Little More

Posted in Art, Poetry, Thoughts about art with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2014 by brentharrisfineart
SAD ~ Seasonal Acknowledgement Display  7" x 10" ~ $280.00

SAD ~ Seasonal Acknowledgement Display

To grow, art can make a wonderful start
When it comes straight from your heart
When only from your head it’s for a mart
Then, I’d think it is little more than a fart

It will be noticed, so loud and so brash
Despite the smell, it should bring cash
Its sound and fury, disappear in a flash
The smell will linger like rotting trash

Can we know in the straight and narrow
Will we understand deep in our marrow
Will we never know from birth to barrow
Will we never get it to our eternal sorrow


ArtQuench Gallery Shares News!

Posted in Art, Show Announcement with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2014 by brentharrisfineart

(reposted from

ArtQuench Gallery Shares News!

April 28, 2014 by ArtQuench Leave a Comment

ArtQuench Gallery Resident Artist 

Brent Harris Exhibits at

Arc Gallery in San Francisco, CA.

Opening Reception May 3, 2014 7 – 9 pm

This show runs through Sat. June 21, 2014

Nothing but the Whistle and the Steam

Nothing but the Whistle and the Steam

“Like a Tom Waits Song” National Juried Exhibition

Arc Gallery said: “We received many submissions nationally and the juror,” Andrea Schwartz, “had a challenging time narrowing her choices among the many competitive submissions.”

Andrea Schwartz of Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco, CA, said: “The limit of 28 works of art for the gallery show was not an easy task…”

Step right up! With a handful of glitter and a roaring blast through a dented megaphone, Arc Gallery announces a call for art based on the inherently visual musical world of Mr. Tom Waits.   “Like a Tom Waits Song” will shine a bright dingy yellow spotlight on artwork in all media and all genres, from figurative crooked scarecrows wearing black bowler hats, to narrative environments inhabited by surreal Waitsian characters, to the abstract, the conceptual, the absurd and the down-right bizarre and everything in-between.

Waits has said,  “Songs are really just very interesting things to be doing with the air.”  The atmosphere he has created over the years is a dense tapestry of visual images and narratives that create a palpable mood and feeling about the mysterious places that we call home and the places we are going and what we have seen.

It is often said that an image is worth a thousand words.  But somehow, Tom Waits with his lyrics, utilizing only a few dozen words, conjures up intense images in our imagination that visual artists are hard pressed to match.  On top of his words, he layers familiar and strange sounds and melodies that complete the images that penetrate our minds and hearts.

JUROR: Andrea Schwartz of Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco, CA
Andrea Schwartz graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1977. Her background as an artist has assisted in her understanding of the perspectives and idiosyncrasies of the art world. For over twenty-five years the Andrea Schwartz Gallery has supported work that is challenging and at the forefront of contemporary practice, representing a select group of mid-career artists from the Bay Area and throughout the country. The range of work includes paintings, works on paper, photography and sculpture.  See:

May 3, 2014 – June 21, 2014

“Like a Tom Waits Song” OPENING RECEPTION
Saturday, May 3rd 7-9PM

Saturday, June 21st, 12 NOON -2PM


Like a Tom Waits Song

Posted in Art, Show Announcement with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2014 by brentharrisfineart

