Friday, December 31, 2010

ArtTraveler celebrates the new year with his own light show



We're supposed to blow things up, start fires in the sky, sing patriotic songs, applaud the fireworks that marks fiestas and transitions like hailing in 2011, as if eleven's a lucky number, with fireballs of joy and hope and some intoxication of one kind or another.

It's a fine tradition and traditions should not be easily discarded.

I've created a couple abstract light shows taken from a sailing ship in the harbour at Palma, Majorca last year, really just designed movements seeking creative accidents.



Palma, Majorca from aboard a saling craft


It's well known in Europe that the Spaniards are the loudest people this side of a Friday night in Istanbul.

Noise often defines Spaniards.

Your choices are limited: you accept and tolerate (after all, it's their country, not yours) and gradually lose your hearing, which in our senior years is usually fading anyway.

Could be a blessing in disguise.

You can complain to your expat buddies, which no one really likes. Who likes a whinger as the Brits would say.

You can wear ear plugs. Not usually practical.

And of course, you can return to your country of origin, which is probably freezing cold and obliterated by snow or engulfed in some major weather disaster.....or, put up with the noise and an average of 300 days of sunshine, which more and more, seems a myth, as it's been pouring down rain here in the mountains above Torre del Mar for 10 days.

But then, we don't have snow or black ice to cope with.

So after a few months of enduring teenage macho types of all ages competing to see whose exhaust on his moto (motorbike/motorcycle) is loudest, you start to have outer-body experiences.

I call these cultural adaptations, tolerance and acceptance, the beginning of osmosis.

And then you find yourself yelling at someone in a bar or cafe only 5 metres from you, emulating your indigenous neighbors. And then you laugh and accept and tolerate, or by then, you are deaf or dissapeared.

So fiesta noise: gotta love it, especially during religious fiestas like the nearly 24-hour celebration of Saint Anthony (San Anton), patron Catholic saint who protects all animals.

This year's noise morphed into something closer to the 4th of July in the United States during the annual San Anton fiesta.

The alcalde (mayor) Don Antonio (now appealing a criminal corruption conviction) must have enjoyed a sudden budget surplus for fireworks.

The sky lit up for about 10 minutes as though the ball had dropped at Times Square, New York.

Usually, it's the single bangers, the kind of rockets used by red shirts against yellow shirts in Bangkok, that are the order of the day.

Any day and almost any time. Like grenades bursting in the sky. These are no mere cherry bombs as we deployed to destroy toilets as malignant and nasty teenagers. No, these rockets are made for wars and war games and fiestas.

If you feel good, had a few friends over for a party, whatever, go to your local grocery store and buy a few rockets and drive all the village dogs into a mad frenzy.  Let your neighbors and the rest of the village(s) within 10 kilometers know you are home.







Rock on, practice peace and love and have a safe celebration and let's work towards making 2011 more than another tipping point.

All images by S. van Drake.And check out my funky videos on YouTube: http://bit.ly/h1vruw


Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)


Thursday, December 30, 2010

ArtTraveler's images portray one of the greatest wonders of the world: The Alhambra in Granada




 The artistic accomplishments of the Moors in Spain are most monumentally and articulately represented by the Alhambra, thanks to the surrender in 1492 of the Moorish Caliph, who while allowing us all to appreciate this masterpiece of world architecture and splendor without ruin or damage, also thoroughly displeased his mother, who accused him of cowardice.

I consider it a strategic retreat and legacy for us all to admire.

Looking over Granada, the Alhambra is among the great treasures of the world and worth seeing if you get anywhere close to Spain. Go there, experience it.

There are two six-hours sessions, morning and afternoon, in which to complete your tour and when done, you shall feel undernourished and hungry for more.













Life is short.

See the Alhambra for yourself. My photos, among many others, fairly represent some of the vistas.

But I trust my full sensory capacities more. As you shall yours.

Happy New Year!

Rock on and practice peace and love, And please check out my videos on YouTube: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler

All photos by S. van Drake.

ArtTraveler's New Year's salute

This is when we're supposed to talk smart and make predictions we fully intend breaching as anticipatory contracts tossed to the wnids of meaningless expectations, or.......

Or, we limit our goals and myopically select perhaps just one goal for the year: Like getting healthier or living more in tolerance and acceptance. Don't be specific, like removing X kilos from your body in some super effort to regain a sense of your old vanity.

