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Friday, January 31, 2014


Sometimes when blessing are consistent or readily available we take them for granted, or at least we fail to acknowledge the avenue though which we receive them. For example, to the seasoned artist the act of creation becomes almost involuntary, akin to the act of breathing. Indeed, it becomes so common place that it is rarely analyzed, and even then it is hard to describe. But take away every creative outlet, and one's attentions begin to focus on that missing miraculous phenomenon. 

That is where I currently find myself. Never have I experienced such a dearth creatively. Not by reason of any mental block, but by virtue of having no time to devote to such pursuits. Life calls and I rush to it. Howbeit, in this aesthetic silence the wonder and nature of art becomes even more apparent.

In my musings I am lead again to the realization that the marvels of the sentient realm cannot be emphasized enough. Likewise, the miners of awareness cannot be celebrated enough. These are they which probe the featureless void to excavate portals of possibility.  Indeed, these worm holes of imagination open bridges into alternate universes where ethereal objects exist, but have yet to transition into the material world. 

While each artist becomes familiar with their respective portals, and the unique keys fashioned to unlock their treasures, the shared experience of that process runs deep in the artist community. Indeed, in my own life I've become familiar with myriad portals, especially those that I frequent often. Herein, summoning one's powers to transition between worlds becomes effortless. 

To illustrate the truth of these fanciful assertions, imagine a world without any creative process. A realm wherein things only exist as they are. No inventions, no adaptations, no new ideas, or applications. No new tastes, smells, sounds, music, rhymes, rhythms, sequences, colorations, textures, forms, motions, etc. Indeed, by virtue of your own imagination even the idea of that dull grisaille world comes into view. 

Now consider the colorful world in which we live. We inhabit a world of ever blossoming creativity. Not just in terms of aesthetic beauty, but practical inventions, adaptations, applications, and new combinations: new flavors, scents, timbres, melodies, harmonies, rhythms, etc. Can you imagine a world void of these marvels?

Moreover, can you imagine a species void of imagination? Unable to learn new things intuitively. Unable to invent, think outside the box, or creatively problem solve. Indeed, imagine a species wherein all knowledge was simply a genetic inheritance, passing from one generation to the next. Can you imagine the stagnant, slow evolutionary pace of such a hobbled species? Indeed, would we even consider them intelligent? 

Regardless of how highly endowed, such a species would have profound limitations? On the other hand, consider the nature of human intelligence. We progress from the virtual blank slate of infancy, to capable, inventive, strategic, intelligent beings in just a few decades, absorbing mass quantities of new information, adaptations, strategy, etc. Indeed, humans are profoundly creative--in similitude of the Divine. Our creative abilities seem reminiscent of fabled supernatural powers. We seem to be able traverse time, gaze into the future, astral project to other realms, and bring back rightful plunder. We enter these "promised lands" through portals of imagination. Once envisioned, we return with the fruits of optimism and taste the blissful prelude of future materialization.

For example, consider the exceptional nature of what the Wright brothers envisioned, the strength of their imagination, the certitude of their optimism--fueling the work required to materialize the far-fetched possibility of human flight into a concrete reality. Indeed, it's as if they saw our time and returned with spoils from the future. 

So it is with every inventor, artist, or creator. They mine awareness, looking for new veins of imagination and creativity. Herein, the auteur lays rightful claim to mystic portals, even though they labor to share their find with the world. Nevertheless, the location of their mother-load remains secret. It is only known to the artist, inventor and/of creator. Indeed, where is the wellspring that Shakespeare drew from? The oracle which Mozart tapped into? The crystal that Michael Angelo gazed through to see David encased in a prison of stone? Where is the metaphysical bridge which Newton traversed to observe the attraction of celestial orbs? These can only be found in the topography of mind. 

How strongly we connect with that nether world. Indeed, it seems strange that we could ever be lured away from its beauty. Nevertheless, time passes and I visit these portals less and less--evoking a strange sense of guilt and abandonment. 

I have not created anything in months, for life calls. And yet, as I run to my children's side, I see something in their eyes familiar and mysterious at the same time. Indeed, at this very moment I recognize the oracles that God has opened up in them. Materializations of the Divine. Cosmic portals whereby to glimpse the Supernal. Hence, as a father I am entrusted as their curator. 

How juvenile my art seems in comparison. Every day splayed before my eyes are the works of the Master--the innocence of children, pollenating the world with hope from the other side. Such transcendence! Indeed, the canopy of heaven is mere finger painting in comparison. But life, sentient life, is a masterpiece filled with ever blossoming creativity. Where are words to describe such things? 

