Don’t drink and paint, kids…

I’ve got ladybugs on the brain today. 

Did you know you can have an infestation of ladybugs? I can’t wrap my brain around that. It seems as ridiculous as an infestation of butterflies or roses. I tried to Google exactly what an infestation of ladybugs entails, and apparently they are considered pests only by their presence. 
Yes. A ladybug is a pest just because it exists…

This idea completely possessed me. And after a few cocktails I likened lady bugs to body hair. And the rest, as they say…

Just keep swimming 

So I promised myself that I would do a painting a week. It sounded great coming off the heels of my pretty Sailor Moon piece. She came out all in one sitting, I had a clear vision of what I wanted and I enjoyed every moment of work on her (even when it got tricky or things weren’t going on the canvas quite like I wanted.)

I waited a few days for something to inspire me…but I had nothing. Nothing that really stuck anyway, not like Sailor Moon did. Finally on day 7 I was in danger of breaking my shiny new resolution, which would be really pathetic…like quitting the gym right after signing up  without so much as a cardio session (I think I’ve done that, actually.) So I started sketching without my muse, hoping to pull something out of hiding. 


Out came Sailor Mars. I was relieved, at least I had some direction. But for reasons I don’t know that I’ll ever understand, Sailor Mars did not come as easily as Sailor Moon when it was time to actually paint. She took three days instead of three hours, and more than once I considered painting over the whole thing and starting over. I literally had to drag her out of me, kicking and screaming, and using just that naive promise I made myself as motivation.


But I did it. There are things I don’t like about it, of course. There’s plenty I don’t like about my previous painting too, but I’ve finally come to a point in my life where just doing the work is more important than it turning out perfectly. And who knows, if I keep at it maybe those imperfections will refine themselves. Gotta start somewhere, right?

Atashi wa… (Revised)

Note: I first posted this painting with no explanation, because I was so damn proud of it I needed to get it out there. But somewhere in the night I thought that’s not really how blogging is supposed to work, so here is a proper story surrounding this piece…

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The first time I heard of Sailor Moon I was in second or third grade. It was actually a commercial for the dolls that I saw first, but in under a minute and with barely any context I fell in love. Five girl superheroes. Magic powers. A princess and an evil sorceress and a secret kingdom on the moon… My young mind was blown. You have to understand, there was NOTHING else like it at the time. Up until that point I only ever watched Power Rangers or Ninja Turtles and such — basically things geared toward young boys because the things that girls were supposed to watch I found terribly boring. So just this brief flash of something else was absolutely incredible.

I immediately began drawing the characters and sharing them with my friends. We would assign roles and all throughout recess we would play. Whatever I didn’t know I filled in with imagination, but my mom would soon discover the source of that wonderful ad…a television show on Cartoon Network. We didn’t have cable, so my grandma would record the show and send me the tapes. They were usually out of order but I lapped it all up anyway. Within a few years I became a Sailor Moon expert and I was drawing her with such convincing likeness to the show itself that unless someone saw me at work they assumed I was tracing.

And then I happened upon the anime section of our local video rental store. After Sailor Moon came Ranma 1/2, Project A-Ko, Magic Knight Rayearth, Saber Marionette J…so on and so on. I loved it all, mostly for the art itself. Big eyes, hair of all colors, extensive detail, and an overall prettiness to every character, every frame. That was it, I wanted to be an anime artist. I spent hours and hours recreating my favorite characters, making my own characters, drawing, writing, living and breathing this entire genre until finally one mean high school teacher told me that it was all a big waste of time because anime and manga can only be made by Japanese people in Japan. And then a college professor told me that it wasn’t art I was creating and that I needed to start focusing on big, important pieces that capture some hidden message about the human condition or a social commentary. Finally CGI films started hitting big and the interest in hand drawn animation became something just for hardcore fans and I was defeated. Anytime I caught myself doodling those familiar faces I would become angry with myself and the process became so painful that for years I stopped drawing anything altogether.

So this painting was a decade long itch that I was finally able to scratch. And you know what? Fuck the haters. Who cares if this isn’t art or if it isn’t original or whatever else. I love it. I loved doing it. I’m going to do more of it. I wish I never stopped.

Fake It til You Make It

I always resented people’s assumption that because I’m an artist, I must know how to do _______. I considered myself an illustrator and little else, so when I was asked to do things like…design a business card or a logo, for example, I would bristle. That’s not what I did. That wasn’t my craft, my specialty. Nothing in color and on nothing but white paper — that was the old philosophy. And so I shied away from any project that didn’t fit that criteria, and then the assumption became that I was being modest. The truth was that I was frustrated. Afraid. I’m constantly terrified of not meeting expectations, especially my own. Unfortunately I also have a neurotic desire to be liked by everyone, so I’d eventually break down and do whatever it was they wanted.

And you know what? I really am kind of good at just about everything artsy fartsy. Really good, even. It may not come as easily as sketching Sailor Moon, but it DOES come.

I can’t say exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the way I started trusting that fact. If someone needed an artist for a project and it was something I didn’t know how to do or have never done before, I just Googled the shit out of it and practiced enough to feel confident, then I’d go out and do it (and ideally make money). It’s been working for me thus far, case in point…the door.

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Practice door rummaged up by loving husband. (Plus some primer I was getting cute with as I applied.)

I was asked to paint a decorative door. After a bit of brainstorming, the client and I both decided it would be really cool to have the door look like a panel of tile in the same room.

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The tile.

Even as we were talking about it I began to worry. I had a feeling Google might not have the greatest recommendations to the search query of, “how to paint a door to look like marble but not really marble more like cloudy, colored tile.” But I smiled and nodded and tried to trust that I would figure it out.

Thanks to my resourceful husband, I got a door to practice on. With the help of a coworker who worked for Sherwin Williams for years, I got some paint color suggestions to try out. And then Google scraped up a few different tutorials involving cheesecloth and feathers, so I was good to go.

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Round One.

I quickly found out that cheesecloth and feathers were a waste of time and a MESS to work with. I was very pleased with this first result that ultimately came from me just manhandling my trusty paint brush. But the color was off… Very cool but not quite what I was going for. Now I was actually excited for round two, inspired by my own happy accident. The next rehearsal happened far too late in the evening and with much wine, so I have no great pictures, but it was enough to prove to myself that I (kind of) knew what I was doing. Then it was show time…

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Voilà!

I’m pretty fucking pleased. I don’t know how much it looks like the tile, but it’s super cool anyway. And now I’m going to do all the doors in his house the same way, different colors. Then I’ll have to move on to the doors in my house because it was quick, WAY fun, unique and attractive. So the moral of the story…fake it til you make it. Then make the shit out of it!!!

The struggle is real

Dear future tattoo artist,

I’m looking for a portrait of my soul
Something to show on the outside what I am within
Just a snapshot
You know, a thumbnail
Because I have a feeling that I, too, am small
But rich
Like perhaps a truffle
A little is enough

Or am I more like a butterfly?
Dainty and delicate
With zen doodled wings of color to save myself from predators
But ultimately prey to a strong wind

Like a feather
A beautiful, magical, left-behind thing
(Or are they just lost…?)

Hmm, so how about a bell?
A big wound and a heart
That rattles around, falling into walls
Tumbling and tinkling
Sometimes just suspended there
Waiting to be struck

What about orchids?
I love orchids
Everyone loves orchids…
So then again, maybe not

What else, future tattoo artist?
Music notes or stars?
Pretty script and symbolism and twirly-do’s?

Maybe just vines…

Ugh

I feel like I’m trying to tie a cherry stem with my tongue
A solitary challenge
How can you help me with this knot?

Signed,
Truly interested (but…)