Tag Archives: colored pencil

Happy Martin Luther King or Valentine’s Day

"Happy Martin Luther King or Valentine's Day." 12/11/2013. Colored pencil and ink. 4x5¾".
“Happy Martin Luther King or Valentine’s Day.” 12/11/2013. Colored pencil and ink. 4×5¾”.

When I sent cards to the people I care about for the holidays in 2012, I didn’t end up getting most of them mailed out until early in 2013. With that in mind, I figured I’d play it safe this time around and draw something that’d play off my anticipated tardiness. So (of course) the cards ended up being totally ready to go with more than enough time to spare before Christmas. But that’d mean my joke wouldn’t work! So I held off on asking for addresses ’til I figured it was late enough that people wouldn’t suspect I was asking for the sake of Christmas cards and then waited even longer (January 1st) to actually drop them in the mail.

I held off on sharing this cartoon ’til now because I wanted my friends to see it for the first time when it showed up in their mailbox. And then a couple months went by and I just forgot about it.

So here it is, “Happy Martin Luther King or Valentine’s Day! (punctuality’s not really my strong suit).”

If we’re pals and you didn’t get one, it’s ’cause (1) I asked for your address and you didn’t give it to me; (2) I didn’t ask for your address ’cause I thought I already had it but you’ve moved and I don’t know it; (3) you were just one of those unfortunates that was probably on my list but got lost in the shuffle. Better luck next year! (And in the meantime, send me your god damn address). I love all of you.

Dog Food Doesn’t Grow on Trees

"Dog Food Doesn't Grow on Trees." 12/8/12. Colored pencil. 3x2".
“Dog Food Doesn’t Grow on Trees.” 12/8/12. Colored pencil. 3×2″.

This cartoon (about giving up on the things you’re supposed to care about) was my third (and final) piece on 12/8/12 – the first day ever that I did virtually nothing but draw and paint. (The first two were Why I Fail and Group Therapy).

This is one of the few pieces that I just flat out lost somewhere along the way. Not too shocking when you consider that it only measured three inches and that – just eight months ago – my art was nothing more than a heap of paper scraps, ripped cardboard, and a few pieces of loose canvas (all of which I carried around in grocery bags).

I made two new pieces today but I can’t share ’em ’cause I’m an asshole and they’ve got the kinda raw poison in them that I shouldn’t ever let out of my brain and onto paper. Or one of ’em does anyway… Shit – it’s not even that bad but it would hurt the fuck out of my feelings if someone had a similar thought about me, so…

Here’s a really beautiful song that’s usually pretty good at fortifying my resolve and, other times, makes me wanna break down and cry.

With a pain that cuts me like a knife, I wanna know you won’t be hard to find. I wish that I could call you right now and tell you that I’m around. I wish you would’ve called me that night and told me you hurt inside.
Please don’t stop living.
– from “Upside Down” by Shorebirds.



"Matt." 2/1/13. Colored pencil. 8x10".
“Matt.” 2/1/13. Colored pencil. 8×10″.

Rather than pay attention in group one morning, I decided to try and sketch my friend sitting across from me.

I’m pretty sure that this was my first (and only) attempt at an honest portrait. My technical ability as an artist is so limited that I rarely ever risk even trying to draw caricatures. I can think of seven exceptions but the only ones online so far are Rational AnthemHeather, and Servo & Megan.

Matt and I were sitting outside smoking cigarettes one day and he had some paperwork to fill out. We both thought it was pretty silly that the form asked for his race and ethnicity and, while he was initially hesitant, I was eventually able to convince him to have a little fun with it.

Matt's Paperwork

Group Therapy

"Group Therapy." 12/8/12. Colored pencil. Ink outline.  5½x4¼”.
“Group Therapy.” 12/8/12. Colored pencil. Ink outline. 5½x4¼”.

While in rehab last year, I drew a cartoon for a Christmas card to send my friends. It’s me and Santa hanging out with The Devil, Borderline Personality Disorder, an undefined higher power, a Disney-fied syringe full of heroin, myself at age four, an identity issue monster, and two girls that I’m either in love with, trying to fuck, or just looking to get some kind of self-esteem bump out of.


