The Shallow End – October 2021

SHOP UPDATE

The countdown is done! My Etsy shop is now open! I’ve got all kinds of prints and stickers, new and old, available in my shop! I’ve made little thank you cards to go with each order, and worked on cute packaging for my stickers! I’ve always enjoyed these little extra details, and I’m glad the relaunch gave me the time to work on it for my own shop! I’m so excited! Check it out!

A sticker! A thank you card!
ART

It’s finally October, so it’s finally #mosstober! I’m so excited to get to work in my new giant sketchbook! I will absolutely be doing a sketchbook tour when it’s done…but I’ve gotta get started first!

I’ve also been super obsessed with Domestika courses lately. Fall always makes me want to go back to school (even though I really don’t want to go back to school). These courses are a perfect happy medium. I’m terrible at doing the exercises (aka homework), but I’m really good at watching the lessons throughout the day! I’ve mostly collected courses on character design and illustration techniques, and I’m learning so much neat stuff! I’m hoping it shows in my sketching for Mosstober…

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m definitely working on developing more of a cute comic and cartoon style to my work. I’m having so much fun with it, but it’s definitely been a struggle to like, take the genre seriously, to take my goals seriously. Is it weird to want to draw cute stuff, to draw cartoon characters? It can feel that way, personally. Although I love the genre so much, and never judge other artists for drawing that way. I love their work! So I’m just being hard on myself. Fortunately, I’ve found that watching lessons on drawing and illustration from cartoonists and animators and character designers has been so encouraging. I’m not quite at the level I want to be at, but I think I’m really making progress, putting in the practice, and heading in the direction I want to go with my illustrations. Yay!

Hiking llamas!
NOT ART

It’s HALLOWEEN season! We started watching X-Files again (that later seasons are…not great…I remember why we stopped watching…). We fully switched from scifi movies to scary movies a full week early. Mostly to watch a few on streaming services that go away on October 1st (so dumb… but also I’m really glad we didn’t spend money specifically to see Insidious. Yikes.). I doubt we’ll watch too much else this month, except for soccer, of course. I’m so excited!

BOOKS

Oof. Books. Honestly, reading has been a struggle again lately. I just haven’t been able to focus on reading too much. I still have Cibola Burn, and I’m off the philosophy wagon (the joke being that I’m a “recovering philosophy student”). I picked up a few books on the philosophy of The Good Place (I miss that show!). But sitting down and actually reading them for more than a minute? Eh, not so much. It’s a bummer too, because I actually want to read them (and the small pile of “to-read” books that’s developing). It’s definitely something I need to work on this month. I think the only books I finished in September were comics. Which still totally counts, right?! …Right?!

Oh! I did start reading The Eye of The World again. The first book in The Wheel of Time series. I say “again” because I have started that book like three times before? I don’t think I’ve ever made it past the third chapter (still…) and I even donated my paperback copy in the move. But I saw the trailer for the new show, and it looks amazing. So I’m determined. Mr. Husband has generously shared his copies since he’s read them all. I AM DETERMINED. (Okay, so yeah, now we know the real reason I’m not reading lately…)

Thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

October?!?

Hello!

I haven’t done one of these in ages— a mid-month blog post! How exciting to bring it back! Yay!

I mostly just want to talk about how excited I am for October, and all the fun stuff I’m anticipating!

First up, my Etsy relaunch! It has been a loooong time coming, and I am so excited to reopen my shop again. The launch date is set for October 1st, and the great news is that I’m ready! I can’t wait to share it, and I thought I’d need every bit of September to prepare, but nope. It’s all done! Thanks past me for working so hard before the move… Once I got everything unpacked and found my checklist it turns out I really was super close to ready before we suddenly decided to move across the country! I thought about going ahead and opening the shop up early, but I really like the idea of a planned launch date. I think in the past I was pretty random about when and how I updated my shop. But now I really like planning and being more intentional in my approach, including a set launch date. So October 1st it is! I’m so excited!

