Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I am the Heart Warrior. I Have SURVIVED

     “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
-Eleanor Roosevelt

     "If only you'd have know me, before the accident. 
For with that grand collision, came a grave consequence. 
Receptors overloaded, they bust and disconnect, 
'til there is little feeling. Please work with what is left."
-Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie)

     It's an excellent quote. However, I don't think I have looked fear in the face, but I have lived through this horror and I have created a Heart Warrior. I had been working on some Art like this piece to help me through the rough time.  To express how I feel in a constructive way, instead of just burning their house down, which would be bad, but equally satisfying.

However, I feel very conflicted this past week in light of Historic events. Ill get into that in a bit. the context
is important (I promise.)

     I had thought I was doing quite well recovering from the emotional manipulated Destruction of Pompeii my Ex put me through this past 6 months:  Constantly sucking me back in with kindness and promises of "we'll work it all out" only to break up with me all over again so I could not fully recover from the blow as he kept knocking me down by emotionally manipulating me, the situation and the ways in which we communicated with each other.  It was a trick, a cruel one that he used to punish me.  It's really made me
think of how much of a Monster that makes him.  It also makes me question what kind of person does that, really.  It's a pretty cruel thing to do, especially when all I wanted was to actually work things out, to find a solution and work through the problems. But he blocked any sort of progress or possibility for that. There are really only two kinds of people in this world: Problem Identifiers and Problem Solvers.  B (my Ex) certainly is not the sort that likes to Solve Problems, only make them worse or make more problems.

     In any case, Heart Warrior, was a piece that I began well over a year ago.  As you all know I participate in the Illustration Friday weekly inspiration illustrations from time to time.  Well around the end of April (2014) they posted a topic "Survivor."  B and I had just started fighting more than we have ever fought at the beginning of that month. I moved out of our bedroom and into the upstairs (my studio at that time) and he did not speak to me for about a month.  It was a very rough time, obviously, and affected my ability to work on art or to really do anything.  Until finally I forced myself to do something and a week before IF Friday posted Survivor they posted Natural.
I had created an illustration of a Green Tea Leaf meditating. It was a projection of the state I wanted to be in. I wanted to be calm, and alright where I was at, which was certainly not the case. I wanted to be anywhere except where I was at.  I can definitely say:  no one knows how to throw a cold shoulder like my Ex, B.  He's a frigid and distant man and I honestly don't know how I or anyone ever falls for him. The man is heartless through and through and does not care for anyone except himself.  It makes me feel like a fool not to have seen it sooner.  We were together 6 years, and he was able to discard me as a person with no effort at all.  It's a little embarrassing to admit being treated in such a way, but that is how I was treated.  I was made to feel insignificant, small, meaningless and worthless.

     So a week later, IF Friday posts Survivor and I have the idea for the piece I completed today.  I just was not strong enough emotionally at the time to complete it.  I sketched it out kinda sorta.
  I had a vision of a Heart (the muscle not the icon)  walking strongly down a road in the middle of a desert. He'd be covered in stitches and scars, implying he had been torn and ripped to shreds but slowly pieced and stitched and pulled back together again.  He's on the road, a Survivor of cataclysmic or apocalyptic events.
 I wanted it to feel like a Mad Max or Resident Evil (3) sort of Universe, where the land is barren and devoid of green or nourishment of any kind. I based his clothes and weapons off concept art for both of those films.  He looks very worn and torn which is how I have felt.  It felt very apocalyptic and war barren.

     There is a beautiful Japanese philosophy called Kintsugi.  When things break into pieces, they are mended back with gold. They believe that you should honor the history of the object. That all it's experiences are important and should not be hidden or forgotten.  It is what makes the object beautiful.  I love the sentiment and have thought about it a lot recently.  It's the reason I pulled this idea back out of the morgue and began working on it again.  I knew that I could finish the piece and really needed to for myself.  So I drew this little Heart Man and showed all of the scars and places where he had to be pieced back together.  It's important to show fragility and weakness sometimes other wise the display of strength that comes after doesn't have the same impact or importance.  I have planned a few pieces that relate to this philosophy in the context of my recent breakup as a therapy for myself.  I am channeling strength from the creative ether from this practice, I believe.

