You're intrigued by the title. I know this because I know I would be. It's human nature, I think. You will only be slightly disappointed that I've chosen not to release this particular boyfriends name as this is not a smear campaign against this particular person. Also the title is slightly deceptive as I've had a few boyfriends in my time. Nothing crazy. But this post is about one in particular. Or, moreso about one particular interaction with this one.
I'm going to skip a lot of the details because, quite honestly, they're a little depressing. And that's not the intent of this particular post. When I thought about writing this blog post it made me smile a bit. The kind of smile that only time and perspective (and mild pettiness) can bring about.
I was 20 years old. I hadn't yet given much thought to selling my artwork. I had given a lot of thought to creating but I was still just muddling around, trying to work on techniques, figuring out what I liked and what I didn't. I was fairly directionless. This particular boyfriend was also directionless but was fantastically talented with art. I had never been around someone with his skill. Maybe to see it now I'd feel differently about his work but back then I thought his work was amazing. He was a bit older than me so his life experiences were quite different than mine. His experience with art alone made that glaringly obvious. He had stacks of books of all these artists I had never heard about before. We connected with art because we both loved the fantasy genre - just wildly different ends of it. While I was enjoying the work of Amy Brown, He was head over heels for Brom. If you've never seen Amy's work, it's all of these wonderfully fantastical fairies and mermaid beings, many with their creature familiars, some of which have found themselves in the most adorable yet precarious of situations. Whereas Brom's work was dark and moody, more demon-esque at times and sinister. It was incredible. I had never seen anything like it. At this stage in life, we did not have the internet in our hands 24/7. Searching anything on the internet at this point would age you at least 5 days because it was so slow. So you used your internet time wisely, searching things you actually were interested in, familiar with, or needed to know. I never delved into the world of Brom or anything like it before because I just never would have thought to.
Left: Amy Brown's "Attitude"
Right: Brom's "Bluff"
This boyfriend introduced me to a darker world of art that I actually also fell in love with. Quite unexpectedly, It expanded my curiosity and made me feel inspired just as Amy's work had done. He introduced me to comics like The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. We listened to Joni Mitchell and Tool interchangeably. To be around someone who loved art this way was a new experience for me. However, someone sharing a passion for art does not a healthy relationship make.
We used to spend some of our time just sitting and drawing together. Separately, working on different things, but at the same time. So, in my path of figuring out styles and techniques, I decided to draw a Superhero. A female superhero. Sort of Poison Ivy-esque. I wanted her to be strong and powerful. Unfortunately at the time, my only real references were misogynistic versions of female Superhero's. So I found myself heading down a similar avenue.
When it was finished I was actually really proud of it. I knew it wasn't perfect or anatomically correct. But it was a new style for me and as far as what I was able to achieve with the skills I had at the time, I felt it turned out pretty good. Now to show someone!
Above: The work in question that I kept all of these years as a reminder of strength and resilience. I call her "Red"
I remember feeling comfortable in showing my boyfriend at the time because I was confident he'd see my progress and potential. I mean, I did. I was a no one and I could still see I was working towards something. I was building a skillset. So when I was done I said "When you have a minute could you take a look at this please.". I left my book open and when he was done doing what he was doing he took a peek over at my work. He sat there for a few seconds going over it. All the while I was dying of curiosity to know what he was thinking....as skilled as I thought he was I felt he was someone I could rely on for constructive critique. I also, since we were dating, assumed he cared about me enough to find it necessary to lift me up in a positive way if he did, in fact, find flaws in my work. However, the only thing he did say was "It's not good."......
Just like that.
It's not good.
I didn't know what to say. I didn't cry or get mad. I didn't ask anymore questions. He didn't make anymore comments. Just.....it's not good. And then he went back to drawing as if nothing had happened. I was embarrassed. Imagine having felt like you were on some kind of trajectory to eventually making some good art and having it shot down in half a second. By someone you looked up to as an artist, no less.
I don't remember drawing another piece of art around him. If I drew anything at all it was when he wasn't around. If he was drawing I was reading The Sandman books. It might have been a different set of circumstances if he had given me pointers or said why he thought it was no good. But he said it and just let it hang there. Like a thick drippy cloud of disdain. And I absorbed all of it.
