Musings II

The Thinker Auguste RodinI had a several things that I wanted to post about.  None of them were fully fleshed out.  I thought I would include another post on my random musings.

1. Pet Peeve: Lazy dog owners Most dogs are really territorial, especially if they are protecting families.  If you are going to let your dogs out of the yard, near you house, you should probably be out there with them.

2. Running out of…  Working under a lot of stress for a long period of time can cause your work personality to fracture and bits of your true self (irritated short tempered self) to show.  My workload has been quite high for the past two months.  I have finally run out of … well… its no a good thing to run out of. I am kind of surprised that I lasted this long.  I am also surprised how much my increased workload effects my relationship and work with my co-workers.  Needless to say that we are all having a rough week.  We all ran out of _____’s to give.

3. Friends are Awesome  I do not make friends easily.  Quality over quantity in my world.  Recently I realized that I have a few more friends than I thought I had, and that it is awesome to have friends.  You never know what skills they have to enrich your life.

4. Personal Dilemmas Artist risk a lot when they put their art out for all to see.  Trolls like to hunt them down and do what they can to undermine the confidence of the artist.  What should the artist do?  Take the trolls to heart and change their content to go with the main stream ideals or maybe break all the rules and risk everyone and everything. I would like to say be yourself and do what you planned, but it is hard to ignore what people say and not let it change your works.

5. Cat in a bag

CatInBag

Just my cat Guido in a grocery tote.  I carried him around the house in the bag.  He loved it.

 

Shooting Myself in the Foot

No, I am not really going to post about self sabotage.  Not directly, anyway.

This title has more to do with how someone could take the contents of the post.  Basically what I have to say is probably going to be a bit of professional self sabotage.  The topic has been weighing on my mind so I am going to post about it anyway.

While having dinner with an artist friend, the topic of what artists talk about when they hang out together came up in passing.  He joked that he would talk about the latest hot chick he had drawn.  If I drew people I would probably do the same (well maybe hot guys instead) but I do not draw/paint people.  This was just a passing topic, but it stuck with me.  Why don’t I like to draw people?

The answer is pretty simple.  I do not like people.  I do not see beauty in the human form.  I see aggravation and stupidity.  I suppose that is what happens when you work customer service your entire life.

Here comes the part where I “Shoot Myself in the Foot.”

This painting was tons of fun to paint.

This painting was tons of fun to paint, until I added the hand holding back the hair.  It just looks so wrong.  I know I should practice painting people, but they irritate me so much!

I wonder what happens to people when they become customers.  It is like they lose all sense and become dribbling idiots, that cannot process a simple directive or thought.  I am always amazed at how someone can transition from being an intelligent, logical and sophisticated individual to a bumbling idiot when they walk up to a person standing/sitting behind a desk waiting to help them. This phenomenon is not exclusive to people who do not work customer service, even we fall victim to being stupid when we become customers. Anyone can become a customer.  You do your best to be a “good” customer, but those are few and far between.

What does this have to do with art?

Artists create things that cause some kind of response, be it emotional or logical.  Some people think that the human form is amazing and find it beautiful and even relaxing.  Others (like me) do not see that.  The human form is complicated and only causes negative stress. It is hard to keep things in proportion, features create odd shapes and getting the skin tones correct is difficult. I paint scenes and things to get away from people.  No people in my paintings means no stress in my paintings.  Nature is much less stressful for some artists to draw/paint.  I can spend hours driving myself insane painting hundred of tiny tri-colored flowers and be perfectly relaxed.  The second I start adding human elements like a hand or bit of arm I start getting stressed out and stop having fun. All because I have negative thoughts associated with people.

Taking Breaks

It is time for a long weekend!
I am very tired of work and would LOVE the chance to refresh over a long weekend. There really should be more. At least one every other month.

