Everyday Magic
11:18 PM on Wednesday, February 17. 2010

Time's Little Trick

Time's flow is a funny thing. Some changes happen so slowly that you don't even notice that it's taken place until you look over your shoulder at where you came from, and you realize that, dude! So much has changed!

Art is like that. Improvements happen every time I draw, and I know that, but it just is so hard to accept. I don't want to get better by drawing. I just want to draw and have it turn out well. Silly art! There's nothing to be done about it, though, unfortunately.

That said, it's all worth it when you stop to look backwards. I used to think I was a pretty good artist. A pretty darned good artist. I loved my art, and I thought it was annoying when people said anything bad about it. I had a lot to learn about being humble and receiving critiques graciously.

Then again, I still need to learn how to do that.

Today I finished my Ice Queen finally, and it was so nice to have her all finished. It's been quite a while since I did a digital piece, and I've forgotten how much I enjoy doing them. My trusty old Wacom Intuos1 is still working beautifully, and it amazes me to think that this little gadget is about nine years old.

Man, I'm so rambly today. I just can't stick with the point.

The point is that I did some art today and I realized that I did a somewhat similar piece of art 9 years ago, and that I should compare the two. For kicks and giggles. And to see the beauty of time.

First, a piece I think I called Fire Faery from around 2001 when I was... gosh, 16 or 17. I was a teeny bopper on Elfwood at the time, my favorite art gallery (and about the only one, in those days). I've since moved all my files to a new computer, so I lost my time stamp on the image so I'm not really certain when it's from, but it's about that time period.

And now, my Ice Queen.

I'm awed. I know I'm not the best artist yet, that I still have a lot to learn, but... look at what I've learned so far. Look at how much I've grown. Anatomy, color, shading, style. It's inspiring to see my old art.

But also embarrassing.
7:35 PM on Friday, January 29. 2010

Ice Queen Progress

Ok, so I just haven't been having a good week. I did some more work on the fairy, as well as some general sketching, but I just haven't been feeling this art crap. Mostly because it's been bitterly cold (0 this morning) and I've been putting up with good ol' Aunt Flow, who leaves me wanting to eat a carton of ice cream more than do any art.

But today I decided to take the day off to just do anything I want to, rather than the stuff that I usually make myself do (like dishes, and art for other people), and I got inspired to work more on my Ice Queen. I'm really liking her. Honestly, though, in the hour and a half I worked on her, I spent more time looking at Russian court dresses than actually doing anything to her. But that's part of the process.

3:18 PM on Monday, January 25. 2010


Ok so I'm totally hyped up on caffeine right now and could probably write a book if I wanted to, but I'll save you from that and just get right to the art. The fairy princess is coming along nicely. Yesterday I worked on her skin and the darker reds of the roses and her shoes. It's taking me forever to work on her though, since I need to spend so much time working on the colors before I actually start coloring. But I'm learning, and that's always good.

I think.

2:51 PM on Sunday, January 24. 2010


Ok, so I actually missed a day. But only one day, believe it or not. Friday, I do believe. I really wasn't feeling up to anything that day.

Thursday I began working on coloring a coloring book image I found online. I really didn't want to do the next lesson in Masterful Color, partly because I wanted to try out the technique on my own but mostly because Arlene suggests you use a LOT of colors that I don't own. Which is crazy, by the way, because I have a set of 120 Prismacolor pencils plus I've bought at least half a dozen other colors online. So if I don't have it, I'm willing to bet that most people don't have it. Another slightly annoying thing is that she uses some colors that are only found in Prismacolor Lightfast pencils, and they've been discontinued.

Anyway, I found out while working on this piece that Arlene's technique is best suited for still lifes rather than drawing something out of your head. The reason is because when you're working from a picture of from something in front of you, you already know what color everything is, the texture, the light source and everything, which means you can start laying down the complimentary colors without much thought. But when you're starting from nothing and you haven't even decided what color you'd like something to be yet, let alone texture or light source, things get complicated fast.

My decision was to start with a light layer of the color I'd like things to be so that would give me at least a starting point to work from. That was a good move, I think. Without that, I would have been totally lost. I also spent at least half of the time experimenting with colors on a scrap piece of paper. It seems funny to me that most of my effort was on this little piece of paper, and yet most people would just throw the paper away when they were done.

Half way through working on her dress last night, I decided that something had to give. I felt like I was going blind trying to see the colors I was working with, and turning up the light even brighter made things worse. I hate working at night on art; no light bulb I've ever had has come close to the clean crispness that sunlight has. Also, I know that Cat has this weird fascination with light bulbs. He just stands and stares at them whenever we go through Home Depot. So I pulled him away from his computer and we drove down to the bulb section.

