SELLING OUT or GETTING PAID – The Artistic Dilemma

I loved this post by Libby Rosuf of The Art Blog and it so made me think about the life of an artist. Specifically she quoted blogger Annette Monnier :

I am reminded of being a young artist and saying something to a friend about this or that person “selling out” to which my wiser friend replied “you can’t tell me that you wouldn’t have done that had it been offered to you.”

An Underrated True 2 The Game Artist

This is such a dilemma for artists, be they musical or visual. Me being both – I completely understand. As a Hip-Hop/R&B writer/ producer when R&B was transitioning to more urban/ghetto messages – the mantra in my ear from A&R folks was less message, more sex (What are you, some kinda’ message band)! In art, going to Black galleries I thought would understand me, the message was we like more overtly BLACK images (read: not the muti-colored folks you are presenting – our audience will not understand).

For me, I ALWAYS reference Spike Lee. To paraphrase, as you enter the business, that’s what you are.

Think about it. If an artists makes big money for a gallery painting little green, three breasted men riding Shetland ponies, why would a gallery or his agent all of a sudden want him being true and painting like Renoir? Conversely, if a singer makes it big on the Lady Gaga vibe, the label surely doesn’t want the next CD to be lyrically deep like Dylan. Ca-CHING!

Being authentic, of course, could lead to delayed gratification or none at all if folks don’t get you (and, I do have friends like this). On the flip side, can you blame someone for taking the bucks to get some publicity & support themselves and their family.

At the end of the day, whatever choice we as artists make, we have to live with it and look ourselves in the mirror each and every morning. Are you happy with what you see? That’s ALL that matters.


Art of Todd, the Funky Long Island Artist


p.s. – I am now a singer/songwriter ( so I can express my thoughts as I choose, being true to myself and my soul. The art still comes from my heart.

Back in the Saddle Again…Getting Creative Juices 2 Flow After Some Time Off

I usually am not a big fan of abstract art, but while searching around for inspiration, came across the blog of abstract artist Lynn Taetzsch. I really like her art. It’s very colorful and lyrical. In her blog, she has nice philosophies to share too. About getting back in rhythm after time off, she said:

I try to stay as relaxed as possible, letting the lines flow, but the beginnings still feel awkward. Once I’ve got something started, then I can intuitively develop the colors, shapes, lines and composition.

This is SO accurate about all creative endeavors. The beginnings often seem a bit rough and awkward.

Opposites attract right? The self-imposed pressure of creating at a specific time after a long break versus trying to relax and let go while in the pressurized state of creativity. This is like getting Godzilla to befriend Mothra yo!

Sometimes, with our busy schedules, the hardest part is finding time to start creating after a break. The trick is relaxing and letting go. So as Taetzsch said – let’s relax, let go and create a friendship between Godzilla and Mothra (okay – I said that part ha, ha)!

Peace – Art of Todd, the funky Sea Cliff, Long Island African-American Artist!


There is Always Something New 2 Learn in Art

Came across the most interesting blog post entitled Painting Like the Old Masters by an artist blogger named Byrne Smith.

The hippest concept about his post is the following:
The point is, as you’ve heard me say before, there is always something new to learn in art.

Daddy!!!  I'm BORREEEDDDD!!!How many times are we artists like five year old children sitting on the play mat on a Sunday afternoon? I’M BORED DADDY!
Well, Mr. Byrne says it doesn’t have to be that way at all. He has been working with watercolors lately and writes about challenging himself to learn more about the muted colors used by Old Masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci. Specifically, his palette and techniques. Deep!

Me, I recently experimented with a Picasso-like technique using acrylics on a canvas painted with Aluminum Krylon metal paint – taking me far away from my oil pastel comfort zone.

Musically, I am experimenting with alternate tunings on my back-up guitar, screwed up the tunings on one string, and created my own tuning (I guess). Then using the Miles Davis technique of play it first and tell you what it is later, wrote a beautiful song entitled Bread on the Soup Line. Looking forward to debuting this one when I play Valentine’s Eve at The Hideaway in Glen Cove, NY.

We are artists! We should never feel trapped creatively. Thanks Mr. Smith for the instruction and confirmation.

Peace – Todd


The aRt of Growing Through DeFeat

If you live through defeat, you’re not defeated. If you are beaten but acquire wisdom, you have won. Lose yourself to improve yourself. Only when we shed all self-definition do we find who we really are.

Had an interesting conversation with Kenni Hairston, an amazing producer/musician friend with whom I apprenticed back in the day (and hope to work with in the ‘morrow). Was discussing how music is who we are, the seeming losses we both have experienced in the business, and how we keep coming back, no matter how strong the punch.

