5/3/22: Acceptance!!

So, after weeks of waiting with my fingers crossed for my next big collaborative art project, Fat Craft Zine has made their decisions and sent out acceptance and rejection letters.

I was accepted.

I am thrilled.  I will be honest, I did not really expect to get in; there have been several projects and zines as of late that I thought I would be a shoe-in for, and didn’t make it.  I also am familiar with the caliber of talent that has, in the past, been included in this zine, and on the basis of that, would not have been shocked had I not made the cut. That being said, I am incredibly grateful and excited to have the opportunity to participate in this round of Fat Craft.

I already have a concept I’m excited about, so it really comes down to setting up my photography equipment and taking the reference photos I’ll need, likely this weekend.  This is a long term project, and I have plenty of time to work, but as another idea that involves multiple figures interacting (which is not my strong suit, yet), I want to give myself ample time to get the work done, and be able to work on other things at the same time.

Still, squee!  I’m happy to be working with a concrete goal in mind again, and am eager to get started.

5/1/22: Screen burnout

I am burned out from staring at screen most of the weekend, but hoo boy, did I get stuff done.

I finished the two digital pieces I’ve been working on:

And after that, I spent hours making buttons. I need to get some good photos of the ones I’ve actually physically made so far, and to create a gallery for the rest of my designs, but suffice it to say, I have, what, 20 designs already? And I’m incredibly, incredibly happy with my purchase.

I am going to contact Fits the Vibe tomorrow to ask about selling, but tonight I’m going to thumbnail my portrait of Taika Watiti’s Blackbeard and find my desktop easel.

It’s warm enough in my living room tonight to warrant turning on the fan, and at nearly 7 pm, the sun is just starting its descent below the horizon.

I hope you are keeping well. Take care of yourselves and each other.

4/28/22: Surprising Productivity

Yesterday was unexpectedly productive, despite the fact that I felt dead on my feet when I got home (not from a particularly bad day or anything, just hormones and hormonally-induced insomnia that’s been hounding me for the last couple of nights).

I wound up not only uploading all of the art I actually like to my Redbubble, but also submitting to The Bi+ Maker’s Market much, much sooner than expected – my son likes to use my laptop for gaming when he comes home, and I didn’t expect to get much time with it until the weekend, but he got off earlier than usual last night and I managed to get everything uploaded and sent off.  My only regret is when it asked for a social media account for the shop, I used my Twitter – which I do use primarily to talk about creating and post art, but is still a little more geared towards me as a person – instead of my Instagram, which is all and only art.  Ugh.  Oh well.  I don’t think it will make or break my application, but it’s still a bummer.

Then, as though that wasn’t enough, I actually got some work done on Stag King 3.  I’m still stuck on a lot of it – the background I have right now is incredibly rudimentary, but at least there is a background – I’m not staring at two figures floating in completely undefined space – and having them grounded at least somewhat makes it a little easier, maybe, to further conceptualized where I might want to go with it.  The issue is trying to draw grass, without making it look too cartoony, pushing it too far into the uncanny valley, or just making it look too… flat, I suppose.  I’m planning on looking up some tutorials on it later, but the only reason I even have the mental energy to do that is the fact that I finally pushed myself to block something in for the time being.  I’ve moved past the, “this is going to look like shit forever” phase and into the “this looks like shit, but I can work with it” phase, which is a much more positive place to be.

Ok, I mentioned “other fun new hobbies” yesterday, but then said I wouldn’t elaborate since I didn’t know what would come of it all, right?  Well, mere hours after saying that, two things happened that directly related to the hobbies I was referencing, and means I can probably say now – I bought a pinback button maker.  

Maybe you know, maybe you don’t, but I love pinback buttons.  I own a lot of them (used to own more, but they have the tendency to go missing because I’m a klutz and catch them on things all the time.  I decided it was about time to invest in my own so that I can make my own buttons on a whim, but also that it might be fun to make some for sale.  I don’t think I’m going to go the online route for that, simply because I don’t trust myself or my ADHD to be able to keep track of the orders and the shipping and the postage, etc., etc.  So instead I thought I could sell via word of mouth, on my socials, and through – maybe – local shops who do consignments style sales.

