shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
I had every intention of getting to the gym today, but transit woes put the kibosh on that. I spent 90 minutes trying to get from downtown Kitchener to the Conestoga mall (which is about a 15-minute drive). I ended up on four different buses and walking several blocks because construction has changed bus routes and also because I falsely believed the express bus would get me there faster than the not-an-express bus.

I should have cabbed.

And once I got to the mall, I had to wait for two hours for my phone to be repaired. By the time I got home, it was late and I was famished. Argh. I'll see if I can manage to get to the gym tomorrow after I teach dance and before I go to tap class. I hope I can manage all that!

This morning, I met with a local fine arts graduate I met through LARP. We hope to put together an art show based on birds, since we both have a body of work on feathery critters. The exhibit is tentatively called "Of a Feather." Although I used to work in art galleries and have had my art shown in several exhibitions over the past twenty years, I don't have much of a clue of what it takes to launch an art exhibit in this city. We brainstormed a few ideas. I live in hopes that we shall have a show this year.

In other news, I've also been brainstorming ideas about my personal experiences with the truth and reconciliation movement in Canada. Not only is this a great mental exercise, but it just might land me berth on a Canadian ocean expedition. I sure would love to see the Arctic Ocean up close and personal. I've been on the Atlantic and the Pacific, but the Arctic eludes me. I want to see what my ancestors saw, and what my cousins see. I want to take off to the great white north.

(Australian Raven. Soft pastels on pastel paper.)
Australian Raven
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
Yesterday, with some amount of trepidation, I attended a handstand workshop. My energy levels have been generally waning over the past year or so, and my endurance has been getting pretty shitty. Nevertheless, I've been working hard at improving my endurance, and I was able to make it through the entire workshop without needing to take numerous breaks. Despite not having done a handstand in ~8-9 months, I did quite well. My strength, range of motion, and flexibility were up to the challenge, and I believe that if I can practice regularly, I will have an unsupported handstand within a few weeks.

I did have one major whoops. While doing a partner exercise, I kicked off too hard, overbalanced, and came down on my head and shoulder. I didn't damage myself, but it was a reminder that being klutzy hurts. My next kick-off was much better.


Over the past year, combined with my fatigue issues, I've also gained a fair amount of weight. At the beginning of the year, I was the heaviest I've ever been, and it did not feel good. Over the past two months, I became proactive and have been monitoring my diet, doing daily exercise (burpees and regular strength training), and taking some vitamin supplements to help with general health and sleep issues. I'm feeling a gradual change, and two days ago, for the first time in many months, I noticed muscle definition again. I knew the muscles were still there, but it feels good to see them peeking out at me again. Hi there, guns.

(Self-portrait circa 1997. Pencil crayons on textured paper.)
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
Quite a while back, I was gifted with a $50 gift certificate to a local independent art supply store. The other day, I finally cashed it in and got a high-quality set of watercolour pencils. The night before last, I decided to play with them and painted this. I call it Skeleton Tree.

Skeleton Tree
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
It's been far too long since I did any substantial blogging. I do a lot of posting on FB, but it's not at all the same thing. FB does not encourage active conversation. The threading on posts is borked, and on more than one occasion, misunderstandings have arisen from replies made in these threads that were so severe that they resulted in people dropping me as a friend. In one instance, I was busy formulating a carefully-worded response to an earlier comment in a thread. While in this process, they were responding to other things and making other points. By the time I'd finished my write-up, there'd been several messages in the interim and because of simple timing and non-threaded discourse, it made it look like I'd completely blown off the points they were making. I tried to send a private message to explain what had happened, but they'd already blocked me.

This sort of platform does not make for good communication. It does not make for lasting friendship. Now, I'm not completely dismissing FB. It is excellent for sharing photos and links, and for networking and sharing events. I have missed the nuanced conversations and friendships I made in my years of blogging on my own defunct site and, later on, on LJ.

My intention is to resuscitate my old website. This is a daunting task. I hand-coded every single one of those many hundreds of webpages. It was years of work. Can I port things over without destroying my old formatting? How does FTP even work anymore? I haven't done it in so long that I've forgotten almost everything.

