Sunday, December 18, 2005
It's finally over. I have a job. On Monday, December 12, I went to a second interview (see the Dec. 9th journal entry if you're curious). The interview went well, but really didn't have a technical aspect. I think that, after 10 years of doing this, these folks seemed to sense that there was nothing technically that I haven't seen yet. So, they wanted to ask me about the other aspects of the job.
It's probably been 15 years since I've been hired on the spot, in the interview. It was really nice to have that happen again, and be able to share that with my wife. My son doesn't quite get it yet, but he understands that I won't be here during the day anymore. He's okay with it ... but gosh, I'm going to miss him.
At any rate, I'd like to thank all of you for your ongoing support and prayers. Your kind words during this time have meant more than I can express. And your prayers were answered.
God bless each and every one of you. If there's ever anything I can do for you, I hope you won't hesitate to call upon me. I am eternally grateful.
Friday, December 09, 2005
I spent my afternoon today in pursuit of a job.
That doesn’t sound very productive, does it? In actuality, I’ve been pursuing every opportunity that came my way over the course of the last several weeks, but I haven’t really had any serious offers to tender until recently. One of them is a contract-to-hire situation, which is a fancy way of saying temp-to-perm, but when you’re an IT professional, those terms aren’t used. So it’s a possible full-time, permanent job, the first I’ve been offered in more than three years.
However, that one hasn’t panned out very well. I haven’t heard anything about it, so the possibility seems vague and dim. I was excited about it, but if it’s not going anywhere, I have no choice but to pursue other options.
The second is a long-term contract -- my understanding is 12 months with the possibility of extension. So, over the last week or so, I’ve made the necessary motions to get that taken care of and line up the ducks. I’ve seen the recruiter for our face-to-face meeting, and at last, I had my interview for the position today.
I should be happy about it, but in truth, I’m just concerned. My original scheduled interview was Tuesday, but it was cancelled because the hiring manager was ill. No problem; I set up a new interview for today at 2 p.m.
The client is a large, multi-national corporation with several buildings in the area. I was to go to one that was actually a rented space within another company’s building. I was to go to the receptionist, ask for the manager and wait in the lobby. Simple enough.
When I got there, I arrived with about 20 minutes to spare. I didn’t know if there was some paperwork, application or something like that, which would have to be filled out before the interview. I didn’t want to hold the meeting up by having to fill out paperwork and having it take longer than it should, so I got there with time to spare. I saw the receptionist and was sent to a reception phone that was specifically for the company; I dialed the number and got the interviewer’s voice mail. I left a message, and sat down.
After about 20 minutes, the receptionist asked if I wanted to call again. I told her no, that the manager had another interview before mine, and it may have run a bit over. In 15 more minutes, though, I realized something may have been missed. I knew that he’d had to cancel one meeting already; it was possible he’d not yet returned to work and that I hadn’t been told. So, in my best professional voice, I left a second voice mail.
I waited a few more minutes, then contacted the on-site IT manager for the recruiting firm. I told him what was happening -- or rather, what wasn’t happening -- and he explained that the meeting that was to take place at 1 p.m. hadn’t happened either. There was a mad scramble to locate the hiring manager, and try to straighten things out. I told him that I would be there for another five minutes or so, then I would leave and we could reschedule for more convenient time.
Well, long story short, the man wanted me to come to a different location. It was only a short distance down the same street, but still … what was wrong with the original arrangement? So I capitulated, and drove to the appointed building. I arrived directly behind the interviewer. He greeted me, when he found out who I was, and apologized for the confusion. He also informed me that he had one person ahead of me (who was also standing there), and that he would meet with me immediately upon completion of that interview. He escorted me up an escalator and then asked me to sit in a small seating area in the middle of the hallway.
I watched people and looked at the building for several minutes when I noticed them coming back. They caught my gaze. “We’re still looking for a room,” the interviewer called, trying to sound joking. After another few minutes of pacing about, he and the interviewee settled into the seating area some fifteen feet away from me. There, in the middle of the hallway, he conducted the interview.
At first, I was uncomfortable with that idea; there were to be questions asked, information gathered, things said … who knew what was going to be overheard? When it came my turn to interview, however, I realized I had nothing to fear.
The conversation was brief; I was with him for perhaps 30 minutes, while he went through his background, some background on the company, described the position and the tools used (customized for his group by some other group), and that was it. There was no questioning my background, there was no technical quiz to be answered on the fly, there was no “how would you handle this?” type of questioning … nothing.
I left without knowing, and still don’t, how that interview went. It was brief … it was less than professional … and it was confusing. But I remain optimistic.
I hope that those of you who pray will continue to do so. Those of you that have wished us well and supported us, thank you too. God bless you all.
Monday, November 07, 2005
It took me years to finally figure out why he looked that way, but eventually I did. I think most of us, though by all means not all of us, don’t necessarily want to acknowledge the ugly truths in our past. It’s especially difficult when we have to face the failings of those for whom we are taught not to find fault. Our parents are somehow above all the things that make people human. It’s only mortality that makes us face the fact that they’re human.
In general, but not always; some of us have to deal with the fact that they’re not only human, but very flawed ones, well before that. I am one such.
I realized my father looked sad because he was always struggling financially, emotionally, and eventually medically. He was fighting an uphill battle against a foe he could not defeat, and would not retreat from for whatever reason(s). He looked sad because he was sad. He was sad that his life had gone the way it did without, at least in his mind, any recourse for him to take.
