Art Updates

So of course, weeks after expressing hope and optimism about the way COVID was trending…. well, you know.

I’m still incredibly happy to live in Massachusetts, where 75% of the adult population is fully vaxxed, where my kid’s school district and my own district both have mask mandates, where my city is doing block party vaccination clinics.

But yeah…. even here, it still sucks.

Right now, I’m trying not to panic about Bear’s return to school — I’m hammering into his head, with probably annoying regularity, the necessity of keeping his mask on no matter what — and checking literally ever two to three days for updates about vaccines for his age group. They still think they might get emergency authorization for 5 to 11s by Sept./Oct. and if that’s the case, then we will just hold tight and muddle through until then. Fingers crossed.

I do wish they were offering in-person classes as an opt-in model, which would give parents flexibility and keep the numbers down — I would likely opt-in, myself, since the last year of online school ended in a near nervous breakdown for me, and a child on meds and enrolled in therapy, so clearly online school wasn’t exactly working for us.

Anyway. I’m trying right now to focus on those things that I actually have some control over. I’ve been producing less art lately, but the quality of said art I think has made a sharp and noticeable improvement.

I’ve been seeking out zines to apply for, and have two on the horizon that cater to very niche interests of mine, both of which are still in either the interest check stages or just closing out mod apps. I’m guessing I will need to apply, so I’m pretty happy that I have a few prides of work to send in when the time comes.

We have been keeping active in out safe circles — we’ve had a few game nights, some sleepovers, a few play dates, and some visitors. Life goes on, I suppose, and I’m hopeful for better times ahead.

Stay safe and sane.

The Question of Realism/What is Art?

You can tell I’m not really “in” the art community — uh, “the art community” here being defined, I guess, by the YouTube art scene, because that’s where I spend most of my time consuming artistic content — because I keep uncovering debates and arguments that I honestly didn’t even know were things.

For instance, I had no idea that “is realism real art?” was a debated topic, but, um, apparently it is?

I was blown away. I… don’t know why, because my time in fannish online spaces has proven to me that literally everything generates discourse these days. I guess because I felt like, growing up, any talk of art, or visits to museum, etc., focused so very much on lauding those works that most accurately represented reality — the paintings depicting flowing hair you wanted to run your fingers through, piles of fabric where you could practically feel the texture, fruits and breads and wine that made your stomach rumble and your mouth water. And we would gape in awe because of how closely it mirrored the subject, because of how precisely and skilled the artist was at directly capturing the scene in front of them.

Don’t get me wrong, we marveled at impressionists and abstract artists and surrealists too, because of their bold use of color, or their composition, or how visceral and unnerving certain paintings were. But there was always a definite sense of awe when confronted with the work of particularly skilled realistic painter. It never even crossed my mind that what I was looking at wasn’t art, you know?

I guess the argument, as far as I can tell, is that while realism is a skill, it’s not so much “art,” as there is no “creativity” involved. The artists aren’t bringing anything of themselves to the piece.

I… again, I wasn’t sure how to respond. I don’t know that I ever consciously assigned a hierarchy to what makes art, art. I don’t think I ever looked at a piece and weighed its worth on a scale using a set of variable metrics. Art was good if it was skillfully done, whether that be what I guess we’d call “traditional technical skill” (i.e., the drawing/painting is realistic and an accurate representation of the depicted subjects), or if was skilled in the sense that it was deliberately and intentionally styled, and showed technical mastery in other ways, such as composition and color. But I never thought of the “skill” and the “art” as being different things.

And going even further, I’ve seen a very popular definition of art being a work that elicits a response. I know, for me, my favorite artists have always elicited a “wow” response in me; something that impressed me on an intellectual (“The technique here is stunning”), emotional (“Looking at this piece makes me viscerally uncomfortable”) or purely aesthetic (“I find this beautful, and it brings me joy”) level. Does that response become meaningless if it’s tied directly to my perception of the artist’s technical skills? Weren’t many of the painters we now consider canonical masters elevated to that level by virtue of their technical talent?

I mean, I supposed I do understand the idea that art should be transformative in someway, but you can very much create photorealistic surrealism, especially if you use a composite of reference images (which is what I do — use a composite of reference images, not create hyper-realistic art, ha. Not even close, my dude). Does that make it more valid as art? Or, put aside surrealism — if someone created a composite image of any kind, drawing on multiple sources to create a scene of their own making, is that a creative endeavor and does it elevate the piece to “real art?”

What makes art, art, to you?


I first became aware of this as a point of contention while watching Temi Danso, who is a hyper-realistic artist as well as an entertaining YouTuber. This is her take on the subject (and her take brings up another good point which is — what if an artist has aphantasia (as my wife does)? Does that disallow them from doing “art,” or does that make them less valid or valuable as an artist? Is there maybe just a hint of ableism hiding away in there?)

