Archive for the ‘Other Creative Things’ Category

An Unintentional Pandemic Journal

So in 2019, I posted my first SkillShare class, and, as part of that, I got a free year subscription, which I mostly used to take drawing and painting classes. One of the classes I took was called something like Sketch Journaling, which, as the name implied, talked about sketching your day versus straight journaling (though there were words included in the sketches).

I enjoyed the class, and bought a mixed media book and some sketching supplies, with the idea that I would sketch our vacations, as I didn’t think I could commit to journaling every day, sketching or writing or otherwise.

And so I did. In January 2020, we did a ski weekend, which I used as a test of the vacation sketch book concept. It went well, and I foresaw really getting into it when we took our Caribbean cruise in March of 2020.

Except, of course, we did not take our cruise in March of 2020. Instead, it got cancelled two days before we were supposed to board, and we ended up driving to Moab instead, where, as the week went on, hotels began to shut down, restaurants closed, and COVID numbers climbed worryingly.

And, because it directly affected our vacation, it’s all in the journal. And because we’ve done a trip every three months or so since that time period, each entry has ended up being a small time capsule of what was happening, pandemic-wise. Whether we were wearing masks or not, how safe an area felt COVID-wise, things that different locations were doing that we weren’t doing at home, and vice versa. Weird quirks that changed plans. Worries that things would be more or less dangerous than they ended up being.

As we, in theory, begin to come out of the pandemic part of COVID and move into the endemic part, it’s interesting to look back at where we were when, at the fears that ended up justified or overblown, at our mental states in different situations.

I guess it’ll keep going. The book’s only about 2/3rds of the way full. I dunno if I told you guys that we did get to go on our cruise finally, two years after we were supposed to go. Time to add that into the book, so it can continue the story.

Have you guys been tracking the pandemic somehow? Thoughts, or things you’ve noticed?

Theater Thoughts

So, the show is over! Hooray! I had a good time, we sold out the run, and we got two and a half standing ovations. No one messed up in any obvious ways, and the bigger, mobile one, despite many tears and arguments over the length of rehearsal, came up to me as we were breaking down the set and said, “Mom, thanks for not letting me quit.”

Awwww.

(He’s also decided he’s going to do every musical from now on, but when I suggested doing children’s dinner theater or doin a summer show at the local kids performing arts troupe, he was having none of it. Sigh.)

I do think I will stick with my plan of not doing the musicals going forward (not sure the bigger, mobile one is allowed to do them without me, so that’s going to be a thing), or at least I will need to look at them closely before going in and remember how I feel about them and make the decision knowing I’m probably going to be frustrated with the casting.

Added on to the musical is that my high school theater teacher, who was a major influence on me, passed away this weekend. (Kind of ironic to be late to that news because I was busy performing.)

So I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of days thinking about high school theater, and how great a time I had and how much I learned, even though my teacher was kind of a jerk and was prone to cussing at us when he was frustrated. He really did provide us with an excellent program–lots of opportunities to try out different things, and always pushing us out of our comfort zones. We did three shows a year: a drama, a comedy, and a musical (I only did my senior musical, not getting cast in the earlier ones, so you see that this is an ongoing weak point). One of those would be Shakespeare (not the musical). Plus, on top of that, we had a children’s theater troupe that would go to local elementary schools and perform, the occasional one act play festival, improv competitions, and whatever he got it into his head to do.

(He was a bit of a mad genius. He’d come up with these ideas for shows that sounded crazy, but were always amazing in the end.)

Kind of weird, the two events coinciding. Lots of confusing feelings.

But, anyway! Now on to revising Book 1, which is going about as horribly as I feared. But we shall persevere. More on that later in the week.

Spring looms, squiders! See you in a few!

Once Again, I Forget

Hello, squiders. Sorry for, like, just disappearing last week. I ran into this issue where I was so not looking forward to something that I found it hard to do other things.

Very inconvenient. Must ponder how to avoid in the future.

Anyway, it’s now February, the darkest and shortest month of the year. We got a foot of snow today, yet I still had to go out in it, and will have to do again, because despite literally everything else being closed, rehearsal is apparently still going to happen.

Which brings me to the main point of this post.

In December, I tried out for my local theater company’s show, The Pirates of Penzance, because I think it’s funny and I like pirates. I spent a ton of time working on an audition song, which, like usual, was amazing at home and went way worse at actual auditions (though probably the best they’ve ever gone, so that’s something).

Oh, and the bigger, mobile one is old enough to participate now, so he came along to audition.

So, long story short (too late), we both got cast as police, which was a disappointment to both of us, since we wanted to be pirates. Also, the police are only in Act 2 so we also have to sit around for half a show, which is hard for the bigger, mobile one, who is on the autism spectrum.

