Gosh what have I been up to lately? Maybe a lot! A lot of small things. Knowing that my current day job isn't going to last forever, I am going out every weekend. Turns out, I feel awful if I go even one day without walking for 3+ hours. Above is the end of a chinese new year parade JUST before several inches of snow fell and surprised all of us.
A few weeks ago, I filled this sketchbook. It may have taken me a year to do so. I don't do a lot of general sketchbooking anymore, at least since I started a separate patreon sketchbook. And I haven't started a new one yet. Just making notes and doodles on paper scraps.
Speaking of patreon, I've sent off envelopes of random stuff I made last month to the mailing tier. I know it says I send out a 5"x7" sketch from the sketchbook, but I also like to include any flat, paper item of interest... sometimes it's ephemera to use for crafting, sometimes it's something I made. Like these colour wheels I didn't know what to do with, and some painted penny art. Next month, it might be a tiny zine. Who knows! It's a surprise.
Last week, I was marveling to myself about how we've been wandering outdoors almost every weekend through the whole winter season so far! I wondered: why did we never adventure like this before? Well last weekend, it was hovering around freezing and I quickly realized how less fun it is to wander for several hours with frozen toes! It was still worth it for this wild, bougie affogato pictured above. Yeesh! Parts of Vancouver are fancy!
Today we went downtown, as usual, and were interrupted by -7C snowstorm! It was pretty great, however chilling. Not that we weren't prepared, exactly. I wore two pairs of socks, two pants, and three shirts, after all. :D
Coming up: A mixed media canvas painting, some polymer clay coins (pins maybe??) and framed watercolour butterflies.
There is a very specific tree on my commute where sits a particular eagle nearly every day. Sometimes he has a special friend visitor, and sometimes the tree is empty. But on the day it was empty, there was a huge raven instead! With all the leaves gone, now provides a special opportunity to look up. See things. Experience awe.
This is the first year (I think), where we continue to have wandering adventures every week. Patreon helps a lot, because I like to go out and take reference photos to share with patrons. Next month is going to be cityscapes theme, and there is too much to photograph around here!
I've been mostly just working on patreon stuff whenever I get a chance, but I'm also in craft fair mode... I'm allegedly "in", and I want to have a "real" booth, you know? We're building a pegboard stand at the moment. But I'm also keeping an eye out for interesting objects, like the organizer above! It's heckin' cute! I could put small prints or zines in the bottom, and hang tiny art pieces on the wire...
Here's a sneak peek at next week's youtube video: a sketchbook flipthrough! I finally filled up this miscellaneous paper sketchbook. Some of the pages are coloured drawing papers, and I am obsessed with how good pencil crayon looked on these. This finch drawing? Done very quickly and looks just fabulous, all because of that paper. I think I still have my second copy of this sketchbook in the shop if you want a challenge. ;)
And join the sketching group on patron (for as little as a dollar a month) if you need a little motivation to fill it!
As I was saying on twitter on January 1st, new years usually start out with a taste of unexpected optimism, even for me. The act of counting inventory for Future Tax Me is very dull, but it forces me into a Serious Business perspective which is kind of validating no matter how things are really going!
On the other hand, I did apply to a local craft fair for the spring. I haven't bothered with craft fairs for a few years, mostly because they were a money pit. It's really hard to sell art in general, and especially when you're not a fan-artist. I also probably started working weekends.
As far as I know, however, the one fair I applied to may still have high standards - sole creative businesses (so no multi level marketing), unique wares, actual effective marketing, and they judge heavily on booth design...
...which is why I would be really surprised if I got in.
I fit in okay at (practically empty) elementary school fairs, but this is as exciting as my table ever got.
REGARDLESS, I've been obsessing over the idea. I've been digesting so many pinterest boards, imagining how I would love my art booth to look. I want pastel pegboards with art hanging on them. I want a tiered shelf to better showcase the journals (which really only have a good chance of being adopted in person).
And so much has changed! I have pet illustrations to offer. I can get holographic prints. I've been thinking about making faux watercolour butterfly "specimens" and putting them in pretty frames, because walls of butterflies look so sophisticated but their realness creeps me out. I want to make zines and booklets.
I hope I get the chance to make this reality!
On patreon, this month we're doing some light colour theory, which is really just an excuse to fill the sketchbook with lots and lots of colour swatching! Come fill your sketchbook with us!
"Gravity, on me, never let me down gently..."
On patreon, I've been working with a "lyrical" theme, which is giving me more opportunity to play with concepts and imagination. It's a good idea to regularly sit down and crank out whatever random image is floating around on mind, in a sketchbook, where good and bad ideas are equally welcome. Maybe it will be something I can use in the future. Maybe not... but there's only so much that life sketches can offer.