I can't exactly pinpoint the reasons I never gave up on art. I had every reason to. We lived in an entire world where we were told that being an artist wasn't a viable choice. I had an art teacher in college who seemed to dislike both me and my work. And then this interaction with my then boyfriend.....It felt like I had the whole world staring down at me telling me to quit. Expecting me to. Maybe it was because in this sea of unfeeling numbness, art was the one constant thing in my life and the one thing that made me feel the most alive. It made me feel inspired. It was there for me when it felt like nothing else was. It made me feel like I was going somewhere. I didn't know where at the time but somewhere. And somewhere was so much better than numb directionless nothing. Or maybe somewhere inside of me I knew enough about myself to know that I'm the type of person who would eventually figure it out.
Whatever it was, I kept going. I eventually broke up with this boyfriend and found other people who loved art as much as I did. I found my way out of the numb nothingness. I found a style and genre I loved and kept working at it. I didn't need school for it, I didn't need shitty boyfriends, and I didn't need anyone else's permission. I didn't even need for the art I was making to always be 'good art'. I just needed to keep doing it. I surrounded myself with artists who were leaps and bounds more skilled than I was and it made me want to work harder. They inspired me without hurting me. Most of the time they inspired me without having any idea the impact they had. I've had some of these artists friends for 18 years now. And I've just kept accumulating more as I go.
In a wildly ironic twist, I not only kept going with art I'm sure this boyfriend would, to this day, say isn't good, and found success in it, I also somehow, through mutual friends, became Facebook friends with Gerald Brom's wife, Laurie Brom. Who is, in her own right, insanely talented and successful. And while I am not a petty person on a grand scale, there is a small inconsequentially petty corner of my heart that delights in the idea of how this all came around from a point where I could have chosen a completely different and much darker path. While I enjoy Laurie's art (an incredible amount - she truly is amazing) and her as a person from the little window I get to see into her life via social media, she's also a small reminder of the path I ended up on and how life sometimes has a wickedly strange sense of humour - one I've grown to appreciate immensely.
Above: Laurie Lee Brom's work "Summer Time Blues"
Quit on your shitty boyfriend, not your art. Art will open so many more amazing doors into worlds you never dreamed of and opportunities you never expected. Shitty boyfriends just leave you feeling shitty.
--- As an end note, I feel it's also important to note that, at the time, both this boyfriend and myself were not in good places mental health wise. And because I have not kept in touch with him I have no idea how his life has turned out or who he's become. I wish the best for him, as I do anyone who's ever been in my life even temporarily. I also know we were not a good fit and that's perfectly fine. I learned a lot from being with and around him - both good and bad things. The point of this post was not to blame or shame him. Moreso to portray the resilience in a moment that had the potential to steer the course of my life in a completely different direction. One person cannot be summed up as good or bad in a singular moment.---
A few days ago, Jasmine Becket Griffith, a world renowned fantasy illustration artist, announced that she was releasing some of her work into the public domain.
This has never been done before by any living artist in the history of the world. Ever.
You can probably imagine the gasps that rippled through the artist community - my own among them.
But if you want to talk about divine timing......let me tell you a story....
Imagine a much younger Maigan Lynn, about 25 years old, on a leisurely forest walk with my husband. This was around the time when the 2008 recession had hit, forcing me to take some stock in my future as an artist. I had lost a lot of my former clients. Art was not a thing people were spending money on while they were trying to keep their homes. I maintained a few clients but not near to the extent it had been. I was essentially starting from scratch, as were so many others at the time. But on this walk, of which there would be many more like it, my husband and I started talking about dreams. Not necessarily anything we were working on right then and there....but eventual stuff, even if we didn't currently have the know-how to bring these things to fruition. And It was the second time I remember having a very clear goal to my life - the first time happened years before when I was making an actual list of all the things I was looking for in a partner, vowing to not date again unless that person came along.....and then lightning struck when my now-husband came home from an overseas tour....but I digress. The second very clear goal fell out of my mouth in a "I would like to one day own a studio/gallery where I can support myself and the work of my artist friends" kind of way. I absolutely had no way to make this happen at the time. It was just a dream I kind of threw out to my husband and the universe that would stew around in my mind for the next 13 years.....Every so often my husband and I would come back around to these types of conversations. So many things happened and changed in that time frame that my quiet dream never felt like it really had a concrete space to come to life. It just floated around.....waiting.....
