Becoming the Student, #5: Captain America

Daniel Glosson (brother to Billy) is another young, passionate guy that I know. I always enjoy sitting down with him. Recently married, working multiple jobs, serving in the community, and trying to work out his faith and beliefs in the world, Daniel is an energetic force of nature. IMG_8425

Glosson (Captain America), Colored Pencil and Gouache on Stonehenge, 15 by 12 inches, 2014.

On Art

“I think art is incredible. But I don’t value the idea over what’s right there in front of us. I definitely miss stuff all of the time and I hate that, but when someone shows it to me I’m blown away. If an artist is trying to make a statement but isn’t doing anything about it that makes me angry. I guess I’m practical to a fault. When I see a problem I’m driven to do something about it, not simply represent it or use it as inspiration.”

On Working at Schilb Antiquarian

“I’m so fortunate. I love the job. It’s awesome. I want to attain the same love for the store and the books that Scott has. I’m trying to learn all I can. I love the chance to just browse through these books, read them. It’s amazing, and now that I’m looking at all these old books and trying to wrap my mind around it, I can really see this expanse of human thought over the centuries. They way they thought, they way they progressed in terms of understanding and rationalization. We just have all this stuff, these records of peoples’ thinking and processing. The questions of what do we value most are all there, and you can see how people have approached it, be it fantasy or escapism or cold, hard truth in the scientific or mathematical works. We even have an exorcism text from 1683, Flagellum Daemonum – literally “beat the devil”! – and it looks like it’s got blood on the cover. Wild.”

On Eucatastrophe

“I think death is extremely beautiful. I love tragedies.”

On his Captain America shirt

“I’m not really a patriot.”

On Michael Bay and Thomas Kinkade

“Fortunately there are two things you and I both loathe – and I think it’s hilarious – that’s Michael Bay and Thomas Kinkade. I think that’s the greatest thing ever. I don’t know if it’s great to bond over hatred but I remember talking to someone about hating Michael Bay movies and they said ‘you need to meet Matt Ballou!’ I’m so happy about that, just knowing there’s another. Those Transformer movies make me throw up in my mouth.”

On Looking Like Billy Corgan

“I don’t see it.”

A Year Ago Today, Part Two

Well, it has been a year. A strange-yet-beautiful, tearful-yet-joyful, amazing-grace kind of year.

How do you mark that time? In stories that bear witness to the hard things as well as the sweet moments? With lines indicating growth? In snapshots of little girls becoming sisters or ecstatic family gatherings?

I think I’ve been more eloquent in the past. Today I’m just thankful and blessed. I’m not the best dad, but I’ve worked hard at it. And I think being a dad to two amazingly epic daughters has made me better – more – than I thought I could be. In all of this I’ve gotten to see my wife gloriously work divinely-appointed magic as a planner-of-life, kisser-of-wet-cheeks, and encourager-of-all.

How do I mark this time? I think I’ll go left-of-center:

chinamoneyClick on the image to see these up close.

These are four pieces of “Chinese money” that my daughters have payed with a LOT in the last year. They are, obviously, not real currency. Instead, they are three wet-wipes that came from various hotel rooms or restaurants we visited while in China. And that one covered in duct tape? That’s a strawberry Nutri-grain bar in there; it’s seen better days.

There’s something about their play money that’s joyous and fun. We’ve worked to keep the memory of our time in China alive,  as well as the anticipation that we’ll return again soon. Little indicators of that hope are all over our lives, even seemingly-insignificant ones like these playthings.

So here’s hoping for many, many more years to think back on what has been and look forward to what will be. What a good year to be a family of four.

~

PS: We’re celebrating over at the Etsy shop with super-discounted artworks – maybe you’ll find something you like?

Bike-Desk, Desk-Bike

I decided to construct a bike desk (or desk bike?) a few weeks ago. I was in the midst of looking up conversion kits (so I could modify my normal bike into a stationary type) when I got lucky and found an old BH Vitoria España stationary bike. BH has quite a storied history and this model is really high end. It feels like a quality item even after being at least 20 years old and having been sitting outside for quite a while. I made some modifications to it, then set about working out the ‘desk’ part of the whole thing.

bikedeskafterlight2

I added four foot long leg extensions to a small child-size work table, then set things up in the basement. After a few sessions today I think it’s nearly complete. It feels fairly comfortable and is definitely portable. I also like that I can use the table on its own as a standing desk.

bikedeskafterlight

BIKE DESK!! DESK BIKE!!