     That is how I felt then and certainly how I am feeling about it now after being dragged through possibly the worst 6 months I have ever experienced at one person's hand.  I made a decision around that time that I shouldn't sacrifice what I wanted to do with my life for someone who could treat me as if I meant nothing to them and make me believe that they didn't.  What purpose does it serve to make someone you care about feel that way, anyway?  It was then that I decided that I would move to NYC and continue to pursue a  career in Illustration. Which I am working on doing this year (making it happen).

     Thus far things are falling into place and I feel, now, far enough removed from this messy and nasty breakup that he put us through to move forward with my plans unencumbered by an emotional tie to him. This sentiment has been driving the car, so to speak, ever since and I have been creating art that would allow me to vent out my frustration and anger about these past 6 months.  Until... Marriage Equality is made legal last Friday with the ruling of the Supreme Court.
Then all I can think about are all the plans that we had to marry each  other and for our future life together, etc.  They were like shelves of  empty photo albums full of memories that will never happen. Not for us  anyway.  Every Facebook photo of a smiling same-sex couple, one  right after the other, happy that they can FINALLY be married, like bombs dropping in my stomach. I guess the timing couldn't have been better. We break up and then we are finally able to legally marry. Bitter Irony and it has made me feel conflicted for several days about him and about what we were to each other.  Things are not amicable between us, mostly his choosing. We don't speak to each other or have a way to, again his choices. He seems to have the inability to forgive others and move on. Among his uncanny ability to manipulate and freeze out others, he also can hold a grudge like no one else I've ever met. It's unfortunate that our biggest obstacle in working things out or even being friends has been him.

     You can't keep from getting your heart shredded and stomped on but you can choose what you'll do  next.  I chose to stitch this little heart back together, nurse it back to health with a lot of liquor among other vices and get him back on his feet, armed to the teeth, on the road and ready for whatever is coming next in life.  It's a great unfortunate truth that my Ex will not allow us to be amicable and that he chooses to behave in very immature and nasty ways that hurt us both instead of trying to be part of the solution.  I ran across something Deborah Reber (young adult fiction writer) had said about breakups, “Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.”   I can't control how he has chosen to act, but I can choose how I live my life and what I am going to do with it.  I hate that he made me choose between him and advancing my career as opposed to trying to find a way to stay together and accomplish my goals as well. But, it has made me realize that the "team" he always talked about just meant "Team B" and not "Team B&L"  It's obvious my needs and what is important to my life are not important to him unless it's convenient for him and he doesn't have to sacrifice anything or be challenged in anyway.  It's sad because that's how relationships grow and become stronger. So for better or for worse and because he chose to set up the parameters of the situation this way, his string gets cut and he gets let go.  Ultimatums instead of Solutions is such a terrible way to be.

     But, I guess that's just my opinion.

     So all stitched up with scars and all, I track my way through the rest of this year until I will move to NYC at the end of this year.  I will miss all my friends here but am VERY READY to Start my new life in NY. A fresh start and a new sunrise to shine on my face, scars and all.

until next time, friends...
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015


"Sure I may be tuckered, and I may give out, but I won't give IN!"
-Molly Brown (The Unsinkable Molly Brown, 1964)

     At 11:40 pm on April 14th, 1912 An Unsinkable ship hit an Iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean and began to sink.  1,317 people stepped on the bow of that ship expecting to make it to land again. Only 710 survived.
Molly Brown was one of those 710 that were lucky to survive.  But do you ever really survive an event that cataclysmic?  I can only imagine what it must have been like to be there stranded in the water on the life boats, half glad you were safe for the moment,  half crushed by all the death surrounding you and the endless pleas for help from 1500 others that drowned and froze to death that horrible night.  Freezing to death yourself out in the cold air wondering if you were going to die out on that icy ocean waiting to be rescued, terrified you may never be before its too late.  Four hours on that ocean waiting before aid did finally come. However, just because you were pulled aboard safety and brought once again to dry land, I'm certain the haunting visions and screams followed those 710 the rest of their days on this planet.

