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I enjoyed the Witcher

I don’t play video games any more. I used to love the old fantasy RPGs, especially the first Legend of Zelda, Heroes 3, and Myth 2.

But when I got back into music in 2007, I stopped playing video games altogether. Nothing against them. I just didn’t have time for both music and video games.

So, I didn’t know what the Witcher was until the TV show came out. I never read the books, but I heard the author is really cool and shows up to pop culture conventions.

I’m not one of those pop culture elitists. I’m not a snob. I just like what I like. The Witcher is a pretty good show.

I keep seeing it compared to Game of Thrones and that’s a really bad comparison. Apples and oranges. They’re both fantasy worlds. That’s where the similarities end.

The Witcher has a completely different mechanic. There are certain humanoid creatures that are created to be what they are. The Witcher is one of them. He’s made to be a Witcher.

And I also like how good and evil isn’t always predictable. You’ll see some characters change sides. I like that as it reflects real life.

Aesthetics

I’m an aesthetics guy. I’ve offended some people before because I put aesthetics above politics and people who obsess with politics get mad when I don’t play their game.

I’ve had female friends tell me that Henry Cavill is their main celebrity crush now because of the show. Good for him! I hated those Superman movies he was in. Saw them all and hated every single one.

But this series will salvage his career. He’s now primed to be the next James Bond. Will it happen? We’ll see.

There are a lot of boobs. No complaints from me. I love female nudity and honestly, wish that shows would have more of that and less graphic violence. I don’t like gore. When I watch a horror movie, I want my head played with, not my stomach.

Which leads to Anya Chalotra. She’s a babe. And she’s the perfect example of if you don’t have big boobs, lose the core fat. That makes her boobs “pop” and they look spectacular.

Several models I’ve worked with are exactly like that – very little core fat and not big boobs, but they really pop because of the lack of core fat. If you don’t know what I’m talking about and you’re a woman who’s interested in making that happen, talk to a personal trainer who also knows diet.

Other stuff about the Witcher

Alright. Some D&D people will hate me for this, but I’ll say it anyways. I don’t like Dwarves. They’re annoying. I didn’t like them in Lord of the Rings, in Dungeons and Dragons (I used to play AD&D v1 back in the 80s if you’re wondering), and I don’t like them in the Witcher.

Someone told me that in the books, Jaskier is closer friends with the Witcher. They have an awful relationship in the show. Not awful as in poorly done, but awful as in really dysfunctional.

In D&D, Bards are super powerful. In this show, they’re pretty annoying. Or at least Jaskier is. I would have thrown fruit at him as well.

Magic

One of my absolute favorite things about the show is how they use magic. You have to source it from somewhere or else you take it from your own body and a powerful spell will literally dissolve you.

I love that! It’s funny because I remember Gary Gygax mentioning this in the old AD&D rulebooks.

You actually see witches dissolve when sourcing powerful spells from their body.

I also like the concept of chaos. Yennefer has a great story line – a hideously ugly child, hated by her step-father, and sold to a witch. The whole attempted suicide to one of the most powerful people in the world story line is downright awesome.

The Witcher himself

Geralt, the Witcher, doesn’t say much. He talks when he has to.

He follows a strict code but he doesn’t always win. That’s where it gets interesting. He has quests he has to perform but unlike the fairy tales, he doesn’t always fulfill them.

I don’t want to give too much away but that’s how the writers get around the whole free will problem. Geralt doesn’t really have free will like you and me. But that’s not a guarantee that he can do what he’s supposed to do.

That will make absolutely no sense if you’ve never seen the show. After you’ve seen it, it will make perfect sense.

How good is it?

It’s not rated that highly by the critics. But you know what? Screw them!

I know it’s the in thing to be nihilistic, cynical, and hating everything. I thoroughly enjoy this show.

Aesthetically it looks really cool. The characters are neat. And the one thing that will throw you off at first is that not all characters age at the same rate (due to magic).

Humans age as humans. But not all the characters are humans. And wizards and witches also age much slower than normal humans.

So the show covers a few generations and at first, the timeline can throw you off. Just keep watching. It will make sense.

