Tag Archives: body dysmorphic disorder

I’m Getting Really Sick of Not Being Famous

"I'm Getting Really Sick of Not Being Famous." 3/31/15. Acrylic paint. 48x24".
“I’m Getting Really Sick of Not Being Famous.” 3/31/15. Acrylic paint. 48×24″.

I can’t remember the last time I wrote a statement for one of my pieces but this painting never got one. A year later, here I go…

Things were going well. I was making thousands of dollars every month, I was getting booked at galleries, I was traveling the country with a girl with whom I was deeply in love, and I still wasn’t happy. (Or happy enough).

In March, I had an exhibition at Instinct in Minneapolis. Everyday – to help promote the exhibit and to make extra money selling prints – I’d set up on the sidewalk in front of the gallery with an easel, working on this, my next painting.

Some days, I didn’t wanna go set up though and spend twelve hours on the street, painting. Other days, I was frustrated having to park and carry my supplies too far away (or parking closer – illegally – and having to keep an eye over my shoulder for tow trucks all day). I was making money just for making art but I was actually having to work for it.

Fuck that.

I wanted to paint in some studio or at home. I wanted to finish a painting and know that there were already galleries lined up to take them or collectors ready to buy them the moment each was finished. “I’m fucking brilliant!” (Right?) “My genius should be enough to generate an income all on its own! This should be easier.”

Alright, so maybe my thinking wasn’t quite that arrogant but … you know … pretty much.

Look – I don’t like myself a whole lotta the time and I could expand on that for days but – when it comes to my art – I know that it’s great. As a human being, I’m seriously flawed, but those same flaws (and my willingness to bare them so candidly and honestly) is what overwhelmingly/primarily accounts for the power and singularity of my art and is the reason I’ve sold as much of it as I have. I’ve hated so many things about me for long enough that I’m okay with being unapologetically proud of the art I’ve created.

I figured that once I got wide enough exposure and enough people knew about my art (once I was famous) my life would be a whole lot easier. No more worrying about bills. Lots of attention (to fill the empty void where my soul should live). You know: FAME. Money. Whatever.

Admittedly, that might be a little naive but – fuck it – I was getting really sick of having to work and I was getting really sick of not being famous.

Beyond all that, there’s a passage of smaller text hidden in the canvas that sort of jumps all over the place. I wrote about feeling fat and self-conscious and tugging at my clothes, pulling them straight a million times a day (even though I was well underweight at that point (and probably still am)). I wrote about other frustrations and how they made me want to use heroin, even though I’d been clean forever at that point and had gained so much to lose. And I wrote about how I didn’t know what I was doing wrong but that I was going to keep trying anyway, finding new approaches if necessary.

Some of the "suicide stitches" on this painting.
Some of the “suicide stitches” in this painting.

Like most of my work, this painting is meant to be funny and it’s supposed to seem dense and trivial but its humor is born of sincere frustration, genuine sadness, hopelessness, and a sense of uncertainty. And like a lot of the optimism I inject into my work, what little is here is mostly for my own benefit and not the painting’s. It’s forced with the hope that it will take hold.

And I think it did take hold for a while but ultimately, about a year after finishing this piece, I did cave and give in to heroin, letting it replace art as my full-time occupation. And seven months into that, in a state of drug-induced psychosis, I slashed away at this painting (and several others) shortly before eating an absurd quantity of Xanax and Klonopin and injecting an intentionally strong shot of heroin with the intention of killing myself. I’m not sure why I didn’t want the art to outlive me but the damage didn’t turn out to be all that bad anyway and I, myself, woke up in the hospital a few days later.

More "suicide stitches" (which are actually mint waxed dental floss).
More “suicide stitches” (which are actually mint waxed dental floss).

That was six weeks ago and I’m now in the process of stitching up all of the slashes I put into my paintings. This is the first I’ve finished sewing up which makes it the first in what I’m calling my “Suicide Stitches” series of paintings. More on that in another blog entry/post soon to follow.

Amazon Wishlist

One of my goals in 2014 is to go to the dentist. I was looking into low cost options last night and I found a “mobile dental ministry”  that operates out of an RV with a mission to “provide caring dental service and a Christian witness.” I get what they’re saying but – the way that’s worded – it’s pretty funny.