     I hit an Iceberg this year. I feel as if I have been scrambling to get to the life boats and escape the inevitable sinking of this Titanic.  After 6 years you get attached and bonded to a person.  To listen to them tell you they are much happier in your absence...

     Well it feels like hitting the iceberg and feeling it shred your hull as it scraped and tears down your side.
Then you begin to be submerged in the icy cold waters.  And this breakup has been like that icy cold water.
It chills you to the bone before it freezes you to death if you don't get yourself in that life boat and start rowing...  

...and rowing and rowing and rowing....

     This piece has kept popping up in my mind with that one single message I placed at the bottom of it 3 years ago:
"Strength and Courage in the Face of Devastation."  

     I felt so compelled by that message, such an evocative message when paired with that image. It resonated something to me then as it certainly has now, just these recent past months.  It is a call to muster your courage, to brace yourself when the unexpected happens, to HOPE.   You will survive, you can survive that Cold Freezing Dark Night and Menacing Deathly Waters. You will come out of it all Stronger Braver and Wiser and then finally get to place your foot on dry land once more, grounded in yourself.

     Molly Brown became an American Legend, not only because of her survival of the Sinking of the Titanic, which is what made her famous, but the story of her life reads like something right out of a collection of All American Fairy Tales.  Born Margaret Tobin in a three-bedroom cottage, near the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri, on what is now known as Denkler's alley. Her parents were Irish Catholic immigrants. She had six siblings (two of which were half from both parents previous widowed marriages.)

     At age 18, Margaret Tobin relocated to Leadville, Colorado. She found a job in a department store were she met James Joseph Brown, nicknamed "J.J.", an enterprising, self-educated man. His parents, too, had emigrated from Ireland.  Brown had always planned to marry a rich man but she married J.J. for love. She said,
      'I wanted a rich man, but I loved Jim Brown. I thought about how I wanted comfort for my father and how I had determined to stay single until a man presented himself who could give to the tired old man the things I longed for him. Jim was as poor as we were, and had no better chance in life. I struggled hard with myself in those days. I loved Jim, but he was poor. Finally, I decided that I'd be better off with a poor man whom I loved than with a wealthy one whose money had attracted me. So I married Jim Brown.'

     But not only did Molly find true love and happiness at such a young age, incidentally she found wealth as well.  The Brown family acquired great wealth when, in 1893, J.J.'s mining engineering efforts proved instrumental in the production of a substantial ore seam at the Little Jonny Mine of his employers.  They bought a $30,000 Victorian mansion in Denver, Colorado, U.S., and in 1897 they built a summer house, Avoca Lodge in Southwest Denver near Bear Creak, which gave the family more social opportunities. Margaret became a charter member of the Denver Woman's Club, whose mission was the improvement of women's lives by continuing education and philanthropy.  Adjusting to the trappings of a society lady, Brown became well-immersed in the arts and fluent in French, German, Italian, and Russian. Brown co-founded a branch in Denver of the Alliance Fran├žaise to promote her love of French culture.

     Molly and J.J.'s truly was the All-American rags to riches story, a fairy tale where Cinderella and Prince Charming might live happily ever after in their Colorado Castle. However, Fairy Tales are Not Reality and life is never really like a fairy tale most times and things fell apart romantically for Molly and J.J.  After 23 years of marriage, Margaret and J.J. privately signed a separation agreement in 1909. Although they never reconciled, they continued to communicate and cared for each other throughout their lives. The agreement gave Margaret a cash settlement and she maintained possession of the house on Pennsylvania Street in Denver, and the summer house, Avoca Lodge in Southwest Denver near Bear Creak. She also received a $700 monthly allowance (equivalent to $18,374 today) to continue her travels and social work.

