Commentary

Things have changed

We are living in crazy times. New times. Things have changed and we are all going to be doing things differently from now on.

Artists too.

Most of us are finding ourselves spending more time at home than ever before. Working from the dining table, full-time parenting, or just staying in instead of going out..

All that time inside and you start to notice your walls more and how your moods and outlook are affected. Maybe you suddenly see how old and tired your walls really are. Or how much more inspiring your new home office needs to be.

I have partnered with a print on demand company that will be able to offer high quality reproductions of my paintings in a variety of formats. People have been asking for those for a long time. This is a new venture for me and the way forward in the new economy that gives you the opportunity to spruce up your space at an affordable price. And help enliven your mood and even your productivity.

I don’t feel quite ready for prime time,  and would love to get your feedback and suggestions on my new website features and how I can best serve your needs.  Plus there will be a surprise special offer waiting for you there. And if you fall in love with some art on the website – you could even make a purchase.

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Etic perceptions of other realities – Real or Imagined?

The impressions that I have of an etic reality go through my own filters. 

Getting back to the anthropological roots of etic and emic: those who study indigenous culture can’t ever be in that culture to experience it. They can try to imagine what it would be like and they may even get the opportunity to talk with someone in that culture to better understand it. They may have confidence that their information about that culture is objectively accurate. Maybe. Whatever they come up with is still subject to the world view that they already have.

Last time I wrote about etic visions of other realities that I bring forth and manifest in this world as my paintings.

Etic realities – are they real or wholly imagined? That depends on the definition of reality – or where the origin of reality is. 

It is obvious and also profound that if I can imagine it, it therefore exists.

But if it exists, where does it exist?

As I make a painting, I cross and recross the threshold from the unmanifested – the etic – to what I am manifesting on the canvas – the emic. 

So there is a back and forth synergy between the etic and the emic as the painting is produced.

I am unfolding an etic impression (You could just call it my imagination – I’m fine with that.) into my current reality. Taking unmanifested perceptions into a visual manifestation. 

Any creative person will tell you every work of art or invention first has to exist in their imagination before they can bring it forth into physical reality. And the final product may not match the original vision or intent. That’s the process of crossing back and forth in action. I’ll notice an invitation, communicate with it, and have a breakthrough expression. 

I will profess that the initial etic impression and subsequent conversation exists within me. But that reflects an issue that I have with people who see angels or hear the word of God or have fanciful near-death experiences. It would be easy to identify those as external to oneself. I have had enough of that sort of vision to know how powerful they can be. Whether your experience exists within or without is one of those sacred mysteries and your answer depends on how you structure your world view.

One paradigm would suggest that if I perceive it how can it be outside of me? The other paradigm would find it easier to go with the standard duality of our everyday experience.I find that I can easily shift my viewpoint between those two paradigms. The perception of the other world exists within my imagination. It may well be that there is no true inside or outside, only a continuum of experiential realities.

Etic Landscape #2, 24

Etic Landscape #2

Mixed Media on Canvas, 24″x36″

Purchase information for this painting.

Etic Realities are brought forth in my paintings

In the process of developing my art, I first get a vision of an energy dynamic or physical presence that is from an etic perspective. This information is not necessarily understandable – because I am outside its defining parameters – but it does make an impression that I feel necessary to bring forth into this physical reality.

I then use familiar materials at hand – i.e. canvas and  paint – to make a visual representation of my perception of that etic reality. This part of my artistic process is emic. I use my native sensory vocabulary as a human being and skills as an artist to make the transition from etic through to the visual representation in the painting.

I was first introduced to the concept of Etic Reality in a comic book. (I read a lot of them.) From the Warren Ellis and Tom Raney 1997 issue of STORMWATCH (#47), I picked up on the idea that an etic reality is one that we cannot understand because we do not have the equipment for it. It was just a few lines of dialog that had little to do with the overall story in an otherwise mediocre comic but that sparked a moment of clarity.Etic and Emic from Stormwatch #47 Warren Ellis and Tom Raney 1997 Copyright DC ComicsEtic – and its opposite emic – are terms derived primarily from the social and behavioral sciences, particularly anthropology. Etic and emic are two different perspectives used when trying to evaluate observations from fieldwork. The viewpoints are distinct and it is essential in research to be clear about where observations are coming from and how the observer may affect the results. The etic perspective is from an observer outside the cultural paradigm, while the emic perspective is from an observer within the social group – a native to that cultural paradigm. 

For example, from an etic perspective the founding fathers were elitists, slave owners, misogynists and worse – and patriots. From an emic perspective they were radical liberal visionaries – and traitors. From our perspective, we may have ideas about what it was like for them but we cannot really experience it. 

Likewise, an etic reality is a dimension or alternate universe that we here in this universe do not have sufficient reference to understand, language to define, or senses to perceive.

Maybe you have heard the story of how in 1492 Native Americans could not see the ships of Columbus because they were so alien – an etic reality invisible to their emic world view. Only after more exposure were they able to view and recognize those ships. 

