Friday, February 6, 2015

Merging Passions Into Purpose (even if one of those passions is antiquated)

On my drive to work today (the place 40% of my ideas come to me, the other 60% arriving in my shower) I got this bee in my bonnet to start teaching an animation class. No, I don't mean Maya or Renderman or Flash ...because I don't know any of that. What I do know is the old-school, draw it on paper and flip between the frames sort of animation. Stuff that look s like this:



(Granted, this needs some cleaning up, but you get the idea.)

Someone might ask, "Who needs to know this? Isn't it just a novelty, this day and age?"

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Friends and Miracles

As many of you know, I’m not much into the whole Santa Claus part of Christmas. I’m not in the vehement camp of “Santa is an evil lie we should not perpetrate on our children!” (OK, well, being honest here, not anymore) but neither do we play make-believe with our children that maybe a jolly man is going to sneak into our house and leave gifts.
But the spirit of Christmas miracles is alive and well in our house. More years than not, we have feared there would be nothing under the tree on the morning of December 25th, but this year was particularly precarious, given unforeseen increases in our expenses that outstripped our two modest incomes—even with a generous raise that should be taking effect for me soon. In the early weeks of December, we had not even thought about Christmas shopping, because the core of my being will not allow for pleasantries when the bills aren’t paid.

Friday, November 14, 2014

November: Memories, Loss, and HLA-B27

Life is messy for all of us, to one degree or another, whether on the surface, or carefully hidden. Today's blog post is mostly about allowing some of the mess to be on the surface, because sometimes grappling with it is therapeutic--if not for you, for me.

The closer we get to Thanksgiving, the harder November always gets for me, especially on those grey, dreary days we often have in Pennsylvania, where the trees are mostly bare and the air is a little raw. It makes me think of the day, 15 years ago, when my sisters discovered the body of my mother, who had died of a massive heart attack some time in the wee hours of the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Though the date was November 23rd, I always remember it as the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Beyond Price Goes Live--Hopefully the First of Many

Today marks a nerve-wracking moment in my author journey. To many, releasing one little short story on Kindle Direct Publishing probably sounds like a bit of an “And…?” milestone, but it marks something of a turning point for me, at least in my thinking.

For months now (really, ever since the rights to Curse Bearer reverted to me) I have been in a writer funk. A quagmire of doubt about the future of my writing.

I am mid-series with everything I am writing at the moment, and I don’t have anything brewing in the back of my mind that is independent of The Risen Age Archive or The Windrider Saga. This puts me in a very bad position in terms of growing my author platform through traditional publishing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Confession of an Inktober Quitter

I made it a little over half way through Inktober. And then I quit.

It wasn't one of those "petering out" events, where I just got tired of the activity and didn't make time to do it. In fact, I actually drew more during the second half of Inktober than I did in the beginning.

Just not in ink.

And why? Because I discovered, via the Inktober challenge to draw something in ink every day, that I am not very good at making finished pieces in ink. I really only like it for the sake of hashing out a thumbnail idea. It's actually great for that, because something about sketching quickly in ink prevents me from noodling unnecessary details into the concept stage. But when it comes to finished pieces that I really feel good about, pencil is my medium of choice. It just is. It's my first love.

 Now, it's not that people didn't appreciate the ink drawings I was doing, even while I was struggling to do them. In fact, the Asian-inspired villain I drew got the most "likes" of any Inktober drawing I offered up.

But the further I got into the process, the more I really wanted to sink my teeth in making something finished. And the more I tried to finish pieces in ink, the worse they got.

My awesome writers' group was super encouraging when I posted, for their eyes only, something I considered a failure. None of them reacted with the old "Not everything is a masterpiece," but with "I don't see why you hate this drawing." So at least I know I don't churn out total garbage, even on my worst days. At least not in the eyes of the casual viewer.

But the pleasure in drawing was ebbing and it was becoming a chore. I needed to pick up the pencils again. And so, with a couple weeks of the challenge to go, I put the pens away and got my assortment of Prismacolor pencils back out, ranging from 6H (super hard lead--I don't think I've actually used the pencil. It just makes score marks in my paper) to 4B (creamy-soft lead.) And drawing was a pleasure again.

This Vinyanel and Veranna drawing was the first to sneak back in and remind me of my passion for pencil. From there, I decided to dig into something meatier, which yielded a pretty dynamic piece of interior art for an upcoming short story release.

Speaking of which, another tool set I wandered into during my truancy from Inktober was the world of digital art. I am a complete noob to this area,so my efforts here are fledgling, but I think I'm learning fast. And more importantly for me at this stage of my art journey, working on the digital art never felt like a chore. It was more: "Can I drink another cup of coffee and keep going on this, because I really want to! No, I will hate myself at work in the morning if I do that."

So, I hope you aren't too disappointed in me as an Inktober dropout. But if I'm making art that isn't a commission, I think I owe it to myself to spend my time on images that bring me joy.




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Artwork in the Pipeline

Inktober continues here in my world, and it's been a fun and therapeutic exercise to "take requests" in making artwork. No real musing today, just a sampling of the projects that have come out of the process.
From the start, multiple people chimed in with dragon requests, so I found a day where I could put more than 10 minutes into the drawing before I did one. Granted, a drawing like this, you could noodle for hours and hours--but hours are something in short supply right now, so this 25 minute drawing is where it landed.
This octopus is part of an ongoing collaborative project that I hope to get some traction on soon. Yes, an octopus composer is a pretty ridiculous premise--but I bet it's not one that's overdone, right?
This final image, which is not part of the Inktober challenge, but has been in process during this time, has been the subject of much consternation for me. I took a leap into a minimalist, stylistic experiment. As with all experiments, they either tend to be genius or failures. This one, though the image has some nice qualities, is landing on the "failure" side of the line and will likely just be filed away with the "stuff I played around with but will never grow beyond that."

What is art if not a learning experience? Sometimes it just a takes a few total strangers to be absolutely straight with you, and that's ok.