During my morning writing session for Bring Back The Clowns, my character was at a party and this party that was about to go to hell…she naturally didn’t know this and for a moment she experienced a moment of bliss in this new world which she’s been struggling to feel a part of. This picture was that moment, the green dye went a little crazy and I just scribbled and splattered…wanting to get back to writing the scene, but just had to get this picture out of my head first. So here’s Indigo…
“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
— Aaron Siskind
Photography it’s a medium I love immeasurably. When I’m behind the camera my aspirations are immediately tied up in that single action, the fall of my finger on the button. Then with the moment chosen, the shutter clicks. I’ve preserved something forever, something that moved me enough to grasp onto it and not let go.
Back in March I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon snapping pictures at a local function venue, in preparation for our friend’s wedding. The place was Trent’s Vineyard. It was rustic and gorgeous, everything I love, especially the doves ( I adore birds). That day and the opportunities thereafter provided a much needed boost to my creative confidence.
Even though the creative arts is probably my niche, the thing I am best at- I often feel like my creations are, well, less than… I’m not a salesperson, or if I am one, I’m a salesperson who has very little confidence in the product. When people ask me what I do, I often get really awkward, playing it down, always adding that I actually do work part-time for an Eco-tourism business, because yeah, somehow that seems much more respectable, less dreamy, and vague. Dreamy and vague- that’s me down to a tee. Personally I think part of the problem is that I’ve never studied any of it formally– writing, photography and art, it’s all largely self taught. So yeah there’s this feeling of being an impostor. I create because I have that inclination. I have to and I’m in love the process, but I’m also not completely sure what I am doing half the time… Or rather I sort of know, but it is an intangible type of knowing. An untrained instinct which is slowly being refined.
It’s hard, because I came from a family of artists who primarily made money doing things other than art. That fact has left me with this deep seated fear/belief that an artistic career will never be enough to sustain me and my family. I know that doesn’t have to be true but breaking out of that mindset is so hard, especially since it is a myth that has been so perpetuated. The Starving Artist Trope. There’s always that nagging voice, that societal assumption that creating art/ writing is somehow less desirable than other careers. That it’s merely a hobby and has nothing tangible to offer society. “Grow up and get a real job” the world seems to say, “don’t even try, you have a better chance winning lotto“. “Go on. go out a buy a lotto ticket instead of slaving over that piece of art.”
But it doesn’t have to be true.
I want to believe that each of us who choose to create, do have something completely unique to offer the world- a part of ourselves- and that IS valuable! One of the sayings that keeps me writing even when I doubt myself is “No-one can write exactly the way you do” (I believe this can be applied right across the arts). Ideas, plots, subject matter all those things are limited and are therefore frequently repeated, however the writer/artist’s worldview, beliefs, passions, their style and aesthetic, all those things are ingredients to something uniquely special . As an artist, if you are digging deep, You ARE offering the world something different and there is absolutely a place for you. When looking at a scene, you can be sure that you will feel differently about it, see something different from the person next to you. Our unique bias ( and I’m not using that word negatively)- it’s a gift. So be reassured. That amazing imagination of yours will offer the world an interpretation that is purely your own. And despite what the world tries to tell you, what you create, your art, IS WORTH something because it is one of a kind.
Because you are worth something too.
And that’s it! Gaining that heartfelt understanding that what I create is actually worth something was one of the biggest hurdles I have had to overcome as a creator. Honestly though, I’m still working on it.
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
— Elliott Erwitt
So, here are a few of my own pictures. Welcome to my curious little world where I try to capture that restless ever-changing dance between light and dark.
I’ve done a little bit of sketching recently. Snatching a moment here and there to explore my story worlds through the visual medium. One of my attempts is below Odez: The Wingless. I started as I usually do, pencil on paper then scanned into the computer, added a texture, then painted in Photoshop Elements. Easy-peasy… no not really. It took me ages!
