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Roller Skates

About a month ago my husband bought me some roller skates that I’d had my eye on. Between discovering Roller Derby through the movie Whip It! back in 2009 and the derby league nearby, skating has been something I’ve always wanted to learn. And it was honestly one of my favorite ways to spend time with my friends/cousins as a kid. I kind of thought derby was the only logical reason for an adult to own roller skates. I was sadly ignorant of the glory of dance skating, roller disco, and just what an all around great form of exercise skating is. And then I stumbled upon one of the Moxi Skate Team videos on youtube. 

First of all, those boots are gorgeous. Second, ROLLER SKATES IN SKATE PARKS? Are you freaking kidding me? I knew this was something I had to try. 

We got our son roller blades and off we were. It has been SO amazing. We are also super blessed to have a miniramp in our driveway and I’ve been skating a TON with my husband’s sister both in the streets and in the rink. It is such a great way to see the city I live in. It has completely changed the way I am looking around at my surroundings. Mainly “Oooh, that parking lot looks really smooth.” or “Yikes! Watch out for that deathtrap!” 

A few nights ago, Brin and I were riding through my street practicing our transitions as the sun went down. I have never enjoyed a summer more than this year. Rolling through the streets under the glow of street lights or pushing ourselves to try new things at the rink has made me so happy. 

ANYWAY. That was just a little update on what I’ve been spending my time doing lately, but also an explanation of why I have been drawing NOTHING BUT ROLLER GIRLS lately. 


As you can see, I am still drawing mostly the same old characters I have been drawing for nearly ten years. Some are newer and some older, but I’ve been slowly and casually exploring and developing an idea which basically pulls them all into a new world/universe and a new story. I’m just really lazy and recycling old ideas. 

Root Veg Watercolor/Gouache and a Declaration

So begins the long haul of me thinking of nothing but homegrown vegetables and fruit. We have started our cooler temperature vegetables (peas, greens, radishes, kohlrabi, cabbage and beets) and wait patiently to put in everything from squash and pumpkins to strawberries, tomatoes and anything else we can get our hands on. 

I have so enjoyed the near radio silence of the diminishing social media in my life. My focus has moved to my children, my husband, home cooked food and slower living. Spending less time on my phone/computer and in front of my TV has relieved a myriad of problems faster than I could have anticipated. 

I have also completed my sketchbook, read and listened to several books, discovered art/junk journaling which I will have to share more on at a later time and made some significant progress on renovation projects around our house.  Seeking simplicity has yielded rewards I have been long dreaming of. 

rootvegetables
Materials listed at bottom of post.

 I could carry on for miles about how grateful I am for the changes I am seeing in my personal life, but I wanted to share a particular goal I started this week. 

I have decided that I will not purchase any more art supplies for the rest of the year.

Yeah. You read that right. A full shopping ban on all art supplies for eight whole months. I mean business about this and it seems the next step in creating a healthy relationship for me with art and coping with stress/boredom in general. 

I came to this decision after two things happened. 

First, I had to move all of my art/sewing/creative tools and supplies from their hiding/storage/out-of-sight-out-of-mind spots in my bedroom to what will eventually be the office/studio in our home. Shopping for art supplies has always been something that I was able to easily justify. Especially last year as I found myself on a journey of self-exploration as an artist, trying every new/forgotten medium I could get my hands on. I spent a lot of money on paint, brushes, tape, and other things, more than I care to admit on a hobby actually. So, I knew there would be a lot. 

But when I had it all stacked it in the corner of the office, thinking of how I would store and organize all of it, I felt a little ashamed. Especially because simplifying has been a really important goal for our family lately. 

Then, the thing that pushed me over the edge was my random discovery of Cait Flanders‘ book “The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store“. I wasn’t looking for this book or even books on this subject. It just happened to be on the front page of the audiobook app I’ve been using. I had just finished a book, so I downloaded it. 

I won’t delve too deeply into the details of the book. Though I definitely found the personal experiences she shares moving and her insights very valuable and I would absolutely recommend it. After overcoming alcoholism and getting herself out of debt, the author, recognizing the futility in trying to “buy happiness”, challenges herself to a year-long shopping ban. 

Her experience inspired me. I’m not ready to take the leap into a full shopping ban, but I know that utilizing what I already have (which will take me a really long way) will push me creatively and help my family reach some of our long-term goals. 

Like many before me, I am using my blog for accountability. I will not shop for art supplies for the rest of 2018. 


