NaNoWriMo Day #30- Time for a creative revolt

30 11 2016

Weather: Weird end to a Weird Month. Been in the low 50s and WINDY. Having intermittent rain. Just odd. Next week?  Here’s the snow we’ve been not seeing. Hello December.

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winner

Yep. Got to 50 K. Validated and everything. And it’s a giant mess. Sigh. Well, I was mostly aiming just to get the structure of the thing in place. I think I will feel better once all the jagged edges are better stitched together.

November 2016 has been, for lack of a better phrase, a bit of a dumpster fire. Between this clown car of an election and the crazy series of events that seems to be following and the added deaths that the bloody Grim Reaper that is 2016 has racked up…I’ll be more than happy to see the backside of this year.

I found that I’ve spent more time away from social media and the news, and truth be told, I feel better mentally for it.

Probably a good sign that I need to get out of the online cesspool and back into life again. Studio time has been languishing for no good reason. Creative deep diving always makes me feel better, so I may need to take a moment and analyze why I’ve not been indulging.

I read the below post recently and it’s served as a bit of perspective and calming reassessment of all things that are currently giving me indigestion. Read it and take a  moment to breathe. And consider all the ways there are to battle cruelty and darkness and ugliness in this current time. Not all battles require fists and angry retorts. Sometimes our energy is better spent facing down the awful with overwhelming beauty and compassion. Shame the terrible venom by drowning it out with cavernous shining art and creative output. There is plenty of room  in the battle for both the hard and soft approach. (Keeps ’em off balance. 😉 )

There is no time for despair

I’m off to spend some time away from my keyboard for a bit.

Keep making art. Keep writing. Keep making music. BE CREATIVE.

Bullies and demagogues have no defense against those who refuse to engage and step around them. Sometimes we shine a light on dark things to make sure they don’t take root. Other times we starve them of attention so they wither on the vine. Both methods are effective and they work in concert beautifully.

Art can be reactive and proactive. Do both. Do it all.

Words can be weapons, sharp and subtle in the same breath. Images can soothe and disturb and incite and reassure. Music can inspire  or commiserate. Bring all your emotions and stories and statements out.

Make Art. Everyday.

 





Final Lap on my Forties

13 01 2016

Weather: January. Snow. Wind. Crappy roads. Lather Rinse Repeat. (Been in the Teens, temps wise. But yeah. Unrelenting winds, snow and shoveling. )

So yesterday was my birthday. And as the second half of my life approaches,  I didn’t post on the day but after.

Had a lot of mulling to do. My Birthday posts tend to have a lot of mulling. I think there’s an obscure law somewhere about that.

AP_Blog_LondonQuote

Jack London, who shares my birthday, is saying very much where I landed after a lot of thinky thoughts. And wine.

I decided that, since I was turning 49 and about to face that dubious benchmark year of 50 on the very near horizon, I needed to do something this year to give my forties a proper send off.

My forties have been very good, catastrophic medical incident aside. (Every decade has an outlier.) I’ve managed to accomplish a lot of things: Moving out of Indiana, getting a working studio, buying a house, and finally getting the gumption to get motivated about things again. It’s been a lengthy transition decade.

So I figured, why not do something akin to a bucket list, without the Sword of Damocles of Death hanging over the end of it? An anti-bucket list of sorts. I’m going to try and do something I’ve never done before, every week this year. I’m not making a checklist in advance. Instead, I’m just going to try something new or accomplish some new goal every week. This will give me roughly 50 new experiences by the time my 50th birthday rolls around. I think that’s a doable goal and what the hell, why not?

I’m not making a checklist because things and opportunities crop up all the time,  and then the list either gets longer or things get knocked off because of no time. Nah. I’ll fill in the blanks as I go. And they don’t have to be world changing, life altering things. Just something new.