Next up, Spooky Scary movie marathon! Every year Mr. Husband and I watch as many Halloween/Scary movies as we can. I used to kinda hate scary movies, but now I love it almost as much as he does. We have a spreadsheet of movies, and weekly categories or themes. I’m really excited that we’re doing “Best of” this year to rewatch some of our favorites again. There have been so many movies in the past that were so surprisingly good! So I’m definitely looking forward to it. In fact, we even started our own Scifi September movie marathon. There is a bit of overlap between the genres, so I think this our way to start Spooky Scary without actually starting it a month too soon. (We are super late to the party but finally watched Pacific Rim, and it’s sooo good! And Pitch Black was not great, but way more horror than we expected so that was interesting! Also, Logan’s Run…just…what?)

Last but not least, Inktober! I love a good drawing challenge and the idea of drawing everyday (something I struggle with). Previous years, I’ve created my own themes for drawings rather than work from a list of prompts as is traditional. However, this year I’ve decided I’m going to try to follow #Mosstober created by Mossery, a sketchbook and planner company. I was intrigued by their list of emoji prompts. Yup, emoji! I think starting with imagery instead of words in intriguing, and reminds me a lot less of college art class assignments, like “depict ‘ethereal’ by cutting up really really really expensive color paper and gluing it together like you’re in grade school.” Fun fact: I was terrible at it, and have terrible craftsmanship where X-Acto knives are concerned. I will never become a collage artist… Anyway! All that is to say, I’m super excited to try to follow along on #mosstober. As is my tradition, I bought a dedicated Inktober sketchbook, this time trying out 9×12 bristol paper. (Bonus challenge: working in a large format!) Admittedly its not a Mossery sketchbook, not sure if that is against the rules. But I did order a couple of their mixed media and paint marker sketchbooks separately that I’m super excited to try out, so I think we’re square… Also, I’ve been working on drawing in a new-ish style for me, pushing the cute, cartoony elements in my work, so I’m excited to use Inktober as a way to practice and experiment! Yay! I’m definitely planning on doing a sketchbook tour when it is finished!

Anyway, I can’t wait for October. Also, FALL! I don’t know what to expect where we live now, but some of the trees are starting to change colors, so I don’t think we’re gonna like, skip it. So I guess I’ll be spending the rest of September stockpiling ink pens, watching the trees do their thing, and eating a ridiculous amount of waffles and pumpkin butter…. C’mon October!

The Shallow End – September 2021

SHOP UPDATE

Oh my stars, it’s happening! I’ve finally submitted all the paperwork, setting up the business at the new place! Which means the Countdown to Relaunch is back on! YAY!

The goal right now is for my Etsy shop to reopen October 1st! I’m so excited! I will definitely be announcing when everything goes live!

ART STUFF

I’m still trying to make time for working in my sketchbook, coming up with new illustrations, learning new techniques, and making my comics. It feels like a lot but so far I’m doing okay keeping my time balanced between all the different projects. Admittedly the sketching gets done after work, or over the weekend. But it’s so fun and relaxing, so can’t complain. Plus, I would hate if drawing became just a to-do list item, and not like, you know, my favorite?!

Additionally, I got my studio something resembling organized, so I have plenty of space for work and to get ready on reopening the shop. For a while, the cats had kind of turned the room into their designated nap area, so they aren’t too excited to share now. But they are managing just fine, I think…

One of the cats with a moose stuffed animal on the couch. 😍

I’m hoping I’ll get to do something like Inktober this year (the daily drawing challenge in October). I usually come up with my own theme, but I haven’t decided on one yet. I would love to finish it and turn it into a little book, but that seems like a giant project for maybe another time. But wouldn’t that be neat?! I think it is so cool when other artists do that. Hmmm.

