Here is the latest painting I’m working on. It’s something quite a bit different than cartoons or comics. I’m really enjoying it. I’m hoping to get it finished and ready to go into a watermedia show. We shall see.
I wrote a Children’s Book about 10 years ago. I wrote it while I was working at Border’s with the intent of getting it published and seeing it in the store on the shelf. Then that job went to hell. It got stuck in the file cabinet and I haven’t done anything with it. I pulled it out over Holiday break and looked at it again. I love it. I still love it and that is important. The story is a cute simple little story about a little fuzzy chicken that has big dreams. I did all the illustrations for it in colored pencil and china marker or grease pencil. I love them as well. I didn’t worry or fret over them, I just threw them out there and they make me smile. The Chicken story is part of the CREATE goal this year. Chicken is going to make it out into the world. It might be Amazon.com for $2.99 a download, but it’s getting out there somehow. I’ll let you know. I really want to make little plush copies of my illustrations as well. I think they would be adorable. That’s in the future though. Right now the goal is to get all my illustrations digitalized and cleaned up with a readable friendly font. They are all scanned in and ready to be worked on.
I have 5 more stories. Sometimes I think this is really what I want to do. It just happens. I get an idea and write a story out in less than an hour. Sometimes 15 minutes. The images for the illustrations come easily as well. I have so much fun doing them.
Chicken first. Then Roma, the little Tomato story.
Stay tuned kids.
Good things are happening.
I decided the best way to deal with rejection is to paint. Alright! A healthy way to deal! We celebrate Solstice at my house and I have always loved the Santa legend, so I decided to paint an old world Santa Claus. It was just going to be a quick, flat, yard decoration, but I really got involved in it. I’ve spent at least 15 hours on it already and I was aiming to get it done BEFORE Solstice arrived, but there was so much to be done. I also discovered that when I get into “the zone” Japanese drum music is an amazing thing to paint to.
We burnt a Juul or Yule log this Solstice. We also decided we are committed to this Solstice thing. I just can’t do Christmas anymore. I’ve tried. There’s nothing in it for me. So much focus on gifts and all the hassle of running and doing and the fights about what to call crap, like the Holiday Parade or the Christmas parade. Seriously, it’s gotten completely stupid and lost all meaning for me. I’m not very religious either. Spiritual, yes. Religion is too messy and suffocating and people do crazy ass things due to religion. That’s no reason to give up spirituality though. I love creating traditions or finding old ones that speak to me. T did a whole bunch of research on the Juul/Yule log and took the parts she loved from what she found. We found an oak log from a place we loved, holly leaves and berries, oak leaves and acorns and wrote 3 things each to be tossed into a fire.
We have a lovely fire pit and fire is extremely spiritual. Lighting a fire and enjoying it’s warmth just stirs my soul. So burning a Juul/Yule log was a great idea. And we did. On Solstice night. It felt really good. We put all of 2012 behind us. All the tears, all the fights, all the stress, all the frustration, all the joys, all the laughter. All of it. It burned with the log, the holly, the acorns and the three pieces of paper with our hopes and dispersed into the Universe.
Spirituality is a big focus this year. Learning and practicing on how to be the best Jedi I can be. Incorporating ritual in my life. In our lives. My biggest lesson last year was learning I had no idea how to mourn with my partner. We had no ritual or tradition and we really felt like we missed out on things we needed. Neither of us need or desire to participate in the traditional funeral, but we needed something. We learned a lot about each other and ourselves last year. I’m honestly a little surprised we made it. It was most certainly the most difficult year of my life.
Yet, so many amazing things happened. We went to our first ever Xena Convention in Burbank and we did it exactly the way we always wanted to. The Gold package and a photo op with Lucy Lawless while staying at the Marriott that hosts the Convention. It was pretty amazing. So amazing, that we decided we had to go back. We really missed those 8 am coffees while staring out at the mountains. The “Fish Dish” dinners…while staring at the mountains. The mountain air. The happy people. Lucy Lawless. She’s just so danged cool, man. Seriously. She’s taking tap dancing right now and I’m sure we will get to see a little bit of it, LIVE.
T got a real book published and another one contracted. Amazing. She also graduated with honors with her masters in Professional Writing. I entered a couple art shows. I actually entered. I didn’t get in, but I entered. Big step for me. I met one of my favorite artists in person. BROM. He seemed excited to meet me. Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! was awesome. I got to see Cindy’s house and crash in KCMO and release the ghosts of my past.
So many wonderful and terrible things happened in 2012. I still miss my best bud, Chris, every day. And who knew George Lucas would sell Star Wars to Disney?! OMG! New Star Wars in 2015! What?! Exciting!
So here it is, Jan. 2, 2013. Burbank is mere days away, the future is bright, and 2012 is in the past. We have a very clear goal this year. To laugh, live and love. To leave fear and sadness behind. To embrace the Universe and each other and to make art. So much art. Because as the oldest written story teaches:
“What you seek you shall never find.
For when the Gods made man,
They kept immortality to themselves.
Fill your belly.
Day and night make merry.
Let Days be full of joy.
Love the child who holds your hand.
Let your wife delight in your embrace.
For these alone are the concerns of man.”
Dear Jen Tucker,
We regret to inform you that your work will not be included in the inaugural
edition of the National Weather Center Biennale. Artists from all 50 states and a
number of foreign countries submitted work to the National Weather Center Biennale.
We were thrilled, and challenged, by the overall quality of the work. The selection
committee had to make some very difficult choices. In an effort to balance the
exhibition with consideration for a variety of styles and media, a great many
outstanding works by some very talented artists had to be excluded. We hope that
you understand that the decision not to include your work is not a judgment on the
quality to the work or on your dedication as an artist. We are so thankful that so
many fine artists like you were willing to submit your work for inclusion in this
exhibition. We hope you will continue to support the exhibition and that you will
consider submitting work to subsequent editions of the National Weather Center
Again, thank you for your participation.
Very sincerely yours,
Alan Atkinson Ph.D.
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Berrien Moore Ph.D.
Vice President, Weather & Climate Programs
Director, National Weather Center
Executive Director, Norman Arts Council
December 1st came and went without a word from the Weather Biennale Art Committee. December 1st was the notification date. I checked my e-mail like 100 times that day. Okay, two, but still. I was hopeful. Nothing. I told myself to give them one more day. How on earth could they not pick my work? I have a very healthy ego when it comes to my work. I have complete and total faith that my work is good enough. I am an artist after all. Not some hack. Of course, when I don’t get picked my ego compensates in unusual ways. Despite not being contacted, I was still certain I was getting in. They must be late in notifying everyone. That must be it. Low and behold, this morning I wake up to a Facebook post that they have indeed been behind and not to worry if we hadn’t been contacted. See? Nothing to worry about. So, back to waiting.
Art shows and contests are interesting creatures. There is almost always a fee. A hanging fee or entry fee or selection fee or space fee or something. You pay $25, $50, $75 depending on who is putting on the show, knowing full well that you might not even get into the show. It makes entering shows that much harder. You ask yourself if you think your work has a chance before you even attempt to enter. No one likes throwing away $50. Sure, it goes to pay the award to the art show winners, but man, handing over $50 to a show that didn’t even think your stuff was in the same league in order to award an artist, who many times, I think must have had an inside connection to get that award, blows. It’s like rejection with a slap in the face. No thanks, we don’t want your stuff and “Smack!” that’s for even thinking you could. Now, hand us $50 for insulting us. Ouch. That’s $50 lost that I could have spent on creating more art. It’s a fresh canvas or 5 small tubes of paint. It’s three new brushes or a couple of sketch pads. Just gone. I’ve skipped entering things do to entry fees. I just didn’t have it. Art isn’t a game for the poor.
I also find that I seem to be waiting for an answer before starting the next thing. Yes, your stuff is accepted. Sweet! Let’s create! No, your stuff is rejected. Okay. Hmm. Hang myself in the garage or go eat a bag of cookies and wonder what the hell I am supposed to do with my life and then go paint something. Yep, either way, I know I’ll never stop. I can’t. It’s what I do. I just hope it isn’t all really mediocre and that I spend my entire life creating mediocre crap that no one wants or sees. At least there’s the internet now, right? I mean, even after I’m gone, my art will still be there, in digital form, hanging around until the internet ceases to exist. That’s cool. That’s never happened in history before. I think of art lost to wars and fires and neglect and then I think about now. None of that will erase art being created now. What does that do to art? It’s almost like the cave art. That stuff that adorns ancient cave walls. It’s not going anywhere. It’s been there for thousands of years. The only way to get rid of it would be to destroy the caves or mountains.
So yeah, I’m still waiting. Waiting for congratulations. Waiting for good news.
Many people are participating in the internet social site tradition (yes, it IS a tradition) of posting every day what they are thankful for this month. I always enjoy this tradition because it makes me happy to see that some of the people that seem soulless and uncaring do have a bit of depth to them after all. Okay, maybe that’s a little hyperbolic, but it is nice to not feel like the only person to “get too deep” sometimes. I’ve joined in the tradition because I like outwardly expressing positive things about the world around me. So here are my first twenty. Enjoy:
Day 1: I’m thankful for the unconditional love of my Brother.
Day 2: I am thankful that my dog is always so happy to see me.
