Journal excerpt 3/12/2012

March 14, 2012

………..It didn’t really go as smoothly as one could hope for, the exchange between myself and this one teacher at UNCC.  I mean it started because my coworker, Andrea, whom also teaches at UNCC, connected me with one of her colleagues who was interested in arranging to have some kits made for her students.  A kit is of course a sort of collection of art supplies specified by the teacher and the student pays a set amount and at times we deliver them.  But in the email exchanges that ensued between myself and this teacher I speak of, miscommunication occurred.  It was not deliberate or bad by any means but for some reason the teacher ended up upset.  And she called my boss to resolve some issues, and my boss took my side strangely enough, which is what I don’t feel so great about, because I want to give excellent customer service on all levels and I am simply sorry that that is now how this situation transpired.

Nevertheless all calmed down and I found myself walking the halls of UNCC this morning when my phone rang.  I had already been chasing after my dreams at this point, and continued to do so all day in fact.

Do you ever have days where your dreams from the night before repeatedly flash before your eyes, over and over, but you can hardly put words to these so called memories?  That was today for me.  It was as if the blood were flowing in my brain, coursing over some certain point causing images to flash and pop and sizzle.  But not enough so that I could put words to what I was seeing.  The only thing I was ever able to come up with was something about this guy that my friend Cindy described as her boss a few days ago in a conversation we shared on a bike ride together.  I think that that person that appeared in my mind when Cindy was describing him during this conversation our on ride, that was who was in my dream.  But I do in fact remember seeing my phone in my dream from last night, with Cindy’s name flashing across it as if she were calling me, and so there I was walking down the hall at UNCC this morning when that dream came true.  Cindy called me.

My phone was in my pocket and there are classrooms all around me, and teachers in their respective offices, and it rings and I answer and it’s Cindy, her name flashing across the screen just as it did in my dream.  We talked for a few brief moments and I continued on to the classroom and thankfully and gracefully the teacher who had been upset was kind and warm and welcoming, and I dropped off that heavy box of their kits that I was there to deliver, and we sorted through that box passing them all out to the students who were present, and then I pushed the handtruck I had brought with me back down the hall, no heavy box attached to it this time, just empty space there.

Then suddenly I saw one of my best friends from high school, some twenty years ago, cross the hall right in front of me just at the place where I had answered my phone, and I stopped to say hello to Louise and she was surprised to see me and did not recognize me with my beard I’d never had as a teenager.

It was so nice to just tell her, ‘it’s so nice to see you,’ and I kept on chasing after my dreams, still unable to fully grasp what I had seen, all except for Cindy’s phone call just as clear as day.

The whole idea though of me delivering these kits this morning was that not only would I be able to do just that, I would also knock out another brick in the wall and meet with two teachers for an appointment about some demos since it is a lengthy drive for us out to University City Blvd.  So I pushed my little grey handtruck back down the hall, spoke to Louise, rode down the elevator, spilled out onto the walkway outside, and crossed the street to another building where I was to meet these two teachers.  And I am chronically early wherever I go these days and there was no exception to that this morning, so I sat in the lobby for twenty minutes before I proceeded upstairs to room 272 where our meeting was to take place.

I am still pushing my handtruck of course because I have been forbidden to leave it in the back of my truck unattended.  I stand outside of the office where we are to meet, and I stand and stand, and wait and wait, and one of the teachers is running late.  The other teacher pokes her head out the door of the painting studio to confirm my arrival but tells me to let her know when her colleague has arrived.  But he never shows up.  So I meet with this other person by herself, then she takes me to a classroom where the other guy is letting his class out late.

I explain to both of them, one on one each of them, that my demo will show the slow-drying properties of the slow-drying paints as compared to the regular acrylics and a fifty-fifty mixture of the two.  They both seem delighted and I am still chasing after my dreams of Cindy’s boss but still can’t quite grasp them, so I drive back to the store to drop off the handtruck into safe and secure hands.

Then I bask in a few glorious moments at Starbucks before my regularly scheduled shift this afternoon at work.  I call my friend Van as I am writing in my journal at Starbucks and he doesn’t answer but calls back almost immediately.  We are in the process of applying for a grant for our photography program at a local agency and the deadline is this Friday.  Three of us are hard at work on our application.  That’s why he called me early this morning and that’s why I am calling him back now.  I am listening to my iPod in one ear and talking on the phone with Van, all while trying to get a refill and the barista there at the coffeeshop is telling me that they are all out of iced coffee and I am telling Van to hold on a moment and somehow all of this too seems reminiscent of my dream from last night.  But I just can’t seem to place what it was.  I just can’t remember what I dreamed about last night…………..