Please join me
and a select group
of other fine artists


“Like a Tom Waits Song” Arc Gallery, 1246 Folsom Street, San Francisco

Opening Reception ~ Saturday, May 3rd, 7-9 PM

~~~    ~~~
This show runs through

Saturday, June 21st


I am proud to be included in the gallery show and look forward to seeing you at the opening reception. If you are unable to attend, please don’t miss this show, and check out the other fine artists in the on-line gallery during this same time.

Arc Gallery said: “We received many submissions nationally and the juror,” Andrea Schwartz, “had a challenging time narrowing her choices among the many competitive submissions.” Andrea Schwartz of Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco, CA, said: “The limit of 28 works of art for the gallery show was not an easy task…”

Nothing but the Whistle and the Steam ~ 18" x 24" ~ Oil

Nothing but the Whistle and the Steam

An Artist’s Journey

Posted in Laughter, Poetry, Thoughts about art with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2014 by brentharrisfineart
Road Less Travelled

Road Less Travelled

An Artist’s Journey

Fears, Worries, Thoughts, Hopes and Prayers

Oh, if I could somehow dream, imagine, see
A way to choose to overcome my mediocrity
Habits of making do, settling, learned young
Hang ups found in therapy Freud or Carl Jung

Tend well my heart-seed reaching for the sun
Yet, its flower may not bloom before I’m done
I must forget my fear, question what it’s about
What do I gain, lose, if I listen to them shout

Trust my heart to guide, dig deep and be true
No surety of how it will affect me, affect you
My ideas, art, life may molder, to be forgotten
Soon tossed into the dumpster, spoiled, rotten

Perhaps on some earth, distant in space, time
Everyone so amazed, thinks my work sublime
None of this can be my worry, give me pause
My spirit expands when I but try, just because

If I’m a hack, a poseur, I will never ever know
I might simply disappear in nuclear afterglow
Courage, my soul’s heart beats furiously now
Image and words come through me as I allow

I simply cannot worry if I oft feel lost, alone
But relax, let life turn over every single stone
And discover whatever I have always sought
It grows within, whether it’s found or it’s not

Chances are, I may not find, accept my quest
Life’s an adventure, I must bring my very best
Home port may be where I will start and stop
Yet I’m still on board if I only wield the mop

I will make mistakes which will make me cry
I will also witness all the glory, fire in the sky
Spend all my life asking questions, what, how
Acknowledge the inevitable, gracefully bow

What the Future Thinks

Posted in Poetry, Thoughts about art with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2014 by brentharrisfineart
About Face

About Face

If I wanted to talk to you about art
Where do you think I should I start
Cave paintings, beads, metal jewelry
Art inspired by the hunt or life at sea

Where do I think I draw my influences
Could I explain, give cogent defenses
Da Vinci, the Renaissance top my list
That’s what I like, I’d say, if you insist

Just recently, I learned that I could draw
You would concur, if my tries you saw
Yet, somehow, my life led to here, now
Sometimes, I still have to wonder how

We urge our destiny to come and soon
Still, we fear we’ll never to hear its tune
To ignore it when it comes, a true crime
It’s never too early, late, always on time

It only matters if you are ready to dance
No fear, always worth taking the chance
Clichéd but true, not the goal, the journey
At end, we’re all wheeled out on a gurney

What’s my motivation; it’s that I’m alive
My passion to create; while I can, I’ll strive
Sure I hope to sell; I hope to do quite well
As for what the future thinks, time will tell

Money Matters

Posted in Laughter, Poetry, Thoughts about art with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2014 by brentharrisfineart


I have played my part
I’ve made some fine art
One sale would be a start
Here’s my shopping cart

You have got the dosh
Your place looks posh
It takes money to nosh
I’d be grateful, by gosh

My art to grace your home
Requires such a little sum
I’d pay my rent, not roam
The end of my brief poem


Posted in Thoughts about art with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2013 by brentharrisfineart
Eggs Leonardo, Scrambled

Eggs Leonardo, Scrambled


masterpiece n. 1. A person’s greatest piece of work, as in art. 2. Anything done with masterly skill.

I believe most if not all people understand what is meant by the word masterpiece. Though our definitions may vary, we all have an idea of what we think it means. In the west, we associate it with artists, composers, filmmakers, sculptors and the like. Sometimes we use it to convey high praise. That cake is a masterpiece. Sometimes we apply it to every painting an artist ever produced. That works for definition 2, but not for definition 1.

