I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t have one of those “Do As Twyla Does” months wherein I try to adhere to everything in The Creative Habit, mainly in the spirit of The Seventeen Magazine Project (which has now morphed into the obscenely thoughtful Teenagerie), complete with snarky commentary RE: the shit I definitely don’t agree with to the T. As of right now, I’m technically failing as Tharp likes to make an emphasis on a good schedule from which to extract good ritualistic practices that will eventually lead to things like better writing and artistic processes. The internet, although part of at least one of these processes, isn’t exactly conducive to starting my day as it is one big time suck — the biggest, even. That being said, I have reason to be on (READ: waiting for news on my financial aid, argh) and therefore I thought I’d do Day 2 of the Creative Biography. I mean, if one must be on, then why not consolidate?
NOTE: Goddamn, these questions made me get all introspective and harsh on myself. For those possibly getting into answering these questions: tread carefully! Be honest, but also be kind.
EIGHT: What is your creative ambition?
Whoa, this question isn’t light in the loafers at all! That being said, it’s an Important Question, so I’ll go ahead and meditate on it… if by “meditate,” I mean “think about what the most creatively-oriented gut instinct was out of the flurry of initial thoughts you had.” And although I have a lot of really ambitious thoughts RE: what I want my art to do, my largest ambition with what I want to do with my art is simple, as it always is: tell stories. A lot of the time, they are historical stories (and in retrospect, this makes more sense than it should), but not exclusively. This is connected with the fact that I really and truly find painting to be just another way to talk, but rather than get all purple prose with my descriptive exposition, I’ll just offer some canvas instead. It’s true that I want these stories to be considered important, for the canvases to raise awareness with things, for people to start thinking when they see the theme of an exhibition. But in the end, it all goes back to storytelling. Same with my writing, too.
NINE: What are the obstacles to this ambition?
Painting-wise: skill and figuring out a good, well, creative habit. The skill part is where my schooling comes into play; the creative habit is, presumably, part of the reason why the hell I’m doing this. Regardless: not doing a lot of my own studio work when left to my devices is a bit of a block, truth be told, and that’s not building up my skills. Once I’m able to get exactly what I’m imagining onto a canvas, a lot of the other problems (marketing, coping with the idea of selling my work for profit, etc.) will come. To wit, aside from the flippant-yet-true “writing this answer is an obstacle,” not having a consistent studio schedule that gets my ass downstairs and painting, there’s also the really scary reality that I might not get my financial aid in time. I’ve done the paperwork aspect, but now I’m just waiting for news that I’m going to be allowed to gain access to my financial aid. Apparently it takes a while for the paperwork to be processed, but it’s making me mad nervous. And although there’s a lot of people who say that being a self-taught artist is just fine, I definitely do not fall into that category. My university provides an excellent body of feedback for what I do and my professors know my work and my process, which in turn will give me the opportunity to be able to grow more because they’ll be able to tell me what I need to know in order to push my work to where I need it to be.
Writing-wise: I’m in a mad funk. Mad, mad, mad funk. To be honest, this isn’t the place to talk about my writing funk; I have another outlet for that and, frankly, the readers over there are more affected by the fact that I can’t get the proverbial fiction up than this blossoming community. But I need to do some inspection and introspection on the subject, that much I know; I need to find out whether it’s just a case of my not being in the writing habit for a while due to a very bumpy and hiccup-y summer of stresses and fun and more stresses or if I’m really and truly not in love with writing right now. And really, you can probably tell that this paragraph right here is just a stepping stone to a worse place, so I’m going to stop. Again: this isn’t the place.
TEN: What are the vital steps to this ambition?
Since I’ve decided to put to bed the writing obstacles (and, inadvertently, answered the question already with “serious thinking”), let’s talk about overcoming those painting obstacles. There’s letting the financial aid do its work/nagging them incessantly if it turns out that things are a mite bit slow, which in turn will encourage my education. The good and bad thing about education is that a portion of it is out of your control. You have to depend on the state to give you funding if you’re a schmuck like yours truly; so too do you have to hope that the professors you’re assigned will help push you further and make you grow stronger. But there’s also owning your education, too. You may not be constructing the lesson plans, but you can make the most out of your assignments and tailor them to your interests if you’re clever and careful. Listen to what the professor’s saying and even if you may not agree, try to ensure that you’re using it to the best of your advantage. Chew the fucking fat out of your education, get that diploma, and spit it out for all to see. You bet your bottom dollar I’m going to put the Bad Ass back in the Bad-Fucking-Ass degree in Painting I’ll receive circa May 2012, thanks ever.
