Heart Music

The heart sings its own secret music. But what music comes from a heart shaped guitar?

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Hearts Until Valentine’s Day

Last year between the first of February and Valentine’s Day I made and posted more than 100 heart and heart inspired images. This year I’m making more. You can check them out on Twitter, #HeartsUntilValentinesDay. 

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the vanilla hillsEvery night I dream. I dream more now than I used to, since I’ve begun using some binaural recordings to help me sleep more deeply.  When I wake up in the morning, I always have a clear memory that I’ve been dreaming – but very rarely actually remember the dreams.  What I remember from the dreams are impressions – sometimes places, sometimes faces or colors, or motions, just isolated fragments of what I dreamed.  I have a “knowledge” that I’ve been traveling and although I don’t clearly remember the actions in the dreams, I know that they are a continuation of my day to day living, but in a different world – or possibly different worlds.

I’m sometimes jealous of people who tell me that they have very clear memory of what they have dreamed. But I remember dreaming when I was much younger – I remember every detail of some of those younger dreams, and although they were sometimes very dramatic and surreal and seemingly filled with symbolism and meaning, they also did not leave me with the impression I get from these less clear dreams I’m having, that I’d been traveling to other worlds.  That sense of traveling is new, something that has entered the dreams in recent years.

I think that the dreams I’m having now are more important – but for some reason, accessing them with conscious thought as memory is forbidden.

Somebody suggested that I am practicing for my next life by traveling to the world I’ll be reincarnated in.

The great thing that comes from these dreams is that my painting is informed by them.  Just as my paintings are composed from impressions I collect when I’m out and about (so that, for example, a watercolor landscape includes some of the flavor as the landscapes I drive through here in Arizona, without really including representations of real locations, I also include impressions from dreams in those images.  So a landscape like the one above (made with Paper 53 on my iPad) echoes things I’ve seen in the waking world, the colors and the composition also include elements from places I move through when I dream – the other world is represented.  Its not a literal representation, but a kind of visual paraphrasing for something I’ve experienced.

I don’t think that, short of solving the problem of telepathy, we can ever convey the literal truth of things we’ve seen or felt – but we can strive to capture and convey our impressions – keeping in mind of course that all such things are both personal and colored by opinion and so unreliable as anything more than a general guide to the thoughts in question.

That is how we create the parallax which allows us to share the world and to experience the myriad of dimensions that we move through and experience but do not process on the same high level that we use in processing our consensus reality.



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  I always spend a few hours a day drawing. It’s not hard to do and it calms me down. It doesn’t matter what media I am using: it can be physical, brushes and paint, or digital, mouse, stylus screen.  They all access the same basic mind-space, and that is what I’m after. 
It is a kind of meditation – but not one with easily definable results.  I can’t, for example, tell you specifically what thoughts were in my head when I was drawing, nor can I clearly describe the state of mind I go into when I’m working.  

I love being in that space. It’s like being in another world – everything around me is crystal clear, it’s not like I’ve left the place I’m in. In fact sometimes it’s like I’m even more completely inside the world when I’m drawing or painting, but at the same time I’m outside myself, looking at myself, watching what I do from some other locale. It’s like being two people at once in a sense, although I can’t see where one begins and the other ends.  

But there I am drawing or painting and I’m totally engulfed in watching an image take form, largely automatically (as I’ve expained in the past, I don’t set out to do a drawing or a painting with a specific image in my. I make random marks and then let them lead me to a more coherent image.  

When I’ve finished, I always feel as though I’ve completed a journey – but I wouldn’t be able to explain where I went to on that journey, or what it means. 

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New Store!

2016-01-03 20.11.14 copy

I’ve been selected by the folks at ThePixeler to have my work included in their online store for sale. They have a simple and easy to use website dedicated to selling fine art prints in limited editions made by artists on iPads. So far as I know this is the first site to be entirely dedicated to iPad generated artwork!
I have a substantial portfolio of images, as I’ve been making iPad drawings since the device was new way back in 2010. I primarily use two apps to draw on the iPad : 1. Paper53, which is the most intuitive and focused app there is for drawing direct on iPad but has a limited set of tools. 2. Sketchclub by Black Pawn, which is a full featured artmaking app, with a wide variety of tools for both digital and analog trained artists, but which has a much steeper learning curve than Paper53 but there are loads of apps out there for making art on your iPad, and you will of course have your own favorites. I recommend to anyone who will listen that they get a bunch of them and just play around until you find the ones you are most productive with.