As children of the Divine we gaze confidently into the featureless void. There are portals awaiting our discovery. Pry open the vault of imagination. Exercise your powers. Pull back the curtain of doubt to reveal endless doorways of possibility. Yet never forget life. Never forget your soulscape. And above all, never forget your collaboration with the Divine. Create, Curate, and Collaborate.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Alma Mater-ial

Around a year ago I was going through some old boxes and discovered memorabilia from my college days.  Amongst the remnants I found artwork which I thought had been lost.  Being that I'm a 9 to 5 working stiff now, and have very little time for creativity, I thought it might be fun to go through these works and reminisce.

This artwork represents a very fertile, innovative and creative time in my life.  The still life above was the first sketch I did in Art 101.  I hadn't drawn in a long, long time (being involved in other mediums and motifs), but this return to the simplicity of paper and pencil was refreshing.  (see sketches above left to right:  Still Life to Life, Self-Portrait) Strangely, I only had one art class in Junior High, and one art class as a Freshman in high school--so I hadn't tested my faculties in a long time.  I was pleased to find out that I could still ride the bike.  But realism didn't hold my interest for long. 

Obviously, we had to do anatomy and proportion studies, and mimic other artist's techniques in a few assignments, but predominately we sketched live models in class.  (see anatomy/proportion assignments above and copying other artist's works and techniques below.) 

We also spent a lot of time doing quick sketches by breaking the subject down into fundamental shapes.  (see animal sketches from left to right: Dog, Cat, Bird)

We also explored enhancing line drawings, by using "accent lines" (thick and thin lines to suggest shading).  These simple exercises increased my appreciation for representation and suggestion. (see accent line drawings below from left to right: The Line Up, Age Lines, Fine Lines)

Form these I began to explore avenues in minimalism that I still find fascinating to this day. Namely, representing a subject with as few strokes as possible.  Indeed, I was intrigued with the fact that the mind had the ability to fill in missing information and recognize iconic shapes.  (see my favorite drawings from that semester below--left to right: Thinker: Inside the Cubist--"thinking outside the box", Minimal Mammal, Scratch That).  Herein abstracts also began to emerge from my consciousness.  

It was during this time that I discovered and explored what I called "seeing through filters" (long before the days of Photoshop).  Herein, something in the subject evoked a departure from realism--my mind allowing me to see alterations that captured the "essence" of the subject. (see ink drawings left to right: Modern Model, Venetian Ink)

I also began recognizing and using "forces" in my technique: horizontal blurring to suggest motion, vertical blurring to simulate dripping,  diagonal lines and crosshatch to suggest varying textures, superimposed "bubble" to suggest a feeling of suspension, erratic scribbling to suggest being unkempt, chiseled lines to suggest hardness, smooth lines to suggest softness, vertical lines to accentuate height in rock formations, horizontal line to suggest the qualities of water, and chaotic strokes to evoke uneasiness. Examples of these are expressed in the charcoals and landscapes shown below.

"Seeing through filters" and using "forces" produced a wide variety of styles.  Indeed, I never knew what to expect--neither, did my professor.  In fact, she called me "the moodiest artist, that she had ever met."  I don't know if it was intended as a compliment, an insult, or just an objective observation.  (see charcoal works above: Horse Race, Hijab, Signs of Life, Sunbather, Transient, To Think, or Not to Think, Lady Lay)

I can safely assume that my professor wasn't displeased with my work by virtue of my grades.  But in all honesty I admit that she gave me great latitude for exploration. While my classmates faithfully performed their assignments in realism according to her direction, I was allowed to "color outside the lines".  God bless her for wisdom in this regard, for in a single semester I was able to explore diverse avenues of creativity and aesthetics. (see landscapes left to right: Utah, Sanitarium)

I haven't taken an art class since, but I look back with fondness on that aesthetic dawning--emerging from chrysalis. 

(NOTE: Originals cropped, cleaned, and colored balanced in Photoshop)

Monday, February 4, 2013


Recently, I finished another hyper-real surf motif entitled "Native" which took me over a year to create. This work features my eldest son with his beautiful, long, uncut hair against a Native American setting.  

Since I have covered the hyper-real technique in earlier posts I thought it might be interesting to chronicle the myriad impression that inspire a creation--what did I draw upon to draws others in.  

To start, the concept behind this work comes from a "what if" scenario. Being that everyone is familiar with the Hawaiian culture which invented surfing, I envisioned a cultural juxtaposition within nomadic Native American life--to create the ultimate surfari scenario (hopefully capturing and mirroring an organic experience as exemplified by the Paskowitz family).  

I imagined traveling from break to break before the modernization of western culture.  Finding a promising spot, setting up camp, cooking the days catch, and falling asleep on a bed of soft pelts, next to a warm fire, and slumbering loved ones.  

Then morning wakes you with the solacing thunder of waves breaking. You peek your head outside the tipi as the brine of cool ocean air enters your nostrils. You rub your eyes twice to ensure that the vision of turquoise perfection is not just a dream.  You step outside, chose your board, and begin to wax it as you time the sets. Then you rise to your feet and drink it all in.  In that moment of repose and mental preparation, you connect to the present in ineffable ways.  Today will be special, transformative, epic.  

