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Thoughts & Notes

On the subjects I paint

The Journey Begins with Life, Art & Pointillism

Thinking & Exploring Life Through the Making of Art

Journal Entry: Life Takes Shape, In Artform, Science & Pointillism

Reading Time: 12 minutes

The Journey Begins with Life, Art & Pointillism


“The universe is made of stories not atoms.” – Muriel Rukeyser


Lifeforms …

Art & Thought

In this Journal Entry: Life Takes Shape, the magic of the written word wraps and weaves its way around and through my art and thought. Together can adopt forms and structures that are often surprising.

In life and art, predictability is fraught with peril. Wisdome dictates, I must proceed as if the unexpected isn’t only possible, but most likely probable. Life does, indeed, take shape and does so with and without volition. The winds of change blow hard. A mindful embrace of the present helps me steer my course.

As I’ve grown older, I find the time we are allotted on this Earth seems shorter. As a consequence, a mindful use of time and energy is of paramount importance. This manifests in the books I choose to read. And in the artwork, I make. Overall, my impressions at this age-state of mind, hold in a steady pattern across the arenas of my life. Both those contained within the studio walls and those defining other spaces. All that being said, in navigating these overlapping spheres, no clear path exists. My life was not provided with a neat and tidy timeframe. It is all trial and error.

Life is to be enjoyed. And life should be joyful. Among are busy days, relaxing times are found. There are days when the latter are clearly the best. Once lost, time spent with loved ones can’t be regained.

We take many paths in life that are unchangeable. Once a thing is done, it is done. All we can do, is hang on for the ride. Unlike in the movies, there is no guiding voice to say, ‘Don’t go into the light.’

Yes, we stand on the shoulders of giants. They are our roots. We should be reaching for the stars. At the end of day, stars are the light that guide us.

The Unknown Beckons

Thoughts & Notes

The unknown beckons in Journal Entry: Life Takes Shape. Lifeforms, art and thought conspire to fill my world with depth, discovery and meaning. Pointillist painting is a part of my artmaking activities, and it expands radiantly in different creative directions.

Thoughts and ideas filter into my creative world from many fields of study. The world and its many forms of life are incredibly inspiring. Everything loops around. From life and knowledge to art and being.

From a Pointillist’s perspective, life is observed up-close and in detail. I read about many of the subjects I paint to better understand them and existing, overlapping environments.

As research, my reading interests fold back into my art practice. I pull quotes and save them, from writers and thinkers I admire. I keep these on hand for inspiration. These writers make me think about my own work as an artist.

I strive for fertile ground in my desire to fully comprehend the systems which bind all life within the ecosystem. The efforts extend outward in an organic manner from my artwork. These journal entries are a compendium of thoughts and notes to self on subjects I find interesting.

Possible Paths Forward

The Journey is a River

I am reminded of a boat on a river. Everything moves with the current. The water and air buzz with energy and lifeforms. The banks along the river give way to forests and verdant field-lands. Beyond lies an ocean and a distant horizon. A sky stretches on into space.

Still, below the surface, in the depths, so much more remains hidden from sight. From the large to the small, all is in movement. Life breathes and transpires. Like dots of paint, atoms, electrons, neutrons and more weave space together. My life is a single strand in a large fabric.

The Journey is Both Wide & Narrow

I am on an artist’s journey. There is no predicted end to my practice. I will either make art or not. The separation if any exists, between art and life is slim. I began making art in celebration. But the reasons behind my art making have broadened. In ways I once would not have imagined. However, art and life have presented me with opportunities. To think about and explore their hidden connections.

It’s important to note, realistic depictions of subjects are not my primary intent as an artist. I have always sought, primarily, a distillation of my focus of attention. True, an impression of form. But there are many ingredients comprising a complicated mix. My work is a visual articulation of thought, mind, science and feeling.

