“Psyche”, oil on panel, 12×16″, start and finish side by side

“I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’” – Ernest Hemingway

I just now saw that quote as I’m finishing up this article to post, and it couldn’t have been more fitting, so I decided to include it. Besides, it’s a wonderful reminder, and maybe more succinctly expressed than I’ve done in my own ramblings below..

At the beginning of this year, I had plans to tap into what new stories I had to tell, to explore what that meant to me now, to slow down, to take care of myself. It was to be a regrouping in order to continue on in this search for truth. Life had been pretty intense in 2019 for me, and nearing the end of the year, I had come to a point when that realization had collided with pure exhaustion. To be able to follow through with my plans, I was fortunate enough to have a few things aligned, but it would be a bare-bones sort of year ahead, one that would require living a bit more deliberately in terms of necessities while creating much more openly than I already had been. I was ready for it, and after taking some time to get caught up on (or at least chip away at) the debt I had accrued when it came to my well-being, I started to organize what was ahead.

For me, January of this year seemed surreal and open like an abyss after 2019. It was then in January that I was first contacted to do this painting. It was to be a promotional piece for a new multi-category deck system for Reckless Deck called PSYCHE. Wonderful! What a great thing this is, and a fitting content not only for my work in general already but for my plan for the year: to dig deeper and explore the inner workings of my character.

the start

Not long afterwards, the pandemic hit, which also coincided with news that would have me making a few visits to the hospital and those were so very eerie, and that eerie feeling would prove helpful at that time. The rest of the year unfolded and spiraled into a seemingly never-ending continuous thread of intense moments for all of us. In a way, I was grateful for the hospital visits that had coincided with the beginning of it all because it had me being cautious from the very beginning as well as had me feeling a stronger sense of purpose. Dig Deeper has been 2020’s MO. I was thankful for having heeded that January self-prescribed slowing down. It was the leveling up that I needed in order to get me through the months that followed. One thing I seem to be reminded of more frequently in recent years especially is that taking some time for yourself isn’t always about recuperating after what was in the past, but it’s a leveling up for what lies ahead.

Fast forward to now and so much has happened since then. Am I right? It’s interesting to look back on that time and the plans I had. If ever there was a time to sync some out-of-control circumstances that would have us all retreat to the interior of our spaces and not come out for several months, it was this year for me without a doubt. In terms of this project alone, it went through several iterations while I felt like I, myself, was doing the same. This project alone, which was to yield one finished image, spawned 5 different paintings. The 4 others leading up to the final were not a waste of time, though. They’re paintings I can now finish as they are strong pieces but were not quite the ones for this job.

Doing those many different iterations didn’t only pertain to the job itself but had to do with these ongoing pandemic months. The plan was to explore. Honestly, there were times when I also just felt lost on the exploration overall and in hindsight I realize, well, that was the point: the journey. The exploration itself is not a straight line from point A to point B. Because of the timing of the pandemic, the deadline for this job was pushed back a couple times which gave me a chance to explore more, while sometimes feeling knocked back a bit by everything else going on, and to ultimately feel the result of sticking it through.

detail of Psyche

Over these months, I’ve done a lot of other work too which I’ve shared in many of my more recent articles here, but regarding those other iterations, though I haven’t shared any of them yet, I really do see them as potential paintings in and of themselves, but they just didn’t end up having that something for this particular concept. I think part of this painting’s purpose was that it had me push to discover what that something was. In fact, all of the work I was doing was focused on that, no matter what the context was. Every single thing had me digging deeper, and the most important thing was to show up and keep creating, even if it was just for my own meditative purposes at times or for experimenting with cheerful color schemes just to soothe my soul. All of these helped to inform the rest of what I was doing, and so of course, even though so much of everything might’ve seemed chaotic at times, all of what I was doing helped to inform the end result of this painting. And here with this finish, I’ve ended up with a character who is looking right back at me as if to say “You’ve got this.” or “Bring it.” I realize now that that’s what that something was that I kept scrapping all the others for and starting over. I just wasn’t there yet, but when I finally got it, this painting showed up to tell me.

Really, it just comes down to moments, and so yeah.. in the words of Ernest Hemingway mentioned above, it’s that “one true sentence” at this moment.

And in case anyone else needs to hear it too:  You’ve got this.


the finished painting – Psyche, oil on panel, 12×16″

Ps. shout-out to Clark Huggins, who was my art director for this project, and is the creator of Reckless Deck. We had several good messages back and forth, and he was extremely helpful and supportive, sharing information about the project that was a wonderful peek into the unlimited opportunities that this new deck system offers. An excerpt from the project that seems to sum it up perfectly is:

“…Just like original Reckless Deck, Psyche is here to help you level up creatively. If you’re blocked or stuck, Psyche will get you unstuck, but if you’re already moving along creatively, in your writing or your gaming, Psyche will definitely make sure that you step outside your comfort zone, and start telling a completely new kind of story.”

Cheers to that!

Pps. I hope to share the other painting iterations in a future article here once they are all finished. They’re pretty different although they all started with a similar intent. I think it would be fun to show the finished works all together.