A Survey of My Development as an Artist, Part 3 (Post Academic Practice to Present)

In Part 2, we explored the development and trends of my work from its early emergent period through Grad School.  In this article, I Intend to illustrate the post academic period to roughly the present.

The few years after graduation, I proceeded to integrate and refine the practices and tenets from the academy within new works.  But first, I felt the need for a purge, allowing myself to engage in a more unrestrained process.  Thus, one of the first images produced was “Auto-Erotic Sphinx with Toys”.

“Auto-Erotic Sphinx with Toys”, Oil Paint on Canvas, 30″ x 24″, 2013

The resulting imagery was an amalgam of playful and provocative coming-of-age symbols, both personal and from pop culture.  Syncopated throughout the timeline of my works is always a return to the inner child.  The function of these kinds of images, unlike my early emergent works, is less “psychic surgery”, as I’d described in my first article, wherein I was working to resolve psychological relationships or conditions; but more an expression from a mind that has since resolved those psychological equations, and retrospects much like an archivist.

As I’d written elsewhere on blogs, “My attempt was to build a Magnum Opus dedicated to the scope of coming of age, sensitive to the context of that time, and in doing so satiate the former gap between feeling and expressing.”

“Auto-Erotic Sphinx” amounts to a prototype toward that pursuit.

Satisfied with being able to play a bit, I was eager to use my academic influences toward a new portrait piece.  Once again approaching the image from the “Jataka Tales of a Budgie-Sattva” narrative detailed in article 2, I created “Phra Nang Farang”.

“Phra Nang Farang”, Oil on Canvas, 20″ x 24″, 2014

“Phra Nang” is a reference to a southern region of Thailand known for its lush islands and soft sands.  “Farang” is the Thai word for foreigner.  When I made this work, it had been seven years since my initial experience in Southeast Asia.  I found my spirit pulled once again toward Thailand.  The variety of impressions from my time there came to the surface.  It was a respite in a sense, as I was living land-locked in Wichita, Kansas.

The boy in the image is enjoying an indulgence of popsicle, sun, and warm tropical waters.  The budgies of my narrative morphed into jungle islands in the background.  Careful consideration went into the composition from its inception.  Color temperature also was a focus to give more realism to the figure within its environment.

The background islands were demarcated from the beginning, but allowed some creative license to become island/budgie hybrids.  The beach ball served as a mid ground device for the movement of the eye, a device for balancing color composition, and as a symbol of the general narrative of the piece.  As with most of my academic works, there was greater utility in each component, and a more liberal use of empty space.

At this point, having created “Auto-Erotic Sphinx” which had very little academic consideration, and then “Phra Nang Farang”, which was created from  an academic frame, I began to blend those two extremes.

Two new works were created from this approach in 2014 and 2015, “Fuku-Shiva”, and “Scion of a Budgie-Sattva”.

“Fuku-Shiva”, Oil on Canvas, 24″ x 20″, 2014

“Fuku-Shiva” entertained strong figurative elements juxtaposed against old-school emergent psychological imagery, all of which were set in a tropical environment.  At this stage I was really beginning to feel a yearning for Thailand; many of the sensations bubbled up again in this image.

“Fuku-Shiva” was in essence the result if “Auto-Erotic Sphinx” and “Phra Nang Farang” had a kid.  The pop culture symbolism and emergent forms akin to “Sphinx”, such as the Pokemon hat reference and the colorful psychedelic creature on the left side of the frame, were married to objective representation and environs related to “Phra Nang Farang”, such as the beach ball, beach, and human figures.  The rocket powered paper airplane was a particularly fun innovation in the work.

Note: the inclusion of the “grey” alien symbolism, which is a distinct trend/theme in my life and work.

“Scion of a Budgie-Sattva” (below), also included alien symbolism, but was of a generally different psychological scope, being one of a series of portraits of my fiance over the years:

“Scion of a Budgie-Sattva”, Oil on canvas, 36″ x 24″, 2015

In “Scion”, the aliens are presented on the upper left hand side, forming a morphing diagonal.    This work features my partner as a portrait reference, and was the last painting I’d created before venturing with him out of the U.S. to explore and live in Southeast Asia.

