Wednesday, June 19, 2013

IMC 2013

Last year's IMC was a revelation; this year's IMC was a staggering confirmation.

It's always hard to find the words for things like this. So much gets packed into a week, and it's in such a unique context - it's nothing like real life, and very hard to parse once I leave. Beyond that, I still struggle to not feel like I'm boasting when talking about how well my art was received and the things people said to me.

My painting this year way by absolutely no means perfect, and there are are a lot of things I struggled with in the process... but the responses I got from my peers and teachers give me no real chance to doubt myself. For Rebecca Guay to tell me that the emotion is there, for Mike Mignola to compliment me on my composition, for Donato to call the hands I'd just painted good - god, it just kept going, and I sat there shellshocked because I barely know what I'm doing, I'm twenty-three, I graduated last year. But the voice in the back of my head that wormed its way in sometime during college has been rendered by and large silenced: the struggle now is no longer in overcoming the conviction that I'm mediocre, but in believing enough in my abilities not to get discouraged by the uphill climb.

All of the teachers had things for me to fix, places where I needed to push - "You're just so timid!" said Dan Dos Santos, shaking his head, laying in cadmium yellows and reds and oranges into the light on my figure - but the message I got loud and clear is, at this point, I need to take those hours of my ass in the chair and the brush in my hand and keep going. I'm not there yet: I'm missing that polish and fearlessness that I see in all of the art I love. But I look at my art and see something coming toward the surface, and each successive painting is capturing something a little closer to my goal.

In the coming year, I'm planning on taking Rebecca's SmART School class. It's expensive, especially for a Starbucks barista, but I've watched the art that's come out of it and it's frankly astonishing. Two years of the IMC have rocketed my art upwards at a pace I would never in a million years would have believed possible, and I'm absolutely going back for a third year... but if I'm serious about improving, I have to use all the resources available to me.

I don't really know what my point was supposed to be. All I do know is I left the IMC last year deeply shaken by having had the unconscious, deep-seated understanding that I was mediocre ripped from me - and this year I left feeling a little blinded by how clearly I saw the path at my feet.

You guys, I am going to make so much art.

Friday, June 7, 2013

IMC assignment, take 2

So, about that last post -

- some peers and also Dan Dos Santos gave me feedback which amounted to 'you are really in your comfort zone/you're better than this/push harder push harder', and when I went back to the thumbnails I came to the realization that I just... had nowhere to go with them. There's a lot of emotional exhaustion tied up in them, both from the timing of having my awful crash on the same day as the assignment email came out, and from the fact that I just don't like A Midsummer Night's Dream to begin with, really - and I decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

Also contributing to the decision to abandon/step away from my Midsummer illustration was my acceptance to Light Grey Art Lab's October show, Rolemodels. The piece for it is due mid-July, and if I had waited to start on it until after I returned from the IMC, I would have had less than a month to do it from thumbs to finish, coming off of a week that last year not only left me exhausted, but also emptied my artistic tank down to nothing.

Beyond the way that the timing works for doing the Rolemodels piece at the IMC, it's an image I'm really, really excited about. I was already exhausted by Midsummer and I hadn't even gotten out of the thumbnail stage - but every stage of this piece so far has been nothing but inspiring.

The show itself is for D&D-type fantasy self-portraits, with all of the artists being one of several classes and having to represent themselves through that context. I'm a paladin in this case, a religious warrior, and I (being spiritual but very non-religious) was shocked to find a D&D-canon deity that really did fit: The Path of Light, more philosophy than god, which holds its adherents to honing their personal skill and following the light.

As I was thumbnailing I found myself drawn again and again to the struggle of following that light - I shied away from triumphant poses (that one thumb aside) and focused on the journey. The thing about the thumb I chose, the thing about the sketch I did, is that I feel in it the exhaustion that I know intimately, but also the hope and the urge to go forward.

I hope that the painting can carry that sense of weight and forward motion.