Tag Archives: productivity

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.



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.

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.

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!

It’s Technically Tuesday

cutting_a_treeContinuing my struggle to do a “new post every Tuesday,” I realize my idea of Tuesday may be different from the rest of the world. As a night owl, generally I am the most productive after the world sets its sights on sleep. That is, if I’m being productive. I define Tuesday (or any day) as from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. So I may go to bed 3am on Wednesday morning; that still counts as my Tuesday.

Today, I walked through the woods and encountered the tree that fell across the path a couple of months ago. Then, I had started to cut through it with my Leatherman’s saw, but it was slow going so I figured I’d come back to it and do a bit more. I don’t travel that route with the dog much, but today, I passed by it and took out a few minutes again. And next time I come by, if I have my knife, I will again. Maybe Nature will help me out with some termites. Until it’s done. And this is how I hope to write my novel.

I realize I have a novel to write and I’m not moving forward on it, and I have a blog which needs content, I have decided to “pet two kittens with the same hand” (my vegetarian peacenik wife doesn’t like that expression about the birds and the stone) and thusly move forth and do a twenty-minute writing exercise here. It may or may not end up in the book.

I realized, and I’m certain the science will back me up on this one: If you don’t work on a project,  it won’t get finished. So, here is 20 minutes of blathering. I hope something emerges. The story is of a late Medieval traveling performer, who is recovering from a “clothing mishap.”

The glow of the candles in front of the tavern beckoned Bimo up the path. The twilight added weight to his eyelids and feet.  Thusly, he dragged his rope and his rumbling stomach that much further from Framstadt. With his purse empty, he had no idea how to pay for a meal and a bed, but this was the place to find them.

The music and laughter warmed his soul. Two figures sat at a table outside the door, drinking and arguing. One silhouetted hand tossed a small crust of bread to the ground. Bimo rushed as quietly as he could to pick it up. Reaching under the table, he found a handful of dirt. He pawed around and found it, surrounded by fur and a cold, wet snout. The dog’s low growl put a chill down his spine. He drew his hand away, now wide awake. And dressed in a fern.

“Oy, Dungle!” said a low voice, “a little wood fairy wants to be stealin’ food from yer dog!” 

A mountain of muscles, leather and dirt (but few teeth) stretched skyward, and the table was thrust aside by an immense tree-trunk thigh. “What for ye takin’ ma dog’s food?” boomed his  greasy, crumbed, hairy orifice. He lunged  down toward Bimo’s neck, who rolled backward into a handstand. Dungle stopped in his tracks.

“Please don’t hurt me,” Bimo said. “I’m just a hungry traveler…” 

“Well, eat my liver!” said Dungle, “He really is a wood spirit! The gods must’ve built ‘im upside down!”

Bimo stood, motionless, on his hands. “Uh, yes. Yes!” Bimo thought quickly, “I am a wood spirit! And I require crusts of bread! Bring them to me!” 

“Right away, wood spirit!” Dungle and his friend rushed toward the door. 

“And sausages!” Bimo added.

They went in. Bimo came down from his handstand. He cautiously put his ear to the door as he rubbed his shoulders. He could hold a handstand for just over five minutes on a good day, and today, he was tired. Inside, he heard laughter. The music stopped suddenly. The sound of fist on flesh and the sound of a body hitting the floor. Footsteps. Many footsteps. Bimo rushed back to his handstand.

The door opened and a crowd of people rushed out.

“Here ‘e is,” boomed Dungle, “like I told ye — the upside-down wood spirit!” Out rushed the tavern keeper, the musicians, three whores, townspeople and a few traveling merchants, all eager to see the wood spirit. A hushed circle formed around Bimo, whose fingers strained to keep himself erect. 

“Er, hello.” he said.

“He talked!”

And that was 20 minutes. Plus some extra time for research, a stop or two by Thesaurus.com, dreaming, and editing-as-I-go. Not much, but the wheels have moved, just slightly out of the mud.

What are you trying to get done that is a daunting task? You think you can sit down now and put in 20 minutes, to the exclusion of other distractions? Or ten? Or five? One step forward is one step further. No steps is no steps. A writing rate of 20 minutes a week may take 10 years to get the book written, but it’s a start. And maybe Nature will step in and help me along with random firings of the brain.

New Post Every Tuesday

Hello blogosphere.

I have nothing to say, just got back from the beach and am rejuvenated as I hit the ground running.

