New Art – April 2019

Well, not all of it’s new, just an upgrade in image quality. I have more stored for later, so I’ll probably be adding it all to the renovated portfolio pretty soon. If you have a DeviantArt, feel free to follow me if you want, and check the new artwork out:

http://smshuford.deviantart.com

The uploaded art includes illustrations from Loverboy, a handful of fanart, and some touched-up pieces from 2017.

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Thoughts on What Holds Us Back

Completionism, procrastination and lack of confidence, I can tell you right now are the unholy triad of offenders that keep us from achieving more. The last one is not as much of a worry for me as the first two, but a lack of confidence in a particular project can damper it to the point where it stays in hiatus hell for a long time. Until a couple of months ago, that’s where most of my writing was.

I don’t have any clear-cut, good advice that works for every individual when it comes to completionism and procrastination, as they are much, much trickier to overcome. The former is responsible for the hiatus on posting my artwork, because I’ve been set in this mindset that I realize is absolutely the stupidest, that I need to finish every piece I’ve begun before I can post any of it because it should all be posted together.
Yes, it is ridiculous, but when you are a perfectionist these little things will drive you mad while nobody else notices! It’s the key reason I wanted to redo those chapbooks so badly, because I can’t stand to have anything that seems unfinished or flawed. Even though they weren’t – to me they could have more and better content, so that’s what they’re getting.

Procrastination is a matter of breaking habits, namely avoidance and laziness. Procrastination is kind of like a very persistent and needy phantom that clings to you whenever you have the time and need to work. Like I said, I have no advice for this, it’s just something you’re going to have to decide to stop when you’ve had enough of it. No motivation in the world is going to work if you don’t really want to change. Some personal ambition grown from your own heart is necessary.
What I find squashes the want to procrastinate quicker than anything is thinking of what you won’t have in the years to come if you don’t do it while you can. You may miss your opportunity to write anything if you don’t seize them while they’re there. I have finished more in this month than the entirety of last fall and winter by keeping this in mind, so if it helps. It’s probably not too healthy to panic under time, but considering how little there is in our lives does make one want to live for more, I believe.

Musings on Explicit Content

The term “explicit” in the context of something that is not suitable for younger or more sensitive audiences is an interesting, and extremely loose term. One individual may think that a picture of a woman in a bikini is explicit, while another may think that only the most heinous, taboo acts of violence and sexuality are explicit. Judgment of the term varies heavily across a spectrum from mild to graphic to “why would a human make this” levels when it comes to art and writing.

Personally, I consider “explicit” content to have material that may be extremely upsetting, somewhat tasteless but not promoting harm, or has enough nudity that you couldn’t look at it at work. I agree… somewhat begrudgingly… to websites mandating an explicit filter, such as DeviantArt. Anyone who doesn’t have an issue with possibly explicit content can just turn the filter off.
However, if the website is for adults and older teens, there is no purpose in being childish like Tumblr and outright banning anything that might be explicit, even if most people would not agree that it is. I have difficulty using Tumblr that often anymore because their new filtering system seems to have broken my tag system, and little that I write shows up on the search anymore. But that’s a rant I’ve already gone through.

When does someone consider a piece they’ve done explicit? It’s a pretty different experience between visual media and writing. Most writers are very aware that their content might be inappropriate for some, seeing as they usually have a clear audience in mind, but what about art?
Artists usually don’t think of their work, at least I don’t think of mine, as something that would bother somebody else, because it just kind of happens for us without there being much thought. Nudity is natural to art, and has been since cave drawings. The beloved classics of art can get quite raunchy for their day, as well, though this doesn’t keep photos of them out of textbooks, as it shouldn’t! Continue reading “Musings on Explicit Content”

Dead Air

Hello all! I apologize for the dead air recently. I’ve got a plethora of reviews in store that just need to be cleaned up and published, hopefully starting tomorrow (we’ll see…), but my books and art have monopolized my time, so most of my social media and blogging has been kind of lackluster. It’s a bit overwhelming to me to keep up with them. Come the dying months of 2018, I am completely redoing my galleries and moving it to Tumblr as well. No art I’ve posted is new, it’s all quite old and not very impressive in its current state, even if you like what’s there.

I have four books coming out between October of this year and May of 2019. Fun but not fun, you know. There is a hell of a lot of work involved because they are independent. Two are poetry, one is a concept mix that includes poetry, prose and short stories, and the final is a novel. All are a blend of horror, dark fantasy and romance to different degrees.

October 2018 – Loverboy
November 2018 – Absolute Heaven
January-Feb. 2019 – Haunt Me to Sleep
Spring 2019 – Untitled Horror Novel

-S. M., August 2018

Future News – May and June 2018

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I feel like late May and June are going to meld together into a big, swampish blob – it is already looking quite marshy and draining. I’m in the midst of professional writing work, so I really have no foresight for the next bit other than a handful of reviews and a renovation. I appreciate the people who have been reading my work – while still kind of in the budding process, being only five months old (technically six, but January was dead air so it doesn’t really count), I didn’t think it would do well at all. So, thanks! 🙂

My focus this month is horror books and poetry, pretty strictly as I don’t have a lot of time to read these days. Not as much as I would like, anyway. (Though, as any true reader will tell you, eternity is not as much time to read as they would like.) I’m sure other sorts of books will eke their way in as usual…

May and June bring some of the first intricate, traditional poetry I will publish publicly. As I’ve said before, I loved writing the haiku compilations, but they are sadly, aborted ideas that weren’t developed enough to form something better. I am a perfectionist of diabolical standard when it comes to these things, and they just didn’t have anything more to say to me. Two last haiku compilations are coming out in the next two-three months, and the remaining (there were I think twelve total) will be in a compilation, which you’ll be able to get on Amazon, Smashwords and all those other vendors.

