Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Potential New Studio

I’ve been out-of-pocket a bit, lately, due to a couple details I’ll disclose in another week or two. From the above picture, one can ascertain that those details include recent searches for some new family digs boasting a much larger new studio, my present studio is between 400 & 500 sqft (a good size, but we’re always on the look-out for more space). We’ve found one that needs a lot of work, but so did my current incarnation. The new studio boasts a second floor and good storage opportunities for all those wooden shipping crates, between exhibitions, so I’m a bit psyched, despite the potential of having to insulate and drywall the building while still completing paintings for upcoming shows. It may or my not happen, but either way... this search has taken-up a good portion of my thoughts these last few weeks.– DN

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Intellectual Rights of Artists

"Contemporary art and art history is full of misunderstanding between creators and viewers about the meaning that work itself communicates. Both sides can be responsible for speaking past one another. True, many academics or critics exploit art's "messages" for self-interested methodological or political ends. But many excellent artists leave themselves defenseless against such hijacking because they cannot articulate persuasively why they do what they do." - The Guardian (UK) 01/26/07

At what point is the artist's work no longer their intellectual property? I’ve been witness to gallerists that purposefully mis-hang work; non-profit arts funders that misquote artist statements and critics that superimpose their own agendas on the “meaning of a work” – all in the name of furthering the art or artist. – DN

Monday, January 29, 2007

Chemical Blends

Some ninth century Iraqi artists may have literally died for their art, suggests new analysis of Iraqi stucco fragments from this period. A fragment, taken from the ancient palace-city of Samarra, contains three arsenic-based pigments that are known to be poisonous and may cause cancer upon exposure.

Although the findings will not be published until May in the Journal of Archaeological Science, curators at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, where the fragments are housed, have already taken special handling precautions.

"The fragments are stored in a locked cabinet and only handled as little as possible by curators in the Museum’s Middle Eastern section who wear nitrile (special sturdy rubber) gloves," Mariam Rosser-Owen, curator of the Middle East collections at the museum, told Discovery News.

Lucia Burgio, a conservation scientist at the museum, added that researchers also might wear face masks and work in a "fume cupboard." If the object should go on display, it would be placed in a special case "to avoid any accidental contamination of members of the public."

For the study, Burgio, Rosser-Owen and colleague Robin Clark used a non-invasive, high tech process called Raman microscopy, which scanned a grid pattern over the surface of the fragments to construct maps of chemical information. These maps revealed that an otherwise innocuous-looking stucco fragment of colorful stripes contained the toxic pigments orpiment, pararealgar, and another related substance.

These orange-yellow minerals are toxic arsenic sulphides. Orpiment was even once used to coat the tips of poison arrows.

The ancient Iraqis, however, probably did not realize the minerals were poisonous, although some artists may have died for their craft.

"People died young until a couple of centuries ago, and I guess other illnesses were causing artists to die before they got poisoned to death by the materials they were using," explained Burgio. "What happened to their apprentices, who ground and prepared the pigments on a routine basis, I don’t know."

The fragments were once colorful wall paintings on a fine gypsum surface that decorated mosques and palaces at Samarra, which is just over 77 miles away from Baghdad.

Construction of this massive, ancient city created "an early golden age for architectural decoration," according to the researchers. While small, the fragments show beautifully rendered decorations based on plant forms, animals and courtly activities, such as people enjoying wine and dancing. The style is uniquely Arabic, but was possibly influenced by Central Asian artwork.

Clark, a professor in the Christopher Ingold Laboratories at University College London, said the toxic pigments were also "well known in Western Europe." Shades of green, including emerald green, are also sometimes poisonous elements of certain early European art, due to the presence of arsenic-containing copper arsenite and copper arsenoacetate.

Alastair Northedge, professor of art and Islamic archaeology at the University of Paris, is one of the world's leading western experts on Samarra. He recently authored the book, "Historical Topography of Samarra."

Northedge told Discovery News that he is "sure the conclusions are correct" in the recent study.

"It was interesting to see the painters were poisoning themselves with arsenic," he said.

