Sunday, November 27, 2011

FREE workshop at Bellevue Daniel Smith, Dec 7th, 2001 11am-1pm

I have another free drawing workshop coming up at the Bellevue Daniel Smith location on Wednesday December 7th. The workshop will run for 2 hours, from 11am-1pm. I'll be covering the fundamentals for the first hour and fifteen minutes or so, and then the remaining 45 minutes everyone will get a chance to draw while I come around and help. Please bring a piece of fruit and something to sketch with. I want to make sure everyone gets to draw for a little bit at the end so you can work out a few kinks and have some ideas to take home with you! Hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A slight deviation

I want to keep the blog about my art and art related things, but a couple experiences recently compel me to make a slight deviation. I'm going to take a quick time out to mention a couple things not directly art related.

Remember back in the mid-2000's when everyone was talking about how great an investment real estate was? Gotta buy a house. Gotta flip a house. And then what? Lots of peeps got foreclosed on. Lots of peeps lost a lot of money in the stock market. When you turn on the radio, or read the news these days, you hear a lot of stuff about how, economically, we're "starting to recover" from the devastation of 2007-2008. Are we? I suppose that it's possible that we might be, but I've been studying a lot of economics lately, and there's a lot of evidence to suggest that we might not be. In fact, in studying, I have found people who were warning about the housing collapse way before it happened. They are few, and far between, but imagine if all the people who are suffering now had known what would happen ahead of time. Would they be in that situation? Some might be, because some people are just stupid (you can only lead a horse to water), but some might not be because in knowing better, they would have made better choices. Which makes me wonder... if the economy is such a keystone in our everyday lives, why do so many people know almost nothing about economics? It's because of the now general ignorance of the average person that all different kinds of people can get away with all different kinds of evil, and nobody is the wiser. So I would recommend to anyone who is interested in not becoming a hapless victim like the suckers who got foreclosed on and drained a few years ago... study economics! We all get taken advantage of, as a collective, because we don't know hardly anything. Get smart, peeps!

This second deviation, I almost wrote a month ago. Then I almost wrote a week ago. I get fired up, and I want to keep things about art, but it's just too much. I'd like to imagine that, looking at my drawings and paintings, people would get inspired to live and live in the best way possible! I am still at a rudimentary skill level, so the passion for living may not come across, but I am working on it, and so I'll supplement a little with some words here.

What have we become? If one person can look at another person and rationalize them out of existence, what does that make the first person? A monster? An animal? Not human? How many times do we walk past a person on street, in our own neighborhood or community, who is suffering, and don't even consider the plight of the person in front of us? I'm talking about those ever-annoying, always-in-your-way, always-inconveniencing-you-or-making-you-feel-guilty homeless people. Better to just ignore them, right? Otherwise they might guilt you into giving them some money or making you feel like you should help them in some way. Better to rationalize them out of existence. Pretend that they aren't there, or walk past very quickly.

Have you ever tried to imagine what it would be like to exist on the streets? Hassled by the police, no place to shower, no place to sit and rest, no place to be safe, hardly a place to use the bathroom, and no place to call home? Wandering around, desperate for help, being ignored by hundreds of people streaming past you with expensive, disposable goods? It's an impossible thing to try to even imagine, I think you can only experience it. My whole life I have had a place to shower and sleep. Most of us will not even attempt to imagine what life in another's shoes is like.

So there on the street is a total stranger. Of course, you shouldn't be bothered to help them. Would you help them if it was your friend? How about your friend's mom? Would you buy your friend's mom a meal if she was going without? What if it was your neighbor? If your neighbor got evicted, would you give them a jacket? How about your own parents? Or your siblings? Would you help them? And this is where the real hypocrisy starts to creep in... I don't want to live in a world filled with homeless people, and I would assume that you don't either, so maybe we should start doing something about it? What if we tried to help people become... not homeless? I realize this is getting pretty radical for the average american at this point.

But I wouldn't even urge you to direct action. (For some people, it doesn't make sense. If you're a petite woman, you shouldn't be approaching packs of homeless men) You should do whatever you feel compelled to do. But I do want to say something about ignoring homeless people, or pretending they don't exist, or rationalizing them out of existence. I used to be very guilty of these behaviors myself and it's one of the few things I am very ashamed of. If you go out of your way to avoid even thinking about the suffering person in your community, you disgust me. You make me angry. In the united states today, it is amazing how much wealth, technology, and everything else we have amassed. We, as a whole, are probably the wealthiest, safest people who have ever walked the face of the planet, and it is too much for us to treat the one in our community who suffers with at least an equal respect for their humanity.

