Posts Tagged ‘ motivation ’

When snot keeps you from putting the “labor” back in Labor Day.

It’s Labor Day weekend and I don’t have time to be sick.

It’s not a particularly large illness, as it were, but it’s your garden variety Cold That Doesn’t Allow You To Breathe, and I’ll be damned if I can schedule in a serious case of congested nasal passages. I have two paintings due by next Wednesday, a model to make for a public arts project proposal, a commission to start, a job application to fill out before my interview next week — which, of course, will involve sweet calls to my friends scattered across the nation, wherein I beg them to vouch for my charming countenance, ability to stay on-task, and go-get-’em attitude. (Naturally, no reader of this blog will be allowed to be listed as a Personal Reference. Ever.) And did I mention that it’s Labor Day weekend? You know, the last damned break I get before the trees go to skeletons and the wind is too bitter to consider any semblance of recreational joy? Why yes. Yes, I did.

And yet, here I am in Congestionville, USA. It’s a very sexy destination if you’re into dripping noses, uncomfortable pressure on your eardrums, and the siren song of a honking, circus-red nose. Before everybody starts lining up to take me to the Miss Mucous pageant, however, let me just mention that I’m attempting to change the course of my present physiology. “What? No!” you’re crying, “Say it ain’t so!” Oh, but it is, my dear, faceless and anonymous friend. Oh, it is. I just finished with a futile attempt to spicy out my sinuses with an ramped-up leftover curry+sriracha cure and a steam bath of thyme is presently beckoning to me with curly little tendrils of love, care, and perhaps comfort. Something I learned from the Sinus Infection From Hell last semester: never underestimate a good steam bath for your schnoz. Granted, I’m not breaking out the Afrin for this particular trip until the absolute last minute, but I do believe in the power of herbs that are not of the marijuana sort.

I’m trying to imagine myself a month ago in this state. It would have involved sulking in my sickness, feeling feeble and incapable of doing jack crap because oh my God, I’m sick. I wouldn’t have touched this but rather went back to sleep or to watch Create re-runs/entire seasons of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations whilst feebly sipping peppermint tea and sighing. Life is so hard when you’re congested, oh woe is me, &c. It’s funny what mild depression relapses will have you do, I think, such as believe that the only thing between you and creating greatness involves a pile of Kleenexes and a pounding headache. On the other side and you’re just like, “This is a bunch of bullshit, pure and unadulterated crap. Now let’s steam the fuck out of my head, take some Advil Cold and Sinus, nut up, and shut up — not necessarily in that order, either.”

I think I’m going to keep it this way. Maybe. Knock on wood.


Hard knocks and creative habits.

This week has been rough balls. To quote a draft that’s hanging out in my WordPress account:

This week has already had me through the ringer and it’s only Wednesday. I won’t give too many boring, mopey details, but let’s just say that the 0:2 loss that the US suffered at the hands of Brazil at the friendly last night was probably the icing on the Anxiety and Hyperventilation Cake.

If we’re being honest here, the above is an understatement. After all, when one of your required hurdles in straightening out your financial aid is going to the state’s Federal Building, your stress levels are not at their healthiest lows. It’s definitely a great way to harsh your post-vacation mellow, which is why there is still a draft for my first Montana Tale lingering in the Drafts category instead of in front of your eyes. But fortunately, there’s a happy ending — mostly, the Fed Building and the IRS are not nearly as scary as I thought they would be and the gears are back in motion. There’s a wealth of other good things that have occurred within the past week that have kept me on the even keel, some of which were even featured in that famed draft that I keep making reference to in this post. Let me steal some of those Good Things* from there and add a few more of my own to the mix. It’ll be like giving you an actual entry!

