Roadblock

May. 7th, 2014 03:59 pm
chantico: (Honest)
This oil painting thing being directly tied to one of the projects I want to get done was a mistake. To bind the necessary exploration of a new medium so closely with a project that I have a clear vision for, in terms of what the finals should look like and the stylistic choices I want to make, handicaps me from the start. I have picked the wrong boundaries to put on the learning process. SO. Going back to digital for this project, keeping oil painting as something I'm doing to play, fuck around with, and learn something from.

I'd proud of myself for not running away again. Comparing my approach now to my approach in college, I'm much less likely to view an artistic challenge as a threat to my survival, more likely to see it as the obstacle it is-- and also less likely to continue bashing my head against it until it breaks or I do. I have become slier in my approach. If I run face first into something and it doesn't immediately dissolve in a puff of fairy dust, it occurs to me that I might actually be able to *climb over*. Or under, or around, what have you.
chantico: (Crazy)
The past two, three weeks have been a lot of emotional ups-and-downs as I come down to a smaller dose of my Zoloft. My doc and I upped it to help with Winter and boy howdy was it easier to deal with this time around, but now I'm dropping back to my usual dose, it's still kinda shitty in the weather department, and I have a lot on my plate and so there have been . . . undulations. Nothing cray-cray, just some ups and downs. Yesterday I was absolutely dripping ennui, today feeling better and more able to cope with existence.

Did a reading yesterday-- it's been a while. Trying to sort out what I was feeling and why, pulled Guardian at the Gate, and then explored a couple of paths branching off from that. My main two ideas yielded a whole lot of NO OH HONEY NO, but then when I went down the middle the Dark Lady showed up and I had a little freak out. She and I have history-- she's my representative card, and she's who shows up when shit is going to go *down*. I have done Samhain readings to get a general forecast of the year to come, and the two years I pulled her, she represented the summer of 2009 and the fall of 2007. So, the summer of my break down and the fall of my Florence trip.

It says a lot about my state of mind that I was bowled over with just . . . terror. And what immediately came to mind was JASON IS GOING TO DIE because that is my worst fear and I am deeply, irrationally superstitious about it (and it doesn't freaking help that the Dark Lady was backed up by a reversed Gawtcha). I pulled a card on that and got the Singer of Courage, which in typical infuriating faery fashion could mean that i will need courage for the things ahead OR that I am unduly freaking myself out.

And then when J got home and I told him about the cards I pulled, he was like "Do you know what that sounds like to me? That sounds like I'm going to die" and I was all "THAT'S WHAT I THOUGHT" and then we freaked out together and yes, did a reading for him, and no, I don't think he's going to die and really my take away is this:

1. I am not exactly centered right now.

2. I am lolling that my reaction to be told big change is coming is to jump to what is literally the worst thing I could think of.

3. That says a lot more about me right now than the reading did

4. Any entities dealing with me right now must be doing a large amount of facepalming.

. . .
. . .
. . .

But seriously, if Jason dies this year, I'm going to be really unhappy. Just . . . for the record. in case anyone didn't know that.

Obular

Feb. 26th, 2014 04:42 pm
chantico: (Frazzled)
I got my ass kicked by work today. Hope the results are worth it. So many little watercolored rocks. So many. And my time outside of the brush was unfocused and generally unproductive in any way. Feeling pretty stymied in a lot of ways. Can't work on Light, waiting on a couple of other projects to give me the go ahead. UGGGGHHH WAITINGGGGG. I hate liminal states. Hate them!

Did *finally* get to listen to the Pacific Rim score. I tend to rate scores and movies separately, though a good score can way elevate a film for me, and a bad one sink it, but a great score can't save a shit film, only give it a nudge. Anyway, quite happy to find Pacific Rim's score to be one of the best I've heard in years, full of bombast and callbacks to old Kaiju films and thunder without being overwhelming or derivative. No Hans Zimmer effect here-- this is clearly a soundtrack for THIS movie, bespoke in all aspects. I am planning on using it as my playlist for Zombies, Run! when I get that set up.

Made up a word today because I could not think of any equivalent: obular. What does it mean? Any guesses? I like it.

My eyes are having a hard time focusing. Thinking tonight will be an evening of things that don't require staring at anything too close to my face.
chantico: (Indecisive)
Watercolors are a slippery beast. They look so pretty, so simple, so elegantly clean. You do not see the fangs until it's feasting time. Luckily, with practice and courage, they can be leashed. I . . . am not so much with the leashing, yet. More like circling the corral, rope in my hands, while watercolors growl at me from the opposite side of the sawdust floor. They've kicked my as for two days, but the moon has changed it's face and dammit, I figured out a few tricks to wrangle the fuckers into compliance. Mostly.

