I Was A Teenage Werewolf

I am not overly nostalgic about my teen years, my niece turning 13 last month reminded me of that. She and I talked briefly about what it’s like at school these days. 7th grade pecking orders, puberty, mean girls, bullying (only this time with death threats because the internet has made all of that so much worse). The timing sounds about right, 13 and beyond were brutal. When I look at myself back then—usually a visit to Dad’s house, looking at graduation photos frozen in time behind the china closet glass—I wonder how any of these pictures can make someone happy, taken at a time when I was so miserable. I feel different in all ways possible now, so it’s hard to know who that person is anymore.

Long before I knew the incredible strength of being weird and following one’s own path, I felt the traumatic pain of being awkwardly different.

When I’ve come across the occasional photo of my 13-year old self, I used to only see a frizzy mound with braces and hair—so much hair—and I remember how hideous I looked and felt back then. Then there was the dysfunctional home life tacked on. That didn’t go unnoticed, as it was the perfect blend to make a kid become the perfect target for teasing. A self-conscious, sweaty, hairy, frizzy, socially-awkward, mess. Even though I may not consciously be thinking of those years, they left a fair amount of invisible scars.

Next #beautifulmonster in progress ⚡️

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Those battle scars are how I got here today though, and I gained insurmountable strength and empathy as a result. Since life is the most awesome it’s ever been, it’s bittersweet to think back to that time now. I know if it weren’t for that teenage hell, I wouldn’t be the adult I am today. That’s a hard trade. You really can’t be a badass warrior if you haven’t been to battle and slayed some real life dragons. Aside from all the painful, embarrassing (and downright humiliating) memories of my 13-year old self, I admire her greatly for sticking through it.

Can only be normal for so long

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I think of teenagers as werewolves (girls and their periods, hello moon). All that growing, changing, unwanted hair, mood swings, morphing, shape shifting; the blood, sweat and tears; the darkness and light. This article just popped up on NPR:

It's difficult to have a teenager's mind. The brain develops rapidly during the adolescent years, which partially explains why teens experience anger, sadness and frustration so intensely

Monster ref #streetfinds

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Since old feelings were being summoned up as a result, I wrote a quick letter to my inner teenage monster in order to face her pestering presence:

Hey kid, love ya, but can you do me a favor and please comb that indeterminable mass of frizz shaped like a Christmas tree on top of your head? It’s also totally okay to start shaving your legs now, above the knee, but I’m not here to body shame you. Seriously though, things are gonna get good. So good. Life-changing, mind-blowing good. You wouldn’t even believe me if I told you how good life can get, but believe me. Good. It’s just that it’s going to take, like, enormous work and a few coupla decades! You’ll suffer quite a bit, but no big. You got this. Well, you will eventually get this. It will make you stronger. I wish I could go back in time and give you the tools needed to not suffer as hard, but what can you do. It’s a tough trade considering how life will turn out after all that school crap is over. Stop caring what other people think (don’t worry though, you’ll get over that too) they’ll have their own monsters to deal with. Trust yourself. Be okay with being the weirdo that you are, make lots of art. You will eventually have all the answers you need. Other people are pretty stupid, and you will eventually not look like a massive ball of fuzz and teeth. I promise.

Late night note to self

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This week’s monster is dedicated to my teenage self, my niece, and any other weirdo teen having a tough time out there. It was also inspired by Duckie from Pretty in Pink, specifically this scene when he’s moping around about Andie listening to The Smiths.

Monster: Teenage Werewolfster
Description: a moper, doper, and all around gloomster because the world is only as big as the inside of their head. Sometimes they wear all black, sometimes they wear bright colors. It really doesn’t matter what they look like, or if they’re smiling on the outside, or what music they listen to, the insides are all the same; feral and frustrated as their internal wires are being tampered with. Sometimes Wolfster still visits as an adult, your moody gloomy old self moping in the corner. Tends to pop up at a time when your self-esteem is most fragile. They’re annoying and kind of a drag. Be nice to this monster though, they really need it, even though they act like they don’t

BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS, MILESTONES & THE METAPHORIC WOODS

BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS is a new project exploring the ups, downs & in-betweens of this emotional life. We’re gonna feel those darn feelings and draw them out, making them into something tangible and less destructive. The title is an amalgamation of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s biography Savage Beauty (after finding a free copy on the curb), Millicent Patrick’s epic Gill-man (omg this photo), and Husky Rescue’s super pretty Beautiful My Monster. This project is about the beautiful, ugly and tragic monsters creeping around inside all of us.

