A Time At Hambidge (painting during the last grips of winter while in a mountain studio)

I was left alone on the side of a hill in a cabin called Fisher Studio. It was a cold two weeks with everything from some snow to a violent thunderstorm that split a tree into many woody spears due to a fiery ribbon of lightning. I loved my time at Hambidge — The sun on my bare feet as I ate my vegetable soup on the porch overlooking the property. I loved the mix of solitude and nature. I loved being able to focus on my work without knowing anyone would interrupt me. I also liked when we could convene for wonderful thoughtful meals and share our experiences with the other artists and writers currently living and creating at Hambidge. It is interesting how quickly a group can bond under the right circumstances and wonderful meals.

I worked mainly on set of paintings for an upcoming solo show at Spalding Nix Fine Art in Atlanta. I feel I was influenced by the Spirit of the Woods— The tree spirits and the unique dark shapes i kept encountering on my walks and in the nature I encountered. All of this made by God the Great Creator but highly mysterious and sometimes bizarre and not to be understood. I did not know exactly what direction my painted creations would take. I believe the woods and the night spirits of the hills spoke to me. Being around artists with other disciplines was very eye-opening as well.

I kept an animal and a bird list. I wrote about each day I was there and the weather around me in a little journal. I stared at the night sky. I was blinded by the darkness of the cold late starry night.

I wished I could have spent a month — which at the onset seemed like eternity.

I am thankful for all of the time I was able to devote to my art and the refreshing of my mind. I hope I will take that new energy and share it with others through my paintings.

– or –

I went to the woods. No one around. At night there was hardly a sound — other than the drip drip of dew on the tin roof. A couple times I thought it must be a bear or at least a raccoon at my door making noises. Nonesuch luck for me — but I did see 7 deer together lots of fresh work by beavers and an up close encounter with an otter.

At night it was dark and there were no lights to be seen. Zero light except for a lamp in my window. I stayed in a nice lit warm-feeling studio but thinking of all the others that stayed there and used the kitchen and the bathroom and slept in the bed and then expecting myself to paint things worthy of such a place.

I walked into North Carolina on a mountain ridge. I got lost and found my way (I don’t think you can ever really be lost) Go downhill, follow a creek, enjoy the nature around you, take a deep cold breath. I went downhill and found an old logging road and a new trail and an unmarked trail and a hollow tree and then I could see the road and soon I was exactly where I was trying to end up from the start.

I planned on not working for a few days. I just wanted to relax and read. But the first day I began painting. It made me happy. Then I would become unhappy with my work. Then later I might be happy again. Then I hid my paintings in the bedroom against the wall and worked on new ones. Don’t look at me.

I took a plastic Santa Claus and a rinky-dink string of Christmas lights to make me feel happy inside— strung them haphazzardly in the window.

Hambidge was a place to work, relax and show reverence. I reserve reverence for special places and things that have happened —Things in history that you are walking over an around on a later date — Civil War battlefields, lost graves, historical spots in old photos and all the important spots you never have heard of. Hambidge made me feel that way. I thought about how long before Mary Hambidge had bought the land, it had been many things. I hoped it had been an Native American camp, along Betty Creek. The beavers tried to tell me. Reverence.

So leave me alone to work and paint. Leave me alone with lost dead haunts. Leave me alone to do my thing. I’ll think and flounder and turn a ring. Leave me alone and I’ll paint it new. Ill make myself feel better— paint for me and you.

– or –

Between cars, down on my knees the hillbilly man a starin’ at me. Writing on the ground with people all around my black marker made a squeaky sound. I left Hambidge and headed home. I liked being by myself but tired of being alone. I miss you.

(Thanks to Mason for making this all happen. 2 +3+2-8=6)


Photo by Dayna Thacker

hambidge-cool-mountain-streams-blackcattips mid-march-snow-at-hambidge-center

Photo by Maria B.

tree-spirits-hambidge Hambidge-spring-house tree-spirits-blackcattips-kyle-brooks-hambidge-center Hambidge-jolly-horse-seamonster-and-billy-mcsmeet-blackcattips
Hambidge-betty-creek-beaver lightning-strike-tree
Hambidge-29 Hambidge-fisher-studio Hambidge-betty-creek-rabun-county

see you soon,
Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks

Posted in painting, travel essay | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Time At Hambidge (painting during the last grips of winter while in a mountain studio)

Meeting Good Folks (the magic tree)

I get to meet a lot of great and inspiring people doing what I do. For that I am thankful. Some of the most inspiring are folks who have made a business and a life out of nothing. I always am so intrigued by “how they have done it.”

