I sent my sketchbook off yesterday. It was slightly uncomfortable. I’m not used to being parted from my art, so this is still a new experience for me.
I signed up for the “Mysterious Maps Tour.” I chose the title, “Here Be Dragons,” which is often* written on maps to signal unknown and therefore potentially dangerous places. I mapped the interior world of the mind/emotions and showed their connection to my body.
*actually it was usually “Here be lions.” “Here be dragons” appears on one map, but I liked the sound of it more.
I just saw The Great Gatsby, and it was fantastic. Those reviewers are obviously a bunch Tom Buchanans
First of all, I saw the movie in 2D because I don’t care for 3D.
There’s something incredibly freeing about Lurhmann adapting a work. Lurhmann is a unicorn who dreams in celluloid. There’s none of that disappointment, that- “it’s not how I pictured it.” Of course it’s not. It manages to capture the twin worlds of the books rather brilliantly. First, there’s the forced hollowness of Gatsby’s “glamour,” and I mean that in the old Faerie way of illusion, which even Gatsby is taken in by. Once he has Daisy- his Daisy that he’s dreamed of for years- who he’s had countless ghost conversations with inside his head, the movie shifts gears. The glitter blows away, your champagne goggles disappear and all of a sudden the sober morning reveals a sweet, slightly naive man and his silly, shallow, emotionally damaged love interest.
Carey Mulligan’s Daisy is wonderful. Lame and jaded in the beginning, her crack up in the third act manages to arouse your sympathy.
Leonardo DiCaprio is a sublime Gatsby. His smooth confident facade cracks spectacularly during his longed for meeting with Daisy. And the man can were a pink suit like nobody’s business. His “Old Sports” are as charming, laughable, and dorky as the Gatsby of the book.
The rest of the cast shines as well. Joel Edgerton and Isla Fisher bring unexpected humanity to characters like Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson.
The small changes to the book- Nick recovering from alcoholism, as well as making Tom, Jordan, and Nick brunet didn’t lessen my enjoyment. (Was Nick blond? I assume he was since he’s Fitzgerald’s stand in, even more than Gatsby.) I also don’t remember Gatsby’s wonderful line, “Her voice is full of money,” which is a shame. It’s one of my favorites from the book.
The music is fabulous. It manages to evoke the danger, sex, and wildness of the jazz age. It’s also far more integrated than the soundtrack would lead you to believe.
I got choked up at Nick explaining to Gatsby that he didn’t need compensation, that it was just a favor. DiCaprio plays it beautifully. His cautious joy at dealing with someone who might not have an angle on his money is heartbreaking. Even though I knew what was going to happen at the end, I still found myself wishing it would end differently. That Daisy would be a stronger person. That Gatsby wasn’t so single-minded. That evil, the true evil of the careless, mindless variety that so frequently dominates our world, wouldn’t triumph.
The group of teen girls in front of my started crying. As the credits rolled one of them said between sniffs, “It was so sad!” I found myself idly wondering at what future lay in store for them. If their dreams would shatter at 30 like so many of Fitzgerald’s characters or if they were the lucky ones, “beautiful little fools.”
I didn’t read Gatsby in school. 20th century lit wasn’t my thing at 13/14. But at 25 I finally up and read some Hunter Thompson. He raved non-stop about Fitzgerald and Gatsby so, I picked up a copy and fell in love. I don’t know if it was due to my quarter century mark, the fact that I was making more money than I had any right to and spending it even faster, or that my first love was coming apart at the seams after 3 years together. But for the first time I felt my limitations.
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter– tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Obviously, I’ve also been playing quite a bit of the Great Gatsby 8 bit game found here: http://greatgatsbygame.com/
Legend, along with Labyrinth, was one of my go to early teen movies. Even at 13/14 when this movie showed up on HBO/Showtime (who knows, we had EVERY pay station) I realized I wasn’t into Tom Cruise but I was totally into Tim Curry- who is dressed as a giant red devil/minotaur creature. And I “Mary Sue’d” the hell out of Lily. I drew both dresses constantly, esp the gravity defying black dress:
This movie also introduced me to Bryan Ferry (and thus Roxy Music). I used to just rewind the end credits so I could listen to this song. I eventually scraped together enough money and went on the hunt for a Bryan Ferry record. I found a used copy of “Let’s Stick Together” and fell in love. I mean, LOOK at that nose! It’s amazing!
