Silence, January 2019

So I just finished a week of banning myself from YouTube binge-watching, and this is what I came out of it with. It's an A5 pencil on paper doodle, and I dunno, I guess it doesn't really seem like much, but I'm thinking this might lead to some other ideas...

But first - what's it about?

Well, as you might know, I've been on the lookout to join a new band, but unfortunately that search isn't going too well. In fact it's going so badly that I haven't even gotten near any kind of audition. And I gotta admit, it's driving me a bit crazy. I'm finding that every hint of a lead gets my hopes up, but then the leads fall flat or go silent and I feel like crap again.

It's almost as if I might actually really want something here. Heh, a rumination for another day.

Anyway, making no progress really sucks. Worse, without my YouTube habit, I didn't know what to do to distract myself each day after obsessively checking every group or website where people look for band mates. And I got tired of googling unhelpful advice. So I started drawing, and it started with the tilted square, then the word "silence", then the shapes began to spread...

And it became an attempt at a portrait of the state of my mind. All these cluttered thoughts competing for my attention, taking different paths, forming different shapes, going in circles, crossing over each other... Why can't I find a band, even to audition for? Should I start my own band? What kind of metal do I wanna go for? What do I do about so-and-so who messaged me but suddenly stopped replying? How do I solve problems x, y, and z? I just don't know how to go forward, and on that note, it's been pointed out to me that my drawing kinda looks like the map of a poorly planned city, with its numerous illogical roundabouts and dead ends, making navigation a total nightmare. Where do I go from here?

And then there's the silence. Both the silence of my own lack of music making, and the silence I'm feeling in my band search. And it leaves this gaping void in the middle of all the chaos. It's an emptiness that cannot be filled. There's just nothing. The silence is in the way.

I mean, to some extent you might see that space as calm. And well, on the upside, not being in a band means I have no commitments in that area - no rehearsals to attend, no songs to write, no promo to keep on top of, nothing. Being in a band is hard work, so yes, that space does have an element of calm to it.

But let's change that perspective with a bit of digital magic:

Now that calm reveals itself for the darkness that it is. There's always more than one side to these things. And I honestly worry that if I don't make something happen in my music life, I risk slipping back into depression again. Long story short.

Leading to other ideas

So one of the difficulties I've been having with art is that I don't know what kind of artist I am. It makes it very hard to decide on what art to make. And when you look at other artists, or when I just looked at my fellow Master of Art classmates, almost all of them have a "thing". What that "thing" is can vary - it might be some subject they're particularly interested in, or a material they really like working with, or it might be some kind of signature style or motif, or some combination of all these. But I never had a "thing". I've just kept jumping from idea to idea, with nothing much tying them together, other than that they came from me.

But now I'm thinking that I could actually do something with the chaotic geometry I've done here. It's not the first time I've doodled in a similar style - I've found evolving examples in my old sketchbooks going all the way back to 2005. And while I don't really know that this is going to be my "thing", I do think it's something I could work on for a possible series of art that I might even be able to take to a gallery one day.

There are a few things I like about this style:

  • It's mindless enough to be kinda relaxing, while still achieving something. Compare this to painting realistically, which looks nice, but actually gives me a lot of stress while I'm doing it and trying not to be such a damn perfectionist.
  • Unlike mindfulness "zen doodling" styles [eg 1][eg 2], it makes no attempt to be pretty, and shuns cutesy ordered patterns. Just like my mind.
  • In the past when doing this, I've either just outlined the shapes or coloured in the shapes themselves, leaving white space in between. But by colouring in the negative space between all the shapes, not only does it create a greater cohesiveness, it also allows for that metaphor of roads and pathways, alluding to cities, and the neural connections in my brain, while at the same time preserving the chaos of the random shapes, like broken pieces of my mind.
  • By combining the chaos shapes and paths with other elements like I did here with "Silence" and the undrawn void, I can come up with compositions that have different conceptual focuses, while still relating them back to the shit that goes on in my head.
  • As I develop the style and my process, it could easily be combined with various approaches to colour. Maybe the paths could be different colours. Maybe the individual shapes. Maybe the whole thing could be done on some background of transitioning colour, or even over images. And this opens up all kinds of possibilities for further explorations of meaning.
  • There's a lot of opportunity for symbolism and art wanky over-analysis, which is kinda enjoyable as long as I don't have to get unreasonably academic about it haha. I mean look how much I'm writing here!
  • It's easy to do this while listening to music or... getting lost in YouTube videos... XD

It's a bit daunting thinking about scaling this up from A5 to larger sizes that will make it more like Art™, because yeahhh it's gonna be heaps time consuming. But on the other hand, it'll be worth it for the intricacy, and the potential for art audiences to wanna look at it more closely in a futile attempt to recognise a pattern. Haha, my brain is always looking for visual patterns, connecting the corners of walls and doors and blinds and things... I wonder if this could be like a therapy to shake that outta me? [slight tangent]

And then I also have to think and experiment a bit more with materials before I really jump into it. I found that pencil on paper (110gsm) was maybe not the best choice. There was a point where it became hard not to smudge it, especially when I needed to hold the paper down but had almost no space left that the oil in my fingers wouldn't mess things up. Luckily, this style doesn't care too much about errors, so using markers or paint pens on a firmer surface might really be viable without creating too much extra work. Or I dunno, maybe I need to build in a border around the image, and just be careful about how I do things.

Lots to think about still, but it has potential...

What do you think?

And as usual, I'm working on getting the scans sorted for my patrons, just need to clean a few things up, but that should be all good for the end of month goodies! Thanks for all your support! ♥