Mini meltdowns and overload of thoughts generally = focus and plans in the aftermath. I guess I’ve honed the skill of turning breakdowns into something useful over the years. The overwhelmingly trapped feeling gives way to “fuck it, I’m going to do some stuff, and I’m going to write it down so I KNOW”. So, that’s that. March and April seems to be the time that happens for me, lately. I don’t know why exactly, but I’d be willing to bet that the sudden feeling of living in a perpetual winter or perpetual deadness (no leafs or flowers get old) has something to do with it. Growing up in perpetual spring and summer makes the never-ending winter scary I think. I never know when to put coats away, or when it’ll stop being monochromatic. I know there’s green in June, but any time before that is sketchy and does weird things to my psyche.
and tell myself what I really need and what my motives are, I get this.
And then my brain feels really sheepish about it, like maybe it’s really lame and I’m incapable of mattering or doing things that matter. I think it’s just upset that it kept it hidden and in the shadows for so long, because it feels so scary to say it; and to name the things that drive me and have driven me since I went down that slide in the playground thinking I could be a hero like Balto when I was three.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” ― Dr. Seuss
I’d like to go to Cardiff, in England, and travel in the TARDIS on the Doctor Who set.
(drawn on my iPad using Paper, and a bamboo iPad pen)
I’ve wanted to be an art journaler for a long time, but every time I started I’d stop. I think it was because subconsciously I never really felt good enough. I loved other people’s art journals – in books, with loads of paint, or collages. But I’ve never really been able to do that (I can’t bring myself to write in books) and I wanted my journal to look cool too, so I sort of just got hung up.
A few days ago, I discovered The Art Journaler and their April prompt which somehow made it okay. Then, yesterday, I was hunting down a letter to tape to my journal-journal with another letter and I stumbled across some of my old notebooks from 2009 on. As I flipped through them, with the rambled notes and illustrations in the corner I realized, I’d been art journaling before I even realized I was an artist. And it wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t collage-y or dedicated (I had business ideas, math, sermon notes, and random marriage notes in with my thoughts) it was mine – and my art has improved a lot since then.
Which somehow made me realize something. It’s just a journal, and I don’t have to compare it and it doesn’t have to be like anyone else’s and it doesn’t have to be worthy, because it already is, because it’s mine. So lately, I’ve been toting around my pentalic recycled drawing book that I got on vacation last summer, and my sign pen markers I got for christmas; and drawing, coloring, and writing whatever prompts me, whatever thoughts I have in my head, and whatever I feel like I need to get down before I lose it.
If it’s particularly lengthy though, I have my shiny “live free” notebook my sister-in-law gave me for christmas that I’ve turned into my journal-journal. Pretty notebooks make good journals.
Last night I went to an artist panel hosted by the local creative arts association that I just joined. The topic was basically how we write ant talk about art, and how we *should* be and what ways are helpful to engage the public. We had a journalist, historian, and a director from a gallery that works in tandem with MECA.
We talked about how art is a business and how culture/art and the economy go hand in hand. Art festivals are great because people who wouldn’t usually go to a gallery will come and be exposed to the arts. We talked about how the arts in Maine are changing and picking up speed, how many people really do care about the arts even if their not vocal about it, and we talked about how there are so many opportunities to learn, or to teach and make it all accessible.
What struck me
We talked a bit about how to know what good art is and how a lot of that is subjective. How people today have advantages to “build their eye” because we can see everything on the internet. Not just art, but subconsciously, design. How the biggest thing we can do to develop our “eye” is to keep looking. everywhere. cartoons, internet, books, galleries, fairs. Art is everywhere and becoming more and more accessible. We can learn anything we need to with the tools that we have at our fingertips (not to discount classes…). But, we need to start a dialogue. We’re not used to having honest discussions about art, and we should be having those conversations.
I wrote a lot more in my notebook that makes sense to me, but I can’t translate it into a coherent post separated from the context in the ink strokes. I write in lines, and when I see them I understand the context and the subtext on a subconscious level, but getting that out of the lines and ink and into words on a screen takes a while of chewing and musing and letting the words create themselves.
