Tag Archives: artwork

Fear of Art

…not of society’s fear of raw honesty, or of the ruling class’ truth-to-power, but of my own insecurities.

Sometimes the terror comes from an editing process out of my control; sometimes it’s in seeing a work executed by an entity I should trust, who comes highly recommended, whom others trust.

I once joined a band who’d just shot a music video. Eventually, it debuted at a party. I was unhappy with a key scene & worked very hard at trying to find a tactful way to critique it (tact was then a new concept to me). I was convincing & the volunteer videographer revisited the scene.

That was 2003. I have a copy, but still haven’t seen it, out of fear that I’ll be disappointed. There’s actually a pain in my chest right now, thinking about it.

Last week saw the delivery of a print job based on my work. I have full confidence in the entity that did the job, yet the terror is back. The strange thing is that, if I had been in town for the scheduled delivery, I’d’ve been there to see it.

But I wasn’t. And now it looms.

I’d planned to go up today to check it out, but kept finding little things to do instead.

Yet it’s no one’s job to reassure me. This is my problem; others’ reassurance will only be a crutch if I keep relying on gracious good reviews.

– – – – –

Sticks, by Margaret Shulock

Sticks, by Margaret Shulock

A naval-gazing, TMI post-script: This is one of several banes of good art–of good work in general. The praise before printing was near-gushing, & the approval of others was like a high. It helps–or maybe it doesn’t–that I’m very happy with my design job. But now, upon delivery, there’s only the public announcement of its arrival. See, I signed the proofs, & my money wasn’t spent. So, is it fucked up that there’s a little voice in the back of my mind that wonders whether it doesn’t live up to expectations? Sorry for the rhetoric; this, too, is my problem, & mine alone. I need to get off my ass &, whatever the printed result, get it behind me.

Making art for the judgement of others is…

So. Much. Fun!


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Stress of the Day

Filthy Cake, artwork with overlay

Filthy Cake, artwork with overlay

(Written last night before bed.)

That should be plural. ‘Stresses.’ And I do not handle stress well.

Never have, really, but I used to thrive on it. It was a thrill, barely getting to work on time. The adrenaline rush could keep me going until second break, sometimes longer. My, how things change.

Add one heat stress episode (with a ride in an ambulance) &, roughly one month later, an early morning (still in bed) panic attack… that I mistook for a stroke. They, with other factors, some reaching back to childhood, reset my life in ways I never could have imagined.

Yesterday, I was on the final stretch toward submission of an artwork. Scanning & digital assembly (you can see by the accompanying pix that I handle my black linework & my colour discretely). I dropped my only mouse at roughly 1:45pm. The deadline was midnight, Pacific (or 4am local), but I self-imposed 6pm Eastern, b/c I was due in Barrie for Idea Party at 7, & leaving it till later wasn’t an option. One can never tell when one’s car will break down, y’know?

Dropped mouse decided there would be no cursor on the screen, but it would close windows with a click. I take it apart, & a bunch of shit falls out. Nice. I recognize the scroll wheel, & a plastic piece that I correctly assume is the framework  in which the wheel sits. And two pieces of wire, each unlike the other. I figure out where one goes; the other – not a clue. But I put the screws in.

Cursor! YAY! …no clicky, from either button. That ate 45 minutes or so. If only I had wussed out & gone to my brother’s place to temporarily steal his mouse instead of trying to be be Manly Mister Fixit Man. B/c I ended up at his place anyway, stealing his mouse. My hurriedly scribbled note:

– broke my mouse
– have a deadline
– borrowing yours

He was cool. He always is.

Filthy Cake, artwork sans overlay

Filthy Cake, artwork sans overlay

Okay, so you see that sheet of overlay? The one that could have been half an inch shorter on top & another half-inch shorter on the bottom? It should have been. It’s been so long since I did a full-page of art that my overlay was too big; the subsequent crosshairs were too far apart. See, scanning as two halves & assembling them is necessary. But my crosshairs were just far enough from centre that I missed a lousy TWO MILLIMETRES from the middle of the piece.

