As of yesterday, my daughter became a world record holder in the guiness book of world records for the largest swim lesson ever given. She says it was terrifying, so many small children, and it was just an excrutiating length of time of neverending saving kids from drowning. But she did it, and she and her colleagues are now in the record books!
First off, there is only six hours left on the kickstarter! So hop in while you can my friends! I’m excited!
Secondly, I am proud to announce that “Once Upon A Time” is now available for purchase through Amazon! I am one of the illustrators for the anthology this time around.
This charity is very close to my heart. They provide assistance and education on rape and abuse, and also run the military’s hotline for those who need to report such things and need help. They are incredible. www.rainn.org/ If you need help or a place to start looking for information if you have been harmed, they have a plethora of resources.
Come check out the interview with me on One Fantastic Week! www.onefantasticweek.com/jessi…
So if you're in Utah, we'll be having a one day event to benefit the Christmas Box International charity. It will feature live musicians, local artists, and great drinks at Sunset Coffee! THIS IS TONIGHT COME VISIT ME.
Here's a link to the event page, with the address and more details. It will be hosted April 30th, and I'm really excited to be there. I'll have a lot of new art that no one's seen, and some crazy fun things to share. So do please come down if you can.
So. My work was submitted to a museum at the end of last month, in the hopes of joining their longest running exhibit. On April 2nd, I found out that I had failed, and I was not accepted into the exhibit.
I went through the full flood of emotions, crushing failure, hopelessness, certainty that my work is just a hack and I really shouldn't do art anymore. Failure always seems to bring out the worst in me, the certainty that I will always fail because I am not good enough. I didn't write a post immediately on finding out, because I wanted to really experience the full range of emotions I feel, not just the initial sting of depression. I gave myself that first day to mourn the failure, and to acknowledge that I felt sad, rejected, and generally not great about things.
The following day, I picked myself up and decided to really look at the failure and see what went wrong. Was it truly that I was a shitty artist? Or was there another reason. Why exactly did I not succeed and what could I do in the future TO succeed? I took that moment say that I am not a failure in and of myself, that I can change my future, and I will.
As I analyzed the show and what was going on, it was super easy to say 'well they were just jerks' or 'pft they couldn't recognize fine art if it bit them in the ass'. The usual cheer you up talk that your friends will often say. The reason those fall flat on my ears is that it feels too much like excusing a failure, rather than acknowledging what went wrong. Every time I found myself saying something like that, I stopped my train of thought and continued on to the next.
I sat down and really looked at the show first. Not what was in the show, but *who the show was catered to*. This is something that I had not done before I submitted, and I truly should have. My pride in my work is pretty considerable, so at times I forget that it is not always everyone's cup of tea. In this case, the target audience for the show was a group of older, wealthy benefactors who have a taste for midwest art. Lots of scenic landscapes of waving wheat and paintings of deer, etc. That right there told me where I made my first mistake. I simply do not match the target audience in the least. So for future shows, I will make a point to be aware of the target audience and know if my work will be a good fit.
That thought in mind, I took a step back to compare the quality of my work to that accepted at shows that have a target audience compatible with what I do, and reached the conclusion that I am well within the pack of contenders for fine art. Had my work honestly not been of a fine enough quality, then I would reconsider sending that piece at ALL. But stepping out of myself to look at it, I do stand a good chance of being accepted in shows, they just have to be the RIGHT shows.
Does it still sting to not be accepted? Yes. Picking up my rejected piece will make my pride weep and twitch horribly. Do I think the museum didn't know what they were doing? No, the fault was mine in not researching their demographic first and submitting something more appropriate. Does it devalue that piece of art at all? Absolutely not. But that piece will be sent to a show that's more in line with my demographic, and I believe that success will come more easily.
It always hurts to be rejected from a show, a publisher, etc. Let yourself feel that hurt, but don't let it control you. If it means you need to take a step back and do something entirely different to break the train of sadness, then do it. If it means you need a friend to help you objectively look at why you didn't get in, by all means do. But remember... you'll win some, and you'll lose some, but you're never a failure. You just keep going and learn from every experience.
Edit: OMG TWO HOURS LEFT! I AM POSITIVELY HUMMING WITH EXCITEMENT!
