Thursday, June 28, 2007

Busy Summer... gotta remember to create posts!

I am currently coming to the end of two shows. My two-month solo exhibition at Palette Contemporary in New Mexico and a one-month group show of religious work at Gallery RFD in Georgia. Despite these closings, new exhibition opportunities are on the horizon. I am scheduled to show two paintings in mid-July at the prestigous ART SANTA FE International Exhibition; basically, the southwest version of Miami Basil. Collectors and galleries from around the globe will be present, as well as special guest Frank Gehry... so maybe something will come of this opportunity.

I also had my "Immersion Travel Art" movement recognized by the curator of the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia. Three paintings representative of the movement along with my manifesto was selected by Curator Holly McCullough for display at Gallery RFD in July and August. So maybe something worthwhile could come of this... is this how viable art movements start? - DN

Monday, June 25, 2007

Toddler Philosophy... is this where dreams originate?

At eight-thirty this morning Samuel took his first swig from the egg creme he begged me to make. He claimed he needed something "chocolately" for washing down his oatmeal. He swallowed and turned halfway around in his chair to proclaim, "that's as smooth as a clean chair"; while stroking the back rail of his kitchen highboy-style seat.

My wife and I regularly discuss opportunities - both missed and acquired. She loves her career as a Speech Language Pathologist working in the hospitals and skilled nursing facilities (not so much her previous stints in the schools or private contracting). Though she still wonders if she should have gone on to medical school; as she secretly always desired. Growing-up, she never felt that her family would take her dream seriously - so she kept it to herself... for a decade and a half.

I took my own odd little paths in the past. A round-about-way of getting from there to here. In my family, ideal career opportunities for a "smart guy" (someone college-bound) led to either engineering or business degrees; and anyone that knows me can easily recognize I don't have an interest for either. I originally settled on working towards degrees that would lead to teaching at university level (English, Art, Philosophy - I didn't care which, but it was something I could justify to my parents), I loved self-expression (particularly painting) and attained a degree in studio art. Graduated and worked for a while as a gallery director with the intention of eventually returning to school for an MFA. I worked for a while as a K-12 art instructor, basically worked my way around the west to find my voice as a painter... the desire to be a professor now only an occasional memory. I'm not sure if I really have any regrets, any other path would have interferred with my progress as an artist; well... maybe I wish my wife was a doctor... my salary isn't what one could honestly classify as "exact" or "regular".

"that's as smooth as a clean chair"

My four-year-old son... the philosopher. He makes strangely obscure comments like that on a daily basis. Though I seem to never know exactly where they originate, I can't help but stand in wonder as the statements flow from his mouth and mind. Where will this train of thought take him; what dreams lay under the blanket with a middle-child-toddler actively seeking abstract thoughts? - DN

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Contradictions to Create Revisionist Landscape Art

It rained heavily yesterday afternoon, Samuel and I found ourselves trapped in the studio painting whilst the wind blew and the water fell from the sky. He spent the afternoon working back and forth between dabs of acrylic paint, watercolors and Play-Doh. Happily, I put the finishing touches on three small works; but given my tendency to prefer natural light for shooting images of my work… the weather was much too wild for me to photograph the paintings. So there are no images to share, today.

Over the past five years I have never been at a loss for painting ideas. I have always attributed the inspiration to my frequent travel habits; but how much of it really was associated with the unconscious developmental process of creating a unique stylistic approach to recreating the landscape? I am no longer a realist, therefore I’m not widely accepted in their circles. Yet, my undeniable representational painting subjects drive-away the traditional abstractionists, as well. I am by choice a painter, though I deeply admire the work of conceptual artist Andy Goldsworthy. I seem to live and paint as much for contradictions, as because of them. As I create and consider the methodology of my process, my mind questions the true nature of what I hope of accomplishing with these works. How much of my approach to painting is a random excuse to travel and embed myself across the American landscape and how much is a masterful decision to create a “revisionist landscape art movement”? – DN

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sam A Baker State Park

Goliath at the campsite

Samuel the snake charmer

My three on the trail with the naturalist

We spent the weekend at Sam A Baker State Park in the St. Francois Mountains of southeast Missouri, just north of the bootheel. Last night, I started two small paintings of the region including the St. Francois River and Big Creek. I chose to paint them in a smaller format, because the simple beauty of that place seems to occupy such a diminutive spot on the map.