I cursed myself, then resigned to scan the middle section of each, to insert & make it whole. By 5:55, I was just making my final edge trims–with bleed for print, properly trimmed for Internet display–when I noticed I hadn’t put my signature on the piece. *sigh* I hit the drafting table to sign the orignal (thankfully, I’d left some white space), hit the bathroom hairdryer to ensure the ink wouldn’t leave a residue on the scanner glass, scanned that small section, inserted it perfectly into the digital version, then redid the trims & web-rez processes.

As I sent it in at 6:45, I noticed an earlier email from the printer rep, asking if I could proof the brochure (PDF – I’m very proud of it, to be honest) before end-of-day. Oops. I couldn’t have gone if I’d seen it earlier, but I hate leaving people uninformed, b/c I hate being left same.

The drive to Barrie was interesting. The once-familiar adrenaline was evil. My mind became flushed with bad memory (PDF) after bad memory. I wasn’t freed from this until I had the insight to put on familiar music that I associated with good times. It worked.

Reviews of the submitted art were positive. I ended up crashing very late, as I’d forgotten an extra piece of art (got it in under the wire).

Today was no less hectic. I had hoped to visit my grandson on the same day I proofed the brochure, but no such luck. Today was also my scheduled psychiatric appointment.

Pic of a 1yo, looking up over my archival pigment pens

Pic of a 1yo, looking up over my archival pigment pens

Geography (jpg): Elmvale lies almost half-way between Barrie (1/2hr south) & Midland (1/2hr north); Elmvale is home, the printer proof is in Barrie, & my counsellor is in Midland. And construction on the major roads between my destinations – Hwy 400 (from Forbes Rd to Horseshoe Valley) & the Old Penetanguishene Road (from Orr Lake to Waverley). It’s not an insignificant chuck of asphalt for the relative speed.

Adrenaline. Strangely not nostalgic. Definitely unwelcome.

The proof looks awesome – it folds just as I planned. Before leaving Barrie, I dropped a piece of artwork off for framing. Despite construction delays, I had time to pop into Mom’s to initiate a laundry wash cycle (Moms are awesome, too). And I made my appointment on time. But it was stressful. Just thinking about it now is causing a knot in my stomach, so I’ll sign off here.

P.S. My brother was generous enough to give me both of his unused mouses. On the laptop, it’s going to take some time to break the blue stick habit.

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Real Life Comics

Neil Dawson Sculpture

Neil Dawson Sculpture

I love this.

In New Zealand, it looks like a huge cartoon sheet of paper is settling on a hilltop.

But the ‘cartoon’ can only been seen from the hill’s foot. Why? An excerpt from the article by Robert Krulwich:

It’s a sculpture, made of welded and painted steel that looks like a two-dimensional cartoon drawing of a three-dimensional piece of paper … that is three-dimensional if you get close, but looks two-dimensional if you stay at the bottom of the hill, as you can see from these two-dimensional photographs of the three-dimensional sculpture that looks like a two-dimensional cartoon sitting on a three-dimensional hill — STOP!!! My head hurts.

<3 NPR

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The Songs of Me

ZZ Top - Eliminator

ZZ Top – Eliminator

Quick nod to yesterday’s post: I’m having a really hard time sitting still to pencil a cover for an anthology I have work appearing in. I would rather be scripting a friend’s biographical anecdote. Anyway.

I ran across a nifty little throwaway article on NPR that requires a bit of navalgazing, & so it’s perfect for me to blog about. I, after all, am my favourite subject.

The premise is that what you listen to defines you. Is it even true? Certainly not as a totality, but I think it’s important to recognize our cultural touchstones, especially considering our era’s media & marketing, where two people who live next door to each other can have touchstones seemingly alien in comparison.

To the naval:

What was the first song you ever bought?

Van Halen - 1984


I honestly don’t remember. My first few albums in the early-mid 80s were a smattering of gifts & the spending of allowance money. To the best of my memory, & with no preference, they were Platinum Blonde’s Standing in the Dark, ZZ Top’s Eliminator, Judas Priest’s Defenders of the Faith, Mötley Crüe’s Shout at the Devil, Van Halen’s MCMLXXXIV.

What song always gets you dancing?

My clubbing days were my early 30s. There are a small handful of tunes with that undeniable, booty-shaking beat. I’ll single out Eminem’s Without Me b/c it’s one of the few I’d actually put on for pleasure listening.

