Anne With an 'E'

May. 27th, 2017 06:00
[syndicated profile] muddycolors_feed

Posted by Muddy Colors


If any of you have been watching the new show, 'Anne with an 'E', you've probably noticed that the opening credits are directly inspired by the incredible works of Brad Kunkle.

You can see that Intro here:


These similarities are no coincidence. Imaginary Forces, the studio behind the elaborate opening sequences for shows such as Stranger Things and Mad Men, worked directly with Brad Kunkle to help make his paintings come to life on the screen.


Check out this behind the scenes look at the making of the opening sequence right here:



You can see more images, and read more about the whole process over at Buzzfeed: https://www.buzzfeed.com/keelyflaherty/anne-with-an-e-opening
mirabile: (My beating heart)
[personal profile] mirabile
I have been saving so many links, so here they are. Lots of sad and/or upsetting stuff, but that's the fucking world we live in.

Everybody has heard about the devastating explosion in Manchester at the Ariana Grande concert. What miserable fucker targets children? Jesus. Anyway, Ariana Grande was new to me but this touching essay explained who she is and why so many children were at the concert: Manchester's heartbreak: 'I never grasped what big pop gigs were for until I saw one through my daughter's eyes': Music aimed at teenage girls is derided but the likes of Ariana Grande provide the kind of empowering, transcendent experience that terrorists hate. Written by a dad.

I'm equally sure that everyone has read The Atlantic's essay "My Family's Slave," which left me puzzled and disturbed. I found this article helpful: It Is Really Important to Humanize Evil. Normal people -- people who otherwise have no signs of derangement or a lack of a grip on basic human moral principles -- do evil stuff all the time.

Fivethirtyeight has an excellent graphic about mortality rates in the United States. Really shocking differences among different counties, and don't neglect the drop-down box so you can select specific causes of death. Also click the word "play" to see how mortality rates have changed since 1980.

I had never heard of the journal Evonomics before, but somehow I bumped into this essay, The Future of Work, Robotization, and Capitalism's Ability to Generate Useless Jobs. This is something I actually think about, no doubt due to reading so much Kim Stanley Robinson, but what will people do when robots and computers can do most of the work? I firmly believe that if a computer can do a job, it should do the job -- but where does that leave people? That's one of the biggest taboos of our times. Our whole system of finding meaning could dissolve like a puff of smoke.

I blame Nigel Farage for a lot of bad shit. Read him shoot himself in the foot: They Will Always Hate Me: Nigel Farage loves giving interviews. But if you ask him about his connections to Russia and about the consequences of Brexit, he'll put a stop to the conversation. Fucker.

I think this is an important discussion -- nominally it's a review of three books but it's a lot more than that: 'Bullshit is a greater enemy than lies' -- lessons from three new books on the post-truth era. I have the book On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt, and it is absolutely a must-read. Every library must own a copy by now, so go read it. I haven't read the other books discussed in the article, but they sound pretty good, too. [The bullshitter] does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of truth than lies are. You can't say that often enough: BULLSHIT IS A GREATER ENEMY OF TRUTH THAN LIES ARE.

A wonderful speech by the mayor of New Orleans about why they are removing the old Confederate monuments in the city. We have to reaffirm our commitment to a future where each citizen is guaranteed the uniquely American gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Librarians are awesome.

And Then There Were N-One, a short story by Sarah Pinsker that I really enjoyed. Science fiction. Cool.

That's a good place to end, I think. Here in the States it's Memorial Day weekend. It used to be called Decoration Day, which Wikipedia (an interesting read) says originated in the American Civil War. For me, it has another significance: on that day this year, Webster and I celebrate our 37th anniversary.
ratcreature: RatCreature begs: Please? (please?)
[personal profile] ratcreature posting in [community profile] fanart_recs
It's time for our regular reccer recruiting post (overdue actually *wince*), and to look ahead to the next month. So far we have four volunteer reccers who signed up for June with these fandoms:

* Dragon Age ([personal profile] dreamkist)
* Narnia ([personal profile] turlough)
* Stargate Atlantis ([personal profile] mific)
* Teen Wolf ([personal profile] ceares)

So while we already have a few recs to look forward to in June, it would of course be awesome if we had some more recs. There is still plenty of opportunity for you to jump in and volunteer to rec next month (or to convince your friends to do some reccing). And many cheers for all of our members who volunteer to rec, especially if you rec regularly. Your valiant repeat efforts keep the comm alive.

