Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Tunesday: Kero Kero Bonito "Flamingo"

This song is so cute. Even the artist's name is cute to say: Kero Kero Bonito!

A simple, cute, crisp song perfect for walking down the hot streets of Toronto with some rose coloured shades on.

I hope this song brings a smile to your face.

Have a great day guys!

Monday, 30 May 2016

The Scary 9 Things about Starting a Blog

Everyone has a shitty blog to their name. Everyone who owns a computer with internet access has started a blog and after a post or two has left it to rot. Personally, I've lost count how many shitty half-baked blogs I have to my name. Every year or two I start a new one with new enthusiasm and gusto "This time, this blog is going to be the blog that works!" and so I go scouring the internet for advice: what platform should I use?; What advice to successful bloggers have for new bloggers starting out?  I find myself deep down a Pinterest rabbit hole full of words like "branding" and "social media optimization" and am subsequently filled with so much uncertainty and anxiety that my blog boner has wilted.

If it wasn't for my morning pages repeatedly telling me that I want to start a blog and renewing my motivation to regularly post to it daily, this blog wouldn't be here at all.

So here's my advice from one just starting blogger to another:

#1"Pick your blog theme? How? I don't even know what I want to write about?"

Whenever I read the advice to pick a theme and create a blog around it, I was like: "but, but, but I don't know what I want to write about, and I know I certainly can't limit it to only one thing?!" I decided to say "fuck that" and just write what I wanted to. My theme, then, if you must categorize it, would be "personality blog", but that doesn't even fit the mold. It's an blog where I post artwork, share music and internet videos I like and then reflect or write long form about something on a Monday. That's what I'm bringing to the table, and hopefully people will find it and like it enough to keep coming back every week.

#2 Quantity leads to Quality.

The blank page is a terrifying sight, I know, but you've got to overcome it and write. Just write about whatever. At the start it is all about getting over hang-ups and creating a habit of blogging. 

#3 Social Media Optimizing?

This one is a good idea. If you don't share your posts across multiple platforms then no one is going to ever find it. I have a twitter, and instagram and a facebook page which I share things to. It's early days so I'm not sure how effective it has been, but my page views do grow with every day, so some progress must be being made. I highly recommend setting up a Hootsuite account because you can send out and schedule posts in advance all from one place, which is really helpful because, well, life happens! 

#4 Make it personal!

I love reading blog posts for the human voice of the writing. If I didn't want to get to know the author of an article I was reading, then I would read the news! Stay true to you. Don't put on airs, because this blog is an extension of you. It's your voice out there in the interwebs, so keep it respectful. A good rule of thumb I like to keep in mind is to ask yourself "Would I want to show this to my grandma? Would she be proud of me after reading this?" If the answer is no because she'd probably go and rinse my mouth out with soap, then maybe you shouldn't post it. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that the internet is a wonderful networking tool. You never know who could be reading your work. They could really like it and reach out to you for an opportunity, or it could be someone in HR researching your name after you submitted a resume. Moral of the story: put your best face forward. 

#5 Find Blogger friends and Comment on their pages

Ugh. Barf. 
This is something that I struggle with and rarely do myself. I think the fact that I read a lot of my blogs on my phone really influences if I leave a comment or not. Part of the key to having a successful blog (or so I've heard) is to comment on other people's blogs. This is done with the hopes that they will come back and read and comment on one of your posts. I feel a little cheap doing this as it feels disingenuous, only posting a comment to get something back in return, so you need to ask yourself "why am I leaving this comment?" If it is because you genuinely enjoyed the content, then please leave that comment! If you only are doing it so that it leads to a page view for your adsense revenue, then maybe you need to rethink what blogging means to you. 

#6 Always end blog posts with a "call to action"

Dance, readers, dance! Muahahaahaha!

I am so shitty at this. Part of me feels cheesy asking a question at the end because I'm like "everyone will know it's just a cheep shot to get people to reply to me so that I am validated through comments" but no, it's all part of creating a community through your blog. I started this blog with the hopes that I would find like minded people

#7 Schedule and write posts in advance

(c) Toothpaste for Dinner

As I said in point three, life happens. If you're serious about your blog, you're going to need to be posting regularly to keep people interested and coming back for more. If you have themed days, like how I have Tunesday where I share a song ever Tuesday, try to plan those posts well in advance, write them and schedule them to go. Hunker down one day and hammer them out, and then boom, you have just taken care of Tunesday for the next three months! I like to use Hootsuite to schedule advanced posts, and also have a good old fashioned paper calendar that lays out what I'm going to be posting when. Find the system that works best for you. 

