Thursday, May 18, 2017

:art life:

Yes, I am supposed to be on "hiatus" from writing on here like I said last week, but several paths of thought prompted me to return this week. And while the website is still a new priority, truthfully much of last week has been spent doing some overdue Spring cleaning. Much of my life remains in the boxes that I brought them in when I first moved into this current apartment. Part of it truly is for storage reasons, but part of it has been the dreaded "I'll do this some day" curse that applies to too many things in my life. Which is why my to-do list grows and many things get only partially done. So I try to adopt a philosophy of "Some Day is Today." Sometimes it works. But the large list often leads to paralysis too.

Two documentaries that I viewed in the past week inspired me to write. One was "David Lynch: The Art Life." No doubt it was released to coincide with the premiere of the new Twin Peaks series this upcoming weekend, of which I'll probably see the opening episode, but my lack of a TV or cable subscription means that I won't keep up with it until a DVD collection comes out or when it shows up on Netflix, and most likely will be spoiled for me before then by peoples' need to post it all online nearly immediately afterwards. I saw the first series when it was on TV the first time, and revisiting it recently, I realized that that was the only time I had truly seen it, other than a few episodes that I had taped. The story and images had stuck with me that deeply.


The documentary covers Lynch's early life up until his first movie, with him narrating it in his own inimitable way. Mostly it's about his "art life," as he started out as a painter and we get to see him create several new works throughout the film. He seemed to get into film only because he had the idea of paintings with sound, which led to filming them as well. The film concludes with his recollection of the filming of "Eraserhead," and the good fortune of receiving a grant from the American Film Institute, much to his genuine surprise. He muses about what sort of life he would have led if hadn't had this stroke of luck.


This resonated with me because it's clearly that most of what he wanted to was create art. But modern society makes it difficult for those who want just that. The world runs on money, and you need jobs for that money, for who is going to pay you to "just" make art? A frustration I've known all my life.

The other documentary was "Dear Mr. Watterson," about the comic strip "Calvin & Hobbes" and the artist and creator, Bill Watterson. Through interviews of other comic artists and "regular" people we see what it came to mean to them, both at the time it was running and of newer audiences discovering it.


Much is made of his resistance to any kind of merchandising, and of ending the strip well before than he had to, and fighting any of the traps of fame. He wanted the strip to stand on its own, nothing more. One of the interviewees noted that a stuffed Hobbes doll would probably still be making millions today, but part of the point of the strip was that to Calvin, Hobbes was a real tiger. Creating him as an actual toy would take away that magic.

At the end of the documentary it's said that the strip came out at just the right time in history. In today's times of dying print and shrinking comic pages, plus the sheer volume of competition added by various media online as well, it's more and more difficult to stand out among the rest. Something else that I am all too aware of, and probably adds to my recent crisis of thinking "why bother." That's if you're creating with an audience in mind, of course.

But I don't turn off the creative mind if I can help it. Always have some sort of camera with me, of course. This past weekend was the annual Steampunk festival, held in the city where I currently live. However you feel about the genre or of cosplay in general, some people's work in that area can be quite impressive. Some photos from that were added to this group on my flickr page.

Watch City Steampunk Fest

Thursday, May 11, 2017

:priorities:

I'm proud of the fact that I've been able to write regularly in this blog (once per week for those who don't look at the dates). In truth that discipline has kept me creative so that I actually have something to write about from week to week.

I took a break from writing here last year, partially because I had the regular notion that I'm the sole reader anyway, but also with the intention of completing certain projects, namely the redesign of my website, which is pretty much essential to have as an artist these days. I didn't complete that plan. When I hand out my business card it's with some embarrassment that I have to explain that my site is not quite what it should be.

I took part in an online seminar this past Monday (during work hours so I was multi-tasking as usual) that was mainly about staying focused and getting past such obstacles and just Getting Things Done. One thing that stood out was the need to do one thing at a time. This year I have been doing many projects at once, alternating doing small parts of each one. I think it went well for some time, but to go from photowork to pencils to working on a doll, I think abruptly altered some of the focus for each project. So far the doll is still uncompleted. I guess I'm "lucky" that the gallery that showed some interest in them last JUNE still hasn't gotten back to me about them.

So there was that lesson and the fact I already know, that the website needs to take priority. Which is what I intend to do going forward. That process doesn't make for interesting reading, I don't think, plus this is partially a visual blog, so there's that too. Thus it appears that I'll be on "hiatus" again, unless something catches my (camera) eye that I must share.

Like last Friday, which was my birthday, when I spent a good part of it at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (free admission on one's birthday, FYI). It was a cold and rainy day, but the central courtyard let in enough light to still make it a wonder to behold.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

:inbetween:

On Tuesday of this past week I once again participated in a workplace crafts bazaar. It was less attended than the winter one, possibly because people would "shop" more due to Xmas, but also because the company is really encouraging people to work remotely more. Which is something I actually want no part of, but I'm not going to get into that.