Perhaps that is one of the qualities of big wave surfing--you connect to the present.  Everything else fades.  The past doesn't exist once you rise to your feet.  The future is probed only in terms of split seconds as you judge the wave unfolding before you.  

When you kick out, your concept of time expands back to normal parameters.  It is then that you typically feel the elation of what transpired. Indeed, in the maelstrom of compressed time, adrenalin, and focus there is little time to process emotion, even the distraction of fear lingers somewhere in the distance.  It is a rare experience--many describe it as spiritual.  It is different from the rush of other extreme sports, because every wave is unique.  It's not like jumping out of an airplane where the parameters remain basically the same every time.  It's different from skiing down a mountain, cause the mountain isn't moving.  To truly understand it, you have to experience it.  

Another deep seated intrigue with surfing is the nomadic experience of "surfari" and how that weaves it's way into the feeling of "tribe", family and friends. It's equally hard to explain the nebulous connection I feel with Native American culture, art, and spirituality.  They seem to mirror in mind. Indeed, as I analyze the strands of subconscious thought many images begin to flash.  

Growing up I was privileged to have both a Navajo foster brother and sister join our family and live with us for almost a decade.  Moreover, many of our family vacations involved visiting reservations and Native American landmarks as we crisscrossed the country.  I still remember learning about the great Chief Joseph in Yellowstone Park as a child (probably because we share the same name).

Nevertheless, my first dabbling in Native American motifs, began in high school when making jewelry with my friend James Kanan, (who went on to become a very successful jeweler, and sculptor--see link: ).  It was during that time that I developed an affinity for Native American aesthetics (in fact, David is wearing a necklace that I made for him in this picture).  

However, my deepest appreciation for Native Americans came unexpectedly during a "ring dance" ceremony at the Sundance Institute Film Makers Workshop in 1988.  I don't talk about it much because it was spiritual in nature--let's just say it was strong medicine.  Something changed inside me.  

As the years passed my connection and appreciation grew and grew--the beauty of tribal community, the art of living off the land, the technology of the tipi, and every shard of philosophy I could garner. However, I wasn't aware how deeply Native American motifs had invaded my creative subconscious until I began designing the artwork for "Chameleon on the Glass".  I had no intention of mimicking any motifs, I only new I wanted something mystical, ancient, and organic.  As the graphics began to materialized, I kept noticing a semblance to Native American art.  Many of those elements made their way into "Native" (like the dream catcher design, eagle feathers, and many others). Obviously, some elements were created specifically for this work, like the Anasazi surfer, and the Wildman/Holyman! symbiotogram, which has an interesting back story.  

As is customary in some Native American communities members often receive their names based on personality and/or life events.  As fate would have it, my friends nicknamed me Wildman--which stuck to me throughout high school.  Then I moved away into a new community of friends which had no knowledge of my previous antics.  Till one day, while rafting down the Colorado river, someone called me, Wildman--which took me back, and caused me some serious introspection.  I had tried to pursue a more spiritual path in subsequent years and distance myself from the label, but eventually I  came to terms with both my instinctual and spiritual nature. My son, on the other hand, was blessed with a transcendent nature--expressing profound empathic sentiment.  Hence, the Wildman symbiotogram (which turns into Holyman! when turned over) represent that inversion and the dualistic nature of man in general. 

The kaleidoscope of images and impression that swirl in the transom to generated works like "Native" are hard to quantify, let alone explain.  Moreover, that which draws an artist in, may not interest others in the slightest.  Still they are driven to capture the beauty seen in mind's eye, where the air of imagination grows so thick that it begins to condense into a reality.  That is what artists do--it is their "Native" air.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Patina of Patience

My appreciation of the artistry of others, leads me to spotlight the work of a friend and master acoustic guitar builder Ken Stika. Ken owns and runs The Great Salt Lake Guitar Company out of a historic building located in the quaint shopping district off Center Street beneath the majestic mountain of Provo, Utah. I have known Ken for almost 20 years, and have stood in awe of the quality and tone of these one of a kind instruments. He personally manufactures each one under the Stika brand. These are truly custom works of art, and each one is given the individual love and care which fuels Ken's passion for perfection. 

While there are some basic models to choose from, Ken understands that each instrument requires unique craftsmanship to achieve his vision. Handpicked exotic woods are chosen for their beauty and tone, but that is just the beginning. For as most acoustic musician know, tone can differ drastically between guitars with the same model number and wood selection. Hence, Ken's operation is anything but an assembly line approach. Only a hand full of custom guitars occupy his shop in various stages of production. This patience and maturity pays off in the end--for what you have is a work of art, and that art will color a guitarist's work for years to come. Musicians often talk about the glorious tone of aged woods, but there is another aging process which occurs as the musician develops a relationship with their instrument. Your technique refines itself. Your ear attunes to subtle variations of the instruments timbre. Herein the musicians meld into the wood, fingers calibrate, caress and coax nature's song from the wood. This can only happen with a fine instrument. Ken is a master at creating such instruments, and is actively passing this knowledge on to his son.

