Posts Tagged ‘ art ’

Put me in a hole, bury me to my neck…

Recently I pitched to a friend collaborating on developing a game.  I’d tried convincing my sister to work with me on it, to no avail, but it looks like the friend is interested.  Originally, I’d envisioned my sister doing the graphics because she’s a kick-ass artist and I’d do the programming because unlike my sister, I can program my way out of a box.  When I mentioned this to the friend, he was taken aback, stating “I would’ve thought you’d needed help with the programming”.  I was like, well, yeah, that’s what you’d be doing because, honestly, he can barely draw a box but at the same time I’m going “Uh…I do know how to program.”

The problem is that I get pigeon-holed.  It happens to everyone, but I’m getting so sick and tired of it.  People attach labels to other people and fail to see them as capable of anything outside of that label.  I’m an artist so I can only do art. I’m a writer, so surely all I do is write.  The thing is these are just skills, and more skills can be learned on top of them and, well, I love to learn.  I get bored having only one skill and knowing how to do only this one thing.  I’m not alone.  People have hobbies that don’t fall immediately into their primary skill-set, or they take classes, read about things they didn’t know how to do before.  We’re curious critters, us Homo sapiens.  It’s called personal growth, and smart people strive to do it on a regular basis.  

Just because I want to be a writer, doesn’t mean that’s all I can do.  If anything being a writer means I need to know how to do more.  I’m also an artist, a programmer, a gamer, a singer, a knitter, a crocheter, a baker, a philosopher, a chef, an anthropologist, a student, a friend, a bonafide DIY-er…the list goes on.  These are things I do, they aren’t who I am.  They don’t define me. And just because these are the things I do now does not mean I cannot and will not do so much more.

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Hey, I was just watching some videos on Youtube as I ate my breakfast this morning and came across this one from the BigThink channel (LOVE that channel by the way, so many fascinating things to watch).

It’s short, but impacting, I think.  Take a gander:

I really liked what he had to say about taking a situation in your everyday life and viewing it through the eyes of another writer, though I would take it a step further and suggest trying to view it through the eyes of everyone else present.  What is my father thinking when I sit down to dinner with him, what does he notice, what does he feel about what’s being said?  Where is my boss’s mind at as I’m giving him a rundown of my status on a current task, is he distracted, why is he distracted?  What is my professor seeing and when he/she looks out at the classroom full of students and how does he/she feel about it?

I was told once that avid readers tend to be more empathetic, because your whole experience reading is about putting yourself in another’s mind, but as a writer, you need to take that a step further and become that other or more specifically multiple other persons all at once.

I instantly thought of perspective when I watched this video.  One of my favorite things to ramble on ad nauseam about is perspective and how it pertains to writing and art.  Actually, I think I’ll be writing a post about perspective somewhere down the line and, so we’re clear, when I say “perspective” I’m not talking about “point of view”, I’m talking about climb on top of your desk and give an almighty yawp PERSPECTIVE.

So, I guess, think of this short video as something to whet your appetite for that eventual post.  Hope the holidays treated you well, now get back to work!

12 New Year’s Resolutions to Say Farewell to 2012

I hope everyone had a great holiday!  My yuletide was certainly merry and bright.

Now the year is coming to a close, I don’t know about you, but it’s been a wild ride for me and I’m looking forward to what 2013 has to bring.  I like to make New Year’s Resolutions, judge me all you want, and this blog was actually created last year to accomplish one resolution which was to start focusing on my writing and get my voice out there…obviously a goal I’m still working on.   I thought it might be  fun this year to share my resolutions, maybe they’ll inspire you to write your own, or maybe they’ll give you confidence that yours were far more clever. 🙂

As an homage to the closing year, I made exactly 12.

