Toon In, Tune Out

Children of the 1980's Series, No. 9

  • Size: 14″ x 14″ x 1.5″
  • Substrate: Canvas
  • Medium: Oil pen on Acrylic

Nostalgia is the boomerang that connects our heart to our past. Writers begin to touch the surface of their craft with the cliche but resonant quote from their instructors “Write what you know, and the rest will come”. Generally the same principle applies to painters, in that we paint what we know, and as we delve into our reasons for creating in the first place, we get to the very epicenter of our imaginative cortex, the ‘heart center’ that guides us outwards onto the blank slate.

I have, for the most part, had to relearn how to paint all over again due to some incredibly dark times, and in that process I believe that most of my work has been therapy… relearning how to paint straight lines… relearning how to actually use my hands physically…and secondly relearning to use my brain to reconnect to not just the world, but internally. Nostalgia was the key factor in going deeper into what I was capable of. I had to go back to my brief creative blip with No. 3 through No. 6 in the 8bit series, and really focus on where I got that idea from.

So I closed my eyes again, like I had done in San Francisco when I heard Nintendo music as an inspiration, and this time the sound of 80’s television came to me. Specifically the sound of when the television programs were over. It was that monotone synthetic sound that came on past the programs, past the national anthem on the organ, past the images of an eagle picking at himself and an awkward shot of a flag blowing semi gloriously, semi lonesome like in the wind. It was that pattern of blocks, some cool and some warm, all fit in certain ways strangely. It was the picture and sound of wild imaginative hyperactive nights as a child where I couldn’t go to sleep because I was so wound up from the day, that I’d sojourn to the basement to watch TV until I’d fall asleep.

Television was the fuel to my imaginative fire, and my imagination was my shield against the often brutal aspects of my childhood. I had two great strengths, the ability to daydream to where I didn’t even remotely exist in my plane, and the ability to socialize. These two strengths never connected. Either I was completely withdrawn into my world, or I was pushing that bit of me away to adapt to my social microcosm of a southern school system. It was literally like a switch. Turn on the television set, my imagination, and I’m creating portraits and maze like patterns all over the place, yet withdrawing from social interacting. Turn off the television set, and I’d shut down my daydreaming and creativity patterns, and yet be socially thriving and happy.

Mind you, these dissipated when I ventured into high school, and my emotions became, at best, intertwined into my art and my social life… It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I lost everything due to some tragic events, where I turned the clock backwards to that awkward idealism of a dichotomous state of self.

At best I have these flittering moments of social mediocrity, however my head is backed up from many years of not being able to think clearly or imagine clearly, that I’m literally gushing out artistic expression through my fingers like a out of control geyser. I am learning to harness both these aspects of my life and merge them into my everyday patterns of living. But for the meantime I can only say that I’m aware of both.

This piece is about that idea of two worlds separated, the ability to turn off and turn on, and understanding that while we may have the switch, life has the remote control.


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