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.
The whole world looked one way. I tried for years to understand it and then I tried for years to master it. I never did. After a long time I told myself I had started to grasp how things worked. I thought I had learned enough to navigate the paths of existence and understand my place in it.
I made things work for me, I greased up the gears and the machine was rolling— churning out the products I needed— moving through the sky and sucking in the clean cool air.
I felt like I had it somewhat under control.
Now I have noticed a change. I can’t see as well as I once did. My eyes have begin to fail a bit — dimming has occurred. Sometimes I walk into a dark room and feel as though I am blind. Perhaps some of this is due to the fact that my perception has changed. I can see but my mind can decipher all the factors in the same capacity.
I feel like I am looking through a tinted glass. I feel like I have been reading a story and the type on the paper has begun to degrade a little. The letters themselves aren’t quite the same. The bits and pieces of the characters have broken off so as I read all the sudden I loose my place. I cant finish the sentence. I can discern the meaning.
This is how I feel about my mind, my artistic being. I can’t see as well and my mental interpretation of everything has broken down a few degrees.
I start to draw or paint and what I want to create and the result of my efforts are two different things. I have a great frustration inside and cant make things work out as I had planned.
All of this is forcing me down a new path — a de-evolution of my mind — A breakdown of my thinking. The path of normality has cracked and weeds of frustration have sprouted through the sidewalk.
I don’t know where this will lead me. One day perhaps I will simply draw a line, or a rounded blob of color is all I can create. Everything I ever wanted to express is now condensed to a solid shape interacting with another sold shape — no words, no faces, no details. These internal struggles and changes make me wonder. What is next? Maybe a couple rounded shapes on a page will be all I need. Maybe it will stay the same. Maybe a bolt of electricity from the heavens will restart my thought process and send me down a new trail. I like to listen to the sounds of a small creek in the mountains. I like to see my baby boy smile. I like the wind in the tops of the trees. I like the way a soft yellow cake smells.
Someone was very generous. Someone was the winning bid at the WonderRoot gala in 2017. As a result, they could have a mural painted by myself anywhere of their choosing. The kind person with the winning bid wanted to have the art given as a gift to a local school. WonderRoot worked a deal and many months later I walked into Dunbar Elementary with my paints and brushes. I also brought some snacks because I was hungry it was a lunchroom after all. Hmmmmm … corn chips.
I painted a fun mural with food themes – pizza, and fruit — apples and oranges and fruity drinks. A sandwich man, a spoon and a fork and a toothy banana.
The school kids were out on a break when I worked in the lunchroom. I imagine they will have a lot to talk about when they return. One person had told me the kids would mess the art up — they said they would peel it off the wall. I sure hope they leave it be. I went to school for a while and saw a bunch of lunchrooms. I never saw any paintings like this while I ate my square pizza and funky salad bar food. I never peeled any talking sandwiches off the wall. I think the children at Dunbar Elementary will consider themselves to be in a happy good place. A place that they can grow and learn and laugh at talking food.
Thanks again to WonderRoot and the super nice fella who gave the gift of art to Atlanta Public Schools.
A while back I made a set of cardboard bear heads. They are painted by hand and glued and there is a little string hangar on the back. I took photos if them and then combined the faces with some other drawings I made. Sometime after this poster was born.
We made a 2-color silkscreen poster here at the BlackCatTips studio. I wrote a little story of a family reunion picnic gone awry — like I would imagine a lot must do. A family picnic sounds like a good idea but then you get knee-deep and the wind blows funny and all the sudden it is decided to just call it off and head back home.
The bees came to visit, the basket sprung a leak and lil’ Bobby had a rough go.
You can teach an old dog new tricks if he wants to learn. My old dog is mostly deaf and half blind but she can still run around and likes to jump. I like to learn new things. Over last couple years I have become more and more interested in silkscreen art and using some of the drawings and paintings I have created in recent days to make new art on paper. I have incorporated silkscreen imagery into some paintings I have done recently. I enjoy mixing and matching the repetition of the manual print with hand touches and brush strokes.