We use it, but don’t usually break it into its constituent parts, master and piece.  It implies a level of skill, as an artist, craftsperson or other profession which acquires advanced expertise. Here is where the pieces become important. In a very real sense, it can be thought of as mastering all the tools, the pieces you will need to achieve your ultimate goal. These pieces do not even need to be isolated to the specific mastery you are trying to acquire, though they do need to be germane. Being well-rounded, having knowledge of a number of disparate but related subjects and abilities, allows someone to combine this learning into a sum greater the whole.

I decided to explore this topic further when a friend asked how I had advanced so quickly after I started oil painting. While in no way claiming to be a master, as my friend put it, I went from 0 to 90 in nothing flat. I’ve only been painting since late 2008, early 2009, but I’m been accepting in a gallery, chosen in shows judged by professionals and I have received accolades, honorable mentions, special recognition, been a finalist, placed and won in these juried shows. ( “SUMMER” 2013 International Juried  Art Competition)

 Instruction helped, though only a few night classes, but nowhere near the rigors of a classical Academy or Master’s workshop. However, I had pursued and did pursue other creative disciplines, during and after a long career in graphic arts. Though only a production manager, making sure the work was completed correctly and on time, I was surrounded by created art, color and design. I applied this knowledge with and through crafting, quilting, writing and other pursuits.

Semi-private classes specifically to study colored pencil art creation reinforced what I knew about color mixing and blending learned on the job. This knowledge could be applied directly to oil painting. Life itself had taught me patience. A competitive father taught me persistence, durability and the ability to, day after day, start or return to a task which can’t be completed quickly.

The more recent channels of communication, computer programs which can assist us in our pursuit, and various social media have changed not only how we make and view art, but also how we share it and present it to hopefully gain recognition and appreciation. We can now take a multitude of digital images, whether we print them or not. We can manipulate them; use them as a semi-accurate view or views to paint our subject with either paint or pixels. In short order, many more people will be able to print three-dimensional art as well.

My age sometimes makes it difficult to navigate the vast webscape and sophisticated programs available to me. I often stay on the broad avenues with which I am already familiar. There is so much to see and learn and appreciate that I’m trying to remove my blinders. Everything I can see or hear or learn will add one more bit to the knowledge I need to live a masterly life, perhaps the ultimate masterpiece. And it certainly cannot hurt my art or writing.

I want to take in as much as possible, including former paths which are now thoroughfares, and new paths into uncharted territory. There are so many opportunities along the way. Wish me luck.

Previously or concurrently published on The Pen’s Might.

Thoughts About Winning

Posted in Thoughts about art with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2013 by brentharrisfineart
A grass green frame with square Iris insets at the corners surrounds a garden of Irises which sit before Penobscot Bay. Can you find the ladybug?

Irises with Ladybug

Everyone I know likes to win, games, contests, lotteries or almost anything. Winning makes us believe the universe or the (G)god or gods we believe in have noticed us. More, not only have they noticed us, they approve. I’ve never quite grasped the concept that some supreme being, responsible for the entire universe, spared much thought for me, but there you have it.

For me, winning money or prizes is great for the surprise factor alone. Day to day existence may seem, at times, repetitive and unchanging. Surprise helps us stay focused. However, winning because of something I’ve thought, done or created makes me feel proud and happy. As an artist and writer, it makes me feel validated. And this may be something as simple as someone following your blog.

But what does this mean in a world of media proliferation and instant access? Initially, it is all of the above, joy, surprise, validation, a good feeling. As an artist or other creative individual, it provides credibility. Early days for me, since I started painting and other art later in life, it provided credibility. When and if I have my art accepted into juried shows, in a physical or online gallery, it says to me that I do have some business pursuing art.

Long ago, artists needed a rich patron, a king, doge, or pope perhaps. As long as he, or very occasionally she, kept this benefactor happy, they had a place to live, a studio, models, food, wine and access to other important people and the consequent dalliances and intrigues. If they fell out of favor, they needed to load their equipment, supplies and other worldly goods and make haste elsewhere, sometimes in the dead of night.

