The materials used in creating these paintings is limited to those available for purchase at the prison commissary, primarily paper and colored pencils, and occasionally some pastel crayons. Over years of experimentation I learned to finesse these materials to achieve subtle painterly results, using mineral oil as an agent to dissolve and blend the pigments in the available media. The color is then applied to the bristol board that has been treated with mineral oil, using fingertips and sometimes paper blending stumps as brushes, and colored pencils for the finer details.
"Rarely do I encounter anything in my immediate physical environment that moves me to produce a rendering in visual art is anything close to a literal representation of it. But then, were I in an environment where I would be surrounded by beautiful natural vistas it's unlikely I would be inclined to produce artistic images of what I see. In either case, however, the surroundings may influence how I feel or what I imagine on the screen of my mind, and this will often move me to create art rooted in these visualizations or emotions. So you might say that my immediate surroundings may inspire my work indirectly." Bobby BeauSoleil
n the dark, eyes shut, there are no limits to what may be seen as the mind shines its light into the mystery. Patterns shyly emerge, tentatively; hints of forms, suggestions of potential ... things. Then retreating as a vagrant thought disturbs the surface reflections on the nightpool. Swirls of subtle color arising once again as stillness returns. Disciplined practice is required, therefore, to resolve what may be seen in that place where there is no light.
The visionary artist quests within the mystic sphere, climbing the forbidden tree. The immortal worm, releasing its tail from its mouth to speak, offers an invitation to know what is hidden. There is the price, always the price when ignorance is challenged with new insights.
One artist may be enticed to conjure cheerful visions of puffy clouds in sunny skies, rainbows and butterflies and myriad pleasant delights. Another artist may look upon such a Happyville as a trap for the soul, like a sticky confection prepared to ensnare the unwary insect, where obligatory smiles become frozen in rictus as the truth sinks in.
We are endowed with free will to choose the path that is right for us. Some will choose the path less obvious — while knowing full well, or not, that all paths lead, ultimately, to the light. The one who braves the darkness in the underworld may learn to conquer fear once and for all and thus pierce through the veil of nescience to liberation and the light of Truth, to wear the golden fleece as a mantle.
Fear conjures demons and monsters out of the gloom. Courage summons the hero to vanquish them. The venturesome artist forges on undaunted, unconcerned with any arbitrary judgments about where the sunny dream ends and the nightmare assumes dominion. If a hideous monstrosity with a gaping hungry maw full of sharp teeth emerges out of the black, the artist as hero must make the effort to draw it into visibility where the light makes it a known thing and it can do no harm.
What appears to be frightening is a tease, a thing that both repels and attracts, drawing us out of complacency, stirring emotion to wake us up. The disturbance is goading, encouraging a willingness to stand and face down the fearsome beast within and defeat it. There is, after all, no one inside oneself but oneself.
very so often I have come under fire for the path I've chosen around expressing in the creative arts and publishing my work through an online presence. There are people, perhaps well-intentioned, who are adamant in their stance that prison is for punishment, and that people who are doing time for a crime should not be permitted to engage in activities that do not strictly conform to this narrow definition. Since my ability to produce and publish my work in a reasonably meaningful way are occasionally influenced by controversies of this sort, I am taking this opportunity to address the issues head-on and describe what drives the kinds of activities that sometimes put me in the line of fire.
To be absolutely clear, I disagree with the proposition that imprisonment for a crime should be all about unremitting punishment and perpetual condemnation. The notion that prisons should be a living Hell where people who have committed bad crimes are made to suffer and suffer and suffer has the potential to turn the entire world into a living Hell. Such an approach to criminal justice takes people who have made bad mistakes and turns them into monsters — monsters who may one day be released from prison to wreak havoc in the communities they had formerly lived as citizens.
I was once, long ago, on my way to turning myself into one of those monsters. I had been sent to prison for a horrible crime I had committed against another human being, and then, for lack of being able to see any alternative, I continued along the same trajectory that had led to my imprisonment — desperately trying to find acceptance among the hard-cases that I was living among, trying to fit in by emulating their tough guy posturing, and gradually adopting their bitter philosophies and falling in with their violent lifestyle. Just as I was on the verge of losing myself in that world forever my guardian angel grabbed me by the collar and pulled me back from the edge of the abyss. There's no better way to describe the sudden shift in my consciousness when it came. I woke up, just like that.