Sunday, December 28, 2014

Leanne's Angel Finished

It always feels good to finish a project.  I used to be almost obsessed about finishing what I start - always.  This tendency often manifests as a strong focus and concentration from beginning of a project all the way to finish in one sitting.  Well, a lot of my larger pieces cannot be completed in one day, let alone one sitting, and when my digital stamps business picked up during 2014, I ended up going from one quick sketch to another on quite a few occasions.  It wasn't pleasant to look at my folio and see all these pencil scribbles of good ideas just sitting...

Just like last time I finished something, I'm very happy that I was able to finally finish this angel piece with traditional media, "Leanne's Angel". :D  The line art was released as a digi back in April, I believe, then after partially coloring her, I got sidetracked and was unable to finish her until a few days after Christmas. :D


Leanne's Angel
ink, watercolor, & acrylic on bristol vellum
©Mitzi Sato-Wiuff 2014
She's cropped here, but the original is actually A4 (8.3 x 11.7 inches), which is not one of my usual sizes.  I work most often in US letter size (8.5 x 11 inches), 5 x 7 inches, and ACEO size (2.5 x 3.5 inches).  From the start, this was painted with the ultimate goal of gifting in mind.  The A4 size was chosen because the recipient lives in the UK, and I figured that it's probably easier to buy frames in commonly used paper/photo sizes than some US sizes. (I may be wrong...).

I wanted to give her golden wings, and there's touches of iridescent gold acrylic paint on her wings and hair, but that's something that can only be enjoyed in person by looking at this piece at an angle.  You're looking at a scan, so the light was blasted squarely, eliminating all possibility of seeing the subtle touches of gold but some strokes of brown. ^^;  Wanted to keep her dream-like and flowy, so I kept it to a limited palette and didn't work too tightly with all the details.  I'm pretty happy with the way she turned out.  I generally like working in warm brown hues with touches of colors.  I'm going to promise to myself that I'll make more like this in the year 2015!

I'm also making a promise to myself to get back to participating in the Enchanted Visions Project.  It's not that I ever left that project.  But after I stepped down from serving as a co-admin after two years, I was burned out, and the themes didn't inspire me.  Plus, the aforementioned digital stamp business kept me so busy that I couldn't squeeze EV themes into my schedule.  Last week though, I took a peek at the themes for the next few years posted at the fb group and I was happy to see so many that interested me right away.  I think I'm going to start on Carnevale (theme for Feb. 2015) soon, and be back.  This should be a great news for any crafter that loves my more detailed images.  I always go full out for EV, with plenty of research, brainstorming and planning/mapping out elements for a detailed piece for the monthly theme.  Even if I don't participate every month, I'm going to give myself the time to do more meaningful work for me in 2015.  It's the year of wood sheep/goat in Chinese zodiac.  I'm a sheep, so it's going to be my kind of year, and I'm going to expand upward and outward in terms of my art and other creative ventures.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Time Is Here, Confusion Everywhere

I'm talking about the EU's new digital VAT regulation when I say "confusion everywhere".  What a party-pooper this has been for the holidays!  Really, so many little people like me, the micro-businesses, are freaking out for no good reason because of this new regulation set to go into effect January 1, 2015.  They want the VAT (value added tax) on digital goods, collected and paid on all sales made to residents of EU member nations.  There is no minimum/threshold amount, so it applies to every sale.  Each member nation sets different VAT rate, so if we were to comply, we are expected to collect different rate for some 28 nations and file quarterly report and make payments to all 28 countries.  Seriously...  This, if the sellers and businesses were to fully comply, is an accounting nightmare.  And by putting the burden of collection on the sellers, this regulation has created some nebulous mess of speculations and interpretations.

As I am in the US, I'm just like a whole bunch of people scratching our heads, going, "And how is this going to affect me, IF I'm supposed to be affected by this?"  Although the regulation maintains that if you sell to any residents of an EU member nation, you are required to collect, report and eventually pay to respective authority, the big question for a lot of us who sell on Etsy, or similar 'platforms' (the Internet services that charges a fee for us to use in order to sell our goods) comes down to "WHO handles this tedious collecting, reporting and paying of the VAT to 28 EU nations?"

Just look at the forum discussions on Etsy and see how confused everyone is.  It's a definite nightmare for sellers actually residing in EU-member nations, because they know they're bound by this regulation for sure, unlike the sellers in parts of the world that don't belong in the EU.  Some are asking for technical feature updates so Etsy can properly address this issue for them.  Others are asking the flexibility to block sales to EU nations to avoid this VAT mess altogether by choosing not to sell.  (As much as this sounds like a discrimination to EU member nation residents, as such discrimination within the EU is against the law, to the rest of the world, as far as I know, are not required to abide by EU's anti-discrimination law and should be and will do so as soon as a tool is available -  after all, we can refuse service for 'no shoes, no shirt' here in the US. lol)  Yet some others are taking the extreme measure of closing their shops.  Now, I've seen some fellow digital stamp shops choosing this route, and it made me wonder if they're jumping to the gun.  And also maybe this is yet another sneaky sales pitch...?  Create a sense of urgency (It's a "Going Out of Business" Sale!) to cause a spike in sales before the end of the year.  I mean, if things are business as usual, come January 1st, 2015, they can 'reopen' and say, "Oh, aren't you glad you can still buy our digis?!"

Meanwhile, here's the official stance issued by Etsy as of Dec. 22, 2014.  The angry mob is responding with "pitchfork and torches" equivalent in words. *amused* While yet others are sticking two very enthusiastic middle fingers up at EU bonehead politicians who thought they've figured out a way to collect money on all these digital goods transactions, by pointing out the reality of enforcing such a law, as many critics have also wondered about.  I'm kind of sitting in between the extremes and waiting for the dust to settle, hoping for some clarity.

Hours of research into this matter on how I, the independent tiny business in the non-EU member nation, is actually affected, proved mostly a waste of precious time during this hectic holiday season.  Really, we should be enjoying the company of friends and family and appreciating what we have and celebrating the birth of Jesus and all good things in life, rather than pulling our hairs out, trying to figure out this ill-conceived law.

The UK authority on this issue, HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs), has come out and said, according to many sources I've spotted across the web, that Etsy is indeed responsible for collecting, reporting, and paying of VAT, not the individual service-users (shop owners, the little people).  They have also said that if a seller of digital goods actually e-mails the goods, accompanied by non-form letter, to each individual customers, rather than using 'automated instant download', then it does not come under the new digital VAT law.  But all this is the official UK words.  Doesn't mean this will be the case with the rest of the EU-member nations tax authority's take on the law.  And THIS is precisely where things get murky.

From the few updates I've read from the admin on Etsy, they seem to be working to possibly use this HMRC's definition (Seriously, I've looked all over the Internet and found very little else from any other countries - but then again, it could just be because my searches are performed in English and results are only pulling up in English.) and try to get away from having to implement the full-compliance features, but rather 1.) disable instant download feature for digital goods and/or 2.) introduce a new feature that allows us sellers to choose whom we sell to (That's just a more polite way of saying 'who we can refuse to sell' or 'block', obviously.).  Either way, they seem 'reluctant' to make things easier for the individual sellers.