The problem with them is that watercolors are both a fickle medium *and* a permanent one. It is really hard to undo a stroke once you've laid it down, and estimating exactly how the paint will move is just as difficult. I'm sure masters have no problem estimating color density and how a stroke will dry, but I the definitive dilettante in this arena. Complicating things is the nature of the work: I'm trying to complete additional illustrations for an author who came to us with a set already completed by another artist. My handicap is matching their style-- and like I said, since watercolor is a stroke-by-stroke record, there's no slamming some stuff down on paper and then realizing the person you're doppleganging always used horizontal strokes and you used vertical. Plus I have no idea what colors she used, in what brands (even more so than in other paints, watercolor shades seem to vary a lot between companies; a cadmium red in Windsor and Newton might be pretty damn different than a cadmium red in a competitor-- close enough that they are both still cadmium red, but far enough apart to make my whole palette just a liittttllle cooler, warmer, etc than my predecessor.) AND the images I'm working off of are really bad scans that muck with the colors anyway.

I am legit having a blast. No sarcasm. This is fun.

****

No progress on Light. I am stymied by my lack of tools and waiting for other people to have time/inclination to lend me access to their tools. Frustrated. Working on parasols instead, or maybe writing. Maybe. It's my newest habit: 500 words a day in any medium. So journaling counts. Expect to see more updates as I flee my stories.

****

Been bad about making dinner. It's so hard after the gym! Have been good about going to the gym, though. Bonus. Worked out my arms WAY too much last time; they went from sore to "wow, I feel a little nauseous when I bend my elbows".

****

New Music you should listen to: Gang Gang Dance's Saint Dymphna (for all your african/tartar inspired eclectic electronic needs) and "Once I Was An Eagle" by Laura Marling (who must be a being made of glass to have a voice so clear and sharp).
chantico: (Default)
Credit to Cali Sales at http://calisalesillustration.tumblr.com/ for the cover image. Please check her out.

1. "Sail" -- Macy Grey, Covered
2. "Bent" -- Matchbox 20, Mad Season
3. "Rave On" -- Over the Rhine, The Long Surrender
4. "Bad Wings" -- The Glitch Mob, Drink the Sea
5. "The Parting Glass" -- Loreena McKennitt, The Wind That Shakes The Barley
6. "Gold Dust" -- Tori Amos, Scarlet's Walk
7. "Every Single Night" -- Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
8."Bad Body Double" -- Imogen Heap, Ellipse
9."Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)" -- Florence and the Machine, Lungs
10."Slipping Away" -- Barcelona, Not Quite Yours
11. "Do The Trick" -- Dr. Dog, Be the Void
12. "Don't Stop (Color On The Walls)" -- Foster the People, Torches
13. "Raconte-Moi Une Histoire" -- M83, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
14. "Saeglópur" -- Sigor Ros, Takk
15. "Everybody Wants To Be a Cat" -- Brian Setzer, Mosh Pit On Disney
16. "Panic Station" -- Muse, The 2nd Law
17. "Sleep" -- Get Set Go, Ordinary World
18. "Run Away" -- Sarah Jarosz, Follow Me Down
19. "Dull Life" -- Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz!
20. "Setting Sail, Coming Home", Darren Korb, Bastion OST
21. "Youth" -- Daughter, If You Leave
chantico: (Impatient)
Been a really productive couple of days. I credit HabitRPG, being that it was plucked straight from my "technological programs I wish existed" fantasies and made real.

First, I'm keeping up with an updated workload. The Higher Ups finally figured out a way to track production hours for the artists, using averages of our work times. It's not that bad, really. Some stuff that I do *really* fast is slotted to take a lot longer, some stuff I take longer on is expected faster, and they predict things to balance out so they don't really sweat it unless you are consistently under goals.

Second, got paid for a project I did a while back, which had not been collected due to my own laziness.

Third, finished an Album cover for B, an illustration I'm quite proud of, and I did it way fast-- five hours from sketch to completion. It's nice to see myself getting even faster . . . and getting better. My colors are stronger, my drawing better. I know, it should be expected with working my job, but I'd been plateaued for a while, and it looks like I've a level up in my future.

Fourth, finished all but one sketch for the coolest job I've gotten in a long while: botanical illustrations for a scientific paper. A new species has been discovered, and I get to do the plates for the introductory paper. Eeee! It's tough stuff, being so specific and detail oriented, but FUN.

And fifth, most importantly, I have finished the studies for Light. It's ready for me to start the painting process. And *that* deserves an entry to itself, but not right now because I have a car waiting to pick me up.

Huzzuh!

Candlelight

Feb. 3rd, 2014 12:59 pm
chantico: (Beginning)
Look, I'm updating when I am feeling an emotion other than blank, stuffy numbness! Yay!

Spent the weekend in the company of friends, that exhausting and precious rarity. On Saturday, I attended Moon's birthday party and brought a recently returned Hannah with me. Driving through the drizzle there and back, we had good talks about the impending future. She aired her recent grievances; I think she's got a really clear head on her shoulders in regards to this clusterfuck, and I trust her judgement. I made her promise that if J ever died, leaving me either alone or bechilded, she would be the one to make sure I didn't sell everything I own to buy an RV and run. These are the things that keep me up at night. We talked about the house, and the possibility of children, and career stuff. It condenses into the same cloud of uncertainties: where am I going, what am I doing? I don't know, I can't know right now. My crystal ball has dropped and the insides have fractured.

