Art Anxieties and Other Adventures

Hello dear readers.

I hope today finds you well.

I am coming to you live from my new art making nook:

wri
Newly dedicated writing and arting space. Also fuzzy.

I keep trying to figure out how to convince my heater that warm does not mean melting all the clocks in the house with epic heat and that likewise cold that stops time dead is not appreciated. These extremes should not be the only settings available, but my heater is unaware of this fact.

Even though it’s not going very well with the heater, other things are going VERY well for me, some for the first time in a long time:

  • Goth Gal is almost a year old and no one has threatened me to stop making comics or face the fish of pain.
  • Goth Gal is now on Tapastic and will hopefully be seen (and liked) by more!
  • My novel is almost two years old–still in first draft editing mode because life interrupted my plans.
  • I have a brand new freaking awesome professional art board to create stuff with thanks to donations from patrons at Patreon and GoFundMe.
  • I just sold my two paintings for the first time to a non-friend/non-family person.
  • And I was just promoted in my part time job to a much higher position.

Things are going well.

So why am I paralyzingly worried?

I should be dancing on the moon in a full on conga line with some little green (or gray) men (or women) right about now. Instead I find myself worrying that I will now not have time for art.

This may sound selfish to some. I know there are plenty who can’t get a job, let alone get promoted in a position that lets them work from home in their pajamas. This is the college dream–well this is someone’s college dream anyway. I saw enough pajama pants on campus to know that. Still, please don’t get the wrong idea: I am so overwhelmingly grateful and excited that I don’t know quite what to feel…but I am also downright terrified.

Why, you may ask?

My first thought after the excitement of the offer fizzled down was what if I don’t have time for art?! I then readily followed a bunny trail of thoughts down a dark road that involved my dreams being locked away in drawers as I was forced to deal with the practical things of life until I died of old age or alien invasion–whichever comes first.

 

now-im-a-superhero
Not my art. Anxiety Girl belongs to Natalie Dee (as far as I can tell).

 

In my epic level disaster scenario (which oddly does not include zombies at all), I age rapidly while my dreams abandon the obviously failed artistic writer person in search of sunnier shores (read people who make money off of their art and don’t have to work a non-art job). Right about now is when my more logical side started giving me the Ben Franklin stare-of-discomfort ™:

960
This is the face of a man who has seen things, or had his parking space stolen–hard to say.

My logical side knows all sorts of stories about all sorts of people who made it while doing a normal person job but it also knows stories of those who had everything going for them and somehow did not make it. (That latter part was really unhelpful logical side!) The one helpful thing my logical side did point out (before I stuffed it back in its cage) is that dreams are not in fact separate entities, so they can’t technically run away.

So, how am I managing this unhelpful fear of change/life/dreams/art?

Up until now, I’ve been working major overtime at work, helping other people with various things, hanging out with friends when possible (I’m so sorry Blanka–I totally forgot until yesterday and I really did have a message sitting in “send”. I WAS NOT FLAKING ON YOU!), and doing all the other things people have to do in life to stay alive.

All of that really needs to change.

The new position means I don’t need to work overtime. Being that I’ve been working almost 80 hours a week for several months and doing Goth Gal and doing all the other stuff, this is a HUGE relief (I began this job as a part time job…life had other ideas). However, a leadership position means more time in other ways. Plus, even without overtime, it is still hard to work a job and create art. And for me it may be harder than for most because I have some remnants from my major health issues of last year that I am still battling. I will be taking some health steps soon in an attempt to cleanse all of that–but that’s another post for another day.

So, to fix my quandary, and make sure my dreams are fed and watered properly, I am setting up some boundaries!

Yay–wait what?

I know, it sounds kind of boring, and vaguely like an adult thing… and even maybe not inclusive. Really though it’s more like YAY! because it is inclusive and I am totally NOT adulting.

Really.

So boundaries, how can they help?

Well Tim, boundary inc. guarantees that as long as you enforce their patented boundary technology, you will be able to decide things and mostly stick to those decisions.

Subject to terms and conditions, special offers do not apply, not applicable in the case of natural disasters or health issues.

