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Paintings of Guns

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Paintings of Guns

Guns are tools for killing.

TL;DR: I share my opinions about guns, gun control and gun violence, especially after yet another mass shooting event on June 28, 2018. I don't have a precise, clear stance- but I'm for moderation and good, logical controls on dangerous tools of all kinds. 

And I need to talk about my art, which contains and glorifies violence.

Warning: If you are triggered by discussions of violence, I get into it a lot of discussion on that below, and I'm trying to take a bird's eye view, so it may seem somewhat insensitive.


Why am I making paintings of guns?

I think of guns through one main factor: force multiplication.

In and of itself, I believe that force is a last resort. A final desperation of action when nothing else that we have will work. Force basically equals violence. Violence is the word we use for force being applied, usually and primarily to a sentient thing, for reasons (or a particularly important pile of rocks and sticks, also for reasons).

Force needs to be multiplied in certain instances. A greater force multiplier can mean greater safety for an individual soldier or fighting force, a safer police officer or a bigger meal for a hungry hunter or a community. It depends greatly on the application of force- the style and finesse of the required violence. Good things can come from the application of highly multiplied violence, but but violence always carries a toll, and force multiplication can, in the wrong hands at the wrong time, exacerbate terror and horror. This is the argument where everything is a weapon- even a pencil- it's a sharp stick, but it's just one, small stick. Force multipliers mean more sticks, more efficiency, etc etc on and suddenly the hands of a child or a mentally unwell person might hold the lives of a dozen or more in one hand.

 

Why am I making paintings of guns?

I am generally pro gun control. But I'm not specifically or fervently anti-gun. I'd like to accept that anti-gun and anti-violence are the best available stances... But my actual feelings are more complex than that. Holding solely to non-violence might be an incredibly impractical stance in a world where so much violence exists.

I do believe that all violence is born of final, otherwise unresolvable desperation. So... I'm anti-malice. But that's not a saying. And it's not a saying relative to gun control in a state where guns are so easily obtained...

I'm really pro "enforcement of the laws on the books" which is also nebulous (and dodges the question somewhat) because some laws are shitty ones that we shouldn't have... and some are impossible to enforce... and some are enforced in insanely lopsided ways... but still. I wish there could be massive reform based on recent behavior (too recent, every time). But I don't think it will happen, based on the reality on the ground. And we don't get to legislate with the congress we want, we get to legislate with the congress we have (so- PLEASE VOTE!!!).

I digress...

 

It bears mentioning that I own a gun, simply because it is so easy to own a gun in my country (USA) and especially in my state (VA). While it may seem like a contradiction to some who know me, it is, I think, a necessary one. Unfortunately, for a mere citizen, logic dictates that I require the option to equalize the force multiplier(s) that might- and ONLY might- be brought against me. I need it for that "worst case scenario" we all dread- invasion, attack or social catastrophe.

Important note: I am familiar with the fact that that is a kind of logical fallacy- the argument for (or against) what would be deemed an 'overwhelming exception'. My opinion will be, until there is a radical shift in the availability of force multipliers in my country and state: too bad, this is the only argument where at least the option to defend my position also needs to be equated to the option to defend my life. I have a plan and supplies to keep food and water in an emergency- I also have a plan and supplies for defense.

I mean that literally. It is too bad. It is a genuine shame that I feel like there is no option other than to own a gun in a world and place where gun violence is so prevalent. And one begets the other. It makes me feel sorrow, but I cannot exchange my sorrow for lack of an option in the worst case scenario.

So that leads me inevitably back to: Why am I making paintings of guns?

Why render depictions of tools of violence on a huge scale? Am I worshipping at the alter of fire and chaos and force multiplication? The hypocrisy and the dichotomy is rife, and I can only say how I feel about it, so here we go...

 

It's not easy. My answer isn't clear cut. It's in a muddy place, possibly logically and also psychologically and socially. But this is me having that discussion (with at least myself), and asking for input, should anyone wish to give it.

1. They're from a video game. And that game has a meaning all its own. And it carries a morally good message.
This is the muddiest part.

Video games, along with many other social activities (especially those tied to newer technology), are being studied even more deeply to understand their impact on the mind. But taking it from experience and from some great research that's already been done, when we skip past the false argument of "video games make people violent" and move on to better discussions, the merits are easy to find. They can be used for training, therapy and just common, everyday relaxation and stress relief. I'm not interested in any false narrative, I'm interested in how helpful even an impossible or fantastical simulation can be to an individual.

