I think this is how this thing works...

Well, here are my first three forays back into painting. The two rectangles are 4x6, the square is 5x5. Despite their small sizes I used mostly medium and large brushes. I need more practice to justify my tiny brushes.

The first two are out of my head, memories of trips west. The square one is based on a picture of Zion National Park.

And it's really hard to take good photos of paintings. I used to just scan smaller painting right on the scanner. I'll have to do that with these.


Hello, old friend

Well, I finally did it. I've started painting again. I think it's been about 12 years since put brush to canvas. I have wanted to get back to painting for a long time. The thing about visual art for me though, is I'm better at it when I have an assignment. I did a lot of work in high school that I still like and they were assignments. I did a few paintings in college for fun. After that, almost all my art has been for bands, my own and others. I have been sketching regularly, but no painting. Well, I've given myself an assignment that I'm not revealing yet, but I've started.

And yes, that is a drink mixer set in the background I'm keeping my brushes and cleaning water in. I was looking for something to put them in and I thought it would be funny (for those that don't know, I don't drink). I don't know what I'll do with the shot glass yet. 


Internal Processing Systems or The Three Amigos - Westward Ho!

The average human has 3 decision making modes. I'm talking in the philosophical sense. All thinking actually happens in the brain, little neurons firing away. But I divide this thinking into 3 categories. The Brain, The Heart, and The Gut. The Genitals don't count because they can only think one thing. That doesn't count as making a decision.

The Brain - Logic, rational thought, deep processing. The brain is where information is processed and sorted. Choices can be held at arms length. If you need to remove your emotions from a choice, the brain is the tool to use. Very much like a computer, the brain is good at sorting all the shades of grey in the world and getting to the core of a problem. The brain is your defense against a world that wants to take advantage of you. The brain can think itself in circles with all the possible outcomes until we freeze and can't make a choice. The brain can over think, leading to incorrect conclusions. The brain learns and stores skills so you can actually do more with your life than breathe, eat, shit, and mate. The brain dreams when you sleep, sometimes just for entertainment, sometimes to continue processing information. The brain always wants more information and this is one thing that drives our need for discovery and our desire to understand. Unfortunately too many people have figured out ways to turn their brains off. And sometimes the logical choice isn't what we want and isn't what we need. We are human after all.

The Heart - Emotion, feelings, desires and wants. The heart is the opposite of the brain. Love lives in the heart. But, like a hummingbird, the heart can flit from one thing to another, one feeling to another, without realizing the consequences or seeing the long term effects. The heart has a long memory when hurt but a very short one when presented with something it wants. The heart wants love but never considers that love can hurt as much as it heals. That love can change. That once you find what your heart yearns for, you might not want it, or it might not want you. The heart clouds the brain so that you see what you want and you avoid conflict. It can get so wrapped up in what other people want, thinking that's how to get what it wants, that you begin to lose yourself. The heart, though, attaches you to people important to you. It makes you loyal and allows you to trust people so that you aren't lonely. Despite the heart's vulnerability, most people still find it worth while to expose themselves to the danger because love, friendship, and trust are ultimately so rewarding. Everyone has heart but sometimes they shut it out and forget what makes their heart feel good. Sometimes they get hurt so bad they wall off their heart so no one gets through. It's hard to realize that just makes things worse. The heart can get stuck lamenting what it has lost. But if you listen, the heart is also the place where you are reminded how much you loved your first box of crayons, and there was a time when you thought being an astronaut lion tamer was a perfectly reasonable career (were you the astronaut, or was it the lions?).

The Gut - When the brain says "bzzprf...does not compute...grhhbzz...error..." and the heart says "Wah wah woe is me I'm so emo" the gut is there to dope slap the other two. The gut will say "get up off the floor and get on with it!" The best time to do something is always now. The gut is instinct shaped by experience. The gut quiets fear, musters will, and does. This paragraph is short because the gut doesn't talk much and can't waste time with words. Kinda like Chuck Norris.

What does this have to do with me, now? After many years of listening to my brain and heart fight, I have finally listened to my gut. Could I have heard it sooner? Maybe, but like I said, the gut relies on experience. It can take time to get the experience you need. Now I've listened and my gut said, "This is your compass. It points west. Move to Colorado. Even the few things left in Wisconsin that are good can't give you the long term happiness you need. It's time to go."

