Missing Work

Today was the first day in a long time when I did nothing art related. Well, I’m doing a massive Reeves paint-by-number that my sibling-in-law gifted me back when they were downsizing in prep for their temporary move to Sweden, but nothing as “authentically” creative as my own drawing, sketching, or designing.

Part of that was time constraints; I had synchronous (video) classes today at 8:30, 9:30, and 11:30, with 10:30 being occupied by a trip to the school to retrieve some essential belongings. Being back in the building was bizarre. The hallways were all one-ways, with designated up and down staircases; half the classrooms were torn apart for the summer cleanings, so the hallways were packed with all sorts of classroom detritus, doorways to classrooms with newly waxed floors were hung with caution tape; signs and posters for upcoming events and club meetings that never got to happen were still hanging on the walls. It wasn’t “burst into tears” sad, but it was “dull ache deep in my chest” sad.

I’m glad I brought my keys as sort of a last minute whim, because when I got to the room I needed, it was locked. Opening it was like opening a little time capsule. Krissy’s umbrella was still hung up behind her desk. Stapler and paper puncher still on the table where Patty, Kyle, and I were sitting when news of the closure came in through e-mail. When I opened the cabinet where I usually kept my laptop and found it empty, I had a moment of panic until I realized, oh, wait — the day of the closure, I’d spent some time on my laptop, at the desk in the back. The laptop and bag were still propped against the filing cabinet under the desk where I left them, 11 weeks ago.

My mail box was empty, but my cap and gown had come in, for the graduation ceremony that would have been June 1st. The ceremony that I would have carpooled with Kathy and Patty for.

It’s weird, and I don’t think I realized it at the time, but man, what a difference it made just… seeing people’s faces? Only a few — they were tightly controlling the number of people in the building, and only at a distance — but just seeing other human beings in person, who don’t live in the same house as me? I’m not really a “social” person, I don’t make friends easily and I’m uncomfortable in most social situations that don’t have clearly defined rules and roles, and I have managed to completely take for granted how significant of a role in my social needs fulfillment that this job — full of people I’ve worked with for years in an environment and role that I know like the back of my hand because I’ve worked here for nearly 40% of my life — fulfills. How much stopping into a classroom and chatting about TV, or my son’s latest escapades, or school gossip, actually meant, how much it actually bouyed me along and helped me feel tethered to something.

Quarantine has not been bad, honestly. I am incredibly fortunate to be in isolation with people I love, incredibly lucky that I can do my job from home, incredibly privelleged that we have not lost income. But there are moments and days when I’ll think I’m totally fine, and then I’ll get a work email or see a video the kids put together, and I just lose it. I just utterly lose it.

I miss commiserating with people I feel comfortable with. I miss the kids. I miss sitting around the tables in the learning center and shooting the shit once the last kid leaves. I miss faculty meeting where all the teachers act like goofy middle-schoolers and our department head surprises us with donuts. I miss hiding out in the vocational office during a free block, or running copies as a favor to a friend.

But so it goes. We’ll see what the fall brings us. When I do finally find myself back, I know we’re going to celebrate. I’m looking forward to it… whenever it is.

Stay safe, sane, inside.

Selling Out??

I’ve started to slowly mirror my Art Gallery onto Artstation, to (hopefully) reach a wider audience, and to find professionals whose work inspires me. And, ideally, to maybe make a little extra money selling prints of some of my work. I know most of my stuff isn’t up to snuff yet, but I made prints of five works that I’m proudest of, and that I think hold their own as complete, individual works.

We aren’t scraping the bottom of the barrel my any means and I don’t want to make it sound like we are, but because of COVID I am losing my usual summer income, so I’m trying to find the potential for some passive income. I like having a financial buffer, and I definitely feel that way now more than ever. We will be fine without it, but I would still breathe easier with it.

If you have an ArtStation account, please follow me! I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the number of artists on there at the moment, and am feeling more than a little shy (which, I know, doesn’t bode well; sometimes I just take a little time to warm up).


Tomorrow, after much much wailing and gnashing of teeth (read: after rescheduling three whole-ass times because I can’t remember my own class schedule) I finally have a time slot to go into work and retrieve my belongings, one of those being my work-issued laptop (finally. Only three weeks before the end, too). I’m a little concerned that when I walk through those doors tomorrow morning, I might burst into tears, but c’est la vie.

