Portraits from the Artist as a Young Teen

Actually, I was supposed to an artist. That was decided when I was in the third grade in Oxford, England, when I briefly attended St. Philips & St. James, my first and only foray into the Catholic side of life.

I’d painted a dramatic portrait of a Zulu warrior that filled a large piece of construction paper. Unfortunately, the portrait fell to pieces a few years back, but I do retain most of my output from my formative high school years. After a huge confrontation (and a few runaway sessions), I negotiated a move down into my parent’s basement, where I swiftly built an art studio/recording studio/psychedelic playpen where I produced a huge amount of art and performance. The best audio session from this period is lost, sadly, but it was an improv “freak-out” with loads of free association, including a chorus that went something like, “My father is crazy, my mother is too.” I played that tape over and over. It drove my parents crazy. My mom called the basement a “den of Iniquity,” so I wrote that on the doorway and made a logo in the current poster style.

Ink and watercolor on fragments of construction paper became my dominant medium. After I met the novelist Paul Tyner, I invited him over to Carole’s, where I’d taken up camp in a spare bedroom while her mother was away. I showed him this watercolor and he offered me a lot of money to buy it on the spot, but I refused to sell. At the time, the thought of parting with any of my creations was just not even considered.

The walls in the basement were all painted with psychedelic faces in battleship grey, a gallon of which I discovered down there. When I look at some of watercolors today, though, they have an almost Jean-Michel color scheme, although I don’t mean to suggest I’ve got anything approaching his style or iconography. When I went to college, I signed up for Painting 101, where it was swiftly discovered I was color blind. The class consisted solely of still-lifes and I was miserable at it. Thus I abandoned my career in art and began concentrating my efforts on theater and journalism.

But one of my next major projects will be to update all my eBooks on Smashwords with color photos and illustrations and whatever else I can raid from my archives. Right now all the books have black and white covers, mostly photos of me around the time I wrote the material. As I update the books, I’ll be making new covers and also exploiting some of my own art work from the period.

The Andy Warhol influence is evident in this marker drawing. It should be noted that I never drank Pepsi, and would rather go dry than drink any cola but the old, original sugar Coke in a glass bottle.

Let me know if you see any images you really like, or if you want to see more of these. Some are quite brutal, others have obvious spiritual implications, a bye-product of all the experiments with mind-altering substances, no doubt. Duality and dynamics seem to play a role in my of the work at the time, most of which just poured out with no planning whatsoever.

I was thinking maybe someone would be interested in hosting a show so people could appreciate this work in person. (Not that I would sell anything!, unless it was serious money, of course.)