Hopefully, I’ll have them completed and photographed in time for tomorrow’s blog posting. – DN

Friday, June 15, 2007

Women in Western Art Video

Ran across this video of “Women in Western Art” on YouTube and I found it quite amazing.

Click here to view…

There was a number of praising comments and a few idiots as well, but one statement really stuck with me- “They look beautiful but lonely, aren't they?”

Made me think about my own figurative paintings. – DN

Thursday, June 14, 2007

New Kiln ... for a painter

My newest acquisition... A $1300 kiln for $110... in perfect working condition... gotta love yard sales in the South. - DN

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Number 4: Map to Samuel's Robin's Egg

"Number 4: Map to Samuel's Robin's Egg", Sumi & Acrylic Inks & Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 24"x44"

Click the image to see a detailed view of the painting.

A good friend in Santa Fe was enamoured with birds and spent immense amounts of money on quality Nikon digital equipment and vacations with the sole purpose of documenting their flight. It never really occurred to me that he had to leave the desert in order to photograph his muse. We were living in a land with few examples of the familiar birds of my youth: Painted Buntings, Bluebirds, Cardinals, Hummingbirds, and Warblers and Doves. Looking back, my memory of New Mexico birds primarily involved watching Road Runners drift between vehicles in the mall parking lot.

One of the more amazing realizations discovered in my recent move was the manner in which my children share my love for the simplicity of trees with leaves. My daughter and youngest son enjoy the freedom of climbing. More than once I have whistled into the backyard for my daughter and from the mid-top of a tree halfway across the small pasture-like space heard a warble in return. However my middle child, Samuel, has become entranced with the lives of the birds he helps to feed around our home. High winds frequently accompany Missouri summer storms; and Samuel stays busy collecting and replacing fallen nests and eggs. It is quite beautiful to watch a rough and tumble four-year-old boy, whom is accustomed to torturing his pre-teen sister, tenderly take care of small creatures. – DN

Monday, June 11, 2007

Map to the Stinging Lizards

"Map to the Stinging Lizards", Sumi & Acrylic Inks & Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 14"x26"

Southwest Missouri is home to the Ozark Mountains and a culture that is more closely aligned to Appalachian than traditional Southern or Midwest society. In addition to the already strange mixture of wildlife that inhabits the mountains: black bears, cougars, crawfish and armadillos; the region is also rampant with scorpions. I first learned this many years ago, while preparing to fill a dry Jacuzzi at a B&B cottage overlooking Table Rock Lake. At the time, my wife was pregnant with our first child and nearly stepped on a cluster of the smallish arachnids in a moment she will never let me forget. She made a beeline to complain to the B&B host only to be rebuffed by the statement “their only stinging lizards, Hon”.

Our recent return excursions to the Ozarks have served as a reminder of the local dialectical eccentricities of all communities. The term “stinging lizard” in southwest Missouri applies to any creature that crawls and stings/bites; just as every flying insect in the southeast section of Missouri is classified as a “tree bug” (particularly if they end-up in your house, due to an open window or door).

Click the above image to see a more detailed view of the painting and its multiple layers. – DN

Friday, June 08, 2007


Click here to read the recent review of my latest New Mexico exhibit at Palette Contemporary in Albuquerque. - DN

Thursday, June 07, 2007


The daily lives of action painters inadvertently reflect their studio methodology. Painting purely on impulse requires a total commitment to the Zen-like release of the mind; if you create in that manner long enough… the time in the studio becomes a neo-reality that invades and eventually replaces the manner in which one approaches life in the outside world.

