In Which Pride Goeth Before a Long, Hot Summer

And our shadows are taller than our souls. Which I’m still not sure means anything, but it sounds damned good.

It’s Pride Sunday, an unofficial holiday that demarcates a lot of admonition and exhortations to be oneself, yourself, our true selves.

This is a day to celebrate differences, and particularly gayness with several allied associated bands of people trying to be their authentic selves. Celebrating as a marginalized group is empowering, and the history of Pride bears that out.

But I was reading an article in Scientific American on ways we either misunderstand or overlook what qualities we call “true,” or “authentic.” And there are multiple ways we fool ourselves into thinking we know what we mean by all of it.

But the article strikes an inspiring note by the end, even as it tears apart our cursory understanding of authenticity.

Healthy authenticity is an ongoing process of discovery, involving self-awareness, self-honesty, integrity with your most consciously chosen values and highest goals, and a commitment to cultivating authentic relationships.

We choose who we want to be as much as we reveal who we are by being honest, internally. We can be proud of that, too, and keep trying to become more of that ideal self, choosing the qualities we most admire.

Animals and Mystery in Tamsin Abbott’s Fusion of Magic and Glass

Raycomb House, by Tamsin Abbott

Tamsin Abbott builds wonder from carefully etched drawings on stained glass, usually hand-blown (Abbott tends to use “mouth-blown”) by other craftspeople.

Stained glass not only glows with intense color, it has deep religious connotations. Abbott’s work hints at this spirituality, but resonates with older, more animistic tales and associations.

It’s exciting to see other artists on related paths, and I wish I’d found these wonderful works when I was working on my own series of mythic animal-centric pieces. The inspiration would’ve been fascinating, I’ve no doubt.

Angela Harding Creates Nonverbal Narratvie and Mystery

Three hares stare nervously from a tangked shrub in front of a lit house and distant figures in the snow

“We Three Hares” by Angela Harding

There are a few artists doing something not too far from the things I’m experimenting with. Animals in stories, more abstract forms, saturated color. Angela Harding has a woodcut feel to most of her work, and it’s edging more into the commercial print realm than I usually want to go. But I don’t want to ignore that world, either.

Harding is—and rightly so, I’m sure—taking advantage of the attention on her work to expand her venues to merchandising and business commissions. And why not? There’s more snobbish division than I like between illustration and “fine art,” and I don’t think either is superior.

Her work has an art of the mysterious, a little Gorey in there, some dark shadows contrasting the playfulness of the scenes.

You’re Not Usually Done At the First Try, Sometimes It Takes Many

I sometimes return to this video to remind myself how often it takes more than a few viewpoints and a handful of revisions to get the best version of a work of art.

It’s telling that it took multiple people multiple attempts to get to the finished initial Star Wars film. Most familiar, probably, is the advice to writers that the first draft is only the beginning of the writing process. Musicians’ demos are another example of an idea that was often made into something greater.

It’s not that art always has to be deeply refined. Sometimes the spontaneity is the reason for a piece. But generally, the idea is brought into sharper focus and more resonant emotional power by honing, tweaking, shifting, and occasionally rebuilding from the parts.

The Beginning of Rebirth and Renewal, Through This Devin Townsend Song

Let there be light
Let there be moon
Let there be stars and let there be you
Let there be monsters, let there be pain
Let us begin to live again

The video is a bit distracting, but I find the words a thrill, even as some make me laugh. This is a valuable, rare quality in art of any kind, and Devin is better than most at pulling it off.

It’s helpful to have a reserve of these kinds of messages, things to tell yourself that help you keep going. Discouragement is often part of making art, like frustration. There’s excitement and satisfaction, too, but those don’t need encouraging memes to return to work. Sometimes all I need is a simple nudge that it’s meaningful to be doing it.

Joan Jonas’s Art Ecology Reflects the Ocean’s

Joan Jonas has an installation at Ocean Space, a new exhibition venue made to facilitate artists and scientists studying the oceans. It’s fascinating and eclectic. Jonas incorporates performance, sculpture, video, drawing, and painting into the work, which may not be fully finished till the end of its run in September.

She’s paralleling the natural ecology of the sea with a kind of ecology of artistic practice. Everything works together as a whole piece, no one element is meant to stand on its own. They feed and support each other.

Julia Iredale’s Haunting Conceptualscapes

I don’t put a lot of illustrators on the blog, even though I have a soft spot for many, and probably more of my art books feature them than any other type. I really like Julia Iredale’s work, however, and love her sense of color. She often chooses limited palettes, moving deftly through various line styles to suit the piece.

I’ve found quite a few that would fit a “mood” meme post, and Iredale is among the few whose work is deceptively simple, incorporating clever arrangement and scale to tell stories with image alone.

Paul Pope and Battling Boy, a Wild and Weird Vision of Gods and Other Worlds

It took me a long time to start—and then to finish—Battling Boy, the first in a series by Paul Pope, of comics fame and renown. I don’t think the expected continuation of the series has happened, at least not yet. Other books in the series are prequels. This first volume ends pretty abruptly.

But Paul has always been adept at crafting future worlds very unlike the tropes of shiny, glowing science fiction films and TV shows. His are gritty, chunky, dark, and diverse visions, and I find them endlessly inspiring and fun. He always seemed assured and able, where I felt the very opposite of those things.

Paul was among the few creators, including my cousin and me, who did a co-signing event back in the early 90s. It was my first one, ever, at Comix Experience in San Francisco. Paul brought the first THB, a massive 104-page issue, and seemed to me both then and now to be something of a rock star. A rock star wielding a brush as his instrument.

But for someone so clearly destined for worthy praise and continued success in the field, he was always kind and encouraging to me and my work. Technically, he was a peer, though I looked up to him and his confident process for being miles ahead of me and my stuff.

It still seems appropriate, the rock star mantel, as he’s grown in skill and popularity over the years. His stories and art are wonderful and strange, drawing all his influences through his brain and onto the page. I loved entering this world, and I’ll be there if and when he continues the story.