We have made 2 new sets of posters here at our studio. Today they are available on our shop. We are working on some new ones to release next month.
As I was applying the emulsion layer to the screen, I thought about process. I thought about the task that you repeat and refine — smooth out the flaws and learn the craft. I thought of a man on a documentary I once saw that stuck with me. He was an older asian man. I think he lived in a Chinese city, in a gritty neighborhood. Everyday he made noodles by hand on a wooden table in a small bare back room. He used nothing but a long thick piece of bamboo. He would use his whole body to knead the dough and create the batch of noodles — pressing the dough with the bamboo until it was flat. Then he would start over again. Everyday the same task. Everyday. Then they would be delivered by hand to restaurants in the city. That impressed me. It inspired me. I will work on my craft. I would like some noodles.
Green. That was the theme. They took me into a room. For what I’ve done they strapped me into a computerized face-harness and sent me down a black hole tube into a world of amazing colors and a reality not-so-real. A strange sort of penance. when I return to the real world I’ll be a better man.
I’m learning to draw in virtual reality with Tilt Brush thanks to my new friends at Beam Imagination. It is one of the oddest and captivating things I have done. After only a couple sessions I think I could be sucked into the void and stay there a while without much loss of real-world time. I am drawing and creating in 3-D all around me and under and above in any color you like with a wide range of brushes and tools. It is all made in an instant and then can be all removed in the click of a button.
I can draw a simple blue circle. Then you can move it and rotate it in all directions and see how the light from above affects it and makes it look different. I realized it isn’t a circle at all and it really isn’t solid as there are holes and gaps in the brush strokes I made. The blue circle is really a flat blue plate which I then grab and scale to the size of my choosing and place back into the sky next to other shapes I have created. I stand back in the virtual world and stare at my floating drawings in wonder. How is this happening?
I wish you could go down the black hole tube full of paints and colors with me. Maybe we can take that dog too. I could draw him a virtual bone.
Went to SunTrust Park to see the Atlanta Braves play the L.A. Dodgers.
Took a special elevator driven by Ms Ruthie and walked in to the Xfinity Rooftop lounge.
Met the team from Xfinity Marketing and got out my Sharpie pens.
After sensing tension in the air I began to sign shirts for folks in line.
I decided it was good to go ahead and sign shirts rather than have a mini t-shirt riot at a baseball game.
Talked to hundreds of people and got better writing the last letter of my name toward the end of event.
Kept tabs on the happiness of my baby boy over on the corner.
Looked a few times up towards the game and asked people what inning it was.
Wondered if the man with the crazy eyes and talk of LSD really had Lysergic acid diethylamide or was he just a guy who tended to holler out while waiting in line.
It is always fun to be at the fancy ballpark.
Thanks to Walker Anderson and Laura Williams at Xfinity. Thanks to Deanna and her crew for making the event flow nicely. Thanks to all the nice folks who waited in line and had something great to share with me — ” at the old, ballllll gaaaammmmmeeeee.”
I spent a week in West Nashville painting on a long white wall for Off The Wall Nashville — An initiative to help reinvigorate a busy somewhat industrial corridor on the west side of Nashville that is beginning to “wake up” again. Some folks run away from a beast soon to wake — others cook it breakfast.
I was lucky enough to have a week of dry weather. Dry weather is good for painting. A lot of sun and dry air is good to bind paint to a cinder block wall. I drank water out of a big jug and I spent most of my time on a ladder along Charlotte Avenue. I thought I would have time to do a few other art projects while I was there but I did not. I ate a lot of cherry tomatoes and took notes of the street characters that would walk pass my painting in progress. I ate seven (7) bananas and laid the peels out end to end on the sidewalk pointing towards the west. That is the general direction bananas tend to migrate in the late summer.
I finished the project the evening before I had to leave town. When I sat across the street and looked at what I had left on the wall I felt good inside. I was dirty and mean and had dust in one eye but I felt good.
