Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Releasing the Rhino (repost)

Hi all. Here's a post from October of last year(!). We hope you enjoy it and Happy November!


Monkey here:

So I'll be honest. I just came up with that phrase "releasing the rhino" right now, but I think it's pretty apt metaphor at what I wanted to talk about today. Plus, as part of Monkey + Seal, we like metaphors that deal with animals.

Many times, we carry around a lot of baggage. Whether it's familial responsibilities, loans, or a looming urgency to save the world, I know I tend to carry around a lot of crap that affects my art in negative ways.

I know that while constantly thinking about art as a business has its advantages, sometimes I get wrapped up in the money and that gets me thinking about my huge college loans, and that gets me worried about whether or not I'm good enough of an illustrator to get jobs, and etc. etc. etc., the downward spiral continues and then I start painting desperately to try and make money, rather than painting because it's what I love.

Let's call this huge force of negativity "the rhino." It's a stubborn, powerful beast that basically pulls you where you it wants to go, which is generally down and out. Whether it's money, or what you think your parents think of you, or what your peers think, or whatever it is, it can be frustrating and tiresome to fight the rhino. I mean, seriously, it's a RHINO for crying out loud, they're huge!

So, we have to learn how to release the rhino. I know this is hard to do, but it's the key to getting stuff done and being successful. The rhino can take what you, the real you, love, and turn it into something painful. If it's about acceptance and self-esteem, the rhino turns painting into just another thing they won't love you for. If it's about money, the rhino turns dancing into necessary, painful work. Once your love is turned into something painful by the rhino, it's hard to love it and you won't find that you enjoy it. At that point, why bother?

Well, you should bother because you love it. The pain isn't coming from what you like to do, it's coming from that giant rhino that's pulling you down and the straps are cutting into your shoulders and you're tired and grumpy and life stinks...because of the rhino!

So, cut it free. Release the rhino. How to do that is going to be different for everyone. Sometimes it's about taking a nap. Others it's yoga or meditation, or writing in journals, or playing a quick video game. Do whatever you have to do to center yourself and realize that to succeed at doing what you love, you have to love it.

It's not time to face the rhino yet. The rhino is like the last boss in the video game of life. You have to level up and gather courage and wisdom and experience and new tools and techniques before you can take on the rhino and finish the game and win your success. Just keep doing what you love, just to do it, and you'll find it's a lot easier to face the rhino later on.

In my case, I have to keep painting and experimenting and drawing because that's what I love to do. After I finish the illustrations and paintings, I then have the option to go and examine any business prospects - making prints, selling them at craft fairs, putting them in my portfolio, but that has to come after the art is done.

Are you fighting a rhino? Be honest. If you are, see what you can do about letting that beast go and get on with your love. How do you release the rhino?

Monday, October 31, 2011

The White Door

To celebrate Halloween, since we'll be on a plane out of the country, here is a reposting of the story Monkey wrote last year. Also, here's a quick speed paint Monkey did of a zombie! We hope you enjoy it! Happy Halloween!

The White Door

On Sam's way home from work, he would generally keep to the same route, down Lincoln, right at the corner store, down two blocks on Woodsbury, and then left onto Ausiel, which took him past a few blocks of old Victorians til he got to his apartment. He deviated from this route rarely, only if he needed to pick something up from the dry cleaner's of perhaps some limes at the corner store.

One day, on a unremarkable day like any other, as he walked down Ausiel he looked up and noticed a door he had never seen before. Granted, he didn't look up focusing on noticing strange doors on a daily basis, but he noticed that at the peak of a house, presumably where the attic might be, lay a strange, whitish door that was left ajar.

At first, Sam though he had seen a dim light in the room casting strange shadows about. Although the door had no strange markings besides a round-ish crystalline knob and a shiny white finish, Sam couldn't get it out of his head when he went to sleep that night.

The door didn't quite make sense. It seemed to jut out into open space - why would you make a door leading to a four-story fall? If it was just for decoration, then why was it a full door and not a window?

