Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Well, here it is... last post of the year (gotta get this in before midnight). It's been a mighty eventful year. I quit my factory job and became a high school teacher. I did a clinic for Po' Boy Drums and premiered a new fugue for an audience of drummers (got some amazing new gear too). I learned The Black Page (plyed that in a bar :-) All in all I'm quite satisfied. Especially when you consider that I adore my family. It's been a great year and I know the next will be wonderful too. I wish you all the best.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mind Maps and The Black Page

Okay, so I loaded google/analytics and I look around at who's visiting my blog and why. It turns out the two most common searches that hit my blog are "mindmap" and "Black Page". I get hits on both of these from all over the world... from China to Finland... from Australia to Venesuela. It's interesting because those are two relatively esoteric topics and yet there really is quite a bit of interest. I wonder if there's any shared interest between the drummers and the mappers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Arcimboldo Project I

Loosely based on the work of Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo. For this project, I traced the silhouette of each student. They then filled the outline in with images that relate to them personally. I then had them create a patterned border of some kind. Finally, I had them put some related imagery in the negative space around the head and within the border. This student is from the Pacific island of Saipan and moved to Arizona a few years ago. This is probably the best.

Arcimboldo Project II

A close second to the Saipan piece. This student likes dark imagery. No, he isn't suicidal, he just likes a good bleak story and he tells it well. He ties all the pieces together well. I want to see more control of the medium. He doesn't have a strong control of value.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Arcimboldo Project III

I really like this piece. She shows a great control of the medium, uses value and blends hues extremely well. It's very whimsical and you gotta give credit for that obsessive/cumpolsive border. Unlike the previous pieces, with their strong conceptual and thematic relationships, this one is a bid random. It's all stuff she likes, but the items don't relate to each other in any other way. There's no second level of meaning here. But what the hell, it's an A.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hands Project I

Here's another outstanding example. Very nice choice to use the circles. She wisely chose to use the repeating shape in different sizes. She also varied the shape by showing it sometimes entirely and sometimes partially. Furthermore, she varied the color and she modeled the surface, that is she changed the value from dark to light. I love that she made the negative space between the circles a deep solid color. This creates a third level - a background ( the red), a middle ground (the circles) and a foreground (the hands).

Hands Project II

Here's another example from the same "Three Hands" project. Again, this is a student I did not expect to finish and I'm more than pleased with his choices. In this case he did use value in the background, I'd like to see him get more control over it. I know his math teacher so I know that the the geometric pattern came straight from her class... so.... hooray for this student for taking what he learned elsewhere! A further hooray goes for the placement of the hand in the center (the one doing the Vulcan salute) that appears to be holding the diminishing diamond pattern. That's an excellent design choice. Furthermore, the student understood the streangth of a red and black color scheme.

Hands Project III

Ya know, here's a nice example of a fairly well done project by a student I did not expect to come through. the project is called "Three Hands" and it required the student to draw their hand in three different positions, then overlay those hands on a geometric background. Emphasis was to be placed on exagerating the contrast between organic (foreground) and geometric (background). I also asked for monochromatic foreground and polychromatic background. I'm particularly impressed that this is a student who performed at the bare minimum this semester, yet pulled out the stops on this projects. I like the use of black in the background. The color in the hands was done with a highlighter. Nice placement of the hands, close enough to create some tension. She also let them run off the page, good choice. I would like to have seen shift in value in the background colors, but all in all I think that's minor. Nice stained glass feel.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Pic

I was looking at the Po' Boy Drums website and I noticed they had changed my picture. The other picture was me behind my old Pearl kit playing my Chapman Stick. I like this new pic more. For one thing, I like the PB kit much more! I also like this pic because it was taken at a clinic I taught last May where I had a blast. They also changed my description to read "Anima Obscura/Educator". I like that.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Landscape Escape

Current project for my art classes. Create a landscape, then punch a hole in it and create another world in the window. Work for contrasts, i.e. warm colors vs. cool colors, inorganic vs. organic, mechanical vs. natural, living vs. dead, landscape vs. cityscape, exterior vs. interior, aerial vs. linear perspective, day vs. night etc.. This is my sketch, they're working 12x18". I'll post the good ones.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I had to go to a charter school convention today and I was bored. The lady on my left had a craby look on her face. The key note speaker wore stripes and seemed very stern. There were a lot of spot lights in the convention center. Some guy raised his hand to ask a question. There was a cowboy painting on the wall. I started to feel like the guy in the middle.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pocket Change

Here's my middle school percussion group performing at their first assembly (mine too!). That's Jose, Tanner, Tristan, Bryan, Logan, Nick, Carlos, and Bryce and they did a fantastic job. It's funny how you can get just as much satisfaction from watching a group of your students perform as from performing yourself, especially when they perform one of your own compostions. They played a piece that I wrote called "Pocket Change". I had as much fun as they did.

