Stars

Today’s daily sketch, continuing the Week of Eyes (Day 2):
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I think I want to branch out to trying to draw eyes as they would appear in more exaggerated emotional states (anger, fear, intense sadness, etc.), but the tips from the previously mentioned tutorial are really helping me, I think.  I still have ages to go, but in time I think I might be able to draw quite realistic human eyes (the rest of the human form to follow… hopefully).

Today has been blessedly uneventful.  Last night, my father-in-law — who has spent the better part of his professional life in software, though he holds a degree in astrophysics — drove the 45 minutes down in order to take Bear out and show him the Orion constellation, so that he could see the unusual dimming that is happening with Beetlegeuse.  My son is interested in space and is aware of constellations, but this was the first time he’d ever gone out and really looked up — my husband and I know don’t know much about the stars, and living in a densely populated urban area, had more or less assumed that given the light pollution, any attempt at seeing anything recognizable (or anything at all, really) would be mostly all for naught.  But with my father-in-law’s help, Bear was able to go out and see a star that may very well go supernova at any moment, and my son seemed to find that pretty cool.

I stayed in during this lesson, partly to give my son time alone with his grandfather, partly because it was about 10 F outside, and partly because, as interesting and intriguing as I find space, I find it massively anxiety provoking — like agoraphobia on a cosmic scale, is probably the closest I can describe it.  It’s beautiful and awe-inspiring, and incredibly scientifically interesting, but also puts me in mind of how powerless and untethered I am in the vast scope of things and honestly, I don’t need that negativity in my life right now, ya dig?

Afterwards they came inside, and my father-in-law read Bear one of the Findus and Pettson books that are among our family favorites.  It was a pleasant evening.

I spent most of the day feeling like it was a Monday, though I know (and am glad!) it’s not.

Tomorrow is Friday!  You made it.


PS:  I titled this entry and then simply could not get this out of my mind:

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.

 

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.

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)

Poetry

As per usual, the daily sketch:

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Here is the proof that putting in an effort make a difference; I’m fast wilting now, but when I first came home from work, I had an odd burst of energy (might have been the cup of coffee I started brewing before I even had my coat off), and actually made a my-heart-is-in-it attempt at today’s sketch.  I’d estimate it took me between ten and fifteen minutes, which is comprable to yesterday’s time investment.  It’s funny, really, given that both sketches took roughly the same time, the difference in both objective quality and my attitude toward the drawings; I clearly do better work when I’m invested.  Anyway, I don’t think I fully differentiated the light and shadow values, but overall, I’m very happy with the sketch.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned, but I was born and raised in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where Robert Frost is a bit of a hometown hero (he moved to the city in 1885, after the death of his father).  Every year, the Frost Foundation in Lawrence, and the Frost Farm in (relatively) local Derry, New Hampshire each offer a poetry prize (1, 2) in his name.  I’m debating trying to compose something to enter; maybe even a number of somethings.

I defined myself, for a long time, as a writer, which is funny to me now, because I’ve definitely produced more visual art in the last year than writing.  I haven’t really had it in me to really “write” for quite a while.  Even during NaNoWriMo and OctPoWriMo, which are usually my most prolific writing periods, yielded almost nothing this year — a few hundred words on an older, extant story and five disappointing poems, respectively.

I’ll be honest, for a while leading up to this year’s failing, I had been wavering, from poem to poem, about whether or not I was any good at poetry.  I’d been writing it from as young as I could remember, and I know that I was good as a young poet, for a young poet.  I just think I felt like, more recently, I should have been further along in the development of my own style and voice, and I never quite felt confident in having done that.

It’s sort of the way I feel about art now, though I’ve been writing for significantly longer than I’ve currently been painting or drawing.

I do wonder, though, if those feelings wouldn’t be abated with the same sort of daily practice that I’ve been devoting to art.  Would that be too much?  Would that be ridiculous?  Too much on my plate?  There’s just so much about writing that I miss.  I miss going to poetry readings; I miss commiserating with other poets; I miss seeing my name in print.¹  I miss finding just the right word, and the deep, deep satisfaction that accompanies that small victory.  I miss the cadence of lyrical language.

Sigh.

Perhaps there’ll be a daily poem/vignette in the near future.

Let’s see how I feel in the morning.


¹Back in the day, starting when I was, say, 16, I would enter a poetry contest that the Frost Foundation held through our local newspaper (unaffiliated with the Poetry Prize, and meant, presumably, to make poetry more accessible).  It routinely got two hundred plus submissions, and aside from a single year, I placed every time I entered.  There’s still archived photos of my taken at the Tribune offices for my profile in 2010 somewhere online.  It wasn’t anything particularly prestigious or glamorous, but it was gratifying to know that people were reading your words, and that those words were resonating with them.  I would love to reclaim that.  I’d love to feel that feeling again.