Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015

Year in Review: The Shark-Driven Chariot

Me & FibroShark
2015 was a big year for the studio. Let's look back on how...

  • interval/tempo a custom piece made in two main segments, Lefty & Righty, took up a lot of time during the first couple months of the year; 
  • FibroShark Hungry Hatchfund campaign was funded in April, tho work had already begun;
  • I had begun experimenting with making paper in January, & completed my first major work, The Book of Rainbows in April;
  • Arborist began sometime in early summer as a means of making some extra cash, but since has turned into a defining segment of my portfolio;
  • FibroShark Hungry was completed in late October... well, I say completed. The post-production is still happening, & the book will be released as soon as it's published;
  • Arborist Notes evolved out of the original series combined with the idea that my hypergraphia & new love of paper-making could be put to good use;
  • Further watercolor projects have also evolved from the Arborist series, & I am looking forward to possibly devising a tarot deck... maybe... after the current big project is completed & all obligations to backers are met;
  • I've spent a lot of creative energies this year making art for people I love, (and that includes cooking!), & there is absolutely nothing I would change about any of it.
Finally, my health journey has continued to be front-&-center for me this year. Frankly, I think it'll be front-&-center for the rest of my life. I have taken a lot of time to care for myself, and I have accepted a lot of care from others. 

In 2016 I'm looking forward to collaborating with colleagues, actually publishing FibroShark Hungry, & exploring further the tools I've gathered & skills I've developed. I love you all, & I can't way to share the next chapter of my career with you. Take care of each other this holiday season, & don't forget to call your mother -- unless that's not available to you, then feel free to call mine.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

News: What's going on?

From our trip to Humbolt Redwood National Forest
So it hasn't been as long as I thought since the last time I posted an update. That's good. I like to try to keep things fairly regular so people are paying attention to meeeeeee.

As far as health & things go, I feel like I'm having a bit of an up-turn in energy & productivity. Altho, if I try to do too many things at once I will fall into a flare, so maybe I should be a little more skeptical about this sudden explosion of Being Able To Do Things. 

Point is, life is feeling less worse at the moment, & I'm trying to get all I can out of that without actively hurting myself. It's a very delicate balancing act & it involves working on aspects of myself that I'm not as familiar with... like... delayed gratification.

Oh well, laying low means I can get some administrative tasks done... right? Or Netflix. Probably Netflix.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

News: Arborist in West Seattle, as art object & gift

Modified notebooks of various sizes
Now that we're solidly into the rainy season in Seattle, I'm slowing down as far as productivity goes. While I can usually work 4 days a week, in the fall I'm lucky to work 3. It's a bugger and I hate it, but I am still able to do some things...

  • Remind you to reserve your copy of FibroShark Hungry
  • Appear for a couple of hours at the opening of the Arborist show this week
  • Paint a few notebooks all pretty so you can buy them for yourself or someone else you love
  • Occasionally load or unload the dishwasher
  • And the rest is sleeping

Right now I'm actually flaring pretty hard (I slept for 15 of the last 18 hours), my shoulders are taped on & I've got pain-relief patches on both wrists that aren't really doing a whole lot of good. I also have a wicked craving for some warm, fresh-from-the-oven baked goods (gluten free, of course), & some cuddling. The only reason I'm writing this post right now is because I want to make sure it gets done so people come to the show this week. 


Thursday, November 5, 2015

News: Arborist show, original art objects, pre-order FibroShark Hungry

With all of this book-making business, I've realized I never
need to settle for a merely adequate sketchbook again
Lots of book-making this past week. Including the object at the right which happened because I was bored & had an extra 40 minutes. The Arborist cover took a bit longer, but the point is, I made a 40-page sketchbook in less than an hour. Anyway...

I want to welcome those who have recently begun enjoying my work. Whenever my fans, new or seasoned, like a piece I post on the FB site a part of me is validated in a highly dramatic fashion. I always welcome feedback & love to hear what my art evokes in your brains & hearts. 


Monday, October 26, 2015

News: FIBROSHARK ILLUSTRATION COMPLETE!; not really much else other than that

My entire life has been taken up with completing the book over the last few weeks and I'm excited to announce that FibroShark Hungry is officially ILLUSTRATION COMPLETE!!!

And some other things have happened since the last update...

  • Pre-order you copy of FibroShark Hungry now that it's almost done! There's not much time left!
  • Further dalliances into tarot card paintings...
  • Arborist going up in West Seattle next month
  • My dog is not dying any faster than anyone else -- HOORAY!

Now that I'm slightly more available on the art-front, I'm taking some time to read about artists & their processes & theories. If you have any favorites you'd like to share, I'm always interested in learning what else you love.


Monday, October 12, 2015

News: FibroShark Hungry, custom paper & other holiday gifts, encaustic season

A number of FibroShark stickers
In case you missed it, last week was a bit of a fucking nightmare, pardon my Klatchian. Because of said nightmare, there wasn't any news, so here's two weeks of news.

