Beware the Serpent

I don't know how to start exactly. I've been gone a long time. When I left my desk job the time I had to sit and write long posts with links and research was gone, I focused on my art, switched to the format of instagram and minimal chatter from me. In a way I was tired of talking anyway, turned inwards, kept my thoughts and motivations to myself and let my output be a little more mysterious. I feel that generally there are more important, informed and interesting voices than mine out there, and got tired of this push to join the din of constant posting, hot takes and "content".  Lately though I've reconsidered and I want to go back to making people aware of the context behind what I'm doing or making at any given time. You can do what you wish with the information, the art is still yours to find whatever you want in it.

Recently Tamara SantibaƱez, an artist and person I admire, asked me to create artwork for a prayer candle available through Discipline Press (please read their interviews and articles and really look at the work they're doing!) the proceeds of which would be donated to a organization of my choosing.  The proceeds from my candle go to United We Dream and the proceeds from the other candle, made by Marilyn Rondon go to the Standing Rock Legal Defense Fund

Here's my original artwork for my candle:

As usual, I thought long and hard about what I was making to the point of driving myself insane, because I see prayer candles as being a hopeful wish for the future and all I could think of was a warning. But warnings give strength same as hope.  The quote is a paraphrasing (for the sake of space) of a warning by the Pythia at Delphi (which I previously hid in encrypted form in another painting).  The full quote is "Beware the serpent, earthborn in craftiness, coming behind thee" and it was a warning given to Lysander who was supposedly killed from behind by a warrior with a serpent painted on his shield. It's a typical twist of fate that shows the danger in misinterpreting a warning, or not seeing it in it's complexity, of not being able to see all the forms your destruction might take.

I started thinking about oracles and warnings post election when my friend Katie made that connection and posted this quote from Aeschylus' Agamemnon which is also used in the opening of Watership Down:

CHORUS: Why do you cry out thus, unless at some vision of horror?
CASSANDRA: The house reeks of death and dripping blood.
CHORUS: How so? ‘Tis but the odor of the altar sacrifice.
CASSANDRA: The stench is like a breath from the tomb.
Cassandra was a woman cursed with the ability to know the future but never be believed, to see doom ahead and all around her but be powerless to stop it, to be cast as insane when she was the only one who knew the truth.  I think of all the signs we have ignored throughout history, all the people who screamed and begged for someone to see that they were suffering, that our society was sick, that the earth was being destroyed without being believed.  People who articulated in every way possible what we really were and also what we could be instead, who showed us new ways to think about labor, community, gender, race, sexuality, bodies, art, religion, justice, history and culture.  I thought about the importance of listening for warnings and truths even when our privilege insulates us from having to. I think about how where we are now is fully the end result of ignoring the warnings of poc, lgbtqi people, indigenous people, women, the poor, people with disabilities, people who do all the hard work and heavy lifting, who see our society for what it really is and know the full extent of the harm it can do, who were able to look backwards and forwards, see who we really are and not only warn us but show us a better way to live which we have rejected in favor of even the mildest of comforts and soothing falsehoods.  
A couple years ago I read "The Ancient Oracles: Making the Gods Speak" and it set off a chain of thought I can't quite connect fully but it's been simmering in my head for a while. Thinking about what it's like to live in a world where you believe your fate is predetermined but to go on anyway, to fight against it or be lulled into a false sense of security because you're not able to interpret it. Or of getting caught up in the cycle that plays out in tragedies like MacBeth or Oedopus, where being told that your fate is determined sets you on a path that can only result in it coming to pass. How limited has our imagination become because of some belief that this world that has been shaped by the worst and least kind motivations is "natural" and inevitable?
Beware and fight back. Support everyone who has been doing the hard work and speaking the truth for so long who you haven't heard.  Support movements led by marginalized people who know the way forward and know a better world is possible. Follow their lead, divest from your own future and invest in theirs.  Look around you where you live and offer your support and resources without being motivated by praise or status. Learn not to be sensitive in places where you have privilege and step to the back, you don't deserve the trust of anyone who feels let down. It's not enough to not actively hate someone, you have to really care about them. You have to see that their survival is as important as your own if we want to turn away from a doomed fate.  

