Wednesday, February 22, 2017

:evolution:

With all the projects that I alluded to last week, I'm finding that to get anything done on any of them I need to work a little bit at a time on each. At least that's the method I'm going to try for now. This past week I've been progressing further on the new Homunculus doll, and it's pretty much evolving on its own, I didn't have any preset idea for this one. To be honest that's how a lot of them were produced, almost like they were creating themselves, and the last thing to emerge is a name. Not even near that part yet.





Also making sure that I can still draw, by using another Suicide Girl as subject (not in person, alas), mainly for the blue hair. I think this one will have to be done digitally to get it as intensely blue as I want it to be. Some day I will actually do a photoshoot with one of them, perhaps.


On that note, the promise of spring has me looking forward to photoshoots again, and I've been contacted by several traveling models already. Two of them of are possibly available for a session together, which would be intriguing, as so far I've only worked with one at a time. Always look for new challenges.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

:the tyranny of time:

I didn't post on Wednesday as per usual because of the issue I'm going to go into now; the lack of (free) time.

I recently unearthed some old journal entries of mine, from the early 90s. I started writing pretty regularly in 1992. It's clear from what I wrote then that I was mostly angry and frustrated, partially from the atmosphere that I felt trapped in, but also because of the lack of time to do what I really wanted, namely create art. That much hasn't changed, even if the world now has a lot more distractions. I only "discovered" the internet around 1993 or so, and that required a dial-up modem. Be glad if you've never had to depend on that method. But even then I could see the pull of it.

I voiced a lot of the struggle to create the artwork, get it seen or sold, or to actually find a job that utilized my actual talents. I've lost track of how many places that I applied to! Possibly why I don't try as hard now, although job searching is an entirely different world now too.

That said, the main purpose should be just be to create the damn artwork, not looking ahead to where it might end up. One unofficial resolution for this year was to produce more, and in that I've technically faltered so far, but what I seem to be doing is little parts of separate projects, and I'm not sure if that's the best method.

My attempts to sell Valentine-themed artwork through Etsy didn't succeed, so I need to further tweak that. The next idea is to further push my Instagram photos. I keep ordering small prints and buying small frames for them.


Progress on the new Homunculus doll has stalled. Trying to decide on what else to do with the face for now. Drastic eye makeup, and maybe an extra eye or two. And even so I spot other dolls and buy and add them to the pile of future ones.



Which is a theme in other creative avenues too. I find or buy things that I think I'll use some day in something. Found some interesting papers that can either be backgrounds or drawn/painted on themselves.


The bones keep piling up.


Haven't done a photoshoot since last spring!! But truthfully I was working on final shots from them for a good portion of this time. And I find things for future shoots, like hanging lights, and surely I can get someone to wear a cat mask or wield a samurai sword.



But the need to reschedule my life so that things get done is still there. Outside distractions are okay as long as they don't sidetrack me too far. I have to literally keep myself out of bookstores, my to-read pile is ridiculous, and am in dire need of another bookcase or two.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

:piece by piece:

As promised, I put up a framed original art piece up for sale on my Etsy page. It intentionally has a Valentine's Day theme (through my twisted eyes), so who knows, maybe someone will consider it for a last minute gift. But I'm just trying to get more of the artwork out there, a sale would be a bonus.


I also keep taking advantage of print sales that I manage to come across. Bought a ton more of these small prints of Instagram shots that I intend to put into equally small frames, and will probably add them to the shop, along with selling them at any markets and fairs that I manage to get into. Been trying to get into one of the monthly ones in Lowell, but twice so far they've passed on me, citing too many vendors applying for spaces. Try try again.


The current Homunculus doll is slowly progressing, yet if I spot another one out in my travels, I still buy it if I can. Of course I have no idea what this one will become either. The long hair on it is just ridiculous.