This is it guys. We have three days left on the kickstarter. Three days. It WILL fund, as we’re way past funding amount at this point, but this is your last chance to get a print of the jellyfish dreaming tree as it is ONLY with this kickstarter, for backers at the $25 mark or higher.
I am so overwhelmed. So overwhelmed and so completely excited. I wanted to do a big huge update but everything at the house is basically just stacks of mat board waiting to be cut! So the three bottom pictures are me experimenting with one of the test prints (done to make sure that the paper is actually good quality and the prints look nice), where I was gilding the gold parts of the dragon’s mane to mimic the original painting. No, the prints won’t come gilded, it takes about three hours to do ONE print, but this was fun to play around with.
I am so excited everyone. New art will be coming as soon as I make it through this kickstarter, but right now I am just FLAILING with delight! Dream come true right now, right here.
I love you guys.
This is a question that plagues me every time I work on something new, and is one of the reasons I was so hesitant to even DO kickstarter. What if I fail? What if I post up this project and you all watch me crash and burn? There is nothing I hate more than public humiliation and failing in public would be emotionally devastating. So it took me weeks and weeks to do a simple kickstarter and build up the nerve to post it.
It occurs to me, that part of why I feel this way, is that myth that if you are a 'real' artist, then everything you do must be a success. Everything you touch turns to gold, every sketch, every doodle is priceless. You cannot fail, for you are a master at your craft and even the worst of your work is more incredible than the average layman could dream of making.
This is a mythology that I think a lot of us buy into. Too many of us count the successes, only speak of the triumphs, and pretend the box of failures does not exist. We do not talk about submissions to publishers and our piles of rejection letters, until someone is on the verge of giving up art entirely. Only then do we mention it casually, a little 'oh yeah I've failed in the past, don't worry, you'll get there.'
Get where? To a magical point where failure simply does not happen? Where 'no' is no longer in our career's vocabulary? I feel like this is crippling, and maybe it is time to embrace the possibility of failure as real as the possibility of success. And that failure is not a bad thing. As the song goes, it's time to win some or learn some. Failure is just another learning experience and we gain from it regardless.
So today I share that I am nervous. I may fail, I have been rejected before. But tomorrow morning I drop off my art at the Springville Museum of Art, to undergo the jury process once more and see if I make the grade for display. I may, and I may not. But I am giving it a try. And if I fail, I will share that with you as well, and what I've learned from the experience.
Maybe now I can learn to get over my fear of failure, and take the big risks and the chances I wouldn't otherwise, because that is the only way to grow into all that I can possibly be.
Hey all! So I have some news regarding the kickstarter and I thought I’d update it here.
I said when I started that if it hit $1,000 I was going to do something special, and so I am! For all backers at the $25 or higher level (so you’re getting one of the dragon prints), I am including a limited edition print of my Jellyfish Dreaming Tree. I felt it was an appropriate thank you for helping me make one of my dreams come true, by sharing my favorite dreaming tree with you all.
This edition is special because I am specifically limiting it to THIS kickstarter. That means this is the only time you will be able to get this particular print, and once it is gone, it is gone!
There’s a bit over two weeks left on the kickstarter and I am just.. so overjoyed and happy about it, I can’t babble enough. If you’re just hearing about it now, you can find it here:
And it is for the Out of the Ashes, beaded dragon that you’ve all seen on my blog. But here’s a little reminder:
So, a few months ago I asked you all to tell me what you thought about your art. There were a few people who were happy about their art, but the overwhelming majority felt a sense of disappointment, frustration, upset. They were unhappy with their work.
That's a hard thing to feel, to be unhappy with the thing that you do out of love. I've felt that before so I know how crushing it can be and how hard it can be to pick yourself up and continue trying. One thing I noticed, when I feel that way, is that it's often born out of a lack of direction, and a lack of understanding of what I've done right in the past. It's so easy to see all the wrong choices you've made, we're practically hardwired to go 'oh god that was so awful'. The problem is, how can your artistic career (be it writing or drawing) grow into a beautiful tree, if you don't have faith in the roots that support it?
So I'd like you all to do a little exercise. I'd like you all to take a step back into your past, and pull up an older piece of work. This time when you look at it, and this will be really hard for some of you so if you need help feel free to message me. But when you look at it, I want you to look at what you did *right* in that drawing.
