28 December 2010

oh, how Quickly plans Change...

Holy crap, I had all these amazing plans! I was a go-getter! I was going to finish stuff and start new stuff and hang out with people!

You remember, right? It wasn't that long ago when I talked about all these great plans.

And then I got sick.


I got sick on the night before Christmas. (almost poetic, isn't it?) I couldn't eat solid food for over 24 hours. It's a horrible bug that's taken over my system.

I forgot how draining it is to be sick. I just want to be in bed. Today is the first day I've really been out of bed (and out of the apartment, for that matter) since the 25th. I promised my supervisor I would cover the office for her today. Clearly, I made that promise before I got sick.
I'm feeling better today than I was yesterday, certainly, but I'm not convinced that I have any business being away from my bed.

Oh my gosh I just want to lay down please please let me lay down somewhere anywhere I don't care....

Getting up this morning, I thought: "I can do this. Medicate and shower myself, and I'll be ready to tackle this day."

Walking to the bus-stop an hour later: "What the &$%* was I thinking? I shouldn't be here! *oh gosh, my stomach...* I should be in bed. I should walk straight back home and get in bed and- oh crap, here's the bus."

So now I'm in the office.

The first solid food I ate was on the night of the 26th. It was a piece of toast. It took me an hour to eat the whole thing.

These are the adventures of mortality.

I'm really not sure what made me think I could come to work today.

23 December 2010

my New mantra

It's kind of a long mantra...

I just read an interview with Jean-Baptiste Monge (see his amazing blog and works here) and he said something that I really (really) needed to hear.

He was asked to give advice to young/beginning artists, and he said:

I won't embellish and will be honest with you guys. Ours is a very hard job, some can't make a living of it and must have another job to get by. It's hard to begin because of the supplies, schools,... and most can't afford it. I was in this case. My parents couldn't help me. You will pass through fear, doubt, depression, anger many many times because you'll feel like you can't manage, and that you see other people's stuff is better than yours (in your perception). So you have to be tough above all and hang on no matter what happens and you will find that finally there is also fun, good people to meet, pride, and happiness! If you have the imagination it's good because, in my opinion, that's 80% of the job and the 20% left, very important, is … working working working, just keep working and don't give up.
These are my five words : Curiosity, Imagination, Observation, Work and Meetings.

Thank you, Monge. I don't even know how to pronounce your last name, but you're my new favorite artist and person of the week/month/my life.

A picture Just For you!

It only took me over a week, but I finally did it! I fixed the parts of my self-portrait that I didn't like, learned to overlook the rest of it, and got a decent picture on my camera of it...

...all for you. ^_^

The "decent picture" on my camera really isn't that decent, but it's the best I can do with the limited equipment I have.

And here it is, folks:

The height is something close to 40 inches. Who knows what the width is...36 inches? Most important lesson learned from this project:

I (effing) hate working BIG.

It's obnoxious, there's no room for it in my tiny apartment, there's nowhere convenient to work on it, I hate transporting it (which I'll have to do at least two more times), and ultimately it's a pretty terrible experience. And art shouldn't be a terrible experience.
Art can be harrowing, stressful, complicated, and pretty detrimental to one's self-esteem...
But not a terrible experience.

Oh, I jest. I don't really think art is all of those things - it's the deadlines.

*dark, scary Gollum voice*
Yes...the deadlines, Precious. We hates them.
*end of schizophrenic moment*

I'm going to go enjoy my Christmas break now. I'm going to draw at least one new still-life, paint another puppet, and play a lot of Eternal Darkness on Gamecube (cheap game based on Lovecraft's writings. It's pretty awesome.) And my cousins are coming over Tuesday for a huge Firefly marathon.

Yes! I love breaks from school!!

Not only that, but I went to an amazing birthday party last week (was it really that long ago?) for my good friend, Lee, where we wore goofy hats, ate cake, and had a poetry slam. It was epic. There cannot be another party in my lifetime that could top the epic joy gained from that party.

Thanks, Lee!!

And the rest of you: thanks for reading. Now go out and enjoy life.