The Aurora Wings shop at my own web site is run by DGS (www.digitalgoodstore.com).  Now, they have taken a completely different stance from Etsy on this issue.  The higher-ups at DGS received an inquiry from one of us, little people, back in October, asking what they were doing about this EU digital VAT law.  They scrambled to implement a new business model to address it rather than wait till the last week of December like Etsy did.

I am hoping that when January 1st is here, I will still be able to sell to the EU-member nation customers, at least through the Aurora Wings shop at my web site without the hassle.  With VAT rate being as high as something like 28% in some EU-member countries, the prices will go up for some.  In the end, this seems to hurt both businesses and consumers (maybe a gain for those people who are dependant on the social services the VAT is supposed to help provide for) on a large scale.

From my own limited perspective (based on the data collected on my Etsy shop's stats) though, my customer base looks roughly as follows.

United States -- 45%
United Kingdom (EU member nation) -- 29%
Australia -- 9.9%
Canada -- 6.9%
Rest of EU - 8.1%
Remaining - 1.1%

As you can see, I do have a lot of customers in EU nations.  But since 2/3 of my business comes from non-EU countries, closing the shop is out of the question.  Also, with sales to EU nation customers being the other 1/3, blocking sales (worst case scenario) would mean significant decrease in income, which subsequently hurt my family along with my digi fans in these 28 countries.

As some commenters on Etsy forum have pointed out, similar regulations on physical goods are expected to go into effect in 2016 in EU.  Small business owners who utilize third-party e-commerce platforms such as Etsy (That's what they are, no matter how they try to distance themselves in legal terms.) will no doubt be closely watching how these services act in coming months.

*** FOR THE ACTIVISTS IN YOU ***
There are currently two petitions at change.org regarding the EU digital VAT regulation.  One calls for exemption for micro-businesses and sole propriotorships (signed so far by some 14,000 petitioners, addressed to UK authorities on the matter) the other one calls for unilateral suspension of this regulation (signed so far by a little short of 9000 petitioners).

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Candy Cane Fairy

This sketch had been sitting on my shelf since mid-November, but I finally got around to ink and color it all yesterday.  I usually like to break things down into separate phases, but I had very little distraction all day and no errands (quite unusual), so it was very productive.  ^_^


As Jr. pointed out repeatedly, this Candy Cane Fairy is very "anime". LOL  Cute and festive, sparkly and cheerful.  I'm pretty happy with the way she turned out.  Wouldn't it be fun to have fairy costume like this for  the Christmas parade? (Well, it needs to be in a warmer climate for sure... hehe.)

The digi of this fairy is at my Etsy shop here.  PNG version of the digi is also available here. It's 300 dpi 5" x 7"/12.7 x 17.8 cm (1500 x 2100 pixels).  I think she'd be cute in green and white as well as blue and white. :D




Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sketch Fest #58 November 28 - 30

Finally got around to participating in a Sketch Fest event after missing so many months - my last one was February 2014.  I couldn't dedicate full 48 hours just to Sketch Fest, although I promised to give myself a time-off for Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  Well, y'know, when you make a living drawing and painting, an event where you draw and paint on prompts - even when it's for personal stuff and for fun - it still kind of feels like working.  LOL  As I've said before, the way my work space is set up right in the corner of our living room, it's hard for me to completely remove myself from work.  It's just too easy to walk on over and check on stuff online every so often. ^^;  I'm hoping to get my studio space back... some day. *fingers crossed*

Anyhow, I didn't see a lot of prompts that interested me, and frankly, the participation was relatively low, due to the fact that this is the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  It's people's vacation time and family time.  It does feel a bit anti-social to be doing art stuff... alone. LOL  Still not particularly motivated to do pin-up-y stuff (When am I ever?) or drawing glamorous women/fairies/mermaids, so I went to the whimsical, light stuff.  (After cooking and eating all that turkey, brainstorming on a prompt was not something I was inclined to do. Haha.)  Whimsical, light, seasonal stuff.  I can come up with something right away with these types of prompts.  ^_^


Here's my "Christmas Puppy", an ACEO in ink & watercolor for a prompt of "Christmas Puppy".  I think pretty much every child dreams of getting a puppy in a box on a Christmas morning.  I certainly entertained the idea, though it never happened. That's OK since I turned out to be a Crazy Cat Lady anyway. ^_^  Still, when I saw this prompt, I just had to take it.  ^_^


Next up is "Little Christmas Tree", also an ACEO in ink & watercolor.  This is for a prompt "The Cutest Christmas Tree".  I thought I'd draw a little toddler elf sitting down for a break with a cup of hot chocolate.  After all, it's not easy looking so cute in a Christmas Tree suit. Hehe.


And of course, if I paint a "Christmas Puppy", I'd have to make a "Christmas Kitty", too, right?  Here's "Christmas Light Kitten", to a prompt "Wrapped Up in Lights".  There was "Christmas Kitty" among the prompts, also, so it's kind of a combo - "two birds with one stone" kind of a deal here. :D  Once again, an ACEO in ink & watercolor.  This kitty is inspired by my cats whose antics are an endless source of ideas. ^_^

Time for me to get busy turning them into digis!! :D

Friday, November 28, 2014

Christmas Tree Sprite Colored

I'm so backed up with so many projects the past few months it's hard to keep track of what's what (and I don't like it!).  I used to be a finisher, who was unable to start a new project until the one in progress was completed.  Not any more.  I draw, ink, and leave.  Or I sketch and leave.  *shakes head*  So I'm happy to say I got around to coloring and finishing this one! :D

Christmas Tree Sprite ©Mitzi Sato-Wiuf 2014
Digital free-hand with some post processing in Corel Painter on Wacom Intuos 3.

Probably not the color scheme you'd think of when you first hear "Christmas Tree", but I thought about coloring him in blue or white when I first made the digi earlier this month.  I could totally see him in traditional green with red, green, and gold ornament, but I could totally picture him in a non-traditional approach as well.  In the end, this one won out - mostly because everyone else was coloring him in natural greens.  I wanted to do something different (The nonconformist tendency strikes again!). :D  Besides, I've always liked the look of white Christmas Tree (the artificial kind).  Every year, the stores seem to carry just one type of all-white Christmas Tree among so many others that are evergreen.  I've tried talking my family into having a white tree over the years, but they look at me like, "Uhhh, no.  You've got to be kidding." or "Why!?!?", as if I'm suggesting the tackiest thing ever. lol

Needless to say, this was fun to color.  Started coloring between cooking and tidying up to get ready for the Thanksgiving feast yesterday and finished up around noon today.  Shiny and sparkly things are fun to paint - especially for me, who loves to put random sparkly dots everywhere in my illustrations of fairies.  Highlights make things look so pretty and magical. :D   Anyhow, I love the way this one turned out.  ^_^

The JPG digi of this guy is at my Etsy shop and web shop.  PNG version is at Etsy (follow the link found in the item description of the JPG digi listing at Etsy).  300 dpi 5" x 6.5".


