Days of Our Lives

So, still not perfect, but oh my gosh.  Following the tips from this tutorial, as I said I would, yielded much more positive results.  I will be focusing on eyes this week, using the tutorial as a guide, and try eyes in different expressions and from different angles.  Hopefully by deconstructing the face (to start) I can become a little more fluent at drawing human faces.

Today was one of those days at work that lasted seemingly forever.  It was the last day of finals, one official exam and one session of make-up, so I had no students.  Luckily, I’ve gotten slightly better about using my time wisely, so I read about 125 pages of one of my books, did a review of Lesson 12 and started in on Lesson 13 on my ASL, and did some substantial work on my next micron drawing.  So despite being a “do nothing” day, I feel like I did a fairly decent amount.

While I was at work, my sister sent me an event link for a Onesie Bar Crawl in Manchester (which is the city adjacent to where she lives), with the tag, “lots of fun stuff coming up,” which made me more than a little wistful.  I like where I am in my life; I spent so many years being told that so much of what I have — a house, a full-time job, a spouse, a kid — was going to be beyond my reach because of The Way I Am, that having all these things, wonderful on their own, is especially satisfying.

But I sometimes miss The Before Times, when I had the freedom to basically just pick and choose what frivolous thing I wanted to do.  In so many ways, on paper, my 20s looked miserable; I was living with an over-bearing parent and had virtually no privacy, I had neither a license nor a car; you’d think it would have been unbearable.  But I lived near a train leading into a big city, I had friends with cars, I was within walking distance of cafes and movie theatres, and — in some ways, most importantly — I had a job and very few financial responsibilities.  I was living in a rent-controlled apartment (paying about $500/month, utilities included), I was single, and my student loans were still in their grace period.  In so many ways, I had more freedom than I’d ever had at any other time of my life.

And everything was possible!!  I was still looking at graduate schools and figuring out what I wanted to do, and I actually had money to seriously consider going back to school to pursue it.  I was single and had dozens of dating sites to peruse at my leisure.  I had disposable income and infinite energy, and late nights in Boston getting bleary-eyed drunk and stumbling through the streets with my closest girlfriends talking about career woes and blowjobs and travel plans and birth control, and just, everything felt like it was just on the precipice of Happening.  There were so many beautiful nights with friends that were full of vodka and pillow talk, and laughingly pouring over salacious OKCupid messages from interested strangers.  I am happy with my husband, and how comfortable I am with him (more so than I’ve ever been with anyone in my life), but I also miss those first few tentative Instant Messages, signing on to a message with his name on it, the aimless fantasies about who he was behind the screen, that first stumbling face-to-face meeting at Borders Cafe.

I had some beautiful nights, full of beautiful moments, that I know I’ll never recapture.  And none of those moments, none of those nights were ever anything earth-shattering; I mean, we did enjoyable things — went drinking, or caught a movie or a show, went into Boston, hung out at a comedy club — but nothing to write home about.  But I still remember walking out through December twilight with the man who would be my husband and my two best friends, two miles through the snow to the cafe where we met up; I remember every word Andy said making the three of us burst into giggles, and I remember knowing even then, with fair certainty, that this was the man I was going to marry.  We trudged through still-falling snow and met up with two friends at a bookstore cafe where we spent ages browsing books and looking at maps (again — So Many Possibilities) before catching a train to see a stand-up show and grab some Chinese food at the Hong Kong.

Dinner and some comedy.  Nothing Special.  But I can still feel the sting of the cold on my cheeks.  I can still smell the books in that shop.  I can’t explain it, but there was something about that time in my life that made the most mundane moments palpable with What Could Be.  Every night was the night my life could change.  Every night was the night I could find my true calling through a drunken revelation;  I could hop on a train and not come back; I could hook up with the girl I had a crush on since college; I could fall in love.

I know there are still possibilities laid in front of me.  They just don’t feel as tangible, as vibrant.  I miss that.  I love what I have, but sometimes I still want More.

I wish I’d savored it while I was still in the thick of it.

It’s Wednesday.  Happy halfway.

 

The Uplift

My mood post-convention is often pendulous; the surges of motivation and excitement give way to sadness, give way to eagerness to embark on new projects, give way to lamenting that things are over for another year, give way to grandiose plans for the future.

This is the first year I attended panels about the meta-aspects of How to Do or How to Make; I’ve done a few makerspace panels in the past that were single-project “make ‘n takes” that have been wonderful, but not much of anything I would pursue beyond the confines of the convention.¹  This year, I opted to focus on trying to get Some Ideas About Art — what to pursue, how to pursue it, how to feel like a “real” artist.

Well, I succeeded on the first two counts.  Most of the “maker” panels I went to were really more about “making;” people who dabble in cosplay, prop making, electronic bits ‘n bobs — which are all amazingly cool, just not what I personally pursue.  Luckily there was a local artist on both panels whose primary focus really is more on art — pottery, watercolor, acrylic, inks, and a new-to-me medium/process called encaustics, which is painting with hot wax and sounds incredibly interesting.  All the panelists had some great things to say about creating makerspace in the confines of your own home (even if it’s small, or rented, or shared), and I got to get a few questions answered at a panel (yes I asked questions, which I never do!) about the logistics of baking Sculpey-altered boxes with mixed-media findings (such as wooden and glass beads, scrapbooking paper, metal findings, etc.) and was actually told that they hadn’t really heard of mixed-media altered boxes, and they sounded like they’d be really beautiful!!

