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.
Here we go. Being an artist is a weird exercise in having ultimate, total confidence, while also having the humility to accept criticism with grace, and know that you are not the bomb. Except that you have to be 'the bomb' for people to want to buy your art, so you still have to radiate 'I am the best' confidence, while also not being too egotistical. When you send your work in to art directors, you need to have the ultimate confidence to be able to do ANYTHING they ask of you while also having the humility to bow to their art direction. When you speak at conventions you need to have total confidence for your craft and your right to be there as a professional, while still maintaining the conviction that your fanbase is wonderful even if it is not as large as another artist's fanbase, or your success is not measured in the same way as the artist next to you.
It is such a juggling act, to be your biggest fan while also not being too big for your briches. To be self aware of your art to continue growing and evolving as an artist, while still being completely confident in your art at the level it is currently at. While I talk about this, I notice that I have several conflicting emotions that are each triggered by different events. So I'll just go through them one at a time.
What is my value as an artist?
The first is just the basics. There are billions of artists out there, how am I in any way unique or important enough for people to care about? It is so easy to go onto sites like deviantart, and be overwhelmed with the sheer number of artists there are. You look at the mass amounts of images, music, dance, sculpture, fabric weaving, etc. etc. and it just feels like the whole world is nothing but art. And to some degrees that is true. A single artist has a profound effect on everything around them. One drawing can ripple and change entire rooms. The way we live art is shown in our architecture and our clothing, in our furniture.. everything about us. So it really does feel like everyone is an artist.
Would it surprise you to know that artists make up only 1.8% of the civilian workforce? Princeton did a survey that was as broad in the definition of art as possible, and established that in 2011 there were only 2,511,000 artists in america. www.princeton.edu/culturalpoli…
Think about that. Two and a half million artists in ALL of America, all three hundred and sixteen million people! Granted, there is some leeway, but even being very generous in your numbers, you still only get about two percent of the population are artists. You truly do have a very, very rare skillset that IS valuable. It's what you do with it that makes the difference. But you, yourself, as you exist, have uniqueness and value.
Just what is fame and success?
Fame is my bane. Success is what I know. One of the worst things about being a guest at conventions is that there is always someone who is a bigger draw than you are. When I go to a speaking engagement, the biggest thing I fear is someone going 'just who is this looser that's taking up my time?' Or worse... 'couldn't they have gotten someone more well known?'. I know I can keep a crowd engaged, I know I can do GREAT panels, but man. I am not Brom. I am not one of those big names who people rush to in order to see, and I know it. Believe me I know it.
Right before I crumble from my doubts, I have to stop and count up my successes. I have to stop and know what I HAVE DONE to achieve all that I have so far. I have to, or I cannot walk up to the front of the room and address a crowd full of strangers and say "I am a professional."
I have education like no body's business, I have the skills to pay the bills, that is the most important part. I have shown in so many galleries it's not even funny, all across the world. And fans? I used to think only a handful of people knew who I was at all, then about five years ago a friend tried to cheer me up by counting every single unique name across all of the sites, emails, conventions that I attended for one year, and reached the conclusion that I had roughly 97,000 fans. That's not a very big number in the large scale of things, sure. And it's spread out across SO MUCH, that it's hard to realize that 97,000 different people *spoke about my art*. It really made me smile after a while. And.. I have not had to work a retail job in years. I have kept my bills paid, and while I'm not wildly rich, I have not been homeless.
Fame is a funny thing. There are people who have incredible names but cannot get a job to save their souls. Frazetta was mourning that no one wanted his style of work, in his later years. I have sat at numerous panels and watched artists who work for Marvel, DC, DISNEY and other places mourn the lack of work and how no one seems to care. The whole panel at one con turned into a big fest of 'no one likes my art enough'.
