The Shallow End – December 2021

Hello December!


Art

100 figure drawings in 30 days was ambitious… I think I got a third of the way through, but that included a lot of small scribbly pose ideas that weren’t really gesture drawings or very helpful. I quickly realized this was a quality over quantity issue, needing better structured practice, like hand studies, and expression practice, so that ultimately I can draw complete and detailed characters. I’ve definitely improved, being too embarrassed to share the early work. But its getting better! I think I’m getting better at the technical side of drawing characters. Now I struggle a lot with ideas, creating interesting poses and branching out from drawing everyone in sweats or flannel… But I’m working on it! Still practicing, and so looking forward to feeling comfortable creating interesting characters for my future illustrations!

As always, its hard to find balance and structure in my routine, between comics, illustrations, and sketchbook practice. Making sure I have time for it all. But the good part is that I enjoy all of it and I’ve got the time! I think…


Not Art

I started playing Animal Crossing again in November. (Suddenly it is no longer a mystery why getting my to do list done each week was a lot harder than normal… Oops!) I finally burned out again around Thanksgiving, when I proceeded to play Skyrim nonstop. I played so much, I was grateful to go back to work that Monday after. But honestly, it was so fun to play again after years!


Books

I finally got to new chapters in The Wheel of Time! We started watching the show, and I knew just enough to be very confused. So that gave me all the motivation I needed to read more of Eye of the World finally. I don’t love the show, admittedly. I get why they are making a lot of their creative decisions, but I just don’t agree with them. Mostly the way they handled the beginning (since I know it sooo well) and character motivations. But I can’t even be like “the book is better” because I don’t love it either and certainly haven’t finished reading it. But I do love fantasy, so I’m intrigued enough to stick with both.

I also read Magpie Murders last month. I think after rewatching Knives Out I was like, I need more mysteries in my life. So I tried Anthony Horowitz, having read some Alex Rider books growing up. And it was very like, cinematic, in the way he writes (I believe he writes for TV too). So it was a lot of fun and I’m super excited to read more mysteries now! Yay!


Thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

Mosstober 2021 Sketchbook Tour

Finally! A new sketchbook tour!

This sketchbook was for the October daily drawing challenge generally known as “Inktober.” Normally I come up with my own theme for the month, but this year I decided to try the prompt list provided by Mossery for their version of the challenge called “Mosstober.”

Set Up

I thought emojis would be fun as inspiration, and I wanted to work on drawing cute, simple drawings, since that was what I had been focused on so much recently. It’s not intuitive for me to draw that way, but I really like it, and I thought it would be an interesting way to approach the challenge. I also wanted to use a larger sketchbook than I normally gravitate towards — this was a 9″ x 12″ Koh-I-Noor sketchbook with smooth Bristol paper. I sketched in mechanical pencil, for each drawing. Inking was done mostly with the Sakura Graphic 1 ink pen, but I also used the Pentel Arts brush pen in black, and later started using a gray version as well. White was sometimes added in with the Sakura Gelly Roll white pen.

Thoughts

If I had to do this challenge again, especially focusing on simple, cute, almost kawaii-style drawings, I would definitely not stick with blank and white. Color is such a big part of what makes kawaii art so cute, and it felt like an extra challenge to keep it monochromatic. I had to use the white and gray inks, just to keep things readable. In one way, I liked the challenge to approach value very very carefully. But on the other hand, some drawings just look sooo weird, because they don’t have any color.

I also got so tired of drawing what felt at the time like a lot of food themed pieces. I struggled with getting so literal with the prompts, and coming up with new ideas. I think that shows, especially in the later pieces, or on drawings where I missed a weekend prompt and had to catch up two or three in one day. I probably could have planned ahead a little more, but I’m used to just “winging” it for Inktober, and not following actual prompts. I think if I do it next year I might brainstorm general ideas for each day in advance and so on the day of the drawing I can just focus more on the drawing itself.

I also struggled to stick with the kawaii element of the challenge. Eventually I started getting a bit tired, and I know one day I just drew absentmindedly (probably while watching a soccer game), and was like “shoot this isn’t cute at all.” I still like it, but it’s not kawaii! Oops. Not a big deal, and if there was ever an experiment in how do I draw when I’m not thinking about it, I think it’s safe to say I know the results…

All in all, I learned A TON from Mosstober. I’m so glad I did it, even if it was super challenging, pushed my art and creative skills, and didn’t quite turn out the way I hoped. I still had so much solid practice, learned a ton about my current strengths and weaknesses (I learned I still struggle with figures (poses, expressions, etc.) so I’m working on that a bunch now!). I loved getting back to working in ink too! I definitely want to do more of that in the future! And now I have a super awesome dedicated sketchbook to all things Mosstober… let’s take a look!

