Meeting Goals 

As usual after a lengthy hiatus, I'm not sure how to start my entry. this case by writing one sentence and then thinking of two or three things I need to do immediately then wondering if it is too late to write and if I should just go to bed. 

I clearly did not succeed in my plan of bi-monthly updates, a fact that I realized when I started my July goal list and saw my June goal of 'update website twice'. 

It's been a busy couple months and that has kept me distracted. Honestly, in June, I don't think I even THOUGHT of updating. It simply slipped my mind. 

This month, I have thought about updating a number of times. Of course those times are usually times that I can't, like at work, or during the few minutes I'm squeezing in my morning pages before I have to go get dressed and be an adult. At those times I tell myself that I will definitely add an entry that night, and then I forget by the time evening roles around, or I think about it but I'm tired and busy and there are too many distractions and it just doesn't get done. 

Other times, I have thought about updating but have been feeling badly enough about myself and my art that nothing feels like it is worth posting and I figure I'm better off working on stuff -- which I don't see as a BAD choice. It's the nights that I'm feeling too cruddy to even do that which really grate my cheese. The nights I know that I should work on something and that I will probably feel better if I do, but I can't muster the motivation out from behind the depression to even make the attempt. 

That's the bitch of depression though, isn't it? Knowing that if you could just get something done you'd feel better about yourself but not being able to convince yourself to do anything more than endlessly refresh tumblr, or curl up on the sofa to read for hours. When I finally do something I DO feel better but I am never sure if that is actually BECAUSE I did something, or because the chemical imbalance finally lessened enough so I was able to both do something and feel better. 

But enough of my mental health problems. 

I HAVE been working on things. I made something a while back which...just didn't quite work out how I wanted it to. I'm working on something now which I think I'm liking a little better, but I'm struggling with the ongoing problem of adult life -- even small projects take so long, squeezed in between the rest of what I want and need to do, that when I do have great new ideas, the spirit of them fades away before I can work on them. Some are abandoned to the pages of my sketchbook or the back corners of my mind, as I'm unable to recapture the heart of the idea that I wanted to express. Those that do get developed don't always...I don't even know how to fully express this. I need to be able to work faster. To spend more time working so I can get more projects out and both hone my skills and be able to push through projects that may not be pleasing me to something new. That's a lot of the secret. Just work a lot. Make new things, develop new ideas. 

I don't know how to articulate everything I suddenly realize I want to say. 

I'm feeling cranky and maudlin tonight. 

I'm feeling dissatisfied with myself in a number of ways and my art and perceived personal failures in that arena are only one aspect of my current stress and anxiety and general unhappiness with myself. 

This post was intended as an update with maybe a few sketches to assert that I continue to work. It has turned into a frustrated rant too late at night on a Sunday, which doesn't matter excessively, as I fell asleep for a couple hours this evening rather than working on the projects I had been planning on tackling. 

I know that art and creativity are often seen as natural companions to mental health issues, and that there are those who believe that depression and angst are what make the greats what they are. However, based on conversations with others and on my own experiences, I think that is faulty logic. Yes, some of my sad times have fueled things I've made, but so have my passions and my joys (and to be honest, half of what I make when I'm depressed smacks of over the top teenage angst and is not fit for mortal eyes). All my depression really ever does is make me unable to move forward, so convinced of my pointlessness that creation is beyond my grasp.

I hate feeling like this. I hate feeling so unhappy with myself and not sure how to balance the various aspects of my life in a way that will improve my self other than to accept that this is a rough patch and that there is nothing to do but look for solutions one at a time and move forward with them as I can and hope that the slow path forward will lead to improvement and to meeting my goals, both in the short term and for my life. 


What I've Been Up To

Since I've been so bad at updating, rather than worrying about a weekly update and then falling behind and feeling overwhelmed, I made myself a goal on my monthly goal list to update two times. My first update was rather shoddy, to be sure, mostly just a message to say that I would update again at some point soon, but now I am posting for the second time in May with the intent of actually imparting information about the current state of my own little art microcosm. 

