So my big goal this summer is to completely rework my portfolio. I’m planning to create a whole new body of work to give myself a boost to where I want to be after having struggled the last year and a half with all kinds of outside pressures and stresses that kept me from focusing as much on my work. Time to reboot! I’m already well on my way and getting a lot done, and I’m excited about what I’m working on. If you happen to be interested in keeping up with shorter and more regular updates to what I have going on, you can follow me on my recently created Instagram account. I’ll be posting frequent in progress work, sketches, and work at various stages, as well as random bits from my little world. Look at me all getting with the times. Now, to upgrade to a smart phone that actually has a flash and a decent camera…
My dad passed away. Nearly a month ago now. The most amazing man I’ve ever known put an end to a very long and difficult battle with a very nasty cancer. My mom, sister and I stayed awake with him in the hospital all night before what had become the life prolonging equipment would be turned off the next day. Although he could not communicate with us, we each took a turn to sit and talk to him, to try to say what we wanted him to know before we knew that he would leave us. I told him that I was proud of him and hoped I would continue to make him proud of me, and that we would be ok. His brothers and nephew came to say their goodbyes also. It was a beautiful spring day on which he took his last breath.
I felt a fleeting moment of relief that he would no longer have this unrelenting uphill battle, but that relief was immediately replaced by a ripping hole in my gut. My dad, with his incredible intellect and understanding, his infectious belly laugh and twinkle in his eye, his unquenchable thirst to learn and passions for music, history and theater, who had humbly touched the lives of so many students, friends and acquaintances, was gone.
There’s a part of me that is very pragmatic and logical. I knew the cancer couldn’t be conquered. I know we all will, when our time comes, pass the way of all of those, everyone, which came before us. And also, as isolating as it can feel, I know that most people must experience this loss in their lifetimes. But knowing these things doesn’t stop me from missing him and regretting that there wasn’t more time to spend with him and learn from him. We always think there will be more time…
Honestly, I feel less stressed than I used to, but a little angrier at the moment. I question if I’m on the right path and if I’m working hard enough, enjoying enough, contributing enough. I find myself sometimes talking to him and wondering what he would think and say to me.
Funny how the world keeps moving. Spring is in full blast, we grilled and I even had my first seasonal sangria on a patio last weekend. We drove down to Kansas City for Spectrum Live (fantasy and sci fi illustration convention) where I got to meet many of my favorite illustrators and walk away with tons of inspiration, information, and a load of art to frame. Summer is only around the corner. It all feels very surreal. My family is doing our best to cope and adapt and integrating this new pain into what normal life will be. The best way that I know how to cope is to try to keep living my life in a way that would make him proud. To keep learning. To keep bettering myself. To keep loving my family and friends. To keep true to who I am. And to keep attacking life like I don’t know there will be a tomorrow.
A good portion of the last month or two has been spent getting ready for my first con of 2013, C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo). And in honor of that you may have noticed that I’ve finally successfully updated my website. It’s a miracle! It really is, not just because of my stumbling web skills, but also because many of the tasks that I’d planned to do this last week had to be pushed back because my dad has been in the ICU since last Friday, which is also why I haven’t posted much. Things are still pretty critical for him, but he is about the strongest and most stubborn person I’ve even known, and while there’s still an uphill battle to be had, if anyone can push through, I know he can. Somehow I’ve managed to get pretty much everything done though, and outside of constant worry and a million calls home to check on him, I’m going into this weekend expecting to make the absolute most of it.
I’ve already shown you the art for the temporary tattoos I’ve had made, but I will also have some slap bracelets (!) and new prints available. And, for the first time at a con, I’m going to be selling a VERY limited number of small original acrylic paintings. Once they’re gone, they’re gone baby! If you are planning on being there, swing by my table (N3) and check out all the goodies! Or at least say hi.
IT’S DONE! Do-dee-do-dee-do…. (that’s my happy dance.)
The idea from this piece started out when I decided I was going to participate in an Illustration Friday challenge, and the word was Explore. I came up with the sketch for this piece, then got pulled away in other directions and the next Friday came and went with no finished work to submit. But I really liked the idea of the sketch and decided to finish it anyway. So here is my ‘Brave Little Explorers.’