Shortly after my meeting in August I went through my old notebook and wrote down a few things about my art – what movements I identify with, what I’d like to improve/want to see, and what I need to do.
my art is inspired by:
idealism – art is imagination, psyche over body
mannerism – perspective less important, idealized figures
romanticism – authentic, intuition, non utilitarian
post/impressionism – not telling morals, follow own vision, emotional
aestheticism – art for the sake of art, subtle moods/color
post/modernism – exploration of vision, noticing the world changing, art is imperfect
futurism – new and vital, celebrates technology
to have more depth in my figures so they look less flat. To learn how to create more convincing backgrounds and how to create glowing effects/more luminosity. To learn how to shade better
to practice and research everything I want to get better at and understand.
It must be a weird thing, because I trust my ability to find things on the internet more than my ability to find what I’m looking for in a book. I think my biggest fear is: a book, is a book, it’s there, it’s not changing or updating, I could find a book that could be erroneous or horribly outdated and I wouldn’t really know. I could get an art history book that’s huge, but might have less accuracy because of the time and viewpoint of it’s writing. So I’m weirdly more apt to trust a google search and look at multiple sources and hope that I get a more whole view. The problem is finding out where to start. I did a search on VanGogh last week, I guess I’ll just search for things as I feel like I should learn about them and when I’m inspired to look up particular topics.
Anyway, after the meeting I feel a mix of self conscious in my creating and validated in my quirky methods (cartoons/tv + internet). I’m still very much trying to bridge the gap and everyone in that room has been creating for years, and I presume, have closed that gap. Although, I suppose, I shouldn’t assume that. Then again, I was the youngest in the room, and I’m pretty sure I’m the youngest in the group. I have so much to learn, and honestly it’s a bit intimidating. Doesn’t help that I have this thing where I jump between different things, which is great for me because then I learn a variety at once, but hard when I need to figure out what to start first. Maybe I’ll make a list of things to research and then go through that. It might be easier to do if it’s not “RESEARCH ALL THE THINGS!”.
If you’ve made it this far without being bored from my rambling, thank you. With that I’ll leave you with a bit of something I wish I remembered more often. From Pinterest.
Today I was listening to a 4 part youtube series by Ira Glass that was just….REALLY good for anyone doing *anything* creative. Most of it had to do with story telling, which was great as it pertains to my screenwriting, but something else he said – something about bridging the gap, really struck home. I’d found this saying on Pinterest before, but didn’t know where it came from until today.
I’ve been dealing with a bit of frustration myself. I see images so clearly in my head, but there’s a huge gap between what I want it to look like and what it does. Something’s lost in translation and I’m not good enough yet to paint more than echoes of what I’m really thinking, let alone being able to describe with words to people who ask, what it is that I see and what I want my stuff to look like. There aren’t words for it that make any sense in order and the best I can do is look far away and blush and say something that is the closest I can describe but really doesn’t match what I mean in my head to begin with.
“photorealistic” is as close as I can come to saying I want my paintings to have more depth and natural-ness. But I don’t want it to look….real. Actually, I specifically want it to not look real, I just want the things in the scene to look more real-ish. I want my characters to be more than flat outlines. I want the painting that I’m working on right now (writing while the layers of gesso dry) to look as clear and glowing as it does in my head. It probably won’t, and when I’m done I’ll be fine with that. But I decided today, after listening to the youtube thing, that I don’t care how long it takes me, I’m not going to stop, I’m going to work hard, and eventually the paintings I see in my head will make it to the brush in my hand – the movie that I see when I close my eyes will make it to my screen and I’ll be happy with it.
I realize that this should have been posted last week, and we should have moved on further by now, but I ended up spending most of last week tired and internalizing rather than reading. I finished The Everyday Work of Art and Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain yesterday, and went to the library to find more books. They didn’t have any of the other books I was looking for, so I decided to immerse myself in fairy tales and explore fantasy more.
I was surprised at how well The Everyday Work of Art and Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain went together. Admittedly, the ideas in the Everyday Work of Art were more helpful to me as I found new ways of looking at the world, and in a way better understanding my process. I’m going to do a longer post on this in the future, but let me just say that neither of these books are written solely for “artists” in fact, they’re actually probably better suited for people who don’t think of themselves as artists. Because both of them explain differences in thinking, and allowing yourself to be creative and explore even if you don’t think you are or could ever be.
I’ve found, that when I applied the ideas in real life – even in mundane ways (like noticing the shape of tree branches, or the way the water flows in the sink, or the different feel you get when you hear something without seeing it, and then seeing it) I’ve enjoyed the day much more. Just by being able to take time out to allow myself to experience and immerse myself in the life around me (even if it’s boring, or just watching a movie).
