Digital · Illustration

They just can’t help themselves

Cookieholics Support Group

“Me so conflicted. Me not even *want* cookies but me can’t stop.”

Lifted from my Instagram page

Making-of video link

While I love the “export video” feature built into ProCreate, the crashing bugginess of the app almost makes it unusable for me. I don’t know if its because I’m using an older iPad, but a few years ago, this was new, and the app still crashed, so who knows. Anyway, a crash is how I explain the sudden appearance of vacant-eyed Santa Clause about 20 seconds into the video.

Digital · Illustration

Kicking off the 2018 doodles

Any type of artist will run into those always-fun creative blocks. I can’t say how many times I’ve just sat in front of a blank piece of paper, knowing that I *want* to draw, but just wondering *what* to should draw. While I may not know how to draw what I want, there are literally no rules, and that can be paralyzing. We can draw WHATEVER WE WANT, and yet, we sit there playing with the corners of the sketchbook page waiting for some kind of inspiration to strike.

To that end, I’ve joined up with a few daily drawing challenges on Instagram. Challenge is kind of a misleading word, since they aren’t contests, but it is a challenge in the sense that it pushes you to make time to do something every day. In October, the drawing challenges are all centered around Halloween, of course, so you have Inktober, which is awesome, and Drawtober, and Folktober, etc, etc. Draw Dinovember is a thing, too. I like the list based on Tim Burton movies called Decemburton, which is hosted by Mark Melton. Them, at different times throughout the year an “Art It Up With Friends” challenge pops up.

Some of the lists are better than others, but what I really enjoy is combining a couple of the keywords from concurrent lists to see what I can come up with. Not all of the resulting doodles are winners, of course, but I’ve found this little exercise to be a great way to get the creative side of my brain to wake up. Sure, you can draw a coffin, but if the second keyword is “polar bear,” what are you going to do? The juices start flowing.

Anyway, I’m going to start posting the results of the more fun challenges on here, and kicking off 2018 is the January Blues Drawing Challenge hosted by Angela Gooliaff in Vancouver. Designed to kick artists out of the January funk, these keywords are all upbeat, and just for kicks, she included an emotion that can help the creative process.

This image below wasn’t my first attempt, but since my iPad decided to start working again in December, I wanted to use the ProCreate app to work in color, so I’m relearning that.

Anyway, here’s what I ended up with:

And, just because I can, I exported the video out of ProCreate to really highlight all the dumb mistakes I made. Like even though I knew what the background was going to be, I didn’t bother drawing it until the end, then having to fix the little guy so he fit into the scene. You know, the no-brainers.

Scared Blueberry from aaron_T on Vimeo.

Anyway, I encourage people all the time to get into these Instagram challenges if they say “I like to draw, I just never know what to draw!”, so if that sounds like you, just poke around Instagram and it won’t take long to find more keyword lists than you know what to do with!

Life · Observations

2017: A Retrospective

So, 2017…glad it’s over.

Depending on what side of the US political fence you sit, it was the best year ever or the absolute worst. Either way, it’s been exhausting. Polarizing.

Weinstein and the long overdue fallout.

Tornadoes. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

The Las Vegas shooting. The Egyptian mosque shooting. The Texas church shooting. The shootings. Always more shootings.

California on fire, again. Or is it still?

The birth of Fidget Spinners. The death of Net Nuetrality.

Friends were diagnosed with cancer. Or were declared to be in remission.

Friends lost jobs, some found new ones. Plans were rearranged.

Friends got engaged, got pregnant, got divorced.

Here at home, we lost two dogs to illnesses, four months apart.

We decided to keep the kitten who showed up on our doorstep in November. Against our better judgement.

Personally, 2017 was a year of introspection, although that isn’t really the right word. Probably not. Self-reflection is probably more accurate.

With so much going on “out there” out of control, it’s easy to get caught up in it. Show me one time that actually helps things, yet we still do it. I know it never helps me handle it. Much more effective for me is to just work on what I do with the information. Focus my attention and mental energy on what’s really important and the people I care about.

Late this year, I decided to make a conscious effort to do more of the things I enjoy, which sounds stupid, but I tend to be the first to say “I can’t [insert activity], because I have to [insert lame reason].” Little things, like having a beer with coworkers, carving out time to take a walk or read a book or work on a drawing, tended to take a back seat to other more responsible, grown up activities.

“I can’t hang out because the dog and cats have to eat at exactly five PM.”

“I can’t play disc golf on Saturday because I have freelance work due Monday.”

“I can’t go to Cars & Coffee because I have to clean the garage.”

This year I’ve worked on being more intentional about taking time for myself. Not to get away from others or shirk responsibility, but to be able to be more present and clear-headed when I get back to them. Doing things I enjoy makes me a happier person, which translates to being a better person, which, in turn, makes me a better friend, husband, employee. Shocking that we’re surprised that works.

By New Years’ I’ll have finished the third book I’ve read this year. Not that any of the three are difficult reads, but considering years have gone by where I haven’t read more than a few pages it’s a start. All three have been in the self-improvement genre though, so that’s new.

With any luck, I’ll be able to continue this trend in 2018. The ever-growing reading list will get tackled, read books will be shared.

I’ll write more, draw, paint and weld more. Hang out more. Care more.

Be more involved in things that matter and work to shun the things that don’t.

I guess luck has nothing to do with it. Maybe I should say that 2018 will be a year of doing things intentionally. More of the things that matter or that are good for me, less of the opposite. Why does that end up being so difficult?

Either way, good riddance 2017.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.