Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Resolutions

I think it's prudent that, before I formulate any new resolutions for 2012, it's best to assess my progress with 2011's resolutions-slash-realizations.

Re: Life revolving around my Daughters: Success. Hands down, the time I'm spending with them now, while they're young (6 and 2.5, respectively), is the best life choice. I'll never look back and instead wish that I'd spent more time working or sitting in meetings or idling in traffic (the bane of living near Atlanta); it's a no-brainer.

Which isn't to say that there won't be 'unintended consequences' for putting so much of my life on hold or leaving my life so wildly out of balance (as those annual letters from the Social Security Administration projecting my future 'benefits' seem to imply). And being a stay-at-home dad certainly doesn't augment a resume'. But I won't regret having had this much time with my girls, because most fathers don't have that kind of opportunity. And fathers matter, beyond the provision of resources, when it comes to the long-term well-being of their children.

I'll happily continue with this resolution into 2012.

Re: Avoiding Politics & Economics: Another success. Honestly, it's hard to avoid these topics; they tend to dominate most news outlets (at least when the Kardashians aren't grasping for the limelight). But to my credit, I haven't let myself get outraged to the point that I feel obsessed about re-posting a story on my Facebook wall or Twitter feed. (Cutting back on my 'social media' addiction has helped, too.)

Which isn't to say I've been 100% faithful to this resolution. I confess: I added both Freakonomics' and Robert Reich's blogs to my Google reader. In my defense, they offer refreshing and often entertaining perspectives, which goes a long way to soothing my anxieties. Additionally, I have spent more time reading about scientific discoveries and breakthroughs, which helps me feel more hopeful, as do the writings of Presbyterian minister, Frederick Buechner.

I'll re-up this resolution, too.

Re: Restraining my appetite for the new & novel: I did so-so with this resolution, considering that people only have so much 'willpower' and that it's a resource easily exhausted.

I don't drink, smoke or do drugs; I diet and exercise (usually); and my wife and daughters are enough to keep any guy fully engaged and occupied. So, in answer to that old Adam Ant song, 'Goody Two Shoes' (You don't drink/You don't smoke/What do you do?), the only vice left to me is shopping. It thrills me to discover an artist or musician or author or creative team or comic or ANYTHING. Something new & novel triggers a switch that helps me experience something akin to transcendance. So when that trigger gets pulled, I tend to go whole-hog, diving into, credit card at the ready, hunting for deals on everything I can find about my latest obsession.

But not so much in 2011. I managed to rein in that monster more often than not. Willpower, like any muscle, can be strengthened over time, and mine got a solid workout last year. And saving money (or, at least, not accruing more debt) doesn't hurt, either. For 2012, I'll do even better; I'll continue to exercise restraint while also revisiting and strengthening my appreciation for the books, CDs, DVDs and comics I've already acquired.


Re: Drawing and selling artwork: Total. Failure. I think I did about six or seven pieces of finished art this year, all of which I either gifted to someone or donated to charity. I found it impossible to carve out the time necessary to warm up (let alone make art), devoting myself instead to childcare, chores and other family activities, with my part-time school bus driving job bringing up the rear. I also realized that my aversion to doing 'fan art' was a key component holding me back. Honestly, in the past, 99.9% of my artistic output was fan art, and people liked it well enough to pay for it. Somehow, I got in the rut of thinking I had to be 'original' or working on something 'more important.' Pfft!

Instead, I should be doing everything I can in order to figure out what works and let whatever-that-is be my art niche, at least for a little while.

I've also been toying with the idea of establishing a free artists club in the area. Nothing improves morale and encourages artistic growth like being surrounded by cartoonists and illustrators. Perhaps 2012 is the year to set that plan into motion, too.

Obviously, this resolution carries over into 2012, but perhaps takes a higher priority. Because spending more time drawing means less time wasted reading about Politics or Economics and less money spent distracting myself from the existential dread that I've somehow wasted my life by not living up to my potential and that it's too late to change. And it also won't hurt to further develop my artistic style (whatever that might be), which will, I hope, suggest a greater purpose to which I might apply myself (such as a comic book, webcomic or children's book). I can think of no better, healthier or more satisfying way to augment my income--and ultimately make my living (which, now that I think about it, is a great turn of phrase).