I loved it. Not too often you’ll see a fantasy show that doesn’t suck. We have Game of Thrones and we have The Witcher. My wife likes Lucifer but I haven’t seen it. I also haven’t seen the new Dark Crystal.

I’m usually too busy for television and will only make time to watch a few NFL games and one series every once in awhile.

So in the past few years, I’ve only watched all the Game of Thrones, season 1 of West World, this, season 1 of Stranger Things (season 2 was so bad that I quit it before I even got halfway done), all 3 seasons of Roman Empire (loved it!), and that’s it.

So far, this is my second favorite after Game of Thrones.

Oh one last thing – those eels? Middle management in the corporate world.

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Are we having fun or what?!

Opium Tales dragon riders

When was the last time you had genuine fun doing your art? When was the last time you looked at your art and started just laughing hysterically? I mean, not at it of course but with it?

This last piece, I couldn’t stop laughing. You have three distinct girls. The serious down to business one, the one who’s aloof, and the one who’s late to work and putting on her makeup while in a vehicle. Well, on a dragon.

I showed it to some friends and they laughed as well. Unfortunately, some girls do that and drive at the same time. A big no no. They could end up killing someone.

But on the back of a dragon? That’s totally OK.

We’re definitely going to work with Sophia again. She’s exactly what we look for in a pinup model. She has the personality, the attitude, and the body for it. She’s great to be around and she drinks whiskey, which in my book is a huge bonus. I may offend some folks here, but in my book, whiskey > everything else. Combined.

The other two girls? Allie and Allie. Allie in real life is a blonde. Since I see her at least once a week, I use her both for blondes and redheads. I’ve used Jin as a redhead before too.

I simply don’t have a true redhead model and honestly, red is my favorite hair color. Always has been and always will be. I even married a redhead.

Fun

I’ve also talked about beauty for beauty’s sake and how I don’t like cynicism. We live in very cynical times. You look around you and everyone looks like they’re either going to cry or blow their brains out.

So many zombies walking about. It’s just sad.

We’re all going to die. Yeah, I try to be healthy. Sure, I drink too much but everything else? I’m very healthy. Work out at the gym. Eat right.

That’s why fun is one of my artistic goals. My paintings are fun. They’re not so serious.

My music? Serious. Very serious.

Well, lyrically I’m having fun. But the music itself is very serious. Trying to do a modern version of Romantic era Classical music.

Need to live before we die

The meme has a woman assisting a dying man and desperately yelling to a professional looking man with a briefcase – “are you a doctor?”

The man in the briefcase says “yes. I have a PhD in Philosophy.”

The woman says “please help! This man is dying!”

The Philosophy guy says “but did he really live?”

Yes. It’s a silly meme. But how true is it really? Have you truly lived?

I can honestly say yes.

That doesn’t mean by any means I’m ready to die now. I still have decades more of living to go.

But I can honestly say that I’ve truly lived and you can see it in my art.

Serious exercise – you’re an artist or you’re training to be one. Or you wouldn’t be reading this article.

Have you really lived? If you can’t positively answer that with a straight face, then what do you need to do to change that?

I strongly believe that artists need to live. Truly live to create good art.

My favorites – Alphonse Mucha, the Pre-Raphaelites, Frank Frazetta, they all truly lived. And you can see it in their art.

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Have you ever questioned your artistic purpose?

Artists, writers, and other creative people – have you ever questioned your artistic purpose?

Why are you creating art or literature?

Now, it’s perfectly acceptable to say “I don’t know.” It’s also perfectly acceptable to say that you’re creating because your inner demons make you. You just let it all flow. That’s totally fine.

I’ve talked about artistic statements before and how important they are. If you’re planning on selling your art, it definitely helps to have one. For at least you’ll have a somewhat “elevator speech” when they start asking you all kinds of questions.

My purpose

I’ve pondered. I write the music out of love. But for my paintings, it’s something completely different.

Opium Tales Allie
Allie

I think the world today is too serious. Look around you. You’ll see a lack of something. You’ll see a lack of people really enjoying life.

