Saturday, November 28, 2009

Short Story: "Addicted"

My first published writing was titled, "Addicted". It was written in November 2008 and appeared in the Camden County Press (CCC's Newspaper) in December 2008. The version in the paper is the pre-edited version. I gave them the original draft and the version edited by Alex Wilson and they were suppose to use the edited version, but someone made a mistake. They published the unedited version but still gave Alex credit for editing it. Here is a picture of the story in the paper and the version edited by Alex that was suppose to be published:


I am an addict. I guess the first step in dealing with a problem is admitting you have a problem- at least, that's what I hear. I guess it all started when I got a job in a bar downtown. I needed something to get me through those long nights, and long nights they were. I learned it is very time consuming to satisfy a drunk's vehement desire if that desire becomes increasingly vehement with every drink they consume. Many nights I failed. There are simply not enough hours in a day to satisfy such imperious desires. So during those long nights is where it began, my addiction. At first, two or three, maybe four on the most hectic nights, kept me trotting through the endlessness. Then, in seemingly a matter of no time at all, four could not satisfy my own vehement desire. So in attempt to tame this conditioned compulsion I was forced to up the dosage. More. More to keep me functional into the wee-hours of the morning. I could not sleep. I think I first realized a problem had befriended me against my will one morning when I awoke from a rare few hours of sleep with an ache in my head and legs. As strange as it may seem my friend abandoned me when I began again. I was undeniably happier without my friend. Alone. So I began whenever he came to visit. In time, I came to realize that this was a serious problem. So I set out to fix this problem of mine. To find a cure. I began by quitting my job at the bar- where it all began. Without this crud in my system I was a well lubricated machine! For exactly one week and a day. From tick-to-tock I went from confident to anxious, blissful to melancholy, triumphant to defeated, forwards to backwards, right to wrong, in to out, and even A to Z. I was a liar in denial! And so I broke.
A six pack.
A double shot.
A cold one.
A hot one.
A warm one.
A small one.
A big one.
And eventually a really big one.
When I awoke from another rare few hours of sleep, after forty-two sleepless hours, there were nuclear atoms splitting in my head. My legs jaded from their marathon. Addicted, I am. I said to myself, “That’s it. I really need to lay off the caffeine.”

Siddhartha Gautama

"Siddhartha Gautama" Ink brush pen on sketch book paper.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Decorated Lotus

My folks bought a nice oriental rug for the living room from Target (of all places). I really dig that rug and the art on it. This is my Sunday morning drawing of the highly decorated Lotus on the rug. Pencil Sketch, superfine ink pen outline, ink pen brush for coloring (much better than norml markers!)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Buddhist Tara

Spent the early part of my Saturday doing this. It's a Buddhist Tara, Female Bodhisattva. I don't think this is any particular Tara, I simply googled images of "Buddhist Taras" and found this. I printed it, drew two 7" x 7" grid with fourteen 1" x 1" squares over the original print and one in my sketch book, then proceeded to draw this one 1" x 1" square at a time. By the end of the drawing I felt I pretty much abandoned the squares and began freehanding it. In hindsight, I believe doing this piece really helped improve my ability to draw. It's not perfect, but I enjoyed doing it and felt I made some positive progress.
Much Love,

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Buddhist Sketches Vol. 2 and Snapple Sketches (Bonus)








I had a bad day today. Though of it came These sketches.. and I have an amazing girlfriend who proves to be more unconditionally supportive and loving with everyday that passes- We should all search for something everyday tht makes that day worth living; today I lived for Art and Stacy.
I promise to get something more than just sketches up soon (Writings, Photography, etc.) but right now sketching in my notebook dominates my art drive as it's a convenient and productive way to tune out my professors, who bore me unbearably. These are the sketches:
1. Notebook page: "Philosophy Notes, 11/19/09"
2. "The Noble Eightfold Path" written in Chinese calligraphy. The Noble Eightfold Path is a Buddhist teaching of the eight paths to right living and enlightenment. They are Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. I am not Buddhist but I try to live by The Noble Eightfold Path in my every day life. I, admittedly, fail to live by these as I see it almost impossible for me to do so, but I strive to do so to the best of my ability because following these eight paths truely eliminates suffering and brings about Truth and joy. I follow these more so than the Ten Commandments even though I am Catholic (call me a heretic or what have you but Jesus taught The Noble Eightfold Path as well just in a different way, do your studies).
3." The Eternal (or Endless) Knot". This is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism. The knot has no begining nor end, said to symbolize the infinite wisdom of Buddha, the inter-twining of wisdom and compassion, and/or endless cycle of suffering (birth), death, and rebirth. This was more difficult to draw than I initially thought.
4. "Lotus Flower w/ Om Symbol on Pedal." Om (or Aum) is a spiritual syllable in most Indian religions, not just buddhism. The meaning is ambiguous and varies with the religion but it is overall a very spiritual syllable often hummed in a drawn out manner while meditating and placed at the beginning of mantras (for example: "om mani padme hum" seen below). I read that in Buddhism it is inappropriate to use this symbol as Aum because it is more closely associated with Hinduism though the meaning is the same, just written differently, so I wear this symbol on a chain (aside my Crucifix) being I could not find a Buddhist Om pendant.
5. "Om Mani Padme Hum" written in Tibetan. Important mantra said to imbody all of Buddha's teachings. I believe it is associated with the Six Paramitas (Perfections) being it's a six syllable mantra, though I honestly can be wrong. It is often translated as "Jewel in the Lotus" though it cannot be accurately translated and its interpretation varies.
6. "Eyes of Buddha." The all-seeing eyes; sees Truth in all.
7. Sketch off my Rasberry Snapple Bottle.
8. Sketch off my Rasberry Snapple Bottle. I know you're thinking, "What the fuck does Snapple have to do with Buddhism?" Well, it's very simple, if Snapple was around during Siddhartha Guatma's (Buddha) time on earth, I'm sure he would have drank it! After all, "It's Made From the Best Stuff on Earth!"
Much Love,
V.J. Coppola
(Note: I actually prefer Arizona brand over Snapple, especially the Mucho Mango. Arizona is healthier, taste better, and is cheaper. I also believe Buddha would have prefered Arizona as well.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Buddhist Sketches and Teachings.