In August of 2002, my wife and I suffered a traumatic event in our lives that would change it forever. At first, we felt that this was a fresh opportunity, a new chance to do things with our lives that wouldn’t have been possible before. We soon learned, however, that this was not the case. It was a cataclysm of unparalleled proportions in our life together and it left only ruins and wreckage in its wake like a tsunami. While the devastation was initially only financial, it soon spread and left us emotionally and mentally wounded and reeling. It left us physically drained and exhausted, and it would be years before we began to recover.
Before that recovery began, we were treated to horrors in the name of "love" that I can't begin to describe. We were stripped of everything we had materially, and stripped of our dignity. We were accused of being liars, and thieves, of abandoning our children, of seeking a way out of debt into a "new lifestyle." We were accused of not trying to resolve our situation though we suffered devastation and financial hardships trying. We were accosted at every turn, chased and eventually run out of our only "refuge" into the world. Those circumstances left us with nothing and no one to aid us.
Through it all, we tried to have faith. Repeatedly, that faith failed us and left us falling into the chasm that opened beneath us.
We finally felt that, despite the awful losses we’d been dealt, we could endure and that our lives were getting back on track in May of 2004. That never really manifested, though, and we are now once again staring into the face of the same overwhelming forces that nearly destroyed us before. What little support structure we had in years past is gone now, and should we fall, the fall will be much longer, farther and greater than before. We have absolutely no safety net now.
I sit and live my life in fear, and each moment that goes by is spent battling those palpitations of my heart and pulse that shoot burning harpoons of adrenaline coursing through my veins. I sleep fitfully, listlessly, and without rest. I can’t relax and just enjoy myself, because the future continually becomes the present and thence past, with each clock tick bringing doom closer to my doorstep once again. And I hear my son’s voice as he plays, and watch my infant daughter as she sleeps, and wonder for how much longer that will be my privilege. And I become very sad.
I wonder if one day soon, my children will look back on life and say, “My father always looked so sad …”
If you're praying people, pray for us please.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
That physics principle is a guiding universal one, but how is it that, at nearly four decades old, I still haven’t managed to find a way around that for myself?
As a case in point, the force that brought me to rest was a serious cold or flu; I know not which it was, but it was hard. I missed a few days of work, but with my income dependent on my ability to log hours, I hadn’t the luxury of actually recuperating. As such, it likely took longer to recover than it should have. Not to mention other mitigating factors.
In the end, the result was that I came home from work exhausted. Between trying to help my wife raise our children and life just being lived, and having no one that can offer us help for whatever reason(s), I simply didn’t have the energy or desire to do anything after work. I was in bed normally by 10:30 p.m., and slept most of the night through. Get up and repeat the cycle the following day. The weekends were spent recovering from the week’s activities. Grocery delivery services are wonderful, I can tell you.
Here I am, feeling MUCH better, but still unable to draw. I just have no motivation. I come home from work, I play with the kids a bit, eat, and then plop myself into a chair to stare at the television for the rest of the night. It’s not something I’m proud of or pleased about, and yet there seems to be little I can do about it. I’ve posted some older work (meaning within the last few months) on various art boards, hoping something that someone said would motivate me to keep my pencil moving, but that hasn’t happened. I’m just … blocked.
I’ve heard a lot of artists going through similar things, but they seem to come out of it, and I can’t figure out what they’re doing, how they’re doing it and what I should do to break this stasis. It’s torturing me to have finally, after nearly nine years, reconnected with my artwork and not be able to find the time, motivation and the willingness to just grab a pencil and sketch. I’ve been close, but not close enough. It’s similar to writer’s block, but isn’t from lack of an idea or inspiration – although that’s a distinct part of it. I just … don’t draw, and the days slip ceaselessly away from me. Another finite and irreplaceable chunk of lifetime is lost to cursed inertia.
I don’t know how this will end, and I don’t know when I’ll break through this mental barrier (and I am convince it is mental), but I want to find a way. I need something that sparks me enough to at least finish some of the drawings that I’ve started, and left unfinished, but I have no idea what that something may be. This is the first time, in my memory, that I can remember running into this with my art – in other areas, it’s a somewhat regular occurrence and I know how to cure it. My wife is usually good for some insight here, but even there I’ve come up empty.
If you have an answer, I’m open to hearing it – though saying “draw through it” isn’t an option. I need more than that to get from here to there. That solution would help for feeling as though I’ve stagnated in progress, but does nothing for this quagmire.
God bless, everyone, and thanks for reading this if you did. Suggestions are welcomed and gratitude to those that make them.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
I tried to update an image on my DeviantArt page, and ended up deleting it -- along with all the wonderful comments, encouragement, tips and other helpful remarks make by those that took time and effort to look at the damned thing for me.
I feel like a heel. On the upside, I got some input from someone to enable me to move the image, resize it, and eliminate the sketch lines in gray from the image. So, it's up and running as a nice B/W piece now, and it's finished (albeit it's not wonderful).
Thanks to any and all that saw the original, took time to comment, and gave me advice. I'm so sorry I lost those things.
And above all things, I hate stupidity. Yet we are close companions, he and I.
God bless, everyone. I'll update soon. And here's the new image:
Monday, October 17, 2005
She asked me if I'd seen a little boy.
I was a bit shocked. It turns out that the little boy was missing. No one knew where he was.
I told her my wife had seen him, sitting on his bright yellow plastic chair on the second floor balcony of his apartment. They spoke for a few minutes. When she came in, she told me she was worried. It didn't seem like much. Hours later, this woman, a friend of the parents, was looking for him. He was not in the apartment, which was on the second floor, and he wasn't accessible to anyone else that they knew who may have him. The mother was at work.
I was, instantly, sticken and worried. The boy in question was one that I'd seen from time to time with his dad, in the parking lot, walking together. He was younger than my own son, who will be four next month. I told the woman that I would get a flashlight and help her look; it had been hours since my wife saw him.