Anyway, back in December we had a rehearsal where we just sang through the show start to finish (very boring, should have brought a book for bigger, mobile one) and I had this revelation while I was listening to the principals sing.

And that was that I didn’t want to be them.

Like, I’d gone to all this trouble to do a solo instead of an ensemble audition, and why? I didn’t want a solo. I never want a solo. I don’t actually like singing by myself in front of people and I don’t actually really like doing musicals, so what the actual heck?

Anyway, because the police are in the show so little, we haven’t actually had to do much (we’ve been to three total rehearsals) so it’s kind of been out of sight, out of mind and not much stress. But now we’re less than a month from the show and I’m torn between “Oh God we’re almost live and we haven’t even blocked all of Act 2 I have to practice omg” and “I don’t really care, this is the easiest part ever, I would rather be writing.”

(The bigger, mobile one is an added complication. He’s been doing a lot of complaining about the amount of time rehearsal is taking up–again, not much, not yet–and he’s having difficulty with the choreography because he’s 9 and has no training and also apparently no rhythm. He’s also easily bored and has trouble following along in the music or the script. Perhaps not my best idea. At least he’s having fun when we’re actually doing stuff.)

So I was complaining to my husband that I was never going to do another musical again, that what I really wanted to do was straight acting but this group almost exclusively does musicals, etc., etc., he pointed out that I’d said all of this the last musical (which was Music Man in Feb 2020, right before everything shut down).

And I’d forgotten. I’d completely spaced that I’d come to this realization during Music Man, that the musicals weren’t for me and I should stop doing them and focus on other things I wanted to do, like writing or finding a theater company that did non-musical shows. I’ve gone back and looked at the blog here, and I’ve got a whole post about it.

Is it because COVID happened? I mean, 2020/2021/2022 thus far are just kind of a huge jumbled mess in my brain. So would I have remembered that I had decided not to do anymore musicals if things had stayed normal? Or would I have forgotten again otherwise?

Will I forget again, and in another two years be right back where I am now?

God, I hope not.

But just in case: Kit. Do not spend time and money putting together a solo for musical auditions. You will be grumpy about not getting a real part but also be grumpy about there not being any real parts you actually want (which is a straight acting/no singing role, which is extremely rare in any musical). You will be grumpy because you were a big deal actor back in high school/college and feel like you should be able to have a role where you can show your chops but you will not get a chance to do that in this theater company. You must accept this. Let the musicals go. If they do readers’ theater or a straight play, focus on those. Otherwise, look for other opportunities elsewhere. Or, you know, just focus on your writing.

You’re already writing and drawing. How many creative things do you think you can manage? Be reasonable.

But, anyway, I may be a bit spotty this month. I have feelings, squiders. They are confusing and stupid. (It’s something like–I am having fun when I actually doing something but I am also resentful about having such a small part. I don’t know. Stuff.)

(ALSO I am always cast as a police officer. Something about me must say police officer. The first role I ever got in a show was a police officer, and I’m at 75% police officer roles with this particular theater company too.)

(I was a pick-a-little lady in Music Man, which thus far is the only non-police role. There was a police officer role, but that person had lines so of course I did not get it.)

13K for January, though, which was not shabby! I’m into the climax. I meant to start it today, but we had a snow day (except from rehearsal, apparently) so I have had small, mobile ones everywhere.

See you later, squiders!

Santa…Squid?

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! I drew you guys a Landsquid.

Santa Landsquid

I drew him in 10 minutes yesterday. Tried that other set of ink again, and it’s still smudging, sigh. I’m out of ink on my Sakura microns so I need to get some more if someone didn’t get me any for Christmas.

It’s about time to start thinking about stuff for next year, but I’m finding it hard to find the time. Next week, I guess. I think I want to add in a video game goal this year. Keep buying them and not playing them, which is silly. So maybe play a certain number of hours a month? Start a new one? Kinks need to be worked out.

Anyway, I hope everyone’s weekend goes well and no one gets COVID. See you next week!

New SkillShare Class Up!

Oof, squiders. I always forget how long the video portion of a class takes.

In my head, every class–and this is my fifth class–the hard part is putting together the PowerPoint part of the class, and the recording part is the easy part.

Well, I guess the recording isn’t too bad.

But the editing of those recordings? Oy.

I think I’ve spent about eight hours on the editing part. My video editor was starting to get REALLY grumpy.

(It is my longest class, at 40 minutes, but 8 hours for 40 minutes? Oof.)

Though, I will admit, it’s generally easier for me to focus on the recording/editing parts. Maybe they’re just more interesting because it’s not something I do very often.

