Drawing Dump

A relatively small dump, but here are the three completed drawings I mentioned yesterday. They are also posted up over at my DeviantArt for anyone interested in following me there, I will likely do followbacks (if that sweetens the pot, ha).

I am settled it at my mom’s, getting ready for a second cup of coffee and an early lunch. I touched up these drawings, updated a few defunct links on my websites, cleaned up my DeviantArt a bit; we have Dateline on in the background, the A/C going, and all in all, I’m feeling pretty relaxed (or at least as relaxed as I’ve been able to get lately). Have some goals for the day, but the primary one is to chill for a bit.

Maybe some art will follow.

Take care, all.

Return to Form (in Some Form)

I want to post photos from GISH. I was actually quite proud of the items I accomplished this year — most of them were craft, writing, or art-related — but my team this year was quieter on the forums than usual when it came to actually sharing items, so I have far fewer images of our adventure this year than I usually do. I’ll try to tack some of my items, and some of my favorite items from my teammates, onto the end of this post.

I did, sadly, kind of wind up ghosting the last few days; I wasn’t sure anyone would even notice in the hustle and bustle of things, but my absences was apparently noticeable enough for one of my teammates to reach out and check in on me (which was really sweet, don’t get me wrong; it was a really kind gesture). I have not been mentally great the last few weeks, and the last two days have been the worst.

I’m trying to focus on the things I have control over — my art and my other projects. And as much as I’ve been on edge and riding high on anxiety lately, in the last three days, I’ve completed one painting and neared completion on four drawings. That’s more than I’ve done since April. It’s a return to the daily creative endeavors that I had been riding high on in the early days of quarantine, back when this all seemed like a good excuse to finally iindulge my creative side. I’m back to feeling like at least I’m not stagnating or standing still.

My district finally made a call on re-opening and announced a hybrid model; I’m terrified, but again, doing what I can, what’s in my control (in this case, calling my GP for a long-overdue physical and following up with a petition for a medical exemption (I’m hypertensive, and my wife’s HRT can surpress liver function). I’m pulling my son into full-online learning this year. I’m checking in with my mom everyday to make sure my family is still staying on an equivalent risk-level so I can continue to see them. I’m trying to get back into the habit of drinking water again. I’m trying. I’m trying. I’m trying.

Today was an awful mental health day that I spent yelling at my son for the most inconsequential things (I kept telling him he wasn’t the reason I was mad, I was just mad and sometimes that comes out as yelling — I know that doesn’t excuse it, but I was in a bad place and figured I should, at the very least, assure him it was me, not him, having a problem). Tomorrow I will be heading to my mom’s (after thoroughly interrogating her today about her activity since Saturday) with my laptop and sketchpad, just to get away from my house and my responsibilities for a while, while Kira tends to Bear.

With my doctor’s appointment scheduled, the mystery of what’s happening in September figured out (even if I don’t like it), and a return to creativity (and hopefully a return to a slightly cleaner home when I return tomorrow evening), and I’m cautiously hopefuly that I’ll start seeing a return to form again soon.

Stay safe and sane, guys.

The promised addendum:

Ringing Out #Pride

I’ve had murals on the mind, as of late.

I’ve had a lot on my mind, as of late; I’m sure I’ve mentioned it.

This is the crossroads of those two things.

A few days ago, my husband of ten years became my wife of ten years. Or rather, revealed she was my wife of ten years — coming out is about recognition and revelation of what has always been there, however deeply it may have been buried.

One of people’s first questions over the last few days when she’s been telling people she’s trans is for them to ask — either bluntly (as my father-in-law did) or with more subtle, gentle language — if she and I were staying together.

I mean — yes, of course. We love each other, and gender is incidental to me at best (my own gender being fairly ambiguous, and my sexuality being pretty flexible). Any fears or concerns I have — and I do have them, don’t get me wrong — are focused entirely on the cruelty and intolerance that others are capable of, not of my own feelings of attraction or affection towards her. The relationship between she and I, our own interpersonal give-and-take, has not changed. Will not change, at least not directly or dramatically from this, and at least not any more or less than any relationship shifts and changes over the years as both parties themselves grow, and shift, and change.

I cannot imagine not being in this with her for the long-haul. I cannot imagine her not being in my life.

And so, as Pride Month winds down, and my wife begins living her life authentically, I painted our closet doors with our Pride flags.

From left to right: genderqueer and bisexual (mine); trans and lesbian (hers).

The weather has turned from warm to hot; the typical summer thunderstorms have been rolling through all day, teasing a break in the humidity.

We’ve been invited to some social events — all outdoors, all socially distanced, all COVID safety guidelines compliant — and are hoping to get out a little more frequently with smaller groups of friends in the warm weather. I know there must be some mental health benefits to seeing people, and I know (intellectually) there are safe ways to do that, so we should probably make an effort. I miss the sun. I miss seeing people’s faces.

Stay safe, sane, and inside — or outside (masked and socially distant, of course).

Writing on the Wall

Well, not writing, strictly speaking.

I’ve been trying to overhaul the house. I get bored easily — with my personal appearance, with projects, with my house. I’ve changed up the former two multiple times since quarantine started — check out all my art projects, my to-the-skin undercut, my pink and green hair — so it was only a matter of time.

In lieu of bouncing off the walls, I’ve opted to paint them.

Done on a whim, with masking tape straight from the Dollar Tree, and Apple Barrel paints. The metallic gold clung a little too tenaciously to the tape so as I was peeling it off, it took a decent chunk of the triangle off with it. My solution to that is keeping the bottle of gold paint and a paintbrush nearby, and every time I think of it, brushing on some new paint. It’s looking better and better everyday.

Colors are Apple Barrel’s Black, Antique White, Pewter Gray, Nutmeg Brown, Chocolate Brown, and Folk Art’s Pure Gold.

More murals might be in my future, I think. I’ll let you know.

Stay safe, sane, and inside.

Tablet Update

The tablet work is hit or miss. The tablet itself is great; I move the pen, it goes where I want it to go. I feel so much more in control of my work than I did trying to do literally anything with the analogue mouse. I guess what more tripping me up is Corel, because beyond flat color and some basic text stuff, I actually have absolutely no idea how to use it. I’m thinking sitting back and watching some YouTube tutorials is going to be seriously in order.

I also don’t know if this is going, in any way, to replace analogue drawing, but it would be nice, as Andy has said, to be able to do art and not have to worry about my resources (i.e., I’m low on canvases, running out of ink, only have a few sheets of paper left, etc.)

I think I’m bothered by the fact that this has revealed a core truth about where I am that I’ve been trying to ignore, and that is that I need to step back from ambitious projects as my raison d’etre and actually focus most of my time on studying other people’s technique, do a lot of gesture drawing, do a lot of anatomy work, etc. instead of trying to produce a ton of polished works.

(Which isn’t to say abandon all projects all together, just that my time should skew more towards other things).

I’m done with work until, at minimum, September, and trying not to panic/have anxiety about what “returning” to work will look like (we aren’t ready to go back to school. There are 1,800 people in our building. There is no way we can comply with the guidelines that are being recommended. This would seriously be so disasterous. And my son goes to school in one of the epicenters (our hometown). He’s five years old, and there is no way that his teachers, dedicated as they are, are going to feasibly ensure that all the kids comply perfectly with safety standards. But if one of us goes back, the other is fucked, quite frankly. Ugh, I’m sorry, I can’t keep talking about this). In the interim, I’m going to try to even divide art time between working on projects and working on learning technique.

Because you all know how awesome I am at time management, right?

If anyone has any suggestions about good tutorial videos about either working with micron pen or working with Corel Paintshop Pro, that’d be much appreciated.

Stay safe, sane, and inside.

Breaking Through

As was evidenced the last time I was feeling art blocked, the worst thing I can possibly do is “nothing.”

So I’ve done some doodling (nothing I want to share at the moment). I’ve done some planning. I actually had a bit of a breakthrough last night while browsing Tumblr (after setting up my new art/ephemera/inspiration blog, @allyourcrookedheart) and wound up adding a few ideas to my Art Doc on Google.

And then I went and bought myself a tablet.

A Huion Inspiroy to be precise. I haven’t used a drawing tablet since my sister’s old Wacom back in 2001, but I figured since Andy bought me a Humble Bundle back in September that included the pro-version of Corel Painter, I might as well give it a shot. Even if I continue doing analogue drawing and scanning my images to color, I hate hate hate trying to do basically anything except basic web navigating with a mouse. I’m sure there will be a learning curve, but now is as good of a time as any.

So, here’s to gaining momentum; I seem to be my most creative when I’m staring down something new and shiny, so hopefully this will give me that jump start. Wish me luck.

Stay safe, sane, and 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.

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.