Archive for the ‘Other Creative Things’ Category

October ArtSnacks (and Related Thoughts)

I got my ArtSnacks last week! Very exciting. Good to try new things. And find that you dislike all of them. (I would put a laughing emoji here if I could figure out how.)

Here’s my #artsnackschallenge pic for the month (and the supplies used to make it).

Octopus

Let’s go through each thing like we did last month.

Plumchester Paint Marker
It’s pink. I suspect, like the paint marker last month, that this would be great if I knew what I was doing. And wasn’t afraid of color. (At least this one is harder to drip paint on the carpet with. And you can reverse the nib so there’s different shapes to color with.) It’s thick acrylic paint.

Sennelier Ink Brush
So, essentially, this is a brush with the paint built into the handle. Mine is bright yellow. (The color’s a little off in the picture. It’s a lemon sort of color.) I have a travel watercolor set with brushes where the water goes in the brush itself, so this works the same way more or less, except with less steps and supplies. I like it, it flows nice, but it does seem like you’ll go through the paint fairly quickly and then have to buy another $8 brush pen. We’ll see!

Winsor & Newton Fineliner
Mine’s brown. It is quite fine, but it’s not waterproof, and when I was erasing the pencil lines around the octopus, I found that my eraser was erasing the fineliner as well (I used it for the sucker cups), so that’s less than ideal. Definitely going to stick with the Microns for now.

Royal Talens Indian Ink
Ah! Real ink! In a bottle! It’s very black and dries nice and quick. And doesn’t erase with the eraser, what the heck. I have hidden the bottle from the small, mobile ones, because that’s a terrible combination.

Speedball Standard Pen Nib Holder and No. 512 Pen Nib
I’ve never drawn with ink and a nib, because it’s always seemed very intimidating (and also, I am a klutz, and having an open bottle of ink is a bad idea). But it’s not bad! I have better control than I thought I would. The nib holder is pretty simple but does seem like it could hold lots of different types of nib, and the nib itself is fairly versatile, as long as you want to stay on the more narrow side.

The ink/nib combo is my favorite thing out of the bunch. It was much easier to use than I’ve always feared.

So far, when I’ve gotten a new box, I’ve done a silly page to try out the stuff before I do my official picture, so here’s the one for this box (cuz there’s a landsquid):

Scribbles

(It’s crinkly cuz it’s on the back of an experimental style I was trying out, where you sketch in colored pencils and then wash watercolor over them, but I think the pencils activated a bit with the water, so it’s more abstract than planned.)

I was also playing with some new brush pens (also Sakura Microns, because) last week, making flower wreaths:

black and white wreath
Colored wreath
Colored with watercolors

I like the texture the brush pens add to a drawing.

Art! Distracting me from my writing. Whoops.

I think I’ll give ArtSnacks one more month and then take a break. It is nice to try out new things, but I don’t necessarily want to accumulate a lot of supplies that I’m not really going to use in the long run.

(Although, if I get more paint markers in various colors, maybe I could experiment more with using them and figure out what I want to do with them. Maybe.)

Oh, the snack this month was a cherry Dum-dum. Good flavor. Dare I say candy is not really a snack? Candy is not really a snack. Though I suppose they are allergen free if you avoid chocolate.

Anyway! Still having fun. Hope you’re doing something to stay sane too, squider!

A Roadblock for the Education Goal

Oh, wait, I was going to draw you a landsquid for today. Uhhh…hold on.

Okay! Here we go!

Hooray! It’s fall, it’s October, my FAVORITE, as I no doubt mention every year (August was the 10th anniversary of the blog, can you believe that?). Time for sweaters and warm drinks (like I don’t drink warm drinks all year) and boots and pretty trees and everything wonderful.

But it almost means Nano is coming, and while September is really too early for Nano anything, October is prime prepping time, especially if one is trying out a new genre, one that requires a bit more planning than normal.

We’re most of the way through 2020, so if you’ve somehow missed me mentioning my word for the year, education, well, I don’t know what to tell you. As a recap, the education goal comes along with:

  • Two prompt responses a month to just write (as opposed to writing for publication)
  • An art class or book or stretch project
  • A writing book or class

I’ve completed these goals every month so far. But now that we’ve hit October, I’m starting to see some issues moving forward.