I just discovered this guy’s blog, “Wait but why” through his post on procrastination. And its sequel. It’s awesome. He is also awestruck by stars, but that’s another topic. Squirrel!

It’s weird; when I saw the two rather long posts on procrastination, I wanted to drop everything I was doing and read the entire thing. OK; maybe not so weird. Actually, tragically normal. One strategy he proposed was making little victories in the battle against self-defeatism through attention-deflection. Not grand plans; just little victories that become habits. One way to do this is what I’ve told other people for years: creating deadlines for one’s self is a great way to have that panic which creates productivity. He said, If you’re trying to write a consistent blog, put “new post every Tuesday” at the top of the page… Hence the title of this blog post.

deadlineIt reminds me of this beloved cartoon I clipped from … I think The New Yorker about 10 years ago and stuck it to my wall.

In addition to the “New post every Tuesday” however, (I paraphrase so it sinks into my brain in my words) “people who plan to write a book don’t. People who write just a page a day, after a year, have a book.” It’s funny because the day before I read that, I met my dog-walking friend John who thanked me for advice I’d given him a year ago. He was having trouble getting his second novel written and I told him, “write just 10 minutes a day.” After a year, he’s way into his second book and all I have to show for it is being able to say, “good for you.” It seems I give great advice, but don’t take it unless it comes from someone else.

So, this time, two someone elses have given me similar advice. I have a novel to write. I have a show to write. I have clients to call. I have paintings to finish. I have a couple of to-do lists to get to. I doubt I’ll get it all done in this lifetime, so I’d better go find a religion that guarantees I’ll have another lifetime or two. I’ll get right on that.

So, looking at the top of this blog, you will see a new blurb: “Updated Every Tuesday.” That is, if I can figure out how to change my WordPress settings before I see another shiny, pretty thing. Stay tuned.

Thank you Stephen King

20130610-024117.jpgIt is very strange to me to say this, but thank you Stephen King.

I mean this sincerely although you have hurt me personally and professionally, and countless other people with your writing.

It is strange for me, a clown be to be thanking you, Stephen King, a man who is singlehandedly responsible for more cases of coulrophobia than any other single human who ever lived. The majority of people I speak to about “fear of clowns,” which has numbered in the dozens, possibly hundreds in my 30-year career, trace their fear back to your book and movie “It.”

You probably didn’t realize that would be the effect of your work; you probably didn’t mean to give a complex to children too young to be watching your movie on cable TV about a homicidal interdimensional being that takes on the guise of a whiteface clown. But you did. You probably didn’t mean to shift (mostly American) attitudes against an ancient profession (older than writing, mind you), but you did.

Still, I thank you.

You see, I am working on a novel. My first novel. What I am thanking you for is a quote of yours on writing, which I just saw the other day:

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

Well said; succinct. Like a man who has practiced the craft, as well as the Art of good writing. You have inspired me to “get up and work.” I’ve been slacky about getting it written: “I’m not in the mood,” or “I don’t know how to proceed.” You have inspired me to push through my self-doubt and write every day. So thank you.

By the way, my first novel is about a medieval clown. That’s irrelevant, but I thought it might be interesting to you. . I’m sure it will be garbage. I realize that when learning to write, the first million words are just practice.

The book will probably be 50-80,000 words when all is done. So, doing the math, it will be around my 12th novel ––the one where I really am able to use the English language with the precision of a surgical laser and readers are dying to read my every word –– that I will write a story in your honor, for which this is the synopsis:

Working title: “That”

Early 1960s. The story opens with a sort of nerdy child stopping on the curb in front of his suburban house after school to read a book. From the bushes, he hears a voice: “Child — child — would you like some free books?”

Enter the imposing figure of the bespectacled Featherweight the Dancing Horror/Fantasy Writer. Featherweight really only appears to be human; “That” is actually an interdimensional creature that feasts on the flesh of outcast children. After a series of bloodbaths, the children of the town beat him back to Dimension X by hurling at him a barrage of split infinitives and broken metaphors.

(Flash Forward)

Featherweight returns in the late 1990s, having gained his strength back over the ensuing 30 or so years. Like a bad simile, he always turns up –– largely rejuvenated by the inexplicable fame of The New Kids on the Block. Unfortunately for him, but fortunate for Mankind, he is immediately squashed once he reads the level to which writing has sinked in the then nascent World Wide Web. Forevermore thereafter, the world is safe from homicidal interdimensional horror/fantasy writers.

The end.

Mr. King? I look forward to being seen as a professional in your eyes.