Sunday, August 21, 2011


Uploading another set of works-in-progress from the on-going internship, which has already begun to deviate into interesting territory: tantalizing possibilities (more on that later in an upcoming post) arising from what started out as a relatively simple project, now mutating into even more crazy ideas. Such is the creative process, such is life.


(more below the fold...)
At least as far as the lengthy rambles, posting has been a little sparse these days – long-time readers probably can ascertain how much free time I have by noting the corresponding rise in image-only posts, embellished with maybe a line or two of commentary. What little time I have left is spent more on drawing than writing.

As of late I’ve been reminded of what it was like immersed in grad school, and to a similar degree the BFA process and/or preparatory work for a gallery exhibition: such intensive experiences was a pivotal reaffirmation of how important prioritization and time-management skills can be for an artist. Going on the basic assumption that A) there is simply not enough time to do everything you have to do and B) there is no possible way to ever get anything you want to do done either: it’s basically a matter of just throwing every damn thing you’ve got at the wall, and afterwards, seeing what sticks.
It’s a taste of what’s to come, at least hopefully until the scales tip into a more balanced schedule, rather than the full-out, obsessive insanity. But the meta-lesson there is crucial training in simply meeting deadlines, and is the distinguishing factor between what is more often a glorified hobby versus a legitimate career. Recognizing, for instance, that there aren’t ever any “days off” or even holidays or vacations for a working artist. Indeed, those are precisely the opportunities capitalize on as the ideal time which to get more work done, or more often than not, play catch-up. 

This can and will cost you in the social realm, as friends and family are quite often perplexed at best, or at worst, hostile or resentful of the time you should invest in your work. Hence another side-benefit from institutional studying – you form lasting networks of supportive people who also share an understanding of the commitment that’s involved behind any creative endeavor. So for example when fellow/former grad student Angi Shearstone recently launched the publication of her own epic after many years of incubation and cultivation, it stirs the pots that have been simmering away in my own mental kitchen of back-burner status projects.

For example, take this sample breakdown of what an average week has been looking like: given a ten-hour work day, together with travel + prep time that means half the day/12 hours, is already effectively shot to hell. Out of the remaining twelve hours, figure a baseline of eight hours of sleep (wishful thinking/best-case scenario), which translates into approximately a whopping four hours left over within which to get shit done. Assuming one has some semblance of a life, it’s prudent to consider baseline health and welfare issues. Like maybe eating food. And besides for yourself and your own sanity, there’s the matter of a relationship with a significant other, and related activities such as walks, hikes, reading, the occasional movie etc. To say nothing of the needs of any dogs or cats who also might share your life (case-in-point: what's on the to-do list will never, ever trump a full litterbox).

Oh but wait: there’s miscellaneous errands like shopping, correspondence, random gigs like freelance or show & tells, etc. Juggling multiple features along with the occasional editorial cartoon has to squeeze somewhere in amongst those few remaining hours as well. Mostly it comes down to a choice between either blogging or sleeping, one being more expendable than the other, but both happen after all is said & done drawn.

Now flip all this around and dump it in the lap of an art teacher, who A) more than likely is dealing with their own time constraints as far as balancing classroom responsibilities and personal/professional development as a practicing artist, and B) has to simultaneously sell the idea that creating art is a worthy choice to spend what little free time is left to the average student who is immersed in school (refer again to the above schedule). Devoting time and effort into an activity that is competing against every other idle pursuit clamoring for our attention in the form of empty entertainment or mental masturbation, is a challenge that underscores every lesson for an art teacher. Another way to say it would be how do I make it relevant to the student's life, and meaningful enough to pursue, not necessarily as a career, but as a legitimate interest?

I often think back on how my current experience of struggling to find the time to do my art in "the real world" will translate back into better, more effective classroom activities. In other words, it would do most art teachers a world of good, as far as empathy and understanding with exactly how and why most folks abandon creative self-expression, to spend some time back in the trenches themselves. That is, again, if they're not already fighting the tide enough as it is, juggling a full-time teaching schedule. I know from personal experience that during teaching summer session courses and being on campus 10-12 hours a day, five days a week, for six weeks, there was simply no logistical way I could possibly see any freelance gigs through. And even the weekly funnies had to be done many months in advance, which in turn created a its own stress by filling up the schedule far ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, art classes offer an idyllic oasis of opportunity to establish a bulkhead against the inexorable effect of Life grinding away, and getting in the way. And unfortunately, for many, if not most, then it gets away, relegated to the "I'll get around to it... someday" - not exactly a bucket-list, maybe more of a fuck-it list.

Metastasizing, growth, remission

Here’s some random trivia on how stats for the blog are doing: according to the Picasa web-albums tally, so far 3,850-odd images have been uploaded, and Ink & Snow is averaging about three thousand visits a month; around a hundred a day, with weekend traffic spiking up to a high of a couple hundred hits per day. To date there’s been almost 40k visits to the site. Cross-posting on Facebook seems to be a fairly good way to put up an occasional sign-post for folks to check in, with Sundays and Mondays appearing to be the times when people catch up either at home over the weekend or on the first day back at work.

Of interest has been monitoring the Google keyword searches from that attract the occasional visitor, and by far and away the biggest draws continue to be the Alex Rydlinski/Turbid North artwork post (over 700 views), and also the attention from a hat-tip linkage by Andy Runton to my gig review for Maine Comic Arts Festival (272 views in one day). The “Storyboarding” and “Don Martin” posts are two top popular perusals (several hundred views of each to date), as are reviews of individual artist shows such as Rachelle Dowdy and Lacie Stiewing’s work. "It's not me... it's you!"

The all-time majority of viewers are using Windows (over 60%) operating system (Macs around 30%) and about a tie between either Firefox or Explorer as the preferred browser (around 35% each). The overwhelming numbers of viewers by country reside in the United States (over 27k) and Canada and the UK (over 1k each) with readers also in Germany, Russia, India, Australia, the Netherlands, South Korea and France.

Regardless of from where, or for why folks drop by, thank you: it’s always appreciated on my end, and it’s no small measure of comfort when I’m far away from friends and family to feel a little less disconnected, even if in a virtual sense.

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