The Shallow End – February 2021

Original Photo Credit: Ed Robertson / Unsplash

Hello February!

So, on the one hand, I’ve managed to successfully get back into my weekly routine after taking a bit of time off for the holidays. It’s been really nice, and comforting to know what my work day is going to look like in advance, and setting small daily goals…

On the other hand, I’m struggling with how to incorporate a new (secondary) sketchbook habit into that schedule. You’d think I wouldn’t lack for time, but somehow I can only seem to work on big projects, and small doodles in my regular messy sketchbook. Adding a themed sketchbook sounds a lot like a big project now that it’s in front of me. I know the hardest part of starting a sketchbook is starting a sketchbook, but dang, it’s not usually this hard. I’m just going to have to just dive in eventually… I did listen to one of the latest episodes of The Laura Horn Art Podcast, which happened to be about working in sketchbooks. It was super encouraging, so I’m hoping that will help me get started!

Otherwise, it’s been mostly the same old same to my start of the year. Working on paintings, practicing drawings in my sketchbook, and making my weekly web comics! Normally I’d also be planning my “big” business goals for the year as well…but, obviously that is darn near impossible right now… Honestly, the easiest way for me to stay motivated right now is to focus on those small daily goals, and letting that be enough! Not just for my art and working, but for just about everything. Just one day at a time!

So, I’m proud to say I beat Immortal Fenyx Rising! I’m still trying to finish all the puzzles, but I completed the story! A rare feat for me! The hardest part was making one dumb jump up a series of pillars — but it probably took twenty minutes! When it comes to video games I have basically no depth perception. When I would play old World of Warcraft dungeons and put up a solid fight, I’d get stuck trying to jump across a lake…every. single. time! But that said, it was still a lot of fun.

I’ve also been watching Mr. Husband play Yakuza: Like a Dragon. We were new to the franchise but it is SO GOOD. Easily one of the best games I’ve never played (haha) but I got completely hooked watching him play through the story! It’s like a really funny, super nerdy, soap opera. Absolutely love it!

In other news, while I’m not someone that just browses Youtube, I just have a few channels I follow. One of which is Jenny Nicholson. She recently released a two and half hour review of The Vampire Diaries show. I never watched the show, but I definitely watched all of the review. Was it a good use of my time? Probably not…Was it entertaining? Absolutely. And I now feel like I’ve seen the whole thing!

Also thanks to Jenny, I started reading The Forbidden Game by L.J. Smith (creator of Vampire Diaries). It’s a super ridiculous, super 90s…thriller, I guess? Basically, a group of teens are trapped in a board game facing their deepest fears. But also (of course), the game is being controlled by dreamboat demon guy that has been in love with the protagonist for-ev-er. HA! It’s a complete mess, but an absolute gem! For someone who now loves campy horror movies, I don’t know why I’ve never considered the literary equivalent, but it’s fantastic. I definitely have to take breaks and read something else in my current reading pile (like, still working my way through Caliban’s War), but it is a treat to be sure!

Thanks for joining me at The Shallow End!

Book Review: The Artist’s Way

Original Photo Credit: Sincerely Media / Unsplash

I haven’t done a book review since college (so definitely not recently!). But, I figured if I am going to read and talk so much about The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, it may be worthwhile to take a closer look at the book now that I’ve (finally) finished it!

If you aren’t familiar with it — The Artist’s Way is a 12-week guide to fostering creative living. Cameron argues that we are all capable of creativity, in our own ways, and walks through methods for developing that creativity within us. Note, I found it it was written truly for everyone, and not just career artists, and encourages all kinds of art forms, not just like, traditional fine art.

So, I was vaguely aware of the title, as it shows up in just about any search for art books. But I only started reading it because it was recommended in Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies, which if you aren’t new here, you know is one of my favorite books ever now. Also, there was a little blurb on the cover from Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic (so good!). So yeah, after that, I was intrigued…

I went with the library’s ebook version, which worked fine. But it does seem like creative books are all in high demand right now, so I could never hang on to the copy very long, would have to return it, place a hold, and wait for a copy to be available again. It’s not efficient, but it did work. But I’m not sure I recommend it… that said, I’m also kinda relieved I didn’t buy it instead.

