One good thing about working on a project and then completing it is that you can kind of use it as a stepping stone to get you to the next stage.
It delineates a period of time. There is the before the project, during the project and after the project. After the project usually involves some kind of wind down period, followed by some contemplation or unrelated activity or both, and then the hatching of the idea for the next project. Sometimes the next one is already lined up.
There is also the post-project blue period - not always experienced but often. It's a kind of feeling of loss and being lost. What to do now with all this time and energy. Sure, I just went through some rather testing times on that last project - but it all turned out pretty well - and at least I was busy. Now... limbo. Not the dance, either.
After doing many, many projects of various kinds, one can anticipate this blue period and minimise it's effects. Acceptance, joyful distractions, talking it through with friends and family (but not too much!) can all help.
So, I just had the opening night of my exhibition last night. It went really well - great turn out, vibe, feedback, sales. And today I slept in - even more than usual - and unlike the last week or so, when I have had several pressing things to attend to in preparation - I didn't have anything I had to do. I experienced that limbo feeling - the void. It was OK, though, because I am used to it. But I noticed it.
Driving early this evening - ping! - I got it! The germ on an idea for an exciting new project. A never-before-attempted-potentially-more-fun-than-ever kind of project. (We like those!) And so, my mind has somewhere to go now, something to focus on. A new fantasy to bring to fruition. A new dream to create. What is it
Before anything else - there is looking. Looking at things, appreciating the shapes and colours, the way the light falls, negative spaces. After lots of looking - almost studying - ie. looking deeply and properly - comes thinking about what you are seeing. Why you like what you are seeing or what you like about it. From out of your excitement of looking comes your passion for creating. You want to mimic the beauty of the world - share the delight of what you capture through your eyes and store in your brain. You want to re-create, re-interpret the visions, the grand mirage, the miniscule, the divine details. You have been treated by the universe - shown amazing things, colours, compositions and you want to say thank you, you want to make a temple, a statue, an icon. You want to give back, get it out, put it down. You want to touch the infinite, grab at the saucy source, immerse yourself in passionate revelry. You want to make art. You have to. You have to.
Was thinking the other day about the last time I had a proper 'job'. It was in Tokyo in 1987 and I had been working as an English teacher at Shinjuku Nova and it was slowly but surely driving me bonkers. I was newly marriend and just starting out on my career as a freelance illustrator but not getting enough work - so I had to do it. But after 6 or 8 months the tedium and rote of it I could no longer bear. So I checked the Classifieds in the Japan Times and found an ad doing something more along my skill lines and applied for it.
It was at the international division of a big Japanese advertising agency. I was called in for the interview. The bureau was a whole floor of an office building in Tamachi. One one side were the creatives and on the other side were the production staff. The interview consisted on myself and ten Japanese business men - all smoking their lungs out. I showed them my portfolio and a video on animation I had done (with buddy, Ray Van Stenwyk) for the opening titles of Simon Townsend's Wonder World. They seemed to like the stuff and my sense of humour as well as the fact that I could speak fluent Japanese.
A week later - after I had pretty much given up on it - they rand me at work and said that I had got the job. What would I be doing exactly, I asked. Mostly translating and helping with production, they said. I was talking to the no. 3 boss. Hmmm... I was hoping for something creative, I said. That is what I am good at. Well, he replied, the job is for a co-ordinator. I thought about it for a moment and said, Nah, it's OK, I pass.
Silence. He stuttered a bit and said just a minute.
Number two boss. Ah, Mr Lewie san. You have the job. Is there a problem? It's just doesn't seem right for me I said, now that I have been told the details of what you expect.
Ahhh... but you don't understand. It's been decided. You have been chosen. You must accept. We had a meeting and it was unanimous.
I admit I was a little flattered. It's always nice to be wanted.
Thank-you, Sakai san, but I don't think it's right for me.
What do you want? More money?
No, that's not it. I just don't want to leave one job I don't like for another.
But you will like this. We will make it work. How much more money will it take for you to accept.
This was a first! I was being lured. What should I do? If I'm going to go to a different job that I don't like at least if it pays better than the old one - I should give it a try, I thought.
But I wanted some assurances. There will be creative assigments, right? Yes! he said. And I can work on the creative side of the office? Of course! And you are willing to pay me and extra 25%. Yes! Please just come in. I cannot tell boss number one that you have declined. It is not an option.
I felt sorry for the guy. Plus two five percento. plus... OK! I will see you on Monday morning...
(to be continued)
When I was a little kid I was really fascinated by seahorses. When I first discovered their existence I was quite dumbfounded. I could not believe they really existed. The world felt magical, full of mysteries and delightful anomalies.
We lived near the bush, on the edge of a national park in Wahroonga back in the sixties and we would always be down the creek or climbing the rocks or exploring. It was a wonderful few years. I recall a kinship with gumtrees, kookaburras, tadpoles, small waterfalls, dirt and sticks...
