XXXII

Two years ago, to mark my 30th birthday, I embarked on the biggest art project I’ve ever managed till date.  You can still see it at olatoxic.com (for a short while)

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Following that was this period of depressing, abject nothingness. Sure there were tiny moments of artivity from time to time, but nothing really worth mentioning. A small blip showed up on the radar in May this year when the last edition of Crossroads magazine was released. Crossroads is the publication I’m charged with producing quarterly by my employers. While I was (still am) very proud of the work I did on that issue, it wasn’t my project.

It wasn’t an olatoxic

You see, a major issue I have with creating and putting out my art is that majority of the time, I can’t decide in what medium I should be working. At any given time, there’s a million ideas swirling around my head, each trying to be the one to pop out and find fulfillment. Due to this, I’m too often in a perpetual state of indecision on what to do. In the rare moment that I might pick up a pencil, or a pressure tablet, or a laptop, it’s that overwhelming sense of unsureness that gives me pause and causes me to yield nothing.

Somehow. Somehow… I’ve finally gotten my act together and done something. Jux a lirru something. A little big something.

This little something is big for several reasons. Because I procrastinated on starting it for so long. Because it took the separate but much appreciated motivation of Atim (aka Afrolems) and Captain Quest to get me off my butt and do something. Because it caused me to work in a medium I’ve always been uncomfortable working in. Because it’s quite literally big.

I painted a wall mural.

You might not understand how big a deal this is, so here, some context… I hate paint. I’ve always wanted to be an artist, but somehow, every time I found I had to work with paint, I hated the experience. So I embraced digital arts, and sculpture, and word-smithing and several other media, but always ran from paint. Then I stumbled on the art of mural painting on Instagram and I was mind-blown. Then my course mate from uni, Osa seven leaves the cocoon of paid employment to become a full-time graffiti artist… becoming an almost instant success at it and suddenly, my mind is seeing how I can extend my artistry to this medium. Then I move to this new apartment and all the walls are white. They’re all one long blank canvas just begging for scrawls and stains and strokes and… paint.

Yeah, paint again. Ugh.

I didn’t just hate paint, in particular, I hated the arduous task of applying paint to any surface with a brush. The mixing, the back and forth between palette and canvas. The messiness. UGH!

But then I came up with a compromise. These huge ass murals I constantly devour on my IG feed are often applied with just spray cans and a wide variety of spray caps. I also stumbled upon the magic that is acrylic markers. I’d use those instead. Except none of these can be found in our beloved Naija so yeah I’d have to order them online. However…

Recession. And as you know, time is money.

Once I figured I didn’t have enough of either to get quality spray paint, spray caps and acrylic markers in time to meet the deadline I’d set for myself to embark on this new journey, I decided “Screw it!” and went and bought brushes and wall paint and here we are.

I turn 32 today and the thing that brings me the most joy in celebrating another year of existence on this insane planet is the fulfillment that comes with (nearly) finishing my first mural in my own living room.

And there’ll be more. Many more.

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The sketch

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The gear

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Process

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The (almost) end result

 

Two more murals will go up shortly. I’ll be sure to update here as those come along.

Now let me go find some cake.

The White Sea of Nothingness

White, blank and intimidating. One of the most tortuous experiences I have, and very regularly too, is having to stare into the face of some form of nothingness and make something out of it.

You see, painful as it is, it is my job to do this. No, it is beyond a job, it is my calling, it is my purpose…

It is what I was created to do

But flawed as I am, it can be difficult a lot of the time. The whiteness which is meant to be my conquest looks me in the face and mocks me. No matter how many times I have faced and vanquished it in the past, hydra-headed monster that it is, it rises again and taunts me, scoffs at me, knowing full well it will eventually fall, but revelling nonetheless in its power to unnerve me while it can.

I will vanquish it again. Several times over, as I have before. But too many times before, it has been with my back against a wall, or overhanging a cliff. Never in retreat but usually in defense. I should be on the attack more often. I should be on the attack all the time.

Perhaps, what makes it more difficult is how my tormentor comes in many shapes, sizes and forms. In many textures. In many tones and shades. Such that when I have mastered one or the other of its forms and am well practiced in the ways of vanquishing the inherent nothingness, but inadvertently letting the skills needed in vanquishing another form lie fallow in the process, I am taken aback when faced with the form I have not practiced at in a while.

The nothingness, not always white takes many forms…

Drawing Paper. The canvas. The stage. Photopaper. Cloth. The Monitor. Clay. The notebook. Leather. The blank wall. My body.

But I find some solace in the knowing that as diverse as the forms of this nothingness are, so are the tools and weapons I have been equipped to battle it with:

The Pencil My first love, still the one I first rely on when preparing my campaign…

The Pen The one for the decisive and final strokes. Permanent and never to be erased…

The Brush Still the weapon in my arsenal the handling of which is most awkard. Has got me out of a few scrapes though…

The Spatula
A tool I have entirely laid down. Once weilded it with great prowess. Alas, gone are those days. Or are they?…

The Scissors, Needle and Thread Weapons some assume, wrongly, are only for the feminine folk. If they only knew…

My Body Weapon of Mass Destruction. Lit up the stage, the screen, the dance floor. The monster sleeps… for now…

My Voice The tool with which I amplify the power of my pen. Works wonders, believe…

The Mouse and Keyboard/Keypad The ones that supply the daily bread. The ones I groom the most for the battles ahead…

The Camera With which I freeze and capture moments in time. The beautiful, beautiful moments…

But the sea fights back. That feeling of exasperation one may get when one stares at that great white sea and balks has been given many names, the most popular of which would be The Block amongst writers, Seeking Inspiration in art and music circles or generally… Laziness. Laziness is most often the real issue but don’t we all like a little dose (sometimes a large one) of denial? So we say “I have writer’s block” or “I need inspiration, mehn” but hardly ever “I need to get over this laziness”. But, I admit to myself and to the world, here and now, that I have been lazy, very much so.

However…

My creator has equiped me well to go forth in his likeness and likewise create, and create I must. The sea of nothingness I will now and again vanquish and fill with something or the other. I will replace that white with colours bold and bright, images striking and captivating, movements swift and sure, patterns simple and complex, shapes crisp and defined, words insightful and inspiring, art pure and true… all of them beautiful. For this is my calling, my purpose, my destiny.

For like my creator, I am creative.

I am an artist.

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Can you relate?