But you know... when I walk into the room, I am the only person who can do what I do... and that's why I'm there. I am not there because I am the most popular, I am not there because of who I know. I am there because what I do is incredible, worthwhile, and for a little moment in time I can sit down and answer the real, hard questions for people. Face to face, at their pace.. we can talk about what I do and how I do it. We can talk about the pros and cons of both a school education and a self taught artist because I have been a little of both. We can talk about helping children grow as artists, because I have a unique perspective on that, we can talk about SO MANY things... and it can help someone else. And that's the important part at the end of the day. When I walk into those rooms, I draw the successes I have had around me like a cloak, and for a little while I simply am the expert. I am the professional. I am the place with the answers and I will give my all to that moment. And when I go home, I can have self doubt, and I can worry about if I am enough. But for that moment in that room, I am enough.
Success is where it is at, every single time. And there are hundreds of thousands of artists who are quietly being successful without the glamor of being a household name.
And I think that's okay with me too.
Standing your ground
The hardest part is when you have to stand up and say "Hey, give me the same respect as my peers.". I know a few people will roll their eyes at this, but as a woman this can be even more of a trial. One of the more well known male artists in the art industry made a statement in an article that there are no famous female artists, because women cannot paint. He said "The market has spoken", basing his claim on the fact that no woman has outsold the highest selling male artists. Ironically about three weeks after his article hit the news, a woman did, indeed, outsell him. A woman from the 1800's, but a woman none the less.
One of my teachers in art, was a man named Mike Dringenberg. Shortly after I had mastered my first watercolor lessons from him, I did a painting that I called creation. I gave it to him as a gift, and a thank you for devoting so much time to me, as an artist. I remember his words, he was shocked and almost reverent as he said "Why would you give this to me? You should sell it! You can get several hundred dollars for it!"
And he was speaking honestly. When he looked at my art, the value he placed on it was in the hundreds of dollars. I never realized how important that was to me until I began to price my originals for sale and had people fight me on it. Inevitably the argument over the price came down to time. How much was my time worth, and did I really spend that much time on that piece? When money is involved, it feels like every artist stumbles just a little, their feelings of self worth can influence their estimation and just how much value they put on their time.
Learning to value your time is one of the most important things you can do as an artist. Not only your time spent painting, but your time spent in ANY way involved with the art. What education did you have? Were you school taught? Value those lessons. Were you self taught? Value that. Did you spend an hour driving to a con only to sit in a corner with a young girl and go over her sketchbook for the next three hours? That, my friends, is priceless. Every moment counts and is worthwhile, so do not be afraid to ask for your worth. Be it in monetary gain, in promotional gain (please please always have your name where you are going, on the art you are selling. I have read too many stories of artists who did the art for designer labels that never received name credit), or simply emotional gain.. such as sitting with that girl and helping her to grow. Know what you want out of every exchange and don't be afraid to ask for it.
But what if people argue iwth me? Well.. then they argue. I think the thing that frightens people the most about asking for their worth are manipulation tactics. Where the other person tries to make you feel guilty, tries to push you onto the defensive, and make you feel bad for asking for something in return. For me, it's hard because that's when all of my self doubts from the earlier paragraphs sneak up. Well I'm really not that well known... well... I mean I did only spend five hours on that and I mean maybe I should only charge minimum wage because the person I'm talking to only makes minimum wage, etc. It happens. It does and it's hard when it happens. I don't have good advice for myself on this because I don't really know how to deal with it and I become terrified that my ego is getting in the way. Just who do I think I AM asking for these things? I think I'll leave this with the words of my friend Desiree, who said this: "I think what you're describing is healthy self-confidence, and that's something that every professional has to have. The difference is that as an artist you have to trade on the value of your name and the value of tangible products that you've created. Maybe to someone who isn't running their own business based solely on their own talents and skills that looks like egotism, but in my opinion it's both something that has to be done for you to run your business and also something that is psychologically healthy, b/c it means that you value yourself and your creations."
78 Tarot is celebrating it's 1 year birthday. And to kick it off... is the announcement of the next deck!
78 Tarot NAUTICAL themed! I'm so excited guys!
Along with the new theme comes several returning artists, and a lot of new favorites. They'll be announcing them bit by bit throughout the day over on their facebook page: www.facebook.com/78TarotProjec… as well as having some giveaways!