Kevin Blackwell is one of those people. This weekend Kevin, who owns FrenchMill Studios, brought me some lumber from an old barn his family had torn down. I enjoyed talking to him. The property where his barn was located also has a small cemetery of about 20 burial graves. I thought that was real interesting.

I showed him around our new place and where I have been painting — Told him about some plans and ideas I have. When he left he took this photo of me and my Magic Tree. I waved bye. Then he saw a whole truckload of carpeted cat castles while riding up the interstate.

I hope you have a real Sunny Day.


see you soon,
Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks

Posted in inspiration, street folk | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Meeting Good Folks (the magic tree)

It Was Something Else (an interesting life)

It was something else. It was an interesting life. Secret Souls on a journey. They make all the music you have ever heard out of the same few notes. They painted all the pictures out of the same 3 colors mixed up in a bucket in many ways. Stir left then stir right. Magicians of normality. Wizards of the mundane. I try not to smash any bugs. I don’t really want to hurt anybody.



see you soon,
Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks

Posted in painting | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on It Was Something Else (an interesting life)

Pink and Red All Over (paper ghost valentine show)

Pink and Red and Warm all over.
Red and Warm and Pink all under.
Warm and Pink and Red in the middle.
I feel funny but just a tiny little.

There is a little Valentine’s Day themed show this Saturday at Paper Ghost Studio in Candler Park Atlanta. I made them some pink and red art and maybe it will make you warm inside.

The show is February 11, 6-10pm. 1393 McLendon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307.

Hope you can make it. (and eat a good dinner…we all need a good dinner.)

cameo kiss-kiss hubba-bubba



see you soon,
Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks

Posted in art | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pink and Red All Over (paper ghost valentine show)

Back In The Saddle (driving around the eastern suburbs)

A storm was moving in.  I did not know it, as the sky looked blue and it felt more like March or April than early February. I had been real low and confused about things over the past few days. My brain had flipped the switch and I was feeling a little better today.

The sky was still mostly blue. I looked over my shoulder to see the granite outcroppings as I drove. Kind of wished I was out walking over them — looking at the dimorpha soon to bloom.

I stopped at few stores and bought the regulars — groceries, bread, paint and lumber. I then went by a new lumber store with some country boys behind the counter.

I had grown a little weary this weekend, while out in public, of all the stares — So strange the way things work. You do what you want to do and no one stops you but the stares and the glares try to silently tell you you are out-of-line. At least they think you are not in-line with them. Most of the time I don’t care to much but I do notice. I was tired of all the looks so today I wore my regular country boy outfit, except for orange paint-splatterd shoes.

The country boys behind the lumber counter helped me out. I felt obliged to tell them I was needing this lumber not for official home building but for art projects. They smiled slightly as I took notes on delivery prices. I was happy to find some helpful folks that could get me some telephone poles delivered top my new property.

I put up some new street poems along my travel, stopped for coffee and sat in some suburban traffic. I got home about the time it began to rain.

I had not put up any street poems in a little while and I did not want to get rusty. It felt real fine to get back in that street folk saddle. Here we go.


baby-junk-streetpoem-blackcattips-1000 tired-of-fighting-streetpoem-blackcattips-1000see you soon,
Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks

Posted in hand painted signs, street art | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Back In The Saddle (driving around the eastern suburbs)

Shiny Top Notch (over under below above)

I have always like roadside oddities and signs for Hot Boiled Peanuts — odd monuments and country hand-made signs.  I like to ride along and see what all the hubbub is about. Usually the signs are better than what they advertise.

We moved to a new home at Arabia Mountain U.S.A.   I have been planning on making some signs for my new property. Some plans work out and some plans take more time. Some times things change and you get new plans in between. One day at a time, they tell me.

This is my first big installation at the new place. It started out as one thing and then became another — which in turn gave me a new idea. So that is a good thing. Ol’ Shiny Top Notch way up high, you see the Earth from out in the sky…

Over Under Below Above. That pretty much sums everything up — and here we are smack dab right square in the middle — fighting’ and cussin’ and scratchin’ and lovin’.

If you see my sign honk your horn. If I see you I will wave.

And don’t worry about me, I will be making more signs soon.

over-above-under-sign-2-blackcattips over-above-under-sign-blackcattips over-above-under-sign-3-blackcattips

see you soon,
Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks

Posted in blackcattips, roadside signs | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Shiny Top Notch (over under below above)

If I Had Listened (I wouldn’t be me)

If I had listened to what they told me, or all of those friendly suggestions people send my way, I wouldn’t have:

Grown my beard or Put up signs by the road or Climbed telephone poles or Come up with unique ideas or Started the trends or Let my half-bald head grow long hair or Worked myself silly or Come close to a nervous break down or Yell at those who love me. I wouldn’t go on binges or wild tares. I wouldn’t have met all the people I now know — all the friends I have made and places I have been.

