I'm listening

Last time I wrote about what was visually appealing and inspiring to me, but auditory stimuli play an equally important role in my creative process. I rarely create music playing. What tickles my ear drums on any given art day varies depending on my task at hand, my surrounding environment, or my mood.  Some days I plan out a thematic play list. Some days I only want to hear the sounds of one singer/band. Some days I just hit shuffle and leave it to the fates. Some days I forgo music altogether and listen to comedy podcasts and the sound of my own laughter. 

I'm a rock chic at my musical heart. As a Gen X-er (and I'm totally dating myself here) rock in my world means grunge/alternative. As I alluded to in my first two journal drawings, my two favorite bands in the whole wide universe are Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine.

I live for that driving, building, but melodic electric guitar refrain, overlaid with poetic and political lyrics. (Sidenote: I also credit Rage with kicking my interest in Latin America to the forefront of my brain. It may have otherwise hibernated in my own personal cultural limbo forever. But that's for another post.)

I usually listen to rock music when I'm drawing rather than painting. One, because I'm still learning how to paint and am super diligent in my hand movement. And two, because I have never had a space of my own to paint with freedom. Since I began painting last summer I have always been hovered over someone else's living room coffee table or kitchen dining table. I'm just as concerned with not ruining their furniture as I am with what I'm putting on the canvas. I hope to someday soon paint with reckless abandon while blasting rock music on full volume. A girl can dream.

While I still  listen to my two classics, my current rock taste gravitates to The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, and Rocco DeLuca. All have an alternative rock and bluesy fusion thing going on. Apparently I am also attracted to the musicality of groomed beards. Who knew?

Latin music plays a big part in my visual inspiration by reminding me of the cultural vibrancy I want to portray in my art. My recent music obsession, Las Cafeteras, is a group of Xicanos from the LA area creating a modern take on the traditional Son Jarocho music of Mexico. Not only does their unique sound have that lovely Latin groove, but the lyrics carry a message of love to change the culture of social injustice.

Last, but definitely not least, podcasts. Nothing keeps my serotonin flowing like a good laugh. No matter how crappy a day I am having, listening to others satirize the ridiculous and the wonderful of life always improves my mood. I am the chic on the #9 CATS bus with the teal cord headphones laughing out loud to herself because shit is just too funny to contain it.

I have long been a fan of NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, but when I gave up my car it became difficult to listen to on a regular basis. Now having it accessible in podcast form makes my nerdy, academia, news junkie brain happy. A happy brain makes for joyful, colorful paintings.

I stumbled across The Nerdist podcast purely by accident. A group of comedian friends get together to discuss the things in life that they nerd out about and then interview other famous actors and performers to discuss what their own creative process and what they nerd out about. It is such a simple concept: Talk about what you love. Talk about how you create what you love to do. Laugh along the way. I want to apply this method to all my interests and tasks in life, not just my art.

I'm always taking my music and my artwork to work at local cafés around Charlotte. If you see me and my teal cord headphones bopping around Amelie's, Central Coffee, or Starbucks-East Blvd come discuss music and your creative process. And maybe we'll laugh about it.

The Beginning

I touched on my entry into the art world briefly in my Artist Statement, but I wanted to recount the  process spark I went through in the Summer of 2012. 

I had returned to Charlotte in April, but after two months had no luck finding a job. To pay my way, I took care of my roommate's awesome (and by coincidence, artistically talented) 9-year old son during his Summer break from school. This meant a lot of idle days at the pool. During this same period, I also discovered Pinterest. Aggregating what I found beautiful, innovative, creative, and funny proved not only to be a relaxing diversion, but became a visual paradigm of what I was about to suddenly comprehend. On one of those idle pool days in the middle of July, my other roommate, a talented graphic designer, brought home the book Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. He prefaced the suggestion I read it by stating the book was geared towards artists, but was applicable to anything in life. He thought I might enjoy it during my time of struggle. I devoured the book in a few hours. The whole time, I kept exclaiming "this is amazing," "oh my god," "where has this book been all my life," "so right." None of the information was necessarily new to my 36 years in the world, but it was framed in a new, clear way. It was like someone had reached deep into my brain and flipped a switch. Suddenly all my adventures, and experiences and education and projects fell into a sense of order. The quote from Andre Gide:

"Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again."

was the most liberating statement I had ever encountered. I suddenly felt uninhibited. The need to create was immediate.

