Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trick or Treatment




Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My drawing lesson for kids who think they can't draw.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A few of my Paintings



When time allows, one of my favorite things is to put on some music pick up a brush and spend a few hours painting. The act of painting is the pay-off. The process is very satisfying. A while back i enjoyed a wonderful class taught by Tom Dowling. I learned a lot from him in that class. I realized that the gift is in the process. I'm grateful to be able to express myself creatively daily and in so many different mediums. Wether you consider yourself artistic or not, everyone should go out and buy a canvas, buy some basic colors and a brush and go crazy. It feels good to put color on canvas. It's kind of liberating. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thank you Home News and Boulder City News


The newspaper that hired me as graphic designer and editorial cartoonist has officially been discontinued. Another victim of the new economy. I really love that paper and all the people involved with its creation and distribution. All my best to Tim O'Callaghan and his wonderful family. Thanks for all you've done for me over the years. there is a very large hole in the Henderson, Nevada community. But the impact of the papers and the record it has kept will be evidence of it's importance to the growth of Henderson and Boulder City.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Elephant painting



This is a painting I did around 1985 I think. The quote below is what it says in the little rectangle under the image of the elephant. I always liked this painting. It’s currently hanging in my home. Funny how things stay with you. I’ve misplaced, given away or sold many of my older paintings. Wish I had the sense to keep better records of them.

There is a fine line between cute and ridiculous.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ebonics cartoon fiasco



This is an editorial cartoon I did for Rebel Yell newspaper from the University of Las Vegas Nevada back in 1997. It caused some trouble for what I see now as obvious reasons. The cartoon was trying to illustrate how in my opinion we don’t need to teach our teachers how to understand and speak ebonics to communicate to African American students. I had read a story that some schools were doing this. Needless to say the irony of the cartoon was lost on the students. I received many letters and phone calls at the paper, all pretty much the same. “Alex Raffi is a racist and an idiot.” The newspaper editor was very supportive. (You can see the editorial response to this cartoon here) And I did have the opportunity to explain the point of my cartoon to some of the angered readers personally. But still I really felt bad about it so I decided to ask for some advice from someone I respected very much. Berkley Breathed, creator of “Bloom County” & “Outland”. Amazingly he offered me his advice. I learned a lesson early on that doing this kind of work is a privilege. Yo better be clear on what you mean. I still believe in the point of the cartoon but I executed it very poorly as Mr Breathed explained in his letter. (You can see the letter by clicking here).




Here is the response cartoon and some of the letters I received from angry readers. Just found this in my old files and thought I would add it. (You can click on it to enlarge for easier read.)



I really felt bad about it so I decided to ask for some advice from someone I respected very much. Berkley Breathed, creator of “Bloom County” & “Outland”. Amazingly he offered me his advice. This is the letter bellow.

Poetry & Perspective



There is a poem I love by the great Pablo Neruda. I love it for a few reasons. It has an oceanic theme throughout that I appreciate. I have a deep love for the sea and always feel at peace when I’m near it. I love spending time in the poem. It helps me put things in perspective.

Enigmas - By Pablo Neruda Abridged

You ask me what the lobster is weaving there with
his golden feet?
I reply, the ocean knows this.

You say, what is the ascidia waiting for in its transparent
bell? What is it waiting for?
I tell you it is waiting for time, like you.

You ask me whom the Macrocystis alga hugs in its arms?
Study it, study it, at a certain hour, in a certain sea I know.

You question me about the wicked tusk of the narwhal,
and I reply by describing how the sea unicorn with the harpoon in it dies.

I want to tell you the ocean knows this,
that life
in its jewel boxes
is endless as the sand, impossible to count,
pure,
and among the blood-colored grapes time has made the
petal hard and shiny, filled the jellyfish with light, untied its knot,
letting its musical threads fall from a horn of plenty
made of infinite mother-of-pearl.

I am nothing but the empty net that has gone on ahead
of human eyes, dead in those darknesses,
of fingers accustomed to the triangle, longitudes
on the timid globe of an orange.

