My Long Winded Life Story Version

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    The middle child of three, I was born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama and spent most of my summers on Cape Cod. Both are equally beautiful, with the Alabama forests and the Cape Cod beaches there's a lot to admire. I get a lot of inspiration from observing the world around me (this observance I've been reminded of in my daughter who has been very curious and aware). I enjoy everything from the serenity of sunsets to the ferocity of thunderstorms down to watching the tiniest of insects going about their business. I've always had an eye for the the beauty of the world around me, and unfortunately the ugliness that seems to pervade the dream, but also the salvation I've experienced, being spared death or dismemberment on many occasions. There are painful things in life that can leave scars, but there are also things that are like a healing salve to the soul. I find art to be such a healing thing. Art  has the ability to enable me to see within myself and beyond into the world. I believe we are all linked together each here for a specific reason, whatever that may be, and that the true test of life is how we treat each other.

As far back as I can remember, I've had a fascination with creating things. I've enjoyed making art of many types, exploring different areas and aspects of my creative abilities. I get get bored with too much of the same and I like to change things up a bit to keep mundane at bay. When I  was young I began having difficulties in school with my attention span. I was always getting in trouble for daydreaming too much. I once read that Robert Frost was expelled from school for daydreaming too much, a fact that I find somewhat comforting. If you're wondering or starting to realize, yes, I'm very ADD. Clinically diagnosed twice including one doctor who hooked me up to EEG and there was an "Oh Wow!" moment when I pegged the meters. I knew it was serious when I heard the doctor say "Hmmmmmmmm..." It has explained much.

Art was always my favorite class and I usually kept focused, if doing something I enjoyed. After seventh grade I wasn't required to take art class, and being too restrictive I didn't feel like taking any classes after that. I continued experimenting on my own with different types of art. My parents were fascinated with my unorthodox use of the drafting templates at my dad's shop. I would take the stencils and use them to make little cartoons of spaceships and alien creatures. Mom always liked to do crafts and make decorations for the holidays. We would sit around the kitchen table and paint ceramics, which were fired in mom's kiln. I inherited the kiln in '95 when she realized how much my first firing added to her power bill! I took it home and started doing my little clay creatures until my workshop burned to the ground in the fiery explosive cataclysm of 2001. The kiln was among the casualties.

Back in my senior year of high school in 85 I discovered welding when I took a shop class at the Tech School. I eventually got creative and started making little creations from the scrap pile when my instructor wasn't looking. It was about a decade later that I got back to creating these little metal creatures. I found some railroad spikes in a substation, while working for my family as a high voltage technician, and made some little people out of them. This is how my little Railroad Spike People came into being. It was even more fun now since I didn't have to worry about my welding instructor catching me "goofing off. I often wonder if he even knew what I was doing, didn't know, or did he care as long as I was throwing sparks? After a renewed fascination my work sprouted in different directions. I've made all sorts of crazy sculptures, candle holders, furniture and anything else that my muse inspires. Most of my work starts with a piece of metal that catches my eye, then other pieces that fit the idea. Sometimes it takes weeks, months or even years to find the perfect parts to make a piece work (still have one waiting for about five years now). At left is a pic of some of my high school creations (click to enlarge).

In my twenties I got into music and started writing songs and poetry. I found this to be an excellent way to express myself, to get things off my chest, or to just capture the moment when something struck me enough to analyze it. I enjoy writing, putting just the right words together like a mental jigsaw puzzle. I find language to be quite fascinating, with different ways to say something or different meanings in one saying.

In the winter of 95 I started painting. After a failed attempt at trying to take a painting workshop and juggle work, I started to work at my own pace. This was much more successful and evolved to be one of my favorite creative outlets. I just let my mind relax and wander, moving paint around until something begins to take shape. Painting is a great meditation for me. It allows me to put things in perspective, taking the chaotic confusion of random thought and putting it in solid form to look at objectively. I don't plan ahead much, simply let the paint, my emotion and my imagination guide me along. Some turn out serene, some are not. I guess this is due to the fact that, as an outlet, I end up venting my angers and frustrations. I study my paintings for quite a while, trying to find some meaning in each one. I've been asked many times about the faces in  many of my paintings. I guess it's akin to the Phantom Images of Dali's Paranoiac Critical Method or Max Ernst's Frottage experiments.  Oftentimes I find myself staring into space deep in thought looking blankly at clouds, trees, clustered objects, wood grain, etc... and suddenly noticing figures or faces. Sometimes I look at funny shaped vegetables or other objects and notice things. (below right - an example, a dried squash with a toothy grin)  I happen to see many strange things in life that usually go unnoticed. One morning not too long ago I awoke to see a face that seemed to be looking back at me from the living room. It was slightly unnerving. Somehow, on the little shelf where my wife keeps her fairies, three figurines combined to make a face (below left - the face is encircled and rotated, click to see a larger image).

I understand that in Phantom Imagery you see something that is not actually there but is perceived by the mind from parts of other objects, such as the face in the figurines. Strangely it's real and it's there, but then again, it's not. I've always been fascinated by optical illusion, enjoying how an image can be manipulated by what the mind perceives depending where you focus. When I paint I adjust my eyes in different orientations, as well as focus, to see the possibilities of which parts could mesh with others to become this or that. I am also interested in the aspects of psychology involved.

