Dayward

Dayward © 2018 Snapping Turtle Arts | cardcastlesinthesky.com

I’ve been messing around with tiles again this weekend for the upcoming summer season. The focus for this time of year seems to be a lot of florals and underwater or beach designs. There has been some talks of future projects on a much larger scale, but my physical health still isn’t quite cooperating. One day I feel somewhat back where I was before this all began, other days, I feel like I’m inches from death.

It’s been a rough week to say the least. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep this particular design yet, unless someone requests it. If they do I’ll come back, make improvements, and clean this up a bit more. For now I’m just trying to take it easy until I can get back on the road to optimal health. If there’s one thing I’ve learned going through this, it’s that people abandon you when you’re sick and you find out who your true friends are.

I’m still in good spirits, though. I owe that to the wonderful people that still are in my life. They’ve opened doors to many new possibilities. All I have to do now is walk through them. After years of getting my foot slammed in those doors, it’s a welcome change.

There’s an unmistakably strong sense of things turning upward for the first time in aeons.

Can’t be mad at that.

Sleepy Sundays: Brighter Day

Brighter Day © 2018 Snapping Turtle Arts | cardcastlesinthesky.com

A lot has changed in the past few months. Even more is still changing. We are no longer moving our place of residence and this office. (At least not any time in the near future.) A great deal has gone on behind the scenes.

One thing remains constant. My health is still considerably poor. We are doing our best to fix this. Although, I’m not too sure what’s in the cards for me.

We decided to renew CardCastles for another year anyway. Somehow, I still have this strange optimism despite having tea with the reaper lately. There’s so much more to tell you, but we’re going to have to save that for a Daydreams Diary. For now, let’s all just try to look towards brighter days together.

What gives you hope?

Have a peaceful Sunday

Sleepy Sundays: Light Storms

Light Storms © 2017 Snapping Turtle Arts & Publishing | cardcastlesinthesky.com
Obliterate © 2017 Snapping Turtle Arts & Publishing | cardcastlesinthesky.com
These two designs were inspired by events both past and a strange nightmare I had one night years ago about the future.

The first about the past was a beautiful day that was considered rare in the times I grew up in that were somewhat similar to the things going on in present day in the country I call home. The afternoon etched itself into my memories due to a vivid sunset witnessed that mimicked a candy store. There were so many bright pinks and lilacs. Then out of nowhere it seemed to get ruined by a very dangerous electrical storm that no one seemed to see coming.

The second that was dreamt up into a sci-fi design was inspired by a terrifying, sweat-inducing dream had one night where tons of planets were just getting blasted to bits and raining down and outward everywhere.

My lesson in all this trying to concentrate while there are in fact catastrophic things going on in the world that involve spiritual, racial, generational, and just flat out good old fashioned good vs evil, was that we need to take care of one another more. & Fight these evils because like the storm, what appeared out of darkness soon became light. So many of you have been so very kind these past few weeks while we transition the site here.

With an actual storm brewing in the skies over my head as I type this, and the climate changing in my region & all over I hope our own certain future doesn’t look like the one in my nightmares. There’s just way too much more work to do.

Be kind to one another & take care of one another.

Have a peaceful Sunday.

 

Daydreams Diary: I’m Waiting Here

Truth is I’m long overdue for one of these things. So-much-so that I don’t know where to begin.

With that said, like a wise friend once told me,

“Start at the beginning.”

 

Still Ill

Since the tail-end of 2015, I’ve been wrapped under ill health. I’ve hinted at it here before, but never blatantly stated there is something very wrong going on in my body that could possibly cost me my life.

I guess I didn’t want to worry you.

I didn’t want to add to your stress.

I could barely accept it myself.

After all, I am a mother.

 

Months of Work With No Reward

Book covers and album art might seem like easy work to someone outside of my field. Until they try it themselves and see just how grueling it can be. Most quit within the first year.

It takes a trained eye to be able to determine what is going to pull a person in. Concept artists are in the business of bringing your visions to life. This sometimes involves an almost spiritual gift to “see” into someone’s head.

I’ve been at this now professionally past the year mark. The job itself has come with countless rewards. These past few months have been different, though. It seems nothing I’m working on is getting off the ground.

 

More Hate (As Usual)

Riding off to run errands one morning I hear a distinctly familiar voice on the radio. He was being interviewed by a popular shock jock around these parts (and nationally). The man went on trashing some female that he only referred to as “some chick on Instagram.”