What has compelled me to write this is that I have been making some homeless friends lately. These people do not just carry everything they own on their backs, but they carry larger bags of shame, guilt, and self-loathing. I've had several tell me recently how surprised they are that I am able to treat them as a person. Huh? ARE THEY ANY LESS A PERSON THAN I AM? If you're reading this in the comfort of your home, you've had the good fortune to have opportunities in front of you to have worked for a home, or to be living in one. Somebody doesn't have the same good blessings as you, and so they should be treated as human refuse? Should we just toss these people out? They're not good enough for us?

If you make some sort of excuse in your mind like "They want to be homeless" or "It's their own fault." I have a response for both. First, maybe one in ten thousand wants to be homeless. And sure, some of the exceptionally lazy ones might give a bad reputation to the ones who desperately want out but have fallen on hard times and are caught in the negative feedback loop. What if the person in front of you actually wants a meal? What if they actually need some help? If you actually think that homelessness is so cool that a lot of people aspire to it, I dare you to go live on the streets for a week and see how you like it. If you're not willing to try it out for a week, do the rest of the planet a favor and never think something so poisonous again. All of the homeless people I know have fought like hell to not be homeless and now seem trapped in a hole they can never escape. Second, maybe it is their fault. So what? You've never made a mistake? Should making a mistake that leads to homelessness be the end of a person's life? We should just toss their corpse in a dumpster? Obviously not, so never think that crap again either.

Obvious disclaimers apply here. I'm not saying you shouldn't enjoy nice things. I'm not saying you didn't work hard to get to where you are. I'm not saying you should feel guilty or ashamed of accomplishing anything. What I am saying is that we, as a society, need to stop trying to forget that these people are suffering. Putting their suffering out of our minds isn't alleviating any of their pain or suffering, in fact, it is making it worse. There's a great line in "The Constant Gardener" where a character says "We can't help them all!" and the response is "But we can help this one". You may not be able to fix the problem, but each of us helping to fix the problem in front of our face can contribute to the fixing of the problem as a whole. And even if you cannot do anything directly to help fix the problem, at least quit making the problem worse. Quit treating these people as if they aren't human. It's okay to say hello. It's okay to look them in the eye. It's okay to say "No, Thank you" when they ask for some change. You think it's an annoyance? Imagine how much it must suck to have to ask a thousand people for charity so you can eat one meal. Get over yourself. It's not just everyone with money that I want to inspire to better, but also people who have nothing. They should aspire to better with the rest of us. They might need a little help to get there, though. The reality though, is that we all need a little help. So if I'm going to try and inspire homeless people to want to be alive, I'm going to need the rest of you to at least stop treating them as if they're garbage on the sidewalk. That's another person, just like you, with a vastly different (and probably a vastly more horrible) reality. If you don't believe me, talk to one of them. You'll see. Chances are you'll get heartbroken, and then you'll get angry. Angry at all the very self-important people rushing by who are so busy with whatever stupid ass video game or meaningless text message on their phone to pay another person the barest minimum of respect.

Can you get on board with that?

Next time you're out and about, look other people in the eye. Try to imagine somebody else's reality.

Okay, deviation over. Back to the art..

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A new Art League possibly in the making in Seattle. Your chance to get on board and help make it happen.

I just received this message from Ned Mueller.

Hi Everyone...A few years ago we had what was called the Puget Sound Art League in Bellevue. It was established so that artists had a place to go mainly to develop their skills and get encouragement and support from others. We had around 200 members at one point and we had two studios where members could go every day and draw or paint from live models in life drawing, portrait and costume and also a lot of still lifes set around one of the studios. We had world class workshops with people like Richard Schmid, Harley Brown, Carolyn Anderson and Ron Lukas.  It was a very great thing to have...everyone paid about $200 a year to belong and of course a very good deal for those of us who took advantage of it. It lasted for around 6 years and for a variety of reasons faded out, regretfully so to many of us. The League was modeled after the famous Palette and Chisel Club in Chicago which is still going strong. There is a very good chance that this may start up again as I have been talking to Chuck and Lisa Mcknett who are very excited about getting something very much like it going again. Generally they are looking for a space for 3 studios and gallery space with somewhat the same format, but also more of a regular schedule of classes for people to teach and study with. They are looking for something centrally located, as around the 405 and I-90 area. The Art League was very successful in that it fulfilled a real need for artists to go to in all sorts of levels...beginners to working professionals and for those of you who were involved know what great  fun and opportunity it was. At this point we need to know just how much enthusiasm and committment there is out there to getting it started and so I am sending this first notice out to all of my many fellow artists and friends. Those few who know about this are very excited about it and so we are off to a good start and I need to hear from you if you would be interested in participating. It is open to special elite group could you not be somewhat enthused!! With everything going up, I would think the yearly fee would have to be around $250 to $300, they have to cover rent, heat, electricity, model fees and all of that, but it is still a good deal even if one would use it twice a month. Right now it is in the "Blue Sky" stage as they call a beginning project at Disney Imagineering and will evolve as we go forward. We would probably also have some free members, who are very financially strapped in these hard times who could get a lot out of this progam..probably in return for sweeping up studios and things of that sort. Probably if you have a Lexus or such in your carport you may not qualify for this. I would also  appreciate it if you could send this email out to any of your own artist friends or students who I am sure would like to know that this may come to fruition. Have them and yourselves email me at and so I can put you on a obligation, and I am thinking that we will probably get a lot of enthusiastic participants. Thanks for taking the time to read this and have a great Thanksgiving. Ned Mueller