On the prompt responses, well, the prompt responses have been getting done, but other, larger projects (*coughChangelingnovelcough*) have not been getting done. I would very much like to have the first draft of the Changeling story done before November. Which may mean that I need to refocus my writing time, which means the prompts may not get done.

And, well, I’m not 100% on Nano (which will greatly depend on whether or not schools are open), but if I do it, then the prompts will, again, need to take a back seat.

Art! Hooray! (My next ArtSnacks is on its way and I’m super excited!) I was taking SkillShare classes, but my membership expired and I probably won’t renew it til the new year at the earliest. Last month I went through one of the drawing books I got from my mom (my mom is a book hoarder, which, well, is genetic I guess. But at least when she cleans out her writing/art books I get free, useful books) which was very interesting, but it’s hard to get through a whole book in a month. Every page or so I wanted to stop and try something out.

So for this month, and potentially the rest of the year, I could pick a book and go through it slower so I can practice more techniques. Or I could just free-draw, using the techniques I’ve learned earlier. Not sure yet.

Which brings us to the writing books/classes. This month is good. I’m reading a book about how to write mysteries. Not sure what to do about next month, though. I think Writer’s Digest has some short tutorials about mysteries. Since I’ll be working on a mystery, I think I want to focus there as opposed to reading a book on another writing subject. But it also seems like you have to do a lot of the work pre-writing for a mystery, so it may not make sense to learn more about mysteries at that point.

Maybe I’ll just take the month off.

Thoughts, squiders? Excited for fall? I’m hoping we get some moisture and everything stops being on fire.

My ArtSnacks Came! And Thoughts on Handwriting

As I mentioned last week, I signed up for a subscription box called ArtSnacks, which sends you some art supplies (and a snack) every month. Art supplies are horrible and addicting, so here we are.

Anyway. My plan is to try it out for a few months and see how I feel about things. And I got my first box on Friday, which was smaller than I expected (dunno why I expected otherwise, it’s just pens and stuff) and contained a jaw breaker as the snack for the month.

(Jaw breakers! My archnemesis. I hate actually sucking on candy but you must.)

They have an #artsnackschallenge each month, where you’re supposed to create art using all of (and only) what you got for the month, so this is mine:

(The blue is hard to see on the picture, but it’s on the inner and outer edges of the petals.)

I noticed that some other people got different colors, which is interesting to me, because some of the other art boxes I considered sent the same colors to everyone, sort of as a theme each month.

Quick thoughts on the supplies sent:

Kuretake-ZIG Cambio Tambien Brush Pen
This is the yellow-orange marker looking thing. I like it–the paint? ink? flows really nice and it creates a great, even color.

Uni-POSCA PCF-350 Brush Tip Paint Marker
This is the green one. I find it kind of intimidating, honestly. (Also, I misread the directions and got paint on my carpet, which was hard to get out.) It’s pretty thick. Do like the color, though.

Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencil
This is the NICEST color pencil. Pretty color, too. Wonder if I could make a whole picture with just it? Probably. Things to practice.

Sakura Pigma Micron Pen
Let me tell you how many of these pens I own. At least ten. I love them a lot; I use them whenever I’m working with ink. This is their 03 size, which is my favorite, because it’s not too thin and not too thick.

Initial thoughts? The brush pen/markers are not something I would have picked up on my own, so they’re the best things out of the box, because it lets me experiment with new mediums. The colored pencil is really great, since I tend to color with pencils, since I feel like I have more control with them than other methods I’ve tried. And, well, I didn’t need another micron pen but I can’t really be sad about it.

So I’m up for another month at least!

And now, on to the Luddite challenge. If you recall, this is a yearlong challenge I signed up for at the beginning of the year, where you handwrite a story instead of your usual methods. I signed up for 10 pages, which I am now past.

I’m working on a long novella/short novel-length story which is a sequel to a story that was published in an anthology six years ago.

And, to be honest, I don’t know that I like writing a longer work by hand. I feel like it’s hard to tell where I am and how quickly I need to be hitting my plot points, which is making me anxious.