Needless to say that “chick” was me and that interview cost me some clients. I’ll spare you the details. This person doesn’t even know me. They only know of me, due to the fact we move in similar circles.

It didn’t stop there.

After the atrocities going on in my country, I could no longer allow myself to stay silent on certain topics sadly deemed “political” issues.

This has gotten me labeled, attacked, and ultimately shunned. All because I am sticking up for people who’s voices get silenced daily. But, this is not new to me. I had the same role growing up in school. I’m used to standing up to bullies in defense of my friends. Though just like then, sooner or later, I expect to be attacked or silenced—just like them. This does not mean I’ll stop; no, much to the contrary. I simply acknowledge that this is a tough fight, that will probably still be going on long after I meet my end.

 

Hope

The hardest part about writing this isn’t publishing it.

It’s the knowing that most of this will go over people’s heads.

It’s the knowing that the same people who slashed me up for being “too positive” all the time will criticize this for being “too negative.”

It’s the feeling that this could possibly be the last thing I write.

It’s the knowing that no matter what I do, I can’t fix any of it. (And I’m a control freak.)

It’s the knowing that no matter what height I reach, someone will always be there to knock me back down.

Though despite all of this shit, I will not give up or give in. Heaven knows I’ve been through worse.

As long as I’m still here there’s a chance to spin this all around. After all, I’ve got things planned and that doesn’t stop just because I’m ill.

 

Family & Friends

My sister is having a baby. I’ll be an auntie this May. I wish I could say this is cause for celebration but, sadly my relationship with my sister is becoming strained. I want to be there with her when she delivers. I want to help solve all of her problems. But I can’t. I’m not always available when everyone needs me. Some people in my life understand that. Most don’t. I have a demanding job, an even more demanding side-job, and I’m the mother of a child that needs extra care. Some people misinterpret this as me not caring for them. Now, I can add my own flesh and blood to that list.

 

No Time to Wallow in the Mire

Even with all of that heavy muck, I have no time to stop. There’s a client waiting on my work as we speak. I have three days to make magic happen. There’s a Sleepy Sundays piece of artwork waiting to be published for you bright & early. My son needs me 24/7, and that doesn’t stop when I’m sick. It’s open season on every single person I love, so you know I’m not going to shut up about all that anytime soon. Not while people I care about along with myself are persecuted, ridiculed, labeled, silenced, and shoved away.

I could just shut down. It would be easy. It would feel good. I’d get some much-needed peace.

But what fun would that be? I’ve been sent here to create—to heal.

Someone I care deeply about that has been somewhat of a mentor to me this past year and well into 2017 recently said,

“I can’t live in a world without art.”

So why in the world would I let that happen? As long as I live and breathe here on this Earth, why would I ever stop?

I was born for this.

So c’mon baby light my fire…

Perfection Culture

white-flowers-pattern.pngLately I’ve seen a decent number of stuffy posts all over the internet by professionals (& Non-professionals. And professionals that shouldn’t be professionals, and non-professionals that think they’re professionals…)

all passing on advice to never show anything but your absolute best work. They go on to insist that no one is going to take you seriously, blah-blah, blah.

Yeah, about that…

I’ve come to learn in my almost 4 years doing this [selling art, rebuilding a company] professionally, that people respect me for sometimes showing my flaws as an artist,

at times even blatantly pointing them out~>Sleepy Sundays: Meditation (From CardCastles Archives, Year: 2014)

In an attempt to help other artists with mistakes we all make sometimes.

—and you still keep coming back.

No one turns away from my site and says, “Oh my goodness, she’s so unprofessional! Did you see that shading mistake she made on that one?” For every mistake, I learn, make adjustments, and the rest of my work becomes better for it. I take things down. I put them back up. Sometimes being an artist is about making improvements.

People actually rather often say “Your have such a unique style! Your work is so detailed! This is gorgeous.”

They can tell I take my time and have learned from years of experience.

Those years included making plenty of mistakes.

There’s a growth there that you can see and a passion I have for my work that you all seem to know off the bat.

I guess what I’m trying to relay is:

It’s not all always about being perfect all the time. I get it about putting your best foot forward and all. But it’s okay to make mistakes too, ya know?

I mean, what are we all doing this for?

(—If not to have fun, learn, grow and pick some things up along the way.)

The same can be translated into writing and many other art forms.