Looking even further ahead so far only ONE reccer has volunteered for July, so that month definitely still needs some love (and recs! *g*) too. So please consider reccing in a fandom of your choice, whether small or huge, and comment on the sign-up post and volunteer for June, July or even further ahead if you are so well organized, that you know your fannish interests and time commitments in advance. It's only four recs as a minimum, and you can rec any genre or rating. Or promote us to your friends or in your favorite communities so others do the work.

Open Rec Posting

The monthly open reccing period for all members starts now and lasts until the end of May. Since the general prompts don't seem to work as inspiration, I've decided to stop adding them, but to keep the open reccing period in case anyone wants to slip a rec in, without having to come up with three others for a fandom. However the recs do still have to conform to the usual rec format and follow the rules for what is allowed to be recced here.

(Comments here are disabled, because I want to bundle volunteering in the sign-up post so that nothing gets lost, and you can see the list of claimed slots there too.)

Casein Emulsion and Varnish

May. 26th, 2017 16:19
[syndicated profile] gurneyjourney_feed

Posted by James Gurney

Julien from France asks:
"I've finally bought Richeson casein online, still quite expensive [to import to Europe], but quite cool, actually different from gouache or Holbein's Acryla Gouache. My question is, have you used the Shiva casein emulsion or varnish, and can you use it with gouache?

First, a little background. For those who don't know, when you buy the emulsion separate from the paint, you're getting the liquid glue-like binder that holds the pigment together. Casein emulsion is a water-soluble, milk-based protein in liquid form in a can or jar. It's the same stuff that they use to formulate the paint.

Shiva is the company that originally made casein paint. The company was bought by the Jack Richeson company, which markets the product under both the Shiva name and Richeson brand, but I believe they're the same product.

Detail of Skysweepers, painted with gouache with some acrylic medium

In answer to your question, I have only experimented a little with the casein emulsion. I don't see any reason why you can't use casein emulsion with gouache. It would make gouache behave more like casein. You could even use acrylic medium with gouache. I used to do that a lot, because I liked the opacity of gouache, but I wanted it to have the sealed surface of acrylic.

I have used the casein varnish made by Richeson, which is a liquid brush-on varnish. As far as I know, they no longer make it. I found that it doesn't work well with watercolor paper because the paper is so absorbent. It just soaks the varnish up, so it requires a lot of coats before you start getting a gloss.

But on a panel, the varnish develops gloss with just one or two coats. The varnish is helpful for bringing out the depth and richness of dark paintings. If you're using paint with a matte surface, dark passages are prone to looking chalky. I find that the matte surface of gouache or casein is better suited to more high-key palettes.

If you want to varnish a gouache or casein painting, you could use a spray varnish, but keep in mind that once you apply a varnish, the surface is closed, and you wouldn't want to paint over it again with either casein or gouache.
runpunkrun: dana scully reading jose chung's From Outer Space, text: read (reading)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
Thick as Thieves: The Queen's Thief #5, Megan Whalen Turner: Kamet is a slave in the Mede Empire. Secretary to a powerful man close to the emperor, Kamet is content with his office, his scrolls, and the power he wields over his master's other slaves. Then an Attolian soldier offers to bring Kamet to Attolia.

I love how smart Kamet is about human behavior and the way he uses it to their advantage, though I am mystified that he, himself, is so easy to read. People read his mind multiple times, like take the words right out of it, and most of them don't even know him that well. So perhaps, as a slave, he wasn't as successful at schooling his expression as he thought he was, but in this world where your gods come down to talk to you, it's distracting because I kept thinking of supernatural explanations. Instead, he's probably just incredibly transparent, and maybe, since this is his account of events, likes the humor of exposing his thoughts so exactly, a reversal of the Senabid jokes with the clever slave and idiot master. Maybe, in this way, Kamet is acknowledging his past prejudices by making himself the butt of the joke.