NOT ART STUFF

So in my last newsletter I talked about Love Island. Apparently I didn’t specify which one. Definitely the UK version. I didn’t even think about the other ones! Oops! (Sorry Mom!) Still watching, think there is about a week left? There is about a week delay in streaming to the US, which means I’ve totally read spoilers because I’m weak and can’t handle the drama of this season…

Also, I can’t wait until October for our month long Halloween movie marathon! I mean, I’ve loved every bit of this summer (okay maybe not the new-to-us next-level humidity of the South, but everything else). I was outside like every day enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. But now I’m so looking forward to blankets and sweaters and candles and scary movies. Yay!

BOOKS

As a last hurrah for summer I finally read Beach Read. I’m a sucker for a good rom-com! This one was just okay though. Well written, interesting set-up and story, but I just didn’t love it. Oh well. It happens. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great. Eh.

Now I’m back into The Expanse series, after that mini-break for something a bit lighter. Cibola Burn! Anyway, I’ve just gotten into it, and so far so good. We’ll see! Part of me is like, maybe this book will be chill and just follow the characters on like a happy little mini adventure, but then I’m like, that’s not really a story is it? So, yeah, it’s gonna be a mess… I can’t wait! Haha.


Thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

The Shallow End – August 2021

After realizing last month that I most want to work on comic art, I actually made the adjustments to my work routines to reflect this shift in priorities. I’m doing the work!

I’ve started making new webcomics with my original characters. My goal is a new comic every two weeks. It’s slower than before, but I don’t want to rush it since I don’t have to. Quality over quantity, right?!

I’m still practicing manga drawing a bit. It’s all about exploring comics/cartoons/graphic novels. Learning from the genres and figuring out ways to incorporate the style in my illustrations, beyond strictly webcomics. It’s something I think I naturally gravitate to anyway, but now I’m trying to be more intentional about my studies and practices and how I spend my time. I think I tend to re-evaluate every few months or so, to make sure my work still reflects my goals. This just seems to be one of those times again, but I’m grateful for it.

My latest illustration! The Astronaut Bath!

Hopefully, eventually, I’ll find a way to naturally incorporate physical media in this journey. For right now, it’s been easier, and more satisfying to work digitally. I’d love to be able to watercolor and ink comic illustrations, but I’m not quite there yet! Long term goals are important too! 😉

It would help if I ever got my art studio space set up again, post move. (That’s not supposed to be a long-term goal!) We’re basically all unpacked, but my studio is a mess! Eek! I just don’t know how to organize the space yet. I had it set up one way just to get unpacked, but I’m thinking I’ll need to move everything around now that it’s all in there, so I can actually use the space for things like painting and printing my work. I can’t wait to share like a dedicated studio tour, but for now I have a few pictures of the wall hangings, because I at least love the way that part looks! So much art from some of my favorite artists to keep me super super inspired! Yay!


Otherwise, I’ve started watching a bit more anime. I started reading My Hero Academia, originally as art research and liked it, so I tried the anime. It’s a lot of fun! I think I like the show better, or at least they are so similar, I stopped reading the manga since we were already watching so much of the show. Interestingly, I started reading One Piece too, and I couldn’t get through the first episode! I definitely like the book better right now. Funny how that works.

Also, and this is a big deal — Love Island is back!!! Haha! You may not remember but last year I watched it for the first time and became obsessed! Well, now it’s back and it’s sooo good! I wasn’t sure I’d like this season, since that cast was so good. But nope, I’m hooked again and totally have a favorite couple, and provide daily recaps to Mr. Husband (who does not care at all, btw). It is still totally ridiculous cheesy summer TV but I love it. It’s better than the Bachelor, I promise! XD


So, I finished reading For the Winner, the Greek mythology inspired novel. As it turns out, I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would by the end. I still think it was beautifully written, but I realized there wasn’t as much character development as I would have liked. It felt rushed at the end too. Bummer. Still good, but not great. I picked up Daughters of Sparta to read next in the genre. It seems to be another Iliad retelling, alas (I want original stories please!) But I’ll give it a shot (aka it was on sale)!

