Psychedelic-Tunnel-02-Sarcophagus-sketch-Coghill

Mysterious Corridors: Recent Drawings

I started allotting weekends for personal, non-illustration/cartooning artwork. The days fill up quickly, and I wasn’t getting to work on any of this stuff in the evenings as originally planned.

Here’s a collection of all the drawings to date. You can see more over at my personal art portfolio website. The term “visionary art” seems most appropriate to this kind of approach, so that’s what I refer to the art I create in this style as. Definitely influenced by H.R. Giger, Alex Gray and others.

Goblin

More Halloween Monster & Creature Art

More recent Halloween-themed illustration artwork I’ve been creating for my Daily Sketch practice. Be sure to follow my Coghill Cartooning blog on WordPress.com to keep up with all the Daily Sketches.

Fantasy As Control

Fantasy has a connotation of something pleasurable or desirable. But to the perfectionist, control is pleasurable and desirable. The perfectionist has externalized their ego — they have identified with their possessions, their talents, their failures and successes, the attention and approval of the hive — and thus seeks control in the external world in order to preserve self-worth. The perfectionist, in attempting to control the external world, is attempting to protect his sense of self, his ego. The perfectionist perceives it as “out there”, exposed, defenseless.

Rumination is a core tool in the perfectionist’s kit. Rumination is a distorted form of fantasy. A fantasy for those who want control over the external world. Fantasies where we can alter the past or manipulate the trajectories of present circumstances (in other to words, “the future”). Rumination always seems to take two forms: rehearsing the future, and replaying and reworking the past. The story we tell ourselves is that somehow we can analyze the past actions, and then plan perfect future actions. Only it seems we never actually seem to do this. We over-identify so deeply with the outcome that when actually in the present moment, we freeze up.

As the Stoic philosophers point out, we can only control our actions and our responses. Not circumstances, nor outcomes/consequences. Perfectionists seem to be avoiding the only situation where they actually have control: the present moment.

The fool attempts to control consequences; the wise man seeks to control his actions.

The Inertial Mind

One insight I’ve had lately regarding meditation sits (and other habits in general) is how often I’m not so motivated to sit, but once I do I find myself quickly getting into the mood, and then I do not want to stop. This then repeats for the next activity I am resistant to begin, and the cycle repeats. I then began to notice this in pretty much all aspects of my life: exercise, art, writing. The activity didn’t seem to matter, it was the shift to a new one that was the crux of the resistance.

It made me realize that the mind is an inertia machine — it prefers to keep doing whatever it is it is currently doing. Helpful or detrimental, it doesn’t seem to care or recognize the difference. The mind just prefers to keep doing what it is doing right now. The insight here is to just commit to getting started, and putting 5 minutes/reps/sentences/notes/brushstrokes/etc into action.

Perfectionist/procrastination advice of “just get started” comes to mind here, as does the idea of tiny habits and mini habits.

You don’t need much time to shift the mind over to the next thing it will get attached to, but the shift is where the struggle happens. It’s as if we have this impetuous child within, as if we do not evolve our personas but rather accumulate upon an ancient core that cannot be matured, evolved, ignored or reasoned with. We just need to understand how it functions, and find ways to work with it. The real key here is that it will never “go away”. We will never “get past” these struggles. Once we learn to accept and work constructively with these ground rules in mind, the easier it is to get past them.

It’s easy to think to yourself “I am lazy” and explain these behaviors away. But I don’t think there is any “I am” in these behaviors. I think these are artifacts of the structure of mind/brain/body. Once we realize these are impersonal, external to the self, and permanent, functional “hard wired” aspects of Mind, we can stop identifying with them and start looking for solutions to work around them. Work with them. Use them, instead of fighting them.

These struggles to sit in meditation, to exercise, to create — they are not signs of personal flaws, weaknesses or limitations. They are signs that the system is working normally. A bicycle only maintains balance when in motion; this is not a flaw, but an unavoidable and intrinsic aspect of the design. There is only one solution: start pedaling.

