Archive | September 2013

Behind the scenes and commentary

Maybe I should present my artwork in a whole new way. Right now I’m thinking that I should start adding my sister’s comments to my work whenever I post it on Facebook. For instance, I showed Lori something I was working on today and she said “I’m not going to lie, she looks like she’s been crying and her mascara is running, and she went crazy on the blush.” Don’t worry, my sister and I get along well, probably because I’m not prone to anger. I just said that colored pencil make-up is like theatre make-up, you have to put it on heavy sometimes. Not the most brilliant of defenses, but then I don’t have to defend myself against anybody since I never professed to me a great artist. Just a fairly good one.

I also like the idea of including doodles that inspired the image. I could make a whole scrapbook out of it, each image with it’s own page, including image, background info, doodles, and comments. Most comments I get tend to be a lot more positive than my sister’s.

Have to finish

So… I’ve been working a lot lately on this story-thing that I’ve been writing. I was really proud of myself, I got up to 15,000 words. However, after that point I wasn’t sure what to write, I finished covering all the parts of the story I actually had planned. My sister read it and did not have much of a reaction to it. I’m looking at my latest artwork and I’m a little annoyed with it, but it will be finished. This seems to be an annoying part of the creative process. At times you find it’s just not as brilliant as you thought it was or had the potential to be, but you just have to finish it anyway. I keep wondering why creative people put up with this. From what I hear from others and as part of my own experience, I find that it’s because they can’t stop. Maybe they’ve tried. Maybe they’ve more than once seriously considered giving up their music profession in order to get a ‘real job,’ for instance. But they can’t, their art won’t let them. Beethoven’s art wouldn’t let him take his life, even after life took away his hearing.

I don’t mean to compare myself to Beethoven by the way, I’m just illustrating.

I really wish I had a bit more positive reinforcement about my work. The problem is that I also tend to be very suspicious about all of the nice comments I get on my work. People are polite, or easily awed, but I can never actually be sure that they are impressed.

I’ll find a place for my art in this world someday. And I will one day be able to write stories.

Why I’m excited

Life is in one of those up moments for me now. Not because something big happened or anything, it’s just been good. For one thing, I’ve been writing. I’ve played around in creative writing for over four years, but I’ve never really had a completed story. I have such a hard time getting an entire story down, I just get bits and snatches of dialogue and stuff. But this time I’ve been working on a story, and I’ve got over 10,000 words on it– about 20 pages. That’s a lot for me. Of course, it isn’t really good, but I’m not going to bother worrying about it. The important thing for me is that it gets finished. That’s been my goal for such a long time. Like a nanowrimo thing. Some of the characters are fun.

Also, I’ve begun a new image. The problem is, I really don’t know how I’m going to do the background, I just drew the characters. People are some of the funnest things to draw and color. I’m really enjoying working on one of them, Bree. She’s a fun character and one of my favorites to draw. Still, it makes me nervous to have the background unknown.

I’m going to keep drawing and writing. I lack skill, but I love doing it, and I don’t really want to be doing anything else.

 

Her outfit is going to be based on this doodle. It’s her outfit for Phoenix Day (New Year). In her world, they use a phoenix motif for the new year, because phoenix’s stand for new life. Bree herself is the leader of the Red Wings, a name based on the phoenix, because her goal is to give the people of the world new and better lives. She takes in a lot of strays under her wing so that they can have new lives.

 

“I wish I could draw as good as you” syndrome

One of the common reactions I get when people see my artwork is, “I wish I could draw as good as you.” It’s deeply irritating to somebody like me to hear this, because to me it sounds like what they’re really  saying is “I wish there was a way for me to draw as good as you without spending as much time and energy to get as good as you are.” Yeah, wouldn’t that be great. It would kind of be great for me as well, but the fact is that I couldn’t figure out a way to get could without spending the time and energy, so that’s what I did. After all, it’s not as if I was born with this talent, it came with blood, sweat, and tears. That’s all I had.

But I don’t want to completely disregard the idea that innate ability or natural talent exists. After all, Mozart started composing when he was four. If somebody wanted their child to become as good as Mozart was at the age of four, time, energy, and practice wouldn’t be enough. However, I would submit that while there are people like Mozart, and those with natural ability to a far lesser extent, most of skill comes with a lot of time and energy.

I personally like the idea. This is because I don’t think I have a lot of natural ability when it comes to writing or coming up with stories. But I love stories so much, that I’ve been dabbing into creative writing for a long time now. I figure, if I just keep working on it, surely something must come of it. Surely I’ll be able to create a story eventually. Because work yields fruit. It worked with artwork, why not creative writing?