That night, as Sam slept, he saw the door, closer this time, as if he was flying. This time, a strange greenish light seeped out and as he approached the door a black cat suddenly jumped out and hissed at him, waking him just as his alarm clock was about to go off.

As the days turned into weeks into months, Sam would occasionally glance up towards the door, and it seemed to always be open, almost beckoning for him to enter. While he didn't even know how he could get up there, he was quite curious, but never curious enough to take any sort of action.

Soon it was October, and with the crisp fall air sweeping through the streets and talk of Halloween costumes filling the water cooler chatter. The month quickly flew by, and with Halloween falling on a Saturday that year, parties were being thrown left and right.

Sam, dressed as a scarecrow, decided to venture with his friend Paul to check out a few different parties to celebrate Halloween. After staying longer than expected at a nearby bar, he found that he and Paul were unexpectedly close to his house. While things were already getting a bit loopy after the shots at the bar, Sam was relieved when they walked back on Ausiel to what was familiar territory for Sam.

As he waited with Paul and some other guests outside the apartment complex to get buzzed in, Sam was suddenly hit with a jolt of familiarity. The apartment building looked really, really familiar to him. As the buzzer went off and the gate was opened, he realized he was at the same building that had that strange door on its roof.

As Sam went in, he suddenly felt the urge to climb the stairs to see if he could finally find out what was going on with the strange door, but Paul threw his arm around his shoulder and led him into a ground-floor apartment.

"Whose party is this?" Sam asked. Paul just shrugged and informed him that it was the resident manager's apartment, but that the guy was a friend of a friend. As Paul scampered off to procure some more drinks, Sam absently rode the buzz and started looking around. The apartment wasn't lit very well, and dark curtains hung from every corner, dividing the room. Fake cobwebs were strung up upon bookshelves and on cheap prop candelabras decorating table tops.

As Sam made his way deeper into the party, pushing past the billowing black curtains and costumed guests towards what he assumed was a bathroom. When he finally found the door he assumed to be a bathroom, he pushed it open to find that it was actually some sort of closet. It was only a few square feet, but surprisingly, it was nearly empty, save for some long black coats that hung from a clothing bar stretched across the width of the closet.

What surprised Sam even more was that in the darkness, he could see light oozing out of a crack in the back wall of the closet. He looked back to see if he was being watched, but all he saw were guests dancing and completely engaged in their conversations. He stepped forward and found that the back wall wasn't a wall at all, it was a door. A door he had seen before every day on his way home from work.

Sam's pulse started to race and emboldened by the alcohol in his system he closed the closet door behind him and started groping into the closet, gently pushing away the coats. His hand ran against smooth, porcelain-like molding until he came to what found what he was looking for. As soon as his hand wrapped around the door handle, he knew it was the same door. Crystalline door handle set in an ornate steel locking mechanism, smooth porcelain finish, Sam had seen it a thousand times before and just feeling it in his hand, he could see it even in the dark.

As Sam slowly turned the handle and stepped past the hanging clothes, he found himself in a narrow passageway, seemingly between the walls of the apartment building. Naked wooden beams and posts surrounded him, foam insulation sprayed on either side of him. A bare lightbulb hung from a ceiling too high to see and disappeared into the darkness above him.

Sam slowly progressed down the claustrophobic hall, noting that he could hear sounds of the party through the thin walls. He came upon a rickety wooden staircase that ascended upwards into darkness. As he took careful step after careful step, he could hear sounds of other apartments now, horror movies being watched, other parties, bed creaks and moaning. He climbed the stairs for what seemed like a lot longer than he should have been able to, but he pressed on in the dim light.

Sam came suddenly to a dead-end. Was this it? Was this just some strange coincidence that led him to a wall of nothingness? It took a while for Sam to realize that he hadn't come to a dead end, but that the stairs simply turned to the left, as if it was spiraling up around the perimeter of the apartment building.

