Exploding with Ideas


Lately it seems like my hands just can’t keep up with my mind.  I have 20 years of content that is dying to come out of my head for Art Prof, I have years of work to create for Scars that Speak, and today I had another idea for series of drawings that I’ll work on until the day I die.

Sounds dramatic, but I really mean it!  I always joke with my college students about how old and uncool I am, but it’s true; in recent years the process has become noticeable in a way it never was before. The process begins with silly things like watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and realizing that I have no idea who the celebrities he interviews are, or when I mention Woody Allen to a student and they reply with “Who’s that?”

In terms of my mindset, I notice that I care less and less every day about what other people in of me.  I remember being so preoccupied with how other people would react to what I did, both in terms of things small and large.  Today, I really could care less.  That’s a great feeling, it’s really liberating and lets you do the things you’ve always wanted to do.

Many years ago when I was traveling in Japan, I was at a temple in a rural area.  At this temple, there was this GIGANTIC metal bell hanging in the middle of the temple.  The bell was just begging to be rung, but of course, there was a big scary sign next to it that said “DO NOT RING THE BELL.”  I walked a few feet away from the bell, and then I heard the bell ringing!  Right after, I heard some giggling next to the bell.  Standing there were two elderly women, who were taking tremendous delight in their “offense.” I hope I get to that point some day.

While the shift of mindset is terrific, the physical changes in your body can be alarming, the way they creep up on you incrementally, or when you just notice them all of the sudden. My stomach never went back to the way it was before I had kids, my heels are hard and dry, and I’ve started to notice bags under my eyes for the first time. Two years ago I lost a lot of weight, and all of the sudden, the skin on my neck started to sag.  (I think when I weighed more, maybe that skin was backed up with fat?)  I felt like that happened practically overnight. Then the other day, I noticed a callous on my ankle bone that was totally numb.

Art Prof has been consuming my days lately, but I really need to keep drawing.  I don’t have time right now to devote entire days to drawing, so I’m settling for sketches.  Today I drew this fragment above, of the bags under my eyes that are emerging, and the dark patch I have on my right cheekbone. (don’t worry, I’ve had it checked) This sketch was a piece of my body that I see aging. I started thinking, what if I drew “drawing fragments” of the parts of my body that have started to show the aging process? A project like this would certainly satisfy my love of drawing from life,  (which I actually haven’t done for years) and would be manageable given my already hectic schedule. I’m also interested in the idea of coming back to directly drawing myself, given that in Falling, I used an actress as a surrogate for myself.

On the treadmill I began thinking about assembling these fragments to create a figure, except that large sections would be missing. I’d keep making these fragments until I assembled a figure, and then start again.  I would continue drawing these fragments, knowing that with each year, there will be more signs of aging, and the figure will become more complete.  Until I get to the point where all of the fragments are a full figure. I’m not sure I’ll have the patience for this, as it really would take years for a project like this to make sense.  I love that something new is percolating, as if I didn’t already have enough to do!


10 thoughts on “Exploding with Ideas

  1. Morning As an older guy who turns 68 in about three weeks, you seem pretty darn young to me, and knowing who these celebrities are, is way over rated, you do great art and inspire many. Your students and your love of art keeps you young. Have a great day. Ralph Christianson Kleefeld Mb Canada

    • I am a firm believer that in terms of mindset and maturity, your technical age means almost nothing. I’ve met people who are 16 years old who are more mature than people I know who are 55 years old. So you’re only as “old” as you make yourself to be, but the physical part is one aspect none of us can truly control.

  2. 61 here, yes, i notice that also the past year only………that i care less about others thinking of me than i used to (though i still am self conscious more than should be). But, it is a noticable thing. I have wanted to care less most of my life! Art is like that in a way. When you’re young you want to create a sensation for the world, but as you get old, it’s less important. Take a look at the rock groups of the 60’s. Being young has all the ego and so important to creativity.

  3. I’m on my way to 65, and your post has really hit a home run with me. Everything in it makes sense for where I am in life and how I’m juggling to get things done while fighting an aging body. I guess it’s nice to know it’s not just me…. thank you for sharing!

    • Glad to hear my post resonated with your experience! That’s the balance I try to achieve in my work, ideas that stem from my personal experience, but that are relevant to a broad audience. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. “I remember being so preoccupied with how other people would react to what I did, both in terms of things small and large. Today, I really could care less. That’s a great feeling, it’s really liberating and lets you do the things you’ve always wanted to do.” Man, that is not only a profound statement, it’s also a pretty fundamental truth. I remember – not with much fondness, incidentally – those days as a youthful designer and illustrator when sharing ideas could be a nearly paralyzing event: Fearless in the desire to change the world, but terrified at how others would perceive my creative output. I figure there was roughly ten years of my life dedicated to pleasing others, and it was only after that initial decade that my work became my own, and a much more satisfying experience.

    • Yes! I am now convinced after years of doing the same thing that trying to please other people only leads to frustration and misery. Once you get that desire off your shoulders, that’s when you are truly making your own artwork.

  5. Love this – so relatable. 43 and totally ok with my age and saggy puffy eyes and neck. So many more important things to concern my time.

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