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.

Quiet Sunday

The daily sketch:

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After yesterday’s sketch, where I used shadow incredibly sparingly, I wanted to try a sketch that used more drastic contrast, so I found a reference photo of a model in dark shadow and gave that a shot.  It didn’t turn out the way I wanted, but this is after two reworkings, and is a vast improvement over the sketch that was on the page when I first laid my sketchbooks down (I then returned to it after lunch, with a clearer head).  I’m beginning to realize that time and persistence are probably the two greatest determiners of whether or not a piece I’m working on will be halfway decent or not; I don’t have great fluency yet, but returning to a piece over time does, eventually, yield better and better results.  I think I’m going to find reference pics that will allow me to work on light/dark values for the next few sessions.

Today Andy, Bear, and I headed into Waltham to meet his cousin Janice, her husband, and their daughter while they moved her back into her dorm.  We met up at a small Thai restaurant — the kind of hole-in-the-wall with six tables and a storefront right on the sidewalk (step up off the curb into the dining room) — and had an enjoyable lunch.  Janice is an illustrator, and came bearing a gift for Bear, a book she had illustrated called The Little Esrog, which Bear received enthusiastically (for a kid his age, he is incredible gracious when receiving gifts… and he genuinely likes books).  We were late getting started on bedtime routine tonight and it’s a text-rich book, so we won’t be reading it until tomorrow, but Bear is looking forward to it.

Besides that, which was a worthwhile diversion I was happy to have had the chance to share in, today was frustratingly stagnant.  I dressed in gym appropriate attire for our lunch date (black leggings and a nice black-and-white tee), and then stupidly pulled on my boots before leaving the house, and didn’t realize it until I was literally walking down the interior corridor to the gym (luckily Andy and Bear were right next door grocery shopping, but still.  I was — and still am — incredibly angry at myself for such a stupid mistake, and generally frustrated that I didn’t get to have my workout today).

I came home feeling drained, but dragged myself through putting away groceries, cooking dinner, folding the week’s laundry, and packing for Arisia (all our clothing, at least; anything I wont need between now and Friday).  I’ve just been generally down and lethargic this weekend, just very low energy.

On a positive note, last night I opened Google docs and clicked on a few unfinished fanfics from last year.  Two of them I had been working on a bit in November and still had their general shape in my mind, but I was reminded of how silly, self-indulgent, and fun they were, and how I really should continue them just for the hell of it… and then I opened another one that I hadn’t touched since July.  Crowley-centric, in the Good Omens fandom, and something I had struggled with and absolutely hated every word as I commited it to paper (I had been reading a lot of GO fanfic at the time, and it felt like my prose just didn’t hold up to some of the amazing authors in the fandom)…

…But, oh my God.  It was so much better than I remembered it being.  For a first draft, not edited or combed through or revised, it was surprisingly sharp and focused.  It wasn’t the pinnacle of the craft, by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a solid piece of writing, and I can’t believe I agonized and self-flagellated so much over that story.  It made me really hopeful that I might actually return to and finish it, possibly after the con (there’s a GO panel I’m attending that I’m hopefully will rev up the fandom in me).

Oh, and the con is on Friday.  I’ll probably reinstall WordPress Mobile on my phone so I can post, at the very least, my daily sketches, but there may be a four-day stretch of little other than that.  I’m sure that comes as devastating news.

Hoping Monday is gentle with you all, with something enjoyable waiting for you at the end (for me, it’s a cup of tea, a 9 pm bedtime, and a stack of trashy magazines to read with my husband).

Under the Weather

The daily sketch:

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The curse of the Wonky Left Side strikes again.  I’m not even mad about this sketch, honestly; I don’t hate it, I don’t think it’s embarrassing.  It certainly isn’t stunning, but it looks like a young man, relatively proportionate, with appropriate (if a bit too sparse) shading.  Sadly, it doesn’t look a lick like the specific young man I used as a reference photo, which  happened to be Manny Jacinto, possibly one of the most beautiful men I’ve ever seen, if I’m being honest.  It’s a shame I couldn’t capture that.  Manny deserves better (and oh, am I going to miss seeing his face every week on The Good Place).

I’ve felt a bit under the weather today; got minimal chores done (not that the house is in chaos or anything, but I would like to keep it that way) and was just overall lethargic and unmotivated.  I did get in a surprisingly vigorous workout at the gym, finished up The Great Spring, and started work on my next Micron drawing (which I’m excited about), so the day wasn’t a total wash, but it was still less than I had hoped I’d get accomplished.

A friend of mine once told me her therapist recommended she limit her daily to-do list to only three essential items, and all I could think of was, well, how do you define “essential?”  I sometimes feel silly and self-indulgent (bordering on guilty) if all I’ve gotten done in a day is a drawing or a poem, but I know a lot of people consider a creative outlet or routine to be essential to their overall mental health.  It still feels somehow lesser, unless I’ve also, I don’t know, scrubbed out the tub or cleaned the oven as well.

There’s always something I feel I could be doing, and sometimes the more Things I Could Be Doing pile up, the fewer Things I Actually Do.  I don’t (usually) run myself ragged trying to fit everything in; I just fold.  I freeze up, I stagnate.  And as the clutter grows, my ambitions, my motivation, my momentum just shrivels.  It’s awful.

So I will take today for what it was — a decently productive day on the creative front — and not beat myself up over Things Not Done.  But I will have to tip the skills more towards the practical side of things tomorrow.

Hope you all have had a relaxing and/or productive Saturday, whichever you were most hoping to achieve.

 

Slam

The daily sketch:

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Not pleased.  I couldn’t resist the reference photo; I’ve got a soft-spot for these little wall-eyed doggos.  But here’s the problem with these delightfully chonky puppers — the chonk adds a number of shadows and contours that I did not map out prior to beginning shading.  So I blocked out the initial shapes: the squarish head, the triangles of the ears, etc, and then drew the left jowl, and then promptly began sort of shading as I went.  The fact that the reference photo was a black dog complicated things further, because there was very little contrast except for fairly subtle shadow defining boundaries between flubber rolls and droopy cheeks and whatnot.  So, as I’m sure is obvious by the mess that is the lower right side of his face, I didn’t have line/contour guides for anything besides the figure outline, and I was trying to contour through shading as I went along, and that went, um, poorly, and I frequently lost track of what exactly I was sketching/shading, or how it corresponded to the reference.  So, I know not to do that; even if those initial lines get erased or shaded over to add depth and shadow in the end, I do actually need to sketch out outlines and boundary lines for any contour rather that try to simply wing it.  For what it’s worth, this was about seventeen minutes, most of that just filling in the flat, dark patches.

After talking yesterday about my consideration regarding returning to poetry and my difficulties feeling comfortable finding my own voice, I went and revisited some of my favorite slam poetry performances via Button Poetry.

A slam poet I have never been and will likely never be; I may not know all the ins and out of my own poetic voice, but I know that slam has a dynamic cadence uniquely suited to performance, and my poems are much quieter, and work the best simply on paper.  I love listening to slam poetry because a good slam performance is just that — like a slam in the chest, a punch to the gut.  I have never listened to any of the poems below without bursting into tears.

I don’t write like this.  That’s ok.  But I really want to figure out, very specifically, how I do write.  I want to become comfortable enough with writing sans automatic and intense self-criticism that I have the room to actually explore my own style and see what works without being ashamed of how rough and unpolished my writing, fresh on the page, is.

Sigh, yeah.  So it looks like the daily poem thing is going to happen.  I don’t know if I’ll post them all yet, but I’m going to make a point to write them, whether or not they see an audience.

I wish, I wish, I wish I had this level of confidence:

(CW: Mental illness, disordered eating)