Waffles = yummy, Waffling, er, not so much

Heya folks! Just a little follow up to yesterday’s musings regarding writing vs. drawing. I spent much of my work day ruminating about how I would go about doing a graphic novel and why I’d want to. The idea is certainly appealing but it would mean literally starting over. I’d have to condense all of my first novel into visual format first, before even beginning to carry on with the story.  That alone was a bit of a deterrent.

Then I considered WHY I’m suddenly taken with this idea of changing course. Firstly, I tend to rely on inspiration to keep me going (I know, not pro). Secondly, lackluster response to the first book kind of dampened my motivation, making me more susceptible to other whims.

I basically got uninspired and well, bored. Failing to see this for what it was, I started looking for other things to get the juices going. Watching other artists working on comic projects got me interested in revisiting the old graphic novel idea. Sounds like a great idea but would likely only result in me getting burned out down the road.

The truth is that one of the main reasons my first book is not garnering much attention is that it’s only part one of a series. Today’s binge-mentality keeps folks from investing in series titles until at least several books are available. Fair enough. I know that I’ve taken too long to get the second one out. Can’t change that now. But I CAN keep going and maybe, just maybe, once book two is done interest will pick up. Of course, one hopes that my writing will improve as well.

A perfectly timed post by fellow blogger Christian Mihai dealing with this very topic of persistence reinforced my determination to stay the course and continue writing. There are at least a handful of people waiting so see how Wyrmweaver continues and I owe it to them to carry on. So, after months of drought I opened Scrivener tonight and cranked out a scene. Only 600 words or so but compared to zero I’ll take it.

I do plan to continue doing art as well. There are the coloring book and ACEO collection to finish, as well as some ideas for prints to sell online. Just bought that new desk and art tools. Can’t just let them gather dust. 😀

So, in closing for today, I think the gloom and doubt is starting to pass. I’m feeling a lot more positive about the future. The adventures of Ryan, Lanis, and Ericka will continue. No going backwards. Take care everyone. Thanks for your support. It really does help.

Out!

 

 

New inking tools and doing some thinking

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Heya folks. Hope everyone had a wonderful week. I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather. Left arm still achey and numb but it’s better than earlier in the week. Took a break from digital art for a few days to give it a rest.

In the meantime, I got some new inking nibs to play with. These are analog equivalents to the tools I use in Clip Studio Paint so I’m curious to see how they work. It’s been a few years since I worked with dip pens. They’re messy but can create some wonderful lines once you get used to them.

I also grabbed some ink for my Rapidograph pens, which have sat unused in my art box for almost a decade. I was sure that I cleaned them before storing them but it took a lot of effort to get the .30 and .35 working again. I think the .50 is a lost cause. The nib is slightly bent and ink just won’t flow evenly through it. Not even going to try with the .25 as it’s just too small.

I’ve done a little practice (mostly just exercises to get a feel for the various tips). I’m not quite ready to risk a real drawing with them just yet. Soon though.

I’ve been giving some thought to how best to invest my time (always a contentious point for me). It might just be because I’ve been working with the old tools again, but I find myself reconsidering my decision to avoid working on comics, specifically the Wyrmweaver graphic novel. I realize that it would be a huge amount of work, but to be honest, so is writing a novel. Frankly, I think my writing works better with art to support it. Of course, that’s largely because I’m still very much a novice writer, something that only study, practice, and feedback will remedy. And that, of course, takes time… time that I don’t have a lot of lately.

So yeah, lots on my mind. Admittedly, debating all the directions I could go is really keeping me from moving. I thought I had a clear goal with the novel series but, for whatever reason, I’ve been having a lot of doubts lately. I was hoping that writing these thoughts out would help. No such luck. It’s late and I should be in bed. Work in the morning, which is a whole issue unto itself. But money being a necessity, if a huge source of stress, the less-than-fulfilling day job isn’t going anywhere. Better days ahead, I hope.

Take care everyone.

Adventures in inking (and I’ve the wounds to prove it)

 

Ericka cb rev 2

Heya folks.  Just wanted to post a little update on the revised Ericka sketch. Not sure what to do with the background yet. Going to let that stew on the back burner for awhile.

My intention had been to ink this traditionally and do a video following the process. I actually did record footage only to realize later that a lot of it was not really usable. I’m not used to working with a camera over my head so, even thought I tested it beforehand, the positioning was not ideal and I was either blocking the work with my head or moving the paper off camera. Oh well. As it turned out, I wasn’t really all that happy with the inks anyway and ended up scanning the piece into CSP to redo it, intending to make a vlog about that instead.

Unfortunately, I failed to record the whole process, so I just decided to toss it and try again later. Yeah, I kinda fail at the YouTube thing. Starting to wonder if it’s worth the effort and time. It’s a lot of work to capture and edit the footage. Time that could be spent doing more writing or drawing.