Day 3: I am thankful that the heater in my car works.
Day 4: I am thankful to have a base of my own. A place I can paint the walls green and black. A place that certainly feels like home.
Day 5: I am thankful that my partner loves to cook. I mean really loves to cook.
Day 6: I am thankful for complete silence.
Day 7: I am thankful for good conversation that makes me feel as if I’ve learned something.
Day 8: I am thankful for finding someone who has wanted to spend the last 16 years of their life with me.
Day 9: I’m thankful for the beauty that surrounds me.
Day 10: Snow days. I love them. Some people might complain and whine and moan, but here, in Oklahoma, snow days are magical. When it snows everything stops. You can go outside at 3 in the morning and it’s like a whole different planet. The smells, the sounds, the air itself is different. Renewing. Fresh. Not only that, but in Oklahoma, snow almost always guarantees at least one day off if not more. The more it snows, the more days off you’re likely to get. So this winter I sing, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
Day 11: I am thankful for people that support me. Sometimes they are friends, sometimes just people you met one time, sometimes, you’ve never met them. Yet, for some reason they bother to support you in one way or another. Sometimes it’s as simple as posting a hug on a bad day or “liking” a post. Sometimes it’s more tangible support, like helping you pay your bills by paying you for whatever it is you do. Sometimes it’s being that person that listens. Sometimes it’s being that person that makes you laugh. Sometimes it’s as simple and complex as saying “I love you”.
Day 12: I am thankful for the sunshine. Seriously. I love the sunshine. I love sitting outside and having the sun warm my back. I love the way it feels when you lay down on the carpet in front of a sliding glass door and the sun beams in and you fall asleep. Yes, I still do this. Just because I’m not 5 doesn’t make it weird. It’s weird that people stop doing things they enjoy because someone else told them it was weird. The winter can sometimes be really hard for me when it’s a winter with little or no real sunshine. So I am very thankful for the sunny November this year. I’m totally enjoying it! Once it goes away it better snow though.
Day 13: I’m thankful for the written or typed word. I suck at social activity. Especially conversation. I tend to voice things as they come to me. I have trouble NOT gearing the conversation to me. The written word allows me time to read over my conversation and articulate more accurately my thoughts and feelings. I absolutely love writing letters to people. Unfortunately, most people hate reading letters. I used to write T letters that would make small books before she moved here. She would write me back and I was always so excited to get her letters. So, yeah, I’m totally thankful we have a written language.
Day 14: Pants. OMG…I can’t tell you how happy I am that I can wear pants and that pants exist at all. Especially jeans. I feel so uncomfortable in a garment that is just open to the world. I realize now that it has more to do with my sensory issues, than anything else. The “hugging” feeling of security I get from pants isn’t there if there isn’t anything “hugging” your body. Winter is even better because I get dual layers. I wear long underwear under my pants as soon as it drops to the 60′s. So double pants! Totally thankful for pants.
Day 15: I am thankful for cake. I used to wonder why everyone was so upset in France when Marie Antoinette said “let them eat cake”. I thought that was a great idea!!!! Then I studied history. They didn’t have bread, much less cake. Poor bastards. I have cake! Cake from La Baguette. It’s delicious. I also have a friend and co-worker that makes the best cake in the whole world and often makes me one. A whole freaking cake!!!! Cake is my favorite food. If I was stranded on an island and I could only have ingredients for one food to make, I would hope it was cake.
Day 16: I am thankful for Restaurants. It’s cool that we, as a society, have decided to have these things. It’s cool that there are people that love to cook. It’s so freaking nice that on those days that you are utterly exhausted, there is a place you can go and eat and not have a mess to clean up afterwards. I do NOT take this for granted. Ever. So I am thankful for all the places that exist that I can go and get a good meal and all the people that make up those places. Thank you for ensuring that my belly is always full.
Day 17: I am thankful for Experience. As I get older, experience is something I rely on. It is also something that has helped others understand me and some of my social quirks. As you experience more, you learn more. It can even teach you that you aren’t nearly as weird as the people in that small town of 5,000 thought you were. You might be unique, but far from far out there weird. It can also help you deal and help you help others deal. Even though sometimes experience can be painful, it never fails to make you stronger and more able to understand others.
Day 18: I am thankful for Music. I freaking love music. I always have. My Mom used to get so annoyed with me always wanting to play music in the car or in my room or anywhere I went. Music fills my imagination. It makes the rest of the world disappear. It is fun, meditative, a way to get my frustrations out, a way to get “in the mood”, or just a soundtrack to whatever I’m doing. It defines certain moments in my life. I’m glad there are people passionate enough about making it that they fight the hard fight to get it out there. They bare their souls for us. It’s pretty remarkable.
Day 19: I am thankful for Guitar solos. I know, I said music for day 18, but guitar solos are a whole ‘nother thing. There’s something about a great guitar solo that can bring me to tears. It feels like my soul is being lifted and for that brief glorious moment, I can only feel all that is good and right and perfect. It’s why I love metal music so much. Metal = best guitar solos EVER. If I could only save one instrument in the world it would be the electric guitar.
Day 20: I am thankful for Courage. I’m so thankful that I don’t walk around everyday worrying about the end of the world. I don’t possess that crippling fear so many of the people I am surrounded by do. Instead, I am filled with Courage to only see a positive future. Courage to be myself. Courage to do the things I want. Courage to live my life. Courage to not fear my fellow man. Courage to love. Courage to believe. Courage to dream.
And there you have it. There’s 10 days left. I’ll update. Be safe this holiday.
It’s November. By far my favorite month of the year. I won’t lie either. It’s my favorite because it’s the month I was born. Most people I know don’t really celebrate their birthdays. They don’t want to talk about them. They don’t really want a party. They treat the day like it’s an average day just like all the rest. Not me. First of all, I NEVER work on my Birthday. It is a holiday. The sacred day of my birth. If my employer has a problem with this, I find it absurd and tell them so. There is never a reason anyone should HAVE to work on their birthday. Not in America. Not in any respected first world country. It’s a paid day off. This year my birthday is on a Thursday, so I get two paid days off! Thursday and Friday! I mean, what’s the point of taking Thursday and then coming in Friday just to be off Saturday? Right? That’s just silly. Birthdays are important. They matter. My birthday is like my New Year’s. I look back on what happened and how to improve my self and my station. This year was rough. The roughest of my life so far. I’m exhausted and have been so incredibly depressed. I’ve fought and found inspiration through musicians like P!nk and through artists quotes put up by the people over at Spectrum. I’ve found it in the possibilities I’ve seen my partner create by getting published, working book signings and going for that next thing. She’s already got another book contract. I’ve found it in the tireless volunteering and help one friend is always a part of. I’ve found it in my friend who has lost what I can’t even imagine losing and her ability to move through it with such grace that I sometimes feel it must just be my perspective that causes me so much suffering. And to some degree it is. I am working on that. Baby steps.
I have goals. Trying to motivate yourself to do them through deep depression sometimes seems futile. Just having them helps. I am happy I submitted a work of art this year. I am waiting to hear if it will make it in the show. December 1st. That’s when I’ll know. I hope I’m not utterly shattered to pieces if I don’t. I shouldn’t be. I’ll just have to get up again and try, try, try, right?
I am working on the Xena Web Comic little bits here and there. I hope it doesn’t just fall to the side. I really, really want to do it. I sit down sometimes though and realize how very out of practice I am. Muscle memory strains to remember. If only talent was real and I could magically pick up a pencil and draw at the level that was my best instantly. Things would be so much easier, wouldn’t they?
This month most of my attention goes to NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. I have a story inside that really wants to get out, so I’m writing it. So far, I’m at 13,000 words. That makes me very happy. Once it’s complete, edited and gone over with a fine toothed comb, I’m submitting it. I’m giving myself a time limit. Get it to 50,000 or more for NaNo, then I have 3 months to edit and clean it up. That’s it. Then it’s off. No stalling. I’m less worried about the writing than I am the art. I still have a portfolio to build and create for Spectrum by next May. It was one of this year’s goals. I have to do this.
So things are getting there.
I’ve started sketching and work on the Xena Web Comic. I’m determined to do this. Even through all this serious depression I’m facing. Depression sucks, btw. Anyway, I set up a poll over on my Xena Facebook page & asked which hairstyle the fans liked on Gabrielle best. I didn’t get a huge response, only 10 people and 2 might have been me, but it was enough to decide. Short hair 6th season. I worked up a new outfit for her as well. Something that took her into that next phase. She became a warrior in the last episode of Xena and that should now be reflected in her dress. I think it turned out pretty good. I’m in the process of researching temples and landscape in Egypt right now. Not exactly fun, but I want the look of the comic backgrounds to be authentic.
Part of doing this comic is about developing a comic style. Really getting my muscle memory back to where it used to be and beyond. Studying anatomically correct movements and the human figure better. Trying some techniques I might have been hesitant to try with my actual art work. This IS art work, but it’s a Xena Web Comic. I’m serious about it and hopefully my fellow Xenites will be as well, but for some reason I don’t feel any pressure from this project. I also really want T’s script to get out there in the world where those who love Xena can appreciate it.
