Tann Starr Sketchbook Chronicles: Angelina Jolie 16x20 pen and ink
Wordy C is about to get wordy so go away if you can't stand reading more than 500 words per post. Seriously... I've a lot to say about a new project I'm working on so go potty, grab your snackage and get comfy if you dare to stay to read this. It's gonna be a long confession (LOL).
Yesterday I popped in to let you guys know I was painting Angelina Jolie. I absolutely adore her. Besides being an amazing actress, she puts her money where her heart and mouth is. AJ saves a third of what she makes, gives a third to charitable causes and lives off of a third while running amok changing people's lives. She's touched the lives of millions of people in so many incalculable ways that when ever I think about her I get a stupid grin on my face because she reminds me we can all be anything we want to be whenever we decide to be it. All you have to do is choose life, then go live it to the best of your ability.
It takes a lot of hard work to become something else because no one can do it for you, you have to do it for yourself and not give a damn what your detractors say if and when you sometimes make mistakes. When Angelina decides to enter the scene and do something humanitarian and charitable she does what she does because she believes we are all fundamentally the same and probably wish that if we ever needed help someone would actually be there to help us. It's such a simple and straight forward thought that some people just can't wrap their tiny little minds around it because when stars make the A-list some people tend to forget they never stopped being human when their bank accounts started growing.
It's a recession. A lot of our bank accounts are not growing. I habitually bleed money while working four jobs: real estate paralegal, artist, musician and writer. I schedule play and down time but do not have time to waste. A lot of you waste a lot of time when you could be doing something useful or fun, like finding cool ways to do something new, enjoying family time or maybe helping someone out once in a while by sharing the little you do have with a person who has less and really is in need. Some of you waste the power of your blogs because you spend more time squabbling over differences of opinions and attacking competitors in the comment sections of their blogs because you think it makes you look better, smarter, faster, stronger than the other person. If you're going to be a big bad blogger then help the newbies rather than destroy their tentative attempts at starting a blog. Let them write what ever they want. Encourage them to share their passions and start to make a difference by inspiring others to share something they said.
A good idea that is a shared idea is priceless.
If you don't care enough to share what matters to you, then people may not ever learn the significance of the motivation behind the little things you do. Like my post yesterday... I shared I was painting Angelina Jolie and an interesting thing happened. A few social media peeps shared with me why they did and didn't like her so I'm going to confess why I love Angelina Jolie and take you on a ride from start to finish on how and sometimes why I create portraits.
One reason why I love Angelina Jolie (besides the fact that she's gifted) is because she helps people. She's really nice, genuinely cares about helping out and it's something that she wants to do, not has to do for publicity's sake. We all PMS at one point or another in our lives, so having a reputation for occasionally being difficult doesn't cancel out her being a useful citizen, mother, daughter, wife or change the fact that when she's not kicking someone's ass while refusing to do things the way someone else wants, that she's really quite charming, caring and kind with a quirky sense of humor. If you take away the spin of the interview and just read all the quotes, out of the mouth of babes is where you'll discover the answers to who she really is rather than what she is described to be. Sometimes when people publicly reveal their insecurities and are transparent about their preferences we miss the obvious telling of a beautiful story unfolding right before our eyes.
She's dedicated and obsessed about the things she decides to devote her time, temper and talents to. To get this you have to separate the person from the myth. It is not easy to become something else and stay in character the entire time you decide to make the change to play the role required. It's even harder to be understood when approached by people who don't know you well enough to realize when you are in, between and out of character. There is a transition stage between the two where the overlap affects people in subtle ways and perception becomes the reality. Actors aren't the only people who do that. I had various levels of threat assessment modes drilled into me when I was a law enforcement officer. I was a completely different personality on duty in comparison to when I was being an artist or musician after I retired with 20 years of government service. My life and the lives of others completely depended upon me playing the officer role to perfection because in the other role if I were required to take a life in defense of another person or myself I would not hesitate to pull the trigger. It was a para-military mode that took time to unwind from.Sometimes,no matter how bad I wanted a friggin break I couldn't stand down during vacation or pass days. If you play a role long enough it like being institutionalized where you're the warden volunteering to incarcerate your true personality so you can fit in at the temporary asylum of your choice and function at the required level to pull off the jail break that hands you back to yourself.
