Monday, May 11, 2015

You can't Control the Narrative

Hello. It's been awhile, hasn't it? Yeah, I took a break from social media for about a full month's time so I could work on a pretty substantial project (time-wise). Occasionally, and possibly more so with those of us in the creative fields, you need to make sure your head-space is clear for focus and creativity to get playing room. (This should be understandable to most though. I can't be the ONLY person who finds all the debates, jokes, and constant stream of images on social media as something that could fill up mind-space.)

But here is an interesting little thing that happened: Despite a pretty substantial and brief description of why I was away from it all, when I returned I found several messages with people voicing a whole number of reasons for my "social media sabbatical." (And some of it was just craziness that I won't go in detail with on here. Like, seriously weird reasons to NOT be on social media.)Taking that first day to ease back in and reading through these odd questions, I gained a realization that connects with something I mentioned a few months back about expectations:

You CAN'T control the narrative.

I think we all like to think that even in this digital age of sharing your life, thoughts, and information via the wondrous media platforms that you can in some way, shape, or form, create a story that describes you clearly to the world.

I am sorry to say, though, that this isn't anywhere close to the truth. And its not close to true not from a lack of you not going about it he right way. No. It isn't true because an individuals desire for constructing their narrative in the eyes of others can never overcome people's preconceived expectations.

For me, I told a short version of what I would be doing while away. But the expectation of others for me to be as present as I had been on social media, led them to feel that this explanation was NOT the full story. Those portions were required to be filled.

I have had at least a good half dozen friends who have shifted from a job, church, or location in the last 10 months and, on a very similar note, they have all ran into the odd and intriguing issue of "narrative control" that I'm describing here. You share your reason for doing something and think that you've placed a definitive stamp on it...only to find that one, two, or ten people have decided to look passed your statement of intent and begin attaching, deleting, or completely re-writing what is or has happened to fit their definition of a better narrative for YOUR story.

A part of me finds great concern in this. I recently watched a poetry piece where someone asked if Mandela would have done what he did and spent 30 years in jail and say what he said if he knew that after his death the very REAL things he said and did would be scrutinized and picked at and deleted and re-written (to some degree) by people trying to make THEIR sense of what his life was. I was floored by the thought, knowing full well that I have sat through (whether in person or online) NUMEROUS discussions by people doing this exact same thing. We are extremely comfortable with questioning every bit of a person, every action, every word, and every expression, taking a life and chopping it into chunks and then looking at each of them to try and structure a story that makes us feel good or infuriates us to no end. This is an acceptable practice. Kids do it, adults, everyone. We keep trying to define things and people BEYOND what they have said of themselves, beyond what they have shown. Its a common act to do and, in all personal honesty, a part of me is wondering if it is really something that we should be doing.

I'm becoming more and more of a fan of questioning what are beneficial pursuits of my time. I think its easy when you are young and still in the process of ironing out what exactly your niche is, to be spending time trying to express yourself in a way you might deem definitive. That yelling to the clouds how you'll be a captain of industry, or sports god, or a great family person, is worthwhile to do. You hope that in all your boisterous billowing, something will stick. And while you wait for that to happen, you can also talk A LOT about others and what they have done, how you would do it different, better, or more courageously.

Heh. Maybe its my age and the fact I feel I've seen so much of that (and done a lot too) that the sum of my observation is a realization of how much LIFE I've missed out on trying to "get" what others narratives are, lost time while trying to redefine others from MY vantage point of them.

I'm not trying to say I've solved this puzzle but maybe, MAYBE, when someone says something about why they've done certain things, its true. Perhaps, SOMETIMES, people are what they look like they are. Possibly, it is OKAY to trust what people are telling you is their reason for making the choices they do.

I know. Sometimes we DISAGREE with them. This will happen. We're all flawed creatures, prone to HIGH moments of emotional expression. Its what makes the human experience so interesting. Its part of what allows things to feel fresh and new. If everyone was the same, you'd lose that spice of life, the dramas would be less compelling and we would all TRY a lot less.

So, what is this post all about? You'll never be able to please everyone with everything you think, say, and do, but THAT'S OK. State your narrative and walk it. If others choose to not take it at face value, warp it to make themselves feel better, or attempt to tarnish the image you've put out there, SO WHAT? I have yet to see one person whom, by doing their very best towards themselves AND towards others, not eventually get to a place that opinions opposite, lose the sting of their sharpness. Your life is YOURS. You walk all those roads in your own feet, not anyone else.