Outlook for 2012? Optimistic. I don't know why, but I feel that 2012, Year of the Dragon (oh yes, I'm a Dragon, baby!), will be a pivotal year. This coming spring, we intend to move to a new rental, closer to my daughter's elementary school, and that will afford us an opportunity to improve the stewardship of our resources (i.e., responsibly dispose of stuff we don't need or use). I might even get an art studio-slash-'man cave' out of the deal--something I've craved for YEARS that, I'm sure, will help maintain some important boundaries. With luck, I'll soon change jobs (AND avoid an ugly commute), which can only improve the family's bottom line and enable us to buy a house a couple years down the road. I want to look back, in January 2013, and see that I'm well along in the process of changing the course of my life--and even, maybe, gaining new momentum. Like I said last year, any progress I make automatically benefits my family and, from there, radiates outward into the community. Which is about the best anybody can hope to do.

So far, so good.

Have a great and worry-free new year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I regret not having finished my annual McChristmas card on time this year, but I can't let the day arrive without posting something. So, to hold you over until it's finished, enjoy this little greeting from my "super" family! Have a merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's the Great Gourdthulhu, Doc Neurotic!

It's the Great Gourdthulhu, Doc Neurotic!

(aka, Happy Hallowe'en!)

I was in a 'Nocturnals' mood, and this Nocturnals/Peanuts mashup seemed like a good idea at the time. It took waaaaaay longer to get done than I'd planned (obviously; it's November 10th). I often found myself working on it in 15-minute blocks of time between work, chores, playing with the girls, running errands, tending to the sick and doing assorted other family-centric activities.

In other words, it might be late, but I'm just glad I finished it (which doesn't mean I won't go back and fiddle with little things later; I'm just declaring it 'done for now').

But I also want to take a moment to ask: Where's the 'Nocturnals' love these days!? It's, like, THEIR day. Send Dan Brereton a friendly reminder of how much you miss his crew.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dangerous Nuts

My first love was newspaper comic strips (can you guess which was my favorite?). My second love was super-hero comics, especially Marvel's "Fantastic Four" (which led John Byrne to create what analogous super team?).

I've mashed up my favorites to get this team snapshot. Not totally thrilled with the composition, but inspiration struck and took root, so I rushed to get things done, working in spurts around other priorities. Still, it was a challenge, finding a balance between two very different art styles (one of extreme minimalism, the other of extreme detail), hence the flat colors and dearth of modeling.

Most important, I had FUN. Itch scratched.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Resolutions

Welcome, 2011! These aren't resolutions as much as they're realizations, which is (I think) a better way to start the year.

I accept that life revolves around my Daughters. I am, in a very basic way, their servant. To them, I do magic and have super-powers; I find lost stuff, repair broken things, know how to get from anywhere to somewhere, and create masterpieces with crayons. So, whatever I do to better myself, my outlook, my attitude and my skills makes me a happier person, and my Grrls are the direct beneficiaries of any growth, however miniscule I might perceive it to be. After all, if I'm good enough for my Grrls, who else matters?

No more reading and posting anything related to Politics or Economics. I'm done with them. They are like twin girls I've been dating, and I've naively believed one or both of them might be good. Instead, they are both pure evil, and they make my life miserable. We are breaking up, ladies! D'ya hear me!? Find some other fool to string along with your empty promises!

Instead, I will focus on Science and Spirituality.

... Um ... Wait a minute ...

I'm putting my appetite for the new and novel on an even more rigorous diet. 2011 is the year for cultivating appreciation and more actively expressing gratitude. It's the year for "wanting what I have" and reconnecting with past favorites: books, CDs, videos, comics, &c. I'll be re-reading, re-viewing, re-listening, re-visiting, re-purposing, re-ducing, re-using, re-cycling, re-re-ing.

This year, I am going to draw stuff ... then sell it. I quit my position as sole arbiter of whether or not my work is any good; instead, I'll let "the market" decide. If it's true that "Every man with an idea has at least two or three followers" (--Brooks Atkinson, an American theatre critic), then the folks who enjoy whatever Art I concoct can duke it out, ebay-style (... or just buy it from the store I'm going to set up once I have stuff to sell).

I have learned my lesson about overcommitting myself to art projects. My first priority, creatively, is to have fun. My second priority is to generate income so that I might better contribute to my family's short- and long-term well-being. My third priority is to enthusiastically jump through whatever lucrative door opens from honoring my first two priorities. I cannot afford--personally, financially or professionally--to do free (that is, "spec") work for anyone who isn't living at my address. That said, if either of my Grrls wants me to draw a whale riding a bicycle to the moon, then by golly, I'm clearing my agenda and getting it done.

Happy new year!