Passion Lightning Round!
Instead of taking a deep dive on one thing this month, I thought it would be fun to talk about a lot of different little passions I have going on. While a lot of the bigger things are still the same (commission painting, portrait painting, and painting outdoors), I don’t usually talk about some of the smaller things I’m really into. It’s the little things that keep us going after all.
It all started by accident, when a few of my favorite improv artists / comedians launched a new podcast about Dungeons and Dragons. I didn’t know what D&D was, but I loved their other shows so I gave it a listen. My first step into the realm of nerd-dom. When I took that step, it was like something had been re-awakened inside me. It was the smell of your grandparents’ house that you never quite forget, how when you first step inside the house all the old memories return flooding your mind. Listening to this podcast adventure, I was a kid again reading Artemis Fowl, living in my own imagination. I had the epiphany that I never really outgrew fantasy, I just put it aside.
I needed more of this in my life, so I started reading again. I’m now on my third fantasy novel (The Lies of Locke Lamora) since this revival, and it’s making me feel like a kid all over again. Every day I can’t wait to get home just so I can open this book and disappear into the ancient world of Camorr.
The Latest Portrait Commission
I was commissioned to paint a loose-style watercolor portrait (example) of an old friend’s baby nephew, and I’m torn about it. Portraits have been something I’ve particularly struggled to learn and struggled to get better at. I sketched his nephew, did some rough paintings, but so far, I can’t seem to come to anything that I’m happy with or proud of.
The tricky thing about portraits is that one little thing can be off, and all of a sudden you want to say, “That’s not my [nephew, grandmother, brother, etc.]”. It’s not just about painting the exact details, but it’s about capturing the essence of what makes the subject uniquely themselves. So I’ve been thinking a lot about whether or not I should accept this commission if I can’t do a good job.
I’m going to paint a few more rough-takes of this portrait, but if I don’t think I’m improving, I’m going to have to be honest and turn down the work. Making that decision has been a learning experience for me.
This one has surprised me. I love to cook as a creative exercise, no recipes, using whatever I have in the cabinet. Why has something as scientific and controlled as bread making be fun? I’ll tell you why.
The first time I threw a dough onto the counter and kneaded into it with my palm, I got the same Zen-like focus you get after spending hours on a painting. You forget time, and the only thing you feel is this sticky dough on your fingers. It was like the feeling of molding pottery with your hands, or playing wet sand on the beach.
That’s half of why it’s so fun to me, but the other half is the anticipation of waiting for your science experiment. You have to be so meticulous through so many steps, and then you put this beaker of chemicals into an oven and wait. You wait in anticipation. Then when you finally open the oven, it’s like the mystery of unwrapping a present.
I’m learning to make sourdough right now, and I’ve been culturing a sourdough starter for about a week now.
One year of Passion Projects
Reflecting on the past year, I’m glad that I took the time to do a minimum of 12 episodes. I stuck with it, and I took the time to see where it led. Moving forward, I am going to keep posting about my passions, but I’ll be posting these quarterly.
The funny thing about a monthly passion projects newsletter is that I should have a new passion each month - but, I’m still passionate about a lot of the same things. I’ve been thinking about the “Why” for these posts, and I want them to be a little nugget of fun for you all, not just a window into my life. I want you to learn something, or at the very least I want to give you something that makes your day brighter. So, if I’m on deadline to write about something new…but I’m still doing the same things as last month, they quickly become diary entries.
As I’m getting back in touch with the “Why” of these posts, you can expect the next post to be come out in July. Until then, I’ll leave you with this quote I’ve been mulling over recently. Hopefully it brightens up your day.
“May your first word be adventure and your last word be love.”
-- Bruce Feiler