Art Education

Okay, I post a lot of things encouraging STEM education, but I’d like to see it as STEAM and include Art ed. I’d love to see more respect given to the arts and creating. Art is so often used in therapy it should be more respected as something taught and learned, but also mastered. It’s one form of creating and expression that helps people deal with shit. 

Like damitfeelsgoodtobeafangirl said her death metal magical girls were created at a time she was depressed and she’s in a better place now. I  created a group of characters when I was depressed in high school and I continue to create with them because I enjoy working with them.

the visual and performing arts are so important in such a passive way they shouldn’t be ignored. Like, people write them off as being easy, but find them incredibly hard to actually do and people who persevere and keep making stuff have worked through periods of self doubt, other people doubting them and just keep going and like that should be lauded. For a lot of people, art is a second job for a long time until it can become a primary source of income. 

Creative thinking benefits everyone. The whole thing I was taught my entire child hood in the International Baccalaureate programs was to be a creative thinker and to ‘think outside the box’. How to we expect out business leaders to have creative solutions to their problems if they don’t have some decent creative training. And so what, it can’t be graded on an easy rubric like math or science, students are exercising their brains and learning different ways to consider the world around them. 

As a person who started college as a science major and graduated with an art degree I see how both of these are so similar. Scientists and artists study th world. They both show the world how it works, but also offer up ways is could work differently. And I think it’s highly telling that Scientific Art is a thing still. Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson, featured artist’s renderings of things. We have cameras and can so exactly how things work, but people chose to show an animated version of events and instead of having ‘reanctments’ they were animated-enactments of scientists discoveries. Like, science loves art, art loves science. And long ago, in the western world, some of our greatest scientific minds and artists minds were one in the same. 

Art is important, art has value and it should be far more respected on every level than it is now. 

It's Okay You Haven't Experienced that Book, TV Show, Comic, Movie, etc

Over the weekend I told my co-workers about watching Silence of the Lambs for the first time and one 43 yo coworker kind of scoffed at my having never seen it and it reminded me how I'm going to stop questioning why people haven't seen a thing I love. It's not fair to them or to me. 

This one coworker seems to vacillate between being impressed with me then being a little bit snide about the fact that I haven't seen things he's seen. Not all of it has been within my realm of interest, hence my having not seen it. 

But, you know, instead of questioning the quality of someone's life for having not watched that movie, or having not seen that show, why not take pleasure in sharing it with them? I mean, I showed my friend Little Shop of Horrors and I was excited the entire time to share the movie with her. I wanted to see her reactions and I just plain had fun. I might have asked why she hadn't seen it, I hope I didn't. 

For every movie, book, comic, TV show, whatever I haven't experienced that someone else has, I've probably experienced an equal number of different movies, books, comics, TV shows and a whole other whatever. I'm trying to be less dismissal of what other people like when they talk about a show or something I don't care about. I mean, I love love love Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I love sharing it with people. A lot of people have told me they've heard of it but never seen it, or never seen it all the way through and I just want to be there to show them the entire thing. 

I'd rather rake joy in someone else experiencing something I love for the first time than harshly criticize why thy haven't experienced something. There's a lot of media out there and it's hard enough to experience and enjoy things without someone judging whether or not you've seen it then judging your opinion after. I'm trying hard not to ask why, I'm sure I'll keep failing, but I'm going to try to start asking "would you like to..." and then share the book, movie, tv show whatever if I have it to share. 

My Issue With Saying People Have 'Too Much Time On Their Hands'

I just saw someone describe a creative endeavor as the work of someone with “too much time on their hands” - fuck you HuffPo! Being creative is not a waste of time, talent or effort. Being creative is something to respect because creativity is hard. Making stuff is hard.

I’ve had many, many non creative friends and people express shock and joy over simple doodles that in my mind are mediocre, but they’re not described as being done by someone “with too much time on their hands”. It’s bullshit how often a long term project or art piece gets knocked down like that.

