Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Painting is Back.

Another week in the painting trenches. After a summer of feeling less than productive, any creativity is progress. I’m still not quite where I was last winter, but I will get there. I have the time, materials and ideas. It’s simply a matter of self-discipline, something I’ve been sorely lacking.

At any rate, the dream factory in my skull is warming up.

Here’s a little sketch. 

I spent a good chunk of Saturday night attempting to work my inner Winslow Homer. As per usual, when I try to be someone else, I find myself surrounded by crap pie, no crust. I was attempting to do full color landscapes on panel, thinking that is was almost like working in oils on canvas. Of course, it is nothing like working with oils on canvas and the whole night would have been a complete train wreck had I started this painting, which is on mat board. Which proves, yet again, that I am on to something when I work monochromatically with acrylics on paper.

And so that’s what I’ll do. I’ve no idea where it will lead. I can’t worry about such things. I’m just going to paint and see what happens. With the colder weather and shorter days, I’m itching to paint my way through the bleak nights.

With that, it is time to work.

Oh, and Bruce the Cat says hi.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Not Feeling Verbose Today.

Too many violent jackasses getting too much attention which prompts a whole other species of jackass to get too much attention... all of which leads to more idiotic fearmongering horseshit and the inevitable profits to be made from the foolish, pointless desire for perfect security.

The world is full of dumbasses.

That said, here's some stuff:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Where Does the Time Go?

Wasn’t it just May? Or I remember it being May. Then it got hot. Then we had the 4th of July. And now it’s September. Honestly, not my most productive summer.

And with that in mind, I’ve taken a look at my current time management to see if there is any way I can be more productive with the limited time at my disposal. With the summer nearly over, autumn is officially a week away, I am pushing into the cold weather swing of things, hoping to make up for my downtime of the last few months.

My first move is one that makes so much sense I should have done it years ago. I’ve been trying to find a good way to be productive on my commute to and from the city. Unlike you suburban folks who drive to work and who need to pay attention to things, my train time is mine to do whatever I like. In the past, that meant sketching and reading. Both of which were great, but did little to cut into the work I need to accomplish in the evening. In fact, they just create more work for me to do with my evening hours because they generated more ideas to play around with at my desk.

What I needed was a way to work on something on the train which produced a roughly finished product. Given the limited space and jostling ride, it’s not like I was going to get much painting done. And blowing through a non-fiction book every other day was fun but not necessarily helpful. Even writing page upon page of novels in a notebook was problematic since I would have to take time to type everything… time I simply don’t have.

Which prompted me to get all millennial. I started writing on my phone. I always have the damn thing with me, it has a tiny keyboard and loads of memory and I can text whatever I come up with on my commute directly to my computer, thus eliminating the time-consuming hours spent transforming my beautiful but nearly illegible handwriting into the printed word. It’s a simple solution to a complex problem and because it is so simple, it works like a charm.

So now I look like every other annoying person on the train, slouching in the corner of the car, staring at the phone in my hands, thumb typing away like there’s no tomorrow. But I can’t complain because it’s working. I’ve written more in the last week than I did in the previous four months. I still need to focus my efforts a bit, direct my imagination down the most fertile paths, but these early days of experimenting are about output, not quality. I need to reinforce the habit of getting on the train and getting to work. Once that becomes second nature, I will have more control.

My second move was to give up attempting to be a morning person. I am not a morning person. I am a night owl, always have been. But the new routine provides me with a free hour or so each morning. I’ve tried really hard to make that productive time. But it doesn’t work. I mean, really, I’m not awake which means I’m not bringing my A Game. Add to that the pressure of getting into a working mode, producing something good and then switching gears to allow me to get ready for a day in the city and it all turns to crap. The combination of being sleepy and stressed pissed me off more than it inspired me.

So, to hell with being a morning person. It didn’t work. But typing on the train does. Somehow, the combination of those two actions, both of which seem counterproductive in my little world, have allowed me to be more productive and waste less time… go figure.

Now, if I can get my daily painting back in gear, which is the goal of this week, I’ll actually be ahead of the curve for the first time in months. It’s entirely possible that I’ll wrap up the year doing more than I did when it started. If we ignore the hiccup of a summer spent working for The Man, this could prove to be my best year yet.

Fingers crossed.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Strange Allure of Nothing Much.

With September in full swing, the summer behind me, I actually find myself with all that time I’ve been talking about and longing for… which is both good and bad. In the good column, is just having any time set aside for my creative nonsense. As nice as it was to test my theory of being productive in just 30 minutes per day, I do prefer having a bit more time at my disposal. My latest schedule provides me with time in the morning, which is always annoying as I am not a morning person, and time in the evening to attack larger projects. In the bad column, I’m pretty sure I will never again have as much time for my work as I had in the previous decade. That’s a bummer.

With my time constraints sorted out, I decided to look at the coming months as a period to do whatever I want. No more worrying about how things will translate to the printed page or what a publisher might think. No more concern about how long things take or if I can knock out a 40 page picture book or 125 page graphic novel with this medium or that technique. And no more freaking out about the need to post something every day just to keep the old web presence in the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Instead, I’m going to put effort into something a little different. I’m going to make some stuff for myself and see where that leads. Sure, I’ll keep blogging and I’ll keep the web comic rolling, but the rest of time is going into deep exploration.

This whole idea was prompted by my being so underproductive during the summer. I came into the year doing a painting a day, which I added to by starting the MWF web comic. That was high production. And then life intervened and I spent three months so far from a creative mindset that it was maddening. The funny thing about all that real world work, is that it broke my habitual thinking about being a struggling author/illustrator. Instead of battling each and every day to find the next handhold to keep from falling out of the publishing world, I had to think about other things. In fact, I had no time to really think about my career. I was getting paid to do something entirely different. Hell, I was getting paid better to do something that had no relation whatsoever to books and the book world. In some ways, that was eye opening.

And so I found myself wandering down Broadway, free from silly jobs, free from the pressure of industrially printed crap and free of the constant barrage of idle daydreams. For the first time in many years, I felt as though I could do whatever I wanted. Which was rather strange. Liberation came as a disquieting surprise. It took the better part of a week to put some clear thinking in place.

If I’m going to do whatever, if I’m going to expend a certain amount of time and effort to make Object X, then I need it to fit a handful of requirements. It has to be fun to do. No sculpting for this guy, ‘cause that would make me miserable. It has to require a kind of high degree of difficulty to pull off… otherwise, what’s the point? It has to produce multiple copies. That’s new requirement in my world. It was one thing when I was killing two years to make a book, knowing that the book was an object everyone could have if they wanted it. I want to have the ability to make as few or as many Object X’s as I see fit. I’m tired of not controlling the means of production. I’ll create Object X, I’ll produce Object X and someday I’ll figure out how to distribute Object X and we’ll all be happy, hell we’ll be drowning in art!

That said, it’s time for me to get to work on Object X…