I’m mostly happy with it, so ended up using a larger version as a banner for myAuthor’s Website. The symbol upon the picture is actually one I adapted from the symbols for Mercury and Neptune’s Trident. I redesigned it and it became the symbol for Uriel/ Uzual, who is a character referenced in many of my longer works. He is my common thread, a muse of sorts, knitting my story-worlds together.
In recent days I’ve really been digging into some Novel edits for Once Were Angels (formally named Severed Wings/Neon Dreams.) I’ve been having fun with it (not normally a common experience for me during revisions).
There’s a excerpt below if you are intrigued. (Warning neither of my MC’s are on their best behaviour in this scene.)
The transition wasn’t what she expected. Not an immersion in a sea of blinding black, but a flash, brilliant, searingly so. Sam jolted upright as her foot hit the ground on the other side. Soft uneven ground that gave a little under-foot. Once through she blinked at the landscape, stunned for a moment. Eyes not believing, needing to be convinced. A far away banished sun was shackled by thick spiraling clouds. It’s meek light travelling an undulating sea of sand. Beyond the desert were the outline of mountains, faraway, jutting black, misted darkly by distance.
Sam heard a faint pop and Odez materialized behind her. There was an immediate vulnerability about him. The shopkeeper had said something to him before he came through, she guessed. More secrets.
His expression quickly changed and he had the nerve to give her a grin. She wouldn’t smile back, couldn’t. This fake-ass angel didn’t deserve it.
“Not exactly the type of place you’d build a holiday home.” Sam observed dryly, scanning the desert ahead. He marched past, feet sliding as he strode giant steps down the sand dune they had arrived on.
“Come on. I have to show you something.”
“Will this something give me some answers? Because you’ve been as transparent as Emperor Putin’s curtains so far.”
He cast a half-glance back, dismissive. It pissed her off.
“You’ll understand everything soon enough.” She wasn’t sure why, but even though it didn’t smell like one, it certainly seemed like a lie.
Sam loped after him, the strength in her long legs returning slowly. “Where are we exactly?”
“This is the desert of reflection, one part of the larger realm that is Omega.”
“So what is Omega?”
“It is the place where everything began.” Odez replied, infuriatingly cryptic.
“What? Like the Garden of Eden?” She scoffed.
“No, not like the Garden of Eden.” He returned with no small amount of snark as if he were talking to a stupid child. Fuck you, Angel.
Sam huffed,“So you stab me to death. And when I miraculously wake up some ghoul has taken a liking to my self-aware corpse. I’m assuming that’s what I am right? Some undead freak— a dead-woman-walking? Now under the guise of rescuing me, you bring me here, a desert! You better not be planning to wing off and leave me. Some deluded plan where you think making me wander for 40 days will turn me into Zombie-Jesus.” She stabbed a finger at his departing back. “If you do something like that, do you know what will happen, Boyo? If I survive, first thing I’ll do is hunt your shitty ass down and tear your fucking wings off— believe me like I’m God, that’s what will happen.”
“That would be impossible.”
“What the leaving me part? Or the idea of me going feral on your feathery ass?”
“In case you hadn’t noticed I don’t have any wings.”
“For all I knew they were invisible. Anyway, what sort of angel doesn’t have any wings?” All she got in return was a stony silence. She narrowed her eyes at his back, a flat man-like back with a hefty broadness round his shoulders. “So you lost them?”
More silence but she knew she was on the right track. She could smell it — like a shark scenting blood in the water. It was time for those teeth. “Ho, right, so no wings. I guess that’s gotta be hard— like a man with no dick. There will be no drilling those soft ass clouds now, huh?”
He turned his head, revealing a tell-tale twitch in his cheek. Sam silently congratulated herself. She had found his soft squishy bits, maybe time it was time to give them a little squeeze. She stopped in her tracks, her feet subsiding in the sand, grounding her. “I think I need some answers then. For all I know you’re the Devil in a mighty sweet disguise.” Did she just say that out loud? She continued anyway. “What’s your deal then wingless? What do you get out of bringing me here?”
