the female of the species

Man's timid heart is bursting with the things he must not say, For the Woman that God gave him isn't his to give away; But when hunter meets with husbands, each confirms the other's tale— The female of the species is more deadly than the male. ... So it comes that Man, the coward, when he gathers to confer With his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands To some God of Abstract Justice—which no woman understands.

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going wodwo

Tonight at Studio 2nd Street, the 'Change' show opens. I thought the painting I'm doing was going to just about kill me, but it didn't. (There were a few ugly, ugly moments, though.) About two months ago, when I found out about the show's theme being change, the first thing I thought of was Neil Gaiman's poem, 'Going Wodwo:'


Shedding my shirt, my book, my coat, my life
Leaving them, empty husks and fallen leaves
Going in search of food and for a spring
Of sweet water.

I'll find a tree as wide as ten fat men
Clear water rilling over its gray roots
Berries I'll find, and crabapples and nuts,
And call it home.

I'll tell the wind my name, and no one else.
True madness takes or leaves us in the wood
halfway through all our lives. My skin will be
my face now.

I must be nuts. Sense left with shoes and house,
my guts are cramped. I'll stumble through the green
back to my roots, and leaves and thorns and buds,
and shiver.

I'll leave the way of words to walk the wood
I'll be the forest's man, and greet the sun,
And feel the silence blossom on my tongue
like language.

--Neil Gaiman

I love this poem on many levels; it's one of my favorites. Ever. So I emailed Neil and asked if he'd let me adapt his poem and make it a painting. And a couple of hours later, he said yes, of course, be his guest.

That was, as it turns out, the easy part. Deciding how to do it and what part of the poem to focus on had me in a state. Because, you know, no pressure or anything, when you're only doing something with Neil Fucking Gaiman's work. When I ran into Dave McKean at Comic-Con, I told him I'd gotten myself into this. He laughed knowingly and said, 'And now you're terrified?' I nodded. He smiled and told me it'd be fine.

After I'd decided what to do, and worked out the thumbnails, getting a model was a minor goat rodeo. Finally, my best friend stepped up to the plate, and I took a couple of reference shots Monday afternoon, and got started. About 30 hours over the space of this week later, I finished.

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The color's all off, because it's wet and I'm not good at taking shots of my paintings. It's much more like a Caravaggio in tone.

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This one has the most accurate color of the shots.

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A closeup of the stylized forest background.

In about an hour and a half, I'll be taking this down to the studio, to hang for tonight's show. I'm nervous about whether or not Neil will like it; how it'll go over at the show, and if it will ever dry. If you're in the San Diego area, or just feel like driving to Encinitas, come down to the studio and see it, and me.

Wish me luck.

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getting on my soapbox

But after having gone through an MFA program and years at an atelier, I can confidently tell you that 'talent,' while real, gets you nowhere on its own. You have to be willing to suck; to put your work out there in the real world for feedback; to sit down and learn your craft; and chutzpah sure doesn't hurt. When I first went back to art school, I despaired utterly of ever catching up to the other students, who had not taken any time off to go get writing degrees or careers.

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You know, any day you get an email from your favorite author, it's an awesome day. It's an even more awesome day when the email gives you his blessing to paint one of his poems, because he likes your art. And if he signs it, 'love'?... I'll be on the fainting couch if you need me.

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