15 December 2010

but I'm Not bitter!

I finished the (stupid) self-portrait. My teacher loved it. End of class.

(the portrait can be seen here)

At home when I finished the piece, I was taking the HUGE piece of paper off the wall (it was over three feet in height. ridiculous.), removing the sopping newspaper from the wall and off the floor, wiping off the acrylic paint and charcoal dust from the table, wall, chairs, and myself, I had a realization: I really hate working big.

People, I'm only 5'1". Painting a torso on a piece of paper that is six feet tall is just not a good idea (I'm referencing a completely different assignment now, but it still happened this semester - stay with me). It's stressful. It's bothersome. It's annoying. It makes me effing grumpy.

Sorry for the "effing." It's become my new mantra for the semester: "Eff, eff, eff my life!" But the semester is nearly over now, so I'll tone it down.

It's why I draw myself as a hobbit. It's why I refer to myself on the net as Miss Hobbit. I like cozy holes and books and food and drawings that do not exceed 9"x11". Granted, there is something rejuvenating about making brush strokes that exceed the breadth of your shoulders - it's liberating, in a way. It feels good.

But so does marijuana. You shouldn't do that all the time, either.

Don't give in to peer pressure, kids. Just say "no."

I'm going to buy smaller brushes with my Christmas money. Unless I buy a scanner, instead. Or maybe I'll go crazy and buy both!
(woah, settle down there! remember to buy food and pay rent first.)

Oh, to be young and married, in college and broke.

10 December 2010

why Do I write These things?

I finally started my (stupid) self-portrait last night. It's due on Monday.
I moved the table (so now you can't walk from the living room to the hallway without turning sideways) and pinned my HUGE piece of paper to the wall. It's easier to work that way. I splattered paint on there for about half an hour before I realized how ugly I had made it.
I'll just paint over it tonight and start again. Multiple layers makes a piece better, right? Creation requires some destruction, right?
Yeah...not in my experience, but that's what my instructor keeps saying. She'll probably love it.

In other news: there's no class today. I have to be at work for a few hours and then I can go back home to work on the (stupid) self-portrait. And, last night, I had a brilliant thought: what if I go to the gym after work? It'll be great, it'll feel great, I'll actually have time to do it, and the gym on campus is free. All I need is my gym-bag and I'm good to go!

I forgot my gym-bag.


Even after thinking about it all last night and this morning, I still forgot the gym-bag. It's like the universe wants me to be chunky for the holidays.

You know how every group of friends has the chubby friend? After years and years of being surrounded by skinny friends, it has never occurred to me that I'm that chubby friend...until just now.
But it's not my fault! I haven't had time to work out - I've had TWO three-hour long classes this semester! I've wanted to work out, I just don't have any time. It's not my fault! It's not fair! It'll be better next semester - I'll have so much more time next semester!


I refuse to bend to the will of the universe!
Who am I kidding? I'll fold like a house of cards.

In more news: You remember that piece/drawing/painting I made during the summer? I submitted it to the University's Warp&Weave journal (speculative fiction - short stories, poetry, comics, art, anything really...) because I thought that piece would be really perfect for them.

They sent me a rejection letter. Not even a generic one - it had the specific name of the piece and everything. They didn't want it.

I wasn't able to go to the Warp&Weave launch party, but a friend of mine went (who won first prize for her piece "Relapse" - read it here on dA) and told me that my piece was, in fact, published. More than that, they had made prints of all the artworks published this semester to sell. My piece sold out!

Which is awesome!

I just kinda wish they had, you know, told me about it or something. They have my email. They have my phone number. It's not like I'm unreachable.


It's a nice boost to my much-deflated ego, though.

Latest amusing student quote of the semester: "Hello, miss hobbit. It is most agreeable to see you today."

07 December 2010

I miss My Integrity

Yesterday, I gave my (ridiculous) oral presentation on the (ridiculous) book I told you about.

It was so (can you guess??) ridiculous.

Eight other students gave presentations on different chapters of the book as well, and each one of them absolutely loved this book. One girl went so far to say that "this book is scripture. If you, you know, believe in art." (direct quote) It was physically draining to keep myself from rolling my eyes or laughing out loud at the sheer absurdity of my classmates.

