Author: Angela S.

Exalted Art Challenge – Collection 1 – Fave Caste, Regional Fashion, etc.

I’ve posted the first compilation of concept sketches and creative notes for the Exalted Art Challenge for my Patreon Patrons, if anyone’s curious to check out some Behind the Scenes exploration a month ahead of everyone else.

Talking Gem city fashion, personalizing Caste marks, and more in this entry!

Find the collection here:

Secret Sketchbook – The Woven Path’s Temperance Part 1 – Research and Inspiration

Enjoy an exclusive Patrons-only look at my creative notes & more for my version of the Temperance card for the upcoming Woven Path Tarot deck we’re putting together over at the Changeling Artist Collective!

This article includes my mood boards, research sources, materials list, etc. for thumbnailing & inspiration. May it be useful and inspiring for others pursuing their own Tarot inspirations!

Once you’ve pledged any amount to my Patreon, you can read the article here. Every bit of support helps me to keep doing what I love!

September 2020 – Website Re-launch, Positive Vibes, & Upcoming Fun!

Cross-posted from my blog

This year has been an odd one, to say the least, and I can’t believe we’re already 9 months into it!  The trend of re-centering myself and taking things slower continued in September with a month that was filled with biz maintenance tasks and exploring a new project in the Tarot vein, something I’ve always wanted to do!

I miss seeing all of my kindred spirits at conventions, but I admit to enjoying this extra time I have to update that old website, take stock of all the art I have around here that hasn’t made it into my shop yet, and other important things that never seemed to get done when I was rushing from deadline to deadline.

All in all, the big positive I’m taking away from this year is that despite not having conventions, I’ve made some great strides in improving my online presence as well as giving myself important rest time that I had been meaning to take for way too long!  Kev and I are happy and healthy and that is a blessing in and of itself.

As we move into next month, I feel such a swell of relief that I am taking October to truly focus on art themes that I have pushed to the side for years now!  I love my Birthstone Goddesses, but I have sorely needed this complete break from the subject matter so I can return to the final leg of my journey with them refreshed later.

New Website Launch!

For those who missed the posts, my Art Nouveau site has gotten a complete makeover!  I’ve retooled the entire website and menu so you can easily find all of my collections and explore the art process for my pieces within!

Coming in October

I’m so very excited to indulge my geeky muse with a tabletop RPG-inspired Art Challenge featuring the cool world of Exalted in October!  I’ll be active on my Patreon’s Discord community sharing sketches, inspirations, and thoughts.  I also have a section dedicated to Art Challenges, if any Patrons would like to join me there during this busy creative month!  

You can read more about Exalted, the Challenge I’m doing, plus see a few teases of art here.

I’ll also still have a coloring page release for my $5+ Patrons, so stay tuned.

Digest of September’s Posts

New Rewards Added in September

  

Are any of you taking on a creative challenge in October?  I’d love to hear about it!  I’m always keeping a list of challenges, since they have been proven to be excellent ways for me to jumpstart my muse and have proven to be good mental/creative breaks in the past.  (See my Monster Girls)

I’m so excited for next month! I can’t wait to share and hope you will enjoy the diversion as well.  I know you all come for the Birthstone Goddesses, but I hope you’ll stay for the gunslinging demigod ladies (at least for a little while)!

More soon,

♥ Ang

Introducing My October Exalted Art Challenge!

Cross-posted from my Patreon blog

The time is neigh, my October Art Challenge approaches!  So far, this year has been about allowing myself to rest and recuperate while also letting my muse off the chain to wander different paths for awhile.  The next excursion is going to be with the Exalted Art Challenge that I created with the Exalted RPG Discord community!

For those who don’t know Exalted, it’s a tabletop roleplaying game much like Dungeons & Dragons where you get to become a character with epic-level powers!  It features a world full of mystical places, vengeful gods, and faerie creatures with a rich tapestry of lore to explore.  Its roots in non-Western mythology have made it one of my favorite worlds to play in on my days off!

I’ve even drawn illustrations and written many words for a story set in this universe entitled The Uncrucified.  I’ve been sorely missing the characters from this story and wanted to get back into the mood of creating in this universe by challenging myself to a list of 31 art topics inspired by this fantastic setting!  I expect many characters from my storyworld to show up for this art challenge.

 

I know many of these topics don’t make sense to non-players, but I hope to introduce you to them with a bit of explanation and art to go along with each one!  In fact, enjoy a little sneak peek of thumbnail sketches for a few of the topics for a taste:

 

 

Patreon-Only Sneak Peeks!

Because my Patrons are the coolest, I wanted you guys to feel special during this event!  You’ll be getting Patreon-Exclusive Early Access to my collection of exploratory sketches with my thoughts and notes on the topics each week , while the finished paintings and prose will be shared at The Uncrucified’s project blog.  A compilation of the finished art will be posted here on Patreon once I’ve completed all topics! 

For those keeping up on my Patreon Discord Server, I’ll be sharing the sketches as they happen in my Ang’s Sketchbook channel as well!  (Read here for instructions on how to join my Discord Server dedicated to my Patrons and fans)

The Goal

I’m hoping by doing this event I can create more art in the TTRPG vein which is work I’d like to do more of in the future to channel my long-time passion for gaming!  I also plan to experiment with an expressive painterly digital style, since I have been so married to detailed tight line work for a long time now!  

With luck, I can finish all the topics in a month, though I won’t be too hard on myself if I can’t finish one a day.  The big goal is to remember how to play with art again and enjoy the process more than perfectionism!

I hope you all are ready for the ride!  I’m excited to see what happens during this hugely experimental time.  Are there any Exalted players here?  Sound off in the comments!  If you’re an artist who loves the game, I invite you to do this challenge with me and share in my Patreon Discord in the dedicated Art Challenges channel!  I’d love to see what you all might do for this list!

More soon.  I can’t wait to begin!

♥ Ang

[ Secret Sketchbook ] Website Redesign Part 3 – Galleries

This 3rd part in my Website Redesign series discusses how to improve the online art-browsing experience and optimizing artists websites for usability, beauty, and discovery.  Join me as I explore how to optimize my old Angelic Shades site into a new form with improved galleries that encourage exploration and allow the art to truly shine!

Pledge any amount on Patreon to access to this article.  Every little bit helps me to keep doing what I love!

[Secret Sketchbook] Website Redesign Part 2 – The Index Page

Part 2 of my Website Redesign series continues!  I discuss the importance of each section on an artist website’s front page, the purpose of the site, and other best practices.  All while using my old and new website design as a visual aid.

Pledge any amount on Patreon to access to this article.  Every little bit helps me to keep doing what I love!

[Secret Sketchbook] Angelic Shades Website Redesign Part 1

With the world of conventions basically cancelled and my insane Kickstarter schedule finally letting up, it’s time to polish my online presence!  Check out this Patreon-only post exploring my in-depth notes discussing how I’m redesigning my Art Nouveau website, including research notes, logo evolution, etc.

Pledge at least $1 to access to this article!  Every little bit helps me to keep doing what I love.

July 2020 Wrap-Up – Big Milestone, Big Burnout

Cross-posted from my Patreon blog

July has ended and it’s been a strange mix of some great milestones here, but also an acknowledgement of my continued struggle with burnout.

To start off, Kev and I packed up the FINAL Kickstarter order after a year and change of consecutive Kickstarter campaigns dedicated to the Birthstone Goddesses enamel pins!

It’s been amazing to see how fans, new and old, have turned out to support this pin series’ creation.  The pins are complete and I am so happy with them!  That’s one big project milestone for the Birthstone Goddesses complete:

(The entire series is now available in my shop!)

Now, we can sit back and get some much needed rest!  This year-long journey has shown me what my limits are as a one-person business and that I just can’t do this all by myself without sacrificing my well-being.  It shows me I can only do two Kickstarters a year at most, and that it’s super important for my creative wells to not sacrifice so much of my time painting to business upkeep, promotion, and project management.

It showed me I was very bad at taking time off as well!  It just wasn’t possible. The last few months I kept trying to take time off, but there was always something in Backerkit that needed setting up, ads to design, proofs to approved, and Kickstarter things to promote before the next deadline.  

