Hairy Fairies in the gardens! The Gardens of the Mythbegotten, my current name for this little bit of joy and peace in the midst of 2020 chaos, is the Patreon place where I create small watercolor paintings of fairies playing and misbehaving and having a great time. Occasionally satyrs, Minotaurs, centaurs join them…. and it’s light hearted. I sell the paintings, and I also have really cool incentives to stay in the gardens for awhile.
Here are some of the things you can get:
All the photos of my paintings as they are completed. You’ll see them first before I post them on Facebook or Squarespace or Redbubble so that if you want to buy one, you can. You get first choice.
Process photos—how I make them and what my thoughts were going into the painting.
Little meditations on art (famous art, but also my friends’ art because they deserve some cool essays AND you get to find out about art you might not know about that is deserving a look!
Weekly Tarot for Creators—a spread of cards for your week as a creator, with enough to inspire your work, OR to give you a head’s up about the week AS a creator. What energies are there for you as a creator?
At some levels you get a card mailed to you every month, a print, of one of the paintings.
Time-lapse videos of a painting
Stories about the Gardens with new illustrations
T-shirts, mugs, buttons!
These gardens are queer friendly, racially diverse, age diverse, and body diverse, and sex positive. While there are no depictions of sex happening—the often nude bodies and playfulness of characters suggest it happens.
For $1 a month, you can have my pictures emailed to you, and the other tiers are affordable for so much garden goodies! Check out the Patreon and see what’s happening in the Garden!
I have put my available original artwork on Squarespace. All my watercolors of fairies in the garden, Gardens of the Mythbegotten, and all the Yukon Cornelius paintings as well as my more controversial paintings of police action in Columbus.
I have been a big admirer of the works of NC Wyeth for a long time. You might remember his illustrations from your favorite classic YA adventure novels (now assigned texts in college 19th Century and turn of the century literature classes), books like Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Last of the Mohicans, A Boy’s King Arthur, Kidnapped, The Yearling, Robin Hood, The Deerslayer, etc. Very popular books in the early 20th Century with themes and storylines still made into movies today.
I loved his style! BIG color, lots of drama, action, adventure, stunning landscapes. I wished I could paint like that ever since I saw my first Wyeth up close at Texas Tech University. But I was a cartoonist at the time, and an occasional portrait artist, and I was working towards a PhD in Creative Writing. I wasn’t thinking of myself as an Artist, nor was I think of myself as an Artist who was going to study Wyeth.
As a gay man, growing up so Other from other boys, I had a peculiar relationship with the World of Boys and Men (which I will write about more in a later post) and that was a world that belonged to Wyeth as well. I had felt excluded for a long time from that world, and made up for it by being in other worlds. But I lingered outside the borders often and looked in at Things Which Were Not For Me.
So I pursued writing and teaching as a career, making art wait.
But in the last few years, my teaching situation changed, and it was difficult to find work as an adjunct teacher. I also continued to almost make it in the job market for tenure track positions. So i decided to make a change in my life–to build my art career–because I needed the money, a new source of income, and my art had waited long enough.
It is difficult to know how to address the current situation, how to speak out against the police violence and purposeful escalation of violent action against peaceful protesters, angry protesters, and protesters in the street speaking out against police brutality. They are often met with police brutality.
I’ve watched too many videos where police drag a protester into the middle or catch one on the side and physically assault them while they are “arresting” them. All the other officers crowd around the officer beating someone to make sure no one else interferes. They all cover each other.
It’s protected assault.
Officers have “qualified immunity” from work related violence that they do as part of their job. If they can say they needed to do it, then they can do it. They never have to be held criminally liable. Oh they MAY get fired, but then transferred to a new precinct, a new city, ready to start the abuse over again.
The Blue Code, the Blue Shield, Blue wall of silence, or other names, is an unwritten code of conduct that police officers buy into—protecting each other’s abusive or illegal activity. Even if they go in with the best of intentions, they will end up following the code and not turning in other officers, not speaking out, for fear of what might happen to them.
Today I want to share with you work that I completed while at the Columbus College of Art and Design, and which would have been part of the Columbus Arts Festival 2020 in June (but WILL be part of the festival in 2021!)
I fell in love late in life with a character from a Christmas special: Yukon Cornelius, created by Romeo Muller as part of the 1964 Rankin/Bass production of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”–a stop motion special that is shown every Christmas. You might recognize the character:
Burly, positive, full of helpful asides “Bumbles Bounce!” and “the fog is as thick as peanut butter!”–Yukon helps our heroes realize their dreams by a) saving them from the Abominable Snowmonster, b) taking them to the Island of Misfit Toys to carry a message to Santa to come get these toys and pair them up with kids and c) reforming said Abominable Snowmonster and making him tame, and cool for Christmas Parties.
