Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mythic March Monday Makings II: The Comedy of Creating

So as I think I mentioned before, my Mythic March seems to be morphing from one long project into a series of shorter ones.  The project goal for this past week was to create a costume piece for an upcoming photo shoot I'm doing at the Ohio State Reformatory

Here are a couple of my inspiration pictures for a hint:

I had a plan, I had a base for the structure.  I had a tagging gun borrowed from a friend, and I had an old 1970s copy of an Emily Dickinson poetry book withdrawn from the library for a quarter.  I had a thoroughly mythic plan to slowly work on the skirt..patiently....ruminating on each poem on each page as I went.  Then I tried using the tagger.  And used up a whole line of tags trying to punch two of them through the paper and the skirt base.  And threw it on the floor along with the book pages, using a choice word or three, none of which appeared in the Emily Dickinson poems.

I'm here to talk to you today about when the process gets messy.

Because oh my, it will.  Sometimes a project will pop into your head, and you'll go out and buy the materials, sketch up the designs, sit down at the keyboard to type, or lift the paintbrush to canvas, and everything will flow like the hand of the muse is directing your every move.

Sometimes....not so much. 

But I'm here to tell you, that's normal.  Do not give up on the project just because it gets dirty, sloppy, frustrating, or seems to be fighting against you.  That is not fate, the universe, or your muse telling you it's not supposed to happen.  Sometimes the most beautiful of results can only be reached through slogging through the cruddiest of mudpiles.

Let me give you an example....I sometimes will do modeling for fine art photographers.  My favorite sorts of pictures are narrative and a bit romantic or fantastical in nature.  And some of the most ethereal images we've wound up with have been achieved through the most hilarious behind-the-scenes footage you could ever imagine.  And that's by no means exclusive to my experience.  I can practically guarantee you that a good half or more of the graceful and magical images you see and admire on your internet journeys were only created after the model and photographer walked through muddy swamps while batting away mosquitoes, got covered with sweat and powdery asbestos-laden paint and dust in abandoned buildings, were covered with poison ivy, etc. 

My point is...the resulting image may be lovely, but it can take a lot of blood sweat and tears to get there.

One of my favorite examples is this image by Amy Parrish of Atelier.  It's one of my favorite pictures I've done.  But can you see where I'm supported by that root system?  No?  That's because I wasn't...I was balancing precariously on the very edge of flexible roots, and literally five seconds after this picture was taken, I splashed with a thud into the water below me, getting slime and twigs in my hair, and I don't even want to know what else.  We laughed, I walked back to her house with the wet skirt making squelching noises against my legs, and I took a long shower. 

Learn to laugh at the process. Learn to accept that sometimes you will get the chance to meditate peacefully on each Victorian poem as you sweetly clip together a new ensemble, and sometimes you will end up fitfully poking straight pins through paper (and your finger, as often as not) as you half-watch an episode of Merlin and battle against exhaustion from a long day of work.  It just happens that way.  And in the end, unless you confess the whole silly story in a blog post to everyone you can be your little secret, and you can just let the results speak for themselves.

So what have you been working on?  Are you battling with your projects, or are they coming naturally and flowingly? 


  1. LOVE the dress, and the wise words.

    Is it a particular story-dress? Wearing mythology or fairytale would be incredible...

  2. Oh Grace, you have no idea how spookily well-timed this post is for me... As I mentioned in a previous comment, I am currently working on a multimedia project of original fairytales. This past week (the weekend especially), I tasked myself with the goal of finishing writing one particularly daunting story. Now, I am very fond of the story's subject, the character, and the concept/source material behind it, but the more elaborate the story became in my head, the more complicated and utterly daunting it became to tie all the threads together and actually finish a first draft of the darn thing. I kept dragging it out, only working on little bits, or else procrastinating by working on illustration elements of the project instead. I have extremely high (probably excessively so) personal standards for my own work, and I think part of the difficulty was that I was just so afraid it was going to turn out terrible, and I couldn't bear the thought of producing something BAD. Finally, I decided to step up and just FINISH it this weekend, which I did.... but BOY was it sheer torture. I was up till the wee hours of the morning (Sunday into Monday) getting it done. As soon as it was all completed, I backed it up on my external hard drive, and rewarded myself with a big bowl of ice cream and some MST3K. I have to say, it's a big relief now knowing that I have it all done in a rough version which I can come back to much later and begin the process of hacking away, editing, reorganizing, refining, etc. Plus, it's a great sense of accomplishment. :D Ultimately, I'm very glad I forced myself to trudge through it to the end.

    And thank you for sharing the "behind-the-scenes" story of your Amy Parish root picture. I must say, it is one of my favorites (if not *the* favorite) of your art photography pics. Everything about it, not just the setting and composition, but the powerful presence and emotion in it, is simply magical. It's both hilarious and wonderfully reassuring to know that such a work of creative beauty that looks so mystical and perfect came out of a moment of mess and mundanity (and mud!).

    The page dress looks fantastic, by the way. I actually really like how the pages are more evenly aligned than those in the two models' pictures. I think it better reflects the quiet, contemplative nature of Dickinson's poetry than a random overlapping of different page angles would.

  3. Here's my contribution to Mythic March this week:

    I've been a little bit late posting it up because I've just been so busy. I love your dress! It's so whimsical and unusual. I think I'll have to try doing that, since I've done artwork out of book pages before.

  4. Newspaper clothes, haha,It is Environmental protection, it is not useful in life.but it Tells us to protect the environment. if you want to buy cheap,useful dresses,, can go to cheap camo prom dresses

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