37

I love how my birth announcement directly contradicts scripture:

birth2birth1

~

I also enjoy how mystified my dad appears in this picture with me from those early days of my life. I have many times felt the way he appears to feel in this picture… I guess I feel this way more and more now. When this picture was taken my dad was almost exactly the age I am now. Strange perspective.

birth-dadme

~

This year has probably been the most strange, hard, and upheaval-filled since I got married a decade ago. I’m not sure what to say. I have seen and done amazing things in just the last 6 months. But I’ve also been shown my limits and frailties in so many ways. Here’s hoping for a year of becoming a better husband, dad, teacher, artist, and friend. God knows I could use some remediation on all of these things.

My God, It’s Full Of Stars

2013-06-06 10.42.44

I’ve been trying to find the right words to talk about the opportunity and honor I had to be involved with the wedding of my friend Keith and his bride, Amanda, last week. I’ve been speechless about it, and maybe that’s for the best. Instead, for now, please click on the image above. This is a dodecahedron lamp that Keith and Amanda got for me. I finished putting it together today. Just now I put it in my pitch black studio and took this image. For a few minutes my studio was full of stars.

Thank you, Keith and Amanda.

The Best Way To Do A Q&A

I gave a couple of talks last week, one for the community at large and one for the teaching symposium held here a few days ago.

Perhaps my favorite part of giving talks/lectures is the Q&A time afterward. I get into it. Here’s an example:

DSC_0599

That’s me in 2008, answering a question at the Glen Arbor Art Association. There I am, totally sun-burned, wine in hand, and in my element.

But I think the best way to answer questions is after my daughters run up to the front of the room and want to be with their dad while he talks:

MCTalk-DadGirls1smallThanks to Shalonda for capturing this image.

Wow. That’s a lot of life lived between the first image and the second.

For the record, Miranda asked a question herself while there in my arms. After looking at the image of one of my paintings up on the screen at the time, she asked, “Dad, don’t you think we should draw more back into that painting?”

No, babe, I think it’s done :)

Life, The Universe, and Everything

It’s Towel Day.

Get your Douglas Adams on. Read his books if you haven’t. I’ll be listening to him read his audiobooks in the studio.

I always do something for Towel Day. Here’s a post from 2010, and one from 2012.

dont_panic

For this year, here are a few of my favorite Douglas Adams quotes (presented in order of their appearance in the Hitchhiker’s “trilogy”):

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“The story so far:
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

“The technology involved in making something properly invisible is so mind-bogglingly complex that 999,999,999 times out of a billion it’s simpler just to take the thing away and do without it…. The ‘Somebody Else’s Problem Field’ is much simpler and more effective, and what’s more can be run for over a hundred years on a single torch battery. This is because it relies on people’s natural disposition not to see anything they don’t want to, weren’t expecting, or can’t explain.”

― Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe and Everything

“God’s Final Message to His Creation:
‘We apologize for the inconvenience.’”

― Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

“Protect me from knowing what I don’t need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don’t know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about. Amen.
Lord, Lord, Lord… Protect me from the consequences of the above prayer.”

― Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless

       “Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.”

― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

I’m thankful for your life, Mr Adams.

towelday2007

Me, back in 2007 (in Evanston, IL), celebrating Towel Day.

This Week in 2005

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 4.59.04 PM

This week in 2005 Alison and I arrived in Florence, Italy. Above is the path we took almost every day during our stay – from our apartment on Via Ricorboli (right hand of the picture) to the Church of Santa Felicita. (On the left – click the image above to explore the area).

Why did we make the nearly 2 kilometer trek so many times, even if our final destination was in some other part of the city?