Kamet goes through a lot in a short time, and his relationship with the Attolian basically carries the whole book, in between all the stabbings and such, and I enjoyed their interactions and the partnership they build. I missed Gen so much though—the Attolian's little remarks about him killed me: "No one knows what my king knows." My kink is people realizing that Gen is more than he seems, and this series continues to deliver. I loved learning all the details as the story came together, and even though it's been a while since I read the rest of the books and couldn't remember everything, I still had a broad understanding of the way this corner of the world works, and I felt confident enough reading this. Like I knew who the Attolian was even if I couldn't remember his real name. But mostly this is a story about Kamet and Mede and doesn't depend too much on past events. As long as you're familiar with the series, you should be okay, but a reread of Queen of Attolia and/or King of Attolia wouldn't be amiss. If you haven't read any of the books, this isn't the place to start. But—good news!—I highly recommend the series. It's filled with masterful character work, and this book is no exception.

Contains: violence, animal harm, mention of miscarriage, suggestion of sexual assault.

who does it better than we do?

May. 26th, 2017 14:30
musesfool: Robin and Starfire (Teen Titans animated) (a star between our hands)
[personal profile] musesfool
Generally speaking, I either am totally overprepared for something because I'm freaking out about every little detail, or I completely leave it to the last minute/do it by the seat of my pants, with very little in between, so since I am bound and determined to not fuck up this co-op application process, today I have:

1. gotten a letter from my employer verifying my employment and salary
2. lined up the recommendation letters from people who are not related to me
3. filled out as much of the purchasing application as I can at this moment (since it's been EIGHT YEARS, I had to google to see if any of my old bosses from Big Evol MegaCorp were still there and at least one is - he can direct them to HR to verify my employment if necessary)
4. freaked out a little about my previous landlord, as he is dead and therefore cannot be contacted! But the lawyer was like, there's nothing you can do about that, just put that he is deceased. I mean, I haven't lived there in 15 years so I don't know what the point is anyway, but it's required. *hands*
5. left a voicemail with my current management company asking for a letter verifying my tenancy - I'm afraid this is going to be like pulling teeth and will never happen and will spike all my plans, but dammit, they are professionals and should at least respond on Tuesday (I didn't expect to hear anything back today since it's the Friday before a 3 day weekend).
6. e-signed several documents which all have to be updated since there were typos in the address of the place I'm buying. (The typo was perpetrated by the seller's lawyer, which doesn't fill me with confidence, I must say.)

I'm sorry this is all househunt17! all the time! at the moment. It's basically all I am thinking about, except when I am thinking about how to get Lucy and Wyatt to have sex, and aside from like 3 of you, I doubt anyone is much more interested in that than this, though that might be a little more fun.

At least it is a 3 day weekend and summer Fridays start today! I'm meeting L for celebratory drinks later, and my sister is having a BBQ on Sunday (well, it might be an indoor party if the weather doesn't cooperate, but it'll be fun either way), and my oldest and youngest nieces will be celebrating their birthdays, so it's all good.

***

Endless Waltz by longai (SFW)

May. 26th, 2017 20:13
turlough: Deathscythe ((gw) scary monsters)
[personal profile] turlough posting in [community profile] fanart_recs
Fandom: Gundam Wing
Characters/Pairing/Other Subject: Wing Zero
Content Notes/Warnings: n/a
Medium: digital art
Artist on DW/LJ: n/a
Artist Website/Gallery: [deviantart.com profile] longai / [tumblr.com profile] leonjo

Why this piece is awesome: Mechas in action is another popular subgenre in GW fanart. This is a very nice example. Full of energy and movement and with a lovely colour palette.

Link: Endless Waltz

The tea house

May. 26th, 2017 17:35
[syndicated profile] edwardbgordon_feed
A tender structure of a pavilion, surrounded by a fest of blooming rhododendron…

Die zarte Konstruktion eines Pavilions, umgeben von der Blütenpracht der Rhododendron...


5.9 x 5.9 inch / Oil on MDF board / 15cm x 15cm / Öl auf MDF Bord

If you would like to purchase this daily painting, please send your bid by email. Startprice 150 Euro. End of sale May 27th, 2017 at 6.00 pm (local time Berlin Germany). Terms of Sale and Right of Withdrawal.

Wenn Sie dieses Tagesbild erwerben möchten, senden Sie bitte Ihr Gebot per email . Mindestpreis 150 Euro. Ende des Verkaufs gegen Höchstgebot am 27. Mai 2017 um 18 Uhr. Beachten Sie bitte die Informationen zu den Verkaufsbedingungen sowie die Widerrufsbelehrung.

© Edward B. Gordon, all rights reserved.
[syndicated profile] muddycolors_feed

Posted by Howard Lyon

-By Howard Lyon


Bryan Mark Taylor is a name that I have known for some time, but just recently have gotten to know him personally.  He moved this last year from San Fransisco to Alpine, Utah which happens to be about 10 minutes from my place.

