Archive for Career

Still Shot of an Autumn Morning

Beautiful, chilly Colorado morning. Hazelnut creamer in my coffee. Beloved cranking away at his craft behind me. Good music enhancing the already serene atmosphere.

I just downloaded the contents of a book I will be painting (yes, the old fashioned way) the cover for. I’ve got two other book cover commissions slated for the coming year, and I’m suddenly realizing I need to create a deadline schedule for myself so I don’t wind up buried in 18 hour days. I’ve certainly been there. I have the RSI to prove it.

I’m [more than] a little delighted to recall that one of my dream professions when I was young was to be a book cover artist. And here I am doing it. Granted, I’m just breaking into the profession, and I’ve still got a lot to learn about art. It’s a lifelong education, being an artist. There’s always something to learn — techniques, cheats, nuances… But being a Buddhist, I long ago embraced the concept of the beginner’s mind. Open eyes, open heart and a well-maintained sense of humility are essential in both pursuits.

My 2014 convention schedule has been on my mind a lot. For the first time in a while, I’m going to plan out the whole year in advance, ideally attending most of them as a professional and/or panelist. I’ve got to practice what I preach and extend my reach beyond the comforts of home. That means budgeting for a few out of state events, and assertively contacting local con organizers so that I’m not a late addition with a handwritten badge. It also means having a body of work I can display in art shows and sell in the dealers’ rooms.

Life doesn’t happen when you want it to, but it sure does respond to your proactive participation in making it do so. I’m simultaneously further ahead and behind where I thought I’d be at this point in my life. I learned a long time ago, though, that any mistakes you make can be turned into lessons if you open your mind to it. I’m not going to tell anyone how to live their life. I am going to do my best to be an example of working hard and never giving up on a dream.

Happy Saturday to you. May it be full of dreams and goals that make your skin worth living in.

Sunlight Through Leaves

Practice What You Preach. Ask For What You Need.

They always say, “Practice what you preach,” right? For once, I think “they” have it right.

I recently began hosting life drawing panels at local conventions here in Denver. I started this trend up at AnomalyCon in March. My most recent panel was at MalCon in September. This time, instead of just leaving folks alone to draw, I injected suggestions and feedback as they were working. I had a small turnout, but fantastic feedback from my attendees. One of the recommendations I gave them was to continue their good work by practicing gesture drawing at home and out in the world. Of course, I had to explain the concept. Not everyone is familiar with the term or the awesome results that can come from this practice:

A gesture drawing is work of art defined by rapid execution. Typical situations involve an artist drawing a series of poses taken by a model in a short amount of time, often as little as 30 seconds, or as long as 2 minutes. Gesture drawing is often performed as a warm-up for a life drawing session.

I ran into an amazing instructional manual a few years back, based on suggested reading for an art class I was attending, The Natural Way to Draw, by Kimon Nicolaides. The publication date — 1941. Sometimes the best things we have to learn have already been taught for ages. I recommended it to my attendees…and then remembered my 1969 edition gathering dust on one of the bookshelves in my art studio.

I have never subscribed to the adage, “Do as I say, not as I do,” so I pulled it out, dusted it off and started thumbing through the opening chapters, only to feel a little discouraged. I don’t know about you, but I don’t happen to have a live model available 24/7 at home. I live with a wonderful, talented and visually engaging human being, but with his work schedule these days, I see more of the back of his head buried in the monitor than I do his face. Don’t get me wrong. His strong work ethic, dedication to his craft, and unstoppable passion for writing make him a constant inspiration to work hard and reach for my own dreams. But I’m sure you’ll agree, at this point, he’s not the best candidate for a drawing model.

I was relaying all of these thoughts to my erstwhile model when it occurred to me that one thing has changed since Kimon Nicolaides wrote his seminal instruction booklet. He didn’t have the internet. Naturally, I bee-lined straight for the computer and Googled “drawing model.” Lo and behold, the 1st hit on my search results page was a website dedicated to supplying timed images for gesture drawing and beyond:

Figure & Gesture Drawing Tools for self-educating artists.

Just goes to prove that another thing “they” say really is true. “Ask, and ye shall receive.”

You Just Might Find…You Get What You Need

I’m home and recovering from COSine, a scifi convention based in Colorado Springs. It’s one of the smaller cons I’ve attended, but didn’t lack in quality programming. With a variety of panel topics such as The Hobbit – Is it worth three movies and three years?, Building a Relativistic Spaceship and Achieving a gender balance in Fantasy and Science Fiction (to name but a few), there was no end to fantastic discussion the whole weekend. I had no responsibilities this time around, but still wound up attending many of these, and getting some real quality time in with my fellow artists & authors as well.

That’s the beauty of small conventions. You get to meet literary celebs like Kevin J. Anderson & S. M. Stirling and have true conversations with them (yes I did, and they’re both warm, intelligent and amusing people). You also get to spend time with those folks you’re in the trenches with, comparing war wounds as well as writing and marketing strategies.

I always return exhausted and yet energized; and it’s always worth it. This weekend I came home with a couple of new friends, a small art commission, a deadline for a short story submission that I’m pretty excited about, and a plethora of ideas for panels I myself may be on at the upcoming AnomalyCon this March. I call that a win!

How was your weekend?

Sam Knight, Quincy J. Allen, Mary Kay Kare and David Boop.
The Hobbit – Is it worth three movies and three years? 2013-01-26 13.14.10

Struck by Lightning

Inspiration is not a faucet. You don’t get to turn it on and off at will. It’s more like a spring. You find it, tap it, and move on once it’s dry. As an artist with ADHD, few are more aware of how capricious our muses can be. Sometimes I have to trick myself into working. Sometimes I have to plug away like a mule while my brain plays tug-of-war with my artist’s hand. But most times, I have to “incubate” an idea for hours, days, or even weeks before my thoughts congeal into a really great idea that I can execute. Today was one of those days.

I’ve got a ton of concept work to develop before this project can see the light of day. But I’m delirious with the prospects. And I can’t wait to share the new pieces once I’m on my way. But for now, I’m going to celebrate this new zygote by surrounding myself with pencils, paper, paints, canvases, reference books, good tea and a brilliant smile on my face.

Idle Hands…

Got a little freelance work on my plate!! It’s an enchanting fantasy/sci fi comic book series called The Words, from Floating Dock Comics. We’re putting Issue 5 together right now. Of course, this means customizing my Illustrator workspace, rerecording my actions on this new computer (why didn’t I save those to the flash drive along with all my fonts?!) and wrestling with Lion for control of my keyboard shortcuts. A simple case of measure twice, cut once. Or, measure twice, cut twice, rinse, repeat, /facepalm. Nice thing is, I only have to do this once and I’m sailing through clear waters after that…

The Search Continues!

I’ve been branching outside of my skill set to find work the past few weeks. The graphic design job market is flooded with candidates, and I have to take into consideration the possibility of not finding work in my area for a considerable time. But my intention is to stay, and that means being able to meet my financial obligations. We’ve reached an era when MBA’s are applying for entry level positions. I read long ago that the key to success is to constantly reinvent yourself. That means taking work where you can find it, rather than holding out for the perfect job while sitting on your duff, dreaming about it. Therefore, I’m making my parachute as multicolored as I can manage. My hope is to continually create as high caliber art as I am capable of. I’m proud of my artistic abilities, but not so much that I’ll turn my nose at a decent position to keep me fed and happily ensconced in Colorado.

But to shamelessly plug myself, the picture below is also a link to a random sampling of my art projects, both contracted and self inspired…The Artist