So, I went to the library with the intention of bringing home some art theory or technique books and didn’t really find anything that called me, so I went to the Young Adult section and picked out three books that encompass worlds I want to explore – The Night Fairy, The Last Unicorn, and Faerie Wars. The first two were recommended to my be friends, and the last I saw at a bookstore and was practically calling me, so when I found it at the library I decided it was probably calling me for a reason….
The other thing I did yesterday was switch the room our bedroom was in and move the studio into it. It took a long time, but I actually like it better, and now the studio is sort of becoming taken over with film equipment, or it will be before the day is over. I slept so much better in the other room. I think having only *one* window facing West as opposed to two facing North and East might have something to do with it. So in trying to keep the studio as empty as possible, I moved the furniture that previously occupied it into other places – the bookshelf looks nice in the hall, and my art supply chest is holding the fat-tv in our bedroom (instead of the night stand, yay!) – so I guess actually, that didn’t really move. I also had the clever idea of putting the dresser in one half of the closet, and hanging the clothes and housing the clean laundry basket on the other side – it looks really cool, and surprisingly Alex likes it too. I cleaned out/re-organized the closet in the living-room also, and now all that’s left is to recycle the boxes I was using as nightstands and do something with our old iMac box.
Maybe it’s weird, but I do a lot of creative thinking when I’m trying to re-arrange stuff. I like the challenge of figuring out the best place to put things and which way it would look better. I put a lot of thought into it, and end up using the spatial-awareness part of my (right) brain which is sort of fun for me. I also don’t re-arrange extensively on a regular basis, so when I do it’s actually enjoyable. Honestly, the last month or two have been the most that I’ve re-arranged since we moved into our apartment over two years ago. I like it better this way.
Yesterday I started a Thing-A-Week deal for my shop. I’m listing or featuring one item a week for a discounted price with free (or very cheap for international) shipping. Alex actually came up with the idea and I thought it was sort of brilliant and would be fun to try. So I decided I’d start off with my watercolors that I’ve been working on and listed the portrait of The Doctor I made last month. The deal only lasts a week (and then there’s a different one) so check it out.
Also, I sold my Sexy Tardis ACEO to someone in *Australia*, which was very cool. I’ve never shipped internationally before. I had two Forever stamps and one ten-cent stamp.
I took a well deserved break yesterday and spent the day playing the xbox and hit the books again today.
I read some more about perspective (and how to draw it) in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and internalized more of the Everyday Work of Art. Most of that I’m still mulling over – learning, experiencing. So many things about the way I think and my approach and art are starting to make sense in my head but unable to actually verbalize them.
I’ll leave with this thought though: Beauty is the experience you have with something that resonates with you. The compulsion, the calling out – and under it all lays Wonder, and the discovery and journey to notice, create, and experience life to it’s fullest, is art.
With isms finished I devoted my afternoon to reading a few more chapters in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and the Everyday Work of Art.
In DRSB I learned about using negative space to see objects and force myself (in a way) into using my right brain. I did most of the exercises in the book – including cutting out the “negative space” of a drawing and taping it to another piece of paper to see the outline of the image that I drew. A practice in seeing negative space as shape. I then used that piece of paper to create a viewfinder to practice the idea with a chair.
I also learned how to draw my hand and my foot – while neither they, nor the chair are perfect, they are improved. At least, in the way that I usually think about drawing them. I’ve sort of…re-learned how to draw by altering my perspective just a little bit. It makes me happy. Now though, I’m busy looking at things and seeing the negative space around them.
Friday was hectic, but I managed to finish most of the Modernism section of isms and today I finished the book with Post Modernism. Interestingly, Modernism in general seemed to focus more on the impacts of the sub/unconscious while Post-Modernism seemed to focus more on the idea and concept of art and stemmed from opinions about modern society.
I feel happy about having a basic understanding of art history, and I realized that there was *alot* more to it than I was anticipating. So I probably won’t be doing a sample of *every* movement/style a week. I think that I’ll pull one or two of the most interesting per-era and study it, and then paint.
Art History isn’t the only thing I’ve been reading about. I’ve actually been really surprised and excited about how well Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and The Everyday Work of Art go together. What I’m learning though, I understand but can’t quite put into words. It makes sense to my artistic soul but can’t be explained. I’m still internalizing and only halfway through each of the books. Maybe, by the time I’m done with them I’ll be able to write about some of the things that stuck out and just made sense to me.