In other news, I've been working hard to promote my artwork and get more regular practice in. I started an Instagram account where I share artwork regularly. I've been updating it daily since I started paying attention to it. I haven't sold anything via that venue (yet). I have, however, sold several pieces through FB. Go figure.

I hope to go back to university at some point to pursue my fine arts training. In the meantime, I'll practice independently.

Here is my current major work in progress. If you click on the picture, you'll go to a gallery of my progress shots:

In other news, this afternoon I'll be going to Brass Butterflies (an aerial studio in Waterloo) to study handstands and acro-yoga. The training will never end until ten minutes after I'm dead.


Dec. 8th, 2013 03:12 pm
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
First of all, my prints are on sale, right now. $5 off and free shipping if you go to this link. Check it out!

Next, I just finished another soft pastel piece. Here are the progress photos and the finished piece )


Dec. 2nd, 2013 02:41 pm
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
I'm new to soft pastels, but I think I "get" them. I'm able to work with them and get the blending and detailing I want. Here's the second raven piece I did. )
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
Like H.P. Lovecraft? Check this out: The Innsmouth Look, ink on paper. I'm selling prints of this (and more). You can buy them from me in person, or go nab 'em online here. Prices start at $20.

[The Innsmouth Look]
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk) art, that is. I'm working on getting my various prints online for sale. Please check out my shop! I'll be working on putting more online over the next while.

Check it out!


Nov. 11th, 2013 09:52 pm
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
I've been drawing pretty much daily again. I spend much of today in transit, and I had the craving to draw a raven. Tonight, I did. I decided to go with soft pastels on sanded paper. I call it "Ravenous."

Here are the in-progress shots. )
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
A sense of foreboding and oppression permeates page three of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Criminal: Volume 2, Bad Night. This mood is accomplished through a variety of visual and literary techniques. Through these techniques, this page showcases the anxiety ubiquitous to the creative process.

Allusion provides a framework for the claustrophobic mood. The title of the comic strip being drawn by the protagonist, Jacob, is an anglicization of Franz Kafka, the famous 20th-century author. Franz Kafka wrote about such recurring situations as alienation and bureaucratic authoritarianism. The name Frank Kafka therefore sets the stage for trepidation.

Franz Kafka's September 23, 1912 diary entry reads,

This story..I wrote at one sitting...from ten o'clock at night to six o'clock in the morning. I was hardly able to pull my legs out from under the desk, they had got so stiff from sitting. The fearful strain and joy, how the story developed before me, as if I were advancing over water. Several times during this night I heaved my own weight on my back. How everything can be said, how for everything, for the strangest fancies, there waits a great fire in which they perish and rise up again.... At two I looked at the clock for the last time. As the maid walked through the anteroom for the first time I wrote the last sentence. Turning out the light and the light of day. The slight pains around my heart. The weariness that disappeared in the middle of the night. The trembling entrance into my sisters' room. Reading aloud. Before that, stretching in the presence of the maid and saying, “I've been writing until now.” The appearance of the undisturbed bed, as though it had just been brought in. The conviction verified that with my novel-writing I am in the shameful lowlands of writing. Only in this way can writing be done, only with such coherence, with such a complete opening out of the body and the soul (1).
In "Bad Night," the reader is privy to Jacob's thoughts on the creative process. He says, “I try to always leave a strip in progress, but close to being done.... That way, the next morning you have something to start right in on. Because that last panel calls out to an unfinished sentence” (2). In conjunction with Franz Kafka's ceaseless writing style, this adds to the oppression of the page.

A sense of imminent expectation pervades the page through auditory cues. Gerry's phone call is presaged by the “BRRNGG BRRNGG” of the first panel. This sound effect is an example of onomatopoeia. Not only is it the sound of the telephone, but it is also a homonym for “bring.” The phone demands Jacob's comic strip. Bring it now, it seems to say—BRING BRING! Gerry's subsequent mention of deadlines cements the imperative. The deadline looms. The clock looms. Jacob works under a virtual sword of Damocles.

The page is an example of mise-en-abîme: the literary term for a story within a story. Through the use of this recursive technique, thematic parallels are revealed. Archetypes within Frank Kafka P.I. continue in the framing story, and continue into real life. The expectations placed upon Frank, Franz, and Jacob are expectations similarly placed upon Brubaker and Phillips. The story transcends the fictional and becomes autobiographical.

