That Creative Life: Getting back on the horse!

The past  couple of weeks have been unfortunately busier than anticipated. I felt quite drained a lot of the time. My morning routine went all to shit, and I definitely felt the negative effects. My online course was wrapping up and so there were assignments and final reflections to write. At the same time, my teaching job was starting up, so I had lesson plans to create. I suddenly had a bunch of things on my plate that I didn’t want to do. I wanted to keep working on my art and my blog, but the idea of doing so felt irresponsible. I kept telling myself, just get those nagging tasks done and then you can go back to creating. The problem is, my brain is really good at telling me I should do nothing at all instead of getting my homework done. It wouldn’t be so bad if I had spent the time doing work that I loved, for fun, while procrastinating… but no, instead I just wasted time with nothingness. I don’t know about you, but when I procrastinate, because I feel the weight of my to-do list looming over me, I can’t even ENJOY the internet junk food I consume when procrastinating. I’m too stressed and flit from social media site to social media site, searching for the rush I want but am incapable of feeling. It really is a negative cycle, and one that can only be broken by actually doing the work.

Eventually, my brain will snap out of it’s frantic internet squirrel mode and begrudgingly decide that it was finally time to get this stupid work out of the way. And then, while I hated every minute of it, I would complete my homework. Part of the reason why I dread homework so much is that it always seems to take way longer than I think it will. Maybe I’m just a slow worker, I don’t know.

One of Gretchen Rubens’ Happiness Project resolutions was to “Act the way you want to feel.” She didn’t want to be tired when her daughters wanted to play at the end of a long day, so she tried to act like she was full of energy and found that, by doing so, her tanks were refilled! I’ve been experimenting with this idea, and find that while it may not work all the time to trick myself into actually liking doing work I don’t like doing, it has been able to put me in an energetic creative mood when I was otherwise “too tired” to do so before. 

Once I start doing something creative, my whole mindset improves. It took a quarter century but I’ve discovered how important having creativity in my life. A creative outlook is vital.

The important part is that you start back up. Don’t beat yourself up for stopping, or falling off the horse as it were. Remember: Day one is better than one day, after all.

What always invigorates you? What is your favourite thing to do? What do you wish you did more of? What do you “not have time for?”

TUNESDAY: “I’ll make it worth your while” by Artificial Pleasure

 

Let me out, I really wanna dance so
Let me out, I’ll make it worth your while so

This song is dedicated to anybody currently sitting in a classroom, or an office space and would rather be out enjoying the sun. Bonus dedication if you are reading this midday on a Friday and would like the weekend to start.

Since it’s the 4th of July when I’m posting this, this song is also dedicated to all you Americans. As someone who cannot look away from the daily Trump-wrecks, I bet there are a lot of Americans who just want to escape the political nightmare.  I scheduled this post in May, but hopefully by the time July 4th rolls around, a miracle might have happened and the Whitehouse might be a little less orange… Fingers crossed, reader from the future.

Also, did I mention that the vocalist sounds a lot like David Bowie? That’s pretty awesome. All of the songs I’ve heard from Artificial Pleasure have a 70s classic rock/Bowie vibe, so I’m a big fan.

Was today’s song a hit or a miss? Let me know in the comments below! Song recommendations are always welcome!

p.s. Happy belated Canada Day to all of my fellow Canadians! 150 years (give or take the many thousands of years the First Nations were on this land…)

“MAKE IT WORK” Mondays: What’s in a name?

Leslie Taylor’s Manic Neon Wasteland.

Where the hell did that mouthful come  from?

I had been reading a lot about branding, and had been interested in starting a blog for the longest time. The thing that always stopped me was the fact that you needed to define your audience. How would you describe yourself? I flip flopped. Was I trying to make a personal website, or create something for a character? Around this time I had read “Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon and he recommends just putting your work out there, because it will attract a support network of like-minded individuals who will give you constructive criticism and feedback. That sounded great. So I made this blog, bought the domain name and everything.