They’re way too serious. Afraid of the world. Doom and gloom. They’re really living to get through life rather than to really live life.

Your average person walking downtown looks like they haven’t taken a good shit in weeks. And they also look like they don’t enjoy their jobs. Their family doesn’t like them. And they’re just going through the motions.

Why is this?

I think it’s twofold. You have a doom and gloom media. Doom and gloom sells. So that’s all they blast you with. All day long.

I turn off the news for weeks at a time. Most of it is meaningless drivel anyways. It’s always bad news because bad news sells. Imagine being bombarded by bad news all the time. Imagine what that would do to your psyche.

And the second? A lack of beauty.

That’s where I come in.

Beauty for beauty’s sake

My art aims for one thing and one thing only – beauty.

I got these two beautiful models that I work with on a regular basis and a few more models that I work with occasionally. They’re all beautiful. They all qualify to be my pinup models. I set high standards for beauty but also for personality. They have to be the right fit.

I create beauty. And I want my models to exude personality as I want to reflect it in my paintings.

Frank Frazetta did this very well. So did Gil Elvgren. And Olivia De Bernardinis. You get a little bit of personality with their beautiful paintings.

Beauty alone can make someone’s day significantly better. And better days mean more peace and less crime. I’m trying to do my part to make this world a better place.

Yes, seriously.

Opium Tales Roxy
Roxy

I don’t like cynicism

Cynicism is useless. It accomplishes nothing.

Sure, things don’t work off the bat most of the time. So, sit around and do nothing? That’s just stupid!

When I meet someone who’s cynical, they’re almost always lazy. They’ll tell you how something won’t work without even putting the effort needed to make it work.

This is most cynical people in a nutshell. They’ve bought into the doom and gloom media bullshit and they’re already defeated before they even put out the effort.

So, they expect you to feel the same way.

Well guess what? I don’t.

I’m living proof that you could have a great life starting from nothing. Yes, I started from nothing. I’m not going to go into my personal story that much because it’s personal. I’ll write an autobiography someday and publish it posthumously. I got too many demons that I’d rather the world didn’t know about.

So yes, my life didn’t exactly start off great.

But you know what? Fuck it. I’m going to live regardless. I’m not going to sit around and whine and feel sorry for myself. Rather, I’m going to create something beautiful. And I’m going to seek out beauty in this world because I’ve already seen there’s still plenty of it.

My music? It’s beautiful. My art? It’s beautiful.

I’ll also surround myself with people who aren’t cynical. Rather, people who are full of life. Who want to live. Who want to get the most out of life.

And that, my dear reader, is my artistic purpose.

What is yours?

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There is no negative correlation between beauty and intelligence

Opium Tales Allie and Roxy

This, my friends, is something that actually gets under my skin. We have a media that loves to play to people’s insecurities, and loves to bring down those who have it, whatever it is.

Jealousy, I can assure you, is a pathetic trait. It serves no purpose and accomplishes absolutely nothing. Jealousy is especially poisonous if you’re any type of artist. All it does is burn bridges. And you want bridges open, especially in a highly competitive industry like yours and mine.

Today’s media loves to promote a negative correlation between beauty and intelligence. They love to portray beautiful people as stupid.

You know what? That’s all lies. Beautiful people on average are actually smarter than average as there are genetic reasons for human preferences.

I’m married now but if I were young and single, I’d be looking for a smart woman because I want smart kids. And I’d be looking for a beautiful woman because I want beautiful kids.

I had absolutely no problem finding both qualities in the same woman. So many examples in real life of smart, beautiful women. I had a lot of opportunity. And I got one.

Why are they doing this?

There are two types of people who love to promote this myth. And you guessed it – one from each gender.

You got men who are bitter towards women. Yes, you can use the word misogynistic if you’d prefer. And you’d be correct. They are bitter for whatever reasons. A horrible relationship with their mothers. Bad luck with women. Whatever the cause.

So, rather than look inside and see what they could improve, they blame women. And make statements like if she’s beautiful, she must be stupid.

Then, you got the women who hate other women. Yes, I’ve met plenty of these in my lifetime. In fact, I’d argue that there’s more misogyny amongst women than there is amongst men. But I could save that for a later post. Let’s not go off on a tangent here.

