Hope life has been treating you all well and that you're all stoked for spring! It's time for me to play catch up in regards to letting you all know what's been going on around the studio.
The first quarter of this year has been pretty non stop. My wife Molly and I have traveled to California, Washington, Oregon and Kentucky to paint, climb rocks, and host workshops. I feel super fortunate to have had these experiences as they help in shaping my career and life. I cannot tell you how rad it has been to climb these areas and then paint these beautiful landscapes filled with history. These relationships continue to highlight how penetrating life can be. Tying these ideas together when I finished my new painting Cursory I had stated on Instagram that I,
... Just finished this painting and I'm stoked to share it with you. This spot is in Joshua Tree National Park and is in the Rock Garden Valley. This boulder field is the approach to some great classic climbs in the area. I had posted a painting a few weeks ago of a route called Double Dog Leg which also sits in this valley.
On my way out from climbing, I was struck by the alien beauty of the light bouncing off these strange rock formations and gradations of color, as the setting sun highlighted far mountains. It's moments like that, after a long day, that make me feel like I'm in the nirvana ether of the moment, where time has no grasp.
Maybe it's the adrenaline of a good climb, complemented by my affection towards color and the rewards of alcohol afterwards that excites me. But I'd rather not have such a post-modern substratum look towards it. I believe there are moments where we aline ourselves to exactly where we need to be.
It's moments like this that I feel as if I truly lived, unafraid of death, consoled, guided and because of this my intentions are complicated. These moments seem to burn with fury but for only so long. It then creates its own chase once again for the impermanent. But that's exactly the point, life's grandest moments are not about utilitarian purpose but rather those that have no purpose at all.
I also am finishing my last semester instructing at College for Creative Studies in their Illustration department; it is definitely bittersweet. I am taking up painting full time with the occasional studio workshop (more to come on these). Part of this decision also means Molly and I are going to move back to Grand Rapids, MI. Being closer to fam and what you like to paint has its plusses. Grand Rapids also has a diverse and growing beer, oh, haha, sorry "Art" scene (wait, no, they actually have a great beer scene too, read here). At some point, maybe, Molly and I may actually settle somewhere and I can set myself a proper studio, hopefully this will be it, but we'll see!
So in recap, I'm painting full time and taking commissions, I'm stepping aside (for now) my college instructing, I'm climbing a ton, and we are moving. With all that has been going on and these changes ahead of Molly and me, It's easy to imagine that these moments don't have any struggles. However, anytime there is growth there is challenges to face. One, I'm taking risks, big risks, I have to make a living entirely off of my painting. Two, I'm leaving academia. I went to grad school for teaching with a higher education in the arts and I have to face that just because I wanted something before, does not mean I'm still tied to that. Third, I'm rock climbing (self explanatory). Lastly, and I know this is more behind the scenes, but my wife Molly's career is ever evolving and growing, we continue to invest in hers and my businesses. These investments do not always pay off, but your business' wont grow if you don't take risks. I'll leave you with another quote from my Instagram on my first visit to Smith Rock, Oregon,
My wife took this photo of me before I was about to jump on the wall. Climbing is scary to me, I don't try to deny that. Sure, some times things are going smoothly and other times, not so much. I feel that in life we need to strive at 110% in everything we do, even when we are scared. I'm often told that I'm obsessive. No matter what I get into, I'm curious. It's that curiosity that gets ahold of me. What's possible with this? How far can I push this for myself? Where can this go? It's that uncertainty that's appealing. Stagnation is more scary than any wall, or blank canvas. I want to know that when I die, I at least tried to reach what I was capable of. So let's grab every opportunity for growth, because without it we'll never see what's possible.