On Donating Work

Cancer Sell donationA few months ago I was involved with a project that left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. It wasn’t the project itself, or the committee I was on, they were both fabulous. It was the reaction of the artists that were involved.

Charity Begins in the Heart

One of the best things about being an artist is knowing that my work can impact the world. It may only be in a small way, with just one person, but even just one drop of water can make a ripple across a lake. So when I see the opportunity to donate some of my work in support of a good cause, I typically jump at it.

What goes through my head in a situation like that is from an attitude of service. How can I help them? What kind of work will bring the greatest good?

What doesn’t go through my head is, “How much commission am I getting?”

A Fundraiser By Definition

When someone puts out an open call for submissions for a fundraiser, in my opinion, all of the money should go to the fundraiser. I don’t ask for money from it. That defeats the purpose to me. It is especially true if the fundraiser is for an organization that I belong to that supports my needs in some way. If I am not the one running it and it earns me money personally – it’s not a fundraiser, it’s a sale.

If I am offered commission, I tell them that I would like to donate it back into the fundraiser; that’s what fundraisers are for, raising funds. I don’t ask for more. I was appalled when I’d heard that the artists the call went out to had refused to be involved, in support of their own arts organization, because they weren’t getting enough commission and had asked for 50%.

I don’t get it and I am happy to say that I do not think like that.

Recycling for Art

The Economy Made Me Do It

If I, by current financial situation, cannot afford to create something because of a lack of supplies – i.e. canvas or watercolor paper – I usually don’t let that stop me. I’ll recycle cereal and food boxes into canvas, whatever it takes. There is always something I can use and art is, by its very nature, invention.

Professional artist or not, I cannot look at an opportunity to help someone and say no because I put too much work into a piece to not make money off of it. My brain doesn’t work like that. I’m an artist. Creating is, thankfully, not a finite thing.

If I run out of canvas, I use paper.
If I run out of paper, I recycle boxes.
If I have no more food boxes, I’ll recycle plastic bags into plarn and knit something.
I’ll draw, paint with nail polish, make dye from plants, whatever I can get my hands on.

But I will NEVER allow money to dictate my creativity. Never.

Money, or a lack thereof, controls everything else in my life. I’ll be damned if I am going to let it keep me from doing what I love.

Work Ethic

I think what it all comes down to is that I apparently have a different outlook on my art and being an artist. I love what I do. I don’t do it for money. If I get money out of it, WOOT. Bonus. If I can bring in enough money to help support my family, DOUBLE WOOT. But money doesn’t motivate my creativity. It just isn’t why I do it.

What about logos and other gigs that are paid work? That’s different. I do get paid for my time, when I’m lucky, but that is contract work and a whole different kind of animal.

Work that I make out of love, I do that to make people smile and maybe brighten a little corner of their world.

abandon_tagv1Create with Abandon

One of the things that I love to do, and am doing more of lately, is abandoning my art.

I joined a group recently on Facebook created by Michael DeMeng called Art Abandonment. The group’s members have been incredibly inspiring and I am proud to be a part of it. I have abandoned art out in the wild before, leaving inchies and art cards in random places or our favorite hang outs. This group has displayed a kind of compassion for others and a passion for their work, though, that I want to help nurture and am looking forward to being involved with.

And making art to give it away to the happiness of others is, in my opinion, by far the greatest payment in itself.

Out of the mouths of babes

The last few days have been spent in as non-vertically bedridden a state as we could manage. My daughter is feeling better now so, communal hermitage disbanded, I am sitting at my desk.

Mostly staring at the screen.

I have managed to weed out my email, though not answer any yet, and log in here. Am I slacking? Why, yes, I am. And I can safely say that I do not like breathing through sand. ::insert blank stare here:: Ok…so what was my point to this? Oh. Yes.

