Tuesday, 20 September 2011


Well folks, it's finally here. I am moving to a new site.

Check out my new website:


See you all there!!

Friday, 26 August 2011


Much has happened this summer and unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to update my blog. Actually, who am I kidding, I actually haven’t WANTED to update my blog.

The reason is I have been working on some very big life issues this summer. I had got admitted into grad school and was planning a move to the city of my dreams, yet there felt like something was missing. A couple of months ago my partner actually turned to me and voiced some concerns about my plans. It’s not like he didn’t want me to go to school, but he did ask me why someone who is avidly pro-financial independence would be willing to go into tremendous amount of debt for art school.

And I couldn’t give him an answer.

Isn’t it that way with those who are the closest to us? They can sometimes see big truths in us; truths that we just overlook every day. I decided that since this question vexed me so much, I would give it the attention it deserves and for two months I did nothing but soul searching. I spent my time, planning the move, packing, selling my belongings, and in between: I meditated, talked with friends, and read some amazing books. I got inspired by authors that wrote about living an authentic life, about fear, and learning to be vulnerable and imperfect in a world that pressures us to be conformist. I searched blogs of people who live non-conformist lives like:

Niall Doherty’s “Disrupting the Rabblement”

Lori Deschene’s “Tiny Buddha”

These guys really made me think about the possibility to create change and do some of the stuff I love without having to go the “conventional route”.

In the end, I finally realized that the main reason I wanted to go to grad school, was because I felt illegitimate as an artist without a degree. For ten years I have been studying and sketching. I have sought out professional artists for their advice, critique, and methods. I have taken night classes to fill in gaps of my education, but I have no art degree…and I finally realized that the one thing that has been keeping me back from submitting my artwork to galleries and selling aggressively online was because I felt like I wasn’t a legitimate artist. In fact, I felt like I wasn’t even an art student….more like a pre-art student, preparing myself for art school.

Not only that, but in the process, I uncovered a deep seated dream of wanting to help affect social change through my writing and art and I really had to sit and seriously had to weigh if spending 3 years and $80,000 was really in line with the things I wanted to do.

The resounding answer I got was no.

Now I’m not saying that I feel all happy and carefree, because honestly, I am scared shitless. I have no idea what I’m going to do now, but like all the other amazing movers and shakers I’ve been researching, I know that is actually a wonderful place to start.

I do have plans, though. I sat down in the last month and wrote up a list of things I would like to do:

Travel: Peru (to visit Machu Picchu), England and southern France (to visit friends), and Japan (to study Japanese calligraphy and visit Shinto temples)

Blog: I want to take my blogging to a more professional level about not have it only about art, but psychology and emotional identity

Move: I still want to move to San Francisco. I really feel like it’s the right move for me and my partner and he thinks so as well

Mentor: There is one professor at the Academy of Art that I would like to take classes with: Henry Yan. I had fallen in love with the way he captures portraits and I really wanted to learn his techniques.

Community: I want to get more involved in art communities and help develop programs to get both artists and non artists together to collaborate and express ideas.

So there you have it, some of the big things that I wanted to do when I got out of school and now that I realized that I don’t need a degree to do any of these things, I’m kind of excited to start tackling them.

The first thing I’m going to do is start a blog based on my personal philosophy of learning to find beauty in anything…and how to overcome obstacles to creativity and self expression. In fact, once I pick a domain, this will also be the first post for that new endeavor.

The small picture I drew above represents exactly how my heart feels right at this time. When I started to ask myself some hard questions, all I saw was a tangling of emotions and thoughts. I saw excuses that I used to avoid acting on my dreams, and ways in which I hid so I wouldn’t have to face my fears.

Yet, there is an incredible beauty to entangling forms. Like roots, our entanglements can not only ground us, but protect us and provide endless hours of exploration. Just like a tangle of roots, strings, or cables, emotional entanglements can carry a beautiful asymmetry to them. All tangles grow organically and are all very much a product of both time and action.

Through all this I learned life is very much a series of entanglements…you untangle a set of emotions, you create a new set, you unravel it yet again. Each conundrum that we face is not permanent, nor is it the last one we will face.

Like all living things, I think we excel in getting tangled, but if we can learn to unravel every once in a while, we just might find incredible treasures we once thought were lost.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Almost The Weekend

I keep encountering this common conversation at work that happens in office hallways and elevators. I’m sure you know this conversation: One person turns to the other and asks “How are you doing?” and the other slumps in exhaustion and goes on about how much work they have. Now , after this point, I’ve noticed that this conversation can go pretty much one of two ways among polite people; either the original person gives their sympathy for the second person’s hard week or they say something along the lines of “Well, It’s almost the weekend!”
I’ve found this “Almost the Weekend” conversation to so pervasive as well as amusing that I would sometimes experiment with my responses…such that I once got a coworker tell me on Monday, “Well the weekend is only a short 5 days away!”