1) Take Better Care of Yourself – One of the popular trends of New Year’s Resolutions has always been to start ‘dieting’ or ‘exercising more’ with the goal being to ‘lose weight’, ‘bulk up muscle’ or ‘get in shape’.  In more recent times, there’s been a push in focus from the promotion of a poor personal image that these resolutions create (ie. I’m fat and need to be thin), which thus creates a goal that is from the start doomed to fail, towards a healthier mindset (ie. I’m not going to exercise to lose weight but instead to feel better about myself).  While I certainly could use a change in diet (the lettuce on my hamburger apparently does not count as one daily serving of vegetables…), and probably an exercise regimen that goes beyond ‘bicep curls” with the television remote, my idea with this first resolution is to address more than just my body, but more so, my spirit, mind, and lifestyle overall, and it will set the tone for the eleven resolutions that follow.

2) Force Yourself to Create Daily – As an artist, creation is one of the most important parts of my life, in many ways, it defines my life.  Yet, over the years, my time spent creating (brainstorming) has dwindled, and now I find that my greatest effort is being focused on developing projects/ideas/stories that I created years and years ago.  While development is obviously incredibly important, if I never developed any of my ideas than they would forever remain abstract thoughts that eventually fade from memory, keeping my creative mind sharp is also of grave importance.  With this second resolution, I hope to brainstorm daily at least one new idea, to be jotted down in a journal or typed up on a word doc, regardless of whether I plan to further develop the idea and eventually bring it to fruition, in order to keep me on my toes, and re-train my mind to be continually looking for inspiration.

3) Read for At Least an Hour a Day – I have found, as I’m sure most people find, that the older I get the less I read.  Periodicals, newspaper and magazine articles, blog posts, and likewise ilk certainly get skimmed daily, but books, which in my childhood were the very air I breathed, very rarely make it into my daily schedule.  I like to claim that it’s because I have no time, but I realized as I sat in my room watching some television program…on Youtube, egad, I could be reading right this very moment.  Time is not the problem, but in fact, it is motivation.  With this third resolution, which will care for both my mind and spirit, I plan to partition off at least an hour a day for reading.  I have a rather extensive personal library, but many of the books in it have yet to be cracked open, so I’ve made seasonal reading lists and as an added incentive, motivating factor, I plan to blog about the books once they are finished.  Currently, I am working on Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers; expect an upcoming post reviewing the book.

4) Do Something New Every Week – I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll reiterate it now, for artists, specifically writers, I think experience and having wide and varied experiences is imperative.  Art is about life.  Capturing, cataloguing, recording life and to most accurately do this, one must go out and live life.  Doing something new every week might be a bit difficult a goal to attain, and I doubt that I’ll be able to with my limited resources, but it gives me the motivation to search out new experiences to be had on a daily basis and will help remind me to keep my eyes open for new opportunities, and more importantly, not to snub something new or different that presents itself based on some belief that it might not be fun or interesting, if it helps me to somehow achieve this goal.

5) Stop Making Promises You Can’t Keep – This and my next resolution are connected and they will also quite possibly be the most difficult goals I have ever set for myself.  I am terrible about agreeing to do things or proclaiming that I will do things, without regard to whether or not doing them is plausible or conceivable.  That is a longwinded way of saying: I make a lot of promises that I can’t keep.  Everyone does, and I think, everyone to a certain extent feels guilty about it, and if you’re anything like me, it also can make you feel like a complete and utter failure.  The automatic assumption as to what my problem might be is that I can’t say ‘no’, but I am actually incredibly good at saying ‘no’, I will say it all day long.  The truth is I am very bad at admitting when I can’t do something.  To look incompetent or incapable is perhaps my greatest fear, so I tend to agree to do things, because I am absolutely embarrassed to say that I can’t, for whatever reason, be it lack of time, resources, motivation, etc.  I plan to work on that in the coming year, by developing better time management skills, and a better grasp of what I can, in reality, actually accomplish versus what I want to be able to accomplish.

