I guess I’m taking today to have a yearly check-in with myself where I just sort of look over the stuff I did over the last year and reflect on what happened and try to figure out what’s next. I really feel like I didn’t get nearly as much drawing done as I would have liked to over the last year. I wanted to be filling up a sketchbook page every single day. Yeah, didn’t happen. And in some instances I actually went months without drawing. But apparently work, respiratory infections, nervous breakdowns, narcolepting uncontrollably, and massive rearranging/cleanouts of my house were unavoidable. So my actual output was crap little but instead of getting horribly depressed and giving up for another zillion years maybe I should take a second today to recognize things that have gone right for me over the last year with the art thing. Because I love bullet points:
* I managed to acquire A LOT of paper and various supports on which to practice – so now all I need is the energy to do it and that’s all ready to go! I’ve acquired A LOT of supplies and various media over the last year as well. Also outfitted my work room with various shelves to keep everything organized – as of this last week I think I officially have shelved every inch of shelvable space in there. I really consider this accumulation of materials to be sort of a prayer for the coming year that my health and energy will improve enough to be able to actually work and experiment consistently.
* I started walking out the door and leaving my house during the day again. WHOA! THERE’S TONS OF **** TO DRAW OUT THERE!! And maybe sometimes total strangers force you to wear Santa hats despite your total lack of consent but at least there’s fresh air and sunshine sometimes. And life drawing sessions where the other people who go there are really nice and don’t force hats on you. And I do find that when I go out with my sketchbook a lot of times people will pause and check out my stuff (which makes me nervous) but then they’ll say something like ‘that looks nice!’ which, aw, that’s nice! They must not have their contacts in but, still, it’s pleasant to make eye contact and socially interact with other people for a split second. Forgot what that was like.
* I really spent the last year since I started drawing again bouncing all the heck over the place but that’s good. I think needed that. And now, just in the last couple of months I’ve developed a much much clearer vision of what I ultimately want to be doing with my art. Last year I was kinda like ‘I dunno I wanna draw something so I can paint stuff’ ‘maybe do tiny miniature paintings for dollhouses cause that’s my other hobby is doing dollhouse stuff – don’t know what I’d paint” “definitely want to start drawing/painting the crazy crap I dream/hallucinate about’
ok, so that last one is really important to me but it was like but what part of what I dream/hallucinate do I really want to depict? Cause there’s A LOT of it. When I sleep: crazy vivid dreams that are really more like TV series in the sense that they pick up where they left off the last time I dreamed in that specific place with that specific set of characters. Crazy talking animals. Weird mold spores that infect humanity and make them hear demonic voices, but don’t worry you just need to bleach the walls every so often and you’ll be fine. strange houses that look just like our houses but just slightly different. The gutters will be different as though I’m dreaming of a past life on an earthlike planet where rain gutters were of course necessary but the finished solution to that problem came out just slightly different than it did here. Just strangeness but so vivid and memorable and detailed. Strange animals that are basically similar to real life… but different in some way I can’t explain. Deer-dogs, strange geese with hair like structures instead of feathers. Last night there were tiny itty bitty spider sized mice like things (so cute!!) that could run up the walls so they must’ve had grippy insect like feet. You’re supposed to smash them and flush them cause if they get in the walls they’ll wreak havoc on the electrical but don’t tell mom and dad I totally didn’t do it… Also, they will get in the cupboards and ruin the rice.