Sketchbook

Day One

I realized very quickly that without color I was going to need to do something to make it more detailed and not end up with just super simple line art. Shading and textures were a way to add interest while keeping it cute.

Day Two

I like this one. After day one, I started thinking about how I could to use ink to create interest in my composition.

Day Three

Isn’t he fun! I’m so impressed! Haha. I just had fun with this one, and started incorporating the white gel pen to help keep the composition readable.

Day Four

One of my favorites! I love all the little detail in this one! And I have very little practice drawing cute characters, so I’m very proud of her watermelon dress.

Day Five

I don’t love this one. Drawing four legged animals isn’t my strength. But I tried! I like the flowers though, so that’s something.

Day Six

I love this one! He’s so neat! (Although I was so mad when magnifying glass came up later as an actual prompt, I was like, “nooo, I already did that! And it’s awesome!”)

Day Seven

This is when I remembered it was October too, and wanted to draw something with a Halloween focus. Making this detailed composition clear in black and white was a challenge, but I think it turned out well!

Day Eight

It’s me!

Day Nine

Another black and white challenge but I like it a lot! And I’m super excited about their backyard movie night. Robot vs Dinosaur!

Day Ten

I liked working on this one. I just liked the idea of it being a very slow day at the popcorn stand.

Day Eleven

Yikes. I don’t love this one. I focused more on the scooter, and abstracted the kimono to represent Japan (Mt. Fuji in the background). It just seems very messy and I just don’t really like it. I dunno.

Day Twelve

Friggin’ magnifying glass. So here we have to detectives in love. Because why not?

Day Thirteen

I like this one! I wasn’t sure which would be better – solid black boat, or solid black water. I obviously went boat, and I think it worked out okay! Whew!

Day Fourteen

This one makes me laugh every time.

Day Fifteen

Oooh, I hate this one. I just got my ink brush pen at this point and it was much darker than I expected. Also I tried to draw a rabbit differently than I did on day one. Still not great.

Day Sixteen

This would be so fun in color! I really liked drawing all the candy elements for this old witch with her gingerbread mailbox.

Day Seventeen

I love this one. I feel this one.

Day Eighteen

Again, I remembered Halloween. Spooky scary petit fours. Yum!

Day Ninteen

A chicken sandwich felt morbid, but it was all I could think of… until I thought of this guy.

Day Twenty

More food. This time food I didn’t know anything about. So I just used the three circles as inspiration, and…yeah, I don’t love it. It’s fine.

Day Twenty-One

I LOVE THIS ONE. It isn’t very kawaii or cute, but it’s super cool. If I do say so myself.

Day Twenty-Two

Yeah this isn’t kawaii at all. It’s very much how I draw when I’m not thinking about it. It’s…okay. I like the pastry. (Also, I guess that emoji is used for the Eiffel tower since it doesn’t have it’s own emoji yet?)

Day Twenty-Three

Heh.

Day Twenty-Four

I’m clearly starting to give up. I don’t know how to draw dragons. This was the best I could do from imagination…

Day Twenty-Five

I’m definitely running out of ideas. I mean it’s cute…I’ll give it that…

Day Twenty-Six

A koala eating the moon, like a cookie. It looks less cute and more tragic. Like he knows he shouldn’t be eating THE MOON.

Day Twenty-Seven

Egg dog. Yup, I’m losing it…

Day Twenty-Eight

Okay, I tried a little more detail and having fun with the prompt. I kinda like it!

Day Twenty-Nine

Penguin bowling! This one was actually fun, and I enjoyed adding a bit of detail to it. Plus, I like penguins!

Day Thirty

I really like this one too! I think I used black and white really well here. Yay!

Day Thirty-One

The finale! I LOVE THIS ONE. Like, I’m still proud of it. It’s detailed, cute and very kawaii-style. Like, about time! I did it! Yay! (Why couldn’t they all look like this?! Oops!)


So there it is! My Mosstober 2021 Sketchbook Tour! Which one is your favorite? And do you like the kawaii-style (like the ghost or the steampunk man), my original style (like the Eiffel tower), or the pumpkin (which was something else completely!). Personally I really liked working on kawaii drawings, and developing that as an option for illustrations in the future, but the style of the pumpkin might be my personal favorite for exploring in more detail. That inky comic-book look is just soo satisfying! …Let me know what in the comments below!

The Shallow End – November 2021

Hello November!

SHOP UPDATE

In case you missed it, my Etsy shop is open! Check it out here if you haven’t already! So many different kinds of prints are available! Abstracts! Animals! Landscapes! Still life! And more!

