Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Self Help Selfie

As a lover of self portrait photography, the phenomenon of the "selfie" is fascinating to me. For anyone who doesn't know what a selfie is, it is a self portrait taken with usually a cellphone which are appearing all over Instagram and Facebook. There is an argument that as a society we are very self focused and promoting yourself on social media in this way is only adding to it. My question is perhaps this self focus can actually be used powerful way.

I've recently been re-reading Susannah Conway's book This I Know and she speaks quite a bit about how experiment self portraiture can be incredibly healing. With all the self portraits you take, she advises, there will be some you will look at and say, "Well, that's not half bad." As a woman, I know how incredibly empowering it can be to look yourself in the mirror and be comfortable with what is staring you back in the face, when society is constantly pointing out what I need to "fix".

Admittedly, there was a long period of my life when I was not at peace with what I saw.  As a teenager and in my early twenties I was extremely self-conscious. I aways looked in the mirror with a list of if onlys. If only my nose wasn't so wide. If only my eyes didn't squint up when I smile. If only my face were more narrow. If only I was thinner. Now that I am much closer to 30 than I am 19 there are times when I wish I could go back and shake that poor little girl to tell her nothing at all was wrong with her.

Two weeks ago I was experimenting with lighting and self portraiture when I took one of those, "Hey, this is pretty good" shots. In this face I don't see flaws; I see a person. The lines at my throat from almost 28 years of bending and a deep parenthesis carved into the corners of my mouth are badges of who I am, not something to be worried about. I'm happy I've gotten the opportunity to age. Not everyone has been given the luxury. I'm curious about the other badges I'll carry in the next 30 years. I can assure you, I will have earned and enjoyed every minute of getting them.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Filling the Well and Letting it Rain

Since my long vacation from blogging it has taken me awhile to get back into the habit. Chuck Close once said, "Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us get up and work." Hard work is 90 percent of being a creative. However, there is such a thing as getting burned out. The most difficult thing about being an art school graduate is getting over the exhaustion that comes from working in a studio to make your dead line and getting every work you created picked over in critique. These are valuable experiences that push us to grow as artists (and as people!), but after five years making things lost the joy it once had.

After graduating I didn't paint for nearly two years. I drew some for my science illustration class in grad school, but other than that: nothing. For the last few months I've been itching to work creatively again. The problem is that, I let my well run dry. When you get out of the mindset of creating and plug yourself into just getting up in the morning to log one more twelve-hour shift, it can, quite honestly, drain the life out of you.

Beat it.

Don't let the bastards pull you down.

Get out there. Do what you love and surround yourself with what you love. The more I gorge myself on reproductions of my favorite paintings, wonderful books, and endless nights laughing it up my band of misfit toy friends, the more I want to create. If you want to your best work to rain out of you, you have to be full of something to begin with. Make sure it's good stuff.    

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Air, and Light and Time and Space

A little bit of progress on the whole book thing ^ So I've been brainstorming for a proposal, and I realize the reason I make excuses so I never finish any creative project that I start. I always want to wait for "that" day, "that" opportunity, "that" studio space, or "that" computer. If you're reading this right now and doing the same thing repeat after me STOP. Don't make excuses. It doesn't matter if you don't know what you're doing yet, just do something! I bought a yellow legal pad and just started writing. It's just one page and sketchy, but it's something. That's what have to keep doing everyday to survive creatively and otherwise.


I found this fantastic poem by Charles Bukowski a few weeks ago on Brainpickings.org that really illustrates what I'm talking about. For those of you who know nothing about Bukowski, he is a poet who basically worked twelve years in drudgery for the US postal service. He smoked, drank, womanized, raised all kind of unimaginable hell and I just love the old guy. In all the time he worked nights sorting mail he still wrote. He worked 12 mind numbing hours a day and still wrote like a boss.  The blue collar inspiration to the rest of us working stiff.

