I’m writing this because sometimes I don’t feel as creative as usual. There are days where I’m just staring at a blank canvas, or the cursor blinking on a blank screen as I attempt to write my book.
With my book in particular, I’ve been stuck. I’ve been in a middle-earth of wanting to write, but can’t.
I am writing this right now to Be Raw. To Be Real. To Be Honest.
To Be Present.
For me, inspiration starts the moment that I just focus on this moment right now. The joy of writing this line. The idea that one of you may read this. It’s inspiring. As long as I allow myself to go there.
Inspiration does not magically show up when I snap my fingers. Although, there are days that I wish it worked that way.
Inspiration for me is like a small buzzing of a bumble bee that is skipping from flower to flower. Fuzzy concepts and ideas that don’t have any solid foundation.
And then, just like that — Poof. It’s gone. The tiny bumble bee turns into a grouchy old man yelling words of self-doubt, self-apprehension, and indecision into my brain hole.
“Shit, I had it!”
The crumpled piece of paper.
Sometime I just have to be Patient, Open, and Honest.
Because, inspiration comes from inside of us. It comes when you least expect it, or when you most expect it. It is your best friend, or a bitter ex girlfriend. It could be an inspiring memory, or a new experience. It comes from moments of frustration, fire and passion. It comes usually when you are ready to give up.
Ultimately, your inspiration is you. It’s how you see the world. So no matter how stuck you may feel.
This month is always fun for me, because it marks the anniversary of Klee and I taking a chance on the unknown. It will be about 9 years since we jumped into the Explorer and decided to go on an adventure to push our limits beyond what we had experienced.
I’ll never forget the day that Klee looked at me seriously (it was a very dramatic tele-novella look) and said “I’m going with you”. See, I had decided that I was going to travel around the country and experience a new perspective on life. Despite the fact that my family kept saying I would probably die from eating poison berries, my mind was set.
In fact, even finally meeting the love of my life and developing a beautiful new relationship wasn’t going to deter me from taking this journey.
I had spent my life the same way that many people do, being someone who I wasn’t. I mean, I didn’t really know who I was. I knew I liked certain things, didn’t like other things, got mad about things, and laughed at others… but I wasn’t sure if it was just who I thought I should be, or who I really was.
I had never really taken a look at myself from the outside, or challenged my own thoughts. I just reacted to situations and circumstances in life, but never really asked the question “Why am I reacting this way?”. I think I was under the impression that I didn’t have a choice, that I was “just that way”.
As a result, my life sucked, or at least that’s how I felt. I think back then I was so far down the rabbit hole that no matter what the circumstances of my life could have been, I would have made it suck in my head.
Then I hit rock bottom… and it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
It was as if someone had reset the computer in my head, and for the first time in my life, I was questioning why I was settling for beliefs that worked against me, and actually caused me to hate myself.
Cut to 2 years of self examination and I was ready to challenge the world.
Yup, that’s who Klee decided to get in a car and travel around the country with. Some hairy bandanna wearing guy that freaked out her mother.
A guy that she would spend weeks in the middle of the everglades with.
A guy that she hiked shark valley with, even though we underestimated what 14 miles would take out of us.
A guy that she took turns with hugging a four and a half foot alligator named Leroy.
A guy she wrote music with and performed live while his knees gave out because he was so nervous.
A guy that she lived in Key West with for several months while they worked out some of their baggage.
A guy that she went kayaking with for their first time and got lost in the sun for six hours and still had a blast even though they were sunburned.
A guy that encouraged her to interview David Sheely who is the top investigator of the Florida Skunk Ape.
A guy she encouraged to show his art for the first time… and who is forever grateful.
A guy that loves her more and more every day and can’t possibly write down all the amazing things we have done so far.
I’m so happy she did.
So, here we are still on this adventure. We may not be driving around the country but we are most definitely staying true to who we are as best we can every day. What I didn’t know back then, when I planned this adventure was that I would be sharing it with Klee… And that I am ever changing, and so is she… So no matter what, every day is a new adventure.
I am very excited to announce that this year will be the second year of limited edition calendars to be released by me. There was such an amazing response last year that I am even more excited about this project!
Each series calendar has art that was carefully chosen by me in order to convey the message that I would like you to carry with you throughout the year.
This year, the first 50 orders will receive a free gift with their calendar!
Same as last year, I will be taking pre-orders online from November 4th – December 5th. Please make sure to order before the December 5th deadline, I had a few people that missed the deadline last year and couldn’t order a calendar. Also, these are pre-orders only, I will not have calendars with me at the market. Contact me if you want a calendar but are unable to prepay online.
You Can Pre- Order The Calendars On My Web Store.
All orders will ship by December 15th. Receive a 10% discount when you order 2 or more at a time. Use discount code at checkout: CALENDARS2019 and save!