Someone said, "Every sentence is so well written." (really? guess what: just because he uses big words that you don't understand, it's not automatically "well written." if you have to re-phrase every single idea in the book to make it comprehensible to the class, then it's not "well written.")

As the discussion in class continued, a confession came out (also, a direct quote): "I'm not very academic. Like, I don't really like reading and stuff. That's why, like, I lean more toward creativity and imagination and stuff." To which the teacher responded, "Yeah, me neither. I don't think of myself as very academic."

What the crap am I doing with this group of people!?!?

Here, we're presented with two possibilities: 1) I just hate the book because McNiff's message went over my head, or 2) If the rest of my class was academically minded, they would hold as much distaste for the book as I do.

I hated myself so much during that presentation. I heard myself saying arbitrary crap like, "It's about that connection with the material, from hand to paper, and the energy that results from the connection, that really drives creativity forward." I lied my way through all three minutes of my presentation. I recognized early on in the presentations that if I were to honestly speak my mind, I would quickly make enemies of everyone in the class.

Here's what I really think (for those of you who want to know): McNiff's ideas of "letting go" and "getting the creative juices flowing" are good ideas. These ideas really do work. In therapies. In children's classes. Not in college classes for art students who want to make a living off of their art. You need to teach technique and encourage practice, practice, practice.
McNiff's book might be a good tool for relaxing the imagination, which can result in better work, but without technique and training it's just mindless scribbles on a page. And maybe you feel good about the mindless scribbles on the page, maybe those scribbles represent something significant to you, the artist. But that significance is not going to be conveyed to anyone else, which defeats the purpose of art as a visual communication. McNiff's principles work on individual and therapeutic levels, but I'm not seeing how that will make me a better, more successful, artist.

One student said in class, building off of what McNiff had written, "As long as you feel good about what you've made, then what else matters? Who cares what other people think? It's your creation and you should feel good about it." Why are you paying thousands of dollars to a University to be taught to make art that makes you feel good? If all you need is to feel good about your art, then stay at home and scrapbook in your kitchen. Save yourself some money. I'm coming to school to learn how to make my art affect other people; I'm here to learn technique, principles, and tools that will make my art more effective; I'm here to learn skills that will enable me to make art a viable career. No doubt, it's good to feel pride in what you make and your abilities, but that is not the sole purpose.

Granted, I haven't read the whole book. Not that I plan to. It's unlikely I'll be able to make myself read more than I already have. Tomorrow, we'll hear the rest of the presentations and I'll know, basically, what the rest of the book is about.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the book becomes brilliant in the second half. Maybe McNiff is like an artist's prophet. *shrug* Maybe.

Our teacher also revealed to us yesterday that McNiff's approach to art will, from now on, outline how art is taught at our University. Thus, we see my conversion from the Fine Arts Department to the Illustration Department completed. Nail in the coffin, if you will.

It's all begun to feel so pointless.

02 December 2010

maybe I should Be A writer...

In Drawing III we're required to do a group presentation on a book: Trust the Process - An Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff. I've tried reading the book several times but I either get frustrated with the author or I fall asleep. Luckily, I only have to present on one section of one chapter.

Here are some of my issues with this book:
McNiff boasts of being involved in all forms of art: writing, painting, drawing, music, dance and probably some other obscure ones that he made up. His love of art does not come from technical skill or craftsmanship, though. His art seems to depend more on the "spirit of creativity" or how it feels to create. It's about the spiritual and intellectual connection we make with ourselves and our world through creating.

Okay, fine. There are some artists out there who think this way. To a certain extent, I agree with them. Creation seems to be an innate part of human nature. Music, visual arts, and dance are all used in therapies for healing or meditation.

His book isn't about the nature of creation, though. It's about his own personal philosophies concerning art and creativity. As interesting as his concepts may be, it's hardly a "guide" to making me a better artist.