Much of creative time lately has actually been taken up by continuing to work towards a final draft of at least one of my NaNoWriMo novels, and that's not really easy to show in this blog. I've been editing with the aid of a online tool called AutoCrit, which literally goes through the novel piece by piece in various ways. It's amazing how much you can change when you go sentence by sentence. And already I know I need a whole new first chapter. A title is still up in the air for it. The working one is "Devices," but that sounds a bit too plain to me. Another idea is "#embraced," which is from a major plot point, but I'm worried that a hashtag in the title would date it, even though I don't specify a time in the story other than the near future.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

:commerce:

Moving steadily along, as per usual juggling several projects at once, doing little parts on each one.

One goal for the year is to get my artwork out and for sale more, so I've been looking into art markets and fairs, though some of the booth space costs for some of them are ridiculously high. I also continue to look into different ways of presenting and selling what I do have. I'm definitely going to keep pushing more of the Instagram shots, which are easier to frame in smaller sizes.

At one place that I was selling them at recently (a bazaar at my day job), a few people thought that they were coasters. So, I ordered a few actual coasters to see what that would look like.


I'm still enamored of metal prints too, so when I see sales or Groupons and such, I try to get another one.


We're in February now, if you didn't notice by the excess of hearts and the color red about. My Valentines are still available through Etsy, and I'm going to offer my original framed artwork of the zombie valentine drawing, probably putting it up in the next few days.


I regularly discover the advantage of always having some sort of camera on me, even if it's just the phone's camera, for you never know when something will catch your eye. I saw this as I was heading out the door this morning. That's a doll in progress hiding beneath the mask.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

:remix, recover:

I continued working on an "assignment" from the 20 day portfolio renovation project, this being reworking an old work with hopefully the better knowledge and skills of today. I chose one of first ever Photoshop pieces I did, and I think it shows. Mid-90s, version 5, I believe, not CS5. I cringe now. But I sometimes also cringe at last year's work.


This was pre-digital camera, so I had to dig up and re-scan the original photograph. As a result it was of a lot lower resolution than I'm used to.


I think I've learned a lot more restraint and subtlety with effects and retouching over the years, so I didn't go overboard this time. As far as concept, I came to see the the door as a gateway, and so she became a guardian or a greeter, to the universe beyond it. Again a major lesson I took away was the idea of trying to plan out concepts beforehand, so, a goal for the year.


In the closer future, I'm again offering up my Valentine's Day cards for sale up on Etsy, another goal for this year is to finally make that work somehow. This is an ancient image for me, so perhaps it's time for a new one, although I doubt one will be made in time for this year.


I'm also pondering selling the framed version of this image. It's non-digital, so it would be the true original.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

:artchaeology:

Amongst the other creative projects that I've been setting into motion with the new year, I've been taking part in a 20 day portfolio renovation project being taught by another artist, Brooke Shaden. The first thing that I discovered when I dug out my battered old physical portfolio, other than the need to buy a new one, was that since I work in so many different media, it actually affects the cohesiveness of the whole collection. So I've decided that I now need separate portfolios for each one; illustration, photography and the Homunculus dolls. Of course this is also assuming that people will want to see physical examples rather than just go online these days.

Since Shaden works with photography, I decided to focus just on that for the challenge. Since I still have that day job problem, some days I haven't been able to complete assignments but I can go back to them at some point. I'll need to for the other media anyway. There's a private Facebork group set up for people to post their contributions and discuss the assignments.

One aspect brought up that I feel I need to work on is storytelling, or concepts and messages. Thus far most of my photoshoots have been collaborations with the models and generally improvising as we go on, and I try to interpret something from the shots later. I think I'm pretty successful in that, although it still is mostly "just" portraiture and no real "messages." Not necessarily a bad thing, but it would be interesting to have a concept to begin with before a shoot.