Honestly, I just didn’t love it.

So, each week has a series of artists tasks, including journaling prompts and small projects to foster creativity. Overall, her two essential practices are morning pages, and the artist date. Morning pages is writing three pages of journaling first thing in the day. And the artist date was a challenge to go and do something fun and inspiring for your “inner artist/inner child” just because.

What I liked:

So, I liked the morning pages, in theory. But I followed the “spirit” of the task, as three pages in a normal sized journal with my handwriting took a full hour (it’s supposed to take about 20-30 minutes…). So I quickly started just setting a half hour timer for writing. I found it easy to wake up early and write at first, but by the last few weeks, I was struggling to hit even 15 minutes. Admittedly I already have another journal, so it felt like having two wasn’t really beneficial, but if you are out of the habit of journaling, I do recommend it.

As a fan of journaling already, I did like the artist tasks that were writing prompts about creative interests and processing feedback on creative work. But, my favorite question was probably the “what would you secretly do for a living, if you could do anything?!” I mean, it’s not exactly a ground-breaking question, but it was fun to consider and my answer surprised me.

What I didn’t like:

A large part of the book felt very intentionally vague to me, like a prosperity gospel for creativity. If you believe you are made to be creative and our creator wants you to create then you can create and should create and it will be great! Um, I guess there are worse messages about creativity, but I guess I don’t need it to be persuaded to follow my creative dreams. I’ve never considered that a matter of faith or spirituality? So, yeah, that was just…weird. Because it wasn’t just that you will be creative, but you will be a SUCCESS. It’s a nice pep talk, but I wouldn’t hold her to it. After all, as a filmmaker, her biggest success is this book franchise…sooo…

I also think so much of the book was focused on convincing people to BE creative, that it didn’t really explore creative block as much for those who are already unabashedly creative. And it certainly didn’t address professional creatives. After a while, it was a little frustrating to read so much about finding these deeply hidden creative passions, rather than how to explore our creativity in more depth. Not saying she doesn’t address it at all, just not in anyway that left a big helpful impression.

I also don’t recommend working through this book in a pandemic. It’s not her fault, but the artists date was largely about getting out and finding inspiration out in the world doing fun stuff. EVERY WEEK. I felt a little called out when she was like “are you just WaTcHiNg A mOvIe?” Um, yes? Again, it’s not her fault, but I stopped bothering with the artist date after two weeks… so I can’t say how much that helps, because I just didn’t get to do it.

So there you have it! I hope this review is helpful!

Side note (and maybe I should do reviews on them as well?) but I found Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and Amie McNee’s For the Procrastinator much more helpful for encouraging general creativity and finding inspirations and working through creative block… they also don’t need twelve weeks to get through!

If you do want to see more book reviews like this, be sure to let me know in the comments!

The Shallow End – January 2021

Original Photo Credit: Ed Robertson / Unsplash

Hello January & Happy New Year!

As weird as last year was, I tried really hard to cultivate and stick to a weekly routine. But honestly, it’s been pretty nice to just rest the last few weeks. And while normally I’m encouraged to sort of “hit the ground running” this time of year, I’m honestly looking to just ease back into my routine when I’m ready…

One thing I am looking forward to working on is starting a new themed sketchbook this month. Taking a bit of a break from creating so many finished pieces, and focusing just on playing with ideas and different media to start this year. I’ll definitely share it in a sketchbook tour when it’s done!

Not watching a ton of TV lately, except for X-Files, of course. Mostly playing video games — Immortals Fenyx Rising is a blast. The puzzles stress me out, but it helps that it’s funny, reminds me of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (my favorite!), and I’m a sucker for Greek mythology.

In the last month, I’ve also become one of those weird people that actually enjoys working out? I’ve been trying to make time to move around and keep active since this last summer, but I recently learned about Sydney Cummings on Youtube and am totally addicted. I’m super late to the party, but I’m almost a month into her Summertime Fine series, and I love it! My only goal is to stay consistent and keep at it! Not my strength in this area, but something to work toward. One day at a time!

Since re-starting the Expanse series books, I’ve been diving back into fiction more. I recently read Evvie Drake Starts Over, which was a delightful rom-com of a novel. Not gonna lie, I loved it! I also read the YA mystery The Inheritance Games, and despite the comparison to Knives Out (so good!), I thought it was just alright. Oh well… But I did want to read another mystery after that, so over Christmas I read the -very grim- detective novel In the Woods, since I’ve had a copy for ages. Despite the super dark story, I actually really liked the way it was written/narrated and it kept me guessing! So that was…fun? And it was at least interesting to try a different genre for a bit!

Anyway, thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

Hindsight – Looking Back on 2020

Original Photo Credit: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

So I thought it would be fun to do a bit of a review of my artwork from the year… Because despite everything else, I did keep pretty productive.

I really tried to fine tune my schedule so I could have a sustainable creative routine. So between that, working through The Artist’s Way (which I do still plan on reviewing eventually), getting heckin’ motivated by Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies, and not running my Etsy shop… Yeah, I’ve stayed pretty busy!

I focused mostly on watercolor, gouache, and ink. And I spent a lot of time in my sketchbook with colored pencils… I started the year working on ink and watercolor abstract landscapes and scenes. Explored abstract non-representational watercolors. Did a few ink & digital color pieces (one or two are still waiting on color. still. oops.) Learned about mapmaking– made a few maps. Bounced back to some watercolor landscapes again. Then started trying to work with gouache, loved it, and have been alternating my time between watercolor and gouache pieces.

I tried to focus on certain themes and subjects and that helped keep me working. I noticed I got too overwhelmed wondering what to work on, so by narrowing it down it was easier to move from one project to the next. Landscapes, still life, animals, abstracts, maps, and what was originally “single page comics” now also includes my little instagram comics too. I still gravitated to space, floral and food elements, as I always have. So that was fun to see pop-up throughout my work still.

In total, my count is about 35 finished paintings and illustrations! Not including comics, which I have two on Instagram and three queued up! (Look at me, working ahead!?!). And I put my sketchbooks to work this year too. I don’t have any pretty & organized sketchbooks this year, but maybe that’s something I can work on next year…

Ink & Watercolor

Lastly, I thought it would be fun to end this year picking my favorite piece. Fortunately, it was really hard to choose! And it was fun to look back and see which ones still jump out as personal favorites… but I think as of right now, the winner of My Favorite Piece from 2020 is:

An abstract watercolor inspired by Mars

So there you have it! I’m so looking forward to eventually being able to reopen my shop and turning all this artwork into prints! And I can’t wait to see what new stuff I’ll make next year!

In the meantime, I wish you all a safe and happy holidays! See you in 2021!

The Shallow End – December 2020

Original Photo Credit: Etienne Girardet / Unsplash

Hello December!? When did you get here?!

As you can tell, I’m now officially unstuck in time…maybe it feels like there should have been more days in November? Or time is really becoming meaningless in day 250+ of staying at home. Dunno.

But I couldn’t let a little calendar confusion stop me from sharing the latest update with y’all! So here we go!

Lately I’ve been focused on building a routine to my work day. I don’t super love structure, but it’s also kinda helpful. I want to enjoy the “perks” of self-employed-work-from-home-shop-closed-due-to-a-pandemic but also stay reasonably productive, and not let weeks go by where all I’ve done is glance at my sketchbook “thinking of ideas” while really I’m working on a giant jigsaw puzzle (Oh noooo, how did that happen?!). So, yeah, there needs to be a little balance…

For me, it looks a lot like taking it one day at a time, and setting the pace at “the smallest step I can take toward my goals I can do today.” This attitude is actually letting me approach some new long-term goals as well that normally would have seemed absolutely impossible, too time-consuming, etc. Now I’m just breaking them down into the super smallest reasonable step forward, knowing I’ll get there eventually. (And I usually do a little bit more than I expected)… It’s the luxury of not having hard deadlines for anything, I guess. But that’s the reality of where I’m at, so I’m making it work! I don’t do “hustle” but it does feel nice to feel consistently productive in some small measure! And let me say, it adds up quickly!