The first major announcement, Amy Brown has joined the deck, and will be doing one of our Wild Cards that were so popular last deck!
Guys I'm so excited. Jump over, join the fun! You can also follow the announcements on the tumblr site here: 78tarot.tumblr.com/
Or the actual website, here: seventy-eight-tarot.com/
You know. Sometimes I look at my art, and I feel completely frustrated. Stagnated. I feel like I have been trying and trying for so many years and I am STILL not where I want to be, where I strive to be. It's worse if I think about my friends and colleagues, who all started out about the same skill level as me, and yet some have grown into world re-knowned artists who's work truly is mindboggling. I sit here and think.. wtf have I been doing. All I do is putter around with these pencils, and then get distracted with shiny rocks and stones. Why am I not painting masterpieces like the glorious or dazzling with watercolors the way the incredible does?
It's very self defeating, because I look at them and I see what their vision is, what they are seeing and creating, and I forget about my own visions. I forget about what I see and create, what drives me. To be honest, I've been in that slump for months now, because I just.. didn't feel that I could live up to the images in my head, that I haven't grown in years. It got even worse when I found that box of old art. Oh my god, half of that work could be posted TODAY and no one would realize it was a billion years old. That's how little I've improved.
Or so I tell myself.
I had a few moments, where I had some older pieces that I was quite happy with as they were back when I painted, that these days just don't feel so finished. They were the top of my skill, the best I could do when I did them. And so ... I colored over them. Not even redrawing the images, I just flat out sat down and colored over them entirely.
My mother figure was so lovely in my head, matronly, beautiful... wise.. wtih her butterflies skittering about. I loved her hands, I felt so comfortable with it back when I painted it. And yet now.... when I colored over her, just iwth a little bit of pencils and watercolors...
You cannot say that I have not grown as an artist. The same iamge, but worlds difference in handling tone, color, skin, contrast...
My growth did not come with anatomy, but it came with the mastering of the mediums I love best. Of utilizing color, textures, patterns.
It comes to us in different ways, and when I look at the changes I've made as an artist, when I compare me *to myself*... I am so proud of how far I've come.
Another thing I've noticed is a definite style is beginning to develop. I can't define it, I will leave that to better artists than I, to understand the intricacies of what my style is. All I can do is feel my way along. But I"m starting to SEE it, to see what makes my work uniquely my own. And that's incredible for me.
And finally I will leave you with this difference. My two skin coloring tutorials. My very first one, made... probably ten years ago:
and my second one, made much more recently:
If reviewing those doesn't show the growth and change as an artist, I don't know what will.
And those are just redoing old pieces.... when I stop and compare my subject matter from the past, to what is in my head now... I've grown as an artist in a philosophical way. My understanding of WHY I draw has truly come leaps and bounds. I didn't realize it till i realized that my life goal was literally.. to be in a museum. To be seen, in places where people contemplate art purely to FEEL. Not in places where they buy pretty prints to hang on their wall. The art is stil beautiful, yes, but... it has a depth of meaning that I crave and need.
So... perhaps I am not as stagnant as I thought I was. I believe I have some new art to do.
There's the list of the pieces, sorry about the bad quality of the photos, I am still on bedrest so too frustrated with moving around to take good quality pictures.
FIrst come, first serve, you can message me here or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
How are you all? How was your holiday? Was it wonderful? I truly hope so.
What I'd really love help with, is a small project I don't want to fully disclose just yet. I'd like you all to stop and take a moment and think about your art, where you are right now and how you feel about it.. and answer truthfully. How do you feel about your art at the start of this year? do you like it? Do you hate it? What do you think when you look at your work.
