Saturday, December 20, 2008

screw the economy, buy some art.

Want some original artwork? Want some reasonably priced original artwork? Let me help you with that.
I've spent the last few weeks working on a series of very small, very green drawings. I realize you can see that they are in in color....but it is also important to point out that I've used green "reuse" materials here and saved this paper and wood from being discarded.
All drawings are ink on paper and all are in the 4 inch to 5 inch size range. Each one below is framed (no glass) and ready to hang. (the paper is mounted to a plywood backing)

Information is listed below each image and I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have...but really, this is pretty simple. If you want one, comment or email me at my website ( and I'll reserve it for you on a first come, first serve basis. Mail me a check and I'll mail you a drawing. The images here are not great quality but if you're interested I can email you a better photo. These are brand new and not available anywhere else.

Support the arts and tell your friends.

"What you don't see" 2008
4" x 4" (7 1/2" x 7 1/2" frame)
$50.00 (includes shipping)
"Tricky" 2008
5" x 5" (8" x 8" frame)
$50.00 (includes shipping)
SOLD "There he goes" 2008
4" x 4" (7 1/2" x 7 1/2" distressed frame)
$50.00 (includes shipping)

"Punk" 2008
4" x 4" (7 1/2" x 7 1/2" frame)
$50.00 (includes shipping)

"Not afraid to use it" 2008
4" x 4" (7 1/2" x 7 1/2" frame)
$50.00 (includes shipping)

SOLD "Magpies" 2008
4" x 4" (7 1/2" x 7 1/2" frame)
$50.00 (includes shipping)

"Looks like" 2008
4" x 4" (7 1/2" x 7 1/2" frame)
$50.00 (includes shipping)

Friday, December 12, 2008

blue drawing

Last Saturday most of my day was consumed with moving and photographing the new sculpture. Because I lack any real superpowers, I enlisted the help of my wife Georgie and our 2 year old son Blue to move the 8 foot steel sculpture. Georgie is excellent help in transporting sculptures and, well, Blue was mostly there so we could make sure he wasn't throwing things at the television or chasing chihuahuas around with a hammer. But he did pay attention and he was able to repeatedly use a word he learned in the last few weeks....."scupp-shure".

I'll give you a second to sound it out.

The next day Blue busts out the crayons and positions his paper just so and informs me that he is going to "color" now. And he does. When he finishes he points to the paper and says, "Look, I draw daddy scupp-shure".

I'll give you a second to get over the sheer cuteness of that.

We all know people who think their child is a genius after completing the simplest task and perhaps it is required of every parent to think their child is smart. It might even approach annoying when the accountant parent always points out how their child seems to be naturally good with numbers or the English teacher points out how well their 1 1/2 year old is enunciating her words.

With that in mind check out the drawing he did of my sculpture:

Just like you, I took a quick look and thought, "random scribbles". The brain files opened and caused me to remember the early stages of artistic development in children and how important these random scribbles are in teaching children that they can manipulate the materials and make marks on a page. I told him how good it was and moved on to making elephant sounds and telling him he didn't really need to eat more cake.

But then, like those of you who actually pay attention to detail, I started to notice the similarities the drawing shared with the sculpture. Seriously, look. All the important parts are represented. Not wanting to be one of "those" parents, I kept my mouth shut until Georgie walked in the room and noticed it too and then pointed out that he even chose the correct color.

I'm not saying he's a genius or a child prodigy. I am saying he knows his alphabet, he can count past ten, and he is cuter than most people born in the last twenty or so years.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

sneak preview

I'm not sure why you come here, but you deserve something nice for reading my rambles and looking at my strange photos. So here's a little holiday reward for you. You get to see the new sculpture in all of it's glory before anyone else in the universe. Okay, my mom, dad, aunt, wife, and son saw it before you, but you are the first non-blood relative to see it. Meet "Miss Faith":

"Miss Faith" is painted steel and she stands eight feet tall. Of course each new sculpture becomes my favorite for a while, but I'm pretty sure this one is one of the strongest sculptures I've made in a while. Speak up if you have opinions...and stay the next week or so I plan to stick some new drawings up here that you could purchase pretty cheap.

