Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Life back east....

I have wanted to write a blog post about our move back east for sometime. A sweeping, long narrative detailing all of the changes and unexpected surprises--but it's still a lot to take in.

And it's not a lot of bad to take in, far from it. It's a lot of good. A lot of time with family and dear friends. Going to the grocery store and casually running into some of my best friends in the aisles is something I never realized I had missed until it began happening again.

Small, spectacular things I'd overlooked. Complicated, strange intersections between state lines (I'm not using a metaphor here, I'm talking about an intersection in Pawcatuck, CT or Westerly, RI, depending on who you're arguing with) where everyone slows down to navigate it through taking turns and simple waves.

(They also slam into a dead stop on exits rather than merging safely though, so it's not all Mayberry and maple syrup).

We've been spending our time connecting with friends and family, and trying to find a new routine for ourselves. Everything was turned upside down; daily rituals, nightly habits, favorite restaurants suddenly 3,000 miles away. Our home sold halfway through May. It was a bittersweet triumph, freeing us from the financial struggles we'd faced for the last year and a half by basically tearing everything we had to the ground to start over again. Some days we feel the relief. Some days we feel the loss. Some days we don't really think about it at all, we just move forward. There's not a lot of time to sit around feeling sorry for yourself when there's unpacking to do.


Plus, this guy keeps us busy.

Luke and I flew out to Rhode Island on May 6th. Ryan left the same day, in our car with the cats. For two people who love each other dearly, we sure do end up on opposite sides of the country a lot. Waiting for Ryan was hard, I worried the whole time that something could go wrong. When we made the trip together four years ago, it was an exciting adventure. We had the great unknown ahead of us, two crazy people in love, ready to take on anything, nothing to lose.

This time we had lost a job, a plan, and a house. (Not that we lost the house, we sold the house, but it still was not what we wanted). We have a son who depends on us, we depend on each other. From going off to work to caring for our son to taking out the trash to doing the dishes to kisses goodnight, we make it all happen together. Driving out of our garage for the last time together, knowing we would never enter our first house again, going to the airport to say goodbye to each other was rough. Luke and I to the plane, Ryan and the boys to the car. Being apart at such a hard time would have been difficult anyway, but the thousands of miles between our little family created a very real ache. Those few days in May I would put Luke down for the night, chat with relatives, go up to bed, and just type the towns Ryan had reached into my phone's navigation app for a couple of hours. Mapping the two dots we'd become, one racing, one waiting. I waited for texts with the anxiety of a sailor's wife pacing the widows deck. Of course--Ryan was never in any danger. However, that did not stop my mind from randomly picturing the car falling off the side of a mountain and bursting into flames about 300 times a day.

With that sound Goofy makes while skiing or tripping down stairs.

You know the sound.

Thankfully, Ryan made the trip in about 70 hours, knocking on the door Friday afternoon hours ahead of when I expected him. I may never have been happier to see someone.

Luke may never have been happier to see someone too....

A few someones....


It took us about a month to find an apartment, during which time we stayed with Ryan's Aunt Joanie. When we finally found a place, it was unexpectedly delightful. Neither of us had hoped for much in a new apartment, beyond "clean and safe." What we found was the top floor of a painted Victorian that used to be the servant's quarters. (I'm pretty sure... I'm very sure. There is a narrow set of stairs and a beautiful, sunny little kitchen, and so naturally I'm ready to stream the entire series of 'Upstairs, Downstairs.') We moved in the second week of June and have been unpacking ever since.

Moving is very much like Tetris. You arrange all of the boxes until you can eliminate another row and clear some space.

Ryan and Luke checking out the new apartment.

Just as we were moving into the new place, two of my best friends--Preston and Tim--came into town for a visit. This was great timing, because not only were they able to help us move....

Poor basset hounds.
(We're all trying to swear less around Luke).

But they were also able to sort of bridge the gap between "Was Seattle just a weird fever dream I had?" and "I've missed driving these Rhode Island roads so long, is this real life?"

"Tell us about it, Janet."

In fact, as fate would have it, Preston found himself needing to move back to RI too. And so almost two months to the day from when my husband drove across the country, my best friend drove across the country, and I'll be taking August off from compulsively imagining loved ones driving off mountains, thanks.

