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May 1, 2023

May check-in

 Getting back into stair climbing

Re-entering my stair obsession phase. For over a decade I have maintained a habit of walking on the treadmill five days a week, but I never exerted myself and it made little to no difference. Recently, I've been so stressed that I haven't been able to keep up with even that!

My sister: “Are you exercising now?”

Me: “No, I'm just going on the treadmill.”

I want to stay happy and healthy. Getting actual exercise has been very therapeutic especially when I feel stressed out about other things I have to do. Maintaining this habit is a noteworthy victory because of this slump I've been in. We all know that getting started is not easy. But once you get going, and you find ways to start loving it, that significantly lessens the friction. My goal is to apply this mindset to as much of my life as possible. 

Remember the Greek story of Sisyphus, doomed to push a rock for all eternity? You might as well find ways to make it more tolerable, fun even. I have my music, my podcasts, and my wandering imagination. Making sure I'm not bored during my workout has been a game changer. 

Vivian Maier

I recently learned about the work of photographer Vivian Maier through the Great Women Artists podcast. I went in with very little knowledge or expectation, and was left with great feelings of awe and respect for Vivian just from listening to her story alone. Then, I looked at her photos and was immediately blown away. She was a nanny who did photography as a hobby, but never showed her work to anyone. Her work was discovered posthumously; most of it was never even developed. 

From there, I rented the documentary Finding Vivian Maier which tells the story of how this remarkable discovery unfolded. I am endlessly fascinated by this woman and the way she lived. She was a true outsider artist and took that to the next level. She did amazing work even if no one - not even herself - ever got to see it. She did photography because she loved it. For her, photography was all about the physical act of taking pictures, and not looking at the end result. 

She was an eccentric woman who struggled with loneliness. She never married or had children of her own. Photography was her own little world, a haven of safety and vulnerability. She was incredibly secretive. It makes me wonder how she would feel if she had known her work would receive this much recognition.  There is an interesting moral dilemma to viewing her photography, knowing that she intentionally hid all of this from the world. It makes her all the more intriguing. Her story resonated with me deeply and I will be thinking about her for a long time to come. 

The most powerful thing about Vivian Maier's story is the humble reminder of why I am an artist in the first place. Even if nobody saw my artwork ever again, would I still pursue this path? What if even - I - didn't get to see my own finished artworks? Just some food for thought. What motivates you to keep creating?

Mario movie

I saw the Super Mario Brothers movie, and it was okay. The story was generic and there was very little room to breathe due to the non-stop action sequences, but lots of eye candy and references galore. The story felt rushed and over-simplified, but you can tell the people who worked on this film love Nintendo and Super Mario Bros in general. There was so much going on it would take multiple viewings to catch everything. Say.... they should make a video game out of this!

Two art things I've been focusing on this month: Start simple as possible, reduce it to abstractions

This seems simple and obvious, but it was not something I considered. I am going through my old sketchbooks before I throw them out. One glaring mistake I noticed, even from relatively recent sketchbooks - is that everything is meticulously, overly rendered! I always wondered why my drawings look so skewed and wonky: it's because I wasn't giving enough love and attention to the basic framework. I wanted to skip straight ahead to the fun part of adding the details. I have a bad history of rushing through certain stages of the process because I want to get to the fun part. Every stage deserves the proper attention and love, and I'm still learning that even now. So far, applying this mindset has made a tremendous difference and I am very excited to work on my new pieces.

Don't overwork things

I learned this lesson from touching up old artworks. There is a difference between touching it up and overworking it to death. I have a better idea of where to draw the line. Literally!

My art goals for May

Start drawing my comic. I’m tired of waiting. Just. Draw. The. Goddamn. Thing.

Visit more of my art ideas

Do some traditional art - markers? Painting? Anything goes. If I could find an actual art studio space to use, that would help out a lot. Not a lot of room at home.

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