Later in the night, I was really bumming out about my weight and, more generally, my physical appearance. I’m always embarrassed to acknowledge that sort of thing but… that’s what’s real. It had been a full week since I painted anything new and I knew that’s what I needed to do to get my head right.

"Amazon Wishlist." 12/19/13. Acryic paint and food coloring. 18x24".
12/19/13. Acrylic paint and food coloring. 18×24″.

So here’s my newest painting, which says: “I need 2 things – THE SHIT SCRAPED OFF MY TEETH and A CHRISTIAN WITNESS.” I’m calling it “Amazon Wishlist.”

In the bottom left corner, it also says: “probably less of a joke than I want it to be.” What I mean by that… I couldn’t be less interested in someone trying to convert me, and I’ve never found any comfort in a church, but I have found it in a few Christians. They were warm – kind in a way that a lot of people aren’t. So while you’re not gonna find me knocking on doors for Jesus anytime soon, a Christian witness just might not be the worst thing in the world.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not still gonna be a snarky little butthole and make a joke out of it. It’s whatever. I’m a smartass but I also let my guard down to acknowledge these thoroughly uncool thoughts and feelings (consequently opening myself up to ridicule) so…

It’s cool.


  • 12×16″ prints of Amazon Wishlist are available in my webstore.
  • Contact me if you’re interested in purchasing the original, 18×24″ painting.

It Smells Like Pee Because I Peed On It b/w How I Feel About My Life Right Now + Doll Garage

“I think I should (or at least want to) eat but I feel fat so I’m gonna try not to do that. I’d eat with Adderall but don’t wanna stay up too late. Got treatment tomorrow. I’d work out but don’t want to. I should get some work done or make some art (which I sort of am) but really I think I’ll just beat off. It’s a good distraction. I wanna say I wanna use heroin at times like this but I don’t. I never will. I’m not a good addict.”

"It Smells Like Pee Because I Peed On It b/w How I Feel About My Life Right Now + Doll Garage." 3/14/13. Acrylic, watercolor, resin sand, duct tape, marker, colored pencil, fabric dye, coffee, and urine on flat-rate USPS priority mailing box. 12x16".
“It Smells Like Pee Because I Peed On It b/w How I Feel About My Life Right Now + Doll Garage.” 3/14/13. Acrylic, watercolor, resin sand, duct tape, marker, colored pencil, fabric dye, coffee, and urine on flat-rate USPS priority mailing box. 12×16″.

Yeesh. [or something]. Right? I wrote that on a discarded USPS box with no intention of it actually becoming a piece. I was just losing my mind. There’s a lot going on here but that’s how it started (bottom center, red pencil).I’m proud to say that – like the other piece in which I express an interest in masturbating – I wound up getting pulled into art instead. (If you wanna know the truth though – on other occasions, I actually have masturbated! Don’t tell anyone though – it’s a big secret).

I already covered the “feeling fat” sentiment with “Insecure and Overwhelmed” so I won’t repeat myself here.

On the edges we have two allusions to the piece I finished earlier this same night (“Titrating”). On the right it says, “If THAT wasn’t titration-related, maybe THIS isn’t either.” On the left it says, “On a scale of one to ten, are you warm and safe? Do you find colors soothing? Is there any leftover pizza? On a scale of one to ten… Leftover pizza?” (That’s me poking fun at myself for being so concerned with pizza back on February 26th). Regarding “colors,” that’s about the neon green paint splattered across the pink duct tape that coats the far right side of my “canvas.” I like colors.

I was “making a living” at this point in my life by selling weird antique dolls on eBay. Every morning (or afternoon) I’d wake up and go out to the garage (in my ex-girlfriend’s family’s house) and list the dolls for sale. The details don’t matter, but they were basically inherited and I was enlisted to sell them in exchange for 50% of whatever they brought in. The dolls were all stored in giant plastic tubs. Some of them didn’t have clothes on, but there were a bunch of clothes floating around at the bottoms of the tubs. In order to make as much money as possible, I had to research the dolls based on their attributes and the markings carved into their backs and necks. For many of them, what clothes they were wearing was “important” (by which I mean, it affected how much I’d get for them). So here I was, sitting in a dark garage, putting different outfits on these toys and photographing them. Context aside, I was twenty-seven years old and playing dress-up with dollies. When that thought occurred to me, it struck me as being so absurd that I had to snap a ridiculous picture and post it on Facebook. The caption read, “Don’t even try to pretend I’m not the funniest motherfucker on the planet.”