I really enjoy my job and the organization I work for is pretty awesome. I accrue Paid Time Off at a very good rate. Taking it is sometimes a problem. I have checked into how many hours the “average” American works and how much PTO they get. We are in the top 10 of most hours worked ! And women tend to work more hours when they “like” their job.  The figures do not leave much of a chance for anyone not to work to hard.
I take great pride in doing my job well. I do not really believe that my trainees have the same pride when it comes to doing their jobs, or my job.  I am pretty sure that my attitude to my work is what helps me work myself into exhaustion.  It’s not like my job is really hard, it is just detailed and involves people.  Lots of people.  People who are stuck in their own bubbles most of the time, caught up in their own self importance.  That is the most tiring part of my job, dealing with those people.

Anyway!  That was not where I was going with this.

In the US companies only have to offer 5 of the 11 Federal Holidays.  Most companies go with Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year Day, and Memorial Day.  That is not even enough to take one long weekend every other month!  With Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year all in the same time the end of the year is seriously holiday heavy.  This leaves employee’s having to budget their PTO so they can cover the excessive amount of time off at the end of the year.

Many people choose to work through all the holiday’s they can for the bonus pay.  Then cash out their PTO to afford nice things, like extra Christmas gifts or down payment on a car or home.  These people tend to burn out quickly, if they cannot find a balance.

I am kind of like that.  I usually work 90% of the holidays one year and take my holidays and a few long weekends the following year.  I am starting to notice that I have a lower tolerance for this since I have started my internship.  I REALLY want to take every holiday I can.  Either to relax or work on things for my internship.  In the end I am still working and that keeps me tired.

Now I have a question.  What do you do with your Paid Time Off?

Some nice info-graphs for everyone to enjoy 🙂

womenwork working-hours110819.TribeHR-Work-Hours

The Gray Room

Stress, stress and more stress.  With so many things going on it is hard to focus on which ones are the most important. Everyday it seems like there is more to do, less time and less resources.  People just keep piling on the tasks and responsibilities, and there is no one to really talk to about the issues. 

Welcome to being an adult!  The bonus is that you can eat your dessert before dinner and go to any movie you want.  That may not seem like much of a trade off on most days, but we should really take note of any sliver lining we can.

What does this have to do with a gray room?

Gray (to us in the US, grey to the UK,) is the only color that evokes no emotional or logical response.  It is the NULL in the color world.  In an episode of “Fairly Odd Parents” Timmy (the main character) wishes that everyone was the same.  Every one in town turns into gray blobs.  Completely devoid of any emotional attachment or any differences.  In that sense the gray room is a place to go when you are feeling mentally and emotionally battered.  A place to take a break and have nothing that requires your attention.

I chose gray for several reasons.  Mostly it is a NULL color. It does not make me feel gloomy like Black or blinded like White.  Yellow is basically forced happiness when you are stressed out.  Blue may be soothing, but it still makes you think of things like water or sky.  Red is passion and Purple makes me want to be pampered in a spa.  Spa’s can get expensive.  Green is a nice color, but it is now associated with recycling and (not new) money.  Money is the root of all evil and not very calming to think about when you are stressed about a variety of things.  Gray wants nothing, and short of cool northwest weather, makes me think of nothing.

My gray room is basically like the Holodeck in Star Trek.  It has no size limit and  is a flat, matte gray.  In my mind I could walk for days and days and never stop.  I do not get tired, hungry or thirsty.  If I want to sit or lay down a flat gray shelf or block will be available for me to use.  The ultimate get-a-way spot for my brain.

I used to walk down a dimly lit hall, but I would get distracted by the spacing of the lights or start wondering where I was going or where I had been.  That would just send me into a thought spiral and sleep or rest would never find me.  Another thing I would do was to make fan stories based on books that I liked or had recently read.  Fun, but again thought spirals.  Getting interested in a story that is supposed to be making you sleepy or relaxed is not such a g

ood plan.  Lastly, when all else failed I would make a journal entry of all the things that were bothering me.  Sometimes I would let it be read, in hopes of some help, others times… Well, some things, thoughts included, should never see the light of day.