Monday, December 1, 2008

slow down

the same phrase repeated again and again. i get it. i'm slowing down.

Friday, November 28, 2008

read this

The Effort
-Billy Collins
from his collection of poems, Ballistics, Random House, 2008

Would anyone care to join me
in flicking a few pebbles in the direction
of teachers who are fond of asking the question:
“What is the poet trying to say?”

as if Thomas Hardy and Emily Dickinson
had struggled but ultimately failed in their efforts-
inarticulate wretches that they were,
biting their pens and staring out the window for a clue.

Yes, it seems that Whitman, Amy Lowell
and the rest could only try and fail,
but we in Mrs. Parker’s third-period English class
here at Springfield High will succeed

with the help of these study questions
in saying what the poor poet could not,
and we will get all this done before
that orgy of egg salad and tuna fish known as lunch.

Tonight, however, I am the one trying
to say what it is this absence means,
the two of us sleeping and waking under different roofs.
The image of this vase of cut flowers,

not from our garden, is no help.
And the same goes for the single plate,
the solitary lamp, and the weather that presses its face
against these new windows-the drizzle and the
morning frost.

So I will leave it up to Mrs. Parker,
who is tapping a piece of chalk against the blackboard,
and her students-a few with their hands up,
others slouching with their caps on backwards-

to figure out what it is I am trying to say
about this place where I find myself
and to do it before the noon bell rings
and that whirlwind of meatloaf is unleashed.

If you've never read Billy Collins, shame on you. Go out right now and buy something of his, starting with this most recent collection of his work. Collins has the ability to draw the spiritual out of the mundane and mixes cocktails of goofy humor, head-splitting truth, and the ordinarily divine. It will make you a better person and will probably crack you up.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


One of the hard lessons I learned directly after leaving undergraduate school was that without specific project assignments and deadlines for completion it was easy to become stagnant as an artist. In school I had the benefit of those irritating professors coming up with challenging new assignments and barking at me like a drill sergeant to make sure I finished each project by the appropriate date. Without that irritation, however, I found it difficult to know what I should do next and even when I came up with an idea for a new creative project, the lack of a hard deadline allowed me to idly procrastinate for weeks on end.

During graduate school I focused on this idea of deadlines and began to enforce my own deadlines as a means to developing a larger quantity of work in a relatively short period of time. The creative process became more important when there was a sense of urgency to the production time. I was forced to plan ahead and develop several sketches and ideas before getting my hands on steel or paper. This approach also pushed me to make assessments and changes as the project developed adding analysis and synthesis to the process. Not every decision made on the fly was a good one, but I was generally able to recognize my mistakes and not repeat them in successive projects.

In life after school I continue to work under self imposed deadlines. Often this is made easier by an approaching exhibition date, a request from a gallery, or a call for artist submissions. But if no outside force acts, I still often set a specific date for completing a project. Sometimes these deadlines are selfish in terms of creating opportunities for me to relax or shift gears for a while and focus on something different. An approaching vacation or trip presents a good opportunity to set a deadline the week before leaving. With a project finished my mind is free to move on to other thought processes and I can spend more time away from the shop or art room and spend that time with my family. I may also shift from working on a sculpture project to a drawing project or I may decide to spend a few weeks reading and sketching in preparation for the next big sculpture.

Other times these deadlines are almost impossible. Last year I did the “one drawing per week” deadline. A few years ago I did the “five new large scale sculptures in 3 months” deadline. And this month I did the “finish this one by Thanksgiving” deadline, essentially allowing 8 work days to complete a seven foot sculpture from start to finish. But while I did meet all these deadlines, I’m not always so successful. There was the never-ending sculpture this last summer, there was the acrylic painting that gave me fits last spring, and there was the big sculpture that attempted suicide by leaping out on the highway a few miles from the metal shop. Yet even in the ones I missed, deadlines are always motivators.