I Luv a Blank Aluminum Canvas

I Luv a Blank Canvas

Creativity is a blessing and a curse. Between the two though, I choose extreme blessing. Like Kenni said, you do it ’cause you can’t help it. To wake up, pick up my guitar…write, sing, wait for voices to speak through me…insane, but cool. Hey – I haven’t cut my left ear off (yet!). Drinking that sweet ass Maudite beer, Miles Davis on the turntable, painting…caught up in the cool yo! Clock strikes midnight…

I’ve been told NO probably more than about anyone in this life (outside of crazy artists and musicians doing a life bid like myself). But as Kenni and I discussed, the growth is internal and not necessarily externally recognized or acknowledged, even by those closest to u. Lose to improve…if you acquire wisdom you have WON! Definition of self – growth. Pray to recognize – yearning. Lessons for art and life.

Initiate Peace yo – Todd
Creator of original fine art and prints! aka, the Black American Long Island-based artist detailing the universal experience…

p.s. – the RZA’s The Tao of the Wu is one incredibly philosophically and spiritually moving book. Check it out. Thanks for the science Kelly Ann! Wu-Tang 4EVER son!!

p.s. – Dreams and visions…me with my alternative acoustic folk/funk workin’ with the RZA. His beats, my melodies and lyrics…WHAT! Holla’ RZA!!!


Dreams…I Need A Yoko (new song excerpt!)

SisyphusI don’t know about all this goals & objectives stuff people talk about. Write ’em down…it will happen or so far too many self help experts say. I used to do this back in the day when I was pursuing music production/writing with my bro…but we’d always do everything up to actually signing a deal – which was the goal. So pursuing goals this way made the process almost seem like a waste. And, it sapped my spirit.

99 consecutive steps taken, miss the last one and start all over again as if the first 99 never existed. Talk about disappointment!

But…ain’t life about change or so they say? Well, this year decided to write down my dreams. I don’t necessarily like the phrase goals & objectives because to me life is a journey. Always changing…constantly reshapingl We’re all in some way trying to make a dream come true.

So my first step in my artistic journey that has no end was to have a solo art show before end of year. BONUS ROUND! I not only had a show, but also had an opportunity to play my music with my artwork in the background. Gotta’ thank the amazing Sue Giordano for the opportunity and blessing. This video features my art & an excerpt of my new song entitled I Need a Yoko.

My Pops said “this could have been the ultimate love song John Lennon wrote to Yoko had he lived.” And, I agree. So my Pop’s line will now be the intro. every time I play it yo! Play the video if u please!

Next up – Jimmy Kimmel Show by January 2010! Then Oprah in late 2010!!

Peace Yo!

The funkiest Human, African-American, Black, Negro, Pan-African, Colored, Universal, Higher-Primate, Opposable Thumb Havin’ Artist-like dude faith based in Long Island


Everybody Needs A Theme Song – the ARt of Music

Don't cha wish a DJ could follow u around?!I think everybody needs a lil’ personally selected theme song – theme music all their own – to help make it through the daze. Wouldn’t it be great to have a DJ escort you around and spin it when u need it yo?!

Here’s the theme song for The Blog of courtesy of the legendary Rick James (just PRESS PLAY):

And, my personally handwritten theme song/anthem 4 the world (under my pseudonym Dylanblack):

gOTTa’ Be A Revolution (lyrics)
copyright – artoftodd 2009

(verse 1)
people, needin’ people
so many needy, always feedin’ the greedy yo
enuf to feed the world, a loaf of bread some bbq chips
but i can’t conceive, eatin’ off my crumb filled dish

gotta’ be, gotta’ be, gotta’ be a revolution
movin’ like a hurricane, ‘cross the ocean in the dark
today gonna’ rise up start a revolution
eye of the hurricane, brewin’ in my heart

(verse 2)
u don’t, have to take it
born into this fire, though u didn’t make it yo
plans and scams of a greedy man, make u stoop instead of stand
so release yourself, your God’s got a better plan, for u


wake up, WAKE UP, rise up, rise up
throw your fist up , punch it through the sky
rise up, rise up, stand up, stand up
throw your fist up, punch it through the sky

everyday, everyday sippin’ gin and juice
’cause the world is makin’ u crazy, cry a bottle of colic like a baby
all alone in your crib screaming save me
green eggs and ham, like sam i am, want something real, world tastes like spam
i gotta’ open up my eyes, open up my eyes,

copyright – artoftodd 2009

Stay up…stay open…stay creative…stay honest.

Dream of Peace – the Artist


Funky Original Art Prints & the Art of Video!