Truth is…I’m kinda bored with things right now. I find myself slipping back in to old habits, mostly the bad kind, when I get bored. So, I’m giving myself a challenge and a deadline. I love deadlines. Seriously, it’s amazing what I can get done if I have a deadline. And a challenge? Hoo boy. Let me tell you a little secret about me. I’m a ragingly competitive person. I just don’t activate that part of myself very often. Mostly because I can turn into an asshole.

People wonder why I avoid sports or video games– That’s why. Husbeast has seen some glimpses of it, and he gets that worried look when it shows up.  I need a healthy way to be competitive. So I compete with myself. Usually by playing games that don’t require an opponent other than myself. Or I give myself a rigid deadline for some challenging task. (NaNoWriMo is an excellent example. I will  go without sleep or potty breaks to make that deadline. Which is why I tend to “Win” when I decide to do it. )
Boredom-Quotes-82

I’m hoping that I can direct some of that self-competitive energy into getting healthy as well. Sometimes it’s as easy as daring myself to do something. Go without a particular type of food for a while. Hit a particular fitness goal I may have not reached before.

My biggest obstacle, is sadly ALSO myself. Because I can both talk myself out of doing things with extremely  compelling and elaborate excuses and also enable bad behavior by dressing it up as a reward for good behavior (Went to the gym for 5 days straight–I deserve an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s.) 

So this is a series of challenges wrapped in a bigger challenge. (Challenge Inception?).

The smaller challenges are to keep me from being bored. The bigger over all challenge? To not get derailed and sidelined by my too easily distracted or enabled self.

I think I can do it. And that will make me happy. I’d like to enter the second half of my life with fewer potential regrets (balanced on top of the idea that getting older may not keep you from doing something, but it makes some things a little less easy or possible.)

On a side note, I’m still kind of in denial about Bowie. It’s hard to accept he’s gone, but as many have said, his legacy is long and will last. I intend to keep a small bit of stardust in my soul, to keep his unwavering artistic energy alive. It’s the tiny way I can honor his artistry and spirit.

So that’s pretty much the holy all of it. I’ll be posting at least weekly, updating on the things I’ve accomplished and sharing the experiences. Husbeast is on board as well, at least in the supporting me in doing this. (He’s gonna be along for the ride on a few things. I’m sure he’ll be giving me that raised eyebrow look when he reads that. 😀 )

So 49 years. 49 trips around the sun. Not as much to show for it as I would have hoped, but still plenty to be proud of, so there’s a nice balance there.

Here’s hoping the year unfolds with less stumbling blocks and few more accomplishments I can add to my dusty shelf.

download

 

 

 





Ashes to Ashes…

11 01 2016

Weather: Snow. Cold. January. All you need to know.

I’d intended to wait until tomorrow to post my annual HOLY CRAP AM I GETTING OLD post for my birthday, but then I woke up to a Facebook timeline filled with shock and sadness.

The Starman, the Thin White Duke…ZIGGY STARDUST…David Bowie had died. 

This didn’t compute. I just literally would not accept it. Bowie was made of stardust and alchemy and WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO EVER LEAVE US.  He was supposed to be Immortal, always the glorious inspiring chameleon, made of equal parts changeling, genius, elegance and mischief.

I spent a few minutes tearing up as the truth sunk in.  Told my husbeast. We were both stunned.  I posted my numb reaction. Liked a lot of other people’s posts, gobsmacked that every post both individual and community was  remarking on his passing. No one had known he was sick, that cancer had sunk it’s fucking awful claws into him. Eighteen months he’d been ill.  I’m glad his family was able to keep it quiet so he might have some peace in the end.

A new album, Blackstar,  had come out, and the husbeast and I had watched the latest video, for the single Lazarus, just this past weekend. We both noted the somber tone, the haunting visuals and that David looked….aged. More so than we remembered. It should have been a sign.

When Freddie Mercury passed, I felt a similar soul level pain. Both Freddie and David were more to me than just artists I admired, or musicans who’s songs I liked. They had been with me since I was a little girl. My first two “rock” songs that I’d heard were Bohemian Rhapsody and Fame. Needless to say, glitter rock and Glam would end up being a big chunk of my musical foundation.