Well, yesterday, two things happened:  One, I found a really incredible deal on a multi-size pinback maker, and two, Fits the Vibe, a local thrift store/upcycling/consignment shop, put out a call via social media that they were looking for new local vendors to work with.  It was absolutely perfect timing.

I want to have a little bit of a store of inventory before I actually contact them to inquire, but how funny is it that these things all happened on the same day?

Things are going well overall; I’m having a bit of an annoying day, because I have to leave the building today to go to a work site with a student and I forgot my badge yet again, so when we come back I’ll have to buzz in. Which, granted, isn’t a disaster, but it’s an embarrassing little annoyance that could have been avoided had I had any sort of executive functioning skills, a working memory, a sense of organization, etc., etc.  

But tomorrow is Friday, I’m staying that night at my mom’s, I’m buying canvases and making buttons on Saturday, and Sunday is supposed to be gorgeous and I hope to spend it outdoors and maybe with some friends, schedules permitting.

Hope all is going well for you and yours.  Take care of yourselves and each other.

4/27/22: Maker’s Market and Painting Inspiration

The first couple of days back at work after a break are always tough; I’m lucky enough to enjoy my job and to have had serendipitously chill schedules the past two days to ease myself back into the routine, but still, I’m exhausted and glad that tomorrow is already Thursday.

Art has been slow going.  I am currently working on two things, both of which are turning out objectively okay, but which I’m just feeling very blase about.  I’m falling into that pitfall too, that I hear a lot of online artists talk about, where I’m starting to feel guilty about the length of time between my posts (specifically posting my art), and I feel like this is a slippery slope back into rushing through things just for the sake of having done.  I’m no great shakes as an artist, obviously, but I’m worlds better when I take my time.

I’m going to keep plugging away at my illustrations, but the next few days are going to be spent mostly prepping files for upload to Redbubble, and then submitting my Redbubble shop for inclusion in The Bi+ Makers Market, which is being put on by the Bisexual Resource Center again this June.  

Last year I found out about it literally a day or two too late to submit, and I swore to myself that I would make the deadline this year.  While I don’t have an extensive history of completed works under my belt, I’m of the belief that you really only need a handful of pieces you’re proud of to start a shop, and I definitely have several that I’m excited to get up as prints.  

While there is no guarantee I’ll get in, it doesn’t make sense not to apply.  Even if it doesn’t result in a lot of sales, it gets my art in front of peoples’ eyes, and that could be useful for the future.

Months ago at this point, I was bitching about a failed attempt to get back into traditional (acrylic) painting.  I was so determined to produce something that I rushed in without an idea and utterly ruined a canvas.

(I want to take a moment aside to say, jumping into something without a clear idea is not always a bad thing, especially if you keep an open mind and are looking to generate new ideas or experiment with new mediums or techniques.  In my case, however, it was sheer impatience and was really nothing more than this manic urge to check “Do an acrylic painting!” off my Art To-Do List, and as a result really was just a waste of time and resources).

Recently though, I finished watching Our Flag Means Death, and it has utterly eaten my brain.  I’m spending more time that I would care to admit on fan accounts, consuming fic and art, and over-all just being obsessive.

And I decided I want to try to paint Taika Watiti’s Blackbeard.

It is… a hell of a challenge, for someone who has trouble drawing from life, doesn’t generally draw men, is still new to painting, etc., but it is a subject matter I am excited about and I really, really want to give this a fair go, though I am utterly prepared to and sort of expecting to fail – which I think is the best attitude going into this endeavor – excited but pessimistic, ha ha.  I expect to fail, but I’m excited to try.  I can only be proven right or pleasantly surprised.

I’m also considering a number of other creative endeavors that I can’t speak about just yet (since there’s not a guarantee they will happen), but expect to hear more about some new silly little hobbies in the coming weeks.

I hope you are all well.  Take care of yourselves and each other.

4/20/22: …Blaze It??

But not really, but maybe? I’m very pro-weed, but found out fairly early on — from pretty frightening experiences — that high levels of THC and chronic hypertension and tachycardia don’t mix.