I just stopped by over at Sketch Fest to check the prompts and found a few that interested me.  ^_^  This will be my first SF since February of 2014.  Long time no see.  Hehe.  I almost gave up at 3:30, not because I was unmotivated, but I just didn't see any prompt that interested me.  Good thing I went back to check again later as more people had posted prompts.  ^_^  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gardens & Goddesses Volume 2

The follow-up coloring book to my popular "Gardens & Goddesses" is now listed at my Etsy shop. *woohoo*  Now I'm getting very low on packing supply - the rigid cardboard document mailer in particular, in the coloring book size.  Placed an order earlier this week, expecting the box of mailers to be here by now, but then, the massive lake effect snowfall back East has delayed shipment via UPS.  T_T  Well, people were dying, so I shouldn't be complaining about a delay in shipment.  But this is a little early for holiday season mail mishap, I feel.  ^^;


This is a scan of the cover.  The delicate pink shades were hard for the scanner to capture correctly without going a little crazy in overall hue.  Had to do a bit of editing to tweak and adjust for more accurate depiction of color.  The cover of volume 2 was a 'traditional' ink and watercolor on paper illustration, so it looks a little different from my other two covers (which were digital illustration for coloring over scanned line art in ink on paper).  I like both approaches equally.  Just tend to pick whichever, depending on the mood.  There's no doubt though, that scanning or photographing the original on paper or canvas to try to get an accurate record is ALWAYS frustrating and time consuming.  (Not to mention the lack of 'undo' option... lol.)


Back to the coloring book.  I'm just thrilled to death about having 3 books published. ^_^  The first one was extremely exciting when it became a reality, but these two volumes that came out this fall are just as thrilling for me to behold.  The cover stock seems to be upgraded from the previous printing run to have a nice satin-like glossy look and feel.  The paper seems a little thicker.  Some editing from Ellen Million Graphics in terms of their logo and placement all contributes to an improved batch. :D  Just awesome.

As soon as I get those mailers (so I can process orders in a timely manner), I'll put these coloring book listings to the front of my shop, but for the time being, they're kind of stashed in the back (hidden deeper after several pages of listings). ^^;  Please hurry, UPS man!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Midnight Gardens Coloring Book


The much-anticipated dark fantasy coloring book has arrived~!!!  A huge box came to my front door the other day, and I've finally got around to making a listing at the AW shop on Etsy. :D Along with this listing, I also had to do some updating on the main web site at www.AuroraWings.com because Etsy won't let me list a slide show of all the images that are included in the book.  And although a handful of sample pages is always nice to go along with any book listings, I prefer to offer a thorough look-through for my customers and fans.  So they can clearly see for themselves what's included in the book and cross-reference their list of digis already on their computer, even.  Check out the slide show of the inside pages here.

This latest batch of coloring books has a nice glossy cover stock.  The print job is wonderful.  The cover has a satiny feel, rich, saturated colors, and this book, with the Las Calaveras as the cover, just has a powerful presence about it. :D

This book also has an interesting collection of images ranging from Catrinas (I do have a love of the skull painted beauties of the Day of the Dead celebration.), Japanese noh plays and folklore demons, an Asian tattoo art fantasy, a piece inspired by one of the many grimmer tales by the Brothers Grimm, some pieces inspired by Buddhist art, a piece inspired by Greek mythology, skull collecting mermaids, and some steampunk that leans slightly to the dark side.  Lots of different genres and quite a range of world traditions.


Many of the pieces you see in this book were done for the Enchanted Visions Project when I was an active contributing member.  I haven't felt particularly inspired by some of the more recent monthly themes and I haven't had  (or probably more accurately ... haven't made) time to participate in the activities of that collective.  At the beginning of my fantasy art career though, it forced me to create something on a regular basis and helped me expand my portfolio, which was great.  And I was able to take full advantage of the challenge of the themes, always trying my best to one up the previous effort.  Good times. ^_^

This year saw a massive and fast growth in my digi sales on Etsy, which ended up claiming much of my available time.  I would like to have more time to do larger scale artwork which also require more research into the themes.  Part of the fun I have when I make a larger, more committed fantasy pieces, is the research and brainstorming that go into each.  Sometimes I spend days scouring the Internet in multiple languages.  ^_^

I am not sure how the dark coloring book will be received.  Probably not as huge a success as my more mainstream Gardens & Goddesses, but the dark art niche is a strong one with very enthusiastic fans, so who knows?  I, for one, like both ends of the spectrum and everything in between, from bright and cheerful to dark and sinister.  ^_^  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Holiday Season

The Nutcracker 2014 commemorative ornament with Clara
Has a tendency to sneak up on us no matter how hard we try to be well prepared. ^^;  I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way.  Anyone who has retail experience knows how horribly hectic and unpleasant things can get.  I feel for workers at malls and busy retail shops this time of the year.  The customers get all stressed out, and they can get real mean...  ^^;

Many years ago, when I was still teaching ballet, I started out selling my ballet watercolor images on a single web page (This was back in 2001.).  Back then, I made everything at home with my printer and handled all customer service and made my trips to the post office.  This was all doable because, back in those days, there were four additional US Postal had branch offices placed throughout town, and it was relatively convenient for me to make multiple trips per week.

In 2005, I discovered CafePress and set up my shop.  And let me tell you, back then, things were FUN!!  I'm sure a lot of shopkeepers felt the warm fuzzy feeling as they made products with their images and set up sections to their shops.  Back then, the royalty percentage you set was honored in the 'market place'.  No weird commission math was done to our earnings - no, nothing like how it is today.   Then things started to get sour when CP started targeting the content providers (= shopkeepers) as a profit source to be manipulated as they grew in size.  First, their bonus structure got tweaked, then came the announcement that all market place sales will have the flat 10% royalty percentage "because that's the industry standard".  Then came, 10% sales fees imposed on your earnings unless you choose to pay shop fees upfront.  More recently, yet another tweaking of rules - unless you add a new design at least every 3 months, your earning percentage can plummet from 10% to 5%.  Yeah, ... no warm fuzzy feelings there these days. LOL

Waltz of the Flowers (Nutcracker 2014) 11 oz mug
Lots of CP shopkeepers ditched and migrated to, or at least expanded into setting up shops at Zazzle (I set up my shop, too.), the biggest competitor in the Print-On-Demand business.  At that time, they were still touting how we can set our own earning percentages with a good bonus potential, etc.  They did have a wonderful bonus program with reasonable tiers.  Things were going well.  Until a few years ago, when they started phasing out the bonus program, changing up the general layout (to the point of looking rather sterile, devoid of personality), optimizing for mobile devices.  Once again, things took the same course for the shopkeepers.  Generally much less fun, more tedious and time consuming to make a listing - all for much less money.  Gone were the warm fuzzy feelings.

I feel lucky that I do well on Etsy, so my shops at CP and Z have taken a complete backseat to my general operation as an artist these days (I've dropped Red Bubble and all other POD places because they simply made no sense when I analyzed the 'return on investiment' in terms of my time to these venues.).  Holiday season, however, is when I see a spike in sales from these two places.  The reason is that my ballet watercolor designs are of The Nutcracker.