Press PLAY and don’t delay

Geez…slight oversight on my part! How could I 4get to post my promo video featuring a cut by the incredible Dj Morphiziz (Are You Lovin’ It). The blimp is straight representin’ my hometown Akron, Ohio yo! I’m livin’ the Akron Art scene vicariously! Straight NY but midwestern at heart
Sea Cliff Arts Council group shot

Recently participated in the Sea Cliff Arts Council Summertime in Sea Cliff group show with my new work entitled Sun, Shade, Heart. It’s a charcoal joint illustrating a day at the beach. Okay, I know…charcoal and the beach…a little odd! But, charcoal was the flow I was feeling & who says artists aren’t odd. There were some incredible artists at the show and really enjoyed their work. Creating for shows keeps my chops fresh.

sun, shade, heart - copyright
Have music shows coming up on August 9 and 16th (at the beach). Got Woodstock in my cross hairs too. So looking forward. Plan to have this new song about my love 4 Manhattan worked out!

Practicing Peace as the Long Island Artist – The Black artist painting about the universal experience (aka ArtofTodd)

p.s. – thanks to Kathleen DiResta for the photos!

The Thrill(er) is Gone – RIP MJJ

The Thriller

The Thriller

I could go on…but I won’t. Genius can not be adequately described or explained. It just is. A simple thank u 4 living. God Bless U MJJ. Tell Marvin, ‘Pac and my Mom hello…

Glenwood Arts Gala Opening…Bringing the Funkiest Art to Long Island, New York

Hey Yo! What a thrill. Was blessed to participate in the Glenwood Arts Gala Opening on May 9, 2009. *The debut of this gallery space was amazingly well run, well attended, and off the chain creative (tip of the hat to CEO Greg Sturges and curator Jason Paradis)!

Check out the opening video (yup – that’s me!) –

At the gala, there were some very talented Long Island artists displaying their art. Jason did a wonderful job of selecting and hanging the art.

regina_ress_1The lost art of storytelling was brought back to the present by the extraordinary Regina Ress who weaved incredible tales of emotional complexity out of everyday NYC Village life. The fact that she conveyed her stories in the sanctuary of the church made this an even more intimate experience for all. And, she even changed the title of my song Someday to Someday (This Gift of Life) after listening to me play outside the gala. Thanks Regina! Rappers ain’t got nothin’ on you!

Also featured was the Aeros Quintet, who played some lively, inspired classical and traditional songs from the sanctuary. And, we watched a HILARIOUS short film starring Mary Louise Parker called The Quality of Mercy, by award-winning director Stephen Marro. You never know what to expect with short films, but this one was well directed, acted and generated a ton of laughs from the audience.

The next show is scheduled for June 6th at 8:00 PM in the gallery space. Check it out…the art is as good as any and the vibe is pure creativity. Feel free to donate too.

(This version features a little live music by yours truly! That’s CEO Greg Sturges in the white cap)

I close with this quote from Glen “Big Baby” Davis of the Boston Celtics. Glen "Big Baby" DavisI was trying to write some new music on the beach this past Saturday morning and couldn’t find my flow. Then I remembered this!

“You have to be focused…and basically think without thinking and just shoot it,” Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis (Boston Celtics) said. “Every time I shoot I see myself making game-winning shots. If you see it, you believe it. You shoot millions of shots like that, and every time you shoot it you believe you’re going to make it. And when I shot it, I didn’t even hesitate. It was just a feel.

Feel, be, be in the moment…

Peace – Todd

*Okay, I’m a little biased as that’s one of my works featured on the opening poster (Sax Player) and, a new work I created was featured as well in the show (oh, and I played a few tunes too). BUT… outside of all of that :-)…it was a GREAT show yo!

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Staying Fresh Art-Wise with the Oil Pastels (View Work in Progress!) & Michael Phelps on Swimming 4 Kidz

…I paint on my sketch pad while my son takes his swim class…staying fresh and all.  Figure practice makes BETTER (not trying to be perfect)!  Hope u enjoy.  Doin’ that funky art thing yo!

Woman of the World

These are like my C grade oil pastels so I don’t get all sloppy while trying to drive home from swim lessons.  A or C grade, painting is painting, flow is flow yo!  Someone asked why is her hair the same shape as the hut in this painting.  I honestly have no idea why!  I do know I  just love fadin’ out when I am painting so stuff like this occurs.

One of the reasons I have my son in swimming is because Michael Phelps mentioned in Sports Illustrated magazine that drowning is the top cause of death for 5 – 14 year olds.  God bless him for making the spreading of this gospel one of his priorities.  

On the Music Tip & Random Thoughts…

Met with my boy Dan Z.  today for breakfast – discussed what he hears production wise with my music.  Collab should be interesting.  Now gotta’ spring the time to meet while doing the art show thang.

 A good friend was let go at work last Thursday.  The rich get richer and the rest of the sentence don’t have to be completed.  My boy G who’s in the Army now is struggling with life stuff.  I miss my Mom but still don’t know if her passing has… hit…me… just… yet.  But – Thank God for my Dad!   Feel like downloading that ol’ skool M.C. Hammer joint – ‘We Got to Pray’.  

Peace and blessings – Todd

p.s. – I’m off to read some Christy Merry poems…spiritual therapy before I pick up my ax to practice.

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