We found an auditorium where a heavy metal band was playing. Thick smoke floated above our heads. Red laser beams flashed in the air. People danced with their eyes closed, waving their arms in slow motion, grasping at imaginary objects with their fingers. I watched them with nervous curiosity.
After the show was over, I stumbled into the street with Greg and Jesse. It was time to return to the youth hostel. We walked down a staircase in the sidewalk, into the concrete labyrinth where the subway trains lived. We boarded a train and rode through the tunnel a few minutes. Then we stepped off and climbed another set of stairs.
When we reached the top of the stairs and looked around, we didn’t recognize the signs and buildings around us. We had gotten off at the wrong stop. We didn’t know where we were. It was almost eleven o’clock. And we couldn’t call our teacher on our cell phones because we didn’t have cell phones. It was 1998.
So we rambled through the streets, asking strangers for directions to the youth hostel where we were staying. Most of them were friendly and polite, but they had never heard of the Jump In Youth Hostel. We even found a black taxi cab parked indiscreetly on the sidewalk, a common practice in Germany. The driver sat behind the wheel, sipping coffee and listening to the radio. We eagerly asked him to take us to the Jump In Youth Hostel, but he shook his head and started pointing, giving us directions in German. None of us understood German well enough to know what he was saying. We mumbled “danke” and walked away, disappointed and discouraged.
We walked through the subway and found a group of policemen playing cards in a small, dirty room with pictures of naked women plastered on the walls. We explained our predicament to them. They also gave us helpful directions in German.
You’ve been reading an excerpt from How to Make an Artist Miserable. The Kindle version is free May 19-23. The paperback version is $5 plus shipping and handling as always.
You can click here to order a copy.
Copyright 2015, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.
I hate it when people stand behind me, staring down at my paper and invading my personal space. I don’t know how other artists work, but I spend a long time building the basic shape before I flesh out all the little details. If I’m sketching a face, I might spend ten minutes forming the outline of the head and the curves of the hair around it. But if spectators are gathered around me, I feel obligated to hurry up and work faster in order to keep them entertained. This hasty scrambling always leads to a sloppy picture.
People also love to yell out brainless comments as I draw. If I’m drawing a face, for instance, I will loosely sketch the eyes, make some rough marks representing the nose, scribble in the lips, and then return to the top of the face to add detail to the eyes. As soon as I direct my attention to the eyes, some bonehead will blurt out, “You forgot the give her nostrils! She needs nostrils, don’t she? Are you not gonna give her no nostrils?”
They don’t understand that I’m building the picture in layers. They just think I’m forgetting important details, so they like to point at the paper and remind me to add this and that. Sometimes, they’re deliberately being rude. Sometimes, they’re truly ignorant. Whatever their motivation, it drives me insane. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t open your mouth and spew criticism.
This is why I prefer to draw in the privacy of my apartment, spinning a Miles Davis record on my turntable. Or sitting in a cool hotel room, drinking coffee and listening to the soothing music of The Weather Channel.
How to Make an Artist Miserable is free on Kindle May 19-23. The paperback version is still $5 plus shipping and handling.
You can click here to order a copy.
(Copyright 2015, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.)
My new book is on Amazon now. The Kindle version will be free August 1 – 5. This one isn’t fiction. How to Make an Artist Miserable is a journal/essay/tirade about some of my frustrations as an artist — and how I’ve learned to overcome them. Like people assuming I work on a “for hire” basis and requesting giant portraits of their children, for example. Over the last few years, I’ve actually found a way to deal with those people. I no longer draw pictures I don’t want to draw. It’s very liberating.
You can click here to learn more.