And so we shift. This is the first in the new blog format. For the foreseeable, this blog will be primarily image-centric, with at least the one daily photo, drawing, painting, or some similar thing.
If you’ve enjoyed the written portion of the site—and bless you, friendo, if that’s the case—I’ll be shifting my text to a longer format to be released as a weekly newsletter. I’ll publish that in this space tomorrow or the next day.
Thanks for spending all this time with my stuff. If you wish to unsub from the daily thing, I totally understand, and promise I won’t be put out.
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.
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!
This is one of those posts where I almost want the title to stand alone.
We’re pressured to pick and stick to paths in life and career. But if change is good, and inevitable, where’s the line between getting somewhere and always starting anew? Is it focus, or stubbornness? Is it being adaptable or scattered?
It isn’t bad to change direction and break a longstanding pattern. If you always circle back, okay, maybe that’s a phenomenon to try altering. But I want to keep in mind that we only get to the end of a metaphorical path in life when life is over. And if we’re always journeying, how much does it matter where we’re going?
Work upside down, work with your left hand, or your right if you’re a lefty—with your feet if ambidextrous—with your whole face.
Try things. Work outside. In a window. On the floor. Do it differently. Even if you still think you aren’t going anywhere with this weirdness, you are. Because you’re still working, and you can’t stop for long.
We, the digital set, the technorati, the first world era, are castigated for looking down at our phones constantly.
But there’s a world to notice down there. On the ground, the street, the road. It’s all strange and overlooked colors, bits of stone, stains, scraps, fluff, fragments, trash, cracks, critters, patterns, paint, plants, paper, pools, plastics.
If your habit is to look down at your feet as you walk, spend some time looking up. But if you’ve been on your phone or staring straight ahead on your commutes, check out the view below.
I’m back! Probably! It’s been a long, traumatic move. Being in a new place, with old stuff, is disorienting. Habits I thought I’d established are more easily broken. But still, change is usually good. It’s inevitable, so better to go the Taoist route and bend rather than break.
As easy as it is to blow off posting here, it’s also uncomfortable. I like the discipline of it, and I think it helps me, creatively. It’s also easy to beat myself up about missing days, but that approach only makes us want to stay away more. Whatever we do—our thing, our work—if it’s habitual, is valuable not just for its content, but also its ability to act as outlet, or creative hydrant. Its meaningfulness is deeply ingrained in the simple act of creation. We should continue.
It’s always hard to work my routines into such a big anxiety- and stress-inducing event as moving house, but I’ll still be giving it a shot. There’s value and relief in hanging onto whatever steadiness can be had on a metaphorically stormy sea.
One of the reasons for keeping a sketchbook on you at all times (or whatever notebook you’re drawn to—ha! Drawn!—for your medium and your thing) is to be ready to work on creation or making when its time. Not just when inspiration strikes, but to order.
It’s well demonstrated that creativity can be made to order by habitual attempts. Even when your best equipment is all boxed up, a moment to get out of the world and into your vision is good for you.
We’ve got a friend visiting who owns a car. My lack of knowledge about how to navigate parking downtown, where we live, including meter boundaries and cost are practically nil. In less than a year since moving, and giving up my car, I’ve remained virtually locked into public transit and walking.
I felt helpless to answer questions and solve problems. “Just keep driving around” was almost wholly inadequate. It strikes me that humans—for all we talk about history repeating and not learning lessons—are still eminently adaptable. Circumstances around us may change, but most of us can melt into the new mold quickly.
When I think about new directions to take my work, new media to explore, and new situations that restrict what I might do, I don’t keep this in mind. I get frustrated trying to recreate circumstances and methods of the past. While that can sometimes work for a lifetime (Turner), it might not be possible for some (Stella), and I could be doing myself a disservice, wasting energy needlessly.
Maybe just melt into the new mold first and the rest takes care of itself.
It’s a nice view from our apartment, mostly of the buildings next to ours, but the west Portland hills rise up behind everything and it looks like a diorama. It’s inspiring and uplifting. I’ve wanted to live in a downtown apartment since I was little.
It’s also a different sketching perspective. Since I’ve never lived this high up before, I have a new set of angles to discover and try to capture. Both these aspects are fulfilling and fun, and it’s a big change from many years near the ground in L.A.
Simple things feed into our feelings and our creativity. We shouldn’t undervalue a change in view.
About the Author
Marcus is a maker of things and thoughts. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon.