A One-Day Weirdness Oasis (plus some art)

Since dropping my two challenges, I’ve gotten my house mostly clean, started up a new project at a fandom wiki, and done two pieces of art, so overall, I do feel like I made the right call.

In the past I’ve used monthly challenges to force myself to do creative work, and while he challenge would push me to create stuff for a month, I would then go into creative hibernation for basically the rest of the year.  The last several months, I have been actively creative.  The challenges were great fun in getting me to conceptualize ideas and open up my mind to what could be art fodder (song lyrics!  What a fucking treasure trove of inspiration!  But also, simple things!  Women lounging in bed!  People gathered at a funeral!  It doesn’t have to be a sweeping and grandiose landscape, there is beauty in the mundane!)

While visual art has been sort of booming (or at least, not stagnating), I do have a lot of work to do to kickstart my writing habit outside the confines of poetry challenges.  I’m going to have to set aside some time everyday to just, I don’t know, free write?  Try to construct/compose a poem?  Put pen to paper, at the very least.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

But none of that is happening today, because today is the one-day, stay-at-home, mini-GISH!  I’ve talked about GISH in other iterations of this blog (which really isn’t helpful for a large number of people currently here, but long-time readers may recognize the name). GISH is normally a week-long multi-media international scavenger hunt combining bizarre challenges, acts of creativity, radical kindness, and general weirdness, run by Supernatural’s Misha Collins.  It’s one of the highlights of my year, and I’ve headed up my own team since 2014.  This year our regular hunt will be in August — whether or not the quarantine is still in effect, with items being modified for those of us still under quarantine — but this one is designed as a fully at-home hunt, with proceeds directly benefiting COVID-19 relief efforts and feeding low-income kids.  Kick-off is at 3 pm EST, and it runs for a full 24 hours; I’ll be able to share what we’ve completed by 3:30 pm tomorrow, so I hope to have some fun stuff to share with you all by then.

Until then, these are the last two pieces I completed.  I have severely mixed feelings about the drawing; I love, love, love the monstrous mouth.  I think the shading and coloration on it are wonderful.  I am upset by her head and face; I messed up on the mouth, and the lines for her hair were faint and I definitely outlined too “wide,” i.e., her head is bigger than I would have wanted it.  The biggest issue I have, though, is my cheap pencils don’t blend and don’t give the coverage I want,  I need to invest in wax-based pencils like Prismacolor.

The painting is not 100% complete, but I like the concept and am moderately happy with how it’s turning out.  Acrylic will probably never be “my” medium, but I feel like I’m getting incrementally better.

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I just want to end by saying, I know I talk about feeling the need to make “good use” of this time, and I want to clarify: we are experiencing trauma.  I know that, and I need other people to know that.  Everyone copes with trauma differently.  Keeping busy and doing projects make me feel better; they help me manage my anxiety, they make me feel proud and accomplished.

That being said, I will gently suggest that if you are mentally and emotionally capable of doing so, finding a hobby or a past-time to fill the time, simply because in my experience it makes time pass more smoothly and gives my mind something else to focus on.  But it’s not a competition.  You don’t owe other people “productivity” during this time, and maybe your new “hobby” is finally binging every show you always swore you’d “get around” to, or developing a five-star island in Animal Crossing.  That’s fine.  If that’s helping you cope, that’s wonderful.  But try to find something to keep you afloat; you don’t have to defend what that is to anyone.

Stay safe, stay sane, stay inside.

Throwing in the Towel (NaPoWriMo/A-to-Z)

Ah, I hate to do it.  But I think it’s for the best.

I am proud to have made it to April 20th; given the momentous shift my life (our lives) has taken in the last month and a half, I am incredibly and sincerely proud of anyone who has continued to create, especially for themselves, for the sheer purpose of creating, and I include myself in that; I’ve not produced the greatest work of my life during the past twenty days, but I’ve created something every day, and I have a lot of raw material to work and rework and build off of.

All this to say, I’m dropping both challenges, both A-to-Z and NaPoWriMo.

I’m planning on continuing drawing, painting, and writing, but I’ve opted to also take on several other projects that, with the addition of parenting/homeschooling and maintaining a household, is making the challenges a burden rather than a fun creative exercise.  I still have several ideas I’d brainstormed for upcoming songs (from A-to-Z) that I want to follow through with — it just won’t be on the work-a-day schedule.

