14 December 2013

The "shuttle" job and the season.

Time for another rant... Not attractive.  I'll try to make it funny.

It's been a rough December. I'm keeping all the fires burning by updating my computer graphics skills through unemployment grants (not nearly enough time or $$ but I love Concept art and Photoshop now) , trying to bolster my plan B which is becoming a paralegal (One more semester) and, oh yes,  painting. I'm the busiest unemployed person you'll meet. Why so much, well,  you never know. People say you have to be ready when opportunity knocks -or luck strikes- either way. Also, you are supposed to create your own opportunities and cultivate your talents and what not....

What, you don't believe I might become a paralegal? Perish the thought! Here I am on a field trip  of the Phi Alpha Delta paralegal fraternity to the Richard H. Chambers 9th Circuit Apellate Court in Pasadena  posing  with judge Paul J. Watford in his chambers and looking at the view from his window instead of the camera. I asked if I could paint from there, he said no, politely.

Don't you just hate bumper sticker advice. I think they complicate things actually. I hate bumper  sticker "wisdom". One favorite..."Follow your passion".  Should come with a warning, flashing lights and a picture of ALL of those who did and are strewn in that path to their passions. It's grim.  Have you noticed only successful people quote that every chance they get?

Food for thought 1) May be your passion is what you learn to be good at. It s not handed to you, it is something you discover you can do well. And then, it becomes your passion, not the other way around.

So I am busy as hell but the most relevant realization came to me through my very depressing search for jobs. In the form of an epiphany. One uttered by Sylvia, a friendly face in the unemployment office.  Epiphany comes from the Greek "manifestation".  So this Sylvia, who became  a very nice lady once Armando met her because my Armando can charm a rock into  pudding,  "manifested to me"  that I was using my former job to support my painting like the Boeing carried the Shuttle to Los Angeles. So while painting looked like a "hobby" because it wasn't the main money producing enterprise, it really was what I was aiming  to protect. Even if it meant being miserable at work. 

See, I don't see me doing anything but painting so it's hard to gather up the enthusiasm to keep sending resume after resume. My former job looks so remote now . It's quite unsettling because to make things worse  I was cursed with a fabulous job with some very special attributes, people that bordered genius  and made you feel inept all the time  and good money. How do you follow that up? Still, it was just holding the metaphorical shuttle. It was a"shuttle job". Plain as day.

Food for thought 2) Being fulfilled in your job is quite a new concept. People didn't use to be able to afford to think in those terms. If your job makes you unhappy you probably suck at it, seriously. If you were good at it, you would be passionate about it. So either it is supporting something else  that makes you happy or you can quit now and get to be good at something else.

 People stop in the street and say "Oh, what a blessing to have that talent. I wish I could paint. " Or something of that sort. Of course they are just trying to be nice and it is great  that they feel that way. But my answer lately goes more like snapping "I wish I had a talent to make money, then I would actually be able to paint." or " I wish I had an entrepreneurial bone in my noggin' , sir,  just one."  No one can accuse me of *not* being dramatic. But it bugs me a little that people think that someone gave me this talent and that I had a say in the matter. I cannot not paint unless forced by chains, get it?

Food for thought 3) If you truly fully believe in God and you believe that this God gave you enough talents to succeed and has a plan of some sort,  you have the advantage of that belief and neither hunger nor homelessness  nor lack of health insurance should scare you because death is not the end.  I don't believe in a God, I want as a good a life as I can get while I'm alive  and I recognize this is my disadvantage because all my risk taking is measured but I could not pretend otherwise.

So the bottom line is that I still search for  another Boeing to carry this shuttle. I'm committed to keep the shuttle flying until it can do it alone.  Or just crash. What that means is that I don't really care what job I do or how I make money as long as it s not too illegal, too unhealthy or too demeaning (even though I'll make exceptions if the money is good :)  ). There are things I'd enjoy for sure like Concept Art, Paralegal work of substance, Museum assistant, etc... but I wouldn't be opposed to cleaning toilets. I have a great respect for people that clean toilets actually. In my view, they beat hedge fund managers  at societal usefulness. If you are a hedge fund manager, relax, you can handle a slur thrown in your marbled living room.

Food for thought 4) If you pursue just one thing, you are very likely to obtain it. I think people that have this type of monorail ambition are the luckiest people.  The second group of luckiest people is the people that do not regret abandoning pursuits the moment they get boring.

What. You don't believe I'm learning Photoshop? Here is a  painting  fully generated through Photoshop.

Being the depressive type  Christmas is such a f-ed up time - excuse my French-  but it is. One good thing is Los Angeles is actually bearable this time of year. It is the best time to paint in Los Angeles right now. Sorry Minnesotans. California in general, actually. So to switch the mood a little, here are some of my favorite things I painted recently in this wonderful weather we are having.

First , San Francisco. I HAVE to go back to see the Zorn show but I was there early November and managed to paint a few pieces that sold very well to great people.

"Fillmore" 9x12 sold.

Octavia, 14"x11"
"Lyon Steps" 8x10
 I should mention Vayermo, CA next. What a great location to paint in  Autumn. None of the heat, all of the desert color. I visited it twice.

"Valyermo" 11x14

The Ballona wetlands. I went there as part of a commission. Great location with a bit of water.

Balloan Wetlands. 11x14

As an aside. some lessons learned  about commissions. Especially large ones:
1) Draft a written agreement of what you will do and what you won't and for how much.
2) The agreement should include price, deadlines, approval of preliminary work procedures, delivery date and payment arrangements.
3) Your client should know your work and know what to expect.
4) Keep your client informed at regular intervals, even if you did nothing. Keep the commission fresh.
 5) Spell out details like framing, transport, delivery,ownership of preparatory work, budget.  It will save you many headaches.

 And here are some pics of a commission that had none of that and -because of that- might or might not ever end.

"Bruin Walk" 30"x40"

Selfie with Royce Hall painting 38"x46"


 In my next post I will declare how much money I actually made from painting based on my accounting this year. 2013  I will reveal how much I sold, how much it cost me to sell and purchase materials, pay fees and  pay gallery and show percentages.  I bet you can't wait. Some might think this is tacky but how on earth are people going to come up with an art business plan -remember I said gazillions of years ago I was working on one? - if you can't put it on paper.