I finally (finally!) added some pieces to my Etsy shop. I’ve had an Etsy account for years, but never actually used it. I had the intent to use it, but I’m a procrastinator (as if I had to tell you that) and just never got around to it.
I put 5 ACEOs in my shop because I’m a bit hesitant about breaking out the big guns. These little drawings/paintings are harmless and inoffensive so I thought they would be a good place to start. Just to see, you know. Plus, now that I posted them, I’m motivated to start working on pieces again. I had to take a break for a bit over a week because I was busy being consumed with finding a reliable vehicle to replace our “Rust Machine Who Likes To Eat Money”. I was successful with that, so now it’s time to get back to my own thing!
A few years ago I discovered this gem of a site “Illustration Friday”. It’s perfect for us creative cats who need a bit of motivation or fun. Because I’m absent-minded and a procrastinator, I have posted a total of maybe 3 illustrations. That’s about 1 per year! Yeah…
So, this week’s topic is “fuel”. There were many thoughts that swarmed around in my head and a few drawings were made, but I just couldn’t feel them. And then I got it.
Backstory: On October 19, 2011 the Dalai Lama lead a day long prayer and global fast in honor of the people of Tibet who have self-immolated, were killed, or are jailed for fighting for human rights. This day of solidarity was something that I wanted to participate in and while I’m not religious and have few true beliefs, one strong one is that I believe that our minds are incredibly powerful and even sending out positive thoughts/energy can have an effect. Although I’m terrible at being calm and clear headed, I chose to fast and (try to) meditate in support.
I sometimes use candles to help me focus on something and nothing while meditating. I used a tea light and as I was drawn into the flame, I experienced some slight visual disturbance – enough to give me an image. The base of the flame looked like the silhouette of a person sitting in a typical meditative position. Of course it looked like it was surrounded – or on – fire. That made me think of those that self-immolated. I continued on, but the image didn’t leave my head.
I chose to illustrate that image for “Fuel”. To me, it goes beyond thinking of fuel as an accelerant. The fuel is many things: oppression, hate, desire for change, self-sacrifice, a statement. Thinking of the ancient elements: earth, water, fire, and wind, fire was the only one that could produce a chemical change. Anything could be something else.
Nature put me out of commission for a few days and while I was hoping that I would be well enough to accomplish something productive today, I didn’t. I was well enough to, but I had a lot of cleaning to catch up on. Plus I don’t consider cleaning productive – my kind of productive anyway.
Thankfully my illness opened my head up a bit and allowed a few ideas through. I’m excited to start working on them tomorrow. Whilst in bed and unable to move, I was stuck with the t.v. I found a show called…well, something about art. It had “art” in the title. I watched 2 episodes (they were about an hour long) and although I missed most of the second episode (sleep attacked me), I was pleased with what I saw of the first. It’s about an art competition; 10 (or so) artists compete for their own show at the Brooklyn Art Museum. The first contestant to get canned was Ugo; a beautiful Frenchman whose style is similar to that of Keith Haring. Initially his piece was unimpressive and boring…lots of red layers. But then he removed the red backdrop and WOW. It seemed like it came alive. It was unfortunate he didn’t remove the red backdrop from the get-go – undoubtedly that would have saved him.
Don Vito the “Pig” is running laps around his cage and it’s loud, so I’m retiring for the night. Since I haven’t posted to this, I will leave you with a picture I drew while working as a TSR. No thought involved (obviously) – simply sitting in front of a computer, listening to people threaten to end my life because they have no internet connection. Sometimes I actually miss that job, but I think it’s because I was good at it and there are very few things I’m good at.
Those that know me have often been subjected to very long emails nearing novelette lengths. And they’re just emails. They’re filled with possible ramblings or just several paragraphs of intense thought. But still…they’re emails. They should be short and to the point.
I’ve been working on that, so now my emails usually are short and to the point, but I really have to fight off rambling and giving every detail of every thing I’m attempting to communicate. I think partly it’s because of my fear of being misunderstood. This carries on into my blogs.
When I create a post that involves a drawing, it’s much easier for me to just quickly jot down a few thoughts about the image and leave it at that. I certainly have an urge to go in depth and tell you every thought I have about not only the resulting image, but also my feelings on it while creating it and so on. What happens is I end up with a very, very long post that not many people will want to read. Plus, when I write like that it seems I get burned out. So much so that I won’t post for a very long time after. Obviously, that happens now without the burnout, but I’m working on that too!
I feel internally divided – where one part wants to share a lot with the world and be very open about everything (I think letting people know they’re not alone while still acknowledging their unique circumstances is important) and the other part wants to remain closed off, severely private and almost cold, I suppose. It’s a constant battle and whoever the victor is depends on my mood that day or moment.
The reason I’m thinking about these things tonight and writing about it is because I want to try to find a middle ground or at least a comfortable place with my posting (and myself). Presenting those pieces as I do was a big deal for me because there is a lot (a LOT) of resistance from my family and some friends about the type of work I do and it’s always been a struggle trying to feel good about myself and please them at the same time. My family likes what I do as long as it’s not what “I” do, if that makes sense. I don’t think I would ever be able to show them the works that I post here and the amazing thing is that these pieces have been very well received by others – I didn’t think that was possible. The voices of my family rotate through my head when I make those sometimes, so to hear/read positive messages/critiques about them floors me.
