The Big Tree

This week was Spring Break for me (and the rest of the University of Missouri). Not that it really felt like much of a break. I honestly don’t remember what it’s really like to just be free. I don’t begrudge my responsibilities – much to the contrary, I’m grateful that they’re things I believe in and understand to be meaningful. Yet the freshness of just being able to BE… well, I guess I’ll have to experience that vicariously. 

One of the ways I see that “astonishment of being” taking place is through the experiences of my daughter. This week when we took her to see The Big Tree near Columbia where we live (here’s the Tree’s Facebook page) she was pretty excited. 


A group of shots of her at the base of the tree.


And with mom out in the field nearby…


…she picked flowers for the first time!


A pretty nice view.

Overall it was a good, joyful day. I’m blessed by the delight in her eyes at moments like these. I’m hopeful that we can let Miranda just experience being alive for as long as possible, before the cares and responsibilities crowd out wonder.

In Which Mrs Dudley – My High School Art Teacher – Visits

I got a surprise text from my wife last night – she’d received a call from my high school art teacher, Mrs Dudley, to let us know that she and her husband were in town and wanted to see us before they continued on down I-70 eastward. I’ve carried on old-school letter writing with Mrs Dudley ever since high school. She was the first outside encourager of my work. She got me into my first shows, taught me about framing and matting, and was the first to purchase my more developed work once I was a few years into undergraduate school. 

Mrs Dudley and me.

Hanging out with Alison and Miranda

Chasing little Miranda Grace in the hotel lobby

The Dudleys getting ready to head back out on the road – set to visit the Arch today

Keep in contact with the people who helped you get started on whatever road you’re on. One of the best things I ever did was to never forget about Mrs Dudley, to keep her informed, and to respect the artful way in which she’s continued to live her life. If a teacher ever made a big difference to you, write to them now. It’ll make a huge impact.

The Iranian Lighter

One of my graduate students – from Iran – brought a lighter back from a recent trip back home. The lighter, crafted by a street vendor, is covered by a mosaic of individually placed pieces of gold leaf, wood, paper, and flakes of glass or stone. See the image below – I’ve shown a detail of the design and two different sides:

It’s a strange mix of “high” and “low” – the lighter itself is obviously mass produced, but the hand-made feeling of the design seems really considered. It is interesting to have this device that produces light and heat share designs that are related to those that animate great structures such as the Sheik Lotfallah Mosque, seen here:

Muqarna in Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque

Do a google search for this Mosque – it’s really astoundingly beautiful. Thanks for the lighter, Zeinab!

Exploring Possibility

Jill Hicks of the Columbia Daily Tribune wrote a piece titled “Exploring Possibility” that ran on Sunday, March 18, 2012. The article follows Allison Reinhart, a student who’s been a major presence in the Art Department here at Mizzou. She’s currently taking an independent study with me. We’ve worked together in the past – most notably on this film by the inimitable Keith Montgomery – and she’s one of my favorite people at MU.

Jill quoted quite a bit of my thoughts on working with Allison. It’s really nice to find that you’ve said something that really rings true and you have to work to live up to it. I feel that way about this particular passage: “…making accommodations for my students isn’t an area of ‘special’ or ‘additional’ effort — it’s the way it ought to be,” […] “All culture-making is about access. When we — as institutions or individuals — legitimize the denial of access to those who wish to participate, we’re functioning as gatekeepers and operating in illegitimate systems of refusal. As an educator and person who deeply believes in the value of university-level teaching, I don’t want to be a part of that.”

Thanks to Jill for the great article and to Allison (and Gina, and others!) for being thoughtful, dedicated students. No, I didn’t say inspirational… Allison wouldn’t like that. :)

The Huffington Post Includes my Work in a “Top 10 Best” List

I was gratified to learn that The Huffington Post included my recent essay on Richard Diebenkorn, written for neotericART, in a “Top 10 Best” listing! The piece, written by Brett Baker of Painters’ Table, cited my work immediately after Raphael Rubinstein’s “Provisional Painting, Part 2.” This was excited to me, as Rubinstein’s original text on provisional painting was a catalyst to my thinking in my piece. Here’s the takeaway quote:

“Artist Matthew Ballou’s piece “Diebenkorn: Provisional Action, Provisional Vision” finds surprising and convincing connections to this kind of provisional approach in Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park paintings” – Brett Baker for The Huffington Post.

Thanks, Mr. Baker! Painters’ Table is awesome! Read my essay at neotericART here!

Chromatic Intensities


Glory in Color Drawing 2

Marcus, the Assistant, casts chroma

Null’s large drawing in anamorphic distortion

The array of shadows in Color Drawing 1

And another view…

The box, electric.

Did I mention that I love teaching Color Drawing? Epic, every semester. Stay tuned for good shots of current students’ works.


“Both Sides of the Brain” Mezzotint

I was invited to be a part of Aaron Coleman‘s traveling mezzotint exhibition. The show, scheduled to travel to at least 4 institutions, will begin its run in August of 2012 at Northern Illinois University. I’ll keep everyone posted as more information about these shows becomes available. Many thanks to Aaron for including my work! Here’s a peep at the finished piece, titled Agathokakological. Click the image to see it larger.

Mezzotint (Charbonnel ink on Zerkall paper), paper size 10.5 by 13.5 inches. 2012, edition of 21 (19 numbered and 2 artist’s proofs).