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!
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.
Or the beginning.
Most likely, a particularly productive bit of middle. I’ll try to stick with it as long as I can.
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.
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.
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:
Originally, I wanted a futuristic city-scape for the background (I’d been watching a lot of Doctor Who, okay?):
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.
I decided the city was way too much trouble, but still wanted to keep the blimps. Face is getting there.
And nearly there. Goodbye blimps, hello castle.
And the rest is mostly lighting and finishing. Scroll back up for the [as] finished [as it’s going to get right now] piece!
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And next, Laura. She gets a dragon. For Laura’s Race to the 8th entry, I discussed the hypothetical benefits of being a dude.
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.
I hope everyone is having a good night!
Day 8! My birthday! The race is over!
(Just by the way: you all saw the photo of my birthday flowers in yesterday’s post, right? They’re really lovely.)
The Writing Day
And… I made it to the end of the manuscript. Wheeee!
Now, making it to the end doesn’t exactly mean I’m done. There’s still that bit I skipped in Chapter 11, all that tidying up in Chapter 1, that one thing to resolve in Chapter 5, and that one formatting decision to make. Still, though, I made it to the end. It’s pretty exciting. I’m going to give myself one more week to fix all of the above, and then I AM LETTING SOMEONE ELSE READ THIS SUCKER.
I have made huge amounts of progress this week. Seriously, huge. In 8 days I’ve finished chapters 9, 10, 11, and 12 (except for that one bit of 11.) I want to thank you guys so much for reading this blog and for encouraging me in this project. It means a lot. I feel very blessed this birthday.
On to the blog topics!
And the winner is…
Lady Higg! Congratulations!
If you’ve been following this blog, you already know that Lady Higg is my best friend. Tragically, she lives in Michigan, and I haven’t seen her in FOREVER (or, you know, since July). You should totally check out her beer-themed blog: Ales to Stouts. She’s been having a rough few days, so head over there and show her some love!
Lady Higg’s Entry: Since leaving college, have you found it harder to write, or less hard? Do you find that not being in a classroom everyday, surrounded by people who are creatively challenged (at least academically) a challenge as a recent graduate/author?
In some ways, college feels like a very long time ago! In general, it has been easier to write since graduation. This is because I haven’t had all those other academic pursuits sapping all my strength and focus; writing has been it. That’s sort of the tragic thing about college—you have inspiration coming at you on all sides from so many people and experiences, but then there’s so much to do to keep up with school requirements that it’s nearly impossible to make headway on personal projects. Unless you sneakily make your personal projects into school projects, which admittedly I did all the time. I do miss Writers’ Club, and the Writing Center, and I miss talking with other people who are having all the same creative and literary challenges as me, but the blogosphere fills that gap a little. In fact, the blogosphere is pretty saturated with young women trying to write their first YA book, so that creates a sense of community. Mostly I miss hanging out with the crew; Lady Higg, Leftenant Weatherby, Constable Maelstrom, Lorax, Fights With Centaurs, and all the rest, but I’ve been keeping in touch with them through the interwebs, and I hope to see some of them again soon. I feel like the writing circle is still very much alive. Also, since leaving college, I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve been able to make writing my main focus. Thanks to the generosity of my parents, I haven’t had to worry about room and board, and I’ve been working in a very part time capacity to pay for everything else. Sometimes I feel like a freeloader, but my parents are helping me out because they believe in my book, and so I’ve decided the best thing I can is take advantage of this opportunity and make as much progress toward my dream as possible.
Thanks for your entry, Lady Higg! You’ll be receiving your name doodle prize in a week or so, and by the end of February at the latest.
SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT: I only have two entries left in my entry box. And, so, I’ve decided that EVERYONE WINS!
Bonus Winner #1:
TAOZI’s entry: Ingredients found in a “The Wanderlust Salad”:
“Diets” often entail cutting out food. It is more beneficial mentally to bring more INTO it instead. Obviously, bringing the RIGHT stuff. What do the ingredients look like for “The Wanderlust Salad”. We have all heard of “The Waldorf” “The Cobb” and “The Caesar”. Now its time to get creative and put together a colorful, delicious, and INTERESTING “Wanderlust Salad”. Bon A-petite!
Put Music, Magic, and Irish Mythology in a large bowl. These three ingredients make the base of the salad. Next, add a healthy serving of pretty young men, using the Vanya and Taniel varieties. Throw in a handful each of goblins, wolves, swamps, and battlefields. Add some horses, if you have any, and if you’ve got an airplane sitting in the back of the pantry go ahead and toss that in too. Garnish with classic rock, friendship, and adventure. Toss well, and enjoy!
Thanks for your fun question, Taozi! You’ll be receiving your name doodle prize in a week or so, and by the end of February at the latest.
Bonus Winner #2:
Cora. Congratulations, Cora!
Cora is a friend from the magical realm called The Writing Center, where I used to work. We also got to hang out for a weekend in Maine this summer. 🙂
Cora’s Entry: Write about the legend of the Writing Centaur, how it began and those who made it flourish.
The Writing Centaur is an eternal being. He had no beginning; he has always been. It is true, however, that he didn’t always reveal his presence to those who trespassed on his realm, those mortal children who spent a mere year or two fighting against illiteracy, plagiarism, and misused semi-colons in the Writing Trenches of Northern Michigan University. I believe it was when Leftenant Weatherby ascended to the Writing Throne (have worked his way up through the ranks by becoming a member of the Red-headed Writers Cabal, questing to various writing conferences, and otherwise currying favor with the almighty Z) that the Centaur first revealed himself to the students of his domain. The Centaur knew that here was a monarch worthy of himself, and from that day onward the writing soldiers had to guard their backs, for they knew now that the Centaur was watching. It should be noted that, while the Centaur is a majestic and magical being, he is not safe, and he is a dangerous creature to live with. It was when Leftenant Weatherby was succeeded by Fights With Centaurs that the battles became truly serious; Fights With Centaurs earned her name when she forced the Centaur back Beyond The Door. For the rest of that year, while Fights With Centaurs crafted zombie-escape plans and dealt with the politics of the Writing Court, we of the Writing Trenches heard the ominous beating of the hooves against the door in the back of the room. The Centaur will always knock, and he will always punish those in his domain who fail to respect the Writing Ways.
Thanks for your question, Cora! I miss the Center, and the Centaur. I hope someone is keeping him in line these days. You will be receiving your name doodle prize in a week or so, and by the end of February at the latest.
And that’s it! I declare the Race to the 8th Marathon officially over. Now it’s off to eat some birthday shrimp (with sugar-free frozen yogurt for dessert!)