The other day I caught the last episode of “One Strange Rock” narrated by Will Smith.
It’s a 10-part cinematic series exploring the fragility and wonder of planet Earth. Shown to be one of the most peculiar, unique places in the universe, it really delves into this beautiful planet. There are eight astronauts who provide unique perspectives and relate personal memoirs of the planet seen from a distance.
By the way, if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It left me feeling hopeful and optimistic about our planet and the human race, which is rare in our culture of “disaster” driven television.
The thing is, there was something powerful about the experience of the astronauts living out on the international space station. Looking down at our planet for the first time and flushed with a feeling that most of them said was so powerful that the words to describe the experience do not exist.
They also left space with the deep realization that they were no longer just citizens of where they came from.
Most of us describe ourselves as being from a town, a state, school, religion, or country. Our identity is wrapped up in the experience we have had.
I’m a New Yorker.
I’m a Harvard Graduate.
Most of the time when we identify ourselves in this way we are setting ourselves apart. Separating ourselves from the rest of the world. We find other people with a similar identity and we can relate to them… we have something in common.
What is interesting about this phenomenon, is when someone travels and stays somewhere for a while, they may adopt a new identity. Someone who travels the world starts to identify themselves as a person of the world.
For the astronauts, they were literally out of this world. They experienced something that not many of us will be able to imagine, a sense of looking at the whole planet and saying “There is my home”.
No walls, no borders, no race, no color, no gender, and no real separate identity… Just human beings living on a rock hurdling through space.
I think that is beautiful, and the words “One Shared Place” hit me in the chest and almost brought me to tears. So I created a tee shirt that I’ll be able to look at and wear to remind me of what is reality.
There are so many excuses that we use to set ourselves apart from one another, sometimes it is to give us a sense of being better than someone else.
But, we all came from the same place, we share the same place, we will die in the same place… The Earth.
We are all human beings, anything else used to describe us is only based on walls that we built in our own heart.
Where the Pensacola News Journal building once stood is now a series of luxury apartments built to add affordable living space to beautiful downtown Pensacola. Developers tore down the old News Journal building to make way for Southtowne Apartments, which is made up of rental units and retail shops designed to appeal to the downtown crowd.
I was invited to live paint at a private event held for their new residents. Although the project is still under construction, I have to say, it is a beautiful location. I couldn’t help but look around and think to myself that I could easily live there.
Balconies, views, sidewalks, stores, amenities, parking, and downtown right out your front door… right up my alley. My only concern is that wherever we go, the studio comes with us and the need for room to create.
Anyhow, Klee and I mingled while I painted and showed off a few of my finished works. We had an amazing time, with some really beautiful and sweet people.
This project along with other things going on downtown gets me excited for the future of Pensacola and the direction it is heading in. This town has really embraced its creative community and moved forward with a lot of events and projects that support local art and artists.
In my opinion, we can use a few more commercial art galleries downtown, but I’m sure that will happen eventually and for the time being I love the relationship I have with the businesses that show my art.
My only criticism of the Southtowne project and big projects like it is the lack of local art on their walls. I could be wrong about this, but walking around I saw beautifully decorated spaces with all kinds of art, but no one I recognized locally… Still, beautiful stuff, but I would be highly disappointed if it came from Kirkland’s.
Either way, we had a blast Saturday night and met some amazing folks. We look forward to seeing it in all its glory when completed.
You guys know how much I love my silly and witty t-shirts, but did you know that I actually have a difficult time finding them? Luckily, I have great friends who know how to shop for the obscure. I have to thank them and Klee for most of the fun shirts I own.
Even still, there are some shirts that I want, that simply don’t exist… so, I’m going to create them, and offer them to the world because… why not.
Along with my beautiful artistic designs that I showed you last week, I have also been building a fun T-shirt collection that will be releasing within my catalog.
These are all fun t-shirts that I want for myself. Some of the t-shirts will be geared towards art and artists, some will be based on our YouTube channel, some will be just plain silly, and others will be mind puzzles.
This collection will be in addition to the art clothing I am designing. The catalog for all of it will be released in early October if everything stays on track.
I’m really excited about this, especially because I love the idea of wearing my own fun.
Some of it will not be every person’s taste, but I’m alright with that.
Stay tuned, and please let me know if you have ANY ideas for a fun t-shirt you would like to see.
Yesterday Klee and I dropped off some of our art for the 25th Anniversary Show at Artel Gallery in downtown Pensacola.
As some of you know, I won ‘Best Of Show’ at the last exhibition with my sculpture. Klee was there with me at the reception, she has always been so supportive. At every reception, she has been there to help me face anything that may come my way and to be my cheerleader.
What makes this particular show super exciting for me is that Klee also has a piece in the show. So we will both be there for the reception on June 14th strutting our stuff and representing our own art. This will give me a chance to show my support for her and her awesome talent.
