Days of Our Lives

So, still not perfect, but oh my gosh.  Following the tips from this tutorial, as I said I would, yielded much more positive results.  I will be focusing on eyes this week, using the tutorial as a guide, and try eyes in different expressions and from different angles.  Hopefully by deconstructing the face (to start) I can become a little more fluent at drawing human faces.

Today was one of those days at work that lasted seemingly forever.  It was the last day of finals, one official exam and one session of make-up, so I had no students.  Luckily, I’ve gotten slightly better about using my time wisely, so I read about 125 pages of one of my books, did a review of Lesson 12 and started in on Lesson 13 on my ASL, and did some substantial work on my next micron drawing.  So despite being a “do nothing” day, I feel like I did a fairly decent amount.

While I was at work, my sister sent me an event link for a Onesie Bar Crawl in Manchester (which is the city adjacent to where she lives), with the tag, “lots of fun stuff coming up,” which made me more than a little wistful.  I like where I am in my life; I spent so many years being told that so much of what I have — a house, a full-time job, a spouse, a kid — was going to be beyond my reach because of The Way I Am, that having all these things, wonderful on their own, is especially satisfying.

But I sometimes miss The Before Times, when I had the freedom to basically just pick and choose what frivolous thing I wanted to do.  In so many ways, on paper, my 20s looked miserable; I was living with an over-bearing parent and had virtually no privacy, I had neither a license nor a car; you’d think it would have been unbearable.  But I lived near a train leading into a big city, I had friends with cars, I was within walking distance of cafes and movie theatres, and — in some ways, most importantly — I had a job and very few financial responsibilities.  I was living in a rent-controlled apartment (paying about $500/month, utilities included), I was single, and my student loans were still in their grace period.  In so many ways, I had more freedom than I’d ever had at any other time of my life.

And everything was possible!!  I was still looking at graduate schools and figuring out what I wanted to do, and I actually had money to seriously consider going back to school to pursue it.  I was single and had dozens of dating sites to peruse at my leisure.  I had disposable income and infinite energy, and late nights in Boston getting bleary-eyed drunk and stumbling through the streets with my closest girlfriends talking about career woes and blowjobs and travel plans and birth control, and just, everything felt like it was just on the precipice of Happening.  There were so many beautiful nights with friends that were full of vodka and pillow talk, and laughingly pouring over salacious OKCupid messages from interested strangers.  I am happy with my husband, and how comfortable I am with him (more so than I’ve ever been with anyone in my life), but I also miss those first few tentative Instant Messages, signing on to a message with his name on it, the aimless fantasies about who he was behind the screen, that first stumbling face-to-face meeting at Borders Cafe.

I had some beautiful nights, full of beautiful moments, that I know I’ll never recapture.  And none of those moments, none of those nights were ever anything earth-shattering; I mean, we did enjoyable things — went drinking, or caught a movie or a show, went into Boston, hung out at a comedy club — but nothing to write home about.  But I still remember walking out through December twilight with the man who would be my husband and my two best friends, two miles through the snow to the cafe where we met up; I remember every word Andy said making the three of us burst into giggles, and I remember knowing even then, with fair certainty, that this was the man I was going to marry.  We trudged through still-falling snow and met up with two friends at a bookstore cafe where we spent ages browsing books and looking at maps (again — So Many Possibilities) before catching a train to see a stand-up show and grab some Chinese food at the Hong Kong.

Dinner and some comedy.  Nothing Special.  But I can still feel the sting of the cold on my cheeks.  I can still smell the books in that shop.  I can’t explain it, but there was something about that time in my life that made the most mundane moments palpable with What Could Be.  Every night was the night my life could change.  Every night was the night I could find my true calling through a drunken revelation;  I could hop on a train and not come back; I could hook up with the girl I had a crush on since college; I could fall in love.

I know there are still possibilities laid in front of me.  They just don’t feel as tangible, as vibrant.  I miss that.  I love what I have, but sometimes I still want More.

I wish I’d savored it while I was still in the thick of it.

It’s Wednesday.  Happy halfway.

 

The Uplift

My mood post-convention is often pendulous; the surges of motivation and excitement give way to sadness, give way to eagerness to embark on new projects, give way to lamenting that things are over for another year, give way to grandiose plans for the future.

This is the first year I attended panels about the meta-aspects of How to Do or How to Make; I’ve done a few makerspace panels in the past that were single-project “make ‘n takes” that have been wonderful, but not much of anything I would pursue beyond the confines of the convention.¹  This year, I opted to focus on trying to get Some Ideas About Art — what to pursue, how to pursue it, how to feel like a “real” artist.

Well, I succeeded on the first two counts.  Most of the “maker” panels I went to were really more about “making;” people who dabble in cosplay, prop making, electronic bits ‘n bobs — which are all amazingly cool, just not what I personally pursue.  Luckily there was a local artist on both panels whose primary focus really is more on art — pottery, watercolor, acrylic, inks, and a new-to-me medium/process called encaustics, which is painting with hot wax and sounds incredibly interesting.  All the panelists had some great things to say about creating makerspace in the confines of your own home (even if it’s small, or rented, or shared), and I got to get a few questions answered at a panel (yes I asked questions, which I never do!) about the logistics of baking Sculpey-altered boxes with mixed-media findings (such as wooden and glass beads, scrapbooking paper, metal findings, etc.) and was actually told that they hadn’t really heard of mixed-media altered boxes, and they sounded like they’d be really beautiful!!

