Each Drawing: Graphite on Paper 9″ x 12″
Inspiration isn’t hard, habit is. Hard to maintain and hard to depict. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, just the same thing over and over again. It’s why training montages are montages: doing the gradual work isn’t photogenic with out visual compression and uplifting sound queues.
In the same way addiction is much more photographic than recovery. The guzzling of booze looks better and more exciting than the thousands of daily decisions not to drink.
But without habit, nothing occurs, and artists who only wait for inspiration don’t stay artists very long. The special circumstances of inspiration leave you high and dry most days. Most of the time I look at my paper and pencils tired and disgusted, thinking “What, this again? I have no idea what to do and no desire to do it”. And this is after I’ve done all the work of preparing a space to draw, and bought an abundance of supplies. The pettiness and tedium of not knowing what to do in the midst of abundance seems even more churlish. My only options are reminders that in the end, my interior drama doesn’t matter, that there is no audience to empathize with my block or my struggle. There’s just a simple instruction:
Do what you can, when you can. And then do it again
Today is the day that I mark as the one when I first joined the furry fandom and thus it’s the day I celebrate the arrival of Gnomen, my first fully conceived animal surrogate. A birthday of sorts. A naming day. Somebody is six years old.
Gnomen is something very distinct from the other ways that animals have cropped up in my work, even though I’ve used images of monsters and beasts for years. There was so much rabbit imagery in my work in the 90’s that in most people’s minds I became “The Bunny Guy”. Even today much of my drawing language stems from being a child absorbed by cartoons, comics and animation. I wanted to exist in the frames of a Bob Clampett cartoon as much as I wanted my work to hang on the walls of a museum, if not more so. Animation cells remain magic objects for me, especially ones that show weird bits of a sequence that you wouldn’t think to look at otherwise. I’ve thought alot about how the rebroadcasting of classic studio cartoons on TV in the sixties was a generation’s conduit to the legacy of disreputable American entertainment: burlesque, vaudeville and minstrelsy. Bugs Bunny cracks wise in a voice that includes immigrants, genderblurred and the dispossessed, even as he traffics in blatant stereotypes.
Much of my earlier work was speaking through that imagery, using it to point to discourses of race and queerness. Furry seems to me to be about something very different. It is a kind of working, of identity formation that has more to do with embodiment, than it has to do with pure imagery. Gnomen is a character who has adventures that Nayland can’t. They undergo transformations and troubles and at the same time they embody my own sense of hybridity and mutability. Gnomen is a kind of working that rarely finds a place in galleries these days, but weirdly enough has landed on the cover of a magazine.
Owning my relationship to this fandom has brought some important things into my life, and I think this year is going to be about doing more of that. Here’s a picture I drew to celebrate Gnomen’s presence in my life. If you want to see me drawing it, I put this video up on youtube.
…about not posting enough. The past week has provided two states of being: feeling ill, thus too limp to reflect and type or doing stuff, in which case there is no time to type. The result? A week slips by with nothing. So now finally some time is wrested from the job, which allows for a quick update. here’s some of what’s been happening:
1. I’ve attended three plays Lee Bruer’s new production of “A Doll’s House”, Cabaret, Wonderful Town. All through the great graciousness of my friends who offered me tickets.
2. I’ve spent weekend in bed convulsed by coughing to the extent that I thought I had ripped a muscle.
3. I haven’t played any Pikmin.
4. I purchased two bookshelves at Crate and Barrel.
5. I watched the people’s court.
6. I compiled a list of people I needed to contact, calls I needed to return, projects I needed to nudge forward…and despaired.
7. I had a number of exchanges and attempted to apologize for my boorish behavior.
8. I organized a still life of t-shirts and ribbons in the back room of my gallery so that it could be photographed for an ad in artforum.
9. I’ve eaten BBQ ribs on several occasions.
10. I’ve drawn.
11. I’ve spoken to my therapist about submissiveness.
12. A friend graciously came by and fixed the desktop machine, if by “fix” one means walking me though another clean install.
