How to Become a Starving Artist: Tip #6 -The Weekend Art Binge

  Ed Jasek  , Unconsummated Love Potion,   2015 (Mixed media on paper)

Ed Jasek, Unconsummated Love Potion, 2015 (Mixed media on paper)

The life of the starving artist is often one of chaos. It moves in fits and starts but you adjust, and if you're smart, you make the best of it. Take for instance the weekend art binge. Here's how it works...

The wallet is feeling a little lighter than usual, so when you hear a coworker can't make his usual Saturday shift at the restaurant, you volunteer to fill in. You tell yourself, "OK, I'll put in a few hours during lunch, pocket $2.35 an hour – plus tips – skate out around 3:00, and maybe have an extra $75.00 or so for my efforts. Not a bad Saturday, and I'll still have time to do laundry."

So you get up early, head to the restaurant, get the place whipped into shape and ready for customers, only to find your coworker unexpectedly shows up after all. Now you have a decision to make. What do you do? If you're a starving artist, you celebrate serendipity, clock out with an extra $2.35 in your pocket, and head straight for Twins Liquor. Your day has suddenly shifted gears. By noon you have four nice bottles of wine on hand, an interesting idea for a new direction on a print, and unexpected motivation.

Let the art binge begin!

   7:45 p.m.   Plate 1.

 7:45 p.m. Plate 1.

Saturday, August 29, 7:45 p.m. I've got a bottle of wine in me, I've stretched a fresh sheet of hot press, and I've laid down the first layer of a new print. If this experiment goes as planned, I'll end up with a sweet print that uses nothing but black, one layer laid on top of another to create a shadowy, dense mass of confusion that draws you in the longer you contemplate it. Much like my life.

Saturday, August 29, 9:41 p.m. Plate 2 of my black-on-black experiment is now on the paper. I'll keep on keeping on as long as the wine holds out.

   11:11 p.m.    Plates 2 and 3 added.

11:11 p.m. Plates 2 and 3 added.

Saturday, August 29, 11:11 p.m. Plate 3 is down, things are beginning to take shape, I still have two bottles of wine, and I really like how this print is evolving.

Sunday, August 30, 12:39 a.m. Plate 4 is a subtle addition. Once the wine starts to hit full bloom, I try to take baby steps. Then again, if I screw this up, it certainly won't be the first time.

Sunday, August 30, 2:18 a.m. Well, crap. Plate 5 has been applied, but I've almost run out of energy, and more importantly, I'm down to my last bottle of wine.

   2:18    a.m.    Plates 4 and 5 added.

 2:18 a.m. Plates 4 and 5 added.

Sunday, August 30, 5:07 a.m. As I get closer to the end, my steps have become smaller and more tentative. Plates 6, 7, and 8 are small and incremental. Temperance is the word now. With the print, not the wine.

Sunday, August 30, 6:42 a.m. The sun is rising, I'm out of wine, and I need a shower. Thus ends the art binge. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And by the way, the wallet is thinner than it was 24 hours ago, but it was worth every penny.

How to Become a Starving Artist: Tip #5 - Overthink Everything

   Ed Jasek   , Untitled  ,   2001 (Mixed media on paper)

Ed Jasek, Untitled, 2001 (Mixed media on paper)

One universally recognized trait of the starving artist is depression, or in my preferred parlance, melancholy. Truthfully, melancholy is the perfect word. It captures the "sweet sadness" of life, and the quiet contemplation of feelings and experience modern society tells us is best to ignore. Melancholy is how I cope. How I find meaning. How I find direction. How I find my way back after a lousy day. Or week. Or month.

Without sadness, how do you measure joy? Until you fail, how do you gauge success? The big, celebratory events in life are few and far between, so finding contentment in the little things is a must. The quiet satisfaction of the perfect brushstroke. The simple wonder of a well stretched canvas. Even a lesson learned from a work that doesn't measure up can bring light to an otherwise uneventful day.