I was also able to finish Abaddon’s Gate (Book 3 in The Expanse series) recently too. I had packed it during the move, so it had to wait. It’s dense though, I didn’t mind a bit of a break. I loved it though, and can’t wait to start book four! I love that it has such a balance between seems-at-least-plausible interesting science fiction world-building, and compelling human stories. I’m a sucker for a good space opera!


What are you reading and watching this summer?! Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

The Shallow End – July 2021

So, we finally got our stuff! No more sleeping on the floor, no more living out of a suitcase! Yay!!!

I expected that once we got our things, I’d jump back into my old routine, get my paperwork in order, and open my shop again…

Yeah, that hasn’t happened.

I am working on unpacking everything, including getting my studio space organized and set up. It also turns out that the steps to getting my business set up here are fewer than before, but are also more tedious. I’m not looking forward to getting started on that project, now that it seems more complicated than I expected (why is it not all online?!?). Ugh. Hopefully I can get it done soon, now that the unpacking is nearly done. And once that happens, then I can get my shop open again! Wish me luck!

In terms of my actual art, I’m still making sure part of my days are spent drawing. I know its easy for me to get distracted by other stuff on my to-do list, so that the creative work gets set aside. But I’m trying to find better balance to do both.

Most recently I’ve been working on figure drawing again, using manga illustration techniques as a jumping off point for my own style. I was working on improving my ability to draw people last summer, and I’m glad to be back at it. It is definitely not a strength of mine, but is important to improve for the work I want to be doing.

Because the more I think about it, the more I realize (or I guess, remember) the kind of artist I want to be. And it always comes back to comics. There is something about the art of comics, manga, cartoons even, that is so captivating. I feel best about my work when it features the inky line work and bold visuals typical of comics. I think it used to feature predominately in my illustrations, not just in my actual comics. But I think in the last year I got so excited about trying new media, techniques, and styles. That is a good thing to be sure, and I always want to be learning! But I think I had forgotten the kind of art that I love to create! Oops! I mean, if thats the kind of artist I dream of being, I suppose thats the kind of art I should be making!

A little illustration I worked on during the big move!

I guess that said, I should probably start creating actual comics again… I took a break to develop a cast of characters to feature in my weekly comics. But that project has totally stalled! I have my characters designed, but maybe I’m nervous to start using them? I guess I’m worried I’ll run out of ideas. But that is silly. I should at least use the ideas I have now! So maybe somewhere in my work to-do list of business stuff, and things to practice, I can sneak in “hopefully weekly comics” again!

Outside of work, we are loving our new home and the new scenery!

I’m starting to get back into a fitness routine again, which makes me so happy. I genuinely love it. But also its probably a good idea since the rest of the day, when I’m not unpacking, I’m working from the couch and watching all the sports! The EUROS have been insane, Wimbledon is exciting, MLS is going (although living in Eastern Time is killer for those West Coast matches!) I tuned into a bit of Olympic qualifying for track, and I’m trying to watch more baseball sometimes. I did watch the documentary Long Gone Summer, about McGuire and Sosa’s race for the home run record. I remember following it as a kid from St Louis, so it was a joy to watch and relive, plus I learned so much to that I had missed as a kid. Highly recommend!

Also, Taskmaster is brilliant television (and its on YouTube!). That is all.

On my bookshelf, I’ve been reading Grady Hendrix’s work — My Best Friend’s Exorcism, so fun! We Sold Our Souls was good, but not as good (mostly because I don’t anything about heavy metal, so that’s on me.) I have his Horrorstör queued up too, but it is set in basically an IKEA and I think I’m already traumatized from building so much furniture as it is.

I’m reading For The Winner by Emily Hauser right now. I’m a sucker for Greek mythology, and this one is not yet another Iliad retelling (thank goodness). It is about Jason and the Argonauts and Atalanta, and I’m really enjoying it so far, it is so beautifully written! (I also don’t know a ton about their stories either.) I think she has another book available, so I’ll probably seek out that one next too.

