Quote of the Moment

"It's never wrong to hope, Byx," said my mother. "Unless the truth says otherwise."
- from Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate

Monday, December 31, 2007

Hello, 2008!

The neighbors and their explosive devices of questionable legality beyond the limits of a reservation are welcoming in the new year with window-shaking enthusiam. Millions of people are toasting its arrival with whatever fermented beverage happens to be at hand. And already people are looking ahead and wondering what 2008 will bring them, be it good (a better president) or bad (another Republican)... Sorry. Unfair shot, there... Anyway, only ten minutes in, and the new year has a monumental heap of expectations, hopes, dreams, and fears to live up to. Well, here's a few more to throw on the pile...

The 2008 Resolution List
  1. Restart my budget. Because I really need to get it pinned down.
  2. Organize, clean, and weed out my stuff. Because it needs doing, more badly than I care to admit.
  3. Walk and/or exercise at least three times a week. So I gave myself an out for cruddy weather... maybe this time it'll stick.
  4. Spend at least an hour a day creating (drawing, painting, writing, etc.) Another carryover.
  5. Fill at least three sketchbooks in a year. Because I seem to fall juuust short.
  6. Pick an instruction book or course on art or writing and follow through on it, start to finish. Maybe I need a little structure in my artistic meanderings...
  7. Finish at least one story for submission to contest or publication. A perennial favorite of mine... someday it's going to happen. I mean, heck, I never thought I'd sell anything I made, and last year I cleared four items.
  8. Learn to use my 2D and 3D art programs more competently. This is going to take some dedicated fiddling-around time...
  9. Maintain and promote websites more diligently. It's been ten years since I first launched the original version of my websites, after all; I ought to treat them better than I have been.
  10. Update website skills (including but not limited to learning XML, CSS, Flash, etc.) Because it's been ten years since I first launched the original version of my websites, and boy does it ever show...
  11. Post at least one new creation - artwork, story, Skyhaven critter, etc. - online per month. Yes, I sort of folded a few of 2007's missed resolutions together here...
  12. Investigate requirements for a business license. Since I seem to be making things to sell, I figure I ought to do things by the book. Besides, it sounds kinda fun to have a wholesale license. But, of course, it will require better bookkeeping than I do now, which ties back into Resolution #1...

Okay, 2008... let's see what ya got...

A Year Ends, Another Begins...

Well, 2007 only has two and a half hours left of life on this coast. Since I haven't seen any Internet bulletins about major catastrophes, I'm assuming that 2008 has indeed arrived as scheduled in the easterly regions. Thus it is once again time to review a year gone by and look forward to the one on the doorstep.

On the whole, I'd have to say that 2007 was a good year. I landed a job that (thus far) hasn't tried to kill me. I got some new technological toys which I still need to master: a personal DVD player, which will free me from reliance on the living room TV if/when I want to watch something, an MP3 player (from work), which, once mastered, will free me from reliability on battery-guzzling CD players when I'm sketching or at my workbench, and a new digital camera, which will free me from the cruddy zoom on my old digital camera and should enable me to take even lousier pictures with more class. I also sold a few things I created with my own two hands. Looking back to last January, I suppose I ought to dredge up the old Resolution list and see how I did.

2007 Resolutions (In Review)
  1. Attain a Source of Income. DONE, in January no less. Go, me! (Of course, it only took a bad axle on the car to undo all the monetary gain I'd managed in the year, and that without blowing money on such frivolities as the dentist or new glasses, but it's still a victory.)
  2. Write, Draw, and Create More. An ambiguous goal if ever I wrote one, but I can safely say I pulled it off; I filled 2.9 sketchbooks in 2007 and worked on two major stories, which is up from previous years. (Didn't finish them, but that's a different resolution altogether...)
  3. Spend at least one hour daily creating. Ouch... fell down on the job here, even if I did hit Resolution #2.
  4. Offer at least one item I have created for sale. Unexpectedly, and almost at the last minute (tail end of November), I actually hit this one, with the phenomenal bonus of actually selling something I'd created.
  5. Submit at least one story for a publication or contest. Hmm... must've slipped through the cracks...
  6. Post at least one work (art or story) a month on the Internet for public viewing. Er... the cats ate it? Another one that started out with great intentions, but just didn't end up happening.
  7. Organize and clean my space. I won't lie and even claim a partial victory. I managed the occasional dusting and clutter rearranging, but I still have as much junk as - actually a bit more than - I started with.
  8. Create and share at least one Flash game or animation. Oooh... I don't think I even opened Flash after March or so, even though I bought myself a fancy beginner-level Flash book (aimed at teens, because it had specific projects and lots and lots of pictures) to help me hobble along. Ouchie. Bad me.
  9. Update sites. I call this one done, because I did do some significant sitework this year. I brought back the Skyhaven Hunt and added content to all of my sites.
  10. Update or add at least five Skyhaven critters. In retrospect, I think I cheated when I wrote this, because I already said I'd update sites in Resolution #9. In the end, I can only claim 4/5 victory; I didn't pull off the last critter update/introduction. Sorry.
  11. Walk at least three times a week. Nope, didn't manage it. In my defense, I consider work a form of exercise - I've lost a belt-notch of girth since I started - but that's really no excuse and I know it. Dang it.
  12. Restart my budget and learn about investing. Another one I meant to do a million times, but never happened. I don't think I can really put it off much longer, though, so 2008 ought to see some progress on this front.