But I thought “blaze it” would be cute anyway, because I wanted to make a post about Trans-Scribed, which is a monologue series written and performed by transgender actors about their experience, and which was formerly put on by Errant Phoenix Productions (phoenix, “blaze it,” get it?? Ok, it… wasn’t my best work, sorry).

Errant Phoenix is, sadly, dissolving, and will not be producing Trans-Scribed this year, so my wife is actually taking up the reigns and will be recruiting, organizing, and co-producing the show. She just needs writers and performers, obviously.

If you know — or if you are! — a trans writer or performer who might be interested and would like more info, please contact me. You can use the contact form right here on my website.

I hope all is going well for you all. I lost my one working digital pen, on the first day of my break — you know, the brief window of time when I’m totally free to create? — and if that doesn’t just encapsulate my whole life right there.

Take care of yourselves, and each other.

4/19/22: Finished

I’m throwing in the towel on Blogging A-to-Z.

I’m not out of ideas, or aesthetics. I actually had up to — what, N? O? Picked out and somewhat planned. I’ve been in a good headspace. I’ve been making blogging and art a priority.

I just think I’ve achieved what I set out to do already, and I’m getting restless.

It’s interesting, because I know the “challenge” of thirty day challenges is supposed to be, you know, to blog for thirty days straight, to force yourself to generate ideas and get into a flow state of sorts (or at least develop a daily habit).

But the purpose of my individual entries was idea generation — I’ve been trying to generate art ideas because I felt like my tank was running low (it was; I was at the very end of my old Art Ideas list).

As it stands now, I have eleven whole ideas — not all of which I am equally enthused about, but most of which are workable, and many of which I an excited about — and right now I’m just excited to develop and work on them.

I’ll be honest, I think challenges are wonderful ideas and there are some I think I’ll either continue with or jump back into — NaPoWriMo, next year, I’m coming for you wholeheartedly — but with regards to A-to-Z, I don’t know. Doing it the way I’ve done the last two years has certainly been beneficial to me as creative brainstorms, though I never finish them out, so on the one hand, I’d hate to lose that simply because I know “failure” (i.e., not finishing out the thirty days) is almost inevitable. On the other, why embark on a challenge when you know you’re going to quit??

Well, I have a full year to figure that out, I suppose. In the meantime, take this as my A-to-Z resignation. It was fun and productive, and I’m excited to have enough ideas that, given the pace at which I produce, may well take me to the end of the year just on their own.

Hello from Spring vacation! We are taking it slow this week, as we are without a car (Kira still has to work) and we are homebound. Yesterday we did chores, then made popcorn and watched “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” and today we’re making ice cream and hopefully catching up on some reading.

We hit the library on Saturday, but the Children’s Room was closed (staffing has been a big problem lately), so Bear got a few books from the Teen section that might be somewhat challenging, but are definitely within the scope of his ability, so it should be a nice brain exercise. Both books are about science: Beastly Brains: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel, by Nancy F. Castaldo, and Seeing Science: An Illustrated Guide to the Wonders of the Universe, by Iris Gottlieb.

The plan tomorrow is visiting my mom and the kids downstairs (my brother should be around too, which is always nice), and hopefully on either Thursday or Friday seeing my sister, but her oldest is still in school this week and she does pickup and drop-off, so planning that is really going to be about her and what her schedule looks likes.

Either way, it’s nice to be home this week. By the time we go back, it’s going to be the start of May, and about seven weeks left until the end. I have summer work lined up, but those are shorter days and shorter weeks, with a nice three week buffer on either end, so I’m looking forward to that.

Hope you all are doing well. Take care of yourselves, and each other.

3/30/22: COVID

Two years. We avoided it for two full years. The 27th was my one year vaccination anniversary. I was first wave. I was boosted. I’m never maskless outside of my home. Two years.

A full academic year of remote learning for my son. Twelve months of work-from-home. Two summers of missed work. Months without seeing friends or family. Unfaltering mask-wearing (even when the mandates lifted).

And yet.

Kira tested positive yesterday morning.

She’s been sick since, Sunday, maybe? Felt like crap on Saturday, but it turned out the tea she’d been consuming was loaded with artificial sweetner (which she is allergic to), so the jury’s out on whether that day of misery was a COVID day or not. Sunday night she was testing negative, but when she took the test Tuesday morning — like, twenty minutes before we were set to leave for work and school, I had my makeup done, badge on, coffee and bag in hand — it came up positive.