The rich patina which gets better with age applies to more than wood, but to musicians, mentors, and master luthiers like Ken.  

* * * * *

EPILOGUE: On July 15th 2012, just a few months after this post Ken passed away.  Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones.  We will miss you.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Since closing my business and reentering the 9 to 5, I’ve had very little time for creative pursuits. I’ve been a little like a fish out of water, gulping air, hoping to run some creative fluids past my gills. Creatively speaking, it’s been the driest period in my life, except for designing several logos recently. So that’s what I’ll write about today--creating logos.

Interestingly, the word logos itself is a Greek word referencing Divine creativity, power and reason. Some cultures refer to it as Naad, Dabar, The Word, or equivalent of the Big Bang. While our use of the word "logos" is none so lofty, I find the linguistic tie to the creative process interesting.

Some logos involve nothing more than choosing a font, but we are going to stretch a bit farther than that. However, to successfully do so we must descend into realms of consciousness where primal images communicate universal concepts. For example, if you look at the crafting of signs denoting gender on restroom doors you begin to understand communication that transcends language. The primal language of rudimentary forms seems innate to the human psyche. Indeed, the brain itself creates a mental kanji of sorts to abstractly represent known realities. For example, take a moment and close your eyes. Now think about the first house that you can remember living in as a child. Notice the abstract icon that your mind created to represent this structure, feeling, and memory. The initial mental impression doesn’t contain the entire layout of the house in detail, just an abstract impression.

When crafting a good logo and artist must descend into this realm of primal impressions. Seeded with the concepts which one desires to communicate, the mind will begin flashing through image icons and mental thumbnails to begin drafting possible representations.

As these images and impressions are transferred to paper, an intellectual process begins which calls upon one’s creative skills in distilling a singular image which is aesthetically pleasing, striking, and communicative.

Obviously, not all logos reach this high benchmark, and there are many other considerations which intermingle in the equation. For example, one must become familiar with established symbolism, calligraphy, geometric forces, image reduction, mental cropping, and aesthetics of composition like shape, perspective, balance, and unity. Nevertheless, I find descending into deeper realms of consciousness crucial to the creative process. Moreover, the more familiar one becomes with this process, the more they can branch out into conceptual art work, which is not and easy genre to master.

Aesthetics involve everything from the subliminal to the intellectual. Yet articulating why we like a work of art is often hard to do. Truth be told, most artists want a visceral response. All of their effort is aimed at soliciting three simple words from their audience, “I like it!”

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Let the Colors Run

It is a curious time in this artist’s life, as I step back to view the masterpiece that surrounds me. Just this last month my oldest daughter Amanda’s work was featured in the Springville art museum and another piece at BYU. To say that I am a proud father is an understatement. I stand in awe at all of my children’s accomplishments. Summer’s science project recently went to the state finals, and she made the cheer leading squad for next year when she enters high school. Suzy was elected to the student counsel this year and serves as class president. Roxy, being the genius that she is switched to being home schooled by Wendy because we wasn’t being challenged enough in 1st grade, so she is now doing third grade work. And David is just a kick in the pants when it comes to physical strength and athletics at the age of one.

Looking at this soulscape one would think that I drove my children to excel with a whip. But nothing could be further from the truth--these are their own accomplishments, there own motivations, and autodidactic skills. Long ago I learned how beauty was created in letting colors run free on the canvas. I called this painting technique organic flow. I allowed subtle forces like gravity and wind to spread paint on the canvas. I would coax and cajole, but not force. Interestingly, the philosophy behind this technique carried over and superimposed itself onto my life, along with a new appreciation of what I called soul art. Indeed, I became enamored by the living medium of the human heart, the aesthetics of love, and the hand of Providence. Howbeit, I am still in awe of the talent that surrounds me. I can’t believe these amazing children are mine.

As if in celebration of their accomplishments, we recently had the privilege of participating in the color festival at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna temple in Spanish Fork--a living metaphor wherein massive crowds of people throw colors on each other to welcome spring and celebrate the beauty of infinite diversity, as well as all of creation’s underlying unity. (see youtube link: )

We had blast! But I also think that the experience left a deeper impression on our subconscious. There remains the lingering imprint of sheer joy, bathing in color, spreading it around, and appreciating its random beauty with childlike awe. Herein one is led to consider the spontaneous splendor of life unfolding, the mystery of self, and the works of the Master.

