Thirty-year old photo of my driveway in the fog at night when I lived on Curtis Street in Lake Geneva.
A silhouette of trees were visible against the night sky. I watched their actively swaying branches from my bedroom window. The house would sigh and creak and the windows rattled unceasingly.
Tonight the spirits were active. I felt energized and ion-charged. I was swept in my imagination to a grassy knoll, feeling the wind untie my hair. Anticipation, mixed with a strange sense of foreboding, excited me and sharpened my senses.
I don’t know precisely if this belongs in the The Story of Jasmine narrative, but it was among the notes I found. I include it because it sets a tone of where I was in my head space at the time … imaginative, moody and poetic. As a 20-something wisp of a thing, I was open to the unseen, the strange, and the mystical. In this regard, not much has changed. 😉
I share the first of many notes scribbled over 30 years ago for the Story of Jasmine.
The Guardian of Wisdom first appeared in 1980. I just made this fellow into a Greeting Card!
What kind of tale would a curmudgeon who sits upon a mushroom1 tell? My story will only be deeply significant to those educated, 20th-century minds sophisticated enough to interpret symbols. But for those who cannot, I have employed the scholarly device of using footnotes.2
1As a story-teller, I can take any form. Most will see me as an Ancient Chronicler who somehow knows everything. Perhaps I’d have a string of impressive scholarly abbreviations trailing behind my name — if I had a name…
I was within a creative whirlwind in the early years of TSR, Inc. (the company of Gary Gygax, one of the creators of the fantasy role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons). At the time, I was a young freelance artist living in Lake Geneva, occasionally working on assignments for TSR’s divisions. I was considered a “lesser” artist. But what I possessed the others didn’t was my unique feminine viewpoint.
I well remember the year 1980, because that was the year “The Story of Jasmine” Illustrated Fantasy Adventure was first published in The Dragon magazine. The “Story of Jasmine” would only run for a year. Even though my contract had not been renewed, Jasmine had been born and she refused to leave my mind.
The creative focus on the “Story of Jasmine” as it unfolded took years to unwind itself, resulting in scraps of dialog on hundreds of sheets of paper, numerous paintings and drawings, and a fantasy-role-playing card game. Jasmine was a constant companion who told her story to me for over a four-year period. When I moved out of Lake Geneva and refocused my attention as a MFA candidate in Graphics Design at Indiana University, that connection had gone deep underground.
* * * * *
I wrote the above in a notebook I just found, dated 1995. At that time, I must have started the process of collecting the isolated bits of Jasmine writing I could never bear to throw out. Now, 23 years later, again I think about the story Jasmine told me — the story that manifested in my mind every night for around 1500 days, somewhere in the vicinity of 38 years ago. For whatever reason there may be, Jasmine came to me. For whatever purpose it may have, I now choose to share her story and that of her companions.
All those years ago, the story unfolded in my mind like a dream. The story was not linear. The narrative began somewhere in the middle. Characters I had no clue about would speak dialog. I did not know who they were or how they connected with each other. After about a year, I began to write things down and put them in order. This resulted in “The Story of Jasmine” mentioned above, published between 1980 and 1981. The copyright is still mine.
Likewise, the writings offered here are not in any particular order. Yet I start with the snippets collected in that 1995 notebook, which was somewhat organized. It is my intent to offer different snippets daily so you can experience the story like I did. Enjoy!
Note: All illustrations and images accompanying this narrative belong to me. Most were created many years ago and have been repurposed for this share.
I thought I would share the results of a commission I finished in July,2017 for Fireside Creations. I met them at last year’s Gary Con. Here is Eddie Jonas / Stephen Lee’s description for the Blue Dragon Cover artwork:
“The background is a pale blue sky with white clouds. There is a turning young male blue dragon that is using his lightning breath weapon upon a typical D&D party who are looking out from a floating oval portal that is suspended in the sky.
How we got there:
The room the party is in is a bedroom. They had just walked in, surprising the mage, who leapt through his stand-up oval mirror portal, changing to his true form, who has quickly turned and is attacking.”
I put a tremendous amount of loving detail into the scales and am proud of the result. I hope the art worked out for them well. Thanks, boys, for the opportunity to serve…
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.
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.
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…
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.”
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
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.