Notes from My Sabbatical: Weeks 5, 6, and 7

"My Sketchbook is Going Dark"

As you can tell from my multi-week check-in coverage, it has been more "lost" than "post" here on the Pacific coast.  As the seemingly interminable winter yields to the slowly gathering warmth of the fairer seasons, my days have picked up pace.  The irritating spring rituals of taxes and student aid applications had to be completed.  My teaching semester is winding down (I'm done at the end of May until September) and so I am looking forward to fresh teaching opportunities in my community.  There's a show looming in May which means I'll spend the balance of April painting while trying to keep up with my assignments for "The Year of the Fairy Tale."  My days have been filled to bursting and yet, somehow, I found time to pause and really think some deep thoughts about where I'd like to take my art next.

I'm going to be forging a new path.  I have things I want to accomplish before the Parkinson's makes me too unsteady to realize the images and ideas in my head...but that's the simplistic explanation for my decision to try some new things.  In truth, these "new" things have been percolating in my brain for years, even decades.  I began setting the stage for this next phase in my art life a couple of years ago when I decided to focus more on illustration.  As I drew and doodled, I built my confidence and technical ability.  Now, with some significant time away from journaling (which, of course, opened up more time for drawing), I realize that I just might have reached that magic place where ability and aspiration meet.  Now just might be the time to stretch in a different direction...

Ever since I was little, I've been inspired by all things science fiction and fantasy.  I grew up on The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Lost in Space, The Outer Limits, The Munsters.  I adore old-school, black & white horror flicks as well as B-movie sci-fi fare from the fifties.  Some more modern idols include Edward Gorey, Tim Burton, and Guillermo del Toro.  Looking through my sketchbooks from the last couple of years, I realize my fascination with robots and monsters was "gateway art."  After so much time lurking around a path I've wanted to explore all along, I've finally decided to step over the threshold and let myself dabble in a bit darker palette.

I'm fairly good at "pretty" but to tell the complete truth, I've also sort of felt all my cute and pretty art was sort of safe.  I've often thought that it was more acceptable to draw cute things, more "mainstream."  I've been afraid to get a little edgy.  After all, even my "sweet" illustrations kill comments and views around here.  However, if I've realized one thing during my "sabbatical," it's that I have no real need anymore for what going on in the mainstream.  I care about what's happening in my mindstream.  I care about letting characters loose upon the world while I am able.  And I'll tell you now that many of those characters & creatures might be a touch shifty with a moral compass that's slightly askew.  I'm not abandoning cute but rather balancing that with a side of creepy.  Silly needs to snuggle in with sinister. 

There's no specific end goal, no secret project or career ambition driving this turn off the pavement and into the wilds.  I am doing this simply because I've always wanted to...there is no better reason than that.  Maybe this will be only a passing phase...maybe I'll fight my way through the underbrush and realize I prefer a more comfortable path...or maybe, just maybe, I'll forge a brand new, exciting road.  All I know for sure is that I'll never know if I never begin.     


Good for you! And weird is fun, and, above all, you should be excited and exhilarated about what you're doing - safe is rarely exhilarating.
Linda Watson said…
Good for you. Two years ago i said no to a lot of things I had always done and began to do those that had been wandering in my head for eons. Life, and my art, has never been better. Go for it.
Heather said…
I look forward to seeing more of your new path. I think there is a lot of "pretty" and "cute" out there online, so it is refreshing to see something a bit different. Personally, I find all of your characters rather charming, even the somewhat creepier ones, simply because they all seem to have so much personality. I especially love the expression on the dog's face in your illustration above!