a week on

Dear friends,

It’s been a week since I started my new job and luckily, since I have regular hours, work days and all that, I’m able to write another blog post to you all! A few updates before we begin; I put my shop back up. For the moment it features older stock because I haven’t had a chance in a long while (being in Japan and all that) but I hope to create some more new work. I will likely put up some of my sketches done while in Japan and I hope to create new stickers and felt brooches. I’m staying away from shrinky dink at the moment because it is pretty unreliable!

Anyway, today I just want to talk to you all about my new job, since I haven’t really elaborated on it very much. While I was in Japan I was very lucky to notice a job advertisement on facebook, for a 2d game artist. If you have been following my blog you might remember a while back I worked on some game dev projects with my friends. One of the people I worked with was part of this company that was advertising on facebook. I thought I’d give it a go. So now I’m here, in Wales, helping to design games for West Coast. It was a lucky break for me and I was fortunate to have already worked on a relevant project, which also gave me a bit of an idea of what to expect.

The company is actually working hard on a kickstarter project right now, to raise money to create a remake of the game D/Generation, originally released in 1991. You can have a look at videos/the demo/etc. here. 🙂

So, that’s what I’m doing. As I’ve said, I’ve been here only a week, so I wouldn’t say that I have much experience at all. But so far, if you’re interested (perhaps you want to do game art related things and are pretty inexperienced like I was/am?) I’ve spent my days doing tons of sketches and notes for an upcoming game here. It’s been pretty challenging for me as it’s involved drawing landscapes – something I always avoided – as well as buildings, other inanimate objects, character design, etc. For me, character design is probably the easiest thing out of those since, as you may know, I spend so much of my time drawing people.

At first I didn’t have a tablet to use so I focused on doing lots of pen drawing – no colour – on regular printer cartridge paper. But the other day I received my tablet, so now I’m working on creating some mockups and presentations of my designs using Photoshop. It feels very luxurious using Adobe CC, something I never thought I’d get to try out given its monthly fee 🙂

This afternoon I think I will finish up the character designs that I drew earlier on Photoshop, and I will try to convert some more of my paper sketches into fully coloured digital paintings/illustrations. It is really nice to take stuff from the sketches and to finally add colour to them…

I’m sorry that currently I don’t have any images to show, this is because I’m working on a new game and thus we are keeping things under wraps for now. Perhaps when things kick off a bit more for this particular game, I will be able to show and talk about the artwork.

If you’re hoping to see some new drawings and sketches still, you can have a look on my tumblr, where I’ve put my personal scribbles and bits.

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Spring finally came – and then came summer – and then I came home

Well, I started writing this a long while ago – and now, I’m home – so I’ll share the short bit that I originally wrote, plus my own update.

So, a long while again, as is usual for my blog at this time. Spring has finally come! I was waiting and waiting in March and then at the beginning of April (I think, it’s been a while though, so…) we finally had some hotter days. Now, the temperature is usually above 20c on a good day, so all is well. It’s probably hotter than the UK is right now. Work-wise, things are as usual. I’m busy a lot of the time and there are many projects to work on and often there isn’t enough time. I hope I can make some better progress on them by the end of this month. Today is Wednesday, so I start at 11am and finish at 8.30pm. It would be 8pm but I decided I’d prefer to have an extra 30 mins break in before my last class so that I can be more prepared and energised for it. While it’s nice getting to sleep in until 9am I do prefer starting early and finishing at a regular time, so I can spend time doing other things in the evening, or seeing friends. At least I have the weekend for that, though. I also have some fun news to tell you all soon, but not yet. More on that later.

So what has happened since then? Hmm, well, I can’t really remember Spring all that much. I had a couple of days off during Golden Week and my friends and I went to Aomori prefecture, to Lake Towada. At some point we also went to Akita prefecture, to Kakunodate, but I think that was before. Then, Spring was fast, there was lots to do, and summer came around. It got really hot – one day it was 32c, which was way too hot for me! But, it was an experience I guess.