I have not been able to update and add new designs as much as I've liked over the years - either busy teaching or painting my fantasy art.  But I usually managed to work on it in September to get ready for the holiday season.  This year, though, I completely, utterly FAILED.  ^^;  It was an email from CP customer service, which was forwarded from a customer who inquired about a 2014 version of a design! ^^;  I grudgingly got myself into action and started updating the commemorative gifts section.

Dance of the Snowflakes (The Nutcracker 2014) teapot
Ended up updating a lot of extra stuff. ^^;  Made some wrap-around designs for mugs and teapots.  My few years of selling tubed images came in handy to revamp some of my original watercolor illustrations with new backgrounds and giving my images new aspect ratios to fit a wider range of products.  ^_^
Nutcracker & Chipmunk Ballerina 2014 Ornament
Nutcracker earrings
Nutcracker mug (15 oz.)
Nutcracker mug (11 oz.) 
Nutcracker Pendant Necklace
I guess it's still simple and easy that it's kind of fun (minus the warm and fuzzy feeling, mind you).  ^^;  I needed to update some stuff over at the Z place, too, but it was a big disappointment that their previously already tedious way of making a listing got even more so after their "upgrade" to make things mobile-friendly...  Customers can still personalize stuff (well, at least those who are Internet savvy can, anyway...), so I'll keep my shop open and probably add new products/designs from time to time.  But I kind of miss the time in my life when all this was a lot more fun.  I feel a bit sentimental, looking back at the early days of my art making and attempting to make some money.  But things grow and change, and people do, too.  My art business has certainly grown, and the POD shops have become a very small portion of my income - still much larger than licensing my images to other companies.    It's kind of funny that CP and Z have become kind of like distant  relatives you only see during the winter holidays.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Sprite Number 56

Hard to believe the little flower baby series that started out with the "Woodland Bluebell Sprite" has grown to 56 sprites!  When I was a little girl, my favorite activities were drawing and gardening (I was the kind of kid who would spend what little allowance she had on seeds and plants at the nearby garden center.),so  it's not hard at all to figure out why this is the case.


My sprites are basically little elves representing the members of the plant kingdom.  Costumed in petals, leaves, seed pods, and whatnot, these little ones somehow manage to show different personalities, despite their general basic features being the same simple form.  ^_^  Naturally, some plants are harder to conceptualize into a sprite form.  Take, for example, Queen Anne's Lace.  I still have no idea after months of thinking on that particular plant. lol  One day, though, I will be struck with inspiration and he/she will appear on paper in 30 seconds or less.  That's how it usually goes.  I look at a photo of the plant and I'll know what to do.

I really hope I get to turn them into little figurines/sculptures some day.  That's another one of my plans I've been thinking for a while.  Been wanting to play with the polymer clay to turn these guys into 3D figures, but... with so many plans on the back burner, I have not been able to find time for it.  (Besides, I really need a new work space that can keep cat hair and dust at bay.  May have to build a separate studio...  Boy, wouldn't that be awesome?  I can dream ...  yes, I can.  ^_^ )

Just realized that I haven't posted my Spiderwort Sprite (Sprite # 55) here on the blog yet.  Oops.  She's such a cutie, I don't know how I could have spaced out.


She's a little shorter than many in the series, but I love her for her pigtails of leaves decorated with the flower clusters.  These flowers grew easily... like weeds... in Japan, where I grew up, but I have had no luck since I've moved to the arid desert west of the Rockies.  Soil is generally poor and things are extremely dry and inhospitable.  On top of everything, I just recently lost a large shade tree to either old age or more likely disease, and a huge trunk came falling down at my window one gusty day (Amazingly, no major damage to the house or the car port of our neighbor.). That took care of taking down the tree, but it also eliminated precious shade, where I might have been able to try growing this plant. T_T

I do like coloring my sprites (and other digis that I draw) when I find time.  I do enjoy coloring all of my line art, but I seem to be perpetually running behind, having more and more things piling up on my desk.  ^^;  Coloring my art is one of the few activities that I can do without hurrying.  I'm grateful that my mind doesn't feel the need to rush.  Art is still a meditative activity like gardening, even after it has become my work.  I feel so fortunate to be able to wake up excited every morning for the work that lies ahead for the day.  ^_^  ... Even when I have stuff piled up to do. lol

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Jack-o'-Lantern

Finally got around to making a jack-o'-lantern today! :D  Halloween brings the inner child in me (Well, actually, a lot of things do, but I'm not going to go into that today.).  But it's been particularly fun since my child was born many years ago.  We always crafted with pumpkins in one way or another.  We've played with paintings the faces on them with markers early on when she was young and then gradually moved onto using knives to carve.  I often let her just draw a face with markers and took over to do the carving.  This year we each got a pumpkin to play with.


Mine is a cross between a sugar skull and a jack-o'-lantern this year.  I wanted to take pictures with marigolds (one of the few plants that are still flowering this late in the season), but they're all too tall for this guy and I ended up propping him up in the sweet alyssums.


Tilt him skyward and he appears to be smiling.  ^_^


One of the other flowers that are still blooming is Mexican Sunflower, so I popped the blooms in the eye sockets.  Voila!  Perfect size! :D  So festive!

I'll try to take a picture of this with candle inside later when it gets darker.  Not guaranteeing anything since I was kind of impatient and I may not have scraped the inside enough to make it thin enough to allow light to show in the white area...

Well, it was a lot of fun and I got to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon (temperature in the 70s, calm and clear... just gorgeous), daydreaming and carving away.  Time well spent. ^_^

UPDATE: The third photo (flower eyes one) was featured in the weather segment of 11 News at 10 on KKCO on Halloween night. ^_^

Friday, October 24, 2014

Finally Here

Just checked my mail box to find a large envelope from the Gearhearts Steam-Punk Glamor Revue Magazine.  *exciting*  I just thought about this magazine a few days ago after completely forgetting about it for months.  You see, they contacted me at the beginning of this year about featuring my artwork "Steampunk Test Flight" (aka Steampunk Fantasia).  On their contract, they actually paid for the use of artwork (Which, unfortunately, is kind of rare.  Publications are always so damn eager to point out to you, 'But it's a great EXPOSURE!'. lol) and promised to send 2 copies of the magazine when they're out.

Well, months went by and I didn't hear anything about the magazine or didn't see anything in the mail, so I thought, "Oh, well, this is typical. I probably neither see any money or the magazine, I bet.".  This is sadly pretty much the attitude an artist develops after being out there for a while.  Lots of promises, lots of failed businesses, and lots of crooks ... that's what we deal with more often than I care to mention.  ^^;  Even the ones that pay the legitimate fee up front to use my images for posters, programs, books and magazines, I have seen maybe 1 in 10 would actually send me the final product they promise to send me.  I don't know what's going on with the rest.  Most likely an early onset senior moments galore.

So imagine my surprise when I saw a check in the mail from them a few months ago.  I didn't know which issue of the magazine the artwork was going to be featured on, so I had no idea when to expect what (or even expect anything at all as these types of things go).  I got the sense they were legit because of the artwork use agreement form I filled out and signed.  I was right.