No, not at all.

It's also the time when it's fashionable to review the year that was.

Well, it's damned easy to morph into total cynicism as indeed, facts on the ground, as journos opine these days, suggest we are all about to quickly join those religions whose Revelations' mission is to make sure we catch the last commet to Heaven or such other guaranteed post of posthumous deliverance.

I remain unimpressed with the human mamal.

But when I see the springtimes of creative energies exploding about our arts landscapes, urging us to do be better humans, the small images of hope and promise emerge like delusions on some endless desert trek across the Sahara.

There's not much good one can say about 2010.

But I need to take a moment to reflect on my expectations that the Great Black Hope for America, Barack Obama, may have failed in achieving Change We Can Count On.

Anyone understanding the DC Beltine political realities knows Obama would fall far short of his promises and yet, think about it, he brought about at least tentative health care access for more than 37 million Americans, far short of the public option that would have gutted the endless cycle of greed practiced by the US health care and pharmaceutical industries..

But Obama did it! And regardless of how much most of us hate the banks (and I do with a passion), the actions Obama took along with Gordon Brown probably saved total collapse of the global financial system. I still hate bankers and think they, not the real people who are the working stiffs of the world, should bear a large share of the cost of the new age of austerity we are seeing.

When US President Franklin D. Roosevelt pushed ahead enacting Social Security, the Tea Party nutters of the time decried this was pure socialism. Now, these old farts (I am 67) screaming with rage against our black president would never forgive anyone tampering with their Social Security. Obama has opened the door for change.

The reaction by the Tea Party madness (promoted by Fox and a horde of private fat cats) was of course to castigate Obama as a socialist or worse, selling out American ideals of self-indulgence and laisse faire self-destruction.

In foreign policy, Obama has failed and for this, there is no rational excuse; he chose to become a two-term president and thus forfeited statesmanship for political gamesmanship. Sad but true. His Nobel Peace Prize was misplaced and unearned.

Even though Obama remains quite popular in Europe, my Spanish friends brand him as just another promise-breaking politico for whom power is the elixir and the people remain the pawns.

I have no answers. I barely bear hope.

But in art there is life and love and something for our own very intimate salvation.

Be well for another year....and more.

Rock on and practice peace and love. And please check out my videos on YouTube: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ArtTraveler shares visions of a walk in the mountains near Canillas de Albaida

Nature nourishes us with life, inspiration and even in these most dire of times, with hope.

I took these photos this spring as I walked down into the valley below Canillas de Albaida, past the intact Roman bridge over which many Roman  soldiers marched leaving behind a trail of stories and ghosts.

I walked along a robustly flowing river bed, then nourished from a bountiful winter's harvest of mountain rainfall and simply observed: shadows, lines, colours, flowers and let my imagination flow like the waters and gain momentum in its focus.




All photos appearing here are by S. van Drake



Be well. Rock on and practice peace and love. This is found art at its best.

I also share with you words from Vincent van Gogh written to his brother, Theo in 1882:

Sooner or later, feeling and love for nature always find a response in people interested in art. The painter's duty is to immerse himself wholly in nature and to use all his intelligence for putting his feelings into his work, so that it becomes intelligible to others.

Rock on and practice peace and love. Also, please check out my videos on YouTube: http://bit.ly/h1vruw



Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)


"Found art" is where you find it.



And with a little imagination, even large boulders speak to you.

ArtTraveler discovers Frank Sinatra, Marliyn Monroe and Elvis Presley at bistro near Tate Modern

video

I believe we are all artists.

The choices we make, the posters and pictures we hang, noise and smells of a bistro we create in the name of Italian authenticity and cheap prices.

Only a block from Tate Modern is this Italian bistro, a working man's hangout, although I did see some smartly dressed men drop in for a quick fish and chips Italiano takeout.

The owner works behind a galley kitchen barely large enough for him and his female assistant to negotiate; macro economists call this the point of diminishing returns.

But the humanity is overwhelming against the backdrop of only four small tables on the inside and another three or four outside.

It was a surprisingly copable day in London, and both outside and inside tables seemed to fill and free up like a fast-food place. And yes, the food was fast, fresh and mediocre but cheap. And the enterprising man negotiating a few square metres was fast and friendly and vastly human.

