Monday, September 3, 2012

Some Days Peanuts, Some Days Shells...

 I love peanuts still in the shell, roasted (better than raw), no salt (s’healthier that way). Some are already split and easy to open, others require a slight bite to crack apart, but they aren’t hard (unlike pistachios, which I like but cannot get open if the shell isn’t already partially opened. You can crack a fang on those!). If you’re a Dragon, you have to be careful about the biting part. You don’t want to crush the contents before you get a chance to partake.

Why still in the shell, you ask? One, if you have to open them, you eat them slower. There’s no grabbing up a handful/ claw-full of nuts to shovel in as one great bite. You select them, one at time, with thoughtful intent.
Two, shelling takes time, a momentary focus off of whatever you’re doing (at least it does for me, although I’m certain some connoisseurs can do it without thought), 

which is a nice break if you’re engaged in something you don’t really want to do, but have to do…like work that is required to earn a living. Some boring, non-creative endeavor you simply can’t escape…              

Shelling peanuts breaks up the moment, loosens the mind, the hands, the soul.

Anyway, opening peanuts. A study of the shell is required—its configuration, its hardness, its color (wastebasket those of ‘unnatural’ color!), and the access (partially opened, or not?). 
Does it crush easily between your claw-tips, or is pressure required? Does it require a twisting strength to pull it apart? Does it crunch if you bite it? Squish? Crackle? 

Anticipation makes my wings flutter! The discovery of what lies inside the shell can cause a fleeting spurt of adrenaline…a perfect specimen of peanuthood? 

Or a shrunken little nob of not quite peanutness? 
S’odd to discover some strange blob of lava-hard consistency that dreamed of becoming a true peanut, but didn’t quite complete the journey. 

Does one feel sad for the loss…your own loss, or the poor failed peanut want-to-be? There’s the soul stretching aspect of the process…

A shell with three lumps promises an extra treat; do you know how often that little extra peanut-shaped portion of a shell is empty? Shapes can be deceiving. You learn not to expect too much… although, if you’re a person or a Dragon still blessed with an ounce of hope/optimism/faith, you can’t help but want that third solid eatable little peanut to really be there. To pop forth with its two companions and provide your tongue with a profound peanut experience.

Ah…shelling peanuts. A profound adventure, not unlike life, I think. Requires focus, determination, hope, and pragmatism, and results in a mix of entertainment, sadness, excitement, and, occasionally, satisfaction. 

An experience not to be shunned.

Therefore, I say: “Go forth and shell peanuts. Eat them often and with gusto. Live. And breathe peanut breath upon the world.”

And, if you must, dip them in chocolate before consumption.  

The Dragon has spoken.  

(P.S. did you know peanuts aren’t ‘nuts’, but legumes? Just a little Dragon FYI.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Find Your Passion – And Go For It!

Steve Jobs, that marvelous innovator who brought us new visions and connections to music and words and the vast human community, once said “Do what you love.”  

This concept isn’t new, but it is an idea that—while embraced with enthusiasm—few of us (be we human or Dragon) embrace with intent. Not because we wouldn’t want to earn a living doing what we love, but because often what we love isn’t marketable, at least not when you’re first starting out as an adult and have to actually find work that supports you and/or your family.  
Winged or wingless, we do live in a commodity driven world.
Some lucky few are fortunate enough to ‘hit it big’ as an actor or a model, as a jock or a broker, as a teacher or an orator, or even as a writer or a painter, and they find fulfillment and excitement in their profession. 


Most of us, however, don’t have the original opportunity for such pursuit of work happiness. It might be due to lack of funds or lack of emotional support, but it often results from lack of guidance and encouragement to reach for the dream.  A child is, after all, led into life by the adults that raise them and direct, at least, their mental growth.  And expediency, pragmatism, and the realities of society will force a child toward a practical line of employment.


Thus dreams are shoved to the back burner, languish as hobbies or, worse, wistful memories of what might have been.

If you still have the dream, the interest, the passion—no matter your age or circumstance—it’s never too late to go for it.  Even if you have to keep your day job and squeeze your passion into a tight corner of an otherwise active life—go for it!  Doing what you love, what you have a talent for, sparks satisfaction, pride, and a sense of achievement that your day job often doesn’t provide.  Who’s to say that eventually you might just bring your talent and joy of doing to a high enough level that it will become your ‘day job’? If it does or doesn’t reach the level of providing all, or even just supplemental, financial support, no matter. The point is in the doing.  The point is in the effort, the excitement of the effort, the achievement of the effort. You’ll feel better about yourself, and be happier for the accomplishment.