Bowie was a constant fascination. Even though I may have not been a fan of every album release or single, I was always eager to hear and see what he was putting out. Bowie taught me to be brave with creative choices. They might not all work, but they were worth the risk to see if they could. Bowie was art to me. He was a living breathing gallery of possibilities that were never boring.

Later in life, when I began to understand things like gender fluidity and androgyny and looking at life with an nonjudgmental eye, I saw the Bowie legacy in the wide spectrum of friends I had in my life.

Just as my palate for food changed as I got older, my musical palate changed as well. I discovered I had new appreciation for songs that I dismissed when I was younger, saw complexity in the themes and  words and the intelligence behind both when I listened to his songs.

One particular memory popped up this morning. I remember seeing an interview with Tina Turner, back around the time of Live Aid, where she had just done a concert where David had shown up to perform “Tonight” with her. The interviewer had asked her what performing with Bowie was like. I remember Tina getting very quiet for a second, holding a hardcover book in her lap. She paused and seemed to pick her words very carefully.  “David is very smart.” she said, very quietly.” I asked him how he came to be so very smart, and he said, ‘I never stop learning. I never stop reading’, so I started reading everything I could get my hands on.”

I remember that interview so clearly, because Tina Turner seemed to have the same sort of humble admiration for the man that I did. Tina always joked about how she was one of the guys when talking about Mick Jagger and such, but when she talked about David, it was about this elegant gentleman who was so polite to her and she admired so much. That reaction stuck with me.

When Bowie married Iman, I was like, OF COURSE. Those two amazing people belonged together. Like a matching set of class and elegance and intelligence. It seemed like the Universe just smiled and said: Here you go. This is what you should aspire to be.

I was always so happy that the husbeast and I got to see Bowie live at the Area 2 concert. Watching Brian’s face light up with absolute joy when Bowie played Ashes to Ashes is one of my all time favorite memories. We felt like we were in some mystical church, awash in ardor for the man on stage.

Bowie was an inspiration to me on more levels than I can even begin to tell. I find it amusing that large swaths of my musical fan history is like playing One Degree of David Bowie. All paths lead back to the Goblin King.

The number of bands and musicians I liked that listed Bowie as a major influence was endless. Seemed like every time I found a band I liked there was an inextricable link back to Bowie, sometimes more than just one link.

I was a huge fan of Def Leppard starting in the mid 80s, and they were unabashed in their love of Bowie. Another band that I got into via Def Leppard were Mott the Hoople. Guess what? They did songs with David Bowie as well. Duran Duran? HUGELY influenced by Bowie. Nine Inch Nails? Trent Reznor was in a Bowie video and toured with Bowie. Even today, no one would deny Bowie’s tendrils wrapped around Lady GaGa. There are millions of bands today that have their roots in either the musical or artistic primal earth of Bowie’s influence.

(Not to mention the epic covers…Bauhaus & Bowie, forever linked in my mind for this and the opening of The Hunger. )

So why do I cry so hard at this man’s sudden disappearance from our lives?  Because he never stopped creating till the day he left, because, and I quote someone else in this, “He looked death in the eye and said, hey, I can use this”. His life and his art and his influence have inspired me so much over the years. He taught me to be brave creatively, to ignore the mediocrity of the mainstream, but find the nerve to wade into its midst and be stubbornly weird against the tide of obstinate conformity. Mostly though, Bowie made me feel like it was okay to be smart and keep learning and try things, no matter if others didn’t get it, because some might and in the end, that was enough.

I will miss him. I’m just glad for all the art he left for us. Someday maybe we’ll figure it all out, but I hope not. There’s magic in the mystery and wonder in the weird.

the-many-faces-of-david-bowie





The Journey Continues! (after a few glitches & pitstops)

14 06 2015

Weather:  Weirdly wet and cool June so far. Steady in the low 70s & overcast or rain alternating.

On the personal front, had my throat surgery this week. Polyp on my vocal cord is gone, but apparently replaced with a mild case of Bronchitis. Because let’s face it: Nothing can go smoothly in recovery for me apparently. Alas. So while I sit here, on seven days of restricted voice usage, I’m hacking and coughing like a 2 pack-a-day smoker. The irony is not missed on me by the way….

But there’s an upside, as there always is. By this time next week, gods willing and the river don’t rise, I should FINALLY have a clean bill of health.

Which means it’s time to kick off all the sad “ashes and sackcloth of Woe is Me” and get back to work. I’m finding the one thing that has been lacking lately has been creative drive. I’ve been to the studio, but cranking out work has been a little joyless lately. Functional but not passionate. And that kinda sucks. Hard to be motivated to work on things when it’s starting to feel paint by numbers. I’m taking the tact of stepping back and getting some smaller things worked on first. Easily accomplished goals. I need to make room in the brain meat for bigger things.

I’m beginning to understand that I still haven’t quite found my voice as an artist yet. My path, if you will. Maybe my interests are too eclectic to have a”style” and maybe that’s just the way I work.  Still…the health related disruptions have been problematic less in the “taking away time” realm and more in the “distracting my brain from art” way. The fraud police have shown up with their threatened “You’re a Hack” sign and I’m hard pressed to argue with them about it.

Not having been trained in art — I was a science & communications major in college– trained my brain differently.  I tend to see the world in patterns and logic. Which can work on artistic level to a certain extent, but being married to someone who has design in his background and a fantastic grip on color theory, makes me think I’m going about things the wrong way.  I think I’m trying to emulate artists who see the world much more differently than I do.  Abstract only works in the geometric for me, not in the impressionistic sense. I like my intersecting circles and squares and sharp colors. I’m not particularly blessed with talent to do realism or portraiture, though I have no doubt with more training I might be able to make a credible go at it.

Maybe that’s the hitch, right there. I want to make things. Now.
Create things.
Leak my weirdly acrobatic brain-fevered visions onto some sort of substrate and present it to the world.
Yet, I keep getting tangled in my own shoelaces.

Reading a lot of motivational artistic philosophies and inspirational pieces can sometimes amount to feeling like you’re in the middle of a circle of well intentioned people shouting cross-purpose advice at you through megaphones. Individually it’s good, but it can be contradictory in places, leading to the “two steps forward, one step back” feeling of “Is this what you meant? No? How about this?”

As a mosaic artist, I know there are a LOT of incredibly talented artists out there, all making some incredibly pieces, in various sizes, in all sorts of media. There’s a rather elastic definition of art versus craft in this field. Depending on who you talk to, everyone has their own criteria for what counts as respectable art and merely amusing craft. As per expectations, you can get two different definitions from two different people on the same day. So, do you try to create your work with a eye towards how it will be defined and therefore, pigeonholed? Or do you just get on with making the best work you can and flesh out the ideas in your head with the media and tools you have on hand? I think the answer is kind of self-evident there.

Sometimes, my biggest stumbling block comes in the weirdest aspects of creating– I question whether I’m using the “right” supplies or the “right” technique. I’m still learning -a lot, to be sure- but even things I know I have gotten worked out… still they get a second guess, then a rather severe judgment on my part. Mosaic supplies aren’t cheap and to get the look that a lot of other artists have managed, I would have to finance a lot more options. So, do we make art with what we’ve got and compromise on the vision, or do we sacrifice for the supplies and possibly curtail other projects that can’t be made now either? Silly how economics can kneecap you, isn’t it?  (Of course the flip side to that problem is the “Oh wow, they’re having a sale! Let me stock up!– which is how you end up with piles of colored tiles or similarly colored marble you will not use and your studio becomes a “full-up closet with nothing to wear” situation)

Anyway. First world artist problems here.

