A March Celebration

Today’s post is an update of my art, writing, and life. It’s an echo of my Art-Writing-Life blog, of a time when my art and writing took equal priority. But when I semi-retired from making art, I had more time to write, so my posts reflected the change.

Today’s update reflects another change.

Since my stomach surgery in 2020, I haven’t been able to sit for long. This has decreased the time I can spend writing or creating art. Pre-surgery, I allotted myself six to eight hours to complete a project. I’d sit for three hours before needing to take a break to refuel on food and drink and to exercise. Now I can sit for a half-hour at most before I must break. That’s a lot of breaks. And I think any artist or writer will understand me when I say, “That’s too many interruptions.” Making art and writing takes intense concentration. Interruptions often kill my concentration and take my mind away from the creative process. So, when I return to my work in a state of “out of the zone,” I find ten to fifteen minutes of meditation helps to bring me back to that zone.

Also, this new way of working has altered my creative style. I no longer concentrate on finishing a drawing or painting in one sitting. I simply let ideas form and see what develops while I follow along. I’m sure there’s a label for this way of creating art, but I’ve never been a stickler for labeling things. It’s simply a new and fun way of drawing and painting for me.

Below is a photo of a recent “drawing” of an abandoned country-style building. I was in a “Let’s draw an old, haunted house type building” mood when I started, so I thought of nighttime, stormy sky, European architecture, and isolation while I quickly and loosely sketched with charcoal and graphite. I added black watercolor paint to it during another quick sitting, then some splashes of white paint during another. Finally, I added washes of gray to add depth.

Spooky House sketch

It’s far from finished, but it’s reminiscent of other artwork I’ve done during longer sittings, specifically the barn painting below. The unfinished piece gives me ideas for future endeavors in art AND writing.

Barn Watercolor on paper

Being unable to sit for long has affected my reading schedule, influencing me to choose short stories over novels. I even dug out my old books of cartoons, including Peanuts, (pre-political) Doonesbury, Calvin and Hobbes, and Matt Groening’s Life In Hell series. I spent December and January reading again my four volumes of Mad, delighting in the magazine’s best of the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. February found me with my collection of cartoons history that had me laughing at plenty of comic strip humor over the ages—some of those old jokes are timeless and relevant today.

This post also marks a well-deserved break from writing Book 3 in the Green Crystal series. The book needs several more tweaks to get the kinks out, but I need to step away from it for a week or two to clear my head. Also, this old house needs some spring cleaning, so I’m preparing for that endeavor when the warmer weather of April and May settles on this neck of the woods. That means less writing and art, and shorter and fewer blogs during those months, but that’s life.

And speaking of life, I’m aiming at getting more physically active when Mother Nature decides to stop dumping snow outside my abode. Two outdoor exercises I’m looking forward to are biking and swimming. And just the idea of sunny days ahead has me smiling a lot.

Life is more than keeping the body fit, so I’m looking forward to browsing bookstores for the kind of literature that will exercise the brain when summer is over and Mother Nature reduces my outdoor activities to ridding snow from my walkways, driveway, and car. When I’m stuck indoors keeping warm and fed, I enjoy reading intelligent literature, which stimulates my creative muscle, which further aids me with developing sound ideas for my art and writing.

So, there you have it: Parts of my 2022 agenda and my pre-celebration of the summer to come.

Thanks for joining me. Peace and love, everybody, especially in these chaotic times.

Another Year

Another December 31st, another year is ending. Here, in my cozy corner of our big planet, I’m ready with the new calendar going up on the wall to replace the old one now marked with appointments met (and some not met).

As I write this, my mind reflects on the past. It seems as if every year goes past us in such a hurry, which suggests a poem I wrote when I was a youngster at college. It’s more of a lyric than a poem because I structured it around a tune playing in my head at the time. I often wrote poetry that way and could have been a musician if I’d have pursued it. But making art was more important at the time, so…

The poem is called A Day Song.

Our eyes are fixing on the time
On moving hands and sacred signs
And chimes that ring the end of day.

Our minds are wanting time to slow
To have it stop and never go
To celebrate the day that stays.

Our time comes ’round in furrowed lines
In yellowed books and cellar wines
And bells that ring the end of day.

Our hearts are wanting time to slow
To have it stop and never go
To celebrate an endless day.

Old lips are thirsting springtime rain
To feel alive and young again
To taste the times we loved so well.

Our eyes are sad to see time go
To watch it run and always flow
To watch it pass and never dwell.