And importantly, the paintings I'm talking about are of things in Destiny, a game about saving the world from the dregs (literally) of the galaxy in order to uplift and protect the people we hold dear. 

If that doesn't count for something, I don't know what does. It's not about shooting other people (especially not just people of color, which is a too-prevalent issue in video games)- it's about shooting invading monsters who bring only death, which is the best way we have to code and accept acts of violence (though you know, I'd like to meet some friendly aliens, too, even in Destiny).

2. Art helps people.
I'm not a doctor, but one time someone stole a painting of a skull from me. It wasn't even finished. He was a friend of a friend of my roommate (I think) and crashed at a house party we hosted. Even after successfully agreeing to purchase it for the low price of $40 USD (which he agreed to pay the next morning after the party), he slipped off with it in the middle of the night.

So I've experienced first hand how art can help people with something. I have other examples. I've sold a few dozen works in the past 20 years. My favorite reaction so far was an almost running hug, launched at me my CTO at my last job when I presented a very personally themed painting of the "Lucky Cat" to her. And have you seen that one episode of The Office where Michael buys Pam's illustration?

Art makes people feel things, and it helps us with expressions of our feelings, which are sometimes hobbled by words alone, or even sometimes by actions.

These weapon paintings from Destiny might remind some people of violence, but I know for a fact that they will remind people of a great, positive experiences too. I think the one outweighs the other. In fact, I know it, because they remind me of that, because I've had those experiences. With friends, family, teammates and with a huge body of people on social networks and in shared game worlds.

Saliently, it is also worth mentioning that Destiny is an online game that specifically encourages  (and sometimes requires) large works of collaboration amongst player, while presenting some of the most complex gaming challenges I have ever experienced- and I've been playing video games for over 25 years.

3. The creative process is necessary for me, and right now, it includes these guns.
For real though, hey everybody? I am going through some shit. My life isn't the hardest one on the planet, it's rather far from that, really, if there was a ranking... But comparison is a thief and I will not reduce my own situation or deny my own experience or emotions. And right now my experiences are challenging me.

Sometimes, during the hardest moments, I kind of wish I had a magic gun or a magic wand or a magic axe that could solve my problems... Like the ones I have in my favorite video game, where I am a totally in control person who wields god-like powers and cannot die.

That "net good" thing above? It includes these pieces being something that I need to do for me, so I'm doing them. Full stop.

I need to test myself as an artist. And importantly, I need to take the ideas in my head out and make them real in the world. I want to make my ideas into real things on paper (in this case, canvas). I need that to happen. Right now, the ideas in my head include stark, painterly renditions of profiles of tools of violence from video games about violence. That's just what it is.

These particular designs are weapons that I like to use in the game. There are qualities that match a gameplay style that I've honed over years. That is only even available thanks to the creative collaborative processes and creative people that spawn them (say that three times fast). There are a dozen books on how and why video games are made and even before I read any of them, I was convinced that games are art, through and through. From the design to the code to the rendering, each piece is a kind of chaotic and perfectly timed dance that makes expression come alive in a way that humans only in our living generations have ever experienced.

Art is special. Video games are art. Video games are incredibly special art.


Finally then: these designs and my renditions of them depict a very special thing. It's derivative, but also a kind of deeply instilled homage to another piece of art that I love. It's art saying, with art: there is appreciation.

I don't mean to be reductive. I don't mean to be dismissive. If you have pain that is born from the end of a gun, I cannot sate you and my work right now is not for you. But please, know at least that there is no malicious intent in my brush strokes, and that there is some good in these specific symbols, and hopefully in my representation of them.

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Destiny Weapon Paintings & GuardianCon

Destiny Weapon Paintings & GuardianCon

Eyes up, Guardians.

I'm going to GuardianCon (come hell or high water), and I've been working on some paintings to take and show off at my booth in the Artists Alley. 

I am still working on logistics for the convention, but my current idea with these works (and possibly a few others) is to try to figure out some way to do a charity auction. This is all coming together super fast and basically very, very last minute, and it's literally my first time presenting at an Artists Alley. TBH, it might be too late to coordinate some things. I would like to do something big to contribute to St. Judes in the spirit of the event. Hopefully I can find a way to make things work, logistically... But maybe it's best that I stick to building some really great stands to help display my work.

Regardless of how any specific idea for presenting my works at the convention pans out, I'll be bringing many original works, some pop-culture reference pieces, prints and other Destiny-themed works. Hopefully folks will enjoy what I can manage to fit into the van, and I double hope the van can make it all the way from DC to Tampa.

