Sunday, October 31, 2010

Miss Westen

Miss Westen was a hard teacher. She seemed to be about six feet tall but, looking back on those days I would guess her to be five feet four inches or so. I remember occasions where she would be at the black board, probably teaching us cursive or more math tables which we did every single day, but mostly she would walk about the room and hover over our desks, this giant
of a teacher, strict and no nonsense! I dreaded this "Summer Vacation" essay. I knew she would make us write it a million times, changing words, looking them up in a dictionery, finding different words in the thesarus, and always, as was her want, "be descriptive", make the sentences longer! Writing something for her would be a job and we could never just sit down and get it done. She would go on and on about adjectives and metaphors, the "little helpers" that bring language alive. These assignments always began simple enough. She would bring something from her home and we would have to describe it. What was simply "a box" would become "a box on a table" and she would encourage our ideas as she wrote them on the blackboard. "Green box"! would enevitably become "the flat squarish box with tattered green wrapping paper, a gift always recycled and missing its ribbons, waiting to be the last present opened on this snowy Christmas Eve." That is really the way she did it, always a subject and a verb, those damned adjectives and metaphors can always tell a story in themselves. Make the reader want to know more, eagerly turning the page, alive.
Even at ten years old I knew this was going to happen. How could a teacher as old as the hills
really be curious about my summer vacation? It was going to be about writing and rewriting and making a big deal of something that happened during the summer. We had already been taught about "the audience", blogging had another fifty years before it would appear and only personal journals could start a topic with "I". This is almost before television, that media which destroyed reading, entertaining us with the delusion that an entire story could be told in thirty minutes. Television got the format right. Always set up the scene first, developing the questions
of where and when and who and why and how? I don't think Miss Westen owned a television set
but I knew she would be looking for these questions and their answers in our essays, and I knew
she had a penchant for making the reader curious! Now, how was I going to do that? I didn't remember exactly what happened that summer, not in every little detail that she would want to hear...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Roast Brisket of Mouse!

and other cool recipes.
When I was in the fourth grade, about ten years old, my teacher, an old spinster named Miss Westen, asked the class to write an essay on "What we did on our summer vacation". I think many of you did the same thing. I did this the previous year with a different teacher and I don't remember her name. She was fat; that is all I remember about her.
I remember Miss Westen because she was an old lady, I mean really old, over sixty for sure
and probably older than that. She taught my brother four years earlier and even my dad, like a million years ago! It was a small school and she taught everything. I have the mathematical tables permanently etched into my brain because of her.
I was so stumped on how to begin this essay on my summer vacation. Some kids had it lucky and actually went somewhere, maybe even Disneyland, and had a lot to talk about. Summer days in our little town were pretty boring. Well, we did have a creek that ran through the town and into the nearby hills and with my best friend, Bill, the two of us would hike this often, searching for treasures, catching frogs and letting them loose and sometimes actually catching enough crawdads to take home and make a meal. Other kids did this too and would be writing about it and there was that Disneyland story! How could I beat that?
Summer evenings, right after dinner, I would run out to play. These evenings are etched into my mind right along with the mathmatical tables! We played softball in the street and kick the can and hide and go seek and a million other games that would cause us to get so tired we would sleep so well. Sometimes I would sleep over at Bill's house and often we would sleep outside in
sleeping bags under the stars. We would find the constellations and learned to identify them.A favorite passtime was to pick a star, one star out of a katrillion, and make the other find it!
One time Bill found my star and I told him that I was really from a planet that circled that sun!
I was visiting here and often through time travel would go back and forth to my home planet.
I don't think he ever believed me but he always asked me questions about it.
Well, that was all jibberish, I couldn't write about that, could I? I'll tell you what I ended up doing tomorrow, if you are interested!

Friday, October 29, 2010

You are Invited...