What song takes you back to your childhood?

I have to name two here; Mom’s taste was definitely AM radio, & she had both of these albums. As it happens, both are pleasure-listening-booty-shakers in adulthood: Staying Alive & Rasputin.

Prince - Lovesexy

Prince – Lovesexy

What is your perfect love song?

What kind of love – unrequited, engaging or heartbroken? The greatest heartbroken song ever is, of course, When Doves Cry

How can you just leave me standing alone in a world that’s so cold?

For an engaging love song, it’s Prince again with When 2 R in Love

Bathe with me – let me touch your body ’til your river’s an ocean
Bathe with me – let’s kiss with one synonymous notion
That nothing’s forbidden and nothing’s taboo when the 2 R in love

The perfect unrequited love ‘song’ is Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

What song would you want at your funeral?

Bee Gees - Greatest

Bee Gees – Greatest

Something I wrote, back when I did that kind of thing. Of the set you can peruse, 109 is probably the most appropriately soothing, but I’d really prefer 103 – it sounds final. 106 is too creepy (& I’m disappointed that my 40s have caused an important compositional texture–half of a melody, actually–almost completely disappear, as its frequency was somewhere in the 16000 kHz range).

Of course, if I wanted to be a total hipster about it (b/c you’re never heard of them), I’d claim to want D02 or After Failure, What Is Left? (both as final–& inappropriate–as 103). [EDIT: After a bit o’ schmoove file management, I uploaded a few more old compositions, including these. Apparently, MySpace’s 3-song limit is long gone.]

Time for an encore. One last song that makes you, you.

Apr15 was a song written & recorded for an unreleased album by a once-upon-a-time band I was in called The DiViNE. It was the only tune on that almost-album that I had sole music credit on. I’m very proud of the instrumentation, & I’ll see if I can get permission from my former bandmates to post it.

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I Was Asked to Add an Ampersand (which I love)

Amper's And Tee by Pistol Clothing

Amper’s And Tee by Pistol Clothing

This is personally amusing. Your mileage may vary.

I’m doing some of the visual design for the SGAA’s upcoming studio tour. On the rack card, I made the date read:

Sept 22nd and 23rd

The group asked me to add the year, & there’s wisdom to that. The request came with a suggestion to swap the ‘and’ for an Ampersand, as the rack card has a limited width, & adding alphanumerics to the line results in a smaller point size for the font. And the date’s important; it must be at-a-glace readable.

Below, as a bit of self-effacing humour, I publish the email I didn’t send, which features my overwrought contemplation of the addition & the change.

I would argue against an Ampersand, as much as I love it & use it in my work. My prelude goes like this: The beauty of the written word is the variety of sizes of letters when there’s a mix of capitals & lowercase. All caps is very difficult for the eye to track & comprehend, & I generally stay away from all caps even in a headline unless it’s very short. This reasoning leads me to feel that an Ampersand between the dates, size-wise, competes with the size of the date numerals during just-a-glance comprehension. And we want that comprehension.

For the year, I would vote for adding it instead to the title, as part of the last line “…Studio Tour, 2012”, with the font size of ‘2012’ the same point size as the lowercase letters.

That logic leads, of course, to the idea that I can make the Ampersand the size of lowercase letters, making it glance-comprehensible & generally awesome, to which the year can also be awesomely added to the date line instead of the header.

In all of this, I will acquiesce to majority opinion.

Now you know part of why I fail to produce anywhere near as much work as I should. For the record, the date does end up in the header, & the Ampersand is at a reduced point size so the date remains nice & large.


Filed under art, opinion

Emerging Sexuality Is like a Box of Chocolates

Like many, I’m on LinkedIn. It’s mostly irritating. Correction: I’m mostly irritating. Such is the way of the opinionated. A thread on the topic of the recent trend of depicting LGBTQ in popular comics, from Archie to Marvel-Disney, inspired this post.

Mainstream comics have been the last bastion of prudery, at least in terms of the male gaze (the censorship of clothed male anatomy in Alex Ross’ paintings comes immediately to mind after fanboys too often cried ‘ew gross!’ at what should be considered natural pants-bulge on spandex-clad men). Despite gay rights activism & awareness proponents in the citizenry, I believe the recent great strides have been thanks largely to the influence of celebrities & fictional characterisations in media, especially television.