Odez kept stubbornly on for a few more steps before slamming to an ill-tempered stop. “I want my wings back.” Just like that. His voice flat, obviously an attempt to appear emotionless and detached, but she already knew he was no automaton. The man was complicated and complicated people were often dangerous people. ”So I’m guessing this heritage you mentioned makes me some kind of prize pony. Do you intend to ride me on up to heaven in the hope that they will reward you with a holy fucking-wing-jacket ehh?”
His jaw flexed, biting down, keeping silent.
“So why am I special, Wingless? What exactly am I?”
He strode on, apparently not wanting to talk any more. Shut up tighter than a snitch at an organised crime convention.
“Well, that guy back at the Cigar Shop, Farid, he seemed to think I was something special.”
“He did, did he?” Passive aggressive, surly fucking featherless bastard
My friend and fellow writer Judy ( website) encouraged me to list some goals and put them out there. Last year I achieved some of what I had set myself (mostly word count goals) but one really important goal remained unfulfilled. It was getting a novel ready for alpha, then beta readers. Just one novel out of the 4 different drafts I’ve completed. That should be easy enough, right? So yeah, it didn’t happen and then naturally I got all down about it, beat myself up a little, questioned whether I had the discipline necessary to pursue a creative career.
So here I am picking myself up, dusting of those dregs of doubt and declaring to the world. I can do this! Here we go…
My Goals For 2016
Firstly I will be focusing more on the novels this year so that will probably mean writing less short stories. I love doing short stories but I’ve noticed the short story rhythm has been repeating itself when I try to go back and tackle the novels. I’m writing less than 10K and then shifting to editing/revision mode. It’s like my brain has got stuck in that short-span rhythm. I really need to try break that cycle and forge a new routine where I spend longer on a single work finish it, then revise. I need to develop some discipline on that count!
Something more tangible now. I intend to finish the first draft of Once Were Angels (last years Nano Novel) It was previously named Severed Wings, Neon Dreams but OWA seemed catchier. I will be doing exactly that in Camp NaNoWriMo this year. This goal is definitely locked in!
Thirdly, is to complete another set of revisions on one of my four completed works. It would be cool to complete the 4th draft of Rise of A Dead God and finish the second draft of The Rising.
Next I want to redesign my author website. A new year needs a new look. I’ve already made a start on that by painting a new website banner. I want to create a stronger brand if I can, so people will know what sort of stories to expect when my full length novels do finally get out in the world.
Another art-related goal… I will snap more original stock photography, creating a library of original content, to use both on the web and in book covers.
So those are my creative goals for this year. I’ll slowly work towards them while focusing on my most important things, my husband and my two lovely children. My greatest hope is see them happy, healthy and thriving over the course of this year.
Look to the horizon and dream and then take small but regular steps towards it. We will eventually get there. I wish you all a wonderful 2016.
I’ve had a certain story stuck in my head for months now. NaNoWriMo will be my chance to finally get it down on paper. Over the last few weeks/months, scenes and other details have slowly been coming to me for this fantasy world that I will be plunging into on Nov 1st. Near the beginning of the story I’ve planned that my main character will undergo 3 kinds of baptism, water, fire and then finally earth. The picture below explored the first of these.
Yesterday I started sketching, first using charcoal, then some pens and finally I got the paint involved. What resulted was this simple concept for a scene. It’s not a great picture but it helped me sort my ideas into something coherent. The two rivers depicted are the Acheron and the Styx (which at the moment I’m using to symbolize life and death). This picture has a faintly nightmarish quality for me as it draws together several of my personal fears (which are also quite symbolic if I think about it, deep water and falling) this made me ponder a few things…but more about that soon.
The two river’s meeting place is a doorway of sorts to a realm where the main character will be tested to see if she’s worthy for a particular kind of ascension. The figure in the floating boat is the ferryman, who will take my character Sam to the churning nexus of these two violent rivers.