Soul Art

The canvas of a heart


Potential undefined

An infant’s spotless innocence

A surface primed with light

The spirit comes to distill

On the blank slate of a mind

Where conscience engaged

Holds unfettered promise

It’s not a paint by numbers

An abstract, nor still life

Its beauty is authentic

Our love not artifice

Though society coerces us

To color in the lines

A masterpiece above all must be honest

Across the frame of time

Is stretched the soulscape of a life

A transcendent self-portrait

Of interior design

Composed of will

Self is revealed

In that a Divine spark

A living, breathing medium

As our life becomes art

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bleed Through

Last year I closed the doors on Acoustic Aquarium Inc. and reentered the job market--not an easy transition, but a necessary one. As I look back fondly over the last two decades a new clarity and perspective emerges. What I once considered the daily grid, now appears as a rich series of relationships, experiences and accomplishments.

During those years I represented over a hundred different manufacturers, and sold close to 100 million dollars in AV gear. Everything from inexpensive music accessories to high end PRS, G&L, and Brian Moore guitars. From cassettes and 24 track analog machines, to cutting edge hard disk DAW’s. From selling simple FX pedals to Lexicon 960Ls. From outfitting small project studios to selling large venue DSP like Sound Web & Media Matrix into facilities like the Salt Palace and the United States House & Senate. From sound systems in bedrooms to boardrooms, from garage bands to theaters, from podcasters to worldwide broadcasters. I sold everything from inexpensive PA’s in school classrooms to quarter million line arrays in venues like the LDS Conference Center, Brigham Young University, and the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii.

My work took me to places all over the US, and exotic places like Vienna, Salzburg, Prague, and Germany. I received extensive training from the best minds in the biz. I’ve strategized with colleagues and CEOs on products and marketing. I’ve met and traveled with recording artist and audio legends. At the time, it didn’t seem glamorous--I was just doing my job. But now, as I look back and think, I can’t believe I did the things that I did.

Among the dozens of awards received for sales and marketing efforts, one award is especially close to my heart--Numark’s Best Individual Field Rep in 2006. Being singled out and extolled in front of peers is a great honor. But the greatest surprise was that my efforts in this small little corner of the world were recognized at all. I remember picking up manufacturer’s at the airport and visiting dealers in one state, then at the end of the day dropping them off at the airport again, and traveling all night in my car to pick them up the next morning in another state to visit more dealers. That was also the year I launched my most aggressive email campaign, replete with custom graphics. I created over 350 email flyers in that year alone.

But of all the things I miss, are the faces and relationships built during those years, and the privilege of working many days from my home office surrounded by my family.

As in the winds of magnetic tape, each year bleeds through onto my memory--faint whispers, affects, and circumstances that print themselves onto life. A full year has wound itself around me since shutting down my business--partially obscuring my past endeavors. But the print-through of smiles, voices, and relationships come through the strongest. Trophies gather dust, commissions are spent, sales goals are but pinnacles fading in the distance, but the people. . . the people that touched my life endure.

Now, as fate and good fortune would have it, no sooner did I finish the text above when I got a call and an invitation to work within the circle of one of my favorite clients--Performance Audio. But this time I am an exclusive part of their winning team, to help get their new Orem store up an running. As I embark on this adventure, it’s already very exciting for me--I thoroughly enjoy my new job and old comrades. It appears there are a few remaining winds on this reel.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Chrysalis Book Series

In 2004 a young mother named Wendy Ahlman (I know I’ve heard that name somewhere before) started Chrysalis Preschool. With a newborn in her arms, and her three year old learning at her feet she began teaching her students and developing a new learning system--the positive results were immediate. However, this initial success simply planted the seed for a greater quest. It wasn’t just a job, and it wasn’t about coin. While her prices were a shave higher than the competition, she chose to keep her classes small, optimizing her face time with each child.

Parents soon realized the illumination of young minds occurring within the modest walls of that quaint old house were on a different order of magnitude. Wendy began attracting students with parents from both opulent means, as well as those who struggled to give their children the best education they could find. Void of glitz, status, or entrapments there was a new sparkle in their children’s eyes--the budding of knowledge, achievement, and self-respect.

But Wendy wasn’t satisfied, she went back to school to receive her degree in Elementary Education (graduating Cum Laude) while running her own preschool, going through pregnancy, giving birth to her youngest. Amazingly, during this time she also began writing children’s books, and after graduation Wendy spent the summer designing her own curriculum worksheets and started producing a new series of books for her first time readers--the Chrysalis Series. The Chrysalis Series was finished in September, 2010 and has 12 books so far. During this time Wendy also ran and was elected to the Governing Board of Freedom Academy Charter School where her daughters and many of her past students now attend. (NOTE: Freedom Academy was recently recognized as the #1 charter school in Utah for excellence.)

Wendy’s students have been enjoying these books for some time now, but they will soon be available to the general public. While these books are very simple, only eight pages each, each book forwards the story within the series. Herein not only the mechanics of reading are taught, but the love of reading as well. Each page is accompanied with playful illustrations, which Wendy also drew, using the basic shape technique that she uses every day when teaching arts and science, yes, she has discovered a clever way of combining the two.

