I may have mentioned this before but I love listening to podcasts. My list seems to grow every month as more, interesting series come to my attention. I stared listening to Radio Lab a few years ago and it was like my gateway drug. Podcasts allow me to insert information into my brain while I am working and inspire me to apply new concepts to my art.
It was through podcasts that I learned of some of the women I painted or my Women Behaving Badly series. I heard their stories, learned of their deeds and asked myself, why have I never heard of these women before? So, I set myself to the task of using my art to teach others. I felt as though I had finally found my purpose.
Listening to Hidden Brian today, I heard an episode which added to my motivation. The topic of the episode was unconscious bias as it relates to women, particularly women in leadership roles. Women who have the “masculine” traits necessary to be seen as good leaders are often considered overbearing and unlikable. When women display the expected “feminine” traits of being caring and compassionate, they are assumed to be weak and incompetent. The podcast calls this the “double bind”. It is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.
The end of the podcast suggests that if we are to get women out of this double bind situation, we need to change society’s perception of women. I have chosen to showcase women in history as my way of changing that perception. I highlight women leaders, inventors and healers of nations. Not only do they inspire me, our society needs to see them as contributors to who we are. We need to let go of our unconscious biases and see value in the feminine.
Check out this episode of Hidden Brain to learn more. And go to my Women Behaving Badly blog to learn more about the series.
Despite how we are portrayed in movies, we artists do not exist inside a vacuum. Often, we are surrounded by other creative individuals whose work inspires and encourages us to be our greater selves. We discuss concepts, techniques, and tools. We critique each other’s work. Artists have the ability to look at styles completely different from our own and have those styles inform how we approach our newest project.
I have long been a lover of comic books. I see them as the perfect marriage of the written word and the image. A beginner in the art of sequential storytelling myself, I am intrigued by those who are able to blend story and art so seamlessly. I have recently joined a group of such individuals who create comics and graphic novels. Their tales range from sci-fi to slice of life, fantastical to personal.
And then there’s Urban Arkanum. When the owner and founder Anubis Heru-Cole and I met, he was pushing his clothing line: ancient Egyptian symbols emblazoned in gold and silver on t-shirts and hoodies. As we got to know one another, he shared with me his plans to write a graphic novel. It would be an Afrocentric fantasy story about kings and gods. Of course, I was intrigued. This is not the kind of story I usually come across in my perusal of bookstores and comic shops.
The world is falling apart. A massive horde of genetically engineered creatures systematically stalk and terrorize the people of the planet. Their only aim seemingly, to hunt and kill every last hue-man. Fortunately the powerful Kingdom of Avaris has the military might to thwart this evil menace. But there is more at stake, environmental weather anomalies have begun to surface and cause substantial damage to the planet. A young prince and three unlikely heroes must join together to find an ancient artifact that can bring balance back to their world. In the midst of conflict and danger lurking around every turn, will they find the artifact in time?
Don’t miss the action packed Sci-fi/Fantasy Acid of the Godz, created by Anubis Heru and Theo Wilson. Comic book Illustrated by Ryan Best.
I am happy to report that not only is the project underway, it is gorgeous! Check out the pages below and follow Acid of the Godz on Facebook and Instagram.
Happy New Year everybody! That’s it, 2016 is over and it’s time to ring in 2017. It has been a wild ride, full of ups and downs, pleasure and pain, happiness and sorrow. As we move into this new year, it helps to reflect, but let’s not forget to look forward.
This is the time of year to set goals. January is when we change the things we don’t like about ourselves and improve upon those things we love about ourselves. I have never been good about making and sticking to resolutions. I find that plans have a way of changing or falling through if there is no accountability.
The thing that works for me is setting a theme for the year. Last year’s theme was “Growth”. I worked to grow my business and grow the relationships most important to me. I think this year’s them will be “Learning”. There is so much information that I put into my head on a regular basis, but to be honest, it doesn’t all stick. This year, I want to be more intentional with my learning so that I actually retain the information I take in.
A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for the Realistic Portraits course with Jason Seiler on schoolism.com. Just doing the first couple of lessons has showed me where I have become complacent with my art. Doing the assignments will (hopefully) make me more deliberate with my artwork and help me improve my skills. With any luck, that deliberateness will leak into other aspects of my life, making me a better person as well as a better artist.
What is your theme for the new year? I’d love to hear what motivates you!