I correctly deduced from the last time that people prefer the smaller framed photos, and also because several had mistakenly thought that they were drink coasters, found that selling actual coasters worked. Not a crowd to buy larger works, alas. But once again I kept the weirder (for them) works at home.


I finally got through all of the shots from the Asha & Hex photoshoot that was in March and sent off copies to them. Hopefully something of their liking amongst them, and maybe they will say so publicly.

Out of 185 shots I narrowed it down to 96 for them. There are some less than-perfect shots in there, but I think they may work as part of some editing with them in the future, but for now I'm putting them aside.





I tried to narrow down to my 10 favorites but settled on 12. A good balance I think. Sometimes you're only seeking for that one good shot, so I'm glad that I had a difficult time choosing.

 



Thursday, April 27, 2017

:holding pattern:

I continue to try and figure out my creative path from here on in, after weeks of often thinking "why bother," which I'm sure makes for riveting reading on this blog. While I don't think a complete hiatus would help me, I think I may have to work on some "behind the scenes" projects for awhile, after I finish up the first edits from the Asha & Hex photoshoot and send them off to them. Any further work on those will be...further on.


The projects I'm thinking of are the long-overdue redesign of my website, putting more work up on Etsy, and trying for more gallery shows, using artwork that I've already made. I'm also going to be selling artwork at my workplace again this upcoming Tuesday, and so will pay attention to what sells. Again I'll be leaving the "freakier" pieces at home.

I'll still have some sort of camera on me at all times, to catch what moments that I can while out and about. The springtime green is slowly creeping back into our world, which sucks for allergies but good riddance to the grey, miserable winter. Looking forward to finding new places in nature within the coming months.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

:dead calm:

Perhaps it's part of the weird mood that I've found myself in the past few weeks, but lately I'm finding that the longer I work on artwork, the less enthused I am with it, and just want to move on to something new. More incentive to learn to work faster. The photoshoot that I did with Asha & Hex is now a month past, and I've finally gone through all the shots and narrowed them down, with well over 175 decent ones. At this point I just want to clean them up a bit and send them off to the models, and hope that they like them. As for any weird Photoshoppery, I'll look at them a bit later on from now and see if I want to do any. No ideas are currently leaping out at me.




A change of media often helps, so I'll return to the new Homunculus doll and see if I can't finish it within the month.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

:stranger days:

I didn't write on Wednesday as I normally do, as I didn't feel in the right state of mind and it would've devolved into self-pity. I'm not at 100% tonight, but have a better perspective than yesterday. And honestly? The advent of Spring sticking around might help, because even for a self-described night person like myself, I probably do need the daylight. I was taking vitamin D supplements during the doldrums of Winter, but stopped because I felt I wouldn't need to anymore, but some of the funk I've felt in the past few weeks could possibly be attributed to that, so I may as well go back on it for a bit more.


I finished this drawing the past weekend, and to be frank, I certainly could've done it all in one day, if I were in control of all the hours of my days. It seems to be the case that when I work on a piece for a long time, and am really happy with the end result, the lack of much response to it brings me a bit down. So do I need to work more quickly? Or place less importance on the need for outside acceptance? But I think parts of our current society place a lot more emphasis on this, and on near-instant reactions at that. Click those hearts and thumbs up icons and we're as happy as lab rats pushing the buttons for more food.

Been working continuously on the shots from the Asha & Hex photoshoot, and at least they seem appreciative of what I've shown them so far, more than I can say for a few of my past models. Here's a few more glances. Again at this point I may just leave them as they are, no weird Photoshoppery. Yet.





I'm also glad that I always have some sort of camera on me, to capture moments like these.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

:crisis of faith:

Little steps this past week; started really looking at the shots from the photoshoot with Asha & Hex. I'm still pleased that there's very few corrections needed. I'm not sure if I'll be altering them much further, to be honest. I seem to do that more with outdoor shots than studio ones with a plain backdrop. Again, the need to think about actual concepts for shoots. Some came to mind recently. I also noticed that the new lens I used captures a lot of detail, maybe a bit too much if it's a super close shot. No need to see every pore! But again, I'm not a fan of the android-smooth skin that all these retouchers that keep contacting me looking for work seem to be into.



In the home stretch on this drawing, too. I probably could've finished it last night but I really wanted to get some headway on the photos.


I've gone deep into my head lately about the whole art thing and the possible futility of it, as least as a means to an end. It's something I've done for as long as I can remember and I believe that I want to keep on doing it, but sometimes I wonder at the real purpose, beyond some hard to define drive. Which is also a problem for me in writing out artist statements, a requirement for galleries and such, when often all I want to say is I make these, use your eyes and figure out what it means to you.