When I’m awake: strong scents like becoming so overwhelmed by the smell of toxic pink artificially flavored strawberry cake that it actually knocked me on my butt one time and just because it was somehow triggered by viewing the color pink unexpectedly. (and that’s why I don’t leave the house if I don’t have to). Crazy vivid colorful patterns that are hard to describe. Sometimes I blink and see in a split second flash that seems at the time to last hours crazy stuff like products that never existed. Last night I was overwhelmed with the sight of these crazy faux fur stuffed animal things. They almost looked like chubby worm/viruses or something but kid friendly colorful and so happy and goofy. Some with long pile striped hair, some with short pile solid hair. I could almost touch them. I see strange looking pots and pans. Lots of flashing lights in my peripheral vision. Lots of strange tastes – or very familiar tastes at strange times. Spiders where there’s probably not any. hallucinations of sensation: laying in bed but I feel like I’m rocking in a boat. when I touch random objects, sometimes I get ‘burnt’ or ‘electrocuted’ and it HURTS. Sometimes it feels like my head is a balloon and it’s floating over the room. Lots of dizziness. sensation of falling over while I’m still standing up. God I wish I did drugs – I would just stop. I have no idea why this is happening to my body.
It’s a strange life. It’s overwhelming. All of these random seemingly non sensical probably non existent stimuli that my body seems intent on perceiving (imaginging?) on top of all the crazy stimuli that exists for all to see/hear/feel/smell. It’s hard enough as an artist trying to sort out what is important info when doing a drawing from real life. It’s been SUPER even a lot harder trying to sort out what is important hallucination/dream info that is worth depicting and what to just leave in the unexplained ether. But I do think that has gradually over the last year sorted itself. Would I want to artistically depict the overwhelming scent/taste of artificially flavored strawberries? Even if I could? No. It doesn’t actually seem very important. Just tangy. Are the random alternate reality products or crazy colorful animated patterns important to me? Probably not. I don’t know that I could paint the sensation of electric shock to my hands – or that I would want to even if I could. But I do think maybe – just maybe somewhere in this confused ether I may be connecting to something real sometimes when I dream of these various characters. I know many of them by name, I’m familiar with their facial expressions, voices, cadence. I’ve whittled away many hours of forced sleep and many lonely hours of wakefulness speaking with them. And as much as I’d like to pretend like they’re not – they’re important to me. So this is what I will ultimately be doing with my art. I’m having really clear visions of large portraits done on unframed, stretched canvas hanging in my home. When the visions come, I can see them so clearly. As they go, they fade considerably. I feel doubtful I can ever use paint to make a doorway for these strange mysterious loved ones of mine to walk through and be viewed by people living in this world. But everything I do with art from now on will be focused on working towards that end.
I’m thinking over the next several years I will need
*more life drawing
*more figure drawing
*waaay more anatomy studies since one of these guys is so skinny skinny and you can’t do skinny people without understanding what all those knobs and bumps you’re looking at are. Plus, I imagine it’s going to make the process of drawing people I can’t see while I’m awake go a lot more smoothly if I understand anatomy better. Will help me see form.
*character development studies – some of my people I’ll be wanting to depict in many different portraits from different angles or doing different things and they’ll need to look consistent.
*collection of reference photos. I will be hiring models at some point who resemble in either face or body people that I want to depict.
*landscape studies – I will be doing a lot of plein air paintings over the next couple of years in order to build a mental library of organic shapes/arrangements to later be translated into subtle but abstracted backgrounds for my portraits. Plus, it’s a great excuse to take some road trips with the cat.
*lots of animal studies – I’ve accumulated many blank sketchbooks for this purpose and will divide them into basic broad categories like ‘rodents’ ‘birds’ ‘hoofed things like horses’ ect. Because animals will appear in these portraits too.
*I’ll need to develop better understanding of various mediums and how they work/look/feel so I can decide what my final portraits will be done in.
*I’ll need to develop a much better understanding of how light interacts with form so that I can really depict what I’m seeing in my head without needing a model to match it exactly, because that’s gonna be impossible.
ugh. That’s kind of a list and I don’t really know how to start on it without my thoughts bottle necking rendering me completely useless. Last year was supposed to be my loosening up year, which I suppose I did for about half a second. Over the next year I’m going to really just let myself be stiff and ignore it while I work on the more academic aspects of the craft listed above and once I get a better handle on those I’ll go back to trying to loosen up again. Hard to be loose and free when you’re basically fumbling around in the dark. Well.. at least I’ve got a better sense of what direction to head. Now all I have to do is stay awake long enough to draw.