I did this comic in 2012 as a result of Occupy Wall Street inspiring me to take on problems in the world around me. This was a practice run for doing a non fiction graphic novel about people who use Christianity to get what they want in business and politics. The project turned out to be overly ambitious for me with the limited resources I possess and have access to, so it is on the back burner waiting for me to get my shit together. One unfortunate reality I learned when dabbling in activism is that it is difficult to help others when I can’t even help myself.
This is the most recent painting I have done (well, it was 98% completed), which is unfortunate because I did this in 2010. I majored in painting at UTEP and love the medium, but a few years ago I lost my entire life’s work, all records related to that (like my portfolio), and all of my art supplies. My art supplies were purchased using student loans and since I lost everything after leaving college it has been near impossible to replace it all. I have not been able to paint for several years and the time that passes since doing this painting just adds more weight to the crushing depression I feel. Hopefully I will be able to paint again someday!
I did show this painting in 2 art shows: “The Punch and Pie Art Show” at a warehouse I was trying to turn into an arts space of some sort, and a week or two later in a Valentine’s Day show at “The Percolator”, an art filled coffee shop in downtown El Paso (which is now closed). The painting was taken down at the request of offended customers the day after the show. I took it as a compliment that I could get some kind of reaction with my art.
Here is one picture I have of this painting hanging at the Punch and Pie Art show:
I had two other paintings in this series which were both about 75% complete and all I have now are the digital sketches/studies I created before starting the actual paintings. The first one was about 4’6” x 7’ and the other roughly 6’ x 3’ (I can’t remember the exact dimensions and lost the records of that information).
Here is the digital study for the second painting in this series which I guess would have been called “Beauty of Pleasure II” I never did have an in progress photo of it, but it was looking pretty great and was my favorite in the series. It was around 7’6″ x 4’6″ I think.
Before leaving El Paso I had the model for one last session and was working on a third painting in the series. Here is the sketch for “Beauty of Pleasure III”
I did manage to find one photograph of this painting while it was being worked on in El Paso. It was about the same size as “Beauty of Pleasure I” at 6′ x 3′. You can see it in the background behind a bad picture of me.
Where are the paintings now? I did recover one box of rolled up canvases from Greyhound, the company that drove off with my life’s work. These paintings were in that box and I took them with me to Brooklyn, NY, but was unable to work on them there (another story for another time). There is a possibility they are in my ex girlfriend’s dad’s storage unit, but I am not holding my breath waiting for them.
What did I learn from the experience of losing everything? Finish work faster, document everything, and keep backups in multiple places. Also, I need to get my shit together already…
One thing which appeals to me about being an artist is the variety of things a person can do with artistic skills. Just knowing how to draw well has opened doors for me to: paint, tattoo, airbrush, design, sculpt, animate, make comics and do several other things over the years. A few months ago I decided to add “chalk artist” to the list of things I can do to earn “right to life vouchers”, aka. “money.”
My “go-to” hustle of portrait drawing has not paid off well since moving to Austin 2 weeks ago, so last week I printed business cards and a chalk art portfolio then walked along 6th st. in Austin asking managers at every business with a chalkboard if they might need my services. One business took me up on that, Shakespeare’s Pub, so on the Sunday morning of July 26, 2015, I showed up at 9AM and knocked this board out in just under 5 hours.
During the year I spent back in El Paso, TX from March 2014 until July 2015 I drew several of the local bands as they were performing live. These drawings were executed in 20 to 40+ minutes depending on how long their set was, plus sometimes a few minutes afterward to fill in larger black areas with pen. Most of these were done before November 2014 and were exhibited in an art show I threw called “Bands of El Paso” at a bar called “Monarch” on Rio Grande. The show was relatively successful for an art show at a bar in El Paso on a cold night and I estimate around 200 or more people showed up throughout the night.
I will attempt to post these drawings sequentially according to the dates they were executed. There are several more band drawings that are not in this post because I lost the files of the scanned images, so if any of the musicians I drew are wondering why I did not post your band, that is the reason and I apologize.
All the drawings are pen on paper, 8.5 in. x 5.5 in.
These guys had no set name at this time but were considering “Tiamat”
This painting was done sometime during the summer of 2005 while I was living at my friend Daniel’s apartment. He shaved off the front of his head in a style I had only seen in martial arts movies called the “chonmage”, but he didn’t have the long hair required for a long ponytail. I believe he was playing a Sega Dreamcast game system while I painted him in 2 sessions for this quick painting. For many years I did not think I had a good quality photograph of this painting until I found it recently on a CD of old art files. When I left El Paso in 2010 this painting was given to my friend Claudia who in turn gave it to our friend Griselda (the poet Viva Flores) who proudly owns it to this day. I am unsure of the size (I estimate 24″ x 18″), oil on masonite.