Enjoy his magnificent crooning and godawful 80s wear:
My 40th birthday came and went. Lovely and mellow, it involved ice cream, buffalo fries and family and friends. I keep wondering if I’m supposed to have some sort of epiphany or meltdown but so far everything’s great. I feel as though I’ve already worked through all the freak outs I’m supposed to have had by this point in my life. I’m sure there will be more in the future, especially during menopause, but the societally dreaded Four Oh came and went like a lamb.
It’s probably because I feel pretty good about my life. I love my art, husband, and child. I never have enough time to rub two thoughts together, let alone to get out all the art that I have swimming in my head, but I do my best to putter away at projects. I restarted meditating last fall so my anxiety is being managed. I can recognize when it’s starting and take the appropriate action- and for a control freak like me, having a plan is pretty soothing and therapeutic. I still worry about money, but not as much. Our apartment almost looks like humans live in it instead of raccoons so I’m pretty jazzed about that.
And then there’s the whole looks/getting older thing, which when you’re a woman is what you’re supposed to worry about all the time. It can seem like from cradle to grave no matter what your other accomplishments and ambitions are, your boneabilty is your real job. And based on how every other woman I’m related to acted, I keep expecting it to bug me more. But, I was considered a plain child and an ugly teenager so by the time I became a young woman I was pretty over it.
As a figurative artist who frequently uses myself as a model, aging could be a recipe for disaster. It’s a whole lot of looking at yourself. I can see how the years have changed me and in some ways decimated the things I liked about the way I looked. Wrinkles are snaking their way across my face like rivers cutting through valleys. My plump cheeks are down at my jawline and I do think I have about 10 years of that before I flip out and have surgery to yank and smooth it out. Or not. Unlike my mother at 40 I haven’t had anything done. I did recently google treatment for my acne scars and melasma, and that’s a strong maybe. I come from a family obsessed by their own physicality, and who base their entire self-worth on how they look. When time inevitably changes them they haven’t been able to deal with it. My Grandma and Mother both had nervous breakdowns and my Aunt came very close. They just woke up one day and realized they had to live with themselves in the empty houses that pass for their souls, without even their mirrors for company. Unfortunately, instead of developing and filling themselves up with deep relationships and interests, they channeled the money and energy they once reserved for their bodies into decorating their real life houses. They traded one exterior for another.
Anyway, it’s on my mind because I’m working on my sketchbook project which involves a lot of self portraits and thus, a lot of photo reference. My reference photos are always taken in the morning and without makeup. Even though I feel like I have a pretty good body image, sometimes all I could see was everything I thought was wrong. But instead of feeling it in an emotional way, I did that thing I do to everything: intellectualize it. I took my feelings apart and examined them until they didn’t hold any interest for me. Then I filed them away. Which is kind of a cop out, but when you’re an emotionally volatile person like myself it’s a pretty good coping mechanism and certainly preferable to freaking the fuck out and being a general pain in the ass about everything. My pencil revealed every instance of asymmetry, every way in which I just don’t conform to the current western ideal of beauty, both high and low. But after the third drawing that started to change. Whether it’s the distancing that happens when converting a 3 dimensional object to a bunch of lines or the simple joy of drawing, I began to see myself the way I see other people- by delighting in their variety.
I realize our society pressures us to only value ourselves and others by how we look. But I also don’t think you have to deny the body completely in some sort of medieval frenzy. You’re not going to be dragged to some sort of Boschian hell for taking selfies on your camera phone. Sometimes I feel like I’m living my life by simply choosing “whatever my family didn’t do.” That includes body image. I spent my late teens/early 20s in almost drag by dressing like some sort of Victorian/Bohemian dandy crossed with Caddyshack. I shopped at the Disabled Veterans and bought men’s clothes because they were the only things that fit-and because they puzzled my Grandma, infuriated my Mother, and allowed me to quietly give the middle finger to society while living out my fantasies of looking like Sherlock Holmes. That would have been fine except sometimes I wanted to be Irene Adler as well as Holmes. I had a lot of trouble embracing my feminine side. I eventually found a middle ground where I didn’t feel like an enormous sell out every time I put on a short dress or wore high heels. The side effect was that I opened myself up to being judged. Once I stopped dressing like a man people felt entitled to casually remark on the many ways my face and body were really ugly to them. But by that time I wasn’t distressed by their general shittiness so much as impatient. I was wearing my lady costume and if they couldn’t read what I was saying with my clothes then I felt it wasn’t my problem or my job to set them straight.