The father was looking for the boy. He was young, and explained to me that the little boy was wearing a red and cream set of pajamas. He gave the boy's name. I didn't ask if they'd contacted the police. I knew they hadn't; I just began wandering around the grounds, shining my flashlight in corners and bushes, under cars, behind air conditioner units -- anywhere I could think of in which a small child may have hidden ... or worse.
I prayed. I prayed frantically, distractedly. My heart was pounding. As I wandered around a stand of tall, wild grass, which looked like a patch of reeds beside a water hole, I was scared. I was scared to see that flash of color, some indication that something terrible had happened. I prayed and tromped, feeling my feet get wet as the water in the wet ground sopped into my worn shoes. I shone the light into the grass deeply, staring with eyes that did not want to see. It was horrible. I could feel my pulse in my temples, in my stomach, in my throat ... and I could hear myself muttering to God quietly for everything to be okay, not to let this be what it could be.
I came back and was met by the father; he asked if I'd found anything. I said I hadn't, but that his flashlight was better, and perhaps we could look together. We walked around the building again silently, not speaking, each of us shining our lights into the ominous dark places that can conceal evil deeds.
We worked through the immediate parking lot and the mother came home, hurried and trying to be upbeat. She greeted me with a subdued "hi," as she moved to ask if the little boy had been found yet. Her arms folded across her chest told me the answer though I could not hear.
The haunted look in their eyes was what struck me most. It sent shivers down my spine. Another stranger joined the search, and we worked our way farther away from our building. The night seemed colder, darker than before. I shivered again as the hushed mood and whispers continued.
It was more than half an hour later now. We'd looked in every possible nook and cranny around the buildings. There was no sign of him. The woman that approached me, the friend of the father, rejoined us with that same hollow, zombie stare in her eyes. No one wanted to think it; wanted even less to say it. She quietly suggested that perhaps the next step was to contact the police.
The father silently pulled his cell phone out and dialed. I trailed behind the two of them, as the mother came up from behind me, her arms still folded over her chest. Her steps were rushed, urgent, her voice tight and controlled. She called to the father and asked me to whom he was speaking. I told her I didn't know, but he'd made a call to someone. She hurried past me. In a moment, I heard the voices rise, excitement.
The boy had been found. He was at the local police station.
I nearly collapsed. I tightened my throat to keep from weeping.
It was more excitement than I wanted on a Sunday at nearly ten o'clock. But I prayed jubilantly and in gratitude for the boy being found safely. When I came into our home, the look on my wife's face told me she'd been praying intensely too. My smile told her everything. I felt the relief wash through me as I told her what had transpired.
We spent the rest of the evening being as near to our children as we could get.
I'm so glad, so grateful Lord, that this time, it turned out well. Far, far too often, it does not.
Thank you, Lord.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
So, I'll have less time over the next few days/weeks to do this, and I'm going to try and make them better in terms of thinking them through.
Today an artist posted her work on DA. Not unusual, right? When I commented on it, I got a response. That is unusual. But that's not what I'm talking about here -- her response was that, on another board, someone had torn it apart for her and she hated the piece.
I know, as artists, we all have certain expectations of our work that we can't and don't meet. I know that we strive for better and better things from ourselves and we hope that, with each honest and constructive criticism, we can grow. I also know, from the experience of others, that in certain circles (if not universally), you will not be handled with kid gloves when you submit artwork for professional review and critiques. In fact, some of the critiques can be downright mean.
It's their goal to be destructive and show you where you lack. It's our responsibility not to be destroyed, and not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Take what gold there is among the debris and improve. The next time, that rude and inconsiderate art director -- who is convinced they're doing you a favor by being rude and asinine -- will have to find other areas to be a jackass about with regard to your work.
That being established, and acknowledging that this is a fact for those of you trying to be professional artists, is it really necessary that we be destructive in our critiques? I've read some that were genuinely and sincerely teaching critiques, but were handled in less than a delicate or even polite way. The terminology used was degrading and harsh. The response to questioning was "Well, an art director isn't going to be polite. They're going to be rude." Okay, that's true; it's stupid and it's unnecessary -- and it stems from being a self-inflated narcissist with nothing better to do than demean the work of others IMHO -- but it's true. So what? Does that give us open season on one another? Does that provide the justification for being harsh and insensitive -- or worse, deliberately cruel -- to other artists whose work we don't hold in esteem? Does that make it okay for us to rip others down and spit on the pieces, in the name of "critique?"
Constructive criticism will help a person grow as an artist, or as a person in general. In most circumstances, it's beneficial to receive criticism. But if the "critique" is cruel and harsh intentionally, and the "critique" is actually barely (if at all) disguised insults and bashing, is that really helpful? What gets you farther -- telling someone nicely what's wrong with their work, or telling them in a way that's designed to be insulting and crass, abrasive? If that's what art directors and instructors do, then that's their problem. You will have to deal with that when the time comes. I still maintain that it's not necessary for us, the other artists to whom this person has turned for guidance, to be the same way. Not only is it not necessary, it's counter-productive.
And this cruelty in critique is new -- relatively new anyway. When I submitted my portfolio to an art studio working in advertising and storyboards years and years ago, I was treated politely and respectfully shown where my art was lacking. I had my portfolio returned to me with a written checklist of the points on which it was evaluated, and that gave me an indication of where I needed to improve (everywhere). I had that paper for years and years, and marked my progress against it at intervals. I wasn't torn down in a destructive, harsh and ridiculously inconsiderate manner. I was encouraged to work on the areas of weakness.
