The Reflective Journal of a Creationeer

  • Relaxing With Time

    Relaxing With Time

    I feel that I am a very lucky person. I appreciate all things in life from the small such as the smell of coffee when you open the bag to make a pot to the large such as getting a job you always wanted. I do not know if it is inherently me or my experiences in life that have opened my mind to all of these essences.

    I know that I am too empathetic. I used to get in trouble in school for reading when my work was all done. It would have helped if the teacher knew my work was done. I would hide my book inside the text book in order to read my newest story. Well, I would then be crying or laughing out loud and give myself away by “disturbing” the class. I have difficulty with reading and seeing cruelty. It is not so much violence; I have no trouble with action scenes or battles, it is one being cruel to another at the expense of making a victim. Yes, I was always one to challenge the bullies if they were picking on somebody. I didn’t often take my size into consideration during these situations. I would be into it and defending then wonder why I was spectacularly flying through the air. Just so you know, I am a little hardheaded. The bullies would not know what to do when I picked myself up and ran right back into them. We usually ended in a truce of some sort and sometimes even friends, including the victims. I guess with a strong sense of empathy; negotiation and liaisoning were my strong suits…..

    I am telling you this as I now find myself as a retiree from my primary work with the public school system. My last position with the school system was as a special education supervisor which required enormous amounts of negotiation and liaisoning. As these are my strong suits you would think this would be a perfect position for me. On the surface that would be true; but as a member of a tax supported organization, the odds were stacked. My defendants were the students. My work was to make sure the system was doing the appropriate instructional programming for those students. You would think that this would be straight forward but the position was one of no real authority over any of the parties involved, students, staff, parents, or even my own office. Now, I can handle a lot of “gray”; however, the ability to empathize and see all sides with clarity was slowly eroding my equilibrium. I was not in it for the fight of just winning cases. I was in the job for the students. When I found myself not able to recover enough to balance one situation to another and to appreciate even the little things in life, I knew I needed to move on. So, I have retired retaining my firm belief that the public school system will be there for the students.

    I am once again focusing on the little things in life, the smell of the coffee, the feel of the wind on my face, the beauty of a sunset…. I am remembering all the positives of my career in education which bring joy to my heart and rest to my mind. I am relaxing with time preparing to create another adventure to be appreciated in my life.

  • FOG

    Through the Fog:

    Billowing, cold, steamy, misty, thin, thick, echoing, hushed, fog comes with as many characteristics as necessary to describe the current mood, scene, setting, location or even a feeling. Which one often tells the story.

    Panting, we continued to run over the terrain our hair dripping with the collecting dampness. They were catching up rapidly as we could hear the horses’ hoof beats on the ground. There were only humans chasing us but we would need a miracle to escape. Then then the fog rolled in.

    The shapes of the cargo appeared out of the fog on the deck of the ship. Only the most seasoned sailors could manage the trek on deck in this thickness. “Breooooh”, the mournful cry of the fog horn rebounded through the air. Knowing we were near land was vital information and absolutely critical for our survival. We had the luck that our captain knew these shores and the underwater rock formations and fortunately our pursuers did not.

    Trying to keep my footing as I rapidly walk through the park to my next appointment. Ugh, I stepped in the mud again. The thick mist keeps hiding the path which I thought I knew like the back of my hand. Focus. Focus. This meeting could change the rest of my life. The mist sure is billowing around the lights. Lights? What lights? There aren”t any lights in this part of the park, especially like those. Where am I……?

    So, what does fog say to you?

  • Layers

    Layers

    The whole idea of layers has crept up on me slowly surfacing in my thoughts at various unexpected times. I am recalling as a child when playing in the mud on a rainy day starting a construction with a base. Using the base adding the different textures of mud by adding the amount of water I wanted to create the mud project I was working on. My brother and I would play together making comics. He was the artist drawing the pictures and I was the author filling in the dialog and commentary. Without any training at all, we worked in layers adding simple outlines first then filling in the details as we narrowed down our story. I’ve also been thinking about how nature is also arranged in layers from its tiniest components to our largest mountains although the arrangement is structured spherical. Now, of course, I am a “why” person. So I asked myself: “Why are you thinking about all these things?”