In unrelated news, it’s starting to look like spring! Suddenly I can much more easily access my motivation to be healthy and active now that the sun is out and it’s a wee bit warmer. For starters, yesterday I pulled out one of my favorite warm weather recipes for a salad that makes a great and easy lunch or side dish, depending on how you roll. I thought I share it with you, it’s really easy to make and tastes even better on day two. Healthy and tasty! And filling too.
1 can of chick peas1 cup of uncooked split peas (green lentils work too)
1 cup of kalamata olives, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped (or cucumber, if you prefer)
1 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup of chopped green onion
1 large tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons of cappers
1/2 cup of pine nuts (I use slivered almonds if pine nuts are too $$)
1/2 cup of feta cheese
a handful of chopped cilantro
For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt (use less if you prefer)
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
Cook the split peas (or lentils) on simmer in 2 cups of water until tender. *Bonus, throw in a smashed garlic clove while it’s cooking and toss when done.
Mix together all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix the dressing. Combine. It’s best if you let it set up in the fridge before eating, but it’s good right away too!
It feels like it’s taking me an eternity to finish the projects I’m working on now to the point that I’m almost so sick of looking at them I’d like to just walk away and not think about it for a few months. But I’m so close to the end I can smell it, so I’m slowly powering through. These projects are only part of many things on the horizon. I’ve got one mailing project (yay possible paying work!) on the go through one agency that I use and I’m hoping to put together another on my own this summer. Pretty soon I’m planning to update this website to a more mobile friendly format and add a portfolio page just for paintings, maybe in the next week or two if all goes well.
However, this coming weekend I start up the second session of the mobile application development class I’ve been taking after a too short two week hiatus, so my hair raising anxiety will be back as I also get ready for C2E2 happening during that same time. So I’m hesitant to promise much. I’m also trying to do more paintings besides focusing on just digital work. I find it cathartic and easier on the eyes than spending 14 hours a day staring at a computer screen. So I’ll be packing in as much as I can into the next so-many weeks and keeping the gears cranking. Does anyone else smell smoke?
In the meanwhile, I thought I’d share a couple of older paintings. They’re not fantastic photos, but I recently ran across the files on my computer. So enjoy, … or laugh, … or cry, …you know.
Please leave a message after the tone. *Beeeeeep.*
“Uh… hey, Spring. It’s Lynell. Just, uhm… I just wanted to call and see what you were up to. I know it’s just supposed to be your first day and all, but… you haven’t been returning any of my phone calls and everyone is getting a little worried. I’m getting worried.
“Look, I know I don’t need your distractions. I have so much to get done in the studio, projects to finish, paintings to start… I don’t need to be out grilling, going for walks or planning my patio garden. I know I haven’t always had time for you, but we’ve had some good times, haven’t we? At least you let me believe that was true.
“So, uhm, anyway, I miss you.
“Give me a call sometime.
You may have noticed by now that I kind of have a thing for finding strange stuff online. While I can’t tell you exactly where my attraction to the odd comes from, I do know that it started pretty young. Recently, while sorting out old files and papers, I came across a grade school project, I’d guess from about 3rd or 4th grade, where we had to describe ourselves. This is how mine began… (I’ve corrected the spelling for our benefit)…
“My name is Lynell. I am trusting, but sometimes I am a little tough. I get hungry a lot. I like looking pretty. I think I am odd. People sometimes say I am weird, I sort of believe it…”
So, that was kind of funny to find. Especially the bit about being hungry. Anyway, so many years later, look how great I turned out! So why change now? I’ve been super busy with lots of projects, some will be done in the next week or so for me to share, getting ready for C2E2 in April, and I am waiting for some projects to be released in the spring for me to share as well, but in the meantime, how about a little fashion round-up? Something for everybody. Really, if there’s not at least something here you would try just for the fun of it, you need to expand your horizons!
An Arwen dress. You can also get an R2D2 one. And who wouldn’t?
In case you have played with the notion of becoming a crazy cat lady, this purse would be an excellent start. But in case that isn’t enough…
Yeah. That’s a cat, wearing a scarf, on a sweater. Yup.
Cicada earrings. Lets get buggy.
Zombie costume for those of us with a lot of motivation and detail orientation come Halloween.
