Re-Committing to Writing/Blogging

I haven’t posted since late September, so I am going to post a list of topics and try to get back to regular posting.

-Yoga Practice Book I’m reading and my own thoughts on my Home Yoga Practice

-Mini Double Sided Vision Boards as an Art Therapy activity

-Cut out poems using text threads as an Art Therapy activity

-My Mandala Project in progress and where it is

-My Still Life Revival and Oil Painting

-Paintings and Drawings, Abstraction or “Non-Objective” work and where it is

-Commitment, Focus, Discipline, Persistence with making a body of work, what distractions come up to self redirect

-Burning Bridges and Building Bridges, a DBT skill

-DBT class and what I’m learning so far

-The challenges of focuing on positive energy and reframing “problems” as challenges. The work of turning the mind towards compassion when in the midst of chaos or emotional reaction

-Daily Rituals and Gratitude Practices, Evolution

 

The Fifty Minute Hour, or Thanks for the Clock, Kasa

I just wrote this piece that is mostly not about Kasa’s clock, but maybe all of it kind of is. She brought the clock to my studio when she was seeing some clients there and left it there and forgot to ask for it back.

The 50 Minute hour. That’s what they used to call it. Now most people do 45 minute therapy sessions. When I started private practice, I did hour long sessions; in art therapy often you take time picking out art materials and settling into the rhythm of the session. At some point I switched to 50 minute sessions, where I am now. 45 or 50 minute sessions, time still works like the Twilight Zone, where it gets stretched out like taffy. You can fit a lot of intense stuff into just 15 minutes.

There are many jobs that involve watching the clock. I can speak for mine that it is a strange aspect of the job. On the surface, any therapist will tell you that the built in boundaries of psychotherapy are an important part of the experience, the earthy reality stuff like price, session times and frequency, even the office itself. I had a client years ago who started with specific requests, it has to be every two weeks, and you have to not judge my alternative approach to romantic relationships. I had someone with a strong reaction to the studio space, saying it felt like a garage full of old paintbrushes and if we could meet in a clean space with comfortable chairs, he’d rather work with me there. He had to accept getting his therapy in a dirty garage. This was before the options of Facetime/video sessions were an option.

When I started private practice, I didn’t think too much about the clocks and placement of them until a client told me she needed to see the clock and be the one who announced the end of a session. When you’ve had a traumatic loss as she had, having control of the time is important. I brought in a second clock and placed it where she could see it. It was back when I still used a digital alarm clock with a loud radio alarm to wake me up. When I worked at a day treatment program and was doing an art group, a client pointed out that in all watch ads, the time is set as 10:10. It makes sense. If it was the visual opposite, 8:20, the hands would look like a sad face. Working at that program, I appreciated the stretching of time and the Twilight Zone of serious chronic mental illnesses like schizophrenia, where time is in quicksand. One of my clients spent the whole day in a chair in the big group room. Another one had no complaints sitting in a dentist waiting room for 3 hours not even reading magazines.

Recently my clients and I noticed in the second room of my studio that the clock was not working. It’s an analog on the wall above shelves, meant to be placed for clients to see. I found a new one at Ikea this weekend, that even has Roman numerals. I also had a cool sun ray clock with actual pointy gold rays radiating from it that also stopped working recently.

I have a very small silver clock with the bells on top that I “inherited” from a friend. When she died in 2013, I realized I had her clock. It was so silly and obvious that time had run out for her and I better be enjoying as many minutes as possible myself. It had a loud ticking that one of my clients requested I put it in a drawer. It eventually stopped working, but I have it out on my desk with my stuffed “studio bunny”, a reminder of the well know rabbit with an anxiety disorder where he keeps looking at his pocket watch and freaking out. A little stuffed animal that I had lying around. Years ago a patient brought in her dachshund and the bunny was a great chew toy distraction for him while the client was working on a huge piece on the floor. He got pastel all over the bunny’s white body, and she then really was broken in as a true art studio bunny. As an art therapist I can get away with having a lot of stuffed animals in my office.