I was dubbed Dazzlin' Dave by my riding buddy's girlfriend. One night out we were in a parking lot where the sprinklers had been running and water was draining across the pavement.  I rode up, put my back wheel in the water (yes I'm a bit of a daredevil), I grabbed the front brake, twisted the throttle and lit the back tire up. Shortly after that I made the fatal mistake of letting go of the front brake. The rear tire caught traction and, quite unexpectedly, shot my bike out from under me. I flew about ten feet through the air, skinned my knee and landed on my butt. I was laughing (mainly to cover my wounded pride and admit how stupid it was) and my buddy's girlfriend tucked her head in her hands sighing "Dazzlin' Dave!" It stuck, ringing of previous nicknames such as Super Dave and Danger Dave.
Since the summer of 97 I've had to regain my momentum after almost getting killed out riding. I was hit head-on by a drunk driver. He took a left fifteen feet in front of me as I was going about 50 mph. The irony is, I was actually doing the speed limit! I slammed into his Ford Explorer turning his truck totally around backward. (below is a before and after pic of my bike, it was a good lookin' one).

It's been a long road recovering, but to count my many blessings, I had the help of my friends and family to get through it. The most amazing thing is that I'm still able to walk, albeit with a cane. I had a 10% chance to keep my left arm and leg from being amputated. Luckily I'm right handed, so I was back to painting even before I was released from the hospital. With my creative drive, I was forced to demand someone bring paint and canvas to the rehab center. After a few months in the hospital, I had to stay with my parents for a few months since I was getting around in a walker, then I spent another six months on crutches.. After a moderate head injury I was priveleged to see some of my paintings as if for the first time, strange. The experience has taught me many things, such as patience and strength of spirit. It's given me much more appreciation of life and the realization of how fragile it really is. Coming that close to death can have a serious impact on one's outlook, seriously.

In August 2001 at about 4am, my ex came into the bedroom screaming "The garage is on fire!" As I shuffled across the floor rubbing the sleep from my eyes expecting to see a small flicker from the window, I turned the corner and my heart sank. The back windows were lit up as if it were daylight outside. I got to the back door and looked out. My workshop was engulfed in flames. Scrambling to the phone I dialed 911. When the dispatcher answered I screamed "My garage is on fire!" I was ready to hang up and grab the garden hose, but luckily she kept me on the phone with "all these stupid questions" -- Is the garage attached or detached? Do you have any flammable or hazardous materials in the garage? -- I said to myself "Heck, I don't even know what I have out there just get here!!" I was so rattled I couldn't remember anything! I pulled aside the curtain on the back door, to look at the garage to jog my memory. I started rattling off items, such as paint thinner, spray cans, gasoline, small propane bottles (which were all popping and exploding). Then my heart stopped dead. As I turned to run, suddenly remembering the huge bottles of Acetylene and Oxygen attached to my welding torch, it happened... Just before I could drop the phone and run screaming like a girl, the Acetylene cylinder erupted. From the corner of my eye I saw half the building hit the sky. The shock wave was like someone kicked me with both feet, but I felt it all over. The blast was so forceful that things were knocked off the wall in the houses across the street!
To see more pics of the devastation click on the pic to the right. The 1/4" thick Acetylene cylinder was ripped open like an aluminum can. You can see the clear spot on the concrete slab where it previously rested. The blast actually cracked the slab! In front of the cylinder lies the twisted remains of my workbench, which it shot through like a rocket ripping heavy steel legs off on its way. The oxygen cylinder, which was previously standing next to the acetylene cylinder, came to rest 60ft. away after it hammered into my large roll-around toolbox, which slammed into my 500lb. metal lathe, and pushed my 1500lb. milling machine two feet across the floor. Luckily all the machinery was in its way, otherwise the unimpeded 100lb. projectile certainly could have reworked my dental plan. Another fortunate thing is that the Oxygen was down to a mere 20psi. from 2500psi. or it could have rapidly accelerated the combustion of this 1800F+ aluminum eating fire, creating a massive fireball which would have incinerated everything nearby. In either case you wouldn't be reading this, nor my neighbors for that matter! I was given this last revelation, while in the scrap yard looking for inspiring metal tidbits, when I met a retired Army Colonel. I told him the tale and how lucky I was, then he looked me square in the eyes and said "Son, you don't know how lucky you are! When I was in Desert Storm, we'd strap explosives on a pair of those bottles and it'd take out an entire city block. Your house, the two next to it, and probably even the houses across the street, would have been leveled!" I stood there speechless. I've often joked about cats having only nine lives. Did I mention the time I was electrocuted by 12,000 volts, or the time I was almost incinerated by a fire in my buddy's race car involving nitrous oxide? Guess I'll have to save that for another time.

I guess there's a reason I'm still around, like I always say. This is my daughter Kaelie. She has been such a blessing, happy most of the time. Kaelie has shown her own talents since she was three years old. She loves to paint and is very determined and particular. She doesn't just slop paint, but does it with alot of thought, very deliberately. It's strangely like watching a mini-version of myself painting. Sometimes I offer suggestions and she says no, sometimes emphatically. One such time I suggested she do more on a very simple piece and she said "No, it's done."

I said "Well, you could..." "Nope, it's done!"

"but don't you wanna..." "No! It's done!"

"Alrighty then, I'll get you more paper your Highness."
Maybe you'll see us out at a show one day. I'm sure Kaelie will be happy to paint something for you.
Speaking of art shows... I took her to the Monte Sano Arts Festival 2014, set her up with some paint and hung some of her work behind my booth, along with her art achievement award she got in art class at school. After a while I checked on her and saw that she had hung a sign next to her work "For Sale $10", so I figured I'd let her run with it. By the end of the show she had sold five pieces and got her picture in the paper!

Here's a fun little piece we did,
when she was about 4yrs old.
I let her scribble on a canvas
with crayons and I finished it.

If you've read all of this, I thank you very much for your interest!

Take care!

Dazzlin' Dave

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