Braving the fears of doing what you love.

Back in College I had several art professors who were really instrumental in the course of finding out what I want to say with my work. Those professors made a huge difference in how I viewed and valued technique, colour, and my own process. Where before I sat rigid at an easel and worrying that it wasn’t the right fit for me, with them I learned that while easels are important for stability, they don’t make or break a painting. While fretting about not enough light to work with my paint mixing, they taught me to use variations of light and still feel out the colours I wanted.  “You won’t always have great lighting, and you won’t have the materials you want when you want them, at times. Learn to use your instincts in creating what you want without relying on the constantly changing elements around you.”

It made sense. I get inspired randomly. I won’t always have a palette and some brushes. Sometimes I won’t even have a sketchbook or notepad. I learned how to create mock-ups using receipts. I adjusted to noting down details verbally, as precisely as possible, in order to recreate it later on. I grabbed onto texture and kept it in my skin, to remember later what mediums I wanted to use. These are all aspects of being an artist. There’s no easy way to embrace the slightly flightier things we love. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of a $200 canvas, or specific paper. Neither did a lot of artists who defined what we now consider classics. They made do.

For a really long time after College, I kept paint and canvases at arms length. They are seriously expensive and I felt they were an unnecessary luxury for me to have, so I just stuck to sketchbooks. I doodled on and off, many times my doodles were pointless notes of how I wanted real life things to look. Then a few weeks ago, I got struck with this intense urge to paint two 6 foot paintings. Christmas is coming up and I had these perfect paintings in my head for two of our friends, and I just started to sketch the idea out. When I’d finished noting everything I wanted to do to the painting, on the sketch, I called Chris over and asked him what he thought. He liked what I’d done and when I told him my idea for making them larger than life, he was so supportive and on board.

We got to the supply store and I spotted the canvases I wanted, behind another huge one. Again, I asked him if he was sure. He likes to do this thing where he pokes fun at me when I double and triple check if somethings okay with him and all I could think was “I haven’t done this in 10 years. How can you have that much faith in what I’m about to do?” but he does.

If you don’t have the funds to do things you love doing, or things that keep you sane, it can really tear at your spirit. I’ve been there. Now, I have an awesomely supportive husband who encourages my wacky ideas but I still keep in mind how quickly art supplies can mount to thousands of dollars. But sometimes, as long as you’re responsible about it, it’s necessary to do what makes you you. If you hold yourself back from going all out with something all of the time, you’re eventually going to wither or snap. Neither one of those is healthy.

I can’t show or even say what these paintings are of, since it’s so specific it might give away who they are for, but as soon as they are unveiled by the people receiving them, I’ll share. Which kind of brings me to another fear I’ve encountered before. Rejection. I don’t think our friends would ever reject the pieces made with love for them, but the outer public can have a cruel disposition. It’s understandable that when you cosplay, paint, sing, or do anything creative you are likely to encounter some pretty vicious people and while their opinions may hurt (or scald, even) it is important to remember that you gave it your all and that before you let their words or even stares hurt you, you have to ask yourself “Would they have given as much of their time and energy to this as I have? Would they do it with as much passion and drive? Would they have even imagined it?” and shrug them off. It’s hard, but if it helps, do a physical shrug. Shrug that negativity right off your shoulders and move on to anyone who may have positive questions, healthy suggestions, or just feels like being in your light.

I intend to go happy crazy with these pieces and hopefully they’ll be enjoyed. If not, that’s okay too, I could probably find some use for them somewhere. The intention was there and that’s what counts.

I can’t wait to show you guys what I’ve come up with, but to keep you busy until I do, please check out all of these other artists works:

Jon Pinto  – Has worked with Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Six Flags, Ron Jon Surf Shops, Americrown, M&M’s, and more.

Brian Kesinger – Tea Girls, octo-victorian art that celebrates beauty, cephalopods and a dash of geekiness.

Karen Hallion –  Licensed artist for Marvel, Lucas Arts, Hasbro, and Cartoon Network.