Or, in other words, I’m blocking off specific days and times for art. I’m also overhauling my schedule completely. I will do art in time slots before work because that is the only way I can really stick with this. Different strategies will work for different people, but this is what it has to be for me. Nothing but art will fill these specific slots because I will guard them like a rabid hyena. That’s my job. In return for providing them some dedicated time, the dreams with stick around with me as long as I feed them.

Which is why I am sitting here typing this at 6am…my eyes hurt.

Normally, I don’t get into work until noon. This means I’m up all night then get up and go to work. Unfortunately this also means that by the time I get to me time, or art time, or writing time, I am tired and I don’t have much drive left to push myself with. So, I end up giving myself permission to take off JUST THIS ONCE. Which of course becomes JUST ABOUT EVERY TIME.

So, from now on, I get up in the wee hours of the morning and I get to arting and writing and my million and one projects that are always flowing through my head screaming PICK ME!!!!! This is also why I made the new nook. I need a space my brain doesn’t associate with my normal job that is easy to get to when I’m bleary eyed. (Right now I am convinced coffee is nature’s superpower). I have also dedicated my weekends to creating deadline specific art so that I am not overwhelmed during the week with it. And I am going to take at least 30 minutes to write every single day. Arting needs to be as much a priority in my life as eating, sleeping and working for my paycheck.

No art can be created without TIME; it is one of the most important ingredients. Many of us (I am looking at you here dear readers) beat ourselves up about our imperfect art. Yet usually we are stealing moments in between other moments to be able to make the stuff in the first place. So in essence you and I are creating time in between the ticks of the clock. That’s magic as far as I am concerned.

Getting off of a full time job and working on your novel even though you are worn out is MAGIC. Painting even though you are going to school and working a part time job is MAGIC. Making videos and uploading them to Youtube even though you have crippling anxiety is MAGIC.

YOU ARE MAGIC!

Ongoing art making is nothing short of heroic. Ongoing art making when you have a million things vying for your time and you have to provide for your family is nothing short of miraculous. So good job to those of you making it despite the odds. To those of you making art in the wee hours of the night because you have to be somewhere in the early hours of the morning: I salute you and admire you, even though we might never meet. You are amazing people.

And to those of you who want to make art, but keep waiting because you are busy or tired or worried, it’s ok. Start small right this very minute. Try to take as little as 15 minutes each day to spend on art. You don’t need fancy tools–any pen and paper will do. My novel started out as random snippets doodled in notebooks and grew from there. Eventually you will find that what art gives back to you is greater than what you put into it. Don’t wait for life to give you the time, because there will always be a more practical thing waiting to fill it. You must take the time you need, life will not give it to you. The struggle is worth it. Somewhere, someone desperately needs your art.

Imagine a world where David Bowie didn’t try because he didn’t believe he was good enough. Even as we grieve his loss, we see his huge impact on the world. If he can do it, you can do it. If you aren’t sure this art thing that you want to try is really what you want, experiment. Art is everywhere if you are looking for it. You can try 50 different art forms until you find one that clicks with you. You don’t have to go all in at once. Work on little dreams. If you take some time out to care for your little dreams it gives them the chance to grow into big dreams.

Take time.

Make art.

Live.

Until later my dear readers. ❤

 

 

I Am Not the Best Thing Ever and That’s Okay

Hello dear readers!

It is currently a lovely *trying to pretend it’s fall* day.

It’s eighty degrees where I am, but there is a breeze…and some falling leaves.

It’s FALLLLLLLLL I tell you!

As you may have deduced, fall is my favorite season. It’s been that way as long as I can remember. I love the (typical) chill in the air, falling leaves, pumpkin EVERYTHING, and Halloween stuff everywhere (finally my music is seasonally appropriate).

Today’s musing is on not being the best–as you probably ascertained from the title. Before I get to that, a few words on my morning ritual.

My morning ritual is fairly drab. I wake up, check Facebook for a while, get tea or coffee or guru energy and some breakfast, and watch some Tales From the Darkside (or something similar) for a little while. Then I get about whatever I need to do that day.

This morning I was perusing Facebook like normal when I came across some very good art by the amazing sakimichan (warning, some of her stuff is NSFW). I perused her awesome art with a feeling that began as awe and became insecurity as I looked.