Good luck to those still seeing this through, and I wish you all a successful final ten days.

 

A-to-Z Challenge: Hurdles Even Here

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This is a day overdue, but I had a bit more room to breathe today — no classes for either Bear or I, and my husband was home and helped alleviate the most soul-crushing of the chores (though I still have plenty to do Monday; not going to bother doing any tonight or tomorrow.  I’m not a religious person, but old habits are hard to break, and I was raised with Easter being a resting day).  Once Monday rolls around, I’ll have Bear’s classes, an 8:30 am class of my own, followed by training at 10 am (though I’m pretty sure I’m just going to log on while I’m folding laundry, so at least I can multitask), so I’m thinking some of tomorrow’s resting will be the far-more-enjoyable-than-chores task of working a bit on Monday’s A-to-Z.

Anyway, on to yesterdays.  Acrylic, once again, on a 12” x 16” canvas.

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Hurdles Even Here
So it started in your ovaries
A stone, a seedling
Our bones entwined
A warning from the orderlies
A bulge for bleeding
This will take it’s time

So it all ran down the telephone
And saw me clearly
Only nine years old
Calmly cast in styrofoam
In my Tony Lomas
When the shock takes hold
Mom, there are hurdles here
That I cannot seem to clear
Dad, there are demons around
And though I said that I
Said I’d be all right, I lied

I lied
I lied
I lied 

So fix your brood and belly now
Get your fingers wringing
Get your loins unstained
It’ll eat you from the inside out
Until it comes out screaming
Until it all falls away 

Dad, there are hurdles here
That I cannot seem to clear
Mom, there are demons around
And though I said that I
Said I’d be all right, I lied

I lied
I lied
I lied

A-to-Z Challenge: Go Places

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Sadly, I could not think of a Decemberists song for my “G” entry, but that doesn’t mean I get to skip.  Just means I have to pick another band.

Today’s entry is “Go Places,” by The New Pornographers.

Micron pen and watercolor.

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Go Places

Yes a heart will always go one step too far
Come the morning and the four corners I see
What the moral of the back story could be
Come with me, go places
And a heart will always stay one day too long
Always hoping for the hot flashes to come
For the glue to dry on our new creation
Come with me, go places
Come head on, full circle
Our arms fill with miracles
Play hearts, kid, they work well
Like classics play aces
Stay with me, go places
Once more for the ages
Yes a heart should always go one step too far
Come the morning and the day winding like dreams
Come the morning every blue shade of green
Come with me, go places
Come head-on, full circle
Our arms fill with miracles
Play hearts, kid, they work well
Like magic, play aces
Stay with me, go places
Once more for the ages
Come one now, come all ye
This story breaks free here
Tales from the back pages
From somewhere, Encida
Deus ex machina
Good morning, Christina
Come head on, full circle
Our path blocked but sure we’ll
Make records, then set them
Make copies, win races
Stay with me, go places
Once more for the ages

 

A-to-Z Challenge: Don’t Carry It All

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Today was the first day of official on-line learning for both my district and my son’s.  He had his first virtual “morning meeting,” and followed a schedule posted on ClassDojo, and I spent time communicating with leads to get added to Google Classroom and had my first synchronous Google Meet session with my Algebra 1 class.  After that, I had to handle delivery and exchange of groceries (my father dropped off milk and some treats for Bear, and I returned his hair clippers), lunches, chores, and working Bear through his Scholastic lessons as well as his class lessons.  All in all, I was busy.

This is all to say, I didn’t finish today’s entry.  I’m still going to post this progress shot, and I’ll post a completed shot on Saturday, when I won’t have other A-to-Z art to complete.  Some of the people are still literally nothing but floating heads, no texture has been added to the trees, and shadows and highlights are perfunctory at best.

Still, while it’s neither done nor perfect (hopefully it will be closer to “perfect” when it is done), I’m proud of myself for playing with style.  This is acrylic on a 16” x 20” canvas.