This is the "contact" section of my website. I realize a lot of people have never/will never stumble across it so I thought I'd post it here. If you are raising funds to help your struggling community survive please know my art is yours, my time is yours, whether you need something for a project or fundraiser or money I can provide just by selling my art and sending it your way let me know. I have a day job so sometimes it might take a while but I'll always try my hardest. This is what money I make from my art has primarily gone to for years and it's what I hope to always be able to use my art for. I know not everyone is in a position to do this. Making art is labor and creators deserve compensation and credit and I will always be vocal about that as well. 


Certain Doom

It's finally happening! In a little under a month Alan and I will have our show up.  I have a lot of new work I could show sneak peeks of but since I'm in a rush here's the flyer for now. Left image his, right image mine.  And there's a facebook event now! The show will be up for two months so if you can't make the reception or you don't live in Philly but might be passing through this summer you could still catch the show!


Stare Into These Eyes.. Discover Deep Within Them The Unspeakable Terrifying Secret

While I have tons of new work to post, I'm trying to hold off on posting full images of anything until after the show opens.  It's really hard for me to exhibit any kind of restraint like this, especially living in a period in time where you have so many platforms to brag on.  That gorgon painting was the biggest, most time consuming painting I've ever done, and it took a full month to finish (bearing in mind I also work at a job full time but still).  Not posting it in full and bragging like an idiot is sort of killing me, but here's a few cell phone pictures:

I'm probably not going to sell the original of this one at the show, because it was so huge and time consuming and would have to be pretty expensive, and that's just inappropriate for a coffee shop show.  But I AM going to have super nice high quality prints available of it, and I'm going to experiment with leafing the prints as well.  As usual, the best place to see images like this as I work on things is my instagram account, username everlastingfaint.  I have a lot to say regarding the meaning and personal relevance of the gorgon image (specifically in the case of this painting the gorgoneion) but that's going to have to wait until a later time, probably when I post the full image.

Something I CAN and should post in full is this flyer I finished in record time a few weeks ago:
This was just a little idea I had floating around in my head for the past couple months.  I originally wanted to design a skate deck with this image on it, and may still use it for that since it lends itself well to the shape.  It's just roughly based around all of those horror movies where the premise is that a witch or innocent woman accused of witchcraft was killed but then resurrected a hundred years later (usually in the 60's or 70's) ready for revenge.  I'm learning to plan paintings I can pull off in shorter amounts of time with a lot of solid black areas, which I actually think reads better for flyers anyway, and sort of sets off the more detailed stuff.  Anyway, this show will be fun, Golden Tea House is one of my favorite places to go to shows in this city and I'm looking forward to another summer of shows and riding bikes and swimming in lakes.

Aside from all this I'm about one night's work away from finishing what will be my 5th piece so far for the show.  Here's a little bit of it:

I have to say I'm really excited about this show.  It's been a while since I had a show, solo or two person and Alan is seriously an incredible artist I'm so happy to be planning stuff with.  Everything he's shown me that he's done so far as been amazing and we've spent a lot of time bouncing ideas off each other that we inevitably need to scale way back (left to our own devices with all the time in the world we would probably make hundreds of things in like 20 different mediums).  If you want to see what Alans working on you can follow him on instagram under the username "possumfingers" or look here if you don't have that kinda phone. 

Last little bit of whatever, I finally made a facebook page for my art. Over the years every so often someone will try to add my personal page on facebook and I feel bad ignoring those requests but if I can't identify the person as at least someone I've commented back and forth with or who has emailed me or something I usually wont add them back.  It's not that I'm crazy secretive, just that my  facebook page is full of stupid personal gibberish and pictures of me looking like a goof.  However, I did realize that the place where you could most easily view lots of my paintings in a nice easy to look at format was my facebook account.  So anyway, here's the art page, feel free to "like" or pass it along,  it's a great way to look at everything I've done in one place, and it'll probably be yet another way to see what I'm up to.  Important stuff like this:



There isn't much to report right now since I'm working as much as possible on that Medusa but I'm still probably just about a 6th of the way through it.  As I predicted I did end up redrawing her face:
I usually don't fidget with the drawing at the inked stage since it can get messy and I am basically a super impatient person  but I knew this would be the sort of thing where I would look at it when it was done and cringe because the face bothered me.  [edit: I realized reading this later that it's absurd to say I'm impatient and follow it by saying I'm going to spend a month painting like thousands of tiny scales so I should clarify that I'm really impatient when it comes to planning a piece.  I like to just get started. After that it's all blissful minutiae which I love.] Sometimes it pays to slow down and consider some reference, but going into it I was more excited about the snakes than her face.

