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

Sketch #3: Floor Jansen from Nightwish

Nightwish: Floor JansenThis is a drawing of Floor Jansen, the new lead singer for the symphonic metal band Nightwish. Brother and I used to listen to listen to a lot of Nightwish back in high school. Lately I haven’t been listening to as much metal as I used to, but Brother sent me a video of Jansen performing live with the band from the 2013 Imaginaerum tour. He told me she has really good stage presence and is a lot of fun to watch, and I completely agree! I also can’t stop listening to Storytime from Imaginaerum (the song in the video), and the entire Imaginaerum album. To create the above image, I took some screencaps from the concert video and then chose the one with the coolest lighting to use as reference. This was sketch #3 for my December Sketch a Day program, and it went a little bit beyond a sketch; I spent at least two or three hours on the image above (while listening to Imaginaerum on repeat). I tried to focus on brightness and proportions. It isn’t perfect, but in the spirit of the sketch-a-day thing, I’m going to share it anyway. Oh, and here’s the concert video:

Thanks for all your support on my December project! I’m going to share the sketches in two or three updates a week, in whatever order makes the most sense to me. I may also collect them chronologically on a separate page, in case the updates get too hard to sort through by the end of the month. Also, it’s catching on! Here’s the rule for joining in: start from where you are, and do a sketch for every subsequent day of December. I’m doing 31 sketches because I started on the first, but if you start today (the 4th) your goal should be 28, and et cetera. If  you want to join in and you’re publishing sketches on the internet anywhere, let me know and I will link to you.

I’m going to go draw something now.

Okay, scratch that, I’m going to the pub with Mr. Huntington.

But THEN I’m going to draw something. Promise. 🙂

A New Challenge for December

So I won NaNoWriMo. Here’s the proof:

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So, yay me?

It was a pretty cool thing to do. I wrote 50,000 words, and I’m glad I did it, but I don’t feel satisfied by this victory. I’m still hungry. It was fun to work on a different project for a while, but finishing NaNoWriMo doesn’t mark any progress on any of the other goals (writing and art) that I’ve been trying to achieve for the last couple years. I proved I have enough time to 50,000 words in a month. This month, I need to use that time to get stuff done.

I liked having a monthly project, though. That’s a nice, solid amount of time to focus on something. In December, instead of having a word goal for each day, I’d like to make some art each day. Therefore, I’m challenging myself to make 31 sketches during the month of December. My idea is that these can be warm-up sketches, twenty-minute sketches. A short exercise that won’t necessarily use up my entire creative output for the day (I’m hoping I’ll be able to sketch and then write, or sketch and then work on a more complicated artwork), but that will at least ensure SOME amount of creative output.

What do you think? I’d like to post sketches on the blog; do you want to see them? And would you prefer daily sketch updates, or a dump of several sketches every few days or week?

Here’s today’s sketch. I call it Grumpy Self Portrait. I tried to capture that back-to-work-the-Monday-after-Thanksgiving feeling, and I really focused on the expression and the asymmetry of my face. (And yes, I did a sketch yesterday for Dec 1, so this is sketch #2. I’ll share #1 later this week.)

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Please tell me what you think about the new project, and how often you’d like to see updates on the blog. Also, if any art folks are interested in joining me for this December Sketch-A-Day adventure, please let me know; it would be great to have some company. 🙂

 

My NaNoWriMo Novel

So I’ve decided. I’m going to attempt NaNoWriMo this year. National Novel Writing Month. Writing a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. This is the first year I’ve been in a place where it sounded like a good idea (click for my thoughts on the subject a year ago). It’s a whole month where I won’t be working on Wanderlust, true, but I’ll be getting great writing practice, learning how to fit writing into my schedule, and maybe even making some writer friends in this area. I think it will be a lot of fun.

And you probably want to hear about the book.

It’s…

Well.

