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Entries in Inspiration (5)


Dreams Are Real 035: Small Towns

Small towns and villages inspire me. So I took a trip to a place near my hometown.  It's inspired a lot of pictures throughout the years and is currently one of my influences for the tarot deck.



How To: Create Inspiration, Ignite Imagination, And Use Neurosis Wisely

Rita J. King, Megan Kingery, and myself.  Megan is testing our radiation levels with the Geiger counter. Clearly we were incredibly radioactive. Photo by James Jorasch.

Growing up I wanted to be a photographer.  There was nothing more glamorous than the thought of locking myself away in a dark room and emerging with grainy high contrast prints.  As it turns out,  I'm not a great photographer.

When Holly and I would take our road trips we'd bring along a simple point and shoot camera and a micro cassette recorder.  We were frantic about documenting our lives, recording our voices, and writing everything down.  Even when I wasn't with her I constantly had a journal or a camera with me.  Somehow I thought, if I didn't document everything I would lose moments of my life.  The last time I saw Brian I had a friend snap a photo of us.  It's the only photo I have left.  And when Holly passed in 2001 I was left with the photos, tapes, and journals.  While I was glad to have these physical representations of memories it also fed my neurosis.  I started to think that if I didn't document everything then I would have no proof it existed. 

I recently met Wafaa Bilal at a salon on body modification hosted by The Hybrid Reality Institute and Science House.  Wafaa currently has two camera's imbedded into the back of his head. He had three but his body rejected one of them. The cameras take a photo every minute and upload to a site.  Wafaa explained that he grew up in Iraq under Saddam Hussein's regime and fled in 1991.  He explained that he had no photographs of his time there, so all of it is in memory.  Part of doing this project is to make a statement on the things we leave behind as well as to have in existence images of where he had been and the people he had encountered.  Many of his works suggest the idea of the unseen and walking between two worlds.

 People are always surprised when they hear I use actual photos in my work.  Basically I have two ways of working.  I was trained traditionally.  In fact most of my first year drawings mimicked the notebooks of Da Vinci.  I was obsessed with how he lay out a page and wanted my own work to have that graphic element.

Orthogonal views of the skeleton (1510-11)

I like to draw but I'm so anal retentive it takes me forever to finish a drawing.  My sketches look like chicken scratch. I'm also a measurer, so will take the ruler to things over and over until I am certain they are the correct measurements.  In order to aid this I concocted a style that is partially photographic and partially drawing and painting. I need the organic feel of paint and the slight weight of pencil or charcoal in my hand.  I like the sound it makes against the paper, but I also need the permanence of the photograph.  I make digital sketches manipulating photographs until I have the right combination and composition.  I then print out three copies of this sketch.  Yes it's always three.  I paste one copy down on my bristol board and rip the other two into random pieces.  Then I take out gesso and block out certain parts of the sketch.  This way I can draw them back in.  If I happen to mess up, I still have the pieces of the other sketches to paste over and start again.  I work in layers, layers of paper, then paint, then pencil, and ink.  I like using the printouts because the ink and paint merge together giving a surreal look to the image.  I like to think I'm a pianist while making art, one hand crossing over the other, blending musical notes to create a composition.  And the last part of all of this is glaze.  When I was little I was obsessed with furniture that had shellac.  If they had painted images underneath I was enamoured.  I'm a textile kind of girl.  The glaze sets in the paint, the ink, it smudges the charcoal and ink just so.  It creates a dreamlike vintage affect to an otherwise matte piece.  With this whole process, I'm feeding the need to create something organically merging it with technology while  the neurotic tendency to use photography as proof of existence.  Although I can't ever see myself imbedding cameras into my head, I can see why Wafaa is doing the work he is doing. 

My friends Rita J. King and Joshua S. Fouts recently joined my friends over at Science House as Executive Vice President of Business Development and Executive Director of the Science House Foundation.  Rita and I have had many conversations about imagination and inspiration.  Science House even let me co-host a dinner salon about Creativity and the Imagination Age.  I believe we all have one project that defines us as an artist. It's not to say that this will be the only project, but there's always one that paves the way to the rest of your success.  For me, it's the tarot.  Inspiration came easy for this one once the time was right.  Mostly it's books or literature that inspires me to paint.  That moment a sentence or melody wraps itself around my brain it's pretty much unstoppable.  I described the feeling at the Imagination Age salon, "It's like hot wiring a car, there's that initial spark and then just like that, you're running."  This deck has seemingly put itself together.  One part of the sketch is made and piece by piece it flows together.  The digital sketches allow me to weed out what's not working.  I told James and Megan "Something is happening with this deck.  I don't know what it is but it's working.  It's all so clear and coming at me from all different directions.  I'm on, it's clear, and I have so much energy I can't think of much else."

Megan Kingery, Sxip Shirey, & myself.  Helen Arney on Skype.  Photo by Rita J. King

In conclusion:

I find I'm most inspired when one of two things happen.  First I'm surrounded by smart interesting people.  One of the reasons I am so fond of Science House and the Hybrid Reality Institute is because they bring together so many interesting people.  Scientists, artists, writer, musicians, etc with one common tie, a base in technology and the future.  And second immersing myself fully into art, literature, and music.  Sxip and Feloche's music have played a huge part in the creation of this deck.  My love for Frida Kahlo and the Beat Generation have allowed me to paint as well as share my stories.  My friend Warren Ellis has played a major role in everything I do or make.  It all plays in together, take two wires and make a spark.

