Tuesday, December 31, 2013

27 things (365 days, holidays, a new year, etc...)

Oh by the way,  I had the pleasure of writing up a little bit for the 27 Good Things blog, here's my contribution (three things to read, three things to watch, three things to use.) If you are ever, ever sitting around wondering what to do with yourself, GO PERUSE THAT BLOG. It's a wealth of really cool, entertaining, and useful ideas of just really great stuff (plus, some of my dear friends Andrew Romine, Wendy N. Wagner, and Paul Weimer have also contributed and they are the coolest folk ever, put their suggestions on your list for next year and all will be well with you. I promise.)

Ah, and it's last day of 2013. There's some impulse in me to encapsulate the year neatly (one year it was 365 days of drawing) but then this morning I woke up and read my friend Gerry's post about trees breathing and now I just want to go for a hike and find beautiful trees.
not a sugar maple, but I do love a tree with some drama

However, here are a few personal highlights from 2013 (in no real order): I have run almost 900 miles this year, including a marathon with my partner and friend. One of my illustrations was accepted into the Spectrum 20 art annual. I won the Hugo in the Fan Artist category. I've made huge strides in getting a handle on record keeping and budgeting as a freelancer. As a family we have gotten a much better handle on record keeping and budgeting. In fact, for the first time in, well, quite a long time, December, usually our leanest and most difficult months, has been kind and gentle and we still have a savings.  My kid turned 10. I turned 39. A few relationships that were on the brink have made strides towards healing. I read not as many books as I was hoping, nor did I finish any personal art projects this year (2013 was the year of the client, and that has been just fine by me.) I'll keep those on the to-do list for 2014.

There's more, I'm sure, but I'll leave it at that for now, I have a few illustrations I was hoping to have finished by year's end so, yes, ducking out now to get to work.

But here, I stumbled on this by Tim Minchin yesterday and it was just what I needed. (I've struggled to like the holidays lately, this helped. Quite a bit. And all proceeds from downloads of this song for the next two months are currently being donated to the National Autism Society. Very Worthy.):

okay, that's all. See you next year.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Superstars and Whatnot (etc)

Over the weekend I wrote up an inkpunk post, some (meandering) thoughts about talent, ability, and creative success:

"It was at the Illustration Masters Class where I first heard Greg Manchess declare that there is no such thing as talent. A rather startling premise to tell a bunch of aspiring artists. But no, Greg stated that artistic skill “is built, not possessed”, created by hard work and training. I wonder about this idea, chew on it occasionally, still not sure what I think. It makes me think of films like Amadeus and Finding Forrester that portray bitter rivalries between merely adequate creators and their brilliant counterparts. I have no idea how historically accurate the portrayals are, but today Mozart is a household name while Salieri is mostly for history buffs. I itch and scratch away at what that thing is that makes one individual a superstar while another is just adequate." ~read more

Then this morning John Scalzi posted about Self Loathing as a creative person, how, basically, it is NOT a given that all writers (or artist, etc) must deal with the throes of depression and self loathing. It was a good one for me to read this morning: last night I was actually agonizing a bit, feeling utterly talentless and terrified of my mediocrity. Today is looking to be a much better day. Shake it off, get back to work. It's all good. Anyways, here's a bit from Scalzi:

"...Are there writers who are self loathing? Absolutely, because there are people who are self-loathing, and writers are a subset of people. There are also doctors who are self-loathing, plumbers who are self-loathing, farmers who are self-loathing and so on. There are also writers who are not self-loathing. There are excellent writers who grapple with self-loathing; there are excellent writers who don’t (there are mediocre and terrible writers in each category as well, of course). Trying to typify all writers as self-loathing is as useful as typifying all writers as anything, save the base, practical definition of “someone who writes.”...
I think people who are writers and who are also the sort of self-loathe can possibly use that self-loathing as a tool in some way, but personally I suspect if you’re genuinely deep in the throes of self-loathing, as a writer or whomever, your first stop should be a doctor, to see if that’s something that’s treatable. It might be easier to deal with the writing the sucks if you’re not thinking that therefore, you suck."  ~ read more