Because I designed these calendars for myself and Klee, I also added a few non official holidays:
Along with all U.S. Holidays,
-January 13 – Make your dreams come true day
-February 16th – Do a grouch a favor day
-February 17th – Random act of kindness day
-February 22nd – Single tasking day
-February 24th – Tortilla chip day
-March 16th – Everything you do is right day
-March 19th – Let’s laugh day
-March 22nd – International goof off day
-March 26th – Make up your own holiday day
-April 14th – Look up at the sky day
-April 17th – Haiku Poetry Day
-April 23rd – Take a chance day
-April 30th – Honesty day
-May 4th – Starwars day
-May 5th – No pants day
-May 14th – Dance like a chicken day
-May 21st – Talk like Yoda day
-June 1st – Say something nice day
-June 8th – Best friends day
-July 3rd – Compliment your mirror day
-August 8th – Happiness happens day
-August 16th – Tell a joke day
-August 31st – Eat outside day
-September 4th – Eat an extra dessert day
-September 13th – Positive thinking day
-September 28th – Ask a stupid question day
-October 28th – International Observe the Moon Night
-November 24th – Celebrate your unique talent day
-December 19th – Ugly Sweater Day
-December 24th – Eggnog Day
I am excited to announce that I will be showing my art in the alcove at Artel Gallery in beautiful downtown Pensacola.
The show is called Sunflowers & The Nature Of Being. It is meant to ignite the spark within the imagination of the viewer as he or she explores the art, discovering a collection based on beauty, nature, and the human spirit.
I’m hoping it will be a window for self discovery, dialogue and inspiration. Show runs from Sept 4th – Oct 19th.
Join me for the reception on Sept 13th from 6 -8pm.
What: Sunflowers & The Nature Of Being Solo Show Reception
I wanted to let you guys in on a process that I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed or dark. I write a letter to myself and then respond from a different point of view. This isn’t something that someone typically shares with folks, but I know I’m not typical, so here it is.
Warning, you may read things that concern you, don’t worry, I’m fine, this is just a way to get the feelings out in their rawest form.
This week has been a tough week for me. I’ve been wading through an emotional cesspool of insecurities and old painful memories. As a result my environment has lost some of it’s vibrant color. I am walking around in a world that I recognize, yet haven’t visited in a long time. It is a dark grey world in which the sunlight is nonexistent. For a person such as myself, an artist who thrives on vibrant colors and light, this is what I imagine hell would feel like.
It’s interesting to me that when your mind takes you to a dark place, it seems like the entire world has conspired against you. It’s like you’re in a movie and the set design is based on the overall feeling of the main character. You watch yourself on the silver screen of life following an old dramatic script that you have rehearsed so many times that it seems like it all comes so naturally. You are the main character, yet no one else is experiencing what you are experiencing, feeling isolated and alone, surrounded by smiling faces, yet totally by yourself.
So, my question is this, what do I do now?”
After a short pause… I read the letter, take a deep breath and respond as best I can.
“Dear Dramatic Self,
Good question! Well, you get off your ass and out of your head. Listen, I understand that sometimes shit happens. You are going through a point in your life that might be transitional. Maybe you feel like you lost a sense of direction, maybe you are going through something emotionally taxing, maybe some button got pushed that hasn’t been pushed for a long time, maybe things just suck right now. No matter what it is, you have every excuse to feel the way you do, but that’s the thing, they’re just excuses.
In my opinion, things that people call emotionally chronic are simply practiced. You’ve spent years practicing how to be dramatic and respond to certain thoughts or situations in a certain way. That dramatic script you mentioned is a real thing, people can follow the same script over and over in their lives without even wondering if they can change it. They can feel like their thoughts are thinking them, instead of them thinking their thoughts.
You find yourself in a rut and what do you do? You sit, slump, cry, withdraw, and replay events over and over in your mind, and repeat. You find something or someone to blame for what you are feeling. Maybe you even pull yourself momentarily out of your funk by putting all your energy into being angry at this person or situation. Yet, nothing changes, this just keeps replaying over and over in your life. So much so, that you think this is just the way it is, “this is my life”.
You believe your story, you shape the world after your story, and discount anything that challenges that story. The story has to be true, if it wasn’t true, then it means you are torturing yourself for nothing.
Well, guess what? It is true. It’s true because you think it’s true, and your brilliant mind is going to do everything in it’s power to make it the truest thing you have ever experienced. Your doubt is going to punch you in the face, your insecurities about yourself are going to knock you down, your judgments and fear about people will come true, and everything you surround yourself with will be a constant reminder of your misery and fear.
Do you know what else is true? That your courage will destroy anything doubt can throw at you. Your determination will pick you up when you fall, stronger and better equipped than ever before. Your hope and unconditional love will present itself to you in overwhelming love and kindness, and everything around you will glow with vibrancy and light, this being a constant reminder of your sense of optimism and hope.
It’s ALL true… Every last bit. The question isn’t who is right or wrong, or what is true or untrue, or what you should or should not do… but simply, what would you rather do? How would you rather feel? What would you rather think? What do you want to focus on? Who do you want to be? And what do you want to believe, right now… in this moment?
We don’t carry feelings in our pocket, or find them in a box buried somewhere. We produce those feelings based on our perspectives and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. You can believe what ever it is you want to believe about yourself and what is possible for you, and you can do that right now.