This year I told myself, and my chosen family, that this would be the year I said YES. I have. I’m very happy about that. Now, I want to concentrate on saying it more often. So often that I don’t even realize there is another answer. Xena Web Comic? Yes. Art show entries? Yes. Travel? Yes. Illustration? Yes. Take my portfolio full of goodies to Spectrum in May? Yes.
I entered a painting into an art show. Not any old art show, but the very first National Weather Center Biennale. I entered my artistic interpretation of the strength and structure of a tornado. It’s 34″ x 36″ Acrylic on Wood.
The deadline was today. I finished it this weekend. BEFORE the deadline. I’m happy about that. I’m also happy with the work. It turned out great. I rarely know what I’m saying with a painting until I’m finished and step back and look at it. I get images first. Images and feelings. I sketch it out and then try as fast as I can to capture what I see in my mind. The more stress-free and positive I am the easier this is. I had been mulling over a weather themed piece for over a month. Waiting. Hoping something would show up. I told myself I wasn’t going to force it and I wasn’t going to get upset if nothing came forth. I really wanted it to though because I’m a huge lover of Oklahoma weather and the the National Weather Service and all they do. I’m very happy I made it. I paid my $25 entry fee and sent my TIF file and now the waiting starts. Will I get accepted? Will I be rejected? Only time will tell. I feel confident though.
Creating artwork and submitting it wasn’t all I did this weekend. Nope. I also took advantage of the Free Museum Weekend. That’s right, 1,500+ Museums welcomed anyone willing to make the trek in for free this weekend. The Sam Noble Museum was on that list and they just opened their newest collection. A collection of over 1,000 Kachina Dolls/sculptures. T and I got up, grabbed a bite at The Garage and headed on over. I was so excited. I love Hopi art. I’ve always felt very connected to it. I’m not sure why. I know I have Native American Ancestry, and there is no one who is 100% certain exactly which tribes my ancestors were from, so it is a possibility that there might be some Hopi blood in my veins. Perhaps someday Science will be able to tell me with a simple blood scan. It would mean a tremendous amount to me to know that.
The Kachina Collection was amazing. Beautiful. It’s in a small room that is long with a beautiful stained glass window at the end.
Each Kachina is numbered and the artist is listed on a sheet in each case with a corresponding number and the title of the work. The room has wonderful ambient lighting. I took so many pictures. I saw familiar patterns. Things that sometimes end up in my work. Things that reminded me of my work. I had a strong desire to find some clay and a Kiln and get to sculpting.
Going to see this work made me want to finish the work for the Weather Biennale. It also reminded me of that dream I had with the antelope goat god. The one where he came to me and told me something really important that I can’t remember. He looked like a Kachina. Here’s the drawing I did of him right after the dream.
There’s more to him than that. That’s just what I drew immediately following the dream so I didn’t forget it. Doesn’t he look like he’s fit right in? I think so.
This weekend was also full of good food. OMG…so much good food. Tarahumara’s on Friday night, The Garage for lunch on Saturday, home-made fried chicken for dinner with a home-made cherry pie for dinner Saturday night, Fried eggs, sausage links, waffles and coffee for Sunday Brunch, and home-made Lamb stew for dinner. I am stuffed. Still. T is a wonderful cook. Amazingly wonderful. We watched some TV this weekend as well. The Mid-season Finale of Doctor Who. I was in tears. It was really good. The Season Premiere of Once Upon a Time happened Sunday night. Hooray! I love this show! We also managed to catch up on Warehouse 13. Ugh, my heart. More tears. There’s nothing like a weekend of good art, good food and good Sci-Fi/Fantasy. We dreaded going to bed Sunday night. So much so that we stayed up until around 3 AM watching season 2 on The Walking Dead. Going to sleep meant Monday was here. We prolonged it until neither of us could keep our little eyes open. Here’s to a good week. I hope you all have one. It’s October now. That makes me insanely happy. I look forward to decorating for Halloween this upcoming weekend.
The hand/wrist is still healing. I can grip a pencil again. I did a bit of drawing & rode the motorcycle to work. Taping it up with athletic tape seems to be helping. Gives it a bit of support. So I was feeling happy about that. Then the allergies struck. I’ve been sneezing my head off.
*Sigh* Maybe that’s why. I don’t want to take anything either. All that stuff makes me feel yucky & it makes me smell funny. Drugs do that to me. Make me smell different. Make food taste different. Make the days seem like a dream. I’d rather smell normal, not be able to taste & suffer through. My poor dog is all allergenic too. Poor thing. She’s miserable. I’ve been giving her baby Clariten. I can suffer. Puppies should never suffer. They are the greatest things in the universe.
Heya Campers! I’m pretty excited about this weekend. Why? Well, lots of reasons. First off is the theatrical release of the latest (and possibly last) Resident Evil flick. I’ve been an RE fan since the very first game came out & a Milla Jovovich fan since…well, Married with Children. Of course her role as Lelu in the Fifth Element really sealed it for me. I love that freaking movie. I also love Michelle Rodriguez & am very happy she is back in this one! I love the cast of the RE films! The films themselves are what I love most in a movie. Fun, exciting, not too serious (but there is a bit of seriousness underlying the fun), and just entertaining. I enjoy my movie escapism. I love it when chicks are the ones in the lead role kicking ass too. So yeah, pretty excited about that!
What else am I excited about?! Well, there’s Lavender. Yes, you read that correctly. Lavender. I have this huge beautiful Lavender plant in my back yard. It hasn’t seem affected by the drought at all. It didn’t burn to a crisp or wilt. So I got to thinking about Lavender & wondering what good things it does for you. I mean, besides smelling so good. I researched it & was very happy with what I found. Lavender increases oxygen in the blood, helps relieve anxiety, lifts mood, relaxes you, kills bad bacteria in your guts, is a natural anti-inflammatory (good-bye Advil), contain phytonutrients (natural super good stuff) and does so many of the things that T & I need. Excellent. I now have plans to plant Lavender all over the place. We picked the dried flowers from our one lonely plant last night & made Lavender tea. It was delicious. We both agreed our mood did indeed lift. We went to bed happy. I think perhaps for right now, Lavender might be my new obsession.
(Photo via Flickr by Hindrik S)
There’s more to be excited about! T has her second book signing at Full Circle books this weekend! Full Circle Books is the place I took her to meet Bruce Campbell on her Birthday way back over a decade ago. You know, Bruce Campbell, from Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Xena (He played the King of Thieves, Autolycus). So T, who became a Bard (writer), who was inspired by the Battling Bard Gabrielle from Xena, which is the reason we met (IRC #xenafan), whose book came out on the 17th Anniversary of the first episode of Xena has a book signing at the place she first met the guy that played The King of Thieves in Xena. Pretty cool. Apparently it’s going to be a big to-do. All fancy smansy. I might have to dress up. That’s exciting. I never get to dress up.
Make sure to swing by this Saturday from 12 pm to 2:30 pm at Full Circle Bookstore, 1900 Northwest Expressway, Suite 135, Oklahoma City, OK73118 | (405) 842-2900
And last but not least I’m excited that my hand seems to be healing. I apparently tore ligaments & with much research, athletic tape, and ace bandages, I created my own splint & have been going real easy on it. So far it seems to be getting better each day. I managed to get a really good pop out of my wrist and it has improved quite a bit since then. So hopefully I will be able to paint in another week or so. Hooray!
As much as I wanted to believe that maybe my luck was changing, it looks like it isn’t really. In the post below you read that I went to a old school metal show. A 5 to 6 hour metal show. Well, I love to throw the metal horns while I’m rocking out. And I did. For hours. Apparently really passionately. When I woke up Saturday morning my wrist & hand were killing me.
I could barely move my right hand at all without searing pain. I couldn’t grip & I couldn’t pull or push with it. Meaning, most importantly, that during my 3 day weekend (Thank you Labor Union) I couldn’t draw or paint. *sigh*
I didn’t get much sleep Saturday night due to the amount of pain I was in. Sunday it seemed even worse. My hand was so swollen that I couldn’t get my ring on. If any thing even so much as breathed on it I was screaming in pain. WTF? Seriously? This is stupid. How on earth does someone screw their hand up this bad by throwing metal horns? I feel old.
Sunday I iced it, but had to have T help me do things all day. Sunday night, again, not much sleep. There was no way to lay it that it didn’t just shoot lightning pains.
Monday. Not much change. Swollen, painful, I can’t grip anything. I can’t pull my damn pants up or down to use the restroom. I can’t ride my motorcycle because I can’t pull in the brake. C’mon, this has got to be some sort of stupid joke.
Monday night…barely any sleep at all. It hurts worse than it has all weekend.
Tuesday. OMG this hurts. And is stupid. I managed to drive the car one-handed to work. It’s a good thing I’ve practiced using my left hand for so many years. I used to have nightmares I’d lose my right hand. My art hand. So I wanted to be able to use both. Equally well. Some things you just need two hands for though. Well, I do at least. I’m sure there’s some one-handed people that would laugh their butts off watching me struggle.
My work brace is missing from my office. I’m hen pecking this post out with my left hand. OMG, the pain is at stupid levels. 2012 has got to be the stupidest year ever.
