Thursday, June 16, 2016

I Joined a Group Blog!

Once upon a time, there was a girl who joined a group blog. I am the girl and the blog is Operation Awesome a writers blog with contests, writing tips, and great perspectives from fellow writers. I joined Operation Awesome to get myself back into blogging. Hopefully it will spur a lot of new content on this blog as well. You can read my introduction post here.

This is my first group blog, and I'm looking forward to the teamwork of it all. I've considered joining a group blog for years, so when a blog I followed had an opening for a new member, I decided to give it a shot. They accepted, and now I'm learning how it all works and having lots of fun.

I blog on Mondays about writing, the creative process, and creativity from the perspective of a writer who's also a graphic novel/storybook illustrator. I'd love for you to stop by and say hello.

If you've joined a group blog, I'd love to hear about it in the comments. What were your reasons for joining? Did that experience improve your personal blog?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Have You Found Your Ikigai?

courtesy Wikipedia
"Ikigai is a Japanese concept meaning "a reason for being". Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self."

I've heard this concept before. Many people refer to it as a "calling" or a "life purpose". I love the japanese interpretation of it. 

You could say I haven't blogged in awhile because I've been searching for my ikigai.

As I considered my ikigai, I began to wonder how many people have truly discovered theirs. Why is it that some people realize their ikigai early in their lives and some when they're elderly? It could be any number of factors. These are just a few I've thought of.

1. familial responsibilities
2. distractions
3. financial pressures
4. fear of failure

Every choice we make either brings us closer to our ikigai or pushes us further away. We naturally want to achieve harmony by following our ikigai, so if we let it lead us, we'll choose the path closest to it. It can be a process of elimination, but it's always a process of growth.

I encourage my little art class students to try different media so they can find the one they prefer, the one they're best at. That doesn't mean they should never use the medium they're weaker in, but they should practice the one they love. This is how they can find their ikigai, trying different things, expanding their world. Once they find the thing they love, they can embrace it with their whole self.

When you're young, life should not yet have taught you to fear failure. No one should tease you or pick on you, because everyone is still learning too. It's important to remember this when you're grown-up. Everyone is still learning too, and if they say they're not, they're lying to themselves or stagnating. Either of those is bad.

Prayer and meditation can reveal your ikigai. God has led me this far and he'll lead me the rest of the way. It does sometimes feel like throwing darts at a board, but I like an adventure. I tell people I've taken the scenic route.

Have you found your ikigai? Are you working toward it? What are some steps you've taken this year to achieve your dreams?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Why Smart People Value Art

The layperson doesn't understand creative professions, because what creative people do is a luxury, not a basic physical need. Everyone needs a place to live. Everyone needs good health. People don't need television shows or amusing cartoons in the Sunday paper... do they?

The need creative professions fill is not a physical need, so the physically-minded masses don't value these careers as much as they do doctors and lawyers and accountants. But they want what creative people do. It enriches their lives. It makes them feel things.

Creative professions put people back in touch with themselves, open their minds to new ideas, give them distractions from the rough spots in life. A society risen above filling basic physical needs can focus on the higher, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs so often left unfilled. There are some people who still don't understand the importance of this. That's why creative professionals are admired, but not universally respected.

Anyone who knows how complicated the human body is can understand why doctors are necessary and valuable. Those who don't, think doctors are magical and godlike. It all comes down to understanding and understanding to knowledge.

Art is difficult for people to understand because it's tangled up in the intangible, in feelings and impressions, in memories and tastes. The higher a person's thoughts, the more likely they are to appreciate the need for art in their lives. The more intelligent a person, the higher their thoughts. Therefore, smart people value art.

The next time you meet someone who undervalues your work, downplays the need for it, or compares it to their child's hobby, realize the person is likely physically-minded and doesn't see the importance of art in his life. He's also not very smart. Later, you can draw an unflattering picture of him or write him into your novel as a villain.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2016 Or Bust!

2015 saw me get an agent, have an art show, get a newer car (and sell my old one), create a really nice piece of Doctor Who fanart:

and start on my first project with my new agent: an adult coloring book with mermaids and water monsters entitled Dangerous Sea. Here are a few sketches done while I've been working on it.
dapper octopus

awkward sturgeon
woodstock seahorse

 These are just doodles compared to the full-page inked illustrations that'll be in the coloring book. I can't show the pieces from the book just yet, but you better believe I'll let you know when it's ready to hit shelves!

Last year my first blog post was on a theme: determination. This year I think it'll be about taking chances. I want to tackle my big goals without being afraid I won't finish them. So often I've procrastinated out of fear - fear it would take time, fear it would be too hard, fear I couldn't do it, fear I would mess up. These are silly fears.