Now I do have really neat handwriting, and I was always creatively resourceful with decorating, and I doodled concentric circles out of boredom, but I had never painted a picture before. I considered my self an art consumer, not an art creator. That night I searched on Pinterest for an artwork that spoke to me. My intention was to emulate as a method of experimentation in creating. This is where I discovered the art journal work of Ingrid Dijkers. In particular the organized chaos of her zentagles piqued my interest:

Zentagles by Ingrid Dijkers (Gallery 2)

Zentagles by Ingrid Dijkers (Gallery 2)

I gathered the resources I had available to me: old, but unused gold-covered journal filled with lined notebook paper, a kids watercolor palate with a plastic brush, and my v5 pilot gel pens I use to take (colorful) notes in grad school. I spent the next three days creating my version of Dijker's zentangle.

Come As You Are

Come As You Are

I used her idea as a jumping off point, but once I got started I put her image out of sight and progressed with my own interpretation. I chose my favorite colors, incorporated lyrics from my favorite band, added my favorite concentric circles. Then I just began playing with shapes and design elements. The image filled itself out from there.

Proud of my first effort, I wanted to attempt to replicate a more concrete object, rather than purely abstract freeform. Could I actually control shape to create an image? So I went back to Pinterest in search of inspiration and I was drawn in my the color and activity of Jamie Price's piece You Are My Sunshine.

You Are My Sunshine by Jamie Price

You Are My Sunshine by Jamie Price

Again, my intention this time around was an attempt at duplication as a self-test of my capabilities. But I eventually reached a point where my own experiences and interests took over and I incorporated details and style that were relevant to me.

People of the Sun

People of the Sun

I do owe a particular credit to Jamie Price because the use of filler bubble circles has become recurrent detail in most of my pieces. These two sources of random inspiration motivated me to study zentangles and painting techniques. Soon I was off to the races researching Mexican art iconography, aboriginal dream art, and graffiti artists. I started looking at the details in other creative crafts like quilting and crocheting. My interests keep growing and expanding exponentially. Satisfied with my first two attempts, my unused gold-covered journal quickly became an art book. Since that first night in July, I have been painting and drawing every single day.

More of my early journal drawings are below in order of creation. When I finally jumped out of my journal and onto the canvas, I began creating the images that make up my current portfolio. My gold-covered journal is now more for notes and ideas and practice techniques and lists and collecting random pieces of inspiration for new pieces I am creating.

Experimenting  Practice makes better so I just played with different colors and design elements.

Experimenting

Practice makes better so I just played with different colors and design elements.

Points of Covin  Created under the art direction of the 9-year artist I was taking care of this summer. The web designs are an homage to his spider-man obsession.

Points of Covin

Created under the art direction of the 9-year artist I was taking care of this summer. The web designs are an homage to his spider-man obsession.

Sea Flor  Inspired by the photo of a flower I took in Thailand. By the end it had a very under-the-sea feel.

Sea Flor

Inspired by the photo of a flower I took in Thailand. By the end it had a very under-the-sea feel.

Autumn Wind (Upside down. Can't get it to flip at the moment.)  Lyrics from "Autumn Wind" by Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy.

Autumn Wind (Upside down. Can't get it to flip at the moment.)

Lyrics from "Autumn Wind" by Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy.

Morrocan Stained Glass  Initially inspired by fireworks, but it transformed itself into a stained glass effect.

Morrocan Stained Glass

Initially inspired by fireworks, but it transformed itself into a stained glass effect.

Fairey Eyes  Inspired by the graphic designs of Shepard Fairey.

Fairey Eyes

Inspired by the graphic designs of Shepard Fairey.

So this is my little origin story. I'm still navigating my artistic path, but I'm enjoying the journey.