Marvel Comics did the same thing back in the early-mid '90s. I submitted some sequentials, and received a letter back indicating where I was lacking and how to improve them. There was nothing in the letter that was harsh, rude or demeaning. It may have been a form letter for all I know, but it cited areas of weakness for those pages I did, and it helped me as much as any lesson I learned during that time.
The point is this: do we have to be asses to critique someone's work? With all the other people that will be insulting in the work force and industry into which these people are hoping to break, is treating them badly necessary here and on other forums where they are hoping to get guidance and (helpful) feedback to grow?
I say "no." I say that you don't have to be a jackass and a prick to get the artist to find room for improvement.
I'm sure all of you have opinions about this; that is only mine.
If you want to let me know why you feel the same/differently, go ahead. I'm listening/reading. :)
God bless, everyone, and for what it's worth -- I won't be harsh with anyone.
Monday, October 10, 2005
First, I want to thank all of you that took the time to read my angst-filled and empathic journal entry. Some of you almost embarrassed me with the compliments you bestowed on me for it. I thank you sincerely; your support means more to me than I could express with mere words. God bless you all, as you have blessed me with your kindness.
I feel that the quality artists on DA and other places have stepped forward and agreed with the fact that they often get ignored on art sites, or are watched by only a handful of others – mostly their friends. I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that, but know that your art and the sensitivity and expression that goes into it are not lost on all of us. As my watch list grows and my free time (seemingly) dwindles, I don’t know that I can comment on all the wonderful pieces you all post all the time, just as all of you can’t comment on the items that I post, either. Please know that I understand, and it doesn’t mean that I don’t care – or that I believe you don’t. I think we do care about each other, and some of the beautiful things you’ve said to me are evidence of that fact.
I’ll not soon forget the blessing you all have provided me this past week; and I won’t let you go unrecognized. As I can, I will send notes of encouragement to you, and try to keep your spirits up; someone special did this for me recently, and I’ll never forget her for it. The very least I can do is give it back to some of you. One of you out there is always, constantly, providing me with insight and reminding me of techniques that I may have forgotten if not for your input on a regular basis; I’m grateful, and if I can ever return the favor, know that I will.
My watch list isn’t something that I use to acknowledge anyone’s efforts on my behalf, though; it’s something that I use when I find great art, or a decent human being, who says or does something (in art or in word, either to me or to someone else) that touches me somehow. I don’t expect you all to reciprocate, and I don’t expect you to fawn all over anything I do. Please, don’t feel that way. But those of you that added me to your watch list, I do appreciate the fact that you either felt the art you saw warranted it, or felt that it was courteous to do so. If my art doesn’t appeal to you, or if you don’t find something of value there or in my journal entries, don’t be afraid to hurt my feelings by removing me from your list. You won’t insult me; I will understand. And I will still appreciate you.
God bless you all, and know that I care about you all. Be love, be safe, be happy.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Someone of whom I am becoming very fond on DA took time, from all the dozens and dozens of notes, comments and page views that they get, to respond to what I wrote yesterday, and in so doing, proved that I am not alone in the universe. There is someone else in the world that came about this artistic journey in a similar manner to me. Someone that experienced the same path that I walked – trying to teach themselves the specialty of what they wanted to do.
This person, however, was successful at it. I mean, VERY successful. Working in the industry of choice successful, on a TV show you may know or have seen successful. I think that’s incredible; but more incredible is that, despite the terrifying busyness and the incredible pressure of competition, the constant threat of losing a job, that they took the time to write a well-thought-out response to ME, and my rambling, wandering brain. Me, the one who has no interest in becoming a professional artist, who has only worked to improve for himself and his kids (they love my drawings), who only wants to look at what he creates and be happy with it. This person took the time to read my angst, my foolishness … and cared. And let me know that they cared.
I will not reveal the name of this person here, because I don’t have her permission to do so and I don’t want the gushing fans accumulated on DA to swarm with notes and comments hoping for something similar. What I do want to say, however, if that person is now reading this rambling diatribe, is that I am grateful for what you said, the way you said it, and I hope that we will communicate for many, many years to come. I hope also that someday I can return the favor you paid me; I am in your debt. Thank you.
It’s possible, folks. It’s possible to cut through the mindless, thoughtless waves of cyber crap and find gold. I found not just a nugget, but a full vein. Darrell31316, Nick Dean, Slipdance and Lonevixen, all the folks who either marked one of my drawings as a favorite or decided to add me to their friends list, please let me say thank you. I really mean it. I really appreciate the time you give to me, and I know how precious it is. Thank you all.
And, those that prayed for me when I asked, those that took time to answer my posts in my journal or took the time to read what prose I wrote, thank you too. I can’t say thank you enough. Time is hard, there are literally millions of deviations to browse, and you found my stuff. And then expressed interest in it. Thanks; I’m touched, and NOT just in the head. Thank you, sincerely.
Good night all, and have a great weekend. God bless each and every one of you. I will be praying for you.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
He raged against the fact that he, who works very hard at his craft to improve and to do good work, has a handful of visitors, and few comments … always from the same cast of characters. He also, I noticed, took the time to put the IDs of those that do watch and comment for his work in his post, and thank them for their time and their support. I thought that was classy.
When I answered his post, I countered about how I feel about manga/anime – it’s as legitimate a style of art as any other – but spent a lot of time trying to encourage him. I wrote that, in the end, the one that works hard to learn to draw, and draw correctly, will be the winner in the end. If an artist, regardless of ability and talent, can learn to draw correctly and “see” things the right way, he can also learn to capture those things on paper, and will find shortcuts to doing so. Those artists, who have invested the time and energy into learning to see what the world looks like and draw it, are the ones that can draw ANYthing, and ANY style, that suits them and their audience. They will be the ones that can adapt to the fickle desires of the art world, the comics world, the public, what/whomever … they will be able to draw whatever they’d like, whenever they’d like, in any style they’d like, without having to specialize in any given field.