Not much to remark on today, but I have some projects and plans for the weekend and beyond that I hope to share soon, so hopefully I can be productive going forward.

Stay safe, sane, healthy, and indoors.

Expanding Outwards

I went out yesterday for the first time since March 13th.

It was terrifying. It was also necessary,

I’ve now read a couple of articles from experts — one from CNN, one from PBS — about creating quarantine pods or “quaranteams,” expanded social circles during the time of quarantine. Essentially, if everyone is amenable, you all have about the same level of casual exposure, you all agree to socially interact with only the selected members of your “pod,” it might be time to expand your social circle to include a small group (under ten individuals total) outside your immediate family.

I’m still not sure I’m a hundred percent on that, though I want to be. My parents and the people in their house total seven, and all of them have about the same risk level as us (one person working less than 40 hours a week outside the house in a fairly isolated environment, with mask; grocery runs at supermarkets enforcing COVID restrictions; no other social contact), and experts say that’s a pretty low risk situation.

But it’s not a “no risk” situation.

But literally going outside is, at this point, not a “no risk” situation. So what do I do?

We went to visit my folks. All of us wore masks and maintained social distance (only exceptions are when my mom handed me a bag of stuff I left at her house, and once or twice when Bear reached out to hand her a flower he had just picked from her yard). It was nice; we all sat outside and the weather was absolutely gorgeous (65 and sunny), and seeing them in person, even though we couldn’t sit together, was a lot different than talking to them via Facebook video or on the phone. It was a good hour or so, and we got to talk and take in some air.

When it was time to go, it hurt my son to not be able to hug my mom, but he’s heard enough about quarantine and COVID lately that he got it, even though he wasn’t happy.

I want to expand our pod to include my family, I really do. I want my son to be able to hug his grandparents, I want to sit with my mom while we watch true crime shows, I want to unbox a brand new Hunt a Killer box face-to-face with my brother. I want my son to be able to spend a night at grandma’s while his dad and I get some chores done and have a quiet evening. I have been trying to listen and adhere to everything the experts say — I always wear a mask; we only shop every two weeks and we literally wash and/or unbox all our groceries as soon as Andy brings them home; whenever Andy comes home from work or shopping, he strips in the basement, and immediately showers — and now, experts are saying this might be a viable step. This might be something we can do while still staying safe, and it could do worlds of good for everyone’s mental health, to finally have some social interaction after months of isolation.

So why can’t I do it? Why am I so, so afraid?

(I know why I’m afraid. It’s a pandemic, and I have an anxiety disorder. But I have a lot of friends with anxiety, and several of them have already taken this step. I want to. I want to so, so badly).

This isn’t a now or never situation, I know. Maybe I’ll feel different in a week or two, or a month. But for now, as much as I want to, I still have to keep my distance.

But we’ll visit again next week, at the very least. Seeing them was good. Being in the air was good.

And I know someday things will be good again.

Tactile

Still working through some serious art block. I think I have an idea of something I’d like to draw, but I’m just not feeling it at the moment. I’m still doodling — wouldn’t even call what I’m doing sketching, honestly, it really is doodling — more or less nightly, and I’m currently attempting the #SixFanarts Challenge (check Twitter for a bunch of way, way more talented artists’ attempts at it), which is at least keeping me drawing. Still, not feeling particularly inspired on that front at the moment.

So I decided to go back to an old love, which is Sculpey, and decided to make some altered boxes.

These are just the tops, removed from the (Altoids) box for ease of construction and baking. The eye and stitched skin one went surprisingly quickly (the skin tones are all tints from an old Wet and Wild eyeshadow palette — a really great Dollar Tree find that I always keep in my Sculpey kits (if you’re making anything with skin tones, a neutral matte palette is so much better than mixing colored Sculpey; that also applies to baked goods, like if you’re making cookie or cake charms)). The fruit one, though, took what had to be at least two and a half hours because of all the individual pieces, but I absolutely adore the vibrant colors and am probably proudest of that one.