  • I joined 20 Something Bloggers, as the little badge to the side with the link to my profile professes. So far, everyone has been too kind RE: leaving comments on my blog and the like. It said that I should invite friends, but a lot of the people that I talk to on the internet don’t usually blog and those who do… well, I don’t know, they might like to? Bueller? Bueller? Anyway, I’ll let the handful of readers I think I have from the IRLs read this and check it out of their own volition. In turn, if there’s anybody here from 20sb: hi! Welcome! I hope that my blog doesn’t (under)whelm you. I’m trying best to blog more frequently, etc. etc.; the fact that I have 3 posts this month is a miracle that I am celebrating as I type. You will find that my apologies for not updating as much as I “should” constitute at least 25% of the content on this blog. Actually, make that 30-43%, if we’re all being honest here. The rest, however, covers most of what the sidebar/”ABOUT” page is talking about, so hurrah!
  • Starting knitting again! I’m making a baby blanket for my hairdresser/magician and it’s going pretty well. A few more rows and I’ll be done with the border and starting on the ~inside~. It’s a superb apple green color! I’m also making my baby sister this cute little number and it’s coming along happily as it’s considerably speedier than a baby blanket. Also, thank god, it’s much more portable and kept me sane within the scary waits at the IRS. After that, I’m going to be making some socks with some leftover sock yarn that my mother bought ages ago and forgot she purchased and some new needles from KnitPicks. Basically, it’s one big fiber Renaissance.
  • I found a new collection of Dirty Jobs on Netflix. This is big. You have no idea.
  • I’ve also been reviving my reading practice, complete with getting through a book in a day again for the first time in… a long time! It was Big Fish. I enjoyed it. My big vacation book was The Innocents Abroad, which I enjoyed immensely despite my simplistic review to the contrary, and now I’m reading The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. Go figure, but this my big transition into the actual content of my blog today — after all, it’s almost the beginning of school soon, so lord knows I need to get back on track RE: ruminating on ~creative process~. I hear it’s my non-apology schtick or something.

So, this book was recommended to me by a friend whose creative opinion I value very greatly. (Not that I don’t value her other opinions, but she’s a pretty keen illustrator/animator and therefore when she recommends something of a creative bent, especially when it applies to process, I sit up and listen. Ugh, this is probably going to just dig me a greater hole, but whatever.) It was big enough of a deal that I went to the library and held it on inter-library loan. That’s right, everybody: I went the distance for this book. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. It came into the library just yesterday and I’ve spent most of the morning perusing its advice on how to become a more productive creative being. I haven’t finished it, as my Goodreads account will attest, but I’ve chewed away a decent enough chunk to give an unsolicited verdict on the book at large.

So, Tharp sells this book as a universal approach for artists — that is to say, painters, writers, dancers, and musicians alike — that are struggling with making creation a regular part of their everyday lives. Mostly, this is true, but there are aspects of the book that read painfully as if she’s talking to dancers and dancers alone. The book is rife full of exercises that I find to be particularly important (and more on that later), but there are a few that make me balk — mostly, if not exclusively, because they read as if they’re for dancers only. I’m thinking of the Egg exercise especially, wherein Tharp instructs you to go into the fetal position and to take delight in whatever movement you create from that. Although I am belatedly realizing that I could apply this to my work as a figural painter (and yes, maybe some abstract work too), I’m failing to see how this could help a writer or musician. Furthermore, for someone who was an art history major, the way that Tharp talks about painting as a process makes me cringe sometimes. There’s also a self-satisfaction in her tone about talking that grates against my delicate sensibilities. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a mere twenty-three to her sixty-nine, but between the name-dropping (Maurice Sendak is my bff!!!1) and the way she talks about her successes and how you too can get there, I groan sometimes. Granted, I get it: she’s an insanely popular and successful choreographer that has decades of experiences that I can only imagine at this juncture in my life, but I think what bothers me about her occasional narcissism is that she’s supposed to be appealing to the everyperson who is trying to become creative too. That and she advocates temper tantrums at one juncture. Temper tantrums. Really? Maybe it’s just me, but anger never gets me anywhere. But whatever.

That being said, there is a great deal of good in this book. Her chapter on “The Box” is invaluable, because it appeals to that OCD organizer in me, as well as the part of me that needs (and loves) to do more research in order to make good work. As many past articles will opine in this blog, I frequently ache for a way to use my sketchbook that makes sense to me — and said chapter made oodles of noodles of sense! She also makes excellent points about what are cornerstones for creative prowess, involving memories, metaphor, and — yes — hard work. There is one questionnaire in particular that I think would be very valuable to anyone who wonders where their art may be coming from or what have you and I think I’m going to make it a series next week, knock on wood! I’m thinking about posting it on one of the 20sb groups next week, so we’ll see how that goes.

But first: taking back my weekend by posting two of my largest Montana stories. Because real girls post on their blogs on the weekends, damnit.


* No Martha.

Housecleaning and monthly inventory abound.

With the start of  The Thirty Days Project looming on the horizon, I’ve had a sudden need to hurry hurry around and clean things up! A new theme here, a correction of the tone in my tertiary pages there. Apparently, I was feeling inherently hostile with how I was going to be perceived with this blog last year when I started it. That’s unfair, both to the reader and to yours truly. To you, because it implies that you’re not adult enough to embrace the fact that I swear, may or may not take feminism “too seriously,” and fret about my artistic career too much. To me, because I apparently feel that being myself needs to be something that I apologize for, which is foolish! To be human is to be insecure, I suppose, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to kick that need in the bud. Rewriting things is cathartic, if only because I want this to be a friendly place for group members to read. By the by, if you’ve come by after I made my introduction this evening: hello, Thirty Day-ers! Happy to see you here. I can’t wait to see what you do this June and hope that you’ll be open to offering critique on what I’m making, too!

Along with sprucing up the blog, I’m also getting my State of the Union post over and done with before the June bell tolls. Logic being: before you become a double-poster in your own blog, perhaps you should have a steady stream of single posts a day. After that, you can build and it’ll be a party! One day, I’ll become a blogger that is less “I hope to write more” and is more about the topic at hand, but for the moment, one of this blog’s projects is blogging, so there we are. Er, was that a bit too meta?

Since I’m treading onto a veritable Moebius strip of logic, allow me to offer a photograph that I took on the way down to Bloomington a few weekends ago for your trouble before you read the rest of the entry. Thank you, sports setting on my camera, for making on-the-road photography possible:

So the little camera can handle motion photography after all? Nice.

So the little camera can handle motion photography after all? Nice.

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On book shows and creative challenges!

A week ago, I went down to the Indiana University Art Museum to see a show curated by my Bookbinding professor. Out of the kindness of her heart, she decided to give those in the Book Arts courses at IUPUI the opportunity to have our work displayed throughout the month of May, and I was fortunate enough to have four of my books featured in the atrium of the Fine Arts Library at the Museum. Unfortunately, due to Museum rules, I couldn’t use my normal camera and was thus forced to smuggle in my cell phone and Tweet the images out to the public. Here are a few from my dubious little lens, although more images are available at my Twitpic account.

True story: part of this book is sewn!

I-17 is a fold book about my big, fat boner for Arizona. It's made from printer paper and a really awesome Tibetan rag paper being sewn together on your garden variety sewing machine. The dust box for it was made with the same beautiful Tibetan paper and handmade cotton paper. Good times!


Piano hinge books are difficult enough to make, but when you decide that gluing together coloring book pages is a good idea, it gets double hard because of the lack of flexibility the paper has. I decided to make this book on a rather OCD elementary school art teacher who had very exacting rules RE: what one should and shouldn't do when coloring. Shit was crazy, but it stuck with me for life.

ANALOGY: An Accordion Book with a Clamshell Box

Analogy was a very frail book; its accordion page spine was made from this really wispy paper that was originally used for wedding invitations. As such, it was given a small clamshell box to protect it from handling. Go figure: the damn thing fits so perfectly, it's pseudo-stuck in the box. Analogy, by the by, was a four-part book about dealing with depression through the analogy of a flower going through the seasons. Yeah, it's as pretentious as it sounds, but the cover was pretty.

In other news, I’m going to be going from these weird once-a-month postings to once-a-day! Woohoo! Why, you might ask? I’ve decided to sign up for The Thirty Days Project in order to gear from a month’s “vacation” out of the studio into a daily studio practice. Although my official “project” will be to work on small pieces that can eventually contribute to a larger whole (body of work/oil paintings, perhaps?), its unofficial tag-along will be to write about all of its bits and bobs here! I’m excited! (And scared.)

Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows VS raindrops falling on your head.

It’s strange how the very time of day or weather can affect my productivity. I remember last semester; I would barely make deadlines and cling to the hope that I would survive through one week and yet another as I piled on the all-nighters like fried dumplings on my platter at a smorgasbord. I would not call my work in those times “the best”; I remember a studio in particular that demanded of me very precise and graphic work, the likes of which I could hardly even dream of creating in the inky silence of 4am. What I thought I needed then was silence and privacy, and now that I’m slowly crafting my studio into a messy oasis, I think my belief is slightly different.

So far, I’ve made things in beautiful sunshine around the 2pm hour. There’s something about the energy kick you get right after the sluggish digestion lethargy, when thoughts are brewing and you’re able to go with the flow. I usually end up percolating blog ideas at this time (and, perhaps with the break, I can actually devote time to said subjects), processing ideas for book designs, itching to knit, or wanting to write for days and days. Sunny afternoons are kind of akin to those friends you have that manage to infect you with enthusiasm on the worst of days with bright smiles and this crazy laughter that bubbles up like steam geysers or elementary school fountains — for me, at the least.

Indiana: The Other Grey Landscape

Blessed are we children that experience a dreary Indiana winter?

Mind you, I’ve had good times with the inky night like this. Most of my online comrades are either in different time zones, night owls, or ostenibly both; as such, collboration with them is destined for late nights with the Earl Grey and Lady Nutella Toast, typing away madly until my fingers go bloody and numb. (Okay, so I exaggerate — but mind you, typing with anyone on Gtalk does demand a certain amount of flair, ouais?) I’ve seen suns rise and set during particularly enthusiastic plotting sessions. When uninhibited by sleep’s perfect sense, it is amazing what the imagination will produce.

Rain too will give me a certain edge that twinkling sunshine doesn’t — an edge that I hope permeates into the majority of my work on my final project tomorrow, given that my tiny world is supposed to look a little something like the image pictured to the left. The rhythmic pouring of wet from the skies insures that I’m well-rested if nothing else; dear, delicate rainstorms have a tendency to lull me to sleep like sweet lullabies. It also means that the project that lured me from underneath my comforter and quilts is a special one, for everyone knows that special feeling of trapped coziness a body cultivates when you’ve slept soundly and the rest of your room dips into chilliness. I take things more slowly, since that’s what the clouds would want me to do; as such, my shapes are more subtle, nuanced. Sometimes, this also means that I take too long or that I get frustrated and throw my pencils across the room, but that is neither here nor there. Sometimes, rain can give you good things too.

I often wonder if my sensitivity to light/dark in my workspace doesn’t go beyond the usual sensitivity to the studio nonsense and permeate into that subject of seasonal affective disorder that apparently keeps on cropping up for yours truly. Am I really so sensitive to the entire Vitamin D thing that I feel sluggish and more methodical as raindrops and snow drifts pile up at the door? Or is that just something that everybody goes thorugh now and again? I dunno, I think I’d like to hear what others in Bloglandia think: do you slow your proverbial roll when the lights dim or clouds roll around? Or can you push your creativity through wind, rain, snow, and the like? (That is to say: are you the proveribal mail carrier of the art world?)

Community and painting. (OR: God, I just want some bros.)

Today was painting’s final critique, which was one of those bittersweet things as is per the nature of a happy course’s end. At least, it is for me; most of my comrades in this course were art education students, which meant that I severely doubt my chances of encountering them again given the very real possibility that these people are only using this introductory painting course as a studio requirement. It was a bit of a bummer, after all; they all seemed like dudes I’d like to hang out with one day, drink a beer with, or whatever you do after hours at a commuter school. You know, all art commune-y.