Specifically, I’ve been regularly working on painting in watercolor and gouache, and practicing drawing cute little cartoon characters. I’m really having fun playing around with that, and have even started working on little comic strips to start sharing. My goal is to do one a week, but the babystep of “coming up with an idea” is way harder than I expected! I’ve got a few I’ve made already and I plan on sharing on my Instagram regularly(ish). I hope you enjoy them!

A sneak peek at my first comic strip!

We’re still watching The X-Files. It’s ridiculous but I love it… And we binge-watched all the Thanksgiving episodes of Bob’s Burgers on Thanksgiving, which may now be a new tradition in this house. It’s a fantastic show anyway, but it’s especially entertaining to watch Bob AND Mr. Husband get super excited about cooking a turkey! (My only contribution to dinner was thinking up a “turkey and winter veggies pot-pie” but Mr. Husband developed and executed it perfectly! With a squash soup! It wasn’t traditional for us, but it was soooo good! Apparently we really really like parsnips, who knew?!)

During the holiday weekend I also binge-read (is that a thing?) Leviathan Wakes. I’d read it before years ago but for some reason felt compelled to revisit it. Goodreads informed me I was NOT a fan the first time around, which is weird because I remembered it pretty well? Anyway, I super enjoyed it this time, and have already jumped into the next in the series, Caliban’s War. (No, I haven’t seen the show…yet). I’m also reading the Hilda children’s books/graphic novels, because they are delightful. Like a more juvenile Lumberjanes, almost. And I LOVE the artwork and colors. (I guess it is also a show, but I haven’t seen it either).

Thanks for joining me at The Shallow End!

Gratitude II

Original Photo: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

When I decided to write about gratitude this month, I didn’t remember that I wrote about it last November.

And yet I think it’s still worth talking about… again.

Last year, to sum up, I didn’t know what to do with “gratitude.” I knew it was important but I didn’t know how to be cognizant of feeling thankful, and I definitely didn’t know how to express it to anyone else. But I was determined to try.

This year…well, gratitude is looking a little different. It’s all different this year. This year just sucks. It just does. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. THIS YEAR IS HARD. For all kinds of reasons, and in all kinds of ways, this year hasn’t gone the way anyone planned. I suppose that’s normal to some degree, but not usually to THIS degree.

Like lately, I find myself exceptionally sarastic when reading motivational books lately. They tend to read like “did you get in your own way? are you not doing the thing that my book is telling you to do because of made up excuses?!” …um, no? I think I get to use my “pandemic pass”. I know you couldn’t possibly accounted for your audience to experience a pandemic while reading your pro tips for doing stuff, but it’s happening, and you don’t get to tell me what to do! Gosh! So, I’ll just make a note of it now, and will MAYBE try it once things settle down, okay?!

…reading is fun. 🤦‍♀️

Anyway, if anything, because we are in a pandemic, because this year has been hard in so many ways for all of us, at once, I think that makes Thanksgiving look different, and feel different, but also more important than in recent years. I’m talking about GIVING THANKS. I’m not talking about a big feast, or a get together. Those things are not happening this year… But what will happen, what needs to happen now more than ever is remembering some of the good things that are happening right now, that have been happening in all the chaos. The moments of lightness and joy and hope…

