Friday, May 18, 2012

Infuriating Funniness!!

So, here we go again.  True to form, it's been months since my last blog.  My impatience is wearing on me.  Why do I continue to do the things I do?  More rather, why do I NOT DO the things I NEED TO DO?!  My lack of belief in myself is taxing!

One of my last drawings was that of a friends pugs, sisters to be exact.  It was a piece that I couldn't wait to get started on! I mean, it came right after my pastel of 'The Thinker', when my beliefs in my artistic abilities were at their peak.  Only a few times in my life have I ever felt I could draw absolutely anything and now was one of those times.  I was primed and ready to dive in and get rolling!  Before any pencil stroke hit the paper, before any pencil was sharpened, before I even chose which piece of paper I'd use, I was determined to make this my signature piece.  I wanted this one to be the one that I was most proud of (and that doesn't happen very often).  I wanted this one to have my name written ALL over it.  

Let's get started!  Hmmmmm..., uhhh?  Well... that's odd.  That's weird.  That's VERY weird!  Somethings not right?  I don't get it.., wait!  WHAT THE HECK?!?!   ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?! 
The disdain and contempt for the all elusive pug drawing erupted into a modern day Mt. Vesuvius!  I hate this!!  Why can't I draw?!  From the very first stroke of the pencil, until the very last curve of my signature at the bottom right-hand corner, this drawing was a test of my patience.  Usually, drawing feels so natural, so a part of me.  The pencil feels so right, like an extension of my hand.  This time, for some reason, everything felt different.  The pencil, or should I say the pencil(s), just didn't feel right.  The strokes felt pushed, forced, not natural at all.  Many times I'd stop and look at them, examining them closely.  They were the same pencils I'd used the the past.  None of them were new!  It must be the paper, yet it came from the same tablet that I've used before.  WHAT'S GOING ON?!?!  Never in my life had something felt so unnatural as it did.  I struggled and I pushed.  I cursed and I swore.  I'd push the drawing aside, promising not to continue with this infuriating funniness.  Still, whether it was a day or two that had past or just a few hours, I'd feel the urge to pick it back up, to push myself to finish, because after all, this is what I do.  This is all I CAN do.  I draw.  

Finally..., the drawing, rightfully titled 'Sisters', was completed.  And yes, it has become my signature drawing.  It's the best work that I've produced up to this point in my life.  Why did I have so many problems?  Why so many struggles?  I'm still not sure what the true meaning was or is, but maybe it was just to show me that with a little patience, with a little perseverance, with just a little more belief in myself, all I have to do is buckle down, drive hard and all the strokes will fall into place.  

'Sister' - 11" x 14" Pencil

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

No more stinkin' thinkin'!

How appropriate that my first completed drawing of the new year is that of "The Thinker".  I spend a lot of time thinking.  Mostly a lot of "what if" thinking.  What if I had done this instead of that, when I was younger?  What if I had studied harder in school?  What if I had turned left instead of right?  What if...,  well, you get the picture.  I'm sure most of us do the same thing.  And I'm sure most people act on those "what if's" and actually make a difference in their lives, right?  Me?  I'm a thinker.  And much like "The Thinker", which is made of bronze and marble, I've been grounded, stuck in that same crouched position, hand to the chin, right elbow to the left knee, in meditation, battling with powerful internal struggles.  Yep, that's me, internal struggles abound!  But why does that have to be?  For years, that's all I ever did, "think".  But I have decided that 2012 is the year to "act".  The past is done. It's over! There's absolutely nothing I can do to change it.  All I have is the present and the future to build on and time marches on.  But why this year, why the change?  As mentioned in my previous blog, "Why George..., you're worth more died than alive", I finally came to the realization that as an artist, as a person, I do have worth.  This worth is not exactly the worth that I had expected or planned while doing all this thinking, but it is a worth none-the-less.  Because of this newly discovered virtue, a world of opportunities have presented themselves to me.  The winds of change are approaching.  It's time to pack my bags and climb aboard that little engine that could.  I've now firmly placed my hands upon my knees, leaned forward, pressed myself into an upright position, knees creaking in revolt, raised my out stretched arms and vehemently said, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!"

