SET IN BONE
In 2000, I was a healthy, hearty, happy 260 lb married winner of a trip to President’s Club at work; by the next year, I was a stricken, sickened shell of the fat, cheery man I once was, unable to hold a normal job due to illness and forced into an exile by betrayal and a lack of faith in the human race. By autumn 2001, I had lost over 100 lbs in 8 months to an infestation of ulcers in my pipes, a problem exacerbated by the stress of divorce. Everything, including water, would pass through me in minutes, regardless of proper time or place, calendar or commitments. At a fundamental level, I had to void every couple hours, including at night, which led to an ending cycle of broken sleep. Anemic. Abandoned. Overworked. Overtired.
Under the gun. This fiercesome state continued relentlessly until 2013, when I found equilibrium with my storms. Discovery of that equilibrium, and how the process changed me to my core foundation, is a focus of these blogs, my creations and my art. It guides my method and influences my purpose. My work is inked with the passion of my pain and the color of my dreams, and that dye bleeds into my core, setting the internal skeletal framework alight and alive.
It wasn’t always that way. In fact, while I was once voted “Most Artistic” of my high school, I veered away from creative endeavors once I married. In truth, I hadn’t found my passion or voice yet, so my ex-wife was shocked when my artistic side started bleeding through my emaciated smile.
It took losing half of my body weight, most of my possessions and loves and all of my known sense of direction to find my way. It wasn’t by accident that I became an artist focused on production and evolution. I toyed with the concept throughout my life, through the creation of elaborate Dungeons & Dragons Campaigns to producing two comic strips in the college newspaper, from assisting rock bands to publishing websites and running forums.
The Imagineer was always within, looking for a compass and real commitment.
CONTRACT AND COMPASS
In the early stages of the creation of Artemis Sere, I wrote two passages in my journal that became foundational to the brand. They operate as my objectives, disclaimers and the weather vanes for my work. Both are printed in the introduction of the books of my Bonesetter’s Revenge series.
The Artemis Contract
I will aim to create
what has never been
with eyes that see
with words that speak
of twilight reverie
with the darkness
of a full eclipse
with sun and moon intersecting
at the archer’s tip
until the light
to the shade
I will silently
This is blasphemous
These are dangerous
Wrapped in these passages is my commitment to Art, artistic production and focus. I try to hold true to these words, as much as possible. I’ve been told that my paintings are a stunning, amazing, and unique experience. My digital art has garnered praise from across the spectrum. I have developed an audience that appreciates my style and substance. I have amassed tens of thousands of high-quality photos from around the world, made thousand or so pieces of art and published 3 books without the guidance or financial support of anyone.
Following my convictions into the away has done me wonders, and I continue to experience the benefits.
When it comes to religion, I’ve always had a complex relationship. I was brought up in a mixed household (Father is Roman Catholic, Mother is Protestant) where my loving parents granted me freedom of choice. I attended church and Sunday school when I was young, visited amazing palaces of worship in Germany and Italy when I lived in Europe. I also was a lover of Greek mythology and dinosaurs when I was a very young boy and was confused by the conflict of one God versus many, monotheism versus our polytheistic past.
But I also visited Auschwitz, Anne Franks’s house and other dark places of human history. Talk about humbling trips. When I truly had adult freedom of theological lean, I chose Agnosticism; after jarring events like 9/11, the unnecessary wars and the rise of ISIS, I chose Humanism. I may not believe in a God nor subscribe to any associated mythologies, but I do revere human beings, their exquisite diversity, and their vibrant passions. In the absence of answers, mythologies were born, which evolved into passion enclaves with pulpits and preachers. The robes became more elegant, but many of the inhumane practices remain the same.
I’ve found it best to be boundless as an artist. It is the only way to objectively experience art, culture, and nature and find ways of incorporating them into my methods and creations. Satanic symbols are often present in my work, but I am an atheist. I don’t actually believe in any of the horrors I create. I just reflect the dark reality we’ve built for ourselves.
I work to be a human mirror, one with cracked and jagged and off-color perspective.
All artists are part of the color wheel of this mosaic, not removed from it. We bleed the pain of this planet, its creatures, and this species into our creations so the memories of this place are not forgotten. The minor of my English degree was in Humanistic Studies, the appreciation of the history and culture of Humanity through art, religion, philosophy and a variety of other topics. I studied the Bible for a year, as well as Eastern religions, such as Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. I probably don’t remember as much as I should about all of them, as an English major must read a maddening amount of content during his degree study, but I did come away with a Humanist mindset and an appreciation of the human species. In all hues.
And possible futures. Along the way, I became fascinated with Leonardo Da Vinci and his intersection of art and science. I am also intrigued by the progress of technological evolution, and its impact on human societies and our collective creature. I created a Secular Transhumanist Facebook page some years to curate content on the subject. I invite you to visit it if you want more information on the subject.
It’s also my duty to not be a selfish human. I go to secondhand stores in the area and “rescue” fine art pieces that are relegated to the thrift store trash heap. I do my best to support other artists in my network by purchasing their product (even if I can’t make it out to every show, I still do my best to be present). I volunteer my time towards the United Way and other agencies at my day job. I give to the poor when possible. These are my attempts at being “Resident”, and my duty as an #Artrovert. I would do more if I had more resource that I could commit to others.
And time management certainly is a challenge when you work a day job a day run your own art brand in the background.
THE HUMAN STRUGGLE
To be fair, an artist needs ample time to produce, enough of a buffer to be patient with a paragraph of a story or a paint-splattered canvas. I have made art time a primary priority in my life — to the detriment of personal and professional relationships. I have missed some major life events of the friends in my orbit in the name of Art. Sometimes, my family connection is strained, and my work focus suffers.
Equilibrium of identities is a struggle. Not just an artist struggle, but a human one. Without all systems operating in the necessary fashion, resource streams maintained and audiences attended to, life falls apart. And when life falls apart, it takes a lot more resources to put it back together. After every one of my major breakups in my life, I had a period of time of major instability that wrecked me financially and kept me from standing on my feet. Much of that could be due to the fact that I didn’t know who I was yet, didn’t fully comprehend how important it was to focus on core competencies first.
When I tried to live off the identity of the artist, I couldn’t. That didn’t mean I was a bad artist, but it did mean that I had to reprioritize, put the day job first and progress the brand as I could. Adherence to the S.E.R.E. concept became penultimate as work weeks stretched into sixty or seventy hours when time was leeched away while driving from job to job, from pizza delivery to pizza delivery.
Through it all, I always had a notebook close — ready to capture a piece of a poem, a story idea, a character note or a quick sketch. Sometimes, the purpose would drive the method, but my methods have always been aligned to a purpose: