Why Art?

I’M BACK. AND WITH GOOD REASON.

This is a very long rant in response to a question that I decided I couldn’t answer through a simple message. It would just take too long. The question was: why is art important?

I think art’s goal is, at the surface, entertainment. Maybe that’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s true. We enjoy it for our own sake. Artists, both musicians and painters, dancers and actors, do their art because there are things they would like to see, and nobody knows what they would like to read or see or hear better than they do.

And that’s where I have to go a bit past the surface. I think if I get to the heart of why I make art, it gets slightly egotistical. I like to think that I can truly change people’s minds. Seriously, I do. I act like I can make society think about itself and its wrongs if I write it as it is, showing all the faults in grisly detail. Maybe I can. I don’t really know. I mean to say that it has happened before. As I recall, one of Picasso’s works influenced the rest of the world to see the horrors of what was going on down in Austria in WW2. I like to believe I can make people walk back into reality and think about what would happen if they kept living their lives as mundanely as they do. I’d like them to question everything. And they do.

You see, the world itself is art. Can you imagine a world without anything but the absolute essentials? Perhaps it would not exist, because a universe is not really necessary. Nothing is necessary. But from the unnecessary comes beauty, and that is art. We are art. Every human being and animal and everything in existence is artwork. The universe itself is naught but God himself throwing what was not necessary into the utter blackness and making light. Why? Because why not?

Art is the foundation of society. It does not exist without it. Art is something that every single society can understand. You can understand how someone who speaks another language and lives in a completely different place was feeling just by listening to a song. You don’t even have to understand the words even if it includes it. It is the ultimate and greatest form of communication.

Yes, art is entertaining. We are entertained by books, splashes of ink on paper, like the Hunger Games. But did you know that the Hunger Games, a fictional book, is banned in some countries? Why? Because of this: art is more than just entertainment. Art is inspiration. And those countries’ governments that ban it fear that it will inspire its citizens to rebel against them. And I’ll be damned if they aren’t right. Art is a scary thing that way.

Art is motivation. Have you ever heard a song that came on at just the right time? I have. I have friends who owe their continuing existence to a song that gave them the courage to keep plodding on in this life when it didn’t seem quite so beautiful and wonderful to do so. Art is so much more than entertainment. So much more.

Art helps us to think in ways we are just not used to thinking. As Valerie Strauss said in an article on this same subject:

 “Artistic creations are born through the solving of problems. How do I turn this clay into a sculpture? How do I portray a particular emotion through dance? How will my character react in this situation? Without even realizing it kids that participate in the arts are consistently being challenged to solve problems. All this practice problem solving develops children’s skills in reasoning and understanding. This will help develop important problem-solving skills necessary for success in any career.” 

That’s from the Washington Post article “Top Ten Skills Children Learn From The Arts”. I know that’s not properly cited, but this isn’t an essay.

It isn’t just for children. Art is for all. With art comes awareness. With art comes respect. With art comes understanding. With art comes an outlet for those who otherwise would not have one.

There’s a reason the arts are called visual communication. Art is expression. Without art, we would have no ultimate purpose, no higher calling. There’s more to art than just curricular needs, although it does help with school. It helps with problem solving and creativity and working with others. But it also helps us to grow spiritually and mentally. It helps us to breach gaps that otherwise could not be breached. There are things that cannot be said in monotone. There are some stories that must be on paper, some that must be sung, and some that must be plastered with paint onto a canvas.

There’s a bigger reason that all the religious books have metaphorical pieces to them. There’s a reason Christ spoke in parables. We need more than the physical to help us learn what we cannot see, taste or touch. We need art to help us understand emotion, religion, and thoughts.

There’s so much more I would like to say, honestly; so much more I feel that needs to be included. The problem is that art really is the icing on the cake. But it’s also the cake itself. It makes it more than just a nutritional supplement. It makes it so much less boring. Like, imagine if you had to just eat supplements all day long. You’d go insane. But what if they’re nice tasting, good to look at? Then there’s something more there.

Can I explain every single reason art is so awesome? No. But you may be the reason someone decides to live another day. We hold life in your hands with that gift. Nobody ever decided to avoid suicide another day due to a math problem. But, how about a song? How about for a painting or a theater play? Yes, they have avoided it for that. You can sway nations with some words and a few chords. You can change a king’s mind with some properly placed spray-paint. People have died for the way they put ink on a page. There’s a power in art that can’t be denied, even if we can’t always explain why.

