Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Spring Under Snow


Winter is here.

New England does mid-winter thoroughly, with all it's natural bleakness in force.

But today is one of those sunny days- where the air is crisp and you can feel the promise of spring hidden somewhere away in the barren branches of the trees. It's easy to feel a little brighter, a little more hopeful, as the snow runs wetly down the streets and into drains. But February isn't even here yet, and I'd be a fool to think we aren't still in the thick of it.

The snow will be back- but Lord, I am ready to see spring soon.
It's been a long while since I've posted around here-  though I do like that about having this blog- there's no rush.
It's been a pretty busy season of life, and there just haven't been that many guiltless, quiet moments to sit and write- I've regrettably gotten out of the discipline of reflecting.

I am sitting in my new studio, there is a little lull in the workflow as Big New Things begin to spool up, and I think I'll take this moment to do a little bloggy processing.

I think, sometimes, of these posts as a way of setting down an Ebenezer- a "stone of help"- referring, biblically to a monument or marker set down to commemorate a work of God; "Thus far the Lord has helped us".
Being honest- "Internet Presence" can be a pretty negative thing at times- at it's worst self-indulgent, egocentric, petty- a place to build up a false self-image and a breeding ground for envying others (sins to which I am prone). But I really think it can also be a beautiful and life-affirming thing- and I hope this blog can be more the latter than the former.

Since winter is here, I think it is a good time to remember what has been beautiful, and what might be again.

Thus far the Lord has helped me.

I have been able, in the past few months, to move out of my parents' home and back into the city.
I've even found an affordable studio space, and moved my base-of-operations out of my bedroom and into a cozy office on the west end of Providence. It comes with it's own challenges- (I can no longer simple roll-leftwards out of bed to arrive at work) but I am blessed to feel like that much more of a grown-up, working towards discipline.

School of Art & Design, NYC

I've  recently been privileged to speak to a few different groups of students about my fledgling career in concept art & illustration. (To the students of the School of Art & Design in NYC, Blackstone Valley VoTech and Ringling's DIPSY club: thanks so much for the honor of getting to hang out with you guys- you're amazing!) Few things have been more encouraging and humbling.

Vague Maleficenty Clouds

I've just finished illustrating a book called The Curse of Maleficent for Disney as a tie-in for the upcoming Maleficent movie. It will be available for pre-order here.
I'll post more about that as more information becomes available, but it was a lovely project to be a part of, and a dream come true to get to work with people at the Mouse House.

In the course of doing that project, I paid off my student loans, which is a huge relief and a blessing! RISD loans are no joke. I even got a free cheesecake out of the deal. A career highlight so far:


In one of my favorite photos of the year, my proud Grandma poses next to one of the movie posters:


Dawngate, the project I have been working on with EA, is in Beta, if you'd like to give it a spin! Most of what I've designed for it are character skins that won't be out for a while (except for Zeri, who is my design).
Despite EA's rough rep, the Waystone Games team have been stalwart humans. They have displayed a rare (in my experience of the gaming industry) interest in interacting closely with their community, challenging the destructive stereotypes that are native to the MOBA genre, and taking feedback in stride as they work. It's a thing worth mentioning- sometimes the people are overlooked in the work-based value system we have in the arts- but a good team can be hard to find. I am blessed to work with them.

Jellybots is actually underway.
Watching friends take the leap towards their dream-projects, I felt enabled to move forward myself and begin, however slowly, to actually make finished pages for the comic project that has been sitting around my back-burners for a long time now. I am terrified and humbled to actually start trying- but as I was reminded by a kind friend from church: we can only truly fail if we don't even make the attempt, right?

I hope, by God's grace, to 'dare greatly' this year.
It is easy to fear the consequences of trying. As I discussed with students (and have written about before) it is so easy to fear the first step. Having felt failure, and known how heartbreak, embarassment, and vulnerability can feel- when you try, you expose yourself to ridicule, to being wrong, to doing poorly, to rejection and hurt. On reflection, I think it is the only way worth living.
2013 (and the start of 2014) have been as full of heartbreak and disappointment as they have been full of opportunity, victory and joy. But they have been full of joy.

In the last few months, Christmas caroling with friends, a whirlwind visit from Lizzie, and some restorative time at the Lefferts family home have all made the season brighter- standing underneath sunsets, shouting songs at passersby, huddled in living rooms under blankets in front of "just one more" episode of Doctor Who, up at all hours of the evening getting sillier as everyone's repertoire of strange voices comes out. There have been fiddles, fires, impossibly tall  Christmas trees, dances, singalongs, and the occasion to drive much too fast to try-and-catch-the-show.
Dear friends have drawn near, and those moments spent together are like a foretaste of what I imagine heaven could possibly be like.

Once moments are committed to beautiful memory, it is easy to entomb them there. To look back and, in time of trial, imagine that it can never be again. Winter comes and the nights get shorter, and we forget what spring feels like; can't conceive that it could return.
But it is as ridiculous as believing that the sun will never rise again every time night falls.
So out of winter, heartache, and a hard season- have faith and have hope with me.

Spring will come again.

Much love, and may God bless you,


PS- I've started a livestream account, and have been able to connect with a number of internet persons while drawing and singing- you guys are awesome, and I love getting to interact with everyone.
I announce when I stream via twitter and tumblr, if you'd like to tune in sometime :)