Toxins aside, remains of Samarra, also known as the Abbasid Caliphate in Iraq, comprise a site of important archaeological relevance.

"The Abbasid Caliphate was one of the high points of world civilization," said Northedge, "but it has been more or less inaccessible because of Saddam, and now the war."

A new international project,, has been set up to better understand the site and what its art and architecture would have looked like during its golden age. – Discovery News 1/22/2007

I only occasionally mess with toxic paints, these days. My children are plagued with asthma and I feared worsening their condition via the introduction of chemical asthma; so a few years ago I began experimenting with creating my own acrylic-based formulas that utilize the minimal amount of solvents, but still retain wet flow and a multi-layered dried appearance. – DN

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Time and Place... Time in Place... Time is Place

Mark Mahan, 74, a retired college textbook sales manager from Columbus, Ohio: “I was in the military for four years, in Germany, France and Belgium and the Netherlands. My wife and I have been to China, to Italy a couple times, to Greece. I have never been to Yellowstone. My wife says, ‘We travel to all these places around the world, and there’s so much beauty here in the United States.’ I was sitting in the front row, and the geyser made three or four phony starts and then it really blew off. We got snowed in that night. There was only one exit out of the park and you couldn’t travel on it. But you could travel inside the park. That gave us an extra day, so we went back to see this thing about three more times.” – New York Times 1/28/2007

TIME is money, they say. And if you ask the puckish artist Vik Muniz why that is, exactly, he will explain in his own simple terms: each is meant to be spent — not saved.

“I like spending money,” he said last week at the modern Brooklyn house and studio where he lives with his wife and young daughter. “I don’t like money in the bank. I like moments.”- New York Times 1/28/2007

Who are we if we love the whole world, but don’t take the time to experience our own backyard? – DN

Friday, January 26, 2007

Maps of Utopia, the online site of Forbes magazine, on Thursday said timber and real estate baron Tim Blixseth has just upped the ante in the price of the world's most expensive home, planning to build and sell a home for $155 million.

The 53,000-square-foot stone and wood mansion will be built at the Yellowstone Club, a members-only, residential ski and golf resort near Bozeman, Montana developed by Blixseth.

That tops the $139 million asking price for Updown Court in Windlesham, England, which was listed No. 1 in the list of the world's most expensive homes in 2006.

It also exceeds the $125 million that U.S. media mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump is asking for the renovated estate he owns in Palm Beach, Florida.

Blixseth, who ranks No. 322 in the 2006 Forbes 400 list with a $1.2 billion fortune, said he had already received interest in the home.

"Some of (the world's richest) just have to have the best. Price is not an issue," he told

The 10-bedroom mansion will sit on 160 acres and will come with a private gondola-like chairlift that will carry residents to the Yellowstone Club's private ski slopes, an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, and a home movie theater, and it is fully furnished. © Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

The above article exemplifies the underlying theme of all my work - the socially destructive nature of sectioning-off the best portions of the country by the self-indulgent rich in an effort to create a private playground for the wealthy elite.

I’ve called myself a socialist painter on more than one occasion. While I admire many aspects of the socialist ideal; I do not believe it can exist in our reality, simply because the human soul lacks the necessary amount of purity. I include myself in that assessment. If given the opportunity for great riches – I’d take it, every time. Who wouldn’t want 50,000 acres along the Rocky Mountain front and a staff to maintain the land?

Like all my work, the digital camera cannot do justice to the subtle color nuances that occur in the map-like paintings of the utopia residing in my mind. The utopia I imagine, not unlike most attempts at true socialism, is ultimately a failed society. The maps I paint serve to give a visual presence to the society prior to the moment of over-escalation. The ever-present slight inequality of plots designated to citizenry; the imperfections of pathways between the residents. It’s all there, waiting for the moment when the inconsistencies will crash-down and the people demand someone with power and authority step-in to make everything “right”. Do you recall the biblical stories from your youth? Remember the moment when Israel cast-off their rule of Judges and demanded of G-d a King or single authority figure, like other nations? All utopias fail, but it doesn’t make them any less appealing. – DN

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Shipping Artwork

I’m entering into my busiest year yet of solo exhibitions with an expected 130-150 individual paintings already allocated for shows in 2007. My question for the masses is this:

What has been your experience shipping artwork? Which carrier have you had the best track record for timely delivery at the lowest rate? Which carrier has damaged or LOST your shipments?

