Monday, December 26, 2011

“Why, George… you’re worth more dead than alive.”

   Christmas has come and gone, yet the kitchen counter is still full of treat and goodies that friends made and cared to share.  Christmas cookies are my biggest weakness during this time of year.  They're so simple in their construction, yet so incredibly good!  Because of this, I've started my own Christmas tradition, that is to eat them all at once, get 'em out of sight, so I won't be tempted later.  Another tradition is to watch  "It's a Wonderful Life".  Why I only watch this during the final days leading up to Christmas is still a mystery.  For the longest time I saw myself as George Bailey, a man who had planned his whole life out, yet was continually thrown roadblocks that kept him from pursuing his dreams.  As the world and all those around him, seemed to move ahead, he was stuck in Bedford Falls.  As the movie goes and with the help of Mr. Potter, he comes to the conclusion, that maybe he's worth more dead than alive.  More times than I care to remember, I've felt this exact way.  I too was lost in my own little Bedford Falls.  All the while not realizing that I WAS moving forward, that I DO make a difference, and that within me laid dormant the potential for something good.

   Now that I've been deemed "an artist", I was commissioned to do 3 drawings as xmas gifts, as well as edit a music video.  Hard work, yes, especially the video, but I managed to complete them all with absolutely no time to spare. In fact, the video was edited and uploaded to youtube late on it's Christmas Eve deadline.  I'm not complaining mind you.  I absolutely love the creativity!  But then on December 25th something strange happened, I had my "Zuzu's petals" moment.  I heard how the video and the drawings were received..., the recipients wept, they actually wept.  Wow!  How could my work have such a reaction on others?  I was just going through the motions, head down, working hard and barreling through the process.  How in the world could I produce something that causes people to have an immediate emotional attachment to upon first glance?  Maybe, just maybe, my purpose isn't to travel the world with nothing but my belongings in a steamer-trunk.  Maybe it isn't to build high-rise buildings and elaborate bridges, but maybe it's to bring pleasure to others through my drawings, through my creativity.  I've always enjoyed giving my drawings to others and seeing the pleasure in their eyes, but this time their eyes glistened with tears.  How remarkable the act of serving others. 

Merry Christmas Mr. Potter!

                                                   The Christmas Trio

plus the music video "Leather Bound" -

P.S.  I believe everyone has a guardian angel.  Even George Bailey had one.  But I believe I have two, two angels that watch over me, that guide me and most of all..., inspire me. 

Dear Rhianna and Mike
Remember..., no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings!

Love, Mike

Friday, December 16, 2011

The demon within.

On top of my other responsibilities, which includes holding a full time position at a "sticker factory", maintaining my etsy shop (dot4dot), being an occasional logo (& sometime t-shirt) designer, and other various special projects (which sometime allow me to animate), I'm also a video editor.  Not only do I get to edit, sometimes I get to write, storyboard, and film.  I wouldn't say I'm a Jack-of-all-trades, but more that I just have the software on my computer.  I did have some minimal schooling on ALL these duties, but like my drawings, I love to see something go from concept to something tangible.

Case in point, recently I had the opportunity to help Mike Schikora, a country singer/songwriter, put together a one song video to be uploaded to YouTube for the Christmas season.  One cold night, just a couple of weeks ago, we headed out to his barn where he keeps his 3 horses, and did a quick rendition of "O Holy Night".  He wanted it impromptu, unrehearsed and rough and that's exactly what we got!  It was so refreshing not to have everything planned out, to just go with the feeling of the night.  We shot it, edited it, and then post it just a few days ago.

 Check it out!

So, where are you going with this you might ask?  The fact that this video was unscripted, and unrehearsed kept me from over analyzing everything!  As when I'm drawing, I over analyze EVERYTHING!! I'm extremely picky or what is sometimes referred to as... (insert dirty work), a perfectionist.  This can be blessing or a curse, a negative or a positive.  When everything is aligned just right and all is good with the world, beautiful things happen.  But when it's not, I have to fight to see the project to completion or I'll just push it aside and ultimately forget about it.  I have many unfinished drawings and many more made it only to the trash.  I've really struggled to overcome this shortcoming and I'm getting better at it!  I've worked hard to loosen up and not be so stiff and precise.  I recently started working with pastels again and although messy, they force me to be what I've always resisted to be, an artist.  To me an artist is free, spontaneous, unrestrained.  That's the beauty of being an artist.  There's no boundaries!  Alas, there lies my biggest demon, my belief that everything I do, must be perfect, scripted, straight lined.  If it's not..., it's trash.  Well..., it's time to exercise those demons!  If practice makes perfect, then PERFECT MAKES BORING!!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SLOW DOWN!!!! It's all moving way too fast!