The person creating probably didn’t have any “extra” time and carved time out from sleeping or being social to make something amazing.

Don’t degrade creative work. Respect the time and effort and the actual WORK of the person who made it because you can’t make it and that’s okay. You have something you’re great at, something you’re passionate about and you make the time for it.

Creativity is not a diversion. Final pieces, drawings, songs, performances, everything are the end goal and a chance to show off all of the hard work someone put into something. Respect it.

Thinking About Isms and Ignorance

I read this tweet and the following comments by the person who posted it and it reminded me of a thing I read some time ago about how trans women and people raised as boys eventually learn and see the institutionalized sexism that happens to women all the time. 

I kind of get it though, not noticing or not thinking about something as critically as you could until you experience it, and for a second I lamented there's no way this could be done for race. I can't think of a "this could happen to me" type of 'ah ha' moment that can happen to make racism better understood. I see instances of racism, modern and historic and I'm not surprised. 

I'm not surprised at proud white people posed beside a dead, lynched black person. Not in 18-whatever, not in 1957. It's like seeing groups of white people with shit eating grins in black face, I'm not surprised, just saddened each and every time that people aren't better. Seeing a color, instagram photo of dumbass white people in black, yellow, red face and other colored-face makes me angry but also sad that there's no way these people can ever really feel compassion for the people they're mocking and insulting. 

The closest is if we make it about them and that's not the same. 

I mean, I've heard people get so snitty and so pissed because someone's wearing a band shirt and they're "not a real fan" or about the concept of "fake geek girls" and "fake gamer girls". Titles of being a geek, a gamer, a fan of something are things you willingly put on and add to what you already were. And people get so defensive of the perceived "wrong person" giving themself attributes of something they like. But these selfsame people can't understand that when you dress up like something that a person can't change about themself and you're being insulting about it that it actually is harmful. 

I think I was also thinking about this because of that shitty Time article from this weekend when a college freshman went on and on about how he won't apologize for white privilege. He said some truly ignorant things but mostly addressed the hardships his grandparents had to overcome but never really addressed the aspects of his life that he had easy. His grandparents escaped Nazi-fied Europe and made it in America, made a business and started a family. His father worked too many hours and was barely around to see him as he grew up and he's not white privileged to be able to go to Princeton. I look at that and think about the loans his family was able to take out easier and with lower interest than what naturalized black Americans would have had access to. I look at the fact that he had both parents in the home and never made any mention of how much or little he saw his mother. Not that single parentness is a POC issue, but there'd be a different situation if there weren't a parent in the home when the other was at work. I also wonder how often he was a shitty kid in school and was never punished and what he himself accomplished with his own two hands and his brain to get into Princeton. I wonder if he was ever told "you speak good English" by people in his community, as if he shouldn't be able to. How often people ask and assume he's from a specific location because of his race and how he presents himself. He has lived a privileged life and it's disrespectful to just ignore it, it's disrespectful for the hell his grandparents lived through if he doesn't acknowledge that when they got to America they were playing the Game of Life with different handicaps than they had been playing with in Europe.

Crossdressers, trans people and I think even fe/male impersonators fall into a different category, they're not ridiculing and they can change who they are to a certain degree. You can't change your genetics or what ever biologic sex based medical diseases you may get. I don't know what it's like but I'm sure we need more trans positive doctors to help with pre-change health conditions that someone is still susceptible to. 

It's just maddening how difficult it is to educate someone who has never had to think about how complex the life of an Other is. Sex based discrimination can be seen and learned when someone changes who they are outwardly and society acts in kind. Race can't be learned as simply. Even going to a different country won't be the same because of old colonialism and Western domination. 

Drawing Topics

Not long ago my buddy Kristen wanted to draw one of her characters but didn't know the situation so I threw out my favorite suggestion, ages, because it's a great way to explore what makes your character them but also it gives you, the creator the chance to add on to their personality and consider how they got to that point. Then I thought of a few other interesting ways to draw a character or even think about them. 

