Drawing and art blocks

Here’s the truth about beating an art block: Drawing really is the best cure for it. Or whatever your medium is: writing, sculpting, music-making, baking…whatever your art is. If you’re blocked, do the thing you can’t do.

When I first read that, I was really annoyed. “BUT…ALL THESE THINGS!” I would broadly point to all the mind-clutter that was accumulating in my head. “I can’t create anything under this mindset!”

I almost didn’t write this post. I thought that sharing about having art blocks would damage my brand as an illustrator. Life is not always easy as “Just sit down and draw!” The truth is, I dealt with a lot this summer in my personal life, and it’s really hard to give yourself a pep talk about drawing every day when you’re really sad about things that are sad. I’m not alone; many writers and illustrators wrote about their struggles to reach their creative brains because they were dealing with major life events. It’s not all sunsets on the porch with glasses of raspberry lemonade while drawing butterflies. That truth seems important to share.

This is how I overcame my artist’s block: I made a commitment to draw every day. And then I got a migraine that lasted for four days. So I slept a lot.  I recommitted to drawing everyday, and ate some ice cream. Then I sat down to draw and my computer decided to take THREE HOURS to update. But I had pencils, pens, and paper. And finally…after a really long time of staring at my wall,  I started to draw.

“This is awful.” I grumbled to myself. “This is going to be the worst drawing ever. Why am I even doing this?”

About halfway through drawing this cat, my brain finally became quiet. I was focused on drawing and felt this relaxation in my body as my hands became more comfortable and my shoulders loosened up.

tired kitten

“That cat’s okay, I guess.” I muttered and then posted it on Instagram. I ate more ice cream and then sat down to draw again.

The next day I sat down and said to myself “Oh geez, this again.” and the pencil felt stiff in my hands as I started drawing bunnies. “Stupid bunnies. Stupid drawing.. Hey…this bunny kinda looks worried. Hmmmm. Maybe this bunny looks grumpy” and I stopped criticizing my drawing and started thinking “Then this bunny said “What’s going on? And the other bunny frowns and says “I don’t know but I don’t like it!”” Or “Get off my lawn!” or “MAYBE THEY’RE LOOKING FOR THEIR LOST BABY BUNNY!!” and I forgot to be so critical of myself. Once again, I got lost in the drawing, and lost in the story of the bunnies. I posted this to instagram and ate some ice cream.

Bunnies inked.JPG

Then a day or two after that I sat down to draw baby goats. “I like goats.” I thought, found my reference and decided these two were silly friends who never took anything seriously. “Kids these days…” and I giggled as I drew their silly expressions, happy to see some personality coming through. After I posted these on Instagram, I realized that I didn’t experience any dread or critical thoughts.

kidding around

Today I woke up and thought “What will I draw today?”  and I thought about all the different things I could draw. I ate some ice cream and thought “PIGS!” I felt impatient to get to work and draw this row of piggies. Are they nice pigs? Are they mean pigs? Are they excited pigs? ALL these piggies and I thought of them saying “Me first! No I’m first” You’re squishing me!”

pushypiggies

These piggies were fun to draw. I had more fun giving them expressions and thinking about their personalities. I think I could’ve pushed it more, and I think “What if I…” and I know I’m ready to go back to work.

I knew that drawing would break a block, but I never thought about how not drawing can create the block in the first place. If you’re an artist, make art. That’s the lesson I learned this summer. I’m going to continue these daily drawings to share with you, in addition to sneak peeks at some larger projects I’m working on. Thank you for letting me share my journey through an art block with you. I hope if you are stuck in one too, this helps you. It took a few days, and a lot of bad sketching, and a lot of ice cream, but I’m ready to make art!

I talked a lot about instagram. I post a lot there. Here’s a link to follow me!

Sketches and Studios

Hiya everyone! Well, it’s August, the time of year when I say “Hey, remember when were were cold all the time? Was that so bad?”

Has everyone had a nice summer so far? Mine has had some really nice moments. A LOT of visiting relatives, so plans for getting lots of work done went right out the window. BUT there was a lot of quality family time and lasting memories made. A friend of mine said that I’ll never look back and say “Remember that summer when I got a lot of work done?” but that I will say “Remember that summer when lots of family visited? ” and I agree with her. This was definitely a memorable summer.

But now, it’s time to get back to work, and I’m REALLY EXCITED about it. For a while my broken drawing table was being used as a printer stand but I’ve rearranged some things so it’s now clear for drawing. It still won’t tilt upwards, and I’ll need to replace it someday, but I’m happy to have my dedicated drawing space back. My studio now houses my digital painting stuff, my traditional drawing tools, and my keyboard to just play music when I get blocked. This is my happy place, and I find I’m really excited to get to it. So off I go!! Have a wonderful day!

happy

my happy place

Autumn Loves Summer

Summer and Autumn are my favorite seasons. I love summertime because it’s HOT. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know how much I hate being cold. It’s great to be hot!

