At This Moment, Everybody Is Going Somewhere

Just a quick observation: staying still is not an option for very long. We’re headed for old age, if nothing else (and if we’re fortunate). We can pretend we’re standing still, but the world moves.

And it’s okay to sit there, sometimes, and watch for a while. Looking around every once in a while helps you not to miss life, as a formidable fiction once said.

But don’t make it the only thing you do. Here endeth the platitude part of the lesson.

We’ll be moving in some way, of course. I think it’s better to try to move ahead making art, deliberately and thoughtfully. We’re defined by what we do, not what we don’t do.

Particulars of Noticing You’re Noticing: Part 3 of This Many

What do we do with all these things we’re noticing? If we start paying attention to both sides of things, we’re seeing details we overlook. We’re noticing how they fit into a larger context: the big picture. What’s after getting these new thoughts and images?

The things we take for granted, things we think are routine and familiar are full of life and fractalised components of being. But you don’t have to consciously apply the stuff you perceive to any creative thing you’re working on.

This act of trying to see deeply applies itself.

I would argue—and I do argue—that there’s a magic connection to your work, if you’re doing both things together. “Magic” not in a mystical sense, but in an ineffable I-don’t-know-how-this-works-but-it-happens sense. Making and creating is enhanced and enriched by your changing the way you move through familiar environments. And the fact that you’re working on art of some kind enlivens your mundane perceptions.

You don’t have to try. We can overthink the work very easily. I think a better way to improve and hone the thing you do is to carry the feelings and careful way of seeing (or listening) outside the place you make that thing.

Consider not boxing in your work. See if you can open the sense of flow throughout the rest of your day.

Working on Noticing Things: Part One of More

One of the things about being an artist that separates you is the quality of noticing things others overlook. Seeing unusual things or ordinary things in unusual ways is a key principle in most creativity. So how do you start?

First attempts: slow and steady. Any regular route you take-to work, regular errands, family houses—tends to blur into sameness over time. We get used to the sights and sounds and stop looking, seeing what’s there.

So start with your regular route somewhere. Start expanding what you notice. Small things. Out-of-the-way things. Write them down, somewhere.

Not Having the Answers Is Also Not Knowing What You’re Doing

I thought—actually said—this evening, “I have no idea what I’m doing” with these things I’ve been digitally painting. It’s a common feeling—and saying—among artists. It’s okay. The feeling is part frustration and part bemusement. But certainty doesn’t necessarily lead to breakthrough or even satisfaction. A little mystery is helpful.

Keep Looking. No, Harder. More. Again.

Just a reminder here—because most of us need reminding, now and again—to keep looking at everything around you. Noticing things others don’t notice is part of being an artist. You have to be able to convey a vision to the world, either an internal or a translated external one (come to think of it, inner visions have to be translated themselves).

In order to fully convey your vision to us, you need to have seen and absorbed what you’re putting down for others. You can’t do that unless you’re really good at seeing stuff.

It’ll seem too simple at first. Then, as you keep noticing and looking deeper and longer, you start to see that it’s almost infinitely complex, and you could get lost in the most mundane slice of your day. But don’t stop. The idea for your next thing comes from what you see and how much and how far you see into it.

Sick Day

I remember the last time I was sick. I can’t remember the last time I was this sick.

Most years I get one or two bouts of cold, the lingering, low-level kind. You know, the scratchy throat, the runny nose, the going to bed okay and waking up worse again, for lit’rally weeks.

But I can usually function, get around, go to work. That’s impossible with this thing. It’s a full-on flu, with attendant tight, phlegmy breathing and aches that have me staggering around like an eighty-year-old with a touch o’ the rheumatis’.

Something extra weird, though, that comes along with epic flu: the world seems surreal, dreamlike. It’s bizarre to have the universe wash over me like this, while I sort of watch in a stupor. It’s like being caught underneath a massive, transparent water balloon, things seem extra bright, but also muffled, sometimes a bit wavery.

I’m trying to understand how I feel, through the brain fog. I’d rather this wasn’t such a surprise next time.

Something positive to takeaway, gotta find something apropos to make a lesson out of, right? Um, maybe that everything doesn’t have to be a lesson. Sometimes observation is helpful and good.