Kira, for what it’s worth, is fine. It’s bad cold/mild flu territory. And as of the moment, while I am still testing negative, I am also having very mild symptoms. Bear has yet to test positive, and so long as he is asymptomatic, has been told he can keep attending school (the mask madates have lifted, but he continues to double-mask for school every day anyway).

I am pissed. I am irritated at having avoided this thing for so long — during the worst of it, during the highest peaks and surges when everyone around me seemed to be getting sick — and now, when we are under 2% positivity, we get it. I am beside myself.

Hopefully this passes quickly. Hopefully those of you out there are staying safe and healthy. Hopefully we can move past this and enjoy the increasingly nice weather.

Hopefully you are all doing well.

3/24/22: A Life Update (and a Crazy New Goal)

In the last two weeks, several medium-to-big good things have happened that have buoyed me along to where I am today, on the precipice of the weekend and excited for what’s to come (which, granted, isn’t that exciting – an overnight at my mom’s and a weekend of cleaning – but I’m looking forward to it, you know?)

Bear is on his fourth week of consistently positive behavioral charts, and hasn’t had any incidents at school in nearly a month.  He’s also back to reading every night and is excited about getting new books every few weeks at the library.  The last two days, actually, I awoke to find him up in bed, already reading.  Normally I wake up to him playing with LEGOS – which is totally legit and a great thing that I totally encourage – but it was still a wholesome change of pace.

We finally settled contract negotiations at work!  It took almost six hundred days, but we have a contract, and I will be getting retro pay in the next few weeks – which won’t be a ton, but will cover a lot of what we lost when Kira’s hours were cut.

And speaking of – my wife, near the end of January, had a work debacle that I’ve vaguely alluded to, which resulted in her hours being cut from thirty-six hours a week to nine.  Yesterday she got a call saying a new position opened and she would be working forty hours a week starting today.  

When I tell you, the relief that I felt.  Like a weight lifted.  Like I finally let out a breath I had barely known I’d been holding.

So yes, the last two weeks have been overwhelming positive personal news. It’s a nice change of pace from the previous month or two.

As a result, and as always happens when I feel a sudden endorphin rush, I am just all aflutter with stupidly ambitious ideas, so:

I’m writing a book, guys.  

This is not for NaNoWriMo, this is not taking the place of my plans for that, or NaPoWriMo, or A-to-Z Challenge.  It’s something that I’m going to work on in a separate space, at a separate pace, and on a separate schedule, but it is something that I am most certainly working on.  

It’s not going to be a novel or anything narrative – we have well and truly established that that sort of long-form narrative storytelling is not my forte – but instead will be about keeping a sketchbook, generating creative ideas, building an art routine, etc.  I know a million people have done it before but I don’t know if I’ve seen advice geared towards hobbyists from an experienced hobbyist?  Someone whose lifestyle might actually be similar to that of the intended audience, someone whose bread-and-butter isn’t the art world?  

Either way, I’m excited about it.  It’s a big project with a long-term timeline; I think it’ll be an interesting challenge if nothing else.

All’s well in my own little corner of the world.  I’m greatly looking forward to staying at my mom’s tomorrow night, taking Bear to the really nice park downtown with my brother and our pseudo-niece and and nephew on Saturday, and having a day to myself Sunday to get some serious chores done (is it weird that I actually really like cleaning… but only when I’m alone in the house?  Yes?  Is that a ‘yes?’  It’s probably a ‘yes.’)

Take care of yourselves and each other.  Cheers.

3/21/22: A-to-Z Challenge Theme Reveal (and other stuff)

I knew this was coming up!  I did!  I even mentioned it in my last post, but for whatever reason, didn’t bother checking in to see what was going on until literally this morning, during a lull in my English class.  The kids were tapping away at a vocab assignment, and I was idly monitoring them on Google Classroom, when on an absolute lark, I headed over to the A to Z Challenge Blog and realized – ah! – today was the last day to officially sign up.

So here I am, skin of my teeth.  Pretty on brand, honestly.

