If you can't beat 'em...

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See this image. *points up* This was stolen off my website and altered in photoshop. Someone took the original and wiped out my original text (badly I might add, you can still see some of it if you look closely) and then they put their own quote on the image. This person did not ask my permission, nor did they credit me. This is my original version *points down*.

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Folks - this is obnoxious and wrong. DON’T be like this person. Ask and receive permission before you do anything to someone else’s art, and always credit the artist. 

To add insult to injury this new version of my piece with the sleep blessing is very popular on Facebook and Pinterest right now. It's been shared widely. At last count over 10,000 times on Facebook alone. That's 10,000 people that never got to find out who was the artist who created the piece. Those are potential fans, potential customers and potential infringers. See since there was no credit - all of those sharers are at risk of having their accounts suspended each time I report the infringement. Trust me, I don't want anyone's account suspended, I just don't want my art manipulated without permission and I always want credit where credit is due.

This has been so frustrating! Well today I had an idea. I looked online to find the source of the sleep blessing and everywhere I've looked it's listed as unknown or anonymous or with no credit at all.* Soooo....I've made my own version. I've even added prints to my shop. 

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I think this will be part of my tactics from now on. When I see a copyright infringement of my work, I'll make my own version and share that version as widely as I can. Since I'm working from the original files, since I don't have to crudely photoshop out my own name and watermarks - I figure the finished product will be far superior to whatever the original offender made. 

You can buy prints here.

 

* Believe me...I know. Hypocrisy alert! Just because it's not credited doesn't mean there isn't a poet out there fuming that his/her sleep blessing is being shared without credit all over the 'verse. I tell you this much though, when that poet gets in touch with me, they'll get immediate action from me, an ally in the struggle, and royalties. So *shrug* I'm pretty comfortable with this decision. 

Happy Holidays - Freebies

Over the years I've offered quite a few freebies on my website (and on the GeekMom and Wired websites as well!) This year I've been so swamped with work that I didn't have time to create a new project - so instead I'm compiling a list of my best Holiday freebies here for you. Enjoy!  And please let me know if your family makes any of these crafts. Happy Holidays!

No Soliciting

When you work from home in a busy development that features two schools in the center of it, well you get disturbed a lot. You would not believe the number of solicitations we get a week. You would not believe how many of them are unaccompanied minors who have not been instructed as to what "No Soliciting" means. 

I used to have a polite, elegant and discrete sign that was about two inches high and said "No Soliciting" in a lovely script font.

It wasn't working, so I made a new one. As I created it I requested input and feedback from Facebook friends. Boy did I ever get some feedback! 

Apparently a lot of us could make good use of such a sign. So here it is, 8x10 (prints on 8.5x11 paper) Download, save, print, enjoy. 

I hope it serves you well.

 

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Faux Books & Covers

In the liminal space between wake and sleep and sleep and wake, my mind likes to natter at me. Bits of conversations between characters in the book I'm writing, a pithy turn of phrase or most often - utter nonsense. The nonsense in particular delights me and I'm always sure to finger-punch it into my iPad (bedside table, safely away from the water glass) before I carry on with sleep. 

I've been collecting these little bits. Sometimes they make it into whatever I'm writing. Other times, like today they become book titles. 

I need some amusement today. So I chose a few of the natterings and wrote synopsis for them. Then I made them covers. Here they are.

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In the Shade of Large Nature 

A paper salesman grows disillusioned with his job and the culture of excess. This inspires a year long journey tracing the roots of the paper products he sold - backwards from sheets to tree. METAPHORS. Stint as a lumberjack results in encounter with redwood activists. Moved by their message, intrigued by their spokeswoman he lives with them for a year amongst the trees. Philosophical memoir. HIPPIE SEX.

"If you like zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance you'll love.."

 

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The Knitting is Tangled

A big city lawyer quits her hectic high pressure career to move to the country and run a yarn farm she's inherited from an eccentric aunt. Cast of quirky characters, inevitable competitive knitting scene naturally set up so that the winner saves the farm or something. SHEEP HERDING LOVE INTEREST. YARN BOMBING, TREE WRAPPING. ETSY!!