Notice the "bass bucket" on the right side of the photograph. I found that at a local pool supply store. It still smells like chlorine shock but it sounds great when hit with a bass mallet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I saw Metallica on the opening night of their concert tour for the new CD Death Magnetic. Let me say right up front that I am not a Metallica fan, although I do like a few songs. I have a policy, however, that I will go hear any band, no matter how bizarre or outside my sphere, if you buy the ticket (my Sister in Law bought this one). If they suck, I will drink a beer. If they still suck, I will drink another beer, until such time as either they sound good, or I am drunk (in the case of Primus I just ended up drunk). This policy has served me well. I saw Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (a show I thought I would hate) and, low and behold, I had a blast! Additionally, I saw Velvet Revolver on someone elses dime and I was pleasantly surprised. Conversely, I saw Bon Jovi when a friend bought the ticket and I later wished she hadn't wasted her money. That said, let's return to Metallica.

As I said, I am not a Metallica fan but I do like a few songs. I was, however, again pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the performance. I thought they were very polished and they put on a very energetic show. They had laser beams, flames, and coffin shaped lighting fixtures which I thought were fun (albeit campy). For me, the high point was when they performed Master Of Puppets. The audience knew every word and sang louder than the band. That's pretty cool no matter what genre. It was also a very good rendition. My only real complaint is that the sound engineering was truely bad... literally atrocious. The distortion was so bad that your couldn't make out words even when they were speaking directly to the audience. Lars' double bass drum riffs just sounded like a dull roar and sixteenth notes were indistinguishable in every lead guitar solo. From an entertainment standpoint, the show was great. From a technical audio engineering stand point, the show was an utter failure. I'm still glad I went. Somebody else paid and I had a great time.

Halloween Fun

I read to my kids every night. We just finished the last two Harry Potter books and I read them a short story by pulp science fiction writer Fredric Brown. You might know the FB story Arena - it was reworked into a Star Trek episode of the same name (big lizard guy called a Gorn) - classic SF. Well, in honor of Halloween I'm reading them a story by my cheesey horror hero H. P. Lovecraft. Those who know me know I love Lovecraft. I know the stories are corney, but somehow they're effective. The good ones really are creepy. I'm reading them one of my favorites: The Colour Out Of Space. They haven't really been exposed to horror fiction so this is quite a change of pace. So far, their attention is rapt. They keep saying things like, "Dad, that's freaky!". At some point I should show them a picture of 'ol H. P... that's freaky! He looks like a character from one of his own stories.

On Halloween we're going to watch the campy old Vincent Price film The Abominable Dr. Phibes. I think they're going to love it. My favorite is the part where Dr. Phibes locks the frog mask on his victim's head at the masquerade party and it slowly clicks tighter and tighter until the poor creep's head explodes, spewing blood all over the transparent eyeballs of the mask. Of course the scumbag deserves it! Hooray for campy horror, hooray! Vincent and H. P., true kings of cheese!

The Latest

Okay, so I haven't made a post for a while. Here's the deal: my new job as a high school art and music teacher is just plain overwhelming. On top of that, my band is loosing it's bass player. Yup, it's true. Eliot is leaving us to go to seminary college. Maybe at some point in the future we'll release a CD listing "Reverend Eliot" on bass. In the interim, however, we're looking for someone to fill his very big shoes (shoes of the fisherman?). Hopefully we'll get to do at least one more show before Eliot goes. Stay tuned, I'll let you know.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Stoked I am indeed! New CD/DVD by Deus Ex Machina, one of my favorite Prog bands. Long awaited, hooray hooray, joy, must have, get now, hear sample here "Rune"

Monday, September 15, 2008

2 Point

30"x20" foam core.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Can't Help Myself

This is what I do while I'm sittin' around whatching the tube (maybe having a beer). I'm a multi-tasker. Like I said before, my classroom needs art. It might as well be didactic. These are all on 30" x 20" foam core. I didn't put it in this drawing (maybe I should) but all of those diagonal lines are called "lines of convergence" because they converge on the vanishing point.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

16th Note Permutations

Another one of my teaching aides. A chart of the 16 possible permutations of four 16th notes/rests. Take any combination of four squares to create a rhythm in 4/4 time.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Art Mind Map

Here's my most elaborate one yet. This is on a 30" x 20" piece of foam core. All of the drawing was done with a combination of Sharpie markers and Highlighters. The classroom I'm in has no artwork up, no color. I wanted to get something up fast that has high key color and eye catching design. I wanted something original, not the usual posters of Van Gogh. I need to make a few more.

