cracking open my creative blocks

Last weekend I went to the final meeting of my 6-month art class. It was an intense experience, and the best, most challenging instruction on creativity and visual art I’ve ever had.

I went into the class pretty lost about what my motivations were for making art, and how I’d find my style and voice in the craft. Going to art classes all throughout high school and college, it always felt like I was being pushed to make things look more realistic. Whatever personal flavor happened to manifest in the final works sorta felt accidental. After a while, I realized that making things look accurate was a waste of time given how you can use any number of digital tools to do it for you. I loved getting sucked into a project, but the objective of art—which seemed to coming at me suggestively from all sides socially—to make cool, somewhat realistic looking shit, began to feel hallow and stupid.

Anyway, this class really helped to drag me out of this rut. More than anything, it gave me the tools to experiment so I could continue to explore what my aesthetic voice is. I’m really excited to use these new methods and try it on some other kinds of media besides charcoal on newsprint.

I thought these three drawings from the last session do a good job of reflecting my evolving approach to and thinking around my visual aesthetics. Each one was made in < 7 minutes.

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some of my "extracurriculars"

I’ve been spending most of my non-work time on classes and projects lately. It feels great and fulfilling and they’re each activating different skills n interests of mine. Here are the main ones:

* art class *

The first, major thing is my art class. I’m a third of the way through the course (it goes til June) and it continues to be enlightening, sometimes frustrating, and intense overall. The main thing I’m getting out of it is the practice of reflecting on personal habits and patterns of behavior, and allowing myself to be curious about whether they hinder richer experiences in my life. It’s all done through the lens of “mark making,” but it’s affecting even the smallest things about my daily activities– whether it’s to change up my bike route to/from work, my cooking, or the style of my writing. If I have a lull at any point, I sometimes force myself to resist reaching for my phone, and instead try and observe the environment and things around me so I’m more present.

The drawing below just happens to look like a person, because our mark making is only meant to capture our reaction and feelings in response to the poses the model makes before us. But I like it, and it’s a good example of how far we’re going in this class to deconstruct our creative processes. For the most part it’s enjoyable, but as I said, it can be frustrating at times. It takes a lot of effort to try and resist your habits, and to challenge the comfortableness with new ways of doing and experiencing can be, well, uncomfortable.

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* everett alumni foundation*

It’s been slow to start, but things are finally rolling forward with the Everett Alumni Foundation, which is a non-profit I incorporated to network the alumni, partners, and friends of the Everett Program at UC Santa Cruz and to give financial grants and mentorship to students. We got out our first newsletter a few days ago and will be fundraising in the coming week. woop!

* dance *

I’ve been getting back into dance. I finally made it to Dance Mission Theater right next to the 24th St. BART and took a West African dance class with live drumming, which has been one of my favorites at other studios. I love the dance from that general region because the movements tend to be big, energetic, somewhat ~sensual~, and feels natural in a way that ballet (for me at least) totally doesn’t.

* flash mob theater *

Then I’ve also started working on choreographing another piece for my protest flashmob group, Get Up Street Theater (GUST). We have one on the environment, called Toxic, and another on militarism/law enforcement/lack of accountability in government, called They Don’t Care About Us. The new one is going to be about surveillance. The common complaint among people has been that there’s too high of a barrier to participate because they need to learn all the choreography, so this time we’re mixing in a good amount of other theatrics with it so anyone who shows up can decide to participate. Pretty excited about this one.