You got women who are short in the looks department. So rather than do the work required to improve, they make statements that beautiful women are stupid.

Allie and Roxy are both above average in intelligence

Now, I’m not saying this because they’re my buds. But it’s true. Allie and Roxy are both above average in intelligence. They just happen to both be beautiful.

My wife too is both beautiful and intelligent. Does she get shit for it? Of course she does!

It amazes me how insecure others are. Rather than trying to raise their own value, they’d rather cut others down.

I don’t get it. I’m far from perfect. But, I’m always trying to get better.

Whatever my flaws, I either accept them or work on improving them. The last thing you’ll see me do is try to bring someone else down because they’re better at something than me. That’s just dumb. If anything, I’d want to hire them to teach me how to improve that area.

So yes, I’d go far as saying that the average beautiful woman is actually smarter than average.

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Fantasy inspirations are unlimited

Are you a fantasy artist or a fantasy writer? And you’re wondering what to do next? You’re trying to write or paint but drawing a blank?

Well, worry no more. Bookmark this article and you’ll never run out of ideas again.

Characters

First, let’s talk characters. You have your lead character and your secondary characters. Are they human? What about the secondary characters? They don’t have to be human as well. They could be a humanoid race like elves, fairies, dwarves, goblins, orcs, ogres, genies, pixies, mermaids, giants, trolls, or even Gods, Goddesses, or Demi-Gods. Or the son or daughter of a God or Goddess.

Heck, they don’t even need to be humanoid. They could be dragons, unicorns, or even talking animals or familiars. Keep in mind that certain creatures can take forms of humans. I’ve even painted selkies before.

Quests

Now that you have your main character and characters, you need a reason for the story. What are they doing?

A common theme I’ve seen recently is a “bad creature” trying to be good and fit in with society. For instance, an ogre who’s now a good cop. Or an orc detective.

Sometimes, a race splits and you have to correct it. Like a race of elves goes totally evil and you need to rein them in.

Or, the old rescue mission. Rescue the princess from a dragon sacrifice? There’s been plenty of that in the old days. Why not do it again?

I know my son likes that Goblin Slayer cartoon. That’s a great one. People think goblins are easy. Until, they try to do it themselves. I could come up with three or four similar themes immediately.

Rescuing a thing. Or else. Something if not discovered in time will blow up a city. Some powerful artifact might fall into the wrong hands.

A bad guy needs to be reasoned with. Or slain. Something really big is at stake.

Settings

This is easy. You’re creating a fantasy world.

Simply take settings we have here. And exaggerate them.

The seas. The forests. The deserts. Mountains. Hills. Caves.

I’ve recently ventured into Sci-Fi territory. Except using Ancient Greek Goddesses. Why not?

The only limits in a fantasy world you have are the ones you give yourself. You’re literally allowed to do anything in the fantasy realm. That’s why it’s called fantasy. Your fantasy world gets to break all our earthly rules.

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Similar poses for the win

Every morning, I do a quick five minute sketch. This is one of the best things an artist could possibly do to improve his or her technique.

You get good at drawing at a decent pace. The timer is brutal. As it should be. No forgiveness. No mercy.

You get good at managing your time with the pencil. You simply learn to not waste time.

This ends up applying to other things as well. You’ll notice you’ll find your more efficient at other aspects of your life.

Gratitude

But, I also want to mention, I also start off mornings with gratitude. I say what I’m thankful for.

And this morning? Allie.

Allie is a rock. She’s very reliable. Very responsible.

If you haven’t been reading this blog, long story short, I’m married with an adult son. But I have two models that I use regularly. Allie is the blonde and Roxy is the brunette.

I see Allie more than twice as much as Roxy though. Allie is way more reliable.

Similar poses

Anyways, every week, we look for poses. And sometimes, we’ll do a similar pose.

Yes, I’m a fantasy pinup artist. But lately, I’ve been doing a lot of space themed ones. Coming up, I’m working on a larger painting called Selene’s Rangerettes – Defenders of the Moon.

