Boring Stuff, Guns, Murder, and Numbers!

This artist has a sort of sickness. I love looking at statistics and fact checking stuff. This is one of the reason much of my art is like this piece titled Static Repercussions. I thought I would share some my research on fire arms and violence. This is really just numbers. I won’t include my conclusions here.


BTW I generally compare countries that have cultural and political similarities. So no Syria and Iraq stuff. If you see I made a typo let me know, after all I am only human. Included are the places I found the data. Not all the places I double checked it, because that gets crazy.
Do some comparisons from other sources yourself too. I am sure you will find it as fun as I do.

Oddly enough, I tend to feel all fired up and inspired to make art after doing research.


33% of Americans own firearm.

41% of households report owning at least one firearm

85% of Americans support back ground checks on all gun sales including private and gun show sales.

(Pew Research poll in July)

77% of Americans think better access to mental health treatment and screening would do a lot or some to reduce gun violence. (CBS/Times Poll in December)

Homicide rates 2013 Per Capita (per 100,000)

USA  5

Germany 1

Austria 1

Spain 1

Switzerland 1

Denmark 1

Poland 1

Sweden 1

Norway 1

United Kingdom 1

Australia 1

France 1

Canada 1

Guns per 100 residents 2014

United States 88.8

Germany 30.3

Austria 30.4

Spain 10.4

Switzerland 45.7

Denmark 12

Poland  1.3

Sweden 31.8

Norway 31.3

United Kingdom 6.6

Australia 15

France 31.2

Canada 30.8



Gun Laws Based on a Tradition of Responsibility

I would love to see gun laws that speak to the wisdom I was taught about gun ownership growing up and in the army.
Owning a gun is a responsibility. A gun is for killing and if you choose to own one, you take that responsibly. If you can not handle that, then you fore fit your right to hold and own one. RESPONSIBILITY.
hunting-togetherUnlike other inventions,  guns serve the intended purpose of killing. You pick a gun up knowing – that is the intended purpose for a gun. If you use it for target practice you still know, it was invented to kill and target practice is secondary to that. A gun is not a toy.
A car is built to drive, not to kill. A rake is built to rake, not kill. That is the difference, and yet we make people get drivers’ licenses and revoke them when needed. When car manufactures and rake manufactures try to improve the design, they never think this has to be able to kill more efficiently. Improved stopping power for a car is different than improved stopping power for a gun.
If you hand a gun to someone else, and they cause harm it is your responsibility. You are responsible for ensuring that a person you hand a gun to is not a loose cannon and is educated in gun safety. RESPONSIBILITY.
This rule should be applied to gun dealers and manufacture and citizen gun owners.
If you want to hand a gun over to someone you don’t know personally, and be able to be a responsible gun owner, then you should support background checks in order to facilitate that. It would be fair for the law to say, as long as you did this, then you are no longer responsible. If you sell a gun illegally, then you are held responsible and you will lose your right to have guns – and serve time. Again RESPONSIBILITY.
Other laws should follow.
If you threaten anyone with violence or make it publicly known that you want to harm anyone, then your right to own a gun should be revoked, and any guns you have should be taken. This could be contested in a court room and decided by a jury of your peers, in order to prevent people being wrongly accused of such things. Yes, this would be an exception to being innocent until proven guilty, because the danger can be immediate and needs to be prevented and no one is being jailed or fined. It won’t kill anyone wrongly accused to be without their gun for a time, until they can prove otherwise. Believe it or not, a person can go many months with out holding a gun in their hand and be just fine. A gun is not a necessity for survival in modern society.
If someone is injured or killed by a gun in your possession, you forfeit your right to having a gun. It does not matter if it was an accident. At that point you have proven yourself incapable of handling the responsibility. There should be no accidents when it comes to guns.
If you shoot yourself accidentally and live through it the same should apply. At that point you have proven yourself incapable of handling the responsibility.
Let us face it. “I did not know it was loaded” is an admission to not being able to handle the responsibility of having a gun.
If a gun you own is found left unsecured, the above should be enforced. At that point you have proven yourself incapable of handling the responsibility.
In short, I would raise the standard of who can have a gun. Any responsible citizen who truly wants to own a gun should be able to meet this standard. Any of the above mentioned points are enforced in the military and many soldiers prove to be capable of meeting this standard. The public should feel a sense that anyone carrying a gun can meet some standard of ability. Any responsible adult in a family of gun owners preaches these very things to their children.
The ownership of firearms should require safety classes and licensing. This is no different than driving a car, and millions of Americans do this very thing to be able to drive a car. This is not a difficult burden for someone who is able to handle a gun responsibly.
Yes, background checks should be needed to purchase a gun or a very large quantity of ammunition. You go to the store, you show them your gun license, they do a background check and if all is good then they sell you a gun. No one needs to buy a gun in an emergency, OMG I need a gun now. That is probably a sign that you should not be sold a gun if you think you need a gun now.
And to those of you that think you need a gun to defend yourself from the government if it became a police state, get a grip. There is no manner of guns and ammo you can own that will protect you from government forces if it ever came to that. Such forces would have highly trained solders with the backing of an arsenal that is big enough to wage war on multiple First World countries at one time. The drones alone make your Rambo dream stupid and lame. If you want to protect yourself from a police state then help ensure that our country is run democratically. If we fail at that, then I suggest you grab your legally bought gun and go run and hide someplace far away, for we are all probably screwed and you being killed by a drone or twenty armed professional soldiers won’t change that.
To those that say they need a gun for self defense. Firstly, if you can not handle a licensing process, then you are more likely to shoot a friend or yourself when you are attacked. Secondly, you have no clue whether you have any ability to shoot an attacker. Police and soldiers train constantly to be able to perform that very task because it is extremely difficult. You are better off running for help, anyway. If you are so convinced that you can handle that, again passing the test should not be a problem.
To those that like hunting. I do, too. I would feel much safer hunting if I knew more people in the woods with me had better training. I would also feel better knowing that everyone else knows, shooting me because you thought I was a deer will land you in jail and you will lose your guns. Maybe people would stop shooting at everything that moves in the bushes.
To those who want to shoot cans or what ever target practice thing you got going. Seriously, you can take the class and get the background check. There is no ‘target practice emergency, I need to shoot round disks now’ events in life.
To those that think only criminals would have guns. No, actual trained, responsible citizens would have them too, and not just any nut job that walks into Wal-Mart. If we add on better law enforcement to stop illegal gun trade – that reduce illegal guns, and less people buying guns legally that can’t handle the responsibility would equal less guns being available for criminals to procure illegally.
It is all about reasonability and any gun owner should have the guts to meet the standard.

