Monday, December 23, 2013

Unlocking Grace

So... I'm delighted to have many folks asking about the story behind this painting. I will start off by explaining the technique, and then getting into what it's about.

The technique is something I've been studying since college (2005) that was used throughout many centuries by the Flemish Dutch, some notables such as Rembrandt, Van Eyck, Reubens, and my favorite Gerard Dou of the 17th century. Through history the technique has been considered "divine" in the sense that artists used to live their spiritual life parallel with their art life, research shows they were even as dedicated to the numbers proclaiming that "7" layers was sacred, and so on. I personally have explored every technique I could possibly find, in search of unveiling the divine... something transcendent. For many reasons this flemish dutch technique seems to breathe, showcasing atmosphere while sharpening details and lighting up your highlights. In a nutshell the idea is to use many translucent layers for natural light to travel through and bounce off the bottom white of the board and back to your eye... this creates an unsurpassed illusion of hyper reality, also your light areas taking advantage of the white of the board, natural light shines through and appears to make light areas glow. It's a technique that can't nearly be appreciated on the internet as much as in person... as the internet flattens the true beauty of the layers. It gets incredibly technical with grisaille layers, polishing between layers, certain alchemy that uses lead based mediums, complementary colors for your underpainting structure to create harmonies for later colors etc. It's a technique artists have obsessed on and evolved through centuries. I plan on directing my focus on it for many series to come, we'll see where it goes.

... The painting, specifically, is about finding grace within yourself. I was tempted to write the latin phrase "inter spem et metum" in there somewhere, which reads "between hope and fear"... through my studies and experience, hope and fear are both ways of the ego, it takes a very still mind to understand that one... however, any strong identification with anything, even emotions, will keep you from knowing your "true" identity, where grace is found. I imagined the key as God, always within reach, always a matter of will... to unlock the center of what turns all our inner workings into a divine harmony of grace. I heard a quote from George Lucas that has really stuck with me... something along the lines of, "if every religion was sitting around a single elephant describing what they saw, they'd all explain something differently based on the angle they were sitting."... I thought of this when creating the inner circle of gears, you will notice different symbols, especially ones that have been an influence on my own journey (zen buddhism, hinduism, taoism etc.) They are represented there as gears around the heart (shaped as a triangle representing the trinity, or illuminati) the center of stillness in which the key can unlock to get the gears moving, working together, and the human body in harmony. Her face is fierce with passion, but relaxed with a touch of care and sympathy... empathizing through her hand's emotion atop a character that is strengthening the idea of conviction, hope, faith... suffering in her desire for something more than what is present. A character lurks in the shadows of the human's neck, clutching her and giving her sweet whispers of the ego, manipulating her of gratification and physical desires... caressing her away from the truth, attempting to pull her into it's own cold mechanical shadows.

In the background of the painting you'll see a brick wall, looking closer you'll notice monks... I wanted this to signify that meditation and surrender breaks down dark veiling walls, opening up serenity and freedom. You'll also notice the ladybugs... these were included as I came across a saying that they signify that "God is near"... they are a symbol of love, they also add a splash of color and life in what is a cold worn mechanical world that's awaiting to be unlocked by the divine, and fresh air of grace.

... The development of this painting ran parallel to my own life story. It was deeply personal... I struggled with it, I celebrated with it... I lost 12 pounds from stress and dedication to it. For me, I'm seeing my paintings becoming harmonious with my spiritual journey... it's a transcendental trip I can't quite explain, other than when I look "in" to these paintings I don't very much feel like I am the creator, just fortunate enough to illuminate a message, kind of like a lighthouse. I mostly care about unveiling something within your own journey... even for a blip of a moment, a "what was that" enigma within. Something to spark an awakening process... but most folks will only see what they're ready for.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reaching towards the Sun

It seems some artists don't think about a story or saying anything, or especially anything profound (subjective I know) but in other words... they are content with the aesthetics. All art provokes some kind of response however... and considering that, wouldn't it be advantageous to provoke the strongest response... emotionally, mentally, visually...? I think about all aspects of a painting, how to evolve. Some might follow a Yoda like pattern: "there is no try, just do"... Some might be scientific with their process of coloration, geometry, composition, etc. Anyhow... we live in a fast paced society that appealing to the masses requires a quick read and easy accessibility within what you're expressing... couple with the fact we are energy contained beings of ego, mind, spirit... all unique universes with infinite complexities makes a white canvas a pretty daunting area for an artist with something to say. My goal so far has been paintings with many layers... gripping and easy on the surface, spiraling down the rabbit hole...

