My Day 

Did not get a whole heck of a lot of sleep last night, maybe 4 or 5 hours, but it is my own fault for staying up a bit later than I should have, and then for not being able to fall asleep due my worrying about waking up on time at 6:00am. I worried for nothing. The dogs who live behind my place woke me up with their pathetic and insistent barking. When I had my fill of mean thoughts about little dogs, I dragged myself out of bed and steeled myself against the rest of the day.

After fighting through the typical morning traffic on the bridge into town, I made it to school and my morning design class with enough time to print out my homework and mount it on a 10x13" piece of matte board. The class, one long critique of said homework, was more than a bit boring, but then, of course, this is not surprising. The instructor has everyone gather in one large group to review everyone's individual work and make comments. If it is not your turn for the review, or worse yet, if your critique happened to be at the beginning of class, you silently sit with feigning as much interest as feasible in the instructor's comments on someone else's work, trying not to stare at the clock too much.

This particular homework was typography created for a movie about the "angel of death," who for some reason, is reaping an errant soul in an all night cafe. The instructor refused to give us any detail about the movie, arguing that "sometimes, in the real world, you have a project dumped in your lap, a project about which you know very little and must complete in a matter of hours." Yet, I'm very suspicious that one could ever know so little about a design project, especially when money is involved. People (read: clients) get really weird when it comes to money. Furthermore, the so-called "real world," in my opinion, has more flexibility and fluidity than the instructor can or cares to acknowledge.

The instructor was sick this morning and starting to lose his voice. Consequently, my review, which came in the last third of the total projects, consisted of little more than his choosing which design out of the three I created that I should continue with. Truthfully, I didn't expect much more than that. I've been through this process before and knew what to expect from this instructor.

The second class was a figure drawing class in the afternoon that was much more interesting. This is one of the very few classes I've ever taken where I am not as focused on getting a good grade as much as I am focused on trying to master the artistic techniques and the knowledge that will set my artwork a step ahead of the rest. Unlike the first figure drawing class I ever took, many of my fellow students happen to be very good. One student in particular has a mastery of the subject that inspires a tremendous amount of jealousy in the rest of us, but he is a nice enough person, even with his young man's tendency to devolve in a restrained fit of silly laughter about some guy's witticism about being "stoned," or "farting."

I suppose Graduate School, and the personal fiasco I experienced there, has made me realize how competitive the wider world can be. You might be the big fish in your particular pond, but that doesn't mean you still won't get eaten if you somehow manage to make it into the lake.

In any case, after class, I had a chance to talk one-on-one with the instructor about my artwork. I prefer to work with a drawing easel instead of the benches or horses that some of the other student's use. I turned my easel around toward the front of the class and waited for the instructor to finish talking to the model and then another student with the daily student question, "what is the homework." (Most instructors have a daily answer, "Check your syllabus.")

Now, in case you didn't already know, insecurity might as well be my middle name. In this regard, most of my conversation with the art instructor consisted of my asking if I "was on the right track," or if there was a technique or medium that was off limits for our various homework assignments. The answers, essentially, were: yes, I was on the right track, color is off limits, and I should try to experiment more with line variation, gestural strokes, and generally just loosening up.

Ironically, my versions of the quick warm up sketches we do during the first five or ten minutes of class look so much more polished that the one longer drawing I've made which we work on for more than an hour and half. My first quick three minute sketch has a vitality and fun to it that makes my longer drawing look like a complicated math problem that I've managed to get the wrong answer to. One looks good enough to frame, and the other looks like a decorated turd.

Conversation over, I eventually wended my way back to my car and, for the second time that day, fought through the bridge traffic to get home and rest. Since I have all of Tuesday to work on the homework that is due on Wednesday, I made a conscious decision to take the rest of the night off. I finally watched the series finale of the "Life on Mars" television program that had been previously recorded. I must admit that I was a little sad to see the show was over. While I found the science fiction element of the whole show more than a bit silly, the period police drama was highly entertaining. They should have had more of that. The final resolution to the mystery of what was happening to the main character was a bit of a let down. However, seeing as how the show had been cancelled, I am glad that they had enough time to at least resolve all of the loose ends rather than just having the show disappear.

Even though it probably doesn't seem like I did a lot today when you look at it objectively, it certainly feels like I accomplished a lot. The two hours I spend commuting on these school days are draining; plus, my shoulders hurt from all of the drawing I did, and my feet were practically killing me. I'm am so out of shape it is not funny. When I finally made it to my car on the other side of campus, I just had to sit behind the wheel for a couple of minutes to catch my breath. I think I needed the rest tonight.

06 April 2009
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