Iron Head Jane

A Little Hard Headed

July 13, 2016
by Jane
Comments Off on Bad Art, or Why Did I Stop Trying?

Bad Art, or Why Did I Stop Trying?

butterfly fantasy

A bad recreation of a painting that I have a complicated relationship with.

I’ve been in a slow, painful decline of creative output. This is not entirely true, but it’s the story I tell myself. The truth is, that I still have sporadic creative output, but it’s shifted to more ephemeral experiences, such as cooking, baking, sewing (which never seems to be completed), and musing on these pursuits on the daily.

In preparation for my mom moving to Washington, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit my past, whether I’ve wanted to or not. Part of that includes remembering those things I used to do regularly. Draw, paint, write, play music. I’ve tried many instruments. I’ve belted out song with a guitar I mostly taught myself how to play. I used to play the piano, even, though not very well. My music reading is basic, at best, but I had aspirations. I have stacks and stacks of stories and poetry. Piles of paper and canvases, including those two years at a prestigious art school. I had friends back in Chicago who would creatively set fire beneath one another.

I lost that, and slowly resigned myself into being a former aspirational artist.

I even start blog posts that are unfinished. This one promises to be rambly, but I’ll publish it anyway.

*deep breath*

What was the big turning point? Where did I start to finally doubt that I couldn’t actually hack it and become the professional artist of my dreams?

It wasn’t when I left art school in 1998, which I often excused as a money-saving venture, but it really didn’t save me anything other than the complete decline of faith in myself.

It’s that fucking painting (see above). The real painting was part of my final for my Freshman 2D art class. It was to be my finest moment. I had decided that I wanted to finally do a large-scale emulation of the work that I’d been so excited about over the past 6 years – the art of great fantasy illustrators like Larry Elmore and other cover artists doing work for TSR. Though we were to base something off of sketches we did on a field trip to the Field Museum, I decided I’d use that as a thin pretext for a Celtic fantasy butterfly magical romp.

To be fair, what I turned in was unfinished. It lacked polish. It needed work. I was disappointed in the perspective and the depth of the piece. My classmates and teacher were unimpressed, and I took it home to my mom, thinking I’d finish it one day. Instead, I spent every visit taking it off the wall where she proudly hung it, and trying to hide it behind the couch. I told her I hated it. I told her to throw it away. Then she moved. Then she framed it. She FRAMED that piece of shit. Now she’s moving to Washington, and to my dismay, I gave her the OK to throw out so many other things, but I wanted to tell her, “PLEASE don’t bring that painting.”

Art school didn’t work for me on a few levels. One was the fact that I lacked internal discipline, and wasn’t prepared to develop it yet. Then there was the fact that I was in way over my head. I wasn’t mature enough to handle some of the work that needed to be done. I needed mentorship, but didn’t know how to get it. Then there’s the work I wanted to do. As much as I loved making abstract art, anyone can do that without art school. The work I revered were comics and illustration, but it was a challenged to do, and instead of trying over and over again to get it right, I gave up.

It’s 20 years since I started art school, I’ve got two kids, and I’m a bit terrified that I’ve given up all my opportunities. I’m having to restructure how I think about things, but after this long post, I think I’ll save that for another time.

January 19, 2016
by Jane
Comments Off on Reposts and Attribution: the “White Aurora” or “The Hem of His Garment”

Reposts and Attribution: the “White Aurora” or “The Hem of His Garment”

One of the things that bugs me about Facebook is the picture re-posting, frequently without attribution. Pictures can be really cool photos, pieces of art, “memes” (whatever the hell that means), or worse, picture of famous person with some inspirational quote. Not only can the picture and/or attribution be bogus, but the account posting the picture that is subsequently reposted can also be a bogus account, meant to gather followers and shares. This issue isn’t limited to just reposts of photos, as that I’ve seen recipes without attribution also “shared.” I’m sticking with photos/pictures for this post.

The one I notice the most are supposedly radio stations, obviously reposting something they found from somewhere else. Then there are the multi-level marketing (MLM) representatives that when you click through, you see their account is all about promoting their business. And if MLM’s weren’t bad enough, you have the pseudoscience quackery of types like David Avocado Wolfe.

That being said, the reason I got all bothered about this one is that I don’t have a habit of making friends with white supremacists.

screenshot of fake aurora from Facebook

Screenshot of Misattributed Photo

The person who posted this, who has a “Keep Calm and Proud to be White” picture on her profile, originally posted to a group of specifically descendents of white colonialists that were pretty much exiled from the African country they once lived in, in part, because they were white colonialist. (There is much more to be said about this, it’s complicated, like geopolitical history often is, but that’s not the topic of this post.)

Anyhow, as I’ve said, I’m always curious about more than just “original” posters that raise eyebrows (this one caught me because of reference to a former name of an African nation whose former, colonialist flag was among those that Dylann Roof was seen sporting in a photograph.) I’m also curious about dubious scientific claims, such as an aurora being discovered and named, “The Hem of His Garment,” a specific Christian allusion, and a “white aurora.” I took a multi-step, multi-minute trip down a Google rabbit hole to find where this photo originated, and finally arrived to a post, in Russian, from July 16, 2010.

Google Translate to English from Russian - Fluorescent Light and Electromagnetic Field by NeverSmile

Google Translate to English from Russian – Fluorescent Light and Electromagnetic Field by NeverSmile

Not “The Hem of His Garment” (which I could find one attribute easily on Google from an Evangelical site, years after the original post), not a “white aurora in Finland,” which also seems to be a common attribution. Instead, it is light art done deliberately by a photographer.