Write your story. Make it good and keep it on your terms. I'll be praying for you every step of the way to make the most of YOUR life and to live it to the BEST of YOUR ability. That is something you can control. Your choices. So choose well, and choose for YOU.

- Conduct Lionhardt

P.S. - Below is some artwork to check out. Computer-scanner is on the fritz so, bare with these photographs.

Agent Peggy Carter. inks and water color on watercolor board. (Her show just got the 2nd season renewal so, YAY!)

 (unfinished) WWE wrestler, Dean Ambrose. inks on Bristol Board.

(unfinished) Nelvana of the Northern Lights, cos-player. Line art inks on Bristol Board.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Liz Love

Hey folks!

Sorry I didn't post this one over here on the day but I finally finished up that piece of Liz Taylor (and one her many fellas) that someone commissioned me to do then, changed their mind. I posted it up a few places on Valentines but seemingly forgot to place it on here. Whoops!

I feel like my art is getting a tad bit stagnant so, I'm looking to try a few different things in the weeks to come. My other work has been keeping me a bit busy to really throw down on some pieces like I want but I think I will have something neat (or somethings) to post up for a look, soon.

I'd love to share a few thoughts too but, at the moment, I have several things racing around my noggin. Give me a little more time to focus and properly articulate them and you'll have some things to read through.

Till then, Love some Liz:

- Conduct Lionhardt

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Girl in the Flowered Dress

I happen to be quite smitten with the talented Ruth Negga. There is just something about her look and how she approaches her performances that has always caught my attention. So you can imagine my surprise when watching the first season of "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" and she showed up as Raina, the enigmatic girl in the flowered dress. What I believe was initially supposed to be a short stint on the show, Ruth's performance was so well received by the showrunners (as well as us viewers) that the character of Raina continued on through the first season and well into the currently on-air 2nd. Hopefully this means a lot for the actress, who has only scratched the surface of American TV and film.

As usual, I did this with blue pencil and brush pens on Bristol board. For the most part, this is done. I may tweak a bit with the tones but, that all depends on if the brush pens I have set for grays can get what little I see as needing to be messed around with. Haha. Enjoy!

- Conduct Lionhardt

Groundhogs Day

I drew this image of Bill Murray's character in the film "Groundhogs Day", FOR Groundhogs Day. If you haven't seen the film, this is one of the first occurrences of the plot where a character continuously relives the same day until they get it right. I always thought the film was well done and, as such stories seem to teach, an interesting way of proving that sometimes what you think you want, isn't what you need.

Considering the idea of getting to relive a day until you "get it right" I think we can all conjure up a date of which we wish we could have that option. But the more I thought of it...(well, I may be in the minority here, with this thought) I question whether or not trading in a bad experience would somehow effect some of the good ones I made as a result of coming back from that failure? Wins, by nature of both substance and title, give you a great feeling. Yet, it is a loss that teaches us things, that gives opportunity for change and growth that could effect the long term in ways that a win never can. Don't know if I could trade my learning lessons for some victories. It is an interesting thing to ponder, don't you think?

- Conduct Lionhardt

Monday, January 19, 2015


Today there will be plenty of love (and in some cases, hate) cast at the celebration of the life and actions that Martin Luther King Jr did. It is a curious and, yet, familiar occurrence that someone who becomes the go-to representative for a movement, is placed in both the light of fondness and the darkness of controversy. For some reason, we just love to do that to people, questioning while praising, sneering while also conceding to mildly applaud the facts we can't easily tear down. (This is ESPECIALLY true now that we have all embraced the uses of social media and the Internet kingdoms we all set ourselves up with.)

For me, thinking of a day given to honor Dr. King is both joyous and sad. I am laden with melancholy while grateful and celebratory while deeply troubled. Ya see, what King wanted to happen, didn't fully materialize. And there's a part of me that doubts we all still have the urgency to continue the movement toward its full realization.

As I said at the beginning, there will be a lot of stuff said about MLK jr today. Quotes slung about to both inspire and to use as a clarion call to the injustices we still see happening in there days. Its your right to express the lines you find some meaning in from ALL that he said. His "I have a dream speech", the letters he wrote from jail, about the Vietnam war, and all the way through the 15 chapters of his great book, "The Strength to Love." (as a personal side note: If you are capable of reading a book, considering it in the moment, THEN applying your belief or opinions on the subject AFTER you've finished the read, I encourage you to take in this book. He was as intelligent as he was religious and I don't think that, for those who prescribe to either side of things, you can walk away from it without some consideration, however brief, for the other.)

