Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Diamonds" for the Calendar Project with the FTA

It's been a crazy busy November so far.  I will not be participating in Enchanted Visions Project as we resume activity after our summer hiatus that ran a little longer than originally planned (no complaints here from me lol).  Commissions are piling up again and inquiries keep coming.  Signed with a few new companies for licensing agreement, so things are staying busy as ever.

I am usually a person who feels strictly about deadlines and hardly ever late (except for EV themes in the past).  I was late for the submission deadline for the Femme Thou Art's calendar project.  This was thought up by someone fairly late in the year, and hastily put together as a project plan and a monthly auction theme.  I guess I wasn't really feeling 'it'. ^^;

I picked April, and thus diamonds, for the birth stone to be interpreted and illustrated.  White and anything colorless are actually harder to convey than things with color, so I kind of kicked myself in the head for picking my birth month of April after the fact.

The line art was completed a few days before the deadline, and edited and posted as a digital stamp at the Etsy shop.  The digi is available here.

The Sketch Fest has been very productive of late, both in terms of artistic creativity and sales.  So I made a point of participating as much as I could this past weekend while I had many other errands that kept me away from my art area.   That definitely cut into the time I had left for this project. XD

Here's a close-up/cropped view of the colored illustration.  Since diamonds have been associated with purity, I added the lilies and roses to also emphasize that quality.  Sweet pea was also added since it is the birth flower of April.  I wish I had a little more time to work on this.  Things generally feel rushed these days.  ^^;

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sketch Fest # 44 Nov. 15 ~ 17, 2013

Another Sketch Fest weekend! :D  The weekend of 15, 16, 17 was a busy one with extra events happening.  My daughter was performing as the first chair cellist in the School District High School Honor Orchestra.  They had extra rehearsals with the guest conductor on Friday and Saturday before the concert, so I was away from my work area a lot during these 3 days.

When the Sketch Fest first begin Friday afternoon, prompts are slow to come as many participants (artists and buyers alike) are still finishing up the work week and not home and free yet. ^_^  I was being a chauffer to my daughter until well after 5 PM, so nothing much got done on Friday afternoon.

First one "Sleepy Bunny Elf" (*sold*) to a prompt "Bunny Elf".  I'm sorry, but I'm just not into scantily clad pinup-y females.   That's just not what I get into. ^^:  So I'm going for the cute, whimsical, and adorable, instead.  A baby elf in bunny pajamas and slippers.  So cuddley!

Somebody put in the prompt "Totoro!". :D  So here it is.  Fan art stuff is fun to do.  "Totoro Tower".  Since I feel "illegal" about sales of fanart, I decided to just give this one away to the first person who asked for it, who was willing to pay for the shipping. ^_^  (*claimed*)

"The Little Penguin" (*sold*) done to a promopt "The little penguin".  The emperor penguin babies are just so adorable with their black and white head with grey body.  I love them.  They're huge babies though, actually. lol  I decided to do something whimsical and cute for the holidays.  I tend to always be behind on holiday themed art.  My shop is very low on holiday-themed digi's.  So, it's two birds with one stone time!  Make an ACEO that can be turned into a digi.  This way, Sketch Fest is a very productive venture for me.  Sell the originals and sell the digi's made from them. :D

"Meditating Mushroom" (*sold*) for the prompt of the same.  This prompt almost had my name written on it! Haha.  Mushrooms do look like little sprites meditating, so this came to me very quickly. :D

"Christmas Kitten" (*sold*) to a prompt "Christmas Kitty".  It was interesting to see all other artists who tackled this prompt made a furry... or a pinup-y girl with cat ears.  I'm a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady, so naturally, I produce a cute kitten illustration.  Seasonal.  For a reason. XD

"Poinsettia Sprite" to a prompt "Poinsettia Fairy".  I've been meaning to do a poinsettia sprite to add to my sprite series.  So this was a perfect opportunity.  I love all the novelty varieties of poinsettias the nurseries come up with every season, but I'm still most drawn to the classic red variety.  These plants speak "Christmas!" to me.  I love the large red and green leaves in a pot every holiday season.