Anyway, I didn’t voice this, as it felt superfluous — and besides, you never know what’s around the corner. But still, the melancholy was there, if only for the reminder that I haven’t met many painting majors in my present year. Until today, I was firmly of the belief that this was “any,” but a chance prattling in my professor’s office after evaluations made me discover that there was in fact one other soul in my class that was also going the way of painterly wonder, the likes of which made us gasp and cling like sad, strange orphans in the hallway. As she put it: “There’s hardly any of us!” and to be honest, it’s entirely thanks to Herron’s General Fine Arts program, but that’s another story for another time. Point being: painting majors are few and far between in our fair school, which is particularly sad given the beautiful facilities that our hall has. I certainly shouldn’t be quoted on this, but I think painting is the only major on campus with designated studio space for seniors? Not that you should get into our fancy schmancy place just for Da Goodz, but you’d think that’d seduce you a little bit maybehaps no?

Anyway, after having this moment of divine thank God, there are all of two of us here, we came across the conclusion that painting may or may not need a better community within that of Herron. (Surprise, am I right?!) Most of the art ed kids identify with at least one other department — you know, their “thing” that they specialize in other than teaching the kidlets. A guy I hung out with on the reg during painting was really into sculpture and would go on at length about how tight the community was in the sculpture and ceramics building, which is something that a ceramics senior impressed on us during some foundations course last year. Never mind that you can’t step ten feet without bumping into either a photo or vis comm major, although I am hardly the woman to ask about the how and why of that due to personal bias and legitimate mystification. Courtesy of Bookbinding, I’m more likely to bump into printmakers than I am painters. So what gives, painter friends? Are you into the DL or something? Color me confused.

But the thing that was so singularly heartening about the entire discussion was that Fellow Painting Major was too. The beginning of this semester was a lot of me hemming and hawing about whether I wanted to declare painting or printmaking, but I’m pretty sure that Turpenoid has crack in it or something because it’s not something I can necessarily see me feasibly giving up. I could very well veer into disgustingly poetic waxings on the state of How Much I Love This Medium, though, which is not what this is about — this is more about how, surely, others must feel that way in my school? And that, dear Lord, could we possibly cultivate this? For really, I think there’s something to be said about being with some like-minded people who give great feedback and help you grow. I think that’s something that really killed it for me with my last school, since nobody really did want to give more than a half of a shit about what you were doing and who you were.

Knowing that this lady felt the same thing? Pretty comforting. If anything, knowing that there’s two means we can maybe make this a community somehow once we get past this sophomore review nonsense, block by block. Or something. I’m starting to lose my train of thought.

Drawing Intelligently (OR: The Difference Between Good and Great)

I’ve been thinking lately — admittedly, a dangerous past time, but my desire to live on the edge is a tangential subject to the post at hand. Although it would be quaint to fully claim that all this rumination is purely due to this being the anniversary of my birth, the timing of this particular birthday has its significance. I haven’t reached any technical milestones (save for the 23 on the 23rd part, which I find cute), but this year will serve as the crossroads for my program at university, the likes of which I was reminded but a few days ago when catching up with a professor after class.

As back story: the whole of my Mondays and Wednesdays last week were spent in a rather atrocious bit of transportation limbo, which forced me to end up missing the whole of my sessions for that week. Fortunately, the professor was terribly understanding (and this after I had blown up in a mess of ugly stress somewhere else on the Internet), and so my meeting to catch up with the odds and ends of made-up assignments and the like was a little less apprehensive than it could have been. Still, I was colored by a bit of worry: the grades of my first two assignments, which the professor had returned but moments before. A B+ and a B respectively were certainly not bad, per se, but I’m no settler — and, well, it would be a lie to ignore the very fact that I had never received a B for a drawing project in my life until that point. With these thoughts in mind, I set to conferring and catching up. Continue reading