Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Do Nothing Week

I came to DC after working my butt off on Precocious. I was a month ahead, but I also had 8-9 weeks of strips scripted and ready to go. Yeah, well, fuck that.

This week was all about the family. That makes sense, since that *is* the primary reason I'm down here. Still, there is usually enough downtime for me to get some work done. Ahh, but that is with one set of ailing grandparents. Now I have TWO! While I didn't do much with mom's side - every time I called to come over, they seemed surprised to learn I existed - it did mean I was doing a lot of schedule juggling. It was a meager schedule, but ask anyone who's been through college if it's more grueling to have three classes back-to-back-to-back or have the same classes spread out over a day with hours between them. If it's 2pm when we get back from lunch and I have to do something at 4:30, I am not going to start an art project. If I spend all day with one set of grandparents and we break for the evening, I have all evening and into the night alone. THAT is when I can get some work done. It takes some time to get in the zone, and zone opportunities were slim this week.

Of course, would I have been productive this week even if the schedule worked better? Probably not. I had spent the last month almost entirely alone, locked in my basement and working on comics. That stuff can wear on you, and I needed a happy atmosphere for relaxing more than work. The lack of a consistent internet connection until yesterday meant I couldn't do anything online that took more than two minutes. If I was going to goof off, I thought I would spend the time establishing my name on some webcomic forums. Hard to do if you can't load the page. The internet was to be a way I could unwind. I have to be on duty for grandparent interaction and I need to be on duty to do art. If I don't get some downtime by browsing Fark or something, my brain overheats.

Well, I was fucked there. So I turned to DVDs! Only... I only brought two with me. It was the Wire, something that can't be constantly interrupted as it's complicated as fuck, so I could only watch it after everyone had gone to bed and I knew it was MY time! Those discs went fast, of course. Shoot, I'm out of media distractions. The only thing I had left was READING. Reading is great and vital and stuff, but reading means I can't do anything else BUT read. I breezed through Freakonomics, but that was all I did. In the end, I did not set myself up to succeed at art. Sitting around and doing nothing does feel kinda nice, though.

And then the weekend came! That means sports! I don't give a crap about college basketball, but that stuff was a blessing. Everyone took the day off yesterday, so we only ended up getting together for dinner and some chatting. Otherwise I had done the unthinkable... and done what I had intended to do in DC! I went back to painting.

Here is the "final" poppy painting. You'll note that it looks static, uninteresting and has fallen short of its true potential. I'll not that I don't care anymore. I spent far too long correcting old errors and trying to make the background even. Eh, maybe I can sell it to a couple with questionable taste.

Getting it done also meant I could start on another! Continuing the plastic plant theme, I decided to do a fern. This is chiefly because most of the remaining plastic plants in the house are ferns, two of which were sitting beside my computer.

Things got out of hand. I've noted before that my aunt had a randomly interesting supply of paint colors, which was a nice creative exercise right up until I ran low on white and realized I couldn't paint any more without it. Well, during her last Delaware trip she had brought the rest of her paint back. Problem solved! I could go back to my normal bold colors held in place by excessive use of white and black! Yeah, about that. Her white and black paint was old and... chunky. After destroying a LOT of charm in the poppy painting by trying to use the black, I gave up that idea.

The thing about ferns is that fronds are not one simple shape. It's a bajillion planty things stuck together, so "roughing" it out with the random colors I had was an adventure. I ended up sacrificing most of my remaining white stash to knock out a lot of background noise. What I really need is some black so I can give myself some boundaries. (It's not conforming if you color outside the lines, then add them in later to crisp up the piece!)

Maybe something will come from that piece. Maybe not. Next time I'm in DC I'll be better prepared. I will be armed with much TV on DVD, which is vital to me working. I will bring my own paint supplies, as the color balance is set to my needs. I might also not be so worn down by stress and isolation. (Ha! Not likely.)

Oh well, at least the family time was enriching. The main plotline of this trip was a success, too bad the sideplot was a bummer. On Monday I will be back in Winchester, with all the stimulation that offers. Yeehaw.

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