This is No Air Castle

luchtkasteel

 

I’m beginning to put together the logistical pieces for my graphic design firm, and in all the immense excitement, there’s a little kernel of fear too.  However, this is no castle in the air I’m building here.  The Fraud Police get no niche carved out for them.

Its early stages yet, but when I’m closer to the launch, I’ll share.  I promise.

‘Til next time,

Jessica


A Hiding Place

abditory

 

 

I need a place to hide today.  I didn’t have something quite as sophisticated as an abditory in mind though.  If you want to find me, I’ll be in my pillow fort coloring.

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Inspired

Foo FightersI recently gained access to HBO programming…brace yourselves. My first discovery? Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways. I’m completely addicted. If Dave Grohl didn’t already have “rock god” status, he attained it when he broke his leg during a show and still finished it…then created a Foo Fighters guitar version of the Iron Throne (Two guesses what I discovered next). Watching the Foo Fighters national tour of these music-rich cities to record their album inspires me to do…stuff.

The premise for the show intrigued me from the beginning. The idea that the albums released from artists are influenced by the city in which they’re recorded is interesting. I mean, no artist creates in a vacuum, right?  Our perceptions are constantly being filtered through all this…stuff, and the stuff we’re surrounded with just gets bigger and bigger when you throw in the Internet and social media. So in the midst of this barrage of stimuli, how much does the energy of a place even register?

Touring the country to create an album and pay homage to the musical history and traditions of the cities without losing the quintessential quality that makes them the Foo Fighters is a tricky thing.  There’s a fine line to walk, and they’ve done it well.  Lyrically, they reference the rich history of their locale and, they keep the sound their own.  You can still hear the influence of all the music they’ve been listening to in order to get ready for their arrival in each song

Before the Chicago episode, if you’d told me Cheap Trick was influenced by the blues…well, I don’t know if I’d believed you. Now, I can hear it in Rick Nielson’s guitar. I can hear the DC punk scene in The Beastie Boys and know they’d listened to Bad Brains, and it opens up a new level to the music I already loved. davegrohl

Watching the stories of the founding of Dischord Records, Inner Ear Studio, Rancho de la Luna, Steve Albini’s philosophy, and more…it is inspiring.  You do what you think is right. If you love it, and no one will help you get there…do it yourself. Keep true to your vision. Do what you love.

How could I not be inspired? As the credits were rolling on the DC episode, I grabbed my guitar…struggled through some truly awful sounding chord progressions (which I KNOW will never get better unless I practice), because I was inspired to create, to make something. After my hands got tired, and my lack of calluses made my fingertips scream, I got down to writing this. Maybe I struggle sometimes with balancing responsibility with the stuff I love, but if I stay inspired, or hell just open to inspiration, and climb out of the depths every time I get bogged down…shit gets done.

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Rat Queens

Rat Queens

I looovvveee this comic book.  It features a mercenary team comprised of four women.  Sassy, opinionated, hard partying, ass-kicking women who are heroes when necessary…or when they feel like it…or when the pay is good enough.

Betty, Dee, Hannah & Violet make me the laugh-out-loud-while-reading kind of happy.  The Rat Queens by Kurtis J Wiebe & Roc Upchurch is well crafted and endlessly entertaining.  I went back to it for a reference while writing this and ended up reading most of “Volume One: Sass and Sorcery” again. Fine, I read all of it and started in on Volume Two before remembering adult responsibilities.  In the meantime, I forgot what I’d gone back to look for in the first place. (See, my previous post about my my newly discovered tactic for staying on purpose.)

Wiebe and Upchurch just kept layering on the good stuff with this one.  Well-crafted characters are always a soft spot of mine. Give them a great story arc and I’m an immediate fan.  Allow those characters to break stereotypical molds, and I’m hooked.  Toss in a fun read and a great sense of humor, I’ll never stop reading.  I felt like I should be able to include something that wasn’t positively glowing, but even on a second read through, it didn’t happen. (That’s my reason for reading it again!  I knew I could find one.)

Did anybody ever watch the Saturday morning cartoon Dungeons & Dragons? I did.  I only got to watch a few episodes, because of…well, its a long story (or at least one that has nothing to do with comic books, see look at me, staying on track), but this feels just a touch like that.  It carries the qualities that made me look forward to cartoons.  Maybe I’m feeling a touch nostalgic, because I’m not saying I watched cartoons where I could actually see entrails of disemboweled enemies…yeah, did I mention this book is not for the kiddies?  (No, seriously.)  Foul mouthed, funny, recreational drug using, brave, sexy, violent characters in a story in which all of the above takes place…it is great, just NOT for children.