Keep in mind that the output of these various apps may or may not work for printing purposes.
If you want to upscale iPad generated images for use in printing, you will really need a computer, and an application like On1’s Perfect Resize – with which you can take an image created at an iPad’s native resolution and convert into a file which can be printed at virtually any size! It takes some practice to get good results but its worth the effort (and the expense: Perfect Resize sells as a standalone application for $79 dollars.)

I hope you will take a moment or two to visit ThePixeler – and perhaps buy a print or two! We artists work for the love of it, but it really helps when people purchase our images to help keep us creating. After all, food, water, coffee, gas, and rent can add up after awhile – loving the work keeps us joyful, but selling the work keeps us afloat!



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Today its traveling light. A pocket camera, an iPad, three small volumes, a bag of ink bottles and a bunch of coffee stirring sticks to draw with. The volume pictured here is, sadly, no longer carried by Utrecht – these were really sweet books, clothbound, neutral PH paper, heavier than most journals or sketchbooks, so no bleed-through, an amazing surface for watercolor and ink. Had I known they would be discontinued I
d have purchased a lot of them instead of just this one. Lesson learned: especially when faced with a good product, always stock up because they may not always be available. Its like the fantastic little volumes that G. Lalo used to make – filled with excellent paper, beautifully marbled paper covers, lavish end papers. Also not available anymore, and I have just a few left.
Not all the leaves in this one are so fully illustrated. I work on this one when I am feeling particularly masochistic because these pages can take a long time to finish – since I selected a smaller volume because I wanted something for quickwork its a bit ironic that these pages can take longer to complete than some of the ones in the big volume.
Mind at work, mind at play. This volume is more on the work side, at least as far as the writing goes. I found after only a short time that when I’m this regimented in my lettering there is not much room for free association. The writing is awfully stilted!

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Breasts of the Desert

The mountains near here really do look like breasts – some of them are even topped with trees or stones which resemble nipples. I remember once back in the late 70’s while driving to Tombstone with my cousins from Phoenix that one of them said all the hills were tits, which meant that the local landscape was female.
As we travel around here now, that femaleness is even more pronounced. We can assume that in thirty years more erosion has occurred.
In my drawings I do tend to play up that quality. This drawing has a breast with a pronounced nipple – but it also represents a hill not too far from my house, one that I drive past with some frequency. I say it represents that hill because it is not drawn from a photograph, or drawn on site. I draw from a combination of imagination and memory, so what this depicts is a memory of that hill, enhanced both by imagination and a touch of mysticism. When I’m drawing, I enter a semi-meditative state where the things I draw resonate with a certain symbolism.
I often don’t see that same symbolism when the drawing is finished, which means that if I don’t write down the meanings and impressions soon after making an image, I will forget what I intended while I was drawing or painting. In these cases, as with this case, all that remains in the end is the emotional response I have to the image.

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Digital Tarot

Okay – so I’m playing with the idea of designing a new Tarot deck. I’ve made a few over the years, one-off, handmade sets for collectors. This one will be entirely digital. I’m not sure yet whether it will be a full (and traditional) deck, or whether it will be an entirely bogus deck made with surrealist tendencies and personal, rather than standard, symbolism. This one as you can see is just an update from a traditional card – the tower in my image suggests an urban setting rather than the traditional tower in the wild image, but the style of this is inspired by the Waite-Ryder deck, which I keep around for reference. I’m using my iPad and the Sketchclub app to make it, because Sketchclub has a great vector drawing tool that lets me make images that resemble woodcut prints. Ultimately, I may even make the images I come up with into a series of woodcut prints so that I can play with the differences between traditional and digital art.
“Tower in the wild” image:
possible additions: a wolf. reference to morrison “a beast caged in the heart of the city.”
Lion? Is it a reference to the city having a heart, is the city “lionhearted” as in brave, or is it just the idea of a beast caged, like in a zoo or a circus.
Any of morrison’s characters would work: the lion, the roaming dogs rabid, foaming.
For the fool card, perhaps Robin Williams face for reference.
Or perhaps Robin would be better for the Magician – or perhaps both.