I rambled on for awhile, but when he responded to me, it seemed he was less than impressed with what I said. That’s fine, because I was a couple of days behind his post and he wasn’t in the same place emotionally anymore, but something occurred to me as I wrote. I realized that, if you learn to draw a particular way, a particular “style,” if you will, you hamstring yourself; you are handicapped from the get-go because you don’t know how to draw. You only know how to mimic, and you aren’t able to actually create.
That’s what really came home to me – it became so very clear to me then, and is still rocking me back on my heels as I write, because I didn’t realize this until I was almost four decades old. It’s something that I should have realized when I was about 14.
I am a victim of that process. I am someone that never learned how to draw.
See, when I was a kid, I decided I wanted to draw comics. I would look at the way comic books were drawn them (in the ‘70’s), and watched the anatomy and facial renderings and tried to reproduce them. Over time, I used those things I’d learned to try and draw figures in original poses, and my anatomy got better, but in the end, I didn’t learn how to draw. I learned how to draw comic-style. I couldn’t draw a figure walking down a busy street to save my life; I couldn’t draw a car (and still can’t) to save my life; I couldn’t draw Peter Parker eating a doughnut to save my life (and still can’t probably). I couldn’t draw unless I was drawing Conan, or Spiderman (less so), or Superman (rarely). If I wasn’t drawing a bubble-muscled figure in a skin-tight suit, and possibly with his underwear on the outside, I wasn’t able to draw.
I remember in high school, I took a few semesters of “Art.” It was as generic as it could get, and I didn’t learn jack-diddly-squat, but some of that was likely my fault. At any rate, I would be asked to draw a picture of some kind, and I would do absolutely everything I could to avoid drawing an environment in which those figures could interact. And of course, the figures were bubble-muscled men in skin-tight suits. That way, I didn’t have to draw clothing and folds and wrinkles, didn’t have to learn about things like perspective and how to draw things that didn’t interest me, like dressers and windows and doors, houses and cars and trees and grass and curbs and gutters and buildings that look like buildings and not cardboard boxes with semi-square holes cut in them.
I didn’t learn anything at all, and when the time came to progress, all the less-talented people in my classes, who were taking it as a “blow-off” class for credit, grew more artistically than I did. And, I may – just may – have had the most talent of anyone in the school. Maybe.
There was my chance – my opportunity to be the best at something. I could have been the best artist in school. I could have tried so much harder and done so much more. I could have practiced more. Instead, I allowed myself to get side-tracked into almost anything else: bands and music, friends, football, Jennifer … you name it. I was just convinced that, because all I wanted to do was draw comics, all I had to do was draw comic-style art, and no one would be able to teach me except those doing that particular style of art. Which was no one I knew, and certainly no one teaching at my school; I was out of luck. I’d have to learn on my own.
The chance to go to art school passed me by then, and that was the end of that consideration. No one could have convinced me that I wasn’t going to be a physician at that time anyway. Even if they’d managed to do so, my parents weren’t about to foot the bill for art school, which in their ignorance would have been me sitting around painting fruit all day. What did they know? What did I know? Now, we come to the problem.
At every major juncture, when I fall in love with drawing all over again, I realize that I’m not as “good” as I want to be. That is to say, I lack the skill needed to make what’s in my under-developed mind’s eye move onto the paper. And my frustration drives me to spend money – in some cases hundreds of dollars, on ways to improve. I buy materials, books, videos (not really, but I would if I could find them), anything I can think of to teach me how to draw. I don’t ever get there, though, and in hyper-frustration, I walk away from art, sometimes for years. Why?
Because I never learned how to draw. I have to learn the fundamentals before I can learn the fun stuff. Just like math – you can’t start out with differential equations and advanced calculus; you start from addition and subtraction, and before that can happen, you need to know how to count. I got the basic numerals, then tried to skip to algebra. No such luck, buddy.
This revelation, which was falling out of my fingertips as I wrote a few paragraphs (nothing near as long as this diatribe) to my DA friend, hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized, I never learned to draw at all; all I did was learn to try and mimic the great comic artists of my childhood. And I did a poor job of it at that, and still do.
Sure, I went back and learned the basics of figure drawing – I learned how to “construct” a figure with basic shapes and a “skeleton,” but I never studied anatomy. I never drew the muscles as they appear on the skeleton, despite the anatomy and physiology courses I took. I never took the time to take “life drawing” – and this is still somewhat a mystery to me today. “Life drawing classes will help the most” is the advice everyone gets when they’re asked how to get better. “Draw from life, that’s the best thing.” I don’t get it, even know, but I will capitulate to it. I have no idea how that makes you better, but somehow it seems to do so, and thus draw from life I will.
So tonight, I decided to whip out my 18 x 24” newsprint and my graphite sticks and go after some things in a life-drawing bonanza. I drew things I knew I hated to draw, like a lamp, a blanket with all its folds and interwoven “Y” pattern wrinkles, and I drew my wife’s hand. I drew anything I could see. I did not permit myself to draw anything I was comfortable with and would consider “fun.”
Then I realized that, I’ve seen some stuff done online by a kid who’s less than half my age that I thought was phenomenal, mostly due to its light/shade rendering, and it made me realize that he was farther along than I am. Because all the years I’d been “drawing,” I hadn’t been; I almost am starting out from scratch. I got the same message when I saw the website of another artist acquaintance with his work online – he was so good, and I’m so not. While I feel my anatomy has come a long way, because the LAST time the bug hit I did get some books that helped me learn to render anatomy better, I couldn’t do the things he did. I couldn’t do the pages, the layouts, the environments, and then place the figures in them. I was astounded.
