Sunday, July 29, 2012

In the Works

     In keeping with my resolution to work more on my poetry I spent my lunch hour on Friday writing. I worked on extending a previous poem. I'll see later if the two will join neatly or if they'll remain two separate works.

Monsoon Sunday

     Feeling a bit cooped up today, I went out to photograph in the rain. I ended up shooting through the vehicle windshield. I was pleased with a couple of shots.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Slammed Part 2

     As a follow-up to my post on my first poetry slam experience I want to say that I feel the urge to work on my poetry quite a bit more. I don't think I'll need to compete in a slam but it occurs to me that I might benefit from reading some of my work publicly. Just as an artist's daybook is meant to enrich my art practice, so might reading my work enrich my writing. I maintain an audience in my head while I write, perhaps a physical audience might similarly enhance my writing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


     Tonight I attended a local poetry slam and found out that, for me, poetry is not a sport. I had a difficult time reconciling how I feel about my work with the delivery styles of the poets I heard tonight. Snapping, clapping, and scoring were very foreign to me. Maybe it's because I was the oldest person in the room, or maybe it's because my influences are too conservative, but I didn't really identify with the slam style at all. I found their delivery interfering with my voice as I tried later to compose my own verse. I think I need to detox with some W.S. Merwin or good old Walt Whitman.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tiny Purple Fishes

     I remember doing a record cover project in high school. We were allowed to copy a band's artwork or create our own. I think I created my own but can't remember 23 years later what it looked like. I'm sure I'll create a lesson plan around this idea at some point. It requires so much more in the way of creativity than just the skill to create it. The personality of the student artist and their interests and influences are engaged as well.

     The album cover artwork for Cream's "Disraeli Gears" has to be my favorite right now. And while we're on the subject, "Tales of Brave Ulysses", side two, track one, has got to be one of the best examples of poetry set to music.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Top 5 Records

     Last night after watching "High Fidelity" for about the 7th time I decided to attempt to track my musical interests by documenting all of the songs and artists whose music I enjoy. I presume that this will lead to some sort of web connecting my interests and influences. I think this may be useful in understanding myself a little better, or at least from a different angle. I started to build a "Top 5" but so far the only sure bet at number one is "Flowers of Guatemala" by R.E.M. We'll see what comes of this, if anything.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Morning Fireworks

     On a humid hike this morning I enjoyed the benefits of the summer monsoon rains in the form of wildflowers bursting like fireworks from the ground in deep slow motion.

Friday, July 20, 2012

New Forms, the Beat Generation, and Owen Davis

     This afternoon I enjoyed an intense two and a half hour conversation about art, music, and the Beat Generation with friend, composer, and partner in collaboration, Owen Davis. Both of us are drawn to the mid-twentieth century renaissance of new forms in the arts. Among the topics of discussion were John Cage, Jack Kerouac, and Peter Voulkos. We also discussed the impact of Buddhism on key artists of the time and the fact that their explorations may have just been the beginning of what can be accomplished in the arts. We exchanged favorite internet audio and video clips and talked about our collaboration together, further defining our roles and intent. Ours is a project that promises to delight the senses and I look forward to seeing and hearing it performed.
     With regards to schooling, Owen and I expressed our inspirations and apprehensions about pursuing graduate studies in our respective fields. My perspective is heavily influenced by my need to develop a deeper art practice. I feel that in order to be an effective teacher I must support my instruction with an exemplary body of work. My passion for creativity has always leaned very heavily to the mental side and while that finds its expression in my writing I feel that the visual component would benefit from deeper practice. Just as I have chosen to embrace the habit of keeping an artist's daybook, I have to feed that book with experiences through which I engage the world, giving fodder for creative acts.
     It is rare to find one with whom you can communicate easily about things that inspire you; more rare to find one who understands.
     You can find out more about Owen Davis and his work here and here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Blog

     This week I started a new blog, as if I didn't have enough trouble keeping up with this one. The new one is geared specifically toward keeping a regular artist's daybook, a log of all things inspiring. I'll be posting photos and text related specifically to my art practice. I plan to continue to maintain this blog as well, using it much the same as I always have, for reflection, poetry, and photos from hikes and backpacking trips, etc. The new address is: Enjoy!

