Buddy Cushman Art

engaging stories of hope and joy


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Upside Down

 

Upside Down

It’s the title of the very first single my fave rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain released. It’s also the title of my painting – pictured here. At first, second, or third glance there appears no good reason for this painting to have that title, especially since it’s painted in the realist and not my favored abstract or expressionist style. But there is one. A reason.

For the first time in my relatively brief (given the number of years I’ve roamed the planet) career as an artist,Upside down 3 I painted a painting entirely upside down. The idea came from the book “Drawing From the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards. One of her techniques is to practice drawing images when they are turned upside down. It’s supposed to lower the light and activity of the logical left side of the brain and amp up the cells on the way-more creative right. I’ve done drawings that way a number of times, with results varying from wicked cool to what-the-hell-is-that.

Anyway, I had the flash, one day in my wife’s garage-turned-studio, to try an upside down painting.

NS 1

I had some old, used books of photos from around the world and I found one of a fishing village in Canada.  Deciding on it as my subject, I did something else I had never done before as a painter and graphed out the photo. You can see that in the picture to the left. When that was done I penciled in a similar graph on the 20 x 24 canvas. Standing close to the finished painting today some of those pencil marks remain visible through the acrylic paint. There’s also a vivid example of the process in the lower right with the blue boat. The graph mark cuts that boat right in half, but since I was painting one graphed square at a time the boat is slightly off and it almost offers the appearance of movement and another dimension. We painters call things like that fortunate and happy accidents. Often I prefer “Duh”.

NS 2

 

 

Anyway again, before applying the first brush of paint I turned the graphed picture upside down and began painting – a square at a time -from right to left, top to bottom, on my canvas, in actuality painting the sky last. I never once turned the painting over to see how it was going, not until every inch of the canvas was covered and the paint had dried. I say, in all modesty, that I was shocked at how lifelike the houses on the bluff/hill came out. I have never been able to paint a house with windows that well right side up again – before or after. Ever.

 

 

I tried the graphed, upside down technique one other time on a painting, attempting to copy my favorite artist David Park and one of his paintings. It didn’t work very well.

No lessons to be learned here, no moral nor heavy thought. No keen insight or words to live by. Simply a little story about a painting I did88ef918dc457d2dada7cf751635148da.599x601x1 upside down.


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On the Dark Side – With Feeling

Some where between the inherent artist who’s always lived within me and my increasing horror at the sparkling stupidity of mankind and most of its individual members, I have morphed as to what it means for me to be an artist. That I started late in life maybe plays some rolExpress 1e. But the TV plays one greater. On-line news sites. Overheard conversations on the street. The eternal optimism of the “now-we’ve-finally-got-him” multitudes. These are the ingredients explaining my world view and painterly outlook.

 

I’ve been paying more attention to the German expressionist painters of late. Their works speaks to me, whispers to me to come over here, hang out for a while, take a look through our eyes. See what we see — and how. The dark side, in technicolor. So I see, as best these old eyes can, and I feel, and I get it. I, as in me, get it, as in what I get.

Get it?

Express 4

My painting has evolved, hopefully I’ve become a little more skilled with the brush and knife over the six or so years I’ve been painting. Subject matter too, from happy flowers to abstract visions to, a goal, David Park-like people. And now expressionist people.

Lake Merritt crowd piece

This is mostly a visual post and I’ve included four paintings of famous German expressionists, and three of my own. You can tell which are which — theirs are better. Mostly, though, the deal is how I feel today. Bruce Springsteen once said, “Man the dope is that there’s still hope.” For me “the deal is how I feel.”

 

Hopefully I can get that in paint.

 

 

Express 2Express 3My backyardGirl


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Fear and Hoping From the Basement – Storytelling

This is my today story. My Sunday story. But, first a brief note on everyday.