When I was young my parents gave great parties and I remember most of them. They purposely had fewer chairs than invited guests, a tactic to keep people moving from conversation to conversation and mingle. Sometimes these parties were "themed" and music was encouraged, people bringing guitars and on these occasions someone who could play the piano that sat against the living room wall was always invited. Sometimes food was the theme and my parents would prepare a gourmet seven course meal. My parents were not artists but had a tendency to "live that sort of life", certainly neither of them painted. I remember once my father got this notion to have a "painting party", not like a barn raising where you might paint a room but an occasion where one had the chance to express themselves on canvas! He borrowed

some of the "props" for this party. He had three easels set up in three areas of the house, each with a station of paints (oil at that!) and brushes with newspapers spread about to protect the floor. No one was told about this theme beforehand, in fact, it was a "cocktail party" and people were encouraged to wear their "best". Little black dresses were everywhere! None of these people were painters, not an artist amongst them, but boy did they have fun! There were no rules and no talent, at least no experienced talent and no attempt to "paint a picture", these were abstract in the extreme! Certainly no one person painted one painting, we all chipped in and added our "statement", incorporating what went before us, painted over and losing a work of art forever, or added to the effort of those before us. A lot of silliness and oh and ah's and even some appreciation and wonderment: "what did they mean by that?" Nothing, of course, it was all good fun.

So here is MY IDEA!!! Let's tell a story! "Let's" is my favorite word in the world! Let us. It

is an acknowledgement we are not alone and an encouragement to do something together. It is an admission that I can't do it by myself and want your help. "I" is my least favorite word for the very opposite reasons. It means I am alone. So, will you please come to my party, right here and right now? I will begin it simply with a couple paragraphs and your comments will be a continuation of the story. There are no rules, we can go back and forth in time and place, include more characters, sit in a corner and view what is going on, move about and get to know each other.

It was a dark and stormy night.... no, that one is taken, isn't it? I will begin it this way:

I saw the crime from the hospital window the day I was born. Now Love was dead and I had come into the world too late to save her, but only to hopelessly watch as she gasped for air, finally to be sucked into the undertow of a growing sea. I watched as men frantically tried in desperation to save her, but saw their bloody hands pull her apart and push her under, laughing in their hollowness inside. No one knew anything of the absence of love and continued about their business, carrying on as if she had never disappeared. Some held signs, a last effort in calling for love, but found only a shadow of her abstraction on the waters' edge, spreading as a thin oily film, trying and failing miserably to cover the surface......

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Free Advertizing

I am "Googleable" - you can look me up!
Jerry Carlin. I am not a famous artist (I'm still alive!) and there is nothing particuarly noteworthy about me. One day I took about four hours on this net to just see how difficult this would be. It is pretty easy, really. You join a bunch of free sites and they do the work for you.
This is the modern world of the net. It is no longer "I think, therefor I am". It is I am digitable, I am pixels, I exist in cyberspace, so I am alive! Well, that is a bunch of crock of course but people want to know who you are, where you can be found, what kind of art you produce, and in my case because I am invited into their homes, what kind of person you are. The internet is great for this. When I am represented in a local gallery or even up and down this valley I live in,
I always find the local internet classifieds or Craigslist, and post a listing there directing people to my websites and telling them what I do. Hey, here is one of my sites now:
I must have at least 10 websites and most of them are free and all of them will make you more findable.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


A fellow artist gave me the courage to do this. She paints on everything, her kitchen counter top,
her bathroom floors, on anything that will hold the paint. It looked like so much fun but I was "just a welder", hadn't painted since I was in grade school and I had no idea what I was doing.
"Have fun!" was the guidance she gave me, it doesn't have to be perfect! This was my first attempt and the paint was still wet when it sold!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Garden as Art

This is on my way to work, the 100 feet or so I walk every morning to my studio. My little third acre where I hang out and find comfort from the world's problems. This was all barren ground forty years ago and has changed radically over the years, at times being a debris field for left-over construction projects, a playground and digging field for my children, and always somewhere in here, a garden. I have had gardens all my life, sharing them with my parents as a youngster and on my own since I was seventeen. Sometimes I was moving about and they were simple and small and maybe just a flower pot but I have always been amazed at the promise of a seed. If I am nice to it, it is nice to me! Wouldn't life be so nice if it were that simple?

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Gazillion Megapixels!

What if God were an Artist? You don't have to look far for evidence of this. His canvas is huge, the Night Sky so mesmerizing, the early morning sunrise so promising, all colors we steal from Nature and we are humbled and left in awe. How it all works we do not understand but even hurricanes and firestorms are cleansing and promise new growth.
Now suppose He gave this to us all at once, everything. What would you say if asked was it enough? Why is it we always want more when we dont make use of what we have?

