A trip to New England

So. I’ve been trying to write a blog post about my Boston Interim trip. But I’ve been searching so much for the “best” way to write about it that I haven’t done much. I decided then to just actually go with the easiest way to do it. Basically, I’ll share the watercolors I did of the places we went and share a little of what they mean. These are not necessarily in chronological order as I took pictures of places and did the watercolors afterwards.

IMG_6133

In Concord, we visited Walden Pond where the very famous Thoreau built his cabin and lived there for about 2 years. The pond is almost more of a lake, although still considered a pond because of how it was formed. Good grief, I still want to call it a lake. It’s pretty big. In the image you can see the beautiful yellow that it was when we visited it. The lake itself was frozen and covered in about a foot of snow? Correct me if I’m wrong. Some of my classmates went on it. I was a chicken and didn’t. I stayed ashore, safe and sound and saw two of my other friends slip and fall. I might’ve laughed a little.

This watercolor is a landscape seen from the IMG_6134Northbridge. This bridge is where a lot of confusion happened and made some of the Englishmen die when they were coming in to get guns and ammunition out of American people’s hands. It was very confusing to me what exactly happened. But it was a beautiful view, and I couldn’t help but to try and represent it somehow.

IMG_6135This is a picture from inside the Old Manse. Highlights: Nathaniel Hawthorne lived here for a little, but the house belonged to Emerson; Sophia Hawthorne (Nathaniel’s wife) used to write on the glass windows and there’s some lovely poems on there. I loved the light coming in the room through the window and I wanted to capture that somehow. Not perfect but I’m happy with the results. I feel like the watercolor is doing is breathing it’s own life (and textures) into the image.

This one is back again at the Northbridge, but from a different position. We went thereIMG_6136 more than once and I just loved this huge tree at the top of this hill. As you may notice, it was a constant struggle of mine to represent snow. Snow is so hard. Sometimes I just wanted to draw a snowflake on the ground so people could go like “Oh, yeah. That be snow.” With this one though I still really like the way the lines turned out.

IMG_6137Ok. So this one was a hard one to execute. It’s a foggy view over the ocean bay out onto the other side of it in Salem. So the interesting thing about Salem is that it was where they had these crazy weird trials against witches. They were very bad trials and there’s a lot of history around them, and speculation about how they were used by some people to gain land and power. Crazy stuff. Anyways. After we toured a house in Salem, we had some freetime to explore. The view from the shore was beautiful—the houses in the distant land were semi-obscured by this fog. It all really matched the whole “witches” vibe. Also, many new age stores in town. You can go crazy with crystals and incense here if you want.

So this one is actually from the restroom that I used for most of interim in the inn that IMG_6138we stayed. I know, splendid to know where I did my necessities and cleaned myself. But, I just really liked again the light coming in and I got into this weird “paint windows” vibe there. This one the curtains are semi-closed which I appreciated.

IMG_6139Here we have me playing around with watercolor during a game of Mafia. One late-night a big part of the group decided to play mafia. During it I decided to explore watercolors a little, I ended up adding a kite, because why not?

I’ve omitted a couple of watercolors here that I don’t know what they represent, and they don’t look good.

This one is based off a picture a friend took of Cape Cod. This place was incredible. It’s IMG_6141just a beach, really, but it was beautiful. The way was overcast and after we walked on the beach we headed back home. It was a moment of reflection for me, where I tried to engage my senses and absorb as much as I could of the beauty God made. My cellphone ran out of battery so I used a friend’s picture to depict a more in-land part. Again, struggles with snow.

Wohooo! That’s most of the watercolors I worked on. I also made a couple off of friend’s pictures as Thank You cards for the professors, because they were great throughout the interim.

I think you enjoyed this walk-through my watercolors. As usual, most of these are available for purchase — you can just write me an email or reach me on Instagram or Facebook to inquire pricing.

Later on I’ll also share some pictures from my sketchbook and talk a little bit more about other parts of the trip.


Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. So if you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog – button is off to the side!

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Remember and Look Forward

The New Year is almost here!

For most of my life I never set any “New Year’s Resolutions.” I thought it was dumb to do so. I knew I wouldn’t follow them. Like everyone else, I imagine I’d forget them. I also didn’t have anything I was aiming for. But now I do have some big goals I want to aim for. And I think setting yearly goals can be encouraging for me as an artist to see my progress. In view of that I decided to set a couple of resolutions for 2018.

But before I go on to those, I think it’s also nice to look back and see what I’ve accomplished this year. I think it’s healthy to “count your blessings,” see how much you’ve done. Good self-care practice. And that way, next year I’ll have a point of comparison!

