Sunday, May 30, 2010

Can it get any better?

Hello friends. I have great news, and some insights for you this time around, and I'm gonna throw in a couple of sketches too! I apologise for taking so long to do a new blog, but the last 2 weeks have been crazy insane, and my health has been giving me trouble as well. I've been dealing with a mild case of pneumonia again. But with COPD that is to be expected and I have to learn the warning signs, do more positive things for my body. The Pneumonia itself isn't all that bad, but what makes it a nightmare is that they put me on prednisone to help the healing, but plays hell with the diabetes. Yesterday my sugar levels where up to 546. Madison was tripping telling me that I could go into a coma. So we doubled up on the med, and the levels have dropped into the 100's and I feel a heck of a lot better. I will be off of them in a couple of days.
Outside of that, physically I am doing much better. I found out that the VA has a gym and I have been pumping iron. It is going to take some time but will get my body into better shape. I can't repair the damage from my youth, but I can make it stronger to fight off illnesses and all. Moving to my new home has really turned out to be a wonderful thing for me. Normally up here there isn't as humidity in the air, and that helps my lungs. Luckily I do have a oxygen machine for when I am sick. It really does help when your body is weak, but normally I don't have to use it. It does look like I am just going to have put sugar completely out of my diet from here on out. That will be hard, but considering how bad it makes me feel I am going to have too. Lol and Madison brought home a half gallon of my favorite Ice Cream this morning, which is Breyer's Black Cherry. I guess I'll have to let the kids have it. But its just another example of how considerate and loving Madison is.
Above are some sketches of a new painting I am trying to get done during this illness. I have a lot done and should be able to start actually painting this weekend. If you haven't guessed, my honey Madison is the model for this one. It is the first time I have used her in a painting, but I am sure over the years, her and the kids will show up in a lot of my work.
If you look at the sketches, it might give you an idea of how I work. I do this the same whether it's digital or oils. The reason I do that is to strenghten my "Artist Eye" You can tell your skills are good when you can do portraits. Your Eye has to be very well trained to make a drawing look like the person your drawing, so I always draw it to look like the model to start with, then I go in and start creating the look I want, and that is becoming easier and easier the more I work. That's why I am always learning and I don't take any shortcuts unless I am fighting a tight deadline.
More on that in a little bit, but back to the sketches first. This is another book cover, and this one is for a very sweet and dear young lady. She looks so sweet and innocence, and then I read about 4 of the poems she wrote for this book. Here is a blurp I asked her to write about the up-coming book.....
Illuminations of the Soul/Obscurities of the heart is a collection of poems, both light and dark that have been written over the years. The words allow the reader to have their own interpretation depending on the journey the poem takes them. This is my first book which is dedicated to my mom, {{May Reeves}} and advance sales will be available Mid-July or Early August. You can follow me on Facebook fan page or my link to my site on blogger

When I have the sketches the way I want them, I will put them together in Painter, and then start painting. What we are going for here is a positive image looking into one of those 3 part mirrors. In the mirror you see 3 different negative images. It is really a blast doing this one, because I don't have much reference material to work with. So outside of the Pic's of Madison, everything else is straight from the "ID" and in the "Book of Rose" you will be seeing ton's of sketches done by me for the book. Until I have all the names Trademarked, I'm not gonna say much about that project, but I will be showing the art for it. I really wish I could, but there are just to many thief's out there, and I have had dozens of my idea's stolen from me the last several years, so no more of that.
Now for some really big news. Finally after all the paperwork and jumping through hoop's the last couple of years, I finally won my disability claim from the state of NC. What this means is that I am going to get paid from the day I applied until I moved, and the disability will come from here now. Moving really helped and speed things up. So this means that we don't have to worry about bills anymore, they will paid every month, and I will have extra money to build the studio to where I can start making prints again, t-shirts and all kinds of things. I am only allowed to make so much before it will affect my disability, and I do not want to stop. I want to know I have that and can count on it the rest of my life. This also means I can do anything art wise I want to. I don't have to worry about the paycheck, I can do what makes me happy. I will still charge, but only what the client can afford. Over the last few years, I couldn't even began to tell you the wonderful people I have had to turn down because they couldn't afford my basic fee. Now all of that has changed. Now the struggling companies or writers can afford my services.
The only thing I will not drop my price on is my original oil or pencil pieces. That is a different ballgame altogether, but to buy the print rights I will work with your budget. The prints I will start selling here soon, will be priced so that the average person can afford to have something done and signed by me hanging on the wall. I am thinking 7 to 10 bucks, but until I know all the cost, I can't say for sure, so more on that later.
I hope you can listen and call in on a Internet show I will be on Sunday night between 6 to 8 pm, est. Here is a link to that. Please listen or call in. I would love to hear from you. Well, I am going to cut this one a little short, but will post a new one Sunday, with new sketches. Until then, "May the Darkness Comfort you"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Something New