Miscellaneous Sketchbook/Journal pages

February 9, 2012

Self-portraits 10/30/2011

October 30, 2011

Freedom and Intellectuality as Goals

October 30, 2011

I recall a time in college when my own personal freedom was high on my priority list.  I don’t think I quite knew what that meant then but I knew that I wanted to be free.  I think I took it to extremes though then, that I didn’t want to be tied down to a job or a wife or kids or even a house payment, I thought.  And while many of those ideals have more recently become more focused goals of mine, I think strangely enough that a few days ago I realized that I have achieved, albeit without any special effort on my own part, that freedom that I was seeking out so long ago.  In fact, that freedom is a cornerstone of my current happiness.

I suppose it is true that these observations occurred to me because I felt suddenly that there are so many people in my life that I am close to that seem to be seeking out financial gain with all of their efforts, and, it also seemed that I myself am not like these others in most ways.  I know, to say that other people in my life are seeking out money first is a trifle rude and judgmental, but for the sake of these arguments, this was only an observation.  And, it is also true that I myself do in fact seek out money in my own special ways but that perhaps this is such an effortless effort that it seems I am hardly trying.  Nevertheless, I suddenly felt that I could be doing more.

It suddenly occurred to me that if I really applied myself to financial gains, that I would reap the benefits of such.  But I make a conscious effort on my own part to seek out other ideals, and that’s what this is all about.

I mean that I think about those people in my life who work diligently at their full-time jobs day in and day out, over and over, and it seems to me that if you do that, that you will eventually achieve a certain amount of success.  I honestly believe that if I took a full-time job that that job would grow and evolve slowly over time until I would achieve so many of my personal goals like owning a home, or at least renting a bigger apartment, and getting married, and having kids, and on and on.  But for many reasons I choose to not do this.  It’s not that I don’t have all of those goals; it’s that I choose to spend my time in ways that make me happier.

I think that it is true that my philosophies in college, I am ashamed to say, were very much inspired by the daily consumption of marijuana I pursued then.  But, all shame aside, there seems to be some amount of truth contained within, or at least I myself have found such ideas to be true.  Money does not equal happiness, and happiness is not a result of money.  To me, having free time is so much more important.

I am a writer and an artist and a photographer, and so many other things, and all of these pursuits make me very happy.  But were I to be devoting large amounts of my time to financial gain, I would not have these creative activities because I would need to be focused otherwise.  I choose to be creative instead.

I do not know many people like myself.  I know a few that would perhaps be this way under different circumstances.  I know many that are very happy with their lives, the way that they are seeking their jobs and gains and goals.  But the bottom line for me is that I want to have the time to write and think and read and paint, that these are the activities that make me happiest.  So this is what I do.  What are my goals then, I’m asking myself?  What is it that I am doing?  Can I achieve success without being focused on monetary gains?  These are all very good questions and I hope to approach them herein.

It feels so nice sometimes to have the afternoon to have time to just go to the coffee shop and buy myself a cup of coffee and open my journal and write, or read a good book.  It feels so nice, and so healthy, to have an extra morning or two each week to not be required to wake up by alarm.  It feels so nice to stay awake as late as I can and want to because I am the type person who likes to keep late-hours, and I don’t have to be anywhere special early.  Does life have to be a nine to five, five day a week, job?  Who says you can’t live your life in other ways?  Who says there isn’t any benefit to it?

The question though is am I being very smart living my life in this way.  So much of our society is in fact based upon having a full-time job and seeking out those values.  Am I ultimately setting myself up for failure living my life this way?  It also seems that seeking out financial gain is in fact very intelligent, right, and safe and secure.  Am I discounting these priorities?  Does all of this even make sense?  That remains to be seen.

I have a lot of personal goals and you know this if you know me well, so it is not as if I am ignoring my future and myself.  Creativity ranks among my highest priorities, and my writing and thinking and philosophizing.  And I want to make art and paint and photograph, and I want to teach others all about these pursuits.  But if money isn’t my goal in these efforts, what then is?  And this is exactly my point; that I am seeking out after something else.  To me, what is of value is intellectuality.  To me, what is of value is the creative process.  To me, what is of value is writing my next book.  These are all things that require my time and motivations in their own unique way.  Success in these areas is more important to me than having money in the bank.  Success in these areas is what I want most.

I do want to own my own home.  It hurts that I don’t sometimes.  I do want to teach at the college level, which would perhaps be the very best way that I could hold that full-time job.  But I don’t have the academic credentials required to do so, that graduate school level degree.  I do want to get married.  But I can do that anyway.  There are a lot of things that I want from this life.  It seems though sometimes that I just need to take it one day at a time, and live fully and well, and the rest will fall into place.

