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Art Show. New Paintings. Fujifilm X100T Camera.

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

My art show at Borderlands opened this week. It’ll run through July 6. We’ll have a reception part on Saturday, June 13, at 3 in the afternoon. We’ll hang out, I’ll do a reading from Journals 1990-2014, and give a little tour of the paintings.

Click for a larger version of the poster.

And here’s a panorama shot of one of the walls in the Borderlands cafe.

Click for a larger version of the pan shot.

Many thanks to Rudy, Jr. and fellow Monkeybrainer Devin for helping me set up. No way could I hang all these paintings alone. You can find prices on my Paintings page.

“The Sage and the Messenger” oil on canvas, May, 2015, 28” x 22”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

Over the last couple of weeks, I finished two new paintings for the show. The Sage and the Messenger relates to a short story I’m working on with Bruce Sterling. One of the characters is sage or hermit who lives inside in a hollowed out spot high up in the trunk of a sequoia tree. And a artificial biotweaked organism comes to bring a message to him. Wanting to lure him into a wild and hare-brained adventure. The messenger iss a thing like biological drone, or like a flying jellyfish. I like the interplay of the expressions among the sage, the jellyfish and the squirrel.

“Cells” oil on canvas, May, 2015, 24” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

About four days before the show I dove into Cells. I had no real idea what I’d paint when I started. First I did an underpainting in acrylic with a heavy gel medium to get some texture, and to have some extra color glowing through. But I don’t like how flat acrylic looks, so I layered an oil painting on top of that. I outlined some blobs in my original painting, and then filled them in to look like living cells. I used a fan brush for the halo effect, and I flicked the bristles of the fan brush to add some life with splattered dots.

A big push.

My old Sony RX100 camera died this month. The telescoping zoom lens seized up and won’t properly go in and out. I’ve had thee or four pocket digital cameras die in this same way. The lens is a definite weak point. When it breaks, it costs almost $200 to fix, so it’s questionable if that’s worth doing. So I decided to get a small “prime lens” camera, that is, a camera with a non-zooming lens. So there’s not the telescoping crap to break.

I sold a couple of paintings this month, so I splurged and went for a Fujifilm X100T. It’s a compact digital camera (despite being called Fujifilm), solid, great lens, solid metal frame, and with a nice old-school look, kind of like a vintage Leica M-Series camera, but at relatively reasonable price. Not a pocket camera, but it’s small and light.

So I’m going around taking lots of pictures. Some reviewers like to gush that the camera is so good that they use the X100T images just as they came out of the camera. Me, I pretty much run every single shot though Lightroom and/or Photoshop. That’s my work flow. That way I can crop, possibly lighten the shadows, maybe sharpen the image or warm the tone. But this particular shot is right out of the camera. A sweet shop.

I call this terrifying “hand puppet” Cousin Millie. I’ve been showing her to my kids and the grandkids for years.

And the camera is automatic enough that you can hand it to someone that the shot comes out good. I’m till learning the ins and outs of fine points of the controls. The (online PDF) manual is well over two hundred pages long.

The thing about walking around looking for shots is that I dig below the smooth familiar reality to find little bits of oddness. A dial with numbers. What might this mean?

You can never go wrong photographing street-workers’ markings on the asphalt.

Midnight in the china closet. The X100T really fills out the three-dimensional space.

Exultant in son Rudy’s car, riding through the Mission after my paintings…with my new shooter in hand.

I’ve photographed these phone/electric/cable lines a dozen or more times over the years. I think this one is better than usual. Thank you Fujifilm!

My grad-school friend Jim Carrig’s son Eamon showed up the other day. I took him to San Jose’s finest fast food stand, named simply Falafel. It’s on Stevens Creek Blvd near Bascom Ave. They’ve been there since 1966. Wonderful, wonderful falafel. Green inside, freshly cooked and mashed beans, crisp on the outside, hot.

Eamon Carrig himself. He’s started a company that’s designing small robotic sail boats. Sailing drones for the high seas.

Weirdly enough a woman reporter named Leona was at Falafel. She’s from LA, but is writing an article on falafel restaurants in California for Brownbook magazine, published in Dubai! Once the sheiks hear about Falafal of San Jose they’ll be jetting in no doubt.


