Finished bulb

Here is an image of the finished and installed piece I made for Lighten Up Spartanburg, a public art project brought to life by the Spartanburg Art Museum. The bulb stands at a little over 6' tall, is located at 1802 Drayton Road, and will go up for auction in April of 2018. "Lighten Up Spartanburg is a large scale public art project that bolsters the cultural vitality of downtown Spartanburg, expands the local economy through tourism, provides opportunities to local and regional artists, and fosters connections between local businesses and the arts"(  It consists of 28 light bulbs by 36 regional artists. Each one is different, and they are finished in a variety of techniques. Guided by the museum's virtual tour and interactive map , visitors who want to find all of the bulbs are taken on a beautiful tour of the city that reacquaints them with everything Spartanburg was, and what it can be. It introduces 300 square feet of public art to downtown and the surrounding areas, and helps reach out to all facets of the community.

My piece, "Bender's Big 'Burg Bulb" was one of the last ones to be installed. In the spirit of the bulbs, I didn't build it alone, but had help from all the members of the community. After hearing my initial idea, the museum gave me a place to work (thank you for not making me haul it upstairs to my studio!) and set out a series of collection buckets throughout the city. We asked for small personal items, plastic toys, bobbles, throw away items people would have in their pockets, and more.  Before the day of construction I covered the form in wire and used a plaster stop to create the bulb's decorative swirl, then I coated the whole form with a concrete scratch coat an went off to find a suitable colorful stucco finish. This was no easy task, most homes are not bright colors, and it took several attempts before I could convince the stucco provider I really did want these hues. Colors this bright had not been made by them in the past, and the individual working with me had to call the specialists in Atlanta to see if they could find a color combination or formula that would create the vibrant hues I wanted. Luckily, they figured it out in time and I was able to pick the buckets of finish up on my way to the final installation.

I was worried we wouldn't get much of anything in the collection buckets, but the town delivered, and on the day of construction the museum had heaps upon heaps of colorful personal artifacts, and an army of adults and children willing to help me assemble the behemoth. I worked one color at a time, and as I laid on the stucco, people from the town pushed their small treasures into the surface, creating a colorful variation of the traditional pebble dash technique. Some items are pretty, some are scary, some are funny, and some have great personal meaning to the person that donated them. All-in-all, I think this is a great representation of the people in this area, we are all different, and weird, and crazy, and sometimes we don't make sense, but when we come together, we can create something beautiful.




Bender's Big Bulb Build

I had a great time working with the community to produce this bulb for the city of Spartanburg! It is concrete and colored stucco on a fiberglass frame, and all the objects stuck to the surface were donated by the community! It is currently located outside of Drayton Mills in downtown Spartanburg.


Back to work! Here is the beginning of a very long piece I am currently working on. I drove to 4 different counties to find my precious blue pens for this! I finally have a great set up for the studio, so expect more and more work up here.

Also, I'm expecting to have a few pieces in the upcoming Spartanburg Art Museum open house, and will perform a pen and ink demo/activity for visitors. It's coming up on September 5th, so drop on by if you are in the area!

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Fall Happenings

What a month! I am in the process of getting ready to take down the show at the TD Gallery, wrapping up drawing classes at the Spartanburg art museum and getting my students ready for the end of the semester at the college. Luckily I've still found time to work and the 5 foot pen and ink drawing I've been plugging away at sure looks promising. After an exhaustive search I finally found a model for it!  I'm halfway done with the first layer now and I will post an update in the upcoming week, but in the meantime, I should probably play with this very upset and bored studio cat.

Working Small

After finishing my first year teaching the city,  moving into a new apartment, and getting a new kitten named Gypsy Danger, things are finally winding down and allowing me to work again! Well, I've always been working, but now I'm back full throttle. I have been starting to work smaller and will be updating the site soon, so please be patient. In the meantime, I have included a work that did me well this last month, "A Foolish Sheep Makes the Wolf Her Confessor".

Thanks again for supporting my work!

Checking in

It has been a while since I have last posted, but fear not!  I have been working on drawing over 1,000 ears of corn for my next piece so I am, pardon the pun, up to my ears in it!  It has been slow going and the finished work seems as if it will be roughly 10 feet long and in three pieces! Wow!  I am really excited for this piece called (tentatively) "Rich Men Keep Their Souls Under the Covers of Their Cash Boxes"

Wish me luck! I better get back to work, but here is a snippit of one of the components I finished a few weeks ago.  Tell me if that little lady looks familiar.



I have been thinking about "Nests" lately.  It was serendipitous I suppose, cleaning out the garage and finding all those old images of songbird nests.  I didn't know what they were at first.  Then, among the dust and clutter, I began thinking about human nests, figurative human nests at least, and I began drawing  Nest, a try-out, one-off, proposal to myself regarding them.  So, without further ado, I bring you Nest , and I hope to bring you a few more as this thought progresses.