 

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Hairku 

Hiro is released from prison on his 70th birthday. The only employment he can get is sweeping up hair in a high end salon. The owner recognizes his talent for pruning bonsai and encourages him to translate those skills to hair. He's soon in high demand in a city enamored with all that is cutting edge. Hiro cuts hair all day but never says a word. His hairstyles are the pure expression of his soul. Stylish fashion reporter Mina Yoshikawa thinks he's her next big story, but does she uncover more about his past than she bargained for? (Obviously) OTHERNESS, CLICHES, PROBLEMATIC TONE DEAF TREATMENT OF ANOTHER CULTURE.

 

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Grout Rot

A Washington DC plumber is brought in to help renovate a bathroom in an historic house. He uncovers a national treasure-esque mystery behind the tiles in a shower. REPORTER LOVE INTEREST. FREEMASONS. (DUH) THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE.

 

Grain Free Microwave Chocolate Cake & Icing

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I'm an artist and a writer, but I'm also a foodie - a foodie with restrictions. One of those restrictions is GRAINS. Can't eat 'em. It sucks. I like to cook and I like to experiment so from time to time I also like to share recipes with you. Here's one I made up tonight. It is incredibly rich. I shared it with my daughter and even tho the ramekin we made it in is about 5 inches across and 2 inches deep we only hate about a 3rd of this dessert between the two of us. My husband will have a nice treat waiting for him when he gets home. :) 

Please note this recipe does use eggs and real sugar. I have no restrictions on eggs and I can and do eat real sugar in moderation. (I splurge so rarely I want the real stuff when I do.) You are welcome to substitute and experiment as you like of course, but please don't ask my advice on substitutions. I cannot advise you in that capacity. 

 

Cake: 

1/4 cup almond flour/meal (Honeyville is the finest ground almond flour. Bob's Red Mill is coarser and will result in a different texture. Not bad just different.) 

1 tbsp coconut flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp baking powder

Dash of salt (this cuts the sweet and deepens the flavor of the chocolate) 

1 tbsp vanilla

2 tbsp melted butter

1 egg

1 tbsp water

 

Mix everything together in small bowl or Corning Ware ramekin (that is what we use)

Microwave for 1 min 30 secs (this may vary depending on your micro) 

NOTE: The cake is quite good without icing. So you could skip it. Alternatively you could sprinkle some chocolate chips on top and let them melt. Or if you are feeling frisky you can make the icing below. 

Icing:

1 stick butter room temperature

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tbsp vanilla

Dash of salt

Ideally if you have a Magic Bullet type blender make the icing in that. If not beat it or whip it or mash it together somehow till creamy.  

Smear as much of the icing on the cake as you wish. Freeze the rest.  

 

Please let me know if you make it - and what you think. :) 

 

Friends, Muses & Summaries

Courting the muse.

Courting the muse.

I’ve had several conversations with friends over the past few years about the kinds of stories we like, the kinds of stories we want to read. One friend lamented that she’s often drawn to the proposed story lines of YA fiction but that she wishes these stories were being written “for adults”. The general consensus in the other conversations was the same. While I love magic, fantasy, mystery, romance, angst, and an epic journey resulting in vanquishing of demons both literal and figurative and personal transformation; I’d like to read these kinds of stories with adults in them.

There are some books like this out there. But not nearly enough (please leave your recommendations in the comments)

Personally I’d like to read stories about artistic creative women. I’d like to read romantic stories where the leads don’t lose their identities in each-other the moment they fall in love. AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, I DON’T NEED A BABY MADE IN THE END TO BELIEVE THEIR LOVE IS SPECIAL AND TRUE. I want happy endings that are realistic and not easily won. I’d rather the life issues the characters are dealing with mirror my own, and those I witness my friends struggling with, and not those of a teenager. 

While many teenagers do face intense issues (raises hand. I was one of them) they are not the same as the challenges facing an adult. And when they are similar in nature, they are still so very different. Perspective, it’s a bitch innit? My perspective from the other side of 40 colors what I read. As an adult who’s experienced adult problems like divorce, remarriage, illness, death, financial difficulties, accidents and debilitating depression; I don’t care about Bella, her neglectful parents or her pedo boyfriend.  

