Wordless Wednesday: Tied Up


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Monte.

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The Mind of An Artist


I draw. I take photos. I write.

For all intents and purposes, I am an artist.

I see things differently. I will be the one people stare at as I take a photo of something they can’t immediately understand, like a hideous doll at the thrift shop complete with sparkly rainbow Hammer pants. I find personal amusement and that respect, as much beauty in the awkwardly mundane as I do in the purest of nature.

My mind is not wired like a non-artist. It is always going at a rapid pace, writing scenes to an imaginary movie that nobody but me will ever see. The movie’s soundtrack is composed of incidental music that doesn’t exist outside of my cranium, and the confines of my head are my little theater with my brain as the screenwriter who doesn’t care about treatments, pitches, or character arcs. This is my movie, and I am the director, producer, and both best boys.

All that said, to me, art is about being different and eliciting a response, which is perhaps I didn’t think 1987’s Piss Christ was a big deal. On its surface the print appears to be of a crucifix submerged in a substance that could be urine yet the artist, Andres Serrano, only alludes to it in the title. The viewer is left to decide. It’s also worth noting that at the time of Piss Christ, I was slowly drifting away from my Catholic upbringing which could have led to my nonchalance about the work.

As a result, I “got” it unlike those whom it offended, those who based their offense on religious grounds even though the artist himself was unclear as to what the crucifix was submerged in. Those whom it offended, were offended by themselves.

Serrano did his job.

So, moving on. At this point I’ve established that my mind is always working overtime, that I’m the one people might think is weird, and that my mind always open to and looking for new ideas. It’s all true, even at work.

I am an artist – an artist who bags groceries for his weekly notes and coins. And it was at my job a few nights ago when I was feeling a little worthless about my work situation. A part-time cart monkey, banana bagger, spill picker-upper, trash-emptier. At age 45, That’s what I do.

To make matters worse, on this particular night I had been resigned to working with a cashier who, for the lack of a better description, has taken her job and all that it encompasses to levels I can’t begin to comprehend. Scanning bananas, and enforcing the rules that come with it, seems to be her livelihood. And with me being the newest person on the job, she’s often pointing out the most obvious things just for the sake of doing it.

She’s also one who has no sense of humor and whose thoughts can’t stay inside her head. I don’t need to know when you’re going to the restroom, why a label is not affixed to a can of beans properly, or that the ties on your apron are too tight. If you’d complain a little less and do more, then perhaps the job you’re working hard at perfecting would go a lot smoother.

Maybe this is her art.

But I digress. I needed a break from bagging for this person and told my supervisor that I was going to go outside and “clear the lot,” grocery store lingo for “be a cart monkey and gather up all the shopping carts.” I went to the office to don my reflective orange safety vest and made my out into the cool of the evening.

I had cleared about half of the lot and was picking up trash along the way because, for some, grocery store parking lots are also magical. They are places where they can indiscriminately dump trash and *POOF*, without a murmur of protest from anybody, it will be gone the next day. And that trash can be anything from cinder blocks to pizza boxes to lottery tickets. I’ve seen them all.

But you can also dump your old beverage from your coffee tumbler in a grocery store lot. I see it all the time but unlike standard trash, I don’t clean it up. The liquid will eventually dissipate after being walked through, run over, etc. which makes my job *this* much easier.

I seem to have gone off on an entirely different tangent here, haven’t I? How did I go from art to my job to spilled coffee? How are any of these related?

Because this.

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A microcosm of this post is now before you: art, the weirdo who takes pictures of odd things, an unknown liquid, my job, a spilled beverage. It’s all there, right above this paragraph.

When I saw this heart-shaped spill, I knew I had to grab my phone and get a picture of it because it meant something to me. I couldn’t start questioning things like my favorite cashier does much too often; I just had to capture the moment and take it from there. And that’s exactly what I did. The artist in me accepted it for the shape it represented and nothing else. Who spilled it, why they did it, what the liquid was…none of it mattered. The heart is what mattered.

I went back inside to my station with my favorite cashier. Fortunately, I was told to take a break soon afterward and did just that.

While on my break I looked over the photo again, still admiring the complete randomness of it all but wasn’t too happy with the quality of the image so took it into a photo editing app and started messing with contrast, colors, etc. After a whole slew of adjustments, I found one that pleased me more than any of them.

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I had transformed it from a random spill of unknown liquid and origin to something that could resemble blood, with the heart-shape only lending to the message.

What message? It looked nice but that wasn’t enough, so I kept messing with it and ended up with this.

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And so I had.

This is how the mind of an artist works. It’s not the easiest to understand but the artist doesn’t expect you to. It’s the result that must elicit a response.

By the way, that doll I mentioned was no joke.

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I told you my mind was different than yours.