The end of every year stirs memories of accomplishments and failures. It’s what we do, then make resolutions to do better, accomplish more. While I write this, my mind reflects on my accomplishments and failures of 2021. My biggest failure was not blogging regularly.

I continued writing and stayed serious with my writing goals this year, though I did not post anything here during January. Thus, the month is a big goose egg in my blogging score.

In February, I posted two old Louie & Bruce comic strips from 1982 and received an achievement award from WordPress for blogging with them for ten years. I posted the news and earned a 3 for my score of posts for the year.

I scored a 2 in March for posting two more old Louie & Bruce strip from 1982, and a 1 in April for posting an apple orchard painting and the poem it inspired from 2006.

A Brief Pause in an Apple Orchard
A Brief Pause in an Apple Orchard, Oil Painting

I had nothing in May, which was a busy month of writing my books, designing book covers, replacing my old laptop with a new one, and learning some new writing and art apps that I put on it.

July was a busy blogging month, which I scored a 5 for posting more writing news, as well as reposting a poem about U.S. government’s calamities and a reflection of my stomach surgery in 2020.

I scored deuces in August and again in September. The four posts were about my writing and publishing endeavors. You can see several samples of my book cover art in the September posts.

If you’re still with me, October brought 1 post on Halloween (I love Halloween and frankly, the whole month of October) and another art post in November that features both wildlife and book cover art.

Day of the Fairies e-book cover

And now—ta dah! Today’s post scores me a 4 for the month. Three of them were shameless promotions of my e-book “A Night of Hellhounds” at Amazon. During those posts, I got in a serious quandary here at home over why my spellcheckers hyphenate e-book but not email. No one I’ve talked to knows why. If you do, please leave me a comment telling me why.

So, here we are at the end of this post—number 20 and the last one of 2021. Obviously, my goal for 2022 is to post more than twenty times before December 31st comes again. Another goal is to finish more books and to stay healthy. And it’s good health I wish upon you.

Have a wonderful day and (drumroll—the old end-of-year joke is coming) I’ll see you next year.

Getting It Right

I’m a perfectionist, whether I’m writing, creating art, learning how to consistently bat over .300 when playing softball, or being an all-around descent person. I’ve been this way all my adult life, and it was the force behind my determination to be an excellent wildlife artist waaaaaaaaay back in the 1980s. I began painting whitetail deer in the hopes of becoming a magazine and book illustrator, but my deer looked cartoonish (I was a cartoonist at the time!), so I painted hundreds of deer from 1983 to 1987 just to get it right.

Gouache on paper, 1985
Watercolor and acrylic on board, 1987

I’m a perfectionist with my books too, which is why I pulled my Green Crystal series from their Amazon home in 2015. Sometimes an author (and artist) has to say “Good enough” and get on with the next project. But sometimes that decision isn’t “Good enough” after all.

I’ve spent plenty time posting why the Green Crystal books weren’t good enough to stay in circulation, so I won’t repeat all that here. Let me summarize, however, that I’m pleased with what going back to the drawing board with them two years ago and starting anew has brought to light.

Although the first five books of the 8-book series are short stories, I spent a lot of time and TLC on character development that elevated their personalities and made me an acting child psychologist of sorts since my characters are 14 years old. And since they’re part of the overpopulated YA book department, they need to stand up well against their contemporaries.

If all goes as planned, I’ll have the first three books of my Green Crystal series available at the end of the year. I tweaked their covers again, so I’m sharing the art of the first two books—number three is still in progress.

Night of the Hell Hounds ebook cover
Day of the Fairies ebook cover

If I miss the mark on the release date, it’s only because the perfectionist in me found a good reason to hold up the publication. And that reason will be: to get it right.

ASIN: B00B1UOE7S Cover Reveal

I’m putting the finishing touches on the second e-book of the Green Crystal fantasy series, which stars Nick Andrews, a 12-year-old boy whom I featured in my previous post. The book, “Day of the Fairies,” is another short story, and it replaces the following books that I published at Amazon from 2013 to 2016:

Trespassing: The Ridgewood Chronicles, Book 2

and Trespassing: A Vree Erickson Novel

The novel moved to another series of books. (More about that in a future post.) As for the new book, I’m aiming for a Halloween release, so stay tuned for more info.

So, before I run off to put on my editor’s cap, here’s the new cover:

Day of the Fairies: A Ridgewood Chronicles Short Story

Okay, time for me to run. Peace, love, and good health, everyone!