I used to care about stuff. These days, whenever I hear someone railing on about how this or that is bullshit or a scam or [whatever], I just kinda roll my eyes. “Get some real problems,” I’ll think. “Isn’t there anything going on in yourown life worth being concerned about?” I’ve only got so much emotional capital and I’m definitely not investing it in some shit that has zero bearing on my day-to-day. And (of course) I’ve got my own principles, but I’m not about to start preaching to other people about what they ought to support, not support, believe, or not believe. Again – I GOT ENOUGH GOING ON RIGHT HERE. I don’t have the time or energy to waste on trying to change or influence somebody else. Besides, I’m pretty sure that the most positive effect I’ve ever had on the world has been through my art and my writing, which I do for my own benefit but which seems to positively impact other people as an added bonus.
On another note: I’VE BEEN FUCKING A LOT LATELY. I’m getting a lot of attention from girls. It’s probably going to my head a little bit. There are still plenty of times when I’ll catch a glimpse of my reflection and get pretty bummed out about the way that I look but for the most part I’m pretty pleased with myself these days.
I painted this while I was selling prints at the opening of a new art space in St. Augustine. It’s been a really long time since I spent less than ten hours on a painting, but I’m pretty sure I wrapped this one up within an hour or so. If I’m being honest, it was half expressive art and half “hey, girls! look at me! come talk to me!” Even still, I’m pretty happy with it.
I chose to use only the second half of my caption as the title because (by itself) it’s sexually suggestive but silly. That line underneath the body was originally meant just to distinguish one leg from the other but I left it as is ‘cause it kinda looks like it’s meant to be a dick. That works too.
This painting is already up as part up my exhibit at Burrito Gallery in Jacksonville, FL. By tomorrow afternoon, it’ll also be available as a 12×16″ print.
Speaking of prints, I set up at Rain Dogs to sell last night (thanks to my buddy, Mike, who does art under the banner of Hood Rat Shit). I just found out that Chris Wollard and Jon Snodgrass are playing there tonight, so I might try to go back and do the same. Here are some photos from last night though.
Snarkiness, pride, self-deprecation, vanity, whatever… all that shit aside – I really do have fun. And I really am grateful. I couldn’t ask for anything more than what I’ve got. And when I think about all the people that have been so supportive of me recently – personally or in just buying my work – it really is humbling. I feel like I’m in a pretty good state of being, even if it is a delicate balancing act sometimes.
I made this on the day that I first tried to sell my artwork. It’s kind of embarrassing. Beneath the bolder caption is some less legible text: “Fill your arms with paint. Sorry. I fill my arms with paint. Or I want to anyway. Um. Metaphorically. This thing is kind of cool. I guess it is what I thought it’d be. I feel selfish though. Like I’m not watching the other bands.”
Translation: Dumb phrase that sounds poetic. Apology for not speaking in the first person (as we’re taught in treatment). Analogy about using artwork in place of heroin to manage my anxiety. Craft Fest [in St. Pete] is kind of cool and about what I expected it to be. I haven’t looked at anything any of the other people are selling at their tables and I feel guilty in the same way I might if I were playing a show and didn’t go inside to watch any of the bands before/after my own.
I felt weird about all of that so I decided to just write out my bluntest, most human feelings on top of it: “Give me money and praise and I’ll give you this.”
Alex and I went to go see the “Everything is Terrible” holiday show at Sun-Ray tonight. When we walked out of the theater, there was a big gaping hole on the wall where one of my paintings once hung. I asked what happened and was handed an envelope with more money in it than I’ve ever been given for a single painting. Somebody bought it right on the spot and gave instructions to tell me that I’m “an international artist now” because it’s going in their home in Paris. So that’s pretty fucking awesome. And (like Beachtown Grafitti) – at the time of this one’s sale – it was also my favorite: Snowflakes Anonymous.
I’m really wrapped up in a “project” right now that’s costing me a lot of money and won’t pay anything (it’s not for me – it’s for some people that I care about). I was stressing about it earlier today but just told myself that it’s a nice thing to do and I don’t need to get all nervous because I like to believe that things will always work out when I’m making good, positive choices. And then this happened tonight so… Life’s kinda cool, right?
Here’s a song that’s rad as fuck.
Numbered, signed, and sealed Give Me Money and Praise prints are available in my webstore. If you’re interested in purchasing the original, get in touch.