We ended up getting a 100watt equivalent extra cool CF daylight bulb after looking at all the other options. I sure learned a lot about bulbs and color temperature and such from my crazy intelligent husband. In the end, the daylight bulb is better but I wish it was brighter. I'm currently pairing it with a daylight halogen bulb, and they seem to balance each other out well. The CF bulb is very blue, where as the halogen is slightly pinkish and more yellow. It's probably the closest I'm going to get to actual white light.

So anyway, here's what I have so far.

3:43 PM on Thursday, January 21. 2010

My first finished piece

Well, for this project, anyway. I finished the pear and grapes last night, after avoiding doing it all day. I don't really enjoy working at night because all I have is artificial light, and it's so hard to work with yellows with that sort of lighting. I've got some reveal bulbs in my desk lamp, but I'm thinking I should try some day light bulbs and see how that works out.

Anyway, I'm not as happy with this piece as I was with the tomato from the first lesson in Masterful Color. I think the problem was that, with the tomato, Arlene went step by tiny step with you all along the way, but with the pear, she took out a lot of details. Things like when and how to feather colors, what pressure to use, and so on. I mean, I thought that eventually she'd shorten the list of instructions in the lessons, but not after the first image. Let's hope things get better next time.

Also, another small note. I've been working with some old Dick Blick paper I've had for about ten years now. It's starting to yellow and isn't very heavy at all, but it's got more tooth than anything else I have on hand. Plus, I figure this way I won't ruin any of my good paper with all these lessons. The rest of my paper is meant more for markers and watercolors, which means it's pretty smooth, since that's what I usually use more than anything to lay down colors. My colored pencils are usually an after thought, put in to add detail and depth. I can probably only lay down two or three layers of colored pencils on that paper. So if I want to continue this method of colored pencil work that Arlene talks about in her book, I'll have to get more pencil oriented paper.
12:55 PM on Wednesday, January 20. 2010

Day One: Pear and Grapes

Day one of my new experiment kind of went off track right away. I kept getting pulled away to read a book I had gotten into. Then I overdid the yoga and hurt my wrists a bit. But eventually, I managed to sit down for an hour and a half and work a little on the second lesson in the colored pencil book.

Luckily for me, Cat and I decided that the goal was to do an hour of art a day, rather than a full finished piece. But I would still like to strive to finish a piece a day. Oh yeah, so this isn't finished, in case you couldn't tell.

1:52 PM on Tuesday, January 19. 2010

My secret intentions

If you knew anything about this blog and its origins, you'd know that I was actually inspired by one Duane Keiser and his A Painting a Day blog. I thought it would be totally awesome to do a similar blog, chronicling my drawing a day attempts. Not only did I know that doing one piece of art a day would be the fastest way to gain some fantastic skills, but I also knew that it would be endlessly fascinating to readers. People as a whole tend to like watching other people make themselves uncomfortable, after all.

Unfortunately, I have no self discipline at all. I just can't get myself to do anything, no matter what I do. So although it started as a picture a day, it quickly turned into a picture a week, and totally deteriorated from there into a picture whenever the hell I felt like it. Pretty soon it was a picture once every few months, as I'm sure you can see.

For Christmas, I got a book from my brother-in-law that I've been pining for, called Masterful Color: Vibrant Colored Pencil Paintings Layer by Layer by Arlene Steinberg. Cat's mom told me that she was going to buy it for me, but thought that, heck, I already knew how to use colored pencils; what more could there be to know? That is, until she looked through the book and saw how professional and realistic the images are. I totally agree. The technique is something I'd like to work into my own style. The best part about the book is that it comes with step-by-step lessons and includes line art, so all you have to focus on is the way the colored pencils work.

The first couple of lessons were simply to help you learn about value and the way colors work together, but I did them anyway because I thought I may as well go through the whole book. Besides, it's been so long since I've really done any art, so I figured this was a way to get me into it again. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

The first real lesson was actually really...frightening. I mean, the subject is a bright red tomato, and you start by laying down a TON of green. I mean, I knew in my mind that it would work out just fine, that it would actually be wonderful, but that didn't stop me from totally freaking out when I thought the paper wasn't taking the red when I tried to put it down. But as I continued laying down lighter and lighter red, it just came to life. It was amazing to watch. I'll have to get the flip video I've been eying and totally record the process. And then speed it way up, because watching someone work on a tomato for two hours would be pretty boring.

