Art Projects · creativity

Art Project: Galaxy Ring

artprojectIt’s been an eternity since I’ve actually posted any completed art here, and it’s only partially because I haven’t been creating.  I’ve been working on some projects, albeit slowly and sporadically, but I’ve not completed many lately.

However, I have a few things I finished up a while ago and just never got around to posting.

First up, here’s a return to something I love, but don’t do a ton of anymore, and that’s upcycling.  The last upcycled project I completed had to be, uh, like six years ago, which, holy shit, is longer than I thought, but I was definitely in our old apartment and Bear wasn’t around yet, so yeah.  Jesus.

That time around, it was an old, rusted out decorative birdhouse that had been languishing and rusting away in my parents’ yard, and after a fresh coat of paint, some rub on appliques, and a bit of decoupage, it looked awesome.  This time, it was the broken pieces of an old pedestal ashtray.

20191111_124713.jpgMost of it was pretty broken down, but for some reason when they pried the ashtray base off, my father turned to me and asked if I wanted these two pieces, “to paint, or whatever.”  I mean, I probably need to start saying “no” to some of these offers of refuse, lest this become an Altoid tin situation¹, but I was pretty sure I had a decent idea for what I wanted to do with this.

My first thought was decoupage, but now that I’m no longer doing mail trades, scrapbooking, or thrifting the way I used to, I’m fairly limited as to my materials; really all I have are back issues of Cosmo, and that’s a pretty narrow range of thematic options to work with.  So I finally settled to straight up repainting.

20191111_130636I did all the work in craft acryllic (Applebarrel); undilluted black for the base background, and very thin wash of navy, blue, and white for the nebulae.  I also used a cheap children’s paintbrush with stiff plastic bristles to splatter the stars (in antique white), and then free-handed the planets (loosely based on those in our solar system).  I sort of wish I had a stencil for these , but I’m okay with the shapes for the most part (the exception being the ersatz-y Jupiter, which looks a little wonky).  I textured them with a round brush, using stippling, and a lot of layering with diluted paints. 

I finished it with a coat of gloss Mod Podge, and layered the two pieces to create the idea of planets orbiting the sun.  Sadly, when I actually assembled it, the hot glue I had on hand didn’t hold well enough, so I attached the pieces with nails… which sadly split the wood on the ring, but only on one side, so I don’t think I have to worry about it falling apart.  Still, I’m sad about the way the crack mars the project, which overall I’m very happy with.  This is going to hang in Bear’s room once the Mod Podge cures fully in a day or so.

I’ve got to keep my eye out for more things to transform, because upcycling is so crazy satisfying, to take something people have given up on and make it something people are, like, envious of (seriously, I got more comments on this project on Facebook than on any of my original art in the last year).

What are you all working on lately?


¹The nearly 50 empty Altoid tins my parents collected for me when I was doing altered boxes — which I keep meaning to return to, but haven’t yet — and are currently taking up a ton of space in my craft corner.

Blog Challenges 2019 · creativity · General Update · Life Updates · Personal · Uncategorized

Abandoning Inktober and OctPoWriMo

lifeupdateSo, both OctPoWriMo and Inktober were a bust, but for once, I’m not beating myself up about it.  Why?  Because for once in my life, I felt like the challenges were holding me down more than they were lifting me up.

I started doing art and writing challenges because I felt like I never had enough ideas, or because I couldn’t motivate myself to get started on a personal project, and events like OctPo, NaPoWriMo, NaNoWriMo, and Inktober gave me a structure and a deadline and generally held me accountable in very regimented ways.

But lately, I’ve noticed that while I’m still not the most consistent artist or writer (um, month long hiatus on this blog, hello?  This is not a surprise to anyone), I have nonetheless become a persistent artist and writer.  When I’m not faced with the frenetic pace of a work-a-day challenge, I’ve still, nonetheless, seen more follow-through in my efforts recently than I ever have before.

I am, currently, for example, working on two sketches (near completion) that I intend to watercolor (with two more still being conceptualized), and a piece of upcycled art from pieces of a broken, vintage ashtray stand, and I’m readying myself to power through three incomplete pieces of fanfic for NaNoWriMo this year (yeah, three different pieces, what can I say?  I’m a Rebel at heart).

And the best part?  I’m excited about these projects.  I get psyched up to work on them.  During the week and a half I tried to power through my two challenges, not only did I feel stressed about the pressure of completing a work-a-day, but I felt like it was infringing on time that could be spent doing creative work I was actually invested in.  I was starting to resent the challenges; they weren’t giving me motivation, or inspiration, or structure; they weren’t giving me anything.  In fact it felt like they were actively taking pleasure and enjoyment away from me.  Enthusiasm for art drained from me entirely the minute it became an obligation imposed on my by some external force.

How wild is that?  How eagerly my brain will latch onto a challenge when it’s not actively invested in anything else, and how vehemently it will reject it the moment that challenge conflicts with it’s own desires and ambitions.

Man, my brain is a fickle bitch.  God bless, eh?

Does this mean I’m giving up on challenges.  Oh, hell no.  I love the idea of having timed, themed challenges; but I think I need to become more attuned to what I really want to accomplish creatively and how any given challenge might help with that.  For instance, I already said I plan on doing NaNoWriMo — because I’m gung-ho to finish up several fanfics, and the atmosphere and camaraderie of NaNoWriMo might actually help with that.  I wouldn’t, for instance, try to do NaBloPoMo next month, because every night, when I sat down and spent my scant free time being forced to pen a blog entry, I’d be thinking of the fanfic I was not currently writing.  The fanfic is the project that is currently fueling an internal creative fire, and rather than risk extinguishing it in order to say Hey, I Did a Thing (I already know I can Do the Thing.  I’ve done it the last two years), I’m going to fan that flame for as long as I can conceivable keep it alive.