Got a story to write? Go for it!

Got a picture to paint? Go for it! 

Want to act, teach, make people laugh, fly a plane, bring forth a new technology, provide some cool tool that will help some small portion of humanity—go for it!

Trust the Dragon. It’s never too late. Just make the effort and Go For It!

The Dragon has spoken...

P.S. If you didn't think to, just click on the green links and find some fodder for your specific passion. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Revisiting: Temperature Variations, Creativity, and Weather Words

This time of year, this image is wishful thinking!

I wrote this little treatise on weather words a long time back. Since everyone is currently suffering weather extremes, it seemed a good idea to 'revisit' the issue. Just for fun...

Somewhere in the infinite gyrating cornucopia of song and story, tale and account, saga and romance that is the substance of myth, it was bandied/broadcast/broached about that Dragons love heat. Hot. Burning, boiling, sizzling, searing Heat! I don't know who first claimed this to be a fact/truth/non-lie, but I can attest as to the accuracy of the belief: NOT! 

Some Dragons, to be sure, do enjoy basking in sunshine, baking in warm sand, sprawling in the ebullient effervescent whirl of a hot tub...well, OK, even I enjoy such endeavors. But true heat--the blazing, baking oppressive heat of a Texas summer--ouch! 

S'not to say that I prefer cold. Should the temperature drop below 60 my toes freeze. Literally makes my great claws tremble. I prefer temperatures in the 70's, a nice middle/ central/in-between warmth. A centric mercury measure of sun tickled molecules. Makes for happy scales, happy toes, and a happy, more creative brain. When the temperature bumps up into the 80's, the brain and body still manage to perform, but not with quite the same alacrity as it does when it's 10 degrees cooler. Into the 90's... everything smolders, and I don't mean just my gullets and internal juices. S'hard to think, create, motivate when heat depletes ye olde energy! Once the silver, scintillating mercury blob bubbles into the three digits, it's all over. Tail drags, wings droop, ears sag, everything shuts down in protest. Not a creative spark in sight!

Which is why this olde Dragon worships conditioned air. Bless the HVAC. My cave is completely habituated to appease my humongous but sensitive self. Dries sweat, lets blood flow normally, perks up the heartbeat, invigorates the brain cells and the creative spark re-energizes. Flares, sparkles, gleams. At such times one can write or paint or craft or count their treasure trove. A great chance to imagine, think, apply, react, DO! 

If you're a writer/ speaker/teller of stories, the words associated with the vagaries of weather can be a succulent wealth of, well--Words! Here's a bit of Dragon advice: use that wealth to enrich your tales with most excellent/ marvelous/wondrous and varied descriptions. 

Rain is not just rain, but a roiling storm. A wind whipped tempest. A cloud stampede. An innervating inundation. A streaming squall, a horrific, harried hurricane, a galloping gale. Light rain is a shimmering mist, a cooling sprinkle, a dusting of moisture...dreamy, sleepy, refreshing. One can reach into the cloud shower and capture droplets, fling them in a shining spray, glitter the drops on metal and wood and leaves and fur... 

Heat turns the droplets to vapor, fog, shifting haze, miasma, murk. 

Winter Ice Crystals by yeimaya
Cold turns the droplets to frost, ice, rime, flakes, silvery and white and pale and pallid, with blue shadows, deep ice glow and variegated undulations of light on frozen surfaces. 

Don't you love/adore/ admire the flights of fancy so readily available in the mere serendipitous spew of weather relative verbiage?

If hot, stay cool. If cold, hug a heater. Once comfortable, savor the flavor of the elements, suck them in, spit them out, color and texture the visual display of your thoughts/ imagination/dreams as you place them on paper, papyrus, clay tablets or whatever writing paraphernalia you choose. Enjoy the summer wherever you are, but remain creative! Write!  Or Paint! Or Sing a Song...s'all in the joy of the doing.

The Dragon has spoken...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Layering - This Time S'All About Art!

This is one of the 'endangered species' images I created as a folding card using a layering technique (available on my Etsy Site).                                         
I think I've mentioned before that my current art creation method of preference/choice/fondness is my Wacom Graphics Tablet

S'not that I don't still love real paint (oh, the smells and richness of it, the gooey slick texture!), but the Old Dragon no longer has the room or finances for the supplies required.