Summer was busy as I was set to finish on June 16th. So, I spent some of my time preparing for that. When I finished work on June 16th, I then had a few days to close everything up, clean up and so on, which was pretty stressful for me.

I’m pretty tired at the moment so I don’t know what else to say, really!

Before leaving Japan I also spent some time with some good friends, and we had good food (sushi) and a party the night before I left Morioka. I also had some kind friends who escorted me to the station to catch my night bus to Tokyo the next evening.

I’m going to miss Japan and I miss a lot of my students too. But I have somewhere to go for the moment and I will definitely be back to Japan whenever I can visit.

Yesterday, I moved into my new place in Aberystwyth. Well, not new as it is the same home that I stayed in during my masters year. I got a job! I am starting tomorrow. It’s art related. I will elaborate on it soon. It’s a Mon-Fri job which I am happy about – I look forward to having the whole weekend free to meet friends or travel. I’m also hoping to reintroduce my online shop, selling art and crafted things. I will post more when I have more information!

Anyway, thanks for reading this very fragmented post and hope you are all well. More news soon.

daruma san ga koronda

21.10.2014

Hi all, thought I should make an update since it’s probably been a while. As per usual with life here, lately I’ve been extremely busy with my job, and have also doing a reasonable amount of stuff during the weekend too. Right now it’s 8.30am and I’ll be starting work from 9.15am and finishing at 6.15pm. After that I will be going out with my friends to a restaurant… probably will not stay out late because I am very tired every day. Going to bed early has become a treat for me, not a punishment as it used to be. I love getting into my warm bed and reading a book… What have I become?

So, work is very busy, that’s nothing new I suppose. From this weekend the week of Halloween themed party lessons begins, and so over the next three days or so I will be quickly trying to do all of the preparations along with doing my usual lessons and admin work. We (my colleague and I) have been here just over two months, and it feels like we started ages and ages ago, but I still feel like there’s so much more I need to learn.

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26.10.2014

I made it through the week, and the first two Halloween parties were successful! What a relief. There are a few more, maybe 4-5 next week. This weekend I hope to rest lots. Today I was a little ill so I stayed in bed until after 11am, a really rare thing for me since lately I’ve been waking up automatically at 6.30am every day.

Written from later in the evening… For the remainder of my day, after finally getting up, I ate some indulgent chocolate corn flakes breakfast with milk (the milk here is really good). I then decided to cycle up the main street where I live to find a pretty river lined with a few super shops and cafes. I was recommended by one of my students to check the area out, and found a shop that I loved. I wanted to buy loads of their stuff, but want to save my money until payday… Unfortunately I didn’t have much time and had to head back home in order to eat lunch and make it to the Halloween event on at the place where I work.

I made pasta with pesto and salad for lunch, a dish that I eat almost any time that I cook (not every day as I often have odd working times), because I am lazy and I still haven’t gotten round to buying that many ingredients. After that, I cycled to work to spend a couple of hours observing, participating in and helping at the event there. It started to get a little cold at around 5pm so I decided to cycle back home, put away some stuff and then head to the train station to wander aimlessly around the shops. At the post office, getting cash out, I ran into two Russian ladies I’d seen before around town (there aren’t many foreigners up here!), so I said hi and chatted to them a bit. We exchanged contact info, and they later added me on facebook. Maybe we can become friends?

Anyway, I headed to the station, taking a quick detour to one of my favourite stationery and homeware shops. I am looking forward to future paydays so that I can buy some of the lovely things from the shop; indoor shoes, letter writing kits, even a few zines – although from a quick look I realised I’d have trouble trying to read the handwritten, tiny Japanese. Worth a shot though, right?

At the station I wandered a little, video called my mum and sister, giving them a tour of the shopping centre. I showed them all the dried squid snacks and curry packs in Muji, along with a couple of my favourite other shops, and then gave them a tour of the underground food section – restaurants and grocery stores. I have to admit now that I went to McDonalds for dinner and had a hamburger… after that I bought a cream puff from Beard Papa’s (strange name, I know) and then decided it would probably be time to head home.