Yay for finding new authors I enjoy– makes it so easy to find my next books!

Hope you are having a great summer! Thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

The Shallow End – June 2021

A Really Big Update!

Its been a while hasn’t it?!

In my last newsletter, in April, I was all hyped about planning my Etsy shop’s big relaunch and update. And I still am super excited about it… but it is not ready yet. I mean, it was mostly ready. Prints were created, photos nearly finished, everything progressing really well…

But then we moved! Across the country! To a city we’d never been to before! Just because!

So, now THAT is the really big update!

Goodbye Midwest! Hello Southeast!


My job quickly became packing or donating or throwing away all the stuff we have acquired over ten years in our home. It was A LOT. Eventually I had to pack my beloved art supplies too, including everything I had prepped for the shop.

I still tried to make some time for art, as best I could. I picked up a few courses on Domestika — one on Posca pen illustrations, one on watercolor and gouache illustrations, and another on character design.

I found I could easily watch a lesson or two after packing for the day, and work in my sketchbook with a selection of Poscas, colored pencils, or in Procreate. I was able to bring them with me during the move too. But the rest is still packed, so I’m saving the painting course for when we get our stuff at the new house!

While I was on hold with work, I thought the courses could give me a sort of direction for my sketching. I like the assignments, and they are helping me push my work to be a bit more illustrative, having a bit of a story to them. Creating my comics and characters has really pushed me in that direction already, but I’m hoping I can start incorporating in into the rest of my art as well.

So I created this little guy while working on the Domestika course for characters. The class is more about branding and product design with characters. But I used the course exercises as a jumping off point for my own project – a full illustration instead. I was initially inspired by the “mermay” instagram art thing that I don’t really know much about…I cant decide if its a “cali-koi” or just a “cat fish.” Hmmm.

Since I have no idea how long it will take our stuff to deliver here, I’m definitely grateful for the supplies I’ve got right now. I figure my days will be spent drawing in my sketchbooks or in Procreate. Either working on the courses I’ve started or developing ideas for the NEXT shop update (assuming I get to do the first one!)

I also now have the super fun task of setting up my business in a new state. I’ll need to get that all set up before my shop update. Yaaaay…But from what I can tell so far, it looks way easier than it was where I used to live. So yay!


While it certainly seems like my days recently have been all about moving, all the time, I have found some time for hobbies. We followed the end of the Premier League season. We just started watching tennis again with the French Open. Oh! I finally found a sport I just won’t watch — competitive tag!? I’m usually up for watching any sport at least a little. But it turns out I can’t watch people play tag on TV. Who knew?

I also realized that I have a sort of ritual for the start of summer – watching a baseball movie! I don’t watch the sport much as an adult, but I still love the movies I grew up watching. Usually I know it is summer when I’ve watched The Sandlot, in early July. Maybe since I’m now in the Southeast, where it is already a bit warm, I found myself watching Field of Dreams this weekend and was like— yeah I guess it is summer now? So exciting!


So that got me wondering — how do you mark the start of summer? Is it the pools opening? End of the school year? Does it depend entirely on the weather? All of the above? Something else completely? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

The Shallow End – April 2021

Hello April!

Shop Update

The Countdown to Relaunch is officially on!

I’m still trying to carve out some time for other projects and sketching. But honestly, I’ve had nothing BUT time to focus on that stuff for the last year. So I figure it’s probably okay to temporarily shift focus to getting my shop ready to re-open…

Overall I’m making pretty good progress, I think, on getting everything ready for May. I can’t wait to share the selection of prints for relaunch, the little details I’ve planned for packaging..and hopefully it all photographs really well too! (Fingers crossed and camera set to auto!)

I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying this structure of dedicated time to create, and now working on this shop update. I know the pandemic kind of forced me into working this way, but I think it’s definitely one of the habits I’ll probably keep in the “new new normal.”