“Dangerous Pass,” Journals, SF Scenes, Talk & Panel

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Today’s eye candy, my latest painting. This one took me about thirty hours, a lot of layers and detail.

“Dangerous Pass” oil and acrylic on canvas, April, 2015, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

I painted Dangerous Pass to help previsualize a scene in my novel Million Mile Roadtrip. My chracters are on an endless world, and they’re migrating from one Earth-sized basin to the next. They have two flying mascots, one is a UFO named Nunu, the other is a blobby creature who calls herself Meatball. My party includes Villy and Zoe in front, being lovers, with Villy just a bit uneasy, and Villy’s younger brother Scud is in back. The cadmium-red Scud is on the alert, and he’s noticing that the stones in this mountain pass are…alive. The composition and vibe of this painting were inspired by Peter Bruegel’s Conversion of St. Paul.

My 828 page book, Journals 1990-2014 is on sale now
* Paperback ($24.95) Amazon.
* (Kindle) ($4.95) Amazon.
* (Kindle and EPUB) ($4.95) via Transreal Books

And you can read a hefty free sample of the Journals as an online webpage.

I’ll be giving a one or two hour talk on the Journals at the so-called “College of Santa Cruz” group on the 3rd floor of the Logos Books building on Pacific Ave in Santa Cruz at 7:15 on Friday, May 1. The door is in the back of the building. Talk title, “Rewriting My Past.”

Oh, and another upcoming event, on Friday, April 24, I’ll be on a Cyberpunk Panel at the University of Southern California in LA. Bruce Sterling, Marc Pauline, and other fellow droids will be there too.

We spent Easter with our son Rudy Jr. and his family. Got a nice big collection of eggs. And endless line. Love the bare feet in this photo, so human.

We also went to our grandson’s third birthday party at Rudy’s house. They have a toy plastic play house and they put up a towel so the kids could “fish” by holding a line over the towel and getting, maybe, a kid-drawn paper fish in the clothespin at the end of the line. This image is like a Fairyland tollbooth.

Sylvia and I stayed in downtown SF for two nights for my 69th (!) birthday. At the cute Hotel Boheme in North Beach. We hit the recently refurbished Coit Tower. This mural is bird related.

Another shot of son Rudy’s patio. I like the plants and the toys. It’s like a diorama of life in the early 21st century. All the picture needs is people.

The top of Coit tower has a nice open feel, with high arches and the open sky. Some of the little windows around the bottom open up and you can breathe in that high ocean-scented air.

Branches on the floor of an old growth redwood grove. Like calligraphy.

We saw this on another trip, this one up to Occidental, CA—a spot I’d never visited, between Sebastopol and Bodega Bay. A friend of mine, Roger House, and his wife Marylu Downing let us use their AirBnb cabin for two nights. (More photos of this trip in a later post.) I got to know Roger as he proofread the Journals. He has a great eye for typos. And another of my friends, Michael Troutman did copy-editing and fact-checking, helping to get the proper names spelled right, as well as picking up the remaining typos.

View from Coit Tower. Click for a larger version of the panorama.

SF really isn’t a very large city, but it’s a gem.

I always like getting out of the house.

It’s good to finally have the Journals done.


Mojo Working. JOURNALS Funded.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

I got my writing mojo back, returned from the underworld one more time, and I’m busy with my next novel Million Mile Roadtrip again, piling on the eyeball kicks, the unlikely incidents, and the rude dialog. Having fun with it. Kicking with my third hip. Like a Puppeteer, if you remember those three-legged guys from Niven’s classic Ringworld.

Here’s my current design for the cover for my Journals. You can click on it to make it bigger. I made it to the fundraising goal for my Kickstarter drive a couple of days ago. Many thanks to you kind and generous souls out there.

The odd thing is that, financially at least, I do better by self-publishing my books and running Kickstarters for them. Which is not to say that I might not go back to a commerical publisher for Million Mile Roadtrip — which is meant to be a book that can sell into the young adult market. At least that’s what I think, but publishers have been known to disagree with my judgements! I’ll have to see what happens. Even if I do have a commercial option for it, I may ultimately go the Kickstart / self-pub route anyway. In any case, Million Mile Roadtrip won’t be done till late this fall at the earliest. My characters are still just fixing up their car and they’ve got…a million miles to go.

Last week my wife and I hit this ancient North Beach bar called the Saloon. They have live blues there all the time and real x-section of people…not techs and yups all that much. Brown people in the mix.

I loved this one Hawaiian couple sitting at the bar near us. At some point, with no change of expression, the woman gets up and starts dancing—or, rather, making ritualized dance gestures with her arms, forearms up, forearms down. Love the dance gesture.

The band (Johnny Nitro and the Doorslammers) played one long, mostly instrumental, song with the chorus, “I’ll take you there,” and indeed the music did take me “there” to a land of peace and zonkfulness and clear white light.

“Saucer Hall” oil and acrylic on canvas, February, 2015, 30” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

And then I turned around and used that song/experience in a new chapter for my novel called “Saucer Hall.” I love it when the real world snaps right on top of whatever I’m writing. The muse in action.

Contact sheet of some images to appear in my online Photo Supplement for my JOURNALS. Click for a gigundo zoomable version of the sheet.

If I can raise a little more dough for my Journals, I’ll put in the time to make an online photo supplement with lots of photos to plug into the text.

At this point in tech, it’s not practical to put the photos into the paperback/hardback or into the ebooks. For a print book, it makes the books too long and too unwieldy to edit, and for the ebooks, it makes the file too big to comfortably download. So I’ll just figure out some kind of web site design for posting the images.

Saw all these people digging for beach glass in Davenport, CA, last month. Like sea turtles laying eggs. Maybe the beach was, in the old days, a dump? (Thus the profusion of glass.) Always interesting to see a crowd of humans intent on something like this.

Hadn’t been to Davenport in awhile. Love the water-sculpted rocks, and the patterns of the seaweed. Mother nature, always the greatest artist of all.


My Journals Project.

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

So I’m about to launch a new book, my Journals 1990-2014 written over the last twenty-five years. The finished volume is as long as three or four novels combined. A long-running adventure. Kind of tour of my life.

Me in 2004 leading students in Geneseo, NY, on a “reality tour” including the house where my novel White Light is set.

Editing the Journals was a pleasant, nostalgic exercise—and it’s given me a clearer idea about what kind of person I am. The image above shows an early marked-up draft proof, which has a different cover from the final version. The final cover is more like the one in the image below.

As I often do these days, I’m publishing the new book via Transreal Books, and I’m running a Kickstarter drive to raise money for it. If you sign up there, you get an ebook, paperback, or hadback—it’s not so different from placing an advance order. The books will be going out in May or June.

I made a nice video for the drive.

One of my inspirations was The Diaries of Franz Kafka: 1910-1923. I love Kafka’s spontaneous surrealism and his intimate tone. Another model is the mammoth Andy Warhol Diaries. I found Warhol’s book hypnotic. A portrait of a certain time.

What’s in my Journals?

Introspection and philosophizing. I turn to my journals when I’m undergoing a personal crisis—I find it calming to write what’s on my mind. And I’m always looking for a easy path to enlightenment.

Journalism. I like to describe the things that I see going on in the daily world around me. I’ve always enjoyed Jack Kerouac’s practice of using words to sketching the scene around me as it’s going on.

Travel. I’m particularly likely to work on my journals when I’m on the road or on a day-trip. I have many series of entries in San Francisco, New York, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific.

Writing notes. As a transrealist, I like seeing the world in terms of science-fiction, casting daily events as ideas for my books. It’s hard to keep writing year after year, and sometimes in my notes I’m encouraging myself to keep at it. Here’s a page listing my books and software whose creation is described in the Journals.

To give you a fuller overview, I’ve posted an extensive table of contents as well.

I don’t expect many people to read my hefty Journals straight through. Dipping in is fine. And of course the ebook versions of the book will be searchable.

Another approach might simply be for you to root around, subliminally guided by the muse. You’ll find what you need.


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