The Sinking World Exhibit – How the ocean can contribute to the imagination in realistic ways.

 

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The Pause Button of Life

     Sythelie

A few years back, after I’d attempted suicide and survived, a friend bought me World of Warcraft and Burning Crusade. He told me that he wanted me to start playing the game because he didn’t want me to hurt myself again. I was so tired of fighting life and of always feeling victimized or used, that I figured playing a cartoon version of what my ideal self might be like would at least offer me some sort of escape. I could cope with daily life, and all the pressure I put on myself so long as I could escape into this game for a little while. Anime was awesome, but I couldn’t interact with it. Music only worked until the earpieces came out.  So I dove into this game and lo and behold, I loved it. I loved the colours, the stories, the powerfully shimmery and sparkly magical spells. It was a safe haven.

 Shortly after starting the game I met Chris and we enjoyed playing on various servers, with tons of different people. Our friendship became a relationship and I brightened up a bit. Then, as the game became more casual oriented, a lot of the hardcore WoW players started to get incredibly aggressive, some showed a lot of anger. They took it out on people who didn’t deserve it, and I started seeing this everywhere I went on just about any server I went to. I’m sure it isn’t a game issue. It never is. People with anger issues hardly ever target what’s genuinely causing the core anger. Nope, they were using this as a method to vent out their frustrations in real life, because something that once made them happy had changed and instead of adapting to change, they were going to do everything possible to ruin that change for everyone else. It happens. It’s sad but it happens. I didn’t let it totally turn me off of the game, but it did make the experience less enjoyable. I’m not a hardcore gamer but I’m not really a casual either. If I get invested in a character and in my groups progress enough, I take it seriously and work hard at what I’m doing. Just as with anything in life. I just didn’t like what I saw when it came to new people being treated like the enemy simply because the vintage generation of WoW decided they weren’t worthy.

Then I met someone who thought I wasn’t worthy of Chris. And that hurt. It hurt even more when that person, who happened to be a real life friend of his, started to play with us and would sometimes lash out at me. I didn’t realize at the time that it was deeper than just annoyance about a friend being taken by a girlfriend, so since there were also days where the guy was kind and helpful, I let it slide. But then I moved here to be with Chris, and it got worse. Much worse. The guy would sit at our dining table, and say stuff like “I’m going to stab you.” and because Chris was used to this guy sometimes making aggressive off the cuff comments like that, he didn’t see it as something scarier. I did. Because I’ve been on the other side of that wall before. I’ve had that heated anger and disdain thrown at me before, so I knew it was serious this time. I slowly stopped playing WoW. I didn’t know why, but I knew I wasn’t happy in Azeroth anymore. My depression sank to all new levels because I was so far from home and at the time hadn’t made any friends. How could I? Our time was ALWAYS being taken up by this other person. This person who would come to my home, eat my food, insult me, and stay until 4am sometimes. WoW slipped away, Chris and I fought a lot. It was scary, lonely, and I felt like I was just drowning. Then I met Yazmin, who spoke Spanish too and we bonded a bit and she invited me out, where I met Teresa. Teresa who is now my best friend. After that guy finally crossed the line by telling me he wanted to strangle me, kill me, Chris saw the seriousness of it and put his foot down. That guy is no longer in our lives.

I know some people who don’t know my husband would assume that he slacked off on the department of husband/protector. The reality is that this other dude was someone he’d known since childhood, and Chris gives people the benefit of the doubt. He is kind of an oxymoron like me. We think tons of people are stupid, but we also think a lot of people have good in them, and we don’t always think that people are going to go to an extreme. I always fear it, but I pray it stays far away. Whereas with Chris, he doubts their conviction and passion enough to think that they won’t go through with stuff they say. Two sides, same coin. It took a while, but what counts is that he finally took me out of that situation, and has never put me back in there again. Still, WoW was tainted and I couldn’t touch it. I couldn’t stomach watching him play. I resented the game because it had begun to represent all of those angry and hateful people, but worse, it represented someone who emotionally abused and terrorized me for months. It was a scar that just would not heal.

