I recently spent a couple weeks at Hambidge Center near Rabun Gap, Georgia. It was my second art residency at Hambidge. The first residency was a couple years back at the tail end of winter. This year’s residency was just past the peak of fall colors at the end of autumn. Both visits required me to warm myself by sitting next to the glowing red propane heater. Both residencies were times of great solitude as well as almost limitless time to create.
For an artist with a busy creative mind, being left alone in a studio in the woods is wonderful gift. I had everything I needed to create while at Fisher Studio. I worked as many hours as I could, doing what I liked for as long as I liked during my 2 week (12 day) stay.
To walk away from the restraints of everyday living and domestic duties allows one to focus in an extreme way on their craft and art. You can work as much or as little. You are free to sit and think or to sit and do. Nature is all around and you can escape on trails and let the woods soothe your thoughts.
Four evenings a week we convened as a group to eat and discuss our time working at Hambidge. This led me down a creative path because I saw others working hard on their goals and listened as they discussed what they were called to do. I was inspired by their work – writing and sculpture.
A few years ago I did not know much about art residencies, or what they were for. I have learned now they are a valuable tool for folks such as myself. I look forward to another time when I can challenge myself to become a better artist by times of quiet contemplation in nature and the freedom to create in an environment solitude and beauty.
Recently I made some wooden bear heads to sell. I started off with a couple sheets of old plywood I had stored for a while in my barn. I cut them out and took the wood shapes to Hambidge Center in north Georgia. I then worked on them near Lake Lanier and then finished them back in Arabia Mountain U.S.A. I haven’t fully documented the process of making the bear heads so I set out to do so. I hope you enjoy watching.
A little while back I was asked if I would make some art for Monday Night Brewing. They were in the process of creating a new seasonal beer to be called All Y’all. I said sure. I like to say “Y’all” and i thought it seemed like a good plan. I took their neck tie template and added my touches to it. Months went by and they brewed up the beer and poured it into the cans.
This week Monday Night debuted the new beer and the new can art. We went to the brewery and helped celebrate the release. As part of the event, we had created a new silkscreen poster inspired by the can art. WhiteCatTips and I worked real hard to get it printed in time but we made it as the clock ticked midnight. I think they look really great.
We have a few remaining, go here to see buy one for yourself.
Thanks again to Jonathan and Monday Night Brewing for asking me to help you out. They sent me home with an armful of fancy cans. Thanks also to all those folks who came out to visit us and bought art. Much love to you.
It is funny the way things come and go. The way things flow from parts of your life to another. Busy times and slow times — people that don’t look your way and then other times when the world is glaring at you. I remember hearing the name Accenture. I knew it was a fancy consulting firm —way up in the sky offices helping out other big companies make more money and do better at their given tasks— but what does that even mean? It is funny how things roll back around.
I recently finished a new colorful mural for Accenture, to be featured in their new state-of-the-art Innovation Hub at Tech Square in midtown Atlanta. I loved painting where I had a grand view of west midtown and far beyond. We spotted a range of hills and with a little help from a map app figured out they were just our side of Rome, Georgia. I could see Kennesaw Mountain and all of downtown. I watched the weather ebb and flow, the rain come and go and the late summer breezes blow. I had lunch in a sack. I stored my coffee in a wrinkly cup behind some boxes in the corner. I rolled my red cart down the hall to the freight elevator.
I don’t know if I will ever go to the Accenture offices again, but I left enough fun and happiness to last a while with the new painting. Thanks to those who asked me to create art for you. Thanks to the guy who checked my ID every time I showed up to paint. I enjoyed the opportunity to push through my ideas and create new work for others.
I recently sat down with Blake Howard, owner of Matchstic, A branding house located in Atlanta , Georgia. Actually, I sat down with Blake twice. The first time was a wild goose chase. We looked for hidden keys and fumbled into a recording session in progress. We got attacked by a swarm of hostile mosquitos and tripped through kudzu. I saved a half-dead cicada from a spider web. We relocated and recorded in a back room of a big house used as some business folks’ office. I took him a sip of whiskey and we laughed as he asked me stories about my art career. The wooden chairs creaked.
The second meet up was because the first recording session was full of technical difficulties — chair creaks, sweating, allergic reactions. I might have dragged my feet a bit to re-record an interview with someone else, but I like Blake so I said I would do it. This go-round we met up at Constellations Co-Working Office off of Auburn Avenue in Atlanta. They have a professional recording studio so we sat down in the dimmed lighting and wood paneled walls. Blake brought me a whiskey this time. It was fancy. I didn’t get bit by bugs or start sweating.