  • FibroShark Hungry update
  • I also made some stamps & stickers
  • And a flipbook!
  • Some ideas for your gift-giving needs
  • Stay tuned for an update to the store, just as soon as I get a moment to take care of that
  • Encaustic season is around the corner, so last chance to jump on those pieces from last year!

I'm feeling much better this week, so I think I should be able to get quite a bit of work done! Also, Happy National Coming Out Day to everyone who was able to come out! (And to those who weren't, thanks for keeping yourself safe.)


Saturday, October 10, 2015

This week in mental illness...

Most people who are at all close to me understand that I have a tendency to be completely transparent about suffering from multiple, sometimes disabling illnesses. Fibromyalgia is the catch-all for my pain, but it's in the world's worst triad relationship with chronic anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. I'm vocal about my suffering because doing so is one of the few things that helps me maintain my tenuous grasp on reality... Oh! And because I'm a feminist who wants to create a better world that has room for people who experience chronic health conditions.

The other reason I'm open about having a mental illness is that it's the go-to diversion when someone decides to kill a bunch of people. The fact of the matter is, the vast majority of people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators thereof. I may be one of the lucky middle-class-ish people who has access to shelter, food, and adequate healthcare, but I'm still one of the many millions of Americans who suffers from a mental illness.

For example, this week was very exciting in the Setzer household. Monday & Tuesday were fairly productive, & Wednesday even got off to a pretty normal start: have coffee, feed dog, experience complete mental breakdown. Oh, wait, that last bit isn't normal.

Panic attacks are not an unusual thing for me. I mean, I've been having them since I was 8, & most of the time the go something like this:

That is I tend to go from drinking coffee to wanting to scratch my skin off, to crying, & back to my coffee in an hour or so. It's pretty routine, so I have developed the ability to deal with it. Usually all I need is to express the ill-humors, & it's back to normal.

However, this week was a little different...
Actually, I was in pain & looking for my KT tape, but not experiencing any sort of panic at all...
I got frustrated not being able to find my KT tape. I couldn't think because I was in so much pain, so I took some medicine. After a while, I gave up trying to find relief & decided to see if the meds would do anything... they didn't. Instead...

I slipped into a sort of dissociative state & watched what was happening to me from deep inside
My muscles started to tighten, my breathing got short & ragged & after a few minutes I got that feeling in the back of my throat that meant no matter how much I wanted to scream for help or cry or tell others what was going on, no words would be coming out until the attack was over. I think I experienced the same physiological symptoms I get when I have really bad nightmares (because a nightmare is a panic attack that happens when you're asleep): I curled up into a ball, & could only move my eyes & fingers. Words evaporated from my mind. For the first bit of it, I chronicled the experience to my spoonies, because I knew they would understand & because I wasn't sure I would remember it. Plus, it was fascinating.

To be sure, this was a full-fledged panic attack, but I wasn't scared. I've been thru this experience before. I've even lost the ability to speak during a panic attack a few times before, so I knew I would come out of it. I also knew that going to the emergency room would have made things about a zillion times worse.

A few minutes in, Ten came into my room to tell me that the dog had pooped in the house (again), but he immediately knew something was wrong when I didn't move or respond. I typed what was happening into my phone (yay pocket internet machine!) because it was in my hands, & he sat down next to me & asked if I wanted a hug. The comforting touch of a loved one has always been essential in bringing me back from the edge of my insanity, so for 20(?) minutes he sat with me & I did everything I could to convey that I really needed him to be there.

Eventually, this stage of the attack hit its peak & I asked him to straighten out my legs so I could start to come down from Panic Mountain. Ten had to get back to work, so Stewart took over & fulfilled his duties as Emotional Support Animal.
"Stage 3: Naked & Crying" is the title of my next book.
After I was able to unwind my body, I turned onto my left side & began to ground myself. "I am in a safe place," I told myself in the squishy, dark magenta hallows of my head. "I am in a safe place in a nice room in a nice house in a nice neighborhood in a city that I love," I imagined myself actually speaking these words, which meant that I was even starting to get my words back from whatever monster had suddenly stolen them.

My breath got steadier, smoother, & more relaxed. From there, my yoga training kicked in, feel your attention return to your fingers and toes my internal yoga teacher instructed as I began to wiggle my fingers & toes in a not-currently-spiraling-into-madness way. And on your next inhalation, turn over onto your right side as tho you were about to fall asleep, this sentence frequently closes meditation sessions for me, & I only had to repeat it to myself 3 times before I actually did turn onto my right side.

"Well, that was unpleasant," I finally said aloud.

A few minutes later I was able to get out of bed & make myself some food, but I wasn't out of the woods yet.

Nothing is more frustrating for me than not being able to think
It took more than 48 hours after the physiological symptoms of this attack abated for me to get my brain back. Thursday I had a second severe panic attack in my sleep, which resulted in nightmares that felt the way losing your mind is portrayed in the movies. I spent most of Thursday sleeping or distracting myself from what I had experienced because I really couldn't process it yet. All day I forgot words I routinely use, & I felt like I was fighting thru a haze just to get to my own thoughts. When I did reach my thoughts, they were full of evidence convincing me that I am just kind of bonkers normally & that I don't really live in the real world -- altho I seem to pay rent here what with the eating & drinking & sex & drugs & rock'n'roll.

