December Sketches (Sketch With Me!)

Officially closed out NaNoWriMo at 58,504 words. No, I didn’t make 70,000, but I’m still writing. And forget NaNoWriMo; it’s December. As usual, I’m trying to sketch every day of December, for a total of 31 sketches. I haven’t actually finished the challenge yet, but perhaps this third year will be the one!

I haven’t done my Dec. 1st sketch yet, but here’s the self-portrait I made yesterday. It’s my third annual Monday After Thanksgiving Self Portrait. A little less relevant since I didn’t actually get a day off for Thanksgiving, and also Monday was still in November this year, but what can you do?

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You can find my 2013 portrait is here, and the 2014 portrait here.

And, calling all artists, are you looking for a challenge? How about 31 sketches in 31 days this December? Join us! You can post sketches to your blog, and we also have a facebook group for posting sketches and encouragement. Just search for the closed group December Sketch-a-Day Challenge and request to join. Hope to see your sketches!

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Day 13

Almost two weeks into the December Sketch-a-Day Challenge and I am caught up. What’s more, I never even fell behind—I’ve actually sketched something every day so far! I’m not going to post every sketch here, but I’ve been doing a series of portraits based on Photobooth pictures of friends (along the lines of the self portrait I posted last time). Here they are! Various levels of completed-ness, of course, and all created entirely in Adobe Photoshop. Thanks so much for letting me draw you, friends!

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Day 1

December Sketch-a-Day challenge. It’s happening. I can’t tell you how excited I was when two of my friends posted sketches to the facebook group today before I’d even started thinking about my sketch for the evening. And here’s that sketch, by the way, my second annual It’s The Monday After Thanksgiving, Work Sucks, and I Need a Haircut self portrait (you can find last year’s here.) And remember it’s not too late to join the december challenge;  you can post sketches to your blog or find us on facebook by searching for the December Sketch-a-Day Challenge facebook group.

I probably won’t post sketches here every day, but I thought I’d let you know that I’m off to a good start.

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NaNoWriMo and December Sketch-a-Day Challenge

Winner-2014-Web-BannerI finished NaNoWriMo today. I wrote my 50,000 words, and that’s a wrap for November. Here’s the graph; I even managed to stay pretty close to par all last week, despite traveling to Boston for a really lovely Thanksgiving dinner and weekend with cousins and friends.Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 6.25.21 PM

I have a lot more time to do creative work than I thought I did, but I need to be working hard every month of the year, not just November. Last year, in the wake of NaNoWriMo, I instigated a Sketch-a-Day challenge for December. I didn’t finish in time, but Ruthanne of A More Colorful Life sure did and I still think it’s a great idea. So this year, I’m doing it for real. If you need an artistic kick-in-the-pants, please join us! I’ll link to your blog if that’s where you’re posting December sketches, and if you’d like to join the online December Sketch-a-Day Challenge community, do a Facebook search for the group I made (it’s called December Sketch-a-Day Challenge) and request to join. The goal is 31 sketches, 31 days.

The Sketch-a-Day Challenge is my big goal for December, but I don’t want to stop writing. I also don’t think I told you anything about my NaNoWriMo novel? It’s the self-indulgent telepathic dragon novel I never knew I had to write, and I don’t think I’m even fifty percent through the story at 50,000 hastily-written words. I have a lot of good stuff, especially good ideas, but a lot of those words are unusable and a lot of them will change once I figure out some answers to the Big Story Questions, and I’m finally at a place where I know which Big Story Questions I should ask. So I’m going to keep working on it. Most especially, I am going to take some time for outlining and researching and organizing—all the things I didn’t have time for during NaNoWriMo. I know I need to do lots of non-word-count related work on the story, and I know my sketch challenge will take up the majority of my daily creative energy, so I am setting a very small writing goal of 500 words a day. This makes a total of 15,500 words for the month. That’s sure a significant drop from 50,000, and I’ll top it if I can, but I think 500 words and one sketch every day will be enough to be getting on with. And I think I’ll get tired. But I think I can do it.

What are your goals for December?