That about brings us to now. Many of our boxes are unpacked and the rooms in the apartment are becoming more like "rooms" and less like "cardboard forts" every day. The living room, bathroom, kitchen, and Luke's room are all finished. Our bedroom and our shared office space are all that are left to organize.

The boys settling in.

Luke and Ryan on a sunny weekend morning.

Father's Day.

Lupin trying out the new area rug's "napacity." 

In the meantime the comic I began back in March... March? April? Somewhere around there... BREAKING CAT NEWS, has begun to get its own following! I'm delighted to have some regular readers, and there have even been a few write ups about the comic. Like this one, and this one.

When I first drew a couple of these strips for friends, I kept joking that it was not going to become another webcomic. Swan Eaters is already on a hiatus because I've been so strapped for time since becoming a Mom. (A hiatus on a cliffhanger, nonetheless). The last thing I thought I wanted was to start a brand new webcomic. However, like so many unplanned happenings in life, it turned out to be just what I needed. During the day I take care of Luke, and in the evenings I write and paint the comic. Everyone's kind words and support have carried me through this crazy transition during our big move. It feels so good to write something that is making people happy. We're all sort of in on the jokes together, and it feels really nice. It has been a welcome distraction to try and challenge myself to writing two punchlines a week. I hope that it's as much fun to read as it is to write. Thank you to everyone who has been tuning in!


Lupin thanks you too!

A couple of weekends ago I had a chance to sell my prints at an outdoor art gathering in Providence, RI. It was a great day. Friends and family came together to lend a hand, packaging prints, setting up displays manning the table,... It was a good feeling. Luke came with us, and Gracie and I paused to remember when we would accompany Dad to his outdoor art festivals. I hope to do more of them.

Story of an art fair in 9 photos. 1. Auntie Gray and angry Luke celebrate America. 2. Preston and Ryan get cozy. 3. The local toughs. 4. Luke and I man the table. 5. More local toughs! 6. My Two Dads 7. Daddy puts sunblock on Luke. 8. Auntie Gray and Luke man the table. 9. All tuckered out....

Luke and I manning the table.

Everything is still kind of uncertain right now. Ryan has started a new job, working as a technical writer. We're feathering our new nest and enjoying a reprieve from stress and worrying about finances. Luke is learning new things every day and benefiting tremendously from quality time with our family. The boys have adjusted marvelously, and are appreciating 360 degree views of birds and trees and sunsets from the new apartment's high windows. Ryan and I are both working on projects in the evening, after Luke has been fed and bathed and is sleeping soundly. Comics and paintings for me, game design and art for Ryan. Where this will lead us, whether back to the gaming industry or elsewhere, is still up in the air. For the time being though, we're feeling good about where were are. And much more: who we are surrounded by. When life gets challenging, it's tough to beat the support that comes from family. They love you like no one else can.




Saturday, April 12, 2014

Greek Amazon Warrior Wonder Woman

Recently I was commissioned to paint “my interpretation of Wonder Woman.” Wow, I thought, 1. Why haven’t I done that yet? 2. What is my interpretation of Wonder Woman?


I love history, especially ancient Greece and its legends. Immediately, I wanted Wonder Woman dressed as a classic Greek Warrior; armor, shield, shin braces, cape, helmet, the works. Since she is an Amazon princess, I decided to add some wild feathers, braids, and beads. To complete her overall “Legend of Greece” feel I gave her a lean, toned “Spartan” build.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Wonder Woman’s usual “girl at the beach in an 80s swimsuit” look too, but I didn’t want to paint that. I wanted to paint an epic warrior princess of myth and legend. I wanted to paint someone would could run with Superman or Hercules, depending on the circumstances. 

And so here she is, my interpretation of Wonder Woman. Thank you to Kerry, who commissioned this, a thousand times!











New web comic! BREAKING CAT NEWS!

A few weeks ago I accidentally started a web comic. I say accidentally because it grew from some jokes I made on Twitter, and then suddenly I was drawing and sharing it while promising it was not going to become a thing.

