Archive for November, 2007

Days at the Office

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

I took this holiday week off of work with high hopes of getting some real work done on this sequel. Unfortunately, I’ve been fighting an illness that refuses to let go and was only able to squeeze out about 3,000 words before giving into some recovery time. My pseudo participation in NaNoWriMo was only a means for inspiration to begin with, but I’d hoped to make it at least halfway to the 50,000 word goal by the end of the month. No dice, it seems.

I did get some good writing in at the beginning of the week, however, and thought it might be interesting to show my workspaces.

The first, a common denominator from writing SoD, is Crazy Mocha, located in Pittsburgh’s South Side Works. The staff has completely turned over, which is a shame, but since I’ve sat in their facility for 8+ hours with success, I’m more than primed to get some work done there. Plus, they have the biggest oatmeal raisin cookies you’ve ever seen in your life.

The second is Creative Treehouse, which is a facility that offers shared workspace for creative professionals in Bellevue. Since Bellevue is only 10 minutes from my house, it’s not a big commute if I need to get away from my house. It’s open 24 hours, so I could conceivably write through the night if I needed to. And I heart the treehouse, just because.

The third locale is closer to home… as in, two doors down from my bedroom. I actually just cleaned it out a couple weeks ago, which entailed a box of nails and several garbage bags (Yep, that’s clean). One day it will be painted, with a fancy new light and perhaps a fan.

Art is fun. The top pic shows a piece entitled “The Treeshouse” which includes talkative birds and slugs. Below are framed digital pieces titled “The Nunjas” and “Clang Clang”. The colorful one leaning up against the wall is called “Imagination”. And on the cork board? A main character from the final SoD novel, oh my!
This is a good place when I’m feeling antisocial or contagious. And, because the weather has gotten all winter-y on me, this may become a favorite hide out for a couple months. Because snow is my enemy.

Screenprinting at AIR!

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

I don’t know where the suggestion came from (I suspect it was hatched by Joe and Jesse) but a few of us met at AIR on Tuesday night for a crash course in screen printing.

Per Joe’s suggestion, Josh and I stopped at Kinko’s to print my design on a transparency (only 81 cents!) and we were off. I also hear that you can print a transparency at AIR, but I since I had zero idea what I was in for, I figured I could at least sort of appear prepared.

The building is huge, and we camped out on the 3rd floor. Joe showed us the ropes, which I will poorly replicate here:

  1. Put your transparency on the giant table with bulbs under it. Put magic screen on top of transparency. Cover screen with giant black thing, then top all with weights.
  2. Click timer to 4 minutes. The bulbs come on with all the power of the sun, so scram so you don’t go blind.
  3. After light clicks off, spray the heck out of the screen. Exposing the magic screen to light hardens where ever your design isn’t, so when you spray the screen your design pops out. Rinse until bubbles are gone, spray with air, then chat while it dries in front of a fan.
  4. Lay screen in workspace, tape any holes and possibly the edges.
  5. Scoop that delicious ink on to the screen. AIR actually has some you can use, which is nice. I’ve been told it’s mostly gray, which is cool, but I was lucky enough to stumble onto some lime green, yippee.
  6. After putting your material under the screen, pull the fancy squeegee toward you and push your ink through your design.
  7. Lift screen. Squeal like preteen.


Here’s the original file in Illustrator. I had about a minute to throw this baby together and burn it to CD before I was going to miss my bus. It was just a thought bubble and skull at first, but I had like 15 seconds where I was just fiddling my thumbs — hence the horns and fang- mandible-things.

…and here’s the final art on my hat. I’m not exactly sure what it is that I’m thinking about, but rest assured it is sufficiently eeeevil. I did a shirt, too, which I figure will be appropriate to wear when I have a tummy ache.

The facility, AIR, was really great, too. According their website:

AIR is an artist-run organization that integrates the production of fine art printwork with innovative educational programs that explore the creative process. AIR provides print and imaging services to professional artists and educators. Our goal is to maintain an active and vital imaging laboratory that supports artists and facilitates creative activity.

And, via my personal endorsement: it’s righteous.

