Intro to Art

There’s a faint nose in there still, but I like it SO MUCH BETTER now. Also, I just took my Intro to Art PRACTICE Exam and scored 97%! It doesn’t tell me which questions are wrong though! So I don’t know what to study to get it to 100%. 😥

I really enjoyed taking Introduction to Art. I have learned so much, because I wasn’t classically trained when I started my career as an artist and there was a lot that I didn’t know. And Art is a special interest of mine, but there’s so much to know that I would often get overwhelmed and not know where to start. This class has given me a really firm foundation of knowledge and I’m so happy I took it.

All the Things She Said

Sometimes I am completely blind to social boundaries. I’m unsure of which things are okay to say to siblings versus friends versus parents versus acquaintances versus a married friend. Sometimes I share things that feel intimate or personal to others but don’t feel that way to me. Sometimes I can say something that I 100% believe in that moment… but later I don’t think the same way. Sometimes I don’t know that it seems like I’m flirting with someone until days later, years in some cases. Sometimes I am in a comfortable place physically and forget that I’m not around emotionally safe people.

It’s like if everything you could say in a given social situation was on a string and all of the strings were tangled together in a messy ball. You go to teach for the “right” string and you end up with something else altogether.

If you’re ever in a social situation and you hear someone say something and you think to yourself, “there’s no way she didn’t know that was inappropriate.” There is a way. It’s called being autistic.

❤ Liz

The actual paintable area of these postcards is a slightly tall square of approximately 3.75 inches. I wasn’t really used to painting on surfaces that small when I started and wasn’t sure I’d be able to work a lot on them, but I have proven myself wrong.

Check out postcard 20!

The light refraction off the ocean water is new for me. I don’t recall ever trying to paint that effect before. I really like the way it turned out, though, and these little postcards are a great exercise in trusting myself.

Not to mention, every day that I work on these little postcards is a day that I am grateful to practice art and relish the joy and calm that it brings me.

After twenty days the box that these Pantone postcards came in is getting a little weak. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing duck tape on it in the future.

❤ Liz Zook

Things Change, People Change

I’m 18 days into the 100 day challenge that I decided to do…

When I’m not planning out every detail or constructing each piece mentally before ever touching a brush to canvas, I don’t make pop art. When it’s just me and one of these postcards and I only have five or ten minutes before class, it’s something else altogether. It’s been very freeing, not being constricted to only one style. I don’t know what kind of girl I’ll be at the end of this, but I don’t think I’ll just be “the pop art girl” anymore.

🖤 Liz Zook

It Is Only Day 7 and I Am Already Exhausted

Autism Awareness Month, the month of April, is exhausting. I am autistic. I am also the parent of an autistic child. I am not, however, an “Autism Mom.” I am just an autistic person raising another autistic person.

I can’t speak for other autistic people, nor would I want to. I am not a racial minority, and I’m not nonverbal–most of the time. So I definitely cannot speak to those lived experiences.

But here are some blanket autism facts about all autistic people, that a lot of allistic people often aren’t aware of:

  • Autistic children grow into autistic adults. Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Liz, an autistic 38 year old.
  • Autism is not an intellectual disability itself, though it can cooccur with intellectual disabilities.
  • Autism is genetic. “80% of autistic risk” and I hate how this is worded “is traced to inherited genes.” (And that’s a stat from Autism Speaks–who I loathe, but you can google it. There are other sources that say pretty much the same thing. Some of them are medical journals. But I don’t have the attention span to go through those right now.)
  • Autism is not a spectrum that everyone is on. It is a spectrum only for those of us that are autistic, because we all present our autistic traits differently. Not everyone is “a little autistic.”

So why is Autism Awareness Month so exhausting for me an many other autistic people? Most of us are Autistic Advocates all year round just by existing. However, Autism Awareness Month is a special kind of hell presented by friends and family who are well-meaning, but can still be harmful. I have seen so many of my peers, professional artists, donate paintings to, or take part in, fundraising events raising money for autistic people. Yet, there are no autistic people involved in the event or the organizations that they’re raising money for! Then I go to the websites of the organizations and they usually have totally cringe language like autism is a thing that you can get and how it is so difficult for families who are “inflicted with autism”. Gag me.

Then I see celebrities who I respect and admire giving money to organizations that were started by a father who once said that he wished his autistic child had drowned. (Here’s the research for that.) And then there are people sharing puzzle pieces and fundraising efforts by Autism Speaks–a hate group more than anything. (I’m really way too tired to go into all of that. There is a great article by the Washington Post about it, though. You can read that here.)

I am asking for one thing from the people who want to be involved in Autism Awareness Month and be supportive of Autistic people. Before you share or post or get involved, do your research. Make sure the organizations that you’re working with and/or promoting are actually run by, and are actually run for, autistic people. Check the language, check who is on the board, check whether the wording is centered around the parents or is actually centered around the autistic people.

Liz Zook
(name might soon be changed)

New 100 Day Challenge

I bought a box of 100 Pantone postcards. I’m going to try to paint one every day for 100 days. Drawing randomly and getting inspiration from the color. (Or Pinterest if inspiration doesn’t strike on its own.) Today I used Posca acrylic paint markers. (I’ll probably use them most days, because they glide on these postcards!

