The fact that the year is almost half over is insane to me.
But, hoo boy, am I looking forward to summer. I have something like… eightteen days of class left? I am ecstatic.
It’s 9 pm on a Sunday, and I have been feeling so lethargic and stagnant today that I totally skipped my pole class today and simply took the financial hit, so I am not in the frame of mind to write on anything extensively tonight, so instead a few bullet point regarding my life and projects of interest:
Current hyperfixation continues to be Red Dwarf, which has spurred me to produced two well recieved pieces of fan art (within the small fandom circle I’m in, which includes a Tumblr circle and a Discord), and which I am currently selling on my INPRNT shop:
2. I am exhibiting one of my illustrations at the Queer Art Gallery hosted by Newburyport Art! I will be posting more details, such as gallery location at times next week.
3. I am submitting three pieces to Essex Art Salon, to benefit both me and the Essex Art Center, where I am currently a pottery student (I am… very bad at it, but I like trying). I anticipate a spot, but again, details will come later.
4. I am… so.. so.. so looking forward to summer. I have so many projects that I am looking forward to, and so many experiences I want to indulge in. Hopefully I’ll have the time and energy to tell you all about it another time.
Eightteen days, eighteen days. I can do this. Come on.
Hope you are all doing well. Take care of yourselves, and each other.
Back in mid-March, I started on a series on digital illustrations that were the basis of a collaborative project between SourSavior and myself. I hit the ground running, armed with some excellent reference photos and a brand new copy of Clip Studio, and went to town, churning out three pieces in rapid succession.
And then… nothing. At all. For weeks. Up to and including now.
But fear not, for I am on Spring Break! Have been since last Friday, I suppose, but the last few days have been pretty action packed, spending time with the kid, my wife (who is on her first real “vacation,” as it’s the first jobs she’s had that offer real vacation), and generally enjoying having the time and mental space to do fun things again.
That being said, today is a “grown-ups” day, and I’ve spent it digging into some sketching again — I know it’s obvious that I haven’t posted art in nearly a month, but what isn’t necessarily as obvious is I genuinely haven’t picked up a pencil (or digital pen) for over a month, as well. I just haven’t had the mental breathing room to operate on anything but survival mode for the last several weeks, and while I know respite is coming (and relatively soon, all things considered), will likely be in crunch mode something fierce when I get back to work on Monday.
So, this is my little island of creative respite. I’m trying to get at least one more rough sketch in today while I am childfree and my house is in a livable state. I’ve been putting off putting pencil to paper long enough that I have a backlog of ideas to commit to.
Wish me luck.
All of my in-production zines are currently in, preparing to open, or winding down on pre-orders. Fandom for Choice is on it’s last five days, and Project Choice should be opening theirs soon. Both projects are benefitting the National Network of Abortion Funds, so if you’d like to support them, the link for Fandom for Choice is below:
I’ll post the link for Project Choice when it goes live, as well.
I’ve been casting a wide net when it comes to zine apps lately, but no one seems to be biting. Given the slump I’ve been in, this might not be a wholly negative thing.
Time keeps moving on. I still have plans for several projects this year — this creative slump is a blip on the radar, I know it’s gonna pass and I’ve got plans for when it does — but for now I’m taking it slow, trying to treat myself with grace (that’s going, uhhh, not always so great), and enjoying the time away from work and other stressors while I can.
I moved into digital art from traditional art in mid-2020, mostly for the sake of convenience; I was/am a clumsy, absent-minded, ADHD-riddled mess, and shared space with a similarly ADHD-riddled five-year-old. Cups of used paint water, paint-laden palettes, and dirty drop clothes scattered about the place was not exactly helping the already chaotic landscape of my home.
So, digital. I got a Huion tablet and a digital program suite — PaintShop Pro and Painter 2019 — that my wife had bought me nearly two years earlier and finally made the move to making digital art.
I’m not going to sit here and bad-mouth the Painter/PaintShop programs. They got me through three years of steadily, increasingly more skilled digital art. Without them, I do not know where I would be right now on my art journey, but I can almost guarantee I wouldn’t be as far along as I am. They served a purpose, but even with my limited knowledge of digital art programs, I knew they were not really the right fit for me.
