I have not been painting. Or creating art of any sort of late.
Between crippling boughts of depression, and exhaustion from working full time, I haven't been able to find the time, or gather the inspiration to create.
I am dreaming of a world where art is not devalued, and artists are free to pursue their passion without their work being similarly devalued. Until then, of course, I will continue to work full time and create when I can, if I can.
An opportunity was brought to my attention by good friend and fellow creative T.V. It's called the Global Roots Project. I was told the bare minimum when T.V. approached me about it:
Simply put, a group of artists will send you the necessary items to create a small assigned-colour painting, which will in turn become a tile in a much larger mosaic. This mosaic will be created with paintings from all over Canada. This will be the Canada Connects National Mural.
You can check out more about it here.
The idea immediately caught me. The moment I heard about it, I readily agreed. And then I started having dreams - dreams of the colour blue, and dreams of the image I would paint.
Happily, T.V. acquired three colours - red, blue and green - and gave me the choice. She was also not so attached to the colour my brain had latched onto, and I was granted my request. The blue set was mine.
It arrived last week, and I immediately set to work.
The first order of business was to sketch out the very basic idea of what had been in my dreams onto the canvas. It came quickly and relatively easy, and I had my underlying sketch in a matter of moments.
Work commitments meant I had to wait for the weekend before settling in to paint. I managed to make some time on Saturday afternoon, and I sat down for a few hours to try and bring what was in my head onto the canvas.
It had been so long since I had sat down to paint that I had forgotten how meditative the process is. Time meant nothing as I put pigment onto canvas board. It was glorious. I had forgotten just how wonderful it was to file away the world and create. It's something that I can sometimes achieve with writing, though less so now that I can only write for an hour a day at lunch time.
One of my many failings in the creative process is my terrible perfectionism. It was and continues to be my biggest blockage when it comes to creation. This time, I made a decided effort to let that go.
Every time my thoughts unconsciously strayed to how terrible the painting was going, I would consciously dismiss the thought. I would continue painting. Eventually, all thought faded. There was just me, my ever-present shadow (my cat, Galahad), and the painting.
I made a glorious mess. There was paint all over my drafting table, all over my hands and arms, my apron, even my phone.
It felt so good to get back to painting. The mess was not stressful, as messes can often be, but glorious and satisfying.
Participation in this project reignited the spark that had been missing for so long. It fed me the inspiration and creative drive that had all but been drained from me by, well, life. I now have many ideas about paintings I want to do. I will see if I can be disciplined enough, and if I could make the time to actually create.
The end result of this little piece of participation was actually one of the best things I've done to date. It is one of the very few pieces of mine that looks very close to the image I had inside my head.
I can't wait to see what the final mural will look like, and I'm well pleased to know that somewhere in the final thing, my little tile will be there - a small contribution in an enormous pool of talent from across Canada.
This project was exactly what I needed. I will definitely be participating again next time.
Last year was pretty rough all 'round, and at the end of the year, there was an enormous upheaval in my life. I'm still trying to settle from it, though things are getting easier. Most importantly of all, I feel I'm able to create again.
At the end of the year, though I had failed to produce the one painting a month I had set for myself at the beginning of my furlough due to the Covid-19 pandemic (again, giant upheaval), I gave myself the challenge again. For 2021, I will try to create one painting a month.
Though I'm working full time now, with longer hours than I worked previously, I have been able to create a couple of moments here and there to work on my art. I'm really happy to be able to say that I haven't fallen off this challenge in the very first month. That's something.
This painting is small, and the ten others I have planned will be roughly the same size. I'm planning a series, for which this particular piece was an experiment, to ensure that what I envisioned might work. These next few paintings are all going to have a glow-in-the-dark element, which I think is particularly fun.
I'm working in acrylics at the moment, as it's winter, and there isn't enough ventilation in my studio to permit working with oils and the thinners required for oils.
Because this was so small, it took just two sessions, though each session was several hours at a time.
I put off finishing the painting for a couple of weeks, because I was terrified that I didn't have the skills to pull off what I wanted to do. Still, two weeks later, I bit the bullet and sat down to paint.
I don't hate the final result, though I think it could have been better. It never quite appears on the canvas the way it appears in my mind's eye. Oh well.