So, 4 4/5 out of 12... not a terrible average, considering my tendency to do as little as inhumanly possible as often as inhumanly possible. My resolutions for 2008 are already typed up, printed, and stuck to the closet door behind my computer, as 2007's were. There's a fair bit of carryover, but a couple of new ones. I'll post them once the clock's turned over, on the theory that accountability to the nonexistant readers of my blog might be an extra spur towards accomplishing things.

Two hours, ten minutes to go...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The 2007 Family Ornament Blitz - End Results

Yes, I managed to finish ornaments for the family again. I actually finished juuust before midnight, so nobody can accuse me of procrastinating. (Why, yes, I usually am up past midnight on Xmas Eve finishing the things...) In the interest of cluttering the internet and boring my nonexistent readers, I posted pictures taken with my old camera. Old camera, I hear you ask (deliberately ignoring the sarcasm)? Yes, old. I got a new Sony Cybershot for Xmas, but I have yet to figure out how to use the thing... consider this the last blast of the ol' reliable Fujifilm FinePix. I also got two books, three McFarlane dragon figurines, and other loot... but this post isn't about holiday loot. It's about ornaments. So, let the picturefest commence! Click the links to view my horrendous camerawork, or just read the descriptions and imagine them. I expect the latter will result in better impressions than the former, but whatever lights your tree...

Okay, first off, it should be noted that I did, indeed, have to scrap plans for sculpting with Paperclay. Demand for drum ornaments was greater than expected, so I just plain didn't have the time or space to clear my workbench for sculpting. So I did drums. I painted the sides in holiday colors (not visible in the photographs, unfortunately) and didn't fool with hanging drumsticks, but that's about it. Anyway, these are the fronts of the drums I did for Grandpa and Bob. Grandpa got an eagle, because it was in painting the eagle tamborine/drum for him that I came up with the idea for making drum ornaments for sale in the first place. My uncle got a ground sloth, because I traditionally do weird things for him. For one thing, he doesn't seem to have a "thing" to latch onto, and for another it's a bit of creative liberty. It's a giant ground sloth, if you can't tell. I wound up hybridizing a skeleton image with a cruddily-posed reconstruction, but I still couldn't get the feet and claws to look right. Ground sloths actually walked on the outer heel of their hands and feet, to protect their claws, and it's a pain in the tail to try painting that on the fly, especially on a small scale if you have minimal painting experience to begin with... not to mention cruddy brushes.

The backs of Grandpa and Bob's ornaments; should be easy to tell whose is whose. I was going for something a little different... dunno if it works or not, as it's hard to get a nice, clean line on canvas. At least, it is with my brushes... I think I need to try stiffer brushes, to get into the grain. But I digress.

My aunt and her husband got drums, too. Hers is the whale, as she loves whales. At least, she used to before I started making ornaments; I expect she's a bit sick of them by now, but it's her own fault for not telling me something else she likes. Her husband got a raven, because he likes Northwest Coast Native American stuff and ravens figure big in local myth cycles. Well, that and my original plans fell through and I happened to have some raven ref pics on hand for a last-minute substitution...

The backs of the previous ornaments. Annotation shouldn't be necessary here, so just ignore this pointless rambling sentence. And the one before it... and this one, too, for that matter.

For immediate family members, I had to do something different, because I just didn't have the time or space to do drums. I had painted up these paper mache books a couple years ago for ornament plans that fell through, so I dusted them off and finished them up with Elmer's metallic acrylic paint pens. (Have I mentioned how cool those things are? I mean, one or two coats actually covers even on dark backgrounds...) Mom's is green, Dad's is red, and my sister got a dark blue one that looks black in my lousy lighting.

