Jan 292018

Last week I found myself with 13 minutes of lunch time left before the next work round started. I’d wasted the other 45 minutes doing work that needs done. Foolish me. I decided to use the same watercolor crayons I’ve been playing with and do a sketch of pears, one for each of today’s notebooks.
A pair of pears.

I was still putting away items as I got on to my work call, but I did it. Art over lunch = success. Now, maybe I can focus on getting more shit done at home instead of getting sucked into video games. Nothing wrong with spending hours on games if you enjoy it, but I also need to fold laundry, take out the trash, and get a whole bunch of other stuff done. After a full work day of dealing with bullshit, the lure of an engrossing round of amusement tends to win out.

Guess this turned into more of a frustration vent than a post about art.

Jan 262018

After the speeding roller coaster that was my December, I completely missed getting my niece a present for the wretched winter holiday. Upon offer, she suggested I make her something, so I did. After much brain-poking, I settled on a small bag which I’ve seen referred to as a lunch bag. Can’t just make a bag though, I had to put my own stamp on it, literally.

Carving cat head stamps.
Carved a few, small cat head stamps for the project. Might make a couple more yet, for my own fabric printing.
Printing a strip of cat head fabric.
Printing onto the darkest pink fabric I had left, using black fabric paint and a wedge sponge. Worked pretty well. The most issues I had were with my own fingertips getting messy. I only printed enough fabric for this project on this piece.

Bag, side view
The finished bag. Not sure about the exterior fabric choice matching her tastes, but that is a problem I always have when making for someone I don’t know well and don’t interact with often. This size is a little larger than the one I made before and I prefer the slightly smaller (couple inches, here and there) size better.

Bag, cover inside.
The printed fabric as the cinchable cover. I like it, although future prints of this will be on a different color background. So bright.

Bag, cover closed.
The cover, closed by drawstring. Honestly, one of the reasons this project took me so long is because I cannot find the damn string spring closures. Finally, I found one that was keeping a spool of elastic cord closed and stole it. Hope I find them this year.

Bag, interior.
The usually hidden interior lining. Niece is a cat fiend, after all.

Did new stuff, learned better methods, fulfilled a gift need, and all is well.

Jan 242018

Lunchtime doodles.
Had a short lunch and used some water soluble crayons to scribble some colors behind a rabbit space. I thought I’d leave it as colorful negative space, but it didn’t look right, so I grabbed a brush and used outlines to define it. Also used a bit of water to blend some of the back color, then added more lines with fineliners.

Not much in the way of lunch breaks lately. I’m spoiled from the holidays and could use a break already, but there isn’t one coming anytime soon. Tonight, I’ll play video games for a spot of escapism.

Jan 192018

Now that it is winter, the cats seek warmth in non-sunshine related forms.
Moxie in her cat pod.
I found these small, fur lined cat pods in the Halloween clearance section. Slick has tried placing them in various spots around the house with no success, until now. This one is in the rock corner by the stupidly-undersized heat vent so the area is always slightly warm. Moxie, our smallest, but densest cat, loves it in there. Moxie is a ground fighter – when other cats go high, she goes low. This is perfect for her, it is on the ground, but raised up on the rock platform, it is in a corner and the overhang means no other cats can get above or behind her. The fur doesn’t touch her or irritate her sensitivity and she gets the most warmth in the whole room. Complete win for Moxie.

Cold cats in front of heat vent.
Again, the two cats we raised to like heat vents still like heat vents. The other cats don’t like their fur being ruffled. These two understand the joy of hot, ruffled fur.

Jan 162018

It seems that Saturday mornings are my favorite time in the workshop. The entire weekend stretches out before me, there is a fresh pot of coffee, Friday (my workshop companion cat) is happy to be there, and there is that strangely pleasant, almost “hungover” feeling from the Friday night weekend-start celebration the night before that makes me want to be creative in a free, chill and short term fashion. I like that. I’m often trying to scratch down the most clever of the ideas I had when falling asleep the night before, or to flesh out the tidbits I do recall, anyway. All of this combines to be simply the best feeling; peaceful, happy, mortal and alive. Love it.

