Beyond Urgency

About a month ago I signed up to participate in #WriteThemAll, a campaign organized by Critical Resistance PDX with the goal of writing to every incarcerated person in the state of Oregon. (That’s 14,500 human beings, in case you were wondering.)

I joined for a few reasons:

First: I love writing letters. I send a lot of mail, and the realization that I could leverage that love for causes I care about has informed a lot of my activism this year. Letter writing is also a slow motion activity—a category of thing I’m trying to spend more time in these days. (There’s a separate post in there, I’m sure, but I’ll leave it for now.)

Second: I’ve read more about abolition this year than ever before, which is great, but I made it a personal goal to pair insight with action in 2020 so it felt like the right time to step up and do more than learn. Abolition feels like a vast and occasionally overwhelming conceptual goal, but I think engaging with it through a slower activity like writing letters is a good way to operate at the edge of my comfort zone and become more familiar with the concepts in practice.

Third: CR PDX has a mail night once a month where folks can gather on Zoom and write letters together. This is very good. I’ve found a lot of solace in Kat Vellos’s Connection Club during 2020, and am glad for any opportunity to sit in companionable silence with other people (even remotely) and work towards something we all believe in.

Fourth: I needed to plug into something that wasn’t about the election. I wrote many Vote Forward letters and Sunrise Movement postcards to young voters last month, but if 2020 has made one thing inescapably clear, it’s that voting is just the tip of the iceberg. The urgency of this moment makes it easy to feel like getting out the vote is THE most important thing, but our country is failing so many communities right now, and they will continue to face the same challenges on November 4th, and December 4th, and January 4th, and so on.

When people scream “WE’RE OUT OF TIME” I try to take a deep breath and remind myself that I don’t believe in zero-sum games.

Instead, I think about the things I can still work towards next week, next month, or next year. None of this is over. Not racism or injustice or climate change or my creative practice or the love I have for my loony parents or the to-be-read pile on my bedside table—and certainly not the list of letters I signed up to write.

They will very likely reach their destination after the election has come and gone, and there will still be work to do. These days I find that state of ongoingness a comfort rather than a burden.

We get to keep up this practice, day after day. What a gift.


If you’re curious about #WriteThemAll, here are some ways to learn more and get involved:

The 100 Day Project

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Those of you following me on social media may’ve noticed a new series of drawings going up over the last couple weeks! I’m participating in The 100 Day Project, which comes to us via Elle Luna and The Great Discontent. The premise of this project is simple: make something every day for 100 days. That’s all. Could be anything; a written word, a cake, a joke, a drawing, a button. I’ve actually been pitching it as a do anything for 100 days project—so one could even eat an apple a day or something similarly arbitrary. I think it’s the regularity of the ritual that’s important. There’s also value in creating something small every day and using the exercise to break down our inhibitions around perfection, but regularity breeds ritual, and ritual can take many forms.

Anyway, I’ve opted to use up the many, many Scout Books and Field Notes sketchbooks I’ve been accumulating from various events by chronicling 100 objects in my possession with words and pictures.

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Notebooks from Linework NW (designed by Lisa Congdon), XOXO (designed by Brendan Monroe), Reid Psaltis, Scout Books, and Erika Moen.

The format involves a drawing, however crude, and as much context about the item as I can cram on the page. It started here:

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And has continued apace for the last couple weeks.

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I love projects like this that require relatively little commitment on the day-to-day, but add up to something vast over time. I’m really excited to see where this goes. If you’d like to follow along, take a peek at my Instagram page or follow along on Twitter.

The Galaxy of Super Adventure: Fears

Hey Friends,

If you like spaceships, comics, radio drama, and the practice of making things, let me recommend a really fun podcast! The Galaxy of Super Adventure is part one part galactic adventure saga, two parts creative advice round-table. It’s run by my comics pals Ben Hatke, Zack Giallongo, and Jerzy Drozd, and this week’s episode (all about FEAR) features a guest appearance by yours truly!

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I play Bold Space Adventurer and Sensitive Artist Lucy Bellwood, crashing in for a talk about artistic anxiety and self-doubt with the help of my sentient French mustache sidekick, Polly (pictured above).

The whole series is a hoot, and I highly recommend listening to it from the start, but if you just want to jump in for this episode, check it out here. Enjoy!

 

31 Days, 31 Outfits – 2015

Those of you following me elsewhere on the Internet have probably already seen this year’s 31 Days, 31 Outfits challenge, but I finally got ’em all scanned and uploaded into a tiny army, so I figured it was time for an official post. If you’d like to compare notes with 2014’s 31 Outfits, you can take a peek at those right here.