At school I really loved playtime. Playing with other kids was just so thoroughly enjoyable to me. I wished we could play all the time. I was pretty good at pegging rocks. That was a big thing around the age of 8 and 9. A couple of us concentrated on honing our skills - distance and accuracy both attention worthy.
Also the game with the four squares and the tennis ball. Fantastic! Playing truly delighted me. At times I was giddy with enthusiasm and joy while playing a new game outside - like chasings or marbles. Recollecting now, as I write, I can remember the simple, intense happiness that I sometimes felt. Phew. It was beautiful, blissful. I had no idea at all really, what life was going to be like - no concept of anything other than the pure aliveness of a kid.
Firecrackers, slippery dips, buying a mixed bag of lollies - freckles, milkbottles, frogs - going to other kid's houses to play, new kids moving in next door or across the road maybe with a dog or two, ad-libbed games on the street with other kids until sunset....
And seahorses. Seahorses. I was glad to live in a world that included the seahorse.
Timeless, ethereal - we currently exist in 2013 but we also exist in many other times concurrently. In memory, in fantasy, in imagination, and etherealy -in past lives.
These 'modern' times seem to polarise - on one hand the reality is more demanding - an incredible amount of time and energy is needed just to make enough to stay ahead of the constant economic demands of daily living costs - food, shelter, transport, etc. On the other hand, escape is much more readily available and sophisticated. The net, of course, plus games, TV, and all the other media.
What this does is constrict us as sentient beings. We don't have the time to follow our natural inclination to daydream. Of course - we still do it - but in a curtailed manner. The constant demands of reality and/or the calling of slick entertainment - 'prepackaged, corporate daydreaming' - are not allowing us to explore our psyches, our delicate subconscious levels as fully as we should/could.
This results in a stunted growth in awareness/spirituality.
Of course, it's not too bad - we are industrious beings. Despite these structural constraints we still manage to eke out enough fulfilling moments - through exercise time, interpersonal interactions, pre-sleep time, etc. But, I believe, we would be better served to have more time for consideration, contemplation and random extrapolation.
You need to do a whole lot of daydreaming to come up with the really good ideas. To hit on important truths and essential, refined belief systems you've got to put in the time - and it can't be in front of a TV or the computer.
Quiet time, mediation, doing something in the arts - these serenity pursuits are valuable and rewarding and should be acknowledged as the precious privilege that they are.
Be the hero of your own consciousness, mount that wild horse and gallop into the unknown regions of your mind and spirit!
The blind man is rubbing his hands. He likes the feel of his skin on skin. Today there is a slight moisture, stickiness to his palms. He has just been inside the post office. He is waiting to receive a package from his friend in Africa.
The angry man is hungry. He has eaten a sandwich for lunch and two eggs for breakfast but still he is hungry. He forgot to wear his shirt when he left the flat today. He was going to go to the pub but he didn't have any money. He spent it on tattoos and a car seat cover. He doesn't have a car.
The blind man likes to cook. He also imagines he would like water skiing, although he has never been. He is not completely blind. He can see about 10%. He is grateful for this. He loves cardigans, and his collection of many flavoured chapstix. He has a girlfriend who is kind and patient and works in a toy shop. He has a job, too, as voice-over artist. His voice is mellifluous.
Angry man doesn't like bashing people. But he is compelled to. He had a sad, almost tragic childhood. He dreams of being famous and loved. He likes to sing but doesn't do it that well. He likes Robbie William but would never admit it. He has a few kids whom he is estranged from. His one good childhood memory is of feeding a kangaroo some Twisties.
Choose your own pace. Life isn't a race.
You can rush around. Here and there. Doing this doing that.
Or you can take it easy, be real cruisy, meander, just be.
Both these choices are acceptable, or something inbetween.
Funny. I was creating an event for my new show opening next week on facebook - when somehow I stumbled onto this one in the Events pages. I was shocked and astounded. I had completely forgotten I even had this show. But I did, I really did. It was when I first came back to Sydney after living in LA and started painting again. Have had a show a year since then. Good old Kafka!
We all need a little acknowledgement, encouragement, praise once in a while.
We're just complex organisms thrust into existence longing for salvation, validation, satisfaction, release.
Nobody really knows what the fuck they are doing or why. Not really. How could they? It's a cacaphonic clusterfuq out there.
And yet somehow it all manages to work, to come together - most of the time. Impressive, really. Astounding.
From birth to baby to kid to teen to young adult to grown up to middle aged to mature to old to dead....
No wonder we start out screaming!
In some ways, we never stop.
...or, in this case, meringue.
Why not? We are all going to die. Before the end, make sure you do some of the things that you really want to. Like my friend, Nick, did on his 50th - trekking up to Everest base camp with his best friends. Or even just trying a 'cronut' - donut/croissant hybrid. And all the rest in between...!
