Monday, December 31, 2012

Book Update

So my horror anthology The Dog Next Door and Other Disturbances has been published recently as an ebook at Amazon.com, and it's been doing wonderfully.  158 copies of the book were downloaded as a part of my first free book promotion, meaning that a total of 164 copies have been purchased so far!  There's also been a great review of my book posted at The Fleam, and I'm looking forward to seeing some reviews come up at Amazon in the future.

As a part of the KDP system at Amazon, I get 5 more free promotion days that I'll be able to use in three months time, so look forward to some free short stories in the not-so-distant future.

What's really exciting is that Ghost Milk at International Walnut has made me a beautiful book trailer that I'll be posting online soon - trust me, it's a thing of perverse beauty.  After the trailer has been released, I'll be doing a localized ad campaign in different Coffee Bean shops in Los Angeles, which will be duly posted here and at my other sites.

I'll also be working on completing my upcoming fantasy novel, The Northlands, along with some more great weird fiction shorts that are going to be looking for homes in a variety of periodicals.

For more immediate awesome art and book updates, make sure to follow @spasticsnap on Twitter.  Have a great year!

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Ebook is Now On Sale!

I'm shaking, full of energy, wired - I just received the notice from Amazon.com in my email inbox that my anthology of short fiction was PUBLISHED!

It's a rush, certainly, but also nerve-wracking.  These stories have been my life for almost five years now.  I've edited them and re-edited them, submitted them for notes from a few trusted friends, and dwelt upon each story with the microscopic obsession of a creature possessed.

These stories are dark, strange, and horrible.  They are twisted in just the right way. 

So I entreat you, gentle reader, to go witness the thing I have been incubating and take a look.  A purchase would be fantastic, but isn't necessary.  A review would send me over the moon, but isn't required.  But any effort you take to help me promote this would be beloved and mean a great deal to me.

Thank you, thank you very much.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Getting Sketchy



Made this sketch last night using my new Sharpie ink pen (it actually doesn't bleed through most paper, and I'm growing fond of it).

This summer has been a busy one, and I'm happy to say that the two middle school students that I've been tutoring in animation are just about done with their films - it took them almost a year, and they've worked very hard on them!  If I can convince them to upload their films to the internet, there will be links so everyone can see.

I'm about to start teaching a Character Design class that will include digital painting.  If your child (ages 12 and up encouraged) is interested, feel free to contact Lee-Jean through Art Experience Studio.

I have eight out of ten stories completed for my anthology of short stories that I'll be epublishing soon.  Even though the publish date has been pushed back twice, this is definitely the month that it's going to be released.  I'll keep updating any information about it as it comes along.

Fall is coming and it's finally time for rain, hot beverages, and planning my Halloween.  I'm going to ignore the sun blaring outside my window as I write that.  Thinking cold thoughts!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Maskmaker Maskmaker Make Me a Mask

This year was the first year I attended the Labyrinth of Jareth masquerade ball in Los Angeles. Creating a mask for it was an amazing experience that I look forward to doing again and again - because honestly, once you've made one mask, you're going to start getting ideas for more. My great friend Abby - an experienced maskmaker with a shop at Etsy that sells her fabulous creations - helped me figure out the nitty gritty of maskmaking along the way. Here's a pictorial overview of all the fun!
To begin with I started forming my foundation over a pre manufactured plastic mask (hereafter referred to as "the base"), with an additional plastic sheet over the top of the base to make it easier to lift the mask up later. I tore up strips of newspaper and dipped them in a flour and water mixture, then applied them, alternating between vertical and horizontal strips for extra strength. After the newspaper, I began using strips of a thicker white paper.
Abby suggested that I use old toilet paper rolls and egg cartons to form some of the more sculptural aspects of the mask. I used egg cartons to create the prominent cheekbones of the wolf, and toilet paper rolls for the muzzle and ears, with egg carton details on the muzzle.
I let the old layers dry before adding new bits, still just using a mixture of flour and water as my paste to start assembling the pieces on the foundation.
The details of the mask, especially the nose and teeth, were made using Model Magic - a lightweight air drying clay. I'm fond of recreating bones, and the dental work of wolves is pretty interesting stuff. I'm of the opinion that these details made the mask more wolf-like, differentiating it from, say, a fox or a dog.
After pressing and shaping the clay onto the mask and letting it dry, I began to paint the mask. Everything got painted - from the teeth to the back of the mask, because if you turn to the side with the mask on you get a peek of the mask's less-than-sexy backside. Because it was created for a masquerade, I painted fine silver hairs around the eyes and inside the ears for a little subtle flair. Holes were drilled into the sides of the mask. Later a strip of Neoprene was stitched to the mask through these holes, with Mod Podge used for extra stability. Some much-needed facial padding was glued around the nose and forehead area. As a last minute touch, pieces of sheer fabric were glued into the eye areas (because nothing is more terrifying than an eyeless wolf...actually, an eyeless anything moving with purpose in the right lighting can be pretty intimidating).
I really like how the mask ended up looking, but would make a few basic changes. This mask is very heavy, due in part to my ambitious projecting muzzle, and my next project will be a bit lighter (and muzzle-free).  Visibility in this mask is feasible, but altogether low. However once it's on it's a very secure fit, and honestly I loved the dramatic final effect of a half-wolf face.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Outside is Inside and Vice Versa

