Bad Art is Better Than No Art

I had a realization last night.

Well, this week, but it all came together last night.

I spend a lot of time reading and watching content online. YouTube channels, blogs, webcomics, social media… I have started and kept up a few of my own blogs over the years, but lacking any central theme or principal, they’ve tended to die off once more urgent things happen in my life. As someone who thought of herself as an artist for a long time, the realization now, in my mid-twenties, that I spend more time consuming than creating, has been a painful one.

Especially because I KNOW I COULD if I just put my mind to it. And I could even market it now, since I’ve spent some time in communications since graduating from college.

Yet, “just putting my mind to it,” has been, at essence, the very core of my defeat in the face of the sheer terror that accompanies creation. And it’s weird to me to face that terror, because if you put me in a classroom and gave me three props, a scene partner, and ten minutes, I would come up with something without hesitation. I wouldn’t vouch for it being any good, but it probably would be silly, and it would exist.

So I know it isn’t impossible. I want to create, and I know I can. So why don’t I? Continue reading “Bad Art is Better Than No Art”

I Dwell in Possibility

Sometimes, you click around on the internet and you don’t get the dishes done, and you go to bed feeling like you wasted your evening, and sometimes you are trying to eat your fried eggs and chicken sausage for dinner and you idly click on a youtube video and you end up clutching a box of tissues and learning something about yourself. Tonight was the latter.

I have been following the Brain Scoop, a youtube channel featuring Emily Graslie, who I think is about my age, exploring, explaining, and expounding at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, for a number of months now. I’m not big on watching animal dissection, personally, so I’ve avoided those videos, but I really enjoy her attitude, her curiosity, her intelligent questions, and her adventures in gems, exhibition design, fossils, and the Amazon rainforest.

I was vaguely aware that the Brain Scoop started at the University of Montana’s natural history collection, and that Hank Green of the vlogbrothers‘ empire helped launch the show. After all, that’s how I found the Brain Scoop in the first place. But I had not watched any of the early episodes, until I stumbled on this one.

I did not expect to learn that Emily had majored in Studio Art. I did not expect the announcement of her move from Montana to the Field Museum to be so bittersweet, even though I was not there, I wasn’t watching the original episodes. I did not expect my vision to blur with tears.

What was it about this fourteen minute video that so compelled me, and why was I crying? Based on the youtube comments, I’m not the only one who cried when watching this video. It’s very well made — Michael Aronda’s questions, Emily’s really sincere and articulate answers, and the editing and the pacing of the video are well crafted.

But I think I was crying for another reason.

Continue reading “I Dwell in Possibility”

What story am I telling? – A Narrative Account of My Evening

Today I made a decision: rather than scramble back into the car and drive an hour to my weekly dance lesson, I would stay home and take care of my domestic life after a long weekend away and many many hours in the car.

The stress that removed from my day was tremendous. I really hate rushing.

But then I found myself slumping as I arrived home, sliding into the familiar tepid armpit of my life known as “Meh.” Where this morning the idea of having a chance to clean out my fridge and cook my own dinner and then actually do my laundry (last chance ’til Friday) was a relief, something I looked forward to cosily enjoying, by 6 p.m. it all seemed… well… meh. I wasn’t particularly hungry, though I had an armload of groceries. I didn’t really want to empty my compost, or make banana bread, or put away my yogurt. I mean, then what?

In an effort to ward off the “meh” I texted a few of my friends to see if we could be social in town somewhere. The three I happened to contact had other plans already. I decided to take this as a message from the universe saying, “Stick with your original intentions, your dirty laundry and lack of homemade food is stressing you out. Do something about it.” That didn’t make the “meh” go away.

I put away the dishes anyway. I put away the yogurt anyway. I ate the spring rolls I’d half-heartedly grabbed so that I’d at least eat something…anyway. Because, you know, I guess I’m an adult. Kind of.

Meh. Meh. Meh. Meh!

At first it was a relief to be swallowed up by the internet, dive into computer land, catch up with my newsfeed. I was engaged, I was interested. I watched like five episodes of Sexplanations, a youtube educational channel which I love for many reasons, the least of which is that it is fascinating and the most of which is that I believe it’s an incredible online source of information that everyone (EVERYONE) should have access to, and it’s really well done, which gave me a million ideas, and I was feeling inspired and excited… and then I kept clicking and I kept watching and I started feeling shitty and I said to myself: all I am doing is consuming consuming consuming.

That is why I feel like crap. I have three overdue letters to write, thank you cards to send, a sink full of old food that needs to go to the compost pile, a mountain of laundry, a head full of inspiration and ambition and all I am doing is vegetating on the internet consuming what others are creating and I feel disempowered and pointless and disconnected and, well, meh!

I could take a shower. I could read a book. I could take out the compost… Or I could make something. I have to make something. 
Continue reading “What story am I telling? – A Narrative Account of My Evening”

Top 6 Things to Internet Re: Violent Masculinity and the UCSB Shooting #YesAllWomen

Ever since I heard about the shooting at UC Santa Barbara late on Saturday night I have been engrossed in the social media discourse which has arisen from it. I originally planned to write my own blog post, but by this afternoon I had already encountered four people who had said much of what I wanted to say, and likely better than I would if I hastily mashed something together for this space. So rather than reiterate what has already been said beautifully by others, I have curated them here in a list for you, with my own commentary. 

The conversation that is emerging from this tragedy is not new, but it is more widespread than I’ve ever seen it. But for me, something is missing… and has been missing for a while. I hope the next five bits will help you see what I mean.

The first three things I will show you constitute PART ONE of THREE of this blog post. They consist of concise, well-argued presentations on the subject of violent masculinity and misogyny and the role they play in our culture. If this were a curriculum, Jessica’s piece would the be 101**, and Laci’s would be 201. Jessica outlines the essential argument, Laci takes it a step further and fleshes it out.

**100 is reserved for people who still need to learn what “feminism” means. Hint: feminism is not synonymous with misandry. Continue reading “Top 6 Things to Internet Re: Violent Masculinity and the UCSB Shooting #YesAllWomen”

A Pyschological Landscape

I have been watching The Art Assignment on Youtube lately. I am continually inspired to go out and do the assignments, but this is the first I’ve actually completed.* Here was Robyn O’Neil’s assignment:

I began by drawing a background, as Robyn suggests. I didn’t have anything specific in mind and I ended up with a sort of river-y thing. I then took some trace paper to put my figures in and drew a rather uninspiring victorian lady in a red dress with a brown blanket. “I always draw this,” I said to myself. I let my mind wander. While my mind was wandering I absent-mindedly doodled a book. It looked kind of like a cat’s face. So the cat emerged and I instantly knew I wanted a different ground. The rest, well, I’m not certain why it happened like it did, or what the significance is of the red briefcase. But lightbulb people and book cat make sense to me somehow, and I’ll leave the rest up for interpretation.

It is a psychological landscape after all.

#theartassignment - Robyn O'Neil Psychological Landscape

*By completed I mean gotten to a place where I am ready to post it. I actually may draw this one over again with more planning. I don’t know where it came from but I really like it. Would you like to read a cat? Mightn’t it give you some ideas?