I have loved Bryan's landscape and plein air work for some time now.  It strikes a wonderful balance where Taylor has simplified the information but created complex and interesting textures and surfaces.


Bryan grew up in Utah and credits the state's long tradition of outdoor painting as an influence on his career. He attended Brigham Young University, receiving a BFA and then studied at the Academy of Art, San Fransisco earning an MFA.  As he was wrapping up his MFA he began teaching at the school and particpating in various shows and competitions.  Taylor estimates he has been in over a hundred group shows and competitions and 15-16 solo shows.  I mention this because it speaks to his work ethic and dedication to his craft.  I am including several paintings through this post, but also go to his website to see more and find contact information too.


His work has be evolving in the last few years.  After thousands of paintings chasing different kinds light, texture and color, Bryan said that his interest is turning to new ways of applying paint.  



He also see the changes happening in the environment/climate and is motivated to capture the effects as well as some of the places being impacted. He has recently been on a couple painting trips (that make me a bit jealous) to Cuba and China. 

When the opportunity to go to Cuba came up, Bryan wanted to get there before the inevitable flood of American tourists brought money and change.


Bryan's work is a wonderful blend of interpretation and realism.  I can only imagine that it comes from doing so many studies from nature.  Look at the washy brushwork in the foreground shadows in the image above. It is contrasted by the geometric, heavier flat-brush application throughout the painting and the clarity of the rendering of the blue car is in beautiful contrast with the background.

Bryan also went to China. He said that he was able to travel with some other painters from China and visited some smaller villages.  While there he as able to observe the impact of environmental damage and advances in technology and industry to the poorer population.  It brought out some interesting thoughts. There was often a juxtaposition of beauty, tradition and change.  This was especially clear in some of the junk boats he saw.


He said that there are whole populations that live on the boats.  Raising animals on them, fishing from them and depending on the river for much of their living.  They also pollute the river, dumping trash and human waste right into the water.  The government in China is removing many of these people, disrupting a lifestyle that goes back generations and placing them in apartment buildings. Most of those being transplanted don't have skillsets to do something other than live on and from the river. It is challenging situation with complex problems. 



Bryan said that his roots in art also come from sci-fi though and feels that the time is right to come back to what inspired his imagination from childhood.  He is taking his experience and applying to more imaginative work. I couldn't be more excited to see where this takes him. - ArtStation page for Bryan


His concern for the environment influences his sci-fi work too.  The painting below is called Industrial Reef.  It is meant to evoke the Great Barrier Reef.  I can see that, especially in the way the ship seems to be lurking inside the opening in structure, ready to either duck back into the shadows or dart out. There is a sense of decay in the painting but also wonder. I see in these works that the technology we create has the potential to inspire and create wonder but with a cost.



As I asked Bryan to elaborate on what inspires him in his sci-fi work.  He said that one of the things he loves in sci-fi movies are those moments and scenes that inspire a sense of wonder and vastness.  The shots that usually come before the conflict, before everything goes wrong. He always wants those moments to last a bit longer.  You can see that in his work.  They feel cinematic, capturing the a moment filled with tension and possibility.  I love the tilt of the ship in the painting above, conveying motion and action and the perspective of the painting below invites the viewer to lean forward to try and peer deep into the scene.




Bryan will be at Illuxcon this year and I am so excited to welcome him here on Muddy Colors to the world of sci-fi and fantasy art.  His work is complex and exciting. I see influences of John Berkey and Syd Meade but the work is clear and unique.  Given how prolific he is, there will be many more inspiring paintings to come.

I closed my interview with him asking where he wants this new work to go. I think the fun and excitement of not knowing exactly where it might lead is part of the appeal for him.  He did say that he would love to work on Star Wars or Avatar or even do some book cover work. If anyone reading this has a say for any of those things, definitely reach out to him because I want to see where these go!