Like all things these relaxation exercises did help me unwind, but have since just caused more problems for the over worked brain.  Now it is time to find a new one.  Cue the Gray Room.  A wonderful mental retreat to relax enough to unwind and sleep. 

EtherealDogwood

Lower panel of a painting I did for a co-worker. Acrylic on canvas. If the gray room does not work for you. Imagine sitting under a beautify white and silver dogwood tree.

 

Good night to everyone.

Relax and be well.

Cannot Sleep: A Nights Rambling Thoughts

I have had a pretty good night up until an hour ago when I realized I was not going to be able to fall asleep without writing in a journal (or similar) to relax and clear my head.  I thought this might make an interesting blog post, since I have several things floating around demanding my attention.

PAX12_PrivateerPress

Awesome costume at the Privateer Press booth from PAX12. Taken my me:)

1. PAX Seattle.  I am going to be working in the table top area of PAX!  I worked it last year and it was very fun.  I realize it is still a little while away, but I have not heard anything from the dept manager and I would like to know what is going on.  I like to plan and not knowing is driving me to insomnia.

2. It is humid here.  Humid and hot.  One or the other I could deal with, both is just bananas (insert Gwen Stafani clip here.)  I also stopped by the hair salon and got a trim and they put product in my hair.  So it is hot, humid and my hair is sticky.  Not cool.  I should probably hop in the shower. Clean my hair and cool off.  That would make sense though, why would anyone want to make sense at midnight?

3. All the projects I have to do.  I have posted a few times about being unmotivated to work on projects.  Another hindrance is to many projects.  I have a conte on wood project in the works, and two more mixed media on wood planned (small still life ones, TG) a large single panel canvas planned and sketched out, and a large 3 panel canvas planned and sketched out.  I still have to stretch the canvas for the large ones (I missed the sale on canvases at Michael’s this week.)  I also have some Web Design stuff to finish.  I need to finish installing PHP on my server. A lot of my planned web dev projects hing on getting this done (I feel like a lazy bum every time I think about it.)

3. Family in town this weekend!  When am I supposed to get stuff done when I have to entertain my divorced parents?  So far I have scheduled each one at least one day to hang out with them.  I hope that is ok.  I do not want either to feel slighted.  Thankfully neither are staying with me this time around.  All are in hotels, so that eases most of the burden.

4. Interview on Monday.  Yay, I have an interview on Monday and I am super excited.  I am not excited about taking the bus into Seattle to get to it.  That is almost 2 hours of my life spent on the bus/train for something that might not pan out (sleepy Carissa is a little pessimistic.)Mr.Worry

5. I love how a worry about how tired I will be tomorrow makes me more worried and less likely to get to sleep in a timely manner.  It is a viscous cycle.  The “calming” music and the cooling fans are not helping either. In fact the pan flutes that just came on are annoying.  Time to skip that song!

6. Random Stuff:  The cats are sleeping at the foot of the bed.  I kind of wish I could curl up or flop almost anywhere and sleep.  Not in this heat though. Bills, bills, bills (need I say more?  Did not think so.)  Studio Killers “Apollo and Eros” is pretty catchy, the whistling is kind of fun.  At work today the HVAC in the area I work went down.  My office is across from the wood shop and they were varnishing wood today.  The smell was horrific and hung out ALL day.  I got paid to be “high” on paint fumes all day.  This is not as fun as it sounds.  Everyone was cranky because of headaches and most of us had upset stomachaches all day.

So why did I put all this out on the net?  I am not sure. Artists do weird things all the time and sleepy ones are even weirder.  I would usually just type this (and more) in a journal entry, but I figure someone out there in the wide spans of the internet would miss the entry and feel lonely for lack of a person to identify with. Or maybe I just wanted to have an entry that did not have a purpose.  Most of my entries to date have expressed an opinion or problem with some possible solutions.  One cannot have that all the time, we must have variety! Like eating wheat bread is good for you, but once in a while you should have some cake.  Spice it up (sweeten in this analogy.)

