36/365 FML: Jazz and Disaster

Day 36/365. FML. Not a commentary; just busy relaunching a show in Brooklyn NY a couple of weeks from now and don't have the time and brainspace to do a pretty pretty picture. So back to my ink-first quickie-simple style which fills so many sketchbooks.
Day 36/365. FML. Not a commentary; just busy relaunching a show in Brooklyn NY a couple of weeks from now…

Day 36/365. FML. Not a commentary; just busy relaunching a show in Brooklyn NY a couple of weeks from now and don’t have the time and brainspace to do a pretty pretty picture. So back to my ink-first quickie-simple style which fills so many sketchbooks.

In doing so, I find the pleasure of the simplicity of communicating an idea with as few lines as possible. I find that penciling first makes the playground the paper, but with ink first, most of the work takes place in my head, as erasing is not an option.

On the one hand, I can make a bolder statement with a more complex idea by drawing it out first, then laying the indelible ink (and colors) on afterwards; on the other hand, the more simple image that was thought out first has the more iconic feel.

I guess it’s similar to music: you can painstakingly write out your notes and create some amazing stuff, or you can internalize your scales, open yourself up to improvisation, and play Jazz. it makes sense in words, but I’m not sure a viewer will immediately look at this image and think, “Jazz.” (Interestingly, R. Crumb, known for not using pencil, is also a great Jazz aficionado.)

Or maybe it’s more like juggling fire torches: you practice with them unlit. You can do much more crazy things when they’re not lit, to experiment and find your parameters. That way, when you light them, you can do less crazy things, but operating in a lower threshold of difficulty to please an audience while not causing a disaster. Ink first can be one stroke away from disaster.

35/365 Getting in Shape

Day 35 Getting in Shape. I actually sketched this out the other day but wanted to do something different with the background, and splicing two images together is easier on the computer, hence the computer coloring.
Day 35 Getting in Shape. I actually sketched this out the other day but wanted to do something different with the background, and splicing two images together is easier on the computer, hence the computer coloring.

Day 35 Getting in Shape. Part of the brainthought that brought about “Whoa, Dude!” (Day 28) and “Eternal Beauty” (Day 29) … just imagining what life would be like with our body parts configured differently.

Because I didn’t like the original background, I drew a new one onto a different sheet and spliced the two images together digitally, and decided to color by computer. It’s actually more fun to color by hand, I am finding. The allure of the “undo” makes you sloppy. I got aggravated after a while. I’m clearly out of practice with coloring in photoshop. Photons behave very differently from waterborne pigments on textile.

Maybe I’m a dinosaur, but I really like the feel of Nature. I’ll do digital art, but a stylus on glass is missing that drag of the pencil, or brush across the texture of the paper, canvas, or board. One thing that bothers me about acrylic paints is it’s really just air-dried plastic. Of course, that means your art won’t biodegrade, and maybe that’s a good thing.

I really miss the organic feel of the watercolors. Funny; I’ve done so much computer-colored work in the past because it’s “more versatile,” but it’s amazing how old school brush and pigment just … is easier, and it feels more real. It would probably help if I pulled out my Wacom tablet, but still, ugh — it just feels unnatural.  (Get off my laaaawn!)

34/365 Bench – No way to get good but to do it.

Day 34. Bench. Study for an upcoming commission.
Day 34. Bench. Study for an upcoming commission.

Again with the boring mechanical lines that I hate because I don’t feel competent at them. No way to get good but to do it. Over and freaking over. Sigh.

It’s funny how as I depict many things, I have the “forest for the trees” effect; “it doesn’t look right … it doesn’t look right… this will never work… and then, standing back … hey; it worked! I guess it often feels that way in the middle of creating something, or doing life changes: You feel like it’s all wrong and you’re making no progress, then look back, and, “hey; it worked!”

There’s still a few things that bother me about this one, but it’s just a rough sketch. I made a number of mistakes, but I figure that makes it look more organic — more real. The final work will also likely be flawed, but hopefully less glaring flaws (to me).

