Tag Archives: fish

Dragon Comics 65

dragon comic 65_edited-2

After years of in-depth study, field observation, and careful introspection, I have begun to unravel the mystery of humans.

By coincidence, I just saw this article, which highlights some issues that simply weren’t discussed when I was a kid, regarding the challenges suffered by the gifted child, the isolation and the expectation, ways in which pull-out education can fail them, and the connection with depression. In the typical public school classroom, and even, at times, in GATE classrooms, there is little room for a certain type of eccentricity, or behavior that crosses a particular line.

Of course, these days it seems like schools are much more accepting of students who are different, but in general, there’s still a sense that public school does have a tacit goal of enforcing conformity.

I don’t think that being smart/creative/different necessarily leads to depression. It’s probably more a combination of how it feels to see the world through outsider eyes and how those who can pass as “normal” (seriously, no one is normal; just some of us have fewer weirdnesses to hide and/or do a better job of suppressing our anomalies) respond to and treat those who are different. If our culture celebrated weirdness, this article wouldn’t have been written.

When I was as student at Antioch College, hotbed of radicalism, “You’re weird,” was offered as a compliment and received as such. The response to, “You’re weird,” was, “Thank you.” A lot of people blossomed and became themselves at that time, in that place. But most folks I know, then and now, suffered tremendously at the hand of the majority in the years before college and spent our young adulthood working through it. While discussing last week’s comics with a friend, she revealed a story about how a teacher responded when she complained of being bullied that frankly horrified me; regardless of what I went through, I never had a teacher deliberately compound my suffering, or appear to enjoy it. (Although I certainly felt bullied by certain teachers at certain times, this story was simply cruel, particularly as it occurred in response to a cry for help.)

When I look at the Girl, I see a human with perhaps more humanity than is usual, a child who instantly takes the hand of a developmentally disabled kid and asks them, “Do you want to play?” even if she’s well aware that the other child isn’t capable of speech.

Most of us lack that simple kind of compassion, one that not only tells us immediately how to respond to someone who is different, but allows us to do so without any thought of shame or confusion.

From what I read, and what I see in schools, our educational system is working toward becoming kinder and more compassionate. Maybe in 20 years kids won’t be collecting these kinds of stories, holding within them a casket of pain dulled only by emotional success in adulthood. Maybe we’ll all learn to be like the Girl, there for those who need us, so accepting of our differences that we hardly even see them.

Please like this page

Not that I precisely understand Facebook’s algorithms, but it seems pretty likely to me that Facebook doesn’t like it when you link to the same blog every single day. When I first started blogging, it seems like I actually got a lot more traffic, and a lot more Facebook likes. Now it’s leveled off, so my assumption is that Facebook isn’t showing my updates to as many people, which means fewer people are liking them, which means fewer people are seeing them. A vicious circle.

Lacking a publicity budget and not being overly active on any other forums, it’s hard to see how to increase my reach. Unless my work is so great that everyone who reads it just naturally and organically shares it. OK: generate better work so that people just naturally like and share it.

I *can* get better with practice. But do I?

I *can* get better with practice. But do I?

For most of my life, I was the type of person who either took immediately to a new skill, or gave up immediately on a new skill. It’s fortunate (or, possibly, the cause of this behavior) that I found myself naturally good at enough things that it was not immediately apparent that I was a quitter, or that I wasn’t learning certain important skills. (Seriously, I don’t think I knew my 12 times tables until college.) Not until my 30s did it ever seem imperative to me that subpar skills should be honed, that time should be spent doing things I wasn’t good at. So the Dragon “I can get better with practice” comic still amuses me, and guides me. It can guide you too, if you carry it around with you at all times and refer to it for guidance in times of need.

I stand by this princess.

I stand by this princess.

Getting better still isn’t a guarantee of success, which is another life lesson for me. Take Princess Sealestia of Aquastria. Although she’s a simple drawing, she took me about a month to complete, primarily because I had no idea what I was doing and had to learn the skills as I went. She still cracks me up. She still seems like a great idea to me. She gets more page views than any other design in my RedBubble shop. She gets compliments, too. But no one seems to want to take her home. Why not? She’s adorable. She’s available as a sticker for $2.32. That makes her versatile. She could be a smartphone case, or a notebook cover, or a window decal.

That cat is never going to get tired of that fish.

That cat is never going to get tired of that fish.

And finally, being worse isn’t an indicator of failure. It is certain that my writing is objectively better than that of Stephanie Meyers, but it isn’t more successful. I don’t think “Kitty Sees 3 Fishes” is a masterpiece; it’s the oldest drawing in the shop, and it’s actually something I dashed out in a few minutes. In fact, I think I spent more time converting it to a digital format than I did painting it. But it’s one of my most successful designs. How? Why? Should I be doing more in this vein? The idea of the picture still amuses me. But as an older, more accomplished artist, I look at this image and think, “Where are kitty’s feet?”

Anyway, this is a blog post, and these are 3 items in my shop. Do with them as you will. (I hope what you will do is like and share them with your social networks and expose more people to the magic of QWERTYvsDvorak.)

Eilat, Coral Reef Nature Reserve, August 1999


Under the sea, under the sea...it's the Red Sea, in case you were wondering.

Under the sea, under the sea…it’s the Red Sea, in case you were wondering.

I was living on kibbutz in the south of Israel, and a guy that I liked took me to Eilat to go snorkeling. He had bought a waterproof disposable camera and he was determined to get his money’s worth. The results were unspectacular. The reef was crowded. I was sexually harassed in French while standing in line (my French was not sufficient to defend myself, but the guy I was with was a native speaker, and when he came back and saw what was happening, he cheerfully chased my offender off and stood a little bit taller afterward: “I called him ‘tu’ and he answered me with ‘vous,’ he said, a little bit dreamily, as he was a small guy and not used to coming out on top in those situations). The reef was, sadly, dead. No one else seemed to notice, but I’d seen enough nature documentaries to know a dead reef when I saw one. There were fish, but hardly any living corals and no anemones, sea stars, urchins, or any of the fine little creatures you expect around a reef. 

My friend wasn’t confident in his ability to take good pictures, so he gave me the camera, and I did my utmost, but the only really interesting shot on the roll was the last one I took underwater, as we were about to get out. Approaching the steps, we saw hundreds of these beautiful striped blue fish swimming around the legs of the people who were about to get in. It was a magical moment.

As for this drawing, I have mixed feelings about it. If I had another 10 hours to mess around with it, it would probably be as interesting as the original. The perspective is OK, but the light was crazy hard to work with, and capturing the light on the water nearly impossible. I managed to get something there by lining the brushstrokes up, but overall it’s too dark and heavy to really give the appearance of water on a sunny day. However, just completing the exercise taught me a lot, and analyzing the piece now helps me learn even more. I could definitely revisit this at a later date and smooth all the light and shadows out, even if the ripples and bubbles in the water are kind of hopeless from this perspective. 

The thing is, I tried to commit to this blog for the purpose of seeing things through. Otherwise, I’d probably just chuck this image, give it up as too hard and feel like I hadn’t done anything creative today. I might tell myself I’d finish it later and probably not follow through. Promising myself to post something new every day gives me the freedom to suck. I don’t think this picture sucks, per se. It’s just that my skill doesn’t match my vision, and I’m impatient, and learning new things feels new and unusual still after spending almost 30 years obsessively focusing on learning one skill.

So I guess this picture isn’t completely done, but it’s after midnight, so up it goes.