Skip to main content

Blogging in a Pandemic

Graphite drawing of view from my 9th floor Chicago apartment

Given that I've been working from home for the last seven weeks, and only paid a brief visit to my studio dressed in mask and latex gloves to pick up more drawing materials, you would think I would have plenty time on my hands to write blog posts. Not just one blog post, but many more than my recent average, which has been more or less one post per week. But for some reason, I have found it rather difficult to summon up the will to write much. I've tried to make small paintings each day, or to draw for an hour, but not much more than that. I can't be the only person who has felt this strange inertia during a lockdown. Why is that, I wonder?

There are no doubt many reasons, many causes, for this. One that springs to mind is that I'm resisting making the adjustment to this new working pattern for writing or making art, even though I've made the adjustment for the freelance work that (thankfully) I am able to complete from home. I could blame the lack of space in the apartment that my wife and I inhabit, but that's only partially a reason. And I am getting on and doing things that aren't blogging. As I just said, freelance work is easy enough with a high speed internet connection, Zoom for online meetings, and so on. I am arranging an online artist' books class via an art center I work for, and that is a good and interesting challenge. And I am creating small pieces of art, such as the drawing above and this ink and crayon drawing:


But I've let more than a month pass by without adding anything to my blog, despite the reminders I see in my Google calendar. Is it that I don't get enough page views? That has never been a concern for me, as I have always treated the blog as a daily journal, a way to keep a record of my thoughts and actions that I can look back on much later, just like a traditional paper journal or diary, a means of charting my individual progression (or lack of it) over time. Is it that I feel I haven't had anything to say? That's partly it, consumed as I am, as I think many of us are, by the daily totals of people infected, people dying, politicians failing in their duty to protect and serve.

Here's one thing I remember from the many blogging classes that I taught: if you feel you can't do a blog post, there are a few suggestions to get past the block:
  • Take a break and come back to it.
  • Keep a doc file with a list of ideas that you can select from when you get the urge.
  • Finally, at some point, just grit your teeth and force yourself to write something.
So I finally took my own advice from point three. Through gritted teeth, and with gradually relaxing fingers, I'm recording something in my blog. If you are reading this either on the blog itself or on another social media outlet, please feel free to tell me what you are doing to keep creating something, and/or the difficulties you find in sustaining your thoughts or your practice.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A List of Every Drink in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises"

I first read Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" when I was a teenager, and immediately fell in love with it. For the last couple of years, I have had the incredible privilege of teaching a class based around Hemingway in Paris -- while living and teaching in Paris itself, close to the Boulevard du Montparnasse, where most of the action of the novel's first half takes place.

Of the many things that one notices about the book, the colossal amount of drinking is something that stands out. These people didn't just drink like fish: they drank like whales, as if the ocean they swam in was alcohol and they had set themselves the task of drinking the seas of the world dry of it. During my read-through of the book before class started last year, I tried to underline every mention of drink in the book. And now, purely in the interests of science, I am listing the entire menu of booze mentioned directly by name. Some preliminary observations:
Most of this is…

How to etch a linoleum block

Linoleum as a material for printmaking has been used for nearly a hundred years now. Normally, you cut an image out using special gouges similar to woodcut tools, cutting away the lino around the image you want to print. This is called relief printmaking, because if you look at the block from the side, the material that remains stands up in relief from the backing material. You then roll ink with a brayer over the surface of the block, place paper over it, and either print by hand or run it through a press. You can do complex things this way (for example, reduction linocuts), but the beauty of the process is that it is quick, simple, and direct.


A few years ago, I saw some prints that were classified as coming from etched linoleum blocks, and I loved the textures I saw in them. In the last few months, I've been trying to use this technique in my own studio, learning about it as one does these days from websites and YouTube videos. I've also had email exchanges with several pr…

Brancusi in Plastic

Artist Mary Ellen Croteau is showing these columns made from recycled plastic cartons and lids in the window of the Columbia College bookstore on Michigan Avenue. They are a playful homage to Brancusi's "Endless Columns", with a serious environmental message for our times:

Mary Ellen also runs a wonderful experimental art gallery in a window space in west Chicago, called Art on Armitage. I will be exhibiting a mixed media piece there during August 2012.