I am much more realistic with deadlines for my students although they’d tell you a different story. I fight a constant battle against the slackers and procrastinators and do my best to stamp out such enemies of creativity. Even with my most generous deadlines I regularly have students who turn in projects late despite the tough penalty for tardiness. My goal is to teach each student early on what I had to learn on my own….that deadlines can be most helpful in developing a creative process that works for the individual. Those who listen and observe will find that they gain time management skills, learn creative problem solving skills, and develop advanced techniques in handling each new medium. I’ve watched recently as one student began to realize this and made advances in his design work as a result despite some bad luck. After pulling an all-nighter and subsisting mostly on Red Bull he accidentally nudged the Red Bull can over spilling the contents across his freshly painted design just hours before the deadline. That is of course, the bad luck part. The good part is after he composed himself he started over and nearly completed the new design on time. The really good part is that the new design gave him the opportunity to solve some mistakes and problems he was able to identify in the first draft and he was able to see how much he could accomplish when he was intensely focused on meeting the deadline.

Now there’s a foundation to build on.

Friday, November 21, 2008


The Upstairs Artspace is marking their 30th anniversary with a special exhibit comprised of nearly 200 individual artists' works. These artists have exhibited work at the Upstairs from 1978 - 2008 and the fact that so many of them responded is a testament to the legacy of this fine contemporary art gallery.
Exhibiting artists are donating an extra 10% of all sales to benefit the gallery and opening reception attendees are asked to donate $19.78 to help sure up the financial status of the gallery.
I know it seems like everyone is looking for some sort of financial help lately, but do not be discouraged from attending this event or from purchasing some exceptional art. This gallery is known for it's focus on the artist - instead of the gallery...something that is rare these days indeed. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this is likely why the gallery seems to struggle just to keep it's head above water at times.
So if you want some art or if you just want something to do this Saturday night, come out and put a small amount of money to good use. Donate it to a gallery that really deserves it....and that gallery will use it to promote more great contemporary art in the Southest.
The Upstairs Artspace is located at
49 South Trade Street
Tryon, NC 28782

Sunday, November 16, 2008

progress report

2nd coat of primer. it's gray...the color is from the sodium lights.
i'm tired.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Abstraction in Character Review & Images

Linda Luise Brown, Charlotte Observer, Oct. 24, 2008

Right now the spaces at the Gallery at Carillon are enriched with some fresh-out-of-the-studio contemporary art.
These paintings and ceramics recall the florid colors of the “Fauves,” the abstracted human forms of Willem de Kooning, the meticulous technique of the French “Pointillists.” This current art bears plenty of other references to 19th- and 20th-century art history.

Of the five artists' work on display, David JP Hooker's multiple-part glazed ceramic construction (it's 8-by-12-feet across a wall) most resembles “Cascade,” Jean Tinguely's permanent installation that dominates the lobby. Though static rather than mobile, Hooker's “Tumblestack IV” promotes unusual juxtapositions, as does Tinguely's work. Hooker, who studied at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, lives in Wheaton, Ill.
But it is the vivid color and loose execution of paintings by Philip Morsberger that will catch your attention.

The huge staring face of the ragged-edged man with the startled cartoon eyes in Morsberger's “Epiphany” is the right scale for the sharp corporate lobby. His lively impasto paintings command their spaces here. Using thickly drawn lines, Morsberger applies abstracted figures of men and dogs, sometimes combined, over a background of splashy scrubbed color painted by the Abstract Expressionist brush load.

The inward-looking, tightly controlled pencil and brushwork of Paul Matheny of Rock Hill makes a good counterpoint to the unleashed mania of Morsberger's brush.

Matheny's small panels are covered with networks of fine lines with some of the spaces filled in with thin layers and thick pinpoints of paint to create the intense “pointillist” appearance. Birds, heads, suns, targets are transformed into a mystical realm of symbols with obscure meanings. In “Seeds,” images of targets form a halo effect around a whitened profile, symbolizing floating thoughts or ideas.