6) Start Keeping the Promises You Make – On the flipside of the previous resolution, I do also make a lot of promises that I am more than capable of keeping yet don’t.  The main reason I have for ‘breaking promises’ is procrastination.  If it is a promise without a deadline, such as, a simple request that I paint a friend a picture, but, you know, whenever I have time.  Well then, I never seem to find the time, and although I continually say when I see them, “yeah, yeah, I’m going to paint you that picture”, and in that sense comfort myself that it’s not really a broken promise because I can still get it done, essentially, it is a broken promise.   Especially when I do schedule time to paint that picture, but then I don’t because…I get lost on Youtube, or I start writing some side project for myself, or I get caught up marathon-ing a new-old television series I discovered on Netflix.  Even worse are the promises I make of my own volition, such as, promising to write an article for this blog that never gets written, or promising to write a short story every day for NaNoWriMo, and then not.   I shrug them off because I tell myself they aren’t real promises.  Yet, in that respect, these are the most damaging kind of broken promises.  It severely detriments my ability to self-motivate, which in the artist’s world, is key to success.  No one else is going to tell me I need to get this shit written, that I need to make my art happen, that I need to create and get my voice out there, only me, so I need to learn to be accountable to myself.

7) Simplify Your Life – This may come as a surprise to some people, and others may just say “well, duh…” but, here it goes: Life is not actually complicated.  So why does it feel so complicated?  Why does it seem like such a chaotic mess?  Because we complicate things.  We make our lives more difficult than they have to be.  I’m going to digress for a moment, it’ll come back around I promise, but I’ve spent a lot of my life being depressed, just a miserable, bitter, spiteful person.  Much of this had to do with people around me, my environment, my home life, all of those external factors over which I had no control, things that were easy to blame, but then I was told, “Happiness comes from within”.  At first I thought, well, obviously, this person never had a psychotic mother and a father who breathes insults, but then I got a little older, became obsessed with the word “Perspective” in much the same way Robert Pirsig obsesses over “Quality” in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and it occurred to me one day that what the message this saying is actually trying to convey is that Happiness is not some abstract intangible object floating out in the ethereal plane that you are sifting through life in search of, but in fact, something you create within yourself through your perspective of the world around you.  Being happy is as simple as just being happy.  At this point, my sister will not let me hear the end of it if I don’t embed this video here…it’s one of her favorite Youtube bloggers, and he just rambles on about being positive.  So watch that for a minute…or thirty if it interests you:

Ultimately, what I’m trying to get at is that, much like happiness, simplification comes from within.  I perceive my world as complicated and then I make that perception reality.  My room is a mess because my life is chaos, my writing is a disaster because I can’t focus through the disaster around me, I accomplish nothing because I have no time, I struggle in classes because I’m battling social life and work and personal projects and…I need to rearrange these thoughts.  My room is a mess, and would take me fifteen minutes to straighten.  My writing is a disaster because I focus on the false notion of how complicated my life is as an excuse not to focus on my writing.  I accomplish nothing because I don’t manage my time the way that I should.  I struggle in classes because I procrastinate and tell myself the work is too hard, except when I sit down and actually do it, it’s not hard and I ‘ace’ my courses.  So, with this resolution, I plan to stop viewing my world as complicated, instead to see my world as simple and then make that perception reality.

8) Organize and Reorganize Your Life – A lot of the resolutions I’ve covered thus far sound nice in theory, but practical application is going to require seriously organizing and reorganizing my life.  Right now, the way I live, I wake up and wing it.  Which is nice, really, most days I don’t put on any clothes, I drink beer all day (that’s a lie…I may have a beer or two, I’m such a lightweight one is enough to get me drunk…), make a mess of the kitchen cooking some new concoction birthed in the darkest recess of my mind (and it always comes out delicious, of course), and listen to music or watch television, when I should be writing or doing homework or reading or painting or just plain doing something productive.  Obviously, if I don’t set out to restructure how I do things, then most of these resolutions are going to fail before the ball in Times Square has even begun to drop.  My sister, who happens to be one of my favorite people in the world (and who is celebrating her birthday today, so Happy Birthday to my sister) is also one of the most insanely organized individuals I know.  She is obsessed with organization, and I think a lot of that has to do with how unorganized our parents were growing up.  She is making it her mission to help me organize my finances this year, so that will be fun, and I have harassed her about writing an article on organization for my blog, because I think it’s especially important for artists who must be self-motivated in order to be successful to know about organization.  In that respect, this resolution (though not numbered one) is priority one.