Death Masks

     Today's find in a box from yesterday's shed cleaning project is a mask I made in high school from a slip cast mold of my art teacher's face. I remember him rubbing petroleum jelly on his face and hair, stuffing his nose with tissue, placing his face through a hole in the back of a box, and holding a paper roll in his mouth so he could breath while a student poured plaster over his face. I also remember this not being planned too far in advance, sort of on a whim; which is how most things seemed to happen in that classroom and which I enjoyed thoroughly. I decided to push the features of the mask around while it was still soft to make a sort of death mask to which my teacher replied, "Oh, thank you very MUCH!" (I also remember that during the time in which this was made I was into Alfred Hitchcock and Edgar Allen Poe.) After the mask was fired I finished it with colored pencil and washes of acrylic paint.
     I decided to photograph it with a bronze mask I made of my own face during my undergraduate studies. The mold was taken using alginate which is skin safe and sets quickly. The only weak spot was my nose where the mold was too thin. I had to build the nose up with wax before dipping it in the investment material. I finished the bronze cast with a black patina. Two casts were made. The second was left plain, without patina, and my mother keeps it in her home.
     It is interesting to see the similarities and differences in material and appearance between the two masks. Recently I wrote a short lesson plan on mask making for my future students, complete with plans for wearing the masks in procession around campus during a time of peak activity like a lunch break. I can't wait to see how that turns out.
     There are numerous sites on the web for death masks. This one loads quickly and provides images of death masks of historical figures.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


     Cleaning out the shed today I came across some potentially useful items for future projects. Most notable were some assorted adhesive mailbox letters. Additionally I found that I still have several boxes of personal memorabilia that I haven't opened since moving to Flagstaff. I'll spend some time here and there digging through those in hopes of finding more project ideas and materials.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Go Figure

     This weekend I looked over some figure drawings I had done during my undergraduate studies. I was surprised to see how good they were. They possess beautiful line quality and accurate depictions of scale and form. There is particular sensitivity to subtle curves which lends a sort of poetry to the overall feeling of a drawing.
     As part of my efforts to continually develop and reinforce my identity as an artist I must find a way to integrate figure drawing into my overall practice.

Welcome to An Artist's Daybook

     I started this blog in order to focus specifically on my practice of keeping an artist's daybook. A few years ago a good friend enlightened me to his practice of keeping an analog photo journal. It's a habit he's maintained for many years and the ease with which he builds his record is inspiring. As a pre-service art educator I intend to communicate to my students the importance of maintaining such a log. 
     Here I will be posting... anything I want to. This is the only rule I will give my students, that they can enter into their own artist's daybook anything they want to; from poetry to grocery lists, from thumbnail sketches or ideas for projects to doodles having no obvious relevance, from the heaviest thought to the lightest note about the seemingly least consequential of blips on their mental radar; mistakes included. I purposefully chose the term "daybook" as opposed to "journal" or "diary", first, because it's a term used less frequently to describe such things, and second, because those other terms carry specific connotations about their content. Again, anything can go into an artist's daybook. The minutia surrounding those things that would be expected in a journal is what lends context. For example, if I write in my daybook a short poem right after a list of needs for an upcoming trip, followed by a drawing of the view out an open window, I've created the potential for an interesting personally expressive project. If I had omitted the list in favor of the more structured or exclusive forms of a typical journal or sketch diary I might forget the surrounding context of the poem and drawing. Chances are, that trip I had prepared for in some way impacted the poem and drawing I later created.
     Now, I doubt I'll be posting grocery lists here but you get the idea. This is my way of making public my ideas about what an artist's daybook might include. My students will understand, if I achieve my goal, that the keeping of such a log is integral to their artistic practice; a habit whose value will be inestimable. By recording their experiences and perceptions they will create a recorded personal history which will enlighten their creative processes into their adult years. In short, their artist's daybooks will become storehouses of inspiration from which they may draw at will.
     Without further deliberation, let the fun begin...