Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Positive visualization

I did this illustration for my friend S. (isn't she hot?) who requested help in her quest to find true and passionate love, self love, and greater happiness. So, for S. some positive visualization. Wish I could do more (besides this and aiding and abetting your ongoing adventures whenever possible) but you have what it takes, the perfect, gorgeous package, truly stunning inner beauty. Just let yourself shine and it'll all happen as it should.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Yet more (mis)adventures for L. and I

Wednesday L. and I, at the suggestion of our friend who I'll refer to as Mr Party (all the time), went to our first gay bar in the Castro, complete with gogo dancers on a tiny stage ...This prompted the discussion would we have a menage a trois if a woman was the third person? Answer : yes, but only if we found the woman attractive. No such opportunity happened to us that night (would we really have done it? I don't know) but Mr P was offered (and refused) some cocaine, an offer, he said, he got a lot. Why? I wondered. At first glance Mr P does not look like a Mr P. He looks, to me, like a lawyer or an accountant. The sort of person (duh) who can afford a little cocaine appetizer to go with his vodka and cranberry.

Friday, we did another pub/club crawl (Atmosphere, Rhy, that place in North Beach again for 80's night) and who should we run into (at Rhy) but the notorious acquaintance a la Golden Gate Park hike/Mr Constant Complainer. I'd hoped never to see him again but he joined our party of two nonetheless. (Quelle menage a trois.) Fine, I thought, he and L. can hang out while I enjoy the dance floor. But he suggested dinner (pizza, Steps of Rome, North Beach) so of course I was obliged to converse with him. And I have to say, no, I'm glad to say L. was right about him...and I was wrong. Oh, yes he still carried his little rain cloud, still tried to 'mess with us' in his perhaps clumsy attempts at dark humor. Is it, we wondered, a defense mechanism, an exterior protecting his delicate insides? In any case, because I wasn't hungover and therefor able to reply and retort to the best of my abilities, I didn't dislike him as much as I did before. Good for me.

I wish I had more weekend adventures to report (why? Is two not enough? The busier I am the busier I want to be) but I'd promised myself to get my resume and portfolio (printed and online) in order this weekend (am sending it off to Pixar this week). And after spending an entire gorgeous and warm Saturday indoors my resume is, for now, updated. I must admit I've always been a bit touchy about it. Unlike many of my former classmates I can't list Dreamworks, Lucas or Disney there (yet). Just small, unknown or now defunct companies as well as jobs I'd not wanted to do but did anyway to pay the bills. But after finally giving myself credit where credit was due and adding relevant accomplishments I can appreciate my professional past and am rather sad I didn't before. My resume screams creativity, enthusiasm, determination and skill. So I hope it's only a matter of time before I join the big leagues.

Thank goodness for rewrites.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some imaginary shopping then on to other things

My latest creation, besides all the stories in my head. Maybe it's because I'm so wisely abstaining from unnecessary materialistic consumption that I'm currently preoccupied with materialistic consumption. Coach, Kate Spade, Jimmy Choo, Ann Taylor, Anthropologie...Oh well, this little miracle of computing technology cost me nothing but time.

On to other things, I'm recovering from a mild case of bronchitus and instead of taking things in my stride I've been busy making a lot of trouble for myself by feeling this is not fair, I should not be feeling this way. And so the resume I've been updating has become a testament to my disappointing career, all the things I'd planned to do by now and didn't. A news report connecting Asians who turn red from alcohol (like I do) and an illness I'd rather not cope with has had me lamenting my heritage. Having trouble falling sleep because of coughing, reason enough to wake up in a bad mood.

Then there's people who've hurt us in the past, people who are so wounded they're always ready to strike, and are still around to potentially hurt us again. There's a person like this in my women's circle, who I myself brought in because I felt sorry for her. And by the time I realized how toxic she could be she'd already become part of the group, bringing into it an element of competitiveness and judgment not there before. I'd brought an office friend, a frenemy, into my comfortable circle of support. But trying to give her the benefit of the doubt and knowing she wanted to be taken seriously as an artist, I tried to help her as much as possible. I introduced her to the owner of a gallery I myself hoped to get into. After telling me (for the second time) he liked my work and might include some of it in an upcoming show he then told her, as gentlemanly as possible, that hers was not quite right for his gallery. She argued with him for ten minutes, looked around his gallery, then argued with him another ten minutes. And though I tried to make her feel better at the time, I also sensed (but tried to tell myself otherwise) that she hoped I wouldn't get in either. (I didn't, quite possibly because I came in there with her.) Still, I've learned to (reluctantly) accept her as part of the group. We'll never be close but we can at least be civil to one another. But Monday, during dinner with nearly everyone, feeling tired and cranky, I had to practically pinch my forearms to keep myself from shouting, shut up! shut up! Shut the f---- up you self absorbed b-----. I've heard these stories how many times now!? Shut up!