So, kudos are again in order. But don’t worry about Wendy getting a big head. Luckily she has me as an anchor, or at least she has me to weigh her down, whatever the case may be.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ethos, Ephemera, and Aesthetics:

Every now and then I like to feature the work of artists I respect. One such artist is Josef York. Obviously, my love of the ocean naturally draws me to his surfing motifs, but it is more than that. Josef has the ability to capture the ethos of the beach culture, quest, and community. There is also a vintage quality which comes through in his technique--as if a snapshot taken through the gauze of my own memory.

Further proof of his ability to capture the ethos of the human experience are his golf motifs. I am not a golfer, but when I see his paintings I want to golf--to feel the still solitude of morning hours, with the verdant nap of opulent green under foot. I sense the strange hybrid of focus and relaxation that merge in the odyssey for accuracy. The studying of lines and landscape to ferret the best path for one’s athletic ambition. I am drawn in completely.

While Josef is equally skilled at sketching he prefers to work with acrylics on canvas. When talking about his inspiration Josef states, “Art is in the genes. So many of my family members are incredible artists. I was blessed to see their talents with a brush, a pencil, even crayons. I grew up sketching and drawing the things that caught my eye, the things I love to do. Growing up in Harbor City California riding waves, riding concrete and hanging out around that scene, (creative endeavors in their own right) have filled my cup and inspire most of my art to this day.”

In fact, Josef still spends a lot of his time “playing outside”, skating, golfing, hiking and exploring--waiting for that “fickle mistress” of creative inspiration to strike. Moreover, he also works as a Mental Health Therapist. He even participates in after school programs with troubled youth riding along side them at skateboard parks. If that weren’t enough he is a father of four, which confirms my belief that the most relevant art is produced by those immersed in the human experience, not in the halls of academia, nor in the snub-nosed cliques of aesthetic elitists. It is art that brings warmth into the cold space of a gallery.

Whether captured on a cave wall, sprayed as graffiti in an alley, or painted as a fresco on a cathedral dome. Whether attached by magnets to a fridge, or held in a golden frame at the Louvre. Art is an expression of the human filter reconstructing impressions of inner and outer realities--to preserve ephemera in the perennial frame, even as it exists in heart.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


A year ago I embarked on a project to post a poem a day on Today marks the 365th poem and the completion of my initial goal. I am now looking forward to posting poems at my leisure, and perhaps providing more esoteric offerings.

There are many styles of verse that I enjoy. Most of the offerings this past year were simplistic in meter and form. This style was developed to educate, rather than impress--to proffer axioms, easy to understand, assimilate, and remember. For example, the simple poem posted on October 4, 2009.


Each time I look through other’s eyes

I see myself to my surprise

And yet I’m changed by what I see

And take a piece of them with me

Rhyme is an issue of rhythm--not meaning, or truth. Nevertheless, the pattern recognition of the cerebrum latches onto these. When all three converge you have the optimal result--meaning appealing to intellect and reason, elusive truth touching the recesses of the heart, and rhythm imbedding them into the psyche for easy recall.

While I write many simple poems in this manner, my favorite genre is free flowing prose, where content trumps rhythm, verbiage, and form. This does not suggest a lack of these elements, but that content is given preeminence. One such example, is the first poem I posted one year ago, about the art of verse.

The Pen

To yearn is to breathe

By drawing in life

So feeds the quill

Returning more

In her exhale

The berthing of poets

Wedged between the press

Alone they bleed the ink

By pain and force of could be

Forlorn against the wall of is

The world its lumen gives

Though focus blurs the whole

So verse, while trite, hath pollen for perception

A thought, a rose, plucked from a bush

Then placed in vase, as mind

This voice

A ping resounding

Off fellow souls

Whispers through the dark

I am not alone

(NOTE: This poem and its imagery became key in the visual lexicon of symbols I use to represent authorship. See logo above with the eagle feather quill, bleeding thoughts which fall onto the page as the Namlha seal.)

While such prose often appear free flowing without rhyme or structure, it is rarely the case. Indeed, just as I love composing music with odd meter, tempo change and polyrhythms, I also enjoy imbedding similar rhythmic complexity into verse. The challenge is to weave these in subtle ways, so as not to detract from the organic quality.

In the example shown above we see many phonetic links which create an elaborate rhythm and pulse. From strong vowel sounds and consonants to phonetic inversions--yet they do not draw overt attention to themselves. Nevertheless, the real love of poetry lies in extracting meaning and significance. Sometimes this is easy, while at other times it holds the intrigue of solving a chinese puzzle box. Moreover, some prose are simply crafted as impressionistic journeys. Regardless, the trick is to enjoy the ride.

