Whew! This has been a busy season for both of us! Not only was Jen blessed with a wonderful new job, but Mike had been super-busy with school these days. Not only have his classes been a lot of work but he (and all of his crazy counseling cohorts) have officially entered THE CLINIC–which practically speaking, means lots of extra hours and not a few stressful days of feeling completely overwhelmed. Ironically, however, with all this stress has come some of my best artwork to date! I guess when I get stressed, I tend to open up Photoshop and start letting those creative thoughts flow. Anyway, since we’ll be sharing the finer details of our lives in our soon-coming email update, allow me to (once again) display the fruits of my recent creative endeavors…

This first one was one I did in my first day of class for the Winter Term. The course (which, as you can see, was called Genesis & Exodus) was excellent–as was the teacher (some of you may of heard of him; Dr. Longman has co-authored many counseling-type books with the equally famous Dan Allender.) Anyway, as good as the instruction was, it was very intense at times, and by the end of the day I would find myself checking out mentally and goofing around on Photoshop or whatever. (They say you shouldn’t check your email or use Facebook, but they didn’t say ANYTHING about digital doodling!) Anyway, for this project I created a gold-looking text (with the help of an online tutorial), added a mottled, fuzzy background and a couple of shiny points, and my work was done! Not bad for an hour’s work, eh? ๐Ÿ™‚

Genesis & Exodus

The next class I had was Group Theories and Practice, and like the previous course, was very intense–in fact, with about 200 pages of reading each day, it was one of the most grueling academic exercises of my life–like a marathon that I hadn’t ever bothered to train for. ๐Ÿ™‚ย ย But it was a great class and I learned a lot, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain. At any rate, one day my teacher drew a diagram on the board of how a group should ideally interact (i.e. everybody interacting with everybody), and I thought to myself, aha! Here was the inspiration I needed for this title image for this class. (You all do know by now that I create little images for each class to put at the top of my notes, right?) Anyway, this one took me way more than an hour–in fact, multiple untold hours. Sometimes art projects like this just click and fall into place; other times they’re more like a roller derby, a wresting match, and a goat rodeo all combined and rolled into one chaotic, perplexing mess… At any rate, at first I didn’t like the finished product, but in the end I think it turned out pretty good. I guess when it comes to art, it pays to persevere…

Group Theories & Practice

Ah, yes, my Gospels image. I think this one turned out really nicely. I must admit that I did NOT create the stained glass image in the background, but I did create the awesome-looking gold text effect–from scratch! I personally think that my Costanzo Gold Text Effect (TM) looks waaaaay better than the one I learned to do online (see above). I also like how the text fonts seem to combine with the colors and the agnus dei image to lend a very balanced, culturally consistent feel to the piece. This is one of my favorites so far. (And yes, I’m taking a class this semester called Gospels that covers Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John–looks like it should be a good one!)

Gospels

Here’s another one that’s grown on me since I made it–my Couples Counseling image. I actually found it VERY challenging to work with only pinks and blues–I don’t know why, but color balance was a big struggle this time around. I think I tried six or seven versions before I settled on this one, and I think it’s pretty good–it actually kind of feels like the kind of graphic design you might expect for a seminar brochure or something! Maybe one day it will; be used for just that purpose… ๐Ÿ™‚ย Oh yeah–this is another one of my classes this semester, in case you were wondering…

Couples Counseling

This next one is actually an original abstract background that I evolved during class one day last week. At first I wanted to try my hand at drawing my own circuit board, but for some reason my first line ended up at a 45% angle, and before I knew it pretty much all the lines ended up either horizontal or slanting (there are onlyย 2 vertical lines-see if you can spot them!) Anyway, I doodled away at this thing using Adobe Illustrator, adding lines, removing them, etc., yet I was still unsatisfied with how flat and boring it looked. Then, in a moment of inspiration, I imported the whole thing into Photoshop and applied grainy texture, which instantly transformed it from boring into breathtaking (yes, that’s an original quote, in case you were wondering). You can actually download the full-sized image and set it as your desktop if you want to be cool like me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Circuit Board Abstract

Now the whole reason I designed this in the first place was to make a background for my Advanced Therapy Skills class image, which was ludicrously easy once I had created the backgound image. All it took was the right font and a few simple text effects, and boom! Done. Thankfully, I’ve been able to use my custom background for a couple of different purposes, so all that work won’t go to waste. (The image below kind of looks like it could be the opening titles to a really cool sci-fi/counseling movie, don’cha think? ๐Ÿ™‚ย )

Advanced Therapy Skills

Ok, here’s the last one for tonight: The Dugong Principle. This was another one that I completed (mostly) in class one day when my brain was fried and I needed a break! It all started when I was reading through the book of Exodus. I came to the part about the coverings for the tabernacle, and I noticed that the text (NIV version) said something about using the “hides of sea cows.” > What are sea cows? I thought to myself. So I checked the translation notes, and it said that sea cows were “dugongs.” > Ok…so what are dugongs? Well, in case you’re wondering, dugongs are sea-faring mammals, much like manatees, only with a much weirder name. So one day (don’t ask me how I made this leap), I decided that I would write an entire counseling book that used dugongs to explain the solution to all of life’s problems. One of my classmates helpfully suggested that “The Dugong Principle” would be a fitting title, and I agreed! Now that I have a catchy title and a snazzy, pre-designed book cover (see below), all I need is to write the book itself and I’m all set! ๐Ÿ™‚ย If anyone has any ideas, let me know–depending how much you write of it for me I might even mention you in the foreward…

The Dugong Principle

Well, the night is getting on and tomorrow is another day, so it’s time for me to sign off and bid you all adieu! Let’s hope that this next week will be a bit less stressful–but if not, expect some more goofy artwork in a few weeks or so! ๐Ÿ™‚

-Mike