Moon's was nice for seeing friends, awkward in other ways. Probably going to write a private post about that stuff, as it involves Things that are not my Things, and do not need airing without permission.

It took me the better part of Sunday to get the house clean, and it squeaked across the finish line 15 minutes before the first person arrived for the evening Imbolc gathering. I have not thrown a party in years (and never expect a soul to come) so I aimed low, and the amount of food and hot chocolate we had on hand was perfect. It was a lovely evening-- we put Too Cute on the television, and talked to the background of kittens and puppies; played telephone Pictionary and lit Imbolc candles. A very sweet night in both munching and company. After folks left, J hit the grocery store and I had a few moments of calm and quiet to stare at all the shiny little candlelight.

Ah, magick. That's what you feel like. Just a little bit, a smidgen, but detectable.

Still feel like 2014 is going to be a good year.
chantico: (Numb)
I have got to stop updating at the end of my work day; by this point the cotton in my head has collected into drifts and for all the conversations and connections I want to have (with any readers, or with the future self that will be reading this one nostalgic day-- hi, self!), there ain't no deep talk happening. I never knew one could feel mental exhaustion, in a very real, physical sense. Always associated it before with that wall you hit where you just don't want to do anything anymore. Alas, no, there is a beyond, and in that realm you will find mist and bellybutton lint and all manner of soft, smothering things to press on the walls of your skull, compacting your eyes, forehead, sinuses.

***

Imbolc party on Sunday. Haven't thrown a party in years. Wondering how I'm going to get the house clean, if I should do a little ritual, what I can use as cushions for the lawn furniture since ours did not survive the cold or my many winters of neglect. Seriously though, the whole back romo is a filthy junk pile and I really, really need to get it picked up if people are going to head to the back yard but I am not sure when I am going to be able to do that. Saturday is Moon's birthday party and I miss her so, yeah, not skipping that. Jason's sick and I can't rely on him to clean it up anyway. He wants to find a way to pick up the Superbowl this Sunday during the party and I'm all "Uh. You . . . totally okayed this party thing and the date for it. Please don't sabotage." Or I'm saying that internally. Slinking away from any conversations that might be unpleasant right now because he's worn so thin by work.

MARRIAGE. The careful balancing act of "We need to communicate!" and "I'm too crazy not to take this shit personally right now!"

Thhhbbt.

****

Finished The Map's geographical features. placing and naming cities now. Very pleasant and mindless. Painting preparations for Light are coming along-- figured out exactly what region I'm illustrating, did two environmental studies and found a source for one more, picked some grasses to examine, designed the lantern and costume, studied the hard parts of that (though I need to do a texture examination of firelight on wool). Still need to do some studies of the tree, a couple of lantern light, and a *lot* of anatomical work. Then thumbnails at last!

****

Gym visit #4 tonight. Overworked my legs yesterday. 24 hours afterward and they still feel weak-- a bad sign. Abs, hips, shoulders tonight, and maybe the treadmill instead of the arc machine to keep my thighs from dying.

****

Today's music: The Stroke's "Room on Fire" (meh); Dry the River's "Shallow Bed" (solid, enjoyable folk with some great hooks and lyrics); Run DMC's "Tougher than Leather" (I remember the early 90's!); Krewella's "Wet" (party pop dubstep, entertaining, but in smaller doses than a whole album in one go) and a smidge of Joe Cocker.
chantico: (Groggy)
Cottonhead is bad today. I feel like I'm looking through bottle-bottoms. Everything is a little swimmy and thick and just this side of warped. Is stayed up way too late last night because I didn't want the week to start and I'm paying the price. So sleepy. I used up my whole lunch taking a jittery nap in the break room downstairs. Every time I woke up a little, someone was watching me. It was off putting. I was put off.

I can't believe it is almost mom's birthday. January disappeared.

***

Happier note: playing Fallout: New Vegas. After I royally pissed off the Legion by murdering an entire garrison (seriously they are dicks this isn't a problem), quest asks me to go to their homebase and steal something. Fuck, okay, I've got Stealth Boys, I can do this.

I could not do this. Not stealthily, at least. Well. Sort of.

So I kind of killed the entire camp included Caesar. Hope as the main villain he wasn't *too* important to the rest of the game. His armor looks really sweet on me, though. I really did try to do it without all the slaughter, but every time I set foot in the tent his stupid dogs sensed me, and then he and all his guards ran outside to follow me and I only escaped by the skin of my teeth because my poor companions stayed behind and died repeatedly to keep them occupied. I salute your pain, brave companions. I'm sorry I ran away to hide, but not too sorry, because that allowed me to stage a war of attrition against not only the Caesar and his elite guard but against the game itself, which I guess didn't expect em to waltz in at level 21 and try to kill *everyone*, because it kept crashing. Whatever. Sneak and Snipe wins the day again, and I sang a victory song while seated in Caesar's throne. LONG LIVE THE KING.

***

There was a backload of laundry I took care of this weekend. Struggling through the drifts of dirty clothes, I scooped up everything in sight that looked spotty, not realizing my mistake until I pulled a long, black sweater out of the dryer. Poor J looks up from his videogame to see me wearing it, tears in my eyes. "What's wrong?"