Hello friends. This going to be the cover for Horror Writer Zoe Whitten's upcoming book "The Soul Survivors Club" and from what I know about it you'll go crying to your momma after you read this one. Very scary stuff.
You are going to be seeing a lot of new paintings from me this year, we (Madison and I) have a serious game plan and I'm not going to tell you what it is, but you will see tons of new art from me, everywhere and on everything. I will be doing work for almost every name in horror and going into new things you will be thrilled about if you like my work.
Thank you for stopping by. "May the Darkness Comfort You"

Monday, May 17, 2010

How are you doing?

   Hello my friends. It occurred to me this morning that in almost every blog I am writing about something cool that is happening to me in my career, and realized I hardly ever talk about me as a person like I did when I started this blog 2 years ago? I'm guessing, because I had another one before this one, and I don't remember when I changed over.
    One of the things I really miss is being able to write all my friends like I used to. Things are always so crazy I have to cut corners, like not writing letters, to help me have time to do the things that i do know.  But honestly I care a great deal about all my friends but just don't have the time to write anyone like before.   I still remember being foolish and saying I would never change and always did the things like I used too. Like I said, that was a foolish goal. These days I even have a hard time finding time to write a blog that has any substance and doesn't sound like a commercial for myself. A couple of times I thought about ending the blog, but then I realized that this is the only real way to keep in touch with my friends anymore.  So today, i decided to start talking about more than just my career.
     Obviously, i can't get to personal, because we had a Nut Job threaten Madison's 3 times in the last 6 months, because they where upset with me, and there have been a good many more.  But 99% of the people out there are wonderful to both of us, and I really enjoy watching Madison career start and grow. It brings back so many memories of my own career.  But she is working so hard at learning all she can, and we have wonderful friends that are helping her. I see great things for her future, but like most of us know, there is no shortcuts. You have to work your arshe off, developed a tough skin and keep at it, an before you know it you are living your dream.
     My normal day is probably not what you think. Sometimes it alters like here the last 2 weeks because of some new medicines the doc put me on. They where making me sleep way to much, so I quit taking them yesterday and now my body is returning to normal. Normal for me is I get up about 7:15 and by 7:45 i am in the studio going through my mail and checking the networking groups that I am part of.  These are an important source for finding new work. Normally by 11 i have drank a pot of coffee, ate breakfast, showered, and ready to get to work. Normally I work to somewhere between 7 and 9 pm, unless i am getting out a tight deadline, then it could be all night. After my day is through I try to watch a good movie at the end of the day.  Then it's to bed and start all over again in the morning, 7 days a week.
     My days are usually interesting and full of surprises.  For Instance Yesterday, I get a letter from a publisher saying " The deadline is almost here, where is the work?"  I had a total brain lockup.  I had no clue to who they where and what I was supposed to be doing for them. I wrote back immediately wrote back and gave them a great big  "HUH?" It turned out to be an E-magazine called "House of Horrors' which I had agreed to let them use some of my work for a feature they wanted to do on me. I couldn't believe I had forgotten something like that. I apologized and got everything to them they needed last night, feeling like a big idiot.
   There a wonderful e-zine out of the UK.  You know I told Madison last night that I have noticed here lately that I have been tons of work and interviews, the whole 9 yards for overseas.  Of course about half of the horror writers I work with are from overseas. But it still is bugging me I could have forgotten something like that, so Madison came up with a good solution. We are putting a huge calender in the studio so i can write down all the deadlines and anything i commit too.
    But to be honest I think the real problem comes from a new med the doc's have been wanting me to take for PTSD. I started taking them about 6 weeks ago, and I noticed right away that I was more upbeat to start with, and then  after a few weeks I would go into a stupor where I had to lay down to sleep, or fall on my face. So I wasn't getting the work done I needed to get done, which in turn make me grumpy.  And all of a sudden I couldn't remember things, so I quite the med's a couple of days ago, and I am already feeling much better, and getting back to my normal routine. We decided to tell the doc that I am still taking them though, because if I tell them I'm not, they'll put me on something else, and I have been doing great the last few months.
    I have been taking more pain meds though, because at my age, and working out everyday is veryyyyyyyyyy painful. lol. But the results are nice. I see my body getting in tone again, and it makes me feel better about myself.  It also makes me feel younger as well.  Now if I can just get rid of the grey hair. lol I don't mind aging, I really don't.  For one thing, it keeps me from doing stupid things like I did when I was young.  These days I stop and think, "now that might hurt if I don't do it right" lol  For a while I considered getting back into Kung Fu, or at least Thai Chi.  When I was a young man, I was very heavy into the Martial Arts, and I know it would be good for me now, but those stretches, oh god, they would be painful. But  don't be surprised if you hear me tell you that I decide to get back into it.
    I feel like the powers that be have given me a second chance at life, and I am going to live everyday to its fullest.  Madison has really helped me in so many ways that she doesn't understand, but if she would have known me 3 years ago, she would be able to see the changes that I have went through just because I love her so much and I want to spend as many days beside her as I possibly can. She is the only woman that I ever took everything she says so seriously.  The reason is simple, she has it all on the line for me. She got me this very expensive computer for me to do my art work on, she has made everything possible that has happened in my career. Let's look at the facts, since I meet her 13 months ago, I have been interviewed 14 times. I have had 5 features ran on me in name publications. I have been interviewed and filmed for a motion picture, and I will be on the radio heard all over the world in a couple of weeks, and the most important thing is that she believes in me and loves me.
    Before her in a 4 year period, I was interviewed 4 times, was on the radio once and was on a TV commercial and a guest on a "Ghost Hunter" type of reality show.  She is always telling me that I give her to much credit, but she doesn't realize that without her help I would have wound out on the streets, homeless 1000 miles from home because of the as*wipes that brought me here to use me until my health was failing, and I was dying.  I still get angry when I think about them, but I'm not going down that road again. I have no doubt that Karma will give them what they deserve, whatever that may be.
    Here is something I want to share with young Illustrators.  There is much more to this business than just being a good artist, you have to wear many hats as the saying goes.
A lot of times you work directly with the writer, and the info I am going to paste below is written by a friend S.D. Hintz.  The young man is an excellent writer and has a wonderful future in front of him.  After his article I made a couple of comments intended to help young Illustrators, So hear it is...