That kinda brings me to my other stressor this week. For the past year or so I’ve had intermittent problems with pain and numbness in my left arm and hand. I thought it was tendinitis from a workout injury. Apparently not. All the symptoms point to an ulnar nerve issue most likely caused by my little Cintiq here. Yeah, my favorite digital drawing tool is tearing up my arm. More specifically, it’s the way I lean on the table in order to use the express keys on the side of the tablet. The 12WX is not adjustable like the larger tablets. It’s either flat on the table or up on the fixed stand (which is how I use it). This forces me to bend over slightly which puts stress on my shoulders. To compensate, I rest my arm on the table edge, thus putting pressure on the nerve along the bottom of my arm. Today at work I could barely make a fist with that hand. Even now, my fingers are a bit numb.

So it may be time to look at getting a larger tablet that can be tilted up in a more ergonomic fashion. Of course, they’re a bit on the salty side so raising the funds isn’t going to be easy. As I mentioned in another post, I am looking at Patreon as an option. Still struggling with the rewards. I don’t want to promise too much but it needs to be worth people’s while. Also trying to get back to freelancing, although I may have to use the old Intuos tablet for digital work. Ugh.

Anyway, that’s enough whining. If anyone wants to help, I’m open for commission work. My gallery link is here. Share away! 😛 Also, don’t forget that Wyrmweaver, Black Clouds is available on Amazon both in ebook and print. Links on to the right. Any sales will help. And I promise that Book Two IS coming.

Thanks so much for your support. The likes are greatly appreciated. Take care and I’ll see ya next post.

Studio Minimized/Doing some sketching

Heya folks! In keeping with my new minimizing plan, I gave the studio a work over, narrowing things down to just the essentials. Still working on organizing a few things but overall it feels better to me. This side is for art and video work. Off camera is the desk with my macbook for writing. Unfortunately, my PC is doubling as the workstation and my gaming machine, which can be a source of distraction. Working on a solution for that once the budget allows.

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Naturally, once I got everything set up I had to see how it felt so I broke out the sketchbook and did a variation on an Ericka illustration for the coloring book. I’m a bit rusty and did WAY too much erasing but I like this version.

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Unfortunately I didn’t have the camera going while working since I didn’t really plan on doing it. Oh, well. I’ll make a vid of the inking process.

Take care! See ya next time!

Mini-flood and tossing out more stuff

Heya folks! Not sure what it is about this apartment and water but I had yet ANOTHER minor flood this week. Water heater this time but, thankfully, not as bad as the sink explosion a few months ago. The sad thing is that the plumbing is all scheduled to be redone in the next few weeks. It just couldn’t wait. So now the place smells like musty socks again (wet carpet is so… yuck.) This time the TV stand was the only real casualty, although a few other things got damp.

2017! Why you hate me so?!

On the bright side, it prompted me to do another round of minimizing. I’ve decided to focus on three primary areas in my life: creative (art and writing), my health (getting back to running), and getting my finances back in order and staying within my means. As such, anything in the apartment that doesn’t directly or indirectly support those goals is gone! Pitched some superfluous furniture (dresser and dining room table) today. Posting the sofa and TV for sale tomorrow. After that I’ll take another pass at the smaller stuff. It’s getting kinda bare in here but I can honestly say that what little remains is useful. Stinky carpet aside, it’s feeling easier to breathe in here. I hope it helps on the creative front.

Had someone randomly come up and ask to buy my book at work the other day. It’s amazing how just one person reading and engaging me about the story has reignited my passion to write. With all the life distractions and my tendency for depressive bouts, I’d lost a lot of creative energy. I know that it’s only a temporary jolt but I’m hoping that after this little jump start the engine will keep running.

Finally picked up a new drafting table and got a better camera mount so I’ve no excuses not to do some traditional art vids for YouTube. Also been working on ideas for a Patreon page. I’ve been hesitant to do it since I feel awkward about taking donations but it might help me get back on a regular schedule. Seems that my self-motivation is lacking and I could use a dose of accountability.

Well, it’s time for bed. I wish it was warm enough to crack a window open. Bleh. Take care, everyone! Over and out. o7

Transgender Day of Visibility

Heya folks! Happy Transgender Day of Visibility!

For myself, this day always sparks a degree of conflicted feelings. I wrote about my position on this in a post last June. Check that out if you’d like to know a bit more about me. In short, I don’t like to make a fuss about being trans, aside from the occasional political remarks. I prefer people to just take me as I am.

But the TDOV is a reminder that sometimes we have to stand up and show people that we do exist and that our struggles are real, even if you don’t see them everyday. The theme this year is Resistance, and it’s not hard to see why. This election cycle has seen a huge uprising by many conservatives who feel disenfranchised and forgotten. Taking advantage of this movement, many right wing activists have moved into positions of power, using their influence to impose their extreme ideology on a fractured and vulnerable citizenry.

Many have stood up to oppose this new agenda. Rallies, fundraisers, and legal battles for LGBT rights abound all across the country. In my own state, a thinly-veiled attack on trans’ ability to amend our birth certificates was killed in committee, showing that common sense still exists in some areas of government.

But on other, far more public fronts, attacks by extreme conservative groups have shown that fear, misinformation, and a dose of bigotry can still sway the legislative process. Most notably, in recent days was North Carolina’s HB 142. Proving House Speaker Paul Ryan’s assertion that “compromise isn’t the conservative way”, the Republican legislature basically “repealed” a law by simply re-wording it, forcing the “deal” on a weak democratic governor who’s excuse for signing it was that “it was the best we could get.” Seems he could have learned a thing or two from the members of the Freedom Caucus, who, despite questionable motives, at least stuck to their guns. You don’t win a war by compromising with and uncompromising enemy.

