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 🙂

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 on 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!

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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 variants 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 🙂 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 my knitting) and using that during my free time instead.

self manifesto

It’s been a year since I started working in the games industry, and during this time I’ve started to look at my work more critically. I want to improve my fundamental drawing skills and I hope that in a few more years I can specialise in visual development/concept art. So, a month ago or so I started to think about creating a little manifesto for myself – after talking with a coworker who wanted to clone himself for productivity and make a manifesto for his clones.

I’m generally wary of things like new year’s resolutions and drastic measures so my manifesto is a little gentler and pretty flexible. I’m still working on it as I know I need to factor in my job and also time to ‘relax’ (ha ha ha).

At present I already make a point of drawing almost every day (usually every day unless there’s some giant social commitments like weddings to attend… actually I drew at the last wedding I went to) and have managed to keep up with some Japanese. If I have a weekend free I will spend at least a day working on digital art related things (illustrations, masters study, photo study, artwork for our games) and I feel like I learn a lot during these days. Still, there’s a colossal amount more to learn and there always will be!

Things I want to do:

  • draw every day
  • try to work on 3DS Max tutorials a little each week
  • work on video game projects with the dirty casuals every weekend during which I’m not travelling around the UK
  • keep up with Japanese revision
  • Japanese grammar study either in class or at home when I have no class

Things to play around with sometime:

  • mech
  • male characters
  • architecture
  • material studies (feather, honey, skin, etc.)
  • facial features studies
  • knitting
  • find the motivation to do drawabox.com in its entirety (cannot put this in the above list yet because I do not yet trust myself to fight on with this project!)
  • zbrush
  • water in landscapes
  • interiors – 3d space – perspective

Updates, Christmas, Artists to look at

Hi friends, as usual it’s been a while. I thought I’d share some updates on my projects, plus some sketches I did today, and a list of artists who were recommended by Audrey Kawasaki on some instagram account (an online art gallery? I can’t remember which) – I wanted to list them to share the awesomeness of these artists, but also I want to make sure I don’t lose their names!

Updates

  • CalamityNow that I have an OK level command of 3D modelling and texturing, I’m starting to go through the old models that I made while learning 3D, and I am remodelling and texturing them. I am also building up a test level as I go. We are hoping to apply to show our game at indie games development conventions so I will let you all know more as time progresses. I’m also updating our game’s redbubble shop with stickers and other bits.
  • Music: I finally picked up my saxophone after a long time (years) of not playing. I am going to attempt to be in a band. We had our first meeting yesterday, so I will need to work out pieces to play for each song, and I must get back up to speed with playing and sounding OK at least. More information about this as it develops!
  • Job: Work’s going well, we’re currently making a rally style racing game which will be released in March 2016!
  • Craft: I’m hoping to start crafting again. I would like to give my little shop a renewal at some point, so that I can get sewing again. I’m feeling really inspired by thebeastpeddler on tumblr, I have bought myself one of their plushies! Please check them out if you like cute, dark plushies.
  • Painting: In my spare time I have been trying to keep up with digital painting. I have been working on more finished pieces, as I usually end up just sketching stuff quickly so that I can post it faster. I must be more patient! You can see my latest painting below!

digitally created painting of a male character with 2 horns and purple skin, with a background of flowers (possibly carnations)

Christmas Sketches

I wasn’t going to send Christmas cards, but then I got a few, so I made these quick cards to give out. I made some spares in case, too 🙂

Artist List

Pictures from my birthday

This post I guess is more for personal/posterity reasons, but anyway I thought I would share a few things from the time around my birthday (19th January). Wanna catch up with what I’m doing art-wise? You can find some recent drawings on my tumblr. Most of my drawings done in Japan are using cheap felt tips and cheap pens since I don’t want to spend too much on art supplies, which would take up space/be a pain to transport.

5 packs of white hot chocolate mix, 1 pack of raspberry hot chocolate mix, photographed on my bed

My kind coworker bought me some delicious hot chocolate mix from the import food store and gave these to me a few days before my birthday. These are from Italy I think and they are lovely. I buy them from time to time for when I finish my workday.

photograph from 4th floor of apartment building, the view is of a snowy city residential area

On my birthday I decided to head out for a wander and it was very snowy.

2015/01/img_0195.jpg2015/01/img_0196.jpg

hamburger with avocado and salad

I really like the hamburger chain here: Freshness Burger.

photo of a lurcher (dog) on video chat (iphone facetime)

I got the chance to speak to my family and caught a screenshot of my dog.

photo of a mug which bears the slogan 'good luck' along with gold polka dots. In the background there is a laptop and another, smaller mug which contains stationery

I got a cute mug for my birthday from my lovely friend, perfect for drinking tea. I only just got into drinking milk tea after getting to Japan. Maybe my new love for milk tea has come hand in hand with my newly discovered patriotism…

photo of steamed rare cheesecake

This is my new favourite thing lately: steamed rare cheesecake from the bakery near the station. It only costs 170 yen (£1) and is soft, spongy and delicious. I love it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photograph of a table at a yakiniku (Korean BBQ meat) restaurant. There are 2 plates of meat, 1 bowl of rice, 1 plate of sauce and some other plates without food on them yet