Let us take a quick stab at unlocking the verse above in Postlude. (Stop here and read the poem--see if you can decipher it on your own.) The first verse speaks of an anxiety that takes us away from enjoying the now. The second verse reveals that it is worry about the unknown future. The third verse teaches that this fear is self-imposed, and that though we may feel like a victim, we are in fact the perpetrator. Therefore the distress is illusory. The forth verse exposes the futility of this panicked inquiry. The fifth verse illuminates that the experience of the future is determined by what we carry into it. The sixth verse speaks to the power of lighting the way through optimism. The seventh verse reaffirms that we have the ability to shape the future, and therefore possess the oracles whereby to glimpse it.

This simple exercise reveals that verse is more than just food for thought. Indeed, we could put our food in a blender and still receive the same nutrition. Instead, we relish the aesthetics of presentation, texture, aroma, and the individual savour of diverse flavors. So it is with verse. Whether it be appreciation for simple cuisine, or a complex gourmet meal tailored towards sophisticated palates, the need to express is the same.

Expression is as fundamental to awareness as the innate dictum of, “I am!” The articulation of the word is a primordial zygote of creativity. The impulse to convey, connect, and disseminate one’s essence, experience, and longing is core to the very nature of sentience.

Poetry reaches into the heart in ineffable ways. Similar to music which speaks below the horizon of conscious thought, poetry represents the first shards of dawning. The splintered light that cracks the heavens to illuminate reality. Rhythm, rhyme, and reason dancing. Words, whispers, and wonderment flashing. Images, impression, and intellect converging. Such is the language of enlightened prose, and the oracle through which it pollinates the mind.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Signing Event for Charity

On August 28, 2010 at the historic Provo Academy Library, our family held a book signing event. It featured the illustrated children’s book Being Different. All proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Takeit2theMax foundation to help little Max Petty’s in his battle with Leukemia.

What started out as a labor of love within our family, quickly spread to perfect strangers. At the drop of a hat Press Media donated the printing services, so that 100% of the sales of the book could go directly to the foundation.

In addition to Being Different, there was a limited quantity of other books on hand for the authors and illustrators to sign. Joseph, Wendy, Amanda, Summer, Susanne, and Roxanna were all there. Max who was undergoing his last session of chemotherapy was unable to attend the entire event, but showed up at the end as a delightful surprise for all. He remains in good spirits, and is an inspiration to everyone.

We'd like to thank all who attended the event and contributed to the cause. A special thanks goes out to Wendy Ahlman who organized the entire event, as well as Sue Petty (Max's grandmother), Craig Petty, (Max's father), and Tiffany Petty (Max's mother) for all of their help.

visit: to order your copy and contribute to the cause.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Family Book Signing

On July 3rd 2010, my family and I had the privilege of participating in a charitable event to raise funds for helping young Leukemia victims. It included a 5k run at the Thanksgiving Point golf course, with breakfast, music and socializing at the clubhouse afterwards, where we also held the first book signing for Being Different--donating all proceeds to the Take it 2 the Max foundation (visit: The event was a great fundraising success.

This foundation was started as a result of Max Petty’s battle with Leukemia--a shock which sent ripples throughout family, friends, and community. (visit: The responses to the needs of this little boy have been amazing.

Aside from daily prayers on his behalf, our family

wanted to do something tangible. With Wendy’s inspiration, my writing, and my children drawing all of the illustrations we created the book, Being Different. We dedicated it to little Max, gave him a signed copy, and pledged the proceeds of sales to helping him conquer his bout with Leukemia.

Then Wendy went to work and approached a local company called, Press Media about the project. Their president Darren Wooden immediately offered to print and donate 250 copies of the book to the endeavor. This eagerness to help a perfect stranger at the drop of a hat moved Wendy almost to tears and we can’t thank Darren and Press Media enough. While they preferred anonymity, we had to insist on thanking them openly. (here’s a link to their website:

A limited supply of these specially printed stitch bound books are still available for $9.95 each. To purchase a copy email: and/or for more information go to

Stay tuned, as we will be posting information on other book signing events.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

New Release: Lost Marbles

I am pleased to announce the release of a new children’s book called, Lost Marbles. This story was originally written over twelve years ago for my daughter Amanda who was three years old at the time. Since then all of my children have enjoyed it as well as many of my wife’s preschool students.

On the surface, Lost Marbles is a story about a boy named Bill, and a girl named Margo who literally bump into each other on the street. Their collision causes both of their sacks of marbles to spill out on the ground and get mixed together. They are then faced with the challenge (along with the reader) to figure out which marbles belong to whom. After sorting their marbles through rational illation, the story ends with an additional amusing conundrum.

Beneath the surface, Lost Marbles is an exercise in logic designed for children using classic inductive and deductive reasoning. It employs a matrix of rules and exceptions which build one upon the other. Herein early deductions provide a means for later deductions. Hence, the choices start off simple, and slowly progress to more difficult problems.

Aside from using basic color recognition schemes, this exercise also tests a child’s perceptive acuity by introducing reflective marbles and transparent marbles. It then switches from visual clues to numeric deduction. Finally, it requires thinking outside the box of rules and assumptions to sleuth the owner of the last orb.