I’ve started writing a small gratitude list at the end of the day. It was suggested in Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies (the book I am obsessed with this year), so I had to give it another try (I don’t argue with this book!). So, I try to write 10 things I’m grateful for at the end of the day. This is not a profound list. About half of it is food, which seems dumb. But also, it feels good to be grateful for food. Or like, hearing birds outside? It’s wild! And I can’t remember the last time I wore jeans, and I love it! I’m also super grateful that video calls exist and the internet and texting, so we’re not all waiting for nights and weekends to talk to our friends and family (DO YOU REMEMBER WORRYING ABOUT LONG DISTANCE RATES?! I DO.) There is also a lot of super important stuff to be grateful for this year as well — like essential workers of all kinds. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

Sometimes I think I’m reluctant to give thanks because it like reeks of privilege (#blessed much?). But I think when it’s approached with sincerity, yes it does call out privilege. It should… When I give thanks for tasty food and a full pantry, I can’t NOT think about those with food insecurity and hunger, and I want to help. So, gratitude doesn’t just change the way I see my life, but the way I see everything. Gratitude offers the gift of duality — of shining a light on the good things in bad times, but also pointing at hard things I didn’t see because I’ve had it so good. It does both. And that’s important, I think, to realize that both are present and both can be true at the same time.

…Okay, that got a little heavy. My bad!

“This is why everyone hates moral philosophy professors.” – The Good Place

(…and I’m not even a professor! 😅)

Anyway… basically I just think this year has been a hot mess. But sometimes things are pretty nice too. That’s it.

Happy(ish) Thanks Giving!

The Shallow End – November 2020

Original Photo Credit: Etienne Girardet / Unsplash

Hello November!

So, Inktober didn’t last too long. I don’t usually work on the weekends, so it was hard to keep up. Plus, it honestly just wasn’t that fun… I have a lot of other stuff right now that I’m really enjoying, so it wasn’t that hard to let it go and move on… Oh well, always next year!

…that said, I know part of the problem was I didn’t love the way my style of drawing was working with the prompts. I had wanted to create cute illustrations of scary Halloween characters. But they really weren’t cute at all… Interestingly, when I stopped worrying about Inktober, and just working on all the other stuff instead, I started learning intentionally how to create those cute drawings I had wanted to make at the beginning! So, ultimately, it didn’t work out the way I expected, but I think I’d still call it a success?

My first Inktober drawings for this year (I drew it twice to see if I could do better… apparently I could not!)
The Dracula sketch I did yesterday… SO CUTE! Finally! Haha.

We did stick to our Halloween movie tradition for the last month. It was soo good! Some of my favorites included: Arachnaphobia, Rifftrax’s version of Birdemic, The Host, Leprechaun, Death Bed: The Bed That Eats, and The Raven. Most of the slashers were pretty ridiculous (I Know What You Did Last Summer was TERRIBLE). But Friday the 13th was really good! Though, I think some of my favorites were the classic black and white movies we watched — The Invisible Man, Cat People, and Onibaba, to name a few. We watched nearly a movie every day, so I’m a little overwhelmed remembering it all. But it is such a fun tradition, and this year’s was just awesome! Yay!

We also started watching The X-Files this past month. I’ve never seen it before, and knew surprisingly little despite how popular and long-running it was. I was expecting totally cheesy and campy, and yeah, it is — but it’s also a lot of fun, and can be super creepy too! I really like it, and am glad we have a show to watch regularly now. We’ve been in need of one since we ran out of our cartoons lately.

For a whole bunch of reasons, I’m trying to get better about buying physical copies of books again, or using the library for e-books. And I’m also determined to read more of the books I’ve had piling up for a while…

My recent reading pile! 😀

This did lead me to going through my bookshelves and reorganizing, which included packing up a lot of old textbooks. It kinda sucked to box up most of my philosophy books, recognizing I don’t really do anything with them anymore. But I’m now resolved to add at least some “pop philosophy” books into my reading rotation. I’m starting with How to Be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well by Catherine Wilson, since I already had a copy and it’s pretty interesting to read (spoiler alert: I do NOT want to be an Epicurean). I’m thinking after this I’ll explore more classical philosophy too — think Aristotle and the Stoics… but we’ll see, this isn’t my first foray into “I swear I still legit use my degree!” (although having a casual, self-help-ish, lifestyle focus will probably help this time. 😛 )

Thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

The Shallow End – October 2020

Original Photo Credit: Etienne Girardet / Unsplash

Hello October!

