2014: Looking Ahead

With 2013 just about gone (and us hoping that it doesn't let the door hit it on the ass on the way out), I have some big goals for 2014.

At the end of 2014, I want to be able to look at myself and feel happy about my health. I want to look around the house and see things that I like, nicely arranged and organized. I want my house to feel like home, comfortable and attractive. I don't want to be as worried about finances as I am today.

Maybe most of all, I want to feel like my artwork is continuing to go in the right direction.

I'm making some personal resolutions: the usual ones, to lose some weight and be healthier, to declutter more and be better organized, to make more art. Backing them up, I've set some concrete goals and broken them down into steps and set up systems to keep track of progress on all my goals. 

For example, one step to make home more serene and organized is to discard 3500 things over the course of the year. That's about ten items a day. I'm going to keep monthly track of how many items have gone into the discard pile. 

My art and crafty goals are to make about 10% of my income for the year from art sales, to do a minimum of six sales or shows (I did three this year), to get to and maintain one hundred listings in my Etsy shop, to make one crafty item per week (if it's a big project, it can span a few weeks, but progress has to be made each week), and to do a minimum of one blog post each week.

I want to make a lot of art and to keep my inner artist happy and healthy. 

On the whole, life shows definite signs of being good now, and I am happy and excited for the year ahead.

2013: Looking Back

Oh, 2013...I'm so glad you're almost over.

I thought a lot about art. I got over a bad case of creative block and started making art again.

I waited patiently (sort of) for winter to be over. 

Spring came around at last.

There were delicious salads.

I said goodbye to my lovely aunt.


As she approached the end of her life, she was grace, strength and love personified.

I was never so grateful to turn towards the last leg of the trip home as I was coming home, after she was gone.

I looked for beauty everywhere to help remind myself that life is beautiful even when it's hard.

Fall came. Waking up on the first of September felt like we had "made it" in some undefinable way. October was gorgeous. 

I had many a cup of coffee.

The first frosts sparkled.

We spent Christmas in Seattle with Bear's family. I caught a glimpse of the Olympics, briefly unveiled by the clouds, and it felt like a good omen for us for the coming year. 

Toby is curled up next to me, purring.

Bear and Pyewackett, deeply contented. 

Looking for Light

This time of year, the scant hours of daylight start to get to me. It's not that I don't love the beauty of winter twilight, or enjoy the coziness of the season, because I do, but here we are, in the darkest days of the year, and nothing makes me feel better than days like yesterday when there were a few hours of sunshine and I could get out on my bike and ride for a while in the crisp air and abundant light. I am essentially a creature of sunlight.

I find myself creating illustrations that evoke light in the darkness. They make a light in my inner darkness as I continue to mourn the loss of my aunt. She loved light at Christmastime, too. Her Christmas village was a thing of legend. Someday, when we have room (and space where the cats won't find it a temptation), I'm going to have my own village set up, with twinkling lights and tiny trees.

I shudder to think of what Tobycat, who looks so innocent here, would do to a tiny village if he had the chance. My sweet silly ginger boy! I do love him. Even if he IS the reason we can't have nice things.

Winter Wonderlaaaaaand

I know that for a lot of people, the recent snowstorm meant nothing but inconvenience and bother, but for me it had so many moments of beauty. I just wanted to go around with my camera all the time. I rode my bike in the snow almost every day. It is just about gone now, and the last couple of days have felt almost balmy by comparison. I'm still wearing layers and big fuzzy socks, though. 

Layers of cotton and hemp and fleece didn't really feel warm enough for a few days, so I pulled out my old wool Viking apron dress that I made for medieval reenactment. This is not a highly historically accurate garment, because I made it to wear for things like setting up camp, grubby weather, and so on. It is warm and comfortable, though, and I got compliments when I wore it out and about. I wore it with a long sleeved black t-shirt and yoga pants, and a thrifted knit shrug. Oh, and a fleece hat.

I've never worn it in modern context before and it worked really well. I'm going to make another version or two, only those will have pockets, which is the one thing it really lacks.