Friends and family immediately began sharing and retweeting it, and from the response I knew right away that it was definitely going to become a thing. And so, I drew some more strips, snagged a domain name, and BREAKING CAT NEWS was born!





The premise is simple: Our cats fancy themselves to be news reporters and run a news show out of our home, breaking headlines on stories only cats would find important. It stars our actual cats Elvis, Puck, and Lupin.
My God, just look at those good boys.

I have been trying to update it on Mondays and Thursdays! I hope you'll tune in. :)




Spring update: Big changes!

Wow, how have I not posted an entry since January? It may have a lot to do with...

This guy.

Does anyone know if I can be fined for bringing a tiger into Home Depot?

Life has been kinda crazy lately. I spend my days looking after this amazing little fellow, and nap times and nights frantically playing catch up on commissions, comics, and projects. Added to that schedule are some big life decisions which are happening fast and furious....

The past three months have been bananas, so I am going to share everything new as a list.

1. We are selling our home.
2. We are moving back east.
3. I accidentally started a new web comic.
4. I have some projects in the works that I am very excited for.

Some predictable questions I will quickly field:

1. Why are you selling your home and moving back east?
We've had a difficult year and a half financially. My husband was laid off when NCSoft decided to close their American offices, and things have been tough since. He went into work one day and they sent everyone home. That was it, no warning, no notice. It came weeks after we purchased our home when I was six months pregnant. I didn't write about it too much because--and this is hard to admit--I kept feeling like it was going to blow over.

For 16 months.

I kept thinking, "When we have good news to share, I will tell the whole story." It hasn't come yet, and so instead, now I'm inviting you to follow the next leg of our adventures as we try to figure things out in an economy that has not been kind.

The fact that this happened so soon after we bought our first home has been especially hard. We have taken some gambles and risks in the past, but this was one of the times we played it safe. That has been hard to reconcile with... you know...logic? It almost felt like a punishment for making a safe move--I know it's not, of course, but it felt like that at the time all the same.

Before we felt it was safe to have a child and buy a house Ryan and I waited until we got married, he been in a full time position for a while, we had built up our savings, and had health insurance. And despite all the careful planning, it all turned on a dime. Suddenly there I was, weeks before Christmas, pregnant in a new home we had no way to pay for. Do you know what it's like watching "It's a Wonderful Life" under those circumstances? Let me spoil it for you: It's rough.

"I wish I had a million dollars!"
Cue pregnant woman ugly crying on a couch.

(...To be fair, I can't make it through "It's a Wonderful Life" without ugly crying in a good year).

I shared this in my New Year's post, but I'm sharing it again here. I wrote last May when the hospital bill for Luke's birth came in:

"We waited to have a baby until we had good health coverage. We waited to buy a house until Ryan got promoted. And then one day in December, without notice, Ryan's entire office just closes.

So, don't plan stuff out folks. You just can't pretend you can predict tomorrow. You can line up everything perfectly, be in the best circumstances, and it doesn't matter--in a good way. Because if you're in bad circumstances, with everything stacked against you, it equally doesn't matter. You can't predict tomorrow, and tomorrow it can all change.

What will happen, happens. Live life, make the best of it, and don't make love decisions like marriage, children, or being happy on cold factors like money. Money can be swept away at a moment's notice; love endures."


I feel that more than ever now. This has been a hard year, but Luke brought so much joy into it that we can't imagine how we would have gotten through it without his smile and his laugh to innocently remind us that hey... It's just a house. Things could be worse.

The view from here is pretty great, actually.

It became clear a couple of months ago that if we stayed on this path we risked possibly losing the house sometime in the next year. Through freelance gigs, commissions, and any work we could find in this economy (which could be its own post) we have been able to keep the mortgage afloat so far. We're proud of that. It has not be easy. We're selling our house now, while the decision is still in our control, while we still have enough resources to move and start over, so that we can avoid the possibility of a foreclosure in 6-12 months and destroying our credit and financial future.

Maybe it would not happen--but it's too big of a risk to take. Remember in my post about risks, when I wrote, "I still don't take stupid risks" ? Well, keeping our home when we could lose it in the near future would be a stupid risk.

