More Fundamentals

I spent many years thinking I was the best artist. And during those years had thought I was doing good art. But as time went on I found I was drawing less and less each day. Then I stopped creating altogether. The saboteur was hard at work. Now that I am dipping my toes into the waters of creativity again I am humbled by how challenging and difficult it can be to create, and so very excited for how refreshing and rewarding it can be. My hands and brain are not as in sync as I would like. I have lost some muscle memory. At times holding a pencil feels annoyingly foreign. It can be frustrating. I am a child learning to walk sometimes. But it builds new muscle and retrains my eyes and brain. I am a student learning to draw all over again. Or rather, I should say I am a student learning to draw for the first time. Still battling blocks and ego and myself but I am seeing little hints of progress and so I am grateful and excited to continue this process. The saboteur can take a backseat for a while.

While I want to create abstract expressionist and pop surrealism, I fully understand that doing this fundamental work is only going to make my work that much better. Who knows, maybe I find that I love doing landscapes and end up focusing on that a while xD

It feels good to get your hands dirty. To draw something. Even if it’s just practicing ovals. Or straight lines.

I highly recommend the incredible program from Brent Eviston, “The Art and Science of Drawing” (https://www.evolveyourart.com).

I am only just beginning with the Watts Atelier (https://www.wattsatelier.com/) online courses, but so far it’s exceeding expectations and exactly the kind of study I wanted. Someday I would love to attend in person.

Working On Those Art Blocks

I want to share something personal, and talk about my progress with dismantling art blocks. I think a lot of people could relate, or maybe are struggling with the same thing.

In 2015 I was beyond stressed out. Work at the marketing agency was taking its toll. I was absolutely overwhelmed. The anxiety go so bad that at the end of the year I literally couldn’t swallow food without choking. I had to step away from some projects at work but it was not enough. My wife recommended meditation. I had nothing to lose, so I started meditating. The first few times were difficult. I wanted to scream. My body was shaking. I wanted to cry. But I carried on and in time I started to see some change. Breathing was helping. We discovered a local mindfulness group. And in 2016 we took an eight week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class together. This was the real beginning in helping me work though stress & anxiety, but also in tackling these art blocks. It was there I started to learn to slow down my mind, put space around things. At the time I didn’t realize that the anxiety and art blocks were related. Or rather, that how I was reacting to anxiety was related to being creatively blocked. 

Staring down at a blank page would overwhelm me with anxiety. My brains response had been simply, “this is unsafe, you should go somewhere safe”, and then off I would go to things that made brain happy; video games, mindlessly scrolling junk food internet, movies/streaming, food, anything that wasn’t that scary blank page. I had a few failures at trying to burst through the wall that hurt. But I was determined. I was drawing a lot more, and taking courses on skillshare, etc, to help me to regain some confidence in some basics that I had felt I lost over the last 10 years.

By now it was 2019 and my wife saw me struggling and recommended creativity coaching with Tricia Poulos-Leonard. Tricia helped me to develop some concrete steps and plans for facing the blank page, and facing the many challenges in making art. Because of her tutoring I was doing a decent job of making art, and in fact I created more that year than I had in the previous 10 years. Such progress! But I was still struggling. The art blocks always seemed to rebuild themselves. Small failures would become devastating and would lead to large droughts and eventually to nearly abandoning it altogether. There was still a lot to work on.

So along comes goddamn 2020 and the pandemic throws everything upside down. After all the yard work and distractions were done and over, I was left to sit with myself and face the fact that my art blocks are still there, and I don’t even know what they really are. All I know is they exist. I also know that until I understand them I am not going to be able to create. And like magic, my wife comes through, again, with another incredible recommendation, this time in the form of a book: “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.

This book is amazing, and has helped to bring some clarity to what art blocks actually are. The book is presented as a 12 week course to help you with “artistic creative recovery”. The book was written in the early 90s and you can tell, but the lessons and tools are still valid. The author has some exceptional exercises designed to root out some core beliefs that keep you blocked. I learned a lot. I have new confidence and understanding. I will continue to do “artist dates” with myself, and I have been journaling daily. I have been able to connect some pieces with the anxiety to creating art. The core of which is unhealthy attachments to the artwork. I am revisiting some past failures, learning from them, and actually trying to salvage them.

I completed the book at Christmas 2020. It was a big deal for me and I am celebrating the success of not only committing and finishing the thing, but celebrating the changes in attitude towards creating art. I really feel I got to the root of some things. So much work has been done and still there’s so much to do, but now at least I can sit at the blank page and not freak out.

p.s.

My wife is my champion and I love her dearly. I realize that so much of this has been because of her support and gentle nudging.

ecso ecso ecso

In a previous life I was a graffiti artist. But I didn’t really understand it, and didn’t really vibe with it completely. I think it was too much of me trying to fit in rather than actually belonging. I remember someone getting annoyed at my sketchbook for being too artsy fartsy, which was pretty funny but also telling in what was important within the small scene in the area. But like, as an art form, I think it needs to be more than a tight wild style or fresh letter forms. Those are just like, details. The culture can be hyper focused on things that I don’t think actually matter. But there were many things I did love, and still have mad respect for. The technical quality of the craft by some is absolutely incredible. The passion for living and breathing graffiti. Those things are dope.

Graffiti is masculine energy and full of confidence. It’s also “fuck the system” and “fuck the rules” while being constrained by it’s own narrow systems and rules. It’s yelling into the void because no one is listening but you don’t really know what to say in the first place. It’s angry as shit. To me anyways.

I liked how this canvas turned out. I like the buffed out feel to things here. Paint, Buff, Paint, Buff, Repeat..

Hello, 2020!

Whew, goodbye 2019. What a year.

I rediscovered my love of art and creating art.

I have taken steps to break down a decade of creative blockers.

I have produced more work last year than I have in the previous 20 years combined.

The only thing left to do now is to continue creating!

Murky Brain Soup

Sometimes that brainfog settles in and i kinda struggle to surface a thought. sometimes i wonder about all the things i did to make that brain soup so murky.