Friday, May 26, 2006

Drawing Up A Storm!

No picture today. I’m busy doing more pencil work on the sketches before I meet with the author on Monday. There is supposed to be a dog character in the book, but have yet to get any reference photos, so for now I am just doodling in a big, dopey kind of spaniel/setter/lab thing. I sure hope her dog isn’t a tiny Yorkie!

The more time I spend drawing, the better “in synch” my hands feel with what my head and heart are seeing. This can get a bit rusty when you’ve been turning most things into squares for so long. What helps this time, like with the Dragon*Con portfolio pieces, is that I am working on stitching designs and drawings back and forth, so neither skill will get rusty. I’m still incredibly hard on myself and yet proud of what my hands are producing at the same time. Isn’t that the weirdest thing about being creative?

This quote I stumbled on today by accident while putting a book away sums it up very nicely:

‘Tis to create, and in creating live
A being more intense, that we endow
With what form our fancy, gaining as we give
The life we image.


That really is the high of a creative lifestyle... that from your imagination can come ideas, designs, stories, kingdoms, adventures... the possibilities are endless!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

and Pepperoni!

I got for a walk in the woods this morning on the trails near the house with a friend. The weather has been terrible all week and we were just so glad to get out and walk instead of using a treadmill or doing workout DVDs!

There is this one stump that we pass on our walk where there are always squirrels or chickadees like this little one. They are wonderful reminders not to take problems to seriously and to just get on with the actual living of life.

Today was a great day... though my head feels a bit like it will explode. I worked on the book dummy a bit more making some changes to layouts and then started on one of the more complex full size sketches. When you draw for a project like this, you actually create the pictures twice as large as they will appear in the final book. This way, you not only have the room to put in more detail, when the image is reduced, everything looks crisper and cleaner. If you have to enlarge something, ever mistake is magnified, but if you reduce it, things that seem to jump out at you in the full size version are often harder to see and details are much tighter.

It is so satisfying to plunge back into the hours of drawing, even if I still guard against being too critical with myself. Fun to have the iPod playing my favourite tunes, though I hate the ear buds. I’m trying to save up for a dock so that we can just pop the iPod into something that acts as a stereo for it, but mundane things like computer cartridges and groceries keep getting in the way!

Today was also about possibilities... and that was what made my head feel like it would burst. I spent almost an hour on the phone with my ISP guy this morning learning about PHP, CMS and all the possibilities for websites that are out there now or coming down the line that will evolve how we set things up on the web. I’ve been toying around with making further changes to my site, removing some of the heavy content that I wrote in SimpleText and eventually evolving it to keep pace with how my freelance illustration and other projects are merging with my identity as a cross stitch designer. The possibilities out there are rather mind boggling! Aren’t vertical learning curves FUN?

One thing that I keep noticing though, is how definite I am in my visual tastes. iWeb has been driving me NUTS with the lack of ability to change the templates around or even just alter colours. I like the look of one version, but orange has to be one of the colours that I dislike the most of the whole colour spectrum. It’s probably because I look so horrid when I wear that colour and only learned to like pumpkin pie as an adult!

Finally, today was also about Pepperoni. I just love alliterations and couldn’t resist throwing that one in since it was a late night stumbling block. No, I did not get into an eating frenzy... rather the opposite. After finally getting the girls to bed, the laundry away, the dishes done from when we threw everything in the sink to race out to Bethany’s Sparks meeting and her “fly-up” to Brownies, I had to make lunches as well. If this week has taught me nothing else, it has made me realize just how lucky I am to have married a partner!

I went to make Bethany a pepperoni roll up and all we had is whole wheat tortillas. If she can get used to spaghetti being brown, maybe she won’t notice that her tortilla has changed colour? My youngest is very definite in her tastes. There must be NO mustard, margarine or mayonnaise in her wrap, just pepperoni, all beef salami and a bit of grated cheese. Not sliced... but grated. I stood there laying out the little circles on a larger circle and had a crazy moment of wanting to make a face with cheese hair or neat pattern. Does the creative image loving part of my brain ever truly go to sleep? I also marveled at the fact that I used to adore that meat and now find it difficult to even handle. Perhaps it is because I am getting picky about what is in my food. Meats like this are just too suspect. What gets chopped up and stuffed back into that shape?

At least, tired as I am tonight, I could still think about making pictures with whatever was at hand... even if it was pepperoni!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Creativity Over Pain...
This morning was horrid. I hate going to the dentist at the best of times. I’ve never frozen well and luckily my dentist here has a new technique that drills a tiny hole into the jaw and then puts the freezing in there where all the nerves are... but working on replacing a back temporary filling to put in something permanent did not go as well as the last time. Unlike the pain of labour, I had nothing productive to show for the suffering.

What I did discover, to my surprise, is that it is possible to think and be creative even in he midst of pain and tears. Thinking about a layout that I was wrestling with for this children’s book actually helped get me through the worst of the drilling. The author had a certain idea for the layout over a center page spread, but as I sketched it out, the perspective for the scene ends up being a bit too long and boring. I came back home after the dentist with my mouth still very frozen and throbbing to dive into thumbnails of other possibilities that took me almost through lunchtime. That was actually a good thing. Anyone who has ever tried to eat while the last traces of freezing is still wearing off knows just how messy things can get. Luckily there were no hidden cameras to catch this dragon drooling!

No wonder athletes are told to visualize a course or game in their minds. No wonder cancer patients try to work on positive images or imagine the battle going on in their cells being victorious. Our ability to imagine is one of the things that truly sets us apart from the other inhabitants of this planet. Our urge to make marks, tell stories, sing, dance and celebrate all that is creative makes us unique. It can lift us out of horrid times, give us hope that things can change and can soothe us in the midst of turmoil.

This is today’s lesson, learned unexpectedly. That amid the shifting pieces of pain in my kaleidoscope today, I could still find patterns of beauty, imagine other images and endure that moment until I could come home and feel healed just by picking up my pencil to draw a scene.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Windows Opening...
Doors Closing...
Doors Revolving and Learning
At Last to Embrace Change!

I think there must be a deep pit somewhere that eats time! The month of May has just flown by with computer glitches and lots of change in my life. I was trying to set up a separate blogging component to my website... but that just proved to be too problematic with the program I was trying to use. I have a handle on a new possibility, but for now, after many abortive attempts and weird glitches, it is time to just do another entry on Blogger.

You will notice a big change soon... after many years of wanting this to be a forum where I could just "vent" without worrying about the feedback, the comments feature on Dragon Musings has now been turned on. Many of you have asked me to consider this feature for a while now and with all the change that is going to happen in my life in the next 6 months, I think that it is about time. I tried to get it to work on this post, but I don't think it is working, so it's time to ask Blogger for help.

So what has happened since the last entry?

First of all, Toronto was an absolute BLAST!! It reminded me of just how important it is to be creative and to keep learning new things. One of the reasons that I was trying to get the blog moved to my site was so that I could add more pictures. I really want to show off the little basket that I made because I had SUCH fun learning a new skill like that!

I can't wait for the fall show either because I am teaming up with two people I love to work with, Teresa Wentzler and Doug Kreinik, to offer stitchers a special project that will hopefully have their fingers itching to stitch!! You'll get more details later, but for now, know that we are having a blast planning this. Teresa and I always have fun rooming together as well... though it has sometimes digressed into a giggle fit.

So what doors are closing? I haven't given up on cross stitch. In fact, I am still working on the releases for the show in Charlotte this August which we plan to do as a family. I am also branching out into something needlework related, but that lets me explore colour and texture in a whole new way as well as play with sparkly things. Dragons really love things that sparkle!!

What has kept me busy, excited and enraptured for the past 2 weeks is the chance to illustrate a children's book over the summer!! I am just over the moon as I prepare sketches for a local author's second book which she would like to publish before Thanksgiving!! After almost 30 years of wanting to "grow up and draw the pictures for books", I am finally getting the chance to show off what I am capable of. Thrilled just doesn't begin to describe the feeling! Of course I will still wrestle with my demons every time I get a sketch finished and wonder if it couldn't be a little better or a little bit more "perfect", but I have finally learned to just embrace the possibilities of each day and each moment that is offered.

The fact that I found out about the illustration job 3 days before I received the letter about not passing this year's jury for the Dragon*Con art show made that news a little more bearable. I do have an incredibly "cutsey" style. Works from that portfolio will be appearing on my site in the next few days as I wrestle to get the updates done for June. Nick is away at a conference in Halifax until Friday, so I am now getting a taste of what he goes through as a single parent when I jaunt off to trade shows!

After the first initial feeling of "so what didn't you like about my stuff?", all I really felt about not getting into Dragon*Con was a sense of relief at not being pulled in 3 directions at once this summer. Trying to get over 22 illustrations done for the children's book will be challenging enough while still getting Santa's Dragon and any other new releases ready for the show. As wonderful a city as Atlanta was, there are other cons and other ways to get my artwork out there that don't involve spending over a thousand dollars in travel, hotel and bay rental.

Doors closing,... windows opening... doors revolving. When it comes right down to it, it is all about learning to embrace CHANGE.

The journey of these past 2 years has taught me that change does not have to be something that is feared or dreaded.

Think of a kaleidoscope. Thousands of shifting pieces of glass or plastic that tumble around in a tube to form something beautiful thanks to the mirrors that help create the patterns. Nothing stays the same forever, no pattern gets carved in stone. Everything shifts and changes and turns into something beautiful again. Not the same as it was, but beautiful none the less.

I am trying to now live each day looking for the new and beautiful pattern emerging from the chaos. I am trying to embrace change as something inspiring and creative, instead of scary. I'll keep you posted on how I make out! Maybe you'll join me on the journey.