Score this design: "Natural Connection," to help it get printed on Threadless!

So I've entered (yet another) Threadless design contest. The inspiration behind it is our inherent connection and control of nature, which is why if you click the link you'll find I've posted a quote from Rachel Carson that felt appropriate. If you like it, please go and vote for it! If not, might I suggest a superb evening watching television or reading a book? Thanks!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

How I Made Those Freaking Coasters


If you search on the internet for an easy craft project to do, you will inevitably encounter the D.I.Y. Coaster project. Once that is uncovered, a chain of links will lead you across a myriad of blogs, all of them crafty, all of them with that "Put a Bird On It!" feel lurking in the adorable blog wallpaper and header. Not to disparage the crafting movement - far from it - I am a long-time admirer of all things made by hand. However, contemporary crafting has a vampiric fascination with aesthetics (specifically a mishmash of cuteness, folk art, and kitsch boiled in an Ikea hotplate) which overwhelms anything else you could really have to say about it. Is there a message in this art movement? Unlikely, but by god it will be fabulous.

 Here is the link to the blog that inspired me to make my coasters by hand. The following are my own adjustments to the standard formula:  

ASSEMBLE TEAM HOUSEHOLD CRAP!  

4 tiles (4"x4" ones do well. Buy them at Home Depot or some such ilk. This should be cheap.)  
Mod Podge (Because it's a glue AND a finisher, and reliable. Craft store crap.)  
Felt Floor Protector Pads (Little ones. Little circular ones. Because who wants to spend all that time cutting out felt and then gluing it to a tile? You're going to be doing a lot of gluing as it is - screw the felt! These have sticky backs on them! They are clearly superior! This is a hardware store item.)
A ruler!  (Because you probably can't measure these things by eye.  Office supply or craft store or hardware store crap.)
Watercolor paper/ Watercolor paint/Brushes! (If you want to use some wrapping paper/scrap paper/newsprint go for it, but you won't need paint or brushes. Art store crap, obviously.)
Q Tips or Off Brand Ear Cleaners (Because these are the best to apply glue with - and they're disposable! Grocery store/drug store crap.  First you don't know where to get a ruler, and now you don't know where to go for Q Tips?  Honestly, you live a sheltered life.  This craft project could be the start of a whole new life outside of your home!  Make the best of it!)
 Scissors/Paper Cutter/Mystery Paper Cutting Object!  (See "A ruler!" above.)
Aleene's Spray Acrylic Sealer (OPTIONAL - Gloss or Matte Finish - I used Gloss. You don't actually have to use this stuff, but it makes things easier. You could feasibly use that Mod Podge and put about 3 layers of that crap on - letting it dry in between each layer - but I wanted this sealer for a few other projects, and pushing a button and letting a spray can do the work for you is alluring. Craft store or online crap.)  
Washi Tape (OPTIONAL - for maximum cuteness factor only! If you want less cute coasters, that's up to you. This is harder-to-get crap. I usually buy this stuff online, but I've seen it occasionally at art stores and trendy little stationary boutiques, and once at the Downtown Public Library gift shop. Weird!)

WHAT THE HELL DO I DO NOW?