Many of you know about my Armadillo story. If you don’t, remind me to tell you some time. The long & short of it is I was short $100.00 for rent & an Armadillo brought it to me. I’m not even kidding. Seriously. We now refer to that particular encounter as the Karmadillo encounter.
What happened last night is just as ridiculously unbelievable. I was at a hair band metal show, up front, packed in rather closely, with 6,000 other people. Lita Ford had already played, and Poison had just finished. For nearly 3 1/2 hours, 6,000 people were jumping, stomping, head-banging, and moving about. I was near the front & toward the center of these 6,000 people. Remember that part. It’s important. I sat down to relax between bands. I had brought a blanket with me.
Suddenly, the lady next to me taps me on the shoulder & points at the side of my butt. I look down & sitting beside me, on my blanket is a very small toad.
WTF? OMG! How on earth did a toad make it to the front & center of a metal concert packed with 6,000 people to sit next to me on my blanket?! How did it not get stomped? How?! What!?
I could barely believe my eyes! I quickly scooped it up. It pee’d on me. Twice. That happens when you grab a toad. I told it it would be okay. I thought about how scared it must be. I sill couldn’t believe it made it through the crowd with no signs of injury. I hopped up and ran through the crowd, toad in hand. We were at the Zoo Amphitheater, so I knew there was a good place outside of the venue I could put it where it would be safe. I just rubbed it’s little head & kept telling it not to worry.
I got to the gates & the security guard was all “Whoa!” I looked at him, showed him the toad & said, “This toad got into the crowd somehow and I need to place it somewhere safe outside all these people!” He looked at the toad in disbelief, then smiled and told me to set him right by the gates. I told him that by the gates was not any safer & asked if I could cross the road to the grassy hill. He smiled & let me.
Over by the grassy hill was another security guard. He watched me like a hawk as I approached. I told him, “I found this toad in the crowd.” and explained I was just going to place it on the hill. He laughed a little & told me to “Go ahead” and then added, “You sure made him a happy camper.” I placed the toad gently in the grass and told it what direction to hop in order to avoid anymore nightmarish giant people stomping grounds. As I walked back the first security guard smiled at me and said, “Go ahead”. I said, “Thank you!”
I kept thinking about that little toad’s perspective. How it had miraculously avoided 6,000 people or 12,000 stomping feet. I like to think I’m not superstitious, but I won’t lie, when animals come up to me or end up sitting on a blanket at a metal show with me, I can’t help it. I mean, a freaking Armadillo brought me a hundred dollars once. Now, this little toad had made it through a crowd to sit next to me on a blanket. So, T, my partner, urged me to look up toads & symbolism.
Frogs are my default favorite animal. Kermit has a lot to do with that, but I have always loved frogs. They can climb trees, sail through the air in giant leaps, hold their breath forever, breathe through their skin, change sexes, have webbed fingers toes, swim like Olympians and sing to attract mates. They can also bury themselves in mud which dries up for YEARS and remain in a sort of Carbon Freeze type state. Toads have many of the same abilities. They are different animals though. So I looked up toads and symbolism. The first thing that came up was Chan Chu.
Chan Chu: The Money Toad. Appears when there is full moon.
WHAT!? There was a full moon last night!!! No way! C’mon, that’s weird, right? A toad just shows up on my blanket during a full moon at a metal show?
Chan Chu is a Chinese mythological toad that appears during a full moon & is said to bring a person wealth & protection from evil. Um, cool. They also represent luck. Especially changing your luck from bad to good.
I can’t tell you how relieved I was to read that. The bad to good luck thing. Just this one time I am totally going to believe in something mythological and be superstitious. I need to. And seriously…a freaking toad made it through a crowd of 6,000 to sit on a blanket with me at a metal concert on a full moon.
Here’s a couple shots of the newly rearranged bedroom to art room.
As you can see, I managed to decide to move everything BEFORE I finished Jem. No excuses now.
I also managed to make really good space for the shirt Screen printer. Hopefully I’ll be able to utilize it now.
There are a few things I still have to get off of it first. LOL. But that ain’t no big thang.
I love the way this room feels. There’s even enough room for dancing. I often take little dance breaks if a song I can’t help but dance to comes on. That’s another happy accident. The sound of the music flows better in this room. It fills it right. I’ve been playing Japanime soundtracks all day. All the Sailor Moon movie soundtracks, Howl’s Moving Castle & Spirited Away. I love Japanese Animation & all the wonderful music in them. They make me feel. Deeply. Something I’m not afraid to do.
Have a great weekend. I’m going to go paint now.
Sometimes we do things because that’s they way we learned things are supposed to be. We don’t even realize we are doing things that don’t make a lick of sense. For example, the biggest bedroom in my house is what I was using for sleeping. The Master Bedroom. It always sounds so fancy when you say Master bedroom, doesn’t it? No matter how small it is. Mine’s pretty small. 19′ x 14′ or something. It’s probably less than that. The room I was using as an art room is 12′ x 10′. With my art desk, the computer desk, the art cabinet & the easel all crammed in there is was hard to move about & not feel cramped. Almost suffocating. That doesn’t make for good Mojo or creativity.
It occurred to me that I was using the biggest bedroom in the house the least amount of time & for nothing more than sleeping & keeping my dirty laundry.
Why? I mean, once I realized what I was doing, it seemed really dumb. Of course, everyone I know uses the big bedroom for exactly that. The bedroom. My parents did, my grandparents did, most if not all of my friends do. It’s what we are trained to do. We don’t even question it. Of course, most everyone I know except me has a TV in the bedroom. That is & always will be an unchangeable rule. No TV in the bedroom. Period. If you have insomnia, I promise you, removing the stupid TV set from your bedroom is a great first step in curing it. You can’t reach REM with light patterns & noise going on around you. Not unless you’re 2 or 92.
I decided that it made way more sense to utilize that extra space & to combine some of the other stuff in the house to go into the large bedroom. So, I did. It’s been 3 weeks & I am 98.9% done getting everything back into a place. The space has more natural lighting & more windows. Both things I hated in the sleeping room. It’s the warmer of the two rooms, which I love for creating. If I’m cold at all, I curl up into a ball & fall asleep. I can open both windows in the spring & fall & get a wonderful breeze. Refreshing. It feels right.
This Friday I will finish up & get that Jem painting completed. I’m so excited. It’s almost like having a whole new house!
Look! Jen Elsner’s new book is available for pre-order! Don’t forget. You know you want one.
Go here: Amazon
Jen E. is very excited about this. She worked long & hard & I really hope it’s a success. The book drops on September 1st!
Get some for any of your football loving family for the holidays!
I truly believe the more confidence you are filled with in childhood, the more secure & successful adult you will be. Of course this is just a theory. Still, what can it hurt to instill confidence in a child or anyone for that matter? So, every Monday I am going to try & come up with a way to instill confidence in people.
Today’s is art related.
Remember when you were a kid & you would work for what seemed like hours on a drawing? Remember the feeling you had when you thought you had done something amazing? The excitement!? The sheer joy & feeling of accomplishment? The next step was to run as fast as you could to the nearest person & show them.
Now, this is an important moment. Do NOT take this moment lightly. Your child has worked hard. Art is hard work. It demands concentration. It requires observation & attention to detail. These are good things. Things you should want to nurture. The more you nurture these things, the more likely they are to repeat them & perfect them. This is also true in adults. It works with almost anything you want someone to have confidence in, repeat & perfect.
Take whatever it is your child drew & really look at it. Stop whatever you are doing. Get off FaceBook. Turn off the TV. UNPLUG. Connect with this person. Look at it. Really look at it. Be amazed by it. Do NOT say it’s “pretty good”. Say positive encouraging things. Or just say “Wow!” and listen to them explain it. Then, whatever you do, make sure #1 on your shopping list is a frame for it. Seriously. Go get a frame for it. They’re like $10 at Wal-mart or Dollar General or some similar place. Get one. Now, frame it.
Don’t hang it in their room or your bedroom. The child will view this as you being nice but too embarrassed to let others see it. Hang it right smack dab in the place that company is most likely to see it. Put it where you would put your prized Picasso or Van Gogh if you ever had the chance to own one. You know exactly the spot I’m talking about.
I never had this happen as a kid. Not once. I did, however, have it happen to me this May. My amazing friend Cindy did exactly that. I drew her a picture while I was staying at her house. She immediately went to the store with me in tow, bought a frame & stuck my drawing up & hung it in her living room. I almost cried. I can’t even begin to tell you what that felt like, but I will say that it was warm & beautiful & made me even more confident in what I do & who I am.
These things are the things that are really important.
Every once and a while there is an artist that comes along that is bold. Courageous. Free. The general population hates those people. The normals call them show off’s, media whores, attention whores, etc. They lack the intelligence to understand what they are seeing. The freedom they are witnessing. The art right in front of them. Amanda Palmer is one of those real artists. Rare. Bold. Truth. She writes, sings, plays, paints…everything. She throws labels in the trash. She erases boundaries. She represents true artistic freedom. And it’s beautiful. If you can’t see the beauty, I feel sorry for you. I really do. It’s a type of freedom we should all exist in or at least experience once. The whole world would be better for it.
Here’s her new video.
Be careful. It isn’t for those who lack an understanding of freedom or art.
