Tag Archives: October 2013

Status Update: Halloween 2013

The pumpkin I carved in rehab last Halloween.
The pumpkin I carved in rehab last Halloween.

Aside from a couple hours of fliering, I spent all day painting. It’s still not done but I did put a small part of it online.

When I coined out at Tranquil Shores, a friend told the story of his first day. He got out of the van, stepped into the courtyard, and the first thing he saw was me: shirtless with a giant butcher knife, carving a pumpkin, smoking cigarettes, and listening to punk records on a portable turntable. I tried to hit him up today but got no response. I heard a few weeks ago that he wasn’t doing well and was probably shooting up again.

Earlier this morning, I got a call from another kid I was in treatment with (in January and February of 2012). We hadn’t talked in 18 months. He’s still shooting up but he’s still young… My heroin use didn’t become a heroin problem ’til I turned twenty-five so… The important thing was that he said he was doing well overall (and I believe him). When I get a phone call like that, it’s almost always from someone that wants to know if I’m still in [whichever city] and if I’m still clean – ’cause if I’m not could I maybe help them find some dope? He’s up in New York though and was just calling to catch up. It was really cool to hear from him.

I think I broke up with my girlfriend this morning. I’ve journaled about it a lot over the last few days but – whatever I choose to share of those – I’ll hold off on until my painting is done.

Whatevermind II (Pinkhairdontcare)

"Pinkhairdontcare." 5/12/13. Pen. 8x10".
“Whatevermind II (Pinkhairdontcare).” 5/12/13. Pen. 8×10″.

I shipped out the inserts for Rational Anthem’s Whatevermind LP this morning. Pictured above is the art that I made for those after I decided that my first attempt didn’t quite match the themes of the album.  The band should have the records for sale in time for Pre-Fest next week). “Pinkhairdontcare” is what some little girl nicknamed me while I was filming “No Real Than You Are” (or so I’m told). It was also the caption Van used when he posted his portrait of me on Facebook. My character wears a Rational Anthem shirt in most of his scenes so… – seems like an appropriate title.

Portrait by Van Jazmin.
Portrait by Van Jazmin.


underwear_that_is_orangeToday’s been really pleasant. After the post office, I came back home to find a package from a friend, waiting by my door. Aside from the book and the “underwear that is orange,” it had a really nice card/letter. I also got a check in the mail and (now that my bank finally has a branch in this city) I was able to go deposit it. As you could probably tell from my newest painting, financial panic was starting to set in these last couple days. Yesterday, were I to set aside the money I’d need to pay my bills on the first of the month, I’d only have had five dollars to spare. And yet, one day later, I have enough of a cushion that I should be okay. I definitely still need to figure out some ways to branch out and sell more artwork because my current “situation” definitely isn’t sustainable but  I think things are gonna be alright (even if I don’t have any evidence to support that proposition!)

(I came up with an idea last night – something I’m planning on ending my entries with… While some people might find it objectionable, I’ve given it some thought and I’m comfortable with it. It won’t change the fact that I still need to “branch out” and reach a bigger audience, but it does have some potential to help facilitate that).

But anyway, riding around town, running errands – the weather’s nice, people are nice (they smile at me) – life is good. I was listening to Against Me! and it occurred to me that their strongest material is probably the stuff they recorded for Fat, which happens to be the period in which I paid them the least attention.

For example, is there any better sentence fragment than “…if this is how I communicate and demonstrate a love of life…” – from “T.S.R. (This Shit Rules)?”

And while I think their weakest releases (outside of the really early demos) are New Wave and (to a lesser extent) White Crosses, there are a handful of really strong songs there. I remember when WC came out, Taylor fucking hated whenever I’d listen to “Bamboo Bones,” mostly on account of the lyric, “what God doesn’t give to you, you’ve got to go and get for yourself.” I found it amusing – not because I wasn’t equally put off by all things even remotely religious or spiritual at the time – just because it was so against the grain. (I like anything that fucks with people just a little bit). It’s kind of brave in that sense: to sing about “God,” in that way, in a band with an audience like Against Me!’s. I don’t know what meaning the songwriter attaches to the word but, when you throw something that vague (and bold) into the world, you can bet it’s gonna be spun all kindsa ways by all kindsa people. Today, I like that lyric a lot.

I don’t really use the word “God” these days but, in the short period in which I was, I liked it. I might not have had the same meaning for it as anyone I spoke to, but it connected me with people that I don’t usually connect with – in a way that I don’t usually connect with anyone. And like today, it just felt nice. Pleasant.


Normal Fuck b/w Who Do You Work For?

"Normal Fuck b/w Who Do You Work For?" 10/21/13. Acrylic painting. 16x20" stretched canvas.
“Normal Fuck b/w Who Do You Work For?” 10/21/13. Acrylic painting. 16×20″ stretched canvas.

Though it had become fairly regular with my expressive art therapy pieces, it’s been three months since I last felt compelled to cover my canvas with a sprawling journal entry. My newest painting though…

I take Adderall. If I don’t, I’m unproductive. But sometimes I can’t take my Adderall. Because I haven’t yet taken my Adderall. As much as I’d like to be clever – that’s not a joke. And when I admit that, it feels kind of pathetic.

I still don’t have a job, but I work at least eight hours a day. Many days, it’s much more than that. The work that I do is probably the only work that I’m capable of doing at this point in my life. It’s good for me and (it seems to be) good for a lot of other people too. It certainly seems to have more of a positive impact on the world than my work in [let’s say] a gas station would. It’s too bad that it doesn’t pay as well.

I’m not sure what my “job” is… Do I just do what I do, or do I need to dedicate the same kind of energy to marketing myself? I don’t wanna do that any more than I wanna work in a gas station.