How interesting that we as office workers spend 5 days a week wishing it was those magical two days a week!

Now that I’m starting to live life more fearlessly, I wonder how healthy this way of thinking is. Granted, I’ve heard the benefits of delayed gratification and certainly there seems to be no harm in looking forward to happy times when you are going through a particularly rough time…but is it really that healthy?

I remember this Ted Talk by Renee Brown where she talked about some of the principles of happiness and said that when we suppress one emotion, we suppress all of them. So when we deny yourself grief or anger, we're actually suppressing our ability to feel happiness and joy. She goes on to say that instead of denying our feelings, we should embrace them, accept them as a part of us and we would go a long way to being much more compassionate towards ourselves. That’s why she says the act of being vulnerable is essential to being happy.

I wonder if this applies to our sense of time as well.

Certainly I hear, all to often, that the coveted weekend was way to short and there wasn’t “enough” time to rest, recreate, ect… I wonder if we weren’t spending so much of our week wishing we were somewhere else, perhaps we wouldn’t be suffering from time going too fast.

I decided that I’m going to try an experiment: I’m going to plan to do something artistic, something magical, and poetic three times a day, while I'm at work. Instead of taking a coffee break or lunch break, I will work some sort of personal improvement into that time. Coupled with the fact that I’m trying to be more present at my job emotionally and mentally, I wonder if I could, in fact, slow down time and maybe not feel the sting of weekends passing from me too quickly.

I wonder if time is very much like the saying: Life is what you make it.

"Everything in your life is there as a vehicle for your transformation. Use it!" – Ram Dass

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Lungs and Logos

So here is the logo that I'm working on for my website and business cards. I may tweak it a little, but I like the image of bird lungs surrounded by bones. Air bounded in earth. Kind of a paradox, isn't it?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Life - (that pesky process of making your own way)

I know this has been a long process, but something hit me this weekend – I have very little worries in life now. It’s not that I don’t have difficulties, but it’s just that I’m choosing not to worry about them. I think it started when I first gave myself the allowance to walk away from people and situations that I don’t want to be around. The next step has been to not beat myself up for what stage of progress I’ve been in. We all learn at different paces. Sometimes I wonder why I take these months off painting, but then I realize I’m cleaning out a house with 10 years accumulated stuff in it, I’m working on losing 100lbs, and I’m putting as much overtime in that I can so I can save for the move out West…I’m doing a ton of work.

I look back at times when I had to work on life stuff and didn’t work on dream stuff and I realized I spent a lot of my energy berating myself for not being productive. It’s amazing to see that one of my biggest obstacles was myself…

And now that I’ve gotten out of the way of myself, life seems to move at a pretty beautiful rhythm.

In the last year, I’ve not only spent a lot of time culling my possessions, but friends as well. I realized that I had always gravitated towards people who were a little more selfish and demanding than most and I would spend a lot of my time worrying about how to please them. I often did this at the expense of myself. Once I figured out that I'm better off without those encumberments, I have a lot more time to work on the things I love.

It’s nice, actually. Most days I just chill on the porch, sketching or looking in my microscope, learning as much as I can about art and biology… I feel like parts of me I thought long gone are regenerating…

One wonderful thing I have been reading has been “The Element” by Sir Ken Robinson. I really recommend this for anyone who is involved in education (even students). I could summarize it in one sentence: Everyone should do what they feel is right. There’s more to it, though. The stories are so encouraging, so heartfelt, and for the first time I don’t feel like a freak for loving the weird things I do, or thinking the way I do. Robinson basically breaks down the fact that each of us has a uniquely developed intelligence and combining that with our unique perception of the world, he shows that each of us has something to contribute to the world. He also really emphasizes to educators that we shouldn’t fall into stereotypes when it comes to encouraging kids to think about careers. In the future, it will be probable that people will not only have multiple jobs, but multiple careers in one lifetime (due to readily available information and networking tools) So why are we teaching kids that they should just do one thing? Why are we limiting ourselves to just one career? Diversity and Creativity will be our greatest asset in the future…

It’s pretty amazing stuff, actually and it applies to so much. Often it is only ourselves that keeps us from our dreams. In the end, what grades you get and whether or not people think you’re successful doesn’t really matter. We have all read stories of people who force themselves to do “the right thing” whether it’s for financial stability or that it pleases their family, and they always end up regretting not living thier dreams. They always end up leaving the well-worn path to thier own personal one. Whatever the reason, if you hate what you are doing, none of your reasons will matter in the end. It’s just like Joseph Campbell says, “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.”

