Tag Archives: ganesha

My Home Temple

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ganesh2While my life has greatly improved since leaving Akron Ohio to settle down in Gainesville Florida, there has been one aspect of my life that has suffered greatly, and that is my spiritual life. My spiritual practices are infrequent at best, yet the Deities I am faithful to have been ever loyal, ever responsive, and ever patient as I have languished alone in my faith. There is no Hindu temple here in Gainesville, merely a Krishna temple–which I do not find satisfying in the least. This lack of a community of faith has most definitely had a crippling effect on my devotion. I feel terribly alone down here in Gainesville, and though my home altars are beautiful and ever present, I am not engaging in regular meditations or prayers, though I try frequently to, at the very least, bow in gratitude.

Without a spiritual community I have faltered and in some ways my faith has become less vibrant. This bothers me, this particular solitude, far more than other forms of solitude. In Akron I was less than an hour away from a temple, and I used to go there at least twice a week, sometimes three or four times a week, now I have nowhere to go but my own little altars in my home. I miss the temple itself, temple life, the many magnificent murti in the temple, the inspiring and beautiful sight of other fantastic beautiful Hindu women, and I miss the temple food. Not having access to a temple, to that temple in particular, is a loss I feel keenly and deeply.

For two years now I have been in Florida, entirely too far from my home temple.

I just took a trip back to Ohio and returned to Florida one week ago today, and through the course of that visit I managed to visit my home temple, the Shiva Vishnu Temple, twice. The experience of going home to that Temple was profound, even ecstatic. I knew I would miss it when I left Ohio for Florida two years ago, but I had no idea how badly I needed that temple, and I had no idea how intense the experience of returning would be.

Shortly before leaving Ohio and the temple for this final move to Florida I had my artwork blessed before Ganesh by the Priest. My hope was simply that the work would be published by a small publisher somewhere, little did I realize that Ganesh had much bigger and better plans for me. Without going into great detail, my work was not published as such, but said work led to and generated far greater opportunities. It seemed that the many obstacles that had been before me in life had been removed and I was now able to walk into opportunities that would have remained closed to me previously. It is difficult to explain, but people respond to me very differently and much more openly than they had several years ago. When I left Ohio for good over 2 years ago I drove all the way to Florida with my own Ganesh murti at my side in the car. The entire trip to Florida was a leap of faith, and I was very much leaning on Lord Ganesh and my faith to carry me through, and I was especially hopeful that Ganesh would remove the expected obstacles… I had no idea he would remove so many more and so many larger obstacles.

I settled in Florida and one of the first things I did was search for a temple, but there is none nearby, and my car does not allow for many trips to Tampa or Orlando where the temples are. I quickly began to miss temple life. And as I have mentioned, feeling so hopelessly alone in my faith has wreaked havoc with my spiritual life. It is difficult to follow a faith in complete solitude. I miss my sisters and brothers in Hinduism. And no, Krishnas won’t do, Unitarians won’t do… not even close.

After two years in Florida, a couple weeks back, I was finally able to go back to the Shiva Vishnu Temple in my visit to Ohio! I had a feeling it would be moving and powerful, but I had no idea just how moving or just how powerful it would be. With that same Ganesh murti that travelled at my side when I first came to Florida, I returned to Ohio and to my home temple.

I had hoped I would not break down and cry the moment I walked through the doors and laid myself prostrate on the floor. I did not, but I did lay there warm and wholly at peace. The first thing I did was walk to the back of the temple to bow before Ganesh. I bowed in the deepest gratitude, and as many times as I have thanked Ganesh for his many blessings, bowing before him in that temple flooded me with the most powerful feeling of gratitude I have ever experienced! My chest filled with gratitude and my eyes became wet with blissful tears. I was in awe, never having known the true meaning of gratitude before, never having felt it in such purity and intensity. I circled Ganesh chanting, fighting back tears, trying to simply focus on the words and on my gratitude. I was vibrating yet totally at peace.

durga31Next I bowed before Durga. When first going to the temple I had responded to male Deities, and I had been searching for a Goddess, though none embraced me as completely as I had hoped. No, the others were not slighting me, they were gently nudging me away until I found the Goddess that was meant to travel with and empower me. That Goddess was Durga, and I knew she was the right one for me as the sign I received upon returning home that day was unmistakeable. I have been devout in my loyalty to Durga ever since. Bowing before the Durga altar once again, I thanked her for her strength, and I began to cry.

Finally I bowed before Lord Shiva, and I could not control the flow of ecstatic tears.