Just a few days after moving out of Tranquil Shores, I went to Artpool’s “Crafty Fest” to try and sell some of my paintings. I didn’t put my most “offensive” stuff out, but – early in – a kid came up to my table to look at everything with parents trailing behind. When mom and dad got closer I watched their faces change as the content of my stuff registered in their brains and they quickly hurried their kid along to the next table or booth. And then I watched this same exact sequence play out over and over throughout the day. So – right there at my table – I painted something new and laid it right out front.
A month or so after I made this, I got an email from Mike Duda asking if I still had it and how much I’d want for it. I think that was the first time someone had hit me up like that, so it was pretty great. That Mike is also responsible for writing and recording some of my favorite art (in his band, Like Bats) just made it that much cooler.
Here’s “The Last Catholic in America,” the last song on Like Bats’ debut full-length, Midwest Nothing.
I tried to get my prescription refilled, but the pharmacy was all out of Adderall. I’d link to the piece I have about what happens when this happens, but it’s not online yet. I’d put it online but I’m out of Adderall.
Here is a piece in which my loss of… [whatever]… is probably apparent. I just finished it. It is all that I have done today.
There’s a pizza place down the street from my house that displays and sells art. I went in to see the owner, but he wasn’t around so I just dropped off a full-color flier with a bunch of my pieces on there and a little bit of info as to what I’m about. I went back the next day to eat, but it was busy so I didn’t want to bother him. I noticed though that there was a spot by the register for people leave business cards, so I left a little stack of my 2×3″ fliers with “My Favorite Cartoon” and my url on them.
A few days later, on our way to Alligator Farm, Alex told me, “I’m sorry about Moon River.” I didn’t know what he meant, but he said the owner threw out my little cartoon fliers because they weren’t “family-friendly.”
I knew my feelings shouldn’t be hurt, but they were anyway. Not to the extent that I let them fuck up my day, but I was a little sad. I don’t know – I don’t think those cartoons are all that offensive or controversial and – in any case – I have plenty of stuff that isn’t, but… It doesn’t really matter. It’s just one person’s opinion. I can’t win ’em all.
I started drawing this in the car that day, worked on it a little bit last night, and finished it this afternoon.
I was poking around on Reddit and – in the Art subreddit – there’s a rule: no “crayon art” allowed. I thought that was a little strange. I’m not wild about crayons ’cause I like bolder, brighter colors and sharper lines than crayon’s are really capable of producing, but I don’t see why crayons should be the one medium absolutely prohibited. (Why should any medium be absolutely prohibited?) So I used crayons in this piece. Not because I want to post it in the Art subreddit (’cause I’m not) but – I don’t know – maybe just as a reminder to myself that I don’t do this stuff for anyone else. Obviously, I’m attention-seeking and I still feel validated by positive feedback, but that stuff’s after the fact. It’s not what gets me started and it doesn’t influence my process. It’s not what drives me.
I’m gonna go try to get my Adderall again now. Well… I’m gonna try to try to get my Adderall. Let’s see if I make it out the door…
I’ve never shared the text in this piece with anyone until now. Shortly after I moved out of Tranquil Shores, I went down to Sarasota to see if I could sell some of my artwork by just setting up on the sidewalk. I didn’t want any trouble with police and the most trafficked spot in downtown Sarasota is outside of Whole Foods, so rather than set up in such a way as to be explicitly selling artwork, I just sat at a table outside of Whole Foods and painted, with a few finished pieces (facing outward) in the crate attached to my bike, another on the table in front of me, and another leaning against my chair. I just painted and hoped that someone would walk up and want to talk to me and then I could somehow segue into trying to sell something. Plenty of people did stop and talk to me, but I didn’t say anything to anyone about selling anything. And it was twilight, so no one could really see anything anyway. The whole thing was awkward. It wasn’t exactly my best plan.
Just before I went to Whole Foods, I had stopped by Clothesline. I had made a habit of doing that whenever I was back in Sarasota in the last year or so (in between stints in rehab), but this time it wasn’t just to say hi to the owner, Austin (my best friend from ages two to ten or so). Clothesline does gallery openings or art exhibits or [whatever you call that kind of thing] and – as of a couple months ago – I was now an artist. I figured I’d show him some of my pieces and see if there was any possibility of showing some of my stuff there. He was really supportive and sweet, but I didn’t actually ask outright and the whole thing didn’t pan out exactly as I’d have liked it to. Looking back, that makes a lot of sense.
