Secret art for sale

I’ve already sold several pieces, and am in negotiation to sell a few more, in my ‘Blank Canvas’ Art Sale – though I still have another 30+ pieces I’d like to find new homes for, ASAP. In addition to those you can see at, I wanted to post about a few others that aren’t listed there. Why aren’t they listed? Different reasons, which I’ll try to detail below:

This piece, titled ‘screwed’, is approximately 32×47″, and is acrylic (spray paint) and screws on/in plywood. I worked on this piece over the course of multiple years, carefully mapping out and then drilling thousands of tiny, careful holes in the wood, selecting lies GWB had publicly told the American people (and which I felt we all knew, by then, were blatant lies) and spray-painting them on in as twisted version of the American flag as GWB must stand by, then screwing, by hand, about 1600 tiny screws into the thing (without scratching the paint job, of course). Why is there no image of it on Well, I’m disappointed in it. The flag didn’t come out as well as I’d hoped, GWB’s face isn’t as clear as I’d hoped, and I didn’t finish it until 2006. I’d meant to have it done prior to GWB’s re-election, and when that failed (and my life changed), I set it aside for a long time. If you’re interested though, please, make me an offer.

This piece was one of the oldest I still have, circa 1998. The technique, the quality, even the theme and tone of the piece contribute to why it isn’t currently listed at It doesn’t fit in with the other work I have there. I think what I was trying to do was paint a black rainbow in the sun’s rays. As though, no matter how bright the things of this world may seem, none shines as bright, none is as pure, as the light and sacrifice of Jesus. I just don’t feel it was adequately communicated. My records indicate that this piece is titled ‘gothic inversion’ and that it is 18×24″, acrylic on canvas. If you’re interested, you can make an offer, but right now it’s hiding in the closet. It was taken down in the last round of “I don’t really want to see my old work, anymore”, years ago.

The piece at the right, incongruously titled ‘Spiraling Shape 4’ despite being the first painting I worked on after moving away from home in 1997 and the first of the “Spiraling Shape” series, is not listed at primarily because I didn’t feel it conveyed anything emotional. When I was first putting the site together, it was important to me to stick to the stated theme, ’emotional artwork from a troubled mind’, which fit better with, well, most everything else I paint. This piece is 20×16″, acrylic and yarn on canvas, and if you want it, take it – every time I walk by this one, I half-wonder why I didn’t hide it in the closet with ‘gothic inversion’. On the other hand, as you can see in a semi-recent post I made about it, it does help me see how far I’ve come.

There’s this thing. It’s called ‘reign’, it’s 16×20″ and acrylic on canvas, and it was also painted in 1998. You can probably see what I was going for, though the bad photograph really brings out all its weaknesses. (In normal lighting, it’s somewhat less painful to look at. The brush strokes are less obvious, for a start.) There’s a fair amount of math at play in this piece. The color scheme is even based loosely on a derivation of the digits of pi. I remember when I liked it. I think I’d like it better if I did it now, with another 13 years’ experience at play. If you think you’d like it, make me an offer.

I have several more from the same period, all these rainbows. ‘Rainbow Connection 2’, ‘Rainbow Connection 3’, and ‘Spiraling Shape 6’:
The first one, ‘Rainbow Connection 2’ is actually glow-in-the-dark; an alternating pattern of rainbow stripes curved in the opposite direction from the visible stripes actually glows, either in black light or after being in a brightly lit room. This never worked as well as I would have liked, though it did work. It was a complex and fascinating attempt to achieve something I’m not sure I’d dare, now. Some of the things about it I could achieve with more skill, others would probably take a fair amount of experimentation and frustration with the materials before I was satisfied. As it was, I just made the one attempt, and left it at that. It was my practice run, and effectively discouraged further experimentation.

The second one, ‘Rainbow Connection 3’, which I thought of (before painting it) as an object passing through a rainbow and bending it along the way or leaving a wake, inspired a lot of lewd comparisons over the years. The frustrations I had with this one also informed a lot of my work in the time since, and I feel I have significantly improved my ability to mix and blend colors smoothly since painting ‘Rainbow Connection 3’. The third one, also numbered after-the-fact, is ‘Spiraling Shape 6’ and is probably the third or fourth thing I tried to paint after moving out on my own. It is roughly based on the golden mean, both in color and in shape, though I feel my later work interpreting the same thing came to a better result. All three are 16×20″, acrylic on canvas, except ‘Spiraling Shape 6’ which also has yarn. These three I had to dig around a bit for, to be sure I actually still had them. I keep them out of sight.

