The Whisper, digital drawing, 18×26″ @300 dpi. 3/7/2023.

This is me going back to my roots. The approach, style, technique, and subject matter are all my personal developments, characteristics, or innovations. There’s no AI, no appropriation, no references, no photo-bashing, no filters, no uploaded sculpts, no gimmick… It’s essentially just drawing from my imagination. I don’t know that you can get any more self-reliant then drawing directly and only from your imagination. And part of the reason I am doing this at this particular junction is in reaction to the crushing tsunami of AI art that has flooded all of social media. This is 100% human art. It’s also highly individual. Nobody else working from their imagination and whatever skills they’ve accumulated are going to come up with the same imagery and manifested in the same fashion.

Does it matter that this is human and not AI? AI can certainly do things like this. But is there a difference? I’m not going to interpret this one, partly because I don’t even know what a lot of it is about. It’s welling up from the sub/unconscious, isn’t it? But certainly that giant, lidless eye has to do with self-aware consciousness, and the human spirit. Is a human’s artistic manifestation of the human spirit distinguishable from the creations of AI?

If an alien civilization discovered this image, could they tell the artist was conscious?

I made the charcoal drawing below in a drawing class in community college over 3 decades ago. It’s the same essential technique, and has a very similar feel. In the physical form it was a combination of drawing and erasing, whereas in the digital I switch between drawing with black and white. Would you guess these two pieces were are by the same artist?

Smoker in the street, charcoal drawing, 18×24″, 1986?

My teacher at the time, Milton Hirschl, was himself an expressionist painter who introduced me to the art of Francis Bacon. He was the only teacher in my entire college career through graduate school who appreciated or encouraged this type of work from me. Others immediately shut me down for it. How do you teach someone who works from his imagination with no plan or orthodox approach? But the reason I’m sharing this old drawing is just to show what I mean about going back to my roots. It was not my only early approach or orientation, but perhaps the chief one. Even going back to my early childhood, I always preferred to work from my imagination.

Above, when zoomed in, the overlap with my early charcoal drawings is much more obvious. It even has the texture of erased paper. You can also see in my layers palette that the topmost layer is numbered 98. That indicates I’ve used that many layers in producing the image. This is an advantage over working physically. I’ll never erase through the paper, and I can work on stacks of semi-transparent layers, etc. This is a kind of best of both worlds where I can use a traditional approach that has a very physical feel — I am drawing it all with a stylus on a tablet which I have on my lap, and it is experientially virtually the same sensation/experience as physical drawing — but I have the added advantage of endless potential editing and tinkering.

Below, you can see how organic my process is for this type of project. On the left an early version of the drawing, and the completed version on the right. The image slowly emerges, is altered and refined. By the way, for the anti-digital art people who occasionally visit my blog, no, you can’t do this sort of imagery if you can’t draw, full stop.

This kind of art is not only diametrically opposed to using AI to draw/paint one’s art for one, it’s anathema to contemporary art and theory as well. We live in the era of The Death of the Author, where the idea of originality, authenticity, transcendence, skill, talent, and using the imagination are sidelined as redundant fantasies, and are mocked. From Warhol to Koons, Hirst, Richard Prince, Sherrie Levine, Martin Creed, Maurizio Cattelan, and a host of others, the accepted framework is appropriating content, and using mechanical production or hiring out to have someone or something else manufacture the art.

I can do all kinds of art, and in art school my modus operandi was to try to beat my instructors at their own game, so to speak. Really just to compete according to their rubric, not mine. That insured I learned the most from them. But I was never able to do what I really wanted to, indeed I was prevented from it. That did have the advantage of sorts of breaking me completely out of my mold, and forcing me to create in any possible way. This core style for me is now one of many styles and approaches I incorporate. But when it comes right down to it, I’m a drawer/painter, whether I work digitally or physically.

I think the reality is that there are different types of artists with different interests, strengths, proclivities, and so on. For this type of work, the artists I have the most in common with are people like Beksinski, Giger, Ernst Fuchs, Alex Grey… none of whom I ever encountered even once in art school.

