Blogs tagged with "drawing"

For most of my life, I've intermittently asked myself the question: how can I make it as an artist? The answer always comes back quickly: I can't.

But before you string me up by my toes for being "negative," hear me out. I do NOT believe it's impossible to "make it" as an artist. As the eternal idealist, I feel quite quite the opposite - I believe that if I work hard enough, I actually COULD make it as an artist - and by "make it," I mean, generate enough income to be self-sufficient.

Unfortunately, defining success this way and making it a goal is self-defeating in a field as subjective as visual art (except in rare cases like that of Andy Warhol). For many artists, including me, expression comes from within and rarely serves the masses (again, with the exception of rare cases such as Michelangelo or Jacques-Louis David who produced incredible inspired commissioned work). And feel free to debate "what IS art?" for the rest of your years, but when it comes to creating art, let me simply quote Albert Pinkham Ryder: "The artist needs but a roof, a crust of bread, and his easel, and all the rest God gives him in abundance. He must live to paint and not paint to live."

Mind you, few artists have the ability to live according to Pinkham Ryder's ideal. My personal artistic inspiration is a very powerful feeling. It can make me deliriously happy. But sometimes I think it will drive me insane. If I deny it, I will start to feel sick. I won't be able to sleep. Or eat. Or focus on anything else. But then, it comes and goes. And when it goes, it leaves me with gobs of unfinished work, curled up in a heap on the floor, depressed, hating myself, crying, and confused. It's quite a vicious thing. Especially because I'm not even trying to make a living with my art.

Recently, I've been riding a new wave of inspiration - both to draw and to explore various printmaking techniques - notably, intaglio with plastic (acrylic) plates. I'll write about that in a subsequent blog. But what I really wanted to write about is my latest drawing and the story from which it came - involving a long-ago search for elusive inspiration.

It was back when I was in college - studying engineering. I was a die-hard sci-fi buff, and I saw a contest in a magazine to create an image for something called "the supreme intelligence" from the upcoming remake of "Invaders from Mars." Until that day (and well after, I might add), all of my art fit into the category of realism. But part of me longed to draw something mind-bogglingly creative. Something that had very little resemblance to earth or human or animal. You know, something like H. R. Giger's Alien... yes, that's it, I wanted to design something totally unique, yet horrific, and I was haunted by this one thought for many days.

Drawing a mental blank, I had almost completely given up hope while mulling it over before bed one night. That night, I had my scariest nightmare to this day. I was in a cave, and something terrifying crawled out of a hole in the ground in front of me. Something completely unreal and unearthly. And within a matter of seconds, this unfathomable horror was out of the ground and racing toward me at breakneck speed. It had no legs and I couldn't figure out how it moved forward, it just did. Unable to get away, I woke myself up instead - with a scream on my lips. I didn't sleep the rest of the night. And I chose never to draw it. I was too frightened.

Until this year.

My first attempt has already been posted (without explanation) in one of my drawing-a-day blogs, but here it is again. It was way too cartoony and almost comical - nothing like the horror in my dream. My physical therapist would describe it "like something from Dr. Seuss." (He says most of my drawings look like scary Dr. Seuss.)

This weekend, I tried to draw it for the second time. This one is a much more accurate depiction of it. I'm still baffled as to how it moved in the dream.. maybe I'll figure that out in another drawing:

For most of my life, I've intermittently asked myself the question: how can I make it as an artist? The answer always comes back quickly: I can't.

Finishing (and winning) the
Sylvania Tri in 2010 may be the last
time I wasn't in pain running

It's been seven weeks since my PRP injection. During this time, the thing I've longed for most is the feeling I get when I'm out on the pavement with only my heartbeat, my running shoes, and my thoughts. I solve problems when I'm running. It's the only time I can let go of the damaging self-critic. It's the only time I can be myself without being terrified of what everyone else thinks. I need to run.