There is so much that I want and not even all of these dreams coming true is going to make me fully happy.  I will always want something else.  Somehow I have come to the realization that I need to be happy with what I do have rather than complain about what I don’t have.  Since I’ve put this into practice my life has changed in every way.

Recently, I have been spending a lot of time deep in study.  I have probably read more than thirty books this year and I have written numerous essays and personal statements, and I have painted a lot and done drawings, and I am very happy about all of this.  As I thought a few days ago about all of these values that have developed in me these last few years, it also occurred to me that I really need to set some goals in these areas of interest.  It has been difficult though to see what direction I am going in each of these areas.

Like with my writing for instance, it is true that I write nearly every day.  But it is difficult to quantify my progress except to say that I am seeing changes occur.  Where am I going with my writing?  Also, where am I going with my reading and my painting?  It seems that I am after something but it is difficult to say what.  I think though, as I said earlier, intellectuality is the goal.  That is what I am after.

Intellectuality is the pursuit of mental activity.  That would define rather well what it is that I am doing.  I am constantly trying to learn about something.  I am constantly reading books and writing and thinking.  I want to make things with my hands.  And, just as the other folks in my life that I have observed that are seeking out their jobs and seemingly, financial gains, so it is true that I am seeking out intellectuality.

Just as it is true that I see these others climb their ladders to success and more and more money and better situations, so too am I watching myself grow smarter and wiser and more able.  I, too, see gains in my life.  They may not be monetary gains, but they are important and worthy anyway.

I think back to one of the first times in college it came up in conversation with a friend this idea of being free.  I remember that we were sitting in the woods near a lake when my friend asked me about all of this, when he asked me if I knew what being free was all about.  It was a brand new idea for me and I latched onto it.  Never did I imagine though that I would experience freedom that I do in the way that I am now.  I am so blessed.  And I hope that I continue to learn and grow.  I know that I will.

Blue Ridge Parkway trip

October 20, 2011

I recently drove the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway with my friend, Bill.  It took us four days at a bit too quick of a pace, and we camped the whole way.  It was great fun!  These are two memorable photos from our last morning there.  We woke up to watch the sunrise from a nice, high vantage point and as soon as it came up we got going again and we rounded a corner to see the clouds below as such like in the second photo.  Beautiful!

Composition as Element

October 20, 2011

For a while during college I made found object sculptures.  These works of art arose because I had assignments in one of my classes but it became quite the pursuit for me, and for several years in fact.  I can still remember hanging out with a friend one day and him telling me about a rubble-pile a few doors down from his apartment, and I went to that pile that very day and started to pull out random pieces of wood and metal that were going to be discarded anyways, and I took them back to my studio at school and I began to configure them into these sculptures.  It felt magical the way that each piece of wood had a character of its own and would fit like a puzzle piece onto another piece of wood that also had much charisma.  These were some of my first experiences with the element of composition.

I also can remember some of my early interests into photography and how I learned about something called ‘the thirds rule’.  The thirds rule states that when you compose a photograph you should never center your subject matter into the very center of the picture plane, but rather, into one of the three thirds.  I can remember countless times taking a portrait of a friend and looking through my viewfinder and feeling that the picture was so right when I would rotate the lens to focus on the eyeballs and then just slightly shift that subject to the right or the left or up or down so that that person was in exactly that perfect place.  I knew exactly what the thirds rule was all about as soon as I learned it; it became intuitive to position my subject matter in this way; and it felt so right.

If there is any one single, common thread that runs through all of the creative work I have done through the years, it has been the idea of composition.  It has literally invaded every aspect of all of my artistic and literary pursuits and accomplishments.  Composition, I believe, is vitally important to my trade and profession and interests.  It is vitally important to every artist, photographer, and writer.  To know composition is to know the recipe for success.

Another image that comes to mind is that of myself as a boy in my childhood bedroom cleaning up after my mother has asked me to, after the weekly chores have been doled out.  I remember myself picking up my clothes from the floor and depositing them into the dirty clothes hamper, and putting toys back into the closet and the toy box, and shelving books.  Slowly but surely the room begins to take tidy shape and one feels so relieved when an activity such as this is finished and achieved; I still in fact feel this way when doing this task as an adult.

I run this parallel because composition, for me, has also been about organization.  In the same way that I cleaned my room as a boy, in the same way that I saw things evolve from disorder into order, from filth into cleanliness, so too do I see such an evolution occur when I am making art.  Knowing good composition is about having higher organizational skills.