    I had not realized I was actually thinking about the concept of layers until one day in one of our Infinite Cortex Creation meetings we were discussing possibly using a different production program. During our discussions, the boys were using all kinds of illustrations with grids, figures, rotations, pieces of figures, lighting, depth, shading, and angles. They were asking each other specific questions then one would bring up a project he was working on and the discussion would roll forward on the capabilities of the program again. Now, not to toot my own horn, but I am pretty adept at visualizing in 3D (How I passed organic chemistry pretty easily before there was computer modeling.). As we completed our discussion during this part of the meeting I was still “seeing” the elements when I was asked about the back story of one of the characters in Gellini. I shifted my visualizing to “seeing” Gellini without missing a beat. Whoa! Writers create in layers too.

    As I saw Gellini moving through her story, she was not in a void. She was moving through a space and time creating a climate. Gellini, too, has a back story or, if you will, a history. Writers, it seems, draw on their ideas, then begin a process of developing the layers to support the story or nonfiction outcomes they have targeted. As with any creationeer process, writers differ on how they go about creating their layers per personality, training, project, process, and a whole host of other variables.

    If we take a look at any “How To _____” book on almost any subject, it is broken down into layers. You may argue that a talented person does not need all those layers. I would argue back. Study any known talent’s process and discover the work that you see. There is a rare one who does not work meticulously on specific elements and are often more ruthless on their expectations of themselves than others would be. The talent may not have been able to tell you what they were doing but they were naturally developing their own process of layers. My grandfather was a gifted wood carver and broke down the process to teach other people. When complimented, he would defer and just say, he used the same process as he was teaching, he just came by it more intuitively.

  • A Few Thoughts

    And a Few Thoughts…….

    We writers write but the words do not always come easy. I am not talking about that lament, writers block. I am discussing the process of writing words that have meaning and convey the essence of their intent. In order to do this, most writers practice.

    When I think back to learning to write in school, I frequently felt like a fish out of water, to use a cliche. There were all these rules. How to begin and end sentences. What kind of sentences to use. How to link sentences together. Then, oh my gosh, heaven help you if you put enough sentences together for a paragraph. Then one paragraph had to lead to another with the first introducing the rest and finally a concluding paragraph. Whew!

    At first, I resisted this dogma. I just wanted to tell my stories. I guess I had enough of a natural flow that my work was acceptable. I used a pretty well developed vocabulary for a poor neighborhood school, i.e. those high influential words that teachers like. Then something happened along the way. I learned how to diagram sentences. This was fun. Seeing all the relationships of the words and the different meanings added whole new dimensions to the words. These relationships gave the words power. Not to mention I liked to draw all the lines and shapes to put the words into the diagrams.Well, if the relationships of the words to each other was a so important than maybe I needed to pay attention to some of the other dogma. What was I missing?

    I opened myself up to the instruction and the power of the words and the intent of their use. It is amazing to me that that the use and definitions are as varied as the people using them not to mention the people receiving them. No matter how carefully you craft your words; the readers decide what they mean to them. This goes for simple instructions, advertising, sayings, jokes, novels to nonfiction works. So, we practice writing just like any other field, art, science or craft. We hone our words to convey our meanings, set a tone, describe a setting, have a character feel, draw you into a story or even get you mad at it, so many reasons to practice.

    Now to practice, after all we are back to that grade school mechanic of the sentence starter and my resistance sets in again. There are books and books and articles and other media loaded with these things. I have this problem. When the sentence is started for me, I go blank. Back to chucking the tried and true for me. For me, I just need to let my thoughts loose! Set them free and snag one that seems interesting. Using my senses to the area around me often stimulates the next thought for description. And so a few thoughts can be the next book, game, article or just a damn good writing practice.