And here I am, trying to learn a new “style” again. I don’t know … I really don’t. You’d think, by just looking at my behavior artistically over the last fifteen years, that I never learn. And you’d be right.
Life drawing and drawing from life. I don’t think a class is in the cards, but we’ll see what happens when I spend some time doing speed drills and trying to draw from photos and from life around me. Can I sketch the people I see? Not now I can’t, no. Can I draw the cars in the parking lot? I doubt it. Is that what I’m going to work on? You bet.
Thanks for listening everyone. I’m sorry to have to admit this all over your shirt, but it will come out if you pre-treat. And I’ll learn to draw; I know I will.
God bless, and I’ll pray for you if you pray for me, okay? (Psych, I’ll pray for you anyway.)
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Artistically, one of the forums I frequent (www.penciljack.com) had a thread in it that I found wildly amusing in the light of where I’ve been over the last couple of months. I’ve agonized over it the idea of going to school a lot, and I’ve REALLY agonized over various ways to improve. I saw a lot of pros, a lot of people whose ability I deeply admire, post in response to that thread the various ways they have to break through the “plateaus” of improvement. It was relieving to first of all hear that, yes, these people that draw SO well all struggle with improving. It was also nice to hear that, of all the methods to get through that barrier when it arises, the most popular one, the one the pros use, is to draw through it.
That helped me, a lot. I also learned that, many artists struggle and hit a wall when they’re trying to adapt or develop a new style. It’s common. And it seemed common to have these come up on a cyclical basis, so I’m not that far away from where I should be.
Based on that, I can relax and just draw. Just keep drawing. And that, dear friends, is what I intend to do.
Art school helps, there’s no doubt about it. But it seemed to be an individual thing as to whether it would be of benefit because of learning or because of “guidance” from “art instructors.” Most seemed to feel that it helped, but wasn’t absolutely necessary. And everyone thought that practice, practice, practice was the best solution of all. It was the only thing I saw listed consistently as a cure for the barrier.
I can now exhale. I’ve not been so different after all. I wonder, as I wander through the many new ways I’m trying to teach myself to draw, the styles I’m “exploring,” if I’ll forget the way that I once had of drawing in that great, realistic, very amalgamated style? I wonder if you can work so hard on everything else that you forget where from you came, and that’s a deep concern for me. I saw a drawing today that looked like the direction I was going. I would have called it “old school,” I suppose. It’s what I wanted for my style not so long ago, in the drawing timeline. It was as recent as the LAST time I worked seriously on my art. Today it made me yearn. I yearned for the ability to do it all – to draw in that amazingly beautiful, simplistic way that animators do … to draw in that realistic, wonderfully fun way that made me want to draw comics in the first place … and to blend the two somehow, to find that ability that the few blessed have: Skottie Young, Joe Maduriera, J. Scott Campbell, and all the others that have found a way to make it happen. I want to draw manga-style and anime style and western style. I want to do portraits like I’ve seen on DA, and do sequentials too. I want to render fully, render partially, and paint and sketch like the pros. I want it all. I should have gone to school when I had the chance. I had it more than once, you know. And I blew it each time.
Now, that chance is really gone. And even if I have a chance to do something in school, I think I’m being directed in a different – and I mean TOTALLY different – direction. I think, should I have time to lament about that someday, that forcing it through my fingertips will be therapeutic. I’m committed to doing something that I don’t think I’ll like as much as art, but I love it too – in a different way. Schooling’s not necessarily critical to that field either, but just like art, it sure doesn’t hurt.
Insert heavy sigh here.
So many paths not taken. I was young enough once to have done it all … to have gone down both roads and have been happy with myself. Instead, I have a pocketful of regrets and am a shadow of what I could have been. I am probably never going to be completely happy until I stand with my Savior in glory, but until then, I’ll always have something that I wish I could have done differently. But, had I flowed that way, I would have been so much happier with myself. I can’t go back, oh Lord, but if there was just one thing in my life I could do differently, I think I would direct myself that way, and follow that convolution of life roads. Where would I be now? I don’t know, but I imagine I’d be happier with what I do for a living.
And, that provides me with a necessary segue into my NEXT amazing dissertation, the work front!
Really, there’s nothing amazing here. I have been asked to be more detailed about what forms I work on in the database; I’ve been asked to assume more of a role in leading these projects, and that’s really good. That will be very useful to me at other places, with future contracts. But, that also means I can’t surf the web while I’m at work like I did on my last project. They were so nice to me … they didn’t care what I did with my free time as long as I did the things they asked. This company’s a bit more fussy about time – and it seems, dear readers, that they are so MUCH so that they’re going to ask me to account for no less than 6.75 of my 8.0 hours there, not to mention they want to know WHAT I did with those hours and on what I worked. Hmm. New situation, to be sure. I have tickets to resolve, I have databases to develop, and I have administrative record keeping with which to keep up. So far, it’s taking me MUCH longer than 6.75 hours to do all that, and I don’t see that changing.
The good news, however, is that the things I wasn’t expected to do before the end of tomorrow I finished today, including a problem that had my trainer confused and stumped. He said we’d both work on it. I don’t need to do that. And, on one other matter, he wasn’t able to figure something out and I came up with a general concept and he perfected the logic for it. A genuine tag-team effort on that one, and it works like a champ. The client should be pleased.
So, his confidence in me rose a large number of notches today. And that, dear friends, is a VERY good thing.
