Surrealism is the new Real

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Achievement Unlocked: Decade

               I was sitting around with my Waterloo friends last night having a good time singing and talking about the myriad of things that come to mind late at night (sans alcohol, since I had to drive home, though most of the others were pretty tipsy). One of the things that came up was the stories behind the drawings I do. I learned a few things, that I had not known previously, and got better explanations for other things, like subtleties that I had not picked up on. (Subtleties are in Italics.)

                Why My Art Hanging in the Bathroom is a Compliment:
                Several years ago my friends picked up on the idea of caricatures for gifts for each other for birthdays. Strictly birthdays - Christmas, and other holidays don’t apply. Ian was the first to receive one, and had adored it, either due to the sheer number of inside jokes worked into the scene, or the fact that he’s slightly vain and totally enjoyed having a unique image of himself as a pirate. Either way, it was promptly hung in the powder room adjoining the kitchen. 

                What I didn’t know was that sparked an argument between Ian, (Captain Salty, of the Lost Trousers), and the mastermind Gin. Gin pointed out that I was likely to be upset that my hard work had been hung in the bathroom, while Ian pointed out that to him it was a place of honour. The argument was short-lived since I was due to arrive any time, and the other party guests needed tending to as well. 

                I arrived at the house and predictably used the powder room after a few drinks. I saw the drawing and I admit, I was somewhat disappointed – I had hoped at very least for a hallway. When I finished I found Gin in the kitchen and made a verbal note of my disappointment. Ian and I had never been close friends, but I admit to having hoped it might have been at least a “little” important to him. 

                Gin was (of course) horrified that I felt that way and proceeded to explain Ian’s actual reasoning for the placement. Since she had only just had the exact same conversation with him. To him it was a place of honour. It meant that he would look at it at least four or five times a day, and then be able to step to the right and see himself again in the mirror. Since it had not occurred to the women (since we don’t pee facing the toilet normally) that this placement would be ideal. He wanted to see it, and often, so he put it in a place he would never miss it. 

                Last night, Ian re-iterated his choice, though his currently hangs on the living room wall with Gin's caricature, the latest in the series. Luke pointed out that it was awesome in the bathroom, however the sight of Kujo (Ian’s cat) being tied to the prow as the figurehead of the pirate ship looking pissed off always made him giggle which made it harder to aim while answering the call of nature, it's really better this way. Note to the boys out there – I understand it’s a place of honour now, however, if you want to be kind to the women and germophobes who might be using that room… place something less funny on the wall so your aim is true. (And for the record, Kujo is almost always pissy, and no cats were actually soaked in the making of this caricature.)

                Achievement Unlocked: Decade
The subject of Gin’s son Kael, who will be 10 in March, came up. I was boggled and very amused by his concept of how caricatures work. The system we use for determining whom gets the next caricature (which is mainly who’s birthday is up next?) was a mystery to him, so he had somehow come up with his own system. Apparently, Kael believes that when you accomplish something big, you get your caricature done by Desiree. He couldn’t say what the achievement was, just that you had to do something special or accomplish something to earn it. Surviving to your next birthday is really the only real requirement, (or so it’s been for the adults) and it’s flattering and endearing to think that this nearly-10-year-old has decided that it’s important.
Since his 10th is coming up in March, and they had brought up the subject about having his caricature done, I have lots of time to prepare for it. It WILL include the words “achievement unlocked: Decade” on it, for the video game crazy boy who thinks my retired dad is amazing for having beaten Skyrim twice. What else will be in the image? We’re working on it – the boy really does have terrific parents, who encourage him to find new hobbies, go fishing, and learn as much as possible, which means he does *everything* a child can do, which means there’s a large amount of subject matter from to which to choose.

Edit, March 31, 2013: Kael's birthday arrived, and here's the finished result.
   Kaelwas happy to get his "Decade Unlocked" caricature, and I think mostly impressed because he's riding a shark with his dog going along for the ride. Family unit is now also complete with 1 caricature per person.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Muses: Human, and otherwise.