It’s also slower. It takes me, oh, twenty minutes to handwrite a page, which is maybe 250 words. Probably less. I’m not really keeping track because ugh, but when I typed up the first seven and a half pages, it only ended up being about 1200 words.

Now that I’ve hit my goal for the challenge, I’m seriously considering switching over to typing the rest of the story. It kind of feels like cheating, but it also feels like I’m not getting anywhere as is.

Not to say that handwriting is bad! There’s ton of good reasons to handwrite–you’re somewhere without a computer, you’ve got some nasty writer’s block (I find switching mediums can really help), you’re writing something short or trying out a scene that may or may not make it into the final story. Lots more.

Things to consider. But not necessarily now. I’ve got to finish my changeling story. I’m doing a tag challenge this month where one person writes a logline, the next writes an outline, and the third writes the story. I’ve been given a contemp story with no speculative elements, which should be interesting, if uncomfortably out of my wheel house. And I’ve got to do Nano prep and the normal education activities for the month.

But I am glad I gave the challenge a go. Always good to try new things!

Tried anything new that was fun and/or interesting lately, squiders?

I’m Finally Going to Do It

(Every time WordPress updates it has to tell me how the editor works, even though as far as I can tell, there’s not actually any updates to the editor itself. Who knows.)

What am I going to do? you ask. A fine question. An excellent question.

Another appropriate question might be…are you actually going to do it?

Well, I’m going to try.

All right, enough silliness. I’ve always wanted to make a cloak. I’ve had a pattern for ever (it’s this one, now out of print: https://www.etsy.com/sg-en/listing/615865963/simplicity-9452) and, well, they’re not terribly hard, in the great scheme of sewing garments.

Not sure I’ll actually use this pattern though. It looks kind of costume-y, if you know what I mean, and I’d like something that doesn’t look like I went to my nearest Spirit Halloween.

Actually, I’d like to do something with slits so you could stick your hands through if you’d like. Not arms, though. I’ve done that. Back in college, I made myself some Gryffindor robes to wear for book/movie releases. Fully lined and everything, black on the outside and maroon on the inside.

(Actually, that was an important lesson in fabric choice, because I went with basic cotton for the black but gabardine for the maroon. Gabardine is a much heavier fabric, and so the lining tended to stretch more than the cotton.)

And, because I am a glutton for punishment, everyone gets a cloak! I think the small, mobile ones can have ones made out of fleece. Fleece is a lovely fabric to work with–it doesn’t fray, it comes in every color under the sun, it’s typically affordable.

I would make adult cloaks out of fleece but I suspect that would look a little weird.

Wool is the traditional fabric to make cloaks out of, but I am allergic to wool. Also, wool tends to be very expensive. I mean, it’s like $21 a yard, and you need a lot of fabric for a cloak.

So fabric remains a sticking point. I may just go play with fabric at the store, which is not necessarily the best idea (hooray for spreading germs) but not sure what else to do. It needs to be something heavy enough to keep you warm, with proper swoosh, and not stretch out too much over time. Hmm. Maybe I should look at recommended fabrics on cloak patterns.

Maybe jersey would work. Jersey’s almost as easy as fleece.

I think I’ll line the adult cloaks too. Though that depends on fabric choices. I suppose I could make them out of wool (for a million dollars) and line them with something else, and then maybe I wouldn’t have to worry about touching it.

Have you made cloaks, squiders? Tips? Recommended fabrics? Do you own a cloak that’s super awesome and has a tag that tells you what it’s made out of?

In other news, I’m trying out an art box subscription, the first of which should arrive today. And I’m going to start doing a study of cozy mysteries in preparation for finally trying my hand for Nano.

See you next week!

I Made You a Blooper-Reel

It’s a big day! It’s September, which means autumn should be here soon (please please please I long for sweaters and the entire state not being on fire), I have a new short story (a silly dragon one) up over at Turtleduck Press (which you can read here!), and I finally got my latest SkillShare class uploaded and published!

I always forget how long editing the videos takes. I never seem to remember that part. Some day. Maybe.