     So when Molly boarded the S.S. Titanic that fateful day in April in 1912, she boarded it alone.
It truly was her own Strength, Courage and Tenacity that saw her through that tragedy.  She often said that the love for her children and the hope of seeing them again was also what got her through that night.  She was, after all, boarding the ship home to see them after her visit abroad to France.  Even after her separation from her one true love, the devastation of the Titanic and the nasty family brawl with her children over finances once J.J. died, Molly still continued her charity and educational work for women and underprivileged.  It was this very Spirit that Earned her the nickname "Unsinkable."

     Through all the tragedy, heartache and adversity she had to overcome in her lifetime, she still kept on with a vigilance that many of us in this world can only admire.

Strength and Courage through Devastation.  I have thought about these words so many times these past 6 months and I have actually tried to write this Blog Post SEVERAL TIMES previous since My Titanic struck the Ice last January, but for some reason, I would just delete 98.5 percent of what I had written and start all over again.  Just reading this post right now, you probably wouldn't think to yourself that I had spent 6 months off and on writing and re-writing it (mostly re-writing it), but I have. Though I normally loathe reading/writing overly personal things on the public online forum as I usually feel it's borderline "whiny" if not overly so, I knew deep down I needed to write about this piece and how I felt about it when I illustrated it and how I feel about it now and what it means to me in the current context of where I am right now in my life.  I also wanted to say it in a way that might connect to others going through the same experience or a similar one. I wanted this piece to not only express my love and admiration for such a brave woman in American History but I wanted my expression of her to inspire others and help them get through their Icy Cold Nights.

     This piece was originally made as a reaction to the Capsizing of the Concordia back in 2010.  It made me think so strongly of the Titanic and how similar the incidents were, but also how thankful I was to how dissimilar they were and that the death toll for the incident on the Concordia was much much lower than the Titanic's.  I was in the mood to create a new FatMan illustration and I felt that I had found my inspiration in the terrible accident.  I would use the legendary visage of the Unsinkable Molly Brown to inspire hope in others during times of hardship, whether it be the Concordia or just anything, really.  How ironic that I would create something that would eventually help me cope through a tough situation in my own life years later.

     I started with just sketching a hybrid of Molly's countenance and blending it with the typical "FatMan" Characteristics I have come to include in that series of illustrations.  As you can see from the sketch I had to work it a bit before I was finally satisfied of a good Molly-FatMan hybrid.  As per usual the FatMan is always shown in profile.  I know I have mentioned it in previous posts, but being shown in profile is a visual evocation and symbol of power.  Since the FatMan character has kinda become my artistic muse, the profile is perfect.  More specifically in this illustration, I wanted to evoke the power of strength and courage that Molly had displayed in the tragic sinking of the Titanic.

     I began researching photographs of the real Molly Brown and based the dress she is wearing on an actual dress that Molly wore when she gave Captain Arthur Rostron an award for his heroic rescue of the Titanic survivors.  I had a lot of fun recreating the pattern from her blouse in the photograph.
As you can see the photograph is in black and white and like many of the photographs from that time, there is no reference for color.  So the color of Molly's hair and of her dress are based on the hair and wardrobe of Kathy Bates, who plays Molly in the American film, Titanic. Also I wanted to use alot of purple in her dress.  Not only because the purple would harmonize quite well with all the blues I was using in the night time icy ocean  surrounding her in the illustration, but also because purple is a traditionally regal color and has been used in portraits of majestic European families for centuries.
 It is said to evoke the power and majestic nature of person who wears such a color and radiate it from them.  I liked that idea and infused a bit of that into this illustration; radiating hope, strength and power to all who see her.  She is holding her oar upright, again evoking that Egyptian iconography of power and strength.

