Mickey in Ultramarine Blocks

Children of the 1980's Series, No. 5

  • Size: 14″ x 14″ x 1.5″
  • Substrate: Canvas
  • Medium: Ink and Acrylic

San Francisco had been pouring rain during the entire time of my stay there. What days I did not spend swirling around the drain of the streets, I spent indoors drying my clothes. I found comfort in opening up my old studio and painting like it was 2005 all over again. I remember starting to paint again, it was cathartic.

In 1996 in Savannah Georgia I attended SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design). As a budding young artist, I wanted to do everything. Photography, Video Production, and even the cliche degree for a flamboyant teen as I was, .. Fashion Design. I did however want to be a studio painter, although I had the hammering sound of my parents reminding me that painting was for expression and business was to pay the bills. I took many classes, and what was reminded over and over again, was that my form was decent, but my color choices were obnoxious.

Mind you, being colorblind NEVER hindered me as a child or a teen. Having saturation issues rarely ever fit into my fashion senses as a teen, because I primarily wore only black with something else (or sometimes navy because I can’t tell the difference). The only time it really was brought up was when I was diagnosed, and .. well then at that point in college. In one particular class I remember the teacher coming up and going “oh my, thats.. quite.. bright”. To which I responded “well yes, thats my style.” The teacher turned to me and handed me a nondescript jar of paint and said “you should use this”. I looked at the paint, and it didn’t respond to me, it was just nothing in the jar, so I put it aside and started using my fluorescent colors again.

I was pulled to the side at class in such a friendly manner, that what the teacher said didn’t really sink with me until hours later. Its been years since that transaction between teacher and student happened, but roughly it came down to “Tennessee, my job in this school is to to teach students how to use color appropriately. While art is about expression, there is a commercial aspect to it too. I am to craft you to be a better artist, to be what employers might want. This class is not about feeling, its about structure. There is a right and there is a wrong when it comes to art in the field. Your choices, despite your deficiency, are at best obnoxious. The colors you are using make me feel woozy, and this is not a comfortable thing. You need to adapt, or it may be suggested after this class that you just take up fashion sketching or go into sewing or design or video production. .. and I don’t know what kind of colorblindness you have that makes you stick to this, but try and work into our world, ok?”

I remember leaving the class like a zombie, getting into my roommates Jeep Cherokee, and driving silent home. … my art supplies jiggling in my plastic art bin next to me on the passenger side started to annoy me so I pushed them into the floor… spilling all my brushes and pens all over the place. I stopped at a train railroad crossing while the train roared past me, and I just remember my vision blurring from me crying…

Flash forward to me painting in the place where it all began again, I slightly smiled at the blank canvas with drafted 3D blocks on the canvas. I pulled out a jar labeled PB29+Pw6(2) and took the 1/4th angle brush out of my mouth, dipped, and smeared my first blob of paint onto my 8bit 3D design of blocks.

This piece is to mirror the pyramid pieces in hues, representing 3d 8bit objects, specifically pulled from the Super Mario Brothers and Legend of Zelda game released in the mid 80s’.


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