Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I LOVE my Boobs- part deux

Confused? Read "I LOVE MY BOOBS PT 1" first! 
I have been thinking about it for a long time now, and I have finally decided to iron out my boobs. Yes.. It has to be done. It will be the finishing touch on a long obsession with one of my most favorite artworks of all time. They've been with me for a very long while but I figured it was time to close an old chapter of my life and start a new one. They really didn't suit me in college, anyways.  Wanting to see pictures of my "ironed out boobs?" Here ya go...

Hmm, not what you were expecting? Don't get mad at me, nature made them that way.
These are blue footed boobs. They're seabirds that live on the Galapagos islands. As the legend is told (Aka Wikipedia), they were named by the Spanish word Bobo, which means "stupid or foolish."  Boobs are also known for their unusual mating dance, which involves a march-like ritual where both boobs literally show off how blue their feet are.

They are the weirdest seabirds ever, and I'm fascinated with them. To me, they represent not only fertility but our ridiculous pursuit of love that we all partake in,  a dance of desperation and hope that someone will finally notice our colors. (Ok, and also I read Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut and if you havent read it yet you need to!) To this day I will even admit that the blue footed booby is my "spirit animal." Something about this unusual creature inspires me to no end.

So anyways, way back in 2007 and 2008, I went through a phase where I became obsessed with this animal. I drew it very often, making it the subject of many study sketches and even a few projects, including a major painting:

"Boobs in Love" Acyrlics

As stated earlier, I was heavily influenced by Kurt Vonnegut's book Galapagos. Especially this poem he wrote in the book, which I will share with you as I show some of my blue footed booby sketches:

Of course I love you,
So let's have a kid.
Who will say exactly
What its parents did;
"Of course I love you,

So let's have a kid.
Who will say exactly
What its parents did;
ts parents did;
"Of course I love you,
So let's have a kid.
Who will say exactly
What its parents did; 
'Of course I love you,
So let's have a kid.
Who will say exactly
What its parents did;

'Of course I love you,
So let's have a kid
Who will say exactly
What its parents did;
'Of course I love you,

So let's have a kid
Who will say exactly  
What its parents did -' 

This sketch also includes the endless poem. It really left an impact on me as I worked on my boob projects.

Aside from the poem, the sketches and painting I did inspired me to push my series farther. As the concept sketch on the right implies, my original idea was to do a pillow companion piece for my painting. However,  I quickly realized that my fabric companion piece would be unique enough to stand on its own.
When I first began working on it, I knew very little about fiber arts, especially sewing techniques and applique. I didn't even know what applique was. In my frustration, I began haphazardly sewing without any rhyme or reason. 

The idea transformed from a companion pillow to a piece that allowed me to work with "no rules," just my pure artistic instincts. This method of reckless creation is very liberating, and I suggest you try it. Too often do artists get caught up in the little details of their artwork, consumed by the pursuit of lucidity and perfection. Not every art piece you do has to be "by the book." Sometimes, instead of following the so-called rules of your craft, your work can be created by just doing what feels natural. Just let go, and enjoy the process. It's not about how nice it looks, but how it was created.

I believe that it was this idea of lawless creation that propelled me to work on my Boobs for so long. I worked on them for about 3 years, most of my time in high school. By my senior year my peers knew very well how much I loved my project. Some friends even gave me the (somewhat unflattering) nickname "Boobs" because of this! I'm going to believe that's why they called me that, at least. 

The most incredible thing to me was how open minded my teachers were about the whole thing. In a world post Columbine, public schools state their Zero Tolerance policies for any items that could be misconstrued as weapons, including anything from guns to butter knives. Apparently, large sewing needles didn't count in this category. 

How I transported my boobs- I simply rolled them up.
In my years of school I had never once been confronted by a school official about my somewhat dangerous tool. Not only that, but I was never even told to put my boobs away. Sometimes I would sew my little project literally all day, through note taking, lectures and presentations. I imagine they were just happy I was alert and paying attention, and wasn't sleeping on my desk like the rest of the kids. 

My Boobs also served as intense therapy for me when I was stressed. It got me through my first nasty breakup, which was a very painful time in my life. I dare say that my boobs helped save my life. It was something I could do to occupy my time instead of dwelling over bad thoughts. In fact, studies have shown that sewing actually lowers your blood pressure and improves your mood. I didn't know this at the time, I just knew it felt good to do something so repetitive, and the results were very rewarding. 

The sewing was done mostly in regular black thread. Some parts, like the outlines, have been sewn so intensely that the needle will no longer penetrate the fabric. Other parts have been textured by the string. The negative space in the leafy moss details, for example,  has been completely covered in black thread, leaving the leaves puckered and raised 3 dimensionally.

 The wings and back have also been heavily sewn in to. On these parts I used browns and grays, trying to keep true to the Blue Footed Booby design. Many of the fabrics I used were recycled scraps. I even used a piece of a white waffle knit thermal t-shirt, as you can see on the boobs' chests. To my amazement, these fabrics still remain pristine white, even after countless fingers and hands have felt its texture.

