Monthly Archives: February 2015

Dragon Comics 75

Nothing like a little vacation from reality to make you appreciate vacations from reality.

Nothing like a little vacation from reality to make you appreciate vacations from reality.

I love having a family, but it’s not really possible to get very much done when they’re around. People want feeding, chauffeuring, cuddling, that sort of thing. Art, for me, is an extended and quiet process. It requires long chunks of time in which to think and feel before creation even begins, and then it wants no interruption as the new work unspools.

That’s why I take writing retreats once or twice a year, sometimes with other writers, and sometimes alone. I only use the computer for work-related tasks, avoid all social media, and spend every minute I’m not writing doing something inspiring: cooking, reading, hiking. Talking about writing. It helps keep me sane. I always set a lot of rules and a lot of goals, and I usually do pretty well with both. It’s a special, sacred space and I wish I could enter into it more often.

But having a family to come home to is a beautiful thing. Even though I sometimes miss having days on end filled with nothing but writing and quiet, I would miss my family more if I didn’t have them. the The kids will be able to take care of themselves someday. Not sure about The Man, though.

This Mandala is Very Busy on the Cellular Level

This Mandala is Very Busy on the Cellular Level

Not entirely amorphous…

It looks to me like a diagram out of a biology textbook, or else a page torn from the sketchbook of a character in an HP Lovecraft story. Amoeba? Planaria? Nudibranch? Ancient unspeakable horror? The colors are great, though.

Looks like Wednesdays are going to be a bust for me, artwise, until we finish this salsa dancing class at the end of the semester. I do the majority of my work between 10 and 2, but by the time we get home from the après-class gathering, it’s well past 10. Wednesdays are my volunteer days, so I did pull down the old bulletin board and put up a new background. However, this week is a particular Tucson holiday: Rodeo. Our schools don’t get a day off for President’s day, but we do get Thursday and Friday off for the Fiesta de los Vaqueros, so the school is closed until Monday.

Now it’s late, but I think there’s a good chance I can finish the new T-shirt design I’ve been working on.

Dragon Comics 74

You've got the power!

You’ve got the power!

A long time coming but here it is: comics about self-affirmation and belief in your true core’s strength. The answer was right there all along.

So far this has been a good week! My friend the Owl sent me a job posting for a website looking for someone to blog about non superhero graphic novels. This is my thing! I have a deep background and many ideas to share on this subject, and I am professionally trained to write and to deconstruct texts. Yet, knowing about the process of reading open calls for submission triggers my fear of rejection. What if, despite my knowledge that I am perfect for a job, I fail? What does this say about my belief in my abilities, if I cannot even escape the slush pile? This is the sort of thing that tears me up and prevents me from putting forth the effort.

But I put forth the effort. And I made the cut. My little essays are going up as guest posts and if everything works out I will probably get my own column. To write about non superhero graphic novels. Which is a thing I would be doing anyway.

Another fun thing that just happened was the advent of my 100th follower on this blog. Hello! Everything’s coming up Dragon!

The Venus of Continental Reserve

***Depending on how stodgy your place of employment is, this content is potentially not safe for work. It contains stylized representations of the nude female figure, and while it is not exactly rated-R, it might not be OK in certain situations. Please enjoy in an appropriate environment.***

Don't scroll any farther if you are afraid of what you might see when I move my thumb.

Don’t scroll any farther if you are afraid of what you might see when I move my thumb.

A friend of mine likes to plan things. He likes to arrange them. He enjoyed complications. He had an idea for a party game, and he asked me if he could make a little piece to be used in the game. Originally, he was talking about a “token,” but as he discussed it with another friend who was helping him organize, the word “fetish” kept popping up. When I finally got added to the thread, I saw the word “fetish” and said, “Well, if that’s how it is, I’ll just recreate the Venus of Willendorf.”

Her shape is classical: her coloring? Not so much.

Her shape is classical: her coloring? Not so much.

I was guided not only by this old representation of the female form, but also by some speculation (which I read in Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children books) as to how such icons might have been used. the way the legs are formed, the figure could be stuck into the ground to stand by itself, potentially guarding a space. In a spiritual sense, of course.

Side view: who needs arms when you're shaped like this?

Side view: who needs arms when you’re shaped like this?

I had to mix my own color: gold, yellow, and white, with a touch of pink, but once I got the caucasian skin tone down, I liked the idea of using some modern colors for accents. The original Venus has no face, just ringlets of hair around the head. I decided to go with this sort of Princess Leia look for this girl’s hair, and if you’re going with purple hair, why not have hot pink nipples. My Venus is about half the size of the Venus of Willendorf. Part of the specs said that the fetish should be small enough to be concealed in the hand, so this thing is only about 2 inches.

