Multitasking Mayhem

Somewhere around 3pm this afternoon, after too many (or not enough) cups of coffee, I realized i was multitasking like a mad woman. Cleaning up my iPad:synching, deleting, installing (and learning) new post-processing photo software in preparation for using the iPad for travel photography. Experimenting with a new camera. Making food (from scratch) for the dogs. Keeping an eye on email and Facebook. Taking the dogs outside. Or cleaning up after the elderly dog who no longer seems to have much discernment around outside vs. inside. I mean, I know its Arizona, and its hard to tell the difference sometimes, but still. Paying bills. And somewhere in there, making more coffee and something that looks like lunch.


Multitasking. And after a few moments of multitasking more by thinking about multitasking, I found myself wondering if we are really any where near as effective as we think we are when we are doing a gazillion things at once. The term originated, I believe, in computing as a term that meant a singe CPU could perform two (or more) tasks simultaneously. Humans don't task simultaneously. We switch our attention - however quickly - from one thing to the next, meaning nothing really gets our full attention. No wonder its so exhausting. 

I've always prided myself on being fairly organized and capable of accomplishing many things "at once." But today I started wondering when that computer term became so routinely applied to humans.  

When i was in school - eons ago - we were "trained" to pay attention and focus. We were expected to do that, not to flit from one task to the next and back again in some dizzying roulette of "did i actually get anything done?!" It makes me wonder if there's a connection between the rise in ADHD and the push to multitask along with the vast over-stimulation of computers and television and electronics. No wonder our brains are never quiet anymore, we no longer teach our children that its ok to seek quiet, that its ok to do just one task at a time, that its ok to focus. 

I suppose the large doses of Cafe du Monde coffee i poured into my system today didn't help.  

Laying it Bare

When someone lays their soul bare in front of you, without conceit or pretension, just lays it there for the taking, they demand your attention, in their raw bravery, they somehow speak for - and to - us all. 

Last week, I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation from a new friend to go hear John Gorka play. You’ve probably never heard of him, since he’s a folk singer, and folk singers rarely have hit songs. Gorka is an awkward and shy fellow, but that’s part of his charm. He’s found a way to sprinkle that with a healthy dose of humor, and it works for him. He took a potential weakness and made it a strength. 

We were lucky enough to get front row seats, and it was like having a private concert in my living room. Sitting and listening to his songs, the very personal lyrics, and the banter in between, I was struck by one thing. Many of us, as artists, are highly personal in our art - in hopes that the personal finds its way to striking universal chords. We put down in words, or music, or paint, those things which sit at our core. And, we share them. With complete strangers. Who does that? If someone at the bus stop did that you’d most likely move as far away as you could get, while watching closely for overt signs of crazy in their eyes. Normal people don’t do this. Where would we be without the pioneers of the abnormal? They connect us and open our hearts and eyes. They, quite simply, make magic.

Artists tell stories. Our stories. Even when they are other people’s stories, they are ours, because they are told through the lens of our perceptions and frame of reference. Its personal. The audience now feels like they know these stories, and thus, know the artist. Whether this is true or not, is nearly immaterial, because the bond that happens - even if its just for a couple hours while a troubadour sings - is real. Humans crave connection. Artists facilitate a safe place for that to happen.

When you lay it all bare, that’s when things become interesting.

My own work continues to evolve and grow. I’m currently hard at work on a secret series, which I am not yet ready to unveil. I’ve also been creating some lovely abstracts which are blurring the lines between internal and external landscapes.  More to come soon. Much, much more. 


I wish you bravery and beautiful colors,



Walden Revisited 12x24 Oil on Panel

Walden Revisited
12x24 Oil on Panel

So You Want To Be An Artist

So you want to be an artist. Cool. Someone gave you a mighty fine new digital camera for Christmas, or that beginner set of oil paints you’ve been coveting. Exceptional. Go take photos. Paint. Play the hell out of the new guitar you got. I’m all in favor of creative expression. As Gaiman said, “Go make better art.”

What’s that? You want to be a professional artist? Oh, well that’s a different kettle of fish altogether.

