Art and Writing and Latin, Oh My!


“After the Bacchanal” 9 x 12 Oil on linen

I’m prepping for an eventful summer full of painting, writing, and Latin translation!

I finished a still life (pictured above) in oils this week, hit 30k on the Fantasy novel (planning for 100k), and secured a Latin teaching position starting this fall that I’ll be prepping for.

Fiction writing is a slow business, but I have some good news to report on that front. I recently signed a contract with The Daily Science Fiction, and have a piece forthcoming this year. Every other story I’ve sent out is being held for consideration, so here I sit. Nothing to do but research for the novel and add to the word count! Wait, write another story, you say? HA!

I’m still reviewing short fiction for Tangent Online, and this May I reviewed Beneath Ceaseless Skies’ May 10th and May 24th stories. That magazine is one of my favorites. I envy people who can weave pretty prose.

I’m still painting, and the gallery is updated with recent works. I’m thinking about selling prints soon, and it’s turning out to be a rather complicated pursuit. This July I will be painting my first full size portrait under the tutelage of an artist who studied in Florence. I am intimidated but eager for the challenge. Excelsior!

In personal news, my children are growing like weeds. I gave them no such permission, the curs. My youngest turned 2 this month, and now I fight a trembling lip whenever I see her baby pictures. I was in a car crash yesterday, and while unhurt, I’m reminded keenly of my mortality.

It all goes by so quickly. Onward in virtue.

Why do People Treat Art Differently?

Learning a traditional method is hard: I spent six months on a graphite value scale where I had to master my darkest dark and get progressively lighter until nothing was left but the white of the paper. Six. Months. I have to do this every time I use a different medium and every time I decided to use a different kind of paper, and this has to be done before attempting a drawing.

Example of Value scale in charcoal

Example of Value scale in charcoal

Now, maybe I’m running into the wrong people, but art students can spot each other a mile away in the city. (It has something to do with carrying a large bag that’s holding 18 x 20 art board I guess!) Whenever I tell people what I’m working on, the reactions are usually in the following category:

“That sounds too hard!”

“Ick, I wouldn’t want to be bad at something before getting good.”

“I can’t take criticism. Art is subjective.”

Now, I’m sorry, but nobody would say this about music. If someone is in music school, and they tell you they are practicing their scales so many hours a day, we consider that right and noble. Once a musician learns the basics, internalizes them with HOURS of practice she¬†then moves on to performing pieces composed by masters before branching out and experimenting with her own creativity. Art is the same: learn value, form, shadow-shapes, measuring, big form modeling, and then move on to master copies so that you can learn to solve the problems the great artists did.

You don’t just get to buy cheap acrylics and a canvas and decide you’re the next Kandinsky by pure power of the will. It’s so arrogant!