Tuesday, April 19, 2011

test your limits—but check yo self b4 u wreck yo self

I've been pushing myself hard to try and keep productivity levels high with respect to art, now that I've re-immersed myself. Honestly, it's been difficult. I'd rather lie in bed eating salt-n-vinegar chips and watching Pirates of the Caribbean with the baby and Elliot than get up the gumption to crank out another sketch or alter or painting, most of the time.

The feeling after completing an art project is, however (and always has been), a real nice high. The sense of accomplishment I get...especially if I've challenged myself with a piece, is very satiating. There's a lull that immediately follows putting the last touch on a creation and in that still, quiet moment, there is a high concentration of contentment. Your adrenaline is slipping away and there's just a few breaths of time to be honest with yourself before real life comes rushing, crashing back in. I imagine it might be similar for high level athletes and gamers, writers, certainly for musicians...anyone who pours their whole self into something for a time, knowing it won't last, working towards achieving their burning vision with a certain amount of desperation.

Never being able to finish something or having to rush-finish a project, falling short of expectations...due to the demands of family and work is obviously excruciatingly frustrating. "So as soon as you get a family and have no time, you know exactly what you want?" was how my brother put it the other day while we caught up over too much Evan Williams. It's true. Real-life demands force you to put a premium on your time. It's easier for "what I truly want to do" to filter out in an intense, high-stakes environment than back when I was doodling and dawdling and asking daddy to pay off my Discover and had only mildly interesting college classes, the "luxury" of lots of Adult Swim couch comas and endless amounts of Me time.

The funny thing is, I never would have been inspired to create art again without Elliot and my son around. Family is what made me want to be me again, made me want to be alive again, in the first place...So I find that the components of my life that motivate me are also those which make claims (rightly) on my energy and attention. I guess that's the way grown-up life goes and I just need to get better at managing these dynamics.

I'm great at being compulsive and boozy and moody and snarky and forgetting to eat/sleep when I have a goal in mind and I've got my beret on with pencil clutched feverishly in hand...I'm good at that desperation often romanticized in depictions of "great" artists. But I'm not convinced I have to play that character for me to scratch my creative itch. I'm pretty sure I'm capable of more.

What I really need to overachieve at is being kind to the people who inspire me, the people who make me feel like I've already achieved greatness when all I did was make pancakes.

And with that...I'm out of time, so here's a peek into that last couple weeks' worth of work.

Wolf Paladin in process for Joel, FNM bartender at Guardian Games here in Portland.

Sketch for Preordain alternate concept, thinking about trying as a watercolor painting to go a bit Guay in my skillset.

Another experimental alter, for Elliot. Had more success w/thinning paint, but still gouged the card when scraping off material lol. Next up, Borderland Ranger, on the suggestion of Mr. Froggatt.
Much thanks to the husband (@Hackworth) for taking the pictures, in low light late last night when he should have been sleeping! At least baby didn't wake up...

Till next time, may Magic be your sword.


  1. Beautiful stuff MJ!
    As you've read, I've never attempted 'real' art before; yet just recently I picked up an assortment of artist pencils and the Drawing For Dummies book.
    The family/time bit is something I struggle with as well, obviously. The most frustrating part is that those around me without children don't realize how draining it is. This, coupled with my severe procrastination is why I do so few alters per month.
    Anyhoo...great post!

    Jeremy (a.k.a. Mr. Froggatt lolz)

  2. Thanks so much for the feedback Jeremy! I'm so excited you're expanding your art to include originals (for lack of a better word) but your alters are definitely very 'real' art already. Just wanted to say also that I (as well as Elliot) empathize SO much w/what you said about those around w/out children not understanding...we've even had friendships totally change b/c of this dynamic...It's too bad. But hopefully the most important folks understand, and MTG parents can keep connecting and getting acquainted and build great new friendships, too! Looking forward to your next article. :)