My Dad has been into clocks, watches and their workings since childhood. As a kid, really wanted his dad’s clock and got it, nothing fancy and had it a long time. My grandfather knew how to fix clocks. When I was growing up there were antique clocks all over the house that went off on the hour and my dad would take one of those old clock keys and wind them. They are still there. Last I counted there were at least ten antique clocks in their apartment. One’s entirely covered in gold, and has a cupid figure with a bow standing next to the square of the clock part on a pedestal. He has gold wings and is holding fruit over a bowl of fruit on top of the clock. Another one has marble columns and the pendulum is a gold sun. In the library there is a clock with a rooster on top. My favorite is a clock in the dining room, It’s a harp but symmetrical with a gold sun at the top and the clock part is the body of the guitar shaped harp. A few years ago, my Dad gave me his gold Omega watch and a pocket watch. He was giving his watches to his kids, not waiting for death. He used to wear suits with vests where the pocket watch would go, complete with bowtie and hangkerchief. I took the Omega to the guy below my studio who fixes shoes and watches; it’s a shoe repair, barber and make your own nailpolish shop all in one. It turned out the watch did not need a battery and is the kind you actually wind. Growing up I loved watches and my Dad would bring Seiko watches from Japan. I went through a phase as an adult where I stopped wearing watches and just wore watch rings. I collected a whole bunch of different watch rings and found it easy to look at the time without clients realizing because you see your hands more easily than having to move your wrist to check the time. At some point I went back to watches and started collecting watches again. I have a very large square one with a silver band that was the first fancy one that I got. It has Roman numerals on it.

In my own therapy which is five minutes less than the 50 minutes my clients get, I look at the time often. This is the first time I have a therapist like the white rabbit except he is not anxious about arriving late. When he is late, I set my timer to get my exact 45 minutes. One time I was on the way into the subway and he texted that he had to cancel as he wasn’t going to get to his office on time. As some other therapists, I tend to enjoy hearing about other therapists messing up as it makes me feel better about my own mess ups.

Time is also weird for me as an artist. People ask, how long did it take to make that drawing/painting. I now write the date on the back of my work as soon as I start it or restart it to know what date I did it, and I set 15 minute timers for drawing, but I never know exactly how long anything takes to make.

Projects

I tried wirting a post about my unfinished projects yesterday for 15 minutes but it got too complicated. I’ll try the more organized approach. THis is a list of projects I’ve started in no particular order.

  • Graphic Novel, I(3) (meant to read as “I Cubed”), memoir. Started in 2000. Stopped finally in 2017.
  • Children’s Book: The Flying Poodle, done in late 90’s, abandoned and lost
  • Art Therapist Made Activity Book for People with Airplane Flying Anxiety/Phobias, including: “Facts About Flying”, Word Searches, Coloring pages, Doodle and writing prompts, maybe crossword puzzles. Could be made like a journal format. Got to the idea point.
  • Memoir in form of Picture Book for adults, inspired by “Depression, A Picture Book” and another one. Got to point of using Word Search cutouts to make limbs on characters, did 2 pages, recent idea
  • Books: Using Altered Books in Art Therapy. Plan to edit the book. Got to the point of inviting some other art therapists to author chapters and emailed with Jessica Kingsley Publishers. They reached out to me last August about possibly writing some kind of book.
  • Poetry and art therapy with/as case study: book with a client’s poems written in session and between sessions and my response poetry. Tried to start with categories of poems and with client going through her poems and picking out ones she likes.
  • Possibility of trying to incorporate pages from abandoned graphic novel into some sort of other book with multiple media
  • The Art Box, a book also personal narrative, about my creative process and using pieces about work as an art therapist, artist and personal life to do with creativity. Memoir of Creativity
  • Some kind of compilation of my comic strips from my art therapy Instagram account, comic strip, “The Daily Grind
  • Website for my art, with newest work and prices to sell directly from website
  • Spreesy an app to use to sell art from social media, getting organized and trying to sell through it.
  • making this current website more organized, going through the “Pages” to make it more coherent and look better

It’s interesting that I almost “forgot” about “The Art Box” project, as it is supposed to be something I’m working on now. That was the idea in spring of 2018, to use some time weekly to work on it.

These projects are all in category of “Other”. The main projects are my art projects that I need to finish to sell the work on the website mentioned above. Current art projects:

  • Mandala collage paintings
  • Cityscapes
  • Abstract square drawings, made bigger on wood boards

 

Online Art Exhibitions: The Sketchbook Project

I am currently involved with a two online art exhibitions. This post is about The Sketchbook Project.