What I want to read is fantastical story lines, magical realism, epic journeys and inspiring romance - I want Harry Potter with grownups. I don’t want the heroine to give up her ambitions to mold her life to a male that’s caught her fancy and if she does finally bag him, by god the love scenes better not fade to black. While I want all this, I’d like the story to retain the magic. I’d like it to retain what singer Neko Case calls “That teenage feeling” 

You know that feeling? It’s the one that had you half waiting for a letter from Hogwarts even though it doesn’t exist, you’re 40 and both your parents are hopeless Muggles. It’s the one that has you pushing on the back of your closet wall when you go in for a coat, just in case a door to another world swings open, and Mr. Tumnus is there waiting for you.

I want that feeling in a book with characters I can relate to. I’m hoping to write books like that. (Wish me luck)

The heroine in the story I’m writing at the moment, is very much inspired by the female friends and acquaintances, that collectively I refer to as, “my muses.”

(I’m about to do some shout outs, please don’t be offended if I didn’t mention you, someone always gets forgotten in these things and it sucks. I still love you, you still inspire me.)

I can see her in my minds eye, my character: She’s over 30. (An age range sorely underrepresented in this kind of fiction). She’s spent her life putting her ambitions on hold to take care of other people. She’s getting divorced, her dad is sick. She pours herself into her work. 

I see my friends, my Muses, in her. 

I see her wearing romantic and funky clothes, enhancing her beauty with a love for aesthetics like my friends Virginia Poe and Angela Brenneman. She wears jewelry from Jen Parrish and Jenny Davies-Reazor and like them creates space for herself that is both inspiring and elegant.

Like my friend Adara Bryn she’s graceful and passionate, a brunette with shining brown eyes. She’s spiritual and wise like my friends Lisa Nault and Lisa Steinke. She’s funny and no-nonsense like my friends Yama George and Ash Evans. She’s poetic like my friends Natania Barron and Nimue Brown.

She is a collector of all things brilliant and lovely like my friends Megan Congdon and Stephanie Piña - and like them she shares her finds with the world. She is hardworking and dedicated to her creative pursuits like my friends Meredith Dillman, Teri Rosario and Amy Brown. She’s deeply compassionate and a caretaker like my friends Charity Holly, Jane Starr Weils and Lee Ann Farruga.

I just love her. She’s not perfect, none of us are. But she’s wonderful.

She deserves an adventure - don’t you think?

THE ADVENTURE

I spent far too much time recently writing a summary for my story. It needed to be done, because I needed to do it for my own sake. Once I hacked it out I felt better.

I learned a few things:

A) Summaries can be helpful in defining your story to yourself succinctly. They can help you refine and clarify a complicated plot.

B) Summaries are bullshit that make the nuanced romantic tale you have in your head sound like a cheap hollywood trailer. 

I was seriously tempted to start this damn thing with “IN A WORLD….”

Instead I give you this: 

Tessa Alexander is tired. Tired of the ongoing legal battle with her not quite ex-husband, tired of watching her father’s mind succumb to dementia, and tired of waiting for her life to begin. An art historian and amateur photographer, Tessa runs a small Philadelphia art museum dedicated to the legacy of her father’s body of work. She spends all her time espousing on the creative genius of others, and wonders if time has run out for her own ambitions. It’s a job she used to enjoy, but now on the eve of her 40th birthday she can’t remember the last time she felt excited about, anything. That is until she attends a performance of a newly scored and choreographed ballet based on one of her favorite plays, by long dead Regency era author, Sarah Brighton. A fateful meeting with the composer results in an offer too good to refuse - a year in England spent writing and living in the village that was home to Sarah Brighton and some of the world’s most beloved romantic artists. While her friends insist that a fairytale adventure is exactly what she needs, Tessa knows that at the heart of every story is a mystery, and usually a villain. But that won’t stop her from telling the tale. 

Daniel Brandewyn has devoted his life to just two things; his music and his responsibilities. As a composer he found fame and won accolades he never sought; but music, saved his life. As Earl of Ravenscar, a bucolic village on the Southern coast of England; responsibility, dominates it. The village economy, long reliant on tourism, has been steadily declining since a local tragedy over 25 years ago. Daniel is determined to save the village he loves and his ancestral home along with it. He hopes a year long campaign to promote the history of the arts in Ravenscar, the renovation of a landmark theater, and the revival of an iconic play that he has scored himself will bring life back to Ravenscar. Persuading Tessa Alexander to document his efforts feels like a stroke of inspiration. But Daniel’s learned he cannot always trust inspiration; they’ve met before, and it did not end well.