Here’s the thing – after the last entry talking about Camp NaNoWriMo and A-to-Z Challenge, I sort of realized April is also National Poetry Month, which is it’s own thing, and while all three challenges have aspects I really want to dive into, there is no way I’m going to be able to produce polished products for three separate daily challenges.

So.  I’m going to be following the NaPoWriMo blog for potential prompts and inspiration, and using Camp NaNoWriMo to outline those poems, combining the most helpful aspects (prompts/guides, and camaraderie) from both challenges, and then use A-to-Z to do another art brainstorming month – generating ideas for future art projects without the pressure of completing them in April.

All that being said, my A-to-Z Challenge theme is Aesthetics.

I’ve been on Tumblr a long time, and the amorphous concept of “aesthetics” is its own subculture over there.  This is not to say aesthetics don’t exist outside of Tumblr because obviously they do (Tumblr doesn’t own “aesthetics” as a concept), but it has either invented or brought to the forefront of my consciousness (or both) aesthetics that I had never even considered as their own, defined thing, and I kind of want to explore some of them in the context of my art and/or character design.

Aesthetics are, by definition, “a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement,” or, more broadly, anything dealing with beauty, or the appreciation of beauty.  When I talk about aesthetics, I generally mean both – something that encompasses certain defining features (which define its aesthetic “genre,” as it were) that is beautiful to me (its aesthetic appeal). 

I will be using The Aesthetic Wiki (which I found out existed, uh,  today) to choose one aesthetic every day that appeals to me, give a run down of that aesthetics defining features, find some art or create a mood board that embodies said aesthetic, and do a brainstorm about how I could embody/incorporate said aesthetic into an original piece of art.

I am very, very excited for this project, not going to lie.  Taking the pressure off of myself by not committing to finishing anything during April last year did a lot to free me up creatively, and led to a lot of ideas that I was quite happy with.  I’m hoping to have similar success this year.

I hope to make the rounds this year and be more participatory, and I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else is blogging about.

In other news, here’s some proof that consistent practice is making me faster without sacrificing the quality of my work – the overall quality of my pieces has, I feel, gone up, but the time it takes me to complete them has certainly decreased.  I started this piece Thursday night, and – with plenty of breaks which included household chores, cooking, library trips, shopping, and a beautiful day at the park with Bear – I finished this Sunday night.  

The anatomy model is Jen, from JookPub Stock, and I am in love with the muted pinks, reds, and purples.

Also, yes – we finally made it to the library!!  My son got his first library card – the painstaking way he slowly wrote his name on the back, like the card was sacrosanct, was incredibly endearing – and he took out his first library books on his own card, and the first library books he’s taken out at all, full stop, in two years.  He got the second Dogman graphic novel (he really likes Dav Pilkey’s sense of humor, we might have to try Captain Underpants next), Where the Sidewalk Ends, and three books about inventions and engineering.  I genuinely think his bag is going to be more non-fiction than fiction when it comes to leisure reading, which is fine, but very different from either Kira or I.

I have yet to add our new card number to my Libby app, so I am bookless at the moment, but will rectify that tonight.  Excited to have access to books again.*

*No, I don’t need anyone to remind me how many dozens of books we own that I haven’t read yet.  That’s not the point and you know it.

3/20/22: Self-portraits and Poetry

I’m about halfway through a piece of digital fanart that I made mention of in my last blog post (Damien LaVey, from the Monster Prom franchise, for those of you who may have missed it), that I neither hate, nor am I particularly happy with.  I think my solution for fan art in general is to try to stick as closely to the canonical style as possible, which, after some playing around, I think I’m at a decent place with.  That being said, while I was moderately happy with the drawing I did as a pencil sketch, inking revealed that there were a lot of things wrong with the anatomy and the proportions – things that couldn’t be hand waved away with, “oh, it’s just a stylistic thing.”  So while I think I have a solution figured out with regards to how to approach fanart from a stylistic perspective, I still haven’t quite figured out this particular piece of fanart.

That being said, after that frustration, I consequently took a break from my break with yet another piece of self-indulgent fanart, but this time it was fanart of…myself?  Which I suppose is technically a self-portrait.  But, really, what is a self-portrait but fanart of oneself?

