Creative Spaces

Wow, I finally hit upon a solution to a problem I did not know I had!

My mind usually gets all jumbled up when it comes to working on outside stuff, like art marketing. I often find myself bouncing back and forth between different ideas while attempting to focus on creative work. It’s a struggle to create. Anything.

The solution I hit on is spacial. Instead of mixing business stuff with creative stuff, I simple segregate the tasks by where I choose to be in the house. I now do my creative art projects upstairs, in my art studio, which houses my unconnected handy-dandy ancient computer. From now on, I shall refrain from using my i-pad to taint my creative space with business transactions…

It would be far better to save that for the downstairs. Then all the necessary tasks, which require my attention–business-related email correspondence, paying bills, health-care or official or social stuff to keep up with, etc.–will not interfere with my creative process.

Perhaps that is why I’ve always found myself physically cleaning up a spot before I start a new artistic project. Artists like me are sensitive enough to pick up on the energies of different environmental spaces. The space set aside for creative endeavors needs to be energetically pristine, inspiring, and open. If the space is murky, mucky, polluted with the oily residue of heavy emotions, depression or weariness, this definitely affects the creative process. It’s essential to clear such spaces, whether or not you are an artist.

I find that physically reorganizing a room is therapeutic and the end result is happy and welcoming. Putting away the books, reference materials, paper or food debris associated with the room’s prior use is usually enough. But in cases when it is not enough, I aid the clarification process by smudging a room.

I simply light a sage smudge stick (sold for this purpose) until it smolders and produces smoke. First, I smudge myself, starting from the top of my head and working down. Then, I begin in one corner (usually east, because of the sunrise) and work my way clockwise around a room, saying a prayer while I waft the smoke through the air.

Such a simple thing as this gets rid all of the sticky, nasty, lingering negativity–even serious negativity–as it renders a space energetically neutral. It is so much better to work in a cleaned space–both upstairs and down. Without the mind-fuzz, I can think more clearly when I’m performing left-brained functions but can also access my intuitive abilities better when I am doing right-brained activities.

Be that as it may, the point is that I’m becoming more aware of how important environment can be when consciously separating tasks. Where does one thing end and the other begin? The answer is as simple as moving up and down the stairs.

“Worlds of Empyrea” Kickstarter Provokes Reflection

The Kickstarter

I wonder how many people know or have guessed just how much I’ve been a recluse during the last quarter century. I’ve seldom been “out there” in the public eye, much less actively hawk my art. I probably do less than the minimum when it comes to touting my own abilities. For a long time, I’ve chosen to remain passive, and for all practical purposes, invisible…to myself. Turns out, I haven’t been all that invisible to my fans.

What changed?

I became willing to see a different perspective. I realized my decades-old story regarding my role within the budding RPG industry has only represented the beginning parts of a saga that’s still unfolding. The past represents only the first chapters of a continuing story. In fact, I can shape and reshape the greater saga (in real time), to embellish the rest of the story–so as to inspire, empower and nurture creativity in other gentle souls working from the heart. Perhaps I could be like a beacon for women in the gaming industry (as well as those not within the gaming industry) to never give up on their integrity or passion. By example, if I’m to fully participate in life, I must relinquish my “safe” status as hermit. But it’s all good, because it’s no longer about me.

To repeat, it’s not about me anymore.

No, it’s about new generations of gamers–female and male–who, at whatever age, are maturing into a sense of who they are, and what their lives’ contributions may be, but who sometimes need inspiration, guidance and a foundation to assure them they have a place and can make a difference in this crazy world.

Currently, we reach back into the past to acknowledge, touch, and revere the genius and the synergistic mix of how, when and where it all began. We honor our beginnings while projecting ourselves into a ripe future, bridging our past with the next step towards embodying the relevance needed to create a bright, bountiful future for games and gamers.

It’s an energetic.

Choosing to embrace the energy of a new perspective, all things become possible. As I become open to possibility, I take off the hand-brake of my limiting thoughts. Finally, I’m prepared to, as my late husband would say, “surf the crest of the apocalypse…” (What an image…)!

If you care to ride along with me, just lean into the wave, and allow it to lift you towards wherever your own potential takes you…

Tally Ho !

My Heart Misses You in Waves

I am pleased to show off my latest piece of artwork. This is a cropped version of a much larger submission to the author of a children’s book for consideration to be chosen as an illustrator of her series. Hopefully, my vision and the author’s are copacetic…

If not, I can still use the art, perhaps my image is striking enough to serve as a greeting card. The caption could read: “My Heart Misses you in Waves…” or “Sending Heartfelt Hugs,” or simply “I Miss You.”

