Bi-weekly musings, artwork, art-talk, and randomness.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Further Adventures in Social Networking!

Some time ago, I jumped into Social Networking. Kinda. I created a MySpace profile, but I found the whole thing to be sort of, well, not useless but unwieldy. I officially "closed" the profile recently.

A year ago or so, I created a Facebook profile. Here was a service that did serve a good purpose. It had a universal and functional user interface, and was just smarter overall. I have since been a regular user. However, I have been sort of hedging my profile, limiting it primarily to friends and colleagues. Which means that some of you who know and like my work may have tried to friend me, and maybe you got a nice note explaining that I was going to keep the profile a little private. More on that shortly, but I'd like to draw that circle a little tighter still--I've neglected doing anything really personal on that profile because of the mixed company being kept. I obviously have a certain openness as evidenced by these 4+ years of blogging, but it's tailored--I still have my private life!

I also decided to create a Twitter account if only to snag my user name while deciding if I was ever going to use it. I don't know if I'll be Tweeting explicitly, but let's get something clear--if you have ever updated your Facebook status, you've Tweeted. A Facebook status update is functionally no different. Once I realized that, the stigma that remained with Twitter dissolved. But I still have little interest in keeping track of multiple platforms.

So, I created a Facebook Fan Page. This replaces the Google "Followers" box which isn't as widely used, at the left. Feel free to join this. Why might you want to?
  1. Keep in touch with this blog. Most blog posts (perhaps not product-release posts, but all content posts) will be posted to the Fan Page feed. No need to check back here to know when the blog has been updated. Especially useful for those who never understood what an RSS feed was.
  2. Get some inside peeks. I plan on opening up a little with some more insider-views of things in the form of photo galleries. Currently, I'm working on a photo album that has photos of the various tiny studios I've worked in the past 5 years. Stuff like that. Perhaps I'll consolidate these for blog posts down the way--I don't want those who like the blog to feel they are out in the cold with these just because they don't want anything to do with Facebook. Hey, I understand--my wife won't go near it (but she enjoys seeing photos of family and friends on *my* account!). I'm not sure there's a purpose to having photo albums of my art there--I have a whole website for that, you know! But perhaps some albums of things not commonly found on my site can be uploaded there. Suggestions welcomed.
  3. Tweets. Ok, status updates. I'll probably use the Facebook Status Updates (ie, FB Tweets) to talk about what's going on in my art world, in snippet form. What I'm working on, where I've been, what I've seen, what's inspiring me, etc.. Small stuff, not worth blogging about but perhaps interesting for those who like my work. If you are an artist yourself, you may get the most benefit from all this.
This is all possible because Facebook will auto-post my blog posts without my effort. Creating albums and stuff does take a few clicks, though.

Further, if you are a Twitter user, and prefer that for whatever reason, Facebook now auto-feeds to Twitter accounts. That means that these blog posts will auto-feed to Facebook, which will get auto-fed to Twitter in the form of a Tweet. Ditto my Facebook Status Updates and other things. So, you can be a fan on Facebook, but know what's happening there by means of Twitter. This is only possible because it requires no extra clicks on my part--the Twitter feed will be handled automatically. So, my Twitter page will be largely automated, but if you prefer keeping track via it vs. Facebook, you're free to do so. I don't re-tweet much yet so I'll try not to clog up your stream.

You faithful blog readers--keep reading. The Facebook posts will just bring you back here most of the time, anyway. This is the central clearinghouse for Gallegos info and entertainment. I just want to make sure you have access to everything. I'm not going to presume you all have checking my site on your list of weekly things-to-do. But if you'd like to stay up on what's going on, allow me to serve it up to you on a digital platter.

Lastly, you'll notice at the bottom of each blog post, there are links to repost any blog entry on both Facebook and Twitter. I've also begun adding these links to every image throughout my website, and am looking at spreading that throughout other parts of Daydream Graphics. Wanna share something with your friends? Link away!

Ok, back next week with more art!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Magic: the Gathering Releases, With Background Info!

It's harder to keep track of when my illustrations are re-used on new Magic: the Gathering products, and over the past few months, a few have been--so here's a post to inform you of those.

Planechase comes in pre-constructed decks, two of which feature cards I illustrated. The deck "Strike Force" features Soul Warden, and the "Metallic Dreams" deck has Search for Tomorrow in it. I'm always amazed and gratified when I see Soul Warden reprinted again, as it's an old favorite, even well over a decade after painting it.

Next up on the tour of what's been missing is another pre-constructed deck. By pre-constructed, I mean that the decks are the same in each box, not randomized, and are tuned to be useful and playable as-is. As such, they can often serve as a better tool for learning this game, which can seem a bit intimidating from the outside. The Duel Decks: Garruk vs. Liliana product features a reprint of an even older card, Stampeding Wildebeest, which has also gone on to be reprinted many times over the years.

Soul Warden and Stampeding Wildebeest both have interesting stories attached to them. Sometimes, as an illustrator, you are asked to paint things which are cool, but would be even cooler, if.... In the case of these two paintings, each one asked for something that made better illustrations for the purposes of internal story-telling, but which would've made nicer pictures without, as an image divorced from the product. In Soul Warden, this mage was to be pictured blessing or casting some enchantment on warriors as they filed past her. I reduced this to a warrior, singular. I also preferred focusing on her casting these enchantments. The warrior itself was also pre-designed--it was to look like a certain type of creature, not one of my choosing, and this design was at odds with the more attractive main character I was portraying. So my solution was to paint the character filiing past, you mainly see its head, in shadow, with a mote of light floating over it. I painted this on a clear piece of frisket, or perhaps some other transparency, and adhered it to the painting so they could photograph it. When I had it returned, I simply removed it. The card image is here, and the final image, which I have used since, here.

