Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Holiday Sprites

I've got quite a few Sprites piled up as uncolored lines on my desk.  Some are digital line art, while others are unfinished ACEOs... (boy, I hate the sound of that!).  Some of these babies are 2 years old! ^^;  With the publication of the Christmas Sprites coloring book from Ellen Million Graphics and these babies becoming available as cross stitch charts from Lena Lawson Needle Arts, I need to get these babies all colored up. But since there is no way to add more hours into our day, once you get behind with something, it just gets harder and harder... or so it seems to me.  Yikes!

I did manage to color this new one, "Christmas Lights Sprite", which was not in the book.  I had a pencil scribble version all ready when I was working on the coloring book images, but this one was one of the two that didn't make the deadline.  So this baby was released like a regular digi.

"Christmas Lights Sprite"   So many color possibilities.  I went with a traditional 'Santa's Little Helper" look in red and white, but this baby is cute in blue & white, green/teal & white, green & red and many other color combos. :D  Digi of the line art is available at my shop at this link. On sale for $2.45, which is 30% off the regular price, through Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015.

"Holly Sprite"  This one's lines were digitally redrawn for the new coloring book.  Many of my Sprites are original ACEOs to begin with, with measurements of 2.5" x 3.5".  Even with high resolution scans, lines are not crisp.  Normally, I like the look of slightly messy lines as it more closely resembles the lines made with traditional rubber stamps, but when you're talking about coloring book pages printed in black ink only on white pages, files need tweaking.  Some of these guys needed so much tweaking that redrawing made more sense all together.  For the holly leaves, I went with a variegated look, which I think is just so pretty, that's been frost kissed to have that red tinge.  Such a classic Christmas foliage, I had to go with red and white for this baby's coat! :D  This baby is included in the "Christmas Sprites" coloring book, and she is also available as a line art digi at this link.

The coloring book is now ready for immediate shipping (usually same day, if your order is made before 2 pm ET US).  You can purchase a copy at this link.  I only have a very limited quantity of these, as I received more pre-orders than I originally anticipated, and I don't think I can get more in before the holiday deadline with the postal service.  Don't wait till last minute if you've been looking at this one.  ^_^

Monday, October 26, 2015

Christmas Sprites Mini Coloring Book Pre-Order

As I write this, the second volume of the Sprites coloring book, "Christmas Sprites", is getting ready at the printer.  How exciting is this?!  I am taking pre-orders of this title now until the shipment of books arrives at my house and list them at my Etsy shop  The pre-order is being taken at my Storenvy shop.  I've decided to run the pre-order campaign there, rather than doing it on my website via PayPal button or on Etsy to keep all records in one place and avoid any confusion that will come with people putting pre-order item along with regular items in their shopping cart at Etsy (As far as I know, there is no way to separate shipping or keep track of orders for partial shipment of order within their interface, so things can potentially get quite messy, I fear...).

There are 12 Sprites in all, 6 of which are brand new coloring book exclusives drawn for this publication.  They are all Christmas themed and adorable.  The previously released Sprites (in digi format) have been redrawn by me for a cleaner, crispier print in coloring book (Most home printers print with CMYK inks, which can handle hundreds of thousands of shades of grey between true black and white, but commercially printed coloring books are done in black ink, which has its peculiarities.).

Click on the image to view larger.
Here is the list of all Sprites that are included in this 'mini' coloring book (approx.  5.5" x 8.5", roughly half the size of my other fantasy coloring books).

1. Christmas Cactus Sprite
2. Christmas Tree Sprite
3. Poinsettia Sprite
4. Mistletoe Sprite
5. Little Santa (cover)
6. Holly Sprite
7. Holiday Wreath Sprite
8. Amaryllis Sprite
9. Candle Angel Sprite
10. Gingerbread Man Sprite
11. Stocking Sprite
12. Candy Cane Sprite

This will make a wonderful gift for all those who are young at heart.  These Sprites are simple and accessible for children, and whimsical and fun for the adults who enjoy coloring.  The smaller size of the mini coloring books also make it easy to carry around in your bags with a set of colored pencils for coloring on the go!  Rated "Pretty Easy" by EMG's coloring book difficulty level rating system.

You can pre-order these books at this link.    This pre-order is for a physical paper copy of a book.  Digital version in PDF format is NOT planned at this time.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Red Hibiscus - Commissioned ACEO

I had this little beauty finished during the first week of September, but decided to wait until my client overseas confirmed me that she received it safely.  It's always a little nerve-racking to ship anything overseas.  Things get lost in the mail quite often - even for domestic mail.  I am usually the optimistic type, but when it's something like an original art, in other words, something that cannot be replaced even with insurance, yes, I feel nervous.  ^^;

I just got the word on both Facebook and on Etsy review that my client in France has received the original ACEO safe and sound.  When I checked the tracking information on this transaction, it did show that it was delivered in record time - just one week!  (Whaaat?  I have domestic mail that takes longer to reach me!  All the time!)  I have received a package from the UK in 5 days, which still holds the record for the fastest postal transit in my personal record.  (Oh, the power of Her Majesty's image on the Royal Mail postage stamps.)

I haven't done a commission ACEO in a really long time, and I needed a new prescription for contact lenses for just as long.  LOL  There's the reason I was avoiding it!  Seriously, between the high pollen count from weeds in bloom this time of the year making my eyes itchy and watery AND my lenses getting old, the tiny dimension of ACEO at just 2.5" x 3.5" is torture. (Yes, because I'm old.  There, I said it.)  I still LOVE to pack in tiny details and give my pieces tiny highlights despite my weak eyes.   It's always a little jarring to get my head wrapped around the tiny scale, but the challenge ACEO art presents makes it fun also.