Unlike before, this time off from running has been one of inner reflection and fighting demons. Because I wasn't sure I would be able to run again. That fear was always there. What will I do if I can't run? I turned to introspective stream-of-consciousness drawing - the only other thing that gives me similar peace. But the fear continued. What will I do if I can't run? My physical therapist quoted the medical report ".. you have SEVERE tendinosis .. seriously NOT good" (as though I didn't fully grasp the severity of the injury). He said my hamstring tendon was "breaking down" - made it sound like it was actually disolving. The fear grew. Seriously. What. will. I. do. if. I. can't. run?

The fear made me ok with taking seven weeks off without a single step in a running gait. Sure, I was an emotional wreck (further compounded by a car accident). I became religious about my physical therapy. Heck, I became religious. I prayed. But I never stopped worrying. I frantically searched the internet for hamstring PRP success stories. Six weeks went by with not much improvement. And I had pretty much given up hope.

Then, in what seemed like an overnight miracle, this week the familiar always-there pain faded. And today I got the go-ahead. To run. It's been a rough year so I'm not celebrating just yet. But I will run. And it will not be far. It will not be fast. But there is running in my future. And unfinished business - with a finish line.

All I can do to explain is offer this (and stifle the tears):

I was fortunate to have an amazing English teacher in high school who told the class that we will someday use the Shakespeare quotes that we were force to memorize. Especially the ones from Hamlet. And wouldn't you know? He was right.

Which brings me to the quote: "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but it battalions." This year, I'm truly living the Disaster Magnet credo, and I've pretty much thrown in the towel. I feel alone. And sad. And worthless. And scared that I'm in a hole I'll never get out of.
I've been struggling since last October to get healthy. I've been doing everything "they" tell you to. I took a lot of time off from training. I'm working with a physical therapist to fix the weak points. But things just keep crumbling. And to make it worse, they're not only related to athletics.
I was determined to fight my negativism, look for the silver lining, not wallow in despair, and laugh at all of it. I had been very successful at this for several months. Even my husband Jim said he was impressed by my attitude this year. But today,... well, today I finally broke down. I'm tired and sad and I'm sick of being injured despite how hard I've been working to get un-injured. I'm sick of having things start to go well only to be struck down by something else. I'm sick of having dental work go horribly wrong. I'm tired of drowning myself in work to avoid having to think about anything else. I'm tired of hoping. And I'm tired of keeping it all inside.
(The latest is that one of my gum grafts didn't take and will most likely require more surgery - believe me, one of the worst things you can experience is having a doctor say "uh-oh" when inspecting a post-surgical site. I also won't be running the Boston Marathon this year because I have a stress fracture in my tibia. This is my fifth stress fracture, but my first in 13 years. This one came without warning. I never even got a chance to back off to avoid it. And it came just when my running was just starting to feel strong and fast again because of the PT.)
I had even lost the will to draw (thus also feeling like a failure because of the promise I made to myself). But I picked up a pen again and made two new drawings (they made me cry even more, but I did them). I know they're pretty bad, but I'm trying to get back on track.
The first one I call "Stress Fracture No. 6":
The second one I call "Foothills" - although it started out being a drawing of the hole I was stuck in.

I was fortunate to have an amazing English teacher in high school who told the class that we will someday use the Shakespeare quotes that we were force to memorize. Especially the ones from Hamlet. And wouldn't you know? He was right.

Nothing much is going on in my world that's worthy of writing home about, but here's an update (like anyone cares).

My daily drawing has been a fail because I stopped doing it while I was feverishly preparing a talk on my latest project (the Cleveland Museum of Art's website) for the Cleveland Drupal Users group. The talk went well, despite my struggles with stage fright.

My training has been another fail because my physical therapist still can't fix what's wrong with my left hip and the torn labrum in my shoulder is back to its pain-state after the cortisone shot wore off. But this past week, we got a little closer to fixing my hip - a new stretch seems to have freed up the tendency to pull my foot inward on the left side. I have some new stretches and a less pessimistic outlook on the future. I've given up hope of running all 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon and begun to look at this trip as just a way to satisfy my craving for New England clams.

I will be having periodontal surgery tomorrow - three teeth will have gum grafts and then I am told I must give up two weeks of training to recover. This will probably kill me (another reason for writing this blog just in case it's my last). I will attempt to focus on my art in (strangely still-optimistic) hope that I may get good at something before I die.

