Phoenix nebula

So I thought I was going to have a book cover reveal this week. Yep, that’s not happening, Life has blown this week out of the water. I’m counting myself fortunate enough to be doing this post, thought it’ll probably be short unless I find myself with something suddenly to say or rattling on like this sentence is. Yeah, I go off like that sometimes. *grin*

I thought I’d show you one of the paintings I finished last week. I do wish I had more work in progress pictures of it, but I wasn’t certain about this painting. It probably really hit rock bottom when I had just started it and my youngest son walked by and said, “So, Mom, what’s up with the eclipse and the alligator.”

Eclipse and alligator? Well he wasn’t wrong. Here’s sort of what he was seeing:

You see the “eclipse” at the top of the painting and the alligator at the bottom left. I do believe this is actually after he had made his comment and I had started a second coat, getting rid of the alligator’s open jaws so much. You can still see the two parts sticking out that originally made it’s mouth. Yep, can’t get much worse from there.

I wish I’d remembered to take a picture of the first layer when I started, but I really did feel like I’d messed it up right from the get-go. Then the eclipse and alligator really made me question it. But I had this burr that I really wanted to work with, to try this, to see what would happen. So I continued. That’s when I ended up with the picture above, and then this.

This is after a few more layers and some stars added. I was tempted to go with the angel look here, but I decided to hold to the idea I really wanted.

More layers, added so black back to it, and more stars. This is the finished piece.

I really want to do this, or something like this, on a larger canvas. I am having so much fun with these space nebulae. I’m learning something new with each one. It’s definitely been an interesting journey. I never thought I’d be creating these as beautiful as they are. My first attempts at nebulae were so awful. I’m glad the urge to continue attempting to paint these never abandoned me.

Onward! Let us continue our explorations!

Advertisements

Progress – January 28, 2019

There are some weeks when I am just tired. Last week was one of them.

In trying to reboot my painting, I have several decisions to make. That lead me, of course, to research to find tools that will help me and that, obviously, leads me to testing several different tools to see which one(s) I like.

What frustrates me is that I had a tool I liked. It had years of data in it. I did want to clean it up some, maybe divide the database. But because of changes in technology, the program doesn’t work quite right any more. The company that developed it still has a website that for the last two years has asked for patience while they update their systems — they want to move to a cloud platform. However, I’m not sure they are serious about that any longer. I have exported the artwork data from the program, but it’s not easy to import without a lot of cleanup, mapping fields, and making it fit a new program.

With that experience, I don’t want to start something else that could potentially disappear or become obsolete. Which makes me think about paper files — good until a fire, or flood, etc.

So, it makes me leery to pull the trigger on anything. I don’t want something I will just end up rebuilding in seven to ten years. I realize that technology changes and that we have to have forward movement, but it seems like everything always needs constant updating and when a business no longer wishes to continue, they just close up. No one wants to build for a legacy, only for the current moment (and dollar, though I’ve read that the average lifespan of a solid business is about 30 years). It makes me tired.

Continue reading

Nebula on a hexagon

My six-sided painting. I was pretty excited to find this canvas. I knew immediately that I wanted to do a space painting on this. Once I felt ready, I painted the canvas black. The picture above shows it all prepared and ready.

My first layer:

It’s hard not to block a painting in like this and not absolutely hate it and fear that it’s been messed up. But, the painting must continue.

Here’s the next layer:

Now we’re getting some of the misty cloudiness into the piece.

In the next layer, the stars start to shine:

More layers come next, more stars, and adding some of the black of space back in. Finally we end up with this:

There was a point at which I really messed everything up. I didn’t grab my phone to take a picture though; I knew my paint was drying quickly. That probably returned the fun to this painting. I’d started to take it too seriously and quit having fun with it. In causing a catastrophe on the canvas and knowing I had little time to fix it, I had to attack it with courage and release everything. Believe me, at the time I really wasn’t sure I’d be saving it. It was extremely hard to release the fear. Words make it sound so easy, but at the time it was horrible. I instantly projected myself into the future where I had to paint the canvas black once more to restart and regretted the past where I wished I hadn’t touched it so much. I was everywhere but the present.

Grounding yourself with courage puts you firmly in the moment. There’s an obstacle that must be overcome and only by stepping forward can this obstacle be hurdled.

This painting could have easily gone the other way where I did have to go through the future of repainting it that I had imagined. However, I’m glad I kept working it and gave myself the chance.

As my friend, J.D. Estrada, said a few days ago on an Instagram post, “Self doubt is an option, but so is believing in yourself.”

This weekend, believe in yourself.

Happy adventuring!