I've seen a broad audience from folks that search for the depths... interspersed with some that just seem to like the colors. All are welcome and equally as appreciated. However, it reminds me of something Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull said in an interview, he mentioned that Aqualung is a favorite album of his, granted, but it's all the masses wanted from him... and as a singer/songwriter that evolves and wants to explore his own depths, becoming more sophisticated is one of the hardest processes, because he felt that you leave so much of your audience behind. Steven Spielberg also comes to mind... who said in an interview that he's always tried to do 1 film for him, for every 1 film he does for the masses. Some visual artists come to mind... for instance, H.R. Giger... clearly painted for himself, stories that reflect his own psychosis... is he one of the lucky ones that was able to paint for himself and later exploded into mass appeal? Rather than the opposite process that seems to be the general way of this contemporary society for an artist. Is that the ultimate journey?... Does it require selling your soul a little in this society to build an audience to view what you're really about later on? Or should you say "f" it and enjoy being broke creating brilliance alone and cold... to become appreciated after you die. How does one define "purpose"... how does survival balance with "purpose"... what are you going to "say" to make everything you believe in shine bright and change the world... or are you content "being in the moment" within your happy place on the mountain top...?

... Even a tree has to grow through the elements to get closer to the Sun... rooted in the ground, graceful in their acceptance... I would still bet, some effort is required.

Friday, July 20, 2012


FAERYLAND: The Secret World of the Hidden Ones

by John Matthews

With illustrations by Matt Dangler and others

From the author of the bestselling book PIRATES and HOW TO SEE FAERIES (with Brian Froud) comes a wonderful interactive book about faeries. The book includes "hidden ones" of the British Isles as well as those of Scandanavia, Germany, North America, and even the Asian, Arab, and African worlds. The book is divided into 13 sections: among them a Brief History of Faeries; a Who’s Who of Faeries; Good Faeries vs Bad Faeries; Faerie Courts; Faerie Spells; Faerie Places: Faerie Sightings; Faerie Children; and Faerie Music. The book is illustrated with new art from talented fantasy artist Matt Dangler as well as other celebrated contemporary fairy artists alongside classic art by William Blake, Henry Fuseli, William Turner, and others.

To be published Spring 2013 by Abrams.

~ Abrams

~ John Matthews

~ "How To See Faeries"

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Center Flame

May 19th - June 9th @ Copro Gallery (

The goal for this show was simple: to remain present in the moment. Brush stroke by stroke a mantra was created… a meditative rhythm with no limits… opening windows that peer into conscious worlds, metaphors that explain awakening, suffering, euphoria… imagination created through unique filters. As my life situation unfolds, and my spiritual pursuit evolves… I search inward. Hidden between the mind's thoughts of past and future is a fierce presence of the moment. It's here I find the heart of Zen, a place beneath ego, a place of non identification… in fact, it's not a "place" at all, it's the presence we all are, the essence and energy our bodies all carry… the dreamer behind the thought… consciousness. It's here at the center where the flame ignites, burning light out of darkness, to create "being" out of nothing, and you'll "see" paintings in a whole new light… from the center flame.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New MiNi PRiNT

... what better way to start off the new year than with a new MiNi PRiNT!! From a dark path off the yellow brick road ~ "Munchkins' Main Menace" ~ $20 - free shipping - signed LE/50 : CLiCK HERE

Monday, November 21, 2011

Progress 4 FINISH

‎"The Spellbinding Bubble Baron" ...

‎Mini Print's for $20 with free shipping: CLiCK HERE

... large format prints ( 17" x 22" ): CLiCK HERE

Friday, November 11, 2011

Progress 3

... The glorious character paint stage... Aiming to have the entire piece completed by Monday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Progress 2

Ah yes... the smell of mediums and Oil paints in the air... always a treat to lay in the first coat of Oil onto a painting journey... however, the 1st layer, as an artist friend and I like to call it: "The Ugly Layer"... is just some structure to walk on. The ugly layer, for the most part... is just to get the ball rolling, to establish a direction for what's to follow. You don't want to zombify yourself slaving over every ounce of the piece at this stage, that's just foolish... it's much easier to go back over when this layer dries, to tweak things, glaze things, push and pull...