Where Moons Are Born - mixed watercolors and acrylics.
I adore my Tablet and the Corel Painter Program that provides me with a wondrous selection of 'brushes' (via pixels) with which to 'paint'. I can make my images appear to be drawn/painted with chalk or colored pencils, acrylics or oils, watercolors or ink, charcoal or tints--almost any style can be created. S'wonderful! Concepts/images my active Dragon mind envisioned, but for which I had no applicable training, are available to me. But--the talent to imagine and create remains the core of the work. S'no good having the tools if one is unable to apply them! That, my human friends, is the essence of an artist.

One of my favorite tools in the Painter Program is that of layering. It allows me to generate interesting shadows and depths and duplications that I think would be difficult to achieve with a 'real' brush. It allows my creativity to expand, and my art to grow with that expansion. I wanted to share, here, an example of layering with a graphics program, and the interesting way in which this tool can be applied.

This painting is called "Frog On Vines". The original image consists simply of vines painted with watercolor brushes. I wanted colors and textures that I love, and thought it would be fun to go vertical for a change.  

Next, after I was satisfied with the vines, I added the picture of a frog.

The great thing about using a graphics program is the ability to add an image if it is something that I am personally uncomfortable drawing. Do I look like I care if I drew the frog or used an image that I altered into a 'painterly' appearance? Well, if you could see my Dragon face, pearly fangs grinning, the answer would be No! 

Next, I decided I wanted something more...unusual. Different. Fun. So I began to experiment with the layering aspects of the Program. And with the application of textures, which, of course, true greenery tends to have.
Again, a graphics program is great because one can experiment! At any point you can change colors, textures, the entire style if you choose. Painting creativity without the old boundaries! Oh, great dancing steps of Dragon joy!

 I love the repetition of the background. This gives the image a rather 'infinite' appearance, a sweet echo of green and earthy rust colors that draws the focus to the still frog at its center.

Finally, I put in shadows (merely by changing the brightness/ contrast aspect of several layers) to give the image a quality of depth. This somewhat segregates the 'endless' background from the foreground, and provides a lovely 'framing' feature.

Voila! "Frog OnVines" is done. It is specifically my concept, my creation, my Art!  Mixed media thrives on layering, so I suspect this concept is applicable to that form of art (the building of bright, textured, richly layered art journals fascinates me! You can learn a great deal about that at Violette's Creative Juice). 

I enjoyed the time it took to work with my Program, learn the applications that would help me generate the image in my head, and create the actual work. That's the difference between the day job that pays the bills and the creative job that pays the soul. One keeps me fed, the other keeps me full to the brim!

S'all for this sparkling creative moment. Go forth, my human friends, layer where it counts and fill yourselves with enjoyment 'til it overflows!

The Dragon has spoken... 

Layering: An Enriching Technique For Books, Art, or Cakes!

A thick, layered cake. Moist. Sweet. Luscious! Tongue teasing. Anticipation of a saccharine treat makes saliva flow, nostrils tremble (Hey! A Dragon's nostrils tremble, OK?).  

Were all things equal, everything would evoke such a pleasant reaction in folk and Dragons. 'Layering' tends to make things larger, thicker, textured...more (something to avoid in terms of clothing, but what does a scaly Dragon know about clothes?). In this instance, I'm focused on books/stories/manuscripts , and, of course, Art (which will be discussed in the next blog), all of which already set my saliva flowing...

Like food, creative endeavors can be more for the sake of adding layers (stratum, as geologists say), a build-up/pile-on/grandiose texturizing over the basic frame of the work. Story characters should be three-dimensional, fleshed out, as it were, to fill the pages with squirming, hands grabbing, knees poking human beings.  And all that skin should be stretched around a stack of emotions, memories, psyche/soul/essence, experience--until the skin bulges like a sack of packed potatoes.
No! This is not what I mean by 'bulging'!
This is a better example of what I refer to as a human being with 'character':
Time has etched life on this face...'layered' it with wrinkles and expressions. One should do the same with the characters they create in their stories. Here, one sees emotions, memories, essence. 

And here...

This beautiful photo by Vic Orenstein reflects innocence, a pensiveness that borders on sadness.
 A characters strong emotions can generate equally strong reactions in readers.

