The Upstate Book Project 2.0

The Upstate Book Project is a collaborative art project connecting artists throughout the Upstate area to write and illustrate a book one page at a time. The idea is that one artist starts a story and illustrates his or her page then hands it off to the next artist to continue the story and illustrate their page until the project is complete. Artists are juried in by a panel of judges. Selected artists then have 48 hours to submit their story line via email and four weeks to submit their illustration to a designated drop-off point. The story submissions are then edited for content. The artwork is photographed and compiled into book format and uploaded to a cloud publisher. The final product is a book in bound magazine format containing the entire story, written and illustrated by a group of artists/writers that may have never even met. More info at

The first Upstate Book Project was launched in October 2012. So, here almost five years later, I decided to do the project again. With that said, I called the usual suspects; Jim to help me with the major issues, Ian to photograph the work, Steve to edit and promote, and Susan for outreach and connectivity. I also brought in Nikki to handle a few updated technologies. All were on board with version 2.0 of the project. Technology has advanced a lot in five years, thus calling for an updated approach to several aspects. Just like last time, we had regular working lunches to try to pull this together by October 1st. It’s a good thing I kept the mainframe and Google Docs from the original, because the first time around it took us almost two years to put it together.  The exhibit is dropping Saturday,  April 8th, at The Hub City Tap House.

We said we would do the project again, then we said we would never do it again. Then, we did it again. I said I wouldn't do it again, again. Jim said he wouldn't do it again before but now thinks I / we should do it again because of new elements. I got interested at that point. So I think we will regroup and approach it better next time and do it again. Maybe. 







I Really Need a Bra!

Several weeks ago someone posted a website on my FB page as a joke or maybe a dare. I don't really know which but I clicked on the link and it was The Painted Art Bra Project  So I checked it out. Well hell yeah I'm gonna paint a bra for Breast Cancer Awareness and a fundraiser. So I walk into the house and ask my wife if I could have a bra. Well, she looked slowly up at me with a somewhat worried look and said nothing. I said, "I want to use it to do art". She replied, "Of Course you do". With that response I explained what the project was about and she graciously gave me a canvas. Being an artist gives you opportunities that you would not get in other professions. So I painted the twins from my Shadowland series on the bra connected by the pink awareness ribbon. It was the profile picture for a week on their FB page. Bra, donated. Talent, free. Doing something you love to do for an awesome cause? Priceless.


So Im an Artist, Now What?

So continuing with the "Help me, I Want to be an Artist" blog. A collection of things I've learned that help my students and maybe yourself be a better artist.      Art is like love, when its there you cant deny it. When its not, you cant force it.

You can only create what you are creating now.

Your eye is one eye length away from the other.

Trees are grey not brown. So are squirrels.

Your eyes are the same size your whole life.

Rust is not brown.

Figure out what color a shadow is.

You can only be the artist that you are. Don't try to be anybody else.

You don't choose to take a break from art, it chooses when it wants to take a break from you.

You can draw without lines.

If the piece hasn't sold in 10 years, paint over it. (I'm gonna get some flack for this)

You can draw a picture without a pencil, but not without an eraser.

 Move on! Don't get trapped into a style or subject. Variety is the spice of life.

You are only as good as your last work.

Enjoy the journey not the destination. (You don't rush through your vacation, why rush through your painting?)

Perception is reality. Be perceived professionally.

Stay in touch with those that support you.

Take every class that you can.

Try different mediums. Give them a chance.

And never sell your art for less than it cost you!


Splatterpunx Invade U.S.

So, a year later, we have recorded the album, made a few videos, set up the venue and recruited the sound engineer and videographer for the performance.  We have planned the stage show, called in a few favors, made the T-shirts and designed and printed the album cover.  Also, we  bought the CD cases, burned the CD's, set up a web page,  put the CD's together (no two alike), and  secured the venue.  We've advertised, called in a few more favors, and disrupted three lives for band practice for two months, all for a 30 minute concert and my dream of actually having my own album released. Geez! All that aside, the lesson is, if it means something to you and you want to see a dream come to fruition, you have to put in to it what you expect to get out of it. So when you watch the video, hear the songs, listen to the album, or watch the DVD, know that a year's worth of work, planning, sacrifice, and friendship went in to making a single complex art project. Progress takes time..... and passion. Join us for the Splatterpunx CD/MP3 release party at The Showroom at Hub-Bub Saturday, February 28th from 6-9. It will be a once in a lifetime experience. Trust me!

Toto, We're not in Kansas Anymore



So during the website transition, X amount of my blogs were lost. But through the power of technology I was able to recover about 50% of them. I will be posting them on and off to re-establish. So if you see posts that seem familiar you will know why.