Over the last thirteen or so years of shipping artwork I have accumulated the following knowledge…

UPS throws all wooden crates into the bottom of the truck with the tires and 5-gallon paint cans. Don’t expect UPS to actually pay for any damaged artwork that you insure, without a handful of proof to the value of the artwork-in-question. Proof includes conservator quotes for repairs as well as formal appraisals of that work and similar pieces and past sales receipts. A separate insurance rider on the piece in question is always nice as well.

USPS is completely unreliable and incompetent in many states (New Mexico is a prime example). In my opinion the United States Postal service should be completely privatized and an optional service for citizens. A very slight increase in the rate of stamps would destroy the original spammers (junk mail) and the general citizenry would not be held at the mercy of a government entity that acts absurdly simply because… they mistakenly view themselves as a necessary utility. This is the age of email and online banking; while many baby-boomers may balk at exposing financial info online… I believe leaving personal banking info in a street-side mailbox or in my case – the mail carrier’s trunk is much more dangerous. Besides the rant, though, I worked at a postal sorting plant many years ago while a lowly college student attempting to earn enough extra cash to by my spouse’s engagement ring. My experience in government work taught me a thing or two about seniority, incompetence and technical terms in the government sponsored shipping industry.

Smoke breaks = pot breaks (then they return to sort your letters…)

Fragile = throw twice as hard and wildly into the trailer

Open or broken packages = continue to forward to the next destination until the box is completely empty, then claim to “not understand what happened” because there is now no way to know what the package contained

Seniority = when everyone either quits from stress or is fired for stealing mail, the person that has been with the agency the longest automatically becomes the new boss (in the case of my sorting plant, the senior employee was the guy that pushed the broom around the sorting floor ten hours everyday… that’s right the bosses were all canned for stealing mail and the custodian became the plant supervisor – that’s when I quit)

DHL - I’ve had three packages “temporarily lost” by this company in the past four years. Not great, but considering their shipping fees are one-fifth of that by FedEx and UPS… a very viable option. Absolutely no insurance provided over $100 for artwork but once again VERY inexpensive… I’ve shipped entire 25-piece shows in three wooden crates for as little $66 (total!).

FEDEX – probably the best option for safety concerns… I know that all the big Santa Fe galleries only use this company. Then again, these same galleries also ship 99% of their art in sturdy cardboard containers – a major no-no… one word… WET! Cardboard doesn’t protect against water and I can personally guarantee you that your package will encounter an opportunity to the exposure of elements. Now in all fairness this is a common issue with ALL carriers but just remember; the package handlers at UPS, FEDEX and DHL are all making the same minimum wage. All packages are handled quickly rather than safely.

So, Daniel, how do I protect myself and my potential exhibition, you may ask. Build a sturdy crate. Solid reinforced wood (think hinges), insulated (remember the eggshell sound-proofing used on the interior walls of radio studios), and waterproof (glue-seal where you can, but more importantly place each work in its own sealed plastic bag inside the crate). Each crate may cost upwards of $30-40 to build, but they are reusable for a minimum of a year (if maintained with new screws, patching, etc) and allow one to ship via a cheaper carrier such as DHL with only the worry of the very occasional temporary loss instead utter destruction of the package, and ultimately, the artwork.

Good-luck, let me hear your stories and nightmares with the shippers. - DN

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A place over time...

I’ve started and left unfinished a handful of posts, over the past few days. Rather than taking the time to publish new posts, I’ve spent more effort on the newer individual paintings I mentioned a week or so ago. This new direction is just another perspective in the ever-evolving process of my life’s work as a socialist painter.

