Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Creative Times Summit in NYC. The whole event inspired so many ideas and thoughts that I need time to unpack it all and share. While there I took some time to sketch, and particularly liked one of the things I did. I figured I’d share it by taking it from pencil to color. I’ve been obsessed with handstands of late, and that might be some of the inspiration going on here.
In case you don’t keep up with me on any of the social networks, I had surgery on Sept 4, and I am sort of laid up until my body and I feel up to being up and about. This means I have some time to dig through some pictures I’ve made and color them up and give you some eye candy.
This was a doodle done during our house D&D game. I tend to sit around and draw in between turns. I think of this guy as The Pineapple King. He’s sort of grumpy, has unmanageable hair, and is associated with a fruit whose name makes no sense whatsoever to me. Maybe that’s why he’s grumpy.
I definitely throw the gauntlet if anyone wants to explore this character I would love to draw him in more situations.
There are a couple of other little nuggets of images digging around in my head that i might give some work time this week. Additionally I’ve picked up another Coursera class “Creativity, Innovation, and Change,” and I may turn that into a jumping pad for a mollusk book that has been sitting on the backburner for ages for me (but I have a hefty handful of nice pencil illustrations).
I did not actually make it to Firefly this year. There’s been too much going on, and i seriously just needed time in my own head, and time to spend with my family. I still designed a ticket this year. The design prospectus changed from previous years and I had fun playing with the new size dimension. I also made a conscious decision not to line everything in black, though that is my comfort zone, and I decided to use a lot of color. Essentially this is about as far out of my comfort zone as I could go and still be me. I feel like I learned a lot from it and I had fun with it.
For giggles I’m including the other tickets I’ve done over the years. I’ve been going to the event since 2007, and started participating with ticket art once I knew designs were open to the community.
I’ve been squirreled away under a rock and a marching band and a broken leg this year, but if you manage to run into me, you’d notice that there’s a lot less of me to run into. I’ve been pretty aggressively working out and working on building a better understanding of health and nutrition since the new year. I’ve been trying to avoid the bullshit by seeing a nutritionist, and in terms of the exercise stuff the slow healing process from the broken leg means I can’t overdo it.
Someone asked me this weekend what I’ve been doing. To be fair, I’ve cut back my caloric intake to 1600-1700 calories per day (less when I couldn’t exercise at all), and tried to instill a good balance of foods. This means I stick to lean protein sources (fish, chicken, tofu), red meat only once a week if that, and a huge portion of vegetables. I have to say, this isn’t some crazy diet fad. My overall intake is less than where it should be (my maintenance level is somewhere around 2700 calories/day), but the balance of foods is something I will be practicing for the rest of my life.
Remember the food pyramid? I grew up with that model as my nutritional education as a kid. That model was retired a few years ago as it was seen to give some incorrect emphasis to some foods. It’s been replaced by a plate graphic that shows how much of your plate should be what.
So for my own personal eating practice thus far, fruit is limited to 2-3 servings of fruit per day, and that vegetable portion takes over half the plate. It’s easy for me to remember because it’s very visual, and my 3-4oz meat or tofu or whatever is roughly the same size as half the palm of my hand. I also only have 1 or less servings of dairy per day because I’m not a huge dairy fan, and it’s an easy way to reduce fat intake. I do love really good cheese, but if you saw what one oz of cheese looks like (a “serving”), you’d give up too. If you want some more info and good ideas about meal balance and what a meal might look like, I highly recommend digging around in the USDA’s myplate site because it’s a great resource and can help in terms of building a shopping list and thinking of what a good meal might look like.
The hard part has been falling into line with the grain intake, because rice, bread, potatoes all taste so good to me. Also I’ve been avoiding heavily processed foods like the plague. The hardest parts are these: not mixing beans and tofu (too high in calories and it’s a doubling up on the protein portion of the plate and i hate having less than a half cup of anything), and drinking maybe 3 beers a week. For the most part I skip the beer because I’d rather eat. That is something I never ever thought I’d say in my life.