At least, I'd be having more fun with this if I wasn't working so much. I've come to realize that a lot of the reason why I'm so tired (despite my preference for being busy), is that I don't get a moment of alone time ever, which is actually pretty important for someone so introverted! Seven months without privacy, and it took this long to realize it XD
Of course, this has been the worst autumn I've had in the etsy shop in years, so 2019 will have to be yet another do-over!
I don't have a handle on just HOW MUCH art I've been producing this year... but I keep finding little pieces and being surprised by the recent date on the back. It would be fun to know, I guess. It doesn't FEEL like much, especially lately.
But I've been on an uncontrolled supply haul kick lately. For instance, I was at the shop looking for useful little items to send to my mailing tier (surprise!), when I came across these Liquitex acrylic gouache bottles. They are hefty for a gouache! Much cheaper (by volume) than holbein.
Not to mention all the quirky recycled stuff I saw last weekend: microfiche strips, pages of braille, such thin beautiful sheets of wood veneer! I want to try this new gouache. I have a sampler of Daniel Smith watercolours waiting for me. I did a video about Gansai tambi.
There is SO MUCH to play with, that I've found myself perking up quite a bit this weekend. Maybe it's because my workload at the day job has suddenly become more manageable. Maybe it's because I was able to fix my expired foodsafe certificate problem. Maybe because this year is ending.
Though I still maintain my position that the daylight bulbs in our lamps have been a REAL lifesaver in the dark months. I still greatly recommend them!
The days are getting so short that it is night both when I leave for work and when I leave for home. For the time, I at least got to catch some incredible sky colours.
My own days have grown longer, since it's such a busy month for most businesses that I've had to extend my time at the day job by an hour or more each day. It has been difficult. On the other hand, this has been the slowest autumn for my etsy shop that I've witnessed in years.
I don't think it's related to this time unbalance, though. I don't really have much time to worry about it!
On patreon, I'm taking a break from just mindlessly sketching things and putting a little more fun back into the sketchbook. We're doing a lyrical theme - finding inspiration in music! Music is the one thing I listen to that actually keeps me in my seat, focused.
Apart from having SIGNIFICANTLY less time to work at home (omg I miss retail and I can't believe I'm saying that), it is a little more challenging than the chill romp I expected this theme to be. Nevermind turning words into visuals, but I didn't consider how much Radiohead is on my tracklist and how hard it's been to branch out a little. Yeesh!
Today after I dropped off a roll of film (what's on the roll? Who knooooowwwss?), we wandered over to the hardware store for a lamp and of course I couldn't help myself and got this new bb :3
It's a chocolate soldier panda. It's technically two! I know I told myself to give up on succulents, but the zygo cactus has done fairly well under the lamp, and the two little paddle cactuses are at least still alive, I think I might have found a little cosmic plant luck.
(The paddle cactus haven't grown even a tiny bit since I got them last spring, however. Is that a bad sign?)
This week on youtube I will be diving into kuretake gansai tambi watercolours, as youtube artists are wont to do, so subscribe if you haven't already!
I wonder if in another kind of life, I would have been the workaholic type? It's kind of funny considering my spoiled aversion to traditional jobs. What I'm trying to say is, I'm the kind of person who needs to be productive and connected constantly, no matter how I'm feeling. I work, I sleep (a little), repeat forever.
I don't even know why, anymore. I guess it's just a habit? A fear of quitting?
Although I was out all day yesterday, exploring salmon-filled creekbeds and meeting up with fun people for dinner, I felt guilty/stressed about having finished nothing for the day. Weirdly, I was even more lonely/depressed at the end of the night than at the beginning.
So I decorated a sketchbook cover. How very high school! :D Ahhh the days where we'd cut out paper stuff, stick it on the covers of our binders and sketchbooks and then wrap the whole thing in packing tape! I have on book covered in sailor moon manga bits, another using tiny printouts of art that inspired me, and another with illustrated song lyrics because why not.
This time I'm decorating this fancy Stillman & Birn sketchbook using a terrible laser print of my crow painting.
I had to repaint the patterned background though, because laser printers are SO BAD at stuff. So bad. They also make it hard to paint over things with their shiny plastic toner. But I don't know, this book is pretty rad. The size and the soft cover feels so much like a printed novel. The inside has heavy weighted grey toned paper, which might be a challenge I guess. I have a good feeling about it.
I mean, I still loved my cheap dollar-store sketchbook (pictured above) that I used for patreon sketching. A lot of the pages fell loose, but I find that kind of thing charming. I already filmed and posted a flip through of this sketchbook for the Patreon feed. Hope you take a look, sometime.
Journaling, writing a blog, posting on social media, talking into a camera, recording and editing videos... all fading into the ether. I've reached this cool place where I don't have months-long bouts of "artist block", which in hindsight was just a lack of accountability and nothing more. No really! When there's a lack of urgency, it's too easy to prioritize leisure and rest. I'm still exploring different creative avenues, and trying new things. There's nothing stale about today.