After a while, Chris got kind of bored with it too and we just stopped playing. A few weeks ago, his brother sent him a Resurrection scroll and he started to play. As I watched him play, I started to feel this pull. I didn’t understand why, especially since I had so hated and dreaded the thought of getting back into that world and facing angry hateful people again. I went to lay down when it finally hit me like some lightning bolt. I was envious. I was jealous that he could enjoy the game and I felt like I wasn’t -allowed- to. Then I asked myself why I wasn’t allowed to. I realized that the guy who had been so hateful towards me wouldn’t be on every single server, and even if he were on our server he wouldn’t actively be seeking us out. So… why was I holding myself back from something that a friend had gotten me in order to heal, in the first place?

We talked about it. I was worried about wasting our money in case it did turn out that I didn’t like going back. We tried a Resurrection scroll for me but since I’d used one in the past (when I’d attempted to go back) I couldn’t use it. By then, I knew I wanted back in for sure. Being told it wouldn’t work made me sure that I at least wanted to try. So we signed me back up and I’ve been playing with Chris. Twenty minutes into our leveling new characters, I realized “Holy… I’m actually having fun. I’m running around and not associating it with anything that made me feel bad.”

And that’s where I realized that pausing things sometimes isn’t a bad idea. Sometimes, we’ve got to take a step back from something we love but have begun to hate, instead of forcing it. Then it can become fresh and new again so that we can associate it with better things instead of negative things.

It’s a game. I know. It’s a game that kinda saved me from a very dark pit in life. We all have that in some way or another, or we can if we let ourselves, anyway. More importantly, we’ve all got a pause button. So before clicking the off button on your life, if it’s that scary and desperate, try the pause button first. Maybe in a bit of time it will be a heck of a lot better than you thought it could be. What have you got to lose? It’s on pause.

When motivation walks away.

It’s frustrating, isn’t it? When you’ve got this great idea, and you start to put it down into either paper or action, and suddenly it all sort of fizzles.

I’m kind of encountering that right now. I was going to write up a post about when to help people and when to walk away, and while I know I’ve got plenty to share about that subject, something in me just says “Eh, not tonight, okay? Let’s save that one for later. For a day when you know you’ve got the fuel to push forward on whatever steam you’ve got from your experiences in that department. But for today, why don’t we just hang out?”

Everything in me is telling me to go be a total girl tonight. Curl up with something warm to drink, some anime, a book, or a kdrama. With my lovable kittycat to lay next to me.  Sometimes, we need to do stuff like that. Whether or not you’re a girl. People need “me time”, sometimes. And that’s okay.  Especially when it comes to putting plans into actions.

It’s great when people who have little motivation can still squeeze out the energy to do the work. I know because I’ve been the one to do it on many occasions. Still, sometimes when your body is saying “I’m not motivated, I have no energy.” it’s the genuine truth and we should take its advice. I learned that the hard way.

I used to be a workaholic. I would take a full course-load of classes, work part time, and volunteered, not for just one thing, but 3 things. I was volunteering as a make-up artist for a musical, helping the choir director as his assistant, and voluntarily organization an entire room filled with vintage slide catalogs for the College I went to. I was burning myself out but because I felt this massive sense of accomplishment, I didn’t know to pull back a little. In the end, I made myself really sick, so sick that I still haven’t fully recovered.

Even when others might be calling you lazy or insisting you try harder, there are times when you’ve got to disappoint them so that the bigger picture can happen. Plus, if you’re straining yourself too much, you lose attention to detail and everything rides on the details. So it’s best to hold off until you’re back in focus.

In essence, sometimes you need to be zen to move a mountain. Strength isn’t in what you force, but what you let move around you until you’re ready to be part of the flow.

 

   zen-garden-10

Steampunk: When a subculture gets turned into profitable sex culture.

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  There is an unavoidable fact on the internet. If you can think it, chances are someones already making pornography of it. Let’s face it, that’s what happens when mass media gets its hands on any fad, hobby, or interest. People want to cash in on it.