Gun tights. Needs no explanation.
Those crazy kids and their crazy accessories. You can now buy a tail for your phone.
Laser kitten tie for the dapper men.
The next best thing to a real life invisible woman, sans the snap on and off fetus.
Such awesomeness. I’d probably fall while walking if I wore these because I would keep getting distracted by the sight of my colorful legs moving beneath me.
Got I want this so bad. It’s out of this world. Eh? Eh? Get it?
One more random fun thing before I go: I found a link that shows an old insane asylum that’s been converted into condos, offices, and shops. How cool is that? I’d live there. Or have my studio there. It has the potential to be very ‘Silent Hill,’ don’t you think? (Lots more before and after pics if you click on the link.)
It’s that time of winter where I’m desperately looking for signs of spring, and yet we’re still getting dumped on with snow. I have major cabin fever adding to my already just silly level of stress, and am in need of a little something to pick myself up. Outside of planning a get away, having an amazing and preferably deep fried meal, (ugh…), doing a little spring ‘nesting’ (yay new kitchen light fixture!), I like to look for random inspirations. This is why I am so addicted to Pinterest. But here are some things I’m finding amazing right now…
- Alyssa Monks ‘Scream 1.’ Alyssa’s ability to capture these moments in water and behind glass just blow me away. You almost have to be up close to realize it’s a painting. Incredible stuff.
- ‘Self Portrait Wearing a Scarf’ by Zinaida Serebriakova in 1911. I was not previously familiar with the work of Serebriakova, but have always loved the Art Nouveau period. This piece in particular kind of blew me away. It was completed more than 100 years ago and yet looks so current, and something about the loose brush strokes of the background and the captured expression on her face draw me in. She looks curious and optimistic, the kind of face I would see at a party and think that I just need to have a conversation with this person.
- Thought Catalog’s If I were to write a love letter to my dad by Amy Shock. My own dad has spent the last year and a half fighting multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood. It’s been rough, a major roller coaster and we’re currently facing a low bought. My mom’s strength through all of this has been incredible and inspiring and breaks my heart at the same time. I stumbled upon this blog post by complete accident while I was at work, and totally cried in my office.
- Love these photographs of knitted wigs by Louise Walker. Kind of Baroque, but a little candy sweet too. I guess I enjoy the doll-like quality of them. And how much cooler would that be to wear in a Midwest winter than a beanie?
- Remember when I posted about sneaker wedges? Well I did it, I bought these babies. And I was right, the most comfortable high heels ever. I wonder if I can wear them with evening attire? …I’d like to try…
Here’s a bit more of a work up of the sketch I posted with my last blog post. Just havin’ some fun.
Today I read an interesting article in the Guardian, by Emily Browne, “10 things about being an artist that art teachers don’t tell you.”
From having talked to many artists, both established and aspiring, I don’t think it comes as much surprise that after art school you are unleashed into the world with typically a pretty poor perception about what your in for, what your chances of making it are and what the realities of getting there are as well. It certainly was an eye opener for me. I knew in making the decision to go to art school that I wasn’t doing it for fame and fortune, but I wanted to be successful and make a living, and I didn’t know how to get anywhere else after I had walked down the isle to get my degree.
Here are the 10 ‘truths’ described in the article: (Quoted truths in purple)
1. Many artists work freelance. A study by the Arts Council finds that 41% of creative workers are self-employed. Temporary work contracts can make for an interesting and varied career, though periods of unemployment between jobs are a reality for some artists.
I remember finding that about halfway through my junior year in school, except outside of design work, I would have a hard time believing that percentage is that low. Freelancing is great, it can give you tons of freedom and chances to do all sorts of different projects, but you are essentially becoming a business owner, and that is something most are not ready for.
2. Freelance artists budget carefully. Being self-employed means you are without pension, holiday pay or maternity benefits. Contingencies such as falling ill or having children require pre-emptive financial planning.
If you’re not working a day job, or accomplished what one of my instructors told us was the best possible pieces of advice, to marry somebody with benefits and a full time job, a major illness can be a serious and life changing set back. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories. So yeah, you had better get yourself at the least an IRA account and a good financial advisor.
3. Artists self-promote. Many showcase their talents on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Linked in, as well as on their own websites. Having a good online presence shows employers that you are self-motivated and digitally literate.
