This was the last portrait sketch I did before beginning on some intensive head drawing study. More about that coming up on my next posts, but wanted to get this one from over a month ago posted first. You can see the reference photo by clicking on my sketch on Sktchy here.
By the date on this sketch at Saul’s Deli you can see how behind I am in posting. I have just a bit more organizing to do in the studio. Once that’s done I will share pictures of the studio and then can not only catch up on posting but also on sketching and painting.
We had a great Tuesday sketch night at the Actual Cafe in Oakland. It’s an interesting place with a huge mural on the wall, a lending library, bicycles hanging from the ceiling, and regularly scheduled art events. They host bingo games to benefit non-profits and, being a bike-friendly establishment, use an old bike rigged up to spin a bingo cage and send bingo balls down the chute.
And now off to the studio.
I have a very tenuous grasp on time. I always think I can do more in the allotted time than is possible and then I end up rushing to avoid being late (usually unsuccessfully). This “time grandiosity” I suffer from also means I start the day, a weekend, or in the case of the drawing above, my birthday vacation, with a sense of infinite time. And then suddenly the time is gone and I’m shocked and dismayed.
I always thought of time as passing on its own until I read this article at the beginning of my birthday vacation, How to Actively Take Control of Your Time, which compares time to a tube of toothpaste.
Unlike a stream running or sand falling in an hourglass, toothpaste does not simply come out of a tube on its own – we force it out and use it up…Time does not fly by – rather, we push minutes, hours and days out of our finite toothpaste tube of life. ~ Sid Savara
So at the beginning of my vacation (back in June) I drew the tube of paint (seemed more appropriate than toothpaste) and marked off what I did each day. I paid attention to the choices I was making about how I squeezed out that day’s “paint.”
What about you? Do you choose how you squeeze out the hours of your life or do you feel like time is squirting by on its own?
For those embarrassing moments: an UNDO spell that’s just as easy as clicking the back ← button. This spell is similar to the “Rewind” spell, only quicker.
Next time you need a “Do over” or an “Undo” just cast this handy spell. The directions are written in gold ink at the bottom of the Journal of Spells & Unspells right-hand page. I discovered this written language after meeting an amazing, eccentric, local artist named Bebe who traveled the world making life masks of people she met and whose home and car are covered in her imagined blue writing, pictured below (click images to enlarge).
I first met Bebe when I was about to walk past her but instead stopped to tell her how beautiful I thought she was, struck by her white braids, colorful clothes and Cleopatra eyes. Months later Barbara and I were walking in Kensington and we stumbled upon her house. She saw us looking, came out to say hello and invited us in, regaling with us with stories of her travels and fascinating life. Nearing 90 she said she walks three hours every day, does her art and meditates daily.
I heard an interview with musician Bobby McFerrin on NPR yesterday and he said something about work, play and creativity that really struck me. He was talking about having always just wanted to be a working musician (rather than a famous celebrity). Then he stopped to correct himself about the word “work” vs. the importance of “play”:
“When we’re doing our lessons, the teacher doesn’t say, ‘Ready, set, work.’ They say, ‘Ready, set, play,’ and I always took that word seriously.”
When I heard his spontaneous and inspired music, I understood exactly. Without the spirit of play, art becomes work, serious work. And serious isn’t fun. You rarely see the adjective serious describing something you want. It usually appears before words like illness, accident, mistake, and problem.
Of course there are serious artists who make serious work. I watched a series about artists on PBS called “Art:21.” The producers must have told all the artists to refer to their paintings, sculptures, prints as “work” (e.g. “I made this work last year…” or “This work is about…” or “When I am making work…”). It just sounded so pretentious, self-important and overly serious.
So now, when I find myself working hard (and enjoying it less) whether in the studio, the sketchbook or life in general, I will remember the spell for joyful art making and apply it once again.
If you want to try the spell too, all you have to do is open your mind, heart, spirit, eyes, arms and PLAY!
(For more information about International Fake Journal Month click here).