I wanted to find my tribe. My audience then became me. I wanted to attract people who were like me. I started writing posts that shared music I liked with the hopes that other people would like that song too.

“Okay, so, then, self,” I asked myself, “What do you like?”

“Um,” I said, “I like YouTube, and Vines, and memes, and weird things like Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, and Drag Queens…. I like things brightly coloured and fast moving and funny.”

“Fast moving… almost manic, would you say?” I prodded.

“Yes.”

“What’s your current favourite colour?” I knew the answer to this question but I asked anyway. Colour is a huge component to branding after all.

“Chartuse, almost neon green… may it never go out of fashion!” I crossed my fingers and prayed to the gods and goddesses of fast fashion.

“Okay…” Where could I go with this? I wondered. “What do you like to do for fun?” If I wanted to attract people like me, I had to figure out what I liked doing on the internet in my free time.

“I like to spend my time on tumblr looking for manic comedic content, neon and bright coloured artwork and clothing… kinda like wading through an internet wasteland!”

“I have it! The perfect name! Manic Neon Wasteland!”

This of course was a fictionalization of what really happened, but somehow I was able to distill the stuff I like on the internet to those three words. I think they’re quite fitting.

WEEKLY UPDATE: June 25 – July 1st. Busy, Busy, Busy!

This week

Day 24: I drew this at 9:30 am today, not so patiently waiting for the finale to be posted on a streaming site, while simultaneously avoiding any social media site or other possible place where I might accidentally find out who had been crowned America’s next drag superstar. I drew this without a reference because I was terrified of googling @sashavelour and having the result spoiled. So, at 9:30 am, as I said, I drew this image out of pure hope and faith that Sasha would be the seasons winner. AND I WAS RIGHT!!! AND SHE KILLED THE LIPSYNCS! Amazing! So happy! Bravo Sasha! Well deserved title. You are the perfect combination of beauty and brains, creativity and oddity. I can’t wait to see what you do next! #teamsasha
Day 26: Three-headed boxer with the winning punch!
Day 27. Drama, highlighted.
Day 28: tired.
Day 29: sweet dreams are made of this. Looking forward to sleeping in and staying home on the weekend.
Day 30: finishing off this months challenge with yet another drawing of @sashavelour She has been a huge inspiration to me since I saw her on Drag Race, blown away by her combination of intellect, oddity, kindness and pure talent! If you haven’t seen her lipsync to “No More I Love Yous” look it up right now!!


Now that a month of 30 minute drawings has come to a close, I’ve challenged myself to participate in the #sketchbooksummer challenge, where you have to fill a sketchbook in a month. I did the math: That means 3.5 double wide spreads every day. Doesn’t seem too bad. I’m looking forward to getting back to traditional mediums. It will be nice to have a moment to unplug, especially after a busy day teaching, something to quiet the mind.

This has been a crazy busy week. Too busy!

ESL camp started. There are 50 Mexican fifth graders visiting this week. All are very sweet, and OBSESSED with “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi.  Not that I can blame them… it is catchy as hell!

It’s me!
These are the team names the students gave themselves. They came up with them all by themselves with no influence from me.
I pride myself in teaching only the most vital English phrases. (But for real, they loved this game)

 

Ontario’s provincial coat of arms


We took them on a tour of Queen’s Park, Ontario’s Parliament Building. Unrelated, but check out this cool old bike light that I saw on display there!

Cool antique bike light from my home town!
Look at how it attached to the handlebars!

A close friend of mine is an event planner and he gets invited to all kinds of cool open houses. On Monday I was lucky enough to get to go with him to a hella swanky event at the new Globe and Mail building. Lots of delicious food – AND VEGAN OPTIONS! Hooray!… on reusable plates no less! (As someone trying to reduce the amount of waste she produces, I try not to use disposable plates or straws).

Gorgeous views!