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Here we come to a turning of the season
Witness to the arc towards the sun
The neighbors blessed burden within reason
Becomes a burden borne of all in one
And nobody, nobody knows

Let the yoke fall from our shoulders
Don’t carry it all don’t carry it all
We are all our hands in holders
But meet this bold and brilliant sun
But this I swear to all
A monument to build beneath the arbors
Upon a cliff that towers towards the trees
But every vessel pitching hard to starboard
Lay it’s head on summer’s freckled knees
And nobody, nobody knows

Let the yoke fall from our shoulders
Don’t carry it all don’t carry it all
We are all our hands in holders
Beneath this bold and brilliant sun
This I swear to all, this I swear to all
And there a wreath of trillium and ivy
Laid upon the body of the boy
Lazy will the long come from it’s hiding
Return his quiet certitude to the soil

So raise a glass to turnings of the season
And watch it as it arcs towards the sun
And you must bear your neighbors burden within reason
And your labors will be borne when all is done,
and nobody nobody knows

Let the yoke fall from our shoulders
Don’t carry it all don’t carry it all
We are all our hands in holders
Beneath this bold and brilliant sun
And this I swear to all
And this I swear to all
And this I swear to all
To all
To all
To all

 

A-to-Z Challenge: Billy Liar

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Housekeeping:

I am so much happier with today’s entry than yesterday’s!  I did some reconfiguring of my expectations for the month and really tried to open my mind to the idea of doing a more multi-media A-to-Z, seeing it as an opportunity to try out different things stylistically and in different mediums.  Today I opted for acrylic, which I’ve been trying for a long time to figure out — how it fits into my stylistic repetoire, what I find it useful for, etc.

I don’t think I’ve got it totally figure out, but I’m still happy with today’s effort.

Acrylic paints on a 7” x 14” canvas.

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Billy Liar

Billy Liar’s got his hands in his pockets
Staring over at the neighbor’s, knickers down.
He’s got his knickers down.

So the summer is eternity for you?
Sleeping in until your father’s shaking you down
He’s shaking you down.

And the mailroom shift gets a real short shrift
As you dole out the packages, no-one seems to want you around
All skulking around.

Let your legs loll on the lino
‘Til your sinews spoil
Will you stay here for a while, dear,
‘Til the radio plays something familiar?
Plays something familiar.

All a-drifting, he’s a no-good boy-o
Sent a-fishing for a whalebone corset frame
(His only catch all day)

So he sits and lets the current take him
A gentle breeze will leave his pants in disarray
And at his ankles laid.

As he drifts to sleep with a moan and a weep
He is decked by a Japanese geisha with a garland of pearls
How she twists and twirls!

Let you legs loss on the lino
‘Til your sinews spoil
Will you stay here for a while, dear,
‘Til the radio plays something familiar?
Plays something familiar.

 

Paint nights

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This one was very quick; I completed it in under fifteen minutes, while listening to my husband read Bear The Little Esrog before bedtime.  The shading on the stones of the planter feels very satisfying to me.  Less thrilled about the cacti, but I really leaned into the idea of a “sketch” while doing them — less refined, more the general shape and sense.  I some point, I really should invest in some good drawing pencils and a portable sharpener.  Probably about ninety-five percent of what’s wrong with my sketches can be attributed solely to my own lack of skill, but the Dollar Tree bulk supply of mechanical pencils probably aren’t the absolute best tools to be using.

I got suckered into spending the afternoon at my parents’ house by Bear, the master manipulator, which was not a problem (it was actually quite welcome, as they provide coffee and company after a day at work), but meant I got nothing at all done at home, and had to start dinner immediately upon setting foot in the door.

All I really want to do for the rest of the night is work on my micron drawing and think about my next painting project; after I get back from the con, I really want to use weekends to experiment with paints again, especially since I got a brand new set of acrylics for Christmas.  Acrylic painting is a bit too messy to break out every night after Bear goes to bed, but on a lazy weekend day, might make a good Saturday evening project.

Speaking of, I’ve actually been thinking I would love to host a paint night for some friends some day in the near future.  I should make that a goal for the coming months.  Buy some wine, make some appetizers, and invite people to bring potluck and alcohol, and we could either paint in tandem from one reference work, or each pick a subject near and dear to us.  How awesome would it be if it became a routine or tradition of some sort, even if it was like only two or three times a year.  I would love to give that I go.  I think I’ll have to put some further thought into it, but maybe once the weather turns nicer.  With a small enough group, we could even do plein air painting on my patio.

You survived Monday, the hardest hurdle of the week!  Breathe.  You got this.