Recently, while browsing on Facebook, I noticed a really talented Steampunk fashion designer advertising another page she has. I thought “Oh, awesome! More cool steampunk stuff.” and happily clicked the link she had provided. Now, to be fair, Kato has always been rather liberal with how she works the Steampunk fashions she advertises. I’ve never had a problem with that, because after all, Steampunk is supposed to be this audacious and fantastical idea of what a technologically advanced Victorian era would have been like. Chances are, had women had the advances in technology at that time that Steampunk imagines, they’d probably be these fiery and rebellious creatures that Steampunkers like to portray. Nothing wrong with it at all. I was, however, really surprised to find that this insanely talented person who had so many other skills before her, would choose to go nude for the entire world to have access to. It’s her prerogative. That much is true. I guess in a sexually liberated world, as we live in today, it’s perfectly reasonable that some women will choose to take the reins and do that themselves, instead of letting men dominate that industry. I guess the part that struck me most was just how unnecessary it all felt.

I also sort of felt like there was one more thing which had a bit of purity in it, and was loved for all these crazy and fun reasons, being turned into a sexual cash cow. I mean, really, taking the term Steampunk and liberally applying it to a bunch of pretty girls taking off their clothing… well, it’s not really about the subculture. It’s about the girls with their boobs and their exhibitionism. It’s another way to get famous on the internet. It’s another way to fit into yet another cliche. I guess I have to confess that that irks me. It’s like a girl holding a baseball bat and wearing a baseball helmet, calling herself a Major League player, all in the buff, for pay. Big woop. You just discounted everything else you’ve ever done that was ever worthwhile. I guess I just have little respect for women who have talent and skill in a unique profession like being a seamstress or jeweler but choose to overshadow their skill with their skin. Sure, you’re pretty. I’ll give you that. Some might say gorgeous. That’s fine too. At the end of the day, though, I still view it as selling out your abilities.

Does this mean I’m a prude? I don’t think so. I don’t see the value in turning yourself into a product, when you’ve got the skill to create tangible and interesting stuff that people want without you having to go nude for it. That’s my prerogative. Just as choosing to go naked is theirs. Just don’t label it as something it really isn’t. That’s where the offense comes in.

How do you guys feel about women making pornography using a subculture title to gain fame from it?

Being the person who stands by.

 

High school. So much to be said and yet it’s all the same isn’t it? We all had our traumas from it and our best moments from it, and we all look forward to the day when we’re no longer mortified by that one super embarrassing event we went through. Funny thing is: No one else remembers our high school experience as acutely as we do. They had their own story, their own soundtrack, and their own cast and crew. Needless to say, high school was a Motherfucker. Yes. I said it. It was an asshole. I left at 16 with the thought that I’d never ever want to go back. I’m still content with the course I chose. I tested out early, went to college early.

As I get older, though, I do look back sometimes and am in awe of how many life lessons I learned throughout my time there. We all hear about these bullying horror stories and a lot of us raise our hands and take the “I would NOT let that happen in front of me” stance. Sadly, that’s where it usually ends.

I had a lot of anger during my teen years. Oh god, the internal angst of a teen who did whatever she wanted! ARGH! I was actually really lucky in some ways (even if not in others, as previous posts can show). My parents knew that at the core I was a good kid so if I wanted to hang out until late, I got to. If I went to a friends house, they weren’t always nagging me. They knew I’d make logical choices based on the things I’d observed as consequences to friends and relatives who made BAD choices. That didn’t make me immune to the typical “I’m so misunderstood” phase of the teens. Sometimes, I wish I’d stepped out of my self-righteous rebellion and looked at the bigger picture.

See, I was not at all popular in High School. I had friends call me a social butterfly, but ask any of my previous schoolmates who I am, and they’d try to find me in the yearbook only to find “Picture Not Available.” because I skipped that day. Sue me, I hated yearbooks. Anyway, even without being popular, I wasn’t bothered much in my first high school. Until I started standing up for people who couldn’t stand up for themselves. I don’t regret it, but I wonder if I should have handled it differently.