I’ll leave it there. I’m planning this month to make 2 more B&W images of this ilk, and then choose the best one and make a color digital painting from it. Something a bit different but in the same general ballpark I’d like to explore is starting with an idea before making the image, rather than leaving it completely up to the process. I’ve already made a list of ideas. But for now, a few more works in this vein. One month at a time.

~ Ends

32 replies on “New Art: The Whisper

    1. Thanks, Stuart. I think maybe because you do a lot of B&W photography, you are a connoisseur of B&W images and able to perceive the subtle permutations of composition, contrast, form, and so on. Glad you dig it!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I really like what you wrote about creating from your imagination, your art is unique just because of that. I also feel that every person can develop their own art, humans are irrepetibles, uniques, have different perspectives, approaches from life, therefore can create in very different ways, unlike AI that copies, and integrates different styles that already existed, that were created by humans after all.

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      1. Thank you and yes I do work with my imagination a lot, I also like very much your previous article about how you develop your work and see the images that appear in your drawings, very cool.

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  2. I just said this to another artist I follow, and I’ll say it to you: I’m really drawn to monochrome work, because it’s something I really struggle with. Without colour I’m a bit lost. Things have a tendency to look a bit flat whenever I try black and white. I don’t lose sleep over it or anything- as you pointed out yourself in the post above, different artists have strengths in different areas. But I do have an appreciation for those that can produce good ( subjective, I know, but …y’know) monochrome work.

    Digging the cyclops alien creature here, anyway. Makes me think I should draw from my imagination more. I don’t have anything against using references- they can help me achieve what I’m seeing in my mind’s eye. But it’s something I can again appreciate. Funnily enough, it’s dawned on me as I write this that I never use references when I’m making my 3D ( sculpted) critters and characters. Not sure why it freaks me out so much to do that with drawing then? Weird.

    As I’ve mentioned before, analysis of art isn’t really my forte- not because art never means anything to me; it does. But I guess I have a hard time translating into words what’s being conveyed to me via visual language. If I were to try here, I’d say that perhaps the eye is a metaphor for clarity and knowing. This one huge eye sees all, whereas the owner of the milky eye looking at Mr. one-eye ( sounds quite rude, hurr hurr) can’t “see” what his companion is seeing at all. But maybe he “sees” – in his mind’s “eye”- things the other can’t. Ugh, what am I trying to say? I guess I mean there are different ways and forms of “knowing”. Knowing and seeing something because you literally see it, then an “inner knowing” ie an intuitive knowing that defies logical explanation. I dunno. That’s my personal and extremely subjective take on it, anyway.

    I do kinda like to just use my eyes without analysing the image too much, too. But then, to contradict myself, it makes me think of the way people often see loads of eyeballs on DMT ( as depicted by Alex Grey). Recently heard Dr David Luke talk about a DMT entity he encountered which was essentially a mass of tentacles covered in eyeballs. Even when you don’t SEE an entity on DMT, it’s common for people to feel as though they’re being watched by something. I sure felt this when I recently dipped my toes into the DMT realm for the first time.

    When you said ( re: your experiences studying art formally) : “..But I was never able to do what I really wanted to, indeed I was prevented from it.” this struck a chord. You probably went to a better art school than I did ( in my very short stint at uni before I realised it wasn’t my thing), but I found that, in painting at least, we were pretty much left to our own devices. You’d think this would be liberating, but it wasn’t. I WANTED to learn technique; I wanted some practical and useful advice…but none was ever forthcoming. Plenty of criticism, though! Mostly in regards to the opinions we were and weren’t allowed to express. The only areas in which I felt I was really learning anything useful was in the photography and film/ media departments. SO wish I had have pursued those further. Oh well.

    I do want to express my appreciation here for the fact that you’re not an elitist prick about the fact you’ve studied art formally. As you know, I have NOT obtained a degree…in anything. So I appreciate the fact you make people like myself feel comfortable expressing an opinion, and that you’re not condescending about it. I do generally find that people who have some actual skill and natural talent tend to be the ones NOT needing to go to great lengths to prove it.