It’s something that I’m personally really excited about, and that I haven’t been able to get out of my head for the past year. Yet even as I’ve been world-building, collecting pieces of plot, and making exciting discoveries about how everything comes together, I didn’t think I’d actually be able to tackle the project for years and years. For a number of reasons. You see, it’s about these two guys. With Wanderlust my main focus right now, it doesn’t seem entirely wise for my secondary project to be ANOTHER story about a couple of guys—even though they (Cor and Tristan) are entirely different characters from Taniel and Vanya, and their story is a completely different sort of thing. The second thing is… it’s high fantasy. Swords and sorcery. Battles and blood. I have read a lot of high fantasy, and it’s one of my most favorite genres, but there’s a lot of it out there, and a lot of it is crap. I… this is probably my own issue, and I’m probably accidentally discounting some really good work, but I have trouble asking people to take me seriously as an aspiring author writing high fantasy when I know there are so many people out there writing books in LOTR inspired worlds with all their made up, fantasy-sounding names and it just isn’t any good. I wanted to establish myself with the urban fantasy, maybe that dystopian kinda book I’m working on, before I ask anyone to take my high fantasy seriously. And this project… It’s not just high fantasy. It’s high fantasy with history, with lore. The actual storyline I want to write deals with the aftermath of the big war ten years before. Beyond that, there’s some really long-ago history about why this [special] [magical] country functions the way it does. And farther back, the mythology. Looking forward, I even have an idea for the thousand years later story when all the magic has faded from the world (… or so everyone thinks!).

And those are the reasons I find my own story problematic for me, myself, right now. They’re also the reasons I think it will make a great project for NaNoWriMo. I need something that I’m not under too much pressure to take seriously, especially if I’m going to be banging out 50,000 words in a month. I also tend to have a really scattered writing style on a first draft anyway, and (not sure if this is entirely kosher with the nano rules, and I don’t really care) I’m giving myself permission to work on the lore, the backstory, all the connecty bits, whenever I want to, even if I’m not sure how they fit into the main narrative. It’s all part of the project, and I’m going to let all of that count towards the 50,000 words. And this really is a project I’ve been putting a lot of thought into, despite everything, and I’m excited to see where it goes if I let myself get to work.

The project. I haven’t even field-tested the title, you know? What if it just sounds dumb? I called it Tredaf back in high school (yes of course this is a resurrected project, but it’s really honestly changed A LOT since then and anyway I’m starting over from scratch) but that’s the name of the magical country and I think the country itself needs a name-change. The current working title is… badadadum… The Legend of the Blood Tog King. Or just The Blood Tog King. And here’s my question; a real, serious question. You can put your answer in the comments. Does it sound dumb?

It’s about this guy, Cor Daggerhand, who is blood brother to Tristan, the king. It’s a country where bonds between people have magical properties, and none more powerful, or more dangerous, than a blood bond. [These bindings are symbolized by tokens, worn around the neck or pinned to clothing. Over many years of use, the word “token” degenerates to “tog”, which now describes the whole concept.] Ten years ago Cor and Tristan won the great war, and Tristan reclaimed his rightful throne. Days after the victory, however, Cor skedaddled, and left his brother and the entire country behind him. Upon his grudging homecoming (the start of this book), he discovers that the past ten years have changed Tristan into someone almost unrecognizable—someone with terrible plans for the nation they both call home. Can Cor battle his own blood-brother to keep his beloved country free? And has the king truly turned evil/gone mad, or can Cor save Tristan from himself?

Someday I will finish this sketch.

Tristan and Cor (an unfinished sketch)