And so far, a week into painting (evenings and weekends) I'm not even halfway up the snakes working from bottom to top.  My goal is to finish this by the end of the month but who knows if that's possible. Here's a crappy camera phone photo of a few snakes:
That's all for a bit, hopefully I'll have a better photo and some more progress soon.


Haunted By An En-ti-ty

So, as expected, last week I finished up that cassette cover in record speed, and I'm pretty happy with how it came out:

This is for Assembly at Dusk's demo which you can listen to here.  They were pretty easy going about the artwork and I mostly focused on making something that was simple that would be readable and have impact at such a small size.  The name "Assembly at Dusk" immediately makes me think of bats congregating and they had sent me some lyrics involving a specter so I went from there.  I'm especially happy with the sky.  It seems like I'll never tire of painting clouds.  I still have to design a logo for them and lay this out but that should be done soon enough.

I tried to jump right back into my personal work for the show but because what I'm working on now is so big, I don't have a lot to show for it.  I finally got this big medusa painting inked and to the painting stage but looking at it this morning I'm not happy with the static face and might need to spend another day fussing over it before I can start the endless task of painting scales:
On a side note, this weekend I found out about and began obsessing over Hexenkopf rock, a supposedly haunted hill in Easton PA with a ton of local legend associated with it.  The name translates to "Witch's  Head" and it is supposedly the sight of all kinds of ghostly apparitions, has links to Braucherei practice, a strange glowing quality at night, and is responsible for all kinds of suicides, house fires and strange events.  At any rate after I read about it I rounded up my friends to go there the next day.

 Like most of rural PA it's beautiful, and surrounded by old barns and PA dutch cemeteries which I did quite a bit of creeping in. 

When you're up on the rock itself the acoustics are really strange.  When I climbed up I suddenly heard clear as a bell hundreds of chirping frogs that I couldn't hear as I approached.  The area is really pretty and the rocks are covered in moss and lichen. I also found a headless squirrel hanging from a branch.  It was probably a hawk but it COULD have been a witch.  Pretty sure that's how these things get started. 

I was also delighted to see this protective Sator Square hex sign on the adjacent barn.

Anyway, this has sent me on a spree of book hunting and I think a theme for some new stuff (after this show) will be Pennsylvania magic and folklore.  Top of my list is this book, which possibly can only be bought (for a reasonable price) from the Sigal museum in Easton.  Sometimes I really love Pennsylvania.


I Have Always Been Here Before

Oh hello there! As is always the case recently it's been WAY too long, probably the longest break I've ever taken from this blog.  As always no longer having a job where I sit in front of the computer has made my online presence pretty shaky.  I've also always felt that reporting about what I'm making should never take time away from actually making things, and lately I've been really busy.  In addition to starting new paintings for my upcoming show, I started dabbling in wood carving in order to make some amulets both for the show and to eventually restock my etsy store.  Money from the store should hopefully filter back into my art to help finance getting limited print editions made to sell at the show. Here are some of the little amulets I've made so far.  Some are just sort of prototypes:
The theme of my half of the show (this is a two person show with one of my favorite people/artists Alan Medusawolf) is loosely the evil eye and protection so I've been doing lots of reading about both so you can expect one of my long rambling entries about that soon.  Both Alan and I will include carved and painted 3 dimensional pieces that tie into our 2D work as a somewhat unifying theme so some of these amulets will be in the show.  I'm also working on carving wooden silver leaf tipped weapons for the show. Here's the only finished one:
And here's an arrow head for a full arrow. It's not painted yet and I haven't carved the quill:
I'm also hoping to do a sword and an axe, but carving these things takes a ton of time so I don't know how feasible that is.  I also have a lot of trouble multitasking and I'm starting to worry these little experimental projects will distract from making actual paintings.  So far I've done two small pieces as a warm up:

and I've got another piece underway which will end up being the largest most elaborate painting I've ever done.  I'm slightly worried about what I've gotten myself into here but I think when it's finished it'll be really visually impressive:
It's about a foot and a half around.  I'm going to try to keep a lid on what I'm doing so that everything from the show isn't on the internet before the show opens but I have to admit, it'll be really hard with this one.  I have a lot of ideas I'm really excited about and I'd like to finish as many of these pieces as possible before the show in July which means waking up extra early to draw in the morning before work and coming right home and getting back to it. Woof.