But beyond pleasing myself, I'm not seeing much return investment from the outside world. Our wired world has increased the amount of visual imagery available many times over, and it's more difficult than ever to catch someone's attention, and even then, getting some sort of acknowledgement beyond a thumbs up or a heart icon. This blog has been set up for comments from the very beginning, by the way.

I think of this as more than a hobby, that was proven to me when my last living situation was so awful that I hardly created anything and that made it feel even worse. But I don't treat it as a business either, and have actually been "warned" about that from some other writers and artists. There has to be some way to be appreciated, even "compensated" for one's actual talents. But I've not been one to follow trends just to make a buck. One hopes to be recognized and maybe rewarded for having their own style.

That was a whole lot of rambling that I'm not sure made my point any clearer, for you or me. All I can say for now is that there was a lot of "why bother?" in my thoughts this past week, but I'm still not ready to quit.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

:striving:

Sadly I did not get to work on any photos of Asha & Hex last week. Other things came up, as they do. Thankfully I've been told there's no hurry. From what I've seen they have no shortage of photoshoots. Here at least is one new shot, having fun with skulls. I've forgotten the names that they gave them.


I took a few shots with a Polaroid camera during the shoot, too. Still trying to make that work. It seems you have to be at this perfect distance to make it look decent. No close-ups possible. I think Asha's came out okay.


Otherwise I was working further on my drawing. I'd say it'll be done by next week, but I have two DJing gigs coming up as well, and that's two evenings that won't be used for drawing. This photo doesn't do it justice, the lightbulb on the drawing table lamp is great lighting for making the actual artwork, but lousy for photography. I've been having issues with my scanner as well, so I'll have to take it into another room for a better shot.


Still messing around with "products" to be sold. Some coasters and a print on slate. I figured that the already damaged effects on the photo would look good on the rock surface. Still need to get Etsy up and running and maybe into some festivals, but so far I've signed up for a bazaar at my workplace again, in May. Although to be honest I was hoping to not still be working there by then. Need to up that search, but it's so dull if you have no idea what you really want to do for a job. Or if you don't want a job, period.


I ventured out to another one of the regular open artist studio days, held in various locations throughout the year, this one in the South End of Boston, and I left feeling underwhelmed. Nothing that really inspired me and the usual envy of someone else having an actual studio to work in.

I am feeling a bit disillusioned by the whole art thing in general lately, to be honest. Sure, ultimately I create to satisfy an inner urge that I've had my whole life, and it doesn't have to translate into fame and fortune, but those are nice side benefits. But unless I can really figure it soon, I don't know if it's happening within my own lifetime. Perhaps I should just work on in isolation, and someone can discover my hidden cache of artwork after I'm gone, and they'll profit from it. As the story seems to go most of the time in art history. Yet still I strive on.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

:duality:

Last Thursday I did get to do my first photoshoot since last spring, and I'm mostly pleased with the experience and the results. I worked with two models (Asha and Hex), a first for me, so that was one deciding factor towards doing this, even if I didn't feel completely confident leading up to it.



I had a lot of ideas and props in mind, but didn't get to all of them, even after two hours. Better to run out of time than ideas, I'd say. One idea was to change from a white backdrop to a black one and use limited lighting. Next time, then.

These two have been traveling models for quite some time, and so quite experienced and requiring very little direction, although that was welcome as well. It was a fun, laid back and quickly-moving shoot, and I'd love to work with them again, separate or apart.


I shot them that way as well, allowing for a few outfit changes along the way, of which they had plenty. They weren't short on ideas either. Any prop I handed to them led to interesting poses. The skulls and top hat showed up again, along with some new things I've picked up in the past year.




The cat masks were a big hit, so much so that they asked if they could keep them. They weren't vintage or expensive, so why not. I've since then replaced them. But for the latter part of the shoot they pretty much remained in cat mode.


This was also the first shoot done with my new 50mm lens, and I'm astounded by the results. Both in the details and the depth of field. There was no telephoto ring so I would have to move around to compose in the frame. At times I would have to move all the way to the wall of the room.



So, for the negative parts, and of course me being me I have them...I still need to find a way to master exposure settings. Through trial and error I eventually find one that worked but I'd like to be skilled enough to hit the ground running and not waste time and shots just trying to get the lighting right.



I also really should have more conceptual ideas for shoots. This was pretty much my usual improvisational method again, and the models made it easier, but I'd like to have a "story" in mind going forward, as opposed to always creating one from the images later. I think a lot of these stand fine on their own but I'm sure I'll be doing some Photoshoppery again.


Around doing this I've also been working on a new drawing, in color pencils this time. I'm not always one for caricature, so I'm remaining faithful to the original photo. But I'm using a limited palette, just blues and some red, resisting the urge to use black for the darkest parts. Drawing hair really gets me into another zone, I could do it for hours.