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Drawings and Painting studies

Here's a few recent drawings and a few painting studies done from life. Painting the Planes of the Head and cast of Diana. Hope you enjoy them, peeps! Keep whupping ass!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spit in the face of fear!

You can't be afraid! Fear will paralyze you! Of course, a little bit of fear can be healthy, that's what stops us from running out into traffic, but fear works on the law of diminishing returns; if you keep increasing how much you are afraid, it doesn't make you safer.

Your art is a reflection of your life. Do you want a particular quality in your artwork? You've got to live that thing in your life. If you want to produce bold work, you've got to live boldly. If you want honesty in your work, you've got to live honestly. This is the way to a genuine result. The qualities will just come out in your work. There might be other ways to arrive at what you want, but it's like driving through Argentina to go from Seattle to New York; it's the long way. If you live boldly, the boldness will just come out in your work naturally.

The easiest way to improve your work is to improve the way you live. Tired of all the indecision in your work? Eliminate indecision in your life, and the indecision in your work will vanish by default. As for me, I don't want to have any fear in my work, no uncertainty, and no hesitation. So I am going about eliminating those things in the way I live.

The above picture was taken around midnight from the top of Mt Si last night with a poet friend of mine, Malorie. We hiked up to the top of the mountain, partly in the moonlight, partly with headlights, and always on the alert for animals. Why hike at night? Aside from the obvious amazing view in the moonlight, it's an exercise in defeating fear. It's something of a scary thing to hike 8 miles in the middle of the night, but we did it anyway. And once you've hiked in the cold dark for 8 hours, putting the wrong line on a piece of paper doesn't seem like such a big deal. In an attempt to overcome fear and uncertainty in my work, I am overcoming fear and uncertainty in my life, one night hike at a time.

(And don't worry, I was equipped in case of trouble. Bear repellant and a huge knife.)

Don't be afraid, peeps! Start overcoming fear in your life, and you'll find it simple to overcome in your work!

Reminder! Workshop on Saturday!

Don't forget, workshop this Saturday at the Bellevue Daniel Smith store. Demo is from 11am-1pm. I'll cover all of the fundamentals, and it's great for beginners or anyone looking to freshen up their understanding of the key parts of drawing. Bring something to draw with and a piece of fruit to draw! See you there!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Painting is really hard.

I've been struggling trying to learn how to paint for the last 16 months or so. It's really tough. I keep cranking out terrible painting after terrible painting. Each painting you see on the blog, each one that I feel good enough about that I don't mind people looking at, has about 15-20 failed studies behind it. In fact, I did four or five poor ones today. Doing the studies is how you develop the skills to become better. My drawings are very advanced because I have done thousands of drawings over the last 7 years to develop that skill. I've got stacks of drawings laying around the house. Stacks.

Beware anytime somebody say they've found a "secret". There's no secret. Or if there is a secret, the "secret" is "lots of work" combined with "conscious learning". You can't just work and you can't just learn, you've got to learn, then apply, then learn from what you just applied, and then apply again. Isn't that the definition of wisdom? Applied knowledge.

So remember, this stuff is hard. Lots of stuff in life is hard. Human nature is to take the easy way. Being an American tells us that life should be easy. Tell me one good thing that was easy, and worthwhile? Nothing. Everything worthwhile takes work. Everything worthwhile is hard. If your life is easy, or if the task you are working on is easy, you should step back and reevaluate yourself before you drift into meaninglessness.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011