You may see me doing some more of these now that my eyes are enjoying a fresh pair of contacts.  Ahhhhh.... *happy happy*

Friday, August 28, 2015

Coloring Book Giveaway!

It's time for a giveaway!  Everyone loves giveaways.  I have only won once in one of these things, but it's certainly fun to enter, but for me, it's far more fun to host these giveaways.  It's always fun to hear, "Oh, I never win anything!  This is awesome!" from the winners when I get in touch with them.

One grand prize -- one coloring book shipped anywhere in the world to the lucky winner
Five digi prizes -- a brand new Sprite digi to be given to additional lucky winners BEFORE public release

Interested???  Please read on!

Please go to the Fantasy Art of Mitzi Facebook page and see the pinned post of the original contest announcement at the top of the wall.  The entry instructions are spelled out.  The deadline is Monday, Aug. 31 at 11:59 pm EDT (3:59 am GMT, Tues. Sept. 1).  The grand winner and the five digi winners will be announced on the same FB page on Sept. 1 after the random drawing takes place.

I've got lots going on this weekend...  Here's a coupon code for anyone who's shopping for digis at my Etsy shop.  You can get 20% OFF on your digi purchase of just $5 USD or more!!!  This is a pretty good deal. :D

And here's a sneak peek...  Actually, a collage of three sneak peek snippets from earlier this week all put together.  Interested?  This lovely mermaid is an exclusive digi only available at the Coloring for Clean Water fundraiser taking place tomorrow.  Check out more info at their event page on Facebook right here.  You can get this digi with your donation to the cause, and participate in the coloring contest to win prizes.  There are prizes from different sponsors given away during the fundraiser event, too!  Be sure to check it out!

I have to get back to work (original ACEOs, more digis to ink, more files to clean, store listings...).  The life of a self-representing artist is never dull.  XD

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Preview of the New Coloring Book

Just saw this in an e-mail newsletter from Ellen Million Graphics* (the publisher of my coloring books and other coloring books for grown-ups).  Eek!  It's a preview of all the pages that are in the new half-size Sprites coloring book, vol. 1.

image courtesy of Ellen Million Graphics
The Sprites coloring books will be in a smaller format (easy to fit into your bag and carry anywhere and whip it out and color whenever you have time to kill).  And fewer pages than the full-size cousins (so that the books will be able to actually close and don't look as if exploding LOL).  Same paper stock and one-sided printing as the other books.  This book is rated "Pretty Easy" so it is suitable for children and adults who love these little flower babies.

You can order this coloring book right now at Ellen Million Graphics at this link.

I will be listing this coloring book at the AuroraWings Etsy shop once I have stock at the house and be able to process your orders right away.

The book will probably become available on Amazon here shortly as well since Ellen sells all her coloring books there as well.

* Ellen Million Graphics has been publishing coloring books for grown-ups way before 'adult coloring' became the big trend it is today.  The current trend still has a major focus on mandalas and repetitive doodle-like designs mass produced by large publishing houses, but Ellen's books are created in a totally different way.  She is a fantasy artist herself, and her business has always focused on products that bring other fantasy artists together and promote their work.  She used to publish a monthly e-zine called EMG-Zine with articles, tutorials, fiction, poems, and artwork contributed by fellow fantasy artists.  Ellen also is the tireless host of Sketch Fest, a monthly event, where anyone can give prompts for participating artists to select and work on.  Ellen Million Graphics' coloring books are books of fantasy themes by fantasy artists.   You'll still find princesses and mermaids, but the lines are more complex and geared toward teen & grown-ups.  Some are single-artist titles like my books, and many others are multi-artist collaboration compilations (I contribute line art for these, too.).  Whatever books you choose, you can feel good about supporting the creative efforts of individual artists, each one of them is a micro-business of their own.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Ice Cream Sundae Sprite

With new coloring books of my Sprites on the way, I just finished my 63rd, "Ice Cream Sundae Sprite".  Originally, the Sprites were flower babies, but then some came along that were veggies and mushrooms.  Then came the cupcake and ladybug.  So now, I'm in an expansion mood.

It's so easy to get behind on the coloring of my digital stamp images.  I'd like to have them ready when the line art digis come out, but more often than not, I don't get around to doing the color version.  I like having the partially colored preview/sample image on my listings, so in a time crunch, I literally only paint parts of the image to make the preview.  I don't want to get in a habit of that as it restricts what else I can do with an image, like licensing for other products from tubes to cross stitch charts.

I'm happy to be able to show this fully colored version for a change this time.  ^_^

For a Sprite, this one is loaded with details.  When you just look at the digi version, it looks simple enough, but when you really stop and think about it, this one has a lot of different textures in it, making for a nice challenge if you want to really tackle it hard core. lol  Whipped cream (as white stuff is always tricky), syrup, shiny fruits, then glass bowl.  Glass is intimidating for a lot of people.  It's actually kind of fun to really look at something and try to reproduce it.  In my work, especially with the digis, it's so easy to relax and go on an auto-pilot mode doodling manga/anime style all the time.  It was nice to actually push for a little bit of realism with the colored version of this new Sprite.  I'm pretty happy with the way the bottom of the image came out with the swirls of chocolate syrup and melty ice cream showing through a clear glass bowl.    All in all, this was a fun one, though I was up past 1:30 on Thursday night working (But it's partly because I took a lunch break and watched an episode of Ink Master, which turned into a stretch of binge-watching of multiple episodes...  Got to get better at time management!).