2017 Accomplishments

Art

 

Social Media

  • Reached 500 followers on Instagram. With 9,000 likes on 172 posts!
  • Reached 300 followers on Facebook.
  • Reached 33 followers on Twitter? I mean, every follower counts right?

 

bestnine17

Blog

I think one of my biggest accomplishments has been this blog. This was the year I started it, and while it’s still small, and had some struggles with it, I’ve been able to post somewhat often and it has encouraged me in my writing, reading, and drawing. Here’s a couple of benchmarks for the blog:

Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that this is just the beginning. But I’m thankful for moments like these, where I can take a breather, look back and remember what I’ve done and accomplished in one year.

But what’s to come?

2018 New Year’s Resolutions

I have a couple Major goals and a couple of Minor ones. The Major ones all relate to my art, while the Minor ones relate to health, relationships, travelling, church, etc.

Major Goals

  • I want to start my Youtube channel. I already have a couple of ideas bubbling – like a section called “Knitting my Thoughts Away,” and just like how I used the Summer to launch this blog I want to use this coming summer to launch my Youtube channel. I already have a profile set up if you’d like to follow so you don’t miss it when I start posting.
  • I also am planning on participating in two different ComicCons to test out the waters on selling my art at these types of events. I’ll be going to AniMinneapolis, and I’m hoping as well to get into the Grand Rapids ComicCon. With this goal I hope I’m able to make $5000 through commissions, prints and freelance work with my art.
  • I want to participate in ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. If you don’t know ArtPrize is this huge Art festival, where the whole city is filled with art and people walk around seeing lots of cool art. There’s some prizes and such, but honestly, I just want to do it for the fun and thrill of it!
  • To continue growing my Blog, and other social media audience. I want to reach more than 1000 followers on Instagram. You can always help out my referring my Instagram account to your friends!
  • Get a freelancing gig with an Illustration agency. I’m hoping to have this help me with bills during the summer! It’d be great to get some work experience in before I graduate.
  • Start work on a graphic novel (Writing).

Wow. I think that’s it! It’s a lot. Or at least it feels like it is. But it’s what we got for now. It will be awesome if in a year I look back and see that I accomplished all of them!

Onwards!

Minor Goals

  • To continue practicing yoga twice a week, and to start another form of physical activity
  • To make more friends and deepen the relationship with the ones I already have
  • To get a cat
  • To travel to one foreign country that I haven’t gone to yet
  • To get back to going weekly to church
  • To finish an Age of Empires story campaign
  • To read 20 books

Some of these are kind of silly and I don’t know how serious I’ll be in pursuing them, so I guess if they happen it will be more by accident than overtly conscious effort? Anyways. I think this is it!

It’s been a great year for me. With many struggles along the way, with much learning as well. I hope I don’t forget the lessons I’ve learned this year, and that next year will be an even better year!

Here’s to 2018!

And if you’d like to share below some of your New Year’s resolution I’d love to hear from you! It’s always good to write these down 🙂


Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. So if you’d like to stay updated with the webcomic make sure to follow the blog – button is off to the side!

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The Holy Virgin Probably had Body Issues

by Heather Milks

 

Christmas - Christ the Savior is Born - Poem

Wrapped in flesh, clothed in skin stinking writhing

Child-king, Man-God

Breather of the universe

 

Supernatural meets natural

Lord God in heaven,

Grandfather of the Sky

 

Breath of life, maker of truth,

Utterly, disgustingly physical

Embodied divinity

 

And hope? Hope in what?

Hope in infancy, puberty, and a man to come?

 

Holy Second of the Trinity,

Totally physical, absolutely spiritual.

 

And I? I look and wish it weren’t true.

If God would just stay up in the sky, maybe I could avoid him.

If he didn’t understand earth-pains, I could run.

The babe that haunts me.

If God can say, “yes, I know” I am caught, and forced to weep.

 

Man-God born to some kid younger than I,

The holy virgin probably had body issues.

 

Itching at foreign flaked skin,

Let me leave, let me float away.

Transcend flesh, join you up in the sky.

 

But if he didn’t, then I can’t.

He put it on, and I want out?

He’s not up there, he’s here.

 

And I strangle the needs of my being,

Spirit-body, heart-beat of a soul,

 

I don’t even like babies.

Universal bandaid, one-size-fits-all.

Jesus the Nazarene,

Savior of the Universe

Solution of Man,

Sacred on Earth.

Christ the Savior is Born.

 

 


 

So I haven’t ever tried this. But I wanted to collaborate with someone for a Christmas post. Christmas is a very complicated Holiday for me, with all the gifts, consumerism, and masked smiles all put up against this beautiful, yet very simple moment of birth. Like, birth is such a human, down to the earth moment. Blood, tears, screams and pain. I don’t know, most of the time I just feel weird about Christmas – how am I supposed to engage it?