Cross-Quarter Days: Equinoxes & Solstices as Seasonal Midpoints

I recently stumbled upon the Celtic concept of Cross-Quarter Days (or the “Wheel of the Year“) when discovering that my February 2nd birthday was a holiday of sorts — “Candlemas” to Christian religion and “Imbolc” to the Pagans.

Wanting to learn more, I eventually found this page on the ancient Celtic perspective of seasons, solstices and equinoxes, and this method of segmenting the seasons that really rang true for me.

In short, the Pagans saw the Solstices and Equinoxes as fulcrums of a season, not boundaries. Boundary dates were instead these Cross-Quarter Days:

“Unlike modern calendars that define the start of a season on a Solstice or Equinox, the Celts perceived Solstices and Equinoxes as events occuring mid-season, with the seasons actually beginning and ending on the Cross Quarters. Thus, Imbolc was the beginning of Spring. Imbolc corresponds more or less to Groundhog Day in the USA, February 2…”

“Perhaps the Celtic perception of the seasonal calendar harmonizes best with nature. Should Summer’s arrival really mark a time of year when daytime just gets shorter and shorter? Is it logical for days to only lengthen throughout Winter? It seems to contradict our perception of what these seasons are, or is it just a mid-Summer’s night dream of mine? The Celts believed major transitional days — Solstices and Equinoxes — should be enveloped by the time of year they signify, not stand for mere boundary markers! Celtic calendar keepers favored the Cross Quarters as bookends for every season under the sun.”

Halloween/Samhain thus holds a different significance when viewed from this perspective. Being the beginning of the Winter season, the focus on the dead, spirits and such makes more sense. Winter is truly when the natural world seems to “die”, and this indeed begins around October 31 and begins to end around February 2.

This also ties into some other interesting research that came up as an offshoot of looking into these Cross-Quarter Days — the Ghosts of Christmas in the classic Scrooge tale in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. And you also hear mention of “scary ghost stories” in a popular Christmas song, and many Christmas songs are in minor keys which I always found a bit odd. It seems ghost stories at Christmas is a tradition that has long fell out of use, and this was the case at Dickens’ time as well it seems he was attempting to revive the custom. As perhaps was the BBC with their yearly broadcast of ghost stories. And of course all of this helps explain the concept of Krampus, the demon companion to Santa/St. Nick!

When seen from the perspective that Halloween, Christmas and Imbolc/Candlemas/Grounghog’s Day all form the season “Winter”, it makes sense to have the first half — from Halloween to Christmas — be focused on the “darker” aspects (since the length of daylight wanes to it’s nadir at the Winter Solstice), and then the latter half signifying the “rebirth” and life-affirming aspects, since the length of days have begun once again to lengthen. An ideal time to demarcate a New Year. I wouldn’t doubt those clever Pagans actually celebrated the start of the New Year on the day after the Winter Solstice. The day when the days start growing in daylight.

Ghoul/Zombie

Halloween Monster & Creature Art

A spine-tingling collection of all the recent Halloween-themed illustration work I’ve been creating this month for my Daily Sketch practice. Be sure to follow my Coghill Cartooning blog on WordPress.com to keep up with all the Daily Sketches.

Bigfoot Patrol merchandise

How Bigfoot Helped Me Overcome Procrastination, Perfectionism & Resistance

Steven Pressfield’s book “The War of Art” is a psychological Rosetta Stone for the unmotivated artist. It reveals to you why, how — and most importantly — that you are not alone in the struggle. Far from it. In fact, “your” struggle is so common, the first insight you get from the book is that you can stop identifying with that struggle immediately because it isn’t unique to you in the slightest.

Pressfield personifies this struggle with the monolithic, capitalized name: Resistance. “The War of Art” offers deeply useful tools for battling Resistance (your key insight is that the battle will never go away, so better to be good at stepping up to the challenge each day than to expect an eventual truce or victory over Resistance). But I wanted to go deeper. I wanted to follow Resistance back to it’s lair. And I ended up encountering Bigfoot on this quest.

Bigfoot Patrol merchandise

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