When I first started this blog, I specifically wanted to write about my journey through the art market, offering insight into the state of affairs and how to navigate through what is truly a complicated and oftentimes bewildering industry, where the cream doesn’t necessarily rise to the top. Though, I’ll readily admit that my endeavor to expound on such a topic was not only ambitious, but also overly optimistic, considering how little experience I had in navigating any market on my own, then. And even now, almost six years later, I am still only beginning to make sense of how I fit into that puzzle and how I want to maneuver through it.

So, perhaps more important than my perspective (having officially changed the title of this blog from “Through My Eyes” to “Rapt”), is the fact that I simply Love what I do. It’s the only reason why I’m still in the game and still riding this crazy roller-coaster of a life; because there is nothing easy or glamorous about the hard fight, especially when so many victories are won at too great a cost to have been worthwhile (for any normal person).

That’s not to say that my efforts are wasted, but that the ultimate reward is an elusive one that only a few will ever truly secure. Many are called, it seems. But only a few are chosen. So, in this business, if your heart and mind aren’t perfectly aligned and ready to brush off disappointment (for the sake of pursuing your passion), don’t quit your day job. Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life… and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Mine was always a Labor of Love, since childhood. And I’ve never compromised my vision for the sake of accolades or the easy paycheck. That might make my job a little more difficult at times. But it also makes each new triumph, along the way, much more fulfilling.

I remember my dad telling me, even before I decided to embark on my creative journey, “Always do your work as if you’re going to sign it.” And, although that might sound like the voice of perfectionism to some, it resonated with me, despite only now fully comprehending the significance of that statement, as someone living the life of an artist. Doing my work as if I’m going to sign it has not only held me accountable for my own shortcomings, without deflecting blame elsewhere, but it also creates the opportunity for all my actions to fully express who I am (beyond mere words). I don’t want to tell someone that I am this or that, or some variation. I want them to know it by the way I conduct myself, every day.

So, I still ultimately hope to chart a useful path for other artists to adopt and modify as a loose guide. But, until that accomplishment is capable of speaking for itself, there is no reason for me to assume the role of the teacher. I will continue to report on any advancements in my position (up the ladder, of course). But I’ve decided to slightly shift the direction of this blog, to simply share the enjoyment of the journey with you, and to find better ways of helping you stay inspired on yours as well. So, as of today, this blog is no longer a window into the market, “Through My Eyes”, but an expression of what I am: “Rapt”, and Ready to continue my work.

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Just a quick poem for you, as I re-establish my practice of daily meditation; returning to the source, which is the root and sustenance, which is the breath of mindful living.

“One Breath at a Time”

It is neither the first nor second

Nor will it be the last

But one among many in a sequence that creates Life

With or without the dream

Which only obscures the passage

And obfuscates the true purpose of the journey

Which was always the destination

Moving from one moment to the next

First experienced

Then expressed

One breath at a time

A continuation of the previous entry: “Flashback to Now”

After a brief moment of panic, purely induced by the expectations set upon myself, meditation and sustained mindful breathing has finally restored me to my natural rhythm, which seems aware of itself (once again) as it converges with the subtle energy around me. And, all at once, I am reminded that I am still present and fully immersed in the flow.

Even now, as the steady palpitation that powers this body mingles with the cadence of these typed and whispered words, I am grateful for the knowledge that I am human, after all, and still a work in progress, despite oftentimes driving myself like a machine that was designed for the assembly line. I am multitudinous, and complicated. But I am also just a person, who hungers and bleeds like any other. And I have to remind myself to take a step back from time to time, for perspective. Because, even life itself is variable, as the world around us progresses from day to day.

So, as I continue laying the pieces of my current puzzle across active consciousness, evaluating what is worth salvaging and in what sequence, each fragment of empty or occupied space appears unrelated and incomprehensible at first. But, like stray notes of a chord, when assembled in the proper order creates music, life too is but a living mosaic, to which I have now returned to work.

