Singing Again

The last time was November 2013, months after I broke up my band The Howlin’ Shibanski. The quiet acoustic gig at an empty bar only deepened my sadness and emptiness, rather than provided the closure or hope that I thirsted for.

I’ll write about the band some other time.

Tonight, I performed three songs at an open-mic event in downtown Stockholm.

It was more of a personal triumph more than a successful performance. I didn’t turn into Douche Mina again. I was scared, nervous, and vulnerable. Nervous, frozen fingers didn’t stop from playing, I smiled and continued.

And when I hit the high or bolted the strong notes, I came alive.

I’ll practice and get back again to play. I don’t need the stage to feel whole or at home, I have that in myself and elsewhere now. But I am alive when I sing and play my music.

[New] Writing Should Be Read Out Loud – Why You’re Not Over Your Ex

Woman and Grief

This is a new idea that I’m exploring.

I’ve been reading a lot of good writing over the past couple of years. Do you ever read it out loud in your mind, as you go along? I’ve been doing that since I was young.

Writing, especially good writing, should be read out loud. Sometimes we can only hear the genius of a turn of phrase or construction when it hits our ears.

So, here’s my first recording of Why You’re Not Over Your Ex by Kris Gage.

Recorded with written permission from the author.

Featured image via x1klima on Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

Looking Back on the Doodle Challenge

30 days of real joy

This past Wednesday was my first submission for the 30-Day Doodle Challenge. I think I actually grew as a person during this challenge!

My fellow Kivran Danning asked me a month ago if I wanted to do the challenge with her. I had hangups about making art or drawing, but I went against them and just said yes. Just like with the Colories project, I’m moved by people’s reception of the posts, the amount of new people I’ve met on Instagram, and the amount of new artists I’ve discovered on the platform.

The Process

The goal was to doodle every day for a month. I started out by drawing on paper with pencil, but I felt frustrated by my lack of technique. I ended up just judging what I was doing.  So, I switched over to digital drawing and I felt liberated by the medium.

I really enjoyed making this series. Even when I couldn’t draw what I felt or saw in my mind’s eye, every piece felt like an achievement for me.

There was no prior deliberation or preparation for the style or themes. Apart from the 2 submissions that were pencil drawings, I used Adobe Illustrator Draw and Autodesk SketchBook.

First Post

#doodle 1. doing this challenge with @danshi_stockholm

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Last Post

Favorite Pieces

A friend and former co-worker told me recently, “Don’t scrutinize what you do.” Really priceless advice.

#doodle 10 #doodlechallenge2018 #doodlechallenge

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The brushes in Sketchbook are just spectacular. The final product really expressed how I was that day – serene and hopeful.

#doodle 11 #doodlechallenge2018 #doodlechallenge

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This one felt like I doodled on a wall.

This one from day 12 speaks to me because of the thickness and density of the brush strokes.

I kept on thinking of pointillism, as I did this and other similar pieces. I liked the idea of the extreme control in producing dots or points.

Lessons Learned

  1. Pick and run with the simplest tool. I probably would have given up, had I continued with pencil drawings. There is value in just picking the simplest tool and making whatever you can with it.
  2. Artists are just people who make art. I never dared making art before because I thought I needed someone’s acknowledgement or a degree from an art school.
  3. Constraints deepen the process. Just dabbing at the screen was fun, but I learned more and produced more interesting ideas when I enforced some constraint on myself – working with complementary colors, only points, only lines, and so on. It spurred me to be both conscious of technique and push myself further.

What’s Next?

A friend told me that I should look into art school. I’m going to do that! Shout-out to her for the encouragement and vote of confidence.

I’m writing down words and ideas for a longer series about our inner emotional and thought lives.

Finally, I’m sketching or drawing every day on my tablet, without posting it online.

Looking Back on the Colories Series

What started off as a curiosity with what could be done with a rubber duck, became a month-long comics series. I have been really moved by people’s reception of the posts, the amount of new people I’ve met on there, and the range of people I’ve encountered.

Yesterday was the last post on Instagram.

seize the sky.
ep 30, Colories

I wanted to reflect on the process, my favorite posts, lessons learned, and what’s next.

The Process

The goal was to produce a piece within an hour or two every day, for as long as the idea or concept seemed interesting to me. I didn’t want to get bogged down in the production or execution or polish. I just wanted to make art every day.

I really enjoyed making this series. Sometimes, I would get the idea a few minutes before taking the photo. And at other times, an idea would come to me and simmer for a while.

There was no prior deliberation or preparation for the style or themes. I decided all that when I took the shot. This kept me out of my head and ensured that the idea would be simple.

A few times, I ran out of ideas and so I would play with a cultural reference, pun, or simple using a prop.

ep 27, Colories – can you guess the reference?
ep 24, Colories – “turnin’ trix on myself”
ep 20, Colories – “amongst the scraps”

My Favorite Posts

Episode 16

“I’m a shit sandwich”

Episode 8

It was fun making the double exposures in Photoshop.

                          “all over the place”

Episode 1

I found the card in some advertisements in my mail.

“we’re OK and you’re OK”

Episode 7

My first stop-motion animation film. I really became interested in the medium because of this episode. There’s a separate write-up here.

#colories ep7 I did #comics #stopmotion #film #shortfilm #shortfilms

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Lessons Learned

  1. Show up every day. I made this a part of my daily morning routine and it paid off. I looked forward to producing something, even on days where I felt low or empty. The process, rather than inspiration, carried me.
  2. Listen to the weirdest idea. This is risky at first because it’s counter-intuitive. I thought that weird had to be planned or part of some greater theme. But just noticing and then following through with a weird idea is satisfying.
  3. Don’t get bogged down in execution. Enforcing the external constraint of time (doing it quickly) helped me stay pragmatic in how I would make the episode.
  4. It doesn’t have to be episodic to be episodic. The whole series is more an exploration of feelings and states, rather than a conventional narrative of a rubber duck. Sometimes, it was about me and sometimes the duck personified an idea or a problem, or just a human struggle. Keeping it loose and going also helped me to stay current and just keep on producing.

What’s Next?

I’m about to finish a 30-day doodle challenge. I will write a similar post about that.

And then… I want to make more art! And learn how to draw. And paint digitally out in the world.

Keep checking back!

On Growing Up

I saw a woman today for whom I have feelings. It’s a quiet, warm affection I have for her. I’m happy when I see her face. My body tingled when I’m around her.

I wanted to try to like her less today or in a less intense way. But I don’t fight like that anymore with myself. I accept and I surrender. Then, the feelings stay but they go quiet. They may have just wanted to be seen. Like putting with care a pacifier into an irritable child’s mouth.

Our last couple of hugs have been relaxed and charged with meaning. Familiar hugs. You know that they’re going to let go, but you’re not in a rush.

She’s strong, solemn, a fighter, and warm. I miss her when I don’t see her.

I’m Resting

The wind was fierce
I was close
to be swept and pierced

Hurling through wind
as I gasped
nearing old sin

Tumble weed I was
but I rest
As tumble weed does

The Past Three Days

I know I went dark these past three or four days. It was dark and it felt dark.

Life revolved around keeping head above water. It looked possible at a few points that I would sink again.

By the grace of God, I didn’t. I just fought through it, a war of attrition through every moment until the enemy retreated.

I am left with a sense of longing, more than shame or guilt. The past weeks before this week’s toil were just great – immersed in the creative arts and blogging every day.

Back on track now. Till tomorrow!