I got drunk last Sunday night after learning that my friend passed away. I spent most of the week processing her loss with friends and without alcohol after Sunday. It’s been a long shitty week.
In the background, I’ve been working on a large commission order. My mind has been with Kristen all week aside from that. I saw her five days before she passed away. She seemed like she was doing better. She’s been struggling for the five years since I met her at the Minturn Shop & Hop gas station. I’ll never forget that first encounter. She tried to trade me her Subaru for my Land Rover.
A lot of my friends struggle with alcoholism and addiction. I struggle with alcoholism and addiction.
This blog is a place where I hold myself accountable for my drinking. It helps.
I went to Intersect (Art Aspen) on Tuesday. My annual trip over Independence Pass for the art fair has become a ritual. Most of the people in the room didn’t acknowledge my existence. A few gallerists engaged me briefly, and one woman I have met at these shows in the past actually gave me the time of day. I sent her a message after my drive home to thank her for her kindness. Hopefully we are able to work together in the future.
Instead of ruminating on how these encounters make me feel in the moment, I try to remember these experiences and apply them to how I interact with others. I do my best to show kindness in all my on goings but sometimes I’m not successful.
But the entire drive home from Aspen, I was inspired with a new thought. For context it is important to note that I had spent the day looking at some paintings priced at six figures that boasted middle school level technique and skill.
Glass is a very technical medium. My relationship to glass is a relationship to the concept of perfection. Glass has very little forgiveness as a material, and at any point could break during the process of creation or as a finished product. It’s a hard medium to just play around with due to the high overhead of tools and materials. When I am creating glass art there is nothing else. Just me and the piece in the present.
Music was always a bit more playful for me, but still without a technical understanding of the instruments and music theory, a person is limited there.
I came home from Aspen feeling pretty beaten down from another day of rejection on top of mourning the loss of my friend Kristen. I was inspired to paint. I never paint, and have no formal training. I’ve always felt like I was exceptionally bad at drawing, and also didn’t practice that much. I have a series of abstract self portraits I have done over the years as an exercise but I can’t imagine there are more than ten or fifteen of those.
So when I got back to the studio I grabbed a canvas, a pencil, a sharpie, and some orange acrylic paint. In the car I conceived a new series for me to play with titled “The Muses” in which I’ll explore my relationships to the muses in my life on canvas.
The concept unraveled in my mind all afternoon until that night I began sketching on canvas for probably the first time in my life. I chose a first subject, and came up with symbols that represent the relationship to me. I decided each of the pieces of this series will feature eyes, to have a consistent motif behind the work. This also gives me something to practice with some repetition while others are more spontaneous.
I’m working on accepting imperfections in my life. One of the freedoms painting affords me is the inhibition from fear of failure. This plays a major role in my life.
So I found some reference photos on my phone and rolled some joints. I started sketching first the eyes, then the fox, and lastly the violin. My eyes were good enough to be recognized as eyes. The fox looks more like a lion or a dog. The violin looked like a cello. I added some layers of detail and got the cello to look more like a violin. The eyes came to life. The fox is still not very foxy, but the title “The Violinist and The Fox” should clear that up, and I’m working on accepting imperfections. So I outlined my forms with a black sharpie. The eyes went great. The Violin just as good. The fox is not on the same level and that is ok. I remind myself that it’s my first painting. I wrote some words that felt important to include in the painting.
I tried to open the pump on my orange acrylic paint. Unsuccessful. By this point I was in a manic state and while I didn’t want to ruin my painting I was willing to explore alternative routes. It’s important to mention that I didn’t have paint brushes (not that I would have known how to use them). I was determined to paint a masterpiece.
I pulled the entire pump out of the top of the gallon of paint and considered using its straw to wipe the paint onto my canvas. After a test run on a piece of paper it was clear that wasn’t going to accomplish what I intended here. I accepted temporary defeat. My vulnerable words were exposed and I felt self conscious. I hid the unfinished painting in my office and went home for much needed sleep.
The next morning I bought brushes. I spent twenty minutes at Home Depot trying to find the right brushes and all the while knowing that these brushes were for painting houses not canvas. I figured, how different could it be it’s a fucking brush and settled on two. I poured some orange paint out on a piece of paper, I filled my water bucket, and I painted some strokes to cover what I had written. It was a gentle and relaxing experience. I was later informed that you don’t need to mix water with acrylic paint by a painter friend but I’m doing it my way.
Sometimes it’s just about committing to a concept and exploring it. The structure can help creativity grow for me, rather than trying to make art out of thin air. I’m using this new series to explore my emotional side through art instead of my technical side.
I’m accomplishing my goals. I’m letting my self feel vulnerability. I’m letting myself make something that isn’t technically perfect. I’m letting myself play.
Sometimes Business Ben takes over and my artistic being is denied. After all, Ben the Artist would rather give away all the art he makes than sell it, and one day I hope to be afforded that freedom.
My friend Kristen was larger than life. I got to shred Vail with her a few times over the years. I struggled to keep up with her, and part of the time she was taking phone calls (without Bluetooth). She was part of some early Drinking Vessels photo shoots in which she was up for absolutely anything. Her smile and laughter were contagious, and our shoots together were some of the most fun shoots I’ve ever produced. 777 is your number in my mind.
So I’m running out of steam here. I’ll spend part of today with some of Kristen’s friends. Yesterday we celebrated my friend Mallory’s birthday at Nottingham Lake. A few of us reminisced on Kristen’s impact on our lives. I am finding comfort in being with these friend’s who knew her.
I also need to get to the studio to run some Sunday Specials, because if Business Ben doesn’t get back to work soon there isn’t going to be a place for Ben the Artist to make art. We have some fresh Sunday Specials
going live right now, and we’ll have more deals on the live stream this afternoon.
Enjoy your Sunday and call someone you’ve been meaning to reach out to. Our time here is sacred and limited and I wish I could hear Kristen laugh one more time.
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On Sundays I reflect.