 

Thoreau peeking #beard #animation #illustration #beautifulmonsters #newproject

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My own time out in making this artwork had me reading Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, which was said to be “part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and (to some degree) manual for self-reliance.” [1] Though Thoreau was controversial to some, who can argue that taking a little time out for yourself isn’t important; when you take time to examine your thoughts and feelings you can find gems in there.

 

Life In The Woods #henrydavidthoreau #cabin #interiors #walden #sketch #beautifulmonsters #newproject

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The monster is never just there where we think he is. What is truly monstrous is our cowardice and sloth.

Much like Thoreau, I had to go into the woods, take a step back from all the noise to investigate my own head, and plant seeds for the next steps in my art.

As a milestone birthday approaches, I did something I have never done before: slowed down and invested time solely on art. What emerged is BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS, a playful look into emotion. Putting this project together wasn’t easy for me at first. I spent a lot of time creating stacks of drawings but not finishing them; obsessing too much and trying to talk myself out of it (it’s so easy to go down the road of “what’s the point? if you think about anything long enough).

I was getting too distracted by news and politics (like the rest of us), feeling enormous resistance to share the work or talk about it with anyone else; slowing myself down by cramming too much into one idea. Fear morphed into a slothlike creature and too much time was passing by.

To quote Steven Pressfield from the The War of Art, “the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” It’s time to push this monster out of its own slothy gates of hell and move forward into the unknown:

Monster: Slothus Goeth Nowhereicus
Description: the slothy resistance that keeps you away from real movement or change, dragging its feet in place forever. Slothus Goeth Nowhereicus would love for you to stay in your pj’s all day, every day, and sink into the couch until you’re molded together as one. Be wary of its Snuggie™–wrapped, cheeto-eating charms. You’re going nowhere, my friend. Get out into the real woods and take an actual walk; the longer you wait for everything to be absolutely perfect, the longer ol’ Slothy sticks around.

Beautiful Monsters: New Project

Working on new project #beautifulmonsters

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Creating monsters + learning how to defeat them #saturday

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The weirdos are coming! New project coming soon #beautifulmonsters

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Week 39-52: A New Hope

Oh 2016, what a complicated beast you were. You took away great artists. You exhausted election coverage and then provided devastating results. You delivered heartbreaking news from all over the world. I wanted to avoid repeating the masses by simply stating “you need to end,” but the passing of real life Princess Leia (rebel leader against a fascist regime)—along with her mother merely one day later—may have been my breaking point for throwing in the 2016 towel.

“You broke my heart. You broke my heaaart!” (said like Douglas Reyholm)

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The drawing above illustrates where my head was at right after the election, which was not a good place at all. I’ll keep a lid on politics, but a silver lining is how much I learned this year. I learned a great deal of compassion for myself (which is difficult when you’re super hard on yourself) and a great deal for others. I also worked an enormous amount on my art and illustration, and feel like a different person because of it.

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.

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(I hear Rebel Girl when I look at this. Photo credit by Anne Jenkins)

A new year gives me a renewed sense of hope. The important thing about hope though, is that hope needs a plan. We can’t passively drift down the current from one year to the next and expect anything to change. In the spirit of Star Wars, “do or do not, there is no try.” I am kicking off the new year by asking myself: what can I actively work on? What is within my power to make 2017 a better year for myself and others?

161214_Feelocism_2

(new project in progress)

Good things happened too, of course. I covered as Art Director for Tablet Magazine, May through December, and worked with some really stellar folks. I attended Creative Works in Memphis and met great designers. I illustrated the Gender Cards for NARAL, which was not only one of my biggest art projects to date, but they even sold out and are being reprinted again in the new year. People seem to find my Instagram and either follow me or commission my work, for which I am immensely grateful, especially given that I post so little (thank you so much to everyone who reached out this year! I plan to post more in 2017). My MFBA class—led by illustrator & podcaster extraordinaire Andy J. Miller—is coming to a close and it was a total life/art changing experience. I’m excited to share this new project on the complicated topic of ’emotions’. Here’s a sneak peek:

161214_Feelocism_3

(new project in progress)

BeautifulMonsters_title
To wrap up 2016 on an upbeat note, TV shows of note: Fleabag, The OAInsecureMr. RobotLady Dynamite, Take My Wife, and Atlanta. A quick sketch from my favorite scene in S2 Mr. Robot):

Alexa

Week 16-38: Where The Wild Things Went

Last time I blogged we left off with drawing prompts and sea monsters. That was April and it’s almost October! Since then I have illustrated Diana Vreeland for Harper’s Bazaar Español, painted over 54 portraits of trailblazing women for NARAL Pro-Choice America’s playing deck Gender Cards (including our next president, Hillary Rodham Clinton!), illustrated a unicorn t-shirt for PBS Idea Channel, updated this website, started a 16-week art class led by Andy J. Miller (Creative Pep Talk), and became an art director for Tablet Magazine. Whew! My #Sketchbook365 project had to take a backseat, though I really miss the extra time for sketching.