Enter the summer of 2021. At this point we were all a year and a half into the greatest global upheaval we had ever faced. For a safe small summer getaway, the three of us (my husband, my son, and myself) had rented a cozy little cottage for a week-long vacation - one which we had all desperately needed. This was our third stay in an air bnb rental within a years time as it proved to be the safest way for us to get away from the city and reset. At each stay my husband and I always found ourselves having discussions like "Maybe we could just buy a place for ourselves...." and with each new rental it started seeming less and less like a far-fetched idea. To be fair, during our first rental for my sons 7th birthday nearly a year before this trip, I was already hooked on the idea and spent the next year daydreaming about it quite often, every now and then looking into the details to find out what it would take. I apparently wasn't alone in this thought because during this particular summer stay, we actually went and looked at a couple listings in the area that had popped up while we were there. The ball was rolling.
I know you're probably wondering - what in the world does this have ANYTHING to do with selling another artists work?!? It does....I promise.
Anyway, By August 2021 we had found it....the cutest, sweetest little cottage. This bright yellow little beauty a 300m walk to the nearest body of water, along a main route through a quaint touristy area, tucked sweetly into a cove of trees, was going to be ours by Labour Day weekend. It came with a separate bunkhouse in the back that allowed for an additional 4 more persons to sleep in addition to the 5+ sleeping spaces inside the cottage itself......but what in the world would 3 people need an extra 4 sleeping spaces for if we already had more than enough inside? So my brain started to spool around.....We could maybe rent it out like our own little air bnb.....or we could convert it into something...but we don't really need more space......I could use a place to have a little studio space while we're there so I could work....
.....and then the lightning hit again.....
"OH MY GOODNESS I COULD USE IT AS THE STUDIO/GALLERY I'VE ALWAYS DREAMED OF!!!!!!!!!"
The way it happened was the most bizarre. A studio/gallery space wasn't the intention when we started looking for cottages. In all honesty, we had legitimately thrown around the idea of running our own Air BnB but we also knew that if we owned a cottage we would want to use it as often as humanly possible. It wasn't until we had put an offer in on the cottage that we started talking about this as a possibility. I was a little apprehensive at first as I didn't want to railroad my family if they saw a different need for this space. But my ever supportive husband went from the studio/gallery being just an idea to "This is happening!" in about 3 seconds flat. It wasn't even a question for him. In all these years being a military spouse, in all the moving around, never getting a say in what happens or when, just rolling with whatever his job needed us to do, he's tried to sneak in any opportunity he could to support me. Whether it's been helping me with shows or running to ship off mail or pick up printer ink....he's found things he could do to be supportive in a lot of little ways....but for the first time....this was a REALLY big way. This was a thing he was on board with from the second it came out of my mouth....it barely had enough time to be an idea before it was happening.
So January 2, 2022 rolls around. The second day of this very New Year. I've already started working on new projects to sell in the gallery this coming summer. Things are already rolling along because I have no time to waste. I'm still toiling around the best options to try to get other artists work in the shop...trying to figure out the best way to go about it and what's also manageable for me to start ....when I happen to see Jasmine's husband, Matthew, share a post from her art page......and it states that Jasmine has decided to release 625 of her images out into the wild. She's allowing personal and commercial use for some of her images.
Jasmine is an artist friend of mine....
I have a gallery space I can share her work....
There's no red tape in order to be able to do this....
WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING?!?! And this is what I mean by divine timing. This piece of a puzzle that I've been working towards, slowly but surely, for the better part of the last 14 years, in tiny little bits and pieces, recently stewing on how I was going to make it happen......this piece has just fallen RIGHT INTO MY LAP!
I don't think a lot of people fully understood how gobsmacked by all of this I was when it initially started coming into place. It genuinely feels like magic for me. It hasn't just happened out of thin air. I've worked, in one aspect or another, for years to make all of this a viable option....but there are also some things that just can't be explained.