Today, Friday, I have been able to think about it a little more & analyze what went on, but I didn't really feel like I could think clearly until around 8:30pm, some 56 hours after my aphasia & paralysis had relented.

I don't know what lead to this episode. Some may jump to blaming some of the medicines I use, or that I haven't been eating enough recently; it could be hormones, or weather changes; it could be side-effects of caffeine or nicotine; or it could be any or all of these things. Honestly, it could be none of these things, because I've always had panic attacks, & sometimes they are just bad.

At no point during this episode, however, did I feel violent. I never thought that I would solve anything by harming anyone. I knew the entire time that I was safe where I was, that it would blow over, & I would get my body back because that's how my illness works. As far as I can tell, that's how most mental illness works: you'll have a surge of symptoms that are frightening, but if you're in a supportive environment you know you'll get thru it & eventually you do (not that it's pleasant).

There are people with mental illness who lack supportive environments; who feel alone & worthless & like they will never be able to function as they once did. It's terrifying to be in that place, & there are predators who take advantage of people trapped in these circumstances. Those who are likely to be violent are going to harm themselves, rather than others (do you know how much easier it is to hurt yourself than to hurt someone else?), & even if they can get their hands on a gun a person without hope or any real connection to reality is probably going to shoot themselves before shooting anyone else. Really, they're most likely to be shot by police, whether they're armed or otherwise.

Factors like homelessness, food insecurity, inadequate healthcare, & abuse are going to affect people with mental illness more than the availability of guns ever could. Yet we keep insisting that it's mental illness that causes all of these mass shootings in our country; that guns don't kill people, "crazy" people do. That "crazy" people are going to find a way to kill people, gun or no gun. That "dealing with the mentally ill" will end these shootings -- except those talking points are then followed with how guns are the most important right we have; more important even than the right to not be killed by someone with a gun. These so-called crazy people are only mentioned as a scapegoat so that we can protect our precious firearms.

I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that lumping millions of Americans with mental illnesses ranging from depression to schizophrenia into this category of people likely to be violent if not closely monitored is divorced from the reality of mental illness. It's also just passing the buck & blaming a group of people who need our care & compassion rather than stigma & shame.

And yes, full disclosure: I dislike guns. Loud noises make me cry, & my weapon of choice for the zombie apocalypse is a machete. But what I'm really trying to say is deal with your shit, America. Don't just blame it on the vulnerable like some over-militarized abusive drunk.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Art isn't meant for survival? Bite me: a dissent

This guy rescued a Caravaggio painting because
"art isn't meant for survival". 
Season 5 of The Walking Dead hit Netflix this weekend, & like a good consumer of media, I spent all of Sunday watching it (except for the part where Ten & I went to watch the eclipse).

In the 4th episode, "Slabtown" we learn Beth is alive* and was rescued by this, let's call it a police state, that basically enslaves people. It's a gross premise, meant to offer a contrast to the Rick Grimes-lead Musketeers.

That's not my criticism. It's a tv show, I basically ride tv shows like roller coasters because I enjoy them, not because they offer any kind of legitimate commentary on society pre- or post-zombie apocalypse. The bit I have a rant about is Dr. Goodbeard and his soliloquy on how art isn't meant for survival.

The hell it isn't.

This statement is routinely made by people who are not fighting for survival. Without art there's barely any reason to survive. Oh, you might say "sure there is" and offer a litany of activities & ideas that basically boil down to art. Of course, Medieval and Renaissance art are the most recognizable, but the least survival based but even the commissioned religious pieces of this era were made because they had to be lest the painter starve to death (having no warm bodies nearby to consume, naturally).

People who make art don't do it because they like it.

People who make art don't do it because you think it's pretty.

People who make art don't do it so that in 100 years it'll be on stationery and greeting cards.

People who make art do it because they have to in order to survive.

Maybe the real world isn't a dystopian hellscape full of walking corpses that threaten to make you one of them with a single bite, but have you ever considered why? Those deprived of art are basically walking corpses. Everyone consumes art. And while some people do it because it's fun & pretty, most people do it because art is vital to a healthy society. Art is where social commentary comes from. And while, sure, painting isn't going to be a skill necessary to survival in a post-apocalypse world**, everything you'll be fighting to regain will be very easily summed up in the act of creating, imitating, or remembering images, melodies, dances, stories, and art.

Art is what makes survival possible. Because without it, we become the walking dead.

*Don't give me lip about spoilers if you're more than an entire season behind.
**But dancing sure as shit will be.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

News: SSA Vegas Vacation; Steamposium this weekend!; Arborist at GLC thru 10/4

"Bat Country"
digital image
Hey! We got home from Vegas just in time for me to be completely laid up on Yom Kippur (generally not a good sign, but I haven't died yet). Before I go dark in honor of the Day of At-One-ment, here's the news:

As usual, you can find all my public shenanigans by following me at the links on the far right. 


