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Thoughts & Notes

On the subjects I paint

Making Art : Forms & Functions

Thinking & Exploring Life Through the Making of Art

Journal Entry: Structure & Form : Life, Art & Creative Thinking

Reading Time: 13 minutes

Making Art : Form & Function

Spheres of Influence
Series: Structure & Form 42″x48″ acrylic on canvas

“Reality is what does not go away when you stop believing in it.”Philip K. Dick

Art & Thinking

Analogous Concepts United as One

To think and make art are analogous. I can’t imagine doing one without the other. The work and words in this post are intended as illumination on the path I am exploring. My artwork provides an outsider with an inside look at how I interpret life but greater still, in artmaking I learn about self. Like a moonlight on a dark night, these journal entries help me light my way.

To understand my work as an artist, is to understand my passions and concerns in this world. My art and life are inseparable. I have made art when it’s painful; at the height of despair and when joyful.

Waveform 15

Of all the patterns and forms of nature, the spiral has probably held the greatest appeal for mystics and dreamers. It is revered by adherents of ‘sacred geometry,’ who consider the patterns and forms of nature to embody spiritual truths of the cosmos. Spirals are found in ancient and indigenous art ranging from carvings on Bronze Age stones of Newgrange in Ireland to the paintings of Australian Aborigines.

Philip Ball

My art and life are inseparable. Ideas take shape and sometimes evolve from some of the most most undefined or unrefined sketches. In thought and in form, I do not feel organized in artmaking. I have been told otherwise but, the process always feels a bit chaotic.

I find room for creative freedom in many emotional states. However, states of mind do have their influences so mindfulness is important.

Installing work at the 10 x 10 x 10 Challenge

Grasping and reaching my way through this, I try and allow art some space to grow. I search for context and I look for seeds to cultivate. What sprouts can be as surprising to me as to anyone else.

Physicists interested in alternative energy now model superconductors with bubbles. Pathologists decribe AIDS as a ‘foamy’ virus, for the way cells swell before exploding. Entomologists know of insects that use bubbles like submersibles to breathe underwater, and ornithologists know that the metallic sheen of peacock feathers plumage comes from light tickling bubbes in the feathers.

Sam Kean

Art and thought beget one-another. As a matter of fact, they lead, inextricably, to one another.

Cell: Red with Yellow

Man gives proof of reflection when the power of his soul acts so freely that he can segregate, if I may say so, one wave in the entire ocean of sensations which rushes through all his senses – segregate it, stop it, direct his attention to it, and be conscious of his attention. He gives proof of reflection when out of the whole drifting dream of images that passes by his senses he can collect himself in one moment of wakefulness, dwell voluntarily upon one image, observe it lucidly and more calmly and pick out for himself characteristics which show that this is the object and no other.

Johann Gottried von Herder

Art leads me in many directions. I search for context in language and visual perceptions.

Clone: Yellow

Creativity is a multi-track roadway and forms the crossroads from which I am able to approach my everyday life. It is a super-highway at times and raucous in intensity. The ideas and thoughts that traverse these tracks and lanes play at the back of my mind like noisey kids on a schoolbus learning to communicate.

Language assists the mind in stabilizing and perserving intellectual entities. It does this, for example, with the perceptual concepts that emerge from direct experience. The generalities that are aquired in perception are embedded in the continuum of the visual world. The concept of ‘tree’ rests on an endless variety of trees of different color, shape, and size; it is found inherent in each tree but is not indentical with any one specimen. Furthermore, the range to which such a type concept applies is not clearly confined but slides into that of its neighbors. Trees border on shrubs, vegetables blend with fruits …

Rudolf Arnheim

The roots of art and thought run deep, through my life and the world around me. They spiral and branch into projects and philosophical inquiries in beautiful ways. Conceptually, art and thought both exist in the Noosphere which is defined as an evolutionary stage dominated by consciousness.

Here is a place I find depth, meaning and a place of reflection; in the embrace of nature and quiet reflection.

Reflections : in the Queens’s Park

Making Decisions

Both Conscious & Otherwise

I enjoy spontaneity. There is freedom in letting loose and just throwing some paint around. It can be, however, a challenge for me. I make many conscious decisions, which happen continuously from the beginning to the end of every project. As I work, corrective adjustments are made and sometimes what I end up with, is not where I thought I was going in the first place.

I imagine artmaking to be similar to an evolutionary process. Life makes changes in relation to the environment. I make changes in relation to what is taking shape on the surface in front of me.

Setting all this aside if it were possible, I suspect there are many decisions that happen at an unconscious level. From conception, I assume an increasing complexity will evolve in my artwork. Experience has taught me this. Sometimes I realize I have not pushed my work far enough in a given direction, or that I have instead, taken a route safe and known. At other times, I am acting on a feeling.

I need to see my thoughts in words as well as paint on canvas. I throw words out into the air and they land on paper. This process became importance after I was diagnosed with HIV and permanently injured on a jobsite. After a few writing workshops, I began to work on telling my story instead of the stories of others. It is very different than the work I did as a journalist.

Are there overriding strands of thought in my creative process? If so, what are these and where do they lead? It is a full time job recognizing these strands and teasing them apart.

So, here I am – and here you are. In this journal, I am able to take a step back and think about what I’m doing in a way different than what happens when at the easel. Much like a viral infection, I find conceived ideas are capable of spreading to other bodies of artwork.

Journal Entry: Structure & Form

What Makes a Series?

Determining where a series of works begins and were it ends often seems a bit arbitrary.

Waveform 12

I feel at times I am at work on a jigsaw puzzle without the benefit of the box lid. This is where the framework of a journal has proven useful. Just writing down my thoughts helps clarify and illuminate.

Writing allows me to gain needed structure and form to what is a chaotic creative process. In words, I can formulate ideas and sketch a roadmap in the search and discovery of what ultimately drives me.

These journal entries always begin as notes. I’ve ended up with so many of them I now place them on index cards and file them under sources. Whether anyone reads these posts hasn’t been a primary motivator, but I strive to be clear in intention.

This Journal Entry: Structure & Form is a capturing of notes, of feelings, thoughts and ideas, in a structured manner. They are more than a long list of unconnected observations. The reveal instead the interconnected nature of the universe. A series acts as a form of classification for identifying connections.

“Human beings are ultimately nothing but carriers – passageways – for genes. They ride us into the ground like racehorses from generation to generation. Genes don’t think about what constitutes good or evil. They don’t care whether we are happy or unhappy. We’re just a means to an end for them. The only thing they think about is what is most efficient for them.”

Haruki Murakami, IQ84

Beneath a Microscope

The Madness of Art in Detail

My understanding of the complexity of the Biosphere and Ecosphere have deepened overtime. A deeping of knowledge and appreciation of complexity have happened in the sciences as well as in art.

The methods I’ve chosen to explore the biosphere and the ecological systems around me have broadened. My life clock ticks closer to the end each day, and still more remains to be discovered.

Titan Beetle Ink Sketch

I like to imagine what might be observable beneath a microscope when I work. I like to apply that same type of detailed observation to each artwork. I do so, with the intention of enlarging and expanding on it. I enjoy making what I see bigger than life-size and more a subject to creative whim.

When I look at nature and the structural forms of life, I am amazed by the incredible complexity I see. Even those things that initially seem relatively simple can be surprising in form and connected relationships. In the ecosphere, the micro becomes the macro whether we see it or not.

A general definition of the Ecosphere, or Biosphere is the global ecological system. This system integrates all living beings and their relationships. Therefore, it includes their interactions with the elements of the lithosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, and the atmosphere.

I have been seduced by science. Unlike science-fiction, science-fact hasn’t always arrive at neat and tiding endings. Genius minds have left pages and milestones scattered across our collective history.

Installation : 10 x 10 x 10 Challenge at Wailoa

Science has arrived at definite conclusions. But each day, more is brought to light as we look deeper, farther, and ever smaller. As our vision becomes more penetrating, our questions have only grown, and our designs have increased in scale and grandor.


“Neither science nor the arts can be complete without combining their separate strengths. Science needs the invitation and metaphoric power of the arts, and the arts need the fresh blood of science.”E. O. Wilson

Orange Crush

Chain of Reasoning

Thinking & Making Art

All manner of thoughts come to mind when I am working. I am visited by the wanted and the unwanted. I think about the structures of molecules and cells. At other times, an insect or cloud may hold my attention.

My art reveals my interests in the structural properties of flowers, fish and landscapes. If that interest wasn’t there I wouldn’t make them. Ultimately, they are only representational approximations.

I like to look at my subjects and imagine them at the sub-atomic level. Here similarities often abound, unseen by the unaided human eye. A miracle of nature and of scientific observation.

Conceptually, I perceive this same type of organization happening with my artwork. At times I need help in seeing it, but the weaving of this creative rainbow keeps the different directions my work takes, bound together.

Form Follows Function

Some of the prime ecological forces explored in my work are represented by free-floating forms of color, shape, and texture. My work assumes meaning and emotion through intentional use of materials. This Journal Entry: Structure & Form touches upon that and is developed throughout these pages.

I notice patterns emerge. Some paintings lead me to places paved with a specific pattern that developes. I expound on it in new works and in words. At times, no predetermined direction leads me. It either works or it doesn’t. I’ve probably had more failed paintings than ones I think successful. An acceptance of this fact orients me to seeing these works as tools in learning.

Sometimes a path that leads nowhere is exactly what is needed. I would be less than honest if I said, not having something tangible to show for spent time spent can be frustrating.

gallery-ocean world
Moorish Idol

It is always an interesting experiment and challenge to allow ourselves room to make mistakes. Somewhere in there are the seeds of learning. Making mistakes is not what I think the structure of our societies encourages or pushes us toward.

Making a mistake, can be a blatant challenge to both outer and inner voices screaming orders to be productive, producing, and constantly sure of myself. Perfection as a direction can only lead to misery. I battle this … is this where the gauntlet has been thrown to the ground?

“When our minds undergo sudden, and profound alterations – in opinion, or belief, in love or in what is called artistic inspiration – what is the ultimate cause? We see the results but grasp the chain of reasoning at a look well below the hook from which it hangs.”

– Jacques Barzun : From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present

Think Art and a Structure Forms

A Metabolic Process

Akin to a metabolic process, one of breath, life and art. The series ‘Structures and Forms,’ continues a creative curve found throughout my body of work.

Tool Making as an Artform

Biology is Art

Art Invites Science

The series’ Structure and Form’ evolved from the initial ideas formulated in Clones and Replicants.’ The series serves me as an expansion of molecular and cellular structure interpretations.

I further expand on these ideas in the series ‘Life Takes Shape’. These all lead inevitably, to the more complex forms of life I paint. And, they lead to complex systems like ‘Landscapes‘. Whatever the form taken, they document my exploration of self.

Beargrass : Along the Trail In Paradise Park, Mt Hood

“We know that bacteria and other sorts of microbial cells (microbe is a generic term for all microscopic organisms that can live as single cells) are by far the most numerous life forms on earth. They inhabit every environment, from the high atmosphere to the depths of the earth’s crust. Without them, life would come to a standstill. They break down waste, build soils, recycle nutrients and capture from the air the nitrogen that plants and animals need to grow. And when scientists look at our own bodies, they see that for each and every one of our 30-trillion or more human cells, we have at least one microbial cell. You – and every other human being – are not an isolated, individual entity, but a huge and constantly changing colony made up of human and non-human cells.”

– Paul Nurse : What Is Life? Five Great Ideas in Biology

Stardust & Cells

A Biocentric Design

The human body contains over 100-trillion cells. As one, in thought and action, I attempt to mindfully apply mine to creating and forming art woven together with intertwining lines of process and concept.

gallery-symbols & cyphers

I am not always successful controlling my thoughts. Sometimes, I feel like I am trying to herd cats. That is the wild mind at work.


I am inspired by scientific knowledge. A cliche, perhaps, to say we are the stuff of stars, but I love the idea that every carbon atom in my body formed long ago in the nuclear furnace of a distant star.

I am humbled by the knowledge that my mind and body are only one example of the many complex structures and intricate forms in existence and rooted in this cosmic process.

“Recent experiments show conclusively that the brain’s electromagnetic connections, it’s neural impulses traveling at 240 miles per hour, cause decisions to be made faster than we are even aware of them. In other words, the brain and mind, too operate all by itself, without need for external meddling by our thoughts, which incidentally occur by themselves. So, control, is largely an illusion. As Einstein put it, ‘We can will ourselves to act, but we cannot will ourselves to will’.”

Robert Lanza with Bob Berman; Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe

“I don’t deny that one can develop habits of rigor in the pursuit of the arts and humanities. But in science and technology you acquire an exacting attitude more quickly, and you learn, that deviations will be punished.”Miroslav Holub

Cell: Yellow with Blue

There are 100 distinct sub-atomic particles of which three, the proton, neutron and electron, form stable associations. This associations form atoms comprising the 92 naturally occurring elements. In the human body, 99.4% of the atoms are the elements nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen or carbon.

These are the things I think about as I gaze deep into the sky, into the dark and bright reaches of the infinite.

Stardust is Elemental

Abstract Notions

Painting in abstraction is an elemental action where I search for stability. It is the point from which I move towards and away from reality. In fully encompassing what I clearly see before me an altered abstracted form emerges.

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few people near us. Our task must be to widen our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Albert Einstein

These paintings individually explore and play with many ideas. The scale feels cosmological, although it begins in my head. It is a mind game I play with myself: Questioning my work each step of the way and still finding acceptance.

Clone: Orange

“Yet another way of appreciating the vacuity of space is the modern finding that seeming emptiness seethes with almost unimaginable energy, which manifests as virtual particles of physical matter jumping in and out of reality like trained fleas. The seemingly empty matrix upon which the storybook of reality is set is actually a living, animated ‘field’, a powerful entity that is anything but empty.”

– Robert Lanza with Bob Berman: Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe

Dark Matter

In Search of What I Cannot See

I try and keep my thoughts ahead of the impulses or I would never finish anything. Absorbing what I can in a conscious matter, I let things take direction as they develop.

Each singular painting is an element that acts like a compound in a larger amorphous work. I see it as a non-living, non-organic organism and I am the living center.

Two Hearts

Working at being mindful, reminds me at times of the dark matter and energy of the universe. It’s what you cannot see that holds the most power. Nature and life, add shape and structure to thinking and the making of art.

“The percentage of energy in dark matter is about 26%. In ordinary matter about 5%, and in dark energy about 69%. Most of the energy of ordinary matter is carried by ‘atom’ and ‘ordinary matter’ interchangeably. In other words, dark matter carries five times the energy of ordinary matter, meaning it carries 85% of the energy of matter in the universe.”

Lisa Randall: Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe

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