The staff was polite and helpful, and the three hours of fun we had only cost $5 since you pay by the screen. It’s open to the public from 7pm to 12am on Tuesdays. Plus, there were past projects hung all over the wall, which was really inspiring. Next week: two colors!

Happy Holidays… But Not That One (Not Yet)

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Christmas music before Thanksgiving makes my blood boil. Just because I understand the commercial benefit of extending the shopping season doesn’t mean I support it. I love all the celebrations that will take place over the next couple months, but I’m still pouting that the world seems to have skipped over my favorite one: Thanksgiving. That’s why I spent part of this weekend painting a festive winter scene on a store window, instead of something that was Holiday specific.

Me, Josh, Jesse, Mosley and Allair (nice to meet you!) headed out to Fox’s Pizza in Aspinwall on Saturday. The whole thing felt like college again, what with the five of us piling into a car, roaming the mall for supplies, bailing out to gorge on awesome pizza and then: paint!

Josh, me, Jesse, Mr. Baconpants, Allair

Look how organized we look. It’s like we know what we’re doing.

The finished Winter Wonderland!
The pole might look off-center, but it’s the angle, promise. And probably your imagination.

The crew, clock-wise from left: me, Josh, Jesse, Mosley and Allair

If you’ve never tried it, Fox’s Pizza is awesome – it’s the best pizza I’ve ever had. JD owns the one in Aspinwall, and is a super nice guy that I know through Creative Treehouse.

Did I mention the pizza is awesome?

That Elusive Inspiration

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

If you do anything within the realm of creativity, you have probably experienced the rush of inspiration. It’s like gold to the writer, artist, designer, inventor, etc, and can make life a whole lot easier.

The mystery of the whole phenomenon is that you can’t recreate the circumstances, because it occurs in such strange and inexplicable ways. It can strike with the converging of music, weather, time of day, a meal, a piece of clothing, a movie, the way a person moves or speaks, and a million other things. You can’t force it, and it’s different every time to every person.

The spark for The Sum of David came in a split second at a Cirque du Soleil show. I can distinctly remember the visual — a glowing air balloon as it sailed above the crowd — that brought the lightning and possibilities. I can recall the inspiration for the sequel a few months ago — on the bus with a particular song in my earphones and the light, weather, people and construction appearing just right in the city in Pittsburgh.

The catch? Inspiration won’t do the job for you. And it might cause more problems than it solves, at least at first. But if you can uncover how the pieces fit together, it’s worth it. So paint that masterpiece one brush stroke at a time, write that novel (now’s the time, after all) a word, a sentence, a page at a time; conquer the world the way you know how and don’t get discouraged. The spark might come in a rush, but making it into something tangible, something that works, takes time and effort.

On a different, but not unrelated note: I saw the trailer for The Golden Compass last night on television and it pretty much rocked my socks clean off. It’s not the same preview I’ve linked above, but they’re both AWESOME. I regret that it’s got a big, butt-kicking polar bear (since SOD’s got one too, if very briefly), but I still can’t wait to see it. The actors… the voices… the effects… Like I said: AWESOME.

Halloween Party/Gallery

Monday, November 5th, 2007

I think we can chalk Saturday’s show up as a success. I saw a lot of familiar faces and met some new ones… My bee costume was fun, even if I didn’t get to use all the pieces I wanted to and my wings gave me a horizontal dimension that I’m not accustomed to: I kept hitting people with them. Working the door ended up being nice, too, because I got to see all as they filtered in and the hallway serves as an almost safe haven for people that want to talk while the bands are playing.

My “rotting zombie” pumpkin won a prize in the pumpkin gallery (the “zombie” part being intentional, at least - yum!) and I sold two of my four pieces of artwork. I did the three of them specifically for the show:

The digital color is unfortunately over-simplified and flat. I had intended on shading them, but (of course) ran out of time. Regardless, they were fun to do and I intend on watercoloring the originals eventually since I put them on fancy paper. The cowboy is my personal favorite.

I took Friday off of my real job to spend the day writing. I’ve stored up some vacation days, and need to use them before the end of the year… not to mention I’d like to take advantage of the productive energy created by NaNoWriMo!