Tuesday, January 25, 2011

artistry and amateurism

The seasonal depression came hard the last few days, dealing with possible dreams deferred, allays by some wonderful nights with good people involving dinner, absurdist Scrabble, tea and terrible kung-fu movies. Come Sunday night, I was over most of my existential angst, buzzed on caffeine, cooking curry, mixing paints and doodling with Prismacolor pencils (not a product placement so much as they're the best colored pencils ever made), while listening to the beautifully cathartic sounds of Seattle.

My somewhat-in-laws gave me a room divider screen that belonged to their youngest and therefore has lots of indie-kid collaging and her friends' autographs all over it. It's got some generic floral design on the glass part that I'm attempting to rework into something more art nouveau than 80's suburbia, though painting on glass presents its own challenges.

Despite my own modernistic tendencies, I love intricate pattern, organic and geometric forms, inventive typography and things that are both beautiful, functional, and have some meaning to them... Islamic calligraphy and architecture, illuminated manuscripts, African fabric patterns, art nouveau ornamentation, Eastern Orthodox iconography, Byzantine motifs, Tibetan cave paintings, graffiti on the Red Line, old churches, rusty bridges, handpainted signage, Indian miniatures and textiles, Japanese woodcuts, Durer's engravings.

Parents, this is what happens when you take your girls to art museums instead of Radio Disney concerts at a young age, read them Tolkien instead of Twilight, and drive through the hood instead of taking the freeway, and find your rusty eggplant-colored station wagon stalling out every time Led Zeppelin comes on the radio as you cross the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge. Be forewarned. This might also render them undateable as well, since shopping for new Prismacolor pencils and liquid acrylic paints will become infinitely more exciting than new clothes and makeup.

The combination of depressingly beautiful music and art supplies has served me well through good times and bad, and in a way it's probably good I don't have roommates anymore, so I don't have to worry about them being bothered by prints drying on the dining room table, the smell of spraypaint, or their boyfriends and parents being weirded out by the "artsy" roomie with the red-paint-stained hands and strange music who never seems to have anything else to do on Saturday night besides scrawl on giant pieces of paper and listen to Soundgarden.

People I used to know would have parties where they'd drink wine and paint or do crafty things in groups, but I've always worked best alone on late weekend nights, where there's large unpunctuated blocks of time and solitude, an ample supply of Cafe Caribe espresso, and a stack of CDs. It's not so much for ambition as much as personal enjoyment.

Living in an economically depressed and depopulated city with the legacy of robber barons has been its own strange blessing, because the cost of living is low, the art museum is free, and culture of all kinds easy to come by.


Randal Graves said...

Fucking hippies, how do they paint?

That's one obstacle I've never been able to overcome: my girls will watch the LOTR flicks til the cows come home to raid our fridge, but I could never get them to crack open the actual text. Philistines!

Social Workers for the Damned said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thatgirl said...

Movies are easier to watch and despite their epic lengths, take less time.

I'm sure the same is true about the infinitely inferior 'Gone With the Wind' as well.

thatgirl said...

Oh and by the way, if I'm a hippie, then so are you.


urbanmonk said...

wow another person on the globe who would rather paint on saturday night... who would have thought

Randal Graves said...

Slayer eats hippies for breakfast.