The panels of framing story and mise-en-abîme alike demarcate oppression. In Frank Kafka P.I., the panels are identical in size, and march along the page in mechanical, precise formation. They are a visual reminder of the constancy of Franz Kafka's writing. In contrast, the panels of the framing story vary in width, reminiscent of an irregular heartbeat. Although the story progresses, it does so in fits and starts. This represents Jacob's method of intentionally leaving something unfinished so he is compelled to get back to it. The narrowing panels also serve to increase the sense of claustrophobia.

Two graphic styles are used on this page. Frank Kafka P.I. is drawn in a cartoony, Dick Tracy fashion. The lettering has a bold, authoritarian cast to it. The consistently-shaped word balloons are drawn with heavy black lines. While Jacob works away with this institutionalized drawing style, he himself is portrayed in a different mode.

Where Frank is drawn with oppressive regularity, Jacob is drawn in a technique more in line with contemporary realism. Frank shares Dick Tracy's trademark sneers and scowls, and Jacob is drawn in taciturn resignation. The realistic hue is no less oppressive, however. Lighting is used to deepen the foreboding of the page. Jacob is presented to the reader in chiaroscuro. Shadows close in on Jacob. If he ever wants to see the light, he must remain at his drafting table. By being shrouded in darkness, in shadows cast from an indiscernible light source, the drawings are claustrophobic. Jacob hides in his insular dark office just as Frank Kafka P.I.'s Remy D. hides in a janitor's closet.

Word balloons are treated differently in the framing story. Gone are the regularity and precision of the Frank Kafka P.I. strip. Instead, the only vocalization, that of Gerry, is presented in a jagged, rough-hewn word balloon. The edges are sharp, and appear to prickle Jacob, distracting him from the work he has been doing. When Gerry hangs up, Jacob is taken out of his groove and leaves the room. The unfinished panel of his comic strip necessitates his eventual return. He, like Kafka, Brubaker, and Phillips, is a slave to his work.

In just one page of exposition on the creative process, Brubaker and Phillips elicit profound feelings of foreboding, claustrophobia, and oppression. They do this through such techniques as onomatopoeia, literary and visual allusion, layout, drawing styles, and recursion. That they accomplish so much in so few words is masterful.

Works Cited:
Kafka, Franz. Diaries. September 23, 1912 entry.

Ed Brubaker (words) and Sean Phillips, Criminal: Volume 2, Bad Night (Marvel, 2009), page 3.
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
In pop culture, Sigmund Freud is, perhaps erroneously, quoted as saying “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” (1). However, in Jack Cole's “Murder, Morphine and Me,” from the May 1947 edition of True Crime #2 (Cole, 6), the sexual nature of the visual imagery is not just a matter of reading too much into the drawings. “Murder, Morphine and Me” is a horror story, and page 6 of the story is about sexual horror in particular.

Read more... )
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
We cannot escape the past. Everything we touch and see is from the past. Our present is so fleeting that it has left us before we have even become aware of it. The question of who owns the past is misleading, for the past owns us. All we can do is create and imagine based upon what it gives us.

For this project, I chose to put together an assemblage art piece composed primarily of found items. I decoupaged an old spice rack with a variety of images, from alchemical symbols to palmistry diagrams to paintings and photographs. I added ribbon and aged its appearance with ink. I incorporated a collection of old bottles that I hand-coloured, giving them a more historical appearance than they'd had initially. An engraved drinking horn, a collection of handmade rose beads, a stone goblet, a turkey vulture feather, a ceramic incense burner, and a collection of papercraft and woven boxes rest atop tapestry-style fabric. I intend for the collection to look like artefacts and moments out of time which hide secrets.

Images behind the cut )
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
Dreams & Symbols is the culmination of surreal artifacts and the disintegration of procrastination. It all began several years ago when a local used book shop had moved to a new location and left behind a crate of books the proprietors didn't want to bring to their new store. I rooted through the box and found a book called Dreams & Symbols. I thought it was a bunch of malarkey, but there were numerous beautiful full-colour images inside. I brought the book home so I could do collage or decoupage with it.