    It's hard to find a good Muse these days. They tend to be fickle.
    It's not that I have a lack of ideas (I have sketchbooks *full* to the brim of ideas of things I will eventually have time to paint or create) but occasionally people need or want things that result in me needing to find new ideas. My inhuman Muses tend to be things having to do with water. Several years ago I invested in a set of the children's shower soap crayons, since ideas tend to hit me while I'm showering, and if I don't write it down on the stile walls, I will be distracted by dog or human when leaving the bathroom, and risk forgetting the idea. I keep desktop fountains in my office, and run them when I'm feeling creative. I occasionally pop by Niagara Falls, just to hear the constant thunder of millions of gallons of water flowing over a cliff, (which is by the way, truly awesome in all senses of the word) and I have fantastic ideas while I'm there.
    As far as the human Muses go... they're a whole other bundle of fun. I have a few I have named My Muses, as they tend to be the ones I spend a lot of time with either talking or socializing, and it's when we're talking that the creative juices start to flow. There's a group in Waterloo Ontario that tend to have that effect, though it happens more often after beer and vodka have been introduced. More than once I've walked away kicking myself for not having a digital recorder on me during the discussion.
   Once of the difficult things I find in art is when someone I don't know tickles my Muse. It's hard to walk up to someone with a face full of character and say "I want to draw you", since I imagine it can either be very flattering, or sound VERY creepy. I have the advantage of being a harmless looking woman, so I can push that line a little bit, but I'm aware some folks tend to find it creepy regardless.
     Recently I had someone ask me if listening to his music compositions would inspire or speak to me. I had to tell him honestly, no. Music rarely speaks to me in a way that I can translate into a visual image. There are a few pieces, but normally that's not where my inspiration comes from, and I almost feel like a freak among artists in that regard. Music will tickle my musicality, and I certainly can appreciate everything from an Aria to death metal/celtic fusion, I'm just not generally inclined to draw based on it. I'm more inclined to sing in that case. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Silly Geek Hobby.

We all have our hobbies. Being an artist, I'm entitled to all kinds of weird hobbies, though I do limit it to things not in danger of getting me arrested, sick, or maimed. One of my personal hobbies (within the realm of fandom) is getting autographed pictures of my favourite icons and actors. Not just any pictures: Portraits. It's something unique for me. And no, they aren't something I resell. They're MINE.

Most recently I was fortunate enough to be able to make it to Toronto to see the Bloggess, aka Jenny Lawson, in person. I have only recently started reading her blog (maybe 6 months ago) and already I'm in love with her writing, and her book. So I did a drawing of her, and asked her to sign it.

The Bloggess, Pencil (c) 2012 Desiree

Her reaction was mainly silence for a good 30 seconds. Some famous folks have seen other portraits (I'm sure I'm not the only geek that does this) and had fairly neutral reactions. Jenny seemed stunned and genuinely touched by the art. Once her voice returned she asked for a copy, which I promptly emailed tonight. It's now safely tucked away with Linda Hamilton and Wil Wheaton. When I have a house with lots of walls, I'll be framing them all and putting them up so I can say "I totally met all these people and enjoyed it  because Iiiiii'm a geek." 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Random Zombies and Shaking with Emotion

It's been a good weekend for art-related shenanigans. And one of the better birthday celebrations I've had in a while. (No, I'm not telling you how old I am. That would be telling.)


The first incident involved zombies. My friend Smash and I were out shopping, and on our way back to her Jeep, we ran across a van that had several bumper stickers that made us giggle. Besides the zombie flavoured family member decals on the back windshield as is the modern trend, they had such bumper stickers as "You're my friend, but if we're running from zombies, I'm totally tripping you." We giggled, and moved on. When we got to the Jeep the idea formed that we should leave a note to let them know how much we appreciated their geekery.

I took out some paper (never without the sketchbook) and proceeded to draw little zombies versions of myself and Ash as zombies with the phrase "Sorry we missed you, eat you later!" over the cartoons. We tucked it into the windshield of the van, then wrote "BRAINS!" in the dust on the back windshield. Here's hoping that whoever owned the van had a good chuckle when they returned.