A few months ago I visited “Sumatra Cocktail Lounge” on the corner of Mesa and Rio Grande in El Paso, TX to hang out with the owner at that time, David. He liked me enough to give me free drinks occasionally and was always telling me to bring in friends, preferably hot women (as if I had hot women following me around all the time). This one day he asked me to draw something on his blank chalkboard paint covered door in exchange for credit at the bar, so I could get more than the little buzz my poor ass can usually afford. I did this in about an hour and a half, in the cold, using chalk borrowed from the bar next door called “Monarch.” It was fun and drinking for free was funner.
David liked it and suggested I try to get more work doing this at other bars and restaurants around the downtown El Paso area. It was a good idea and I had noticed how popular chalk art was getting on the internet, so I bought some chalk and hit the streets within days of doing this first piece.
The next business interested in my work was the popular and local-art filled “Pizza Joint.” I visited their new downtown location after seeing an A-frame chalkboard outside and chalkboard menus through the window. One of the managers told me to come back the next day and they would let me draw something on their chalkboard wall that customers usually scribbled stuff on, to see how well I could do this new thing I didn’t have a portfolio of work for. This next piece took much longer than I thought it would, clocking in around 4 hours of work because I wanted to impress them with this “try out.”
“Pizza Joint” liked my work and hired me to do the menus hanging above their front counter. These took far longer than I expected them to and I screwed myself giving them an estimate on these 6 ft. wide chalkboards that took me 20 hours each to do! However, they turned out great and helped me build a portfolio for this kind of work, plus I learned a ton of new stuff doing these and I love learning new art things!
After the Pizza Joint gig I visited Sumatra again to do another design on David’s door. He said he wanted something cubist or a mermaid so I tried to do both but couldn’t fit a mermaid tail in this design. It came out pretty good anyway and I got more drink credit at the bar.
During this time I did a few smaller A-frame chalkboards at other businesses, another door design for Sumatra and some other random work at various places, but I lost the photos from my phone of those pieces. I soon became occupied with other projects and commissions which took me away from chalk art for a few weeks. One day a friend recommended me for a job he was offered doing a large “calendar of events” chalkboard wall at “Hillside Coffee & Donut Co.” I wish I had gotten photos of the whole wall but I was too exhausted to care after finishing this piece.
Not long after this piece I moved to Austin, TX from El Paso because of a variety of personal, health and financial problems. Someone in Austin offered to help me with those problems and sold me on the idea that I would get much more work as an artist in this city than in El Paso, so with nothing to lose I moved. I can’t wait to see if my friend was right about my chances here!
Just found out I lost many of my image and other files while moving to Austin, Texas recently, so I rummaged through my pathetically few possessions in a panic and found an old CD with images from many years ago. This first image I’m posting is a large self portrait of me in a red dress that was accepted into the 2005 University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Student Art Show in El Paso, TX. I won the “Best Painting” award for this 7’6″ painting (if I remember the dimensions correctly) that nobody wanted to buy because frankly, who would want to pay anything for such a gigantic painting of me in a dress?
After dragging this impractically large object around for a few years, I eventually gave it to a neighbor and friend named Bernie Rosenblum, an old photographer I hung out with almost every morning for several months; smoking weed, eating breakfast, chugging coffee, watching Myth Busters and talking about all kinds of shit from his life. He was kind of a mentor for me as an artist after college, giving me career and life advice peppered within his stories. His claim to fame was having helped film and “acting” in “Manos: The Hands of Fate”, regarded by many as “the worst movie ever made.” The creator of Mystery Science Theater 3000 even said it was the worst film he had on his show, a show entirely dedicated to making fun of terrible movies. It was made in El Paso, Texas, where I lived for over a decade, so in addition to being a cult classic it is a local legend of a film that can be checked out at the El Paso Public Library. I did that, watched it, and it is comically fucking terrible.
One can only guess where this painting is going to end up. Last time I saw the thing it was pulled off it’s stretcher when my poor ass was moving from couch to couch, rolled up, and given to Bernie when I moved out of El Paso in 2010. When I moved back to El Paso in 2014 I visited Bernie a few times, but not as often as when we were neighbors downtown. One day I knocked on his door for a visit, but his wife and one of the lodgers in their basement answered the door and roughly told me it was not a good time before slamming the door on me. A couple weeks later I read on a mutual friend’s Facebook post that Bernie had died. I hope he tacked it to his wall for a little bit and told funny stories about me while smoking with friends in his final years!
Rest in Peace, old buddy!
Here is the only photograph I have of this decade old painting; I wish it weren’t such a shitty photo and the whole painting was in the frame.