We didn’t have a community event that week so I had Saturday almost entirely to myself. After trying and failing to create something a little more self-serving, I decided to do something nice. I drew this – my most detailed piece up to that point – for a card I could send to all the people I care about. My list had 110 names on it. That wouldn’t have been all that difficult had I not made it into the most emotionally intensive project ever. If these were people I cared about, I decided, then I should write each of them a letter letting them know why I cared about them, just how much I appreciated them, or [you get the idea]. It was more than I could handle. In the end, I got around 60 cards written (and about 55 actually mailed out). The people that have meant the most to me over the years: their cards were the hardest to write. I forced myself to scratch a few of those out early in, but others I kept putting off ’til I could find what I needed to give it the focus and honesty it deserved. Since I had about 50 names left to cross out when I threw in the towel though, some of those people never got any card at all.

As a whole, this was one of the toughest things I ever tried my hand at. Though I ultimately fell short, I’m still really glad that I did it. The 50 or so people that did receive cards – well, that’s still something.

For the backs of the cards, I traced the Traffic Street logo (with one modification) and the barcode from a box of Cap'n Crunch.
For the backs of the cards, I traced the Traffic Street logo (with one modification) and the barcode from a box of Cap’n Crunch.

As for the content of the image, sitting around me are physical manifestations of all of my “issues.” From the bottom-right, we’ve got Satan as my dark, sarcastic, attention-seeking behavior;  the mask I made in our expressive art group on identity [it’s not up on the site yet and won’t be ’til I can summon some bravery]; a syringe filled with heroin; the ghost that I used in this period as a symbol for borderline personality disorder; Santa’s just hangin’ out ’cause it’s like, Christmas, yo;  the girl represents different issues with sex, love, and codependency; the empty chair is for my [then] undefined higher power; the little kid is me at four years old, an age that came up a lot in the course of my treatment and that a lot of my core beliefs can be traced back to; and the second girl is for sex, love, and codependency. Yeah – two chairs for that set of issues. They come up a lot.


Status update (10/30/13): This isn’t exactly my strongest entry but I don’t have much in me tonight. I feel pretty hollow right now. [More on that later, I suppose]. Earlier today I was extremely productive though and got a lot of writing and editing done. I’m really happy about that. While most of that work isn’t anything I want to share here yet,  I did completely overhaul the statement for one piece, edit the fuck out of another, and add a good amount to a third.

Selfish Program

"Selfish Program." 11/29/12. Colored pencil. 7x11".
“Selfish Program.” 11/29/12. Colored pencil. 7×11″.

I drew this eleven months ago. It’s only the fifth thing that I ever made by choice (and not as part of a treatment assignment). People say that Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous (or, more generally, recovery) is a “selfish program.” It’s not about self-interest or self-serving as much as it is… well… let me put it this way. The girl I dated for most of 2012 – we went to go “visit” her family in St. Louis when Miami got to be more than we could handle. (I say “visit” because her parents agreed to a week but – desperately wanting to not go back to our lives in Florida – we stayed for more than a month). Anyway, something her dad always said that stuck with me is this oxygen/airplane metaphor: “Put on your own mask before assisting other passengers.” Meaning – if you don’t take care of yourself first, there’s a good chance you’re not gonna be much good to anyone else either.

At Tranquil Shores, the first major assignment everyone has to complete is the “First Step” (not to be confused with the first of the twelve steps; this is something different). Anyway, it’s the assignment where group feedback is the most important (and the only one where everyone’s really supposed to be as honest and blunt as possible and call the person out if they’re full of shit). The morning that I drew this, I was losing my mind (a pretty regular occurrence back then). On the one hand,  a friend was presenting her First Step and I felt like I’d be letting her down if I didn’t give her my full attention. On the other hand, I had my own mess to sort out and I didn’t want to listen. I wanted to get out of my head, get away from damage, destruction, hell, and shit. I wanted to color.

So I did.

Mental health doesn’t happen on a schedule. As much as I’d love to always be there for everyone, I can’t. If my own life/head is a mess, I’ve gotta deal with that first. And it’s worked out; if you were to ask my friends, I’m certain they’d say I’m a better friend today than ever before. So – as the block letters behind the fence in this drawing say…

Selfish program.


  • This piece is currently on display, as part of my first art show, now running at Sun-Ray Cinema in Jacksonville.
  • I also have signed prints available in my webstore.