Here are a few Buddhist sketches I did today. For those who don't know I am very interested in Buddhism and try to follow some basic principles of Buddhist teachings in my every day life, though I'm am no Buddhist. The writing is a Buddhist mantra, perhaps the most important mantra, "Om Mani Padme Hum". Here I wrote it (more like drew it) in Sanskrit.
Below it is a drawing of The Eyes of Buddha. Said to be the "all seeing eyes" for Buddha is the truely enlightened one and sees all in truth.
Now I'd like to leave you with a few thoughts from the Dhammapada (a collection of 423 teachings of Buddha; something kind of equivalent to the Holy Bible, like a "Buddhist Bible").
"He who lives looking for pleasures only, his senses uncontrolled, immoderate in his food, idle, and weak, Mara (the tempter) will certainly overthrow him, as the wind throws down a weak tree."
-Dhammapada #7
"He who lives without looking for pleasures, his senses well controlled, moderate in his food, faithful and strong, him Mara will certainly not over throw, any more as the wind throws down a rocky mountain."
-Dhammapada #8
All suffering is a product of our senses. Deny your senses, for create the illussions and desires that cause suffering.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kiana's Sketch: Inspiration and Thoughts.

Kiana's Sketch:
My Sketch:

About an hour ago I recieved a text from a friend of mine who said that I inspired her to attept an abstract drawing. I was flattered to say the least.. did I, just another average Joe, really inspire someone with my sketches? She then sent me the picture (thank goodness for MMS texts!) looking for some feedback as I do to my friends. Her sketch is the first picture posted above, which reminded me of some of my earliest skecthes. The second picture is a sketch I did in her notebook a while back, it's definately not one of my best sketches but I learned alot since then.

Now I am the first one to tell you abstraction CAN NOT be taught. It comes from within the artist and, as I believe, the artist's "mind's eye". The artist at times (speaking of my own experience) can't explain or visualize the finished product before it is finished and when it is done can not explain, in words, how this idea came about. It kind of just happens; pulled out from the deepest, darkest depths of the subconscious mind.. This, as many know and others can assume, is the very reason why abstraction can not be taught and, further more, is almost impossible to explain how abstraction comes about. But for Kiana's sake I tried my best to offer up advice knowing that what she wished to do could not be taught to her. This is the text I sent back:

"Don't try so hard. Use your own creativity and just let the pen do the work. There's a lot of open space there, which can be ok, but personally [I believe], filling out empty space with sparatic etching creates more [for the viewer] to look at and follow. Thicker scribble like lines add depth to your drawing. Keep your pen moving and just let your mind leak out of your pen. There's no ink in your pen, only your mind's creativity."

These principles I aquired after the sketch I did in Kiana's notebook as you can see above...

She was very appreciative of my advice but ended her response text with "I just suck". This sounded all too familiar! I saw a younger me in her... I offered up one more piece of advice to her:

"Negative attitude gets you nowhere.. It took me years to figure that out,it's only recently I learned to let go of negativity and began becoming happier with my work.. Don't criticize yourself, though it's very difficult, just do it [do what you do]... Once you let go of expectations and allow your mind to wander deep into itself, then you become an artist"

As this little conversation with Kiana came to an end I still rolled ideas over in my head on my ride home from school. And I have one more piece of advice I'd like to share with her and you. Recall the old sying, "Think outside the box." Personally I believe this satement is bullshit and will get you absolutely nowhere. So I offer up my own version of what this old saying seemingly came up short of:

"Think inside the box, but do just that; think! Think with your own mind, not with someone else's. And don't allow anyone to think for you! Once you do that your thoughts will be original and unique because they came from YOU! And once you do achieve this, expand the box so that what was once outside the box, is now inside the box."

Though I don't feel I said enough to really help her and I fear to say too much I hope this helped her out as will it help you in whatever you do. These are principles essential to everything in life, not just abstract art. Do yourself a favor and think for yourself, question everything, and learn! Venture into the deepest depths of your own mind, as freightening as it may be, and pull out everything that's within you because it's unique to you and only you.

Thanks for reading, Much Love,

V.J. Coppola