Saturday, December 19, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015...

I've released a newly-colored version of my Santa Claus comic, you can get your own softcover copy on  Amazon at The Jingle Book.

The magnificent new wraparound cover.

It's a new take on an old tale, the mythology of Santa Claus, hopefully relevant to our day and age.  Some say Santa's really just an invention of Corporate America, and there's probably some truth to that.  At the very least old "Saint Nick" got a little co-opted to make a buck.

Corporate re-structuring of Christmas is certainly at full thrust today, as a trip to any chain store like Target or Walmart will illustrate.  All the Big Boys are lined up there to deliver: Marvel, Nerf, Disney, etc. etc.  The dominance is so total that there's literally no room left for anything else.  No cracks at all; totally sewn-up,  and scientifically engineered to penetrate kids' heads.

A push-button prison.

The device or "toy" shown above is only a halfway measure to overtake natural development in a child.  Next are devices for intra-uterine use, so kids can get accustomed to pushing buttons while still in the womb.  Would you feel comfortable giving your child this gadget "at birth"?  If so, why?  To prepare them for "the workplace"?

Then there's the sheer expense, mainly the robotic "toys" that kids tire of in about two days but which cost families a sizeable chunk o' change.  I remember the robot dinosaurs from about ten years back, do you?  They're mainly forgotten in the landfills, but the profits definitely went to the Top.

You can't possibly be a good parent for less than $189.99

Lastly, we have the clear messages that corporate toys send to children.  Plenty of injuries are on record from kindergartens and elementary schools due to karate-chops inspired by Power Rangers, superheroes and violence-oriented toys.  I realize that most stories need some level of conflict to reach necessary conclusions, but in most cases I'd trust the opinions of an expert on children like Mister Rogers rather than corporations, Hollywood or the NRA.

Recommended for children age 3 and up.

It's not really complicated: showing violence as a solution presents violence as a solution. But discussing this subject publicly can naturally lead to some violent verbal arguments, harmless karate chops and nerf-shootings.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

To a Student...

The following is excerpted from correspondence from my "Guru" Art instruction program.

People live in "Seasons" you know, and the phase where we try to conquer the world does eventually pass. Then we may look back on it all more clearly.

My own experience is similar because in the beginning you want to win the war, the victory, gain the adulation, respect, acknowledgement and all that.  It is, of course, ego.  So we want the best arsenal--or toolkit--to give us an advantage.  We collect books, swipe files, go to zoos with sketchpads, and fall asleep at night wrestling with sticky drawing problems, have dreams with Famous Artists in them.

And we may choose a "Master" artist to apprentice to. There's an inherent contradiction with admiring and emulating a "master artist" all the while trying to unseat and surpass him.  It's a little like killing your parents, and seems an insoluble dilemma.

But the real truth is what artists like Picasso and Chagall discovered, and that is there are no Master artists.   More truthful is that everyone is an artist, but they are limited by their beliefs. They are in fact that: Limiting Beliefs.  But they can be transcended.

Not to make little or light of how you feel at the moment, or make the solution look too easy, too obvious or too clear.

But Art can exist for many different reasons, it can come from "the Soul", dependent on your beliefs and experiences, or it can come from the Ego.  Children and Aborigines draw from their core selves, but we make the mistake of trying to do it from our egos and intellects.  Then we have to take it all the way and hopefully come out on the other side.

Another artist who is working from his Ego is not going to help you, in fact he is only going to beat you down.

I've had students who experience tremendous anxieties, fears of failure, and minds that race nonstop in a mad-dash attempt to conquer the problem--or climb the mountain, or whatever.  When you consider how technically difficult it all is it does get a little daunting.  But it all happens a step at a time.  Racing, getting ahead of oneself, can be self-sabotage.

It's frustrating to be going at maximum effort and then fail over and over again, so in a way the answer has got to be some sort of Zen-like understanding of one's self and one's Intentions, our inner programming.

Have you wondered why drawing figures engenders a constant "failure mode" for years and years, but a child can't possibly fail to create a picture they find pleasing and satisfying?  Is their picture "better" than ours, or the other way around?

Being an artist and trying to master complex skills like Drawing and Painting is like falling off a bike over and over again, so no wonder it is terrible for morale. But there are ways around it. 

You know my Monster drawing books say you're going to make mistakes and you should encourage them, after all you're drawing monsters? 

So making mistakes is actually a good process because we have to in order to learn.  There is no other way. Feet too big?  Head too small?  Change them next time around. 

You're always going be changing and evolving, your Art too, so there never really is "a destination" you arrive at. At any given time, you are where you're meant to be. When you look at a drawing from last year, or even last week, you know you've evolved since then.  And you know you'll do better next time, and after that, after that....

But pushing too hard in the wrong areas can severely choke off progress, but we "obsessive types" like to do that.  So we may need to take a break, back off and develop a deeper understanding of what's going on, our motivations, our hopes, and what we bring to it all from our background.

One of the main reasons The Artist gets killed in people is due to their parents lack of encouragement or outright criticism.  All our later acts in life get molded by these sorts of experiences.  My Dad hated comics with a passion, right up until I got my first paycheck for drawing them. 

But you can get other aspects of yourself badly bruised and they will profoundly affect your life's trajectory, even though The Folks might have totally approved of the Art Career.  Those old wounds, patterns, or whatever, can still dictate and "pilot the vehicle" so to speak.

But what you don't need is to believe you're somehow doing something wrong.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Shock of the You...

I knew a guy once who had a "cheek tear", this was way back in grade school, he'd gotten caught with a nail some kids has stuck into a baseball bat and were swinging around.  It must be strange to get stared at your whole life because of an injury or abnormality.

No limits on limits.

Nowadays, that guy would probably get lots of comments like "great makeup job!" especially around October.  I've recently seen the face tear thing even on women, and I'm sorry for being old-fashioned, but it bothers me a little.  Add to that the billions of gallons of fake blood every Halloween, I'm beginning to lose any understanding of what's happening.  Or maybe I can figure it out here. Should I try?

It's no mistake that we live in a World loaded with Suffering, pain is everywhere, and though sometimes it's nice and sunny there's always a duality at play.  With Art, the Shock of the New tends to make the Establishment react--so they'll reflexively dub any new movements "ugly".  The ARC folks claim all Modern Art in an ugly swindle.  What do you think?

 An ugly stain from the kitchen?

Today I leafed through the new issue of "Juxtapoz" while at the local grocery store, and I suppose I am the type of person that the younger breed of shock artists are after when they break out the blood, guts and negativity--notice I didn't say "ugly".  If rotting baby corpses on pitchforks get someone some attention, then you can be sure someone will do it.  It's probably already been done, probably in the Death Metal circles.

Check out the mag--it's all status-quo revolting.

I'm not arguing that Evil doesn't or shouldn't exist, or that Art shouldn't include Pain as a subject, but rather simply to state that negativity is easy.  If you roll in something dead and go to party, then you will get noticed.  But the other thing, the opposite, which might be called "upliftment", is certainly not easy, nor is it as corny as the nego-death crowd would like to have it.

Big-Eye puppy need face tear?

So people inevitably work out their inner conflicts, and if babies on meathooks help then so be it, but I for one can't see how.  It just seems to be cheap, fast gimmick to replace talent, imagination and hard work, and supply a quick fame-fix.  And trying to avoid criticism by saying it's all "just fake" is getting to be a tired excuse.  How about just fake Nazi Concentration camps?  People with anorexia could find work there. 

Shock is a poor replacement for Talent.

Friday, May 29, 2015

A Random Episode...

Jack had moved into the neighborhood a few years back and got along relatively well with his next-door neighbor Fred initially, but after a few months found himself becoming more and more irritated by little things, his mannerisms, their gardening methods, the timbre and volume of his voice, playing their radio outside, all these things and more got stored away in a little mental folder Jack was amassing.

That library was growing constantly and became a pretty huge collection right before "The Episode". Fred had borrowed some tools a few weeks prior, and Jack asked to have them back. The innocuous way Fred answered wouldn't have caused a second thought for most people, but whereas Jack's extensive Library of History was concerned is was rude, obnoxious, and mainly--it was arrogant. It may be often said that it takes one to recognize one, but Jack's library didn't contain that info yet.

 A reasonable facsimile of the hammer.

So Jack went to his garage, picked up a hammer, and entered Fred's back yard via the alleyway gate. The shouting argument that ensued wound up with Jack smacking Fred twice in the head with the hammer. His wife ran outside in shock as Fred's two kids stared in amazement from a window. Fred died of those head injuries a few hours later in the hospital. The local media had a field day.

At a point before sentencing, Jack was interviewed by a court Psychologist. He'd expressed shock, wonderment and guilt regarding his actions against Fred, but admitted that immediately after the murder he'd felt "just fine, very calm". It was only later, several days later, that the true impact of his deed settled in.

The witnesses' window.

Fred's surviving wife and children were devastated, to say the least. Jack was given 50 years, essentially a life sentence. No one could really understand why the killing had happened, but the official diagnosis of the Psychiatrist was that Jack was "Third-Degree Bi-Polar". To some, that's an adequate explanation.

Jack discovered that the prison was full of others just like himself, people with the very same diagnosis. Some called it 3D-BPD.


In another timeline, a scientist developed a technique by which a triangulation of laser beams was used to stimulate inactive portions of the brain, thereby creating a more balanced mood and moderate behavior.  In this reality, however, people with such disorders as BPD may simply wind up incarcerated--period.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mike Hoffman Video Blog "Vlog" Debut...

I've mainly stopped writing text entries for this Blog and switched to the no-typing version, like the "Vlog" episode #3 below. So now you can quickly & easily find out what I'm up to in "real time" over on my Youtube channel. But of course you can still comment here.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Abstract Demo by Mike Hoffman 2 Handed Sharpie Intuitive Graffiti

I do a fair bit of abstract drawing & painting these days, some with both hands simultaneously (like this demo) and others with only the left. Or, novel approaches like changing the hand grip to something awkward and unusual--a stabbing fist, for example.

It's surprising how this kick-starting of unused portions of your brain affects your "regular drawing" when you go back to the patterns you know well.  I mean, after a while, like many decades, your drawing ideas, conceptually, just flow out on automatic, without thinking.  That's good for some tasks, but it's not everything.

Some call drawing like this "Meditative", and considering how it reeducates your brain wiring that's quite appropriate.

Here's another demo, accelerated, showing how the drawing approach has changed from using the left hand and R/L techniques for a while.

And you don't really have to be an artist to try this sorta stuff, I encourage everyone to grab a couple of Sharpies (I use the giant chisel points) and give it a try. And please send your results to me and we'll share 'em!