Was this the bronchitis speaking? Or a lingering resentment towards someone I'm working to develop more compassion towards but who I too often instead think of as a difficult and monumental b----?, I have to say I'm not sure. According to Judith Orloff the point of having emotions is to learn how to transform them. Frustration into patience, anxiety into calm, fear into courage. I have to remember that I learned to forgive my father who did and said far worse things to my siblings and I, always deliberately, than anything this woman has ever done unconsciously. However much he hurt me, I got over it. I healed. And I am who I am today thanks in part to him.

So, I confided these lingering bad feelings I still carry, along with my other worries, to L. yesterday. I felt embarrassed and a bit ashamed to admit to them but she only said (and I'm about to cry here) that I'm a friend she will carry in her heart forever. No telling me, oh, get over it already. No judgment whatsoever. Just love, support and respect. Then she treated me to dinner.

My circle of support remains unbroken. Thank you L., I love you, too.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chocolate weekend

This weekend L. and I went to the SF Chocolate festival. Having never been to one before we expected chocolate fountains, chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, gorgeous chocolate sculptures. Well, we found no chocolate fountains, nor any ice cream and pastries. But this didn't get us down because we did find over fifty tables covered with goodies like this....alongside their free samples...
This gorgeous sculpture...
And this adorable little guy who probably didn't get any chocolate. No wonder he looks so sad...
We also had a little too much of this...
Chocolate flavored vodka, yum, yum...
So that by the end of the day we went here... because we really needed this...
Esspresso is definitely more enjoyable when sipped from a martini or shot glass. Think I'll make it part of my morning routine. And considering all we'd consumed and imbibed at the event, and how we'd filled our goody bags with at least a pound, maybe two, of gourmet chocolate, the $20 entrance fee was well worth it. Plus it was so much fun. We were like little kids at Christmas running from table to table collecting our gifts. It was a great end to a so/so bordering on moody dark blue week.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The further misadventures of L. and I

In our ongoing quest to widen our horizons and enjoy life to the fullest, this weekend L. and I went to North Beach where we ran into some acquaintances. We hung out a bit but with the band playing a great mix of 80's rock and new wave, I left them for the dance floor. I was more than happy dancing by myself but somewhere along that evening I met a very tempting fellow who tried his best to seduce me. Despite his smoldering stare and his resemblance to Antonio Banderas I said no because he also looked like he was in high school. He showed me his ID to prove he was indeed legal. But he was still only twenty two. And I am...oh boy...

I then met another guy who bought me a very strong drink (on top of two other drinks, oo! what a mistake) and introduced me to his friends. After dancing with each of them in turn he then asked if I was interested in a menage a trois. What? I was too surprised to answer him. "I think that's a yes," he said smiling.

Taking refuge in the bathroom I had to laugh about all that had just happened. How far was I willing to go in my quest to savor life to the fullest? The idea of a threesome had never appealed to me. Then again I'd never had this kind of opportunity until that night. Then again I consider myself a good, moral person, my body is a temple and all that. Then again at the end of my life (a hundred years from now) will I regret not experimenting more?

In the end I did nothing more daring than to ask one of the acquaintances to go hiking with L. and I the next day. Unfortunately I also went to sleep without eating or drinking anything to settle my stomach and I woke up too sick to keep anything down. I should have stayed home instead but thinking of our promise to increase our circle of friends, especially male friends, and the hope that L. and the acquaintance might really hit it off, I forced myself to get ready.

I'd thought that the acquaintance seemed nice enough. But, while hiking in Golden Gate Park, I gradually got the feeling that I should have stayed home after all. Because I was hung over, causing L. and I to be an hour late, he kept teasing me about being a 'lush.' When I went to the ladies room he jokingly asked if I'd been praying to the porcelain gods. Then there was his general inability to hold a conversation and the fact that when he did speak it was only to say something cynical and acidic. To top it off, he had the nerve to joke that I'd not done enough to entertain him. Feeling the way I did, exhausted and not at all my best physical self, his joke and it's implication, that I was responsible for his amusement or lack of seemed the height of disrespect and immaturity. And I wanted to say, what the f---? You with the the pinched look of the perpetual complainer, there's nothing in the world that could amuse a bore like you. But knowing L., who sees the best in everybody, who calls herself 'shy' when she's really unbelievably brave, would tell me there's probably more to him than than the cynicism I saw, I held my tongue.

