Blame Venus.

UGGGGGGHHHH!

I feel like there’s something there, but I don’t know what it is. This strange energy. It resembles frustration, yearning, a touch of self pity. Humph. I don’t know what it wants.

It wants something though, always wants something. What more can it want? I’m living healthy in a good place. I’m following my calling, hot on its tracks. If I had a hundred thousand dollars, cash, stuffed under my mattress and in hidden in tube socks, I wouldn’t be living any differently. So what do you want???

Some form of self expression? Don’t give me that artist crap.

Then what is this formless burning desire? It has no object, it only wants. It wants to shatter into a billion pieces and dust the landscape. It wants to impregnate the unwilling and clone itself endlessly. It wants to stare at the sun and renounce its name. It wants loving fingers run through its hair; it wants you to leave in the morning. It wants more metaphors, and of a better quality.

Life. Fucking life. Fucking goddamn motherfuckin’ wonderful life.

Recent Drawings

Here are some drawings I culled from a recent sketchbook. As you can see, I like to draw in many different styles and sometimes get frustrated not knowing which one to pursue and develop further. Some say that not keeping with a single style is a liability, while others say it’s an asset. Somedays I feel like I’m having an identity crisis, other days, glad to have such diversity. I don’t know what to believe, but I enjoy exploring different styles and hope that each will somehow lend itself to the whole, or perhaps one day meld into a single super-style. Is there one or the other you prefer?

My go-to cartoony characters.
Was developing a one-eyed creature until I realized it looks too much like the Simpson's aliens.
Exaggerated proportions.
A basketball player with slightly more realistic features.
More realistic.
Stylistic villian.
Fun Mr. Flying Head
"Hey! Get back here!!!"

False Starts and Dead Ends

Perhaps I was too eager to board this digital bandwagon. Early experimentation with the iPad and eBook building software led me to make two declarations, which I now wish to retract.

1) “I’m entering the InteractBuilder competition to make an interactive children’s book by September 18th.”

After using their software, I’ve decided to not enter this contest. Though they’ve billed InteractBuilder as version 1.0 and ready for public consumption, I find it buggy, not user friendly, and lacking many features. Learning their software requires a programmer’s mind, and for me, really sucks the fun out of making children’s books. In addition, any eBooks made with InteractBuilder can only be sold through their App, which currently has a rather low user rating, and may prove unpopular.

Competing software, which looks like a dream in comparison, is scheduled to be released shortly. Check out these exciting options, Moglue and Demibooks Composer:

2) “I may start creating my art digitally.”

Okay, so I illustrated the first few pages of a book using my iPad. I thought they were good and sent them to my partner for feedback. After a rather tepid response, I was able to pry the truth out of her. About the iPad art she said, “It lacks a certain kind of Dallion-ness.” And I can see what she means. Compare these two drawings:


I don’t know what it is, but one of these is me, and the other isn’t. Compare the character above with the characters in my online portfolio. It’s like he’s too slick or something. My art isn’t slick. My art is skewed and immediate and full of mistakes. The undo button allows me to get it too “perfect” (whatever that is), and somehow sucks the life, or at least the Dallion-ness out of it. Think I’ll stick with my old friends, pen, paper, and watercolor for now.

Trial and error. The destination hasn’t changed, just the method to get there.

SCBWI… Conference… Yadda, yadda… whatever.

So the big Austin SCBWI conference was this weekend, and man did it suck. Not the conference itself – it was fine – but my experience of the conference, for which I had very high expectations. Let’s go back a moment and revisit last year. 2010. My first professional conference. I walk in scared, timid, and green as the grass which waves in spring. My “portfolio” was scant, I had no expectations. About mid-day one of the guest speakers, Mr. Mark McVeigh (an agent in New York with extensive publishing experience), approches me and compliments my work. We briefly chat and he hands me his card. “Holy horse turds,” I thought, “I’ve been discovered my very first try!”