If you wish to answer anonymously, you may email me at email@example.com, OR you can post anonymously to me on tumblr at drovie
Newyears resolutions? I'm not a big fan of them. I always seem to forget them almost as soon as I made them. However I feel that this year I can tell myself that my resolution is to continue forwards, being an artist first, and caring about commercialism second. To sink deeper into self exploration and learning more about who I am as a person and how to best express that as an artist. And to continue learning new things and growing. I have no final end game of 'be in this book 'or 'get hired by this company', so those who follow me be aware of that. I'm trying to really test myself on an emotional level, and see what I am truly capable of. It's a little scary but.. a little exciting all at once.
But what about conventions? Oh I am definitely still mailing in to them, and I am appearing at two local cons this year. LTUE, and CONduit where I will be the artist guest of honor. I would be OVERJOYED if you all could join me at either of those cons (but particularly conduit cause.. guest of honor, it's kind of a big deal to me).
Last weeks for the museum This is also the last two weeks to view my art at the museum exhibit in Springville. Please do stop by and tell me what you thought.
And finally... thank you everyone, for still trucking by my side while I stumble through life, depression, anxiety, recovery, and all that general fun stuff that happens. I deeply appreciate it even if I'm terrible at showing it, and vanish for long stretches at a time.
I've been a bit nil on the art because I am working out a few commissions, and some contract work details before I can start painting. Once I've got it all worked out, I'll try to set up regular livestreaming sessions for paintings.
So here I am, having popped quite a few pain killers that make me very sleepy but seem to remove the filters on my brain, with my fingers to the keyboard. This won't end badly at all.
Why am I not drawing? She's asked me that a few times. How do I tell her that I draw every night? That my head is so full of so many thoughts, so many concepts, that I spent hours simply sifting through the ideas? That every night I go through page after page after page of scrap and thought... and have nothing to show for it, because it is all in my mind.
It sounds daft, even to me, to have rough draft and revision, to sit there gazing blankly at my drafting table and let my mind simply fill in the drawings. I've mentioned in the past that I hallucinate quite clearly, how do I describe the way the blank paper is not blank to me? That color floods it, pencil lines dance across the page and tease me with their almost perfect placement. I truly know that it is a thing of madness, and yet I cannot seem to be able to stop. When I finally come up for air, it's never with a completed piece. It's always with one so close.. so close to that perfect moment, that I can't bear to put pencil to paper and make it a reality. If I just give it a little more time, if I just wait, my mind will work through the puzzle and the pieces will finally fall into place, and then! Then I can give it life.
The reality is that nothing will come of that blank board, if I do not begin. No moment will ever be perfect, no line exquisitely unflawed. At the end of the day, I know that until I begin to draw I may as well discard those beautiful images that fill my days, because what use are they just fluttering about in my head?
So I sit here, rambling to you all in the night, and staring at a board I have just put a line to. The line is not perfect. Already my mind moves it, my thoughts show me how it would look better here, or perhaps there... my hand clenches on the pencil to keep myself from grabbing the eraser and starting over again. It's so wonderful to have an untouched board, no line to show my mistakes, only the beautiful images in my mind.
I am drunk on my imagination, and lost in it's depths. I know that I have to come out eventually. But give me a little time. Just a few more minutes of bliss. I have so much to show you. Just give me a few more minutes.
A long time ago, when I was in college, I took beginning figure drawing. I hadn't drawn people before, and to be honest, I was very out of my depth. I struggled the entire class, as the anatomy lessons just weren't clicking with me. One day, the teacher assigned us homework, to go home and do several sketches of the people around us. I went to one of my friends at the time and drew her portrait. Her reaction is something that has been burned in my head from that point on.
Why did you draw me like that? Is that how you really see me?
She hated it.
I was devastated, and avoided drawing the human figure for several years after that. The thing is? It put a HUGE damper in my education. I excelled in other areas, while my grasp of anatomy remained intensely flawed and deeply avoided. Even when I began to draw people again, I still stumbled when it came to faces. To this day, it is one of the areas I struggle with the most, as that fear of 'what if they hate it' rises up.