"I didn't mean to wash it!" I blubber.

"Did it shrink?" Head shaking. "Did it tear?"

I've been avoiding washing it for over a year, because a some point, Ralphie made a little nest of it, and it had been covered in his fur. Even if it kept me from wearing the sweater, I didn't want to erase that last marker of his physical presence. I miss him so much. This is my first real experience with grief--- those dead I have known were just *done*, or we weren't close, or they were in so much pain it was a relief. Sometimes I feel guilty I'm mourning Ralph more than I have mourned any of my grandparents. I think they would have been sad to know that.


***

A little bit of emotional whiplash in this post.
chantico: (Thoughtful)
Better today. I didn't get much work done, but I pushed through the horrible torture picture on my queue and now I am free of that one forever. Going out tonight for a birthday celebration for someone I have made the acquaintance of but don't really "know" know. He seems like a good dude, and it's important to keep getting up and running the friend-making marathon. And I finished a painting study for my Light picture. It is good. I am pleased. I am *very* pleased that I did well on estimating the colors, which I always have some problem with, but as usual I am not so great at figuring out value. Especially in situations where something is highly saturated. I am not sure how to train my eye to detect that, other than continual practice. Well, it would be continual practice either way, but like many art things, sometimes it takes a special way of thinking about a subject to get it through my head.

Speaking of painting.

Right now, I spend a lot of time contemplating my place in the artistic universe. There's lots more to write about that; it's a dodecahedron of issues, but this facet is all about Why I Do Art. Or more specifically, Why I Have Done Art. (And even more specifically, "One Significant Fraction of Why I Do and Have Done Art" but now we're getting pedantic and I don't want to think about how you divide one side of a polyhedron by thirds because math, whatever, ANYWAY) Look, I'm not shy about the fact that I am a Leo and I live up to the attention seeking stereotype. I like eyes on me-- or deflected slightly, onto my art. Maybe I didn't start to draw because of this, but I sure as shit started showing my work to people because of it. I drew, drew *publicly*, because I wanted the attention. I was good at the drawing, or good enough to merit a lingering glance, and it was a convenient cipher through which I could gain the praise I craved without offering up my vulnerable self. Everyone likes someone who can draw, because they can draw for *you*. And I hammered away at getting better so that I could be *better than*. I was in competition with anyone that picked up pencil, and the poor folks either never knew it or were befuddled by my antipathy. I wouldn't have made a career, a *life* out of this if I didn't enjoy it on a base level. But how do I ingratiate myself with people I want to be friends with? I draw them something. It was the Like button before Facebook existed. It was the safest way I knew of being popular.

In high school.

And then in college, I started unraveling that, but I still craved the adoration of people even if I wasn't pursuing it out of blood-tinged jealousy. But . . . if I was okay with being the second best in the class, I *wasn't* okay with being the fourth, fifth, sixth. Things that were tough for me, like color theory and oil painting? I avoided. I dropped out, because what I was producing wasn't worth being looked at. And since college, that has been the metric by which I have judged my work: is this worth being looked at? That's a fabulous skill for an illustrator to have, because it means that my focus is intrinsically on pleasing the client or the crowd.

Note that not once in this have I mentioned doing art for myself.

Because I don't.

Oh . . . sometimes I draw my own characters. And by sometimes I mean I have done some sketches. But. Well. Did you ever see a painting done of Liza? Bethy? Barty? I illustrated other folks characters, but not once did I put the time in for mine beyond some half-hour pieces. Most of my paintings in my portfolio are commissions. It's more than a matter of doing art just for other people and never giving the time to what *I* want-- it's subconsciously selecting what I want to create based on an opaque mental calculation automatically done that tallies the People Pleasing Quotient. Number ain't high enough? The image in my head dies a miserable death, never to be developed.

What has made me notice this toxic relationship with my work is the Oracle deck I want to make.

Really, the first brick to tumble was when I started working my job, and suddenly I didn't "need" to do other people's stuff, but it was an invisible brick, and only recently have the foundational cracks been visible. For a little while, I have decided that I am done doing work for other folks (for the time being). I'm mopping up some old commissions and then not taking on freelance, pocketbook be damned. But no, it was before that decision-- it was in August, maybe? April? It started when I decided to work on the Oracle Deck instead of the book, because I needed to lick my wounds after the latest writing fiasco and work on reigniting some Magick to keep the Void at bay. Oracle deck let me be comfortable, have fun playing around with my own ideas, and was intrinsically magickal, so. I picked some cards that I felt I could do right now, and asked folks on Facebook to help me pick which one to start on. ( . . .)

I worked on a draft. It came along okay, but halfway through, I realized it didn't feel right. I couldn't make it work. The thematic ideas were sound, but I just . . . it wasn't the card I wanted to paint. It had a good composition and color palette. The scene told a story and the characters looked cool. It was engaging for an audience, could be a good print at my next show. Why wasn't it Right?

Set it aside, slipped into depression. Ruminated on it, brooded. Got better with the extra meds, decided to work for myself, we are caught up in time to the end of the holidays, and I still don't understand why-- and our gentle eureka moment.

It wasn't working because it wasn't for me. What I envisioned, before doing all the things an illustrator is supposed to do, is an image that isn't all that exciting, but appeals to me personally. I rejected it out of hand-- out of the barest whisper of thought-- because it wasn't marketable. And I didn't even notice I'd done it.

Alright, so all this rambling explains the backstory, I guess, or a fragment of it. There's more. I'll write a whole other post about illustration as a mask and what I wrote above about drawing being a safe way to socialize and why that explains my befuddlement at the idea an execution of Art as Emotional Expression, but I'll write that later. *The point*. Yes. Okay.

The point is, I'm not sure if I should show off my oracle work until the project is completed. And the idea of that is driving my BATTY. Completely ape shit. *Art without feedback*. WAT. HOW. Show off is the right phrasing-- I can get some critiques, but I think I'd do it in small groups, over email, or in person.

I don't know, though. Am I grasping at an empty solution to a complex problem? I don't think liking the attention is in and of itself An Issue, but having it seated in the Captain's chair is. Is this a good way to derail that? It feels like it, but I'm not one for trusting myself overly much. I think the compromise I've come to is that I might share the developmental work, studies and so on, but the painting itself will stay a secret until they are all ready to be revealed.

And there is something Magick about that . . . but again, that's another post. I have used up my words, shitty as they might be, in blurting all of this stream-of-consciousness.

To show, or not to show.

Hm.
chantico: (Alien)
Odd day. Couldn't shake myself off the net, even though there wasn't much for me to read or do. I am bored of the net but it beats be bored of drawing, which I am. Throuighly. Everyone goes through their career rough patches. I guess my inner child is stamping her foot, because I do not want to be drawing for anyone else but me. Just, no. I am flush with drawing excitment but it's all for my own stuff.

I kind of want to go to the gym tonight, but I kinda don't. Kinda wanna play videogames, kinda don't. Repeat ad nauseum for any activity. Boredom is stage one of depression and for once I'm happy to see it, because ti means I'm not in stage two like I was the past couple of months. Hurrah for going to the doctor and popping up my dosage.

I feel like there is nothing interesting to write, but . . . I know I'm thinking about lots of things. Like why, when i go home, it feels so anti-creative as a space that I am more likely to get painting done when sitting in my cubicle (short answer: I have no fucking idea). About my relationship with me mom and how much that has improved and how I am so happy about it. Thinking about friends, and loneliness, and some of the hard things about sustaining a healthy marriage when you have no one close but each other. About writing itself. Jesus. Writing. My Smaug in the mountain, my terrifying guardian at the gate. And all the stuff I'm turning over in my head about my art, and my career, and questions about just what one does when they've reached some form of career stability, their "goal" in life, and all the baggage that comes with reaching what you decided was your finish line when you were so wee and thought it would never come. My nihilistic crises.

But those take too much from me right now. So here is what I did today: I pushed through the No-I-Don-Wanna's to finish inking some lady's book about her dogs, start inking a scene that STILL baffles me as to it's perspective or logistics (but fuck it, I so do not care anymore because when the author gives you and impossible scenario, sometimes you just need to rely on style rather than logic), and revised another few drawings for other folks. I worked on The Map, finishing off the plains area, starting in on the southern reefs. The desert is all that's left after this, and a few spots in the mountains. Oh, and I laid down a very basic climate pattern. I listened to the Strokes "Room on Fire", which I am not overly impressed by, Death Cab For Cutie's "The Photo Album", which I like less that Narrow Stairs, and Dirty Projectors' "Swing Lo Magellan", which is much more impressive in it's creativity and sound, if about as emotionally engaging.

J's here, so no time for copy editing. I'm sure this post is full of typos and mess. Oh well.

Burp

Jul. 19th, 2013 09:09 am
chantico: (Exausted)
I was . . . not so productive this week.

Got really into developing fantasy cultures, ostensibly to inform my Oracle project, mostly for fun. And by cultures, I mean fashion and names. Developed a whole naming system, drew a bunch of examples of different castes. They may or may not ever been seen.

Have been keeping up with writing, mostly. Failed yesterday and fiddled with my outline instead.

Collected a four-figure debt from someone for artwork I did a long time ago, and used it to pay off several big standing debts. We're going to do it, guys. This month, we will *finally* be caught up on finances.

Now if I can just stop eating out, we'll be good.

Storied

Jul. 8th, 2013 09:22 am
chantico: (Rejuvinated)
It was *so* nice hosting good company for the last week. Lots of writing talk was had, stories were mutually read, and a long and relaxing 4th of July was spent in the company of old characters. It felt really, really excellent to be gaming again. I missed rolling those dice, and I missed Barty and Missy. We showed up on a mirror-planet to our original universe and stuck our noses where they didn't belong, as per usual, running afoul of the Vatican's secret time police. I *really* hope we get to continue sessions online, because this is A Good Plot.