I'm also taking a short break from personal work to do a pretty simple commission.  Here's the sketch, hopefully it'll be started and finished soon and I'll be able to share it:

I hate to say this since my intention is never to abandon the blog or stop talking about books and ideas I'm excited about but while I'm really busy I'll probably post the most work in progress and updates in my instagram account, feel free to follow me at everlastingfaint or to look at it online if you don't have a dumb phone.  It's a semi personal account meaning there are occasionally pictures of my cats (sorry, can't be helped) or weird junk in my house but never so personal that it's terribly revealing.

Back to work!


Year's End

I have to do this really quickly since I have to go to work soon and leave for a trip straight from there.  I'll be traveling through the winter holidays while my work is closed down and I'm in a bit of a rush to get things in order as always.  While I wanted to write some sort of reflection about what I worked on this year I guess the blog archive serves that function so here's the last piece I finished in 2012 and a little peek at the next two things I have lined up to work on in 2013.

First off here's a commissioned present on of my best buds had me make for her partner.  She gave me some really loose guidelines of things I could include and I ended up doing two foxes chasing each other around the middle and the cluster of clouds and mountains. 

I heard he liked it so mission accomplished.  I also did this in trade for her old iphone so I can join the rest of the world doing art stuff on instagram. I just can't keep up!

Here's two little looks at what I'll be working on when I get back from my trip. One's a line drawing ready to be painted and one's a sketch I got approval on:
I also have a tentative show date for this summer and a ton of ideas for new work. I'm really excited to get started on new things.

And finally, here's a mix I uploaded to my friends blog project.  The idea is that we all include a mix of songs that are new or new to us in the past year and write a little bit about why we like the song/band. Mine is a little skewed towards shows I went to this year and I had to put it together hastily while I should have been packing but check it out if you're so inclined!


Sweet Creatures

Hey hey.

So, it's been the case for the past few months that finding time to write on my blog (and post work on tumblr, flickr and facebook and all the other social networking sites I should be all up on) is next to impossible.  While I used to wallow at my desk job with plenty of time to work on this stuff my new job is hands on hard work and I get right to work on personal projects when I get home.  As a result now I make things and they sit for weeks without being posted and occasionally even escape documentation.  Before that happens yet again, I want to post a couple things I made in November.

First off is this luck amulet I made for my friend Carol.  She recently lost her store in Ocean City as a result of the hurricane and then immediately after lost her pet cat.  Too too much to deal with.  I thought it might be a good time to make a little prototype luck amulet to give her as a gift.  I've been doing a lot of reading around talismans, the evil eye and amulets lately as some loose preparation for a new series of work.  I hope to one day make these with wood instead of paper, but I thought this gift needed to be really timely so I'll figure out how to do this sort of thing in wood later.  This is tin foil, paper, paint, wooden beads and braided embroidery floss.

If you want to offer some less supernatural support Carol's online store is now being stocked with everything they managed to salvage for 40% off when you use the code 40 at checkout.  The webstore is clothes and accessories.  They'll also be selling the records they managed to salvage at the Punk Rock Flea Market this Sunday so if you see someone selling records under the store name Toilet Water give them an extra look.

On a related note, Carol helped organize this charity raffle to benefit the Atlantic County Humane Society.  They've been working hard in the aftermath of the hurricane, dealing with damage to their own facilities while housing homeless pets, taking in newly homeless pets from families so affected they can no longer afford them, distributing pet food to affected families and even offering temporary housing for pets of families still struggling to make their homes habitable or find new ones.  It's a given that animal shelters are always at maximum capacity and low on resources so an event like this really puts them in a tight spot. So if you're in Philadelphia and you have pets or just want the chance to get some raffle tickets and win some of these cool prizes check it out! I made this flyer featuring a couple of my favorite animal friends for the event and the original will be one of the raffle items.