As I have been working on my 2019 Sketchbook Project, “Pictures and Words: Buildings and Birds”, intensely in the last few days and weeks, and during summer break, I have become more intentional about utilizing the “Community Space” aspect of the Sketchbook Project, to get more involved and be part of this “Crowd Funded Sketchbook Museum and Community Space” that continues to expand. You can find what I call “side projects” and events on their website as well as past sketchbooks and an easy way to sign up and partipate. They sell materials as well, something for another blog post. The latest project I signed on for is the “Tiny Sketchbook Project.” I haven’t received my sketchbook yet, but they look like they are a few inches in size! I also love tiny very small and small works… TIny Sketchbook Project Link

This is their website: The Sketchbook Project Website

It’s defined as a “Crowd Funded Sketchbook Museum and Community Space.” You do have to pay to get a sketchbook and pay extra to be included in the digital art library and exhibitions. I am grateful that one of my clients told me about it in 2013, as it is very fun and unique; also, I’m obsessed with sketchbooks and of course, altering books. The one thing all my sketchbooks have in common is the amount of working and overworking involved. It’s never a simple process for me no matter what…

(It’s a perfect project for my ADHD: While avoiding something too stressful, I hyperfocus on the sketchbook, and have added hyperfocusing on promoting and participating more. I will be part of their “Infinite Drawing” series, and have done a canvas for “The Canvas Project.”)

Here is the link to my latest Sketchbook, (2018), “Inner Landscapes”, from The Sketchbook Project:

https://www.sketchbookproject.com/library/19305

I highly recommend participating in the Sketchbook Project! It’s a very democratic inclusive approach to art and exhibiting art. Anybody can participate. Here are the links to other years I’ve made sketchbooks; each year is completely different from the last year.

This one from 2017, entitled “Many Minds” is my favorite of the five completed sketchbooks:

https://www.sketchbookproject.com/library/18294

 

This one is my 2016 Sketchbook, “When Objects Talk”. I mixed together two drawings series, one that involves comic strip art:

https://www.sketchbookproject.com/library/17880

Here is my 2015 Sketchbook, “Marks on the Edge”, involving mixed media including yarn, fabric, sewing, colored tapes.

https://www.sketchbookproject.com/library/17107

Here is my first Sketchbook, from 2014, “Mosaica for Khakasa”,worked on mostly in the fall of 2013. It’s the most complicated in terms of the process and times spent on it, as well as having things I do in altered books, like extra pages, changing the size of the page, and making windows. I also incorporated Chinese Funeral Paper and dried flower petals.

The Sketchbook Project is on all social media and easy to find. It’s home in Brooklyn is the Digital Art Library. The sketchbooks travel all over the United States and in Canada. I’m predicting they will branch out to other countries soon.

 

Day Two: Take Control of Your Title and Tagline

Assignment 2: Write a post explaining the origin of your new title and tagline!

Right now the title of this blog is “Musings of a Creative Spirit” and the tagline is “Balancing the Artist and Art Therapist Self”.

I started the blog so long ago that I do not remember the initial title and tagline, which were not the above ones. I’m trying this basics blogging class to revisit my blog and give it a whole new look and maybe refocus it. “Musings” was a great word for the blog to give me license to think/write about all kinds of things and not have to have resolutions, to put forward questions, touch on topics, and go in all directions related to my tagline in any way and not always about the dual identities and balancing them.

Looking back at my last post, I see and am reminded that I want this blog to be an art protfolio, a place to work on my book, The Art Box, and my new drawings series and reflect on my creative process. Since the book is inspired by my work with clients, the blog will still be about my experiences as an art therapist. In addition, I want to keep up regular posts on topics that are important to me, especially gender identity, art therapy theory and practice and the art making process as well as culture.

So maybe the title, “Musings of a Creative Spirit” is now no longer serving me for this new identity of the blog. I’m thinking about words that might go with the new blog. Here are some ideas and phrases:

pictures and words,

process,

behind the art work,

balancing lines and images and words,

being an artist, art therapist, writer,

not balancing any more but commingling,

the idea that these identities are not totally separate, especially artist/writer.