Most of those first pieces of wood for my found-object sculptures from that rubble-pile were old and decaying to a certain degree.  The rubble-pile was from an antique-era house whose basement was being gutted and remodeled.  There was a lot of wood but I instinctively chose the ones with the best shapes and nuances.  Many of the pieces had scaly, chipped paint and others I painted myself.  There was such a beauty in having several of these pieces out in front of me laying on the floor in my studio as I made my decisions about how I would attach them to one another, and about how they looked best together.  Sometimes my decisions were based on the color of the individual components and other times it was the shapes that caused me to act, to hammer in a few nails.  But there was both a conscious and a visceral decision that was made.  I considered all of the characteristics and relied heavily on composition before I called them complete.

I have also done a fair amount of painting through the years, most especially in the last few in fact as this discipline has been more closely related to my job.  Painting also calls upon composition as an element.  It is amazing the way that all of the colors and shapes and lines work together in so many layers and textures in my paintings; I have been amazed time and time again watching these pieces come to fruition.

I developed a process with my painting that went through an evolution of sorts but just as in photography in painting there is a picture plane that one works with, and good composition requires a certain balance and quality in order for it to be correct and aesthetically-sound.  I learned to paint one layer very quickly and then when it had dried to paint on another layer, and at that point the process became about knowing when to stop.  Adding the second layer made the painting sufficiently complex but it was only when the piece looked and felt right; when the composition was correct; that was when it became done.  I have many pieces that I am proud of and the best of these have the strongest composition.

Strangely enough I think that the most profound feelings I currently have about composition and my creative processes comes from the writing that I have done recently.  It is likely true that the reason I feel so strongly about my writing is because it has been the most dominant of the mediums that I have pursued as of late.  I have put more time into my writing than into any other pursuit, so it is no wonder that I feel this way.  But still, it is worth pointing out that when I write I notice that I am doing essentially the very same action that I did when I made my found-object sculptures, and when I took photographs more often, and when I paint.  I am essentially configuring my words and thoughts so that they look good together, so that all that parts work as a whole, so that everything is positioned correctly.

I find this to be intriguing because writing is not a visual art like the other disciplines that I have discussed.  Writing is different.  But still good composition comes into play.  This is perhaps how I could theorize that this element is integral to many varied paths.  Knowing and understanding good composition is of the best intellectual capacities.  I believe this to be true.

When I am writing though it feels so often as if I am perhaps weaving some sort of beautiful tapestry with my words, that there are so many layers that wind up and down and all around one another and over and under and back and forth.  It feels as if my words are part of some complex puzzle, that each paragraph and sentence fits into the other paragraphs and sentences and it is my job to figure out how and make the image complete.  It is an incredible and rich feeling when I am writing.  It is the greatest joy.

I went to school for art and derive much satisfaction from it but in the last few months my productivity in this regard has slowed considerably.  It is not that I have lost interest but that I have given so much time to my writing and to literary studies that the artistic side of me has fallen by the wayside.

It occurred to me though recently that I really ought to consider becoming more active again with my painting and other visual arts and it also occurred to me that maybe I should just generally focus upon the subject of composition, that that could perhaps be the necessary ingredient to such motivations, to simply study composition in all of its varied forms.  Perhaps there could even be other artforms and possibilities that would open up to me if I did so, I thought.  Images of collage journals and photography and more sculptures flashed before my eyes, all focused on good composition.  I would become an expert.  We will see, I suppose.

An Analysis of my Writing Process

September 27, 2011

My current writing process is circular and is as follows:

  1. I write an essay.
  2. My mind becomes empty to any further ideas immediately following.
  3. I begin a soul-searching process that lasts several days.
  4. I uncover a new idea and write a new essay.
  5. The process starts all over again.

 

My soul-searching process consists of the following:

  1. Writing in a variety of ways in a variety of journals.
  2. Writing and conversing with a writing buddy on a weekly basis.
  3. Reading books.

 

I have written numerous essays since April of this year and my ideas have arisen specifically from:

  1. My free-writing journal, a place where I keep timed entries on random topics.
  2. From reading philosophy texts.
  3. Directly from conversations with friends and peers.
  4. From topical journals, journals that I keep on specific subjects like my apartment for instance.
  5. From my new stream-of-consciousness journal that I keep when I am short on time.

 

I am beginning to realize that variety is important in my soul-searching processes.  Some new ideas I have about ways I can uncover new essays are:

  1. To write more like I read, and keep as many subject-specific journals just as I read on subject-specific topics.
  2. To write letters to friends to see if ideas and thoughts arise that way.
  3. To focus more intently on specific subjects in my reading as if I were attempting to become an expert, like on journaling for instance.

Superficial pattern in the whole Scheme of things

September 4, 2011

Walking through Time on sidewalks

September 4, 2011

Essay

September 4, 2011


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