A beginning of sorts.

If you are scrolling through here, you will notice that my style is usually cartoony and simplistic.

I would like to say it is by design, and in the sense that I didn’t work to develop it otherwise is true… but in reality it is just how I see things and what my hand gives me when I try to share my thoughts with drawing.

Proof that it is not a developed skill rests in one of the ironies of my simple style.

While I love Ukiyo-E and the single brush stroke pen and ink drawings of the masters of Nippon… I have not developed the skill to replicate them. AND IT IS ENDLESSLY FRUSTRATING TO ME.

That said, lacking skill never stops and homage from me, and the one I am posting today. A simple crane against a red setting sun next to a stand of bamboo.

Crane
Crane

I post it with apologies to the masters who have done this theme so much better, but also with thanks and appreciation for showing me beauty and elegance, even if replicating it is beyond my skills.

Cernunnos Resting

Todays image is another more doodle type drawing.

I may do it again as a straight pen and ink, but the title is “Cernunnos Resting”, and is a portrait of the Green Man just after making his rounds to fertilize the forests.

The Horned God is depicted sitting under a tree holding his Torc in his right hand and a snake with Rams horns in his left. He is flaccid, not for impotence, but to symbolize this being after the great fertilization of spring. He is surrounded by a rat, rabbit, deer, bull, and wolf. All in them selves symbols of nature, strength and fertility.

Cernunnos Resting

The drawing was done with fine-liners and colored with markers. More important than the art itself in this case is that we don’t lose this symbolism (which anyone familiar with Celtic history/ruins will recognize from cave art and ancient European artifacts).

It is a reminder that Europe too had nature based religions that kept us in touch with the cycles of the earth before Rome and the Catholic Church eradicated them just like every other culture touched by them.

I don’t pretend to know the truth about what Gods there are, and how they rank and whatnot, but I have no doubt that humans and their relationship with the planet earth (and each other) will dramatically improve if we get back into rhythm with its life cycles and patterns.

Worm Porn

This is one I drew a couple years ago during #inktober #drawlloween or whichever prompt based drawing challenge that I was working on. The prompt was nightcrawler.

Yes, I know that during a drawing challenge around Halloween, it is far more likely that they were looking for the cryptid from Fresno known for its short stature, long legs, and tiny upper body.

I also know that the Fresno Nightcrawler (or Fresno Alien) is probably the dumbest of all the cryptids. maybe even dumber than if you randomly combined two others and started a family for them.

On the other hand, who doesn’t love coming outside after a good rain and finding earthworms fucking in their yard?

Plus it was a good thing to draw while I was learning to shade with water color brush pens, and to work on using white gel pens to fake up some moisture.

worm porn
Worm Porn

Also, this was way more fun to draw than made sense. It was probably just my rotten core enjoying making a mockery of the prompt. A big part of my wiring is non cooperation for no good reason.

Murder Hawk

As I began my walk through at work today, I noticed more feathers than normal.

feathers on ground
Feathers on Ground

I thought, “Man those look like one of the pigeons got hit or something.”

pigeon feathers on ground
Pigeon Feathers on Ground

“Or looking at the blood, maybe a hawk got them.”

Blood drops and feathers
Blood drops and feathers

As I turn to the right I wonder, “Is it still hanging out?”

Red Tailed Hawk looking away
Red Tailed Hawk looking away

As the Hawk turns to announce that yes, she is.

Red Tailed Hawk profile
Red Tailed Hawk

I see those feathers, and OH! I may have missed the Hawk committing the murder, but I did find some incriminating evidence. Once again an animal looks at me like, “ARE YOU REALLY TAKING MY PIC WHILE I AM EATING?”

Red Tailed Hawk standing over its Breakfast Squab
Red Tailed Hawk standing over its Breakfast Squab

And while I was getting the last shot to confirm species… that Murder Hawk shook its tail feathers some.

Red Tailed Hawk Tail feather view
Red Tailed Hawk Tail feather view

Images that shape your mind.

There are some images you see as a child, that truly shape who you are. Whatever the reason for it, the minute you see the image it becomes seared into your psyche and is referenced in your decision making process for the rest of your life.