The commission I plan to evolve over the next week. Still learning some watercolor techniques and am producing a show for God, in New York, this September, so I may get behind schedule. I also still have to figure out the size the end product will be.

So Tired (32/365)

Day 32. The best-laid plans. I wanted to do something else. This happened instead.
Day 32. The best-laid plans. I wanted to do something else. This happened instead.

I really wanted to do another thing, but at the point of the evening where I was about to set pen to paper, I realized just how tired I was. I really need to start this stuff earlier in the day. Of course, in the quiet of the night is really my favorite time to create. The stillness of the world around me is crucial to finding those crevices of the imagination where the ideas lurk.

Reverting to a much more minimalistic style, I was able to convey my exact state of mind yet still appease the seductive pillow-goddess.

Truck (Day 31/365)

Day 31. Truck. August 18. I've never felt competent at drawing machinery, preferring organic, natural characters to the cold, repetitive lines of machine-made objects. Thought I'd step out of my comfort zone a bit. Still, I had to put a person in there somewhere, otherwise the art tells no story. I chose brush and ink because color can distract from a whole lot of structural errors. I wanted to be able to focus on the bones so I can see the half dozen or so problems with this, but I think at least my style shows through, despite there being (almost) no creatures involved.
Day 31. Truck.

Day 31. Truck.
I’ve never felt competent at drawing machinery, preferring organic, natural characters to the cold, repetitive lines of machine-made objects. I thought I’d step out of my comfort zone a bit. Still, I had to put a person in there somewhere, otherwise the art tells no story.

I chose brush and ink because color can distract from a whole lot of structural errors. I wanted to be able to focus on the bones so I can see the half dozen or so problems with this, but I think at least my style shows through, despite there being (almost) no creatures involved.

365 New Art pieces!

Well, not 365 yet. This is the first 30. I was hesitant to make any public claims about a 365 project till I had a solid foundation. A month is pretty good. So this is 30/365ths. The rest are in my head, somewhere, to be revealed as the year unfolds. In 2009-2010, I did 365 acrylic paintings in one year. It was grueling, rewarding, made many mistakes and produced some beautiful works of amazing art.

Now it’s 2016. I have just completed my first month of a new art project. This #ALittleArtEveryDay is a bit simpler as some are finished pieces; some are chipping away at a larger piece, and some are “I just threw this Hail Mary off my pen under deadline.”

I hope you enjoy this journey as it develops … I’m still writing the rules!

Being a winner

imageI have a blog. “Big deal,” you’re probably thinking. “Anyone can get a blog,” right?

Well, do you have a blog? No? Ha! Score one for me!

Having a blog is one of the best ways to get the world to think you are important. I know this to be true because I said it. And I am important. Because I have a blog.

Oh, sure you could get yourself a blog, like on blogger or wordpress or whatever else place you can find online and then write thoughts down for people to read so they can make you feel important. Sure, you could do that. But even if you do, and you are important, whose blog are you reading now? Huh? Whose?! Ha! Score two for me!

Don’t get me wrong; I really appreciate you taking time to read this blog, but I just wanted to gloat about the fact that if you don’t have a blog, I have at least one more reader than you do! Wahoo!

Suppose you are a person with a blog. Perhaps you think that makes you important. You are correct. That is true. But again, where are you? Reading my blog! Ha! Three points! Score!

Now it is possible you have a blog that has more readers than mine. Hm, I haven’t thought about that. Good point. Three-one. My lead.

But wait a minute, if you have a blog and it has more readers than mine, then it must be interesting, pertinent or useful. With fewer followers, I need not be confined by such constraints. Game, set, and match! I am invincible!

Playing God

Rich Potter, as the Creator of the Universe, has a last-minute deadline frenzy, in "God: The One Man Show" at Greenbelt Arts Center, Feb 19-28, 2016 www.GodTheOneManShow.comIt’s actually kind of weird to think of myself as a playwright. I never did much theatre in school, aiming rather to do variety performance: juggling, comedy, magic, clown… I always thought of my performances as “shows.”

