Isolation Eats

Hi everyone,

What a strange time to be living in… I hope everyone here is doing OK and I am so sorry for any of you who may be grieving 😦 Also I hope that if you are out of work that you are able to get some financial support. There’s so many different ways we could be affected by this thing that I don’t think I could write for each situation… so, take care.

Currently in the UK we are under orders not to leave our homes except for food foraging, 1 type of exercise a day, caring for elderly (etc) relatives, and… maybe there are other allowances but I’m unsure. I’ve been in isolation since mid March anyway as C is considered vulnerable due to his MS and immunosuppressant medication.

Because of this we haven’t been able to go out to the shop and ordering food online has been difficult and semi anxiety inducing for me. We managed to get a food delivery today so we should be ok for a while. From 20th March to today we have been waiting for that delivery, so our food choices had to be a little ingredient-efficient and sometimes a bit bizarre… I thought I’d share some of those with you, continuing on from the theme of recipes (see previous post). I amΒ definitely not anywhere near an expert with cooking but I can cook for myself and others and survive. So these recipes aren’t necessarily fancy or even good haha. I just provide them in case anyone happens to be interested πŸ˜‰

If anyone can’t get hold of the ingredients mentioned below, I’m sorry 😦 I will be writing up a couple more recipes perhaps so maybe those will have relevant ingredients for you. Also within the UK it seems that things are getting a bit better supermarket wise so hopefully you will all be able to get what you want πŸ™‚

(bar bread flour, it seems like everyone has collectively decided to practice baking – specifically baking bread?!)

Banana Pancakes

Classy, eating at my desk while working from home in my PJs

This one probably could do with a bit of an extra fry on the first side…

Update, 01/04/2020: At the request of my mother who may not be disobeyed, I have now added ingredient amounts!

Ingredients for 2 large-ish pancakes:

  • 1 Banana
  • 3 tablespoons flour – plain is good but to be honest try whatever you want! You may even be able to supplement this (partially or possibly wholly) with ground oats… No promises though as I haven’t tested this
  • 1/4 cup milk or milk alternative (I used oat milk once the milk had run out… ps you can make oat milk out of oats and water if you can’t get hold of milk)
  • 1 egg if you have any (optional) – if no egg, you may wish to increase the amount of flour you put in
  • Bonus: vanilla essence! You could try adding a little cocoa instead if you want…

Feel free to augment and experiment with this ingredient list as you wish!
If you want to make normal non-banana pancakes, you can just use this recipe and mix it all together: 300ml milk/milk alternative, 2 eggs, 4 large tablespoons of plain flour. πŸ™‚

  1. Smash the banana with a fork or other implement
  2. If you have egg, add it
  3. Add your liquid of choice
  4. Mix, it will still be lumpy unless you’re a great masher
  5. Add and mix flour – in order to get the consistency you want for your pancakes, add flour in small increments. I recommend for it to be more gloopy than runny
  6. Heat your pan with some oil so it’s HOT! I used a non-stick wok for my pancakes as most of our frying pans are not actually non stick. Whatever works for you. You can test if the pan is hot enough by dripping in a tiny amount of your pancake batter. The oil needs to sizzle and bubble around it!
  7. Add in half of your batter (if you’re aiming for 2 pancakes), and smoosh it around to give it a large surface area. As it’s probably lumpy from banana it won’t be super thin, but smoosh as much as you want unless you want a beefy pancake. If it’s chonky then it will probably need more cooking time for the heat to go all the way through.
  8. Wait a few minutes for the bottom to cook – after a few mins you can gently lift an edge to see how it’s getting on underneath. It’s up to you how done you want it but I go by the cooked-level of the first image on this post πŸ™‚
  9. Flip and do the other side – a couple of minutes – keep checking until you feel it is done πŸ˜€
  10. Enjoy! Add whatever toppings you like/have.

I would love to hear what you add to your pancake! And if you have any feedback or changes you made to the ingredients or instructions, please do share. πŸ™‚

Take care all,

Elysia

Black Bean Sauce Recipe (JP + EN translation)

Hi all!