The Creative and the Subconscious

I dreamed the other night that I owned a beautiful book. I’d acquired it at a great discount at one of those places one sometimes acquires beautiful things at a great discount—the bargain bin at NMU’s bookstore, in this particular case. It had a sapphire and lavender cover, the colors fading and drifting into each other like a sunset. Think the cover of Bitterblue by Kirsten Cashore (one of the [many] [really good] books I am currently reading), but shinier. It wasn’t a story book; it had pictures and text and paintings of magical creatures and words about how to write and how to make art and references for mythology and all other sorts of things. Or only a few of those things, or none of those things at all. What I knew was that it was a beautiful book, and full of all the wisdom and inspiration that I most especially need. Something I was glad to have, and something I wanted to hang onto. With a lot of reverence, I placed the book on my shelf—and here, I ran into trouble. The spine of the book held both the title (some word written in silver flowing script, with multiple S’s) and an image of a white creature, either a dragon or a unicorn. When I placed the book upright, so that the title ran the correct way and the book would open right-side up when pulled from the shelf, I discovered that the creature was upside down. Ah, I said. It was a discount book, after all. I flipped it over, so that the creature was upright and centered, braced against the bottom of the shelf—and now the words were upside down, and ran the wrong way. No matter how many times I re-oriented the book, I couldn’t get it right.

Maybe you’ve already guessed my metaphor.

Nothing’s changed. I still want Wanderlust (the writing, the art) more than anything, but I’ve gotten lost somehow. I’m tripping between the pictures and the words, not sure what I should be working on, and unable to accomplish, or finish, anything—and all the time hunched beneath and wading through the pressures of REAL LIFE, and most days too tired (or too engaged in other things) to make headway on creative projects at all. I don’t know which end is up. I don’t know which way to hold it, and I can’t seem to get it right.

I present you with this blog post sheepishly, ashamedly, like a thief who returns a stolen object at arm’s length, ready to run. I haven’t been following your blogs, or reading your tweets or keeping up with any of you, my internet friends and supporters, and some real life friends too. When I withdraw from the internet, I do so pretty completely. Also, I noticed that each of my sporadic posts over the past MANY moths ends with something like, “I promise I’m going to start blogging more regularly. No, I mean for real this time.” Therefore, this time, I make no promises. What I usually forget about blogging, though, is how it makes you write. Writing is writing. All practice helps. And right now, I do need help.

One more thing. Something I’ve been ruminating on for the past few weeks. November starts in, what, a little over a week? I am… eep… considering doing NaNoWriMo this year. You know, that crazy thing where you write a novel in a month. I’m still undecided, but more tempted than I’ve ever been before. More on that to come. Maybe. If we’re all very lucky, and I manage to write another blog post soon.

-G

First Week in Portland

So I’ve moved to the city. To the Big Town, if you will. It is not the biggest of big towns, but it is the biggest town in Maine, and it’s a whole lot bigger than both my college town and my tiny hometown. So far, I like it a lot.

My little room is great, my roommates are great, and I’m excited to start my new job. I got a free haircut today by volunteering as a hair-model for someone learning how to cut hair, and she did a great job! I even went for a really great run this morning. And, perhaps most importantly, I have a really wonderful desk. We found it at a yard sale yesterday, and my dad helped me move it in this morning. It takes up half the room, but that’s okay. I want my creative endeavors to occupy the most important place in my life, so my desk should be the most prominent thing in my bedroom. It’s symbolic in all the right ways.

And actually, I’m going to keep this blog post short because I just want to get to work. I’m also going to eat dinner, but mainly the getting to work thing. Ciao!

Drawing Without Deadlines

At about 11 am this morning, I posted the following status on the Wanderlust Facebook page: I’m working on a new Wanderlust illustration! Okay, it’s not actually for the book, but it’s got the characters and it’s in the same style. What do you think: Can I finish it in time to post it up on the Wanderlust blog by the end of the day?

It’s 8 o’clock in the evening now and I haven’t finished the illustration, but I have been working on it almost literally all day. I made that facebook post to challenge myself, because as I embark on the “Finish ALL the Illustrations!” stage of Wanderlust, I’m terrified that I won’t be able to get anything done without the pressure of deadlines. I’m also terrified that I won’t be able to draw anything good. Today, even if I’m not quite ready to show you yet, I’ve proved to myself that I’ve still got what it takes to sit and draw all day. I really like how this illustration is turning out and I’m enjoying working on it—two self-esteem boosters that make me excited to begin the rest of the illustrations for my book.

Here’s an itty-bitty preview just to whet your appetite, although it doesn’t give you a sense of the whole piece at all.