When you do that for a living, learning to have a personality for everyone while mirroring the personality of others, the people who don't know how complicated a skill that is always underestimate you. In law enforcement you live and die by your wit, interpersonal communication skills and fast reflexes. You can't just be fast, you have to be accurate for both hand to hand and weapons combat. Being a quick draw with a gun is useless if you can't hit the bloody target. Every firearm has it's own personality, weight and feel to it so assuming you're one up on the bad guy if you manage to get his gun may cost you more than you think. How I handle my Glock is not the same as I handle my Smith and Wesson. How I handle my two nine millimeters is not the same as how I handle my two Detective Specials. My revolvers will still fire if I drop them in the mud. Ask your gun friend what would happen if you got mud in a nine and tried to fire it. Better yet, do you even know what the safety looks like and how to turn it off so the gun will fire? What if the magazine is empty? It's not your gun. Getting your hands on it for a second may be a moot point and not save your ass at all in a life or death fight...
I don't under-appreciate or underestimate Angelina Jolie because there where times when I had to deal with felons that required me to force my mind to think of something else entirely so I could come back and center my mind on what needed to be done. I was always channeling Clint Eastwood on the firing range because if I had to pull the trigger in the street I wanted to be Dirty Harriette (LOL). I would fixate on Angelina Jolie while on Riker's Island because she always made me smile and I had a lot of fun giving people "the look" (LOL).
Ever see kids being bad and the parents stop talking and suddenly give them "the look." People with common sense know when it's time to stop and go away, inclusive of male maximum security inmates because they all had mothers or grandmothers who at some point in their life gave them "the look" before whipping their ass for being very, very bad. If you are a fan of Angelina Jolie then you have seen at least nine different versions of "the look" (LOL). I love AJ for that because I had no idea there were so many stellar ways to get a significant glare to speak so eloquently for you. ;-)
I get how complicated method acting is because the training academy didn't just shove law and psychology down our throats, it forced us to understand that no matter what inmates did they were just people with issues that had to be dealt with effectively, efficiently and humanely. Mr. Smith was still Mr. Smith although he did something terrible. If you connected with the person rather than the crime then you had a chance to help Mr. Smith be a better person while struggling with his issues. If you don't approach people like automatic enemies, then you may be able to function on neutral ground and move on.
I think the mistake a few fans make is that they sometimes forget they don't know the person, only their body of work. I think some bloggers make the same mistake. They don't know the writers, only something that they've written or a portion of their body of work. Sometimes it starts a conversation that leads to a friendship. Other times it creates a blog war from people making assumptions that it is okay to do or say things that are not okay. They assume the impressions from their perceptions are in fact reality, then walk blindly into the mind-field of another's domain unaware that stepping in the wrong place will start the f-bomb.
If you like Jennifer A that's fine, I do too, however, ragging on me about Angelina's faults is not going to make me love her less. I have a lot of faults so it will probably make me love AJ all the more (LOL). It's not blind adoration because I get the amount of research involved in taking on an acting role and the hours AJ puts in when it comes to having the talent and skill to embrace another personality and make it her own. Sometimes the role sucks and no level of skill is going to pull that puppy off, but I love the way she even manages to make something that sucks so damn interesting. Being a huge fan of Angelina taught me to pay attention to the craft. She ia always serious about her craft. Researching AJ taught me that I could do things as a law enforcement officer while afraid because as long as I knew the role sucked I knew my limitations regarding how far to take my role. You are not going to get too many retired law enforcement officers telling you we practiced some of our best lines with our game face on in front of a mirror, so pay attention to the fact that as a former investigator for a mayoral agency she was my role model when I had to morph into other personalities to get through my day.
It isn't just about liking her movies. It's about finding answers from unexpected places that makes me learn something about myself and makes me want to know more about the person who enlightened me simply by answering questions honestly. Angelina habitually does that, sometimes without the benefit of a publicist telling her not to tell the truth, lets spin it this way... I love people who can be brutally honest on Monday, lie Tuesday then confess on Wednesday because they prefer the brutality of their honesty over the political correctness of tact or current social mores. It makes her a real person to me and validates my choice of sticking up for and happily standing by in support of one of my fave artists.
