Saturday, September 1, 2018

Musings: Mumble + Drool

Dip-pen + doppio = creative juices

Over the many years I've have to tacitly admit to not really feeling all that joyful over making art - more and more it becomes a job to do, whether I feel inspired or not. That may come as a horrible news to some, even be anathema to the many freespirited artsy-fartsy folks whose purity means never getting down & dirty with the reality. But that's it, that's the distinction between every single person whose work I personally admire - there's almost always an accompanying work ethic involved. Scroll down to the "Top Posts" index on the right-hand side of the blog and peruse any of those posts to get a good idea of my perspective + opinion on the issue (also try searching the website in the "Topic" list under the "Art/Work" category.).

I recently came across the work of cartoonist Mark Stivers, researching the above piece after seeing it reposted - sans credit or even a signature - and ever since then have been enjoying his blog. I'm now including it in my show & tells to my art students, as it perfectly encapsulates the distinction I stress about discipline in drawing. It also serves as a great flashpoint in debate about the extent to which artwork becomes work - as in, when the hobby becomes a real job. I've found it incredibly controversial if not downright divisive at times amongst my peers as well, almost as much as Bob Ross.

Even though I have an official quoteworthy mantra regarding compost heaps and mental mulch-piles,  now can be added the bonus metaphorical mulling: Note tabletop littered with discarded pupa skins after the metamorphosis of ideas is complete.
“There is nothing more tiring than to sit by yourself trying to be funny.”B. Kliban

There's no waiting All I have to really say is that you better be damn ready when & if inspiration does reach right on out and grab you. Better still to already be working anyways, so that you will already have a pen in hand, ready to get it out on the piece of paper.

Another train of thought that I routinely engage students with during lectures in the art class is drawing analogies between my role models or inspirational folks like Julia Child, at work in the kitchen surround by the tools of trade, with decades of experience in knowing the right tool for the right job. I equate the making of artwork like a car mechanic or musician or athlete: it's training. I'll now add to this list the profession of the dentist, especially after eyeballing the buffet of impliments at my elbow during a recent visit. Whenever I'm stressed out or scared I tend to joke nonstop as a way to deal with the situation. Like for example, dental surgery. Also, to be fair, one probably shouldn’t prescribe any drugs like, say, Valium, to cartoonists, unless you’re a dentist and can load their mouth up with hardware so as to shut them up. Still, as in all other areas of life, the best we can hope for is to try and find a way to mumble and drool our way through it all.


  1. From my journal on Thursday, August 8, 2018: "Slogging forward out of nothing more than force of habit and the unfounded optimism of living things."