Anytime I create I have to set up my space & set up the mood. This requires three essential things. Nag Champa, a tasty beverage, and music. I have a 60 disc changer & the Mac in the art room. So, I have a choice. I-tunes, Spotify, or actual CD’s. I know! Who uses CD’s anymore?! *Raises Hand* Me. I do.
If you know me at all, you know I identify musically as an old school headbanger. Yep, I’m a metalhead. I love it all, too. From glam to death metal. I often have to keep my ear to the ground to learn when my favorite artists are releasing new stuff. MTV doesn’t even acknowledge the bands they used to promote so heavily in the 80′s. Many Metal mags only focus on the hardcore stuff or the legends. Some of my favorite bands often slip through the cracks when they put something new out, and it takes a year or so before I come across it. Social Networking sites have made that much better. Bands that use those get my money much quicker. I already know that Doro Pesch, the Goddess of Metal herself, has a new album coming out this fall. You better believe I will have it the day it comes out.
Just last month Lita Ford released her first real album in forever. Let me tell you, it rocks. If you ever liked Lita Ford, you should go get it. It stirs the soul to hear Lita play the way the metal gods intended her to. So seriously, you should go pick it up.
Now, the reason I like Metal to paint to is that a whole slew of Metal artists use very vivid fantasy type lyrics. In fact, Fantasy Metal is my favorite of all Metal. It is also often refered to as Power Metal. Warriors, Gods, Devils, Angels, Battles, Barbarians, swords, you name it. They sing about it. Mirrors of time, thieves, Dragons, treasure, ghosts, darkness, wolves, etc. All of this stuff gives me tons of creative ideas. My mind just swirls with it. I reach perfect balance & stillness when I am breathing in the Nag Champa, hearing the chorus & harmonizing guitars, smelling the paint, feeling it glide across the canvas & creating. There is literally nothing better in this life. When all of these elements come together perfectly, there is no time, no pain, no anything but pure amazing fulfillment. Love.
Metal isn’t the only way for me to reach that though. There are days when the Metal doesn’t resonate. Sometimes I need Movie Scores. I have hundreds of movie scores. Hans Zimmer writes some amazing compositions, as did Basil Poledouris. I really feel like Movie Composers are the lost geniuses of the classical music world today the way Illustrators are the lost Masters of the Arts. The emotions these composers are able to transfer through sound are amazing. So when I know I need a certain emotional feel to a piece, I carefully pick one of my hundreds of scores & pop it in.
The CD changer is loaded with everything though. It’s an unbelievable mess of eclecticism. It is filled with things like Shakira, Taylor Dayne, Heart, Ella Fitzgerald, Iron Maiden, Lamb of God, Dolly Parton, Billy Idol, the Bangles, Pink, Doro, Britney Spears, Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Diana Krall, Enya, T.A.T.U., Joseph LoDuca, John Williams, Heather Nova, Sophie B. Hawkins & more. The i-tunes is even more eclectic than that. I have my playlists there as well. Playlists sorted for certain moods. Certain atmospheres. Creating a good playlist is an art of its own. I even have a soundtrack to my life playlist.
Once the music is in place, the tasty beverage is essential. This varies with the temperature. It also varies with how healthy I’m feeling that day. Since I’ve had to get a day J-O-B in an office, I have acquired what is referred to as office spread. That’s where your ass becomes three times the size it used to be & you start getting this pooch right around your belly button because you sit on your ass all day & deal with mental & emotional stress. I prefer physical jobs where I am constantly moving, with smaller amounts of mental & emotional stress, but for some reason, they don’t pay you enough peanuts to live on with those types of J-O-B’s.
I digress. Tasty beverage. In the past it was always Dr. Pepper. Dublin if I could get it. Since the Dublin fiasco & the bully destruction of Dublin Dr. Pepper, by the Dr. Pepper Co. I can’t get that anymore. Soda is bad for me anyway. Especially the HFCS & Sodium Benzoate. That stuff is poison in a can. So, I switched to Throwback Pepsi. LOL. Yeah, I know, not much better. If it isn’t Throwback Pepsi, then it’s a nice hot cup of Equal Exchange Fair trade Organic coffee. With two sugars and cream. Fattening. Sheesh, I can’t win. Water just doesn’t get it for me. So coffee or Throwback Pepsi it is. Occasionally, when I’m feeling naughty & throw caution to the wind, it’s a Cherry Dr. Pepper. Shhh….
With the music & tasty beverage in place, I light the Nag Champa & the stage for creation is set.
What is your creation ritual? Is there something you need to feel energized to start? How do you set your stage?
Well, I have to go in for an MRI on my right leg today. Apparently the excruciating pain I have been having is a possible stress fracture. I’m a little down about it. I really was very happy with my work-out routine. I was starting to already see results & I felt way better. Now, I have to wait. I have to wait to work-out or even walk on my leg. If it is indeed a stress fracture, then I have to not use it for 6 to 8 weeks. UGH. This completely messes up my goal. If it isn’t a stress fracture, I guess we will see what the deal is. Although, I won’t find out until next Thursday. They have to send my doctor the scans & then he will go over them with me Thursday. I dislike waiting. It makes me extremely anxious. I did get X-rays. That’s always fun!
So, I can’t work-out. My lower half. Or any part of me that might put stress on my leg. I can, however, paint. So, that’s good. At least it isn’t my arm about to fall off. That was a couple years ago. I am aware how much I stand to paint though. How I move my body & hold positions for long periods of time. My own form of Yoga. Breathing is very important as you move a brush to paint thin lines. The steadiness of your hand. The stamina of your core. So, my injury will affect how I paint. How I move. It should be interesting. I’m a little hard headed, so staying off my leg/foot is going to be one hell of a challenge. I can’t sit on the floor well either. I can’t seem to find a good position for it to be in without the position causing pain. Right now, I have two paintings going. Xena still needs finished & I started another large 42″ x 36″ painting, this time of Jem. Jem the 80′s cartoon character from Jem & the Holograms.
I’m a little intimidated by Xena. It’s why I stopped. All that brass & copper on the breastplate are going to be a real challenge. Getting the rest of her face to pop is too. However, I can feel the challenge pulling at me. Teasing me. Luring me back like a siren. A giant Xena & Gabrielle might be next. I still want to do Sarah Connor & Wilma Derring as well. I need more 3 or 4 day weekends. This 8 to 5 crap is for the birds. I just don’t work that way. Let me get up at 2 PM, get some food, exercise, run some errands & them paint until the sun comes up. That’s the life.
I also have got to get started on my portfolio pieces. I want to start with a Treasure Island cover. Help me out. What books have you read that you hated the cover to or would like to see me do a cover for? Leave me a title in the comments. Thanks!
This weekend was wonderful. I finally got a weekend to do exactly what I love to do. Paint & work-out. I’ve needed it pretty badly. I slept in until 4PM, got up, got some food, went & got a few supplies & then worked out hard & then painted. I painted until 7 in the morning.
Above is the painting I started. It’s the same size as the Wonder Woman painting I did. BIG. 42″ x 36″ I got quite a bit done. I painted for at least 8 hours if not more. Let’s see…8 hrs. x $15.00 = $120.00 + $70.00 for canvas + supplies = $190.00. So ,that’s where we are on the pricing so far.
I also managed to squeeze out a nice tattoo design for a cool lady named Willie that I worked with at Toys R Us years back. I can’t wait to see it on her! I did a sugar skull for a guy a while back, but never got to see it on him.
I worked out Friday, Saturday & yesterday. I lift free weights & use the gym machine we bought. I did crunches as well. Lots of crunches. Ouch. There is something I love about the pain you get with free weights. It’s a good hurt. I am determined to get this extra fat off my body & get back into shape. I realized this weekend that the last time I gained this much fat on my body was when I was extremely unhappy & depressed in high school. It was the very next year that I met my personal trainer, Jodi & in 6 months looked like Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. I wish Jodi was here to help me out, but I remember everything she taught me. I have lots of reasons to get in shape as well. Being in the sort of shape that I like makes me extremely confident. Even more so than I am now. I’m generally a confident person. I know this much, I can already feel the positive effects. I feel so great this morning. I think it’s called Happy. LOL. I’m playing my Shakira playlist on Spotify here at my desk as I try & sort through the mess of cancelled classes & added classes & what that means for my book adoptions. Daunting. Confusing & tedious, yet somehow, no big deal. Even the UPS guy noted what a good mood I was in. I hope no one is able to infect that positivity with negativity. I’m bombarded with it on a pretty constant basis. Shakira does make an amazing shield from negativity. It just bounces away as I wiggle to the beat in my seat!
I can do this. I can have the happy I desire. Even if it means making some really hard decisions. Hard work & focus. Art & weightlifting.
My sidekick is on vacation in Ohio. Her family lives there & we rarely have enough money for both of us to fly back. It seems we can never both get the same days off work either. So generally 2 or 3 times a year, I get left alone for a week or so. Well, not completely alone. I have the dog. Last time the bard left us alone, I was lying next to the dog on the couch talking to her when she took her paw & put it on my mouth. LOL. I kid you not. She was like, “Mommie, please shut up.” Ha!