I really need to get the Green Man inked.  I also have another exotic plant Sprite sketched out (Black Bat Orchid aka Bat Flower) and waiting to become Sprite #64.  All the while, cleaning up more files for the coloring books and catching up on coloring all the inked-but-not-finished stash that need to be sent to my cross stitch chart manufacturer.  Busy is good, right? :D

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Garden Sprites Coloring Book in the Works

Thanks to the wonderful response my coloring books have been receiving, I was able to get a new coloring book project rolling with my publisher.  I have received many requests for coloring books of my Sprites, so I'm thrilled to share with you that they are in the works!

I have drawn over 60 Sprites to date.  These books will be a half size (approximately 5.5 x 8 inches) and will have fewer pages than my full-size coloring books.  The Sprites were originally produced as ACEOs, which are, by definition, 2.5 x 3.5 inches.  The digis of them have been offered at 5 x 7 inches to make coloring easier and to give the digi users a little more flexibility in size for crafting with them.  The coloring books will be similar in digi size.   I've been busy redrawing some of my earlier Sprites on my digital tablet for the fist volume of the book.  I could really see the development of the style over 60+ Sprites!  :D

The books will contain 12 Sprites each.  The editor decided that this was a good number for a smaller format book (Too many pages and the book will not quite close right...).  She and I picked out the first set of Sprites to go into the upcoming release.  We've decided on categorizing them and presenting them in non-chronological and non-alphabetical order.  So you will get a nice mix of my Sprites from back when they first debuted in the summer of 2013 on original ACEOs to more recent digi releases.

Cover image courtesy of Ellen Million Graphics

I spent last week working on the digital redrawing of the line art of many of the early Sprites.  The files have now been sent to the publisher and we now wait for the proof from the printer to come in before the final green light.  The project is moving at a faster pace than what I originally anticipated (sometime in 2016), which is great!  I can't wait to give the preview of this book.  ^_^

Speaking of previews, there will be yet another Sprite joining the ever-growing family this Friday (Aug. 7, 2015) at the AuroraWings Showcase Blog.  My designers and I are working on a gallery presentation of an adorable new Sprite.  Here's a tiny sneak peek (There's so much more to this one, but I'm only going to show you a little bit here.  Hehe.)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fundraiser for Numbats

Recently I came across a Facebook post by Project Numbat Incorporated about their fundraiser to raise money for 25 radio-collars for the conservation study to be carried out by the Perth Zoo in Australia.  Their fundraiser page at MyCause.com was urging people to donate for the cause or run our own campaign to raise money to help their effort.  Well, I've been a fan of numbats for a while ever since I was introduced to their cuteness by my fellow Enchanged Visions and Sketch Fest artist, Jenny Heidewald.  So, I thought of a way to run my own little campaign, and Color for a Cause was born.  :D  (I also thought about Color for Collars, Craft for Numbats, etc.)

All funds raised by my campaign will be directed to the one by Project Numbat (Check out this link for all the details of their effort, and scroll to the bottom of the page to see my little contributing campaign.  ^_^  ).  I am giving away this never-before-released "Numbat Fairy" digi (300 dpi, 5" x 6", 12.7 x 15.2 cm, black & white JPG file) to everyone who donates through my campaign.  Any amount you can give is greatly appreciated!!  After I get a notice from the campaign site, I send out the digi as an e-mail attachment.  I am in the US, so depending on what time it is when you make a donation, there may be a time lag before you'll hear from me, but I'll be sure to get to your donation in 24 hours or less.

There's a second part to my fundraiser.  I am hosting a special event contest at the Stamps by AuroraWings Facebook group for my generous donors to show off their projects made with "Numbat Fairy" for a chance to win one of the two prizes to be awarded - the Artist's Choice Award and a random winner.  Both will receive their choice of $30 USD worth of digis OR one (1) coloring book with international postage covered.  The contest album is already set up to accept your entries right here.

I have a fundraiser page with PayPal donation button set up at the AuroraWings.com site for those of you who may not have a credit card.  Donations received through the AW site will be added to my campaign periodically and donation total will be updated.

This fundraiser will run through August 15, 2015.  The Color & Craft Contest will be open for entries through August 29, 2015.  Thank you for your support of the numbats~!!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

Source -  http://wallpaperest.com/captain-america-4th-of-july-wallpaper-401932
Found this awesome wallpaper this morning, and couldn't resist, as I'm a fan of Captain America (both the character and the actor who plays him, Chris Evans).  Anyhow, Independence Day is known to be the day with the highest number of accidents and injuries, so, wishing my peeps a SAFE and Happy Fourth of July!  :D  Hope we all get to enjoy time with family and friends for a spectacular weekend.

Wanted to talk about my Sprites' cross stitch charts that are available from Lena Lawson Needle Arts today.  I am licensed with this company for the Sprites Collection and some of the whimsical animal images - all small size.  I have been with two other cross stitch companies previously for my larger fantasy illustrations.  Suffice to say that cross stitch charts have never been a big chunk of my art business in the past.  So this time around, I went into the agreement rather tentatively to see how the Sprites will perform in this type of product line.


I have to say I'm very pleased with the way these little ones are doing as cross stitch charts.  ^_^  We have been adding steadily to the lineup, and now we are up to 22, including whimsy animals.

