Saturday, May 19, 2012


"Organic/Inorganic"  10" x 8" ink and watercolor on 140 lb Fabriano Artistico rough paper
On a day when I was feeling particularly laden with the sad news that a close - very close - family member has cancer (which makes three significant people in my life battling the disease), I wanted to paint, but was too exhausted to think too hard.  I decided I would let my subconscious control, and the above painting resulted.

At first I thought it was going to be an abstract piece, but representational elements intruded.  It became a pictorial metaphor:

And vulnerability.

A flow of rocks severing a vein-like stem.

I was surprised at how letting go resulted in the near-perfect representation of my feelings.

Funny how the mind works, isn't it?


  1. Lovely, perfect work Dan.
    Don't loose hope, I think we all know people with cancer. Is it more common now or is it because we discover it earlier which is a good thing. My husband was diagnosed with leukemia almost 6 years ago on my 10th Wedding Anniversary. I's been a very long (and I must say stressful ) journey but he's still here. Wishing lots of strength to your family and you.
    (Strangely enough, a few years later, my husband started balancing rocks as a way to gain strength after his bone marrow transplant, your painting depicts that early feeling of absorbing the news to me)

  2. I'm sorry Dan. That's sad news. I'm sorry loved ones are being challenged. I hope they put on the good fight. Life is worth the effort.

    Your painting is surprisingly colorful showing you are a hopeful guy at heart. And you should be. Cancer treatments have come a long way. I'm still here. I don't have my breasts, but I'm much better at archery. And I'm painting. That's something I didn't do till I learned later can't be counted on.

    Cancer can be a liberating experience. My attitude is here and now. In the moment is where I want to live--and I don't want any crap. I've gotten very selfish and self centered. Expect changes. Understand. Allow three minutes of self pity and then whisk the future survivors out to take that ride on the hot air balloon. And that's enough hot air from me.

  3. The news of cancer sucks it's nice that you have an outlet with art.

  4. Art always helps, I hope for good outcome for all your loved ones.

  5. Im so sorry for everything you have to go through, my heart goes out to you and to your family. Cancer is scary and it effects so many of us one way or the other, but I agree with what LW Roth wrote here, there is so much more hope with the treatments there is today. And I as well see that in your art Dan, its so new in style and so free, I love it and I know art is the best therapy for letting feelings out.

    You have been a huge support to me while my Lindsay has gone through all the things she has gone through and still is, I want you to know you have support for me as well. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Keep painting, you make such a beautiful art


  6. Sorry, I meant you have support From me to you as well!!

  7. This post is helpful because I too learned that a wonderful friend got the news about cancer very recently. He is an exceptionally talented artist and an all around good person. Now everyday I wake up thinking of him and every night I go to sleep thinking about him. This painting is very strong. I admire that it came out of your head (and heart). I will hope for the best for your close family member as well as my friend. I wish that cancer would be eradicated from our world!

  8. Thanks for posting this Dan. Sending you and your family lots of good thoughts and hoping for better news soon.

  9. A very thought-provoking work; quiet beauty. It also reminds me a bit of palm reading--lines are forked, cut by other lines of influence, and circles are not good.

    My thoughts are with you and your family.

  10. This is your soul finding a voice. Very powerful stuff...sending you warmth and comfort.

  11. I usually wait a while to post a comment to extend my thanks, but I am so moved by your comments, especially those of Debra and Linda.

    Debra, Linda, thank you for sharing your very personal stories. I find your comments to be very hopeful and encouraging - you have put a new light on the situation for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  12. Sorry to hear about the news. I like how you transfer all the energy onto the canvas and created something that represents so well visually. With your description, which you always do so well anyway, it's not hard to see and 'feel' your drawing.

  13. Dan, I am so sorry to hear this! I've never been very good at just letting myself go like that (I'm a control freak!). I am amazed by this piece and everything that it represents!

    Your friends and family are in my prayers!

    (You are right...we have been very tight so far in our sketchbook. It is time to break free, no? Well, like I said, I have a difficult time with letting go...but let's do it!)

  14. So so sorry for your news. I'm glad your art helped you express your feelings.

  15. Dan, your piece is so special and expressive. I love it. I'm sorry to hear about the challenges you and your loved ones are facing right now. Cancer is a very scary diagnosis, but it's true that we've made huge progress in its treatment and cure. I love Linda's advice ... a hot air balloon ride sounds just about right! hugs, nancy

  16. Your family is in my prayers. The painting is wonderful. Hang in there, my friend.

  17. May good thoughts and prayers surround you and your friends. Yes, isn't grand that you could express yourself through art?

  18. Very nice watercolor! Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my blog and your kind comment (in spanish!) :) i like your artwork and i follow you!

  19. Your painting expresses so well the softness of tissues, the beauty and fragility of our incredible physical body, and the pain and fear when it's wounded, with the red stains spreading. It's a beautiful painting, but I'm very sorry for the reason that made you create it. Thank you for sharing with us, and still being able to give us more food for thoughts about art.

  20. Wow, really does express the feeling of fragility, and attack, to me anyways, at the same time being a very beautiful representation of that...I'm so sorry to hear about the tragedy in your family. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

  21. Good job, it is amazing how even when we don't intend it our Art makes a statement about us and our lives. Sorry to hear about your relatives, life just isn't fair.