*** Random Tip of the Day ***
When purchasing a pot of poinsettia, choose a relatively warm day above 40 degrees (for the trip from the store to your car -- this is crucial).  Ask the store clerk/cashier to put the pot in a paper bag then ask for another paper bag and use it to cover the top by inverting this second bag over the first bag to encase the poinsettia plant completely.  The leaves of the plant hate cold air touching them.  If you ever had bought one of these plants only to see them drop most of the leaves within days, the reason is cold air exposure. ^_^

"Purple Rose"(*sold*) to the prompt of the same.  In the last Sketch Fest, I did a Rose Fairy who looked like a younger version of this with red petals.  Same approach here.  Lose and quick. ^_^

"Frozen Heart" to the prompt "Ice Tiara".  I imagined an elven queen whose heart was broken, who then felt her heart frozen to all emotions and became numb.  Somone said this reminded her of the White Witch from Narnia.  I LOVE Tilda Swinton in that role.  To me, she is the perfect enbodiment of the Ice Queen. 

"Pumpkin Pie Kitten" to a prompt "Pumpkin Pie Kitty".  Well, I think a lot of cat owners had experience very similar to this.  Baked a beautiful pie or cake, leave it up on a kitchen counter, and the little mischief maker helps herself to it.  But you know, you just can't stay mad at that face! XD  Amy Brown, on Facebook, said that she had this happen to her pies.  Her cat was eating from one while sitting in the other. lol  Ruin two pies with one kitty!

Well, that's all for Sketch Fest 44.  I'll be making digi's of these in the next few days -- just in time for the holidays. :D

Friday, November 8, 2013

Going Nuts - Second Piece for the Auction

Some days, a whimsy strikes when you're just waking up and enjoying the first cup of a coffee.  This is interesting, considering that I usually wake up thinking about the same thing I go to bed thinking about.  I was mulling over the details of the "Diamond" piece that I will be doing for one of the collectives.  I definitely want to get this out of the way before the next Sketch Fest on the 15th, 16th, and 17th.  I have a general idea, so it's working out the smaller details.  I've found over the years that if I go to sleep thinking about an image, I often wake up the next morning knowing exactly what I'd like to do.  And the best part of it is that I'd wake up motivated and inspired.  (And that's a great thing in any line of business if/when you can wake up in the morning, feeling ready to jump out because you're so excited about the next project.  I consider myself very lucky in this regard.)

That said, I tend to overthink pieces for some projects more than the others.  And you know that creative flow often gets blocked from overthinking.  Certain degree of self-criticism is an absolute necessity for any work, but that still needs to be kept in check or otherwise the whole thing comes to a screeching halt.  Often, things that I don't take nearly as seriously would produce a result that is free in spirit, easy in execution and style, and overall more pleasant.  It's like finding a way to go back to the pure state of creativity any child has.  The glee, the joy, the delight, the freedom, the utter lack of the concept of "what other people might think"!

The fluffy work I do -- by that I mean the cutesy, smaller pieces of pure whimsy -- is easier for me to approach and I feel less pretensious when I am making these.  I'm more playful when I approach the fluffy work.  Because of that, things go more quickly, and are more often than not, appealing to the heart with the kind of energy that is warm and fuzzy.  (I do feel that some of my darker stuff eminates a warped energy, which is interesting in its own right, but not exactly something I'd like to have around me.  Not that I put my own art up on my walls.)

I'd like to think that all this is because my 'default' emotional state is a 'happy, content, cheerful, optimistic' one.  It's closer to my nature than the other extreme in my art.  In any case, here's this morning's sketch of my Acorn Sprite riding a squirrel for the great nut hunt. ^_^  I love drawing sprites.  I love drawing fuzzy animals.  Combining the two makes perfect sense.   This will be my second piece for the "Going Nuts" auction starting this Monday, the 11th.

This image is now available as a digital stamp at my Etsy shop.
I had to go over the scan of the inked lines in my Corel Painter.  Sometimes when I use the sepia ink for the line art, the details cannot be cleanly scanned or adjusted.  It's an extra step, but I've gotten so quick at it these days, it's hardly a hassle.  Besides, when you work digitally, there's always the 'undo', which is my magic wand (although they have a tool by that name... for a different purpose), that removes stress and anxiety of inking completely. :D  I'm constantly praying to the spirit of Bob Ross to help me when I am inking a work traditionally where mistakes cannot be made.  My mantra is Bob's famous, "There are no mistakes, just happy accidents".

