Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Night Wind

The night wind blows cold to the bone
Scatters all that is light & without weight
Cold to the bone
Howling through the empty streets
Stripping the trees
Cold to the bone
Oblivious relentless
Until there is nothing
Save my heavy heart
Cold to the bone

Monday, December 5, 2011

abstract = spiritual? (add a question mark to cover your a**)

My past 2 endeavours have been at abstract paintings. I'm trying to get a more immediate spiritual impact with my viewers. Also, I feel like abstract paintings (if done successfully) have some kind of fine art legitimacy that my regular illustrative paintings may lack. I used to want to create "abstract representational" paintings. I haven't tried that in a long time and at least the nightscape is an attempt to get back to that feel. they are both just in progress. so I'll let you know how it goes.

The second painting has some subtractive elements, I haven't been able to utilize in watercolors before thanks to a brush called a scrubber. It's very liberating!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Questions. Answers?

In a continuation of yesterdays post, I thought some further explanitory information might be in order. Why am I compelled to start a spiritual project of this nature at this time? What is the ultimate goal of the project? Why do I think anyone would be interested in such a project? What makes me think I'm qualified to dissimanate my thoughts and feelings on this subject?
Why am I compelled to start a spiritual project of this nature at this time?
I am always looking for the next thing that I should put out in the world. I need to: A. make a living, and B. fulfill  my self as a human. Not necisarrily in that order. Ideally, I'd like to be able to do both at the same time, such as with painting whether it's greeting cards, saint's portraits, or story illustrations. This project may never turn into something that could pay the rent, but much of my work is spiritual in nature, and it occurs to me that it's mostly allagorical, and that I might be able to better comunicate a more straightforward message. Plus as I haven't tried this approach, I will hopefully cover some new ground artistically. These reasons are practical but they seem to need to take a backseat to a greater reason in a project in which the primary focus is spirituallity. Spirituallity is of paramount importance to me which is why so much of my work embraces it. I find in life I must devote myself to being a spiritual being, and yet allow myself to live in this material world. This feels like the right next step.
 Let me add something at this point. Recently, while trying to figure out a way to make my prints more special, I decided that if I said a blessing over them, they might bring their receipients more comfort, and, I admit it, they might sell better. It occured to me further that if someone with spriritual credentials were to do the blessing, it might be more legitimate, or seem so to my potential buyers. It was at this point I remembered that some of my friends had become ministers to perform marriages through an online website. I realised at this point that I could go through this procedure, and gain spiritual credentials; thus making my blessings more legitimate. As always, just investigating something online, means actually doing it. So I did, and now I'm a licenced minister. That was a while ago, and I've felt; much like Jonah, that it was now my duty to pursue a more spiritual vocation.
What is the ultimate goal of the project?
As I said I'd like to turn it into a book or some kind of project that could lead to publication. I'm not trying to convert anyone, or become a religeous leader, or get a religious following. I think my spiritual thoughts are possitve and will have a possitive effect on anyone who chooses to expose themselves to them. Spoiler alert: I believe God is Love and that we should act accordingly.
Why do I think anyone would be interested in such a project?
Maybe no one will. This is going to be a long term project that is partly going to be about not trying to get people to like it. I always want people to like my work, but I live with my mom & have a part time job because I can't support myself with my work. I'm sure I need more professional promotion, but I also need to stop trying to do what I think people will like, and do what I think needs to be done. Of course, in a week, I will be saying "maybe this should be more approachable because part of an artists job is to connect with people. This is how it is for now.
What makes me think I'm qualified to dissimanate my thoughts and feelings on this subject?
We are all spiritual beings. My experiences will either show people what works or show people what doesn't work; either way it should help. I hope.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Infinity & Beyond!

