Slam

The daily sketch:

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Not pleased.  I couldn’t resist the reference photo; I’ve got a soft-spot for these little wall-eyed doggos.  But here’s the problem with these delightfully chonky puppers — the chonk adds a number of shadows and contours that I did not map out prior to beginning shading.  So I blocked out the initial shapes: the squarish head, the triangles of the ears, etc, and then drew the left jowl, and then promptly began sort of shading as I went.  The fact that the reference photo was a black dog complicated things further, because there was very little contrast except for fairly subtle shadow defining boundaries between flubber rolls and droopy cheeks and whatnot.  So, as I’m sure is obvious by the mess that is the lower right side of his face, I didn’t have line/contour guides for anything besides the figure outline, and I was trying to contour through shading as I went along, and that went, um, poorly, and I frequently lost track of what exactly I was sketching/shading, or how it corresponded to the reference.  So, I know not to do that; even if those initial lines get erased or shaded over to add depth and shadow in the end, I do actually need to sketch out outlines and boundary lines for any contour rather that try to simply wing it.  For what it’s worth, this was about seventeen minutes, most of that just filling in the flat, dark patches.

After talking yesterday about my consideration regarding returning to poetry and my difficulties feeling comfortable finding my own voice, I went and revisited some of my favorite slam poetry performances via Button Poetry.

A slam poet I have never been and will likely never be; I may not know all the ins and out of my own poetic voice, but I know that slam has a dynamic cadence uniquely suited to performance, and my poems are much quieter, and work the best simply on paper.  I love listening to slam poetry because a good slam performance is just that — like a slam in the chest, a punch to the gut.  I have never listened to any of the poems below without bursting into tears.

I don’t write like this.  That’s ok.  But I really want to figure out, very specifically, how I do write.  I want to become comfortable enough with writing sans automatic and intense self-criticism that I have the room to actually explore my own style and see what works without being ashamed of how rough and unpolished my writing, fresh on the page, is.

Sigh, yeah.  So it looks like the daily poem thing is going to happen.  I don’t know if I’ll post them all yet, but I’m going to make a point to write them, whether or not they see an audience.

I wish, I wish, I wish I had this level of confidence:

(CW: Mental illness, disordered eating)

Poetry

As per usual, the daily sketch:

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Here is the proof that putting in an effort make a difference; I’m fast wilting now, but when I first came home from work, I had an odd burst of energy (might have been the cup of coffee I started brewing before I even had my coat off), and actually made a my-heart-is-in-it attempt at today’s sketch.  I’d estimate it took me between ten and fifteen minutes, which is comprable to yesterday’s time investment.  It’s funny, really, given that both sketches took roughly the same time, the difference in both objective quality and my attitude toward the drawings; I clearly do better work when I’m invested.  Anyway, I don’t think I fully differentiated the light and shadow values, but overall, I’m very happy with the sketch.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned, but I was born and raised in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where Robert Frost is a bit of a hometown hero (he moved to the city in 1885, after the death of his father).  Every year, the Frost Foundation in Lawrence, and the Frost Farm in (relatively) local Derry, New Hampshire each offer a poetry prize (1, 2) in his name.  I’m debating trying to compose something to enter; maybe even a number of somethings.

I defined myself, for a long time, as a writer, which is funny to me now, because I’ve definitely produced more visual art in the last year than writing.  I haven’t really had it in me to really “write” for quite a while.  Even during NaNoWriMo and OctPoWriMo, which are usually my most prolific writing periods, yielded almost nothing this year — a few hundred words on an older, extant story and five disappointing poems, respectively.

I’ll be honest, for a while leading up to this year’s failing, I had been wavering, from poem to poem, about whether or not I was any good at poetry.  I’d been writing it from as young as I could remember, and I know that I was good as a young poet, for a young poet.  I just think I felt like, more recently, I should have been further along in the development of my own style and voice, and I never quite felt confident in having done that.

It’s sort of the way I feel about art now, though I’ve been writing for significantly longer than I’ve currently been painting or drawing.

I do wonder, though, if those feelings wouldn’t be abated with the same sort of daily practice that I’ve been devoting to art.  Would that be too much?  Would that be ridiculous?  Too much on my plate?  There’s just so much about writing that I miss.  I miss going to poetry readings; I miss commiserating with other poets; I miss seeing my name in print.¹  I miss finding just the right word, and the deep, deep satisfaction that accompanies that small victory.  I miss the cadence of lyrical language.

Sigh.

Perhaps there’ll be a daily poem/vignette in the near future.

Let’s see how I feel in the morning.


¹Back in the day, starting when I was, say, 16, I would enter a poetry contest that the Frost Foundation held through our local newspaper (unaffiliated with the Poetry Prize, and meant, presumably, to make poetry more accessible).  It routinely got two hundred plus submissions, and aside from a single year, I placed every time I entered.  There’s still archived photos of my taken at the Tribune offices for my profile in 2010 somewhere online.  It wasn’t anything particularly prestigious or glamorous, but it was gratifying to know that people were reading your words, and that those words were resonating with them.  I would love to reclaim that.  I’d love to feel that feeling again.

Multipotentiality

The daily sketch:

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My sketch is a bit more… sketchy, today.  Bear and I wound up visiting my parents after he got out of school today, and didn’t get picked up until 5:30, so as soon as I got home, I had to start dinner.  I penciled this one out while it was simmering.  I’m actually pleased with the butterfly, though the wings are a good example of my issues with symmetry (which is a major problem I have when drawing human faces, as well).  The right side is “perfect,” and the left side… well, I tried you know?  It always falls like that, too; good right side, unfortunate left side.  I’ve come to expect it.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, given some of my resolutions, about this TED Talk that I watched late last year.  It doesn’t apply to me in a professional sense — I’ve been at the same job for fifteen years, and prior to that I only had three other jobs, all temp/part time jobs in high school and college — but I definitely feel like it’s applicable to me with regards to my interests and my focus.

I think I’m okay not being the utmost expert in any particular area, so long as I have the freedom to explore interests as they arise and develop.  I’m happier being “pretty good” at a lot of things than attaining complete mastery of just one.  And being the opposite of that — being someone with one, over-arching passion — that’s okay, too!  If that’s what makes you happy, I respect that.  I do, though, sometimes feel I am afforded less respect as a “generalist” (or “multipotentialite”) than I myself afford to “specialists.¹”  Which, I hope, is not the case in reality (I’ll admit, sometimes my perceptions can be a little flawed), because I do feel like there is a lot we can learn from one another.

There’s just so much to want to do.


¹I had a professor in college who also happened to be my academic advisor; his specialization was Restoration and 18th-century British literature (with expertise in Samuel Johnson and John Milton), which I honestly didn’t give two damns about.

But when he got to talking — like, really got on a roll, talking about a particular favorite piece of literature, analyzing, contextualizing, applying — holy shit, was that hot.  Yes, hot.  If you don’t think there weren’t a half dozen of us in that class thinking dirty thoughts while he stood there and dissected Samuel Richardson, think again, my friend.

So never let anyone tell you your passion or enthusiasm is anything other than wonderful (and maybe kind of sexy).  Just so you know.

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.