I also keep ‘Untitled Triptych 2’ out of sight. This was done while I was experimenting with reverse painting, and with painting onto glass, then carefully transferring just the paint from the glass to a painted canvas, and integrating the reverse-painted image with the canvas-painted image. I’d show you what this eventually led to, one of my greatest works (a portrait of Tyler Durden), but it was the first painting I ever sold, which was then gifted to someone, which was then stolen/lost by their evil ex-. I didn’t start seriously photographing my art until a year or two after that sale, and didn’t try to track it down for a photo before it was lost. Anyway, this thing is a 16×20″, acrylic on canvas image created as an experiment about translucency in the work that led to that project. (Alright, alright, there might be a painting or two that utilized the technique later, which I do have photos of. Tyler was better.)

The above image is ‘Untitled Triptyh’, three 16×20″ canvases, painted with acrylic, showing some of my earliest work with color blending, and using pure color to tell a story. The color reproduction in this image (as in all the images in this post) is not particularly good. I took the photo with the best camera I had in 2003 or 2004. I had a better camera for a time, but currently my best camera is in my iPhone. sigh. Anyway, I’ve had a lot of interest in this over the years, but only ever for one or two thirds of it; most people don’t seem to like the leftmost canvas. bleh.

And the last of my older artwork, I have one more small piece I created while I was working toward the one I started the post with. This piece is titled ‘screw Moo’, it’s approximately 17×14″, and is acrylic (spray paint) and screws on/in screws and wood. I adapted my painting ‘Moo’ to test out my ideas for creating a design from screws in a piece of plywood. This one was only hundreds of drilled holes and hundreds of screws, although it has the added bonus of the step of spray-painting half the screws before screwing them in, then trying not to scratch the paint on the screws while screwing them into a piece of wood. It was much more successful than the bigger piece, I think. The lighting in this photo is terrible; the background is just solid, spray-painted black. As with all the others, if you think this piece would look great in your home, make me an offer. I’d love to have it find its way to a new home.

Now on to the unseen of the newer work. The image at left, shot with my iPhone, is the best I have of this piece, which is … uhh… well, it’s sculptural, really. It’s about 8x11x6″, acrylic and yarn on canvas, and it’s titled ‘too far, not far enough’. I was learning to crochet, making little crocheted sculptures, and I began thinking about how to combine the sculptural work I was doing in yarn with the two-dimensional work I was doing on canvas. So I crocheted this right into the canvas (after painting the 2D part in colors I chose to match the yarn, ahead of time) and the blobby bits actually extend right off the image into the room. I really like this one. Unlike most of the stuff in this post, which I was tired of looking at a long time ago, this one I still like, and the reason it isn’t on is that I have no idea how to present it there. A straight-on photo (like every other piece on the site) doesn’t show you what it is. What I’d like to do is take a bunch of photos and make an interactive image a viewer could mouse around and see it from multiple angles. Part of the reason I never followed through and made more pieces like this was the difficulty (near-impossiblitiy) of displaying them properly on my website.

Here’s another one I’ve never yet figured out a sufficient way to photograph. This is a 40×30″ monster of a painting, acrylic and ink on canvas, and it’s somewhat darker than it appears in the image at right. Dark enough that the words all down the left-hand edge, in sharpie, are almost unnoticeable. They disappear into the darkness. This piece is titled ‘this is how I…’, and the word repeated over and over down the side is “feel”. The darkness, the colors, the contrast, the shiny reflection of light which sharpie ink does and the paint does not, it’s all important to the piece, and I haven’t encountered a camera and lighting setup, since painting it, which captures the image accurately. And it was too big to take with me to the Art Walks, without causing trouble. So it’s almost never been seen. If you’re in the Phoenix area and would like to come by and see it some time, you’re welcome to. If you want to just buy it without getting a good look at it, that’s welcome, too. It’s a very emotional piece. Here was another attempt to get a good shot of it:

Not sure either shot does it any justice. I feel almost as bad about photos of the following painting, though I’m also pretty sure there were failures in the painting process as well:

