Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Shirt

Here is The Shirt.
The Shirt is not just a version of a sketch book, it is a bit of a diary of my 20's. There are things that I actually remember from the time, just looking at the individual doodles. And there are things that I am able to interpret now, kinda like examining a weird dream.

There are various themes that reoccur. Voyeurism being a prominent one. Eyes peering, sometimes direct, sometimes peeking from behind a hand or other object. I suppose I am both watching and, in my head anyway, being watched, therefore uncomfortable in my skin.  That whimsical uncomfortableness occurs a lot throughout, seen best through the facial expressions of most of the monsters. They all make a sort of deer in headlights look. And they seem to not really know what's going on. I felt that way a lot then, and occasionally do now as well. I am approaching my 40th birthday this year and while I know I'm older & wiser, I still harbor a lot of who I was then.

The weekend I drew the scorpion (center, just off the pocket) was when the birth of the name Doodle Babble occurred. It wasn't long after I turned 25 & I was visiting a friend for the weekend while he was away at college. He had to work during the days so I sat, doodled & wrote bad 'boy who hurt me' poetry. It was in one of those crappy poems, the term Doodle Babble was first used. I remember this because I rarely draw stuff I see, and in that day sitting alone in my friend's trailer, watching 'the bug channel'... and I was creatively stuck. I felt I had no excuse not to draw but nothing was happening. Being bored of the terrible poetry, I decided to draw that scorpion simply because I saw one on TV.

Original drawing of the Beach Scene below - The Shirt: Left sleeve
Doodle Babble comes from my subconscious. As I created The Shirt, when existing lines didn't spark new lines, I would deliberately smear ink smudges on the blank areas of the fabric to inspire myself to make something out of the supposed mistakes. Making something from nothing and without a plan. Sometimes I could simply stare at the blank fibers and see lines, shapes or paths I'd want to draw. As I'd draw, tangible objects would emerge. Figures like monsters, aliens, plant-like doo-dads. Sometimes a scene would emerge.

I've started to make a few of The Shirt drawings into actual paintings.
The Beach Scene - Oil on canvas


I took a couple of oil painting classes at the Art Institute of Chicago as non-credit a few years ago. I wasn't sure what from The Shirt I'd paint but I wanted to do something. I chose the Beach Scene because of the cute weirdness of it. Other than using some smudges to create these little characters, I don't remember actually drawing this scene on the shirt. I can't remember when, why, where, anything about it's creation. I like it though. And so does my sister. She said she wanted it so it hangs in her home.

Shame, did not originate on the shirt but I copied her there from one of my small scrap paper sketches. She was inspired by my first long-term boyfriend of whom I cheated on & the first boyfriend who dumped me. He dumped me because he didn't love me anymore. I cheated on him because I didn't think he cared much about me anyway. I always felt like he thought he could do better, cheating on him helped to prove that right. I wanted ownership in the failure, I couldn't bear simply being unlovable.
Shame - Acrylic on canvas
She became a painting not long before my 25th birthday. It was a new boy who inspired me to put her to paint. I had my first corporate job & a hard crush on a coworker. He simply paid attention to me. And he was artistic & aloof. I wanted to be around him as much as possible, I wanted to be like him. He was an active actor & musician. I should be an active artist then. So, I painted. I was ashamed of my crush. Everyday I went to work with a knot in my gut. Then there she was... My Shame. Nearly a year later that crush got used to me hanging around & told me he wanted me to be his girlfriend. For his birthday, I gave him this painting as well as another one because he was the one to inspire me to paint them. A huge slight to the man who inspired the original sketch, but I was trying desperately to move forward. He reluctantly accepted the gift under the condition that if I ever felt I needed the paintings back, I could have them. He broke up with me about 6 weeks later, right before my 26th birthday. I asked for them both back a couple of years later. I felt he didn't deserve them anymore & probably never deserved them & he should have been honest with me from the start. I had hoped to stay friends at least & it turns out he was a shitty friend too. Shame on me. Now my Shame is with me where she belongs.

The Shirt continues to be an inspiration for future projects for me. I have another oil painting sitting around waiting to be worked on. I started it in 2001. Life just keeps getting in the way of my art!