I think I was so ridiculously happy to hear this because as a 101-level art novice and as a person with anxiety, I spend so much of my time fighting off Imposter Syndrome and generally feeling like everything I do is derivative and uninspired (even if I feel an initial surge of excitement or enthusiasm for a project, I wind up looking at it hyper-critically and feeling like an amateurish fraud calling myself any sort of “artist.”)  That gave me a surge of hope that maybe some of my ideas are worthy of pursuit, and while I had sworn off clay work for a while, I might make it a point to devote a weekend here or there to a particular project.

Today was surprisingly easy to get back into the swing of things; I took care of a few final things for the class I’m being pulled from, and wound up going out to coach, which, can I say, I nearly had a heart attack over because I completely and utterly forgot I was supposed to go out today (I always go out on vocational coaching on Tuesdays, but with the extra-long weekend and the chaos of Arisia, I completely forgot it was Tuesday.  Luckily I had to drop some paperwork off in the vocational office anyway and happened to glance at the schedule).  Bear was a little slow going in the morning, but was excited to report to his friends at school about the weekend.

Today is already Tuesday!  Smile, you’re nearly halfway there.

I will be starting my previously proposed deep-study of the human face, feature by feature, tomorrow.


¹With the exception of mini-hats, which is an Arisia-specific craft that I have utterly fallen in love with, and I think I might want to start making some in my free time.

Back to Reality

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I arrive back from Arisia 2020 tired, inspired, and more than a little bit down; post-con letdown/blues/depression/hangover/whatnot is real, and it is potent.  I had a wonderful time, and after seeing Bear interact with various peers (and even older children and adults this year), I have big hopes that next year he will be able to qualify for Fast Track, which would give he and I both a greater measure of independence at the convention.

Bear has also decided that he wants to be a Masquerade participant next year in the Young Fan Division, and I am feeling a stronger and stronger pull to apply to be a panelist next year, so I have grand hopes that Arisia 2021 will be epic… but it hurts, just a little, knowing that it’s a whole year away.

Back to work tomorrow.  I’ll do a quick rundown of the con, including the things I’ve been pondering in it’s wake, and what it’s motivated and inspired me to do and consider.  It was a productive year, and I have lots of hope and excitement for both my fannish and creative projects going forward in the near future.

But just for tonight, I think I’ve earned some junk food, a big margarita, and a good (mostly metaphorical) cry into a pillow before I’m forced back into the Real World tomorrow morning.

Hope your weekends have been restful and rewarding.

Tonight

Tonight, I opt to do nothing.  No, not even a daily sketch.

Tomorrow is going to be a whirlwind.  Up at 6 am, I’ve got to cut my hair (it’s so convenient when you’re hairstyle is buzzed, super-short undercut), clean the house, drop Bear off at school, hit the gym, shop for food for the hotel stay (hotel food is ridiculously priced), finish packing, pick Bear up, and head to my mom’s — all before 11:45.

I’m thrilled for this weekend.  Conventions always serve to rekindle my desire to be creative, but it’s only recently that I’ve begun to cultivate creativity as a part of my everyday life, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the added boost of inspiration does for what is already semi-regular output.

And can I talk about how glad I am that I’ve moved past that seemingly endless stretch of procrastination and stagnation?  I still have a long way to go towards being a prolific creator, but at least I’ve gotten to the point that I’m doing something creative, or something to further a creative endeavor, just about every day.  I’m sketching, I’m starting drawings, I’m planning paintings.  For the longest time, the furthest I got along in a creative project was to lament that I had no ideas or motivation.  That I couldn’t find the time to sit and work.

The latter is still sometimes a struggle, but it’s gotten so, so much better.

I’m so excited for the Art Show; I love seeing what other people are doing, and getting ideas for other themes or subjects to explore in my own stuff.  It gives me something to aspire to.

Work today lasted forever, and it wasn’t even a bad day — it was actually a pretty good day, all told — it was just one of those days when you know you have something desirable coming up and you just want to get things over with.  I did some review on my ASL lessons between sitting exams with kids (I’m up to Lesson 12, after a long period of stagnation at Lesson 10), and popped into the party the vocational program head hosted for our main internship site.  It was a good turn out, and so nice to see the kids and catch up with some of the staff in the Excel program, which I was a part of last year.  All in all, it felt like a well-spent day, but in the back of my mind, there was that constant, niggling reminder that I had a four-day weekend and a con waiting for me at the end of the day.

Depending on the wi-fi situation, and my daily con schedule, I may pop in to say hi, or it might be radio silence until Tuesday.  Either way, I hope you all have fantastic weekends.