This has been backed up by working out 5-7 days a week, at first just stationary bike stuff, then adding in weight training, now also adding yoga twice a week, and in June adding belly dance back into the mix. I have become an absolute pro at sweating. I haven’t been this small since I lived in China, which is the last time I actually felt energetic and healthy. Granted, Chinese folks still considered me plump if not downright fat, but more in an admirable way than in a “what a shame” kind of way. Actually my current state would be 健康 (healthy). I suppose that might seem judgemental or terrible, but i really miss a social environment where talking about body shape/composition was not a big deal. It was just factual. Now I get to watch people be preciously awkward trying not to imply that i looked like crap months ago.
Give me the opportunity to geek about something and I will. I am currently taking a coursera class on Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles through Vanderbilt University. I’ve learned that Americans generally think they’re doing better in terms of nutrition than they actually are. Also this is a huge time and socioeconomic issue. Aside from the plate divisions, the other main issue is to eat as many whole foods as possible. This means avoiding the middle of the supermarket as much as possible. This middle of the average supermarket is not very nutrient dense, it’s just calorie dense. There are good choices and options in there, but it takes a good amount of label reading. Maybe I’ll start posting things I’ve learned because all my hours of label reading should not go to waste.
The other problem with packaged foods is that they tend to come with a ton of salt, partly because it tastes good, it helps you want to eat more, and it often helps with preservation. When I was talking to my nutritionist and coming up with frozen meals to stockpile in my office she suggested meals under 500 calories, with less than 10% from fat, and under 500mg salt. I ended up settling on Healthy Choice because I had the most options, but less than half their meals fit my criteria.
It doesn’t help to think about foods as bad, it’s more helpful to think of foods in terms of overall balance. I can have a slice of cake, but it shouldn’t be bigger than my hand, and i certainly shouldn’t precede it with a bowl of potato chips or follow it with 3 beers. If I did, I’d managed to eat my entire daily needs in a 2 hour span, and those calories came with comparatively little nutritional value.
None of this nutritional stuff is set in stone. The more studies are done the more the ideas change. Harvard School of Public Health recommends a different plate than the USDA. I personally think either is pretty great, though it’s mostly a matter of portion. You can still have a plate with way too much food on it and still fit that diagram. I still think folks have to start somewhere. It also takes some work to know what it is to feel full (and it normally doesn’t set in until 5 minutes after you’re done eating). Lack of “conclusive” science is no reason to throw up my hands though. I think being healthy is important, and figuring out what that means for the individual is important.
It’s worth considering what you eat, and what other people eat, and try and try to think about balance. Peter Menzel’s book Hungry Planet is a great visualization guide. Time has a slideshow of some of his photos of families with their week’s intake of food, along with how much it cost.
I didn’t have to go in to work today, but my current WIP should have involved standing outside with an orbital sander, and it just didn’t quite seem the right day for that. Instead I spent the day trying to create a digital image from scratch without using paper. I got to play with a tablet and photoshop and try to make something happen. I give you “bathtime.”
I probably spent a good 4 hours painting a background that I ended up chucking because I just wasn’t happy with it. I’m still struggling with linework that I feel is my own when I work on a computer, but I really like this little one. If you think the snail is cute, it’s based on Polymita which are gorgeous land snails from Cuba. They have huge variety and are just stunning.
Several months ago I joined a gaming campaign and my buddy asked me to make some art to be used in the game. I made more icons than these, but these are the ones i like the most, so I figured I’d share. These were meant for little 1 inch square cards. Some of the subjects were harder than others, but I also got to do a cephalopod, which is always great. I mentioned in the last post that I had to look at a bunch of owls… that was for this image set.
Not the sharpest pieces I’ve ever done, but still a bunch of fun, got the ideas out there, and really fun to see players’ reactions when they received them.
I have a tendency to bring a sketchbook with me everywhere I go, even if it’s only 3″x4″. It gives me something to do when I feel like being antisocial, I can take notes, and I have the ability to draw no matter how cramped quarters are. Back in November at a large Thanksgiving gathering I ended up huddling in a corner on a couch trying to avoid being pegged by flying (sometimes flaming) crayon shrapnel.
Did I mention I spend time with the best people ever?
While huddled on the couch I needed to distract myself from going up for fourths (my stomach already felt like exploding) I drew a little guy who epitomized all the chaos. I’d previously done some icon drawings for a gaming campaign and had looked at a lot of owls, so a frazzled overstuffed little guy is exactly what came to mind.