So with all of that being said, I got as quick a jump on it as humanly possible and started right away on creating her own space in my web shop. And despite not having a contract or legal obligation to do so, I will be sending a percentage (fair market value) of the print sales of her work through my shop directly back to her. Because supporting an artist and their work is really important to me - whether payment is expected or not. It's something I've wanted to be able to do for most of my professional career. I also opted to sell her work in my shop immediately instead of just having it in the gallery this summer because as far as I'm aware, there haven't been any print shops that sell her work in Canada until now. Being able to offer quality prints, made in Canada, with Canadian prices, of Jasmine Becket Griffith's work is such an incredible opportunity that I didn't want to let pass me by.
To sweeten the pot a little here, Jasmine is not only an incredibly kind and wonderful human, she is also exceptionally successful, having contracts with companies like Disney and The BradFord Exchange, to name a few. Her catalogue of work goes far beyond the images she's released....and she keeps painting more. To be able to start a dream of mine with an artist idol such as Jasmine is beyond what I could have hoped for. To have her work listed in my shop alongside my own is THE MOST surreal. I honest to goodness feel so incredibly lucky that all of this has fallen into place this way.
Jasmine has many MANY paintings, prints, and merchandise that are still only available through her site or those of her licensed companies. So if you would like to support her directly or you're looking for something I don't have, please visit her Strangeling website. Alternately you can support her on Patreon and have access to new shows she's doing and new work she's working on!
When you support living artists you're directly contributing to the hopes and dreams they bring to this world. You're nurturing the seeds of great things to come and I can't begin to say enough 'thank-you's' for that.
I am someone who is used to staying home. I work from home. I drive my son to school everyday, drive his BFF and his mom in with us as well. But then I come home and work the hours until it’s time to get him again. My husbands schedule is usually off the wall and we’ve learned to adapt to every day being something different and me being ready to go solo at a moments notice. In a lot of ways I am prepared for this.
But I feel things deeply and the last couple of days have been a struggle. I’ve found myself feeling more anxious than usual. Which I expected given I have anxiety and the current global situation has been causing a lot of anxiety in people who don’t regularly deal with this. But I didn’t expect to feel profound sadness.
We’ve been in isolation for 11 days, tomorrow is 12. My husband has had to leave twice for work as Search and Rescue is essential services. He goes to work, comes home, strips off all his gear, clothes in the laundry immediately, phone and keys sanitized, hands washed immediately, then shower right away. On days when he’s on standby he’s there at work the whole day unless called out, eats lunch at the Mess hall. He usually sits with the rest of the crew on standby that day. They generally fill a big square table with 10-12 of them, he said. Today he came home and told me how they had to line up for food with paper plates, no self serve stations, everything was handed to you over the counter onto your disposable dinner wear. And when he went to go sit down they were only allowed 4 people per table, one at each corner......it broke me. The last couple of days while out for walks, the very obvious social distancing has been unnerving. People walking to the other side of the road in avoidance. It’s the responsible thing to do and logically I know this is what we NEED to do. But I am heartbroken. The avoidance makes me feel sad....like I’m poison. Like any of us could be. I don’t live near family but the idea of if I were to see family or friends.....I wouldn’t be able to just hug them. I wouldn’t be able to be near them......
How drastically and quickly things changed too is unsettling. Three weeks ago we were running errands as we normally would. No one seemed particularly bothered. Two weeks ago we were stocking up (reasonably) just in case we really did need to stay indoors for a couple weeks and you could tell there was uncertainty in the air. I could feel it. We made comments like “We’re laughing now about how absurd this is and we’ll be eating our words two weeks from now when we’re fighting off zombies!”. We’re not fighting off zombies but it feels like the majority of the world outside just disappeared......The day we went grocery shopping is the day the NBA announced they were shutting down. A massive organization that stood to lose a ton of money from doing so....just shutting down.....Thursday night we went to a parent/teacher conference and by the time we got home, all conferences for Friday were cancelled. By Sunday they were saying if you can stay home, do. The minister of education came out and said schools were going to be shutting for at least three weeks. We opted not to send our son to school the week it was still open and have been homeschooling since. The airplanes that we’re so used to hearing.....there’s a couple a day now. Traffic on our main road is still going but noticeably less. The walking trails here are also usually pretty populated with runners and generally crazy Canadians that have lost all sensitivity to the cold.....we see one or two people now. Gas prices are lower than they were when I was in high school. The toilet paper is gone and people are trying to charge astronomical amounts of money for hand sanitizer....and now our city is in a state of emergency, like most other cities, provinces, states and countries.