One day's assignment was to create an entirely new piece using the lessons of the previous days. I didn't have time to set up a new shoot, and self-portraiture isn't really my thing, so I went back into last year's shoots for some "outtake" to work on. I chose this one because even though it was a bit blurred it still looked good to me, and the mood was a bit different than many of the other shots from the same session. I worked on the color, lighting and background, and am personally quite pleased with it, especially with how quickly I created it. Sadly, as often seems to be the case with the pieces I like most, I didn't get much of a response when I shared it to the group.


Another assignment was to rework an old piece with the knowledge and skills that you have now. I chose this piece, and of course now I cringe at it. It's one of my first Photoshop pieces (using version 5, I believe), and doesn't it just scream that? This was pre-digital camera too, so to use the original I had to dig up and rescan a photograph. Consequentially it's quite lo-res. We'll see where I can go from here. But truth to tell, in the past I've had to stop reworking old pieces and learn to just move on to create new ones. Most final versions of what I do are really what I consider the "good enough" version.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

:rewound:

Continuing with my recap of the past six months, when I stopped writing this weekly blog and intend to return to regular frequency again.


I'm not going to be that person to remind you of every celebrity death from last year on this year's anniversary of it, but I still have to admit that David Bowie's was a major one, and seemed to set the tone for the rest of the year. Yes, ultimately he was just a person, but part of my imagination wants to believe that he really just returned to his actual planet or state of existence. That thought led to the following illustration, and through deviantArt it actually led to a few sales, a first on that site for me. Still available here. Noting some people's best-of 2016 music lists, I can't help but realize that I don't buy full albums as much as I used to, but his final album, "Blackstar," still gets a lot of play for me, and of course we are still looking for new meanings behind the songs, was it meant as an epitaph, or did it just become one? Leonard Cohen seemed to go the same route by year's end.


I have been making slow progress on a new Homunculus doll, thus far dyeing her clothes and creating a new skin for her. As usual in this process so far, I'm not sure where it's going next yet, I'll be digging through all the collected odds, ends and bones to see what she'll become next. With this I'm finding that I need to work on several projects at once by doing a little bit on each of them. A little bit of doll work, then photo work, and maybe some further work on my novels, closer to their final drafts. I don't intend for them to languish in a box somewhere. I've had too many unfinished works as it is.


Speaking of bones, near the end of summer I found a pretty intact cormorant skull on a beach. Maybe a bit too intact, with some flesh and the eyes still attached. So per instructions I obtained from someone else who works with such things, I've been soaking it in a sealed container and emptying the disgusting results weekly, hopeful that I'll end up with just bone eventually.


In my travels I regularly kept all sorts of cameras with me, other than my large DSLR; a Holga, a Polaroid, and the smartphone has become a pretty regular one too, for the Instagram accounts, of course. Thus far I've not been very pleased with the Polaroids. The shots seem a bit too pale, I don't know if it's because of the film or camera settings, but truth to tell there's not much adjusting possible with the Polaroid camera that I have.


In one of my other lives, I DJ at a goth/industrial night called "Ceremony." In October, we celebrated 20(!) years of doing what we do, on Halloween as well, so we hit club capacity pretty quickly to say the least. To commemorate the occasion, I redesigned the logo a bit, and also made it available on t-shirts. I did a limited run of others in the past, but this being modern times, this one is available online through a website called Spreadshirt, so now I didn't have to print them myself, or lug around boxes of them, or run out of sizes. I also brought back the old design for one of our events called "Goths Gone Wild," the centerpiece of which was goths wrestling in black jell-o. No joke. I'm not sure how we got away with it.


I may use this site for other t-shirt designs as well, once they come to mind.

Since the start of this year I've been involved in an online course/group about improving one's portfolio. I still have a physical one, and going through it now what stuck out for me more than anything was that since I work in many different media, photo-based and otherwise, it's not very cohesive. So I feel that I need to create separate portfolios for each style. For now I'm focusing on the photo-based work, and so far there haven't been any new pieces. Definitely need to up production this year.