The Map of Elvonia

 

I am so happy that a fantasy map I did last year may finally see itself being published. Not a stand-alone, it is a part of the novel, “The First Fable,” by K. R. Bourgoine. The white space in the middle of The Map of Elvonia  accommodates the gutter margin of a page. The Dragon was a special touch I added, a personal device of the author’s I noted from an old business card of his.

I was really happy to be doing fantasy maps again. There’s something about them that feeds my soul. And I hope my incredible feeling of awe while creating the map somehow gets infused into the printed copies.

The author, K. R. Bourgoine, recently began a KickStarter on his novel, “The First Fable,” and it’s up and running at the moment. Interested individuals, please inquire by hitting this link below:

Thank you very much for your interest.

The Birth of My New Endeavor

It’s no good to be mad at myself for not being able to perceive the solution earlier, especially since it’s a no-brainer. But it’s all in the timing, as they say. I needed to learn some key concepts first. I needed to know how crucial the energy of JOY is and how pervasively JOY operates.

This JOY concept is rather alien to me, given that I’ve had my share of misfortune. I thought I had many reasons to wallow in dark’s anonymity. As if martyrdom was a virtue, I fully participated in my depression. If I allowed myself to feel true joy, wouldn’t it diminish the seriousness of my suffering? I now allow myself a small chuckle at the memory. I was taking myself much too seriously.

It’s great to be at the point where I can finally laugh. It’s funny to me now, remembering myself as the misunderstood, deeply feeling artist working from the depths of despair. Who could have guessed the seeds of (my) art grows faster when JOY is present? The answer is so obvious, its hidden.

But still, I’ve ever so slowly been rising up, like a mist, from gloomy subterranean chambers into a lively expanse of light above. Today, I can appreciate the value of creating JOY. I LOVE that my early RPG illustrations of women provided lasting memories for so many. That’s why, in recent years, I’ve lent the bulk of my energy towards creating art for classic RPGs—in hopes of building positive memories for the next generation of gamers. Contributing to the feel-good memories associated with game play is a very worthy goal.

My newest dawning realization came when I proudly showed off my Coloring Book at a Feminine Empowerment Weekend. The response was so overwhelmingly positive, I’m expanding my market to include a demographic that has been as dispossessed and as invisible as I’ve been. My new demographic is women seeking feminine empowerment. Yet, I want to offer more than an awesome coloring book with archetypal images of powerful women.

I received so many comments about women’s love of mermaids, it got me to thinking. If a lady identifies with being a mermaid so much, why not create a painting of her AS a mermaid? What if I create fantasy portraits for women who wish to sustain the awesome shifts they’ve already achieved? Would women welcome seeing their innate genius and strength of spirit expressed through fantasy imagery? I hope so.

Many ideas occur to me. I could create portraits of women alongside their power animals, or as cat woman, or as an Egyptian goddess or queen or character, the possibilities are only limited by the imagination. Whatever their fancy may be, my portrait paintings will remind women of how unique and special they are—like beautiful, magical beings of light who have much to offer the world. The thought of uplifting their self-image through my art brings JOY to my heart and feeds my Soul.

I realize that this slight change in focus—from a fantasy artist to a fantasy portrait artist—has been staring at me in the face for a while. Haven’t a clue why I could not perceive the clarity of making this shift before now. But I won’t continue to admonish myself. It’s all in the timing. That’s my out. My new, and entirely unique creative endeavor feels good, appropriate, and totally right. I’m not saying that I will not also consider painting portraits of RPGers as their favorite character (think cos play)—of course, that’s always a possibility—but I’ll be directing my main focus as stated.

The portraits I’m envisioning would be painted on large canvases measuring around 36″ x 60″ in size, substantial enough to make an impression from a distance. There is so much to do to prepare this idea for launch and make a go of it…

Thank you for witnessing the birth of my new creative endeavor.

Shifting my Artistic Focus…

There is a secret language of signs and symbols that is accessible to anyone who is sensitive enough to take notice. People should be more aware of how dynamically the Universe (The Divine) speaks to us. Communications from the Divine world are constantly being directed our way to guide our paths and decisions. I’ve learned the wisdom of “going with” whatever the messages present. That’s the beauty of it. We need only be present enough to recognize these messages AS messages whenever they appear. First, notice the message and second, be able to receive its meaning.

The customary ways messages manifest are through dreams, synchronicity, song lyrics suddenly popping up into one’s head, a person inexplicably remembered, street signs and bill boards, the unexpected appearance of certain animals, significant phrases from an overheard conversation, hearing something on the radio, a broadcast or a particular movie scene being shone, recurring numbers, contact from an old friend not seen for decades, an accident –literally any happenstance or encounter can have significance enough to guide people in the right direction. All here is to do is to be open.