Sometimes I come up with ideas too big to finish. I have a lot of projects that I've started that have not gotten very far. The Song of Yendor is a case in point. It is a novel who's idea came to me when I was 15. (Back then the hero's name was Eric.) I've written the 1st chapter many times and now I just write a story from the endless epic whenever it hits me. I call that a chapter & hope that one day there will be a narrative there. (This link contains stories from another book Into the Woods that is being written in a similar fashion, but is not an endless epic.)
Sometimes I don't mention my ideas to anybody because it just adds to the list; which is predictably & ironically, an endless epic. My method of working is usually that when I get on an idea, I work on it, until I'm stuck and then I work on something else; usually returning to an idea that I was previously stuck on, but have now had time to mull over and approach from a different angle. Then, at some future point, I return to the first idea in turn.
Many of my projects are one shot ideas: greeting cards, a self contained painting, etc... They may become part of a larger milieu; such as a series of night landscapes or Madonnas, or other saint's portraits. I try to promote my work regularly and come up with projects along those lines too; i.e., join Zazzle, Greeting Card Universe, Etsy and the like.
Most of my "too big to finish" projects are writing projects. The reason for this post is that I have another one. I have been trying to write & illustrate stories which exhibit analogies of my spiritual thoughts. My new idea is to write & illustrate non-analogous poems, stories & essays about these ideas and their application in the real world. That is to say; instead of how a wizard or 17th century teenager comes to grip with the world around them; write down my own thoughts on the subject. The structure would be to couple a poem with an illustration. This would allow for "doable" pieces to be completed as I continue the kaleidoscope of projects I have already undertaken. Perhaps I will start a new blog, perhaps I will filter it into an existing one. Tumblr would be a perfect venue for this kind of work.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


It's 3am and I just finished making cards to sell at my girlfriend Rose's jewelry show, going on at her house today at 1pm. She invited me to do this when she first started planning weeks ago. I declined and I can't remember why. Now I've changed my mind and am scrambling to produce cards. We've been promoting it on facebook & very few people have responded, so there's a good chance that not many will show up, but one wants to be prepared, which I am not. I would have liked to make a bunch more. The cards I printed from the computer didn't print inside, and the lino print cards need to be mounted on cardstock. This turned out to be WAY more of an ordeal than it sounds like. I plan on mounting more at the event, but I won't have my printer so we will see how that goes. Also, I don't have enough envelopes. Ugh!

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Coming Right at Us!

Christmas is fast approaching, and I Have a feeling I'll still be getting ready for it when it's gone. I should be done with cards, but knowing that there's time between now and Christmas makes me just want to keep designing new ones. I'll make the one that everyone just has to have, and that will open the floodgates to the selling out of everything else in the store. That's the fantasy. The reality is I need to figure out how to promote my store(s) cheaply and efficiently. Dropping my life's savings into advertising on might get me some eyeballs on my sight, but there's probably a better way to go.
My budget for advertising this year is free. I can advertise anywhere that's free. Actually, that means facebook & google+, which is better than nothing, but not much. So I'm interested in google adwords. I love google. they own this blogsite, the browser I'm using (chrome), the software that operates my phone (droid), my email carrier, and of course google+ (which many people are saying isn't a big deal, but there are a ton of people on there). Of course they also use the search engine that is most popular for finding things, so they have tools to help people who invest in their products. My girlfriend who runs ahtees designs, turned me on to Google adwords keyword tool, which analyses and suggests keywords, the tags that help people find your stuff.
I just joined for the purpose of reporting the cost to this blogpost, and they let you create whatever budget you want. I put in $2 a day which doesn't sound like much, but is considerably more that $0. In fact; it is 2x365 or $730 a year, so that's an estimate based on how much I spend on coffee a day. It's also about $60 a month. This is kind of a lot for me, but I have no idea how it translates into how much advertising it will buy. They say that once my budget is exhausted for the day that my ads will stop appearing. That means that perhaps they wont be seen during high traffic times, but it doesn't matter because it's not tv or radio, only one person is looking at each screen, so the same number of people will be exposed to my ads whether its all in the morning or spread throughout the day. There's also pay per click (again a bid I set that I have no idea how competitive it is.) I didn't intend to get this deep into this subject for the purpose of this post, but I've been hovering over the "join now" button for a while, and I haven't commited to anything yet, so I'm ok so far. I'll let you know when I know more.
I finnished the Santa card, and need to make more shirts, and designs. I'll leave you with this: successful people are the ones who do what they love.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dragon print $10.00

This dramatic print of the mythic dragon embodies symbolism from Eastern & Western cultures. In the far East, the dragon is a symbol of wisdom & enlightenment; in the West the spiral is a symbol of infinity. This aspect is emphasized by the way the serpent cannot be contained within the limits of the frame.
The print is on recycled black paper with faux deckled edges.
Print is 8x10.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Holiday Prep!