Bear in mind that throughout the entirety of my life I have only twice experienced the bliss of ecstatic tears… only twice! The first time was in a small temple in Ocala Florida during a Shiva service, and it was quite unexpected. The Pandit was leading the devotees in the chant “Om Namah Shivaiya” and I quite unexpectedly found tears of bliss streaming down my cheeks. I had never expected such a thing could happen, and had no idea how elevating an experience it could be. I was blindsided, wholly unprepared for the experience. It was direct experience of God! It was pure bliss! And of all the funny things, at that very moment the Pandit (not having seen my tears) said that if a devotee cries such inspired tears before Lord Shiva he cannot help but come to the aid of his devotee. At that very moment I knew what it felt like to be in Lord Shiva’s embrace. Words cannot describe such a sublime moment, and nothing in science can explain it away… however hard one tries. To have the experience is to know what it is, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with math or brain chemistry… those are mere symptoms, not the cause of the experience. Science can measure the symptoms, but they cannot explain away the truth of the experience. The brain thinks it is in charge (which it is not), and it needs to explain away anything that threatens its dominance.

Here I was, back in my home temple and suddenly before Lord Shiva I was helplessly crying such pure tears again! I could not stop them, I did not want to stop them, I simply let go and let the bliss, the tears, the gratitude and the love of Shiva flow through me. Om Namah Shivaiya… Om Namah Shiviaya! I knew in that moment, in all those moments in the temple, that however much my faith has suffered in my solitude down here in Gainesville, that the Gods were with me even when I was not with them. The experience I had returning to my home temple was one that will remain with me forever as clarity in the face of doubt and solitude. That visit reminded me with a certainty unspoiled by doubt that I have found truth, I have found God, and I have found my way.

It was good to go home.

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Why Did I Come To Gainesville?

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(This entry is a continuation of “Why Did I Leave Akron,” which you can read at: https://barefootjustine.com/2014/01/24/why-did-i-leave-akron/)

Lord-Ganesh-9I am often asked, “Why did you come to Gainesville?” or “Why did you choose Gainesville?” Of course I did, in the end, choose Gainesville, but it was not a destination… I didn’t even know there was a Gainesville. As I elaborated on earlier, my ambition was not to get anywhere in particular (though I’d always dreamed of living in a place with palm trees), my ambition was to escape the gravity of Akron.

Up to March of 2012 I had been continuing to live in a foreclosed home… waiting. It was not a home worth fighting for, beautiful as it was, it was situated in a place that was getting more and more dangerously “GHETTO” with every passing year. Still, it had been a home for a very long time, so losing it hurt. I knew, though, that I needed out of Akron, and not simply because of what my doctor had told me, but because the city had become dangerous for anyone, especially for a woman like me.

I had been mugged at gunpoint a mere few blocks from my home, and slowly the predators were learning where I lived. One day, after going out to find two of them leering at me from the corner, waiting for me to walk their way, which I often did (and you can see more of this in my web-comic “Why Justine Is So Scared,” under web-comics). I turned around when I saw them, got in my car and never again walked anywhere in my neighborhood.

I had been working as a cleaning girl, and scraping by… so long as I didn’t have to pay mortgage or rent. I had quit my job at ACME after starting my cleaning service. I was gathering clients, but never enough to make a living of any sort. One of my clients, a couple, had mentioned that they were moving to Florida. Up to that point those two were my favorite clients. I asked them, jokingly, if they needed a live-in cleaning girl. They said, sure, I could go along. We all laughed and I went home.

The next week I asked if they were serious about my going with them. They, as it turned out, had very real need of a third person. You see, he was sick and needed to move to a warmer climate, and she had to stay back in the Akron area until their home sold, primarily to hold down a job. I, of course, was going to be responsible for getting her husband around on errands and doctor appointments, for being around in case of emergencies, cleaning and painting their entire house, and to help get their dogs back and forth to the vet and stuff, and in return for all this I was given an empty room with a deflating inflatable bed in it–you can see what’s coming… right? We came to an agreement, talked out the major potential complications, and I walked away ready to take that leap of faith.