 Now, here... I leave you with a page from my sketchbook from two year ago,

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

smoke and mirrors and Vermeer

Stuck in traffic last night I happened to catch this NPR interview with illusionist Raymond Joseph Teller, where he talks the documentary Tim's Vermeer which he helped direct. It was fascinating and applicable, new discoveries about technology Vermeer may have used to achieve his almost photo-realistic paintings. (Oh all the tricks artists have up their sleeves). One excerpt that really stuck: Robert Siegel asks Teller what it said about Vermeer if he really had used these devices to aid in creating his paintings, wondering if it smacked of cheating (maybe like an athlete using steroids) and Teller responded:
"Art is not sports. Art is an activity in which one human heart communicates to the other human heart. If Vermeer used this method, which Tim believes pretty strongly he may have used, that makes Vermeer better, not worse. What this means is that Vermeer was not only someone with wonderful and beautiful ideas, and someone capable of miraculous compositions, but that he was willing to put in the incredibly intense work to translate those ideas to paint on canvas. And it's very possible that Vermeer himself may have invented this device." ~listen here

So, here's the trailer for Tim's Vermeer,

But HERE, an interview with Tim Jenison in which he goes into the process even more:

This was the quote that stuck out to me: "...too accurate to have been painted by, well, it couldn't really be seen by the human eye".  Anyways, made for a good excuse to break open my old art history books again and revisit some of these amazing paintings and still, as always, be just blow away by them. (Also made me want to re-watch Girl With a Pearl Earring.)
Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window. Johaness Vermeer, ca. 1659

Monday, December 2, 2013

horses and such

Here's what came out of my pen the other day while waiting for a doctor's appointment:
Meanwhile, Jaym Gates is on facebook posting about Clydesdales showing off their speed and ohhh I'm swooning at the massive beauties thundering away with their feathered hooves. Here's video footage (but click through the link for just some take-your-breath-away photos.)

Reminds me of the post Jaym wrote several years ago detailing specific attributes of this noble "companion and cohort in heroics."

Oh, one more nod to Jaym; a couple years ago I used a some of her prompts for my 30 character challenge. Here's my take on Storm Crow and her steed:

Meanwhile I'm working up a little something for Kevin Hearn that has me playing with horses again and I'm just giddy.

Just feeling all tender and amazed about horses lately. That's all. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How Long Did That Take?

aah, just finished writing up a new post for BookLifeNow, here's an excerpt:
"During a #SFFWRTCHT last month I was asked this question: “How long does it take you to do a piece from first line to finish?”* I responded with something vague about always being amazed at how quickly some pieces come together and how slowly others do. And that’s completely true: The time from first line to finish varies enormously depending on the illustration project. (Even more tricky to explain is why an illustration that only took an afternoon to complete may be more successful than one that took several weeks). One of my art professors used to answer:  “40 years and three weeks” when people asked how long a painting took (the sum of his painting career to that point and whatever time the specific painting required), which was a witty nod to how much more than just hours goes into an art piece. But as a freelancer, knowing how long a project will take is pretty important career information. So I’ve been working on that." ~read more
Now, I still gotta wrap up next month's Fireside illustration, it's short school day, kid has a doctor appointment, and OYG I HAVE TO BAKE PIE FOR TOMORROW... I'm off like a border collie**! (i wish)

But first, a few of the various and sundery links I compiled while writing this post:

  • And this interview with creatives talking about their time management methods:

* thank you Paul Weimer for asking the question!
** thank you Bo Bolander for lovely herd dogs.
*** thank you Remy Nakamura for pointing me to Scalzi’s article.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Brian & Wendy Froud

Because Brian and Wendy are the guests of honor at next year's Illustration Masters Class.  And Films such as The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth were huge creative inspirations growing up. Here's an excerpt from an article written about Brian his involvement in those two movies:
"'The irony of working on The Dark Crystal was that I had moved to the country to allow my work to blossom, and here I was in New York. And I thought there's something wrong with this picture!' But Brian threw himself into the project, and at the initial creative meetings he and others working on the film discussed creatures and how they might act, what their personalities would be and so on. It was during this time that Brian met Wendy, who had been hired for her skills as a doll maker. Together they refined the initial prototypes of the puppets before flying back to London to be near Jim Henson....

It was at a screening of The Dark Crystal in San Francisco that Brian and Jim Henson's vow never to make another film was forgotten. 'We were sitting in the back of a limo, having drunk a bit too much wine, and he said 'shall we do another one?'and I said 'oh, why not.' He asked if I had any ideas and I said not really so he suggested Native American Indians but I didn't really know anything about them so I said what about goblins? He liked the idea, but I said I want to put live people in it this time. Immediately I had this flash of an image of a baby surrounded by goblins.'
Jim asked Brian what the story was, but he didn't know. All he could think of was of a labyrinth, which is not only a physical conundrum but also a metaphor for many things." ~interview with Guy Cracknell


Friday, November 22, 2013

a career in the arts (more $$$ stuff)

A few excerpts from recent articles about paying artists (and artists asking for payment)