Art Supplies Used

  • Schmincke Watercolor
  • Gouache (Holbein, Winsor & Newton, M. Graham, Caran d’Ache, Daler-Rowney)
  • Caran d’Ache Neocolor II Pastels
  • Winsor and Newton Squirrel Mop Brush 

Doodles of my Favorite Art Supplies

fave art supplies

A couple weeks ago I painted a few of my favorite things to create with. I thought it looked really fun next to some of the things my kids use to create with. Especially since they’re not so different. (My oldest thinks it’s pretty funny that I have somehow digressed to using “crayons” again. That tickles me.)

My sketchbook is almost full and I am kind of thinking it would be fun to do a sketchbook tour video. That’s an internet trend I actually love partaking of. This sketchbook has seen some serious growth and change in my mindset as an artist. Plus, isn’t it fun to see what people create when they are working through an idea or just need to blow off some steam?

February Sketches: More Farm Damsels and a Pretz

“Sketch Dumps” were a pretty popular thing on deviantArt back when I was in high school. Artists I followed would post a weekly “dump” of what they had added to their sketchbooks that week. I always really loved seeing what people created in a relaxed, pressure-free setting such as a sketchbook. 

That’s pretty much all I am creating  these days aside from pixel art for Creature Valley. I love filling sketchbooks with everything from actual sketches and paintings to lists, pasted in photos of things/places/people/clothes that inspire me. I’ve rediscovered the magic of rubber stamps. My mom had the most impressive collection of stamps when I was a kid, and we always enjoyed playing with them when she would let us. 

In this season of my life, when time for art is limited to the late evening, I have pretty much evolved into a sketchbook filler and that’s fine with me. I’m never quite sure what to do with my traditional art after I’ve finished it, so having it already committed to a place in my sketchbook works out great for me. I have been doing exclusively digital art for so long, that the debacle of storing finished art wasn’t ever really a problem I had to deal with. 

So, today I am sharing a “sketch dump”.  Three little farm girls! One holding a black rabbit, which I was very pleased with, another with an arm tenderly slung over her lamb, and a somber looking, little thing with a pail of eggs. I just love her work gloves. 

And of course, we have a huge pretzel. Someday I will have to compile an image with all of my pretzel drawings/paintings. haha. How ridiculous. 

Also, a note:
I am greatly reducing my presence as an artist on social media at this time. I have stopped using my art account on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and have only responded to facebook messages to let people know that I am no longer taking commission work. I won’t be doing any Christmas cards this year as I will be focusing on my family, my personal growth as a Christian, wife, mother, artist, musician, homemaker, etc. In this season of my life, social media has done more harm than good, and since I am no longer trying to build a business, it seems more of a distraction than anything else. 

I have created so much more art since relieving myself of the pressure to post what I create.

This blog will continue to be a hub for my art whenever I feel like sharing something I’m working on, which will be pushed through automatically to my facebook page, but that will be the extent of my social media presence for now. As always, thank you for your support and interest. 

Pretzel hugs.

Materials

 

Gouache Houses

gouache house painting

Here are a couple of cute lil’ houses I painted a couple nights ago in my sketchbook. I’ve been painting a bit more, and my sketchbook is half-full, but I’m having issues with my scanner. I took a photo of this one on my phone, in mediocre lighting and fiddled with it in photoshop. The colors are close, but not exact. 

Anyway, that’s definitely a skill to work on. Digitizing analog art. 

I’ve had so many funky houses floating around in my head that I need to paint. Far funkier than these. This was a really fun little drawing because I am still learning how to find that ideal consistency with my gouache paint, especially because I prefer painting out of a pan rather than tubes.

I made myself a gouache palette using one of these cool Mijello Watercolor Palettes. I have the desire to do more acrylic painting and someday learn oils, but the convenience and easy clean-up of watercolor, gouache and pastels/crayons just fits my current lifestyle so well. 

 

Materials

art supplies

Farm Sisters

I’ve been exploring this idea of two sisters (or siblings in general) enjoying their freedom exploring in a field or forest. There has been a lot of really inspiring reference material on Pinterest, so I’ve been learning a lot about my new medium, watercolor. I just love mixing new colors and the challenge of getting correct values. It’s something I am still not super awesome at and I find watercolor especially challenging in this regard. The values and contrast in most of these studies are not very good, but I just love the brightness of these colors. 

Success and Failure
On the same page.