“The Fall Hills”

And while it feels far to early to be thinking about the holidays, it really kind of isn’t… unfortunately it seems reasonable to probably anticipate delays in most shipping services this year, so my advice is to plan ahead if possible. Not just for my shop, but all of ’em!

My next shop update won’t be until after the holidays. I only have a few new illustrations right now, so I’m focusing mostly on learning new skills and creating more new work. I’ll definitely keep updating on progress, but right now the goal is early January!


ART

Mosstober is finished! I shared a few of my early favorites on Instagram, but I will be sharing the complete batch of drawings in a sketchbook tour later this month! It was a very interesting challenge — I wanted to focus on kawaii-ish art, which I did. But I also did it exclusively in black and white, which normally the genre is very color focused. I didn’t think about that…which made it extra challenging…and eventually I just kinda lost the plot and well, you’ll see…

My latest webcomic was a seasonal one-panel comic. I loved the poolside Summer comic, so I was really excited to work on one for Fall and Halloween. It didn’t turn out as well as I was hoping, but I’m still overall pleased. I recently picked up a bunch of new brushes and textures from True Grit Texture Supply, and I just HAD to use them, right?! I love the look of classic comics, so trying to bring that into my work was so fun! But I definitely have some practice to do. I’m not used to seeing so much texture in my work, and there was such a learning curve in building tones with CMYK, that I couldn’t handle shading. But it was still a fun experiment and hopefully I’ll get better at it with more practice!

SO. MUCH. TEXTURE.

Speaking of practice — for November, I’ve decided to create a new art challenge for myself. Maybe it’s already a thing, I don’t know? But the goal is draw 100 people in 30 days. After doing Mosstober, I realized the sort of gaps I have in my “visual library” (aka things I know how to draw). I know I’ve mentioned it before but I would still like to be able to draw people. An as it turns out, I still haven’t done the work to learn how to draw people, so I still don’t know how to draw people. Go figure.

I mean, I learn how to draw cute little chibi cartoon people this time last year, so I feel pretty comfortable drawing that now. But it’s not always how I want to approach figure drawing, you know? Like, I’m glad I can do it, but I don’t want it to be the only option. I really want to learn how to draw stylized characters, and have been working on that a bit this last month. But it’s hard to stylize a person when I still don’t quite have the fundamentals down. And I refuse to believe that I need to go all in on realism and anatomy. Instead I’m gonna try to brute force this and finally learn the thing in a way that works for me. And then I can go back to learning how to stylize characters successfully — the thing I actually want to be able to do…

How I currently draw + what I want to learn = uuuuuhhhhh….

Sooo, I’ve got a Domestika course on figure drawing from imagination, and another on stylized character design that I just am too impatient to wait to watch. So I’m hoping the combination and a ton of actual pencil to paper practice this month will work! Wish me luck!


NOT ART

The Halloween movie marathon was a success! We branched out into a lot of different subgenres of horror, and watched a movie nearly every night! Yay!

We also started watching Staged on Hulu. I don’t think I could have watched it any sooner (as it is very much about the pandemic), but I’m so glad we’re watching it now. It is so well done! Absolutely love it!

To enjoy the fall colors at our new house, we took a long road trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway! I learned the East Coast mountains are legit (this is a revelation as someone who grew up much closer to the Rockies). I also learned I am not a photographer. But it was so pretty! The leaves are starting to change now in our backyard too, which is exciting! I’m curious next as to what kind of winter-like season we’ll get in this part of the country (although just more fall is okay too!)

Look at that view! 🤦‍♀️

BOOKS

I’m still reading The Wheel of Time book. In that I keep it on my Kindle and read a chapter every few weeks. That’s the best I can do. I’m determined still…but only kinda.

I did start reading Kings of the Wyld, because I do actually want to read a fantasy story. It’s been on my to-read list for a while, and I started it on an evening I just couldn’t with Eye of the World (Wheel of Time). I’m only a few chapters in, but so far it’s really interesting and I’m actually enjoying it!

I started reading graphic novels again recently too! I finished Paper Girls finally. It’s sooo good, and I think the art and colors may be some of my favorite ever. I started reading them when they came out, but remembered being really confused by Volume 3. This time I read it all together and it wasn’t confusing at all, there’s just a lot that happens in six volumes! But it didn’t feel rushed, and was just so good! Next up is Hellboy that I don’t know anything about but the artwork looks incredible too, though very very different from what I normally enjoy. I’m excited!

(And yes I’m still reading The Expanse series. These books are massive. I swear I have a whole stack of other books I’m waiting to get to, but like, when?! They hinted at a book shortage and I believed them! So I’ve got all kinds of books queued up! I guess I need to get reading!)


Thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

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!