My projects are worth the time. Nothing is too hard if I give myself enough time and practice to hone my skills. I can do it, with the time and the practice. (With ink the fear of messing up is very real, but it's still nothing Photoshop can't fix.)

My google searches for this project have been so great. Poseidon, celtic warrior, knife fight poses, great white shark, selkie, tidal pool, and so many mythical monsters I have trouble choosing. And if you want a big fancy taste of what my ink work looks like, check out my mermaid muse for Dangerous Sea.

Are you ready to tackle your projects in the new year? I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Stay Tuned for Worthwhile Interruptions

I think I'm the most relaxed person, until there's a deadline I'm not meeting or a goal I haven't reached. Then I struggle, stress, and beat myself up. But why? Most of the time, the deadlines are self-imposed, the goals are flexible, and life is full of worthwhile interruptions. Since when did I get caught up in the Culture of Mass Production our society is so consumed by?

Productivity is a powerful buzz-word. Am I being productive today? Am I producing enough of whatever I make so I can be valuable? But I'm not what I produce. Producing things - car parts, blog posts, art, children - isn't the reason for my existence.These things just make life more satisfying. And if they don't, I shouldn't be producing them. (I haven't produced any children, by the way, but I stand by my opinion.)

People spend so much time working to finish, to start, to gain, to lose, that they're never content with what they already have. This is why I'm trying to let go of the Mass Production Culture and just create, play, do, and be. It's what I do naturally, after all. This doesn't mean I'm going to be unfocused and lazy. It does mean I'm going to pay more attention to what I'm focusing on and learn to relax.

Not everything can be planned. Not every plan can be adherred to. What is life but a series of worthwhile interruptions?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Progress and Poseidon

I haven't been under a rock for the past two months; I've been under the sea. I've researched so many ocean creatures, referenced so many ocean photos and paintings for my coloring book Dangerous Sea, I could practically be an oceanographer. It's been so much fun. It's very easy to get distracted by the fascinating research (such as THIS and THIS).

I draw in four stages: brainstorming/sketching, composing/sketching, final pencil, final ink. I've decided to share some pics of what I use.

This set of Microns has been with me since grad school, so I'm thinking I'll have to retire them soon. I picked up the Hahnemuhle paper at the Art Materials Trade Show when I was at SCAD. That event made me feel like a kid in a candy store!

You can see one of the coloring book pages peeking out of the mail envelope. Imagine my coy grin as I say that's all you're going to see for now.

This is a rejected Poseidon sketch that won't be making it into the book. (Which might be why he has that expression.) When I brainstormed Dangerous Sea, I knew I'd put a sea god in it, but when I thought about the greek and roman gods, I just couldn't get excited. Everyone had already done their take on Poseidon. He's in videogames such as SMITE, in Disney movies, and in popular YA literature. Pretty much everyone knows him and what he's supposed to look like. I needed a sea god that fewer people knew.

I decided on Manannan Mac Lir the celtic god of the sea and weather. My version of Manannan is a lot more aggressive than most depictions I've seen. (I really wanted a kilted, woad-painted, imposing god who carried a claymore instead of a trident.)

For Dangerous Sea, I'm going with new takes on old themes. I'm really excited to continue working on this project and see what ideas come to me next. Looking forward to sharing my progress with you!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

My MC As A Ball-Jointed Doll and Other News

Not only have I been working on the first project my agent will pitch to publishers, but I've been working on the doll incarnation of Lividia who is the main character for my YA novel (not what my agent is pitching...yet). I mailed her head to the artist for its faceup a couple months ago, and she finally returned home, beautiful and perfect. It's as though the spidery, mysterious girl from my books has stepped into this world on resin feet. Having her around really inspires me to want to write about her. (which is good, because I don't know how many book she will have yet.)

Here is Lividia Blackwell the asian ball-jointed doll version. The dress is cobbled together by me, the faceup is done by Angel Toast Aesthetics.

In case you missed my post Introducing my BJD Silvan, Lividia is the same type of doll he is. She's from a different company, and has a very different aesthetic. Her company is Doll Chateau - also a korean dollmaker. All the dolls made by Doll Chateau are waifishly thin, have unusual proportions, and have sober, uniquely-featured faces. I love this company.

I'm still working on Lividia. So far she has no clothes besides those I fashion for her (so if any of you know a dollie seamstress...). I'm not big on sewing, but I did manage to turn what used to be a shirt into a bustle skirt. All that's missing now are her black victorian shoes.

As I come off the dollie high I get from having my girl complete, I'm still working on the big first project with my agent. I'll share more info on that in a later post.

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