#8 Word limits, lists and click bait titles

There are so many limits put on bloggers before they've even started writing! "Don't make your posts too long! People don't like to read!" If people don't like to read, why are they even looking at a blog? Word limits are something I really disagree with. I don't want to edit myself to suit other people. Even if I post into cyberspace and only get silence in return, fine. Eventually I will attract the people who are willing to read slightly longer-form blog posts. Heck, I'm sure Dan Carlin got the same pressure to edit down his podcasts, but his 4 hour long, multiple chaptered Hardcore History podcasts have a huge following. There is an audience out there for everybody so keep doing what you're doing.

That being said, as a student of Graphic Design and user design, people do love lists and bullet points. They love things that are easy to read and have lots of blank space that breaks up blocks of text. I wish there was a way to create columns in these posts to shorten the line lengths. Eyes get tired when they have to travel too far, lazy peepers. 

To me, the urge to create a catchy title feels like selling out before you've even started. There is some truth to it though. But lets be real, hasn't everyone caught on to those click-bait titles and can spot them and their horrifically ad-riddled posts a mile away? Dear humble readers, I assure you, if I ever use a click-bait-esque title, it will be done with the most heartfelt hipster irony and so I hope you enjoy it. A little wink from me to you. 

#9 Have fun!

The truth of it all is the likelihood that your blog brings you fame and fortune is very slim, so if this is something you're going to be putting your heart and soul into make sure you enjoy it! That joy will come through in your posts and your readers will be able to tell. 

Let's talk, dear readers! 

Does reading a blog on a mobile device without a physical keyboard deter you from leaving a comment?

Are you thinking about starting a blog yourself? What is stopping you?

Is there anything you'd like to see done differently on this blog? If you've been checking in for a while, thank you! I'd really value your input!

Have a lovely week, guys! 

Friday, 27 May 2016

Lady Power!

Without going into much detail, I work as a waitress and the other night I had the worst, most disgusting, experience with sexual harassment I have ever had. It made me really think hard about how we deal with victims. "Why didn't you just tell him to fuck off and go away?" is a common question, and I was asked that myself, but the people who say that weren't there. I learned a lot about how you never know how you are going to react to a situation until you're in it, and past experiences don't dictate how you will react the next time (and the unfortunate reality that the likelihood that there will be a next time, and a time after that, is so high it's practically a guarantee).

I'm sending this video out to all you ladies out there who have had been treated shitty by a guy, whether he was a customer who felt he had the right to take liberties (also the animation is pretty epic). If you have regrets and mull over what you did and didn't do, remember whatever happened and how you reacted do not define you.

Regardless of what happened, you are a boss ass bitch.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Preach it, sister! The Gospel According to RuPaul

Trying to capture the fierceness that is RuPaul,
Queen of the Matrix
E. Alex Jung's interview with RuPaul in Vulture came out March 23, 2016 and I've been thinking about it ever since. It dropped some bombs on me and shook the way I look at the world. If you haven't read it, I highly, highly, highly recommend it (click here).

In writing this response I had to stop myself from just copying and pasting the whole article because I love it so much. Instead, here's one of my favourite parts, one of the most poignant:

Jung: They often say that drag saved their lives. 
Ru: Right. And I'll tell you why. Because you get to a point where if you're smart and you're sensitive, you see how this all works on this planet. It's like when Dorothy looks behind the curtain. Like, "Wait a minute. You're the wizard?" And you figure out the hoax. That this is all an illusion. There's only a few areas you can go. First, you get angry that you've been hoaxed and you get bitter. But then, take more steps beyond the bitterness and you realize, "Oh, I get it. Let's have fun with it. It's all a joke. You mean I don't have to stick with one look or one whatever? I can shape-shift? Great." That's when you can save lives because otherwise the mediocrity and the hypocrisy is so mundane, it's better to just not do it. I'm not going to say "end it all." But that's why it saves lives. Because for people who are highly sensitive and super-intelligent, it tickles the brain. It gives them something to live for. It's the irreverence. I was the same way when I was 15. I said, "Okay, I'm gonna do this life. But I'm gonna do it on my terms, and I'm never gonna join the Matrix." That's why it saves lives. 
Jung: Would you say that drag saved your life?
Ru: It actually didn't save my life, it gave me a life. I don't think there is a life in the mundane 9-to-5 hypocrisy. That's not living. That's just part of the Matrix. And drag is punk rock, because it is not part of the Matrix. It is not following any rules of societal standards. Boy, girl, black, white, Catholic, Jew, Muslim. It's none of that. We shape-shift. We can do whatever we want. 