Now that Halloween is over, the holidays are coming at us like that round bolder in Raiders of the Lost Ark! I have been making cards and gifts for Christmas since late summer, but I feel constantly behind. I finished the painting I told you about last time and am pleased with how it came out. It was originally supposed to have fog, but you can't have everything. I made it into a card, and maybe I'll make a second one out of it. I sold a print of St. Hildegard (Thank you!) so now I'm offering more prints of my paintings.
I am also offering t-shirts with my block prints on them. I'm really happy with how they look, and hope that people will get them as gifts. The images I make are meant to be iconic so they really work well on shirts. I have tried to solve the problem I would have with overhead and storage by making shirts to model but stating that they can be any size and will be made to order. I would like to offer long sleeved shirts and sweatshirts, but I also have to spend $ on presents so I can't just buy a bunch of sweatshirts hoping someone will buy something. I know Ihave to spend money to make money, but I have to be realistic also.
That doesn't mean I can't still make more stuff for Christmas. Going with the icon theme I've been trying to come up with an iconic Christmas image for a block print. I've already done a Christmas tree which came out great, but I'm looking for something that will have more of an impact; is bolder or more "dramatic". My girlfriend suggested Santa, which I initially rejected as too cliche to register with viewers but I like the idea that icons originally were saints portraits and Santa Clause is just how little kids pronounce Saint Nicholas. This probably won't go on a shirt, but I'm just thinking about Christmas cards. It makes sense that in order to catch anyone's attention whether it's cards shirts or anything else, my job as an illustrator is to create an image that is bold, iconic, arresting, and all the other synonyms for "eye catching" I've used so far.
Religious Icons generally hold something in their hands to make it easy for viewers to recognize them. I'm haveing a hard time figuring out what to have Santa hold. First it was his list of naughty and nice, but I thought people might not know that's what the scroll was meant to be. I thought maybe coal in one hand and a toy in the other, but I really think Im going to stick to red and white for colors, so that wont work. let me know if you have any ideas!
Oh! Maybe a thumbs up with one hand and thumbs down with the other!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

All Hallows Eve

As we come to another Samhain (pronounced Sowen {more or less}) also known as All Hallows Eve (the evening before All Hallows or All Saints day), more commonly: Halloween, my mind is drawn to the Silver Branch: the gateway to the nether world which legend tells us is open on this night to let the spirits wander into our world and where we can wander knowingly or not into theirs, and become lost... forever.
Currently, I am working on a painting of a lonely winter night, lit by streetlamps, as the snow and elements attempt to obscure what little illumination they offer. As I paint, I'm listening to Wicca radio on itunes. I have always loved Halloween, but not everyone shares this fondness for a night of ghoulish corpses, haunted graveyards and magic spells. I have dragged people into the depths of parties, haunts and demonic debauchery over the years hoping they would catch the spell cast upon me in my youth. All too often however, the night turns into a curse for all involved. You cant force someone to enjoy Halloween.
As a child, I would have Halloween parties thrown for me for my birthday which is about a week before Halloween. Then of course, on the big night came the trick or treating! Going door to door and having strangers give me candy was thrilling! In retrospect, it was more the idea that these strangers were friendly enough to give me something rather than the candy itself which would often last until Thanksgiving when it would get thrown out. Dressing up was definitely a big part of the magic and the only remnant left to me as an adult. I remember having one of those really shiny costumes with the plastic mask secured by a rubber band as a child; I think it was Superman. I had to go while it was still light out because I was so young, which I hated, but I think I went by myself, which I loved.
One year my next door neighbor put a stuff scare crow in a chair on her porch and whether she jumped out at me or what I don't remember, but I do remember that she scarred the crap out of me.
Then there was the time I went trick or treating and somehow came to the door of the first girl I had a crush on. Her name was Melinda Waller. We moved to a neighboring school district soon after that and I tried in vein to remember where that house was, hoping to screw up the courage to knock on the door and ask her out. I thought it might be across the street from a certain park, so I spent a lot of time at that park, drawing and wondering which house might be hers. (I guess I was the worlds worst stalker!) I was in the 6th grade.
Once, in my youth, I took some friends trick or treating. The people at the houses were less than friendly as they told us we were too old to be doing this. (I was a fifteen year old gangster {a la The Godfather}, my friends, both on the JV football team, had no costumes). The previous year or too before that, I was dressed as Radar from M*A*S*H, and met a girl. we liked each other but my friends didn't approve so I didn't pursue that relationship (what an idiot I was!)
When I became old enough to go to bars I would go dressed up on Halloween, and I was home! Here were a bunch of other grown ups that were dressed up, drinking and having a good time.
In college, I made the mistake of dressing up like a girl. I had long hair in those days (the 80s!) and had decided I liked the idea of wearing a costume that didn't look like a costume. When people actually mistook me for a girl, I could say in a low voice that it was Halloween and I wasn't really a girl. It had worked in the past. This time; however, the girl I was with thought that dressing up like a girl meant I was gay, and wanted to go hang out in West Hollywood. Man, that was a miscommunication!
Then there are too many drunken catastrophes to go into, both on other people's part & my own. Well there was the time I dressed up as Jesus; I went around blessing people and using bible quotes humorously. With my long hair and goatee it was great until we found we had locked the keys in the car and had to wait until dawn for a locksmith to show up. There is a lesson in there, I guess.
Once I got sober, I found there were always sober Halloween parties to go to and these were great, because sober alcoholics at Halloween parties really love Halloween, but I would often drive far, late at night to somewhere cold and would just sit outside, smoke and not talk to anybody. I guess I have some unexorcised Halloween demons left! haha!
Now I can make Halloween cards and sell them on Etsy