I had created a number of paintings of him almost a decade prior.  This was the most recent and mature rendition.  It also fit into the “Budgie-Sattva” narrative, despite there being no budgies in the piece.  As the work was in reference to another autonomous person, its considerations were less introspective than my typical art.  Imagery was that of our shared experiences.

It would not be surprising if in the future I build another portrait of my fiance, though at present there is only “Scion”, and two previous paintings seen below:

“The Approach of a Great Threshold”, Oil on Canvas, 60″ x 30″, 2007

Communion

“Communion”, Oil on Canvas, 30″ x 24″, 2005

In 2015, he and I flew to Thailand on multiple entry visas.  The visa requirement gave us 3 entries at 90 days each.  We used Airbnb for much of that period, and in between our Thai entries, we traveled throughout the region; living in Vietnam, Cambodia, and touring through Laos, Singapore, and Sydney, Australia.

Each time we returned to Thailand, we lived in a different region, including Bangkok (central), Chiang Mai (north), and Koh Samui (an island in the south).  Less frequently we’d also stay in Japan, and once in Cancun, as we made our way back to the U.S. for visits.

Due to the nature of this travel, my studio had to be portable.  Canvases would be much smaller, as would be easels. Everything had to fit in two suitcases in addition to clothes and other items.  Below are a few examples of my studio spaces during that time (in no particular order).

Bangkok Condo Studio Space, Thailand (2016)

We lived in a few different places in Bangkok, utilizing tables as studio/work platforms.  As you can see in the image my palette is a hard plastic clipboard with plastic inserts.  I still utilize this commonly as it is highly durable and transportable.  The painting I was working on was “Inner-Space Invader”:

“Inner-Space Invader”, Oil on Canvas, 30 cm x 40 cm (approx. 12″ x 16″), 2016

You can click here for a more in-depth article I’ve written about the making of this painting.

At this stage I largely abandoned portraiture or highly figurative works, as I prefer to use medium to large size canvases for those kinds of projects.  The work therefore became somewhat more random and emergent.

 

Koh Samui Balcony Studio, Thailand (2015)

The island of Samui offered a nice balcony which I was often able to use for painting in natural light against a jungle background.  It was here that I created “The Moth Catcher”:

“The Moth Catcher”, Oil on Canvas, 30 cm x 40 cm (approx. 12″ x 16″), 2015

As you may note again I was working in the 30cm x 40cm footprint.  The works were definitely influenced by their environments on a corporeal level, although I could not accurately predict where it would end up once I began.  Being in the jungle, at one point “Moth Catcher” had begun to exhibit snake skin on its throat, which I felt was an association to jungle serpents.  The snake that kept popping to mind was viper.

At this stage for some reason the painting “told” me that it was a jinn spirit.  In fact at that time I’d assumed it would probably have jinn in its title.   That made me curious, and upon researching jinn, unsurprisingly, I found out that serpents were often associated with those beings.  Eventually the snake skin gave way to a more flowery manifestation, but the root of that manifest was built from jinn underpinnings.

I continued to essentially broadcast mental antennae to try and receive whatever was “in the air” at the time, at the various locations we lived in for 60 or 90 days at a stretch.

Kobe, Japan Apartment Kitchen/Studio (2016)

In Japan this resulted in a small painting with a bizarre narrative.  As you can see above (as is the reputation) our Japanese apartment was super tiny.  I had to set up a lamp and reflective umbrella on the stove behind my easel, for light.  Despite feeling a bit stir crazy in such a small space with opaque windows, we did enjoy our time quite a bit in the quaint Kobe neighborhood.

Perhaps the cramped feeling led to the equally cramped vignette, “Mr. Crazy Bones Encounters Ms. Alien Head”:

“Mr. Crazy Bones Encounters Ms. Alien Head”, Oil on Canvas, 30 cm x 40 cm (approx. 12″ x 16″), 2016

If you’d like a more in-depth view of the creation of this painting, click here.