I get up at 5:30 a.m., my wife turning off the alarm and, she tells me, touching the warm spot where I have been in the bed. I drag on some clothes, go to the bathroom and splash water on my face, then head downstairs. There is a straight-back, dining-room chair I have placed in the middle of the living room the night before, and for the next 13 to 25 minutes I sit in the chair, the goal being to meditate, and think about a whole bunch of whatever it is that shows up today. When I’m done I go turn on the coffee, while waiting I usually go outside and look at the sunrise or lingering darkness in the winter, then I take the first of my two cups of coffee to the pinkish, mauve-colored recliner I bought for $40 (delivery included) on Craigslist when I first moved to Portland seven and a half years ago. Reclining there, I read something I consider to fall beneath the broad umbrella of ‘spiritual’.blog pic

Now today. Sunday. I read from three books that I checked out at the library yesterday – actually I checked out five, but two cups of coffee only go so far. This morning I read the ‘Introductions‘ to these three: “The Right to Write” by Julia Cameron; “Bagombo Snuff Box” by Kurt Vonnegut; and “Thunder and Lightning” by Natalie Goldberg. Last night I’d brought upstairs “Maps and Legends” by Michael Chabon to the other recliner in tkurt-vonneguthe house, the blue one that belonged to my mother Irene and was gifted to me when she died 11 years ago, and which I have dragged across the length of these United States three times since then. I began reading the first story (there is no Introduction) of the Chabon book about 10:45, but between the smothering heat on the second floor and the length of a long day the words began dancing before my eyes, and I quickly gave it up and went in to sleep , no covers, beside my already sleeping wife.

I checked these particular books out yesterday – the fifth being “The Pocket Muse, Endless Inspiration” by Monica Wood – because my step-daughter Marie and I are heading off on our second annual “Writer’s Retreat” next Sunday foIMG_6634r four days, to a cottage partially owned by Marie’s Dad (meaning we get a big discount)  which sits not four hundred yards from the Pacific, to write stories (and in my case edit already written stories). The five books, which are all coming along, will serve as anchors and inspirers and rectangular muses and anything else they wish to be, and we will write in timed writing periods throughout the days and take long walks on the fabulous beach and deal with my cooking and watch DVDs we bring (with my fave “Super 8”   www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCRQQCKS7go   among them).

Because writers we are, and writing is what we do. I’m an artist – as is Marie – and I have a brand new Artist Web Page ( www.buddycushmanfineart.com ), and I go on long walks and have a long career in human services and administration and even an original music CD to my name. Yet, after all the meanderings and dead ends and geographical cures and flights of fancy that make up the 67 plus years of my life through this morning, I’m a teller of stories first and foremost. A story teller. Hence the writers retreat. Hence the blog. Hence the telegraph avelibrary.

And then there’s this.  A musical story by The Stories for the song of the week:    www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJxZL9L6YWc        And here is author Michael Chabon talking about my favorite book of his, “Telegraph Ave” and the 1970s:     www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvgjhwuxKeE       And, lastly, here the wondrous Kurt Vonnegut takes a minute and a half to explain his “Eight Rules” for writing a story.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmVcIhnvSx8

I ‘d like to mention these books as well – Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones” and Julia Cameron’s “The Artist Way” – as having profound influence on my storytelling life.

My Monday blog appearing Sunday this week, just because.

Do you have a story to tell?

 


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Fear and Hoping From the Basement

The stars were out shining over Portland last night. The Red Sox have by magic Cou3gFLUIAAUrPistaved off, for the day, an increasing sense of fear and loathing, just another summer past-time those of us in The Nation know well. Today’s the end of Major League Baseball’s trading deadline and it’s hard to say which way the kids in Red Sox, and their bosses, will go. Buy? Sell? Punt? We shall see.

20160722_082418_HDRThis post marks the beginning of a new effort from me in that part of my world defined as blogging. I feel done, I felt it very strongly in the recliner this morning, with political posts and long examinations of life in the big city, yes the big planet, and even those earlier blogging tales of drunkenness and serious stupidity and the slow climb back to respectability (!), as such, and everything else that’s previously appeared in this verbial cyber spot. It’s my intention from here on out to offer up small tidbits of this and that, anything that I believe helps to move every reader in the direction of saving the planet. Which, by the way, will be a call sign, so to speak, for me, here out – #savetheplanet .

So, if you are follower of this blog or a noticer of its appearance on some social site like Facebook or Twitter, or perhaps a member of my small but loyal email community, I offer, going forward, freebies and suggestions and true glimpses into genius and wonder and abundance. Ways in which we gets to love each other, better than yesterday.  Offered from way over here.

What with it being a significant day in baseball, I suggest taking a few minutes to watch this:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwB7fRI-jp8      Take a dip in magic waters.