Last Saturday, I felt like painting and decided on the most recent tree sketch. I didn’t want the self-pressure of a “serious” painting, so I grabbed some mid grade acrylics from the stash and a pair of 4″ canvas panels, set up my desktop easel right on my computer desk and played some techy-meditation music.
Painting with Friday the cat.
Friday joined me, of course. That is her chair now. My kitty co-pilot. I don’t know how I’m ever going to get all her cat hair off that quilt.
As often happens, it took longer than I thought and I ended up spending almost three hours on these little things. That’s okay, I enjoyed doing it. They didn’t end up the way I envisioned them – which is true of every single tree + light painting I’ve ever done, and is probably the biggest reason I’ve never shared any of them before.
Tree paintings
Here they are. I still need to finish the backs. I’m going to cover them and put small hooks on them so they can hang up in the house. Maybe. I think I only want one, instead of two. If it turns out that way, I’ll put the other in my Etsy shop. Perhaps someone else is out in the world, wanting a tiny, simple painting.

I haven’t been able to paint over my work lunch breaks lately, and I wonder if this recent painting desire stems from that lack.

Jan 152018

Seven Bottles, twice.
Forgot about this one, which was done in the previous calendar year 2017. Now I’m caught up? Maybe. Seven Bottles, twice. Looks better bigger, give it a click.

Rabbit Council, twice.
These were both done with a Fudenosuke, which translates to brush pen. Handy to have good ink in a firm brush tip, in a contained and neat package. Interesting challenge to get the right line width with a variable tool like this. These are based on my front yard and the many odd rabbit habits in it. I call it Rabbit Council, twice.

Jan 112018

Welcome to 2018, in another way – lunar new year! This is the year of the dog.
2018 Chinese New Year of the dog card
For the dog, I decided on a Chow. I like the “Foo dogs”, which are really the Imperial guard lion statues, but you can see the visual similarities. Chows, eventually translated, means puffy-lion dog, which seems appropriate. They are also one of the few ancient dog breeds extant today. Besides all of that cool info, they are cute as fuck.

2018 Chinese New Year of the dog card
The lucky flower is rose and the Chinese symbol here is the one for the zodiac sign of the dog, and not the symbol for actual dogs. The zodiac symbol was more visually pleasing to me.
These cards sell out every year, so get them if you want them.

Jan 102018

Fabric art cuff with spikes!
Before Christmas, someone was looking for a cuff for a young man who is studying to be a tattoo artist. I thought I’d push the design a little closer to the ink + metal I usually see in that culture and added some metal spikes.

Fabric art cuff with spikes!
Side view to show the spikes poking out. I also made fabric scrap choices that would include more skulls and those eyes? They glow in the dark.

Fabric art cuff with spikes!
There are also some Edgar Allen Poe quotes in the fabric text bits.

This managed to get done in one evening = go me! I’d like to make a couple more of these this year. They’re not exactly poplular on Etsy (one sale ever), but I enjoy making them, and that is a fine reason on its own.

Jan 082018

You know what’s up.

This was an image I had in my head when falling asleep on Friday night and recalled on Saturday morning. This sketch doesn’t fully capture the feel, but it is enough for me to remember. I have a number of “light through trees” painting ideas. Don’t know if I’ll ever get to them or if they’ll just litter my sketchbooks forever.

These sorta-roses were the product of the January ArtSnacks box. The slightly-orangey red is from a Posca paint marker. I’d heard of them, but never had one to try for myself. They are advertised to not bleed through paper, which is a tall claim, but they seem to live up to it. The green and now-gray are Marabu Aqua paint pens, which are water soluble. That aqua color was pressed into service as stem and leaves, while the black one I diluted and used as a gray background. The Tombow Fude pen gives the final black lines. They also had a Sumo grip mechanical pencil, which was just a fat pencil, but it did have an exposed eraser – mech pencils usually have covered erasers which means I use my separate eraser instead of uncapping the things. This was exposed, so I used it. That was nice.

This was my first sketch of the new year and I didn’t really know what to draw, so I wrote out some little tidbits from the day. You can see that I’ve started keeping notes of what I’ve used on the pages, as it relates to the sketchbooks they’re in because I’m testing about a dozen sketchbooks this year – but we can talk about that later.