I don’t have a ton of other altered box ideas in my head at the moments (well, maybe one or two) but it’s really gratifying to be able to switch mediums when one just hasn’t been working out for me, especially after so long (been at least, I’d say, two years since I’ve touched Sculpey).


My family’s murder box (Hunt a Killer subscription box) came today, woo! So tonight after Bear goes down I’m pouring myself a big glass of wine, cracking open my Murder Book (yeah, I have a notebook that is specifically my Murder Book, for working on the cases), and getting on Facebook Video Chat to knock out another suspect with my mom and brother. Not the worst way to start the long weekend.

Tomorrow, masks on, we’re going to have a socially distanced yard visit with my family; it’ll be the first time I’ve left the house/been in the car/seen them since March 12th. I’m super high anxiety about it; I feel my chest constrict every time I think about it, but I’m afraid if I don’t take the measured, safe steps now, my anxiety will become more and more insurmountable (we’ll all be outdoors, masked, more than six feet apart (they have a decent sized yard) and we’re all fairly low risk for carrying it, since aside from grocery stores and pretty isolated office work, none of us have left the house in nine weeks, and we are all being super cautious; it’ll be fine. It’ll be fine).

I know places are starting to open up — too soon, but there’s nothing I can do about that — but stay safe and keep staying in as much as you can. This isn’t over, but if everyone actually did their damn parts and acted responsibly (I wish I had confidence in my fellow Americans acting responsibly but, honestly (and sadly) I don’t) it might be manageable for now.

Anyway. Stay safe, sane, and healthy, everyone.

Before & After & Dungeons & Dragons

I’m still fighting some hefty art block; I went from having a running roster of ideas at the ready to spending hours doodling and gesture drawing just to come up with something.  I know that I’m going about things the “right way,” i.e., actually sitting down and going though the motions to unblock myself instead of swearing off drawing until “inspiration stikes,” but it’s still frustrating.

That being said, I finally went down to the basement and grabbed my Inktober 2018 sketchbook, and, again — wow.  There actually wasn’t a ton of stuff in it analogous to anything I’ve been drawing lately, so I just took the two drawing that were full-face portraits and am comparing it to a drawing I completed last weekend, on Mother’s Day:

So… that’s encouraging. I still have a long way to go, but holy hell, did I come a long way already.


Today was a low-key day. I finished a drawing (which I’ll upload later), puttered around the house a bit, called my mother, and embarked on what is sure to be a journey full of ups and downs — started to learn how to play Dungeons & Dragons.

Bear has been asking my husband to teach him for the last few weeks. I’d like to say it was watching my husband run his own D&D and GURPS campaigns over the last three years (twice a week, from out home via Tabletop Simulator and Discord voice chat), but no. No, it’s because he’s overheard us listening to Dungeons and Daddies1 (not a BDSM podcast) for the last six months, and has decided it’s the coolest thing in the world. So my husband has essentially been shown up in the eyes of his son, by four fictional (and debatably competent) dads on a podcast very much not intended for children. I think we’re going to win an award for parenting some day guys, I really do.

The first stage of the campaign was character creation — Bear decided to be a Fighter hill dwarf (or “dwarb,” as he says) and I’m a Druid halfling named Veerle. Bear has apparently heard and retained enough of the aforementioned podcast that he began wildly casting spells that a. he cannot cast because he does not have magic, and b. did not apply in any way to the situation:

Bear: I Rage!
Me: You rage?
Bear: I Rage at them!
Me: You don’t have Rage.

Bear: I cast Speak with Animals!
Andy: You can’t. You have no magic, and there are no animals here.

Bear: I attack with a spell!
Andy: You… you have no magic. And there is no one here to attack.
Me: We literally just arrived in town. We haven’t even seen any people yet.

Eventually I just looked at my husband and mouthed “I cast Magic Missile!,” because I feel like playing with him is going to be stuck in a very innocent version of the Dead Alewives skit.

Sketch is from ’96 (I remember it from high school) but this animation is cute.

All in all we played for about two hours; Bear’s first time in combat, his first roll was a crit hit and he took great pleasure is describing how he cleaved a goblic clean in twain; I, uh, crit failed at least one of my rolls and by all rights should have been permadead, but we fudged the rules since I was the only other player and Bear didn’t want to play alone. He got a kick out of it and is looking forward to playing more tomorrow. It would be nice if this could become a weekly thing, but we’ll see how long this holds his interest.

