Part 1 of this series is here.
So, last time I started talking about my current slump, and my decision to look backwards to the time when I was at my most productive,and I gave a bit of the important history lesson about my girlfriend at that time, Whitney.
This time, we’ll move on more to the creative process and how I settled on the Monocle Series as the thing to move me past my troubles.
Once I knew I wanted to revisit my past, I did what any artist would probably do– I pulled out a giant stack of sketchbooks and started leafing through them. Throughout college, I always had at least one sketchbook on me at all times. I don’t actually recall ever using a lined notebook my entire collegiate run. Some people have notes with doodles in the margins, I have doodles with notes in the white space (which is hell on composition, FYI).
So, I went through several sketchbooks, and I started tearing out any ideas I’d had but not done, so I could tape them up on my wall. And, I started coming across the doodles Whit had left me in a few of them. And of course, it was an instant nostalgia trip that took me straight back to everything things were at the time (or, at least the closest my memory can reconstruct. I’m well aware memories are notorious liars and that that which we don’t skew out of nostalgia our brains probably do just because they’re too lazy to remember the actual details when generic memory constructs will do just fine. But I digress).
Sorry everybody, had some issues where the photos uploaded via Lightroom had some reason decided they weren’t publicly viewable despite being marked as public. Very, very weird. Here are some shots from last night, just made myself get out and shoot a whopping 512mb card (about 29 shots), and decided to constrain myself to black-and-white. It was like the old days, it was. Except with chimping.
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OK, so, I’ve been promising a return to the insightful, autobiographical work-in-progress feel I set out to accomplish with this blog, and I think we need to start with a little trip down memory lane.
In my college days, when I was a younger Zed, I dated a lovely gal by the name of ‘Whitney,’ who was insane. I mean, like really insane, but the fun kind, not the stabbity kind.
My Thesis Exhibition, "Sometimes They Opened Galleries"
Among the many things I remember about Whitney is that she was just absolutely unaffected by the usual self-consciousness handicaps that so many people get tripped up on. Her imagination was unhindered by any concerns as to how things would be received, and it was a brilliant sort of rebellion that I easily became wrapped up in myself.
It’s unsurprising that it was during this time in my life I came up with all the cast and designs for my ChickenBones comics. It was a good relationship for encouraging a sense of playful exploration and madcap absurdities. Without Whit’s influence, I have to genuinely doubt I would have been in a state of mind to create a comic about an anthropomorphic chicken skeleton in a nehru coat and cargo shorts, whose supporting cast included a broom, a vampire, a store mannequin, a wax statue of Abraham Lincoln, a 6 foot tall playing card, and a floating burlap sack.
So, as you’ve likely all noticed, I have not been on here much. There are a few good excuses for this, such as the week I was without my trusty laptop and couldn’t process any photos with my familiar and well-oiled workflow. But, that’s only part of the problem. A larger part of the problem is I just haven’t been able to pull all my mental resources together for a while into a coherent series of thoughts.
It doesn’t help that I’m also in the middle of an artistic slump, to an extent. I have the drive and desire to create more art than I probably have time to, but I’m just having a hard time coming up with ideas for content that I’m happy with. As such, I’ve been choosing to spend a lot more of my time and mental focus that I do have in working myself through this slow spot. And, I think it’s starting to pay off.
At any rate, there are currently two paintings sitting off in the “I’m living with these and deciding if they need more work” zone, and three canvases on the easel right now, so….
Here in a bit I’ll start putting together a nice and lengthy blog post about the Monocles series I’ve been working on (and which I just hastily dumped a bunch of in-progress shots for last week). After that, I’ll take the goal of this blog to heart, and I’ll start showing you the full creative process when I’m stuck like this, from bad sketch to bad sketch, and how I decide what to finally paint and why.
But for now… lunch.
Working on a new series inspired by the doodles one of my exes used to draw in my sketchbooks. Working on reconnecting with the younger, more freewheeling me that created ChickenBones. Find my roots. Also, still exploring so painting styles I developed during We Search For Another, you know?
It’s been a while since I added some new portraits, so, I asked my good pal and photog Nick Henry to shoot me some this weekend. I’m still waiting on the full files with a little less artifacting (odd Lightroom glitchgasm, it seems), but for now, here’re the web-size previews.
