Tuesday, February 19, 2008

For Daniel

The older I get, the grumpier I get. I'm becoming a crotchey old geezer at thirty-two. It's such a sad truth. It makes me grumpy just thinking about it. I was IMing a friend of mine about it and he seems to share a similar disposition. We were trying to figure out how could this have happened. How could we have turned out to be such cosmic killjoys? I can point my finger at all manner of stuff: work, stress, lack of excercise (I'm trying to go back to the gym! Honest!), rainy weather, the color of my shirt... whatever. But really, everybody goes through all this stuff too, I have no true excuse to be an "old fart". I remember being a cheerier person when I was younger. As an artist, my mindset definitely affects my artwork. When I get down to making art, it can usually change whatever mood I might be in (default mood settings = grumpy). But I guess I have to get down to actually making the art first! And lately, I just haven't had the time to work on my own stuff.

Three or so years ago I joined a missions program with my church(
Bethel Christian Church) that helps out orphans in Kenya. The AIDS epidemic runs rampant there and many children are left without parents because of it. For a small monthly donation, it's possible to send a child to school and give them a decent meal.

The first child I sponsored had dissappeared along with a relative of his a while back. The second child I sponsored, one of my church elders had actually met and wanted to be his sponsor since they got along so well. So now I have my Third: Daniel Mutie. From some of the updates I've gotten, I've learned Daniel follows Kamba tribe culture, wakes up at five o'clock in the morning to start his day, is now in Class Five at school and he likes to draw.

With the kids I've previously sponsored, I usually try to draw them a little something. But it wasn't until Daniel that I actually got to sponsor a kid that also likes to draw. Very cool. Unfortunately, since I've been so busy with being so self involved, I wasn't able to send a quick drawing to Daniel for the longest time. But that's okay. Daniel took the initiative and drew me up something and sent it to me just before Christmas, 2007.

It's the kind of inspiration that I needed when I needed it most. There's nothing quite like a child's drawing. It's very honest and pure kind of mark-making. I don't think I'll ever get to a state of drawing that's as free or as unburdened as when I was a child. When I see children's drawings, it reminds me to strive for that kind of freedom, that kind of fun. I've become such a grump in my old age, I've forgotten that I make art because it's fun! I don't think I've ever been as prolific in creating art as when I was a kid, and some of the coolest
stuff I created was when I was a child! Now that mr. Grumpalupagus has entered the building I've been such a stick in the mud about drawing.

Well, I definitely had to draw something for Daniel now! But I really had no idea what. How could a comic book dork like me be able to connect with a kid a whole ocean away? I kept trying to think about it, and realized the most sincere way I could do it was with the medium I liked the most: comics! Abuh--duh! I wrote up a simple letter I could send to him, and started trying to figure out a way to draw myself. I wrote out the monologue I had planned and started drawing my poses in a panel by panel progression.

I wanted it to be like a Sunday comic strip, just like the ones I enjoyed reading growing up, and was going to experiment a little with my medium. I would sketch out my comics in pencil, but then I'd use my Wacom Tablet to do the inking and coloring chores.

I have to admit the final product isn't the best it reminds me of one of those boring web comics (Sorry Daniel, I'm pretty rusty)! But--! It was a good experiment for myself, and a great way for me to get my bearings back in the creation of comics again. It was good for me to try and figure out if this process of drawing from start to finish was something I could manage. And you know what? I think just with constant practice on the Wacom I can get comfortable enough to do my drawings fully digital. But baby steps first!

I can actually see from panel to panel, my depiction of myself started solidifying a little better (ie. not staying on model!). I suppose that's what I get just going in there all gung-ho! I also notice I have a hard time depicting myself, as a stylized character. Must be some kind of mental thing. Maybe in time, I'll get better at that too. Anyway, while not the best stuff I've done, I'm actually happy with how I worked on this little comic strip: it was very fast, very fun and very first-impulse. Maybe it felt like a faint echo of how I drew when I was a kid? Maybe...

Anyhow, with that done, I picked out a picture of myself to send off to Daniel. He had requested one awhile back.. I picked one out from my trip to the Philippines that I was sure he'd get a kick out of:

Crazy huh! That's me and my sister, holding a baby tiger! Nutty! And this was few days after I had heard about the crazy incident that happened with the escaped tiger in San Francisco Zoo! And better still? The whole picture taking process only cost us around ten bucks!

Thank you, Daniel, for getting me to remember what fun it is to draw! Unfortunately my drawing muscles seem to be out of shape, but hopefully I can keep up the 'exercise'. I still have to finish up the first issue of my comic book after all! God bless you all and good night!

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