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

News: Arborist at GLC, FibroShark Hungry presale; Happy Jew Year!

photo by Braden Duncan
You may or may not have read my reflection post from the show opening, but you can do that here. And now, the news:

  • Arborist opened at GLC on Saturday, & we had a great time. 
  • The presale of FibroShark Hungry is still open!
  • Happy new year to all my Hebrews, Shebrews, & Theybrews; you are loved & I hope 5776 is full of sweetness & light
Don't forget to stalk me on the internet using the links at the right, and make sure you're keeping up with Art Scene Seattle for all your artwalk needs!


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Arborist opening reception, Saturday September 12

digital promo flier by Braden Duncan
I'm starting this post a few hours ahead of the show opening, because I'm so excited that I can't really do anything else... One thing I know is that GLC is a great place. I also know that the show looks good, which is important. I've learned a lot since my last solo show (March 2014), and you can tell...

My biggest fans showed up in support of the show opening, and it was wonderful to see each of you. Even more wonderful is the feedback I've been getting about this era in my work. It's resonating with people in ways that are unique as compared to responses I've had from previous works. Before, my work was "cool", but this time around, it's moving people.

Also, at least one person got the joke in "Arborist Moishe".

I've had some time to process last night, and I'm very happy about it. This work is more than just watercolor trees on handmade paper. It's part of a larger vision of helping people function, and see themselves as complete not in spite of their suffering, but because of it. My whole life has been developing along this line of accepting suffering and using it as fuel for greatness and spiritual enlightenment.

Is that too much? Maybe. It is just an art opening in a bar in Georgetown.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

News: Arborist at GLC, Steamposium, & a bit about the redwoods

The illustrious Braden Duncan installing Arborist at
Georgetown Liquor Company in Seattle
Back from a very inspirational vacation & ready to share some news! Here's the headlines:

Short news post this week because I have a lot to catch up on, but you can follow me at the links on the right side of the page. 


Monday, August 31, 2015

News: missed a week; ROAD TRIP!; Arborist shows in September & November

"Arborist Tempus Domum II"
commissioned by Francisca Mason 
Missed the update last week because I was waiting to confirm a thing that fell thru, & by then the week was over, so prepare for Setzer Studio Arts Giant Size Issue #1...

  • Arborist September show moved to Georgetown Liquor Co;
  • And we've added an exhibition in November at West Seattle Wine Cellars;
  • Bad news about both Trabant locations & what that means for "Everyone Can Be Redeemed";
  • FibroShark Hungry update;
  • & finally some notes about my health situation & a picture of my dog. 

Don't forget to click on the links at the right to follow me on Facebook & Instagram - & do go to HitRECord because that site is amazing!!!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

News: Arborist show in September & other neat things

Arborist, Not Far From Tree
I woke up with "Sexy & I Know It" in my head. I'm only slightly embarrassed by the fact that I am listening to that song while writing this week's news update. But it's not like my neighbors have better taste in music than me so... whatever. Anyway, here's the news:

Find me elsewhere on the internets! Instagram, Facebook, Facebook, & now hitRECord (but I haven't done a whole lot there yet, so really you're better off looking around & finding inspiration & collaboration on the whole site.)


Thursday, August 13, 2015

What I'm really trying to say is...

Arborist Dreamtime
I started Arborist because I wanted to make something that people would trade me money for. I know enough about the art world to know that people like to spend money on pretty things that make them feel good - or at least feel something. Watercolor is really big in the industry right now, so I said "sure, I'll pick up a brush", since I'd already been drifting toward watercolor with FibroShark Hungry anyway.

The first Arborist piece I did was a Lyrical piece that quoted "Starship Trooper" by Yes. This was right after Chris Squire had died, & no doubt was part of my own little grieving process. Now that piece resides in the art collection of a very dear friend of mine, alongside a few other works I've given him over the years.

Yes lyrics inspired at least two more Lyrical Arborist paintings which, while pretty to look at, didn't really add anything to anything & couldn't be the basis for my quest to fucking sell some fucking art. Next was the Wee Arborist paintings that made a step for the evolution of my work, but did little more for me.

Finally I decided to combine this new series with the paper I had been making & experimenting with & everything clicked into place immediately. The first one I made sold within an hour. I was excited & surprised, but knew that I was on to something. One thing that I know from all my years in marketing is that having an audience for your work is essential, & that you have to chase the thing that your audience responds to.

So I did.
Arborist Gnosis

When it got to the point that this was really starting to feel like art, tho, I had to sit down & evaluate what it means. What is it that I am trying to say with this work? What part of the world is revealed by me making these paintings? Why does this exist and who is it for?

I started thinking about things like conservation & mass-consumption, but deep down at its roots (hehe), my work isn't about those sorts of concepts. My work is about pain. It's about loss. It's about trauma. I was reborn into this stage of my art career thru grief & suffering. To change direction in the middle because I wanted to make some money seemed a little like selling out.

