The painting I am putting up today is one of the first ten or so oils I painted.
The style is undeveloped, and I still had not (not that I ever excelled at it) learned to show depth with color and shadow.
What I did know how to do was conceptually explore my mental state and where I was at a particular time in such a way that just a glance at the image reminds me of where I had arrived.
This painting is emblematic of part of my personality and personal philosophy that makes most people uncomfortable. It is a traditional oil on a 16×20 stretched canvas.
At an early age I figured out (by rough experience) that the people or things you idolize and/worship are not only seldom worthy of even your adoration, let alone being placed on a pedestal; no, most of them are not even worthy of being in your life.
And once you recognize that they are not, they should be removed. In this case by pushing them far away on a space bridge and then into a giant hell furnace while the moon smiles on.
So make the moon happy, analyze your idols and get rid of the ones that don’t fit. Be careful though, it is addictive and at a certain point purging gets lonely.
Pro-tip for that- there are 9 billion people on the planet, they can’t all suck, and you don’t have to idolize them.
The image I am sharing today is from my sketchbook.
I was playing around with crypto critters, and thinking about the various forms that Wendigo take. From that I mixed it up with the traditional vampire… like Nosferatu instead of the mildly depressed great lover with fangs that the big screen loves so much these days.
And what I came up with was this wretched little creature.
This one isn’t anything special. Just a 12×9 pen and ink, colored with sharpies, a white gel, and brush pens.
The painting I am posting today was done towards then end of my experiments with oil. It is a piece that is based in my personal exploration with philosophy. It is a nod to mathematical beauty, and to important art that my work does not measure up to. It hangs in my living room, and probably always will.
The image is named Vitrunacci Vortex.
Vitrunacci being a made up compound word from the roots Vitruvian and Fibonacci.
Vitruvian is a reference to Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man”. His famous study of human proportion and symmetry. This was used to represent the “everyman” and was intentionally drawn as the four major races to emphasize that.
And Fibonacci is the mathematician and the numerical sequence (which the first recorded discovery of was actually in India) that is named after him. The series is created by starting with 1, and adding the two most recent numbers together to get the next. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, and so on. That sequence is the basis for the golden ratio, or in the case of this painting the golden spiral.
The last core element is this painting is the blending and ebb and tide of the four seasons represented by red, white, blue, and yellow spirals. They symbolize life’s repeated patterns of growth, work, harvest, and death/birth/bardo (spring, summer, fall, and winter respectively). This is overlaid with the black spiral that represents one mans path through time.
So basically this painting is (one of many abstracts that) represents my view of the order of the universe, and is in a visual shorthand that is probably only useful to remind me when I am struggling to stay on my particular path.
Vitrunacci Vortex is a 4 foot by 4 foot oil on stretched canvas. I would consider selling it, but it would take a dear offer.
One of the reasons I do shirt designs, is because I think I am wittier than I really am…and I like to share what is clearly a warped sense of humor.
The one I am sharing today is proof of both, and further supports the name “The Sickest of Them All”.
When those turd movies came out remaking a show that I grew up on, an idea formed.
What if someone redid Charlies Angels with Charlie being Charles Manson?
Yeah I know, it would be horror show of psychological train wrecks and poorly executed graphic violence.
Now that I put it that way, I want the show to exist even more.
Anyway, I followed the thought to its logical conclusion and made the mash up logo of the century.
Removing the Angels guns and replacing them with knives to match the ladies that loved Charlie, then putting one of his better known images in the overlay, and adding some shitty 70’s looking blast lines. Woolah.
You remember when I confessed to loving Bigfoot? Well there may have been more to that story. OK, there is more to that story.
I love Cryptids period.
Cryptozoology is fun. I not only enjoy it, cryptozoology and anthropomorphized animals probably make up half of my sketches. If nothing else, the two of them have a huge Venn overlap with old world religions….so they are a space I relish.
One of the most famous creatures that falls into both categories is the mermaid.
It is also one of the most frequently drawn.
But it is all too often drawn as a very attractive woman with a fish tail.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to draw tittays as much as the next guy… but there really aren’t a lot of legends where mermaids actually are fish tailed hotties.
Almost all of the seafaring stories of mermaids and sirens involves sailors hearing beautiful voices or thinking they see beautiful fish girls… only to find that it was a bunch of gnarly old hags luring them on to the rocks.
But that is a bit of digression.
One of the coolest mermaids was made famous by none other than the greatest Humbug (aka con man) of all time. P.T. Barnum.
That would be the one known as the FeeJee Mermaid. I won’t go into a ton of detail about it here, because that isn’t what this site is…and there are already tons of references online if you want to check it out.
What I will do is share a marker drawing I did of it.