9) Expand Your Happiness – Despite what some people might think upon first glance of me, I have a hard-lined face and can be a bit standoffish, not to mention, my life right now is a bit of a jumbled mess (I am sorting it out…) and people might consider that a reason for being sad or something, not to mention the things I’ve implied or bluntly said about my childhood, I am actually an incredibly happy person.  As I’ve said, since realizing that happiness is not something you obtain, but something you create, I have been a happy person…I still get shaken sometimes, I doubt, I become emotional…overall, I am plainly put, happy.  I enjoy my life and I find joy in the simplest things in life.  As a creator, I always want to expand on my creations, and happiness is certainly no exception.  So far, I guess this resolution might not make sense or sound a little weird, but what I’m trying to say is that in this New Year, I want to find ways to be increasingly happier.  All of these resolutions I’m making are geared towards achieving this one, simple resolution, to make my already happy existence happier.  Really, though, I think that should be everyone’s resolution for every New Year: Be happier.

10) Redefine Your Boundaries – Everyone puts themselves in a box, some boxes are bigger than others, but we all do it.  We tell ourselves there are things we can’t do, we constantly set limits for ourselves, and we do this subconsciously.  We don’t even realize we’re doing it: when we see someone cute at the bar and decide not to talk to them, when we don’t turn in an application for a job because we don’t meet all of the qualifications, when we put something off for another day or for never because ‘we just don’t feel like it’.  On one hand, limits are good.  I don’t want to bash too hard on limits.  If they are realistic, then yes, limits can make you happy, healthy, and wise.  You know, if you tell yourself you can’t jump across the gap between the roofs of two buildings on a skateboard, especially if you’ve never skateboarded before or know next to nothing about planning a stunt like that, such as the basic physics involved, then that is a perfectly acceptable limit to set for yourself.  I do believe, however, that sometimes you should test those boundaries, just to double-check if you might be unrealistically limiting yourself.  For this resolution, I want to start examining the things I tell myself I can’t do, and then question whether I actually can, and then attempt to do it.  Hopefully, through that, I can also achieve resolution four, five, six, and nine.

11) Become a Better Blogger – This one is obvious and should be on every blogger’s resolutions list.  I would like to start posting full-length articles weekly (I have a slew of articles brainstormed on writing, critiquing, and the story-telling process, just need to get them written); I might start at bi-weekly though, to ease my way in, and I also need to start participating more in the blogging community, and to promote my blog.  Simple, straightforward, and should be easy to accomplish if I accomplish all of my other resolutions.

12) Continue To Dream – I like to throw this one on my resolution’s list every year.  I think as you get older, you stop dreaming so much and, maybe, if you’re lucky, you start focusing on accomplishing a few of the dreams you had when you were younger, but if you’re not lucky, you give up on your dreams entirely, which I think both, in their own way, are sad.  Although I want to focus on accomplishing my most pressing lifelong dreams (becoming a semi-successful writer, working on my art, finally finishing my degree and starting a career), I always like to remind myself that life is not short unless you make it that way, and that you should always continue to dream, to think of the future and what it could be.

I hope at the very least, these resolutions entertained you, and I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and the very best of luck in the New Year.  

Doodles and a Cupcake

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The mystery box…

The other day, I came in to work and found a cupcake on my desk.  Now everybody in the office knows I am a sweets fiend, so nobody would be so foolish to leave a delicious dessert like a cupcake carelessly on my if it were not meant for me.

I demanded to know who’d left it there, but none of my co-workers fessed up.  I took it home for closer inspection (and eating…).  I thought at first I might’ve known who left it, but now I think it was someone else.  Of course, I don’t know why that someone else would’ve gotten me a cupcake, as far as I know, I’ve done nothing deserving of one.

There were insinuations it might be poisoned.  I decided to eat it anyway, as I proudly proclaimed, “I would die for a cupcake”.  Yes, my sweet tooth really knows no-bounds.

Here’s a picture of  the cupcake itself.

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If looks could kill.