In a similar way, a major shift in my artistic focus recently became revealed. Back in September, I’d paid for a marketing class I was unable to attend. A portion of my payment had to be swapped out within a certain time for me not to forfeit. I transferred my funds to a weekend intensive in Colorado called “The Art of Feminine Presence” because it was the closest in cost. I took this odd change in focus as significant and chose to be open to whatever the lessons would yield.

This is where it gets interesting. It wasn’t necessarily, what was taught. It was the fact of me attending with a copy of my recently-created “Fantasy Maidens & Beasts” coloring book to show. My artwork received such an overwhelmingly positive response that if I had brought a stack to sell, they would all be gone. That’s when I realized, “Gosh! I’m catering to the wrong market.”

What a realization! The true demographic for my work are the participants of this class. Thus, I’m reorienting my artistic focus to cater to women who are stepping into their feminine empowerment. So, in a very interesting, but round about way, I found a key piece to my marketing puzzle, even though I did not take a marketing class. My creative orientation will adjust towards aiding the course of feminine empowerment in my art through the use of fantasy images.

And I thank the Divine Universal Mind for revealing this to me.

Darlene’s Design Tips: Characters Per Line

In reviewing some design portfolios of candidates seeking layout work in the RPG genre, I was very surprised. From the samples I have seen thus far, I wonder if anyone has any feel for using type at all!

The last portfolio I reviewed, there were only two readable pages among twenty. Only those two pages used flush left/rag right alignment and the ratio between the size of the type versus the length of the line was finally correct. Unfortunately, it was all wrong on his other sample pages.

If this person were a student of mine (I used to teach graphic design to University underGrad students), I would point out some things he did that are not reader-friendly, such as his persistent use of justified text. According to Wikipedia, when justifying text type, “the minimum number of characters per line (cpl) is 40 characters; anything less than 38-40 characters often results in splotches of white spaces (or rivers) or too many hyphenations in the block of text.”

Apparently, this designer does not know that using the optimum number of characters per line (cpl) greatly impacts legibility. Basically, anything from 40 to 75 characters is widely regarded as a satisfactory line length for a single-column page set in a serifed text face in a text size. The 66-character line (counting both letters and spaces) is widely regarded as ideal. For multiple column work, a better average is 40 to 50 characters. Font sizes need to be adjusted up or down to achieve it.

Therefore, if designers insist upon using one column of type across an entire page, they must strive to make the type conform to 66 characters per line. Otherwise, the page will look like the suspiciously small type within a lawyer’s contract. Longer lines (between 85-90 cpl) may be acceptable for bursts of discontinuous text, such as in bibliographies and footnotes, but for continuous text, lines with more than 80 characters is unacceptable. On the other hand, study participants preferred shorter lines over long lines, likely because they feel more at ease with the format. Also, short text, such as ragged marginal notes, can be as little as 12-15 cpl.

Whatever the format, the text should be always be inviting and easy. Avoid the mistake of presenting a wall of text with no breathing room. Don’t make leading–the space between the sentences in a paragraph–too tight. Think of the leading as the road that brings the eye back to the right to read the next line. The pathway of white should, at the very least, be 20% of the font size, or two points above the size of the font. That’s what is meant by 10 on 12 (written 10/12). It means to set the text using ten point type with twelve points of leading. The same paragraph set solid is written 10/10.

The designer would be cruel to the reader to set a paragraph solid with a justified type alignment. When the text is set as thick blocks, it becomes an almost impenetrable wall. Reading is slowed and comprehension is compromised. It’s also a recipe for a head ache. I wonder why this mistake is done so often in the RPG genre? Why is there so little regard for making texts legible and accessible to the poor reader? Is it possible people are unthinkingly proliferating the mistakes created by others before them?

Another portfolio I perused showed the complete opposite. This designer used the page like a canvas. Also being an illustrator, she used the text to accentuate her art. She made a statement about not liking there to be too many lines of text on a page. That’s ok if she was also the author. If not, I would hate to be someone who was trying to communicate something vital in the midst of visuals competing for attention. This designer was self-serving, showing off. Her allegiance was not true to her role as designer: to accentuate the meaning of the text.

A good designer makes sure that everything is accessible to the reader. The page is not a canvas for the designer to express himself–that takes away from the purpose of the page and spread. Nor is it a contest to see how many words can be crammed onto a page because printing is expensive. In good design, the words always take precedence. They are supported. Information is easy to find. Reading becomes a joy. Good design is reassuring to the reader. Good design is invisible. It does not call attention to itself. It faithfully supports the meaning of the words and looks easy.