Postcard #1 by Liz Zook

I’m going to try to share the postcards even when I don’t like them, because practice is practice and it’s supposed to be a fun 10-15 minute exercise, not a serious piece of art.

Goodbye So Soon, Ko-fi?

Oh yes. It is already time to say goodbye to the Patreon/Kickstarter hybrid that is Ko-fi? Why? I can’t post at least half of my body of work. I’m not talking about my physical body. (Though it is quite good.) I’m talking about my artistic body of work.

“Ko-fi cannot be used as the venue for sexually explicit or adult-themed content (including links to or from such content). This includes, but is not limited to:

Pornography, nudity, depictions of rape, incest, bestiality and any other adult or obscene content including implied, suggested or censored in any form such as imagery (including illustrative, videos or literature).

Censoring otherwise adult content is also strictly prohibited. This includes:

Censoring otherwise adult content with emoji’s, illustrations, blurring, or other methods;

Covering nudity with body parts or objects;

Offering uncensored versions of content to subscribers or at third-party sites or links.

I’ve done censored exhibits; exhibits in public spaces where I wasn’t allowed to show pieces with nudity or whatever. I didn’t like it then, but I had goals that I wanted to achieve and lists I wanted to check off. Well… the only goal I have this time is to enjoy myself. That doesn’t mean I’ve lost an opportunity. That means this wasn’t an opportunity at all.

On to the next!

❤ Liz Zook

An Open Letter to My GP

Dear Doc,

It was really dismissive of you to say, when I presented you with information about POTS, that it’s “really popular right now.”

Artist Liz Zook and her rescue cat Callie.

The thing about diseases becoming “really popular,” and maybe this isn’t something they teach in medical school, is that most Americans live in such poor health and have so little access to healthcare that they will take any information they can get. Whether that information comes from TikTok or google, they feel it’s urgent when they do find information that might pertain to them, because it’s been so long since they’ve had real help. And some people have been so dismissed and discouraged so often by doctors that it’s a courageous act to even present new information to their doctors. Usually this dismissal leads to us figuring out on our own how to mitigate symptoms. When our symptoms eventually become too much to handle on our own and we break down to seek help, knowing that help could end up being detrimental to our mental well-being, we are berated for not coming in to a doctor sooner.

Are diseases becoming “so popular right now” because everyone in America is a hypochondriac? Or is it more likely that people who have all the symptoms of these diseases are just now finding out about them through social media because doctors are so dismissive and healthcare is so hard to come by? I’m thinking basic logic tells you it’s the latter.

And why is it an inconvenience for you to check for the symptoms of any disease that any patient presents? Isn’t it literally your job to make sure that we’re in the best health we can be? What’s the problem with running down a list of symptoms with your patient and keeping your personal opinion about the popularity of a disease to yourself? Wouldn’t it be better to at least check? Even if the only reason to check the symptoms is to put them at ease, isn’t that still the right thing to do?

And just so you know, autistic people in general are already scared of doctors. We are already dismissed and treated as less than by our peers, our loved ones, and our friends. So for an autistic person to confide in you with symptoms is a big fucking deal. You should feel honored. In fact, you should feel honored that anyone in America trusts any doctor enough to treat them at all, but I guess they’re too busy being dismissing our concerns.


Just Another American That’s Only Allotted 15 Minutes To Talk About All of My Health Problems From the Previous Year

When I Go Dark…

The Pop Art Girl, Liz Zook, in her studio.

No one has ever told me that they expect certain things from me… on my public instragram, I mean. (People have—in plenty of way at other times and in other places—let me know exactly what they expect from me.) But I still feel this sort of pressure to get reactions or to sell. And when I don’t get the reactions that I thought I was going to get I get really down on myself as a creative. It’s ridiculous. I know it’s ridiculous. I love my work and I love what I do. But there’s an entire extra layer as both a woman and an autistic when it comes to feedback and expectations.

Three or four years ago I was at my career peak. And I enjoyed None. Of. It. I had paid exhibitions. I was selling original paintings at $1,200 each. I was doing goooooood y’all. But there was no joy in those accomplishments. I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be an artist or that I wasn’t on the right path. But when I’m not creating I get sad, too. I was so confused and overwhelmed.

Through therapy and my autistic diagnosis, I realized I had been in burnout for a while. How long exactly I’m not sure. Every time I tried to pull myself out over the next few years I went further back down. Masking and forcing yourself out of burnout takes so fucking much energy. I can’t explain it to allistic people. I know allistic people experience burnout, but it’s just not on the same level. I mean, psychologically it is not. Otherwise, autistic people would not get autism diagnoses. (And at the same time I was going through the first few years of living with a chronic illness.)

So, now, these days, when I feel that sort of expectation rising I try to step away from my public Instagram. That’s one of the reasons I have a private Instagram, too. I don’t know if anyone was interested in an explanation. (Autistic people tend to over-explain.) But I wanted to explain why I go dark when I go dark.

I would like to get to a point where burnout isn’t an issue. But there’s really not enough research into autistic burnout or resources for autistic people to get through burnout. It can last years. So I have to try to mitigate it in any way I can. Sometimes that means completely stepping away from art and sometimes it means making art for my consumption only, instead of art for posting.

So I went dark on Insta and TikTok and plan on staying dark through the next week. I want to see if it helps. If it does help then I can add it to my Burnout Mitigation Tooblox.

Thanks for listening.

❤ Liz Zook