Enter Clip Studio Paint. My wife bought a license that allowed use on multiple devices, so I downloaded an iteration to my Surface to see how I liked it.
The pressure-sensitive variable weight lining. The way flood fill is about 1000x more intuitive than on the other programs (no more monochrome canvases because there was a two-pixels wide gap in a line). The way the blender doesn’t simply muddy everything up despite my newness to the tool. How stabilization actually works the way I want it to, and how much smoother my lines are.
The first night I used it, I was borderline angry about how good it was for me. How many pieces could have been, in retrospect, so much better had I had the proper tools.
That first night, I started a brand-new digital painting. I finished it the next morning. It took a fraction of the time it would have taken me in PSP to produce similar-to-better results.
Argh. I wish I could be just unabashedly happy about this, but I seriously keep playing instances of “what could have been” in my mind on a repeating loop.
Still, I have it now. I am anxious and excited to see how my art continues to grow from here. I have a major collaborative project I’m working on, and several zine apps still out in the ether, and I’m excited about what this development means for my art in the future.
And hey, nothing it stopping me from going back a re-doing some work if I really want to. I still have all the raw files, and given how much faster the projects move on the new program, it might be a worthwhile “down time” project, especially for the pieces I intend to offer for sale.
Anyway, how are you all doing? I’m on a sick day yet again, again because I am actually sick, but also again trying to get some chores done around the house to alleviate my anxiety (less anxiety about taking time off — I am sick, I’m making a concerted effort not to feel bad about being sick — but more general anxiety about the mess). Summer is fast approaching and we want to start looking to sell the house soon, and the better shape I can get it into, 1. the easier it will be to sell, and 2., the easier it will be to pack up and move.
I’ve been feeling less stressed, strangely, despite the fact that my major stressors have not gone anywhere — I think I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that there is, realistically, only so much I can do. That being said, my primary stressor will only exist for seven more weeks — we just crested the half-way mark! — and with some effort might actually work out to the best possible outcome, which is, I have to say, heartening.
I’m still never going to do this again, but still, this might be salvageable. Either way, when this is over, I will be going out to celebrate.
My wife and I have been doing a full re-watch of Red Dwarf — well, I say rewatch, but it’s really my first watch through (I’d seen a few episodes before, but never the whole series). Predictably, for anyone who knows me, my major Blorbo™ in Red Dwarf is, of course, Rimmer — a snarky, self-loathing, obviously closeted and neurodivergent abuse survivor? Foregone goddamn conclusions, folks, the boy is mine.
Also, shit, Series 5 Chris Barrie do be looking good. And I know I’m not the only one who thinks so:
Combined with the fact that there are 1700+ Red Dwarf fics on AO3 at the moments, and 1200+ of them are Lister/Rimmer, prepare for this is to be my hyperfixation for the next several months. Luckily, you don’t have to worry too much, most of the more egregiously fannish stuff will be relegated to Tumblr. You’re off the hook, guys.
Hope all is going well for all of you. Take care of yourselves, and each other.
Ok. but let’s pretend the accompanying image is a metaphor — each of those boxes represent a responsibility or expectation foisted upon me by the unrelenting realities of adult life, and there I am, struggling beneath the burden of them all.
That’s how I’ve felt for the last three weeks. And there’s no real end in sight, people.
Well… June, I suppose. The end of the academic year is going to alleviate a fair number of said burdens, and knowing I can take the summer off with intention is a freedom I’ve never actually known, so I am looking forward to that. But the road there is long and feels endless as I’m walking it.
Art has been hard. Not bad, per se, but hard. I’ve finished three digital paintings “for myself” (i.e., I may sell prints in the future, but they were not created with the intent of a particular project or publication), and wrapped up — finally! — my final piece for the Fandom for Choice zine. I’ve got five (or six?) zine apps out in the ether that I am awaiting word on. It’s only been in the last few days that I really started gaining momentum with art again, after taking some time off post-Arisia, but I’m at least beginning to feel like I’m in a good place again.
