Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Doodle-a-Day: March 30

Having a Ball

Remember to play. This key idea behind the Doodle-a-Day project heavily influences my new line of investigation. This new series is growing out of the "what if I do this...?" game. It is an easy game to play with paper and pen (cheap and fast); the game is a little more challenging to play when I start working in silver and gemstones (expensive and time consuming). It is an essential and sometimes rewarding game.

The basic question here is ,"What if I try to crochet a ball in silver?". Did it. Did it again. Did it in two parts to get a ball that is more round. Added colored beads to the ball. Now I have a whole bunch of balls and half balls in varying states of completion. And I am having fun.

Playing the "what if I...?" game has brought new vitality and excitement to my work. Tomorrow is torch and anvil time and I can start playing with the support forms for the balls. It will be a whole new round of "what if I...?" and I can't wait to get started.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Craving Time with My Marker

I have completed seventeen doodles today. Before I started this project, I thought that I would have to chain myself to a chair, in order to get the drawing done. Now I find myself looking forward to sitting down with my marker and my tiny sheet of paper. I look forward to doodling the same way that I look forward to a giant double dip sundae with hot fudge and whipped cream. I began contemplating possible reasons behind my rediscovered love of doodling.

First of all, the task is small and fairly easily accomplished. It feels good to finish something. That sense of gratification sometimes eludes me, when I am staring at my giant board of unfinished projects. Significant factors are that the paper is small (I could reasonably finish a doodle in two minutes, although I generally spend much more time on them) and the scope of the project is finite (forty pieces of paper, forty days). I can gauge my progress by simply looking at the diminishing stack of blanks and the growing stack of covereds.

Second, the value of the project lies in its completion. I have neither the hope, desire, nor expectation of any gain of prestige or money from making these doodles. The only things I will gain are the freedom to draw again and the satisfaction of having completed a task. That is all and that is enough.

Finally, letting go of all rules and self imposed pressure to make it "look good" certainly makes the exercise a source of pleasure. I suppose that the rules of good design are important (although I am having a bit of a crisis of faith regarding design orthodoxy; planning a post on that later this week) but the rules are words that ultimately interfere with a physical, non-verbal instinct to create. Not thinking, in words, but rather in the movements of the hand across the page, releases the logjam of creative impulses and allows me to tap into the well of the seeing brain rather than the thinking brain. I find myself seeing the world differently; the way I saw it when I first learned to draw.

Time to take these lessons from and find ways to apply them to other works.

Doodle-a-Day: March 27

Doodle-a-Day: March 26

Doodle-a-Day: March 25

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Remember: This is Fun

So, I just finished posting lucky 13 of the Doodle-a-Day drawings. I have actually managed to do one each day and it has turned out to be rather fun. It is a relief to just play and has gotten me back into sketching in my sketchbook. I definitely recommend that you try the exercise for yourself; it is much more fun than a diet.

I caught myself on the verge of reverting back to bad habits, though. As I stared at my little card for today, I began overthinking how I wanted it to turn out. I wanted to work with ovals and wanted them to be dimensional and all sorts of other stuff. The drawing needed to be perfect and convey a sense of depth and blah...blah...blah. That is not the point. I am all for integrity and controlling design and being thoughtful and planning and all sorts of other things. But, these values need to be kept in their place. The doodle is not, I repeat NOT, the place for this.

I took a deep breath and opened my marker and just played. And kept playing and stopped worrying. Sometimes you have to make yourself play; it is good for your soul.

Don't forget to play today.

Doodle-a-Day: March 23

Doodle-a-Day: March 22

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'll Be There. Will You?

40 Days of Doodles Project

A review of my sketchbook from the past year reveals a rather disconcerting shift in my process. At some point in the past, I abandoned drawing for fun. The only sketches in the book explore specific designs or are illustrations of patterns. My sketchbook has become all work and no play. I desperately need to recapture that sense of play within my work and my life.

I used to sit in a park downtown every morning and doodle in my sketchbook until it was time to go to the office. Since I left the architecture firm and committed myself to growing my jewelry business and teaching, I lost my "park time". I didn't even realize what a precious time I had lost until I began reflecting on the character of my sketchbook. Something was missing in the spirit of the book; more importantly, something was missing within me. I, too, have become all work and no play. Every moment of my day is spent producing, designing, planning and it has become work.

In an effort to recapture my "park time" and regain my sense of play, I have started my Doodle-a-Day Project. My goal is to create one doodle each day for forty days. I have cut 40 3 inch by 3 inch bristol cards and keep them with my black marker. I am letting go of all of the "rules" of good design and drawing. The only rule is to engage in the act of drawing. Every day I will doodle something and share it with you: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Doodle-a-Day: March 15, 2011

Doodle-a-Day: March 14, 2011

Doodle-a-Day: March 12, 2011

Doodle-a-Day: March 13, 2011

Doodle-a-Day: March 11, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Thoughts of a Naive Economist: Technology's Dream

I used to have a vision of a beautiful future, when I was quite young (around 11 years old). My family had a computer at home with a spinach green screen; the computer started up in dos and required the entry of a series of complex codes (written out on a notecard and taped to the desk corner) in order to use the word processing program. We had an Atari and we rented a VCR from the grocery store in order to watch movies at our birthday parties. Home computer technology was in its nascency; we were at the edge of the dream that technological advancements would bring a brighter future for all.