So art is powerful. That is my point. And don’t let anyone take that power away from you.

Advertisements

New Things Coming 

I don’t intend to leave WordPress, as the people here are way too fun. But I will be doing some things differently. For instance, because I am a Fine Arts student, you’ll get to see some really sweet artwork. Like this!

 

Now because not everyone was able to get the meaning of the piece, the painting that I sketched this for will look a bit different. But I loved this sketch so much that I can’t just throw it away. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it, but I’ll figure it out. 
In other news, I am excited to announce that my first planned agency for the novel I’m working with is the same that did City of Bones! The second would be the agents behind Emmanuel’s Veins. It is easily one of my favorite books of all time, if not my favorite. Never heard of it? No worries! Because that will be this month’s “Read and Review”!

New Official Art (Coming Soon)

A drawing of the Bandit Queen, Zenti, is being worked on. I only heard of it last night after a delightful evening with A. Sams (the illustrator) and her family. But those who have seen it in progress have had only good things to say about it. I also heard the hair design is a key part of it. But she won’t show it, not yet, not till it’s done! So now it’s just a matter of waiting…

Auld Lang Syne, my Dear

2014. What a year.

So as it is the last day of it, I think perhaps it is time to look back a bit, and with our last glance back remember that we have always things to look forward to.

I remember the beginning of the year for me. I was going to another Bible college before the one I go to now, up in Upstate New York. I don’t know if I would do the beginning of the year again, as it was near a lake and therefore felt like the North Pole up until April. But I learned much through it, especially when the Teen Winter Camp started.

I, like a lot of people, volunteered myself for camp counsellor. It would mean that I would be taking on a small group of teens, keeping them safe and happy during the weekends. It was the first time that I would get the chance to be a father figure for a bit. It was certainly not easy, but it had its ups as well as downs. The first weeks I was unable to do much good at all. By the end, I realized something. I enjoyed parenting. I really did! Regardless of the mental handicaps, behavioral patterns and any issues that we faced, I really enjoyed teaching them, guiding them, consoling them when upset and praising them. I even grew to appreciate the time correcting, because I knew it would guide them into becoming a better person.

And then, during that time I found something. I was finding myself to be slowly becoming more and more interested in a lady friend of mine. Apparently she and I were the only ones who saw it coming, as we were so massively different. Me, a hipster geeky, metal lover, and her, a rap-loving, baggy-clothed dreadlocked gangster chick; we seemed incompatible even as friends. And yet, two weeks into the spring semester, we found ourselves going out regularly, and eventually, after a bit of talking, were officially dating. I had known her for some time up until that point, but to be actually dating the person you want to be? That’s a very surreal feeling.

And as quickly as it began, summer came and we had to make a decision now that our paths were separating. Would we continue as before, or would we have to go our separate ways? There was always long-distance, but still…
In the end, we decided splitting up for a while was the best option. And maybe that will return, who knows.

So came summer, and once again I decided to counsel at a youth camp. I hoped that I would get teens again. Apparently I was good with them, or so I thought. And yet as fate would have it, I found myself counseling children not much older than my own nieces and nephews, ages from five to twelve. I was terrified, and thought for a surety that I could not handle them.

And through that I learned something, too. I learned that parents don’t work just on occasion, they work all day, every hour, even in their sleep they are working. I would find myself comforting kids who were missing their parents, singing to kids who needed it, sitting down next to kids who just needed someone to talk to. It’s a beautiful thing, to take care of a child, I think. I can never underestimate the work parents do again, because it is incredibly hard. But it is also incredibly rewarding, and I would do it over and over again if I had the chance.

I learned a lot that summer. I gained friends that I will always remember, a man who I consider equal with my own brothers, and life lessons I will never forget. Most importantly, I gained wisdom that will stay with me for the rest of my life. You age a lot when you’re raising up the next generation for eight weeks straight.

Then came the end of summer. I would have to say goodbye to friends that I had for so long, and find new ones. I would be going into a place so much unlike what I had experienced before. I would be going from a very little known school to a massive one, Liberty University. I remember walking into the cafeteria and thinking, “Gosh, there’s more people here than live in my own hometown. How am I going to meet anyone?”

So I sat down next to a random person, and found out something. I’m not good at making starting conversations at all.

Weren’t expecting that one, were you? Some kind of sappy thing like I was putting before? Hah! Nice try, ain’t gonna happen!

But I kept trying anyway, and now I’m friends with like a quarter of the school. Basically if I’ve talked with you for about ten minutes you’ll find a Facebook request from me. I’m just that kind of person. With college came meeting new friends, cosplaying for the first time (Jack Skellington, since I’m incredibly and increasingly skinny), my everlasting hatred of finals week, and a very short dating period with someone who was already dating someone else.

And to end this brief tale of college, I must talk about the one thing that returned, which is the return of writing my novel Dark Soldier. While I was working on school things, I found out that I truly enjoy writing more than I enjoy my artwork. For me, it was probably the most unusual find of the year. Until that point artwork was my life and my joy and pride. But I came to find that as good as I was, I did it far more often because I was good at it than that I actually enjoyed it. And so now, I pursue things that I enjoy, not that I’m good at. I think life is better that way.

I think this is going to be the beginning of possibly the most epic journey of life I have ever had. And to think, in only a year and a half I’ll be out of college and heading out to find what my life work will be. It’s probably going to be finishing my novel the Soldier Chronicles, Dark Soldier being the first book of the series. Thanks to writing, I’ve gotten tons of friends and fans, in real life as well as online. I’ve gotten a blog, which I love writing for, a Twitter, which I never thought I would get, and over five hundred fans on Facebook! That’s mind-blowing to me. I never thought I would reach such a point. And so, with how much you blessed me, I want to bless you. So I present, my musical end to the year, Auld Lang Syne. Just follow the link, and you find me doing an instrumental cover of my favorite Scottish folk song. I have very fond memories associated with it.

I have so much to be thankful for this year, and with all the heartbreak and devastation and hard work I still wouldn’t trade this year for the world, not a single day.

God bless every single of you wonderful people.

On the Prowl Again!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve made a blog, so I figured I should get back into the swing of things and let you all know what’s happening.

Basically, since you’ve been gone I’ve gone to the liberty of editing the book even more-so than it was before! It is now at 399 pages (a travesty for a person with slight OCD, but I have no important things to add and so I will try not worry about it). There’s a lot more character interaction in this version, grittier themes and even more epic fight scenes. Less gore, more grit is how my mind works. Although the old version simply touched on the themes of the destiny, this one also adds the themes of humanity, war, family, morality, and whether or not a person is really inherently good.

Also, since I last posted, the very first hint at character looks is shown in the art for Chapter 4.
Ch4painted
I personally love Annika’s work. She’s a champ. I can’t wait to see her continued work, as she plans to do some work for each chapter. Amazing!

Also, because I could, I added some more depth to the hinted love triangle that was already there. I’ve just plain had fun with it, because why shouldn’t I? My favorite part as to now has been the two characters in the book, Luc and Roach. Roach is pronounced Roak, but I didn’t like the “k” look so I switched it to something that I thought looked better. Then I realized what that spelled, and for comedy kept it. As both characters have deep accents, I will admit what they are based on: Scottish. I happen to have a deep love for Scotland, as everyone from my mother’s side is at least part scottish. I’m a fourth-generation American, and one of my oldest family apparently still remembers the boat ride. This boggles my mind, and so in order to make my extended family proud, I put some people in there who sound Scottish. Also, it’s just fun to write for.

However, I am a busy man and just am not in the mood to do a heavily long and detailed speech regarding everything that’s happened, so I will let the work speak for itself. Please observe a certain scene, which I will remove spoilers for and add things to help with context. Also realize that I cannot display some names because I switch constantly between evil and good characters. I don’t want you all to know who goes bad and who doesn’t just yet.

“Whit’s aw thes?” He asked with a drunken slur. He then saw ******* and his eyes widened. “One ‘e you!” he bellowed, grabbing the sword that was resting on his hip and rushing toward *******.
He put his hand out and a blast of air flew towards him. To his surprise, Roach dodged to the left and continued rushing at him. *******’s eyes widened. He continued shooting blasts of air at him as Roach swaggered out of the way drunkenly, hiccupping between dodges occasionally. ******* let out one giant wide-ranged blast [of wind magic], hurling Roach into the house and also knocking the house over.
As the dust cleared, he saw Roach’s brother sat in the rubble next to a table. He took a cup off the table and took a sip. The table and chair he was sitting on crumbled. He looked at ******* angrily as he stood up and took another sip.
“Whit is thes, ye comin’ ower an’ knockin’ mah hoose doon loch ‘at? Bludy rude, e’en fur a monster.” He picked up a sword from the rubble and threw the cup over his shoulder. “Ye need some ‘elp Roach?”
Roach hiccupped. “Ah dornt need yer help, Luc! i’ve got thes! It’s jist one ‘o ‘em!”
Roach’s brother joined Roach and also ran toward *******, but taking a route with the clear intention of coming behind him.

