Endless Reboots of an Artist’s Intention

So when you set an intention how long does it last? Mine lasts until I need chocolate, sometimes a few minutes sometimes a few seconds. When I meditate I set my intention to paying attention to my breath. That intention sometime makes it to the end of the breath. Then birds, bees, the neighbor outside my window chatting, the pipes in my house burbling, the intention lasts about as long as the second breath usually.

Like Buddha said nothing is permanent. Once the intention goes so goes the attention too flying out the window after it. To stay in one place I have to constantly reset that intention over and over again. At the end of each breath there is a pause before the next one starts a nice place to ding my moron brain and tell it to watch that next breath come in.

Now drawing comics, each panel can serve as a disturbance to whichever panel I’m working on, each background can disturb the attention on the one figure, a hand can distract from a face. It’s amazing I ever draw any comics at all because there’s so many ways to lose focus. And look over there chocolate looms to wipe everything out. And don’t get me started on what politics will do to my focus.

So how do you make a comic happen in any way shape or form. You break it down into steps. The more you analyze your own work the more steps you can find, When drawing storytelling focus on large simple shapes with a dead line in panels, when drawing a figure start with a stick figure construction move to shape a contour line drawing then value. In a crowd once you have it blocked out draw each face one at a time. Each shape value line or color you lay down set your intention to focus on the next one that is artistic right intention.

The Creators Desires

In Buddhism there’s desire and renunciation, renunciation giving up of things for a greater happiness. If we follow our desires around we only end up wanting more, how many comics do I have and how many more can I get? In drawing comics commercially the first desire was always for more work, financial success of big royalty checks, movie deals fame and fortune. These often conflict with the ideals and desires of a young revolutionary who thought I could promote world revolution with comics.

On top of this I had my own artistic interests that took me far outside what any publisher was interested in. When I went to art school I had all these mature, sophisticated cool teacher of 35 to 40 who taught the first year Illustration students, life drawing, composition and color and design. They sent us off to Soho (it had galleries once), The Met and the Modern. I went into art school thinking Barry Smiths’ Conan was the highest achievement of western civilization. Came out of art school wanting to do comics that integrated Kandinsky, Klee and Albers and life drawing into super heroes.

The mission statement was set and my destination was out in front of me. Everything since has been figuring out the path.

Stop the Brain Farts

The worldly Winds howl into the brain and start generating farts as hit it, if I’m not careful I can spend the day farting. It’s like a circle of farts as Pleasure & Pain, Praise & Blame, Gain & Loss, Fame & Disrepute bounce my head around in circles from my own behavior to all the horrible demons I have to live with.

In meditation the most common solution to any problem is to go back to paying attention to the breath, the pleasure, refreshment and wonder of the breath coming in and going out. If you stop and watch, you can develop it like a craft, sure I’ve been breathing all my life but I haven’t paid any attention to it. It really is a learned skill to notice a small physical breath and what is pleasant in the breath and what exactly is unpleasant.

Everyone assumes that if you sit down to meditate the lotus pose and a little chanting empties out your skull. It’s never worked that way for me and the thoughts just keep popping up, what happens now is I see a thought and I don’t have to chase after it like a deranged hound dog. I just go back to my breath.

Unfortunately Worldly Wind Farts can often keep stinking up the place. That’s when the next paintbrush in the craft comes out.

Desires of Comics

In considering thought Buddha broke it down into two part, the cognitive, as in here’s all the crap I know about doing comics, and in the action oriented thoughts, the intentions you create. And in all of this there’s two sides of this the thoughts one controlled by desire, ill will and harmfulness and the opposite of this Renunciation, Good will and non-harmfulness.

So what are my desires in drawing comics? Of course I want to draw “good” comics in itself a well done comics page can be fun and a pleasure to create. But obviously drawing comics should make me filthy rich and praised from the mountaintops. Hollywood should be making movies of my work and I should be hanging with the movie stars. Buddha calls this 4 of the Eight Worldly Winds, things that happen in the wold, they are all Pleasure & Pain, Praise & Blame, Gain & Loss, Fame & Disrepute. Reviewing my work I’ve seen all of these howling through my life.

So the next question is how to deal with my desire to draw comics? That’s tomorrow’s challenge.