Well, not much else to say, gang. I have to do some more experimentation with art styles, but maybe not tonight. I have to pray – I haven’t done that in some time in a personal, dedicated time way. And the baby is beating up mommy again, so I’ll have to assist.
God bless you all. I’ll remember you in my prayers, and hope you’ll keep praying for me.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
For the record, I’m sorry about that. I’m going to get a lot busier here, getting things done. I have so much to try and figure out, and don’t even know how to begin. But, starting tomorrow, the guy training me is going to have to ask me to assume more of a lead role in about four projects. One in particular is critical, because the client is the largest (and therefore the most income-generating) client we have; and she has a deadline of the end of the month.
So, I’m still working on it. I have to; please pray again. And I, in return, am praying for all of you.
Artistically, I’m doing something that I’ve known I should do but haven’t been doing for a long time. I want a “realistic cartoon” style of art, right? Been saying that for weeks now, and all o’ you have read my belly-aching. Now, I have started working with spheres. It’s no big deal, but recently, I’ve started dreaming about art. Once in a while, I dream about art technique. I don’t put a lot of credence in these things, but occasionally, they actually work. This is one of those times.
By using a sphere as the BASE for a head, I can make the head conform to a lot of different shapes, all depending on the stuff I add TO that sphere. In other words, the sphere is only the beginning, and not the final shape, as I previously understood. No, I CAN use the sphere that way if I wanted to, but that’s not the end of it. With some creativity, I can append other shapes onto the sphere and form heads in any shape I’d like.
Now, this is nothing new to anyone who’s been drawing for more than a few months. That whole “egg-shaped” myth is the biggest draw-back to getting started in drawing heads consistently and from any angle. What I was doing last night was starting with a sphere, then using a “crooked U” shaped jaw that was anchored on the sphere to correspond to the mandible. When I do it this way, and make sure to draw THROUGH your work for later reference, the head seems to turn out consistently.
Now, during a small “I need to think” break, I tried it again on a pad with a pen. No such luck. I struggled just the same, and MAN do I need to work on noses. But then, after I got home, I realized that I wasn’t doing it RIGHT. I was still using the sphere as the whole thing, with the jaw contained within the bounds instead of added atop the sphere. So I experimented at home, and voila! – the results were there.
So now, if any of you animator-types out there want to tell me what I’m doing that seems to flatten my drawings, I’d be eternally grateful. I want a rich, fullness and body to the drawing (sounds like a beer commercial, don’t it??), but I can’t seem to get there. Tips, anyone?
Anyway, I’m happier. I’m going to try and do a couple of the assignments from my animation book tonight and see what happens. I have to get started on the VB.NET stuff, and that’s going to happen soon, but right now, I want to break out of this slump I’m in, and try to reach a new level.
On the home front, things are good. Nothing really new to tell you; I’m terribly unhappy with the Conan “drawing” I posted, and I’ll be pulling it out soon. I’m going to actually replace it. Once in a while, I still want to do something very realistic (I won’t even get into “photorealistic” dreams at this point), but my heart is with the animator style. Joe Mad, you’re the man. A nice blend of both worlds, and I would give a lot be have that ability.
Writing. Nothing so far. I did a couple of things on DeviantArt, but nobody read it. If they did, they didn’t comment. And I haven’t had the time to sit and just … write. There’s so much more stuff that has to happen, and I wish I could do it more seriously. I want to do it. I want to do it bad. Somebody let me do it!! ;)
All right, kids, baby’s fussing, and unpacking doesn’t happen by psychokenesis, no matter how I try. Take care, behave, and be happy.
God bless each of you.
Monday, October 03, 2005
My wife got some unpacking done, and she’s really been great. I came home from work early – left at noon – and simply passed out at about 4:45 p.m. I hope, with everything in me, that I won’t be up all night. I need to get a good night’s sleep if I want to beat this stupid cold. It’s not fun to miss so much work right out of the gate, in the first month of being employed at a place that seems kind of … I don’t know. Different. More … uptight, I guess.
So, I have to watch my P’s and Q’s, and make sure that I do the things they want. What they seem to want is to have me assume more and more MS Access development projects from the guy who’s “training” me, so he can move on. With all that in front of me, I have to adjust the way I think about things and handle my priorities. I have to try and do more faster, and that’s not going to be easy. I’ve never been a developer before, and that’s a bit disconcerting. It’s a new arena, and I feel like I need more hand-holding than I should.
Ah, well. I’ll do what I can. If you’re a praying person, any prayers you want to toss up on my behalf are welcome.
So, the passage of time has afforded me an opportunity to look over the drawing that I put up over the weekend on various sites, and I must say, I’m not happy with it. I’m going to re-do it, but I’m not sure how. I’ve seen some really great marker work done lately, and I don’t have any markers, but I’ll look at doing something in ink. I think it would be good for me.
On the programming front … well, there is no programming front right now. I have to get cracking on that ASAP, but right now, the unpacking takes precedence. I don’t have any way of working efficiently right now, and I’ll have to review and start over. So, when that starts up, it’s something on which I have to put a lot of emphasis. I just don’t have a lot of confidence in myself right now and I’m not sure I’ll survive where I am for a year.
Prayers. Sorry to be greedy.
Artistically speaking, I’m struggling again. I go through this on a cyclical basis. I get into it, I get going good, and I hit a wall wherein my art seems to actually get worse. I think, in these instances, I need to work on the drills for life-drawing, but that’s not as easy to do as it is in a classroom setting. I have to see what’s around me, with what subjects I have to work, and what time is available. The other variable is the baby. She’s not undemanding, and isn’t getting any better right now.
