Tag Archive | Art

Life gets interesting

Well, I’m procrastinating on my homework, which is a shame, because I’m usually good about keeping that up. Yesterday was bad, because I got caught up in a new activity.

It started when I found out I wasn’t giving a talk in Sacrament Meeting after all (which I was a little miffed to discover), so I had to reformat the talk into a lesson plan so I could still use it for my Final project in Religion class. While I was working on it, I got the weird idea to create a visual for it. After toying with the idea, I came up with this:

 

It was also my first time working with sort of overlapping images. Remember I’m doing this all without Photoshop too, this was created using Pages. Once I made this, I had to do some experimenting to see what else I could do.

 I’ve been doing some creative writing as well. This is not a good time to get caught up in spurts of creativity, Finals are coming up. These next few weeks are going to be really important to my grade. Nevertheless, I am grateful to have been able to explore, at least a little bit.

2013 review

This year was… quite the experience. Especially during the school year. I don’t know if I can say I’ve ever experienced higher highs and lower lows within such a short period of time. On the one hand I made some wonderful new friends, was able to share my ideas and artwork with others, got an opportunity to teach Sunday School (something I’ve been wanting to do for a while), got good grades and was able to get a full-tuition academic scholarship, was able to buy myself a new computer when I needed to, and had some of the best movie nights ever. On the other hand, the work load was heavy, a friend disappointed me, I’ve never felt more envious in my life, there were times of loneliness and confusion, and when all was said and done, there was nothing I wanted to do more than go home.

 

Except that I couldn’t go home. Because there was a family reunion scheduled for that side of the country two weeks after school let out, so I spent those two weeks vacationing with my grandparents. In the end it was about a month after school that I was finally able to be home. I was still trying to recover emotionally. I needed time alone, but I never got to be alone. I was always in a car or in a tent with somebody else. Camping is not how I generally like to spend my vacation. I don’t quite understand the allure of going out of your way to use an outhouse, freeze to death at night, and live out of a suitcase. When I wasn’t camping, I was on the road, visiting distant relatives I’ve barely met before, or looking at various historical sites and canyons. The canyons were great, by the way, but going to three different canyons in three days was a bit much for me. How is it that my grandparents have higher stamina than me?

On the other hand, during that vacation I was introduced to Sherlock and I got to watch a live performance of Les Miserables.

 

Things at last stabilized when I got home. There were still bouts of loneliness and bitterness, but I was in a safe environment. I could pursue my own projects. In fact, I consider those homemade audiobooks to be one of my great triumphs this year, because I tried something different and expanded myself. I learned new things. And while I was working on it, I was able to be deeply focused in that project, and I could forget about everything else. Other than that, I also did a couple of art projects that I am proud of.

 

In 2013 I learned that things don’t always go the way you expect and that people sometimes disappoint you. But life goes on. There is pleasure to be had at… creating and teaching, the way it expands you and the way you find you can contribute to other people’s lives. I loved 2013, really I did. But it hurt sometimes, and it was hard, it challenged me. I guess that’s alright, because that’s what I asked for. All in all, I’m glad it happened.

 

One last thing, I wanted to do a tribute to some of the artwork I did this year. I hope I will create more and better artwork in the future.

 

Bigger than ourselves

So… I guess I sort of came up with a story idea before drifting off to sleep last night. I was thinking of the Headless Horseman, because of something I read from I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett. Then I decided that the Headless Horseman was really a life sized wooden doll created by toymaker Dross L. Mire (drosselmeyer). It was Dross who got rid of his head, in a story similar to that of Beethoven’s when he wrote Eroica, his third symphony. He had originally named it Buonaparte, in honor of Napoleon, who he saw as a hero. When he discovered that Napoleon had declared himself Emperor, he went into a rage and tore the title page of the symphony (whereupon “Buonaparte” was written) in half. I don’t know how I would go about actually typing this up into a story, but I might give it a shot.