Hope today was a day of some rest and relaxation. Stay safe, sane, and inside.


1 Highly, highly recommended. I often re-listen to it at night before I go to sleep, and I’ve woken my husband up laughing on even the n-th re-listen.

Busy Hands

I think I’m going to recommit to learning American Sign Language this week.  It’s been ages (I don’t even know how long, honestly) since I’ve gotten any practice in.  I stalled out at Lesson 13 sometimes in probably February and just haven’t gotten back to it.

I know a lot has been said, including by me personally, about not feeling pressured to be “productive” or to emerge from quarantine with a bevy of new skills in tow.  But my anxiety has been hovering around baseline (with a lot of restrictions on social media consumption), and if I’m in a headspace conducive to pursuing an interest, I might as well — I certainly have the time to fill.

Even though it’s been a while since I’ve pursued any ASL studies, I remember feeling about it the way I feel about drawing now: how strange and unfortunate it was that I put off practicing it for so long under the baseless assumption that I would be no good at it.  And not just “no good” to start — everyone starts out not being good — but never any good.  I had somehow convinced myself that I would never get any better at either skill, because I had this perception of myself as being uncoordinated.  Which, to be fair, I am; but there are different kinds of coordination, and coordination can be improved with practice.  Within a couple of weeks of starting sign practice, I was remembering and recalling signs, able to show some dialectical variations; I was actually learning.  I was getting better.

So I’m going to start setting an alarm for 2:00 pm each day, and take an hour or so to work on ASL.  My work is done for the day by then, and any chores I do with any regularity should certainly be out of the way by then.  Let’s get back on track.


Speaking of improvements, I recently unearthed the mini-sketchbook I bought from Dollar Tree back in 2018 when I decided I was going to try my hand at Inktober, and oh my God, is that sketchbook a revelation, let me tell you.  Again, I know I have a long way to go, but it’s amazing how, even with sporadic practice (it’s really only since December/January that I’ve made art/drawing a regular part of my routine) my art has grown in leaps and bounds.

I have three new drawings to upload anyway, so I think I’ll try to find something relatively analogous (in subject matter or composition) for each of those in my Inktober sketchbook to do a side-by-side comparison.  That ought to be good for a laugh.


I spent some time today working from a resource my husband uncovered on Twitter¹ called Croquis Cafe.  They have both a Vimeo and a photo reference gallery of nude models for gesture drawing, anatomy drawing, etc. and it’s really great.  I did a few sketches of their model Tamara and was happy with the results.  (Also, please notice the emphasis — the subject matter is entirely non-sexual, but it is still full nudity, so NSFW, if that’s relevant to you).

Stay busy, safe, and sane everyone.  My husband is picking up reusable face masks for us tomorrow, courtesy of a friend who made them for us for free (two each for Bear and I, five for Andy since he’s an essential worker).  I’m hoping this makes me feel secure and safe enough to leave the house to go for walks and get a little fresh air, since I am actually starting to get a little stir-crazy.


¹ I deleted and recreated my Twitter yet again, because I still don’t know exactly what I want to use it for.  I start doing Twitter writing challenges and amass a following of folks who are very much Twitter Writers, and then I lose interest and start posting about, like, DnD Real Play podcasts, and I just know they’re all going “WTF?” and meanwhile my reading list is just haiku and self-promos (which is an absolutely valid use of Twitter, but I’m definitely not the target audience).  If you use Twitter for a smattering of personal.creative things, hit me up: @milkandkerosene.  I have zero followers and like, two tweets at the moment.

Creative Break and Family Time

I’m itching to crack open my new sketchbook.  Why??  I have several pages — like, more than several, really, though I’m definitely running low — in my old sketchbook, but I’m aching to open and start in on the shiny new one.  Do a lot of artists have multiple sketchbooks going at once??  Are they frequently thematic, or sort of an “anything goes” situation?  I plan on using the pages in the old one; I stopped doing really thoughtfully planned pieces with a lot of reworking and started doing more illustration- and comic-book-style drawings, because they were good ways to practice perspective and anatomy without having too much of an emotional connection to the work (which always leads me to second-guessing, obsessive reworking, self-editing, etc).  I’ve also been doing loose, experimental perspective sketches, so I’m definitely still using the old book.  I don’t know.  I feel like not giving myself permission to open the book is akin to my old habits of hoarding art materials until “the right time,” but I feel like starting it now feeds into my habit of starting multiple projects and than slowly abandoning them, one-by-one.  Advice?