I have been a big fan of RuPaul's Drag Race for many years and have shown it to my friends, resulting in many multi-episode marathons as we all gag on the makeup, fashion and shade of it all. This article was the first time I really heard his voice, and it beamed right into my core.

Some people say that this interview doesn't sound like Ru, but listen to even a few minutes of his podcast What's the Tee with Michelle Visage and you'll have no denial that it is Ru's voice coming through loud and clear in this interview.

Ru is so smart, so self-aware, so aware of society. He knows exactly what's going on and why it's happening. Seeing this intelligent and punk rock side of drag, I want in...but as a woman I am unsure how to go about doing it. I'm not a gay man so I can't enter it in the "truest" sense, nor am I a lesbian to become a Drag King. It doesn't seem right to be to encroach on something that is so tied to their sexuality if I was a straight Drag King. Yes, there are straight males who perform as women, the most famous example being Dame Edna, but I don't want to perform as a man. I want access to that femininity that I am not allowed to have as a straight woman. If you dress or act too sexy, you're a slut; If you have an elaborate hair or over the top make up, you're a vain bitch. If you dress one way, you're frumpy, if you dress another you're prude, and so on and so on. In drag everything is worn on purpose. If you're dressed frumpy, it's for a reason, and you are aware you look frumpy so you call it out, laugh at it and own it. It doesn't seem fair that this freedom is available to gay men. They've manage to take all that being a woman is yet is societally not allowed to be and triumph with it. I can't help but be jealous, you know?

I am also intrigued by Ru's use of the word 'Drag". I've been listening to his podcast and both he and Michelle Visage use the them to refer to Michelle being in Drag, meaning big hair and lots of make up. They do say a lot of celebrity women are in drag, but seem to limit that to the altering of their physical appearance (to meet western standards of female beauty) not so much the punk rock, social comment, fuck the matrix part.

I haven't quite figured out what my version of drag is, but I do know that this blog is part of it.  

I'm sure if Ru read this post he'd give me crap for searching for a definition of Drag and say "quit stalling and just do it! There is no definition, kittyguuuur!" The definition fully lies in being what mainstream is not, right?

In the meantime, while I continue down the Ru-rabbit hole, I've been inspired to wear whatever I want. I've been doing this for years, as someone who has never really felt she belonged, or that anyone has ever 'got' her. I've always felt like someone on the outside, watching what was going on and not wanting a part with most of it. My version of drag was being identified as Gifted in school, and finding solace in that title and the "enhanced otherness" that is implied. It kinda gave me an explanation for how I felt, especially since the term indicates a different mental make up, not just being really good at math for example: "Of course I don't fit in, and don't want to, I'm gifted." I am still unpacking the term 'gifted' and all that it means. Gifted kids have the highest school drop out rate, which seems to fit well with the "fuck the matrix" attitude of drag and with Ru's Dorthony metaphor which really attracts me.

The lesson I have learned by going crazy with my make-up (which on busy days becomes my only artistic act of self-expression, and so I cherish and enjoy painting my face every morning) is: no one cares. Wear what you want. If people like it, they will let you know and you'll get a nice confidence boost. If they hate it, they won't say a word and you will never know. This law might not work online with the freedom of anonymity, but in person this law holds true for me.

I saw this video of female drag queens. I don't quite know what I think about it. I love that it's happening and hope it brings great things, especially for females like me who want to give it a try. What do you think?