 

I received an email from my brother yesterday. We were discussing art, and he said “It’s an almost funny thing trying to figure out where our ideas come from as it’s more a case of an exploratory journey our mind takes.” I was glad he said that, because it goes back to an idea I’ve already related to you– that I consider art to be more of an exploration than expression. Sometimes when I here why other people like to do art or creative things, many times younger people or people who haven’t spent as much time in their craft, they say they like it because they can “express” themselves, and I guess that’s true to a certain extent, but it’s also a bit lacking. I feel like there is more to art than us taking something out of ourselves and putting it out into the world in visual form for others to find, that seems to me to put too much glory in ourselves. But if we are also searching, and then invite others to search with us by putting out that visual form, then I think we’re reaching for something bigger than ourselves.

That yearning for something bigger than ourselves is, I think, part of being human. That’s why humans gain so much from the arts and humanities, that’s why they feel more complete when they connect with their family and reach out to their community to serve others, that’s why people sacrifice themselves for what we believe in. I think it’s something God put in us so that we can reach our full potential and fill the world with light.

 

What I learned before the semester

It’s been a wonderful Saturday-before-classes-begin. I read a great Terry Pratchett book for one thing. It’s strange to think that someone can can write something so… deep, but still keep it light- if you know what I mean. Terry Pratchett, even though he has written so much, manages to keep bringing in new insights and truths. He just seems to me like such a… deep thinker. But more than that, he is able to express that in his writing, like that’s it’s natural place. I like to think that my thoughts will also find their way into the world. Perhaps not in the big way that Sir Pratchett does it, but I like to think they will set up shop somewhere in a small corner of town and that people will benefit from the time they spend there.

 

Anyway, I also did a little bit of artwork. Something really simple and quick. Actually, the idea came to me yesterday. I was listening to a conference talk and doodling with an ink brush. I decided that my favorite doodles were the stick figures. I have a special place in my heart for stick figures. A lot of the times when I show people my art, or say that I enjoy art, they say, “I can draw stick figures,” in mock triumph as if that were something to be ashamed of. What’s wrong with stick figures? That’s how I started out. And anyway, I liked the way the brush seemed to give the stick figures… character.

So I did a little something on the back of a spare index card. It was supposed to be these shadow-stick figures dancing amidst flames. I associate dancing with flames, both have the same raw energy that cannot be contained or controlled (let’s hope Len Goodman doesn’t hear me say that). Unfortunately, the result was that it looked like I was setting my stick people on fire- like some sort of apocalypse. Normally, I like to let the viewers come up with their own conclusions about my work, but this time I hope they realize that my goal was a happy, energized sort of picture.

 

At the end of the day… I’m still asking the same questions I’ve been asking for years (“What is it I’m supposed to contribute anyway?”) and I’m giving thanks for the same things I’ve been giving thanks for years (“Thank you God for good books, and people who write them”). I’m excited for the new semester, but always with that teaspoon of anxiety. I have no doubt that things will work out however, and I just hope that I’ll be able to find out where myself and my talents fit in the grand scheme of things.

 

1,000 words

There is a site I visit every once in a while, called authors magazine or something. Anyway, they have a lot of interviews with various authors, which I find interesting. They had a short video with advise from Lisa See, her recommendation for writers is- whether they’ve been writing a long time or for just a week, to write 1,000 words a day for five days in a week. It doesn’t matter if what you’re writing isn’t good, it just needs to get out there. Don’t put writing on hold while you’re waiting for inspiration.

I think my usual reaction would be “easy for you to say.” But I think her advise has merit. I might even give it a shot, now that I have a ‘sort-of idea’ for a story which I’ve been writing. I’ve talked of it before, the plot is almost nonexistent, but it all connects… loosely. I think the important thing is that  I finish, rather than I do a good job. After all, I’m not expecting my work to be any good at this point, I just want it to be done.