It doesn't have to be done perfectly, it just needs to be the first step of the right things you do in art. The things you liked about it, the things you may still like about it. What did you do right?
I'll kick us off.
This is a really, really old piece of mine. The first thing I want to do is talk about all the things I did wrong, but every time I get the urge to point them out, I'm going to take my hands off the keyboard and just stare at the picture until I focus on something I did right.
This was my first time doing an off balance composition, where the flowers jut higher to one side, rather than being perfectly symetrical, and I really feel I pulled that composition off. In fact I think I did a great job with the flowers overall, not too cluttered and an interesting variety. I also did a great job with the tones, not making the background the same tone as the foreground figures, so nothing gets lost in a blur of 'sameness'. And I was clearly on my way to great floaty hair!
You don't need to write a whole lot about your pieces. Even just one thing is fine. But find something good about your old art. Those are your foundations of understanding, the things you grasped first and are often strongest at.
I have faith in you guys. Together we can all come to have more faith in our art, and our abilities, no matter what level we're at. Be good to yourself. You are amazing.
Tarot I've finished the 78 Tarot Queen of Pentacles card, but am not able to post a full piece until they update it. So please keep an eye on their tumblr and facebook pages for updates! The new deck is looking simply phenomenal. If you are in Seattle, keep an eye out as a gallery exhibit is in the works and you may be able to see the original painting first hand!
DRAGON PRINTS I will be doing a kickstarter in the next week, for fine artist prints of Out of the Ashes. The paper will be bamboo paper, so it's a bit richer and has more character than normal printing does.
Museum I've sent in for another museum exhibit so keep your eyes open. I'll know march/april if I got in.
Conduit Those of you coming to CONduit this year, where I will be the artist guest of honor, will have another treat. My dad has gotten his tickets and will be attending as well! So please come and hang out with us, we're a weird lot, but we do have a lot of laughs and that's what counts, right?
Anthology I will be one of the illustrators in the new Cliches for a Cause Anthology, with the proceeds going to the RAINN foundation.
So... keep your eyes out, more things are coming!
1 pm: Creating Backgrounds and Layouts
5 pm: The artistic Road to fame
1 pm: Designing the Dead
2 pm: Fantasy vs Science Fiction
9 am: Making creatures realistic to their environment
2 pm: Buildings and structures
5 pm: Myth & Symbol, History and Fantasy
I still don't know what time I'll be there tomorrow, for the art show set up. Expect me 'at some point' lol. Between panels I will probably be wandering around aimlessly, or squished in a corner somewhere arting. Please feel free to waylay me to chat. If you want art crits at all, bring the art with you, if you want *redlining*, bring tracing paper cause I'm all out, and I'll redline on the paper so you can take it home.
The amazing Ayla Albertoni was the winner! Congrats!!
How do you paint a fish, when it darts away beneath your brush to hide behind the kelp? How do you lay down the golden scales when the dragon is perpetually in motion? Sometimes I don't paint at all, because I'm sitting there staring at the painting and falling into it. It feels as though I could just... reach my hand out and rather than touch paper, my arm would go through it and I would tumble into the artwork and be lost forever.
At this point I have no idea what my finished art looks like, and that's troubling. So I'm asking a favor... please don't critique my art for a while. That is critique in the sense of message me to tell me what's wrong with it. It's not that I don't appreciate the intent to help me improve, it's that I literally... can't see it. I can't even ask for redline help during the drawing process because it just moves on me before I draw it and I'm frustrated all over again. I've got a doctor's appointment where hopefully they will put me on some decent antipsychotics so that I can get this under control, because how the hell am I supposed to grow and improve as an artist under these conditions?
I'm so frustrated.
And you are more than welcome to voice any opinions at all, like or hate, about the art. Just understand that as far as critiques go, they're pretty much worthless to me until my brain is functioning again.
HELLO ALL I WOULD LIKE TO ANNOUNCE THE OPENING OF MY NEW WEBSITE!
I am so excited! And in honor of the new website, I am raffling off the ORIGINAL of my windswept piece! For the next two weeks, you can enter on my website, for a chance to win this piece!