Rock on and practice peace and love. Please see other videos on YouTube: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Amsterdam by night: ArtTraveler "shoots" Red Light District













 Rock on and practice peace and love. See other videos on YouTube: http://bit.ly/h1vruw
Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

All photos by S. van Drake

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ArtTraveler digests recent happenings affecting Spanish artists

Ima Pico, a Spanish large format installation artist living in Manchester, UK, continues her work changing our perceptions of her reality through photographs and digital manipulation; she was graduated from the University of Valencia in 1990.

Spanish artist Jose Manuel Ciria has donated one of his paintings to the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Jamaica.

"Acqui y Ahora" (here and now), a multi-artist photographic exhibition about contemporary life in Spain, opened this month in Istanbul.

Salvador Dali is back in Milan, his works' first appearance in any strength since his solo show in October 1954; the show's made possible with cooperation with Fundacio Gala-Salvador Dali of Figueres, Dali's home town.

If you're visiting Washington, D.C., don't forget to check out Serenity, the Jose Clara 1925 marple sculpture of an allegorical woman, located at Meridian Hill Park. The work is owned by the US National Park Service. Clara was born in Olot in 1878 and died in Barcelona in 1958.

Opening 15 October in Zurich, there's a new Picasso retrospective at the Kuntshaus, Zurich's foremost art museum. According to online sources, more than 100,000 visitors came to see Picasso's works during the first seven weeks of the show.

Conceptual Spanish artist Joan Fontcuberta morphs well known landscapes into 3D geogrpahic illustrastions. Her show, called Landscapes without Memory can be see at Foam Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam.

Well, it's a case of dumb and dumber that worked out for the best. The Madrid art thieves who ran off with a steel sculpture by Spanish artist Eduardo Chillda, supposedly sold it for about 35 Euros to some scrap yard, who called the cops.

It's value's estimated at more than 5 million Euros. All but one piece of the heist have been recovered. No arrests, however, appear to have been made.

After laborious one-year restoration, a portrait previously determined as authored by one of Diego Velazquez's assistants has finally been attributed to the master himself, according to the New York Times.

According to WordPress.com, Spanish artist Gary Fernandez has created yet another original image for computers' wallpaper, a whimsical winter scene.


Rock on and practice peace and love.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler (TM)

ArtTraveler videos snippits from Tate Modern's Gauguin retrospective that closes 16 January

video
A few weeks ago, returning from the States after visiting family, I reserved a day in London just to see the Tate Modern's Gauguin retrospective before heading back to Malaga and my home in the mountains of Canillas de Albaida.

Updated 2 January 2011 with new video on Gauguin exhibit, which closes 16 January on YouTube.

Rock on and practice peace and love. Have a rewarding and healthy 2011. Please see other videos on YouTube: http://bit.ly/h1vruw


Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Monday, December 27, 2010

ArtTraveler's memory invaded by backyard funeral in Hlebine, Croatia

Thanks to the generosity of Ivan and Anka Generalic, i was able to experience the funeral of a passing neighbor of theirs in the Croatian village of Hlebine.

Some memories, as we know, become imbedded, a part of our post traumatic past, part of that data bank that  from time to time blasts to the fore of our consciousness and cries for recognition..

The man was old, very old. HIs death was not unexpected. His death like all deaths when a man or woman reaches into the 80's is more blessing than anything. It happened while my ex-wife Lynn S. and I lived with Croatia's greatest naive painter, Ivan Generalic.

For a day it seemed, the body was displayed inside the home, much like you might imagine an Irish wake.  In the salon.

Then it was brought out into the back yard, again an open and simple wooden casket. And paid mourners, women who were the most expert of criers like a thespian  troupe, would be hired to cry, moan, scream and pour their paid-for tears over the body of the deceased with convincing emotion, inspiring attendees to join in.

It was good theatrics, but played from the heart.

When the rituals and crying and backyard grieving completed,  the friends, family and members of the village's citizenry would carry on their backs the coffin, two abreast and along a winding road to the cemetery where it would be deposited with more ritual six feet under.

This, like birth, appeared very much a part of the ritual of lilfe: death.

Rock on and practice peace and love.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

ArtTraveler remembers Croatia's greatest naive artist, Ivan Generalic

I can say Ivan Generalic  was humble, physically arge, authentically human and simple yet complicated like most great maestros.

