The Makings Of Monsters

Lately I’ve been making a series of digital paintings about monsters—for a loose-ish definition of series, and monsters, anyways.

They’re all monochrome, square, digital, and contain weird creatures, at least. Which color the painting is based around varies each time. I’m gradually going around the color wheel.

Whether they really deserve the term “monsters,” however, is a different question. Just because it’s strange, or staaaaaaring at you, or has too many teeth, do those things make a monster?

I’m not so sure. That probably-not-a-deer especially, seems to just be reading. Nothing monstrous about that.

But monster stories aren’t really about the monsters, they’re about the things we’re afraid of. Spiders, the unknown, death, familiar things becoming strange and dangerous.

I should make a painting about something moving that shouldn’t, like scarecrows. That’s one of my big fears.


The Color Of A Soul

My soul
Is not the silver-white
Of moonlight on snow
Or the deep, vibrant red
Of blood and power.
It is not the soft orange
Of an early sunrise
Nor the brilliant gold
Of autumn leaves
It isn’t pink, or green,
Or turquoise, or any
Of the bright colors
I adore.
My soul is inky indigo
Like crisp new jeans
Like deep ocean water
Like the spaces between stars
On a cloudless night.
I wonder what that says
About me.

Letters To Who I Used To Be

The stories make you
Feel alive.
That’s good, but
Spend more time outside.
Bring a book, if you must.
You’ll need every ounce of sunlight.

Don’t return their vicious words.
Forgiveness comes with time.
Until then,
Stay kind.
They’re just as young as you are.

Alone isn’t bad.
You’ll find your people.
When you do,
Hold tight to them.

When your mind goes dark
And your heart goes numb
And you lose your wonder,
Ask for help.
There’s no shame in it.

Scribble out
A piece of paper—
You know you want to.
Turn the whole thing black with ink.


It’s not
About the grades.
It’s about the experience,
What you learn from it.
Life will never be easy.
Don’t expect to be perfect.

You don’t have to be a scientist
To love the way the world works.
There’s poetry
In every star and mollusk.

Find what makes you happy.
Write it.

God doesn’t hate you.
Not even for that.

Your parents don’t have
Some plan for who you’ll be,
They just
Want you happy.
Hide the bits of yourself
You think they won’t like.

Make your music.
It’s not about being the best,
It’s about the joy.

Find what makes you lonely.
Draw it.

Lose your words
In the colors and shapes
And make something,
Little dreamer.

People are complicated.
You won’t
Understand anyone,
Not completely.
Not even yourself.

People leave.
Let them go.
Talk to new people,
If you don’t think you know how.
(People love to talk about themselves,
So give someone an audience.)

Hug whenever possible.
And, you know,
Socially acceptable.

Find what makes you laugh.
Dance it.

Humor comes
From subverted expectation.

Pick up a Copic book
Or ten.
Who cares
If it’s for “smart kids”
Or not?

Find what makes you angry,
Go for a run.

Cut out what you don’t need.
You won’t miss the length
If you cut your hair short.

Making your thoughts into words
Is hard,
I know.
Will always be lost in translation.
Speak anyway.

You are so, so loved
As you are.

Reflections of Infinity

You. You’ve always existed,

in some way or other.

Older than time itself,

that’s you.

The bones that carry you,

the skin you wear,

these are new.

Even without them,

the experience they brought,

you were still you.

Like a snowball


down a hill,

acquiring mass;

like a sapling

putting forth new roots and branches,

you grew, yet

your core was the same.

Child of Eternity,

stardust in your eyes,

do you see that core?

Have you any idea

how beautiful

you are?

You are

the past behind you,

the road before you,

the choices you make,

the tales you tell,


you are infinitely more.

The threat of the blank page

Recently I was gifted a Very Large sketchbook. (Pictured above, with water bottle for scale.) Seriously, this thing is Truly Massive, weighing in at about seven pounds. It outweighs a hardback Brandon Sanderson book.

When I saw it, I squealed, hugged it for several minutes….and proceeded not to draw in it for a month.

A blank page, an empty canvas, a newly made word doc, or a brand new sketchbook— these things give me a mix of delight and fear. Delight, because there are so many possibilities, so many different ways for me to fill that emptiness. Fear, for the same reason. There are so many different ways I could use this—but what if I pick the wrong one?

I don’t think I’m the only person with this issue. I can think of at least two people in my life who collect new notebooks, and hardly ever use them, and I only know a tiny fraction of a percent of the billions of people on Earth.

In my case, the fear is a result of perfectionism. I may know, intellectually, that doing everything right all the time is Not Going To Happen, but convincing my anxious brain to actually believe it is a different story. I can’t make mistakes if I stay inside all the time and do nothing, right? Wrong, and also not a very happy way of living life.

In the case of things like art or poetry or journal writing, there is no “right” way to do it anyway. There’s just a bunch of different ways people have done it, and the ideas I have for doing it. Some of those ideas may work better than others, but that doesn’t make the others wrong.

I’ve been working on accepting that fact, rather than letting fear paralyze me when I try to be creative. It’s still a work in progress. But today, I filled the first page of my Massive Sketchbook, which I have named Goliath.