Slaves of The Internet, Unite! by Tim Kreider.
"I suppose people who aren’t artists assume that being one must be fun since, after all, we do choose to do it despite the fact that no one pays us. They figure we must be flattered to have someone ask us to do our little thing we already do. I will freely admit that writing beats baling hay or going door-to-door for a living, but it’s still shockingly unenjoyable work... The first time I ever heard the word “content” used in its current context, I understood that all my artist friends and I — henceforth, “content providers” — were essentially extinct. This contemptuous coinage is predicated on the assumption that it’s the delivery system that matters, relegating what used to be called “art” — writing, music, film, photography, illustration — to the status of filler, stuff to stick between banner ads." ~read more 
What to say when you're asked to work for free by  Rhonda Abrams
"You may want or need to work for free, especially when you’re just starting out to build a resume, client list or broaden your skills. At any time, you may be happy to donate your time and talent to good causes or very good friends...But with the right response, you can turn these freeloaders into something positive." ~read more
Being An Artist Isn't Practical by Elena Sheppard
"To support a career in the arts in 2013 requires a cocktail of connections, financial support, talent and tremendous luck – and many of us just starting our professional lives are choosing more stable paths. We are not in the financial position to take on more risk. The result is a rising creative class largely determined by money." ~read more 

Don't Quit Your Day Job by Juri Koll
"Compared to other countries, such as Ireland and Denmark, where there are tax-free grants or direct subsidies with special tax benefits, the United States lags far behind in its treatment of artists. The idea of making a living as an artist will probably never appeal to the bottom line sensibilities of corporate America.  That's why almost every artist I know -- aside from some of the famous ones -- has a day job." ~read more

 If You're an Artist You Need A Support System by Nisha Asnani
"With patronage and endowments mostly a thing of the past, artists must now rely on smaller amounts of support from individual contributors. This is easier with global communication, but tougher given the current distribution of wealth; it’s mostly broke artists who are giving to other broke artists via Kickstarter campaigns...More structured organizations that empower artists and teach them about fund-raising and business skills like The Field, where I work as communications manager, are also vital for our creative culture." ~read more
Instead of Exploiting Artists, Pay Them by Paddy Johnson
"Asking whether it's too expensive to pursue the arts is a little like asking whether it's too expensive to read or write. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t stop.Making art is not an economic decision for most artists, who are continually exploited for their ideas and labor... it’s time we spent a little more time figuring out how to support artists." ~read more 
 Being A lawyer is easier than being a Musician by Miki Navazio
"I did enjoy scoring independent films and documentaries, but these hardly paid the bills, and the commercial gigs just weren’t for me. I didn't want to be Miki Navazio Music, Inc. My fate was sealed when the National Endowment for the Arts terminated funding for individual artists in the mid 90s. For me, being a lawyer is a lot easier than being a jazz musician. In a sense, I’ve freed my art from the burden of having to support myself. And I would do it all over again." ~read more

I just realized that all of these collectively come off with a rather dim view of making a living in the arts and that wasn't really what I had in mind. But they did all resonate so here they, all assembled where I can find them again easily and, well, just keep thinking about that.

Meanwhile, here's a sketch I did the other day while sitting in the dentist office. The day after I posted it to FB, I got a notification from my 'page manager' that this post was "98% more engaging than your other posts on this page" (with an offer to help it be even more engaging if I just paid a bit of cash.) ((um......))
98% more engaging, woooo.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

final cover for The Future Embodied

It was a pleasure working With Mae Empson and Jason Andrew to create a cover for The Future Embodied. With table of contents full of amazing writers I'm in high anticipation to get my own copy.

divergent styles etc etc etc

Two entirely different illustrations I did last month for two entirely different clients.

1)  This piece for the hard sf story "Catch a Fallen Star" by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks for Fireside Fiction Magazine:
2) This piece to accompany an essay about theodicy, "Arrayed in Silence I gave Him Nothing" by Jacob Baker for Sunstone Magazine:

To me, it looks like to totally different artists did these two pieces. What does that say about me? I don't know and I'm putting that on a back shelf to think about some other time.