What else did we do? Play some Rock Band, have a few writing dates, go out to eat far too much (entirely our fault. What a wonderful excuse to do things we shouldn't.) Watched Cabin in the Woods with Jen on Friday night. She reacted with as much glee as we'd hoped.

An extremely refreshing week in the social/creative categories, like a gentle coast through space post supernova. Ready to buckle down and tackle more book, and start reading me some grammar guides. The story A. read had a few grammar issues that I couldn't see, so it's time to brush up on the basics and dive head first into advanced grammar.

***

All the rain means my yard looks like a jungle. I started the deforestation yesterday by going at the bigger, woodier weeds with a pair of murder-shears. All weeds shall fall and wither before my mighty will! Then I got hot an bored so, uh, no more of that. I'm so amused by how vicious yard-implements look-- weed-whips, pruning shears, lawnmowers, those horrifying instruments with the spiky, rolling things at the end. The all look like torture tools. I'm having a hard time not cackling like an inquisitor while doing yard work.

The climbers are attacking from the Pit side. I need to find my wellies to wade into that mess: poison ivy up to the knee and god knows what else. I'm not sure what to do to take it all out . . . other than wait for winter.

***

Saw Superman. Enjoyed it enough. The disaster porn was disaster-porny, and we all know I can't help but drool over crumpling buildings and mangled cars. And The Big Divisive Moment didn't feel as wrong to me as I thought it would-- Cavill sold me on the anguish and necessity. Which is good! Because for the rest of the movie, Superman seems to give about as much of a shit as a constipated muskrat. I don't know-- I loved Lois, I loved Zod, Fanora was fantastic . . . but overall I felt like these were characters ready to come into their own, doing cool things, who would at critical points have their strings jerked by an off screen puppeteer and recite lines or make choices that I found *baffling*. I can wrap my head around a Superman who Does The Thing, but I cannot wrap my brain around a Superman *who does not spend the time trying to evacuate people*. I actually felt icky over how many folk I knew were dying, unseen and unthought of by the pinnacle of compassion. plus there were some really big plot holes that made me have to chew on my own tongue to keep from arguing with the movie screen.

Zack Snyder, man. Zack Snyder feels like the dude who has some really amazing, really moving ideas, and never figured out the intricacies of storytelling needed to properly convey them. I think he really feels potently about the properties he takes on, but just . . . does not have the language to (paraphrasing Stephen King here)make a telepathic link with his audience, where they are feeling what you're feeling, moved by what moves you. He substitutes flash for lack of a larger storytelling vocabulary.

Knots

Jul. 1st, 2013 11:52 am
chantico: (Winsome)
It's been a little busy round these parts!

Backing up a bit: Jason took off for Origins, leaving me alone for the weekend to hang out with myself and start working on my own things (and cleaning the fuck out of the house) in prep for the *next* week, in which I took a fuck-off vacation, just sitting around and playing video games and not touching anything resembling work. Trying to refill my well. It was less successful than I'd hoped, though the time off was nice; it didn't manage to hit the inspiration button. I *did* play a lot of Skyrim. Thumbs up to that.

And then mid last week, A. arrived for a week and a half long stay, and we went up to Muncie on Friday for a wedding which ended up being a mini Changeling folk reunion, and, oh, there it was. That's exactly what I needed-- comfortable, lovely family time with the people I live and breathe for. We played a raucous game of Cards Against Humanity Friday night, and after the wedding on Saturday, played mini-golf at 10 pm and got milkshakes.

I'm reading It, by Stephen King. One of the major themes of the book is the power of friendship, chosen family, and love, and how we are greater than out individual parts when we are connected to those people who are ours. Friday, listening to folks desecrate all good taste and laugh till we cried, I felt overwhelmed with that bittersweet power. I miss these folks so very much, and am so grateful of the time I get to spend with them. Staying in touch is *so* difficult, but I really want to do better. Y'all are my lifeblood.

A. is around for the rest of the week, and there will certainly be more fun times, and lots of writing dates, and I'm feeling up the challenge.

Recap

Jun. 11th, 2013 10:59 am
chantico: (Selfish)
What is work? We just don't know. Not when we are nauseous and headache-y, at least.

Thbbt.

Had an very nice weekend. Started the mural for Cathleen's (the babby name for Jen's incoming gal) nursery, which is largely a matter of experimentation, since I've never done a mural before, I don't use physical paint very much, and I definitely don't use house paint as a medium. It went well. I was able to figure out how to do a wash. Jen asked for the mural to depict each of the four elements, one to a wall, and to be fairy-tale/fantasy themed. One wall is sky and mountains, with some floating cities and eagle nests; that flows up into a great big volcano. I'm proud of this idea-- the volcano is painted over the closet doors. On the outside, there's a little lava and some cinder cones, but the main feature is a dwarf city, and when you open up the doors, the inside is all magma pools and a great big dragon sitting on its horde (which I'm going to decorate with rhinestones and glitter, of course). On the other side of the volcano is a forest, to be populated by unicorns, and then the ocean and its mermaids.

After this Saturday, there are mountains. This coming weekend I'm continuing, hoping to get done the Air wall and the Water wall, characters notwithstanding.

Sunday I put some work into my own house. Jason and I did a lot of projects-- I gave him the handyman stuff while I concentrated on some much needed organizational and artistic projects. I'm scanning all my old sketches that I've kept around, some of them from high school, so I can dump the physical copies that are taking up space. You cannot see the library floor for all the paper. At last, I put all the physical photos into albums, like our wedding cruise pictures and the parties afterward, then I tackled some of the mending, to less than spectacular effect. Jason fixed some house hardware that was loose or improperly installed, and then, glory of glories, we affixed the cabinet doors. Our kitchen automatically looks cleaner.

This blitz is prompted by my coming vacation, because I don't want to have *shit* looming over me while trying to relax at home.

And then yesterday was Jason's birthday; there was Meat Carnival and cake and people hanging out and a smidgen of Rock Band. I ended the night with a burgeoning headache that wouldn't go away and is still threatening, and some nausea. Booooo.

So today, I have done . . . squat. Nothing. My work queue has been utterly ignored, and I really should address that.

Don't wanna. I've got, like, senioritis, except it applies to the week before vacation.
chantico: (Dominant)
Kelly Turnbull on artistic Time Management

What say I?

Fucking word. And so many feels, in so many different directions. Prep rant: go.

Working professionally, one of the absolute truths I would pass on to people looking to do make art a career: do what you can with what time you have, and when the time is up, let it go. It might haunt you to see a piece you know is not your best go into the great beyond, but that's the price of an Art Career. We have all heard that Perfection Doesn't Exist, but when it's our babies, accepting that is nigh impossible. Our scribblings are our face to the world, especially online, and who doesn't want to present their best selves?


The problem, of course, is that hired work is *not* your baby. It is not the sum of your true artistic self; it is the face of your professional self. This thing you are creating, even if it is created with love, is not yours to obsess over-- it is your client's. What I'm putting into a piece isn't always my heart and soul, but it is *always* my integrity as a working artist, and sometimes, integrity and perfection do not line up. Part of being honest, professional, honorable and a good freelancer is doing all your business with respect: respecting the images and stories you're working on, respecting the client's wishes, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, respecting yourself. A lot of the time, what you are charging a client for *isn't actually the finished piece of art*. That is the product they desire, but it isn't what's justifies the fee-- that would be your time, your energy, and your skill. The moneymakers, the things that define your professional worth. Respecting that means charging appropriate rates for appropriate time spent, taking care of your health, and cultivating a healthy divide between the energy you are willing to put into other people's projects and your own. That DOESN'T mean producing consistently subpar stuff-- it means being able to estimate how long something will take you, and charge a commiserate amount, and sticking to it.

One of the biggest secrets of being a Working Artist is this: sometimes, people don't want the best, they want good enough.

Obviously, every industry is different. My freelance work is difference from my in-house work, and I don't do animation or videogames at this point, so the corporate culture there might be different. But here's what I do know:

With freelance, I give a client couple of estimates for what they're looking for. A full color illustration will always have a base price, and what I will produce for that will be competent work. That's the respecting the client part-- no matter what, I promise competency. But I don't promise magic for that base price. They want magic, they pay for magic-- by the hour, usually. And I cannot tell you how happy it makes people. No. Really. Like with little kids, boundaries make clients happier. Boundaries? Code for respect.

My in-house work can be *exhausting*. I'm salaried, so I'm paid the same no matter how much I put out, but you better believe I need to keep up with production times, and that can mean completing 11 illustration in a day. If I dedicated myself to making each and every one of those drawings perfect, I would *die*. Or, at least, my creative self would. Art is exhausting, yo! It's different when it's yours, but after the first few times, money is no substitution for inspiration. Chugging that shit out-- and chugging it out competently-- is an invaluable skill. I've seen artists *far* better than I in technical skill be turned away from the job because they can't hit that magic spot of Good Enough in the allotted time. Inspiration is great, because it fills you up while you work; for every iota of energy you put into the art, you get half an iota back (MATH, bitches). I love my job, and the joy of having it is certainly fulfilling, but it is hard work, and I am bone-tired when I come home. My mental well is dry.

And *that* is why it's so important not to give 110% all the time . . . if you don't have a sliver of mental wherewithal after your work, you will never produce anything for yourself-- and I will venture to say that without that time to play, stretch your artistic muscles, and focus on things that interest you, it will take a hell of a lot longer to get better at your craft. Learning takes energy too, remember. And while work might be good for some lessons, and often for rote practice, breaking out of the mold of other people's ideas is 100% necessary to level up. You ever wonder why most of the prolific fan artists out there are in college or high school, and most professional artists don't do a lot of fan art or trades or the like? It's because they have learned, or are still learning, how to apportion their creative energy, and a lot of the time that energy goes two places (with luck): client work and personal work. Fan work is a wonderful luxury, and exists in this weird liminal place when the play part can really, really help you grow, but you never develop the skills you need for original work.