Because I totally am!

When this piece was just one step away from the way it ended up, I fucking hated it. Aside from the fact that it mentions embarrassing stuff (body image issues and masturbating) I just didn’t like the way that it looked. I can’t really explain my next move. Maybe it just popped into my head and seemed characteristic of mental illness and (since that’s how I felt in this moment) I embraced it. I took the piece and I peed on it.

And – call me crazy but… that’s what did it. The slight change in color tone brought about by my urine soaking into the cardboard… really brought the whole thing together. (My phrasing is intentionally silly here, but the sentiment is 100% dead on). Suddenly, I loved this piece. I deemed it “finished” and immediately started my next piece – “Everything Works Out Exactly As It Should.”

The next day (as I always did) I brought all of my new artwork with me to Tranquil Shores to share. I wrote the name of this piece on the back of it and came up with a really funny game. I’d hand it to someone, let them look at it, and then tell them to flip it over and read the title. At which point they’d look up at me like, “seriously?” And I’d give them a big dumb grin and nod.

Urine is sterile! The piece was dry by this point! Who cares?!

I am a child, but I have fun.


Insecure and Overwhelmed

I’ve had (and still have) friends whose girlfriends are overweight. In years past, I remember meeting some of these girls and thinking things like, “Yeah, she seems nice enough, but I’m pretty sure [insert friend’s name here] can do better.”

It wasn’t until I started dating Heather that I ever had the thought, “Even if this girl were to gain weight, I’ll bet that I’d still be just as in love with her.” So it wasn’t until then that I actually had an understanding of how/why [whatever friend] was dating someone who didn’t have the “right” body type.

This morning, before she left for work, Heather was bumming out about her weight. Heather, however, is not overweight. She’s probably the most beautiful girl on the fucking planet. (Although – as I’ve just admitted – I may be somewhat biased when it comes to something like this). Still, I can relate. I feel for her.

It was January or February of 2012 and I was an inpatient at the Wellness Resource Center. Someone had accidentally smashed out the window next to my bed. Lying there, I thought about how anyone that were to walk past could see me. I remember contemplating going into the kitchen to get a knife. To slit my wrists or cut my throat or do whatever it might take to end my life. The reason: because I’d never be thin enough. I was thinking about killing myself because I was too fat.

At the time, (I’m pretty sure) I was about 150 pounds. Maybe 152 or 153. I don’t have a picture from that time, but to give you an idea of what we’re talking about, here’s a photo taken just now (at 147 pounds, which is close enough).


I’m way too familiar with the feeling of not liking myself – and when I add to that feelings of not even liking my body (my shell) – well, life starts to seem pretty unbearable. Everything starts to seem unbearable. And hopeless. And useless.

“Insecure and Overwhelmed.” March 26th, 2013. Acrylics, watercolor, marker, fabric dye, and knife. On a repurposed (framed) chalkboard. 16½x22”.

This painting was done one night when – though things were going well for me overall – I just couldn’t shake the negative thoughts in the moment. I didn’t really journal that night, but I did write one thing down. “I feel fat and I don’t wanna be me right now. No one will ever want to buy this.* My art is good for my mental and emotional health, but rarely anything that anyone would enjoy.” Which is to say that I let my discomfort about my body/size slime through to my feelings about my art and the new path I was trying to embark on. I was letting my body image issues infect and destroy everything. They’re that powerful.

I’m pretty great at spilling my guts and clearly I just fucking love to talk about myself… But the one thing that I don’t like to talk about is anything related to my body. You see: if I think I’m fat, but I acknowledge that I have body dysmorphic disorder (because mental health professionals have told me that I do), then that’s an acknowledgement that I’m not really fat. And then I’m a fat idiot in denial about how fat I am.

I’m doing much better with this stuff these days than I ever have in the past. And talking (or writing) about it as I am now, (I think) is an important part of that.


  • * Footnote: Despite this piece having the words “no one will ever want to buy this” on it, it did – in fact – sell pretty quickly. Though 9×12″ prints are also available for purchase.