In my head I was comparing my art to hers. Mine, I felt, would be at home in preschool, while hers belonged in galleries. (The logical part of my brain neglected to toss in that my main career choice is actually writing and I have no real technical training in art.) As I struggled with these feelings, I decided to try painting a character into existence.

Normally I am very line focused. I create a line drawing in pen or digital–pencil I always manage to smudge too much. Then I focus on coloring, shading and all the rest. So, today I started with blobs of paint in a human-ish shape and went from there. One hour later, here was the result:

Blue Experiment
Blue Experiment

Now, this is a far cry from Sakimichan. I was frustrated with myself. I mean really why couldn’t I simply draw something like this:

Source: http://sakimichan.deviantart.com/art/Sci-Fi-Elf-398195577
Source: http://sakimichan.deviantart.com/art/Sci-Fi-Elf-398195577

Then, I stopped to think about it. My girl looks fairly human, and her hair (which took FOREVER) has an effect I’ve never seen before… I actually decided I liked the drawing. I had challenged myself and created something new–not bad.

I went on with my morning (website updates GALORE today) then hopped over to my patreon to see if anything needed updated. I started looking into other patreon members…and went through basically the same frustrating process as I had with my art. My thoughts went something like: I am broke. My art is not making money. All these other very good people are. My art must suck, or maybe my jokes suck, or maybe…marketing?

My mum is a business type person, I am not. Marketing myself is like some foreign  language that I need a translator for. It doesn’t help that I despise false positivity. I refer to the EVERYTHING IS GREAT WE DO NOT FEEL NEGATIVES EVER culture that pervades corporate reality in my experience. I am not dissing genuine happiness and optimism. Being happy is totally great. So, my brain sort of hisses at words like “marketing” and “branding” and other terms like them when I apply them to myself.

However, I decided to be brave. Maybe my own artistic self was getting in my way. (Read: maybe I didn’t suck as much as I thought.) I looked up web marketing for oneself. It was like a bizarre labyrinth of bright colors, bad web design and BUY BUY BUY NOW NOW NOW. After a few hours, I found very little useful info that common sense and normal internet use wouldn’t provide. In other words, I found NOTHING. I gave it up as a bad job and stared at other people’s patreon pages trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. Loading Artist for example is great and funny and living off of his art. (Way to go Loading artist!)

I still haven’t figured out what I’m doing wrong.

I did, however, figure out some interesting things about myself:

1 – I make art for me.

If you are making art only for others, you will quit long before you make any impact on the world. I thought about what would happen if Goth Gal or my other projects never made me a dime. Would I stop doing it?

Nope.

I love making Goth Gal. I make her first and foremost for me. I’m glad I get to share her with everyone else, but I would still make this comic, even if I was the only person on the planet. Maybe that sounds weird, but I’ve been doodling her in notebooks for years now just for me.

2 – I am my only real competition.

I am not competing against the talented Sakimichan, or Loading Artist, or anyone else, not really. I am competing with myself. I try to improve because I want to make the best thing I can possibly make, not because I compare myself to those around me.

I do realize that, as a human being in a world of human beings, there are times I will compare myself to others. That’s okay, as long as I don’t get stuck there. It’s okay as long as it doesn’t poison the passion I have to create, the heart of my creativity you might say. (You can’t spell heart without art, after all.)

3 – I’m not the best and that’s okay.

Artists, Writers, Musicians and others like them are a strange breed. We aren’t so much competing against each other as swimming with each other in the same impossibly large ocean. Learning how to navigate it and survive is difficult, but not impossible.

In other words, I don’t have to be the best, I have to be my best.

That distinction may seem tiny, but to me, it’s the difference between beating myself up with comparisons and being able to enjoy the other artists around me.

After these realizations, nothing external changed. I’m still broke, I still have the exact same problems, I still wonder how to do this thing called life…but now I feel better about it. I can enjoy the swim instead of dragging my fins. As one great fishy once said, just keep swimming.

I hope this helps another fishy out there.

PS – I just published my first set of goth gal comics on the amazon kindle store.

Q1 - Cover

Volume One contains the first 60 comics in high quality format. Visit this link to check it out! Kindle is compatible with PC, Mac, iOS, Android and of course kindle devices. If you have kindle unlimited you can read it for free too! Goth on!

I Am Not the Best Thing Ever and That's Okay

Hello dear readers!