Now here's a few really inspiring things cool people have shared the past week or so:

~An artist and her 4 yr old collaborate on artwork together.
~(Which reminds me of when my kid and I did this kind of stuff together.)
~ Examples of some of the best street art of 2012.
~These parents convincing their kids that their toy dinosaurs come alive at night.
~Russian graffiti body artist, Znag, and his mind blowing tattoo work.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Spectrum 20

Got something awesome in the mail the other day.
Spectrum 20 cover art by Donato Giacola. Image via Flesk Publications.
Yup yep, finally got my own contributors copy of Spectrum 20 and is it ever a serious collection of amazing art work. (And the new art-book smell... the pages, the ink, every time I open it it fills my nostrils and it's almost delirious.) I still can't quite believe I'm in it. But look, there I am, on page 224 nestled between Victor Koen, Olivier Villoingt, Feng Guo and Zhao Huanhua.

I'm still absorbing the book. There's a lot to look at. A lot to aspire to and be blown away by. A huge range of vision, style, and content. Oh, and many of the artists I attended the Illustration Master's Class are in here as well: Noah Bradley, Christine Mitzyk, Ed Ko, Peter Mohrbacher, Steve Argyle, David Palumbo, Lauren Saint-Onge, Cynthia Sheppard, Lauren K. Cannon, Mia Araujo, and Marc Scheff, not to mention IMC instructors Rebecca Guay, Donato Giancola, Brom, Greg Manchess, Dan Dos Santos, and Ian McCaig from my first quick glance through (I'm sure I missed a few, deepest apologies.)

Of course, the deadline for Spectrum 21 is coming up and I'm trying to think of what I'll submit from this past year's work. (And dealing with all the incumbent nervousness about what if I never ever have another piece of work in another art annual ever. ||sheepish||)

Speaking of IMC, I recently took the plunge and signed up for next year's session: Brian and Wendy Froud are the guests of honor and I could not resist. More about that later, there's a lot to say about what I'm hoping to do.  But for now, back to work.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Wish I could be at Orycon 35 in person, but I'm happy to at least be sending some artwork in my place. I spent a whole afternoon preparing art prints for shipping before crossing my fingers and sending them off in a homemade foam core and duct tape container. Much appreciation to the art crew who will be hanging my work.

With any luck and if I got my measurements correct, the display with look something like this:
Last time I was in Orycon was in 2011 and it was amazing. It's been too long, I need to get myself to the Pacific Northwest more often.

Monday, October 28, 2013

habits and rituals.

 Just stumbled across this article wherein Oliver Burkeman simmers Daily Rituals by Mason Currey into 6 repeated themes. FASCINATING STUFF.  I must get that book.  Anyhow, I had to make a note of Oliver's distillation  because no.6, Learn To Work Anywhere, is the story of my life. I'm writing this while camped out in the corner of my local skating rink, plugged into the only available electrical outlet.

Getting work done while the kid glow skates to his heart's content.

(Why did I not come here to work on Glitter & Mayhem? Why?)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A short collection of past inkpunky advice

I have a new post up at the Inkpunks. Well, actually, it's collection of stuff that my fellow inkpunks have written over the past few years:  inspiring, motivating, informative stuff! Go check it out!

"Ya know, these inkpunk people have written a lot of really smart stuff. I remember when I first started reading the blog a few years ago each new post was a breath of fresh air and inspiration. At the time I was trying to restart my own creative life with ambitions to write an epic fantasy novel or maybe create a webcomic, or at least start drawing again, SOMETHING! Every post left me feeling energized and ready to do it.
So today I decided to select a few inkpunk gems from the past, focusing on inspiration, setting goals, style, writing exercises, etc. Whether you are gearing up for NaNoWriMo* next month, looking for motivation to start a new creative endeavor, or full tilt in your current WIP, may this help fuel the fires and release the madness." ~read more

btw, you can follow the Inkpunks on twitter and facebook for updates from this fabulous little collective of creative individuals.

Speaking of stuff from the past, here's a page from my sketchbook a few years ago. (And here's the flickr set with more.)

sketchbooky stuff by galen dara.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


After you have gotten your fix of modern military science fiction, you really should go check out the quirkier side of kickstarter with HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!!  Based on the short story of the same name by Keffy R. M. Kehrli published at Lightspeed Magazine, that delicious little piece of fiction convinced editor John Joseph Adams that a whole anthology based on the concept of  improbable kickstarters needed to happen. After all the kickstarters I've been involved with... I CONCUR. 

My part in this is small, I just drew some robots. These ones:

illustration by galen dara for FUND MY ROBOT ARMY

A little something about me: I don't think I could draw a nice neat straight line to save my life. My robots tend to be loopy.  Here's some WIP sketches as I played with robots:
initial loopy-style robots

preliminary grouping for a robot army
eventually the grouping went this way, for simplicity and the ominous robot factor.
For more info about Help Fund HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY and for KITTIES!! watch the trailer:

(And to conclude, you really must keep the Women Destroy SF special issue of Lightspeed on your radar for next year)

Monday, October 14, 2013

War Stories Kickstarter is now live

More information and how to pledge here. Follow on facebook and twitter for updates.

cover art by galen dara

Friday, October 11, 2013

character studies for Elementari Rising

I had the pleasure of doing some character sketches for Nancy Hightower's upcoming novel Elementari Rising (going to the publishers soon!)