I love this time. I can reset or veg out or just have some time to myself. This time, it’s particularly important to me. I’ve realized that I’ve been in a rut. I’ve allowed myself to fall into some pretty unhealthy habits. Watching too much TV. Sitting & talking & drinking high calorie caffeinated drinks for hours. NOT painting & NOT working out.
I get to remember what it’s like to be me, without T. I’m much more active. I may talk to the dog, but that’s about all the talking I do. I get to think. I don’t have to think about what to eat or how to fit this or that into my day. I eat when I’m hungry. I wake up when I want on the weekend I go to sleep when I’m tired. Simplicity.
T is a planner. She plans every second of the day. Frankly, it drives me nuts. I can’t stand it. I’m more like the dog. There is one thing & one thing only the dog wants every day. Her walk. She doesn’t plan anything. She doesn’t know how her day is going to go. She wakes up when I wake up, or on Saturday, when the tornado test sirens sound at noon. When it starts to get dark, if I haven’t taken her for a walk she lets me know, “Hey, Mommie, are we going?! It’s getting dark.”
I love to work out. Yesterday, I worked out for an hour and a half with free weights & all the gym equipment we have in the garage. It felt great. I jogged most of the way with the dog yesterday. I did the same today.
I eat much less when T is away. Sometimes I only eat once a day. I mean one meal. I might have a peach for breakfast, a Yogurt for lunch & then a meal. Sometimes lunch is my big meal. It depends. I just go with the flow.
I know I need these days to boost my creativity. Just letting things go where they take me causes a whole bunch of creative energy. It’s who & how I am.
So, I slept in today. Tonight, I’m painting. When I get hungry, I’ll stop & eat. Then, back to painting. I have no idea what I will do tomorrow. I’m not worried about that in the slightest.
I just wanted to let everyone know that T’s book is now available on Amazon.com for pre-order. It’s $14.99 & chocked full of great yummy recipes. This is her first Publication & we are very excited about it!
Please go check it out & if you love good food or like hosting game-day parties, pick one up. They will also make great gifts for family, friends, or co-workers!
Don’t forget to follow her food blog over at: http://omghaveyoutastedthis.blogspot.com/
Thank you! We appreciate it!
Well, it’s been about three weeks since Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! and I have yet to paint. It’s okay. Don’t panic. I’ve been drawing. Back to basics, right? The hardest part of starting over is knowing where to start. When I first started out, it was easy. I just start at the beginning. Starting over is more difficult. I have so many points to pick from to start over. Which one is the right one?
Luckily, I’ve reach the point of being impatient with impatience. So, I just picked what seemed most logical. Drawing is a foundation for all good art. If you can’t draw a good composition or a good base to start from, then you’ve already lost. I’m not saying I need to draw like DaVinci but I do need to be able to get down the information I will need to go further with my work. That’s how I work anyway. I’ll tell you right now though, every single artist works their own way. Same with Writers. There’s no magic formula. You have to do it the way you do it best. Whatever way that helps you improve in a timely fashion.
For me, that also requires me to change my routine. Basically, I need to break the routine I am in. I’ve already started. Drawing every night is a step in changing. No more coming home, falling on the couch all depressed & falling asleep. Oh yes, I had gotten there. That place I never dreamed I’d get. The one I used to watch my Father & Mother repeat day in & day out. Get up earlier than I want, go to meaningless job, take in tons of negativity, come home exhausted & crash. Eat, crash again. Cry about how I don’t get the point of existence. Go to bed.
It’s a terrible feeling. Hopeless & empty. Relatives never help with advice at this point either. They all tell you that they’ve been there. Just hang in there. The j-o-b has great benefits or pays well or some crap that really doesn’t matter. What good are benefits when you have to struggle not to hang yourself in the garage every day? If it isn’t what your heart desires, don’t stick with it kids. Seriously, it’ll kill you.
So that’s where I am at. Out of the garage & literally back to the drawing board. Drawing. This weekend, I will map out the master plan. I might even share it with you, my readers. In fact, I think I will. You all help keep me honest.
Wow. I can’t believe I almost decided NOT to go to the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! in Kansas City. My anxiety almost got the best of me. Luckily, I made a promise to my friend Cindy that T & I would come visit & stay at her place. I also made a New Year’s resolution to say “YES!” this year. Especially when I know I want to do it. I’m not going to let the anxiety keep me locked up.
The last time I was in Kansas City, MO was in 1993. I had a campus tour of the Kansas City Arts Institute. I had been accepted & my parents wanted to check the place out. That turned out to be a bad idea. They didn’t like the co-ed dorms. They really didn’t like the price & it was too far away for them to keep tabs on me. I left Kansas City in tears.
Kansas City Arts Institute had accepted me, but my parents still hadn’t. It was too big a gamble for them. All that money for a degree in Art? It didn’t matter that I would learn skills to help me make my dreams come true. It didn’t matter that they had a placement program with the very company I dreamed of working for. All they heard was $10,000 a semester and I saw my dreams crumbled before my eyes. I will never forget the way it felt when my Father turned from the Drivers seat of the car & looked right at me & said, “You aren’t going here.”
My life path was completely destroyed. It didn’t matter where I went after that. ANY school was second rate.
So, there I was, standing in Kansas City again, May 17th, 2012, 19 years later. Still no further along with my art career than I was in 1993. I felt broken, exhausted, & ashamed, but maybe, I thought, just maybe I can learn something to inspire me. Set me on a better path. Give me a clue of what to do. If not, I can at least meet some of the artists that keep my fire burning. Artists like Brom, Mignola, Donato & more.
I walked into the Grand Ballroom & one of the first things I see is the above banner of Luke on the TaunTaun by McQuarrie. I broke down. I cried right there. I felt two things. I felt my soul tear as I read his words above the fictional character that I admired the most. I was supposed to be creating art. Feeling the same way. Being an artist & loving every second of it. I also felt that I might just be in the right place. That perhaps, I was among my people. It turns out that as the day wore on, I wasn’t wrong about the second feeling & the first began to subside.
I listened to artists talk about feeling like frauds. How they were sure some sort of art police were trailing them & were going to arrest them at any moment. I laughed, but I knew exactly what they were talking about. However, thoughts like, “Yeah, but I DIDN’T feel like that 19 years ago!!!” kept popping into my head. I struggled to let go of the past. I cried a whole lot at this Conference/Convention. I had to step away from artists quickly when I would feel a rush of emotion coming up. T was there. Every step of the way. She knew what was happening. She understood. She’s an artist as well.
By day three, it was clear what I had to do. Every piece of the puzzle that was missing was handed to me. Every single one. The artists as well as the art directors were amazingly helpful & so incredibly inclusive & friendly. They all want to help each other & any of us willing to put in the hard work. After years of wondering what the point of art was & losing my focus it became clear. The purpose is happiness. It’s okay to do art just because I love it. It doesn’t have to be for any other reason. No deeper purpose.
I learned so much. I laughed. I was inspired. I cried. Ultimately, I put the demons away. Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! replaced that memory from 19 years ago. Kansas City wasn’t the place where my dreams died anymore, but the place where they were reborn. Maybe I left them there & just finally came & picked them up. Either way, I’m renewed.
Spectrum gave me hope. Now all I have to do is create. Create & submit. Work hard at improving. Be the best & do what I love. I sure hope they come back next year so I can hand them my portfolio. If I even need to. Who knows, I might be working for TOR by then.
Wow! Today was chocked full of so much information, I thought my head would explode. T & I had to tag team it today. I took some & she took others so that we didn’t miss too much. We started the day off together in Room H in the Grand Hall to hear the panel on “Getting Started in Science Fiction and Fantasy”.
Each artist emphasized quality over quantity. 6 great portfolio pieces are better than 20 good ones. Each artist talked about how important it is to know the publisher or company you are going to submit to. Don’t send them crap that doesn’t look anything like what they produce. They taught us how to set up an online portfolio. That we need to look at Illustration or art in this field, as branches of a tree, not a latter. There are no latters here.
One of the most important things I learned is NOT to include your resume or CV or work history. Art Directors don’t give a crap if you have a degree or where you’ve worked or how many gallery shows you’ve had or how many contests you’ve won. They don’t care if you learned to draw yourself or had the greatest illustrator in the world teach you. They only care about your work. Does it meet their needs?
Wanna break in? What you should be doing is painting. Everyday. Improving. Find a company that produces the things you love. If you love Star Wars, find a company that produces artwork for Star Wars products & paint Star Wars. Gear it to that specific company. If that isn’t your thing or doesn’t make you happy, do what does. Find your niche & specialize.
Sounds pretty simple, huh. Everyone at Spectrum said the same. All of them. They didn’t believe it was that easy at first. That’s the secret though. That’s the thing. It is. Paint what you love. Sculpt what you love. Do it every day & do it well. The best you can. Then, submit, submit, submit.
The painting above is by an Artist named Donato He does some fabulous work & was on the panel “Artist as Brand”. It’s his version of Red Sonja. I bought a print & he signed it. Pretty sweet.
If I break down each panel & give you the details, this blog post would be a mini-book, so I’m going to try & just sum up today in main points.
Build a small but strong Portfolio.
Emotion, Narrative & Mood are essential in your work.
Do what makes you happy & what you love.
Know the body of the work of the company.
Use the internet to build a fanbase.
Have a clean online portfolio that has regular updates.