So now for vacation take three (or four?), I’m losing count!  Now that there are no more Kickstarter things until next year, I’m taking some ACTUAL true and proper time off!  Reading this article on artists defining and struggling with their burnout really made me pause and think about some specific strategies for myself to set better resting habits!

Our creativity is a muscle that can be strained and it’s a skill they don’t teach in school.  I’m giving myself permission to have fun in August, do non-art crafty projects, and play all the video games!  And THIS TIME I will not have to worry about unavoidable Kickstarter deadlines encroaching on that all-important rest time.

Coming in August

I’ll still be sharing a new coloring page and new art.  I’ll be meandering with fun art, like Anko’s 6 Outfits Challenge, finishing more portraits for my charity drive, and sharing more creative journey posts here, for a little while.  The Birthstone Goddesses are entering their final phase for me and there’s a lot I want to tell you all about where we’re going from here, once I’ve rested a bit!

Digest of July’s Posts

New Rewards Added in July

I hope you all won’t mind seeing my continued art diversions here for a little while longer!  The Birthstone Goddesses will return momentarily, but as I’ve been going full steam ahead on them for 6 years (wow!), it’s important that I let it rest for a little while to finish off the final phase with a bang!  I’m planning some very different illustrations to be included in the art book and I am SO excited to get into something that’s less Mucha and more ME.

More soon!

 ♥ Ang

June 2020 Wrap-Up – This Month Was the Longest Year

Originally posted on my Patreon


Hey, all!  June has been extremely challenging and I don’t even know where to begin.  There are so many difficult topics to cover here.

To start, I’ve had a bit of fallout this month from posting the portrait of Kev and myself in support of Black Lives Matter.  Having to describe to people, especially close acquaintances, how this is not a terrorist movement, how ‘all lives matter’ is a dismissive statement, etc. has been exhausting (and only a fraction of what my husband has to deal with 24-7, every day of his life).  But honestly, this discourse has been long overdue.  I’m going to keep explaining and going to keep working on the charity portraits because it is important we keep speaking up and discussing difficult topics!  It’s a discussion that needs to be ongoing and ever-present beyond the hashtag trend.

Speaking of difficult topics, I also have to discuss the fallout of Noah Bradley and Sam Flegal, both who have admitted to sexual misconduct publicly this month.  As someone who helped promote Noah’s resources and classes, as well as someone who was heavily involved for years with One Fantastic Week where Sam participated as a co-host, I have been shaken to my core.  I’ve lost two major communities for networking and sharing professional practices with other artists in the span of a couple of weeks, which is nothing next to the pain of the victims that have been coming forward risking their careers and friendships to speak out.

I hope that anyone who ever saw my recommendations to these communities here was never hurt by any of their actions.  I don’t know what will become of these communities that were such major touchstones for many of my fellow artists and myself, but I do know the wildfire spread of people finally being brave enough to speak up is ultimately going to make us stronger and the community safer.

I also want to do my part here to help others, to provide alternatives for those who need them right now, which is why I’ve re-invigorated my side project, The Muse’s Library, so that I can return to more actively providing art biz advice, stock art, etc.  We desperately need more variety in the voices putting out this material for aspiring artists and I want to contribute to that.  This may mean a shake-up to this Patreon, as I  may endeavor to share more advice articles, as you have seen me do in regards to my Kickstarter etc.  I’m currently pondering how best I can bring that presence here or if it clashes too much with my Birthstone Goddesses endeavors. (If you have thoughts on this, let me know!)

This month has been disappointing and enlightening, for better or for worse.  I don’t know what’s coming next this year, but all we can do is brace, encourage one another, and face that uncertain future together!

Coming Next Month:

I HOPE that after I finish shipping all the packages for the final pins Kickstarter that I can get back to creating!  Now that the coloring page poll has been answered, I’ll continue bringing out new coloring page releases as well.  I hope to share my mini art side trip exploring Anko’s 6 Outfits Challenge also!