I think I was so ridiculously happy to hear this because as a 101-level art novice and as a person with anxiety, I spend so much of my time fighting off Imposter Syndrome and generally feeling like everything I do is derivative and uninspired (even if I feel an initial surge of excitement or enthusiasm for a project, I wind up looking at it hyper-critically and feeling like an amateurish fraud calling myself any sort of “artist.”)  That gave me a surge of hope that maybe some of my ideas are worthy of pursuit, and while I had sworn off clay work for a while, I might make it a point to devote a weekend here or there to a particular project.

Today was surprisingly easy to get back into the swing of things; I took care of a few final things for the class I’m being pulled from, and wound up going out to coach, which, can I say, I nearly had a heart attack over because I completely and utterly forgot I was supposed to go out today (I always go out on vocational coaching on Tuesdays, but with the extra-long weekend and the chaos of Arisia, I completely forgot it was Tuesday.  Luckily I had to drop some paperwork off in the vocational office anyway and happened to glance at the schedule).  Bear was a little slow going in the morning, but was excited to report to his friends at school about the weekend.

Today is already Tuesday!  Smile, you’re nearly halfway there.

I will be starting my previously proposed deep-study of the human face, feature by feature, tomorrow.


¹With the exception of mini-hats, which is an Arisia-specific craft that I have utterly fallen in love with, and I think I might want to start making some in my free time.

Tonight

Tonight, I opt to do nothing.  No, not even a daily sketch.

Tomorrow is going to be a whirlwind.  Up at 6 am, I’ve got to cut my hair (it’s so convenient when you’re hairstyle is buzzed, super-short undercut), clean the house, drop Bear off at school, hit the gym, shop for food for the hotel stay (hotel food is ridiculously priced), finish packing, pick Bear up, and head to my mom’s — all before 11:45.

I’m thrilled for this weekend.  Conventions always serve to rekindle my desire to be creative, but it’s only recently that I’ve begun to cultivate creativity as a part of my everyday life, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the added boost of inspiration does for what is already semi-regular output.

And can I talk about how glad I am that I’ve moved past that seemingly endless stretch of procrastination and stagnation?  I still have a long way to go towards being a prolific creator, but at least I’ve gotten to the point that I’m doing something creative, or something to further a creative endeavor, just about every day.  I’m sketching, I’m starting drawings, I’m planning paintings.  For the longest time, the furthest I got along in a creative project was to lament that I had no ideas or motivation.  That I couldn’t find the time to sit and work.

The latter is still sometimes a struggle, but it’s gotten so, so much better.

I’m so excited for the Art Show; I love seeing what other people are doing, and getting ideas for other themes or subjects to explore in my own stuff.  It gives me something to aspire to.

Work today lasted forever, and it wasn’t even a bad day — it was actually a pretty good day, all told — it was just one of those days when you know you have something desirable coming up and you just want to get things over with.  I did some review on my ASL lessons between sitting exams with kids (I’m up to Lesson 12, after a long period of stagnation at Lesson 10), and popped into the party the vocational program head hosted for our main internship site.  It was a good turn out, and so nice to see the kids and catch up with some of the staff in the Excel program, which I was a part of last year.  All in all, it felt like a well-spent day, but in the back of my mind, there was that constant, niggling reminder that I had a four-day weekend and a con waiting for me at the end of the day.

Depending on the wi-fi situation, and my daily con schedule, I may pop in to say hi, or it might be radio silence until Tuesday.  Either way, I hope you all have fantastic weekends.

Cultivating Creativity

Daily sketch:

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A sketch that took about 25 minutes, that could have been vastly improved by a good set of pencils, a durable eraser, and a straight-edge.  Again, the values are off, and the finger on the shutter button is seven different kinds of messed up, but that was the fourth or fifth redraw, and I had to remind myself — it doesn’t have to be perfect.  The daily sketch is not supposed to be about showcasing perfection, it’s about cultivating a habit, learning as I go, beginning to understand my relative strengths and weaknesses, and taking ownership of the things I create, however good or bad I perceive them to be.

I eeked out some free time today and read the first 108 pages of The Great Spring.  I had read a summary prior to starting the book, so I knew it wasn’t about writing, per se, but there is a fair amount in the book about mindfulness and mental presence that I feel can apply to developing a writer’s sensibility.  Also, these passages, which are about Zen meditation, but can so easily be applied to absolutely any creative endeavor:

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My husband is heading out to his weekly Game Night (different then our monthly Game Nights!), so I am putting Bear to bed, having dinner, and then I’m eager to continue working on some art with my microns and digging into Fansplaining, which I stumbled across looking for a good fandom podcast.  I recently listened to their episode The Shipping Answers (analyzing the results of a survey I participated in; it was how I first heard of them), and I really enjoy their overall vibe, and the episode descriptions sound intriguing; they seem to talk about a lot of fannish topics that are of interest to me.

I hope you all have a relaxing Friday night to look forward to, and a wonderful weekend.