For about the same amount of time, I've been keeping a rough pine crate which had initially been used to store cannisters of tea. It was covered with unattractive stamped print, but I always meant to get around to doing something with it. For this project, this finally happened. The pine crate met the metaphysical coffee table book and together, they became transformed into this cabinet.

Surreal images were cut with scissors, or with a utility knife on a cutting board, then affixed in place with high-gloss Mod Podge. I also attached a pressed flower to the upper shelf (which is removeable) in this way, and sealed it with copious amounts of Mod Podge. In order to dry the thick amounts of sealant/adhesive, I jerry-rigged a hair drier on top of some clay pots on medium heat and let it dry while I worked on the rest of the cabinet.

The few parts of the box which have not been decoupaged have been coloured with ink and accented with bindis.

I consider the cabinet itself to be part and parcel with the collection. The decoupage work is a collection in itself, and accents are added with metallic ink.

The objects without the cabinet vary, depending on the placement of the cabinet. When the cabinet is on my window sill, the collection sprawls out on either side and on top, including such objects as an hourglass, candles, plume, stone goblet, brass bell, a hand-made spider pendant, rose beads, and incense. The plume and rose beads I fashioned myself. I believe the scent of roses and incense are just as evocative as the visuals, and the sand trickling through the hourglass places a temporal value on the exhibit.

When the cabinet is in a smaller area, the viewer's eye is directed more toward the interior of the cabinet. Skulls, heads, bone beads, Catholic saints, North American aboriginal spirit stone, and voodoo dolls lurk in the upper level. In the lower level, hand-painted china boxes (painted by me), a feather, a curious metal button, a rabbit skull, and two thimbles (modern and reproduction Viking). The collection is meant to be dreamlike and to provoke strange mental connections.

Images aplenty )
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
Elder Squirrel Demon Summoning Circle is an environmental installation artwork piece which I placed on my back deck. A multimedia piece, it incorporates a demonic squirrel head, chalk, roses, herbs, peanuts, salt, and pinecones.

I created the centrepiece by hacking a Big Head Squirrel Feeder. Horns were fashioned out of Sculpey by my roommate Amelia, and I affixed them with KrazyGlue. The eyes and eye rims were painted with bright red nail laquer, leaving slit-shapes unpainted for the irises. This gives the eyes a blood-filled, demonic aspect.

Next, lengths of binding wire were attached overhead to the roof and a nearby tree. The wire is green and blends in with the foliage. I next connected the wire to the head with lengths of transparent bracelet cording. This transparent cording makes the head look like it is hovering unsuspended.

I next adjusted for height by winding the binding wire until the head hovered the correct distance from the ground. Because of the elastic nature of the transparent cording, this process had to be repeated several times during the exhibition of the installation piece. Once the head was in place, I marked the centrepoint beneath and sketched out a circle in chalk. I drew the pentagram, then added Enochian text traditionally believed to have been used to summon demons. Technically speaking, a traditional demon summoning circle looks different (and contains far more Enochian text), but for the purpose of making the circle more identifiable to the average viewer, I chose to go with a circle of protection. Besides, I doubt squirrels know the difference. ;)

To add colour and to tie in the elements with nature and the history of the occult, I also added roses from my garden, herbs, small heaps of rock salt, and pine cones gathered at a nearby cemetery.

Since I intended to make this piece interactive with nature, I included peanuts to summon the squirrels. Then I sat and waited for the squirrels to get cheeky and brave enough to approach while I awaited with my camera. To aid with the summoning, I participated in a dread occult practice: the osculum infame. In other words, I made kissy noises.

Eventually, a black squirrel demon was summoned.

My ritual worked!

As a note, no squirrels returned the next day, but two days later, when I went to look, the peanuts were gone, and in their place, at the centre of the summoning circle, was a cherry. I summoned a demonic cherry! I swear I did not put it there, and no one else was in the yard all day. Ooooo. Spoooooky!

I confess that I ate part of the cherry, but as of this time, I have not evinced any signs of demonic possession....

Pics and video behind the cut! )
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
This project, which I've called Portrait of My Hand, is a two-part piece. I first composed my legs and hand against a tile background with filtered sunlight for lighting. I wanted to include strong diagonals in my composition, so I arranged the diagonals of my hand and legs in contrast with the strong parallel lines of the tile. Once I was happy with the arrangement, I took the digital photo and converted it to a grey-scale image.