It’s quite festively decorated.  My father’s girlfriend suggested it might be a “Secret Santa” type gift.  We aren’t doing Secret Santa at work this year so…I kind of doubt that.

It’s a mystery that will probably drive me insane until it’s solved.  I hate not knowing something.

As with the cake on my last post about my workplace, if you never hear from me again: It was the cupcake!

Also, we’ve been absolutely dead at work recently.  I’ve been burning back-up disks, which you’ll probably note, involves a lot of blankly staring at the computer screen.  So, I’ve been doodling to occupy my mind.  I joked to my boss that in the slow season I get more artwork done than I do all year, I should start bringing in my sketch book.

Anyhow, here are some of the doodles I did while burning disks.

i ish not alien.

i ish not alien.

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I got bored half-way through doing the thing I was doing to kill my boredom. Irony.

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Can you see I like drawing these tentacled beasties? I have a few more at work I should snap pictures of…

i'm'a rugged man

i’m’a rugged man, roar!

i'm'a funny lookin' gal

i’m’a funny lookin’ gal

Yes, sometimes I like to write comments on my own artwork…I don’t know, I’m sure everyone does it.  One of my co-workers saw me doodling and was like, “You drawing a comic…I mean…ahem…” donning a mock-husky voice with (oddly enough) a slight British accent, “A graphic novel?”  And I was like, “No…but I should…I really should.”

Do I smell a series of sketch comics in this blog’s very near future?  Hm….

Taking a break from writing an essay for one of my finals and thought I’d stop in and share a video from TEDTalks.  The gentleman giving this performance, Lemon Andersen, masterfully demonstrates the diversity of the English language and the power of voice and style.

Mister Andersen’s lecture following the poetry rendition is very eye opening with a few outstanding take home messages, such as, studying the work of others within your field, and that there’s more to poetry (and, as an extension of that, writing and, as a further extension of that, art in general) than just “expressing yourself”, and to constantly seek to expand your world and that experience is about more than what you can find in a text book or in the print of a bought and paid for college degree.

Anyhow, the video inspired me somewhat and I sincerely hope that it might inspire you as well.

What Is Art?

This morning in my class “Ancient Cultures of the Near East”, we were talking about artifacts excavated from various archaeological sites in the Fertile Crescent from the Neolithic: stone tools, bronze tools, figurines, etc.; and my professor mentioned that’d seen similar artifacts on display in art museums, scoffing that they weren’t art.  It jettisoned my brain onto a topic that, as a recovering art student, I have often contemplated.

What is art?

Now, if you’ve ever taken an art class, or maybe once drawn a picture that’s been laughed at and made to feel ashamed, then you may have come across this question or wondered about it yourself.  What qualifies something as art?  What defines art?  What is the meaning of art?  Or more importantly, how does art come to have meaning.

My professor was of the mind that those artifacts on display had not originally been produced as “art” and therefore had no place in any edifice dedicated to art.  He likened the artifacts to his shoes being put on display in a similar fashion centuries after the fact; claiming that his shoes are only tools that serve a practical function, and not designed to be put on display.  However, this analogy fails on a number of levels, most poignantly because the person who designed the shoes probably would like to think of them as art.  Also, because in our society, or most all societies for that matter, garments and auxiliary items like shoes, can be a form of art, otherwise, why would we have ‘fashion shows’ (aka, gallery displays?), why would we spend so much time picking out color, weighing design?  Why would we match our shirt to our pants?  Because we care about how our clothes cause others to perceive us.

Does this make shoes art?

No, no, these are totally practical…

What is art?

Sitting in class listening to my professor rant about the ludicrousness of these Neolithic tools being in an art gallery, I thought immediately of my favorite example of “what is art”: Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain”.

Marcel Duchamp was a famous French artist in the early 1900s.  He’s been associated with such movements as Dada and Surrealism, but to try and pigeon-hole him into a particular genre would be like trying to screw in a light bulb without a socket.  He is often cited one of the most prominent artists of the past century, his work openly challenged the art scene, and often dealt with the very question which I’m posing today: what is art?