Point is - time feels limitless but it is finite. Attempt to transcend your habitual concerns. I've just started reading a book called 'Wild' by Cheryl Strayed - a true story. She decides to go on a solo hike up the east coast of the US - 1,600km. That's an option. (Take plenty of cronuts.)
What countries have you always wanted to see/visit but haven't got round to yet? Make a list. Then eat it. Followed by a cronut.
Just finished this one. A lot of fun creating them.
View the full size version by clicking on it and going to the mind's I comics page on this site.
There's freedom in wackiness. Art, theatre, writing, dance, music - all forms of release. We get to portray the selves within oursleves, the selves from beyond our selves - we reveal and release the spirits that possess magic and mayhem into reality so that they can have identities and become intergrated into our realities and be discovered, enjoyed and acquired by everyone.
Superheroes, legends of stage and screen, cartoon characters - all conjured up at one stage from an artist's crazy inspiration. And dance - what is it if not a glorious exorcism? Music bubbles in and from our subconscious. Literature offers complete new worlds to inhabit.
Just think about how much of our lives are involved with these fantastic other worlds. We love to escape. We love to play and make believe. It unites us, liberates us. It is the delicious, tasty, nourishing sauce that covers the main meal of life.
What is important, and to be encouraged, is our individual creations. Self discovery is boosted through expression in these forms. Don't just be an art consumer - make your own. Write your own truth. Dance and sing to the unique tunes that play inside your head. Let it out, let it all out. The more zany, joyous, cacaphonic self expression there is on the planet the better.
Make art not war.
Forget greed, do the jig.
Write your truth.
Let your fantasy flourish.
When the unreal becomes real it's really unreal!
I would like to share something here to do with my post creating methodology.
What I usually do is select one of the three or four images that I have created on the day and put it in place. I look at it for a few minutes, then begin writing.
I don't labour over it or attempt to control things too much. I just let things flow. Much in the same way I create the images.
Making stuff up. For the fun of it.
I did this image at Starbucks on the corner of Park and Elizabeth. I very rarely go to a Bucks but I was getting my jaw scanned in the building opposite on the 6th floor to see if I am eligible for a dental implant. As I was a little early - even though it did take 25 mins of driving round and round to find a parking spot! - I went in to the cafe chain. Venti vanilla latte. Fuck it, I'm here, why not.
The scan took less than a minute. Sorting out the bill took about 20 minutes. Ironic. The institution charges a service fee of $200 on top of the costs. I thought about this transaction. In the 21 minutes I was there, four or five scans occured. That's big dough.
No creativity involved. No sharing of soul. No digging deep. No self expression. No searching for meaning. Just a technician, a machine, a receptionist, some files... and 20 grand a day coming in. Life would be so different if I was not an artist and I owned medical/dental imaging centre.
I don't think I'd be writing a blog, for starters. So you wouldn't be reading this. Would you miss it? -- knowing that I was having sex on my boat? Anyway - not going to happen - not in this lifetime. We're stuck with each other. And, more to the point, ourselves.
Do you like the picture of the guy climbing the eye thing in the red desert?????
OMG. More in a week than I have made in my lifetime from my art!
Alien guy is watching what we are doing here on earth and he's pretty peeved.
"It's such a beautiful planet - full of regal splendour - and you humans are focused on greed and self advancement over communion and enjoyment of nature! What's up with you?"
"Get your act together and stop being so myopic and misogynist! Share the love around, be real, don't be conned by corrupt and evil corporate and political entities. Find your way through truth, selflessness, honour and commitment."
"I may look grouchy but I'm actually not. I'm just a little pissed at what I see going on. We have powers unimaginable to you earthlings and I was going to pay a visit soon - but I tell you, I'm a little put off by the display. Please find a way to make things better. Love and respect each other for starters! Please. Thank you."
Saw this dude hanging out the top of Oxford Street the other arvo.
'Can I take your picture?', I asked.
'Why, certainly!,' he responded in a chipper voice.
He was taller than your average koala and not up a tree which was interesting. Also he was wearing a suit. But what I found most interesting is - no tie. And yet his white shirt was buttoned to the top. Had he taken it off and put it in his pocket or did he have no intention at all of wearing one that evening?
I couldn't really ask him because I only know two sentences in koala. The one I used - and 'Have you fallen?'
Back to reality:
When I was nine we lived on the (then) outskirts of Sydney in the suburb of Wahroonga. Our place was on the edge of a gigantic national parkland. For a while we had a koala in one of the gum trees in our back yard. He didn't do much and was self sufficient with his leaves, eating, sleeping and tripping out - as they are want to do. Content is the word I would use to describe him. And maybe cute.
I didn't actually ever use the word cute until we moved to Tokyo a year later. In Tokyo the word cute- 'kawaii' - is used often, very often. Even I was called it. The cute ten year old white boy with his two kawaii brothers. Kawaiiiiii! Cute as a couple of koalas!
ART GETS ME HIGH
Author & Artist