Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Gnothi Seauton

 As a creative person (those astrologically-minded might consider it a Libra characteristic, as well), I am subject to periods of great production, as well as outright doldrums.  Sadly, I have been in the grip of the latter for some months, and my work, mentality and heart have suffered for it.  There really is no excuse - if anything, I'm in the midst of facing my own laziness, sadness and unfounded fear of the creative force - and addressing it at long last.  Anyone who has lived to any extent knows the presence of personal demons - mine being the loss of my father a few years ago, and the subsequent, sudden uprooting from the place I loved and called home during my early adult years - New York City.  Self-doubt followed, and the flagrant pace at which I led my illustration career came to a gradual standstill.  

"I'm taking a little time off", I have told people - a project here, a commission there, occasional posters for the Singapore Slingers.  But no more of the pieces I drew as a celebration of life itself - the dizzying visions I constantly had in my mind which seemed to leap from the sidewalks of Manhattan, and the sands of Coney Island.  In short, I was afraid - of the emotions that would emerge as I drew, of the possibility that I might not be able to express myself as skillfully as before, that I would be haunted by the memory of my father's incredibly honest, elaborate and in-depth critiques given to my prior work.  I had brought so many pieces to fruition with him in mind, on tenterhooks to share the latest with him.  The last one he saw, a portrait of a winter siren surrounded by coral-maned hippocampi, he compared to a Bach fugue, going into great detail the musicality of the piece.  He had a good handle on what I create - the relationship was hand in hand.

For several reasons, this weekend I decided to shut out the rest of the world and sit at my illustration desk, a heady mix of music lifting my dull brain... and draw.  Something.  Anything.  No goal, no project, no prescribed purpose at all - just for the sake of expression.  I closed my eyes and thought of the City (always capitalized) I miss dearly, and was soon taken mentally to the shores of Coney Island.  I will never be able to explain the power that stretch of beach holds over me - a life-force bubbles in the surf itself.  I decided to revisit an image that's been in my mind for years - Taffy and Casimir, dancing on the sand.


 One an androgynous, living butterfly of a creature inspired by the club kid persona of a dear friend of many years (who inspired me to move to New York in the first place), the other a melange of many characters I am particular to:  dandy, dancing-master and horseman.  They are two of the many personalities that waltzed through my mind during endless hours, days, months on the "enchanted Island" - I would still love to work up a book about their crowd, someday.  Children of all ages would likely enjoy it very much.


 As I refined this piece bit by bit, followed by hesitant-then-fluid nib to bristol paper, my mind slowed, rested... then began to rejoice.  A calm rush of happiness came over me, with the reassurance that, Yes - I can still do this, No - there is nothing to fear, and Yes... it's quite alright to feel my father's presence.  It's always there, and always will be - what matters is how I approach and harness it.  Energy is a constant, after all - what one does with it determines everything.


 Amusingly, my old methods of delineating forms came back to me in an instant.  Most of my newer work is more "fleshed out" - the arms have more mass, the fingers are articulated, things are at least a touch more in the way of being realistic.  This piece is pure Danielle during her enthusiastic discovery of New York City - every aesthetic, bodily and spiritual sense of a great City that had been absent in my life up to the moment I moved there one late August.  A sense of swift, kinetic energy took over my silly drawings - lines, colors and ornamentation suggestive of movement that echoed a pace in life that took me under its wing.  Despite being a stranger, I never felt more at home.


 I only wish I had sat down sooner, and realized how desperately I missed the feeling of drawing for the sake of drawing.  Yes, life gets in the way - but far more than anything, it is ridiculously easy to shut oneself down creatively.  The damage is immeasurable.  For all of my sewing and other side projects, they are pointless distractions compared to the fulfillment of putting my trusty Ivison, Phinney & Company pen nibs to bristol.  This is where my soul resides.

Thank you for dropping by - I look forward to posting far more frequently than I have in the past. 

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