I think a lot about “success” lately. I don’t think it’s just freedom (from rules, bosses, schedules, orders), I think it’s also… – I want to say freedom from anxiety – comfort (internally / spiritually). Excepting my EDD freak-outs, I stress about not having enough money to 1) pay bills and 2) keep Heather in love with me.

Look at that! I finally fucking admitted it!

You know… for a second, I thought this was big. But, really, it only means that I’m just like every other normal fuck on the planet.

Oh – shit. That is big.

Growing up, my dad taught me (or at least tried to teach me) a few things. One of those is at the crux of this piece. “If you don’t make enough money, (sooner or later) she’ll leave. It doesn’t matter how much she loves you. If you can’t afford to do things like go on vacation, then – eventually – she’ll find someone that can.”

My biggest regret (or possibly just the one I think of most) is something I said to Heather when we first started seeing each other. I was still living in Tranquil Shores then, so I was very much a blank slate; no one really had any idea what the fuck my life would look like even 30 days into the future. I had recently decided that I wanted to live, essentially, as I was at Tranquil Shores: I wanted to dedicate myself to art and other creative projects, and have a little time left to do standard mental health / recovery sorta stuff. When I told Heather, she asked how that could possibly be tenable in the long-term. I assured her that I was really clever – that I’d make it work somehow. And that “shit – if all else fails, I’ve got a fucking law degree from Georgetown – I can always go get a regular job. Work seasonally (or something like that). In any case, if I ever needed money, I’d be able to come up with it.” And why not? I always had in the past.

But “why not” is that I’m not a fucking drug addict anymore. Sure, I was always able to come up with money before but that’s because I was okay with heading over to the nearest college and stealing laptops (or anything else valuable I might come across). And – in case it doesn’t go without saying – I don’t do shit like that anymore. All that aside, what I emphasized was simply that I’m really clever and that things are going to work out for me. I think I was more lacking in thoughtfulness than I was being dishonest.

When she told me she liked to go on vacations – and asked if I’d be able to afford something like that – the word probably rang that old bell in my head and sent me into panic mode. Without a second of pause, I just said “yes.”

Because of all that, I feel like I started this relationship under false pretenses – and now that I’ve already suckered her into liking me, it’s not the kind of thing I can just take back. In the end, I know it won’t make any difference (whether or not I promised to be not broke one day); if I don’t ever make money (and it is an issue for her) it’s not like she’ll be obligated to stick around just because “she knew what she was getting into.” Then again, I was a heroin addict and a mental patient so… it might be fair to say that she knew (or at least should have known) what she was getting into either way.

I selected the “most outrageous” text from this piece for the title because I want to distract from how uncomfortable I am with the real subject. ”Who Do You Work For?” would make for a far more genuine title. I like it because it implies Heather and myself, as well as (potentially) a third-party audience (with – or instead of – Heather). After all, so much of the journal reads like I’m defending myself / trying to justify my life to someone. And just mentioning anything about financial anxiety within a piece of art makes the whole thing feel like a commercial solicitation (which also makes me uncomfortable).

Although, as Heather pointed out, I’m well aware that my pieces with journal entries on them as way less salable than the others and that by using her name in the piece (rather than a generic equivalent like “my girlfriend”) I made it even less salable. Which makes me happy – to spot concrete evidence that, though I might stress out about money in relation to my art, that tension isn’t influencing me in such a way as to detract from my (or my art’s) authenticity. I don’t ever make something with salability in mind; I just fucking make it. So while I may prove to be a commercial failure – so long as I honor myself and my expression – I can still be a personal success. And maybe that’s enough…


Greetings From Delray Beach

"Greetings From Delray Beach." 10/8/13. Pencil, marker, digital. 10x13½”.
“Greetings From Delray Beach.” 10/8/13. Pencil, marker, digital. 10×13½”.

I started offering t-shirts with my artwork on them recently. Originally, the plan was just to offer shirts featuring my simpler cartoons, but I decided that there was no reason not to open it up to include my paintings as well. Since some of my more expressive paintings though can’t exactly be transferred to a shirt, the plan was that if someone wanted to buy a shirt like that, I would “adapt” the piece for the shirt (just as I had with “Merry Christmas 2K12”).

My friend, Ren, had said she wanted a shirt and when I posted my newest painting the other night: “That’s what I want!”

I wasn’t 100% certain she was even talking about the shirt, but I was immediately excited. I love that painting and the story behind it but – as soon as I saw her comment – I realized that its caption could also be the basis for a really cool cartoon.

"The Island in Pinocchio Where Bad Kids Go to Be Bad (Welcome to Delray Beach)." 10/5/13. Acrylic and watercolor paint, food coloring, resin sand, and pen. 16x20" stretched canvas.
The original painting.
Just before bed last night, when I had finished sketching it out, I was really happy with it...
I finished sketching out the cartoon “adaptation” late last night.


...but when I finished the color, I wasn't too happy. The way it was laid out, it felt like two separate images stacked on top of one another.
As soon as I woke up, I inked and colored it.

At that point though, I was suddenly not so excited. The problem was that I had wanted it to be as big as possible (for the sake of the t-shirt) but now – looking at it – it felt like two separate imaged stacked on top of one another. But – after scanning it into the computer and playing with the layout – I’m really happy with the finished product. Thanks, Ren!


For sale


Aside: I feel a little funny about there being so many “products” related to this piece but it’s not like I’m not making the stuff that I want to make. My life costs between six and eight thousand dollars per year.  I’m pretty excited that I haven’t had to get a regular job in order to pay for it yet.


Update (same day): “Welcome to Delray Beach” is now “Greetings from Delray Beach.” Makes more sense to change it for this piece.