First thing you have to know is that we were not headed to Gainesville, but to Ocala (for Christ’s sake!) I had no connections in FLorida, no work prospects, nothing. I didn’t even have any money to speak of. This was going to be a major leap of faith. In fact, my faith played an important part in all this. I had just converted to Hinduism, and was wholly in love with the religion, the Hindus, and the Temple. before going I expressed my misgivings to one of the most dedicated devotees, who simply said to me, “So long as you have your faith, you will be fine.” Leap of faith indeed. I had the Temple Priest perform a blessing before Ganesh. I had brought in my art, art that I needed to find a publisher for (I never did, but I found something wholly unexpected, as it turned out) and a beautiful ceremony was performed over my work. I had also recently had my murti of Lord Ganesh blessed as well, and it remains one of my most holy objects. I carried that Ganesh with me as a passenger the whole trip.

Barefoot Justine's feet... pretty pink polish.

Barefoot Justine’s feet.

I started selling guitars, or whatever I could do to get some money. In the end I budgeted out what little money I had into envelopes, enough envelopes to help me get by in a bare minimum sort of way for 3 months while I tried to find some way to make a living in Ocala. I sold my car before leaving Akron and packed that money into an envelope so that I could buy a car in Florida. That was it, I packed my stuff in poor old Joe Blue Sky’s house and a storage unit. It was a total do-over on my life, no home, no spouse, no strings, no responsibilities, no prospects, nothing but a no-net reckless free fall towards (fucking)Ocala, and off we went! Oh… yes, indeed, I had gone off barefoot, no shoes! That at least was a divine liberation.

We landed in Ocala, and though I tried to establish myself there over the first two months, nothing there was working. For a start things between me and the couple I had traveled with were uncomfortable. I won’t go into those details, but let’s just say that I began to feel a certain kinship with Cinderella as my inflatable bed began deflating and I realized that I was supposed to be their grateful barefoot maid of all work in exchange for this empty room and leaky inner-tube of a bed. I soon found myself down to one month’s worth of money and absolutely no prospects for work or clients or anything. It was a depserate time, as I also knew that come the end of our agreement in a few months… I was also going to have nowhere to live. Things were looking grim. But at least I wasn’t in Akron!

I was trying all manner of things to get word out and find work. I was trying to find a place to have classes, was trying to find clients for cleaning, was trying to find students for private lessons, was trying all I could think of. At one point I was passing around little portfolios at the local college in an attempt to get a show of my work, an opportunity to lecture or teach… anything. I walked into the gallery at the college and this lovely dark-haired girl jumped up with a huge livewire smile and said, “Where the hell did you come from? RUN!” Meaning, Ocala is not up to you, girl. I had come to realize this, but this girl, this signpost, this Avatar of God, was telling me something very real behind her hip and energetic hotness. I was going on to the copy shop in Ocala after my brief encounter with this tattooed savior. I didn’t know anyone in town, not a soul, but I had talked to this guy at the copy shop a couple of times as he was a fan of the sort of illustration that I do and did. I told him I was getting no play in Ocala, and he said that he loved Ocala, but it wasn’t going to work for me, that I needed to go to Orlando or Gainesville. Well, I knew I didn’t want to be a guppy in the Orlando land of sharks, so I asked him about Gainesville. Basically he told me it was known to be very hip and progressive and that I would do well to look to Gainesville as a better fit for me.

I had nothing else to go by, so I took the copy guy’s advice (I don’t recall his name, but he was wearing a blue vest and an orange name tag, so I figured he was qualified to give far-reaching advice in regards to my future), and I planned a trip to Gainesville.

And that was exactly when the uncomfortable crap between me and the couple I had travelled with started to turn way weird. Things had been deteriorating, but soon they were working together via the phone, creating this paranoiac cabal, planning the strangest passive-aggresive attacks I’ve ever endured. Again, I won’t go into details, but I will tell one classic story. SHE Who Must Be Obeyed had come down from on high (Akron) for a visit and invited me to have dinner with them. I agreed, eating only veggie kabobs, as I was vegetarian at the time. Me, thinking this was some sort of reconciliation or peace treaty, thought nothing of it. The next day around the pool they asked when I was going to pay for the share of vegetable I had eaten during dinner! I think with that little story told, there is no need to go into further details. This was a pettiness of titanic proportions… which ironically matched the titanic proportions of her fat ass. Oh my… I think I just got a tad catty!