Here are my two favorites:
Seinna, a character from Elementari Rising written by Nancy Hightower. Art by Galen Dara.
"Sienna could scarcely see more than ten feet in front of her, nothing but murky shadows of leaf and limb. The foliage underneath her feet had turned to such a deep shade of blue-green that it almost looked black, and was joined by thick vines snaking their way across the path. Another clearing lay up ahead where the daylight was allowed to settle unencumbered.

She moved in the direction of the path, but stopped at the sound of a twig snapping. She lifted her torch high. “Who’s there!” she yelled. No answer. She moved slowly towards the path when she heard another crack.

To her left, two yellow eyes peered out from the deep shadows.
“So, you’ve found me again,” Sienna said as she backed away. A deep growl emitted from the trees. “Come on then. We’ve not got all day,” she baited, reaching inside the folds of her outer cloak.
Slowly the white wolf crawled out of its hiding place, teeth bared as it continued to snarl. The widow pulled out her dagger and brandished it with one hand while holding the torch in the other. “Remember this? It gave you that nice little scar. I’d be happy to give you another,” she said, almost growling herself.

The wolf sprang." ~excerpt from Elementari Rising.

Samara, a character from Elementari Rising, written by Nancy Hightower. Art by Galen Dara

 "The little girl was near Jenna’s age, perhaps a year younger. Her dress and sleeves were ripped from the thickets, leaving scratches on her arms and legs. She stopped to shake the snow from her short dark hair while a whimper escaped her lips. Then she bowed her head and sprinted forward. A blast of wind swept the white flakes side to side, making wispy snow snakes that followed her. Another gust and the snakes writhed, each piece blending into the other until one large serpent began to slither behind her, closing in...." ~excerpt from Elementari Rising.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

expanding #sffwrtcht

Last night was #sffwrtcht and it was an awesome experience (here's the full transcript if you are interested).  Thank you so much Bryan for having me on!   There was more to say than I had time for, not to mention aspects that simply go beyond the 140char limit. This question in particular is one I keep thinking about:

That's something I'm still working on myself, but I do have a some ideas based on things that have helped me to get where I am right now,  So grab some salt, here goes:

~Get involved in art events where you can interact with other artists: off the top of my head I'm thinking of such online events as 24 hr comic day, Inktober, 30 character challenge, recurring Art Order Challenges#draw365, and #DrinkandDraw but there are many other opportunities as well.

~Create new work on a regular basis and share it (on flickr, facebook, twitter, whatever is your preference.)

~Look into instructional opportunities like the Illustration Masters Class and SmART school. They are worth the money spent not just in terms of the knowledge and training you will receive but also in expanding your connections in the art world.

~Attend conventions, both art centered (like Spectrum and Illuxcon and Comic Con) as well as more writer oriented conventions such as Worldcon, World Fantasy Con, World Horror Con, etc.

~Get your work into the Art Shows at those conventions.

~Sign up for a booth at those conventions.

~Send work in for inclusion in art annuals (Spectrum 21 opens for submissions this month.)

So there you go, what I was not able to fit nicely into 140char last night during SFFWRTCHT last night

Oh, wait, one more thing. On the importance of connections (because many of my suggestions are about making connections). Bryan asked me what role connections played in my success, and this sums up exactly what has helped me get where I am now:

That was my big break. Where it all began. I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am for that initial connection.  (Thank you John!)

And now, because it's Inktober.. here, more stuff that crawled out of my pen the other day.
antlers and branches. sketch by galen dara

Saturday, October 5, 2013

#SFWRTCHT happening next week

I'm nervous and excited: this coming Wednesday at 9pm EDT I'll be participating in a twitter discussion with Bryan Thomas Schmidt on SFF Writers Chat. Come join the conversation (follow hashtag #sfwrtcht*), it will be a party! For a sample of previous sfwrtchts with artists, here's the transcripts for past discussions with the (multiple) award winning John Picacio and the most amazing MCA Hogarth. (What, intimidated? Me? noooooo...)

*Crap. I got the hashtag wrong. It's #sffwrtcht. But it went great anyways, here's the transcript. Thanks Bryan!