Tonight I took a scan of that teeny tiny sketch and did a color study on my laptop to see if I have an interest in revisiting this tiny sketch for a larger piece. Sometimes I do this in a sort of “is this worth my time” effort. This is really useful when I have a bunch of blocks of wood sitting around that I’d like to paint, but I don’t want to come up with an idea from scratch, and testing out colors on screen makes the whole process less threatening when i sit down with a brush (and hey, “undo” is a fabulous feature that just doesn’t work for me in the paint world!).
He somehow seems both frazzled and amused to me. Kinda perfect for what was going on at the time.
I am clumsy. I always have been. When I was a kid I used to walk into everything. I tripped over my feet/legs all the time, I fell down stairs, I was a hot mess. At one point my parents sent me to dance school to learn some gracefulness I learned how to dance for 13 years, but also still walk into walls, trip over nothing, and have a certain finesse of a giraffe learning to walk. I generally take my clumsiness and height in stride, but the last several months has been a challenge to any standards I had.
Remember hurricane Sandy? I was stuck in New York during that because the band was scheduled to play a gig over Halloween. The first day we showed up to rehearse (we had to learn some staging and theatrics) we had to move through the space to see where we’d be. If you’ve ever traveled with me on a gig, I have a pretty hefty backpack of an accordion + amp (cumbersome, and probably around 40 lbs). On top of that I had a suitcase, a messenger bag with my laptop, and I had to carry my jacket because i was overheated from lugging heavy things around. We had to walk up and down several flights of stairs. I almost managed to huff and puff my way to where we needed to be, but I am never meant to achieve without earning it. I stepped on my jacket while walking down a flight of stairs.
That’s pretty much how it went, only imagine that at the bottom of the stairs, aside from losing my shoes, my accordion case was actually pinning my head to the ground, and given how I was smushed into the stairs, i had to wave my arm around pathetically for help. I was the reverse of a turtle stuck on its back.
I have to say, much like all of Peanuts, I can tell how good a fall is by whether I’ve lost my shoes (last time I had done this was Dec 2011, again in NY but just walking down the street i somehow ended up supermanning into the pavement). Once I was able to pick myself up I realized I didn’t break my laptop, and I didn’t break my accordion, but I did kinda break my face and left leg, lots of contusions. I am a fan of good bruise pictures, so here are my favorites from 2 days after impact.
I never realized that I could probably pull off yellow eyeshadow. Never a color I would have gone for, but now I know. Mind you, I regularly fall/injure myself, but this is my first black eye. Probably the third time I’ve smacked my head hard enough to need to collect myself. My hip, unfortunately, is still not the same size as the right one.
So I found all this hysterical, on par with going airborne on a flight of stairs my first day of school. Fine. I got some xrays when I got back to Somerville, and xray wise I’m fine.
In December I went in for a physical and the main point was that I need to lose weight. I’d been hearing this for several physicals, but I finally decided to listen and take my dr. up on some nutritionist face time. Woo, getting things done. The next set of news from my Dr. is that i have fibroids and I should get them checked out. Great, sure. Over the course of the next month I learn that my uterus is some giant overgrown frankenstein with growths large enough to obscure seeing the general health of of the whole uterus. It’s 2 times bigger than normal, and didn’t i notice it getting in the way? Didn’t it make me uncomfortable? (not that i noticed?)
My lack of discomfort, and non-desire to have kids means that they are just gonna wait and see how it does. Maybe someday we’ll shoot it with lasers. It’ll be exciting. Lasers up in my business.
In January the sentence fell that I don’t get to eat, and I get to train myself to be a gym rat. I figured why not and jumped in whole hog for 2 months. Then on Feb 20 I had a great experience losing my bike on black ice, and then losing my own balance on black ice. I fractured my fibula on my right leg. I did 3 weeks in a cast, and I’m still living the life of the roboboot. It’s interesting, I’ve started being able to walk on one crutch, and I’m back to doing some stationary bike time to increase mobility in the joint. I had fun in physical therapy feeling absolutely baffled at my inability to pick up a towel with my toes. Every day is new, and every long hobble is a discovery of what muscles are picking up the slack (and complaining later). I kinda feel like the whole thing is a giant experiment that is fun so long as my back doesn’t hurt.