My kind coworker strikes again! On the evening of my birthday we went to a yakiniku restaurant and I tried gyuutan (grilled beef tongue) for the first time. It was alright but not something I would order for myself. I myself ordered karubi – apparently short ribs according to wikipedia. It was super tender and yummy. Oh man, I feel guilty for posting meat on my blog. I still want to be vegetarian. I’m sorry I’m not making a good go of that! For the record, I usually don’t cook meat at home but once I go out this (possibly) evil meat eating beast emerges from within and orders whatever… (please don’t consider me criticising anyone who eats meat, it’s a choice!)

photo of a yakiniku (Korean BBQ meat) grill in the centre of the restaurant table. 3 pieces of meat are currently being cooked on the grill

Our last photo of the yakiniku grill. Not much to say here except that yakiniku restaurants are fun and I enjoy being able to BBQ it however I like. I’m glad we got to go on Monday 19th since we hadn’t been for a long long time.

 

Well, that’s my mini-photo haul. I hope that it was interesting for some of you! Now, it’s Monday 26th. I’m on my day off and tomorrow I’ll be back at work (I do Tues-Sat).

I’m feeling the urge for mini steamed cheesecake now so I might take that opportunity to cycle to the train station… Or perhaps I’ll stay home, haven’t decided yet. Should probably stay home since I need to save my 8000 yen in my wallet to pay my lovely coworker for the internet. Otherwise I’ll have to draw out more money… gah… cheesecake.

double-trouser weather

Hi friends,

It’s been a while; my first post since November. December was a super busy month as I had to help out as usual at the kindergarten, plus I also had to prepare my own Christmas party lessons for my students. I worked until 20th December, and after my final shift I packed, and my coworker and I took the night bus to Tokyo. The next day, we had our flights to the UK. I had a transfer in Copenhagen, which I thought would be 11 hours. Turns out that I had not really read my ticket properly and it was actually 15 hours overnight. I wandered around for the first few hours looking at all the nice food in Copenhagen airport. Then I holed up in a corner of the transfer lounge on a crickety sofa with my blanket and tried to sleep while many people walked past staring, airport buggies drove past and occasionally parked right next to me.

But anyway, I finally got to the UK eventually and was able to spend 9 days with my family before returning to Japan. I got to Japan on 1st January and my coworker and I spent a night in Tokyo. We got the chance to explore Shinjuku (probably fashionable or something), Akihabara (electronics and stuff for people who are very very into anime) and Ginza (crowded, expensive place for window shopping). Now I’m back in Morioka (cold, Northern place) and I start work tomorrow.

As expected, it’s cold here and there’s some snow… but it’s not too bad. Not as bad as it was in December. Today the sky is clear blue and I can even walk around without my coat zipped up. That’ll probably change soon though, I’m sure. In my post before last I was celebrating ‘trouser weather’, but now we’ve reached a point of ‘double-trouser weather’, and maybe we will even reach ‘triple-trouser weather’ soon. I’m not really looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to March when hopefully it’ll start to get warmer. I miss not wearing heavy clothing, and I miss not spending money on heating. The winter months are going to be expensive since a tank of kerosene costs £10 and I’m not sure how long one will last me…

I don’t have that many updates for you all, since I have been off work and resting at home lately, but by tomorrow I expect my life will become hectic once more. I’ve been keeping my tumblr mostly up to date with my drawings and so on, so for the art front you can find all the stuff there. Today, I suppose, is mostly just a regular, everyday life kind of post that probably only my family (and a handful of strange friends) will be interested in. But I’m okay with that!

I suppose I should talk about my new years resolutions. Of course, we all make loads of resolutions and then they all flake away in January. Maybe we hold out to February, even. And some brave souls even manage to keep up their resolutions throughout the year. At least we can see how far I get. I have a few but I have tried to keep them very easy for myself.

  • Work hard and survive at my job, try to be as good as I can possibly be – but of course without burning myself out.
  •  Once I eventually return to the UK I want to give a proper go at working towards being an artist. I don’t expect to be able to be a full-time artist or anything like that, but I hope that I will get my shop going, keep drawing regularly and try to take part in more cons, competitions and so on.
  • Make soap. This is perhaps a strange one but I would really like to try making soap, because it seems like fun and I like things that smell good.
  • Try to save money every month by sending some of my wages into my English bank account. I already do this, but I want to keep doing it, because I would prefer not to be broke once I am in the UK.
  • Try to do stretches before bed. I am bad with anything to do with exercise, and healthy things. I reckon that if I have ‘do exercise’ as a resolution, it won’t happen, but maybe I can at least start, get 1% there, by beginning to do stretches. I know it sounds very tiny and simple but I have never exercised regularly in my own free time before so… baby steps.

Anyway I hope everyone had a great new year and I hope that 2015 works out well for us all. Let me know if you have any resolutions too 🙂

Yuucho blogging

Hi all.