They are not the huge, intimidating size as projects, which may very well be the secret to their popularity.  It could also be that the marketing effort by this company is much better than previous companies I dealt with.  Also, I've had samples sent to me by mail, so I can tell you with confidence that these are really nice, high quality, full color charts.  Printing is done with standard industry resolution (no cutting corners there), and the result is clearly printed, easy-to-read, beautiful charts.  Kudos to Lena Lawson Needle Arts!  I'm very happy to be represented among the artists whose lines she carries.

If you enjoy my Sprites and cute little fluffy animals, and you also enjoy making things by hand, you might enjoy cross stitching these characters.  ^_^

Lena Lawson Needle Arts

Friday, June 26, 2015

My First Attempt at Doll Making

Had no idea what I was getting myself into. lol  I've been wanting to make some kind of dolls for some time now.  I think something in me was craving for 3D art after doing a lot of 2D stuff.  I started buying books on doll making on Amazon and started making a project in paper clay earlier this month, but it involves waiting the clay to dry before moving onto the next phase of the project, so I ended up starting on a cloth mermaid doll, with the intention of working on both in alternating phases.  What happened was that my clay doll head being left on the drying rack and my focusing on the cloth doll.  ^^;  I'll eventually finish the clay one.  I promise.

I took some pics along the way since it was slow-going.  Well, it's my first attempt, so I wasn't expecting it to go fast by any means.  ^_^  I've made dresses before, so I knew how the sewing machine worked.  And I have lots of patience, so I figured I could try my hands at this. :D

The books I was using for instruction are by Jan Horrox - "Introduction to Making Cloth Dolls" and "Making Fantasy Cloth Dolls".  The books include patterns at the end which are actual size for the projects demonstrated with text and photos in the books.  The body parts are also interchangeable between projects and books, so you can try different types of heads, hands and feet, and body.  I wanted to make a mermaid - also figured this would be one less limb to deal with as my family quickly pointed out - so I based the tail on Jan's mermaid from the fantasy book and used the body from a fairy from the intro book.

She recommended Pimatex, so I ordered a yard from an eBay seller.  The cloth needed to be dyed some shade of skin color, and the dye mentioned in the book had to be shipped from the UK, so I looked up Rit's web site, found formula for a custom shade, which required 3 bottles of different colors.  The Rit dye turned out to be available widely at stores, but never the complete line in one location...  So I ended up buying their "Camel" (shade of brown/tan) and eyeballed it with a scrap of Pimatex.  First test turned out too dark, so I went easy on the whole yard of fabric.  Amazingly, I got lucky and got what I wanted. :D

Head was harder than I thought. :(  My sewing machine is old ... like over 20 years, and I only have a very limited assortment of 'feet'.  So the process probably was harder than it could have been, but managed to sew up something that looked like a head.  Ears were fun.  And of course, drawing in the face was a fun part although my black Pigma, which shouldn't have reacted to water, actually ran a little bit when I was cleaning the purple 'disappearing ink' lines with a bit of water.  *Note to self: wait for it to air dry and disappear next time.

Then came the body and limbs.  The hands were tedious, trying to make all these tiny curves with a sewing machine.  Also difficult was sewing in curved lines - I was always just slightly 'off' one way or the other.  No two limbs are exactly alike, in my case, which I guess is actually also the case in nature.  ^^;  At least, the hands with webbed fingers did not require my to turn the fingers one by one, which looks like a total pain in the rear...

I did my mermaid's bust differently than the book, by the way.  I wanted her to actually have breasts, so I altered the instruction on one of the fairies that wore a bustier.  Instead of using print fabric, I just used the skin color to make the cups.  The tail was fun to make.  Actually, the whole thing seemed less daunting once the hands and arms were done.

Gave her a bra top, then beads and sequins all over.  I like this kind of work.  Tedious yet simple, so mind is free to wander off... ahem, ponder on all important things.  lol

Did some more painting with acrylics on her shoulders and along the spine.

Gave her pearl earrings. :)  The plastic bag behind her head is the dyed Tibetan lamb's wool I purchase from another seller on eBay.  It said "remnants" on the listing, but I got a lot of this stuff for as little as I paid.  I'll be going back to this seller for more hair in my future project, no doubt.

Anyhow, I made a mistake of attaching the tail to the body before attaching the arms to the body like the book instructed.  Getting disorganized by combining parts from two different dolls in two different books...  Nothing major.  Just a lot of things that get in the way of the thread when you're trying to attach the head to the neck between the limbs (BTW, I think I will shorten her arms' pattern in my future dolls... they're disproportionately long for my taste.) and all the beads and sequins on the tail.  ^^;

The hair was a bit of a mystery to me at first.  In the books, Jan used yarns, strips of cloths, etc.  And she also used lamb's wool, but attached the sheet straight onto the head.  I wanted to try the method shown by the lady I bought the hair from (She makes beautifully intricate polymer dolls and keeps a detailed blog with lots of pics.  Totally inspiring!).  She cuts the locks in small segments and glues them in one small section at a time.  First, I had to check if this was feasible with cloth head.  So I did a test attachment on a scrap of Pimatex.  It worked really well.  So I started out at the nape of the head, gluing the segment of hair one small bit at a time.  The Fabri-Tac glue is reasonably easy to work with.  It has a consistency, for a lack of better word, of nasal mucus, quite a bit stickier, of course, but if you get a little on your finger, you can just roll the glue into a little ball and pling!  lol

The mermaid's hair took me hours.  And the lamb's wool kept shedding even from just handling the remnant sheets.  This was, by far, the messiest stage of this project.  In the end, my mermaid ended up with more of a Troll  look (Remember these pudgy guys?) than what I originally envisioned for her, I like her wild fluffy hair just as much.  ^_^

Source http://kleberly.com/309685-troll-doll.html

I hope to take her to the park or a botanical garden one of these days and do a nice photo shoot.  This pic was taken mid day on a super hot day.  We're in the Wisteria vines for the dappled sun.