That leads me to this possibility for title and tag line.

Pictures and Words: The Intersection of Artist and Writer

I then looked at some samples of great Titles and Tag lines, and they are all much more creative and humorous, playing with words, not directly telling you what the blog is, using metaphor, even quotes and weird words, so I really need to be more creative for a blog about creativity and showcasing my creativity. I think because my writings with the drawings are not humorous, I don’t go right away to funny and quirky. Here are some attempts:

Factory, Combine, Visual, Verbal

“Stop Making Sense”

Impossible Things, from Alice in the Looking Glass

Title: Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Drawritings

That last one feels better. Maybe I can include the Art Box somehow…

Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Drawritings in the Art Box

Look what I just found by looking up the word “Drawrite” that I just “invented”:

Je dessine mon écriture et j’écris mes dessins.

[I draw my writing and I write my drawings.]

Hugo Pratt. Quoted in Harry Morgan’s Principes des littératures dessinées (Edition de l’An 2, 2003).

15 Minutes of Writing

I wrote a post yesterday that I can’t access, so I’m starting over with another 15 minute writing exercise. I have found that using a timer is quite interesting and magical, in that you can see how much longer 15 minutes is than it seems. When you exercise, 5 minutes can seem like an eternity. I think writing and drawing for 15 minutes in the morning is like a kind of mental going to the gym.

I’ve been obsessed with various art materials over the years. I’ll discover or rediscover something and then use it a lot and get into getting more of them. I’ve been obsessed with pens for a long time, first Retro 51 writing pens, and more recently, all kinds of art pens. I usually get random art supplies thinking people who come to my studio for therapy or supervision or hang outs will use them. Sometimes I discover something because a patient picks it out to use. A few years ago I got a few paint pens. One night someone in my supervision group started using them and I was really impressed and thought, “How is it I had little interest in these? Look at the cool stuff this person is making!” So I copied them and started using the paint pens. Of course I needed more than just a few metallic and primary colors so I ordered more. Then I looked into other brands and also got into different size nibs. I mostly liked the medium nibs at the time because they get paint in them quicker and you don’t have to struggle so much with them. Getting into the paint pens got me re acquainted with metallic markers, the cheap ones I found at Walmart years ago that are better than Sharpie metallic markers. One time I was in a session with someone and they opened one of those markers and there was mold growing on the tip. That was the weirdest thing I encountered with a pen. I hadn’t ever seen mold on a marker.

I also bought a lot of gel pens because so many people like to use coloring pages in sessions. The Japanese jelly roll pens have always been my favorite because they really are great quality. Recently when I started drawing 15 minutes a day, I got re acquainted with very fine pens. I had tried them out a few years ago and dismissed them as being too annoying because they are hard to use and take a while to build up any color. Then I got some supplies from the Sketchbook Project. Once in a while they send free supplies with the sketchbook or with some other project. Recently I got some thin nib pens from them and tried them out in my 15 minute drawings and got hooked. The Sketchbook Project over a year ago sent me some pens and pencils and one of them was a Letraset Aqua marker. I used it a little and then left it for a long time. I recently picked it up again and got obsessed so I ordered a set of 12 in off colors, like peach, light lavender, light brown. These are great markers as they are a cross between brush pens and illustration pens. Like those, they have a dual tip, but one tip is fine but not really thin and the other looks tapered like a brush but doesn’t flex the way a brush tip does. Unlike illustration markers, they are watercolor like the brush pens, so they are kind of a paint pen and have a wash quality. They come with a blender pen and you can layer thinner pens on top of the marks you make.

I started writing about art making and art supplies in more detail a few years ago when I started writing personal narrative pieces about art and life. I’ve noticed that it seems like a good subject for my writing because it’s something I’m really into and writing about materials seems to bring up other interesting topics.

I recently got rid of a bunch of old canvases. I had made paintings in oil on them in the early 2000s.

Writing for 15 Minutes:

I’ve tried different options each day. Some days in the journal just to get out thoughts, even shred the pages sometimes. Other times I write in my journal parts of my ideas for my Drawing/Writing project or a different essay format project.

This is the latest, putting some of the writing in the blog. Last week I thought of changing the subtitle to: “Pictures and Words”. Maybe that would be the title of the Drawings I’m doing, but “Drawings and Words” or “Lines and Words”.