Wonderful things are happening locally, both in nature and in the community. One morning, Mr. B and went outside and we found that a bunch of spiders had gone nuts overnight. There were a lot of frost-kissed webs up and down our walkway that weren't there the day before.

One of our friends sings in Sorumundi, our local lesbian chorus. They were performing at the Holiday Market on Saturday, so I went over to listen for a bit and show some support. The market was totally crazy! I decided to leave after the little girl sitting on her daddy's shoulders almost kicked me in the face for the second time. 

They were really good, though. I'm going to go try to see them at another performance where the public isn't quite so rowdy. When people get together in big crowds, so many totally forget their manners where shorties like me are concerned, and I get tired of being blocked, elbowed, stepped on, and so on.

Let It Snow

I do love cozy winter days like this, when the walls of our house hold back the icy cold, and outside all is beauty. The last bits of sunshine streak across the snow, the outlines of the trees stand black against the sky, deeply, cleanly blue. It's hushed outside. Soon, we'll be back to the gray skies and everlasting rain more normal to our part of the world this time of year, but for now, I can celebrate the weather.

I've created a small series of original art watercolor postcards, celebrating winter dusk and snow falling on evergreens. They're currently available in my Etsy store.

Real Pretty Winter

It snowed! Where I grew up, it snowed all the time, but in the valley here, snow is rare. Probably for the best; no one actually knows how to drive in it. This morning, I decided to run errands early and get back home before the roads turned into a complete zoo. There were only about 2 inches on the ground when I left, and by noon (long after I very gratefully pulled into the driveway), there were at least four inches piled up...and it kept coming down!

My little collection of birdhouses out in the backyard were looking very alpine peeking out of the snow and reminded me of Heidi or something like that. 

It's probably going to stick around for a few days at least, since the weather forecast calls for low temperatures until Monday, at least. I'm going to be trying to balance out my love of the frozen white stuff with my tendency to get cabin fever at the drop of a hat...or a snowflake. I might walk over to the Eugene Holiday Market, since the artists and performers are planning on being there and I enjoy rewarding stubbornness, and of course, being stubborn myself.

Dreams and Believing

It's been a crazy busy couple of months. I was in the Orycon art show again, I had a sale with friends last weekend, I did a new window for St. Johns Booksellers, and there's been the usual work for my design clients. Through it all, I had to fight the voices of self-doubt that I struggle with so often, but it's been getting easier to shout those buggers down. I'm finally starting to feel like I'm on the right track.

At Orycon, I sold a couple of original illustrations and a number of prints, doing better than I've ever done. All the work of Inktober really paid off. Recognize the trio? I airbrushed the background using the Copic ABS and a tree stencil, and then inked over the top:

The original sold at Orycon!

The Sinister Trio is currently available for purchase as an instant download over in my Etsy store, something new that they (and I) are trying out.

At the convention, I had the chance to show one of my sketchbooks to some artists who were very kindly offering some of their time to do sketchbook critiques. Among them was Rob Carlos, who said some really helpful and encouraging things, which I'll be remembering for a long time. I said that I felt like my art was missing something, I didn't really know how to describe it. He said, "You're an artist. You're always going to feel that way." 

Ok, having someone of that professional level call me an artist was so deeply affirming, it made me tear up a little. Still does, truth be told. The thing I've wanted most for a long time was to feel like I was moving in the right direction with my artwork. Between the sales I've had this year, the feedback they gave my sketchbook, and just feeling it in my hands and my heart, I absolutely feel like I'm getting there, wherever there turns out to be - even if there is just the next vista on the road. I'm finally starting to believe. 

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Vandy introduced me to the glories of watercolor pencils. Now I've never really liked pencils as a medium, but after playing with hers for a bit, and finding what I could do with them in terms of color and texture, I am SO hooked. The wintry bird above was done with watercolor and water soluble ink pencils. I am in love with the texture and shading - the serendipity of them. And I've always loved the look of watercolors. I am so deeply excited at the possibilities here.