I really only wanted one thing for Christmas: a little free time to draw and paint and manipulate pixels. Now that the grading is done and the obligatory rituals of consumption are more or less past, I have some time to spend with art. My big fear, though, is that absent my guilty escape from obligations, I won't pick up the pen or the brush. And maybe that fear is enough to keep me in motion. And maybe not. Even prior to the "new" year, I feel this precious time slipping away, oozing down a winter wall.
So I turn to this relatively new practice of abstract comics. "New" to me and, apparently, new as an emerging genre out of a confluence of various aesthetic and popular practices. As with the related form of poemics (poetry plus comics), there is a productive tension in the hybridity. Is this more abstract than comics? Do these sequenced images rely on narrative too much? Do I tip the balance too far in one direction? Or are these questions really about my own identity? Am I a comic strip creator first and a fine artist second? Am I making do with one because I don't think I am very good with the other? Poet, illustrator, artist, performer, scholar -- why do these roles struggle so much in the blend?
And then there's the personal challenge of color. You may have noticed from the web site that I tend to work in black and white and shades of gray. I guess that makes me a value artist (har har!) The sad truth is that I am slightly red/green colorblind. I work with color tentatively -- which is to say, boldly or not at all. Perhaps I latch on to abstract comics because there is less need to match color with some representational analogue. Even so, I am given to some fairly unusual color combinations -- or so I am told. In my eyes, these palettes are quite pleasing.
Also, I think I harbor some suspicions that my work with digital graphics is its own cop out. I am largely self-taught and rely a bit too much on Photoshop. I've taken time today to try to teach myself more about vector graphics, and to try to get somewhere useful with Adobe Illustrator. Boy, is that tedious! These works are not done in Illustrator, but are a combination of scanned pen and ink work reworked in Photoshop. Hey, it's what I know.
In the end, that's probably what really matters. It's what I know. It's what I do. A true artist is an artist in his/her own way. I never wanted to make a living with this stuff. I have a job, and I am fortunate in that it so often intersects with these interests -- inspirations flowing together from unanticipated sources and producing odd and intriguing mixes.
So I end where I began, seeking in this time off for the holidays opportunities to do art -- and worrying that I won't. Even as the evidence at hand suggests this is an unfounded worry, I think I realize work and art are caught in their own blend and flow. The one with its obligations and time-sucks fostering the other, either with privileged access to time and tools or by providing provocations for aesthetic escape. And the other both a deep wellspring of joy and its own source of abstract anxieties -- is it good enough, is it right, is this who I am? And aren't those just the silliest questions ever?