     On a quick side note: if you don't believe the evocation of power from simply being in a particular pose or posture, read about the Wonder Woman Pose. Just google it, if you dare...
or you just click on the handy dandy link I have provided below.

     The rest of the illustration work, after figuring out the color composite sketch, really goes like clockwork. That is the REAL FUN of Illustration: getting to play and experiment to create textures and balance lights and darks with color, etc.  At least, that is the fun part of the work for me.  I do enjoy the challenge of all the creative preliminary work that comes before it, all the drawing challenges and such. However in the middle part of the illustration process, you get to put a movie or record or audio book on in the back ground and just enjoy the simple pleasure of making art.  More specifically, in this case, digitally painting.  Anyone who enjoys the pastime or profession of painting understands the absolute zen nature that the activity brings.  I very much enjoyed painting her.  I did capture some screen shots of the work in progress as you will see below to see some of the process of this illustration.

     I worked on this piece over the coarse of 2 weeks off and on. From the work in progress shots you can kinda see where I focused and when. Since it's been some years since I created this work, it's a bit fuzzy as far as my time line.  Essentially I sketched out the illustration, inked it and then scanned that in the computer. I then made a rough color composite sketch of what I wanted the color to kinda sorta be.  I then began painting (digitally).  I work in many painted layers of varied opacity, so the process is slow but yields some nice results when I take my time to do it the way I want it to be done. I started with her head, hair and hat. I then painted her dress and blouse. I then painted her oar, boat and all the other boats in one stint. Then the Titanic, iceberg and ocean detail pretty much finished the piece.  Lastly I created an illuminating effect from the moon onto the illustration.  That pretty much sums up the process of this illustration.  I only spent 2 weeks on the piece itself, but it reaches out far beyond that frame of time with it's content and message.

     So my Titanic did strike an Iceberg last January? Yes.  And the captain of my ship no longer wanted to cruise along side me? Yes. Did I have to jump ship for my own survival from drowning in a relationship where I was not loved back? Yes, I did, but in all fairness I was ordered to jump and pretty much forced overboard (very similarly to how Molly was forced into a life boat that night.)  Am I resentful of the outcome? Yes, slightly so. Although, I'm not certain if the damn ship wouldn't have sank itself anyways. If a captain wants a ship to sink, then the ship eventually will, if anything out of self-fulfilled prophecy/projection. In other words, if you continually say things are going to happen a certain way, then, subconsciously, you are working on making that come to fruition.

     I have learned this about my experience:  You have two choices when the boat is sinking. You can either drown on the sinking ship or you jump in that Life Boat, grab an oar and start rowing for shore or rescue or whatever else life may be bringing you. Either way, the boat is going down. You can't save it no more than you can make someone love you, that doesn't.

So choose: Life or Not Life.  I choose Life.  The good thing is that sometimes when your rowing along, people can pop in and out of your life boat with you. People that are going through something similar, that get it, that get you and it's nice to have someone pick up an oar and row some of that way with you as I'm certain they are also glad for the company as well: Your Row Buddies (as I like to call them.)  They may stay for a short time or they might stay for a little while and then hop boats, but in either case, enjoy the time you have and be grateful for it.

"Strength and Courage in the Face of Devastation."  
     It's not so bad when you realize your not bearing the tragedy of it all on your own.  So take hope in that, Titanic Survivors, whomever you may be out there.  You are not alone.  Look to Molly for the inspiration to find the Strength to get through it and you'll be right as rain once again, stepping on that shore wiser and closer to yourself than you were before.

So until next time try to stay afloat in the storms of your life, weary travelers, and as always
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

SOFT, Fluffy and Fun on Illustration Friday!

     Yay! It's Illustration Friday!  I Must say that It was nice to put this together last night.
I have been in a bit of a Creative Desert of sorts trying to find an oasis of productivity
and this week, last night included, there has been a Big Rain of it.  