Digest of June’s Posts

Rewards Added in June

“No More Silence” + Portraits for Charity! [Donations Closed]

EDIT 7/30/2020: Paypal has automatically closed the Money Pool so I am going to call this Charity Drive done for now!  I hope to do more drives like this in the future, as I feel it is a way we can all help good causes together.  I’ll be posting soon which charities I’ve donated to as soon as I have made the donations.  Thanks to everyone who donated! My thanks to everyone who donated!  Your generosity warms the heart.
 
I know this seems a deviation from my usual art, but at the same time, I needed to make this and share it with you here.
 
When my husband, Kevin, and I first started getting serious as a couple, people’s support of us turned from reluctant smiles to “Are you sure you want to date him? That could make life harder for you. Hearing this from people I love and respect popped the optimistic bubble I had always lived in.
 
All my favorite movies and stories had taught me that I could grow up to be anything I wanted, that everyone was created equal, that I was a good person who could stand up against injustice like my heroes, but the true lesson from those around me was this…
 
…I could do all those things as long as I was safe and didn’t marry a good man who I adored and who adored me, because it was easier to just move on to someone ‘safer’ who was not black. The world wouldn’t change any time soon, so I should just be safe.
 
Kev and I have usually been silent online about these topics for fear of upsetting anyone. Conversations about tolerance, guilt, and racial misconceptions were best left for private one-on-one conversations with friends and family. It’s finally the time for these conversations to happen out loud. If we’ve learned anything from the past few weeks, it’s that so many folks are like us. They have kept silent for a long time awaiting a single voice to give them the courage to speak out.
 
Now’s the time we need to choose not to be safe and comfortable. Now’s a chance to catch the world up with the fine sensibilities that we preach to our children and ourselves, but that we don’t have the same courage to live by.
 
I’ve used my art for examining morality in a ‘safe’ indirect way via the Fantasy genre, but if ever there was a time to be direct, it is now. I want to be like my epic Fantasy heroes and now all of us have a chance to be!
 

Portraits for Charity

I’ll be creating ribbon portrait icons like the examples here for charity. This idea was inspired by Bkomei’s icons for charity drive. Bkomie asked that others take up this format to do good, if they can, so I’m doing my part!
 
BLM Portraits for Charity
 
More Examples:
 
Example Portraits for Charity
 
If you donate $30 or more to my donation pool, I will create an icon in this style for you to show your solidarity. Original Characters are also welcome! 100% of the money will be donated to charities supporting racial equality and providing aid to those neighborhoods currently impacted by protests.  I hope to raise at least $1k or to create 34 icon portraits. Whichever comes first! There is no deadline.
 
In the event that kind individuals donate more than the minimum and I reach $1k faster, this charity drive will conclude and my art queue will be closed.

How This Works:

  • Donate $30 or more to my Paypal Donation Pool here.  (Paypal account is not required).
  • Send me your reference photos (either a photo of yourself in profile or references of your Original Character) to angelicshades(at)gmail.com
  • Your completed high res digital icon will be emailed to the address from which you emailed your reference images, unless otherwise requested. EDIT: Your icon will be sent as soon as it is finished. I will not be waiting until the pool is full and the final donations are made.
  • Once I hit my donation pool’s goal, I will donate the money to selected charities (the receipts will be shared here and on social media for follow-up confirmation). The specific charities will be decided upon after I have done adequate research on each. EDIT: I am open to your suggestions to which organizations I should choose!  I am currently considering the ACLU, Black Visions Collective, Campaign Zero, and Reclaim the Block.
  • I’ll update this post with a link to a queue to let people know the status of portraits. I will be working on these icons outside of other obligations, so expect a moderate wait time. EDIT: Queue Link!
If you do not have the funds to donate, I encourage you to help signal boost this post, instead, and do what you can to be compassionate and outspoken about injustice in these dark times. Thanks so much for your generosity, either way!  Kev and I really wish we could be out there helping voices be heard, but due to his medical fragility as a heart and cancer patient, we have to self-isolate as much as possible right now.  I wanted to do what is within my power to do and that is to create something with art!
 
Let’s be heroes, guys. Stand up.  Speak out!  Don’t be silenced by fear and comfort.  I know we have the power to change things together because together is the only way the world can, and has, changed!
 
Much love,
♥ Ang
 

Help Signal Boost!