The glow-in-the-dark experiment worked about as well as could be expected, though apparently a little dim, so I will be incorporating it into the rest of the Luminescence series, though will be giving it a number of extra layers.
Lotus is spoken for, though if it catches your fancy, I do have it up on both Society 6 and Redbubble if you would like a print of it. They do not, unfortunately, have the glow-in-the-dark element.
I'm looking forward to February's piece. I have the completed image already in my head, and I'm hoping I have the skill to make it look even half as pretty.
This post is a long time coming. I have been struggling to find the time for my work here since starting a full-time job, and moving. The last of the moving happened at the beginning of the month, and I had hoped to be able to get two paintings done in December in order to make up for November's missed painting, but it seems the challenge has gotten the best of me. I have no paintings at all to show for this month. Perhaps I'll do better in January. We'll see.
This isn't to say that I have been idle.
I decided to make my Christmas gifts this year. As I also write and publish fiction, and I had easy access to those books for measurements and fit, and the three family members I was likely seeing this Christmas had my books, I decided to create custom covers for those books. It was a lot of work. I broke all but two of my sewing needles. I gouged a part of one of my fingers out... This project was the literal definition of blood, sweat and tears.
Still, they turned out really well, and I'm quite proud of what I managed to achieve.
Here they are:
The actual cover of Skylark was too complicated for me to be able to replicate in leather, so I opted instead to use the image that was the scene divider in the book. This image is actually a Daemon territorial sigil that I drew specifically for the purpose of being the scene divider, just to have something more interesting than *. I did want to keep the cover colours in keeping with the tones of the original cover, and tried to distress the cover so that it might look a little closer to steel. I'm happy with how that worked, but I realize now that I missed a golden opportunity to include some orange in the cover by making it seem a little rusted.
Still, the end result is pretty good, I think. I'm happy with this one.
Much like Skylark, the actual cover of Human was too difficult to replicate in leather, but a single feature was not. I took the heart on the book cover and enlarged it, approximating both the tone of the book and the colours of the book cover.
As it's a vampire story, I thought keeping the book cover antique-looking would be the best way to go. Actually, my antique stains, hand-rubbed, are my favourite for leather. I don't know why I like it more than solid colours, but I find it really interesting and aesthetically pleasing.
This cover surprised me how well it turned out, actually.
Daughters of Britain
This is my favourite of the three. Not my favourite book, mind. I can't really pick one of those, but my favourite custom cover.
Like Human, the stain on this is a hand-rubbed antique, this time in mahogany instead of black. I figured that since this story is set in Roman-occupied Western Europe, an antique look would be best. To that end, I used my antique stain and painted the title and the hare in blue, and then distressed it, so it looked like the dye had rubbed off some - like the cover itself was antique, instead of newly made. I think it worked really well.
Unlike the other two, the cover of Daughters of Britain was simple enough for me to replicate almost exactly. The hare I had drawn specifically for the cover, and it was fun to transfer to leather for tooling.
The end result for this one is by far my favourite. I'm really pleased with how it turned out.
Like all of my leather works, these custom book jackets were all done entirely by hand - the cutting of the leather, the tooling, the sewing and the staining/painting. All in all, each book cover took me roughly three and a half hours each, from the cutting, tooling, staining and sewing (actually, a lot longer, but I estimate that once I get used to the work, it'll be about three and half hours each). The sewing was particularly tricky, and did leave me both bleeding and in frustrated tears. That shouldn't be the case the more of these I do.
This means, however, that custom book jackets will be quite expensive. Factoring in the materials as well as time, my first estimate put the covers at around $700.00 each. That's... a lot. I'm thinking I can probably significantly drop the price with some creative accounting, and perhaps underpaying myself for the time required. I'm thinking that $350.00 would be a more affordable price, while still ensuring I get paid for my work - more or less.
I will have to think about it a little more before I make the decision on price and open up my store for custom leather book covers.
So, despite failing desperately at my desire to paint one piece a month, I haven't been entirely idle, and the results were not terrible at all.
This post was supposed to go up on Hallowe'en, but my life flipped-turned upside down, and I am only now getting the time to write this up.