     I was wondering where my Muse had been.  I had been considering doing a new FatMan Illustration and maybe this is the my Muse (The FatMan) trying to tell me something.  In either case, It's nice to have some of my creative MOJO back.  It's been weird and I have felt undefined as an artist in it's absence.

     So this week's topic is SOFT.  I had immediately thought of Cat or Bear or a Rabbit (considering Easter just passed) or some other cute and fuzzy woodland creature to draw, 
but I have decided I have drawn so many animals and not enough people and children, so I made a conscience decision to draw children this 
week. I think about things of comfort and nighttime things when I thing of the word SOFT. I also think of baby animals (which I have done a lot of lately). I immediately knew I wanted to do a pajama/nighttime sort of illustration but didn't want it to just be a spot illustration of a child holding a stuffed animal as that would be too similar to an illustration I did last year with the Mirror and the Teddy bear.  SO I thought of what else is soft and comfortable besides PJ's and stuffed animals.  Pillows came to mind and of course pillow fights, which are fun and vaguely violent but softly so.

     So I began researching pajamas and PJ patterns and pillows and pillow fights. The rest of the illustration just kind of fell into place.  There's not too terribly much to read into the image. It's pretty straight forward.  My goal wasn't to try to be clever this week. My primary objective was to just have some fun to try to get back in the swing of drawing and illustrating again. My mind has been so recently distracted an preoccupied, I could not focus n one single thing, let alone plan and implement some decent artwork. I've thrown away so many bad drawings in the past many many moons with nothing to show. SO it's been frustrating to the point Ive been running from Blank sheets of paper and pencils in my nightmares (well not really but how cute would that be? lol) I'm thinking of illustrating that, The Creative Block Monster/Monstrosity. It sounds like fun and my objective with Art this month is to have fun first. Drawing these two girls having a good ole' time with their sleepover pillow fight was definitely fun and kept me chuckling and smiling as I worked on them. 

Illustration By John Kenn Mortensen

     That pretty much sums things up for this week's IF Friday post. I hope you all enjoy the Illustration and decide to do something particularly FUN this weekend;
Something that makes you Chuckle and Something that makes you Smile.

until next time, friends...
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The PATH Unwinds on Illustration Friday

"Two roads diverged in a wood, 
and I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
-Robert Frost 1920

     Yay! It's Illustration Friday and I know we are all probably ready for the adventures the weekend may hold.  This is why the week's topic, PATH, is so appropriate. The decisions we make, both small and large, affect our lives and the paths that we take.  

     I think we have all sat back and wondered, "What would have happened if I had done THIS instead of THAT."   It's a curious wonder and not one of regret, but just of simple and plain curiosity.  We all fantasize about one moment on one day in our past. We think about if we had done one slight thing different, would it have changed the outcome of our lives as we know it.  There is a favorite film of mine that I watch from time to time that explores the possibilities of this very curiosity. If you haven't seen Sliding Doors yet, I recommend you do sometime in your near future.  It explores the 2 different outcomes of the life of one woman who, in one story line catches a train home early after losing her job and the other story line is from the point of view of what would have happened if she had missed that train.  

   Catching a train, missing a train; it is a powerful metaphor, trains. It's used time and time again in Literature and Visual Art.  Sometimes it means a transition (or as I like to call it, TRAINsition.)  Sometimes it's just a symbol for the passing of one's life.  Another of my favorite films that uses the same metaphor is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I love the scene where Harry is killed by Voldemort and he meets the deceased Dumbledore at the Kings Cross Train Station.  It's a symbol of adventurous and mysterious far off destinations.  I find it's symbolism very beautiful and poetic and it is for that reason I used it in my illustration this week.

     This is the first Illustration I have completed in several weeks.  I have been on a very strange and rough path as of late and it's been a difficult reality to manage.  When I looked up the topic for this week's Illustration Friday and saw that it was PATH, I knew that I just had to participate, come what may to accomplish that.  And though one illustration is not a career, this illustration is the breaking of the ice for a new path I am on.  I have discussed in previous posts my intentions and plans to move to NYC at the end of this year to follow my passion for illustration.  I have up until now enjoyed a long and good career in Graphic Design, but it was time for a change.  I started the path of Illustration so long ago and it is time to board that 
train and see where it leads, scary as it may seem, the unknown.  However, the unknown can also be exhilarating in the sense that it is a completely new adventure you've never been on.  

