TenThousandVisions The Artwork of Michael & Violet Divine

News: Paintings

Updates, events, & perspectives regarding the state of the arts.


What It Looked Like From Here: Tiananmen Square, June 5, 1989

By Michael DivineJune 4, 2019  •  Paintings

In 1989, I was 13. In the second grade, we'd done drills in grammar school where we knelt against the wall of the school hallway with our heads between our knees because if an atom bomb fell then that was, apparently, the best position to be in (ha! as if) because the Russians were at war with the United States but it wasn't an actual war it was a Cold War and that the threat of nuclear war loomed large in everyone's minds. China was an even bigger mysterious behemoth.

But by the late 80s it seems that tide was turning and in China, students and thinkers and others wanted real change and they organized themselves and rallied in Tiananmen Square. By May of 1989, 300,000 people had rallied in the square. A reasonably detailed and fact based account can be found HERE on Wikipedia. But I remember on June 5th, this man, unmoving, who stood before a line of tanks with red stars on them. I remember the sensation as if a veil of fear were about to be lifted. I remember that the crowds of people were students. I was a student. They were young. I too was young.


Morphic Awakening

By Michael DivineMarch 29, 2019  •  Paintings

This painting was made in collaboration with Layla Love, a photographer and human rights activist. The painting is part of a show in NYC titled 'Rise of the Butterfly'.The show aims to raise money and awareness for issues around and the ending of sex slavery and human trafficking.

I have a small blurb accompanying the piece. It reads:


5 Tiny Visions

By Michael DivineJuly 4, 2018  •  Paintings

This Saturday, July 7th at the Hive Gallery in Los Angeles is the opening of a show called "Tiny Visions". Alongside the pieces below are works from Violet Divine (my amazing wife), Martina Hoffmann, Radhika Heresy, Dan Cohen and a bunch of others (maybe two dozen other artists?)

Small (tiny) paintings like this allow for a kind of intimacy of the experience. One can imagine it at 4 or 5 feet tall but instead they are these delicate little portraits of dream-like ideas and core moments.


Commissioned Portrait: “A New Perspective”

By Michael DivineApril 21, 2018  •  Paintings

"A New Perspective"
15" x 22"

A collector of my work, Eben Pagan, commissioned me to paint a portrait of him in my style. I don't do a lot of portraiture so I enlisted Violet's help and we worked together on this painting. She is more adept at creating from real life than I am. In that way, we tend to meet in the middle as my approach generally builds up from abstraction.


Summertime Paintings 2015

By Michael DivineNovember 17, 2015  •  Paintings

Years ago I got into a kind of creative flow that went like this: winter was when I worked on large, detailed paintings while summer was for getting out and doing things and events and traveling and the like. I found myself painting and sort of hibernating during many winters because life feels quieter and more internal. It's helpful for allowing my mind and body to settle, focusing on the finer details of my work. Come summer - when life bursts with exuberant busy-ness, I'd pick up and go out and share and be more social. During those summer months, I often plan out a course of paintings to work through the winter - a general game plan, if you will - a setlist of paintings - and return to the studio.

It's like a moebius strip where I would go far enough inwards in one direction that I'd eventually circle back in the opposite direction… and then far enough out in the other direction, and so on. Back and forth, round and round.


The Dorky Painting

By Michael DivineJuly 16, 2015  •  Paintings

Back in 2003, inspired by a chapter of The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle, I painted "The Dorky Painting." The book is one of my absolute favorite books ever. It's a hard to describe little book. But it's a perfect book if you're into that sort of thing. As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in the introduction "It's like an egg: everything that is supposed to be in there is in there." There's really nothing else like it. So this painting is based on one of the chapters in the book - "Dorky Day". I can't explain it - you just need to read it. Broadly, however, it is a chapter about clearing the cobwebs from the mind. This painting was made to help clear the cobwebs of my mind.

In any case, on a whim the other night, I looked up Mr. Kotzwinkle's website and sent him a link to the painting along with a short note of thanks. Below, is his response.


Recognition/Compassion (St. Francis)

By Michael DivineMay 21, 2014  •  Paintings

St. Francis - he always seemed to be around when I was growing up. I had a St. Francis nightlight of glowing yellow translucent porcelain. A two foot tall concrete statue of him lived in the garden. He was over our big console TV, as a cross stitch on burlap or something - some coarse material. It was made in the 70s. In that image, St. Francis was walking outside and had a bird in his hand. I remember, too, a rabbit, another bird flying, and a butterfly. The stitching was sparse but there he was.

So he was around - the image and idea of him anyhow. But who was he, to me, growing up? Of all the characters of Christian pantheon - and I heard about plenty, having been raised Roman Catholic - he seemed to be the least mythic and the most human. He was a simple and gentle man, a monk, who loved nature and walked amongst the animals and saw the Divine in all things.


Fire Paintings from September 11, 2001

By Michael DivineSeptember 11, 2013  •  Paintings

On September 11, 2001, I was living in Burlington, VT - painting, enjoying the coming autumn, etc. I didn't have a TV (still don't), never listened to the radio (still don't) and the internet was still just a plodding dirt road through the hills - not the information super highway it was to become. I woke up that morning with a desire to paint big red fiery paintings. I had a couple of large pieces of masonite - a 4' x 4' square and a 4' x 2.5' rectangle - and a few cans of red, yellow, orange, and purple latex paints. So around 8 am, with a cup of coffee, I went at it. The diamond/square painting I called 'Phoenix.' The other was 'Unsquaring the Circle' and felt like a great release of energy. A few hours later, I went for a walk downtown. In bars and restaurants and everywhere it seemed everyone was glued to the TV. There was a strange lull in the air - a strange quiet tension. I poked my head in a pizzeria on a corner and heard the news. In one fell swoop, one great unsquaring of the the circle, a whole new demon was released. And a whole whole lot changed. There was a lightness that died that day. A bubble that burst. Things got more serious. From economic crashes to endlessly costly wars to intrusions of privacy and the slashing of civil liberties to an endless stoking of the fires of fear. It's a different world than the one I knew from the 90s. But life goes on. Fear begets fear and light begets light. Everyday it's another deep breath as we keep moving forwards