GOTG

May. 25th, 2017 22:33
cofax7: Aeryn: Completely off the rails (FS - Aeryn off the Rails -- Saava)
[personal profile] cofax7
So I saw Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 tonight, and spoilers still use a Walkman )

***

In other news, I would really like to go a year or two without a family medical emergency, y'all. But with luck I'll be able to make Lance Armstrong jokes with P. for the rest of our lives...
sineala: The Enterprise (Star Trek: TOS) flying into the clouds (enterprise)
[personal profile] sineala
In case anyone has not seen this link: there is a blog this week doing a Big Gay Fiction Giveaway where you can get about 80 m/m books for the low, low price of completely free. I mean, you have to give them your email address and presumably they sign you up for a bunch of authors' newsletters, but there are some good things there, like KJ Charles' first Magpie book. I personally am looking forward to one that apparently has a rancher falling in love with a werehorse. Also there's one that appears to be gay Oliver Twist.

The Stony Trumps Hate auction is still going on. Sadly, even though I really, really wanted to win [personal profile] garrideb's vid auction, she's up to $90, which is more than I can afford, and since I have, like, eight possible ideas rather than one solid idea (seriously, I have a list of 616 vids in the order I would like to see them), I don't think I can get anyone to go in with me on this. I am sad. So I will try to win Amonae instead because I would really, really like someone to make me a comics vid. I just really want a comics vid so much.

Also I am trying very hard not to panic about this but I am the highest STH auction, as the people competing over me have devolved into two groups now: a Double Time sequel ([personal profile] magicasen) versus a Star Trek AU sequel ([personal profile] kiyaar). There is, uh, a lot of money at stake here. I think the Star Trek AU is losing, although honestly I really can't tell anymore.

I have no idea when I'm going to write this, whichever it is, as my fic writing output at this point is scheduled through at least September (or later, depending on how long Cap-IM BB runs for me), but it's going to be fun and I should probably try to stop screaming internally, right? Right.
dira: Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Default)
[personal profile] dira
So there’s a new Twin Peaks… thing…? out? I guess? And I have never seen Twin Peaks (but am fairly well spoiled for whodunnit and so on) and have pretty firmly decided that, NOPE, NOT FOR ME, TOO CREEPY AND AWFUL.

…So tonight I was like “hey, I want to watch some TV and obviously Twin Peaks is not even in the running, but what should I watch? Leverage? Sense8?”

And then Netflix recommended me The Keepers. About the unsolved murder of a nun, and how her murder connected to the horrific sexual abuse of teen girls in the school where she taught because THAT IS MUCH LESS CREEPY AND AWFUL AND HORRIFYING THAN TWIN PEAKS? OR. THE OPPOSITE OF THAT. SO OBVIOUSLY I WATCHED THAT.

(I mean, the series seems amazingly well done and I’m sure I’m going to watch the rest of it, just, you know, this is EXACTLY LIKE that time I decided not to read the second and third books of the Hunger Games trilogy because they were too grim and depressing and instead I went and read a book about the Donner party. GUESS WHAT, GRIM AND DEPRESSING AND THE ADDED HORROR OF ACTUALLY BEING TRUE.)

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musesfool: girl with flowers (the sweetest thing)
[personal profile] musesfool
So after a committee meeting first thing this morning at work, I schlepped out to the island to meet with the mortgage broker and the lawyer and sign a bunch of documents (so many documents) and write a shockingly large check (and yet not the largest, if this thing is a go). Then he went through the basic steps of the process with me so that I know what's coming (and what's coming is a lot more of the same re: signing documents, also collecting documents and making copies of them, and then after that, writing more checks, but that's not until I have the actual loan commitment, which will hopefully be soon or at least within the time allotted) and then if they approve that, the dreaded board interview. None of which I am particularly looking forward to, but hopefully I sail through with flying colors instead of getting somehow derailed by picayune bullshit, which I've also heard can happen.

We overnighted the documents to the seller's attorney, so hopefully sometime next week the listing will show as "in contract" rather than "active" (if it continues to appear at all online).

Now I am going to eat my face off, since I haven't eaten since 10 am, and then maybe try to sleep. I remembered that I had an icepack in the freezer last night, so during my now-usual 3 am - 5 am sojourn, I strapped that onto my calf where two of the bug bites are, and it helped immensely with the itching. Eventually they'll go away and I'll be able to sleep again. Just have to stand the itching until then. Sigh.

***

Mystery solved!

May. 25th, 2017 17:52
goss: (Planting a tree)
[personal profile] goss
Thanks to [personal profile] lilacsigil, who correctly named my unidentified flower as being Scadoxus multiflorus. Also known as blood lily - never heard of it.

