Jun 30 2010

The Upside Of Fear

At work today I saw an incredible “motivational speaker” – his name is Weldon Long. A lot of times I’m a bit skeptical of things like this…especially when I saw the drumset on the stage. And when the speaker opens with playing said drumset to Van Halen’s Jump, well…I was more than a little ready to bolt.

But Mr. Long’s life story and transformation is extremely inspirational. He was first arrested for attempted murder, and armed robbery in 1987 on the highway at the exit for my town, Castle Rock, CO. He was an alcoholic, drug abuser, and pretty much at the bottom.

Here’s some more of his story:

Weldon Long’s story:

On June 10th, 1996, my father died and my life changed forever.

At the time I was in federal custody on mail fraud and money laundering indictments – it was my third time in prison. In fact, I was a career criminal, high-school drop-out, homeless alcoholic. I had abandoned my three-year-old son and broke every promise I had ever made.

I was the personification of the bottom of the barrel.

In the days following my father’s death, the regret and remorse of a wasted life crushed me. For the first time in my life I saw myself for what I truly was, and I was sickened by what I saw. I knew I had to change.

But there was a small problem: I didn’t know where to start. That’s when I found the book that changed everything. In a small room that served as the facility’s library I found a copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People written by Dr. Stephen Covey.

As I began to read the book I felt a sense of excitement I had never before felt. I felt as though Dr. Covey was speaking directly to me. For the first time in my life I began to seriously consider the values that had governed my life, and I realized that I had not been breaking the universal principles of success – I was breaking myself against them. The personality ethic had governed my behavior as I pretended and faked my way through life. My only hope was living my life according to the character ethic described by Dr. Covey.

After reading 7 Habits I set out to rebuild my life and become a man I could love. Moreover, I resolved to be the father to my son I had never been. Over the next 7 years as I served my third prison sentence, I began to see the fruits of implementing the 7 habits. I began to take responsibility for my responses to whatever came my way in life. I began to visualize how I wanted my life to be years in the future. And I began to get my priorities straight.

By the time I left prison in 2003, I had earned my BS in Law and an MBA in Management. Within six months of getting out my son was living with me, and within a year I had married the most amazing woman I had ever known. Within three years of getting out my new wife and I owned the largest residential HVAC company in Southern Colorado. And within four years of getting out of prison my wife and I owned a beautiful home on Maui. I had completed my transformation from Prison to Paradise by implementing the things Dr. Covey had taught me through those lonely prison years.

Today, my wife and I have successful companies and my son, who is now 16, is a happy, outgoing teenager with a bright future ahead of him. I have written a book about my journey called The Upside of Fear, which outlines my twenty year cycle of prison, poverty and addiction and how I broke the cycle. My hope is that others will learn from my story and come to realize the dreams really do come true – if we work for them.

I hope to learn a lot from this, and apply it to my journey to becoming an artist.

Jun 23 2010

The End – #34

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need…of some…stranger’s hand
In a…desperate land
Lost in a Roman…wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane
Waiting for the summer rain, yeah
There’s danger on the edge of town
Ride the King’s highway, baby
Weird scenes inside the gold mine
Ride the highway west, baby
Ride the snake, ride the snake
To the lake, the ancient lake, baby
The snake is long, seven miles
Ride the snake…he’s old, and his skin is cold
The west is the best
The west is the best
Get here, and we’ll do the rest
The blue bus is callin’ us
The blue bus is callin’ us
Driver, where you taken’ us
The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall
He went into the room where his sister lived, and…then he
Paid a visit to his brother, and then he
He walked on down the hall, and
And he came to a door…and he looked inside
Father, yes son, I want to kill you
Mother…I want to…WAAAAAA
C’mon baby,——— No “take a chance with us”
C’mon baby, take a chance with us
C’mon baby, take a chance with us
And meet me at the back of the blue bus
Doin’ a blue rock
On a blue bus
Doin’ a blue rock
C’mon, yeah
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill
This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
It hurts to set you free
But you’ll never follow me
The end of laughter and soft lies
The end of nights we tried to die
This is the end

This piece is inspired by the song The End, (this version gets cut off, the end of the song is here) by The Doors. Maybe made most memorable from the movie Apocolypse Now.

Photo credits:
Blue bus: Dimitri Visser
Sky: Matthew Beeton
Snake 1clix
Snake 2Nitin Ale
Weird scenes inside the gold mineJana Buchmann
Face from the ancient galleryHajnalka Papp

Jun 21 2010

Artists helping the animal victims of the Deep Water Horizon Gulf Oil Spill

Last week I did the piece “Ripple (Moonlight Drive)” for Illustration Friday. What I didn’t realize until after I entered it is that the Ripple movement is a coordinated effort by Kelly Light and other artists to donate their talents in return for a $10 donation to either The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies or The International Bird Rescue Research Center. There’s some really nice pieces on there – I suggest you go on and take a look!

From the Ripple blog:
Donation Details – How this works
Each sketchcard on this blog is $10.00. The $10.00 is a donation to help the animal victims of the Deep Water Horizon Gulf Oil Spill. Every penny is donated. The two Non-Profits that are benefitting are The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies and The International Bird Rescue Research Center. You can purchase a card if you donate directly to one of the non-profits and email me the confirmation and your address to ripplesketches@verizon.net. The artist will mail you the signed card.

We don’t have to feel helpless. We can help. Our small actions together will ripple outward.

When I saw this I emailed Kelly offering two of my pieces, Ripple (Moonlight Drive) and Octopus’s Garden. (You can see the link to my portion on the Ripple site here) – As of right now Octopus’s Garden is sold, but Ripple (Moonlight Drive) is available, by following Kelly’s directions on the Ripple site. One left….hurry if you’re interested!

