The People Who Illustrate

Recently routed to an art and illustration site called Gorilla Art Fare. They’re sufficiently popular that they don’t need a link through from me, but you won’t be disappointed if you take a moment to go there right now. Of particular interest to this bit of writing is any video of an artist doing his thing. There were several near the top today and I suspect will be more in the future so I’ll leave the hunting to you. Find one. Watch it.

My somewhat recent fascination with the parallels between illustration and writing comes from my reading of a book I gave as a gift. “Making Comics” by Scott McCloud is great for understanding story telling from a visual perspective. More generally I began to see how his specific instructions to artists were practical for writers as well. More about that another time. That’s just some groundwork for where this all started for me.

Two videos floored me. Each showed hours of work in Photoshop compressed to a few minutes. Despite the scaling you could easily see the repetitive and experimental nature of the work. In one the artist paints a face by first painting in the background color of pale mustard–same as the final product. After a bit of indistinct strokes for the face he completely trashes the background with a grey blue. For much of the first half of the video the face looks like a young man of little worldly experience. By the end, the background color has changed at least three times and the portrait of an angry veteran soldier comes to mind. Everything was questioned during the process. Hair color, head shape, ear placement, mustache, lips, eyes, collar, everything. It all took shape, got cast aside, and then reconstituted.

I can’t imagine wholesale near repetition and experimentation like that going on with text to ultimately end up with the same thing just deeper and richer.

Let’s try this with just a few words in series:

entertainer
comedian
clown
entertainer of kids
balloon clown
jester
court jester
Motley Fool

Or something like that, except I wouldn’t argue that motley fool was anything near as robust an outcome as these guys were producing in comparison to their origins.

Maybe when I hit 200 days I should rewrite every post day for day to 400? That might be too tedious.

Word count: 380
Day 158

Ambushed by Shrove Tuesday

Starting to wish I had a backlit keyboard. Maybe i should look into one of those.

I’m pretty happy with the write up I did of the Martin Sexton concert a week or so back in Oklahoma City. I wish I had pictures to go along with that, but I didn’t bring a camera.

I am disappointed with the conclusion. I think it is clear that I just stopped writing. Laziness inspired me, but I consciously decided to wrap it up fast. My narrative was heading down a path I wasn’t sure how to turn back toward the intended trail. It seemed prudent to just stop.

My other option was to know something about music or to have recalled Sexton’s line up so that I could make more definitive comments, but I don’t and couldn’t so I didn’t and I can’t. I’m thinking of seeing Samantha Craine soon. Maybe I’ll smarten up by then.

This morning I decided that I would pursue looking into taking aikido. It’s not all that hard to pursue looking into such things when you’ve got the Internet 24/7 so I am done. Done looking and pursuing. Next comes the considering attending. I don’t expect I’ll be allowed much time to consider attending before I am forced to commit one way or the other.

And there’s Lent. Son of a bitch that snuck up on me again this year. Which is odd since I’ve been back at Mass regularly. Thanks for the heads up Padre! I learned it from a Brit on Twitter. For anyone out there on the Internet that doesn’t know, this means that I am starting my traditional three day fast tomorrow. This is a Catholic thing. At least not directly Catholic. It’s just something I cooked up in my Freshman year at the University of Kansas back in 88–this’ll be the 20th year for me. It’s actually quite intriguing. First day closes very physical, second day mental, third is oddly neutral until bed time. Saturday is Denny’s.

Word count: 332
Day 157

Day 136: Nothing In Particular

I considered rolling another day with the Styx theme, but decided against it in favor of a bit of rambling instead. The point of this post will be to simply keep my fingers moving around the keyboard. and the thoughts flowing from my head. I believe that this is what is referred to as free writing. As I recall from having done this on paper in high school it results in crap. I suspect it was my creative writing teacher’s way of filling out an hour when he didn’t have enough material otherwise.

I do this sort of thing for the girls when they can’t sleep. I have two versions: Talk About My Day and Talk About the Stuff in My Room. Talking about my day is mostly geared toward getting the girls to wind down and to think about the sequence of events during the day. The point of talking about the stuff in their room is for them to listen to my hopefully soothing voice as they become acquainted with the items in their room.

Of course they are familiar with these items in their regular rooms, but we found on traveling from our home in the mountains to the grandparents that it made sleeping easier if we talked them through their new nightly surroundings for the week. The practice stems from my childhood fear and then annoyance of waking up in a strange place with no bearings. Being able to anchor the bookshelf next to the door and the dresser across from the window before you nod off has a calming effect when you wake up halfway and don’t immediately recognize where you are.

I like to think I am a baby whisperer, but I’m not. If they don’t respond in the first round or two I start wanted to pop their heads off.

I do love that they are growing more sophisticated everyday. Asking questions and formulating complex sentences. Thinking ahead tot he future. Wondering a little about the past. One’s brain is a steel trap of details. When we lose stuff or can’t find something we ask her. The other one can dredge up an event from months ago like it just happened and she still has the Band-Aid to prove it. It’s a wonder they don’t use more four letter words.

Word count: 402

Day 133: Three Plots for My Redemption

I am writing in the morning for the first time in several weeks. Even if the content sucks, I am already ten time happier about this that I was with last night’s efforts.

I’ve discovered it’s hard for me to not write in the first person. This surprises me. I don’t read much first person work–as far as I recall. Mary Stewart’s Arthurian trilogy comes to mind, but nothing else. Maybe it’s easier since I don’t have to think up names for characters and I can hide in ‘my’ head with thoughts rather than coming up with a plot.