We sat and talked and laughed and got way off track and had a fun time recording an interview once again. I had so much fun I think I would even do it a third time.
The podcast is called The Creative Rising. My interview session can be listened to here
or here on iTunes. It also can be found on Spotify.
Some people go to therapy to talk through their frustrations. I just do interviews.
My friend who lives high on Lookout Mountain above Chattanooga asked me to be part of her project called Excurricular.
She sent me a film camera and a journal and asked me to document whatever part of my life I wanted to — Something a little different than my normal art going-ons. I took photos of my plants and family and green grass here at home — Late summer hot times with a tiny camera full of film.
Please go to excurricular.com to see the whole dang shabang. Take a look at the photos and notes I made and all of the other artists as well. I like it.
I have a friend who is a good singer. Her name is Kristina Murray. She asked me almost one year ago at a friend’s party to make some art for her new album. I always thought record album artwork was something I wanted to do so I said, “Yes ma’am.”
I painted the art for Kristina in the spring after Baby Teddy was born and I recovered from the FLU. I took some photos of of the painting around my barn and out in the warm sunshine. I then sent ’em on up to Nashville and they took care of the rest.
Next thing you know, Southern Ambrosia is a real album and my paintings are on the inside. I knew the title was Southern Ambrosia so I kept thinking of the bowls of oranges and coconut I would see my grandma make around Christmas time — oranges and peaches and pinks in a big Tupperware bowl. I wanted to capture the essence of my memories in the album artwork — sprinkle in a few smiles like my grandma would with the shredded white coconut.
I saw Kristina play a show in Atlanta in October. I was really impressed and inspired. Her band sounded really smooth and authentic — an honest voice. I am happy to work with other artists who are listening to the creative voice inside their heads — who take note and listen for the Spirit of Inspiration. To create a collection of music and develop the concept of the album and then perform the songs for crowds is no small feat. Thank you Kristina for working hard on what you feel called to do.
I really like her new song Strong Blood. I like the line about the dog’s leg.
Take a listen here at the link below.
Pick up a vinyl record or CD with BlackCatTips art inside real soon and eat some peaches and oranges and coconut too.
Koozie is a funny word. Maybe it was invented by a woman named Sarah J. Koozenheimer. She must have really been into keeping things soft and cold.
My friend Ranger Robby had a party and I made him some art to go on his koozie for the event. They held the shindig at my other friend by the name of name of James Hotdog’s business Doggy Dogg in Decatur, Georgia. — ketchup and mustard and a cold cold drink. Maybe the koozie was working to keep things warm. It was a mighty cold night to sip on a cold drink.
A happy Up The Hill party to Robby and the best wishes to the late great Sarah J. Koozenheimer. Thanks for keeping us cold.
Some people have dreams they can connect with. Some people have dreams shortly before they awake. Some people have dreams in the early morning light. Some people never thought it through until it was too late.
Thanks to Weston and Caleb for taking an early morning ramble with me. It was a good start to the day.
They said I should show up early. I said, “oh good golly.” I got there before sun up and put on my hard hat— zipped up my neon yellow vest and packed up my brushes and ladder. I went and bought a coffee then I bumped into Todd. Todd is a good fella. He is the big boss at the NCR construction project. He watched out for me. He told them, ” to put DANGER red tape around my workspace because no one thinks twice about yellow CAUTION tape.” I found out yellow caution tape is so old school — so very normal. You need something more substantial these days. Don’t use yellow tape when you have a whole box of red tape. It worked pretty well until a couple of dusty dirty dingy doods came stumbling through. Oh well… Todd just shook his head. “What are we going to do Kyle?“, he asked me. I told him there were always some turkeys to watch out for. He agreed.
I painted this concrete beam in a hallway leading to the parking decks at Phase 2 of the NCR World Headquarters in midtown Atlanta. I painted both sides and all underneath. When I finished working I cleaned up the caution tape and all my supplies. I left the folks a happy message. Real Good To See You Again —- Hope You Have A Happy Time. Everyone needs a little bit of a smile before or after they hit the dusty trail. I stood there and looked at the smiles I painted one more time— then I grabbed my neon vest and walked out of the dusty parking deck. Bye Todd.
What is a BlackCatTips?
A BlackCatTips is a painter and muralist. A BlackCatTips is a poet and a thinker— a teller of tales. A BlackCatTips is Kyle Brooks, a street folk artist from way down in the American South.
In addition to his studio and mural work, Brooks creates street poems and whimsical roadside art installations. With his brush, bright colors and a few found materials, he paints the world happy.
Brooks lives in Arabia Mountain U.S.A., Georgia with his wife, new baby son and old dog. He also likes hot drinks, biscuit houses and growing orchids.