I went to Gainesville for the Spring Arts Festival, took one look around and thought, “I could live here!” Of course I had no idea how to make that happen. I had tried to work my way into a similar community in New Hope Pennsylvania, but that had not worked at all. I was wondering how I could possibly find a way to get by in Gainesville before I ran out of the 4 to 6 weeks worth of money I had left before I quite literally was hopelessly penniless. I had researched Gainesville a little and had discovered SAW (The Sequential Artists Workshop) and thought that a place that taught comics might be a good fit for me, the problem was, the comics biz never thought I was much of a fit for them, so my hopes were rather timid. I walked into SAW unannounced off the streets that very day, doing all I could to hold down the stink of desperation that must have been oozing from every pore. Tom Hart (SAW founder and fearless leader) was a bit taken aback at what he later described as “this crazy barefoot woman coming into my school looking for work,” and began working up the right words to tell me that he was running a small school and didn’t really need me. Fortunately, Tom is an insightful guy, and when he looked at my (frankly stunning if not staggering) portfolio–the same portfolio blessed by Lord Ganesh–he saw something in it that most other people have routinely failed to see. Tom saw that I had not only talent, but a very disciplined and professional variety of talent–something rather rare these days in the anything-goes world of contemporary comics. His eye saw not merely an artist, but a professional who could actually function in a classroom setting. Add to this that I had quite a teaching pedigree as well.

Tom said to me, “Let’s get you a class and get some money back in your envelopes.” Which, of course he did. Tom may remember it differently, but he took my class, and after the first session sent me an email that literally said “I am begging you to commit to teaching our first one-year drawing program.” Poor Tom, I don’t think he realized what he was getting himself into. Handful that I may be, at least I deliver!

From that point I began to sleep and see my obligations through in Ocala, but lived for Gainesville. This was when things in Ocala began to get weirder and weirder by extremes.For some strange reason I felt the need to see this agreement I had made with this strange couple through to the end, I think my anger at being in this abusive situation was being overwhelmed by my sense of decency in regards to the responsibility I felt towards this sickly pathetic man and the dogs (who I loved dearly). I also knew that there was nothing in this situation for me. They tried to change their game plan and their passive aggressive bullshit became less harsh, as they realized that at this point they needed me more than I needed them.

I wanted out of their house and into a place in Gainesville, so I began hunting around for a cheap place to live until I could get on my feet. Over the next month or two I was shuttling back and forth between Gainesville and Ocala. Things between the man in Ocala and I were getting very hot and contentious, we were fighting like a couple on the verge of a messy divorce. We were having the kinds of marital battles that I remember seeing on seventies cop shows, problem was… we weren’t married. Unmarried or not, I wanted a fucking divorce! I had just gone through the end of a marriage to someone I loved, so this just plain sucked… sucked like a Yoko Ono record.

By this time I had met Joe Courter through Tom and worked out a deal where I could rent a room in his house super cheap (thank God for Joe!), the problem was, I was still obligated to this Ocala situation for seemingly ever. They had not yet even come close to selling their home, and the deal was that I was to stay with them and care for him until they sold their home.

During one of our laundry outing I had gone to a little spiritual shop outside of Ocala and bought a lovely statue of Ganesh–remover of obstacles, as I had obstacles that needed removed. By now I had scored my room in Gainesville at Joe’s and had started to stay there a couple nights a week, but I was itching to get loose from this Ocala situation, problem was, they had to sell their damn house. The day after I bought that Ganesh I started to notice that the murti was chipped and broken, and intended to take it back the next day. This Ganesh was of profound importance to me, considering what I was up against, and I did not want a chipped and broken Ganesh. This Ganesh had work to do. I had a major obstacle in my life, and it was this awful situation in Ocala, this long and interminable wait for them to sell that damn house in Ohio. How terribly profound and auspicious that on that same day I was to return that Ganesh, I was pulled aside and told that they had sold the house! I was free to go!

And that, is how I cam to be in Gainesville. And by the way, that chipped and broken Ganesh I placed high and in a place of prominence in my room. He stands back there like a sentinel watching all who pass through my door, standing watch over my life, my room, and my dreams.

Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha!

(And remember to read the first half of this saga at: “Why Did I Leave Akron,” which you can read at: https://barefootjustine.com/2014/01/24/why-did-i-leave-akron/)

To Whom I Turn

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To Whom I Turn

99l/11/huty/13289/38To barefoot Brigitte Bardot I turn for slinky sensuality, eccentricity, and all things feminine,

To Serge Gainsbourg I turn for romance and filth in equal measures,

To Mother Maybelle Carter I turn for music and technique of such deceptive simplicity,

To Alphonse Mucha I turn for grace and elegance, inspiration and humility,

To Jack Benny I turn for timing and loving laughter,

To Wally Wood I turn for paternity, lineage and erotic whimsy,

??????????????????To Paul McCartney I turn for pure creative spirit, craft, and more hope and optimism than I have within, and to Wings I turn for Prog Rock power Pop and joy,