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Re:Patterning Day 1


Every so often we all get stuck in patterns - which may, or may not work for us in the long run. Lately, I have realized I have been stuck in a less-than-ideal pattern which is colluding with my lackadaisical streak. Well, perhaps that isn't completely fair. Its not laziness. Its grief. But that is another matter, and the end result is the same. The matter at hand, is "changing patterns." Shift. Growth. Consistency. 

For the last 5 months or so, I have been out of synch with my previous work pattern, and instead, have been allowing myself to get sucked into the great, dark time-sink that can be "life online." Facebook, email. Sure, those. But they are just the gateway drug to a magpie like me who will pick up and fondle every shiny bit of information; every "must see sale" and every damn new online game. 

Its almost like I have, in some ways, been in a fugue-state while sorting through grief. Here, but not here. 


I have been working with a wonderful mentor lately. Yesterday's weekly phone call was all about switching things up so that work can actually happen. So here's the plan. No more immediately checking Facebook and email when I wake up. Instead, grab coffee, go to work. I've been wanting to do a plein air series and this seemed like a good time to have my feet held to the fire. So that was the plan. GO OUTSIDE and PAINT. Until 1pm. Then break for lunch and check the social media. Sounds good, yeah? In theory. Let's see how it goes in practice.



Dogs woke me at 4:30am and I learned that my neighbors are actually awake at that time. Crazy morning people. I, however, went back to bed after letting the pups outside and proceeded to let my unconcious do its thing until nearly noon. I guess I needed the sleep/dream time. 

Got up, got cold-brew coffee, fed dogs. Glanced longingly at closed computer, but forced self to resist temptation, realizing it feels a lot like breaking the nail biting habit. Gather panels, paints, and step outside and realize it just too damn hot. What was i thinking?! Its summer monsoon in the Sonoran Desert! Fine. Back inside. But I will be damned if I will let the computer win. Nope. Sketch book out. Play with geometry while considering patterns and letting mind wander. 


I made a conscious decision to allow today to be a sort of warm-up day. To let today not be about the work itself, but about the shift in habits. In that way, I think it has been successful, but gods, I do hope this gets easier as the days go by because right now, like any addict, my mind kept wandering back to the shiny closed computer with all its distractions and immediate gratification. 

Evolution of a Painting - Barrio Viejo, Tucson Arizona

This painting is of a converted church in Barrio Viejo, Tucson Arizona. Here, there is a strong sense of the Old-World. Among the houses built flush with the sidewalks with their pink, blue, green and yellow walls, flowers climbing out of hidden patios and overall, an unbelievable blue sky, once can catch a vague scent of burning mesquite sneaking out from behind the adobe walls, and belying the hidden courtyards where the women used to work, protected from the world at large.

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Experimenting with skin tones, and new Rublev paints


"Held" Work in progress, 16x20 oil on masonite

"Held" Work in progress, 16x20 oil on masonite

Since I was never quite happy with the skin tones on this painting, I'd put it aside for a while. Now I have new paint to try, so back on the easel it goes! I have concepts in mind for a new series...we'll see where it goes. In the meantime, I'm thoroughly enjoying the quality and consistency of the Rublev paints. They have yet to disappoint!

There's something to be said, I think, for not skimping on the tools of the trade - for valuing one's own work enough to invest in it, in the same way we, as artists, expect our collectors to invest. Its a symbiotic relationship of the best sort.

Rublev skin tone paints all spanky-new and ready to be squeezed from their tubes.

Rublev skin tone paints all spanky-new and ready to be squeezed from their tubes.

On the Easel: The Golden Mean - in Progress

More often than not, I struggle a bit with titling pieces. But every so often, the title comes, in a flash, early on in the process. The painting says, "this is what I am." The Golden Mean was the perfect companion title. Infinite Jack and the Golden Mean just has a certain flow to it, don't you think? A jumping off point for stories to form in the viewers mind about the relationship that plays out between the two. The beginnings of a fable or folk tale, perhaps - filled with potential for unexpected facets to the relationship between prey and predator.

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