Then it dawned on me: everyone can be redeemed. The medium of this work isn't "watercolor", it's watercolor on handmade paper. Paper that I made out of junk mail & detritus from my garden. That paper didn't start out as industrial waste* tho. It started as trees. Then was cut down, cut up, ground into pulp, bleached, ground up some more; processed & reprocessed until one day by chance it happened to land in my mail box. And then I cut it up & ground it up even more, but with an entirely different intent.

By adding a few more ingredients, applying a skill, & laying down some imagination, I gave what was once a tree the opportunity to be a fucking tree again. That feels like an accomplishment to me, but it also fits in with the rest of the work that I'm doing both at & away from the canvas. I know a lot of people who have been ground down & cut up by life. Most of them are doing the best they can with what they have, but I think a lot of them don't realize that they still have the chance to be beautiful.

Arborist Magnus
It's hard to know if you still have a spark of life when you're that far from what you thought you were meant to be. Pain, grief, trauma - life, sometimes - tears us apart & with enough of it in the right places, you can become something that you don't recognize. Like you used to be a beautiful pine tree, chillin out with all your pine tree buddies, and then thru no fault of your own you're trapped in a cycle of being torn up & thrown away. Unlike junk mail, however, our minds provide us the necessary bits of cleverness & creativity that can give us the chance to be trees again.

Maybe you don't need that now, but you might need it some day. So just remember: everyone, no matter how cut up & ground down, can be redeemed. That's the way of the universe.

*Because let's face it, mass-mailing campaigns are wasteful.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

News: workaholism as coping mechanism; someone send some fucking rain to Seattle

FibroShark's Words of Wisdom
It hasn't rained in Seattle for weeks. For a while it was awesome, but now it's just getting ridiculous. Especially because the air pressure keeps doing this thing where it pretends like rain is going to happen & everyone I know gets a barometric-pressure-change headache, but then it never rains. The webs between my toes have dried up, and I have sores all over my face that may or may not be related...

So art is happening a lot right now.

  • Continuing work on FibroShark Hungry (pre-order your copy here!)
  • More Arborist works too! 
  • And I made some paper with the Random Disco Flakes I got at the art store a couple weeks ago
  • I'm seriously not leaving my house until the mess on my face gets better & Netflix has a finite supply of entertainment, so expect some other projects to come up...
Instagram. Setzer Studio Arts on Facebook. FibroShark on Facebook. 

What's your favorite book?


Friday, August 7, 2015

News: lateness, PRE-ORDER FIBROSHARK HUNGRY, & some other stuff

A few Arborist pieces made it into frames & they look
So, this week's news post is late. I mean it's not, because I don't think anyone but me is keeping track, buuuut, it is. We're all just going to have to hug each other & get thru this tardiness together. In other news:

  • You can now pre-order FibroShark Hungry if you didn't already reserve your copy during the Hatchfund campaign
  • The Setzer Studio Arts Store is still open & you can still buy art there!
  • The Arborist series is coming along nicely, & people who would know are really enjoying it
  • Still making paper too... when I have the spoons
  • And I got a Tesla journal (Nikola, not the progressive rock band) for some reason

If you're not following me on Instagram, why not? If you're not keeping up with Setzer Studio Arts & FibroShark on Facebook, then how did you get this link? I'm actually curious. Post in the comments!


Monday, July 27, 2015

News: the rain is back!; & also some stuff about art

"Arborist Vincent" the first foray into referencing famous
paintings in my own work - it's kind of cheating, so I may
not do it again...
The rain has returned to Seattle after months of drought! As much as I loved the warm, sunny weather, I missed the rain so much I feel compelled to make it the beginning of this week's news blog. And yes, the news is out early this week because I have a date tomorrow. So there.

Here's what's new!

  • The store is up & running & actually selling stuff!
  • Arborist works are continuing into the foreseeable future - because y'all seem to really love it
  • But I am still working on FibroShark Hungry, as promised
  • Paper experiments are also happening & turning out really well!

As per usual, you can find pictures of me & my work (& my dog) on Instagram, & follow Setzer Studio Arts & FibroShark on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

News: Arborist, store!, & whatnot

detail "Arborist Dreamtime", digitally enhanced
Greetings friends! This last week has been a bit of a bugger healthwise, but I've been able to get a few things done. Here's what's new:

  • All Arborist pieces available in the Setzer Studio Arts online store!
  • And, btw, there's a lot of Arborist pieces!
  • Prints & other work coming soon...
  • As well as a pre-order item for FibroShark Hungry 
  • Meanwhile, I have a cute new hair color

Follow me on the Instagram, & like Setzer Studio Arts & FibroShark on Facebook. My Instagram is pretty fun, actually. You'd like it.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

News! Recap Sunday Market & some other things

more Arbory in the near future, fear not!
What's going on this week?