Art Stuff

I’m still trying to keep some balance and not neglect sketching for weeks while I work on my shop. I did a ton of drawing this last week in my sketchbook, and am still working on my webcomics.

Although lately I’ve been thinking I might want to create a sort of world for my comics, with recurring characters and some settings, to make it more cohesive (without being a single narrative). I’ve noticed most of the comics I enjoy are set up that way…hmmmm….

So, I’ve got a lot of ideas and have something like a plan for my stuff, which is largely why I’ve done so much sketching lately. And think it could be really cool. But I’m not sure how to make that transition… like, should I take a break from my current webcomics until I get it all designed for the new stuff? Do I just jump in with what I have and develop as I go? …I don’t know. But I guess I’ll have to decide soon!

A super sneak peak from my sketchbook!

Not Art Stuff

We’ve started watching Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt so I’ll Max Out Defense…again… I think we watched it this time last year too. It’s still so good, and it’s nice to get a break from our usual — The X-Files and The Amazing World of Gumball.

We’ve also started watching our way through the “Conjureverse,” because I’m apparently now one of those people that will watch horror movies all year long?! What?! (We’re supposed to watch the second Annabelle movie next, and I’m just like…why?! How can there be a sequel?! or prequel?! why?!) It’s so dumb. But so fun.

Lastly, I’ve fallen down the studio-vlog rabbit hole on Youtube. Sometimes it can be a little isolating not having coworkers, and I’m not really a part of an artist community. So watching other artists share their processes, experiences, and journey has created a sort of illusion of comradery. Like, “hey I can totally relate to inexplicable printer problems, the excitement of new paint colors, or wondering how to fill a sketchbook! How neat! It’s not just me!” Sometimes I get tempted to try to start my own vlog, but…I think I’ll stick to writing…


Books

Books? What’s that?! Just kidding…but haven’t been reading a ton lately. I’m kinda sorta re-reading Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies again, for the pep talks. I haven’t read Abaddon’s Gate in what feels like ages. Oops. Oh well. It happens.


So I think that’s everything (which seems like a lot to me?!).

Thanks for joining me in the shallow end!

Countdown to Relaunch!

Trying out a new header — what do you think?!

Hello!

It turns out there is a light at the end of this tunnel — that there may not be a second year of quarantine after all?! Yay! And in my daydreaming of life post-vaccine, I’m starting to make plans to reopen my Etsy shop! Yay!

…I have a lot of work to do to get ready…

With that being the case, I thought it would be fun (or at least interesting?) to go behind the scenes as I’m planning for a sort of re-launch of my Etsy shop!


Step one: Going through ALL my past work, and ALL my work from the last year to figure out what I want to include in my shop…The good news is that there is a lot of it. The bad news is that there is a lot of it. Admittedly in the past I had the approach of “is it finished? then list it!” which was…fine?… But now I’m being a bit more picky, and sort of curating everything into a more cohesive selection of prints. So figuring out that selection is step one! <<< I am here.

Step two: making prints! I have about twenty or so new illustrations that I actually need to turn into prints! It’s not too hard, but a little tedious to get everything scanned and/or formatted and sized. It’s always exciting to print new stuff, but it’s also pretty loud. Since I’m sharing the office with Mr. Husband, I’ll need to work in smaller batches, maybe even just nights and weekends. Not a big deal…If I really feel like multi-tasking, I could send art to the printer while I’m playing video games…hmmm…

Step three: I want to curate some of my older prints into mini-themed-bundles! I have a lot of recurring themes and color palettes, and I thought that would be a fun way to provide coordinated prints. And while I don’t normally do sales, since I try to keep everything fairly affordable anyway, these will probably be on like super-sale. Probably.

Step four: photographing my work. This is honestly my least favorite step, and definitely something I need to improve on. In the past I’ve done either cute staged props OR good lighting, not both. But I think both would be good? So, that will be…interesting! Currently I’m thinking of using some simple black and white props and frames, so the colorful prints really stand out. And I think I have a window picked out for solid natural light. I’m just going to have to be patient…and maybe take the glass out of my picture frames… because fighting with glare and reflections is no fun!