I woke up on the floor this morning and, while staring at the ceiling, realized…

“D@mn! I’m still here!”

For more than half my life now, officially, I have slept on the floor, sacrificing basic creature comforts, like a bed and chairs, for the sake of my art; to preserve necessary space in which to meditate and work. I sometimes only feel like the hint of a person. And, the reality is… that may never change.

I moved to Austin (TX) with only my clothes, my music, and a stockpile of art supplies. And by March of this year, 2018, I was supposed to be more comfortably situated, within the market, so that I could finally upgrade my living situation, to include an actual life. But, alas… very little seems to work out as planned. And, as I’ve just renewed my lease once more, I can’t help but feel as if I’m back at square one again, despite having made significant strides in learning the business and creating new work. I just forgot to adapt along the way, assuming that whatever previous success I enjoyed would always be.

Fortunately for me, I have to count my blessings as well, and give credit where credit is due, because I have an amazing supporting cast that has kept me fed, inspired and in the game (as I continue to evaluate and improve upon my position). Otherwise, I’d either be on a monster fast (competing for the world’s hungriest artist) or headed home to mom and dad with a ready plate and a larger belt.

So, don’t worry. I could easily justify feeling disheartened or defeated. But, I’m not. Sure, I’ve been punched in the guts. And, d@mn, that hurts! But, that also just pisses me off. And the next round will be mine! You’ll see.

~ to be continued

P.S. Wanna experience the complete flashback? Check out my very first entry, from 2012, here: The Entrance Door

As a professional, in any line of work, the process of re-discovery is continuous. Because there is always something new to learn. And learning means evolving.

I for one have never been satisfied with knowing “just enough” to get by, but instead strive to be all I can, and then some. It’s what keeps me steady in the face of adversity. Because I know I’ve never taken the easy way out. In fact, I fail often… because I dare to confront my uncertainties head-on. And those failures, in return, then provide the tools I need to meet the next challenge.

But it’s not just the lessons we learn that are important. I love learning because it helps me to re-discover the beauty in what I do, forcing me to see the work (once again) through fresh and curious eyes. And this moment is no different, as I immerse myself in the painted landscape.

Landscapes have occupied many a background in my work, and have oftentimes been utilized to express characteristics about my subject. But I haven’t explored the landscape enough on its own to truly say I understand the technique. So as I endeavor to fully incorporate the landscape in my repertoire, here I am again… falling in love with the process of converting raw material into something beautiful.

Check it out: Using a single palette knife, some pretty rugged brushes, painting medium, Gamsol (which is an odorless paint thinner) and few squirts of paint…

Tools and Raw Materials

Tools and Raw Material

The magic begins when all of this mess…

My Palette

Sections of the single palette used to create “Quiet Reflection”

Begins to merge and take shape on the canvas.

Stage-01

A simple sky and outline of the foreground added over a solid wash

Stage-02

Working dark to light, from the background forward

Quiet Reflection: On the easel

On the easel, as I begin to tackle the foreground

Until, at last… the work is complete.

Quiet-Reflection-Eq

“Quiet Reflection” © 2017, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

This was the second of ten practice pieces that I’ve challenged myself to create before Christmas. So, stay tuned! ~ There are plenty more to come!!

The Automatic Process is just one of many methods of creating a painting (or any work of art). But it’s the method I most commonly prefer, primarily because it allows the artist to tap into his/her subconsciousness, oftentimes with surprising results, as artwork that isn’t planned so much as it just happens.

Insatiable

“Insatiable” © 2013, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

Although I also work from fully visualized concepts that are sketched out and systematically executed, my opinion is that The Automatic Process (with practice) can be more genuinely expressive and revealing; not entirely explicit of the artist’s presumed comprehension of the subject, which can be unavoidably subjective, but of the artist’s unacknowledged (or unrealized) aversions, preferences, and innate tendencies toward that subject, which perhaps arrive at a closer proximity to objectivity (without the filters of subjective reasoning). It is a technique that liberates what is normally suppressed by our conditioning (through nature and/or nurture) and animates what I deliberately refer to as Sub-consciousness, rather than The Unconscious, because to actively utilize the unconscious mind’s wealth is to awaken its potential.