Celtic Bull and Status Update

I was reading up on my Celtic Mythology, and I took a break to sketch an illustration I found in the book. The following is a sketch of a drawing of a stone carving of a bull. According to Celtic Gods and Goddesses by R.J. Stewart, the original can be found in Burghead, Morayshire, Scotland (Stewart, 16).

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I’m working, but I’ve been really discouraged these past few days. Sometimes, it’s easier to focus on all the times you’ve quit and let things slide than it is to focus on all those other times you’ve started up again and worked your hardest. You start to recognize every platitude and new strategy as something you’ve said and tried before, as something that obviously didn’t work because here you are again, back to where you started. I also recognize that the negative energy doesn’t help, so I’ve been cleaning and organizing and seeking positive inspiration (thanks, Dad) and taking care of myself (12 mile bike ride, woo!) and working. Writing the words and making the pictures is, ultimately, the only way to prove to myself that I can.

And then I stopped making excuses and started working on my illustrations—patiently, slowly, and a little more every day.

The end.

Or the beginning.

Most likely, a particularly productive bit of middle. I’ll try to stick with it as long as I can.

Work in Progress!!

Work in Progress!!

 

A Weekend, A Sketch

Long weekends don’t mean too much to me, generally; I always have Mondays off. Brother came up from Massachusetts on Friday evening, though, and stayed with me and Brackett through yesterday. We checked out the newly renovated Dogfish Bar and Grill for lunch yesterday (I can recommend the 128 Free Street Sandwich) and then Brother and Brackett picked up some vinyl and a few Super Nintendo games at the Electrcic Buddhas nostalgia shop around the corner. They proceeded to beat Goof Troop in under two hours—a game that had seemed impossibly difficult when I was a child. Brother headed up to our parents house yesterday evening, and I’m following in a few hours. Sadly, I have to return my mother’s car. It was easier for her to leave the vehicle with me last weekend than for us to figure out the logistics of her and my father dropping me and another friend off in Portland on their way home from the retreat in separate cars in time for a scheduled event back home. It’s been really nice having wheels for a few days.

I can’t share the painting I was telling you about last weekend yet. I’m really happy with how that’s turning out, but it’s not quite done. My week was subsumed by another worthy project (yes I did make art during the week this week, though it was for a different purpose [an exciting one!] than my usual stuff) so I haven’t made too much more headway on that painting or my other digital art. I did make a sketch yesterday that I finished today, though, so I’m sharing that instead. I’m working on an illustration for the picnic scene in Chapter 4 (Wanderlust Chapter 4: City of Shadows) and right now I’m planning where everyone’s sitting and what they’re doing. I’m hoping to round up some friends to shoot reference photos this week (friends in Portland: I need about two more models for a picnic scene—let me know if you want to help!), so it will be good to know what poses I’m looking for ahead of time. I’m thinking Vanya will be in the background of the scene taking a swig of his drink. I realized I’d never drawn that before, so I did the following sketch as a study, using some stock photos as reference.

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A New Painting

I could spend a lot more time perfecting this painting, but I’ve been working on it off and on for almost a year now. I need to move on. It’s a set piece with Vanya and Taniel, Wanderlust main characters. I painted in black and white because my book illustrations are black and white, but it’s not an illustration of any specific scene. Click the image if you’d like to see it a little larger.

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This is a digital painting created in Adobe Photoshop. Comments and constructive criticism are very welcome. Everything’s still a learning process, and I’ve discovered since graduating that I have a very hard time finishing anything without deadlines. Part of this is that I’m still figuring out my style, and how far to polish things while retaining a sketchy and loose quality to the work. Still figuring out whether the sketchiness is a choice, rather than a lack of skill or inability to take an image to the level I would like to achieve. At any rate, I think I’d learn a lot more by completing pieces and then making more work, rather than by agonizing over a very few pieces that never reach completion. I hope that “finishing” this piece, and sharing it here, is a step in the right direction.