1.  Take your time and paint some cool stuff on that watercolor paper and let it dry.  Or paint lame stuff.  Or find some random things you like that you want to immortalize on a coaster.  Band tickets you left in some pair of pants you put through the dryer?  Great!  Time to coasterize them!

2.  Make sure your images will fit on the tiles (1/8th to 1/4th of an inch smaller than the tile works well).  Measure carefully.  Either tear the paper or use some kind of paper cutting device, like scissors or your teeth.  I used an old-fashioned swing arm paper cutter because I love that freaking thing and use it every chance I get.  Elementary school was worth it just to get a shot at using the creaking monstrosity that was the paper cutter.

3.  Apply a moderate amount of Mod Podge evenly to the top of your tiles (the shiny, pretty side) with a Q-Tip.  Breathe shallowly to avoid snorting Mod Podge.  This might just be a personal problem.

4.  Press the backs of your paper against the tiles, trying to keep them in the center of the tile.  Let them dry.  If the paper is curling, weigh it down with something clean and heavy.  A spare tile you're not working with does the job admirably.

5.  Cut lengths of washi tape - one for each side of each tile - that are slightly longer than the tile (by about an inch is pretty good).  How many strips of washi tape should we have?  Yep!  You guessed it!  16 strips of washi tape - good job, calculator!

6.  This is the tricky part, so take it slowly!  Once the paper you like is completely secured to the tile and dry, apply the washi tape to the borders by placing each piece of tape in the exact middle of the edge, then folding the sides down on either side of the tile.  Snip the ends of the tape and either do a bookbinding fold for the corner, or just cut and remove the half of the tape sticking out on the sides that will be on the down side of the coaster, and fold the top side of the tape over the edge of that.  Sound confusing?  If this part is too frustrating, you might just want to skip the washi tape, but I swear, it's really the bee's knees.

7.  Apply 4 small Felt Floor Protector Pads to the backs of each tile, at the corners.  I hope you picked appropriately-sized ones out, you weirdo.

8.  Take your can of Spray Acrylic Sealer and apply it to the top of the tile, covering your pretty art and the washi tape with a coat of plastic futurity.  Apply 2-3 coats, allowing for about 15-20 minutes for drying in between each application.  Use Mod Podge instead of the Sealer if you're flying that way.  Cough mercilessly after accidentally inhaling way too much Sealer and/or Mod Podge.  Gag for effect so that any household pets nearby can gawk at you with a mix of pity and fear.

9.  Let it all dry overnight.  Resist the urge to touch your coasters.  You are not a child; be patient.

You now have a really nice-looking set of coasters that will impress people.  Buy extra tiles and make everyone you know a set of these for Christmas.  Make a set for yourself.  Brag about how difficult it was to make them to friends, family, and the occasional Fuller Brush salesman, but be warned that hubris has a nasty aftertaste.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Yakuza, Masks, and Other Tasks

This blog post has oodles of fun pictures to look through - which is, behind amazingly compelling and well-crafted prose - my favorite kind of blog post to read.  Never mind.  I lied.  Lots of pictures win.

For Mother's Day I made my mom a set of coasters!  Why?  Because it's fun to make useful, pretty things for people that you care about.  I'll dedicate a future post to my exact process, but in brief I made a watercolor painting (which I scanned and you can check out below), cut it up, slapped it on some tiles, edged it with pretty washi tape, and put little felt footies on the bottom.  The result was really what I was hoping for - some seasonal, pretty art that's just a little sultry and fun.  My mom loved them, but she loved them so much that she doesn't want to use them so she's trying to figure out a way to hang them on her walls.  At least she liked them!



I finally finished a watercolor painting that has taken me a few months to work out. It's called Blonde Yakuza. I'm a bit irrationally in love with it.  Here's a scan of it:
And finally, I've started working on a papier mache mask with the help of my good friend Abby. It's been years since I've tried to seriously attempt anything with papier mache, and I love the physicality of working with such a messy, pulpy medium. I'm crafting a werewolf mask for the Labyrinth of Jareth masquerade ball that I'll be attending this year. I am incredibly excited about the event - not only am I a Bowie/Labyrinth/Henson fan - I've never been to a masquerade before. It seems fantastically romantic, creative, and all kinds of fun.
If you didn't get enough pictures, here's a link to an awesome website dedicated to the art of depicting women in black and white art photography. Lots of cool, sexy nudes over there. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Valkyrie and a Gentleman


The past few weeks have been an absolute rush of interesting assignments.  A commission for a friend, an album review, designing a new lesson plan, and creating a series of title cards for a film project I worked on last year have made the days full and hectic.  Spring break?  I'm not sure that breaking a sweat is what they intended...