After a few more weeks of waiting though, I thought, "Oh, looks like they forgot about sending me the magazines.  Whatever.".  You can just imagine how thrilled I was to actually see the physical copies of the magazine come in the mail.


You see the cover of the magazine to the left - an awesome cosplay!!  And there it is!  Just inside the awesome cover is my "Steampunk Test Flight"! :D  It's always strangely fun to see my art on print publications.  I don't know why or exactly what, but there's something special about it. :D  I had a lot of fun with this illustration, so it's also nice that somebody else out there liked it enough to have it on their magazine.  Thank you so much, Gearhearts Steam-Punk Glamor Revue!

I don't know if this is because I was born in Japan to Japanese parents, but I always automatically pick up a book in my left hand.  And in the case of English publications, I end up thumb-flipping pages starting with the back cover, moving towards the front.  On my first thumb-through, I didn't see my image anywhere. XD  I only saw it the second time around when I started from the cover, like I was supposed to. LOL

Oh, and you know what else that made me smile?  On the index, it is actually called "Frontspiece", the space my artwork occupies. ^^;  And they spelled my name correctly. *happy happy*  It really shouldn't be such a big deal, but this is another one of routine disappointments I encounter... incorrect spelling of my name.

The print and the line art digi of "Steampunk Test Flight" are available at my Etsy shop.  This image is also featured in the upcoming new coloring book, "Gardens & Goddesses volume 2".



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New Release - Day of the Dead Marie Antoinette

I  thought I'd write about my doodling process today. :D  I say 'doodling', because that's pretty much the attitude that my personality requires for me to tackle something with enough playfulness.  Otherwise, I get a little too serious, and frankly, when that happens, the results are not that great. ^^;  Besides, we should always take things a little less seriously.  Stress is everywhere these days if we're not careful.  The last thing I'd want is 'art' to become 'not fun'.  I've been close in the past, but thankfully, I was able to catch myself in time to prevent a runaway disaster. LOL

Today, I released a new digi, Day of the Dead Marie.  She's a fun mishmash of Mexican Day of the Dead holiday's Catrina face with the Rococo excess of big hair and ornamentation.  Well, I thought it might be fun to draw something like that that involves a lot of details, and it was... for the most part. ^_^

This is where I start.  The rough sketch, or what I call 'the scribble'.   This can happen on any type of paper. (And I mean 'any' type of paper.  I've done a sprite sketch on the back of a store receipt! LOL)  I do have a sketch pad that I bought at an art supply store, but more often than not, an idea would come and I tend to grab any scrap paper with enough open area for a scribble.  This one ended up on a back side of an Etsy receipt I printed for a customer that didn't quite come out right when the printer was set on 'draft'.

When I get started on a poor quality paper like that (although I use a fairly heavy weight, acid-free printer paper for all business-related printings - not art-related printings, mind you), it makes sense to just scan the sketch and open it in my trusty old Corel Painter for digital inking and cleaning.  If I start on a thicker paper (highly unlikely unless I set out with clear intent to begin with), I'd ink on that paper.


And here's a screen shot of the project in Corel Painter.  I'm not a huge fan of the way the stylus tip glides so smoothly (really, too slick for me) on the drawing surface (Wacom Intuos 3).  I prefer the slight resistance of the bristol vellum (140 lb to 150 lb range) for inking...  But I persevere.  It's a trade off.  The 'erase' and 'undo' are truly the most priceless of the functions available when drawing digitally.  It's not fun to have an accident in ink on paper that you can't do much about...  really.  I'd be honest, sometimes I don't feel up to the challenge. LOL

This one took me two afternoons because of the mind-boggling hair details (Them pearls!) and the floral frame.  Although I've gotten pretty quick about drawing roses after drawing so many over the past few years.  The only two things I looked up reference for were the spider and the cat skull.


And here's the final preview of the PNG version of the digi listing.  Another huge plus of drawing digitally is the ease of removing the background's white.  ^_^  The digi is available at my Etsy shop (in JPG version and PNG version).  The JPG version is also listed at the Aurora Wings web shop.  I'm still undecided on how I am going to organize the PNG listings in the web shop, so I am yet to start offering them there.  ^^;  Honestly, one person making art, processing for listing, keeping up with social media, etc. is entirely TOO MUCH.  Or I'm getting too old for it. LOL XD

The ladies of both the Challenge Blog and Showcase Blog DTs have kindly made beautiful samples using this digi to have a stunning showcase.  You will not be disappointed to check out the blog post here.

Now, I really would love to do a color version of this if I can find time for it.  I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that I'll get to. :D

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Title List of "Midnight Gardens" Coloring Book

I was going to write this post yesterday, but got busy with errands, so here is the list of titles for the dark fantasy coloring book, "Midnight Gardens".

  • Las Calaveras (colored version on the cover)
  • Along Came a Spider (original line art)
  • Dragon Lore
  • Dance of a Thousand Birome (aka Goddess of Biro)
  • Secret Kisses (original line art)
  • A Dark Undercurrent
  • Memento Mori
  • Anima Sola
  • Circe (original line art)
  • Bone Queen
  • Santa Muerte
  • Steampunk Dark Angel
  • Unless
  • Spirited Away
  • Metanoia
  • Thep Kinnaree (original line art)
  • Viridis Incendia
  • One by One
  • The Darker Bride
  • White Lady
This book contains two exclusives (marked by red text) that will not be released in digis because of the full details from edge to edge.  Four images that are currently available in digi format are also featured with full original details in the background in the coloring book.  

Spirited Away ©Mitzi Sato-Wiuff

Metanoia  ©Mitzi Sato-Wiuff
Shown here with original orientation.  Coloring book's line art is rotated 90 degrees to the left to accommodate the portrait orientation of the book.

By now, all the Kickstarter fundraiser supporters should have received their PDFs from Ellen Million Graphics.  (I have also received the entire 16 titles as a supporter of the campaign.  ^_^  I was looking forward to check out the Fairy Tales, Shimmy, Songgryphons, and Steamdreaming myself and ... maybe find some free time to play with some of the images ... especially those by my friend and a fellow artist, Jenny Heidewald.  ;)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

PDF Copies from the Coloring Book Fundraiser

Just received an e-mail from Ellen Million Graphics with links to the PDF copies of the coloring books.  This is actually the first time I get to see the final selections of the titles in my book, "Gardens & Goddesses volume 2".  When I first submit images, I don't usually have any idea if all of the images will make it into the book or not.  Plus, there were a few images submitted later to the batch.  ^^;

Anyhow, here's the list of titles that are included in the G & G 2 book.

  • White Poppy (colored version on the cover)
  • Red Poppies
  • La Fee Verte
  • Christmas Fairy
  • Leanne's Angel
  • Autumn Harmony
  • What Dreams May Come
  • Enchanted Visions
  • Marie Antoinette
  • Marie Nyantoinette
  • Freyja
  • Heartstrings
  • New Beginnings
  • If Only
  • Peace Rose
  • Romanza
  • The Arrival of Spring (full version)
  • Pink Ribbon Mermaid (full version)
  • Steampunk Test Flight
  • Stardancer
The titles in red are coloring book exclusives.  The Arrival of Spring is the full version (with background details) of "Little Elf Kia" in digi.  Pink Ribbon Mermaid in the coloring book has the sea weed details not included in the digi version.