It has been a while! I wanted to share with you something I made for my Japanese module coursework, a recipe for black bean sauce from my mum. The images are all in Japanese but I will write the translation below πŸ™‚ I have separated it into parts corresponding with each page.

Just a disclaimer, I’m not an expert recipe writer, and my mum is notorious for avoiding specifying ingredient amounts, so you may wish to tweak this if for example you want your sauce gloopier (more cornstarch) or less gloopy (less cornstarch), etc. I am open to questions if you have any, and if I can’t answer I can ask my mum!

Ingredients

  1. Meat (suggestion: 3-4 chicken thighs or 450g of beef)
    Vegetarian options: 1 block of firm tofu or quorn etc.
  2. 5cm ginger
  3. 4 cloves garlic
  4. 3 spring onions for paste and 2 thinly sliced for topping
  5. 25g fermented black soy beans
  6. Fresh chillis (or as many or few as you wish)
  7. 10g cornstarch
  8. 1 bell pepper (mum’s suggestion – red – I prefer green though!)
  9. Soy sauce
  10. Oil for frying

Side Note 1: you should be able to find fermented black soy beans in a Chinese supermarket or online (1, 2).

Part 1

  1. First off, although not mentioned in my JP recipe (because brevity was important and I was also on a deadline), my mum recommended marinating the meat/tofu with a bit of corn starch (‘maybe a heaped teaspoon – depending on quantity’), rice wine, light soy sauce and a bit of sesame oil.
  2. Very roughly chop the ginger, garlic and spring onions, put them into a blender. Add the black beans (don’t need to chop these). If you like spicy food feel free to add chillis. Blend everything!
  3. If you want rice, now’s the time to put the rice cooker on, or prepare your rice. If you don’t have a rice cooker I recommend making it in the microwave with a steamer like this.
  4. Turn on the stove and heat up your frying pan to medium heat.

Part 2

  1. Put ~30ml oil or so in the pan. First of all, put the meat/tofu etc. in and fry. We want to seal the edges of the meat and for the tofu/veg option we want to make the surface nice and crispy. If frying tofu it could take around 10 mins and you need to be turning it over to fry the different edges. For meat it could take about 5 mins.
  2. When the meat’s sealed or tofu is nice and crispy, take it out of the frying pan. Next, add the pepper and fry it for a few mins, then take out and set aside for later.

Part 3

  1. Take the paste from the blender and fry it. After a few minutes when it is fragrant, you can add in the meat/tofu and fry for a few more mins.
  2. Mix 10g cornstarch and 100ml water in a separate bowl and then add it to the pan. Continue to stir πŸ™‚ you can now add light soy sauce to taste.
  3. Add the pepper back into the pan and continue to stir.
  4. When it becomes goopy then you know it’s almost ready. Keep cooking until the meat is cooked (you can cut it open to see).
  5. Serve it on top of a bed of rice and sprinkle with more thinly chopped spring onions.

Aaaaand here I got round to taking a couple photos of a version of this dish I did today… I added mushrooms, onions and courgette. I didn’t use any peppers, and I also used fried gluten instead of tofu! Go ahead and substitute whatever you feel like πŸ™‚

WHEW

tumblr | storenvy | instagram | redbubble

I linked my various online presences above until I can sort out this site a bit… πŸ™‚

Wheeeewwww, it’s been over a year! A year and a half since I last wrote! I did have good intentions about writing. I kept ‘industry workshops blog post’ in my to do list for months after it ended (it was in Aug 2018… or maybe Sept 2018), until I realised it really wasn’t going to get done.

In short, I loved industry workshops, it was an amazing weekend full of friends, being able to meet some artists I admire, eating lots of good food, and having so much to learn and cram into my brain. It was so overwhelming, in a good way. But also in a way that meant it took me a long time to process all of it, and honestly I think some of the things I learned spilled out of my head and I’m going to have to revisit my sketchbook for the weekend to re learn it all.