Right, so, I got off the point there pretty quickly. I got the crazy idea in my head yesterday that, hey, if I just had someone pushing me to do daily art, that might help. But I also need to lose something if I don't do it. I've tried giving myself stuff for completing art, but that doesn't work. If you remember, I don't have any discipline, so even if I don't do the art, I'll give myself the prize anyway. E for effort. So I thought, well, what if I made it so I lost a buck every day I didn't do my art. That way, it would entice the person pushing me to push me (because they'd get the money), and it would make me more willing to actually do what I need to do. I figured that my walk through the colored pencil book would be a good start. Not only would it give me projects to do, but I'd also learn a great deal from them.

Cat's going to be the pusher, and we decided that the money he would get toward a candy fund, because there's nothing that drives me more crazy than the way that man can eat three pounds of gummy bears in two days.

So wish me luck. This should be fun.
1:48 PM on Friday, December 4. 2009

Life Changing Revelations

I don't even know how to start this, so I'm going to just start tying and hope that what I'm trying to explain will work itself out. So just humor me for now. It may or may not make any sense by the time the post is done.

I've discovered that there is a huge divide in the world. There are the people who are half full, and the people that are half empty. Duh, right? There have always been those people, everyone knows that. Some people are just positive, and some are negative. The shocking part, though, is that this mind set doesn't just affect how you feel; it changes how you interact with the world, and in turn determines almost your entire life.

You don't believe me? Think of the most unlucky person you know. The poor slob who has trouble keeping a job, keeping friends, keeping love partners, keeping their money. Now in turn, think of someone you consider extremely lucky, with a great life, great family, lots of friends, fantastic job. Got that?

Now ask yourself honestly which of those two people is the most positive. I bet the guy who is always down on his luck is constantly negative, griping about his life and generally unhappy. On the other hand, the guy with the great life is probably very positive, outgoing, happy-go-lucky and just fun to be around. I bet there are people who would complain that the happy guy is happy because his life is great, but you know what? If you're unhappy and negative, you're not going to be happy even with the best in life. If you're negative, you see badness in all things. But if you're positive, you know that it's vital to see joy in all that's around you.

I can honestly say that my family is mostly the negative type. And it finally occurs to me that that's why they've got such a string of bad luck. They're bound by their chains of hate and self-pity and can't find life's real joys.

I decided last night to never again be counted in the negative camp. My life is wonderful, and it can only get better from here. I'm not going to let negativity sap my energy and keep me from reaching my potentials.
3:29 AM on Monday, November 30. 2009

Life is what you make it

It's late, and I'm tired. I really feel like I should be posting art stuff in this blog, but life is art, isn't it? When you live an observant, artistic lifestyle, isn't everything you do artistic?

That's my excuse, anyway.

Today I made a revelation. I was reading the blog of Cat's and mine, and about his happy new life with his happy new wife. I was envious of their life and the beauty and fun in it. It's true that we don't know each other well and all I know about them is what I see on facebook, read in emails and see on their blog, but it all looks so sparkling and wonderful.

Later on, Cat and I took a walk because it was so warm out. It was in the 50s! I barely needed a coat (but I wore one anyway). And, like so many times before, I turned to him and asked, "Are you happy with your life?"

"Yeah," he answered, "but you don't seem so sure lately."

That's true. I really focus on the negative and let the good stuff fall by the wayside. It's almost as if I'm secretly trying to sabotage my own life. Like I unconsciously want to fail. If I have a great day, and then one bad thing comes along, I instantly forget the good stuff and zoom in on the bad thing. Why do I do that? Am I the only one?

And I realized also that, when I look at other people's lives, I get envious and start comparing my life with how I perceive their life. I can only see the happiness they're showing the outside world, and I take that and compare it to the negativity that I'm holding onto. Of course my life is going to fail miserably in that comparison.

So when Cat said that tonight, I realized that I need to look at my life by itself. I need to appreciate and love all the good things in my life. The moment I compare my life to another person's, it loses all its specialness. Just live and love.

After that, my day got amazing. We had such fun rearranging the furniture for the Christmas tree, getting out the decorations, setting up the funny old artificial tree, playing DDR (well, Ok, I watched), reading together, having a great dinner, and laughing, snuggling and chatting in bed until bed time. I love my husband and my life.
2:02 AM on Tuesday, November 17. 2009

Ice Queen: In Progress

I never know exactly what to say before posting some art, so I'll just stick with the bare minimum. This is a piece I'm working on currently. She's the Ice Queen, so beautiful and seductive, but cold as ice, baby.

P.S., I like to work with funky colors when sketching out lines.

5:40 PM on Thursday, November 5. 2009

Lily Lines

So I'm happily working on my lilies still. They have color today, but here's what they looked like before hand.