Moving 3000 miles back east is also a risk to be sure, but it's more of a calculated risk. It's a risk that keeps our family together; it protects our future, it leads to (we have reason to believe, fingers crossed) new opportunities. It reunites us with our family at a time when family is much needed. It's a little gloomy raising a baby thousands of miles away from all of his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Some bears need grandparents. 

And so, we decided to sell the house while circumstances were still (barely) in our favor.

It's the right thing, it's the responsible thing, but just because it's what's right doesn't make it easy. Sometimes the right thing to do is really hard and it doesn't look like what you want. This is how we can best protect ourselves and make it possible to buy a home again some day when we have recovered financially. And so we listed our beautiful home for sale a week and half ago.

Is this scary? You betcha. Does it suck? A lot. Ryan had a career here that he was proud of, work he loved. Saying this has been an unfortunate series of events is an understatement. For me, the gaming industry has temporarily lost its dazzle and charm. When the work was there and the money was good, it was great. Everyone was having fun. It was a lot of launch parties with free sushi, VIP tickets, complimentary game titles, passing out brand new kindles for everyone at the holiday bash.... Now I see an industry that builds its millions on contract workers shuffled from project to project ten months out of the year, laid off just before their companies legally have to pay them health benefits. I see titles come out to great applause, awards given to marketing teams, and publishers shuttered so companies can pull a cash grab and keep the profits without paying the team the bonuses they were promised.

I see companies that close their offices two weeks before Christmas, laying off people with families without notice. They call it "restructuring".

"MERRY CHRISTMAS UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE!!!!!"

It's how to run a business without having to think about pregnant wives or dental benefits or keeping young workers into retirement. It's an industry that could benefit from unions, but the kind of money the big companies pull in? It'll never happen.

We've been through a terrible heartache, but the day after we finally made the decision to sell and move I woke up feeling relieved for the first time in almost a year and a half. I didn't realize how frightened I had been of the uncertainty looming in our future until we chose a path.

And that path leads back home to Rhode Island. This is where the decision turns on its head again and becomes happy. We're sad to leave Washington, but we're happy to return to our family and east coast friends. Luke will finally live close enough to see his grandparents and aunts every day. I can't describe the feeling knowing I will soon be able to go to the movies on an afternoon with my Mom, or hang out in my Dad's work space, or sing show tunes in the car with my sister. Little things creep into my thoughts; I'll be able to see stars again and hear peep toads in the summer. Thunderstorms and the Atlantic ocean. Clam cakes and frozen lemonade.

It's a mixed bag of emotions. It all feels a little beyond our control right now though, like we're riding an unexpected tide of great change, and there is a strange comfort in that. There's a little bit of peace in letting go and seeing what happens. For whatever reason, there is a strong feeling that we're being drawn east. The circumstances are rough; the joy to return to family is real, so is the sadness to leave our home, our dear west coast friends (whom we love... That is the worst part. Leaving our friends is the worst part), and the life we've built out here for ourselves. The west was good to us, and hopefully it will be again one day. The future is unwritten.

2. Wow... Are you okay?
Yes, I am. Thank you. Well... No, not really, but I mostly am! ...I will be. I've shared so many good times on this blog, I would be remiss to leave out the harder times. People have been so supportive of our story and I am grateful; love endures the bad times. Life is not one big hallway you run down catching high fives all along the way; there are plot twists, there are lows, and we traveling through a valley right now. We will be okay though.

3. How are you and Ryan?
While the economy has been hard on us, love and family life have remained blissful and we're very grateful for that. Even during our hardest times, we've still had a lot of happiness thanks to our relationship, our connection, and our son. I feel very blessed for all that we have between us, and this sounds irritating in a Pollyanna way, I'm sure: but I'm thankful for the perspective the last year has given us. We've had a pause from our material success to hold tightly to less tangible--but more meaningful--successes. We love each other truly, we have a healthy, strong son. For all that we've lost, we're very rich when it comes to what matters most.



Quiet mornings filled with love are free.

4. On a way, way, WAY lighter note... Did you say you have a new webcomic?
I do! It's called BREAKING CAT NEWS! You can find it here, and I just wrote a post explaining it, which you can find here.

