Thursday, December 15, 2011

Boots on, woken soldiers. The enemy is at hand.


I get to play music tomorrow night with Simon Lynge and Greg V. Undertown in PT, 8pm. Come join us and check out my show on the walls around the place. I must recommend the coffee infused PT stout they serve.


Been a long time, been a long time, been a long, lonely, lonely, lonely...

What can I say?

My last blog post was sometime during the Spanish American War. My bad.

I've been busy.

Here is our one month old boy and his fam.

photo by Starre Smith
 More soon?

Hope so.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Ghetto Cowboy and the real revolution!

Ghetto Cowboy is riding free. Candlewick's release of Greg Neri's novel this fall could not be timed more perfectly. When I was working on the illustrations, all I could think of was how much I wished something like the uprising in the book, would happen in my country. And it has. And it is.

To hear so many shouting out a phrase that I have said many times in my life feels great.  It feels like perhaps this will not be a passing phase but a real momentum that good, every day people can get behind. I stand with the 99%!


This is not new. This is as old as it gets.

If we look to many so called religious conservatives, we inexplicably see them defending the oppressors and the evildoers, rather than demanding justice for the downtrodden. Their pitifully thin veil has begun to unravel to the point that there is no hiding the truth any longer.

This is the best of the ol timey religion. Helping your neighbor. Turning the other cheek instead of calling for vengeance. DEFENDING THE WIDOW AND THE FATHERLESS instead of crushing them down with your calloused heel.

This is a movement of people standing up for their lifestyle, their values, their morals, their convictions. If ever there were a time to stand up against the antichrist, this is it.

 This is simple.

This is love in action.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Hanging with my good friend, Brian and his little man.

Above: Birthday Parties by Faith. A true genius when it comes to parties. Here the kids are making their own mini frosted donuts. Cheerios with whipped cream and sprinkles. The cutest little things ever.

Speaking of cutest little things ever.

Gnome Style

Boys' Day!

When will I get to do swim lessons like my sisters and my cousins??


Ninja Style

Uptown Street Fair

Monday, August 08, 2011

Little Wing. Big Book.

Hey. What's the word? Jimi.

I can't believe I am so late in doing this. I wanted to write up a sweet review of the amazing Jimi: Sounds Like A Rainbow, by Gary Golio and Javaka Steptoe. Well, I missed the train and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, NY Times Bestseller list, Kirkus Best Children's Books of the Year, etc, etc, etc, ... anyway, you get the picture. This book is on FIRE>>>>>>

Go check out Gary's site:

He has got a new book out about Bob Dylan now, an upcoming 2012 book about one of my all time favorite human beings ever to feel the breath of God, John Coltrane! A kid's picture book on JC. Life just got a little better!

Anyway, I am really digging his work and I think you should, too.

Lemme leave you with a little taste of something special, alright?



Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Work

The Absolution of Man. John Coltrane
24x36" $800

Full Blue. J.J. Johnson
44x16" Framed $750

Sad, Old Duke. Duke Ellington
25x31" $800

24x36" $1020

Father Drum. Art Blakey
18x24" $500

 Dreams Courtesy of Bill Evans
12x16" Framed $400

 Far Sight. Bob Marley
20x16" $500

 Buddy Guy
36x24" $600

 Ron Carter
20x20" $550

Corey Harris, Dread inna Delta
16x20" $480

 Devil Music. Robert Johnson
24x30" $888

 Dizzy Gillespie
24x30" $800

36x24" $980

 Strong Arm of Elvin. Elvin Jones
33x21" $730

Fusing. Fela Kuti
18x24" $580

 The Gears of Mingus. Charles Mingus
20x16" $500

 Passing of the Ruler. Gregory Isaacs
20x16" $400

McCoy Tyner and the Rest of Us
27x24" $750

 Miles Away. Miles Davis
16x20" $550

14x23" $530

 Thelonius Geometrics (updated 2011)
24x30" $800

 Queen Nina, Muthaf*ka. Nina Simone
12x12" $300

Screams of the Paper Doll. Billie Holiday
16x20" $400

 BlueBeck. Dave Brubeck
30x24" $580

 Son of the Delta. Son House
20x16" $400

Taj Mahal in Port Townsend
35x20" $800

Painting the Sounds of America
Jesse Joshua Watson

This body of work is part of the story of our music. Just one small part. Though in school we are presented with a history that is much more centered around wars, this history is as vast and intriguing as it is fundamental to our development as a culture. The story of our music is the story of us.