The venue had no walls, which means gorgeous 360 views of the Toronto skyline. The best part, hands down, was the cocktails. My god! Strawberry-Rhubarb syrup, rum, whiskey, orange twist, ginger beer, gin from Canada’s north…. I had a little bit (read: a lot) of everything. Mmmm!

Normally there is only wine and beer at the events I go to. This line up is much, MUCH more to my liking!
Maybe I was enjoying the free cocktails a little too much? Naaw!
For entertainment they had an electric violin player, harpist and flutist playing covers of pop hits. Was pretty cool! This guy really got into it!

 

Tuesday, we took the kids bowling. I am very rusty and my wrist was not very happy about having to hurl heavy balls again and again. Am I getting old?

July 1st is the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Canadian confederacy, so there was a lot of big celebrations going on. Friday I went to see a Canadian music staple, The Barenaked Ladies. They were a huge part of my childhood soundtrack. I remember listening to the Maroon album on repeat on my CD walkman in the backseat, as I third-wheeled a date night with my mom. It was mainly to drown out Rod Stewarts “Great American Songbook” playing in the card. That was the hottest record among 50 year olds at the time. Also, funny story: One Christmas, my Oma asked my mom what I wanted for a present, and my mom said “The newest Barenaked Ladies CD.” My Oma, mortified and embarrassed, had to go into the record store and ask where she could find the Barenaked Ladies. Sorry Oma, but thanks for the CD! 

 

 

The Barenaked Ladies were fantastic! So playful and engaging, with such control of the audience; I couldn’t help but think “wow, these guys are Professional musicians.” I would definitely pay a lot of money to see them perform again! First Nation folk singer and Canadian Icon Buffy St. Marie played that night too. I’m glad I got to see her perform. The fireworks were pretty great too!

Thing I learned this week: The power of facepaint. I painted rainbows on my friend’s faces because they were going to be part of the Pride parade, and they apparently got a lot of attention, which was awesome! On Thursday, the campers went to see a Blue Jays game, and I spent the afternoon painting the Jay’s logo onto 50 children’s faces. If anyone wants a Blue Jay on their cheek, come see me. I’m an expert at this point! Finally, for Canada Day, I painted a Canadian flags on the faces of my friends, and even made new friends with a super-sweet couple by offering to paint them! Facepaint: bringing people together!

How was your week? What did you get up to? While I enjoyed my busy week, I learned that it was too much. I need more downtime! That is my goal for next week!

What am I watching? (In five words or less)

  1. Preacher, season 2
    “Best comic book TV Adaptation
  2. Fireworks!
    CN tower and City Hall”      
  3. Sasha Velour LipSyncs
    Expressive reveals YAS QUEEN!”

What am I reading? (in five words of less)

  1. Make your own luck by Kate Morross
    “Relaxed attitude to graphic design”

TUNESDAY: “Wobbly” by Ezra Furman

 

 

Genders: my friends
I’ve just been changing genders, fluidly
cause they’ll never pin me
Down in the pages
Like a bug or bumblebeeEzra Furman has a great, grated voice. He also has a fantastic “about me” blurb that I am seriously thinking about stealing:


Ezra Furman is a guy you want to know all about. That’s why when the Internet was recently invented (ca. 2008?) Ezra snapped into action and began his two-year preparation of his blog. On this blog he will include every single thought that crosses his mind, all the songs he likes, all the bands he likes, all the songs he makes up, and everything he writes including poems prose and grunts.

Basically it’s just about music and poems. Probably just music actually.”

 

See? Doesn’t that capture Manic Neon Wasteland pretty well, too? I think so! Just substitute poems for visual art, and boom!

I love the humour in his videos (see the great stop motion adventure in his “Restless Year” music video below). I am also totally happy to send some love to genderfluid artists. His band name, when not performing solo, is super cute too:  Ezra Furman and The Boy-Friends. I love it.

Was today’s song a hit or a miss? Let me know in the comments below! Song recommendations are always welcome!

