Not a very Motivational Monday

I try quite hard to keep a positive mindset.  I find that if I focus on the good things in a situation that I do better to get through it.  This year it has been exceptionally challenging to do this.
Some of the problems we (spouse and I) are facing are directly caused by us.  We were doing well at the beginning of the year so we were not managing our money well (less well than I originally thought.)  I quite my stable and good paying job (I do not regret it.)  Now we are plagued by things that are seemingly out of our control but caused by our actions early this year.
My spouse has been unable to get a consistent job.  My art is not selling well (I knew this was going to be the case.) People who want my art are having financial issues as well. I am not able to get a consistent job (waiting on the government to process some paper… really over 9 months!)
We do not qualify for most federal aide as we do not have children nor are we disabled.
I feel that we are in a pit and it is pouring rain out.  The pit is slowly filling with sludge and we are getting covered instead of being able to float to the surface.
My eternal optimism says we will get through this, more or less intact.  There is a part of me that would like to give up the fight and just walk away from everything.  Live off grid in the mountains or something equally as difficult or impossible.
The optimism wins out, because I am an eternal optimist, even if I do not act like it.
In an effort to give myself a boost I found some quotes to share.
I am not drawing the quote today.  I am NOT that optimistic right now.  Plus I am working on getting ready for Jet City Comic Show in Tacoma, Washington this weekend.
Yes, yes, yes.  I want to quit.  I want to hide away and never show my face to the world again.  Yet, I will not.  I want to share my art with everyone.  I want to make them see and feel and think new things.  So I will keep going, because I have not accomplished my goal yet.
I was “busy” Friday.  Sheer stubbornness made me waste a bunch of time on something.  I could have been working on other things.
 I am doing this one.  I have never done a lot of the things that I did this year.  I am learning and growing.
 I make lots of these.  I try a lot.
Thank you for reading.
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Different Strokes

This year I set up some pretty good goals for myself. One of the goals was to do 12 pieces of “fine art.” A sub-goal, that I did not post, was to try different styles so I could learn. This post is the result of reaching that goal.

On dark and foggy morning... I took a photo with my cell phone.

On dark and foggy morning… I took a photo with my cell phone.

In the foggy depths of my morning commute to work (walking,) I took several photos. One was a view of a street on the other side of an over pass. It had this ethereal quality to it, like the lights might wink out at any moment, or maybe start moving, like some sort of foxfire torches in a parade. There was very little color and the trees made a very nice dark screen to complete the mood.

Once I had a good moment to look at the photo I took I decided I would paint it. Not just paint it, but try a different style. I had just been reading about Van Gough and thought that a “Starry Night” treatment could work. I did a teeny bit of research on Van Gough’s brush strokes. I wanted the feel but not the look. It still needed to be mine.

The second painting would be in my normal style, with a color treatment to the lights. Streetlight yellow is to boring for me. Blue would be a neat color and I have an awesome blue that looks great when blended with black or white.

Let’s do this!

I really wanted to do both on 2 panels, but I only had 2 that were the same size. I chose to do the Van Gough version on the two panels and mine on the single panel (probably would have been easier to do it the other way around honestly.)

Street Lights.  Lots of motion and vibrancy for such a foggy morning.

Street Lights. Lots of motion and vibrancy for such a foggy morning.

I started with the Van Gough version. I did not expect the intensity that came with the shorter strokes. “More, MoRe, MORE!” was all my brain and body kept shouting at me. I had such a hard time focusing on the strokes. “Faster, FAstER, FASTER!” My heart was racing and my arms were shaking. I had to stop every 10 – 15 minutes to get control of my mind and body. I have a new respect for anyone who paints with short strokes or in pointillism. It is challenging.

In the end it I think the piece looks like Van Gough ran into Seurat. Globs of paint that slide a bit and stop, then jump to the next. I have not officially named it, I am calling it ‘Street Lights’ for now. I am not sure I even like it. It was very challenging to do, and I learned while doing it. I doubt I will do it again though. I did not like the way I felt while I was painting. Frenzied is the best word I can think of to describe the actions. (It affects me even now, as I type. Frenzied words come from my fingers and my heart is racing. Strong stuff.)

Now my style! I like things calm and smooth. I like to relax and meditate over the strokes. I like to have through blends (where appropriate) and things should flow from one area to the next with little interruption and as few bumps as possible. It really reflects my personality and is probably why I had such an extreme reaction to the other style.