One of the things I dread the most as an author is what the cover art for my upcoming work will look like. I always have an image in mind that I think would capture the feel, but more often than not the artist and/or publisher has a completely different vision.

Should I Commission An Artist Myself?
Good question, and it rests on a balance beam, in my opinion. If you choose to commission your own artist and your work has already been accepted by a publisher, keep in mind that the publisher will not want to be caught in the middle. Meaning, your contract, whether written or verbal, with the artist is only between you two. Some publishers will not even give you the option of providing your own artwork, depending on the contract. One of two things could occur if you commission the artwork yourself:
You pay the artist for the cover art, you like the end product, but the publisher dislikes it. So now you are stuck with a cover you paid for that the artist will possibly be disinterested in reworking.
The publisher loves the cover art commissioned and it saves them hundreds of dollars, depending on the artist's rates.
Now speaking as a publisher, I oftentimes commission different artists for our Skullvines Press titles. I have had certain artists that either could not meet deadlines or their art did not work for me, hence ending the relationship. This is business as usual depending on the contract details.
Where it can get sticky is if you commission an artist yourself and neglect to include a clause in the contract to cover you if you or the publisher dislikes the artwork. Lawsuits can often manifest if there is a disagreement and lack of contractual terms. A good example is the copyright dispute with the Hershey company.

What If I Hate My Cover Art?
The best case scenario is that your publisher will respect your opinion and work with you. I recently had conversations with my publisher concerning cover art I was not particularly fond of, and he reworked into something that I now love. Always be sure to let your publisher know what you think of the artwork. After all, this is your writing you spent months or years hammering away at. You should adore every bit of it once it is published.
The worst case scenario is that the publisher will not budge on the cover art - seeing how they have the final say - and you are forced to live with it. In an instance like this, if you are extremely passionate about disliking the cover and the publisher is deaf to your cries, you may want to consider breaking your contract. The truth of the matter is that everyone judges a book by its cover. And this is the cover you are going to advertise to the world. Something to always keep in mind.

