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Scrawls

October 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Sometimes I can’t breathe because there is too much air and my lungs can’t expand to make room for it all.

Sometimes I find the world so painstakingly beautiful…

Sometimes I am so excited my heart and stomach hurt

Sometimes all I want is the taste of chocolate on my tongue

Sometimes I am in love with each person I pass on the street

Sometimes thinking about the summer sun is more beautiful than the real thing

Sometimes I need to touch another person’s skin

Sometimes I can’t stop flexing my hands and looking at them, silently awed by their engineering

Found in a college sketchbook, and there is no date because I never date things properly. Written sometime between the fall of 2008 and spring 2009.

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Categories: art, life, memories, sundry

Ho…ho…ho…

December 26, 2010 Leave a comment

A day late, but I completely forgot about this beautiful animated short, based on a poem by the inimitable Neil Gaiman.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

“Nicholas Was” by Neil Gaiman, animation by 39 Degrees North.

I don’t know how it’s possible to love this man any more than I already do, but every time I see something like this, he captures my heart that much more.

Categories: art, humor, video

Education Revolution

November 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Education has been on my mind a lot lately. Specifically, the state of most education systems in the world.  A pretty hefty subject, but it seems to have continually cropped up within my social networking sphere the past couple months.

I ran across two of William Deresiewicz’s essays, one titled “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education,” and the second, “What are You Going to Do with That?”  Both gave me a lot to think about, in terms of my own educational history, the paths I’ve chosen to take along the way, as well as the outward factors that influenced those decisions.

The two essays reminded me of another I’d read years ago when I was seeing M, who was very education-focused, as he was the co-owner of an ESL school.  I learned a lot through M, and he pointed me to the essayist, VC, and entrepreneur Paul Graham.  The essay I remember is the one entitled “How to Do What You Love.”

At the same time that I was discovering these articles, I also came across the wonderful RSA Animate series.  I saw the video on changing Education Paradigms:

 

And immediately went in search of more information on Sir Ken Robinson.  That was how I came across his two TEDTalks on radically changing the education system:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

And finally, another TEDTalk, this time by Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs:

Random thoughts:

I agree, quite emphatically, with all of them.  I have only my personal history and observations to draw on, but I believe the education system is irreparably flawed and in need of radical change.  While I was trained and cultivated throughout my childhood precisely to succeed in the linear model of the current system, it was rarely a satisfying experience except when I took those classes that completely deviated from the norm.

From William Deresiewicz’s essays I find a lot that strikes a chord in me, along with a bit of residual bitterness and dissatisfaction with my college experience.  But it is equally true that I’m grateful for opportunity to go to college without incurring nearly the level of debt that many of my peers faced after graduation (before disowning me for the second time, my mother almost completely covered my academic fees).

Although it was an unpleasant experience at the time, I now see that event – being disowned and the withdrawal of financial support – as probably the most useful in helping me break free of my mother’s influence over my future and my decisions.  I saw clearly her overwhelming desire to simultaneously see me as an adult and keep me continually semi-dependent on her, in the often distorted way that parents define and express their love.

I was also able to feel less guilty about breaking off the path she’d so carefully cultivated for me ever since I was born.  I have since made a lot of pretty crazy decisions, like driving across the country without knowing where I’d end up.  I’ve made my share of mistakes, of course, but in the long run I’ve been incalculably happier than I think I ever would have been with the options that were laid out for me by familial precedence.  I am constantly amazed that things seem to be working out, and this is, I believe, because of the narrow model of success I’d been taught.

Now, whenever I see my family, my mother often remarks that I will likely be the one with the lowest degree in our household.  I never have a response to that, but I sincerely cannot believe that the pursuit of an advanced degree is the right choice for me right now.  Still, it’s hard to take her sometimes scathing comments, even though I understand her motivation is to shame me into “making more of myself.”

I came to another realization while reading and listening to all of these thoughts: I have, since entering college, felt a kind of self-loathing and sense of being a fake or fraud for enrolling at such a prestigious school.  Although my primary interests lay in the arts, especially in graphic arts and design, and despite the fact that I endeavored to take an art class almost every term, I never put much weight on the talents I had in visual media; it wasn’t a real or useful life skill.  Yet I also never felt compelled to pursue more lucrative options.  I defaulted to biology, because at least I was also interested in ecology, and because Jane Goodall had been my childhood idol.  It was also a safe choice that my family could accept – biology could mean a path to a medical field.  But I never felt truly immersed in the material except during labs or outdoor excursions.

It’s only now, two years out of the academic sphere, that I can finally admit to myself how much more I’m actually interested in things that fall under the often-stigmatized heading of “skilled labor” – things like woodworking, metalcraft, and leathercraft.

There are also other views to take on the people I’ve linked to and what they have to say; a look at the comments sections of Mr. Deresiewicz’s articles is telling of the scorn people feel for an academic scholar criticizing the system that helped shape his career.  And I could argue that most of the people I knew personally fell outside the kind of privileged students he describes.  But I also have to admit to having a circle of friends who were more the exception than the rule at our school.

Regardless, I can personally attest to being the recipient of all the stereotypical comments one hears made to smart people who don’t pursue the well-trodden path: I’m not applying myself, I’m wasting my talents, my degree, and my future, I could succeed if only I were more motivated, I’m making a huge mistake.

I believed all of that, and I was weighed down by the belief that I was being intentionally self-destructive and the belief that I was a failure not only to my family and friends but also to my own intrinsic potential.