From a technical standpoint, is it possible in painting to skip from two-dimensional work directly to a seemingly fourth-dimensional projection, all the while maintaining a physical flatness of spatiality to the actual art work? Lately, I’ve been building aerial perspectives within my work; an omniscient viewpoint of the land not unlike a topographic map. Although the new paintings will definitely draw comparisons to Google satellite maps, the most obvious differences include the color-shading-induced depth of field given to the space and the satellite-perspective of my unique sumi-e marks of trails and pathways. Not to mention, my skewed landscapes that are part reality bundled with dreamy imagination.

The new pieces are a narrative representation of what happens to a place over time, as told from the perspective of space. I have created a faux-three-dimensionality via very slight layers of rice and other handmade papers built upon the surface of the works, buried under layers of paint and ink. Caught in the perfect moment of light, the viewer can capture an impression of previous societies that may have once inhabited these landscapes of my mind. Does this new aspect of painting "a place over time" lend itsef to the fourth-dimension? I’ll post the first couple examples of this new work before the weekend. – DN

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sen. Pelosi...Please Bomb Nigeria

I will like to purchase some of your visual art for display in my home
can you give me details of the art you have available for sale or a website
that could lead me to your work,i will also apprecaite you sending me images
of your work through email in case you do not have a website .Hope to read
from you soon.

Another lovely email from Nigeria... of course. Kinda makes you regret the internet for a minute or two each day. - DN

Thursday, January 18, 2007


A new exhibit at a Massachusetts gallery purports to show that Monet was not "the anti-draftsman he led the public to believe, and that he relied on drawing both to prepare for his paintings and as an independent form of expression... Although Monet helped perpetrate the myth that he did not, and maybe even could not, draw, nearly 500 of more than 2,500 works mentioned in his catalogue raisonné are sketchbooks, drawings and pastels. Yet, until now, few scholars have paid much attention to them." The New York Times 01/17/07

I have trouble believing that skill is accidental. There is certainly an innate amount of inborn talent with the majority of working artists; but fine tuning the talent to produce an actual skill is the key to long-term success. The above article stating that Monet was an accomplished draftsman is hardly a revolutionary concept. Monet’s natural ability to frame a composition while remaining a plein-air painter, always held secret references to time spent in the studio. Particularly during his later works of water lilies created during the onset of waning vision loss.

Picasso was a young god of natural artistic skill and precision at an early age. Many of his most masterful realist works were completed in his teens while studying old masters’ paintings; having stated that he was born with talent – it must also be noted that he studied. Charles Thomson, co-founder of Stuckism mentioned in a previous comment to this blog – the importance of vision. While I agree with the undeniable attraction to the moment of the actual conception of an idea (no proponent of the artistic process can deny this fact); I continue to find the lesser importance delegated to actual technical prowess as troubling. It seems to me that the dominance of a “vision over skill” mantra as promoted by the Stuckists is very similar to the generalized complaints many have towards concepts of conceptual art. Conceptual art as a whole is completely about reinforcing the “idea” over all other aesthetic details. Many viewers become unnerved when they find this forwarding of ideas to be at the detriment of traditional skill. Although, I continuously attempt to remain open-minded to the statement of the work, I admit that I too am often turned-off by the loss of technique in the process of the artwork establishing voice. That is the major issue I have with the Stuckism “movement”. This forwarding of “vision over technique” does little to prove itself separate from the world of conceptual art it desires to overthrow. The major difference I see between conceptual art and Stuckism - is the limiting of medium by the painting-only philosophy of the Stuckists. – DN

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Paint for the moment

The French do the cooking.
The Italians are in charge of hospitality.
The Germans are in charge of organization.
And the British are the police.

The British do the cooking.
The French are in charge of hospitality.
The Italians are in charge of organization.
And the Germans are the police.

Someone sent me the above list via email. It made me stop to wonder about the modern concept of an after-life across differing cultures and nationalities. Do we all speak the same language or is it too a post-Babel land? Is the presence of art considered the reward or punishment? – my hell would be eternity stuck in a room full of saw-blade painting enthusiasts, with the television blasting the QVC channel during a Thomas Kinkade print sale marathon.