It is currently a lovely *trying to pretend it’s fall* day.

It’s eighty degrees where I am, but there is a breeze…and some falling leaves.

It’s FALLLLLLLLL I tell you!

As you may have deduced, fall is my favorite season. It’s been that way as long as I can remember. I love the (typical) chill in the air, falling leaves, pumpkin EVERYTHING, and Halloween stuff everywhere (finally my music is seasonally appropriate).

Today’s musing is on not being the best–as you probably ascertained from the title. Before I get to that, a few words on my morning ritual.

My morning ritual is fairly drab. I wake up, check Facebook for a while, get tea or coffee or guru energy and some breakfast, and watch some Tales From the Darkside (or something similar) for a little while. Then I get about whatever I need to do that day.

This morning I was perusing Facebook like normal when I came across some very good art by the amazing sakimichan (warning, some of her stuff is NSFW). I perused her awesome art with a feeling that began as awe and became insecurity as I looked.

In my head I was comparing my art to hers. Mine, I felt, would be at home in preschool, while hers belonged in galleries. (The logical part of my brain neglected to toss in that my main career choice is actually writing and I have no real technical training in art.) As I struggled with these feelings, I decided to try painting a character into existence.

Normally I am very line focused. I create a line drawing in pen or digital–pencil I always manage to smudge too much. Then I focus on coloring, shading and all the rest. So, today I started with blobs of paint in a human-ish shape and went from there. One hour later, here was the result:

Blue Experiment
Blue Experiment

Now, this is a far cry from Sakimichan. I was frustrated with myself. I mean really why couldn’t I simply draw something like this:

Source: http://sakimichan.deviantart.com/art/Sci-Fi-Elf-398195577
Source: http://sakimichan.deviantart.com/art/Sci-Fi-Elf-398195577

Then, I stopped to think about it. My girl looks fairly human, and her hair (which took FOREVER) has an effect I’ve never seen before… I actually decided I liked the drawing. I had challenged myself and created something new–not bad.

I went on with my morning (website updates GALORE today) then hopped over to my patreon to see if anything needed updated. I started looking into other patreon members…and went through basically the same frustrating process as I had with my art. My thoughts went something like: I am broke. My art is not making money. All these other very good people are. My art must suck, or maybe my jokes suck, or maybe…marketing?

My mum is a business type person, I am not. Marketing myself is like some foreign  language that I need a translator for. It doesn’t help that I despise false positivity. I refer to the EVERYTHING IS GREAT WE DO NOT FEEL NEGATIVES EVER culture that pervades corporate reality in my experience. I am not dissing genuine happiness and optimism. Being happy is totally great. So, my brain sort of hisses at words like “marketing” and “branding” and other terms like them when I apply them to myself.

However, I decided to be brave. Maybe my own artistic self was getting in my way. (Read: maybe I didn’t suck as much as I thought.) I looked up web marketing for oneself. It was like a bizarre labyrinth of bright colors, bad web design and BUY BUY BUY NOW NOW NOW. After a few hours, I found very little useful info that common sense and normal internet use wouldn’t provide. In other words, I found NOTHING. I gave it up as a bad job and stared at other people’s patreon pages trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. Loading Artist for example is great and funny and living off of his art. (Way to go Loading artist!)

I still haven’t figured out what I’m doing wrong.

I did, however, figure out some interesting things about myself:

1 – I make art for me.

If you are making art only for others, you will quit long before you make any impact on the world. I thought about what would happen if Goth Gal or my other projects never made me a dime. Would I stop doing it?

Nope.

I love making Goth Gal. I make her first and foremost for me. I’m glad I get to share her with everyone else, but I would still make this comic, even if I was the only person on the planet. Maybe that sounds weird, but I’ve been doodling her in notebooks for years now just for me.

2 – I am my only real competition.

I am not competing against the talented Sakimichan, or Loading Artist, or anyone else, not really. I am competing with myself. I try to improve because I want to make the best thing I can possibly make, not because I compare myself to those around me.

I do realize that, as a human being in a world of human beings, there are times I will compare myself to others. That’s okay, as long as I don’t get stuck there. It’s okay as long as it doesn’t poison the passion I have to create, the heart of my creativity you might say. (You can’t spell heart without art, after all.)

