Work in Progress

The great pioneer of abstract painting, Wassily Kandinsky, wrote a very interesting thought in his book entitled Point and Line to Plane:

“…present day is only the springboard to “tomorrow” and only in this role can it be accepted with innermost tranquility”.

He may refer to the idea of having and being a work in progress. Kandinsky basically talks about the passage of time. Perhaps when your current situation is challenging and looking bleak, or when you are in the middle of the process and you are starting to feel fatigue, this thought can be encouraging.

However, there is also the thought that all you ever really have is that of “now” or this actual moment. These two seemingly opposed ideas are hard to reconcile.

After some thought, it seems though that it is somehow connected and pointing to one thing: All you have is the present moment, but in this present moment it can evolve into something else. To something perhaps better or something worse, but it will evolve like how the clouds will evolve over time.

The keyword here is acceptance. I believe that through acceptance, one can begin to forge ahead and overcome the challenges that one faces. Perhaps by being in the now, but also accepting the present day with tranquility because there is tomorrow, is a way of overcoming the challenges of life.

Drawing in the Dark Exercise of drawing without looking at the paper plane

I tried this quick drawing exercise of blind drawing. Just simply blindfold or close your eyes and put the pen to paper. See what happens from there. After the activity here are some notes I quickly jotted down.

1. Started with the idea of a person moving from one place to another, a higher place, a better place

2.Developed the idea of “where you are, many challenges all around”

3. “When achieving a certain goal, it may not be fulfilling, and you find yourself striving for the next goal, which is higher, and still more challenging.”

4. A face of fatigue seems to emerge from the elements below.

5. What was supposed to be grass, looks like stubbles of hair, could be a sign of age

After some thought, I realized that another idea that could emerge from the quick drawing is

6. Sometimes you are actually alright where you are, and by moving around too much you can end up being fatigued by so much activity.”

Going through the motions of these simple introspective exercises seem to bring out some interesting discussions with the self which otherwise would not have come about. This is perhaps the point of creative practice/work. Things can emerge depending on where you are, and had you not done the activity, you may not garner such an insight.

I guess it is the same with art, and music. Sometimes you don’t have the exact detailed idea of the end result, and what may come about may surprise you.

Art as Healing

Been looking at various readings, courses, and books on art therapy where art, mental health, psychology, and therapy intersect. It is indeed an interesting and deep topic and you will not run out of resources online on this. Wading through some videos I stumbled upon this ted X by an artist named Domingo Zapata. What struck me is the simple idea that creating is not making something perfect, but it is letting go.

He shared an anecdote where it was his act of painting and sketching during a dark period in his life that made him get through a particular WEEK. He describes that the act made him get through a particular pain point. It was subtle but it hit me hard. It was a very real, and practical application of Art as a Healing device. It may not necessarily change your life, but it somehow helps you SURVIVE.

It’s also interesting because it was not a scientific result that “general well-being” was defined and had an increase by “x %”. It was overcoming a specific obstacle through the act of creating. Perhaps it could be measured in a better way, but the artist’s account of overcoming adversity in this way was enough to get me really interested.

In the video, Domingo urged everyone in the room to create something when they get home. It was simply to “state where you are, where you are going, and why” It was definitely a trigger for me to open up my small sketch book and start sketching away, without any expectations. He urges us to sketch moments because “life is made of memories and moments.”

The drawing I ended up with somehow encapsulated some of my thoughts and sentiments for the past week. It is amazing how something can be expressed non-verbally and yet it can capture the idea and the emotion behind it. I urge everyone to try it and see how it makes you feel and what comes out. Try to share it with others as well.

Artimer JA
Rock Bottom, 2020
Marker, Oil Pastel, Colored Pencil on Paper

P.S This experience makes me want to develop this habit of capturing and recording these inner thought objects and emotions and allow them to be expressed. It’s about taking those thoughts and moments as an opportunity to create something.

Thoughts on Arranging

Consistency in creative efforts requires the gradual and disciplined build-up of habits that make you do certain actions on a consistent basis. By doing something every day, you are somehow able to invite creativity in your life daily. Recently I’ve been trying to learn new things in terms of music creation in order to expand and improve.

I’ve been working specifically on arranging and how to turn your regular 8-bar loop into a full-fledged song. The more I dive into it, the more I realize that many people (including myself) can get stuck in the 8-bar loop. Coming up with strategies to overcome this is crucial. Through my own experience, and the suggestion of more experienced producers, I realized that the key to this is making your 8 bar loop as full and complete as possible. With this complete 8 bar loop you can now create a big “block” of sound by repeating this sequence for the duration you’d like. Go ahead and copy paste this 8 bar loop until you hit the 6 minute mark.

8 Bar Loop

From there, you can do “subtractive” arranging. “You are like a sculptor chopping away at the woodblock to create a work of art.” Thomas Hoffknecht mentions this in his masterclass. I can relate this to an assemblage artist: finding small fragments of materials as they come to the shore of your “mind”, then you put it together to form an entirely new piece.

8 bar loop, extended to 6 mins in length

This was enlightening as it organizes the creative process by making the artist/producer focus on one thing at a time. The production and “raw material gathering” is where one deals with recording a performance, sound design, programming, and etc. (Steve Roach compares this to the shooting phase in making a film) After one is able to shoot interesting “scenes” and you have all the footage you need, you can proceed to editing the film. Going back to music – arranging.

Sound sculpture

I’m hoping this will translate to more finished works.