Tag Archives: art

The things I do when I’m not here: secret winners and very impressive artworks

I’ve been supremely lazy the past couple of days, to the point of seriously not wanting to do anything but sleep. But! Important things need to be discussed, dammit! So I am DISCUSSING them! THEN I will sleep like the DEAD! Well, except of course I will wake up. Dead people don’t often do that. Except maybe zombie-people.

First, thank you all for making the royal rumpusness of my second bloggiversary week a rousing success. Two years! Huh. That’s impressive, right? And kind of scary.

I wanted to do SOMETHING for my readers for my bloggiversary but I am out of oomph. My oomph up and left. My oomph hit the road, Jack. Left me a Dear John Amy letter on the counter and hiked it on outta here. One could, I suppose, keep waiting for one’s oomph to return, but that doesn’t seem likely. So I suppose the only fix is to go around oomphless. Or do things DESPITE the lack of oomph. Kind of as a big eff-you to that dastardly leaving-me-high-and-dry oomph.

Dammit, oomph. Why you gotta hurt me like that, yo?

Dammit, oomph. Why you gotta hurt me like that, yo?

SO, I conducted an unbeknownst-to-you top-secret giveaway over the past week. I KNOW! How tricky was THAT? I didn’t even tell sj. And I tell sj almost EVERYTHING. (Not everything, though, because sometimes I want her to be surprised, and sometimes I do embarrassing things that I don’t think she needs to know.)

Everyone that commented on any of the posts over bloggiversary week got entered into a top-secret drawing. Well, no. FIRST, you all got put on a LIST. Then I wrote everyone’s name on that list into that randomizer website that people use when they want to do giveaways like a grownup.

(I realized after I did this I probably should have taken screenshots because I always get at least one person who’s all “YOU CHEATED! Ha ha just kidding” but I don’t think they really are. I believe the technical term for a comment like this is “passive-aggressive.” The technical term for what a comment like this makes me is “stabbilicious.” But I didn’t, because I was very tired and not feeling the best and did I mention I HAVE NO OOMPH? OK, great, just in case you missed that paragraph, awesome.)

So, the randomizer (which apparently randomizes based on the earth’s atmosphere or something, I don’t know what the hell) did its work and TA-DAH! We had a WINNER! Out of the 21 people who commented all week, A WINNER!

(Now don’t you lurkers feel bad about not commenting? You should. You could be entered in secret giveaways and NOT EVEN KNOW IT!)

Our winner is…drumroll please…




Now, before I totally embarrassed myself and Heather by writing this whole post, I of course had to contact her, congratulate her on winning a contest she didn’t even know she’d entered (that makes me sound like one of those spammers that sends you an email that you’ve won the U.K. Lottery, doesn’t it?) and see if she was down with giving me her address so I could send her a prize.

WHEW! She totally was. She loves secret giveaways. I’m so glad Heather didn’t think this was all a scam so I could either stalk her or get her bank account in order to drain it of all the cash moneys and go to Aruba.



I have a secret prize all picked out for Heather. It’s not going to be as oomphy as last year, because as stated, NO OOMPH. However, it is going to be awesome, and I know she will love it (and I ran the idea past sj, and SHE knows Heather will love it, as well.) I cannot tell you all what it is because what it will ruin her surprise-factor, but once it arrives, either she will tell us, or I will. YOU WILL BE KEPT IN THE LOOP!

Thank you for accepting the winnership of the secret prize, Heather! I’m so glad you were excited! I hope (KNOW!) you will love it when it arrives!

OK, next, who wants to see art-time? Oh, you all know you do. Art time was ALWAYS the best part of elementary school.

So sj and Susie are having a contest. It is a zombiecorn contest. If you write a short piece of zombiecorn fiction, you can win any one of a plethora of prizes. A PLETHORA I TELL YOU!

(I think sj spells it zombicorn. I randomly throw that extra e in there. That’s the way I roll.)

A zombiecorn, by the way, can either be a zombie that is a unicorn or a unicorn that is a zombie. It’s totally up to you.

Anyway, I was in charge of the third-place prize. Originally, I was going to draw a zombiecorn, but I realized about a week into that plan I can’t draw worth a shit. I can draw trees. That is all I can draw. Obviously, a zombiecorn is not a tree.

However, once upon a time, I was playing with collage work. Once upon a LONG time ago. And I wasn’t terrible at it. So if I couldn’t draw a zombiecorn, I could maybe collage one.

So I went to the weird Christian craft store and I got a plethora of paper.



Oh, you know you want a closeup.

Ooh, aah!

Ooh, aah!

Then I had to sketch out a unicorn. As mentioned: I can’t draw. So I hit the interwebs and found this site where they teach you how to draw a unicorn.

I don't know why it's half-gray, ignore that.

I don’t know why it’s half-gray, ignore that.