The problem being where to begin.

Well. As I've mentioned once or twice, and touched on briefly in the last post, for a while, I was in a rather rough state in regards to my creativity. Due to stupid circumstances art had become more a point of stress than an oasis and I would only succeed in dragging myself reluctantly to my medium of choice on a sporadic basis, the rest of the time feeling dissatisfied with my lack of creative energy and plagued by phantom guilt, which only succeeded in feeding back into the bad feelings surrounding creating. 

So, I set out to change that. I started trying to draw every day again, as I should. I don't always hit the mark. Sometimes a day is busy or I go to an event and come home tipsy and tired have nothing in me but a need for food and sleep. But I try not to beat myself up for the days when I live life and experience things because I feel like that's important too. 

Also, I feel like I promised art and am now rambling about my process and I'm boring even myself. 

The point I'm working around to is that, ups and downs of my life over the last while or not..and downs and downs, if I'm being candid, I have been drawing again. Regularly. I've been getting better not thinking that every sketch in my sketchbook has to be worthy of the Louvre. I have drawn crap and I have been okay with it because I was drawing and maybe an idea came out of it. And maybe something that I thought was stupid ends up being good and sometimes something I think will be good simply DOESN'T work and arching over all of this is the fact that I once again have the DESIRE to draw. 

Here are some of my stupid sketches: 



Just...doodling. While I'm watching tv with friends, while I'm waiting to read a poem at open mic, while I'm in between other projects, when I just want the tactile experience of paper under my hands. And some of them are totally stupid. But some of them I like enough to do more with: 

I actually have a few things right now that are pencil sketches waiting impatiently for digital inking, things I haven't yet had time to tackle. Because my time is not always my own. I've had a couple of people beg projects off of me: 

(Conversations with Coffee can be read here)

There are more things to talk about: work, art and music festivals --but think I have a little time before a friend arrives to start work on a new project, so I'm going to leave this for today. 

Fair winds and full sails! 



Procrastination Spiral 

Yet again, I've gone months without updating. 

I have to admit that a few of the good habits I'd been building have been falling to the wayside lately; updating my website journal, my second attempt at the Artist's Way, my weekly goal list.

The website, more than anything else, however, has fallen victim to the treacherous and dreaded Guilt and Procrastination Spiral -- that phenomenon of putting off a task and then the longer it has been since said task needed doing, the more guilt is associated with the failure and the more weight it takes on in one's mind and to deal with the stress, the task is put in a box and buried in a shallow brain-grave where a corner sticks up and trips you whenever you walk past and reminds you that you HAVEN'T DONE THE THING so you freak out and put more dirt on top of it and promise yourself you will take care of it properly SOON and then find ways to ignore that patch of mind-forest for a while and it's STILL WAITING FOREVER WAITING.

Or maybe that's just me. 

So, this won't be a long post tonight, but the point is to break out of that cycle and not think that I have to make a Deep and Meaningful post to make up for my absence, just to make A post. 

This is going to be a more of an 'I'm still here and will post soon I promise' post than anything else. I'm not posting any art. Because one of the habits that I have largely been keeping to is drawing almost every day. I haven't done that tonight, and need to go to bed in just a little bit, but I want to get a little sketching done first. And to be honest, I would rather have good habits with my art than good habits posting on my website ABOUT my art.

But also due to that sketching I mentioned, I DO have art TO share. And I will soon. Not an idle threat. 

So good night, internet land. Good night. 


Springtime, Implausible Praise, and Reading Deprivation

In northern California, by the time the first week of February sweeps in, spring has the land firmly in its grassy grip. The days have grown warmer, fruit trees explode into popcorn blooms, and by mid-morning, determined sunlight drives away all but the last hairs of the night's chill. 

It is strange recalling that, two years ago this time, the part of the country I was in was bitter and dead and I didn't want to step foot outside my home. 

