the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero


An Artist’s Journey: Get The Balance Right! (redux)

Those of you that are in my abuse and PSTD survivor Twitter support groups might be familiar with my Sanity Sign series.  What you might not know is how it got started, or how far back the inspiration goes.

I’m a big Depeche Mode fan.

There was a particular album cover that I just adored.  Granted, I’d gotten the image during the compact disc era, when gorgeous art that had covered vinyl LP jackets were shrunk to the jewel cases that CDs came in.  This image was for the single “Get The Balance Right“:

This song really resonated with me, and I figured that the Town, Country & Planning’s (TC&P) design for the artwork was based on construction signs (especially as the single was released around the year “Construction Time Again” was an album).

So I did a lot of artwork based on the image- variations of street signs that I could think of, and such.  I don’t think I’ve managed to save very much of it, but there was this:

North Hall Mural 1994

North Hall Mural 1994

North Hall was a dormitory I stayed in, while attending Whitman College from 1994-1995.

Then I decided to recreate some of the images I’d made in 2010, as part of a card I sent to a pen pal Down Under:

Yep, that’s all freehand, and not digitally cleaned up.

About three or four years passed, and I started getting involved in a Twitter chat called #sexabusechat, as I heard about it from a prolific blogger.  A particular quote from this person seemed to fit this old theme of mine. (See Rachel Thompson reminds us that we are a Work In Progress.)  This image was the result:


which was largely modified from the standard US crossing traffic sign, because I wasn’t too sure if TC&P Associates’ designs were under copyright.

Then I found someone on RedBubble doing artwork based on DM album covers.  I figured if any attorneys connected to DM weren’t chasing after him, and the artwork remained up there (and is still there, last I checked), my own use and modification was fair game.

So I grabbed this image:

GetTheBalanceRight-375x360and then created this for #NoMoreShame/Trauma Recovery University:


Sometime later, I went and made a digital recreation of one of my original images, heavily modifying the image I’d taken above.

Get The Balance Right v. jak

As I said, I’d done a number of variations in the distant past, but of course, the Internet had come a LONG way since I started making this image in 1993.  Standard symbols featured on U.S. and international street signs were easier to find by way of Google Images.  I decided that the image above would be my trademark signature, and so I started putting it into subsequent projects, like this one I did for Aussa, based on a comment from one of her readers.


Like all recovering perfectionists, however, I wasn’t satisfied with the fonts I was using.  I wanted something that was close to Clearview, which is what the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) uses.  I found that a font called “Highway Gothic” had been created, which was free of charge.  And so I grabbed it and started incorporating it into my following projects, like this one:


I hadn’t had much success in the past using scalable vector graphics (SVG) before, at least not as far as producing images completely from scratch.  But once again, my rabid perfectionism pushed me back to try again.  Since I was sharing these images with my Twitter followers, and I had to resize many of them over and over again, I found raster-based graphics (using the GIMP) didn’t scale very well.  There was too much pixelation, making the work look rough.  Over time, I found many stock images (that is, the standard symbols I referred to earlier) were available in SVG formats.

So I fired up Inkscape and remained determined to make something.  This image was the first result:


Yes, I’m showing this image at its original size to show you how clean SVG is.

and used Inkscape again with excellent results for this last project I did:

Negative thoughts in the bin

I hope I’ve demonstrated that my work is improving.  I’m not the same sort of artist as my wife Cimmorene (@wavemistress) is, or my daughter (@YellowNeru)– I think they are much more talented in traditional freehand methods.  But this is inspiring to me.

[EDIT November 30th, 2015] I decided to recreate one of my designs from the 1990s, and elaborate on it a little more:


You can find the Sanity Sign series, and some other old artwork I’ve brought way, way back from the dead to get new life at

Procrastination, Perfectionism and Blogging Perspective


SanitySign-PP-crossing (Twitter)

I came up with this image to illustrate the topic for Trauma Recovery University‘s topic this week (which includes the #CSAQT and #sexabusechat Twitter chats as well as their Google Hangout video).

