Posted on

noise pollution – what do you listen to while working?

Lately I’ve been developing a strange relationship with sound and making art. For months now, I’ve been addicted to listening to podcasts, but I suddenly can’t handle the noise.

My attention span gets scattered, and I grow anxious and find a hard time staying on task. This is something I have to figure out in order to make my studio time productive. Music has never been an important companion to me, unlike almost everyone else I know. When I do try to listen to music, it’s usually through a streaming service like Spotify, and I find the ads disruptive. What I find the most satisfying to listen to music wise is still downtempo-esque music and murder ballads. Murder ballads are songs passed around communities and through time to tell stories of local tragic crimes, mostly murders, hence the term. You’ve probably heard 1 or 2 before and didn’t realize it. Here is a link to my collection of them on Spotify.

Sometimes I force myself to work in silence, just for the contrast, or to not allow myself to be tricked into feeling like I have company through the sound of a tv show or audiobook. When I do this, I’m glad that I did. The same while driving. The quiet gives me more room for my own noisy head. Actually, silence isn’t the right word. I think I mean natural noise. The sounds of everyday life. For example, it’s hot today, but I can’t stand the sound of the air conditioner running. I shut it off and opened my windows so I could hear the city. I’d rather be sweaty than feel like I’m stuck in some sort of vibrating box. I don’t feel like a part of the rest of the world when I can’t hear it. I think I have a similar relationship to light. Real sunlight is a salve and artificial just does not cut it.

I used to listen to old time radio plays, horror and detective ones, while painting, but then moved on. I might cycle back to them, try to find some new unearthed series, specifically Australian ones. I’ve made posts in the past here where I shared some of my favorites. Here is another link to check to them out, if interested. I’ve noticed OTR has gotten a boost in popularity lately. You can find them on Audible and Spotify and probably other places as well. Looks like content providers have realized they are copyright free, and they can still make a buck or two off of sharing them.

I’ve moved on from audiobooks for the time being because of the cost and also because I was coming across too many badly narrated ones. Again, my tastes tend to the macabre, and I seemed to only listen to trashy true crime novels. They’re like documentaries but just for the ears.

Then I discovered podcasts! I’m always a little slow to catch on to the new thing(no shame, I can be crotchety). I’ve been listening to true crime podcasts for years now, but before the current explosion of new ones. I mainly listened through blogtalkradio, and specifically True Crime Radio(the websleuths associated podcast) and True Murder by Dan Zupansky. Yes, I’m linking everything. Those two have been around for a long time, in internet years, and are not formatted much like the newer popular ones. True Crime Radio was/is formatted more like an up to the minute, true crime news show. True Murder features a journalist interviewing other true crime authors about their books. These are pre-Investigation Discovery channel podcasts and sites. They were good road trip company, except maybe not at night.

I know that Serial is the pod that kicked off the recent true crime fervor, but I haven’t listened to it. I’m childishly contrary and can’t make myself give it a try. Luckily, I have many to choose from instead lately! The ones I listen to the most are The Vanished(concentrates on missing persons cases and actively trying to solve them), Thinking Sideways(true crime but also about mysteries, does a bit of debunking which I like), Generation Why, In Sight, Thin Air, In the Dark(about the Jacob Wetterling case, incredibly well done and ethical), Accused, Court Junkie(unique in that it covers more current cases and their trials), Misconduct, Queens of Crime(a little different in that it is made by women who are actual producers on true crime shows, but not so sanitized like a pod made by an actual tv network), Casefile(Australian podcast that did a phenomenal series about the original night stalker), Twisted Philly(the title says it all), The Unresolved, Murder Dictionary(not so serious and often crass, but still very funny/women led without playing on that ‘girl friends’ trope), Small Town Murder(another comedy one), Bowraville, Unconcluded, Mens Rea(Ireland specific), Judge and Jeremy and I could go on and on and on….I left many out, but lately these are my faves. Or were, when I could stand listening to podcasts.

The 2 themes I see continued in my listening habits are 1. creepy crime stuff and 2. storytelling. I guess I need a story, like at bedtime. Just not with pictures! I need to keep my eyes busy elsewhere.

If you have any favorites to share, please do. I could use the change in routine. And if you have experience this weird sound anxiety and figured a way around it, please tell me how!

Posted on

repeating shapes – letting myself work intuitively

My Intro to Sculpture class at PAFA, taught by artist Steve Nocella, was much more fulfilling than I expected. Working in 3D tends to stress me out. I don’t think my mind works that way. Or rather, I haven’t trained it to. Or maybe that’s just something I was told earlier in life that I’ve let it take root.

This is the class I also built my kaleidoscope in.

Sculpture class macaroni experiment

This first project is, you’re right, essentially pasta art! It was a funny way to start the class. The assignment was to construct something with store bought packaged goods. So, maybe to be a smart ass, I bought pasta penne, flour, paper plates, tooth picks and cupcake liners. Behold my masterpiece! I basically made the round bases with paper mache. It was a mess. It even smelled and molded before completely drying. But it being a gross mess is what made it fun. I put it together with no plan. It’s like a sci-fi cloud city. Except made out of wheat products.

This then led me to make some meteors out of paper mache, styrofoam balls and toilet paper rolls. The goal is to make objects to use in future still life paintings so that I am not beholden to glass bottles and tea kettles next semester.

papermache meteors

The photos below are fired white clay that we built into shapes as a one day shot project.

clay experiments

Repeating shapes are a lot like little anxieties that never truly go away. Going through the same motions. There are patterns to recognize. Letting myself work more intuitively is challenging but also therapeutic. I believe it might be a bit like meditation(that golden place in your mind I don’t know how to reach, at least not through sitting in the quiet or listening to guidance podcasts).

It was like doodling mindlessly. Which is something I can’t seem to do anymore. It felt very strange playing with the clay and returning to that place. It’s like I forget how to do it with a pen/pencil/paintbrush, but something in my hands still remembers.

There wasn’t time to glaze them, so I decided to embellish them with acrylic paint I have left over from years ago.

I’m glad these projects unlocked that more childish way of creating. I am hoping it will help me sketch more creatively and naturally. I assume this is a problem others have, considering there is a whole slew of Skillshare classes about creating a sketchbook practice and so on.

To me, they initially seemed corny, but now I think they are addressing a kind of creative constipation we all suffer from sometimes.