I was like you, investigating the endless star,
and in my net, during the night, I woke up naked,
the only thing caught, a fish trapped inside the wind.


Art that is done well should always be open to interpretation so I would like to take a moment and tell you what this poem means to me.

We are all inquisitive by nature, some more than others, but we all posses a general curiosity about life, the universe and everything. This poem is a discussion that takes place in a dream. It describes an abstract conversation between man and his perceptions. Neruda uses abstract thoughts to represent something deeper than the literal meaning. Taking a moment to consider the non-obvious nature of the world is difficult at times. You need to open yourself up and look at the world in a pragmatic way. I find comfort in the fact that the scope of our understanding of life is in no way diminished by our total lack of understanding of it. We need to first know what to ask. At times it seems we give ourselves so much credit for answering the wrong questions.

Neruda takes you to the beginning and attempts to help the reader realize that the answer to every question lies within our own perceptions. They are not shared as truths universally. And with that understanding, at least for me, it helped me to appreciate what I have and what inspires me to try to act accordingly.

Neruda suggests in his poem that the reader has asked a question.

“You ask me what the lobster is weaving there with his golden feet? I reply, the ocean knows this.”

Our unrealized perceptions find it quaint that we are curious. The answer given is a call to action. The search for the answer becomes the solution to the question.

“You question me about the wicked tusk of the narwhal, and I reply by describing to you how the sea unicorn with the harpoon in it dies.”

The narwal is an odd looking whale with a tusk that protrudes from its mouth. An animal feared and once thought to be a monster. The creature is used to describe how we make snap judgment. The answer is relative to the asker. People live within their own values and morals. In my view that is what Neruda touches on with this verse. We are all slaves to our experiences. A person who lives a peaceful life is affected by cruelty differently than a person who had never known a life without cruelty. It’s natural to see how difficult it is to make judgments on choices or what is right and wrong when the fact that all of us are so tightly wound in our experiences and fears that it makes highly improbable that any of us will ever see things the same. I have always felt that understanding people instead of vilifying them for believing differently is instrumental in the evolution of humanity.

“I want to tell you that the ocean knows this, that life in its jewel boxes is endless as the sand, impossible to count, pure, and among the blood-colored grapes time has made the petal hard and shiny, filled the jellyfish with light, untied its knot, letting its musical threads fall from a horn of plenty made of infinite mother-of-pearl.”

He starts these verses with “I want to tell you...” There is so much to be excited about in the discovery. I think here he is speaking of the need for fluidity with ideas. Time can shift mountains, heal wounds, build forests and ruin great empires, I’m pretty sure it has the ability to change an opinion or two. Life is ever changing and evolving. We may as well enjoy the ride and follow suit.

“I am nothing but the empty net that has gone on ahead of human eyes, dead in those darknesses, of fingers accustomed to the triangle, longitudes on the timid globe of an orange.”

Again the idea that we live in our own perceptions is humbling. We capture information and hold it from whatever place we are dwelling. The only thing we have to temper and form that information is our experiences and familiarities – things that are comfortable and safe, not necessarily the truth.

“I was like you, investigating the endless star, and in my net, during the night, I woke up naked, the only thing caught, a fish trapped inside the wind.”

I love this metaphor. We are always casting our nets out hoping to capture wisdom. We try to unlock the world’s mysteries, but at the end of the day we discover that the answers we capture in that net are just our own core beliefs and perceptions molded from our experiences and motivations. We judge the answers and only keep the acceptable parts that are comfortable to our existence.

Perception is everything. But being a little more thoughtful about our own perceptions might lend a bit of wisdom we never expected to find. The trick is to keeping fishing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Study for a new painting on apathy.


This is a sketched out study for a large format painting on apathy. The visual came to me many years ago during a creative art class.

My children's book


I've been working on this book so long now. I need to finish it. I'm ready to get it done and start working on it full boar and then my ADD kicks in and I stop. I'll get it done this year. I have to. I promised my daughter.

Monday, October 12, 2009