My Teeth Overhear Their Fate From The Periodontist


Acrylic on canvas, 20 X 16

I guess teeth have ears. They should have brains enough to know I can’t afford to lose them. Boys, don’t worry. I will go for the deep cleaning, gargle with salt water 3X daily, and apply a paste of garlic and milk along my gum line. Yes I admit, I made a painting to remember you by, just in case my ship comes in.


A week of painting without words, January 9-16, 2015

Now, about that ship…

I am looking for advice from other producers of original material. How do you convert your works to currency? I am in earnest. The Internet has not helped, neither has peddling colored canvases and books in my neighborhood. I have had many solo shows, lawn sales, Internet posts. Nothing. Nada times nothing. For instance, last year I published a book that even my—wait… Not true. My mother did buy it. But she was the only one.

It’s not like I overprice my work. $14 for a book is not exorbitant. Last night I paid that much for red curry. And it’s already gone. Geeze, I didn’t even like it enough to keep it. Couldn’t tell you if there was basil in it or not. And it’s not like I had to have the curry because it’s food, and need it to stay alive. A foraged apple would have sufficed. Or I could have refrained from dinner, saved gaining a half pound, and awoke this morning able to button my jeans.

I have theories about this starving artist dilemma. Many spring from the field of social psychology. Here is one:

None of us are any good until many of us say that some of us are.

Each failed writer or painter needs, more than talent, a promoter with Biblical outreach. If Beyoncé (accent on the e) wore the teeth image above to don her Super Bowl outfit, I would be rich and known richly by morning. Target would call for a wall hanging product line, and the New York Times would best seller me. If Oprah got caught reading less trite and inane crap, maybe some of you talented writers could afford rent as well as dinner, and miraculously the Media-CIA Industrial Complex would suffer sinking ratings of its perpetually popular “Let’s Dumb Down America”.

All fine literature, music, and art is relegated to obscurity if not considered salable by a connected media entity. Here is a rejection from a book publisher I received a couple weeks ago, followed by a quote from Henry Miller who wrote meaningful desk chair philosophy at a time when art was the artist, and not bullhorn announcements from highrise promoters about the “state of the art money”.

You do seem passionate and, as you wrote, “determined,” so I’m sure this won’t stop you at all from continuing your search for a publisher. I would like to suggest you consider self-publishing this manuscript. Just from reading the first sample parts you sent me I can tell you it’s going to be a very difficult sell to any indie press. Forget about even going to the majors via a literary agent. It occupies too much headspace, in my opinion, and while that’s not a bad thing at all for some readers who enjoy that sort of thing, commercially this would be extremely difficult to convince anyone to spend any money on reading your words. Even if you have some clout due to your painting, it is pretty thick stuff to get into and stay into. I don’t mean this to sound mean at all. I just feel that this is the kind of book that may have a life as a self-published work. Save yourself the time and trouble of querying anyone else and publish it yourself, then I would suggest perhaps focus more on the marketing end of the book rather than getting one of us snobby publishers to approve it lol. I hope you’ll agree.

A nice, honest rejection. I agree with him. I prefer to self-publish. But to make me a marketer of my own work is like asking a corn farmer to peddle boil-in-a-bag on the street corner. Doomed to failure before the manure is spread.

My reply:

Thank you for a fast response and helpful criticism. Self publishing is the right way to go. Whitman peddled “Leaves of Grass” door-to-door, and look where that got him! No one then (or today) would publish Whitman’s work to make a living. For me, it has become some personal badge of honor to be an unread writer. Like threshing wheat over a storm water grate. Very nothing, and yet some thing very good too.
Just doesn’t pay the bills.


Here is Henry Miller:

Most of the young men of talent whom I have met in this country give one the impression of being somewhat demented. Why shouldn’t they?  They are living amidst spiritual gorillas, living with food and drink maniacs, success mongers, gadget innovators, publicity hounds. God, if I were a young man today, if I were faced with a world such as we have created, I would blow my brains out. Or, perhaps like Socrates, I would walk into the market place and spill my seed on the ground. I would certainly never think to write a book or paint a picture or compose a piece of music. For whom? Who beside a handful of desperate souls can recognize a work of art? What can you do with yourself if your life is dedicated to beauty? Do you want to face the prospect of spending the rest of your life in a straight-jacket?

I suggest all writers to read Miller, as Miller wanted to be read. Read me first. He’d dead. And I could use an art-paid-for loaf of bread.

Here it is! The great book:






  1. Outside of friends and family I don’t think I’ve made one penny off of art. Meanwhile I’ve spent money on my blog, the place where I make prints available, materials, programs, contests (even ones in which I was among those selected didn’t turn into a single sale) and much more money in not working in order to make art. Not only that, art is hard. Really hard. But I’ve got a few pieces in progress that I’m rather happy with, and keep hoping to knock one out that captures the world’s attention, which is supposed to be impossible to begin with according to convoluted art theory which boldly states that originality is dead. It’s a real challenge. What is needed more than talent and perseverence and whatnot, are the right connections, money, and a bit of luck. A friend just introduced me to a really good artist I’ve never heard of, Irving Norman, and who doesn’t even have an entry in Wikipedia, even though he’s had shows and died in ’86:

    Basically, the guy’s art just didn’t coincide with what was fashionable, and what was fashionable was labeled “radical” and was championed by the CIA.

    As you rightly stated, IMO, you need to be promoted before people will appreciate your work. If something of mine is showcased, say gets a “daily deviation” on Deviantart, all of a sudden everyone loves it. The one blog post that made it on “Freshly Pressed” early on (it’s a trick to hook new bloggers) got far more feedback than anything I’ve written since (even though other posts have more views). If people in authority say it’s good, that’s enough to convince a lot of people. These days, in which art appreciation has a lot to do with faith, and can be purely subjective, context provided by the art institution is needed. I’ve always thought that the art needs to speak for itself, but now I realize you need to kiss up to the right people who can promote you, and you need to make work in accordance with contemporary fashion and paradigms.

    I’ll stick to trying to make something intrinsically worthwhile.

  2. Me too.
    And no kidding, I have a long way to go to satisfy myself. The hardest part is conquering private opinion. If I had already arrived, I would care less if my wife supported me or not. I would know value “intrinsically”. I do not. The paintings in this post were made while listening to Neil Young’s 1994 album “Sleeps With Angels”. I would never have heard of Neil Young if no one thought they could make money with Neil Young, Inc. In the end, Neil has to like what Neil makes. It’s just a lot easier for him to succeed in the head because fifty years ago, promoter(s), followed by thousands of people, pressed him with incredible encouragement. He was literally fueled by this. Without it, eventually, he would have to become something other than world-famous rock star. Continued creativity would be very hard pressed without the accolades from others, (and the always flowing money river of course). Our culture (probably all contemporary cultures) judge success by measures directly opposing those heard in Neil Young’s music. Love and dreaming. Basically, only the rock stars of any medium are able to sell love and dreaming, right? And who makes rock stars?
    I think I’ll write another begging letter to David Geffen.
    These frequent shout-out “whys” only help if they get an answer or similar frustration. Thanks for taking the time to write.

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