Step five: the (theoretically) super fun part — packing and shipping! Previously I was using (and spending too much money on) cardboard backing and plastic covers for all my prints. That’s a pretty traditional way to do it, so it worked for me too. However, I really really really want to move away from using so much plastic. Besides, when I order art, personally I never keep it in the plastic to display it anyway — I either hang it up on it’s own with like push pins or clips. Or I frame it. So, I’m hoping to figure out a way to package my prints in a way that protects them in storage and transit, without relying on plastic covers. Is this possible!? We’ll find out! …I’m also considering recycling cardboard for keeping mail sturdy (why was I not doing this before?!), and picking out some cute tissue paper and goodies for packing orders. In the past I was very focused on keeping the artwork safe, but now I want to make it a little more fun too. So, I’m really excited about this step!


I think that’s everything!? I suspect taking photos will be the longest and hardest part, but I also think I’ve got plenty of time. Right now, I’m hoping that I will be able open my Etsy shop back up by the end of May. So not super soon, but not that far off either! What is time anyway?! I will definitely be making announcements as we get closer, both with a special blog update here, as well as on Facebook and Instagram. Stay tuned!


Do you have any ideas or suggestions for my Etsy shop 2.0?! Want to share your exciting post-vaccine dreams?! Let me know in the comments below!

The Shallow End – March 2021

Original Photo Credit: Ed Robertson / Unsplash

Hello March!

This last month I’ve been focusing a lot on productivity– making time to do all the different things I want to work on in my art. Big projects, fancy sketchbooks, practicing new techniques, etc… Lately I’ve adopted a bit of a schedule, balancing different projects throughout the week and splitting my day between one thing in the morning and something else in the afternoon. It’s helping me stay focused and keep a balance between ALL THE THINGS. So I’m pleased with how it’s working!

Interestingly, I’ve prioritized digital art for three days a week, and traditional art for two. I don’t think I want to abandon watercolor painting and ink drawing, but honestly I’m finding digital art way more FUN right now. So I’m just leaning a bit more into it, because why not?!

As a result, I’ve been spending some time learning and practicing with Procreate. I love it so far, and see why it’s gotten so popular! I’ve been working through the book: Beginner’s Guide to Digital Painting in Procreate by 3dtotal Publishing. The tutorials aren’t perfect, but have definitely taught me a lot so far! It’s stepped up my color and lighting work SO MUCH already!

Made in Procreate! I used a photo from Norbert Toth / Unsplash as a reference for this composition so I could focus on technique.

I don’t know that I’ll use this style all the time moving forward, but I’m excited to have the option! Yay learning!


February was action movie month in our household. It was originally just a Valentine’s Day tradition, but we decided to expand it to be more like our Halloween movie marathon. Our favorites included Commando– classic Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wheels on Meals– early Jackie Chan comedy, and Hard Target — ridiculous action with Wilford Brimley easily stealing the show from Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Oh! and we watched Stop, or My Mom Will Shoot with Sylvester Stallone. It was AWFUL. Just absolutely painful. Do not recommend (just watch the trailer)…BUT, since the rumor is Schwarzenegger faked interest in the script to get Stallone to take the lead, it’s basically the funniest prank ever.

Wut.

As for books, I finally finished Caliban’s War, book two in The Expanse series. So good! I’ve already started book three, Abaddon’s Gate and I am hooked! My goal is definitely to finish the series this year…assuming the series is finished?? Either way, it’s nice to have a series to focus on. Makes it a lot easier to figure out what to read next.

I’ve also started reading some graphic novels again, including some for younger readers (after enjoying Lumberjanes so much last year). I recently finished Sentient by Jeff Lemire. It was about deep space travel, a ship’s AI taking care of the children onboard. It was super dark and violent, and I think there is only one book so far, but I still liked it — the art was awesome, and I’m intrigued by the world building and story. But it didn’t really end with a cliffhanger, so maybe there won’t be a book two, now that I think about it? I don’t know, I liked it. Not something I usually read, but it was well-done.

