February 25, 2012


One frustrating part of art education are the tacit assumptions made about the way art should be made. Now, these assumptions should not be gotten rid of. Rather, I mean they are frustrating in the sense that they provide a resistance which helps artists grow strong. One such assumption I encountered early on was the idea that the artist should draw what he sees. Well, I found that, even when looking at art, I did not see what was in front of me. Instead, an imaginary image would captivate me. These images seemed to arise in response to what I was observing, though they seemed to have only indirect, analogous relationships to the real world. Often, rather than a static image, I would see a film of sorts, or hear a sound, or experience the sensation of motion or time. So, I realized early that my perceptions didn't line up with those of other people, even of other artists. My imagination overruled my direct experience of the outer world, brining an inherent subjectivism that was profoundly personal to my practice.

Over time, I learned that psychology called this quality of internal subjectivism introversion. Rather than implying an attitude of meekness or shyness, this attitude meant that inspiration came from my response to the world rather than the world itself. It's obvious that our culture at the moment favors extroversion - the rise of facebook, twitter, and blogging along with our economic emphasis on services leaves few of us with any true private life. Immediately, I realized I would be breaking with social norms.

But, a deep sense of individuality inspired me to resist conformity and find out for myself the extent of my potential. I resolved to have a profound and lasting affect on the world around me. Of course, this influence would not come from direct social interaction. Instead, I found that by sharing my internal reactions externally through visual art, I could connect with others in a very deep way. This shared humanity has brought me much joy and has given me courage again and again to assert my individuality within a culture that, often unknowingly, prefers homogeneity.

September 25, 2011

Still at it!

It's been a few months since my last post, but I'm happy to say that I've kept off the weight I lost earlier this year (despite a family vacation that involved baby back ribs a great selection of micro-brew beer).

I've found a second wind with an increasingly motivating vinyasa yoga practice. Often with distance running, I found my workouts to be somewhat punishing - the long miles left me feeling energized but very hungry and sore. At the end of each run, I felt entitled to overindulge. Not that any of this is running's fault (it's me, not you), but more that I found it easy to slip into auto pilot.

With yoga, the vast amount of technical details, fellow practitioners, and inspired writings help keep me engaged. Strangely, I've found that I don't miss the more intense cardio one bit. While yoga seemed too subtle at first to produce results, I soon learned that a practice can be as hard and grueling as one requires, producing results pretty quickly. It's only been a month, but I feel stronger, notice more definition all over, and even stand taller! (I started at 6' 3", but I swear I've grown half an inch).

My current routine involves rising at 7 am and practicing for an hour. I don't follow a video, but just put on Pandora and go to it. This required memorizing the sannas and connecting vinyasas, but that process was actually very interesting. Since yoga classes are pretty expensive (around eighteen bucks a pop), cultivating my home practice was key for me to feel that what I was doing was worthwhile. I do go to class once a week for a refresher, and International Orange in SF is my favorite (partly because its in walking distance of my apartment). My home routine includes 5 basic sections:

1. Sun salutations (see http://youtu.be/eGXgoW70IB0)
2. Standing poses
3. Abs
4. Backbends
5. Relaxation & Meditation

At the end of the day though, calorie deficit is what leads to weight loss. My buddy Mike turned me on to http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ which has proven to be very helpful (my username is matthewatabet, feel free to add me!). While the actual calorie counts seem a bit off (the whole thing seems skewed towards low-carb, high cardio lifestyles) I found that simply recording what I eat is a great way to cultivate awareness and hedge off unwanted snacking.