Sam continued to climb, this time in near darkness. As he stepped through the murky black, he wondered if this was some cruel trick - that eventually up here in the dark recesses of the building the stairs would just give in and he would tumble down to his doom, fated to be rot in the walls like some rat. But the stairs were study, and Sam continued to climb.

As time passed, Sam began to get confused. Was he really so drunk that he couldn't tell how far he had walked? He wasn't sure how many steps a flight of stairs would take to traverse the side of a building, but he had been walking for what seemed like a while, and he had already turned with the stairs five times now. Sam figured that he was, at the very least, above the entrance to the corridor, but the sheer height of it didn't quite make sense. He felt as if he had been walked up ten to fifteen stories worth of stairs, but the building was only four stories tall. He had made it a point to count out how many floors of windows the building had on multiple occasions.

Just as he was about to give up and turn back, through the darkness came a faint light, as if it was creeping through a door just slightly ajar. Suddenly Sam's resolve was back and he climbed on, slowing his pace so he would make less noise as he approached the pinnacle of the stairs. As the distance between them shrank, Sam noticed that it didn't seem to be made of porcelain. It was a bit too shiny, I looked more like polished bone.

Sam nearly laughed out loud at this thought, thinking it would be too absurd and impossible to find a bone large enough to carve an entire door out of. Just then, he could hear a strange chanting going on behind the door. As he neared, he attempted to slowly peek through the door, but leaning forward put off his sense of balance and as he stuck his hands out to brace himself, he ended up pushing the door in forcefully and stumbling inside.

Once inside, it took his eyes a while to adjust. Bright lights were directed towards the middle of the room where a metal table lay. After Sam rubbed his eyes, he found he was in a room with a tall, hooded man with deep-set cheekbones and old eyes. The man stepped foward and extended his hand. "Welcome Sam. I see you finally found the door you've been looking for."

" do you know my name?" Sam looked around, suddenly noticing that there were others in the room, all cloaked with their hoods obscuring their faces. "I'm really sorry to burst in like this, but you see.."

"Oh, we know all about you Sam," spoke the tall man. He motioned for Sam to follow him and walked towards the center of the room. "We know that you've been dying to know what this room is, and how it can exist where it does." Sam was speechless. "Do you know what floor you're on, Sam?"

"Uh, I dunno," stammered Sam, taken aback by the tall man's knowledge of him. "We're in the attic, above the sixth floor?"

"Nice try, but how about the thirtieth floor?" The tall man smiled, the creases of his lips extending a bit farther up on his face than a normal human's smile should Sam stepped back, hesitantly.

The tall man continued. "Sam, I could try to explain to you how the door works, or how we're on the thirtieth floor in a four story building, or I could even explain to you what new door we're actually trying to open, but instead.." Sam suddenly realized that two of the shadowy figures had snuck behind him, and they quickly grabbed him by his arms.

Sam struggled to free himself, but someone else had already grabbed his shoulders and was trying to hold him still. Then there were hands on either side of his head, and a sharp sting in his neck. His captors suddenly let go. Sam stumbled forward, then backwards, and suddenly found himself sitting in a chair. "But instead," the tall man took a step closer to Sam, "I'm just going to show you."

"Sam, you are going to be part of this little experiment tonight. If you hadn't realized, it's just about midnight, so we really should get started." The tall man reached into his cape and slowly drew out a long, thin knife. "I apologize that the drug we just gave you only interrupts your voluntary motor control. You won't be able to talk, or scream, for that matter, but the unfortunately part is that you will most definitely be able to feel."

Sam's body felt like a dead weight. His head became heavy and he sank deeper into his chair. He tried to scream for help, but his body wouldn't listen. Two of the figures lifted Sam up and started to carry him towards the center of the room. "Well, Sam, it's time for us to say good-bye. We really hate to do this to you, but you know what they say, curiosity skinned the cat. Yes, yes, I know the saying is that curiosity killed the cat, but I've never met a creature that really survives too long after being skinned alive, you know? Say 'meow.'"