I wish I was a animal.

Before you correct my lack of the indefinite article “an”, this was overheard on the subway. Tim came home with the story and we’ve been repeating it ever since. “I wish I was a animal.” The woman who said this was referring to the desire for an easier life, to which another passenger replied, “being an animal doesn’t make it any easier, you would always be worried about survival.”

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(the real beast)

160920_artsparrow_tiger5Sometimes I feel like an animal. Artists worry a great deal about survival; can we make the art we truly enjoy and still pay the bills? I’m drawn to the animal world and their symbolism in art, so I figured the best way to bring this website back is with some philosophical questioning and a little pink tiger zest:160920_artsparrow_tiger19124034658660461083-account_id=1

Speaking of wild beasts, I fell in love with this horse pin from the Rhinebeck Antique Market which feeds right into my obsession with flying animals and their apparent hypermobile joints:

horse_pin

Week 9-15: Beautiful My Monster

Strange craving to watch Creature from the Black Lagoon last week…even stranger was his graceful swimming moves! He was ridiculously obsessed with Kay + a total stalking creepo the entire movie. Beautiful costume though.

After the “matchbox made into a bedroom” prompt I became infatuated with tiny houses and have been playing around with diormmas ever since. Extra inspired after seeing teeny architectural models at Cooper Hewitt + the work of Talwst at Spring/Break Art Show. More three-dimensional art to come.

LET HER EAT CAKE!

My birthday was a bit of a wash; I had a fever on the day-of but still managed to eat cake through my tears.

64/365: It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to #sketchbook365 #art #illustration

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Now you're awaking; it's so beautiful, my monster. (Husky Rescue)

Helping drawingz by sitting on them

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Week 8: Godzilla + Things

I just added 642 Tiny Things To Draw into the #sketchbook365 mix; it’s the perfect miniature version for traveling. Also, how funny would Godzilla be in a pair of little heeled boots?

Week 6 & 7: Playing House

Home is abstract idea. It's a setting; a state of mind. (George Carlin)

Playing a little #sketchbook365 catchup (aka. drawings created in-between paying gigs). There have been requests for prints, which is exciting and definitely coming soon! I was having fun with this theme; perhaps I spend too much time on Pinterest, or maybe it’s because I have been rearranging my home office (yet again) and editing down to the bare minimum where space is limited. It could even be that I am missing my Apartment Therapy work (had to take a hiatus to focus on art). Either way, I know home is wherever you make it, so why not make it beautiful?

@anthropologie meets @thejpetermancompany

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An instagram post from last March; I never did buy that junk yard chandelier:

Junkyard find #gowanus

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Week 5: Do You Believe in Magic?

Rabbits are guides into the shadow world, where our personal fears lie.

“When the rabbit shows up it is time to examine those deep reflexive fears that hold you back from growing. Do you keep bounding for the safety of your old patterns every time something new or challenging presents itself? If the answer is yes, the rabbit asks you to face your fears with compassion for yourself. You must accept that it is part of human nature to feel fear at times, but also believe that our fears need not paralyze our growth and movement.”–Ina Woolcott

Week 4: The Truth Is Out There

Maybe we're just beasts with big brains.

This has been one hell of an X-Files week. The revival premiered Sunday, January 24th, one day after being holed up from the first NYC “blizzard” of 2016. In preparation, we finished watching Season 8 & 9 of X-Files – painfully, since we could never get through them before (nothing will make you miss Seasons 1-5 more than the later seasons!) I love the show regardless though, and Scully + Mulder are in my top favorite TV characters of all time. I used my fandom of X-Files as art inspiration, which could possibly Tooms its way into next week’s drawings as well.

I’ve become increasingly obsessed with Sasquatch. While working on an illustration of Mulder’s office, this is what I imagine he would have on his wall (my favorite is July!)