JOSH’S NOTE: So time really got away with me with this one. I’m posting as is, because all these things have really happened, but then August and the first week of September got away from me as well (I got COVID AGAIN). I didn’t originally post it because I wasn’t happy with the section about ‘The Artist’s Way’, and I intended to edit it until I was happy with it. It originally came across as pretty pithy and trite, and a bit radge, and everyone knows that’s not really me. I’ve did a little bit of work to try to pull it together into something less aggressive.
Can you believe it’s August already?
I can’t. It feels like we’re still in the early throws of the year, and not almost two thirds of the way through it.
I know everyone has been talking a lot about the passage of time over the last few years, and I think we’ve all experienced a strange difference since COVID came along. I’m loathe to go through it all again, but time definitely does feel different since COVID came alone. I was talking to my aunt yesterday and couldn’t remember whether something happened last Christmas, or the Christmas before, and despite thinking about it since we were talking yesterday, I’m still no further forward as to what year it happened.
What I am sure about is what’s been happening in the Studio over the last couple week.
Monday the 31st was hand-in day for my Uni Course, which was all done and dusted on the Saturday night, so I was able to un-anxiously watch the minutes tick by on the clock and imagine what it would be like to be furiously typing away towards a word count, if I hadn’t managed to get myself finished in a reasonable amount of time before hand. I instead was able to smugly regale anyone who would listen how I had changed and that I’m too old to be pulling all nighters the night before handing in essays. I’m 34 now. I’ve learned. I’ve changed. It’s all nonsense of course, I would have still been tweaking things if I’d have had time. I just didn’t have time this time. Thankfully.
However due to hand-in day taking up much of the weekend, and the day job evaporating Wednesday through Friday, studio time this week was slightly curtailed, and consisted of a lot of really boring things like trying to tidy up hard drives, putting away notes in a cohesive fashion, and thinking about what I’m going to do next.
The course has obviously taken up a fair amount of my time recently, and now I’m finished (at least I’m finished if I pass, I’m still waiting on my results, and that has got the old anxiety dragon stamping his feet I will tell you that) I’ll have more time to get some projects moving forward that I’m looking forward to, most of all the couple of portrait commissions I have lined up, which I’m really excited to start work on.
So although my hard-drive is still a mess, and my studio is even messier, I got to watching some Kim Jung Gi videos as equal parts research and inspiration. Kim Jung Gi had always been a huge inspiration to me, as he was to almost everyone, and he really got the itch going again for some autobiographical sketchbook drawings while i’m trying to figure out what project I’m going to work on next.
Here’s a video of Kim Jung Gi at work, and it’s well worth going down a YouTube rabbit hole and watching some videos of him working, because he makes it look effortless.
I was even inspired enough to take my sketchbook to the pub with me last week.
Trying to embody the confidence of a master with ink when every inch of your artistic comfort zone is telling you that you should be laying down a sketch in pencil before you start drawing.
I promise that I do other things that aren’t lie around my living room and watch movies…
I’m trying to get more into the habit of actually working in a sketchbook, but digital just makes everything so much easier. Instead of a traditional sketchbook, I find that I’m inclined to draw more if I keep some loose sheets on my desk, so once there’s stuff there that’s actually interesting to look at, they’ll form the basis of a Studio Update no doubt.
Trying to tell the future
I’ve also been thinking about telling the future recently, or more specifically I’ve been thinking about how kids attempt to tell the future.
When you think about it, being a child is simultaneously exciting and terrifying.
The future exists only as a collection of accumulated hopes and dreams held in contrast against other people’s expectations against you, and not as anything concrete. Anything at all feels possible, and in what I think is an attempt to exert control over a situation that you don’t have any real control over, a lot of kids turn to attempting to divine the future (your mileage may vary on this, because I was a spooky child).
There are a lot of different methods that kids employ to attempt to read the eddy currents of fate, a personal favourite of mines was by playing ‘ghost gates’ which was really a poor man’s ouija, where you would use a series of coin flips to ask the spirits answers to yes or no questions. I can’t remember the rules specifically, as much as I’ve been trying to remember. I have memories of being huddled at the back of my French classroom and flipping coins as we all squealed and tried to freak one another out at the spirits answers.
A more mundane attempt at fortune telling was by the act of using paper fortuned tellers. You’ll remember what I mean; here’s one I made the other day for research:
The potential futures provided by these were again something you had no control over, and not because of the influence of any spooks or goblins. You were at the mercy of the person who had folded the paper, and what possibilities that had provided for you, and if they had decided that you were for a slow and painful death, then there was nothing you could do about it. I also remember some particularly vindictive classmates who would ensure that you had a terrible future, just depending on whether you were their victim of the day or not.