Since then, though, I’ve moved house, and I don’t even know where the sketchbook is right now! We moved in May 2019 to our own house, another overwhelming and also stressful experience. But I’ve settled in now and managed to partially redecorate the spare room, which will also house my art stuff. I just need to get a book case and some other storage so I can unpack my art box – which has never really been unpacked since university (I was at uni 2009-2013)! So much to do. I’m also looking forward to unearthing all the piles of artwork I collected from my lovely friends and framing and mounting the pieces.

Apart from that news I will write a very quick general update: I’m still drawing and doing character-y things, but my idea of what I want in life has changed a bunch and probably requires a whole new post to elaborate on. I’m also still doing Japanese, attending a 20 credit evening class at Manchester university (did the same last year too). It’s a lot of work on top of the full time job… but I’m glad to be keeping it up.

Thanks for sticking by, if you happen to be reading still!

Seer Project Progress

It’s been a while!

I’ve made a bunch of progression on my most recent big project, which can be found here on artstation.

I think I’ve come to a good milestone in it but I feel like there is always more that can be done… I thought I would share a couple of small, achievable ideas on how to improve and expand on the project. After that I might think about how to push my AJ project a bit further too, keeping in mind feedback from AJ and the artists at Creative Assembly.

For the Seer Project:

  1. Include detail and development on boot design
  2. Include detail and development on pauldrons
  3. Sketch out back view for most recent finished design and add notes
  4. Detail shot of staff and further development of its textures

Character design of an insectoid creature

For AJ Project:

  1. Back view of insectoid creature
  2. Pick a 3rd character to develop

I’m not sure if I will complete all of these but they at least give me a direction. In addition to these actions (during or after), I realise I need to strive to study more. Lately I have made some progress and I need to keep pushing forward.

Autumn Review

I thought I’d provide a short update post on what’s been happening since Spring ☺️

  • Robotpencil mentorship: I took the plunge and took Anthony Jones’ character design class in August. It was a month long course with a fairly hefty amount of homework (which was a good thing but a bit difficult with various summer social goings-on occurring as well). I struggled a lot in the beginning trying to work out what I wanted to do, and what the best workflow would be, but after two weeks things started to make sense. I learned so much, had great guidance from AJ and awesome classmates. At the end of the mentorship I had a fairly finished project for my portfolio. I could also push it further and beef my portfolio more (this will probably happen)… Anyway, it was so useful and I definitely needed some guidance. I’d do it again, I hope I can; but first I need use all the valuable feedback I received and work on that. 
  • Industry workshops: With a couple of friends, I headed down to London for this event. It’s a three day event with demonstrations and talks from artists of many different disciplines (concept art, animation, 3D modelling, etc) within the games/entertainment industry. There were a ton of great talks, some of my favourites were a demo on procreate (iPad drawing app), an anatomy workshop by Scott Eaton, a talk on Marvellous Designer, Even Mehl Amundsen’s eye opening talk on armour design and more. On top of these things I also got some helpful portfolio feedback from Sumo Digital, Sam Hogg (artist at Playground Games and also alumni from the Robotpencil mentorship) and a bunch of friendly and extremely helpful artists from Creative Assembley. Thanks to these people I now have a ton of actionable feedback to work on; and a way better understanding of how to structure a better portfolio. 

These have been my two main events of the Summer, and as we move into Autumn and Winter I will be using what I’ve learned to study and produce some portfolio work. I’m currently working on another character design project based on the structure of the mentorship homework and adding in the tips I got specifically from CA.

Aside from this, in June I transitioned to a better part time job with more convenient working days and hours. It’s been better but I’m still going to start applying to art jobs more regularly once I have a couple more portfolio projects complete. I’m also keeping up with Japanese classes in the hope that I will achieve JLPT level 2 before I am thirty! In between all this I also do a bit of crafting but I try to make sure I don’t do too much and neglect my art. 

Spring Review

Instead of doing year long resolutions, I decided that I want to just keep reviewing my progress and setting new goals every few months. So, here’s a spring review! I wanted to do quarterly reviews, but I was abroad, so it’s late, and I don’t know the equivalent word for every ‘third’ of the year… (later: the word is tertiary!) Anyway, I’m still working on a lot of the things I posted in my most recent blog entry, so this shouldn’t be a super long post.