It’s not that alternate sexualities haven’t been explored before – they have – but in my limited fandom, they took a heteronormative position. John Byrne created a fuss when he revealed in interviews that Northstar was gay (that depiction in Byrne’s comics was extremely subtle, by rumoured editorial decree). Years ago, I reread his Alpha Flight run & it was easy to infer, if you were looking for it.

I ran into Peter Gillis in a LinkedIn thread, in which he piqued my interest in his run on The (New) Defenders in which he took ethereal alien-cum-corporeal human female Cloud, who was already in a lesbian relationship with (bisexual) Moondragon, & has Cloud realise lesbianism is ‘wrong,’ which triggers ‘her’ shift to male. This fucks up Iceman’s crush on ‘former-she’ Cloud. (NOTE: I have not yet read it, but will soon; Internet summaries seem to gloss the details, & I am trusting my interpretation of Gillis’ comment.)

Another example of heteronormativity is what I will refer to as the Langowski Horniness Problem.

Walter Langowski (Sasquatch) became Wanda Langowski through a consciousness transfer (after trying several other hosts) to goddess  shapeshifter Snowbird’s abandoned body. Wanda, with her male consciousness, urged the team to hurry in their efforts to return ‘him’ to male form, b/c s/he had begun to feel straight female sexual drive. It was a passing reference,  but blew my small-town teenaged mind in the mid-80s.

In hindsight, I think it was a cop-out. Sexuality isn’t decreed by one’s physicality (as homo-attraction & transgenderedness clearly illustrate), but by the psychology of what one finds sexually stimulating. Wanda should have kept Walter’s attraction to women, yet didn’t b/c the prevailing attitude of the time was that comics characters must be straight – hence Peter Gillis’ Defenders storyline (based on how he described it here), & the extreme subtlety of John Byrne’s creation/depiction of Northstar’s sexuality.

It isn’t just LGBTs who spend so-called ‘pink dollars.’

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Sad Bunny


Here it is, finally, the beginning of what may (should?) be a daily blog, inspired in great part by co-grandparent Ruby Diego (we have a grandson in common, as well as artistry), & in lesser part by several years’ barrage of artist-to-artist advice to make a daily blog. You might notice that my sentence structures are rarely as succinct as Ruby’s, likely to my detriment. Anyway…

Upon waking, my mechanical CPAP assistant fluctuated in its labour in a new but familiar way. As it revving its motor to push air more so, then less so, then more so again, it reminding me of a track from Sonic Youth’s Goodbye 20th Century… but not quite. When I had satisfied my ear in its not-quite-rightness, a pigeon outside my window matched my memory of Pendulum Music perfectly. Then I got up, foregoing an ongoing attempt to habituate a morning meditation in favour of a full bladder.

The lights went out, then on, then out & on & out once more as water splashed in front of me & down. I became immediately thankful I’d made my morning cuppa & my eldest cat fed, as Veronika’s refrigerated food needs a 6-9 second microwaving to make it palatable. I was thankful, too, that this week’s 2nd hydro outage in Elmvale was during daylight hours. I was not so lucky on Monday, when the power failed at roughly 4am as I was heading to bed. I brushed & flossed by the light of battery-powered laptop, then propped my upper body in a pseudo-seated position to minimise throat closure, as CPAP needs electricity to run. I barely slept in the hour & a half it took for hydro to resume, after which I slept fitfully, but for only four hours.

C’est la vie; c’est la vie, that’s just the way it goes, oh yeah.

Yesterday I delivered two newly framed pieces to Rob at The Conservatory, Elmvale/Springwater’s local gallery, prepared by Barb & Lisa at Carriage House (mad props to Carolyn for the mat advice). The other three of the set are promised as a résumé to a gallery in the GTA.

On the art front, I have two OpinioNations ready for scan/assembly. I’m also working on a cat illustration, playing with the colour scheme. I meant to do it first thing, but I needed hydro to finish it, so I sat down with David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, to see what it is that makes it worthy of filming, as I did a couple of weeks ago with Max Barry’s Orwell-photonegative Jennifer Government, & its brilliant “In yo FACE!” to Ayn Rand & Ron Paul (IMO).

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