Submit to the company that does the stuff you love.
Contact them every 3 months with new stuff.
Don’t give up.
Paint, sculpt, create, everyday.
How you do your work isn’t important. What it looks like in the end is.
Quality over quantity.
Be your best & show your best. You are selling yourself as well as your work.
That doesn’t even begin to skim the surface of all the information I received today. My head is swimming with art & I feel so hopeful. I am so glad I came & so very glad that Spectrum decided to come way out here to the Midwest to give me the opportunity to hear & learn & meet & mingle with so many great artists who have been so wonderful & sharing.
I have a goal again, and that’s incredibly important. Now, to gear up for day 3. I can’t imagine what wonders await me!
I made it! I can’t believe it! So far, I am so glad I did. I’ve already gotten some great art tips & I feel really relaxed with the crowd here. So many of the artists are very friendly & ready to share with you & answer questions! It really is Fantastic!
As soon as the doors opened at 3 PM, I darted right for one of my favorite artists booths. BROM has painted many things that I adore. I have a book, postcard set he did, as well as a Conan book he was commissioned to do a cover for. When he posted on his FB page that he was bringing 20 limited edition giclees of that very piece of work, I had to make sure I snagged one! It’s my very favorite piece by him & possible my favorite Conan image ever. It’s called “Snake Heart”.
He seemed very excited I was so eager to get my hands on one. He was very friendly & I was happy to get to talk art with him. I might have come off just a wee bit fangirl. Adoring fangirl. So what? I love his work. I hope one day I can be as good.
Another really great artist I met was Alex Ruiz. He’s a concept artist out of Burbank, CA. He was really great to talk to & also gave me some great advice. Amazing stuff.
Android Jones & Iain McCaig both spoke today. Much of what Android Jones talked about really resonated with me. Overcoming the fear & what you put into your work coming back around to you. I’d never really thought about it quite like that before. If all you paint is sad or distressed or dark work, then all that is just going to come back around to you. You can get caught in this circle of infinite sadness & fear. I always sort of thought of it the other way around. As purging that fear or sadness, but I really think Android was right. It made sense.
Iain McCaig is a concept artist. He basically made John Carter of Mars look the way it does. Him & his hand picked team. We got to see the process of how John Carter of Mars went from Paramount to Disney & what was kept & what was discarded & how the characters changed. He said that it usually takes him three drawings to get a basic idea of what a character will look like. The first one is always a crap drawing & he even joked that he often writes “Crap Drawing” at the top of the page. He was very animated & fun. I hope I get to talk to him more. Oh, btw, Iain came up with Darth Maul’s look. Him & Queen Amidala. Both favorites of mine from the prequels. Very cool.
(Photo of Iain McCaig by Hot Grill)
So there you have it. Day one. It was fantastic, it was art, & it was live. Thanks Spectrum for coming to KCMO this year! I can’t wait until tomorrow!
Tomorrow, my beautiful bard, Turayis, graduates with her Masters in Professional Writing. I am so proud of her.
15 years ago, when I met her, she worked at Arby’s. You know, the roast beef sandwich fast food joint. She always smelled like roast beef when she came home. She had no direction really. She had fun at work, but I could see she was smarter than just fast food. Not to mention, I was getting really tired of the smell of roast beef. LOL.
She was always wanting to go to Barnes & Noble so she could research stuff. I never met anyone who liked to research random things as much as I did until I met her. In all honesty, I think she loved it more. So every weekend, we would hop in my sweet Buick LeSabre and burn rubber with the windows down, blasting metal tunes up to Norman & chill at the Barnes & Noble, sipping our Starbuck’s Mochas until they closed. T would bring note books and sit there for hours writing interesting facts she would find in an array of books she had piled on one of the small tables next to her chair.
We eventually moved to Norman in 2001. Sometimes I swear we did it just to be closer to the Barnes & Noble. I got a job right next door to it, at the Toys R Us to support my action figure/Star Wars addiction. T got a job at…Arby’s. Yep, she just transferred. I was a little surprised and disappointed. Everything was beginning to smell like roast beef. I knew she was smarter than Arby’s. I was hoping she’d give herself a fresh start. Arby’s in Norman wasn’t the same though. It wasn’t as fun. She quit not long after and ended up at an Eye Mart Express. That job turned into hell for her. It was also when she began to question what she really wanted to do. She realized she was unhappy.
She went from job to job for a little bit. Trying to find a niche. A starting point. She worked at the Movie theater, Blockbuster, and somewhere else I think. It’s hard to remember. It seems like a lifetime ago. Finally, she had a breakdown. There were tears & much gnashing of the teeth. I asked her, “Why don’t you go to college?” She didn’t think she was smart enough.
This person who was constantly researching, taking notes, and learning things on her own, didn’t think she was smart enough for college. LOL! Seriously?! This woman, who had learned how to make chain mail herself by reading a book?! This woman, who had a hunger and desire to learn as much as she could didn’t think she could make it at college? She didn’t though. She was petrified.
Then there was the cost issue. Two minimum wage jobs barely paid the rent and bills. She was certain we’d never be able to manage to afford college. Especially the one in our city, which happened to be the best in the state. I don’t know if I was just naive or if I knew it was just too important to let money get in the way, but I told her…I promised her, it would work out. We could pay for it. I’m still not exactly sure how we did. I think all of T’s hard work and scholarships helped a whole lot.
I was amazed when she finally decided that, yes, she wanted to go to college. She just went and did it. She walked right into the biggest University in the state.
Here we are, not many years later, and she is walking out with a Masters. Clearly, she was more than smart enough. I’m so proud of her. She set herself goals, and I’ll be damned if she didn’t hit the mark on every single one. She even managed to pull off the one that I wasn’t sure she’d make. Getting published. She got a real book deal with a real publisher and just yesterday, they sent her the final revisions with all the photos for her to go over and send back. As soon as it is sent back, the book goes into production. Amazing. She’s amazing.
So congratulations to the most amazing woman I know. I knew you could do it. You have so much magic inside you. Thank you to all of our wonderful friends that have supported her and us in any of our endeavors. It would be a much darker & difficult path without your love to light the way.
(Picture Copyright Jen Tucker)
Friday was my Religious Holiday! May 4th! Star Wars Day! This year it was little more special because the wonderful bard I share my life with was defending for her Masters. She became a Master Jedi Bard. How cool is that? It’s no easy accomplishment, but she sure made it look easy. I am very proud of all her hard work.
She has a book coming out in August or September that I will be sure to post about as soon as I get permissions.
It is also opening weekend for the Avengers. I’m excited about that! However, I am disappointed that IMAX has made it to where I have to wait to get to see my movies in the Warren Theater Balcony. I don’t care for all the 3D halabaloo & I’m not sure I would be able to handle IMAX. Unfortunately, the Warren is only showing it in Director’s Suites & IMAX. I guess we shall see what pans out. So far it’s made over $200 million dollars in the box office. The best weekend opening for a film ever!
It was also free comic book day on Saturday. We totally forgot. I don’t know how that is possible, but we did. I of course blame the bard. We had her Graduation/defense party on the same day. Our wonderful friends Nick & Sara came out as well as our wonderful friends Holli & David, who just had a beautiful baby boy three weeks ago. It was their first night out since the baby.
I got one Roma tomato off my tomato plant this weekend as well! Hooray! All in all a pretty good weekend. Now, the bard is fixing dinner, baseball is on the TV (The Mets already won today!), and the weekend is drawing to a close. I hope everyone has a fantastic week this week. I hope I get some serious artwork started!
I’ve been working on this one today. I really need to invest in a Wacom tablet, but I really don’t have any money right now. I’ve been wearing my glasses for over a month because I can’t afford to go to the eye doctor & get contacts. I’ve done all of the coloring on this with a rollerball mouse. I can’t imagine how much quicker it would be with a tablet. I like the way it’s turning out though. I want a 1940′s Propaganda Poster look. I might even rough it up a little after i get all the base colors on. Make it look a little worn.
If you want to break into commercial design & start making a name, contests are sometimes a great way to do this. People start associating your style with your name & your name becomes familiar. The more contests you enter, the more people see your name & art & the more likely you are to get hired for other design jobs.
Threadless has a contest. Well, several contests you can do some designs for. Some of the prizes are a little lame, like an email gift voucher, redeemable for one 12-inch by 12-inch canvas ($40 value). Yeah, kinda lame, but like I said above, it isn’t about the $40 canvas, it’s about your name & your design & people seeing it. Exposure.
Others, like the Sesame Street Challenge, give you a whole lot more. 2 grand more. As well as bragging rights to a Sesame Street shirt. How cool is that?
You might want to check it out. There’s even a Neil Gaiman prize with one of the challenges. They are all pretty good causes.
I am going to attempt this. What is it? Well, it’s lots of different things. It’s sort of an Artist Convention. It’s sort of an Art workshop weekend. It’s sort of an illustration & graphic art expo. It’s kind of a gathering of weirdos with drawing skills. I’m pretty excited. I have hopes. That’s sort of a big deal for me. Having hopes. As the Wonder Woman painting post below proves, many times things just don’t work out right for me. It’s cool. I’ve come to expect that. I’m pretty hard to disappoint. I just hope I find some answers. Get some leads. Gather a better understanding.