I haven’t done any real art in several days (though I might post a sketch I did of a “Disney-style” witch illustration I did, which I kind of like despite some fair anatomy issues, and a mermaid (for Mermay) that I feel similarly about, despite similar issues).  I’m waiting on my watercolor pad to arrive, because my son made an art request that actually I really liked — “I want a Queen surrounded by birds” — that I sort of instinctively conceived of as a watercolor, so I want that to be my next significant project.

Plus, you know.  I’ve had other things to do.

I’ve been feeling incredibly lethargic lately, so a couple of weeks ago, I ordered a fitness journal in an attempt to start tracking things again — not so much calories, per se, though I will note them if it’s easy enough (calorie counting drove me bonkers, it plays into my worst obsessive tendencies) — but just general accountability.  It tracks glasses of water consumed, what you ate for each meal, what you did for physical activity, how long and how well you slept, how you feel that days, and how you think you could do better tomorrow.  Around the same time I ordered it, I got an email from some coworkers saying they set up a Wellness Challenge, to run from May 4th (around when my Fitness Planner was set to arrive) to June 2nd.  It seemed like perfect timing.

When my Fitness Planner arrive Saturday, days before the Challenge was set to start, I decided it was a great time to get other things in order as well.  So, I flew through and got the house clean, reset all my alarms so I’d get back on an actual schedule (5:30 seems excessive, though, so I set them to 7 am), broke out an old binder to use as an organizational “command center,” and re-committed to actually having checklists, to-do lists, and daily purpose.

It’s four days in, and it’s working for me so far.  I’m doing a little housework each day, writing out simple lists of priorities each morning, and doing — at the very least, in terms of physical activity — the ab circuit and daily challenge for my fitness challenge each day.  Also, re: water — hey, did you know drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day makes you feel significantly less tired?  It’s true.  Weird how that works, right?


Having things in order also means I have time (and energy!) for other stuff.  A couple of weeks ago, my mom told me my brother (who lives with her) got a Hunt a Killer subscription, so when the box arrived two days ago, he forwarded me and my sister photos of all the documents in the box, and I got online and Video Called him, my mom, and my sister, and we worked on that first box for two hours.  It was a lot of fun, even though we finished the objective of the box pretty quickly (like within twenty minutes).  There was still so much to go through and decipher, and it’s been fun messaging back and forth with them about theories and things we’ve read on the forums, etc.  I wish I could work with them in person, but this is still a lot of fun.  And honestly, my sister almost definitely wouldn’t be able to join us in person anyway, so this isn’t so different to how we would have to arrange it regardless of the circumstances, if we wanted to do it as a team.

On today’s roster is trying to get a little exercise in (the goal is 25 min, plus the ab circuit), clean out the fridge, take care of the upstairs bathroom, watch some Gravity Falls, find a good book to read, and meet up with my family after Bear goes to bed for happy-murder-fun-times.

Hope you’re all taking care of yourselves and each other.  Find something to do each day that makes you feel good.  And water!   Drink water!  Apparently that’s important.

Daily Life and Daily Sketch Dump

Since giving up on my April Challenges (good on those who followed through!), I’ve gotten back to doing regular ink work, sometimes in conjunction with watching some tutorials, sometimes just one my own and off the top of my head.  These are not photographed for the gallery (I’ll take better care doing that some other time), but here are the as-of-now finished versions of my three latest sketches.

I completed the foreground the first sketch (the fairy) simply in order to test a few pointers I got from a YouTube video¹.  I opted to fill out the image today while on a conference call, since I still felt in looked a little sparse.  I could have been more conscientious about the shading on the flowers, but over all it was always intended as a “quick sketch,” so I’m not going to agonize over it.

