“Out on the highway the last faint water colors of the sun were gone beyond the hills and whatever they were chasing was so far ahead as to be only a swift fleck now shown in lamplight now set free, running into the dark.” -Ray Bradbury Something Wicked This Way Comes
There are so many phrases and words that beg to be illustrated in Ray Bradbury’s books. He writes in pictures. This quote struck me as I was reading Something Wicked. It’s just the way he captures the past turning into the present when he describes the sunlight and the dark.
I did not portray the exact moment in the Bradbury’s writing but it inspired different pictures having to do with boys running outside and the setting sun. I may return to the book to find some other scenes to paint.
Two or three years ago I went to Santa Fe with a friend who is a dancer. We went to the Currents New Media Festival which is about new technology in art. Interestingly there was a person exhibiting whose work had nothing to do with new technology. They wore a jump suit covered in silver glitter and had a mirror strapped to their face. The exhibitor interacted with passers by through movement. He did this while staying on a small platform. My friend walked to the glitter man and they started to move together, taking turns leaning on each other and making different shapes and poses. This was my introduction to contact improv.
Strangely enough, I haven’t really thought about that moment until recently. I drew some pictures of couples together and it reminded my of my friend’s dancing. I started watching a lot of modern dance online and looking at pictures of it. The poses are so strong and the dancers are so impressive.
I miss hugging my friends and being close to them. So to watch people dancing has been very uplifting. And I have thought about different ways of people being together. Sometimes people who are touching can be miles apart. And sometimes people together can make such beautiful forms and show a deep amount of care towards one another. Dance reminds me of this. It’s a testament to the power of physical connection.
I have done some paintings of contact improv. Some poses were borrowed from photos online and some are made up from my head. I don’t know if I’m going to do a longer series with them. It may be that what I have done is like a short story that I will elaborate on in the future.
Sometime in January, my eight year old niece came over to paint. I was thinking I’d give her a lesson by having her paint a vegetable still life. However it turned out that she already knew what she wanted to paint and it was from her head.
My niece’s visit made me think more about where creativity goes. After so much time looking at photos I felt that I lost my ability to imagine. Since that time I have been trying to be more creative.
Reading seems to be helping me. Typically I read non-fiction. However I started reading comic books to see what other artists do and it got me into reading books by Neil Gaiman and now I am onto other fiction writers. It seems like the more I read the more I think creatively.
My niece stayed over for three hours. The time flew by. I think this is what I’m looking for in my own work. The joy. It’s good I had my niece over to remind me what creating is about.
In 2008 I found myself unemployed and was a bit overwhelmed with my life. So I moved back home.
Finances aside, I think the worst part for me in those days was all the free time I had that made me feel like I lacked purpose. I’ve been thinking a lot about that recently. I am a massage therapist and the place that I work at has closed and I am not seeing any private clients due to the corona virus. Similar to 2008 I have moved back in with my parents.
Thankfully, a lot has changed since 2008. Back then I was frustrated with trying to find a job and I thought my degree in art and art history was worthless. So I went on a lot of walks until I got a part time job and I got my dog. Now I’m lucky in that my love for art has renewed itself and I appreciate the people in my life much more. Life is fuller. I have learned that it is worth loving things, full heartedly. Additionally, I have a better sense of how to structure my time. Making art is a big part of that.
I’m not talking about making all amazing artworks. I’m talking about art making. Right now I’m playing with watercolor which I am no expert at. I’m also trying to challenge myself by working more from my head. So I’m giving myself tasks that are a little more difficult for me, mixed in with easier things, to keep me occupied. Additionally, there’s taking walks with my dog even though he hobbles now and can’t go as far. And there are tons of online exercise classes. Over the past week there have been times I feel useless. It’s bound to happen with what’s going on. However during those times I try to remember the people in my life. It’s heartening to see how people are dealing with the pandemic and working to make the best of the situation and I think we can all strive for that.
I learned a lot between 2008 and now about structuring my time. Now will put it to the test. I know there are other people that struggle with these things. At this time, seeing my colleagues struggle and the country struggle I think it’s important that we find things we love and hold onto them. Work that we love and people we love. Love of life. I hope that we each find something. I am going to try and keep working on my art.