So NC keeps its discrimination friendly legal code while punting the issue to a Federal establishment that had only weeks ago tossed that very responsibility back to them by executive order. An administration, by the way, who put an anti-LGBT activist in charge of the HHS Civil Rights division, after pandering to us in rallies. Allies? Sure. 😦 So while activist on both sides chase this hot potato back and forth through courts both high and low, many of us remain in a legal limbo.

Let me be clear. I’m extremely lucky to be surrounded by allies, mostly cis, who didn’t bat an eye when I came out years ago. Even those who may not approve have kept to themselves about it. The type of hate and vitriol that we see in the media has not been my personal experience. It is for this reason that I usually stay silent, for I don’t want to create waves where there are none. But the forces on the opposing side are on the march and do not seem content to live and let live. Hiding in the trenches won’t save you if the enemy overruns your position.

We live in chaotic times. Fear and uncertainty have become the unfortunate norm. I get that. But we cannot allow that to erode basic human compassion. Only together can we make things better, and this constant class, gender, religious, and racial warfare is tearing us apart. This is where the enemy wants us, and they are closer than many imagine. Stay vigilant. Stay informed. Be involved, if you can.

In closing, I want to thank you all for your support. I love you folks, no matter who you are, how you identify, what beliefs you have, or where you’re from. Take care, fellow humans. See you on the battlefield. 🙂

Beyond the fishbowl…

Heya folks.

Another week down with not a lot to show for it. Spent the better part of today rearranging and cleaning my living room/studio area, which is something I sometimes do to fill time when I get mentally lost. After months of feeling better, my anxiety has hit pretty hard the past week or so. No idea why, since I should really be in better spirits, having just taken care of a pretty major financial issue.

Yet something’s eating at me. I feel like I’m stuck in a fishbowl, surrounded by a bubble of glass that at first glance simply reflected my world back at me. Content in the assumption that there was nothing else, I focused on that quaint existence, working, paying bills, dreaming of a career in art or animation, never questioning the origin of the tasteless but adequate dribbles of food that drifted down from above.

But then one day, I looked at the reflection a little longer and my focus changed. No longer seeing my reflection, I saw instead a huge hazy world beyond. Now aware of this revelation, I’ve become unable to avoid noticing it every time I look. The reflection is gone, replaced by a seemingly impenetrable barrier to something bigger. My day job, which was always a necessary but tolerable burden, has started to feel more like a prison, and every day I come home mentally drained and less passionate about working toward the same dreams that I’ve struggled so long to achieve, dreams that now seem simple and inadequate. Swimming around in circles, I feel suddenly compressed, impatient, and discontent.

Years ago, I had an aquarium containing a variety of freshwater tropicals. Most just swam around, heedless that anything existed beyond their ten gallon universe. A few might come up and watch your finger if you touched the glass. But I had one little Rainbow Shark that was very different. He was the only one who’d discovered that he could squeeze into the filter uplift tubes, swimming down against the torrent of bubbles until sometimes he’d disappear below the filter for minutes or hours at a time only to pop back out later.

Eventually, he realized that the back of the tank was open and, apparently determined to see what was beyond, he’d bolt for the surface, slip the bonds of his watery world and escape. The first time, I found him on the floor and quickly returned him to the safety of the water. Weeks later, he disappeared again, and this time I didn’t find him. I assumed that he’d finally gotten stuck under the filter and would turn up one day.

He did, sort of.

One day, I was cleaning the closet near the tank. On the floor near the back lay what looked like a shriveled leaf. Scooping it up, I noticed the little red fins. The little bugger had finally done it, he’d gotten free. It had killed him, but he’d gone where no other fish in his world had gone before. I don’t know if he found what he was looking for but I had to admire his dedication.

What does this have to do with my mood of late? I really don’t know other than maybe, after all these years, I kind of understand what that little shark felt as he watched the other fish mulling about the tank, mindlessly eating the scraps sprinkled down on them, content to live out their time with no purpose beyond entertaining a ten year old human that existed so far from their reality as to be nearly incomprehensible. This was clearly not the life for him, and he chose to lose that life on the faint hope that there was something better beyond that reflection.

So I’m sitting here, mentally bashing my head against the side of the fishbowl, wondering if I have the courage to swim against the current, or to take that leap of faith if only to see what may lie beyond. I don’t want to die, of course, but I’m not sure that this is really living either. The daily grind, teetering at the edge of depression, held back only by a frail thread of medication, dreaming of bigger things but lacking the energy to pursue them, watching the world suffer and feeling helpless to prevent it. Something has to change, and it has to start in my own head. I’ve seen beyond the reflection. It’s been sobering, but also enlightening. I’ve lived in the bubble long enough. The ocean is out there somewhere and I’m going to find it, even if it kills me.

Ok, I’ve got some art to work on.

Have a great week everyone! And like Dory says, Just Keep Swimming!