Monday, October 12, 2009

Southborough: A drama of families and the city. My latest creative endeavor

Who says an artist has to have just one outlet of creativity? I admit I haven't been doing much painting lately, but I have been filling my artistic time with a major creative endeavor. I have written a pilot for a soap opera! That's right, a dramatic serial. It was written years ago, but I came to a place where I said that I need to stop talking about it and just do it. So, I'm doing it.
We haven't started filming the story at this time, but we have created our first promo for the show by showing "portraits" of characters, short bits to give the viewer a hint some of the personalities of the show.
You can find out more about the show at my website
We are looking for donations to help make the show if you should be so inclined. There is a button on the website for that. I hope you enjoy what we've done so far. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Becoming Normal

Becoming normal; it’s like just waking up one day and realizing “I’m back to myself”. That’s honestly, how it is. You don’t feel the change as you’re going through it; it just happens and there you are – back to where you should be. I know normalcy is different for different people. For me, as much as I am outgoing and friendly, I am just the same, quiet and introspective. It’s about 50/50. My doctor, my therapy and my medicines have brought me back. I’m here, life is LIFE, and I’m home; back to normal.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Being on the other end of Mental Illness

A close friend of mine recently tried to commit suicide. I was the one who took him to the hospital. Although he did not injure himself very badly, it was imperative that he go to a place where he could be helped mentally as well as physically. As he was driven away in an ambulance I started to cry. It was at this point that the realization came to me about mental illness and its effect on loved ones. I was now on the other end of mental illness; one having to watch as this disease saps the sanity from a person’s mind and chronologically sets a course for its self destruction.

My helplessness was tangible. I could do nothing but watch as they drove off down the road trying to make myself feel better knowing that he was going to get help. MENTAL ILLNESS IS EVIL!

He’s home now and the combination of medicines, therapy and a lot of prayer are helping him to start from scratch in managing his situation. There is hope. I've learned that for myself and now him.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Hospitalization - Abandonment

One thing that has come up in my life regarding episodes leading to hospitalization is that of abandonment. I have the pleasure of having very close relatives and friends whom I can count on through thick and thin, yet acquaintances that couldn’t care less about my problems, bipolar or otherwise. I am sad to say that that statement was turned on its head, and that turn slapped me hard. I sat in that hospital under a cloud of despair, hanging on to anything that gave me hope; anything that I could grasp to prevent the yearning for the void of death from consuming me. I needed someone. I needed someone who loved me to tell me so – to come to me and tell me so and what I got was “I can’t come”, “I can’t bear to see you there with those people”. Talk about darkness! It was one time that I could say unselfishly that it was about me and I was handed a reason that was about them. These are people who I love and whom I thought loved me. It made my darkness even darker. The only ones I could count on were my parents and those in the hospital along with me. I was abandoned. Now I know how it feels. It makes me feel even worth less than the worthlessness I already feel. It makes me realize that all the “I love you”-s and “I’ll be there”-s perhaps don’t mean anything at all – or at least not as much as one had hoped.

“Look at it from their side” I tell myself. A mental hospital to them is straight-jackets, padded cells and people screaming and banging their heads on walls. What else are they to think, for that’s all they see and are shown. Television, radio, history in general has given us this vision. And they’re scared to see us in this environment, so they say – broken, literally at the end of our rope. I must say, it’s not like that! Not that it was a pleasant experience by any means, but it was for the circumstances of my being there and the things needed to help my mind become even; not for any of those perceptions.

Going forward, I do not know how this shall affect me. It cut deeply. It ripped a hole with a jagged edge; one which I can’t say can be mended. I will remember. How else can I protect myself? Which leads me back around to isolating. Conundrum.

So where’s the hope? I guess people aren’t perfect. And there is a saying about not throwing the baby out with the bath-water.

Friday, July 03, 2009

My Book

I've had alot of time on my hands; time to recoup, regroup and get myself better so that I can get moving with my life again. I feel almost embarrassed to be talking about depression again, but depression is morbid and that is the tunnel that I am working my way out of right now. I should not be up this late writing this right now, as I am disregarding one of the first rules of my recovery - to stay on a schedule and get enough sleep. My excuse is that I felt that I had to write something - that's it(Operative word here is Excuse). I understand that my manias heve been a bit more apparent the last few months (like Easter Sunday I decided in a split second that I was going to come home, pack my clothes and drive off to who knows where, forever). In that same manner I've decided that I'm going to make a book about me and my art. I've spent the last 2 days retrieving photographs. It started out to focus just on my posters, but I'd like to talk about myself and what I go through in this life that is so highly spiced with bipolar illness; something like I do in this blog already, but with a bit more detail. I suppose that someone may want a copy at some time, though that's not the reason I'm making it. I kinda want something "substantial"; something I can hold in my hands. I'll definitely make an announcement when its available.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hospitalization post #2: Restrictions

I was not very happy to be in the hospital. In fact, I was downright depressed over that fact alone. There were many restrictions. For one patients were not allowed to go outside, among other things. In this frustration I started to write my feelings. This was how I felt at the time:

Animal in a cage.
Impulses of rage.
Imbalance in the brain.
Depression, guilt and shame.
Branded like a cow.
Not nuts before till now.
Herding us around.
No straps or strings allowed.