    ( Saying this because I just had a fucking RIDICULOUS conversation on another blog in which a simple statement I made – specifically that experimentation can help to remove oneself from a creative rut- devolved into this desperate posturing on their end- the justification being that they have an art degree and I don’t. I won’t link the artwork discussed – although I’m tempted to- because that’d be needlessly nasty, but let’s just say it serves as the perfect example of how the ones with the superiority complexes are generally the ones who can least justify it. This person actually removed one of my comments and replaced it with their own words, too. This is how insecure and threatened some people are when you have the audacity to suggest, or- god forbid- prove- that it’s possible to develop one’s skills without a degree. )

    Shit- sorry. Just realised how long this comment is, and I don’t even feel I’ve said much of anything. Don’t feel compelled to have to respond. Hopefully you’ll get around to reading it sometime, though.

    Will comment on your previous post as soon as I have the mental energy. Lots I want to say but the brain isn’t firing on all cylinders this last week or so. Anyway, was cool to see more of your work.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ah, I quite enjoyed the long-form comment. It’s kind of rare to get them. Maybe I’m not a snob about getting degrees in art because, other than my early community college experience, I really had a hard time of it, and my years in graduate school were perhaps the worst in my life. In fact, it’s taken me decades to completely untangle all the BS anti-art theory, pseudo-scientific gobbledygook, and spurious political indoctrination I went through. And when I was an undergrad, I got a $10k fellowship based on a juried exhibition of my art. So, I won people over, but I had to overcome a lot of antipathy. But that’s as an undergrad. When I got to grad school, well, I entered a radical political discourse in which I need not have applied because of my biology. I could work in any style or medium and perform well, but I could not change my DNA. I grad school my only viable option was to make political, conceptual art “deconstructing [my] white male privilege”. Perhaps for another person that would be a suitable artistic path, but such a journey of self-abnegation and forsaking of artistic skill and imagination had no appeal to me. In short, when you hate your education, and it destroyed your career, it’s easy to not be a snob about how wonderful and essential and nourishing it was.

      And so, rather like you, I consider myself kind of self-taught, which I undoubtedly was in my formative years. Only if I make conspicuously modernist/contemporary art that is NOT rooted in painting and drawing does my education have much relevance to my art at all beyond community college. Rather, most everything I’ve done in the last decade goes completely against the majority of my education. This piece, for example, would be laughed out of the classroom, and my classmates would have found some way to slam it as misogynist, racist, and colonialist, because anything I produced simply had to be that, because that would be the inevitable outcome of someone of my biology expressing any inner content, or so they insistently believed with passion, scowls, and biting attacks. In fact, most my education on the grad level was purely in identity politics, political correctness, and what is today known as “wokeness”. I hardly considered it an art education at all.

      I had the same issue as you in college as regards technique. I was working in this kind of style when I transferred to UCLA as an undergrad. And I was making acrylic paintings. What I really wanted to learn was how just how to do the same thing in oils. I NEVER learned it. Just as you say, there was a lot of discussion about ideas and beliefs, and precious little about technique. My first painting teacher at UCLA told me I’d never make it to grad school, and gave me a B- in the class, because I worked figuratively, and she was at the time an abstract artist (she has since gone to figuration).

      Your interpretation is really good. I myself don’t know what it means, because I just let it well up from the subconscious, like a dream. But I did have precisely the same thoughts about the respective figures and ways of seeing and being aware. The head of the figure with no pupils is splitting open, and it may be a metaphoric rather than a literal seeing. He also may be dead. Rather, I’m after the whole image having a sense of being haunted. Can I imbue a drawing with an emergent sense or quality of presence? As opposed to the works of AI, which are entirely products of unconscious calculation, does it matter that my work is by a conscious entity with consciousness at the subject matter?

