Sunday, December 31, 2023

Brushstrokes and Shutter Clicks

A journey of experimentation in painting and photography becomes a dance between colors and shadows, brushstrokes and shutter clicks. 

In the realm of my photography, each new technique is a portal to uncharted territories promising a visual adventure that transcends the familiar.  A click of the camera becomes a brushstroke on the canvas of my visual narrative, weaving together my unique story.

Mastering new lighting situations, experimenting with unconventional angles, intentionally blurring images with hand movement, creating double images in the camera or delving into the world of photoshop, the process of discovery is my constant companion.

Joy lies in the unpredictability of the outcome, the serendipitous moments when a blend of techniques gives rise to a photograph that echoes the essence of my artistic soul. It's about pushing boundaries, embracing the unknown, and allowing creativity to flourish. 

As a painter and photographer, the synergy between the two crafts fuels a perpetual cycle of inspiration. For years I have experimented as painter and photographer, using my talents to bring artistry to images I make on canvas and with a camera. Decades of dedication to both disciplines only serve to enhance the thrill of creative adventure. The well of creativity seems deep, and does not diminish. 

And now I am jumping into the world of artificial intelligence, or AI. I have only just begun, but immediately find the results astonishing. I understand computer work is all only numbers and code and will not replace what I accomplish by hand. Yet, as I say this, I am cognizant that I have only been using digital cameras now for about twenty years. When a picture is taken and recorded on a chip, it is all numbers.  Then it can be read by computers which translate information into actual images that can be printed. 

AI creation with touch-up editing in photoshop

Ultimately, my thrill of discovery in photography is a celebration of my artistic spirit's boundless curiosity. It's the joy of finding beauty in unexpected places, capturing fleeting moments that resonate with emotion, and continuously evolving my artistic journey. The same is true of my ever evolving artwork in paints. Since moving to Mexico my subject matter has changed dramatically⏤from exuberant landscapes, I have gone to gritty spectral images of skeletons. Though now I have gone back to still life and portraits. But it can change at any time. I am not so much painting for the public anymore It is for my soul. 

"Victory of War" oil on linen

AI creation with touch-up editing in photoshop

Excitement of discovery is my lifelong companion.

Sunday, December 17, 2023


Just being alive is exciting, and my perception is that THE DREAM is a single entity. In other words, every moment is part of the one preceding it, and the one to come. I do not divide them but live in the universal. The present time gives me all that I need.   From My FairyTale Life, February 07, 2010 

Dal Lake, Reflections from a houseboat. Kashmir India

During all of the year 2008 I travelled solo around the globe, completely circling the earth, mostly going eastward. I had so many fabulous adventures. They became part of this blog, which I call My Fairy-Tale Life. From the start of the sojourn, my consciousness shifted from deliberate planning to more of observer in a state of flux. The constant flow of surprising sights and sounds in unknown environments left me feeling as if I lived in a dream. This is what I adopted as normal⏤THE DREAM.

Me with Ash. I rented a houseboat from him on Dal Lake, in Kashmir, India. 10/2008

When traveling ended and routine life resumed, I noticed also my perceptions and consciousness slipped back to occupation with matters of health, income, community and family. Thoughts became compartmentalized again. Occasionally I remembered that I am dreaming in real life, but the sensation would go away as exigencies required attention.

Lately I have been reading passages from my days of being totally in THE DREAM. True now as it was then, living in Mexico I can see that THE DREAM has wonderful gifts. The lesson is to be grateful under all circumstances, not discriminate, and see that each experience is woven into all other experiences creating the fabric of existence called life.

Returning to the sea of life

Quotes from My Fairy-Tale Life, spanning years:

Life cannot be held, only experienced. To try and hold it is when we realize it is but a dream. - December 06, 2015

I shook off notions of nationality, race, wealth—all the usual prejudices that are obstacles to oneness. The more I let go, the more I realized the world is phenomenal, fluid—and ever shifting sands. -April 08, 2018

My mind shifted from analysis and planning to complete acceptance of the moment. I began having total trust in what was being presented to me, seeing the gift of life everywhere and in everything. Opportunities arose and I had no fear because I did not live with feelings of opposition or separateness. My surroundings and I were one, and as events unfolded and I met people, the experiences were more profound because I was open to them—even expecting them. Events and consciousness seemed continuous and woven together, full of wonder and surprise—as if in a dream. I was the dreamer bearing witness. 