Featured Image -- 2587

Perfection is an Illusion

There is no such thing as true 100% perfection. Even the best of things have flaws. In our modern-day society one can admit our culture has become a bit obsessed with the idea of perfection. Plastic surgery, who’s eyebrows are or aren’t “on fleek” (barf) whose contour be slayin’ ” (cringe), whose girlfriend looks better than yours, all of it supposedly determined for us by some post or meme or magazine.

Don’t get me started with the subject of “reality television.” Some other time friends.

It’s all so incredibly fake, and put out there by people desperately seeking attention or validation, or followers, some fill to their void…

Whatever the case is, there is no such thing as true 100% perfection.

Maybe if we accept that first, we can fix our society’s increasingly narcissistic ways.

 

Blowing the Doors Wide Open

Flight

Two weeks ago I announced my parting ways with Twenty20. While the wounds are still a bit raw, I feel it’s a necessary step to inform my most loyal following as to why this decision was made.

For some time now, not having control over the pricing of my own products has disturbed me. While I understood my parent company had to make some profit as well, I felt this was only hurting my customer base. After all, if everything I sell is overpriced, who is going to buy it?

The company made it clear this was an aspect that was not going to budge much. My customers always said my products were of pristine quality – so no complaints there. The high prices seemed to be the only concern a little less than a year ago.

How it Worked

Matters seemed simple at first. All I had to do as an artist was create. Easy, right? Wrong. Although they had the difficult part of transferring all of my designs onto the various products, they often changed bits of our agreement along the way. Over time more features were stripped away.

Before the significant changes the items for sale included: {canvases, photo prints,}(various sizes) prisms (glass art), apparel, greeting cards, throw pillows, iPhone cases, and magnets.

The Killing Blow

Late last year all artists that worked with Twenty20 were informed that our work would now become available via Digital Download. What this was dressed up to mean was our art/photography became accessible to vendors who wanted to purchase our designs for their own products. We were told we would retain all copyrights and other legal rights to our work. Sounds like a win-win, right? Wrong again.

What this really meant was our artwork was now vulnerable to these vendors seeking out original art and photography at a cheap price – royalty-free. For those that don’t know much about art royalties, what this basically translates to is the artist or photographer is paid a small sum of the larger profit for every single use of their work.

While we were lead to believe this was a vital change that we’d want to get on board with, what was actually being advertised to these third-party vendors was “Get high-quality digital art and photography *royalty-free*!”

I was furious.

However, after much thought and consideration I decided to deal with this change. Then, at the beginning of February, another change was announced via email.

Grand Opening, Grand Closing Flight

One chilly morning I opened up my inbox only to nearly spill my coffee on the floor due to what I read. The company heads sent an email stating that the future of the company was changing. The CEO announced that this shift would signal the end of all printed products.

That was the end for any hope I had retained for the company. My partnership with them was over. It wasn’t really a difficult decision on my part. My gallery has always been an integral part of CardCastles. The images along with my artwork helped weave and tell a story. That feature of this site was what everything else here was centered around. In fact, CardCastles itself was built upon the “cards” (memories, photos, artwork) themselves.

Restacking the Cards

Now that key content is missing it’s a clear question of where do we go from here?
I’ve decided to open up a viewing-only gallery (temporarily). As the description suggests, nothing will be available for purchase until (if/when) I can set something up with future vendors and/or sites.

Depending on how I set this gallery up (*Most likely a separate portfolio site) You will be able to leave “likes”, share, and use, so long as you link back/give credit to me.

I look forward to rebuilding this part of CardCastles for you. It’s been far too long already.

Thanks for visiting and coming back, as always.

The Tale of Two Roads

“You need to find the fork in the road where you split.”

A wise individual once spoke these words to me. For those that may not fully understand my old friend’s city slang, allow me to translate.

It was a time in my life where mistakes became a daily occurrence. What my friend tried to convey was I needed to find the point in my life where I went wrong. I had to begin trying to correct that and everything else. Nearly ten years went by before the cleaning process began. I knew I needed to change. Life had beaten me down at such a young age. I sure wasn’t treating myself with respect either.

There was a bright end to it, somehow. I fixed myself; cleaned up my act. Still, we could all make improvements.

Lately, I find myself back at that same point. Even though I’ve treaded miles from the person I was before, I still need repair.

I need to find the fork in the road where I split. The staggering realization hit me that I still haven’t found it. Will I ever find it? Or am I doomed to the same dreaded existence I’ve known of so many others.