My website is: jessicamdouglas.com/
I am also offering 10% off coupon on my shop from now until febuary 7th! Just type in 'newsite' when you go to check out!
Please explore, look around, check out the art and all. I plan on having a full tutorial section in later, and will be posting more videos up in the video section as I work. It will be THE place to find out where my art can be found, to shop for my pieces, and to see the latest news.
There is also a contact page, so you can ask me questions about art at any time and I will answer as soon as possible!
I'll announce the winner of the original on sunday, feb. 8th!
Please share this around, I'm really really really excited about the new site!
For those that don't know, I was fortunate to be chosen as one of the artists exhibited at the Springville Museum of Art, for their exhibit on religious and spiritual art in Utah. A friend of mine found out about the exhibit and pushed me to enter, and so I did and was honestly surprised to be chosen. I am an atheist, and my take on spiritual subjects comes from the viewpoint of a nonbeliever, using metaphores to handle complicated subjects. I wasn't sure if they'd like that at all.
The day I got the email that I got in, I literally screamed. I flailed, I jumped out of my chair and danced. I called all of my loved ones and squeeled to them. For me this was the culmination of the ultimate dream. You see, when I was in art school, illustration was a dirty word. They always said, you'll know if you've made it when you are in a museum. Not a gallery, a museum. That was the sign of achievement and that was the secret dream that I tucked away in my heart and never dared to voice, because it was never really an option. And then suddenly it was.
The opening day I was there first thing, with my daughter. Mainly to avoid traffic and being late, but dammit I was THERE. So we got to walk the show with no one else there (since we were early) and see it. I felt a bit off during the show, and it wasn't until the museum director spoke that I realized that the problem was. "Thank you for joining us to celebrate all the wonderful diversity of religion and spiritual choices in art! Please enjoy this celebration of diversity!"
It was diverse, but... very christian. VERY biblical. Even pieces that I thought were other religions because I recognized the trappings of muslim, hindu and so on, when you would read the artist's statements they had been changed to stories from the bible and that was unsettling. I wondered if that was the original intent, or if the artist simply changed it to be more accepted to the mainstream? There was only a handful of art that was not christian based. That was the source of my disturbance. Not the beauty of the displays, but the feeling of hopelessness it gave me when I walked through and saw so LITTLE diversity in an exhibit ... about diversity. It was heartbreaking, and yet at the same time.. I was in a museum. I was living my dream, and just by being there I was showing a unique part of Utah that not many get the chance to experience and touch. Spirituality for atheists, how we handle the topics like death, hope, dreams, the intangibles. How do we make sense of the world without a god there to make sense for us? How could I feel hopeless when I was not completely alone in standing up and showing another side of spirituality and religion in this exhibit?
When I went home and thought about it, I realized that in some ways the display was very apt and appropriate for the way the world, or at least america, is. We tout our diversity and yell to the rafters about melting pots and how everyone is welcome, but when we truly gather, the overwhelming masses tend to be front and center while the unique, the odd and not dominant religions and races tend to be overlooked, to be hesitant to come out and say "this is what I am, this is who I am. Accept it or walk away, but I am here to stay." It is not that we are not here, it is that our voices are quieter, that there are fewer of us, that we are sometimes easily missed in the riot people around us.
I went to the museum today and my thoughts were so full. The ladies who worked there greeted me with smiles, and were so wonderfully professional with my work. They used gloves to handle all of the art, and removed it from the wall with a great deal of care and reverence. You could tell these were women who truly love art in all it's forms. They checked the pieces over to make sure they were not damaged in the course of the exhibit, and then signed me out. I was in a haze of being impressed with how efficient, and caring they were, and took my pieces home with me.
And now I sit here after having done what my heart desired most, gazing at my artwork and thinking heavy thoughts. That perhaps it is time that I do more, speak more, show at more places like this. Be more serious in my art, because if I was the only atheist to show... then that meant I was the only source of 'you are not alone in this world' for that display. And that's been the case my whole life, looking for someone to lead the way and say "you are not alone, you are not the only one and you can still make a difference and be an incredible person." But maybe instead of looking for someone to lead the way, I should simply walk forwards and trust in myself. I am my own light in the darkness.
And that's okay.