However, to truly enjoy my Boobs you just have to see the back of this piece. Behind the scenes, so to speak, reveals the chaos of my method of sewing:

The white stuff is from a gluestick. To keep the threads tight, I glued them down instead of knotting.

Eventually, as my sewing skills improved, I didn't have to glue my threads down anymore. They just stayed where they were put.

This piece has got me through thick and thin, and although I am sad to see it be finished, I truly think it's time to move on now. As you can see, there isn't much left for me to sew anyways unless I was to go for covering the entire work with thread.
In conclusion, I encourage you to start your own blue footed boob project. Start a project where there is no deadline to finish. Put it down for a few months and pick it up again. Throw caution to the wind and create something reckless. Run off of emotion, not perfection.  Try a medium you aren't familiar with, and go off of instinct instead of specific directions on how to use that medium. Trust your artistic eye. You may discover something new, and most likely it will be about yourself. And remember, art doesn't have any rules.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Importance of a Sketchbook

I think sketchbooks are so fascinating. Honestly I enjoy them more than refined, finished artwork. I love finding artists that use sketchbooks, the pages always tell a very personal story about that individual's life. Flipping through these books will reveal old ideas, lists, project outlines, and personal notes... they serve as a autobiographical snapshot of the artist's life. Alas, more often I find that many artists own a sketchbook, but never use it. They're always either barely touched or have a million torn out papers and scribbled out drawings.

I've finished 9 sketchbooks since 2004, (red) one in progress!
It's truly a shame, because I have found great value in using a sketchbook. I have actively been keeping one since I was in middle school, when I discovered I needed to put all my doodles and thoughts into one place instead of crumpled notebook paper. Looking back now, I already am thankful for keeping up with it for so long. I simply wouldn't be able to function as an artist without it! I use it to flesh out project ideas, for references, practicing, and often to cure boredom. Believe it or not I've used it as a social crutch... working on a radical drawing in your book is a great conversation starter. Your sketchbook can even make you money- I have earned several commissions just because of the diligent work taken from its pages.

The back of my first official sketchbook named Pinkerton.
I, of course, take everything to the extreme and really went crazy with my sketchbooks. They're awesome to look back on now because I did a lot of cool drawings/sketches through the time I've had them. I also name and decorate all my sketchbooks, by the way, it's just part of my "ritual."  The names are mostly random, but I secretly like to believe that the books choose their own names. Weirdly enough, many of them actually reflect how I was actually feeling in real life at the time.

Here is some of the random work from my 9 sketchbooks. I love seeing how I've grown and what kind of stuff I was doing at the time.

For AP Studio Art class I had to do some stupid sketchbook assignments. Here's an over zealous self portrait!
Ooo I was such a bad kid. I drew this in after school detention.

 The frog is retelling a tale from its childhood.
A class assignment requiring me to talk about my idols and art shows I've been to. I had to do SHT!

My mind is organized. Two of my favorite geeks on the same page.
I was very proud.

This is close to how I looked my freshman year, minus the fruit.

One of the few sketchbooks with a torn out page in it. Didn't happen often!
  Oh, I forgot to mention my massive sticker collection I keep in the fronts and backs of all my sketchbook. It's probably more impressive than my artwork! I collect tons of them.. But that's a whole other story for another time. Here's a little taste of what I have in store for a future post.. Check out my stickers!

If you aren't keeping a sketchbook yet, I hope you will find inspiration to start one soon. It's never to late to start. It's an outlet for your thoughts, but it also serves as a milestone in your artistic development. To be really artsy fartsy about it, it shows how far you've come and how far you still have to go.
One last thing I think people should remember about sketchbooks is that they are perfect because they are imperfect. Our imperfections as people are what make as fascinating, and simply trying to hide that part of us by having a pristine sketchbooks with no mistakes or "only good drawings" seems pointless to me. Someone once told me to never scribble out your drawings, because you may change your mind about it later and discover it was a good idea after all. I tried to follow that idea with my sketchbooks, and it's paid off for me many times.

Also, if you're interested in more of my sketchbook stuff, check out this post for my life drawing series.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Genitalia face

An unusual abstract watercolor that has additional naughty hidden images inside it..
This oddball picture was an experiment in style during a sketchy part of my life. (I'm pretty sure I was having a mental break down at the time.) I did a series of these abstracts, all of them quickly scrawled out and fit together like puzzle pieces. This, however, is still my favorite of the series. I feel it has the most, erm, personality.

I like to consider my blog PG, but this is kind of pushing it a little bit. Luckily, you can't see all the "sordid bits" unless you have a perverted mind. So speaking of which, can you spot what's off about this image? How many crude representations of human genitalia can you find hidden in this evil picture?

Prints are available: