I said I was going to do redraws of my five favorite A-to-Z Entries, and damn it, I meant it.
Original sketch for my “A” entry:
And here is the finished drawing, Aldwyn & Amara:
Surprisingly happy with this one; I love the rays of light filtering down!! And the beading on her tunic!! And the highlights on Aldwyn’s wing!
I love far more about this than what I hate. I don’t even think I hate, to be honest; there are things I could have done better, but I hate none of it.
How refreshing is that??
I am working on wrapping up some stuff I started prior to A-to-Z — some of it from long before A-to-Z, to the point where it’s noticeably stylistically rougher, but I’m still fond of it, I’ve put in quite a few hours on it, and it’s a goal of mine to not abandon projects anymore, so I will likely still wrap and post it at some point.
Related to art and projects, a big project that I was an artist on recently, The Fat Folks Tarot Deck, is live for pre-orders! The art is stunning, and includes the work of 77 artists in just as many styles. This is a body-positive, fat-positive, queer-positive, trans-positive Tarot Deck, and all the proceeds go towards Trans Lifeline! Please, if you are someone who is into Tarot, consider picking up a deck! This is my piece for my card, the Nine of Pentacles:
Wait, I…. didn’t I just do one of these? I was a little less than a week late getting my January write-up out, and February is a short month — two facts, both of which I was aware of, but — holy hell, that went fast.
February was sadly not especially productive, art-wise. I started a few sketches that I’m going to turn into more finished pieces. I think there are four of them total, three of which I’ve posted as WIPs on social media:
The dandelion eyes one is what I’m currently working on digitally painting, and has been the bane of my existence for over a week. I was experimenting with different kinds of shading on it, none of which were turning out right. I’m not saying it was a waste, because I definitely learned some things about how to shade skin, and about how I, stylistically, may want to utilize these techniques (or not) from piece to piece. So, it was definitely a worthwhile experiment, but in the end I wound up scrapping two layers of shading that took, all told, probably about eight hours, and that unquestionably does something to your morale, to see that work go down the drain (even if the skills you learned can be used elsewhere later).
To be honest, most of my brain space this month was taken up trying to schedule my COVID vaccination! My district let me know that because of my position in specialized programming, I qualified to get vaccinated — I just need to set up an appointment. Which, if you’ve attempted it yet, is far, far easier said than done. Massachusetts has a fair number of vaccinations sites, including one about a mile from my house, which was exciting to me until I saw that it was booked literally through the next phase of vaccinations. There were waiting lists at the two next-closest locations, and the openings for the MassVax cites went as quickly as they showed up — a slot would open at Fenway when I refreshed the vaxfinder page, saying it was updated “just now,” and by the time I clicked through, they were booked solid again. I’d get notice of a dozen openings at the Doubletree, and when midway through registering, was told someone got there quicker.
There were tears, I’m not going to lie.
This past Tuesday, I was waiting to start a round of consultations I do twice a week just before 10 am. I was antsy and looked at the clock; I had about a half hour before I was meeting with anyone. So, almost idly, I loaded up the VaxFinder.
There were 1100 slots just opened at Gillette Stadium. For a Saturday.
I leapt on that so fast, I swear to God, I think I got literal fucking whiplash.
By the time I was finished booking — a process that took maybe five, six minutes? — they were booked up again.
But I got it. I made it. I got my first dose of the Moderna vaccine yesterday, February 27th, at 11:30 am.
My next dose is March 27th, also a Saturday, and about a week before my wife should be qualified to get her own first dose. I’m ecstatic. I know this isn’t the end — this is the beginning of a slow re-opening of our lives. We will be wearing masks for the foreseeable future (I am a-ok with that), we will still be limiting our social circle and checking in with folks before we go to see them, but there will be a little more space to — literally and figuratively — breathe.
The EMT giving me my shot yesterday (an actually really cute young thing named Sean): Is this your first dose? Me: Yup! Him, throwing his arms up in a celebratory gesture: Such an exciting day!
It really, really was.
Here’s to a more productive March.
Stay safe and sane. And if you can — get vaccinated. It feel so good to breathe again.
I want to go back and see when it was, exactly, that I bought my tablet, but honestly, it doesn’t really matter. The fact that I’ve had it for any length of time without breaking it out to take it for a test run is sacrilige, quite frankly. And I know for a fact that I can count the time in months rather than days or even weeks. Totally unforgivable.
I finally started in on an analogue drawing a did a couple of weeks ago. After yet another long bout of producing little-to-nothing, I sat down on a day off and decided to just commit something to paper for the fun of it. And honestly, despite having no pre-conceived notion of what I was going to do (or — let’s be honest — because I had no pre-concieved notions of what I was going to do), I had a blast, and was quite content with what I came up with.
Last Friday I had nothing but consults on the docket until 1:25 pm, with — I knew — a high probability of getting stoof up. So I staked out space in front of my wife’s computer, logged into my virtual meeting rooms, and loaded up PaintShop.
My consultees never showed, but I started teaching myself rudimentary, inefficient digital painting.
As I’m sure is obvious, this is pretty early in the painting process; I’ve laid down flat color as part of the background layer, and am adding more layer with contouring, highlights, shadows, etc. It’s bare-bones basic, and probably an incredibl inefficient and messy way of doing things, but… you know, I’m figuring out how to make the machine do what I want it to do. Maybe not in the easiest way, maybe not the fastest way… but actually in a pretty fun way? Like, it’s cool thinking, “hey, I’d really like to get her hair looking a certain way,” and then puttering around and figuring out my own homebrew way of getting that to happen.
Maybe I’ll actually watch/read a tutorial some day. That day isn’t today. Probably not tomorrow, either. But some day.
I spent another hour and a half working on it today, and I’m hoping to wrap it up by the weekend (I’m bound by my work schedule and by Kira’s computer use; if she’s home, I can’t use her computer, so it’s going to take longer than I’d like it to, but I will get there eventually).
I’ve had a lot on my mind, as of late; I’m sure I’ve mentioned it.
This is the crossroads of those two things.
A few days ago, my husband of ten years became my wife of ten years. Or rather, revealed she was my wife of ten years — coming out is about recognition and revelation of what has always been there, however deeply it may have been buried.
One of people’s first questions over the last few days when she’s been telling people she’s trans is for them to ask — either bluntly (as my father-in-law did) or with more subtle, gentle language — if she and I were staying together.
I mean — yes, of course. We love each other, and gender is incidental to me at best (my own gender being fairly ambiguous, and my sexuality being pretty flexible). Any fears or concerns I have — and I do have them, don’t get me wrong — are focused entirely on the cruelty and intolerance that others are capable of, not of my own feelings of attraction or affection towards her. The relationship between she and I, our own interpersonal give-and-take, has not changed. Will not change, at least not directly or dramatically from this, and at least not any more or less than any relationship shifts and changes over the years as both parties themselves grow, and shift, and change.
I cannot imagine not being in this with her for the long-haul. I cannot imagine her not being in my life.
And so, as Pride Month winds down, and my wife begins living her life authentically, I painted our closet doors with our Pride flags.
From left to right: genderqueer and bisexual (mine); trans and lesbian (hers).
The weather has turned from warm to hot; the typical summer thunderstorms have been rolling through all day, teasing a break in the humidity.
We’ve been invited to some social events — all outdoors, all socially distanced, all COVID safety guidelines compliant — and are hoping to get out a little more frequently with smaller groups of friends in the warm weather. I know there must be some mental health benefits to seeing people, and I know (intellectually) there are safe ways to do that, so we should probably make an effort. I miss the sun. I miss seeing people’s faces.
Stay safe, sane, and inside — or outside (masked and socially distant, of course).
I’ve been trying to overhaul the house. I get bored easily — with my personal appearance, with projects, with my house. I’ve changed up the former two multiple times since quarantine started — check out all my art projects, my to-the-skin undercut, my pink and green hair — so it was only a matter of time.
In lieu of bouncing off the walls, I’ve opted to paint them.
Done on a whim, with masking tape straight from the Dollar Tree, and Apple Barrel paints. The metallic gold clung a little too tenaciously to the tape so as I was peeling it off, it took a decent chunk of the triangle off with it. My solution to that is keeping the bottle of gold paint and a paintbrush nearby, and every time I think of it, brushing on some new paint. It’s looking better and better everyday.
Colors are Apple Barrel’s Black, Antique White, Pewter Gray, Nutmeg Brown, Chocolate Brown, and Folk Art’s Pure Gold.
More murals might be in my future, I think. I’ll let you know.
Since dropping my two challenges, I’ve gotten my house mostly clean, started up a new project at a fandom wiki, and done two pieces of art, so overall, I do feel like I made the right call.
In the past I’ve used monthly challenges to force myself to do creative work, and while he challenge would push me to create stuff for a month, I would then go into creative hibernation for basically the rest of the year. The last several months, I have been actively creative. The challenges were great fun in getting me to conceptualize ideas and open up my mind to what could be art fodder (song lyrics! What a fucking treasure trove of inspiration! But also, simple things! Women lounging in bed! People gathered at a funeral! It doesn’t have to be a sweeping and grandiose landscape, there is beauty in the mundane!)
While visual art has been sort of booming (or at least, not stagnating), I do have a lot of work to do to kickstart my writing habit outside the confines of poetry challenges. I’m going to have to set aside some time everyday to just, I don’t know, free write? Try to construct/compose a poem? Put pen to paper, at the very least. I’ll let you know how that goes.
But none of that is happening today, because today is the one-day, stay-at-home, mini-GISH! I’ve talked about GISH in other iterations of this blog (which really isn’t helpful for a large number of people currently here, but long-time readers may recognize the name). GISH is normally a week-long multi-media international scavenger hunt combining bizarre challenges, acts of creativity, radical kindness, and general weirdness, run by Supernatural’s Misha Collins. It’s one of the highlights of my year, and I’ve headed up my own team since 2014. This year our regular hunt will be in August — whether or not the quarantine is still in effect, with items being modified for those of us still under quarantine — but this one is designed as a fully at-home hunt, with proceeds directly benefiting COVID-19 relief efforts and feeding low-income kids. Kick-off is at 3 pm EST, and it runs for a full 24 hours; I’ll be able to share what we’ve completed by 3:30 pm tomorrow, so I hope to have some fun stuff to share with you all by then.
Until then, these are the last two pieces I completed. I have severely mixed feelings about the drawing; I love, love, love the monstrous mouth. I think the shading and coloration on it are wonderful. I am upset by her head and face; I messed up on the mouth, and the lines for her hair were faint and I definitely outlined too “wide,” i.e., her head is bigger than I would have wanted it. The biggest issue I have, though, is my cheap pencils don’t blend and don’t give the coverage I want, I need to invest in wax-based pencils like Prismacolor.
The painting is not 100% complete, but I like the concept and am moderately happy with how it’s turning out. Acrylic will probably never be “my” medium, but I feel like I’m getting incrementally better.
I just want to end by saying, I know I talk about feeling the need to make “good use” of this time, and I want to clarify: we are experiencing trauma. I know that, and I need other people to know that. Everyone copes with trauma differently. Keeping busy and doing projects make me feel better; they help me manage my anxiety, they make me feel proud and accomplished.
That being said, I will gently suggest that if you are mentally and emotionally capable of doing so, finding a hobby or a past-time to fill the time, simply because in my experience it makes time pass more smoothly and gives my mind something else to focus on. But it’s not a competition. You don’t owe other people “productivity” during this time, and maybe your new “hobby” is finally binging every show you always swore you’d “get around” to, or developing a five-star island in Animal Crossing. That’s fine. If that’s helping you cope, that’s wonderful. But try to find something to keep you afloat; you don’t have to defend what that is to anyone.
Ah, I hate to do it. But I think it’s for the best.
I am proud to have made it to April 20th; given the momentous shift my life (our lives) has taken in the last month and a half, I am incredibly and sincerely proud of anyone who has continued to create, especially for themselves, for the sheer purpose of creating, and I include myself in that; I’ve not produced the greatest work of my life during the past twenty days, but I’ve created something every day, and I have a lot of raw material to work and rework and build off of.
All this to say, I’m dropping both challenges, both A-to-Z and NaPoWriMo.
I’m planning on continuing drawing, painting, and writing, but I’ve opted to also take on several other projects that, with the addition of parenting/homeschooling and maintaining a household, is making the challenges a burden rather than a fun creative exercise. I still have several ideas I’d brainstormed for upcoming songs (from A-to-Z) that I want to follow through with — it just won’t be on the work-a-day schedule.
Good luck to those still seeing this through, and I wish you all a successful final ten days.
This is a day overdue, but I had a bit more room to breathe today — no classes for either Bear or I, and my husband was home and helped alleviate the most soul-crushing of the chores (though I still have plenty to do Monday; not going to bother doing any tonight or tomorrow. I’m not a religious person, but old habits are hard to break, and I was raised with Easter being a resting day). Once Monday rolls around, I’ll have Bear’s classes, an 8:30 am class of my own, followed by training at 10 am (though I’m pretty sure I’m just going to log on while I’m folding laundry, so at least I can multitask), so I’m thinking some of tomorrow’s resting will be the far-more-enjoyable-than-chores task of working a bit on Monday’s A-to-Z.
Anyway, on to yesterdays. Acrylic, once again, on a 12” x 16” canvas.
Hurdles Even Here
So it started in your ovaries A stone, a seedling Our bones entwined A warning from the orderlies A bulge for bleeding
This will take it’s time
So it all ran down the telephone And saw me clearly Only nine years old Calmly cast in styrofoam In my Tony Lomas When the shock takes hold
Mom, there are hurdles here That I cannot seem to clear Dad, there are demons around And though I said that I Said I’d be all right, I lied
I lied I lied I lied
So fix your brood and belly now Get your fingers wringing Get your loins unstained It’ll eat you from the inside out Until it comes out screaming Until it all falls away
Dad, there are hurdles here That I cannot seem to clear Mom, there are demons around And though I said that I Said I’d be all right, I lied
Today was the first day of official on-line learning for both my district and my son’s. He had his first virtual “morning meeting,” and followed a schedule posted on ClassDojo, and I spent time communicating with leads to get added to Google Classroom and had my first synchronous Google Meet session with my Algebra 1 class. After that, I had to handle delivery and exchange of groceries (my father dropped off milk and some treats for Bear, and I returned his hair clippers), lunches, chores, and working Bear through his Scholastic lessons as well as his class lessons. All in all, I was busy.
This is all to say, I didn’t finish today’s entry. I’m still going to post this progress shot, and I’ll post a completed shot on Saturday, when I won’t have other A-to-Z art to complete. Some of the people are still literally nothing but floating heads, no texture has been added to the trees, and shadows and highlights are perfunctory at best.
Still, while it’s neither done nor perfect (hopefully it will be closer to “perfect” when it is done), I’m proud of myself for playing with style. This is acrylic on a 16” x 20” canvas.
Here we come to a turning of the season Witness to the arc towards the sun The neighbors blessed burden within reason Becomes a burden borne of all in one And nobody, nobody knows
Let the yoke fall from our shoulders Don’t carry it all don’t carry it all We are all our hands in holders But meet this bold and brilliant sun But this I swear to all
A monument to build beneath the arbors Upon a cliff that towers towards the trees But every vessel pitching hard to starboard Lay it’s head on summer’s freckled knees And nobody, nobody knows
Let the yoke fall from our shoulders Don’t carry it all don’t carry it all We are all our hands in holders Beneath this bold and brilliant sun This I swear to all, this I swear to all
And there a wreath of trillium and ivy Laid upon the body of the boy Lazy will the long come from it’s hiding Return his quiet certitude to the soil
So raise a glass to turnings of the season And watch it as it arcs towards the sun And you must bear your neighbors burden within reason And your labors will be borne when all is done,
and nobody nobody knows
Let the yoke fall from our shoulders Don’t carry it all don’t carry it all We are all our hands in holders Beneath this bold and brilliant sun
And this I swear to all And this I swear to all And this I swear to all