Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day One

Well, I guess it had to happen eventually. I started a blog.

Here I will discuss my journey into the bowels of art. I don't think that's too graphic or negative of a description, either. :)

Many years ago, around 1990-1992, I went to school to become an illustrator. I studied "Visual Communications", otherwise known as general commercial art, for a year, and then specialized in Illustration for a quarter. For reasons that are not important here, I had to drop out and eventually start working.

After a couple of years serving food in a Nursing home, I got my big chance. I went to work as a designer, illustrator, and graphic artist (not to mention retail clerk, telephone receptionist, shirt folder, heat press operator, mover, and all around lackey.. oh wait, I mentioned it) in a screen-printing shop. After three years of indentured servitude, and all-around soul draining, I quit and went to work in a restaurant kitchen--for about the same pay. My impressions of the art business were dismal, and my attempts at freelance illustration did nothing to improve them.

So I gave up. I had not the courage to persevere.

An opportunity to begin a career as a computer programmer presented itself with the y2k boom. It turned out to be pretty easy to do and paid like a dream.

After the first three years I began to experience depression, and I assumed it was my job--not my career, mind you, my job. A little therapy, a job change, and 40 lbs off my ass got things rolling along smoothly once more.

Several years later, the depression returned, and I figured it was time for another job change. Back into therapy again and I got myself a new job, with less responsibility, more pay, and couple months off before I started. But this would not solve the problem.

After eight months or so, I read some articles about Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults that sounded like someone was describing my life. Honestly, nothing I had ever read sounded so familiar. This had to be my problem! So I got myself a full-battery psych work up and ended up with an official document attesting to a very high IQ and severe ADD - Combined type. I pursued some ideas related to this and made some changes. I never imagined the emotional fall-out that could come with such a discovery. There is a lot to be said for the relief in finally putting a name to what's been so different all my life. There's also a lot to be said for the grief in realizing that finding this out years ago could have saved me so much trouble. We can't go back in time, though, and I eventually got over those blues.

Unsurprisingly, my situation really did not improve, and I went back to questioning my career choices and habits. Something important was missing. Something big.

I read a lot about my "condition." I now believe that some of us are just born wired differently. Society and school and the working world are set up for linear thinkers (aka the vast majority.) I am not a linear thinker. I need to see the big picture. I operate from an emotional understanding of life. I seek answers from inside myself first. I hyper-focus readily, when I'm interested. These are not exactly the sort of traits that blend easily into the 9 to 5 world. Some say DaVinci would have been diagnosed ADD. *shrug* Who knows?

For a long time, people in my life have been pushing me to resume my art practice. Small sketches, or peeks into my portfolio elicit exclamations of, "What are you doing programming?" and, "Why aren't you doing this for a living?" and, "Who took my shoes?"

I usually replied with a terse, "I don't do that anymore," or, "I'm not an artist," or, "How should I know?"


Something changed. I can't really pinpoint it. I somehow opened my heart and mind to the idea of art. I think it was a search for a career change with as little remedial education as possible. I started to realize I had the skills and training, and now the soft skills and personality, to go back to commercial art. I could do this. I knew I still had it; I just denied it for so long.

I decided to start with a drawing class at the local art museum. I quickly realized that I had lost nothing. In fact, I probably improved my sight over the years just by looking at life with trained eyes and visiting museums and galleries. Somewhere along the way, my instructor suggested I consider becoming a fine artist. Not since I was a child had I even considered the idea. I knew nothing about gallery art. I didn't even understand contemporary art. I had a lot to learn.


Now, about four months later, I am still digging deep to learn what this Art thing is all about. I'm trying to find myself in the world of art, figure out my voice, and develop a good work ethic. I have many fears to overcome and much to learn, but I am on the path.

Since I started drawing and painting again, the depression has mostly gone, my self-confidence has grown exponentially, and my apartment has become a completely different mess. (It's still a mess, but now it's a mess with purpose!)

On this blog I hope to share some of what I learn and discover along the way. I want to share the art I find that I love, and anything I come across that makes it easier, or makes the possibilities clearer, or opens my eyes to life through art. I'll link to cool things and write about art I go and see. Whatever makes sense. I will try not to duplicate the stuff that's already out there. And I will do my best to be original and never steal from others. Please feel free to point it out to me if you catch me slacking or plagiarizing. Sometimes it happens without us even knowing we're doing it.

So, that's my sob story. Hope I didn't come across as some moody, whiny nut-basket. Life is sunshine and flowers now. Well, it's heading there anyway.