Through the act of painting, I come into contact with life on an intimate level. I bring what I find on the outside in. Lifeforms, art and thought have flung wide the doors of perception. These doors open in many directions. Each day begins a new adventure.

All Journey’s Begin …

It’s the Path that Surprises

In life, art takes shape. And being an artist, has not always been what I might have predicted. Challenges aside, I am amazed at my journey and the blessing of art in my life.

I can’t honestly say, every day has been a great day. But, my days are not all bad either. I believe perspective is always key. The ability to reframe situations and occurrances where something positive is gained has proven important. I may not always succeed, but the knowledge is there.

Thought, knowledge and art have always been important to me. These all have an impact on my art practice. It isn’t surprising that metaphors, analogies and similes are bound within my paintings.

Certain subjects appear on the painted surface because, they are often in my mind. Or very similar themes or conceptualizations. I believe this happens both on the conscious and unconscious levels. In writing, I look further for motives and ‘why’s?’.

“The good lord has not drawn the world with continuous lines: with a light hand he has sketched it in dots, like the painter Georges Seurat.”

Carlo Rovelli: The Order of Time

Boundaries & Predictability

What Challenges, What Limits?

Life as an artist offers no predictable course. If you sit on the sidelines, opportunities to create and show your work will not happen.

Artmaking demands active engagement. An artist might be born, but the refinement of skill and style require effort and dedication. I’m not sure if I will ever feel I spend enough time on either of these.

I am not the artist I once was. I know this. And I fully expect I am not the artist I will one day become.

I need to push against boundaries and follow unfamiliar trails. I think growth as an artist benefits from exposure to new or challenging ideas. These ideas may come in the form of both my art practice or life interactions.

Actively searching has always seemed a good idea. Figuratively speaking, I’ve had ideas for projects just sort of fall into my lap. Usually, there is a lot more thought behind it.

What do you consider to be, lucky breaks as an artist? The receiving of information? A suggestion of a connection?

And yet, often we are required to be in just the right place, at the right time. We’ve heard stories, “If I had not been standing” or “I raised my hand when needed”. I think about the many doors I’ve stepped through.

In some places, I probably should have stayed longer, in other places it was bad from the start. But should fear dictate a ‘no’, when ‘yes’ might be the answer?

I have traveled many paths, when they were presented. And made plenty of mistakes. Life itself, is an act of daring. To paraphrase William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, ‘we must boldly go where we have not gone before’.

The Seeing …

Begins the Process

Biological life is represented in my artwork. Their depiction is achieved through the use of texture, color and form. The degree any of these features is present is determined by the subject.

Style and mediums also play a role. How I approach an acrylic pointillist painting is very different from mixed-media or coldwax and oil. Rules in art are malleable.

I was looking for everything from beetles to butterflies, from tadpole to fish. It was there, next to the wilderness, I felt the most comfortable. It was there, I found so much more than I expected.

I draw source material from the ecosphere. Even in the painting of an abstract artwork. When I think about it, I realize I have always loved the biosphere. Even as a small boy, I was out along the lakeshores and in the fields.

Many of my early experiences are deeply imprinted on me as an artist.

The Being …

Involves Awareness

I feel like a perched bird, sitting high on a window ledge. As I sit quietly in the hallowed halls of science, I am fascinated by all that has been discovered. Of the many things uncovered by the human mind.

I sit in wonderment of life. Right down to its elemental forms, I am astonished at how everything intertwines and interconnects. Amazed at how universal processes shape my life and that of yours. I equate dots, daubs, and pointillism to basic elements in a larger structure.

As I work, I observe. I see before me, dots of paint forming cohesive images. I reflect as I work on life, as a process. Part of the continuum is this Journal Entry: Life Takes Shape. Designs and compositions don’t always work out the way intend. That is true in life and in art. Nor does the depiction of a subject match any rigid mental images. Flexibility and adaptability allow for artwork to organically arise from life.

In art, I find breathing space. Room in which to dream. It allows for sanity in living. Particularly as an artist. Which is all I really know. There is no map, no concrete pattern or singular subject that guides me.

