I miss going to the library.
I like reading; I enjoy stories, particularly meandering slice-of-life stories with a focus on interesting language and description. Getting myself to be able to sit down and focus has, in the past, been a real hindrance to actually getting any reading done, but when I get into a reading “groove,” I will knock out book after book, until some bump in my schedule disrupts it again and returns me to square one.
It’s the complete reset that’s the most frustrating. It happens with all my habits, and is apparently incredibly common in people with various neurodivergences, so thanks for that, brain. Love you, mean it.
But putting all that aside, it was the actual act of going to the library that I really miss. I enjoyed the quiet moments among the stacks of books, picking up and flipping through the new fiction, reading dust jackets, picking out books for hugely divergent reasons each week (one week it might be a new book by a favorite author; the next, a genre I had never read; the following week, a book with a cover I found beautiful, etc). I miss the moments of silence and respite when my wife brought our son down to the children’s room to give me a chance to browse, and I miss joining them with my stack of selections afterwards, wandering through the aisles of the children’s room myself and choosing more books to add to the one’s my wife and son had already picked out.
It’s one of several habits that I really should pick up again. Covid derailed it for a long time, but with all of us back at work and school, and the libraries open again, it hardly seems like any greater risk than any of the rest of our lives.
And it gave me that respite. Those few moments of peace.
And I could certainly do with more moments of peace.
I’ve been very interested in doing “serial art” lately, creating pieces that either fit together purposefully and thematically, or tell a somewhat cohesive (if vague) narrative. I had the Seasons series that I completed back in January (Still pending clean up! Ha ha, I’m a dumpster fire of a person, I swear), and I just recently completed the first in what I hope will be three for another series. I didn’t initially conceive it as part of a series – I didn’t initially conceive of it as anything, if I’m being honest. I was trying to do something miles different, but then when I found this particular reference image (via AdorkaStock; I will link both my drawing and the reference image at the end of this post), I was just moved to try something else.
The image is the result of a search I did for, I think, “despair” or something along those lines; I was trying to find images for yet another series I was idly thinking about, but when I actually saw this pose, all I could think of was a woman washing her hair. I don’t know why, but that sort of became the focal point, and everything else developed around it. But about halfway through painting it, I started mapping out grand plans for two more pieces as companions to it. I’m in love with the end result of this particular piece, but since finishing it, I’ve given three attempts at starting my follow-up, and they have all been disastrous. I am not giving up – I have learned that one day’s “disasterous” is another day’s “completely salvageable,” is yet another day’s “I can totally work with this!” – but it’s always slightly disheartening to hit such a (seemingly) large roadblock just days after what, for you, was a massive success.
Part of it may also be that I’m just not finding a reference image that is the whole of what I want – and, I mean, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and as an artist I need to practice drawing from various sources in order to compose a cohesive whole. But because this drawing, as I have conceived of it, has three figures all interacting, it’s much more difficult for me to mentally manipulate any given image to account for the way another figure might act upon it, if that makes sense? A more experienced artist might be able to, but it’s something still well beyond my ability. One of the three figures is more solitary – it doesn’t directly involve itself with the other two, it’s more standoffish – so I could easily source a third party reference for that particular figure, but it looks more and more that I might have to take my own reference photo for the remaining two-thirds. That may be a task for winter break.
I hope all of you are finding ways to stay motivated, creative, and safe.