I got to see and meet some great folks while in Nashville. I saw the Van Lears play at the Hutton Hotel. I saw a couple of the Futurebirds and we took selfies. I ate at Wild Cow vegan restaurant and laughed a lot. I visited with new friends at Dino’s under a wooden Dolly Parton and I connected all of the dots at the Wilburn Street Tavern. I met friends that hand-letter signs and ride in stagecoaches full of gold leaf — friends that live on a farm in a converted bus with a van welded to the top — friends that like ramen and have an album coming out soon — white-haired auto mechanics with cigarettes glued permanently to their bottom lip that helped me out of a jam — people in the parking lot that wanted to talk about my painted van — a guy that told me where I was when I was a little lost — a man from a scene in the Dukes of Hazard that pointed me to the gas station and then told me how he had to replace his fuel tank on his truck — the smiling guy with a braided beard like a warrior troll — the tough-man personal trainer at the gas station that lauded my accolades — Jennifer the flower lady who sold newspapers on the corner and the guy with a tiny dog in his bike basket. Oh yes, and a man in a purple suit named King who told me ” Love was always a necessary ingredient in whatever you do.”
I hope people enjoy the art I left behind on the wall on Charlotte Ave. I would like to go back soon and see all my friends. I hope the banana peels are still there or if not I hope they are basking in the western sun.
Here is a little video I made about a big painting.
I drove up to Nashville to start on an outdoor mural project. The project is called Off The Wall Nashville. It is located at 28th and Charlotte on the west side of the Music City. I had a few issues on the way up from Atlanta, including foreign objects lodged behind my brake pads on the painted van I drive. I had other issues too but those aren’t as worth mentioning. This hunk of metal in the wrong place created a wildly metallic screeching sound. The squeal coupled with the fact that my van is painted in an odd way made for strange and somewhat laughably entertaining and embarrassing ride around West Nashville. I pulled the bill of my yellow ball hat down way low so no one would see me. Now, thanks to some nice Nashvillians, the screech and the squeal have left town together and I am here to paint. I think they rode on out to Memphis bickering with each other on the back of a dirty old semi.
I began this painting project and now am in the midst of it. I always enjoy the midst portion. I have met some nice folks so far. The Nashville Transit Bus Driver stopped and I got into the bus to tell him what I was doing. Two police pulled over a lady Uber driver in front of the wall. I met a traveling family from Philly en route from Oklahoma to take photos and see all the states. Random folks have come by and shook my hand and asked me things like, ” Did you do all of this?!” I said, ” Yes.” Then I get out my dish soap and wash my hands on the sidewalk.
Today I met a man named Jim Anderson. He is 82. He walks a lot and lives in Nashville. He told me he used to deal cards in Las Vegas for 14 years. He used to drink in the old days too but now he laid the bottle down. He laid it plum flat on its side. All the drink ran out. Whether it was Puerto Rican Rum or Siberian Vodka or a fancy type of Rye Whiskey I do not know. But according to Jim, it poured on out and ran down the table leg and across the floor. The Puerto Rican Siberian Rum Whiskey kept on running and tumbling and ended up in a crooked creek and then a swindling stream and now it flows to this day in the Cumberland River. I heard it was laid up on a big sandbar somewheres — just laying out in the sun and taking it easy. What do expect an old bottle of booze to do?
Maybe Jim didn’t tell me all the facts about the lack of drink in his life. Maybe I made that part of the story up. Heck, maybe I need a little drink. Anyway, Jim now goes on two daily walks and writes poetry and songs. Sometimes he finds guys like me painting on the sidewalk. Today as I was painting on my ladder and he came by and we spoke. He recited me one of his writings. I was impressed. We spoke for a while more and then I got out my blue paint and climbed back up my ladder. I sure wish I could have recorded all the words to his poem.
I first saw Jim last night as I was sitting on the sidewalk eating cold ramen noodles and lima beans out of a sandwich bag with my fingers. He came walking down the evening road in my direction. He smiled and told me he liked my hat. Any fella that would be nice to you after they saw you eating ramen noodles and lima beans out of a bag with their fingers must be an okay type of fella.
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.