Anyone is an Artist?!

These professions all require a lot of dedicated practice and learning.




Of these only one is commonly referred to as everyone is a blank.
An artist can dedicate many many hours of their lives, blood, sweat and tears to their craft. They either go to school or get it by emulating and studying other artist on their own. Either way it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. 90% hard work and 10% talent.
When an artist hears “everyone is an artist” or “anyone can be an artist” and it bugs them to hear that, they are called an elitist. I doubt if you swap artist for most other professions in these statements it would make sense to many people.
Everyone is a doctor? Everyone is a nurse? Everyone is an accountant? Everyone is a plumber?
Nope I never hear that and I am glad for it.
Just a thought for people to chew on.



Seriously what is going on? Everything is apparently the most mind blowing thing ever. How will we know when something is actually mind blowing? I would probably not click it and never find out that a astroid is colliding with the earth tomorrow and Orono is ground zero.

Connecting with Others! Where Art can make a Difference.

I find that making art and sharing it with others is an incredible way to find connection with my fellow humans. Working in the virtual world space of Second Life has offered amazing opportunities to see this at work and provided me with confirmation of just how art can make connections on levels that are much deeper than simply talking.

An example of a particular piece, that I created in Second Life that was an exploration of life in a dysfunctional family environment and home. The piece had no outwardly apparent literal signs of what the narrative of the piece was. I create a room that seemed typical as an apartments go. There was a chair, a hallway, a table, a closet with boxes and clothes. The only odd element was a ghostly figure of a girl standing and sitting that occasionally appeared at random.

I thought people would mistake it as some ghost story or something else than the narrative that I had in mind. However, I continued with being ambiguous and focused on colors and textures that somehow felt to me felt like a sad and dysfunctional space with bad memories. The title of the piece was simply Apartment 5B.