Ivan Generalic (each hyperlilnk is different as it's been impossible to import images of his work directly to this blog), first and foremost represented a simple peasant who loved fishing, loved living and the land, and could not help himself from drawing, painting and creating the life around him in ways most personal and intimate.

It was the summer of 1965.

I had just married Lynn S., who had qualified as a Macalester College candidate for the Minnesota, 14-university/college program called SPAN: Student Project for Amity Among Nations.

At the time, I had gone solo to Yugoslavia as a SPAN student in 1963 and then became the organization's president. I successfully campaigned for a group to go to Yugoslavia the summer of 1965, I tgged along..

Lynn (who now, ladden with MS, lives in California and has remarried and has at least one child), and I lived with Ivan Generalic in that summer of 1965, lived with him and his wife, Anka, whilst there for a couple of weeks.

I remember him as a large man with enormous duende or charisma, who had welcomed us with the most open of arms.

By this time, he was recognized internationally as Croatia's greatest naive artist, having first exhibited in 1931.with the help of Krsto Hegadusic.

He painted images on the reverse side of glass, his signature technique.  But he was a true artist: his sketch book was his best friend and he created drawings and water colours we saw and bought from him in 1965 that are today masterpieces of artistic architecture of figures and faces,  intoxicated women coming out of the bar in Hlebine.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hlebine_%28municipality%29

In 1965, in Hlebine there were no hostals, pensions or hotels. It was and perhaps remains a remote border village, although at that time, Croatian.

We came based on anticipated hospitality and humanity of these Croatians, then an integral part of the national state called Yugoslavia, when under Tito's quasi-dictatorial rule, the Balkans thrived in relative peace and quiet and harmony.

We were not dissapointed.

Little did I know that under the surface that all hell would break loose many years later and that 500 years of Turkish rule, Catholic vs. Orthodox, Christian vs. Islam,  and other tribalisms would erupt as ugly demons in a struggle for senseless self-destructive nationalism, causing the death of thousands.

No, in 1965, this was the land of peace and harmony, And of course, Slivovitz.

Slavic generosity maximized But I concede there was one time when I had a huge desire to be in the United States.

I was on a bus from God knows where to Zagreb, and suddenly, I had an urge, and I mean an uncontrollable urge and need for a fix: a McDonald's hamburger. Forgive me. For six years in Spain, I have avoided any thought or  temptation of entering a Burger King or McDonalds. Damn them all!

But at the time, I almost felt powerless. I had had so much chivapchichi and raznichi--think skewers (kababs) of mystery meat highly spiced ---that this vision of America returning with vengence overwhelmed me.

I resisted only because in Yugoslavia at that time: no McDonalds or other Gringo franchises existed. Thank God!


I had  to cope with my compulsions and did quite well surviving. It was just a mad moment in time.

What did I learn about Ivan Generalic?


First, his humanity and generosity of Self.

Generalic was a peasant, who from earliest years sought to and did draw and sketch.

What is most important to me is that Hlebine introduced me to authentic Croatian living: No paved roads, a simple agrarian life, a pub that provided Ivan sufficient inspiration for his water colour cartoons, one of which we purchased.of an inebriated woman coming out of the door of the bar.

He and his wife treated us like family.

Generalic was/is in my mind one of the most splendid humans I've met and also one of the most talented.

I am indeed blessed to have had this experience, so intimate and real with him and his family.

And what a culturally diverse train ride it was along the borders of Romania, Hungary, Serbia. And now, to finally realize out of my naivite of 1965 that only centimeters below the surface, millimeters perhaps, there existed the explosives of history only requiring simple ignition to explode into genocide.

I knew Croatians living next to Serbians; Kosovo Albanians living next to Serbians; and having lived at least three weeks in Sarajevo, having both Christian and Islamic friends, the whole upheaval and violence in the Balkans years later blew me away.

It was then I realized history cannot be ignored.

My memories were frozen under the benificent dictatorship of Communist Josip Broz Tito, whom, incidentally, I saw up very close and almost personal as he and Nikita Krushchev in an open limo drove through the main streets of Zagreb in the summer of 1963, the first time a Soviet  leader and Tito had met before 1945, when the pair of countries had a major falling out.