13. The buzzing, counfounding strains of NPR have woken me every morning, and the self reflexiveness of Adult Swim has droned me to sleep each night.
14. I’ve fretted about my filing system, and the extreme amout of facial hair left around my wash basin.
15. My family hasn’t called, nor have I called them.
16. I have found myself unable to decide between a dead or fake christmas tree.
…therapy, and before tonight’s “Slidefest” an event which I had to curate this week because I had kept putting it off. Thank goodness I know some very patient artists who consented to come and present work tonight. Otherwise things would be looking pretty pathetic. In the 45 minutes of downtime, I’ve knocked out a drawing of a sinister stuffed rabbit for a benefit action that someone approached me about yesterday. They’re supposed to come pick it up any minute. I truly have to stop saying yes to everything because I can feel myself becoming more and more stressed out. The back twinges, acid reflux, and little bouts of binge spending like the one I just went on at the Strand and where I purchased:
A Taschen Book on Velasquez
Another Taschen book (icons series) on Indian Street Graphics
Waiting for Food #3, an R.Crumb placemat drawing collection
Drawing in England from Hilliard to Hogarth
The Acme Novelty Date Book, a collection of Chris Ware’s notebook sketches
America’s First Dynasty – The Adamses 1735-1918
Then I went by Barnes and Noble on Union Square, because I had a real hankering for The Education of Henry Adams, and also my friend Carl Frano might be working there. He was, and on the way out I saw that Amphigorey Also had been marked down to $10 so of course I had to pick that up too.
Meanwhile I sit at home and come to tears over the boxes of books in my apartment and how I can’t get way from them.
Well I have a long history of self medicating through shopping, and the ostensible justification for this particular binge was that I had just deposited a wholly unexpected check from my NY gallery. All of these images feed the work in some way, or would if I gave myself the time to do it. Sitting with the pencils in hand to make this benefit drawing felt very, very good. and it’s always reassuring to see that “I’ve still got it” hand/eye wise. But sometimes it’s thin broth.
Much of therapy was spent talking about the trip to SF and I found myself trying to articulate what I’m feeling about LJ right now, its odd mixes of intimacy and self presentation, especially when the mix includes real world contact.
I am so glad I am not living in California right now.
Actually this entry is an excuse to list my current mood as “moody”. If only there was an option for moodily moody. Late yesterday I ran over to the gallery to meet with Sarah, the designer who is fabricating “the big one” the latest piece for the upcoming London show. “the Big One ” is a 16 foot long white nylon bunny suit proportioned like a child’s snow suit. We had to adjust the ears: too small, a little too pointy. Last Friday I spent a couple of hours rolling around on the floor stuffing it and it’s one of the best ways to experience the piece: as a cross between furniture, wrestling opponent and pal. So far most people who has seen it wistfully say ” I wish I could lie down on it.” To me yesterday it looked both inviting and corpse like. There is a kind of glee that comes over me when I’m showing folks a piece and I feel that it’s working, that they are thinking about what they’re looking at, that it pleases them. Very distinct from the ways in which I please myself in the making of the things. On reflection I’d say that my mental state while working is more one of suspension, an attempt to attune myself to the varieties of experience that are emerging from the work situation itself. I can find my way back to that kind of attention most easily when I draw consistently. All of which is now leading me to think that I’m probably not letting my self draw much theses days because I sense some sort of obstacle waiting for me in the drawing, a technical hurdle or emotional situation that I need to confront and work through but that I’m hanging back from. All of this goes back to the studio issue. I need to make a time and a place to make the work. Or that is the story I’m telling myself and I wonder about it being a species of avoidance. I have a history of making myself think that I can’t deal with something until I have the “right tool”. I can’t start in on that book project until I have the right laptop and the perfect cafe to sit typing in. Setting is nice, but the opportunities for working are always at hand around me every day. It’s like needing the right yoga mat, the right gym shorts, the perfect pen. I’m willing to compromise on the equipment I use for my vices, so why do my virtues have to be so perfectly accessorized?