The News from the Workbench: December 10, 2016

EBJ Photography 2016

EBJ Photography 2016

Today began as so many mornings do, with the blaring noise of the alarm breaking the cool serenity of slumber. Once the hopes of further excursions in the dream-world subsided, I was able to rise from my bed and look out on the world in all its glory, lit by the soft morning rays of sun cutting through the icy winter chill. After my morning run, somewhat longer today at around five miles, I was sufficiently awake, present, and chipper to begin working once more. But this morning was different, because when I walked out the door this morning, I was eager to get going and start working on my writing and my musical work for the day. I haven’t felt this ambitious or motivated in six to eight months.

Today, I thought I would touch on some of what has made me return to the basics, the fundamentals of my art and also what has allowed me to keep going after all the struggle and pain of this year. Only recently have I been able to return to the process of my art, my writing, and my music after months of strife, lack of motivation, and insecurity with where my career path has been leading me. Though it is hard for me to admit, I think that my personal life and the circumstances of my life have affected my work and artistic life over the course of this year, something I will always be ashamed of.

The last months have been filled with a sort of longing for the piece of me that makes me unique, what makes me essentially me. Every hour of every day has been spent in search of something that can’t be found, unsure of the road forward or of how to create the life I want to live and the art I want to make. It has taken me months to realize that this is a journey that for all of us is uncertain and never-ending. Upon reflection, I have been able to find new comfort both in the doubt and unease and in the small daily routines that center my mind and push the days onward.

It has been through reading the works of great authors, listening to the music of great musicians, and admiring the artwork of the masters that I have been able to find my voice again. What I have realized is that this voice I have found within myself can only truly be found in the tireless awareness of myself and of my actions. True, my path is deeply intertwined with the stories and paths of many others, but only in self-knowledge and personal discovery may I find the stories which must be told, the ideas that have yet to hatch, and the memories that are so crucial in my psyche.

In the last week I have had a much needed reprieve from the day-to-day busy work and lists of tasks and appointments. Time spent alone—thinking, observing, and remembering—has reawakened my soul. I no longer search for the unique energy of my actions and thoughts or for where my path should lead; I now search within my own mind and body for that true self that we must all find inside. My true self drives me towards my passions and I have now found the motivation to work once more. Motivation comes not from how I think I am perceived, but in what really matters to me.

So I read, I write, I play music, and I think. My voice has returned for now and I must remember how I got here. I must recognize that when one gets past the petty, menial, daily slog, inner truth may emerge and the drive for love, storytelling, and immersive beauty will return.

That’s the news from the workbench this week…

-Ethan Brown Jones

Lost Words, Empty Promises

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Source: topwalls.net

I didn’t think I would care this much, that the words of my life would be so significant. When it comes to words, I always used to believe in a sort of unalterable importance. There was this sort of mystical, unravished honesty to all words. I guess my beliefs go back to a time where words still meant something, a time still remembered in the trivial ideals of modern novels. Once, despite the corruption and dishonesty that plague our society, words had meaning, had weight and consequences. No longer is this true. As an entire country has been rearranged in the modern, technological age, the once-assumed significance of language has been forgotten. And so, as words lose more and more of their influence, I have realized I care about this loss of verbal and linguistic sincerity on a much deeper level than I once thought.

Take the phrase “I love you” for instance. At one time in my life, I believed these the most consequential and truthful words a being could utter. But as so much else in the world has changed, so has the depth of this phrase. Where once these words meant a depth of love so intense that it almost pained an individual, now they are used passively and unthinkingly.

This is not to say that certain virtues don’t exist in the lack of sincerity our words now hold. Far fewer of us are hurt by a nasty insult or a fight among friends. They didn’t mean it we tell ourselves; what does it matter anyway? We are probably right in some sense, what’s the use in getting overly emotional over a couple of words thrown without thought? Especially with the speed of life today and the growing number of responsibilities placed upon us, what’s the point in placing meaning behind words, our own or otherwise?

