Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Nani Mari

Choosing to be a painter could have been titled "the analogue way" or "I prefer to work with my hands".  It was a conversion, a leap.  And it happened while I was in Hungary.  


You could say that Hungary and I are now forever connected.  My family and I are freshly back from visiting, and I'm already planning our 2019 autumn trip.


Twenty years ago I 
hotmailed my friends that I was going off the grid, leaving the city of Budapest where I'd been for a few years to then reside in Transdanubia (western Hungary).  Spent most of the warm months 2001-02 working on (mostly not working on) this old house that I purchased because of the way it opens toward the south, or as I liked to think, toward the mediterranean 200 miles away.  The folks around the village knew it as the Nani Mari House (Aunt Marie).  Who was the real Nani Mari and what was she like, I'm not sure, but who was I to call her house something else?


Twenty years ago the cute little nascent internet repelled me.  I was high on feeling far and distant, hard to reach.  I'd pass the village payphone at the end of the street and my neighbor had a donkey.  Water came from the well in a bucket.  It was 2001.  My idea of the future still meant bad reception.  Connectedness was picking up an old friend at the nearby train depot.


Then about twelve years ago, from Texas and out of anxiety that Nani Mari might collapse from neglect, I began managing the renovation of Nani Mari remotely, as in via my smart phone.  My distant and romantic edge-of-the-earth getaway was getting bathroom tile, and I was emailing my contractor about our choice of grout.  Under the Tuscan Sun, but from my macbook.


I paint portraits of my two children at the dining table as they play cards.  Andi is cooking something with paprika in a pan on a gas stove behind me.  More alive than I'd ever imagined, Nani Mari saw me through my twenties and into my forties and is one of the closest things to pure dream fulfillment I've ever experienced.  






Monday, December 17, 2018

secondary

Secondary thoughts.  Secondary colors created by mixing.  
Secondary subject.  Yes, this too.


The optometrist told me that my retinopathy would go away.  He said it is common in alpha types under stress, a theory of sorts which we discussed for a bit.  I then scheduled a return visit so he could once again blast a beam of light into my eyeball and take more photos.


I've paid attention to the distorted vision in my left eye.  Minor but present in everything before me.  In some ways I've tried to relax my way of seeing.  Don't look around too hard.  Look, but then close your eyes and keep them closed.  


There are owls in my pecan trees.  I know this because I hear them and then occasionally I find them.  I confirm sightings with my neighbor Roger who walks his dogs everyday and studies the birds more than anyone I've ever known well.  When we encounter one another we don't have to talk about ourselves at all.  Just the birds that we've seen or heard, comparing notes.  

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Open the heart Studio


Each morning my son opens the back door and sticks his arm out and moves it around stirring the air.  This is his way of determining the temperature of the day ahead, to decide what clothing to put on, if it'll be pants or shorts, short sleeves or long.


He sits at the table with his backpack and lunchbox, dressed and ready to leave but with 10 or 15 minutes to spare.  He might reach for a smartphone or he might sit and stare.  In such a gap in his schedule he chooses rest.  For a kid in middle school his life might seem to be a series of assignments.  It's a track that adults often advise him and others his age to stay on.


I watch this boy closely as if I'm watching myself.  And before I criticize him (or overly praise him for life's simple mundane requirements like "great job brushing your teeth!") I remind myself of my own tendencies to daydream and to relax, or of how uncurious I too can be before  great statues of knowledge.  Relax, Dad.


This Saturday, November 10th, from 10am - 6pm I'll be hosting an Open Studio.  Yes, it coincides with EAST (East Austin Studio Tour), but Lockhart is really just far-east Austin.  


Hoping clients can move in by Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

kanye

Every few months I meet a good friend for lunch at the same local restaurant.  One reason we are such good friends is that we both find, among many things, this restaurant to be exceptional in how unremarkable it is.  We seem to sigh in relief during our hour long meal.


 We exchanged some laughs about recent events and, like we usually do, we shared thoughts about books we've been reading, and not just the books themselves but the meandering pathways that these books must take through friends and acquaintances to reach the both of us.  And from the table beside us a fella joined in on our conversation, not in sync with our topic, but rather something unrelated, which mattered in no way at all in such an informal setting. 


I motioned my friend to a television anchored high where the wall meets the suspended ceiling.  Kanye West's voice echoed throughout the restaurant, and fellow diners' turned their heads and attention with near neck strain toward the pop star's message on national news from the oval office.


After lunch we drove off in opposing directions, my friend toward his secluded house in a patch of woods, while I turned five or six short blocks and reached my home in the middle of town.


When I enter my house I greet our two dogs and free them to the backyard.  I enter my office where I keep my laptop and write this blog entry and realize I have a couple hours until I have to pick up my daughter from school.  


There are many tasks I have before me during the next several months that involve other people's buildings, event spaces, portraits, etc.  I carve out spaces between these assignments to paint what to me feels unassigned and purposeless.  Like land whose soil is restored by the planting of prairie grasses.


Friday, September 7, 2018

salinity

"What's a query?", my daughter asked, really wanting to know about quarries.  We'd been told by the kiddie train engineer that the Japanese tea garden is on our left, and that the Alamo had been built using the very rock beneath.


A word is said, and quite often my daughter wishes immediately, sometimes before the sentence is finished, to know its meaning.


I have my whole life thought about the salt in the ocean and how strange it is that it is there.  On a few occasions, I have asked certain folks to ponder this with me, perhaps even answer it for me.


Nobody has.  And if by chance you know, in simplistic terms, please do not tell me. 


 The 12/12 house is being painted on the inside.  And within a couple more months its owners will be moving in and bringing it to life.

Friday, August 3, 2018

august

I borrowed a friend's guidebook about Mexico City.  It had notes in the margins and pages earmarked.  Key sites and locations.  We ended up visiting a few of her suggestions.  But what I enjoyed most were the colors and shapes.  Concrete on the tops of houses.  No asphalt shingles.  


Back home I return to an assignment of Boston.


As well as the 12/12 design/build.  Sheetrocking on Tuesday.  


A recently commissioned portrait of an old friend's parents.


Next sale for my prints at SkyLine Art Editions:

Back to School Sale:  8/30/18 - 9/3/18
25% off Everything Site Wide
Discount Code:  DORM25

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

intransitive

I'm corrected much of the time.  It is an open door that feels wedged open.  My daughter is keenly aware of this, like an invitation, and she corrects me whenever she can.  


"You are not done", she says.  "A turkey is done.  Rather, you are finished."


My son and daughter draw at a small desk while I paint at my wall.  They hunker over their notebooks and fight over the electric eraser while I scrape my palette knives.  I grunt a lot and constantly remind them both that I am ok.  I'm racing not to be finished but to express something hurried.  I take long pauses.  Then I race again.  My kids enjoy this display and must have some opinion, I'm sure.


To offset my intransitive nature, I am contracting the construction of a new house that I've designed over the course of the last year or more.  Walls are going up right now.  I will post photos at the bottom of each blog post.