Side note which most of you probably know already: my blog is generally just me rambling, psyching myself up for art and giving myself to do lists, which is probably not of interest to many, but if anyone does enjoy it, I am glad πŸ™‚

Since the end of last year I had been finding it a bit difficult to feel okay about painting/working on art skills, possibly because I put too much pressure on myself to do so, perhaps that caused my brain to associate it all with negative feelings?

Originally I had been using a spreadsheet to note down how long I spent on drawing/learning 3d etc. to get an idea of how much time I was dedicating to art. After about three months it began to feel a bit too much like a chore – this could have been due to work/life situation rather than the actual task itself – so I switched to a simple ‘did you draw today? Y/N’ spreadsheet. I made sure to keep drawing every day even when I felt really bad about it… but I decided to transition off of using the spreadsheet for the time being. Maybe the spreadsheet will make a comeback in future.

I think through continuing to draw every day and allowing myself to sometimes just noodle and explore, without any worry of what the finished image will look like, has helped me to overcome the weird anxiety I felt earlier in the year about art.

In August I took up learning to knit, which I think was because I felt bad about art. I used to knit more than I drew (ashamedly – not because knitting is bad, but because I should focus on art). Fortunately I have managed to shift the balance so that I can become much more engrossed in art and reluctant to stop painting.

I’m not sure if this experience constitutes art block, what do you think? Has anyone else had trouble with this? I hope I don’t struggle like this again although I’m sure it will happen again during my art life! In order to try make this blog post not totally self serving and navel-gazing, what are some solutions that you’ve come across?

I think the solutions I’ll be employing (should it happen again) are:

  • Putting less pressure onΒ yourself
  • Experimenting with new media
  • Drawing things you’ve not tried before and not worrying about the results
  • Listening to gently motivating art (and non art) speakers on youtube (e.g. Bobby Chiu, Chris Oatley and Anthony Jones)
  • Just start drawing – even if it’s just one line, and seeing where you go from there
  • Even if you’re feeling like you are not doing well drawing, or don’t want to, during non-drawing life, observe the world around you and consider how light hits things, how different shapes/forms interact, how certain materials work with light differently, etc. and consider how this could be incorporated into your art
  • Learn about how other artists approach problems – e.g. through gumroad tutorials and free art stream videos on youtube – robot pencil have a bunch of videos on there offering loads of tips, also Sara Tepes shares a lot of info

Well, “art block”/art anxieties aside, things have been improving, and so let’s get on with the review of Jan-Apr 2017!

  • I started working part time and painting (and resting/organising/crafting) part time
  • I took on a new commission which is in the field of work I want to do and will hopefully work nicely for my portfolio
  • I decided that I do actually want to be a concept artist and that I should focus and stay determined no matter what (although to be fair I spend about 50% of my time having crises of faith – I will still keep drawing and pushing forward centimetre by centimetre)
  • I worked on some ambitious pieces which I feel pushed my skills further – still a long way to go, but progress has been made and I have learned from most if not all longer pieces that I’ve been working on
  • My friends at dirty casuals and I worked on the Odyssey Jam, a game jam based on Homer’s Odyssey. We made a 2D visual novel style game using the free engine Renpy, and I spent most of the time frantically sketching out backgrounds and messy looking characters. I had to leave the jam early due to my trip abroad but I feel like I learned a good deal and got to do stuff I don’t normally do (read: environments)
  • I went to Japan for two weeks which was inspiring art-wise, I drew almost every day (some days were a bit difficult – I’ll try keep up the every day thing though!) although a lot of my sketchbook bits were a real mess! Just playing around scribbling really
  • A couple of friends and I are thinking of going to the Industry Workshops in London this year – in September. My friend went last year and said it was amazing so I would really like to go and see what I can learn from it, and I’m sure it will motivate me further. If you’re going too, let us know!