Sounds cheesy? It’s supposed to. It’s an homage to that old sci-fi except this time, with the women naked. Because I’m a pinup artist first. Every once in awhile, I’ll do something outside of the fantasy realm.

Selene is the Ancient Greek Moon Goddess. I’ve painted Allie modeling for Selene several times now.

Selene Greek Moon Goddess
First time painting Selene
Second time painting Selene
Second time painting Selene

So I painted those two similar poses. And you know what? I’m getting more and more comfortable with those poses.

Try it! Hopefully you have a reliable model you can work with.

Not gonna stop

After I did that last one, I did the one listed in my latest blog post about how technique is more important than the tools you’re using. And now I’m doing yet another one – that Selene’s Rangerettes.

When it comes to ideas, why not take something old and make something new out of it? Do you think the Greek Gods and Goddesses still do all the same stuff they did 500 years BC?

I’m doing Selene’s minions with rockets and laser guns. Because, why not?

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Making the Greek Gods cool again

I don’t like talking about politics and religion, but I’ve noticed that Western art and Western culture are severely lacking in schools nowadays. If it weren’t for Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I don’t think most kids would even know about the Greek Gods and Goddesses.

However, I don’t bitch. If I see a problem, I either do something about it (if it’s important) or ignore it (if it’s not important).

In this case, I’ll do something about it.

I started painting Greek Goddesses awhile back. Not the major ones, but more the lesser ones that nobody’s heard of. Like Brizo, the Ancient Greek Goddess of Sailors and Fishermen.

I’ll even give a background story about the Goddess. For instance, women on the island of Delos left offerings to a creature they called Brizo for good luck, so their husbands, sons, and other family members came home safely.

Ancient Goddess Brizo
Greek Goddess Brizo painted on wood

This creature morphed into a lesser Goddess. Brizo became the Goddess of Sailors and Fishermen for the Ancient Greeks.

More recently

I’ve talked about the importance of painting the same painting twice. For Selene, I’ll paint her a bunch of times since I really like the poses I’m getting with Allie. She’ll be posing for me later on today, but here’s the second one already.

Ancient Greek Goddess Selene
Selene

Selene is the Moon Goddess. She’s the daughter of Titans, the Gods before the Gods.

Selene’s had flings with both Zeus and Pan, but her most famous fling is actually with a mortal. One day, she gazed down on Earth and saw a young shepherd that she fell in lust with named Endymion. She ended up begging Zeus to extend his life and she bore him at least 50 daughters, all of whom grew into beautiful women.

Different accounts differ on some of her other children. Some say that the infamous Narcissus was her son. I leave it up to the viewer to believe which accounts they want to believe.

Fun

I take artistic mindset very seriously. If you’re not having fun with your art, you’re going to quit. You could tell I’m having a blast. You can see it in my paintings.

Find something that you’re passionate about and paint it. I’m quite passionate about Greek mythology and high fantasy. I mix them both into my pinup art.

I aim for fun over high art. My music is high art. My painting? Fun. It’s pretty obvious. I don’t claim to do high art in my paintings. Rather, I’m a pop artist.

I’d love to be famous though. Actually have an influence over culture. And one thing I’d do? I’d make the Greek Gods and Goddesses cool again!

The Olympians and Hades

The Greek Gods overthrew the Titans, who overthrew the previous Titans. Long story. But at the very least, Zeus is the King of the Gods.

He is married to Hera, his sister, of whom he cheats every chance he gets. Zeus is the God of the Sky and Thunder. You’ll often see him throwing a lightning bolt.

Poseidon is God of the Seas and the brother of Zeus. He’s also the God of Storms, Earthquakes, and Horses. What do horses have to do with anything? Who knows? But you’ll sometimes see Poseidon riding a chariot pulled by a hippocampus.

Hades does not live on top of Mount Olympus, although I still have to mention him as he’s one of the most powerful of Gods. He is the oldest of the three brothers (Zeus and Poseidon) and together, they overthrew their father, the Titan Cronus.

Hades lives in the Underworld, often also called Hades. Hades got the Underworld, Zeus got the Skies, and Poseidon got the Seas when they overthrew the Titans.

