Sunday, October 29, 2017

Original Art Sundays No. 260: Sharp Invitations: Linda, middle page

I'm rather proud of this page. I'll tell you about it in a minute, when I'm done crying.
I was all set to do the next page in the Curt saga. But I had some talks with friends, both trans and cis, that took me back to the early days of transition and the end of my marriage. Many of my trans friends have had relationships that survived the process of them becoming themselves. I am happy they are so blessed, and know (suspect) that theirs is not an easy road either. Much as Linda and I loved each other, the kindest thing we could have done for each other when I came out was to part ways.
But it sure didn't seem like it at the time. Not to either of us.
I could not get this out of my head. This had to be the next page I did.
I like writing on this a lot. It hurts like hell, but I think it's solid writing.
It sums up the desperation and bitterness we both felt as our life together careened to its inevitable conclusion.
I honestly don't remember if that song (There Is A War, from Leonard Cohen's third album, New Skin for the Old Ceremony) was playing in reality as she said that, but it certainly echoed in my head and in my heart right then. The irony and bitterness of the line was so precise, so cutting.
"You cannot stand what I've become, you much prefer the gentleman I was before."
Well, yeah.
She did.
Somehow I don't think this is quite what Leonard had in mind, but once you've considered it that way, there's no other way to hear it.
I had betrayed her by being myself, and she betrayed me by being betrayed.
In fairness, while she did say that line, she said it with much more kindness than I've shown here. And she said it in the response to the fatal, desperate question, "how do I look?"
This page does something I've been trying to avoid. It shows me as an adult male. While the reality of that past is inevitable and must be in this book, I don't want to see myself that way, let alone share that with anyone who knows me now. Inevitable as it is, it feels like I'm betraying myself to do these particular pages.
But truth is capricious. It's also elusive. Even in this, I'm going to put myself in the most flattering light possible, even when I'm engaged in the most dishonorable acts, like taking someone's husband away, as I did here.
There's so much more to the story of Linda and me. And dear readers, please don't paint her as a villain from this page. She's a complex and loving person who only did right by me, as you'll learn when the rest of the story is told.
Production notes: backgrounds continue to vex me, but in a very different way. I did a very nice background/environment for this page, but much of the detail was obscured by the placement of the figures. The page could use more heavy blacks, but it serves as is. I wanted to use the layout to show distance between us, even in the same room. I also wanted to show my emotional rigidity at the time. I was just a few months on hormones, and would cry at the drop of a pin (as opposed to my present stoic and stable emotional state, of course). I felt like I had to  be in complete control, and the more things fell apart, the more I felt a failure if I didn't maintain composure.
Tools used on this page:
Photoshop (update 2018)
Canson recycled Bristol  board
Straightedge, triangle, T-square
Alvin flexible S curve
lead holder and No. 4 soft lead
Iyota .06 fine line marker
Dr. Martin's Black Star Walnut India Ink
Crow quill pen
Princeton No. 4 synthetic round brush
Faber Castell 40% gray brush marker
Magic rub erase
Next: either back to the Curt story or a revisiting of Tranny Towers.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Original Art Sundays No. 259: Sharp Invitations: Curt, p. 13

Posting on a Sunday again. That's good. Life remains hectic, but I turned a corner on a couple things in my personal life this week. I won't elaborate here. Suffice to say that some things are more manageable.
When we left our heroine (me) and Sara, I had just spoken my attraction to her.
Read on.
Just the facts, ma'am: That's exactly what she said to me before we kissed.
Sara was not the first trans woman I was interested in, but (not to deride her predecessor), she was the first one that mattered. The previous one was an act of desperation as my marriage was ending and I was feeling unloved and running scared. Was this also desperation as Curt's abuse began to manifest itself? Maybe on some level, but the most important thing to me was my attraction to her. Then and there, nothing else mattered.
To be completely clear, and for the umpteenth time, this is not how Sara looks, nor her proper name.
Technical notes: the inks were fairly cooperative today. When considering the background, I went with angled strokes, a technique I used on a page of A Private Myth years ago. It works to make the figures pop.
The lamp, however, is another story.
The intent was to anchor the setting with an element from the opposite side of the room, 90 degrees off. That way, when you see the lamp on the opposite side, you have a sense of motion and place.
Nice idea, but I don't think it works.
For one thing, while it's technically accurate, the lamp is pretty blah to look at, and adds very little visually. For another thing, it doesn't really communicate space the way I hoped it would. When I was done with it, I thought it was a separate and rather boring drawing that just happened to be on the same board. So I took the lamp out. Here is the result.
I hope you agree that it's better this way. I continue to work on my environments, but the old axiom remains valid. Sometimes less really is more.
I used one of my favorite devices here, making a complete border by dropping out opposite edges. I like that one. It gives a sense of unity, while still allowing plenty of air.
Materials used on this page:
Canson recycled Bristol board
Ellipse templates, triangle, T-square
Dr. Martin's Hi-CArbon Walnut Ink (continue to love this stuff)
Princeton #4 round synthetic brush (also rapidly becoming a favorite)
Crow quill pen and nib
Faber Castell 20% gray brush marker
Magic Rub eraser
Next: either the next page of this story or the long promised new Tranny Towers piece.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Original Art Sundays No. 258: Ida

I'm back from vacation. Only did a couple drawings during my week in New Mexico. I did make music with some wonderful friends, including members of Gentle Giant! I played better and had great fun, as well as learning a lot, especially from drummer Malcolm Mortimore, who took me under his wing for a much-needed lesson on pacing.
The next page of Sharp Invitations is laid out and ready to hit the board, but I want to resolve a couple more pages before I go to inks on this one. In the interim, here's an ink piece.
I'm not doing the full Inktober experience. I will ink as much as possible this month. I learned a great deal last year from copying the work of people whose work I revere. I hope to expand on that experience this year, but I simply don't have time to ink every day right now, much as I would like to.
When cleaning some old files, I found an obituary of Ida Lupino, a woman whose work, integrity and singular beauty always impressed me. The obit included a remarkable photo of her, very sultry.
I've always loved that word. Sultry.
I've been meaning to draw from that photo for decades. Since I'm not working on the old magnum opus today, this seemed to be a good time. The finished product doesn't look like the original. I'm not even sure it looks like Ida Lupino. But I like it anyway.
Production notes: Be very careful when working with that Dr. Martin's Black Star Walnut Ink! Yes, it's a full, lush black. Yes, it flows smoothly and is fairly easy to control. But man alive, does that stuff smear if it's not set! I gave the Acrylic White and the correction brush quite a workout on this one.
There's a bit of dry brush on this. Love dry brush, but still working on controlling it. Some of the hair textures were done in dry brush.
In terms of layout, it's a bit of a shock the way the left arm fades to black, but it's effective. The lights and darks of this are so noir, so compelling. Not surprising, since Lupino was one of a handful of women to direct film noir. Her work Outrage was one of the first films to treat rape survivors with any real empathy.
As anyone who had been following my work for a while knows, hands are often my bane. I'm happy with the drawing of these.
I could have pushed the gray values farther in places, but it seemed time to step away.
Pentalic paper for pens
Martin's Black Star Walnut Ink
FW Artist's Acrylic White
#0 Tight Spot brush
Princeton #4 Round brush (just got this a couple weeks ago, and I love it)
Princeton #4 scumbling brush
Magic Rub eraser
Next: More Sharp Invitations, if I don't do a new Tranny Towers piece.