Ravenscar village is a vortex of imagination. It’s streets seem to murmur in the rain; a tale of artist’s gone before. All of them came to Ravenscar to seek their Muse. Whatever you need to feed your inspiration, your Muse will provide it. If memories torment you, your Muse will steal them. If words are lost to you, your Muse will find them. If skill has left you, your Muse will return it. If ambition taunts you, your Muse will set success at your feet. In Ravenscar Village anything is possible, everything exists. Whatever is required to fuel imagination, the Muses, will supply it. It’s up to humanity to survive it.

 

Til later lovely muses.  

Just for fun - text to speech

Messing around with text to speech apps. The writing is my own.  I think it did a pretty good job. I did have to hyphenate a few words that shouldn't be hyphenated just to get the pronunciation to turn out correctly. But still pretty neato. They have a variety of voices to choose from as well. This one is named Peter - which was my English grandfather's name. So ya know... obvious choice that.

talking widget by Acapela Group

Celtic Goddess Series

I'm at a bit of an impasse. I'm terribly divided and undecided about how to go forward with finishing/painting my Celtic Goddess series. I've designed the first four and begun painting "Celtic Fire - Brigid" digitally. But lately I've been called to get my nails dirty with pigment again. There are pluses and minuses to both, but those options are for me to consider. I curious what YOU think? 

The image below is how far I've gotten digitally with 'Celtic Fire - Brigid'

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Art Share - New Weekly Art Webcast

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ART SHARE - NEW WEEKLY WEBCAST 

LIVE Wednesdays on G+ Hangouts & available archived on YouTube. A panel of professional artists discuss hot topics such as art marketing, social media, creativity, process & the business side of art. Tune in and ask a question at www.art-share.org

 

Please help us promote the show by sharing the image across your social networks. Thanks! 

Update - What I'm working on....

THIS IS INSPIRED BY MY FAVORITE PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST EVER. THIS ONE OF ALEXANDER CALDER. I SHARED THAT PIC OF CALDER ON FACEBOOK AND FRIEND AND FELLOW ARTIST AMY BROWN DARED ME TO DO MY OWN. SO HERE YOU GO AMY. :)

THIS IS INSPIRED BY MY FAVORITE PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST EVER. THIS ONE OF ALEXANDER CALDER. I SHARED THAT PIC OF CALDER ON FACEBOOK AND FRIEND AND FELLOW ARTIST AMY BROWN DARED ME TO DO MY OWN. SO HERE YOU GO AMY. :)

I've got so many draft blogs living in my head. Tons of stuff I want to share and talk about with you guys. UGH, but only so many hours in the day. Good news is these days you can catch up with me on a weekly webcast I've started doing called Art Share. Myself and some fellow artists and creative people get together every Wednesday at 11:00 CST to talk about Art and Creative stuff. So far the focus has been on visual art and specifically topics regarding the career of a typical "working" artist. You can submit questions to me at the website if you like. And if you can't watch live - don't worry all the episodes are on my Youtube channel.

 

I'm still working on the illustrations for The Raven. I've gotten so many questions about this and it makes me super happy because it means you guys are interested. THANK YOU! :) The thing is that The Raven project is a project I proposed to publisher Candlemark & Gleam - Kate the publisher liked the idea, and we agreed to do it. There isn't any sort of deadline or publishing date being imposed by Kate. It's kind of up to me. It's been about a year since I proposed the idea to her. Then due to other projects I wasn't able to get started for a while. Now I've started. I'm working hard, things are going well but The Raven is just one thing on my plate right now. Don't worry - I hope to have it finished and ready for Kate's magic publishing stuff this fall. Thanks for your patience!

 

The biggest project I'm working on right now is my writing. I have some stories I've been wanting to share for a while. I suppose we can go ahead and use that word - NOVEL. I've been working my ass off for the past 2 years to learn, grow, practice and clear my schedule so that my focus can be on getting these stories out into the world. I'm still making visual art - but yeah, if you follow my FB or Twitter these days you'll see me talking about writing a whole heck of lot. It's exciting!

