Monday, December 21, 2015

the despair of the fall of 2015 (don't worry; it ends well)

could not find original artist

For whatever reason it has been really hard for me to write anything on my blog these past months.  (in fact right now I’m fighting the urge to get up and wander around my apartment, make some tea that I’ll inevitably forget about, walk over to my mom’s house to chat with her… etc)  

 Looking at my blog it appears that it has been about 2 months since I wrote anything, and scrolling down my entries have been random at best.  I suppose it isn’t for ‘whatever’ reason but for several reasons…

This reason has been super hard for me in general.  I’ve been sick a lot, been stressed a lot, had to fight with depression a lot, just in general I’ve had a hard time.  Getting through this past semester took a ridiculous amount of energy.  About a month before finals I was totally burned out, on top of that I came down with a cold which has evolved into something much worse.  I thought I was over it but the day after finals it came back in full force.  I cannot describe it well, and besides I don’t want this blog post to be a list of my current symptoms. 

So I ended fall of 2015 completely deflated.  I honestly don’t feel like I can draw worth beans.  Sadly, I’ve not even picked up a pencil since this past Wednesday.  Over and beyond I question whether or not I can have a career in art.  Oh sure, I draw and paint better than the average person.  Well above the average person.  However, as has been brought to my attention repeatedly this term… the average person is not my competition.  People like this are:
Justin Gerad
Anne Stokes
Justin Gerard
Anne Stokes
Claire Keane
Brian Kesinger
Claire Keane
Brian Kesinger

And many many more… these are just the few that I randomly grabbed off of my list of 'artists I admire that work for places I'd like to work for'... THOSE are my competition. 

I still draw like a student.    

You might argue that that is OK as I’m obviously still a student… 

The argument could also be made that I shouldn't compair myself; because I need to focus on me and blah blah blah.  To a point that is true; but art directors will compare me and I need to be aware of who is out there.  

The problem is I only have years’ worth of classes left of school.  

 That really isn’t much.  

So why exactly am I feeling like this?   

It has to do with the particular classes I took this fall.  I initially started the semester with 15 credits.  Head Rendering, Figure Drawing, Advanced Illustration (basically a portfolio class), Children’s book, and Art Theory and Criticism.  I set up this schedule initially because I thought I’d be ok.  My son was starting kindergarten and my daughter is 3.  So I thought for some reason I could go back to school full time.   I realized within the first week that I couldn’t.  So I dropped my Head Rendering class.  Looking back, it was probably the wrong one to drop, but at the time it seemed the best choice.  If I could go back in time, I’d drop the Art Theory class.  It was a really awesome class, but it took a lot of time and outside of padding my art GPA I really didn’t *need* the class (though I loved it).  I don’t know what other class I would’ve dropped; because dropping 2 would’ve been the best thing to do.  I cannot change anything though, so I got through the semester and tried to balance 12 credits, a son in Kindergarten, a daughter who demanded most of my free time plus a slew of health issues.  

Art Theory was like any other bookish class I’ve ever taken, I read books and wrote papers.  Pretty easy overall.  Though stressful; largely because of the amount of work I had for my other 3 classes.  Figure Drawing wasn’t bad overall; I had  180 page sketchbook and assignments about every 3rd week.  Again; not bad.  The last two though… blarg.

So we’ll talk about Children’s Book first.  As you can imagine from the title we work on illustration related to children’s books… We had 3 large assignments for the class.  The first was to illustrate an entire children’s book (32 pages), the second was to do a color cover and a black and white interior illustration plus a spot illustration.  The first was to do an ebook page that was sliced up and read to be presented to a programmer.  

The ebook wasn’t so bad; but we only had 2 weeks to do it- so it wasn’t as polished as I would’ve liked.  I think if I’d had a week more to work on it I could have brought it to a much better level of finish than I ended up being able to.

many of the issues with this had to do with me fighting with my scanner and with the scanner winning... I didn't correct for the issues very well and then there were a few things I just forgot to fix.  The worst part of this critique was someone telling me how to use crop marks and that there were things that would be cropped out of the picture.  Yea; I did most of that intentionally... but whatever. 

The second assignment wasn’t so bad; I chose Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for my story.  

alice in wonderland spot illustration alice in wonderland cover  alice in wonderland interior illustration
The bulk of the problems with these lay in line quality.  There are a few issues of composition that need to be addressed... but mostly I have no idea what I'm doing with pen and ink.  Or at least I didn't.  I'm slightly more practiced now.

OH and just to put this out here: my intention in making the queen of hearts black was not in some raciest black people vs white people (as as student in my class practically accused me of) it was because I wanted the Queen of Hearts to be portrayed by an elegant woman.  I'm so sick of her being portrayed as a clownish oaf.  So I looked at tons of pictures of women from all over the globe and was captivated by this woman:
I just thought she was gorgeous.  Still do in fact.  If I were to illustrate the whole book and the sequel I'd peruse many ethnicities for the various characters throughout the book.  Because I think it would be fun to do.  Alice I'd keep Caucasian because of the setting of the real world.