A-to-Z Challenge: Fox/Fire/Fashionable

No one seemed to know who she was, if the furrowed brows, and the ill-hidden whispers were any indication. Certainly, in theory, that was part of the point of a masquerade, in theory; mystery, anonymity. But in plain reality, a birthmark, a throaty laugh, the twist of a lip in a familiar smile, the cadence of speech — there was littler mystery as to who anyone behind the paper and silk masks were. David had greeted many of the guests by name, wrapped his arms around them in a familiar embrace.

But she… she was different.

“So, how do you know the host?” he asked, sipping his wine when he turned to the table they were sharing. She tipped her head to the side, observed him from below the frames of her red and golf-foil mask.

“Intimately,” she said, a smile twisting the corner of her lips.

He choked. She laughed.

“Sorry,” she said. “I couldn’t resist. But honestly, it’s a long story, and not nearly as interesting as you’d like.”

“Oh? How would you know what I like?”

Her eyes flashed, gold and luminescent in the dim light.

“I have some idea,” she said. The curl of her lip revealed a glint of teeth, ivory white and unnaturally sharp.

He swallowed. She held out a hand, slender-fingered and elegant. Her nails shone crimson and gold like her mask, sharpened to a fine point.

“Come with me and we can see if I’m right,” she said.


Day Six, and one day behind — again. I know, I know, this is a repeat of every year. My brain isn’t working so good right now, guys. I’m in a slump — partly hormone-fueled, I’d wager — and having a hard time getting out. Still, every little step forward is a win. And however unsatisfied I am with any given entry (see the Insta caption for that), I have to keep in mind that it’s all supposed to be conceptual this month. I’m only putting together blueprints in April. Final products will be assembled in May.

That being said, the prose piece here was fully stream of consciousness, and written directly in the text editor as I was assembling this entry, and I’ll be honest — I’m pretty proud of this little bit of writing. It’s been ages since I’ve written anything — let alone prose — but I have been uncharacteristically happy with how the writing for this month has gone so far.

Anyway, in an attempt to get myself out of my mental slump, I think moving around and perhaps some chores are in order, so I will be doing that soon after I hit publish.

Stay safe and sane, everyone.

Take a Chance

I started this year off determined to take more risks as a creative.

There have been ups and downs to that this year, obviously. I feel like my writing has been seriously neglected, but that, to be fair, was a conscious decision; particularly since quarantine began, come day’s end, I feel so mentally burnt out that writing is not enjoyable, it’s frustrating and stressful. Drawing and painting feel much more a function of muscle memory, something I can not only do on autopilot, but something that actually seems to turn out better the less I think about it.

That being said, I did do a little writing, something along the lines of twenty or so poems, several of which I’m actually rather fond of, and in the meantime, my drawing and painting skills have grown in the leaps and bounds.

Not to say I’m “skilled,” by the by. I have quite a long way to go. But I’ve definitely grown.

Towards the beginning of the year, when this new philosophy of creative growth was still fresh in my mind and was something I was still enthusiastic about, I took what felt like a huge leap for me and submitted three drawings (which, looking back even from nine months on, are so much more rudimentary than what I’m currently producing) to a local art exhibition that was supposed to be elevating the work of women, femme, and non-binary artists in my community. It was an exciting prospect, and while I was almost sure I wouldn’t get selected for the exhibition, I figured the experience of submitting, even if I got rejected, would be good for me. So I submitted a week before the deadline.

Five days after submitting, we went into lockdown. The gallery show was listed as postponed. My city has since never left the red zone, and no mentioned has ever been made of what became of the exhibition plans.

I was bummed out for ages about losing the chance to get either accepted or rejected; it felt like I took this leap — which was comparatively small, but for me felt emotionally huge — only to be left in limbo. I didn’t know when I would get the opportunity to put myself out there again.

Then, last month, a mutual on Twitter (hi, I have Twitter! I have like, 19 followers because I’m still learning not to just be a lurker, so it’d be awesome if you wanna be Twitter buddies or whatever) began taking applications for a Tarot project for body/fat positive artists, with the project benefitting a charity for trans/nonbinary/gnc BIPOC — I mean, honestly, how could I not apply?

As I saw more and more people express interest, and I saw the art they produced, I became pretty well convinced that there was no way I was going to get in. And that would be okay! The applicants were all super talented, I’m just starting out, and it would be okay. But I picked the three piece I was most proud of, filled out the application, and sent it in.

Yesterday was the day when the artists were contacted.

I didn’t hear anything most of the day. I was trying to feel comfortable with the presumption that I had simply not made it.

It was around 8:30 pm when the email came. I didn’t make the cut. I was honestly… fine. A little let down, but the knowing will always, for me, be better than not knowing. Onward and upwards. That was my response. I would look for the next thing (but still planned to pre-order the deck when it came out, obvs. Fat Tarot is a fucking awesome idea, full stop).

At 6:00pm today, I logged on and had another email.

Acceptance — disregard last email.

There had been a mix-up.

I was in. I am in.

And while I’ve spent so long coming to terms with and accepting that there is no such things as a “fake” artist — that an artist is someone who produces art, regardless of quality or subject matter, and who lives their lives in a creative way — there is no way to deny how uplifting some external validation of your efforts are.

I am part of a collaborative art project.

I am an artist.