“Fountain” is one of his most acclaimed works.  It was a ready-made sculpture, which consisted of an old urinal found in a scrapyard, cleaned up, and signed R. Mutt.  Submitted anonymously to a prominent gallery, it was originally rejected entry because…well…it was a urinal.  But when Duchamp stepped forward to claim the piece as his own, the gallery quickly recanted its initial rejection and put “Fountain” on display.

“Fountain” by Marcel Duchamp

Over the decades, many have debated the intended meaning behind “Fountain”.  My sculpture professor suggested Duchamp, ever at odds with the art community that venerated him so, was attempting to demonstrate how elitist and cosmopolitan the art scene had become: they no longer cared about what was actually art, they only cared about what names were attached to the work.  My own interpretation of “Fountain” is a little less aggressive, more idealistic, dreamy-eyed notion, and that is that art is everything and anything we let or decide, determine or define it to be.

Art can be a painting or a sculpture pieced together for the very purpose of being put on display.  It can be a gourmet dish meant to be appreciated from the moment it arrives, plated beautifully, to the moment it is completely devoured.  It can be a song strung from an instrument or sung by a vocalist.  It can be a story, a paragraph, a sentence, or a single word written across a page.  It can be an action; a carefully choreographed ballet or an impulsive rhythmic gyration to a pulsing beat.  Or, it can be a centuries old milling stone from the Upper Neolithic.

Given this wide array of applications for ‘art’, my first instinct is to think of art as being a social construct – an abstract idea which society attaches all meaning to, shaping and influencing it with the changing ideologies of our society.  However, a piece of art does not change its meaning over time.  Decades, centuries and millennia later, Leonardo de Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” still enthralls and captivates us, Vincent Von Gogh’s “Starry Night” mesmerizing and haunt us, we are still dwarfed and humbled by Michelangelo’s mural on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, we are still awestruck and moved by the cave paintings in Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc caves.  Which draws my mind to my Linguistic Anthropology class.

‘Art’ is believed to come hand-in-hand with language.  Popular theory is you cannot have one without the other.  You need the cognitive ability to attach symbolic meaning to otherwise meaningless images, actions, or sounds in order to have art and/or language.  In this sense, one can connect art with communication.

Duchamp’s interests in the philosophies of art were in the intrinsic nature of its dichotomy: the artist versus the observer.  He states that, “The creative act is not performed by the artist alone…”  The artist is only the creator, it is the observer of the art who gives it meaning, context, definition.

In linguistics, participants in a system of communication are referred to as the sender and the receiver.  The sender is the speaker in a conversation, they are said to be ‘encoding the message’.    But the receiver is the one listening, ‘decoding the message’, and it is in the receiver’s ability to understand and interpret meaning in those gestures or words that the line is drawn between the sender’s message being communication or just plain old noise.

One day I’d like to see these in person, I understand photographs don’t do these cave paintings justice. (Cave Paintings from Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Caves)

Producing art is not a solo action, it may be created by the artist, but it is made art by the spectator.

As a writer, I have had moments where a story I’ve shared with others was transformed before my very eyes into this masterwork of art by my readers.  I could not take credit, at least not in whole, for what those writings became.  I maybe have put the words on paper, but the emotions and the life they breathed into those words were entirely and completely manifested by the readers.

I would propose this as a definition of art: anything created by one being which stirs emotion in another.

I know this opens a dangerous door, inviting everything to be labeled ‘art’, but considering I have always been an advocate that ‘everything is art and art is everything’, I’m strangely comfortable with this.

Going back to my professor’s comments, applying this definition of art, then it is easy to argue that those Neolithic tools most indubitably belong in that art museum.  When I look at those artifacts, I’m sure when most people look at them; it arouses this immensely powerful emotion.  It sweeps you away to another place, another time.  Who held this in their hands, shaped it for the appropriate function, used it to their own or their group’s benefit?  This person, tens of thousands of years now dead, how did they look, live, speak, think, feel?  This person, far removed from me by time and distance, but connected to me in their innate humanity.

Tools found at Chatal Huyuk.

