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.

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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.





It was a date, remember?

So on yesterday’s blog, I showed some pictures of a space painting I’d been working on in 2018 and thought I had done.

But then, as any good tale would have, conflict struck.

I painted another picture that made it look like garbage. Well, what’s an artist supposed to do?

I’d say that the correct answer is not to pull is back up on the easel and keep working on it, but I know that’s exactly what a lot of painters do. But I do understand the need to let something hang for a bit so you can look at it just to let your mind mull it over.

So let’s talk about this painting.

I started this painting the same night that I started the other two paintings, but I was way too embarrassed to show it. I honestly thought I’d be painting over it. I mean, what do you do when you have a mess like this to start off with? So I let it sit with some creative procrastination for a while. I figured if I didn’t look at it, I wouldn’t think about how badly I would feel at having to paint it over because it was a horrible start. However, I had some ideas I wanted to experiment with, so I decided I’d play and see what happened. I figured it was only a 8″x10″ flat panel canvas, so who cared if I messed it up so badly that I ended up breaking it in half over my knee like a ninja master? If nothing else, I would learn something.

But I sure as heck wouldn’t advertise my intent to fail.

Nope.

I took a picture for me to document my learning process and didn’t show it to anyone.

Then, on January 1st, I decided it was time to pull out the painting and play with it. How better to get a start at painting for the new year than to learn if I could or couldn’t pull this painting out of the fire.

This was the next layer. Honestly, by now I was a little wowed by the hole thing. It was so simple, and yet so pretty. Just brushstrokes.

Look at the depth now starting to come into this piece. There was a part of me that wanted to stop right here.

But, I’m a fool and I pressed on.

Here it is finished:

Yes, there are parts of this I wish I’d been able to express some self-control on, but I do wish the picture did it justice too. I’m happy with the lessons it taught me and and that I managed to save a painting I wasn’t sure would work out.

So, for hoots and giggles, let’s look at the “finished” painting from yesterday compared to this on:

I hope you see what I mean when I said it nearly made me want to cry. The “finished” painting seemed so clumsy and blockish compared to the smooth grace of the new one.

Now let’s see them both together after that 1st one had the reworking:

What a dramatic improvement, don’t you think?

I wonder what will get cooked up this weekend on my easel. Just after I continue working on my edits for Tangled Magic.

I think I’m finally done!

I’m done. This time, I mean it. I swear. Done!

Okay, remember this painting I showed you about a month ago or so?

I’ve been working away at it slowly. I worked really hard on it last weekend because I wanted to have it done in 2018.

Here’s a couple pictures of it in progress:

I even said I was done on my progress blog because I really thought I was done. Here’s a picture of it “completed.”

Not a bad little picture, right? I was so happy with it. Yea, a nice little space galaxy. *insert happy smiling face here*

NOT!

Two days ago, I painted a picture that blew this one out of the water.

Ka-BOOM!

I picked this picture up last night and nearly started to cry. It looked so bad, horrible, blah! Especially when compared to the other one.

So I wasn’t done. I knew I could do better. Back on the easel it went. Awhile later, here was the result:

I dare not say that I’m done yet. Who knows what tomorrow will bring,

Now, aren’t you excited to see the picture that inspired this one? Yeah, I think you’ll be just as amazed on that as me. How about I show you tomorrow? Great! It’s a date.

Progress – 2018 official

Last year I gave a report for the 2017. I thought I’d do the same this year, just to wrap things up, even though I feel (as I’m writing this sentence) that it won’t be nearly as impressive as last year’s post. I did a lot in 2017, considering it wasn’t a very good year personally with my dad passing away. I’m sure that bleed into 2018, but maybe as I look back, I will find something to surprise me. So, let’s reflect now on 2018.

I’m running this a bit late so that I could get in all my numbers for the 31st. I wanted the year full and complete. I was going to add that I usually write during the turning of the clock to the new year, because I was told many years ago that you should be doing what you want to come in the new year at the striking of 12. Because of that, there might be a few words that I’ll transition into 2019, but actually I probably should be editing. 2019 needs to be the year of reviewing what I’ve already written. I have a lot of work to do there. So, let’s move on.

Let’s start off by talking about the numbers for the last full week of 2018.

Words written in the last week of December: 6,668 words of both fiction and non-fiction. Sorry, I forgot to write these down the breakdown before I set the sheet up for this week, so that’s all I’ve got.

Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written:  1,354 words today, because today all I’ve been doing is writing blogs. No fiction for you today!

Writing month to date total:  28,761 words

Drawing/painting last week: I continued working on those dang space paintings which I keep swearing I’m done with. I started playing with some acrylic fluid medium and am really enjoying how it enhances the depth of them. We’ll see how it looks when they dry. I really wanted to finish them in 2018 since that’s when most of the painting was done. I’m hoping I’m there. I also have been repairing the canvas of my lotus painting. It’s almost done. I’m thrilled because I’m not even done and the scar has nearly vanished. Pictures coming; I’ve been documenting the process.