EDIT: 3:37 pm, Nov. 9, 2013  A WIP shot of the piece.

EDIT 2: 7:10 pm.  Finished piece.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


You know you've done more than a few of these when the excitement of designing a calendar at a reasonable cost, thanks to POD businesses, is no longer there. ^^;  I've been making calendars for years (from my previous business), and as much fun as they are for myself and those who get to put their hands on them, they are one of the most time consuming and tedious of all product listing endeavors, no matter how streamlined a POD company's interface may be.  There's a lot of image editing to make things work.  One of the major obstacles is that a lot of artists, myself included, tend to like working in portrait orientation rather than landscape orientation for our pieces.  Contrary to this fact, majority of calendar templates come with landscape orientation for the images.  :(

I remember my early years, making ballet calendars, I would just resize the original to fit vertically and just leave boring whtie borders on both sides of the image. ^^;  Over the years, I got fancy and experiment with different things like colors and textures and tubes.

Then the reality hits.  It takes a quite a few hours to edit and prepare 13 (if you design a special back cover, it will be 14) print-ready images.  And the cold hard reality of the POD marketplace being inundated with millions of other artists, organizations, and individuals producing their own calendars.  Although a single copy of a calendar is 'reasonable' at POD companies, these prices are not at all competitive to those calendars sold at the local bookstores or retail outlets.  Sure, many people do look for something they can't find at the bookstores and bigger retailers.  But the economy in slow recovery, it's a tough world out there.

In the past few years, I've come to terms with the reality of the calendars and don't expect a huge return on investiment.  Some revenue will be generated from the sales of calendars, but it will not be anywhere near number the biggest sellers will bring. ^_^

I was almost deciding to not make one this year (for 2014) when I got an inquiry when it will be available. XD  Universe has an interesting way of pointing the way, doesn't it?  So, I did design one for the year 2014, with a collection of images that represents the many aspects of me -- some traditional/digital mixed media and some that are traditional, in styles from tightly rendered to loosely evocative.  I think it's a pretty cool collection.  It's culturally diverse, too, with Indian moth fairy, a Chinese snake spirit, Japanese noh masks, and the "Day of the Dead" of Mexico inspired art among the selections.

Zazzle listing is already live.

I will have a small number printed at another printer to be listed at my Etsy shop later in the month or in December. ^_^

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Going Nuts -- Themed Auction Piece

Sick again with flu-like symptoms. T_T  This is never fun for anyone.  My neck is stiffening up and I've been feeling weak.  I needed to get this piece out of the way, so I finished it this afternoon.  I will most likely go to bed early tonight. ^^;

"Going Nuts for the Nutcracker" 5" x 7" in ink & watercolor on bristol vellum (140 lb.) for the upcoming themed auction at the Bubble Gum Dreams - Artist Collective.  I only participate when I feel like it (when the time allows and a theme sounds interesting), which is exactly the kind of group for me.  I'm also a part of another collective, but not enjoying it nearly as much. ^^;

Anyhow, the theme was "Going Nuts".  I thought about a girl chipmunk falling madly in love with the Nutcracker Prince for his special skill.  :D  It's a whimsical, lighthearted piece.  I like going back and forth between dark and serious and light and whimsical in my art.  I had to choose between a chipmunk and a squirrel.  I like the stripes on the chipmunk, but I also like the bushy tail of the squirrel.  But in the end, chipmunk won.  I know, I'm oddly grounded in reality in my fantasy work by insisting chipmunks to not have bushy tails. LOL  That's just how I am.  Another odd thing is obviously the chipmunk's ballet technique -- she's properly turned out and her arabesque foot is properly beveled.  Yes, I guess years of study  (and teaching) show up in my artwork when I least expect it. XD

This seasonal illustration's line art is already listed at my Etsy shop as a digital stamp.  See link below the line art.

I think this digi would make adorable season's greetings as well as special occasion cards for little girls in the Nutcracker ballet performances.  (Ahhh, the memories... ^_^ )