Friday, February 08, 2008
Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent
Again: "Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent." That's a quote from Calvin Coolidge, of all people. I read it today (Feb. 8, my BIRTHDAY), and it stunned me. You see, I've always thought of myself as talented, and, you know, a special human being. I've been tested as having a really high I.Q., and I taught myself to draw as an adult, and now work as a professional artist, of sorts. And I have this wild, roaming streak which has led me on lots of travels and lots of jobs, meeting lots of people, lots of women, etc... "I'm unique!" I keep thinking... But I've had this "underachiever" sensibility, thinking it cool, or, I don't know... I just have never really wanted to "try too hard" at anything. ...Perhaps fearing failure? And in recent years I've gained weight, and now look like a real bum (and I feel that way, too). But today I read that quote. It was in a book about exercise, actually. I bought the book yesterday, and started reading it today, with the intention of "getting in shape again." (I once was quite the athlete.) Well, really, I simply want to be able to spend a long day painting murals without feeling horrible, or go sailing for a week and not kill myself from exhaustion. These are tough things, and they're what I want to do, and so I REALLY must improve my physical condition. ...But back to that quote. Man, those words sting me. Which is a good thing. I mean, ME, COMMON? No WAY, dude! But there it is. I AM common. I agree with that quote. ...
I indeed have talent, and I indeed am not successful. Heck, I couldn't pay rent this month. How sad is THAT? Ouch. What a bum! I only made $28,000 last year. WTF? ...I know, of course, success is measured by other things than money, in the final analysis, but sometimes money is a useful measure, however imperfect.
Anyway, this stinging quote has motivated me. I did NOT spend the remaining hours of the day playing PC games online, or sitting around drinking beer. I did other things, like watching a 2-hour DVD about acrylic painting. And, you know what? The DVD was inspiring! I've had the DVD for a few months now, but couldn't get beyond the "This is what kind of brushes I use" stage. But today I watched the WHOLE thing with great interest, and, WOW, it was so very nice to simply sit back and observe a professional painter using acrylics (to paint a wildlife scene). And TWO HOURS of it. Simply "absorbing" through observing. I think that's how we learn anything: we mimic what we see. And I had NEVER seen anyone paint with acrylics. OH I SEE, I kept saying.
And, tonight, I got back to working on my mural. I'm painting on the big "practice wall" I put in my studio/bedroom. The central figure is a cheetah. I had "traced" it using an overhead projector, but the resolution wasn't adequate for good detail. So, tonight, I went back and drew the head FREEHAND. (When I get into the actual acrylics stage, I'll do a lot of adjusting, I'm sure.) In the drawing of details, I'm using a sepia-colored wax pencil, which, I discovered, will ERASE easily with a Design PLASTIC eraser (on gesso-primed wallboard). In the photo you can see the result, which is NOT a finished drawing, but simply a LOOSE MAP of contours and values, using, mainly, an fat ART STIX. (I wish I'd done more with the normal, fine-lined wax PENCIL.) But it's enough to get started with. I will paint, let it dry, paint some more, adjust, let dry, paint more detail, etc, until finished, simply layering and layering. Acrylics are wonderful for quick layering. ...Usually I would paint the background first, but I'm so emotionally curious about painting a big critical figure in a mural, that I'm rushing into the cheetah first. ...And if it goes well, I'll be assuring myself that I CAN INDEED DO THIS. Believe me, I'm full of fear.
Also I've finally been working on my own fairy designs. "Eventually" I will paint a few of these on my niece's bedroom walls. Actually, I was fearful of this, too. I've never "designed" anything. I've included, in this post, a little rough draft of an original design, more or less using my imperfect memory of a pixie fairy kinda like Tinker Bell. I've only COPIED, so to speak, Tink images in the past, so to be creative and make my own thing, well, it's a new experience, but, you know, it's FUN. Trying to get all the anatomy right, and the pose "just so," well, it is indeed fun. I'm fairly satisfied with my first efforts here. All this caricaturing must be helping me in more ways than I thought... LOL... Also, creating my own designs is essential to not getting sued for plagiarism. Of course, this design is still too Tink-like, but it's a start. I mean, I COULD just TRACE another design onto a wall in someone's home, but I'd like to use the images for my mural portfolio, so I must be original.
Anyway, my birthday has come to a close. Thanks to all the well-wishers. I'll keep everyone updated on my new exercising habit, and my mural work, and "success attitude." (Oh, GOD, did I just say that? ..........See how I am... LOL.)