Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Shop, Sketch Breaks, and Climbing Tahoe

If there's any way to sum up how busy I've been recently, this sketch is it. I remember filling up an entire journal during my backpacking honeymoon with Alex in just six weeks. Now, nearly five months later, I'm not even halfway into my current journal!

That's the nature of the beast in freelance, especially if you're the one that handles every aspect of your business. In fact, it sometimes feels like the business side takes up more time than the actual creative end. Then again, maybe it's just me unnecessarily punishing myself. For instance, because of the Etsy shop's lack of customization, I decided to build my own online shop rather than using another third party service (like CafePress) or hiring a designer. (edit: the Etsy shop is still current and active). The task at hand involved learning to navigate through coding languages I never even knew existed on a shopping cart program called Zen Cart ... But with a bit of luck and a lot of research on the support forums I managed to get it running. Here's a snapshot of the site, which is now open for your shopping pleasure.

Please do visit and let me know what I did wrong. ;)

This, of course, inspired me to redesign (yet again) my gallery to have a more cohesive look... and with a bit more confidence in playing with codes, I was able to get my site to look the way I wanted it to all along.

Hmm, there are a million sites out there that you'd want to visit if you really want to see solid design and functionality, so let's move on to something I'm more confident showing: The aforementioned, elusive 'creative end.'

Painted back in July while Alex and I were visiting Manhattan. We were under a bridge in Central Park while it was raining outside, watching an eccentric street performer by the name of Thoth.

Been toying around with new looks for the Venetian Birds. Above them is a sketch while we were out climbing with our friend, Davin, at one of our favorite urban climbing spots. It's a stone wall about a hundred feet long underneath a freeway overpass (great for outside climbing during rainy days, or late nights).

Above Left: My dad loves to tell stories about his Army days. They never grow old, no matter how many times I've listened to them. I often wish I carried a tape recorder with me just so I could start piecing together the story of his career. We were sitting in a cafe on this day, when he told me a story about a battle in Vietnam that I hadn't heard before. I sketched the moment in the cafe afterwards.
Below: Thumbnail sketch for an illustration I'm currently painting.

In spite of a hectic schedule, I've managed to avoid complete burnout. I believe the key is balance, even if it's by way of intervention - After a solid week of sitting in front of a computer, my pal Robby hauled me off for a weekend of climbing below South Lake Tahoe.

The main wall at Lovers Leap, near South Lake Tahoe.

We spent two days climbing, but since it was my first time using gear placements outdoors in over two years, we avoided doing anything too difficult. Still, the two routes we climbed were classics, and the view from above the ground is always rewarding. Unfortunately, I left my camera back home, so I grabbed these photos off the internet.

Roughly 400' to the top, though it felt a lot higher! ....Did I mention I have a fear of heights?

Robby and I managed to grab our favorite campsite, next to two gigantic boulders. We were too hot and tired to do any post-route boulder climbing, but I spotted this spectacularly dead tree behind one of the boulders.

Back home, I've also been working on a long-term project for a possible feature film for kids. It's very exciting work, and I'm hoping that it pans out in the long run. Hopefully I'll be able to show some of the sketches soon, but we've still got a whole lot of ground to cover so it may be a while, yet. In the meantime, I'll see if I can finally relax and paint now that I'm no longer my own web designer.... temporarily.


Julien alday said...

Being a busy bee lately, he ? ;)
Bonjour, Mike !
Love the venitian birds and the drawing of your father, I really like that moment.Congrats on the website as well, I can barely change a code, so I guess how hard it could be. The result at the end is great for me. I can't believe that you have fear of heights when I know you're also a rock climber, hahaha !
Respect, and bises à Alex.
Ton ami,

singinghawk said...

Wow! Yes, I see that you've been very busy! Slow are making me feel very guilty. :o)!

But it is good that you are busy. It must mean that you are finding plenty of freelance work. Are you still using craigslist? Or have you found other more successful marketing strategies? I would love to know since I am thinking about reentering the freelance world.

Anyway, the website images look fantastic! And I will visit your website and give you some feedback a little later. I do understand about playing with code and such -- very finicky -- a lot of those programs, enough to drive one mad. I also spent about six months playing around with web design programs (mostly Dreamweaver and Flash) in order to create a unique and professional website.

Love the new ideas for your venetian birds and can't wait to see them in color! great! and the watercolor reminds me of a Rodin! just lovely.

And how on earth can you climb sheer mountain cliffs when you have a fear of heights?! LOL! Oh my! Looks dangerous to me...I wouldn't do it!