I’m grateful for Ted Talks and I hope you are too. There is something sweet about giving people a voice, different and varied people, with lots of worthy things to say. This blog will feature at least one engaging Ted Talk every week. They’re generally less than 19 minutes, sometimes much less than that. I truly hope you’ll invest a small slice of time, and maybe be nudged just a little bit toward wonder. Here’s this week’s :  www.ted.com/talks/j_j_abrams_mystery_box

I’m a big J.J. Abrams fan, and a favorite movie is the dramatically underappreciated and little noticed “Super 8”. What a blessing to slip into childhood again, for a little while. Here’s just a quick peek:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1e4MT5VhZo

The title of this post – and it’s going to be the same title every week from now on – is blondie-s-pizzaa love letter, in a way, to the work of one of my favorite authors, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. I got to see him speak at Harvard University and again, 3000 miles away, at UC Berkeley. In fact, following that adventure – wild and crazy wonderful with my friend and mentor Dr. Doug Martin and a weekend at the  Durant Hotel, including my first ever visit to Blondies Pizza on a 1:00 a.m. roll down Durant chasing Doug in his motorized chair – it was after all that I found myself on the same flight with Dr. Thompson traveling from San Francisco to Chicago and, screwing up enough courage to introduce myself, had the great fortune to spend about an hour and a half chatting with the Gonzo man. That story can be found on a previous post in this very same blog page (“Hunter and Me”). For now, here’s just a smidge of the good Doctor’s words, a quite famous passage in fact:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=MivwinnMKhI Drawings Feb 22 001

Art for the week:

And now for a musical interlude, this week’s way cool song, a mix of music, art, and cursing:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejmE-F3EJyQ    Fun lyrics, wicked guitars.

Today, August 1, turns out to be, among many things, Herman Melville’s birthday. It also turns out that he bought a farm in The Berkshires at the western edge of my home state Massachusetts. The wonderful on-line magazine “Brain Pickings” published an article about him today, and a few inches down is a paragraph in which Melville describes his daily routine on the farm. It’s worth reading:  www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/30/herman-melville-daily-routine/ 

 Back next week. Hope the new format works for you.

#savetheplanet


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Getting There – 1000 Likes

Blogger’s note:  Early in March of 2014 I posted on this blog site what follows below. I had reached 89 “Likes” on my Facebook Art Page when I had the quite sudden feeling that I could make it to 1000 if I set my mind to it — if I truly believed it was possible. I set a date of April 15, 2015 as the due date, and, as the following states, I guaranteed that people could go to my page that day and see the number 1000…..Now nearly a year has passed, and I have been sidetracked at times with public art shows, an unexpected return to College, and a headlong jump into the life of a fiction writer. Plus the requirements of being a husband, dad, and general screwball member of society. But I have never strayed far away from my FB Art page, and asking people to like it.

As I write this today, February 23rd, I stand at 815 “Likes”. Which means I need to average close to 30 new FB Friends to my page a week to reach my goal. That’s a lot. I’ll need a great deal of help to get there. If you read this and want to help, click here —  www.facebook.com/67blondies — and then click the “Like” button. And then show up in the middle of April and see how I have done.

 

Back on February 19th I posted on my Facebook profile page that I was going to “reach” for 1000 “LIKES” on my Buddy Cushman Art page. At the time my Art page had 89 LIKES. Today as I write this, four days after that “reaching” post, I have 111 LIKES. Some from that post, more from the “Invite” space that showed up and let me contact all of my FB Friends. These new LIKES came from old friends, former fellow employees, extended family, passing acquaintances, and an art teacher from Iraq and an artist in Cypress. That is all very, very cool, and I am deeply humbled by the support. Yes, it only takes a moment to click the LIKE button when you get to my page, but it takes perhaps an even briefer period of time to not bother and move on. So for all the bothering and choices to support, I am honestly grateful.

Now, just as an aside, my rudimentary math skills cause me to understand that I remain, as I write this, 889 LIKES from my stretched-out goal. And I further assume that of my 276 Facebook friends, 93 of whom have already LIKED my Art page,  the remaining folks include a couple of duplicates, people who no longer look at FB at all, people who aren’t actually people but are places or things, people who don’t give a rat’s butt about art, a large group of people who have already passed on my invitation, and a few in general slackers, leaving me with about 13 more people now listed as my friends that might LIKE my page. Which brings us, me, to the age old question of all questions, hardly a more dramatic and important question within the whole universe:

Now what?

Above I have focused on the math. And I don’t even like math. But that’s okay. Because this story isn’t about math. Or any number other than 1000. This story is about “knowing”. About certainty. About steadfast ain’t no doubt about it we were doubly blessed for-sure-ness. About this simple thing – belief.

Listen. —  There will be 1000 LIKES on my Art page, as certainly as I sit here and type this, and they will show up and be accounted for before April 15th, 2015. That seems like a reasonable time period, and April 15s are special to me, so that is the date I decided upon.

Do you believe me?

Now I would like someone I am sure I would have been friends with, both of us native Bay Staters, to say a few words in support of my definite statement. And I quote: (1) “It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.”; (2) “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”; (3) “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.”; (4) “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”; and (5) “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”

I lived in Concord, MA too for a while, and had on a few occasions the opportunity to run around Walden Pond. Past where Henry built his house, and did what he set out to do, what he decided to do: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach.”

What an opportunity for me. To see what I can learn about fortitude. About commitment. About suiting up and showing up. About ignoring all the “No’s”, and running with all I’ve got after the “Yes’s. About deciding something that is all mine, that I literally have no clue how it will come to be, but getting up every day to follow yet another path, open yet another door, ask yet one more person for guidance along the way. Thoreau said once that allowing someone else to be part of your special endeavor is one of the kindest and most decent things we can do. I will be kind and decent and ask for your help.

Check out the Buddy Cushman Art page on April 15th, 2015. I don’t know what kind of painting or drawing or general silliness and weirdness you might find there. But I know one thing you will find there.

1000 LIKES.


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This Writing Life

My goal when I first began college, back in the fall of 1967 on Cape Cod, was to receive a liberal arts educatio20141024_133349n. I forgot, over time, what that really meant – liberal arts – so I went to the internet for help. Here are three thoughts, the first from the Webster Dictionary:

 college or university studies (as language, philosophy, literature, abstract science) intended to provide chiefly general knowledge and to develop general intellectual capacities (as reason and judgment) as opposed to professional or vocational skills.

“A liberal arts education gives students an opportunity to explore a variety of academic disciplines rather than following a specific rubric of courses that train them for a career,” says Cindy Peterson, director of admissions at Piedmont College in Georgia. “Employers today are seeking qualified graduates who have a broad base of knowledge, whose undergraduate experience has granted them the critical thinking skills, and an understanding and appreciation of diversity, ethical issues and service to others.”

In its broadest of terms, it’s an education that provides an overview of the arts, humanities (the study of the human condition), social sciences, mathematics and natural sciences. “Artes liberals are rooted in classical antiquity and refer to the general skills (=artes) a free person (=liberals) needed to contribute meaningfully to society,” shared Concordia University associate professor, Dr. Michael Thomas. “Today, we intend for this to translate into life-long, self-motivated learners who can flourish in——even transform ——the world.”

Hmmm. “intellectual capacities”? “critical thinking skills”? “self-motivated learners”? Who knows. Those don’t feel like descriptions of my brain. But, that is not the point. In the spring of 2011 I sat with my wife Susan one night in a Portland coffee shop – armed only with blank paper, coffee, and a calculator – to see if I could reasonably quit my job, give up my career, try some other stuff, and survive as a contributing member of our family. The math (barely) and my wife’s kind heart (hugely) eventually said yes, and so it was I gave notice and left a nearly 40 year career in human services that May. What happened then – and this certainly falls within the category of what a long, strange trip it’s been – is that I put an ad on Craigslist which turned into a CD of original doo wop songs, I picked up some paint brushes and became an artist – with art shows and art sales and art cards – of at least minimal talent, and began, about nine months ago, writing a weekly blog, primarily stories of my misguided and subsequently reclaimed youth. More recently I have begun writing stories, pieces of fiction, ranging from hot sex in a coffee shop on a distant planet to fish creatures using people for bait in Astoria to a special young woman changing lives – and the planet – for the better with her magic greeting cards.