At home I showered and got into my slacker clothes, a pair of black tracksuit bottoms and a men’s jumper I bought super cheap on sale in the UK. I watched the film Fargo with my colleague and now here I am, typing away. I enjoyed Fargo and definitely want to make a point of seeing the TV drama version too. I loved the Minnesotan accents and the snowy bleak landscapes. Steve Buscemi is a cool actor too, although I pretty much disliked all the main characters except for the main police lady and her husband. I felt sorry for the lady who was kidnapped and I felt sorry for the man who pretended his wife had died. I think he needed a good friend, or some talking therapy.

Who would have thought that I could spend so much time writing about a fairly uneventful day? Oh well, no need to worry about whether or not I sound boring, because if I am boring then people simply won’t read this, and I’m fine with that!

I hope to go to bed early tonight, reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, maybe call my boyfriend and my family too, and then wake up nice and early tomorrow. Then, I can take my bike and have a more extensive exploration of the bridge/river area. There’s also a shop I want to check out by the city station, although odds are that I won’t be able to afford any of the products actually there. It’ll be nice to look though. I’ve been avoiding spending money lately, afraid maybe, or simply too self-restrained! I’m trying to loosen up and I would like to do a little bit of shopping tomorrow if I may.

Mini post ☆ ミニポスト

Hello friends.

I’m in bed, about to do some reading. But I thought I’d make a mini post beforehand. It’s my sixth week of work here (or so I believe) and I wanted to write a little update to say what I’ve been up to. This week my parents have been in France and so I have had less time chatting on skype with people from home.

So recently, where to start… Work has been as usual, always challenging and always learning new things. I’ve had several difficult lessons lately that hurt my confidence a bit. But each time or rather each lesson I am learning and improving, I feel. I want to be good at my job. Some of my challenging issues are classroom management, discipline and time management. I’m usually good with time except when there happen to also be disruptive kids, as that slows everything down.

I’m expected to be researching more about my job during free time but since starting I have always found that I’m pretty tired after work and don’t want to do too much requiring thinking. I did listen to a couple of question and answer videos by a well known youtuber called gimmeaflakeman. I’m not really sure why he’s called that but he’s funny and friendly and has a lot of videos about his esl career so I watched a few of those on my day off.

As for the Japanese language and how that’s going, for a while I felt like I was only improving in tiny amounts. But yesterday I finally got back into my kanji (Chinese characters used in Japanese) study and I feel a bit better about my progress. I’ve started studying from a book called Genki 2, very popular among Japanese language learners. It’s mostly been revision for me so far, which is good. It’s helped solidify certain things which my other book left a bit flaky.

… Man this post is dry. Sorry friends. Don’t worry though! One day my posts will be swamped in beautiful drawings and exciting tales and news, or so I hope…

I also managed to find the international centre yesterday, hooray! It is at least a half hour walk from my apartment, not so fun. But it’s in a really fancy, giant building which also has several cafes, an environmental centre, uni library, etc. maybe I’ll take some pictures next time I go there! I signed up to look for a Japanese language supporter to help me study but maybe I will do better to get private lessons once I get paid?

… Yep, I’m counting down the days to pay day and already planning which days I will go out shopping. I have a carefully curated list of items I want to buy including a giant cardigan, leggings, shower mat (actually my shower is broken at the moment but I want to buy the mat in the hopes that one day it’ll be fixed), shoes, more shampoo, lush soap, etc. I’ll probably end up buying a tiny amount of the stuff which I fantasised about since I feel guilty whenever I spend money. We’ll see. Maybe I can take photos of my haul?

Bleh. I should finish soon. Next post will have pictures probably. Hopefully! Lastly I will just say that Broadchurch TV series was great, and I’ve almost finished the anime Durarara, which is pretty good. I’ve also started on American Horror Story season 3. AHS is pretty problematic and very tacky at times. It is like a guilty pleasure. However I appreciate this third season as it’s mostly about women’s stories and interesting lady characters. I think I’ll finish AHS off and then consider resuming Twin Peaks.

As for books, I finished the third book in Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, and am on the final book of the series. I will be so sad when it ends. Luckily I brought my dad’s kindle with me, including 100+ books that I want to read. Tad Williams is also planning writing three more books within the same universe so I’m excited!