Whenever I hear a bullying story, I’m reminded of three different specific occasions in which the bullying at my first high school went to an extreme. The first time was the most heartwrenching for me. The next few weren’t as angering but they were still quite bad.

The very first time I witnessed bullying, I had just left my Art class and was headed towards my English class. Our school was separated by buildings and there were these sidewalk pathways leading to the doors of each one, with a sort of metal awning at the top. I had just gotten into the building where my English class was and walked in, when I saw these jocks, and I mean these BIG hulking guys, taunting a guy in a wheelchair. The guy in the wheelchair looked familiar, but since I usually hung out with the grunge and goth crowds, I didn’t know him by name. It did catch my attention that they were taking away his schoolbooks and backpack. It caught my attention that they were taunting a guy with no legs. A nice guy, by all appearances and few interactions with him. What happened next still makes me cry. They flipped his chair forward and threw it aside. In a panic to get away from them, this guy dragged himself by his hands out towards that rough sidewalk right outside, while someone laughing held the door open for him. The sidewalk scraped what was left of his legs and the entirety of his hands and arms, I later found out. The thing that to this day frustrates me, is that I let my rage take over. I was only like 5’2″ at the time and wasn’t fit, but when my anger took over, it raged out of control, and all I remember is repeatedly punching and clawing at some of these guys. I broke one of their noses. I only saw blood and kept wanting to hit him more. I wanted him to feel like everyone who had ever been hurt felt. Victimized. To this day, I wish I’d chosen to grab the wheelchair, find the hurt guy, and help HIM. I wish I had bothered to find out his name and be his friend instead of pummeling his enemies. Why? Because those jackasses, those assholes, wouldn’t remember any “lesson” I thought I was teaching them, but this guy might have remembered the kindness, and may have had just a little easier time in high school if I’d been wise enough to be a friend instead of a vigilante with a chip on her shoulder. The thing I regret most, is never finding out his name, never talking to him (because I didn’t see him again), and never extending a hand.

The second time, this sweet girl who I was sort of friends with was sobbing and came to me to tell me that the guy she had been dating told everyone he had slept with her and that she had an STD (which he hadn’t and she didn’t) to get back at her for not putting out. A ton of guys and even some girls were really laying into her, verbally abusing her, humiliating her. What made it worse was that she was this super quiet girl who never messed with anyone, and the people who were supposedly her friends weren’t even comforting her or sticking up for her. So I found the guy. He happened to be by a locker near mine. I asked him his side of the story and when he laughed and said she deserved it, I threw him against the locker and held him against it and made him confess the truth. Probably not so bad, until he told me that he’d do it again, in which case… well, I had a pair of jeans that I called my nosebleed jeans for a reason. I used to introduce my knee to peoples faces if they weren’t exactly kind. It’d be almost funny to joke that I was on a first name basis with some of my teachers and the principal of the school, except that it’s true, and it wasn’t as fun as it sounds. If it hadn’t of been for most of my grades, I probably would have been gone from the school long before that. Either way, the only thing that I really regret about that situation is that instead of helping her figure out how to stand up for herself in a way that worked for her and helped her take control of her own life, I took matters into my own hands and instead solved a temporary problem instead of helping her gain permanent strength.

As for the third time… well, I had a guy friend who was extremely effeminate and was always getting teased by the hicks in our school for being gay. He was this fluffy lovable guy who was way taller than me and was kinda chubby, but healthy for the most part and really kind at heart. On this day, I had the awesome idea to wear a really elaborate black dress, and went full on goth mode. It was great. I felt right in my own skin. These guys decided to shove my friend around a bit in front of me, calling him every unimaginative gay slur you can imagine. It was actually kind of pathetic considering our really great English program at that school. So I intervened, because my buddy was a more gentle and patient person than I was. Problem is, fighting anyone while wearing a dress is really messy, in spite of what they show you on tv. They slammed me against a vending machine and upon seeing a temporary tattoo I had above my breast area and near my shoulder, they decided to rip my top. Yep, right in the middle of the lunch area, they ripped my top and of course, most of my guy friends from English as a Second Language (which I had been in for 8th grade and 9th due to some messed up bigotry on behalf of our wonderful educators) got really mad and started over, which led to the hicks backing down, but not before making it clear they wouldn’t forget my “bravery”. That was when I learned that at times, throwing a fist is not as beneficial as using your wit. Had I not thrown a punch, and instead used some sarcasm, confused them a little bit, maybe made them feel a little dumb, they wouldn’t have ripped my top, hit me back, or later on caused problems for my Hispanic schoolmates (although that last one may have happened anyway. We will never know.). Point is, there’s always a bigger picture and a different alternative. There’s also a lot of different consequences.