Anyway, this was written a few hours later – after the Whole Foods attempt, after starting my ride back to Bradenton. It was colder than I could stand (to ride in) so I pulled over and wrote this on a piece of canvas that I had started to paint earlier. It says:
At first I thought it was just because she wanted to see me, but when I started writing on “Smiling With a Paintbrush in My Teeth,” I realized it might not be a good thing. When I asked her if she just wanted to see me or had something specific to talk about (and that I might not be home by ten) she said, “It’s not a big deal – it can wait ’til tomorrow.” But it’s a big enough deal that it’s not a text or a phone call. And a big enough deal that – ideally – she wanted to talk about it tonight. I’m really scared. Trying to see the good. Trying to be a light. Whole Foods today (covert street sales) was a bust. Clothesline was a bust. I might need to be in a big city to be an artist. And what keeps me from that? Heather. If she left me, I could go wherever I want. In another piece today, I had described myself as “stuck” and “trapped.” Also “smiling,” but still. My little punk rock heart’ll be broken, but I’ll be free to pursue my dream. And she’s been weird the last two days. “A dream I don’t want to wake up from.” It’s true, but maybe it’s time for me to wake up. I tried to ride the moped back. It’s too cold. The zipper on my bag keeps opening. I caved and called Lynette. There’s pizza waiting at home. I’m scared but I just need to make it another 100 minutes. Writing this killed 17. By the time I’m warm and fed, I’ll only have maybe 55 minutes to kill. Fuck. I’m smoking a cigarette now.
So – being incredibly codependent – I wanted to see Heather every night, but I was trying to be cool with it on the nights that I didn’t see her. But when she sent me a text on this evening, asking if she could come over around 10, I was excited because she had said that she had to work early and wouldn’t be coming over. And then my brain went into panic mode, as I realized that her text also implied that there was something we needed to talk about. Obviously, I jumped to the conclusion that she was going to break up with me. We had only been dating for a couple of weeks, but – shit – I didn’t really understand why she had been into seeing me in the first place. I’m a heroin addict and I just got out of rehab. She’s well-adjusted and employed. She drives a car! That she bought! With money from working!
I got picked up on the side of the rode and went “home.” (I was living with an ex-girlfriend’s family – although – I think it’s safe to say at this point (eight years in) that they’re basically my family; they’re as much family to me as anyone else in the world). Anyway, I was a ball of anxiety, I was so incredibly stressed out throughout this, but I remember that the one comforting thought in my head was there will be pizza – I will eat pizza and everything will be okay. (Yes, I am nine years old). When I got back to the house, there was not any pizza left. It was a pretty devastating blow.
I didn’t finish this piece that night because I didn’t want it to be a piece. I didn’t want anyone to see what I had written. It’s embarrassing.
Three weeks later, I found myself similarly upset though and I picked it back up. In all of that time, I had been cutting my anti-depressants all the way down to zero. For that reason, it was tough to tell when something was a legitimate issue and when I was maybe just feeling the absence of my medication. Just before I moved out of Tranquil Shores, it had been suggested that maybe I didn’t need anti-depressants after all. I started titrating down and we were monitoring my condition to see how I did with a lower dose and then with no dose. The day that I finished this piece, I was at the very end of my titration. I had no idea what was what.
I still get depressed, but I haven’t gone back on anti-depressants. After all, I still got depressed even when I was on them. And actually, I got depressed even more often because my “mental health tools” weren’t as strong back then. I don’t wanna go on a long spiel about it, but I’ll just say: I think anti-depressants are for people suffering from depression without cause. If, on the other hand, a person has plenty of legitimate reasons to be depressed, depression is the appropriate response and not something that should be treated with a pill. That strikes me as being roughly equivalent to putting a piece of duct tape over a “check engine” light and thinking the problem’s solved.
Anyway, I’m not saying that I have good reasons to be depressed, but I’ve got my little episodes and I have ways that I can manage them without a pill. Did I need it for a time? Almost definitely. I don’t think I could have started to get a grip without them. I was immeasurably miserable all the time. Words like “hopeful” and “happy” disgusted me. I wouldn’t even say them out loud. My process, getting well… it wasn’t quick and it wasn’t easy. I had a very long way to go. (And – yeah – I’m still going).
Quick aside. In writing this entry, I noticed something cool about this piece: how many other pieces it alludes to or is tied to in some sense. At least five. Maybe those will be the next ones I add to the site. (As I add those pieces, I’ll add links to them in the text of this entry, where each is referenced).