This event is open to the public, so please join us on June 14th, 6pm at Artel Gallery in Downtown Pensacola.
My submission is Chasing Fairies.
ABOUT THIS PAINTING
In a world where everything is much more serious and complicated than those moments of innocence and wonder we experienced as children, this piece symbolizes the child within all of us that will believe in the impossible. Everything is possible.
Klee’s Submission is “Everlasting Oak” Tree of Life Pendant Necklace.
One of a kind solid 14k gold tree of life necklace on a stunning rectangular cushion cut moss agate stone with genuine blue diamond leaves.
Moss Agate is a variety of Chalcedony, a mineral of the Quartz family. It is clear to milky white, with dendritic inclusions of manganese or iron that has grown into patterns similar to moss or lichen. It has been highly regarded throughout history as a stone of strengthening, stability, healing, balance and abundance.
The oak tree has long been a symbol of strength, endurance, wisdom and nobility, highly revered for it’s size and longevity as well as the abundant gifts it has provided over the centuries. This tree, created in solid gold and blue diamonds, is truly an “Everlasting Oak.”
Diamonds are the most well known symbol of “forever”. The leaves of this tree are genuine conflict free blue diamonds (color enhanced). Their color is a greenish-teal blue that perfectly compliments the mossy inclusions of the agate. 44 of them adorn the branches of this tree, sparkling and shimmering in a truly magical way.
Hope to see you there:
What: Art Exhibition – 25th Anniversary Show Where: Artel Gallery – 223 Palafox Place, Old Escambia County Courthouse, Pensacola, FL 32502 When: Opening Reception June 14th, 6pm-8pm (Show Runs June 5th – July 13th) Why: Because it’s awesome! Come hang out with us during the opening reception!
I recently decided to expand my art reach and hit a market that I’ve always been a little too afraid to hit. The market of clothing, mugs, and other cool home decor items.
The reason I have hesitated is because I am so used to being completely hands on with my creations. Every artwork and print that leaves my studio is touched by me and is completely bespoke.
And although I love the idea of producing artistic clothing with my own hands, it is an overwhelming task and one that would stretch me too thin and be quite expensive. Instead I decided to partner up with Redbubble and Fine Art America. They have a great reputation and between the both of them produce a plethora of great quality items.
I’m slowly but surely building a catalog of items. In the design phase I am creating the templates for each product and going over the details to make sure that they not only look awesome, but are top notch.
The plan is to have items for home decor, accessories such as iPhone wallets, Yoga mats, and clothing. The women’s line includes an A line dress and a Chiffon top, along with t-shirts for men.
I am currently in the design phase although technically I guess you can purchase the items I have already listed, though I have not released the series yet. I will be creating some designs that are specifically for t-shirts and various products offered and that will take some time. I plan on scheduling the official release for the Christmas season, so stay tuned.
Please let me know your thoughts and if there is any specific design or artwork you would like to see… I love the challenge.
As some of you know, I am a big supporter of smiling. In fact I’m all about inspiring a smile where ever I go with my #inspireasmile campaign.
Right now, you are either nodding your head or rolling your eyes, but do you know why smiling is so important? Let’s break it down.
Obviously, smiling has well-documented social benefits, you aren’t going to be invited to many parties if you constantly wear resting-bitch-face. A genuine smile and positive attitude can make you seem more likable, attractive, intelligent, trustworthy or outgoing.
But did you know that smiling more often—regardless of your mood—can improve your health and help you live longer?
1. Improved Mood
Smiling can boost your mood when you’re feeling blue, and may be beneficial for people struggling with anxiety and depression. A 2010 study found that making yourself smile when you’re feeling down helps improve your mood and increases positive thoughts. So, if you’re having a bad day, try smiling anyway—it may lead to a genuine smile and lift your spirits.
2. Lower Blood Pressure
Smiling and laughing more appear to help lower your blood pressure, which is good news for your heart health. A 2009 review explains that laughter causes an initial increase in heart rate, followed by a period of muscle relaxation and a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, which helps reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
3. Stress Relief
Did you know that smiling more often, whether you’re feeling happy or not, helps your body deal with stressful situations more effectively? A 2015 study published in Psychological Science found that smiling can result in a lower heart rate during stressful tasks. Stress generally causes increases in heart rate and blood pressure. So, maintaining a smile when stressed provides you with both psychological and physical health benefits.
4. Better Relationships
Have you noticed that you’re drawn to people who smile a lot? People who smile are perceived as being more likable than people who don’t smile, according to one 2014 study. Being likable makes it easier to build and maintain better relationships with people, which is important for your overall health and well-being. A 2010 study found that people with positive emotions have more stable marriages and better interpersonal skills than people with negative emotions. So, keep a smile on your face to help create stronger, healthier social bonds.