  • The Three Little Pigs: exercise in font creation

    As part of an upcoming project, a graphic novel loosely based on the Three Little Pigs, I’ve been developing several fonts.  The two fonts I’ve completed so far are comic book speech bubble fonts.  As an exercise and to try out my new fonts I’ve rewritten the original Three Little Pigs fairy tale using my pig and wolf speech fonts for their respective parts in the story.

    Three Little Pigs

     

    When creating these fonts I began with research, I found the advice in The DC Comics Guide To Coloring and Lettering Comics by Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein to be very useful.  Even though I’ve made a computer font, I wanted the font to have a hand lettered feel.  To this end I created a single case font where the upper and lower case versions would be slight variations of the same glyph. I also sought the advice of my friends and designers who had more experience creating fonts than myself. They directed me to create several design goals, the look and feel, that I wanted the font to convey.  The pig’s Font I wanted to be structured and grounded, to reflect the buildings they make and their stern vows.  The wolf’s font I wanted to be sharp and fierce, to reflect the killer instinct and sinister intent.

     

  • Fillip’s Feast submitted to Apple

    In the wee hours of this day Infinite Cortex Creations Submitted its first App to the Apple App Store.  The review process can take 1 to 2 weeks so it’s unlikely our game, Fillip’s Feast will be available until after the new year.  Still we felt confident that our first product was ready for launch and it was important to us to get Fillip submitted before Apple cuts off submissions for the year on the 22nd of December.

    Submitting Fillip’s Feast is a small mile stone for our company but a moment of extreme pride for me personally.  The initial concept for Fillip came to me several years ago as a simple and fun game; primarily to use as an opportunity to teach myself mobile game development and design. The final product could not have been achieved with out the hard work and dedication of all the partners here at Infinite Cortex Creations.  It would be arrogant for Fillip to think he is solely responsible for our company’s existence, but he was the spark that set us on this journey. Below are the original concept sketches I made for the game and the central frog character, who would eventually become known as Fillip.  appSketch fillipSketch

     

    We’ll let you know when Fillip’s Feast is approved and available for download, we know you all are eager to get in that swamp and chow down some bugs.

  • The Interpretation

    Fortress006

     

    Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. My body trembled as the Great Tortoise of Fis came to a halt in front of the scout. The scout was hollering frantically at the cleric but I could not make it out. There was no need, the mahout cleric’s bellowing and waving sword told all. It was time to return. The roving cities of Bas were in peril and so was Sol’Ashe.

    The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.” could be a little over rated both in reality and the world of make believe. I’ve written an opening based on a picture crated in response to a challenge. I neither know the challenge nor how accurately the picture matched that challenge. I interpreted my way to suit my purposes.

    Another creationeer might want the horseman to be an adversary or one getting ready to flee and offering one last challenge. Is the city a garrison, town of clerics, farming community or a tower of magic? Is the tortoise gigantic or the people tiny? So many questions. When a story is developed the purpose of the story from the creationeer to the reader needs to be clear.

    Is the story going to be a short story with a single laser sharp idea, event, concept or question being conveyed to the reader. Is the sole purpose to leave the reader puzzling and thinking about the subject of the story? Maybe it is a short story with its own conclusion but also can be an event that is part of a much larger world and longer story. The reader, again, brings their owner perceptions and experiences to the story which affects the outcome of their read. The link here is that with language being filtered so finely the picture is even more so. Having both together strengthens the message but is still open to interpretation by the receiver.

    Now, you say, reality is different. Wish it was, our legal system and all the “eye” witnesses would not lose so much credibility if this was true. Indeed, the stop motion cameras of the football world is all about the “angles” since the picture does not tell all. How dull would our world be if it did!

    Keep creating and challenging those interpretations.

