The Brooklyn Art Library in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is home to The Sketchbook Project, a massive enterprise founded by Steven Peterman in 2006. The library now houses over 41,000 sketchbooks by 30,000 different people from 130 countries, and I can count one of mine among the horde. I finally visited the library with my family on Christmas Eve Day in 2017, sick as a dog, and took a look at the sketchbook I'd sent to them back in 2011 (they are *actually* small notebooks, but needless to say they'd never have room to store 41,000 full-size sketchbooks. Nor would people be willing to fill them).
When I submitted to participate in The Sketchbook Project in 2011, I was given the theme "It's Raining Cats and Dogs" to work with. I remember being disappointed with this—I was hot n' heavy into collage at the time, and I would have preferred free rein. I'M AN AWTIST.
Anyhoo, I eventually found some cats and dogs to cut up, and the following is the result. They're pretty simple, but some of them still make me laugh (it starts and ends with front and back covers).
If you are in Brooklyn, you should check it out. You can search for specific sketchbooks, or just withdraw a random selection to peruse. You never know what you might find!
Not to bore you too much with this meditation business (see "My Chattering Brain" from last month), but a couple of responses to what I wrote suggest I should clarify a couple of things. Both people expressed that they weren't sure "what would be left of them" without their chattering brains. First of all, you will always have your chattering brain—no need to worry about that! I'm lucky if I can keep mine quiet for 30 seconds at a stretch. Plus you wouldn't want to lose any part of your brain, obviously... you need to be able to think. It's more a case of what part of your mind is calling the shots. I'm no expert, but this is how I understand it: on the most fundamental level, meditation helps to strengthen certain areas in the brain—and this turns out to be incredibly helpful in day-to-day life.
The responses I got also made clear that the misconceptions I once had about what meditation is, or means, are probably pretty common. That it perhaps means you have to wear orange and follow a guru, or go to wellness retreats, or be quiet all day long, or that you become a different person and have to start hanging around with different kinds of friends, or that your mind is displaced by some new, zoned-out, vacant kind of mind that no longer functions the way it used to.
NOPE! As I wrote to one friend, "I guess I assumed that meditation was some kind of muting... but it's actually a kind of enhancing. A kind of training". Which I do by myself for 10 or 15 minutes a day, and which I've found to have amazing benefits. No change of daily routine, no change of friends, no change of personality, no changing into orange clothes, no need to follow some irritating man with a long beard.That is not my "jam".
What you do is your bidness. I'm just telling you what's going on with me.
Can you see me there in the background, giving the finger? No I guess not.
My husband David sometimes takes a photo of our daily horoscope posted at the local coffee shop and texts them to me. He did this today, and my horoscope said:
Timely good news. This edition of Feed the Monster marks one year since I started, and recently I've needed to give myself some pep-talks about why I should continue. If the planets indicate that I should continue—well—who am I to argue? I have a DOUBLE ADVANTAGE.
Austin Kleon, a writer whose newsletter I receive each week, wrote a couple of months ago:
"All I ever wanted to do was be part of the world I loved. The world I discovered in books and art and music. I want to be part of it. I don’t care how or in what capacity."
As for the reason he writes books:
"To be part of that world that I love. To be in a chain that goes backwards and forwards, no matter how puny my link."
Yes. No matter how puny my link. You never know what small kindness might make a world of difference to someone; you never know how admitting your own vulnerabilities might allow someone else to accept their own; you never know what ripple effect you might have if you use your own voice to reveal yourself in a frank and honest manner (as best you can). I try to remind myself of this when I find myself doubting... so for the time being, my puny link continues to exist.
“Blossom", a super early foray into mixing collage and paint.
A favourite quote:
"True heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious exercise of probity and care—with no-one there to see or cheer. This is the world."
David Foster Wallace, The Pale King
The winner of this month's draw for a free print from balampman.com is Skei Elliot! Go Skei Go!