Monday, December 26, 2011

“Why, George… you’re worth more dead than alive.”

   Christmas has come and gone, yet the kitchen counter is still full of treat and goodies that friends made and cared to share.  Christmas cookies are my biggest weakness during this time of year.  They're so simple in their construction, yet so incredibly good!  Because of this, I've started my own Christmas tradition, that is to eat them all at once, get 'em out of sight, so I won't be tempted later.  Another tradition is to watch  "It's a Wonderful Life".  Why I only watch this during the final days leading up to Christmas is still a mystery.  For the longest time I saw myself as George Bailey, a man who had planned his whole life out, yet was continually thrown roadblocks that kept him from pursuing his dreams.  As the world and all those around him, seemed to move ahead, he was stuck in Bedford Falls.  As the movie goes and with the help of Mr. Potter, he comes to the conclusion, that maybe he's worth more dead than alive.  More times than I care to remember, I've felt this exact way.  I too was lost in my own little Bedford Falls.  All the while not realizing that I WAS moving forward, that I DO make a difference, and that within me laid dormant the potential for something good.

   Now that I've been deemed "an artist", I was commissioned to do 3 drawings as xmas gifts, as well as edit a music video.  Hard work, yes, especially the video, but I managed to complete them all with absolutely no time to spare. In fact, the video was edited and uploaded to youtube late on it's Christmas Eve deadline.  I'm not complaining mind you.  I absolutely love the creativity!  But then on December 25th something strange happened, I had my "Zuzu's petals" moment.  I heard how the video and the drawings were received..., the recipients wept, they actually wept.  Wow!  How could my work have such a reaction on others?  I was just going through the motions, head down, working hard and barreling through the process.  How in the world could I produce something that causes people to have an immediate emotional attachment to upon first glance?  Maybe, just maybe, my purpose isn't to travel the world with nothing but my belongings in a steamer-trunk.  Maybe it isn't to build high-rise buildings and elaborate bridges, but maybe it's to bring pleasure to others through my drawings, through my creativity.  I've always enjoyed giving my drawings to others and seeing the pleasure in their eyes, but this time their eyes glistened with tears.  How remarkable the act of serving others. 

Merry Christmas Mr. Potter!

                                                   The Christmas Trio

plus the music video "Leather Bound" -

P.S.  I believe everyone has a guardian angel.  Even George Bailey had one.  But I believe I have two, two angels that watch over me, that guide me and most of all..., inspire me. 

Dear Rhianna and Mike
Remember..., no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings!

Love, Mike

Friday, December 16, 2011

The demon within.

On top of my other responsibilities, which includes holding a full time position at a "sticker factory", maintaining my etsy shop (dot4dot), being an occasional logo (& sometime t-shirt) designer, and other various special projects (which sometime allow me to animate), I'm also a video editor.  Not only do I get to edit, sometimes I get to write, storyboard, and film.  I wouldn't say I'm a Jack-of-all-trades, but more that I just have the software on my computer.  I did have some minimal schooling on ALL these duties, but like my drawings, I love to see something go from concept to something tangible.

Case in point, recently I had the opportunity to help Mike Schikora, a country singer/songwriter, put together a one song video to be uploaded to YouTube for the Christmas season.  One cold night, just a couple of weeks ago, we headed out to his barn where he keeps his 3 horses, and did a quick rendition of "O Holy Night".  He wanted it impromptu, unrehearsed and rough and that's exactly what we got!  It was so refreshing not to have everything planned out, to just go with the feeling of the night.  We shot it, edited it, and then post it just a few days ago.

 Check it out!

So, where are you going with this you might ask?  The fact that this video was unscripted, and unrehearsed kept me from over analyzing everything!  As when I'm drawing, I over analyze EVERYTHING!! I'm extremely picky or what is sometimes referred to as... (insert dirty work), a perfectionist.  This can be blessing or a curse, a negative or a positive.  When everything is aligned just right and all is good with the world, beautiful things happen.  But when it's not, I have to fight to see the project to completion or I'll just push it aside and ultimately forget about it.  I have many unfinished drawings and many more made it only to the trash.  I've really struggled to overcome this shortcoming and I'm getting better at it!  I've worked hard to loosen up and not be so stiff and precise.  I recently started working with pastels again and although messy, they force me to be what I've always resisted to be, an artist.  To me an artist is free, spontaneous, unrestrained.  That's the beauty of being an artist.  There's no boundaries!  Alas, there lies my biggest demon, my belief that everything I do, must be perfect, scripted, straight lined.  If it's not..., it's trash.  Well..., it's time to exercise those demons!  If practice makes perfect, then PERFECT MAKES BORING!!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SLOW DOWN!!!! It's all moving way too fast!