3 – I’m not the best and that’s okay.

Artists, Writers, Musicians and others like them are a strange breed. We aren’t so much competing against each other as swimming with each other in the same impossibly large ocean. Learning how to navigate it and survive is difficult, but not impossible.

In other words, I don’t have to be the best, I have to be my best.

That distinction may seem tiny, but to me, it’s the difference between beating myself up with comparisons and being able to enjoy the other artists around me.

After these realizations, nothing external changed. I’m still broke, I still have the exact same problems, I still wonder how to do this thing called life…but now I feel better about it. I can enjoy the swim instead of dragging my fins. As one great fishy once said, just keep swimming.

I hope this helps another fishy out there.

PS – I just published my first set of goth gal comics on the amazon kindle store.

Q1 - Cover

Volume One contains the first 60 comics in high quality format. Visit this link to check it out! Kindle is compatible with PC, Mac, iOS, Android and of course kindle devices. If you have kindle unlimited you can read it for free too! Goth on!

Future Diary

Bon apres-midi!

It is sunny, sunny, SUNNY where I am. This may effect my writing. I shall apologize now for what will inevitably be an overuse of exclamation points, CAPS LOCK and/or bubbly text.

Now that that’s out of the way…on to the show!

The delay in writing here has been due to a variety of factors including, but not limited to: moving, project work and, of course, the artist’s natural self doubt. (More on that last part a little later in this post.)

Moving is HARD. Moving to a home that you love helps soften the blow, but it is exhausting in mind body and soul. The last month has been a Mobius strip of packing, sorting, moving, unpacking, sorting, moving…you get the idea. Now I am basically moved in, but I still have plenty of unpacking/sorting to do. For a more amusing and detailed idea of how it is to move with me, please click here. This will take you to part one of six in “The Moving Saga”, a miniseries in my comic Goth Gal.

In other non-comic related news, you may recall a few months ago I said I was working on a secret thing? Well, secret is out: I applied for an art program and was accepted. Yay! In case you’re scratching your head right now and saying something like “Wait, aren’t you a WRITER?”, yes! I am in fact a writer, but I am also an artist. I feel that I have progressed as far as I can in my own art without some sort of guidance. I want to be able to write and illustrate my own books, especially my children’s books. For this, I need some training…badly. So, come the Fall 2015 semester, yours truly will be attending Graduate school.

It is now that I wish to turn my attention to a little discussion on HOPE. (I told you we would get here.) I hate hope. HATE. Hope far too often has equaled extreme disappointment in my life. Someone once asked me what my hopeful expression was, I couldn’t answer them right then and there because I didn’t really know. So, I thought about something I was hesitantly hopeful about and to my surprise my face morphed into a distrustful mask of skepticism. Oops?

I have since discovered that hope is very important. As children, we have to have hope so powerfully that the mind will twist all of reality to create hope if it has to. For some, this means that abusive parents become the “good” guys while they in turn are transformed into the “bad” guy. See, you have no power over your parents, but you can change yourself to be “better” if you want to fix things. Unfortunately, this screws up a lot of other things. This happened to me. Not fun, I can tell you. The power of hope can be amazing, but also terrifying.

In an effort to provide hope during a period when I had none, I came up with a random idea that I will now share with you. If it helps you, please let me know. Post pictures. Say stuff. TELL SOMEONE! Pass it on to people you love who need some hope. I really want this thing to spread like fire because I find it so helpful for my chronic skepticism.

ARE YOU READY FOR THE THING?!?!?!!?

REALLY?!

OK!

I call it the FUTURE DIARY.

(If that sounds familiar you have awesome taste in anime. Note: this in no way resembles the anime, it’s just the name for the thing. You can sit back down now and not worry that someone is going to try to assassinate you…seriously SIT BACK DOWN.)

Ahem.

The way it works is pretty simple.

Step One:

Get a bank notebook, journal, sketchbook, or any other blank mass of paper somehow held together. Mine looks like this (yes that is a duplicate of River Song’s notebook–I love you guys!):

If I Could Write As Mysterious as a Cat
If I Could Write As Mysterious as a Cat

Find a pen–any pen will do. Open the notebook and write This is the Future Diary of YOUR NAME. (Feel free to add a tagline.) This notebook is now SACRED. You can only use it for your Future Diary. I wrote in mine like so (drawings are optional):

Warning: Spoilers
Warning: Spoilers

Step Two:

You pick something you are having trouble hoping for. This could be ANYTHING. You could pick a possible promotion, getting accepted somewhere like Grad school, meeting “the one”…the possibilities are endless. You pick a topic.