I'm pledging 20% of all sales to St. Judes from this lead up to GuardianCon and my offerings at the Artists Alley. I think these paintings could really get some people excited in an auction, but I want to contribute at least a little from what I hope is a great weekend with fellow Guardians, so even if I can't pull off any other logistical miracles, at least I have that pledge. (^___^.)b

Thanks for checking out my artwork. Come back for more soon, I'll be posting throughout the run up to the convention. It's daunting and exciting and crazy, but I cannot wait to make the 14 hour drive (hopefully with a convention buddy!).

D2 Weapon Series - Sunshot Red Dwarf Variant

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D2 Weapon Series - Sunshot Red Dwarf Variant

Earlier this week I posted my two recently completed and the community has had so many nice things to say. If you're from Reddit or Facebook or Instagram, welcome! And thank you for taking a look.

These paintings were always an itch at the back of my mind, but now that I'm actually creating them, they are working out even better than I'd hoped they would.

Take a look! Read below for info on prints, if you want one of these beauties on your own wall.

Sunshot *Red Dwarf* - 42x36" acrylic and mixed media on canvas.

Sunshot/Red Dwarf - Detail

Sunshot/Red Dwarf - Detail

Sunshot/Red Dwarf - Detail

In discussion on those two paintings earlier this week, a handful of people expressed a desire to order a print, so I am am working on options for that. Right now I am taking pre-orders for a 19x13 print (it will probably end up being a bit bigger).

If you want one, I'm starting with limited batches, so click through to see if the print you want is available! They're fairly inexpensive and 20% of proceeds go to charity, the rest gets you art and gets me to GuardianCon.

19x13" ACE OF SPADES | MIDA MULTI TOOL | SUNSHOT PRINT PRE-ORDER - $25USD (ea)

As noted above, 20% of all print sales (same for all my sales at GuardianCon) will go to St. Judes. All other proceeds get me to the convention itself- and at this point, I may even be setting up a charity livestream painting marathon... More on that soon.

Pre-orders will be fulfilled the week after the convention (July 16-20), they will come mailed in a tube. : )


PRINT/PRE-ORDER DETAILS
Photos here and on Etsy do not represent exact print details- these photos are for preview only. Much, much higher resolution photos will be used to source the prints.

 - ~19x13" digital print on heavy matte paper with archival ink - $25 USD.
 - Final print will probably be a bit larger, to match the scale better
 - Printing and shipping orders starts the week of July 16
 - Sourced from a Canon 7d Mark II w/ professional lights & processing
 - Printing with archival ink on heavy matte paper or fine art printing paper
 - 20% of proceeds go to St. Judes Children's Research Hospital, in honor of GuardianCon

Check back at my Etsy shop, this blog and my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds (links above). I'll likely be adding more works for sale and possibly other pre-orders through the week. And if there is enough demand, I can make time to do multiple runs of these prints.

Ace of Spades

Ace of Spades

MIDA Multi Tool

MIDA Multi Tool


THANK YOU FOR READING! More soon!

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GOING TO FLORIDA, FLORIDA FLORIDAAA

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GOING TO FLORIDA, FLORIDA FLORIDAAA

 - Linda Belcher, Bob's Burgers

/inhales
OHHHHHH DUUUUUUNNNNKKKKKKKK I AM GOING TO GUARDIANCON 2018!!!!!

I am going to sell art there!* It is a huge event for me. It's a huge event for them. It will be a huge audience. I am bringing original works and Destiny themed works. I have been working nonstop on this and other paintings and design works for the last 3 weeks now. 

Ace of Spades - 42x36" acrylic and mixed media, hand painted on canvas.

I want to describe some fairly serious stuff in this post, and ask a really big favor. I'm very interested in feedback on all of it. Please use the comments or e-mail me, especially if you know me or received a separate e-mail about this.

I have to admit that I fell into a funk after I left my IT career in April. I finished a few works in April and May, but I largely felt unmotivated and anxious about stepping up to do any work. But since June started (and I hit rank 60 Dead Orbit to get that Graviton Catalyst...) I've finished nearly a dozen new works already and have plans to finish another five within the week. I'm submitting to shows. Submitting to publications and for art prizes. It is great. The culmination of my work, whether I spent it wisely or not, will be GuardianCon.