With the Stampeding Wildebeest image, the same was done: it was not enough that I paint a herd of Gnus (I love that word), but I also had to paint a Mirage-era tribesman hiding from them. So, on the card, you have that character crouched under the tree, but on the painting, he was peeled off.

Lastly, the Premium Deck Series: Sliver is another of these pre-constructed thingies, focused upon these Sliver creatures, of which I have illustrated two over the years. So, naturally, my reprinted card here is an Island! Back in the Tempest block, I illustrated a sweep of Islands, and to my knowledge this is the first time any of them have been reprinted, and only one of the four painted was reprinted. It probably has a much nicer printing than the Tempest ones, as the resolution, colors and contrast have been upped dramatically since those days.

Incidentally, 3/4 of the reprints are from images done from 1998 and earlier. For reference, I was still living at home with may parents when those 3 were painted (Search for Tomorrow is more recent).

Well, normally these release-updates I don't count as real blog entries, but now that I've regaled you with background stories and history, I shall consider this my entry for this week. Not to mention I'm still way under a pile of things I need to finish otherwise!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Embryonic

Another one from the five-year plan file. It should be noted that such pictures rarely, if ever, resemble the images that were floating in my head years ago, since new work is done on them when it's their turn to be painted. In this case, I was still living in CA when this one hatched. From even the earliest days on this blog, I've made a couple of references to the feeling of floating in space. Usually it's been a musical sensation, but there does seem to be something awfully embryonic about the imagery.

The image floated around in my head for awhile, as it were, until recently. I'd been wanting to paint something in the science-fiction vein for awhile, and this image was popping up again, among others. What sealed the deal was iTunes. Once again, music. In this case, it was seeing that, without my notice, the Flaming Lips had just released a new album, entitled, strangely enough, "Embryonic," which from the beginning was the very title I had in mind for this painting. Well, I considered the deal sealed (and bought the album while I was at it). I started gathering images of embryos, and loved the reddish glow present in most of them. Nebula in the distance helped to get across the back-lit fluidity of environment present in some of the images. The pencil drawing below then was the basis for the image:


The image was then painted 18x24" in oils. Though while painting I'm often rotating the painting to work on it from different angles, I painted it originally in the horizontal aspect of the sketch. However, in the end, I actually preferred it as a vertical for some reason. I'd actually already signed it horizontally, but ever since finishing it, I have preferred showing it vertically, and it currently hangs in my house in that orientation. As well, it's being presented on my website vertically. I suppose it's a positive thing that I think it works in a couple of orientations, given the weightless no-way-is-up nature of deep space. I may change my mind again at some point, who knows?

Wide or tall, tall or wide...?

The artwork, including a larger view, can be viewed here.

Monday, January 04, 2010

8,760...59...58...57....

Welcome to 2010. No personal jetpacks yet, but I'll continue waiting expectantly.

8,760 is the number of hours you get each year. Depending on how old you are, you may see that number differently from me. When I see that number, a mild panic sets in. It seems to be a very small number. It doesn't look like the result of 24x365. Yes I know it's 365.25, but we'll round off here, shall we?

I'm not sure if I should be impressed that so much gets accomplished during the course of each year's 8,760 hours, or if I should despair at what could have been accomplished if that number weren't so limiting, if I could shave off more hours from the upkeep and put them in the personal use category. Already, it's been reduced significantly since the ball dropped. What is left to me (and you, probably), when we estimate the most basic upkeep?

Total hours available: 8,760
Sleep (~7hrs x 365) -2555
Chores -125
Daily hygeine (shower, teeth, shave, etc.) -100
Eating (nevermind preparing food) -300
Transportation (feet, subway, car, plane, etc.) -100
Sub-total: 5,580

Perhaps what's left there is still comforting to you. Many of you have many more hours under "Transportation" because you commute to work. You could probably easily knock a couple hundred more hours off there. Some of you take longer to get ready in the morning and could triple my numbers easily, or spend a lot more time on household chores. Basically, most of you by now are left with under 5,000 hours to use for the entire year, and we haven't begun to work or spend a minute of free time, neither have we exhausted a number of boring requirements and the time they take--other chores, time spent using the restroom, grocery shopping, standing in line, waiting on hold, dentist and doctor's appointments, preparing meals, laying in bed before falling asleep or laying in bed groggily waking up, I'd be surprised if those things don't knock most people down to 4,000-4,500 hours available.

Now you get to finally work (hopefully), which will take up the bulk of that time--which is why you really should either do something you enjoy, or find a way to enjoy what you do. Then you can spend some free time with kids, spouses, friends, read and do leisure things.

So, you've got maybe 4,000 hours this year. I point this out to light a fire under my own rear here at the beginning of the year, when it might seem like I've got all the time in the world. Maybe it'll be useful to light a fire under yours, too. And we aren't even guaranteed to live another spin around the sun, so perhaps your real hours left are 4,000 or less, period.

So, let's make them count!