The paintings on this first image (above) are all referenced from Pinterest photos. I’m embarrassed that I cannot find the photo for the first one, I thought I saved it. I’ll do better of that next time. 
The other two are here and here. Obviously very loose, unfinished color studies. The one on the bottom left just made me mad, so I stopped right there and started on the next one, which I enjoyed much more. 

Farm Girls

This one (above), a much brighter, sloppier version was from my imagination. The girls were supposed to be holding farm animals, a goat and a chicken, but as you can see, there were some… complications? hah. I had just gotten myself a small set of Caran d’Ache Neocolor II Pastels and I wanted to give them a try. They are soooo cool. They are like crayons for grown-ups. And when you went them, they turn into the funnest paint/watercolor. I’m really excited about scribbling on everything with them. I just love the texture and effect you get by mixing mediums like this. I’ve been having a lot of fun playing with watercolor and gouache together, and now I will be adding these pastels to the mix. 

Almost Impressionistic

This sketch is from this photo. Again, pretty crude by comparison, but very helpful as a study and most importantly, therapeutic. That’s what I’m really trying to accomplish here. Artistic expression with absolutely NO strings attached. 

Thanks for reading!

Materials Used

  • Schmincke Horadam Watercolors
  • Holbien Gouache
  • Winsor and Newton Gouache
  • Turner Acryl Gouache
  • Caran d’Ache Neocolor II Pastels
  • Canson XL Mixed Media Sketchbook
  • Prismacolor Col-Erase Pencil
  • Simply Simmons Round Brush Size 6

 

Fresh Start

I had a fun experience this evening. Shortly after sitting down at my computer I found myself staring at one of my first blogs. I wrote it back in 2010. Most of it is down right cringe-worthy, but once I got past how “out there” I was, I noticed the amount of art I had been posting. Almost every single post I hit “publish” on had some doodle or sketch included. And I was a prolific writer of short, quippy posts. So there is a ton of really, really crappy art on that blog. 

I mean, look at these two drawings side by side. 

Now, I have to say, I’ve always been really proud of my art. To an extent that is now a little embarrassing as I look back at “what” I was so proud of. And maybe “proud” isn’t exactly the right word, but it’s always been a really important way I’ve expressed myself. Which is what really struck me about this old, zany blog. It is chock full of drawing after drawing that I created on a whim to either illustrate a moment I experienced or imagined. A joke. A comic. Whatever was on my mind.

And it made me a little bit sad. 

I’m guessing there are about four years between the two images above. I fought so hard to get to that drawing of Zelda (on the right). Not the illustration itself, but that point in my artistic ability to actually transfer the image in my mind to a medium that could be shared. At that time, I believe I was still heavily motivated by the love of creating and the desire to explore art and my own ability. 

Somewhere in there, I stopped having fun with the art. Not that I really stopped enjoying it, but it became about something else. Other people, really. It was less personal. That’s probably why I’ve been struggling so much with my art this past year. In a season of my life when time for making new art is so scarce, I was not satisfied with the majority of what I was making.

I have been completely crushed by the pressure to monetize any skill I posses. Art, blogging, the dolls, sewing, designing, any stray idea, BOOM. “I have to do this. I have to sell this. I have to turn this into a business.” But I can’t do it anymore. It is killing my creative soul. I admire deeply anyone who can take their passion and turn it into a career. I am just not one of those people right now. 

I noticed recently that most of the art I chose to display on my online portfolio, pieces I am still very happy with, are not actually pieces I created for a client. The majority of them were things I drew in my spare time just because I had an idea and I could do it. 

Most years, I don’t make real resolutions. But 2018 is going to be the year that I resolved to make art for me again. 

Pardon my reminiscing, but I wanted to post one more drawing to really remind myself down the road that it’s really okay that I am just making art for no reason other than that it makes me really really happy in a goofy grinning, full of myself kind of way. 

These Galaxy Princesses are characters who have really stood the test of time for me. The reason I created them was insignificant and even a little pathetic in hindsight, but I remember finishing them and being so incredibly satisfied with what I had done. 

I guess I’m posting this because I feel like I need to bid farewell to that old mentality in some way. So, hopefully PIXELPLEAT can become a little more like the outlet that my old, embarrassingly open and weird blog was. A place for me to share my thoughts, ideas, and experiences the way I see them. 

As always, thank you for taking the time to read. 

#Inktober Week 1 & 2- Witchy Art Challenge Kickoff

Inktober is well under way! And I am having an absolute blast creating these traditional media drawings. There are some purists out there who think #inktober is most effective as a tool for growth if the artist restricts them self to ink alone and I actually agree.

