Just finished a painting that I really quite like. Works the themes of infrastructure and nature. Check it out below and let me know what you think. I’m kinda bummed though that I’ll be losing my studio at the end of the month. Gotta do some financial consolidation and can’t really justify the rent as it is in addition to what I pay for a place to live. I intend to keep painting, will just need to be a bit more creative about finding space to do it. I feel like I didn’t make enough use of the studio while I had it. But I need to be nicer to myself than that – I got a lot of painting done, and more importantly, I have a much better sense of the subject matters I want to paint, and feel more confident of my style. I believe that I could now do a true series than I could maybe get shown somewhere.
I read recently a book about the Bauhaus, and really enjoyed the chapter about Paul Klee, whose art I love. Even though a lot of his art was highly abstracted, it dealt with themes of nature and even landscape, which it often tries to evoke through colour, shape and texture. I like the idea of juxtaposing nature with infrastructure – hard man-made shapes again softness and chaos of the natural world. Sycamore trees and overpasses (lol). As I figure out this theme, I’d like to try some abstractions too.
Looking for a job. I think I’m getting over my hang-ups here. It’s just work and money, almost everyone needs to do it. Assuming I can get a job in the field of infrastructure I have to remember that this is a subject I love, and if I can just get over resenting working full time, I might have something significant to contribute. Plus, I can’t deny that earning money is a bad thing; it can make the longer term goal of being an artist possible. For now, thankfully, I can paint, and I am off to do just that!
Well I just composed a nice long new post but when I tried to add a picture any then changed my mind the whole post was deleted. Amazed that WordPress on iOS does not automatically save drafts but apparently it does not, so no new post. Extremely annoying!!
Anyway, here are some new artworks I have done. Will type some more on recovery on my laptop as it seems too risky on an iPad. Grr.
I feel like I just have a bad attitude in life. I have a really hard time seeing the good in much around me, and a tendency to take anything not going my way very personally. Yes, have we met? I’m definitely an alcoholic… So with these natural inclinations that I have, I am trying to keep myself away from my own thoughts because all this darkness wants to lead me back to my old ways of basically self medicating. The painting helps, though it is a solitary activity and I know that one of the best ways to get away from self is through other people, in particular through concerning yourself with their problems versus your own. But I’m a social anxiety ridden hermit so that isn’t easy for me. To be blunt people either terrify or annoy me, and since that is what I so obviously project, it seem people are rarely chomping at the bit to spend time with me.
I’ve resolved to speak to more people in the program and to get back and do more volunteering. Just to get me out of the house and engaged with people. I’ve heard it is self defeating to give of oneself and expect things in return but I do also think that volunteering is a way of filling time that “looks good on the resume.” Or rather confirms that stints unemployed were not entirely consumer with daytime television and eating proverbial bonbons.
The art is going well too. See below a painting I did from the cottage. Very Canadiana I think. Started working on another one, similar theme but evening shot with all those wonderful blues and violets. Will be interesting to see how it turns out.
Also did some writing yesterday. Read an amazing book a friend lent me called What It Is by Lynda Barry, a cartoonist, and creative muse. Through telling her story, she bring home the point that creativity is not about thinking at all, but occupies a different part of the brain centered on images. Story-telling is about describing things your mind’s eye sees, not figuring out some riddle. It’s made me rethink my writing totally and start from the basis of my own visual inspirations, and describing my experience of them. It’s consistent with the “not thinking” theme which is why it stood out for me. What will work for my recovery may also work for my creativity, a happy lining up of ducks!
Hanging out at the library on a grey summer day trying to do some writing. In this case the writing is an article that I am writing on the subject of public infrastructure, an area that I have worked in for many years and that I would like to write about, in a published sort of way. But to do that I need something to send around to magazines, and of course writing is very hard. Striking the right tone is important – do I want to approach it from personal experience, or as a self-appointed “expert”? Is there a middle ground? Really society doesn’t seem to think about public infrastructure much, except when it doesn’t work, and this in a nutshell is the problem in my view, but it also makes it a tough subject to approach in flowing and captivating prose. At some point I have to stop revising it endlessly and give it to some friends to read for feedback. It’s that whole self confidence ball of wax again, and I know I don’t have much of it. I’m almost as afraid of success as I am of failure. I often feel the same way about my painting, though at least there I enjoy the process more.