So much to talk about, so let’s jump right in!

I’ve started painting with gouache again, finally! I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the medium for years. I love the way it looks, but hated learning to use it. It’s just so weird — it’s deceptively similar to traditional watercolor (as it technically is “opaque watercolor” so, highly-pigmented and thick watercolor), but it is so NOT like watercolor too. It can handle all kinds of paint consistencies, which means I have to actually pay attention to that while I work. AND it can be re-worked after it’s dried, which I assume must be witchcraft and I don’t understand!

All that said, I LOVE the rich colors and matte finish that gouache produces, it’s just so so goood. So, with practice, I’m starting to slowly understand it more. Go figure, right? The key to getting better at something is practicing? What kind of nonsense is that?! 😛

October is also “Inktober,” which once again I nearly forgot about! I also forgot about how much I was practicing drawing cartoon people earlier this year. So voila — my Inktober plan was created! 31 days of 31 people. Always one for a theme, I’ve decided to focus mine on another October tradition in our house — “Spooky Scary”. The unofficial name of our “watch as many scary movies as we reasonably can in a month” at home film festival. So, that’s right, for Inktober this year I will be drawing 31 cartoon monsters, villains and horrors (like evil haunted mirrors! …but…personified?). A Halloween themed Inktober, who would’ve thought?! Haha.

My goal is to push myself to move from still portrait drawings and include a bit more action or emotion, and using some of our favorite scary movies as a reference should help! It’s definitely in the realm of fan art this year, but it should be a lot of fun to just practice and I’m hoping I’ll be able to share some of it in next month’s newsletter!

I’m actually super excited for watching a ton of movies this month. I’ve been really bad about watching anything anymore. The TV is mostly a means to watch Liverpool football and play video games. A month of fun scary movies sounds weirdly refreshing! I never thought I would look forward to watching horror movies, but here we are!

This year we don’t really have a theme, but are focusing a lot on Cult Classics. I’ve also been firmly anti-slashers since, well, always… but this year I’m allowing them on our list too. Like, I’ve seen dozens and dozens of super scary, gross, or creepy horror movies now, and I’ve still never seen I Know What You Did Last Summer or Friday the 13th?? How does that work? Since it’s a mixed-bag movie list, I’ve also insisted on some monster animal movies like Jaws and Anaconda. I’m hoping they are the awful and hilarious horror equivalent to my beloved disaster movies like Godzilla and 2012. 😀

As for books, I’m 100% obsessed with Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies by Tara Schuster. I borrowed a copy from the library on a whim and read it in a few days. Then I was like “oh my gosh, this just changed my life, what did I just read?!” and started re-reading it immediately. Once I realized it was impractical to hang on to the library ebook forever, I ordered my own physical copy. Every chapter is a loving and entertaining pep-talk. The one with Anjelica Huston is my absolute favorite (have I piqued your interest?!). It’s definitely a self-help memoir, but it’s one of the best (and that genre is my JAM so I know what I’m talking about!). I will forever be slowly working my way through this book again and again…

I’ve also started The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It was recommended in Tara Schuster’s book, so I had to check it out! …It’s interesting… I’m firmly a skeptic, but also a darn dreamer who hopes desperately that it will “work” and help me live my best creative life (no pressure). It’s structured with weekly assignments, and I’m still in the beginning-ish. And I’ve had to pause while I wait for my turn to borrow it again (but seriously y’all, library ebooks are a game changer!). I suspect this is a book where it is okay to take your time, as long as you keep doing the work in it… which I weirdly am… so it had better work too. 😉

Who knows, maybe when I finish the book eventually I can do a full write up on my experience with it. Would that be interesting? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

Make Yourself Comfortable

Original Photo Credit: Carolyn V / Unsplash

Where I live was entirely gloomy, rainy, and nearly cold last week. Like, couldn’t-sleep-with-the-fan-on cold. Like, actually-wearing sweats-because-of-the-weather-and-not-the air-conditioner-running-non-stop cold…

So that’s it. I now declare it FALL.