Anyway, I’ll go now. Thanks for reading this somewhat blah post, if you managed to get through it that is! I’ll just say this is mostly for my family and the few people who seem to enjoy reading about the mundanities of my life! Lots of love.

E

Settle

Dear friends,

I’ve been in Morioka for about a month now and since I managed to get hooked up to wifi at my apartment finally, I thought it would be a good time to write an update post. I can’t say this is going to be a very picture heavy post at all so I won’t be offended if you don’t stay to read this. But to those who want words and are happy trawling through my long ramblings, thank you for sticking with me! If you are looking for more pictures, less talking, I have posted some sketches I’ve done since arriving in Japan on my regular art tumblr. Also, if you turn your eyes to the left of the site there is my instagram feed. I haven’t posted many personal/Japan photos, just art.

So, this is three or so weeks on from my last post. I have been at work for four weeks and am mostly working independently now, which can be frightening, but I’m getting to grips with it a lot more now. I have a few difficult classes, and teach from age 2 to 90. My work is fairly varied and as I said before, the hours can be a bit weird as it’s a private language school.

I’ve been walking around the city a lot and finding my bearings over the last few weeks. I know where most of the useful places are now. For example, there’s a super shopping centre about an hour and a half’s walk from my house (or a 20 minute journey if I walk to the station and catch a bus). Inside there are lots of nice shops I’ve never heard of, plus Muji, Uniqlo, Baskin’ Robins ice cream and a Mexican themed shop with loads of lovely clothes and accessories. My friend and I also found some good cafes nearby plus a wonderful Italian restaurant.

mexican and/or central american inspired shop front. clothing store within a shopping mall

Mexican/Central American themed shop – sorry if I got the specifics wrong, I don’t know enough about the culture. But I would like to learn more and learn to speak Spanish ><

I still need to find out how to go to the doctors’ surgery if ill and how to get my teeth cleaned by the dentist as I didn’t have time to have a checkup etc. before flying off. I need to find the international centre too, because I’m in serious need of Japanese lessons. My Japanese is very patchy which is a pain, so I have borrowed a text book (Genki 2) from a colleague, but also want to get some lessons to speed up my learning.

I had a few problems with things not quite working in my apartment but I am slowly smoothing those out now. Hmm. I’m not sure what else to update on regarding everyday life…

Oh, lastly, there are several fabric shops around here which makes me feel very happy. The biggest one has a small section dedicated to needle felting, and I have wanted to give it a go for a very long time since my amazing friend inspired me. I managed to budget enough to be able to afford a small starter set this weekend, so I’ve been playing around. This is my first attempt. I found it pretty difficult and I get frustrated easily with craft – probably because I’m so messy but I really admire and want to make cute, clean work – however it was fun and I enjoyed watching the TV series Broad Church while making it. My next needle felt item will be a donut!

needle felt soft sculpture tiny loaf of bread. beige and cream

My attempted needle felted bread loaf.

Anyway, today is my day off (I get Sunday and Monday off) and I am finishing off this blog post and then have some letters to write. After that I just want to slack about now that I have internet, cook my dinner, etc. I started a drawing in my sketchbook which I’d like to finish. I’ll probably take a photo of it very soon for tumblr and instagram. It’s been difficult finding time/motivation to draw much, but I have managed to do a bit every day or two. I don’t have many materials here but I plan to get hold of some more pens and colours after I get paid.

I’m not sure what to say next, so until the next post, goodbye! Thanks so much for reading. If you have any questions about expat stuff or whatever please let me know in the comments.

E

About Time

Dear friends,

Thank you for your patience, it’s been a long while since my last post. The reason for this is that I ended up getting a job teaching English in Morioka, which is in Japan. I knew for quite a while that I would be moving but was reluctant to write about it because I was very nervous and there were also lots of issues sorting out my visa.

But anyway, I’m here. I flew to Tokyo on 11th August and spent three nights at my friends’ apartment. After that I took the very expensive Shinkansen (bullet train) to Mizusawa, where my new boss lives. I spent a couple of nights there with another new teacher from Canada, and then on the 17th we moved into our new apartments on the same block.