      Artists, poets, and musicians are increasingly now having to contend with AI – a vastly superior form of intelligence in many regards – and so I am trying to distinguish the essential trait of human versus AI art. I’m also going into the ring with other artists who rely on digital super intelligence to make their work, but I am relying purely on myself. It’s a bit like getting into the Octagon with fighters wearing robotic exoskeletons programmed with AI expert fighting training, but I’m going in naked and with my bare hands. Chances are I’ll get slaughtered, but because this is art and not blood sport, I can survive it and learn from it.

      Just between us, the great plight and philosophical quandary of our era is the significance of consciousness as AI and robotics trounce our species at every endeavor. How do we remain relevant, and not redundant?

      Can an artist like me compete with any asshole who types a sentence into an AI art bot prompt? Do you know the story of John Henry? Man versus machine. But now the machine has come for our brains.

      I shared this piece on Twitter, in the community where digital artists can make a living selling NFTs. It got 2 likes. My last piece got 0 likes, so this is a modest improvement.

      Curiously, this kind of work is not only antithetical to my art education and contemporary art theory, it’s not only in opposition to AI in terms of process and content, it’s anathema to the digital art NFT community.

      I must be doing something right.

      Thanks so much for looking, reading, and commentnig!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Ah, yes, that’s what used to annoy me, too; everything HAD to be political ( and this was just in the first year. I can only imagine what it would have been like several years down the track). My own creativity tends to involve getting as far away from politics as possible! I have nothing against people expressing whatever they want through their art, but for me personally, politics is not something I’ve ever wanted to explore in a creative sense. I have more personal things to communicate. Plus, when it comes to University staff, unless you nod and agree with every single thing they say, you’re always going to be told you’re wrong, anyway. If you’re studying to become a brain surgeon, fair enough. But art? I’d understand if their insistence involved traditional techniques or practical methodology, but, as I mentioned in the last comment, it was never about that; they didn’t seem to care less about HOW you worked, but they seemed to think they were allowed to dictate to us what we were and were not allowed to express. In our OWN art. It used to piss me off, because I’m the one expressing it, so I’m pretty sure I’M the one who will decide what I do and don’t express- thanks very much! But it’s just a bottomless pit of arrogance and spectacularly over inflated sense of self importance with that lot.

        The intense focus on gender was tedious- and I say that as a woman. There was one time I remember I’d done a very messy, halfarsed experiment, and this guy came along and started waxing lyrical about how the work was clearly about society dumping on women. It wasn’t remotely about that. It wasn’t “about” anything. It was just an experiment with colour and texture. When I told him, that, I thought he was going to cry. This inability to comprehend the possibility of VISUAL art being concerned with VISUAL properties was- and still is- one of the many things I can’t stand about the so-called art world. Imagine composing a piece of music- or just noodling around on an instrument- trying to come up with something- then some nimrod coming along and saying : “Hmm, it’s ok, but you’re clearly focusing too much on what it SOUNDS like”. Ffs! As for me being a woman, I resented that this automatically meant that everything I made and did must be a feminist statement of some kind. I actually find this expectation pretty feckin’ sexist in itself, because it’s dehumanising to reduce a human being down to their gender like that. My gender is ONE aspect of me! Am I not allowed to have other interests?? I had a friend at Uni who copped this attitude to an even larger degree, because she was of Aboriginal descent. She was expected, predictably, to exclusively address the subject of being a black woman. Her main passion was ceramics/ pottery. God forbid that she might want to make and sell some bowls and pots! ( when it came to painting, she did incorporate traditional dot painting, but she wasn’t making heavy political statements with it, and surely that’s her freedom and right) How was it NOT racist to ignore this woman’s individual preferences and ideas and just say: ” Well, you’re a black woman, do some black woman stuff”. Jaysus! The hypocrisy is mindblowing. Identity politics is a toxic concept IMO. We’re individual human beings, for chrissakes. If someone wants to be political- fine. But this should be THEIR decision as an individual human being, not one imposed on them by virtue signalling posers looking to earn some quick “woke” points.