I know this is a pretty wordy blog post and for an artist there are suspiciously NO images here – haha. If you’re interested you can actually see what I’ve been getting on with through my tumblr, which is the most up to date social media of mine. I’ve been meaning to update my Instagram and keep that up to date too, so that’ll come soon I hope! I also have my artstation portfolio, which admittedly has an assortment of generalist stuff on it since that was what my previous job entailed, but through the projects mentioned here and in the previous blog post, I’m working to update and replace a lot of the bits on there.

Well! I’m going to go after writing this mammoth post. I hope there was something of interest or use to you all at least somewhere peppered in this text! If not, well, it was a good exercise for me to write. I have work 4-6pm and then the cinema; I’m happy to say that part of me is sad I won’t be drawing during the time I’m at the cinema, but I am also looking forward to seeing my friends; and the film might be inspiring!

SS17 Project List

Well, I have a bunch of projects I’m working on, plus some upcoming ones, plus some dreams of future challenges and portfolio developments. So, I’m going to make a little list for myself and anyone else who happens to be interested! I’ll divide them up into sections; since my desired project list is pretty long!

My motivation from last summer, which kept at a low simmer throughout autumn and winter (thanks to burn out, I think?), has reignited somewhat; so I want to take advantage of that and push myself more once again to learn and improve on my artwork.

Before the new year I had lower levels of motivation. I made sure to draw pretty much every day and tried to work on some projects, so that was good; but now I’m back to normal I want to make better use of my free time and put in more hours – hopefully consistently from now on.

In progress list updated 26th May 2017 – progressing well!

In Progress

  1. Character Design – Portfolio work – designing an elf bard healer. So far the general costume is done. To do; some hair/facial sketches, expressions, prop design, additional details added to further customise her character and of course some notes and development of her story which should affect all aforementioned bits.
  2. Character Design – Practice/Portfolio – Design creature body (blue skin) – finish shade and highlight, create some variantsΒ on hold while I work on more pressing projects
  3. Character Illustration – Practice/Portfolio – finishing off a painting adapted from a character sketch. Background needs finishing. Potentially can develop character from this illustration on hold, potentially to repaint!
  4. Logo Project – working for a logo for a friend, non-portfolio – short term task finished!
  5. Character design commission – turnaround style design – commission for a friend, currently over halfway complete, highest priority finished!
  6. Sketch cleanup – I started painting an alien for fun, it turned out to go well since I was enjoying myself, I’m gonna clean him up a bit and put him in my portfolio πŸ™‚ finished!

 

2D Art – Priority – Character work

  1. Expressions Challenge
  2. Pose Challenge – 50 sketches
  3. Foreshortened/Action Pose Challenge – 50 sketches
  4. Couple/Group Pose Challenge – 25 sketches
  5. 14 Animals in 14 Days Challenge
  6. Design characters for the dusty library project – Started, but probably want to go back and do more iterative sketches of the characters as I did not do that enough.
  7. Draw a box – Started working on it again! Finally completed the exercise that scared me, and felt like I made progress! Doing a little bit each day.
  8. Art Improvement Hell Challenge – I got to #7 or #8!
  9. Design characters from a book – perhaps Annihilation (Jeff Vandermeer)?

Game Dev

  1. Odyssey Jam – March ish, 2D story game jam with my friends at Dirty Casuals. As it’s a jam, and a fairly short period of time, I’ll unlikely come up with super polished pieces, but it will be a good exercise in sharpening my skills, experimenting and probably painting a ton of things I wouldn’t normally paint! Done! Find it here.
  2. Zbrush Lessons – I want to make a point of making a concerted effort to learn Zbrush within 2017. I will do this! And it will be fun! – Started working little by little in Zbrush and feel a bit more comfortable using the controls and understanding how sculpting works!

 


I was going to have a section on craft, but I’ve decided now that I want to keep this art focused – as that’s where I want to direct most of my learning energy. I will use crafting (knitting etc.) when I need to take breaks from artwork. I’m also trying to work on taking my sketchbook out with me (rather than myΒ knitting) and using that during my free time instead.