I don't live near a beach, so sea and sand are not easy to access for a photo shoot.  This mermaid will have to live in the trees for a while.  I decided to name her Adriana.

Here's the thing.  With this many parts and processes involved, there's bound to be mistakes and mishaps.  Sure enough, once everything settled, although I thought I was being very careful when attaching the body to the tail, she doesn't quite sit straight.  T_T  She kind of requires a wedge to support from both sides at the hips in order to be securely seated (Most likely her butt is not flat enough!).  I thought about what to do, and an idea came to me when I was watering my garden this morning.  I'm going to make her a swing so she can be properly balanced and also be displayed.  :D   Thinking I'll make her swing out of some natural fiber, crochet an open half-pod like swing and decorate it with shells and cheese cloth.  Sounds like a plan to me.

I already have a few doll ideas for the near future.  This was a lot of fun for me, so hopefully, I get better at it with each attempt, and learn even more about doll making.  ^_^

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Christmas in July

I can't believe this is already the 3rd annual "Christmas in July" shopping spree giveaway! *wow*  Since I opened my Etsy shop in late November of 2012, every summer, I've offered this $50 shopping spree giveaway.  I write the username of the customers who place an order on small strips of paper and place them in a jar every day during the campaign period.  It's always fun to be the bearer of the good news to one surprised customer at the end of the giveaway.

The first "Christmas in July" happened back in 2013.  I was just beginning to add digital stamp listings at the time, so the big win went to a customer who was collecting my art as prints.  The second year (last year) in 2014, I don't remember who the winner was (mainly because I was so busy with my digi business... and I had yet to become accustomed to the routine of it all), but I remember how full the same glass vase I used in 2013 was.  So many names were in there!  I was having to push down to keep them all in there.

This summer, I'm expanding this special event - one winner at AW Etsy shop and another winner at the digi shop at AW site - to have two winners who will win $50 shopping spree each.  It'll be a lot of fun, and I'm sure it will be two full vases.  ^_^

If you're a fan of my art, coloring book enthusiast, or digi enthusiast, any and all order through July 26 will earn an entry into the random drawing automatically.  You can multiply your entries simply by leaving reviews/feedback on your Etsy purchases during the same period.  Since I don't have the feedback feature at the AW site shop, entry there will be based specifically by orders.

Oh, and... AW Etsy now accepts Etsy Gift Cards and a bunch of other payment methods, including PayPal. Now it's easier than ever to give a gift of AuroraWings digis to your favorite crafter!!

 www.AuroraWings.Etsy.com                  www.AuroraWings.com

Friday, May 29, 2015

Take a Peek

It's been a hectic month!  And it's already at the end.  Started out strong, then got sick with flu, then was swamped with special events (award ceremonies, extra concerts, Baccalaureate, and graduation) for Jr., and then trying to schedule and host a special celebration event on Facebook for the digi business.  *pants*  That was a pretty full month!

Still playing catch-up with my drawing, while taking care of the garden - Spring is always busy as weeding and planting take a lot of time from my schedule.  Until the plants and yard are all set and can be on an auto-pilot mode, things are hectic.  I don't like working in a piece meal fashion with a couple hours here, run some errands, then go back for another hour, etc.  My preference is getting a drawing done in one big stretch and be done with it.  This approach works wonderfully when you're single or living by yourself, but as soon as you have a family and there are other people around (be it in an office situation or during summer or long vacation so kids are home), productivity generally goes down, and it's simply impossible to get it done this way.

I like the saying, "When there's a will, there's a way".  I find much truth in that.  These days, I just have to get it done with the attitude of "whatever it takes".  ^^;  Not getting set in ways helps.  Being flexible (in mind and body) is healthy.   Sometimes I doodle while I'm watching TV with family, and good ideas flow.  (Although there are times I just have to be at the desk to get things done.)  Sometimes I think about the next Sprites or fantasy art ideas while working in the garden - multi-task!   I'm more of a single-track mind and generally suck at multi-tasking (can't even comfortably drink water and drive, so wouldn't dream of talking on the phone and driving ).

Some of the recent sketches.  The girl with pigtails with a bunch of kitties has already been made into a digi last week.  Now deciding on which one to ink next for the next new release.  ^_^

"Can I Keep Them"(aka "Lori, the Cat Lady in Training") was a gift-with-purchase digi.
Will not be added to the listing at the shops for a while.
I'm trying to add a designer to my AuroraWings Showcase Design Team.  Hoping to find a fantastic new member by the middle of next month, but this is yet another task that's been added onto my plate. Oh, and I have two FB contests ending on Sunday to finish up the month with a bang. :D

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lady Oscar Book

I'm so excited to be able to talk about what I previously referred to as "the Italian Project" (blog post March 10, 2015).  Call me superstitious, but I've had an exciting fantasy book project by major publisher go down the drain after all images had been submitted by all contributing artists, and ever since that happened, I've kind of developed the cynical, "I'll believe it when I see it" attitude (You know, for someone who tries to be a subscriber of the Law of Abundance/Attraction, this is really not what it's all about. lol).  So I'm extra psyched that this once came into being.