(The Goblin Interlude was brought to you by Evan Dahm and Goblin Week.)

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I hadn’t intended to make this an annual thing, but it’s been really fun both times and I dig getting to see my progress year-to-year, so I guess I’ll be seeing you with another batch of these in 2016!

100 Hands – December 2014 Edition

Long-haul readers of the blog will recall that I have a habit of drawing 100 Hands every now and then, thanks to an exercise set by my mentor Eben Matthews ages ago . Last week I finished my annual pilgrimage, which I now present here for your viewing pleasure. References include: Pixelovely Reference Tool, Animopus Hand Reference Post, and the inimitable Jordi Lafebre.

I like mixing photo reference with work by artists I admire (especially animators) since it keeps me thinking in terms of what can be simplified and exaggerated. There are so many masters to learn from, and the mechanical act of replication plus an awareness of form can work wonders on your technique.

To everyone who looks at this exercise and says “Wow, I could never do that!”, remember that a) all you have to do is draw one hand at a time, and b) even though this batch was drawn in a handful of days, this practice is a process that was set in motion over a decade ago. I really wish I had scans of the very first set of these I ever did in 2003, ’cause lemme tell you they didn’t look so good back then. Heck, they still don’t look so good to me right now, but they’re better. And better is what matters. Here’s some from a little over two years ago, here’s some more from two and a half years ago. Now: a little less stiff, a little more expressive.

Next year? Let’s find out.

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USA! USA!

Well well well, December already and I’m back in the States! I hope you all had a fabulous month.

England and France were absolutely spectacular. I had a sell-out show at Thought Bubble, met a load of great UK creators, explored some of London’s best museums, decompressed in the French countryside, and ate waaaaaaay too much cheese.

(Just kidding. You can never eat too much cheese.)

This is just a quick post to let you all know that my shipping deadline for holiday orders is THIS THURSDAY (December 4th), since I’ll be out of town visiting my family in California for most of December and won’t have access to my stock. If you’ve got a maritime enthusiast in the family, why not get them some quality nautical comics? You can check out all the stuff I’ve got right here. Be sure to request if you’d like me to sign ’em to someone special.

Also, because I feel bad that I don’t have enough time to do a full, in-depth write-up of the trip: have some pages from my sketchbook! (If you’d like to see absolutely everything I’ve done each month, there’s a Patreon tier especially for you! Supporting me making more comics gets you access to exclusive high-res PDFs of all my sketchbook stuff month-by-month.)

That’s all from me for now!

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Proud to say I’ve been back on the sketchbook horse this month after a lengthy fallow period, so I figured it was high time to show my work. Behold! Some nudes from a figure drawing session last week (five- and one-minute poses, respectively):

There’s also a bundle of progress shots from my work on the Charles W. Morgan travelogue, random sketchbook pages, and the odd outfit sketch or two.

Gosh you guys: drawing for fun is FUN. Did you know? I forget sometimes. I’ll try to do another of these before too long!

Figure Drawing Dump

In keeping with various artistic resolutions, I’ve been making an effort to drag myself back to figure drawing on a weekly basis this year. So far so (semi-)good! Here’s a selection of pieces from the last couple sessions:

I’ll try to upload batches of these periodically as I keep dragging myself in. It’s hard practice, but I’m really glad I’m going. Onward!

Monday Sketchdump

GrumBumWEBIn honor of completing my story for Cartozia #3 last week, I decided to do a little warm-up sketch of my two protagonists on Sunday. Meet Grumley and Bumley, cantankerous fishermen at large.

I’ve also been trying to get back into the habit of doing warm-up sketches on a more regular basis, so here are some heads, hands, and hounds.

And then just a few assorted figures I’ve been noodling around with. You might recognize John Elliott (one of my favorite folk musicians at the moment) and Dan Weber (only one B, ignore that note), who played a great gig at Al’s Den a few months ago in Portland. There’s also a dress from the fantastic OMG That Dress tumblr. And me as a pretentious art critic, for reasons unknown.

ALL ART ALL THE TIME. WOO.

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Some days, man.

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This was largely a practice piece to try drawing a comic start to finish in Photoshop. I definitely prefer Manga Studio for inking, but until I upgrade to the new release I’m still more comfortable doing color stuff in PS — though lordy do I still have a lot to learn. This is all because I’ve started a rad secret project with two amazing digital artists (Bridget and Carolyn!) and need to get myself up to speed with their lightning-fast abilities. Anyway, baby steps.

Leave a holler in the comments if you have any favorite digital coloring resources or inspirations!