Times were different when I graduated 10 years ago, social media was virtually non-existant in the mainstream at that time. (Wow, how quickly times change.) So a big part of self promotion was all about cold calls and mailings. We were sort-of kind-of prepared for that in school. I mean, they talked about printing postcards… But the truth of the matter is, if you expect to be found and swept into the best galleries and publications while never leaving your studio or taking your nose out of your sketchbook, you may be waiting a loooong time.
4. Artists love socialising. Networking events are the art world’s equivalent to job hunting, but with less misery and more booze. Whether you’re searching for commissions or trying to advance your career, networking gives you the chance to meet industry professionals and expose yourself to new opportunities.
Well… Kind of. If you’re an introvert, as many artists I know are, this is kind of a tough point. Not networking and self-promoting can be a the downfall for a serious introvert in their ability to build a career. And of course, it helps to live in a metropolitan area where there are networking and art meet-ups. But nobody can argue that networking is priceless. I am lucky to live near Chicago, where there are many events and groups to get involved in, but I admit, I need to be better about getting going and driving my butt into the city from the burbs.
5. Many artists form collectives to publicise and exhibit their work. Kate Rowland, an illustrator from the collective After School Club explains: “Being in After School Club is great for motivation. It allows us to utilise each other’s skills, therefore we have more resources to help one another. It’s kind of like a creative support system. And lots of fun.”
This is true and sort of ties in to the point above. Quite a few of the art shows I’ve taken part in were organized by other artists whom I know and respect.
6. It’s all about your portfolio. The visual arts are less grade-centric than other disciplines. An art director at a graphic design company once told me he’d think twice about hiring someone with a first-class degree, as he worried they’d have no time for hobbies outside of work. In his words, not mine, “they might be really boring”. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t aim high – another employer might appreciate a first-class candidate. Rather, you should focus on making your portfolio the best you can possibly make it. A good body of work speaks louder than grades.
Again, pretty much true. Clients are typically looking at your portfolio, rarely ever your resume. Nobody looking to hire me has ever asked me what my grade point average was in college, your work and professionalism should speak for themselves.
7. Some artists supplement their income with a second job. Doing so gives them financial security while they exercise their creative passions. Take a look at some of these prolific “double jobbers”.
Many do this. Many, many, many. Until you are established, or have a partner with steady income as I mentioned above, or are just a serious risk-taker, (or live at home with patient parents) you’re gonna get a job to pay the bills because no landlord cares if your art isn’t selling one particular month. It’s hard to juggle a job and put the hours that you want into building your art career, but it can be necessary at least to get started. And if you can get vested in a retirement plan while your at it, more power to you.
8. Many artists take on internships to help kick-start their career. Working for a company can prepare you with essential industry skills and improve your employability. The question of payment is a hot potato – in general, the shorter the internship, the less likely you are to get paid.
Yup. I know a lot of people who went this route, and it seems to be especially useful in our particular economy for those right out of design school. It’s a great way to get some credible experience and pieces in your portfolio that aren’t just ‘school’ projects.
9. Job opportunities are growing. There are currently over 1.9 million people working in the creative industries. However, by 2016, the government expects this figure to skyrocket, with an additional 1.3 million new jobs in the private sector alone.
Not to be a negative nellie, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Maybe in web and design?
10. The creative sector is characterised by high levels of job satisfaction. As a result, the industry is highly competitive and jobs are sought after. If you have the passion and the motivation to stay ahead of the game, then a creative career can be an exciting and rewarding experience.
This is true. Like I said earlier, I didn’t do this to make millions. Like many others, I pursued this career because I couldn’t do anything else. You could pay me 6-figures to sit in a cubicle, but I would be a miserable human being.
The one item I would add to this is that it’s imperative to always be expanding your talent/skill set. If you work digitally, know the newest software platforms. If you paint, keep learning new methods and pushing your understanding, if you do design work, stay up on the newest outlets, multi-media is king. Keep learning!
It’s a business and it’s hard work, but it’s worth it if you love it. I’m still working my way through these truths and trying to make a successful business myself. So here’s to a elbow grease and paint stains… and a little luck for everyone out there pouring their passions into their respective canvases.