20 November 2014

Terminus Pinacatix

Camping on an other-worldly lava flow in Mexico inspired thoughts of targets, portals, and interdimensional travels. Earth symbols surrounded by life symbols in a star chart. This fantasy of looking through the the windscreen of my interstellar ship with targeting interface has me thinking a lot about interface in art. Controls, symbols, maps having internal meaning. Don't hate the interface, become the interface. I admit, I catch myself dreaming of punching radio buttons, pulling scroll bars, and watching lines of code spill into the screen. Oh great RGB, have mercy on me.

Crow Quill and India ink, digitally colored. This will go to print for my next show. From here I move back into painting.

Terminus Pinacatix

13 October 2014

Desert Museum Installation

If you've been to the 'cave' exhibit at the Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson Arizona in the last year, you might have seen an installation I created. It's a touch screen interface concerning subjects of climate change that mirrors on a large video screen. I built it in Flash as a stand-alone application, designed the interface and edited all the video included. Working with Earth Knowledge, the museum staff, and oversight of NASA who's grant made it possible, I'm pretty proud of the outcome. (There was no money to document the piece so I put this together with my iPhone.)

04 September 2014

New Portfolio Website

I think this is the 5th personal site redesign I've created since I hit the internet.  It doesn't go back as far as 2000ish, but Internet Archive Wayback Machine has bits and pieces of it from over the years.

The biggest plus is that my website and blog are now hand in hand.  It feels good to have all the galleries up. I had all my paintings scanned so I can have nice large closeups of the work. I like the dynamic article feature on the front page because it allows you to navigate visually.

The site was to originally to have a massive background video.  Yes video!  My better instincts eventually shut that idea down.  Too troublesome, too much loading, and too distracting.  I'm inspired to make some video shorts and interactive pieces eventually after that whole experience.

In the next 6 months, I should have a good collection of prints for sale. The first edition is in the mail right now and I can hardly wait to see it! So the site will also have a simple store on it for things like that.

Go take a look:


10 August 2014

Triax Prima

This is worked from a photo I took in the Glen Canyon Dam area in 2004.  I'm sure the water level is even lower 10yrs later.  I featured this landscape in my Future Primitive project being taken by the nearly all rock landscape.

I've been fascinated with man-made infrastructure in natural locations since back when I was reading everything J.G. Ballard.  Industrial imprint on landscape seems almost natural and honest.  I get a sort of "It is what it is," feeling from it.  At the same time, something as large as the dam still seems as transitory as any other natural system, like the fracturing and erosion of the surrounding rock formations.  I'm still not sure what it means.  The image could be read as a 60's triumph of technology over nature.  The image could be read as a warning considering the obvious lowered water level.

There are monumental energies stored in this place.  The hovering glyphs I see as Earth powered in an elemental language.  I pioneered a new technique in this painting.  Brush marks in a cross hatching method usually reserved for drawing.  I've started on a new painting which continues the theme with a number of radio and television transmitting towers in landscape.

"Triax Prima" by Tom Baumgartner, 32" x 16" oil on panel.

25 June 2014

Obelix Havasupai

Obelix Havasupai Closeup
I've been working with some graphic symbols that came out of a vector-based automatic writing set of sessions.  Thinking about letters, sigils, symbols and am exploring their meaning more specifically now. Maybe they are part of a larger symbology.  Maybe part of a mandelic pantheon of universal balance.  Maybe part of a personal psychological system like tarot.  The world-building continues...

The symbols used in this one are geologic, stone, earth-like.  A cube shape has been haunting me so I built one from the symbols themselves.  Could be a 3-dimensional sentence.  Could be a set of dice.  Could be keys turned to access another realm.  I want to explore this concept further.  I keep tuning into an "Ancient Future" feeling that has a lot of juice and I'm scurrying down the rabbit hole after it.

I worked from a photo I took while riding a helicopter out of Havasu Falls, a tributary of the Grand Canyon.  All the inking is done with a Crow Quill and india ink.  I listened to "Kafkaesque", an hour-long ambient drone piece of music by Australian artist "Soul in limbo" over and over again while working on it.  So, I guess that might be the soundtrack.

Obelix Havasupai

17 March 2014


Doing a sketch for a new drawing, halfway through a slow-going landscape painting (needing 4 hour blocks of time at a shot) and 5 other inks that need coloring, I decided to finish up coloring on Canix tonight.  Based on a oil painting of the coyote-headed man, but this time in a landscape.  I don't get a huge amount of feedback on my inks, but I draw what I want to see.  I've come to accept my scratchy technique and like it a lot.  Maybe this will develop.

13 January 2014


I was offered a show at Art House Centro in Tucson and had a little over a month to get some work together.  I decided to extend the one painting series I had started two years ago that started with "Cervidex," an image of a man with a deer head.  Continuing on the therianthropic path with Ardeidix, Timidix, Canix, and Astutix.  My pantheon of deities all end in "X."  These are my first attempts at figure painting, which is hard for me, which is why I think I avoided it for so long, or until I had the skills.  Always had the ideas, but not the skills.  Turned out to be kind of a mental trick along the lines of "you can paint realistic rocks, the figure is just a weird rock."

So a human with an animal head is a common theme throughout history and presently for that matter.  I am thinking more about variations on the Green Man than Egyptian gods like Osiris, Horus and Anubis.  Spirits of the natural world.  Although I have so much interest recently in mythology, arcane magic, psionics and ancient texts etc., I see these characters appearing in real life now, not in historic situations.  I see a naked, hyper intelligent God with a deer head materializing in front of me with beams of energy washing out of them.  Now.  The embodiment of natures' power and personality, warning, or simply stating their existence in the parking lot, in an abandoned gravel lot, on a path in the desert, on a mountain top.  I see them now, in 2014 while my iPhone notifies me of a text message.

I still feel like all of my artistic efforts are moving towards a publication, and I'm afraid of straying from that subject.  The Sutra of Tranquility.  This book appears to those ready to study out of thin air when summoned.  Filled with abstract patterns, complex diagrams, strange characters, and indecipherable text, the reader comes away with a sense of calm they can call upon the rest of their life.  A fantasy object I can't tear my mind away from but I feel like I'm the one to author it.


28 October 2013


Ran into this randomly and then it turns out to be a huge community with hundreds of thousands of users that participate.  Never heard of it but love the concept, and pretty much everything about it and the fact that the internet creates things like this.  Helps that it's pretty weird too.

ASMR stands for: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.  The phenomenon refers to certain sensory stimulus, usually auditory, that create a sort of itchy-orgasmic sensation in your scalp-brain-upper-neck area.  (Meridian is supposed to mean orgasmic, though I thought it meant a brain structure of some kind like right-left.)  In most cases, it puts subjects into a hypnotic, relaxed state unlike anything else.  It can cure insomnia, anxiety and most things within this realm of psychic ill.

ASMR enthusiasts started talking about the effect back in 2008, realized other people felt it and started banding together under the preface that only some people actually experience it.  They are all adamant that the effect is different from hearing an inspirational piece of music that may alter your mood and make the hair stand up on the back of your neck in a euphoric response.

I wasn't even sure of the effect until I experienced it myself.  Watching a video of numerous 'triggers', a man lightly tapped his fingernails on the back of a clipboard and my brain went crazy.  It was between itching, tickling and pleasure.  Less on the pleasure side and definitely not relaxing.  Definitely happened.  Definitely strong.  Something someone might get addicted to.

Science hasn't logged in on this one yet, but Yale School of Medicine is looking into it with a study this year.  Of the theories I've read, the most plausible is the infant experience.  Sounds that calmed you while an infant trigger relaxation.  Quiet whispering from a female voice, cloth or skin rubbing sounds, ears touched, and hair brushing are among the most common relaxing sounds.

ASMR enthusiasts sometimes run into triggers accidentally.  This random YouTube video attracted the attention of ASMR experiencers because of its' low, slow English accented voice and cloth sounds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4l4khCUnIM

The community has spawned a group of ASMRartists that are talented in video and do non-sexual roleplaying scenarios meant to relax you.  The community got flack for a while when the YouTube public thought it was some kind of perverted sex thing.

The best videos include binaural audio.  Not an easy thing to pull off.  Trance and ambient music artists pioneered this effect of two microphones or complex mixing that imitates sounds moving around and inside your head.  The realism is something you've probably not experienced outside of a movie theatre.

This whole subject has got me thinking.  Since ASMR is different for everyone, what if you could hack your own brain response?  Collect your personal set of sounds that relax or stimulate you.  Collect the sounds and have them at the ready on your cell phone to play at will.  Immediately change your mood!

I don't think anyone is unique in experiencing this effect, it's just a matter of finding out your own triggers.  For the most part, I find the roleplaying videos extremely relaxing even if they aren't giving me the "experience."

At this point, all you have to do is search "ASMR" on YouTube.  Here's a couple of my favorites:

This next one has the video preview disabled because it's near a million hits and YouTube is going to start charging for popular videos.  But you gotta check it out: