Thursday, January 28, 2016

The dream I didn't follow

Those who have known me or read this blog for longer than a year would surely know that for a long time, my plan in life was to become an architect! Now, that didn't go exactly as I had planned, and I ended up studying engineering instead. What happened? Well. I just failed the entrance exam, and was too embittered to try again. 

No... I kid. While it surely struck a sour blow, I had a whole year to recuperate from that disappointment before it was time to try again. And during those many months, I had some time to mull over what being an architect would realistically mean in my life. And those thoughts steered me away from trying again. I'm not going to delve very much deeper into that, but it was a battle between what I thought, or supposed, was my dream calling, and safety. Engineering certainly wasn't just "the safe option", that's not how I made the choice in the end, but it certainly felt like that sort of dilemma.

Anyhow, last week I had the chance to try out what my life as a student of architecture might have been like! Well, to say I had the chance might be somewhat of an exaggeration. I sort of just did it. I went and participated in a drawing class for architecture students!

Yes, we had a live nude bare-assed model in there! That was a first, and a lot of fun!

I look so happy you might think I'm now convinced I made the wrong choice in education after all. Not at all. It was the first time in I guess about two years I drew anything with coal, and on an easel. And, uh, as confident as I may have appeared, I was just simmering with negative competitive energy. And I think that's fine, competitiveness can be turned into something positive under the right circumstances, but is this art thing that suddenly made me so self-conscious and jittery really something I want to build my career around? Maybe not. It seems like a stressful life.

Don't get me wrong, I had a ton of fun, and I was genuinely beaming. But if that was my life, what was a thrilling and exciting thing would just be reduced to normalcy. There's no guarantee I would be happy in the long run. But all those negative feelings would remain, I'm sure.

Rather I just keep this a hobby, like I do. I think it might be more fulfilling for me that way, too. After all, I'm good enough at other things. I don't have to make a career out of this.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Unconventional coping


We're always encouraged to talk about problems. If there's one piece of advice that fits problems universally, it's to have a discussion with someone you trust. A wise friend, a parent, almost anyone can help you by simply being there. It's funny, I've said it a hundred times to so many different people. And it does work, I've seen it. Strength in unity. Together we seem to become more than the sum of our parts.

Through talking, we build trust. We cover common ground. It generates positive feedback. A certain degree of vulnerability is paramount to creating confidence in one-another, and that's what brings people closer. Just like you can't get good credit without ever taking a loan, you can't bind in deep friendship without giving a bit of yourself. It makes you relatable.

I'll gladly listen, but I rarely ever do the talking. It's not something that bothers me, not at all, but others have noticed. I internalize most everything. And I think that's fine.

Because most of my own troubles are a collection of social circumstances, existing uniquely between myself and some other person. How can I talk about those problems I face, without implicating another person? Therein lies the rub. Privacy and integrity are things I hold very dearly. All my troubles are not worth breaking the confidentiality of personal circumstance. What right do I have to bring something private to me and someone else to the scrutiny of others, however keenly I may feel the need for a second opinion? None, truly.

There's a fine line between processing your own social troubles and gossiping. Often, this line is walked carelessly, because the advice we so readily give each other is to talk freely. It creates an unhospitable social playing field, where everyone knows a bit too much about everyone, and no one has a clean slate. It's a typical small-town dilemma. To me, it is a revolting thought.

Privacy... For the rest of my problems, the ones singularly personal, my value in integrity would again be an obstacle. In this culture of gossip, who could I trust with my secrets? Could I trust that people understand and value the confidentiality of a discussion between two sets of eyes? In my experience, that isn't the case.

So when I encourage people to talk about their problems, what I really mean is internalise what you can, and see a shrink if there is something you can't possibly handle on your own. I realize that is unconventional advice. Perhaps you should simply have more faith in people than I do.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

It's a new year!

And what a year it was. Above all, it was filled with change. Everything changed! Many times!

First I was unemployed, fresh out of the army. In that void of activity, I once again picked up the noble art of blogging, after what had basically been a years break. I went on to find work at a cafe, which I thought was a very exciting and interesting thing for me. It was a taste of adulthood, perhaps. I left a relationship, and I found dear new friends, or rather, it were like they found me for indeed I had felt alone. Come late summer I stopped working to move hundreds of kilometres south to the Aalto campus in Otaniemi. There, a new life began and has since been taking shape. While time flies here at school, this year has felt long. 

Longer perhaps than any before it.

It's said our perception of time accelerates as we get older. It's a scary thought, it really is. But I don't necessarily believe it to be true anymore. Or, atleast, the effect hasn't been significant. When I was in the army, time passed quickly. Quicker than ever, really. The week sped rapidly towards the weekend, which seemed to last only a heartbeat. The passage of time slowed, and my time at the cafe flowed only leisurely.

Christmas went by at my parents place. It feels very strange. I've changed so much since I left home 4 years ago, but somehow I feel precisely like my old self when I'm there.

Anyhow, I bought paper for myself for christmas! A most fabulous present for oneself, I know. So the drawing above is the first one I've done on A4 size paper since back when I went to school in Vasa. I've grown to love my A5 Canson 120g/m^2 sketchbooks maybe a bit too much, but the fact is that many of my projects felt cramped on that small area. I've gone through 3 of those sketchbooks by now. They're specifically Cansons Sketch pads, at 120g/m^2. It's the paper itself, the grain is exquisite. I bought two new pads, one Canson Mix Media A4 at 200g/m^2 and one A5 Canson Drawing, at 180g/m^2 - I was suprised to find both had a weaker grain structure than the Canson pads I had been used to for so long.

Which I think is a shame. I find a rough paper texture both pleasing to draw on, and a subtle but important part of the stylistic direction of my graphite drawings. Anyhow, I had a lot of fun with this one. I used two references, a nude for the outline and rough proportions, and a picture of a goat skull.