I was going to edit it into An Artist’s Journey: Get the Balance Right! but decided to give the image a post of its own, particularly after reading about the Community Pool at the Daily Post.  I figured it would be good to make some space here for bloggers to offer some feedback; I’m still trying to figure out what I must be missing after 11+ years of blogging and several reworks!

A few of you have been very kind to offer some feedback recently, but I could still use some help, dear readers.  Please be gentle; perfectionism and procrastination really is a stumbling block for me- not just in blogging.

What can I do to invite more conversations with you here?

Or am I just lost in my own little world?  (That’s okay; they know me here.)

Please let me know, in the comments below.


jak’s turn to post some artwork

In my effort to encourage Princess and Cimmorene to further develop their graphic arts skills, I dug up some images of my own from an old physical archive.  I’m not sure of the dates but I’m pretty sure they’re from the early ’90s.  As they are presented here, they’re scans of freehand sketches, with a little bit of digital editing.  I’m not finished with them yet– they’ll need more digital cleanup and coloring.  In case you were wondering, the second image was originally drawn on college-rule lined paper, and I haven’t eliminated all those lines yet.

The final results will be posted to jak & Cimmy’s Journal Jar.

(Note to stephrogers: rainbows!)

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The Dragon’s Lair Original Artwork, by Princess

For all you that have loved our daughter’s artwork, she recently completed a commission for Cimmorene for her blog The Dragon’s Lair! Comments are closed at the tao of jaklumen as really now, you’ve got to see how it looks as the new blog header!

The Dragon's Lair

The Dragon's Lair Original Artwork, by Princess

This picture was created by my daughter, Princess. She drew it in pencil, then her father scanned it into the computer and she took it from there. I have often felt bad about using borrowed artwork for The Dragon’s Lair header. This picture isn’t borrowed. It was commissioned. Please direct any and all comments regarding the picture to the artist. I’ll make sure she gets them.

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Steve and Herobrine in real life Digital Drawing

Hello, dear readers. Just wanted to take a moment to share my daughter’s adventures in art again.

The description below is her own words on this latest project.

Via Flickr:
There is weird shading in this, but this is one of the few shading practices I have been able to have in a long time. I spent a really long time on this, and other than those faults I listed, I am happy with this picture. I got a bit of experience using GIMP which I used with this pic here, on my Slamacow picture. This started out as a pencil drawing. I was afraid to color it with colored pencils, since it would probably get dirty, and it is best to shade after you color, unless you never wanted to color it at all, or if you wanted a crappy looking drawing. Besides, I said I would make a picture that would be colored and shaded in GIMP, so here it is now. This was mostly based off of my previous Slamacow drawing, which I edited a bit with GIMP and my Slamacow drawing was based off a picture I saw, and I always wondered what the face of Slamacow looked like under the pixelated, animated mask… When I made this, I showed it to my friend, and he thought it was good, (I made him guess what it was) I accidentilly broke the GIMP on my side, so I had to use my dad’s (Jak’s) He did a lot of tiring computer magic, so give him credit for that. So The Digital drawing adventure begins now…

Description by princess and a lot of other stuff too.

I love you all! ❤

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Practice Picture

Practice Picture by jaklumen & family
Practice Picture, a photo by jaklumen & family on Flickr.

Taking another break from the retrospective posts to promote some more of my daughter’s artwork.

This isn’t specifically related to the Hero’s Journey that I can immediately think of, but Princess here is self-taught, instructing herself quite a bit from some of Cimmorene’s art books. She draws in the manga style that is pretty common with the new generation of artists.

I’m including her own written description, as follows:

Via Flickr:
This isn’t my best work, because my circle is kind of mishapen, but I thought, "It’s a practice pic, it doesn’t have to be perfect." so, I drew a background based on a field trip I took once, in the woods with my class-mates, and we often walked on a dirt pathway, and the river in the front is just randomly there, it wasn’t in the scene, but the one in the back was actually real. The trees were also origionally cherry blossoms, but I decided to have them be regular oaks instead of cherrys, because I didn’t know how to draw cherry blosoms just yet. Yeah, I’m a little weird like that, I like my practice drawings to be at least half as good as my not practice drawings, but that’s just me. I haven’t drew in a while, so this is a little old.

Description by Princess
Drawn by Princess