I'm now an art and music reviewer for the California Literary Review, so feel free to check out my new work there as it arrives.  I've started with a review of Slim Cessna's Auto Club's latest album, Unentitled.  It's a fascinating slurry of musical genres that communicate a kind of country sound it's unlikely you've heard before, so go take a chance on it!



The valkyrie image above is a commission for a friend's droid case.  I loved using the fude pen to ink it - the fude brush pen has quickly become one of my favorite, go-to implements and I don't hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting, pseudo-painted comic book look.

The details of the other projects will quite simply have to wait, as they are both untested and eager on their coltish legs.  Until then happy clicking, my digital compatriots!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Carousel of Color and a Beheading



This past week I introduced the kids I teach to the color wheel, which is always a fun subject. Above is the wheel I designed that they based theirs on. There was a ton of interest and excitement when they got to mix their own colors. I think there's something really primal and basic about using paint and physical media to create art that appeals to everyone. Definitely looking forward to more painting activities with the kids.

The second image is my most recent Threadless t-shirt submission, which rang in with a personal record of the lowest voted score of all my designs. For some reason, the fact that I've scored an all-time low was secretly thrilling as well as horrifying. A real oddball design (like most of the stuff in my sketchbooks) I thought it was a shoo-in for the Threadless <3s Weird contest, and indeed it might have been, but I ended up missing the deadline and just submitted it for the regular theme-free competition. Too twisted for color t.v.? Indeed, Steel Magnolias, indeed.

The name of the piece is Beheading! and features watercolors and ink, meticulously cleaned up on Photoshop. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Society 6 Wants Designers For Their New Art Book Series

And I need to make more stuff! So I started up (another) online shop. I really like a lot of the stuff there in general. I know Society 6 has been up for ages, but sometimes it takes me a while before I end up visiting the places that I really enjoy (this applies to real life places as well...unfortunately).

Click here to go apply to be in their art book series. Click here to check out my shop. Danke!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hooked

The Origin of Mermaids - Threadless T-shirts, Nude No More

So I've entered (yet another) Threadless Loves contest in my endless quest to finally win one. The theme of this competition was Threadless Loves Pinups, and pinups are pretty much one of my favorite art subjects, so I really wanted to submit something good. I ended up doing an homage to Gil Elvgren, who always included narrative elements of surprise and flirty faux shock in his pieces, limiting myself to an Elvgren-authentic palette and brushstroke style. Feel free to click on the link and vote on my design.



The other image is a steampunk skeleton watercolor that I did for a friend's birthday. I liked the idea of a clockwork skeleton quite a lot - a concept we brainstormed to life together - and I've been dwelling on mortality, hearts, and clocks and all the interesting inbreeding in between those themes. The final piece came out fairly well. It's on a small art card, accented with washi tape to frame the top and bottom, with accents in acrylic copper and tarnished silver paint and black ink.

Monday, January 30, 2012

You Want Flies With That?







The first watercolor is inspired by the photo of the underside of a peacock that I came across on Pinterest. I loved the unexpected coloration there, and kept seeing a woman in amongst the feathers, so I developed the Peacock Flapper painting.



The portrait is the second phase of my exciting mystery project (now with added marshmallow mystery)! Actually, scratch that. No marshmallows, just some flies. Which is sad, because marshmallows taste much better in milk than flies. I might be speaking from experience on that one.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Egocentric



The new year has begun, and it's time to work on some new projects while finishing up the old ones.

Currently I'm working on an illustration where I'm using myself as the subject - this is a new element for an older project I'd like to finish up this year (which sounds vague, but I'll post its advancement on this blog). What you have here are two self-portraits done in slightly different styles. I like how dark the watercolor feels, as well as the textures of the skin in that version, but the composition is a little too unbalanced for my taste. I then made a more balanced, almost sanitized version in pencil, but I'm having problems with that, too. These are just raw elements (with some minor adjustments in Photoshop), but I'm going to try putting some watercolor textures into the pencil version. I like the progression I'm getting here - my original rough composition is starting to fit together, but I'm still a long way off.