Children of Prophecy Now Available!

CoP_GlynnStewart_TinyUp until today, this was a super secret project. My husband, author Glynn Stewart, has been working on polishing up some of his old novels (at the same time as he works on current ones!) for sale on Amazon. The ebook for Children of Prophecy is up now, and the print version will be available before Christmas.

An age in the past, the world’s two greatest Mages fought a bloody war to a draw that slew them both.

In the time since, the Kingdom of Vishni has known quiet, and the Swarm beyond the mountains has grown in strength and numbers. Now, with the Time of Prophecy at hand, dark forces move to fulfil ancient visions.

Two men, born to poverty but bearing the blood of those ancient Mages, will rise to decide the fate of both Swarm and Kingdom as the fires of this ancient conflict rise anew.

Check out some photos of the painting in progress after the jump.  Read More…

2008 Look Up! Accessible Space Installation

A beaded ladder stretches up to an industrial-looking ceiling at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design UniversityI was digging through my art files from the last few years, and came across a neat installation that I had done back in art school in 2008:

Construction workers, maintenance personnel, architects and civil engineers all use a plethora of signage and techniques to make dangerous and useless spaces seem inaccessible to us. But at the same time, public and private spaces that are meant to be accessible to everyone will often accidentally exclude people—sometimes those with disabilities—due to poor planning, lack of budget or bad design.

In this piece, I explore the creation of a seemingly accessible space that deliberately excludes the viewer. A ladder is a tool that many of us use to get (vertically) from place to place. When the connection that it provides is too fragile to hold our weight, it leaves us either stuck in place or surrounded by a cascade of falling beads.

This installation was completed as part of an assignment in exploring accessible space, at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in Halifax, NS, Canada.

Setup:

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On art school and preparing to be an artist

I have a lot to say about the way we run our four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts programs here in Canada. And it’s not because I think everyone should go into engineering or a trade. It’s not because I think the artistic skills students learn aren’t worth the money—not entirely, anyway. No, the problem I have with art schools is that at the end of four years, you know how to make art, but you have no idea how to be a professional artist.

Read my blog post at artismybusiness.com.

Happening in Calgary: GlobalFest

GlobalFest Calgary started last week, but there are three more nights of arts, culture and fireworks coming up on August 19, 21 and 23. The festival takes place at Elliston Park and aims to celebrate Calgary’s cultural diversity, and each night of fireworks is dedicated to a different country (this year, it’s Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and France).

Admission is $20 plus GST.

Tuesday, August 19: Vietnam Night
Thursday, August 21: France Night
Saturday, August 23: Fireworks Finale

The Night Street Market runs from 6 – 9pm and includes vendors of handmade fine jewellery such as Corabella and the Highland Shoppe (which is also a client of mine), and lots of other artisans, craft-makers and other fun finds. Make sure to stop in just across the street at the LoveCraft Gallery: they’ll be hosting their Fluid exhibition (Reception Friday, August 22) and—even if you’re not planning to buy a painting—they have a lot of cool stuff, from buttons and fine art cards to Villainess Soap.

Parking: 17th Avenue shuts down after 6pm, so the best place to park, from what I’ve heard, is the Marlborough Mall. A shuttle will take you from the mall to GlobalFest and back, and the last shuttle leaves from the mall at 9 p.m. You can also park west of 52nd Street and walk.

I’m going to be stopping in tomorrow night to look around, take photos and (hopefully) stay for the fireworks!

The HabitRPG Experiment

Darth Malak, wearing Sith robes and with robotics covering his jaw, stands in a guard position with his red lightsaber.  Revan, whose entire body is covered by Sith robes and a mask, stands in front of him, on our right, holding his own red lightsaber in a ready position. Both face a common enemy.

Darth Malak, the villain of KOTOR, and Darth Revan, his Sith master. The image first appeared in Jedi vs. Sith, and can be found in a larger resolution on Wookiepedia.

The first RPG (role playing game) that I really remember playing was KOTOR (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic). I thought it was brilliant, and I thought the story was brilliant, even though I totally called the twist at the end. Seriously, I have witnesses.

KOTOR was amazing to me, because I got to pick the story and manipulate the outcome of a whole bunch of NPCs (non-playable characters), and of course, this being Star Wars, the fate of the galaxy. It had its limits, of course. If I had a better idea for how my character could get things done, I was out of luck. Pick one of four options and keep the story going—which might be why computer RPGs are a gateway drug into either fanfiction or tabletop RPGs, where you have greater storytelling abilities. (Fanfiction would be cheaper.)

In real life, it’s easy for me to get overwhelmed by my to-do list, but I noticed something recently: while I was playing through Fallout 3 (a computer game), I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the options. Oh sure, there’s a dozen quests or more available at any given time (go get this item, please find my parents, kill all the giant fire-breathing ants), but with Fallout, I was just putting one digital foot in front of the other. With a computer RPG, it’s really easy to filter out all the extraneous crap that the world throws at you so that you can just focus on your next goal. And after that, the next goal, and after that… that’s why they can be so addictive. Anyone who’s ever played The Sims knows that it’s really easy to click around the screen for hours getting characters to do excruciatingly mundane stuff.

So, can we take that mental state and hack our brains so we’re actually working on our own to-do lists, instead of a video game writer’s’?

