Arting with Others – When Being an Artist Cannot be a Solo Affair

Good thing you’ve lost the ability to give any and all fucks before having a kid, because life has dropped an anvil on you and your functioning in this world with a child would have otherwise been completely impossible.

So how do you go about making art, the only catharsis you’ve even had?

Warn All your Friends and Family that, Yes, You WILL be Listening to the Same Song Loud and on Repeat for about 2 Weeks.

When I was younger and less aware that other people in the world besides myself existed, and my brain started going haywire, I used to lock myself away in the dark and fly through my music collection until I found what spoke to (or for) me the most.  Then I would listen to it on repeat until my ears were on the verge of bleeding. I would do this for weeks on end until I could paint about the situation or forget about it.

As a single mother living with family, I really have no way of doing this. So, as a functioning adult, I make-do when life gets me down. Currently “Easily” is on repeat in the car, blowing out speakers at home when my family is out, blasting from my phone during my pre-opening and post-closing work duties, and when I’m out Ingressing I sing that shit over and over again to myself in the backseat of someone else’s car.

Make your Kid “Art” with You

Whenever I need time to myself is the best time to actually include my child in the making of the art. For example, yesterday I came home with a nice 5′ x 5′ piece of cardboard from a work delivery and dropped it down in front of him with a fresh box of crayons as I fired up my soldering iron to try and wood-burn the fuck out of a wolf.

Social Media posts for EVERY FUCKING STAGE OF YOUR PIECE.

I realized that a few people in particular may mistake the nature of my most recent piece as about them (which is understandable because I do shit like that). So I laid off of the complete A-Z, but normally one would see every. god. dammned. step of this shit until completion. Both for the sake of accountability and for feedback.

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Write.

Often times a sketch pad or a woodboard or freaking-the-fuck-out isn’t someone you can do. So, get out some paper and journal. Free-flow your thoughts onto paper, make flow charts. Do it at dinner, on work breaks, while having discussions with your mother about where you’re going to get the money for a new car. My mini-sketch book is full of non-sensical gibberish that only myself could understand. Mostly quotes from “Easily”, though.

“Throw me to the wolves because there’s order in the pack, throw me to the sky because I know I’m coming back.”

“The story of a woman on the morning of a war, remind me, if you will, exactly what we’re fighting for.”

“Calling, calling for something in the air. Calling, calling I know you must be there.”

Song to the Siren

On Being Crazy

I Can Be a Little Crazy

A few days ago, a sweet, slightly sinister tall man received this drawing tucked away behind his cigarettes.

A little crazy? I’d say so. Most people would as well. Not surprisingly, the people who would be appreciative of it are often recluse Hanson fan fiction enthusiasts and people who don’t quite live on the same plane of reality that the rest of the world does.

Typical Reactions

I once was in love with a man who was content with being my Salty Dog rather than my Leather and Lace Lover. One evening, after the lights went up, he sat in one of my chairs and eyed the series of paintings that were obviously about him (one had his face, dead center). I searched his expression for something calm and collected.

“It’s not that crazy,” I walked to his side and admired with him the spectacle of markers, wood, canvas, and paint.

“Well,” he laughed, slightly nervous, and gestured towards the art, “I mean, it kind of is. I mean, it’s my face.”

“Come on,” I said in disbelief. “You can’t tell me that you’ve never felt something that words could not express; you can’t tell me that if you could draw or paint or compose or sing to get your thoughts across to others, that you wouldn’t do it.”

His face evened out and after a moment he nodded. “Yea,” he conceded, “I guess that I would. It’s better than drinking and ignoring my problems.”

The owner of the bird drawing (with the creepy quote from a creepy song from a creepy chick) did not respond to this craziness. I never expect anyone to. Most of the time, the men in my life never see these pieces of my heart on paper.

What Would I Be Without Creepy Tomfoolery?

I have discussed this phenomenon with my best friend Molly Reynolds, screenwriter and creator of The Gingerbread Pimp. We agreed that creative outlets may have kept us in line in our youth. We also have friends who have written plays, opuses, and novels about love interests and/or exes.

Speaking for myself, I have always been a very intense person, moreso as a teen. My love was more fevered, my confusion more disorienting, and my anger more boiling. What kept me from being a complete hot mess of a girl who had tons of sex and then punched all her lovers in the mouth? The ability to draw and paint about my fears, my desires, and my concerns.

Song to the Siren

Music has always been the actual siren, drawing me in; it amplifies the things that I think and feel (which obviously need no help swelling up in my body). John Frusciante‘s music often spirals me into a world of thought and emotion. His inclusion with the Chili Peppers was like a gateway drug to and endless addiction that cannot completely be satisfied.

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As for the song as it relates to the recipient? It doesn’t, really. But something about that longing, that lucid remembering of feelings that I haven’t felt in many, many years, draws me in and batters me; I recall a time in my life where I was happiest, a time in my life where I felt that I knew the truth about love and the world surrounding me; I recall a time in my life, before the miscarriages, alcoholics, and walking barefoot through North Hollywood, where I was free.

In a way that suggests it was all an illusion.

 No actual human sirens.

 

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Writing a Book 101

Writing a book. Painting a masterpiece. Self-improvement. Everyone has something that they dream about, that they wish they had more time for. How to I get motivated to write? How do I start? 

Before my son was born, I sat down with the intention of writing this EPIC children’s book for him. I didn’t know where to start. I knew I could write. I definitely knew I could illustrate it. What about the process was stopping me from actually doing it?

Organizing, is what it was.

“I Work Best Unorganized…”

…is probably one of the worst things you can say to yourself. I spent high school in a messy room and pointed to my moderate success in school to it’s supposed freedom. Paints everywhere, projects scattered. But those projects mostly remained unfinished, unrealized. So much potential sitting around waiting to be written, painted, compiled.

Make Lists

Lots of Lists.

If you can’t focus, restart. When life got especially tough for me, I made lists to keep me on track. 1. Get Up. 2. Brush Teeth. 3. Comb Hair. No, seriously. I made a “Get Up in the Morning” list. Nothing got me back on track than telling myself what to do.

When I started writing my son’s children’s book, I started making lists of what to do. Here’s a run-down, to give you an idea:

  1. Rough ideas for writing
  2. Rough ideas for illustrations
  3. Share
  4. Which did i like better? Draw to the writing or write to the drawings.
  5. Share drafts
  6. Rewrites
  7. Page Layout

This actually worked. #3 (sharing) was actually the most important part of holding myself accountable (see below).

Thumbnails

Drawing your book out is NOT just for the artist! Everyone with a vision should conceptualize what they see in their head! Use rectangles to break up your writing into manageable chunks for your audience. If you are illustrating your book, be sure that your thumbnails focus on two things: Layout and Copy Space:

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Above are rough thumbnails for my upcoming book about a dinosaur in space. Notice how I am blocking out space (are, not actual space in the universe) for copy. The first pass at layout is weak and instead of investing time into the final illustrations before I realize this, I have only spent a few minutes on each. This minimizes any feelings of loss or wasted time.

Include Your Friends

Feedback is very important. Sharing with your friends is much more than spell/grammar check. Having friends read drafts and ask questions really teaches you how to flesh out your story and make it more universally appealing.

No friends? Find a writing community. Where can I get feedback on my writing? There are several on Livejournal, including the Fiction Writers community.

Time is On Your Side

It took me over a year to finish a 15 page illustrated book. This sounds daunting. DON’T LET IT INTIMIDATE YOU. I had a newborn and I could only work on this during his naps, or if I had the strength to stay up a little late. You can do it!

Here is a list I found on Tumblr that can help you further!

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