Not everyone fits this mold, of course! I have MAD respect for people like Kelly and Brianne Drouhard and E.K. Weaver who rock the fuck out a career, side projects, fan work and their own fun. But what you're seeing there isn't easy-- it's the result of years learning how to respect themselves and their time, a practice, heh, rarely perfected.

When you bitch about perfection, the only thing you're saying is this: I am not a professional, and I don't know what it takes to be one.
chantico: (Pained)
Been underwater with work lately, hence no updating (nor anything else). We get these bottlenecks, where despite the best efforts of our coordinators, sometimes everything is due all at once, and late nights are the consequence. It's rare! I'm almost through, the last two huge, messy projects are due tomorrow, and then I am in the clear. The the terrible project is waiting for me at the end of the queue . . . lurking. Biding it's time.

Better now than next week, because in two weeks, I have a vacation coming up. It's s stay-home vay-cay, but man, I need the time off. Swanning around my homestead for a week sounds wonderful.

***

Had a long post on religion and spirituality but it needs a lot of refinement and thinking through, so I'm not there yet. But this is a good transition into meditation stuff-- tried a chakra meditation instead of the breath counting, which just . . . wasn't working with me. Chakra work, on the other hand, is one of the easiest things I can do, with powerful result. I understand it intuitively, and the effects are . . . well. I credit it with my nervous breakdown. That sounds a lot worse than it is. Let me rephrase: I credit it with helping pop the cork on my depression and anxiety. What came spilling out was not so much its fault.

Anyway, tried meditating, and, oof. Clogged up from head to toe. Not a one of them would open, and they all had gross colors and were shot through with nastiness, or were very weak, or twisted up. I have some unknotting to do, starting with what bad behaviors/habits are helping tangle them.

****

Sciatica constant, hateful. Compelled to stick long needles into my ass, hip, leg. No idea why. Stretches not helping. I need a massage.

PRACTIVE

May. 31st, 2013 10:58 am
chantico: (Crabby)
This stupid sciatica will not go away. Resisting the urge to slam my back/ass/leg against things just to disrupt the constant, low grade discomfort that never changes. Go away. GO AWAY. SCREEEEEECH.

Went through my novel outline (what I have) and tweaked a lot of the events so that Delilah (and really, everyone) is more proactive. I fall *so* easily into the observer role when writing or gaming, my characters have a huge problem with being lurkers and reactors. I like playing with Delilah's evolution into a more proactive person, because she does start off as a passive individual, but it's a fine line to write. There's gotta be enough spunk in her that people actually *like* her and will stick with the first few chapters as she begins to take a more active role. Chapter 3 is where she makes her first real choice, so up until then, empathy is my key. She's possessed by something that takes her physical agency away from her at any stressful moment-- making internal choices is pretty much all she has at first.

And Dane shouldn't be a reactive character at all; neither should Winston. Arthur, funnily enough, is the most passive out of the group due to his meticulous, watchful nature. I can't wait to dig into this subject again when his stuff finally comes up, being that it echoes this same issue. When you've embraced the role of the Observer so thoroughly that the world starts to forget you exist, what can you do to make it remember you?

Bok booook books book

****

I'm having bouts of anxiety before I go to sleep every single night, and I don't know why.
chantico: (Fed Up)
I do. Not. Want to work. No. NO. I hate it, NO.

Uggggghhhh there is one of *those* projects blocking me from getting anything else done. This is the dude who wants 25 realistic illustrations in incredible detail, but insists that I must follow his stick-figure layouts-- which are in landscape format. For 6x9 illustrations. He had seven rounds of revisions on one picture because I wasn't drawing a stream of vomit correctly. He makes things up to change four revisions in. He can't communicate at all and gets really angry when you don't understand what he means.

BLEH.

I think we would have dropped him at this point but he's a VIP (i.e paid lots of money) so there is no escape.

I will suck it up and get it done because I am a professional but masjdbnkhasbdjkb. WORDS DO NOT SUFFICE.

Plus my back is doing worse today. It is a cranky day.
chantico: (Keen)
Got moving early this morning with surprisingly little difficulty, and a lovely morning it is. Perfect crisp, cool air. If it holds out I'm going to do a little more lawn care this evening, hopefully getting a little lesson in how to use the wee whacker and taking it to all the creeping borders. I have poison ivy popping back up, too, and I'm not really sure how to deal with that other than getting some heavy duty gloves and yanking it right out of the ground. Zero desire to use pesticides on it. Maybe I'll even *tackle the back room* (gasp).

No I totally won't there could be spiders and Avery don't play that shit.

Porn drawing going very well, WIP's well accepted. Excited to get it done. Addicted to drawing it. More definitely in my future.

Trying to do daily meditation but I am not having luck with it. I think the problem isn't the practice but the particular meditation I'm trying, with breath counting to ten and then starting again, do that for ten minutes. It's *too* relaxed, and I universally end up falling asleep. An awareness meditation might work better, or a finger tapping one; something that isn't entirely internal. Anyone have any ideas? Because I'm not a fan of nodding off in the middle of my practice and being super sleepy for the rest of the evening.

Oh, happy/content, you mean that my mind isn't spinning with too many thinky bits, so finding something to write about is hard!

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