-S. M., May 2018

Seven Devils II – Designing Sloth

[Creation notes and ruminations I took while designing the ink piece “Apathy of an Idol”, part of a horror mini-series. Read the previous entry here.]

Sloth is simultaneously the most difficult to personify and the most personally incensing of the seven sins. It’s a broader term than the others, for one, encompassing apathy, laziness, ingratitude and wastefulness, all of which are equally “Sloth” but different acts entirely.

Arguably, Sloth could be the worst of the whole lot, as an immeasurable amount of evil has been gotten away with due only to apathy. The idea of evil and misfortune always being “someone else’s problem” is a corrupting one, indeed. I suppose it’s more than fitting, then, that Sloth be an aggravating and slow-going ink piece with little inspiration to run on, isn’t it?

Sloth has no natural expression – you can’t really sense an apathetic or lazy nature on a person’s face, nor does it have the sinister or obsessive shine of the eye that greed or does, or the definitive flame-red of wrath. I guess at best you might get a sense of emptiness from somebody, or a lack of humanity at Sloth’s strongest – a mechanism that functions like a human but just only.

Again, this is something you sense – it’s incredibly challenging to convey the same thing in an artwork. My initial but admittedly boring idea for Sloth was to give the central character and their surroundings an overwhelming sense of sleep and melt, something akin to the dripping clocks of Dali, but with a more grotesque unkemptness fitting with the mini-series’ theme. Strewn garbage and moldy residue would’ve oozed from the world, which sounds fittingly disturbing, but was too similar to the sketch I already had finished for “Gluttony of a Beast”. I feared that the point might be missed if it was as gross as that one, or else they might be confused for each other. Why should the Sloth piece necessarily be an unhygienic wasteland, when you can find apathy even in paradise?

So… after consideration and a full remix of the early sketch, the idea of melt and rot changed into a dystopian atmosphere of luxury – the focal character became an idol or figurehead of such overblown (and totally ambiguous) importance that they no longer are obligated to move their own limbs, as others stand by, ready to do it for them.

I chose a female figure for this piece, as she fit the “idol” tone more, and it evened out the gender disparity with the other pieces (most at the time had ended up being male or androgynous leaning towards male; the only other female one was Envy). I wanted this piece to convey abused privilege and really drive home the evil of such an atmosphere, as the central figure is surrounded by doll-like helpers who in reality may not be there by choice – handmaids in name only. As bad as Sloth is, its worst facet by far is turning a blind eye towards the oppression of others, if not outright condoning it for the sake of laziness. While probably the lightest piece in appearance (especially if it gets a colour version) “Apathy of an Idol” is the darkest in meaning.

See some of my current art on DeviantArt.

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Seven Devils Series I – Designing Gluttony

[Creation notes and ruminations I took while designing the ink piece, “Gluttony of a Beast”, part of a horror mini-series.]

Gluttony – the most animal yet the most self-destructive of the traditional sins, usually causing more harm to the practicioner than the practiced upon. I say usually, but when gluttony writhes out of its boundaries, it has no mercy to those who stand in its path. It’s a rabid and perpetually starving behemoth.

Gluttony when it applies to food is arguably on a moral level beyond simply “good” or “evil”, as animals who have a moral sense completely foreign to and far more instinctual than humans still can be gluttonous if the opportunity is there. Stranger still, opinions on gluttony vary so drastically, it could easily be taken as a virtue.

I don’t personally believe gluttony toward food can be considered “evil” exactly, as delicious food is quite the temptress and easy to give into, though it can be incredibly harmful to the self. It’s more understandable that it was considered to be a worse action back when they first began to write about the seven sins, as food was much more scarce for far more people.

Gluttony is strange. Inherently a dark feeling, though it’s separate from greed and definitely not obsession. It might cause apathy, but it’s not apathy. Nor is it an emotion, but it’s like an instinct that has gone cancerous and mad. Whether this yields bad, good, or neither, it is always too much and always taken too far.

With “Gluttony of a Beast”, I wanted to turn it onto an inhuman and fully grotesque edge that you might get a hint of once in a lifetime, but never, ever see in another. The Beast calls for a lot of grimy residual textures, like rice that congealed to a bowl over a week ago, as well as meaty textures. Meat textures are notoriously difficult to draw or paint, being a paradoxical combination of rough, spongy and greasy at once.

A notable inspiration was the monster No-Face from the film Spirited Away, who showcases a similarly odd, slimy texture. I also was adamant about including cannibalistic or hyper-carnivorous themes, to add to the feeling of unnatural rawness. We’ll see how this looks when it’s done, it might even get a colour version if it’s polite to me.

See some of my current art on DeviantArt.

Help out my work on Patreon or Ko-fi.

“Cosmic Love” Art by a Friend

Today I just wanted to show this lovely, vivid sketch done by one of my Goodreads friends, inspired by one of my Cosmic Love haiku. If I’m not mistaken it was this one:

Cathedral ruins
On a granite pillar waits
Time-corrupting imp

Anyway, I thought this was amazing and was rather flattered that my brain-rambling poems could inspire someone. 🙂 You can check out more of Tom’s awesome drawings here.