Eldritch Lights Nice and clam, a wee bit creepy, and much more like a foggy morning.

Eldritch Lights
Nice and clam, a wee bit creepy, and much more like a foggy morning.

I ended up doing this version (officially named’ Eldritch Lights’) three times. The first time the matte varnish was clumpy and very streaky. Something I have had issues with in the past, but I was hoping a new bottle would resolve the problems. Nope! I painted over it and tried again. I used a semi-gloss varnish on the second one and it cracked around the spots the other varnish streaked and pulled much of the paint away from the thick areas.

Third times a charm!

I stretched a new canvas and started from a clean slate. It may not look like it, but the trees are full of “fiddly bits” that are time consuming to paint. They require lots of concentration and control. 10-15 minutes of work and I had to walk away to relax my arm and mind. I got it done and I will not varnish it until I can find one that will not mess it up.

In the end I learned while on this project and I got 2 paintings out of one photo (and a LONG blog post.)

Thank you for reading and enjoying my work.

2015 Goals

I have taken my time to come up with some attainable goals for 2015.  Not resolutions, people break those to easily.  Goals are much better,  they are SMART, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Goal 1. Complete12 Fine art pieces this year.  It usually does not take me more than a month to create most of my art.  I do have pieces that are really detailed and take longer.  I also can work on more than one piece at time.  I already have 4 finished pieces and plans for 3 more.

Goal 2. Create 12 Graphic Design / Marketing packets.  This should include a flyer template, business card, and website template.  If this is not challenging enough I can add a FaceBook banner or something similar.  I have plans for 5 already.  I just have to sit down and do it. I also need to work on creating some clip art for various projects that are ongoing. I am working on some flowers, traffic jam, cars, and some monthly banners, to name a few.

Goal 3 Get healthier!  What kind of year would it be without some kind of health goal?  I would like to get healthier this year, lose a few inches and pounds.  I have a figure in mind, but with the injury I received in December (darn irresponsible dog owners)  I have not been able to work out as much as I would like. This also impacts goal 2, since it is painful to sit for more than a few minutes at a time.

Goal 4 Read 10 Books.  This is not a high goal.  I have been known to read three or four books in a 24 hour period.  I really want to finish some books that are non-fiction, Tim Wu’s Master Switch, some coding books and a few more on how social media is changing our minds and perceptions.  I do have to finish a few fiction books to.

Goal 5 (Bonus Goal) Find some meaningful volunteer work.  I have been looking and looking for some kind volunteer work that is meaningful to me. I like to help people but I have found that many people who “need” an artist are looking to take advantage of the artists skills and will work them into depression. It would be cool to help with a mural or some kind of artsy fundraiser. Perhaps an advert on Craigslist or something will help. I have not done that yet.

I am working on some bits for my tutorial series. Updates to those should be forth coming.

Have a good 2015!

To much? A set of thoughts I am having.

I have come to the conclusion that I want to do to much in a small amount of time.  Well…  maybe that is a bad way to put it.  I want to bake the cake from scratch, frost it and then eat it.  If you only have an hour it is not possible to do all three things.  Two of the three maybe, but not all three.

I can not seem to keep focused on any one task right now.  I have so many things started and no real desire to finish them.  My paintings are already done; in my mind they are done.  But I cannot do an art exhibit with the images in my head.  We do not have the technology for that yet.  Some of the things I need to do require me sitting still and thinking about them.  I really don’t want to think about anything right now.  I want to turn into a vegetable and hide in the ground ( a carrot, beet or some other root veg.)

There is just to much going on in my head.  I have tried all sorts of things to get the things organized, but to no avail (woo, spelt that right on the first try!) I was hoping that posting my “to do” list here would help me keep on task, but it has not really helped.  I still have not gone through my PAX2013 photos, I have not finished my mini monochrome painting.  In fact I just started two more paintings!  I have not worked on my WP Theme at all, and I have lost most of my drive to work on the stuff I need to do for my internship.  Oh, and I am moving.

I am usually pretty good about doing the stuff that HAS to be done.  One can push through being uninspired or even work when physically and/or mentally tired.  But when you are lost in your “to do” list, you just get lost.  Where is the way out?  It’s almost impossible for me to pick a task and work on it.  As soon as I do something with another task rears its head and I end up running to put out that little fire.  Then I forget where I was and have to spend all that time finding my place and train of thought to work on the original task.