I guess it’s worth asking myself why I want to do any of this stuff. It feels like a compulsion, or as Joni Mitchell so aptly put it in a song, “chicken scratching for my immortality.” Creativity is existential,and it gets to those fundamental questions of why we feel we’re put here. Oh, and for me, I need to find something to replace the booze that I filled that hole inside me with. Sitting at the library isn’t nearly as fun as a bottle of rye, but even if there is a slight sense of accomplishment, it’s worth it. Oh, and there’s no shame in it, or lost weekends – those are good things too.
Just ending a couple of days up at the cottage. I was here mostly with my dad but I spent the last 24 hours here on my own. I was nervous about that as I used to drink up here a lot so there’s a lot of “remember whens” but it’s been really nice, really peaceful and grounding. I’ve been getting some writing work done including applying for a self-employment program from the government. Starting to oil the wheel that needs to turn for me to get on with my life. Feeling less anxious and the amazing nights sleep that I get up here only help that. Sort of thinking I should have a sobriety weekend up here with a bunch of my friends, maybe in September… Also gotta do some painting and bring my supplies! Will post any creations…take care blogosphere!
Wow. I’ve really neglected the blogging. I guess that is not atypical; I read somewhere that 30,000 blogs are started each day, which means probably something like 99% abandoned within a month or two. I refuse to succumb to those statistics! Plus much has been going on in my life! I’m contentedly still sober and feel like my program to remain so is going well. I’m starting to feel more hopeful about my future too. And I’ve been getting some inspiration from others through my reading, both in terms of a philosophy of living, and also in emboldening me to put pen/brush to paper/canvas with my own ideas.
The first book I want to mention is In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate, a doctor who works with addicts in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside. The best description of addiction I have ever come across, written empathetically with a view to understanding its causes, and how tragically ineffective society’s current response to it is. In Maté’s view, addiction is an essential a problem of brain development, a maladaptation to less than optimal life circumstances beginning at birth. Addicts look to substances to find solace, unable to resist the impulses of the brain seeking pleasure and comfort amid a seemingly hostile world. There is no easy solution but simple awareness of the mind’s workings can be powerful. The ability to provide empathy and comfort to one’s self, and to “let it go” when obsessive and self loathing thoughts overwhelm can provide a new freedom. I find this prescription is fairly consistent with the 12-steps of AA, both the ideas of powerlessness, and of turning our will over to a Higher Power as a means of getting beyond the cacophony of our minds, and it’s reaffirmed my commitment to work to the 12-steps.
I’ve also recently read another great book about creativity. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon is a great short little illustrated manifesto of how to be creative. He offers ten practical ways to approach the creative life, based primarily around the idea that art is mostly reinterpreting existing ideas, and so we should not allow the need for originality to hold us back. The real challenge in tapping our creative muse is in the doing, so he offers some ways to help us all get to work effectively, including a suggestion to resist the siren call of technology and use our hands to draw and write. I’m going to try that one (I say as I type away on my iPad…).
Speaking of creativity, I am still painting. That piece that I committed to finish in a week (ha!) is actually almost done. I think I like it. It has a starkness to it, though I still would like to add something that suggests the movement of cars (as it is a freeway in the foreground). Anyway, here it is in its current iteration. Going to work on it this afternoon some. Cheers folks!
So I am committed to finishing this painting this week. Gotta start producing more if I’m to have enough work to try to sell something or get get some stuff in a coffee shop. As much as I am enjoying the art, I’m not treating it like a “job” which I should be. I read this book on the weekend called The Law of Sobriety which basically goes over the common elements among people that “get” recovery. One of these was acting “as if” – i.e. I should act like I’m a professional artist even if I am not. I should like I’m acing sobriety even if sometimes it’s difficult. I guess this is just projecting positive feelings which I’m told are contagious. But I have to say I’m feeling pretty good these days, and more hopeful about the future. I think that’s the most important think I can do right now. Expect to see a gooorgeous painting by the weekend…….