The methodical nature of this exercise illuminates the process of logical inference and breeds confidence in a child’s abilities to ferret out sound conclusions. Of course, with little children this exercise works best when a parent or instructor reads to the children, while supplementing and assessing their understanding of the rules.

In my experience, this exercise unleashes the natural curiosity of children, and their exuberant desire to make sense out of the world around them. Indeed, their innate logic may surprise you.

For More Information visit:

Hard Cover (full color) 11 x 8.5" for US$49.95

Soft Cover (full color) 8 x 6" for US$24.95

Both of these editions can be drop shipped directly to your home or sent as a gift to another. The print on demand process also allows the purchaser to include a special dedication and/or short message to the recipient at the bottom of the title page, (only available on hard cover edition.)

For example:

Special Commemoration:

Given as a gift to John Doe on his 1st day at school. Love, Mom & Dad.

Shipping cost US$9.95 virtually anywhere in the continental United States.

To Place an Order Email:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Child's Play

I am pleased to unveil the completion of my most current project, Child’s Play. This composition was created as a gift for Max Petty. Just a week before he was diagnoses with Leukemia, he spent some time playing over at our house. As fate would have it, the surf movie, Riding Giants was playing, and it captured his imagination. Ever since he has been enamored with the idea of surfing. According to his parents he likes to stand on things around the house and says, “Look mom and dad, I’m surfing!” So a plan was concocted between his parents and I to make a large format hyperreal pictorial of him surfing. This time I wanted to create a giant poster--it is 10,080 x 7,722 pixels.

To begin the process his parents sent me various photos of Max in his swim suit to see if any would work. (see original photo). After selecting the photo, I cut out his image and edited various aspects. Next was the task of coupling it with a 3D wave I rendered. I also built a surfboard from scratch in Photoshop--but that was just the beginning. I had to take several photos of my children with matching shadows, cut them out, edit, and alter them in Photoshop. I also took a photo of a toy Woody and had to turn it into a shiny vintage car. The composition required hundreds of layers, and took nearly a month to complete.

The hyperreal motif is quite a demanding one, with a special set of considerations. It must look good from a distance as well as up close. Reflections, shadows, and other details are important, but you don’t want superfluous details to detract from the main subject (see detailed water drops by Max’s feet). Remember, hyperrealism is not realism--it is beyond realism. The point of hyperrealism is not to mimicking photography. Instead, details should be evident upon close inspection, but must disappear or meld into the whole at a distance.

Incorporating the classic look of painting techniques is very important to my sense of aesthetics as well. (see close-up of Suzy’s face). The painting technique also assists in creating a depth of field. While hyperrealism can afford multiple areas of focused detail. Making everything detailed is not conducive to directing the eye of the viewer. Hence, I often take photos at low resolution, and slightly blur them before using Photoshop filters. This can create more interesting brush strokes. I also create other textural elements like pointillism of the sand which can only be seen up close.

Successfully crafting a hyperreal opus, requires more than typical composition aesthetics, for you are crafting a journey for the viewer to explore. Hence, you must learn ways to direct their gaze and take them where you want them to go. Obviously, the main subject is crucial. This focus can be accomplished simply by cropping the image to feature the main subject without other distractions. (see example of close-up on Max.) But there are also other ways to crop a subject and draw attention, including lighting and focus (ie. creating a depth of field--notice that both the foreground lip and the background wave are blurred, adding depth while accentuating focus on Max).

Another way to crop a subject is to introduce foreground and/or background objects which frame the subject. (see how the palm trees and distant islands frame the main subject.) This also introduces a contextual environment placing the subject in a paradisical setting.

Introducing other objects can further frame the subject and add psychological depth. For example, (see composition with additional elements) the Woody adds a sense of nostalgia, the pier adds a beach community vibe, and the sailboat introduces an ingredient of concomitant activity.

Furthermore, by introducing human activity we generate an emotional element of excitement and begin to tell a story. Nevertheless, it is crucial not to distract from the main subject by a pictorial narrative (see final composition). Notice that everything directs attention to Max surfing: David reaching, Suzy pointing, Roxy turning her head, Amanda shifting attention, etc. Even Summer’s temporary incognizance directs you towards Suzy calling out to her sisters to look. Thus, wherever you look, (though your eyes ping-pong around) it eventually leads to Max nose riding in the tube--you are drawn into the main feature of the epic.

Among the many composition I have created, perhaps this one best personifies the magic I glean from watching my children surf. In my experience, childlike awe psychologically revitalizes the spirit. Seeing life vicariously through their eyes makes me feel young and heightens my awareness.

Hopefully, Max will be able to join us in the water this year, (doctors and parents willing) and partake of surfing’s fountain of youth. For when meeting new challenges become enjoyable, we begin to realize that everything is “Child’s Play.” Such is the drama of surfing.