You might not be able to tell by looking at that image, but it says “sleep” … in a way. The ‘s’ of sleep is just the shape of a wave in the darker block of the image, and it’s only there in glossy medium on a matte background – visible to the naked eye, but difficult to photograph. the l is the border between light and dark, and like the remaining letters, is further differentiated by a line of glitter/iridescent medium. The remaining waves, capped with looping lowercase e’s, are also painted on in a layer of glossy medium on a matte paint background, and the p marks the end of the glossy area. There were a lot of mixed-media ideas wrapped up in this 24×48″ piece titled ‘water, bed’, even though really it’s just acrylic on canvas. This piece is, right now, the most likely candidate among all the pieces I’ve shown you in this post to be painted over first. A lot of the details came out great; I especially appreciate the edge of the canvas, which is painted a darker blue where the face is lighter, and a lighter blue where the face is darker. Others were not as I’d hoped. Not being able to show it is, perhaps, the worst. If you have any interest in this piece at all, let me know soon – I already have an idea for painting over it. (I also have a couple other blank canvases in this size, but … ugh. I stare at this thing every day, knowing no one else has seen it. Knowing it’ll probably never find another home. I’m sure that’s why my mind goes right to painting over it.)

So, in addition to the pieces you can find at, these are a few others I’ve still got around and wouldn’t mind being parted with. No reasonable offer refused, and on those old 16×20″ pieces, $20 seems pretty reasonable, right now.

Unspecified – Kickstarter fundraiser

I meant to post about it here sooner, say, a week and a half ago when I started the fundraiser, or last Thursday & Friday when I was having a bit of an emotional breakdown (visible here and there, depending on whether you’re my friend on Facebook or Google+, or happened to see me in person) which related directly to the experience of running a Kickstarter fundraiser… the emotionality of which led directly to my not posting anything about it over the weekend. Then something began to come together (more on what, below) which led me to not post or say much about the whole project until today. Anyway, here we go:

The new poetry collection, Unspecified by Yoshira Marbel, which I’ve been posting about for the last couple of weeks, is currently trying to raise funds to cover the costs of creating a print edition of the book. I posted a little bit about the costs involved in that (setup, proofs, initial printing, shipping to me, shipping to South Africa, ISBNs, et cetera) and in running the Kickstarter project itself (shipping rewards to backers, Kickstarter takes 5%, Amazon takes a few % to process payments), but I guessed I’d need $330. I decided to run a shorter Kickstarter fundraiser than average, since statistically most pledges come in the first few days and on the last day, only about two weeks long, ending at 9PM MST, Friday September 16th, 2011.

As of last night, we reached our funding goal. (This is presuming no one removes their pledge in the next two days.) There are still two days for you and your friends and family and pets to pledge to the project, knowing confidently that the book will have a print edition which should be delivered to me by the first week of October and then forwarded on to you post-haste. Knowing that Yoshira’s dream is coming true and her poetry and message will be reaching people who never would have had a chance to have contact with it otherwise, and that as a backer, you are contributing to that dream fulfillment (and you’ll have your name in the book’s Special Thanks section in acknowledgement of that).

Continue reading Unspecified – Kickstarter fundraiser

Twelve years working on technique

I’ve been making art my entire life, much longer than 12 years, but I thought I’d take a little while and write about a particular period of my work, from late 1997 to early 2010, which has largely been concerned with two-dimensional art, mostly acrylic on canvas. (Really, this post is about the first and last paintings of that period; as I post more posts about the work I did in between you’ll see more of the development of my techniques as they progressed.) For a few years before that, I’d been doing mostly murals, painting directly onto walls – of my bedroom, my friends’ bedrooms, even my church. Then, in the summer of 1997, I moved out of my parents’ home and across town to Tempe, where I was a physics student at ASU, and into an apartment. Where I was no longer allowed to paint on the walls. Thus, I began attempting to create art on canvases for the first time in the Fall of 1997. (I’d done a few not-very-good paintings on canvas boards at age 12/13, but that’s not exactly the same thing.)

Click any image for a larger view

The first piece of art I created after moving out, you can see at right. I’d been doing a lot of blue skies painting in my murals, and it carried over to this painting, in part. I was also interested in correlating colors to numbers and mixing them and laying them out according to simple mathematical patterns. In addition, you can probably see that I worked colored embroidery floss into my design, sewing right into the canvas. You can see that I was just experimenting, to a certain degree, playing with colors and shapes, with masking techniques, with so many things at once…

Continue reading Twelve years working on technique

Numbers for PHXComicon 2011

Phoenix Comicon 2011 was this weekend, and for the second year in a row, I had a small press table there. Let’s start with raw numbers, then get into a description of the experience. I’ll get into a bit of detail below, but in addition to the following book sales I sold two paintings during the course of the con, and traded a crochet sculpture for $50+ of merchandise from another local creator.