  • Brief recap of the Fremont Sunday Market
  • Making paper with flower petals could lead to an exclusive wedding service
  • Missing Critical NW to work on FibroShark Hungry
  • Arborist pieces going up for sale online... imminently

Follow me on the Instagram, the Facebook, & the Facebook.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

News, early July

what's with the look? it goes with the face
Let's get right to it, shall we?

  • FibroShark Hungry update
  • New work: Arborist 
  • Fremont Street Faire 7/12/15
  • I think that's about it, actually

Don't forget to follow me on the Instagram for pictures of my process, pug, & some of the funny faces I make. And of course, make sure you've liked both Setzer Studio Arts & FibroShark on Facebook.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

News: FibroShark, Pride; & the death of Chris Squire

Yes it's a mess, but it's MINE.
Here's the latest headlines...

  • FibroShark Hungry illustration officially 50% complete!
  • I'm not entirely sure I did anything else last week... 
  • Well, I did, but it's really more "procraftinating" than any actual work
  • New meds actually contributing to overall productivity
  • A few words & links to more words on the death of Chris Squire of Yes
As always, follow me on Instagram to keep up with what I'm arting; Setzer Studio Arts & FibroShark on Facebook.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

News for late June...

making paper is like therapy for me at this point
Here's what's going on this week with your favorite Setzer-who-can't-play-guitar:

  • First draft of FibroShark Hungry text completed; artwork is moving closer & closer to 50% completed 
  • Bamboo & junkmail paper
  • I have meds for that now...
  • Considering bailing on Etsy

Blah blah blah Facebook, Instagram, Facebook...


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Updates & news & whatnot

"math" & sexy sexy leg hairs
One of these days I'm going to have something exciting to tell you, but this week it's just the usual slow-&-steady-wins-the-race bits. So, let's get to it...

  • FibroShark officially 20% complete according to "math"
  • artist's pain apparently under control
  • my latest hair coloring experiment is super-fucking-cool
  • it turns out dogs are terrible office assistants

As always, you can find my work on Instagram & Facebook, & you can keep an eye on FibroShark on Facebook as well.


Friday, June 5, 2015

News, early June

This is what my thoughts look like
What's new for June?

  • Fun with watercolor in the FibroShark book
  • Go see Elise Wagner's encaustic masterpieces at Frederick Holmes & Co in Pioneer Square; & Amelia Marsh's sculpture at Trabant Coffee & Chai downtown
  • Art dates & studio visits with potential collaboration in the mix
  • Seattle Arts Coalition: call for art by disabled artists 

I'm still stalkable on Instagram & Facebook. You can also follow the progress of FibroShark Hungry on Facebook.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Writing about Death

I face Death daily
One of the topics I'm covering in FibroShark Hungry is facing the prospect of death. This is a pretty uncomfortable subject for pretty much anyone, but it would, let's say unhelpful, to leave Death out of a book about self-advocacy for people with chronic illness.

One aspect of able-bodied privilege has been cleverly described as "the headache you don't know you don't have", but another, hushed-up aspect is that when you have a chronic illness chances are good that you're going to have to face that illness until you die.

Having a chronic illness means that, unless there's a cure that has zero side-effects and provides 100% remission of all symptoms for the rest of your life; you're never going to get better. If your illness or condition is degenerative, it will progressively get worse until you die. If your illness is terminal, it will most likely be the cause of your death.

I must include these facts in the book because facing Death is the only way to make it less scary. I think that's part of why the late Terry Pratchett included the anthropomorphic character of Death in virtually every book he wrote. Death is an inescapable part of life. And it's one of the scarier aspects of having a chronic illness.

Since I was a teen, I've moved thru my life with Death as an adviser. I read a quote from the Dalai Lama on how he meditates on Death 13 times a day. It was a morbid time in my life, so I thought it was really cool that the spiritual center of my rebellious years* was so thoughtful on the subject. It wasn't until over a decade later that I fully realized the meaning of His Holiness' contemplation of no-longer-living.

Death doesn't have an agenda. It just happens. Everyone dies. You will die. The people you love will die. The Earth will die. The Sun will die. Every cell that ever divided, ever atom that ever collided. Life is impermanent. The only thing any of us is guaranteed is our current exhalation.

That's some heavy shit for what is effectively a comic book.

But it's a giant part of being sick. And I'm grateful to have my illness slow me down to the point where I must face my own mortality because when I look Death in the skull, I can see what's really important in my life. Those things which are real, and permanent - & frightening.

And extremely difficult to articulate.

*Yes. My form of rebellion was to dig so deeply into Buddhism that my first tattoo was a meditating Sidhartha Gautama Buddha.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

News, middle of May

Self-portrait with hearts on a Monday
Alright, what's new...

  • Studio update
  • FibroShark Hungry update
  • PianoTime?
  • Exploration of watercolor for fun & prophet
  • A bit about my health, in case you're worried
If you're not following Setzer Studio Arts on Facebook & Instagram, why not? You can also check out FibroShark on Facebook.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

All things strive

"Primordial Desire" in progress...
I have a bit of a thing for pianos - I always have - & that's made more dramatic & exciting by having a sweetie* who matches my artistic enthusiasm with his own; & who has been playing piano since probably before he could even reach the pedals.

