement at the conference. At every corner one would run into old friends or have the opportunity to make new ones by geeking out over art stuff, or get giddy over standing next to some of one’s idols. Yes, some of us were seriously considering making a magic brush out of Odd Nerdrum’s shed hairs ;)
Fellow LCAD alumni and instructors: Cynthia SItton, F Scott Hess, Julio Reyes, Candice Bohannon and I at TRAC 14
But lets get to the meat of it: aside from the lovely social aspects, I attended some deeply thought-provoking lectures and panel discussions. The British philosopher Roger Scruton poignantly discussed the need for sincerity and values in art, particularly in times when what the general public sees in museums and galleries is irony ridden or obsessing over esoteric, insider arguments about what constitutes “art”. We end up seeing art that is more concerned in posturing and garnering approval from the institutional officials rather than providing meaningful truths to the community it is supposed to help strengthen.
Other talks reminded me to base my studio practice on a strong, philosophical foundation (Stephen Hicks, philosopher), to do my part in building awareness for representational art (Peter Trippi, Editor of Fine Art Connoisseur) and to paint in order to get “to the people behind the mask” (Julio Reyes, artist). There were many more insights I could list here, but maybe we can continue this dialogue in person during one of my upcoming shows (see below).
What I would like to share with you in particular is the effect this conference had on me. It renewed and strengthened my commitment to create art that will helpyou see why your life is meaningful. I am reminded to steer clear from creating art that is flashy, aligned with the latest “art-world-hype” or academic intellectualism, but comes instead from the deep nooks of my creativity.
I am recommitted to create work fueled by my belief that life is beautiful, difficult, meaningful and devastating all at once.
It is so tempting to give in at times, believe me. The allure of easy sales and praise for quick production is strong, while honoring my beliefs and a slow creative process is utterly unglamorous and even unrewarding at times. Yet, my battle for championing sensitivity, subtlety and a rich gamut of emotions goes on and I am grateful to have you standing behind me in support.
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Thanks! Maybe we’ll see each other at the event!
Skinning the barn owl I picked up from the side of the 5 Fwy in preparation to be mounted (aka stuffed, which we don’t say anymore because it’s technically incorrect).
What I’ve learned:
-barn owls are ALL wings and legs and have the tiniest trunk, in contrast to chicken and duck, who walk more than they fly
- Their skin is super thin
- Their wing feather quills go beyond the skin and almost into muscle
- Their quads are big but their calf and shin muscle groups are even bigger (makes sense since they have to claw and grip hard when catching their prey)
- around their ears they have a flab of skin that creates a funnel, amplified by the feathers inserting into that skin. That’s why owl are such great listeners
-puppeteers must have been inspired by tendons and sinews. They are exquisite pulley systems.