Yesterday, my family and I decorated our front yard for Halloween. We went for a skeleton/zombie grave yard theme. For my mother who is slightly morbid, having a fondness for ghouls, ghosts, and other spooky things that go bump in the night, Halloween is her favorite holiday and time of the year. (Even more so than Christmas!) We planted fake grave stones with ghouls and skeletons poking out from behind them hung monster bats in our giant pine tree. Where I live, not many people decorate for Halloween, (it probably has something to do with living in a community that consists of all old people.)Lately, the air has begun to feel more and more like autumn. I live in a desert climate, so when ever the temperature start to drop below 90 degrees fahrenheit, there's usually great rejoicing. To celebrate the more hospitable weather, I bought myself a brand new bike complete with a basket, bell, and even a pin wheel to whirl in the wind. The last time I really rode a bike was when I was in middle school, so needless to say, I am more than a bit out of biking shape. This couldn't have been more apparent, then the day I bought the bike and had to figure out how to get it home. I drive a small car (rising gas prices two years go forced me to part with my wonderful yet gas glutton pickup truck), and so I got my mom to take her car since it's larger. Well...her car may be bigger, but it still wasn't big enough. After probably a good half hour of turning the bike this way and that in attempt to get it to fit, I finally just threw my hands up and decided to ride it home. The store wasn't that far to drive to, so I figured it wouldn't be that bad of a bike ride home, after all, I can job a lot farther than that. Boy, was I wrong! The distance between my house and the bike store is about five miles...UP HILL. And, as I found out, the muscles used to bike are not the same as running. I used muscles I didn't even know I had! About half way home, I ended up throwing up my hands to that and walking the bike home. (I am now convinced up hills are the eternal enemy of the bike rider.) Even after all that, I am loving the bike. With all things, it will just take a bit of practice to get better and build strength.I just recently finished a new commission! This one was a Star Wars theme collage. If the requestor is happy with the drawing, it should then become a tattoo. I'm excited for her to see it. The was another "outside my box" commission. I don't normally draw things as technical as star ships and robots. despite not being my favorite subject matter, I love these kinds of requests all the same. I believe it is important to step out side your comfort zone and expand your horizons. These type of requests help me grow as an artist is a way I wouldn't be able to do on my own accord.
This week was such an amazing week for me as an artist. I was able to kick it off right by finishing a commission of a dead tree. The commission was for a piece of art work big enough to be displayed in a home that made reference to a photo provided by the client. The photo, I was asked to reference from, was a close up of the tree with the branches and trunk all out of frame. My client wished to have the drawing expand on the branch and trunk from the photo, giving me free range to create a whole tree from just the small piece in the photo. Knowing that she was planning to display the finished drawing as wall art in her new home left me MEGA-nervous! On top of the bit of knowledge there was also the fact that I have never actually drawn something like this, ever! Similar to the saying "the journey of a thousands miles begins with one step", a master piece must begin with a single stroke. Yet, this one stroke is always the hardest part for me. So many negative and doubtful things run through my mind as a try to put pencil to paper. Luckily, however, I rarely back down from a challenge when I'm scared, and a soon as I start, all the doubt and bad thoughts fade away. That isn't to say I'm always happy with the first draft, either. In fact, I drew and re-drew this particular tree about four or five times before I stopped myself. I say "stopped" because that's literally what I did. I had to take a step back as tell myself, "If you keep re-doing it, you'll never get it done. Make THIS one WORK!" Ahh, I, the eternal perfectionist. lolNext was the process of fine tuning the sketch with shading and details. I had to make sure to always be conscious of the light source and to keep my hands off the paper as much as possible since I was using pencils. (I ended up turning clean cotton socks in to gloves to keep the paper oil free.)At the risk of sounding silly, I best describe this part as "magical". It's like the drawing just draws itself. While I'm sure below the surface my brain is running a mile a minute directing my hand and processing the information my eyes are gathering, above the surface I feel as calm as can be. My mind becomes a blank (not even thoughts about techniques float by in there) and it's just me and the drawing in front of me existing in solace. Then, poof! the drawing is done and reality floods back into me and there in front of me, as if by magic, is a completed work. Seeing my client accept the drawing was amazing. Anyone could see from her face, she was really pleased with it. That kind of expression is always worth any hardship or struggle that happens to befall a project. Even better, I found out later that the tree from the reference photo wasn't just any ol' tree, but one from her father's ranch. With the ranch's future ownership in uncertainty, the drawing I did gained a lot of sentimental value. Hearing stories like this, where I can bring a little bit of joy to the world with my art, truly brings joy to my heart. AND if that wasn't enough! ...I also found out that a commission I did almost two years ago ended up as ink on human skin! Yup, a tattoo! This client wished to get inked in memory of her late sister. She gave me the Columbia/Tristar logo and asked for a flying horse like the one in the picture. While, you may being thinking, "but all you had to do was copy a photo" it wasn't that easy. I had to make the drawing simple enough to be a black and white tattoo while still keeping it from looking like a page from a colouring book. Even the simplest sounding things can become difficult when put into practice. The end result came out really great though, and just this week she paid me a visit to show me the actual tattoo. I'm sure my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw it. I was utterly speechless! For someone to use my art for such a heartfelt sentiment and for something so permanent, was truly humbling for me. I will always be grateful for her to have given me the opportunity.With a week as action packed as this one, it's no wonder I slept until noon (despite going to bed fairly early the night before)! My first weekend day off from the day job, however, there is no time for relaxing just yet. Just as Gwen Stefani sings in the song Luxurious, gotta "work so hard every night and day" to "get the pay back". :]