        As for AI….well there’s a scary and depressing issue. I share your concern there, as I’m sure many others do. For me, not just as a creative person, but as a parent ( of a creative person, at that!) . I’ve not read ‘Man vs Machine’, by John Henry, but I’m pretty sure my mum has that in her collection; I recall several JH books on her bookshelf. I’ll have to add it to my ever-growing list of things to read.

        I’ve likely said this before, but I’m hoping- perhaps naively- that there will be enough people like me around, ie. people who love working with physical materials to keep human made art alive to some extent. Same with music. There surely will always be people who derive great satisfaction from learning and playing an instrument- or with regard to electronic music, being in full creative control over the various components of a track. A truly creative person derives no lasting satisfaction from a machine automatically generating something for them. Some people really love being immersed in the creative process ( and equally there are plenty of people who appreciate and want to own things made by humans) , and all I can hope for is that there are enough of them in the world to keep that human element going in the arts. There are obviously plenty of physically and intellectually lazy people too, though, who relish the idea of “creating” something without actually having to possess any kind of talent, skill, or imagination, or to go to any real effort.

        The thing is- and I apologise for repeating things I’ve said before in other comments- all this AI stuff is quite novel at the moment. But novelty wears off. My hope is that after a time, when people realise things are all getting a bit same-y and boring, “old school” methods of doing things will be considered novel, and might at least get to experience a revival of sorts. I mean, look at vinyl records. People are still making them, and people are still buying them. Not in the way they did in the 60’s and 70’s, of course. But they haven’t died out. Little things like this are what I have to hold on to.

        But yeah, AI is not just threatening art…..we definitely are potentially looking down the barrel of becoming redundant as a species. That’s a lot scarier. Again, I can only hope that people start getting nostalgic about festivals; markets; actual meaningful human connection, etc that it will stay alive somewhere/ be revived ( that is, of course if any humans are around to revive it…). As subjects go it’s definitely a heavy one.

        Anyway, this comment probably shouldn’t get too much longer! But I do enjoy these discussions. Hope your day is a goodun!

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      2. Right, while I was basically summarily dispatched as an artist because of my biology and the belief that anything I did must therefor be an expression of misogyny, racism, colonialism, privilege, supremacy and hate, people with more fashionable birth certificates also suffered. I distinctly remember an Asian artist who was making large paintings based loosely on comics, which were quite impressive, and nothing like anything I would ever do. I rarely saw artists doing original work at all, so it really stood out to me. A year later she had a show, and it centered around a TV playing a video of her sitting there talking about her identity as an Asian woman. There were no paintings or drawings to be seen anywhere. She’d been re-art-educated in the re-art-education camp that was my graduate school, though she was an undergrad.

        Yes, agreed, defining people by gender, or race for that matter, or even age is always playing around with utter inanity: “No, I will ABSOLUTELY judge books by, and only by, their covers!!”. I’m sure I’ve said this dozens of times on my blog, but here it is again. Insects have sexes, ranges of color morphs, ages, and other distinguishing purely physical characteristics, but share nothing with what makes humans distinctly human. We are defining each other in the same way we would classify insects, when what really sets us apart is our conscious self-aware intelligent minds. Those things are invisible. And so, IMO, we were better off when we believed people had immortal souls, because that at least gave us something to consider besides just what we could see instantly upon meeting someone. These days, I just use the word “spirit” as a metaphor for the mind and all its phantasmagoria, memories, impressions, and a ability to make conscious, deliberate decisions using free will.

        I like to break it down into that which we have no control over (our DNA, etc), and that which we do (our decisions and actions…). We can only really judge people by the latter, because that is the only thing that anyone can do anything with that makes a difference in the world. And so, making art about that which we’ve inherited and have no control over is a bit peculiar and self-defeating unless one is particularly invested in exploring the sociopolitical ramifications of that set of circumstance, which the real person — the spirit — find itself in.

        The thing with AI is that we can’t comprehend or imagine what an intelligence is that is 5 or 10 times as smart as us, just as a fish can’t begin to fathom what we are on about. And so, creating an intelligence that far exceeds our own is prying open Pandora’s box, and it’s being done for monetary gain: someone getting their slice of the pie while they can, and F_CK everyone else by Gad!