Here are my total sales (all paperback, except where noted), with last year’s comparable sales (in italics, in parentheses):

  • Lost and Not Found: 1 / $14 / (0 / $0)
  • Lost and Not Found – Director’s Cut: 0 / $0 / (1 / $10)
  • Dragons’ Truth: 2 / $26 / (4 / $49)
  • Dragons’ Truth MP3 CD: 0 / $0 / (1 / $13)
  • Forget What You Can’t Remember: 1 / $14 / (5 / $70)
  • More Lost Memories: 0 / $0 / (0 / $0)
  • MLM/Pay Attention chapbook: 0 / $0 / (1 / $2)
  • Cheating, Death: 7 / $70 / (6 (plus 2 given away) / $55)
  • Cheating, Death eBook (collectable card): 1 / $7 / (N/A)
  • Time, emiT, and Time Again: 3 / $42 / (N/A)
  • Untrue Tales… Book One (OoP): 1 / $6 / (1 / $12)
  • Untrue Tales… Book Two (OoP): 0 / $0 / (0 / $0)
  • Untrue Tales… Book Three (OoP): 0 / $0 / (0 / $0)
  • Untrue Tales… Books 1-2 (combined, OoP): 1 / $6 / (0 / $0)
  • Untrue Tales… Books 1-3 (combined, OoP): 1 / $12 / (8 / $200)
  • The First Untrue Trilogy: 6 / $144 / (N/A)
  • The Second Untrue Trilogy: 3 / $70 / (N/A)
  • Total Comicon book sales: 27 / $411 / (27 / $411)

…that… didn’t total out the way I expected it to. I apparently sold the exact same number of books for the same amount of money, compared to last year. Weird. Anyway, based on my rough estimate of the same thing, I did pre-pay for a small press table at the 2012 Phoenix Comicon, so I’ll be there again next year.

((For reference, ‘OoP’ is ‘Out of Print’ and is the out-of-print first editions of the Untrue Tales books, which I’d had printed along the way as I’d finished each book – and which, with the new editions of the complete series out, I want to get rid of. Thursday and Friday I tried “Name your own price” but found people don’t like to do that, so Saturday and Sunday I said “50% off” and sold a couple of them.))

In addition, I brought a couple of paintings with me to show at the con: The original artwork I created for the cover of Cheating, Death, and my latest, ‘RainbowAwesomeUnicornWow’. I bought an easel specifically to show these paintings at this con, and I suppose it worked out alright, because the unicorn painting (which I had at/above eye level throughout the con) certainly brought more visibility to my booth than I would otherwise have had, and before the convention was through, both paintings had sold, for $400 apiece. I’ve still got to deliver them (this week), and both buyers will be working out payment plans with me over the next few months, but they’re also repeat customers who are also friends I trust. I’m sure that part of what made up their minds about buying the art this weekend was that I was showing pieces they were interested in, and that other people were expressing interest in buying them. So… not technically sales I made / money I took in at con, but certainly sales which mightn’t have happened any time soon otherwise. I feel a bit bad about it; it hadn’t been trying to pressure those particular people into buying those pieces, I simply wanted to sell the art. I haven’t done any Art Walks or other shows in over a year, so wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. :/

On the other hand, if I add the art sales to the book sales total (using accrual method accounting, of course), my sales at this year’s con are nearly triple last years… even though they were actually, eerily flat. (Come to think of it, the only non-book I sold at last year’s con was a crocheted artwork, sold for $55, and this year I brought a single piece of crocheted artwork to decorate my table which I traded, at the last moment, for roughly the same value.) Eerily flat.

Of course, there are also expenses. The cost of the table, of gas to and from downtown every day (or, as others do, of renting a room downtown for the duration), the cost of parking (last year I was trying to use free street parking ~1mile away & ended up getting a ticket – this year I paid to park in a garage adjacent to the convention center & ended up paying much less), the cost of food while captive downtown for ten and twelve hour days, the cost of the new easel, a few display materials, hundreds of business cards, and (I never account properly for this) the value of my time. I’ve been coming out a bit ahead each year, though realistically -if I want to do any better- I’ve got to spend significantly more money. Buy bookmarks or postcards or the like to try to sell or simply give away. Buy big, full-color signage; at least with my company name, possibly with my book covers, et cetera. Pay for a full-size booth instead of a small press table. Worse, perhaps worst of all to me, and most-recommended to me by other creators and by fans/attendees alike, is to show/sell at more conventions. Leprecon, San Diego Comicon and Emerald City, Tuscon Festival of Books and TusCon, Saboten-Con (really?), CopperCon, and on and on… Each one a big up-front cost for a space, tied to the hope/dream that I’ll sell enough to earn it back, and most with travel expenses far, far beyond both booth costs and my best sales experiences, ever. Hotels, gasoline and/or flights & shipping, and the cost of eating out multiplied severalfold (I could eat breakfasts at home, this weekend, and make/pack lunches, which is difficult or impossible from a hotel room in a strange city) and I doubt I could make enough sales to break even with such expenses. Yes, it’s a problem of confidence. It’s also a problem backed up with data, as in: $400 in book sales doesn’t cover $1000+ in expenses for a non-local show. Heck, a standard 10’x10′ space at SDCC is listed at $2200 for 2011. (The Leprecon & TFoB web sites are so terrible I can’t quote prices for you here; I can’t find them.) If I were motivated by money, I’d likely either have some terrible plan to make conventions profitable or have given up on the whole thing by now…