So now I have written a new show (God: The One-Man Show), and co-written two shows (“Delusions of Grandeur” and “The Heist” with Matthew Pauli and Karen Beriss) over the last 4 years. People keep referring to these shows as “plays.” I guess yes, since they have all have at least some semblance of a story arc, characters and drama mixed in with the comedy, but it’s weird to me to call them plays.

But if they are, then I guess I’m a playwright. I’m up there with William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and that self-absorbed weirdo performing in the local church basement shouting about gender issues and hydrogenated fats. 

It’s still strange to hear the word applied to my work. I just wanted to write funny shows about things that were on my mind. Now I’m a playwright. Go figure. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. I didn’t know. I guess I wasn’t as omniscient as I thought.

New year’s resolutions

My wife got me a “Calm,” a meditation app for my iphone or Christmas . In its introductory 3-minute “hey, you too can learn to breathe!” session, I came up with the realization that over the years, I’ve amassed a great deal of knowledge and strategies on how to better focus and manage my life and productivity. Implementation however? Hmmm.

I’ve given advice, which people have taken, and they implement. They get stuff done. I watch and marvel at their ability to get things done. I decided maybe I should write a self-help book, to myself. Maybe if it sounds like it comes from outside myself, it’ll sink in better. Who knows? Too often, advice I receive is things I already know and am not implementing.

So… battling Seasonal Affective Disorder (which I kinda see as a  clinical term for “Winter Blues”) and ADD, I have in the past, successfully capitalized on the hyperfocus of ADD and the motivation of a deadline. So this year, it’s taking the form of producing two theatrical shows in January and February) to keep me moving forward, creating comedy, and having less time to wallow and chase squirrels. It’s a personal form of Art Therapy.

So here’s a suggestion to those like me: Get past your Winter lethargy — decide on a project (build a bat house to cut down on mosquitoes in your yard, learn a song on guitar to sing to someone, learn to draw a cat to make a birthday card for someone) and a realistic deadline: timeframe one or two months. Promise it to someone outside yourself. Be accountable. And produce. I’ll see you on the other side, if not sooner.

Back to work: Workout for the prefrontal lobe

godforblogI actually paused blogging for a while because I thought I had to finish the posts of my 2014 European Adventure. I got immersed in the experience and didn’t have time to document every potato I boiled or every Guinness I drank. I realize now I don’t have to complete that before moving forward. At some point, if there’s enough demand, I’ll tell some stories about Europe, with a year or so of perspective. My plan to finish writing a new show went into mothballs, because another show got written instead. Such is life with ADD.

Since then, I’ve produced a handful of cabaret shows, wrote, rehearsed, designed, produced and promoted, “God: The One-Man Show,” created illustrations for an educational program for NASA, wrote about 15 minutes of solid standup comedy, designed 3 T-shirts for various projects, and am in the process of figuring out how to fund further development of “The Heist,” a film noir physical comedy about three hilariously inept gangsters. It’s always weird to think I’m getting nowhere and look back to see I guess I’ve done a few things.

Still, I’m currently finding a need to boost my productivity. The art stuff is the easy part. Selling it is the unfortunate result of living in a Capitalist society. If it can’t convert to money, its worth is dismissed. My mortgage company will never accept a painting or a comedy show as payment. My goal is to do company events for every institution I’ve ever paid a bill to, and get back all that money. A guy can fantasize.

Procrastination, distractibility and some life-curveballs all present the opportunity to get off course. I’m reaching out to people smarter than me. And people looking to achieve similar goals. The former is like a personal trainer for my business; the latter, like having a gym buddy to keep you honest.

My gymnasium is my laptop, my phone, and my databases. Unfortunately, my gymnasium has weights scattered all about, and is covered by a few layers of dust, cobwebs, and broken dreams. Experimenting with some productivity software. If I like it, I’ll endorse it here. But here’s hoping I can get my business brain in shape. Currently it’s a slothful 400-pound gnome walking with a cane. Ugh. Off the couch, brain! Off the couch!