And as some of you who will read this know, the weekend after I left my previous job, my father became fairly ill. I won't share his details, because that's his story and his right to share those details. I bring it up only to note how deeply it affected me. It compounded a lot of things that I was already struggling with and I wasn't prepared for the confluence of them. I think I fell into actual depression. Upon reflection, without the requirements of a full time job, and with time as a catalyst for introspection, I think I can now admit that this has happened many times. I'm not sure that it's clinical. I'm not sure it needs a doctor. But I'll interrogate that personally and seek professional help as soon as it is possible. Some great friends and family have already offered some amazing support and that is buoying at least and functional and productive at top tier.

Right now, I'm optimistic and I have a plan. Attending GuardianCon and making rent for August, September and even beyond may in fact be incredibly feasible- off of only one event. It may just be the perfect opportunity. It is also a long shot. Critically, it relies on the kindness of others to a degree that some may feel I do not deserve and that I know I haven't been the most reciprocal on in the past, but which I need now, desperately. And of course, I have backup plans. I even have a Plan C. But this convention and this opportunity might change my life forever and even if I have to scrape and beg and sell my possessions, I'll get there.

I'll be public about this every day until it works. Hopefully, it will be off the ground and flying by the end of this week. And I'll ride this torpedo to the very end.


* - Full, explicit disclosure: I cannot afford to go, yet. Please read more below if you want to help me get to the convention through commissions or donations.


I also have a big family event in Florida that weekend, and I am going to have to spend like 30+ hours in the car over a period of about 4 days in order to make this all work. But it's going to be worth it! I can feel it. Buuuut... It's also going to be tough, because I need to raise funds to get to the con and possibly produce more work.

So. July 13th and 14th, I'm going to be selling art at GuardianCon (the 14th is up in the air, if I can get some help from a friend or two to watch the booth) in Tampa, Florida. I also hope I get to play some Gambit before the release in September... and pee while my belongings and art stays safe at the convention... you know, logistics.

I have a 6x10 booth on the main floor with all of the other vendors. I will be with at least 15-20 other artists. Only a handful went last year and it SOLD OUT (see: @broman on DCP Podcast #89 -- Ed.). I chose to take the opportunity (and risk, definitely risk) to obtain my booth ASAP. Secure that spot. I heard recent episodes of DCP and I got stoked, so some other artists did too, and time and space are finite.

I think Bungie's recent updates and announcements have revitalized the community and the players. I get a very hopeful vibe from the parts of the community that I do interact with on twitter (a few other artists, podcasters, etc). 

Also, in the spirit of GuardianCon, I'm going to be contributing 20% of all sales at the convention (and the lead-up) to St. Judes Children's Research Hospital. I'm also working on some plans to possibly marathon some paintings live in the lead-up to the con to raise even more money- I'm a noob at video though, so that might be... rough...

SO. Add that all up. Opportunity. Charity. Positivity. Availability. Potential. 

I'm so stoked. This represents an opportunity for me show my work to a new and massive audience, allowing me the opportunity to continue working as an artist full time. It feels like a wonderful confluence.

It sucks that I couldn't extend my runway as long as I needed. It sucks that I feel like two months vanished into too-long sleeps and 3+ hour hikes with the dog, ear buds blocking everything out. Maybe that was healthy. I came through it. But time's arrow marches inexorably forward.

All that said, I do need help. If you're willing to pitch in, please hit me up for a commission. Or if you're feeling particularly generous, please visit my gofundme.


I'm glad I have time to explain this. Thanks for reading. For those of you who got this far and loved The Stranger in D1 as much as I did, here's a 2K wallpaper I made of her.

Also, I've posted a Variate/irrezolut Ghost with Hakke colors, that I'm using to do some promos for, well, all of this.

Destiny 1 2K Wallpaper - No Time to Explain

Detiny/Variate/irrezolut Ghost (with Hakke colors)

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MIDA & Ace of Spades

MIDA & Ace of Spades

In an extension of my post from yesterday, I'm also working hard on some pieces of art inspired by the Destiny universe.

I've always been a huge fan of the way that Bungie crafts weapons with stories. Even in Halo, there was so much lore and great design in the gear. Destiny is one of those rare games that has gripped me hard. I've played hundreds of hours, starting in October when D1 was released.

Below are two acrylic/mixed media paintings. The first is of my favorite scout rifle- the MIDA Industries Multi Tool. And as a special tribute to my favorite Vanguard, Cayde-6, the Hunter Vanguard who I will be avenging come September... The Ace of Spades.

MIDA Multi Tool (D2 "Original", Full) - 36x42"

MIDA Multi Tool (D2 "Original", Detail)

Ace of Spades (D1/Variant) - 36x42"

Ace of Spades (D1/Variant, Detail)

More details are on my paintings page.

JN / IRREZOLUT
PS4 Hunter Main