For a piece of art with more than 100,000 shares, I think this deserves better.

August 27, 2015
by Jane
Comments Off on Why is Cosplaying the 12th Doctor So Hard?

Why is Cosplaying the 12th Doctor So Hard?

Douglas Herring ©2015

Douglas Herring ©2015

I have now cosplayed/crossplayed three times. The first time I did it, it was at Orycon 36 and I won 3rd place in the Masquerade. My wig was a bit horrible, so in retrospect I’m not sure why I won except maybe their standards just weren’t that high. I entered the Masquerade at Norwescon 38, and despite having a more appropriate wig, didn’t even rate (and felt a bit silly and put out about the whole thing.) I decided that Masquerades weren’t for me, so I set on developing a female version of the 12th Doctor, based maybe on Dame Judi Dench as M in James Bond.

I did my last cosplay of the 12th Doctor as a woman at Worldcon/Sasquan just this past week. I seem to go around unnoticed, and I think I was actually mistaken as the grandparent of my own children in the process. I guess I make a convincing old lady, even without the old-face make-up.

It occurred to me, though, that the 12th Doctor is lacking a quirky bit that makes him so lovable to cosplay. He doesn’t have a cape, a sprig of celery, clown colors, an obnoxiously long scarf, an out-of-time velvet jacket, a question mark umbrella, a fez, Converse shoes with more conservative businesswear. Instead, #12 is meticulously dressed, mostly on the edge of formal, with his quirk perhaps being more subtle, yet very fashionable. A Navy Crombie coat with red silk lining with Dr. Marten-style black Brogue shoes just looks great, but it’s far from quirky. Maybe the reason I love this Doctor (and he’s so disliked by others) is he’s SO GODDAMN SERIOUS.

I’m hoping that I’ll see more Twelve cosplay at future cons. I’m worried that I just can’t pull it off because maybe the old-face is poorly done or ridiculous looking, or I just look like a well-dressed grandparent. Twelve isn’t fun or pretty the way that Ten and Eleven are, and he’s not quirky in the lovable pixie-nerdboy way.

Just once I want to be cosplaying in the hall of a convention and someone say “Hey, Twelve, you’re awesome!” Anyone can put on a goddamn fez. Try stitching red lining into a jacket and making things look more tailored than you have the sewing skills to do.

August 26, 2015
by Jane
Comments Off on Back from Sasquan/WorldCon, Inspired and Defeated

Back from Sasquan/WorldCon, Inspired and Defeated

I’m not *really* defeated, but I’m lacking the time and energy to work on projects that I really want to work on. It doesn’t help that I’m so easily distracted.

I just devoted the better part of the last hour to looking for 5 year old notes from a dream I had. It was a vivid, intense dream that was cinematic and detailed, with characters, arc, and invented what, from all I can tell, would still be a new sub-genre in SFF.

I could try to do something with those half-memories of the notes, but I want to find the notes themselves. I wrote them down in a book, a small memo book iirc, with notes in every corner and margin, filling up at least two pages.

The thing is, those notes preceded a tragic time in my life, and the year that followed was one where I was fighting for my basic survival, and who the crap knows where those notes went.

I’m feeling a bit defeated because, unlike my younger, pluckier, and frankly, more irresponsible days, I don’t feel like I can just go out there and DO THE THING. I feel anxious about debt, about the lives of those around me and the impact I have on them (more so than I worried when I was younger, SORRY!)

The fact I’ve gotten this far is a triumph. Maybe I’ll just leave this post at that.

April 29, 2015
by Jane
Comments Off on Activity Tracker Obsession

Activity Tracker Obsession

I’m a little obsessed with activity trackers. I know they are not every large girl’s cup of tea, but getting metrics on my energy output as well as my energy input validates me in some way. I do know that some people use those things to shame themselves, but after years of doing it through Weight Watchers, My Fitness Pal, and a activity trackers, it’s made me honest with myself in a way that I wasn’t quite able to do BEFORE I started tracking.

I don’t try every little thing I eat, just the ones I know really count. I’ll track mayonnaise, but not ketchup. Sometimes I’ll track BBQ sauce. I don’t necessarily track every time I walk, but if I spend 20,000 steps in NYC, I want credit for that! It’s kept me in control, and helped me regain control when I’ve felt like I’ve lost it. I let myself slide every now and then, accept the fall, and try to be mindful and not judge.

Anyhow, every year there’s a new way to track energy output and input. There’s a ton of options, most of them not worth your time or money. I’ve tried a few, and I plan to actually write up my experience.

I’ll put it out there, though – the one that I think is the best all-arounder is the Fitbit One.

This was the second activity tracker I owned, and not without its flaws. I haven’t had one for over a year, but I realized I missed it after my third RMA with Jawbone in a year. The FitBit One is easy to lose if you’re not careful, and can be annoying to sleep with in the wrist pocket, with the wrist holster velcro degenerating quickly. However, it’s more fully featured than many of the small, non-wrist based wearables, and has a relatively device friendly eco-system, decent customer service, and is easy to wear.

Also, of the brands I’ve seen, FitBit seems the best suited for those who are a little less tech-savvy. It allows you to use their website as well as a smartphone, and their site includes a fair amount of support information.

I won’t be returning to FitBit at this point, mostly because I primarily want a sleep tracker, and don’t want a wearable I have to keep on my wrist during the day. However, I do think that the FitBit One is a great bet for someone starting out with a wearable.