Second drawing I did just as a quick study of hands, since they (and feet, and to a lesser extent, noses) are still the body parts that give me the most trouble.  I added the plant yesterday, and the roots, extra leaves, and quote today.  Again, for something that was sort of spur-of-the-moment, I’m satisfied (looking forward to breaking out those new microns, though; look at the weight behind some of those hatch lines).

Third one I’m just really, really happy with.  Figure and birds were drawn partially from three different references, flowers were free-handed.  Completed it yesterday in its entirety while listening to podcasts.


Bear has been having a difficult time, lately.  He’s up every night and in our room, something that had become a rare occurrence before COVID-19 and quarantine became his day-to-day reality.  He says he’s happy about being at home because he can be with me and play whenever he wants, but I can tell it’s hard for him.

We’ve been letting him out on the porch in the nicer weather; I hesitate to let him downstairs because it’s already difficult keeping him and his friend next door apart.  They started out yesterday chatting from the porch and her window, and then moved to her being in her yard and them both drawing with chalk together-apart (she on her retaining wall, he on the porch), when we noticed the volume of his speech getting quieter.  He and she had pulled their jackets up around their mouths like face masks and were trying to sneak into the yard together.  Something similar happened today, as well, but this time he had an intense crying jag after.  I don’t want to keep him inside, because I think that’s counter productive, but I don’t know what to do.  I try to be as direct as possible with him about the severity of COVID and the seriousness of the quarantine without scaring the absolute shit out of him, but he’s five.  Even though he’ll tell people he can’t play with them or that they can’t see each other because of quarantine (something he’s repeated to his cousin multiple times over video chat when Ben inevitably asks him when they’ll see each other), he just doesn’t fully “get” it.  Which is a blessing, in some ways, but a curse in so many others.

His teacher messaged me to set up a Zoom conference tomorrow at five with a few of his classmates, which I think will do him a world of good.  I asked him today what the first thing he’d want to do after quarantine ended was.  He said, “Go to school.”  I think he needs the face time with his teacher, if no one else.  He went from seeing her every day and giving her a hug before we left to suddenly not seeing her for, we told him, two weeks… three weeks… six weeks… not again until at least September, at which point she’ll no longer be his teacher.  I honestly mourn his ability to say a real goodbye to his teacher and classmates.  It’s the same way I feel about my Seniors.

I myself had a Zoom conference with my department today, and scrolling through the three pages of attendees faces literally made me tear up.  I’m not an especially social person, but I’ve always taken for granted how much of a social thing work is for me, and how far that went towards fulfilling my social needs.  With that gone, I’m sort of lost.

I’m hoping to get more art done today, but barring that, maybe some binge watching or some work down in the basement.

Hope you are all holding up and being kind to yourselves.


¹ I’m considering putting up an old-school “links” page, for things like my favorite YouTubers (ArtTube, BookTube, general entertainment), forums I frequent, podcasts I enjoy, etc.  We’ll see if I can get that done by the weekend.  That’s the goal.

Mini-GISH, April 25 & 26

This was not the epic, team-bonding, tear-your-hair out rollercoaster of the traditional, annual, week-long GISH hunt.  But it was a welcome, silly, doable distraction, and for once, I feel like my entries were reflective of the best of my abilities.

Having the hunt be one day — somewhat oddly, somewhat understandably — took some of the pressure off.  My standards, given the very, very tight time constraints, were lowered to something actually approaching doable, and I was able to be gentler with myself about what was actually possible to get done in a 24-hour span.  As a result, I actually completed more entries during the one-day than I did during the whole week of the annual hunt last year.

Of course, the tasks were easier, given the time constraints and the fact that literally no one can leave the house, but it was still a fun, creative activity, and it allowed my son and husband to get in on the action without too much stress as well.

Misha emailed earlier today and confirmed that he’d like to run another mini-hunt in the coming weeks.  Registration for this one was $15 and proceeds went to COVID-19 relief and No Child Hungry, so it benefits worthy causes.  If anyone reading is interested in possibly participating, check out the official website here.  While I am definitely interested in participating, I also hesitate to spend the money on another mini-hunt when the week-long August hunt looms closer and closer.