Sweet cheeks :)

Sweet cheeks 🙂

She took about 2 hours to model. Per usual, I learned a lot by making her, and could probably do a better, faster job if I wanted to make another.

Dragon Comics: Guest Comic 1!

I'm so tired I can't tell if this looks right.

I’m so tired I can’t tell if this looks right.

A couple months back, the Fox asked if I was interested in fan art of my comic. Oh, my goodness! Who wouldn’t be? He said it was OK to save his drawing for a day when I just couldn’t get a comic out, and this seems to be that day. I have a massive headache, I’ve hardly slept all weekend, and I’m so tired I can barely thing, so here it is: Fox Comics!

The Fox is a rather talented writer and artist. He certainly has the “bizarre realities that can only exist in comics” down to an art. There’s a little joke between us here, as he is of the opinion that if it tastes good, you should eat it, while I have been largely sugar and gluten free for about 5 years. I’m not saying that I never have a piece of cake, but generally I eschew carbs in general, and flour and processed sweeteners most particularly. I just feel better that way. So, although we are very good friends with many things in common, his “Eat all the things!” attitude clashes with my “At least 80% healthy” diet.

I love the drunk-looking cupcakes, the flying pie, and whatever is going on between the tiered cake and the fork. Green Jello kind of freaks me out, though.

If you are on Furaffinity, you can see some more of his drawings here, but you have to register with the website to get at the content.

Most of this afternoon, I was concentrating on my first professional photography gig! The model was a bit shy at first but opened up and was soon enjoying herself. We were shooting for about 3 hours, including some short breaks. Originally, we had planned to use a my friend’s swanky house in the suburbs for half the shoot, and then hike a bit into Saguaro Park West for the second half, but we ended up getting so into it that we never left the house. I think the client is going to be very happy with the results.

Dragon Comics 73

Choose your friends wisely.

Choose your friends wisely.

This is part of the child mind, the beginner mind, to approach the task with a sense of innate wonder. Every time, there exists a moment of awe and a feeling of newness, a joy in the process and another at the outcome. It doesn’t matter what anyone outside of that experience thinks, and anyone inside the experience will witness it with the same breathe of amazement. What comes after, when the internal, made external, moves through the rest of the world, does not change these sensations.

What comes after, when the world passes judgement, has no impact on the artist or the creative process.

Another night when I started too late and my head has gone all swimmy such that the screen is blurry. Comic: that’s all.

The Explosive Mandala

My lucky stars!

My lucky stars!

This mandala is structurally interesting in that it’s based on sevens, an odd prime number. Its primary shape is that of a seven-pointed star, and the various layers comprise more seven-pointed stars. Naturally, there’s a bit of a skew to it, but it sort of balances itself in perfect imperfection.

Earlier the outline of a provocative and thoughtful blog entry about art existed in my mind, but now there is nothing there but a blank sheet of paper. No doubt the disappearing ink will reappear tomorrow. Today was sort of a bust for me: I took a salsa class and baked a quiche for a picnic, but I didn’t make any art. (Some might argue that dancing is making art, but it was only my second class and I’m not that good, so I don’t know if you really want to call it art as much as trying not to get stepped on while not understanding Spanish. The quiche was good but I wouldn’t call it art.)

It’s a rare day for me with no drawing or writing. It feels like the opposite of a vacation. It feels like a burden.

Dragon Comics 72

Also, attracting, sweet-smelling, and modest. Modesty is a very attractive quality in someone of my obvious talents.

Also, attracting, sweet-smelling, and modest. Modesty is a very attractive quality in someone of my obvious talents.

Being an artist requires a special degree of selfishness. You have to be willing to put your art first, at least some of the time. You have to want to. It’s like being in love. You have to choose it over other things that people might find more exciting. If you are in a relationship with your art, sometimes you’ll leave a party because you’d rather be with your art. Sometimes you will be mentally checked out of your other (human) relationships, because you want to be with your art.

So the first kind of selfishness is the kind where you say, “I choose the act of creation over other activities.” But I’ve also been mulling over this other kind of selfishness, which is the idea that you have to love your art unconditionally. You have to have faith in it within a bubble where no outside criticism penetrates.

That’s the tricky part, of course. When you’re 9 and you don’t know anything, yeah, maybe you can look objectively at what you’ve done and understand that it’s not as good as something else, but at the same time, if you’re in love with your art, you primarily view it subjectively. You have to be in love with the idea that you have created something that represents a mountain, a dragon, and idea. If you are, then you believe in its righteousness, full stop. Other people’s opinions don’t affect yours. You don’t solicit them, and you don’t really care about them when they’re offered, unless they validate your beliefs in the supremacy of your creation.