Here's a piece of writing from the story I'm working on. It's from a letter written by a character named Sarah who lived during the Regency period in England. She's writing to the "one that got away." 

I think the Orientalists have the right of it. I want to believe as they do; that if love is true, belief is strong, and determination all the stronger, we might will ourselves to live forever.

I imagine my soul turned gypsy moth,  wandering the darkness in search of the bright star that will begin my destiny anew. This is my fondest wish, that you and I might meet again. Perhaps in some other time, in different forms, we might find our affinity less objectionable to the hands that wield our fate.

 

Midnight Musings

This thing I'm writing - This "book".... The beginning is, naturally, important. I've struggled with where exactly and how exactly to begin. I had the gist of a beginning but I did not have anything precise. I've struggled with the tone. 

Two nights ago I woke up in the middle of the night and emailed this to myself from the iPad I keep on my nightstand. (I've gotten adept at typing on that blasted touch screen. Nimble fingers, I haz them.)

This is UNEDITED so please be aware of that.  

It needs polish that's for sure. But so far, I feel it's a good start at the mood I'm trying to establish and the voice which as a writer I've been waiting to kick in. Yeah, progress is a good thing.

WORDS: 

 There was a raven staring at him from the rafters of the theater, it wore a waistcoat. A green waistcoat with shiny brass buttons. He couldn't, at this distance, see for a fact that the buttons were shiny and brass, but he knew the light that had caught him in the eye had been reflected from that bird, and he knew the bird well enough to know that if the waistcoat was green, only brass buttons would do. The bird was vain.

Daniel Finley abhorred vanity. Three things were learned of him when he was introduced to someone new. Beauty, title and talent. Those were his commodities, the quantifiable limits of his value. None of these things had been accomplished by his actions or earned thru his merit, they were accidents of birth, and they utterly ruled his life. To take undue pride in any of them would be a conceit beyond tolerance, and so he took pride in nothing.

Unlike that raven. The vain raven in the green waistcoat with shiny brass buttons was now strutting across the the rafters behind the proscenium as if it were directing the production currently in rehearsal below. The raven stopped when it saw Daniel looking up again. It fluttered it's wings impatiently at him, and Daniel inclined his head slightly in a soft nod. "I see you found me first." he thought. "After this is over we will meet...wait outside" He projected his answer to the creature mentally, hoping that little trick still worked and the bird would understand. It did. The raven nodded its head with the spastic grace particular to his kind, turned, and flew thru the brick wall at the back of the stage. His  form disappeared with an implosion of color as it met the brick. Daniel had always imagined this disappearing display should be accompanied by a popping noise, or some other sound effect to give the gesture more drama. But in his experience it never made any sound at all.

Which was good because the the dramatic popping sound made by a disappearing raven in a waistcoat in a theater full of quietly waiting dancers was not something likely to have gone unobserved. There was a lot of quiet. Daniel turned his head and saw the entire company staring at him. He had ceased his playing of the piano when he'd spotted the bird, and from the quizzical expressions turned on him now he concluded he'd ceased playing rather abruptly. He hadn't noticed. The choreographer cleared her throat, her annoyance plain in the tone and Daniel saw his manager and best friend Charles walking towards him with a familiar look of exasperation.

 

Free Regency Desktop Wallpaper

Because I feel like I'm neglecting you all if I don't regularly shower you with freebies and new art - I'm sharing with you today this desktop wallpaper I made myself. It's an alteration I did of a painting by Michel Martin Drolling called Portrait of an Artist (1819). 

When I saw this painting it immediately struck me as an almost perfect portrait of a character in the novel I'm writing. He doesn't have a name yet actually, but I know him so well. To fuel my imagination I played with Drolling's painting and tweaked it towards an even better likeness of the image I have in my head. At some point I plan on repainting it completely in a total likeness of my character. In the meantime I made my adaptation into a desktop wallpaper. It sits on my computer and inspires me every day. Here I share it with you. 

