A few months ago I got a call from Commander Deppa of the Lynnwood Police Department. He wanted permission to use my t-shirt design as the back side of their “challenge coins.” A what? I’d never heard of a challenge coin before. They date back to the Roman empire and were rewarded to soldiers to recognize their achievements. Today, they’re used to boost morale within a department, to honor an act of bravery or a fallen officer, and also to acknowledge good deeds by individuals in the community. 99 Percent Invisible has a good podcast on the history and use of challenge coins. I love the concept and I’m touched to be part of it now knowing what they stand for. Just got these and they’re surprisingly heavy!
Here is every portrait from February’s “30 Faces | 30 Days” challenge. I initially set out to paint with a more loose approach, but as I look at this collection I see how I eventually reverted back to the controlled style that I’m used to. I also wanted to stick to the inspiration photos chosen for us by Sktchy. There were a handful that were more challenging only because the image didn’t resonate with me as much. What did I learn over the last month? In order to attain a goal, you have to put in the work even when you’re not feeling it. Set aside some time each day dedicated toward the goal and do a little bit, if not all. Note to self – Apply this lesson to other aspects in life (eg. nutrition, fitness, and relationships)!! And, I was reminded that people – their diverse backgrounds and facial expressions – are my favorite subjects to paint. You can purchase this art print on Society 6.
So proud of my niece who just got published in the latest issue of Ireland’s RTE Guide. Nina recently won the RTE Guide/Puffin Young People’s Short Story Competition in her category – 15-18 years old. Her short story below (full text after the image):
The Ticking Clock
by Nina Chen (16 yrs. old)
My mother used to talk about time like it was money. To her, time was precious, something valuable. I was more interested in the thing that told time; the pretty, bird-shaped ticking clock that stayed on the living room wall. My mother used to place it into my chubby, toddler hands, and I would be entranced by it’s bright, colorful numbers, and how its ticking was as steady as a heartbeat.
“Elian,” She would say, her voice light and lovely. “Elian, time is precious, okay?”
My mother often said this. I never understood (or cared) what it meant. I didn’t understand many things. Why did my mother not sing anymore? Why did she insist I hide when my father came home?
Why was there always yelling when my father returned?
My mother gave me the ticking clock a few weeks after I turned eleven. She said the ticking bothered my father.
It never bothered me. Not much does.
Yet I remember the yelling in the middle of the night, how my mother begged him not to break any of our delicate, china plates, and he yelled, “Would you rather I break you instead?”
I remember waking up the next morning, only to see my mother with hollow eyes and a red mark on her cheek. I remember her handing me the pretty, bird-shaped clock and asking me not to break it.
And not much bothers me, but I always hate how my father speaks to me in a snarl, how he says my name like it’s a disease.
It bothers me how I felt like a disease.
I started counting down the days to my eighteenth birthday when I turned fifteen. On my eighteenth birthday, I could run away if I wanted to. I could run away and never come back.
I swept up the glass from the vase my father shattered when he thought my mother was cheating on him. (She had only gone out to buy groceries).
I used an old painting to cover the hole that my father had punched in the wall. (He had barely missed my mother.)
I got a part-time job to buy food after my mother stopped packing me lunch.
I counted down the days until I could go. One thousand eighty-four days. One thousand thirty-three days. My ticking clock counts down the seconds. Sometimes, I hold the clock up to my ear so I can hear it instead of my name being screamed in the kitchen.
“Get rid of Elian! I don’t give a fuck about Elian!”
When there are seven hundred and two days left, when I am almost sixteen years old, a blue-haired boy introduces himself at work.
I have not been the same since.
When I was younger, before I cared about my eighteenth birthday, before the ticking clock was moved to my room, my mother liked to have friends over to talk. She said the same thing often; “My husband is only violent when he drinks.”
The blue-haired boy is never violent.
The blue-haired boy is called Tyler and he is so beautiful it hurts. He is the embodiment of the sky, with eyes like grey clouds and a smile like sunshine.
Tyler’s hands don’t constantly shake. He does not hold a ticking clock to his ear in attempt to drown out screams. Yet he makes me forget to count down the days to my eighteenth birthday, and he listens to me when I speak, and when I press my ear to his chest, I can hear his heartbeat, which is steady as my ticking clock.
My father is arrested for domestic abuse thirty-five days before my eighteenth birthday. Our neighbors had called the police. When I ask my mother why they never called the police before, she says, “Your father paid them not to tell.”
Sometimes I am afraid that I’m like those people. The type who hurt the people they “love”. The type who stay silent for money. The type who say their children’s names like it leaves a bitter taste in their mouth. Sometimes, I hate my name so much that I tear myself apart.
Yet when I do hate myself, Tyler brings me my bird-shaped ticking clock. When my name feels like a disease, he whispers it like it’s a precious secret, sings it like it’s his favorite melody. Tyler can make anything beautiful. He could make a sad story worth listening to.
On my eighteenth birthday, I don’t run away. I return the bird-shaped clock to my mother, and it stays on the wall in the living room, where it belongs. Tyler gives me a new clock, shaped like a star with glow-in-the-dark numbers.
“Tyler, you know that time is precious, right?” I say when he hands me the clock.
Tyler’s eyes light up and he grins. “That’s why I spend all of it with you.”
I laugh and turn on the star-shaped clock. It doesn’t tick, but that’s alright. I have nothing to drown out.
At the beginning of 2015, I left my job of seven years to focus on drawing and painting. The Voice of Doubt (VOD) has always been LOUD. It kept telling me “you can’t do it”, but my soul craved it. So I asked the Universe what I wanted and this time I meant it. By April, I showed my first art collection, and next week I will have my first solo exhibit! Just got final confirmation that I will be one of ten artists featured at the Pridefest Queer Art Walk this month! Who knows where this will lead… but for now, FU VOD!!
How to use the Law of Attraction
Print SALE!! Get ALL nine QUEENS for only $20 at my Etsy store (plus $6 shipping). Add all nine in your shopping cart, then use the coupon code “QUEENS” >> https://www.etsy.com/shop/EtsySketchAllan
Opening night at the A/NT Gallery is tonight. I’ll be there from 6-9pm. The Queens will be on exhibit through April 26 – hope to see some of you there! View the entire collection here: QUEENS Watercolor Collection