I’m down a bunch of weight so far, and I’ve still managed to rock out on the accordion at band gigs, and schlep around mollusks at work. The biggest challenge is that after moving around I quite literally fall asleep whether i realize it or not. I fell asleep this week with my broken leg in the air tracing the alphabet. This isn’t an easy activity (it’s physical therapy homework), but I just fell asleep. I woke up later with my leg up in the air. I unlocked the “sleep anywhere” achievement when I lived in China, but this is a whole other level. I’ve leveled up!
Anyhow, aside from these little sketches, I have some art that I’m working up that I am pretty excited to get posted. I did a bunch of scanning today and I’ll be rolling stuff out this week.
I’ve been squirreled away working on things and just plain working and not sharing very much here, mostly just keeping up with twitter and facebook because sometimes I’m insular for months at a time.
Fear not, I’ve committed to Somerville Open Studios 2013, and I have a plan for getting some new work out for people to see. More updates and inspiration as they hit me.
I’ve followed a few friends of mine who participate in Illustration Friday, and I’ve always said “I don’t know if i could commit to that.” Really the thing i must be thinking is “I can’t consistently come up with something creative to show to other people.” Performing schedules being what they are, I want to try to do this at least once a month in 2013, so in the end I could at least make a say…. Illustration friday inspirational calendar or something.
This week’s topic is wings, so I took my favorite set of wings and put them down on paper to show the world.
Do not adjust your set, this is a dumbo octopus, or Grimpoteuthis bathynectes, and I did not make it up at all. If you want moving picture inspiration complete with serene music this video is a must. Those fins totally flap like wings down in the deep dark. I personally can easily imagine them flapping around like that in space.
For my next trick i hope to work up a sketch I started at the Out of the Blue Zombie Romance art party this past Monday at All Asia. I’ve got a good sketch going, but it’s going to need a lot of detailing and cleanup before I’m going to show it to anyone.
I have to say that I have a soft spot for reality tv that has to do with *making* things and using some creativity. The Sing Off, Master Chef, Project Runway… and the guilty pleasure of the bunch is So You Think You Can Dance. I can’t explain it, but the athleticism, my own experience with dance, and the real elevation of the choreographer-as-storyteller in the show puts me in awe all the time. I know I’m behind the times and this stuff has all already aired, but I’m savoring it on Hulu, so you’ll have to put up with my delays.
Since my drawing time keeps being widdled away or put on hold by other projects or a booked schedule, I decided that I needed to have *my own* creative output to justify taking the time to watch the show. I’ve decided to do a sketch inspired by my favorite choreography each episode until the end of Season 9. I’m starting with Episode 6 since there’s just too wide a field in the audition episodes.
The dancers this season are just ridiculous. In past seasons there have been participants where I think “I don’t think they’ll go far,” but this season has so much wow factor going on in the top 20 that I am just excited to see where they go, and I know I’ll be sad to see folks leave.
On to Episode 6… this episode introduces the audience to the top 20 who will be competing in the show, and sub-groups of these dancers perform small group choreography. This episode was a toss-up for me. I really connected with the range of motion and utilization of dancer talent in Christopher Scott’s baseball piece. It’s just so jaw dropping and fun, and allows Brandon, Cole, and Cyrus to really show their stuff. Unfortunately I connected with the piece so much because of the movement, and visually I just couldn’t distill that into a picture idea.
The best thing about the piece is it showcases the strength each of the dancers. Still, if we want to talk about strength then I am going to come to my favorite choreography in the show from Sonya Tayeh. My visual cortex is generally weirded out or awed by the stuff that Sonya creates, and it finally dawned on me why I like what she does so much: she plays a lot with physical interaction. It’s not just lifts and dance, it’s throwing, hitting, kicking, and climbing all up and over each other. It embodies some of the things I’ve grown to love from watching so many parter acro routines, but takes it to somewhere deeply musical.
Two of the jazz girls, Audrey and Tiffany lit up the routine. I can’t get over how tiny they are. I just like the interplay of pretty with fierce, and an overall message of “these women are absolute beasts.”
There were so many moments from that routine frozen in my mind that it became a sketch, and then that sketch once scanned had to get colored. It was definitely a fun exercise.
We’ll see if it’s broadway, contemporary, lyrical hip hop, or ballroom that woos me next episode.