Read that text at the top. “You must get it PERFECT in order to get a unicorn!” Well, that’s scary as shit.

I did my level best.

(My unicorn was fatter. He’s a chubbicorn. But I was super-impressed with his most prestigious mane, and I think it’s the best part of the sketch. Maybe I could get a job sketching manes for a living.)

Then I started to put paper on the unicorn in various combinations based on the outline.

At first, I wanted to do a lot of different colors. But I didn’t like how this looked once I did it. (But I DID like the shiny rainbowy horn.) Luckily, I hadn’t glued anything down yet.

My second attempt was MUCH more pleasing.

All I kept, as you can see, is the horn, mouth, and eyebrow. I had this pretty pearly paper. It seemed more unicorny. Also I decided to use all the different colors in his mane. He’s kind of a punk unicorn. He’ll be a zombie later. (That sparkly paper is the bomb, yo. I got a whole lot of that stuff.)

This is him done, without any flair. He has skulls for hooves. And he’s pretty badass, no? But wait til he gets his FLAIR. (He doesn’t like to talk about his flair.)

DONE! He has ALL the flair now. Bloody flayed places. Blood coming out of his mouth. A skull tattoo on his…um…I don’t know, what’s a horse’s hip. His flank? Rhinestones all up in his business. And he’s FLYING THROUGH THE AIR, YO! I know that’s a pegasus thing but you don’t know what zombiecorns can do.

And here it is framed and hanging on my wall that looks like a barn wall. No, I don’t know why I have a wall that looks like a barn wall, either.

You totally know you want to win this and have it in your very own house, right? RIGHT. It looks scary, but it would totally protect you from all sorts of bad juju. It wants to belong to you. Also, I signed it so it’ll be worth a billion dollars when I’m murdered by the clown in my closet.

And, in news of sometimes my life surprises me with the awesomeness, I might have the opportunity to do one of these things for someone for a larger audience for…gulp…money. Yes. This is a thing that randomly happened to me the other day. I KNOW. I’m not going to talk much about that until it’s done, because a., it’s not my thing, as much as it is the person who’s paying me’s thing, and b., that reeks of chicken-counting to me, you know? But I’m fairly sure if I got paid for doing art, it would make me an artist. And when I told Dad tha, he laughed and said “YOU WILL HAVE A  GALLERY SHOW OF YOUR VERY OWN!” Hee! Yep. Of zombiecorns and ghost dogs and possibly robot wildebeests.

OK, I could ramble more, but I’m sleepy, yo, and I should get some sleepy-time in. I have a long post in draft-mode that I’m hoping like hell to have up for you tomorrow if all goes well. Have happy Thursdays, all. Write some zombiecorn fiction, and who knows, you could be the proud owner of your own protective badass zombiecorn. I think you could even name him Larry if you wanted, but I’d ask him what he thinks about that first. He might be more of a Raoul. And if you DON’T win, well, I might be well on my way to being a fancy artist now, maybe I could make you one. You never know what might happen. My life is filled with utter adventure at every turn, really.

One day the black will swallow the red

There is only one thing I fear in life, my friend… One day the black will swallow the red.

I see a lot of plays. I get paid for it now, for one thing. But I don’t just see plays I get paid for. I’m more than a little addicted. I see as many as I feasibly can. We’ve discussed this, at length; as a child, I always dreamed of living the kind of life where I could go to the theater whenever I wanted. I am lucky enough to live that kind of life now, and I honor that wide-eyed teenager every time I buy my ticket (or am blessed enough to get a reviewer’s comp) and sit in a seat in a darkened theater and let the actors spin their web around me.

They’re not always good. That’s the thing about any art form, really; some will be very, very good, some will be so, so terrible, and some will be just middle-of-the-road. This can be because of any number of things: the actors, the direction, the set, the costumes, the writing. It’s also sometimes because of the baggage you bring to the table, which is something that’s often overlooked; the play could be wonderful, but you might hate it because one of the characters reminds you too much of your abusive ex or your unstable mother-in-law or the set is just too reminiscient of the unhappy home you grew up in. It’s very seldom that everything comes together perfectly. It’s (and I know this is going to surprise you, since, as the Irish say, my bladder is close to my eyes) seldom I cry in the theater; all of these elements coming together perfectly doesn’t happen very often, and in order for me to cry IN FRONT OF PEOPLE (a thing I don’t often do, as weepy as I am – my crying is almost always a very personal and very private affair) the stars really have to align.

Today I saw a play that made all the stars line up perfectly. Better than that: it made me think. It’s still making me think, hours later.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a huge art person. I mean, I love art. I respect art, and appreciate art, and love going to see art. But I couldn’t tell you what makes good art, not really. Or how it makes me feel.