People have told me they enjoy seeing my rough work, so here are a few in-progress pics for the above completed image:

First, I sketched this sketch and decided I liked it:Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 11.49.03 AM

 

Originally, I wanted a futuristic city-scape for the background (I’d been watching a lot of Doctor Who, okay?):

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Then I started using photos of myself for anatomy reference. Someday this will be the first step, instead of the oh-crap-I’ve-already-started-drawing-and-now-that-I’ve-spent-three-hours-on-this-pose-I-realize-it’s-not-anatomically-possible step.

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Suddenly clouds, more anatomy reference for Vanya, and All The Trouble In The World with that face. I used a de-colorized still from a Studio Ghibli film for reference while working on the clouds.Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 10.55.37 AM

I decided the city was way too much trouble, but still wanted to keep the blimps. Face is getting there.

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And nearly there. Goodbye blimps, hello castle.

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And the rest is mostly lighting and finishing. Scroll back up for the [as] finished [as it’s going to get right now] piece!

Ruminations on The Struggle

So I’ve ben sketching. It took me three months to post 31 sketches, but this week, I’ve done that many since Wednesday. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the struggle to make art, about what it all means. I’m at a point in my life when I’ve recommitted myself to my artwork and writing countless times, and I’ve been ruminating on how delusional it is to believe, every single time, that I’ve figured it out, that this is what I do from now on, that I won’t need to recommit myself again because this is it, forever. I’ve been thinking about how invigorated I am by change, by new routines and new ways of working, and how bizarre it is that with each NEW thing I think I have found the thing that will ALWAYS work. I’m realizing it is the change itself that always works.

This scares me, because I worry that in my quest for change, for newness, I will never be able to finish anything. This reassures me because I have been working on Wanderlust, a single project, for seven years, and I’ve never given up on it, not even for an instant. I get discouraged and stop working on it for months or years at a time, but I never truly lose sight of it, and I’ve never considered quitting. It’s only my methods of working that change.

I read an internet article recently about what separates amateurs artists from professionals. One of the things listed was that amateurs are always working, always perfecting, and never finished (I’ll try to find the article again to post later on, but right now I’m trying to finish this post before work). If I want to make the leap from amateur to professional, I have to start finishing things. I have to start sending Wanderlust out, I have to start getting rejections. I’ve been thinking about the amount of work I need to complete before I can do that, and I’ve been thinking about how to get it done.

We had one warm day last week. It got up to fifty degrees (F). I’m still in a good mood.

My current New Thing is returning to traditional media for sketches. It’s important to work with yourself, I think, to make things as easy as you can for yourself when you are asking for big efforts and great things. I, for instance, have developed an aversion to pencil dust. I don’t like it on my fingers, I don’t like how it collects in the bottom of my backpack when I store pencils and a sharpener in one of the pockets. So I was sketching with pen, for a while, and I bought some mechanical pencils the other day. They’re pretty annoying for filling in large spaces, and using them for loose work goes against everything I’ve been taught, but for right now they’re what I need for remembering anatomy and working through thumbnails as I prepare to dive into, and maybe finally complete, some real work and some illustrations for Wanderlust.

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31 Sketches

Back in December, I promised you 31 sketches; one for every day, to be completed by the end of the month. Obviously, I fell a little short. I’M REALLY BAD AT THINGS SOMETIMES. Today, February 23rd, I’m finally giving you 31 sketches. They’re at the bottom of this post. It may be months late, but I’d like to say “I did it,” so I can move on. Before scrolling down, though, you should browse over to someone’s blog who isn’t bad at things, who actually completed the sketch challenge on time, and who met all her artistic goals for the year. And who I don’t think I actually said Happy Birthday to, even though her birthday is the same day as mine. So! A belated happy birthday to my Aunt Ruthanne of A More Colorful Life, born on the best day for birthdays, and a big congratulations to her for completing all her goals this year. Check out her sketches for the sketch challenge (Sketching Again, Still Sketching, More Sketching, Sketching and Beyond!), her first big painting, her art doll with the best hair, and her tie-dye art quilt (that doubles as the blog banner!). This year, she’s already set a new goal to make 50 paintings. It’s really inspiring to see someone actually doing all the art stuff they want to do, and I hope I can follow Aunt Ruthanne’s example into this next year.

Oh, and here are those sketches. If you’d like the bigger version of anything, just let me know.

31Sketches