Now I'm only that way on the inside. 

I spent an afternoon this weekend lounging in the open hatchback of my Prius in a mall parking lot while a beautiful and talented friend experimented with finger picking chords on their guitar and the sky was blue and my jacket had been long since discarded in the front seat. I wish I were musically talented so I could capture Sonoma County in February in a song. No wonder people are so mellow here. 

Or perhaps it's just all the pot. 

We completed the first round of my first big project this week and my boss told me she appreciated my work on it, in a fervently sincere tone. I am always thrown by that kind of feedback in the workplace. Getting one's work acknowledged and being appreciated is, of course, wonderful, but it wasn't as if my work was above the bar or beyond wildest dreams. It was nice and my coworkers said it looked good but all I really did was my job. I experienced this phenomenon even at Whole Foods, when after a day of printing and laminating lackluster signs, my boss would thank me for my work that day. I have never understood this practice -- as I was at work, I don't see what else I would have been doing. Is this part of participation award culture? It leaves me floundering for a response, and additionally, not sure how to be sure of when I'm truly being praised for genuine hard work that didn't go unnoticed, and when it is merely an acknowledgement that I arrived at work at the specified time and did the work to which I had been assigned in a fashion that was not destructive to the company, and also made it another day without setting any literal fires. 

I still love my job. I'm just musing. 

I drew a lot this week.

I may or may not have mentioned and am far too lazy to go back and check, but shortly after the start of the year I restarted the abandoned 'Artist's Way'. Week 4 consists of a ban on recreational reading, in order to...hear our inner selves or something.The first time I went through week 4, I was livid at the very idea...and then I found it annoyingly effective.It forced me to take a week away from distracting the buzzing corners of my mind when the silence in my brain grew too loud.

As the author encourages following the course in a way that is as faithful as it can be, but that still works for the participants, I set my own set of guidelines. Work related reading I would do as I needed to because regardless of the author's opinion, I usually DID do my school assigned reading and did not just breeze through on a hope and a prayer when I felt like it. But I stayed off of social media and did not read on my breaks from work, and did not listen to audio books. I also did not watch any of the shows or movies waiting for me on netflix. I was allowed to read during the last cigarette before bed, and I could watch tv while I fell asleep. If I needed something to focus while drawing, I could listen to music. And I would not go on Tumblr when I got home before I got around to eventually motivating myself to work on some art perhaps in the last half hour before bed because I had allowed myself to become distracted while looking at pictures of kittens. 

And I found that I forced myself to break some habits in ways that actually carried over past the end of the week. 

This time around I haven't seen quite as dramatic of a change, but I haven't been quite as faithful either. I haven't ignored the reading moratorium, but I have browsed social media now and then's possible that on Saturday the second book in a series I had started the week previous arrived and my willpower was not the equal of it's seductive lure. 

But there were also other reasons for the change being less dramatic. Specifically, because the self-knowledge I gained the first time I went through reading deprivation didn't just disappear after the week was over. ...Though I'm not sure that self-knowledge is the appropriate term here. I was fully aware that I would often waste evenings I planned on working with vegging on the internet because my brain was tired and it was easier. I think that pattern change might be more accurate. I was given a tool to help me find a way to move out of a deeply grooved pattern of behavior. 

I am not saying I deleted my tumblr, shut down my facebook, and walked away from instagram. I honestly love social media. I think it has wonderful aspects and applications. However, it does have undeniable detriments as well, and one of those is that it can be, just as watching tv or reading can be, a way to lose a lot of time which you had intended to spend elsewhere. 

I also didn't stop reading or watching tv. Because I also love those things. 

What I did was relearn how to prioritize my free time in a way I knew I had been needing to. 

I also relearned how nice it can be to draw while listening to good music. I love to draw while watching a show or listening to an audio book and I will definitely continue to do those things. But there is a certain peace and focus for me in drawing to a playlist full of songs that I love. 

