It is best to act with confidence, no matter how little right you have to it.

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It is best to act with confidence, no matter how little right you have to it. -Lillian Hellman

My first earnest attempt at a self-portrait. I don’t think it looks very much like me, but it was a worthwhile process. I need to work on face shapes and proportion, and noses. Noses are my least favorite part of the face (drawing it, anyways). I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to draw my own face. Insecurity? No; maybe I’m so used to my own face that it doesn’t seem like an interesting subject.

The cloud of queasiness is beginning to lift. Last week I went jogging for the first time–a solid 35 minutes, although I walked 15 minutes of that time. I want to do it again this week, and maybe try some yoga. If pregnancy has taught me anything is that the body’s needs will not be ignored.

I am getting ambitious again–possibly too ambitious, but I expect that the fetus will pound her (tiny) foot on the brakes if need be. I bought a bagful of fresh new pencils and notebooks but dropped out of one of the art classes I’d originally planned to take, so that leaves just the one. I have two writing projects I’d like to finish before the end of the year. There is time, I think. As long as I don’t spend my remaining hours clicking through mommy blogs, glassy-eyed and dead to the world.

“First, forget inspiration.”

lady on the bus.
girl on bus, drawn on my way to my MRI appointment
“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. […] Forget talent. If you have it, fine. use it. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent.” -Octavia Butler, Furor Scribendi

Side venture updates: March is going well–even better than expected. I think I’m on target to make $500+ from my main outlet, possibly more. Today I stand at around $421, and just released a new item for the weekend. At this rate, dare I dream that March might be around $600 from main outlet?!

April is going to be $1k+ for sure (maybe even $2k?!), when a few major payments roll in from other outlets, but that’s going to be for Q4 2014. Shall I count it as going towards my $1k month in 2015 goal? I think it counts…since my monthly totals during Q4 ’14 were lower due to those payments being missing. So, come April I will have hit a major goal for this year. Now I get to ponder quarterly freelance taxes!

Things are going to slow down on this front for the rest of this year. I want to focus on some other projects, and can’t dedicate time to SV at its current pace without totally losing interest in it. I do feel like SV has proved a major point to me, though: with discipline and dedication, I can make money doing something I enjoy. Potentially, I can make good money doing something I enjoy. It’s deeply reassuring.

SV has been so consuming of my personal time that I haven’t done much in the way of art lately. I do miss it. I think I will get back into sketching. Lately I get so much inspiration from storyboard artists & cartoonists on Twitter and tumblr that it’s almost paralyzing–my skills are so pathetically underdeveloped in comparison! But then I remember that I draw for pleasure and nothing else.

If my livelihood depended on it, I think I would not enjoy it quite so much. Someone at work talked about his own side venture from a few years back. It was creatively based, and at one point it was getting so huge and profitable that he had to make a big decision about its future. He chose to shut it down completely so he could work his regular job. His advice was that if you do what you love for a living, you’re going to end up hating it on some level. This is true, I think. I enjoy history a lot more now that I’m not writing it professionally.

That said, I’ve been thinking a lot about structure lately. Without it I tend to fail. Every great achievement in my life has been built on discipline and structure (and luck). I mean, half the things I attempt don’t come to fruition anyway, even with structure (ah, failure, my old friend!). But without it, I get and accomplish nothing.

I don’t have the time or wherewithal to attend formal classes for any hobby of mine, and what ends up happening is that I ignore they completely and then they sort of aches for attention. So, I’m going to have to institute some more structure on my own.

Goals for Q2 2015:

{SIDE VENTURE}
2 new items
Line up marketing for key item, target June 20, 2015

{DRAWING}
Learn how to cross-hatchAttend Dr. Sketchy’s/get in 10 hours of figure drawing

{WRITING}
Short story (Gil) to submit
Finish outlining Poppy
Write 20k words for Poppy

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” -Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

A feeble attempt at an OOTD drawing.(from my sketchbook, last week.)

Life never ceases to be interesting, and I have learned now that if ever things seem to be dull or boring, gird your loins: the other shoe is about to drop.

Carter is recovering from appendicitis and appendectomy, and we are midway in the process of purchasing a little brown house in Berkeley. I think I am still mildly sleep deprived from the last week, although I did get in a few nights of sleeping in the center of the bed like some kind of debauched pagan queenThere is a lot of uncertainty right now, but the important thing is that he’s on the (slow, achey) path to recovery.

Assuming all goes well with the house purchase, we’ll be committing every weekend to renovations so that the house will be livable when Carter starts law school. It’s tiny and needs a lot of work – new bathroom, new kitchen, hardwood floors to be refinished, etc. I think it will look cozy and dainty when done. We’ll have to downsize some of our furniture, but there’s room for my baby grand!

What will I have time for in the next few months? I have no idea. Life is speeding up again.

I have been able to get some small amounts of drawing and journaling done. Not much beyond that at the moment, which is okay. It won’t be forever.

“The arbitrariness of the constraint only serves to obtain precision of execution.”

draft sketch no. 1

“The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself of the chains that shackle the spirit… the arbitrariness of the constraint only serves to obtain precision of execution.” — Igor Stravinsky

We are ascending. When we were first engaged, the realization that beautiful weddings involve (1) money, (2) time, which is money or (3) both made it brilliantly clear that I would not be having one of the charming DIY fetes scattered across Pinterest like so much wistful confetti. Truth: the standard hotel ballroom wedding is cheaper than the deceptively handmade ones with burlap and mason jars everywhere, unless you have a vast bevy of crafty aunts.

Continue reading ““The arbitrariness of the constraint only serves to obtain precision of execution.””

“Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.”

Calligraphy workshop!

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew. -“Falling and Flying,” by Jack Gilbert

I received one of the better compliments of my life yesterday. I was attending a calligraphy workshop, and the instructor (who’s featured in the current Martha Stewart Weddings mag!) saw my doodling in the margins and asked if I worked as an illustrator. Oh, if only!

The workshop was only two sessions but I can see calligraphy becoming a regular hobby. It demands a certain focus and slowness; on the whole I am used to writing very quickly, especially in cursive, so the tortoise-like pace of calligraphy shifts my brain into a calmer, contemplative mode. When I finish a session, I feel as if I’ve been sitting in a yoga class, except that I’m not bored out of my gourd (as I usually am when I take yoga).

The class was held in Hayes Valley, which is a peculiar mix of cute shops and shiftiness, which might be expected considering its proximity to Civic Center. I’ve never spent considerable time there, but I quite like it! Wouldn’t like getting stuck there late at night, but it’s quite charming on a sunny afternoon with locals popping in and out of the boutiques and lounging in front of the cafes. I ducked into la Boulange before my workshop and purchased a pair of macarons (hazelnut and coffee) for Carter, in anticipation of our honeymoon later this year. Time to start priming the palates.

Sun and heat is the order of the day. Yesterday I dressed in one of my usual work outfits: blue jeans, long sleeved black shirt, fuchsia flats. It was a mistake. Today, I’ve donned a feathery white cotton frock, and am hoping for some respite from the heat. San Francisco is having its summer, which I predict will last about a week. So I may as well bust out the hot weather wardrobe, which stays in the closet the other 358 days a year.

“Turds in the plaza.”

“Turds in the plaza.” -Tom Wolfe

Fountain, by Marcel Duchamp

I visited the San Francisco MOMA this past weekend with my design class. The rest of this post is what I posted to our class discussion site; I was just so cheesed off by a few things I saw…modern art is a vast category and I hate to characterize it so, but there is a good amount of it that is rotten. I can’t hold it in anymore. I hope this doesn’t result in a bad grade in the class, but I don’t care so long as I pass.

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I really enjoyed the visit, and particularly enjoyed the Laughing Nude, as well as the massive Hem (I think that was the name), the large nude that we looked at after Currin. They were beautiful.

In regards to some of the other things we saw, to be honest, though, that old fairy tale The Emperor’s New Clothes comes to mind.

This is true of the Duchamp Fountain/urinal piece. While I suppose much can be said about the provocative nature of the piece, my basic, underlying response is: if that’s art then I’m a monkey’s uncle.

When the conceptual or theoretical impulse behind a piece overpowers the visceral appreciation that it evokes from a viewer, then I think it is fundamentally flawed. If the point of the piece is to call old certitudes about what qualifies as art into question, then I suppose it accomplishes its goal, but this seems more like a philosophical sleight-of-hand than a piece of art.

As much as pop artists (artists that are actually popular with the public) such as Thomas Kinkade or Norman Rockwell are reviled by the art establishment, I see more value in their work than Fountain. Fountain falls in line with Tom Wolfe’s reference to sculptures outside office buildings as “turds in the plaza”; more or less an exercise in intellectual/philosophical masturbation than a thoughtful effort to connect with a vast and varied public viewership. So if I must concede that this is art, I would only be forced to admit that it is art for a very small, elite, and navel-gazing segment of the population. But for the rest of us, shock value does not equal artistic value.

When I came home from my visit, the first thing my boyfriend (a physicist by training who knows nothing about art and has never been to MOMA) asked me is: “did you have look at a toilet?” I had to respond that yes, that was the first thing we looked at. He laughed. I think it’s sad that the average person’s view of modern art is that it’s essentially a receptacle for human waste.

“We must travel in the direction of our fear.”

“We must travel in the direction of our fear.” -John Berryman, via Mikko Kuorinki

Halloween drawing! Pumpkinhead & creepy doll, charcoal. About 1 hour.

Hello November! Only two more months until 2013. Finished a book this weekend–finally, I have been so bad about keeping up with my reading–and read all of my back issues of Sunset that I hadn’t gotten to. Carter finished the bathroom renovation project, just about, and I tidied up the house, did laundry, and cooked. There was an IKEA trip, design class, Home Depot, Target, and Costco. I stayed up until midnight Friday constructing a color wheel for design class with acrylic paint. It was exhausting. I know I’ve told myself that I don’t need to try that hard in community college art classes since they are larks and not meant to be taken so seriously but it’s hard to shake old habits. It’s hard to not want to be perfect, even when perfection is unnecessary or a poor use of time.

When I was in middle school, I loved my English teacher. I (and a few friends) would crowd into her classroom during lunch to watch Pride & Prejudice (the Jane Austen version). My eighth grade was her last year teaching; she was leaving once we graduated to become a full time mother to her growing brood–I think she had 3 young children at the time and would have at least one more child. I remember her telling me, wistfully, that time seemed to speed up every year as she got older.

Smack dab in the midpoint of adolescence, I internally scoffed at the notion. For me, on that day, time stretched out slow and uneven, like kneading raw dough; college lingered in the distance both too close and far away; my friends too were caught somewhere between childhood and something else. My mind dismissed her observation, but I’ve never forgotten it.

And now, more and more, it feels true. The immediate impulse, then, is to shovel more experiences and feelings and thoughts into the day, to make use of the time before it sprints away. Of course this has the opposite intended effect: the more you do, the faster time goes by.

Still, the urge to do more and more is irresistible to me. There is so very much to learn and try and taste and I can’t slow down.