I finished my October painting in the 'one painting a month' challenge I set for myself at the start of the pandemic. Due to the cooling that happens here above the 49th parallel, it will be my last oil painting until next spring, as I don't want to paint inside and kill the household with turpentine fumes. While my medium is odourless, that doesn't mean it doesn't still pose a very real threat. It's honestly the only downside of painting with oils I've found thus far.
As this was October's challenge, and October having my favourite day of the year - Hallowe'en - this month's painting was heavily based in the myth and folklore of the British Isles. This month, I decided to paint a Black Hound. I began with a back canvas I had prepared earlier in the previous month.
Because this was a special painting based on actual folklore, I also created a short video - a time-lapse of the painting, with a voiceover explaining what lies behind the myth of the Black Hound.
I was feeling alright about the video at the time, but right now it makes me cringe just a little. That's par for the course, with me and my endeavours, really, so I'm leaving it up any way. I'm thinking I might do something similar for all the paintings I do from now on, if my work obligations permit me the time.
In case you're curious, here is the video:
I need to get better at doing thumbnails.
I was supposed to begin the next painting (November's) this weekend, but did not find the time. I will be doing the concept sketch this week though, in anticipation of beginning the painting this coming weekend.
For now, I have to say that I'm quite pleased with this last oil painting of the year, and I'm looking forward to painting with oils again, when the weather permits.
It has been a while since I last wrote here. I apologise. I am currently setting myself up after a move to a new location. I will post updates about that once I'm properly set up. Before I moved, I had completed another leather working project, and had meant to post about it long ago. The move was sudden, however, and rushed, and I didn't get the chance to do so before now. Until today, at least.
In any case, they're available now! New in store - hand carved bookmarks!
I have just the one design currently, but will hopefully be able to create more once I'm properly settled in my new location. For now, I shall have to be content with the Twin Birds design I created all the way back in September. I have a few ideas for more Viking designs, as well as Celtic ones, and I think I'll do a few name ones as well... once I'm settled.
With the move, I will also have to buy a few things that I used previously on loan, so creation will be a bit slow to get started. With luck, it won't be too much longer.
In the meantime, if you're looking for the perfect gift for that well-read raider in your life, I have you covered!
It has been a while since I've blogged. I apologize if anyone was waiting on an update. I've been a little blindsided by a sudden and urgent need to move house, which I'm trying to get done by the beginning of October. I have not been doing much art at all. Instead I've been sorting and packing. It's slow going, mostly because I hate moving, and I'm not particularly trying very hard to pack everything away.
I did manage to get away to the lake for a few days shortly after the shock of the moving news, and it was a good thing. I did manage to work on a new oil painting there, but I'm far from finished, so I won't be posting pics just yet.
It is my fervent hope that I'll be able to finish that painting as well as my planned October piece once I'm moved and settled. That way, I'll not be any paintings behind in my twelve month challenge, even if I didn't technically complete a painting in September.
But, I've not been idle. Since I can't really do much art currently, I've decided to open another online store. Ladles and jelly spoons, I am now on Society 6.
My prints are now available on both Society 6 and Redbubble now.
I figured it couldn't help to get my work out in as many venues as possible. I rather like Society6 and Redbubble. While I earn next to nothing (and would regardless of whether I sold a lot or not - the margins are slim), I also don't have to worry about getting the pieces printed, mounted and shipped. These sites do that all for me. I appreciate that. The less time I must fuss with these things, the more time I have to work on creating. That's a win for me, even if I don't earn much at all.
Society 6 is very much like Redbubble, but I have to say, I much prefer Redbubble offering links to specific artworks, so that folks travelling to that store interested in a particular piece are not bombarded by all the pieces in the various formats. They can just click the links provided for, say, Stormbringer, and they'll get taken to the place where all of the items with that particular artwork can be found.
So far, I've not been able to replicate that for my Society 6 shop, so visitors will have to wade through all the products and artworks to find the product they want in the artwork they want. That's a little irritating.
Granted, I've not played around in Society 6 very long. It might be that they have this functionality, and I've just not found it yet.