Wow!  I'm now officially a "blogger".  How in the world did that happen?!  It was only just last week that I started using Facebook.  Granted, I signed up for it sometime the beginning of last summer, but I only just recently added a profile picture and am now in constant contact with my..., 31 friends.  Yes, that's what I said, 31 friends.  I only hope that a man's existence and worth is not based on the number of friends he has in Facebook alone.  

My reason for blogging is simple, my fiancee says I need to.  But now that I'm "blogging", I can see how it can help.  I'm not one to open up and share my feelings with those closest to me, but for some reason I'm more likely to open up and share my most inner feeling and emotions to complete strangers.  It's a lot like having a personal diary with a lock and key, except now everyone has a key.  Rest assured, this is not going to be one of those touchy feely blogs, although on occasions I might have one of those moments, but bare with me!  This is going to be a blog where I can share my work and experiences being an artist and to grow as one as well.  But, before I ramble too much further and lose the other half of my readers, let me tell you a little about myself. 

My story in a few paragraphs -

I grew up an Army brat and enjoyed every aspect of it.  I loved the fact that every year or two, I had the chance to pack my bags, move to another state and start all over again.  Unfortunately, I found that the end result was always the same.  I was an introvert and meeting people and making new friends was a real struggle.  But nonetheless, I grew up knowing that the military was going to be my career and IT WAS..., for about a year, but that's another blog yet to be started.  : )

It was a car accident some years ago, that introduced me to the world of the #2 pencil and everything turned upside down.  Up until that day, I thought they were only used for homework assignments and shading in the circles of those aptitude tests we all took school.  Suddenly I found that with a blank piece of paper and a well-sharpened pencil, I could create something beautiful.  For several months I was laid up recuperating from surgery and drawing kept me sane.  We’re talking pre-Oprah days and from that point on I drew absolutely EVERYTHING!  Because of this new found hobby, my future went from a planned career in the military to that of an illustrator.  Upon graduating from college, serving a short stint in the Army, I headed out into the world seeking my fame and fortune with a brand spanking new HB pencil.  By that time, I had discovered that the #2 pencil was, in fact, used only for the homework & useless tests and that an HB was the standard for what “real“ artist used.  As I struck out, I struck out… BIG TIME!  What I found, at least in the world of design and advertising, it really didn’t matter how straight you could draw a line, without an education or the proper schooling in the arts, no one was interested.  As time went on, I drew less and less and what I did draw, I gave away, threw away or hid away.

Many years later, after taking a few drawing class and being introduced to other mediums, I discovered that life is too short and wonderful to be spent locked up in some grey cubicle staring at a computer screen.  I’d much rather be surrounded by people of like mind and interests that inspire and bring out those long suppressed dreams and hidden talents that get lost through that thing called “life”.  I wanted to return to those naive days of the #2 pencil.  Those days when I drew, because I loved it and nothing was better than seeing someone’s eyes light up when I gave them something that I had placed so much love into.

Almost a year ago to the day, I opened up my etsy shop called "dot4dot".  My hope was and still is, to continue to bring joy to others and brighten up their eyes.  But, as much as I’d like to continue to hand out free drawings, the urge to eat and a place to sleep, forced me to place a value on my work.  To this day still, when someone asks me how much a print cost or how much a drawing would be, I hesitate with a price.  To me, it's only a piece of paper with a few pencil marks and consequently of no value.

Through this blog, I hope to build a belief in myself and in my abilities.  To learn to accept who I am and what I can do.  To push myself to a level way beyond what I believe I'm capable of.  To place a value on my work.  My dream is one day, when someone asks me, "What do you do?",  with the utmost confidence I can say, "I'm an artist and I can do anything!"