I was on the front line and saw them only 20 meters away. And would you believe, there I was with my Leica M-2 ready to take the ideal photojournalist's picture of the pair of them and when I depressed or sought to depress the shooter button, nothing happened.

I was at that instantly out of film. I laughed but only sardonically.

Tito basically told Stalin to stuff it; if Stalin invaded, the Soviet Army would fail and fall to the same Partisan forces that ultimately defeated the Nazis in Yugoslavia with help from the OSS of the United States.

And now divided, the old Yugoslavia I knew does not exist.

But I love my memories of Ivan Generalic and his small village, Hlebine, which taught me so much about humility and humanity.

God bless Ivan Generalic. His works shall live on until the ends of time.

Rock on and practice peace and love.See ArtTraveler's videos at: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler (TM)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

ArtTraveler shares his images of Spanish Christian reverence and icons

Samana Santa procession in Canillas de Albaida.
High mass at cathedral in Palma, Majorca.

A dove enjoying Spanish spring in the campo (countryside).
Although only about 5 percent of all Spaniards attend mass regularly, never doubt their roots to Jesus Christ and especially, Mary.

During my more than 6 years living and traveling in Spain, the Catholic Church's spiritual influence prevails, especially during Holy Week (Samana Santa).

Since this is Christmas Day and I awoke to watch and listen to Spanish television's nativity concerts, I was imbued with many memories of my own childhood Christmas celebrations, including a family ritual we had: attending a candlelight church service.

I wish you all a loving and peaceful day. Please see ArtTraveler's videos at: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

All fotos by S. van Drake.



 Rock on and practice peace and love. Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Double click for full screen images.
 
Three children prepare to join a Samana Santa procession in Malaga this year.
Re-enactment of Christ performing miracle.
Palma, Majorca cathedral.
The church tower of Competa, Malaga province during a time out for the band.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

ArtTraveler reconstructs anti-GW Bush rage that gave birth to "Burning Bush" painting

"Burning Bush" by S. van Drake, a gift to Joost & Moira Schepel of Competa, Spain; acrylic/mixed media on linnen. Aporox: 900 X 250 cm.
I want to talk about rage and art.

As a pacifist (US certified conscientious objector circa 1969), watching fascist US President George W. Bush define himself as the "war president" confirmed the demise of  what was once a fairly well respected US empire.

In the spring of 2005, I had a nervous breakdown: my mother died, albeit living a full and eventful life at age 90; the 7/7 London bombings happened two days after her death; I was poor and could not attend my mother's funeral; George W. was waging a Christian Crusade against Islamic Iraq based on lies and Big Oil's dreams of greed and glory and the military industrial complexe's lust to create a cycle of capitalistic destruction and reconstruction, a new and profitable industry of nation pilaging and re-building, which made more than a handful of GOP cronies super rich.

Thousands of 19-25 year-old US troops playing computer games in tanks and behind computer screens on fighter bombers proceeded to destroy Iraq.

All on the premise of carefully crafted lies by Joseph Wolfovitz (think IMF) and Karl Rove (think anti-Christ) and plans developed to invade Iraq in the late 90's in a conservative think tank dominated by Rove and Wolfovitz, all designed to enrich GOP capitalist funders like Haliburton (former VP Dick Chene's former company).

As we know, Chene became the evil puppeteer of the equally evil but incredibly stupid GW Bush.

All this combined with my most recent completion of 10 hours of acrylic art instruction by a female Danish artist in Competa, Andalusia, Spain in 2005,  compeled me to paint what turned out to be "Burning Bush,." my second painting.

I could not afford canvass. I bought linnen at the local flea market. I prepared it after laying plastic on the floor of my flat in Competa. I taped down the linnen. I prepared acrylic colours in cheap plastic bowls around the perimeters of the linnen for quick application.

I had no concept. None, Only emotions driving the construction of this painting.

I did not know where I was going.

All I knew was rage against perhaps one of the most evil men in history: George W. Bush, a man about whom I learned from his law school roomie, a West Palm Beach, Florida lawyer (a bit intoxicated at the time) that the year 2000 candidate for US President did three things in law school: cocaine, booze and women. Exact words.

Bush, a man devoid of intellect, ethics or compassion,: a true sociopath.