As people from around the world visited this work virtually through their computers I was astonished at how often the piece was connecting with people and conveying the intended narrative. Some of the people never happened to see the ghostly girl that appeared randomly and still had the sense that a difficult the memories of a difficult family environment haunted the space. One person, who didn’t speak English and lived on the other side of the planet, shared with me that the piece made them think of their troubled childhood and that the piece made them feel as though someone else understood this as well. The resulting conversation, as short as it was, seemed to be very healing and comforting for both of us.

Experiences like this that have weaved their way through my life of making art often leads me to wondering about how people could find and make connections with others that they perceive as being  different.

I often wonder if we couldn’t make the world a fundamentally better place if each of us found the value in being surrounded by diversity. What if people saw the act of reaching out and meeting people that seemed different as important as eating healthy, being a productive citizen, and the other array of values  of our society? I think intentionally embracing diversity would do more good for our world than any of those other values.

Below I am adding some links to other examples of finding ways for people to connect, get past differences, see we are all in this together, see that our differences are small in comparison to what we share, and maybe somehow make more room for acceptance in peoples hearts. Along with these, go to a art museum or gallery, see a play, maybe a dance production, the ways to find true connection and see through another eyes are all there to explore and cherish. We need to hunger for this.

Hope all this will inspire you to find a way to connect and make our world a better place.


What is an Artist?

So, I was reading a post that asked “what is an artist?”. I, of course, scrolled down to read all the comments that straightaway devolved into arguments. This is of course a debate that is as old as arguing. It did however get me thinking about what I thought may be the answer to the question.

After speaking to a musician friend, Molly Webster on the topic of what makes a person an artist we found that saying “you are not an artist because of this and that” is what seems to be offensive to people and where the line to oppressiveness  is crossed. As Molly put it “I wouldn’t want to stifle someone by telling them they are or are not a musician or artist.” I defiantly agree with that as well, but there seems that an answer can be given that doesn’t involved this, rather on that asks people to decide for themselves but provide some suggestion of where the lines are drawn.

It is about creating a culture of thought were one feels that there is a higher standard in proclaiming ones self an artist, and not the job of out side observers to deem it so or not so.

This is important to promote appreciation and respect for art and the work done by artist, while allowing a freedom of choice through self reflection. Also, if someone makes art, but can not see themselves as an artist there is no reason to feel that is somehow deeming or devalues the personal benefits of making art. Anyone can make art, but not everyone is an artist.

With this line of thinking,

artist-brainAn artist is someone who not only makes art but puts a great deal of life commitment into the making of art. This is not someone that makes art that copies others art as a means to an end. It can be making art and drawing from others, but also should include a purpose of contributing some expansion of the art from ones self. Simply put, not just copying other work and saying “I’m an artist”

Going to school for art does not cut it if the above is lacking.

Being self taught does still cut it if the above is still there as the primary goal and process. Self taught as an expression is rather supercilious anyway, sense no one just teaches them self without drawing from somewhere, like books, videos, or just seeing someone else’s art. A better phrase for this is probably self directed taught. That is a whole other bag of monkeys.

If you choose to take on the mantle of being an artist you should do so knowing full well that many before and many now wake up every morning and dedicate their lives to being artist.

If you can look these dedicated people in the eyes and say I am an artist and sleep at night, who are we to contradict you, though we should urge some to think hard on it as a matter of respect to those who came before.

In the end art is an amazing thing and an important part of our society. Art and those who have endeavored to be artist deserve some respect and not find themselves surrounded by posers claiming they are artist when they pick up the nearest crayon. I think this applies to many things, such as Musician, Poet, Writer and etc.

If you love painting or what ever but don’t see yourself fitting into this model, it’s perfectly fine. Paint that painting and reap the rewards that doing so gives. Maybe doing that you will fall in love with art and want to strive to be an artist and when you are there you will know.

To relax I like to build fun things in SecondLife

To relax I like to build fun things in second life. It is stress free creativity booster. Sort of like building a model ship. Here are photos of a space station I am making. It is just at the beginning. Of course my avatar Alexx needs to wear a space suite for safety. I use primary colors mostly for the initial build. This he ops identify edges and connection better until I add textures and nicer colors.

Freeway I have really enjoyed this software.