The blog does feel like it joins pictures and words. “Words and Pictures” sounds off. It’s weird as the film “Words and Pictures” sounded fine and stuck in my mind. The film isn’t great but there are cool things going on in it. Like the idea of pitting students against each other in a crazy contest between words/writing and pictures/images. Why shouldn’t writing and making art be a kind of sport and why not have competitions like that. The students had to struggle with how to convince people that Words and writing, uses of words are most important or that images of all kinds, whether paintings, drawings or photos, or some mixture, are more vital than words. Which does the world need more?

It’s an absurd idea but to some aliens, people going nuts watching a bunch of humans dressed in a costume run back and forth across a field kicking a round object seems as absurd as a contest between pictures and words.

Cake or cupcakes? I say definitely cupcakes for lots of reasons. Coffee or tea? Tomato or tomato?Dogs or cats? Football or soccer?

Books or Films? Graphic novels and comics are so perfect in their genre combining both pictures and words, the actual written form on paper, as opposed to films with image and speaking. Obviously TV and film accomplish both, but at the same time, they are missing the thing of turning pages, of reading or reading/looking in the case of the graphic novel.

Right now I am reading the Lemony Snickett books, whole post could be on that, out loud with my 10 year old. We’ve seen the TV series, so it’s interesting reading the real books that spawned the film and TV. It’s great most of all because it’s a book about books, about reading and how reading is the escape from the troubles and unfortunate and fortunate events of life. It’s about words as well, and how we define them.

It appeals to me because books were my haven as a child. I put off learning to read until first grade, probably because I liked being read to. Once I started reading, I found a magic place that is impossible to describe and unlike TV or film or even audio books. Sitting alone with a book, you have a companion full of great stuff, words and pictures…

More on Yoga

“We know what we are now, but not what we may become.” -William Shakespeare

Writing equals ass in chair. Stephen King

I am reading a book called Meditations from the Mat: Daily Selections on the Path of Yoga, by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison. Rather, I am being read to, as it’s in the form of an audio book.

I’m able to do my yoga practice while listening to the book. This is not what you’re supposed to do if you’re working on mindfulness. The first idea is to try to do or focus on only one thing at a time. As an art therapist I work with people who often talk while they are making something. There are lots of reasons for it.

Anyway, the thing I like about listening to the book while doing my yoga practice is that it feels like I’m being reminded what is going on that can’t be seen, whether in body, mind or spirit. Also, today I was doing seated head to knee posture right when he started talking about the posture; that was cool. It’s a male voice reading the book, which doesn’t lend itself to remembering that two people wrote it, one seems to be female. They start each daily reflection with a quote, and they quote from a wide range of sources, from Shakespeare in the above quote to scriptures of all religions to poetry to Tom Petty and yoga students.

Both the quotes above kind of go together and to the practice of yoga and writing. In order to do yoga, I have to make the time and get the mat out and get going. In order to write I have to put my ass in the chair and write. Showing up to your life is a concept that we all recognize, easier said than done.

Today I’m not sure what I’m writing about. Maybe this is my reflection on today’s practice. When in my studio, I use the floor and walls. The yoga mat is usually dusty and little pieces of paper or glitter or whatever collects on the floor gets on the yoga mat. My feet and hands get dirty from touching the floor. I shake this stuff off when rolling up my mat.

Actually rolling up the yoga mat has been a constant struggle since I started doing yoga about 18 years ago. It seems so impossible to get the mat to roll up properly the way everyone else does it, so that one side isn’t bulging out. I’ve tried doing it slowly and other things, but often I give up and leave it rolled up but not even. The other day someone said, “Just hold both sides at the same time.” I’m sure I have tried that many times; this isn’t rocket science. For some reason, being reminded or told that, I was able to focus on holding both ends and got the mat rolled up quite evenly. It is still not a guarantee that the mat gets rolled up properly. I have never been a symmetrical person in any way, so I start off balance. My body isn’t balanced; neither is my mind. One of the most important things I learned in yoga is to attend to both sides equally. If you do something on the left side, then you do it on the right side. If you do a headstand, you counter it at some point with a shoulder stand. Even walking down the street with a bag on my shoulder, I hear my yoga teacher Liza telling me to hold it on the other side as well. When she came last week, I found out my left hand doesn’t stay even with my right hand in child’s pose. I felt like I was putting my left hand way in front when she corrected me even though it was now even.

