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.

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.

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.

Being Generous to Yourself, Being Kind to Your Neighbors

The ability we have as denizens of urban centers to wander a little bit and find sustenance is amazing and humbling. I feel lucky many days, and I’d hate to lose that sense of understanding.

While we’re doing our work and facilitating the circumstances that lead us to generate more, I think it’s good to continually explore our surroundings and the people who inhabit them. This is our physical center, the close connection to humanity, and to feeds our creativity, too. Not to mention, for those of us in service jobs, it’s good to spread kind and appreciative patronage to others.

Our neighbors, our helpmates.

Things We Try to Give Up

Sidebar—is it really a sidebar when it comes before the main text?—The recent “art” art has all been on my Insta, hence the preponderance of photos on the blog. I hope that’s okay. This is supposed to be mainly an art blog, for drawing and painting and such, at least in my non-dogmatic opinion. (I’m not a photographer of any training or much experience, but I know what I like, so you get photos, art recs, music, musings, and so forth.)

I decided to stop playing Minecraft for therapy/comfort gaming. I’ve been playing early-to-mid game elements for many years, now. It’s still the most effortless and rewarding return on $27 I’ve ever spent. It’s not that I don’t love the game, but I rarely have goals beyond getting the next string of crafting components to get the subsequent items for a particular mod in the pack. These things are singularly occupying and somewhat addicting, so they fill my anxiety-ridden downtime with satisfying play. But I’d rather try some new things and returning to the familiar is stopping me.

We frequently say we’d like to give up a thing that pacifies some troubling emotion, urge, or desire, but it’s rare we follow through. Do we need replacements? If we have a plan, does it include beneficial goals or skill improvement? For artists, I think it’s healthy and important to both refrain from harsh judgment and be unfaltering in questioning if the things we do help our work.

Tough decision, deciding to give up easy comfort. But if we wanted to be comfortable, there are simple paths to get there. We have to work at our thing, struggle sometimes to put form to feelings, and push metaphorical stones up steep symbolic hills. You just have to decide if that’s worth it to get what’s inside, you know, out.

Sighting On the Town

Today was for looking up. The light is growing more scarce, the nights longer. To avoid the onset of seasonal depression, or at least to mitigate it, I’ve been trying to add brightness. It’s like turning up the filter on life a bit. There’s only so much that can be done before it washes out, but every little bit probably helps.

And the story lover in me is forever intrigued by walking around city streets. What’s going on in all those glowing little squares? what triumphs and drama and everyday existence is playing out in ten thousand parallel narratives?

Life is always happening. We capture and reinterpret it with sparkle or sharp focus. The light around and within it is always there, but we have to decide what to do with it.

Layers of the Past Piling Up

It’s a bit strange living in a city that preserves a good bit of its past. I’m not used to it. But a cool feature of the Pacific Northwest is the abundance of trees. So you get the new with the old, the living and the (constructed) dead side-by-side.

This is our ongoing inspiration and source for art. Everything that was made with everything that grows and changes is the source. The mix of both is what we make new things out of.