I was raised to minimize emphasis on earthly success in order to achieve an afterlife reward. Needless to say, I found that approach contradictory to my self-styled importance as a painter. The very subject of my work has slowly become the exploration of society in nature as it relates to the importance of living life in a particular place – to the fullest. So where does that leave me personally as an artist searching for immortality through the exploration of the impermanent? I’m personally resigned to indifference with regard to the overall concept of an afterlife. While I’m not stating that all artists are removed from ideals of heaven and hell, I do recognize that in my case concentration on the attainability of a post-mortem reward is counter-productive; or to be more exact - an interference in my search for earthly permanence. – DN

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ruh Roh, I pissed off some Stuckists... I better watch-out or they'll put me on their ongoing list of who they dislike

I seem to have drawn quite a few strong opinions with my last rather short post. Leslie stated the opinion that most artists do not set-out to establish an art movement; rather serendipity and history drops them into one (I’m summarizing). Although I do recognize examples of such an action, I also remember moments in “art history” such as the Pre-Raphaelites that specifically set-out to form an art movement as a revolt against the tide of acceptable art. Granted, though, that this group was a rare example an organized “revolt” art group that survived the filter of history. I guess my search for a new art movement is less concerned with rebellion and more interested in finding a common ground that will allow it to survive beyond the typical brief life-span of most art movements. JNix mentioned in his comment that it could be cultural rather than just an art movement and I definitely agree with this approach. Only by interjecting awareness across the social and cultural spectrum can anything survive with a semblance of relevance, particularly in this information age.

Now onto Stuckism…

I'm hard-pressed to disagree with just about any freedom-of-speech/ideas that you can throw at me - unless your idea includes the repression of other's ideas. I had to actually reread what I wrote, because my comment was so brief:

“or in the case of the Stuckism art movement, a rejection of specific stylistic ideals.”

One anonymous posted comment stated “I don't think you have a clear idea of what Stuckism is, if that's your opinion....”

This is what the “Stuckism” website says:

“Radical international art movement for new figurative painting with ideas. Anti the pretensions of conceptual art. Anti-anti-art. The first Remodernist art group.”


“The Stuckists are, therefore, opposed to the current pretensions of so-called Brit Art, Performance Art, Installation Art, Video Art, Conceptual Art, Minimal Art, Body Art, Digital Art and anything claiming to be art which incorporates dead animals or beds - mainly because they are unremarkable and boring.”

How are the above two statements not a rejection of stylistic ideals? Furthermore, I wasn’t saying a rejection of stylistic ideals is all-together a poor stance. I simply was giving an example of paths taken by other art movements. For example, I personally find the majority of Pop Art to be boring and pretentious… however, my opinion doesn’t make it any less of an art movement.

The argument for the “importance” of Stuckism is ironically summed-up by Leslie’s previously mentioned comments. History will ultimately decide if their work or movement is of any real importance. The main page of their website boasts "stuckism is the No. 1 international art movement of 30million on google" ... what the hell does that even mean? I visited their website, does that suddenly make me a believer? I find it particularly interesting that everytime I mention, "Stuckism" the stuckist police immediately send emails to my inbox and posts to my blog. Hey stuckists are you really that insecure that you continuously troll the internet for what you view as derogatory comments about your precious movement?

While on the surface, I must admit that Stuckism projects many of the ideals of thought-provoking painting that I personally adhere to as an artist; I heartily disagree with it’s blanket rejection approach to any form of art that does not fit within their standards of figurative thoughtfulness. Where does their movement allow for the acceptance of works like: The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago or pretty much anything by Andy Goldsworthy? (I consider Goldsworthy one of the great true artistic innovators of all time).

When I think of Stuckists – I immediately think: neo-fundamentalists of the art world. - DN

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What makes a sustainable movement?

What is the true measure of an art movement? Is it style, philosophy, or something else? As a college art student, I dreamed of finding that personal imprint for my work. That unique style that is so elusive to one under the tutelage of others. Fortunately, I finally reached the point in my work, where it was definitely distinguishable from the rest of the art world. However, I question if that is an anti-motivator for the creation of a new art movement. I fought, within my art, for a singular identity for so many years, how difficult will it be to share my process with others – in order to attain the cohesive nature of a following or movement? Is the true purpose of a movement based on stylistic approach – to remain a moment in time? A polaroid of what occurred from this date to that date, and the influences that led to such styling?