Yoga evens me out is the message. Balance and equilibrium are hard won. Every action having an equal and opposite reaction. Very basic. Most of the stuff I get excited about that I learn from my yoga practice is very simple stuff I seem to never have really known or completely forgotten. Just getting back acquainted with the hands and feet is a revelation!

That is it for today.

New Year, Yoga and Writing

This year I have avoided the usual obsession with new year’s resolutions versus intentions and turning over new leaves, etc. Usually I get excited to start new habits, make all kinds of exciting changes and feel like I’m going to accomplish all these goals, then, like most people, run out of steam and keep very little going or follow through.

A while ago, as a way to look at the new year differently, I started picking words for the year. Last year was “Abundance”. It really turned into a year of abundance, which required patience and trust because abundance doesn’t just pour into your life on day one or month one or two! This year the first word I came up with was “AWESOME”. Then I picked two other words, “Quiet” and “Concentration” as intentions/motivation to continue things I’m already doing, especially my yoga practice.

My yoga practice has been the one thing I’ve kept up regularly for the last 3 and a half years. I already wrote two very long disorganized posts about it and realized I do want to write about it, but I need it to be organized and as usual, much shorter.

So this year, to add to my 6-7 times weekly 25-40 minute home yoga practice, I decided to link yoga with writing, as my intuition was that the two will go together well.

So this post is just a short post about my new year’s intention to link my yoga with writing. Since the new year, I have read a bunch of blog posts about different aspects of yoga, found some books, and started writing about my yoga practice.

Yesterday I wrote a long draft for a post on this blog, journaled a bunch before doing yoga, and then attempted to write in my journal a little while doing yoga and filled a page after my daily yoga in the evening. I decided to try to write immediately after doing yoga at least 3 times a week.

It’s going to be an experiment to see what comes up that I feel like writing about and how I am thinking about my practice, or what comes up specifically in any sequences or poses or other things that come up that may have little to do with yoga or seem to have little to do with it.

The words “Quiet” and “Concentration” can be connected to my writing and yoga. Sometimes doing yoga on my own is for the goal of getting quiet and working on disciplining the mind and body and learning how to be able to really focus and concentrate, which is definitely challenging with an undisciplined disorganized and full ADHD mind. I also associate these concepts with a story that I read a few years ago with my daughter that we’ve read several times and is one of both her and my favorite stories,  “The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar”, by Roal Dahl. It’s written long ago but the basic concepts are very universal and the story is about the use and misuse of yoga/training the mind. It’s a great transformation story in the category of stories like A Christmas Carol and the movie Groundhog Day. A selfish self involved character full of flaws, who goes through a spiritual transformation and becomes an enlightened evolved person who gives of themselves to the world, very uplifting. Everyone loves a sinner to “saint” type of story!

Sometimes getting quiet while doing yoga involves just noticing how not quiet my mind is and how distracted I am or how I am focused on what the next yoga pose will be or getting over with each pose. The challenge of concentration involves a lot of mindfulness/DBT “Radical Acceptance”.

Other topics I’d like to write about that go with yoga/writing are:

-how I got going with my home practice after 7 year hiatus of not doing yoga

-what my home yoga practice actually involves and how I learned to sequence from an intuitive approach in the moment

-the role of my yoga “coach” and teacher Liza in helping me learn about the physical, mental, and spiritual practice and deepen my practice

-yoga in everyday life and ways to use yoga to live life from a more accepting and moment to moment awareness

-yoga and “failure”

-the yoga of speech

-my specific challenges with my writing process

-yoga and ADHD and other issues like anxiety

 

The Grand Graphic Novel of 17 years

I am now starting another 30 days of no sugar/low natural sugar, after a successful 30 days that ended last Wednesday. The next day I had an ice cream and then Friday began the next 30 Days.

This new eating “plan” is working on a much grander level. Yesterday at a party I met someone who just started something similar and we shared how this is much more than about dealing with sugar addiction and eating healthy, how this can help you focus on doing the important things you want to do that you neglect. It’s the secondary side effect, being more able to follow through with goals and projects and why food is such a big factor with ADHD for me.