While there are various other scenarios in regards to artist and publisher relationships, hopefully the previous insights will assist fellow authors that are challenged by their cover art.

Subscribe to S.D.'s articles at the top of the page!
Other articles that may interest you:

Nick Rose says:

Right now I am working on a book cover where the horror great Zoe Whitten hired me to do the work for her. I made sure to ask her all the right questions. She had a specific idea of what she wanted in the cover. If I wasn't sure I would ask her until I felt like I was seeing what she was seeing. After I got the piece to around the halfway point, I showed it to her to make sure I was on the right track. She is please and make a couple of suggestions and gave me the green light to finish it. Once I am done, I will show it to her for her opinion once more, and make any final changes she may want.
Although I am trained in traditional methods and love painting in oils, I use Corel Painter 9 for my illustration work. I can save the work at many points making it easy to make a major change if necessary, and working in layers makes my job much easier as well.
But the main thing to remember here is if you call yourself an illustrator, then your job is to please your client.

Nick Rose says:

Hey SD,
This is an excellent article, and if you don't mind I would like to share it on my blog. I do my best to help the young artist coming up, and this a fantastic article for them to read.
First and foremost, and it should be carved in an artist forehead, "Never miss a deadline" and don't wait to the last minute to start the project. An artist should always work on being weeks ahead on all their deadlines. The reasons are simple, things change. Sometimes the artist has to make changes at the last minute because of "Layout" issues, Or the second reason, the artist is not getting what the writer wants.
In my case, even if the publisher hires me, I work with the writer. I pick their brain to get the best idea that I can of what they have in mind. One has to remember, an Illustrators job is to create the writers vision, not there own. If you want to do your own all the time, then it is best to be just an artist.
More in next comment.

May 17, 10:29 AM

I have seen many artist young and older blow their careers because they could not work with either the Art Director or the Writer.  But the main job as an Illustrator is to be able to understand what they want and give it to them the way they see it.  If you can learn to do this, you will have a good future and good things will come your way. I am able to do this 97% of the time. I've only had one writer that demanded why to much and crossed the line in several attempts to work with him and give him what he wanted.  That is the only writer I was not able to please in my whole career.  It really hurt my pride that i could not please this guy. I showed his letters to a couple of my friends to see what they thought, and they told me they would have told him to go f@ck himself after the first one.  But outside of that one occasion, I would bet i have worked with at least a 100 different writers so far, and i enjoyed working with all of them.
    You have to learn not to take it personal or like it is an attack of your ability's. It is not.  It is simply the process that you go through to produce quality illustrations.  It is also how you build clients. If you make the writer or publisher happy, they are going to recommend you to their friends, and over time that builds up into  a healthy studio making a profit.
    Time to sign off. Until next time and a new Painting for Zoe Whitten's new horror book. Peace and blessings. "May the Darkness comfort you"

Friday, May 14, 2010

Zombie Kitties!