I sat for a long while and asked myself really, “What is my dream?” and it’s pretty much been the same thing since I could remember. I want to inspire people.

That’s it.

I just want to inspire others to be happy and think about beautiful things and I’ve pretty much spent 38 years chasing down what inspires me and figuring out why it does. Honestly, I have no idea if I will be an artist forever. I don’t even know if I will be able to make it as a professional, but I love it, so I’m going to try.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me for too long that I can’t or shouldn’t do things and I’ve just decided that I’m not going to listen to them…I think if someone shares with you thier dream, the best you can do is say go for it. Even if you think you know they will fall flat on their face, at least they will be doing something they love while falling. We all fall and make mistakes…I would think it’s much better to fall and be surrounded by self-satisfaction than loathing your decisions on top of your hardships.

My motto lately is if someone says “Hay maybe I can do this…”, I say “Go on and try it!”

Change cannot happen unless all of us go outside our comfort zone.

OK, so as I’m getting off this soap box, I just wanted to let you all know that I’m pretty much saying this for my benefit as well as sharing with all of you…the reason is that I’ve noticed a lot of people come up to me and try to tell me what I can or cannot do. I swear, some days I wish I had no sense of empathy so I could just block all of them out…but then again, that’s part of why I feel like it’s my job to encourage others.

So I say to all of you out there:

What is your dream?

Really, I’m serious, What is your dream?

….Now go on and try it.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Double Sexus

I had the pleasure of attending the Wexner exhibit featuring Nathalie Djurberg, Hans Bellmer, and Louise Bourgeois last week. I had heard it was an interesting exhibit on human sexuality, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the questions it raised. Honestly, I could go on and on about it, but for now, I’ll just share my sketchbook notes.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

News and Lungs

I have great news:

I have been officially accepted to The Academy of Art in San Francisco for their MFA in painting program!!

I'm so excited about the fact that I will get to paint for almost three years straight and I just can't believe this day has finally come...there are so many ideas of projects in and out of school that I want to tackle. Life is just a flurry of activity right now. My classes start January 2012 and I plan on documenting all this through my blog (Hopefully I will get a website up and running this summer!) So look forward to even more art flooding these pages.

My thesis is going to be looking at the connections between technology and art. Since I have a big fascination of all things biology, I'm probably going to have a heavy emphasis on Bio-technology in my paintings. I have a list of things I want to study over the summer: skeletal systems, stem cell research, genetics, and nanotechnology. I've already found some amazing stuff online.

Today, I happened to come across pictures of avian respiratory systems, via studying bone structure. Supposedly, avian lungs have a series of air sacs attached to their lungs which are connected to their bones. In some cases, over 50% of the bone mass is used for storing air! How fascinating, this idea of breathable bones....

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


I've been really enjoying reading this book about Mark Leffel (Oil Painting Secrets from a Master by Linda Cateura). In it, he talks about how to choose the focus of your piece first and start from there. Frankly, his form is a little more fast and loose that I'm used to, but I learned a lot from his book. I really recommend the section about how to put paint on canvas and his theories on shadow and light.

Last night, I went to hang out with the Monday Art Night crowd at Travonna and I decided I would just play around with a sketch, just something from my head, no reference photo. I started with the waterfall in the middle and worked my way out. It felt somewhat awkward, but I actually got more into the piece in the end. I'm learning, that going to school exposes me to a lot of different ways to approach a piece, but ultimately it's myself as an artist that chooses my own unique way to get to a piece. I had to laugh, because the metaphor of what I was drawing was so appropriate at the moment.

Like a waterfall, we all must meander and find a way in which our art flows. Each of us have our own unique course and maybe instead of worrying about "finding our own unique style", perhaps we should just get to the canvas and let it...well, flow, of course.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Portfoilio 2011

Portfoilio 2011

It's finally done! I have compiled my portfolio for graduate school and will be sending that off as soon as I can get this essay done. I have the complete list of works on the link above if any of you wanted to see.

Thank you all for your encouragement and critiques through all this!

(Now back to writing this essay...)

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Summer's View

Monday, 9 May 2011

The Two Oaks

Thursday, 28 April 2011


Yay! I'm finally done with the last portrait for the semester...and a class early, to boot. Here's Sarah's portrait, the amazing art model. (She's the only model I have known that can keep her face absolutely still for over an hour at a clip.)

Friday, 22 April 2011

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Lessons of Sycamore Trees

I picked up an old project that I started about a year ago, some ink sketches inspired by Sycamore tree bark, and I'm planning on using them somehow in the upcoming Papergirl Project that will be happening in Columbus May8.