I read somewhere, maybe in a Deepok Chopra book or The Secret, that as a person progresses spiritually they often run into people and situations that test how much they've really grown. So here I am at this particular stage, (I think I'm) more positive, more at ease, more hopeful and content than ever before (or am I?). So perhaps it's no accident I should run into people who challenge just how open I want to be or how positive and clear sighted I really am.

Enough of that though. I had a great dinner with my girlfriends last night. Other adventures await. And Steve Wozniak is dancing on tv. Life is still awesome.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A play of imperfection

My latest piece. As a recovering perfectionist I've decided to take my illustrations in a simpler, looser, and more graphic direction combining hand drawn and computer created elements. I also want to experiment more, go in surreal directions now and then, and I want my work to be full of happy accidents. Oops! That line just veered off the other way. Oh well. I was inspired by the British illustrator Alex Green (link to the left) whose work is strikingly gorgeous. I love, love, love his work. No more striving after perfection. I never attain it anyway.

Spoken word therapy

Things are slow on the workfront right now. My agency, Emerging Blue, was kind enough to tell me all their artists are being affected. So I'm relieved to know it's not me. And with various projects and a few art shows to get ready for, and another possible show in Seattle (a place I've always wanted to visit so I'm crossing my fingers on this one) my schedule is full enough.

And yet...grrrr.... I find myself resisting an artistic temper tantrum these days. Might be my hormones. Or my occasional trouble falling asleep. Or my need for more sunshine and exercise. I don't know. Even an artist wants to feel needed. It's the not knowing that compels me towards the sugar aisle: when will work start to come in? Will I sell a painting today thereby giving myself more breathing room? Last week, I was so proud of myself, I bought a week's worth of groceries for $20. Tea, noodles, eggs, some fruit and veggies can go a long way. (I didn't have to spend so little. I wanted to.) At least I know, according to the news, I'm not in this situation alone. And I know from my many artistic tantrums in the past that self pity is not helpful. And I don't like how it feels, like wearing a coat two sizes too small. What's needed is a change of focus and a widening of perspective. So, today I started the search for volunteer opportunities through idealist.org. Maybe I'll volunteer at a theatre or a children's or senior's center teaching art. And last night I went out with my friend L. to the Starry Plough for some spoken word therapy.I love spoken word. I've tried it in the past, reading a poem and a three minute story to a crowd of supportive ears. The high I felt afterwards is like none I've ever felt from an art reception. (Not that I'd ever give up painting.) It is an open hearted give and take, an intimate connection between artist and art lover. Once, at the Starry Plough, their feature poet was this rather plump, ordinary looking man who sat quietly in the corner until it was his turn to perform. When he did he transformed entirely reading Yeats like he was Bruce Springsteen in concert.

Anyway, last night, there was a good mix of poets, young and old, male and female. This guy, can't remember his name, read a great poem about an angel called Sambo trying to save a group of gang members who threaten to shoot him in an alley.....
They shoot him anyway, and when they see him unhurt resolve to change their ways. His poem is so much better than my summarization.

This lady read a poem about dancing in Cuba. Very sexy.

As was this lady's poem. She was a newbie. Very brave.

This amazing guy had to be helped onto the stage. But when he started to read it was evident there's still a lot of fire in his eighty eight year old bones.

This guy, Kevin Sparks, performed a poem about his depression. One line stuck with me, "Those of you who are one coffee away from good morning, how are you? You are national parks in the psychic landscape. I will visit you one day." Oh! I know how that feels.
Chris Blake (or was it Drake?) was the big event of the evening. His best poem was entitled, "Porn" which caused some of us ladies to roll our eyes. From his swagger and stare he gave the impression he meant to be a jerk. It starts with HD and how porn stars are losing work because now viewers can see every wrinkle, bad makeup job and dimply flaw on their not so perfect flesh. Because of HD they now look, he said, like real women. This caused a lot of us to groan out loud. But then he goes into this long, extraordinary speech about how much he loves his woman and her flaws and what it's like to be with her, all with a rhythm and flow that mimicked, whether he intended it too or not, making love. He was awesome.

And this lady, Kat, was the night's winner. Her poems were so passionate and heartfelt she at times had to fight back tears.With $100 prize money at stake maybe I should give it another try....