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I love to draw. I have been drawing and painting since I was 5 years old (at least that is when I remember first getting a clue about how objects in space can be depicted on paper.
Since adding the iPad to my arsenal of drawing tools, my drawing, both digital and on paper has flourished. For every drawing I make on paper, I can prepare 50 studies on the iPad. Its where I make nearly every thumbnail sketch now – but its also a great way to build up volume and value studies, develop color schemes, play with ideas that may be a bit too “iffy” to commit to paper – without wasting paper, while still creating something for the archives.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that using most of the drawing and painting apps available for the iPad leaves you the option of compiling and publishing sketchbooks – which can be given as gifts or sold.
The diversity of tools available for the iPad is remarkable.
I don’t hesitate to mark my work prominently as “digital” – my sketchbooks all have a balloon on the cover that says “Made with an iPad Air”. When I make an image on my Mac, or a sketchbook on my Mac, that balloon says “Made with a Mac”.
If digital artists are afraid of the digital label, they shouldn’t be using the media.
Its like Monsanto refusing to mark their GMO products. If the product is good and safe, they should be proud to put a prominent GMO label on all their goods.
We are creating a new paradigm. If we don’t represent our digital work proudly and prominently as digital, we are selling ourselves short.
Artists who look down on digital artists do so in part because so many digital artists are ashamed, or afraid to present their work as digital.
Is it painting? Certainly. Drawing? Yes.
Is it as good as a hand crafted object?
In the hands of a skilled practitioner, absolutely.
Has working on digital images stopped me from making woodcuts, watercolors, and etchings? No. Has it made me better at making those other things? Absolutely.
Like any tool, iPads and computers are only limited by the imagination of the user.
If you are a good and vital painter and you apply yourself to learning digital tools with the same vigor and imagination that you apply to your traditional tools, and you stick with it you’ll be rewarded by seeing new dimensions open up in your work.
If you don’t try it you will, of course, never know.
For those of us who have tried and liked it, we have to become missionaries if we want to rise to the level of prominence and acceptance we deserve.
So call it what it is. Digital imaging, digital photography, iPad art, Photoshop Manipulate, Illustrator Vector drawing. Lead with your tech, and when possible explain why you chose the digital tool over the traditional one, and vice versa.
But it cuts both ways. I encourage digital artists to expand your skills to include traditional methods as well. Unless you learn how paint works on canvas, you won’t fully understand where art, including digital art, comes from. Learn to use brushes – take what you learn into your digital work. Get a few sketch pads and a bunch of conte crayons. Take them out a few times a week for drawing sessions. Which tools are the most like your preferred digital ones? Which ones are harder to use than your digital tools?
Focus on the ones that are harder to use – thats where you’ll learn the most.
Not learning to use every tool that’s out there to make the best work possible is like refusing to use a hammer because you’ve only ever used rocks to pound in nails.

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Pen and Ink for iPad

I’ve been testing a new app today called Pen and Ink for the iPad. It is a drawing application with a few features I’ve not seen elsewhere, which I think may put it at the top of the list for drawing apps.
First I’ll say that although it lists as a free app, if you want it fully functional you will need to make several in-app purchases. The most cost effective way is just to buy them all, which will cost you $7.99.
Without the in app purchases, you will still have a few nice drawing tools, but for the cost, you can’t go wrong.

Pen and Ink bears a small resemblance to a few other apps – including 53’s excellent Paper app, in that it creates “books” for your sketches to keep them organized. You can add books and add pages to books easily. When setting a book up, there are several background images to supply a page background – this adds a bit of texture and color to recreate the experience of working on a sheet of watercolor paper.

The tools are nicely refined, and the interface is wonderfully responsive.
The tools are designed to respond to acceleration – if you draw at a consistent speed, your line will be even, if you accelerate it gets wider, and if you slow down it gets thinner.

This is a method that has served me well working in Paper, but here it is a bit more responsive and smooth. With a bit of practice, I’ve been able to develop a vocabulary of very gracefully tapered strokes.

The variety of tools is broad – there are brushes for watercolor effects, pencils, markers, pens, erasers and smudge tools, all with easily adjustable size and transparency.

You access the tools through two unobtrusive and intuitively located Pie docks at the bottom of the screen. The right one opens up the toolbox, and controls book and page settings and left one controls layers .

There is also a full featured color selector which allows choosing from swatches, using a dropper to select colors in your image, or using a color wheel to blend your own custom colors.

There are several preset swatch palettes with a wide variety of color – the leftmost palette contains colors you have used recently in your image, including one’s you have blended yourself. It is in the recently used palette where you also can access the custom color wheel.

When I draw with Pen and Ink, the experience is seamless. It is easy to shift back and forth between the image and the tool kit. I love that I can completely hide the tools when I am painting. Nothing else on the screen is a very good thing!

Gestural controls allow you to reduce, enlarge and rotate your page just as you would if you were handling a real sheet of paper.

Today I’ve been working mainly with the fountain pen, which does a nice job of mimicking the performance of a calligraphy nib. The image I’ve added to this post was drawn and colored entirely with that one tool. As you can see, the line is reliably fluid and there are some really nice, subtle transparencies and overlays that you can see when using the Multiply mode in your layers.

Over the next few days, I’ll be exploring some of the other tools in this new app, but my first day assessment is that Pen and Ink is a terrific addition to my iPad studio.


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