So as you can start to see in the image... I want to push the enchanting quality of the character, by placing him/her/it... in a healthy, natural environment... something fresh, lively... something that opens up all your senses... a little touch of flowers, although somewhat obscure, went a long ways.

As I do with most my character paintings, I blurred the background... it creates contrast and helps push the details of a character... if you want something to look hot, put it next to something cold etc. It's funny how these obvious little understandings can get overlooked when developing a painting... however, it makes a big difference.

Monday, November 7, 2011


With some interested queries... I've decided to post the progression of my current painting that will be for the "Drawing Dreams Foundation" ( ) art auction at the Society of Illustrators in New York on December 7, 2011.

These first 2 images are first the under drawing, and then have gone over that with washes of acrylic to establish the under painting. I like to keep this stage muted, lowly rendered and lowly saturated to give the Oil paint that will be painted in translucent layers on top some room to brighten and lively things.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I have the great honor of being featured on today... feel free to rate my work and comment on it there.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Temporary Structures

Currently, I am alternating between 3 paintings and a dozen more ideas... 1 of the paintings in progress taps into a layering varnish technique I have been developing "off scene"... and explores a very surreal direction, studying the possibilities of the paint, subject matter and focusing primarily how light penetrates through the layers. But anyhow... here it is, "All Structures are Unstable..." ~ inspired by the words of Eckhart Tolle and music of 311 ( specifically their song "Weightless" off of their new album "Universal Pulse" ) - Oil on Canvas - 12" x 12" - still in progress.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"The New Lost Generation"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


beinArt Collective Group exhibition 'Dystopia' at Copro Gallery.

Guest Curator: Jon Beinart

Chaos and ruin. Technological trends corrupting. Deformation, anatomical abnormalities, degradation and displacement. Whether related to the human body and spirit or the human environment, it is the 'anti' utopia.

The theme of this show, 'Dystopia', will place the viewer in a fictional world where personal and societal fears can be explored. Whether figuratively or more literally, the participating artists will present their own interpretation of 'Dystopia'.

Presenting the works of over 50 international artists including: Kris Kuksi, Chris Mars, Paul Booth, Chet Zar, Viktor Safonkin, Laurie Lipton, David Bowers, Dariusz Zawadzki, Peter Gric, Matthew Bone, Jean Labourdette Turf One, Paul Rumsey, William Hand, Heather Nevay, Ray Donley, Christian Van Minnen, Dan Quintana, Ben Tolman, Karl Persson, Beau White, Macsorro, Matt Martin, Sandra Yagi, Carrie Ann Baade, Stephanie Henderson, Heidi Taillefer, David Choquette, Scott G Brooks, Naoto Hattori, Michael Ryan, Leslie Ditto, Larkin, Chrystal Chan, Jeff Christensen, Cam De Leon, Christopher Ulrich, Matt Dangler, Brian Viveros, Chris Peters, Yu Sugawara, Santiago Caruso, Rachel Bess, Mark Powell, Brian Smith, Ivan Titor, Jason John, Jon Jaylo, Pamela Wilson, James Zar, Vincent Cacciotti, Pedro De Kastro & Jon Beinart.

Kris Kuksi and Laurie Lipton will be signing copies of their books at the opening reception.

Each artist has been selected for their ability to express themselves imaginatively with exceptional technique and uncompromising individuality. The beinArt Surreal Art Collective is testimony to a huge international movement of figurative artists who have resisted current trends in the art world and remained true to their artistic vision.

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 19th - 8:00 - 11:30 pm.
Exhibit runs from March 19th - April 9th 2011.

Bergamot Station
2525 Michigan Ave,
Unit T5, Santa Monica,
CA 90404, USA.
Ph: 1.310.829.2156

beinArt Collective:

Friday, January 28, 2011

My piece for the show:

9" x 12"
Oil on Masonite
( email for availability )

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Silent Ceremony...

... So here we are, embarking a new year... a systematic rebirth if you will... and it certainly will be for me. Delving internally to become aware of what it is I want to express in my artwork... of how I want to express it... what style of painting best suites the subject matter, and is most fun to pursue... and so on and so forth. I wrestle with life... I demand integrity... I deprive sleep with passion. Cheers to a healthy 2011 and unveiling a little more of consciousness.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


"Honey Hoarder" painting detail... full painting coming Tuesday. Email for a preview of all of the artwork to be on display Dec. 10th "Subtleties of Character" show.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

God Scout

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Honey Hoarder

Here is what's soon to be painted,

"The Honey Hoarder"

For the "Subtleties of Character" show Dec. 10th:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Crispy Leaves

Well here we are feeling the crisp air again... I can't believe little pumpkins and white sheets with eyes are scattered through the town... time certainly doesn't wait for me, I can tell you that... another week goes by and it'll be Christmas. A good reason to have the will power to create and do whatever it is you gotta do, today... because tomorrow is an unproductive day, it always is.