I am pretty sure part of my problem right now is the moving thing.  Packing and setting up a new house is time consuming and takes a lot of mental and physical work.  Plus it is a change in my lifestyle and mental state.  A lot of my future activities hing on this move. I keep getting into a thought circle of future plans, lots of what-ifs and things that need to be done, that I cannot do anything about until a future date.  Thinking is starting to be a problem… darn it, I like thinking.

Why didn’t I get my degree in graphics?  Oh yeah,  it’s easy for me.  Coding and web design is hard.  One hour of coding takes more mental energy from me than I spend doing 12 hours of graphic design, and I have more to show from the graphic design.  If I ever have the motivation to work on anything, I am sure I could do wonders.  Practice will improve my skills, but I am not really in love with any ideas or concepts right now.  That lack of love is making it hard to be interested in and work on things, especially things that will help me with my chosen career. 

Is my day job part of the problem?  Totally!  I am so tired of my dead end job.  I keep thinking that I should find a new job, or change departments.  As comfy as I am, I am bored out of my gourd.  I get super complacent (really, really, really lazy) and I still can not seem to do anything bad or wrong.  The job is either to easy or I am just that good.  Probably both.  Either way, I need to move on really soon.  Maybe after I move. 

SEE!! That stupid move has me stuck!  Always, after this, after that.  There is never going to be an after, just like tomorrow never really comes.  Tomorrow turns into today, after turns into now.  Argh…

I think I am done for tonight.

I am going to finish my painting inspired by the belly dancers I saw tonight.  The red one will be done tonight, but the blue one is going to take a day or two.  There is more detail on it.




I realize that I shiukd be posting my review of PAX with my pictures BUUUT this is post content is burning a hole in my brain.
I am on my way home and throughly caffinated(oolong green tea with honey) and I haaave to paint. In the midst of moving prep I HAVE to paint. It is a ‘moral imperative’ that I paint tonight. Not start a picture, but do the whole thing,  tonight.
I have three fleshed out ideas for paintings right now. I am going to work on the easier of the three. A red monochrome piece (small version before I put it on a sheet of plywood.) It will have a cherry tree in blossom and mount Ranier. It is going to be really intense.  Then again the person who wants it (the big version) is pretty passionate, so it should be ok.
My other two ideas are much more detailed so I am going to try and wait until I move to do them… I just remembered another big piece I need to do. Light houses on a bay or sound. I need space to stretch the canvas for it though… that one would be good to do too.
Aaarrrgghh!!! Now I am motivate d to do stuff and I do not have the space. Really brain! I really dislike you sometimes.

No pictures right now. I will post some in my gallery and on FB when I finish tonight.

Later peeps

Take a Picture or Paint?


Designed by me, printed on an old school press (lithography press) so the image quality was AMAZING. If you have a printing company you work with ask if they have a litho press and us it for important jobs. The images are always much better, think vector quality smoothness.

Today I picked up my business cards from the print shop.  I am super pleased with how they turned out.  One more thing to cross off my to do list. 

On my way back home I stopped off at the Mat Hat Tea House for a cup of Earl Grey (my fave.)  While I was waiting for my beverage I talked to the employees about tea and another customer joined in (add a 1/2 tsp of sugar to 8-10 oz earl grey to bring out the floral notes.)  Luck would have it he was looking for artists to put some work in a show.  Within 10 minutes of getting my business cards I have a new contact, a possible client and someone that wants to show my art (go me!)

On my way home I got to thinking about the different kinds of picture artist.  Digital, abstract, surreal, realistic, photo real, photographers, paper cutters and so many others.  I was thinking about what makes them different and similarities, the different skill levels and view points that make a person choose to do the different types.


I took this photo with my cell. I wanted to remember the peace I felt at the end of my walk. What does it make you think of?

This came to mind as I thought about the pieces I could do that express my artistic vision, skill and fit within the topic requested. I wanted to plan something that shows my skills as a photographer and painter.  I paint mostly in a surreal style, incorporating a lot of feeling and instinct into my images.  When I want express a view of reality I take photos, when I want to express a feeling about reality I paint. I think that an artist has more control over the image if they paint it themselves.  Because photos rely on technology, the photographer and the subject they can come out unexpectedly.