I hope to have a few (painted) works completed prior to November first to share with you all.  Hope you’re all finding as much joy in creating (be it within the confines of a challenge or not) as I am at the moment.

Art Projects

Art Project: Birds on Black

artprojectHere’s where my family really shines:  whenever I’ve gotten onto a particular art “kick” — crochet, collage, paper crafts, altered boxes, etc. — they have always collected, found, or otherwise procured all manner of ephemera for me to work with, which is why to this day, my basement and craft room are crammed with knitting needles and crochet hooks, empty toilet paper rolls, back issues of dozens of magazines, and empty cigar boxes and Altoids tins.  I’m not always able to use everything given to me, but it’s nice having a tangible sign of support, you know?

This time around it was the unexpected gift of several square black plastic plates — the ones that are “nice,” but also still disposable, you know the kind.  My grandfather had been picking them up at the Dollar Tree and giving them to my mom in numbers that she was absolutely never going to need or use, so she asked if I’d like some, “to paint on or whatever.”

“What would I paint?”  I asked.

“I dunno.  Flowers.  Or birds.  Or something.”

So that’s how I spent some of my time last night.

I figured, since I couldn’t use my preferred technique of a wet wash (I just don’t see how that could feasibly work on a non-porous surface), I would aim for a style that was slightly more impressionistic, and would work better with the thick layers and textures I would have to utilize to get the coverage I wanted.  These are three of the six plates I was given, and while they were a bit of a rush job, I was excited to try them out and sort of blasted through a few things.

I’m happiest with the bird perched atop the lilacs; more pleased with the berries than the bird in the final painting, and happier with the bird than the blossoms in the first one.  Overall, there are things I am very happy about with all three, and things that I am less thrilled with, but perhaps have learned from.

The biggest challenge was painting something without having a pencil sketch on an outline present (since you can’t really sketch on this kind of plastic.  Having to free-hand everything was difficult, but I’m pretty happy with how most of it came out.

I’ll take suggestions for the remaining three plates!  I enjoy painting birds, but would like to try something new.


If you enjoy reading my ramblings or keeping up with my projects, consider maybe donating a few dollars to my Ko-Fi.  Thanks!

Art Projects · Uncategorized

Art Project: “Choking”

artprojectPainting is a relatively new interest of mine, or at least, I’ve only actually been painting since January — I’ve been saying that I’d “like” to paint for ages now, but only in the last six or seven months actually taken the plunge.

I’m not very good.  Which I guess I should expect?  I’ve only been at it six months, I’ve had no formal training, I took a full month-and-a-half off to participate in various challenges, and it’s not like I have time to sit and paint for hours and hours a day.  I mean, it’s a skill to cultivate, not something I should expect to be awesome at right at the start.

And honestly, I’ve seen a lot of improvement over the past few months, just as I can see a lot of ways in which I still have to grow.

To make an effort towards actually becoming better, I’ve tried to focus on human figures, particularly faces and hands, as those are both favorite subjects for me to paint (I might have a bit of a hand kink, honestly?¹) as well as things that give me a lot of trouble.  I had an idea for a mixed-media piece in mind for a long time, and had been putting it off for a while for fear of, well, fucking it up, I guess.  I tend to build up projects in my head, have a very set, clear visual image of what I’m setting out to commit to canvas, and the fact that it so very, very rarely matches up means I procrastinate on the attempt in the hopes that at some point I’ll simply arrive at the level of skill and talent I’d need in order to do the project justice.

(Of course, you don’t get to that level without painting, but let’s not go crazy by bringing logic into this.)

So, given that I had time off this week, I finally made an effort.  And… well, it’s not nearly as good as I hoped, but it’s probably a shade better than I expected.

The proportions feel off, first of all, though that bothers me less than you might expect, and I’ll be honest — I’m proud enough of the way the hand turned out that she could Untitled design (1).pngproportionally look like a T-Rex, and I think I’d be a-okay with it.  Look, I know it’s not perfect, but that’s the best damn hand I ever painted.  I certainly wasn’t going to roll the dice and attempt a repaint after getting that on the first shot.  

I’m also incredibly pleased with how the background — which was a spur-of-the-moment, last minute addition turned out.  That’s a Dollar Tree stencil, by the way, and I am inexplicably proud of that fact, as well.  My camera does not take the best photos, so it’s less obvious here than looking at the painting in real life, but the metallic on black, and the busyness of the background does a lot to make the figure stand out, and I love that.

I’m less thrilled with (though not totally hating) her facial expression.  I had a very clear “look” in mind, a very visceral, panicked expression that I just don’t yet have the skill to capture.  As it is, she looks vaguely distraught, but also like maybe she’s wondering if she left the oven on??

The roses themselves I’m very pleased with — this is the second batch, after badly scorching the first (look, it’s been a while since I’ve used Sculpey, and may have mis-remembered the bake time/thickness ratio), though the pink ones are a little more, uh, vibrant than I would have liked (I’m going to try to mute them a bit with some matte pink eye shadow (which is awesome for shading Sculpey) before I seal them.  I still feel like the floral piece is a bit sparse (you can see small patches of canvas in the gaps between flowers), but that will be a project for another day.


¹I have the fairly idiosyncratic tendency to become very enamored with particular body parts, and they are never the ones that most people would guess.  Even in people normally considered unattractive, I have fallen head over heels.  See:  Steve Buscemi’s shoulders; Mackenzie Crooks’ hands.

If you enjoy reading my ramblings or keeping up with my projects, consider maybe donating a few dollars to my Ko-Fi.  Thanks!