We organize our team via Facebook group, and since submissions are entered by the person who completes them onto the GISH site itself, we don’t all always get to see every entry, unless they are also uploaded to the Facebook group.  During week-long hunts, when people are aiming for something of a higher caliber (since it’s for points), often people will post variations on a challenge and ask for input or suggestions.  This year, with only 24 hours, less of that happened.  Here is a small smattering of what was shared to the FB group:

Post-GISH, I’ve been mostly sketching; I got my new sketchbook and my new microns, but have yet to crack open either.  The sketchbook makes sense, since my goal is to fill the previous one before moving on to the next, but the microns is just that old, completely counterproductive instinct to horde art materials.  Like, I don’t want to “waste” this ink on anything less than something stellar (which I probably don’t need to mention, is ridiculous).  Old habits die hard.  I still have some details work to add to my last three sketches, but after that I will likely share them here and then upload them to my gallery.

Hope you are all keeping busy and staying safe.

A One-Day Weirdness Oasis (plus some art)

Since dropping my two challenges, I’ve gotten my house mostly clean, started up a new project at a fandom wiki, and done two pieces of art, so overall, I do feel like I made the right call.

In the past I’ve used monthly challenges to force myself to do creative work, and while he challenge would push me to create stuff for a month, I would then go into creative hibernation for basically the rest of the year.  The last several months, I have been actively creative.  The challenges were great fun in getting me to conceptualize ideas and open up my mind to what could be art fodder (song lyrics!  What a fucking treasure trove of inspiration!  But also, simple things!  Women lounging in bed!  People gathered at a funeral!  It doesn’t have to be a sweeping and grandiose landscape, there is beauty in the mundane!)

While visual art has been sort of booming (or at least, not stagnating), I do have a lot of work to do to kickstart my writing habit outside the confines of poetry challenges.  I’m going to have to set aside some time everyday to just, I don’t know, free write?  Try to construct/compose a poem?  Put pen to paper, at the very least.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

But none of that is happening today, because today is the one-day, stay-at-home, mini-GISH!  I’ve talked about GISH in other iterations of this blog (which really isn’t helpful for a large number of people currently here, but long-time readers may recognize the name). GISH is normally a week-long multi-media international scavenger hunt combining bizarre challenges, acts of creativity, radical kindness, and general weirdness, run by Supernatural’s Misha Collins.  It’s one of the highlights of my year, and I’ve headed up my own team since 2014.  This year our regular hunt will be in August — whether or not the quarantine is still in effect, with items being modified for those of us still under quarantine — but this one is designed as a fully at-home hunt, with proceeds directly benefiting COVID-19 relief efforts and feeding low-income kids.  Kick-off is at 3 pm EST, and it runs for a full 24 hours; I’ll be able to share what we’ve completed by 3:30 pm tomorrow, so I hope to have some fun stuff to share with you all by then.

Until then, these are the last two pieces I completed.  I have severely mixed feelings about the drawing; I love, love, love the monstrous mouth.  I think the shading and coloration on it are wonderful.  I am upset by her head and face; I messed up on the mouth, and the lines for her hair were faint and I definitely outlined too “wide,” i.e., her head is bigger than I would have wanted it.  The biggest issue I have, though, is my cheap pencils don’t blend and don’t give the coverage I want,  I need to invest in wax-based pencils like Prismacolor.

The painting is not 100% complete, but I like the concept and am moderately happy with how it’s turning out.  Acrylic will probably never be “my” medium, but I feel like I’m getting incrementally better.

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I just want to end by saying, I know I talk about feeling the need to make “good use” of this time, and I want to clarify: we are experiencing trauma.  I know that, and I need other people to know that.  Everyone copes with trauma differently.  Keeping busy and doing projects make me feel better; they help me manage my anxiety, they make me feel proud and accomplished.

That being said, I will gently suggest that if you are mentally and emotionally capable of doing so, finding a hobby or a past-time to fill the time, simply because in my experience it makes time pass more smoothly and gives my mind something else to focus on.  But it’s not a competition.  You don’t owe other people “productivity” during this time, and maybe your new “hobby” is finally binging every show you always swore you’d “get around” to, or developing a five-star island in Animal Crossing.  That’s fine.  If that’s helping you cope, that’s wonderful.  But try to find something to keep you afloat; you don’t have to defend what that is to anyone.

Stay safe, stay sane, stay inside.