Recently I needed to find new software to use to make and maintain my website. I had been using iWeb for a long time. iWeb was nice software. It offered a fairly limiting amount of options, but it had what I needed, it was easy to use, and it was fast to make changes and updates. However Apple has stopped supporting the software, so it was truly dyeing and bugs that would show up are never going to be fixed. O and when I got my new Mac, iWeb wouldn’t work on it. 😦

It took a lot of comparing and searching and more comparing and more searching. I googled, I binged, I…., well you get the idea.

I can not believe how many choices there are for building a website today. I knew what ever I decided on would be something I was going to use for a long while. I was going to have to rebuild my site from the ground floor again and I really did not want to have to change software anytime in the near future and start again. Needless to say I was cautious.

I found Freeway and gave it a test run. It is definitely a lot more complex than iWeb, but it isn’t so complex that I couldn’t figure out most of it within an afternoon. There are a lot more features than I had before and as I have been using it, there are as many features as I could imagine needing.

I have used a lot of software over the years and my pre-requisites for software have become fairly set in stone. Of course there are times that there just isn’t anything made yet to live up to my picky needs, so I end up settling. Freeway however passes all of my obsessive nitpicks.

1 Elegance,
Software should not have a bunch of crap that is gimmicky and useless. This is something that many of the main graphics software has fallen into being.

If you took the bells and whistles that are never useful out of Illustrator it would become something that did not look like the inside of the space shuttle. Most of these frills can be done by using the better computer every artist has (Their Brain) anyways. It has always seemed to me software companies just keep adding stuff so they can sell the next hot upgrade. Many of these extras come off as campy and lame anyway.

Freeway is pretty elegant. The interface takes a little bit to understand, but once you get there it is very easy. For the bells and whistles, Freeway uses Actions which are like plugins. You can find a huge amount of these that are free or very inexpensive. This way if you want something extra you can simply add it and you are not saddled by a bunch of crap you don’t need. You could make a pretty outstanding site with just the actions that come with.

Many software packages are going this route and I really like it. This also makes room for innovation by others outside of the company and that is a recipe for great ideas and useful tools.

2 Not Excessively over priced,
I am not cheap and I don’t mind paying a fair price, however I take the high price of graphics software personally.

When I first dreamed of being an artist way back in the 80’s all an artist needed was pencils, pens, rulers and a drawing table. Some of these things where not inexpensive, but they were not out of range. Also they didn’t come out with Drawing Table 2.0 in a year and make it so if you didn’t have that one you could’t compete in the market place, our worse your old table would’t work in the studio you currently own.

It seems pretty absurd that software companies are surprised that someone would have the nerve to hijack their software. Hey, you make something that is so essential to a person making a living and put it way out of their price range, what do you think they are going to do?

Freeway is pretty reasonably priced and they offer versions with fewer options for even more reasonable prices. They also have told me that you can do upgrades to the better versions. That in my book is cool! I love decent software that I don’t need to take out a loan for.

3 Great Customer Service
What do I have to really explain about that? I like to be able to call an IT person and say “OMG I broke it what should I do now?”

While I was playing with the Demo version I had questions about what if when I buy this and if this or that happens. I emailed their customer support. What!? They answered with clear and reasonable answers before I even bought the software in a very timely manner? Crazy!

What else is crazy is now they have my money, they continue to answer my silly questions. They even had me send them my file and they looked at it and told me what to do. They have emailed me sample files. That is awesome customer service and I think is the best feature so far of this software.

I hope this little rant on a software package that I enjoy is helpful for anyone out there looking to make their own website. Sadly it is only available for MAC but then if you don’t have a MAC, well I send my condolences. Microsoft isn’t awful, it just isn’t a MAC.

O! and here is a link to the software company that makes Freeway


I have been waiting and waiting sense I received the email saying “Congratulations, one or more of your entries in CQ28 is a winner. A complete list of winners is posted online and your winning entries will be published in the next issue of Creative Quarterly due out in Fall 2012”

Finally tonight flipping through the mail and there it is! My copy of Creative Quarterly issue 28 and on page 27 and there is my art.

Well I am pretty excited. 😀


The digital version will hit their website at some point.

The piece is also on my website at

A very nice conclusion to my day. 🙂

My path to finding purpose to making art.