I started writing a graphic novel “fantasy/memoir” 17 years ago in 2000. I took a class at the Open Center with a comics expert friend about writing graphic novels. It was taught by a woman who wrote a graphic novel about having a baby as a teenager. She got us to figure out what was important for us and what we wanted to write about and to get going with the nuts and bolts of layout and drawing and speech bubbles. I got started and got the first 10 pages done and got a lot of great feedback. People who read it thought it was funny and well, good, worth continuing.

There is nothing like immediate “success” to stop me in my tracks. I kept working on it and then at some point put it aside and left it to collect dust. It was too hard and I reached a place where I didn’t know what was supposed to be on the next page. Since then at various points in the last 17 years, I have taken it off the shelf and worked on it. For a while in 2006-2007 I was meeting up regularly with my friend I took the class with to work on our graphic novels and encourage each other. Then life got in the way and I put it back in the black hole of writer’s block until the next spurt of inspiration hit. In 2013 I got very revved up to get it done by my 50th birthday and figured out how to get 100 pages done by doing a page every 16 or 17 days and posting some of it on Facebook. That went on for a few weeks, then I lost several pages of the book and gave up again. I picked it up and did a few more pages and even found the lost pages, after putting the loss of the pages in the book. By then, the book had  developed a life of its own and was also about my inabilities to keep going and doing it. Fast forward to a few weeks into this new “food plan”. About 4 weeks ago, I decided to get one page done per week and use therapy to make me keep it up, so I had to do a page by Friday and send a photo of it to my current therapist. I am now working on the 4th page (page 44 of the book). If I keep it up, I will have about 31 pages done by my 50th birthday and be on page 71. It won’t be finished but it will be more finished than it’s ever been.

Getting back into it and forcing myself to do it each week has been enlightening. One question that I won’t be able to answer until I finish is what is this project getting in the way of in terms of other things to accomplish with my creativity? I always thought in terms of all the things I manufactured as reasons to not be working on the book and what are all those things I put in its way, but I hadn’t thought in terms of what this unfinished big block of a project might be obstructing. What if this book is an obstacle itself? I won’t know until I do it and finish it.

When you force yourself to work on something like this that has been 17 years in the making, you learn things for sure. It is just at the point of shit or get off the pot, put your money where your mouth is, etc. So I have decided while getting back in the process that I have to get this done and finished and then get it published so I can continue with whatever else I am doing with my artistic and writing career. I definitely have another book, not graphic, just writing, that I started last year and am working on which I have put aside lately while doing the graphic novel. I posted a few things from that book on this blog, but for sure, I will have to write it at the same time or get the graphic novel done so I can do the book.

The book is going to be called The Art Box and is a book of essays/reflections, mostly about doing art therapy with adults, especially my work at my old job at FEGS Rockwell Continuing Day Treatment Center that I left in early 2003 to start my private practice.

The graphic novel process is extremely challenging as each page takes a really long time to conceive and complete. It’s much more frustrating than pure writing as the images are a big deal and take a long time. Sometimes I forget how fun it can be. I started it in black and white, drawing in pencil first and then covering in black sharpie. Now it is in color as well and I am trying to vary the layout and composition. The one benefit of taking forever to get it done is that now the internet is so great for research, whether to look at examples of fight scenes in comics or look up things  that relate to the content. I also just organized my sketchbook journals that I started doing in 1987, so there are 30 years of them, minus a few that I took apart. I’m going to have to look in them more for more info and ideas. I have been using old drawings from my journals to get image ideas for the pages in the past few weeks. Today I used a scribble drawing from 2012.

The second week I noticed how it is difficult to deal with the inner critic saying this isn’t good enough, your drawing is bad, there isn’t enough variety, maybe you won’t get it published. You have to just keep going and keep in mind that you are going to keep going and not stop. Stopping is the deadly thing, so having this idea of having to do a page a week at least is great for momentum and also keeps me motivated to stay with this eating plan, as the fear is, going back to eating badly will remove my motivation and I will give up. Each goal feeds the other.

I hope this continues to work as it’s reached the point where 17 years is enough and I have to get it done in the next year-year and a half!