Now, for kicks, here's a little something that recently crawled out of my pen and started staring at me. Just had to share!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

War Stories Cover Art.

Cover reveal! Here's what I've been working on for the War Stories anthology

Very sobering subject matter, one that editors Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak take very seriously. The anthology will Kickstart soon, and the book will be available for release in 2014. Here is the current list of contributors and how to submit stories for consideration.  For updates follow War Stories on Facebook and Twitter.

preliminary place holder art, based on one of the soldiers

Thursday, September 26, 2013

odd doooodles (must do)

The other day Wendy N. Wagner shared an essay that hit all sorts of home-runs for me.  Everybody's Free (To Wear Pyjamas) by Liz Kessler.

an excerpt:

"Enjoy the freedom and independence of being unpublished. Oh never mind; you will not 
understand the freedom and independence of being unpublished until you get a book deal. 
But trust me, in ten years you’ll look back at those early notebooks and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much autonomy you enjoyed and how many long, lazy days you were free to spending working on a single chapter.
Your handwriting is not as bad as you imagine...
Write one sentence every day that excites you." ~read more.
It made me miss my sketchbooks and notebooks and spending time filling pages full of odd doodles and notes and mixed media experiments  just to get the crazy stuff out of my head.  I don't keep a regular sketchbook anymore. Which makes me a bit sad. So, inspired by this post. I picked up pen and paper yesterday and for an hour I doodled crazy stuff, just like I used to. Gonna try and do this every day.  Thank you Wendy. And Liz.

sept 2013 odd doodle happened.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The haters in your head

Yes. This. All of it. 
"One voice telling me 'your not interesting enough" and another voice telling me 'you're not honest enough'...If I'm going to be honest, I haven't figured it out. At all. So I guess I'm just gonna throw this out there, see if any of you have similar experiences."

Thank you Jay

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

All things Glitter & Mayham.

Over at Apex Publications I wrote a post about creating the cover of Glitter & Mayhem (preliminary sketches, reference material, etc).  At Worldcon I finally got to see the book in print and yowzaaahz! It's even more beautiful than I could have possibly imagined! (And the stories are epic and diverse.)  If you want a chance to win a free copy of Glitter & Mayhem, Apex is holding a pin it to win it contest:
"To win, all you have to do is pin the Glitter & Mayhem page from the Apex website (or you can simply repin it from here) and pin at least 10 other things you feel best encompass the theme of the anthology on a board you call Glitter & Mayhem. Once you have your board complete, put a link to it in the comments of this post."
You have until Sept 24 to do this. GOOD LUCK!

And now, some pics from the Glitter & Mayhem release party :)
at the San Antonio Rollercade w/ G&M editor John Klima

glittery at the rollercade, Mikolaj Habryn, Liz Gorinski, Rachel Swirsky, Seanan McGuire, and I.

yes I dressed as the disco ball.

(glittery on the roller rink)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Strange New Words

Another little project I'm doing work for, Ari Marmell is kickstarting a collection of his short stories. (And I'm doing the cover art).

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fireside! (year two)

This actually launched last month but things were kinda hairy around here, so, belatedly: FIRESIDE YEAR TWO IS A GO! With new fiction and art every month. Here's a sample of what I'm doing for them over there:
illustration for The Journal, written by Ken Liu. Fireside issue #5.
Fireside is also publishing a serial by Chuck Wendig: The Forever Endeavor. Brian White and I discussed how to do work for that, something that would be stylistically different than the rest of the illustrations. Here's what resulted:
illustration for episode one of The Forever Endeavor written by Chuck Wendig. Fireside issue #4
This is just the start. More coming soon and regularly. Fireside magazine is a subscription based online venture. You can purchase individual issues or subscribe for the whole year. More about how here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mormons in Comics (thank you Theric)

Salt Lake City just had their comic con and I'm disappointed I missed it.

It was with delight I found out that Theric Jepson included mention of me in his (long distance) presentation about Mormons in Comics.

(He mentioned both Being Born , the piece I created for the Sunstone comic edition, as well as Traitors and Tyrants, the comic that John Nakamura Remy and I created for Monsters and Mormons.)

It was delightful to go back and remember both those projects, also it was an honor to be included in an amazing lineup of other fabulous artists and creators.  Thank you Theric. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Well, over the weekend, this happened.
I win the Hugo in the Fan Artist category! (Thank you Andrew Williams for taking this photo)
 Congratulations to all the nominees and winners! Here is the live recording of the ceremony. (The Fan Artist category is the first Hugo announced, about 56 minutes into the ceremony. And yes it's nerve wracking for me to watch it, even now.)