Romanza ©Mitzi Sato-Wiuff

If Only ©Mitzi Sato-Wiuff

The "Brain Celebrations" book has two of my pieces - Anima Sola and The Darker Bride.
The "Apples and Roses" book contains my "Rococo Cinderella" (full version).  I will release the Cinderella-only version in digi format soon.
I'll have the title list of the dark book in tomorrow's post.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Daily Deviation on deviantART

I just logged into deviantART to see what was up.  I have not been posting anything new in a while so I was just making a round to check messages.  When I checked the visit stat and saw a spike of some 900 views on Saturday, I thought something was up.  From my past experience, I gathered it was either a journal feature by someone with millions of followers or a Daily Deviation.  I had to check my comments section to figure out what was what, and it became evident that "Reverie" received the honor of Daily Deviation on Oct. 4, 2014.

I'm a little bit sad that I didn't discover this on Saturday.  Let's see... what was I up to on Saturday?  Frantically working on digi files.  Just like I've been doing most of this year, day after day after day.  To think I missed out on the excitement of the Daily Deviation honor!!  Yep, I'm still sad.  ^^;

"Reverie" in ink, watercolor, & acrylic ©Mitzi Sato-Wiuff 2013
Private collection
This is my 6th piece to receive the honor of Daily Deviation (I keep a special folder of pieces chosen for this honor in my deviantART account under aruarian-dancer.).  I still make a big deal out of it simply because it's an undeniable fact that there are probably billions of artwork on that site.  Unless you have a huge following, and you are prolific, it's hard to be noticed.  I've been lucky that fellow deviants have been noticing my work and recommending them for the honor.  It's always especially nice when the piece that  gets the front page honor happens to be one of your personal favorites.  I've had everything from a doodle done on printer paper to a digital piece with over 20 hours spent to a traditional piece like this one chosen for DD so far.  This one was painted about a year ago.  Sat on my shelf for a while, but then found a happy new home of a collector while listed on Etsy.  ^_^

Looking at this piece makes me want to do some traditional art in subdued colors again.  Like I said, I've been frantically producing digital stamps most of this year, but things have been especially hectic since I lost 3 weeks in August and September to being sick.  ^^;  There's something exquisitely lovely about people liking something that I made for pure enjoyment for myself.  People will always like fan art.  Crafters will like line art for coloring.  That's all very nice, but it just doesn't quite come close to the joy of finding an appreciative audience for a piece one paints for pure enjoyment with pretty much no regards to commercial or popularity concerns.

Getting a Daily Deviation for our original work does magic for our motivation, confidence, and belief in ourselves.  Maybe I'm feeling this particularly keenly since I've been away from regular production of this type of art.  Time to actively seek to balance things out, and get back to spending some serious 'me' time!



Sunday, September 28, 2014

Successful Fundraiser

With only 19 hours left to go in the campaign, I expect this to be my final update on the fundraiser.  This weekend has seen a flurry of supporters adding pledges, which allowed up to get past so many of the stretch goals that included color covers and reprints of old titles.

I am happy to report that my two new titles will have full-color covers, and the latest stretch goal just reached has guaranteed a reprint of the original "Gardens & Goddesses" coloring book (I'm down to 5 copies in my Etsy shop and Ellen Million Graphics has run out of copies during this campaign.).  What does this mean?  Well, all three coloring books will be offered at my Etsy shop this fall.  That's what this means. :D

Cover images courtesy of Ellen Million Graphics

I admit, it was a little frustrating and sometimes downright difficult to watch the progress on Kickstarter.  Especially when I saw there were over 600 shares of the link on Facebook, yet there were only a dozen or so actual backers.  But as I'd seen before, Kickstarter campaigns tend to see flurries of activities in the final days and hours before they come to an end.  I think this is especially true for campaigns that have already reached their goals (which guarantees project going forward and most honest folks will try their hardest to deliver what's been promised as reward to supporters).

I'm completely confident in Ellen's ability to deliver rewards to supporters.  There was never any question.  She had run a successful campaign last year, and she's been in the coloring book business long before that.  I've worked with and ordered multiple batches of my coloring books since 2011, with absolutely no problem.  ^_^

The final weekend is over, and now we can pretty much sit back and celebrate this successful campaign with a glass of wine. :D  Tomorrow morning, we'll be having a celebration event on Facebook where all supporters can gather and watch what final stretch goals may be reached.

I'm looking forward to ordering my first batch of books and making shop listings for these new coloring books.  Never mind I don't have any idea where I'll store these books. LOL

Friday, September 26, 2014

Final Weekend of the Fundraiser

Oh, boy, it's coming down to the last 3 days! Here's a look at the revised cover of "Gardens & Goddesses volume 2", as we have not only unlocked the title a while back, but as of yesterday, the pledge total is high enough that this volume (and the other, dark fantasy coloring book, "Midnight Gardens") is guarantee to go to print with a color cover.  Sweet!!  The revised cover has the background color that closely matches the G & G volume 1 (My colorful "Pansy" is the cover art of that book.).  I was almost holding my breath all day yesterday, anxious for these two titles to achieve color covers.  I'm thrilled to picture all three of my coloring books being listed at my Etsy shop. :D  *happy~~~*

Cover image courtesy of Ellen Million Graphics
I'm excited to report that the campaign total is showing (on the Kickstarter page) at $3,795 with 104 backers.  That figure is for the on-site total.  Ellen is also accepting off-site pledge from people who prefer to avoid transacting with Amazon or people who have credit to spend from Ellen Million Graphics' Sketch Fest and other services.  Counting the most recent update figure from the off-site pledges, we have a total of $3,998.75 and 107 backers for the coloring books. :D  How awesome!

So now, the next stretch goal in sight is the reprinting of "Songgryphons" coloring book.  This title has been out of print for some time.  It has been voted by the supporters of this campaign as the 'popular choice' for reprint.  This will happen when the pledge total reaches $4,000 as possibly our final stretch goal.

7 new coloring books funded, with 4 with color covers, and maybe one reprint of an out-of-print title.  This is everything we had hoped for.  How awesome!!

I'm squeezing in an advert here for my free gift for all subscribers of the new AuroraWings Newsletter (monthly).  The gift digi's download link will be in the first mailings of the newsletter, scheduled to go out on Oct. 2.  If you haven't signed up for it yet (I doubt there are still people who haven't... since I've been mentioning this a lot all of last week.  Hehe.), now is the time! :D  You can just use the sign-up form found in the sidebar of this blog.



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Midnight Gardens Coloring Book

Great news, if you have been following the progress of our colorcing book fundraiser on Kickstarter.  Figuring in the off-site backers support, the campaign total has reached $3,517.50, which means that "Midnight Gardens" is officially unlocked as a PDF and gets a green light to go to print! *happy dance*

With campaign winding down to just 4 more days to go, now it comes down to whether we'll see "Fishpond Fantasies" and "Apples and Roses" with full-color covers, and then whether we'll see "Gardens & Goddesses 2" and "Midnight Gardens" with color covers, before moving onto reprints of other out-of-date titles for additional stretch goals.