The NorthWest Coastal American Indians invented the "potlatch", the term now being our "potluck" dinner. This was actually a pleasant type of warfare, the winning chief was the tribe that brought the most to the table, not just food, but gifts of animal skins, even canoes, the best of what they could give away! What a wonderful tradition! God gives so much and also gives us our ability to share what we have.

I wonder sometimes when we hear of people in need, why is it that we want to pray for them?
Are we now asking God to create MORE? Would we ever really admit that what we are asking
is "please, God, let me keep everything I have, but make some more for them"? I think we pray
because it is easier than giviong up our lattes. We pray because we want someone else to do it.
We have our stuff and we pray that you get yours!

I am skeptical of prayer and never pray for things for me or for others. I pray for appreciation
that I could be satisfied with less than I have. I pray for strength that gives me appreciation.
I pray for courage to give me that strength. I have never prayed for more but to make good use of what I have, and sometimes, often, the answer is to give it away!

I think God is an artist and we are here to appreciate His work.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Installation Art

Like most artists most of my work is done by myself, alone in solitude, contemplating and creating. But I am also an "installation artist" and do really big projects and these require assistance. Truthfully, I love these the most. I like the educational opportunities, the shared laughter, the awe, and the tiredness at the end of a completed job well done.
I interested my daughters at an early age in "doing things around the house". When my wife said that it meant cleaning and laundry but when I said it they knew we were going to build something! We did this enough that they gained a lot of confidence over the years and now they are not afraid to tackle anything. When they were eight and eleven years old they decided they wanted a pool in the back yard. I told them that if they did the digging I would help them build the pool.
They dug a hole 3 feet deep (one meter) by 15 feet long and nine feet wide, all by themselves!
My wife helped and the four of us built this little plunge pool, using left over bits of tile and slate
to finish it off. This created memories I will never forget and how proud I was when they invited their friends over to the pool they built! And another nice thing! my daughters are grown and gone now but I still have the pool!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Office Door

This is the door to my office. My shop is my studio and in my backyard and I walk the hundred feet or so to "work" every day. It is a pleasant walk, across the stone bridge, past the little plunge pool I built with my daughters when they were eight and eleven, along the edge of the garden, flowers greeting me all along the way. None of this is luck, it is the advantage of living in the same house for forty years and it is who I am. I built everything on this little third acre,
planted every tree, nourished every little plant. I have lived here long enough that it has changed radically over the years. Where once there were playgrounds and swings and jungle gyms is now a greenhouse and display area for my metal work. The steel and concrete bridge was once a cedar bridge that I also built 35 years ago and finally its time had come and I wanted to build one last bridge, never to be replaced. I built my house and everything in it, all the furniture, the art, the floors that I walk on. All of this took more time than money and if I had had the money I might have bought it, but I was willing to wait and enjoyed the experience and the learning involved in doing it myself.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Neighbors will see it.

This is what I did yesterday. It is a big enough Entry to a side garden that the neighbors will see it. 90% of my work is word of mouth so it is always a good thing to make it big and the best that I can. It is designed to discourage the deer.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Self-portraits are both difficult to do and complicated. I think we never see ourselves as other's see us. I sometimes wonder if there is a constant being in this body. I know that by necessity we are different around different people and we can't be funny all the time. They lie by emphasis and omission. They are necessary though to understand ourselves and to discover what is behind the art?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One Green Line

This is stretched canvass over a steel frame.
The green line I suppose would be the self-portrait aspect of this.
It was meant to fill a wall space and to just experiment, using every color I had. In doing this I discovered that the background is as important as the painting. It will dictate how we view a painting and even whether or not we see the painting, especially from a distance. I am used to my metal art, Home Shows, and outdoor art where I want to draw attention to it from 100 feet away! This works for that!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One More Dance!

I started "painting" about one year ago and never thought I could do what a camera does. These are red flowers of no particular variety; they exist here and in my mind only. Their sole function is as a burst of color on an otherwise bland and dreary landscape. It is how I see the world, an opportunity to dance amid chaos!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

How Hard Could This Be?

