Thursday, February 8, 2018

Dia de los Muertos Art in Prismacolors

Dia de los Muertos

It's funny how saying a thing can actually cause the exact opposite to happen. "I promise, I won't get hurt" is usually the last thing you say before falling flat on your face. "I'm going to sleep in tomorrow" will sometimes cause your internal alarm clock to go off earlier than normal. At the end of 2016 I told my patient and supportive wife that I wouldn't be taking any commissions in 2017 so that I could get some home improvement projects knocked out. Instead, I completed more commissions in 2017 than in any other year, ever. This was not a deliberate reversal of my endeavor, it just falls in line with saying one thing only to see the inverse take place.

Photo from my Instagram feed

After the thirty black and white commissions I started in July 2017 there were a couple of commissions that came in from long-time collectors that needed to be completed before Christmas. This Dia de los Muertos piece was one of them. I was really excited when the collector pitched the theme, but the deadline was short. I was already working on another commission and had a couple of pieces I wanted to finish before Jekyll Comic Con and Holiday Matsuri. So, I ended up taking my materials to Holiday Matsuri to work on this Day of the Dead illustration, which is something I never do.

I don't usually like drawing or painting at shows because I want to focus on you. I want to meet new people, share my art, see other artists' work, catch up with collectors I've met over the years, and enjoy the rewards of the day to day process of making the art in a lonely studio. This time, however, was a great experience because it taught me two things:

1) If you want to do more, you have to do more. I know it sounds silly, but some of the best lessons are the simplest ones. You see, I am always wondering what the next step should be in my career as an artist. You can plan and email and discuss and Tweet but until you push the limit and create more and better work, you're running in place. So, I got up early each day before the convention and worked on this piece in my hotel, then after the exhibitor hall closed, I left the party behind and went back to my room to work on it again.

2) Having a mission builds clarity. This may not be directly connected to working on a commission while at a convention, but this is something I though about while coloring on it. Working from home can be a windswept rodeo of wrangling one task after another, only to feel exhausted at the end of the day without having much to show for it. Knowing I had a deadline gave me drive, drive gave me focus, and focus gave me clarity; The clarity to see that creativity without purpose is like sitting behind a drum set and just whacking away randomly. It feels good but those in ear shot may not appreciate it as much as you do. Start playing a good groove and people will start dancing.

Photo from my Instagram feed

At the end of it all the Christmas commissions were all delivered on time, I accomplished more than I ever thought I could in a short period of time, and I learned once again that autopilot is never an option. You have to take charge, adapt, and really truly push forward to make any gains.

Hopefully this inspires you to push in your own endeavors. What drives you? What slows you down? What are you doing to keep on doing?

Prints and originals at or

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