I didn't get a very good shot of it because the weather is crappy today and I didn't think to turn a light on. Go figure.
7:09 PM on Tuesday, November 3. 2009

Totally lethargic

There's nothing worse than a day where I just can't get myself to move. I mean, I bet I would be doing alright today if I could just get myself to get up and do something, but sadly, I can't. It's like I'm glued to the chair.

The one thing I did manage to do today is start a piece of art for someone's Christmas present. No dragons in this one. I'm pretty good at still lifes if I can get myself to do them, but generally, they're too tedious and a little boring for me. They' make me really nervous. I usually have to get up and pace around a little while working on them, but then again, I get that way with most of my art.

It's currently taped down on my drafting table, so I can't show my progress. And like I said before, I'm glued to the chair so I can't go take a picture of it. You'll just have to wait to see it.
4:13 PM on Saturday, October 31. 2009

Candy Corn... have emotions?

So. Right.



Just check out this link. It'll make you endlessly happy.
7:16 PM on Thursday, October 29. 2009

As Yet Untitled

I've got to start writing these blog posts in like Word or something from now on. Its like every time I start writing something, I totally lose it one way or another. I tried to backspace just now, and instead of getting rid of letters, I went back a page. Isn't there a firefox plug-in for that? Helps you recover your lost stuff? I should probably look into it.

Anyway, let me tell you right off the bat that this poem is pretty silly, but I really love it. I plan on illustrating it sometime. I even think it would make an awesome children's book. But we'll get to that another time.

I got the first six lines of it while I was right on the edge of sleep, and I debated a bit on whether I should get up and write them down. Eventually, I decided to do just that, and I'm really happy that I did. Writing it was so easy. It just flowed super well.

(As yet untitled)

"Jackson," said Clark, "You can't really mean it."
"But Clark," replied Jackson, "You haven't seen it."

"Good fellow," said he, "Pray, how could this be?"
"Jackson replied, "Between you and me,

It was greenish and yellow and sat by the pond,
And flossed its front teeth with a greenery frond."

Clark listened on with the greatest of care,
trying to see it as if he were there.

For Jackson was clever and not know to fib
and he had known Jackson from time in the crib.

The good man had paused to gather his thoughts,
then said, "Yes, I do believe it had spots."

"Down by the water, it sat unassuming
then all of a sudden, it came at me, looming.

The creature had eyes the size of a basket
What did it want? I sure didn't ask it.

I made my way straight to this great oak tree,
where now I stand trying to get you to see."

"I just don't know, Jackson," said Clark to his friend
"Though I try to believe you, my mind just won't bend."

"Clark," answered Jackson, "there is little time.
Either come with me now or climb up that pine.

The creature is coming, you really can't stay.
Grab up your papers and come straight away!"

Just as he finished, there was a great roar
echoing fiercly across the lake's shore.

Then suddenly came a most frightening sight,
a scaly green dragon flying at them with might.

It flew with such furry, such raw untamed power,
and quite before long it was making them cower.

The two men were too late to get up and run.
"Oh father," cried Jackson, "there goes your first son!"

"Quiet," croaked Clark, "Mayhap it won't see us.
If we don't move, perhaps it won't eat us."

So both of them stood almost perfectly still
hoping to look like just rocks on the hill.

But the dragon kept coming, flapping its wings
and blowing out deadly, blackened smoke rings.

It landed before them and made the earth shudder,
and despite his best efforts, Clark let out a mutter.

He held bated breath as it slithered near,
its sharp, shiny teeth made perfectly clear.

The tension grew thicker and Clark couldn't take it.
He wondered if he was going to make it.

All of a sudden, it cleared its great throat.
"Pardon me, fellows; where is South Moat?"

I looked for it all of today and last night,
and stopped by that pond to get a quick bite.

I was wondering why your friend up and ran.
I thought he looked like such a qualified man."

And here the beast puffed and made his chest swell,
"But if you're afraid to answer me, well,

I guess I'll just have to find someone who's bold."
And with that the dragon left them standing there cold.

They looked at each other, quite numb from the scene.
"Jackson," said Clark, "We must seem quite mean.

You know what they say about judging a book.
That sounds like advice that we should have took."
2:07 AM on Thursday, October 29. 2009

Reading Draft's Fantastic Birch Beer

(This is for Wordless Wednesday. Ok, so I know this is supposed to be WORDLESS, but since this is my first one, I thought I'd say a little. You can find more about it over at WordlessWednesday.com. Oh yeah, and for all of you not from Dutch Country, Birch Beer is not beer, it's pop (aka soday).)