Seriously, though, why do the PowerPoint portions always take me so long? I wanted this class up in March, maybe April. And here we are, in late May. Excellent job, self.

That being said, I’m considering doing a workshop for my next class, one where students follow along with me as I work on something. It’d be less formal, and it would involve no PowerPoint.

Maybe an outlining workshop, to follow up this class (oh, yeah, this class is about types of outlines). I do need to get a novella or two going, so it would be killing two birds with one stone.

(I had an idea for a novella yesterday while I was walking the dog, but I’ve already forgotten it. This is why we write everything down. WAIT NO I REMEMBER)

But it’s done! It’s up!

Work has been accomplished!

Anyway, if you’re interested, the new class is here! And I shall see you guys next week, no matter what.

Welp

Well, squiders, I’m still not done with Uglies. I thought this would be fairly easy since it’s YA and not terribly long, but sometimes with YA I just don’t connect to the main character very well and then it slows everything down.

Or it could just be a sign of my general state of mind. Who knows! Making progress now, though, so soon.

I’ve also finally made some progress on working on World’s Edge as well. Not much, not what I was hoping for, but sometimes, taking that first step, especially after you haven’t worked on a draft in a while, is the hardest.

I’ve set a goal of 25,000 words on it for Camp starting tomorrow.

Camp Nanowrimo has always been very hit or miss for me. It doesn’t carry the same creative energy that sweeps through a normal Nano. There’s not the in-person stuff, and it’s not as many people. Plus the cabin set-up makes it so you really only have a few people that it’s easy to regularly interact with.

So my Camp history is very spotty. Generally I manage about 10,000 words, no matter what my goal is or what I’m working on. Sometimes I don’t do anything at all, and sometimes I manage 25,000 or more.

I think I can manage 25,000, but I do need to put some sort of schedule into place. I know from experience that if I try to just get to it eventually sometime in the day, it doesn’t happen.

In other news, I’m still playing podcast catch-up. I got a little burnt out on Myths and Legends–turns out 100 episodes of something, when you’re listening to several episodes a week, gets old–so I’m working on some of the other ones that weren’t quite as far behind.

I’m going to talk about two here–Start With This and Inn Between.

Start With This is by the Night Vale creators, talking about creativity and writing. It’s geared toward making your own podcast, but a lot of their tips are general to story telling in general. And it’s nice, just going back over things, as well as learning things that are not necessarily useful for prose but are interesting nevertheless. Knowledge! It is beautiful. And it helps to know that they, too, have issues with anxiety and periods where creating is hard.

Inn Between is a fantasy podcast that takes place at the inn in between adventures. So you don’t hear the adventures so much (unless they follow the characters into the inn) but it’s a really interesting look at character dynamics and a neat twist on the genre. I’m a little behind (at the end of what came out in 2020) and apparently we’re getting new characters for season 3, which makes me a bit sad because I’m very attached to the original characters now.

Well, that’s me! Off to make plans for success, and I shall see you all on Friday. Maybe with a book for discussion! We shall see.

AWOL

Hey, squiders, sorry I’ve been AWOL for the last week. Things have been…stressful.

I keep hoping that my productivity will make a return, but the fact of the matter is that my anxiety is high and I’m finding it really hard to create right now.

Uglies for next Tuesday, hopefully.

Landsquid for today.

I remembered to shade this time.

I hope you guys are doing okay.

March ArtSnacks

Here we are, again! But I did actually cancel my subscription this time, so this is the last one. For now.

All in all, I feel like the ArtSnacks was a decent subscription for the price. I got a lot of things I wouldn’t have picked up or tried otherwise. And it’s been fun each month to try and incorporate the different colors and mediums into a cohesive picture.

Maybe in a few months I’ll resubscribe and get some more stuff. We’ll see!

Anyway, here’s this month’s picture:

A bit more stylistic than normal, but I like it, at least.

Let’s go through the thing.

Plumchester Paint Marker
Mine’s kinda an aqua green, which is one of my favorite colors, hooray! I got another one of these in an earlier box. This one felt a little hard to get good color coverage, but I may just need to pump it more. (It’s acrylic paint.) I guess they got new colors so they sent them out again.

Chameleon Color Tones Colored Pencil
This is a double-ended colored pencil–mine is peach and darker peach–and I guess they’re designed to blend together perfectly. It’s a nice color pencil, and the colors do go together nicely. I already have a nice peach-colored pencil, though.

KUM CUB3 Pencil Sharpener
This is a really nice pencil sharpener, and I did need one. Super excited for this, as silly as that sounds. It fits multiple sizes and can work on both pencils and crayons. Also, it’s made of eco-friendly plastic.