     So the character in this week's illustration is meant to represent myself.  I am on a Journey, a Path.  And this journey has cost a great deal of personal sacrifice.  It has cost me a long standing relationship with my partner and lover of 6 years.  He was unable to move with me and, unfortunately, he was also unable to compromise or sacrifice anything to allow me to pursue this part of my career, which is very important to me.   Though I would have liked to make things work, since this decision was meant to be temporary for a year or two and then I would have come back to where I currently live, I understand the challenges of a long distance relationship are tough and not everyone is strong enough to meet those challenges.  I personally feel a tad resentful about their decision as I, personally, would never take the easy way out if something very important was at stake. I have to accept that I cannot change others or what they decide to do. They are on their own path and they just now prefer to not have me on that path with them.  I just have to accept that.

     The relevance of this is that the path I am on obviously has been very rough and challenging terrain and I have to be ready to meet what lies ahead, this next year and what is to come in NYC.  So far my new path has seemed very dark and bleak, hence nightfall in my illustration, but I have to believe that the daylight is on its way. So I am carrying a lantern to light my path through the dark times, now and ahead.  This illustration marks the beginning of pulling myself out of this rutt, emotionally, artistically, professionally and personally.  

     You may notice that the lantern is lit by little lightning bugs.  This is kind of an inside joke I have with myself.  In college, I wrote an essay on the turn of the children's illustrator, Jessie Wilcox Smith.  She had taken a commission to illustrate a calendar for the student association for Bryn Mawr college in Pennsylvania (all women school.)  She used the commission to illustrate and promote the "New Woman" and the equality of women, a very controversial subject in 1901.  
In one of the calendar illustrations, Smith depicts that lantern lighting tradition of the graduating students to the new incoming students.  A graduate would take her lit lantern and then light the lantern of the new incoming student. This symbolized the passing of knowledge, courage and strength.  I loved the image so much that I used the same concept for an illustration that I send out with all the thank you notes from my graduation from SCAD.  I illustrated myself in my graduate robes and I am holding a lantern that is lit by bumble bees, SCAD's college mascot (Art the Bee.)   I find myself from time to time adding the lantern into my work.  I love the symbolism of it and I find the image of the lightening bugs as the light source within the lamp very charming.  I also find it very Southern. Since my journey begins here in the South and will lead me to the North Eastern United States, I wanted to represent a memento, all the wonderful things and memories of those I have met in my time here in the South.  Though I have never really felt particularly "Southern"  I do acknowledge and appreciate this part of my life's history.

     The backpack has traditionally been a symbol used in visual art to represent the nomad or the traveler.  Some of you may recall images of a long branch with a handkerchief tied to the end, full of the personal belongings of that traveler.  I know I've seen it in many a comic strip and they are often depicted walking the train tracks.  The backpack I am carrying is kind of an updated modern version of that iconic symbol.  I am the traveler. I am on a path to a new an unknown place. I'm not fleeing my homeland or running away, but I am leaving it behind me for a new adventure. The unknown wilderness, illustrated here by the cavernous trees.  

     Something my Americus peeps may find interesting is that I based my railroad track on the one here.  I was on my daily walk and just stopped on the bridge over Lee Street to view the train tracks.  It was that very moment that I realized what I was going to illustrate this week and I took out my phone and snapped a few reference photos immediately of the tracks there.  I loved how there was a valley and it was kind of surrounded by trees it created a kind of tunnel in a way.

     This pretty much sums up this weeks illustration.  I hope you all enjoy it and perhaps are inspired to do something adventurous on the Path of this Weekend.

until next time, friends,
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art.