When things get torn…

After my last show of 2018, my son was helping me pack up the car. He was carrying 2 paintings out when he slipped on a patch of ice. In catching himself, he dropped both paintings. He, fortunately, didn’t hit the cement or hurt himself. But when he reached down to pick the paintings up, he saw that one of the paintings had gone through the other.

“Please be the waterfall,” he thought to himself. “PLEASE be the waterfall!” He knew that of the two, I would be less angry about the waterfall painting getting destroyed rather than the lotus painting.

It was the lotus painting.

He told me when we got home and we were unpacking the important things that couldn’t stay out in the cold and snow,. I could tell he felt badly about it; this wasn’t the first painting he’d put a hole in. I’m sure it won’t be the last. (Okay, the boy has even put a hole in my trailer wall — why he has to break everything, I don’t know!) Yes, actually, I do: he’s a boy. *grin*

The tear in the canvas was a clean 90 degree square. It wasn’t huge. It could have been worse. I figured this would repair fairly easily.

It took more patience than I thought it would.

I took a piece of muslin and some gesso, covering the back side of the canvas around the hole, and pressed it flat. Gesso squeezed up between the tear. I then covered the patch on the back with gesso, making it nice, smooth, and strong.

This is a picture of the gesso coming through the tear to the front.

In retrospect, I should have filled in the whole crack while it was wet. I think it would have been easier to fix the scar if I had. But, I didn’t know. I’ve only repaired one other canvas before so I felt I was still working on bare minimum knowledge in practice. I had learned a lot from that first painting and I knew I’d learn even more with this one. That I should have filled and leveled the whole thing then is valuable information I will take to the next tear should (when) this happen(s) again.

This was my first attempt at covering it up. I started out with some blue, then brought in some white. Like I said, I didn’t have a whole lot of patience and I thought this would be a fairly easy process at this point. As I layered up paint, I saw that I was going to have to do this in layers and it might require some light sanding in between coats.

Here’s what it looked like when I really started filling in the scar.

It seemed like I spent a lot of time alternating blue and white. It took a lot of coats to fill in the scar. Yes, I did some sanding too, very carefully around the edges. I didn’t want to take paint off of the scar where I was trying to fill in, only on the canvas so that it would retain some of the tooth.

I started thinking that I might want some pictures of the canvas that weren’t closeups. So here’s the picture from above as it is on the canvas. It looks big here, but this shot isn’t the whole painting.

Finally I start to get a good fill on the tear. It’s still visible, but just barely.

And here’s what the canvas looks like at this point:

Can you even see it? The second lotus petal from the bottom points right at it. Great, I’ll never lose the tear again now that’ I’ve noticed that!

Still building up layers:

At this point, I’m also bringing more clouds in around the vines at the bottom. They always bugged me with how they seemed to stick out. It looked like a lotus blossom superimposed over clouds, rather that actually being part of the sky. This is me fixing that because at this point, what do I have to lose?

Repair done:

Well, at least as far done as I have pictures for. I did add another couple of touch-ups last weekend while I was painting, a few highlights here and there.

If you look closely at this painting from the side, or get up close to the canvas where the tear it, you can still traces of it. I don’t think it would ever completely go away. Besides, the big white spot on the back is a sign that something catastrophic happened. Overall, I think I did a good job repairing this canvas. It’ll continue going with me to art shows until someone decides that they want it hanging on their wall.

Sometimes, you just have to heal the best you can and move on with your life. You can’t always hide all the scars perfectly.

Thoughts on Secret Thoughts

Let me begin by saying that I don’t suffer from impostor syndrome. Absolutely not. No way.

At least not until the moment I step up to the canvas and begin painting. Then, all bets are off.

For the last couple of years I have been asking myself just what is wrong with me. I have all the confidence in the world when I’m writing, and heck, even when I’m narrating. But I would just turn myself inside out when I thought about drawing or painting. It use to not be that way. Call it “beginner’s luck” or whatever, but I started off feeling successful with my newly discovered art skill, but as the years went by, I felt more and more like a fake, a fraud, and a hack — a full-blown impostor. It ground me to a halt. No matter how many times people told me that my art was beautiful (and I only believe about 50% of the people that tell me that), I didn’t believe anyone. This reaction made no sense to me.

I, like everyone else, don’t like to be judged or criticized. I know this is part of it, but I realize that there’s a certain amount of exposure that comes with creativity. I’m all right with it in my writing. But my art… it just feels different. I don’t even think I can explain it.