I had my vision one day while sitting in literature class. The teacher's name was Ms. B and I can picture the giant chalkboard at the front of the room. The memory of that daydream is so vivid that I can smell the pencils and paper wrapped textbooks tucked in my plastic desk bin. It is a dream I have carried with me and pulled up again and again with slightly less optimism at each review.

In this dream, technology is pervasive and the technology is beautiful. Technology allows for free time. Technology makes food to be plentiful and nourishing. Technology allows knowledge to be freely shared. Technology renders war, scarcity, and contentiousness obsolete. Technology makes acquisition of money and personal property unnecessary. Material goods are so plentiful that every person has exactly what they need.

Each person in the world has a useful job but need only spend one day per week doing that job. The rest of a person's time is devoted to reading, writing, drawing, creating art. Families enjoy spending time together and possess ample free time to do so. Everyone wears togas and long draped Grecian gowns in soft flowing white. The grass is green and the buildings are elegant, refined, and inviting. My dream world is a world of intelligent people pursuing knowledge and beauty and making the world better each day.

In the dream, people no longer define themselves by their material possessions. Rather, people define themselves by their knowledge and by their ability to create beautiful thoughts, songs, and art. The only source of competition is for greater understanding.
Such was my childhood dream of the possibilities of technological development.

As I think about the state of the world today, I wonder how technology could be so advanced and yet the state of the world be so very backwards. People (who have jobs) work more and more. Each day brings more contention and incivility in social interactions. As a society, we embrace and celebrate ignorance. We encourage relentless egotism and lavishly reward selfish pursuit of corporate revenues at the expense of the environment and the psychological health of society as a whole.

I know that my childhood dream was born out of a naive idealism about human society and human nature. It is a place that will never exist. But, it is worthwhile to hold on to pieces of that dream. We should do better. We can do better. It is just a matter of figuring out how...

Friday, March 4, 2011

In Frisco

In my grand effort to get out and see more of the world, I made a trip to Dallas this week. Go, me! On my way home, I stopped in Frisco at a boutique called Sussie's. All I can say is, forget the mall mess and go to Sussie's. The store is on the East side of Preston Road a few blocks north of the mall.

I am not really a brand name connoisseur and, therefore, can't really make informed comments specific to a particular brand. There is an list of brands they carry on their Facebook Page, if you are curious. What I noticed was an impeccably curated selection of clothes that ranged from beachy and casual to sophisticated party dresses. They definitely have an eye for well cut clothes and wearable fabrics. The design of the store is very fresh and modern. The atmosphere is welcoming and warm.

Owner, Rory Boyd, welcomed me the minute I walked in. She was helpful and knows her inventory inside and out. She knows exactly how items fit and advised me on which brands would work for my body type. Ms. Boyd pointed out several different pieces for me to try on; I felt like she understood my style without my ever having to say a word. Throughout my visit, I received excellent and friendly service without feeling pressured. It felt more like shopping with a girlfriend.

With such impeccable service and selection, I highly recommend visiting Sussie's. I have a wedding to attend in April and Sussie's will be the first place I visit, when I start looking for my outfit.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Magic and Ballet

I am always awed by the performance of ballet dancers. Their work is truly the synthesis of technical mastery and artistic expression. Each dancer must perform to the highest degree of excellence while conveying the emotions behind a piece, all without use of words (obviously). The Mixed Repertoire performed by the Texas Ballet Theater truly highlights this synthesis. I had the pleasure of seeing the show at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth but I am really tempted to go see it again this weekend in Dallas. It was a moving, beautiful show that illustrates three very different styles of performance from one troupe.

The first piece is by Choreographer and Creative Director Ben Stevenson and is titled Four Last Songs. It was as if I had been transported to the Classical Sculpture wing of the Met at night and all the sculptures had come to life. The dancers flowed and moved fluidly through each other and would then freeze in beautifully composed groupings. The magic of geometry, movement, and composition flowed through the piece and united to convey complex sadness and longing.

The second piece, choreographed by dancer Peter Zweifel (definitely an artist to watch), is called Love Always Remains. This was a fantastic contrast to the first piece. Zwiefel uses the body in a way that is completely different from the movements in Stevenson's piece. It's as though the dancers were charged like atoms with force fields attracting and repelling one another as they told a story of interaction, passion, and loss. The choreographic style pushes towards modern dance but definitely expresses the grace and technical skill of ballet. I enjoyed the use of contemporary indie rock in the piece. It was surprising but not jarring or discordant.

The final piece, George Balanchine's Theme and Variations will definitely please those who enjoy a more traditional performance. There are tutus, tights and sequins galore. The piece is energetic and fun with wonderful solo and troupe sections that highlight the technical strengths of the TBT.

I found the show moving and inspiring. If you are in Dallas this weekend, I highly recommend attending one of the performances.