So, dear friends, I will be moving to the Denver area in summer of 2010. The plan as it stands now is to go find a place to live in March or April and move in June or July. There are many details to finalize but my gut keeps reminding me "don't think, don't feel. It's time to do."



The future you were waiting for has already happened (Part 1)

When I joined Strange Land 11 years ago, the music industry still worked the way it had, at least during the history of rock music. Ever since I had picked up the guitar the dream was to write and record some songs, build a fan base, get discovered, signed, rich, and famous. Pretty early on I figured out the rich and famous part was unlikely, and that is was more important (for me anyway) to be true to my artistic vision. I'm sure I could have done something more commercial with the intent to make money but I never would have been happy.

In 1999 we released our first 4 song ep. I found this new thing called mp3.com and uploaded music to it. We did pretty well, with our song Foundation reaching number 4 in their prog chart. Now, imagine how long ago that was. I was using dial-up. If you could shell out for it and you didn't live out in the country (like I did) you could get a DSL. I was recording the band on my Powermac G3, recording to a whopping 10 gig external SCSI hard drive (Tech aside: My choice of backup back then was a SCSI DVD-RW drive that used 
cartidge-loaded dvds. I still have it, and the G3 - with a G4 chip - but I haven't powered them up in years). I didn't even have a real audio interface, I recorded into the computer via the stereo line in. If I remember right we recorded drums and bass at the same time. The drums were mixed at the board and tracked in mono. What was I thinking?! But it worked and it was a good start. Hell, I released my first acoustic album in 1999 on cd and tape.

Still, the 'make an album-build local fan base-play shows-get signed' model was still the norm. It was pretty much an all-or-nothing idea. You either broke big, even for a short while, or you languished in obscurity and faded away. MP3.com and other early online avenues were just a little extra, a new way for indie bands to reach people but not to break out big. All the mp3s were 128k bitrate, I can't recall if you could do any better. By the time we released Anomaly in 2001, CD Baby had been established and it was a great way for indie bands to sell cds. Napster was around 1999-2001 (before its shut down and subsequent resurrection) but I never saw the point in using my dial-up connection to download crappy sounding mp3s from really popular bands I didn't like. Whatever you think of the fallout from Napster and all the lawsuits, the period of the late 90's and early 00's marked the beginning of the end of the industry as I knew it. Cable internet and faster DSL use spread. Some indie musicians figured out the best ways to capitalize on this but as far as I can tell most of us were still thinking of the internet as an add-on to the old ways of doing business. The internet was like TV. Consumption was passive. There wasn't even much real advertising then. You just put your web site up and hoped people would find you. And they did. But that was about it. I think in 2001 we were only slightly more likely to get an email from a fan than a phone call or a letter.

The INDUSTRY (worthy of all caps here) was already jumping all over this, like they do with any new technology. (sarcasm) Like the good gatekeepers they are, they stepped into the hero role once again to defend helpless but creative bands, gullible but well-meaning consumers, and the thousands of people whose jobs were at stake from the record producer to the guy sweeping the studio floor (/sarcasm). First recordable cassettes would doom the industry. Then it was recordable cds. Then mp3s and file sharing. It never occurred to them to examine the way they were doing business. Were they releasing good music? No, they stumbled on Nirvana and then signed every other band in Seattle that wore flannel shirts. Somebody manufactured a hit with Brittany Spears so they went out and signed every young woman they could doll up like an All-American Lolita. Did they think that maybe $15 or more wasn't a good price for a cd? No. (Food for thought: a mass produced cd costs $2 or less to make. Most major label deals pay less than $1 to the artist after recouping costs. Where is the rest of this money going?). So they drag their heels, kick up a fuss, and blame everybody else for their perceived woes. The truth is, the music biz was still doing pretty good in the early 2000's. But, the music biz emperor had no clothes. Instead of trying to figure out how to use new technology to their advantage, they tried to kill it. And then came myspace. And iTunes. And Rhapsody. And bit torrents. And Facebook.

(to be continued)