Category Archives: why

Filling with Space

More fooling around with the granite sketch.  Studio shot of work in progress, acrylic and ink on canvas:

Carraher 2020

Completely different approach than the last posted, but it is in line with an enduring stylistic interest of mine that comes up every so often and never really goes away.  Witness this pastel from all the way back in 1999:

Pinto Mountains from Wonder Valley - CCJD 1999

Pinto Mountains from Wonder Valley
1999.  Pastel and charcoal on sandpaper, 14 x 10-1/8 in.

This is a view from my property, right after I acquired my studio.  I was just beginning to try out ways to encompass the enormity of what I was seeing – the enormity, the simplicity, the complexity.  And how it’s all happening at once, in one vast pulsating organism filled with space.  Still working on it.


More Granite

Granite VIII - Carraher 2020
Granite VIII
July 2020.  Acrylic and ink on canvas, 11 x 14 in.

Still interested in the shape of the granite boulders, but not so much in their texture here. Where I’m really (always) heading is toward simultaneity.  The interpenetrability of the substance and the ether.

This started with a quick contour sketch up near Stirrup Tank in Joshua Tree National Park.  The umber and ochre are applied with a brayer for randomness.

I’m continuing to work with the same sketch, using different approaches.  More to come.

small Ways

Summer of This Year - Carraher 2020Summer of This Year
June 2020.  Acrylic on panel, 8 x 10 in.

When I finish a painting sometimes I have some piles of paint left on the palette, so I’ll take a small, inexpensive panel like this one and use those tail-ends to do a little improvisation.  It’s one of my favorite things to do because I have zero load on it, no plan and no expectations – just “seeing what happens”.  I always learn something, and sometimes I like the results.  Like this one, which I like pretty swell.  The color is off-balance in this image, though, because the scanner couldn’t pick up the viridian – that dull blue should be a luscious aqua-green.  A summer palette.

Prayer Flags

Prayer Flag (Green) - Carraher 2020

Prayer Flag (Green)
April 2020.  Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 12 in.

So it’s not all pandemic gloom-and-doom here at Magicgroove studio.  There’s also pandemic hopefulness.  Okay, if not hopefulness then at least the sharing of positive intention and an interlude of grace.

The Prayer Flags series was created in March and April of this year, in that ancient time when it seemed all of us were pulling together, engaged in a common purpose and treating one another with generosity even amid chaos, suffering, and loss.  In that time before our leaders turned us against one another, and we realized that our nation, fatefully, was not capable of resisting the virus.

My work thrived with so much solitude, with the new opportunity to focus and explore in the midst of intense changes.  The prayer flags appeared, each one an improvisation, a mix of accident and intention.  Release of control followed by response, followed again by release of control.  I am perfectly happy working that way, despite the moments of apprehension. I know that forging ahead and letting go are necessary to get to a new place.

And people responded, somewhat to my surprise with abstract work.

You know what?  It was hope.


Plague Faces: Why

Plague Faces No. 16

Plague Faces No. 16
May 2020.  Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 in.

I want to be clear why I created the Plague Faces series.

By the time I’d returned home from the hike the four aspects of the project were forming in my mind:

  • bringing the faces of the lost before us
  • marking the ongoing loss daily by posting the faces with a statement on social media
  • raising money for covid relief
  • exploring artistically the potential of an initial vision

Whether the actual works are successful artistically is its own matter.  But I believe firmly in the need to recognize the loss and the culpability.  Silence — and evasion, and denial — is death.

If you need a real-life face, and a family with the grief and rage of avoidable profound loss, see the righteous obituary for Arizona covid victim Mark Antony Urquiza of Arizona.  (Edited to add:  The Urquiza family social media campaign is Marked by Covid.)

I will be donating half the proceeds of sales from the Plague Faces series for covid relief.

I paint this series to recognize those who have died or suffered grave loss in this crisis, and, further, to accuse those who have knowingly, willfully, or carelessly pursued polices, actions, and inactions that allowed these deaths and suffering to happen and who continue to do so at this moment.

Plague Faces: First Vision

Plague Faces No. 4 - Carraher 2020.  Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 in.

Plague Faces No. 4
May 2020. Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 in.

I was hiking in the National Park just a few weeks ago, brooding about…things, and an image came into my head, of faces. The faces of the dead, those lives wasted in the pandemic by the carelessness of our leaders. I realized later the faces of the vision were related to the archetypal faces we see in stone on Easter Island, but, really, the simple model is basic throughout human culture.

This is the fourth version I did based on that impulse, and comes the closest to what I saw in that first moment. I did not mean to leave it without texture or additional color, but when I got to this point I realized I was satisfied, and stopped. It is, like so many of the Plague Faces, pretty rough as an artwork.  For instance, the interior ears were painted with a different black pigment and don’t quite fit in.  I tended to leave these works to chance, and skip any refining – kind of like what life itself does to us, and our faces.

I paint this series to recognize those who have died or suffered grave loss in this crisis, and, further, to accuse those who have knowingly, willfully, or carelessly pursued polices, actions, and inactions that allowed these deaths and suffering to happen and who continue to do so at this moment.

Why, and How

Our Dangerous Spring - March 2020.  Acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 in.

Our Dangerous Spring
March 2020. Acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 in.

Welcome, my friends. I have more time to paint now, and I’m feeling like talking about it.  That impulse, in combination with the currently limited opportunities to show and discuss the work in the regular contexts (it’s a pandemic, baby), have led me back to the blog format.  I’ll be posting intermittently about my experience in the studio, work in progress, thoughts on older pieces perhaps – the why, the how.  Also maybe some other artists I like, events coming up, and…we shall see. 

I’ve blogged before, including a blog of cultural documentation and another, more literary, art/identity performance.  The format suits me, although I can already tell my tone here is different.  I’m older, less interested in my own charm.  It’s the work I’m interested in.  It’s the work I’m writing about.

I’ve debated leaving comments turned off but decided I’ll try it out and hope it doesn’t distract. But for sure, please do send me any thoughts or questions via the Contact page; I will be happy to hear from you.  If you want to receive new posts automatically there are RSS and WordPress buttons in the sidebar, plus an option to receive email notice of new posts. And please do check out my Magicgroove website, where you’ll find lots of my recent and past work and projects, press and interviews, etc.