endings, beginnings, and such

 It liiives!

This blog, I mean, as well as my art-making. It's been going well, I guess. I had two gallery shows in the past two months, and have contacted another one regarding showing (haven't heard back, though). I've been working on two new paintings and am probably going to set up for a third, which will be nice and bloody. Yay!

In the meantime, have the first and second installments of a small illustrated story I've been working on. I'm calling it The End or the Beginning, because that's what it's about. 

See, I don't normally use art as a means to directly express things going on in my personal life. My personal life affects my art, of course, but I'm not usually prone to illustrating it literally. This series, however, is close to doing that. Obviously it's not literal literal (I don't know people who habitually wear burlap sacks on their heads), but this series is about something I went through over the summer, which was both an ending and a beginning for me. It also corresponds to some writing I did about that issue, and some of these images are direct illustrations of those writings. 

Again, I don't make comics, and this is probably the closest I can comfortably get to making something akin to a comic (Duck vs. Cactus notwithstanding). On a technical note, I'd like to bind these, but they're all on separate pieces of paper, and I'll have to finagle something.

meme time

I have sort of a love-hate relationship with the Twilight series. I hate it because it's a trite, poorly-concieved and poorly-written piece of trash that features creepy values like stalking and bizarre, repressed sexualities, and makes people like its author think that vomiting words on a page is writing. But on the other hand, I love it because it's so easy and entertaining to make fun of. When I make fun of Twilight, I feel a sense of malicious glee, combined with a slight feeling of guilt, like I'm making fun of someone who just can't defend themselves.

But malicious glee is more fun, so here is a meme I filled out. I stole it from someone on deviantART. Since I don't have digital art skillz, I simply printed it out and drew it by hand. The photo quality is terrible because my camera is (once again) broken and so I had to take these on my iPod. So this project was really just a study in ghetto-fabulous improvisation.

But it was fun to do, and I enjoyed drawing my mom summoning the Kraken, as well as Boyfriend ripping out sparkly-vampire-boy's throat.

Sometimes you just need some dumbness.

Note: It might be better to look at these on my dA account, because you can zoom in and actually read the words. Because you totally want to.

tales from the sketchpad, part 2

Last time I featured some images from my sketchpad, in which I have been doing pen drawings.

I've also talked at length about my writing, and how it intersects (or rather, how it doesn't usually intersect) with my art, and how I like to keep them separate. Both my art and my writing tell stories, but in vastly different ways. The art is a single image, and usually speaks to a more nebulous emotional space that is difficult to put into words. The writing, on the other hand, usually expresses a more intellectual or cerebral idea that translates well into words. They don't mix.

But, as with all things, there are exceptions. I find, sometimes, that drawing little portraits of my characters can be helpful (somehow) and so here are two of them. This is Annemarie and Isaiah. They will kill you. Like seriously. They'll kill you.

That's the other major difference between my writing and art--my writing's a lot more violent.

I don't feel like talking about the story they inhabit too much, but it's full of murder and mayhem (more murder than mayhem, though), and currently weighs in at 80 pages on MS Word--single-space 10-point font. And it's not done. But I like how it's going, and there are certainly scenes that scare even me. Fun times!

a comic phenomenon

It happened.

I made a cartoon.

A real cartoon with panels and speech bubbles and everything. (Click to make it readable.)

It's only a page long, because that's all the cartoon-making I can stomach. Seriously. I hate making comics and cartoons. Hate it. It's tedious and dull and completely unfulfilling. I like to write and I like to make images, but I don't like to do both at the same time.

Part of the reason was that was I was younger, I was somewhat pigeonholed into being someone who made cartoons exclusively. To the point that people seemed to get annoyed when I expressed interest in doing any other forms of art. You know, because to admit anything other than entirely predictable behavior is hard for some high-schoolers. In fact, I've been told by one particularly silly human being that I "should really stick to cartoons." Needless to say, I didn't take this brilliant advice. It should be also mentioned that this person was not a terribly good artist and was troubled by the fact that anyone might be better than she. It should also be said that this person asked the school librarian what anal beads were.

But there are times when I feel the need to cartoon. It's good, cheap, dirty fun. It's like smoking cigarettes or doing Jell-O shots or making out with strangers. It's not good for you in any way, and you'll feel cheapened afterward, but damn if it isn't fun.

Enter Duck Vs. Cactus.

Duck Vs. Cactus was born on a dark night in a diner while waiting for a spinach-and-American-cheese omelet. There are 5 in total (I think) and they're all scribbled on the backs of placemats. It tells the (roughly put together, non-sequitur, surreal) narrative of the conflict between drug-using criminal lowlife Duck and shady, two-timing Cactus. On Duck's trail are cops Octopus and Triangle (Cactus is revealed in one episode to be on the police force while simultaneously being a strong presence in the underworld). Other episodes feature Duck's girlfriend, who is kind of a cross between a bird and a bowling pin, a gang of violent drug-running Goldfish crackers, and Wendy Williams. It all takes place in a desert. Duck has died several times and it doesn't really matter.