Spoiler Alert

"Spoiler Alert." 11/3/12. Watercolor and colored pencil. 12x18".
“Spoiler Alert.” 11/3/12. Watercolor and colored pencil. 12×18″.

Alexis was planning on moving back into her parents’ house when she got out of treatment. She had the option of moving in with her grandmother, but didn’t want to for reasons she’d never really explained to me. When I’d try to talk to her seriously about why it was so dangerous for her to move back “home,” she’d use her little-girl voice, make puppy eyes at me, and say things like “But I wannnnnnna.” It was frustrating. I cared about her. If she moved back into that house, she’d be living with her sister, who I had also been in rehab with. And unlike this girl, her sister had never shown any interest (that I’d been able to pick up on anyway) in getting clean and getting her life together. Alexis was different. She had the potential to do really great things with her life really soon. Her insistence on moving “home” was the only indication that was wasn’t 100% set on really living. On being better.

“If you move back home, you know how that story ends.” She looked at me with a mock I-haven’t-the-faintest-idea expression. “No? Can I ruin the ending for you? You fall back into it, violate your probation, and go to jail.” She shrugged me off and kept trying to be cute. It was still more than a month down the road and – shit – she was pretty good at being cute. I gave in, laughed, told her we’d “revisit the subject.”

As time passed, I’d continue to let her know that I cared and try to lead her in a better direction but – ultimately – I knew I had to accept that it wasn’t something I could control and do my best to not stress out about it.

In the end, she moved back home and fell off, just as anyone could have predicted…

And now, she lives behind bars and gets to be a cautionary tale on my fucking website.

Which is so stupid and tragic and… insignificant.

I don’t know. It is and it isn’t – and it’s [whatever] to [whoever]. You try and make sense of the world… I’m just gonna stick with the comfortable little philosophy I’ve developed. Or maybe I’m just gonna elect not to think about it.


She and I used to sit in the courtyard at Tranquil Shores and listen to records on my little portable turntable. Here’s the first song from one of the albums we spun the most. I love it a whole lot, but it makes me kinda sad sometimes.

“710” by Sundials


That same month, she asked me if I’d make her a bracelet like the ones that I wore. The only reason it has my name on it is that she specifically requested it. I applied the color (which is hair dye) with a q-tip and a sewing needle.

Court Dating

"Court Dating." 4/15/13. Colored pencil, watercolor, marker, and pen. 9x12".

“Court Dating.” 4/15/13. Colored pencil, watercolor, marker, and pen. 9×12″.

Do you ever feel like every word out of your mouth is annoying? Like even your love is annoying? I feel like that almost always. And I don’t know that I’m wrong.

“We’re gonna have to wake up early and it’s all the way in Venice; are you sure you wanna take me to my court date?” Heather assured me that she didn’t mind. I told her I’d take her out to breakfast afterward, thus turning the court date into a regular date (you know – the kind that couples go on)!

When we woke up, she was grumpy. She seemed really pissed off about having to take me but she insisted that she wasn’t so I took her word for it and behaved as if I believed her. Like everything was cool. Nothing I said could make her smile though; she was mean. It was a bit of a drive so I had to give up on conversation and find a way to get okay with me regardless of her attitude.

I started drawing. It was labored. I had no idea what to draw and didn’t really think this would ever turn into a finished piece. But I had to do something to keep my mind off what was happening (lest I become irrationally upset and begin contemplating suicide or some other poorly planned major life decision). This was really expressive art therapy at its purest. I just kept adding to the page until we got to the courthouse.

Though I captioned it that day, I didn’t finish it until I pulled out my sketchbook a month later (under frighteningly similar circumstances).


Every Friday at Tranquil Shores, Robin and Nancy would take us grocery shopping. On my second Friday (8/25/12), Nancy accused me of shoplifting. (I wasn’t but she had good reason to suspect otherwise). When I went to Robin to complain, she asked me if I had been. “Go fuck yourself,” I told her.

(I’m a real charmer).

But anyway – it kinda killed me to part with this piece, but I gave it to Robin as a birthday gift. She’s probably the nicest person I know. My biggest problem with living in Jacksonville is being away from my Tranquil Shores buddies. (Have I mentioned that before?)


This morning (and last night) were really tough for me emotionally. Today was probably my least productive day all year. I’m gonna strive to make up for it tomorrow.


This piece is available in my webstore as a 10×13″ print.