Ok, I’m… derailing.  Anyway.

It was an incredibly fun piece to do, possibly the most fun I’ve ever had doing a piece of art (I have been very much enjoying what I’ve been doing lately, but this was really just unadulterated fun – trying to figure out what silly little things to include, getting to go wild with the colors, etc.), and it was also a great study in foreshortening, which is another perspective thing that I have had unfortunately little time and space to practice, even though I think it can make for really interesting pieces. 

It, as many of my “filler” or “taking a break” pieces often do, revitalized me and made me really eager to do more drawing, which is great, but also means I need to get off my ass and take more reference photos, since several of the things I want to do coming up require sort of niche poses that I really doubt other people have captured in precisely the way I want to.  So, that’s on the table for this weekend, I hope (though there might be one I can bang out on my own before then – we’ll see).  Here’s the piece, which I finished yesterday.  I don’t generally give hard and fast titles to things, but this is one hundred percent called “#NoFilter.”

Despite my opining of how my wife was so far ahead in taking initiative about writing more, despite the fact that I’ve been going on about it for weeks, I… still have not done a damn thing about it.  I have a notebook now, which I suppose is something, but I have not yet cracked it open in any meaningful way, and I’m finding a hard time motivating myself to do so.

I got an email yesterday, I think, about the upcoming Camp NaNoWriMo, which got me to thinking about my plans to get back into writing, my previous experiences with Camp, and whether or not participating would be in my best interests.  Historically, Camp has not been wildly successful for me – there’s neither the sense of camaraderie nor the intense seat-of-your-pants-ness that comes with the traditional November run of NaNoWriMo – but there’s also less of the pressure to stringently adhere to the rules.  Which is not to say that I haven’t done the November one as a rebel – I definitely have, having done short story sequences instead of novels more often than not – but the April run allows for different genres, different ways of measuring success, different goals entirely.  Some people edit during Camp, some people outline, some people brainstorm.  I’m wondering if I should set a goal of outlining a poem every day for thirty days.

I tried a similar goal before, when writing was my only creative outlet, and one that I wasn’t doing much with because of the Bees that Live Inside My Head, but now that I feel creatively fulfilled in other ways – and now that I have committed to trying to approach writing with a different mindset and perspective than I did back then – I wonder if it’s worth a shot.  It’s something that will cut through the stagnant fog surrounding me and writing without applying the hardline pressure of completing something coherent and polished.  Instead, I can hopefully just use it as a springboard for the future – thirty outlines of things I would like to fully flesh out.

I did something similar last year during Blogging A to Z, wherein I did thirty rough sketches (really twenty, but I quit because I had other creative ambitions I got excited about and wanted to commit more time to, not because I was “failing” the challenge), and it was actually a lot of fun.  I went back and more fully fleshed out two of them, both of which fall a little flat now, but were, at the time, at the very edge of my ability and which I was quite proud of – enough so that I’m considering doing the same thing this year.

What are people thinking – I’m deferring to the collective on this one.  Have you done outlining, of any kind, for any genre, during Camp, and do you legitimately return to it later to more fully flesh it out?  How did that work out for you?

(The other option is, I could use Camp to aim to finish ten podcast scripts, which is something I’ve been trying to get off the ground for the last several weeks, in many fits and starts.  I don’t know how well that would work, but it might work better than my current strategy which is, uhh, non-existent).

I left work early last Monday because I felt absolutely terrible.  Just incredibly congested, horrible headache, shaky, exhausted.  After seventeen years of working here, I can count on one hand – with fingers to spare – the number of times I’ve left early for illness, so you know I must have felt pretty damn awful.  I spent most of Tuesday on the couch, watching lost media videos and reading, and it seems like that’s mostly what I needed – two COVID tests both came back negative, and I feel more or less ok now (or as ok as I ever feel at nearly forty).  I’m hoping to make some weekend plans – chores need to be done, obviously, and we usually visit my parents, but also the library in the next town over is having a big book sale and the weather is supposed to be in the high 50s, so taking Bear to the park, on long walks, or an outdoor picnic is starting to come back to the table again.

I hope you all are taking care of yourselves, and each other.  Cheers.