Let’s revisit Hera. She’s the most powerful Goddess and the Queen of Olympus. She’s the Goddess of women, marriage, and childbirth.

Yes, the Ancient Greeks believed that the Gods and Goddesses lived on top of Mount Olympus. (And if you’re wondering, Mt. Olympus wasn’t successfully scaled until 1913).

Demeter is the Goddess of the Harvest and Agriculture as well as fertility and the sacred law.

The city of Athens is named after Athena. She’s the Goddess of War and Wisdom.

Apollo is supposed to be the best looking of the Gods. He also has the most titles. He’s the God of everything from Sun, Light, Oracles to Music and Knowledge.

Aphrodite is someone I paint a lot. Why? Well she’s the Goddess of Beauty. She also gets Love and Sexuality and is the most beautiful of all the Goddesses. So of course the other Goddesses are envious of her and they made her marry the ugliest of the Gods.

Artemis is the Goddess of the Hunt, Wilderness, and Wild Animals.

Ares is the God of War. “But I thought you just said Athena is the Goddess of War.” Yeah, Greek mythology is inconsistent. You’ll see a lot of overlap. You’ll also see that different areas favored different Gods and Goddesses. There’s a lot of inconsistencies. Just bear with me.

Hephaestus is the ugliest of the Gods and is married to Aphrodite. He’s the God of Blacksmiths and pretty much everything related to tools and crafts. He’s even the God of Volcanoes.

Hermes is known as the Messenger of the Gods and deals with everything from Trade to Thievery.

Hestia is the Goddess of the Hearth, and is a virgin Goddess.

And last, we have Dionysus, the God of Wine.

Under the Gods, we have all kinds of various creatures. The ones I’m most intrigued by are the Nymphs.

And last we have the Fates, which whatever they decide is what happens, whether the Gods like it or not.

This is a very brief summary of the Greek Gods and Goddesses. I left out all the Minor Gods and Goddesses, the Titans, the Demi-Gods, and human heroes and legends. I also left out the monsters.

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Artists are like Lesser Gods

Artists are like Lesser Gods, creating worlds that peoples will remember hundreds of years after the artist’s death. How many little girls have spent years in the worlds of Tchaikovsky? In the Nutcracker or Swan Lake?

How many smart high school kids got stoned and talked about visiting Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights? Or Boris Vallejo’s fantasy worlds? Or my favorite 20th century artist – Frank Frazetta. He created so many beautiful but dangerous worlds in his lifetime.

Heck, look at Luis Ricardo Folero’s works. I borrowed a lot from him.

Long after the artist dies, his legacy survives. Some for hundreds of years. The greatest ones longer. Imagine how long we’ll still study Leonardo and Michelangelo.

This was meant to inspire you, not just to create, but to create worlds. Memorable worlds.

Muses

How many muses will be remembered hundreds of years after your death? And do you ever wonder if all the stories of the Ancient Greeks were modeled off of real people?

Lizzie Siddal was the muse for several of the original Pre-Raphaelites. I even wrote an orchestrated piece inspired by her death.

Will I ever get famous? And will they remember Allie or Roxy? Or both?

Opium Tales Roxy
Roxy done earlier today with a Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Point Pen over a pencil sketch

Keep all this in mind when you create. Are you painting for fun? Or, are you painting for a legacy?

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I’ll let you in on a secret

I’m going to let you in on a secret. I don’t know what I’m doing half the time.

Actually, half the time? Heh. That’s generous. Most of the time.

And I’m not talking about watercolors. I’m talking about life.

The thing is, neither does anyone else. We’re all just winging it.

Life doesn’t come with a handbook. You don’t get a set of directions to tell you to do this, then do this. And now? Do this.

You’re on your own.

And you know what? That’s OK.

Inner voice

You know that inner voice that talks to you? Some of us even talk back to it and have a two way conversation with it.

Well, mine used to be a complete asshole. It used to say things that you’d say to your worst enemy. And it will also fill me with doubt. I’d be scared to try something new because of that inner voice.

Well, I retrained mine. Mine is now a coach. And a friend.