Grain Free Bread & Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I've been gluten free for a few years now, and it's been a good thing. But persisting health problems have led me to understand that my life should probably be completely grain free from here on out. For the most part I tolerate this pretty well. I'm a good cook and I enjoy experimenting so I don't generally feel too deprived. Except once a month. Once a month I turn into a carb monster and all I want is a plate of pasta, a loaf of bread, a triple layer chocolate cake and plate full of cookies. It's terrible. So I've been on the hunt to find the best recipes for Grain Free bread and Grain Free chocolate chip cookies. I've done a lot of experimenting and trying out different recipes and last night I believe I've found the two most promising and tasty recipes so far. I'll share them here with you and if you make these recipes please share with me your process, any substitutions and your results. I'd like to write about this for GeekMom and it would be great to have some additional voices regarding the recipes.

Sadly my base requirement with Grain Free recipes is that they "not be disgusting". I consider it a bonus if they are actually tasty. These recipes are both, in my opinion - delicious.

The Bread recipe is this one, from Against All Grain. It  uses whipped egg whites for lift and cashew butter for substance. I don't like cashews but I do like this bread. The flavor is a mild to moderate nut flavor. Plain, it has a nice texture. Toasted it's very nice. The tooth feel is nothing like a good sourdough, but is as close to traditional bread as any grain free bread I've ever made. It is similar to an artisan style "cake-bread", and as toast would be a slightly fragile, but fantastic vehicle for both sweet and savory toppings. 

This Chocolate Chip cookie recipe is from Wicked Good Kitchen. My cookies didn't seem to cook up the same way as those in the photo on WGK's website. But they are delicious. Next time I'll play with times a little and see what I can come up with. The cookies are fab however and even the dough - the DOUGH - was scrumptious. 

Creative Downtime

Teal Tudor - a house I built on an island I built in Virtual World Kitely. Stop by!

Teal Tudor - a house I built on an island I built in Virtual World Kitely. Stop by!

I think a big challenge for creative people - especially those that are full time professionals is that our hobby - is our passion - is our work. So when you need a break from your work and wish to pursue a hobby for some downtime, your options are limited. It's rather difficult to take a break from painting by - well, painting. At the moment my professional time is dominated by the illustrations for The Raven - and it's a challenging project.

I find that with challenging projects I need a little more downtime than usual. I need the relief of doing something else with my hands and my eyes and my brain, a distraction that allows my brain to run the "program" of the project that's challenging me in the background. I work so much better this way. Whatever project I'm working on will swirl around in the background of my subconscious while I play videos games, do dishes or my favorite distraction, creating content for 3D virtual worlds. 

As an artist I get such a thrill out of creating 3 dimensional interactive environments entirely of my own imagining. It's an incredible experience to be able to walk your avatar thru a world you dreamt up, built from scratch, textured and painted entirely with your own hand. After 8 years I'm pretty quick at the whole process from concept to completion when it comes to creating in a Virtual Environment. (The image you see above took probably 8 hours broken up into chunks over several days.) The best part is that everything I make for virtual worlds I do eventually sell or use elements of the project in other aspects of my professional life. So while it's "fun" I don't feel guilty that I'm goofing off.  

And it's just really fun! For me, creating in virtual worlds is like coloring, or playing with blocks or clay. It's just pure creative enjoyment - no pressure. Figuring out how to build a house I've got in my head is like solving a fascinating puzzle. And then once that part is finished, I get to "paint" the whole thing with textures and accessorize it with trees and plant life.

I used to create and sell quite a lot of this "goofing off" content in Second Life. I've recently moved from Second Life to Kitely however and I'm enjoying all the freedom I have in that environment. The house in the photo above is on an island I own in Kitely called Brythony Market. It's open to the public so you can go and check out the house yourself if you wish

My plan is that over time I'll have quite a lot of houses and content available for sale on there. All the happy result of some creative downtime.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on creative downtime, do you have something specific you do when you need to unwind?

Tea and Conversation

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I'm currently writing several books at once. (It's okay, don't be worried for me. They all know each other, and have a lot in common.) I've accepted the fact that whether painting or writing, my natural state is to work on many things at the same time. I'm happiest and most creative when overwhelmed with inspiration.

Fortunately all the stories I'm writing take place in the same "world". Working on one story feeds and informs another.  A thread begun in this story, gets picked up in that one, and braided with another thread over in that story right there. (No no, not there - a little to the left - there.)

I'm anxious to share some of this world with you. I've struggled with exactly how to do this. I'm not ready to share bits of chapters with you. We aren't there yet. But I do want to share something. I'm used to just posting an image of my latest painting and letting the art speak for itself. But with writing, well it's a bit different isn't it?

