Thursday, January 7, 2016

Over the Moon: Bright Wishes for the New Year

Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed,
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon

     We all know this 16th century rhyme and I always think about it when I am faced with an insurmountable task or if I am feeling particularly overwhelmed.  I just imagine being that cow that jumps over the moon. One that makes what may seem impossible, possible… or at least plausible. lol

     I began this piece on New Years Day in an attempt to be superstitious.  There is a belief that nags at all of us in the depths of our minds around New Years that whatever we are doing on New Years Day is what we will be doing a lot more of in the coming year.  I'm only mildly superstitious.  I don't believe in New Year's resolutions as, like Ben Gibbard would say in the Death Cab song, The New Year", 

This is the new year and I have no resolutions for self assigned penance for problems with easy solutions"  I think if you want to loose weight for the new year, you just go ahead and start doing what you would need to do to begin loosing weight.  Begin a more disciplined diet and begin exercising daily for at least 30 minutes. That's how you loose weight. Most all of us know the formula to make that happen and you don't have to "weight" until January 1st of any year to do so. This is just one of the more cliche and ironically most popular resolutions people make around this time of year.  If you want things to happen in your life, you think about how you can do it, make a plan and JUST BEGIN.  “Well begun is half done.,” say’s Mary Poppins, and I would certainly agree.

Beginning to do something is 75% of the task.  I guess I would say I believe more so in Life Resolutions than New Years resolutions. There are no shortcuts. Anything that is worth anything is achieved through hard work, discipline and perseverance.

     I get it, though.  Everyone thinks of the year ahead and thinks about all the possibilities of it.  It represents a Fresh Start; a New Beginning if you've needed one.  Maybe your last year was not a good year for some of you out there, maybe it was amazing.  My point is that New Years Day represents that New Beginning in all of us that we all secretly crave sometimes; that desired change that lies deep within our hearts.


     For me New Years is mores about a wish we can make from our hearts for that change we desire deep within.  And for me, I like the idea of wishes and dreams because that is something you can set goals and work towards.  I know it's really just a matter of the choice of words, but I really don't like resolutions per say as they are usually something that can be achieved at any time as long as you put your mind and your heart into it.  

Wishes and dreams are about imagining what can be possible in your life this year and to me that is much more exciting and visceral than making a promise to commit to something that I already know I am capable of.  Also if you only promise to do something, human nature will, more often than not, allow you to talk yourself out of your commitment to yourself.  However a wish and a dream can ignite passion for what you want to see happen in your life. SO I choose to make a New Years Wish instead of a resolution.

     2015 was such a sad year for me. Even though it was peppered with some good times and new friends that I've made, it was mostly a salt-lick… Blah! Lol.  It wasn't All Bad, but I know moving forward in my life, when I look back on that past year, I will always remember how sad/tragic it was and how sorrowful and depressed I was that year.  It was a down year.

     …However, I made a promise to myself that 2016 would be a year where I will be happy again.  I would take control of my life, where I can, and steer my boat into much sunnier waters and hope that there are fewer storms to weather through.  I didn't create very much last year (obviously attributed mostly to that severe depression.)   Everyone I know and love noticed a change in me as I'm not someone who can really hide emotions.  I'm certain most of you out there that are not in my close circle of “peeps”, noticed that my blog writing went sparse and quiet. 

     The wish I made for myself for 2016 was to be happy, whatever that may entail.  If something is not making me happy, I let it go.  I am learning to let a lot more go, and accepting that I can't control everything and thus far, even though we are 3 months in, I am happy so far.  I also made a wish and promise to myself to draw more and to write more on my blog as I have neglected it so much last year.  I am also going to start selling my art locally and online.  

This is currently in the works and doesn't really happen overnight, so I am working on it and accepting that there is progress and being happy in the fact that progress, however small, is moving forward and not standing still.  I have to accept that I have to be happy with what I can accomplish within the small time frame of each day.  I get really upset and discouraged on days that I can not work on art as there are many days like this.  I just have to be happy with and grateful for the time I do get to.  I was told by so many of my professors in college that I should be drawing at least 1 hour a day.  That is excellent advice and, yes, you will accomplish a great deal if you do that.  However, I have learned that it is not usually a reality to be able to do so;  Not for most artists.  We all work (and thankfully, I have a creative job, where I get to put my creative mind to work.) Not many artists have such a luxury. Most artists work a full time job that has nothing to do with art or creativity at all.  I have been in that position a few times in life and I know, first hand, how draining and hard that makes it to create art when you don't get to be creative on a regular basis.  SO, in that instance, I feel very lucky and grateful that I work in graphic design and get to be creative on a daily basis.

Now… Let’s talk about this art piece. Lol

     The week I worked on this piece, Illustration Friday’s topic was “Moon.”  I had previously illustrated a personification of the moon in my Summer Time diptych, so I wanted to do something new and different for that week’s creative challenge.  That is when I thought of the 16th century nursery rhyme and set out on a artistic adventure to illustrate that cow that jumps over the moon.