I question the thought behind starting a movement based purely around style and technical approach – or in the case of the “Stuckism” art movement, a rejection of specific stylistic ideals. Relying on a singular approach or equally on the rejection of one leaves the movement destined for death. I constantly evolve my style out of a divergence from boredom. In the last ten or so year I’ve learned that everything becomes uninteresting, if given enough time. Everything that is, but the ultimate questions of human relevance. All art movements have their high period and lost moment. Wouldn’t it make more sense to create a movement around the exploration of the human condition and how it interacts with nature? – DN

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

You're Fired!... we don't like thinkers around these parts...

RICHMOND, Va. — A high school art teacher who sparked controversy when his off-hours work as a so-called "butt-printing artist" became known has been fired.

The Chesterfield County School Board, in a unanimous voice vote, decided to terminate Stephen Murmer at a meeting Tuesday night, spokeswoman Debra Marlow said.

The vote came during a nearly three-hour meeting during which the board heard Chesterfield superintendent Marcus J. Newsome's recommendation that Murmer be fired during a portion of the meeting closed to the public. Murmer and his lawyer, Jason Anthony, also had an opportunity to present their case in closed session, she said.

The voice vote came after the meeting was opened to the public.

In its decision, the board reasoned that students have a right to receive their education in a positive learning environment free from distractions and disruptions, Marlow said. The decision also is in keeping with court rulings that hold that teachers are expected to lead by example, be role models and honor core values, she said.

The school system operates under an ideal that holds respect, responsibility, honesty and accountability as core values for all students and employees to abide, and the board clearly felt that Murmer had gone outside those parameters with his art.

Afterward, Anthony called the vote "a bad day for the First Amendment."

"Chesterfield lost a tremendous asset today," he said.

Murmer, a teacher at Monacan High School, was suspended in December after objections were raised about his private abstract artwork, much of which includes smearing his posterior and genitals with paint and pressing them against canvas.

His paintings sell for as much as $900 each on his Web site.

The unique approach to art became a topic when a clip showing Murmer, wearing a fake nose and glasses, a towel on his head and black thong, turned up on

That video inevitably made its way to the high school.

Murmer contacted the American Civil Liberties Union after he was suspended, and ACLU executive director Kent Willis said Tuesday night the case is far from simple.

"A public employee such as a school teacher has a right to free expression outside the work place so long as that free expression doesn't go beyond his ability to do his job," Willis said after learning of the board's vote to dismiss Murmer.

"The question is, 'Does his art interfere with his ability to teach?"'

Willis noted that it wasn't until the county decided to suspend Murmer a month ago that the video illustrating his unusual approach to art became a topic of discussion.

He said the county has overreacted with its decision to fire Murmer.

FOXNEWS (yeah, it really hurt me to have to quote these fools).

Looks like they fired his ass... sorry I couldn't resist. Sad day in deed for art and the freedom of speech. This was the quote that really made the hair on my neck stand-up:

The school system operates under an ideal that holds respect, responsibility, honesty and accountability as core values for all students and employees to abide, and the board clearly felt that Murmer had gone outside those parameters with his art.

I may not like the guy's work, but it is his right to do whatever he wants when not at a contracted job. - DN

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ways to adjust my concepts of social painting. The best approach I can come-up with is a slight redefinition of style. Though my work is continuously evolving, I believe it may be time to skew my perspective – literally.

As my family returns to work and school, this week, I believe it may be time to experiment with a series of solely aerial perspectives. Imagine works such as “Hutterite Monopoly” or "Cervantes: Every Man is the Son of His Own Works" from above. An omniscient approach to painting, as in writing; now let’s take it a step further and integrate my westernized sumi-e style with basic illusionary concepts of European trompe l’oeil and I may have a new stylistic approach on my hands. Trompe L’Oeil is a French art term, literally meaning “fool the eye”. The term describes a deceptive realist painter’s technique (very often utilized by muralists). Click here to read more about it.