Jung: How do you feel drag's function has changed? Ru: The function hasn't changed. It's been the same since the beginning of time when shamans, witch doctors, or court jesters were the drags. Which is to remind culture to not take itself seriously. To remind you that you are not your shirt or your religious affiliation. You are an extension of the power that created the whole universe. You are God in drag. You are dressed up in this outfit of a body, which is temporary. You are eternal. You are forever. You are unchanged. And this is a dream you're having. So don't get to attached to it. Make love. Love people. Be sweet. Have corn dogs. Dance. Live. Love. Fuck shit up. But it's all good. You can't fuck it up because you're eternal.

For more of the gospel according to RuPaul definitely check out his podcast. I couldn't recommend it more!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Artist's Intensive: Week 2 Recap

This week got off to a bumpy start. I received an email from a professor asking me to re-work an assignment, so I found myself forcibly wrenched out of summer mode and back "into the office" so to speak and as a result, my momentum for this project got thrown way out of whack. Also, I got hooked on Stardew Valley, so that ate up quite a lot of my time this week. (It really is a fantastic game, and entirely made by one person! If you liked Harvest Moon, you'll like this game. I've never played Harvest Moon myself, but my boyfriend says it's very similar, but with a little bit of magic and melancholy mixed in. I highly recommend it! It's more fun than it has any right to be. Be warned!)

The Artist's Way: Week 2

The only complaint I have about the tasks this week was that they all needed to be done at the end of the week. Some of them ask you to look at your week and break down how much time you spent doing certain things, and notice if those things were something you wanted to do or had to do. Since this involved waiting until the week was up to analyze my time, I felt like I had a big task looming over my head the whole week, where as I would have liked to tackle the tasks at the beginning. 

I did not read the Basic Principles to myself every morning. I kinda dismissed this as not important because I don't really like the wording of the Basic Principles (too wishy-washy spiritual for my tastes), however I did remind myself of their overall message every day, which I interpreted to be: You are meant to be creative. Humans are creative beings. Allow yourself to create.  

I also found it hard to complete task #7, list ten changes you'd like to make for yourself. Looking back on the list now, I discovered that I had completed one of the tasks without even realizing it! Huh! Yay me! 

My Artist's Date this week was a 30 minute dance exercise video. Admittedly, I did not plan it too far in advance, but I did let myself choose it over my regular, body weight heavy exercise routine because I wanted to have a little fun. It also tied into one of the tasks for this week, task #3, which involved listing 20 things you enjoy doing and date the last time you did those things (I found it very hard to write 20 things, which surprised me). This also touched on task 8 from week one, which involved thinking about what kind of other lives you would lead if you could, and trying to bring aspects of those lives into your daily life, or choosing artist dates that are in a similar theme (i.e. If you wanted to be a cowboy in another life, try to see if you can sign up for horseback riding lessons.) 

In the same way, I don't feel too bad about spending so much time playing Stardew Valley this week, as it fed my "play" quotient, which, after completing task #7, I discovered was quite lacking.

Check in: 
Morning Pages: 7/7 days.
I love morning pages. It makes me feel like I know myself better. Just giving myself the opportunity to talk to myself every morning and really listen to myself is fantastic. I find myself being so much more focused and recently have found myself being able to own the concept that it's my life and I'm going to live it how I want to (which ties in with a few of the tasks this week). I feel like I am slowly working towards being less caught up in those people who block certain aspects of my life and accept that by not sharing that side of my life with them, it is in my best interest to keep it to myself or only share it with people I know will support it. 

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: Chapter 3 & 4 

The drawing exercises this week were really fun. I had done them in the past when I first got this book, and anyone who's flipped through the book at my place seems fascinated by the idea of copying an image while its upside down...and that it will turn out better than had you drawn it the right way up. Its very cool! Also, the Picasso sketch you get to copy is amazing. I love the bold lines and the slightly skewed perspective.

I also really liked reading into what tasks the left and right lobes of your brain are generally responsible for. Some of the studies she talks about were really cool, pinpointing moments when there is a disconnect between the two sides and they don't really understand each other. She describes it as almost having two different brains inside

One thing in particular I found pretty cool was how when you're in "visual mode", since it is such a separate part of your brain from verbal mode there can be some disconnect and you find yourself unable to name things. I do this all the time. If you know me, you know how terrible I am with names... names of anything: books, people I meet, shows and movies I watch. I find I need to see the name written down before I have any chance of remembering it. I wonder if I am just a little more visually orientated than verbal? 