Audio: I spent 6.6 hours last week recording and editing audio and just over 2.6 hours today. I did manage to get Fall’s Confession uploaded, so even though it won’t come out until 2019, it’s a 2018 complete. Check that box off! I have started recording the voices for Manifest the Magic and I’m ready to get started on editing the first couple of chapters.

So how did the year turn out overall?

Let me start by saying that it’s been another not fun year. In fact, I kept trying to hire an assassin to kill 2018 in its infancy. Toward the end of the year I was commenting on how fast it was going and my son replied with a comment akin to, “Well, Mom, you kept saying that you wanted to throw 2018 back and the universe knew that it couldn’t do that, so it just fast-forwarded the year for you.”

Timey-whimy, whibbly-wobbly. That’ll teach mean to wish the years away!

Of course, it certainly didn’t help matters when my websites were hijacked by the hosting provider who refused to give them back. Fortunately I still had access to my dashboard, which allowed me to at least buy new domains and redirect my websites with forwarding. But because I wasn’t sure I’d get my websites back and that my forwards would one day stop working when the websites were taken offline, I had to go back through my books and get everything pointed toward the new websites, which also had to be built on a different platform away from my original host. I had to set up new email accounts and get all my accounts all over the Internet as well as newsletters I wanted to make sure I continued to get. Honestly, I got quite a bit of all that done, but not all. I made phone calls to the registrar of the domain and to ICANN, all who had their hands tied because of the privacy settings on my domains so my name wasn’t associated with them. I wrote letters, sending them certified. I went looking for an attorney to start suing to get my domains back.

Then one late night in October, I decided to do another Google search on the company and found a post from a guy who was experiencing exactly the same thing with the hosting company, but he reported that he’s called the registrar and after about 10 minutes on the phone, got his domains back under his control. Needless to say, the very next morning, I call the registrar, found out they were authorized to return the domains to those who could provide the invoice for the domain purchase, and, well, it wasn’t 10 minutes but maybe more like half an hour, I had my domains back.

I swear that was the first thing in 2018 that went right. That same week other things started falling into place. I think I had finally turned around the series of unfortunate events that had started in 2017.

Lesson: DON’T EVER LET SOMEONE ELSE CONTROL YOUR DNS RECORDS!

Now I fully understand why I had to become an indie author/publisher. I had to have control of my copyright — the publishing industry is rampant with intellectual property thieves. Whether it’s your domain name or your copyright, it’s your intellectual property and it can be taken from you if you don’t keep control of it. Don’t ever think a contract is going to keep you safe, especially if you go with the one that is offered; it’s not written for your benefit. I learned that when I was fighting for my domains and really dug into the contracts I had with the hosting company. I had literally tied my own hands. Only because of the hosting company’s non-response did I have any leg to stand on. Literary agent and publishing contracts are not for your benefit; they are for the agent or publishing house. Let that be your final warning.

Because of this whole fiasco, I initially bought 4 extra domains, not including the .net versions of my domains so that could move everything over. Three of those domains are something I had been thinking about for a couple of years, but I hadn’t taken action. I still didn’t get to do anything with them because of the time needed for rebuilding and relinking everything. But I hope that in the next year, I can do something with them.

I currently have 10 domains. My previous webhost lost out.

And the DNS records are under my control!

Sorry, that was kind of long winded, but it took a lot of my time and energy, which meant things didn’t get done. When I’m writing and sending emails or certified letters (for which I don’t get to take the word count on!), rebuilding websites on a new platform so I could establish redirect links, or I’m having to update the web addresses in my books and republish, new words aren’t getting written and the words that have been written aren’t getting reviewed.

I knew it was having an impact on my writing and art, but until I wrote these words, I don’t think I had really considered how damaging that loss of time was. No wonder I lost my daily word counts for a while and why I couldn’t even manage to get the weekly counts in. In looking back at the data of my spreadsheet, I see that my days started to fail when I first discovered that my websites were having issues and I wrote my initial demand for the sites to be unlocked and transferred. Then, things really crashed as I scrambled to build new sites. My word counts once again pick up once I had the websites and redirects in place.

Seeing the devastation in the numbers, it’s amazing I managed to hit my yearly word goal. And it’s little wonder that my drawing and painting took a side seat.

That reflection was probably good for me. It tells me that I can get back on track all around.

Let’s see what happened.

Writing year to date total: 338,586 words. This is pretty close to what I achieved last year. So even though I had lowered my daily word count, I still hit over my 300,000 goal. I have more on this below in my reflection and goal area.

My best month was January at 36,294 words. My most productive days were Sundays, followed by Saturday. Third most productive days were Wednesday.

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Progress – December 24, 2018

Where did the year go? I swear I saw it around here somewhere?

Christmas eve day and thank you for deciding to spend a moment with me.

At least I’ve felt productive this week. Audio work as been going well and words have gotten done. I’m almost done with the audio for Fall’s Confession and have started on Manifest the Magic. Hopefully this week I’ll be uploading the audio for Fall’s Confession. It would be great to have one more audiobook done by the end of the year.

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