AJ is a mom who takes being a mother seriously and has adopted children while continuing to have biological offspring of her own. She constantly reminds me we can all start where we are by helping one person at a time if we care enough to get off our butts and try to make a difference. You don't have to throw money at a problem or adopt orphans like she did. You can donate your time, efforts, skills and resources to help someone else if money is something you can't afford to give away. You can schedule your trying to do good deeds around your business, personal and family time. Sometimes, helping can be as simple as cooking an elderly neighbor a meal...
Sometimes I get high-jacked into researching/working pro bono cases by my attorney girlfriends so not bitching about the size of your projected commission check while working just as hard for a client who can't pay the schedule of fees you want when you secretly wish you were devoting more time to the A-list franchise may be a start for a few cranky Realtors I know (LOL). ;-)
I like neat people who are helpful and talented. I like neat people with issues who don't let their flaws and faults become the excuse to stop them from doing something extraordinary. I like people who are happy being themselves regardless of what they do for a living. What you do for a living is not who you are as a person, it's just a task you do to get paid for services rendered. A business title may help describe an aspect of you, but it does not define all of you or truly lets people know what you're like when you kick off your shoes and let your hair down... Sometimes Angelina Jolie lets her hair down in public. Instead of enjoying a glimpse into a wonderful, candid moment, people lock onto a perceived imperfection. They take a simple scene, like mommy and daddy walking with their babies and turn it into something else insinuating back in the days when they used to be happy...
"Who doesn't disagree with a spouse, sibling, parent, neighbor, friend, child, co-worker etc once in a while? Show me a man without an opinion and I'll show you a man in a coma or dead." Granny Tann (LOL). ;-)
Did that throw you off? Good (LOL).
I'm going to spend next week showing you guys my paintings. I do a lot of things (not just real estate) so my blog is a "whim of information" rather than a hardcore resource for anything specifically useful (LOL). I only write about what interests me but will admit that sometimes I do write very useful blog posts. Other times I pop in to say hi... Hello (LOL). I am liable to take you just about anywhere on any given Sunday without a shred of remorse for leading you into the asylum of my brain, a foodylicious spot, my next musical adventure or raging rant about God only knows what (in this case random musing about how I tick and Angelina Jolie).
Fact is I enjoy sharing the cartoons in my head with you and spoofing about my life in the slow lane. It's fun because I am easily amused and this post has satisfied answering some e-mail (not to mention tricking out my ADD). I love chatting about the wee people and am a bit overdue for one of those. Stay tuned for that later. I will probably update you guys on everything else going on in my tiny corner of the east coast tomorrow.
I love reading your e-mails, direct messages, FB blurbs and texts and sometimes being fussed at for not writing when you want me to distract or entertain you. Knowing that some of you would actually genuinely miss me keeps me playing in social media. I write because I like being discovered while discovering you... thus, the answers to your e-mails (LOL). Almost done, just a few more people to attend to:
So... why start with Angelina Jolie? Why not do portraits of my kids first?
I have done portraits of my kids, you just haven't seen them (yet - LOL).
I think I want AJ hanging in the FL house because I get where she's coming from as a person in transition. People with complicated interests are always in transition. Moving to FL is a transition for me... I'm used to vacationing down south and living up north but now I am reversing a 45 year habit. I'll be living down south and vacationing in New York (oh horror - my geriatric neighbors may be having a cow soon - LOL). My new home requires that I do a new thing... like get a suburbia attitude and learn to embrace Walmart. The wee people love Walmart so I'm doomed (LOL).
Being somewhat talented in a couple of areas (check out my iTunes music catalog) and having lots and lots of personal issues and quirks, I tend to gravitate towards admiring people who remind me that I can do what ever I want and even do it afraid if it means doing what is in my heart that matters personally to me. Moving to FL actually scares me a little. So, if I am going to start hanging original paintings in the FL house, I should give the wee people good role models to wake up in the morning to while reminding myself I can come back to NY whenever I want. I can go anywhere in the world if I decide to do so. The only one stopping me from doing what I want is myself. AJ is my reminder to always be me regardless of the creative assignments I accept. My geographical location isn't going to change me, only I can change me and if I take the plunge then I should change for the better.