Air, and Light and Time and Space
”– you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,
something has always been in the
but now
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
the light.
for the first time in my life I’m going to have
a place and the time to
no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
you’re going to create blind
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.
baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses
-Charles Bukowski 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Next Big Project and Goodbye to My Car

Well, my yesterday homework for Blogging From the Heart was a little bit delayed due to my being in a wreck coming home from work. Don't worry; I'm okay. I just need to get a new car because mine is basically totaled. The day wasn't a total loss because I came up with an idea. Last week I talked about wanting to write more and I think I've found my perfect project. I love reading stories and listening to podcasts about how artists or creative business people start from the ground up. I asked myself: why aren't these gritty, wonderful stories being talked about more?

I would love to write a book sharing these stories. I think it would be incredibly inspiring, especially now in an economy where it seems as if the only stable way to keep a job is to make it yourself. The issue comes up of my story. Well, I don't feel like I have much of a story just starting in. That's the fun of it, isn't it? When I started on this journey I didn't feel like I had much of a story, just another person who just finished college and couldn't find a tolerable job that used their skills. Then again, I guess that is a story.

Historically, I am notorious to never finish anything that I start. Perhaps, keeping this blog up with no more long hiatuses will give me a measure of accountability. The same thing applies to my paintings and all the other unfinished stuffs that I keep myself occupied with. My grad school thesis is the only huge thing in my life that I've actually accomplished, but, then---I kind of had to do it to graduate.

I'm excited to see where this all will lead. More later.

Also, here are some photos of my poor deceased baby of a car :( It will be sorely missed.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Making Mission Statement

"The act of making marks is perhaps the most basic human instinct. Drawing is what makes me human. My art keeps me sane. It is such a release to me. I cannot see myself doing anything else in my life other than creating art and learning about it. Art helps me communicate my emotions better than using words. I am a visual person at heart. I do not want to merely  project my own emotions on paper, I want to inspire emotions in others. My goal is to pull the viewer into my work and invite them to feel what I am trying to say about the world visually. I want to evoke a sense of empathy with my work and the type of feelings I portray in my drawings and paintings. When I do this I feel successful as an artist..."

This was an artist statement that I wrote nearly years ago during my second year of college. It is the second time this passage has shown up in my blog. A year or so ago I was visiting my parents and my mother had dragged this little scribble on printer paper out of an old folder shoved way back into the guest room closet. Bluntly put, my creative side of my brain is what keeps me alive. My art is mostly about me and my experiences . The blog I keep is my way of sharing those experiences with people who can relate to them.

As part of my Blogging from the Heart course, I've been thinking about my mission statement or purpose for my blog. I've also been listening to some of Marisa Haedike's (one of my bloggess heros) beautiful podcasts on her journey to becoming a successful artist. She frequently discusses how it is sometimes rare to hear the story of failures and "paying dues" from someone who's made it. I think it is important to talk about those experiences, because that is what makes you as an artist. I also believe that it is important for artists who blog about their journey to be transparent about where they've been. With that transparency, experiences can be shared and communities can form. 

That is what I want my blog to be- a catalyst for an community of growing artists.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Entering the Online Community

Blogging from the Heart

The next six weeks I will be enrolled in Susannah Conway's Blogging from the Heart e-course. I am fiercely excited about being able to do this. This is the first actual e-course I've ever taken where I will have a chance to interact with other people (my classmates) online. I love learning and connecting with new people, so needless to say this is a treat. Also, since grad school my "I want another degree" bug has been itching again. I've been turning the idea of getting an MFA in painting around in my head since before I got my education degree, but opted getting a degree I thought I'd have a better chance getting a job in. If money were no object, I would be in school my entire life. After enviously watching nursing majors studying over huge text books with high-lighters in  hand during my post crack-of-dawn workout coffee runs at Starbucks, the need to take another class has been pounding in my brain.

My visual arts side is asleep for a bit, save a few downtown figure drawing sessions and cartooning while watching Disney movies. My hands want to write. They want to type and get smudged up with ink. Technically, if you count my thesis I've already written a book. It was a major accomplishment and a creative light bulb. I thought "Hey, if I can write a 150 page thesis I can write a real book!" I've been dabbling with ideas for children's books, self help books, fiction, and...eh-hem...fanfiction. This past week I grabbed a few Moleskins from Target and spent about two hours analyzing sentence structure in Charles Bukowski's Factotum. I really want to write something that matters, but I don't know what.