Pumpkins, Part Deux


Remember those nifty home-grown pumpkins from a few posts ago? Well, last night Ann bought our annual package of carving instruments and we went to town.

Here is mine which was made from the tallest pumpkin of the bunch:

I figured since this is the 15th anniversary of The Nightmare Before Christmas, I thought I’d do mine as Jack Skellington. Although my original intention was to paint his face on the surface, I’m rather pleased with what I ended up with here. Anthony ended up only carving a little bit before he cut himself ever so slightly. That’s when he turned in his dull carving instrument and declared he “hated carving pumpkins!” He’ll be fine.

Speaking of things you might remember, what about the pumpkin I tole painted in this post? I found the original decoration which inspired it! Here they are, side-by-side:

They’re almost identical in terms of design but I think mine is a bit smaller. Oh well; I still dig it. As a matter of fact, there were a few other vintage Hallowe’en decorations in the bunch! And since I’m such a nice guy, I’m going to share the wealth.

Here are some decent-size scans of all of them:

Note that since these things are from my childhood, like myself they show signs of wear after years of abuse. (The black cat is missing its tale, for example.) But unlike me, the abuse can be rectified in Photoshop. I ended up taking them to work since my cubicle was looking rather bare for Hallowe’en.

And the black cat decoration is what I used for my Hallowe’en banner, which will change back to the Phillies banner on November 1st. So don’t worry, Preston. I haven’t forgotten our bet 🙂


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This Post Has No Title


Click to enlarge

I honestly couldn’t think of a title for this entry, so there you go.

There was a time, boys and girls, when your old pal Dave here was young and ambitious. No, seriously! I was attending a local community college and working on my AA in Advertising Design but during that time, Ann pointed out to me that I had taken most of the classes required to earn a certificate in Technical Writing. When it came time to make “The Decision” of choosing between work and continuing school, work ended up winning but I did manage to make it out with my certificate–and a really bad college ID card. And I think I still have my art box filled with Primacolor markers, pencils hanging in hardness from 8H to 8B, Rapdiograph pens…ah, good times.

So anyway, before I chose to make a mockery of my skills by attending college, I was an avid artist. I drew whenever I could to stay sharp: cartoon characters, three-point perspectives, etc. The ability to draw was always in me, handed down in genes from my Uncle Ben who was originally contacted by Walt Disney himself to be an artist for this crazy place he imagined called Disneyland. (Uncle Ben eventually refused and worked on his own.)

As proof of my artistic prowess, I offer a shot of one of the few projects I am actually proud of that always seems to make its way from the darkest depths of the garage this time of year. The image at the top of the page is something I threw together over two days back in 1996 and was based on a vintage Hallowe’en decoration my mom gave me a few years prior. (To see more from the same era and possibly set, click here. I dig old Hallowe’en decorations!)

I started out by sketching the image–I never, ever traced–onto a piece of wood then cutting it on a scroll saw. Naturally, I had to drill holes, remove and re-attach the blade to cut the openings for the eyes, mouth and nose. Once the cutting was complete, I slathered the wood with Gesso and let it dry.

From that point it was a matter of eyeballing the thing determining the dominant colors and in this case, they were black, orange and yellow (as are most Hallowe’en decorations–duh!) Once the dominant colors were painted, I went back and painted the detail colors, then used fine- and medium-point black Sharpies for the highlights. I then coated it with a protectant to that it wouldn’t be exposed to the elements and some 12 years later, it’s still holding up.

After all that I decided to drill a hole in the bottom for a stick so that it could be stuck in the ground (or potted plant) for display.

So as you can tell, I have very unconventional techniques when it comes to creating art or something like it. I guess that explains why I never truly continued to pursue my degree, but it’s always nice to see this jack o’ lantern and be reminded of when I was a little more dedicated to art. In fact, I’m considering doing something similar this year with Jack Skellington and company this year but I’m not too sure.

Stay tuned in case anything changes. And let’s go Dodgers!


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Life Imitates Art


Jacques-Louis David was a French Neoclassical artist. And up until the time I took Art History class in college, I had no idea who he was.

But after studying his work I began to admire it more and more, probably because it isn’t what I’ve coined “mouse-pad art” like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” (and I can easily name more).  Just one look at David’s work and it’s easy to understand why he was one of the most influential painters of his time. The attention to detail is simply unreal; there is symbolism in each and every work.

Flash-forward to 2007. As usual, The Kid hadn’t taken a nap so I decided to stick him in the Explorer and drive around the block a few times in the hopes he’d give up.

He did. But it was the way I found him that fascinated me. Check out this side-by-side image:

The moment I saw him in this pose I immediately grabbed my phone-cam and took this shot, which reminded me of David’s “The Death of Marat” (on the left).

After admiring the pose he managed to put himself in, I scooped him out of his seat, put him in bed and let him sleep the sleep of a good child.