There are workshops with titles like: Getting Started in Science Fiction and Fantasy, Artist as Brand, & Women & the Fantastic Arts. There are one on one talks with artists like Mike Mignola & Brom. There is even a life drawing session late at night atop the Aladdin sponsored by TAD. Oh, and portfolio reviews. I don’t even have a portfolio right now. How sad is that?
I guess what I’m really looking for is direction.
I sure hope I find it here. Or at least an arrow pointing to a path that might lead me to a direction. I’ve never felt more lost in my life than I have these last few years. I was always absolutely certain I was an artist & that I would make my living doing art. Lately, though, I’ve wondered if I didn’t make some horrible mistake. I have moments where the universe seems to be reassuring me, but sometimes I wonder. I have to find a direction soon. A path. A goal. I have to.
So, yes, I guess I have a few hopes going into this. I hope they aren’t too unrealistic. I hope I click. I hope I find my peeps. I hope I find my path. Nothing too big.
Hey, I have a Flickr Page that I would LOVE for you guys & gals to go check out if you haven’t yet. Head on over to http://www.flickr.com/artistjentucker
If you look over at the top right hand corner of this here blog, you will see that i have added a gallery called Sketches & Misc. Art. This is stuff that has been hidden away in random sketch pads & has never seen the light of day. Some of it was drawn with the intent to turn it into something different, some to pass the time & some…well, who knows. I hope you enjoy. Who knows, maybe it will force me to do something with it.
This is a piece I did by taking an ink & pencil drawing, scanning it in, & then working to finish it in Photoshop. Turned out pretty nice. The photo here has a few reflections in it due to it being under glass. I just don’t have the lighting set-up to shoot it without getting some sort of flash glare or reflection.
Creating art on the computer is not nearly as fulfilling as putting paint to canvas for me, however, when time is an issue, it can be a life saver. Programs can run you thousands of dollars though. Which makes it tough for an artist that hasn’t really established themselves yet. I own a copy of Photoshop CS3. I think they are up to 5 now. There are so many programs I would love to get my hands on in order to experiment more. When those programs cost as much as your mortgage payment, it makes it tough to justify.
Well, I finally got the eyes painted. I feel a sense of accomplishment there. Those eyes were scaring me. Xena’s eyes are after all one of the very most important aspects of capturing her character. I think I got them. I still have to bring more depth to the one on the right, but I’m far from done. Still not sure about that background either. I think it needs to be even more abstract. Guess we will see.
So, my beautiful companion Turayis just found out yesterday that her book proposal has been accepted. This is fantastic news! Her goal was to be published BEFORE she got her M.A. & with this deal she will have reached that goal. I am so proud of her. It’s not exactly what she thought she’d publish, although, ironically, it is something that I had joked around with her about publishing. It’s nothing that will make her rich & famous, but it is a foot in the door at a real legit publisher. It is real work for real money. The way it all happened was pretty magical as well. I can’t say much yet because T tends to be a little superstitious about these things & wants to make sure the contract is signed & official before she lets me spill all the beans.
In other news, I received my official Universal prop replica of Xena’s Sword & Scabbard today. I’m pretty sure having a sword on University property is probably breaking some sort of rule or code, but most everyone has the day off for the big football game today. Besides, I didn’t want it to sit on the front porch all day. In even further news, it looks like we are aiming for L.A. in two years or less. We went from Ohio, to Vermont, to Kansas City to L.A. Seriously though, any of those places other than L.A. would be hard to pitch screenplays in. It’s funny, T & I have been laughing & crying & just completely shocked about how ready we are. It’s like we finally woke up. This time together. We’ve always wanted to create stories. All I wanted to do when I was a kid was work in the movie business. I wanted to work as a make-up artist mentoring under Rick Baker or be a Muppeteer working with Jim Henson or a model builder working for ILM or Stan Winston. That’s what I planned on my whole young life. Then CGI happened. I understand now that I just want to be part of this amazing process. Special effects artist, co-screenplay writer, producer, director…just part of it. So does T. Except she is absolutely focused on screen writing. She’s good, too. I’m not the only one telling her that. We’re doing it. Right now. We are legitimately working toward it. Both of us. Together. Focused. We are going to make this happen. We have lots of love & support from our little family that has stuck with us over the years. We have wonderful friends. They’ve kept us strong, even in the worst of times.
We used to be scared to even think of L.A. Hell, honestly, 6 months ago we were scared of L.A. Then we realized that we have lived in some of the most screwed up weird places in all of Oklahoma. We’ve had a body bagged across the street from us, an escapee chase us into our apartment & try to break in for 30 minutes as we stood ready to take him down with swords, should he get through, someone chase us in a car after threatening us in traffic, lived in apartment next to a hoarder who lived with dead cats & had a flea infestation, next to pot dealers neighbors, next to big time super thug gang banging drug dealers dealing prescription drugs & who knows what else, Muslims, Hispanics, Native Americans, African Americans & Rednecks. We’ve backpacked 12 miles across Ft. Worth, walked just as many miles in the dark back home from a broken down car at 3 in the morning & had thieves break into our car & steal a bicycle from us. Honestly, how is L.A. going to be any worse? At least in L.A. we aren’t going to be working toward endless nothingness. At the end of the day, your work was to reach a goal. Even if you’re working in a mail room.
So, we’re off, The Warrior Princess & her Battling Bard, heading to our next adventure. We have no idea where the universe is taking us next. Just check back here from time to time & find out.
Good grief! Did the planet’s rotation speed up or something?! I’m so busy, it’s hard to find a moment to spare. I haven’t even gotten to my paintings this last month. I have two more I am ready to start. The weekends are going by so fast that I don’t even believe they exist anymore. They are like a sweet little dream.
Still, somethings moving. The Universe is stirring. Can you feel it? Something good. Something amazing. Never believe that you can’t be that one-in-a-million. Somebody has to be it. Why not you? Let me tell you, kids…things happen in the most amazing ways. Sometimes you wonder why you are where you are & what it all means, but there’s a reason. Open your eyes & take every opportunity it hands you.
Cool things have happened since my last post. So many cool things. I’ve met new people, published an article on Xena for real honest to gods $$$, and just made a deal with a publisher. Weird. I don’t know if I’m just more confident about saying yes or if things just keep aligning right. One thing I do know, is that the Universe loves me. I can feel it. There’s something amazing about just existing at all & sometimes the weight of all the crap seems to make me forget that. Not today. Thank you Universe. Go check out my Xena article over at Lesbilicious, if you haven’t yet. I also have a fan page for the Warrior Princess over on FB. It’s called the Xena Netforum in tribute to that place all us Xenites used to hang out & chat about each episode after it aired. Go “Like” it & join in, if you enjoy or enjoyed the show.
Well, Obviously I need to figure out how to set a Spam filter on WordPress. Good lord. Anyone wanna help me out with that? Chris, I’m looking at you.
Make sure to check out the Gallery for new additions & also prices & sizes. If you are interested in purchasing a piece, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see what I am currently working on, check out the Works in Progress page. Once pieces are finished, they will be moved to the gallery & priced for sale. Thanks for looking!
I started working on this rather large tribute to Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman all the way back in February. I was trapped in my house due to a blizzard & had a serendipitous extended leave from work because of it. What better time to start a painting. Finding time since has been a little more difficult. I have a “pays the bills” full time job at a large University. Sometimes, well most of the time, I am wiped out by the time I get home. I’m trying to work out a better pattern to get more time in. It seems to be improving. I’ve had so many distractions this year. Drug dealer renters that moved in next door, storms that knocked my privacy fence & beloved plum tree down. There was a whole lot of yard clean-up from that. I’m still not quite done. There were tornadoes that came within 7 miles of here. I was given the honor of being part of a wedding & helping out with it. Now it’s 100 degrees (literally) outside. The weather itself has been a source of much stress this year. Stress & creativity do not necessarily work well together. Still, like I said earlier, I’m trying to change old patterns. If you want to see the whole progression of the painting from beginning up until the pic above, head over to my Flickr site: ArtistJenTucker My plan is to have her all finished by this time next month.
Nothing new yet. I know, I know, you can’t wait. Patience, young Jedi. New things are bound to pop up this weekend. Hey! Get your minds out of the gutter. Nothing new really going on here. I’ve got to tackle finishing that Wonder Woman painting. I’m nervous. I really don’t want to mess it up. It is seriously one of the best things I think I’ve ever done. I really want to finish it, so I can get on to the next painting. I have a whole series that has started with this Wonder Woman painting. I’m going to paint as many of my female heroes as possible. Sarah Connor, Wilma Derring, Xena, Princess Leia, and more. They will all be different approaches & styles. Keep coming back to see what’s new!
Have a great weekend,
So far, so good. The amazing T has helped me get this little site going! It’s still under construction & I plan to add more to it, but so far I think it rocks! I took a three day vacation from my “pays the bills” job just to get ‘er up. It was a great three days. There was a home cooked pot roast, fresh ground Guatemalan coffee, bagels, fresh strawberries & blueberries, a trip to the theater to see “Thor”, that went along with the work. Not too shabby! Hopefully in the coming weeks you will see more features or widgets or whatever they call them pop up. Hope everyone has a great Thursday!