To Joey Molland, Pete Ham and Badfinger I turn for more of the same,

To George Harrison I turn for spirit and finesse,

To Ravi Shankar I turn for mastery,

To Joseph Blue Sky I turn for comfort and equality,

To Lake Newnan I turn for peace and sky,

To the wise I turn for leadership, towards leaders I never turn,

arthur-rackham-cinderellaTo Arthur Rackham I turn for lines and awe,

To Townes van Zandt I turn for vulnerability and pain,

To Andy Griffith I turn for morality,

To Tom Hart I turn for forgiveness and openness,

To Hans Christian Andersen I turn for flights of fancy,

To Joe Courter I turn for family in my Gainesville home,

To my grandfather I turn for fatherhood and an easy going nature I envy still, and to grandma for love,

To Universal I turn for horror,

hoo-hist18cutTo Hoolihan and Big Chuck I turn for my youth and innocence,

To the Marquis de Sade I turn for madness, my own dark heart, wicked eroticism, and far more cynicism than I care to bear,

To dark chocolate I turn for bliss,

To Jess Franco I turn for groovy sleaze,

To Chuck Jones I turn for insightful laughter,

To the Beatles I turn for perfection,

To Kahlil Gibran I turn for truth,

1338389798-lord-shiva-wallpaper4To Lord Shiva I turn for spiritual power,

To Lord Ganesha I turn for success,

To dear Goddess Durga I turn for a woman’s strength,

To myself I turn for questions,

To the past I turn for hope, peace, and the future,

From the present, I turn.

“God is Speaking to You” page 4 in progress

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By this point I knew where this was going, but am confused upon reflection as to why the page below still has the wrong central panel. Notice again that at this point I was still thinking in terms of breaking up the panels on the left into three panels. I am fairly certain that this is the first sketch for this page, but the one below may have come first.

The sketch here is fairly tight right down to the details. The Yantra is there but still not as strong as what I had established earlier. And you will see that Saraswati is still in the second panel rather than in her proper place on page 2.

By the time of the “ashcan” I had figured most of the important elements out. No Saraswati here, and the left column is still broken down into three panels.

Tom chose to scan the final (though still in need of inking) page 4 in progress. I have finished the pencils since taking this scan and will soon upload them but you can see that the third (right) panel is very unfinished and the middle section is also not quite there. Note that the Yantric element is strong throughout and once again it wasn’t until the final piece that I figured out that the left panel needed to be one long continuous panel and not three smaller ones. And like page 2 with the void and the crowd, I merged the panels into 1 trippy whole. The finished pencils will be uploaded soon, and the inked pages… one day when I finally finish. There is also one more page in this 5 page story, so keep coming back for that as well.

As promised, here at last, is the final (uninked/unfinished) version of this page. You can see from the page above that the piece was not quite complete. It is much more magical now. So… the next phase… I have to get up the courage to finish the fifth and last page… then INK these!

“God is Speaking to You” page 3 in progress

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OK, I have to confess that the development of this page was such a cluster-fudge that I really wasn’t able to plow through all these sketches and figure out which thoughts came first, so the chronology is based on my best recollections. I do know that the above sketches are the seed sketches merely by how simple they are. At this point in the story I was dealing with the emotional darkness that came over me before the Gods (I assume Shiva, primarily, for a number of highly personal reasons) chose to reach out to me. In the above sketches I am seen in sadness in a hotel room.

Here you can see that the above sketch (seen earlier) deals with this emotional moment but was drawn before the strong verticals were established.

Here the primary action, the taunting of the demon (actually, speaking through some asshole in Toronto) was appearing on the previous page.

By this point the strong verticals are clear, and the spirit of Shiva is there, but I was really still stuck on the idea that I had to show myself in sorrow in a bed in a hotel watching TV.

Here I am still playing with the same ideas, though the Shiva head is getting closer and the TV is now no longer his eyes but his third eye. I inked this sketch just to start to wear away some of the rust before I had to demo before students.

Getting closer!

Still not there, still the demon is on the wrong page. But the diagonals are strong on the page as well.

Here we have the final page layout, again worked up in the little ashcan Tom and I had talked through to work out the storytelling issues. All the panels are in their proper places and the strong top and bottom diagonals that cross the three panels are still there even in the new layout. The story works better when the Demon (the moment of crisis) is on the same page as the moment of redemption. Notice that the left panels are still broken into two rather than on strong single vertical.