I’ve actually redrawn both the cover and the interior (not the spot, I kinda liked the way it came out) I’ve not had time to ink and paint them though.  Maybe I will and I'll put up the updated versions in the next few weeks.

The project that really made my life difficult and ended up affecting the rest of my semester was the first one: Illustrating a 32 page children’s book.
I made a lot of mistakes with this one.  I mean a LOT.  So many that when I began detailing them out I wrote nearly two pages in word about them… and decided they could easily have their own blog post about them.  So that is forth coming.  Let’s just say- while I came away from that project VERY frustrated, I learned a lot.
My Advanced Illustration class led me to similar frustrations.  Though more condensed.  In that class we had the opportunity to choose our own portfolio project.  The theory being that we’d choose something we were passionate about, or at least cared enough about to make great art.  Then we would make 4 portfolio ready professional pieces.  This isn’t at long as my children’s book analysis; but long enough I think it also deserves its own blog post.  So watch for that this week. (with pictures!!)

The long and short of it is this:  I tackled some really really hard things this semester, and I was beat up by it.  To the point of utter and complete discouragement.  The critiques I got back from my professors were absolutely valid.  Everything was certainly something I needed to work on… but by the end of the semester I’d had so many negative reviews of my pieces that I just did my best on my final projects and went to the critiques stone-faced (which apparently looks like a really mean face) and waited for them to be over.  
Like I said.  I draw like a student.  And I should be WAY past that by now.  
I genuinely had a moment last week of ‘what the hell am I doing with my life, my time and my money?’  For a few hours I just wondered why I was where I was and frankly regretted like crazy my life choices that led me to peruse illustration as a career.  

 I mean I have the aptitude for so many careers; I could be graduated.  I could have a job… well potentially.  If I’d stuck to my very first major of Business Accounting from way back in the day.  (oh I feel old when I think about how many years I’ve spent in and out of college!!)

Then a friend of mines voice popped into my head.  A friend that I adore both as an artist and as an individual.  It was a question she asked me several times this semester.
“Does art make you happy?”
It really does.  
Towards the beginning of the semester in my Art Theory class my professor had us write out a 2-page paper that detailed our artistic journey.  He asked us to dive into the core of what made us want to be artists.  Not just the ‘when I was two I wanted to draw and I’ve been drawing ever since’ because let’s be honest; nearly every artist has THAT story.  So I wrote a 2-page narrative.  I cannot for the life of me find it; so I must have typed it up and printed it out without saving. (I found it; so maybe I’ll toss it on here later) I remember while working on it finding it interesting that my whole life was about my drive towards creating art.  
I love art.
I love drawing.
I love painting.
I love creating things.
This is something I truly enjoy; and the fact is that in every journey towards becoming a professional you will have those moments of ‘what the hell am I doing?’.  Those times of growth where it seems that everything is stacked against you and that you are doomed to failure.  You really only get two choices in that situation.  

 Climb up, or fall down.  

Falling down is the easy way out.
as a side note; I never understood why she chose to go down; it was dark and scary, and the place above looked so hopeful... but she went down because she was pointed that direction...
Like I said; I draw better than most people.  (not boasting; I've worked hard to get here)  I could probably get away with doing some sort of appealing work and make enough to pay off my college loans and probably not much else.  
That isn’t my goal though.
I remembered a few days ago what my goal was.
And I’ll still go through a few more bumps and bruises trying to achieve that goal; but I’ll get there.  The only person that can possibly hold me back right now is me.  I have so much support from my husband, my kids, my friends and family, and my professors.  I just need to put in the hours; (and probably a few more tears!) until I get to the level that I want to be at.

So I'll keep drawing.

princess design by me

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Oh the insanity!!

So my life has been a giant ball of crazy pretty much since my last blog post.  I'm dealing with a lot of stress right now.  I mean a LOT.  Some of it is good; some of it is bad.  My classes are pretty intense; I'm taking 4 and they are all studio classes; for you non art majors this means that I'm on campus 2 full days a week and have about 30 hours of homework for each class.  I'm surviving though... more or less.

Today I had a rather big panic attack.  It lasted most of the day unfortunately.  I sat down to work on homework and it just crashed on me; basic stuff like:
'how can I pay for this semester?'
'I'm a terrible artist'
'I'm so far behind!'
'I'm never going to make it!'

basically this meme sums it up: just replace 'writer' with 'artist' and story with 'drawing'

It sums up my panic attack pretty well. 

So yea; I couldn't get much done at all.

LUCKILY my ArtSnacks box arrived in the mail.  So I played with that and it made me feel better.  Of course now I'm feeling better and warmed up to draw and it is 11:30pm...