As I mentioned, the above picture plays on my fears a little. Last week I read a book by Stephen King called Desperation. While reading it I marveled at how effortlessly he pushes the reader’s (namely mine) fear buttons. It’s masterful and acts to connect the reader to events with an invisible umbilical that seems to say “this has meaning to me” . Then I remembered one of Joss Whedon’s quotes “I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m AFRAID of. ”
Writing is not just telling a story (well sometimes it is) but most times it’s about telling a story that matters to us personally, using things that impact us deeply. It is a mode of personal exploration as well as a mode of creation. This applies across all arts. This depth of personal meaning will invariably trickle across to your audience, creating a powerful resonance in the minds of some, making your story/picture more memorable, and perhaps important in their minds. So come Nov. 1st I will be falling a kind of rabbit hole with this novel, Severed Wings/ Neon Dreams (working title) falling deeper than I have before. I Imagine it’s going to be an interesting month… I’m not sure what’s going to happen…and that fact is both scary and exciting.
I admit I kinda like drawing purvey little pictures of half naked angels. Because…yeah… angels are awesome…
Meet the Angel of destruction- Uriel, a character from my fantasy manuscript (The Final Battle). The inspiration for this particular piece was taken from an epic chapter called Renegade Atlas. This picture of him is not finished by any means. I had the usual struggles with his general anatomy and bits *smirk* and sadly he’s a little off-centre/uneven. I’m sure I should be able to fix most of those problems in photoshop before I start painting him up all pretty-like (like one of those french girls).
So my wonderfully creative sister came up with a story idea a few days ago and kindly
offered that plot bunny to me. Me being me, I couldn’t help but adopt it. This one could actually work out to be a collaborative effort between the both of us — that is, if we both can scratch out the time. I think it could be a novel with graphic elements at the beginning of each chapter – a kind of hybrid experience, both visual and literary.
So yesterday because this idea was stuck, jammed in my head and not budging, I ended up writing 1000 words of character notes and did this rough concept sketch of one of the characters– who sorta scares me>> *whispers* “I think she’s an angry lady.” I then refined the sketch a little in photoshop. I’m almost happy with it.
I enjoy exploring what characters might look like, even though I usually end up somewhat disappointed as my artistic ability lags behind my imagination. This one didn’t work out the way I wanted either, but I think I might have caught something of the character’s emotions and state of mind.
The story is an urban fantasy type thing, I think. Anyway we are still working out the details, so I guess we’ll see where this tale takes us.
Yesterday after the kids had finished their paintings there was so much paint left that I had to do something about it. I don’t like seeing paint go to waste. Yes, I should have been writing *sigh* (falling behind on that Camp NaNoWriMo word count again) nevertheless I started putting left over colour on paper with no idea what was going to happen. After dabbing around with some paynes grey I decided it kinda looked like a landscape so I went with it, letting the concept come together organically. It kinda feels like a mixture of Mad Max and Fallout. A post apocalyptic or possibly alien landscape with some weird mega structures in the distance. I dunno what they are…these things just happen.I don’t often have a clear idea of what I’m going to do before I start drawing. This is just a rough concept and I know the perspective is a little wonky, but figured it might be a useful world building tool for a future story, maybe? *shrug*.
“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
Henry Ward Beecher
I have been creating art for years and somehow I still call it doodling. Anyway I have been doing quite a lot of this doodling lately and somehow it has become something more. This blog is where I’m going to explore this passion that I’ve always had, but never really taken seriously.
Photography is one of my interests, as well as sketching and painting (acrylics) but the digital format is currently my favorite medium and this is where I have focused my efforts over the last two years.
So, I’ve created Amuri Art and I’m not sure exactly where this road will take me. Nevertheless I am looking forward to creating more beautiful, strange, twisted or fantastical things for people to enjoy.
I hope to gradually update this site slowly with my odd and whimsical creations as they happen. For now I’ll leave you with this stylized vector of Feros, one of the characters from a novel I’m writing this month for Camp NaNoWriMo, Sanctuary Of Shadows. Also check out my gallery and book covers page for past doodlings.