For me, though, my quote will be about why I feel like what he wanted didn't come to pass YET and it happens to be a small piece of the "I have a dream" speech:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Yes. This quote.

I have a few friends that, if they should happen to read this, perhaps may bristle at the above quote. Truthfully I think a lot of quotes I could post up (by King or others) would have that reaction. And that, sadly, is a subject for another time, looking into why we get up bothered by certain statements that, on some level, we may question whether or not we agree with or find fair.

King's above statement has always stood as a polarized line that seered into my brain at a very young age. It mostly did so because I had no real, pure, experience with that issue until I was in my mid-20's. My childhood was, for reasons I still can't figure out, incredibly diverse. Rarely would I find myself in a place where I was capable of being singled out based on the color of my skin and, even if I were the only one who looked like me in the room, no ill or negative words or actions came my way. The first real time I realized I was being judged from my appearance didn't even happen in America, it happened in Canada!

But, when I was young, that statement became ingrained in me from the moment I heard it. Perhaps it was, for a young mind, the preposterousness of it all. Having the experiences I had, from my diverse section of social interactions to Mister Rogers always saying on his show that everyone was unique and special, I couldn't wrap my young mind around how anyone would judge a person based on their skin color. It was just an absurd concept to me.
(kudos, should be shared with my mom and other family members for this. Despite having uncles and a grandmother that loved them some "drank" and all the problems that come from that, neither them nor my home life with mom and her friends, ever presented the idea of statements about different races. I never heard "the white man this" or "black people that" things said in my childhood. In fact, I'm pretty sure the first time I heard some stuff on that level was in a cable film or when I got to the 6th grade and discovered bullies.)

So, for me, a person was always judged based on whom they were, not what their skin looked like. The "content of their character" was what became the point of how I determined who my fellow man would be.

But ever since my first step into high school, I've discovered that no one else seems to think like that. And, what's even worse, in my adulthood I have been privy to more uncomfortable exchanges about this subject than I ever thought could be imaginable.

For all the changes that Dr. King's actions and speeches have brought to America, for me it is disheartening that a greater desire to judge LESS on appearance and MORE on content of character, isn't one of them. In fact, that may very well be the thing we are the MOST selective about using to define the humanity around us with. I could regale you with stories of conversations I have heard from groups of men AND women, talks about the worth or lack of worth in those who's appearance fits one or many ideals of what makes someone "right" and "OK." The fact it is so commonplace in the way that we assess is something that constantly troubles me...and even more so when mentioning it causes people to get EXTREMELY defensive.

I don't think it should be this way though. It is likely one of the greatest things I have had guide me through life, making sure that I question whether or not I am keeping to King's hope for a humanity that looks to character as a place for deeming worth. I am no paragon of virtue and have faltered in times. I too have been tainted by distance from the first hearing of those words and what they were truly trying to get across. In a time where it seems that mankind has less and less humanity every day, where it seems as if no MAN is KIND, this one part of his speech is a priceless tool. It is a priceless tool that we all need to dust off, brandish in our hand, and keep building. We should all realize that the movement is still necessary, and that to achieve the sort of future that we'd like those younger than us to be a part of, its time to challenge ourselves, our societies prejudices, and redefine what we use to define people's worth with.

King felt that he should use a large part of his life to help change and uplift those in his lifetime...and beyond. Can we do no less? I think we could all do MORE. Let's get to work.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A look at 2014 (unpaid edition)

Busy, busy, busy! I am working feverishly to finish a few things (as usual) so, that's why there have been few updates on here. Still, I thought some would get a kick out of seeing a picture of all the unpaid illustrations I have done this year. What you will see below is almost all the stuff I drew in-between paid work, most of which is finished. (There are a few items not in this pic. A few weren't completely inked and difficult to see in the group shots. I'll scan them when I can find some time, though.)

Enjoy and, hopefully, I'll have plenty more to share next year with you (especially since some stuff i did work on is slated to take some bows in 2015.)

- Conduct Lionhardt

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Something Wicked...

Here, I have a picture of something I did for October that I just got too busy to post up. It happens like that, sometimes.

Yeah...she's wicked.

I am attempting something this month that I haven't done all year. If it all goes well, then what we'll have is a neat annual thing I'll do in December every year. No promises (because I surely don't know if circumstances will be the same next year) but I hope I can make that happen.

Kinda vague? Yeah, I know. My next post will fill you in. Stay tuned, peoples...

- Conduct Lionhardt