Notably, all eight pieces of Matheny's contain the motif of the silhouetted profile. “Finding Frogmore” features a bottle tree branching from one such head. Dozens of bottles rendered with the inner glow of lapis lazuli float amid stars; the whole surface is rendered with an obsessive texture reminiscent of Arabic or Islamic tile decoration.

Two brightly painted anthropomorphic steel sculptures by Doug McAbee of Spartanburg stand on both sides of the lobby door, acting as otherworldly sentinels.

The work of the solitary woman in the show, Jill Allan of Portland, Ore., is subdued by contrast. Her slab-built earthenware sculptures – two larger-than-life birds nesting among upright wires twisted into spoon shapes –nestle in a quieter corner of the lobby, inviting muted conversation.

The work on view through Jan.16 certainly contains some abstracted characteristics; strictly speaking, however, this is not an abstract show.
Abstract or not, it is a good show, and kudos go to Hodges Taylor Gallery for bolstering the uptown experience with art of good quality.
"Tumblestack IV"
David JP Hooker
Glazed Ceramic
"The Man Himself"
Philip Morsberger
Oil on Canvas
"Dog Day Afternoon (No. 2)"
Philip Morsberger
Oil on Canvas
Paul Matheny
Acrylic & Graphite on Wood Panel

Paul Matheny
Acrylic & Graphite on Wood Panel
"Laura Jean"
Doug McAbee
Painted Steel

Doug McAbee
Painted Steel

"Chemical Reaction"

Jill Allen

Mixed Media

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

my kid is more creative than you

Ok, I'll admit he had some help with the carving. But if he had been properly trained in the use of sharp tools, I am convinced he would have generated a much more creative result.
This has nothing to do with the fact that I may or may not be biased when it comes to his super-intelligence and hyper-creativity. It has everything to do with his age and stage of development.
Many moons ago I endured a thorough round of education classes along with three years of art education classes under the teaching of Dr. Margaret Johnson. Since artistic exploration was closely connected with determining the developmental stages of children this was a topic we visited often. However, since I moved on to teach a much older age range, I've filed most of that information away into the darker areas of my brain. Lately though, I've been recalling much of that information as I've watched my son become good friends with his crayons.
As it turned out, it was not a crayon he used to demonstrate his amazing creativity. It was a biscuit.
We were enjoying breakfast for dinner the other night and he quietly began devouring his almost perfectly round biscuit. I watched as he took a semi-circle bite. Very intentionally he observed the remains and turned the biscuit 180 degrees. He paused briefly and took another similar sized bite. Then he proudly hoisted the twice bitten biscuit into the air high above his head and proclaimed: "It's an airplane!" Lots of airplane noises followed and then another pause. He turned the biscuit 90 degrees this time and said, "Oooooooh, it's a boat!"
Between the ages of 2 and 7 this type of uninhibited creativity flourishes in children as they begin to interact with and explore their environments. Studies consistently show that this creativity begins to decline during the elementary school years as children are taught conformity to rules and social expectations and perhaps begin to experience criticism in regard to their different thinking.
The students I teach are on the other end of this dip in creativity. Having escaped from high school, college students begin to show a marked increase in creativity as they are set free from the expectations of their primary schools and begin to experience higher levels of personal freedom. I often see students wrestling with this as they try to hold on to the comfort of thinking that there are "right answers" and formulas that work in all situations. Many of them...many of us...have a long way to go in order to get back to the point where a biscuit is not just a biscuit.
Picasso said a lot of crazy things, but one thing he said still holds weight with me. He said, "I spent the first half of my life trying to learn how to draw like an adult and the last half of my life trying to learn how to draw like a child."
See, even Picasso thinks my kid is more creative than you.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

austin, meet hudson

the truck is just behind the tree but you can still get an idea of hudson's size.
the new one at the end of week 2

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Now Showing

"Abstraction in Character" Exhibition at the Gallery at Carillon, Uptown Charlotte, NC

This exhibit includes Philip Morsberger, David Hooker, Paul Matheny, Jill Allen, & me and is curated by Hodges Taylor Gallery. It begins October 17 and continues through January 9, 2009.

Need reasons to go? How about new ceramic wall sculpture by David Hooker. Or there's some brand new paintings by Paul. (David and Paul have both been mentioned on here before in the early days of the e-sketchbook) And then there's the giant Sol LeWitt cube on the back wall. And of course, the very cool Jean Tingley giant motorized fountain sculpture in the center of the lobby.
And just inside the main entrance you'll also meet:

& "Laura Jean"

mine, Tingley's, & LeWitt's

"Laura Jean" and the others

view through the Tingley

antlers and ears
The Carillon building is at 227 W. Trade Street, Charlotte, NC. For more information you may contact me or Hodges Taylor Gallery (

Thursday, October 16, 2008

more notes...

"Before the beautiful - no, not before but within the beautiful - the whole person quivers. He not only "finds" the beautiful moving; rather, he experiences himself as being moved and possessed by it."

-Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Monday, October 13, 2008

clara and friends

Someone sent me this photo from the show in Maryland. Sometimes it's OK to touch the artwork.
Many thanks to this family (especially the 3 month old) for the encouragement.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

heads up or you'll miss the leaves

Some of my former students tell me that having a kid has made me kinder. Logan calls me "soft" and keeps waiting to catch me talking in high pitched, kid-speak. Nora calls me "Grandpa Doug". Of course neither of them are correct, but putting that photo up there will give them a couple of months worth of new material. You're welcome.
That's my mom and my kid as seen from the door of the metal shop a few weeks ago.

... and this was two days of work inside the metal shop this week.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

notes on beauty

"If what we mean by beauty has centrally to do with honesty, authenticity, truth telling, then the congruent simplicity of the aritist's action will heighten, not suppress, the tensioned reality of life in this world."

"That is why so often "nice" art is so much more distasteful and tedious than an unflinchingly honest expression of the ugly realities an artist also perceives."

"It is God's delight in something that makes it beautiful. Beauty is in the eye of the Creator before it is in the eye of the creature."

" sentimentalize something is to look only at the emotion in it and at the emotion it stirs in us rather than at the reality of it, which we are always tempted not to look at because reality, truth, silence are all what we are not much good at and avoid when we can. To sentimentalize something is to savor rather than to suffer the sadness of it, is to sigh over the prettiness of it rather than to tremble at the beauty of it, which may make fearsome demands of us or pose fearsome threats"

all taken from the chapter 5, "The Holiness of Beauty" in David Willis' book, "Notes on the Holiness of God"

Friday, September 26, 2008

it's not easy raising the dead

Those of you following along at home may remember the mention of the death of my sculpture “Beauford” earlier this summer. If not, just pretend I placed a link to that entry here and scroll back down to July and read about it. Since I felt that I could have used the imagery better, I set about the task of disassembling “Beauford” and searching for better solutions to the visual communication problems. With a sketch and some good ideas swirling in my head I started on resurrecting the sculpture in early July.

Generally speaking, I can turn out a new large sculpture in about three weeks. Those of you familiar with my schedule will realize that does not mean 21 days of working, rather it means about 5 or 6 days of actual time in the metal shop over the course of those weeks. I am very impatient and even this relatively quick progress can seem to me to drag on forever.

But this one…this one almost killed me.

It took just over two months to complete this resurrection. I ran through all of my good ideas and realized after spending hours creating and attaching them that they were not such good ideas after all. Several dramatic changes in direction followed. A lot of steel was used. A couple of hammers were thrown in anger. I even had to venture into the research of some branches of aesthetics. And there were unfounded rumors of some sort of mild case of heat exhaustion (I maintain that I was just tired for several days).

