10 August 2015


The Cardón, Mexican Giant Cardon, Elephant Cactus... you get the idea that it's a really big cactus. Similar to the Saguaro but with branching much like a tree. I spent time camping on the edge of a forest of Cardón spending periods of time hanging out in their shade or wandering among them along the shore of the Sea of Cortez in a place called Punto Cirio in Sonora Mexico.

Cardón as big as a house.
Considering it can take 75-100 years for a Saguaro to grow one arm, I marveled at the age and castle-like presence of these giants. When I came across this particular one, I spent a lot of time circling and photographing it. A quarter mile from the shoreline, I imagined what processes shape its' life. Sun, intermittent breezes and stormy gales from the sea, desert/sea birds living among it's branches and every night the Milky Way slowly spinning through the sky. That's what hooked me, this creature's sense of time as it moves through the seasons and it's distant relationship with the ageless cosmos every night. That is why there is a diagram of a section of the Milky Way superimposed on the background in my drawing.

Continuing with this series of cyber-natural-ancient-future landscapes, I may move on to close-up scale of objects. Either way, I love this process of ink and digital colorizations. I also love that I can share these prints at a very inexpensive price.

26 June 2015

Corvux Bigelow

Last year about this time, I was hiking around Mt. Bigelow. I was struck by how sound carries around up there, the radio towers and the primitive feel of the pines. My consciousness was altered in a way that I can't quite put my finger on. I spent most of the day circling around the peak hunting a composition and stopping for periods in the shade to get a feeling of place. There were workmen climbing the towers doing maintenance. You could hear their walkie talkies going off. A band of ravens perched near me and started speaking. Normal low squawks, bumpy chuckles and sometimes almost human noises.

This is an expansion of the therianthropy series of 5 paintings I did last year. The artwork is 16" x 32" in oil. I completed this in March but it took a while for me to go and get it scanned. My next paintings will be smaller, around 11"x17". I have a show in September with Mykl Wells at Michael Contreras Gallery, so I'll be busy this summer.

08 April 2015

Pinacatix Senita

The Pinacate region of Mexico is so unique in the Sonoran Desert I think I'll be doing a number of pieces from the region. Ancient volcanic lava flows created ridges and eddies in the landscape forming little walled gardens. Roaming through them is like being in the backyard of a master gardener.

I was struck by the strength and royal presence of the Senita cactus. It's interesting how the bottom of the stems crawl away from the center, laying on the ground and push up. Weird but it looks like it's very comfortable on the desert floor.

Following this ancient sci-fi aesthetic, I've used slow arcing arrows to mimic the sense of growing up and out, and the circulation of life force all around the cactus. I'm trying to be subtle with this commentary because the true focus is nature itself. This one was pretty fun!

01 March 2015

Subjects of Recent Interest

Extinction Aesthetic - Tom Baumgartner
Extinction Symbol. Dark Extropianism. Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Dark Mountain. Uncivilisation. In The Dust Of This Planet. Health Goth. Accelerationism. After Nature/Dark Ecology/Ecognosis. Early signals: The New Nihilism, Speculative Realism, Neoreaction, Occulture. Cusp: Toxic Internet. Post-Westphalian. Developing (if only in my own low-powered head.  Picking black flowers early in the day).
-Warren Ellis

I just love lists. The following are my discoveries and trails of referential mania sparked by Warren's list.

Extinction Icon

Extinction Aesthetic / Dark Ecology

The human catastrophe has already happened, we're just watching the fallout. World history is a series of overlapping catastrophes and periods of stasis. What kind of culture develops and dresses for the funeral of planet Earth? A gothic one obsessed with death of course. Curl up on the couch with some strong black tea and have some extinction fiction or dim the lights and indulge in some doom porn.

Though I'm optimistic we will squeak by to the next step of evolution, medals given out to charitable tech billionaires and citizen scientists, it won't happen until we finally see ourselves as not separate from nature. This threw me out into some art aesthetic philosophy by Timothy Morton. We set nature high on a pedestal away from ourselves. Ecology is it's replacement, dark ecology, where we face the grim reality of where our meat comes from and the cell phone in your pocket is why there's a giant hole in the ground somewhere - the invisible meshes every living being is involved in. Not in a hippie-dippy energy way, but in a direct, Newtonian engineering sort of way.