I realize it doesn’t technically start yet (the 22nd maybe?). And I’m also blissfully disregarding that this week the forecast is warmer and nearly in the eighties… NO. IT IS FALL.

*Disclaimer: I also realize that weather is a fickle, location-based experience. So, maybe you’re thinking “yeah, that’s nice but I live at the beach” or “literally everything is fire here.” If the former, I’m nearly jealous, but incredibly sun-averse, but yay, how fun! If the latter, I AM SO SORRY. I hope it rains and you stay safe!!

Really, whatever the weather, it’s the middle of September, and it is now the time for Autumn, even if it’s only in our hearts! 😛

So here are my very simple, self-indulgent tips for staying super cozy and enjoying Fall. Oh, my credentials? For one, I’m still not over hygge (the Danish concept of coziness), and for years have been persistent in my quest for being cozy-comfy at home no matter the season. Also, feeling cozy is basically a requirement for me to make art anymore.

First up! Candles!

I grew up with pyramid-scheme candles in disgustingly strong scents that the sales reps would joke “this one smells like Mel Gibson.” (Yikes). So, I was pretty convinced I didn’t care for candles. I thought candlelight was pretty and cozy, but the smells? YIKES. I think I have a keepsake box I put some cucumber melon tealights in without thinking and it now reeks every time I open it. It’s awful… But, in the last few years I have learned about fancy, good-smelling candles that while kinda pricey are absolutely worth it. The scents are delicate and comforting, deep woodsy earthy smells, or light clean fragrances. Mmmmm, candles. I’m burning a giant Birch candle right now and it’s just wonderful.

So the Danes and I would both tell you — candles are cozy! They would say to skip the scents, but I say skip the smells of CHEAP candles. The nice ones are lovely and last quite a while! We stock up on a few from Archipelago every year. And this year, for late summer, I bought a candle from Otherland that smells like tennis balls. TENNIS BALLS! It’s cut grass, cucumber, and something else I don’t remember, and it really does kinda smell like tennis balls? Even though I’m normally scarred for life by those crap cucumber tealights, this one is wonderful! So yes, candles. (And obviously be safe and careful and stuff, because it’s comfy cozy but also it’s literally FIRE.)

Next up! Socks!

This one is especially important for the ladies. Y’all. Our socks are junk.

I recently bought some cheap casual men’s crew socks (basically the “fashion socks” for men). And they were SO THICK. SO COMFY. LIKE WHAT THE HECK?! My normal lady socks feel like tissue paper in comparison. I’m not saying I can wear men’s socks all the time…but we deserve thick socks!

Mr. Husband usually buys me a pair of fancy, thick, woolly women’s hiking socks for the holidays — to, let’s be honest, wear around the house like slippers. But now we know that a pair of regular ol’ men’s socks will do just fine!


Next! Food!

While it’s not quite winter chili season, it IS yummy pies, and soups, and heavier pasta season! I’m of the opinion that a meaty bolognese sauce is to Fall what pasta primavera is to Spring. (Okay, so bolognese doesn’t translate to Fall the way “primavera” is LITERALLY “Spring” but just go with it.)

And seasonally available veggies? Yes, please! I don’t know what they are because I don’t cook, but whatever they are, I say go for it! …Oh yeah! APPLES! It’s definitely the season for apples! Time to make an apple pie! Apple cake! Drink apple cider! SO GOOD! …Also now is the time for Oktoberfest! No really, Oktoberfest is in September! We definitely cook up brats and eat a lot of spaetzle this time of year, just because we can! It’s basically a mild tradition for us now, and it’s very cozy and very Fall! (Also, Oktoberfest is the best style of beer and deserves to be celebrated.)