And you know, I think that’s a good way to start. I remember when I had to do a watercolor for a collage art class. I was upset with myself, because it didn’t seem any good to me. But thankfully there was an encouraging student teacher. “How many watercolors have you done before?” he asked.

Oh. I hadn’t done a lot. Maybe two works in High School. Of course I wouldn’t be a brilliant water color artist. Likewise, I’m not going to come up with a brilliant story right off the bat, I’ve never done much in the realm of creating stories.

Actually, there are a number of similarities between my experiences with watercolor and writing. Both seemed like daunting tasks. But nevertheless, I’ve dabbed into creative writing. I’ve dabbed into watercolors as well. I intend to work more on the latter when I can. There’s some things I want to try- including further experimentation with salt glazing and layering with colored pencils. As for writing, I hope to find time during the semester for that.

 

Plot bunnies

There are times in life when I am on my knees thanking God for my great imagination and creative talents. There are other times when I can’t imagine why anybody would want to be a writer or an artist- it’s so painful at times.

I have expressed to you before the difficulty that sometimes exists when you live in a family with a lot of writers. You begin to feel out of the loop. At first it wasn’t so bad. Consider when I was twelve, for instance. At that time, it was pretty much just Mom who was writing. So when the extended relative asks you if you’re going to be a writer like your Mom, one can feel pretty comfortable in saying ‘no,’ quite confidently. I still say it with with a fair amount confidence. “No, I am not going to be a writer.”

But am I going to write? That’s a harder question to answer.

I’m older now, and most of my younger siblings have shown an interest in writing of some form or another. And in recent years, plot bunnies have been invading my mind. I think it’s safe to say they started their attack my junior year of high school. They’re just fragmented ideas or characters, nothing of real quality or substance- nothing has even ever been complete. And I want them to be complete, so that I can write them down and get them out of my head. But they just stay up there.

For the most part, they are good company and I enjoy having them. They help me get to sleep at night and keep me from getting bored. But it can go too far, and every once in a while you want to get them out so you can think of something else for a change. One wonders if the solitary writer is just an illusion, what they’re really after is getting fictional characters out of the house and into the world where they can be the reader’s problem.

Art is different. I can complete artwork, for one thing. Besides, artwork doesn’t invade my head unbidden. Not typically anyway. I might be unusual in the sense that I don’t pre-visualize my art that much or very well. I sort of get an idea, and then figure it out as I go. That’s not so easy for me to do with writing. As a result, I tend to think more kindly of art as a hobby than writing. Even though I think the end result of writing is cooler to have.

On the other hand, I’ve only been dabbing into creative writing for four years are so. Art I have been practicing… pretty much all of my life. It is the one hobby that has stuck with me since childhood, unlike scrapbooking (which I gave up on) and journalling (which I got into after I gave up scrapbooking). Nevertheless and notwithstanding how much I enjoy art, I don’t consider it the be all and end all- also it’s a pain sometimes. I don’t want to stop there, and writing would be where I’d go to next. I’ll keep dabbing into it, it’s just that every once in a while, you stop and wonder why anyone would chose to put themselves through it.

The different goals

Sometimes it occurs to me how people vary in the goals they set. For instance, the one might set a goal along the lines of, “get a book published.” Whereas mine sounds more like, “Actually come up with a story, and write it.” And some will challenge themselves to become skilled enough in their craft that they can make a fair increase in their Etsy store. My hope: to create artwork that I don’t get ashamed of within a few days of having it as my desktop wallpaper. Oh, and having a few sales on Zazzle would be nice. Better if it was not sold to myself or a family member.

It would be nice to think that my skills could one day be marketable. But I think I have family members who believe it of me more than I do myself. Right now, I’d be satisfied just to come up with a story, or create artwork that I don’t have to shudder at a year later. But I do also want my work to be useful. Surely there are ways. If I got good at movie making, maybe I could create book-trailers for my Mom’s e-book store once she has it set up. But it doesn’t seem likely to happen- I’m not as in to movie-making as I am with other things. There are so many elements that go into a movie as it is not even funny- video clips, music, scripting, cinematography, how does one keep track of all of that and get good at it?

