Monday, January 27, 2014

Justified by the nets

The internets can be a trap. Everybody complains that they get on their computer to be productive and then get sucked into some social site, and then get nothing done. This is not the trap that I am talking about. That is something that we are all aware of. I am talking about a different kind of trap, the "like minded people" trap.

We spend time online connecting with people all over the world. This can be good for many reasons, we can network, and spread the word about things. We can work together to brainstorm ideas and be productive, we can learn, and share, and do all kinds of good things with the ability to access the countless people who are also on the nets. The down side? We find like minded people. These people think like us, they share like us, and like the same things as we do. That is great we all need friends and support, but they can also trap us. When we don't associate with people who are different than us, how can we learn to see things from different angles?

What happens is, that we go on line and see images and read quotes and talk to people who all agree with you. You want to feel good about yourself? There is someone out there to stroke your ego. There is a person who thinks you are beautiful no mater how you look, overweight or anorexic there is someone to tell you that what you are doing is great. Don't feel good about something? There is someone who will tell you that you are great, and that what you are doing is just fine. Don't really feel like going outside your box, there is someone to tell you that the box is a good place to be, and you shouldn't leave.

This can become a problem. We spend our days reading "uplifting" quotes and looking at inspirational pictures so that we can feel good about how we are right now. This is not how a normal human is meant to improve. This is how we become stagnant. We read these things and think, well, everyone likes me just they way I am I don't need to actually go out and do anything to improve myself. We end up giving up on life, without even realizing that is what we are doing. We think that we are great the way we are and never again think it necessary to get better.

Change and improvement is part of the human experience. It is what make us better people. When we think we are perfect the way we are, we couldn't be more wrong. There is always room for improvement, and if we are content with who we are now then we will never try to become better. How do we expect to make progress as a society if as individuals we refuse to do the work necessary to become better people. When we all think that we are good the way we are, we are essentially dooming our future.

Everyday is meant to be a day used for self improvement. When we surround ourselves with a pillowy, flattering social life that encourages us to stay the same as we were yesterday, we are killing the person who we once had the potential to become. Life is not about finding a state we can be happy with and just staying there. Life is about constant and continual improvement, even if that means things get a little uncomfortable along the way, and even if we fail every once in a while. We must keep moving forward or we are going to fall behind.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Overcoming the allure of depression

I go through periodic bouts of depression. They are very difficult to get myself to move on from. As anyone who may have depression would understand, all you really want to do is to sink into the couch and stop existing. I don't have motivation to do anything. It isn't that I don't want to do anything it is just that I cannot get my body and my mind to match. Things just don't add up. For some reason, for me these periods of depression feel like everything is wrong, that 2+2= -100. I have two working arms and two working legs and yet somehow I feel like I have nothing.

As bad as all of this is, it has it's own allure. It makes it hard for me to pull myself out of it. I feel more comfortable there. You hate being depressed, but for some reason your brain tricks you into thinking that doing something will somehow be more painful than sitting on the couch all day, living in this guilty self loathing cycle. You think that maybe experiencing life dealing with these everyday things could be worse than the depression. It is an interesting place, where you become comfortable with the pain.

That is the allure. Like that saying goes, better the devil you know, it is easier to just live with the depression. It becomes your friend, it becomes your excuse, it becomes that discussing habit that you try to hide from family and friends, like the addiction you still have to sucking your thumb. You push people away, because you like this depression friend, just like you enjoyed that tub of Ben and Jerry's. It tastes good and you don't really care about what it is doing to you. Who cares you haven't left the house in days or are wearing the same clothes you had on yesterday. Depression doesn't judge.

It takes awhile but eventually my logical brain shouts loud enough at me through the blanket of depression that I can actually hear it again. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Why is is necessary to live through so much pain? What's to say that you won't find something less painful if you go do something? You were happy doing things before, why would it be any different now? I finally remember what it was like to be happy, to do things, to go out and have friends. There is no need for me to be this sad. I must just remember that Depression isn't my friend. All it has done for me is make me sad and hurt. I have real friends that do actually make me feel happy, I used to to things that made me feel accomplished.