Well … enough complaining. I tried several sketches today, and they were so-so. I tried it in four different ways: realistic (as much so as I can do with my limited ability), semi-realistic, value-based and cartoony. I really want to learn that whole animation-style, that “Joe Maduriera” feel to my stuff, or even more so, toward Skottie Young, or more so. I don’t know. I just want to get there and I can’t seem to do it no matter what I do. I know I’ll hear about life drawing, life drawing, life drawing, but I’ve yet to see anyone explain the “magic” in life drawing that enables you to do other styles, or even develop one of your own. Any ideas, anyone?
Well, I’ve got to run. I’ll see if posting those sketches yields any feedback from the “gang” out here on the ‘Net, but I’m really, REALLY hesitant to post on PencilJack anymore. I get nothing for crits, and even if I do, they don’t really direct me toward improvement; they only show me what I do wrong.
Oh well. Talk to you later, gang.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Well, I did finally unpack my art supplies and set up my desk, for the most part. That means that I can draw again, so I've been doing that a bit last night and today.
It was good to feel it again.
Last night, I worked diligently on a completely-digital drawing of Conan the Barbarian. I was thinking about submitting it to the PencilJack.com draw-off of Conan, but I haven't returned to it yet today. Also, I don't like the idea of "competing" for votes right now ... I've no confidence in my abilities at this point, and I'm still trying to figure out how to draw in the "style" that I like, which is much harder than I thought. To me, that simply highlights how lacking I am in either training or talent. Whichever is no big deal, though, because I draw only for me.
So, this morning I decided to continue with Robert E. Howard's barbarian hero, and I did this one. This is the rendering I did, and I can't explain to you why the scannings never turn out as well as the original renderings do. Sorry.
At any rate, I was kind of happy with it. I did this with a "Sketch and Wash" pencil, which is nice but a bit too soft for my liking. I really want to try the "wash" part though, so I'll leave it around.
I also tried some Batman sketches in a new style (my cartoony look), but they're roughs, and I don't want to clutter the blog sight.
I'll take today to draw again, and just rest. I'm a bit under the weather, but I feel better now than I did a few hours ago. I think if I can survive the morning tomorrow (Monday), I'll be okay. I hope so; I just can't afford to miss work very often.
Well, the football games are on and I really need to relax, so good-bye for now, and may you all have great days.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
There’s a thing on art forums called a “jamboree.” I can’t really tell how that word is used, but it seems to mean either a collection of drawings wherein the artwork meets the criteria set by the person declaring the “jam” (diminutive of “jamboree”), or it means a collaborative effort on a particular project relating to something most closely resembling a comic book. That is to say, you can enter a “jig” in a jamboree which fits the jamboree’s criteria, or you can be part of a “jam” wherein you participate in a collaborative effort to turn out something genuinely comic-esque.
So, when I saw this “jam” over on PJ, I was very excited to see what it would produce, and I haven’t been disappointed so far. But, I couldn’t allow it to go by without trying to participate in this one. I’ve not participated in any draw-offs, any jams, or any collaborations since being a member, mostly because of time limitations, but I felt I could do a decent job on this one if I tried. I should, however, have done something about the color of the pencil lead. I thought I’d like working in only red … and I do, but it doesn’t necessarily scan or read well.
And I didn’t do a background, but I want to add one if I get the time. I should honestly work at this once in a while; I’ve not done a full composition for a long, long time. I want to ensure that I can do a full composition. I’m not entirely confident of that.
Well, anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s my jig:
Of course, this isn’t full-size, but you get the idea. Actually, it looks better smaller, frankly.
This could be a cool avatar, now that I think about it.So anyway, I want to do more stuff with a purpose like this, because even this fifteen minute to half-hour jig was a ton of fun, and it gave me a purpose for my art. I need that, I think. I need to have a direction for it, so that I can do things differently than I have before. To be really, really honest with you, whomever you may be, I should have sat down and spend some time on this; I should have done the background first, then added Zim in at the end. I should, in short, do things right, and having a direction for my art like this helps.
I added this one later in the same thread; it was sort of a request.
I wonder if I can do sequentials? Hmm.
God bless you, all.
Friday, September 30, 2005
Well, I know that my DA journal will hold my journal entries, but I don't know how much or for how long. Also, I wanted a place to put more intimate thoughts. I have to figure out a way to get myself into a position to edit one entry, or create only one entry, and have it go to both places. When I get that figured out, I'm all set. :)
I guess I can refer friends that are supportive there back over here, or something like that.
Anyway, I'm really not sure why I'm starting a blog. I think, because it's free, I can post both my intimate thoughts, my strong feelings, and a place where I can be less intense. I don't like being confrontational on the 'Net with other artists, for some reason. Now, put me in an apologetics room or something, and when I'm in shape, it's another story. Right now, I'm a sissy, and I don't want to argue or fight with anyone.
Ugh. It's disgusting to say.
Okay, what I mean is, there are some things worth fighting for, and many, many more about which fighting is not worth it. Most things don't merit fighting, frankly. So, when I'm visiting my favorite forums, I usually don't post, or only say nice things. When I don't, it always comes back to haunt me.
So this is the beginning. It gives me a place, if I'm not mistaken, to post both my textual ideas and my artistic ones. I wonder if I can copy my artwork here? An art blog would be cool, and a LOT of other artists are doing it. As long as the sites remain free, there is a lot of art I want to publish. I just have to get it out of my head first.
I wonder about a webcomic, too. Could I do that? Do I have the stuff it takes to publish an ongoing comic, and be consistent with it? Hmm. More to ponder.
Well ... I have little to say here tonight. I have to post in DA still, and since that's ongoing, I suppose I can make the transition over the weekend. Maybe I'll do that.
Take care and God bless, all.