Step Three:

Pick a random spot in the notebook. As a rule of thumb, I put my larger hopes (i.e.- those things that will probably take longer to fulfill) further back in the notebook and the more everyday style hopes closer to the beginning of the notebook. You can also do these in order if you want. I prefer the randomness thing…obviously.

Pages Waiting to Be Filled
Pages Waiting to Be Filled

Step Four:

This is the most crucial step for the hope process. You must imagine your hope being fulfilled. Imagine how it smells, how it feels, where you are, what you can hear etc. The more detail you can get in there the better. Then you write that down as if it’s already happened, like you would in a normal diary.

NOTE: If you can’t imagine whatever it is, you should pick another hope that you can imagine. For example, I couldn’t hope for grad school, so I didn’t write it down. I could hope for being a world famous author, so I went with that. (Yes, I know…no idea why, but this is how my brain works.)

Step Five:

Keep at it. Keep thinking up hopes and writing them in the notebook. It’s okay if you entry is crazy detailed and then the actual event is quite different. We are not clairvoyant, we are non-hopers trying to hope. (And, if you are clairvoyant, why are you reading this?) You may surprise yourself with the results. I was having a really bad day when I came up with this idea. After I did several entries, I felt like I was on cloud nine. I was seriously dancing around the house. Scary, I know.

Step Six:

Pick a spot for your diary. It is now a SACRED object, it needs a SACRED spot. When you take it down to use it, make sure to put it back so you can always find it. Mine sits before the Great Nameless Owl:

The Great Nameless Owl Guards the Future Diary
The Great Nameless Owl Guards the Future Diary

Step Seven:

GO OUT AND DO THE THINGS! Don’t let the diary be the end, let it be the beginning. Let it inspire you to go accomplish the things you want to, to chase your dreams and fight your fears. In short, write then LIVE. Living is the point here dears. Living is what too many forget to do in modern society. I don’t know who said it, but I once read a quote that went something like: “Don’t live the same day for seventy years and call it a life.”

So, you.

Yes YOU!

GET OUT THERE!

LIVE!

GO MAKE ART!

And I’ll share with you a little something future Madison told present day me:

Thanks Future Madison!
Thanks Future Madison!

So there you are. That’s what I’m doing right now. Feel free to take the idea and experiment like crazy with it until you find what works for you.

I will, from now on, be updating this journal weekly. Every Saturday, you can expect an update from yours truly. Thank you to Problems With Infinity for giving me the motivation to make this a regular thing. If you haven’t checked out her blog you should.

So dare to be hopeful and write your futures the way you want dear readers!

Outdoor Offices

Image

Hello again. Well, I have been diligently writing since I last saw you despite everything that tries to get in the way. I really try to treat my writing time like something sacred that can’t be interrupted. Unfortunately, no one else seems to see it that way. They more see it like “Oh good you’re around I need…” time. Yesterday, due to some complicated circumstances that mostly involve me helping someone out, I ended up working on my book outside for several hours. This strange opportunity to be out of the house on a weekend but still working on my book had a peculiar effect on me. Rather than slowing my writing down, as I had feared it would, it actually sped up my writing. I was surprised to say he least. It got me thinking that one day I would like to have a little glass study outside to do my writing.

In other news, I am going on another media fast. this time i am permitted media one day a week (incidentally I also have one day a week blocked off from my target writing) but not allowed media any other day. (This excludes music of course lest I go completely bonkers.) I think the first media fast really helped me to focus on the work. I really want to finish this by the end of summer. I look forward to the day I am sitting cross legged on a table (yes you read that correctly–I actually gave a presentation in a class this way once because I hate giving speeches) signing books and hopefully getting to meet some of the people reading this blog. What a strange joyous thing it will be when that day comes. Until then, I hope you enjoy the beautiful sunshine. And here is a picture that makes me smile every time I look at it: Image May the road rise with you.