I printed out the image on a laser printer, and coloured the reverse of the image with charcoal. Then I taped the image in place on top of heavy drawing paper, and traced out the outlines with a ballpoint pen. This left a line drawing of the portrait on the drawing paper.

Next, I cut out and tore a variety of shapes and strips from several newspapers, sorting them into piles of similar darkness/lightness values.

I used mucilage to place the bits of newsprint onto the drawing paper until the photograph had been reproduced in collage. This was a time-consuming process.

The image is perplexing to look at, with different elements popping forward and backward, often interchangeably. The fingers stand out in stark contrast, but sometimes they move forward or retreat behind the tile in a surreal method, with nods to Escher. The hand dissolves into a mash of words behind a strong, dark set of knuckles.

The line between the tiles is an extended series of ellipses, indicating there is always far more to be said.

And the images are behind the cut.... )

Dear Me

Jun. 12th, 2013 03:28 pm
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
The envelope for this mail art is made of heavy drawing paper which had previously been painted with undiluted blue and yellow acrylics. Although it was painted with a brush, I was going for a repetitive pattern of variable colour values in the blue, similar to the potato printing I did as a child. The sheet was then trimmed to a square shape, the centre of the sheet was determined, and two corners of the paper were folded in until their points touched. Then the other corners were folded inward past the centre point and the body of the envelope was attached in place with double-sided tape.

The inset is made of flimsy graph paper, and detailed with ink and marker. I chose the graph paper because the repetition of squares reminded me of my primary school years, when many homework assignments were done on similar paper. The paper is the same sort of stuff I used throughout my grade school years for not only schoolwork, but for corresponding with my numerous international pen pals.

The images and text come from a variety of memories: most from my childhood, with memories of school experiences, foraging, gardening, living in wilderness, Jehovah's Witness upbringing, my hobby of drawing mazes, etc. The masks symbolize the constant need for adaptation, my drama and Classics background, and that what you see on the surface does not necessarily reflect the thoughts and memories beneath. The fractal patterns partitioning the sections are a reminder of the repetitive nature of thoughts and memory.

I intend for the piece to be both bittersweet and playful. )

Girl Talk

Jun. 5th, 2013 03:31 pm
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
I'm taking a Coursera course on Art Techniques, and thought I'd share my work with you.

Read more... )
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
So I drew this today for the art class I'm taking through Coursera. It's free, if you'd like to join.

I used pencil crayons, pastel, and markers.

It amuses me. )
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
My hip is improving. As long as I play by its rules, it's been forgiving, and today, for the first time since the issue started up over a month ago, I was able to do pistol squats on that side without any issue. Yay! I'm hoping it will let me start running and jumping soon, too. So far, not going to do it, though. I tried doing mountain climbers a few days ago, and just 20 in, my hip said, "NO." Ok, then.

I'm also able to carry things around for prolonged distances again without my hip freaking out, so yesterday, I brought four bricks into the house and washed them off. Sounds pretty random, I know, but they're going to be my self-inflicted handicap for several months as I train up for the Goruck Challenge in June. I'm intimidated as hell. Those bricks are heavy, hard, heavy, unwieldy, and heavy. Did I mention they're heavy?

My physiotherapist told me I'm doing all the right things, and shouldn't bother going back to see him unless I regress, so hooray for that! He's not ruling out the cracked cartilage idea, but, based on the spiral nature of the way my hip catches, thinks it may actually be a ligament issue.

Since running and jumping are bad ideas at the moment, I've been doing pull-ups for every workout where running/jumping is prescribed. I feel like those are coming along pretty well. My endurance is improving, and my strength is starting to improve, too.

I'm a full-time student again, somehow, though not through any particular school. I'm registered for seven different courses:
  • CrossFit (I totally include this. Consider it my major.)
  • Aerial silks
  • Classical voice
  • Audio design
  • Fantasy/Science Fiction Literature
  • China painting
  • Acrylic painting

On top of that, I'm working on various projects, and playing in two tabletop RPGs and one LARP. And doing housework. Good lord, my life is full.

Here are a couple of pictures of things I did today: )

And now to get some prep work done for painting class tonight, and to do some more reading for my lit class.

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