Police forces have been taking an extremely tough stance against any members of the public wishing to take photographs of public buildings and public places, leaving many would-be terrorists unhappy at the implication they are also photographers.
As one member of a Coventry-based Al Qaeda cell explained to us, “I resent being treated like I’m some sort of photographer. The officer who stopped me had absolutely no evidence that mere photography was my intention, so what right did he have to detain me and delete my photographs.”
-Jeff Nichols, NEWSARSE
"Sonnet," by Jonathan Foerster
OK, once again, in the name of full disclosure, I work for/with MEA, so, if you choose to view me discussing their closing artist of the month as a shill, well, it partially is, but keep in mind also that I’m contentious enough to only associate with and plug things that I’m willing to stand behind, yeah?
And, let’s get this out of the way first thing: Jonathan Foerster has fucking chops. Seriously. See that up there? Pure digital art. I’ve seen the print. It’s gorgeous. You can get lost in his detail work. I have. His work is fascinating to observe, especially in the large prints he makes. There’s so much to take in, so many little curves, so much detail. And, he makes it all look easy. Organic elements frequently weave into more traditional ‘digital’ geometries. Ambiguous, amorphous flare shapes such as were making headway a decade ago when MDFMK was together are tinged with branches and roots, should you inspect closely enough. It’s a painful pun, because his work is made of many, many layers in Photoshop, to insist that his work is, in fact, layered.
But it is.
"Carcer," by Jonathan Foerster
Jonathan’s a bit of a quiet guy. I met him when we hung his show for MEA, and he really is very under-spoken. Which is almost a pity, because it’s hard not to stand in front of a couple walls of his work and not be overwhelmed by a desire to ask him more about it. It’s awe-inspiring work. What it disobeys in all conventional formal art principles like subject or compostion it more than makes up for it use of contrast, color, texture, movement, and detail. The detail. It seems like there’s an endless amount of new details to notice in his work.
And, he offers very little about his work on his site, At Least We Dream. All he really offers is that after working eight years on a different site, he now does this.
Well, I for one am glad he does. To say this is among the most impressive work I’ve seen from the Indianapolis art scene is a mild understatement. This work is fantastic, in imagery, scope, and execution. And, I hear we’ll be seeing more of it at a much bigger event than MEA’s humble showing soon. But, that’s all I can say about that.
If you want to see many of these wonderful pieces in person, you’ve still got time. The closing reception is this Friday (August 6th, 2010) at Urban Element, and they’ll be up over the weekend before September’s artist goes up next week. Please, find time to come meet Jonathan at the closing. Or, at least, come see his work before it comes down early next week. It’s well and truly worth it.
If you need details, check out MEA’s Facebook event listing here.
Masculism is the male counter-part to Feminism, and many of you who know me know I’m as much an advocate for it as I am for Feminism (I know, despite all my visual imagery that superficially indicates a complete disregard for Feminism). I think hardline Feminism focuses so much on how women have been unfairly treated, that one it starts to purposefully victimize men as an act of retribution (ie, the matriarchy, the idea that it’s OK to call men dogs, but heaven help a man if he calls a woman a bitch), and, to another extent, two, they gloss over how there are definitely societal aspects that impact men just as negatively as things can impact women.
So, I was really, really pleased to discover Greta Christina’s blog via a guest article on Alternet where she discusses five obnoxious, contradictory, and unfair things society expects from men. I’d gotten so used to the casual double-standard around here that it was OK to hate on men, because obviously we all owe a collective debt for our predecessors, that seeing such a strongly Feminist author bring up such valid points so sympathetically warmed my heart quite a lot.
I’ve been looking at how rigid and narrow many of these expectations are, creating a razor-thin window of acceptable manly behavior that you’d have to be a professional tightrope walker to navigate. (Which would be a problem, since “professional tightrope walker” is definitely outside the parameters of acceptable manliness.) I’ve been looking at how so many of these expectations are not only rigid, but totally contradictory, creating a vision of idealized manhood that’s not just ridiculous but literally unattainable.
It’s a good read, and I encourage you all to hop over and check it out. Greta’s blog is good overall, too, lots of articles about social equality, sexuality, and atheism. Very well-put and non-incendiary positions. I’m glad someone like her is writing about topics like these.
Brave volunteers #12 and #13.