Alright.  I have rambled long enough.  I am going to try to sleep again.

SleepingCat

I am so sleepy I did not bother to check and see who I borrowed this from.

 

Taking Advantage of the Creative

I am not sure if it is a trait among the creative, but it has been pointed out to me several times that creative people “let” themselves be taken advantage of.  This can be from working long hours with little or no pay or being asked to do things that are not quite in our job description (like a graphic designer taking photos for a client.)

Image

Stressed-Out Artist by Izmack, DivantArt

I usually think that I am pretty conscious of what I am doing for people, when I do it  and what I am going to get in return.  There are times when I let my guard down, and those are the times I get myself in trouble.  Working long hours is bad for the body, mind and interpersonal relationships.  The work suffers and, because I failed to say “no,” the relationship with the customer suffers.  Bad for everyone.

So what can we, the trusting artist, do?  I am not really sure.  Run all your projects or clients by someone who is more aware or immune to charm?  That seems like it is going a bit far.  I like the idea of being self sufficient when possible and knocking more than one thing of a list at a time. 

My solution is scheduling and a solid support structure.  If you have a schedule with all of the projects outlined you will see when you have to say “no” to stay within you time constraints.  This will show the client that you know your limitations and are not willing to over book yourself and allow the quality of work to suffer. If you have a long standing relationship with the client they may give you the project at a later time, to fit with your schedule. 

ImageSkipping a new project to allow yourself to do a good job on a current project may be a good thing for you.  Less stress and more time to explore and hone your skill.  This is better than doing the same things over and over, killing whatever passion you had.

The schedule will also show you how much you are doing each day and help with future projects.  From personal experience, I can say that when I get creating and am really interested in what I am doing, I can loose track of time.  I know that I can go for four to five hours at a time, with few breaks.  I usually do not stop until I am done.  I can write down my start time and end time each session to learn my patterns and figure out how much time it takes me for each project.  Handy for billing, and learning my peak productivity times and conditions.

People you trust implicitly are important too.  If you know anyone that “gives it to you straight” all the time, you might want to ask them if you are being taken advantage of.  Friends and family want the best for you and can be a big help when it comes to seeing beyond the charm others have.

In the end, I do not think that the trusting artist is ever going to avoid being abused by clients.  Only friends and family (managers and agents) can help protect you.  Do you best by being aware of your time and build a solid support structure.  Do frequent reality checks, and keep creating.

 

 

 

Stuck!

Oh, the frustration of being stuck on a problem.  It can be a personal problem, work problem or code problem.  It seems once you are stuck it is impossible to get out of the pit.

Right now I am stuck.  I am so stuck that I feel like giving up on this program I am creating.  This is one of those projects that sounded simple to begin with.  Once I started taking users and their propensity to create errors, the project got very complex.  Not to mention that working with data types like DateTime can be a bit taxing.

What to do…

Well, I am not going to give up.  I will take a break for a few hours.  When I start up again I am going to break down my problem and hopefully that will help me solve it.  This process works for all types of problems, personal and creative.

Being stuck is more that just mentally taxing.  It also effects your mood and physiology.  Just like the normal stresses of your job can change your mood getting stuck on a problem can make your mood worse due to the added stress of having to find a solution to the problem.

Image 

Finding a solution before your day is ruined is probably the best thing you can do.  Hunting for solutions is its own nightmare.  There is so much data online that it is possible to spend all your time reading about things that are not going to help you solve your problem.  They may even give you ideas and make the problem worse as you try out the ideas (this is what I am going through.)

Every site, every book, every note taken is a step towards solving the problem.  It just takes time. Especially if it is something you are learning. 

I keep telling myself to have patients.  Strip the problem to the bare bones and find where the problem is.  Focus on that problem and find the solution.  Practice, Practice, Practice.  Everything is practice.

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Thank you for checking out my rant.  Go out there and make some mistakes!