Monday, July 28, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I teach a percussion class at a boy's camp every summer. I had twenty-six boys in two classes this year. I only get four one-hour sessions to teach them a complete piece for performance on the last day of camp (the tallent show night). This year I combined buckets and body percussion and it was the hit of the whole camp.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Pic

Here's a picture I found on my guitar player's myspace. This is me charting out one of our songs. Much of the stuff we play goes through so many time changes and stylistic changes, that I find I have to chart it out just to keep track. Frank says that's anathema to him, but for me it's all about the counting. When I play, the counting never stops. 1-2, 1-2, 1-2-3, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and, one two three, one two three, one two three... This stuff runs through my head all the time. Granted, if there's a strong melodic line or lyric phrasing, that will effect the accenting of my counting. None the less, when I'm playing, Im counting something.

Getting Going

Well here we go. The school year is about to begin and I've been working on lesson plans. I have to write lesson plans for two levels of general art, one drawing class, and two levels of percussion ensemble. Boy howdy, this is my first year as a full time teacher and this is a bit daunting. I'm excited to get started but I'm also nervous. Special thanks to my seasoned teacher friends who've been helping me out. I've definitely got big plans but I'm sure I'm in for some serious challenges. I really can't wait to get started.

So my posts of drawings have definitely been a part of this. I think I'm just getting into the mindset of being both an art and a music teacher. There are definite corollaries and I'm interested to see how I will cross over on the two subjects.

One of my seasoned teacher friends has offered to give me a set of Orff percussion instruments for my percussion classes. How cool is that? I'm almost as excited about the teaching as I am about the opportunity to have an ensemble to compose for, even if they are beginners.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cowboy Gun Thing

Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Buddha Guy Girl Hat Planes

Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pie Hole VI

Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Pie Hole V

Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Pie Hole IV

Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Official Announcement

Okay, here is my official declaration. After twenty years of working in factories, I am proud to announce that I no longer do that. I have accepeted a full time teaching position. Everything has worked together in a most amazing way and I have been afforded the incredible oportunity to become both an art teacher and a music teacher. Yes, for those who don't know, for the last twenty years while I've been playing in bands and theater productions, publishing articles, showing in galleries, designing book covers, and going to school... I've had to support my family by working factory jobs. Well, today was my last day! I left my factory job today and I am embarking on an entirely new career. I can't begin to tell you how emotional this is for me. I'm literally overwhelmed. I've been simultaneously elated and depressed. Isn't that strange? It's hard to describe and understand. I've had so much happen lately that I've been on an emotional roller coaster. I know this is all for the best, but wow... Special thanks to my dearest: my wife Chris, my boys Zane and Ian, and my dear friends, Kate and Kevin Johnson, Andy Delgado, Frank D' Angelo, Eliot Hillis, and Chris and Val Tallent. I love you.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pie Hole III

Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pie Hole II

Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pie Hole I

Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Adios Muchachos

Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Very Arizona

Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ken's Holiday

Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Big Show

Triptych. Ink sketch. Ball point pen on clean room paper.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mystery Lesson

Triptych. Ink sketch on paper. Who says everything on this blog has to be about drumming anyway?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


For some reason Frank decided to put this on his web site. It's me going over a transcription of one of our songs. I look very musical counting measures, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Me 'N" Tony

There's me and Tony Chadwick, owner of Po' Boy Drums, at the "Drummin' For Lou" fundraiser for the ALS Foundation.

Way Back Stage

Here's something people don't often post: the rest room at the last place you gigged (maybe I'll make it a regular feature). Yes, this is the Men's Room at The Toad Tavern. Right there on the entrance to the stall is a poster for the Po' Boy Show! I was good enough to take the picture when nobody was actually using the restroom.