Blogging here has been my self-publishing outlet, but there are many times when I go months with hearing any comments or interacting with other bloggers I feel disconnected. For someone who spends so much time online reading blogs and what other people write, I'm admittedly a bit of a troller. There are some wonderful bloggers that I have been reading for three years that I have never sent an email to. I'm fascinated by the idea of "internet" friends, but just really don't know who to go about making any. I feel like the girl new in school. 

I'm hoping that by joining Susannah's course of creatives I can get over it and make some lasting creative connections. After graduating art school the internet is a great place to start a hub of like minded people, even if the place you happen to live doesn't exactly have your niche of creatives. That is the beauty of the internet. After you get past all the bad Youtube comments, cat pictures, and memes it can be a powerful tool to start little communities. 

Cheers and happy Sunday. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Things I'm Afraid to Tell You

No, this isn't going to turn into one of those "I'm still alive" posts. I took a deliberate break from the blog to focus on putting my life back on its rails. After months of being unemployed I finally secured a full-time job in the seasonal department of Hobby Lobby.  I must say that for an ex-sculptor it's pretty fabulous work. I get to design visual set displays all day long and research craft trends for ordering. Along with that, I've been doing some free-lance art commission that I'll be posting about later.  

First off, I would really like to thank my readers and the artists who have let me write about them and their work. It's been a real privilege to interview these fantastic people. People are actually reading what I'm saying on here. I checked my referring page stats and I was surprised by the amount of hits I have received on this blog in my absence.  I love blogging and hope to keep it up for a long time. 

My title for this post and graphic comes from one of Marisa Haedike's posts on her blog, Creative Thursday. I thought this would be a great way to enter back into the blogosphere. (Not to mention the title is perfect for Halloween.)  The "Things I'm Afraid to Tell You" posts are actually not a new idea in the blogger world. In fact, they were prompted by a movement that inspired bloggers to be more honest about their lives beyond the photoshopped and perfectly graphic designed world of design and lifestyle blogs. While I try to be as honest and inspiring as possible, sometimes I fall into the trap of trying to make every post perfect and maintaining a publisher quality veneer. The following list is a few little tidbits about myself you might not know.   

Here goes:
  • Last February, I quit my first real job as an art teacher. I've never quit anything in my entire life and I still have some guilt in regard to that decision. It was extremely to admit you are not cut out for a career field that you have two degrees in. I'm still like to think of myself as an educator of sorts, just not in the traditional classroom sense. Honestly, I doubt I will ever teach k-12 again. I still love learning and always will and I love sharing that with other people. I just need to find my platform. 
  • Professionally, I have no idea where my life is going. This is an offshoot of my last point, but I feel like it's an important one to address because the main point of this blog is to be a transparent look to other people trying to live a creative lifestyle or are just starting out as artists. Now that I look back on my college career, I feel like I was just coasting along in a path that I thought I should take because out of all the art careers that I felt were available to me, it seemed like the most secure. I've come to realize the unsecured path is the one I want to be on. It's messy and stressful at times, especially the point where I was unemployed, but it's been a great journey so far.  
  • I like getting older. I secretly wish I was in my 40s, because in  my imagination, I see women in their forties as people who have a clear grip on who they are and accept themselves. There is just something seasoned sounding about being in your forties. It's a point where you have a substantial amount of life experience, but you're still constantly learning and changing. I'm getting closer to that kind of freedom now that I am entering my later twenties (I turned 27 a few weeks ago (!)
  • I don't like the way I "sound" on this blog. Finding your voice as a writer is tough business. I feel like I write very clean and sterile on here. My favorite writers are the gritty, raw hell-raisers of seventies subculture fiction like Charles Bukowski, Raymond Carver, and Hunter S. Thomson. I've made a conscious effort not to do lot of cursing on this blog because I want it to be something that can be shared with everyone. However, my regular vocabulary is usually peppered with a few choice four letters for a little enhancement. 
  • I write and enjoy fan fiction. I have been for nearly fourteen years, to be exact. Of this list, that is probably the biggest one I'm afraid to tell people! My personal favorites are well-written fan stories adapted from 90s cartoons and Star Wars. After keeping it closeted for years, I've finally established an account on fanfiction.com. While it sounds really nerdy, I see writing from media that already exists is only another form of a writing prompt exercise that improves your writing overall. 

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