So I'll just write, if you don't mind, like we are sitting here over a cup of tea and you've asked me about what I'm writing and I've said "Oh it's complicated, god I don't even know where to begin...um let me see. This is great tea by the way." And you thank me for the compliment on the tea since you brought it over (thank you) and you wait patiently for me to gather my thoughts together, settle back into your seat cushion and I begin like this:

"The world I'm writing about is familiar to me. It's the world I've lived in my whole life, inside my head. Its the story place I've gone to while bored with school, or sitting in traffic, or lying awake with insomnia. It's the story world I've been sharing for years with my art, without being fully cognizant of it. This world is living myth. It's our world, but with an undercurrent. It's recognizing the magic amidst the mundane. It's that prickle you get up the back of your neck when you are taking a short walk in the city, just to do some errands, and you realize that the wind is a little eerie today, and the leaves are swirling around your feet as if trying to get your attention. Its that feeling that even though it seems like you are just walking on a Tuesday, to pick up your dry cleaning, at any moment a Raven might approach you with a message from another plane. You're needed! There is another world hidden behind this thin grey film of ordinary life and you are a creature of that realm! Wake Up!

The stewards of my stories are the Muses and their world. The protagonists of these stories are artists and creative people of all kinds.

See, I want to read about artists. I want to read about jewelers and painters, potters and doll makers, writers, chefs, vintners, dancers, herbalists, poets, musicians - all of them. These are the people that inspire me. And while I'm inspired by the famous creatives of our times, I find I'm even more inspired by the forgotten artists, the almosts, the what ifs. The model that inspired the painter who was herself a talented artist. The unsung genius who died too young. The housewife who wrote the most heartbreaking music that no one ever heard. The accomplished winemaker who gave up a promising career as a painter to take over his family's business and ensure it's future.

The stories I'm writing are about these artists and their relationships and influence on each other - family, friends and total strangers - over centuries. Each story is a vignette with a thread that gets drawn into the next.

Beyond this, these artists I'm writing about - they experience the Muse in the same way I do in real life. My Muses are daemons. Fairy, angel and ancient god all rolled into one. They are wholly mystical and very real to me."

"Okay" you say. "I'm not sure I follow you...."

"Look, Harry Potter for grown ups. Except my stories have artists and creative people, instead of wizards. Muses are real and they interfere with you and talk to you and sometimes they are a help and sometimes they just mess stuff up. And there are these places, these magical towns where creative people have been drawn over the centuries and they just vibrate with that energy. And the Muses are stronger there. Oh and there are these relics, like objects that belonged to artists that are now dead, and they are infused with their essence and this can have an effect on people who use the objects."

"Oh like artifacts! Like Warehouse 13!" you say.

I glare at you. "Yeah I guess kind of like that but I thought of this before that show was even on. I mean it's not like a wholly original idea on either of our parts really." Grumble Grumble.

"That is a good show though right?" you say.

I agree and we fist bump. ("Artie!")

"Okay so you've told me about this world." You say. "What is the first story you are writing that is set in this world? What is it about?"

"Oh I'm so glad you asked." and then I smile and have another sip of tea. 

To be continued.....

Jane Austen & Nikola Tesla

So about a year ago I made this Nikola Tesla image and it's been one of my best selling shirts EVER.

tesla.jpg

Tragically today I was a total twit and accidentally deleted it. Of course I re-uploaded it immediately but now the buying link for it has changed, which means all over the internet where this has been shared the link is now busted. (HERE'S THE NEW LINK IF YOU WANT TO BUY THE NIKOLA TESLA SHIRT OR HOODIE) It means all the lovely reviews and comments it got are now gone. I suck. I was sad. 

To relieve my sadness I made this new design - Jane Austen!!! (HERE'S THE LINK FOR THE JANE AUSTEN SHIRT OR HOODIE IF YOU WANT TO BUY ONE)

Jane-Austen-shirt.jpg

All these shirts come in just about any size or color you want. You can also get hoodies. I'm thinking of making more shirts along these lines. If you have a suggestion of an awesome dead person you'd like me to do then let me know. Yes I'll probably do a POE one.

