Art That Blows

Art That Blows is an annual fundraiser to raise money for Band of Angels, an organization that collects used musical instruments and makes them available to kids who couldn’t otherwise afford them. The instruments that are too far gone to repair are given to artists to re-purpose into artwork to be auctioned off at the live event, which usually takes place in July. Learn more about the organization at

I started creating paintings for this event in 2019. All paintings are grouped by year below, but meaning explanations and extensive progress photos are included in each individual post as well.



This painting is 1 of 5 in my V series. Each piece represents a unique skill learned by practicing, then mastering, a musical instrument.

Diligence is the first skill required to learn an instrument. There’s an awkward, this-is-hard phase of learning how to place your fingers, read music, learn timing/rhythm, then do all of those things at once. It requires perseverance to reach a basic level of proficiency, which is when this new skill begins to blossom.



This painting is 2 of 5 in my V series. Each piece represents a unique skill learned by practicing, then mastering, a musical instrument.

While creating Traverse, I had the idea for a smaller version of this with violins. I decided to explore that concept in 2022, so I sketched out a series of 5 pieces that will ultimately represent 5 unique skills learned by practicing, then mastering, a musical instrument. I worked on both V1 (Diligence) and V2 (Exploration) this year, although Exploration was the only one completed in 2022.

This piece represents the idea of play, creativity, exploring possibilities. Bright and exciting, it encourages the arrangement of color and shapes in the same way you might play with scales, chords, or a second (or third) instrument.



abstract, aesthetically pleasing and playfyl.

Instead of an intellectual exercise, this painting began as an abstract experiment – a last minute realization that I could create a simple abstract piece instead of a complex visual story (I simply didn’t have time for my planned piece this year). It ended up revealing my love of surrealist geometry and was a fun weekend project.



forward movement through the landscape of life.

For Traverse, I decided to continue the journey theme from last year. This time around I had 6 months to spend working on it. It makes 2019’s series of 3 from look particularly impressive (1 month start to finish), but this painting was logistically challenging, as you can imagine. Worth it. Click the painting to read the full story and see progress shots.


Transcend / Trajectory / Transformation

rise above, find community and continual growth.

2019 was the first year I participated in Art That Blows, which was an interesting process for two reasons.

  1. I came in late, with only a month to produce all three of these paintings.
  2. I generally only work from inspiration. It was challenging to choose objects, then manufacture an idea to express with them (it’s usually the other way around). I chose xylophone keys, clarinet screws, flute keys, trombone slides, and a few other items that didn’t end up being used.

I began this series by thinking about what it is that Band of Angels actually does, on an interpersonal level. What’s the long term, emotional impact of giving kids instruments or sending them to band camp?

At minimum, it’s teaching them a new skill–the ability to play an instrument. Learning that skill requires practicing, which is an engrossing task. It’s hard to think about issues at home or in school when you’re running through scales or trying to play something by ear.

It’s empowering to see progress, to watch a new skill develop, especially when you’re watching that unfold with other kids in a band context.

Band of Angels helps kids transcend their circumstances and provides community with a positive trajectory. The resulting confidence and new identity as a musician creates opportunity for growth and transformation.

That thought is where the series began: the first painting is Transcend – rising above present circumstances. The second is Trajectory –community, cross-pollination and forward movement. The third is Transformation – the process of dynamic continual growth.

For progress shots, specs and a more detailed essay on each piece, see the individual post for that painting.

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