This last weekend held a most interesting event. I met some really great people, as well as chatting with a few friends I hadn't seen for a while. Twas quite surreal having a conversation holding fort in the middle of the aisle, while Batman and Hellboy give dirty looks... in the midst of the many mostly naked teen girls, that seem to use the event to pick up 80 pound super heros. Thanks to Metro Orange Art for having me aboard, for quality prints and respect. Artist Leslie Ditto and her husband Gerry provided most of the great conversation and genuine support. If you aren't familiar with Leslie's work, you are certainly in for a treat. Oh yeah, and her prints nearly sold out at this Comic Con... so you're going to want to check them out before they're all gone.

I also have an awesome show coming up... curated by an artist I feel very fortunate to have befriended, Dan Barry. He put together an impressive line up of artists and has taken extra care to motivate and encourage the best out of all participants. You're not going to want to miss this one. I'll be painting a most gluttonous hoarder of honey for the show... revisiting my whacky enchanted blurred background style, but with a new level of imagination and detail. I'll also be sending out a few drawings and a fully oil painted polymer sculpture... stay tuned.

I've also delved deeper into the world of sculpture... ultimately preparing myself for a character design portfolio, ideally shooting for the film industry as well as video games etc. These 2 guys were put together in Sculpey and stand about 4" tall. I plan on fully rendering them in Oil paint using the same methodology used within my 2d paintings.

... Also, be sure to catch Jason Limon's show over at Bold Hype Gallery this month... he's really taken his world into a new more sophisticated dimension that I'm really fond of.

Cheers -

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wading the Dark Shores

Block Island is such an incredible place. It's like walking around a giant garden... that's placed atop mystical cliffs that overlook the ocean. How fortunate I am to be able to experience the surf fishing there with some of the best the sport has to offer. Surfcasters that swim out to boulders and submerged rocks throughout the night to fish distant drop offs and currents that hold big fish... only armed with dull red head lamps, a wet suit and balls of steel. As much as I'm humbled by their techniques, I'm intrigued and determined to push myself to their level. There's a degree of insanity when thinking about it logically... but put your thoughts into the mind of one of these anglers of the night, and you'll find courage, determination, strength, wisdom, spirituality... and that calm of accomplishment... finding your rock that keeps you stable within a place you have no control over. It is all about finding the one... that one giant that lurks the depths... outsmarting her old wisdom... and battling her last triumphant will for survival. To me... it's a very spiritual moment, one that I'd relate to the Buddhism term "Satori"... a brief moment of enlightenment... where all thoughts subside and you're connected not only to the big fish... but the "biggest fish." I don't believe most anglers view their pursuits as a spiritual journey... but in my opinion, it's a religion that actually serves it's purpose.

... I've been fortunate enough to befriend some great people on the island, including the innkeepers of ( The Island Home ) where I stayed. If you're ever looking for a vacation nearby, whether for fishing, romance, or some relaxation... I'd highly recommend looking into it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Friday, February 26, 2010

In the thick of it

... So it's been a pretty long couple days here... the snow has almost literally trapped me inside... I needed to paint something for myself. I've been experimenting with different techniques, styles, mediums... really trying to explore the possibilities and making sure no stone is left unturned, besides the nagging void within... that reminds me there is something more... something that proves so far to be unattainable. But I pursue, much like today, experimenting with different approaches to layering Oil paint... different colored underpaintings, different brush strokes... different density... just to see if some kind of Eureka experience would prevail. No such luck... but failed experiments eliminate a huge chunk of what was seemingly limitless possibilities before college, since then I've managed to play with nearly every medium and technique I can imagine. Perhaps not so ironic... I always come back to my comfortable Oil Painting technique. Learning the steps is one thing... but it's the subtleties that make it work so well, at least that's how I feel.

... I'll admit though... painting... always feels like I'm searching for something an arm's length away... but unfortunately, it stays an arm's length away. It's frustrating... it's motivating... spiritual... confusing... as my good friend say's: "it's like crawling through a swamp" ... or in my case, snow.