37, 38, and 39/365 Goat, Ding-Dong, Universe: Catching up with God

I’m behind on my blogging by nearly two months, so I’m strategizing a solution to catch up. I can put it off longer, decide not to continue, or just f**ing do it.

On the plus side, I have been sticking to my guns, doing my #ALittleArtEveryDay #365Project, every day since July 19, 2016, but I have had roadblocks to getting the blogging done about it. So I’m endeavoring to double and triple up on the images per blog post, to see if I can tie a block of them together with a unifying concept. This group is from August 26-26, which was just a week before bringing my “God: The One Man Show” to the New York Clown Theatre Festival, so my mind was running wild in that vein.

Since my original idea with this 365 project was to “do a little art every day, to see what develops,” I do from time to time try to illustrate something I feel I’m not very experienced at. I’ve shied away from drawing things, or learned to “fudge” things to make them look recognizable, since photorealism is so bothersome. Nobody can tell you that you drew a stick figure goat wrong.

In any case, one of the prominent items on God’s “to do” list in the show is to create goats (and gravel). I have never sat down and said, “I’m going to learn animal anatomy.” Convergence of ideas, so here. Here’s a goat. Like the God in my show, I have created … GOAT! (scroll down for more bloggishness)

Day 37 Goat and Gravel. Fans of God: The One-Man Show, (Nov. 10-13, 2016 in Baltimore) might be amused by the reference.
Day 37 Goat and Gravel. Fans of God: The One-Man Show, (Nov. 10-13, 2016 in Baltimore) might be amused by the reference.

 

38 Ding Dong

I have always kind of wondered about the relationship of God and Lucifer. I mean, they once were friends. They had a spat. God never forgave him. I’m sure that’d be kind of tough for both of them, evidenced by the 6,000 year silent feud, only broken once by a wager over poor Job.

If I were Lucifer, I’d probably occasionally do something passive-aggressive as is illustrated below. It was fun making the Pearly Gates.

Going along with the "God" theme, though "Satan" or "the devil" never appear in the show.

Going along with the “God” theme, though “Satan” or “the devil” never appear in the show.

39. The Universe (1)

What says, “God” more than amorphous, undulating nebulae, billions of light years away? Really, I was just playing with watercolors. I find them to be aggravating and a hell of a lot of fun. I did intend to paint the Universe on a 5″x9″ piece of watercolor paper, but personally, I’m not entirely pleased with this first attempt. Many people have offered positive feedback. It’s somewhat frustrating as an artist to find people resonating with things I really don’t like. Not that I hate this one; I just don’t love it like some people seem to. I have learned to just smile and say, “I’m glad you find enjoyment from my art.” It’s a tough lesson to learn.

More calibrating my brain for my New York run as God. I do feel that playing with the visual concepts does help me better embody the character.

More calibrating my brain for my New York run as God. I do feel that playing with the visual concepts does help me better embody the character.

 

 

re: The Current Clown Hysteria: NBC called me…

Theatrical producer, creator and Clown Cabaret producer, and retired RBBB Circus clown Rich Potter was called by an NBC reporter about the current "clown hysteria."
Theatrical producer, creator, co-founder of Washington DC’s Clown Cabaret, and retired RBBB Circus clown Rich Potter was called by an NBC reporter about the current “clown hysteria.”

(I’ll get back to posting about my visual art soon. Been a busy month.)

An NBC reporter, referred by a friend in the business called asked me one question: Is this current strange wave of clown hysteria directly hurting your bottom line?”

I responded that for me, the answer is “no, as I don’t advertise myself as a clown, but I am one. This problem, however has a much bigger scope than my income this month vs. last month, but rather a growing trend in this country, which has been hurting the image of our art form, in the USA, for decades.”

I would have also mentioned there are different types of clowns. Not like the “Auguste, Whiteface and Character,” which any reporter on clowns should know of before calling me. By “different types of clowns,” I mean very different types of performers who call themselves clowns. Just as one can Paint by Numbers or illustrate the Creation of the Universe on a chapel ceiling, Clown is a complex profession for such a simple, Germanic word.

I might have touched on the sadness I feel for our society as a whole; a piece of childhood is lost as children have less access to this memory touchstone to symbolize their youthful wonder and joy. This is a sense of play we grow out of as we mature and spend our whole lives wishing we could recapture. Clowns, really good clowns, can bring that to you.

I would have mentioned how in the 30 years I’ve practiced, studied, wrote and produced three very different theatrical clown shows*, I have changed styles a few times and my definition of “clown” has changed, adjusted and expanded far beyond my Dunning-Kruger inspired first-year definition. I would have mentioned there have been clowns on Broadway, in movies, on TV, and you loved them, and YOU NEVER KNEW THEY WERE CLOWNS!!!”

So yeah; that is what I wanted to say. But before I could get started on information that I think would add necessary nuance to an obviously sensationalized story, he said, “So, you’re sure you haven’t lost any business… [person who referred me to you] said they’d lost a lot of business.”

I said, “No, not currently but I –”
“Thank you, goodbye.”

I have to learn to be more a politician and get in my talking points before I answer their question.

* (OK, I co-wrote and co-produced two of the three with my very talented partners. But I like to think my input was *ahem* useful.)

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.