I AM mostly staying positive. Social media and the friends I have there has been an amazing distraction and network of support. Between the meme’s and the check-in’s and the general love and kindness that we all so desperately need right now....it gives me hope and a decent foundation to stand on to start each day. We’re eating well, trying to get daily exercise in, trying to get enough sleep - much easier without having to set alarms....trying to wear real clothes now and then, keeping general hygiene as a priority.......trying to keep mentally ahead of this thing. But I think I’ve needed to acknowledge the sadness. I was trying to keep it at bay because I wasn’t ready to deal with it. I worried that feeling sad would be the start of a downward spiral. But I think it’s important that we DO give ourselves permission to acknowledge it and let it happen. We’ve never been through this before. It’s new and scary. And it’s a lot easier to come to terms with something when you feel supported and connected. Unfortunately, not only are we very obviously missing that physical connectivity of even being NEAR other people.....we’re currently not ALLOWED for that to happen and it feels really lonely. So allowing ourselves to feel the sadness helps open the doors to be able to process all of this. I think we’ll all be processing for a long time and as much as it sucks, it’s something we definitely need to do.
There are still so many things to really and truly be grateful for in this mess, especially in our particular circumstances. My husband and I talk about it every day. Every single day, we know we’re so very lucky in this global pandemic. We DO NOT take our situation for granted. But I think a lot of us are feeling it, the reality is setting in. We’re still seeing numbers rise, governments are still figuring out stimulus packages, people are worried about jobs and bills and the economy, we’re worried about our most susceptible members of society, we feel devastated by all of the loss so far....we’re surrounded by the stress of so many unknowns and we have to deal with that in our isolation from the world. But we are also with our families. We’re connected by social media and video calls and phone calls. We’re getting creative in how we stay connected and how we get involved in our communities. I’ve seen so many TRULY good and amazing things. I don’t think this earth has seen so many heaping doses of love at one time maybe ever. The things that were broken before.....they might have a chance for change on the other side of this. So many things will just never be the same. Some of that might be bad but some, I’m hopeful, will also be really really good.
So I leave this saying, it’s ok to feel what you’re feeling. Acknowledge the emotions and give them respect and space to happen. It’s how we’re all processing right now. The whole world is in a situation that we’ve never experienced before. It’s ok not to do any of this perfectly. It’s ok to feel things that aren’t pleasant. This situation straight up sucks in a lot of ways. We’re learning about this thing daily. We’re trying to coach our kids through it while we, ourselves, are constantly muttering “W....T......F.....” under our breath. We can suck at this, we can feel unpleasant things about this, and it’s ok. We will make it through this. And as lonely as we feel, we truly are all in this together.
Wash your hands, be responsible, love each other, be kind, and stay safe. Sending you all so much love ❤️
It’s week 1.
It’s a pretty big deal. I have been waiting for this. I have been patient. I have prepared and daydreamed and planned. It’s go time!
Ok, so that sounds SUPER dramatic but big life changes ARE dramatic.... so it’s fitting. And I am EXCITED!!!
I am also terrified... I’ll tell you why...
My son went back to school this week. It’s the first time he’s been anywhere but home full time, really. And while it is sad and I definitely have the mom feels about it, I am also really looking forward to what the future has in store!
For 6 years I have been a stay at home mom. And I LOVED spending that time with my son. Honestly, he’s one of the most unique, creative, hilarious, loving little beings I know. In that 6 years, I helped shape him. I helped in teaching him so many things and, in turn, he taught me things as well.
The truth is, I never saw myself as a stay at home mom. I barely saw myself as a mom at all. I wasn’t one of those little girls who dreamed of being married or having babies. That just seemed like such a far away thing that it seemed almost absurd when it came time to consider the possibility of those things happening. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change any of it. I love my husband, I love my son, and I love being the wife and mom. But when it came time to step into the stay at home mom role, it was something I did because it’s what worked for our family at the time. I did it out of love for both my son and husband.... but it did not come naturally to me like it seemed to with some moms.
Being a military family and being bumped around the country means it’s rare to have family close by to help. My husband was on the trajectory to becoming a pilot with the Canadian Air Force which was an extremely long and difficult road so a lot of the parenting and household responsibilities fell on me. My husband is every bit as much a parent as me (my husband and son have a wonderful bond and relationship) but the reality of our situation was that while he was at school/work/training, I was holding it down at home. Which meant that I had less of myself to give to other areas and had to shelf a few things for a while.