I don't think it's burn out, unless it's burn out on life? I feel resigned to the fact that it's Not Gonna Happen for me, but there isn't anything else I want. There isn't anything else that I'm curious about. The writer of this book ran out of ideas and just abandoned the story. It's such a weird feeling!
I had a random day off this week, and I know it doesn't sound like it, but it put me in such a delightful mood. I went completely all out for this month's patreon study - which would have happened anyway because I wanted to incorporate different kinds of foliage. But having that day off allowed me to finish it in one day, video and all. Yes!
This week is probably going to be an art journal video, but I have a few other things going on. I have secured a small amount of ArtResin, which if you don't know, is the only resin I know of that claims to be reliably non-yellowing. This is extra important to me! It is a slow process though, so I have also spontaneously began an eco-dyeing experiment. It involves paper, boiling water, rusty metal, a bit of vinegar, and a bunch of random plant life. It's supposed to leave really interesting colour and pattern on the paper, but maybe not the lazy way I'm doing it.
I'm still quite motivated to try new things, and finding inspiration here and there, though it feels like I'm at a quiet crossroad. Whatever I'm doing feels really precarious, like I might quit at any time. Should I still be vlogging when I can no longer offer hope to other aspiring artists? Should I be posting anything since I'm not really that cute or funny? wat do
This month's theme for the sketching club is going to be trees and foliage! This is the perfect time of year to do it because autumn is very much underway at the moment. Yeah, I can get a little sick of green from time to time. It is so very GREEN here. But for a while it will be very yellow/orange/red/purple which is my favourite side of the colour wheel, and I want to soak it up before everything goes black and grey for 5 months. I'm taking too many photos, and if you'd like to use them for your own art study, join us here!
These weekends are already so rainy and punctuated with sniffling noises. I don't know what to do for fun that doesn't involve wandering around outside and hunting for bugs. What do I do with myself?? Luckily, this weekend I've been motivated to try new things, revisit old ideas.
I've been curious about paperclay, so I found a little pack of it on sale.
I've also been meaning to try resin for quite a while, but never took the leap because I hear the cost is a deterrent, but also it is rumoured to have an intense learning curve. That's a terrible combination! Anyway, I couldn't find any non-yellowing art resin in my neighbourhood so that project idea will have to wait for another time.
I also collected a few extremely used books for altering purposes... I thought about just turning them into new art journals, but the world of altered books goes way beyond just painting some pages. I have so many ideas, yet no ideas at the same time.
So here is my venus.
These are Sailor Moon dolls I got for christmas one exciting year sometime in the 90s. 1995 maybe? '96? I remember phoning up my friend right away to tell her I got 3 dolls. She got all five inner senshi. I must have gotten the rest later on. We played hard with them, which is why they are so torn up. I threw them in a closet, unwilling to toss them into the trash (they were my favourite toys after all), but unable to give them away in this condition.
What does this have to do with art? Well, I've been pushed down the rabbithole of custom doll painting videos on youtube. While I'm not actively custom painting any dolls, it gave me motivation to try fixing mine up a little.
I genuinely don't know how or when this particular doll went bald. I know that she always had matted hair, and I once trimmed it only to watch the damage travel up up up in response. How strange and annoying!
But nothing like this. Armed with new knowledge of rerooting hair, I decided to tackle it "head"-on (ho ho ho) with a broken needle and some wig hair.
This used Elsa hat with a silly long braid would do the trick! It doesn't match, but its blond enough for me, I guess. And so conveniently long!
And so now my childhood doll has some pretty, end of summer highlights. I could have done the whole head over, but I actually like the variation. With newfound confidence, I'm redoing Mars' entire head of hair (I trimmed it short as a child, with great regret), but it will take a great deal of time. It seems tedious, but less so than painting somehow... I guess because the gratification is instant with every plug. The nylon hair is so shimmery and soft. After that: shoes and accessories!
(because of course I either lost them all or tossed them out??)
In other news!
I got my watercoloursnacks box in the mail this week! Already unboxed, but I'm taking my time with doing the challenge.
What this box is, is a surprise collection of art supplies. You don't know what's inside, but you know it's got to be good since it's 100+ dollars! It can be underwhelming, visually, but it's usually good quality stuff. Keep an eye out on my youtube channel for Thursday's video, if you want to find out!
Here's a peek:
Get hyped! See you then.
It's funny how, when we get burned out on regular life, we "get away" somewhere else for a bit just to exhaust ourselves further! My brother is moving to a place like this, so I went for a visit before the seasons change dramatically. Hearing the word "family" feels so strange and kind of good.
"Getting away", even for a bit, does wonders for filling the creative well. Nature is so full of awe and mystery, that I consider it to be such a source of inspiration. I returned home with some paper ephemera, and I couldn't wait another week to journal with it.
September's patreon sketch theme is going to be Insects! I have far fewer photos of bugs than I thought. This time of year, most creepy crawlies are harder to find.
Hello! I'm Melissa, and here you'll find some behind-the-scenes footage of an artful life. Won't you join me?