Health Goth

I love birthing creative movements like this. Living on the space station, or maybe being on part of the colonization team, what do you wear? The most comfortable clothes with the most hi-tech materials and design are in the world of sports. Is there such a thing as formal, dark sportswear? Yes there is. I love the inventiveness of asymmetrical zippers, one-legged compression pants, sleeves with thumb holes, silky synthetics, adjustable shock running shoes without laces and faux corsets. It always makes sense to have your clothing work for you. With my Brandoesque physique, I'm not jumping on this trend-subculture any time soon, but my inner futurian wants it bad.

Though is there more than just limiting your fashion to black and white? There is a tech savvy, weaponized intelligence about it. A youth culture digerati expressing elite skills through their functional fashion. Part ninja, part hacker, part cyborg, part athlete. Transhumanism fetish.

Apocalyptic Witchcraft

Peter Grey walks you through an exhaustive history of magick and witchcraft building a case for an edge society who are ultimately the defenders of the earth. Feared by societies that found nature to be the source of all evil, they were unjustly scapegoated and marginalized for their clear vision. Presently, Grey throws artists, musicians, and writers into this edge group. Grey calls for a revolutionary defense of Mother Nature, Earth-First style. Although my personal exploration of magick revealed the multiple crossovers it has with art, I'm not convinced that grass-roots sit-ins and terrorist-like acts in the name of conservation do any good. Legal action, although not the most creative tool in the tool box, is the one that usually gets things done.

This got me thinking about counter culture and it's influence on the culture at large. Look at the alt culture obsession with the "Authentic," a reaction to mass marketing and lack of quality. Now we have in-house brewed beer and in-house roasted coffee beans served to you on rough solid wood tables in bare brick rooms. A restaurant cheese platter served on something other than a raw slab of wood or stone is highly suspect as to it's quality. I haven't cracked any new idea here but I am suggesting you might have more influence on the society as a whole by effecting society in your community. Even if you aren't political, your choices in life are, and being a creative person is a pretty big statement.

Object Oriented Ontology

Another book by Timothy Morton, Realist Magic, introduces some ideas that have a flavor of an almost alien intelligence, or at least a digital one. Object Oriented programming/scripting has a naming convention like: "TucsonMap.MapRenderer.MapPage" : "Inside the map page is the map renderer and we are focusing on the Tucson map in relation to those"; a way of dealing with hierarchies that lets you get as granular as you want. Now think of "GraniteShard.Cliff.CrystalMesa" and you can see the concept of how every object is defined by its' relation to other objects, but this is when things start to go down the rabbit hole.

Objects are elusive with self contained archeologies that will never be known. A 'pebble' was once a 'cliff' was once a 'volcano' was once a 'sea floor'. A bird might have picked up the pebble and dropped it from miles away. Eventually the pebble will become sand. If you exposed the pebble to radiation, to acids, intense cold, ate it and ran it through your digestive track, would you know it any better? This is the magickal aspect of reality, we know much less about it than it is. And yeah, ideas and concepts are objects too.

This is less about "How much of a table can I cut away until it isn't a table anymore?" than "Everything you can think of is completely unique and completely unknowable at the same time." Processes are more permanent than objects. Knowing the nature of nature lives more in the mystic realm.


Automatic writing is nothing new and many artists practice it today. Working with my own set of symbols in my artwork, I'm still playing with what they mean. I'm beginning to think they are in relation to natural forces and am slowly teasing out how that works.

Diane Slattery documents her journey into automatic writing, communicating with aliens and art while under the influence of hallucinogens. I love reading about other peoples' trips, and her story is pretty far out, but I'm more interested in the ideas that came out of her exploration. Life, with it's massive alphabet of DNA, is made up of language. Diane started seeing a set of symbols she named "Glide." When they are grouped together they become larger symbols of things. Sounds like a sentence or a paragraph? Her symbols (or one symbol that changes) are animated and change through time. They are not only covering everything she sees in her visions, they are everything. Anyway, I'm not done with this book but it's some nice mysterious candy to chew on.

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.