I’m sitting here watching paint dry. Literally. Just watching paint dry.
I haven’t painted much over the last year. My creativity and drive to paint comes and goes – mostly it just goes. Lately I’ve been trying to spend more and more time drawing and painting. I tried taking a drawing class, but it was less structured than what I wanted and needed, so I didn’t do much and skipped more classes than I went to. I hated spending the first hour of class drawing the same slideshow of animals over and over and over and over and you get the idea. I have a larger scale painting (16×20) of Hawaii just sitting around waiting to be finished. I just cant get the greens and the Na Pali coast to appear the way I want it to, so again its just been sitting.
Over the last few months I’ve been trying to force my way out of these ruts and stop just watching TV (other things have helped not just wanting to lay around… again more on that later.. so mysterious…). I can’t quite place exactly what happened or why, but I started drawing Mandalas. Oh! now I remember. I bought a coloring book last October in Portland that is more of an adult coloring book. There are more lines and the drawings are more complicated. There are no boobs. It is not that kind of adult coloring book.
I started running out of pages and so headed to the internet to search for more coloring books like it and then found a book on drawing mandalas. I was going to buy the book and then I remembered my job doesn’t pay that much and I live in San Francisco and I have the whole internet at my fingertips. I have the perfect square smooth watercolor paper for creating mandalas. They have helped me get back into drawing and art and also are a major stress reliever. I’ve loved doing them so much that today I decided that I wanted to paint a larger one in acrylics, so that is the paint that I’m waiting for to dry.
When I started this particular mandala, it didn’t look perfect. I almost gave up. I thought to myself – why am I painting this? I paint landscapes and flowers -something tangible that people can see and know what it is. Why am I painting this abstract thing? And why am I not making it perfect and intricate? Why am I just making it simple and letting my lines go wonky and not measuring my circles out perfectly. I almost stopped.
Then I realized what my issue has been with art all along. I’ve never done it just for me. I’ve always done it for the final product. I’ve always wanted to make sure that I created for an audience. That someone else was meant to enjoy my painting so it needed to be perfect.
Why was I doing this? Isn’t the purpose of art really and truly for the artist them self above anyone else? I mean, I know that not every work of art was created solely for the artist – there are commissions and jobs that involve art and all that jazz, but really the work that started it all and that someone goes home and does to relax, isn’t that just for them? If someone else walks along and likes it, then great, but it should ultimately be for you.
I went back to work on my painting after this realization. I’m going to finish it and I’m going to keep it and its going to remind me of where I have been and and to compare later when I’ve done a few more and want to see what strengths I’ve developed.
I feel freer. I feel like my little creative soul has been caged and scared all this time to just do things. Just draw shit and paint shit and do whatever I want to do without thinking about anyone else and how they feel about it. So onward and upward to using all of these blank canvases I have to create things!
Its not every day you have a life altering moment. I’m glad I had one today and that my Friday night is being spent watching paint dry and listening to music (I might stop the music and watch the Netflix series remake of Wet Hot American Summer because its funny and Paul Rudd). When my painting is done, I’ll post a final picture and some progress pictures and you all can look at it and like it or not like it, I don’t care. You’re not paying me for it. Unless you really like it and you want to.
In the meantime, here are the terrible (and awesome) mandalas that I’ve done over the past few months for fun.
Yesterday I stumbled upon this nifty photo of a leaf that someone found in a lake.
I loved the little designs and have been looking for different patterns other than my trees for a special project that I’ve been working on.
So I took those little swirls and created some new postcard art with India ink and my quills. Two are of the leaf design and two are based on a necklace pendant that I have.
A while ago my friend told me about Coursera this amazing website where you can take college classes for free online. I’ve signed up for a few but never managed to actually finish one mostly due to poor timing on my part. I started taking this data science class and really wanted to finish it… and then I started working over 60 hours a week and couldn’t manage to fit it in.
But now I can! Well… not that class. I’m too far behind, BUT this art class I signed up for just started and by golly I am determined to finish it! I know, its weird. Taking an art class online. But so far, its been pretty interesting. This past week we learned about fantastic art. – dadaism, individual fantastic artists, and surrealism. We then had to create our own ‘fantastic’ art piece exploring the ‘absurd, bizarre, imaginary, whimsical, and grotesque’ using any, all, or none of the techniques we discussed in the course. After all, this whole period was about stretching the bounds and just doing your thing.
Anyway, from here on out, I’ll post a bit about what the theme of the week was, my artist statement, and then the two pictures of the work that I submitted.
It took me a while to figure out what kind of feel and technique I wanted to use for this work. I was unsure of the approach I wanted to use and if I wanted to fit myself into one of the movements that we studied. After some thought, I chose to go as a more individual approach using my artistic style paired with my inner dream world and allowing the public to glimpse my idea of my subconscious.
After careful thought, I decided to go with mixed media for my piece, ‘Night’s Journey’ including magazine cut outs and india ink. I first began the piece using watered down ink and a brush to get the wash effect in the background while trying to make it appear like storm clouds. I knew I wanted to go with a nightmare theme and was lucky enough to find photos of costumes worn around the world of nightmaresque creatures in an issue of National Geographic. I paired these with a few photos from Glamour magazine – the child in the clown costume and the Barbie dolls. I added in the lips and the eye for a more sexual feel. Instead of leaving solid lines around the cut outs, I decided to tear the edges giving it an even more unfinished feel.
The idea of this work came from a dream I had when I was around 15. I dreamt that I had a key that could open any door in this parallel universe. I decided to take a dark approach to this dream as I tend to have nightmares and am really drawn to how dark the subconscious can be even in someone whose personality doesn’t quite reflect that. I chose to lay out my images in a way that would appear that the doors were floating in the mist and clouds with stairs leading up to them, so that the journey man (a small cut out at the bottom of the page who is almost unnoticeable) can choose his door.
I chose to go with the images of the nightmare creatures paired with some images that don’t quit fit into those categories. In my experience with nightmares, you might begin your journey in a dream and end somewhere completely different and much darker. I want those images – the barbies, the child in the clown costume, the eye, and the lips – to make the viewer as uncomfortable if not more so than they would be looking at say the man in the Krampus costume (top, middle). I want the viewer to really think about the lack of control you have in your subconscious and how it can really lead you astray with the stories that it creates while you’re fast asleep.
What! Two posts in one day! I think I’m just trying to make up for the utter lack in communication that I’ve had with my world of blog readers for the past few months.
Here are a few photos I took a few days ago when the sun came in my windows and hit all of my necklaces hanging up AND some photos of art that I did today. Its not the best at all, but it was fun and I was just practicing.
… I write this post.
Actually there won’t be much writing. This post is mostly about artwork.
My next post – which I’m going to work on tonight – will be written with ink-stained hands. Sort of.
Tonight I felt the pull to create some new artwork. I may or may not be tossing around the idea of starting an Etsy shop at some point in the future mostly for thank you cards and hand made postcards and small works with India ink and some with water color.
All of these were started with India ink. The first two also had watercolor paints used.
The rest are just ink.