Green, Yellow, Black

March 2, 2012

So. As I recall all the parents were coming to see us kids at summer camp. Or at least a goodly proportion. Whether or not I remember it correctly, I recall that our parents had said they would be coming to see us. Summer camp was intolerably long and more like Lord of the Flies than you could possibly imagine. That’s really not an exaggeration of the experiences that took place at camp but not really the point of this story, either.

In actuality the camp probably lasted weeks but seemed to last the entire summer. 

So naturally, a chance to see our parents was a huge deal. They were all coming up from Chicago on a school bus. You know. The standard yellow and black ones with the green vinyl seat covers and rigid 90 degree back supports and absolutely no suspension so that you’d feel every bump of the road.  The camp itself was somewhere up in Wisconsin so it was probably a 2 to 4 hour drive to get there.

Whether it was false hope instilled by the camp staff or just a supreme desire to see our parents, once all the adults got off the bus and our parents were not there – I was crushed. Completely and totally shocked. I was sure they would come to see us. (Us being me and my sister)

On its surface that may not seem like much but it really meant everything to me. In fact, I don’t think I have ever been more disappointed in my entire life. I felt sad, angry and abandoned. The level of hatred I felt toward my parents was profound. This was the moment that I consciously began to run away from my feelings. There were probably instances earlier on that just made this my personal breaking point. In fact, I am sure of it. However, this was where I drew the line in the sand and said I was never going to get hurt like that again. In other words, I just stopped trusting. That would have been ’75, ’76, or ’77.  So somewhere between the ages of 5-7. That’s pretty young to be hardening up.

By the way, this was the same camp where I ran away for four days and camped in the woods till they found me. So, fair to say I was pretty angry.

When I paint a picture of that day in my mind, I remember a large field of green and yellow grass and the bright yellow/black of the school bus. It would have been hot. And I feel as though I stood looking at that empty school bus, alone, surrounded by the grass.

Now. At 42 steering into the direction of greatest fear literally means learning to feel again. That’s a bit of an exaggeration but not entirely. Which is to say I do actually feel. It just takes me a while to process those feelings. So I’m moving at a slower pace than the rest of you. The good thing is I am a fast learner. Bright too. So, I’m confident this will get figured out.





Anatomical Adaptation

February 22, 2012

It’s basically like starting all over again. Whatever you did yesterday really does not count for all that much. It may have some marginal effect on the speed it takes to get back into living but really, after 2.5 years of erratic exercise, I am a beginner. Again. No assumptions. Eyes wide open.

Slowly your body starts to adapt to the shape of the bike. Little aches and pains return as the pedals go round. Legs flood with lactic acid from the training session the day before and the day before that. The smile that creeps across your face is genuine and happens for no reason.

You know it has been a while when the thing that aches the most are the sit bones. It takes a good week before that pain goes away and it is the thing that ultimately limits your volume. That’s when you know it’s been too long. When you cannot even sit on your bike for more than 45 minutes.

Before you can really start to ride again, you have to learn to trust what your body/mind is telling you. You get more in touch with who you are and where things are going in life. Your appetites start to return and food starts to taste better. Kisses are more sensual (even virtual ones).

The depression is still there. That’s the bitch of the bunch. Things are finally going right and you cannot escape that feeling of sadness. Reframing helps. Still. There is a finality to it like, “This is it”. Either ride or take a taxi to the loony bin and spare the world your crap.

We all have things that help us cope with this crazy world. Mine is my bike and when it’s neglected the outcome is almost always a poor one. The other things that help me are the visualizations of my kids and what they’re up to. A long distance whisper from my girlfriend. Visualizing our space somewhere on this big blue marble. The sound of a #2 pencil etching its mark onto a virgin sheet of drawing paper. The satisfaction of a good days work. Scratching Pete behind his ears and seeing that look of absolute joy on his face.

Slowly this time.

Beginners mind.


February 22, 2012

Mother, you had me
But I never had you
I wanted you
But you didn’t want me
I got to tell you

Father, you left me
But I never left you
I needed you
But you didn’t need me
I just got to tell you

Children, don’t do
What I have done
I couldn’t walk
And I tried to run
I got to tell you

Mama don’t go
Daddy come home
Mama don’t go
Daddy come home
Mama don’t go
Daddy come home
Mama don’t go
Daddy come home


February 19, 2012

For me. Nothing gives me a bigger kick in the ass around my depression than facing my own mortality. #fuckyoudepression


February 16, 2012

I like these little paintings.


February 16, 2012

I really do enjoy making oatmeal for breakfast. It has taken on something of a ritualistic significance for me.  After, what? Say 30 years of making oatmeal for myself you think I would feel confident that I know what I am doing. Yet I am always striving for an economy of movement and complete attention to detail. It is the most simple thing I do in a day and yet the act is infinite in its complexity.


And it’s tasty – too.

Ever Feel Like…

February 15, 2012

Days like this have me questioning just what it takes to get it right. 


February 13, 2012

There are less painful paths toward enlightenment. I choose costly ones. It is time to start making economical choices.


February 13, 2012

I listened to the Red State podcast ( on a recent trip back to Ontario.  Actually, I must have listened to the entire suite twice through. It always fascinates me to hear about the genesis of someone’s  idea because you never know where the idea is going to come from or ultimately what form it will take but the ideas are there germinating, waiting to take hold.

As much as those podcasts kept me alert while driving across eastern Montana and North Dakota, they actually taught me quite a bit about acting, which was an unexpected bonus.

If you have listened to the podcasts you’ll know that for Kevin Smith, the genesis of Red State began when he saw Michael Park’s performance in From Dusk Till Dawn.  All he knew was that he wanted to work with an actor of  Parks abilities.  That was the starting point for Red State, a performance so subtle that it slipped under the radar for just about everyone, except for a few highly trained eyes. 

I usually watch movies in my studio while I am working, which is to say I listen to movies. In other words, I am not a student of acting and could not really tell brilliant acting from a hatchet job.  So I wanted to see if I could see what Smith saw and at first I did not get it. The second time through, still did not get it. Third time through I was questioning his integrity when it hit me. You really do forget that Parks is acting.

So I watched the clip a fourth time. This time with the sound turned off and my focus dialed in on every nuance of Park’s performance, except his words. Then I got it.  I saw what Smith saw or at least I think I understand. Parks acting so dissolved into his role that you completely believe what is going on.

I strive to paint this way.

I strive to coach this way.

Coming out of a long dark tunnel

February 13, 2012

I am a lapsed details guy. Meaning I strive for perfection then somewhere along the line, I just say fuckit. It’s good enough. Or incorporate the mistakes into the work and try to make it look like it was done on purpose.

Floyd Landis Jersey

Floyd's 2005 Tour jersey.

When I really go for the details in my work, the results are usually to my liking but I don’t know that I’ll ever be satisfied. There is always a way to improve something. Always a way to make it better. Always a way to move forward.

I think the Beastie Boys said it best. “As long as I’m learning, I’m makin’mistakes.”

The jersey series continues on at a blistering slow pace. I will be drawing again by the 15th. It’s important to keep this work going.

Rather than agonizing over the mistakes, I think it is time to make more mistakes in the drawings. No one gets it right the first time. Or the second. Or even the third.

I want the mistakes to become very fabric that holds the drawings together.

Linus and Jeremy. These jersey drawings are for you. There will be a whole mess of them and when I die you can have ’em.

Love you both.