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A month of Reflection

This past month I saw a lot of changes in my life and it made me spend a good bit of time reflecting back on my life as changes began. The biggest change this month was that I got promoted to higher position which also means that I'll be working straight daylight monday through friday. Sounds great, but it also means I have to alter some of my habits that when I do my art which was basically when I spent time working on it so it essentially means changing up the routine I've been used to for the last few years, but its just another challenge.

Anyways back to reflecting on things as one of the biggest reflections came during the week of Labor Day where I spent my time at the West Alexander Fair as a superintendent. I'm in charge of the Arts & Handcrafts department, something that's been a part of me for a long time as I always entered my artwork ever since I the time I could walk so I've always been a legacy participant until about seven years ago when I was asked if I would be interested in taking it over. I accepted without hesitation, but took a cautious approach to it. In my first year nothing really changed as I wanted to see how it all flowed together but after that first year I started changing it up little by little and the last two years things have flowed together so well. I don't judge the entires myself, instead I bring in judges who are  artists themselves or have great knowledge and appreciation of the fields the entries are in, but I do display my work for others to see which is a great feeeling, as art should never be a contest, but seeing your work displayed in a professional manner in a place for a large audience to see it always gives someone a sense of pride which I've seen happen numerous times for participants as it's a nice feeling to win, but you feel a greater feeling of pride when its displayed with other artists. Since I took over I've been able to do something that I've wanted to do ever since I was a child as I was able to meet a lot of other artists and introduce them to one another as there were many different artists from different generations and perspectives.

There were four artists this year that I was able to introduce to another, two are experienced artists from an older generation and the other two were still in their teens and I was in between both generations and just being able to introduce them to one another and having discussions about each others craft, experience and perspective was a great inspiration for all of us, it was litterally like seeing the light brighten in the eyes of the younger generation and a swelling of pride that inspired the older generations. That's something I always wanted to do when I was a kid was to meet and talk to other artists to gain insight that could help me become a better artist myself and others as well and now I can which is a rewarding experience and feeling, one that I hope I can continue.

The piece I'm posting for this month of reflection isn't a recent one, in fact this piece was finished nearly a year ago and its a perfect example of reflecting how far I've come. This piece was a commission for my Senei's at The Traditional Martial Arts Society. They didn't have a logo design that was tailored to represent them so after a few discussions I created some rough concepts and for a few months after each class we would sit and talk where the concept was refined a little more each time until I had found a design that had worked and came up with this:

This piece meant a lot to them, but even more to me. Unknown to everyone but myself at the time was that I was pretty much burnt out on art before they asked me for this commission, which is evident if you look back and see the long gap in my jpurnal of when I posted artwork. The initial concept was a little rough but with each meeting with my sensei and talking with them about it I kept getting more and more excited about working on it and it was the spark I needed to reignite the passion I had for art which ended up going so much further. After I had the initial design done I knew in my heart that I wanted to create a colored version and before that I was very much just a sketch artist which was pretty much simply just shades of gray with the exception of a few ink sketches of cars and other illustrations, so to create the colored finished piece I got back into using stain and acrylic paints and just started experimenting with them to get a feel for the flow of color again with a medium that was out of my comfort zone and the results of the experiment were great which I'll post next month, but applied to this piece it became better than I hoped for. Both of my sensei were grateful and I feel pride every time I step into the dojo seeing it hanging on the wall soon as you walk through the door.

Ni Dragons, meaning Two Dragons, was the spark that helped ignite my passion and ever since then I've been working on more and more art always trying new mediums or combinations of them to break away from my comfortzone and give me a better perspective in my approach to each new piece. Since then I've done several commissions, portraits, illustrative work and I've even made a new friend named Jeff Crosbie who's a very talented author who enlisted my help as a concept artist on his project which I'm eager to share when the project is over.

It's the last day of the month and I reflected on how much I've changed over the years, my body has gone through a transformation over the last two years with the help of my family, friends and the guidance of my Sensei and it's really helped to advance my mind and my passion as well. Tomorrow I'm running a 5K with one of my best friends, something that I never would have imagined I would do a few years back, and today I was at a three hour seminar at my dojo which also provided reflection from how far I've come, but Sensei David White's closing remarks at the end really struck a chord with me. What he spoke of, which I'm paraphrasing, was of intention and application. I've spent the last few years redefining myself as a person, physically and mentally as that was my intention and everything that I learned in the dojo, in my art and in the real world has helped me achieve my goals and to pursue my new ones. Many of the things I've learned through hours in the dojo has helped me become a better artist because I was able to apply many of the things I learned to the canvas and the sketchbook. A brush, a pen and a katana, these three things have something beautiful and yet so simple that connects them to one another that makes them all virtually the same. Each of them is an extension of you and the way you use any one of them can greatly help you understand another one as you can not take back the stroke of a sword anymore than you could the stroke of a brush, just as no one can force you to draw your weapon or apply paint to the brush if you have no intent to use them.

Perhaps in another few years I'll reflect back on that previous statement and see how much of it still holds true or if I have learned there's more to it.

A very special thank you to Sensei David White and Sensei Joseph Urich for all that you have taught me and all that I continue to learn, I'm both grateful and honored, thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.


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