I may have been thinking too much lately.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while  know that I have been trying to find a visual way to express my ideas and feelings. When I began my blog, my mission was to talk about autism from a brother’s point of view, relate factual information about mental health, medical ethics and neuroscience. I copied from my journals and wrote about my memories from my growing up. I remembered the way I felt, until I visited my brother for the first time in years after moving away from where he lived. At that visit, with my younger brother and my mother, I felt the feelings I had written about during the past year. These were the darker feelings that individuals in constant contact with their impaired siblings must feel at some level every day.

I shifted my focus from trying to understand my brother’s mind, to working on a less cerebral level. The intellectual pursuit of an answer to my relationship with him had already been answered, and answered quite definitively on my last visit: there is no recognizable brotherly relationship. Perhaps if I had been in closer contact with him, I could have cultivated some kind of camaraderie, but I think not. Both my parents were constantly in his presence for the first 13 years of his life before he went to Willowbrook; I was for 10 years, and I had no inkling that he knew who any of us were.

My father, always thinking that Mike was improving, never gave up that thought. But Mike never did improve.

It is still difficult for me to acknowledge the truth. Since my ‘shift’ of focus at the beginning of December, I seem to continue to relapse to talking about Mike.


I had not intended to write about Mike in this post, but the above preamble is necessary for my discussion of simplification.

Blotches of color can tell a story – a personal story. But the color ‘red’ might have evoke a different feeling from me than from you. I think that in order to communicate a visual story I wish to convey, I must find another way.

I thought that creating some kind of iconography, in the same manner as Joan Miró, or Paul Klee, could be an answer. However this is the same as replacing the alphabet with different characters. To think and think about how to arrange icons is on the same order as writing.

So I’m trying to simplify.


Usually I begin more than one painting at a time. I use watercolor blocks, where the working surface is essentially glued down to the paper underneath. So I need to finish the top painting before starting the one on the next sheet. Depending on how many watercolor blocks I have, that is the number of paintings I have started.

The paper for painting below was prepared at the same time I did my ‘splatter’ painting. I cut out a silhouette of a full-face portrait and tacked it to the paper. I put the unfinished block aside until today, when I finished it. Upon removing the paper I tacked onto the block I tore the paper underneath, so I cut it out.

Watercolor with cutout December 28, 2013

Cutout 1
4″x6″ 140# Cold Press Watercolor paper

I changed the background from white to black.

Cutout 2 with Black Background

Cutout 2 with Black Background
4″x6″ 140# Cold Press Watercolor Paper

I superimposed the cutout onto the portrait whose silhouette I used to create the collage below.

Cutout with Black Background December 28, 2013

Cutout with Portrait
4″x6″ 140# Cold Press Watercolor Paper and Photograph

The pieces provoke entirely different feelings, with very little complexity.

I hope that I can continue to keep it simple, but there is also something to be said for a visual narrative. I will continue to experiment.


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