        Because AI is not conscious, no mortal, biological, or vulnerable, it is incapable of compassion, empathy, or giving a sh_t about anything at all. AI can only be programmed to give a hoot about humans, and AI is smart enough to program itself, and is already deliberately tasked with doing so. The Skynet of the Terminator series is fast becoming very plausible, and then followed shortly by inevitable. Algorithms already decide what we will see, and have already “scraped” all of human art on the internet to make its own knock-offs. What is saving us is that we can program AI to not override its own programming, while simultaneously training it to program itself. The word “Derp” comes to mind.”

        Even if AI were somehow to have the same moral/ethical values as humans, I don’t know at all that it would consider humans as something other than a parasite on the planet that threatens every other species and the biosphere itself. The most ethical thing to do, it might conclude, is to wipe out the humans.

        I would say that the day will come shortly when the first robot will kill the first human, but on a moment’s reflection that’s already happened, and the robots were flying drones.

        Oop. I have some work I have to do. Nice chatting with you. Uuuuuh. Might have ended on a sour note there. I have to go on believing, or having faith, that intelligence will triumph over stupidity, and we humans will not do ourselves in on the grand scale out of sheer selfishness, greed, corruption, shortsightedness, and functional imbecility.


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      3. That’s really sad to hear about the comic artist :/ I can’t help but feel this pressure they put onto people to relinquish their individuality is nothing short of evil. Dehumanise the humans while simultaneously making them believe it’s for their own good. Kinda ties in to what you say about AI. My mind can’t help but go off on some wild conspiratorial stuff….

        Agreed on what you say re: “spirit”. That’s pretty much how I define it too. I judge a human being by their behaviour; how they treat others; what their personality is like. Those things transcend the superficial. I mean, it actually baffles me that there are people who DON’T take these factors into consideration at all. When I think of the closest friends I’ve had in life, they all seem to come from cultures and backgrounds very different from my own. The immediately apparent superficial differences between us were neither a barrier to our friendship nor a reason for it. We became friends because we had the same sense of humour; similar interests and values.

        Anyway, I’ll keep this one short, because I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said here re: AI, too. It’s a fkn depressing subject… I’m gonna go listen to loud music and drink a gin and soda, ’cause it’s Saturday night and the kiddo has gone out with friends. Hope you’re having a great day/night over in your part of the world!

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      4. Goddamnit! I left a rather long reply to this…’s disappeared! Noooooooooo!!!!

        Or was it censored? Did you get a complaint? I wouldn’t be surprised. Having any kind of opinion is growing increasingly taboo, it seems. Especially if it questions the überwoke or suggests that individuality could be a thing. Sorry if I got you into trouble or something. Guess I’ll comment another time!

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      5. I just went looking for it and found it in the SPAM folder. I never check the SPAM folder because it’s filled with a mountain of SPAM and continually overflowing. But I easily spotted your avatar whiles scrolling, and so was able to resuscitate it. Haven’t read it yet. Cheers.

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      6. Oh, that’s a relief. Good to hear! Here I was, spiraling into a vortex of misanthropy thinking some self absorbed shit had complained about my ‘wrongthink’. I feel slightly lighter!

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      7. Well, I think I’m the only one who can delete comments, at least considering some of the nastier ones I’ve received over the years (though none lately). I do have the moderation thing on where I have to approve them. Or did I turn that off? I meant to at one point, so people could talk to each other if a conversation spontaneously erupted.

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    1. Thanks, Robin. Yes, you got it. No surprise there. They are meant to resonate with the human spirit. I want to make a drawing with minimal means that conveys something of consciousness. In other words, I want the pieces like this to be a bit haunted or possessed.