 

Reading these essays and watching the TEDTalks, as well as hearing stories every now and then about others who’ve also taken unconventional paths and were successful – using a much broader rubric for defining success – continues to encourage me and help me believe that I am, in fact, capable of a successful, happy life, even if the path in front of me is only vaguely defined and involves a lot of bushwhacking.

 

Categories: art, geekpost, hope, life, links, school, video

On a lighter note…

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

I haven’t been taking as many photos lately, and it’s something I’d like to get back into (among the other fifty things I’d like to get back into).  It always helps to go through a photographer’s portfolio and be inspired to produce similar work.  I just discovered the site of one Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann (1906 – 1999), and I’m smitten by his figure studies and still-life-like portraits.  I love how eerily quiet and evocative the following photo is.

There is this insanely muscular, flexible guy in my yoga class that I’ve been sorely tempted to ask to model for me to do gestural drawings, and I bet he’d be a lot of fun to photograph as well.  The rippling muscle on his back when he’s in a twisted posture is mesmerizing.  (Not that I’d know, since I’m always very focused on my own poses…)  However, I haven’t yet worked up the courage to ask, and I’ve missed the past two yoga classes.

Would that be too weird? I can’t decide.

Thinking now about all those things I want to keep doing but have let fall by the wayside recently, I wonder how I can incorporate at least a few of them into some kind of organized schedule.

If I were a more organized and disciplined person, for instance, I might set up my days as follows:

  • 1 hour of walking somewhere new and taking photos every day
  • 1-2 hours of drawing every day
  • 1 hour of whipmaking twice a week
  • 2 hours of climbing twice a week
  • 1/2 hour of aerobic exercise three times a week
  • 1/2 hour of core/strength exercise four times a week
  • 1 museum visit a month
  • 1/2 hour salsa practice three times a week
  • 2 hours of writing three to four times a week
  • 1 hour of reading every day

It sounds like a lot, but on a weekly basis I could definitely pull something like this off, if I managed my time more efficiently.  In other words, if I just got off my ass more often to actually do the shit I want to do.

Part of the problem, of course, is that I’ve historically gone through phases of intense, focused obsession over a particular interest, one at a time, and this schedule would spread things out across a longer period and give each interest more equal time.

Another problem is that some of those things – like writing and drawing – are more organic, so it’s hard for me to see them as a thing to be scheduled.  But I know that people in those professions will often clear hours each day to devote to their craft, even if it means staring at a blank canvas for most of that time or a ending up with a trash bin full of rejects.

Sigh.  Nothing comes easy.  I need a muse.

Categories: art, links, photos, sundry

New project

August 7, 2010 Leave a comment

I know why I feel so listless lately – I have no new project to obsess over!  Well, I think I have an idea for one now.  While brainstorming ideas for a drawing I’m doing for a friend, I pulled out Anatomy for the Artist from my bookshelf.  I got this as an arts intern after a colleague showed me her copy, but in all honesty I’ve never really used it.  I’ve come to rely on using Google image search to find references when I draw.  But it’s a bit of a shame; the book is filled with amazing visuals detailing every aspect of human anatomy, including translucent pages that overlay bones and musculature over photographs of people.

And this made me realize how out of practice I’ve become with figure studies.  I haven’t really done any since I left the East coast, and I feel a little rusty with the human figure.  That just won’t do!  So I am going to attempt a series of figure drawings of each of the reference photos in the book.  At over 200 pages of multiple photos per page, this should be a good exercise for me.  Ideally, I’d have a live model to draw from, but until I live that dream world of having someone at my beck and call for modeling purposes, this will have to do.

I anticipate heavy use of graphite and maybe some ink, but I may also go crazy and experiment with other media.

I should also note that my obsession with whips is not at all expired.  I am simply biding my time to build up enough momentum – and resources – to make a few more!  More documentation to come.

Categories: art, links, sundry

“How to be Alone”

August 1, 2010 1 comment

And it’s finding treasures like this that keep me going back to social media sites.  Found via my Twitter stream, and specifically via @chelseagsummers: “How to be Alone,” poem by Tanya Davis, video directed by Andrea Dorfman:

Categories: art, hope, links, video

Whipmaking

June 25, 2010 7 comments

If you didn’t think I was serious about the whips, here is proof that I am actually obsessed.  Yesterday I got the package I needed to start making my whip: 3 boxes of 50 cartridges each of rifle ammunition.  Why did I get tiny copper bullets that I then needed to pry open to get the lead shot out, instead of just a bag of lead shot?

That would be because I didn’t find that site until just now, despite it taking hours to even find a site that sold #12 lead shot.  Sigh.

Well, now I know.  But yes, instead, I bought 150 copper cartridges filled with tiny balls of lead.  It was the tiny balls of lead that I needed to fill the core of my whip.  So my afternoon was spent prying each cartridge open with scissors and an allen wrench and dumping each ounce or so of lead shot into an empty pill bottle.

Once I’d done one box, I decided to start making the shotbag.  Following these two tutorials, I cut a tapered strip of leather, duct-taped it into a cone shape, and filled it with the painstakingly-extracted lead shot.

Over the shotbag, I tied on a leather bolster, which is now as far as I can go until I cut some laces to start braiding on the first layer of the belly.  So, there’s still a lot of work to do, but I am still inordinately proud of how the whip looks so far.

I can’t wait to start braiding!

Categories: art, geekpost, photos