It was rough those first few days. I must say though, that it has helped. Funny how no matter what I'm going through, I'm still creating in some way.

Interview during 3 Guys Art Exhibition

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Recent Hospitalization

Boy oh boy, alot happens in just a few week's time. My June 1st post spoke about my mixed state of mania and depression. Sometimes what is going on inside me is more apparent to others than it is to myself. In the June 1st post I mentioned that thoughts of death come upon me - first about other things and then on to myself. Well, that is a bad sign. Whenever those thoughts even have the inkling of starting, I'm already shifting in to a bad place. The bad place was apparent to my doctor and he quickly had me whisked away to a Behavioral Hospital, that's "mental institution" in plain language. This is where I've been the past two weeks. Its the second time in my life I have been hospitalized and I must say, I thought that I was long past the thought of ever needing to go there again. Its not a place where people are tied up in straight jackets and in padded rooms - at least that's not where I was. I don't have to go into all the details, but even though its not the greatest place to be, it has helped me and I feel much better now; much more like myself. How does this effect me as an artist? That's one of the main reasons I started this blog is to write about this darkness, this hell and how it relates to the joys of creating. In many, many artistic people, these two things are closely intertwined.

I had some freedom and although I could work with pencils no longer than 3", I was able to do some artwork.

This is a large bush that was right outside my window. I was inspired by it somehow. It reminded me of Moses and the Burning Bush. I think I may make a painting of that. Through the window when it rained, the bush looked as if its colors were running - melting almost. That image I will retain because I want to paint it as well.

There was free time and quite an array of "characters". Here there was a game of spades being played, but I thought I'd be cheeky and call it "Crazy Eights".

As a side note, It was so wonderful to see people come in so sad & dejected or angry and within a few days with medication, their spirits lifted. It was just a wonderful transformation.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

My Sketch Book Pages

My sketchbooks have always been pretty dear to me. They pretty much document all of my ideas at different times in my life. Its funny to look back through them and remember all of the crazy ideas I've come up with aver the years.

I have a ritual with my sketchbooks; that I will start by using the pages from the front, then I will turn the book upside down and over and start from the other end as well, meeting in the middle. I don't remember when I started this, but I've done it for years. I've also consisdered my sketch books to be kinda 'sacred territory'. I've had people offer me money to buy pages from them because they liked how much was going on in them, but to no avail. "Eeeekk! I would think. "That would be Sacriledge!" Its like cutting out a piece of history. They're my babies.
Anyway, I've changed my mind. I did a sketch of a fountain years ago which is where I met my "special someone" and I'm cutting it out and giving it as a gift. I must admit there's still a part of me that's cringing at the thought, but as a gift it's perfect.
Here's the sketch, plus another example of pages.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Young Thom Reaves: Master of Paper Dolls

Get ready for a trip down my Memory Lane. I have a collection of paper dolls that I made over a period of years when I was young. I guess I was about 9 or 10. I would sit in front of the TV and draw the characters I saw on what seems like reams and reams of paper. Then I'd go draw them on cardboard (usually the backing that my
grandmother got in her stockings packages), cut them out and play with them. For years they've been stored in a clear plastic bag until I got the bright idea of putting them into sleeves in a 3-ring binder. I've brought them as a display at my most recent art showing and people seemed really fascinated by them. I guess one of the things that they found so peculiar is that I drew the characters from the front as well as the back.
Those are really fond memories of me making them. They spanned years as I said, but also subject matter. I had many favorite TV shows and that's what I did alot of. The Flintstones, Bullwinkle and Rocky, Underdog, Dudley Do-right, Flash Gordon. About 1976 I bought my first comic book - then I was a superhero nut; The Justice League of America, The Legion of Superheroes (in those shown I was copying the style of a cartoonist called Hembeck. I loved it at the time. I also made dolls of Greek Mythology, Night time TV shows like Carter Country and Dallas. And get this, I even drew NEWSCASTERS. I've posting a few different kinds. If you'd like me to post more, give me a holla. T.

Simultaneous Mania & Depression and what to do about it.