For me that image was a black refrigerator magnet with a grey/silver drawing on it. It was a poured item and the drawn lines on it were raised from the background. The image was of an owl swooping down on a mouse. The mouse held a pistol behind his back. Underneath it said, “That’s confidence.”

I have spent an unreasonable amount of time thinking about this. Not to mention the amount of time I spent trying to draw it. In my mind the pistol, and even the notion of fighting back disappeared over time.

The idea of it representing confidence even became nonsense. Seriously, no gun that a creature the size of a mouse could hold and fire would ever be able to stop, let alone kill an inbound owl with hunger on its mind.

And as I got older and became aware of philosophies like stoicism and transcendentalism… I adopted ideas like “no fear, no regrets” and chose to live my life by them. Pirate concepts like “No quarter asked, and none given” became my rallying cry.

When I look back at the directions I took philosophically. It is all rooted in that image.

Well I replaced the mouse’s gun with a middle finger, and instead of staring at the owl, he is looking off to the side, to whatever it is that he wants to look at.

His death isn’t important. The way he is choosing to live is.

“Elige Bene Mori” 18×24 Goauche on watercolor paper

“Elige Bene Mori” is latin for choose a good death. I encourage you to embrace this notion and hold it close to your heart. The original painting in gouache on watercolor paper is not currently for sale, but you can purchase prints of it through my account at Fine Art America, HERE.

Zen art, nature, and Ukiyo-E

Outside the fine art and historical world, most of the interest and support for Ukiyo-E is in the Manga community. The positive there is that comic books and anime are constantly drawing young eyes to a much broader world of expression (just like they have always done). The negative is that a great deal of beautiful work gets ignored in favor of battle scenes, yokai, and other more graphic forms.

As for myself, my first exposures to Ukiyo-E came through an interest in Buddhist art, and an attraction to the simple elegance of Japanese art in general.

Some of the most under rated Ukiyo-E images are portrayals of nature. This is the point where a more scholarly sort would talk about the development of the style and how it came to Japan through mimicking the Chinese style of landscape and so on…but I am not here to provide art history so much as to talk about the art I am presenting.

At any rate, I do not attempt much in the way of nature art…for reasons previously discussed in a post about an oil I did (Painting hard feelings). The painting I am posting today is an exception to that and I kind of painted myself into a corner with the need to do it when I decided to do a series based on Ukiyo-E.

The reason I felt like it had to be done is because no nod to Japanese art and beauty could ever be complete without several subjects being covered. Amongst them would be Samurai, Geisha, Buddhism, Mount Fuji, and of course Cherry blossoms. In this series, so far I have addresses all but Mount Fuji… and of the ones completed I have shared all but one of a Geisha here on this website, after this post of course.

Todays painting is titled “Sparrow and Cherry Blossom” and is simple image of a sparrow perched on a cherry branch in bloom.

Sparrow and Cherry Blossom

“Sparrow and Cherry Blossom” is an 18×24 gouache painting on watercolor paper. The original piece and prints are available here.

An abstract piece

Since the last piece touched a bit on mental illness, I figure we can take a look at another one of my oils that has roots in the subject.

The abstract piece in question is titled, “BiPolar: Darkness eating the light”

BiPolar: Darkness eating the Light

I want to preface this by saying the number of people around me who are medically diagnosed with some level of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder has lead me to believe that all of us are somewhere on that spectrum. Some people are better than others at integrating that type of mental function into their lives and some people have brain chemistry that doesn’t allow for it without treatment.

Living close to someone who is on an end of the bipolar spectrum that does not allow any behavioral control mechanisms to work, and is disruptive even when they are medicated (and is anyone with bipolar disorder really ever properly medicated?) can be challenging to say the least.

To watch someone whose inner light shines so brightly part of the time, hide in the very shadows their light creates, and actively work to destroy themselves is emotionally crushing. I can only imagine how it feels to them.

And after living with someone who was severely bipolar for a short while, I did this painting, that I don’t imagine the visuals need much explanation beyond that narrative.

As for the subject of this painting, I hope you are out there doing better. I also hope our culture adopts a better attitude towards mental health. Our current structures and approaches don’t begin to match the challenges people face.

This piece is a 24×12 oil on canvas board. It is for sale, but I have yet to put a price on it as I feel its value to me may be a bit rich.