Honestly, this moment is all we really ever have, this moment, right now. So make a choice, despite the script you have been rehearsing all your life. Just make a choice.
Now quit whining and pick yourself up like the awesome person I know you to be.
So every year we try to do this little art hunt thing where we give away a lot of art with the intent to bring a smile to someone’s face. That someone is a beautiful little town named Pensacola. This year I created a bunch of art, about 80 pieces, and I created small inspirational hand painted magnets, about 100 of those… Phew.
As some of you know we had a YouTube contest to find the perfect name for this art giveaway thing we’ve been doing for several years, with awesome results.
Hashtag Inspire A Smile (#INSPIREASMILE) is what it’s called now, and that my friends is awesome!
So the date was set (March 12th, 2018) and the weather was like “hey wait a minute… I think you’ll enjoy doing this a lot more if it was dreary, cold, and windy, because that’s what all the cool kids want.”
And I was like “shit.”
But Klee and I bundled up and like the old explorers of Antarctica we braved the elements to spread our message of cheer.
(Listen, I know it wasn’t that cold, but I live in Florida the sunshine state, anything other than sunshine and warmth is unbearable.)
I put an entertaining video of our adventure together that morning for your amusement Below. Enjoy!
Within minutes of being done with the art hunt, inspiring happy messages started flooding in which makes freezing our buts off so worth it.
I think it is so important to smile. Each time you smile, you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness. So smile you beautiful human you!
I know that a lot of people out there assume that I spend my days blissfully ignorant to the real world, carefree as I float on my cloud across my studio painting feverishly. I assume that when they think this, they are either hopeful that one may chose to live that way, or spiteful that I don’t take life seriously enough to grow up.
Yet, as much as I would love to live that way, I don’t have a cloud that can support my weight.
Here’s the thing, us human beings doing what ever it is that we are doing in our short yet miraculous lives, tend to take ourselves seriously.
Even as a guy who spends his days mixing paint and finger painting, I can easily play the adult.
Have you ever watched kids when they play a grown up? They get all stern and furrow brow as they shake their pointed finger angrily… and guess what, we never stop pretending, we just actually believe it’s true.
I think that growing up and watching the adults around us stress out over the things in their lives, causes us to believe that is the way you act when you are an adult. Responsibility equals stress, or at least that’s what we think it’s supposed to mean.
I’ve found myself stressing out every once in a while when I have commissions and deadlines, which then causes me to become devoid of creativity, which then causes more stress.
I’ve found that in an attempt to have ourselves taken seriously we tend to complicate our lives by pretending to be serious adults. We stress out over things and try to figure out the solutions while focused on the problem.
I could tell you two things from experience, it doesn’t work, and it’s killing your body.
My solution, or at least what I attempt to do every day (which I can easily fail miserably at) is to simply have fun and not give a rip whether ANYONE takes you seriously or not.
Just do you, your way, the way that you want to, in the most funnest way…
Life is going to happen anyway, you are going to solve your problems, or not. Either way, stressing out about it isn’t doing you or anyone else, any good.
You might as well remember and practice how to have fun.
Recently, I was given the honor of creating a piece of art for a great local company, something large that would hang by the meeting room and lobby. They wanted something that would tell a story about their passion for paper, and add a little color to their offices.
You guys know that I don’t take on commissions unless it fascinates me, for every 10 people who ask me to do something, I may do one. Commissioned paintings aren’t shown in galleries, or in public most of the time, and generally take a lot longer to create. So when I do take on a commission, it’s because I am excited about the concept, or I really connect with the person who is trying to commission me.
This being a corporate commission, I was surprised to find that I was excited about the concept and I absolutely adore the people who commissioned me.
The piece tells their story, and is constructed of materials that they produce. They ship different paper products all over the world.
The piece tells the story of their global reach, production, transportation, uses, and overall importance of what they create. So much comes together in order to make a perfect picture, adding a little color to the world in the process.
That was the overall story I wanted to tell.
I am so proud of this piece, it pushed me beyond some of my own personal limits, and it definitely pushed my studio to it’s size limit, which was fun.
Watch this video for the why and how of the Oren International Commission:
Yesterday Klee and I attended the Day Of The Dead Celebration at first city arts center. I had submitted a work of art for the celebration and was looking forward to donning my best “dead” attire.
Art Beyond Walls and First City Art Center hosted the first ever Day of the Dead festival on opening day of Pensacola’s Foo Foo Fest.
Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the dead) is a traditional Mexican holiday, that honors family members who have passed away. Basically, celebrating those who may have passed physically, but are still here spiritually. A day where the veil between both worlds is blurred.
Live music, art, altars, face painting, a second-line processional, food trucks with authentic Mexican food (yum), hot glass demos, live story recordings, children’s activities and a Day of the Dead art market were part of the festivities.
This was a blast, the murals, the fire dancing, the art, the vibe, the whole thing was pretty awesome. I was honored to have my art displayed in the way that it was.
This was the first day of Foo Foo Fest, and a fantastic start to the festival. Take a look at all the awesome stuff they have in store for Pensacola at http://www.foofoofest.com/events/