Celebrating sisters

In a few days I will turn 33. It doesn't weird me out one bit. Not one...

Mid August, I started a painting class at my old community college in town, and as I gawk at the kids there, embarking on their educational path, I feel kind of ancient. This is silly because I'm not even in the "middle" of my life. I've just completed about a third of my life. I have so much to learn, and I'm honored to be in that class, but I guess perspective on how far I've come is also a useful tool.

That said, with 33, I'm happy to say that I've made it over a weird hump of frustration and confusion about what I'm supposed to do and how I'm supposed to live.

This I learned: THERE ARE NO RULES.

I was waiting for something spectacular to click the last 4 years. Like a kind of understanding of my sexuality, my talent, how status worked, and how to do a "good job", but no I think all that is just a ploy into buying stuff to make me think I'm doing it right and abiding by "the rules". Those magazines and their ads are so effective!

No no no, I'm always learning, trying my best, and will continue to do this. That's the only truth, and nothing will ever click except the seatbelt in my convertable of freedom that comes along with having NO IDEA what life is about. Ha!

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I have a twin, by the way. She's amazing and smart and sassy, and she is a good mirror to me, showing me that there are lots of other humans going through the same things as I am, and maybe just sharing and hugging each other is all I need to do to feel sparks fly. And make art. That makes sparks fly, too.

I ALSO moved back to my hometown and I feel wildly grounded but also like a barefoot child with boundless appreciation of the oak trees and various fruit trees in my neighborhood. *I'm so happy to be home.

Spacious Process

Some have asked about how I go about illustrating the Spacious Tarot cards, so I thought I'd give an insider's look into the process. Until a month ago, I strictly used a Wacom cintiq, but I've since switched over to an ipad. I continue to work in Photoshop, however, so I recommend downloading astropad so you can work PS on your tablet.

Here's how I start. A sketch!

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I love working with fake, digital pencil brushes because my heart flutters over texture. From there, Carrie and I talk about the composition and make sure it's clear what w'ere trying to communicate with each card.

Next I "ink" it and drop in basic color. I use Kyle Webster brushes, usually the "rough inker comics" brush and the "big wide softy" and "big fat spongy" thing to add a little sumin' sumin'.

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As you can see, there's not a lot happening at this point, so from here I start adding darker tones and some lighter tones to create contrast.

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We're getting somewhere! Once I can get here, then the rest feels like frosting a cake. I usually play with tones for a bit, but after that I add details and texture, focusing on strong lighting.

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Believe it or not, this almost the finished card. After adding a couple more highlights and darker shadows to give it that "pop", I do a watercolor overlay, which ever card has, so that it feels organic and deep.

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This is always where the magic happens for me. I love this particular overlay and the slight pink hue it gives to the card, bringing out the purples.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the 4 of cups in its many stages. See you soon!

-Annie

Refuge oh Refuge

At least 40, probably more, slightly larger than life figures sit inside an inflatable boat, waiting for land. Some have horns, some wear ornate collars, and some look like Nefertiti. There are a clan of mythical creatures, historical figures, and nameless men and children, that are searching for hope. Constructed by thin lengths of bamboo that wrap around them in ovals upon ovals, they are fragile as well as strong. They long for space and peace, knowing that they are barely there to the eyes of others. They are hollow and subtle energetically to the western world, yet immersed in theirs you would feel the weight and distress, and crumbling flesh. This is Ai Weiwei's "Life Cycles" at the Marciano Art Center in Los Angeles.

Refuge: a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.

A human right.

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After the show, I clambered upstairs to see some hidden galleries (the place is so much bigger than it looks when you first enter). And came upon Andrea Bower's piece.

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I was delighted to see this piece, because a little spark tickled me, knowing that refuge is found in art, in cultivation of good things in our lives. To seek refuge, we are seeing safety and peace. Sometimes this is external, God forbid it is, and I hope our world can work on helping everyone find safe homes, decent food, and warmth. But many people also seek internal refuge, knowing that even though they are in a warm house, their hearts are longing for a closeness to… the everything. To the joy that we all can experience, but for some reason don’t know how to just “turn on”.

I see this joy as something kids play so easily with. They run around, chasing each other and laughing their heads off. No cash required.

Sometimes, when I need refuge, I light a candle, turn on some soft music and bring out my art supplies and tarot deck. I’ll pull a card or two and let it speak to me. Usually the cards bring forward a theme that I can then work with in a small art piece. This is why I’m so excited to share the tarot deck that I’ve been working on with all of you. I find tarot, basically, art therapy. Images can help us literally SEE what’s going on for us, where talking or reading a book may not touch the abstract place that we need to view from. Of course, with all internal work, our power is within, but tarot can be such a lovely catalyst to accessing that power.

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Photo by Carrie Mallon

Keep track of the tarot deck and potential release dates on instagram: @thespacioustarot !

Love,

Annie

Working on your thing

It's a constant challenge, but that's because all practices are about balance. Our art practice is no different, but it's worth the time regardless of the frustration that ensues. In fact, I'm getting use to this idea of struggle. Life is no cruise, ok? Sometimes we get to board a pretty ship and eat the breakfast buffet, other times we have to work in the kitchen and wait tables. I think it's good for us to have healthy dose of both.

Dr. Jordan Peterson- a brilliant mind- said, "Responsibility gives us purpose, and purpose gives us meaning." Ok, I'm paraphrasing this a bit, but the guts are in that notion. When I focus on the fact that my work is done in order to contribute to my peers, to children, and even support other's persuits, then I have more gumption and energy to do the work well. I am so grateful I even have the opportunity to dink around with paints and photoshop and make things! How cool is that?

And when it comes to our personal art practice, we won't have ALL the time, but we have some time, and usually some time is enough time. And sharing our own ideas is such a gift to everyone around us. It's a way of sharing our story, or true selves, and it empowers others to see parts of themselves they hadn't before.

Here's what I'm working on: The picture book is moving along and wowzas I am happy with where it's landing.

New revised spread for “Sometimes it’s Bright”.

New revised spread for “Sometimes it’s Bright”.

The middle grade novel is in its final editing stages before I submit it to my agent. I am LOVING working in black and white. That is all.

Concept art for “Dream Walker”.

Concept art for “Dream Walker”.

On another note, 2019 is the year I do scary things. One of those things was performing in a sketch show at Upright Citizen's Brigade, Lod Angeles, last weekend. The sketches were hilarious! Yes, I was nervous, but in the end, I did my best, and it was really about supporting the ensemble. Their skills helped me play my part, and my efforts and energy fed them.

What's next? Not exactly sure, but I'm thinking a writing class?!

-Annie