What really impresses me, more so than the art itself, are artists. The creativity behind making a work of art. The thought process. The type of mind that can come up with something like that. And the demons that live in a mind like that. I lump all artists into this category, by the way, not just traditional sculptors and painters. Writers, musicians, actors, dancers, anyone who creates something new that wasn’t there before. I believe that all artists have something in common, whether or not it’s obvious; that creation holds a madness in it. Whether it holds it at bay or it brings it to the forefront depends on the artist. Anyone who is creative, especially one who is good at what they do, walks a fine line with the darkness in their mind.

Red is about Mark Rothko. I knew very little about Rothko going into the show. I knew he was a painter; I knew he was an impressionist. I knew his paintings were blocks of color, almost painful to look at in their intensity.

Other than that, very little. My artistic education was lacking. I’ll be the first to admit it. We didn’t discuss art in high school, and in college, as long as you were taking some sort of art classes, you were covered, and my art was the billions of theater classes I was taking.

I like that he doesn't look like a fancy artist. He kind of looks like an accountant.

I like that he doesn’t look like a fancy artist. He kind of looks like an accountant.

The Four Seasons restaurant in New York City had just been built in the late 50s by the beverage company Seagram and Sons. (I think of Seagrams now, I think of wine coolers. I don’t know that they’d be proud of that legacy; apparently they used to be the fanciest.) They commissioned Rothko to paint a mural for the restaurant for a lot of money. He worked on them for at least a year or two, then visited the restaurant and decided, for a reason that’s never been completely explained, his paintings couldn’t hang there. He called Seagram up, gave him what is thought to have been a monumental tongue-lashing (Rothko was a firebrand, you guys) and sent him back the money. In the play, which I assume was researched, the amount was $35,000. In the late 50s/early 60s. He RETURNED it. The paintings were done, but he didn’t want them hanging in that restaurant.

The play (which won a number of Tonys in 2010) is about the years he spent working on the mural. In order for him to have someone to talk to (because it would be extremely strange for him to talk to himself for 90 minutes) he hires a young artist as an assistant at the top of the show, and the two of them spar. It’s a complicated relationship; a little father/son, a little teacher/student, a little peer to peer, a little antagonistic.

Let’s get the little things out of the way first: the acting was stellar. The set design was amazing – it couldn’t have been more of an art studio without you actually being in an art studio. They painted on stage, with paint flying. The passion was so palpable. The direction was tight and crisp. I had nothing at all to complain about.

It was the writing, though. The writing. Oh, my. John Logan’s script – such a brilliant work of art in itself.

The play was about the relationship between the two men, but it was also about art. Art on a lot of levels. First, the relationship between the artist and his or her work, but also the relationship between the viewer and the art. How the viewer should come to the work; how the viewer should view the work. How the work should make the viewer feel. How much the artist should art-design the viewing process – the lighting, the venue.

Even closer to my heart, it was about the internal struggle. The quote at the top of the post is from the show; Rothko compared death to the black and life to the red. When the black came for him, life was over. Everything he did was to keep the black at bay. He talked about how artists have to kill their muses (his being the Cubists, killing them with Expressionism); but when the up-and-coming artists came along (Warhol, Lichtenstein) and began to “kill” their muses, (i.e. him) he was furious – at them, for daring to challenge him, at the audience, for what he considered the dumbing-down of art.

“‘Pretty.’ ‘Beautiful.’ ‘Nice.’ ‘Fine.’ That’s our life now! Everything’s ‘fine’. We put on the funny nose and glasses and slip on the banana peel and the TV makes everything happy and everyone’s laughing all the time, it’s all so goddamn funny, it’s our constitutional right to be amused all the time, isn’t it? We’re a smirking nation, living under the tyranny of ‘fine.’ How are you? Fine.. How was your day? Fine. How are you feeling? Fine. How did you like the painting? Fine. What some dinner? Fine… Well, let me tell you, everything is not fine!!
HOW ARE YOU?!… HOW WAS YOUR DAY?!… HOW ARE YOU FEELING? Conflicted. Nuanced. Troubled. Diseased. Doomed. I am not fine. We are not fine. We are anything but fine.”

The passion in this. The fight against anything middle-of-the-road. Always straining for whatever is ultimate. Keeping the black at bay. The overwhelming need to create something beautiful, something that will last. Yes. Yes, I found a lot to relate to in this play.

Rothko, ultimately, was not able to fight the black. In 1970, he was found dead, having not only slit his wrists, but having overdosed on pills as well. The black won. He ran out of red.

He made something lasting, though. 836 paintings. Can you even imagine a legacy like this?

I left the theater filled with so many emotions. Hope and loss and pride and a deep feeling of being understood, somehow, by someone I’d never known, by someone who’d died before I was even born, by someone tied to me by something as tangential as a shared love for the creation of beautiful things and a brain that runs at a different frequency than the people buzzing around us.

I had a good day. The red kept the black most definitely at bay.

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