Beyond Appearance

#461 “Aterwords” 25″ x 32″ Acrylic on canvas. February, 2016
#461 afterwords

I’ve put letters and numbers in my paintings since I started painting. Sometimes prominent, sometimes almost hidden. I tend to think about these things after I do them. I had no ‘reason’ or explanation for them, but it occurs to me now that they are–more than symbolically, because they ARE symbols– emblems of what we use in our attempts to understand our universe beyond appearance: language and mathematics–fragments of our woefully incomplete understanding of ourselves, of the universe we have come to inhabit–ever so briefly.

A portrait is a powerful untruth
We are not what we look like

Nothing is



#967 Can you See the Pattern Yet? or Remembering Chicago

25″ x 32″ Acrylic on Canvas.
I like to vary my work: theme, styles, color, and to avoid repetition–but I’ve become more comfortable with returning to variations on a few basic ideas. I think this may be necessary, if others are to understand what one is doing.
#967 Remembering Chicago.JPG
View more work at Saatchi Art, and on my web portfolio: ART BY WILLARD For photos on this blog, click MY ART on the right panel and scroll down.

Goby’s Journal…

Less than 48 hours ago, I was way depressed. Rapid cycling… but not close to manic… no euphoria. But super focused on where I’m going with my art.
4 new paintings in 2 days.
I want to go over all my work–tag what belongs–marke the rest for paint-overs, give aways, super cheap sales.
Keep some marginal works–close to the path, if heading in the wrong direction.
Regret that there are pieces I gave away or trashed–that in retrospect, I see belonged.
Took me almost 7 years–but I know where I’m going now, what I want to do. 34 short of #1000…. this is gonna be a run!

Major trash/giveaway/cheap art sale coming up! And if you bought something along these lines for “Gallery prices”… let me know, and I’ll send you a couple of these free!

Nothing lasts but change


For generations, artists in the Euro-American traditions, like ancient Greek heroes, accepted the idea of posterity–the hope for an enduring place in history and myth, that they, and their work, might defy mutability–hope for a kind secular immortality; artists and poets might die, but art and poetry was forever.   On the brink of collective human suicide–and even if we should survive our human-made catastrophes, it will be but for a blink of the universal eye–who can believe in such a thing, now?

I’ve been thinking about this for some time. My work will never achieve an enduring status, and even if it did–what posterity…?  when, in a few generations, there will no humans left on the planet? And in the immensity of time, before the sun consumes the inner planets as a red giant, who can maintain the illusion of a lasting memory, of a lasting anything? What then, can take the place of that old fantasy–dead as the gods who belonged to that vanished world? What, but change itself? Like Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Seed. Rather than imagining, how works of art might endure, think of them in terms of what they do, as themselves, agents of change–which they are. As works of art and poetry have always been… done?

Lubricants to slide us another step into a future we can only know when we get there. The only past worth saving, is what will remain as we break the chains that bind us to it, the past that will survive, because it changes with us in a future we create together.


#133 Subpoena Dog

Stuff on the web is forever. I lost the files with most of the photos of work made before 2016. Typing up journal entries from our Wells Fargo trial, there was mention of a paining I did soon after: the broken nosed 3 foot (My Master’s Voice RCA dog that I used as a model at the Ox. I stuck torn up pieces of the subpoena’s from the trial to that piece, and called it Subpoena Dog. I gave it as a gift, so couldn’t take another photo of it… but when I Googled, Subpoena Dog Willard Art–there it was! #133, from March, 2013. 32×22, Acrylic on Masonite–the rough side.

Holidays …


Not doing stuff on holidays, even if you aren’t into, or in agreement with the point of the holiday, is isolating and strange.
I watched the championship match between Carlson and Fabiano.

I played on line chess. I finished a watercolor. I learned some new

ASL signs. I ate rice and beans and cornbread.

I talked to the cats.

Once upon a time, in a universe far far away, I ate with my family. We sang around the piano while my aunt played. It was a family occasion. Not about pilgrims and fake history

They’re all mostly dead.

Just another day, drained of whatever meaning it once had.
If it were a large jar, and I struck it, it would ring like a bell reverberating though the streets of an empty city.

The Necessary Transformation of Rage


Confronted with individual cruelty, acts of hatred, I respond with anger, rage– and justifiably so, I think. But, then, I have to remind myself, that rage is also a cover for fear–not a simple fear of that individual, but a soul destroying fear of how, evil (let me call it that), threatens to rob me of my trust–in everything! Other people, the world, life itself…isn’t that what makes it, ‘evil?’
I know that most people who do terrible things, are acting as part of something larger, that the Charles Mansons of the world–those who seem inexplicably evil, are rare. They are the stuff of literature, the Iagos, the Judge Holdens, and they are so threatening, because they seem to embody, as individuals–that sort of almost metaphysical evil, evil as a positive quality–not, as with most of the worst, as having something missing (I think of Kissenger, Pense, McConnel, an emptiness that is filled with the swill of the cultures of power and duplicity. That makes them no less worthy of our anger, but they are not manifestations of metaphysical evil, of demonic power that threatens the very possibility of humanly constructed meaning.
I’m telling myself this, because, though I don’t formulate the rage I feel in those terms–I find that too often, I respond as though it were so–thrown onto a Shakespearean stage, the imaginary evil reified in those who wield power–from the elite who make a show of command, the sycaphants who carry out their orders, to the soldiers and cops who defend them. A living nightmare.
A nightmare… of my own imagining. A nightmare that threatens to undo me.
If they were, evil, in themselves–it would not be imaginary, but they are not. They are, in their actions, if not in their being, if not in what is left of their souls, ciphers. Empty ciphers on the gameboards of history. They can take my life, the lives of those I love, make a ruin of the world–but they do so as players in those terrible games. Like the little plastic and metal pieces on the Monopoly board. Pushed by forces they only imagine they control, around and around, going nowhere, arriving no where. Thy have no Way. And they have no power over me–of what grounds me in my essential trust in the world, in the circle of those I love, in the human family to which I belong.
Be angry at what you see! I remind myself, but let me turn my energy to the forces that have made these failed humans do what they do, made them what they are, what they have become! Let me work to understand and name those forces, and stand with others in imagining, and creating a world that fills and nourishes our souls, our love for one another, and the good and terrible earth we must make into our home.

#916 Five Minutes to Midnight

36″ x 27″ Acrylic on canvas. Someone gave me a 32oz jar of Golden Cadmium Orange… that’s a lot of orange. Instead of the usual neutral underpainting, I took a palate knife and lathered the canvas with Gritty Orange… to see what I could do with it. This is what happened.

View more work at Saatchi Art, and on my web portfolio: ART BY WILLARD For photos on this blog, click MY ART on the right panel and scroll down.