My daughter’s desk is now next to mine and she has decided it was time to make accessories for our Monster High dolls. Val bought her Lagoona Blue for Christmas, then picked up the nerdy-but-wonderful Ghoulia Yelps for me with her awesome librarian-reminiscent, horn-rimmed glasses. My daughter loves making tiny things out of paper, clay, toothpicks, anything I give her permission to raid from the studio or the kitchen. With Lagoona looking on in approval from her handmade, brightly-colored Lego chair, she just finished making pencils out of toothpicks and a coordinating notepad. My Ghoulia had Christmas earlier this year with a bag cover, a book (pre-made), a wallet with tiny bills in it ($12.00, enough for a pizza), and a newspaper with a Have you seen this monster? ad of a zombie. Apparently Ghoulia’s father is missing.

So my daughter asks if she can modify the bottom of a makeup container that I gave her. I tell her no, but that she could make something to fit in the bottom without gluing it in. She comes up with an idea and, after trying to explain to me what she wanted to do (my Mommy Translation Device is apparently non-functional today) she stops, sighs, and starts drawing.

A moment later she shares her drawing with me and says, and I quote, “Mother.” (frustrated) “I have child words of wisdom to spew out.”

Wow. O_O I don’t even know what to say to that other than good word usage? LOL

Think I am going to go lay back down.

Messy love

During the course of my daughter’s art lessons I have had the opportunity to paint again. Though only for an hour, it was nice to have the paint under my nails and up to my knuckles; a lovely, creative mess.

I have been so busy between work, finding work, homeschooling and life (college and everything else) that I haven’t had any urge to do anything creative. I sit up in bed at night and write a couple pages on my novel (read 2am) before finally turning off the light, but I’ve not really been able to dig in and get messy in a while.

A dear friend of mine in India is sending me the text I need to complete this one, as well as an assemblage I am entering into a competition (more later on that).

This one consists of lots of glue, a vintage map of India (since he is an Indian ellie), tissue paper for wonderfully wrinkly skin, and acrylic paint as well as pen and ink. Sharpies work well at times, but my tool of choice is my black Pentel Energel .5mm gel pen.

As soon as the package arrives from India I will complete it and post an update with more photos. I plan to look into making prints of her as well as greeting cards though that will depend on funding. The original may go up on eBay, not sure yet as we are all kind of attached to her.

For now she stands silent on her easel in the corner, waiting, Unrecumbent.

Moments of sanity

I do believe that things happen for a reason though so, when my daughter wanted to paint something for her father yesterday, there was no surprise when I accidentally pulled out two small canvases instead of one. That was all the incentive I needed.

I have not had time for much more than doodling lately and my sanity from day-to-day is, typically, directly related to whether or not I get moments of creativity. I have been wanting to sit down and make something for weeks now and doodling wasn’t cutting it. I needed to dig into something, get paint on my fingers, a brush and pen in my hand, make a mess.

This year, I have had to do a big push for freelance work. Aside from college, homeschooling, household obligations (that tend to get put on the “do later” list), making food and…what am I forgetting, oh yea…sleeping, I haven’t had time to delve into anything. I have stolen moments here and there to write, much easier than dragging out all my paints, but it isn’t the same.

I was sent several small, 5×7 inch canvases in a thank you package from a friend recently. The package itself has taken up semi-permanent residence on the edge of my desk as I’ve yet to sort through it and put everything away. This week, in between work, school, and everything else, I will be completely reorganizing the largest room of our house; three computers and desks on one end, kitchen on the other, art studio/catchall in the middle. It is my hope to move our writer’s meetings here again as it is much more conducive to conversation, we can do and say what we want, and the kitchen is right there.

For now, I steal snippets of sometimes life-saving time to make memories with my daughter.

We laid newspaper out on the dining room table (the dining “room” being part of the aforementioned space) and pulled a few paints, a couple of brushes and palettes. Half an hour later I was refreshed and feeling human again…at least for another week.

A doodle break

I have been really busy lately so I decided to stop and breathe for a few minutes of doodling. I got an email that Illustration Friday’s theme was “linked” and the first thing that popped into my head was Siamese twins. I think it turned out pretty cute and may end up making it a greeting card.

Reinventing two dimensional

The amount of work that was put into this piece is incredible. I do not know how long it took them to make it but it is an impressive piece of work. I love the depth and action involved. The sweeping up and down movements of the jumps are fun. Enjoy!

parkour motion reel from saggyarmpit on Vimeo.