So my first and foremost goal is to get good at something- probably art. As for creative writing, I haven’t even got a story- so I can’t go so far as to actually try to be good at writing. A story must exist first, and I have such hard time with those. But I like to think that I’ve made some progress in the last… oh, four years that I’ve been dabbing into it.

Just give me another twenty more years of my life, then maybe I’ll have something.

Inspiration and creative environment

Your environment really does have an effect on you. It does. And I’ve always loved the idea of living in a creative environment. You know, like writers or artists say they like to collect nick-nacks because that’s one of those things that puts them in a creative environment. Well, I don’t have much by the way of wall decorations or nick-knacks. But I too experience that desire for being in a creative environment. So… I go hunting for a bunch of desktop wallpaper

For the past few weeks, I’ve just used the desktop images that come with the computer. I don’t like it. Nothing stimulating at all. So generic. I wanted something more personal and inspiring.

So I’ve been on the hunt for desktop wallpaper images that might inspire me or put me in a creative mood. For instance, I have an image from Paperman, the animated short at the beginning of Wreck-it Ralph. It is the CUTEST animated short I have ever seen in my life. So darling. And I liked the graphics. So that’s inspiring to me. So is Tangled and Brave. But I also have things like… impressionist paintings. Or american romantic landscapes. Van Gogh’s Starry Night, I’ve always thought that made a cool desktop wallpaper.

It’s fun to kind of reflect and find out what you find inspiring. For me I said Disney. Broadway Musicals. Graeme Base picture books. The Piano Guys. Beethoven’s Last Night. Calvin and Hobbes. Mythology and folklore. Pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope. It is so much to think of these things, and so important. I think that inspiration is something essential in our lives. So it’s wonderful to have that in one’s environment.

A tribute to 2012

First of all, I would like to make it known that I pride myself in the fact that I’m up before 9:00 today.

I’m not really one for making New Years Resolutions, since I’m usually resolving to be better quite frequently as it is. Always I’m hoping to be more productive, more wise, more healthy (though perhaps that could do with some work). So what I’d really like to do today is talk about the good things of 2012. See, one of my Facebook Friends made a post somewhere on the lines of “Good riddence 2012,” and couldn’t help but think ‘isn’t that a cheery way to look at life and begin the year.’ So I’m going to talk about the wonderful things that have happened in 2012.

First of all, I finished my second year at BYU-I. With that has come a number of good things. One of them is that I finally declared my major. It’s good to be able to say “I’m a Humanities Major” instead of “I’m undecided.” But I think one of the best things is that I’ve met SO many good people. My Ballroom Dancing friend, my D&D friends- one of whom would visit with me on occassion, ward members, classmates, and of course my fabulous roommates! One of them has graduated and moved on to lawschool, and I am so happy for her! But as for the rest, I should be able to see many of them again this year!

Also, I saw some wonderful performances. Extravadance was great both semesters (but the first one was extra special, because my roommate was in it. And then of course, I saw a Gilbert and Sullivan comedic opperetta (The Mikado) live! I also discovered The Piano Guys and have enjoyed watching their YouTube videos, as well as Lindsey Stirling’s!

Furthermore, my sister wrote a story in 2012. A story that included some ideas that I came up with, so that was kind of special. I’ve gotten better with my artwork, and I’m starting to get better at creative writing. I’ve spent quality time with my family, including a couple of great hikes. Also, I’ve made pizza for the first time without Dad’s help, and I’ve tried a new recipe. Plus, there’s all the great movies I watched this year; Brave, Thor, and  Mirror Mirror, as a few examples.

The fact is, it’s been an awesome year. Not perfect, of course. When is it ever? But it has been great, and I’m looking forward to what this year may bring.