Video streaming by Ustream

With much gratitude to the other artists who shared the ballot with me. 

The Hugo winners of 2013. Photo curtsy of Tor.com

Friday, August 16, 2013

Random Miscellany of Inspiration and Insight.

(a link to my latest post over at the Inkpunks.....)

"For my post today I just wanted to share an odd assortment of stuff that inspired me, motivated me, made an impact in some way, and was usually stumbled upon at just the right moment.  It’s an eclectic assortment, little bit of this, little bit of that, just a chance to indulge in some very cool stuff other people have said and done.  Here we go...."~ read more

(with stuff from Wendy N. Wagner, Amanda Palmer, Amy Sundberg, Theodora Goss, Christie Yant, and more. Because there is just so much awesome out there, I can hardly breath sometimes for the wonder of it all.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

WorldCon 2013

 A quick rundown of where I'll be and when at WorldCon/LonestarCon III:


~Upon arriving Thursday afternoon, I'll hang my work in the Art Show. With any luck, the set up will look a bit like this:
Huge debt of gratitude to Lee Moyer for helping me clean up this act.

~Friday at 10 am the Art Show opens to con goers with an official Opening Reception held at 7pm that evening to meet the artists. Worldcon has also scheduled guided docent tours of the show and several Art Night Showcases featuring presentations by many of the attending artists.  (You can find those and other art related events and presentations here.)

~Saturday from 2pm to 6pm I'll be at table 5 in Artist Alley, showing art work and doodling on anyone who happens to come by.
i do so love to doodle on people.

~Saturday from 8pm to 10pm I'll be at the San Antonio Rollercade where the Glitter & Mayhem book release party will be (Aw Yeah!)

~Sunday at 2pm I'll be in room 103a as part of the Bouncing Images group doodling event w/ Teddy Harvia, Mel White, and Maurine Starkey.
~Sunday afternoon there will be rehearsals and such, and then off to the Reception and Ceremony (to see if I lucked out and won that Hugo.) 


The rest of the time will be just trying to catch my breath and absorb the awesomeness.  See you there!
(✧✧✧Glitter & Mayhem cover art✧✧✧)

Monday, August 12, 2013

AFP tarot deck kickstarter

Guess What? The Amanda Palmer Tarot Deck I created art for four years ago (and then the project got shelved indefinitely)... It's BACK IN THE WORKS! A kickstarter to fund it launched last week and has already surpassed it's funding goal by double.

Keep in mind, the only way to obtain one of these decks is to make a pledge before the kickstarter ends on September 4th. 78 cards, each one created by a different artists, this deck is going to be amazing.  I am so thrilled to be a part of it.

A little background: I owe Amanda Palmer an enormous debt of gratitude for getting me back into art to begin with. It was 2009 and it had been years since I had painted anything when she shared a whole bunch of photos of herself nekkid for anyone to appropriate and interpret artistically as they pleased.  Crazy, right? But it happened to be the the jump start I needed. I picked up brush and paint and started working again.

When the idea for the Amanda Palmer tarot deck started floating around shortly afterwards I was all over it. I initially planned on doing the Three of Swords, but I had also just finished dying over her Who Killed Amanda Palmer Photographic Evidence collection and decided that the Ten of Swords, with it's over-the-top melodrama was just the thing for me. I went with a stabbed-in-the-back-AND-thrown-over-board-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean setting. Why?... Well, why not?

Valya wrote a beautiful post about just how perfect a tarot collaboration with Amanda Palmer is:
"For those unfamiliar with her work, Amanda’s songs, while fiercely intimate, are also iconic. She sings about abuse, addiction, abortion, heartache, love, abandon, regret, and hope; and her songs give voice to the dreams and fears of fans around the world. That would be enough to endear Amanda to her fans, but she takes it further to connect with them on a personal level at shows, ninja gigs, and online. Amanda opens herself up, and people often walk away saying that the experiences were intimate, inspirational, and transformative.
That is what the Amanda Palmer Tarot is about: Intimacy. Inspiration. Transformation." ~read more
And now, here's a few of my preliminary studies and work-in-progress shots for the AFP 10 of swords.
preliminary studies for the AFPtarot

studio shot of the painting in progress

another studio shot, painting in progress

final painting, 10 of Swords. AFP tarot.

(Makes me want to start painting again. Digital is awesome and perfect for what I do, but I miss getting my hands dirty.)

For more updates and info about the AFP tarot project check out their tumbler, twitter, and facebook page. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Amanda Palmer, on creative method and Neil's new book. etc.