Art Book Fundraiser for Sophia Tavolacci

UPDATE 1117.09: After some consideration, I am extending the deadline to November 30th for submissions. I got an email from Sophia’s mother earlier today and she said that she had gotten a positive response for the project.

Sophia isn’t giving up. Neither am I.

We did not get the number of submissions I had hoped for, too few for a large book. Many thanks to those creatives who have sent in work so far. Please help me spread the word. We need more creatives!

– – –

My girlfriend Julee forwarded information to me about this precious little girl because I run Art for Cures. As a mother, my own little girl is 8, I cannot imagine what Sophia’s mother is going through. Please help in any way that you can…sophia


Sophia Tavolacci is 2 ½ yrs old and was diagnosed with severe Aplastic Anemia.


This is a rare life threatening disease. Her mother is leading fundraising efforts toward the only option to save her life. Her mother would have to have a special procedure to have an HLA identical sibling so that Sophia can get a bone marrow transplant from her sibling. This procedure will save her life. Insurance covers a little but not everything, so they need a LOT of help. See comment below for links to more information on Aplastic Anemia and the procedure.

Please support this family and come out to her fundraiser this Sunday the 8th if you are local to them in Woodside, NY; details on their site. You can read her story and find more information here:


Every little bit helps! If you cannot donate financially, please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. If you can donate the proceeds of an original piece of artwork or something in your Etsy shop, etc that you could sell on her behalf it would help. They really need this! I know times are tough, they are for all of us, but imagine if this were someone you loved. How important would it be to you to help?


One image is all it takes.

I am using the 10″x8″ standard landscape template on Blurb, here are the specs if you need them…

@ 300dpi = optimal image size is 2888px x 2475px

I will make your images work but minimum 300dpi is requested for them to look good and work well.

I have the Blurb software which is plug-in-and-go easy so we can do this fast and help them raise money. Please please please email me directly at renmeleon@gmail.com and include one high resolution image (no need to crop, I will) with your name as you would like it to appear and one link or your email for credit. By submitting your artwork you are giving me permission as Art for Cures to use the image in all promotional aspects for fundraising for this family and to help sell the book.

If the image is not appropriate for the book I will contact you to find a replacement. I am reserving the right to decline submissions if they are inappropriate.

All proceeds will go directly to Sophia’s family via Art for Cures and you will get credit for your work, mentions in the book and on the site(s), etc. You retain all rights to your work. Please help.

Any positive images that represent love, hope, compassion, caring, mother and female child, angels…keep it light, happy, hopeful. If you would like to send loving thoughts to them directly please check out Sophia’s mother’s journal on the site above.

ADDENDUM: I am looking for someone that would be willing to purchase a copy of the final book for Sophia’s mother. I am not getting anything out of this monetarily, and probably won’t even be able to buy my own copy, so I need someone willing to step up and help with a copy for Sophia’s mother. If you would like to help, please email me. I will include you in the thank yous on my site(s).

Thank you!

UPDATE 1105.09: Spoke to a representative of the Aplastic Anemia & MDS Foundation today. As a “personal fundraiser” they are not allowed to help publicize things BUT I suggested we could make a donation and their rep said donating 10% to AAMDS would get the project on their site. WOOT The other 90% goes to Sophia’s family; I spoke to Sophia’s mom and they are excited at the possibilities…

Now we just have to fill the book up so COME DONATE IMAGES!

And the official name of the project is now “Hope: The Sophia Project”.

Art can be anything

If there is one thing that I have learned in this life, it is that anything can be used as a creative tool. I hope you are as impressed with these as I am.

Chalk, not just for teachers and clogging your lungs anymore. I really enjoyed the music on this as well.

Think about this the next time you build a sand castle. I am not sure but I think this was the Russian version of the Got Talent-like shows. If anyone knows, let me know.

Small Wonders

The day-to-day has become a blur as of late except for a few frozen moments here and there that stand out that I thought I would share…

And the rockets red glare

And the rockets red glare

Fourth of July

We love Fourth of July here and not just because it is a good excuse to play with fire. We get together with family, eat really good food (understatement), and watch the men get stupid trying to outdo each other with the mortars.