My husbeast Brian is often fond of saying that our biggest problem (on so many fronts!) is that we can’t seem to get out of our own way. My creative problems seem to be falling very much under this heading.

I have some ideas. I’m going to do my damndest to get them made. So I think I’m going to take my inner art critic and garrote her in her sleep tonight.
Art isn’t hard.
Really, it isn’t.
Make what you love, make it to the best of your ability, and let it loose on the world. Sure it will be judged and compared, but that’s going to happen because: PEOPLE. You can either get hung up on the comparisons and judgments and get locked into stagnancy (which seems to happen to me too much) or you can just shrug and get on with the next piece. Like any creation, sometimes it finds it’s audience, sometimes it doesn’t.

Either way, it’s not your job to cater. It’s to create.

Time to get back to that. Can’t find an audience if you don’t provide something for them.

SO…..Back into the studio with me. Let’s hope once this stupid mucus stops trying to kill me, it can take the self-doubt with it when it goes.

Promised a more coherent post last time…yeah….well maybe next time. Hope is ever buoyant.

 





Ch-ch-ch-changes.

15 05 2014

So.

Long time — no post.

I have an excuse. A good one.

As I’m writing this, I am staring out the window of the apartment I now share with my Husbeast and our two KatKids, looking at Lake Michigan.

In the interim time between this post and the last one I posted, we have moved to Saint Joseph, Michigan, the Husbeast started a new job, we have our house back in NW Indiana on the market, and our lives have become radically different.

I’m happy…TRULY HAPPY for the first time in a long time. Considering we’ve gone from a 2400 sq ft home to a 700+ sq ft apartment, and 90% of our belongings are in storage at the moment, you could say we’re learning to live with less, and it’s far less difficult than I thought it’d be. We have mostly cut the cord on cable, with limited local stations, and use a Roku with Netflix & Hulu to catch up with our shows when we feel like it. I’m looking for a job, but we need a second car, alas-the only unforeseen bump in an otherwise seamless transition.

Granted the only downside at the moment is the loss of studio space, though we are working towards rectifying that situation. I’m back in writing/editing mode. Books that have been simmering on the back burner for too long are finally getting a focused look. Also, am sketching ideas for artwork to work on once we get a studio nailed down.

I’m suddenly in the perfect place to work on, share and join a community in art. Opportunities abound. The only intimidating factor is where to start!

I’m gonna try to start blogging a few times a week again. I actually have things to talk about again.

Let the adventure begin.

tumblr_mlnzh3zEjf1qz7sw8o1_1280





Expanding your Toolbox

27 09 2013

Personal update first:
Glanced at the dates and cringed. But I have a legitimate reason for falling off the posting cliff –After years of waffling, the Husbeast and I are FINALLY putting our house on the market, and getting ready to relocate.

Granted– our grand plans to move to the Pacific Northwest have been knocked over under the weight of financial realities, but they are not fully dead. Postponed rather than killed off.

We’re looking further east in Indiana, mostly because we can get more house for our (rather meager) housing dollar.

Now onto the meat of this post. The husbeast and I were chatting in the car this morning, heading to the train station where I drop him off for the commute into The City where he works. And by chatting I mean, he groggily nodded as I pontificated out loud. As you do.

We were listening to music from zee iPod and a My Chemical Romance song came on. I commented at length that I loved artists who had multiple outlets –e.g. Gerard Way sings (well, SANG) for MCR, but also has a very healthy career in comics, award winning even. Steven Archer & Donna Lynch from the band Ego Likeness also make amazing art & write great books.   It’s really less about the number of things that these artistic multi-taskers work on and more interesting to look at why they do it.

A lot of my friends are artists, writers and musicians. Not a calculated thing, I just have more in common with them. Most of them are single art/media focused. Which is fine, because they are VERY GOOD at that particular media. Several others are multimedia. Some have pursued the different branches of the art tree because they got bored of one particular track, or because, due to one unforeseen event or another, had to change track. (Injuries, money, relocation, etc.)