Thoughts and emotions are not permanent. I have been looking to a higher reality to gain perspective—to find immutable truth. Everything depends on it or else falls apart. My life has come undone so I have been ardently going to the place of truth, longing only to stay in that sacred temple. The more I am there, the more I see that THE DREAM is not only the fleeting occurrences all around me, but the terrain of my mind as well. Truth is independent of mind, beyond time and space. I am not talking about relative truth but rather the absolute: God, the uncreated Creator Who dwells in all, and is first recognized by our souls. - April 05, 2015

THE DREAM, to me, is a function of consciousness and interpretation of perceptions. I prefer not to interpret and judge my experiences but rather live them entirely as to “know” them. THE DREAM goes before me and I trust it because it is myself, in dialogue with God. -November 21, 2009

Dar Timitar, El Kelaa M'gouna, Morocco
Dar Timitar, El Kelaa M'gouna, Morocco

“We must give up the life we had planned in order to accept the one that is waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell

For more: THE DREAM writing

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Testament to Magic

On Sundays we offer free art sessions including materials and refreshments to our neighbor children in San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, Mexico. The projects have been ongoing for three years now and at times we have struggled to come up with new ideas. The kids delight in creating something and taking their artwork home. At times we have given them crafts to paint and embellish. Our latest effort is finishing an alebrije. Mexican Alebrije´s are hand carved wooden sculpture of fantastical (fantasy/mythical) creatures that are brightly colored with designs.

Two alebrijes  from our collection by the Jimenez family 

Last Friday Amy and I went with a new found American friend who lives in our village and drove an hour to Ocatlán, a bigger town nearby Oaxaca. Ocatlán's Friday market is a tapestry of culture, offering everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to handcrafted textiles, arts & crafts, and livestock for sale or barter. Our quest on this particular Friday was to delve into the world of alebrijes, the whimsical, fantastical creatures carved from wood that have become emblematic of Mexican folk art. We sought hand carved, unpainted alebrijes that local craftspeople make and sell. We wanted unfinished ones for our children to paint. Unpainted and awaiting transformation, the wooden canvases held the potential for magic. Bees, turtles, dogs, and rabbits awaited their metamorphosis into alebrijes. Our friend had told us we must arrive early because items sell out fast. By 7:30 AM we had a collection of carvings from several artisans.

Jo, buying a rabbit (conejo)

Family of carvers

The market is a thrill so we browsed, then went to an early lunch at a nearby livestock bazaar where locals sat under tents eating traditional fare.

With our newly acquired treasures in tow, we eagerly returned home to share the enchantment on Sunday with our neighbor children. Our plan was simple yet filled with creativity and joy – we would guide the children in painting these wooden creatures, infusing them with magical colors that would bring them to life to be transformed into true alebrijes.

Unpainted carvings

Sunday the children dipped their brushes into a palette of vivid colors, unleashing their imagination onto the wooden canvases. Laughter echoed through the air as wooden bees, turtles, dogs, and rabbits were transformed into vibrant, fantastical beings. Each stroke of the brush was a step closer to the creation of their unique masterpiece, a testament to the rich cultural heritage and artistic spirit of Oaxaca.

The experience was not merely about creating art but about fostering a connection between generations and communities. Through the shared act of painting, we bridged gaps and transcended language barriers, creating bonds that extended beyond the vibrant hues of the alebrijes.

Our collection of painted alebrijes stands as a testament to the magic that can unfold in the heart of a Mexican village. The true beauty of a journey lies not only in the destination but in the vibrant tapestry of experiences woven along the way.

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Wellspring of Inspiration


In our casa in the village of San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, near Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, Amy and I have found solace, inspiration and a canvas for our artistic souls. We love our classic adobe home, surrounded by plants, fields and mountains, set in a typical Mexican community. 

We serve our neighbors by giving art lessons to children. We offer projects and teach skills, provide all the materials while including refreshments. Children go away happy and proud, taking with them their artwork to share with their family. 

Our quiet life allows us to immerse ourselves in the rhythms of this world while still offering the enchanting proximity to the vibrant heart of internationally acclaimed Oaxaca.

Two or three times a week, we embark on a short journey to the city. There we buy foods we cannot find in the village, visit a marvelous ex-pat lending library, buy art supplies, and purchase the best artisan breads and pastries at a popular bakery. Sometimes I stop to swim at Hotel Victoria where we bought a membership that gives us access to the pool. Amy relaxes under an umbrella and we share lunch.

I always carry my camera to find opportunities for street photography. 

Usually we come upon a celebration happening⏤with music and lively street performances. 

Oaxaca serves as a melting pot of creativity, where artists from different backgrounds converge to express themselves. Engaging with this artistic kaleidoscope fuels our imagination and provides fresh perspectives to infuse into our creations. Galleries showcase a diverse range of works, from traditional folk art to contemporary masterpieces. Furthermore, now we both are represented at one of the Oaxaca’s finest art venues: Cuatrosiete Galeria. They gave us an exclusive two person show during peak tourist time: this years Dia de Muertos celebration.

When we return to our rural village, I exclaim how exciting Oaxaca is. It is wellspring of inspiration for two artists like us. We carry home echoes of Oaxaca's vibrant cultural symphony. Our quiet life is a canvas onto which we paint the stories, colors, and melodies we've absorbed during our time on earth.

We now have a new website showcasing our Mexican inspired art: Dos Venados