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One For The Road — Part One

Back inBlack label my hometown there was this guy – an old black man – who seemingly materialized up from behind the railroad tracks. He wasn’t there, and then he was. I came to know him as a guy who would buy beer and sometimes Tango or Southern Comfort for me. He wasn’t there every time I was looking to drink, but more often he was. And for a price, usually fifty cents, he would go into the package store just over from the A & P and come out a minute later with a six pack of Black Label bottles in a bag for me, and something for himself. I never knew that man’s name.

Let me say here I have a hard time with stories that jump around. It’s the present, next it’s the past, here one character speaks, now someone else is speaking. I have a hard time following. Maybe it’s the injury and my brain being scrambled, maybe it’s all the Black Label and now there is less of a brain, scrambled or not. Maybe my mind, from day one, was only designed to function on the keep it simple level. Whatever the case, this story is being told pretty much in a straight line, from where it began in Wellingham, Massachusetts, hard by the body of water known as Buzzards Bay, to where I sit now, back at my usual corner table in the Last Chance Saloon, two blocks off the beach in Santa Monica, California. My name is Kelly Silva. I am the star of the show, so to speak. There is another major player, a girl named Shalene Dunn. I guess it’s about her nearly as much as me. I’m just the one telling it.

I drank my way through my junior year in high school. I had been elected the class vice-president, the tainted result of an unwanted nomination and rigged election. The only vice-presidential action I ever took was to one time lead the Pledge of Allegiance at a class assembly, on a day Jennie Rivers, the president, was home with the flu. The truth is that throughout that school year I alienated a lot of people with my drinking and my antics, and by June I could not have been elected class clown. Nobody thought I was funny. Nobody, that is, except Roland Demeter III, Rolo, my best and likely only friend. He still thought I was funny.

That summer, between my junior and senior years, I worked for AT&T, thanks to a connection my Dad had. My job was to collect LIDS – left in disconnected telephones – from summer homes in Falmouth and Bourne on Cape Cod. I would get a company van early in the morning at the Wellingham garage and drive over the Bourne Bridge and out to East Falmouth, stopping at cottages and small homes that served as summer rentals for people from up around Boston and the western parts of Massachusetts. I was provided with a long list of addresses every morning and would start at the ones furthest away and work my way back toward the canal, and home. Most summer rentals back then were for two weeks and people would often have a phone installed so they could stay in touch with family and friends back home, or with a dad still working in the city and only coming down, along with about 300,000 other people, to the Cape on a Friday night. When the two weeks were over, and they went fast in the summer, the renters would head home to Roslindale and Marlborough and West Springfield, and the phone – generally on a wall – would be left behind. The phone would have been turned off when the renters left, hence “left in disconnected”. AT&T wanted their phones back and that was my job, take away travel and lunch, about six hours a day, five days a week. I managed to actually find a new renter or a landlord or rarely an open door on a somewhat whimsical basis, so if I had been given a list with 25 addresses on it that morning a successful day’s work would find me turning in 16 or 17 phones to the garage just before 5 p.m. I did that job for two summers and went to some addresses probably five or six times during that time. I go to know Falmouth and Bourne on the Cape side of the canal a little better, made a little money and saved less, and generally managed to stay out of trouble summer days.

Summer nights were different. Wellingham was made up of small beach communities as well as a number of cranberry bogs and a cover of woods over a fair part of the town. So it wasn’t hard to find a party going on somewhere, pretty much every night. I’d pick up Rolo or he’d pick me up, we’d find a buyer, often the mystery man from beyond the railroad tracks, and drink a six pack or two and in the course of the try to convince some girl, maybe some girl from somewhere else now on a two-week respite in Wellingham, about what good company we would make. I would say our success rate successfully arguing our case with young women was a little less than my rate of success coming back with LIDS at work. All in all, not bad.

It was on one of these find a buyer, head to the beach, convince a girl nights that “the injury” came into my life, and changed everything. I had just come back to the main party from a steamy make-out session with a girl named Roberta when Rolo said he’d run out of beer. He was going to go get some and I needed to keep him company. Bad timing Rolo. But friends are friends, and I had exactly one, so I promised Roberta we would be right back and hopped in his VW bug. About 15 minutes later we were getting out of the car in the A & P parking lot when some guys driving by in a dark green ’57 Chevy yelled out for us to go fuck ourselves. Rolo had the good sense to let that slide and began scouring the lot for a potential buyer. I, on the other hand, felt the need to reply to the Chevy crew, and threw them the finger.

 

To Be Continued