(Quick message: I fully intend to finish writing those 50K words for NaNoWriMo.  I have exactly twelve short story ideas written down, and I’m aiming to make them each roughly 4000 words long, which’ll just about reach my goal.  I no longer care if I go past November, I intend to finish writing these short stories.  I’m currently working on one that’s roughly half-way finished entitled “Mermaid”, the story of a young girl trying to sort out the events leading up to and following her failed attempt at suicide.  I’ll post it as soon as it’s finished.  Otherwise, I have to go back cookies for the potluck at my workplace tomorrow…)

Thanks for reading.  Any insights on what you think defines ‘art’, please feel free to share!

In the Name of Love

A couple talented co-workers of mine and some of their friends made a short film for Valentine’s Day.  The theme, of course, was “Love”.  The story is simple and cute, the art direction is really good, and the music choice is awesome.  If you have about six minutes to spare, give it a gander and maybe drop them some feedback.  (BTW: I kind of really dig that the main character is supposed to be deaf but it’s not made a big deal of in the story, just another part of her character).

Art for the Eyes, Words for the Brain

I had jury duty a couple weeks ago and dutifully I jured.  Then, because I had the rest of the day off from work, I went home, took a refreshing bath, then sat outside and sketched this:

I like drawing backs, is that weird?

Also, in light of recent holidays, I decided to write a short, short, short story…like five minutes ago.  So, read, regard, review (please?).

Moment LostBY: ash.d.sorensenWORDCOUNT: Too few to bother…Her smile lingers long after her face has faded from memory.  He thinks it means something even as he dismisses meaning in the way she nibbles the corner of her lip and eyes him askance.  She’s driving him insane, the way she folds her fingers round one another, leans forward, and brushes her breath across the back of his neck.  If he could only reach out and catch her, if she could only stand still long enough to be caught.

Alas, the plight of love, like a candle’s fickle flame, it flickers than dies.

A Yellow Post-It Note and Things Written There

Today my boss-boss gave me a yellow post it note, written on it was this: Youtube “Oh the places you’ll go” burning man.  Watch it, he commanded.  And since he’s my boss-boss, I had no choice but to do as he bid.

“Oh the Place You’ll Go” is a book written by Dr. Suess.  If you do not know who Dr. Suess is, or was, then I’m sorry to say you live under a rock and suggest coming out from under it.

Dr. Suess is one of the greatest writers ever to have graced this Earth or any other for that matter.  He wrote such classics as “The Cat in the Hat”, “Green Eggs and Ham”, “Horton Hears A Who”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”, “Hop on Pop”, “There’s A Wocket in My Pocket”, of course, “Oh the Places You’ll Go”, and countless others.

If someone told me Dr. Suess invented imagination I would believe them without hesitance.  He was a remarkable man whose stories remain a childhood staple, stories that evoke wonderment in youth but grow to carry deeper meaning as the reader ages.

It’s difficult to put into words the impact Dr. Suess’ work has had and continues to have on the world or even the ways in which it has influenced a single person such as myself.  His stories were off-kilter, his illustrations were wacky, and while sometimes his words didn’t make a lot of sense, the emotions he wanted to convey in them easily showed through.  He is a writer that I desperately wish I could emulate even though I know I could never hope to grasp even a fraction of his brilliance.

This video is a reading of Dr. Suess’ last book by random people at Burning Man.  If you do not know what Burning Man is, once again, rock – get out from under it.  Think of Burning Man as a Woodstock for artists.  It’s an annual art event out in the Nevada desert that, sadly, I’ve yet to attend despite my actually living in Nevada.  Anyhoo, it’s awesome.

Now check out the video:

“Oh the Place You’ll Go” is perhaps Dr. Suess’ most inspirational book and this video not only beautifully expresses every sentiment in his story, the visuals of Burning Man and the eccentric people that form its community perfectly exemplify the spirit of Dr. Suess.

Hollywood’s attempts to bring Dr. Suess’ work to the big screen has had mixed results.  Cat In the Hat was awful, but The Grinch will always remain a holiday favorite in my heart.  Though I felt luke warm about Horton Hears A Who, I kind of wish I-Hop would bring back their Dr. Suess themed breakfast of Who Cakes with Green Eggs and Ham.