A Few Days Left

My daily sketch:

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I did not feel up to drawing a full human figure this evening, so I focused on a single eye.  I’m not thrilled with it, but the sheer act of drawing a human eye from a reference photos forced me to notice things that I, in the past, have repeatedly messed up when attempting to draw faces.  While I really struggled to get them into the drawing — a combination of rushing and sheer lack of skill — I realized that I usually ignore the bottom/top plane of the top/bottom eyelid.  “Eyelids are not flat,” but all too often I draw them as sort of being like form-fitting jeans, perfectly contoured to the eye, and they aren’t; they have some thickness.  I am going to need some serious work to map all this out, but I did happen upon this page which seems like an excellent resource.

I’m thinking I might use that page above for a series going forward, where maybe I devote a week at a time doing daily sketches to some of the tutorials the artist offers.  As in, a whole week where my series of seven daily sketches are just ears, or just eyes, or just lips, etc, culminating in a week of full face sketches.  Just a thought, but one that is rapidly gaining traction in my mind.

Bear has been waking every morning asking me if it was time to leave for Arisia yet.  He’s so funny.  There are several things I’m planning to take him to, including Make Your Own Wings (his from last con finally fell apart) and a Make Your Own Mini-Hat/Fascinator (which is not strictly a kid’s workshop, but which welcomes well-supervised kids), a few sword/fencing demonstrations, and both the Geeky Bellydance performance and the Masquerade.  He’ll also be accompanying me to some kid-friendly panels, and probably spending some time at some other playdates/makerspace kid events with my mom.

Honestly, I wish I had something like Arisia growing up; some place that celebrated my geeky interests, my intense interests, my creativity.  My parents tried to be supportive (and were successful in some ways, and less successful in others), but I feel like getting to know like-minded peers at a young age, or even seeing grownups still enjoying and reveling in the geeky interests that had already begun earning me eye-rolls from my family, would have done wonders for my self-image.  Maybe I wouldn’t feel the need to apologize to people for how into certain things I am.  Maybe I wouldn’t feel embarrassed, in certain social circles, for my level of enthusiasm over some silly piece of pop culture.

Meanwhile, I feel like work kicked into hyperdrive this week and looks to maybe be calming down, now that finals have actually started?  I have only two finals to sit with students this term, and will be spending the rest of my time doing some correcting and editing on student papers and doing some vocational evaluations.  All in all, for me, the next few days are relatively chill, which is welcome.  Coming back post-Arisia and having only casual/incidental student meetings and a single final to sit is far easier to handle while suffering post-con burnout than a full-fledged day of classes and training.

Tomorrow is my Friday, but hey, maybe for you, it’s just Friday Jr.  You’re still almost there.  You can make it.

 

Sleepy

Today, I am exhausted.  This is midterms season, and work has me beat, so no daily sketch today.  I know, I know.

However, in lieu of it, I wrapped up a micron drawing.

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I didn’t feel like cooking tonight, so my husband stopped for some quick food before heading home, and in addition to a small salad and some egg salad sandwiches (which I love; I can’t seem to make a good egg salad, for some reason, and our local grocery store make a great one), my husband picked me up a giant jug of pre-mixed Jose Cuervo maragaritas.  That, paired with some popcorn, was a nice little after dinner treat.

Anyway, I know I’m getting old because that one (single, solitary) margarita has knocked me on my ass.  9 pm bedtime, here I come.

Also, I’ve been reading The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan, who is a new-to-me author but is apparently quite prolific.  I’m really loving the book so far.  Has anyone read any of her others?  Are there any recommended follow-ups?

Tomorrow is Hump Day.  You’re halfway there.

Paint nights

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This one was very quick; I completed it in under fifteen minutes, while listening to my husband read Bear The Little Esrog before bedtime.  The shading on the stones of the planter feels very satisfying to me.  Less thrilled about the cacti, but I really leaned into the idea of a “sketch” while doing them — less refined, more the general shape and sense.  I some point, I really should invest in some good drawing pencils and a portable sharpener.  Probably about ninety-five percent of what’s wrong with my sketches can be attributed solely to my own lack of skill, but the Dollar Tree bulk supply of mechanical pencils probably aren’t the absolute best tools to be using.

I got suckered into spending the afternoon at my parents’ house by Bear, the master manipulator, which was not a problem (it was actually quite welcome, as they provide coffee and company after a day at work), but meant I got nothing at all done at home, and had to start dinner immediately upon setting foot in the door.

All I really want to do for the rest of the night is work on my micron drawing and think about my next painting project; after I get back from the con, I really want to use weekends to experiment with paints again, especially since I got a brand new set of acrylics for Christmas.  Acrylic painting is a bit too messy to break out every night after Bear goes to bed, but on a lazy weekend day, might make a good Saturday evening project.

Speaking of, I’ve actually been thinking I would love to host a paint night for some friends some day in the near future.  I should make that a goal for the coming months.  Buy some wine, make some appetizers, and invite people to bring potluck and alcohol, and we could either paint in tandem from one reference work, or each pick a subject near and dear to us.  How awesome would it be if it became a routine or tradition of some sort, even if it was like only two or three times a year.  I would love to give that I go.  I think I’ll have to put some further thought into it, but maybe once the weather turns nicer.  With a small enough group, we could even do plein air painting on my patio.

You survived Monday, the hardest hurdle of the week!  Breathe.  You got this.