I guess these can also be used as writing prompts or character development writing prompts, whatever.

Ages: Draw them far younger than they are in the story, what did they look like? How did they act? Are they bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? Conversely, draw them older - whether they live to the end of the narrative or not, how were they affected by the events of the narrative? Who do they still hang around with? I think it's always fun to have the closet badass old character taking care of kids and teaching them weird, covert opts shit and their parents are like 'old, senile Mr Jenkins, he so cray'. If they die, pretend they lived, whatever. What type of crazy injuries do they have now? If your character is immortal speculate on the differences between them being newly immortalized versus they've been around for a few centuries, are they jaded? Are they bitter? Are they tired of seeing people they care about die? Do they only maintain relationships with other immortal individuals because of that? There are a lot of things you can learn about your characters when you play with ages.

Sickness: Draw a character sick. This would work well as a short comic or I guess microfiction. How sick are they? High fever? vomiting? Bone deep aches? Do they have anyone around to help them? I mean, I've been sick alone and man do I put off eating to sleep and wallow in pain and fever. What's this character like and the people around them? Even if they live alone, are they close enough to anyone around them, friends, neighbors whatever, to have this person stop by with some gatorade and cans of soup?

Injuries: Similar to being sick break a bone. How did they break that bone? How much did it impact their life? You don't even have to keep it canon, how would they react to having broken a bone? Or losing a limb. Are they an artist who has to learn to create with one hand or their non-dominant hand because it got mangled in a car accident? Would they, with their personality, overcome the injury and continue on? would they become bitter if they were a happy camper? Would they have a new-found sense of positivity because they're still alive? And like with being sick - who is there to help them? Do they have anyone or are they stuck using buses and taxis to get to the doctor? Are they hopped on on percocet taking the bus, and tripping balls into a weird adventure?

Flirting: spoken for or not, how would your character react to a stranger coming up to them and flirting? Are they open to flirt or go to bed with them? Is this stranger they type of person they find attractive? Where are they when it happens? a bar? A coffeeshop, the bookstore? How will the location affect how they respond? It doesn't have to be street harassment, it can just be someone being polite and saying they find your character attractive. Do this with their partner(s) around, how do they react. Or conversely, have your character see someone who gets them going and they go to flirt with them. How successful is your character? How badly do they lose?

Cooking: can your character cook? On what level from 'cereal combusts' to 'can cure global starvation' are they in the kitchen? Can they get better? Do they follow a cook book or wing it? How encouraging on their friends/partner? Do they have one thing they can make, but nothing else? Will they end up in the hospital from food poisoning or missing a finger before ten minutes have passed? - Your character has a goal 'cook the thing' and a ton of props at their disposal. Hell, give them a simple task: make whipped cream. Give 'em a whisk and a bowl of cream and do they succeed? I've whipped cream, shit's difficult if you're not used to using a whisk. If your character fails, how spectacularly do they fail?

Embarrassing/incriminating photo: this works well with ages, but is there a picture of an embarrassing moment from your character's life that they think no one should ever see? what is it? What happened? Who don't they want to see it? what happens if this person see it? It could be anything. Do their parents have a photo of them naked as a baby running around the house with poop on their butt, and they don't want their crush to see them? Is there an incriminating photo that they don't want the cops to see? Are they a big, tough badass who has  soft sport of kittens and they don't need the person their intimidating to know that they lose their shit over kitten sneezes? Are they a big tough badass but they had horrible glasses and braces as a kid and were bullied? Does this still bother them?

 

I dunno, these are a few drawing prompts I just came up with, but these give you more to work with than just 'gender bent' or costume based art topics. These can help you learn about your character, even if the information has no bearing on the narrative and it never comes up, it's good to know these things for yourself as a creator. It helps the character breathe. They can feel more real and human. 

If I think of any others maybe add them here, or make another post.