Not a great drawing, but it sure was fun to draw…and I liked it in concept enough that I reworked it digitally and designed a Tee Shirt of it in honor of PT Barnum’s show and museum.
I feel like I have been putting up a lot of serious stuff lately, so for my Saturday post I want to share a fun drawing I did.
This one started out just sketching an eyeball. When the orb of the eye started filling out it morphed into a beholder.
Like I mentioned in the first Dungeons and Dragons picture I posted, I could not just draw a beholder the same as they have been portrayed by everyone else. So I gave it more pronounced pincers and some tentacles to give it a floaty feel.
One of my friends pointed out that it looked like my beholder was a mutation with another DnD monster called the Eye of the Deep, which is completely fair.
Either way, this drawing is a pen and ink with watercolor brush pens for color on bristol.
Some of my most emotional paintings and drawings have very little and sometimes nothing to do with me. They are expressions of empathy.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am an “empath” or some kind of weird woo woo shit. But I do believe that there is a bit of a collective energy in whatever space you are in.
During the pandemic, I think we all got caught up in a bit of an emotional feedback loop. And it was not overwhelmingly positive.
For me the key to dealing with it was expression. I found ways of burrowing into my mind and channeling whatever I found onto paper. Then end result of that was that I have been as creative in the last year as I have ever been in my life.
The mid range result of that is I created a lot of dark images.
Which brings us to todays work. I saw a lot of people pushed to the breaking point over the last year and that too found its way onto paper…
This piece is done with sharpies, brush pens, and of course a white gel pen.
I have the original and it is for sale for $150.
You can also get a print of “Shattered” in 5×7 or 8×10 at my etsy store.
It was done right around when my father was dying, another relationship that I valued very deeply was falling apart, and another (that persevered) was greatly challenged by all of that suffering.
Like with most of the things I create, I let the feelings come out through my hand.
Artistically this one is different because I don’t do a lot of still life, nor do I do a lot of flowers. I don’t have any negative opinions about either type of painting. I just don’t like doing still life in general, and well I seldom feel like a flower is done justice in my artwork.
I do intend to challenge myself with flowers in the near term, in my personal journey I have learned to see them differently, and I am curious how that will translate through my hand.
That said, todays image is …
This 18×24 oil on canvas board currently hangs in my office. While it could be sold, I would have to be enticed to part with it.
Currently it reminds me how good things are, by reminding me of the darker places I have been.
If you wanted to acquire a print of it, they are available in my Etsy Shop, “Art by TSOTA” in both 5×7 and 8×10.
The next piece I am going to talk about is the one that caused me to rethink selling my artwork.
For years I have had people telling me I should sell some prints, and I have had multiple requests to buy paintings. Since the images I create are primarily about me processing mental hardship or exorcising images from my brain, the idea never really resonated with me.
I want to draw just to draw. Besides, like most creatives I am self critical and don’t think my work is “worthy” of sale. Which is nonsense for all of us. The worst piece of art has more value than any symbol of financial wealth. Self expression may be the only thing humans do that is worthwhile.
Anyway, a while back I decided it was good enough to make some t-shirt designs….if nothing else so I could have tee shirts with stuff I wanted on them. So I made my tee public store Madman Designs.
That experience was enough to get me over the basic hump…and playing with it for a while convinced me I could do this without turning it into a job. Which is still true, so far.
Then I was talking to one of my working artist friends about a large project I want to do, and talking about the ‘how to’ of taking it on. He gave me a lot of good advice during that conversation, and part of that advice was that with my drawing style, gouache may be a good medium for me. This was especially true since gouache has unique finish that is well suited to that project.
I had never even heard of gouache, but valuing his judgement I looked into it and became interested in trying it.
So I decided to do a painting in the style of the larger project with gouache.
That painting is…
Imperturbable is my attempt to mimic the style of Ukiyo-E wood block prints.
This one in particular is of a Buddhist monk, holding the jewel of enlightenment in meditation and being unfazed by the storms of life, represented by a red dragon swirling around him. Important symbolism in this image is the fact that the dragon is looking past him, as for all the chaos he creates, the dragon has no ill intent towards the monk, the two simply exist in the same space.
All thoughts worthy of spending time thinking about, in my opinion.
I intend to do many more pieces in this style, and I hope that all of them capture my vision as well as this one did.
The original of this is an 18×24 gouache painting on 300 g watercolor paper, and is for sale for $350 plus shipping for whatever method we settle on.
If you would like a print of “Imperturbable”, it is available through my etsy page, in both 5×7 and 8×10. You can also contact me directly for an 13×19 version, that I haven’t worked out how I want to ship it yet.
It is very fitting that this was the first print I have ever sold as this work is personally representative of a new beginning for me in more than ‘just’ art.