One day I asked all of you to give me an honest critique of my body of work. What you liked, what you disliked, what you felt I had a good grasp on and what you felt I should improve on. One person said a comment, that I don't remember precisely, but the gist of it was "I like your work, but when I reach the faces, I fall out of the image".
It hurt to read that, and felt like I was back in that day when my friend was upset at what I'd drawn. The difference is? I was a grown woman, and just plain tired of running away from things like that. So when I read that statement and felt the twinge of hurt, I picked myself up, cracked my knuckles.. and started drawing faces, like the stubborn ox that I am sometimes. All the time.
I still struggle, I'm not gonna lie. My ability to draw faces is not where I want it to be, and I do not have the spread of skill in facial designs that I would like to have. But they have improved and they are growing each time I squish the doubts that rise up, and just keep going.
At the end of the day, you will not improve if you do not try. It takes thousands and thousands of bad arts, to make a good piece of art, so you need to face that fear and make bad art. Then keep going, and keep going and make art until the bad days start to be outnumbered by the good.
I'd like to announce that I will be part of an exhibit at the Springville Museum of Art, in Utah, this year. The exhibit is Spiritual and Religious art of Utah, so I was a bit nervous that they would not wish to have my work in the show (seeing as I am an atheist and that's generally frowned upon in this state). But I passed the jury and I am so excited!
The exhibit opens Wednesday, November 19th, an will run until Sunday, January 18th.
Otherwise I will be listing this week and will do a big post about what's up and what comes with things for freeeee afterwards.
Remember, if you're shy about answering? I would not ask if I did not want to know. There is no wrong answer, in fact I don't know the answer t othese questions myself! There is no offending me or anything like that. I'm just curious about your thoughts.
So the first question is an easy one.
What is my artistic style? How would you describe it?
They made the announcement so I feel okay making it too. I'm the artist guest of honor at Conduit 25. I'm so excited. I would be incredibly honored if any of you could make it. Please if you're planning on attending, let me know so that we can make a really great event!
I'm thinking of fun group art jams, maybe some fun movie watching as a group thing... art gallery stroll... I just want to have a blast and spend time with all of you.
Can we set something up? It's in May! Can we make this a thing?
1. Every piece I do has a working title, but never actually receives it's real title until literally the MINUTE I post it online. For example, the title of my last sculpture was "FIT DAMN YOU". The title of Light and Shadow was 'please please let sely like it'. The Kohaku dragon was titled 'doot doot doot' (on hindsight doot doot doot was a more enjoyable title). And speaking of kohaku, The Kohaku was originally titled "please let these boobs look realistic."
2. I have been unable to walk more than about ten feet for the past two weeks, so everything is being done iwthin a ten foot radius of myself. I'm on medications that require me to be away from anyone who might possibly be sick (they shut down my immune system), so it's been interesting! But all in all I'm doing pretty good.
3. I have a rabbit who is more dominant than my dogs. No really. The dogs are scared of the bunny.
4. I have terrible luck with glue, and I keep getting myself glued to everything when I work on new projects. not sure what's up with that.
5. I don't actually have a favorite color. I fluxuate between deeply loathing pretty much every color, and rather liking every color. It changes constantly so I've stopped trying to have a favorite color.
6. I don't have a favorite food either. I just have lots of good things I enjoy eating.
7. I bake an awesome pumpkin pie thanks to my amazing Dad, and today is his birthday. So I will bake a pumpkin pie in his honor.
8. Hope is an amazing thing.
THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE! I AM SO EXCITED! THE GEM FAIR IS TOMORROW! EEE!
Also all art has been shipped, I should have emailed you each separately, but in case you did'nt get your message, purchases within the states take about 3 days to get to you, and out of the country take about 2-3 weeks (depending a lot on what the postal service is like where you are!).
Thank you so much! omg! I will do a big update later with what all I got and what all I'm making with it! EEE!
Also I will have major holiday announcements soon!
And major convention announcements!
EEEEEEEEEEEE! OMG I LOVE YOU GUYS!
*flings love at everyone*