Ha! There’s me circling back to my plot avoidance strategies. For a guy that so readily identifies his problem, I’m sure sucktastic at tackling it. Plotophobia. Let’s try my little plot exercise again this morning:

A green faerie, ousted from court, seeks the respect and love of the newest regent in order to return to the life she once had. While eavesdropping she discovers an ancient tome of power and that the new regent isn’t who he seems to be. In order to save her country, she must carry the book to where it may be safely opened or destroy it before the regent gets it back.

Eesh that sounds like some ‘generator’ tool was involved. Let’s try another…

A mother whose prescience has abandoned her since her teens suddenly starts seeing her own daughter’s future. It’s not good. Without revealing her curse, the mother’s actions come off as meddling and only serve to push her college-bound daughter further away.

I’ll stop with number three for today since it’s the top of the hour…

Remarkably after having reported his digital camera stolen a man’s camera is recovered by the police. The police find photographs of a crime on the camera. Somehow the context point to the owner’s involvement rather than the thief’s. The owner’s attempts to exonerate himself make him look more guilty. Pushed to the limit by the legal system he goes underground to hunt for the criminal instead. If he can’t have justice, he’ll settle for revenge.

There is a legal-crime thriller I couldn’t hope to know enough to write.

Word count: 373

Day 116: Navel Gazing Cycles to a Peak

Let’s just call this what it is.  It’s low spot.  If you’ve joined us right in the middle then I’ll politely request you subscribe and give 1000 Days till after the first of the year to get yanked out of your feed reader for bad behavior.  If you’ve been here all along then you know it’s been better so it will likely get better again.

Maybe this season is a little too much for me to expect to really be at my writing best and I should give over to the occasional bout of lame.

You’ve heard me say it in posts before.  It’s the time.  I don’t make it.  Worse I donate it to less worthy causes like work and making breakfast for the kids.  Or warm-up surfing.

I’m also developing an itchy little Halo3 part of my brain that needs attention.  I’ve never let it scratch writing time, but I give it other times that push out writing time.  The demons of consumption compel me more effectively than the angels of creation.

On the subject of itches there’s a whole masturbatory quality to these 1000 days that I am not always able to look past.  If only a quarter of the previous hundred entries are goodish then maybe only a handful of those are worth cultivating.  When the hell am I going to have the time for that if I barely have the time for this?  So the effort in terms of ideas or seeds to be grown is throw away.  Thus far I can only quantify that I’ve written every day.  Everything else is speculation.  Speculation on subjective material anyhow.

In less than a fortnight everyone starts talking resolutions.  I suspect I ought to target 1000 Days for at least one.

Word count: 291

Day 91: Less, but Better Words

My traffic spike is well and truly dead.  It back to just me and the words and not a single pair of eyes.  At least that’s what my WordPress.com Stats plugin says.  I don’t know if that tracks feed readers–I kinda think not.  If I get time I might wrestle with Feedburner today.  Though when I glanced recently it didn’t look to have changed it’s chunky UI.

I’ve written of my jealousy of artists being able to make a stroke or two on a page and have a clear product.  I’ve even tried to put my money where my mouth was, but the effort is flagging.  Sunday I drifted through the entire inventory of a art supply store here in Houston looking for books and hope.  I made out pretty well.

Flipping pages in one of the more instructional how-to’s I came across an exercise entitled “Treatments of Water”.  Below the title was some text I didn’t read–how little respect I have for my passion for words.  Below those were five sketches the author/artist may have spent less time on than it takes to sharpen a pencil.  Lingering on the page was not necessary as the gestalt smacked me hard with about four clear thoughts at once: artistry is work no matter how much I think it isn’t, a primary characteristic of water is it’s desire to be level, edges like rocks or glass lend water all it’s interest, and I could parallel this lesson in words.

With wild lack of imagination, or perhaps unintentional homage, my first rendition was of five scenes involving water.  Some less directly than others.

I enjoyed the effort and liked the structure but ultimately I was sloppy in my execution.  I put in too many words and sentences to have truly mimicked the artist’s lean example.  I will be trying this again soon using less, but better words to accomplish more.  Maybe a few of these will instruct me on how to use more less but better word combinations.

Word count: 332

Day 64: Nearly All of You

…are wondering why I went with that barely discernible reference to ‘Hamlet’  when something about ‘pelican daughters’ from ‘King Lear’ would have been better suited given the reference to kids.  I am sure in the intervening 936 posts that remain for this blog, I’ll be presented with better real world experiences to drag in some Lear.

Sometimes I trace my fingertips along the edge of a tabletop or over it’s surface.  I might even rest my palms on the cool aluminum legs, pressing slightly to increase the contact.  Almost never, but sometimes I get the sensation that I am connected to the object I am caressing.  As if my nerves extended into the table, or chair, or wall to include the foreign item in my perception.

Sigh.  That’s not going anywhere.  One more try…

Never mind.  Nothing creative this evening.  I think I’ll just go for another introspective piece.

All my stuff seems to in the the head lately.  If it hasn’t seemed that way to you then that because I haven’t put everything out here on the blog.

I am thinking that I need to do a few where someone walks down the street and turns a corner and walks a few more blocks then gets hit by a car.  Anything with action.  Might not even need to get hit by a car.  Maybe just keeps walking.

This brings the toll of things I want to do next, but haven’t done yet up to three: more words, something I can’t recall, and concrete prose.  The hat trick is going to be a bit harder since I can’t recall one of the three.  Place laughter here.  I will note along with these things that I do better with being creative in the morning as long as I can find the time.  Evenings I have more time but am just to worn out to perform well.  Lately there’s lots of football.

I sorted my three year’s worth of unread comics this afternoon.  I think I am as caught up as I will ever be and need to grab a stack and start reading.

Word count: 345