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      1. Just read NOIRCOTIC’s comment & your reply. Art school sounds grim & demoralizing – makes me glad I never did it. A couple of undergrad “art appreciation” classes tested my patience enough. It was the constant hammering at us: “What does it mean?” I was too young & intimidated by Art (with that annoying uppercase “A”) to fight back with what my inner voice was screaming: “I DON’T CARE!” What does it mean? What does the artist mean for it to mean? What do I think it means? What does it mean in the context of Art History and the human experience? What does its meaning really mean? ::sigh:: No one ever asked how the art made us feel. Did it frighten us? Did it make us want to fly? Or die in its beauty? Did it bring us sudden peace, slow our hearts, let us drift away? Or did it make our fingertips tingle? Our eyes widen? I guess I’m still an art heathen: the visceral matters more to me than the cerebral, when it comes to art. I do understand the importance of “meaning” but if I have to think about what I’m seeing to appreciate it, the connection’s already broken. Art school would’ve destroyed the art in me! So…yes…it’s lovely to run into people who make their art, who’ve been formally educated in making that art, and who aren’t d*p-sh*tty jerks about it.

        All that said, when I first looked at the digital piece above I wondered what the profile guy was whispering to the full face single-eye guy. Your focus on eyes (sorry, no pun intended) makes me feel at home with your work. Also, the charcoal one is really powerful. First look? I saw a figure, folded down, knees at chin, hands up near face – tormented eyes – I felt existential fear from it. I saw a prisoner who hears their torturer approaching, step by step, in the darkness. It was like watching a seconds-long movie, a deeply affecting experience!


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      2. Ah, this is why I say I only really had one teacher that seemed to fully appreciate what I was doing at the time, encouraged and believed in me. I won over other teachers, but by doing what they believed in, not what I did. Your instructor(s) were just not in the same arena as you when it comes to art and art appreciation.

        Asking what art means in itself, and in relation to the artist’s intent, and then relative to the human struggle and art history are somewhat typical questions, but they really can miss the point of a lot of art. I got much more of “what does it mean in terms of politics”, and as in terms of very specific current politics. And this was as much or more about projecting meaning according to an agenda and various “theories” than it was about discovering what the art inherently meant.

        Even at it’s best, finding a “meaning” in visual art is valuing it for something other than it intrinsically offers. What does Beethoven’s Appassionata piano sonata mean? Well, it must be some sort of misogynist outburst! Seriously, who cares? It doesn’t have to mean anything in words. It’s like asking, “What does this sandwich mean?”. This is a byproduct of conceptual art claiming the purpose of art is to “ask questions” and “question what art is” and “start conversations”. THAT is the purpose of a conversation piece, and it takes place in linguistics. You have to be suspicious of a definition of art that subordinates the visual to spoken/written language.

        What I’m getting at is I think your instructors were wrong, however, it’s much more difficult to talk about how a work makes you feel, unless your students are a bit poetic. I gather you would have been able to talk about that aspect of the art.

        Moving on. Funny that people see the big eye person/alien/creature as male. To me it is obviously female. Yes, it started out as whispering! You nailed that. And I quite like that you and NOIRCOTIC picked up on a lot of my same feelings, interpretations, and intents.

        Ah. Glad you like my old charcoal drawing. I think I was 19 or 20 when I made that, and in a drawing class in community college. The teacher was surprised. He said, “What’s THAT?!” He really dug it. He was old school, but the old school was expressionism, and so he loved people like Soutine, Kokoschka, Beckmann, Nolde, and painters who were expressive with content, color, style, texture, etc. He’d definitely have been interested in a discussion of how art makes you feel, and probably couldn’t have given a flying crap about it’s political or historical or other assigned meaning or significance. Meanwhile, had anyone expressed the thoughts you just did about that drawing, he would have been flabbergasted.

        And that’s just that thing where we may click more with one kind of art, and certain people, than others. For example, my tastes in music are really very eclectic. But I have my flat spots. I can’t get into cumbia, klezmer, polka, and I really struggle with jazz. Also, Chinese opera is tough for me, as is a lot of western opera. So, just imagine, if I were a music teacher, and you loved jazz, I would not be the right teacher for you.
        Point of all this is that when it comes to art, you have to be in the right place. I should have left my grad school almost immediately, but for whatever reason felt I had to survive it. There was probably another school somewhere where I would have thrived.