Back Stage

Here's a shot from back stage at The Toad Tavern (well, side stage really, because they don't actually have a back stage per se', but anyway, you get the idea) from the "Drummin' For Lou" benefit show. That's a lot of drums. Even more drums on the other side of the stage.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Toad Stage

Here's a lovely view of the stage at The Toad Tavern in Littleton, Colorado. Of course it had a lot of drums on it when I was there last weekend. There was also a big monitor next to my head which managed to thump my brain pretty good. There were people there as well, so this photo is misleading. After my performance, I stood at the end of that bar you see in the foreground and drank a beer. Hooray for me. Hooray for beer. Hooray for The Toad Tavern.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

New Zappa DVD

Okay, it's not my goal to advertise on this blog. None the less, I'm going to promote this DVD - And I haven't even bought it yet! The reason I can so highly recommend it is this: way back in the 1980's this concert was simulcast on MTV and "Star fleet Radio". Somebody recorded it and I bought it because I am a Zappa devotee. I've watched this concert countless times and I've been waiting forever for the Zappa Family Trust to remaster this and release it to the public. This is a fantastic show. It's the Tinsel Town Rebellion and You Are What You Is material, so it has stuff like Doreen, Teenage Wind, Mud Club, Beauty Knows No Pain, and the definitive live performance of Stevie's Spanking. Steve Vai has blue streaks in his hair, Tommy Mars wears a tie dyed cave man shirt, Chad Wackerman looks about 12 years old, and Bobby Martin sings really high. My video is only the second set and it appears this DVD is both sets, so this is a must have.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Here's a cool thing. Last Saturday I went to The Toad Tavern to practice a bit before my clinic. I got the drums all set and Tony told me to grab my pick of the cymbals he'd brought down. So I set up a nice array: 20" dark ride, 17" thin crash, 16" dark crash, 14" hats, and a 10" splash. OMG! These cymbals were amazing. The ride has a heavy, dark ring to it. The crashes have a short sustain, but they cut through bright and edgy. The splash has a weird trashy tone that I like. Actually I think the thing that stands out the most to me are the cymbal bells. They have a really unique timber. Even on the crashes, I can ride the bells and the tone is bright, clear, and clarion. Bottom line? I love this gear. So anyway, I played the clinic and when I was done I asked Tony what he wants me to do with the cymbals to set up for the Dave Nezat clinic and he tells me to just keep them! I gotta be careful, I could really get comfortable with this kind of treatment.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Home Again

Well, I am home again after a thoroughly amazing weekend. I got to premier the new Po' Boy line. I got to teach. I got to meet wonderful people, and I had some of the most amazing moments of my career. Special props to Dave Nezat. It's awesome when someone who plays a totally different style from you, digs what you do and teaches you something new at the same time. Dave is a New Orleans, second line, zydeco, funk, groove monster! I am honored to have shared a stage with this master. When someone like that compliments your playing, it's hard to not be humbled. Tony and the whole Po' Boy gang really know how to treat you right! I had an absolute blast and that drum kit is just phenomenal, not to mention the cymbals! OMG this gear is really the s***! I will definitely frame that poster and hang it in my studio. Tony and I have been discussing future endeavors so check back, I believe there are some interesting projects in the works! You know what else?... Special thanks to The Toad Tavern. What an awesome club. Those guys did us right. And most importantly we raised over $5000 for the Denver ALS Foundation! What a time.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hotel Room Post

It's 12:41 a.m. here in Littleton, Colorado and I have just finished rehearsing the material that I will be presenting at the clinic tomorrow at noon. Hotel rooms are interesting places to practice drumming! You have to use a practice pad and try to play very quietly. I was at Tony Chadwick's house earlier this evening checking out the new Po' Boy line and I must say it was a lot easier to practice there. I am excited to show these things off tomorrow. The Venus is excited too because she knows I'm going to play her favorite song: TVOWA (that homage to art history and anthropology that everyone loves so much). I wonder if it's obvious that I'm wound up and may have trouble getting to sleep? I sure hope I hear that wake up call I scheduled!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Couldn't Resist

I just couldn't help it. I had to post another picture. A little bit closer in and you can see the grain better. Mmmmm.... grain...

Oh My!

I just got this picture from Tony at Po' Boy. The eight inch tom hasn't arrived yet so this is still just a progress report. But wow! I so can't wait to play this kit. I love the look of the 20" bass with no tom stand. I've always wanted that look. I'll have a pic of the full setup soon.