The encounter was ultimately fruitless (for reasons I won’t go into), but nonetheless had been tremendously encouraging, and perhaps set me up to expect a certain level or recognition at these events. This weekend that recognition did not come; I was not appreciated by industry professionals, nor did I win 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place in the portfolio contest. Overall I was disappointed since I feel my work has improved enormously over the past year.

But this is just my injured ego talking, and that’s okay – I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t exist. I’m gonna whine and sulk and throw my spaghetti at the wall. After that, I’m going to blog about all the GOOD which came from this conference, from which I did learn a lot. So stay tuned.

“Blue Period”
Unappreciated portfolio piece, consequently how I feel. 

The Late Harvest

Been working like a dog lately… 12 hour days are becoming the norm. I’m probably too tired to write a coherent blog post, but I’ll give it a shot.

Work has been coming in two forms: unpaid community volunteer work and very well paid work. I guess the two achieve some kind of taoist, universal balance? The karma of selfless good deeds has wrought personal abundance? Beats me… all I know is I’m too exausted to draw comparisons, make decent metaphors, or spell.
Yeah. So on Sunday (the big 10-10-10), a woman in the community organized a very successful event (in collaboration with 350.org) in which people came out and helped clear the hike & bike trail along Takilma Road. My day was spent reclaiming swaths of the trail from overgrown blackberry and ceanothus, throwing the cuttings into a large trailer, and taking it to the goats. Imagine if a big dumb baboon brought you your favorite food on a silver platter all day long. That’s what it was like being a goat on Sunday.

On Monday, a bunch of us volunteers went gleaning at a local farm. We combed through a gigantic mono-cultured corn field, and left with a few truck-beds of very nice corn which we distributed to food banks, charities, and schools. It was neat driving around delivering corn we harvested. I felt like Santa Clause.

Gleaning: Hard on the back!
Then today (and for the forseeable future), I did extremely boring and monotonus work for ridiculous sums of money. Actually, it’s not so ridiculous if you think about it… nobody is gonna do this type of work for less than $20/hr, really. Unless you live in another country or came here from another country. It’s soul sucking work and no self respectin’ American should have to do it! It’s work that transforms you from a living, breathing, possibly interesting human being —> into an automoton.
Yes, but most of us learn that survival is toil sooner or later. I keep reminding myself that I’m putting in my toil now, rather than later. If I work enough in the next few weeks, I’ll have my rent covered in Austin for a long time. I may not even have to get a job when I get back. I keep thinking about how nice that’ll be. Keep thinking how much time it’ll allow me to work on my art. It’s what keeps me going.
But man! I need a friend who’s into massage! My neck and shoulders are like rocks! I would give anything for a 30 minute massage: cash, cooking, cleaning, foot rubs, sexual favors, whatever you want!

Dear Mr. Landlord,

For us, a 12 month lease is preferable – but I’m not sure how much we’re willing to move on rent.

You must remember that the exact reason we stay here and tolerate the poor condition of the house is because of the affordable rent. The house is full of struggling artists and musicians who would prefer to pay less rent than live in nicer conditions. I think you’d have a hard time renting it to anyone else without doing some major renovations.

For one, not only is the foundation uneven (giving the floors a slight slant), but also there are literal holes in the floor (especially in the bathroom and kitchen) and cracks around the baseboards which allow all types of insects access to the house – especially cockroaches, which kinda freak me out. We’re also visited from above by some kind of rodents living in the attic. It could be rats or even squirrels or possums that have found a hole in the roof. I don’t know, but they sound big as they scurry around up there.

Also, the house is not energy efficient, and with 5 rooms needing 5 air conditioners and 5 furnaces, our utility bills are ridiculously high in the summer and winter.

Finally, I’d ask you to consider how despite the condition of the house, as long as I’ve lived here we haven’t asked you for a single thing. We battle the pests as well as we can and we even do our own repairs, going as far as calling our own plumber and replacing a broken fridge.

All this said, I also understand that housing prices have risen in Austin, and don’t expect that we should immune. If it means you’ll sign another 12 month lease, I’ll offer $1375/mo, up from $1250. If not, I’d prefer to rent on a month-to-month basis.

Sincerely,
Dallion