Hollywood’s next Dr. Suess project, however, shows serious promise; “The Lorax” featuring Danny DeVito as the title character himself.  “The Lorax” being my favorite book, and Danny DeVito being one of my favorite actors, you better believe I am overcome with joy and dying of anticipation for this film to hit theaters.

On a final note, Dr. Suess is the very epitome of everything a writer should be.  He effortlessly entertains and, without the reader ever knowing, educates, inspires, and reminds the reader that our reality may be limited, but our imagination is endless.  Or in Dr. Suess’ own words from his book, “Oh the Thinks You Can Think”:

 “Think left and think right and think low and think high.  Oh, the things you can think up, if only you try.”

A few summers ago in a camp far, far away…

A few summers ago I taught Arts&Crafts at a YMCA overnight camp in Pennsylvania.  It was an interesting experience, taught me a lot about myself – things I knew, things I didn’t, and things I wish I had known before going there.  For the most part, I didn’t fit in.  Camp is kind of a place where you need to be a social creature and I…well…am not.

I think I was liked by many of the counselors there, which is good, because I liked most of them.  I also know that I was liked by many of the campers, enough of them flooded my room every day whenever possible.  A lot of them begged me to come back the next year and, while, I promised them I’d try, I haven’t gone back since.  Like I said, I didn’t fit in at camp.  Though if asked, I would definitely do it all over again.

Because it takes me about three months to feel comfortable around a person, and the job was only three months long, I didn’t manage to make a lot of friends.  I ended up spending most of my time in the Arts&Crafts room, which was fine with me.  I was very much in my element in that room and I ended up turning out some great pieces of art.

At least, I thought they were great at the time.

Anyhow, like any good artist, I snapped pictures of my work for prosperity (and possibly my portfolio) before greedy, college-aged counselors hoping to hang them in their dorms snatched them up.  That kind of makes me sound bitter about it, even though, I was actually quite flattered.

In a way, they were sort of responsible for my sudden spark of inspiration so letting them take the art was the least I could do.  You see, it all started with a game.  There was a particular night, every week, when the whole camp would play a game together.  Though the game was meant to be different and somewhat innovative each time, it usually ended up being the same exact thing (a sort of scavenger hunt type game…) only with different themes.

One such theme was Star Wars (as I sing along with the orchestral soundtrack vaguely reminisce of Indiana Jones…)

I did not paint this…

In the game, the kids would go do different areas of camp meant to represent different locations in the Star Wars movies.  To help set the scene, the camp director contracted me to create signs for each place and, even though she’d only meant for me to paint the location names on large sheets of butcher paper, I had a few days to make these signs so I figured I’d go all out.

Tentatively, I made one for the ‘Death Star’, just on black with the yellow lettering in ‘Star Wars’ font.  I didn’t snap a shot of it, but reflecting now, I wish I had.  Then I started on ‘Cloud City’.

 

By this time there was a bit of buzz around camp about what I was working on and a few counselors had stopped by to sing their praises.  Apparently, they did not know I (or anyone) could do that with butcher paper and tempera.  Emboldened, I started on the last one, Tatooine.

 

After the game, a bit of bickering began about the signs and who had claim to them.  I’d given one counselor permission to take them because she and her brother were huge Star Wars fans and I honestly didn’t care where they ended up (maybe I should’ve cared, but I hadn’t everything I did art-wise at this point).  I probably would have just trashed them.  It sorted itself out and apparently my cousin (who worked at the camp several times and had been the one to introduce me to it) walked away with at least one.

Later, the same Star Wars fan asked if I would make a sign for her brother, with his name and his favorite character, “Boba Fett” on it.  Because I’m a nice person (and I didn’t have anything better to do), I obliged.

 

Anyhow, those are samples of my artwork.  I don’t know if I’d call them good but the people at camp seemed to like them.  Feel free to let me know what you think.  Throughout the course of that summer, I was asked by other counselors to paint various things and maybe one day I’ll share those with you.

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