I was born in Eagletown, Oklahoma to Southern Baptist parents, and my father was a preacher. We were two boys and six girls in the family. The most mundane things were magical and special to me. I liked to draw, color, make things, and plant things. I loved the woods and the earth, and watching storms with thunder and lightning.
We moved from Oklahoma when I was 11. In the late 1950s, I attended Oakland Technical High School where I met artist Sam Richardson. He was the catalyst that propelled me to enroll in art school. Before meeting Sam, I had been making art, but had no idea that I could study art in college. Sam was a very cool, kind, supportive art teacher. He taught me that I did not have to create only realistic images. One day, he took some white poster paint, white glue, a flat ice cream stick, and some black India ink. He created a loose, messy, textured-looking surface on an 8 x 10 inch flat panel and outlined the image of a short, stylized, funny-looking elephant. It was as if the image emerged magically from messiness. From there, he convinced me that I could seriously study art and become an artist. I went on receive a scholarship to California College of Art Crafts, and earned a BFA and MFA.
Many paradoxical, seemingly negative things happened to me as I progressed in creative experience and research. These experiences, disguised as oppositions, have always proven to be great blessings. So, I say there is always the presence of thunder and lightning and great shakings, which produce an energy for the release of creativity. My teaching, lifestyle, and creative method of being an artist and creating art are all integrated by being more and more interested in the Creator-God. Every culture and race rushes through my blood. I am related to everyone. My parents are a mixture of African, Anglo, and Native American. I research various cultures that inform my art. I am an avid reader on subjects that relate to art and subjects that do not (science and business). I am at ease with every high idea or religious concept in every culture the world over.
Education through art is the best education. Art should be at the center of education. Albert Einstein said, "Without imagination there can be no knowledge." Art educates, uplifts, and nurtures the imagination. Art is a very broad subject. The best way to solve any problem is to focus on the solution. Art as a creative process can be used to tackle scientific and business problems as well as interpersonal problems. Read The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, The Artist's Way at Work: Riding the Dragon by Julia Cameron, Art and Physics by Leonard Shlain, and The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. The eye is the best tool of the mind for gathering knowledge. The artist works intuitively. This way of working gives direct knowledge and insight into real meaning. True contemporary art aims to break down old, fixed barriers and rituals of seeing. It aims to reveal ways to the inner paths of inspiration. Contemporary art tries to bridge the gap between the left and right brain. There is a vast world of richness and creativity hidden in the subconscious, and contemporary art tries to get at the vast reservoir of creativity and knowing. Read Joel Barker's Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future. In my art I aim to be a paradigm breaker–creator of new ones.
My artwork, and working process, is a creative research that leads on a path to inner self-discovery and a sharing of its results with whomever comes in contact with me and/or it.
I may take an old work that I did years ago and see it as the preparation for some new process of the present moment. I look for unusual tensions and arbitrary occurrences so that I will get to see the work in and unpredictable way, an unconventional way, something new–something that will shock and stimulate my mind and spirit. I am like a child who experiences unknowing surprises and wonders. I explore different ways of looking to arrive at an innocence in seeing. I like seeing the familiar imagery and abstractions in my format. I enjoy making surfaces complex, hard to look at. I like to work in the corners and on the very edges of the format because that is unusual. Just when a pattern of predictability is set up by the rhythmic repeats in the format,
I seek for the most extreme opposite. This creates a stimulating tension.
I take photographs, print them black and white on paper then collage the photos (which have been enlarged) on a panel or paper and then draw from the live model over that and then print over that or take it into painting. The floors of San Marcos, for example were photographed and then printed and then manholes were printed over those prints and then drawings or paintings were made over that. This gives me a certain creative freedom away making a fixed goal oriented 'master piece' and I can be just as surprised as the stranger or audience who may happen to see the work. The work is always open, as long as its in my studio, to changes and evolvement. Picasso worked somewhat like this. You know there are so many Picasso prints of the artists work around; I may just reverse negative print it and then draw over that and no one can sue me over that. It's Richard Prince and his work on Willem de Kooning, or Prince's word paintings being obviously influenced by Jasper Johns.
I have some photo copied prints of David Smith's Cubist Sculptures. I collage those onto paper and then made drawings and paintings over them. Wrapping paper, my manhole cover prints, patterned fabric, landscapes that I painted, other drawings all kinds of geometric formations have been used-paint-splattered surfaces and much more are first prepared in anticipation of creating art over them later. I think that art is a great active live agent for gathering knowledge. I think that without imagination there can be no knowledge. Art is the process of imaging. Without that process we could never SEE the possibility of heart transplant, liver, kidney, or lung transplant. My art has to be alarming, unsettling, interesting, out of the box- paradigm breaking. It has to be difficult, challenging, and not too familiar. I would always, every minute, try to imagine the best because through that imaging: even the worst ( when and if it come to me) will turn out the best. This has been already verified many times in my experience.
1. I was poorly educated up through high school. I get scholarship to Art School and finally get perfect grades up through student teaching for a Bachelors Of Art Education for teaching high school. At the last minute I am kicked out the program because the system does not like my innovative way of teaching. I was working quite well right before my master teachers eyes but they said it would never work. So I got a MFA and ended up with an excellent job teaching at a University only two days a week for 42 years and can never be fired and that's only 58 days out of the year. Much better than teaching high school!!!
2. My van breaks down and It costs 298. To fix the breaks. I save the rotors ( circular break drums) print with them on canvas and in anticipatory prep. works. These works are sold and I gross 2,400.!!
3. My van breaks down again ( Transmission). While walking to work I see manholes and start a creative process with them which has become a huge success. More exciting and fun stories on the manhole adventure will follow.
4. Smudges and drips my pants have turned into many painted pants performances and yes many stories.