The only thing I did conquer recently was making pie crust.

And I learned something that I always knew about myself - that I was a fish in a former life. There's no other way to explain how I feel when I'm in the water and not focusing on swim training. Sometimes it feels like it's the only time I'm truly at peace with the world and myself. It also might explain why I've almost gone crazy living in places that are land-locked.

Anyway, that's pretty much all I got, and some pictures of the goings-on in my life...

Latest drawings (the first two are hip pain, the "lightbulb" one was during the Super Bowl when the lights went out in the Super Dome):
There were two new Play-Doh disasters (autobiographical): 
And we took a trip to Pittsburgh to eat, shop, and visit my favorite Edward Hopper painting: 
We saw a special exhibition of art from the World's Fairs at the Carnegie Museum of Art:
Then we went to the galleries - and once again checked out Hopper's Cape Cod Afternoon:
We got lost in Pittsburgh for the 50 billionth time (note that at one point, the GPS thought we were smack in the middle of the Monongahela River)
I went running on a very snowy morning along the north shore riverfront trail (one of my favorite Pittsburgh running spots)

Nothing much is going on in my world that's worthy of writing home about, but here's an update (like anyone cares).

I just started seeing a physical therapist to fix whatever is wrong with my left hip. On the referral, my orthopedic doctor wrote "capsulitis"-- according to my PT, this is a very general term identifying inflammation of the "capsule" surrounding the hip joint. I think it sounds like I'm taking too many drugs (capsules?). Either way, I haven't been to PT in almost 20 years. It's been so long that I almost didn't recognize my physical therapist (but it was really great to see him again). I told him I hadn't had a problem since last time he fixed me, but I finally broke everything he did and that's why I was back in his office after all these years. He promised to fix me up again (too bad what's wrong isn't all physical).

The first thing he did was identify a major weakness on my RIGHT side. I was blindingly aware of it -- embarrassingly, every time I tried to balance on my right foot, I must have looked drunk. Who knew? He also did a manipulation to rebalance my pelvis which was rotated on the left side. He told me to go running and note how I felt.

So I went home and ran. And something must have changed because the excruciating pain came flooding back into my left hip. But, as usual, as I ran, it didn't get any worse and it didn't get any better. The rest of my evening was spent sitting on an ice pack and listening to the pain shoot all the way down to my ankle. But, progress has been made. And I can continue with the "pain" drawings.

Here are my latest two -- calling them the "physical therapy drawings." The first one was the day before my visit, the second one was during yesterday's ice-pack recovery.

I just started seeing a physical therapist to fix whatever is wrong with my left hip. On the referral, my orthopedic doctor wrote "capsulitis"-- according to my PT, this is a very general term identifying inflammation of the "capsule" surrounding the hip joint.

I keep wanting to feel more motivated, and I keep doing things to try to motivate myself, but lately I feel like I'm in the biggest rut of my life to date. I'm no longer an athlete, my work is starting to bore me, and now my commitment to drawing is wavering. The light at the end of the tunnel is dimming. We've been stuck for a week in snow and extremely cold temperatures so I'm wondering if that's affecting me. I'm mentally and emotionally shutting down and I feel more introverted every day. I disappointed myself even more by doing only two drawings in four days. The first was a reaction to my husband telling me how the RA is now affecting his feet. The second was right after I watched a program on the History 2 channel about a volcanic event 250 million years ago that wiped out 95% of species on earth (they kept referring to it as the "greatest mass-extinction event of all time"). I don't even know why I'm even posting this stuff anymore.

I keep wanting to feel more motivated, and I keep doing things to try to motivate myself, but lately I feel like I'm in the biggest rut of my life to date. I'm no longer an athlete, my work is starting to bore me, and now my commitment to drawing is wavering.

Yesterday, my husband Jim said his knee was hurting more than usual (from arthritis), so I told him I would draw something to fix it. This is what I came up with (I'm not sure he liked it - but I'm not sure whether it's because he didn't think it would do the job or if he was just generally mortified as usual):

Yesterday, my husband Jim said his knee was hurting more than usual (from arthritis), so I told him I would draw something to fix it.

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