This Italian-language publication by award-winning journalist, Valeria Arnaldi, is called "Lady Oscar".  For those of you who are not familiar with the Japanese manga, and its anime adaptation that came later, it was originally called Berusaiyu no Bara (ベルサイユのばら) in Japanese, or The Rose of Versailles in English, by a famous mangaka Riyoko Ikeda, and the manga started in1972 with anime adaptation starting in 1979.  *Read the Wiki for more info right here for plot and other info.  It really was ahead of its time in so many ways, and was enormously popular in Japan and beyond.  Her book is an analytical look at this manga/anime - the main character of Oscar in particular - from history to social impact, and includes some artwork from various artists from around the world.

The fans of the anime series will recognize the cover art immediately as the vignette from the beginning of the opening theme.

I was fortunate to receive an e-mail from Valeria ealier this year about using my Marie Antoinette illustrations.  Imagine my delight as I read her e-mail.  After all, both the manga series and the anime series were one of my favorites from childhood.  I definitely had a doodle phase where every hair looked like Oscar's and every rose looked like Ikeda-sensei's. lol  It's amazing for me to see my childhood joy of drawing come full circle after so many years and to let me come across a fantastic tribute opportunity such as this one!  It's all the more amazing that art is my living now despite years of discouragement and derailment from friends and relatives about becoming a 'starving artist' (Somehow in their minds, these two words were inseparable and can only co-exist within this phrase.  Just horrible...  ^^;  )

One of my Marie illustrations.  This one obviously pokes fun at the "Let them eat cake" quote that historians say was wrongly attributed to her.  But oh, how fun to play with it anyway!

I can't wait to see the book in the mail.  Valeria is kindly mailing all included artists a copy of her book, and I'm so excited! :D  I don't speak or read Italian, but I'm sure I'll enjoy looking through the book.  So cool!

On another front, one of my favorite local shops downtown contacted me about carrying my coloring books yesterday.  We'll be figuring out the details in coming weeks, and I'm so happy about this, too.  There are lots of book stores and gift shops, but this one is really special.  I've been shopping there since before I got married to my husband even!  The place is stuffed full of all the cool, beautiful, awesome, wonderful things in gifts, music, art, books, etc.  Our most recent purchase from there was a beautiful Medicine Buddha statuette.  I feel I'm getting to work with people and companies that I love and enjoy working with more and more these days.  I think we all have the tendency of making mistakes when we first start out in art, or in any field for that matter, by jumping onto the first offers that come along.  I've had my share of regrettably bad decisions over the years, but learned from these to better sniff out what I really like from those I don't care much about.  One thing that has become much easier to do is the act of saying 'no' to things I don't like or wish to be a part of, and it's great.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Peony Pyrography Project Finished

I was finally able to take some pictures of this wood burn project (7.5 x 9.5 inches) this afternoon when we had a nice break from the rain.  The sky cleared up, the sun came out, and I was able to make use of nice indirect sunlight.  ^_^

Since the humidity was high all day due to rain showers since last night, I haven't had a chance to put clear matte acrylic coats on this wood yet, but the burning and tinting are done.  It's a nice little feng shui decoration for the wall as peony signifies beauty and love.  And this is an image of a "pair" of blooms.

Here's a close-up of the shading and coloring.  I mix my own colors out of paint that come out of tubes.  The paint was thinned a lot with water, very much like how I normally paint with watercolor on paper.  But I liked the way the basswood just drinks it all up very quickly.  It's probably a good idea for me to let the wood dry out completely by leaving this alone for a few days.  Western Colorado is usually very arid with less than 10% humidity for average, but because of the showers, the humidity is much higher at the moment.

This wood piece had pretty routed edges, and I just couldn't resist expanding the image past the surface area onto the edge - but only on the right side of the image.  ^_^

I had so much fun with this project.  I like working with wood, and I most definitely like the smell of burning wood.  I also love drawing, so I feel it's only natural that I enjoy wood burning so much. :D  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Peony Pyrography Project Part 2

WIP 4 - burning complete
This project went faster than I expected.  :D  I'm finished with the wood burning of this 7.5 x 9.5 inch panel.  Between going to the store and running other errands after writing today's earlier post, I was able to finish shading the petals of the flower #2 (on the right) and shade the leaves as well.

WIP 3 - flower #2 (on the right) finished
I mulled over different options for the shading of the leaves, and finally decided to do crosshatching.   I will be giving the flowers transparent tint tomorrow, so hopefully, the leaves will be dark enough for now.

The leaves kind of 'wrap' over the edge to the right.  It was tricky to burn these lines since the surface is curved. ^^;  Something different and fun.

I'm done for the day.  I'll get my watercolor out tomorrow and give transparent color - hoping for red and pink - to the blooms.  ^_^  And once that's done, I'll take better pics during daylight hours in a brighter room.

UPDATE (April 24, 2015) - Finished giving the two blooms tints of watercolor.  I like the way it came out.  This is just a quick snapshot in poor light as it is past 6:30 pm and sun is way low in the western sky.  I'll take a better pic during the mid day in indirect sunlight (That is... if we don't get hit by a storm tomorrow. ^^;   *fingers crossed* )  This is only my second wood burn project and the first one that I colored.  I think it's fun to add color, although I love the look of burned lines on wood the way it is very much.  I've worked some more on the colors after I took this photo, so the final image is  going to be a little different.  ^_^   As an Asian, I grew up looking at drawings of peonies and chrysanthemums.  So this piece feels a little nostalgic - strangely enough, considering I just finished it.

