Thursday, October 31, 2013

Noo Spinoolean Tarot - Three of Bones

My friend Kyle told me today that he thought I was unique in that I'm compelled to create, that I can't not draw or write. It gave me brief pause. I expressed my gratitude for his kind words, but I've been thinking about it ever since.

In my life, "unique" has almost always been a euphemism for "odd" or "weird." Growing up I was told frequently how weird I was. I learned to hate the word. Just because I'm more articulate than you are doesn't make me weird. Just because I don't generally follow convention doesn't make me weird. Just because I like creative activities rather than football doesn't make me weird.

Although, now that I think about it, liking to watch golf on TV might make me weird. 


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Noo Spinoolean Tarot - Deuce of Bones

Percival Lowell's Mars as the Abode of Life arrived in the mail today. It's a facsimile of the 1908 edition, complete with original illustrations. It's the third book about the early exploration of Mars (by telescope) to show up in two days. I might be obsessed.

I believe I've acquired more new knowledge in the last two weeks than in the last two years. It's exhilarating! But the reading material that I have accumulated in that time now amounts to about 4000 pages. I have a stack of books (remember books?) nearly two feet tall. Time hunker down and absorb the words now and see where the journey takes me. The remaining outstanding biographies are for Puccini and Oscar Wilde. Mahler, Richard Strauss, and Toscanini will have to wait. 

I'm looking back 115 years and am in awe of what was happening. The fresh discoveries of relativity, radio, and flight, and magnificent music like La Boheme and Also Sprach Zarathustra were all flowing into the world at the same time! I wonder if our era will be looked back upon with such interest? I doubt it. At the turn of the last century, the world was looking forward and upward. Now, everyone is casting their eyes downward. Then, the future was bright with endless potential. Now, the future is a cell phone upgrade.

How the mighty have fallen.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Decorated Skull

Sometimes I don't do as I'm told. There's a Skull Decoration Challenge that I decided to play with. It was fun. What I wound up with was nothing like what the rest of the artists did. Specs, who need's 'em?

As I continue to research my project, I keep finding interesting connections. I was already chasing Puccini, Verdi, and Toscanini around, then I found out that Gustav Mahler and Toscanini wound up in charge of the Metropolitan Opera at the same time, with fractious results. Mahler, it turns out, was a good friend of Richard Strauss. Strauss wrote an opera entitled Salome, based on the play by Oscar Wilde. Wilde is also on my list. And all of this (mostly) within the 1895-1905 time frame that is my target for the story.

If I had to choose an era in which to live other than this one, I know where my time machine would take me!

One wall in my bedroom is completely unadorned. I'm shopping for a world map, pushpins, and yarn. Let the giant creepy, stalker, obsession wall begin! There will be photos...someday.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Noo Spinoolean Tarot - Ace of Bones

Apparently my artistic drought is over for a little while. I don't remember what I was doing yesterday morning, but the first three cards of a new suit leapt to mind, so I built the first two before my work shift started. Presenting the suit of Bones. (Note: Blogger is screwing mightily with this image. I'll figure out what's going wrong and fix it.)

In other news, I'm reading a biography of Percival Lowell, the 19th Century astronomer who is largely responsible for the promoting the notion that there were canals -- and therefore intelligent life -- on Mars. (If anyone reading this knows where I can find a biography of Giovanni Schiaparelli -- the 19th Century astronomer who invented the notion -- please let me know. I have yet to find one.)

I'm also reading one of his books, The Soul of the Far East. The language is lush, but his ideas are wholly antiquated. I find myself bristling at some of the things he says, but I remind myself that I'm reading to both get a sense of the man and the era. Doesn't stop me grinding my teeth sometimes though.

Also, I don't remember the last time that I read two books at once. It's a little exhilarating and intimidating, especially since one of them is at least a century old.

My story idea continues to build in breadth and momentum. I may have found my life's work. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Noo Spinoolean Tarot - Ten of Roses

I've been having a lot of very vibrant dreams. Most of them have been stories. I'm writing them all down.  The interesting concept from last night's cerebral cinema was "war magnets." I still have to look into whether the properties of magnetism work in reality they way they did in the dream. Before that, it was time travel. In between that and now was the 19th century, worldwide conspiracy involving two celebrated astronomers. There were aliens that looked like they were manufactured in an inflatable swimming pool accessory factory. There were maggots. 

I don't want to talk about that one.

Why all of this activity? Well, I stopped drawing almost entirely a few months ago. I know why, and I've started taking action to correct it. You see, I made the mistake of looking at the traffic this blog was getting and how many unique people were looking at it. After a few months of letting the data accumulate, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. In that "sub-electronic dilemma," I just stopped.

Along with the analytics, I'd been following a lot of artists (and craftspeople, and graffiti vandals, etc.) on Facebook. Initially, I started feeling insecure in my talent. What these people were doing was orders of magnitude more sophisticated than what I was doing. More visionary. More educated.

Recently I've realized something else though: it all looks alike. Many of these brilliant artists and illustrators (and vandals, like Banksy), have mastered repetition. They have a signature style in which they create. They paint or draw (or deface, like Banksy) the same thing over and over.

I don't do that. I may work in projects, like the Spinoolean Tarot and the Noo Tarot, but my body of work shows a vast array of styles and subject matter -- everything from blueprints, to marketing concepts, to movie posters. From digital design to pen and ink illustrations. And this doesn't begin to touch on the writing I have done.

So what does all this add up to? Since looking at the work of other artists by definition includes comparing myself to them, I must stop. At the very least, I must stop for the most part. My eyes have an insatiable need to behold beauty, so I must look at beautiful things. But I think that I must return to creating the beauty that my soul-windows require instead of finding it -- to my detriment -- in the creations of others.

Some weeks ago, I turned off my personal Facebook page. My "artist" Facebook page remains, but it has languished like this blog lo these many months. I have continued to look at the offerings of other artists, but I will cease in that too. My remaining presence will be on Twitter, because -- and I'm embarrassed to my very core to admit this -- it's fun. At least it's more fun than Facebook, that's for sure. So, follow me @Spinoolean (for the artist stuff), or @JGabarronIV (for the personal stuff). I don't curse, and I try to keep it upbeat.


I have many irons in the fire right now. I'm beginning research for a massive trilogy -- something I swore I would never write -- set in 1900. I'm planning the sequel to The Empty Space, my novel of 2003. In the best George Lucas tradition, that first story is now Volume I of The Tharleon Gospels. Volume II is to be entitled The Apocalypse of Minerva. On the art front, I have plans to finish drawing the suits of Pears and Roses for the Noo Tarot. I will put the definitive finish on the Spinoolean Tarot as well. All that should keep me busy for the next five years or so.

Then there's whatever else strikes my fancy. There's more to come. 

Today the World, Tomorrow the Future.