     I love drawing animals and, to date, I can’t remember drawing very many cows.  I had recently worked on a graphic for a local dairy farm at my full time gig, so I had learned some more about cows that I previously had not known.  There are a few different types of cows and it would seem that dairy cows are by far the most illustrated and represented in the art world.  I really like the shape, color and fur patterns of the Holstein cow.  I also thought that their orangey-brown color would contrast nicely across my blueish-purpley night-time space-scape.  I wanted this illustration to focus mainly on just the cow and her experience of jumping over the moon.  I wanted to illustrate how that accomplishment would make her feel and emote in others when they looked at it the feeling of accomplishing those goals we work so hard to achieve.  I wanted to capture that amazing feeling we get when we cross that finish line of achievement after such a long road that came before it.  Also focusing on a single character or element in these weekly illustrations serves the practical purpose of being able to complete them in that time frame. Lol
So you can see in her smile how my cow feels as she crosses the threshold of making that incredible leap.  I intentionally closed her eyes.  This represents not only the very literal facial expression many of us make after achieving, but also this represents the inward reflection we have after achieving our desired goal.  It’s a great feeling and I feel like this cow is speaking tomes to us with that smile of hers. That smile says,”YYYYEEEESSSSSS!!!!!!!” without saying anything at all.  We all know that feeling very well and it’s almost an addiction of that rush that drives us on to the next step in our life journey.

     I also was set on making this a “Winter” scene.  I didn’t get to illustrate anything “Christmasy” so I decided that a Winter’s theme would be the next best thing to draw.  I’m not exactly certain why I enjoy drawing animals in winter clothes, but I LOOOOVVVVEEE to do it.  Winter hats and scarves are just a joy to draw and design that I would draw them all day if I could. Lol

     Since I decided it was practical to focus only on the cow and the moon in this piece, I thought it would be clever to incorporate the rest of the “characters” from the nursery rhyme as “fashionable” graphics in the pattern of my cow’s scarf and winter hat.  One thing that I’ve noticed, working in screen printing this past year, is the interesting trend and application of Native American, Indian and South American patterns in Fashion design.  They appear to have just shown up everywhere and seemingly out of the blue.  The clients at work have just gone crazy over them and still continually ask from them in custom designs we do.  I’ve adopted this trend here and there in my illustration work and I have been enjoying creating and designing Native American and South American Influenced designs in my illustrations where I can.  They are very beautiful and colorful (which appeals to me a great deal.)  I like the organic nature of drawing these intricate patterns by hand.  Some may find it tedious, but I always feel like it’s my “Zen” time.  I just “Zone out” like a space cadet, lost in the intricacies of pattern making. ;0)

      So if you look in the design of the scarf, you will find a graphic representation of our dish that runs away with the spoon.  I liked the idea of making a “cross-bone” image with the spoons and integrating that with the hypnotic circles of the dish.  It’s the main feature of the scarf design and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. It was very fun to draw. 

     Next, you will find that fiddle playing feline in one of the main bands of the winter hat.  He/She is represented graphically as a repetition of a simple graphic cat-head. 

     The final element of this illustration is, of course, the Moon.  She is surprised to witness such a thing as a cow that can jump not only as high as she hangs in the sky, but over her head completely.  I admit that I spent some time creating the “dreamy” nature of this Moon as I wanted it to look completely different from any previous Moon I had illustrated before.  I never illustrated one that seemed like it was somewhere in the twilight of being awake and asleep.  I feel this way about our Moon sometimes.  It represents to me the “in-between.”  It literally hangs itself between the dusk and dawn of each day.  It always seems to have a very mysterious haze about it.  It’s this very quality that intrigues me about the Moon and as a Cancer (zodiac), I think I am predisposed to be drawn to it as the Moon is Cancer’s guiding “planet” in the universe of Astrology.  So I like the Moon and she likes me and I like to draw her sometimes. However, this time, I think I really caught that element of “in-between” with her. 

     This pretty much sums up what I wanted to talk about with this illustration.  I hope that this hopeful-humble dairy cow, who dreamt of jumping over the Moon and did very well achieved doing just that, inspires you all to work hard at those Dreams and Wishes you all made this past January.  I wish you all wonderful luck in the Moons you choose to jump this year.  It’s only April and the year is still full of many possibilities for you and me.  So I leave you all with a couple of tunes about Wishes and Dreams. May they inspire you todays to work towards achieving your tomorrows.   

until next time, friends...
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, 
keep making art.  

P.S. Here is a link to more about this well known Nursery Rhyme. I PROMISE you will learn a lot that you didn't know about this little ditty... ENJOY! :0) 

 Illustration by Randolph Caldecott