And of course, after all that boasting about my time spent drawing, this weekend was mostly a wash in that regard -- half an hour in a diner waiting for a friend to meet me for breakfast, and a short time today while watching anything other than the Super Bowl at another friend's house, and tonight my time was absolutely squandered on the internet before I recalled that I had next week's chapter to read and a journal post to write. The weekend slipped past on buttered paws and now it is time for bed.

I leave you with a sketch: 



I'm just planning to yo-yo back and forth between early and late into infinity. 

Well, I say planning...

I know I keep raving about my job, but I'm going to do so a little more. The job continues to be a bizarre combination of stressful, satisfying, occasionally tedious, and often ridiculous and fun. I'm not saying that I couldn't ask for better, because there's got to be some dream art job out there that pays stupid amounts of money, provides a gorgeous apartment in a vibrant city, has a gratis coffee bar in the lobby staffed by cute barista boys, offers travel opportunities constantly, and at which I'm always working on exciting illustrations. 

Google. I think I'm thinking of Google. 

But, overall, my job is pretty much wonderful, especially for where I am right now, and while we may not have cute baristas to flirt with, my boss is totally on board with a plan for us to hire a hot hipster intern that can break my heart, Taylor Swift song style. 

Also, the meeting we had was awesome and ended up including a presentation about design (and cats) performed with swedish accents.

Also, we may be planning to start a Swedish pop band now. 

I also got hired by a local business to do a freelance project that...has had it's share of challenges...but it is still rewarding to have people hire me and end up telling me that they really like what I've done and it's just what they wanted. I need to learn to shut off the snap reaction to always say yes to a job that comes of being a starving artist, hasn't been a bad experience. And I got free coffee out of it and that always goes in the win column for me.

But in my small amount of free time, I have continued to sketch. I've been trying to let my brain just go wherever it wants for a while, though I think soon it will be time to bust out some studies and brush up on some basics. And I have been returning to the point where I have drawn a few premeditated things because I have an idea and want to draw it...and I've had the desire to draw and it's been good and fun. I've also been looking back through my sketchbook and discovering less crap that I thought was in there and a lot more interesting stuff that could be developed. 

I wanted to doodle a forest fey with a garland of mushrooms in her hair, rather than flowers or leaves or branches:

And it didn't come out exactly like I planned, but my best friend said it looked like a Mucha piece and well, I can't be too bummed at a reaction like that. However, I realized that my knowledge of mushroom growth patterns was a little spotty. So then I spent a couple days doing some studies of mushrooms: 

I came up with an idea for my next tattoo and wanted to draw out some sketches:

I am planning on getting this on my left shoulder (the top one with the skull)...but not for a little while, because I actually just started a new tattoo on my right arm that, for the first time, I did not design. I came up with neither the original idea nor the art--I accepted an idea from a friend and went to an artist that she trusts and so far it is gorgeous and I love it and it is huge and I forgot how much tattoos HURT especially if you have kind of scrawny arms. What I'm getting is not quite a sleeve but it does cover large portions of my arm in solid black so it's going to take a little while. But then, once I forget how much it hurts again, I'm going to get my two certainties of life added to my other arm. (actually the forgetting is a surpassingly fast process...after two days my brain is certain it couldn't have been that bad and is eager to get under the needle again. I keep having to remind it that we CRIED and trying to decide how much of a cheater I would feel like if I took vicodin before my next session.) 

I made very rough sketches of a hipster Cruella Deville and a punk Ursula to help lay out costume concepts for what my friend and I are going to wear to a mardigras ball this weekend:

...and then last night before bed I just did one silly little doodle (that made it very clear that I need to do some pose and anatomy studies in the near future.):

I do definitely want to work on some more big projects again before too long, but I had forgotten how much I enjoyed just brain dumping silly ideas into my sketchbook is. 

Oh and for anyone who was wondering about the outcome last week -- the pizza, sadly, got a bit charred before I got it out of the oven. Life is cruel.