Monday, July 30, 2012

The Path Less Chosen

I have chosen many paths in my life and I’m sure there will be many more ahead. The first path I chose was Robert Frost’s less traveled one. It was for my high school yearbook, I thought it was so poetic. Granted it was in a poem but it had a nicer ring than some of the other words of wisdom I heard during the 80’s… I wear my sunglasses at night so I can… or about dirty laundry or dancing safely. The path less traveled seemed a bit more “arty” and rebellious. It was one of those things you see or read and can’t believe that someone else can feel just like you. Then you realize it is like that brand new car you bought, the one that nobody else has. On the way home from the dealership, you pass 10 of the exact “different car” you just bought. That’s were I am now; the less traveled path seems to be humming with people.

This time I decided to build my own path to my own castle. No, I really did. I busted up a perfectly well built concrete walkway to my front door. I did it because I wanted my own walkway; something different and I wanted to do it. I know this sounds crazy and if it doesn’t then you don’t have to read any further cause you get it.

It’s about aesthetics, procrastination, and a bit of sweat equity. After all I am an artist, I like to make things… more difficult. I had visualized this project four years ago and have been collecting the perfectly worn and distressed bricks since then. I had the rock I was going to use as a step to the castle entrance; it has been resting precariously under the hammock for the past three years. The grunt work was done and I was ready to enter the zone, a zone of mathematical mental strength in pattern recognition.  You’d think I was flying a fighter jet. No I was just trying to figure out a true herringbone pattern. Once the first coarse is set its all mental relaxation; pick a brick, lay it down, pick a brick, lay it down, get the rubber mallet and set a beat. It’s a wonderful, backbreaking experience. The repetition and the speed of laying a path gives one great satisfaction in accomplishment. Accomplishing a task while your mind wanders is the best form of procrastination. Making a new path might be the best way to bust up writers block and move forward.

My new path opened many doors to new ideas and my procrastination was up. It was time to start painting. I painted and listened to words of wisdom streaming from my computer…”You fill me up, my red solo cup…”

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Artist, The Commissioner, The Businessperson

My idea for a new reality tv show or is this just reality...

The Artist: A free spirited individual with creativity being the main driving force. Enjoys quite time reflecting upon their sheer genius. Can be dependable, but prone to distraction by shiny objects and other non/productive tasks. Usually found feverishly working in front of an easel constantly switching mediums spawned by brilliant ideas. They can also be found walking around in circles or walking back and forth staring at a big blank canvas perched on an easel, not really knowing what will happen next.

The Commissioner: A creative supporter of the arts who enjoys the fruits of the artist’s labor but usually lacks the ability to create more than a stick figure. Enjoys communicating and sharing their profound ideas and imposing them on others. Always very successful at their other job and has extra income to share with those that can add shading to a stick figure. The Commissioner comes in many shapes and sizes and can be found almost anywhere.  Some unassuming ones can be found in a cubicle diligently typing in front of a computer. They can also be found walking briskly through city streets with a phone attached to their ear demanding that the person on the other end buy or sell something. The rarest and most difficult Commissioners to find are hardly seen because they are usually vacationing on some remote island. They can only be reached through informants who filter out undesirables that may interrupt them as they develop their superior ideas.

The Businessperson: This part can be casted by a multitude of persons. Sometimes the artist switches hats and steps away from the easel to become the businessperson. Other times it is a mediator or liaison that has a better understanding of the terrain that separates the artist’s Ivory Tower from the bustling network of office buildings. The Businessperson can usually be found sitting in front of a lavish meal and a bottle of wine, (known in the industry as a sales lubricant) chatting and smiling with any of the above characters. Although this description can be interpreted as suspicious, the best business people have all parties benefitting while being well rewarded for their negotiating skills.