Meanwhile, I've had flurry of purchases at my Etsy shop for the original "Gardens & Goddesses", as this title is all but gone at Ellen Million Graphics, and down to 5 at my shop.  As one of the most popular titles offered through EMG, this one is pretty much guaranteed to have yet another printing (I belive it will be its 4th.), so I can expect to see it in my shop about the same time I get my hands on the physical copies of the two new titles. :D  Yay, yay, ya~y!!!  This was the good news I was waiting for after a morning full of crappy news. LOL

Cover images by Ellen Million Graphics.  I feel that these coloring books MUST have color covers...
So now, the additional stretch goal has been spelled out:

  • At $3,600, "Fishpond Fantasies" and "Apples and Roses" will get color covers
  • At $3,700, my two solo titles will get color covers
  • At $4,000, "Songgryphons" will be reprinted
Four days left to go.  We would so prefer to see the covers in full color.  I mean, it's so nice.  There's no denying the special allure of fully colored images, even for coloring books.  The imagination gets a creative boost, I feel. :D  Besides, since the first "Gardens & Goddesses" has color cover, it sure would be nice to get a matching set, isn't it?  Hehe.  I'll be watching the campaign closely for the next several days, and if/when necessary, I'm ready and willing to kick up my pledge even more to make the color covers happen.  That, at least, is within my realm of control. ^_^

EDIT (6:45 pm MDT): With the off-site supporter pledge counted into the total, we now have confirmation that these two coloring books of mine will have COLOR COVERS!  Yay!  Thank you, everyone, for making this happen. :D  We've also reached the 100 supporters mark, so every backer gets an ACEO print. :D

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Down to the Last 5 Days

The coloring books fundrasier campaign on Kickstarter by Ellen Million Graphics is coming down to the final days!  Eek!  We're officially past $3,000 in pledge on Kickstarter.  Counting the off-site support Ellen has also started accepting (for people who don't want to transact via Amazon.com and other reasons, I suppose...), the total is a little over $3,100 at the time of this writing.

At $3,000 pledge total, a dark fantasy coloring book titled "Wings of Night" was unlocked.

Cover image courtesy of Ellen Million Graphics.

Some pages from the Wings of Night coloring book.  Courtesy of Ellen Million Graphics.

This is one of the two titles in this fundraising campaign that I actually don't have an image in. LOL  XD  I have an image in each of the following titles:

  • Apples and Roses - fairy tales book by multiple artists
  • Brain Celebrations - zombie book by multiple artists
  • Scheherazade's Shimmy - Arabian Nights and belly dancers book by multiple artists

On top of these three, I have 2 solo titles "Gardens & Goddesses 2" and "Midnight Gardens".  G&G2 was unlocked last week and it will go to print after the campaign is over.   On the line, right now (and giving me heart palpitations), is "Midnight Gardens".  This is the collection featuring the dark fantasy pieces of mine.  I would LOVE to see this volume go to print.  We only have a handful of days left to reach $3,500, and it's definitely making me nervous. LOL  I was checking the Kickstarter page multiple times a day, leading up to this point, but I can't check it so often.  It makes me nervous. ^^;

I have been updating the progress on facebook (both at AW group and my personal page), and yesterday, I even wrote up a journal post on deviantART, which I have not done in almost a year.  There's a video and link at my main web site as well.  I feel I've done all I could do to spread the word (short of sending spammy e-mails to all my friends and contacts...), so I really need to sit back now and hope the Universe to do its magic.  I don't know how things go at the last minute at Kickstarter campaigns, but it will be interesting to see if we could get a flurry of support right before the close. ^_^

You can access the campaign home page from the little gadget in the sidebar to the left of this post. ^_^  Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Reward (one title in PDF format) starts at just $7 pledged.
  • Additional $50 to any reward tier will get you 14 (possibly more) titles in PDFs - imagine how many hours of coloring fun that would be!
  • You are able to change pledge amount (increase, decrease, withdraw) at any time during the campaign before it ends
Ellen has already run a successful Kickstarter last year for other volumes of coloring books, and she has been in the business of publishing coloring books for years.  I would consider this campaign to be extremely low risk (and high reward!).  I hope you decide to support us. ^_^  And to everyone who has already pledged support, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Another Update on the Coloring Books Fundraiser

The 3-week campaign on Kickstarter by Ellen Million Graphics is now coming to the final week!  We've reached four stretch goals so far (At the time of my writing, the total pledge is at $2,827 with 79 supporters.).  A total of 5 new coloring books have been green-lighted for printing with the fund raised.  However, Ellen has lined up a lot of new titles, and many out-of-print titles also wait in the wings for a chance to be reprinted.

On the line right now and keeping me rather anxious is my all dark, solo collection of fantasy images, "Midnight Gardens".  Here's a cover preview.  It is shown here in glorious full color.  When we reach $3,500 total pledge, this volume will be guaranteed to go to print, but with grey scale cover.  We need to reach even further past the $3,500 mark to actually see this book with color cover, but hey, we can dream.  There's nothing wrong with helping our imagination along, I feel. LOL

Cover image courtesy of Ellen Million Graphics
When I first approached Ellen for possible volume 2 of "Gardens & Goddesses", I decided to bring up the idea of another volume dedicated to my darker images.  I figured that the worst case scenario would be that she could turn the idea down, and in that case, I'd be exactly right where I started.  Nothing lost.  So I'm glad I tossed my idea her way.  (Doubly glad I had enough images to fill a book... LOL)

Thanks to the support of my fans, the first "Gardens & Goddesses" coloring book has been very popular.  It was printed a total of 3 times to date since it's debut in late 2011.  And I'm down to the final 6 or 7 copies at my Etsy shop as I write this.  The printed copy is heavy (even with a relatively think paper inside), and costs over $11 to ship internationally.  Still, I'm always amazed that I get a lot of orders from UK and Australia for this book.

Sometimes, we get really nice, profoundly touching e-mails from customers.  Here's one Ellen received about my book.  This lady had bought two copies of "Gardens & Goddesses" and came back to EllenMillionGraphics.com for two more copies.  It made me cry.

"I'm placing another order for a couple of these books. I let my daughter
take them to the hospital for my granddaughter, and they colored pictures
in all of the books. I will email you the picture my daughter finished and
a picture of our beautiful granddaughter. [name withheld] is feeling icky from
chemo this week but she is able to sit up and color. She has AML (acute
myeloid leukemia) They have been unable to find a donor for a bone marrow
transplant but we haven't given up hope. [name withheld] has a 2 year old daughter.
They are living with me until she recovers because she is too ill to handle
a child, cook meals, and all of the other things that go with being a wife
and mother. I have been coloring since I could hold a pencil. We included
[name withheld] when she was about 9. We have been coloring together as often as we
can since then. I'm so happy we have this outlet to give us something to
help pass the long hours in the hospital and to reduce the stress we are all
feeling with monthly chemo in a hospital 125 miles from home. Your books
are wonderful. I'm sure you know how difficult it is to find beautiful
books for adults to color. It is also scary when you type adult coloring
books into search. ;-)
Thank you again for beautiful books."