Ways of Seeing: Part 3 & 4

Boobs. Boobs. Boobs.

This week was all about boobs, what they mean in art, who's meant to look at them, what it says about the woman who is showing them... everything. 

I loved this chapter because it sums up so much about art history and about being a woman in the west in just a few pages. It's an interesting discussion about the difference between nude and naked, about why the female nude is such a common image in art, and how that changed over time. It also touches on the phenomenon of the "male gaze" which totally blew my mind the first time I learned about it, and is something I don't think you can ever overcome, which I don't know how I feel about that.... 

Keeping in mind, since it is such a short passage, there are a few sweeping generalities... also it is a bit outdated now, I feel. But, all in all, if you've never looked into art history, or have never enjoyed going to an art gallery, or don't know how to start appreciating art, I highly recommend this book. It's a bite-sized place to start that covers all of the major themes. According to the accolades on the back cover, John Berger was quite revolutionary back in the day, and I guess his thoughts now have become commonplace, which is kinda cool.

Philosophy: Aristotle

I did try to read this at the beginning of the week while at work, but it got too busy. I procrastinated this task until the very end and only started reading it on the Saturday. 

Things I liked about this week:

  • The Ways of Seeing chapter about the Nude in Western Art. It packed a big punch in only 10 pages
  • Copying an upside down image
  • Learning about what ways humans have inadvertently expressed truths about the left and right brain specializations through language and connotations for "left" and "right" terms. For example, Latin for left is sinister meaning bad, and the Latin word for right is dexter where our word dexterity comes from. Left in french is gauche which means awkward, and is where we get the word "gawky". Neat! 

Things I want to do better next week:

  • Commit to the Artist's Way tasks. I feel I kinda skimmed them this week and didn't tackle them as in depth as I would have liked to
  • Commit to making in depth notes as I read. 

How are your goals coming along? Have you joined me in my artist's intensive? I'd love to hear how they are going! If you are having trouble with you goals, I highly, highly, highly recommend adding morning pages to your day. If you would like to know more about morning pages, I've written a whole post about them which you can find here. I cannot praise morning pages enough! They have made all the difference in my life, in only a little over a month. It's amazing!
Thank you for reading!
Until next time,


p.s. For those of you wondering if I have abandoned the analogue blog format, fear not! Since I have a lot to write about each week in review, I thought the best way to get the information down was by typing, otherwise I'd be writing for pages and pages!  


If you would like to join me in this artist's intensive course, you can find out more information about the books I'm reading here: [BOOKS] and watch my intro video and find out the syllabus here: [INTRO]

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Tunesday: Partybus - Culcha Candela

If you've been following this blog for a while, you may have caught on to the fact that I love pop songs with shitty lyrics. If a song is bad, I will listen to it on repeat. If a song features a rapper who can't rhyme or doesn't sound "cool and hardcore", it becomes my favourite part. Maybe it's because I grew up listening to Weird Al parodys and cover albums by The Muppets or The Chipmunks, but give me a terrible pop song and I will love you forever.

I think I discovered Culcha Candela from a "Best of Eurovision" playlist years ago, and on that day I knew I had discovered audio gold. Culcha Candela are a german hip hop/reggae/pop band that sing in English, German, Spanish and sometimes French. Most of the time I have no idea what they're saying, but if their English lyrics are anything to go by, it's definitely not poetry... (my favourite lyric in this song is when the one guy goes: "Enjoy, joy, joy, joy, joy. joy, it is time to enjoy!" but holy moley are their songs catchy! And really, what more do you want from a pop song than something with a good beat that makes you want to dance?

I have this idea in my head that Culcha Candela is the guilty pleasure of all Germans. No one would admit to liking them, but secretly they know all of the words and love it when one of their songs comes on shuffle.

When I was in Berlin I did hear their music on the radio, so I know they're not just a wonderful pop hallucination of mine.

Monday, 16 May 2016

7 observations about food in Ireland

I just got back from a fortnight in Ireland and ate a tonne of delicious food while I was there. Here are some thoughts about the things I put in my stomach.

