End of Year Contemplations 2011

In one more day, we shall be bidding adieu to 2011. For me, the first day of this year began with art, as is my tradition, and the rest of the year offered many an opportunity to show work, to write, to make both commissions and anything else that my imagination led me to make. I spend these final days of the year in contemplation of my motives for making art. I tend to revisit this sort of question because I have always thought that it would be foolish and useless to do anything without knowing why. I am quite aware, of course, that there is a bit of mystery in the creation of a work of art; sometimes results are accidentally better than planned, sometimes a daydream can lead to a marvelous piece. My first serious oil painting was something I did quite out of the blue, after all; the whim of a summer's day led to a much more defined sense of purpose and self-awareness [above, a self-portrait from 2007] and a strong vocation. Even so, art can play a powerful role in society, and one must not wield it selfishly or thoughtlessly.

Why do I make art? Why do other artists make art? I personally am a reserved character, an observer, analytical, academic, sometimes a bit of a loner, and it is possible that I keep the bulk of whatever depth I posses to myself. . . but I care about humanity, very much, about creativity, about exploring possibilities and encouraging others to embrace possibility, wisdom, beauty-- it is only sensible to know life and to live as well and as fully as possible. In 2008, I wanted to explore the concept of creation, stand in awe at the cosmos, and illustrate my findings, whether they were about the life I knew in a small room in a small town or elsewhere. In 2009, in Montreal, and the time immediately following my move back to Huntsville, I wanted to make sure that making art did not slip out of my life, at any time, regardless of circumstances. When I first began this blog in 2010, I was particularly interested in depicting "internal realities". My work is still very much about "internal realities", but it has also continued to grow into more specific roles regarding learning, discovering, understanding or shaping culture. . . and I have considered deeply what it means to be genuine, to be human, to encourage thought.
I have a few plans and assumptions regarding where 2012 will take me and my work, but I will not rule out the possibility of many surprises along the way. Happy New Year to all!

A Christmas Commission

The turtle might seem a unusual symbol for love, but that is precisely what makes this commission so appropriate for Andy and Jamie Hoffman; its symbolism is as genuine, vibrant, and unique as they are. A surprise Christmas present from Jamie to Andy, The Happy Turtle [above] depicts Oliver, Jamie's own much-loved turtle, the corners of whose mouth always appear to be turned up in a tranquil smile. Surrounding her are organic abstractions based on the elaborate patterns of turtle shells, trees, and what I would imagine a turtle's most pleasant days in the grass to be. From the slow-but-steady tortoise who beat the hare to the mythical turtle carrying the Earth on its back to the real-life turtles that have lived over a century (or two), turtles have represented many things to many cultures. . . but it was their longevity, tenacity, and more or less peaceful nature that kept coming to mind as I made the above painting. I wanted it to be as joyful and straight-forward as a child's drawing, with the thick texture of a turtle's shell and skin. It brings a painter great joy to be entrusted to make such a personal Christmas commission. . . I hope that Jamie and Andy will enjoy it for decades to come.

On that note, I hope that everyone has had a warm and happy Christmas, and that the holidays of this season will continue to inspire and bring cheer to all!