This is Duck Vs. Cactus #4, the shortest one. Because it's so short, I was able to clean it up and render it in ink pen and Sharpie on Bristol plate. It's tentatively titled "You Might Be Trippin' Balls." Because, well, that might be what's happening. This should probably have a continuation of sorts, but I haven't been to a diner in a long time and these only really manifest in diners.

I suppose this can actually tie in with my fascination with corrupt and decaying Americana. But this is less nostalgic and less informed by 19th and early 20th century images, and is more snarky and post-modern.

Or maybe I'm just trippin' balls.

people i hate, first edition

I have these days where I figure I must be a sociopath of some sort, and my hatred for my fellow human burns bright and merry in my heartless interior. Excuse the lofty monologue, I'm watching a special on the Civil War and they all talk like that and it's rubbing off on me.

But seriously, I do hate people.

There are particular traits in people that I find unbearable. To make them more bearable, and to lash out in a wonderfully passive-aggressive way, I made these. They're little info cards of people I hate, complete with vital statistics so others can learn to avoid these horrible specimens of sub-humanity. They aren't terribly well done, having been created in a fit of misanthropic rage, and yes, these are based on real people that I actually know.

First is The Merry Foole
Habitat: The Merry Foole is, unfortunately, at home everywhere, but he prefers folk music festivals and Renaissance Faires
Can Be Seen With: Large-brimmed hat decorated with feather, outdated musical instrument played with rudimentary skill, patchwork everything, dubious facial hair
Diet: Berries and nuts and a good draught of hearty ale
Musical Taste: Faux-medieval caterwauling
Fancies Himself: Terribly clever, mischievous, brilliantly unconventional, irresistible to the fairer sex, possessed of captivating musical skill
Is Actually: Fairly predictable, affected, socially awkward, dull, pretentious
Can Be Found In The Company Of: Fat girls in corsets who titter at his limericks
Activities: singing, rhyming, prancing, invading space
Wishes: It were the year 1125 (factual historical knowledge is not his strong point), to score with all the damsels
Doesn't Understand: Sarcasm
Role Models: Every "Foole" character in every Shakespeare play

Then we have The Furry Sidekick. I hate this person a lot, lot more. This person, in real life, is 24 goddamn years old. Seriously.
Habitat: Childrens' musicals, near a TV when Dragon Tales is on, holed up in a bedroom reading manga
Can Be Seen With: Overalls, striped socks, furry animal ears/tails, perpetually insipid facial expression
Diet: Ramen, candy, Ramune soda
Musical Taste: anime intro songs, show tunes, J-Pop
Fancies Herself: Adorable, impossible to dislike, necessary, a cartoon character, is full of childlike wonder
Is Actually: Nauseating, shrill, age-inappropriate, extremely annoying, usually harboring some deep-seated psychological issues
Can Be Found In The Company Of: Anyone who will give her attention, or hopping around the perimeter of a group looking for said attention
Activities: Squealing, meowing, chirping, making fan-art and -fiction, trying hard to ignore the scarier aspects of adulthood
Wishes: Her ears and tail were real, that she could be 5 forever, to find a hot cartoon guy of her very own, that she didn't have to think about being an adult
Doesn't Understand: Why people don't want to be around her, what is and is not age appropriate, the scary dark grown-up feelings deep down inside
Role Models: Pikachu, and every furry sidekick in every anime ever produced

So I was a real dick and posted these to deviantART, which will, if they ever see it, offend all the chirpy high school girls who pine over Sebastien Michaelis (not the real one--he was a dick), and wear kitty ears. But they need to know. They need to know it's not acceptable past the age of sixteen. Real Furry Sidekick is a friend of friends, so I have to be all tactful when in their company. This is how it comes out. I've clearly got aggression issues.

But that's okay. At least I don't meow in public.

the story format, or, why no, i don't make graphic novels but thanks for the suggestion.

I mentioned in an earlier post graphic novels/comics and I are not friends. We just aren't. Despite this fact, many people have told me that, since I like to make art and I like to write, that I should make graphic novels. My answer: No. This answer is usually followed by whining by the other person about how I should, and how they're so cool and lucrative, and how I should try because they would TOTALLY read it. My answer: No.

For one thing, I can never successfully write and draw/paint at the same time. I've been on an art-making kick for over a year, which means I haven't done any passable writing in all that time. (I should note that by "writing" I am referring to fiction. My writing form is novel-length fiction. Blogging and nonfiction writing I can always do, and I'm not counting it in this discussion.) To me, they are both forms of storytelling, but through different media, and it's hard for me to combine the two in a successful way.