I now have two solo shows scheduled this spring, one this summer and two more in the fall. This is actually the first year that I’ve never had a group exhibition on the calendar. Though I should be just mindlessly painting to fill my quotas, I can’t work that way. Despite my high annual production numbers, I occasionally find time to stop work for a week or two every few months, just to reflect on the creations and remain discriminative regarding the direction of the overall body of work. The down time often becomes rather dark, I have trouble not painting. To deny myself the process of creation is slightly masochistic, but I always reemerge on the other side, a more focused artist because of the brief hiatus to reevaluate the work. This "lost space" is where I have been living for about two to three weeks, now. There will be more new work to come in the next two weeks, watch for some changes. - DN

Monday, January 08, 2007

More of the same

We continue to be in the same snowy mess down south. We finally dug-out enough from our four feet of snow to leave the house after 9 days. Then last night, high winds blew snow drifts (nothing has ever melted) back across our county dirt road and our uphill drive. I have three foot snow drifts where I had already cleared the drive and the actual road is completely unmanageable. So now we’re stuck again, at least for the day, while I re-dig-out from the snow. I have only had mail delivery once since December 23rd and no trash pick-up since December 18th. The state is a mess due to continuous harsh weather and our fair governor is in Darfur negotiating peace deals.

I’m currently waiting for my studio to warm-up, it’s about 20 degrees outside, so I suspect a three hour wait till I can commence painting. The studio is well insulated, but I just use a ceramic heater for warmth… - DN

Friday, January 05, 2007


I’m sitting at my kitchen table looking out the three picture windows facing my bald-topped mountain, still covered in snow. Nearly forty minutes now, I’ve been watching three jack-rabbits chase each other across the rising hill, under short trees and between iced-over cacti. They remind me of the packs of city rabbits that emerged early each morning in the yards of the south St. Louis suburbs I briefly inhabited before diving head-first into my two-year inner-city house restoration. I never questioned where they came from, but I certainly missed them, once I left the quieter suburbs for the more busy and polluted city.

The rabbits draw-out my sense of wonder and I find myself thinking back to why I originally left Montana for this high desert mountain range called the Sangre de Cristos or “Christ’s Blood” mountains. Part of my relocation can be blamed on the call of the southern art market in New Mexico’s capital city, while the rest might very well be placed on a magazine and my own sense of vanishing invincibility. Though I am not a fan of genre-based arts periodicals, such as American Artist, Wildlife Art or the Artist’s Magazine; I am occasionally drawn to sections of Southwest Art Magazine. One feature of the periodical that particularly flagged my interest while still living in Montana was the annual “21 under 31” – the magazine editor’s selection of the top 21 artists 31 years and under residing in the western United States. I read that and felt, or rather... I knew I needed to leave. At the time I left Montana, I was closing-in on my thirtieth birthday and feeling the pinch of lost youth.

This morning, I turned thirty-two while looking out across my mountain and wondering if I should spend the day playing in the snow with my children, like the hares; or working in the studio. I was never featured in Southwest Art. I don’t know if it would have had much impact on my career, if I had been listed. Their market really isn’t my typical audience. As far as my age – like everything else, age is what you make of it. I have a good life, a loyal family and I’m a damn good painter. I live an enviable life, what else could I ask for? – DN

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Nothing left to say... hardly.

"Alice Munro has this year done a remarkable thing: still in full command of her powers, she announced that she has finished writing because at 75, she has used up all her material and has nothing left to say." Toronto Star 12/31/06

Is this possible? I’m not an Alice Munroe fan in the first place, so it takes my complete control to not say…. Well… I guess she was just in it for the money, rather than the art… oops, guess it slipped out. Seriously, though, is it possible for an artist to be complete? Tomorrow, I’ll turn 32 and I have trouble believing I’ll ever be “done” with making art. Does Alice Munroe believe the world is now perfect? Or after seventy-five years of witnessing the plight and degradation of what one human can inflict upon another… is she simply resigned to let it be? – DN