People can connect and empathize with these kinds of characteristics; however, unless one is writing a graphic novel, chuck full of images, they have to elicit all that they want their characters to be in the words they use. Show, don't tell, is not an empty argument. 
Choose your words/descriptions/narrative wisely, richly...
Don't, however, exaggerate!  Unless you're writing comedy, never 'Photoshop' the people you create. Too many adjectives is like troweling the frosting on the cake. 

       "Penelope was  long, greasy, pale, narrow, limpid,
            pouty,  unfriendly, uneasy, jittery, angry, tense,
            jealous,  anxious, leery, disturbed..." 
           If you used every one of these adjectives, the sentence 
           would go comatose with weight! Worse, without action, 
           the words just sit there, staring with owl-eyes.

Too much makes for a heavy, overdone literary gorge! A gorging Dragon is one thing, but s'not so attractive in humans.

A few words of direct physical description are fine, but be subtle, restrained, learn to use descriptive words of action that show the characteristics. Or incorporate dialogue that expresses the characteristics. Or use another character's observations of the person being created. 

In other words, direct quotations, accounts of the person's habitual ways of doing things, and stories about events that reflect the person's character are the best ways to generate a realistic fictional character.

Layer all that information, gradually giving the character depth, essence, truth. What a yummy creation can be built!
I only provide the frosting. A little finger-licking, tasty advice. Here are some links to excellent and more comprehensive 'character building' resources: 
Look deep within. Write deep. Then climb from the depths to the surface...write worthy, my human friends!

The Dragon has I'm off to eat a slice of cake!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Using Pinterest As A Door To Creativity: A Few Thoughts for Writers and Artists

Some of the interesting and colorful images on Pinterest that caught my discerning Dragon eye as potential tools of creativity were 'Doors'.  Doors, in various sizes, shapes, colors, and textures. Historical Doors and Artistic Doors. Romantic Doors and, frankly, odd Doors. Their very aspects generate questions that could serve as the basis of a story idea or a painting concept. Literally makes my tendrils and ears tingle with artistic fire.

Take a look and it's easy to see what I mean. 
Oh, the Brightness! What a wonderful door to come home to!
Incredible full door carving.
Artistic. Romantic. Somewhat...Elfish.

Great colors and an interesting lintel.

S'like a sunset on water. Beautiful!
Art Gallery Door. S'Art in itself!

Old texture and great surrounding windows.
Historic...perhaps Religious?
Fantastic ironwork on this one. Flowing, and Original

These are beautiful Doors, and worth looking at simply for that reason. However, in terms of creative prospects, they are worth a second look. Each one solicits similar questions:

  • Who would own such a door? What kind of people go through it every day?
  •  Who designed it? Who built it? When? Where?
  • What lies in the house behind it? Royalty? A religious order? Old wealth? New wealth? Pretend wealth? Lost wealth?
  •  If it contains a family, what size? Many children? No children? Adults only...old, or young? Does the nature of the door suggest any characteristics of the inhabitants?
  • Is it magical? Can it gain magic via some aspect of its design? Was it once magical, but has lost that quality? If so, why? 
  • Is there a meaning to its design? Does the design reflect the type of activities within? Do specific colors have specific meanings? Does the type of wood or the type of ironwork (if any) have meaning? 
  •  How often does it open? Are there frequent visitors? No visitors?
  • Does it hide secrets? Does it keep out good, or evil?
  • Whatever dwells it even human? Hey--Dragons like nice dwellings, too!  
These Doors offer up a plethora of questions to be answered. There are probably many more that a writer could think of. A good writer already has the imagination; a good Door will simply provide fodder to feed it.

The same could be said of an artist's imagination. Imagine painting an image of a door. Slather it with your favorite colors and textures. Will it stand alone, or be one of many doors? Will it be the entry to a structure, or will it open into an empty field? Will there be plants around it? People or animals near by?

An artist can change the shape, the colors, the size, the materials its constructed from. The Door could be a background, or the entire canvas on which you add a whole other concept. An interesting Door can become a painting, or a part of a mixed media collage. can find some great ones just by playing with Google. But Pinterest will hold the really fascinating Doors, because only the fascinating Doors will be pinned by creative-minded folks.

Spread your wings and circle through the colorful Boards of the Pinterest community. You'll love the inspiration!

The Dragon has spoken...