Showing this month

Hello once again from this crazy studio!!  I have been working, I swear!  The intricate, smaller works are coming along and should be ready to post in a few days. Exciting!  So, what else have I been doing you ask? Framing.  It's not easy to find a frame for a six foot drawing.   My work will be included this month in "A Fine Line: Contemporary Drawing" Exhibition at the Claypool-Young gallery at Morehead University in Kentucky.  It was juried in by the contemporary artist Anne Harris. 

I had never been to Kentucky before so what did I do?  I rented a van and carted the huge piece out there myself!  Beautiful state!   I loved it so much I'll be back to see the open exhibition and to hear Ms. Harris's talk on the 16th.  Nice drive too, those 775 miles flew by!  Here is a picture of the framed behemoth when it was sitting in the garage before I loaded it up.



City life

Well, I am back in the city and settled into the new office/ studio.  Things sure are noisy/busy here, but I am enjoying the well paved bike trails and amazing Vietnamese restaurants!  I will be working on some smaller pieces in the "This Proverbial Life" series soon, so look forward to those coming out hopefully before the end of the month.  Also, for those interested, some of my printed linocuts from the "Standard Deviations" series will be on display in the Chapel Hill public library in North Carolina until the end of September.      

City life is nice, and I'm just in time to enjoy the Fall festivals and cool city evenings before old man Winter swoops in. I'm also happy that I can go out at anytime of the day, or night, and not have to worry about any bear or coyote encounters  (although I am secretly starting to miss those crazy critters).  I could get used to it here.

New piece!

Here are images from the new piece I am working on.  That is all pen and ink too! I should be done in a week or two, but I just wanted to post the figure so far, she's coming out pretty well. :) 

Click on the image below to see them all

New Studio Space!

I plan to complete 18-20 large drawings this Summer, so to do that, I've found a new studio space located deep in these beautiful mountains in the bottom of a refurbished apple barn! The space is PERFECT  and owned by a local gallery that resides upstairs.   The landlord is nice, and the rent is very reasonable. This Summer should be very productive!  Artist's don't call them the "Magic" mountains for nothing. 


Meet this month's featured pic!

Introducing "Look Before You Leap, For Among Sweet Flowers Snakes Do Creep". Ink on cut paper, 48"x 50".  This is the first in a new series I'm working on! Excited? You bet I am.  It still has that new series smell and everything!

I have some exciting things planned for this series, even one where my poor, always reluctant, model, Mr. Bell, will be pictured with a head full of moths! They circle bright ideas I'm told... or they just ate his brain... Either way it should be entertaining!  Stay tuned! In the meantime, here is the original and a close-up view!

So I went to the drug store, and....

I’m really starting to like Paper Mate pens. I picked up a pack of 4 and a gold sharpie from the drug store and made this. The beginning of section 1 from the 9 part “Angels in America” piece. So far, this section is 2 1/2 feet long. Ah, I only have around 2 more hours to log into the "homes" piece, I'm hoping to finish it up  and have it as the monthly feature.  This little baby on the other hand might take awhile.  I'm making my own stamps for the bottom back ground texture.  I have a bad habit of working large.  When this whole piece is done I'm betting it will be around 5-6 feet long.  I think in the meantime I'm going to use some of my paperwork scraps in order to force me to do smaller things.  At least paper is light weight and stores easy!


And layers, and layers, and layers...

The progress with "Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?" from the "American Dystopia" series. I'd say only 8 hours or so left...I might change the name, but I love the art pun. Time to add a few more layers and resolve that right side before I hit it with the ol' bic pen again!  I've got plans for my gun stencil! Should be fun! Stay tuned!


Coming along!

The first in the "violence" series is coming along!  Maybe only 12 more hours to go!  I am going to save all the empty pen carcasses I end up with after this (maybe fashion them into little arrows to strengthen my studio's defenses).

A big thanks to my very handsome model! 


Never underestimate a ball point pen

Wow, so now that I am nearly out of a paperwork mire, I have taken fondly to working on paper! For those of you who know me, you know there is a twist, this time it is in the form of a jumbo sized pen and ink drawing! Yay!  Here is a pic of a work in progress from early on, let's just say I'll repost soon so you can see the layers on this thing.  It is about 4 feet and already slick with inky goodness. The pick shown is just from earlier today, and let's just say it has changed a lot already! This is the first hint of an upcoming series based on modern culture, violence and environment.  Enjoy!! And stay tuned!!


Setting up

Setting everything up for "Standard Deviations".  The day after this I have another opening a state over! When it rains it pours I guess.  I'm having a blast.