“MAKE IT WORK” Mondays: Excuse me, how do I write?

Script writing. Ugh…

Finding Leslie’s voice was definitely the hardest part. I say “was” like I have found it, but I am definitely still working on it.

What was she going to say? I had no idea! Was she going to be a character, with a whole backstory, a history, a family? Did I want to commit to writing my entire blog in her voice? I don’t think I have the creative chops for that! I got some criticism about my creative writing as a child and while I know it was unwarranted, and I have since written stories that I am proud of, I still struggle with seeing myself as a writer, as someone who is capable of telling stories.

I would watch Max Headroom interviews and want to be him. My biggest influence for the show, though was Buddy Cole from Kids in the Hall. He’s always mesmerized me, even as a kid watching the show on the Comedy network (channel 44, what what!).


I wanted to create a character who gave witty monologues like that. Problem was, I’d have to write those monologues myself…

I sat down at an empty word document. It stayed empty for a long time. Who was Leslie Taylor and what exactly happened in the Manic Neon Wasteland? I asked the empty page those questions, and slowly but surely typed out the answer… and that answer will be the first video from Leslie Taylor… which will hopefully be released before pigs fly and hell freezes over. I’m working on it! 

WEEKLY UPDATE: Daily Drawing round up, Graduation, aka “How does the start of summer = The end of summer?”

Another week of drawings completed in 30 minutes or less! A colourful mix this week!

Day 17: I saw the most adorable bunnies today with very unique markings. It looks like they had eyeliner on, which of course, led to me putting two and two together, et voilà! Punk bunnies! You’re welcome 🙂
Day 17: Bus and Train edition. I will tell you this: drawing with sharpie on a bus is a very nerve-racking artistic experience!
The punk bunnies IRL
Day 19: The old orange beater. The unexpected sequel to that old farm house drawing.
Day 20: Serving up futuristic realness.
Day 21: I must remember to iron my dress for tomorrow. I must remember to iron my dress for tomorrow. I must remember.
Day 22: I graduated from my Masters program today, and as the weight of this milestone settles on me like delicately falling snow, I bring you this picture. Have a great night!?
Day 23: No Exit. Not to be confused with the Sartre play of the same name.

How was your week, dear reader? My week felt very busy, and also, unfortunately, not very productive. It was a very scattershot week.

LB and I both graduated from University this week. As a result, I ask to be addressed as Master Taylor from now on. I’ve got the piece of paper to prove it now, so why not? I hope “master” is included in the drop down menu of prefixes I can select from on online forms! LB made the Dean’s list, which means he was in the top 20th percentile, with an average of over 3.5! Talk about high distinction! I am so proud of that smartypants!

What else did I get up to… oh right, my online course finished this week! It was very strange to have to work on a seven page paper, do readings and post a response on the same day I was graduating.

This break brought the first day of summer, and my summer, ironically enough, is just coming to an end. I start teaching ESL at a summer camp on Monday, so bye bye free time, sleeping in on weekdays, staying at home doing art all day… It was nice while it lasted. I am excited about camp though. My co-workers seem great, and the camp has a very relaxed atmosphere. Little nervous about teaching grammar, but if I stay one day ahead of the kids I should be fine, right?

What am I watching? (in five words or less)

  1. Forks Over Knives
    “Plants heal, animal products kill”
  2. What the Health?
    “Diet will save your life”
  3. RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 3 – (rewatching for the umpteenth time)
    “Such a strong, talented season!”


What am I reading? (in five words or less)

  1. Shades of A, a webcomic by T A Kimpton
    “Asexual love can be complicated” (slightly NSFW)
  2. Blogging for Creatives by Robin Houghton
    “Horrible book layout, helpful tips”

I think the fact that my reading list has shrunken considerably tells you quite a lot about the state of my week! Now I’m off to watch the finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 9 so that I can go back to using the internet without fear of being spoiled.

Have a great week, everyone!