But there are a handful of my artist friends and idols who juggle multiple disciplines for the same reason I do: to expand their toolbox.

As creatives, a lot of us are usually juggling a bunch of ideas in our noggin, which makes for some uneasy translations from brain to physical manifestation.  Results can vary from satisfactory to “oh gods why did I even bother???” If you work in a single media, that can make things even more challenging, as a single media is limiting. If you only paint or sculpt or write, sometimes getting the idea in your head to manifest in the physical world can be like shoving the proverbial square peg into a round hole.

Your toolbox, as it were, doesn’t contain the right tool to tell the story or describe the image in your head.

At this point you can do one of three things: 1) wrestle the idea into shape as best as you can with the tools at hand, 2) abandon the idea and work on something else, or 3) you can decide to expand your toolbox and manifest the story/idea through different means.

Number 3 can be both exhilarating and daunting by equal measure. Trying a new method of idea translation, especially one you’re not well versed in,  can be frustrating.  But if you at least try, you might be surprised at the results. No one is going to be an expert the first time you try another method. If you’re a good painter, you’re not going to switch to sculpting and create at the same level instantly.  But here’s the rub: ideas are fluid and complex and never come with a step by step instruction how to manifest them. By adding different tools to your toolbox, you give yourself a wider selection of ways to tell your creative story.

I started out as a writer, with no intent of trying another media. I wrote to give my ephemeral brain stew some structure. Words were my building blocks. My ideas always came as images. Sometimes moving, sometimes still. The moving images were easier to write. They were movies, complete with soundtracks and actors and dialogue. I was writing the transcripts of these snippets and then, like putting concrete around a wire frame, I built a story.

The still images? They’re vivid, they’re specific and they don’t really do more than lodge themselves in my brain, waiting for passage into the physical world.  I stashed them in my brain locker , in carefully labelled Tupperware, for later use.

A few years ago, The Husbeast decided to take some stained glass classes. He’s a graphic design production artist, so his comfort zone is working with computers and design software. Learning a hands-on, physical art was new for him. (He’d dabbled in painting and art classes in high school, but nothing serious). He was instantly hooked. He started building pieces, working towards making Tiffany reproduction lampshades. Watching him get absorbed in translating images in his head using pieces of of glass and metal was fascinating. I started thinking that, since my novel had stalled in the middle of my gazillionth editing pass, maybe I too should find a craft that would allow a different outlet. Since there was a metric tonne of small glass pieces and leftovers from The Husbeast’s projects, I decided to try my hand at mosaics. I made some pieces for Christmas presents, and they turned out pretty damn good. Then the inevitable happened: The ideas started poking out the Tupperware in my head. All those still images that had stumped me now had a way to manifest. I bought sketchbooks, and to my surprise, found out I wasn’t too bad at drawing the things in my head. But even with this new tool in the toolbox, I realized that there were still ideas that I sketched that wouldn’t be served by mosaics. So I’m learning to paint, and photograph, and sculpt.  I want to learn to make tiles and pottery. I want to have as many tools at my fingertips as I can, so I don’t have to shove ideas into that Tupperware anymore.

I have no idea if I’ll be any good at any of these new tools, but my perspective has shifted.

Instead of taking my ideas and wrestling with them to make them work with the tool I’m best at, I’m now letting the idea dictate the tool.  I think all of us, all creatives, can be served better by increasing the options in our toolbox.

It doesn’t matter if it’s something as simple as learning a new brushstroke or switching the substrate you work on or changing the genre of your story, or if you decide to completely change the medium to something you’ve never tried before.

Tell your story in the best way you can.  Don’t be afraid if it seems impossible.

You got the idea, created it from nothing into something. Somehow, I think if your brain gifts you with art, it probably already knows how you need to make it.  Just find the art equivalent of the Babel Fish to translate it into life.