Successful graphic design is Zen.

Sources: Bringhurst, R. (1992). Horizontal Motion. The Elements of Typographic Style, pp 25-36. Point Roberts, WA: Hartley & Marks.

Art created with pencil, colored pencil and grease crayon

For much of the art I have created for AdD&D, I used the medium of pen and ink. It was the preferred medium for the RGP genre, a hold-over from the print technologies of the past, before the digital age. Back then, it was simply easier to reproduce illustrations for offset printing where black was black and white was white–with no grey-scale in-between. Obtaining the illusion of grey-scale using only black was possible, (like stipling with dots) but very time-consuming.

At that time, turning in art using pencil was frowned upon because reproducing grey-scaled art for print via Photo-Mechanical Transfers depended upon the skill of the camera person. The results were not always happy. Often, the subtle details of the art was lost in translation, making the art appear lacking in the printed version. If artists wanted their work reproduced accurately, they defaulted to pen and ink.

But that was back then… This Gallery displays art I’ve created using different types of pencil.

Art created with pencil, colored pencil, and grease crayon

These are from my Sacred Places Series:

Gallery of 12 Calligraphic Art Works

By no means exhaustive, the works within this Gallery were chosen for their unique qualities–like utilizing paper Darlene made herself, her experiments in combining calligraphy with photography, non-usual layouts, calligraphy etched onto glass, type face design based on calligraphy and angelic alphabets, etc..

GALLERY of CALLIGRAPHIC WORKS by DARLENE

Although Darlene started dabbling in calligraphy early on in high school using a Speedball pen and guidebook, officially, she dates learning calligraphy “properly” when she stayed in London in 1974 as her Field term at Beloit College. Her teacher was Dorothy Hammond, Craft member of the prestigious Society of Scribes and Illuminators.

Many years have passed since that time. Darlene has learned her craft from the “who’s who” in the Calligraphic Arts–Shelia Waters, David Howells, Ian Reece, Donald Jackson, and Thomas Ingmire to name a few. Along with a myriad of different scripts, she also learned quill making, vellum preparation, paper-making, Medieval Gilding techniques, marbling and book-binding. Darlene’s also taught calligraphy and helped to co-found The Wisconsin Calligraphers’ Guild. Her calligraphic works have also been published in several books.

About works within the Gallery:

Flower of Darkness. Darlene wrote out in calligraphy several depressing poems using different colored inks for each poem–pale blue, black, crimson–on black paper she created herself. Darlene also hand-bound the book which fits within a box she made in the shape of a coffin. The binding incorporates the accent of a paper sculpture on both the cover and coffin-shaped case. 1986.

Flowering Tree Roundel. After Darlene researched the different flowering plants associated with the 12 months of the year (according to Sun Bear), she arranged the information in a roundel, combining illustration with calligraphy. Likewise, the colors she used for the calligraphy were also associated with the months. 1988.

Albert Einstein Quote. This calligraphic piece, which incorporates illustration with text, was published on the front of the Wisconsin Calligrapher’s Guild Newsletter. It is one of her favorite quotes from Albert Einstein. 1981.

Dragon Alphabet of Decorative Caps. These Capital Letter project combines two things Darlene loves: letters and dragons. 2003.

Photographic Calligraphy. Darlene used her favorite Einstein quote in her photography class at Indiana University. The piece was created by brushing photo-emulsion onto a piece of paper and exposing the portrait image through a layer of acetate that she had calligraphied. When exposed, the places where the light could not get through shows up as reversed lettering. 1986.

Pasolini Quote. Darlene stayed in Italy, attending a 4-month Artist Retreat when she created this calligraphic piece on paper which she made herself. As the time wore on, many of her fellow artists got fairly depressed and this quote somewhat reflects the mood. 1983.

Manjushri. This is a fairly straight-forward calligraphic piece dedicated to Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. In Mahayana Buddhism, his name means “Gentle Glory.” 2006.

Voyagers of the Light. The calligraphy was etched on Glass. 1987.

Osiris, the Plant of Life. This calligraphy was produced using different ink colors for different lines of an ancient Egyptian poem. 1998.

The Power of Love. This is not calligraphy–this is a typeface Darlene designed based on calligraphy. It’s included it in this gallery because it looks fairly convincing as hand-work. 2006.

Troubadour Poem. On the occasion of a marriage, Darlene created a calligraphic piece reminiscent of an illuminated manuscript page, complete with borders and illustration. The illustration is also crammed with hermetic symbols. 2001.

Ophanic Characters. Darlene re-designed a 16th century angelic alphabet, known as Enochian but re-named as Ophanic, according to the principles of character readability. 2009.