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mask problems

"I'll bet that after chasing around the Riddler in the hot sun all day, Batman wishes he were right here at this cocktail party having a drink!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Razzle Dazzle!

It has been a while since I posted here. I have posted more recently here. Also here. (for those of you wondering, the first link is for fiction I write, and the second is for political cartoons and the like.While this blog is for autobiographical "essays" primarily about my life as an artist and more primarily as a greeting card designer.) Be that as it may, I have been pretty busy in the greeting card business. (using terms like that always reminds me of Chandler asking Joey how long he's been in the "out-of-work-actor" business.) I primarily post on Etsy now. I am also beginning to post on Zazzle, and more on Cafepress in addition to the tee shirts you could always get here.
When last we met, I was just going into the brick & mortar card business. That is an awesome experience, but alas, my dreams of selling directly to a store being my saving grace have proved fraught with obstacles. I thought that I would have a bigger chunk of the profits, which I do. But ink is very expensive and I think I'm actually losing money. I tried raising the price (I tried to be tricky about it by delivering an invoice with the price increase already on it. This didn't work. It was noticed and not appreciated by the proprietor, who was nice enough to commission me to make the cards in the first place. The initial negotiations at the beginning of the venture were informal, so I mistakenly thought it wouldn't be a big deal. Plus corporations always have that clause; "prices subject to change without notice"... well I'm not a corporation.) Anyway, it was suggested that I reduce ink costs by making the cards slightly smaller. I will also design them to have more white space or something. form follows function, I guess. Smaller cards means more work because now I will have to trim the cards because the card stock isn't sold at the size the owner wants them. Ah well, that's life in the big city.
Meanwhile, as soon as I joined Etsy, I made a HUGE sale! Really! I got an email from a client that said she wanted to buy a painting, and she would send me a certified check and after I received the check, I could courier her the painting. Oh, you've heard this one. Yeah. So the check arrives, and it's like for $1,000 more than the cost of the painting. (like I could cash a check like that.) Well, that was a tip off. (that and the fact that my girlfriend and my mom both knew it was a scam before I did). Anyway, suffice to say, now I only accept sales actually through Etsy. (don't worry, I never sent the painting, so the only damage was to my ego)
Since Joining Etsy, I've taken to making linocuts because most things on Etsy are handmade and I feel like computer prints are outside the norm. Most of my sales have been computer printed cards, though. I'm in several circles and treasuries, which means when someone is looking to see what other people like my stuff will pop up here and there. I'm on a few teams which means like minded people selling like minded stuff (like Friends of Bill on Etsy)