So I asked my friend Heather Milks to write something, something honest, sincere, questioning to which I could respond with an image of my own. Talking with her I feel that where she’s at in her own faith is a very similar place to my own, and I was really happy when she said “Yes!” So here’s the final result. I hope you like it as much as I did and that maybe it helps you to see afresh the birth of Christ.


 

You can check out Heather’s blog here. Where she talks about stuff, like her faith and religion and life. 

Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. So if you’d like to stay updated with the webcomic make sure to follow the blog – button is off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

What Made Me Cry This Week – Naive and Begin (Music)

I usually don’t do a lot of writing about music. My ears aren’t the best, I don’t fully comprehend different musical terms and in general I just feel trying to describe my musical experiences is like trying to hold water in my hands—it all ends up slipping through. But, I thought I would still give it a try, since it was indeed the thing that made me cry this week.

I came out of the bus that had been warming me back up in the 15 minutes I was in it. While I don’t usually enjoy the cold, I pretty much despise it most of the time, as I walked out of the bus I realized today was one of those few days where I embrace the cold, where I’m happy for it to be here. One of those days where cold feels more like a blanket, than a killing machine.

As I stepped out of the bus Naive by RKCB played.

Right after it played Begin (ft. Wales), by Shallou. I was still walking towards Spoelhoef. Out in the embracing cold. And I could just feel my eyes getting filled up with the different lyrics and verses.

I think these two songs represent a lot of what I’ve been going through this semester.

Naive represents my heartache of things that didn’t work out. Often, I hoped that things maybe will come back, that they’ll be what they were again. The title and the verse “I’m not naïve,” pointed to how naïve I can be in an almost ironic way. It made me sad, but also made me want to laugh at myself. How often have I hoped for the past to come back, but I know it won’t? I’m naïve through and through, but I saw my lips moving together with those verses, understanding myself in them.

The music itself caught my attention because of how mellow it is. It’s simple, with a base sound in the background that doesn’t pull you away from the singer. Slow beats and simple texturized sounds flow in the back. But what sold the song for me were the simple yet moving lyrics.

In what’s the “climax” of the song for me, RKCB sings:

“Just promise me

You let me be inside my dreams

Where it’s not over”

I think Begin, coming right after this song gave a whole twist on the moment’s meaning. Like Naive the melody is somewhat simple and mellow, but this one has a hint of hope. It’s starts with a couple of uplifting beats and then he starts singing. There’s some nice variations in the “highlights” of the songs, but the base of the song stays steady. The voice is breathy, almost spiritual and distant.

But the lyrics again are what finally drove this song in deep—even if I’ve already heard this one in the past.

“Change your mind
‘Cause I wasn’t thinking right
We can begin at the top.”

Pretty often we hear to not be ashamed or embarrassed of our mistakes, to embrace them. And while I think there’s some degree of that that we should carry with ourselves, we should also feel comfortable to change our minds, to admit—“I wasn’t thinking right.” It’s hard to admit that we were wrong, but I think this song helps us relax and admit that we did mess up. We mess up all the time, let’s begin again.

In trying to deal with this past year, and this past semester, I had to remind myself both that I can’t go back to the beginning, to how things were. But also that I can change my mind, I can start over. I can restart myself and “Begin at the top.” It’s a paradox that I want to carry with myself.

So, as the end of the year approaches I want to remind myself of that. We can always try again, we can always recognize our mistakes, and we can always let go and move on.

Orange Unicorn – Remember This 12

Orange Unicorn - Webcomic - Waiting

Just a reminder that waiting is normal, sometimes we’re not where we want to be yet, and we have to wait.


 

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Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. So if you’d like to stay updated with the webcomic make sure to follow the blog – button is off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

What Made Me Cry This Week – Yoga

So, usually I stick to books and movies recommendations. But, who cares about consistency? Plus, it still fits with this section’s title.

Today I cried because of yoga. Ok. I didn’t exactly cry, but I cried the way I cry when I watch movies: my lips quivered, I swallowed, and my eyes filled up. I made it go away so no one would see me cry. My eyes filled up like twice.

It’s hard to explain why.

Ever since the end of Thanksgiving I had been feeling this constant emptiness. Like there was something off. I was having a hard time finding energy to do my projects – school related or even personal ones. I did yoga on Monday, but it didn’t solve it. It all still felt heavy. I don’t think I breathed enough during that one.

Tuesday, I felt even worse than the day before. It felt like the day was never going to end, and I just had to live with myself. I wanted to get out of me, but, as with most of us, I was stuck inside.