      So how do all of you like my pet Zombie kitties? They are really quite sweet, and they take care of and feed themselves. lol. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed painting them. Next up is a book cover for one top lady horror writers in the business. I'll tell you who she is in the next blog, but i am loving the cover. I've always wanted to paint a Jinn and I am getting my chance. How many of you remember the "Wishmaster" movies?
     I got a lot of cool things going on that i want to tell you about, and then there is just things i want to give you some advice on and other things to get off of my chest. So lets start with the cool stuff. About 6 months ago,  Horrorbound online magazine did a feature on me, and now they want to do a second one, which will be in the July Issue.  Second up, on June the 6th, Sunday night at 7:30 est, I will be interviewed on a blog radio station.  I don't know how long I will be on there, but I would guess at least an hour. I will post the link for that soon, it will be great to hear from my friends out there and be live on the radio with me.  The 3rd thing is that one of my very favorite horror writers Joseph D'lacey will be doing a feature on me and a interview for "Horror Reanimated"  I am so excited about all of this I'm about to bust! I can't even remember how many times this past 12 months I have been interviewed. I truly lost count. I am going to work on making a list of them for the website. I know it has been over 12 times, and my work is everywhere.
    This is a notice to all publishers. I have cut my prices down to where any of you can afford me.  These are hard times for everyone, and I love to paint.  So don't be afraid to write me and ask what I would charge to do a cover for you, i will work with your budget.
     Okay, the big news. I have decided that I am not going to go forward with the Deadly Dolz project. I'm not mad at anyone, and I love the girls like sisters, and I will continue to work with them, but I am getting so many opportunities to do cover work for publishers that I have always dreamed of doing that I don't want to say no to that.  The girls are going forward with the project, and they plan on doing a lot on film, and I will still do paintings of them, but only when I get a break.  Suzi has already been in 4 or 5 of my paintings, and i just did the first on of Jane.  I want to do some more of Jane as Spooky, and Suzi will always show up in my paintings, and other models as well. I am going to be doing a painting of Roxsy Tyler pretty soon, as soon as I get some of these book covers done. I will be like the proud father watching his kids becoming huge stars. Another factor in this is the traveling. I don't like to travel like I used to. If I am going to do conventions it will be in Chicago, Detroit, or Columbus Ohio.  All just a few hours from me, and the girls are going to be traveling alot, all over the world.  I'm not saying I want travel somewhere to be with them, but it would only be once a year.
      Now to get that thing off my chest.  Admittedly when I was younger, I was a hothead and a drunk.  But as I got older i started asking myself, is this the way you would want children and people to remember me. So, I started to change.  You very rarely see or hear me use curse words. I quit drinking and smoking, and I think before I say something when I know someone is listening. I started putting ethics and morals above all else I have had a lot of people attack me, but I never say anything public about it anymore, only if I am asked in private. Saying bad things about a person, just because you don't agree with them, is bad for everybody.  I love this business, and I only intend to do positive things  that will help it grow.  There are bad people in whatever business you may be in, and if you run into one of them, just walk away. Don't put them down or say bad things about them. In the end, it makes you look like the trouble maker.  Karma does work. I have seen people that did  me very wrong careers go down in flames. In the end, we all get what we deserve.  You just work hard,  avoid trouble and slezzebags and hold your hand out to those that need help, and good things will come to you. Be patience.
"May the Darkness Comfort you."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A new look/ WIP

      Hello my friends.  Below is a sneak peak of a painting in progress.  I am at about the halfway point with it.  This is one I am doing just for fun and for prints. I don't get to do that to often, and if I had a wild dream, it would be that I just painted what I wanted and someone would always buy the print rights.  As far as I know, Frazetta is the only artist out there that has that luxury.
      A lot of good and wonderful things have been going on around here lately.  For one, Madison is really working very hard on the writer thing.  An agent has already shown interest in her and told her the things she needed to work on, and she is. I've said it before, Madison will be one of the big names of the future. She is very talented and all she has to do is hone her skills a little bit.  I would imagine being a writer is a lot like being an artist in the respect that you are always learning.  Madison has already taught me a lot about writing and I know I have a lot to learn, because I do have some books coming up that I have to write.
      The search for the 3rd Deadly Dolz is still going on.  We have had some talented ladies to try out but we are still looking.  The most important part is being a team player instead of being the center of attention.  But we still have plenty of candidates to talk too.  Like I've said before, this is a back burner project that I will work on here and there, but unlike the Dark Angels, It is not going to take all my time away from other projects.  But in the long run, I see it paying off well for the 4 of us.
      My health is definitely improving with each passing day.  I have been working out every day.  The VA sent me a machine that i can use at home to strengthen my legs, arms, stomach and chest and I have access to a huge gym at the VA that has all the state of the art equipment. I can use it anytime I want, which is wonderful since I can't afford to go to a regular gym the way the economy is.  Even if I had the money I would still use the VA one because it is so nice. 
     This coming week, one of my goals is to get the "for sale" part of my website up again. There are going to be some really awesome deals on there  that will make it easy for anyone to own an original piece of art by me. Hopefully next time I blog, I will have a link for you. I also have some prints of stuff from a few years ago that i will be selling CHEAP as well.  For instance 11 x 14 high quality prints will be selling for 5 bucks each, or 3 for 10 dollars.  They originally sold for 20 dollars each.
       I hope to get done with this painting this week, but i am doing a lot of multi-tasking, so we will see. Until next time "May the Darkness comfort you"