WIP 5 - with watercolor tint on the blooms

Peony Wood Burn Project

When I went supply shopping the other day after finishing the rooster project, I needed to get me a can of clear matte acrylic finish to put on my first project.  I also went looking for additional points for my Versa Tool since I really wanted the flow point in a smaller size.  The one that came with my Versa Tool is nice, but a little too thick for my drawing style.  ^^;  The local shop had an assorted pack of 5 additional points, and luckily for me, one of which was the 'mini flow point'.  *score*  Even though I ended up with four extra points that I didn't have immediate need for (or duplicates), it was still a good deal.   I was able to finish the rooster project and wood burn my signature and year on the back with the new mini flow point.  *happy*

Now I'm working on the second wood burn project.  This time, it's a nice rectangle piece of basswood with beveled edges.  Main burning surface measuring 7.5 x 9.5 inches (I'm guessing that the back side measurement would be 8 x 10.).  I originally sketched out a design on a piece of scrap paper.  Realized it was a tad too big for the project piece, so I scanned the image and reduced the size by 10%.  Then really needed a carbon paper - the good old-fashioned carbon paper that used to be used copies of receipts and whatnot.  I had to do a shopping search online and found out they sold it at nearby Office Max.  Off I went.  I was looking in the regular office supply zone where they sell different kinds of paper.  Finally I had to ask for help of a store associate.  ^^;  He took me to the far wall past computers and printers where they actually had typewriters in stock! I couldn't help but blurt out, "Oh, wow!  Didn't know you guys still sold these things.  Now it makes perfect sense that you'd carry carbon paper right here.".  The guy told me they sell almost one a day!  Who knew?

With the carbon paper in place, I was able to trace my sketch onto the piece of wood without making a huge mess with graphite.  No smudging, and it didn't require excessive pencil pressure, either.  *nice*

It was getting kind of late, but I went ahead and used my new 'mini flow point' to do the outline.  This baby is so smooth.  It was fun to burn the outline. :D  The tiny details in the center of the flowers were burned with a 'mini universal tip'.

Replaced the tip to the regular universal tip to do the shading of the petals with stippling technique.  ^_^  I'm liking the way this is turning out so far. :D  After I write up this post (thus have a break), I'll get back to the flower to the right, and off to do the leaves.  Haven't decided how I'll shade the leaves yet, but I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to think about it as I work on the second flower's shading.  Will be back with more WIP shots either later today or tomorrow.

Oh, and while I was shopping for the can of clear acrylic and a set of burner points, I did pick up a wooden trinket box. :D  It was ridiculously inexpensive, but I saw potential in the shape.  Yes, lots of potential! :D

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rooster Pyrography Project

I'm so glad that I was able to get back to this project that I started back in January and finish it.  Always hate having unfinished projects laying around.  I tend to like getting things done in one sitting straight.  I also tend to lose track of time and get so into what I'm doing that I forget to eat and the only break I take is for nature calls. LOL  But larger projects, and some techniques like stippling, require more time, and I will have to spread these projects over days or weeks, and it is when things have to be spread over a longer span of time when I risk failing to complete them.  Everybody knows how life has a way of getting in the way of things we want to accomplish.  Cats make a mess, house needs cleaning, meals need cooking, etc.  Sometimes I miss being single and carefree.  Stay up all night long to finish up something in the heat of the moment, enjoying the flow.  Art process is way more fun when you don't have to be disturbed with stuff like family member's needs and tedious everyday routine of being human. XD

So I took a day off from the art stuff I do for money and did something that was more fun for me.  It's the all important 'me' time!  Basically, this project sat with just the background left.  I wanted to darken the negative space with a little more gradation, but alas, my skill as a pyrography newbie was not up to the task. ^^;  I was using the 'shading tool', which I wasn't too crazy about, even after hours of using it.  I need to go shopping at the arts & crafts supply store and see if they have some more tips that I can add to my set.

Although I'm not 100% happy with the way the dark part turned out, I'm happy with my first effort at wood burning.  It was FUN!  And I got to make a little chicken art! :D  I'm a crazy chicken lady, and I needed something to put on my wall that shows my love for these birds.  Now I got one.

I think I'll put a clear matte finish on this piece of basswood, and then put a hanging hardware on the back and call it finished. ^_^  Ahhh, what a good feeling to see a project through.

I still have three more pieces of wood that I can burn from my Christmas present stash.  Next, I'd like to do something with spot color.  Thinking maybe an image of peony blooms with watercolor shading... or something with fantasy theme.

I have so many projects that I want to get into this year.  More pyrography for sure.  Also doll making.  And I definitely want to make time to work on the book illustrations that I've been sitting on for a few years.  I hope that the family life settles down enough to allow me to really get into all these things.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Early Birthday Surprise

Although I'm getting up there in my age, I still like birthday celebrations.  It's the child-like parts (those who know me very well might argue it's 'childish' rather than 'child-like' in this case...) of me who still feel excited about a birthday approaching and feel delighted if someone remembers it.  And I'd say that in any creative line of work, staying child-like is a vital character of a creative mind.  You have to be able to feel the wonder in the ordinary and appreciate things with fresh perspective.  This is how I'll always justify my 'childish'... ahem, 'child-like' qualities.

I LOVE getting cards from designers and crafters from all over the world.  I LOVE stuff coming through the snail mail - well, maybe except for the bills.  I like shopping online.  I like seeing the mail man/woman come up the walkway to my mailbox.  I like seeing the dark brown UPS truck pull up in front of my house.  You get the picture.