Sadly, I must admit that my ignorant teenage mind had little interest in any traditions or beliefs beyond the narrow scope of my own southern Missouri home. This place was somewhere to endure until the moment I could leave, with few concerns for reconciling the impact of its unique culture on the later years of my life.

It was my slowly acquired impulsive approach to living that allowed me to spend yesterday traveling the marshy bottomlands of the river’s northern delta. I bounced across gravel roads and blue highways (not listed in the online services of Google Maps or even Mapquest) intermingled between the towns of Caruthersville, Hayti, Dyersburg and New Madrid. Searching for that perfect taste of barbecue with slaw. Waiting for my moment to interact with locals.

I see this land much differently, now, than I did even ten years ago. Glancing out a car window while cruising across strips of highway connecting corn and cotton; I wonder at the white flowered fields still picked by hand. The people of the Mississippi Delta regularly contend with floods, tornadoes, immense poverty and a history steeped in longstanding traditions of racism. Suddenly, now, these residents are rarely far from my thoughts.

Occasionally, even I consider the moment of retirement; but in a manner different from most. I simply see retirement as the years spent creating the final paintings of a specific place. I argued, a few months ago, with my friend Hank regarding locations where we could retire our two families, together. I pushed for Alaska and the like… but he was adamant to return to a homestead within the Missouri Bootheel. I couldn’t quite grasp his desire to travel home. His declared love of this region puzzled me for some time until ultimately it became the leading influence in my recent urgency to explore the Southern states… and I’m better creatively, for returning here. – DN

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Following the Mississippi to Cottonwood Point

“Following the Mississippi to Cottonwood Point”, Sumi & Acrylic Inks & Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 13”x 48”, $600

The necessity of constant relocation is proven by the manner in which my work drastically adapts to each new region. I began the series of map paintings, in the last few months of my Santa Fe residency; however their true evolutionary style did not matriculate until jolted by the move east. Despite my own insular knowledge of my studio methods and inspiration, prior to the last relocation I questioned how long the map series would be able to continue… it had not occurred to me that the works would simply further abstract to harmonize with the region.

I’ve been infatuated with maps for longer than I can remember. Almost fourteen years ago, I first saw the lovely independent film, “Map of the Human Heart”. Though he was onscreen for only a brief moment, the “mapmaker” character played by John Cusack captivated me. The idea that a place is beyond simple landmarks and rock formations lends ones’ self to a new level of introspection that relies heavily upon recognition of the residents of the outlying community.

To me, Cottonwood Point is no more important as a destination than a random point along any route that I have traveled. It’s a place I passed as I followed the river along highway 164, boasting a few farms and homes. To others, though, it is a life I may never recognize. – DN

Monday, June 04, 2007

Lake Jumping in the Ozarks

"Lake Jumping in the Ozarks", Sumi & Acrylic Inks and Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 20"x30"

My parent’s Ozark Mountain cabin rests on the banks of Bull Shoals Lake in southwestern Missouri along the Arkansas border. In the mid-1950’s a series of Dams were constructed along the powerful White River. The man-made lakes created in the dams’ wake (Bull Shoals Lake, Table Rock Lake, Beaver Lake and Lake Taneycomo), immediately developed into a major tourist destination for residents of the Southern and Midwest states. - DN

Friday, June 01, 2007

Delta Bottoms

"Delta Bottoms", Sumi & Acrylic Inks & Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 14"x24"

Neighbored with nearby Crowley’s Ridge, the bootheel region of Missouri is primarily filled-in marsh surrounding the Mississippi River. Some scientists consider Crowley’s Ridge a former island between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers; while other researchers believe the strange 500 ft rise in the river lowlands is a result of the New Madrid Seismic Fault Zone. Personally, I’ve only been concerned with scouting the length of these rolling hills for the best topographic view of the northern-most end of the Mississippi Delta.

When the annual summer floods are held-back, the richness of this region’s farmland is unmatched in the Midwest. Maybe that is why the residents ignore national ridicule when they refuse the regular buy-out options of the federal government. – DN