McNiff's very fond of using arbitrary phrases that mean nothing unless you can read his mind. Like the "spirit of creativity." What is that? He talks about it like it's a living entity that talks to him. We have medications for that. And this sentence: "...or can I step in and out of different ways of being the world?" What does that sentence even mean? There's only one way to "be in the world" - being alive! Is he referring to the different roles or stereotypes we may play in society? Is he talking about a mental state - a change of attitude that changes our perception of the world? Be specific. That's a #1 rule in writing: make sure your audience understands exactly what you mean. That's the purpose of writing a book, isn't it? To get an idea across to other people. If you're vague in your language, your idea will be lost, and then it's just a giant waste of paper.

Speaking of audience, at one point (page 58, if you really want to know) McNiff writes:
If you have no experience in the arts, you are ripe for every possible opportunity. What aspects of your life seem most antithetical to art? These areas may be most amenable to transformation because their creative potential has been obscured.
Reflect upon people in your life that you and others saw as "creative." Did you view them according to stereotypic standards of creativity? Who are the people in your life that no one saw as creative? Can you apply another standard of creation to their lives and change your impression of them? Look at your own life and see if you can detect the creative spirit in your prosaic ways."
First of all, do you see why I keep falling asleep? The language he uses is pretentious and cloudy. Rather than clarifying, which is what expanded vocabularies usually do for the reader, he's consistently vague. (and if it isn't vague to you, then I'm happy for you. But honestly, there's got to be a way of saying "now's the time to change your opinion of what "creative" means" without sounding so stuck on yourself)
Secondly: he needs to decide who his audience is and then address them exclusively. He was talking to artists and then out of nowhere he pops these two paragraphs out to talk to the non-artists. He's written An Artist's Guide, so why would a non-artist be reading this book? If I were someone with "no experience in the arts," then this book is the last one I would venture to read because the title specifically states that it is for artists.
He still could have kept these two paragraphs in the book, they just need to be readdressed. Example: "Even someone who has no experience in the arts could be ripe for every possible opportunity. Think of aspects in your own life that are antithetical to art: these area may be most....blah blah blah." Now, McNiff, you're saying the same thing, while still talking to your audience.

Ta. Da.

Get an effing editor.

Moreover, I disagree with some fundamental theories in his philosophy. I think this is where most of our issues begin, McNiff and I, because he seems to assume that everyone will see his theories as true. Because of this assumption, he keeps making blanket statements without making effort to defend them or to persuade his audience. It comes across as arrogant and pretentious. None of his statements, thus far, have been universal truths (even though he persists in portraying them as such), nor in fact are they even cultural or societal truths. It's individual, but he seems to have convinced himself that after spending 50 years in art, he knows how everyone perceives and interacts with "the spirit of creativity."

See? Arrogant.

I liked his prologue: License to Create. That was great stuff. Since then, I haven't read anything but pseudo-philosophic drivel.

This, of course, is not what I'm going to say during my presentation (as much as I'd love to). I'll underline anything he says that I can agree with (a sentence here, a thought there) and then expand on those for 3-4 minutes.
See? Easy as pie. And then my instructor, who worships this book like a second Bible, will never know that I plan on stuffing it in a trash compactor as soon as the semester ends.

01 December 2010

death By aromatics

I'm not gonna lie, I don't feel great today. It started about 4:00 a.m. last night/this morning. I remember going to roll over and being struck with the overwhelming urge to vomit.

I kept it down, but I moved with a lot more caution the rest of the night.

I didn't have breakfast. I can't finish my lunch. Plus, Blockhead just microwaved something nasty and the smell of it is wafting throughout the office. It's something like epoxy glue combined with dog mess. And he's eating it. Blegh. I'm not going to ask him what it is; I don't want to know.

I'm not sure why, but he'll only microwave it for two minutes at a time. The first three times I thought it was part of the cooking directions, but eight times?? Dude, just put it in there for 16 straight minutes. The microwave can handle it. I promise.

I just want him to hurry up and eat whatever-it-is so I don't have to smell it anymore.

Oh the queasy ache... Blegh. I've got to focus my energy on not losing my lunch.

Gawsh, I hate getting sick.