One of those things was art. I didn’t entirely shelf it - anyone who is an artist will tell you that’s next to impossible as it’s essentially part of our DNA. But I did have to slow it way down and scale back on how much of myself I was able to lend to it. To say it was a personal struggle is quite an understatement. It was like pressing the brakes to the floor when you’re going full speed. And I think that’s something a lot of new moms experience but don’t publicly express because our society tends to shun anyone who doesn’t love every aspect of motherhood. I struggled with the shift from being my own person and having the time I needed to do the things I wanted to losing quite a bit of autonomy because every ounce of me was needed by this tiny human. It was startling and it took a minute to adjust. I loved the time I had with him and recognized it was an experience that I’d never be able to get back. But, simultaneously, I can’t hide my excitement at gaining this little piece of myself back.
This week is my first full week back at it. It is equal parts thrilling and terrifying! Getting back to my art full time is something I’ve dreamt of and I’ve made plans and laid the ground work to prepare myself for when the time came again. But it is ALL. ON. ME. And THAT is extremely daunting to think about! It’s exciting to have the freedom but I am the one who has to come up with the plans for that day, that week, that month, that year. I have to keep myself organized and motivated. I have to maintain a healthy balance between work and home life while working from the basement of my home. I am ultimately responsible for every success and every failure. Add to that that there is no limit or ceiling to how big this could become, that I’m essentially standing on a rock in the middle of an ocean of possibilities and opportunities and it’s all on me to steer the ship and keep it afloat while hoisting all of the possibilities and opportunities, within reach, aboard.... my anxiety doesn’t like this AT ALL! Lol! I have to continuously fight my own self doubts and fears. It’s scary. It feels a little lonely despite having SO much support. But I’m ready to dive head first into this choose-your-own-adventure. I’m ready to see what’s next and what kinds of things I can make happen. I’m excited for myself, I’m excited to show this to my son, and I’m excited to fill this new role for our family!
Last night, after I had completed my first day of this new adventure, I was talking to my husband and I felt tears start to prick my eyes. I was (and am) so scared of the unknown —This could ALL go horribly wrong, you know. Do I REALLY have what it takes to make this happen? What if I fail? — But there was also this immense sense of pride. I had been waiting so long for this opportunity. So I blazed into my first day and, if you will, kicked it’s ass! I woke up that morning, made the plans, and followed them through. I did that. Me. I am DOING this!
I am excited!
I am ready!
I am terrified!
But watch me go!!!
(Look mom, no hands!!)
Sometimes I have a lot to say.
And sometimes I have nothing to say at all.
The conundrum of an extroverted introvert I guess.
But when I do have things to say I shall put them here. And probably on Facebook....
A thing that might be good to know about me is that I have opinions. On a lot of things. And sometimes the pull is so strong to share them that fighting it feels wrong. I don’t share what I share because I’m ego centric, despite the belief of some (usually those who disagree). I share what I share because I feel like I HAVE to morally or like it’s some contract I signed for the agreement of the human experience. And sometimes I share things despite the fact that I know other people won’t like what I say.
My goal is not to be liked by everyone. That’s ridiculous.
Instead, my goal is to love, and help create a world I can proudly hand off to my son.... even if my small part is through sharing my voice - whether it be through my artwork or my thoughts and feelings. I do good when I can. I try to own and apologize for my mistakes. I’m always growing and changing, as we all should.
I’m an empath with some hardline boundaries, implemented through personal experience and growth. I love and protect fiercely.
I am a far cry from perfect. But I try. I wake up everyday and I make efforts. I do the work. And then I wake the next day and do the same. Sometimes in a larger capacity.... sometimes less.
And I’m here to share all of this with you. Because maybe what I’ve been through or am going through might help you with something you’ve been through or are going through. Maybe my perspective could help you change yours. Maybe you just need a laugh.... and maybe I can provide that for you - life is really funny if you’re paying attention.... or if you’re jaded just enough to be the proud owner of a dark and twisted sense of humour.
Maybe I’m just talking loudly into the void.... but maybe you’re out there. And if you are.... I see you ❤️