5. Stronger Immune Function
Believe it or not, laughter (which often begins with a smile) appears to help boost your body’s immune system. Mayo Clinic reports that laughter and positive thoughts release signaling molecules in your brain that fight stress and illnesses, while negative thoughts decrease your body’s immunity. One 2015 study found that laughter therapy increases immune responses in women who have just had babies. So, maybe laughter really is the best medicine.
6. Pain Relief
Pain relief might be the last thing you’d associate with smiling and laughter, but there are, indeed, links. Mayo Clinic reports that laughter causes your body to release its own natural painkillers. And a 2012 study found that social laughter increases your pain threshold, creating a higher pain tolerance. So, if you’re in pain due to an injury, illness or chronic disease, watch a funny movie, attend a comedy show or hang out with friends and family who make you smile.
7. Longer Life
It turns out that the fountain of youth might be right under your nose. A 2010 study found that smiling and positive emotions are associated with increased life spans. Talk about a reason to smile!
So, Happy National Smile Day!! Go ahead and give us a smile!
As we hang out today in the studio, I am working on something new. There’s carving, etching, gluing, inking, cutting, rolling, and a lot of “oh crap” coming from me as I piece my technique together.
For a while now I’ve been wanting to create a series of pieces that are meant to be verbal reminders of feeling good. I sometimes add an empowering word or phrase to my paintings, but those are rare because I don’t really feel the urge to add words to imagery very often.
I remember back in my corporate days there were all these posters on the wall that were meant to motivate the employees. Things like the word ‘leadership’ with a picture of an eagle, or ‘teamwork’ with a bunch of dudes rowing a boat. I thought they were stupid… I still think they’re stupid.
Nowadays I have things that I put up in the studio and around the house to motivate me and give me a sense of empowerment. The difference is that instead of promoting complacency, everything I put up is about celebrating your individuality and feeling empowered… Also, they’re not stupid.
The other difference is that I hand create them, not simply print them out of a printer.
Each piece in the series will have a limited run of 100, will be signed and numbered by me. For this Memorial day weekend I have these for 25% off, plus other items in our store are on sale until Tuesday May 29th.
Also, if you want something specific that means something powerful to you, please contact me about creating a print inspired by you.
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As I approached the gallery I found myself wondering how in the world I was going to get the massive sculpture I constructed up the stairs. I had somehow managed to squeeze it into my car without damaging it, which I attributed to dumb luck.
Luck seemed to be on my side that morning, considering I had pulled into a parking spot right in front of the shiny and unending staircase into the gallery.
I’ve entered the juried art competitions at Artel Gallery a handful of times with varying results. I still remember the first piece I entered, which was rejected with no particular pomp and circumstance. It was laid off to the side with the other rejects waiting for me to glumly collect it, like picking up a child from detention.
That rejection had a devastating impact on my self esteem as an artist for some time. I had just started selling my art and gaining some traction with local collectors, and it caused me to feel like I wasn’t good enough to continue masquerading as an artist.
It wasn’t until several years later that I decided to enter another piece, which didn’t get rejected.
The marble steps to the gallery blazed white in the hot sun, daring me to make a move. I had managed to get the sculpture out of the car without damaging it, knocking myself in the head only once.
The only idea that my mind could seem to muster that morning was to pick up the sculpture and maneuver the stairs as quickly as possible. The sculpture isn’t necessarily heavy, it’s just awkward to carry around, because like most sculptures, I didn’t design it to be carried around.
I prepared myself at the bottom of the mountainous stairs, glanced around to make sure no one was watching, and steadied my breath. One false move and all the work and effort that went into my art would be laying in pieces on the forbidding marble steps.
After deciding to enter my art again, I got pieces into four separate shows, won best of show, and had a solo show in their alcove. I also got rejected two more times, but it didn’t have an impact on my self esteem as an artist. Some might attribute the lack of feeling dejected to the fact that I had a couple years as a career artist under my belt, but I know plenty of seasoned artists who have a difficult time with any rejection.
I don’t have difficulty with rejection because after two years of avoiding art competitions, I finally realized that you can’t win if you don’t enter; and your art is not being rejected, it simply didn’t match the taste of the juror. The thing is, that art competitions don’t matter, but if you want to win one, you are going to have to face rejection. In fact, if you want to do anything awesome or important with your art career, you are probably going to face a lot of rejection and criticism.
If you want to be safe from rejection, then don’t put yourself out there, don’t do anything different from the norm, don’t try to have a voice, and definitely don’t become an artist.
Simply because someone rejects your artwork (or whatever it may be) doesn’t mean that you are worthless. It doesn’t have anything to do with you, and never will. A lot of people avoid thinking about being rejected or losing, but in my opinion it’s a good idea to think about that worst case scenario, and face the fear in your mind.