5. ...And Projects?
I have some projects in the works that I am very excited about! I'm not being intentionally vague, just some of the details are a little up in the air and one is still coming together. I feel really good about the next year creatively, though. My Alphabet prints book is one such project, a storybook with two very talented gents is another, and I may look into publishing BREAKING CAT NEWS into a real deal comic collection. I've had some fan requests to do so already, so why not take a stab at it? Swan Eaters is still bubbling over on the back burner too. I will be returning to that strip.

So,... That's everything! It's a lot, I know. Bottom line: We're going to be okay. We're not giving up. We're still pursuing our dreams, we're just going to be chasing them a little closer to home for a while. Here we go! Spring 2014, here we come!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Valentine Give Away!

Right now on Georgia Dunn Studio's Facebook page, you can enter to win a valentine and a valentine print on Monday! I'm going to chose one winner at random at 3pm Pacific time/6pm Eastern time on Monday, February 3rd.

Some of you may recall my ultra scientific method of choosing winners....

Yup.

As folks comment on the Facebook post, I will write their names down and put them into the owl. On Monday, the owl will jumble them in his belly as I ever-so-vigorously shake him up and down. Then, when he feels "lucky enough", I shall draw THE CHOSEN ONE!

The details of the giveaway are on the Facebook page, but I will post them here too:

HOW TO ENTER:

1. If you haven't already, like Georgia Dunn Studio's Facebook page.
2. Comment on the giveaway post on that page with which valentine and valentine print you would like, if you win!

That's it!

You can browse the valentines here, and the valentine prints here.

I have all the questions and rules on the Facebook page, so check out that post for more details. You should totally enter, though! Valentine's Day is nearly upon us, wouldn't you like to go big and get your loved one something awesome and free? Or, hoard a valentine and print for yourself? The valentines are 5 x 7. Pop them in a 5 x 7 frame, and BAM, you've got a baby print. Wouldn't you like an adorable baby print to hang on your wall?

Or, if you have pets, you get a human sized print and a cat sized print, to hang by your cat's tiny cat bed.

Why am I not creating pet sized prints for pets? Why am I not doing that thing right now? Sometimes thoughts like this cross my mind, and I'm like, C'MON GET ON YOUR GAME, GEORGIA!

This post is getting weird. TL;DR Want free prints? GO ENTER TO WIN FREE PRINTS

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Welcome to Night Vale's Old Woman Josie and an Angel

I love, love, love the podcast "Welcome to Night Vale." If you have not listened to it, stop reading this and go listen to every episode. I'll wait.

Awesome, right? Right! For those of you who only pretended to go listen to every episode, "Welcome to Night Vale" is a fictional news radio show from the desert town of Night Vale, where some very wild and creepy things happen on the regular. It's just terrifying and delightful!

Here's my take on the character Old Woman Josie and one of the angels.


Detail of the Angel

Detail of Old Woman Josie

Bottom of Angel's robes

Angel's face again, even closer.

Detail of chained wing

This is just my take on the angels, and I won't say too much because I don't want to give anything away, and I can't stress how much you should listen to this great show. When it comes to Old Woman Josie, I just love painting little old ladies. They may be my favorite subject to paint....

Usually I offer prints of my pieces, but this one will not be for sale, out of respect for the great folks who put this podcast on. They sell their own merchandise, and you can buy all of it here! This was just painted for fun, and I may paint a few other favorite characters as well.



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Valentines for sale on Etsy!

The Valentines are painted, printed, and ready for sale in the shop!

Prices are:

1 for $3.50
5 for $15 .... save $2.50
10 for $25 ...save $10

And I have 8 x 10 inch prints of the valentines for $16 available too!

Here are the designs:











I took a few photos of them in action for the shop, which was fun. I don't get to have too many photos since most of my pieces are just prints. These have me thinking though, and I may add some shots of my prints framed on the wall just to show people what they look like out in the wild, so to speak.





Luke's friend Ollie graciously modeled one of the cards....





I'm bouncing around the idea of possibly having a give away at the beginning of February. Win and print and a valentine, something like that! I'm still hammering the details out in my mind, but I like the idea and hope to make it happen! I'll give you more details when I figure them out.