It took years. We’re all at varying levels of functionality and dysfunctionality. I don’t think anyone’s 100% sane nowadays.

But once again, that’s OK.

Training my inner voice to be supportive was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. Now, rather than making fun of everything I do, it tells me how I can do it. Like a coach. But, a real good coach. Like a Vince Lombardi or Phil Jackson.

Our brains are rewireable. We can literally program them to be good at the things we need to be good at.

Persistence, Habits, and Repetition

Everything becomes a habit. Habits don’t have to be a bad thing. For instance, I do a 5 minute sketch every single morning. That’s a habit. Once you start replacing bad habits with good habits, your life will get so much easier.

I changed my diet too. I only eat twice a day rather than three times a day. No snacking whatsoever. Someone brings donuts into work? No thanks. I’ll pass. I’ll only eat birthday cake if I really, really like the person. Otherwise, no thanks. I’ll pass.

Once you start developing good habits, you can literally be good at anything. I’m pretty good at guitar because I practiced at least an hour daily. When I was a late teen, all my other friends wanted to get drunk on weekends. Instead, I practiced guitar. Then, they wonder why I passed them all up within a year.

Everyone thought it was natural talent. Nope. Persistence and discipline.

We improve by developing skill sets

What would you say if I asked you “what are you good at?” Would you be able to give me a list?

Over the years, I’ve developed some life skill sets and got good at the important ones. I learned nutrition from a coach, weightlifting from a coach, home finance from self-help books, guitar from jamming with friends, and piano from a piano teacher. I got good at all those things.

You can learn from other people. Or books. Or nowadays, even YouTube.

When Allie approached me about taking my art seriously, I started off with colored pencils. I started watching people painting on YouTube. Oils and acrylics looked really cool. However, I live in a tiny ass apartment. I thought watercolors would be more practical. Thus, I decided to try watercolors and been in love with them ever since.

Selene Greek Moon Goddess
Allie posed for my Selene Gazing Upon Endymion painting

Life gets way easier once you have some skill sets

Life gets significantly easier once you’ve acquired some skill sets. I put health at the top, relationships second, and finances third. Once you get good at all three, you’ll have a pretty good life. Guaranteed.

I had to learn all that stuff on my own. Like I said above, I hired coaches for health. I learned about healthy relationships by watching functional people. You get treated by how much you allow. For instance, if someone treats you like shit, did you cut them out of your life? If not, why haven’t you already?

This isn’t a finance blog so I’m not going to waste time here, other than I learned that if you live within your means and put 10% of everything you make into your investments, you’ll be doing pretty well within a decade.

“But I want it now!”

Grow up. Life doesn’t work like that. You have to work for it.

I use finance as an example for that mindset because it’s the most obvious. That said, you can apply that to everything.

If you want to be a great artist, you’re not going to be selling a million dollar paintings in one year. You’re going to be busting your ass for at least a decade.

I’ve been drawing daily for almost a decade now. I’ve been playing guitar for over thirty years and piano on and off during that time.

And that doesn’t include drawing and doodling for decades before that. I used to make silly cartoons for friends of stupid shit we did. They’d laugh.

So the art was always there. I only decided to take it seriously this decade.

Keep going

So keep going. Develop the skill sets you need for what you want to accomplish.

We’re all just winging it in life anyways. If you’re actually good at the important things, you’ll do well in life. And that will significantly help your art by allowing you to focus on art rather than the world falling down around you.

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Life is teamwork

When was the last time you expressed gratitude towards another person?

I’m grateful I have a supportive wife, who’s also my number one fan and number one critic. I’m grateful I have a son that’s in his mid-20s and is completely independent.

I also think, where would I be today if Allie never approached me about replacing my former model? Then after Allie did, Roxy did. So, I was in a rut, and suddenly, I have two beautiful young ladies modeling and inspiring me to paint.

And musically, I’m by no means doing this alone. Last month, we finally released Opium Tales Volume I. It took forever. Everything went wrong. I lost musicians. Gained musicians. Musicians got sick. I had a musician get stabbed and miss a recording session. Yes, he’s fine now, but was quite a scare.