I do my art for escape and fun.  At least, that's how it started in my childhood, and luckily for the most part, it remains that way for me today.  I'm truly blessed that I get to doodle to earn my living.  I wake up every morning excited about the day's work and generally happy.  I don't have to commute.  I don't have to deal with office politics, idiot or nasty bosses, gossip, backstabbing, and the sorts that make things stressful and unpleasant for so many people.  I don't save lives or make a huge difference in someone's day or life like scientists or doctors do.  But knowing that some people enjoy coloring my images and have fun, and while they're coloring, they can forget about life's unpleasant things, I'm content that in some small ways, I can make people happy.

Kind of got into it a little deeper than I originally planned, but that's what these books mean to me.  I was pretty ecstatic when the first printings of "Gardens & Goddesses" arrived at my house and held a physical copy in my hand.  It was a dream-come-true moment for me.  So, you can imagine, to be able to add two more titles of mine (and have some more collaborative volumes with my images represented) means a LOT to me.  I continue to anxiously check the pledge total... multiple times a day. LOL

Friday, September 19, 2014

Another Update on the Coloring Books Fundraiser

As of this morning, we're more than half way to the next stretch goal of $2,500.  Less than $150 to go before we unlock the next title "Scheherazade's Shimmy" (a multi-artist collaborative collection inspired by Arabian Nights and belly dancers).

Cover photo courtesy of Ellen Million Graphics.
12 artists' work are in this volume.  Many are friends of mine from Enchanted Visions Project and Sketch Fest (Ahh, Sketch Fest...  It's been a long time since I've managed to participate and have fun... T_T )
I have my Desert Rose (full version with the window in the background) in this volume.  (Just got the words late yesterday. LOL)  I haven't seen a preview pages of this book, but it should be a fun volume.

The number of coloring book titles available in PDF format has grown to 12 on the most current update that I have seen of this campaign.  A few more of the old out-of-print titles have also been added onto the list.

With official updates numbering 8, it's becoming harder and harder to keep track of what's what at different pledge levels and the option of add-ons.  I feel the easiest way to keep track is by reading the whole campaign home page here.  And I mean, read the entire page all the way to the bottom.  There's so much information.  But if you're a pleding support, please know that your pledge amount can be increased or decreased, or even completely withdrawn before the end of the campaign period.  Kickstarter has it flexible.  I've just increased my pledge yesterday.  And it was super easy.  ^_^

10 days left to go.  Currently counting 73 backers.  Somebody just pledges $100. :D  We should be able to make the $2,500 stretch goal this weekend for sure. ^_^

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Finally Getting Around to

Set up my newsletter campaign! *big sigh of relief* XD  This has been in the back of my head for way too long.  Didn't realize that I had my Mail Chimp account set up in the August of 2013 and it's September of 2014 now!  I shudder to think just how behind I am in some aspects of my professional life.  (Such is the life of an independent, self-represented artist...)

"Better late than never" is the mantra of the year for me. LOL  Seriously though, the intention is there to get things done.  Things just have a tendency of getting pushed aside because, as everyone knows, life dishes out a lot of challenges on top of your best thought out plans.

The good news of the day is that Ellen Million Graphics Kickstarter fundraiser campaign has reached $2,000 in total pledged support, which means that "Gardens & Goddesses 2" is going to print! *happy dance*  At the time of my writing this blog post, the cover is still black & white.  I would love for us to reach some more stretch goals and make this a color cover.  *Universe, hear my prayer!*

Cover image courtesy of Ellen Million Graphics.
I am making this title available as a PDF copy, too, so supporters of this fundraiser can now add the PDF copy for additional $5 pledge. :D  What a bargain!  20 images are in this book!!

Back to the Mail Chimp situation I was talking about earlier.  I have finally managed to get everything set up so that I can start having e-mail campaigns like a real business.  I know, I'm late to the game, but at the same time, timing seemed right, now that the Stamps by AuroraWings facebook group has a membership of over 1,500.  I am making the sign up process relatively easy for everyone by having an app right there on facebook on one of my pages, on my art blog right here to the left, AND right on the homepage of the AuroraWings.com website.  There also will be a sign-up gift for my subscribers, which will go out with the first mailing of the newsletter during the first week of October (tentatively scheduled for Oct. 2, 2014 to be precise).  So, if you're reading this, and you're interested in the sign-up gift, I suggest that you use the sign-up gadget found in the sidebar to the left right now!  I promise to only send out one newsletter a month - that's all I realistically have time for, and nobody wants a cluttered inbox.

Wrapping things up, I was a little less lazy today to make a pretty advertisement for this weekend's special discount code.  LOL  (It's so good to be feeling almost normal after weeks of being sick and miserable.)


These kids are creeping me out!  Maybe I had a little too much fun making this ad, but full-color pictures are more eye-catching than just text.  As facebook keeps pointing out to me, my posts are more 'engaging' when they contain pictures.  (Actually, when you complain about life's misery, something political, or say something highly opinionated, a whole bunch of people on facebook find that highly 'engaging'.   But I'd like to avoid drama whenever possible.  Who's got time for that?)  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Update on the Coloring Books Fundraiser

As I wrote in my previous post, Ellen Million Graphics is running a Kickstarter campaign to bring some brand new titles of coloring books.  Basically, we have a total of something like 8 titles waiting in the wings.  Each $500 pledge reached means a title will, for sure, go to print.  Although the campaign officially met the goal of $500 as initially set already, and this campaign is technically 'successfully funded', that's just one title, "Fishpond Fantasies" (a coloring book of mermaids) getting printed.  And the cover is still black and white.

At $1,000 pledge amount, we've unlocked the second title going into print, "Apples and Roses" (a coloring book of fairy tales).  The cover is still black and white at this point.  My Rococo Cinderella piece is included in this book.

Remember me working frantically to meet the deadline in mid August?  Well, it made it into the book. :D
As of this writing, we are somewhere between $1,000 and the next stretch goal of $1,500.  The title to be unlocked next is "Brain Celebrations" (a coloring book of zombies).  And I also have a piece in this volume.

The "Ghost Bride" is included in the "Brain Celebrations" coloring book.
The next stretch goal of $2,000 will actually bring my solo sequel to the "Gardens & Goddesses", titled "Gardens & Goddesses 2"!!  Here's a look at the black and white cover...

The cover image courtesy of Ellen Million Graphics.  
Meeting further stretch goals (as she has done in her past campaigns) will mean that the cover could look like this!


But it could be in color if we make it to more stretch goals. So much better.  Don't you think? :D
And somewhere down the list of the 8 titles, there's a volume of my darker fantasy art collection "Midnight Gardens".  I would so love to see this title come to be, too.

There are many support levels from just $7 (You'll receive a PDF copy of one of the coloring books that go to print after this campaign, plus whatever titles previously published that are available in this format.  A list is available at the Kickstarter page.) all the way up to $500.  We'd love to get as many supporters from all over the world on this.  Please check out the campaign here.  Thanks!!