Amanda Palmer wrote a bit about how her and Neil are different in their creative methods, and a whole lot of other really amazing stuff.  (Putting this here so I can find it easily in the future because it needs to be read and re-read and re-read etc).

"we start off with all these fresh ingredients, recognizable (a heart, a finger, an eyeball, a glass of wine) and we throw them in the art-blender. i only let things mix very slightly. i keep my blender on 2 or 3. you can recognize the component parts: in the final art-soup, the finger might be severed and mangled, but you can peer into your bowl and see that it’s a finger, floating there, all human and bloody and finger-y. neil puts his art-blender on 10. you wind up with a fantastic purée, but often you have no fucking idea where the experiences of his life wound up in the mix of his final product. if you see a finger, it’s not recognizable as a human one. and that’s part of what makes Neil Gaiman (capital N and G) work. and, i’d argue, my choice to dial my art-blender down from a 5 to a 2 or 3 over the past few years, as i write more and more “direct” songs…i don’t know, it may be part of what i’ve needed to do to survive as an artist (or more likely, as a human).

we do these things instinctively, i think." ~read more.

God I love her. 

Also, I've been looking at a lot of Yoshitaka Amano, trying to find some inspiration lately. LOVE this piece, 
salamander, by yoshitaka amano.

Monday, June 24, 2013


I have a new blog post at the Inkpunks. A bit of stuffs about podcasts, and I interview Sandra Wickham about her experience as a listener and a podcaster. You should check it out.

An excerpt:
"When I’m up to my elbows in an illustration and my music library is feeling overplayed, I often turn to podcasts for some background stimulus while I work. A random sampling from the past month: I’ve been fascinated by the princess who thought she swallowed a glass piano, by sensory deprivation chambers,  by Greg Rucka on writing Punisher (etc), by a tour of the alimentary canal with Mary Roach, and by an interview with rock climber and artist, Kate Rutherford.  (Yes I have eclectic interests and a lack of focus.) The information is vast and varied, the conversation scintillating. All while I’m holed up painting away in solitary confinement.
Now, to bring some focus to the subject. In the SFF community podcasts are extremely valuable for keeping current with happenings in the publishing field, geeking out over shared interests, and as a powerful storytelling venue. Our very own Sandra Wickham has a good amount of experience in the podisphere, hosting the podcast Sound Bytes for Bitten by Books and co-hosting on Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing. Her short story, Brothers, is included in the podcast anthology, Chronicles of the Order. She has kindly consented to answering a few questions about how she got involved...." ~read more
 Interesting thing is, I have to be at a certain point in the illustration before I can turn on a podcast. I have to be past the research and thumbnail phase. Otherwise, I miss everything that is being said.   It's at that point, when I know where the illustration is going, THAT'S when I can turn off the ambient background noise, and listen to something a bit more stimulating.  Just saying.

okay, that's all. Back to work.

getting over the bump.

so I have this serial story to illustrate, and I only have the first installment. I'm struggling to figure out what will be the *pivotal* image to pull out, to work with. But mostly, I'm just a tad dry, creatively speaking. So today, I found myself doing thumbnail after thumbnail and it wasn't even for the project any more, it was just because. And I was pulling up images I love from Scott Bakal and Yoshitaka Amano and doing thumnails based on some of their art work.  JUST BECAUSE.

and it felt great.
Tomorrow, I'll get back to work, the *real* work (see if I can make any headway on that serial.) But today, it felt good to just draw a bit. I do not do that nearly often enough.

(BTW... the moon was *epic* tonight.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thumbnails etc

Over at BookLifeNow I have a new post where I walk through creating the illustration for The Ballad of Marisol Brook. Go check it out! 

Since I'm making an effort to have thumbnail sketches be a pivotal part of my process, here's a few recent ones:

Definitely something I'm rusty at (and impatient with), but need to commit to do, even if it's just one or two per project. (Dan Dos Santos does a good break down of the thumbnail process.)

Now just for kicks... here are some notebooks and sketchbooks from famous authors, arists, and visionaries (because I love this kind of stuff, and I need to get back in the habit of sketchbooking/notebooking.)

Okay, back to work.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

(Spectrum was awesome)

Too tired to write much, so here's some pics. 


Midnight lifedrawing session.
Charles Vess drawing in my sketchbook. (Oh my, swoon.)
Getting over being a tiny corner in the middle of vast awesomeness.
Doodling a tattoo on Marlyse. :)

Lastly,  at the convention Lisa gave me a beautiful handbound sketchbook she'd made plus I acquired an old japanese ink pen with brush tip. I instantly put both to use: