From December 2019

The Year Winds Up, Our Lang Synes Auld

I went to rural Oregon. My brother lives in a small town, and I missed Christmas with him this year, so this was the next nearest thing. It was beautiful, if an exhausting road trip, with some time to reflect on where I am to go and what I am to do with this artificially shiny new year.

Christmas is, essentially, a celebration of new birth, whether adopting pagan solstice traditions or touting the arrival of a savior.

It’s a good thing to have these divisions of the year. Without seasons and change, we wouldn’t have such visceral cues upon which to hang our expectations and our resolve. Precious few of us are so self-motivated as to be able to begin anew, regardless of the day or month or year.

But anew we shall proceed. Here’s to auld lang syne. and to new days, unknown adventures, too.

A Whole New Yearrr

It’s completely artificial, the demarcation of the new year. We’ve already passed the actual renewal by the time Christmas Eve hits. But it echoes what I’ve said before here, that every day is a potential chance to start again, so why not?

The newsletter is coming, a weekly publication if I can manage such a thing. I haven’t figured how to treat the subs, but I think it’s only fair to let you have the opt-in if you’re a current subscriber to this blog. Image posts will commence quite soon, and we’ll see where it goes.

Thanks so much for ringing through the past couple years, it’s almost faux new year’s!

The Gentle Ennui of the Winter Solstice Celebrations

Christmas comes but once a year, but it’s a long series of train cars speeding past that start the day after Thanksgiving. We’ve been complaining at one end of our culture about the relentless commercialism of the season, but indulging in it at the other.

One aspect of the turn of the year I’ve always enjoyed is the shift in thinking as we spin around the back side of the sun—also, a cold face while the rest of me is wrapped up in warmth is hard to beat, but its not the main event and can last well into the following months.

Renewal is it’s own relentless feature of life on Earth. We’ve evolved with it and as a result of it. As biological imperatives go, so goes our ache to interpret and make something new in the world.

And it can feel lonely to look backwards on a year gone by, and forward into the unknown. But it’s a quiet time well worth settling into. The sun brightens and beckons soon enough.

Last Leaf on the Tree

I’m still thinking about change and renewal. There’s so often a desire for artists to do more than they’ve done before, to top themselves or shift into more challenging evolutions. The end of a year offers a natural prompt for that kind of thinking, and here I am, taking it on.

I’ll notify everyone through this site, of course, of changes and updates. Things are afoot, it’s mostly a matter of expense and organized time. Happy nearly Christmas!

Yulia Ustinova‘s Fun, Confident, Voluptuous Crocheted Women

Just when you thought you had a lock on the permutations of fine art crossing over craft, here comes Yulia Ustinova. She mentions in this profile a Facebook page, but I haven’t been able to find it.

I promised myself I’d curb use of the word “whimsical,” but this work is not only full of it, there’s a serious side. Honestly celebrating body shape is a big part of figural study, whether big or small.

And Another Thing, Just Wait Till Next Year

‘Tis the season for piling on resolutions for the coming new year and eulogizing the outgoing one. Among, you know, other things.

I’m pondering changes for the blog. It’s been helpful to have a daily thing, but I want to do something different for 2020. It might transition into more of a daily art thing with an adjunct newsletter. I’d like to push writing into more long form things and get back to visual art practice as more rigidly daily.

As with everything, we’ll see how it goes.

(NOTE: the title is spoken by Timmy Lupus in The Bad News Bears after the team loses to the rival Yankees. The film is notable for its loose-tongued kid actors and heartfelt sports movie plot.)

Getting Cozy With the Little Nonsenses

I was reading a bit from a newsletter about gesture drawing, and how they can, given the proper technique and direction, lead to refinement of your regular work in drawing. I mean, it can, sort of, but this is weird to me, because it isn’t how I think about gesture drawing, which I learned in a different way.

Gesture drawing, in the Nikolaides tradition, is a way to discover how something feels when you draw it. It doesn’t usually look like the thing you’re drawing, and it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t. Because part of learning to draw is learning how it feels to draw, to become connected with your subject. You end up drawing more accurately because you’re getting out of your own way, not drawing how you think something looks, but translating it into paper like it was a language.

Gesture drawings are quick, aiming for essence and motion, not likenesses. They’re bits of nonsense, scribbles with soul, and it’s ideal to make them your partners.

Putting the ‘You’ in Impryouvement

That’s a Troy McClure quotation above. The relevant idea I was thinking of was that artists get things made mostly on their own, from the depths of their own personal being. You won’t find a lot of writing defining art as channeling. We tend to think humans do it from within ourselves, even if divine inspiration used to be taken for granted. Artists were still always praised or berated as creators, not the lucky or cursed vessels of other beings with the real talent.

And what’s the point of inspiration without the work needed to bring it into being? You’re the factory worker as well as the visionary—at least the vast, vast majority of artists. It’s very human to make art and still human to work hard at it. It’s ironic: a play is still a work.

Keep it up, because you get the work made, and only you can make your kind of thing.

Another Voice Urging Us to ‘Just Do the Thing’ Every Day

Above is a view from our building’s gym. I don’t mind saying I work out with some regularity, and I don’t like it. I’d much rather procrastinate until tomorrow what I could be lifting today, bro.

But there’s good in showing up to do your daily creative thing. Austin Klein posted this

https://austinkleon.com/2019/12/08/non-negotiable/

…about a no excuse policy on it, and it deserves a look.

The Choice to Make

We always have a choice on whether to make art or not. I know it’s become a standard thing to say “I have to paint,” or write songs or books or dance, but it’s good to know you have to decide to bring something into the world. These are difficult thoughts to try to focus in on. It can feel like we have to create, and that intense, fiery desire makes it important.

But I think it’s more valuable to consciously—or deliberately—decide to make things than to hand wave away the choice. It’s definitely cool to believe someone is so monumentally driven by their artistic soul that they simply found themselves overtaken by its demands.

Cooler to me is the knowledge that it’s sometimes a struggle to come to the metaphorical drawing board and bring something new into the world made from small parts of it.