I embrace change, but at the same time change for me has sometimes taken the form of completely letting go those objects and people and relationships that I have cultivated and nurtured in the past. It’s not a good thing, I admit, and I’ve been working very diligently to address this flaw in me, which is why although my gut tells me to delete this Blogger account and to begin again, fresh, using Tumblr, which I confess is much more beautifully designed, I’ve chosen otherwise and will resume my Blogger posts. My ambivalence about my past allows me to keep a thread that trails backwards into nostalgia, and sometimes I wonder if I do this because I like romantic things. Nostalgia for me is romantic, not the kind of romance that exists between lovers, but the kind of feeling that you get when you revisit a place that you’ve forgotten, and then see meaning and stories within the most mundane objects or locations; the sensation is fleeting as it rocks your heart slightly, but I love it all the same. I think this is what Ben Shahn labeled as blood memories in his book, The Shape of Conent; those memories that are born out of one’s own experiences which bind to one’s core, to his/her blood, which grown into and become an intrinsic part of oneself. These are the memories that I associate with nostalgia, however large or small, they are like a series of coming-of-ages that occur throughout my life, many times over wherein which I gain little bits knowledge to help express more of who I am, as I move into the future.
I’ve been at the studio since about 8:30am, and awake since 7:00am. For these last few months, I’ve been waking up quite early; I love to begin my day this way – I’m not so much of a night person, and do my best work during the day, once it hits about 5pm, I can feel my body slow down. I’ve spoken to people who don’t really understand the level of exhaustion that I can feel when I’m working because all they see is that I am doing something that I truly love, which is drawing. However, the energy that goes into conceiving images and the process of splitting oneself into two parts, the artist/creator and the critic, oftentimes tires me out. This is not a sob story, just a description of the way that I feel sometimes while I am working – that it is indeed work.
I do little experiments on my own, for my sake, like I am doing now, as I write this in order to provide some variation within my day, so that I am not obsessively focused on that drawing in front of me. Part of my fear of doing so, of being so precious with all of my illustration work is that I will measure it alongside other work within the industry, those of my peers – my friends, the recognition it may or may not receive, and how much of it is linked to my ego and level of confidence in what I do. Fortunately the more that I lose myself in my work, the more that I become mesmerized by my process, those demons that take me to that creative wilderness and whisper shitty things into my ear become measly musings that float around inside my head while I work between the sessions of Wham and TLC and 80s and 90s hip hop and rnb that I listen on Pandora radio.
My early mornings have become the ritual of my day that I relish now because it is quiet and allows for me to sit on my own. For years I have fallen into (the mistake) of believing that because I work so hard, that I should party equally the same. But I realize now, that I cannot manage that way of living anymore. My weekend mornings used to start off with me sleeping-in, with work beginning in the late morning or early afternoon. But over the past several weeks I have been mindful to get about 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and as a result have woken up early (sans hangover) to gain about a 4 hour head start than what I used to have. And it’s wonderful to walk to my studio, through the projects, past the pretzel factory where the night workers have ended their shifts and are finally heading home in the morning, and up into the deli where the coffee is freshly brewed and the fruit newly stacked on the racks; and when it’s hot during the summer, to see the fire hydrants leak water, forming pools within the concrete gulleys, where the curb meets the street, turn into a spot where 15 to 20 pigeons bathe themselves in the heat.
So here are the events that transpired today after arriving at the studio:
- I ate breakfast, which consisted of a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, and a large coffee.
- I did an online critique of a student’s sketch who was absent in one of my classes, and
- I wrote (I am writing) this entry.
Once I post this entry, I plan to work on a commissioned illustration piece that is due on Monday, which I already began yesterday, and will hopefully be able to finish that tonight, after which I will begin another commissioned piece either tonight or tomorrow (it’s due on Monday, as well).
Welcome to the first post of my daily routines.
* The illustration at the top of the page was done for The Atlantic Monthly magazine.