I've also said before that I don't like using text with images. Illustration is one thing, but I don't like text actually in the image. Sometimes it works, but, like paint drips, it usually ends up looking rather stupid and forced when used in a serious way. Things like editorial cartoons are something else entirely. The top image is the only piece I've ever done where the text doesn't offend me. It's part of a larger body of images, none as successful as this one. It's watercolor and pen on paper, 9 X 12 inches.

However, I also really like art books and bookmaking. I only have one semi-completed book to date, which is bound but not filled in with pictures all the way. I've been painting pages for another small book, in the "medieval" style, inspired by medieval gospel books. It kind of tells a story but since it has no words it's very open to interpretation when it comes to what exactly happens in that story (spoiler: there are sexytimes). This interpretive narrative is the one that comes most naturally to me when working within the format of storytelling. The pages seen here are the first (center) and fourth (bottom) pages of the eight-page book, the only ones that are totally complete. They are about 4.5 X 6 inches, and are ink, watercolor and gouache on paper. And it's a dude. I'm also planning a fancy, possibly gilt cover it. Of course, mine will be bookboard and gold leaf (if I feel like buying it) and not gems and ivory.

I do, however, like reading graphic novels (the good ones, anyway), and I can recommend the following: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto, Kimmie66 by Aaron Alexovich (which was part of the now-defunct and totally awesome Minx imprint of DC), and American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. These are all people who can do comics and do them extremely well. I am not one of them.

in which we are introduced to the tumblies, look at some more watercolor samples, and explore narratives

It was a windy day in New Paltz, New York, and I was wearing a muumuu. It's a rather nice muumuu, vintage Hawaiian, bright red, that I bought for $45 from a lovely lady named Shabbat who plays guitar and sells homemade and vintage clothes. Anyway, it was a windy day and we all know nothing picks up wind quite as well as a muumuu. And thus the Tumblies were born. There's really very little concept behind the Tumblies outside of cuteness--they're small, lightweight girls in large dresses who drift through the air in a variety of themes. They're very straightforward, universally accessible. My mother tells me I should market them to Hallmark, and I just might. The top three images are some examples of them--the ones I like best, anyway. They are, top to bottom, Aeronautic Tumblies (note the protective eyewear), Tumblies of Summer, and Pollen Tumblies. Like I said, their main concept is being adorable, since I can't be expected to plumb the dark oceans of emotion all the time. Sometimes I just need some cute. These Tumblies are created using watercolor, ink and colored pencil on paper.

Below the Tumblies are two pieces that speak, in a way, to
my other interest, which is writing. Generally, I don't mix my writing and my art. They come from very different areas of myself and I find it ultimately detrimental to both disciplines to mix them. Maybe it's vanity--I like my art to be able to communicate without words, and my writing to be able to communicate without images. Graphic novels and comics, in case you were wondering, bore me to tears from the standpoint of a creator, though illustration doesn't repel me quite so much. The second picture from the bottom is a rare exception (one of them, anyway). She is a character from a story I once started to write, and have put on the back burner for the time being. Her name is Mary, and her tattoo is a snake that wraps around both arms and over her shoulders. The one overlap I have is a habit of sketching characters. Something about seeing them physically as I see them in my head is helpful. There are two other, similar images from this story showing other characters, but Mary remains my favorite. It's India and acrylic ink and pen on paper, the same smallish (about 3" X 5" ish) paper the Tumblies are on. I'm really bad at identifying paper types, you'll have to forgive me.

Below Mary is a rather strange image--even for me--that occurred one evening seemingly out of nowhere. The day, I recall, had been filled with rather sordid activity as befits college kids in an empty summer house, so maybe that has something to do with its origin. The result, anyway, were those wonderfully ugly children all stained with mulberry juice--or possibly something more gruesome. Mullberry juice does make one look rather like the undead if one gets it all over one's face. This image, unlike Mary, has no greater narrative, but is one of the rare images in which I've used text. I don't generally. For me it's too rigid and, like I said before, I like my art to not need the addition of text to make its meaning or even feeling clear. But there's always an exception. Here's one of them, watercolor and pen on Bristol plate (I remember that, because it's in big letters on the pad), 8.5" X 11".

I'm getting better at water media, and there's something nice about it. For one thing, unlike oils, water media is nontoxic and can be used in the comfort of your living space, which is a nice break from standing in the basement. They're also easily portable and easily prepared and cleaned up. My watercolor, ink, and gouache palette is a piece of aluminum foil, for example, and all the paint tubes can fit into the relish jar I use for water. With the exception of We Were Eating Mullberries, all the images here were created during the month I was living on my good friend Jillian's futon. I had no permanent studio space at the time, and obviously I couldn't use (toxic) oils in her apartment, so my only outlet, artistically, was water media. So if you're ever camped out in someone's living room for a period of time, bring your watercolors.