But there’s the studio part, too. Let’s be frank: if I had as much enthusiasm to self-motivate myself to go paint downstairs as I do writing about how much my education is going to give to me, I would have had a mountain of canvases in my studio as of now. So really, I need to start getting this invested in educating myself by just painting and doing (which, truth be told, I actually am itching to do right now) — and yes, I do realize that I also need a regular studio habit. I have a feeling the below questions are going to (partially) help me with that.
ELEVEN: How do you begin your day?
WARNING WARNING: there is a duality to my schedule. This is probably a big sign as to why I haven’t had a strong studio habit. That being said: let’s describe both.
SCHOOL SCHEDULE: Wake up c. 6am, slap snooze button. Weep when I realize that I have to get up. Drag ass out of bed, do initial bathroom pit stops, make tea, curl up in miserable ball on couch and bemoan that I am awake this early in the morning. Stare up with bleary eyes when mom walks in and says good morning in a tone that is actually good. Spoon with dog. Enjoy snuggles, belly rubs, pseudo-hugs, even face licks. Realize tea is ready and crawl to get it before going back on couch and waiting for the weather to come up. Realize everyone is out of the bathroom and I know the weather report, so I can get started with the usual: brush teeth, wash face, fire up straightener whilst I get dressed, do hair and (in case of wearing contacts) make-up. Hurry about getting breakfast and lunch ready for self, along with making mental inventory of what I need to bring to school today. Confer with mom RE: whether or not we’re ready and depart for school/work, blasting Morning Edition all the while.
WEEKEND/SUMMER SCHEDULE: Wake up c. 9am, slap alarm off. Wake up c. 10am with second alarm, slap it off too. Actually wake up at noon, wondering why I am alive. Crawl out, make food and tea, sit on the couch. Fire up computer, read e-mail and all my time-wasting websites, soon realize it’s 4pm and I’ve wasted the entire afternoon, start my cycle of hatred and self-loathing that only ends when I am tossing and turning like a disgusted insomniac in bed and have to listen to either Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! podcasts or David Attenborough to lull me to sleep and mental ease.
TWELVE: What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat?
If we’re just looking at the schedule’s up there: good lord, it’s tea. I only repeat tea. Lady Grey is my binky. It’s not like I didn’t know this, but oh my god. Actually, I forgot the part with my weekend/summer schedule that involves snuggling with the dog too. Basically, Lucille, tea, and having problems with getting out of bed are my big constants from schedule to schedule and that is it.
That being said, I’m pretty sure that Tharp meant what are my general habits and patterns. Again: taking care of my dog and drinking tea is a constant. So is taking my vitamins, as they are doing me a lot more good than evil. Sometimes, exercise makes an appearance; to be honest, my occasional unhappiness would be healed if I did this a great bit more. A while ago, checking my e-mail and Google Reader was also a constant, but in recent weeks I’ve been something of an e-recluse and I’ve been dropping off on that too. Watching series like MythBusters, Dirty Jobs, and Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations before going to bed is also a bit of a habit.
Point being: a lot of my habits are lazy habits. I’d recite more and more, but they’re really starting to gross me out. I think I need to make a new habit: SCHEDULE THE FUCK OUT OF THINGS. But tea, I’m never gonna give you up, let you down, run around, or hurt you. You’re constant. You too, puppycup.
THIRTEEN: Describe your first successful creative act.
It was a narrative that I wrote for a collaborative writing project. I couldn’t tell you what, exactly, but I was content with it and that’s what matters. In fact, you can herald them into one swoop after that, since I’m not going to be like “and then my second successful creative act was another narrative piece.” Lame.
FOURTEEN: Describe your second successful creative act.
A self-portrait I did at the very end of Drawing II, the likes of which I do not have on JPG. Now, it seems really dated to put that, but if you read up on the last question, it’ll make sense.
FIFTEEN: Compare them.
To describe why these were two acts are grouped together is to understand my definition of a successful creative act: something that I made that was true to itself from concept to finish. The vague “narrative” that I spoke of? A carbon copy of what I had imagined in my mind for the scene. Same with the self-portrait, as it dealt a lot with the idea of feeling invisible, transparency, identity, the concept of home, as well as words and how they make you a person. It was a lot to get into one image and although I look at it now and think that it’s stylistically dated, it’s definitely a great example of expressing myself conceptually from start to finish. Right now, that’s not as easy for me to do and that clouding is scary and a little disconcerting.
… but you know, rather than whine about it, I’m going to get down into the studio (finally, as it took me two hours to fill this out…?) and do less ruminating and more working. Maybe it’ll make things better. I hope so.