As of the writing of this blog, I have only three four artworks up - my paintings. All that is available are art prints and some stationery items, which is perhaps the way I'll keep it. Perhaps I'll upload my Wandsworth Bird as a kind of merch in case folks would like to support me but don't fancy any of the art pieces I have. If I do that, then I'll make it everything else - all the non-artwork related items. I can't imagine they'd sell at all, but we'll see.
In the next few days, I'll be uploading my other pieces, or as many of them as I have on this computer.
So, there we have it. Life is crazy and uncertain at the moment, and I've not been able to create much. But I've been working, still. It's not much, but it's something. We do what we can with what we have.
Wishing you all well.
I am heartbroken. This week, as I had finished my painting for the month, I decided to work on a sculpture that had been floating about in my mind for a little while. Initially, it was looking good. The sculpture itself worked out almost exactly as it had in my imagination.
The only problem I had was an inability to get the thing to stand up on its own. I came up with a pretty solution - a feature of the sculpture that both fit the theme and would serve to give the sculptured dog something to lean against and remain upright.
The final sculpture, which I neglected to take a photo of before disaster struck, looked really good! I was so pleased with it.
Having created the sculpture out of Sculptey - a poly clay designed to be baked in the oven, I decided to do just that. Following the instructions, I preheated the oven, and popped the sculpture in for fifteen minutes.
Just before the fifteen minutes was over, I heard a popping noice. I went to the oven and peeked in and... disaster. The sculpture had cracked in several places, falling apart like a sand castle hit by a wave.
I was - I am - devastated.
Here is what the sculpture looked like before I figured out how to get it to stand. I was so pleased with it.
Poor dead pupper. Not pictured here, me picking up the sculpture by the head only to have it snap off as well.
This was the first time working with a poly clay. I have to say, working with it was fun, and I enjoyed the process. It was smooth and easy to manipulate with some kneeding, and ended up not being all that different from actual clay. The end result was also decent, and I thought things were going really well. Prior to baking, it looked pretty good.
Then the oven happened.
After the baking, the clay became crumbly and brittle, and everything fell apart. Thinking I had done something terribly wrong, I took to the internet to research what I could do better. In one forum, I discovered that the medium itself might have been the problem. Someone suggested that Sculptey was terrible, and sculptors ought to go with Magi-Sculpt instead. I think the next time I have some spare change, I will buy some of this Magi-Sculpt and try that.
Right now, though, I'm really upset, and pondering how I might try the same sculpture again, but out of a different medium. I might try Monster clay, and make casts to sell, as Monster clay cannot be baked and it very sensitive to heat. I might end up buying a bunch of chisels and sandpaper and attempt the sculpture again in wood.
Actually, I quite like the idea of carving wood. I'll mull that option over more. And, you know, save up for chisels and other whittling tools.
As of now, I'm sulking, and will probably continue to sulk for a number of days. I had so hoped to have a cool new sculpture to show off this week.
It was not to be.
Last week, I stared at my pile of leather scraps, unsure of what I ought to do with them. Throwing them out was not an option. Such waste would make me incredibly sad. So, I devised a plan to sew them together and see if I couldn't make something useful out of them. A dice bag, in fact.
The design itself is quite simple. It was sewing all the scraps together that took the most time and proved the trickiest. I must say, however that I absolutely love sewing by hand. It's oddly meditative.
It took an entire day of continuously stamping holes, cutting back extra leather, and stitching to create the dice bag. It was entirely enjoyable work, however. If I had the means to make this my profession, I would have a workshop and happily spend all day in there.
The end result was quite satisfactory.
It appeared to strike a chord with a friend of mine, who saw the photos on Twitter and decided to buy it. This is my first ever handcrafted leather item sale, and it made me obscenely happy. I sent it off today, and he should be getting it in the next couple of days.
I spoke with another friend of mine, who is a seamstress, and learnt how she charges for her handmade items. I decided not to include the cost of materials for this one, and just charge for the labour. This is because for this piece and all the pieces I make in this style in the future, I used the scraps that wouldn't have been used otherwise. Even still, with just the labour, these dice bags are not inexpensive.
Given how this bag was a prototype test, and is honestly still quite rough and could have been done better, I sold it for less than half the price it will go for when I settle for a style that I like. The pattern will not change, but the manner in which it is stitched will be toyed with the next time I have enough scraps to create a second prototype.
