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The two weeks since I got back from London and Scotland have been rough; first I dragged the cold I contracted in the Highlands back across the Atlantic with me, and its rugged hardiness kept me under the weather for much of the ensuing week (and I expect I’ll still carry its dregs with me for some time). That prevented me from my desired reacquaintance with my town and region, if not country, and then the weather didn’t help; my fellow Midwestern creatives will have their own feelings on the unseasonable cool we’ve been dealing with this June. Work, though it’s improved a little recently, was a massive wet blanket; I was wary of gloom once I got back simply due to the lingering joys of going overseas for the first time and seeing both gorgeous ancestral countryside and massive, astonishingly stimulating world-historical conurbations, but my town‘s fine—it’s my job that shoved me back against a brick wall. On top of everything else, my bike’s rear brake seized up and I took it into the shop for a look, and they had to keep it for several days to make more repairs (given that this is the first major overhaul it’s had in almost three years of use, that’s not too bad, but still).
On the other hand, the cold’s cleared up a lot, I got a massive amount of walking in a week ago, my bike’s nicely fixed up, and above all I’ve gotten back on track with the illustrations, if not the painting. I did a lot of sketching during my time in the UK—making a conscious effort to do that at the pub instead of reading—and, while a lot of pencil work was sadly smudged (I really need to work on figuring out which graphite-based pieces to preserve, and how), it still serves as a decent basis for single illustrations and maybe even paintings. Right now I’m working on turning my impressions of pubs into singles, but hopefully it’ll lead to some more locally authentic work down the road (among other things, I managed to do a little sketching at the hot new-ish music venue in town at a friend’s show Friday night).
I’ve also been energized (especially this Sunday) not just by a slightly healthier mode of living—I went largely without soda during my illness and have continued that, for the most part, now that I’m better, and I’m drinking less and walking more—but also by a nice concurrence of other people’s creative endeavors in my own backyard. For one thing, the yearly comic arts festival my LCS and library put on happened this weekend, and though I forgot about the first couple of days, I went Sunday and checked out some of the creators, picking up Emily Zelasko’s lovely Old Man, Dog and Ocean. On a long walk after jambalaya for dinner, I trekked my way through my favorite local woods and came across a local elementary school project impressively combining art with science.
While there’s a lot of uncertainty in my life right now—a little social anxiety, but mostly my determination to find a better job and concurrent worry that there isn’t anything else out there for me at present—I’ve resolved not to let it interfere with my creative work; I’m only letting the malign forces in my life direct it if I throw in the towel for a second. I know this is impossible to help sometimes, but I’m feeling wonderfully clear-headed right now.
What’s recently inspired you?
Today’s header is Spring, a watercolor by Frances Macdonald McNair (1873-1921), one of the remarkable women involved in the Glasgow art and design scene around the turn of the last century. I’m reading Glasgow Girls: Women in Art and Design 1880-1920 right now and it’s really helped stoke the creative fires. McNair (and her sister Margaret) were probably two of the most famous and influential of these figures, not only making a substantial mark on the Scottish variant of Art Nouveau, but also, as it turned out, wielding considerable influence on Viennese Secessionists like Gustav Klimt.
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