For some, it might seem ridiculous to think that such a source can be harvested. However, just like learning a new language, a new skill, or improving one’s memory, tapping into one’s subconsciousness is an acquired ability that can be harnessed through practice, a function that isn’t quite as abstract as one might think. In fact, The Automatic Process is more accurately about allowing one’s self to be vulnerable, admitting (to ourselves, at very least) that we don’t always know why we feel certain ways. It’s about letting go of our imaginary controls, to make room for revelation. And it’s about purposefully encountering our innermost (which is indelible and vast); a frightening proposition, I know, but a journey well worth endeavoring.

Catalog: 1992 - Mar, 2011

“Undertow” © 2013, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

From Freud to Breton, to Your’s Truly:

To shed more light on the subject, I was first introduced to the idea of Psychic Automatism when exploring the roots of the surrealist movement and was immediately intrigued by the suggestion that the limits of active consciousness could be expanded and employed. It was a claim originally proposed by Sigmund Freud, whose psychoanalytic discoveries gave substance to André Breton’s First Surrealist Manifesto, officially establishing Surrealism as an intellectual practice. (read The First Surrealist Manifesto, by André Breton, here: Surrealist Manifesto)

However, because there is no fixed single method of approach, the process of Automatism can vary drastically, influenced by any number of factors (such as personality, emotional state, space and time). And yet, for the most part, I’ve remained faithful to the surrealist’s original manner, adopting what is called Automatic Painting. Though, what is generally considered random and accidental mark making, I now refer to as intuitive composition, simply because of the progression I have witnessed in my own work, which evolved from pure abstract expressionism to diverse representations of abstraction, expressionism, and surrealism.

Here are a few examples of work created with The Automatic Process that exhibit a natural evolution, as I become more and more comfortable with this form of expression. Though the process itself remains necessarily flexible.

Puncture Wound

“Puncture Wound” © 2012, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

A Violent Departure

“A Violent Departure” © 2013, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

Achieving Symmetry

“Achieving Symmetry” © 2014, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

Meditation-Eq

“Out of Bounds” © 2017, Michael Torres ~ All Rights Reserved

My Process:

As previously mentioned, my work isn’t always created in an automatic style. I still honor the tradition of painting when approaching classical subjects, such as landscapes and the body. But when I’m feeling inspired and uninhibited, I usually begin with a single color (if driven by raw emotion) or a simple sketch (when working from a concept that is intended to evolve) and allow instinct and intuition to guide each step along the way.

The key, once the work commences, is to remain immersed in the process, which requires me to “receive” rather than to dictate, seeking internal guidance without surrendering to the temptation to “edit”. And only when the subject has developed enough to contain substance and to speak for itself do I attempt aiding in the work’s aesthetic movement, by refining composition. The process’s real promise, after all, lies in discovery; not for vainglorious purposes, but for the emotional connections established by the image’s own individual presence and for its meaning, which is created and shared through discourse (between the work, the artist, the audience, and that mysterious source within each of us that never sleeps).

Follow me on Instagram: @whoismichaeltorres, and on Facebook: @ Who is Michael Torres

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Silent Scream

When a creative dry-spell becomes a drought, I sometimes have to reach beyond the image to recover the fire. I sometimes have to delve into the clutter of a collective creative consciousness, into the minds of artists who inspire me, to find a flicker of my own creative light.

There, in uninhabited space, outside the boundaries of our supposed 10%, we are all relatives. And, as I navigate through clusters of coruscated thought, which appear like stars within a galaxy, it is often the whisper of a word, printed on quiet paper, that resonates. It is often a whisper… that rekindles the flame.

I hear you… You, whom I would also call myself. And I am moved.

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