Criticism creates doubt and halting timidness in creation. Rather than unleashing ideas, you hold them back, anticipating how other people might cut them down. You can’t generate new realities if you feel that what you have to offer the world isn’t going to measure up to the world’s standards.

The question is, how do you maintain that unwavering, childlike understanding of your own inherent greatness while still improving? Can a person accept feedback, even criticism, and integrate it into their understanding, without losing that perfect faith? Is it possible to selfishly embrace the idea that your art is perfect while remaining open to the possibility that it could be more perfect.

Part of me would return to that vacuum, to the solitary act of creation with no followup. Not needing accolades is refreshing. Another part of me has learned that the act of creation is not complete until others have experienced your creation, though. Unread writing, a film without an audience, a painting in the dark, they don’t yet exist. So we’re still working on this balance. Believe you are worthy of worship at the same time that you believe that you can be even worthier.

Bulletin Boards for Continuity’s Sake

For the sake of getting all of them in one place, I’ve decided to upload some of my early bulletin boards. A few decent layouts that happened to be more text than image, didn’t get added in the backstory part of this blog. However, it’s nice to have them all under one category, in case people want to review. I don’t have exact dates for the old ones, but maybe I will work that out someday.


Giving Thanks

This is my first or second Thanksgiving design. The quote is “Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give,”  from the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child. I love the font as well as the message. Since there are people who seriously don’t believe anyone has a right to any of those things, it’s nice to know that there are organizations asserting that yes, kids should have healthcare and education (and food and peace and love and shelter and play and freedom). I would also add “water” to this sentiment, but I guess it’s sort of implied in food.

Who Do We Love?

Who Do We Love?

It’s too bad that this image is not high enough resolution to make out all the text. I remember that white heart on the left talks about the Roman celebration of Lupercalia on the one on its right is about the real Saint Valentine. The slightly smaller heart on the far right just lets people know that I will add a heart for them if they think of more categories of things to love. This is either my first or second Valentine’s themed bulletin boards.

I don’t do particular holiday anymore so much as I do feelings and emotions. Typically, For Thanksgiving and the winter holidays I’ll have a theme about light and family, for example. Usually there will be something with a heart in mid or late winter but it won’t necessarily be about the holiday.

This Wednesday would be the day that I would switch from the New Year’s design to something for springtime (although thematically, these tend to offer similar ideas, and yes, I’m aware that that east coast and midwest are still snowed in; here in Arizona it’s the time of wildflowers and new leaves) but I got called up for jury duty that day. I’m still hoping I won’t have to go. Jury duty is ridiculously anxiety producing for me, and I’ve never even gotten past the first room where they make you watch a film about democracy. I totally believe in the potential of democracy and a trial by a jury of your peers, but I find getting up early to be physically debilitating, and I find being forced to sit on a hard plastic chair in a room full of strangers for an unspecified period of time incredibly stressful, and I also find being in the courthouse in general psychologically unpleasant (like, poking old PTSD unpleasant). If you could fulfill your jury duty online, watching the trial on your own schedule (within reason, of course), I’d be way more into it.

Dragon Comics 71

It's all kind of up in the air.

It’s all kind of up in the air right now. 

My inner child is older and wiser than she used to be.

About a year ago my brother emailed me to ask my opinion of the “accuracy” of some depictions of the writing process in The World According to Garp: “To begin with, is it true that when you write everything seems connected to everything else?” My short answer: “cf: synchronicity.”

When a story is working, when the characters and their motivations are real and defined, it drives itself, and the world is its fuel. It just keeps shoveling ideas in one end, and plot comes out the other. Sometimes all you have to do is pick the words that keep the ideas in order. Yes, everything feeds writing. Some writers may be more focused in terms of which field they let the machine graze in, but whatever you have, that’s what gets in.

He also asked some intelligent questions about how stories are generated, and this is different for every writer, I think, but they don’t tend to spring fully formed like Athena from the brow of Zeus, unless you are very, very lucky. You still have to put the pieces together and keep the mechanism tuned: now it needs a new character, now a change of scenery.

Writing this comic, at this particular time in my life, has grown enlightening. I’m glad so many people are on this journey with me, but I’m writing it for myself. We wouldn’t have set off on this particular path if not for the unfortunate episode of bullying I wrote about a couple weeks back, which in turn led me to ask myself a series of questions, and the questions went deeper and deeper into the past, but kept dovetailing with questions about the present and future. It speaks to me as a tool for understanding, learning, and accepting.

In short, I’m working through some stuff here. Stay tuned. If you dare.