So I'll draw for an hour and then go to bed I guess.  That means Saturday and Sunday will be INSANE homework and client work days.  (oh I didn't mention; a lot of my 'homework' right now is client work as well... that makes it both awesome and totally intimidating)

I made a youtube video of me unboxing the ArtSnacks and then drawing a picture with it.

I don't have my etsy store set up; but if you like the picture and want to purchase the original I'll be selling it framed for $40.  I scanned it so I can make a few prints (if it is popular) and I'm going to be selling those for $15 each (for an 8x10). 

That is pretty much it.  NIGHT!!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Sketch Dump #1

This is a very short blog post; because I haven't written one for a little while, and the last one I wrote was art-adjacent at best. 

I hope to catch some time tomorrow and do a review of my summer goals/catch up of life.

But for now- you'll get my nightly sketches.  Since the 28th of July I've been trying to post a sketch a day.  (with the exception of one day where my internet was completely out) So here they are for the last week.

I'm going to try to make a habit of posting my sketches for the week each Sunday- if not all of them at least the highlights :)

I was playing with stylization- which means that I exaggerated, changed age, in some cases modified the pose and in general took liberties with the photo that I found. 

Reference used: Pinterest

Could not find reference that I used- but it was
from pinterest...

Reference used: Pinterest

Reference used: Pinterest
I was WAY stylizing here- but I want to go back
and redraw this and be more true to the original
photo.  It is just such a stunning photo.

I drew this one without reference-
I think she is my 'default' girl- as I swear I've drawn her before.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

DIY Light Sabers!!

Ok, so this post isn't strictly and 'art' post... but it is something fun my little family did today and I thought that there might be other people out there that would want to try something similar with their families; so I decided to post about it :D

A little bit of background first- we've been INSANELY stressed this summer.  Especially over the last 2 weeks.   Why isn't really important; it's just been crazy.  So today we had to do something fun.

Ok, so what sparked light sabers?

Well about 4 years ago we started to introduce our son to Star Wars and decided it would be fun to own some light sabers.  We initially bought 2 of those telescoping light sabers- but within weeks we found that they were WAY to painful to be hit with, and let's face it you give a kid a sword no matter what you say they are going to end up hitting you with it.  Not only that... we moved shortly after buying them and they disappeared.  (we lose SOMETHING every time we move)  SO we still wanted light sabers but didn't want to pay the amount of a new telescoping light saber, (which seem to retail for around $12 most of the time) plus, like I said, they HURT to get hit with.

So we looked up alternatives and found a short little post where someone suggested pool noodles.    So we took that idea and ran with it.  We made some pretty awesome little light sabers.  They lasted for about 3 and a half years before they began to wear down.  (pool noodles can only take so much of a beating).

To repeat- it has been stressful; so we needed to do something fun today.  So we built some new light sabers. :D


  • Duct Tape (we got the shiny chrome stuff, but regular silver works) $3.39
  •  Black Electrical Tape: $2.29
  • Assorted colored electrical tape: $4.99
  • Pool Noodles: $1.99/each 
(My Daughter insisted on modeling all of the products)

We got 4 pool noodles- so we spent a total of $18.63 pre-tax.  So we spent about $2.50 per light saber if you include tax. 

*we got everything at target, you could probably get it all cheaper at the dollar store or somewhere else.  We just were at target for something else and didn't feel like going to multiple stores with the kids.

First thing we did was cut the noodles in half.  I just bent them in half and cut them with a serrated bread knife- (I did this before we got the kids to come help build them; so I don't have any pictures of that.)

As you can see this made the cuts pretty rough.  Not a big deal though.

The next thing we did was make an X with the duct tape on the bottom of the noodle; which fixed the rough cut. 
 After that I cut about 4 pieces of tape approximately 8" long each and wrapped from the bottom up.  (you'll see I didn't keep it wrinkle free every time, but they are just for fun, so I didn't worry about it to much)

We then put a strip of the black electrical tape at the 'top' of our handle.

Then everyone customized them with buttons  (cut from the colorful electric tape) and other designs with the black.

First light saber that we finished.  My daughter gave her stamp of approval so it must be good!

My son kept doing nutty poses with his, so you can barely see the design, but he was having fun.

 We ended up getting progressively more creative with the designs, So we ended up with 8 pretty cool looking light sabers.

 Final step of course was having a battle in the backyard!!

 My daughter kept gathering up all of the weapons and running around with them; it was hilarious.

Sorry about the watermark and the bad photos.  My phone camera is dieing and that is all I had on me, so I did my best.  The watermark is there because I'm posting pictures of my kids and somehow I'm 100x's more paranoid about their use than I am about my sketches and artwork.  Go figure.

We had a lot of leftover tape when we finished, you could probably buy twice as many  pool noodles as we did and make a ton of swords for fairly cheap.

I promise to have a more art related post soon, but for now this is what you get!!