For most of my life I have been far too busy to "be an artist". I have always had the elements
of an artist, I have the eye for it, my skills were in the construction trade where detail is important. It was on my fiftieth birthday that I had the opportunity to change my life. To make the story short, that year I quit the construction business, layed off seven employees, built a
1000 square foot studio in my backyard and bought a little welder! I had never even seen a welder before! What drove me to this, and I will admit I was pretty fanatical, was customers wanting Ornamental Iron between my Stone Posts. (I'll tell you the Stone Posts Story later if you are interested). I couldn't find a welder with any enthusiasm, with a sense of balance, with passion, with an eye for what needed to be done. Welding is really simple. I could teach you to weld in five minutes! Like a lot of art skills it takes about 2,000 hours to get good at it and I practiced every day! In the begining I made junk, just welding metal together and having fun going to scrap yards on a hunt for material. Within a year I knew I could make a living doing this
and had my "stuff" at several local nurseries on consignment. It was a "hit" and I made trellis's
and arbors and garden art by the truckload! It was just two years ago that someone encouraged me to "be in an art gallery". I found one in a tourist town surrounded by vinyards not too far from where I live and visited them to see what they had. Two weeks later I brought them a truck load! It was that simple!

Friday, October 8, 2010

One Week Challenge

Here is a challenge for you! Could you go a week without buying anything imported from China? Check the labels, this is a lot more difficult than you might think. What is our urge to buy junk? I think it should be a law that we have to spend a day at the dump just to see what gets thrown away: almost
everything! What are your thoughts on this?
This grape cluster is made from scrap steel and ball bearings
on a copper backing, all found at the dump!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Big Art

The assignment was to design and build a roof over these stairs. There were five of us bidding on this project which was a little like comparing apples to oranges since we all approached the task a little (a lot!) differently. I got the job and this is what I did. I love huge Art! I love driving by this site and knowing I built it, knowing it will be there for a long time and knowing it is the only one in town! That is what artists want, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Over 4,000 Hits!

Wow, I was the "featured artist" over the weekend on with a pic of my dirty hands! I got over 4,000 "hits" in one day!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

When a Welder Paints

I started painting one year ago and knew from the begining that I couldn't do what a camera can do. Welding is different than painting. It is not like glueing things together, you are actually mixing molecules from one piece of steel into the other and if you are good at it, these are in little swirls.
As I began painting I did it the same way. This is probably the third or forth and I have only about 20 paintings total. They are representative.

Monday, October 4, 2010

10,000 RPM

Here is one more, an early one where I tried to direct the tools to do what I wanted. The grinders turn at 10,000

Revolutions per Minute so one second is a lot of grinding.

You get an idea of what you want to do and then you have very little time to implement your ideas. This is "quick art"
you get about two minutes to say what you have to say. Then you bring out the torch because without the heat there is really nothing there. 10-15 seconds for the earth tones, a little longer when you want it darker, but 30 seconds will bring out the blues and quickly with a little more heat these will turn to the red tones. The really bright white and silver coloring is from grinding after it has been torched. What is fun about this process is you never really know what it will be until you are finished.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Saxaphone for Barbra!

Here is the Sax Barbra! I never got a really good photo and the original is long gone! This was the second in the series and I am still learning and discovering all the colors I can get from a torch. No paint, no stain, do dyes, only the torch,
heat on stainless steel is providing all the color. The whole series sold pretty fast, one day I'll make another! A series on musical instruments in pencil would be great too, don't ya think?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Sound and the Furry

Abstract, meaningless, an accidental discovery!
I have lots of grinders and sanders in my shop and they all behave a little differently. When I use one I first scratch at this piece of stainless steel to see how it will do. One day it got caught in the camera lense as I was taking a photo of something else and I liked the way the light caught it. If you click this and make it bigger you will see a lot of detail and cool shapes in it. I studied it for hours and took about a hundred photos of it. Moving the camera a half an inch caught the light differently and produced a different result. I became lost on that day and wondered "how did I do that?" What grinder made the chains? How did I get the water effect at the bottom? and where the heck did the colors come from? How did I take a flat piece of stainless steel and give it debth? So this is the piece that sparked my curiosity and it was all an accident! Every single little detail by chance!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Color of Metal

I once did a series on musical instruments, this piano, a guitar, a saxaphone, some drums and
a violin. These were steel framed sheets of stainless steel. The image is scratched out and created with grinders and sanders. All the color comes from a torch! I took the finished pieces to the local paint shop and had them powder coated clear. Heavy Metal, for sure! These were my first attempts at painting before I ever discovered acrylics or a paint brush.