Over time, as more people, prospered and made money and gained status, such as the Dutch at the time their traders owned the seaways. The middle class aspired to what had previously been only the privilege of the rich, art. The influx of money and the early Renaissance conspired to create a multitude of fine artists. Anyone who aspired to be respected and envied and emulated could not fail to have art in their home.

Wars, art theft, art destruction and hoarding forced collectors to rethink their view of art. Rich and powerful people became more civic minded. They became philanthropists. Whether this was a result or attempt to ignore how they had acquired their fortunes, to gain legitimacy, is not germane here. Some of these endowed museums and other public venues too provide art and culture to a wider audience.

This is all well and good, but where does that leave the vast majority of the artists alive today. There are living artists who have gained recognition and sales to the point that their product supports their pursuit. Often being dead will drive up the price of an artist’s work, but it hardly benefits the artist. Even many artists we now consider masters starved or depended on friends and family to keep body and soul together.

So, what does this all have to do with winning? For me, a two-pronged jolt brought me to consider this question. Combined with my mood, it seemed like a good topic to explore. I felt invisible, which I wrote about previously in Invisible Avatar (link), would be the short answer. However, I had on the ArtQuench summer contest and my blog, The Pen’s Might had been nominated for the ShineOn award by a blogger I follow, Taylor Eaton of Little Write Lies. (I’m still unclear in this case whether being nominated is the same as winning, but close enough). It would be one thing if I sought I would be the next great whoever or whatever. I simply wanted to be noticed. And I obviously have been noticed, some, so what’s my problem?

My logic runs like this. If you don’t keep getting noticed, you don’t get mentioned. If you don’t get mentioned, you can’t create a buzz. If you can’t create a buzz, your chance of selling artwork online is extremely limited. Therefore, you feel invisible and feel you will continue to feel invisible. Apparent, at least to me, is that what notice I’ve received has not created any comment, because I haven’t sold any art online. While selling is not mandatory, it’s a great deal better than a sharp poke in the eye. So I continue putting your creative nose to the proverbial grindstone.

Still, on our good days, we believe our art, writing, music or whatever creative endeavor, is good, important, original and worthy. On our bad days, we’re positive we’re hacks, poseurs, mountebanks and frauds whose creative output while be piled on the smelly garbage heap of history. We will continue to create. We have no choice, no matter how painful having our creative nose to the grindstone feels. Hopefully others will see the blood, sweat, tears and pain we invest in your art, our life, and it will transform them into fans, into customers.

If you truly have no talent (less likely) or continue to be unrecognized and unsuccessful, eventually, you will grind your creative proboscis away on the world’s obdurate grindstone. Once this happens, you can go blithely on your way, since you will no longer be able to smell the stink. And believe me, for those driven to create, this is a victory no matter how small. Still in all, to paraphrase something I heard about having money: I’ve won and I’ve lost. Winning’s better.

Previously posted on The Pen’s Might.

The Invisible Avatar

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2013 by brentharrisfineart
Invisible Avatar

Invisible Avatar

Hello? Can you hear me? Can you see me?

I hope you can because I fear I’ve become invisible. It’s not everywhere or all the time. It’s not at home or when I’m out in the world. In fact, it’s really only when I’m online. Strangely, I’ve been noticed more recently by strangers. I’ve been lauded and have followers. Why then do I feel like I’m missing in action?

Have you ever felt this way, invisible, I mean. I’m guessing we all have at some point. I believe this is not limited to creative types, but I believe it may happen to them more often and more intensely. Perhaps this happens when life feels challenging and full of obstacles, even when we are loved and cared for by others. Maybe this happens exactly when this is true. Or, it may happen for ten dozen other reasons.

In a society saturated with social media, instant communications and myriad ways to connect with people near and far, it seems we should never feel out of sight if we choose not to be. Many people, certainly many who did not grow up in the internet age, hope they are never noticed by the greater world. Their immediate community of family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances is enough and more than enough. And so it is.