Realistically, I wouldn’t be doing Phoenix Comicon, either, if my wife weren’t in love with the whole thing. It’s a lot of effort, it results in a tiny amount of profit and a huge amount of stress and a small number of new readers. (For comparison, I sold books this weekend to only 20 new readers and gave away roughly 200 business cards (most of which have probably already been thrown away) – while each of the 13 of my titles which are available as free eBooks and podcast audiobooks finds nearly 200 new readers a month, every month.) There are roughly 3 people I met and talked with this weekend who I expect will, upon reading the books they bought from me, turn into “true fans” of my work (though 2 of those are teenagers who I’m not sure qualify in the sense of a small number of “true fans” being sufficient to financially support an independent creator, yet) – and that’s great… but I wonder about how much time and effort and money ought to be invested in acquiring one more fan… and I really need to get some sleep.

I’ve just looked up and it’s after 2AM… and I’ve been running long, hard days at the comicon since I woke up early Thursday morning. I probably won’t get much more good thoughts out of my now-almost-painfully-tired brain until I’ve slept. Feel free to insert your input in the comments, or by email, or by calling/txt’ing me… Or by buying my books… or art… *sigh* Enough trying to sell. Hopefully for a long time.

Success vs. Business

Sometimes I look at the things I’m avoiding, like using any of the increasingly-large offers for free AdWords advertising I keep receiving, and wonder whether I’m afraid of success. Literally, I do not advertise my books or art through any traditional means. I don’t think it’s because I’m afraid of success. I think it may be because I’m afraid of business.

I don’t like the parts of running a small business that are the business side of things. Accounting/bookkeeping, paperwork, taxes, marketing, even some aspects of customer service. All of which are things which increase in time investment & complexity, the more business I do. With the books side of the business, the side most likely to be able to create working advertising for, the amount of extra work that needs to be done for each book sold seems disproportionate with the amount of income earned, especially in relation to the same ratio re: art sales. But how do you sell my original artwork via a 2-line text ad? What search keywords are going to be coming from people who will like my art and will click on an ad? Books are somewhat easier, though I doubt the word “zombie” comes cheaply…

If I were selling enough paper books directly (I earn 2x to 6x more per book when I sell directly, rather than wholesale, so hitting any $ target is less copies/marketing/et cetera that way) to say with any seriousness that I was making as much or more than I could earn via a traditional publishing company & contract, the time and effort it would take to physically process & ship the orders would nearly be a full time job in itself, leaving little energy left for creation of new works. That is a scary thought. That is what I’m somewhat afraid of: that I’ll be doing so much business that I won’t have time to create.

So, yes, perhaps I’m doing this writing thing “all wrong” and I ought to have gone the “normal” route where I let a publisher take most of the revenue in exchange for doing all the business-side stuff I don’t like, giving up the ability to do the editorial, design, layout, cover design, and web site design aspects of the job that I do like along with them. Except that doesn’t really end up paying much better than what I’m doing now, for most authors, since they’re putting their own money into the publicity efforts I’ve mostly been avoiding… Out of the advances they’ll be lucky to ever earn out. Maybe.

Success, though… For me, it’s more about being able to create. To create what I want to create, when I want to create it. I semi-recently had a conversation with my wife about it, where she (effectively the sole income-earner in our household) questioned the very idea that I ought to be trying to earn any sort of living from my creations. Like, “where did you get that idea?” And I think she was right, and well in tune to what I actually believe & want than my own behaviors and projected beliefs represented.

We’re closer now to a financial situation where we don’t have to worry every month about how we’re going to afford groceries than we were last year, and I’m decreasingly thinking about how to turn my creations into a regular income. I have faith in my work. I believe in the act of creation.

I don’t believe in the value of money, business, the market, or marketing.

And yes, this post is a messy ramble. I wrote it on my iPhone while my iMac was occupied with actual work.