What does an artist do in times of difficulty? One of the things is to trust that things will get better. I've been gradually going into a mixed state of Bipolar mania and depression; that's when both are going on in the body at the same time. Its signified by lack of concentration, agitation, risky behaviors and downright sadness. Its the first time I've experienced an episode in this way. Its been very difficult. Just when the skies are sunny, at a pin drop, the skies go cloudy and dark. To be honest, (which is why I'm keeping a blog in the first place) I must admit that my thoughts begin to gravitate towards the subject of death - the death of other things at first, but as the depression worsens those thoughts turn on me - by turning to me. THIS TIME, it I was drawn to writing Goodbye letters to my family. No, I didn't do it, but I went and got the help I need and am right now, happy to say, I'm getting through; lots of tears, but getting through.

At church today, the Pastor spoke about the Second Chapter of the book of The Acts of the Apostles. She talked about how the Spirit of God came as a mighty wind and the Apostles had no control over their agendas, because God brought them to where He wanted them to go. What they had to do was trust. The Pastor then said something that stuck out to me. She said (and I am paraphrasing) that when you are caught-up in the midst of your derailed plans, God is still in there and He will work things out. This struck a chord with me because during this current episode, I have been told by family members, therapists and good friends, that basically I need to do what I need to do to take care of myself. Not to just be upset that I have this illness, but really put the effort in to get ahold of it and TRUST that I've got One who is going to work it all out. So I guess that is the answer to the question of difficult times.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sketches and Portraits

Portraits have a definite possibility of being stressful to produce, but for the most part, I have had much success with them.

Maya Unique was the baby of a woman I'd met at one of my shows.

TrentAlaina & The Feige Resistance were both commissioned by one person. TrentAlaina was, once again, a play on the name of Trenton (The girl's name was Alaina).

The Feige Resistance was to be made in an Anime-style, because the recipients lived in Japan and the mother of the family's name was Anna May - so they wanted Anna May in Anime, Get it?

As for sketches, these two are for the coffee series I started with the two paintings Coeur and Carreau. The next two will be called Trefle: café de soirée and Pique: café de nuit. I am so not sure when I will do them, but these are the bones of 'em.

The Trento Mfg Co. Additional Works

I'll be doing a few posts of some older work, as I have been going through my computer files and found pieces I don't think I've previously posted. All of these are Trento pieces. Trentine Gum is actually the third painting I did when I first started painting. Sorry for the poor photo.

Sunday Hats was inspired by the ladies who attend Black Churches on Sundays who wear these big, spectacularly festooned bonnets. Its really an amazing thing to see. So git on over to church on Sunday. You may just come out with something even more special.

Can anyone guess who this is wearing the Trenti Lift shoes? I did a presentation for the children at the Chapin School in Princeton, NJ where I had a solo gallery show and I asked the kids who that was in the painting. They all yelled out the name. It was the coolest thing. When I ask adults however, they usually say they don't know.

Regarding TrentoMelon; I think I've made my position pretty apparent about people who feel the need to complain about something in my work, so I won't go into that again, but before I'm handed a deck of Race(ist) cards, I think its worth saying that this piece was commissioned by one of my galleries for an actor who was performing in a solo show. This image was loosely based on her advertisement for the play.

Trenta Femme Corsets was an homage to Cheret and Toulouse Lautrec. This was in the early stages of my painting and I was attempting to evoke the feel of their posters. To my own mind, I was not successful in accomplishing exactly what I wanted, but was a good effort and it still resulted in a good finished piece. I've thought of doing this one again - a bit differently next time tho.

I don't know what it is with me and all these French and French-sounding adverts - I don't even speak French! I suppose its just that the ones I am attracted to are the ones from France. Le Trenteau is one of the ones made to evoke a romantic (or is it romantique) feeling. This is another of my very early paintings.

Trentident Toothbrushes was made to compliment Trentident toothpaste (version #5) and Trentident Floss (which I haven't a photo of, but I'll get to taking at some point). They were commissioned by my dentist for his office. I guess you'd say that was corporate art right? A second one of this painting was also made for a couple to hang directly over their claw-foot tub at their home in their master-suite.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Yes, Its been WAY TOO LONG, but I have been working my dears. And here are the latest fruits of my labors. I finished it - CLUB YEAH! I posted the sketch of it awhile back - like at the beginning of my blog. It sat for about 2 years and then I needed it to be the centerpiece of a show, so I finally finished it. Biggest painting I've ever done and I'm pretty proud of it.

The IMA NYORKA Co. This is my latest company, and here are the 4 advertising paintings I've done for the express purpose of making prints. Yes, PRINTS! After all these years of being told that that is what I should do, I'm finally getting with the program.