I don’t know why Yukon stayed with me. It might be that I went to live in the Yukon for nearly 10 years. I mushed some dogs (tbh, only as a one-day fun thing in Inuvik, NWT–though I attended and watched the Yukon Quest as much as I could), and spent time out in the wilderness. But I also lived in the great city of Whitehorse being a friend and misfit to a lot of other friends and misfits, who are also great musicians, artists, talented amazing people.
Maybe it was that Yukon was very burly, and I was attracted to him, or even attracted to the kind of man he represented–a big “bear”. He seemed like a better version of a male hero than I had previously encountered. Though he had a gun, I don’t think he ever shot it. He was practical, helpful, encouraging. He had a lot of knowledge about Abominable Snowmonsters! And he was much more interested in saving people than in killing monsters. In the end, because Bumbles bounce!–Yukon and Bumble somehow come to an understanding. Bumble is just another misfit that needs to find his right place… and he does, next to the Christmas tree.
In another post, I will tell you more about that Queering the Hero journey I made–and continue to make. But here are my paintings, extrapolating three things:
Yukon Cornelius could be gay. People have commented before on the queer undertones of the show–read the articles here from Vulture, and KQED and in 2019 The New York Times opinion page—- about themes of bullying, about being different, about being rejected, about finding acceptance for your unique qualities. Romeo Muller was himself gay. It’s not a stretch to see the queercoding in the show. Making Yukon Cornelius gay is not a stretch either, since he doesn’t make mention of a wife, and reads as what we would call a “bear” today–a burly, bearded, slightly overweight, slightly hyper-masculine man.
Yukon has a way of charming beasts. His expert past knowledge of the Abominable Snowmonster speaks to prior run-ins with “Bumble”—and then he is able to tame and speak to the Bumble (who miraculously grows back his teeth in the final few minutes of the special!)
Yukon deserved more of an adventurous life.
So, I created that life for him–and for me. The copyright on characters from this movie had a misprint in it, making all characters in public domain (outside of Rudolph who had prior copyright). So I adopted Yukon as my hero and gave him a life of meeting cryptids (Bigfoot, Mothman, sea monsters, etc.) Using acrylic and myself as a reluctant model–or at times a stand-in, I painted these paintings. (side note: I’d planned to have several cooler guys than me become Yukon for these paintings–but planning photo shoots was not easy.)
So if you’ve always wanted a rollicking adventuresome gay hero, I offer you Yukon Cornelius–rescuing, negotiating, protecting, singing, reading, allowing himself to be loved.
As many of you know, I was an adjunct teacher (former lecturer, visiting professor, etc) for many (20+) years, and I’ve decided to go back to grad school to pick up more skills for commercial illustration. It’s a practical application of something I love anyway, but it allows me to illustrate my own works and the works of others.
While I’m in grad school, I have taken out some more loans to live on (and pay tuition and fees)—which add to my debt. It’s a gamble I’m taking on myself. I’m excited about winning this bet on me! I believe this is the right choice for me right now.
But I have no false ideas about how the next two years will go financially–they may be bumpy, but probably no worse than they’ve been. I have secured at least one teaching gig for the fall, and hopefully more will come if they like what I do. But money will probably still be tight, and after the two years is over, I lose all that funding.
I’ve decided to start up a Patreon page for those who want to get special perks and help out an artist/writer while they retrain/ expand their skills and as they make a transition into their industry.
On that page, I will be offering not only news and excerpts from writing and art, but at different levels you will be able to:
see all my art I produce at CCAD
read a serialized, illustrated space opera created just for Patrons.
watch writing videos that answer questions you have about writing
purchase critiques of your writing, up to 20 pages a month from me
get reading lists and recommendations of people to read and follow
signed copies of my books
have portraits painted of people you love (up to 4 a year)
I give 10% of what I earn back into the Patreon pages of other queer artists/writers. As I rise, they rise. And I will post blog posts here about those I support on Patreon.
If you are interested in joining my adventure, please click on the picture below and it will take you to my Patreon page where you can sign up!
You do NOT have to support my Patreon to be my friend. Following me on Facebook you’ll still be able to follow my life and work, but Patreon offers many specific, special perks for those who do want to help out. I will not be upset at all if you can’t afford to help, or don’t want to participate in a Patreon. No worries. I’m so happy to have supportive friends who give me cheer, love, companionship, and a good ear when I need them! That’s what’s most important to me.
If you would like the perks from this Patreon account, consider clicking on the image above and becoming part of this journey in Columbus with me!
The Columbus College of Art and Design have accepted me into their MFA program, and my curriculum is all about Illustration (digital and traditional). I start in the fall. They have also offered me a chance to teach the History of Comic Narrative as an adjunct course while I’m in grad school and I said yes! So I’m very happy to be moving to Columbus for a couple of years, exploring my painting, my drawing and illustration. I’m hoping to acquire more skills to use for jobs—in illustration or portraiture–but also to illustrate my own works.
The program is two years long, is project based: you propose three projects, one a semester, and then one that covers a whole year. They have strong ties to industries that support artists: Disney, Wizards of the Coast, Hallmark, etc. I’m very excited about the chance to improve my art skills over the next two years.
The hard part is that it will go SO FAST. I plan on learning all I can. I have five or six projects in mind–most of them connected to a writing project. I have to narrow them down! LOL.
I won’t stop writing and, hopefully, publishing, but instead of full time teaching, this allows me to survive for a couple more years, learning skills as I go, and allowing me to get more writing done. My goal is still to emerge in two years with more skills, more publications, ready to take on any jobs that I can get.
UPDATE: These paintings and more are going to be hanging up at Christopher’s Restaurant in Kettering, OH in June! So happy! You can see them in person if you come by Christopher’s in June!
March 26, 2019
Ever feel like one of the best times at church was actually AFTER church at the coffee fellowship? Where you all caught up with everyone’s lives? Where you shared the good news about your new job? Your new apartment? Or shared the loss of a relationship? Things that you may not be able to do in a service—and you receive things here that you may not be able to get in a service either. You get to share something with family, receive praise, encouragement, sympathy—become a community together.
So, I made a set of paintings picturing our church members having coffee together, as part of our regular coffee fellowship that happens after formal church services. I wanted to talk about how the informal coffee we have together is very much like Communion, in that it fosters community. While Communion is a very theological concept of remembering the life and death of Jesus, communion is also a way that a group commits to a larger mission together–to care about each other. My church members went along with my idea by sitting for photographs that I then turned into paintings.
I’ll probably add a few more to this set. I am going to try and shop around this show to area cafes and restaurants to see if anyone would like to show it. (Yeah, like Christopher’s! See Update!)
I also painted our church as a welcoming and affirming Baptist church, so the Pride flag is there…
Prints are available if you would like to have me make them. Just DM me here in the comments or contact me through my email on the About Me page and I can make a print. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
In April, I decided to take a Greyhound bus to see my birthmother in Indiana, go to a writing conference in Michigan, and pitch an idea to some wonderful publishers in Toronto. I was out of work, and had been for many months. The only affordable way to do this that I could see was to go by Greyhound Bus. It would take almost three weeks. I knew I would be on the bus for awhile. But I had this idea, that I would sketch the people and the places I saw outside my window on my journey. Just for fun. I would tweet them as “Sketches from the Road”. On one hand, I wanted to get my drawing hand back into practice. I used to be a cartoonist a long time ago, and a portrait artist, but I just hadn’t done a lot of that in many years.
So I did these sketches as I went and it kept me busy and made me really look and see the new places around me. They weren’t people and buildings passing by–I had to know their brickwork and their coats. And that makes a difference in the experience you have while traveling. At least it did for me.
Greyhound liked the whole thing so much that they decided to feature me on their blog, The Hound, and I’m really happy about that. Geist magazine saw the sketches, via my friend Lily Gontard, and wanted to publish the sketches to tell a story of my journey. I’m really thrilled about that too.
I will put up more of these sketches soon, as soon as I know what Geist needs. I have more wonderful news to share from Toronto soon, and when Geist’s article comes out in the fall, I’ll link you there as well. Look for more sketches soon.
If you’re a fan of Vincent Chong, and you’ve seen my post on him, you’ll be delighted to know he has a new blog and he has a new Art Book coming out. The details are below.
Vincent was commissioned to redesign covers for all of Stephen King’s books, and they’re stunning. I’ve picked out a few designs I like. I’m waiting still for the really cool werewolf one. (But there aren’t really any good werewolf novels yet…gonna have to write one)
My new blog http://vincentchongart.wordpress.com is now online. The blog will be updated regularly and feature posts including news updates, artwork, behind-the-scenes material such as sketches, insights into my working methods/inspirations, tips and info on life as a freelancer and much more. There’s also free downloads including desktop wallpapers, so please stop by for a visit and check it out.
I’m also excited to announce that the first art book collecting my work will be published by Telos Publishing. Entitled ALTERED VISIONS: THE ART OF VINCENT CHONG, the book will be a 48 page, A5, full colour hardback edition. Further details can be found on my blog.
The book will be published 25th March and launched at the World Horror Convention 2010 but you can pre-order a copy now direct from the publisher’s website http://www.telos.co.uk under the ‘Original and Classic Fiction’ section. Copies are expected to be limited so place your order now to avoid disappointment.
If you know of anyone else who may be interested in my blog or art book, please pass this information onto them.