Volume 3 came out on April 19th, and I’ve been looking forward to it for months.  I have no idea how I missed it when I was at the comic book store.  Does that mean I get to go back?  Hooray!

‘Til next time,
Jessica

P.S.  Wait, you say?  Didn’t she just post that she liked individual issues because of her over scheduled lifestyle?  I did, dear friends, but I’m also just particular enough that I need a matching set. Also, I will set aside the time to read this one cover to cover, adult responsibilities be damned…in theory anyway.


Fairies and Other Good Stuff

Fairies and Fireflies Michelle Torrez

Fairies and Fireflies by Michelle Torrez

When I was a little girl, my Grandma Joye and I would sit on the front porch of her Craftsman style house and make up stories about fairies together.  Under the sweeping mimosa trees, we’d build fairy houses of twigs, shells from fallen nuts and acorns, bark, moss, grass and flowers to make sure the fairies would stop at her house for the night.  We chased fireflies and marveled at the flowers on her four o’clocks.

One of my cherished possessions is a handwritten copy of her poem Fairies and Other Good Stuff written in a blue ballpoint pen with drawings of fairies all over it.  On the days I miss her the most, I pull it out and think of those warm summer nights on the porch swing surrounded by fire-blinks and fairies.

When everyone is out of sight,

Or sound asleep, I stay at night

And think about some special tot,

Remembering things we liked a lot.

And in my thoughts again we’re found

Out on the porch swing or uptown

Where at the park, through nook and cranny,

You lead a huffing-puffity Granny!

Some busy folks don’t understand

About the good things right at hand

To please a child to sight or touch –

And please a Grandma twice as much.

They’re funny when they make a fuss

And call our best fun ludicrous

(Ludicrous means strange, you see,

Which can’t apply to you and me!)

For we are serious when we think

Of Penny Peacock, a fire-blink,

Or Rosie Rabbit’s powers to keep

The children safe in a forest deep.

They shouldn’t scoff for we are sure

That fairies are and always were,

(A few of us, if the time we took,

Could show them where, if they’d really look!)

In the evening late when the sun is set

And all the dark has not come yet,

While grass is warm before the dew,

There’s a fairy place I’ve shown to you,

Where little fire-flies wink and blink –

You think they’re here and then they wink

Away off in another place,

Or sometimes right up in your face!

Then in a circle, sparkling bright,

Fairy wings light up the night,

They turn and swirl and fly so free

In a rainbow dance for you and me!

On tiny, silky wings they glide

First all alone, then side by side

Around the fairy-queen, who’ll swish

A magic wand for a rainbow wish.

It’s sad that some folks never see

The beauty shown to you and me

So we’ll just soak it up and then

Shine it back out all over them!!

-Joye Kanelakos

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Simplify Your Style

Have you ever heard of Saul Bass?  Even if you don’t know the name, you’re probably familiar with his work.  Some of the most recognizable logos in the world were created by his hand, United Airlines, Girl Scouts, United Way, and that doesn’t even touch on his film work.  Psycho, Spartacus, Exodus name a few of of the films he designed for.  The power in Bass’s work comes, in large part, from its simplicity.  His ability to take a big concept and condense it into a few lines is magnificent, and this is my first tiny step toward being able to do the same kind of thing.

renoir reading womanThe reading woman, by Renoir, captured my imagination from the first moment I saw it.  Loose brush strokes and intricate walls seemed like the perfect image to simplify.  The challenge would be to capture the energy and vitality of someone engrossed in their reading, at rest yet engaged.

Simplifying the lines of her shirt, skirt, the chair, the background, all that would be simple, but without the right amount of detail, my image would fall flat.  After a few false starts, I discovered that utilizing the correct details is the most important aspect of successfully taking a beautiful masterpiece and keeping heart and soul of it intact while removing a lot of the fine details.

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.34.58 AMUsing, a digital image of the Renoir as a reference, I sketched out my concept by hand and then drew my simplified version in Adobe Illustrator. A few touches of gradients in place of the highly intricate wallpaper in the original served to spotlight her sillouettte.  I also shifted the overall color tone to something a little cooler.  As the variances in color were removed, I discovered that my piece required more color contrast to keep it from becoming a warm toned blob.  I’m really happy with the final product, and I hope Renoir would be too.

What do you think?

‘Til next time,

Jessica

 

 

 


Ah, Sweet Geekery

Friends, I’ve been reading.  Before, this blog would have been filled with reviews of novels, but quite frankly, I don’t have time for that.  It took me a month to read The Shining, and that can only partly be blamed on needing to read during the daylight hours.  I get caught up in books so much I don’t even see chapter breaks most of the time, and before I know it I’m behind on…whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing.

