Years ago, I received a fan letter from an inmate imprisoned in London, Ohio. Jack Kinney simply wanted to express his appreciation for work he’d seen on a book given him from outside, and to ask for a few art pointers.
Jack confessed that he was involved in a violent crime when he was 19. He didn’t say what, but he did express his remorse meaningfully. He’s 41 now, but looks sixty. “All these years show up in my face,” he says.
I’m always happy to share what I know, but through the mail with an inmate is tricky. Their email is limited or nonexistent, obviously, and every letter they receive is opened and pre-read. They’re not allowed prints larger than 8.5 x 11 (which I learned only after I tried to send him something larger). I did send him a how-to tutorial art book one Christmas. After that he started to send me his drawings and paintings, very poorly copied on the prison’s xerox machine. Are they professional? Hopw could they be? But they’re not terrible either. It makes one wonder what might have been had he stayed home one night.
I never quite know how to react. When I was 19, I got into trouble, and might have ended up behind prison bars but for the times and the compassion of strangers. I sympathize with these persons whose lives have been put completely on hold—deserved or not— with only a keyhole view of the outside world passing them by.
Jack shared a number of his images, but this is the one he’s most proud of. He says, “Made it up myself. Did not copy anyone. It’s one of a kind.” He’s not selling it, because the only means he has of selling his works is to trust someone on the outside to manage it for him. He’s only had his artwork stolen.
What kind of miserable cuss would do something like that? It makes me sad, and I feel for his loneliness. The one thing inmates most want is contact. So I’m going to share Jack’s snail-mail address here, in hopes that some of my artist and non-artist friends will type or write up a quick letter and put a few moments’ joy into a stranger’s day, just because we’re all human, and there but for the grace of God and all that… Send him your own tutorials, prints of your work, just words of greeting. Tell him I sent you.
Next, I’m going to set up a Facebook page where folks might post letters of others who aspire to some beauty behind bars, and could use encouragement and engagement.
Thanks for reading and considering…
UPDATE: Here is the Facebook Page. Please have a look and consider what you might do. Thanks!
Posted by Todd in Blog Home at 12:49 PM PST
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Cover art for “Grudgebearer,” by J.F. Lewis. I love working with Lou Anders; he always gives me dragons. ;o)
Coming from Pyr in September 2014, and already up for preorder on Amazon.
“Grudgebearer” has been accepted for inclusion in Spectrum 21.
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 7:17 PM PST
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In a few days, enrollment will close for my class at the SmART School. In order to encourage you to have a closer look, I’ve shared a portion of the document I send to my new students before class begins, to get them off to a rolling start. It’s over on the Muddy Colors Art Blog. Just click the image below to learn more.
Posted by Todd in Uncategorized at 8:10 PM PST
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Finally, the Cruel Ultimatum:
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 5:04 PM PST
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Next up, a pair of Nymphs. The first is the Observant Alseid, and the second is the Spearpoint Oread:
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 4:57 PM PST
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Four new pieces of Magic: the Gathering art released recently. I just found out, so they’ve probably been out for a good month already.
First off: Prossh, Skyraider of Kher:
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 4:44 PM PST
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Enrollment is open for Spring Sessions at the SmART School! There are many different ways to take advantage—Have a look:
SAS Faculty: Donato Giancola . Greg Manchess . Dan DosSantos . Todd Lockwood . Rebecca Guay
Posted by Todd in Blog Home at 12:52 PM PST
New prints available on my website:
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 4:08 PM PST
John Ruch at Paste Magazine did a very nice interview and review of UNFETTERED, Shawn Speakman’s standout anthology.
“If Unfettered arrived simply as a fantasy fiction anthology, it would be praiseworthy enough simply for living up to its title—these stories really do unchain our minds from the dreary mundane. The two-dozen tales include fresh offerings from such superstars as Terry Brooks and gems from emerging fantasy authors. It’s a treasure chest for any genre fan.
But Unfettered also happens to be a fundraising project. It marks the start of an extraordinary effort to unshackle authors and artists from medical bills that ruin lives and careers.
The authors of the stories collected here all donated their stories for free to create a book that could cover a $200,000 medical bill—the fee left to their friend and the book’s editor, fantasy author Shawn Speakman, after he beat cancer. Speakman now plans a nonprofit to be funded by an annual anthology like Unfettered. The anthology will offer similar help to ill artists not lucky enough to have such famous friends.
The jacket art of Unfettered depicts Speakman as a cowled prisoner, surrounded by dragons and demons. He breaks his chains in a dramatic sine curve. And so it should be—his own story reads like an adventure tale.
“The American health care system has a big hole in it,” Speakman warns in a phone interview from his Seattle home, explaining how it often leaves self-employed authors and artists with inadequate health insurance…if they can get any at all.
“Somebody should never have to worry about health payments when they’re fighting for their life.”’
“As often proves the case with anthologies, however, the biggest names didn’t turn in the best work. Browsing rewards a reader with new friends…
Todd Lockwood, who contributed a story as well as the book’s ceaselessly handsome illustrations, establishes himself as the collection’s major discovery.
Already famed as an artist for Dungeons & Dragons game materials, Magic cards, and Salvatore’s book jackets, Lockwood can also write. He had a rollicking adventure tale in last year’s Kickstarter-funded anthology Tales of the Emerald Serpent, and here he proves adept in a totally different mode with his haunting ghost story “Keeper of Memory.” Now working on his debut novel, Lockwood looks to be a rising star fans should read here first.”
What can I say. John Ruch has great taste.
Posted by Todd in Uncategorized at 7:10 PM PST
My buddy John Picacio has launched a kIckstarter. Give it a look:
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 10:02 AM PST