This project was a lot of fun for me. So much so that I have another two dice bag creations in the pipeline. The basic pattern will remain the same, but the leathers, linings and possible accoutrements will be different. I'm thinking one of the dice bags will have a chainmaille exterior. I'm forming plans, my friends, and looking forward to it.
I'm genuinely surprised I got something so close to correct on the first try, and I'm really looking forward to working on my next one, which will be soon, I hope.
What an enjoyable project this was.
Thanks, perhaps, to the smaller size of the piece, I finished the third painting in my twelve painting challenge late last week; a good deal earlier than my self-imposed deadline of August thirty-first. I'm not entirely upset with the result.
When I first started the painting, I was less than thrilled with it, but as the painting progressed, I found I liked it more and more. It isn't especially close in proportion to the drawing I did, but it has almost all of the elements, and I even threw in a thing or two that the drawing does not possess.
The end result:
It honestly doesn't look like how I imagined it in my head, but it does look and feel very much like me, if that makes any sense. I'm struggling to try and describe it. It certainly isn't perfect, but I'm not disappointed in it, either.
This time painting was very different from the other oil painting I finished. Perhaps because I used less thinner (though I cannot be sure that I did, in fact, use less thinner), but this painting has taken a great deal more time to dry than African Violet did. I completed it three full days ago, as of the writing of this blog post, and it's still not even close to dry. I have forgotten this fact while handling it. Thankfully, it's suffered no real damage. If anyone decides to buy the original, it's going to be very tricky to ship.
I'm finding that I enjoy painting with oils more and more. I'm particularly enjoying being able to blend on the canvas itself, which was difficult in acrylic as it tended to dry far too quickly. This was particularly useful for lightening the leaves around the flowers, making it seem like the flowers are glowing a bit. I'm not sure that I got the glowing effect right, but I'm not despondent about the result, either.
Having read a little bit about glazing, I used a blue glaze to desaturate some of the leaves, and to cast better shadows on my nectar drake. For this, I made damned sure the paint was dry enough, as there is a real danger of the glaze mixing instead of coating (glaze, I've learnt, is a paint mixed with a lot of thinner used to highlight or desaturate certain parts of a painting).
The part of the painting that gave me the most trouble, oddly, was the moon. I tried on four separate occasions to get the moon to look a little more like an actual moon instead of a simple bright circle. As with the glowing effect, I bounce between feeling I came close to totally denouncing the effort. It was my impatience that did me in, I think. every attempt save the last did nothing but to muddle the paints together, and I had to wait for the painting to be a little dryer before my final attempt. That helped a lot.
Patience, it seems, was the theme of this painting, and a skill I am yet to properly learn. Still, I'm quite pleased by the final result. It's not exactly how I imagined it. It's not by any means perfect, but it is very, well, me.
Since completing the painting, I have spent far too much money on more canvases and brushes in preparation of my next painting. I have six planned oils, and two planned acrylics. The acrylics are, of course, for when the weather gets too cold for me to paint with oils. My mother also suggested I try watercolour painting for those cold months. I'm considering it.
Perhaps I shall.
I have yet to buy my long canvases, and so was at a loss as to what to do next. My flatmate very kindly offered a canvas she had for a long time and never used to me. I feel little guilty, but decided to take her up on the offer.
As of the writing of this, I'm roughly a third of the way through a new painting, which I'm basing on a sketch that I competed after I started the painting.
To be fair, I had the rough sketch done before I started the painting.
I turned the sketch into a proper drawing, which I'm now offering both as a print via my Redbubble shop and also as an original. If anyone reckons they might want it for their wall.
As I said I am only a third of the way through the painting. I have the tower and the moon. I'm currently sketching the foliage in, and will hopefully have that all done soon. In the coming week, I plan to have the painting mostly done. the problem of course is the detail. It took hours in the drawing, and I imagine it will take longer trying to pain it.
I'm hoping I'm equal to the task, but I do feel that I've maybe bitten off more than I can chew. Hopefully, though, it'll all work out.
I always feel that my work is childish at best, absolute rubbish at worst. I suppose many artists feel the same.
I will post again when the painting is complete. If I'm not terribly ashamed of it.