I would have to guess that many artist contemplate the purpose of making art. I know it is not an easy question to arrive at an answer to. Some certainly are happy to see art for arts sake is fine. For myself I have always felt deep down it is more than just for the sake of art it’s self. I don’t think I could truly argue or debate effectively that it is, but down deep in my core I simply feel art has purpose. It think it is truly something personal and each artist and each art lover has to come to their own conclusion. It does however seem worthy to share how I see it and how I have come to my views.

I have been pondering this question sense I was a teenager. I have over the years, many times doubted what I believed and many times would have swore I was certain. It would be silly to try to even come close to each and every time in my life that has lead me to where I am on this.

To make it brief, I think it would work well to start at a major early moment in my life that brought me along the way and work my way through just some of them.

When I worked at my grandfather construction company I was exposed to a very wide variety of people. Some perhaps not the greatest effluence on a young mind and some just extremely interesting characters. I think for the most part that experience in my life help make me become adaptive to and excepting of many types of people. One such group of people where some gentlemen who where extremely orthodox christian or at least that is how they would have described them selves. They spent much of there personal time studying the Bible, going to church and discussing things about Christianity. I encountered people from the community associated other times in my jobs during my teens and into my early 20s. They believed or had faith in their convections with such fervor there seemed that nothing would change their opinions on anything. Until the moment I am about to relate I don’t think I ever questioned the value of being an artist or art itself.

One day while working on a job site where we had been building a house for several months I was having a conversation with one of these gentlemen. It’s funny how I can remember the smell of bare pine 2×4’s and saw dust. There was of course the sound of hammers punning and saws cutting. We somehow came along the topic of my art work. His words caught me completely off guard. He explained to me that he did not believe that making art had any value to society. He went on speaking about how nothing was created that could be lived in or used as a tool to make humans more successful. When I reputed by relating to how art had inspired people to change the society in which they lived and such, he simply sloughed it off saying none of that is truly any contribution to bringing us closer to God and all we need is the bible.

Well I didn’t take to much of what this man said to seriously anyway, but it made me think. I suppose because it was a concept that I never had even thought existed. I would never have thought anyone considered art anything other than an extremely important part of our society. For me art was the life of my heart. It MEANT everything. How could I question if there was any purpose? Art had a purpose and though I never wondered what it was I never doubted it did.

I went on in life going about the business of being an artist. Went to college, worked as a graphic artist and so on. I ran into all kinds of thoughts and opinions on just what is important about making art. In working as a graphic artist art became very much about putting food on the table. Art became a means to an ends or perhaps a means to my life not ending because I starved. Art was simply commercial. The quality of my work was driven by a desire to be successful. I think for a long time the part of heart that was burnt into my DNA and lied close to my heart went dormant. Occasionally I would get a glimpse of the past passion and paint but it would never last that long.

At a point when I became disillusioned with making art for commercial use I turn back to the fine arts. I decided to devote myself more to creating art with a passion for art. Initially I stayed focus on a more realism approach and being detailed. The aims of my work was always to convey the emotion of image. I then began experimenting with a more expressive approach and moved further and further into abstraction. People had often seemed to connect with emotions from my art and that pushed me further and further into wanting my art to convey feeling. This became a goal.

When I was able to have a larger audience via the Second Life virtual world art community I found more and more success with conveyance of emotion to that audience. People began sharing with me how my art made them feel and what they conveyed was the feelings I had and was working to convey. I found these successes brought me a feeling of connection.

During these times I had also been struggling with my mental health and depression was a main factor. I came to learn that as with me others with mental illness suffer from feelings of isolation. In fact isolation is seen as a huge contributor to suicide. Over the years isolation even when with other has haunted me. It is very natural for a human to have a need for companionship. We all want others to understand us.

Connecting with others is a beautiful thing and the connections we have with others is fundamental to our over all stability. I would argue that it is also the connections we have to to each other that stabilizes our society. The connection can be deep or shallow but in the end we are not islands. This is what I have found as a purpose for art, music, literature and more. It is all a means for we as people to come closer to each other. Sometimes words can not express our deepest thoughts and feelings. We need images and maybe sounds. These can be the way into each others hearts and souls.

Coming to this conclusion me me brings me to see a great purpose to art. This purpose drives me now and I have been amazed by the wonders of connecting with others. To be able to reach out across the world with an image and touch another person can bring healing to both the creator and the viewer of the creations. If only one persons dreadful feelings of isolation can be broken by one of my paintings then I have found not only purpose to my art but purpose to being.