If I had listened to those around me I wouldn’t have painted BEARS over my old paintings or come up with silly poems. I wouldn’t have had a chance to tell my story in front of a crowd. I wouldn’t have moved to Arabia Mountain U.S.A. I wouldn’t have quit my desk job with a regular paycheck. I wouldn’t have started to learn about who I am and how I work. I would not be the ME I am today.

You see if I did what they thought I should do I wouldn’t be me. I would be them. I wouldn’t have started my own hard-living path through life. I wouldn’t touch on eternal hippy-happiness in the afternoon sun. I wouldn’t struggle and cry and almost loose everything I have. I wouldn’t have the highs and the lows-lows. I wouldn’t know the beauty and I wouldn’t be me.

So I better keep doing my own thing and learning from my failures and keep being true to my real self — Deep down inside behind the fears and the shadows and the hollow bird bones and the cloudy endless days.

I am not going to do things because THEY do it. I am going to do what I think I should do and put my efforts toward things that are important — sunshine, happiness, love of those around you. I will be thankful and keep working on my simple calling in this life.

It sure isn’t easy but it is worth it and something I am going to keep working on.

Oh yea, I still love you but I’m not gonna listen to you anymore.



see you soon,
Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks

Posted in inspiration, writing | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on If I Had Listened (I wouldn’t be me)

Baby Bones (drawing for a crowd)

After several missed attempts at an appearance, A week or so ago I attended the ABV Gallery “Drink-n-Doodle” event. I drew for 4 hours while many people watched myself and  a dozen others make art on paper. It was very loud and I did the best I could to hear my fellow neighbor drawers.

Baby Bones, Baby Bones You will always be a part of me.

Thanks to Nick and Janice for purchasing my drawing.

abv-drink-and-doodle-blackcattips-6 abv-drink-and-doodle-blackcattips-5 abv-drink-and-doodle-blackcattips-4 abv-drink-and-doodle-blackcattips-3 abv-drink-and-doodle-blackcattips-2 abv-drink-and-doodle-blackcattips-1

see you soon,
Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks

Posted in hand lettering, illustration | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Baby Bones (drawing for a crowd)

The Man With The Red Red Beard (shadow and light)


Photo by Curtis Compton

This week has been one of the strangest, oddest and saddest weeks of my life. This week I turned 43 and this week my wife and I have dealt with some very sad news. We are still dealing with it all and wondering how to move forward. In the middle of it all I was lucky enough to be featured today on the cover of the Sunday edition of the AJC (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

I have long thought about how the darkest shadow is always closest to the brightest spot in the sun. Sometimes the best of days are smack-up against the darkest saddest ones. We are blessed with sunshine a day after a winter storm. Come to think of it, last week on this day it was 15 degrees and now I can go outside in my t-shirt.

I don’t understand life, I am just rolling with it and trying to make notes to learn by. I want to treat those around me better and be nice to my wife and family. I want to be better to my ancient little dog named Pup. It is all a process. I am trying. In the middle of it all I make colorful art that makes me feel better. I trying to get a better grip on peace and love and how it resides inside of my old soul.

I am very thankful to good ol’ Adam Kincaid who wrote the article about me and my journey. Thank you to Suzanne Van Atten who is the editor of the Personal Journeys AJC series. Thanks so much to my new friend Curtis Compton who shot the photos and video. I appreciate the opportunity to have worked with y’all.

Read the article in its interactive form here.

see you soon,
Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks


Posted in interview | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Man With The Red Red Beard (shadow and light)

Mule Ear (a mysterious bloom)

I’ve been waiting a few years to see this creature bloom. Last year was an almost but an accident chopped off the bloom spike mid-growth. It has a beautiful brain somewhere in there — guiding its development. This year it looks like it surely might happen.

This Mule Ear Oncidium was found in amongst many plants on my mother-in-law’s mother’s back porch several years ago. It was growing tossed in between a bunch of other plants. I was told to take it and care for it so I brought it back to Georgia from central Florida. I had no clue what type of orchid  it was at the time. I built a little basket for it to grow in.

Nature is a mysterious wonder. God made me smart enough to know He is all around but my smart enough to understand it all. I am easily amazed, but this is amazing to me.

mule-ear-oncidium-bloom mule-ear-oncidium-basket mule-ear-oncidium-bloom-spike
see you soon,
Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks

Posted in inspiration | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Mule Ear (a mysterious bloom)