        As always, I really enjoy your comments. It’s quite a shocker, if someone reads our content, that both of us, as it happens, were more or less silenced in art school. One of my criticisms from my peers in grad school was I never said anything. My opinions were not valued, so better to keep them to myself where at least they were not hated.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Quick reply: Jazz…no. No, no, no. Don’t even say its name. Jazz sounds (to me) like what having a hungry ant colony crawl into my ears would feel like. Endless repetitive pain. No. Slow blues? Yes! It’s heartbeat music. WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO! Love it. Well, most of it. If it drifts into those ant mandibles, no. Will probably stop back later, if that’s OK. 🐜🐜🐜🐜🐜🙃

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thing about jazz, though, is I know a lot of it is really good. And I keep trying. One of my favorite DJs plays some of it along with a bunch of rather beautiful instrumentally inclined music. You see, it’s MY shortcoming. I just don’t quite get it or synch with it. Except Latin jazz, which for whatever reason I can much more easily assimilate.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. That’s great, that you’re still trying, and I hope you get there. I stopped years ago – too many other kinds of music (and other sounds) to enjoy. I understand how important it is, how it works, and how meaningful it can be to the people who do like it so I know that I’m missing something but that’s OK. I don’t like meringue/nougat/marshmallow either. ::shivers:: I’ve tried to but failed. And I can live happily without them (as long as there are Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in the world). 🙂

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      6. “Art heathen”. I love this! Mind if I adopt the phrase? ( I’ll give you credit for coining the phrase, of course).

        Also was nodding my head a lot whilst reading your comment!

        Liked by 3 people

      7. Hi! Thank you! Glad you like that. Sure – and thank you very much for asking.🤗 I had a WP blog in 2008/2009 called “Your Art Heathen.” In spite of a growing audience it didn’t last long bec I lost patience with the snark from “art professionals.” I moved on to create anither blog called “Your Food Heathen.” Discussions about eating naked broccoli – no seasoning! – never riled anyone enough to leave mean-spirited comments, so it was less stressful for me. But it’s long gone too. 🙃

        Liked by 3 people

      8. No worries! I did think it would make a great title for a blog or something. I’m sorry to hear about your experiences from the know-it-all-dick segment of society, though. They do know how to take the fun out of pretty much everything.

        Oh, I must confess to also being a serial blog starter- upperer ( and then blog killer). It all starts to feel like a bit of a chore after a while… ( and for the record, I can dig broccoli sans sauce and seasoning, too…. I actually love it raw. That’s saying something for me, as I love my stir-fried and baked veg- with sauces, seasonings, gravies…..and now I’m just getting hungry, so I’ll stop)

        Liked by 3 people

  3. I, too, typically paint and draw from my imagination. At least, that’s how I started. I do love painting landscapes from photos and memory, and doing this helps me see more details in my imaginary landscapes. I guess I also like to do pen portraits of real-life people, but I started out drawing people from my imagination.

    I love the textury look of your smoker, though I gotta say, your imagination is a scary place!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. As I was late to the game reading this, I skipped reading all the previous comments. Someone has surely already said this six ways to Sunday, but my take on AI is that it’s the lazy way out of creativity, whether a human is writing, painting, doctoring, or whatever. Maybe the future will prove me wrong, but I doubt it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you, Eric Wayne, for that – yes, monochrome – drawing! I rely on imagination too, we should try to develop it, and yet, of course, we’re all full of references. That’s interlinearity (and I’m rather a writer than a painter, but one can find interlinearity in all arts, because we always remember things we enjoyed or suffered or took with composure and stoicism.
    Your work reminds me of many painters, mainly of Goya, Fuseli and especially Alfred Kubin, who has Polyphem-phantasies too. And still: you continued their works. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I had to look up “Polyphem” — ah, it’s the one big eye! And you get lots of points for knowing who Alfred Kubin is. I wrote an article about him a while back. I definitely see the similarity between the particular pieces and some of his works. They tap into the subterranean world of the subconscious. Stay tuned to see how these develop in coming months.

      Liked by 1 person

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