My overarching goal this quarter was to continue practicing the slow, gentle kind of self-management I discovered last fall, so that it could begin to feel more natural than it did back then. The winter turned out to be an especially good test, because despite my best efforts the season always makes me slow and sleepy and distracted.
I have to admit, with the combination of winter days, a dearth of commission work, and a new dog, I lost conscious focus of my overarching self-management goal as the quarter went on. But looking back on what I achieved, I can see that on some level I held true to the commitment.
It’s the end of the year and time for a fresh studio self-reflection, part of my ongoing effort to be more open with my creative development. In this entry: fall reflections improve self-management, gradually.
At the start of this quarter, I was drifting. I had recently overworked myself and become lost. In my recovery, I wondered how and why I was unintentionally subjecting myself to self-harm, despite no longer working for someone else. Even when fully in control of my days, I was drifting out of sync with my goals and turning to overwork as a(n unsuccessful) way out.
I searched and reflected, finding that the source was from some complex mix of past experiences, personal affinities, and cultural values (and probably more). So then, there were a number of different ways I might try to understand and approach the problem. What I found most useful was framing it as a personal management gap, a disconnect between how I intended things to go at the outset, and the way I carried out and kept sight of those intentions over time.
One of my overarching goals over the fall was to explore and try to lessen this gap. Given the complexity of its origins, I approached it from several directions, both in mindset and how I structured my weeks.
The home garden in 2021 has been, perhaps against expectations, significantly more successful this year than in 2020. At the time last year when garden prep should have started, my partner and I were not remotely thriving at home. What attention we did offer the plants came late and sporadically. It took many months of simply surviving before we could thoughtfully plan or sustain focus again, and much of this year has seen significant improvement over the last as a result.
But at some point this summer, the garden accumulated so much of its own momentum that it took off and …sort of left us behind.
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.
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.
It’s time for another studio self-reflection, as part of an ongoing effort to be more present to and open with my creative development, and encourage others to do the same. In this entry: The winter can be a long, tough stretch, but sometimes good things come of it.
By the end of last year, I began a commitment to live by a new self-narrative and new scripts. …So of course over the long night of winter I dredged through the past.
For example, I started the quarter feeling that my drawing – a steady natural outlet when I was a child – had become stagnant and under-reliable. With the fresh success of my writing routine in mind, I identified that, not only did I lack a consistent drawing practice lately, I never had one. In my memory of childhood, drawing just sort of …happened, without me trying; as an adult, it mostly came in fits and starts as needed for individual projects. Given my intention to be a visual storyteller, this drawing gap seemed worth addressing.
As a follow-up to my October check-in, and in an ongoing effort to be more open with my creative development, I’m sharing my recent studio self-reflection.
A note of clarification: I’ve been following a term structure, which is simply a semester-like schedule for planning, studio work, and reflection. The term in question ran September through December 2020.
So here I am, in 2021. Many things are still / yet again on fire, but I’m alive. The fall with its brimming energy ebbed quickly as winter emerged. Starting in November, side projects slowed, but scripting held strong – in fact, it got stronger. I close this term with a freshly completed first pass of a long graphic novel script. (And by “long” I mean over 500 pages, though this will most likely change once revisions begin.) It was my primary focus this term, and I’ve seen it through successfully.
This was possible thanks to the significant progress I made over the last few months toward defining my goals and focusing my practice – what they are, what they aren’t, and how my days and weeks should look in order to reflect that. My success was also aided by starting the strange, slow, soft process of “rewiring” my subconscious into better alignment with where I want my life to go.
In the spirit of being more open with my creative efforts (even / especially the messy process stuff), I offer my recent studio self check-in. This will be a lengthy read!
The pandemic has made everything harder, and it has made the good things feel less good. I spent most of March through August surviving and redirecting myself out of crushing depression as best I could. For the time, that needed to be enough.
Thankfully, by September I was ready to move beyond survival and back into the studio more consistently. Little did I know just how much foundational work I would accomplish. I end October in the midst of rewriting my self-narrative, personally and creatively.
When I was in graduate school for Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College, the close of each semester required a reflection on the program’s five degree criteria. We were to use the criteria as lenses through which to see and discuss our semester activity.
When considered with adequate understanding, the criteria helped foster creative work that was more thoughtful, engaging, and ethically aware. Of course, that didn’t make the process easy. Digging deep into your creative work can be a difficult task no matter what; anyone who’s tried to take seriously the task of writing an artist statement can attest.
But when I’m in “student mode,” I find I’m especially prone to looking so closely at new concepts that I go cross-eyed. This may be why near the end of my time with the Interdisciplinary Arts program I attempted to rework the criteria into the simplest language possible.
I’ve had these reworked criteria sitting around for some time, but I recently used them for a new round of reflection on my creative work. As before, it was a challenging but fruitful process. With this in mind, I thought I’d share what I made – along with a new sixth criterion for consideration.
One thing that helps inspire me in the studio is going back to my favorite media from childhood. I’m a big fan of the Legend of Zelda series and can’t remember how many times I read through the graphic novel adaptation of A Link to the Past by Shotaro Ishinomori when I was young. For years after its release by Nintendo Power, it was out of print. (It’s back as of 2015.) I still have my original copy, and I recently decided to choose some of my favorite pages to recreate digitally in Ishinomori’s original watercolor style.
Limited Art Print Series By Preorder Only • Due Dec. 6
Now that the series is complete, I’m making the 9 illustrations available for a limited time as archival art prints. Preorders are due December 6, with delivery scheduled just in time for the holidays. Order below or contact me for more details.
I’ll be kicking off my weekend with a comics and fantasy art opening reception in Lewiston. Come say hello!
Fri, Sep 27, 5-8PM Kimball Street Studios 191 Lisbon Street, Lewiston, ME More info
Infinite Canvas is a comics and fantasy illustration exhibit featuring primarily Maine artists. I organized and participated in the first one in 2017 and am back at it again this year! I had fun making the new logo, too.