Wow!  I'm now officially a "blogger".  How in the world did that happen?!  It was only just last week that I started using Facebook.  Granted, I signed up for it sometime the beginning of last summer, but I only just recently added a profile picture and am now in constant contact with my..., 31 friends.  Yes, that's what I said, 31 friends.  I only hope that a man's existence and worth is not based on the number of friends he has in Facebook alone.  

My reason for blogging is simple, my fiancee says I need to.  But now that I'm "blogging", I can see how it can help.  I'm not one to open up and share my feelings with those closest to me, but for some reason I'm more likely to open up and share my most inner feeling and emotions to complete strangers.  It's a lot like having a personal diary with a lock and key, except now everyone has a key.  Rest assured, this is not going to be one of those touchy feely blogs, although on occasions I might have one of those moments, but bare with me!  This is going to be a blog where I can share my work and experiences being an artist and to grow as one as well.  But, before I ramble too much further and lose the other half of my readers, let me tell you a little about myself. 

My story in a few paragraphs -

I grew up an Army brat and enjoyed every aspect of it.  I loved the fact that every year or two, I had the chance to pack my bags, move to another state and start all over again.  Unfortunately, I found that the end result was always the same.  I was an introvert and meeting people and making new friends was a real struggle.  But nonetheless, I grew up knowing that the military was going to be my career and IT WAS..., for about a year, but that's another blog yet to be started.  : )

It was a car accident some years ago, that introduced me to the world of the #2 pencil and everything turned upside down.  Up until that day, I thought they were only used for homework assignments and shading in the circles of those aptitude tests we all took school.  Suddenly I found that with a blank piece of paper and a well-sharpened pencil, I could create something beautiful.  For several months I was laid up recuperating from surgery and drawing kept me sane.  We’re talking pre-Oprah days and from that point on I drew absolutely EVERYTHING!  Because of this new found hobby, my future went from a planned career in the military to that of an illustrator.  Upon graduating from college, serving a short stint in the Army, I headed out into the world seeking my fame and fortune with a brand spanking new HB pencil.  By that time, I had discovered that the #2 pencil was, in fact, used only for the homework & useless tests and that an HB was the standard for what “real“ artist used.  As I struck out, I struck out… BIG TIME!  What I found, at least in the world of design and advertising, it really didn’t matter how straight you could draw a line, without an education or the proper schooling in the arts, no one was interested.  As time went on, I drew less and less and what I did draw, I gave away, threw away or hid away.

Many years later, after taking a few drawing class and being introduced to other mediums, I discovered that life is too short and wonderful to be spent locked up in some grey cubicle staring at a computer screen.  I’d much rather be surrounded by people of like mind and interests that inspire and bring out those long suppressed dreams and hidden talents that get lost through that thing called “life”.  I wanted to return to those naive days of the #2 pencil.  Those days when I drew, because I loved it and nothing was better than seeing someone’s eyes light up when I gave them something that I had placed so much love into.

Almost a year ago to the day, I opened up my etsy shop called "dot4dot".  My hope was and still is, to continue to bring joy to others and brighten up their eyes.  But, as much as I’d like to continue to hand out free drawings, the urge to eat and a place to sleep, forced me to place a value on my work.  To this day still, when someone asks me how much a print cost or how much a drawing would be, I hesitate with a price.  To me, it's only a piece of paper with a few pencil marks and consequently of no value.

Through this blog, I hope to build a belief in myself and in my abilities.  To learn to accept who I am and what I can do.  To push myself to a level way beyond what I believe I'm capable of.  To place a value on my work.  My dream is one day, when someone asks me, "What do you do?",  with the utmost confidence I can say, "I'm an artist and I can do anything!"