If you want to check out more about the movement and what it stands for, check out this link:


While I was transferring images onto acetate, I noticed that this actually might make a good book. It kind of reminded me of the old medical textbooks with each page revealing a deeper level into the human body.

Anyway, it was fun playing around with this.

Now I'm off to learn silkscreening. Huzzah for new projects!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Green Tara

I've been working on this Green Tara sketch for a couple weeks during my lunch breaks as sort of this celebration of Spring. As the Tibetan Goddess of all love and growth. I thought she would be a fitting goddess to work with right now.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Sum Of Her Parts

Sum of Her Parts

I have always been impressed with the phrase:

"She is more than the sum of her parts"

As if each of us are made up of blocks

Easily stackable

and easy to dismantle

Yet, even though you count

All of the digits -

Fingers, toes, eyes

Legs, Kidneys, Ears, and teeth

There is just something more

Even if you dissect each of her memories

Write them all down

Years by hours by decades

There would still be something left over

Something you missed

Like the moments she stole

Before work, to smell the spring air

Or that smile she gave to the

Person sitting across the bus

Moments upon moments

The in between times

That seem to slip by immeasurably

And even though

People try to "size" her up

There is always so much

Left unaccounted for

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Thursday, 10 March 2011

Portrait Painting Class - Matthew cont.

I'm really starting to like this new way of taking my time with each piece. I finally finished the face and neck last night (3rd layer) and while I know I could do more, I think I'm going to focus on finishing up the piece next class. There is a point where you can overwork a portrait and I don't want to do that.
I was impressed at how well the mix of Ultramarine Blue and Raw Sienna compliments Matthew's skin tones. I think the blue grey background fits nicely, especially since I will be working in the blue shirt he is wearing in next week's class.

Besides the fascination with technique, the whole aspect of realism painting is becoming very zen for me. My painting time each week is turning into this haven of calm...something I look forward to. I laughed and called it "my form of Nirvana" the other day, but it's really becoming true: I just "feel" better when I paint. You can't really think about your life and the world around you while you are there in front of the canvas. There is just too much that goes into thinking about color, form, and how everything is relating to each other. Honestly, I can't think of anything else that compares to it...maybe yoga.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Portrait Painting Class - Matthew cont.

Last night we worked on continuing with Matthew's portrait. I have a good solid second layer and was able to get the eyes in. I found that using a flesh toned green (yellow ochre + cobalt) works really well in bringing out the orange tones around the outside of his eyes. I also found the cool layers of skin where the stubble was forming around the mouth was also particularly challenging. It's pretty easy to go too dark too fast, and forget that the upper lip, while a cool shadow, is still pretty light because it's reflecting the light. I think I had to go over that area almost 5 times before I got it right.

In all, I'm really pleased where this piece is going. I'm looking forward to next week where I can get in the greater highlights and work on the wrinkles in the neck and face.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Sh The Moon...Sh...Sh...The Moon

Sh The Moon...Sh...Sh...The Moon

(by Kasinda Shafer & Christina Marvel)

Do you Worship
That which you do not

Smoke rising from the
Fumblings of an
Imperfect dance

Bloodied rags of

Rivers of anguish
Rolling past regrets
Petulant servitude

Do you heap all
That upon your
Prostrate body?

Do you worship the
Struggle to "make it work"
The anguished leanings
To fit a face in the
Of Commercialism

What is Normal?
What is acceptable?

Do you strain your heart
To the rhythm of car alarms
Street Signs
The walking of foot traffic
Heading to their daylight

What do you worship?
What do you obey?

I see all these machinations under
The moons and I shout

"Not for me!"

I gather my pulled power
Around my shoulders
Like the cloak of a
Moonlit night

Around me are the
Celestial bodies of
My thoughts

My heart beating the
Movement of the cosmos

I walk into the night
I whisper "Sh...the moon...Sh..Sh...the moon"

(We are all stardust...)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Portrait Painting Class - Matthew

I was able to get the first layer down for my portrait class tonight. We had an incredible lecture on color and how to paint light, so I will be trying to write down all my notes and get that into it's own separate blog entry.

For now, I'm going to crash. Getting up at 6 am to sketch comes pretty early.

Tally ho!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Oishi Renkei

There is a space between
Your breath and my breath
Where limitless possibilities collide

What can we say about connection
But that it is a collaboration
Of souls:
A Storm created
By the updrafts of love.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

More to come...