Sure, I'm overthinking things, but that's the starving artist in me, and that's what makes life meaningful. And I'll let you in on another little secret. Most days are unremarkable, and the content of your day is not a reflection of the content of your character.

Think about it. I do. All. The. Time.

How to Become a Starving Artist: Tip #4 - Romanticize the Past

Flashback to 1991. May is just around the corner, followed closely by the end of my college career. Though it will eventually come as a surprise to me, I'm experiencing my best days as an artist for the next two decades, and I'm barely approaching my mid-twenties. Currently, my attention is focused on Sunday's washer tournament, and reclaiming the "Golden Washer" I lost last weekend in a tight championship match with August. He claimed it on the last pitch, and it broke my heart to hang that trophy around his neck, especially after I'd worn it three Sundays in a row. There's no way I'm leaving college without that damned washer.

  Ed Jasek  ,    Reasonably Convincing Proof of Concept, No. 1   (detail),    2013 (Mixed media on paper)

Ed JasekReasonably Convincing Proof of Concept, No. 1 (detail), 2013 (Mixed media on paper)

It's funny how easily we take pleasure in the smallest of things when we're young, and sad how easily we lose sight of those things as we "grow" older, take on "real world" responsibilities, and find ourselves swamped with the stresses that come with marriage, a mortgage, kids, animals, and "keeping up with the Joneses."

Ah... but here's one of the little known benefits of life as a starving artist. When the wallet and the belly are empty, all you have left are the little things. And it's surprising how much meaning – and satisfaction – you can find in those little things. In fact, I think in the next day or two, I'll make time to build a washer pit in the backyard. After 20 years, I'm good and ready to resurrect a simple and satisfying Sunday afternoon tradition. Plus, I desperately need to wear that golden washer again.

How to Become a Starving Artist: Tip #3

It's been a while since we last discussed "How to Become a Starving Artist", and a big reason why is my annual November/December obsession with defining a motto to guide me through the upcoming year. Everyone benefits from a goal, and a starving artist is no different.

A motto is a bit different from a resolution. Rather than an objective to be accomplished, the motto is instead a philosophy to guide one down the unfolding path of the year ahead. For me, a good motto is subtly subversive, and somewhat self-deprecating. Additionally, it sets a low bar, as the starving artist is generally too lazy or unfocused to keep to a complicated path.

To help you understand the beauty and value of the motto, here are a few classics from the past:

  • "80% of everything is crap." (2006)
  • "The future was yesterday." (2009)
  • "Don't trip over the rainbow." (2010)
  • "You can't get there from here. (2012)
  • "Just show up." (2013)

So, now that you have a better understanding of what makes a good motto, and have contemplated a few of the oldies but goodies, it's time to announce this year's winner...

  • "Let's run off and join the circus." (2015)

"Ed?", you're thinking. "That's kinda weird, and what the hell does it even mean?"

Well, to me it means – take risks. At some point in our lives, most of us gave a fleeting thought to running away. To risking everything on a dream, even though it was doomed to fail. Like running off to join the circus. Did that ever really work out for anyone? Probably not, but the dream was worth dreaming. And every once in a while the risk pays off, the dream comes true, and as a result, life is a little more satisfying.

2015 is just around the corner, and with a motto like this one, I'm betting it'll be an interesting year. Plus, it sets an exceptionally low bar. I could probably step over it in my sleep.

Ink, Paper, Language, and Life

I've been exploring the idea of pairing my prints with my writing. I hesitate to call it poetry, but I'll let you be the judge.

   Ed Jasek   , Untitled , 2013 (Mixed media on paper, 22" x 30")

Ed Jasek, Untitled, 2013 (Mixed media on paper, 22" x 30")

Restlessness and Melancholy are my traveling companions.

Yet, too often they both tag along,
angling for my attention.

One on one
we find comfort in the moment,
but in the altogether
our flaws are too apparent,
and our needs a distraction from the road ahead.