So, naturally I'm working on a proposal for this paint-a-piano public art thing. I've gotten the concept boiled down to something solid that is in-keeping with my overall body of work**, & my concept piece (at right) is nearly finished. I even have some ideas of how I'd be able to make this whole thing a reality if my project is chosen.

I'm just having a hard time writing the proposal. I know that I'll find the words & put them together in something-approaching the right order, but I'm frustrated by the entire thing. I can't give up tho, because now this project is in me, & eventually it's going to need to reach fruition or I will go quite insane.

The Kabbalah teaches that the universe was created by g-d having so much love that They exploded, & that the entire purpose of existence is to get back to that point of wholeness. All things strive to put g-d back together. This is the back-story for the concept of my piece. The story I want to tell by painting a piano, is that we're all drawn to things which will allow us to manifest love & creativity because we're all made of that same stuff which allows for those things in the first place. And eventually, we'll all melt back into that primordial desire.

Maybe that's too high a concept for a public art piece. I guess I'll find out when I hear back on my proposal.

And anyway, chances are good I'm just going to keep submitting the same packet to these paint-a-piano public art things (there are apparently a lot of them) until someone gives me a piano to paint.

*In this instance I'm using the term "sweetie" very loosely, because words like "friend" & "influence" & "peer" are too cold for the affection I have for this particular person.
**Rather than just being a giant love letter to the above-mentioned reason I don't date musicians.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A relatively simple exercise in context

There's a comic going around the book of faces of a fat woman looking at a Rubens painting & feeling like she's living in the wrong century. As we all know, Rubens is well-known for his voluptuous models painted in what we might now call a photo-realist style. While there's nothing wrong with a person of any size looking to art for validation of their size & acknowledgement of their beauty*, there's a gigantic problem with this approach to art appreciation.

You see, art without context is meaningless frippery. 

When we deny an artist their context, we destroy their work. Take a look at any famous work & try to unknown what was behind it. Just try. You can't. It's impossible. Appreciating art without context is why the average art-looker will stare at a Pollack & mutter "I don't get it" and walk away. But if you explain in an animated fashion (as I am prone to anyway), that Jackson Pollack was a bipolar alcoholic & painted his struggles with reality, suddenly a person is able to go from not getting it to just not liking it.

Let's get a little more political tho.
A viewer standing in silhouette in front of Picasso's most famous painting
Picasso's epic mural Guernica is the only painting of his I even like. For the most part, I despise Pablo (altho, I quote him often enough that you  would never know it), because he was a shallow, abusive, sexist, alcoholic with very few redeeming qualities** - however, he was a brilliant painter. The reason I even like Guernica is because it's about the Spanish Civil War, & according to Wikipedia is "one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history." Without that bit of context, you would stand in front of it looking at the technical precision, but would never be able to appreciate the soul of the work. Which, let's face it, is the important bit.

The way we look at art is pretty extreme in its shallowness. I think that's why a lot of people only think about middle-Renaissance work when they think about art appreciation: that's the point in art history where the shallowness of the work is equal to our understanding of it. We appreciate the technical precision. The colors. The composition. And that's all, because that's all there is to it. Yes, works like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are amazing in their magnitude, & with any luck you could find some academic appreciation of it that would provide adequate context to be able to reliably understand the work, but the reason Michelangelo was a genius has little to do with his technical abilities***.

My point here, is that when you look at art you must read the little sign next to it. Maybe you think art should be able to speak for itself, but it can't. Not even the most educated art historian can pull "Spanish Civil War" just from the composition, technical precision, & palate of the piece above. You have to understand something about the world that needed this work before you can actually appreciate it.

As to the comic I mentioned at the beginning of this screed: most Renaissance art is vapid & shallow. The people who painted these works weren't trying to say anything about beauty - if anything, pieces like The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus were exercises in avoiding abject poverty. That, my friends, breeds cynicism.

And cynicism is the most deadly of art's enemies.

*Remember kids, it's what you are like, not what you look like that's important. Pull that beauty from your character not your size, shape, skin color/clearness, or gender presentation. You are so much more valuable than the accidents of genetics that made your physical form. Trust me on this one.
**My opinion, you see. I'm not going to be swayed against it.
***You might be a bit scandalized by this, but he didn't really paint most of that piece. Large scale commissions are why God invented apprenticeships.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Self-care & the working artist

Like you, I grew up with working class parents who instilled in me the following:
No one else is going to do your work, so suck it up & get it done.
It's an admirable value. This value has powered me thru 8 years of (occasionally profitable) self-employment. It's what has enabled me to come back into making art full-time even tho I have a full-time illness as well. However, I sometimes wonder if this "work will make you free" idea doesn't backfire a little on us working-class schlubs. Or maybe that's just a little too political for an art blog*.

