Friday, October 29, 2010

Why create?

Why? Why create?

I ask myself this question quite often.

Most of the time the answer is for distraction or relaxation.

It's never been for money with me. Probably never will be.

Creating for money
The thing about "creating" for money, (well there are lots of things about "creating" for money, but I’ll just mention the main one for me) is the issue regarding return on investment.

It’s pretty simple. The return on investment (ROI) has to be equal to or greater than the investment.

For example, when I created the drunk trunk, I had to prep, paint, decoupage, and polyurethane the thing. It was at least 20 solid hours of craft work. Then include drying time for the paint and polyurethane -- 24 hours per coat of paint (2 coats) and 72 hours for polyurethane. Then there is time for touch-ups, final reassembly, hardware, etc.

Let's not forget to add the cost of materials -- trunk, paint, irreplaceable ephemera items, polyurethane, paint brushes, and the list goes on.

If I charged $10 an hour, I'd be at $200 just for the initial 20 hours of craft work. It's been listed for $150 on Etsy for almost 2 years now. I’m sure there are many reasons that it hasn’t sold. I’m also sure if it was much cheaper, it would increase the odds of selling.

But why would I want to do that? To save the world with cheap drunk trunks for all? I think not.

In this case, after adding up the dollars-per-hour and the material/overhead cost, it is clear that the ROI is nil on this creation.

But does that mean that I should not have created it? No.

The drunk trunk sits in the corner of the guest room and does its job just perfectly -- holding everything an overnight guest would need.

But how many drunk trunks can a person make for them self? Two was my limit.

So why? Why create?

To fill our own homes with trunks and paintings and knitted scarves? No, but that's where I'm at now.

To give away as gifts? Good idea -- in theory.

Creating for others
This is another thing about “creating.” Gifting a personalized original creation to an unsuspecting recipient is always awkward and usually borderline gut-wrenching for me.

I’ve given it up.

There is nothing worse than spending hours pouring over a handmade gift for a loved one -- the whole time thinking how this creation is perfect for the person and will be the COOLEST.THING.EVER. --  just to end up with no acknowledgment of the gesture at all.

I would rather hear, “What the fuck is this pile of shit!?!” than silence.

Silence is like a loaded gun.

I've gotten some of my best feedback on a painting from an eight-year-old. Kids are awesome because they don't associate guilt with honesty yet. There is no filter. It's refreshing. Now, everytime I look at that painting I see what she was talking about and want to make the change.

Initial reactions
So many times I've watched the look on people's faces as I show them my crafts and it's a pretty interesting observation in interpersonal communication.

Their faces will show the immediate first reaction - smile, grimace, confusion (this one is popular) and then almost immediately it's wiped away and replaced with a look of social anxiety. The anxiety of giving an opinion - committing one way or another. Feeling guilty that if their honesty doesn't please me, that I'll be upset.

But I won't be upset about how you feel about it, I'll be upset if you can't be bothered to feel anything about it.

My dad has a great non-committal way of showing interest. He looks, observes, acknowledges. He exclaims, "Neat!" and then throws a handful of roasted peanuts in his mouth and chomps away. (It's funny how the peanuts always magically appear at the perfect time.)

But this is fine with me because at least I can see that he took a moment of his life to look at mine and that means a lot.

So why? Why create?

Well, I had a breakthrough recently -- or at least I am closer to understanding why.

I was meditating the other day and I tried to pull up an image in my mind that represents the love that Jason and I have for each other. I couldn’t think of an existing image in my head to fully represent that love.

So then I started to create one in my head. The layers and lines laid themselves out and the color filled itself in.

I had to CREATE this image. I had to get it out. I had to see it in real life.

I looked through the arts and crafts materials I have on hand.

I chose my weapons and my medium -- water soluble oil pastel crayons, paint brush and 140lb watercolor paper.

I sat down. Time stood still.

I created the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made -- because it is beautiful to me.

And now every time I close my eyes, I can bring up this image and it makes me warm and happy. And that is the best ROI that I could ask for.

So why create?

I create to project my visions into the real world of things that make me feel good.

Maybe you'll enjoy it, maybe not.

