The darkness of the womb

I should remember to rewatch this video when I feel myself flagging; when exhaustion and despair take over.

Yes Rabbi, the future is dark, on this watch night, I close my eyes and I see the darkness of my grandfather’s cell. And I can feel the spirit of ever rising optimism (in the Sikh tradition ‘Chardi Kala’) within him. So the mother in me asks, ‘What if? What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?…. What is this is our country’s great transition? – Valarie Kaur

I had the great honour of contributing this piece of art to be sold as a print at the Revolutionary Love conference held this April. I look forward to writing more soon (regarding process; my thoughts; etc) — it’s just that words are scarce these days. But I try to make art as a form of kindling, when everything around us speaks of suffocation, extinguishment, annihilation.

In darkness, light.



A work in progress: commissioned calligraphy painting, which I’m currently working on with watercolor and lots of waiting for layers to dry. I love doing calligraphy paintings and I’m going to be trying a few new things with this one, so it’s really fun! (Full size.)

Brightness, Process

Guard growth / ease pain

“Today’s agenda,” I told myself as I curled up into a ball of miserable pre-menstrual cramps this cold rainy morning, “is to be kind to myself because OW PAIN, and also a Patreon post.” This is that post.

I always want to get better. As an artist, as a person — that’s without question. Better implies, naturally, some measure of comparison, and this is where my problems begin. I look at the awesome people around me — family, friends, former classmates and colleagues, members of the wider social networks of which I’m part — and I’m staggered by the sheer difference between my shriveled inadequate little self and all these shining lights: brilliant writers and creatives, driven entrepreneurs, dedicated scientists, fighters for justice and the rule of law, passionate workers for social change — there are a fair few potential Nobel awardees among my networks, I’m sure!

Any comparison I make inevitably ends with me falling short, and it’s something that has caused me — still causes me, to be honest — a great deal of pain. This turns into self-flagellation, and familiar destructive patterns of doubt and despair: there really is no way I’ll ever become like Dr X (I don’t have a PhD) or Atty Y (I don’t have an LlM) or Ms Z (I’m not, in fact, involved in social outreach or making a difference in anyone’s lives).

What is one to do? The most obvious answer (not to compete or compare, period) is also the most difficult. I’m an inherently competitive person. I grew up pushing myself to get better, surpass, exceed, and I have to have some benchmark on which to focus. What point of comparison remains to me if comparing myself to everyone around me will just cause me to self-destruct?

O. Ez. Lyk dis.


The painting on the left is an unfinished gouache on watercolor piece I did in early 2015 (February or March, I think). I abandoned it because there was something wrong with it, and I couldn’t quite figure out how to fix it. The painting on the right is an in-progress gouache on watercolor, from June 2016.

Let’s do another!


The top painting is, again, my June 2016 in-progress piece; the bottom painting is its previous incarnation, which I scrapped because I got stuck (so, an April or May piece). The photo’s soft focus isn’t doing it any favors (oops!) but even then, I think the difference is clear. I had stronger fundamental lines and elements for the June 2016 piece, and the background was rendered with better technique.

I could go on and on (or maybe not; looking at my old pieces makes me cringe either with embarrassment or “wow I can’t believe I did that I’ll never be able to do it again“) but I think the solution is clear. As a goal, getting better is fine. I just have to ensure that, instead of engaging in a pointless competition against people who are 1) doing different things than I am, and 2) not me, I take it as a mark of progress, a surpassing of the old self, an exceeding of the capacity of the past.

I think you could almost call it growth.

The finished piece:


Notes: This post was written through the incredibly vital support of my Patreon patrons. The piece is an as-yet untitled painting of a genderqueer sea deity as cover art for a GlitterShip anthology. The title of this post is from The Wizard’s Oath from the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane.



My desk, with an assortment of fountain ink samples sent by lovely friends. (Full size.)

(It’s been a while! Sorry about that. Life got very difficult very quickly. Hoping everything’s resolved soon.)


classification blues — and magentas



Ink and watercolor, work in progress. (Full size.)


flames alighting on her wrist