Many freelancers like to talk about their nightmare clients, those people who seem not to know exactly what they want but will happily tell you that you’re doing everything wrong. These folks have little respect for the time and effort you are exerting on their behalf. They ask for re-dos and redesigns of work you both approved but balk at the extra fees you charge for that extra time.
That’s one end of the spectrum. The other end is the Dream Client. The Dream Client knows exactly what she wants and communicates it well. She is open to your input, but will not blindly follow or reject your suggestions. If, during the creation process, she sees something she doesn’t like, she lets you know and is specific about her needs. This client has great respect for your time and for your skill. She won’t haggle over the price of your work or drag her feet when it’s time to pay.
Best of all, Dream Clients come back for more. Not only do they purchase from you again and again, they tell their friends and bring you more business. I am so grateful for all of the Dream Clients I have so far. I hope to find many more.
If you are interested in becoming one of my Dream Clients, I am taking orders for the Holidays. Be aware, if you or your loved one lives outside of the state of Colorado, allow for shipping and place your order before December 6th. If you are in the Denver Metro area, you have until the 12th to order.
A couple of weeks ago, I ran into my friend Mike Rosenbaum, a caricature artist here in Denver. He and I had gone to school together, but haven’t hung out in a long time. We immediately made plans to catch up. He told me about this life drawing session at the Lakewood Cultural Arts Center, so we headed over there on Thursday.
Life Drawing in a Nutshell
If are an artist and you have never been to a life drawing session, I highly recommend that you go regularly. I hadn’t gone in over a year, but it came back pretty quickly. Different sessions have different formats, but the basics are:
Short gesture drawings, usually 1-five minutes per pose
Longer poses, about 10 minutes or so
Slightly longer poses 20-30 minutes each. Here the model is usually seated or reclined, though some will stand.
Long poses of 40 minutes to 2 hours. For the longest of these, the model will take a break at the halfway point to rest, then resume the pose to the best of his/her ability.
The session I went to last week had about five 1-minute poses, five 5-minute poses, one 10-minute poses and four poses that were between 20 and 30 minutes long. One minute per pose is a harrowing pace if you’re not used to it. It is, however, essential. If you can figure out the pose at one minute, with 20 or 30, you will have so much more time to work in the details. This makes it all worthwhile, to me.
Below are the drawings I did last week. One is missing because I gave it to the model. Sometimes they will take art in lieu of tips, though tips are encouraged as well.
Thanks for stopping in! Don’t forget that this Saturday is the Meet The Artist reception for Women Behaving Badly at the Blair Caldwell Library. I will be there from 2:30 -4:30 pm to answer any questions you have about the art and the series.
I have mentioned my wife Marin in a few of my posts now. I want to let you know a little about her and what she does.
My wife is brilliant. Just after graduating from college, she applied for and received the Fulbright Grant. If you don’t know about this, it is crazy hard to get, especially on the first try and especially for those who are not already Grad students. She used this grant to spend a year and a half in China researching their food culture. Did I mention she speaks fluent Mandarin? Did I mention she was brilliant?
When Marin came home, she started volunteering for this organization that works with refugees in Aurora. Through that organization, she met Zin Zin, a young Burmese women who is as passionate about cooking as Marin is about eating. They formed a partnership, teaching nutrition classes to other Burmese refugees who did not know what to do with the items at the food share. Not all vegetables are created equal.
That partnership has turned into a deep friendship which has culminated in Marin’s efforts to help grant Zin Zin’s wish to open Denver’s first Burmese restaurant. Together, they are hosting a five course Burmese Dinner to raise funds for Zin Zin’s restaurant. Follow the link below to learn more and to get your seat at the table. I am one of the lucky few who gets to eat Zin Zin’s cooking regularly. As she builds her catering business and eventually gets her own space, you could be as lucky too.
Burmese Village, the fundraising dinner will be on
November 12th 6-9pm
at the Spring Institute
1373 Grant St
Good afternoon! I’m getting a late start again, but with good reason. I was off getting a fresh hair cut so that I can be pretty for the panel tonight. This evening’s event is Women in Literature. The three women I have invited to speak, Robyn Vie-Carpenter Brisco, Jennifer Kincheloe and Cassi Clark, will be talking about their new books, what got them into writing, and whatever other topics come up.
Join us tonight at:
Coffee at The Point
710 26th Ave
Good Morning Friends of Afro Triangle! I decided to take the weekend off and waited until today to post. I think I’ll stick to this trend. On the weekends, I generally prefer to sleep in, so posting first thing in the morning sometimes interferes with my other plans for the day.