I started work on the 19th. Today is the beginning of my second work week. I’m on my lunch break now, sorting out laundry and emails. After this I’ll have a short nap and then in about fifty minutes I’ll start getting ready for work again. I’ll be working til 8.50 pm today. My hours are very varied.

So I guess this is just a short post explaining what’s been going on. What can you expect for the future of this blog? Well, the subject matter will definitely be changing, although I still want to be involved in art. My contract is a year and after that I want to dive into the art world with much more vigour. So I’ll try to keep posting bits and pieces about my life here, for family, friends and whoever else happens to be interested. If you have any questions about moving abroad please just leave a comment and I will answer your questions!

Lastly I did plan on starting a comic based on life here and then ended up being completely overwhelmed. I still have comic plans though so hopefully when things settle down I’ll make it happen. I’ve done some sketches so want to put them up soon. Anyway thank you to all readers xxx

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always with the progress updates

Greetings friends,

hope you all don’t mind but lately I think my blog posts are just going to be continued updates on art and other progress… I write this blog as a sort of record, I would like to make it interesting and helpful for others somehow, though? So not sure what to do. I suppose I’ll share the tutorials and art supply sites I’ve used, as before, and I hope the pictures will make it interesting too… Let’s see… I’m checking my last post to work out what I have done since then. I think I would say the website is mostly all done and waiting for a new series of work before its next update!

Printmaking: As I already said I’m waiting to buy some lino pieces off my art school. Currently the lino pieces I have here are from intaglio printmaker and they are the softcut ones- thin, flexible, creamy coloured. I haven’t really enjoyed using these ones as the lino was a bit slippery, and am hoping to get some mounted lino blocks. I think I’ll be less worried about chopping my fingers off with the more sturdy blocks which will work better with my bench hook.

photo of several pieces of lino carved with two faces and one abstract form which is similar to the gourd vegetablePainting: After ordering myself some paints, paintbrushes and bits and pieces over the last month, I finally coaxed myself into painting yesterday. I tried my hand at painting a portrait of my friend, and I am fairly happy with the result. I often have the issue of the eyes being wonky in a portrait and I’m sad to say it happened for this one but overall I think it was a good first attempt after several years of avoiding painting out of fear of failure. Last night I started on a second canvas, this time without a photo reference, but I have a feeling I may scrap it.

I’m trying to get to grips with the medium and read some tips and so on on the internet, along with that I’m just experimenting with the paints. I get pretty impatient waiting for layers to dry though, which usually ends up in me trying to paint over too soon and ruining it and having to wait and then repaint the section.

Illustrator: Thanks to skillshare offering a month free subscription to people who signed up for a prize draw, I can now start my forays into Adobe Illustrator. For several months I’ve had my eye on a couple of the courses offered and I’m happy to be able to begin them now. I’m currently looking at “Master the Basics of Adobe Illustrator to Create Awesome Illustrations” by Julian Burford and I feel like I’ve learned a lot. Another course I’d like to do is about combining usage of Photoshop and Illustrator and that’s by Lydia Nichols. I thought I’d wait for a while before starting that one so that I could learn the fundamentals of Illustrator beforehand.

mac screenshot of a poster made in adobe illustrator featuring a girl in a space suit against a dark sky

Attempt at adobe illustrator – still in the sketching phase, next stop is the pen tool!

By the way, here is a link to a free month of skillshare if anyone is interested.

Actually, I just saw an advert in the paper today about summer courses at the London art colleges. I’m tempted to take a design based course in order to challenge myself AND improve my job prospects. They are usually several hundred pounds but fortunately I’ve saved a fair amount of money through my part time work.

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Anyway, woah okay this blog post is getting a bit long so we’ll leave it at that. As for the game design we’re having a meeting tonight and maybe I’ll make a separate post regarding my progress. I have improved a lot on the game design stuff!

As ever, thanks for reading and take care, feel free to comment and share cool tutorials, links, shout at me or whatever. x