That’s okay because it’s not for you, really, it’s for me.

And that's why I create.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dog's Life

jDog's Life
(written Spring 2005)

I wish I had a dog's life.
Not a care in the world.
No inhibitions.
No social fears or commitments.
No anxiety about money or life.
Just living to be loved.
Plain and simple.
A scratch on the head is good stuff to a dog and a scratch on the ass is what life is made of.
Always happy to see me.
Never mad at me for more than a second.
Never bringing up shit that hurts to think about.
Only trying to convey, without words, his unconditional love for me.
In return, I take care of him like I would my own child.
He has no worries - except maybe that I won't come back from the store.

What a simple life?
No puzzle here.

He lives to love, be loved and share life.
His purpose is simple - love all that surrounds him and enjoy a late Spring day in the park with me.
Even though I forgot the water - he won't hound me, he will only love me.

Will I ever be able to boil it down to such simplicity in my life?

Why must I complicate things so much?

Why is my brain so fucking hyper-active?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Haiku: Power outtage

Sitting in warm sunny spot
waiting for power
taking pictures of myself

Friday, October 15, 2010

Florence + The Machine

I can't take my eyes off of this amazing creature.

Her voice, her power, her fluidity, her individuality.


This is "Dog Days are Over" from their debut album Lungs - which I'm going to run out and buy right now!

Can't wait to hear what else is in Flo's Lungs.

Happy weekend!

Post Edit: Album acquired! I love it!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Pearl Jam - Just Breathe (unofficial video)

Please listen to this.

Yes I understand that every life must end, aw huh,..
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, aw huh,..
I’m a lucky man to count on both hands the ones I love,..
Some folks just have one, others they got none, aw huh,..

Stay with me,..
Let’s just breathe.

Practiced are my sins, never gonna let me win, aw huh,..
Under everything, just another human being, aw huh,..
Yeh, I don’t wanna hurt, there’s so much in this world to make me bleed.

Stay with me,..
You’re all I see.

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t now I’m a fool you see,..
No one knows this more than me.
As I come clean.

I wonder everyday as I look upon your face, aw huh,..
Everything you gave and nothing you would take, aw huh,..
Nothing you would take,.. everything you gave.

Did I say that I need you?
Oh, Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t now I’m a fool you see,..
No one know this more than me.
As I come clean.

Nothing you would take,.. everything you gave.
Hold me till I die,..
Meet you on the other side

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

NuArt and Old Goodbyes

With the end of Summer and the start of Fall, comes new beginnings and old goodbyes.

These are a few oil pastel drawings that I've done over the past few months. I really like using the oil pastel crayons because I can do a whole drawing in few hours rather than a few days with oil paint.

This one is called "The Big Goodbye."

Jason also posted a podcast called "The Big Goodbye" recently.

This was a dedication show for Waylon Jennings I put together back in March of 2002. I call it "Goodbye". All about that big goodbye. We are here and not, all at once. The dance around the black void of uncertainty which fuels us, pulls us into her. Having to say goodbye and go it alone into the unknown rules everything. It's the root of all our doings. So hello my friend, and my friend goodbye.
"Strawberry Fields Forever"

"The Princess's View from Her Bedroom"

It seems like this year has carried a central theme of patience for us.

We've been busy trying to quelch all the anxious thoughts running rampid in our brains with art and distraction. Simultaneously wishing that life would hurry up and unfold what it has in store for us, while noticing the blaring sirens of life passing us by at warp speed.

Making new art and revisiting old art has a way of completing the cycle for me. I can look back over the years and remember exactly what was going on in my life as the season changed and realize how much has stayed the same.

Mad Season has a song called "I'm Above" that I always think of as the seasons change because the lyrics are so true.

Life reveals what is dealt through seasons
Circle comes around each time
I've been blessed with eyes to see this
Behind the unwhole truth you hide
Bite to remind the bitten, bigger
Mouth repaying tenfold wide
My favorite line is "Bite to remind the bitten, bigger." It's so true, because it's easy for all of us to fall back into old habits and make the same mistakes again.

Here's to an uneventful Fall.

No alarms and no surprises, please.