The backs of the ornaments. (The spines just have "2007" on them, which I didn't deem photo-worthy.)

In the interest of saving space, and because my photos sucked burnt toast, I compiled the interiors of the books into one image. Yes, the books open... and, yes, that's shrink art. I go all out for my family, don't I? Mom got hummers, Dad got an alien and a rocket, and my sister got a unicorn and a narwhal (from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6kNxf6axY4 - frellin' hilarious YouTube video.)

Okay, so this one wasn't for family... it's the black panther drum I painted for a request at the store. It was the third drum I sold. (The hummingbird one was the second.) Oh, and the cougar drum sold, too, so I'm down to three in the store. I'll resume painting them after New Year's, or at least a few days after Xmas... I need a break now and again, after all.

Well, I suppose I ought to publish this thing and poke my head out of my room to see if family plans have been finalized. We're heading over to Grandpa's for the traditional family gathering there later today. In the meantime, I'm celebrating in the traditional fashion: vegging in front of the computer while listening to Xmas CDs and munching on cookies.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

X Minus 10 Days...

Not much of a blog entry here, but a few things of note.

First off, I did indeed drop off the drum ornaments at the store. I also finished two more drums (pictured above) as requests... or so I was led to believe. Evidently, the lady who asked about the hummer was really fishing for a cheap artist for a personal project. I may not be the greatest artist on the planet or the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I know better than to work for dirt... But it's the other drum, the owl, that is noteworthy. Why? Why indeed... it is noteworthy because it is the first item I have not only created specifically for sale, but which actually sold. Yep, it sold. Cash in the store till and out the door sold. I have another request (black panther) which I need to finish before Friday, which is apparently a done deal in the sale department once I deliver the goods. I've already had my celebratory Peanut Buster Parfait at DQ just for taking the things to the store... I'll have to think of something else to do to celebrate a sale. (Okay, so the PBP was a split celebration of that and of the second anniversary of Hell... I still need to come up with something else to celebrate a sale with, because, much as I like them, there are only Peanut Buster Parfaits one can eat in a given timeframe.)
Now, this success has not been without a cost. What, you may ask, has been the cost? Well, for one thing, my websites haven't been touched - and I mean not even looked at - since the end of October. Skyhaven fans, sorry, but nothing is going to be added until after the new year. (I promise I'll make it worth the wait... there are at least three species I want to bring back to Skyhaven, either to the main lairs or to the Hunt, so when I do update it ought to be a biggie.) On the plus side, I'm tearing through my sketchbook doing preliminary work on my drum designs, since I like sketching out the images a few times before I attempt to paint them - fixing the forms in my mind, so to speak - so this can only mean good things when I sit down to do Skyhaven critter templates.
Another price has been my personal ornament work. Fortunately, I'm only sending a few out of the house this year, but I'm just now getting going on those. With timing and the nasty weather out thataways I'll be lucky if they get to their destination before the spring thaw even if I pull of a miracle and get them done by Monday. As for the stuff I won't be shipping, odds are I'll end up using drum ornament blanks for those, too. Which, of course, means all the painstaking scale drawings I worked on earlier this year are so much wasted paper. Oh, well...
And, of course, there was my card design. I wanted to do my own card design again this year, because it's been a few years since I even wanted to try doing a card design and, dang it, I wanted to do one. Unfortunately, my artistic muse took a bribe from the Dread Demon Reality and left me high and dry, after leaving just enough hints of ideas in my brain to keep me throwing myself against the brick wall of my sketchpad until now.
As a topper, my sinuses picked yesterday - the first day off I've ever taken at my job, and then only because they insisted I burn off the floating holiday I never used all year - to attack. I've always thought that human sinus cavities, prone to illness and infection and general misery-inducement as they are, provide the ultimate proof against our creation by some manner of benevolent entity (assuming, of course, that it intended humans to be its crowning achievement, rather than simply hosts for the microscopic lifeforms which truly thrive from such a lousy design)... But, I will not be deterred. It's actually a bit of a relief to be hitting panic stage at this point; last year, I finished two days early and nearly went berserk without family projects to keep me awake on Xmas Eve.
So, I suppose I'd best head off. It's too late to paint, but I have plenty of other projects to keep me occupied, and the Dread Demon Reality is going to have its hands full stopping me from finishing them all.