11.20AM

I’m just in the bank (name: yuucho). It’s my day off. I’m attempting to send a little bit of my money here back to England so that I can put it away for savings. To do this I got a form to fill in, on which I made multiple mistakes (as I do with English forms too since I seem to often forget which field to fill in and put stuff in the wrong place). I just got called up to negotiate the amount to send back as well as to hear about the fee for the transfer. The lady also said some other stuff but I can’t say that I totally understood. I think it’ll be ok! Wouldn’t be good to have my £500 floating around in nowhere land. I’ll need it at some point for plane tickets or something.

I feel pretty wary about handling my money, budgeting, and unsure how much emergency cash to keep here. I’m probably weird about it all since this is the first time I’ve been truly financially independent. Anyway, it’s the tenth today so it’ll be another eighteen days until payday, so not too long I don’t think. I will be fine until then and will hopefully have some more money spare at the end of the month, too…

12.10PM

I spent about half an hour or so here just going back and forth between the desk. Then the post office people said that I needed an IBAN code, so I had to cycle home and rush to find it on the HBSC website (their guide to finding the code on their internet banking site was outdated of course), and now I’m back here waiting again to get my money sent over. The post office is a lot more busy now, lots of murmuring and friendly elderly people about. One lady talking to me about an expensive-looking umbrella left by the seats.

Oh hooray, I’ve been called up!

I talked to the lady. I think it’s all ok. Just waiting again now. I asked about fees and with ゆうちょ銀行 (yuucho ginkou), the fee is ¥2500 (£14) to send and also I think my bank might take £5 too. Just gonna have to wait and see. And then see if I ever want to do it again. I hope HSBC are nice and don’t decide to sap my money 😦

I finished the whole process at 12.30pm.

Anyway, aside from all the money talk… This weekend has again been pretty busy. On Saturday after work my colleague and I decided to be lazy and eat at Freshness Burger, a chain fast food place. After that we had a brief bout of shopping since she had discovered some cheap fleece tights in a store (which later turned out to slip down all the time while wearing).

On the way home we discovered a group of other foreigners, a couple of whom we had already met before. We chatted and were promptly persuaded to join them at an izakaya. There was 飲み放題, all you can drink, for ¥3000 (£16.50) plus various free dishes to share. The dishes included pizza covered with salad, pasta, soup and also some chicken which was pretty much raw. It tasted how I imagined it to taste – not something I enjoyed that much, I don’t think I’d eat it again! Anyway, it was nice to meet and chat with people from America, the UK, Ireland, and some lovely Japanese acquaintances too. I hope we can meet them again.

On Sunday, the weather was bleak and grey. I ended up waking up early automatically, at 7.30. I can’t remember what I did, really… Oh. I went out to the shops although I can’t remember what for. But on the top floor of Kawatoku department store, I made the lovely discovery of a food event featuring loads of stalls from Hokkaido. As I made my way around the 7th floor, I was handed many, many samples of cheesecake. The food was a little on the pricey side for me so I focused on getting as many samples as possible before returning home.

 

When I got home, I cooked some risotto and ate together with my coworker, while watching The Darjeeling Limited. I really enjoyed the film but then also was wondering if there are any films of Wes Anderson’s where the protagonist is female. I remembered the girl in Moonrise Kingdom as well as Margot in The Royal Tenenbaums. I think perhaps his films are pretty good when compared with other contemporary Hollywood films. I’m not sure though, and perhaps this is a thought to continue on another day!

I forced my coworker to come back to the food stalls with me again and we did a second wander, together, and bought a couple of sweet treats. The event ends tomorrow though so I really want to go and at least buy something significant, since I don’t know when or if there will be another.

12.45PM

Risotto with parmesan cheese

I know I’m supposed to make food pictures look good and stuff but I was never one for presentation. Anyway, it tasted good, I promise. Lots of chilli, some carrot, some left over tofu (I know, not a regular ingredient but I needed to use it up), lots of mushrooms, garlic and more.

I’m just eating up my leftover risotto for lunch but after that I am very tempted to make a quick trip to the aforementioned fair and buy some cheesecake. There was also this strange stall that had pumpkin flakes which could be mixed with milk to make a delicious soup. Since it has pumpkin in it it feels like it has the illusion of being healthy, although I doubt that it actually is ;_; It tasted too good to be healthy.

Later on today, I have a 1 hour lesson to teach, and then my coworker and I are meeting a friend for ramen. After that, who knows? We were going to go for karaoke although I’m not sure if that’s the plan anymore. I would quite like to retire at home and play World of Warcraft for 2 hours, read some Jane Austen and get loads of sleep in time for another busy week ahead.

Art

I hope you all don’t mind, I haven’t been blogging so much about art lately, mainly about life here, since it’s all so different and there are many new experiences constantly happening. That is not to say I’ve stopped drawing though, far from it! I try to update my instagram account with artwork whenever I can, which you can find on the sidebar to the left. I have been drawing more than usual this week and am fairly pleased to feel that I haven’t regressed too much.

drawing of a girl with short brown hair and blue facepaint lines across her cheeks, with a halo of grey smoke around her head

Thanks everyone for reading my blog!