Jan. 17th, 2014

chantico: (Thoughtful)
Better today. I didn't get much work done, but I pushed through the horrible torture picture on my queue and now I am free of that one forever. Going out tonight for a birthday celebration for someone I have made the acquaintance of but don't really "know" know. He seems like a good dude, and it's important to keep getting up and running the friend-making marathon. And I finished a painting study for my Light picture. It is good. I am pleased. I am *very* pleased that I did well on estimating the colors, which I always have some problem with, but as usual I am not so great at figuring out value. Especially in situations where something is highly saturated. I am not sure how to train my eye to detect that, other than continual practice. Well, it would be continual practice either way, but like many art things, sometimes it takes a special way of thinking about a subject to get it through my head.

Speaking of painting.

Right now, I spend a lot of time contemplating my place in the artistic universe. There's lots more to write about that; it's a dodecahedron of issues, but this facet is all about Why I Do Art. Or more specifically, Why I Have Done Art. (And even more specifically, "One Significant Fraction of Why I Do and Have Done Art" but now we're getting pedantic and I don't want to think about how you divide one side of a polyhedron by thirds because math, whatever, ANYWAY) Look, I'm not shy about the fact that I am a Leo and I live up to the attention seeking stereotype. I like eyes on me-- or deflected slightly, onto my art. Maybe I didn't start to draw because of this, but I sure as shit started showing my work to people because of it. I drew, drew *publicly*, because I wanted the attention. I was good at the drawing, or good enough to merit a lingering glance, and it was a convenient cipher through which I could gain the praise I craved without offering up my vulnerable self. Everyone likes someone who can draw, because they can draw for *you*. And I hammered away at getting better so that I could be *better than*. I was in competition with anyone that picked up pencil, and the poor folks either never knew it or were befuddled by my antipathy. I wouldn't have made a career, a *life* out of this if I didn't enjoy it on a base level. But how do I ingratiate myself with people I want to be friends with? I draw them something. It was the Like button before Facebook existed. It was the safest way I knew of being popular.

In high school.

And then in college, I started unraveling that, but I still craved the adoration of people even if I wasn't pursuing it out of blood-tinged jealousy. But . . . if I was okay with being the second best in the class, I *wasn't* okay with being the fourth, fifth, sixth. Things that were tough for me, like color theory and oil painting? I avoided. I dropped out, because what I was producing wasn't worth being looked at. And since college, that has been the metric by which I have judged my work: is this worth being looked at? That's a fabulous skill for an illustrator to have, because it means that my focus is intrinsically on pleasing the client or the crowd.

Note that not once in this have I mentioned doing art for myself.

Because I don't.

Oh . . . sometimes I draw my own characters. And by sometimes I mean I have done some sketches. But. Well. Did you ever see a painting done of Liza? Bethy? Barty? I illustrated other folks characters, but not once did I put the time in for mine beyond some half-hour pieces. Most of my paintings in my portfolio are commissions. It's more than a matter of doing art just for other people and never giving the time to what *I* want-- it's subconsciously selecting what I want to create based on an opaque mental calculation automatically done that tallies the People Pleasing Quotient. Number ain't high enough? The image in my head dies a miserable death, never to be developed.

What has made me notice this toxic relationship with my work is the Oracle deck I want to make.

Really, the first brick to tumble was when I started working my job, and suddenly I didn't "need" to do other people's stuff, but it was an invisible brick, and only recently have the foundational cracks been visible. For a little while, I have decided that I am done doing work for other folks (for the time being). I'm mopping up some old commissions and then not taking on freelance, pocketbook be damned. But no, it was before that decision-- it was in August, maybe? April? It started when I decided to work on the Oracle Deck instead of the book, because I needed to lick my wounds after the latest writing fiasco and work on reigniting some Magick to keep the Void at bay. Oracle deck let me be comfortable, have fun playing around with my own ideas, and was intrinsically magickal, so. I picked some cards that I felt I could do right now, and asked folks on Facebook to help me pick which one to start on. ( . . .)

I worked on a draft. It came along okay, but halfway through, I realized it didn't feel right. I couldn't make it work. The thematic ideas were sound, but I just . . . it wasn't the card I wanted to paint. It had a good composition and color palette. The scene told a story and the characters looked cool. It was engaging for an audience, could be a good print at my next show. Why wasn't it Right?

Set it aside, slipped into depression. Ruminated on it, brooded. Got better with the extra meds, decided to work for myself, we are caught up in time to the end of the holidays, and I still don't understand why-- and our gentle eureka moment.

It wasn't working because it wasn't for me. What I envisioned, before doing all the things an illustrator is supposed to do, is an image that isn't all that exciting, but appeals to me personally. I rejected it out of hand-- out of the barest whisper of thought-- because it wasn't marketable. And I didn't even notice I'd done it.

Alright, so all this rambling explains the backstory, I guess, or a fragment of it. There's more. I'll write a whole other post about illustration as a mask and what I wrote above about drawing being a safe way to socialize and why that explains my befuddlement at the idea an execution of Art as Emotional Expression, but I'll write that later. *The point*. Yes. Okay.

The point is, I'm not sure if I should show off my oracle work until the project is completed. And the idea of that is driving my BATTY. Completely ape shit. *Art without feedback*. WAT. HOW. Show off is the right phrasing-- I can get some critiques, but I think I'd do it in small groups, over email, or in person.

I don't know, though. Am I grasping at an empty solution to a complex problem? I don't think liking the attention is in and of itself An Issue, but having it seated in the Captain's chair is. Is this a good way to derail that? It feels like it, but I'm not one for trusting myself overly much. I think the compromise I've come to is that I might share the developmental work, studies and so on, but the painting itself will stay a secret until they are all ready to be revealed.

And there is something Magick about that . . . but again, that's another post. I have used up my words, shitty as they might be, in blurting all of this stream-of-consciousness.

To show, or not to show.



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