My caretakers
But, as a person with a chronic illness, I have to have a pretty regimented self-care routine. Well, I say regimented**, but it doesn't look terribly planned & Prussian from the outside. My body is a war zone half the time - inflammation is attacking different areas (usually my skin & nerves, sometimes muscles), & making my life hell. If I come into contact with a little bit of soy sauce in my curry (because someone had to cheat at Thai food), I'm down for an entire week wishing my insides would just hurry up & get outside.

Being an artist is often difficult to reconcile with a strong work ethic until & unless you're established to the point where you always have some idea of what's going on next. Like any normal person, we have this drive to keep producing; to shut out the world & fill up the page. But add a debilitating condition to that mix & you get restlessness so powerful it might try to invade Poland.

So, I have to stick to a sort of plan. This week that meant sleeping a lot & binge-watching the X-Files. With sufficient injections of caffeine, I was able to churn out a couple pages for the FSH book, but not much else. When the brain is fogged by pain meds, there's not much you can do - altho that shaming "you better get this done or else" tape seems to be completely unaffected by the psychotropic affects of my pain management routine.

What I'm trying to say here, is that there isn't an update this week because I've been sick. But I wanted to write something so you wouldn't miss my ramblings. You know, because I'm an artist & my ego assumes that you want to have some access to the inside of my head.

*After my father died, I decided to finally let him be right about something & became a communist. If you didn't know that already, we probably haven't actually met.
**Chaotic neutral

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What was it Oscar Wilde said...

Actually it was Blaise Pascal:
I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.

But he wrote it in French.

I spent most of the today working on grant proposals. The thing about writing a grant is that you have to distill the entirety of your artistic self into 200 words. Often fewer. (For reference, this blog post is at least double that.) You might notice that I'm a bit on the verbose side*, so it can be time consuming for me to get all of what I'm trying to say into 2 or 3 paragraphs. But it's necessary to keep things brief & clear so as to avoid turning the grant committee's brains into jelly. Commonly, grant committees require dynamic language, entire words, & very little by way of swear words. Not even the occasional "fuck" for emphasis.

It's good practice tho. Being able to talk about your work in an exceptionally precise manner is a pretty rare skill - & I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that I am frequently annoyed by people who use more words than necessary to talk about their work. I even annoy myself when I do it.

The internal editor is a powerful figure, & I don't think she has great enough sway in general discourse. I like being able to babble with a close friend about an idea we share**, but if I'm talking to people I don't know there's very little that throws me off my game more than not having my words under me. I hate faking it. I hate using buzzwords. And the only time I'm okay quoting Shakespeare is when I'm putting someone in their place.

Consequently, this type of writing is very emotionally taxing for me. It's a good thing I've spent more than half my life trying to get my deepest feelings out of my head & into some kind of comprehensible prose.

I would usually prefer to be painting tho.

*I blame Tolkien.
**I've even watched someone fall in love with me while talking about art. It was incredible. I won't be able to tell you if it stuck tho... not yet.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Book of Rainbows & Other News of Late April

Here's what's new this week!

  • The Book of Rainbows!
  • FibroShark now with greater computing power!
  • Map Lotuses
  • Exciting images of the inside of my face
  • And a long conversation with the Director of Alumni Relations at Cornish

As per usual, you can find me & all my wonderful insanity on Facebook & Instagram. You can also find FibroShark on Facebook & keep up with the progress on the book from there.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Remarkably little time-travel this week...

Now, this face I can draw.
I spent today watching the X-Files & trying to draw myself as a comic character.

I've never really been much for figure-drawing, but I'm getting a little more into it since I'm illustrating a book with humanoid figures in it. (Humanoid in the sense of two-arms-two-legs-one-head.)

Yesterday, tho, someone asked what I do... "I'm an illustrator right now," I said, a little bit of pride welling up. Being self-employed & making my own money is one thing, but holy moses, making money doing art is new. 

But this week wasn't just for making work, I also went to a couple of show openings to see recent work from a few of my EDGE colleagues.

cARTtography at Ryan James Fine Arts in Kirkland - featuring work from Erika Norris & Vikram Madan - is a collection of work that explores narrative thru map-making. As a Timelord, I'm a big fan of maps & I enjoyed a lot of the work I saw. Especially a piece the title of which implied that even the most logical among us flips to the horoscope section of The Stranger.

And Saturday saw the opening of Black Lives Matter: Humanity Not Negotiable at Columbia City Gallery. This show was a huge hit (at least, if the mob out front of the door was any indication), due in no small part to the pieces from my good friend Lisa Myers-Bulmash. All in all, the show is a well-curated collection of works from Seattle's often-neglected artists of color, and is well worth your time if you end up wandering thru Columbia City.

I wish I could write more about these shows, but it's fairly difficult for me to spend sufficient time in a gallery. Instead of taking my word for it, tho, you should get out & visit these shows while they're up.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Real. Working. Artist.

Here's what's going on in the Setzer Studio:

Stay tuned to this blog for art rants & various updates. Also, provide me with some much-deserved emotional validation on Facebook & Instagram.