However there is an aspect that seems to be overlooked in all this: the unique emotional experience words once opened us up to. Where once we read books for the beauty of the language they contained, we now seem content with the same storyline regurgitated over and over. I pity the writers of today too though. How can today’s writers compete in the career marketplace when they actually take the time to write something decent and meaningful? They have to produce quantity to make a living, and inevitably, quality falls through the cracks.

As I write this draft I realize how I dramatize this subject. I’m still writing for emotion and meaning, others must be too. Yet it is hard not to feel like a lone ranger on the final frontier when I look at the new best sellers list and wonder where quality writing died and when meaningless stories became perfectly acceptable. I just hope there are others out there on this night that are working equally as intensely on this same craft of writing.

Good writing to me isn’t even so much about the writing itself. Good writing is about passion, emotional experience, and simply taking the time to sit and think before thoughts are even put into words. Half the struggle of writing, at least for me, is just finding the motivation to sit alone for a while, contemplating experience, life, knowledge, and everything in between.

Writing can even be as simple as writing a letter once and a while (assuming I’m not the only one still writing those!). Journaling has so much to do with the practice of writing too. If we just had a few more people in this world sit down and think about their life, actions, and words I guarantee we could fix so many of today’s ailments. Maybe it is simply naïve optimism, but I truly believe that with a little more writing and a few less empty words, we could become a better people.

I once believed in that indescribable power of language, but it seems now to be just and empty promise, words lost in the space between reality and utopia. One day, hopefully that promise can regain its prowess. Just a few thoughts from a writer on a dark night…

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

A Perceived Reality

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Sitting, watching, rolling along in the world, people go by, places disappear, and we never wake up.

Lounging, observing, living life to its fullest, people go by, places disappear, and we will always remember.

A tree can be many things. A tree can be a botanical oasis, a deciduous wonder, or a sculpture of nature. A tree can be a companion, a goldenrod firework, or simply just that which it is, eternally a tree.

Driving along a highway, one’s eyes dart from the roadway sporadically, leering at a passerby, observing a provocation of mild interest. But do we really reminisce or even simply ponder what we are actually observing?

Being an artist, a musician, a designer, or a writer, one learns early on that perception is paramount to one’s own art in addition to one’s reception and comprehension of others’ art. For an artist, it eclipses purely the art world and so perception and observation become the rawest essence of daily life.

Perception is fundamentally applicable for all though, not simply the artist. From the way we perceive sounds and lights and noises and colors, to the way we observe the more subtle and inconspicuous world of emotions, personalities, ideals, and aspirations, the observations we collect and the assessed perceptions we feed off of fuel our minds and our lives more than we can begin to cognize.

And so for some the tree may be just a tree, a biological organism complete with cells, molecules, and a carbon-based composite we call wood. But to the lucky few among us, that tree is something more, something existentially greater than originally assumed. That tree is a manifestation of beauty, courage, joy, transcendentality, and most of all, vivacious, unabashed life. That tree may be gold or green or even red, but that tree is a pictorialization of life and death, pain and resilience, and most importantly, love and loss.

So perceive life how you will, but comprehend and discourse with it each day. For each day is uniquely divergent from the last; lessons are learned, people go by, places disappear, and we will always remember.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Scotland, The Cutest Place on Earth

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When I arrived two days ago in Edinburgh, Scotland, cute was not the original word I would have used to describe it. Dirty, loud, foreign, these are closer to what I said when I first started walking around the foggy streets. But my thoughts on this place have changed. Scotland is actually pretty adorable. Between the incredible cathedrals and museums, the gorgeous gardens and parks, and the cute Scottish boys, Scotland is cute in the best way possible.

Since the reason that I’m on this trip is that my dad is leading it as a Study Abroad program for the University of Colorado, yesterday we went off in pairs to explore, discover, and get lost in (literally) Edinburgh and Scottish culture. And what I found was that each part of the city was different, incredible and full of beauty in its own unique way. The people were different, the food was different, even the building were very different. And it’s all pretty much gorgeous.

