Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Paying Attention

It's true.

Doodling keeps me focused.

I'm not alone in this.

But I have gotten increasingly bolder in being obvious about doodling in meetings. I have colleagues who won't sit next to me in meetings because they find my drawing distracting. And I have colleagues who try to sit next to me for the same reason.

The image above is a snapshot of doodles from a meeting last week -- taken with an iPhone and manipulated with apps therein. A field sketch digitally remastered in a "stolen" moment of aesthetic therapy.

I am counting down the days until work lets up and I can get back to bigger projects with better equipment. Until then, I use my need to draw and create to help me keep my focus, to help me pay attention.

(Image made with iPhone apps.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

One Final Test -- I Think

Here we are, sharing a meal and facing the open door of future
possibilities. This is the door I walk through to reboot life, love,
and blogs.

Suprise. This is a staged moment -- a moment on a stage. This is a
first rehearsal. A first iteration, before the repetition, before the

Great way to start a show, eh?

Yet Another Test

And so I am wondering if this work-around solves the problem of words with images via email/mobile.  We’ll see.  Otherwise, enjoy this silly rendering of me being, well, warped.

This is Another Test



I am trying to figure out how to make a blog post via email.  The post before this one (also a test) included both image and words, but of course, the words did not come through (except as title).  I beg your indulgence if these posts are cluttering your feed, but I don’t know how to figure this stuff out without doing it.


For now, enjoy the short but frequent contributions.  And just so this doesn’t become tedious self-referential noodling, here is a little haiku to go with the last post’s image:


Cartoon rendering

Of me hiding in the woods.

The frame makes it art?

This is a Test

Monday, March 22, 2010


So.  How does it happen that I make a longish post about still doing art despite the calls and obligations of work, and then disappear for over two weeks? 

The truth is, I was blissfully "off the grid" for a week, backpacking in the not-yet-Spring Appalachians.  Sometimes, getting away from this overly interconnected world is a good thing.  I took a journal and art supplies with me, but my drawing skills were definitely spidery after hard days of hauling a very heavy pack up and down mountains.  It's official: I am now a "flatlander."

When I returned from this trip, I found that work had piled up in my absence.  I also found that my home computer, where most of the art lives, had missed me so much that it decided it needed major maintenance before it would pick up where we left off.  Fickle bitch, my Dell.

But true to my promise, I have been making time for art.  The works I present today are made solely with my iPhone and its various apps.  I've been uploading them on Twitter under the hashtag "#vispoetweet".  I consider them a kind of visual poetry, although probably other visual poets would see them as too figurative, too much like illustrated captions than actual visual poems.  Whatever.

Now, I know there is some way with Blogger that I could do at least single picture updates to the blog from my iPhone.  And I promise I will look into that.  I also realize that I could link this blog to my Twitter account, but I resist that.  Despite its status as "microblogging," Twitter seems like a very different ethos from this blog.  Even so, for now, I thought I would catch up on the blog with a little re-posting of work from Twitter. 

Anyway, my point is that the art continues even if posting it to the blog sometimes eludes me.  I'm not sure if Twitter will really hold my attention.  Like the bird in the logo, I flit to and from Twitter with almost migratory regularity.  I like sharing comments and using it to find interesting links.  And I LOVE when people use Twitpics.  But it also seems like an endless conversation with no focus in a very crowded and echo-y room.

Not bashing on Twitter, really.  Just saying I, like most of its users, have a love/hate relationship.  And I guess after two months of these #vispoetweets, I hoped one of my followers or someone else might join me in the fun of sharing art rather than just photo-ephemera of the day.  If nothing else, consider this blog post an invitation.  Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Digging In and Stepping Out


I am trying to make good on my promise to myself (and whoever out there might care) to post on the blog at least weekly.  Not that anyone wants to read an "obligation" post or even that a post needs to be such a commitment.  Then again, why try to predict why anyone reads these things or what they expect?  (Oh God, I think that question might be a blogger cliche!)

This week I am buried under administrivia.  It's all important work and I do care about it, but it all feels like so much distraction from what I really want to do.  Digital art projects and opportunities for such are popping out of the woodwork.  Feast or famine, as my mom would say.  

Last night, I took time to attend a Faculty Association (union) workshop about preparing to go up for promotion to full professor.  Not that I am anywhere close to considering that move, but it was a meal paid for with union dues and arguably information I needed to know.  I appreciated that the workshop leaders reminded us that going up for full is a choice, and one that there are many legitimate reasons not to make.  Sometimes we have other interests in our lives that consume our energies and yet do not produce that which the institution values or recognizes with promotion. 

This next week I'll be pursuing one of those competing interests as I head out to the woods with some graduate students (friends, really) for my annual Spring Break backpacking trip.  I've written and performed about these trips before, so it's probably wrong to characterize them as only a hobby interest.  Still, this time it feels like more of an indulgence as I take the time for trekking trail away from all the other things I should and could be doing.  In the end, though, the mental payback for this investment in my need for time outdoors will make it worth it -- even if I don't end up publishing about this one.

Meanwhile, around the edges of these busy days I still find time to do the occasional doodle or push a stylus around the graphics pad.  I tend to reach a point in the day when I just can't do the labors of pedagogy and copy-editing manuscripts (mine or, more often, other's), when the right side of my brain craves color and pleasing form.  So, I push away the piles of paper and push away the guilt at pushing them away, and I click on the relevant Adobe software that allows me some escape.  And then, my shoulders relax and my spirit is lifted.

These colorful panels of abstract comics could be trees, could be spring's wildflowers finally pushing through hard ground and remnant snow.  They are their own path through the woods, their own commitment to breath and beauty.  Whether they lead to something anyone one at this institution cares about is hardly the point.  They lead me back to myself, to a sense of identification with the aesthetic.  And sometimes, I think the "stolen" moments to walk this path are all the more precious for being stolen, for being that time when I reach the end of my ability to meet obligation and must, instead, meet my own needs to play and, well, re-create myself in recreation.

So yes, this is a bitching-post about how I wish I wasn't so tied down with obligation, about how I wish I had more time to do art.  Yawn.  But it is also a sharing of art, in words and colored pixels.  Because I'm not the guy who laments he doesn't have time to do art.  I'm the guy who does it anyway, in and around the edges of these very full days.

And now it's time to pack up some brushes and head to the woods.