Lonely is the road you do not wish to travel on
Lonely is the life you do not wish to live
Lonely is the day you feel that has slipped from your grasp


Perhaps it only takes one step
Off the beaten path
To find

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Zen and the Art of Measured Drawing

I have now dubbed my professor Doug Norman the Zen Master of Measured Drawing. I don’t know if it has anything to do with his skills, per say, but this man just really exudes calm when he creates a class…and I mean creating, because there is a way that a teacher can create a beautiful environment for learning. He’s always telling us to slow down our process. Don’t jump the gun; Stick with the structure until you’re absolutely sure it’s correct; Always compare; Always measure.
I was thinking about this last night and realized that I often rush my pieces because sometimes I get so excited and I’m afraid I might lose something…some insight or color, that I rush to capture it all and miss some critical details. While this works well for writing a poem, it does not work well for measured drawing. It uses a completely different part of the brain, in fact.
This had me thinking about mental space last night and how I could cultivate a sense of patience in my artwork and I thought about making this mental “bubble” of sorts when I approach painting. It was kind of like convincing myself that I’ve just entered this magical land where time and schedules and responsibility does not exist for a moment….
And the funniest thing happened…I stopped stressing about the drawing. I just experienced it.
To many, I’m sure this comes very easy, but I really had to draw from my experiences with meditation and yoga to try and cultivate this…but once I did, it was well worth it.
I’m starting to see art as an experience, not just me creating works…and from that sense of gratitude; I have found there truly is a Zen to measured drawing.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Sepia Love

Some days I can smell
The rich oaken scent
Before the ink pot is even opened;
While pens and brushes are singing
For a pair of hands,
A gentle eye.

It always makes me tremble
To see the beauty
In one strong line
Etchings into paper

Space within space
Forms rising from nothingness…

I am overcome.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Oishi Renkei

I am now working on a new experiment in shape, color, and form as representation of spiritual principles. This is Oishi Renkei...the delicious connection we have with others, and not just a connection, but the ability to "work together on a shared vision".

I feel so incredibly lucky that this muse came upon me late last afternoon.

I will post more as it becomes a finished piece....

Sunday, 30 January 2011



The sunset brings a heavy sigh
From cold lips rising to dried rose hips
Dusty with last year's fall clinging to dried red pods
A. Gentle. Kiss

The ocher leaves seem to crumble
Under the weight of this late winter sunset
Like the heavy beats of my heart
In. This. Moment.

A soft grieving of daylight
Lays on my fingertips
And I urge to capture this moment
A. Futile. Attempt.

I mimic sunlight and tree
But there is a loss of the sounds
Of my nervous system
A. Lost. Heartbeat.

In some ways I feel lucky
Lost in one mad moment
I am alone in this wildness, yet
Not. So. Far

From many of you
Lost in your mad moments
With breaking hearts in
A. Perishable. Paradise.

Monday, 17 January 2011


I think this is all the time I'm spending on this one. I wanted to see if I could transfer an oil painting solely from a sketch. While I learned a lot about value, I think I lost some essential information by not having the model there as inspiration. It was like having to resurrect the stories of a person when all you have is a stack of old photos....not very truthful in the end, even if the journey was fun.

So it seems I'm a little behind my goals for last month, so I have some catching up to do. I'm kind of excited to work on a city piece now....it's a diversion, really, while I figure out what still life I'm going to do this week...

I'm debating on flowers.

Friday, 14 January 2011

The week is almost over....

Tea Break

Some days just seem to take me
Morning rushing into the office
Bits of sleep-smell quilts still clinging to my face
Bodies like machines, churning works
And wonders
And I don’t get to feel right again until
That mid-day break.
The moment opens like a door
Fast scented smells of roasting coffee and tomato soup
Reaching greedy hands into my brain, urging
To take a space, a time, a small window
To smile
To stare out
At grey skies, the bicycles, the bodies
And wonder at all the other
Machines rolling on through their day.

Yes, some days just seem to take me
But I escape,
Often into paint, tea, and dreams
(In no particular order)
And the moment of escape is so soft
So inviting
That I cannot help but be thankful
Of the chance to have something to escape from.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Snow Day

There is a moment during the first snow fall
Not the light dances of flakes that happen in December
But the glorious world-stopping storms of January;
The first thick blanket that descends from the grey sky gods
As you snuggle in golden homes
Brightly tucked in with the whistling songs of Borealis
With cats curled like pill bugs
And steaming mugs that warm a smile on your face.
It is a moment full of reconnection
Full of letter writing, old movies, pictures pulled out of boxes
A time of memories and sadness, but happiness too
Because it’s this first blanket that marks the end of things
And also a beginning:
A darkening of last years plants and plans
So that in the spring, under dark decay
New growth can sprout anew.