So, if you don’t have a cozy Fall food tradition, may I politely suggest you make one up?!

Finally, the Danes would say that you can’t really “do” hygge by yourself. That you’ve gotta have your peeps with you, so you can all be cozy together… But I say it’s 2020 and I’m going to make it work, thank you very much.

In fact, I’d say that BECAUSE it’s 2020, hygge and coziness are even more important than usual. This year is not easy, and I’m going to do whatever I can to reasonably make it as comfortable as possible.

Even if you take none of my advice, I still hope this list inspires you to take a little time in these later months of the year to figure out ways to stay comfy and cozy at home. Whether it’s wearing men’s socks and sweats all day, everyday, or wearing make-up and heels for working at home. I don’t care! Just do you! I bet you already have things that make you comfy, but we’ve been at this year for a while now, so it’s totally okay to brainstorm and try new ways of showing up for yourself!

What are your favorite ways to celebrate Fall?! Let me know in the comments!

The Shallow End – September 2020

Original Photo Credit: Etienne Girardet / Unsplash

Hello September!

After spending so much time in my sketchbook lately, my goal for this month is to work on some actual art pieces. In theory I’ll be able to keep up my new sketching habit too, but honestly, who knows?

As I’m getting back into art outside my sketchbook, I’m trying to exercise some patience with it. I don’t usually rush my work, but I do get obsessively focused. Like, “I must now work on this non-stop until it is finished” focused. After so many months of practicing the role of “fine artist” instead of “artist entrepreneur extraordinaire” I’m learning it’s okay to take my time…so I’m trying to find a new slow and steady pace for working.

This new outlook and time management is letting me work on multiple projects at once, tackling one thing at a time, following my creative interests as they ebb and flow, and letting the paint actually dry before starting the next bits. My days are even less structured than before as a result, but honestly I’m not making any less art. I’m probably not making more, but definitely not less, and I’m finding the whole process to be far more relaxing.

“The Mountain Waves”

I’ve painted a new landscape duo “The Mountain Waves” and am working on painting the landscapes I drew last month, and painted my first map! I’ve also got full-detailed sketchbook studies of maps that I want to try to do in larger scale as finished illustrations. And I’ve been simmering on a few ideas that I’m looking forward to exploring in my sketchbook eventually. So yeah, definitely not less work. Just different work, and more thoughtful work than I’ve given myself room to make in quite a while.

Sneak peak of a study for a future map!

Outside of work, I’m still just livin’ my best quarantine life. Hair is mostly shaved again, and I’m a bit late to jump on the bread-making bandwagon, but it’s nearly fall, so why not?!

We finally finished watching Dragon Ball Super, all hundred-plus episodes… But our Adult Swim addiction continues with YOLO: Crystal Fantasy. It is bizarre and brilliant and I love it. I’m so sad that there are so few episodes. I don’t know that I recommend it, technically, because it’s so weird and I don’t want to be judged… but I like it!

And if you didn’t think I could get any nerdier, I’ve started brushing up on medieval history…for fun! But also so I can make maps of medieval-ish walled cities (see photo above!) that are grounded in a little bit of accuracy, even though I plan on making them up otherwise. So I started reading The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer. It’s pretty good so far, and way different than most history books I’ve read, which is interesting. Coincidentally, I’ve recently learned about “Bardcore” music. Yup. Bards. It feels like ages since I’ve listened to music regularly. But now it feels like “middle ages” instead. Heh. (Okay, I won’t pretend I’m listening to it a lot. But it’s been fun to listen to Bardcore covers of modern songs now and then, because why not?!)

This is fine…

Thanks for joining me in The Shallow End!

P.S. – I just realized I haven’t shared a poem in months. Oops!

The sky glows
golden clouds
upon a soft
still brilliant
The trees burn
in their colors
against the growing
gray shadows
of sunset.