Of course we can. Read More…

Social Media for Artists workshop on August 30

Attention: this class is being postponed for the time being. We’re planning to turn it into a series of weeknight sessions later in the fall. Contact jack@redmarkermedia.com if you have any questions!

On Saturday, August 30, I’ll be teaming up with the LoveCraft Gallery to teach a workshop called “Social Media for Artists: The Basics.”

This is for all those creative types who want to get their work out there through social media marketing, but:

A) Don’t know how to get started, or
B) Need a system to keep from losing their whole day to social media.

In this hands-on workshop, you’ll create professional-looking images for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr, and will learn about the tips, tricks and culture of each platform. You’ll also learn to go through a process that can save you time, help you promote your work, and get you connecting with art lovers in Calgary and beyond.

 

You’ll need to bring a smartphone, laptop and power charger, as well as an image editing program like Photoshop or GIMP. You’ll also want to have digital photos of some of your art. If you’ve already got a headshot that you like, make sure to bring it, too! Read More…

Happening in Calgary: Cracks in the Pavement

Poster: City Repair Calgary presents: Cracks in the Pavement: Placemaking and the Remaking of the Modern City with Mark Lakeman“Cracks in the Pavement” is a talk on Thursday, July 17 about reclaiming public spaces, by architect and urban designer Mark Lakeman. Doors open at 6:30, and tickets cost $15-25 (pre-register and save!)

I’ve always found the idea of designing urban spaces so that a diverse group of people are living together and interacting with one another an intriguing one. The talk itself focuses on reclaiming spaces within existing communities, from turning an intersection into a community gathering space to creating a community garden, getting neighbours and children and pets out into the same space so that they can all get to know one another.

Reading some of Lakeman’s work, he uses an interesting phrase: he’s all about creating “place” out of “space.” A place is somewhere you hang out, meet friends and play D&D, but a space is just an empty area that nothing is drawn to.

This week is a busy one for me, so I won’t be able to make it. I’m counting on you all to tweet about it!

A whimsical photoshoot with Calgary model Sara Woolverton

Instagram of one of the fountains at Central Memorial Park, via my @giesencreative account

Instagram: “Scouting out the area for a photoshoot. Totally forgot to bring bug spray.”

This Tuesday, I went down to Central Memorial Park in downtown Calgary for a photoshoot. The park is a brilliant spot for photography and includes fountains, park benches, trees of all kinds, and a wonderful old library building. But mostly, it’s one of the only places in Calgary that has a full-sized fountain (or two), which is exactly what I needed in my photos.

I’ve been planning and sketching an urban fantasy-style series of paintings for some time now, At this point, I’m collecting some photos that will act as references for specific pieces—including some photos I took on Tuesday that will help me paint the piece I’m planning to submit for the LoveCraft Gallery’s show in August, Fluid Click here to see the photos.

Open dialogue and diversity in SFF

If you haven’t guessed from any of my previous posts, a big part of my worldview centres on feminism, and I also try to make my feminism intersectional as much as I can.

Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw to help describe the experiences black women and women of colour, and it basically means that any given person is affected by all of their identities. Unlike other feminist theory of the time (and even today), intersectionality recognizes the impact of not just gender, but race, sexual orientation, gender identity, class and education.

What this means for me is that I need to recognize that I have certain privileges that helped me get to where I am. An example I often use: as a teenager, I had the ambition and the drive as to pull together my own education in the arts (and get into art school) despite living in a small town with no access to art classes. But while not everyone in my situation would have been able to pull that off, my family also had the resources to both send me to different cities to learn and give me the leisure time I needed to study/create art.

School bus at Vancouver Pride 2009

Vancouver Pride 2009

Also, the level of safety and security that most Canadians enjoy (a low 1.6 in 100,000 chance of being murdered) contributes to our ability to participate in conversations around culture, as well as create art and literature ourselves. But not everyone has access to the same level of security: while this doesn’t stop LGBT participation in activism and culture, hate crimes against gay people still happen in Canada, and transgender youth face an enraging amount of verbal abuse and physical violence. Aboriginal and First Nations women, meanwhile, make up 16% of all female homicide victims in Canada, even though they represent only 4.3% of the population. The difficulties that members of any particular group face add to the hurdles that they have to overcome to contribute to culture—and that’s without looking at whether they have a harder time finding someone to listen to them.

So for me, part of feminism is about awareness, and part of it is about saying “Dude, not cool” when someone makes a joke that punches down . Read More for how we can use this starting point to have better conversations in SFF.

Happening in Calgary: LoveCraft’s Abstract Art Reception

The page image is Looking to the Future by Jennifer Park, one of the pieces exhibited in the LoveCraft Gallery’s Abstract show.

This week, I’m heading back to the LoveCraft Gallery for Tracy and Daria’s newest show, Abstract (RSVP here). On Friday, July 11 at 5 p.m., the doors open for a chance to mix and mingle with some of Calgary’s most creative individuals, and to take in some beautiful artworks that you might not have a chance to see otherwise.

I’m not talking about beauty as defined by historians and New York City gallery directors. I’m talking about the kind of beauty in an artwork that can stop you in your tracks.

But what if you don’t have any interest in abstract works? A lot of people like to look at and collect specific works of art: we have a lot of ravens and wolves in our house, for instance. But whether you prefer concept art or fan art, landscapes or portraits, digital art or oil paintings, I think you should give Abstract a chance. Read More…

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