I was livid at what I percieved from the get-go as an illegal war against Iraq based on bogus claims of WMD, hyped by mainstream media and paid mouthpieces.

I simply started painting, a ground colour and then suddenly I shaped a multi-coloured meteor looking object, adding dried flowers I found in my apartment, compulsively applying mixed media techniques with a special emphasis on texture, including organic seeds I glued and painted over to create a subtle but illuminating, dark universe.

Again, I knew not where I was going with this hideous and emotionally charged work.

I added gesso, glue and sand to create globs of gooey textured blobs of mixed and flowing and igneous colours, applied with large brushes and wide and unrestrained brush strokes. I would then let this dry and move onto something else on the canvass.

Near the very end of it all, I still did NOT see what I had created.

And finally it hit me, even though all this rage against Bush was there, and it was intensely focused; it was totally subconscious, until....

Until it finally occured to me that there was something drastically missing from this roughly 900 X 250 cm painting. The visual vacancy was in Washington, DC. A political/artistic void.

I finally realized before adding the final touch, that what I had created was the US of A crashing and burning through the atmosphere as a meteor destined to destroy the earth as in the one that reputedly wiped out the dinasours.

Wiping out the Bush administration, however, seemed more appropriate.

And then I remembered taking pictures in Amsterdam in 2004 of anit-Bush graffiti stenciled onto highly textured building exteriors as a protest.

I decided to print the picture of one of these convincing images of "W"  on red construction paper and paste it in where you might expect to see Washington, D.C. I then painted in some crimson to match and create a transition to the rest of the painting.

And then I got very, very excited.

I found myself enjoying seeing the US of A burning and dissolving as it entered Earth's atmosphere, a burning but dying empire, a meteor of a once great state disentegrating.

I called it "Burning Bush."

And Moses never left my mind thereafter.

Happy Holidays.

Rock on and practice peace and love. See ArtTraveler's videos at: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)



I tried different pallettes to try create the right emotional madness. I completed this on May 25, 2005.



What's not to love about a war criminal? Foto by S. Van Drake.






ArtTraveler probes the dark side of artists' inspiration

"I would never do away with suffering, for it is often what makes artists express themselves most forcefully." Vincent van Gogh, 13 April 1881 in a letter to brother Theo.

Before Western psychiatrists managed to create a huge volume of detailed diagnoses (DMS IV-R), the mental or emotionalillnesses or "disoerders" of artists and everyone else simply persisted without label and denied recognition and often treatment, unless for obvious maladies like schizophrenia, although these unfortunates were merely shunted off to squalid dungeons for the insane.

I painted these acryclic on canvass inner demons inspired by noone but my subconscious.

Acrylic on canvass by S. van Drake 34 X 24 cm
Van Gogh created some of his best work in such a mental institution or when he was the most anguished.  All of these below, painted during a very dark time here in Spain, when I was very poor, depressed, anguished and stressed can only represent an expression of my subconscious.

I do not understand them and as I said, I don't like them.




Many assert Van Gogh was bi-polar or manic-depressive. So what? What is unusual about a third of all professional actors in the US diagnosed bi-polar?

Most cope well with the disorder and some thrive from it. Van Gogh experienced extreme mood swings and energy levels consistent with modern day bi-polar symptoms.

Remember, no one-size label fits all.

You might ascribeVan Gogh's cutting off his ear to his mental disease or disorder but it's more likely a result of a ferocious argument and falling out with Paul Gauguin, his estranged studio mate in the south of France.

"Now if I recover, I must start afresh, but I shall never be able to reach the heights to which the illness to some extent had me," Van Gogh wrote Gauguin on 12 January 1889.

I personally identify with Van Gogh's creative thesis about suffering and illness.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, after painting The Third of May: Executions in the Moncloa (1808-1814), slid into apparent depression, bitterness and great grief and then, out of the depths of this darkness, created what are known as his Black Paintings, 14 oil paintings on plaster, on show as part of the Prado's permanent collection.

I identify with this creative process that at times motivates many artists--a high level of emotions.

When I first started painting certain events and stressors played an import role in producing a series of what I consider rather bizarre paintings.

I really don't like them.

But a far more experienced artist told me, "They are all self-portraits." The subconscious controls many brush strokes; they are compelling, impulsive and often very dark.

Rock on and practice peace. Check out ArtTraveler's videos at: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)