And so, now that that’s all over, I will admit that I am on the prowl for an editor. I don’t know who it will be yet, but as a college kid, it’s hard to find time to do it myself. But I’m happy to have someone else giving it a try, someone a little more professional and who has a fresh look on it.

Adios, my dark friends, keep on following and viewing!

Full Steampunk Ahead

For those who were unaware, I’m a steampunkaholic. Yes, that’s correct, I’m coming out of the steam-filled, clockwork-powered sky pirate’s closet of aviator goggles. I’ve always been a fan of antiques and scifi, meaning I like futuristic things like mecha robots and laser cannons along with antique things such as top hats, steam trains, civil war cannons and 19th century upper-class dress. Mixing future and past is therefore one of my favorite things in the world. This is probably why I make so many steampunk-style things in the series I’m writing, The Soldier Chronicles, coming 2016. Expect bronze robots, steam trains, top hats, elves with top hats, elves with Civil War-era pistols, that sort of thing.

But as a introverted college student, I have come to notice something. I personally enjoy sitting alone. It’s not that I don’t like people, although depending on the people I probably won’t. It really all boils down to me not enjoying somebody judging my capability to ingest delectables. I don’t mind it so much with people that I already know. However, those that I don’t know, they’re just not going to catch me doing something, at least probably not, especially when I’m actually hungry and not just eating for social interaction.

Anyway, the point of the matter is that at this college it seems like nobody wants to sit in a group. They must all scatter within groups of two to each table to make absolutely sure that those that want to sit alone or with another friend cannot do so without interrupting their personal space. Not that I’m bitter, mind you, I’m just perplexed at this phenomenon. So there I am, at lunch, drink in hand, trying to find someplace to sit. There is literally no place to sit that there is not someone there already. I could feel the judging glares down my skull asking me “why don’t you have some large variety of friends or ability to socialize that you can’t sit anywhere?” I didn’t actually feel the judgment, but it felt like I felt the judgment, if that means anything. It took me a while of cruising, probably about five minutes, although it felt like forty. Eventually, I did find someone from my own dorm, an awesome dude who rocks his shortness. I swear he is a real-life Tolkien-age dwarf, due to his height and beard. Although, he doesn’t eat very much at all, so he’s not quite at Gimli status.

I have come to realize that I have not posted any artwork of any sort. I will fix that problem immediately. Here is Cyberland from quite a while ago:

cyberland_by_darkgabriel23-d67ufpl

There we are. Problem solved. Now you may all bask in the sheer awesomeness of a weird-as-heck cybertech robot breathing out a Utopian city.

I have come to feel like there is not quite enough in this post, so I am adding one more paragraph full of crazy sorts of things. I am unsure of what those are going to be up until this point, but give it time. Eventually I will realize that I wish to make some sort of comment on the current problem of some sort in our current society that nobody cares about at all. I think that seems to be the Christian Goth community. You were probably not aware that there is such a thing. However, it totally is, and for some time I would have considered myself part of it, and still partially do, although I am not quite so high-flung as to be wearing black on all occasions and parting my neon-dyed hair over one eye. (I am not saying I actually have neon-dyed hair. It is a hypothetical suggestion.) The reason they are referred to as Christian goths is their intense love for all things dark and disturbing. How, one might ask, can one fall in love with things that are sinful and continue to call yourself Christian? I do not think we really love death as much as one imagines, it is merely the things associated with death. For instance, skeletons are considered to be something most Christians would not enjoy, because it is a reminder of our sinful nature and the causes of it. Why so? I find that skulls and skeletons hold our bodies together. They are very much a symbol for if not the living, then the thing that once was. We should appreciate them more. I see the same with things like bats, blood, darkness. All are created by God, and he would not have made them if he did not also find them beautiful.

That is all. Have an odd and wonderful week!