I've decided that if my focus was on in store merchandise, I'd want to be in as many stores as possible; so likewise as an online seller, I want to have my products on as many sites as possible. this is why I've joined. Zazzle and expanded on cafe press. Both stores offter better terms than GreetingcardUniverse, which requires approval of designs and only offers $.50 a card. (I have yet to get a check from them as the minimum amount they will send out is $25, which is 50 cards. On Etsy, I get paid every time someone buys something.) Cafe press and Zazzle also only pay over $25 worth of earnings, but it is much easier to reach these numbers as you control how much you make per sale. Plus, your designs don't have to be approved like some grade schooler.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Aunt Christie: Teacher, Union Thug

My aunt Christie is a teacher. She is a very good teacher, she wins awards, her students love her, they even started a fan page of her on facebook. If you are reading this, it's thanks to a teacher. If you can do basic math, it's thanks to a teacher.
If your house got robbed, and then caught on fire, would it be alright with you if you were asked to forgo the services of the police and the fire department, because after all, we are in a recession and everyone has to tighten their belts. We just can't afford to send the police and fire department out to just anyone.
All this talk of union busting in Wisconsin has really got my goat. The idea that further sacrifices need to be made by the most important people in the community; teachers, fire fighters, police, sanitation workers... people who don't make a great deal of money to begin with, is insane. That's not hyperbole. it's a statement of fact. It is utterly ridiculous to look to public employees, people who have chosen as their careers often dangerous, sometimes thankless jobs because they recognise the good these jobs can do for the community, as a place where austerity can be further demanded to pay for tax cuts for the rich, and to dig us out of deficits caused by greedy bankers, which they were able to do due to deregulation. It is beyond delusional: it is crazy. Actual "you need your head examined, stay away from me," crazy.
On top of this add the clearly disingenuous notion that taking away their collective bargaining rights will help balance the budget. They exposed the deceit of this logic when they removed it from a budgetary bill so that they could pass it without a quorum.
Since these are public employees, the bargaining rights were taken away as a bill passed by the state's legislator, and signed by the Governor. I'm no expert, but I believe that collective bargaining is freedom of speech & striking is peaceful assembly. These are constitutional rights that the government can't take away.
I'm telling you, if I were a public employee in Wisconsin, I would go on strike immediately.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

Well, now that the holidays are over, I guess I can use them as an excuse for not having blogged in a while. While I was gone I made new cards, but also sent away a book proposal, and samples to a children's magazine publisher. I have done a lot of painting this last year, and I hope to do more this year.
Clearly, greeting cards are not going to make enough money for me, so I have to concentrate on something else. I would like to write & illustrate children's books or just plain books. Since I'm having trouble getting someone to pay me for greeting cards, I might as well struggle at what I really want to do most, right? My idea that I sent to Harcourt Brace is Dinosaurs are Terrible Lizards! The idea is that dinosaurs' names all have meanings in Latin or Greek ("dinosaur" literally means "terrible lizard"), and I thought playful illustrations depicting the meaning would be fun. This evolved from an earlier idea to do a book about dinosaurs with swords; all I could come up with was a tyrannosaurus with a sword & a crown, sitting on a throne. "Tyrannosaurus Rex is a Tyrant King!" (again, the literal translation of the word). Once I made that connection, and gave up the sword stipulation for the other pictures, I began thinking of other illustrations, like "Triceratops rides a Tricycle: Tri means Three!" I sent it as a proposal to get feedback, and work with the publisher. I read that picture books are rarely a one man job. Also, I wanted to send something out, and it could be quite some time before I come up with 32 finished paintings illustration dinosaur names.
It could take a while to hear back from Harcourt, so I continued to make paintings. I looked at my favorites over the last year, and realized that I had a lot of female heroes, saints, & goddesses. One of my areas of focus is I want to give young girls role models to look up to. There are a lot of role models for boys, but not as many for girls. I thought next in that series could be Sacajawea. She has a big story and I'm still trying to figure out how best to handle it. I found some great photos of Native American women to work from. As I work on this big project, I have grouped together some of these historical paintings and sent them to a magazine publisher that produces historical magazines for kids: Cobblestone.