Probably not.

Anyway, the class in on genre: what it is, how it’s determined, examples of lots of different things. It’s here, if you have a SkillShare membership. I decided to do another theory class since the premise vs. plot is by far my best performing one (over finding and keeping track of story ideas and setting and reaching writing goals). We’ll see!

Anyway, while I was editing, I noticed that I make weird faces and stuff when I mess up, so I made a blooper reel. It’s just the video parts, not the slide parts, but enjoy!

We’re off to a promising start! Keep your fingers crossed that things continue in the same vein.

Not Making Progress?

You know what’s weird, squider? Tennis balls keep appearing in my backyard. My dog is overjoyed. But where are the tennis balls coming from? Why? (We’re up to four.) Best I’ve got is that some neighbor has lousy aim and also does not care enough about their tennis balls to come and ask for them back. They do not seem to be laced with poison or whatever the hell you see on the news.

In other news, I drew this picture yesterday/today:

Taken with my phone camera, hence blurry and also vaguely blue

I’m actually fairly pleased with it. Coloring looks decent, shading exists, all body parts look more or less proportional.

But then I had an attack of insecurity.

Kit, I said to myself, you are drawing people the same way you did back in high school. You have not improved at all in *mumblemumble* years. Your style is neither suitably realistic, if that’s what you’re going for, nor is it stylized in a way that is acceptable. You are a hack and you should give up right now.

This is a creative person issue and it is stupid, yet here we are.

I actually started this post with the thought that I would show you guys some of my high school art, and we could all bemoan how awful I was together.

(I happen to have some high school art handy, because I uploaded the comic strip I used to draw, The Misadventures of Fauble, to my deviantArt account, which I had forgotten existed and apparently haven’t touched in eleven years.)

But, you know, I looked through the stuff on the dA account (not a lot, not sure what I was doing with it) and…sure, I am still drawing with the same style, more or less. But, and maybe this is just me, it looks cleaner now. And you’ll notice none of the images in my dA account have any sort of attempt at color.

Sometimes, it may feel like we’re not getting anywhere, but all it might take is a look backwards to see that, hey, we are.

(And, to be fair, I haven’t drawn much in my adult life until fairly recently anyway, just a picture here or there, mostly story related. So it would be unrealistic to expect a great amount of improvement.)

Anyway, I wanted to say, hang in there! Practice may not make perfect, but it does make better, even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

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.

May is Going the Way of March

In that it feels like it’s taking a million years.

It’s the last week of school for the small, mobile ones, which is going very emotionally since they’re not getting to say goodbye in person. That’s been hard, especially since the smaller, mobile one will be going to a different school next year and may never see her school friends again.

Anyway, that’s been rough, and it’ll probably get worse before it gets better.

As part of our home curriculum, we’ve been watching Mythbusters (for Science!). Hulu has seasons 11-20 available for streaming, which is fun because the small, mobile ones really enjoy it, and because I must have stopped watching the show regularly before that, so most of the myths are new to me as well. There’s also a Mythbusters Jr. show which came out in 2019. We started with that one, and it was actually really great. But there’s only 10 episodes, so we got through that pretty dang quick.

The smaller, mobile one is also doing my drawing class with me this month. A lot of the focus of the class this month is on not being critical of yourself, and of just drawing to draw without worrying about everything being a work of art. We’re supposed to use normal paper and a pen, and she wants you to do confident lines as opposed to more sketchy lines.

It’s surprisingly hard. But fun! I have drawn some really awful things. And a couple of pretty good ones. Today we were supposed to practice drawing small things. I made the mistake of picking earphones to try and draw. The smaller, mobile one drew a bunch of adorable bees.

So, Eurovision is not happening this year, sadly, because life is cancelled, but they did put up all the songs that were in the running for the year, and have been putting up related programming on their YouTube channel (including contest shows from previous years). I was mostly underwhelmed this year (there are a lot of pretty songs, but nothing that really stood out) with the exception of what is, by far, the best Eurovision song of 2020:

Uno by Little Big, representing Russia

It is ridiculous and I love everything about it. They were robbed.

(Why is a Russian band singing in Spanish? Also, there is absolutely no substance to the song and I do not care.)

Aside from small, mobile one school drama, my month is going pretty well. I don’t have a lot of complaints thus far.

How is your May going, squiders? Is it lasting forever for you too? Did you watch the Eurovision songs for this year? Favorite?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day (and a Landsquid)

This is such a weird holiday. What did it even start out being? A feast day to St. Patrick? Well, I mean, yes, but why do we celebrate it here in the States?

(Obviously it came over with Irish immigrants. I am aware I am doing a bad job of articulating what I mean.)

(The Internet tells me that it became a big deal in the mid-19th century after the influx of immigrants after the potato famine.)

(The Internet also tells me that the associated color with St. Patrick was blue until the Irish Rebellion, when the Irish soldiers wore green to offset the British red. And that the whole wearing green pop culture thing is because of Chicago in 1962.)

(And the drinking thing came from a marketing push by Budweiser in the ’80s. Man, that’s not that old at all.)

Well, thank you, stream of consciousness blog post, I’ve learned something here today.

Anyway, I drew you a thematically-appropriate Landsquid. His eyes are dead because he has, too, realized that the holiday we know is only about 40 years old.

Plans for the holiday? (I have rainbow knee-high socks with gold shamrocks.) Interesting holiday-related tidbits?

How Goes the Education?

If you guys remember, my word for the year is education.

We’re three months in, now, so how’s it going?

Ha. Haha.

No, actually, it’s going decently. It may be the only thing making any real progress, thanks to the medical issues with my husband and other issues going on around these parts.

Except the programming. I have more or less given up on the programming. I don’t have time, it frustrates me, and the more I poke at it, the more I think that it’s not a good fit. (Which isn’t a huge surprise–it’s never really been my forte. In college, I’d write a program, it wouldn’t work, I’d borrow a classmate’s program, compare, and they would be identical, except theirs would work and mine wouldn’t.) I am good at adjusting programs–I can make changes in a test environment, or modify Fortran to do what’s necessary–but writing code from scratch sucks.

And to be honest, I don’t want to program so much as it feels like I should know how to program, if that makes sense. I need to take a closer look at the jobs I’m considering and see if that’s actually a necessary skill or not.

(Also, part of it is that programming classes are very open-ended. This skill here, this skill there, with no clear indication how some of it would be used in a practical manner. I’m quite good at picking up specifics for a particular task, but the open-endedness here is throwing me off.)

I may look more at other types of classes–software test, or UX/UI–later in the year, when/if things stabilize a bit.

The writing books…go. I was a little afraid this would happen when I set the goal of one of month. They’re hard to get through quickly, since I’m trying to focus and absorb. I’m still working on February’s. To off-set that, I’ve watched one of the tutorial videos I purchased from Writer’s Digest whenever they had that big sale. It was a good course, about the foundations of a good plot. It was short, so I’ve watched it twice to try and absorb the information as much as possible.

Not sure that worked, but eeeehhh.

The art classes are going great. I’ve really enjoyed the three classes I’ve done so far (art journaling, figure drawing, and I’m working on faces this month) though I don’t know if I’m actually getting any better. But practice makes perfect, right?

(I’m certainly accumulating art supplies, whoops.)

The prompts are going well too. It’s freeing, to write without trying to do anything with it (which is probably good, because I suspect none of them thus far are any good). I don’t think I actually explained the concept to you guys.

I’ve been accumulating pins on Pinterest for years: characters, scenery, prompts, etc. But I hardly ever do anything with them (especially these boards, since I tend to draw off my Inspiration board or my separate Writing Prompts board when looking for story ideas). So each month I’m taking the oldest pin from each board (character, scenery, prompt) and writing a short story on them. There have been some…odd combinations.

This month’s are:
Character: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/331718328795863331/
Setting: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/331718328796303296/
Prompt: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/331718328795821985/

The cozy mystery idea isn’t going anywhere, since I’d like to finish up some drafts before I start new ones.

Those were my main areas of focus, so yay, I guess? Things are going, I’m enjoying myself mostly (except for programming), and there’s still plenty of year to go.

How are you doing on your goals?