Then today (Wednesday) came, and I just felt “meh.” I went to work and it was meh. I went to class and it was meh. And everything was meh. Then I did yoga.

It was the normal. Stretching, flexing, holding. Breathing. Trying to smile in painful positions. Then, at the end, we had “shavasana.” Which is basically lying there, resting, breathing. Letting everything flow – meditation.

As I breathed, I could just feel like my whole body was there. Everything was real and it just made me smile that I was alive. Then I felt like crying because it just felt like such a good happiness. A subtle one. A happiness made of breath, of presence. A happiness made of words like “I’m alive.”

 


Originally written last week Wednesday.

 

Be sure to check Orange Unicorn’s last update.

Or jump back to the last What Made Me Cry This Week.

Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep trying. If you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog – there’s a button off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

Orange Unicorn – Remember This 11

Orange Unicorn - We Are Body

Sometimes we forget that we’re this body. When we walk through this life we forget to feel our bodies fully, breath, touch, smells, sight, tastes. Feel your body fully. Remember.


 

I’m really proud of this one. Even though I broke several of my own-given rules for the comic. Oh wells. I used reference for it and I feel I should link to that. There’s nudity though, so just be warned of that.

Previous episode – Next episode

Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. So if you’d like to stay updated with the webcomic make sure to follow the blog – button is off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

I Think I Lost The Focus of It: Trying

It’s Sunday night. After Thanksgiving break. Tomorrow, it’s back to class and work again. J Andrew Gilbert, is trying to figure out what are the best ways to pretend he doesn’t have class tomorrow. The semester is ending after all.

He started thinking about a blog post. This post.

In this post, he’ll explain how he feels that in some way he doesn’t know what he is doing anymore with this blog. I mean what is its purpose? What is he trying to talk about?

When he began on his journey, he knew it was going to be hard. To keep it up and to just write. To just make a post. But even if you know things, doesn’t mean you’re prepared for it.

So far, he has written several posts related to things he likes – book reviews, mostly. He has also done self-motivational writing. Mostly meant for himself, but that he hopes someone else finds encouraging – especially other creatives like him. He has also started a web comic, that has been faulty in it’s submissions timeline.

Even within the comic itself he kind of lost himself too. What started as a play-off of his friendship with Zach, has become into a “Remember This” series. He quite enjoys the “Remember This” series as he feels it gives him more room to play with the images and “poetry” (many quote marks around poetry, please).

But, even though he doesn’t know what he is doing, and even though he doesn’t know what exactly he wants to accomplish. And that he has no real “brand.” Or no masterful plan to how he’s going to take over the internet world with his awesome writing and image-making. He does know that he enjoys doing it.

He enjoys the hardship if putting himself out there. He enjoys the pain and friction of trying to put into words thoughts, feelings. He enjoys to put give breath, a body. He enjoys writing. He enjoys drawing. And he enjoys sharing it with you.

He hopes that in something of this you find yourself a little bit encouraged. Or that you feel understood in some level, because you feel yourself represented. In an image, or a phrase. Or maybe just a line.

He isn’t no great writer, nor a great artist. But at least he’s trying. And this blog, so often, has been just about that: trying.


 

This month of November I had a lot of views on two blog posts that I’m really proud of, for different reasons and they have very different writing styles. If you missed them here’s a friendly link to each one:

So. This is Unedited.

Arabian Nights – Poster Design

Be sure to check Orange Unicorn’s last update.

Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep trying. If you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog – there’s a button off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

So. This is unedited.

Some days I just want to write down thoughts, and hope that the world cares. So, here we go. Unedited thoughts of a wanna be artist on a Tuesday morning to keep you entertained.

Because who hasn’t tried? Who hasn’t put their foot forward and tried? To relax, to chill, under the window sill, looking out into the fields of grey air and yellow sky.

So I walked, out into the fields of knowledge and emptiness. Listening to the Taylor Swift that was bashed by many, just because she did something? She did something that I can’t quite know what it is, because no one quite explains it, because no one quite understands it themselves do they?

It’s like the formless grey air in the morning. Sure, scientists can probably tell you it’s a combination of humidity and temperature levels creating this air we call fog. But really, that explains it? Is it not for the clouded of mind that fog happens? So that environment reflects soul? Is fog not for the soothing effects on the soul? For the beauty of breath? And is it not beautiful? Can you please tell me why it is so? I’d like to know, so I can recreate it in a painting, in a poem or in a phrase. Grey air made by an artist.

I also wanted to tell you this:

Give yourself some love. Call yourself sexy and then do a chicken dance. The fog will hide you away in its embrace.