Robot Invasion! Painting Series – Episode 1: Gear Logic Blueprints

robotposterThe Robot Invasion was a series of painting exhibitions that took place in Winston-Salem, NC, Queens, NY, and Chapel Hill, NC from 2004-2007. Each show was composed of about twenty paintings of vintage toy robots along with a few others thrown in for variety that generally still worked with the theme.

Shortly after becoming a super fan of Robert Anton Wilson, I found a book that Wilson wrote the preface to, called “Angel Tech” written by Antero Alli. In the book, Alli used robots as a metaphor to illustrate how the mind can be changed and reprogrammed at will. This book found it’s way to me at a crucial time; a time/place that Wilson referred to in Prometheus Rising as “Chapel Perilous.” Astrologically speaking, it was a time that I would later come to recognize as my Saturn Return.

All at once, I was unexpectedly laid off from my job, girlfriend dumped me, and I found refuge in a small apartment downtown. A string of disastrous “firsts” happened to me all at once and I was alone, angry, confused, and hurt. During this time, I felt I had to switch to crisis mode to do all the things that had to be done, like finding an apartment, filing for unemployment and looking for new work. In the process, I put painting on the back burner for a while. It was sadder still for me to realize that I’d already had painting back-burnered for several years. If there was a stove with three rows of burners on it, painting would have been on the extreme back row.

Through the process of filing for unemployment and updating my resumé, I began soul-searching and thinking about the some of the larger questions in life (you know the ones). I didn’t necessarily come up with any answers, but made the decision that “I am an artist and I should be painting.”

The vast majority of the chasm between “putting painting on the back burner” and starting to paint again had been filled with the renewed enthusiasm and zeal for getting back to work on paintings, but I still had to decide what I would paint. Deciding on a subject allowed me to focus on the act of painting and explore techniques more freely. I chose to paint robots, continuing with the metaphors I read about in “Angel Tech,” and also in appreciation for this and other books that had inspired me to begin work on myself. Finally, I found myself in a head space where I could relax, and I began to work on paintings again.


Abstract Photography

One of my favorite things to do is walk around and take photos of unusual textures or other features that catch my eye. As a supplement to my graphic design and commercial art education, I studied photography and received certification in proficiency with 35mm manual cameras, 4×5″ large format studio cameras, film developing, and darkroom procedures. Photography is a great design tool to capture textures, patterns, and to get reference material for painting and design projects.


Parallax Apparel

Working at a t-shirt shop, I see a lot of people come in with big ideas for their brand new apparel lines. It’s inspiring to see people walk in with an idea and walk out with box of shirts, headed for a clothing swap, retail store or other sort of outlet. I decided to try my hand at designing and building a brand to get a feel for the process and how much work goes into it.

My idea was to create a brand based on my interests in hopes of finding a network of like-minded people. I like to think, hike, and take pictures. I’d like to see a wave of intellectual, compassionate, positive ideas sweep the globe. After thinking about it for a while, I chose to go with “Parallax.” I like how the word looks and sounds and what it means. Parallax is the apparent change in an object when viewed from different angles. I liked how the concept involved vision, perspective, geometry, and was a good philosophical idea, metaphorically. I related the concept of parallax to how seers, seekers, shamans and wizards of days gone by would go to mountaintops to have enlightening experiences and then come back down from the mountain invigorated, returning with new perspectives on solving problems the village may have had. Their literal change in perspective had provided them a metaphorical change as well. Their altitude/attitude continuum had been engaged.

Further research led me to look at how people market their apparel to an audience. I set up a whole social media campaign (twitter, facebook, tumblr, etc.) and website for Parallax Apparel. I made a list of markets that basically boiled down to people like myself: intellectual nerds with an appreciation for mystical experiences and hiking. No laughing! Whatever… at least I’m doing something! What’s your idea?

Parallax Apparel was an exercise in doing! In that way, at least, it was a success. I can easily ruminate over things for decades and never get to the actual action. I’ve adopted the habit of taking action to push through my tendency to overthink. I like to jump in and fail rather than not try. Yoda said, “Do or do not; there is no try. ” Maybe I’m just being a sith, but I think there’s a lot of useful knowledge to be learned by trying and failing. Full disclosure: I try not to take motivational cues from a 38 year old movie series. Also, I really hope I’m not a sith.

I finally drew a few conclusions: 1.) building and promoting an apparel line is a full-time job in itself if you really expect to succeed. 2.) there’s a very small margin for success, 3.) there’s massive amounts of competition, and 4.) developing a widely appealing brand is kind of like making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.

I haven’t given up on Parallax Apparel, but for now this project is back-burnered and I’d rather spend time on other projects. It was an enlightening, humbling experience to put my idea out there and see how tiny it is in the sea of ideas we all get bombarded with in a given day. I still have a full box full of unsold shirts from sizes L-2XL if anybody believes in the dream!


Meditations on Candle Light

This series of paintings was based on meditations on candle light. I painted them during a particularly dark time in my life; I had absorbed massive amounts of negative energy from multiple sources and needed to metabolize it in solitude. I decided to paint myself out of the darkness using elements that some early surrealist painters used to illustrate light sources; design elements like directional rays, points, and areas of concentrated brush strokes.


Scientific Pomeranian Gear at the Parallax Arts Gift Shop

Now available in the Parallax Arts Gift Shop! T-shirts, mugs, pint glasses, stickers, and tote bags sporting the Scientific Pomeranian! It’s a doggie headset connected to a body mounted speaker for bigger barks …the perfect combination of lovable fluffiness and high technology.


Triad Horticulture Club Signage

I had the pleasure of making this rustic signage for my friends at Triad Horticulture Club in early 2015. The client and I both liked the idea of using materials from the surrounding area, so the sign was made mostly with pallet wood collected from the grounds around the business. I built the main frame for the sign out of purchased, pressure-treated wood for factor-of-safety and wind shear concerns. The face of the sign was made with pallet wood, which is expected to weather and fade over time for added effect. I managed to document the project from concept artwork to finished sign.



Four Seasons Poplar Tree Dining Room Table

This was a fun commissioned painting I worked on in 2011. It was a dining room table that initially seemed a little plain for the artistic atmosphere of the rest of the house, so the client asked me to illustrate poplar branches and leaves as they change through the course of the four seasons. We decided to put fall on one end and summer on the other end. After some initial research on the leaves and changes over the seasons, I drew a basic plan and painted it with watercolors to show the proposed colors. After a few measurements, I made an actual-size transfer at home so the family could continue using their dining room table during most of the process. This step turned out to save a lot of time and made it easier for our mutually busy schedules to mesh better. This project took about 10 hours over the course of about two weeks, a couple hours per evening.

Ceiling Sky Murals at Mary’s Gourmet Diner

I was honored to paint sky murals on the ceilings at Mary’s Gourmet Diner on Trade Street, in Winston-Salem, NC. Appropriate, since I usually have my head in the clouds or I’m spaced out. Here are some photos I took before, during, and after painting. Mary is celebrating her 15 Year Anniversary this month, so this post is to commemorate the event and celebrate her continued contribution to our thriving downtown arts community.

Ceiling Sky Murals at Mary’s Gourmet Diner

(links to my flickr album)