This is just my busy head speaking into typed words. This is a peek into my thoughts. My insecurities scream if I let them.

 

________________________

Author’s Notes: This is merely my way of venting. I don’t want anyone reading to worry about me. I’m doing fine. I’ve just been having a bit of inner struggle lately and writing has always been a coping mechanism. Writing is my strongest therapeutic tool. When you are going through something, try it out. You don’t have to be a writer. Journals/diaries keep us mentally healthy at times. Your mind is just as important as your body.

Tales From Our First Crappy Apartment

Why Don’t You Just Leave?

We’ve been in our apartment now for three years. Some of the surprises we’ve dealt with are by no means new. Part of the disasters we shrug and laugh at, others put us on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The average friend or family member will ask us, “Why don’t you just leave?” and we reply that it’s easier said than done. We have a four year old son and need a two bedroom. Around here, that sort of luxury doesn’t come cheap. Not to mention, coming up with a security deposit for a new place, moving costs, and the entire headache that goes with it. We’re simply just not ready.

A few nights ago what seemed to be the last straw for us happened. There was about five inches of rain that fell in roughly a two hour time span. I kept checking the windows and every known crevasse for water. Something in me just knew it was going to come in.

“We’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat.”

The funny part is, we went through two massive hurricanes, and not a single drop of water entered our space. This time was different. This time the water neared so close to our windows I was anticipating them giving out and just letting the gigantic pools rush right in. Instead, much to our surprise, the damage was not noticed until the following day. My other half walked into our closet to hang something up and remarked to me that there was a sopping wet mark on our carpet in there. Slowly, that sopping wet stain became another, and another, until our closet was virtually filled with dirty water. It soaked the carpet and its padding underneath.

Our Saturday night was not spent laughing or watching a movie together. We didn’t go out and I didn’t get an early start on my work. Instead, we spent it ripping up the mildew and flood soaked carpet and padding that by now absolutely reeked.

Time Waits For No One

After an extremely rough week of other life headaches – this was the last thing we both needed. Rewind back to Saturday morning, when we first started speaking of doing all of this ripping up and cleaning. My neighbor upstairs also got a ton of water in her apartment. It’s anybody’s guess how. She’s on the middle floor after all. Still, as she was getting her entire carpeting replaced – the workers were banging so hard with hammers that they knocked our kitchen clock off the wall. It landed in the sink and broke. Although this may seem like something so small, I was livid. I was so angry, my initial reaction was to lose it but, I realized my son was watching. Even though he’s only four, he had such a look of concern on his face. He was concerned for his mother who was obviously a wreck. I just picked up our shattered clock that had much sentimental value, since it was the first little housewarming gift we bought ourselves – and then I let out a few tears.

Sometimes, you just need to melt down.

Moving On

Although our landlord has at least tried to show some care toward the situation, we remain worried that he is going to be cheap about replacing our small area of carpet. We may just end up following in our neighbor’s footsteps and having it done ourselves while deducting the costs out of the rent.

In the long run, this has been a learning experience. This ordeal is nobody’s fault. It was just Mother Nature being really pissed off. After all the other various issues we’ve had here, this was just one more stiff reminder – we need to move.

I’ll Light a Candle for You

I struggled to write this post today. Every fiber of me didn’t want to, but I knew it’d be therapeutic.

Today is my mother’s birthday. I’d like to think of it and celebrate it as just that, but I can’t. I can’t because this is also the anniversary of her death. She passed away 8years ago today…on her 43rd birthday.

I’ve spent the last few years of my life being a more positive person, and trying to help others like me move past their grief & depression. Yet today, I can’t help but feel sad. I miss her. I miss her with every ounce of me. I miss the talks we had, I miss her goofiness, I miss her smile…I miss her.

Murphy's Oil Soap
If I see or smell this stuff, I’ll cry. She used to clean with it. We’d laugh and joke about how we loved the piney smell.

Certain objects and things that remind me of her still induce tears.

There are many artistic tributes I’ve done to her, but I struggle writing about her. That is the most personal for me. Somehow, I was able to today.

Maybe someday I’ll build the courage to write a book about her. She had a way of making most anyone feel better. Yet, when she was upset, so were you. If she cried, it would break your heart and become contagious. She was a wonderful person. She was my favorite person.

Shine

I love you, Mom. Happy Birthday.

(She always liked this song. Strangely enough, the morning she passed away, I came back from the hospital full of tears. After I cried my eyes out for hours, I turned on the radio and this song came on.)