My voice is not good. I can sing on time and on key. However, my tonal qualities are terrible.

Thus, I only sing harmony vocals. Instead, you get to hear two lovely ladies sing on the three songs that have vocals. Two are instrumental.

We practically have an army of musicians. You’re hearing three different bass guitar players, tons of string players, me playing all the electric and acoustic guitars, piano, and synthesizers.

We also have a small army of sound engineers. Randy Burk is the lead one. He also plays all the drums and percussion.

You are not alone

Now, this is probably way more than you care about. But that’s not the point.

You have friends with talent. You may even have some talented family members. Have you ever considered working with them?

This may surprise you. I struggle with language. I’m not that good of a reader. I like reading Harry Potter books because that’s about the level I’m at. Yes, seriously.

My math skills are off the charts. But reading? I’m not that good.

All these smart friends of mine tell me “Roman, you need to read such and such book. It’s a classic!”

And I pick it up and struggle through the first ten pages.

I couldn’t finish Les Miserables. I got about twenty pages in before giving up. Yes, there are kids who can read better than I can.

So those lyrics I wrote? Took me forever.

Don’t get me wrong. I do think they’re good. They just took forever for me to write them.

Ask for help

Now, you know what I’m really good at? People. Yes, people.

I’m a people person. Always have been and always will be.

One of the few extroverts left. I strongly think too much phone usage has killed people’s social skills. You see it everywhere. You ride the train and everyone’s on their phone. I remember back in the days when people had these things called “conversations with strangers.” A thing of the past. Unless the stranger is over 60.

Anyways, next release, I won’t be writing any of the words. The vocal lines, yes. But the actual lyrics?

I asked friends for help. And they’ve responded.

People like to help. But, most people are afraid to ask.

The thing is, don’t be one of those assholes who asks for help, then doesn’t appreciate it. You do that and nobody will want to help you.

Appreciation

So, simply show some appreciation. It’s not that hard.

I remember a week ago, I held two doors open for some bitch on the phone and she didn’t even look up. Didn’t acknowledge I was standing there, holding the doors open for her lazy ass. She just kept her eyes glued to the phone. No thanks. No smile. No nod. No nothing.

Now, that’s someone I won’t be inviting over to my next BBQ or cocktail party.

I always show appreciation for those who have helped me. Always. No matter how small it may seem to them.

And yes, I’ve done pretty well in life. But it wasn’t at all without help.

In my late 20s, I didn’t know what a 401k or an IRA or a stock purchase plan was. I just started working at a corporation after doing manual labor, waiting tables, and delivering pizza for years. Suddenly, I realized I needed to make more money because my future wife and I had a surprise baby. As you know, babies cost money.

So, I had to change my path. I went the corporate route. And I didn’t know what to do with my salary.

You may laugh. But seriously, I didn’t know.

Some older guy with a house told me all about 401k’s, IRAs, stock purchase plans, and saving a downpayment for a house. I literally didn’t know any of that.

And I don’t even remember his name. It was so long ago.

Thanks

So give thanks when appropriate. Of course I thanked the guy and offered to buy him dinner. He laughed and said it’s nothing. But you know what? It’s not nothing. My wife and I have now been to Europe three times, the Caribbean three times, and South America. We’re going to do a Panama Canal cruise in January.

It’s not nothing. It literally changed my life.

And if Allie never approached me about replacing my former model, I would never be an artist today. I’d still do my music. But I wouldn’t paint.

I used to do photography and dabble in drawing. That’s it. My former model, bless her heart, had a nervous breakdown and got fat, then of course stopped modeling. I wish her best. I’m really hoping her new boyfriend and her get married and do well. It’s going to be a struggle though.

So thank you Allie. Thank you Roxy. Thank you wife. Thank you Randy. And all the string players, other session musicians, woodwind players, brass players, sound engineers, and my future lyricists. Thank you Sarah and Liel for your lovely vocals.

Life really is a team sport. We need each other.

And thank you reader for reading all this. It’s therapeutic to get it off my chest.

Now it’s your turn. Think of someone in your life that has helped you. And tell them what they did for you and how much you appreciate it.