It’s agonizing though. It’s agonizing how slow developing creative talents is, how draining it can be. Right now, I’m trying to create a story. And I’m doing it by rewriting something I’ve already gotten considerably far on. It’s so sad, taking apart all those hours of labor and starting up again. What gets me is how long it’s taking me to get where I am now, and that’s even when I’m off-track for about five months a year. All things considered, I have a lot of time to spend on getting better at this sort of thing, and yet I still have so far to go. It’s torturous. But I have to believe that the sacrifice will bring benefits. Self-discipline, if nothing else. It takes a lot of intrinsic motivation to do this, after all.

 

Brush off the dust

I was a little cranky yesterday. But I found that even while I was feeling discouraged, I couldn’t keep ideas for future art projects from coming to my head. I didn’t want to stop doing artwork. I can’t quit. Even though I don’t always understand why I’m doing this, even though I struggle at times, I can’t bring myself to stop. I may as well keep going full speed ahead, especially since it takes me so long to learn. But I’m thinking that maybe if I do watercolors, those might get done faster than colored pencil, so I can improve more rapidly in that area at least.

Ah yes, along with that image I was rather disappointed with, I posted this on Facebook.

 

 

This was a watercolor work I did not long ago. It was inspired by a couple of desktop wallpapers that I have. Remember that I try to find inspiring images, and then I make them into desktop wallpapers, and I set my wallpaper to change every minute or so, in order to receive all the different images I find inspiring, and keep thing going through my head so that I can incorporate them into my artwork. Some images were watercolors that with a really simple sort of backdrop, which seemed to me to create a dreamy sort of atmosphere, a kind of space-less environment. Another image that influenced this work was a screenshot I took of the trailer for Rise of the Guardians, when Sandy is using his sleep dust to form giant golden dinosaurs. It’s nice to have this image, especially since it didn’t take much work or time to do.

I’m going to keep doing artwork. Somehow I’ll find a place for it in this world.

Needing encouragement

So… I finished that image that I’ve been talking about lately. The one that’s been giving me so much trouble. After all that work… the  scanner didn’t pick up all the different shades of red. Would it sound juvenile if I said “so it looks stupid”? I’m beginning to doubt my abilities. My artwork never amounted to anything much anyway. Sigh. Could there please be something that I succeed at? Besides academic achievement? Maybe it would have been better if I had gotten myself a real job, instead of indulging something that looks suspiciously like a fantasy.

 

Yet… I want to keep doing art. For a while. I’m just going to go back to what’s comfortable and fun for me. I’m going to try to do some images that are more people-based than environment based.

 

I still could use some encouragement. I want to feel like I’m contributing something, like what I’m doing actually has value.

Beautiful morning

This artwork remains difficult. It could almost look good, almost. But the important thing now is getting done.

 

It’s so nice that life doesn’t have to be monotonous. Nature conspires against such things. Today it decided produce a beautiful sunrise, and a rainbow.

 

 

The struggle

This current project is being a real pain. It’s so slow, and difficult. When I first start coloring, I can get into it and keep it up for a while, but if I take a break and revisit it, suddenly it’s nothing but tedium and I can’t do it. What I really need is something else to work on so that I can feel like I’m being productive while I sludge through this project.

So I did work on something else today, a little video project for an event I hope will happen within the next year. Unfortunately, that won’t keep me occupied for as many days as this current artwork will. So I’m considering starting another art project, but I really don’t like having two going on at once.

 

I continue to try to… ‘live in the moment,’ I guess. That’s never been one of my strong points. But I do know how to enjoy the simple pleasures. Right now that’s being able to open my window and have some cool, fresh air in my room. I plan on taking a walk later today and bringing my camera. Hopefully I’ll get some nice pictures for you.

Fall’s flights of fantasy

The air’s getting cooler. Fall is my favorite season, my very favorite. When I was younger I took an especially romantic view of it. Fall, I decided, was the time when magical things happened. The trees change colors, the weather becomes more temperate, and the harvest brings treats like pumpkin pie and hot chocolate. In my mind I’d add that this, of course, also made it the best time for dates, going on walks, and setting aside time to read a new Calvin and Hobbes comic book, wrapped up with a blanket and well stocked with peanut butter-cracker sandwiches. In one of my old journals I described this tendency of mind as a ‘flair for the theatrics.’

 

Nevertheless, I do like to indulge in these little flights of fantasy which get to ignore certain parts of reality, like paying for Fall semester insurance and the fact that my little brother is still struggling with his health. It’s good to believe that something wonderful might happen soon, for no other reason except that it’s Fall, which is my favorite season and therefore full of magic. Any little excuse to be a kid again.