All of life exists in a state of flux. And ideas come and go. A direction may be determined, then lose shape along the way. Sometimes, the only recourse is to begin anew. Art and life take shape and evolve.

Life in Context

In the Eyes of a Poet

Muriel Rukeyser wrote, “The universe is made of stories not atoms.” The poet’s insightful words point to grand ideas. These words return to me as I write this post. They surface when I am in my head and lost. Swallowed by whatever voices may threaten.

The stories I tell myself can be consuming. So can those I allow myself to be told. These narratives are often helpful. Sometimes they are negative and undermining and detrimental. I approach them sanely, from a mindful perspective. In awareness Rukeyser’s words ring ever true.

And honestly, who really knows? With the advent of Quantum physics and science the world has become ever more a strange, and wonderous place. Perhaps, Rukeyser was right in the end. All we are, is indeed, a story. Just some narrative subplot in a larger tale being told. Particles in a picture on a large canvas. If so, it’s a grand painting. Dots, paint daubs and pointillism.

We all know stories require endings. Only in this story we guess at both the beginning and at the end. All that we do is supposed. Our lives too short to fully encompass all that there is.

Perhaps, it is not so surprising then, in contemplating Rukeyser’s words I also arrive at the power of the story. And in a deep appreciation of how important stories actually are. The stories we tell ourselves are crucial to our survival.

The Biophysical

And the Eco- ‘logical’

Generally, the biosphere is the global ecological system. It is inclusive of all living beings and their many relationships. These relationships include the various interactions that transpire with the elements of the lithosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.

We live at the whim of a complex system. As subjects to forces we barely understand. I don’t pretend to understand a fraction of most of it. Rather, I stand in awe of it. We are a single part in a ‘multi-system’. A component. A colony living as one. We are parts within parts within parts.

“Life presents an indivisible and in-dissolvable whole, in which all parts are interconnected. Both among themselves and with the invert medium of the biosphere”

Vladimir Vernadsky: The Biosphere, (Nature, Documents of Contemporary Art)

It seems eco- ‘logical’, to believe the universe is composed of both atoms and stories. Webs, waves and layers that grow ever more intricate as we descend into their depths. The creation of the universe is a story woven of many tales. Science, religion, myth and superstition each enjoy a narrative. These individual narratives all lend shape to our perceptions.

Blister Beetle

“Superstition is the poetry of life. Both invent imaginary beings. Both sense the strangest connections between real tangible elements – an interplay of sympathies and antipathies. Superstition does no harm to the poet, because he can turn his half-delusions into advantage in a variety of ways.”


Science Seeks Understanding

Art Seeks Awareness

Is life more than theory? Is the truth of existence knowable? And as theory, is it all just subject to revision? We base our lives, on philosophical structures and frameworks built by highly productive and imaginative, human minds.

We have overrode the rules, rewritten in the search for knowledge. If it seems like I am questioning the reality of the world around me in Journal Entry: Life Takes Shape, it is because I am. In general, that’s true in my life and in my art.

Importantly, I find myself wondering if everything is as I perceive. Around myself, I have created a tiny bubble. the bubble is fashioned of studio time and a home life. Each a known quantity. Through its walls, information is filtered. My work is an extrapolation of this information. And of experience and memory.

I suspect they are shaped by nostalgia and half-remembered recollection. Together they amount to crown, case and dial. A clock weighted by time that keeps ticking. Art and memories can become ash. I often wonder, just how much time do I have left? From stardust I came, to dust I go.

“Gone is the whiteness of snow – green remains in the grass of the fields, in the canopies of trees, and the airy grace of spring is with us again. Thus, time revolves, the passing hour that steals the light brings a message: immortality, for us, is impossible. Warm winds will be followed by cold”

Horace “Odes” Eng. Trans: Erica Segre/Simon Carnell

As a species, we have spent untold hours engaged in an intellectual pursuit. Through the ages new ways of thinking have been built upon the thoughts of those who came before. It is an endless cycle. An eternal rhythm. What role do you play?