Once you decide you want to be noticed, your tale changes. You’ve reached plot point one as screenwriters would say. Yet, there’s a difference between thinking you want to be noticed and that becoming a reality. For many years I only dreamed. This is a safe pastime, if frustrating and unfulfilling. I was smart and wanted to be creative when I was young, but it never seemed to play out the way I thought it should. A classmate would write a better story or have a nicer voice, or you might suffer the ignominy I did in junior high school. I took an art class where I was strongly urged not to pursue art as a career.

I continued to dream of being a writer, dashing off the occasional trite short story or weak verse. Eventually I actually got serious and began pursuing my writing in earnest. As to the form, I chose it rather than it choosing me. I think that was an unrealized problem from the beginning. I made a diligent attempt to become a screenwriter. I got a film degree, wrote a dozen or more scripts, got them out into the world and got them sent back. I eventually decided this was not going to happen and turned my back on this choice.

Along the way my creativity spilled out into quilting, crafting, Fimo clay figures and probably others I no longer remember. I learned how to create a website and have crafted several. The first were simple, naïve and hope-filled. As I’ve grown, so has my presentation. At least I think it has. I think my ideas were always good, but I had little success in attracting an audience. Therefore, I have only my own opinion by which to judge.

I’m sure I didn’t do enough, or the right things to get noticed. In the first few years of the internet I had no reason or desire to be noticed. Now as an artist and writer if I’m not noticed I’m just a voice crying in the wilderness. Plus, that makes it virtually impossible to sell any artwork. I’m finally old enough and wise enough to know I’m not likely to become famous or make my fortune through my artwork or the written word. Still, a sale now and then would certainly help my bottom line.

As I’ve grown older I’ve become more confident. Finding oil painting helped me in this regard. In my earlier creative endeavors, screenwriting, etc., I always qualified my creative output. I was studying, trying, working at, wanted to be whatever my current passion. I used this as a way to buffer failure and the judgment it implied. If you are in a tentative state you can avoid harsh criticism, at least in your own mind. Unlike my earlier creative “attempts” I own my art and finally my writing. I’m not thinking about or hoping to or any other of the words we use to buffer our insecure and fragile egos.

I am an artist. I am a writer. This means rejection of my work is not a rejection of me. No more creativity languishing in the back of drawers after a single foray into the world. After all, those former offerings were works-in-progress, still growing, still evolving, and more potential than product. Let’s face, no matter how creative or eloquent, or striking, in the modern world, it’s a product.

I’m sure many succumb to the weight of rejection, drowning in their own heart’s blood poured onto the page or canvas. No matter their medium, in the end they have no more to give. It’s not as if the back of my drawer in my case didn’t grow fuller for a long time, but this allowed me to continue to struggle, bloody but unbowed. I’m one of the lucky ones. I tricked myself into truly finishing one of my works in progress. It did not make me an instant success, overnight or otherwise; it allowed me to complete works, good, bad or indifferent.

Now that I have found my métier I don’t worry so much about rejection. This is not the same as feeling invisible. This is offering work to be judged by a gallery, a contest or some other venue. If my work doesn’t get chosen, well that’s just one person’s opinion. I’m sure it helps that I have been accepted into judged shows, in galleries and on-line, as well as two solo café shows. Not big news, but not nothing. I continue to create and offer my vision to the world, hoping I will find success and believing I will.

I do what I can to get noticed and to share myself, my unique perspective with any and all comers. I self-promote, shamelessly. I’ve revised my websites and created new ones as I’ve produced more and different kinds of art. For various reasons I’ve begun creating digital art and showing some of my photography. And I can finally share my voice, my writing, since I have found an appropriate form.

So, you say, what’s all this talk about feeling invisible? And maybe I’m finding out it’s not about anything. I’ve been a finalist, had honorable mentions, took a third place, an award of special recognition, and most recently won Art Quench Gallery “Summer” competition, which means I’ll have online representation for the coming year. All good, right?