Saint Bridget: The perfect representation of the killer dairy game and the stronghold of the Catholic church in the country

  1. The soup of the day is ALWAYS vegetable. It's a tasty, creamy orange puree of some unknown mix of vegetables. It's delicious, but it is the only soup, (aside from clam/seafood chowder) that exists on the island.
  2. The butter is out of this goddamn world! A dear friend told me how good the butter was when she found out I was going to Ireland, and I dismissed it as an odd comment... I mean, how good can butter honestly be? It's just butter? Boy was I wrong. I couldn't get enough of the stuff! I was slathering two or three pats on each slice of bread I ate. And before you ask, no, there was no margarine or other butter abominations insight. With such national dairy pride, I wouldn't be surprised if margarine was illegal in Ireland.
  3. Ireland's dairy game is so strong it only make sense that their whipped cream/clotted cream would be to die for also. Like their butter, Ireland's clotted cream should be put on everything - especially some homemade scones. Yum!
  4. If you are a person who regularly puts cream in their coffee, you're going to have a hard time in Ireland. They put milk on every table, but wait staff seem very confused when you ask for cream. Nine times out of ten the confused international hotel staff will bring you clotted cream. To save you from this mild annoyance, I highly recommend you change to drinking tea during your time in the country -- and the tea is fantastic! Rich and thick flavour without getting bitter. I drank copious amounts of the stuff while I was there. They also will let you buy a pot of tea at a lot of coffee shops and restaurants, which I think is very cute and quite civilized.
  5. Supermac, the Irish version of McDonalds is not worth trying. Their food is pretty shitty, excluding their ice cream, since, well this is Ireland after all, and anything their cows produce is pure gold. The soft serve ice cream at Supermac's is so light! It tastes like their whipped cream and comes with a chocolate stick. The guy at Supermac even put sprinkles on mine for me. I appreciate the lack of agism, and wish Canadian ice cream scoopers would get on the equality bandwagon. You don't just "grow out" of sprinkles!
  6. Every pub menu is the same the whole country wide. Every pub looks the same. Every pub sign has the same lettering (actually a large percentage of shop signs in the country look like pub signs. They really love Victorian lettering, which is pretty cool. It gives the whole country a sense of design unity, which, as a Canadian without a defined culture, is always interesting to see). Your Canadian/American neighbourhood "traditional Irish Pub" looks like a traditional Irish Pub. 
  7. Despite being spelled with a "thw", the beer Smithwicks is pronouced "Smiddicks" and despite it's dark colour, it is a very light and tasty beer. 

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Back from Vacation

Met this cutie on the Emerald Isle

I can't remember if I mentioned it before I even left, but for the last two weeks I have been on vacation in Ireland! Sneaky me, I made sure to cue up enough posts so that it looked like I was still hard at work when really I was gorging myself on delicious dairy products. Honestly, Ireland's dairy game is out of this world... but more on that later in a post to come.

What I'm writing to say that I'm coming back from vacation with a new view on the world, and a little sharper focus on what I want to do. Travelling is fun and exciting, but the most valuable part of vacation, I find, is that you always appreciate home a little more when you get back. Maybe that's just me?

It might take me a day or two to get my head sorted and let the fog (haha, Ireland = fog, gettit?) lift so I can see my focus again, so some projects like the artists way might have a one week delay -- I am not abandoning them! I just need to sort out some things so I can tackle them head on with this new energy I have.

Re-reading this post, it sounds like I had a great awakening while away. In a way I did, because I gained some insights into what I want to do with my life, specifically that I don't think working overseas is an ideal fit for me. The trip, in a very subtle way, gave me more motivation to work on what I do want: I want to be successful in Toronto, as a teacher, a graphic designer, anything. It's nice to have answers about yourself. Funny how you are the only person who will fully understand yourself, but doing so is very difficult at times. How can you hide things from yourself? Who is inside to hide them from you?

With that creepy yet inspiring note, I will end this post. Off to edit buckets of travel photos and apply for jobs. Ho
ray for your responsibilities catching up with you after a trip!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Tunesday: BIGBANG (GD&T.O.P) - ZUTTER/ 2NE1 - I am the Best

Everytime I watch a K-pop video I wish that the clothes in the music video would magically appear in my closet. This video is no exception.