One of the greatest experiences of this almost eternal process was the uncertainty. I’m supposed to be an artist – a professional – and yet there were so many days I left the shop in frustration fully convinced that I had no idea what I was doing. At times I just wanted to toss it all in the scrap bin and start on something I was more sure would be a success. Like everyone else, I wanted to go back to what I “knew”. Growth is overrated anyway, right? But I kept going back and kept working at it determined that I’d eventually figure it out. Each new choice I made was huge and each time I decided to try an idea, it always seemed to be an action that would either work perfectly or completely destroy the entire sculpture.

The result is “Stinky”; a sculpture that shares some similarities with my previous work in terms of its fabrication and its reliance on the design fundamentals yet it is a sculpture that stands out in stark contrast when compared to my other work in terms of color, texture and mood. It is a step in an unknown direction – a direction that I expect to explore and continue to learn from.

Will people like it? I’m not so sure. But I know that something does not have to be pretty in order to be beautiful.

There are some photos on the website, so go over and have a look and see what you think.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

october ball

I dont want to jinx anything by talking about it.

The first playoff series begins at Wrigley Field on October 1.

and announcers: can you please go easy on the whole "it's been 100 years since the last time they won a World Series" stuff? I know you think it's a great story, but everyone who really cares has just about had enough of it already.

Friday, September 19, 2008

nobody expects the spanish inquisition

A student uttered a wonderful sentence to me recently.

She said, “I don’t know.”

I can’t get used to a scene that repeats itself each semester almost without fail. The students are trying to get a feel for my boundaries and using testing questions to see if they find me an instructor they can trust to provide them with constantly correct information. This goes on until I prove myself worthy or unworthy and always in the course of this interrogation they get around to finally saying something along the lines of “well you just know everything, don’t you?” or “are you ever wrong about anything?”. Oh yeah, it’s loaded with sarcasm but it’s also revealing something they’ve learned from or about teachers over the years of their educational experience.
I feel that it’s important to quickly let them know that I do not know everything. I am not always correct. Do I have a lot of visual art information crammed in my head? Sure. Do I have a large number of years of experience working in sculptural and drawing materials and in using problem solving to create art? Sure. But even though this is my area of concentration I do not walk around with all the correct answers to all questions sitting on the tip of my tongue. This is art. There are no handy formulas to always provide the artist with the right solution to a given problem. Each drawing and each sculpture I make is about exploring and trying new things and working and reworking to see if I can find a way to communicate a particular idea in a non-verbal fashion.

This idea seems to match up with older artists working late into their careers. I see no evidence that even those we refer to as “masters” ever arrived at such an artistic nirvana where they never had to really work at problem solving any longer. It seems that Rauchenberg, Oldenburg, and yes, even Picasso and DaVinci were involved in asking questions and trying new things long after they were established as “greats”. Perhaps this art thing is a race that one can never finish. Maybe finishing is not the point.

“I don’t know” should not be an ending, it should be a beginning. The uttering of that statement should be the point where learning actually begins. We don’t know, so we look it up. We ask someone. We try something we’ve never tried before. We take a bit of advice and run with it.
The multitudes of things that I do not know push me toward research. For several months I’ve been interested in possible connections between the Divine and Aesthetics. Following these ideas has forced me into reading about Theology in general and Theological Aesthetics in particular. Last week I sat down with a copy of The Holiness of God, a nice little extended essay by David Willis containing a chapter of interest called “The Holiness of Beauty”. My learning started fast…beginning with a truckload of words in the first paragraph I had to look up in the dictionary. I felt only slightly better about myself when several of those words proved to also be foreign to the folks at Webster. I also learned that Mr. Willis is the Charles Hodge Professor of Systematic Theology Emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary which meant I was attempting to read far above my grade level. And let me tell you, it’s tough to get the meaning of a sentence when you have to stop and look up every second word. I think even my dog felt bad for me as he sighed deeply and buried his head in the couch. He can be very condescending.

Do I know everything? Not even close. But with the help of my dictionary and my curly-haired friend who just happens to be a PTS graduate, I’m going to learn some new things about beauty. It’s going to take a while, but I’ll learn.