Evolving # 2

I am a student of the universe. A disciple of the arts. And of physics, time, and space. I learn at the feet of life. The nature of consciousness is one of pursuit. We search for the elusive. For things to old and small to see. The something and somewhere.

In the drama of human development, the atom‘s discovery is part of complex and meaningful story. I don’t think its stopped developing. Our comprehension of the quantum-verse is sketchy, mine personally even worse.

I often face unseen edges. Can I rely on collective wisdom knowing there is so much more we don’t know? We think we know until we don’t. Just loose strands of thinking in this Journal Entry: Life Takes Shape.

Borders & Limits

Understanding is bordered by limits. Are limits walls we build higher than the reach of understanding? I know walls exist over which I can’t see. Human knowledge is a deep pool. It often feels like a precipice to me.

Is life a swelling dark ocean and knowledge a single raft? The depths sweep away beneath us, what are our life preservers?

We imagine ourselves, a highly evolved species. We sit at a pinnacle, benefitting from all that has come before. Homosapiens have discovered the elements and fashioned the Periodic Table. We have fathomed the existence of sub-atomic particles and made use of them.

Human beings make art in many beautiful forms. I marvel at the intricacies of exchange. But, I do question what I really know of my life and of yours. The darker side of our existence. The world is being laid waste around us.

“James (William) does not deny, of course, that human beings are conscious, both of themselves and of the world; what he denies is the existence of an entity called consciousness that stands apart and watches the contents of experience go by. What we feel and know, says James, arises from one part of experience entering into relation with another part, just as happens when we distinguish the separate qualities of an object, or indeed when we divide the flow of experience into objects – all these activities occurring within the flow and serving the needs, practical and intellectual.”

– Jacques Barzun : From Dawn to Decadence

Metaphor & Meaning

Artform & Analogy

We all have a knowledge of science. It may be mere ink spots on a Roche Test. And what do we know of conscious thought? Just how deep are we willing to enter the water? Our nature, who and what we are, is a grand adventure. But we are not its masters.

“Don’t take your intuitions and ideas to be ‘natural’: they are often the products of the ideas of audacious thinkers who came before us.”

Carlo Rovelli; The Order of Time

In life, metaphors and symbolic analogies are effective forms of communication. And as an artist, they are useful in my work. They reveal thinking that informs other deeper thoughts.

I can’t completely predict how work takes shape on canvas. A certain subject for interpretation, perspective or debate. But, both abstractly and in reality, dots of paint are molecules.

I do know thought does manifest through use of materials into visual elements. These elements form bacteria, chemicals, and physical lifeforms. They develop into cohesive compositions. They are set in a narrative. In the final analysis, they form a mirror. A reflective surface in which I look.

As I work, each new painting assumes distinctive life. Paint as atoms as paint are dots. Bound together, life takes shape and form. One becomes many – becomes multitude. Larger and more complex than any individual dot can be, of or by, itself.

My artist studio is a Petri dish. It has been inoculated with the mycelium of art, thinking and creativity.

Cellular Systems

Further Notes …

“The individual effect of a gene, (Ronald) Fischer argued, was like a dot of a pointillist painting. If you zoomed in close enough, you might see the dots as individual, discrete. But what we observe and experience in the natural world from afar was an aggregate of dots: pixels merging to form a seamless picture.” 

Siddhartha Mukherjee: The Gene: An Intimate History

“For we forget our origins; in our towns and cities, staring into our screens, we need constant reminding that we have been operators of computers for a single generation and workers in neon-lit offices for three or four, but we were farmers for five hundred generations, and before that hunter-gathers for perhaps fifty thousand or more, living with the natural world as part of it as we evolved, and the legacy cannot be done away with.”

Michael J. McCarthy: The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy 

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