I have no schooling in art, writing, audio engineering, or acting. Oh, I’ve taken a class here or there, gone to a few conferences, read lots of books, and bloody well jumped in and started doing the work figuring out what I need to know as I go along. I have no fear; I know I can learn anything I need to know. I’ve even taken painting classes with Jerry Yarnell. But for some unknown reason, not being school in art, art history, color theory, etc., really bugs me. I have taught myself about artists I’m interested in and can identify their work on sight. I may not know everything about them or their work, or even their creation process, but I can say that about many writers too. Why do I not feel worthy of being an artist? If it’s just a matter that I haven’t put in as many hours as I have for my writing, why can’t I drag myself to do more, to practice?

I realized toward the end of last year that I really needed to work on this, especially if I was going to get back to painting this year. So, I focused on some articles and books for writers about overcoming self-doubt.

There’s still a part of me that venomously hates that word, especially in reference to me: self-doubt.

Now that I’ve spat the awful taste off my tongue, my search took me down some very strange places, places I really didn’t feel I belonged. At least not when I took it from a writer’s point of view. I got into things about intelligence and creativity, multiple talents, creative anxiety, etc. I’m still working my way through some of it. But, in my search and while I was looking for my next audiobook to listen to while I walked, I came across The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Valerie Young.

While this book is geared toward women, it also addresses men and the impostor syndrome. It is not slanted to creative types — Valerie Young works more with students, professors, and professionals. I have many people in my life who I really think would benefit from listening to this book.

It was very hard for me to listen too. I kept thinking, “This does not apply to me!” I suspect this is what many women I know would say if I suggested it to them. I kept having to round myself back and remember that I was not needing this for where I was confident, but where I was weak, where I did feel like an impostor in my own life. In trying to stay focused on this and knowing that I was seeing where I felt other people needed to know about this book, I realized that deep inside, many women felt small and insignificant. I kept thinking about all the quotes that speak to the fact that if you feel fear about something, that is the direction you should be heading in.

I have long known exactly where my own feelings of inadequacy came from. So when Valerie describes coming to understand your Crusher, the thing that gave root to the impostor syndrome in your life, I already knew mine. I could feel it.

Now for me, because of how my life has gone, I could see oh so clearly how I overcame this Crusher, which could have stopped me from telling stories, and gave me the confidence that my writing has today. It was sheer, dogged persistence that I could reject my Crusher in regards to writing. But art was always so different. It was clear to see how that became my impostor path.

I didn’t agree with the whole book or the exercises to help, but how much of that was coming from the extreme self-directed part of me I don’t know. I did bookmark a few questions and places that I thought would be helpful if I started feeling like a fraud again. I really do want to conquer this irrational side of myself. It’s holding me back from achieving my goals.

Are you being held back because you feel unworthy or because you feel like an impostor who is waiting for someone to find you out? If so, this book might be worth your read.

Progress – January 7, 2019

I’ve spent the day working on a story called Alexander’s Den. I wrote the story a couple years ago and it spent all year in submission with a magazine I was hoping would publish it. The story was apparently very close, but not quite. They were kind enough to give me a few comments on it, so I’ve been looking at the story again in light of their comments. What I found was a whole bigger problem. I had actually fractured the story in many different directions, which makes their comments make sense. So I’m trying to cut away everything that isn’t part of the story.

My son also took me to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse today. What a brilliant use of the hero’s journey. They use so many elements and mix things up very well. Bravo!

Other than that, I’ve been trying to get words in and do some painting. I showed some paintings here last week. I did also work on more planning for 2019, built some spreadsheets, tinkered with the one that I use to log my production and time on, and set up other things to help me keep track of progress. Oh, and I worked on website items, including one for my audiobooks. That one isn’t anywhere near completed yet, so I can’t show it to you yet. Soon, hopefully.

Speaking of audiobooks, I’m throwing out all that I’ve recorded on Manifest the Magic. I bought a channel strip which, once it’s in, I need to add to my setup. I’m hoping it improves the mixed results I’m getting. I’m just not happy with what I’m getting because every now and then I get these metallic sounding artifacts. It’s kind of frustrating. Anyway, I hope this helps. My next option is to get a new microphone. Baby steps. Anyway, I thought that when I get the channel strip in and set up, I might try recording Oxygen just to see how it sounds. That should be short and fast. Then I can get back to Manifest the Magic.

Well now, let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

Fiction words written last week:  2,952 words.

Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written:  3,116 words.

Daily word goal reached for 149 days! Weekly word goal reached for 24 weeks.

Writing month to date total:  4,714 words

Writing year to date total: 4,714 words

Drawing/painting last week: Completed 2 paintings last week for a total of 34 linear inches. Also finished repairing the canvas for “In Living Color,” my lotus in the clouds painting.

Audio: I spent almost 4 hours recording and editing audio, all of which I’m probably pitching out. I might be able to salvage the voices — we shall see.