One of my favorite parts of summer is that there are more fluffy clouds and sunny skies. In winter, the sky is usually grey, grey, grey. I love sunshine!

some beautiful sunsets and a rainbow!

Yes, I am still drawing and working. I will be back to posting on a regular basis starting in August. Right now, I’m working on dummies and some fun projects. Also, I have a lot of family visiting throughout the summer, and I’ve really enjoyed spending time with them. I’m fully taking advantage of the slower summer pace.

I hope y’all are enjoying your summer and I’ll see you again in August! Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

The Time Management Post

I laugh as I type this because this is the third draft of a time-management post that I meant to post a month ago, but didn’t because I either didn’t have time or the scheduled posting didn’t work. So how am I to write about time management? That’s just silly.

So instead of sharing some great wisdom, I thought I would share my mistakes and obstacles.

  1. Not keeping a planner/diary. When I write down what I have coming up in the next few months, and take time to plan out my week, I tend to remember appointments better. Also, I get a clearer picture of how my time is spent so I can prioritize my to-do list, which is also written in my planner. When I misplaced my planner for a few weeks, I forgot about appointments, emails waiting responses, and important items on my to-do list. I eventually found it in my suitcase I took to the conference, and I will not say I didn’t give it a little hug.
  2. Not taking a break.  I was really productive for two weeks. I got SO much done around the house, in my work, and I felt really GOOD. But then one day, I was so tired. And the next day, I was really tired. I went from feeling mighty to exhausted. A friend of mine said “When did you take a day off last. I think you need to schedule one soon. Today” So I took a couple of days off, read some books and she was right. I felt really good after a couple days off, and I had the energy to get things done again. Now I try to remember to end the day with something fun and relaxing.
  3. Avoiding tasks. I avoided painting the bathroom wall for a month. Soon it took over my thoughts and I finally painted it, and it was so easy. I would’ve saved myself a lot of worry if I had just done it a month ago. Right now I’m avoiding doing my ab workout. Ugh. I know I’m going to do it right after this.
  4. Trying to do too much at once. I am guilty of having 20 things on my to-do list right now. I can usually get about three things done a day, but some days, I can only get one done. When I forget this, I plan to do 7 things, and then I get overwhelmed and stare out the window for an hour. So now, I’m back to keeping my to-dos for the day on a short list. My master to-do list is never-ending. NEVER ENDING.  Going along with that, doing too much at once. I think most of us accept multi-tasking isn’t really realistic. I get so much more done when I take my time, focus on what I’m doing and then move onto the next thing. Distracted days, I end up with 7 projects in various states of not done.

 

Those are some of my time management mistakes. I think with time management, stress management is really important too. If you’re taking too much on at once, or you’re avoiding something, that’s stressful. I think time management and stress management are closely linked.

Next week, I’ll get back to sharing some art. I’m working on some fun projects and I’m excited to share them with you! Have a great weekend

 

The NESCBWI Conference

Almost a month later, I have written down my thoughts about the New England SCBWI conference and after a few attempts, I thought “What is the one thing people really want to know about these events?”

  1. What should I expect if I go?
  2. Was it worth it? Would you go again?

If you are considering your conference schedule for next year and trying to decide where you want to go, I highly recommend the NESCBWI spring conference. There are a wide variety of workshops and sessions to choose from, so if you’re a seasoned pro just looking to socialize and learn some techniques, this is great. Or if you’re completely new and need to learn SCBWI 101 and how publishing really works, this is a great conference. The sessions are great, and you can really pick and choose how you spend your time. You can also plan introvert breaks and during the registration select that you won’t be attending a session time.

The size of the group is large. You’re looking at about 500 people, give or take 50. This is a great size group for meeting new people, making friends, but not feeling overwhelmed by the huge numbers that show up to the international conferences in New York and Los Angeles.

Professional opportunities were plentiful at this conference. Attendees could meet with an agent, editor or art director and get critiques for portfolios, dummies, manuscripts. There were opportunities for a career consultation, and for illustrators, a portfolio showcase and illustration challenge. One evening featured a Pitch-a-palooza, where authors were randomly selected to pitch a book for one minute, and get feedback from a panel of agents and editors. Again, there’s potential to be signed by an agent here.

You can expect to talk a lot during the weekend. Staying hydrated is essential, and taking a break now and then is good. It’s better to miss a session and recharge a bit than to power through and be exhausted. You want to be at your best during this professional event, even if the dress code is more casual🙂

Is it worth it? Yes. I think so. I would recommend if you are going to travel to a conference to travel to a regional one like the NESCBWI before attending the two biggies in NYC and LA, because it’s still a LOT to take in without being overwhelming. However, don’t let this deter you from diving into registering for the LA conference in August.

What are some of your favorite regional conferences?

 

 

 

 

My favorite travel books

When I went to the New York SCBWI conference in 2015, I read the Jinx trilogy by Sage Blackwood. It’s a wonderful middle grade fantasy book and it begins when our main character steps off the Path into the dangerous wood of the Urwald.