For my part, I did my best to fall into the music and become absorbed by it. I tried to allow problems in to the paintings so that I could adapt and improvise visual solutions, in the same way jazz musicians find sound solutions. I felt myself getting caught up in the moment, that fleeting, timeless instant of ecstasy. 
To purchase artwork, go see the work in person at the Public House in Port Townsend, or you can email Jesse directly:


Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I am breaking from my session, paint wet on my fingers and now keyboard, for a short minute to write down this thought rattling in my tranced out head. I have been painting furiously. No sleep. No eat. No. Nothing but the work. Work.

As I should, I allow the subject matter to inhabit my studio, my ears, my eyes, my bed, my bones, my fate and my soul. In this body of work, mostly centered on jazz musicians I love, I find the subject matter cracking the casing from which I used to create within.

I wake whistling horn phrases from Sonny, Wayne, John, Miles, Louis. I organize my paints in terms of pitch rather than color. The music roots down.

Jazz: The moment. Right now. Not then. Now.

I choose to become the art I am creating. History is crucial. The more I study, the more I ask. The more my paintings evolve. And expand. I have tasted the tip of the iceberg and I want more yet know my limitations. It is for the prophet alone to dive headlong into the unrewarded. The old paintings I did of jazz musicians were scratches on the surface. So are these. Yet, with these I see the man scratching. I may not penetrate but I know more this time around. I feel more this time around.

Jazz: Adaptation. The greatest human achievements begin with a problem. I throw problems onto my canvas. Then I adapt. I take a painting already finished and I strike through it with pink. Then I turn it on its head and start from scratch. But never from scratch. That old painting, disfigured and dismembered is the foundation for the new work.

All great music stands on the shoulders of another. There is no Miles without Dizzy. There is no Dizzy without ... There is no one source. There is all.

There is John Coltrane.

There is God.

Why do I need my painting to look just so? I have a camera. Why don't I take a damned picture if I need it to be just so? This is not about you. This is about me. This is my life and so this is my art. If I hang up thinking about you I will never let the real me out. So I go.

Jazz: Allow it to be what it is. Instead of polishing tunes, Miles releases Bitches Brew, which is a documentation of a group of individuals adapting and improvising. The documentation of the journey to discovery. Are there pieces they wish were different? Of course. But that is why it needed to be recorded. For us to see them struggle until they found the solutions. And so this art, I let be. I work as hard as I need to on some aspects, while leaving the impressions of my struggle on the rest. And in this I find great peace. Great satisfaction.  I learn.

I unlearn.

I choose to forget.

I release my fear. My knowledge. My lack of knowledge. I release everything except my ability to improvise right now. Right now.



Thursday, July 07, 2011


Watch this short film and pass it along!

Then visit the campaign website, here.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Old before the New

This vid was down for some reason this past year, but I just found it up on Youtube again so I am sharing it again.

This video represents a decade of focus on a subject dear to my heart.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Surprise, surprise.

I am stoked to share this video and images for our new WeGiveBooks campaign in Haiti. But... I gotta wait till I get the green. Light, that is. 

Soon, though. I promise I will post it just as soon as I am able. 

In the meantime, I will share a piece I have been thinking about for a few weeks. It has grown on me in its simplicity and narrative.

I was painting for Brian's CD cover. Brian is a very old and dear friend so I didn't want to screw this up. So, I did a number of paintings to find my way, and this was one that came out quietly. It was too young for the music, but as it sat in the corner of my studio, it began to grow in my mind as a piece that magically expresses my feelings toward this field of children's book writing and illustrating. 

Most of this work is done in the dark. 

Possibilities, hopes, dreams, pipe dreams,  delusions... all created by the luminous writer/illustrator while the rest of the masses slumber. 

Most of this work is done in the dark. 

No prospect for success, let alone compensation. Yet, we advance. We crawl together like the melted bits of that one bad guy in Terminator 2. We crawl in the dark. We persist, against all odds and, truly, against common sense. We bloom in the desert. In the dark. We shine bright at night. 

We explorers of the unborn. 

The unborn idea.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Blog? In Summer?

Yeah, well. Just so's you know. I realize I am as absent as my ex-blogger brother, Ben. But it is summer. Or just starting to be. And when the sun comes out in these parts, writing some forlorn or dire blog post sounds about as much fun as mowing with our rusty push mower.

So instead? Pictures. That will have to do. Until the cloud blanket is pulled back over my resistant head.



We went on a sunny day- treasure hunt- drawing walk

Right out of the gate and we found treasure!

Gross treasure, but treasure nonetheless.

Battle Royale. Worm vs. Scary looking bug (Let's call it Pinchy). 

Detailed drawing of the battle.

Nettle Whackers

Treasure number 2! Jackpot with all this death. I tell ya. Boy Heaven!

Baby blessing from the soon to be Ex-Youngest.

My boys love painting as much as I do.