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The next challenge is to see if I can actually finish the piece within the next few days. If I can’t, well, then we’re in trouble… or at least back to wondering whether I’ll survive as an artist without scholastic deadlines.

-G

That Face

My relationship with making art is a lot more complicated than my relationship with writing. I have a few theories about that, but if I start writing that blog post right now I’ll be working on it for days. Right now, I just want to share this unfinished sketch with you. It’s hardly the most exciting art-thing I’ve done this week, but I need a little more time to finish the other pieces before I share them with you. I’m not even working on Wanderlust illustrations yet;  I’m just trying to get used to working with visual media every day, and I’m challenging myself to try new things and to bring a few pieces all the way to completion. This, though, I probably won’t finish or work back into—unless you think I should?

Adobe Photoshop © Grace Makley 2013

Adobe Photoshop © Grace Makley 2013

 

I used the really quick sketch of Vanya from last week’s post as a starting point, and he picked up the smirk somewhere along the way. There are probably already enough sketches of him pouting.

Vanya’s pouting face is something of a touchstone for me, artistically. It’s an image I return to whenever I’m experiencing a block or looking for a way to move forward, and something I never quite get tired of drawing. Artists: do you have any images or characters you draw over and over, or return to every time you get stuck? Writers: Do you have any themes or images in your writing that you use the same way? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Name Doodle Prizes (part 2)

Almost done with all the prizes! The two bonus winners will get theirs tomorrow.

First, my Aunt Ruthanne. Not really sure what to say about this one; it started out as a cross between a brontosaurus and Nessie, and now it looks more like a cross between a cow and a fish and Nessie. For Ruthanne’s Race to the 8th entry, I blogged about blogging. (And, by the way, she DID start her blog on the 8th: A More Colorful Life.)

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Next up, Jess, of Icarus Falls Design. I think it’s an elf. For Jess’s Race to the 8th entry, I wrote about how character’s names motivate me to get writing.

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For Caitlin of The Hopeful Heroine, I did a sketch of someone who could be a heroine in a middle grade novel. For Caitlin’s Race to the 8th entry, I wrote about a moment from our shared summer in Ireland.

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And last for today, the honorable and excellent Lady Higg of Ales to Stouts. She gets a wolf, because SOMEDAY I hope to see a finished, published version of her high school novel about magical wolves and their adventures. For Lady Higg’s Race to the 8th entry, I wrote about how the writing process has changed since I graduated college.

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Thanks for playing, everyone! Bonus winners, you will get your prizes very soon, and likewise I will email quality jpgs of the prizes I’ve already posted very soon as well.

-Grace out

 

Name Doodle Prizes (part 1)

I said by the end of February, right?

(For anyone just tuning in, I ran a contest during my Race to the 8th writing marathon at the beginning of the month. It’s all in the blog archives.)

I’ve been feeling pretty sluggish ever since finishing that draft of my book a few weeks ago. I also had a job for a few days last week and a few days this week; not a very taxing one, but getting up earlier than normal took its toll on my daily energy. I do have something big and exciting coming up related to writing, though, and Grandma Says nominated me for an award today, so expect some good posts in the near future.

For now, here are the first round of the prizes. I’ll post more tomorrow. Also, to the winners, I will email you a higher quality jpg copy within the next few days.

First, Elise soon-to-be Rich. She’s a rider, so I drew her a horse! For Elise’s Race to the 8th entry, I wrote a scene from the point of view of a streetlamp.

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Next, Grace of Homeschool Hijinks. It’s a drawing of a girl and, well, that’s supposed to be an owl. Can you tell? For Grace’s Race to the 8th entry, I discussed how Wanderlust got created and what my process is when starting (or re-starting) a story.

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And next, Laura. She gets a dragon. For Laura’s Race to the 8th entry, I discussed the hypothetical benefits of being a dude.

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Last for today is Celeste, of Celestedewolfe.com. I’m not sure why I thought she would like a sketch of a muscled merman, but that’s what she’s getting. For Celeste’s Race to the 8th entry, I discussed the role of genre in my writing.

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I hope everyone is having a good night!

-Grace out