She’s a Canadian, and her work has a narrative element I’ve striven to reach for in my own work, ever since working on my comics series a long time ago. Follow her Instagram, it’s full of good.
I’ve been lamenting the weather here. It’s warm and sunny, and has been mostly so for the past couple of months. One of the reasons I wanted to move to the Pacific Northwest was weather, change of season, a break from constant hot and sunny. Wishing for change won’t make it so.
So it was that, after the third person chided me for being anxious to get into the rainy cold season, I sat for a minute and thought about what I was doing. I was rushing the moment, trying to affect transformation of reality instead of accepting and living in the moment. I know that must sound terribly mushy-headed or what used to be called airy-fairy, vague hand-waving near-mysticism. But there’s a usable, practical, real component to a lot of New Age type ideas: being present helps us live our lives more fully.
I noticed good things about having sunshine on these fall days above the 45th parallel. I can seen the colors of leaves turning gold, orange, and red more clearly. I can look up at the wonderful heights of the city around me without a face full of water to squint through. It’s easy to get around. Leaves are delightfully crunchy as I kick through them on my way to work. I accept what is, just as I’ll accept how the constant rain to come is renewing all this life around me.
And art? Art is the same. I have to be good at accepting how it is in the moment, and try not to spend too much energy and time wishing it were better. Everything in time.
If you’re struggling with making stuff, and most of us do, a lot, try doing nothing about it while you consider why it’s happening and what you want.
If you don’t know what you want, it’s hard to create from unknown ground. You don’t know where you want to go, so you end up wandering, and that can last years.
Easier to decide something—anything—and work from that. It’s so easy to forget! We. Can. Always. Change. Our. Minds.
Yesterday’s post was quite the incoherent jumble, I realized on waking up. I metaphorically scratched my head for way too long, trying to figure out what I was wanting to say. I’m still not quite sure. I did, however, realize I spelled Hilma af Klint’s name wrong, and mea culpa for that.
Most of life has randomness in some degree. Mistakes, people we meet, decisions made by a thousand people around us that connect in unseen ways. The best we can do is to try to observe it and how it joins ideas and thoughts. That’s the best way to discover newness, which is really just an unusual combination of things that exist in the world already.
Only now is the depth of her insight and discoveries widely known. She never exhibited her abstract work, pretending to the outside world she was working in a conventional way. This NY Times article covers the Guggenheim retrospective currently on display.
We should understand there’s likely lots of innovative and wondrous work out there, being done without acclaim or attention. Had af Klint not been encouraged to keep her brilliance secret, she might be known as the mother of abstract painting.
Uncle Paul, again, referenced above, was implying the most elaborate scheme springs from the simplest place. All you need is a dot, even metaphorically, and you can take it on an epic trip.
Katie Paterson is a Scot who works in Berlin, and the above film is mostly about the creation of a light bulb meant to emulate moonlight.
Her web site mentions her work is often about time and change, but I’d say it’s time and what remains constant. It’s charming and thoughtful, and her morse code message sending Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata bouncing to our satellite and back is an exploration of both how we make the moon a kind of person, anthropomorphizing it in so many ways, and also of our certainty of its permanence in our strange, short lives.
That’s my attempt to be quotable. Without sassy characters spouting this stuff, we’re left with titles. This one should be the retort of Jen, the younger sister of a cynical, burned-out musician named Josh. Hm.
Hold on, let me just write down this pitch for a show.
What I’m talking about, though, is making sure you have enough fuel to burn. Never mind inspiration, you need stuff to steal from. As much art as you can handle stuffed in you so it mixes into a stew with all the other art you see and hear.
Go to galleries, web sites, shows, concerts, forums, colleges, museums, streaming TV, magazines, libraries.
And then? I don’t know how or why, but unless you’re trying yo be like one specific person, your things come out different. Art magic.
Ever since I mentioned wanting to listen to the new Steve Perry album on the podcast this week (advance spoiler: it’s okay), I’ve been thinking about how I’ve liked the band since 1981, when Escape came out, which was one of the first rock albums I bought for myself. I know, I had a somewhat sheltered musical upbringing.
I’ve had a lot of friends over the years raise an eyebrow or two when they find out, and say something like, “Dude, you like Journey? But you’re into metal and prog and ambient…” True, but one likes what one likes, and I don’t believe in guilty pleasures.
So. Rather than some windy exposition detailing them, here’s this obsessive trifle:
5. The beginning of “Anytime”
4. The end of the first verse of “Good Morning Girl: “I see your eyes shining through/Those gentle eyes silver blue/Good morning girl”
3. Near the end of “Escape,” a series of C to ringing Gadd9 chords on the extended vocal of “stay”
2. In “Faithfully,” the syncopation of “Two strangers learn to fall in love again”
1. The last 10 a cappella seconds of “Girl Can’t Help It”
Bonus: “Only Solutions,” which can’t go on that list—the whole song is my favorite one.
Is it dramatic or overtly pretentious to use song lyrics as titles?
I’ve been pondering seasonal change now that I’m somewhere there actually are seasons. Do they correspond with changes in our work? Not usually, of course.
They’re inspiration, guidelines of timing, reminders. This sort of thing helps in planning and shaping. But the actual doing, I’m certain, isn’t changed by what’s around us. That happens no matter where we are.
And we always have to deal with inner change. It’s not a cycle, it’s a line beginning behind you and pointing ahead. View your work through that lens and be kind to yourself when it’s not what you thought. It will change again.