For me, discovering the words etic and emic clarified the creative process that I was already doing. It didn’t shift my style of painting or my intention as an artist. I already had a clear intention to bring my visions forth and give them a physical form. However, this comic book enhanced my vocabulary to better define what I am doing and to talk about it in a new way.

More: Etic Realities – Real or Imagined?

Etic Landscape #1, 24x36, Mixed Media on Canvas

Etic Landscape #1

Mixed Media on Canvas, 24″x36″

Purchase information for this painting.

Gallery Representation at Xanadu Gallery

Xanadu Gallery of Scottsdale, Arizona has selected my recent painting Soul Mates #7 for the cover of their latest catalogue and prominently on their homepage.

Xanadu Gallery is all about selecting outstanding and eclectic art work. In the legendary city of Xanadu (from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem) Kubla Kahn gathered the finest art and treasures from the farthest reaches of his vast kingdom.

With a philosophy like that, I am honored to be represented by Xanadu Gallery.

Update: My agreement with them has expired. Shop reproductions of this painting.

Reproductions Available

By popular demand (Joe Popular of Nyack, NY demanded it), I am making my recent painting, Soul Mates #7, available as a reproduction for affordable purchase by the rabid fans of The Mindstream, the up and coming prog-pop/space-blues/rock musicians that commissioned their debut album cover art from me.

I am happy to make these reproductions available to my followers, too.

These quality gicleee reproductions and are available in a variety of formats and can be delivered framed or unframed.

Shop here.

Challenge of the Blank Canvas

The move to the new studio is complete and a blank canvas beckons.

I may have had the vision already and maybe it is yet to come as I work, but every new canvas is an intimidating invitation to creativity.

And not just a blank canvas but also a freshly painted wall and pristine floor.

I am hesitating to get into it. Will what I produce be worthy of all the considerable work, time and expense that it takes to make a satisfactory painting?

"Deadline", lithograph by Norman Rockwell. Printed by me at Atelier Ettinger, 1977.

“Deadline,” hand drawn lithograph by Norman Rockwell. Printed by me at Atelier Ettinger, 1977.

 

Life imitates art

It’s not a big secret that I get inspiration from astronomical pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope and even use them liberally in my digital collage prints. (It’s all ok. They are paid for by tax dollars and therefore in the public domain.)

24x30 Mixed Media on Canvas

24×30 Mixed Media on Canvas

Here is one just released that has made the rounds on the internet because Star Wars.

Read more about the astro phenomena.

Read more about the painting.

Funny thing is – it looks very much like this painting that I completed a few weeks ago. Am I tuned in to the Force?

I’m sure I will be combining and reworking these images digitally in the near future.

Why Inyo Studio?

Inyo is a Paiute word for “where dwells the Great Spirit.”

At a time of personal crisis, the context for my artwork was gifted to me by the higher spirits on a three-day fasting Vision Quest in the Inyo National Forest in the high desert of California.

Up there alone in the mountains, I was impressed by the vast clear starry night sky and also by the inner source of my own being and felt the sublime oneness in apparent duality. In a powerful flash of awareness (I can see why someone can say that God has spoken to them directly – it was like that), I was given the medicine name of Light into Being – a name that both exemplifies my art and provides foundational context to my life.

The closing act of a Vision Quest is where one comes back and lives out that vision for the benefit of the people. And I must confess that it took me many, many years to give myself over to the painting.

“A man who has a vision is not able to use the power of it until after he has performed the vision on earth for the people to see.” –Black Elk

So here I am now, doing that.

I sometimes think I’ll go back to that sacred mountain. I know I could find my special spot on the edge of a cliff overlooking Death Valley (symbolism much?). But I am not so sure I could still make the climb. Then again, I have a mountain right here in my backyard as well as the etherial one that I carry within – so there is no real need for the trip.

Many have visions – few make them real.  And this art is my visions made physical for my people.

Infinite Vortex

In the rush to announce the winning entry earlier this week, I neglected to say anything about why I picked “Fibonacci’s Eye”.

Fibonacci was a 13th century mathematician that popularized the system of written numbers that we use today. He is probably best known now among Sacred Geometry aficionados.

I use many spirals in my artwork and these look best when laid out using mathematical sequences also known as the golden ratio or golden spiral. Fibonacci is well known to me.

In this work from a few years ago, the circles are imbedded in hidden spirals. The center of each circle is plotted on a spiral and the size of each circle also follows in Fibonacci progression.

The progression also has roots in the metre in Sanskrit poetry.

Details and purchase information for this painting.

Work in Progress

I know I want this to be one of my triangle based paintings. Here I am trying to decide how I want to orient the triangle. That’s a piece of paper I am holding in front of the canvas that enables me to better visualize various alignments.

Sometimes I know before I start a painting what it will look like, and sometimes – like here – it evolves before me as if it were emerging from a fog in my awareness. I can see clearly where my next step is and perhaps a few few steps on ahead. But beyond that I can’t see yet, but I know when I get there I’ll see the path ahead for a few steps more.