What if you ventured somewhere outside of your comfort zone? What if you learned that there were other possibilities for your life? What if you discovered you had unique gifts? What if you decided to be brave?

Traveling to a new area to meet new people is uncomfortable. It’s incredibly stressful, but that’s part of why I enjoy reading about Jinx’s adventures so much. He often chooses the path that isn’t comfortable, and things happen. Which is better than nothing happening at all. It’s not much of a story if nothing happens. So I find comfort and inspiration in Sage Blackwood’s storytelling. Comforted by the writing, inspired to be a little brave. When I felt nervous, I could just pull out my kindle and read a few chapters and say “There aren’t even any were-chipmunks here. I can handle this!”

Plus, Sage herself is so nice! She’s really cool to follow along on Twitter, and you can hear the different characters sometimes in her voice. So I might be biased in that regard, but it’s still my favorite go-to reading when I travel.

Do you have a favorite book to read while you travel?

Find out more about Sage

(you won’t regret it! It’s a great trilogy!)

Packing for a Weekend Conference

I obsessed over what to pack for the NESCBWI conference for a couple of weeks. Normally when I travel, I pack everything into my High Sierra Swerve backpack, and for conferences I add my Emma Fox bag because it zips shut and my portfolio fits in it beautifully. I like having everything with me, and there’s something comforting about my backpack. I can’t explain it. When I don’t have a conference, I try to fit everything in JUST that backpack, and it’s so easy to travel that way.

But for this conference, I ran out of room. My bags were so stuffed and heavy, and I had 3 hour layovers to lug all that stuff around. I sighed, and decided to check a bag.

What I packed

  • 3 tops. One for Friday and Saturday and one just in case. I stuck with a black and white theme for clothes except for one colorful blouse that I LOVE.
  • Black slacks
  • Nice yoga pants (these could be used for slacks if needed)
  • black cardigan.
  • Pajamas
  • Underwear (one for each day and a spare)
  • Compression socks, a pair for each day. I wear compression socks when I travel on the plane, but I also like wearing them for the conference because it’s a lot of sitting and standing and not a lot of moving.
  • extra b-r-a
  • ballet flats (I never wore these!)
  • flip-flops for the hotel room and shower
  • extra comfy black sketchers go walks. I wore these all the time!
  • Curling iron
  • Hair creme
  • contacts, eye drops
  • Face lotion
  • vitamins and airborne
  • Painkillers
  • Zantac
  • My portfolio
  • Business cards
  • Promo post cards
  • stickers
  • pens and pencils
  • sketchbooks ( I bought moleskin cashier sketchbooks, they’re small but handy!)
  • peppermints
  • my favorite tea
  • Kindle
  • Phone
  • Chargers and wires
  • Headphones
  • Earplugs
  • Sudoku puzzle book
  • iPod
  • wallet-cards cash ID
  • travel documents, receipts, boarding passes, confirmation printouts

What I wore on the plane:

  • yoga pants
  • comfy black blouse
  • black and white cardigan
  • raincoat
  • tennis shoes
  • book bag

I fit almost everything in my portfolio bag. I rolled my clothes and stuck then in packing cubes, and then put the packing cubes in my emma fox bag and put that in my suitcase. In my book bag went a pair of socks and underwear, my professional stuff like portfolio and cards, and my entertainment. In my 311 bag I packed the eye drops and contacts, and I had loads of room for my raincoat once I was inside. I also carried with me painkillers and zantac, and the peppermints. I get motion sickness when we hit turbulence, so Zantac and peppermint saves the day.

Though I didn’t use everything (ballet flats, extra yoga pants and shirt) I was glad I had it. Things I wish I had packed were more Zantac, a sewing kit, and a scarf to use as a pillow on the plane.

And I admit that checking a bag was really nice. I didn’t have to gate check my bag because I only had my backpack, and it was nice to walk around with a light load instead of lugging everything around. And I got to jazz up my bag with green duct tape so I could tell it apart from all the black bags. I highly recommend it. But not lime green okay? That’s MY bag. (just kidding)

 

 

 

 

Returning from #NESCBWI16

This weekend, I went to Springfield, MA for the New England Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators conference. While I was there, I kept thinking “I can’t wait to blog about this!”

I met all sorts of lovely people, made some new friends, and got to see a lot of online friends in person for the first time. How exciting! The only downside is that I missed late Saturday and Sunday activities thanks to a Stomach Bug. I will say that if you have to fly home and have a stomach bug, Zantac is your friend. It’s the only thing that settled my stomach long enough to survive the flights home.

I’m very happy to be home, not sick anymore, and back to a regular work schedule. Preparing for a conference was very distracting, and now I can fully focus on moving forward. Also, now I can finally clean my closet so my purses don’t fall on my head anymore. But that’s another topic…

Over the next few weeks, I’m going back to sharing more of my sketches, and will also break down the conference experience, from getting ready to recovering afterwards. I’m also going to talk about time management, and some lessons I learned the hard way over the last couple months. I hope you’ll join in, and share your thoughts on each post in the comments as we move forward!