She boxed her shadow and she won…

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She smiles like she’s so tough… She says “hey can you talk a little louder, I don’t think my heart is broken enough”…
But someday we’ll all be old & I’ll be so damn beautiful…

~ Anna Nalick, Paper Bag Anna Nalick - Wreck of the Day

So here I am. I’ve had this white canvas sitting outside the front door of my apartment. I know what I want to do with it, it’s just been a matter of… getting there. Getting up. Getting it done.

I’ve tried two times before to sketch out the start. I’ve also painted it over to start again twice, so that should tell you how well things have been going.

Then I realized I’ve just been fucking it up. Earlier this spring, I’d taken a course up at LAFAA, and one of the things that my teacher worked on with us was letting go of the details and just learning to draw from a general feel.

As anyone that knows me might guess, releasing control wasn’t something I immediately took to. For the first time in a long time, I found myself as the slow kid in art class, which really sucked. It wasn’t that what I was doing was bad, exactly, just that it wasn’t.. there was no spark to it. I can’t describe to you what it means to have spark, other than that when you’re creating, either it’s there or it’s not. The work was mechanically correct, but there was no life to it, if that makes sense.

Then, towards the end of the semester, we just started working with pure charcoal dust – no pencils, no real detail available, just a cloth to apply powder to paper, and a round brush to shade and move things around.

Oddly enough, in the complete absence of any tools, I found my spark again. things just… worked. Starting from shadows worked. Concentrating on the darknesses…worked.

That in mind, when I decided what I was going to paint for my first piece, I wanted to do something that would take advantage of that new technique – darkness in focus, shadows telling the story.

What I figured out today was that my philosophy was correct, but I forgot to change my approach.

I’ve been trying to sketch out everything, thinking that I’d just get it all down & darken out what I didn’t need later. Too much information, as Eric would say. I sat in front of the canvas today & decided to just cut out everything I didn’t need.

If you ever watch the show Batman – The Animated Series, you can see that there’s a darkness to the style of animation, as compared to say, Superman: The Animated Series — they’re the same animation house, but the two look very different – Batman is much more noir, a much heavier style. The reason for this is that when they were creating the Batman series, they started with black paper. They started with darkness.

I thought about that today as I sat in front of this blank white canvas. I thought about it, and I ditched my mechanical pencil. (This is a giant step for me – I’ve been known to create entire 18×24″ pieces using a 2mm mechanical pencil. Like I said, it’s possible I have some issues with details.) I ditched my mechanical pencil, went into my office, and got out my willow charcoal.  And then I turned on my projectoricon and started again.

This time, I just went for the shadows. I concentrated on my negative space, and sketched out the shadows.

The result? It didn’t suck. So I took advantage of the inroad, got out some paint for the first time in… at least three years, and I spent an hour laying down the first color layer for the right side of the canvas. It wasn’t awesome, it won’t hang in the Louvre any time soon, but I was struck my how happy I found myself. Not even happy, per se, so much as just… content. It felt good to paint again.


In the meantime, I need to work on paying the bills. The part time gig that I’d been hoping for this fall fell through – ironically enough, not because I wasn’t qualified, not because I hadn’t done the work to earn the position, but because someone else has… well, we’ll just call them personal issues. As much as I love my sport, sometimes I really wish that they knew about things like… HR departments, ’cause jesus I’m tired of people’s personal crap — while I suspect I may have managed to at least clear my name on a personal level, I fear my professional chances are hereby classified as “screwed”.

This leaves me with basically two options:
1. Stick around – maybe be a volunteer and have to putter around, never getting any further than I am now.

2. Save my pennies and move. Get outta dodge & go somewhere that I won’t have to be the one that pays for other people’s inability to deal with their own fucking emotional immaturity.

There are other places. I could go to San Diego – I know there would be a place for me there, that I’d be welcome. They have the facilities to do what I’d want to accomplish, and I know I’d get paid for it. I could go to grad school – we’re pretty sure I have 5 years of NCAA eligibility, and a rower with 4 years experience and a 1.51 split on a 2k is never an unwelcome thing.

I just… I don’t want to leave. I love my team that I row with. I built my team. I’d hate to leave them. I loved coaching. I really did, and while the logical adult in me understands the need to go somewhere else, to help another team win, my overdeveloped sense of loyalty hates the idea of it.

But before that, I need to take care of me. Which is probably going to mean getting a crappy part time job in retail or Starbucks or something so that I don’t have to keep pulling unemployment – or at least to get myself that much closer to getting off unemployment. The freelance work I have now is good, and it’s there, but it’s not enough for me to be fully independent, and that’s what I need to work on.

So, I’ll start applying – I hear the Whole Foods near me needs people, and my next door neighbor is a manager at Urban Outfitters, he says they need overnight stockers, which would be nice – if I’m going to work retail, it’d be nifty to have a position that doesn’t actually involve customers. I really don’t want to go back to an office – if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that I’ve lost all tolerance for the 9-to-5 game.

In the meantime, I’ll also work on my affiliate blog – I made enough of the pages at my last employer, it’s not like I don’t know how it’s done. See if maybe the internet can’t help me out a bit as well.

Mostly, I’m just tired of this shit. I’m tired of games, and I’m tired of trying to figure out what’s going on underneath what’s going on. I don’t understand why people can’t just sit the fuck down and talk about shit – why they need to make everything so complicated. I wish it wasn’t that way. I wish I could trust. I wish… I wish I hadn’t learned that in the end, seven is just like eight.

But none of that matters right now. What matters right now is dollars and cents. What matters is getting myself free of depending on anyone else. What matters is making sure that I’m okay, because I have learned without a doubt that no one else is going to help me do that.

Today, I had a small victory – I painted. Tomorrow, I go to look for a job, and begin the fight again.

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