  22. Dan, I only just now noticed a new entry from you, so sorry it's because of bad news. Cancer can be a blessing or a curse... I'm just 9 days away from the 5 year anniversary of my cancer surgery. Five years cancer free, five years that I've lived every day as a blessing, a gift from God. Within 4 months of my surgery I started keeping a journal and trying to learn to draw and to paint and to celebrate the ordinary things in life, to leave my grandchildren something to remember me by. I hope the diagnosis proves a blessing to you and to the person who has cancer. God bless you both, I will keep you in my prayers.

  23. Thank you everyone. I feel a bit guilty about all of your well wishes. I am not the one that must endure what needs to be endured, and I am not a caregiver. But I accept your generous comments gratefully, and will pass them on to the one that most needs them.

    A few direct responses to your comments (and just because I don't address you does not mean that your comment is not appreciated - far from it, it just means that I accept it, and have nothing more to say..):

    I salute you, Captain, and thank you so much for your inspirational words. I had no idea. It is wonderful that your life has been a celebration! That is the way to live. Thank you.

    Raena - I'm still tight!! Haven't touched the sketchbook! lol.

    Sue - Art has been my salvation for all kinds of things. If I didn't have it, I think I would be insane - or more insane than I already am.

    Mari - I am glad you feel that I have been a support. I didn't even know. We have much in common, my friend, and all that I did was share as you have done for me. We have supported one another. Thank you.

    Celeste - Amen! It is the same with me, the morning thoughts..the night thoughts.

    Hallie - Leave it to you!! I love this interpretation though it is of course wrong since I know nothing about palm reading..or maybe my spirit knows about palm reading and transmitted its disembodied wisdom to my hands. Yeah. When my wife heard that circles are not good, she ran to my son to make sure he had none on his palm!

    Gouri - I love this comment. "...." Yes, it is the way of the world - life goes on, generation follows generation, change is inevitable - but we don't have to like it.

    Mari Jose - And you - in English! [Google translate helped .. a little.]

    kazumi - Your description of my painting is how I see it - thank you.

    Kat - Yep. No one ever said it was fair, but we all just assume it will be, don't we?

    Thanks all, again. So much.

  24. It looks very different of what I have seen in your blog, Dan. Seems that letting your mind go you get a freedom to your hand. Wonderful :)

  25. Hi Dan, Your words, drawings and paintings are a special gift! It's tough when cancer or similar terminal illness reveals itself with someone close, especially within the family. I do appreciate your sharing a deeply personal expression of your feelings. It's moving! Peggy

  26. I'm seeing a new painting on my sidebar...but it is not showing up on your blog?

  27. I think this is amazing Dan,as is our subconcious . For what it's worth , I had bowel cancer at 8 yrs old and am now 63, so miracles can and do happen , hope this is the case for your friends.

  28. Dude! This is a wonderful work of art. I love how you opened yourself up to express your emotions visually. To do so is one of the most cathartic events I've ever experienced for myself and I hope it was the same for you. My heart goes out to you and your family as you deal with that ominous beast, the "C" word. Remember that while there's love and life there's always hope. God Bless!


  29. Hi Dan, Strange that I should come back from my cancer problems to read this. As a few people have already said cancer has touched most people in one way or another.
    I knew about Phil having bowel cancer when he was 8 as when he found out I had cancer he kindly got in touch. What he said helped a lot - as he says 'miracles can and do happen'.
    I hope yourself, your family and your friends will all be ok.

  30. Well folks, I stole a moment here. Haven't even been on a pc outside work hours, so my comments to all of you have fallen off dramatically because using my phone is limiting. All I want to say is too much and I throw up my hands and don't comment. But I've been watching all of you. I feel a bit more "balanced" than I've been so I suspect I will be back soon in all respects, especially because all of you are too valuable to me to let go. Thank you. Addressing my newest commentators(?):

    Thanks Alena and Nora! Wonder if I can do it again?

    Peggy - Thank you. I consider this blog to be a reflection of my soul. Insincerity shows, so generally I share who I am (or want to be). I haven't posted this last month, frankly because I have been in a dark place. And when one considers the people around me that are closest to me, I am the lucky one (for now) though I've had some rather heavy things on my plate as well. It's been exhausting. Lord knows how I'd cope if it were me.

    Celeste (and Mari) - Yep. Sorry about that - interesting, isn't it? I did a post and then decided I liked neither the picture near the post. Never done that before; probably a reflection of my days. Anyway, after I did that vestiges remained, thanks to Blogger..

    Phil and Stu - Again, it is amazing the personal comments I have gotten. Thank you so much for your kind and hopeful words, and for sharing your own experiences. Wow.

    Don - Dude!!! I thought I'd lost you as a visitor forever because I am a cheap bastard. It is wonderful to hear from you again, and coming from you especially, I appreciate your words. And I remember from your ginormous heart how you also addressed similar issues with art. God bless you and your family as well.

    Thank you all. If I never post again I will have 50 zillion comments!! But I will, and soon.


  31. Thanks for letting me purchase this and reserve the other two paintings I enjoy.

    For as long as I've known you, you've had a great eye for detail. It is evident in the countless sketches and paintings of yours I've seen over the years. From glancing at your desk in high school and college during boring lectures and class exercises, to reading your blog and glancing electronically over your shoulder as you transpose life as you see it from that unique characature into a snapshot the rest of us can enjoy.

    I love your abstracts. They play well off your feelings, your thoughts, and the noise of life as you try and cement something concrete as a foundation to build from. You should do it more often. They're really good.

    After school we'd eat Oreos, talk and listen to you play the guitar and banjo. I'd drift away from the noise of my congested home into a world without bounds.

    You told me the guitar sits in a stand in your studio. I doubt our busy lives would give us time to kick back and eat Oreos. But now I can drift away by gazing into your art whenever I want.