Lesson learned: I am so hungry to experience life that sometimes I want to kick and scream about having to appease my appetite on a budget right now. But, like I've said before, coffee with a friend, an event that takes the focus away from myself, art, work, helping someone else, looking towards the future, these things save me time and again from falling into another dark hole. And yet this delicate balance, with my occasional stumbles, is also what helps me to be a better artist and human being. I can listen to a poet talk about his pain and empathize rather than recoil. Or another about her outrage and want to put my arm around her shoulder rather than tell her what she should do. And today I can channel my experiences good and bad into another work of art. How blessed am I.
In short: life is awesome.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My can't wait to do list

My friend J. and I went for a non strenuous hike in Golden Gate Park today starting from the Conservatory of Flowers all the way down to Ocean Beach then back again... ...And we both had things to lament with both of us facing a major (ly traumatic) life marker at the end of the year (among other complaints). But this being the first sunny and warm Saturday we've enjoyed in a long while, we also wanted to focus on what glorious things we have to look forward to. So we brainstormed a list (besides the obvious, mate, children) of what we want to experience one day, things we will do before we die (which, of course is like a hundred years from now).....

1. Go to Norway, Sweden or the Yukon to see the Northern lights.
2. Go to Iceland, Sweden or Greenland in the summer to experience never ending daylight.
3. Club and bar hop in Paris, if single go home with sexy French dude for sort of night one might regret were one to do same here.
4. Go to Greece for week of play and healing.
5. Visit Istanbul, Turkey, see whirling dervishes, etc.
6. Climb Matterhorn in a.m., eat local cheese fondue in p.m.
7. Spend at least one night in a castle and a chateau, preferably one which serves complimentary whiskey or brandy in room on fancy silver tray. And is haunted.
8. Go to goth club dressed like her...
9. Go to Alaska.
10. Go to as many Paris cafe's as possible to sample hot chocolate and to find out once and for all which one serves the best.
11. Go to Prague, eat gigantic apple pastry.

Sadly, we got sidetracked by the idea of hot chocolate and pastry, but since then I've thought of several more...

12. Take cooking and advanced language class somewhere in France.
13. Go to beach anywhere in the Aegean, Indian and Mediterranean oceans, feel the water wash over my bare feet.
14. See Ankor Wat.
15. Go to Dharamsala, hear/see Dalai Lama.
16. Go to Vatican City for Easter Service with Pope.
17. Work on major film project.
18. Publish novel(s) and book(s) of essays.
19. See Bruce Springsteen and U2 in concert.
20. Go to Irish/Scottish pub, see next U2 or Van Morrison play.
21. Spend season in French or English countryside painting masterpieces. Exhibit masterpieces in London and/or Paris.
22. Write and illustrate a children's book.
23. Have an ofuro tub (Japanese soaking tub) beside the shower.
24. Make solo pilgrim's journey somewhere in Europe or Asia.
25. Finally learn to swim.
26. Snorkle in Great Barrier Reefs.
27. Publish Op/Ed piece in New York Times.
28. Go hang gliding and/or hot air ballooning.
29. Volunteer here and abroad to help women and/or children.
30. See every major art museum in the world.
31. Spend night in Quebec's ice hotel.
32. Eat at Napa's French Laundry.
33. Learn Italian, preferably in Italy.
34. Try fried bugs and bamboo worms, etc.

Any suggestions or to do lists of your own? I'd love to read them. Also check out this post come sit by my fire: A Passion for Adventure What an amazing life. I want to have stories like that to tell one day.

Lesson learned: J.'s motto, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." The rest of the quote (by Helen Keller) reads: "To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable." I love that. Comfort is good. We work hard to be comfortable. And if you're of the artistic temperament, as I am, comfort is a treasured thing because the alternatives are so intensely uncomfortable. I don't just feel bored, I feel my life is meaningless. I don't just feel sad, bad or guilty, I writhe in misery looking for something, anything to dull the pain. But, being at a certain stage in my life, I sometimes think, I should have taken more risk. I should have taken that job in Hong Kong. I should have, I should have, I should have. No more. Life is meant to be experienced fully and that's not possible if we fear risk and mistakes and all the discomfort they might cause.
In short: Life's either a daring adventure or a story not worth telling.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cupcake love

What I love about cupcakes and pastries, besides how they taste, is how I always spend at least a minute or two admiring them before sticking my fork in. And then I savor every bite because I don't buy them every day. I don't do that as often as I should for everything I eat.

For this piece I didn't want to make pretty cupcakes. (Though I do think the first one on the top row is rather pretty. And the one below her as well.) I wanted cupcakes that looked they came from a cupcake town or Sesame Street. Guess I should have given them legs...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Two days without coffee or alcohol. And another rainy Sunday. I love weather like this. (I have nothing against sunshine, either.) But rainy days give me an excuse to spend half the weekend painting on the computer. Here's some of what I finished...