Did you partake in childish divination? What was your favourite methods? Did any of your fortunes ever come true? I’m interested to hear from you while I keep researching.
on the return of the artists way by julia cameron and my skepticism of the helpfulness of the daily pages
I’ve spoken about my love/hate relationship with TikTok before. TikTok has grabbed my soul the way few social media platforms have in the years since livejournal, Myspace and Bebo. Its creepily accurate algorithm, coupled with the fact that I just find so much interesting content means that I’m liable to sit and scroll through for more time than I really should. I’ve lost many a morning to opening the app and starting to scroll and before I know where I am, it’s afternoon.
Those developers knew exactly what they were doing when they created this app, and I have sometimes fallen for it hook line and sinker.
One thing that TikTok has been serving up to me at the moment however isn’t new to me. It’s instead something that I’ve been aware of since the heady days of 2008.
Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way has come to TikTok in a seemingly big way if my For You page is anything to be believed, and specifically people are going absolutely unhinged after partaking in the first exercise discussed in the book; the daily pages.
The premise is seemingly simple, but deceptively more involved than you would think.
Every morning, pretty much as soon as you wake up, Julia says that you should fill three pages in a notebook with stream-of-consciousness writing to get your thoughts out.
Julia’s reasoning is laid out in the book. Firstly it’s to let you identify negative thought patterns that you work through using the process laid out in the later chapters of the book, secondly, it’s to try to force you to work by making you so sick of complaining that you haven’t made any work every morning that you are spurred into action, just so that you have something else to write about. I’m paraphrasing here, it’s been a long time since I’ve read the book, but I think that’s the main points.
People on TikTok are losing their minds. I’ve seen videos of people shaking and sobbing after finishing their daily pages, seemingly exorcising their creative demons on a daily basis and sobbing at how transformative the process has been.
I have also been (almost) moved to tears by the daily pages, but I can assure you for very different reasons.
I’ve tried to commit to the daily pages more times than I can count over my creative career, and I’ve never managed to make them stick for any more than a couple of days at a time.
I have a couple of issues with them. Firstly, I’m not completely sure that Julia factors in the fact that not everyone is able to work all the time as a creative. Most of us have second jobs. My second job is at the other end of Dundee, and because the traffic links are so bad, I have to get up at 6 to make my work to start at 8:45. If I had to make time to complete three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing, I’d be getting up at 5, and I fully believe that only psychopaths get up that early in the morning. I just don’t have it in me to get up and write three pages before going in to the local hospital to work for 8 hours, and I’m pretty sure that the daily pages are something that you have to complete no matter what.
I’m a failure before I’ve even begun.
If I find it too difficult to commit to that and not just hate everything about the process, and I only have to work at my other job three days a week, then I dread to think how people who work full time at their other jobs get on, never mind people who have kids or caring responsibilities.
There is nothing that says ‘just try your best, and if you miss a day or two here or there, don’t worry too much about it’. No, if you haven’t managed your three pages, you haven’t sacrificed enough at the altar of your creativity, and instead you have to sit and write until you finish your pages. It’s enough to remind me of not being able to leave the table until I’d finished my tea as a child.
I also just never got on with the idea of daily pages because I struggle enough with executive dysfunction at the best of times, never mind if I have this gargantuan task to complete before getting on with anything else in my day. It’s not sustainable for me, so I just can’t commit to it.
Despite my obvious misgivings, I have given it a good college try a number of times, and I’ve never managed to sustain it. Whenever I try and I force myself to try to complete it for x-amount of days, it inevitably falls off.
Maybe I’ve never managed to complete it enough times to have the body shaking emotional catharsis that the people on TikTok are having, maybe they’re hamming it up for the camera in the hopes of selling more copies of the book and getting that sweet amazon affiliate payment for it, and maybe we should be inherently skeptical of a process that apparently results in this amount of emotional load shedding is something that should be carried out without the presence of a licensed mental healthcare professional.
Maybe I’m just a bad artist that I can’t commit to it, but I’ll continue to channel my emotions into my work, because it seems to be going alright for me.
PLEASE DON’T ASK ME HOW MY PAINTING IS GOING…
I won’t lie, I wrote this heading before working on the painting for another bit today, and we’ve turned a little corner with it. I was ready to gesso the whole thing and start again, but today we’re going. I couldn’t say that we’re going well, but I could definitely say that we’re going. I don’t want to just start again from scratch at the minute, so I’m taking that as a win.
Safe to say I’m not rereading The Artists Way. Instead I am reading Bunny by Mona Awad. This comes as a suggestion from a friend, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. It’s the tale of a particularly creepy clique of rich girls, and their lonely classmate. There’s a lot of mythological and occult symbolism which I am not sure is intentional or accidental, and I’m refusing to look it up incase I get spoiled.
I’m not finding it a particularly challenging read, instead I’m finding it more like a nice and fun breather from the more intellectually challenging reading that I did for my course.
Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with a bit of pop-lit.
I found this in an old playlist from High School while trying to find some information about the Ghost Gates and have been listening to it almost relentlessly ever since.
Question of the week
Inspired by my attempts at poorly emulating Kim Jung Gi; this week’s question of the week is