This year we brought my mother with us to my ex-brother-in-law’s house…and about 50 bucks worth of fireworks with us. He was already well prepared though with over 200 dollars worth so needless to say we had a good time.

I didn’t have my digital camera last year so I thought I would play around a bit this year. I was lucky enough to catch the shot above, an actual mortar going off, by using my Twilight (delayed exposure) setting on my CyberShot.

As far as the food, well there were meatballs in a crockpot full of sauce, to-die-for baked beans being served right out of the oven, some fabulous green beans, three different kinds of ribs that were REALLY good and a myriad of other snacky odds and ends. We ate just enough to be confortable plus two bites and spent the rest of the evening outside on the back deck under the stars watching the kids run around and the men see if they could blow each other up. It was a wonderful 4th.


Pigtail Day

You have to be pretty secure in yourself to wear pigtails as an adult. I have only seen a few people that could carry it off. Ysa asks me to wear them occasionally but I never thought I would be leaving my house in them. I did for our weekly write-in one week, in fact this was earlier in the day, and no one stared at me like I thought they would.  Ysa looks much better in them.


Objects in Mirror May Be Older Than You Are

We have a lot of car shows here locally and you can always tell when one is going on by who is out on the road.

I personally prefer the old Classic Muscle to the new vehicles on the road. They were sturdier, sexier, and it was about how you got there not when you got there. My favorite cars? There are three: The 1951 Hudson Hornet, the 1950 Merc Led Sled (suicide doors prefered), and the 1967Ford Anglia 105e. Yes, the Weasley’s car from Harry Potter, no clue why other than I would happily drive one and have a Golden Snitch hanging from the rearview mirror. LOL

Oh, and as far as the photo above. don’t worry I was sitting at a light.


Seeing Double

As an illustrator and designer, and even as a writer, I try to be as original with my work as possible. When I saw this in the bookstore recently I had to do a double take. Who designed the cover? It seems a little blatant to me. Twilight came out in 2005 and Words to Live By came out in 2007, a full two years afterward.

I have a shop on Cafe Press and one of the newsletter recently stated that apples were not to be used in any of the Twilight fan art posted to the public shops per the request of Meyers, author of the Twilight series.

The whole thing is amusing when you think about it though. One being a vampire novel and one being a book on Christian thought. I think C.S.Lewis might have had an issue with this.

Art Day

We had an “Art Day” play date over the weekend and my best friend brought me a lovely little paper mache box to play with. Having collaged and painted it, I decided it needed something to fill the empty space so I made a little mini book to go inside of it. We had a lot of fun and it was a much needed break.

Perpetually Catching Up

Ever feel like you dig out of one avalanche then get stuck in a blizzard on the way out? Things have been busy around here – full-time college student, homeschooler, freelance work or trying to get freelance work  – so I am always trying a new tactic.

I have tried assigning days for clients, assigning days for tasks, and something always seems to come along and disrupt my well-intentioned plans; normally it is my immune system. I am paring down my schedule so that I can focus more on school and the things that matter to me.

I am looking at my work as the Creative Director for PetsNPatients as a full-time job now and am devoting more time to it so that I won’t have to push so hard for freelance work which, up till now, has been my sole source of income. I want to get Art for Cures back on track, get the book projects off my plate, and be able to focus on my illustration work. The house needs seriously reorganized as well so I am doing that bits at a time.

With any luck you should see some major changes in the next couple of weeks including a lot more art from past and future projects as well as more bloggy goodness. It has been a long haul, one day at a time, and I know I have made some enemies, but it is going to be worth it in the end when I can get it all done and still retain my sanity.

The 2009 Calendars are here!

The first of the 2009 Calendars, in this case a small preview of my book The Painted Hand: An Artful Life in Paint and Paper, is up for grabs on Lulu. A collection of some of your favorite collage pieces as well as a few snippets of creative writing will keep you company for 12 months throughout the coming year. Come take a look!

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