Writing is harder. I’ve not been able to organize my thoughts into anything cohesive enough for publication for weeks and weeks now, even though I’m not giving up and have been keeping a running record of essay ideas that I hope to be able to commit to paper soon.
Stress is a bitch — stress is one hundo percent why I have been stalling out so hardcore with everything (including my household responsibilities and chores, by the way, which of course only makes me more stressed). I’ve never learned how to really cope with acute stress, save to wait out the stressor, but — whoo boy — waiting it out until June would sure be a hell of a thing, huh?
The best I’ve been able to manage lately is throwing myself head first and full-speed into self-indulgent comfort media, so on that note, let me end by offering you one of my favorite YouTube teams, and a video that made me laugh harder than I have in a while:
In conclusion, stay tuned for updates on hopeful zine acceptances, and remember — we are all Merobiba.
Post-Arisia malaise is real, but life doesn’t stop just because the con is over.
Arisia was wonderful! I was a nervous wreck before my first panel, which luckily was the first panel timeslot on Saturday, so I really only had time to worry about it Saturday morning, and managed to keep myself occupied well-enough with breakfast in con suite and two hours of family-friendly tabletop gaming in the Harbor ballroom. But my fellow panelists were super kind, knowledgeable, and supportive — and getting aggressive head nods, finger snaps, and “yes”-es from the audience when I talked about my experiences and ideas was super validating. Nerves turned into excitement really quickly after that. I really, genuinely loved panelling at this con, I can’t believe it took me nine years to try it out. I will definitely be applying again next year.
My son took the end of con rather hard, because this was the first year he was able to really independently participate — the last time he was at con he was five, and could only attend things with us, so he was mostly in the room with a sitter and went with is to some family-friendly demos or panels. This year he got to fully and independently participate in Fast Track, the sort of con-within-a-con for kids, so he spent from 10 to 5 everyday with like-minded kids doing things like swordfighting, making slime and sensory jars, sewing frankenplushies, cosplaying, making duct tape roses, and playing Dungeons & Dragons. He spent a lot of Monday in tears, but sleep helped him quite a bit, and he was excited getting back to school today and telling his friends about the weekend.
As for me, I’m feeling that post-Arisia enthusiasm for both creating and consuming again — this is the first con I’ve gone to where I actually have an existing, consistent creative habit, and I’m thrilled for this boost in the midst of the drudgery of January. I’ve already got ideas and inspiration and ambitions for projects coming up, and I’m excited to pursue them.
Hope you all are well! The days are getting longer, and we’re seeing the sun a little more each day.
I am greatly looking forward to being back in Boston at a convention — three years away from cons seems so long when your usual routine is going to multiple each year.
Anyway, much of my focus right now (that isn’t hung up on work and the mess the end of the semester is) is focused on panel prep and getting some art done for me so I can recharge and get ready to take on more commissions and zines (I’ve already got apps in for three, with a fourth pending).
Hope all is well in your worlds. If you’re at Arisia this weekend, pop by and say hello.
I don’t know who my consistent readership is; I’m not even sure at this point that I have one here, though I know I have an audience over on Medium (shh, shameless plug, but all my real writing is over there now, have you heard?).
Well, the end of the year is upon us, and those goals have been met!
I will be on four panels at Arisia (will talk more about which ones and my precise schedule closer to the con), and my piece, “Blossoming,” got selected for the MCSP social media campaign, so I am thrilled beyond thrilled that this year is ending on such a creative high note (I’m also about 85% done with my first paying commission in, like, 10 months, which is likewise a damn good feeling).
So What’s Next?
Well, perhaps buoyed on by a wealth of successes this year, I have some goals for next year that I’m really excited about, and I would love to hear your goals as well.
Spearhead my own zine. I have a few ideas for zines I would love to run, though I would likely need someone to help out, since I’m completely new to the process. The one at the forefront of my mind would be a for-charity zine, and I would likely run it as a digital zine to streamline the process (sell it through Gum Road or something).
Apply to at least 10 zines. I’d love to say “get into 10 zines,” but I’m making it a point to only set goals over which I actually have some control. I can put myself out there — that’s on me — but I can’t force my acceptance.