Also worth noting, if you're close enough to do so and you've been considering getting a pet adopt from the Atlantic County Humane Society. Carol got this amazing kitten with a burglar mask there!
Anyway, I'm really excited to do some new, more ambitious work in the coming year.  Doing lots of creep reading in preparation and hoping to be better at the internet and better at selling stuff.


Wandering Genie Etsy Store

SO, after years of procrastination I finally took the time to list items in my vacant etsy store.  I'm looking to make a little extra money to help pay for hostels and cans of Tartex on my upcoming trip with Mike to the Czech Republic so I listed a handful of original pieces and some affordable prints of my work along with leftover painted heart pins and some new painted wooden pendants.  There's also a beautiful batch of prints from Mike Bukowski in there.  Please check out the store and tell your friends! Depending on how this goes I might start keeping a regularly stocked store.

Here's a few photos of the new "crystal" pendants!

They're all hand shaped and painted on both sides and each one is one of a kind.

I have some new pieces to post later this week so stay tuned...


For You

Just a couple small items to post today.  In the past year a lot of my output has been donations for charity shows and gifts for friends.  I love doing this stuff and I love that I've been able to find time for projects like this.  I took a little over a year off from doing solo shows because it's so hard to make that much work in a short time span with a full time job (especially since I like for the shows to be all new work and have a unified theme) and that's opened up my time for projects like this.  I have a few more donations and presents to work on but there are two two-person shows in the works for me in the coming year so pretty soon I'll be buckling down and working on some larger scale more intense paintings again.

This first thing is another painted wooden egg for my friend Diana.  For the past probably 7 or 8 years she's been the only person to cut the tangled witch wig I call hair and I'm always grateful for her talent with scissors and her ability to work within the beauty industry while challenging beauty standards and cutting hair without any judgement or talk of what's "flattering" and with a real understanding of what it means to be a low-maintenance client who basically does nothing beyond washing their hair (like me).  She's also one of the funniest coolest ladies I know (and I know a ton of funny cool ladies).  If you live in or near Bethlehem, PA and you want to give her some business here's the organic cruelty-free salon she works at. 

Anyway, Diana saw the other painted eggs I did and asked if I could make her one.  Knowing she's got some intense PA pride and likes PA Dutch art and Hex signs I decided to use that as the theme and did a take on a distelfink design with some other symbols from fraktur art thrown in.
Since they're supposedly based on the European goldfinch I did a more realistic take on the bird but they were too tiny to get a ton of detail into.

I really like the fact that the raindrop design has a positive connotation because it comes from an agrarian culture and is linked to bounty rather than being the melancholy symbol you often see.

If you're interested in PA Dutch folk art and Hex Signs check out Jacob Zook's webstore.  Zook's is a family business that's been around for about 50 years. I have a few of these in my house myself!
The second present I made this month was for my partner Mike's birthday.  As you may or may not know he's an avid Madball collector and fanatic.  Beyond the actual trademark Madballs there are hundreds of cheap ripoffs floating around in the world and mike has rounded up close to all of them and put them on shelves in our bedroom.  I sleep every night under the watchful gaze of hundreds of bulging pus filled eyes. 

It's really hard at this point to find one he doesn't have and we've always talked about the possibility of making some ourselves so I took this opportunity to make my first attempt at sculpting since probably highschool.

I made this little guy with Das airdrying clay.  It wasn't too hard to work with and could easily be smoothed and added to with a wet paintbrush. 

Sculpting is weird after working in a super flat 2D style for so long, and painting something 3D is interesting because it has more to do with emphasizing the dimension that's already there than creating the illusion of dimension and you have to keep the paint soft without any harsh clean lines. The boogers were made by adding green paint to clear glue and then doing a clear coat overtop to keep it shiny!
Anyway, it was fun to make and I'll probably make more in the future and I recommend this clay because a good air dry clay takes all the stress out of a baking clay that could potentially crack and ruin all of your hard work.  Just be patient letting it dry when you do something dense like this. It took a few days.