HOWEVER.

Watercolor appears to be my latest and greatest fixation, so here I am. 

BACK UP!

Hold on. Let me back up and give you a little more explanation. What is Inktober?

Inktober is an initiative created by Jake Parker, a ridiculously talented artist who I admire very much! The challenge is simple. Draw something with ink every day of October.

inktober rules

I have tried (unsuccessfully) at least twice to participate in #inktober, but I always get burned out pretty early on. I have never had a lot of confidence in my sketches or traditional/analog art, so it was pretty easy for me to get discouraged. 

But #MerMay taught me something. It’s just for freaking fun. That’s it, guys. Why am I participating in these challenges? For fun. The bonus of personal artistic growth and maybe making one of you smile is just that. A bonus. 

I completed #MerMay. I drew a mermaid every darn day of May. And I discovered some new medias along the way. So #inktober seemed the next step. And my momentum has not diminished at all. The month is half over!

Witchy Art Challenge

Another reason I found myself giving up on #inktober in previous years is that I struggled coming up with what to draw. Prompts are provided, but in the past they were too broad for me. MerMay helped me a lot in figuring out how to use prompts and I chose to use a different prompt list than the official JP Inktober list. 

I have had the Witchy Art Challenge prompt list in my sketchbook for about a year and decided to finally do it with hopes of maybe getting some of this witchiness out of my system.  

So, without further ado, here are my 2017 #inktober drawings 1-15. 

You may notice that in the last three photos, I zoomed out considerably to show the entire sketchbook on my counter. I struggle with figuring out how to share my traditional drawings and I am not terribly satisfied with the way I have been photographing them. But showing a bit of my kitchen’s counter top and the wonderful light that comes through that window has made a huge difference!

This is also where I photograph my dolls. Nothing beats that kitchen sunshine. 

I plan to do another round-up of my #inktober, hopefully with better pictures. But in the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram where I post the new drawings daily as well as progress images and videos on my instagram story.

As always, thank you for your support and readership. Happy October!!


Materials Used:
Canson XL Mix Media Paper
Pentel Pocket Brush
Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Ink
Schmincke Horadam Watercolors
Sakura Koi Field Watercolors
Copic Markers

 

 

#MerMay Week 1

I am participating in #MerMay on Instagram this year and I have already made it a whole week of posting daily. I’m having a lot of fun trying out new techniques, reviving my old ways and just pushing myself as much as possible. There have already been a couple that have frustrated me or that I have spent way too much time on, and in order to complete this 30 day challenge, I have to be able to complete these in a timely manner. 

So far it is teaching me to relax a bit, especially posting those created with traditional media, which is WAY out of my comfort zone. 

But I love growing and I really love a challenge, so it’s on!

Using a list of prompts has helped me stay on track and I’m finding that it’s actually a really fun way to generate ideas I would normally not explore. 

If this continues to go well, I may redo a couple of my merms and create a zine or mermay art book. 🙂

Heirloom Doll: Aster

 

A few months ago I posted a photo of some very humble embroidery practice. It has become something for me to do to make my sewing projects feel a little more special. I made hand-embroidered labels for the jammies I made for my family this Christmas. But as you can tell by my very first attempts, I had faces in mind. Specifically that of an heirloom doll. 

I’ve been making really simple cloth dolls for a few years. I just love the fact that I can take a sketch or an idea for a character and turn it into a real-life friend. And a piece of art that is tactile and can be handled.

Heirloom dolls certainly have their place on Instagram and Pinterest at the moment. (As well as the rest of the Internet.) I have had this idea for this little mouse-friend floating around in my head for several months and she’s finally real! (And you can be sure there will be cats to follow.)

Trial and Error

I can’t tell you how many mouse heads I sewed, bodies I assembled, methods for arms and legs to be jointed to the body I tested, etc. I’ve sewn a couple other animals too, which I’m sure will make their debut in the near future. 

But I’m really proud of how this little girl mouse turned out. Experimenting and taking what I like to call “creative risks” is so rewarding. 

An important feature is that she is sturdy enough to play with. I dreamed up a doll that someone could give to a creative, thoughtful child and would happily endure thousands of tea and slumber parties. And hopefully the type of treasure that could be inherited after a time.

I hope you like her! I plan to make more and offer them in a special pixelpleat etsy shop. Along with clothing and other fun, frivolous things.

heirloom doll