Last public sketch of 2017. Doodles over a short lunch.

Drawn on the sofa when assaulted by the aggressive smell that happens when our littlest cat, Moxie, drops her evil turds in the litterbox. Even she knows they are extra stinky; she tries for much longer than any other cats to cover up that smell. I drew this to suffer through the minute it takes for the wall of stink to pass by.

Another sofa sketch. A friend got us tickets to the latest Star Wars movie for the evening before the Solstice Party. We’d been planning to wait a while to see it, but you can’t turn down tickets someone got for you! And, in the nice, new, reclining seats and super-sound-BrandNameAudioBS-stuff theater, too. Despite having lots to do, I was excited to take time out for a movie, a night out with friends, and was considering wearing my ridiculously shiny dress to the movie. Thinking about how cold I get in those recliners for the length of a movie, I wore normal clothes instead. And after weeks of suffering through broken, mangled, snapped, and bent fingernails, I purchased some acrylic fake nails to protect my fingertips for a while. My nails are always incredibly short, but the busier I get the harder I am on them and I was to the point of superglue patching then. I didn’t wear the pretty nails for either event, and a later test shows that I can only make it to day two before I do something that pops off one or more of them. Oh well. I can save the pretty nails for some special occasion that lasts for less than a day.

Work-annoyance-venting sketches seem like they should have a special category, but they don’t. I painted this after trying to work through (and past) a coworker to get stuff done. I felt better afterwards, anyway.

There. Now we’re all caught up on the sketches I’m up for sharing. On to more catching up next. Like an information exposure debt.

Jan 022018

The new year holiday time is when I like to reflect, trying to notice how things went, to conclude what worked and what didn’t, and to contemplate what I’d like to do better in the coming calender year. When I did this last year, I was happy with my goal accomplishments, changes I’d made, and the general direction everything was moving. So, for the first time in almost a decade, I made no goals at all. I figured if I could keep doing the things I was already doing, I’d be okay, to self-improve without a plan. Generally, it went okay, but I’ve found I prefer to have a plan. Admittedly, I seldom stick to my plan strictly, but I like having it anyway. This means I’m going to have to make one for 2018, which also means I’m going to have to do this reflection thing quickly here. My recent crazy workload has taken a lot of my brain cycle time (I’m not complaining; it is uncommon for work projects to be so interesting AND involving) and the majority of my evenings have been spent essentially checked-out on the sofa, catching up on television and movies, along with many hours of video games. Thus, perhaps if I write out my thoughts here, I’ll make some headway that I can come back to after interruptions. Maybe a semi-public blog isn’t the best place for it, but the crowd here is quite small and I’ve always maintained that the most important audience for a personal blog is the person it belongs to, me. Plus, I can always take this offline if I need to.

Let’s navel gave!!
Okay, that got heavy the more I typed and none of it is sharable, with the public, or really even with my closest. I hold some unpopular views, I think. Instead, let’s fast forward to the “what have I learned” and “WTF I’m going to do about it” section.

What have I learned?

Most of the things that bug me are inherently related to people and these are things I cannot change. If you are disappointed, change your expectations. Hope is a fucking unicorn.
In 2017, I made the effort to give up on things that I felt were not beneficial to me. This was a challenge, since some of these things were ingrained through my whole life by well-meaning idiots. The road to hell and all. For the most part, this was good. I will continue to not invest my precious resources (mostly my time; I am still mortal, dammit!) in things that don’t return some benefit to me. I’m being vague, yes, but this is the summary of the item.
Thus, lower my expectations. Don’t care so much.

Finally, thanks to modern technology, I’ve found a way to eat healthier, easier, faster, and with my nutritional needs taken care of. Phew. That only took my whole life to date. This means my morning routine and lunch needs are fewer and I can focus on other, less easy things. Good. Also, lost a lot of weight this year, so that is great – except for having to buy new clothes. That part is irritating.

On the downside, I failed to prioritize some things like exercise, hikes, bike rides, long walks, and meditation. 2017 had a lot fewer/less of all of that. I kept meaning to do them, but I didn’t stress about it and ended up not doing it. I miss these things, in hindsight. They help my mood and I like being happy.

As a note, one of the goals I kept for 2017 was to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. I failed, a lot. I did get better, but I must get better still.

Speaking of happy, I did prioritize my happiness this year. The aforementioned cutting out of dubious things helped, but I made a point to try to sleep in sometimes, have that extravagant dessert, watch the movies I wanted, and sometimes simply sit on the sofa and draw things when I wasn’t up for other stuff. This was all pleasant, but not a huge deal. The little things like that don’t seem have a big impact. I will take small impacts, though, and appreciate them for what they are.

Too many inspiration fueled projects! In 2017 I allowed myself to go ahead and start new projects when ideas or general inspiration struck. This is something I tried to keep a lid on in the past and this year I tossed the lid out. Mistake. It might sound contrary, but riding that fresh wave of energy from a vision straight into a project is seldom a good idea. The only two of those that turned out well were these:
fabric shag zip pouch
And maybe that space dress I made and wore at the Solstice Party. Maybe. The rest are still incomplete, for various reasons. I estimate 10-12 UFOs from this year alone, on top of the UFOs that naturally and slowly accumulate over the years. I have more ideas and inspiration than I have time. This is somewhat a side effect of not using a plan or goals this year. More creative projects actually got done when I had a layout/plan/goals/obsessive spreadsheet system than when I did not – even when I swapped out most of my planned goals for other ones.

Too much stuff. I’m faced with the reality (as many others are, too) that I have too much stuff cluttering up my spaces. Some won’t change – I do want all the pen sizes at my fingertips and I do want a wall full of fabric choices. Some should – like books I’ll not read again, toys (but my dinosaur collection is JUST FINE!!), a fuckload of board and card games, and some digital files. I’m sure there are more crap subjects that could do with examination, but I try to set realistic goals, so this is enough for 2018 to deal with.

Okay. That is a good amount of reflection summary. Now, to action!

WTF am I going to do about it in 2018?

The basic goal list for 2018.

1. Lower my expectations for the good of my own happiness. And let shit go.
People will often disappoint you and sometimes you’re the one disappointing them. The only person responsible for your happiness is you, so you have to deal with it. As well, I almost always want to make things better, in all aspects of my life. When something bugs me, I tend to examine it and pick at it until I find a way to improve it, improve my view of it, or get over it and admit it is hopeless shit. If I could find a way to the “get over it” phase faster, that would be good.

2. Continue to eat healthy.
My system works, so I’m going to stick to it. If the cost is that I must buy some new jeans every 20 or so pounds, then so be it.

3. Exercise, long walks, hikes, bike rides, meditation, and (new to this idea), yoga.
These are all self-explanatory.

Get 8 hours of sleep a night, as often as I possibly can! I know it seems like this should fit in the above #3 goal, but it is important enough to have its own break out here.

5. All projects must be on the master spreadsheet and have a plan!
No more spur of the moment stuff, no more last-minute, weekend projects. It didn’t work out and I know why and what to do better.

6. Acquire less stuff, get rid of stuff.
I’ve already started this on my holiday weekend. Three bags of trash and a pile of magazines met the trashcan. I’ve just cancelled one of my art supply subscription boxes (I had three (crazy, I know!) and now have only two) and am making a soft-goal to not buy ANY art supplies this year. With so many UFOs and a well-stocked workshop, AND two monthly blips of a handful of new supplies, I should be okay. Thread is an exception to this because of its aging issues, and I do have a gift card with some balance remaining for necessities. We’ll see how long I can go on this one. Also, if I sell something in my Etsy shop, I am completely allowed to use that profit for anything I want.
Besides the creative supplies, I will continue to open old boxes, toss stuff out, and be generally more ruthless in the assessment of items I keep.

7. Be nice to myself.
I push myself a lot, because I like doing things, accomplishments, learning, experiments, creations. I dislike sitting around, ingesting mindlessly, wasting my precious life. Sometimes I need to stop and remember that I should only do as much as I want, as much as is beneficial for me. My drive is MY drive and should benefit ME. Just, chill the fuck out every once and awhile.

That is a fine list. Hello 2018! Let’s do it! If anyone is still reading, what are you aiming for or against in 2018?

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