Comic books have proven to be the perfect form of entertainment.  Highly entertaining, action packed, engaging stories and each issue is the perfect length for a short break between…schoolwork, my job, the house, whatever.  I used to advocate the trades because I read through individual issues too fast and became too impatient for the next issue to be released.  Especially, when I often couldn’t find the next issue in my local shops.

Oh, how little did I know!  My over scheduled day loves the individual issues, and I discovered this weekend that Mammoth Comics will order the ones I need, if they can. I get the feeling this is something pretty common and I should have known. (Kind of like that football thing…nevermind. Just forget I mentioned football.) Oh, happy day!  Didn’t think I could get any geekier?  Neither did I.  The funny part is, I’m ridiculously excited by this.  My impatience hasn’t lessened, but I don’t feel the panicky need to buy all the issues at once, just in case I can’t find them later…much.

I’ve written before about how much I enjoy Brian K Vaugh’s Saga.  (Volume 6 is due out soon!)  I also went to the experts at Wizard World’s Comic Con in Tulsa in October to ask for some recommendations.  Thanks to those excellent recommendations, a little venturing out on my own (mostly because I liked the pretty pictures), and a couple of gifts from a friend, and my knowledge is growing.  I still feel like a novice, but I no longer feel like I’m lost in the woods.

‘Til next time,

Jessica

P.S. I’ll be posting some reviews soon.  I promise!

P.P.S. Those individual issues, I’m keeping them in a magazine box-thing that is now full. Any storage suggestions?


Stories & Symbols

oriflamm

I’m a big fan of stories.  Aren’t we all? One of my classes called on us to create a symbol for a story.  We got to choose from a list of about 30 or so stories, all of which were well-known (to me at least).  As usual, my issue stemmed from having too many favorites.  I never can pick just one. I spent three days creating Mad Hatter top hats for Alice in Wonderland before realizing, they were just hats. Beautiful hats, but no one would have any idea which story I referenced when they looked at them.  Technically, I fulfilled the requirement of the assignment, but not the spirit of it.

I did the assignment again.  Yep, that’s right.  I did it again.  Now, I can’t claim my symbol is an oriflamme, but maybe the story it represents does?

RobinHood6

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Don’t Get Too Excited, Oh Who’re We Kidding

Sherlock Season 4 is filming! I know, I know.  You’ve seen Setlock pictures online.  You’ve seen Gatiss teasing us. (Did you expect him to resist?)

Now, I don’t have cable anymore, BBC doesn’t have a streaming service, and I’m not willing to wait until long after the internet has spoiled all the good stuff before I watch it.  I must discover a way to watch it as soon as it is released.  Fortunately, I have some time to figure this one out.  Fortunately?  Who am I kidding.  The Christmas Special just whetted or appetites.  I need more Sherlock!

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Hooked by Dragons…Again

game-of-thronesDid you ever want dragons to be real?  Just a little?  I did…well, do, mostly.  Practicality aside, it would be really great.  I’ve watched three seasons of Game of Thrones in like a week, mostly because of dragons.  Ridiculous, I know.  It’s made for an intense background as I worked on photo projects for class (which turned out really well, and I promise to share later).  Okay, I knew it was good.  I mean, I’d read the first two books on my Nook before I realized I do much better with paper novels than with e-books.  However, I quickly became addicted.

Really, I liked it just fine until the dragons.  A little to rapey for my taste though. (Seriously, can we go an entire season without someone getting raped or castrated?)  However, once the dragons hatched, it hooked me.

I’ve always had a soft spot for dragons.  I read Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series voraciously when I was young, and they’ve lived in my imagination ever since.  There’ve been other movies and television shows with good dragons, but none came near enough to what I imagined those dragons of Pern might be like.  So far, Game of Thrones fits.  Now, I’m mid fourth season, and they could ruin it all yet. (if they do, I’m not sure I want to know, to be honest).

I’ve survived losing all my initially favorite characters.  Despised characters who became new favorites, and then died.  Other unfavored characters are now cautiously enjoyed with an eye to Martin’s tendency to use murder to further his plot.  (Not a bad move, but a painful one.)  What will this get me?  Caught up.

I don’t think I’ll like being caught up.  I’ll have to wait for a new show once a week.  That will be rather painful.  On the other hand, my house will be cleaner, and I’ll make more art.  Hmmm…

Despite all the rape, murder and pillaging, this is a stunning production. Gorgeous sweeping landscapes, intricate well-detailed costumes, rich swelling music, and characters that are complex, interesting, and disturbingly prone to murder, lies, and sundry other sins.  That’s what makes them so fascinating.  Now excuse me, there’s a trial by combat coming up I need to watch.  For you, you get to watch the season 6 trailer.

‘Til next time,

Jessica