Toady we went off to explore again, this time with specific aims to find out more about a certain piece of Scottish culture. My group went off first to the Scott Monument, a statue and surrounding tower paying tribute to the great author, Sir Walter Scott. Next, we went to the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland, which houses all the portraits of the Scottish Royalty, as well as paintings and photographs of Scottish history, sports, authors, and artists. And last, we went off to the National Gallery of Scotland, which has a collection of other Scottish artwork, landscapes, portraits, and even impressionist paintings. All were beautiful, although one can only look at some many royal portraits before they want to run away screaming. Through the art, we learned not only about the people within the art, but also the painters, the history, and the countless stories told through each and every piece. The thing about being here in Scotland is that every piece of this place, every building and every street has meaning. Every person in each of the paintings was important in Scottish history and helped to make it the country it is today.

But to me at least, the real value of Scotland is that it’s not only historically and culturally relevant, but it also houses a level of beauty and aesthetic importance that brings in the many thousands each year. Scotland’s “cuteness” lies in its ability to captivate and inspire people. It lies in the mountains and glens of the highlands, and in each and every churchyard. Each park that I walk through every day houses a new beauty and “cuteness.” Each person (especially the boys) that I meet here is adorably cute in there own inevitable and very Scottish way.

As I was walking through one of the courtyards of a church today, I saw an adorable boy, apparently on holiday to Scotland. The churchyard was quiet and solemn, so was I, so was the boy. But there were was a hidden exuberance and lovely peacefulness between all of us. There was a shared charm , a living existence, and it was beautiful. That’s why I love Scotland, because its real, because its honest, because it’s cute!

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

I’m an Artist, and I Always Will Be

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I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, and I was thinking about all the ways that I define myself. I think of myself as a fashion designer, as a pianist, as a blogger, as an interior designer, as a landscape architect, and as a fashion expert. And I thought to myself the other day, what would I call myself? Who am I? What defines me overall as a person? And there it was, as clear as day; I am an artist! I design, I play, I write, and I inspire- the definition of an artist. But what does that mean to me? Why am I an artist? It means to me that I look at things in a different light than most people. It means that I look for the beauty and creativity in every part of life. It means I have a big personality and even bigger sass. It means I feel emotions on a deeper level. It means that I take time to think over my life whenever I can. It means I can love someone forever and never let go. And most of all, It means I am me and nobody can change that.

I am and artist because I love fashion, clothes and style. Because I love designing, color, and personality. Because I love writing, journaling, and reading. Because I can feel every emotion that every piece of music, artwork, and literature feels and evokes. I am artist because I love what I do, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world. Art shows me things: values of life, feelings of anger, resentment, sadness, joy, inspiration, and incredible heartache, and love beyond reason. I’m moved, heartbroken, and elated all at the same time.

I forget who I am, yet I feel a deeper understanding of who that is. I am an artist because I want to feel that I can and inspire emotion in others. I love being able to make something that defines me, every single day. I like to be known for things people love, and things that people will remember and cherish. I make clothes that I hope will mold a person into something of beauty and expression. I write pieces that I hope will be read and remembered. I play music that I hope to inspire and evoke feelings with. I am artist to help others define themselves, to help people remember, and to help people move on.

Truly, being an artist for me is about reaching the inner core of me and pulling out the raw emotions and ideas that define me. I put my ideas to paper, to fabric, to sheet music, to my house, to my yard, to my life. I hope to gain a better understanding of every piece of the world around me. I hope to refine my mind, better myself, and become so sure of myself that nothing will ever bring me down.

I love to see the spark in a person’s eye when they can see every part of an art piece laid out before them. I love to see the creativity churning in an artists mind. And I love to feel the satisfaction of creating a masterpiece of art. That’s why I’m an artist, and I always will be.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones