With the end of the season comes a new studio self-reflection. It’s part of my ongoing effort to be more open with my creative development and encourage others to do the same. In this entry: Spring has sprung.
If you’re curious, peruse previous self-reflections.
What a difference a season makes. While I spent the winter mostly futzing away (thoughtfully) with things from the past, the spring has been all about …well, springing forth, from the present and toward the future. My growth this quarter has been primarily in visual art-making, developing of my heart project STAR KIT, and understanding myself as a visible online human.
Grown-up childlike drawing
After years without a consistent, intentional daily drawing practice, I set and maintained one all quarter. Like any new routine, it was especially clumsy and ambling at first, but after a few weeks I settled into a groove.
But something more happened, too: an internal shift. I came across a webinar early in the quarter focused on becoming more familiar with one’s inner creator and inner critic. The session used a combination of visualization-based meditation and sound bath to uncover what it really felt like when the creator was in the lead versus the critic. The webinar also offered a chance to practice sending the critic away.
I didn’t expect a lot from this exercise at the outset, but wow was it effective. I now recognize my inner creator: he’s nimble, fluid, free, able to take in the full landscape and vast horizon before him. My inner critic feels like the total opposite: fussy, constrictive, narrow-minded, hardly able to perceive beyond a few feet in front of him. During the visualization exercise the horizon actually disappeared from view when he arrived.
I think I’ve spent a lot of my drawing time since adolescence trapped inside the critic’s suffocating realm. Fortunately, as I found during the webinar, once you’ve identified the two opposing energies, it’s surprisingly easy (and oh so satisfying) to tell the critic to leave. There’s no permanent ridding of him, but the more I tell him off, the longer and more thoroughly he seems to leave me alone.
All this, combined with the new routine, has made my drawing practice a living, breathing part of my weekly studio life. Not all days feel amazing, naturally, but some missing part of me has been restored.
Over the winter I finished a very long script for a very long story that I intended to make into a comic, STAR KIT. But when it came time to adapt the script into comics pages, I quickly found that what I had written was too words-based to feasibly translate into a visual medium. …Whoops.
So, I reconsidered the story as a whole. Using new insights gleaned from scripting, I revised the outline, to better define the main characters and key sequence of events. A new vividness emerged.
And then, instead of making another attempt at scripting, I began thumbnailing instead (that is, making quick little images of what each page might look like). I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this sooner, as it’s much closer to my process for making mini comics than what I’ve done so far with this project.
The trade-off for a long piece like this is that I won’t have the complete story parsed out panel-by-panel for a long time. But I’m fine with that if it means I can begin making an actual comic in the meantime.
And the time for making final pages is nearly here. Thumbnail revisions for the first chapter are coming to a close. I anticipate I’ll be starting final art in July. For a project that first came into my mind about two years ago, it’s almost surreal to consider that I’ll finally have finished pages soon.
This progress was only possible by making STAR KIT increasingly central to my creative work over the weeks and months. It has become the project I’m working on, and I’m all for it.
Hello, don’t look at me, haha just kidding…
I’ve had a problematic way of viewing my online life for a very long time. At some point I came to understand that all interactive corners of the internet were purely passive entertainment or education machines, sorta like television, except I could scroll past the ads and tap a heart for things I particularly liked. Engaging with online content or its creators beyond liking became an almost unreal possibility to me. I know, it’s weird.
Where did this come from? It’s no doubt a product of modern consumerist culture, which encourages me to keep quiet except for buying things and using them up. But I believe it’s also a result of my paralyzing perfectionism and a powerful impulse to protect myself from potential shame – particularly online, where it’s so easy to miscommunicate.
Naturally, these long-held beliefs about being online impacted my studio life. As a creator, I assumed that my only option for online presence was to be elusive but brilliant – never directly interacting with my audience, just dropping masterpieces like they were nothing, and thus gradually earning millions of accolades, followers, and dollars. As long I as could be endlessly prolific and my work consistently incredible, the whole thing would take care of itself.
So …yeah. That didn’t work out.
It’s been a weird long road getting away from these problematic beliefs. At the start of the spring, I had largely articulated them to myself but still didn’t know how to have a viable life online as a creator – despite encountering all sorts of creative folk over the years who have made it work for themselves in a variety of ways. One of my main efforts this quarter was to figure out how to do this for myself.
Through a combination of personal reflection, online workshops and webinars, and conversational planning with my partner, I’ve sketched out a structure that I think will get me started in a viable way. If I act on it and follow through – easier said than done – it should allow me to work toward a more authentic and visible online complement to my real-life creative self.
Now that spring has sprung
Looking ahead to the summer, with its vibrating heat and strange sleepless energy, I think my overarching goal will be to follow through on what’s developed this spring, to nurture what’s sprouted – and, try to stay as balanced as possible while doing it.
After a uniquely challenging year-plus, and with no clear end to the bad things yet in sight, you can trust at the very least that your own garden will still be worth tending.