While we are on the subject of amazing K-Pop fashion, here's a double shot of K-pop for you. An old clasic, 2NE1's "I'm The Best", featuring the best punk outfits I've ever seen. I want that Misfit's leather jacket SO BAD.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Artist's Intensive Course: Book List

"The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron 

Please don't let the atrocious cover turn you away. This book is great. It can get cheesy, and very new-age-y/spiritual at times. As someone who has only spent time in a church for art history reasons, and to use the Sunday school room to rehearse with a theatre troop, I usually get queasy when a book refers to God a lot. I'm just too much of an non-believer for that. However, Julia Cameron addresses any discomfort an atheists might have right off the bat in the introduction, asking you instead to think of the Creator as "someone who creates" or the power of creativity itself. So, thank you Julia for thinking of us heathens over here.

"The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A course in enhancing creativity and artistic confidence" by Betty Edwards

This book is really cool. If the before and after pictures are anything to go by, you can really strengthen your drawing abilities by re-training how you look at the world. Betty Edwards shows that anyone can draw. I like that she balances chapters of drawing exercises with chapters of reasoning: one chapter she goes into how the brain works, in another she talks about when in a child's development does inner artist block get developed and what you can do about it. It is a book for an utter beginner (read: someone who stopped drawing as a child - because everyone was an artist at one point in their young lives) and also for someone who is interested in how drawing works, how the brain works when drawing. I'm hoping it is also good for someone like me, who has some drawing skills but would like to improve them!

"Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Selected Readings in Aesthetics from Plato to Heidegger" edited by Albert Hofstadter and Richard Kuhns

This book is going to be a slog. It's full of primary philosophic readings from Plato to Heidegger. This was a textbook for an Aesthetics course I took and I had a hard time keeping up with the readings week to week. This will definitely be the most challenging of the texts I've picked.

A similar textbook can be found here. It might actually be easier to read, since it's more of an essay than primary sources... I may switch to it later if Philosophies of Art and Beauty is too much to take.

"Ways of Seeing" by John Berger

I think this book is best summed up by the information on its back cover:

"John Berger’s Ways of Seeing is one of the most stimulating and the most influential books on art in any language. First published in 1972, it was based on the BBC television series about which the (London) Sunday Times critic commented: 'This is an eye-opener in more ways than one: by concentrating on how we look at paintings ... he will almost certainly change the way you look at pictures.’ By now he has."
"'The influence of the series and the book ... was enormous ... It opened up for general attention areas of cultural study that are now commonplace’ Geoff Dyer in Ways of Telling"

A free PDF of the book can be found here:

The only thing I don't like about this book is that it's entirely written using a bold sans serif font for some reason... an important lesson in graphic design for every reader!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Artist's Intensive Course: Self-improvement or Sadism, you decide!

Do you have books that sit on your shelf. You find yourself looking at them and saying "I'm going to read that!" and then you never do? You move these books with you from apartment to apartment, but despite how good your intentions are, you never end up reading them. 

I was the same. I had a few textbooks from university kicking around that I had saved because felt too rushed during the course to read them as in-depth as I would have liked. I told myself I'd read them during the summer, but never did. As a self-identified "artsy person" a common gift would be an art instruction book. Despite how cool they looked, and how helpful I knew they would be, they also joined the dusty ranks of unread books on my bookshelf. 

But no longer!

This summer, I'm going to do something about it. I'm going to read. those. books. Once and for all!

And so, I have created an ARTIST'S INTENSIVE course for myself, combining practical art training, a semi-spiritual journey, and some academic texts. I will be killing multiple birds with one stone, and hopefully becoming a better artist in the process.

If you would like to join me (and I really hope you do!) here's what my course entails: 


  • The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
  • The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
  • Ways of Seeing by John Berger 
  • Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Selected readings in Aesthetics from Plato to Heidegger edited by Albert Hofstadter and Richard Kuhns
  • A notebook for morning pages
  • A notebook for course notes, completing the tasks, etc
  • A sketchbook for the "Brain" exercises (optional, if your notebook is blank)

You can find my book list here, with more information about the books: [BOOKS]


Oooh, a course outline. How official. How academic! How nerdy. Indeed.