In any case, I want to talk to you about exercise. I know, this seems a strange subject for an artist. Don’t you just sit around and paint all day, I hear you asking? Yes. And that’s kind of the point. The human body was meant to move. Our muscles don’t like to be sedentary. Sitting and painting, or sitting on the computer all day without getting up are bad for the body. Such inactivity causes the body to have bad habits which result in injury when you finally do move.
Last week was insane for me. I moved from my studio in Boulder to my studio in Denver, hosted a panel discussion on Wednesday, spoke in a panel on Thursday and sold art at a Poetry Night on Friday. I was actually still moving studios all the way through Friday, then unpacking Saturday and Sunday. It was a lot of physical and mental work. Without regular exercise, I would be wrecked right now!
These days I do Capoeira two-three times a week, and that’s enough for me. Some of you might need more exercise, some of you less. You have to listen to your own body. And keep in mind, I’m not advocating weight loss or “getting in shape”. I just mean body maintenance. Get your heart rate up, get flexible, get moving. I have two panel discussions this week, one on Wednesday and one on Friday. You bet I’m going to get enough sleep and get some exercise!
Good morning Afro Triangle friends. Today begins a week of transitions. I am starting the move to my new studio today. I get to box up all my belongings, assessing what I actually need and what I’ve been hanging onto “just in case”. Somehow, I always find a bunch of things I don’t use. Then I get rid of them. And months later I wonder where they got to. It happens almost every time I change up my style.
I actually move into the new space tomorrow. I am so excited! There will finally be enough room for my festival tent AND my finished paintings. My in laws will be happy to have that part of the garage back. Most importantly, I will be able to take meetings in the middle of the day and still work in my studio. Until now, meeting with people meant giving up on studio time because of the commute.
After moving , I get to transition into my role as hostess. Tomorrow night is the Women in STEM panel discussion, the first of several for the month. I will be at Coffee at The Point with my four panelists. Click here for the blog post about the speakers. The talk starts at 6 PM I, so I have to get cleaned up and ready by 5:30.
By Thursday, I go back to setting up the studio. But somewhere in there, I transition into businesswoman. Being self employed means constantly setting up that next paying gig. There are emails, phone calls, meetings and negotiations. I am only now starting to embrace it. Truth be told, I would rather be painting in my studio.
It’s going to be a busy week. I hope I can share some of it with you.
Good morning Afro Triangle Friends. This weekend I have been binge-watching Tac au Tac, a French TV show from the 70s. Famous cartoonists of the time get together to play all kinds of fun drawing games. There are no prizes, just the final picture.
I have watched the following video over a dozen times. I appreciate the way these guys ran with a single concept and expanded upon it. Jean Giraud begins with a box, then each man follows instructions to create elements of the past, present and future. What I hadn’t done before was think about what was happening at the time they were creating this image. You see, this episode was filmed in 1972, while the Vietnam war was still raging. Two of the artists, Neal Adams and Joe Kubert, are American.
People had been protesting the war for almost a decade in the States, and both artists would have already formed their opinions about it. Adams was staunchly against the war while Kubert was known for drawing war comics. I thought it was interesting that once the drawing was on the war path, to hear what Adams was saying to Giraud. He said that no matter what you write on that box, violence could be what comes out. You could put love, you could put religion, and still people would find a reason to fight.
I’m still mulling over what I think about that. Another observation… Giraud drew a guy who looks very much like a German soldier. He would have been 2 years old when the Germans invaded Paris in 1940. I couldn’t tell you how much he remembered of those four years, but it must have been embedded in his psyche somewhere.
My work on Women Behaving Badly has made me think differently about older footage now. Thinking about the context in which things are happening has given me a richer experience of these older films than I could have imagined. I finally understand history!
Good morning Afro Triangle Friends. I hope you have been having a good weekend. Yesterday, I got to do some live portrait drawing at a block party in my neighborhood. It was over at the Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-being. It had a great turnout and there were fun activities for adults and kids alike. I didn’t get to partake though, because I was drawing people almost nonstop for about four and a half hours.
I had not realized how exhausting that could be until I hit about hour two. My shoulders were starting to cramp and I had to stop after each portrait to stretch. It was worth it, though. I had a lot of happy customers. I noticed that I only had female customers. Women and girls of all ages came up to have their portraits drawn. No men, no boys. My fellow portrait artists and caricaturists, have you noticed this phenomenon?
The drawings went over so well, a number of people asked if I could do their private parties. Looks like this will be a new addition to my business model. Next time though, I’m bringing a cushion!