About the Project
I want to thank my wife for talking me into spending a week on a farm in Iowa. You’d think that living out here on the east end for the last 40 years that I would have eventually painted a few landscapes.
But everyone out here painted landscapes. I was busy illustrating children’s books and working on animated television series.
Now if you haven’t been to Iowa… let me say, Iowa is like going to the moon. It’s miles and miles of corn. Endless corn and endless sky. We lived in an old farm house to research a book we were writing about a farm. Let me put it this way… If you walked out the door and walked around the block, it was a 4 mile walk.
I woke up that first morning in Iowa…stepped outside to see the sunrise ….I knew I was going to shift my work in a major way.
We’ve been back to Iowa three times. I’m still painting landscapes from my trips there.
However, the main bulk of my work over the past 12 years has been digital, whether it was for a children’s book or development for an animated series.
As much as I enjoyed all the books and development art and character designs that I generated over the years, I missed the physical act of painting. I painted here and there but I really missed the day to day feeling of paint on a brush. I missed getting up every morning and simply applying paint to paper or canvas.
I was now burned out working on the iPad.
I have always kept sketchbooks of ideas. And sometimes I would look at something I drew and thought..well, I don’t really want to take the time to paint this idea 5 x5 feet. But if it was small… I could at least get it out of my system.
So, on January 1 of 2022 I took a small 8x8 hardboard canvas, a panel, and I started a project, that at first, was going to last a month. A painting a day for a month. I thought to myself. That’s a nice goal. I’d have 31 small paintings by the end of the month. And all landscape paintings from my sketchbooks from Iowa.
But it wasn’t long into January that I decided that I might be able to keep this up for a year and by the end of 2022 I would have 365 paintings. I would have an exhibit somewhere in 2023.
I’ve always been fascinated with dreaming. Every once in a while I’ll remember some crazy moment from a dream. A large wave… the glimpse of a tornado heading to our house. I would see my mom once in a while and that was nice. Sometimes my mother in law would say hello. She had a great smile.
And then when covid started…I began having some very vivid dreams. I think it was a form of stress management. But then as the coffee kicked in I wouldn’t remember much of the dream at all. Only snippets.
So these little landscapes, were a good way to explore dreams. I would paint a beautiful landscape and toss some random item into the mix to generate a story.
The rule was that I would wake up and figure out today’s painting and start it in the morning and it had to be finished by the end of the day. Done. If it wasn’t done…well… it would be. I never went back and corrected anything. I wanted to on a few but I stuck with the rule.
There is a running joke in my home. My wife looks over my shoulder and asks me, “So, how are you going to ruin today’s painting.”
I just can’t help myself. I needed to add a giant cat sunrise to a farm painting. I needed to see dinosaurs off in the distance.
Or Trolls walking along a highway. The burning of the Hollywood sign.
Cats in spacesuits.
I would have this beautiful little painting of a sunrise over a farm scene and there in the distance was an enormous spider being attack by a military jet.
I painted a cat sitting atop a nuclear bomb.
A monkey standing regally in front of the nation’s capital.
A man on fire falling onto a stage, like a vaudeville act.
A shadowy figure fire-bombing the Brandy Bunch house. My wife took offense with that painting and tried to get me to change it. She finally let it go.
Every picture paints a story.
I’ve always seen my paintings in terms of storytelling and storytelling in a theatrical setting. It’s not just about paint. It’s about the story and what’s actually happening in the painting.
When I was 6 years old my mother brought me to a Broadway show so I always loved the theater.
That’s why if you look at all these paintings you’ll see that a lot of them are presented in a theatrical way almost as if you are watching a scene play out on a stage or a movie screen.
I looked through all these paintings so far and discovered I love cats, robots, fire, end of the world disasters, masks and sunflowers and science fiction. These paintings viewed together are a look into my somewhat deranged imagination.
I thought in the spring that I might not make it all the way through. I began to doubt that I would have enough ideas to fill all 365 paintings with something compelling or interesting. I didn’t want to repeat paintings…that would be cheating. Every picture had to tell a different story.