Because Pontormo’s epic Deposition resides in that church. Here I am gazing up at the piece:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I must have spent 6 or 8 hours in front of that painting. I have thought about it, written about it, and taught about it many times over the last 8 years. This painting is ingrained in my life.

I can’t wait to walk once again along the Arno, sidestep the Ponte Vecchio, slip into the cool silence of Santa Felicita, and see it again.

My Favorite Sketchbook Page, and a Surprise 14 Years in the Making

zecchisphoto

Above is a double page spread from one of my most cherished sketchbooks. My main professor from graduate school (Barry Gealt) bought it for me during our trip together to Italy in the summer of 2005. The sketchbook is from Zecchi’s, the famous art store in Florence. I really cherish this handmade book. Every 6 months to a year I do a sketch of my wife, Alison, in the sketchbook. These two pages are amazing – the left page is from August 13, 2009, the right from August 7, 2010. They were drawn almost exactly a year apart, and yet what a difference! In the left hand image, Alison was pregnant… but we didn’t even know it yet. And there on the right side is little Miranda Grace Ballou, sleeping as we watch The West Wing. Such a juxtaposition. So much life.

And what a life I experienced today. After a full slate of teaching, I came home to fine china, wine, and risotto – certainly an event. And, of course, today is momentous. It was on this day in 1999 that Alison and I first shared our feelings, intentions, and hopes with each other. We began a dating relationship that would culminate in so much joy and growth for us. When I look into the eyes of our daughters, when I catch a glimpse of my wife across the room, when we come together to make firm determinations about what we plan to do with God’s grace… it’s in those times that I know how important this day was all those years ago. So we celebrate our wedding anniversary, but also find this day special. Here’s the spread Alison laid for us tonight – a simple, rich meal of Aline’s Risotto, fresh grapes, white wine, some flowers, and places set for four.

dateanniphoto

I am blessed – above and beyond, more than I could ask for or think of; it’s pure grace.

Thankful tonight.

The Range Book

My new book, Range: Paintings, Drawings, and Prints ~ 2000-2012, is now available for purchase!

thebook

Back at the end of 2012 I had a solo exhibition at William Woods University. You can read about it and see some images from the reception here. It was a fantastic experience, and I am grateful to Jane Mudd and Jennifer George-Sain for inviting me to present my work there. It really was a resounding success.

I coordinated with William Woods to create a catalog of the exhibition that would present all of the work that was on display, as well as numerous additional artworks that couldn’t be included in the show but which have bearing on the overarching themes and formal ideas with which I was working.  On top of the dozens of images it contains, the book features a series of short texts by me, as well as an introductory piece by the William Woods Gallery Coordinator Jennifer George-Sain. My mini-essays are designed to introduce the different shifts in my production and explain how the different series of work can be understood together. The title of the show, Range, really says it all; there has always been a broad range in my approach to artmaking. In spite of this, all of the pieces contain important threads that tie them together, and this book allows me to briefly introduce those connections and celebrate well over a decade of vibrant, productive time.

This full color book is 192 pages long and features many detail images that highlight special passages in certain artworks. It’s a pretty nice book.

Now here’s the special deal: I know the book is expensive. When you click over to the bookstore from the link below you’ll see just how expensive. But I am going to offer a hand-made, original mandala to everyone who provides proof of purchase. Let me say that again: for the price you pay you don’t just get the book, you get an original work of art as well.

You may be asking just what sort of artwork are we talking about? The pieces will be unframed works on paper featuring a mandala. When you send me your proof of purchase (the receipt that comes with the order or a picture of you holding your copy of the book, etc), I’ll provide you with some examples of what pieces are available and you can choose your own work. Each piece will be made on a piece of high quality fine art paper that is approximately 9 by 9 inches square (give or take a bit). Obviously since these are mandalas the works will be circular but the paper itself will be square. Each piece will be made in one or more of the following media: acrylic, oil, chalk pastel, oil pastel, colored pencil, graphite, and gouache. If you’d like to see a few examples of the type of works I’m describing, click here, here, and here.

If you’re interested, click the image below to see the book purchase page:

blurbshot

If you make a purchase, feel free to email me at balloum (at) missouri (dot) edu to find out how to get your artwork.