You’ll notice that the Mr. Crazy Bones figure on the right side is holding a Pokéball.  This was a direct influence from the game Pokémon Go which had just come out in Japan during our stay.  We had fun hunting Pokemon at 4 a.m. around our serene and quiet Japanese neighborhood.  The activity was also very popular with our neighbors, and gave us a mutual point of conversation despite the language barrier.

After having such a great time in Japan, we traveled to Cancun.  Despite some truly interesting moments drinking fine Anejo Tequila under the bright light of a massive shooting star, which lit up the entire sky, or witnessing the most vivid rainbow in my life, the living space was ultimately terrible, and we fled earlier than planned.  It was perhaps the worst Airbnb stay we’d ever had; roach infested and poorly managed–not to mention workers banging directly on our walls with hammers daily as they tore apart the building.   Nonetheless, during the day our view of the beach was wonderful, as was the sea breeze.

Cancun Studio Space, Mexico (2016)

The work in process in the photo above is of “The Lovers” painting:

“The Lovers”, Oil on Canvas, 40cm x 30cm (Approx. 12″ x 16″), 2016

Unlike the previous images, “The Lovers” was built in participation with the Hive Gallery & Studios Tarot 8 Show of early 2017.  The long tongue of the rabbit in this image is part of a more systemic trend in my works, which I may cover in depth in another article at a later date.

There was one other painting in the 30cm x 40cm size, which I’d worked on earlier while living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in a dark poorly lit apartment:

“Dionysus”Oil on Canvas, 30 cm x 40 cm (approx. 12″ x 16″), 2015

A more in depth article on the creation of “Dionysus” can be viewed here.

I also highly recommend you check out my Instagram Post, which digs deep into the underlying psychology of this piece with a visual presentation.

In 2017, we spent about six months in the U.S. visiting family and doing a little traveling in and around Colorado.  This was one of the least conducive art periods, as I had virtually no studio space, nor the proper time to spend.  I did squeeze out a tiny budgie, though, to add to my “Jataka Tales” narrative.  A little cannabis themed work:

“Budgie-Sativa”, Oil Paint on Canvas, 8″ x 10″, 2017

Much of 2017 was spent in obtaining a better long term visa for Thailand.  Once obtained, we returned, and this time our entries were for a year each, instead of 90 days.  This allowed us to move away from Airbnb travel and sign longer term leases with Thai landlords.  We spent 2018 in Bangkok, and I was able once more to work on a larger canvas.

It was at this point I began the long journey of creating “Alex in Wonderland”, which to date is the most complete Magnum Opus to an emergent old school Cody style of art:

“Alex in Wonderland”, Oil Paint on Canvas, 60cm x 80cm (approx. 24” x 32”), 2018

I recently created a very complete step by step article on the creation of “Alex in Wonderland” which can be read here.

The following year we moved to Hua Hin, Thailand, to once more enjoy a coastal view away from a dense urban environment.  I went to work on a commissioned piece, which I finished in 2019, titled “The Dreamer”:

“The Dreamer”, Oil Paint on Canvas, 40cm x 60cm (approx. 16” x 24”), 2019

The making of “The Dreamer” can be viewed here.

As it turns out, this painting, despite being a commission, perfectly suited the “Jataka Tales” narrative of my other works, and to date is the latest in that series.  Although I have created numerous works as participation in various gallery events, it is more rare that I accept commissions, making this latest image virtually one of a kind as a member of my oeuvre.

At present I am delving again into a quasi-figurative territory, akin to “Fuku-Shiva”.  Having built a gaming pc rig once we settled into Hua Hin, I am experiencing once more an incursion of pop culture within my psyche.   Gamer iconography has already nested into the mix.

A sneak peak of my current work in progress:

Title to be Announced (detail image) , Oil Paint on Canvas, 40cm x 60cm (approx. 16” x 24”), 2020

In the near future, I intend to delve into a form of still life imagery, which may lend itself toward a distinctly new body of work.

 


 

And with that, we’re all caught up and our survey is complete!

Thanks again for all my patrons, and all the interested folks who follow these creative attempts.

Stay tuned for new works, hopefully soon!

 

 

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