I know that when some people meet me and then see my artwork, their initial impression of me goes through a pretty large overhaul. I could say that I’m not a violent person; I’m actually very peaceful, but that’s not entirely true. It goes back to that division I mentioned earlier – part of me is violent and angry and the other part is incredibly peaceful and loving. That’s not to say that the work is violent though. I don’t think it is. I think the last two images I posted are actually very loving and represent an ultimate of something…maybe self-sacrifice? There are so many themes that could be applied and, if it were up to me, “violent” would be at the end of the list.
I like to keep this blog not too personal, but not so distant either. I hope I’m achieving that. I’m pretty sure I rambled…
That’s a possible title: “Kindness…” I finished this last night and I’m not sure how I feel about it. While I was still in the sketching phase, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make the male subject’s face similar to the previous pieces or if I wanted him to have a peaceful appearance. I went with peaceful and while inking it, I felt as though I had made a mistake. Now I’m not so sure that I did… I think it might work.
I am a slacker! Procrastinator, excuse-maker, etc… I was hoping it hadn’t been more than a couple of weeks since I updated with fresh work/posts, but it has. WAY more. I’m ashamed.
I haven’t really been accomplishing much as far as quantity. I have, however, finished a drawing that I attempted 3 times before. I suppose 4th time’s the charm. As usual there are several potential titles flying through my head, but at least this time there is a theme: “Dinner”.
My goal with this one was to get our female’s face and hands to emotionally match. I think I’ve achieved it. When I asked J.D. what his thoughts were, he said “Love” and I was happy.
I’m still having some problems with background. I really like using chalk pastels for backgrounds. I like the effect it offers the picture and overall feel. I’m just not always confident in my choice of colors. This one, though…it might be okay.
The process of creation is certainly a difficult one. I thought I would be quickly updating this with new pieces and progress shots, but I’m empty. I’ve been working and re-working a drawing these past several days so much that the paper has pilled and is now useless to me. It resembles a note-taking scrawl worthy of reference but not much more. Stress.
While fighting with that drawing, I had the words “Well, you’re not really an artist then” echo through my head. In my post, Messing Around With Sculpture, I mentioned a conversation I had where I was told the above line. It never left my brain…it was scorched on there…branded. I was in my hometown having a conversation with a respected, well educated businessman. He had just returned from a vacation abroad and was talking about the differences in our country’s view on art/artists to the views other countries held. He felt, compared to these other places, we didn’t respect artists, understand art, nor took either seriously. He was aware of what I did and wanted to know about my process. He wanted to know everything: why I do it, what goes through my head, what master is reflected in my work, and so on. I didn’t have the right answers for him. I think he was eager to use his new found interest and have a conversation with Michelangelo and I could only give him responses from a small town weirdo.
I told him I didn’t know why I did what I did – I just had to do it. Sometimes nothing goes through my head and it feels like I’m doodling while other times I’m so overwhelmed with emotions that I leave my brain and get trapped in brushstrokes. And then I listed a few artists that inspire me. My answers didn’t suit him. He was stuck on my use of the word “doodle” and said “Well, you’re not really an artist then” and ended our conversation.
I was crushed. I was still quite young and very, very new to the idea of the possibility that I could be an artist and I took his words as truth/fact. He was educated, after all. And he went to places that I’ve, still, only seen in pictures or had explained to me by family and a couple of friends. I was convinced that he was right and I was a fool. It wasn’t until I got out and met artists that I realized he was wrong. Because he had the Sistine Chapel above his head for a period of time does not make him an expert on what makes artists tick. He was simply a sort of poseur hoping to use his travels to seem semi-interesting to a community that is not interested. He did not want to know why I do what I do and even now, years later, I highly doubt my slightly evolved answers would suit him. He made up his mind while learning about the celebrated masters….anything or anyone less than that would be insulting and worthless.
Hopefully now that I’ve spat a bit, I can get those words out of my head, grab a new sheet of paper, and start again!
That is a working title, although I’m sure I’ll keep it. First thoughts are generally the ones I go with.
I am not thoroughly pleased with this piece. I felt that I really rushed it, especially today, and that impatience lead to a slew of problems. I intend to redo it at some point after I’ve given myself time to look it over and nitpick.
One thing I’ve been trying with these last two pieces (talking about the post prior to this one that has yet to be titled) is to play with the paper and see how tolerant it is. I use this paper a lot – Bristol Smooth. It’s one of my favorite papers to use, but I’m not so sure it’s suitable for pastels. Or maybe it’s the repeated erasing and aggressive rubbing that did it in, but not long into working the sky the paper started to pill up – mainly around the female’s head. It all went downhill from there.
One thing I like about the picture are the expressions. While the faces aren’t nearly as expressive as I wanted them to be, I feel like I still got some of it out. It’s certainly an excellent starting point for the next attempt at this particular piece.
I’m growing accustomed to this sigh I get when I finish a work – usually right after removing all the tape. It’s…relief. Pleasure. Excitement and anticipation. I like it! My rotator cuff, however, does not and is super pissed.
Finally I have finished something! A drawing, but it’s still something. I don’t have a title yet (of course), or at least one that isn’t vulgar/offensive/sarcastic/typical. That will come in time…I’m just glad I finished something for once and have that warm fuzzy feeling of accomplishment. I’m so done with it that I’m already picking it apart and seeing my mistakes, so it’s time to put it away from my eyes for a while and start on another.
I did not realize how much time had passed since my last post! I knew it was getting up there… I’ve been working on that large pink thing painting and haven’t decided if I’m actually making progress or just slapping on coats of paint. My opinion waffles, so today I only worked on it for a bit and decided to prime a different canvas. Just getting it off my easel for a little while offers a break.
Here are 3 photos, each at different stages. The last photo being the current stage, of course.