Which brings me to the sketch artist “Dove” ad. Pros and Cons blew up my facebook. When I watched it my thoughts ran somewhere along the lines of, “That’s nice those poor women don’t think they’re Lon Chaney/Phantom of the Opera level hideous anymore. Jesus Christ, that’s sad that people hate themselves so much.”
I should mention, I didn’t know it was an ad at all until the Cons started showing up. Second, I thought there was a lack of diversity. Third, people are really pissed about it. Because you should never, ever, ever care about what other people think of your looks. They never, ever define you. If someone says you have nice eyes you should be like, “What evs, complement my personality otherwise you’re part of the problem, not the solution.”
I know we’re all supposed to not give a shit about how we look because we’re super awesome and are more than the sum of our looks, but I’m too lame to be able to do that 24/7. I enjoy fighting “the man” but I recommend you cut yourself and everyone else some slack. I also just don’t buy into Cartesian dualism. As someone whose brain has serotonin issues, it’s not my reality. While I don’t feel defined solely by how I appear, I’m not interested in pretending I don’t exist or take pleasure in myself as a physical creature. I don’t feel defined by how others view me, but I’m not immune to their gaze either. Because I choose to engage with the world, I also choose how to present myself. I let my external form be a bridge to my internal world. I try to present myself in a way that honestly reflects who I am. My worlds are a whole. And that, more than anything is why I feel pretty good at my mid-life mark.
p.s.~ the Dove ad, while sweet doesn’t address the truth (obviously, bc it’s an ad) which is, if you think you’re hideous, no amount of being told you’re not will “fix” you. You’ll always think the other person is lying or has an agenda. You need to address your own self loathing.
My illustration for “Cloudy Skies Burned Clear.” I was (obviously) inspired by Saul Bass’s brilliant poster for “Vertigo.” Whether the man pictured is the man in the beginning or the Narrator at the end I’ll leave the viewer to decide.
Check it out over on The Story Shack.
Terrible confession (where the terrible person is me): I stole this book from my Junior High School library. I loved it, absolutely loved it & one day I noticed that someone had started to deface the book and draw over the art. My library was in the process of putting in security to prevent the theft of books by students so I knew I had a difficult decision to make. I could take it to the librarian & hope they could repair the damage or I could steal the book and thus “rescue” it from further damage by my fellow students. Now, I rarely take things, it’s just not my bag. I don’t even like downloading music or movies, which is why I love Spotify and Amazon Prime. But, I’m, also not the kind of person who can deal with things I love being destroyed. And I was 13, so cut me some slack. Anyway, I put it under my jacket and walked out.
I’m so glad I did. It didn’t deserve such an ugly fate and I have loved it with the borderline inappropriate love that only fellow bibliophiles understand.
Two dragons fighting
The book itself is delightful speculative science/natural history. If you love dragons, do yourself a favor and track it down.
And yes, with the Hobbit dvd & the new season of Game of Thrones, I’ve had dragons on my mind.
On my 3rd cup of coffee this morning. Reviewing the sketches for my maps project. Some I love & some are ho-hum. But hopefully the work as a whole will be strong. Yes, those are daffodils and ranunculus in an “Astroids” glass. Ranunculus win for the best “most ridiculous to modern ears” flower names. Daffodils, why are you so short lived?
I see another cup of coffee and some “Red Mars” in my immediate future. My husband is passed out on the couch while our son watches videos about shapes on Dada’s phone. Beware, this thing is an earworm. My little genius still poops his pants but he can tell the difference between a hexagon and a nonagon. wtf?
And speaking of shapes and earworms:
My husband has named this the most pretentious video he’s ever seen. lol, it is, but I still find it lovely XD I think the artist in me thrills every time he breathes deeply and it looks like a canvas sighing, and of course I love it when she starts to move. I’ve also been on a Peter Gabriel, Police/Sting, David Byrne kick lately. The weather’s heating up and I need music that doesn’t feel too emotionally complicated, at least for me. I have a pile of projects and I feel Spring is shaping up nicely!