I swear to myself that I don't have to be sad ever again, but I know that these feelings will eventually creep back in. So I just need to try to remember that I don't have to be a victim to my own sadness. I can fight and be happy no matter how alluring the call of depression can be.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A different kind of creative

I enjoy allowing my creative side to take over. The only down side is, if I spend all day doing things that are widely considered creative, I will not get everything done that needs to be. I would just spend all day playing with paint and producing stuff and not get any thing else done like, cleaning, or brushing my teeth, or getting dressed. I have learned that the idea of creativity can be more broadly applied to things. Creative is another form of the word create. By breaking down the word to just the world create, being creative can mean much more than just the crafty notation that is normally associated with it. Basically the word can be applied to any activity that is productive or positive or constructive in any way.

By writing here I am being creative. By working on my finances I am being creative. By doing anything proactive really I am being creative. Exercise is creative, play with the kid is creative. Thinking this way means that anyone who does anything is being creative. I don't have to feel bad about a day that I haven't made art. Simply doing something I am exercising my ability to be creative. No one should ever think that they are not creative. You thought about it, and did something about that that thought, you are creative. So you sit in a cubicle every day, but you acted, you did work, earned money, made choices in your live; you have been creative.

When I have spent my entire day doing things that I don't necessarily feel proud of, all I have to do is remember that it was creative. It may not have been my best display of creative practices, but I was still creative. Nothing can take that away from me.

Today I was creative.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Thrift store master pieces

I make thrift store pieces all of the time. You can actually see all of the pieces that I have made here. They all work the same way. I have yet to document the progress of any of these pieces. So here I go. Below are the steps that I follow each time I find a new thrift store painting to add to. 

First you will need to get your supplies. Aside from the given that you will need paint and brushes, I generally use tracing paper, pencil and eraser, carbon paper, and then whatever tools necessary to carefully remove the picture from the frame. When it comes to removing the frame I can usually get away with prying all of the staples in the back of the frame up with a butter knife. What you use to do this is up to you. 

Here is the original. Cute isn't she? this is the space you have to work with. I usually visualize the finished piece with the frame still on the painting. I don't want to pull it out of the frame start my work and then when it comes to putting it back in the frame realize that I have cut something off or that it feel crammed into the space

While the frame is still on, put a piece of tracing paper over the picture and draw in the outline of what you are planning on painting into the picture. I leave the frame on just to better see how the picture will fit into the framed space. Here is where you will be able to determine if the composition fits well into the space. 

After I am content with the outline of my monster I have put on the tracing paper, I then remove the picture from the frame. There are sometimes surprises when you open the frame. Extra borders you didn't know where there, the matting is glued down. Opening the frame can be an adventure. This one was rather uneventful. Once you have the picture free, lay the carbon paper over the picture ink side down and the tracing paper over that, to transfer the sketch onto the picture. 

After transfer remove the tracing paper and carbon paper and make sure that all of your lines are visible and where they should be. 

I then, like to block in the color. You don't want the original painting to show through. This may take a couple of coats of paint depending on the opacity of your paint. 

After you have completely covered all of the original details with paint blocking. You can then feel free to start filling in details. 

Then be sure you do you finishing touches. Fill in shadows around your additions so that your work blends in with the original. It is my personal preference to make the added monsters subtle. I don't want them to stand out like a sore thumb. By adding drop shadows and blending into the back ground the additions don't seems as startling. It will not be perfect. You don't poses the same painting style as the person who made the original but it is nice to get it close.

Once you have completed your work give it time to dry. My acrylics have a tendency to stick to the glass if I put it back in the frame as soon as I am done. Then if you need to ever remove the picture again later for scanning or photographing the paint will stick to the glass and ruin all of your hard work.

After giving time to dry you can then put it back in the frame and enjoy your new piece of art.