Hails from Africa, and is maybe poisonous? Very interesting...
[syndicated profile] linesandcolors_feed

Posted by Charley Parker

Rubens red chalk profile portrait


Profile Head of an Old Man (“Niccolò da Uzzano”)
, Peter Paul Rubens

Red chalk and red chalk wash, over a layer of opaque light gray. Roughly 9 X 6 inches (22 x 16 cm). In the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum.

In this beautifully realized chalk drawing the bony geometry of the face and the suggestion of veins in the sitter’s temple and neck suggest carful observation on Ruben’s part.

The masterful tone work is a combination of textural chalk marks and a wash made either by wetting the chalk in areas or by creating a wash from chalk particles suspended in water and applying it with a brush like an ink wash.

 
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All Systems Red, by Martha Wells

May. 25th, 2017 12:17
runpunkrun: dana scully reading jose chung's From Outer Space, text: read (reading)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries #1, Martha Wells: The adventures of an organic/mechanic construct that thinks of itself as Murderbot, even though it would rather watch TV than kill people. Unfortunately, as the only security unit assigned to a group of researchers on an unexplored planet, Murderbot's job is already cutting into its media time, and then, of course, everything starts to go wrong.

I loved this novella. The voice is great—dryly funny, yet secretly compassionate. The humans had personality even though—outside of the two most important to the plot—they all seemed basically the same. Look, Murderbot doesn't care, okay? Except for how it does. My only complaint is that the ending is a bit rushed. I bought it, but the author should have taken a little more time to get there.

Recommended—especially if you like space toasters with social anxiety and jokes about murder. I'm excited for the next book in the series.

In the garden

May. 25th, 2017 17:36
[syndicated profile] edwardbgordon_feed
Another day spent painting in the garden. Now it´s time to go down to the pub for a pint… I could get used to this life here…


5.9 x 5.9 inch / Oil on MDF board / 15cm x 15cm / Öl auf MDF Bord

© Edward B. Gordon, all rights reserved.
[syndicated profile] gurneyjourney_feed

Posted by James Gurney

On Saturday, May 27, I release my newest video tutorial called: "How to Make a Sketch Easel."


Beginners and pros alike will be able to follow step-by-step as I build my compact, lightweight easel. I've been perfecting this design for decades, and it's ideal for sketchbooks and small panels.



Plus I'll show four different ways to make a white diffuser. Each one is a vast improvement over the blowdown-prone white umbrella. 



I thoroughly cover materials, tools, and methods, and I share alternate build techniques for those who don't have many power tools or workshop skills.

If you've built a similar easel design and would like to share it with the blog community, I'll be doing a post about 'Your Easel Designs' this coming Monday. Please email me a few photos with a sentence about each.

The HD download of "How to Make a Sketch Easel" is more than an hour long and costs only $14.95. 

The DVD version is available for $24.50, and it includes a slide show.





monanotlisa: (deep end)
[personal profile] monanotlisa
On the one hand, I was overprepared (had brought my painkillers just in case). On the other, I was underprepared. TMI for some, or 'Wednesday' in Germany )
[syndicated profile] muddycolors_feed

Posted by Lauren Panepinto

By Lauren Panepinto
  
I've been working on a project that has had me doing a ton of reading lately into artists and the psychology of why artists make art, and what sometimes (often) stops them from making art. And I'd very much like to hear what you guys think about the issue, because most of the readers of this blog are artists and creatives, and thus have experience with the mental health of said artists and creatives.


Brian Wilson by Bjorn Lie • David Bowie by Daria Theodora

First let's define terms. When I say artists I don't mean just visual artists. In Otto Rank's Art and Artist (his 1932 work about the personality development of artists) an artist was defined as a "productive personality" — by which Rank meant someone who produces something. I think it's too easy to get "productive" confused with "productivity" (aka efficiency) so I think a more accurate term for us today would be "creative". I know that's a fancy buzzword these days, but I think it captures the idea that we're talking about artists and writers and musicians and all kinds of people who make creative stuff.



I'm trying to distill a very big book dense with a lot of ideas (originally written in German) down into simple terms here, so forgive me for oversimplifying if you know his work but Rank says artists make art because of two reasons:

1) The universal human fear of death makes people crave immortality, and the productive personality deals with this fear through making works that will outlast them. (As opposed to other personality types who freeze up in the face of this fear and get stuck, or ignore or avoid dealing with this fear entirely.)