Advance in pole to Pre-Advanced Beginner. There are a lot of steps to becoming good at pole dance, and as someone with minimal coordination, inner ear issues, and a fear of height/being upside down, I am taking it even slower. But I do want to move up a level. Even if that’s as far as I ever get — hell, I’ll move to floor work and chair dance if I have to, but I want to graduate from Pole Virgins.
Produce at least 5 complete works in traditional media. Don’t care what — graphite, colored pencil, watercolor, acrylic, ink. Just 5 works of art that are complete, in and of themselves, no digitizing. I am and probably always will be primarily a digital artist, but I also love the process of creating in traditional media, and I always make excuses to continue to not do so.
Move. I’ve talked about this before. There is nothing wrong with this house — it was a great starter house — but we have outgrown it, and it is time to move on.
Be more pro-active about garnering commissions and selling prints. This means actually getting business cards, this means applying for artist alleys and art shows at cons, this means virtually tabling at more maker’s marts. I have no intent for making art my job, per se, but it would be nice to get more eyes on it, and if that results in making some spending money, even better.
Establish a workout routine. Rough outline here is short workouts Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with longer workouts on Saturdays or Sundays. I want to account for my bi-weekly pole classes and the toll that can take, but I need something consistent and easy to adhere to.
Fill a junk journal. I have a TikTok problem, and that problem is called ArtTok. I can’t go five-minutes without seeing a cool craft or artform that I need to try, and this time, it’s junk journals. I got a huge amount of started gear for Christmas, so I’m excited to start my junk journal journey (Christ, say that three times fast).
Write more. Poetry, personal essays, fanfic, blog entries, whatever — I don’t care. I got a good start on that this year — I wrote more this year than I have in a long, long time, including several pieces I am very proud of — and I intend to continue and expand beyond that. The thing is, while it’s super easy for me to push it to the backburner, I am happier when I’m writing. There’s no way around it.
Consume new media. There is no creation without consumption. I want to spend time this year filling up my creative reservoir with new and inspiring art.
The darkest days of the year are behind us. What are your plans for what’s next?
Have a safe and happy new year, everyone. Take care of yourselves, and each other.
Now may be the time to note — not necessarily for the first time, but certainly for the first definitive time — that anyone interested in reading my personal essays on things like the creative process, artistic practice, writing, my experiences in popular culture, gender, etc. should really, really, really go check out my Medium. All substantive writing is there now. This space reserved for “What I Did Today” personal updates, and general progress updates on various creative projects.
You know what, I’ll likely append a shortened version of the above to any of my updates going forward just so people know, you know? But please, do follow me. I’m coming off a bit of a hiatus, but I’ve written more over there this year than I have over here, um, ever, most likely.
Thanksgiving blew by in a whirlwind — had good food with my family, managed to touch base with a close friend in person for the first time in a year — and now Sunday my son turns 8 years old, and after that we have three weeks until Christmas and then the year is over, what the actual fuck??
I will be doing a year-end reflection closer to the actual end of the year, but suffice it to say, it’s been a creatively eventful and fulfilling year. I have some big things I hope to have to show off before December 31, and I have some high hopes for 2023 in terms of creative and artistic endeavors, but for now I’m just trying to get back into a good spot creating for myself, after coming off of four projects for other people and organizations. I found an old — like, old-old, from maybe two years ago — drawing in one of my sketchbooks that was never fully finished, so I’m fleshing that out, and I started a new sketch using one of Adorkastock’s newest models who I absolutely love already, and I’m just trying to breathe and enjoy the process before I’m tossed into the fray once more (i.e., I have zine apps out there that are closing in on acceptance/rejection day. Wish me luck).
Oh, and because I realized I recounted the whole employment fiasco here ages ago but never gave closure, Kira went permanent! She’s an official, full-time employee now and I have literally never seen her happier at work. It has been a brand new experience for her, and she’s thrilled with where she is, finally.
Hope things are well with you all, brace yourselves for the impending craziness of the holiday season, and take care of yourselves and each other.