Special Requests (*Full story below): 

I also had an advanced request from my father regarding his birthday in just over a month. It seems he liked his garage wall mural so much he wants a continuation of it. Therefore, I'll be doing a Skyrim mural in the next slot. This is the FIRST time he's ever made a request for something. Normally it's "don't get me anything", or the "Oh... it's very nice" response when I do. I think this means I FINALLY WIN at his birthday.

Something Touching: 

I also apparently just made a grown man "shake with emotion". My mother asked me to do a portrait of one of the doctors that goes with her to Honduras to do free medical clinics. He's apparently a terrific person, and she wanted me to make it extra special, so on top of his portrait I added a map of Honduras and a medical cross in the background. It looks pretty cool (photos to come) and I was pretty proud of it. 

Mom received the portrait yesterday, and went by Fabian's office today to present it to him. I know this, because I received a phone call from him shortly after. He told me how wonderful it was, how talented I am, and how he was shaking with emotion. Apparently he was touched beyond what he had thought possible. It was an unexpected phone call for me (considering I've never met the man) but lovely to know that he appreciated the "extra special". 

My mother called me 15 minutes later to tell me she had given him my phone number so he could thank me directly. My response? "Yeah, he beat you to it. He already called..."

*For a bit of context (and a fun art story): 

My dad has never painted the garage. The inside has been the same damaged dry-wall colour since my parents got the house just after I was born, with the occasional addition of spray paint. When I was 6 or 7, Dad repainted the house interior, and allowed my younger brother and I to "help" by finger-painting the garage wall. Years later, the bulbous cat and hand smears are still there. I did some spray art a little earlier in my career as an artist, which he seemed to like, so I decided to try something a little unconventional, and possibly risk the wrath of His Cleanliness. My mother convinced him to leave the house while I was visiting last year, (and he was totally suspicious, because my mother is a terrible liar) and while he was out I proceeded to mask out a hexagonal area on the old garage wall, and spray a mural on the wall. Since my father enjoyed the Fallout video games, I did a mural with that theme. Took me 20 minutes to spray and paint, and another 20 to run to Canadian Tire to replace the black canister that was failing in its air-pressure duties. Upon finishing the last bit, I cleaned up as best I could then raced indoors. 

Dad arrived home, and looked around the house as if expecting a surprise party. I sat innocently on the couch, watching TV and drawing. He calmed down, but noted that there was a faint smell of paint thinner. I pretended not to smell it (since I was permeated with the scent as well) and he began the search that would lead him to the garage. (Since he hadn't gone to put the car in the garage as I had expected, the smell worked just as well for a lure.) He went to the garage and examined the paints and cans of thinner he had for house-painting... missing the mural entirely. He came back in and commented that he thought one of the canisters had leaked, but couldn't find the source of the smell. 

At that point I gave up and went out to the garage with him to show him what I had done. Considering his fastidious ways, I half-expected him to be upset that I had spray-painted within the walls of the house, despite being in the garage. The first words out of his mouth were "Wow! Why didn't you do this inside?"

 Fallout Mural, Spray paint & palette knife, 2011

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hijinks Ensue

I have to admit, one of the best parts about being an artist is the "Surprise" factor. It's the doing something special, and making something extraordinary that will not only mean something for the recipient, but will get Oooh and Aaah from the assembled as well. Recently I've been involved in a social club that uses calligraphy and illumination for their awards. Half the time I don't even know the person involved, but it's fun to hear the "Ooooh!" when something is presented.

More recently I've been getting involved in competitions as well. Some just for fun - fan art competitions as hosted by my favourite authors, or designing something that might one day be a mural in a town hall. I'm careful not to get involved in any competition that has "We own anything you send us" in the fine print, and as a result, I'm better about reading fine print. Which seems to surprise people.

ie: John Scalzi'z Redshirts FanArt Competition: 
Edit: I won 2nd Place. WOO HOO! 
I've also recently branched out into leather work as a new medium. (This is where PETA gets uppity at me. My philosophy is if I'm going to eat a tasty steak now and then, the rest of the animal should be used too.) The interesting thing about leathercraft is it's a little more like sculpting which has never been my strong suit. I've worked mainly 2 Dimensionally most of my life, so now branching out into something that is as much a craft as an art form is new, and exciting.