Archive for June, 2020

Why I’m Learning Watercolor

So, as you know, Bob (sorry, writer joke), my word for 2020 is education, and part of that is taking a different art-related class on Skillshare each month.

(Except my membership runs out in August and then I shall have to fend for myself. Or, most likely, work my way through the drawing books I own.)

As far as art goes, I’ve been drawing forever. Mostly I sketch things out in pencil and then ink over them. You guys have been seeing examples of that technique since the blog began.

(Sometimes I just draw in ink and risk doom. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.)

But I’ve always run into an issue, and that’s with coloring. Despite my best efforts over the years, I just don’t really understand shading. I mean, I understand the theory of it. Somewhere, there is a light source, and depending on where you are in the drawing, some areas get light and others don’t, and the ones that don’t are darker than the ones that do.

It just never comes out looking quite right.

When I was younger, I tended to just use markers, which work out okay as long as you’re careful, but I still wasn’t shading. Just doing color block. And the same thing digitally, which was really frustrating, because invariably I had line art I liked which was then ruined by being colored.

(Which is why I did it digitally actually, rather than risking ruining the actual paper drawing.)

I have taken some classes on shading, and it has helped, but I still don’t feel particularly comfortable with it.

ANYWAY, long story short (too late), I decided to try out watercolors. Watercolors are kind of weirdly ethereal, and shading doesn’t seem to matter that much, since the colors are naturally variable based on the amount of pigment and water, etc.

And I actually really like them. I started a sketch journal at the beginning of the year and have been using an ink/watercolor combination, and the pictures have come out really well. Plus it’s WAY faster to color something with watercolors over colored pencils or markers.

This month I took two, shorter watercolor only classes. Previous classes I’ve taken have been watercolor/ink combos, but I thought it might be good to have a better understanding of the medium on its own.

The first project was to make a pattern, so I, of course, chose alpacas:

Alpaca pattern, because why not

(There is ink on that one, because otherwise they were just blobs. Also the dark brown was a mistake.)

Next we were supposed to paint something around us.

Tea kettle and vase (not pictured: coffee mug)

The teacher ended up with a really pretty flower bouquet but we work with what we have.

And the third project for that class was to paint the room, which went okay. I went out and bought real paint brushes, including a 1-inch flat one which makes it way easier to make a uniform color in an area. I don’t have a picture of that one, though.

The second class actually made me practice shading, the horror.

The ubiquitous sphere shading exercise

I mean, it’s not horrible. But I’m not going to pretend it’s good either.

And then we were supposed to use all the different techniques from the class to make a picture (including masking fluid, which I don’t own, white highlights, salt, etc.) but I am lazy and painted a pool.

The smaller, mobile one was disappointed that I did not include the cartoon fish on the bottom

Am I getting better? Hm, dunno! Probably a bit. All the art teachers on Skillshare talk about finding your own style and whatnot, and thus far my watercolor-only style seems to be a bit messy, but I don’t mind it. As I said above, I kind of expect watercolors to be that way. If I want something to have more structure, well, that’s what the ink is for.

The drawing/painting is also a nice stress reliever, and I’ve found it’s easier to work on this year than the writing has been, probably partially because I’m mostly doing it for fun, and probably partially because I don’t typically have to think too hard about it.

(Perspective! That’s another issue I have with watercolors. Everything kind of ends up caddywhompus but perhaps that adds to the charm. Or so I will tell myself.)

Anyway, that’s how this month has been going, art-wise. Know anything about watercolors? Thoughts about painting or drawing in general?

I’ll see you next week, squiders, hopefully with a library book sale find review, but reading’s gone soooooo slow this month, so we’ll see.

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What Happened to June?

Other than giving everybody whiplash and churning out new things every three seconds.

I mean, we’re a week out from the end of the month, and I’m not even sure what I’ve done for the past few weeks.

Not writing, that’s for sure. I wrote a short prompt response on Sunday, and it was the first time I’d written in forever.

Well, there was the anthology. Since I book format professionally (and because I love it a lot), I’m always in charge of doing anthology formatting. I also coordinated the intros for each story, wrote the intro for the anthology (and the back cover copy/description), and made the cover.

So that’s not too shabby!

I also took on a paying client for a nonfiction book, and I’ve been participating in the Summer Marathon over at my speculative fiction forum. I’ve talked about the winter/summer marathon before, but it’s basically a 12-week intensive critique cycle, where people in the group give you feedback on your story and you give them feedback on theirs. This time through I’m doing my scifi horror that I finished earlier in the year (now tentatively titled Rings Among the Stars) and it’s going really well. And because it’s a novella, I’m actually going to make it through the whole story over the course of the marathon, which is amazingly valuable.

There’s eleven stories in the marathon, though, so it takes some time to get through everybody else’s. You don’t have to–you only have to do two–but everybody always does everybody, or tries to.

So. Hm. That’s probably where my time has been going.

Plus I did something called the Stay-at-Home Story Summit, which was a mixture of marketing and craft webinars. That…may not have been the best use of my time. And I went to a couple of panels at TorCon for industry research. Yes. We will call it that.

Oh! And I started listening to my podcasts again. (I haven’t been for about a year.) I was already wildly behind, and so I continue to be so. I did drop one, one of my fantasy stories, because I realized I didn’t actually care about it that much and slogging through six years of podcasts to catch up sounded unbearable.

This post is actually very cathartic. I’d been feeling so bad because I wasn’t writing (or reading, either), and now I can see that I’ve actually been fairly productive, all things considered.

How has your month gone, squiders? Getting everything done that you hoped to?

Announcing The Best of Turtleduck Press, Volume II

How are you, squiders? I am exhausted.

But I come bearing good news, or at least a book, which is basically the same thing.

In celebration of our tenth anniversary over at Turtleduck Press (holy carp!), we’ve put out The Best of Turtleduck Press, Vol II.

Cover of The Best of TDP Vol 2

(In case you’re wondering, The Best of Turtleduck Press, Volume I came out in 2013, on our third anniversary.)

This was a fun exercise for our anniversary, since we got to read back through all the stories we’ve written for the past six years or so (and more, in some cases) and see which were our best. Each author has two stories included–one voted on as their best by everyone else, and the one they felt was their best.

(As an aside, both my stories are from the last few years, which, to me, is a good sign, because it means I’m getting better over time. Hooray!)

The anthology is currently ebook only, and only $.99. If you’d like some great shorts to read, you should go and get it.

I hope you’re doing well despite all the turmoil in the world, squiders. Regular posting returns next week.

Small Hiatus

Hey, squiders. Interesting times, eh?

I try to stay mostly on topic here at the blog, but at the same time, it almost feels…unseemly…to pretend like everything’s fine.

So I’m not going to.

I firmly believe that people have the right to not be judged or treated differently based on the color of their skin. I hope some positive action comes out of this.

No posts this week. And I won’t make guarantees for next week either, both because of this, and because my husband’s medical issues will be moving into a new phase as of Monday.

Stay safe out there, squiders.