Week one: 

  1. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: Introduction to Chapter 2 (p. xvii-25)
  2. Artist's Way: Introduction to Week 1 (p. 9-59)
  3. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Plato (p. 3-77)
  4. Ways of Seeing: Part 1 (p. 7-34)
Week two:
  1. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: Chapter 3 & 4 (p. 28-65)
  2. Artist's Way: Week 2 (p. 60-79)
  3. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Aristotle (p. 78-138)
  4. Ways of Seeing: Part 2 & 3 (p. 35-64)
Week three:
  1. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: Chapter 5 & 6 (p. 68-113)
  2. Artist's Way: Week 3 (p. 80-98)
  3. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Plotinus (p. 139-170)
  4. Ways of Seeing: Part 4 & 5 (p. 65-112)
Week four:
  1. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: Chapter 7 (p. 116-135)
  2. Artist's Way: Week 4 (p. 99-112)
  3. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Augustine & Ficino (p. 171-238)
  4. Ways of Seeing: Part 6 & 7 (p. 113-154)
Week five:
  1. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: Chapter 8 (p. 138-159)
  2. Artist's Way: Week 5 (p. 113-127)
  3. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Shaftsbury (p.239-276)
Week six:
  1. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: Chapter 9 (p. 162-191)
  2. Artist's Way: Week 6 (p.128-139)
  3. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Kant (p. 277-343)
Week seven:
  1. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: Chapter 10 (p. 194-227)
  2. Artist's Way: Week 7 (p. 140-151)
  3. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Shelling (p.344-377)
Week eight:
  1. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: Chapter 11 (p. 230-245)
  2. Artist's Way: Week 8 (p. 152-173)
  3. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Hegel (p. 378-445)
Week nine:
  1. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: Chapter 12 (p. 248-265)
  2. Artist's Way: Week 9 (p. 174-185)
  3. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Schopenhauer (p. 446-495)
Week ten:
  1. Artist's Way: Week 10 (p. 186-201)
  2. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Nietzsche (p. 416-554)
Week eleven:
  1. Artist's Way: Week 11 (p. 202-216)
  2. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Croce (p. 556-576)
Week twelve:
  1. Artist's Way: Week 12 (p. 217-227)
  2. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Dewey (p. 557-646)
Week thirteen:
  1. Artist's Way: Epilogue (p. 228-end)
  2. Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Heidegger (p. 645-708)

I know it looks like a lot, and at the beginning it is. However, the readings whittle off as the weeks go by, and ideally it becomes less of a tedious task, and more of a nice habit.

I will be posting videos and blogs recording my experiences along the way, so stay tuned for that! 

If you clicked this link looking for something that would kick your butt into gear so you can finally start working on that passion project you've put aside for various reasons, consider this a sign to start working on it again!  While I haven't completed the course yet, you might want to consider picking up The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron: It's not really about art, per se, as it is about allowing yourself to be creative, to start that project you've always wanted to, to find good life-work balance and discover who you are so that you can best be who you are.

For those of you motivated to start a challenge yourself, I wish you the best of luck!
Stay tuned for updates about how my project is going! Let's motivate each other! 

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Tunesday: Vo La: Karol Conka

Karol Conka seems like the Portuguese M.I.A. to me, but that just might be because of the amazing neon album art. Regardless, while I might not know what this song is about, it's got a great tune and a beat that just makes me want to get up and start dancing.

As ever, if you have any songs you'd think I'd like, please post them in the comments below. I love to get song recommendations!

What do you think of this week's song? Hit even if you don't speak Portuguese or Miss?

Monday, 2 May 2016

The Coil: An amazing foreshortening technique!

Hello lovely readers. I am currently on vacation this week in sunny, sunny Ireland. I've cued up this post for you as a bit of a teaser into what my next big project is going to be.

Seriously though, I found this video to be SUPER helpful, and if you've seen it floating around Tumblr with comments like "OMG THIS WORKS!" and "GUYS LOOK! ITS AMAZING" those aren't just comments from tumblr trolls - they're serious.

Trust your eyes, guys.

I challenge you to a Journal Challenge!

Looking for a simple thing to boost your creativity? Grab a notebook and carry it around. Flop it on your desk, flip open to a blank page and let your pen do the talking. Sounds too simple to be real? Give it a week and see what happens!