defining summer [and "jobs"]
i went for an impromptu walk with one of my favorite friends and artists sydney at the berkeley marina last week and we were talking about how our "summers" were going so far. this is the first summer in a long time she isn't teaching. we were talking what it's like to get back into the groove of doing studio work. [in my mind what i often refer to as "the real work"]. but that it took some time to get the mindset right. that in a way it could feel like jumping into a cold pool - a shock, and then incredibly pleasant as you got used to it.
i was mentioning that it felt so luxurious to go in there day after day - the pacing of it is just so different than when you are teaching and the days are broken up. at this stage of the game i'm pretty good at preserving at least ONE full day in the studio for myself per week - but sometimes life takes over and that's not possible.
we also talked about how it's almost like training for a sports event. i realized i had to figure out a whole new way to sit because after 3- 5 hour sessions of drawing my ribs were sore from being hunched over [even though i'm conscious of the need to get up and stretch, i figured out i needed a taller chair and to tilt my drafting table a bit more - so it was more of a lean, rather than a hunch].
i ended up thinking a lot about summer. what is summer? what is "summer vacation"? there's the cliche - warm weather, pools, travel, time off. when you are a kid or in college it's the relief - no homework, no school [unless you sign up for summer school] - less responsibility. and i think about how summer will change as the little grows.
for me, at the present it means really getting my work done. it also means some lazier hang outs with friends, visits with out of town friends [yay!] and perhaps a few home improvement pipe dreams. but i have a show to prep for. and everything is in increments of 1000 [the joke being that i should be glad it's not a million, right?] - and so there's A LOT - of everything.
it's interesting to spend a solid whole day drawing the exact same shape over and over and know that i will be picking up where i left off tomorrow.
some say it's meditative... it is in a way - but i find that i have to be both present and not present - which doesn't feel like meditation. i have always done this in my work - the accumulation - the en massing of elements to a degree where they begin to form their own thing.
but this time it feels a bit different - the parameter of a definite number is interesting. it is making me alter how i arrange things. things are more linear, concrete, arranged, patterned - less free and organic [altho that can't be totally lost cause it's my hand repeating these shapes... and circles and lines are ultimately organic too].
a fun part, though, is that i get to listen to radio lab, npr, this american life, or ted talks - and often something will come up that i will then research - which may or may not lead to something. which is all part of this weird thing us artists call process. the part that can't really be measured. the part when someone asks you "how long did this take you"? in your head you think - well do you want to know about the actual time i spent on the piece - in hours - or are you talking about the time i also thought about the piece when driving/showering/walking/making the little's dinner - or are you talking about the time i spent looking at it wondering if i should move a part of it? or thinking how stupid i was for centering/not centering/not leaving enough space/leaving too much space - or are you talking about the time i spent googling and wikipedia-ing and reading and buying books to figure out data or understand a concept or find a reference image ???
and so when ira glass said that "finding ideas is a job" [on the DVD of this american life season two the bonus track there is a live event and someone asked him where all the ideas for shows comes from] i can only nod - emphatically.
and then think that i am lucky that this is part of my job. and that i relish this job even more in summer.
happy july. i'll be celebrating july by being on HABIT - so i'm busting out the real camera. [hurrah]. and i think i'll be taking a break from look up and down while i do. and you? what is "summer" for you?
** the pola images are all from this spring. there's a house on the way to my parents house that has a dogwood - which is rare in these parts. one day when picking up the little - a misty rainy day - i stopped and shot these with my 680 and one of the few remaining packs of 600 film i have.