And/Or

2)  Productive personality types are more sensitive and take in more stimuli than non-productive personalities do. This extra stimuli/sensory information will overload them unless they do something with it, so they offload the excess energy by putting it into their creations. This second theory aligns nicely with the Highly Sensitive Person theory by Elaine Aron, which I'm currently rereading. (Thanks to Chris Oatley for reminding me of that parallel when we talked recently.)

Now, while reason #1 (fear of death) certainly holds true on some level, I have to admit most artists I know don't start making art for immortality (or fame). Yes, I know these kinds of motivations can easily be subconscious. However, most artists I know have been making art since before they were old enough to really understand death enough to fear it — that seems kind of a post-pubescent problem at the earliest, unless you've had some kind of trauma in your younger childhood. And while many artists certainly do get praised for their art young, and are encouraged to continue due to that praise, that doesn't seem to be motivation enough to choose a creative path for life.

In fact, most artists I know really didn't choose creating. Whether they do it as full time work or on the side, creating is something they were compelled to do. Something they have to continue to do.

So that brings us to reason #2 (creating as a compulsion). It seems to me that many many artists do use creating as self-medication. Very often as a self-directed therapy. I know I do. Sure I want to create a lot of the time, but sometimes it's a lot of work, or I just don't feel like it, and I still have to do it, for my sanity (or semblance thereof). I'm a wreck if I haven't made a thing in too long. However, if you dig into this reason, I think you come to a big chicken-and-egg question: Are people born more sensitive and then become artists to deal with the input overload? Or does being an artist force people to become sensitive, taking in more and more sensory info, until they are forced to keep creating or overload like a tap stuck open?

I'd really love to hear your reactions, input, and opinions to all that. I apologize if it's not perfectly formed, these thoughts are very much still a work-in-progress, as well as mid-research.

Wilson by Ana Mourino • Bowie by Rebecca Leveille Guay
This might seem like a purely theoretical mind exercise, but I think it has definite real-world implications. Recently I read Brian Wilson's memoir, and I was struck by how profoundly his mental illness crippled his ability to make art. You may or may not be familiar with Wilson's music, or you may suddenly be asking yourself "she doesn't mean the surfing music guy, right?" but in short, this is a musician of such skill (I won't say talent on this blog or Greg Manchess will kill me) that John Lennon called Pet Sounds the best album ever made. He had a nervous breakdown in the mid 60s (from some combination of overwork, a bad acid trip, depression, and maybe schizophrenia), and he wasn't able to tour or create music for decades. He fell into an abusive doctor-patient relationship with a predatory therapist for years. Through work, family, and friends, he was able to pull out and create music again many years later, but as an obviously damaged artist and individual. Reading the memoir, I couldn't help say to myself over and over, what creations of such a genius were lost to us because he didn't find a way to someone who understood the mental health of artists and could support him properly enough?

Wilson by Matt Rota • Bowie by Marc Scheff

Then I read Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll (thanks for the recommendation Mallory O'Meara) and read the chapter on David Bowie. The book is a great look at the origins of rock music and how much religion, ritual, and art have affected it throughout it's evolution. The Bowie chapter is a great description of a man who pushed himself so hard and so far artistically, who absorbed so many influences (and cocaine) and struggled to digest and synthesize them into persona after persona, rebirth and redefinition, that he had a nervous breakdown. But Bowie was able to put himself back together and return to making art from a stronger place that supported him for the rest of a very long and insanely fruitful artistic career. It reminded me a great deal of reading that shamans and medicine men of many tribes around the world were chosen for the job because they had a mental crisis or disintegration (what we would call a breakdown today), and were able to reform their personality, often with the help of the current shaman. This also mirrors the descent into and return from the underworld in Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. If there is a musician that fits the bill of a shamanic hero artist, it's Bowie. So what was it that made Bowie able to survive his mental demons while Wilson drowned?

I feel like the answer is somewhere in the above questions about why artists make art. I'm not cocky enough to think that's an answer anyone is going to be able to figure out once and for all, but I think it would be critically useful to artists working today if we had a more recent working hypothesis. Could we figure out what the difference was between Wilson and Bowie? If we could distill that down into actionable steps we could save more masterworks from the jaws of mental illness, and more artists from being stuck and frustrated and in despair.

If you have a book recommendation along these lines, I'd love to hear it. If you have thoughts and/or stories about how these questions apply to you and your creative life, then please comment below.






May 2017

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