This, of course, is the final page, though still uninked–therefor unfinished. I again found a way, an inspired way, to maintain the Yantric element that has been an important part of this story arc. The Demon on the top left was a real struggle. I had worked, reworked, and erased myself silly. The first drawings seemed too rooted in the juvenile “bad ass” tradition of the old WOTC editorial mandates I had put up with for years. I am much more pleased with the mask-like solution presented. Watching me struggle with that single 3 x 3 moment left Tom asking why I didn’t just move on to another panel and come back to that. I told him that I knew the image was “in there” somewhere and I just had to keep looking until I found it. I did! Also, since this page will be facing the previous page I continued the diagonal that crossed panels so the viewer would be able to easily spot the little me in the bottom of the left-hand panel. Additionally, as with the earlier page, notice that the first panel is now one long unbroken vertical rather than two panels. Again, this solution came to me as I was well into drawing the final page.

“God is Speaking to You” page 2 in progress

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I started page 2 with much less certainty than page 1, and in fact at this point hadn’t even realized that the entire story was going to be laid out with strong vertical panels. This is something I try and teach my students–and you can see evidence of this here and a total contradiction of this principal in page 1–which is that they need to do many thumbnails and iterations as their first idea probably sucks or is at the very least more likely than not merely a half-idea. In fact, this thumbnail really only covers one idea from page 2, “I had fallen to agnosticism,” the rest of this page became page 3.

On the left is the image for page 5, on the right is the first serious layout for page 2. Here you can see strong vertical panels established, a layout theme that will repeat. Notice that the left and right panels are broken into two smaller panels. Additionally the two panels on the far right ultimately moved to the next page.

This layout is very similar to the above though by now I had realized the strong diagonal elements that would run across page, see the line across the bottom that shows that this strong diagonal would lead to me in all three columns. The three circular shape across the top do the same.

This central panel ultimately moved to this page while the other panels made up page 4.

This, again, is from the little ashcan version of this that I worked out with Tom Hart at SAW, and in fact it was largely this page that caused me to need to create the ashcan to finally get all the right panels in all the right places on all the right pages.  The strong diagonals were important to me and you can see that I maintained them with the flow of images of me going downward diagonally across the bottom as well as the void, moon, and Saraswati portrait moving upward across the the panels at the top. You can see here that the column on the left is still broken into two panels.

This is the final page, as it is still not inked it is nowhere near compleat. Here you can see the strong diagonals and also the Yantra-like repetition of the circular shape that carries across all three panels. This Yantra was now like the strong vertical panels, a consistent design theme that would carry through each page. Additionally you can see that ultimately I chose to let the first panel become one rather than two, an element that I had not even considered until I had started drawing the final page… though looking at it now it seems terribly inevitable.

“God is Speaking to You”, page 1 in progress

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I have begun working on a five page story about my conversion to Hindusim. This particular story is very important to me and I have been intimidated by my responsibility to the subject matter so I have put it off. Then, one evening the first images and the themes and concepts that run throughout the piece came to me. Above you see my initial ballpoint sketch for the first page. On the right is me with a Yantra imposed over my face and on the left is Lord Ganesha, also with a Yantra over his face. Though I had not laid it out as such at this point you can see on the bottom right that I had known right from the start that this page would contain two strong vertical panels.

This second sketch  really captured the spirit of the story, and is unusual for me in that this second iteration is fairly similar to the first sketch. The Ohm symbol has appeared over my third eye.

I discussed the entire layout of the story with Tom Hart because I felt that though the sketches and ideas were solid, the storytelling and flow were off. I created a small thumbnail ashcan in which I laid out roughs demonstrating the new placement of panels

The above was my first attempt to work up the final page. This was when I realized that the self-portrait was not going to work under the Yantra rendered this way (plus, Tom said it looked like She Hulk) so I scrapped this page and went with the more graphic representation below. The crazy ink lines all around the drawing were done as a demo for one of my students.

This is the final pencil drawing that will ultimately be inked–so yes, this is nowhere near finished. The one major dilemma I had in this piece was that my self-portrait needed to work under the Yantra. I had also decided by this point that Lord Ganesha’s Yantra would be incorporated into the drawing as if it were painted on him rather than imposed over him. Additionally I wanted Lord Ganesha to be drawn in a far more visceral and realistic way than myself, taking him out of the ethereal and stating to the reader just how real these Deities are to me… far more real than my own sense of self. It is also interesting to note that all of the finished drawings have been created in Gainesville Florida at The Sequential Artist’s Workshop where I teach and have access to studio space.