And that student? She’s going to learn some things about Design.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Update on Clara

Clara won 3rd Place in the 9th Annual Will's Creek Survey!

I suppose this means that if the 2 higher runners-up are unable to serve or find themselves the subject of some internet photo scandals she could reign in their places?

See photos of the exhibit here: Gallery Tour The Allegany Arts Council

*Clara also pulled in the "Sophia Brill Art Award for Playfulness"

Friday, September 5, 2008

that clara

She's at it again.

If I knew how I'd insert a link here to the very first E-Sketchbook post, you could click it and see an image of Clara in all her green glory. I suppose you can still see it, but you'll have to work a little harder.

If you're going to be in Maryland during the next month, and come on, you know you've always wanted to on over to the Allegany Arts Council's Saville Gallery in Cumberland and visit Clara. She's there as a part of the 9th Annual Will's Creek Survey Juried Show. The show opens Saturday night (9-6-08) and runs through October 3.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Summer of Living Leisurely

At the beginning of summer I had a stack of books I needed to read. I eventually worked my way through all of them but I began with what turned out to be the most entertaining and educational of them all.

A.J. Jacobs is a writer and editor for Esquire Magazine and tends to write about his own adventures and experiences. In a previous book called The Know-It-All he wrote about a year of his life he devoted to reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica from A-Z. His most recent book (and the one I read) is The Year of Living Biblically and it details how his life changed as he sought to follow all the rules of the Bible literally for one year. He’s also a pretty funny guy.

Jacobs considers himself an agnostic though his family comes from a Jewish background and of course that means he went into this project with some preconceived notions about the book the was attempting to follow. One of his reasons for undertaking this project was that he was interested in the phenomenon of religious fundamentalism. He was skeptical of religious zealots and wondered how anyone could engage in a belief system that seemed to leave logic so far behind.

One of the interesting things that happened along the way is that Jacobs became a very disciplined follower of the Bible. In fact, though he never considered himself a “believer” during this process his “biblical life” for that year put to shame the lives of most individuals who say they follow the scriptures. One example of that is in the book when he out-talks and out-lasts a visiting Jehovah’s Witness.

Personally I believe that Jacobs let his cynicism get the best of him in the end. The book is well written and will make you laugh out loud again and again and as far as it details his year long struggle to follow the Bible literally, it accomplishes that goal completely. But in his mostly scientific approach I could almost see him retreat a couple of times in the book. Retreating from what? Maybe you should read it and see what you think.

In the end Jacobs is relieved to be free from all the rules and as what he now calls “a reverent agnostic” he gives short book tour talks about some things he learned from the year long experiment. One of those things is that your behavior influences your thoughts. Stemming from Biblical ideas of giving thanks, Jacobs found that as he was required to be thankful for every tiny thing that went well each day he became more positive and pleasant. Who knew the Bible dealt with cognitive psychology? Another thing he says he learned from the year of rules is the importance of a Sabbath. The Bible forced him to observe the Sabbath day for a year and as a workaholic father and husband he found this quite distressing at first. It was difficult for him to stay away from his computer when he knew he had so many things to do. At first it seemed he was losing a work day each week but soon he began to see the peace and calm this day of forcible rest brought to his life. It caused him to slow down, to enjoy more of the things around him, and I would argue that it also helped him in his creativity and idea development.

I finished the book in May and inspired by this idea of forced rest I decided to slow down and enjoy my summer. Normally this can be one of my busiest times since I can be in the shop more and can usually turn out several new sculptures and drawings. This summer I completed two small drawings and two larger painting/drawings. I did an indoor show, a public art exhibition, and worked on a new sculpture, but still haven’t finished it. I played with legos and rode tricycles. I went to the beach a few times. I ate a lot of ice cream…apparently about five pounds of ice cream and I read that stack of books.

Now that the Summer Sabbath is over, I’m going back to finish up that sculpture I’m still sort of excited about.

I leave you with photos of the last hurrah of summer…from the outermost bands of tropical storm Fay.