It seems like forever since I’ve made a real print. Except for the update to “Sometimes I'm Married” and some fooling around during my home-made artist’s residency, I think it’s been about three months since I finished the “Mixed Feelings” prints in the Loaded series. Not that I haven’t been thinking about what’s next. I've thought about it a lot. I’ve known that I want to try a new format, and I’m pretty sure that I know the topic, too.
Regarding format, I’ve been wanting to try making a book. But I’d have to charge a gajillion dollars for a hand-bound book made of woodblock prints, so that’s not going to work unless I can get a grant or something to do it. But then I thought I could make large enough editions of each print that some can be bound into a book (maybe a small number like between 5 and 8 books) and still plenty will be available to sell as individual prints. I’m thinking I’ll increase my edition size from the usual 8 to 10 to something more like 20. Then, in the end, I’ll also create a Blurb version of the book that can sell for more like $50-ish. So that’s the plan.
Then there’s the topic. I think this is what’s been holding me back so long. I’m a little afraid of my topic. Not that that’s bad, but it’s caused me to procrastinate.
There's an artist named Marshall Arisman who is very well known in American illustration. I don't actually like Arisman's work. It's way too dark for me. But I respect his long career and I once heard him speak some wisdom at an illustration conference. Arisman says that for work to be powerful and effective you have to make work about things you have actual knowledge of, whether it’s bowling or guns or dogs. He says you’ll always make better art when the subject matter is meaningful to you.
So I'm going to go for the subject matter that is the most meaningful to me: gays and god. I know a lot about both, having been raised in a Christian Protestant church, “born again” in adolescence, and rejected from that fundamentalist community when I came out as gay. Being mystical by nature, I spent many years exploring other kinds of spirituality and religion, studied a lot of eastern philosophies, and I've most recently returned to liberal Protestantism in a kind of reclaiming of my heritage. Which I view as a radical and political act as well as spiritual.
I’ll be telling the story more fully as the work progresses, but for now I’m ready to begin making the first image. I had thought of calling the series “Homos In Heaven” but my mother really hates that title and I do respect her opinion. We’ll see what evolves.