Artistic Serendipity or Clearing the Path


Energy, science tells us, follows the path of least resistance. All things moving through a system choose the path of fewest obstacles.* Water flowing down a hillside. Sand through your fingers.  A landslide.


In my artistic life, I've found that I'm happiest when I not only remember this principle, but when I apply it resolutely.

The most magical projects, the endeavors that set my soul alight are the ones where every moment visiting with my Muse is one of revelation, utter joy, or transformation. Threads of inspiration connect and a tapestry of intention is woven with seemingly little effort. Suddenly the world is full of signs, all in support of my quest. Friends share links that are shockingly connected to my current work. Books are published that support a hypothesis, or are the perfect research tool for a character I'm creating. I discover new music that is the restorative for my creative psyche. These are moments when I feel like the universe is holding my hand, leading me down an ancient path, showing me the footprints of all the others that walked this way before me.

You don't have to be mystical to experience this. It's nothing supernatural. It's only magic. Whether the universe has truly risen in support of your work or whether you simply feel that way because you have risen in support of yourself - whether these are signs from your Muse or whether you are only recognizing them as such because you are in the throes of neurochemical love with your own art; it doesn't matter.

It's beautiful.

But when we are resisting, it's all a bit different.

My foray into writing has been a completely new path for me. This strange environment is humbling. I've sat in the dark with a tangle of words and a chord of a story thrumming in my chest, with no clue how to string it into song.


Creating this way is agony. Nothing goes right, the work is joyless and insecurity rampant. This is not to say that just because something is hard that it isn't worth doing. Not at all. But in my case, when something is too hard, when a project I've been in love with turns to maggots in my hands, I have to examine why. More often than not it's because I'm just not listening to the Muse.


The agony only stopped for me when I finally remembered to stop resisting. The truth is that I don't have to have a clue how to do this. That's the Muse's job. My job is to clear the path. I'm not the energy. I am not the inspiration. I'm the system. And it's my job to not throw up obstacles.


The energy, the spark of inspiration, all of it will flow through when it's ready, when the path is clear.

Clearing the path is the challenge.

For years I've been writing a big story, what I refer to as THE STORY, in my mind. It's huge, there are parenthetical tales inside of parenthetical tales. It's a ridiculous project for a first book.

Which is why it won't be my first. <<--- a fact that came as something of a surprise to me.

See the idea that THE STORY had to be written first, that was the first obstacle I threw up for my Muse. I'm a web weaver when it comes to inspiration, but I'm very linear and full of self imposed rules when it comes to production. "This was the story I'd been working on longest" I thought "It gets written first and that's all there is to it. All other inspiration gets it's mouth duct taped shut and stuffed in a box."

Yeah right. While I was littering our path with boxes stuffed with muffled inspiration, my Muse was behind me, releasing the contents and laughing at me.

I was blind sided with a new story months ago. It was partly inspired by my life long obsession with all things Jane Austen and the recent 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride & Prejudice. I didn't see what the heck this new story had to do with anything I was already writing. I didn't want to move outside of the world I was building. I told my Muse that parts of this story were sort of well, embarrassingly hokey. WTF a magic pen? I wasn't sure where she was going with all this.

She rolled her eyes at me and told me the rest of the story.

I was hooked.

I stopped resisting. I stopped throwing obstacles into the path.


The world opened up. The heavens parted, the angels wept. Serendipity.  

Suddenly its seems like almost everything new I encounter is shown to me by the Muse in support of my work. Whether it's magic, or just my subconscious rallying in support of myself, it doesn't matter. This is how I know that I'm clearing the path, that I'm on the right track.



*Well except for those Parkour folks

Rules Destroy Art

I've made you a pretty little graphic this morning.

I was thinking about the various projects on my plate right now. I'm illustrating The Raven, working on my own book project and it's various side efforts and I always have a dozen or so other paintings hanging around on my  to do list (celtic stuff, goddesses).

At the moment I'm struggling with a decision to completely rethink my illustration style for The Raven. I like where it's going now, I'm happy, but I'm nervous....does it break the rules? Whose rules? Who cares? See, I tend to get caught up in "rules" a lot. They are self imposed rules really, brought on by stiff too-linear thinking or by my (often erroneous) perceptions of what the world outside my "art head" wants or needs or will "tolerate".

Rules destroy art.