Actually, the words that are coming to my mind are words from a song in Fiddler on the Roof; “And if our good fortunes never come, here’s to whatever comes!”

Happy New Year.

 

Now as a footnote, I’ve decided it’s a good thing I made that calendar for myself yesterday- because so far I have severe doubts that anyone else is interested. I talked with Ben about my artwork again, and he told me that working toward a certain goal or project is what will help me qualify. I’ve been worried about ‘getting good enough’ before I work on something big, but he would say that working on something ambicious (though only spending as much resources as I would be willing) is what will help me ‘get good enough.’ There is some sense to this.

However, I may not have much time to do artwork while I’m in BYU-I this year. I didn’t have much time last year. Although, I suppose if I don’t have D&D this year, I suddenly have a lot more hours available to me on Saturday. I’ll be sure to bring my colored pencils and my watercolors in any case.

Speaking of BYU-I… I suppose I’ll be packing and preparing these next three days (ugh!). Pray for us while we travel.

New Image: Celebrating Autumn

 

Such a dissapointment. Maybe that’s not something that you would expect to hear on the completion of the image, but there you have it. Not because it was bad. In fact, the original looks really great. But both the scanner and my camera kept doing wierd things to the red. Besides the fact that my camera’s broken LCD screen makes photographing the image difficult- so many pictures just to make sure everything was centered and in focus. This is a much closer up version of the original, edited as best I could to make it look alright. If you de-noise the image on iPhoto, then it begins to look more like a painting, so I tried to go for the impressionistic look. But naturally by the time I finish this image, it is no longer colorful outside. It is, in fact, cold and wet outside.

Now, the nice thing is that when I finished this project, I could go straight to the next, because I had already drawn it out and began coloring. This is great, I thought, no lag. That time between images when you have to get yourself together and get an idea to work on… I didn’t have to worry about it. I can go from one project to the next. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

Maybe because it also has problems. Particularly with this image, where I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’ve finished all the parts I did know how to do, so I’m already at a stand still with that project. Still, I like the system of working on two projects at once, so I have something to do when I’m having difficulty with the other one. And I wish I thought of it from the first. Then I might have more done by now. I mean, this image that I’m posting now was supposed to be a replacement for one of my other, lesser images. And it didn’t go quite as I wanted in the end. Ah well.

 

And now for a change of topic. I’ve said I’m one of those people who likes to watch the special features of movies, read the programs for plays, and watch documentaries about or interviews with various artists/musicians/etc. But then there is the other medium, blogs. I don’t read a lot of other people’s blogs- mostly because I don’t know where to look for one that would interest me. But I have been keeping up with one author’s blog, because I sent her an email about her book and she actually replied- with, naturally, a link to her blog. It has been interesting reading a writer’s blog (especailly since my Mom is a writer). Mom suggested another author’s blog- Patricia C. Wrede. I’ve enjoyed her books since I was twelve and reading The Enchanted Forrest Chronicles.

So I looked at her blog. She writes a lot. But while skimming through her posts and reading some of the content I am reminded once again that there is a lot more that goes on in writing (or any other craft, I’m sure) than we suspect. As I have said before, the experience the artist has, and the experience the audiance has are two entirely different things. And sometimes when you get some idea of what the artist goes through (goodness, I wish they wouldn’t use ‘artist’ to cover all of the creative arts, it’s far too misleading), it’s a bit overwhelming. I can’t imagine how they do it. It just seems like a regular day job would be much easier.

Creative people blow my mind.

It all makes it harder for me to figure out where I fit into the picture. But then… maybe I’m worrying about it too much? I am, after all, only twenty. The temptation at this kind of age, is to try to get the rest of your life figured out, because now you are an ‘adult’ and you have to get out there on your own. The problem is that you can’t get it all figured out at once. Things happen that you don’t expect. And then there’s the things you do expect, but can’t plan very well until they start happening- like getting married. Long story short, I really don’t know to what end I am doing all of my creative efforts. But I hope that they contain some value.