Kuretake-ZIG ai Liner Brush Pen
This is a black brush pen, apparently fashioned after eyeliner. Probably not the best idea, since they had to include a warning not to actually use it AS eyeliner. The ink didn’t flow quite as fast as I wanted it to, meaning I had to go over my lines a few times. I definitely prefer the Sakura brush pens, but one can really never have too many, amirite?

ArtSnacks x Blackwing Pencil
It’s ArtSnacks’ 8th birthday! Happy birthday to them. They made these custom pencils for everyone. I sharpened mine with my new pencil sharpener, and they have a cool flat eraser that I can see being useful for more careful erasing situations.

As I said, I’ve had fun with the ArtSnacks! I’d definitely do it again sometime. But for now I’m happy to play with what I have, though I will miss the anticipation. Maybe now I need to find a different sort of challenge, one where you’re tasked to use the materials you have in new ways.

How are you, squider?

Snow Day Interlude

We got a foot and a half of snow overnight, squiders, which means that the schools just gave up and everyone was home all day. Which means my focus was completely off, not like I’ve been getting anything done recently anyway.

I’m strongly considering picking up something else for a bit, at least so I have something to do while I wait on beta feedback. I’m starting to think I should have gathered beta commentary while working on something else this whole time, but, of course, hindsight is 20/20. Besides, reading through the story is what me search out betas in the first place.

Got to strongly think about my productivity in general and try out something new to make sure things are getting done–or moving at all.

I’ve been reading The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, which has several stories within stories going. I’ve found myself wondering how she put the story together–did she do the mythology first, and then build the stories around that? Maybe it would be fun to try something like that, writing interlocking stories where it’s not quite clear how they’re collected.

Not like I need a new project. But you know how it goes.

ANYWAY, not much happening in these parts. But I did draw you a landsquid to celebrate the first real snow we’ve had all winter.

Snow Landsquid

In retrospect, I should have added in some shading. Oh well! Next time.

I’ll see you next week–and next month! And hopefully I’ll have found some mojo in the meantime.

February ArtSnacks

I still haven’t cancelled. I have no excuses.

Good variety this month, though–stuff I haven’t gotten a bunch of, for the most part. Actually, only two colored things, hooray!

Let’s get into the haul, shall we?

Higgins Acrylic Ink
This is the bottle of ink. I thought it was black, initially, but having done the image and actually, you know, looked closer, it’s actually Payne’s Gray. I have Payne’s Gray in my watercolor set too, wooooo. At least with the watercolors, it’s good for a wide variety of gray tones. Obviously the ink here is pretty dark, but I’m sure that can be played with.

I like acrylic paint/ink in general–it covers well and easy to clean up. I still am a little nervous about having bottles of ink floating around, however. Disaster in the making.

Princeton Velvetouch Series 3950 Synthetic Brush, Round Size 4
This is a nice paintbrush! It worked well with the ink, and I don’t have a round size 4 otherwise. Not much to say beyond that, really.

Kuretake-ZIG Metallic Clean Color Dot Double-Ended Marker
Silver, of course. I have another Kuretake-ZIG something or other from a previous box. It’s a yellow brush pen that I got my first month. This one is also nice–a nice metallic silver, which is a lovely color. Double-ended, with a large round side and a much-narrower side. I used most the thin side, though I used the wider side for the moon. Dries a bit slow, so something to be aware of.

Koh-I-Noor Thermoplastic Eraser
Mine’s yellow, obviously. To be honest? Not my favorite. I felt like it didn’t do a great job of erasing the pencil sketch. It is nice to hold, however.

Caran d’Ache Grafstone Pencil
This is a solid piece of graphite, as opposed to being a piece of graphite encased in wood, like a normal pencil. There’s an element to be played with here, if you were more creative than I am. Maybe I should try more straight pencil art instead of working with ink and colors all the time. Things to ponder.

So, I appreciate getting some gear instead of just paint pens and markers in weird colors. Erasers are always good, especially if they don’t smear the ink, and the paintbrush will be useful for a number of different mediums. And I really like the silver marker. It’s got a great metallic sheen, and seems thick enough that it could go on top of just about anything.

I might cancel this month. Or I might not. It is nice to try out new things every month, and it does make it so I do some experimentation that I might not otherwise.

I’m mostly experimenting with color lately otherwise–I bought myself a set of water-based markers, and received a nice set of colored pencils and some alcohol-based markers for Christmas. I REALLY like the alcohol-based markers, but they do give me a headache after awhile, and it’s too cold to work outside, so oh well.

How are you, squiders? Art thoughts?