  • On The Wind

    I have been thinking about the wind in many ways lately. The wind engages our senses and sets the environment for our characters or is even the character and main event of many stories.

    Old man wind sighs.
    The North wind blows.
    A bitter cold wind aches.
    A soft spring wind whispers.
    The dry desert wind strips the moisture from the skin.
    A putrid smell lofted in the air from the sewers.
    The acrid metal tang of blood arrived on the wind announcing the battlefield.
    The storm arose as the wind lashed the shutters.
    The crew worked liked robots, thank the gods, as the winds howled drowning out the Captain’s orders.
    The wind lifted the feathers lightly in her gentle hands.
    We lay becalmed losing all hope until I felt the hairs on my arm lifted by a silent breeze.

    We experience this phenomenon every day of our lives being so essential to that state of being. When working our stories it can be present as a vital part or absent as a silent partner. On rare occasions a story is taking place entirely inside as an element then even the absence can have an effect.

    The wind can indicate time in eroding and changing the landscape. The seasonal locations or the erosion planes. The trick is not forgetting it is there until the storm is over.

  • Sketch Blog: A Character Study Portrait Update

    When I’m not working on Fillip Frogs Fly Feast, or Gellini’s Special Gift, you’ll probably find me creating more of Sol’Ashe’, The steam punk fantasy world I’m inventing as the setting for stories I’m working on. The story I’m creating right now starts on Bor Island. It’s a small island that divides a river and is known for a certain type cherry blossom that grows there. It’s flower’s smell invokes memories of childhood. I’m currently working on getting my cast for the story in place. Below is a concept portrait update of a speed painting I did when I started thinking about one of the characters. It was from a while ago before I knew what story I wanted him to be in.

    Original Speed Painting:

    OldBlueEyes

    Updated Painting:

    BlueEyesFull
    As a bonus, here are some silhouette studies of the Bor Island dear. The species has a fatty growth on it’s back to help protect it from predator attacks from above.

    BorIslandDear
    Look for future posts! I’ll be sharing more concept art for the story!

    I had so much fun updating this concept piece I also decided to update a speed painting with a new version, also a speed painting, but with more time spent looking at reference.

    Original Speed Painting:

    Water

    Updated Speed Painting:

    WaterFull

     

  • Creating What You Know: Dali

    As I have been exploring many of the questions that we use to journey through a creation as well as how a person thinks, I was sharply reminded recently of one of the most frequent pieces of advice by other professionals in creative fields. Use what you know.

    Last month, Mark and I visited the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL. We viewed his work from when he was young and just beginning through an impressionistic period, the long strong surrealistic period and on to a more traditional catholic/religious period. Now, prior to and since all three of our sons have become artists, we have viewed many works of many artists. I find myself becoming more “critical and objective”, of course, from my point of view!

    We did not have a great deal of time so we joined a tour which is something we do not usually do. What struck me as I sifted through the tour guide’s words while gazing at Dali’s works is that Dali had a fascination with the human condition from our base needs (ingestion, digestion and elimination), emotion (terror, anger, love, joy, hysteria, mania, depression, obsession, guilt and hopelessness) and relationships often including sex. All this in the backdrop of catholic Spain.

    Dali seemed to know curves and more than one way to look at a subject. He anchored this knowledge more strongly through his relationship with Gala, his wife. She evidently is acknowledged as his muse. She also appears over and over again in his works; therefore, he was using what, in this case a who, he knew to guide his creations. I do not know if this was the intent of the curated tour or just my impression but it seemed to me that as Dali aged, his final projects were more about his relationship to Gala than whatever the contracted work intended.

    Our family has always loved what we have always called Dali’s “magic” pictures which are the illusions where when you look one way you see one picture and you look another you get a totally different image. Many would have a hard time looking at surrealistic art and see that Dali was using what he knew. Next time you view a creation of Dali’s look into it and I think you will see.

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