Stupid Artist Goes to College

 Recently I have had several of my peers ask how I'm still making a living as an artist when they constantly struggle with everything they attempt? I ask them if they are maintaining a public accessible presence? And the reply is always, "What does that mean?" Many artists set out to make a presence and commit to contacting galleries, building a website, starting a blog, doing a workshop, etc. The problem is that they don't follow up. Usually this is because we live in a world of instant gratification and the payoff isn't quick enough. The issue with this is, progress takes time! Just because you don't see immediate results doesn't mean it's not working. If you set up a blog and no one responds, it doesn't mean it's not being read. Do you know how to use Google Analytics? Do some research and see how to work this angle A lot of artists submit work to a few galleries and get mad or give up because they haven't got a response in a few weeks, that doesn't mean the gallery is not interested. If you are contacting galleries, do your research. Don't send abstract work to landscape galleries and follow submission guidelines for each gallery. If the gallery wants photos first, don't include a cover page. They will assume that if you can't follow the guidelines then you aren't the artist for them. Others have a great idea for a workshop but never get past proposing it. Others set up a website but don't maintain it and wonder why no one returns to it. The artist who says "I have a website" to potential clients but hasn't looked at it themselves in a year shouldn't wonder why they didn't get hired.  If you are working on a website, commit to only one page at a time. Otherwise you will get scattered and will get nothing done. Prioritize! Building a fan base is hard work. So to address these problems, follow up on whatever project you have chosen this week! Maintaining all of the above on top of the daily stresses of being an artist can be overwhelming. First of all, commit to one project at a time. Multiple lists lead to multiple complications.  Following other people in your industry is always a good idea. And don't be afraid to ask for advice. Utilize your resources. What's important here is pay attention to what you are doing. If the commercial isn't interesting to you, it won't be interesting to anyone else. Sell yourself as you would be sold. Now quit wasting time and go get on it!

photo by Ian Curcio

Stolen Sculpture Shows Up At My House

 Several weeks back I went to an art trade show. You know, the kind where IBM, CBS, and other giant three letter companies show up to buy art for their 200,000 square foot lobbies. I was impressed at the quality of work I saw there. Not just your typical "artist in a gallery" stuff, I mean "I've seen that artist on 60 Minutes" kind of stuff.  As my friends and I walked around the last corner, I was blown away with a body of sculptural works made from clay. They looked so real that you thought they were going to speak to you. Now coming from an artist who was raised on Bernini and Michelangelo, this is saying a lot. I took pictures, with the artist's permission of course and came home completely inspired. My mentor always said, "a good artist doesn't borrow, he steals." So with that in mind, I decided to do my own interpretation based on this artist's work. Much in the way that Vallejo simulates Frazetta. The sculptures are based on tribes of the Omo valley in Ethiopia. I researched the ornamental style of the jewelry as well as ceremonial headdresses, tribal face paint, and piercing rituals. I have made the jewelry from purchased and found items, woven mussel shells into hair which I obtained from a local restaurant discards, (the shells, not the hair) and had a great time experimenting with different methods of executing facial paint. I have not only grown as an artist but gained a wealth of knowledge I wouldn't have been exposed to all because of another artist. Who knows? I may actually seek gallery representation for this stuff. And ya'll know that story, right? I will post new pieces on the Artistic Expressions as I finish them. Please return to see inspiration happen.

Metal Baby Born During Artistic Process


I have been working on a series of nude paintings from live models for about a year now and at some point I was reading International Artist magazine and came across an artist using gold leaf as a medium in his paintings. Well immediately I was going to do this. My own way, of course. So as usual without experimenting, (my way of doing things) I decided to do an entire series out of it. I started adding the leaf to all of the paintings and doing something different with each one. The series is to be exhibited in the Artists' Guild Gallery at the Spartanburg Museum of Art in April of 2011. This was the "let's see what we can do with it" piece. As you can see, the mind changes dramatically as the creative process evolves.


 I'm working with gold, copper, and silver leaf in my oil painting process. Placing the leaf on the canvas and using reverse finger painting technique by lifting the light out of the paint. Here, I'm gilding the leaf before I apply the paint. The medium is rather hard to work with as the leaves are as light as ash and can be blown out of your hand by as little movement as someone walking past you. There is no room for mistakes because once you apply the leaf to the surface there's no moving it. You have to work with cotton gloves and powder on your fingers so the leaf doesn't stick to your skin or tarnish. I'm  working on several other applications with this medium and will post updates as they progress. Check out the video process at


 So here is the first draft of what I thought was going to be an OK painting. As you can see, I changed directions several times before coming to terms with what I wanted.



So then I decided it would be more affective as a reverse shot, which of course required another session.


So then I added a breakaway effect to mix up the separation. And added fragments of silver leaf in the side ground. Which would be followed by fragments over the body to give it a 3-dimensional feel.


Finally, I added overlaps of silver leaf to give it that "over the top" feel. In my mind, this was the "throw away piece". It turned out just fine. In fact, it might be the best one of the series.


You Gotta Start Somewhere




Some artists feel that they are not good enough to do certain projects and turn down potential career- building jobs. The point is that you have to start somewhere. Don't be afraid to fail. My first mural was awful. Someone in my sculpture class was talking about painting a mural in their kid's room and I said, "'l'll do it!!" Not realizing I had no idea how to paint, and had only painted one picture in my life, and that was in the tenth grade. I realized that it was time to step up to the plate. And I didn't. (As seen above, my first mural compared to a recent mural.) Luckily, they were happy with it. Amazingly, her friend loved it and hired me to do her child's nursery and then again in their new house, and yet again in the next house. So you never know where your first job, good or bad, will lead you. That was thirteen years ago and now I can paint anything! What I'm trying to say is, "You gotta start somewhere." When I started, I had confidence but no skills. But by painting more murals, I got better. Like I said, "Progress takes time!" So don't fizzle your art for your confidence...or ego, just go, learn, do and get better. It will happen.