Tag Archive for Think!

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

A New “Perspective” on Art and Artists

Recently, I painted a huge poster for an upcoming event at one of my jobs. It was challenging, since it’s a retail store, and I didn’t really have a conducive space to work at. But I always put 110% of myself in when I’m creating something from nothing. I set myself up in the training room, working entirely with tools marked down from the store, and set to creating something my supervisor would be proud of. While working on this and a few other art projects there, I’ve lost track of the comments I received that left me puzzled and just a little frustrated. They went something like this…

“Oh, goofing off, I see!”

“Are we crafting today?”

“Ah, you must be the new sign maker.”

“Having fun?”

“Are you still working on that”

“When are you getting back to work?”

Granted, these comments were made in light hearted, conversational tones. And I didn’t let them distract me from my goals or ruin my day. But it got me to thinking about the modern perception of what an artist (writer, costumer, leatherworker, etc) is. Some people think we’re the ones who never grew up, who never got a “real” job, and never took responsibility for our lives. We’re slackers, dreamers, idealists, rebels. Well, I guess we are rebels in a way…

We’re more than rebels, though. We are pioneers. We either opted out of, or were not born for the 9-5 grind. I had a superviser take me into her office one day and say, “Let’s face it, you suck at answering phones.” I agreed with her. For whatever reason, be it ADHD, a creative brain, or just lack of aptitude in that environment, answering a phone while trying to work on three projects at the same time would completely derail me. But when I draw, paint, design or write, I find myself in an accelerated place of learning and achieving. My brain goes haywire, and I find that I’m thinking 10 steps ahead. I’m in the zone. It’s like I’m supposed to be doing this. And I am. I gave up administrative work because I was not good at it, and I found I had a talent in something completely different. In giving up a standard job, I gave up a lot: regular benefits, paid holidays, sick leave, predictable paydays… I’ve had that upon occasion in the graphic design positions I’ve held over the years, but I’ve been laid off of most of those jobs due to the economy.

Still, it’s who I am. And it’s who many of my friends are. Many of us are working from home, busting our butts, being our own bosses, juggling deadlines, setting our own schedules, doggedly researching the best ways to promote ourselves, and finding new ways to keep our goals achievable and met. We have to work harder to make less money than most of our peers.

When I work on a drawing or a painting, it takes more energy than you’d imagine. I can spend days trying to find the right idea in my head. I’ll sit down, and stare at the blank page or canvas before I know how I want to begin. Once I have the course plotted, I’ll spend hours bent over my paper/computer/canvas, focusing intently on what I’m making. Occasionally I’ll remember to get up and stretch when my back, neck and eyes start to complain. I’ll rail against the clock and the fates at my deadlines. But in the end, when I am finished, I am a new parent. This is a part of me that I have taken out of myself to share with the world. Each week, I create something from nothing and send it off into the world, turning back to prepare to do it all over again. You’ll never see me stop doing this, in spite of the difficulties. It’s what I was born to do. I can feel it in my bones.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun, and we enjoy what we do. Otherwise, we’d be masochists! We do what we love for love of the craft. But we also commit to a lot more challenges than are readily apparent. There’s an unsung heroism in going off the beaten track. We’re grateful and touched by the appreciation, support and patronage we receive for our work. But we’d probably do it anyway, because something inside of us tells us we’re doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing.

The next time you talk to an artist, writer, costumer, or anyone who has a creative vocation, try to see past the glamour of pursuing a dream and getting to play for a living. Try to see the dedication, self motivation and self discipline, that upon occasion are our only fallbacks.

Writing “Shattered”


I’ve been seriously upping my game this year. I started writing again about 3 years ago, after a hiatus too long to mention. And I couldn’t be happier. Honestly, part of the reason I stopped was because my writing skills weren’t up to the par of my imagination. A lot of life has happened since putting that pen down, and I believe I’ve gotten better at describing environment and emotion. I’ve also learned some of the tricky task of subtlety (my mother always said I was as subtle as a jackhammer). The biggest challenge for me now is writing believable dialogue. I’m tackling that hurdle in a short story I’m preparing for submission this Winter.

This flash fiction piece was an excerpt from my journal of free writing; the lavender paisley one I bought 3 years ago, that set me free and reminded me there’s good stuff in there if I want to share it. With a little guidance from Quincy J. Allen, I augmented and refined it into something I’m moderately proud of, even more so since it’s the first piece I’ve ever submitted publicly.

It’s a moody story, but I’m proud of the tone I set. Hope you enjoy it. More to come!

Shattered

For some continued enjoyment, here are links to some of my favorite local authors’ submissions to this very same contest:

Quincy J. Allen: The Devil and God

Guy Anthony De Marco: Seeds

Sam Knight: Broken

Mary Villalba: Encounter

Josh Vogt: The Way the World Ends

The Invisible Navigator

Isn’t it funny how you can try to run up the same hill infinite times, but it’s not til you give up and head in another direction that you succeed? I’ve been struggling to rework a story idea, first as a graphic novel, then as a webcomic and currently a written work. It’s been like trying to sprint through a tar pit. I have read, researched and meditated, waiting for the answer to appear. And my muse is silent as the crypt.

Then 72 hours ago, a short story idea occurred to me. This one is practically writing itself. The concept keeps snowballing, and I think I may have enough material to eventually turn it into a full length novel. My veins run with adrenaline and I write down notes often. I feel…purpose, and a direction.

You can try to steer the boat [of life], but you rarely know what’s around the next bend. I think that means the navigation of your life is something that’s never completely in your own hands. Call it divine or call it chaos, it still means you don’t always get to pick the destination. For me that means it’s time to let go of the wheel and grab hold of my pen, for all it’s worth.

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.

In Dreams…

I awoke from a dream… It’s a common topic of morning conversation, isn’t it? Sometimes crazy, sometimes sobering, but almost always thought provoking if you can remember it. This one was about helping others. It was mystical and ethereal. I walked from room to room in a beautiful, glowing palace, seeing friends in conversation wherever I went. And in each room, I had a philosophical response to one or more of them. I suppose it could have been interpreted as my meddling, but I was warmed and buoyed by seeing a spark of imagination and comfort in each of their eyes.

I will never pretend to know all the answers. I’m just as flawed as the next human being in the room. But whenever I find something that helps me, I want to share it. Not to put myself in a place of power or authority, but to help the ones I care about. To help anyone who’s struggling nearby, or on the other side of the planet. Because we’re all in this together. But a caveat: advice should always come with consent from the recipient. Unsolicited counsel can spoil the soup. It’s about giving. OK, I confess. It’s also about that wonderful feeling you get when you see it helped someone else… <3

Have a wonderful day. I know I sure will…

Sky Temple - Ganesha. Photoshop composite from 2012
Sky Temple – Ganesha. Digital composite, 2012

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

Round Two!

I’m up, dressed, hydrated, fast broken, and adrenaline pumping. My goal: Fill one more bin with leaves and twigs. It’s almost disturbing sometimes, when I get on a tear and want to barrel through a project. One might venture to suggest I’m obsessive about it. But I’m proud of the fact that I know when to call quitting time. But until then, I’m signing off, because part of knowing my limitations is knowing I should get the heavy labor done before the heat of the day sets in. Have a fantastic Sunday, everyone!

A Thought For Today:

To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true. -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)
From Wordsmith.org’s A.Word.A.Day

Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on creativity

I post this video every few months, in the hopes that it finds one of you who hasn’t seen it yet. It makes me cry everytime. I hope it motivates and inspires you, or just makes you look at us kooky creative types with a little more respect and sympathy.