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Month: April 2019

When Network Troubles Prevent Your Regularly Scheduled Posting

When Network Troubles Prevent Your Regularly Scheduled Posting

No post actually got uploaded yesterday due to some network issues on my end at home. It does point out the challenges of a consistent daily posting scheme. I’m a bit at the mercy of the Internet gods.

But what’s important, of course, is creating every day, not what makes it to published stage. Cory Doctorow talks frequently about his discipline of a writing schedule. In retrospect, just as he can’t tell which days he felt like he was writing well and which he felt he was writing poorly, I doubt I or anyone else could tell which posts were dashed off very late or after an outage when looked at without dates. The muse and our deftness comes and goes, so we might as well keep the routine internally.

Game of This and That

Game of This and That

Sometimes a cheap, pandering title is just the thing to tangent from.

We obsess over stories like nothing else. It’s another essentially human thing. Obsession is good, in moderation. We have to have some measure of it to stick with anything when it gets hard.

Just as it’s hard to watch made up people you care about get killed off on screen, it’s hard to watch your ideas fail to find a firm place to take hold and then fade. But there are always more ideas. If we keep on making them, there will be a few that make it.

Why Do We Do The Art Thing at All, Anyway?

Why Do We Do The Art Thing at All, Anyway?

It’s not as if it’s a guarantee of anything, even that you’ll feel creatively fulfilled—or some other vague notion—or emotionally stable.

I used to see the phrase “you do it because you have to,” sprinkled around. This seems designed to weed out the casuals and dilettantes, only serious commitments, please. But obsessive-compulsive behavior can be destructive. And I’ve always thought we need more casuals and dilettantes. Art isn’t for trained professionals, it’s for everyone, it’s part of what makes us human. We should all make it.

We want to feel the deep connection to the universe outside and our deepest selves within. Art is the bridge. It blooms from within by processing everything without. Sure, want to feel it really, really badly, if you’re driven to create.

But if you only want to a little, it’s okay. We still need it out here.

The Open Spaced Wild of Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze

The Open Spaced Wild of Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze

Amanze works with surrealism and figure—mashups? There’s a mystical element to many works, finely detailed figures and things floating in the white space of their surfaces.

It’s disturbing and charming at the same time. The sense of myth or spirit world imbues the drawings that also show us the plain, real, everyday. The open spaces have a quiet, meditative structure, where anything could happen, but for now the moment of stillness stretches.

The Weird Thing Is, You Don’t Always Know You’re Doing It

The Weird Thing Is, You Don’t Always Know You’re Doing It

There comes a moment in any ongoing project when I think I’m taking it too seriously and losing the loose qualities of early stages that made me want to continue the thing in the first place.

Overworked drawings are really a thing. Even meticulously crafted pen work needs some freeness about it.

There’s almost always room to free your work of too much control once you recognize what you’re saying and doing with it.

Lucky Bostonians Will Get a Fun and Funny Nicole Eisenman

Lucky Bostonians Will Get a Fun and Funny Nicole Eisenman

sketch of a fountain
Nicole Eisenman’s sculpture in Germany

Eisenman works with figures, or more accurately, with the body. She often puts a queer sensibility in her pieces, playing with gender expression and convention. She’s another artist who often puts humor into her work, which I always like to see in fine art.

So much contemporary art takes itself super seriously, and we could all do with occasional wind taken out of our hoity-toity sails. The sculpture, Sketch for a Fountain (2017), is a joyous and life-celebrating piece, something the world always needs more of.

I see echoes of other artists in her paintings, Guston and the realists (usually parodied) are two, historical painters edge in as well. The occasional crudeness—maybe grotesquery is more apt—belies her skill as a draftsperson. Enjoy, Boston.

Art as Pet, the Bargain Made to Live in Mutual Benefit

Art as Pet, the Bargain Made to Live in Mutual Benefit

I see a lot of comments online to the effect of “[animal1]—what did we do to deserve them?” Or, “we totally don’t deserve [animal2]s,” followed by a charming video of [animal]. I’m not immune to such memes.

But if you’ve read Rudyard Kipling’s “The Cat That Walked by Himself,” in which the prototypical titular cat gradually ingratiates himself to the woman—this was published in 1902, so, cats were naturally a girl thing—you’ll note that bargains are struck for a give-and-take relationship. Everyone gets value for their contribution.

It’s certainly possible to think of art, the work you make yourself, in this mutually beneficial way. And, like the cat, it’s wild, and aloof, and we don’t fully understand it.

But we strike the bargain, and we both give to and get an insane level of value from art. “Pet” is probably an inept label. Let’s say “companion.” We walk side-by-side and get closer the more effort and time we put in.

What Being Kind of Old Gets You Is Kind of a Big Deal for Being No Big Deal

What Being Kind of Old Gets You Is Kind of a Big Deal for Being No Big Deal

Aging comes with a few characteristic abilities, many of which seem to be complaining—about the weather, what hurts on your body, these kids today (DISCLAIMER: I’m firmly in the the-kids-are-alright camp and expect to continue to remain).

And the cost isn’t cheap. Bodies break down and get slower. It’s nothing unusual, it happens to everyone who keeps living. It’s ordinary stuff.

But there are definite benefits to getting older, and the biggest one is simple, accumulated experience. True, wisdom isn’t inevitable, but it’s a lot easier to harness. Appreciation for beauty and recognition of darkness is easier, too. There’s a wealth of years that lets us understand the world better and how it all fits together.

If you’re an artist getting older, this is your advantage. “Write what you know” becomes a massive toolbox, which for a young person would tend to be a small, spare tray. You can use this in your work: put everything you are into it, because the ocean of accumulated life inside you is very big, indeed.

A Numbers Game or Two, for Various Definitions of Two

A Numbers Game or Two, for Various Definitions of Two

It’s tax time, more or less, in the United States. The pressure to navigate the labyrinthine codes of law that drive even seasoned accountants to distraction are a lot to deal with for any citizen. For artists, there’s a metaphor.

There are the things we make. There is the money we make. There are the people who like the things, who may pay us something to keep or copy them. Usually not, and those elements don’t necessarily cross over. This is a regular cycle, and we don’t often understand how it works, just that it needs to happen.

But if I want to grow the number I make for the things I make, I do need to grow the people who like the things. And that’s what this year is about, for me. Getting ways established to do both. Stay tuned, I’m working on them.