What if my piece gets rejected? How will I feel? What does it mean?
These could be hard questions, but until you ask yourself and question the validity of your answers, you are going to keep reacting in misery to rejection. The really cool thing about exploring these questions is that you don’t have to react at all, you can respond to the situation however you like.
My answers are less dramatic and devastating since I’ve had a chance to explore this topic and really decide how I want to respond to these questions and this particular type of rejection.
What if my piece gets rejected?
Then it get’s rejected. I pick it up, bring it home and probably sell it at some point in my lifetime. Who knows, it may win a prize at some other art competition… just didn’t suit the juror this time I guess.
How will I feel?
Fine, I have other more important things to focus on.
What does this mean?
Only what I think it means. If I think I’m a failure or a reject, that’s on me. This is an opportunity for me to show myself who I am, by the way I respond. I choose to respond by saying “Well, maybe next time… I got shit to do right now.”
I glanced around one more time, held my breath, and made a run for it. I verbally counted every step as I ascended the stairs with the agility of sloth in running shoes.
Out of breath and elated that I made it to the top, I stood there gleaming in victory. I then proceeded to scrape and bang my way awkwardly through the front door, hitting my head one more time for good measure. I placed the sculpture safely in the gallery lobby, signed it in, and breathed a sigh of relief.
By the way, it was number 13 in the roster… talk about dumb luck.
I had done it. I achieved something I thought was impossible to do on my own, willing to face humiliation and rejection for something I love and believe in… my art, my sense of fun, my freedom to be me.
Had I given up, after that first rejection it would have controlled me. I would have spent the rest of my life being afraid to face rejection, and I would have been filled with “what ifs”.
I don’t believe you actually fail, even if your art doesn’t get in. Even if you get rejected, or lose… I think you only fail if you give up… because that’s the one thing you have control over.
It’s sometimes easy to give up because things might seem hopeless or hard. I didn’t think I could possibly get the sculpture to the gallery on my own, but my belief in dumb luck took over, and I decided to try.
Yesterday morning, as I walked into the kitchen bleary eyed and searching frantically for my coffee cup, it dawned on me that someone would be pointing a camera at my face that day.
Klee was already up and getting ready, she kissed me good morning as she hurried by holding her hair up in a bun.
I pathetically waved back… yeah, I needed coffee.
It’s in those moments, before you are about to embark on something that you’ve never done before, that the little voice of doubt sets in.
We have been interviewed before, but never something like this. A mini documentary? About us?!
As I sat there drinking my coffee I wondered if I would be interesting enough, funny enough, photogenic enough, or even have the ability to string together a coherent sentence.
Klee on the other hand is brilliant at stringing together sentences and getting to the point, and let’s be honest, she is also much more photogenic.
My biggest fear is rambling on and forgetting what I was talking about in the first place. I tend to talk about a subject and go off on tangents, eventually circling around to what we were originally talking about… but sometimes, it’s like I’m standing in the kitchen with the refrigerator door open, wondering why I’m there.
As it turns out the experience was quite amazing, and all my fears melted away once we got started.
Jon Deckert from Vivid Bridge Studios came in with what seemed like an arsenal of compact, high tech, noninvasive equipment that fit our small space in the art studio quite well.
We had met with Jon Deckert and Doug Stanford a few weeks earlier for coffee and to discuss their idea of doing a mini-doc on us. So I had met him before, but only briefly.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but Jon was awesome. Not only did he know how to wield his equipment with artistic accuracy, but he was amiable and genuine. He made the experience fun and interactive. I mean, it felt like the camera evaporated and I was just sitting there having a pleasant conversation with someone who was interested in what I had to say.
I could clearly see that he had a creative vision of what he wanted to capture, but was also flexible and adaptable to the space and our ideas. His main goal seemed to be to capture the best possible moments he could without interrupting our flow.
I am really excited to see what they come up with at Vivid Bridge Studios, in my opinion their work is creative, beautiful, artistic, and some of the best I’ve seen.
That being said, I did go off on tangents a lot while being interviewed… So they have a lot of video to edit. Luckily, I did manage to string together coherent sentences, kinda.
The mini doc is currently in post production and I’ll let you guys know as soon as that is made available.
By the way, in the old days, I think I would’ve passed up this opportunity simply because once self doubt sets in, it’s easy to talk yourself out of doing something you think is scary. I can honestly say that more often than not the voices of self doubt are wrong, and even when they might be right, it is never as scary as you imagine. So nowadays, I just go for it… and it is ALWAYS worth it.
If you are interested in finding out more about Vivid Bridge Studios, they are Pensacola’s video production & photography studio. They empower businesses, organizations or brands to promote and market their stories through video and photography. Just a really fun and super creative bunch of folks.