 

This year already has great potential. My brother is coming home from his mission in October. So, for a time at least, we’ll have our whole family together again. And though I have read all of the Calvin and Hobbes books there are, I have found another source of the wrap-up-in-a-blanket-and-enjoy-some-comedy variety of entertainment; Studio C season 3 begins in October as well, dedicated to providing clean comedy to be enjoyed by the whole family. We will undoubtably visit the indian mound near our home, especially when my brother comes back and we look for ways to spend time together. It’s a beautiful place, and even more so with the turning of the leaves. Plus, if my brother is back by that time, I can use his camera– which won’t have a broken LCD screen like mine does. This is great, because I’m hoping to get lots of good nature photos for a project I have in mind. Treats seem likely enough. And when the kids get a break from school we’ll have even more time to watch movies together and play DDR and have girl nights. After all, I still need to get my Mom to see Sherlock, and to get my youngest sister into Sense and Sensibility and Emma.

 

The fun thing about the future is that it hasn’t happened yet, so there’s no reason not to believe that you’ll get at least one spark of that magic.  The trick, I believe, is being aware enough to notice when you do get those sparks. I hope that people, in their passionate pursuit of intellectual progression, don’t forget to school their sensibilities as well. We miss too much in life if we leave out those parts of it that make us human.

 

Finished listening to The Screwtape Letters by the way. Well worth looking into. I would recommend them. My brother has previously recommended Merely Christian to me. The Screwtape Letters is the only work of C. S. Lewis’s that I’ve read aside from the Narnia books. It’s a shame, because I think at this point in my life I would find all other works of C. S. Lewis’s to be far more interesting than that series. Don’t misunderstand, they are good and valuable books which I think everyone should be exposed to. They are, nevertheless, aimed at a younger audience, and I find myself eager for a higher level of engagement than they provide.

 

Why I journal

It is difficult for me to explain fully why I journal, since it has applied itself so usefully for many various purposes. And yet, it is difficult to give specific illustrations and examples. Rather than one big pay-off, the benefits of journaling have found their way into the small little details of my life, and in many subtle ways have added substance to my character. Unfortunately, I think that journaling is an undervalued art. Had I the eloquence of the old poets, with the same capacity to move an audience, I would try to persuade them to journal as well that they too can reap the benefits.

 

 

I think the initial problem most people face when journalling is that they don’t know what to write. I certainly had that problem when I first started out. This was because I was under the impression that a journal was where you were supposed to write about your day, and I didn’t think my days were interesting to write about. My life, I concluded, was rather unexciting.

These days, I find the concept that a person could have ‘nothing to write about’ completely appalling. Perhaps writing about their day would be boring to them. That’s fine, I find my days tend to be boring to write about too. But think of when you talk to people. You talk about what you’re interested in. And if your day was nothing special to talk about, that doesn’t keep you from holding a conversation. You talk about a movie you really like, or about your family, or a funny story that happened, or why you’re having a bad day at school. Many topics of conversation would work as well in your journal. If there is nothing you enjoy conversing about, or you find you don’t have anything interesting to say to anybody else, this suggests to me that your life needs some adjusting.

When I journal, I often use it to discuss problems that I am having. Writing about what I’m going through, “venting”– if you will, is theruputic in an of itself. I can express those feelings I try to keep under the surface so that they don’t negatively impact my actions. Putting them down on paper means I can adress those feelings in a controlled environment where no one else need suffer any consequences. But journalling really becomes useful when you move past the “venting” stage, and engage in dialectical thinking, which is examining a problem or situation by question and answer. For instance, the question might be “What am I feeling?” “Why am I feeling this way?” and “What are some possible solutions or plans of action that I can take?”

This takes a more proactive approach to the trial in question. Therefore, journalling can help provide solutions rather than allowing you to just wallow, as people are so apt to do. Or, they take the escape route, and try to get rid of their problems by watching a movie or listening to music. I believe these activities have their place, but they can only get you so far. Journalling confronts a problem, and helps you work your way through it.

Then there are times like these, when I fell I have found insight, or have stumbled upon an interesting idea that I think should be explored. Journalling is particularly important with times like these, and should be used in conjunction with pondering. Meditation or deep thinking on a subject is invaluable, yet our minds are often led to distraction and even cherished thoughts tend to be forgotten. Journalling while we ponder, however, helps us focus, gives us direction, and keeps a record of our thoughts, so they can be reviewed and not forgotten. We are arrogant indeed if we think that our every flash of insight will be deeply recorded in a memory, and we therefore have no need to write it down.

There is one subject about journalling, however, which I still struggle with. Should we jounral for our posterity, our should we focus on our personal reasons for journalling? In the past I have found issue with the idea of journalling for our posterity. For example, there are some who feel they have a tendency to ‘self edit’ when they think that what they write will be viewed by their children and grandchildren. Editing seems to me to completely defeat the purpose of journalling, which ought to be a safe environment where they can explore thoughts and emotions. Censoring what is written may cripple the benefits of journalling, because you’re no longer being open and honest with yourself. For those reasons, I believe that journalling should be a very personal and private thing.

However, I think there are some things that could and should be shared. I’m compiling a record, which takes the best stories and experiences from my journals, the portions that have real value, which I plan to preserve for future generations.