Even if I were to take a photo and make it into a painting the response would be very different.  Photos are a way of showing the world what you see, with your eyes.  Capturing a second in time that is meant to invoke an emotional or logical response (depending on the photo’s subject) as the viewer process the image.  Paintings and digital art make attempt to invoke an emotional response, before the viewer finishes looking at the piece, a gut reaction or instinctive reaction.


If you are not familiar with color psychology I recommend looking into it. More than the shape of something the color a shape is can make us feel a certain way about it. Red shames are going to make people edgy, while blue shapes make people relaxed. There is a reason why hospitals were green for a long time. Schools used to be a mix of yellows and blues, depending on the subject being taught. It is really interesting and worth research.

As someone who is also interested in marketing, I am VERY interested in how people respond to colors and shapes.  I plan everything I do when I paint or create a graphic.  Photography is about the only time I do things on impulse.  You only have a micro second to get that amazing shot, and our brains are already a few seconds behind.  Even though you can think and plan a shot (usually still life or landscape) the second you bring moving objects into the mix you have to know the area and the movement patterns of your subjects. Once you know and understand the key elements behavior you can go on instinct to get those good and quickly paced shots.

Painting is significantly different.  You get to plan the whole thing, start to finish.  Composition is key to get the response you want.  Using shape, color, flow, and all the other “rules” you can slowly create a masterpiece that will last for ages.  Ultimately you have absolute control when you paint.  The only restrictions you have is your skill level. 


Reach, acrylic on canvas. I wanted to show my desire to move beyond where I was to a new level. Plants grow and these guys are growing from a dim, dark place to a vibrant and exciting blue place. Who knows what colors are past the blue.

 I like to include my view in my paintings.  Even though they are of real things, things I have seen in photos, I add the twist of what my emotional  response was. The painting to the right was done out of a desire to be more motivated.  To get out of a rut and move on.  It is a fairly straight forward image.  Even though everyone is going to interpret it differently, most people will get the idea that is is meant to show growth, transitioning from darkness to light.  An image like this would be very difficult (for me anyway) to do as a photograph.   Being restricted to real things can be a problem sometimes.

I could go on about this topic for a while.  I have been typing for an hour now, trying to get my abstract thoughts and emotions into clear words that have an understandable flow.  Sometimes it is hard for me to put the images in my mind into words for others to read and think about.

I want to spark  thoughts in your mind.  What do you think, feel and understand when you create things?  What messages are you trying to convey with your creations? 

Art does not have to be thoughtless. You can control some of the responses that your viewers experience.




The Creative High

Like many other people I have hobbies.  My primary hobby is “fine art.”  I love to paint and draw.  It is one hobby that I try very hard to protect from becoming a “job.”  I protect it because I always want to have an escape that is still productive and creative.  I paint things for people I know or topics I think are interesting.  I do not sell the pieces, I give them away.  When it stops being fun I take a break from it and try another hobby.

People ask why I like painting.  I usually tell them about the “Creative High.”  The “Creative High” happens to pretty much everyone. In artists and other creative people it is caused by a project turning out as envisioned or much better.  It is that lovely sense of accomplishment that keeps me painting.  It is also what keeps me working on web design projects.

Like fine artists, programmers, developers and designers are artists.  They just use code instead of paints and stone.  Getting a function to work properly is the same as getting the detail in a part of a painting or sculpture just right.  It makes you feel like a genius!  Like you can do anything and everything if you chose.  It only gets better when all the parts work together and you are finished. In fact the harder you have to work for it the better it is.  Your fingers can be cramping and getting that last detail just right makes it all go away.  Some how when you are done your fingers can dance across the keyboard and tell the world (or just your friends) what you accomplished.

The “Creative High” is one of the best feelings there is. 

I got to experience it in C# yesterday.  I was able to complete a method that was giving me issues.  I had an epiphany while I was out walking.  Some things are so easy when you take a step away.

I leave on this happy inspirational note.  Even if your project is hard.  You can finish it.  Just break down the problem and walk away for a bit.  Take a walk.  It is amazing where your brain goes when it is not forced to think about something.  It sees things in a whole new way.

I leave you with two of my paintings that gave me great “Creative Highs.”  I hope you like them as much as I do.

DeathWing Warhammer Banner

DeathWing Banner ~ a Warhammer 40K army ~ by Carissa Carnahan


Cherry Blossoms ~ a Painting for a friends first female child. ~by Carissa Carnahan