So I sit then I draw, surrounded by images while thinking about every interview and every scrap of information I have ever read, seen or heard about Angelina Jolie, smiling over the fact that she's a busy mom with kids in tow that I think is a great role model to pay personal tribute to. She is not perfect, but she is a beautiful, creative soul that would make a stellar portrait. If you're going to paint you should always be inspired by your subject because your passion for creating has to manifest into a form the viewer finds interesting or no one gives a damn about the painting. If you pick a piss poor subject no amount of technical skill will save your dumb ass from being hung by hubris. In my case, it certainly doesn't hurt that she's just as gorgeous on the outside as she is within (after all, I have to study my subject and memorize the details to unleash my artistic vision on the world while keeping your virtual eyeballs from bleeding on my blog - LOL).
Since none of us are perfect, lets just have fun with the fact that I adore Angelina Jolie and think she is perfect just the way God wired her. I wont pick on your hero and sources of creative inspiration if you don't pick on mine. I for one always thought its our flaws and quirks that make us unique. My being anal retentive is great for enhancing my ability to draw what I see (and imagine) so a trait some may find my most annoying personality tick is THE trait that makes my ability to see and express things differently unique. ;-)
So far, I've done five pen and ink studies and today I'm going to be sketching AJ in graphite because I'm starting to get a better feel for the type of portrait I'd like to create to honor her. The drawing on my blog is from page five from my sketchpad. I love creating pen and inks because back in the day when I was attending the High School of Fashion Industries as a fashion illustration major my illustration instructor Mr. Murray Sherman would always say, "Practice does not make perfect unless one practices perfectly."
I don't talk about it much but I do practice a lot, almost obsessively (LOL). Working in 20 minute intervals helps and usually is my forte but since the kids are down south with hubby while I tour the eastern seaboard working on projects I have the NY apartment tripping with canvas and boxes (LOL). I usually spend all day doing illustration, photography, music and editing digital video (my neighbors have been feeding me - LOL).
I am currently in art mode (when I'm not working on my book and explaining to my editor why I failed to e-mail the chapter I promised to e-mail so she can edit me - LOL). I will go back into real estate mode in a couple of weeks. I'm leaving REMAX for Charles Rutenberg so don't call me about buying and selling anything until you see a new address materialize on my blog, but I digress...
"Practice does not make perfect unless one practices perfectly," will be the catalyst for improving each new Angelina Jolie portrait until I get Angelina right. Thus, drawing in ink means I can not erase my mistakes, simply observe and learn from them while I share a few of them with you. With each new portrait I draw, I learn something different about the subject. The more I draw the more I discover that intangible expression that makes the final portrait unique.
These are close but no cigar so I will be having an Angelina Jolie movie marathon in Unbox, iTunes and Netflix later. It's tricky to do a good portrait when you love someone. I am always better at drawing people I don't give a damn about because it's clinical and just business rather than emotional and filling a soul need.
I'll have to create about 20 more drawings before it starts to evolve into the type of Angelina Jolie portrait that makes my artist girlfriends go, "OMG I can't believe you did that," (which is a reaction I sometimes crave from the competition - LOL). So today, you're getting a rare view at one of my many artistic mistakes regarding one of my favorite people that I've decided to illustrate. Who knows what you'll get by dinner time or maybe even tomorrow morning. I absolutely love Angelina Jolie, so I need to get back to work on her portrait (and deal with the emotional baggage that entails - like requiring movie marathons - LOL).
I'm kinda looking forward to showing you guys more sketches of one of the most beautiful women in the world that happens to be a fave artist of mine. Sneak peeks can be fun if I'm stingy and keep you curious (LOL). Besides, I'm one of those AJ fans who could answer lots of trivia questions because I study up on everything that interests me. I rarely let anyone near my "art in progress" sketchbooks or thinking process, but since you guys have been following my angst regarding the naked walls of our FL house irking the crap out of me, I figured it would be kind of nice if we shared the creation of a painting together because it also gives me the excuse to talk about a fave subject: Angelina Jolie. ;-)
Will post another page of AJ art later on today. When I switch from pen and ink to graphite, that means I'm about to prep a canvas because I'm getting closer to finding that image in my head that puts me in my happy place and makes me crave playing in lots and lots of paint.
We are soooooooo gonna play in paint next week together. Looking forward to it... ;-)