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.

Hm.
chantico: (Relieved)
Back is feeling a whole lot better today! I want to run out into the grass and wriggle and mow my lawn and clean my house and walk to the library! And I still can't, because healing requires patience and this is exactly what happened last week and look where that got me. Thhbbt. I solemn swear to protect my spine and give it the TLC it needs to make a full recovery.

Maybe it feels better because I took care of the gargoyle (or one of them) perched on my shoulders. Anxiety and procrastination are such close bedfellows, and the one has been driving the other for too long in regards to Origins this year. I just can't do it-- I have had too rough a winter and I am too damn poor to manage operating a booth this year. I wish it were just a matter of not exhibiting, but I'm supposed to have done the picture for the Artist's Section of the Con book, and . . . it just ain't happen. You guys, I missed a deadline. I missed SEVERAL. And in my stubborness that no, I WILL go, I WILL finish this piece of art, they're now close to print and have no picture.

Dick move, Avery.

Guilt aside, admitting defeat is the best decision I could have made, and I feel so much lighter for having sent that email off.

****

Random thought of the day: Pinterest and I have a complicated relationship. I like it, and it is pretty, and easy to visit, but I don't do so very often. I get this little trickling dread-stream moving through me when I'm there, despite the pastel mochachino feel-good flower madness of the place. Tumblr, on the other hand, I am on *all the time* despite a design team that seems to hate users and the most unintuitive, nonfunctional operating system I have had the displeasure of using. Why do I relax there?

Because, I realized, I only want to visit Pinterest when I have money. It is a site about consumerism, aspiration, *wanting*, the pursuit of perfection in all things. Pinterest is about the life you'll never have (and can't afford). Underneath that polished exterior it reeks of a sort of dishonest, competitive desperation, even if the people who use it don't fit those adjectives. For the most part what are people pinning? Products, or places that you need lots of money to visit, or projects that you need the luxury of not working to do or maintain. Recipes with expensive ingredients or for parties that are hard to afford. Clearly not *every* pin falls into this, and I don't blame the users-- I don't even blame the network. It's like . . . Pinterest is the garden, all of the toxic societal expectations of women and affluence are the fertilizer, and what has bloomed is a beautiful flower that I'm allergic to.

Tumblr, for all it's structural faults, is full of ridiculousness and messy fandom stuff and people circulating lots of art of *all* kinds and funny things and dumb things and it's just . . . fun. Once I got the hang of it, popping in over there is entering the coffee shop where my favorite geeky, arty college friends hang out. We squabble and talk deeply about things and are interrupted by someone doing a break dance routine to a dubstep Legend of Zelda cover. But most of all, it's *earnest*. Pinterest is about the life you want to live. Tumblr is the life you're living now, in all it's stupidity.

Though I still miss LJ the very most.

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chantico

May 2014

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