The Weird Days Just Keep Comin’

It feels good to paint again, even if just digitally. I’ve been buried in black and gray and white for a month, and color is knocking me out, again.

In reality, “real life,” the stuff outside of art—and who wants to deal with that?—the coming winter has put me in a mental whirl. I’m excited to work on projects, but I’m also desiring more time to sit and ponder and be bored. I’m not sure which will overcome the other.

I think the next year will be all about disrupting patterns and habits. I’d like to get more out into the world, and I’m feeling more settled into the city, finally. Prospects abound.

The Critical Voice

I see it a lot watching music videos on YouTube or Twitter, comments deriding an imperfect performance or comparing musicians. It’s not that anybody’s above criticism, but it takes less effort to dismiss art than to look deeper than the surface.

It works for painting or visual art of other kinds, too. Things get tricky underneath. Things get weird. There’s subtext, technique, subtleties of all kinds.

Sometimes we get sloppy, sometimes we flub it. But it’s rewarding and helpful to look for the best of any work, to see what is done well or uniquely. Avoiding the bad is harder than trying for the good. It’s a new game that keeps me looking further.

The Sketch Is the Thing

I finally finished the 31 Inktober drawings, only a few weeks late. Sarcasm aside, it’s often worth it to finish a marathon, even when you’re far behind. Discipline can be its own reward.

Not to mention, completing things is precedent for future projects. The more we get used to abandoning the things we start, the easier it gets to never finish anything. (NOTE: This is in addition to knowing when to quit. Sometimes it’s best to change paths, and the wisdom to know when is hard won)

Several of the drawings started as sketches which I drew over for the finished piece. There’s a power in these raw sketches, and sometimes more life than the most polished completed work. A lot of time and effort goes into capturing as much of that life as possible. This is where the art is.

Magic Breaking Through

Fuzzy snow in the dark on my building’s rooftop

No matter how cynical I feel, there’s always something magical about the first snow of the season. Probably because I spent so much time in the Southwest, it’s always been special. Now that I’m here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s normal for most, if not very frequent.

But I want to always be aware of the magic moments. The feeling of them is kin to the wonder of artistic creation and connection.

Anna King’s Quietly Spooky Beautiful Landscapes

Anna King, “Altitude (I)” (detail), oil and pencil on paper and board, 2013

I have an early shift following a close tonight so my time has run out, but everyone should go check out Anna King’s fabulous landscape and building studies. They’re haunting and beautiful, deftly rendered but also gloriously abstracted. Confident strokes and color, all the way.

Giving Due Thanks on a Designated Holiday

Gratitude is a common religious and/or spiritual practice around the world. Stepping back from your life and assessing the good things is sometimes even a helpful bit of balance. We’re often so close to the things we do every day, it can be hard to see anything but that struggle. But there’s always more.

I’m able to indulge in this work in part because of where I live and the family I was born into. It’s never been wealth, but neither extreme poverty, either. I have two healthy hands and a decent mind in a functioning brain. I’m luckier than everyone who was never born, and many who were.

I’m thankful that I can do this. I hope I can better my effort and time to improve the things I make.

Following Vizzini’s Lead

The Princess Bride is a favorite film, and lends its quotations to many instances of my life. But there’s one bit I think of when I imagine I should give up on something or get lazy.

The trio of Buttercup’s captors are sailing with their kidnapped victim. Behind them is the Man in Black, and Iñigo and Fezzik keep pointing out his inconceivable ability to gain distance on them. Vizzini, however, merely agitates “he’s no concern of ours! Sail on!” And, despite the villains needing to be defeated for story purposes, they do reach their immediate goal.

It’s not a bad strategy. Adversity can follow any endeavor. We can lose our wind, fall behind, worry we can’t make it. But never mind all that. Sail on.

The Haunting of the Season

Halloween never lasts long enough. I’m not much of a horror movie fan, but I like the idea of them, and am always up for a good one. More than that, I love the shift of light and life, when everything, well, falls.

Amidst the magic and spookiness that is the general tenor of autumn, I get restless, as if creating has kept pushing me forward, and I don’t quite know where I am.

The cusp of Thanksgiving (in the US) is a good time to look back a bit, to see where you’ve been and if you’re still on the path you should be. Art is tricky business. It’s holding onto water, trying to capture hints of smells on the street, stopping shadows and colors that change by the second. I always hope to keep moving, but nonetheless take time to look at the big picture. Focus can be isolating.