On a much lighter note, I read Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez. It reminded me a bit of the Hilda graphic novels — gorgeous art, and a ton of whimsy. I was just starring at the pages and the artwork. And the story is charming and clever and explores creativity, so that was a lot of fun, and was suprisingly thought-provoking for a kid’s book! I think there might be a sequel, and I’ll probably pick it up soon!


Thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

Maps & Diagrams

Original Photo Credit: Ussama Azam / Unsplash

Sometimes I procrastinate because I don’t know what kind of art I want to make.

Sometimes I procrastinate because I don’t think I’ll be able to make the art I want to make.

And sometimes it looks like I’m procrastinating, thinking about what kind of art I want to make, when really it’s a pretty important part of the process, and not procrastinating at all.

It seems counter-intuitive to step away from the making of the art, to just thinking about the art. But I’m learning that now and again (read: not all the time!), it’s super important.

In a way, it’s like checking the map and making sure I’m still heading in the right direction. In this metaphor, consider shiny new art supplies, techniques, and inspiring creators as various features on the map. They are very important, very distracting, and very much not the destination…I think…?

So, lately I’ve been “checking the map.” I have a general sense of direction that has been serving me well, for the most part. My, uh, leisurely, pace has avoided burnout, and I’ve learned all kinds of new and exciting things, some of which I’ve even brought along with me now (like, abstracts and gouache). But now it’s been time to get my bearings.

I took a lot of time this last month to really study where I’m headed, what I’m working towards. My goals haven’t changed, but it was more just making sure I’m on track to even get there…

I was sort of taking inventory on all the art media I use — how do I want to use my watercolors, gouache, inks, and colored pencils? What is the role of digital art in my work? That kind of thing. For instance, I realized that while I love that I have learned how to use gouache, I still prefer my watercolors, and would rather gouache play a supplement role. It turns out that the style I was using gouache for, looks better to me when done digitally. And that’s okay! But I had to really study and think about it to figure that out.

I also reviewed some of the main sources of inspiration and main learning resources for my art thus far. I kind of assumed it was a single circle Venn diagram — that I want to make art that looks like the art I really like. It seemed obvious. But as it turns out, I like a lot of different kind of art and artists. And there are really two different circles — there’s a lot of art out there that I LOVE but doesn’t look anything like the kind of work I want to do myself. And that’s okay! …I was getting so frustrated comparing my work to some of my favorite artists. I would really like something I’d made, then look at art I admired, see that they didn’t look anything alike — et voila — clearly that meant there was something wrong with my work! I am a failure! …Yikes!

Now, instead of asking myself “how do I do THAT?” I’m asking the much more generous (and interesting!) question, “what about this piece would be really interesting to LEARN from?” It’s not about copying anyone’s work, but trying to be much more intentional in how I learn. “THAT” gestures wildly is not nearly as helpful as “well, I love the shading they used…if I tried more defined shading, maybe my work would pop in a similar way?” YES!

This was not a simple process, reframing my approach to my work. “Checking in” on the road map this time was involved and I made it kinda tedious (so many lists! mini-essays! (why?!)). But honestly, I’m so glad that I did it. It was worth taking the time. Because for the first time in a LONG time, I’m not really procrastinating at all. Because I know where I’m at, and what I want to work on moving forward. (Fun fact — it looks a fair bit like the work I made when I first got started. But, maybe a bit evolved? Is that pretentious? Or just progress? shrugs)


Sometimes, like now, I’m just making the art.

And procrastination is just refilling my coffee and spending five more minutes on a puzzle before getting to work, and not contemplating (and being overwhelmed by) the art world and my lil’ place in it… Whew!

One of my newest illustrations. Isn’t it CUTE?!