Yes. That’s all good news. I think my feeling of invisibility comes from posts which appear on social media. After spending time, energy and passion creating art or writing an essay or poem, I put it on a site that posts to social media. Or I post it directly. Then it drops into a bottomless pit. At least that’s how it feels. If I’m lucky one person comments or likes what I’ve offered. Though often this is from a close friend, and my old insecurity makes me wonder if they are just being kind. Or it feels like some meta-social convention as in the ubiquitous “like” button. This seems like saying fine when someone asks how you are. It’s not meaningless, but it’s not much.

Since I’ve started following some of the bloggers who have followed me, I can barely keep up. Hell, let’s face it, I can’t keep up. So why should I expect others to keep up? I do. Fair? Not a chance, but it still feels awful to get no response. I think it would be like entering your child into a contest and not only does your child not win, it’s as if they do not even exist.

So, while I was feeling invisible, a blogger I follow, Taylor Eaton of LittleWriteLies (excellent work), presented me with the ShineOn award. Although this may not seem important, just a way for like-minded bloggers to connect, it made my day. In a world where social networks become our community, a group of mostly compatible people, no matter how thin the original connection, it feels as if your friends are ignoring you. Worse, it feels as if they are not even noticing you. So, where does that leave me? Right back where I started.

In my earlier creative life, I wanted people to not only notice my work and acknowledge me, I wanted them to pay me for it. Truly, I wanted them to pay me for it much more than I wanted to be recognized for my insight or excellence. That left me constantly unprepared for rejection. I never consciously admitted this, even to myself. Before, my family and friends were the only people to provide feedback and acceptance. Apathy and rejection came from people I didn’t know. Crazy as it sounds to me now, since the people I didn’t know had the money their opinion mattered more to me than that of my nearest and dearest. Now, as overwhelmed as everyone else you know, recognition comes from people you don’t really know and apathy from your online friends.

There’s no malice in this. I’m not even sure anymore that there is a “this”, just people trying to keep up with their lives. Fortunately, even though it took writing this essay to figure it out, I know whose opinions matter more. Just send me a buck once in a while; nobody should have to do this for free.

Previously Published on The Pen’s Might.

Light, A Distant Vista

Posted in Thoughts about art with tags , , , , , , on August 14, 2013 by brentharrisfineart


Responsible, preoccupied, needs, daily duties, urges to create
Atlas beneath my half sky inventing my truth in beauty before I’m late
Days fast-paced, so full of shoulds and musts to meet and answer
When so few seek either truth or beauty; they don’t pay the financier

Is shielding the candle flame from darkness worth the strain?
Will it fill the hole within my soul and make me whole again?
Who asks the question, who seeks the answer, why does it matter?
To be tiny unheard voices, canaries in a coal mine sing and chatter

Will others ever even notice, do I toot my horn enough, too much?
Should I turn away, the impracticallity of art a waste, a crutch?
Pain of creation, alone, brings hope and joy in equal measure
Am I allowed to court my own fulfillment, pleasure, treasure?

Surely the needful life, time and energy and love, given just for others
Should hold satisfaction more than enough, or do we fear it smothers?
Halfway home is halfway gone as we pace the long road, forth, back
Can those who feel no need to quest, search and express feel our lack?

Can anywith these needs, a gnawing hunger, do other than struggle, strive?
To express their truth, their beauty, their highest selves, to feel alive
So they must, they will, despite missing ears and rock-filled smocks
Joining, if by life allowed, or wandering lost, life filled with bolts and locks

Living part-time normal, whose standard, driven by forces, no choices
Sharing inner acres, demons, angels, visions, driven, hoping the world rejoices
How then resolve which meets the test, what is beauty, what is truth?
All rhetoric and nonsense which holds no meaning in our age or in our youth

When greed rules, the basest, noble thieves and villains at the top
Media-fed, proud ignorance, mob mentality too rabid, too violent to stop
Till blood runs bright, grim death invited to the feast, an honored guest
Blood darkening the robe of this fell specter upon an endless quest

Despite all, head down, humanity crawls on, humbled by staggering blows
Yet art, beauty truth, hope lift our eyes where light a distant vista shows