A-to-Z Challenge, Day 1: After Hours

NB: Hi all, posting this late because the chaos never ends — I tested positive for COVID yesterday, and this morning my son was running a 102° fever, so while he is still testing negative, he likely has it as well. We are all okay, but my normally low energy levels are currently nil, so forgive my slowness or potential lateness for the next week or so.

Last year for A-to-Z, I chose to do a quick — as in, a five to ten minutes — sketch of a scene based on three randomly generated words, and then I would pick a few to more fully flesh out at the end of the month. I managed twenty of the thirty days, and fully rendered two of my sketches, both of which look awfully amateurish now, but were, at the time, some of my prides of work. I’m doing something, hmm, similar in spirit this month.

With the help of the Aesthetic Wiki, I’m choosing an aesthetic for every letter of the alphabet, and (in writing) conceptualizing a piece that I can render when the challenge is over.

Will I fully flesh out every single one? No, not likely. Maybe I’ll run a poll for the top five? Who knows. It’s still early.

Anyway, without further delay, today’s aesthetic is: After Hours.

From the Aesthetics Wiki:

After Hours is an aesthetic inspired by the feelings and impressions of seeing a usually populated setting empty at night. After Hours isn’t defined in terms of media, but instead, the feelings that can emit from being at these places in person. Places that can come under this aesthetic are not limited to physical places. Places online such as abandoned blogs, empty game servers, and inactive websites can elicit similar feelings.

I absolutely love the After Hours aesthetic. I grew up outside of Boston, and reading about After Hours calls to mind so many October nights in the city; our fingers cold and numb, the streets shimmering with rain, golden halos around every streetlamp, cutting through back alleys to light cigarettes out of the wind, the slow winding down of the city at night, never fully deserted, but so, so…muted.

It reminds me of leaving every city bar, and how loud our drunken laughter seemed suddenly out on the empty street. Every subway car at 1 am, how the lighting out the Red Line made everything seem just slightly unreal. It reminds me of the burned out remains of the old churches in my hometown, climbing through chainlink fences at dusk, drinking beers on the hood of a car on an empty beach in the absolute hush of the moments just before sunset.

It reminds me of my 20s. Ah, God.

I know it’s not an inherent part of the aesthetic, but for me, I cannot separate this aesthetic from rainy nights. The city was always the quietest in the rain, people seeking refuge in bars, or taxi headed home; and the unreality was always enhanced by the mist casting halos around the streetlights, the pavement slicked red and green by traffic lights directing sparse or non-existant cars.

I’m thinking a couple — maybe a threesome, but, ha, I’m not that great at drawing multiple figures yet, as we’ve established — a couple huddled under an umbrella, looking worse fo wear, slightly wet and disheveled. One has a cigarette pursed between their lips, eyes half lidded with alcohol, face relaxed and happy even in the half dark. The other is lighting their cigarettes, both their faces illuminated in a warm orange from the lighter, the world behind them dark, but studded with points of light — traffic lights, the far of glint of headlights, streetlights, the neon glow of bars moments before last call. The palate would be muted with almost flourescent accents (and would give me the excuse to practice drawing rain, which… is gonna be a trip, I’m sure.

Runner-up for today’s aesthetic (and there will be a few of these as the month goes on), was Auroracore:

“Auroracore, also known as Ethereal Fantasy, revolves around the concept of otherworldly magic and is heavily inspired by fantasy media created for young girls. This genre focuses on the concept of magic being tied to the soul and the artistic interpretation of that feeling. It is dream-like, surreal, magical, otherworldly, and pure. It is the brightest, most colorful light that luminates hope in a dark world.”

I opted to not do this one because there are some heavily related aesthetics that I will be covering later this month, but I will say, it was tempted. The example art on the Wiki page is gorgeous.

Hope all is well. Looking forward to seeing what else this month brings. Remember to rest and stay hydrated. Take care.

1 Comment

  1. That’s a beautiful aesthetic, I hope you and your son are feeling better 💚🍀


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