Falling back into bad habits means not updating this blog for a month plus. Huh. Sorry? I feel less pressure to update here now that I’m writing more regularly and have a reliable place to showcase my writing to an audience; this feels more like a place to toss out updates on my projects and little anecdotes about my life, and I like that sort of compartmentalization. A place for every thing, every thing in its place.
Today is the second consecutive day I’ve taken as a sick day, and guilt weighs heavily upon me. Oh, I am actually sick — my six-year-old niece, with whom I spent Friday afternoon, has been sick since Saturday and apparently thought it would be fun to share the joy, as it were — I just, I don’t know, always feel bad missing work? Even though my coworkers are outwardly very supportive, and even though several of them have already been out, and even though I’ve spent time covering for them, I still just feel bad. Like I’m letting people down.
Don’t be like me, kids. Work/life balance is important, self-care is important, and in COVID times, staying home when you’re sick is super fucking important. It’s just a hard thing for me to internalize. I need to work on it.
I’m allaying some of the guilt by trying to be productive: some important chores got done yesterday, and more should get done today, assuming my stamina holds out. In between bursts of cleaning, I’m trying to hydrate, rest, relax; but also, the mess in this house is such a stressor that, to a certain extent (and assuming I listen to my body and pace myself), cleaning feels like self-care. Like, it’s going to benefit me in the long run. I cleaned the bulk of the kitchen last night, and making dinner was so much more of a relaxing experience in a clean kitchen, you know? So yes, hopefully more of that today.
I am also hoping to find time to do some work for my two next “big” projects — creating art for the Mass Coalition for Suicide Prevention, and paneling at Arisia. More on those things later, but suffice it to say, I’m excited about both, but don’t want to say too much in the early/tentative stages (i.e., my panels might not get picked up; my art may not ultimately get accepted. etc.). I will let you all know what I know, when I know it.
In the meantime, coffee, some breakfast, a few low impact chores (doing a load of laundry sounds like a good idea, as I eyeball my suspiciously full hamper), and some YouTube for background noise. I have been getting more and more into Strange Aeons and Chad Chad lately, who cover, among other things, some of the more niche aspects and quirks of social media culture — primarily Tumblr and TikTok respectively — and are both a lot of fun to watch. Check them out on YouTube if you are so inclined.
Tonight’s my last night of summer. Bear’s, too. We start back at work and school tomorrow morning, me for two days of prep and professional development before the kids arrive on Wednesday, but Bear us being thrust full-force into classed tomorrow morning. First day of second grade.
Second. Grade. When the ever-loving fuck did that happen?
I’m grateful to have had the summer off, even if it was nothing that I hadn’t wanted it to be — I imagined structure, and adventure, and weekend trips. And we did sort of get that at the beginning — we had a beach trip, sleepover, a day at the museum, bike riding — but I had severely under-estimated how utterly Kira would be taken out by surgery, and how massively overwhelmed I would be.
The entire second half of the summer was stagnating housework, with me doing exactly as much as I needed to do to keep my head above water while trying to tend to Kira, who for the first couple of weeks was basically immobile. The house suffered massively as a result, putting me further and further behind.
I did spend the last two days recovering from quite a bit of it all; I did something like five loads of laundry, handwashed almost all the dishes in the house, vaccuumed, took out four or five bags of trash, sorted all the recycling, etc. I am in literal physical pain right now, and I still have to vaccuum the living room, but if someone were to pop in right now, I wouldn’t feel embarrassed to let them see the house. That’s a massive improvement.
I’m excited for structure, for seeing people, for having a schedule. I’m excited to be able to structure my life, to return to pole classes, to have weekends be available (now that Kira is well into recovery) and meaningful again.
The summer wasn’t all for naught; I imagine if I had to work this summer I would have been absolutely drowning, so as bad as it was in some spots, it would have undoubtedly been worse. And I did do a lot of art — six or seven digital paintings! — made two sales, and reached Partner on Medium. That feels incredibly good, especially after being away from writing for so long, to be writing again and actually be earning some money from it (even if it is mere cents right now. Have to start somewhere, right?)
For all parents, students, and educators getting back to school this week — remember to get a good night’s rest, stay hydrated, and stay safe.