The other day, I received a spectacular gift from my dear friend, Lorraine, in England.  And yes, the packages and envelopes with the Queen's stamps on, which travel across the pond, just seem extra special.  It's not every day that I get international mail (especially with postage being so prohibitively expensive).  She kindly let me know that a package was on the way without divulging the content.  Unfortunately, contrary to the estimated date of delivery as predicted by the Royal Mail employee, the package was taking its dear time once it was in the hands of the US Postal Service.  ^^;  I usually have lots of nice things to say about USPS, believe it or not, and I'm always nice to USPS people.  But this package was taking so long that we were both starting to worry. LOL

I'm glad to tell you that it eventually found its way safely to my mailbox.  The contents were so carefully, thoughtfully, and thoroughly wrapped in multiple layers of bubble wrap with a note reminding me to be careful while opening it.  I sat down on the floor so I won't drop it while unwrapping the bubble wrap. :D  And I saw this amazing beauty appear!!!  It took my breath away.

I recognized the image immediately as my "Winter Lullaby", and couldn't believe how unique and beautiful this wood sculpture was.  Lorraine had asked her husband to make this for me for my birthday. :D
It requires quite an artistic eye and planning (if not an outright extraordinary prescience) to transform a 2-dimensional illustration (a very loose one at that) into a 3-D wood sculpture, cut from a single piece of wood!  I sat there and admired it in my hands for who knows how long, admiring, trying to figure out how each elements were kept intact while allowing for lines and definition with cuts.  Amazing! :D

And since I'm always the one cleaning after the cats, and I have declared in the past, "This is why we can't have nice things - we have cats!", I had but one place of honor to put this beauty - in my curio, which was a birthday present many years ago from my hubby.  Protection from dust and elements, definitely, but also from curious and mischievous cats! :D  

Here's a quick snap shot I took while taking a break to open the package when it first arrived. :D  Gives you a rough idea of the size, standing next to a 6x6 handmade card by Lorraine, which also came in the package. ^_^

So this happy girl is starting the birthday celebration early (and I milk it all the way through to Mother's Day, which, in the US, is the second Sunday of May).  Teehee~!  With my child soon graduating from high school, the ridiculously early morning (5:45 am Mon through Fri) will be over.  Weather is steadily warming up.  Things are blooming (and Flonase is now available without prescription lol).  Yep, there's a lot to be thankful and happy for.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Another Celebration at Stamps by AuroraWings FB Group

I'll be hosting another celebration tomorrow! :D  This time, we are celebrating the 2,250 members milestone.  We just had a party when we hit 2,000 back in February, but I enjoy these events.  And members always seem to have fun. :D

Since Sunday is Easter, this celebration will be just Friday and Saturday, with the color contest running through next week to give everyone some time to play.  Other than that, it's pretty much the same format as all the parties I've hosted online in the past.  Fun and games with prizes and a freebie.  Speaking of a freebie, I just finished it about an hour ago.  ^^;  Talk about cutting it close!  Not my idea.  It's just that spring is a busy time with cleaning, garden tending, etc.  At least, Jr. is still off from school for spring break, so I can sleep a tiny bit longer than usual in the morning, and the household gets to experience a little less stress.  I'll be glad when school gets out for summer.

Back to the topic of the celebration tomorrow.  We'll be kicking off the weekend event with a new release showcase over at the AW Showcase Blog.  I've got a really well-organized ladies over at the Showcase, so it's always a pleasure.  Everything is all set and ready to go as I write. :D *awesome*

Then I'll be posting games/contests where different prizes will be offered.  I'll probably have more long-duration contests than short-duration ones this time to keep it easier for me.  It's crazy to have to scroll down so many comments, counting the total entries and then locating the random winner(s).  ^^;

I'll be finishing a brand new digi here tonight as a special 'free gift with purchase' offer during the weekend.  This is separate from the freebie digi I'll be giving out regardless of whether or not the members want to participate in the coloring contest.  As I mentioned earlier, this one is finished and ready. :D

There are lots of things I'll have to keep track of - like activating the new release at the shops and making sure the blog is live and links actually work. I've done this many times since last year, but it's always a little hurried and slightly stressful, unfortunately. LOL

I hope to see lots people there popping in and out at the FB group this weekend (April 3 & 4, 2015).  If you're not a member yet, be sure to request to join and either I or a member of the admins will approve your request in a timely manner.  The freebie will be only available at the group, so this is crucial. ;)

I'm off to finish the new Sprite!  

Friday, March 27, 2015

Love Sayings

I've previously had three fantasy pieces published in the same author's book titled "Cat Sayings".  Bradford G. Wheler has just published a new book in the series "Love Sayings: wit & wisdom of romance, courtship, and marriage" from BookCollectives.com (Also available on Amazon.com.) The books in his Sayings series have quotes by the famous, along with various artwork from artists from all over the world.

In the previous "Cat Sayings" book, I had some of my fellow Enchanted Visions artist buddies along for the ride, and it was fun.  ^_^  This time, though, I don't know the other 47 artists whose work appear in the book personally.  Still, it's always fun to see your work in a publication.

This illustration (the version in the book is rather severely cropped to appear in a landscape orientation) was done long before I started my fantasy pieces in current style.  One of my early all-digital illustration in a more painting-like style with no "lines".  Always fun to experiment and do different things, though.

This image will be also coming out later this year as a book cover if all goes well.  I hope to get a copy directly from the author when it does. ^_^  Also if all goes well, I should have some more of my illustrations published in a book in Europe later this year. *fingers crossed*  I hope to be able to write a lot more about that soon, also.