Act I
Scene I
Commissioner approaches the Artist regarding speculative work. [Enter Businessperson] who entertains both parties and all the ideas, later to flush out a reasonable set of rules to engage. Artist retreats to the Ivory Tower, thinking she/he has super natural powers of clairvoyance. Commissioner retreats to exclusive lair and assembles minions to establish a chain of hierarchy. Businessperson continues eating and drinking then picks up the tab. [Pan] to Ivory Tower where Artist quietly celebrates their ability to shade stick figures and creates multiple versions of this masterpiece, reinforcing the idea they can clearly see the multiple personalities of the Commissioner. (The Commissioner in this story continues to work on their tan and build their empire.) [Businessperson enters] collects artist’s attempts and reports to the commissioner. [Cut to Businessperson] return to artist’s studio with modifications and a translation of the Commissioner’s imaginative pure brilliance. The Businessperson opens previously purchased wine, this time solely with the artist, this is to help remind the artist that if he/she would like to continue living in the Ivory Tower, compromises must be made to appease the creative supporter of the arts. [Artist retreats] gathers remaining ego and then continues to rework original masterpieces to fit a more general appeal. Businessperson reminds artist that collaborations sometimes result in great masterpieces. After all, architects don’t build their own buildings. A happy medium is reached; commissioner’s vision is satisfied while artists pride and false view of integrity are upheld. [Fade to black]

Scene II
Setting: Commissioner’s Luxurious Estate
[Businessperson is hardly seen during this time] Artist presents the shared masterpiece to the applause of the Commissioner and minions. Much celebrating ensues as they recall moments of shared genius. Lots of high fives and back patting fills the estate with a warm fuzzy feeling. The champagne glasses clink, the Commissioner parts with his/her hard earned money, which will be split with the artist and Businessperson. [Dim lights on masterpiece. Curtain closes]


Act II
Scene I
Setting: Gallery
Minion approaches Businessperson to share the fact that Commissioner has had a change of heart and no longer considers the artwork a work of genius. [Pan to Ivory Tower] Armed with a list of color changes, a request for a bit more sunlight, and some more elements to help with the composition, the Businessperson cautiously approaches the Ivory Tower to present the new proclamation to the artist. Receiving the news, the artist…to be continued

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My Self-Imposed Isolation with 336 Hours

It was the perfect time to get everything done. My wife and three kids were headed south to spend two weeks with her sister. I’m not going to get emotional about how much I missed them. I was going to be strong, and self-sufficient like a special ops team; seal team six! Actually no, they work in teams and have really cool gadgets. I’m thinking this is going to be a mixture of Henry Thoreau and Tim from Home Improvement. I’m going to use the time to knock out my “honey do list,” fix the studio and give our castle some curb appeal. Then find time to actually paint and further my career. Little did I know, 336 hours isn’t a lot of time and by the end of the second week I can answer my own thoughts out loud.

My first call to action was to make a list of everything I needed to get done. I love to check things off, so this was going to be very satisfying. All those motivational self-help books were about to pay off. Second thing; read more motivational books. That is where I should have stopped but I started getting creative and thought Dwell magazine might be showing up for a photo shoot later this summer. My list consisted of two brick patios, replace sink faucet, install those cool European café lights stung across the yard, get Apple TV, repaint guest bed room, and replace window trim. Then there were all the other tasks like: cooking, cleaning, and eating.

I was determined to become an efficient machine, leaving plenty of time for thought and reflection. I was so deep in thought I decided to accomplish the mundane tasks so I could concentrate on the bigger projects. I loaded the dishwasher; filled it with soap, shut the door to let technology take over. Hours later, as I took care of smaller tasks, I came back to empty the time saving dishwashing device and put the dishes away. With three dishes left, I noticed the soap untouched by water; I had forgotten to push the “on button.” Now my task consisted simply of thought. I had to find all the dirty dishes that I put back. After this mistake, I decided I needed to be more efficient. Where could I save more of my 336 hours and use them more wisely for the important projects? Actually washing dishes between meals seemed to be a good place to find time. Why should I wash silverware when I was going to use it in a couple of hours again? After posting my newfound wisdom on Facebook, I found out through many comments it wasn’t a good idea because of this thing called bacteria.

The hours passed by as I worked like a dog…more like a beaver. My two weeks were up and the family was five hours away from arriving. I looked around to see what I had accomplished. I had a new faucet, dug two moats around the house where paths are supposed to lay, tracked the remaining dirt through the house and crossed off me making a list. With the last three hours of my 336 hours, I had to make it look like I had not given up hope on our castle. I cleaned; I scrubbed, and painted the trim and walls. The family pulls into the driveway as I grabbed ice cubes from the freezer for my cocktail and realized I had forgotten to empty the freezer…I had concluded bacteria can’t grow in the freezer, and therefore it would be a great place to put the plates and silverware that I was just going to use in a few hours for my next meal.