Sometimes that spark ignites the engine and sometimes it just makes a spark.  The point is to keep going and let your imagination take you to where it needs to go.  Some of those place you'll want to stay and others will be places you never want to go to again.  But the point of all this is to just let it go.  Don't stifle yourself.  And if you find yourself getting blocked.  Cut up and rearrange it a la Gyson and Burroughs.

And well, if you find yourself knee deep in neurotic behavior, use it to your advantage and make something.  I'm off to the picture files.


How To 07: Feeding Your Soul, Finding Aspirations

Have you ever woken up in the morning and thought, I have no idea what I've done this whole week.  I know from photographic evidence, that I helped throw a party, and my tweets are referencing a certain Miss Kim Boekbinder and Jim Batt staying with me at the caravan.  I'm also fairly certain I had a magical night of tarot and wine with Sherene Schostak as we discussed the future of BTHM and Constellation.  My orange moleskin swears I've been to Pratt lecturing, and my text messages have been implying I stay up late creating secret collectives with my housemate with fancy names and strange guises.

Laura McLaws Helms and Myself

Last week I co-hosted Constellation's birthday party at Tacombi with Sherene.  I like to think of myself as a bit of a hermit, but what I'm finding more and more is my interactions with people I love, is what really feeds my soul. 

Me, Yelena Yeretzky, and Sherene Schostak

Dario Wolos (owner of Tacombi), Sherene & Stefania Pia

 For more images from the party click here

My housemate recently introduced me to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  It was instant love.  The song below is exactly what I want my life to feel like. The song embodies a certain carefree attitude that is so important in the creative process.  I can't tell you how many times I've done crits and the work in the sketchbook is magnetic and spontanious, yet the finished product is too tight and unharmonious.  It happens in my own work as well.  Sometimes, no matter what we are doing, we need to shut off the part of our brains that says, "It needs to be done like this."  So when you need a quick shutdown and recharge, I suggest a five minute dance party.

From The Magnetic Zeros to an impromptu photo shoot.  My housemate and I created this image.  We laughed hysterically until 2 a.m.  There have been many a night like this in the caravan and frankly I wouldn't have it any other way.  There's nothing like silly creative nights in your own home.  Grab a camera, some watercolors, charcoal, or even some crayons and just run wild.  The whole point is to not think, just do.  It'll break a block like a charm.

As you create more, you begin to find what you are good at and where you should hone in.  I like to keep a notebook of everything that inspires me and the aspirations I have because of it. 


Dreams Are Real 08: Magick

I used to dream of Chinese lanterns as decorations, wine bottles drenched in wax, and bohemian lace curtains.  I'd wake up to Armenian coffee and sandalwood incense, all while plotting my next painting.  Dreams are real, or at least sometimes they turn out to be.  My life is amazingly beautiful right now, filled with gorgeous friends, magical evenings, and an inner happiness I can't even begin to describe. 

I wore this vintage ensemble to Kim Boekbinder's show at Goodbye Blue Monday.  She dedicated her Gypsy song to me and as I watched her play and sipped my wine, it was one of those moments that I was so grateful to be alive.  Later Kim, Zelda Devon and a few others made our way to Williamsburg for late night burgers and impromptu tarot readings.  Please donate to her album fund so that we may be blessed with a full cd of Kim's gorgeous, gorgeous music.

Ladyfag's newest blog recently brought tears to my eyes and made my heart ten times bigger.  It reminds me of when I was a small little Gypsy, living on a farm in MA dreaming of a bohemian life.  We all have our attachments that stick with us through the years and inspire us for decades.  Watch this inspiring mini film titled Anastasia and Snegrouchka.  Darling Lady, you always hold a special place in my heart.

LADYFAG in ANASTASIA & SNEGUROCHKA from Stylelikeu on Vimeo.

 Yesterday was one of my dearest friend's birthday.  I've known Uli since I was just 14 and trotting around Northampton MA.  We moved to NYC at the same time and remained friends ever since, even living in the same building at one point, calling ourselves the Quincy Punks.  Yes my friends we lived on Quincy, right in Bed-Stuy.  It was a magical time. Uli is one of those people who I don't get to see nearly enough and cherish so deeply.  Happy Birthday Uli.

And thank you to my amazing friends Kim, Travis, Molly, Fred, Kurt, and Zelda for an amazing night of absinthe, corsets, and conversation.  I love you all.


The Caravan 014: Inspired 

Kylie just tweeted that she spent the day inspired.  I'm feeling that way too, these days.  Every day I am more and more grateful for the amazing friends I have and the incredible things they are doing.  I'm really lucky to be surround by such wonderful people.  I'm bogged down in Constellation deadlines so I'll leave you with a few images from my house, gifts from friends, a wonderful book, and a links to a few of my favorite things.

This weekend I'll be reading tarot at the Vintage Couture sale posted below and teaching a tarot intensive.  If you are in the city it would make me deliriously happy to see you at either or both events. Both are categorized under Crosses Palm with Silver.

No day is complete without Santa Marta.

My two main girls, Kali and Oshun.

And much love to Travis Louie for giving me his fabulous book.  I love each and every one of those creatures you create!

My friend Daisy just released this book as well.  I am looking forward to reading it. You can check out a few pages free right here.

My favorite things:

A few of my blog entries have contained my favorite inspirational items and people.  Here are links to those pages. 

Trinkets & Sandman Slim

Seven Years of Stories