While I know I’ve mentioned a lot of things I regret about how I handled those situations, I can certainly say one thing that I am never going to regret. I don’t regret that I stepped in. I don’t regret that I had good intentions. I don’t regret that I didn’t stay silent while someone else got hurt. I know a lot of people who regret standing by, though. I know many who still beat themselves up for not stepping up and helping someone who was on the verge of breaking. Those people who regret those things, sometimes can’t go back to say they’re sorry. Not even if they tried. Sometimes, when we don’t step in, the people getting hurt will do anything to stop that hurt, and that anything might just be the worst permanent thing you could never hope for.

In the end, consider your options, but most importantly, always ask yourself “What outcome can I live with for the rest of my life?” and base your choice on that. Can you really live, knowing you may have turned a blind eye to someone at the end of their rope?

I couldn’t.

Nerding out when I’m sick is the best comfort I can have.

I am not a very graceful sick person. I mean, I don’t throw temper tantrums or anything like that, but I do get all frumpy and kind of bask in having to stay in bed or at least out of the prying eyes of neighbors and townfolk.  I get bored easily though. I’m used to keeping myself occupied while I’m sick, so to not have the freedom to do whatever I want to do when I am, is frustrating to say the least. I have found my sick-niche though.

I love watching animes and K-dramas when I’m feeling all sorts of icky and gross. As long as I’ve got some meds in me, a pot of tea, and animu, I’m generally a happy camper. I watched all of the Sailor Moon series when I was sick once. All of it back to back, and then went to school and work. Because in my more youthful days, I could do that without feeling the repercussions of it. Now, though, it’s not as hectic and so I take the time to rest up.

I do have a few things I like to do to keep myself from going batshit crazy when I’m sick.

 

1. Watch anime: Nana, Paradise Kiss, basically anything Ai Yazawa has created will put me in a happy mood when I’m feeling my worst. I do watch others, like Noein, and a lot of indepth animes about human nature, etc. I like things that have conflict/resolutions and ample storylines to keep me wanting to know more.

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2. A huge pot of David’s Tea ‘Organic Cold 911‘ tea, which has a bunch of really great smelling and great tasting herbs that help soothe me during a bad cold.

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3. Play non-combat video games. Okay, to some, this may not make sense, but I prefer video games where I go at my own pace, when I’m sick. I like MMO’s just fine, but I encounter a problem where I don’t have the energy to predict what someone elses move, screw ups, or gripe is going to be. Also, when I’m sick, I have very little patience for gamer drama, and end up logging off and possibly not coming back for weeks or months. To avoid all that, I prefer to play games like Recettear or Tropico when I feel sick. Sometimes, I throw in some Sims 3 because I might need to do something a little different. But ultimately, my being sick = me time.

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recettear

There are a few more things, but they’re pretty obvious. In case they aren’t, here it goes: Never underestimate the power of a nice hot bath or shower. It can be revitalizing.  Warm soup with lots of nutrients can give you enough energy to face the day if you don’t have the option to miss out on work or something important. Hydrate. Hydrate a lot. Drink so much water that you feel like a fish. Just don’t drink like 15 glasses in under an hour. It’s called being healthy, not neurotic.

  And with that, I must conclude my post because my tea is getting cold and I think I hear Tropico calling my name.