The Empress Awakens


The Empress Awakens; an original mixed media painting on canvas, 24 x 36 x 1 1/2 inches

canvas, card strips, collage, crayon, pencil, acrylic ink, acrylic paints, wash, varnish

a large, vibrant painting that sets the tone of a room

an painting that speaks in texture and colour, with allusions to the archetype of The Empress of the tarot

I have three quotations for this one:

A kind of light spread out from her. And everything changed color. And the world opened out. And a day was good to awaken to. And there were no limits to anything. And the people of the world were good and handsome. And I was not afraid any more.
― John Steinbeck

See all of this world
As a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightening in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom and a dream.
–– Buddha

I called the world of phenomena an illusion, I called my eyes and my tongue and accident, valueless phenomena. No, that is all over; I have awakened, I have really awakened and have just been born today.
― Hermann Hesse

shipped with care –– with masonite board

everything from my store comes with an extra art surprise

ESCAPE THE DREAMING PLANET –– live your life with original art

besides, Spring is almost upon us!


boxing is easy, love is much harder


boxing is easy, love is much harder; a book art object, front and back covers, 6 x 9 x 1 inches.

I have three quotes for this one

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
~ Lao Tzu

Boxing is smoky halls and kidneys battered until they bleed.
~ Roger Kahn

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Snowing today, which means I have a push-shovel workout waiting for me at home.

important things i’ve learned too late


important things i’ve learned too late; an original mixed media collage on cradled wood panel; 5 x 7 x 1 3/4 inches; canvas stretched over a wood frame

The focus of this collage is a wax monoprint. I like using these quite a bit because of their semi-transparency –– how they let colour and marks from beneath show through.

This is a thoughtful little painting that makes a perfect gift for someone –– I package it and label it nicely, and even mail it directly to the recipient for you. And there’s nothing like getting original art.

I always pick a few quotes for my listings, and for this one I have three:

It is never too late to be what you might have been.
~ George Eliot

Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.
~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Everything has been said, and we are more than seven thousand years of human thought too late.
~ Jean de la Bruyere

Winter is here, but there’s still plenty we can do.


… but the sky is empty.

large paintings in my studio

A short video of large paintings in my studio (and online store) as of August 1st, 2017. I want to make more of these kinds of things, as much for my own memory (it doesn’t take long to forget what I’ve done, what I’ve sold where) as anything else.

The title of this post comes from a Sylvia Plath quotation: “I talk to God but the sky is empty.” It fits well with the first painting I’ve done since getting back from holidays ––and back into the studio this past Sunday, called The Doubter.

The Doubter; mixed media, 24 x 30 x 1.75 inches, cradled wood panel.

In Dracula, Bram Stoker writes: “I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt; I fear; I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul.”

I doubt almost everything these days. I turn on the radio and hear impossible things – Los Angeles actually wanting the 2028 Summer Olympics (please see the smoking economic ruins of Athens, Rio, et al) or the son of an American president taking hotel-room meetings with Russians. What to eat, what not to eat (right now fasting seems to be a thing), how to exercise, what to read, what to wear, how to get rich. As I get older I seem to have embraced a kind of blankness, as if the noise of the world was smoke, and the only real thing behind it is the idea that I should stick to my own plans.

But I did have a good holiday, in that crooked little cottage overlooking the Northumberland Strait. Two weeks was enough: I read four books, took innumerable naps, walked in the ocean, hit golf balls with a wedge from sandbar to sandbar, up and down the shore. But I always fill up with schemes and intention while on holiday, so it’s good to be back, and we’ll see how we do.

The heart of a maiden is a dark forest.



The Maiden; mixed media on cradled wood panel, 18 x 24 x 1.75 inches.

Second blonde in a row for me, while still on this kick of icons (martyrs, idols, demigods, characters more poster than real) in a larger format. But the ideas for working small are creeping in, too.

Strange times. I look at the news and see spidery arrangements in lies and advertising. Of course the broken centre of this is the president of the United States, a character so blurry and appalling as to not seem real. Which, in a way, he is not. It seems even within the confines of his own skull he is not. The cultural historian Patrick Wright once described him as

A smudged deadbeat left over from the Reagan era … and propped up in a temporary kind of way by ailing US and Japanese banks that couldn’t afford to let him expire completely … If Trump was in the White House which, as he was rash enough to hint in those undiminished days, he might well be before too long, then he could follow the examples of Presidents Reagan and Harding, and look for astrological anchorage in the stars.

Or Twitter. That was in 1991. I guess this is the logical wreckage of neoliberalism, of the the triumph of markets and money and branded individualism above all. Trump speaks the language of reality television, which is really very simple: promise anything to anyone, and otherwise say whatever you need to say to confuse the issue, while advancing spaces in your mind. Even on TV this is sometimes dubious.

My attention to this is sporadic, at best. All I can do is work. There are really very few things I am any good at. I hope painting is one of them.

The Reverie


The Reverie; mixed media, cradled wood panel, 18 x 24 x 1.75 inches. More pictures here.

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

A Sunday trip to the library morphs into a broken conversation with a shrugging security guard about a locked door –– “It’s summer hours,” she explains. “But you can still use the book return!” Hooray. So Oona and I wander the mall for awhile, waiting on mom to do some shopping. Almost instantly I find myself in Claire’s, where I get conned into buying a two-piece charm bracelet that reads BEST FRIENDS. “I’ll make my bed, daddy,” Oona lies, because that’s her currency instead of money. I shrug. I give in. BEST FRIENDS. Then we wander some more. Everyone looks like extras from a pirate movie; there are limps, eye patches, tattoos, blindness, crutches, more blindness, hips where hips don’t belong, brown and blue teeth, horizontal facial scars, missing fingers, invented hairstyles, ballooning outfits with stars on them. The psychic weight is crushing.

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

Halfway through my morning shower, the water pressure falls by half and my entire world view reasserts itself, comes into focus: people are going to do what they are going to do. Certainly I can storm upstairs, half-soaped and fully crazed, and ask, Are we all done running water yet? Certainly right is right. But where does that kind of thinking get me? Right is never right. These days, ‘right’ is more of a shrug. The whole reason I get up first in the morning, long before anyone else, is to go around problems like this. And going around these things, I think, is the key. A guy comes into my office with some marked-up photocopy of a job that I’ve never seen and says, I don’t have any of the text or pictures for this, how long will it take to do? Certainly, How about never? feels about right. But then he’s going lose his nut, and sooner than later I’ll have my manager in my office, bursting at the hairline trying to manage something. So I say, Leave it with me, let me take a better look at it, I’m just having some computer issues right now, and I just have this other job to finish first, there’s this thing with this other person tomorrow, but I’ll get to it as soon as I can. And then I take a long lunch, and leave early, and the day after that I’m on holiday for a week.

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

Listening to Naomi Klein on Democracy Now!, and the interlude music is some Ani DiFranco song, I might as well be in a dream where it’s 1999 and I’m sitting in front of a red velour curtain in some musty theatre in Winnipeg, and some girl with ripped jeans and dirty hair is explaining to me how wrong I am about everything, and how I really need to read the I Ching and get my teeth fixed.

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

I need to start running again. For months this winter I trained for the Limestone 5K, all the way from only being able to run 90 seconds at a time to going the entire distance without pause. I ran every second day, without fail. I ran when there was no one else out there, often late at night, in the cold and the dark. And on the morning of April 30th, in freezing rain, I ran the race. Ta-dah. And then we went to Cuba for a week. And then: June. Goals have a way of deflating themselves.

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

It’s the staff barbecue so I take the day off. I believe that work is meant to be work –– not a place to fulfill your dreams, not a place to make best friends, not a place where people know anything about you, not even a place to score free hotdogs. The ideal situation is to be the polite person at the end of the hall with a job description that coworkers don’t understand or care about. Also, if management wants to show me how much they care, then please spend that hotdog money on institutional improvements. How about clean bathrooms? How about coffee in the kitchen? How about air-conditioning? How many mission statements read like conspiracy theory. Anyway, excellence now!

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

No real plan in the studio lately. I’d been set to move out –– briefly, there had been a person known to police in the studio next door –– and then the situation resolved itself, and it was if some kind of reset button had been pushed. So I’ve been painting large paintings, with a mind for icons and characters. All painting is therapy, and the works themselves just relics for the cult of beautiful but pointless posterity.

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

People walking around downtown in two of three dimensions on a Friday night and I think, Is it Mental Health Week again? Forever? In Kingston, at least. A woman tells me that Jesus loves me. Another is swearing at her two chihuahuas. At least they’re on a leash. The people in front of the McDonalds look like the Apple Dumpling Gang on opioids. Purple gums, yellow fingers.

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

It’s summer, I guess. Men walking around in shorts, white chicken leg embarrassment. The women on the cover of the magazines by the checkout have lustrous dark hair parted straight down the middle, their hairlines an inch above the eyebrow. People squinting at things. More humidity than heat. Oona has a final ‘play’ for her acting class; the teachers say the lines for the kids, then the kids repeat them. I guess that’s how we do things now.

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

If you’d like to read more things like this, please subscribe to my Tinyletter.