Here are the links for the technically challenged :)

However…I originally wanted to do a limited run of these, but Kelly is unable to process multiple orders for the same piece, due to the huge volume she is receiving. They’ve raised over $4000 so far!

So, I have an additional five 4×6 prints of Octopus’s Garden:

and five 4×6 prints of Ripple (Moonlight Drive)

available for you!

All you have to do is donate $10 to either The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies or The International Bird Rescue Research Center, and email me the confirmation of the donation to steve@freshandmodern.com, along with your address where to mail the hand-signed print.

Thank you, and let me know if you have any questions!

Jun 16 2010

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

I signed up today for The Sketchbook Project: 2011.

Thousands of sketchbooks will be exhibited at galleries and museums as they make their way on tour across the country.

After the tour, all sketchbooks will enter into the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Art Library, where they will be barcoded and available for the public to view.

Basically you pay an entry fee, and they send you a sketchbook. You get to select a theme for your sketchbook, based on ones they have. I picked Nightmare. You then sketch in it, filling it up. You have to mail it back in by January 15, 2011, and it “goes on tour” beginning in March 2011. So far they have the following cities: Brooklyn, NY – Austin, TX – San Francisco, CA – Portland, ME – Atlanta, GA – Chicago, IL – Seattle, WA

More on the project:
Your book will tour the country
Every artist who completes their sketchbook and returns it to us will have their book included in the tour. Your book will visit galleries and museums across the country, putting your art in front of thousands of people. (Psst – this is a great way to add some new lines to your résumé.)
A custom library card
Every person who views a book, whether it be at the exhibition or in The Brooklyn Art Library, receives a library card to use while browsing. As a participating artist, you’ll receive a limited edition library card with your name on it.
Can’t make it to an exhibition?
With artists participating from all around the world, we know it’s impossible for everyone to be able to see our exhibitions. But we don’t like “impossible.” We’ll be filming exhibitions from the tour so our far-away artists can see first-hand how viewers interact with their work. And the exhibition at The Brooklyn Art Library will be broadcast live over the internet! Take that, impossible.
Your book is unique. And you can track it.
Your sketchbook will be given a barcode with a unique number – this allows us to keep track of your book and record who views it at every tour date and while it’s in The Brooklyn Art Library. And after we catalog it, artists will be able to log-on and view realtime statistics about their book for years to come.
Viewing notifications
Each and every single time your book is viewed, you’ll receive an e-mail or a text message alerting you what city it was viewed in and the first name of the person browsing through it (well, only as long as they provide their name!) Even better, you can turn these notifications on or off at will.
Never get lost.
Just like your local library, we know exactly where each sketchbook is hiding. You can send friends, family, and art lovers to The Brooklyn Art Library and we’ll be able to immediately pull your book – or any other work you may have displayed with us – for them to view. Same goes for our tour. We like to keep things organized.
Your information is in the pocket.
There’s a handy pocket attached to the inside cover of every sketchbook. Inside this pocket, you can place a card that contains your artist information – anything from a short biography to your website address.
The project gets around.
As the Sketchbook Project has been growing over the years, magazines, newspapers and blogs have been keeping up with us – which means great exposure for you as an artist. CNN aired a piece about the 2009 tour, five participants were featured in a Time Out NY article about the 2010 tour, and PBS wrote an article about the 2009 tour which featured work from a slew of participants.

I paid extra to get my sketchbook digitized, so it will be online also. The library keeps the original sketchbook. Sounds like a fun project, and it will help me get back on track drawing.

Jun 15 2010

Illustration Friday – Ripple (Moonlight Drive – #33)

Let’s swim to the moon, uh huh
Let’s climb through the tide
Penetrate the evenin’ that the
City sleeps to hide
Let’s swim out tonight, love
It’s our turn to try
Parked beside the ocean
On our moonlight drive

Let’s swim to the moon, uh huh
Let’s climb through the tide
Surrender to the waiting worlds
That lap against our side

Nothin’ left open
And no time to decide
We’ve stepped into a river
On our moonlight drive

Let’s swim to the moon
Let’s climb through the tide
You reach your hand to hold me
But I can’t be your guide

Easy, I love you
As I watch you glide
Falling through wet forests
On our moonlight drive, baby
Moonlight drive

Come on, baby, gonna take a little ride
Down, down by the ocean side
Gonna get real close
Get real tight
Baby gonna drown tonight
Goin’ down, down, down

This week’s Illustration Friday theme is Ripple, and this is my take on it. So tempting to do something featuring a bottle of cheap wine….but no. This is one of those happy sounding songs with a darker meaning. The song is Moonlight Drive, by The Doors. The last few days I’ve had a bit of a creative block, but Moonlight Drive popped into my head today, and this is the result. I don’t want to give it away too much, but although this might look quite a bit abstract, it really is figuratively based. I like the viewer to come up with their own interpretations. Of course you can always cheat and go to the photo credit links…but where’s the fun in that? :)

Photo credits:
Moonlit oceanHenrik Bernhard

Jun 3 2010

Illustration Friday – Slither – #32

I haven’t done an Illustration Friday topic in awhile, so I decided to take a stab at this week’s topic – Slither. There is a Metallica song called Slither, but this piece really isn’t based on that. I figured a lot of people might do snakes for this one. I started thinking about something slithering out of a sewer cover in a street, and that’s what led to this piece. Kind of like Stephen King’s It, which always freaked me out.

Photo credits:
StreetLindsey Bergquist
Manhole coverJulia Eisenberg
CreatureFaith Good