September had a slow start for us. There was a lot to wrap up at the old house and unpacking at the new house. Then disaster (or a shelf) struck and I injured a toenail! That meant a week working from the couch.
Then when I finally got up and around again, I pulled a muscle lifting a heavy box while setting up the studio. Back I went to my old home, the couch!
I actually started up an Ask the Artist/Ask Me Anything event on Twitter, if anyone wants to give me something to do while I recuperate. I’d appreciate being preoccupied with something fun while I wait for this to correct itself!
I’m currently taking these signs from the universe to take it slow, as much as I’m buzzing to get back to doing all of the Birthstone Goddess projects I spoke of in the latest Project Status update! I’ve been doing what I can from my plushy HQ and FINALLY getting back to all the amazing lessons I learned from Emily Jeffords’ Making Art Work class (plus finishing the final few lessons I haven’t done yet because our house move took precedence).
That’s meant doing a big overhaul to my shop’s presentation, including editing mockups for my prints, creating better graphics for my coloring packs, etc. Truth be told, without conventions for the time being, I’ve had to get my online game strong! I’ve usually relied on in-person events for folks to get to know me and my products, so having the website updated wasn’t AS important.
But now that I’m a rare art cave goblin? I’m going to have to finally get to all that difficult update business I’ve been avoiding! I hope to document some of that makeover process for my Patrons in an article for October. It’s actually been amazing to see how much better I can make my presentation with a little thought and care and I’m hyped to share that process with you all!
October is also the month of spooky things and when Autumn is in full swing here. My favorite month! I hope to actually stream some of my favorite spooky games (or perhaps some new ones), if you guys want to catch me on Twitch. The plan is to start streaming more art there as well, since my face-time with folks at cons has been cut out. I just need to get down to brass tax and make a schedule.
Otherwise, Kev and I are hunkered down until the worst of things blow over for now. I hope you all will take care and be safe as well!
Posts You May Have Missed in September
- Share 10 Challenge – 20 Years of Level Ups On My Art Journey
- [Narrated Time Lapse Video] Kalara’s Shirt Cut Meme
- Project Status: Birthstone Goddesses Wall Calendar & Art Book – Production Agenda & Challenges
Rewards Added in September
Coming in October
I have plans to share the following articles & Rewards in October.
- ($5+ Up Reward) – Coloring Page – “Archangel Uriel”
Featuring line art of this classic painting from my Angelic Visions art book!
- (Patreon-Exclusive, All Tiers)
Behind the Scenes: My (Art Business) Makeover – Part 1 – Product Listing Photos
A peek at all the ‘invisible’ work I’ve been doing in the background to get my online game strong! Discussing how I’m improving photos of my art products, sharing resources, etc.
- (Patreon-Exclusive, All Tiers)*
Behind the Scenes: Designing the Calendar Part 1
A peek at the production process behind putting together the Birthstone Goddesses wall calendar with links to my resources etc. (* If I run into any delays putting together the calendar templates, I may have to delay this article. We shall see!)
- (Early Access) – Ask An Artist Compilation Post
Compiling all the Ask An Artist and AMA questions from Twitter into one place for easy reference! If I don’t get enough Likes on Twitter to finish the questionnaire, I’ll be answering the last few questions in the post instead.
That’s all for now, folks! I hope to get to some real work in October, if the couch will release me from its thrall!
Till next time,
After the year that was 2020, my husband’s very scary battle with COVID this year, a house move, and my general burnout from all of the above, it’s safe to say that the Birthstone Goddesses have been VERY de-railed from being completed when I wanted them to be. I had hoped 2021 would be their grand finale! Unfortunately, due to our current economic climate and supply shortages, it’s looking like this won’t be the case.
I’ve been watching many recent crowdfunding projects be upended by paper shortages and supply chain issues with COVID still surging around the world. Paper shortages means a rising cost to things like shipping supplies and paper-based products. (This thread has a simplified explanation of the situation happening right now).
Because of all of this, I’ve come to the decision that I won’t be running any Kickstarters for the calendar or art book this year. The long of the short of it is that a small creator like me is in danger of being massively overwhelmed by the unpredictable costs involved.
Even if I can’t do these things this year, I’m still primed to share my journey as I prep these products for production! Here’s a look at my current agenda for getting the calendar and art book ready for crowdfunding, with more in-depth sneak peeks of my production process to come that I’m saving to share exclusively with my Patrons.
Wall Calendar To Do List
- Find/Create 2023 calendar templates
- Create any extra art needed for layouts
- Get quotes & proofs from the local printer who did the coloring books (This will have to wait until paper prices go down).
- Create marketing images and plan for the Kickstarter
Art Book To Do List
- Create the book’s flat plan layout
- Create extra interior elements needed for each section
- Finish additional paintings! I want to make some special unpublished paintings just for the book.
- Hire a book layout designer (if this task proves overwhelming for me alone)
- Figure out which book printer to use and get quotes
- Plan two different versions for regular and deluxe
- Create marketing images and plan for the Kickstarter
Should the production issues continue, my backup plan for the interim is to work on a series of Birthstone-themed pendant necklaces based on each Goddess’ mandala window.
While there will still be paper-based products involved, I suspect this will be far easier to manage than anything that relies more heavily on paper pulp, like books or calendars.
(The Lady of December’s mandala window design.)
I have to shout out The Forager’s Daughter’s amazing pendants which made me realize that my designs might also make lovely pendants in the same cloisonné style.
I’ve been wanting to create jewelry items to include in gift sets for each Goddess for a long time now and I think a pendant necklace would be the perfect thing!
That’s all the Birthstone Goddess news I have for now! I’m going to keep chipping away at the to-do list and sharing what I can as we navigate these uncertain waters.
During my Patreon break, I shared some of my favorite level ups from my art journey from the past 20 years on social media. I’m compiling these 10 pieces here for posterity! This started as the Share10 Challenge where I was challenged by Elisabeth Alba to share 10 works for 10 days. Instead of tagging someone else each day, I chose to challenge anyone who sees my post to also do the same. Share 10 of your pieces and tell us about them!
I went with a theme of sharing 10 pieces that I felt were level ups in my skill level and represented a milestone in my development. With that in mind, let’s explore these milestones!
DAY 1 – “Dreaming Butterfly”, 2001.
Tabletop RPGs have been such a HUGE part of my path as an artist. Before I ever had a ‘professional’ vision for myself, I had characters who helped inspire my first forays into amateur drawing and writing. They drove me to develop my skills as a young artist with character art and short memoirs.
Aurora here became an unofficial mascot for my high school self way back when I was immersed in Shadowrun. I created this piece in color pencil in a flurry of inspiration to her very sad and dark story, a young writer’s first foray into traumatic character pasts. Needless to say, I worked out so emo feelings with this phase!
Aury might make a comeback some day in new stories, but this old portrait represents a milestone in my color pencil skills and a young artist’s new dedication to storytelling that has made this piece a classic among my fans, despite how old it is.
DAY 2 – “One Winged Angel”, 2002.
Sephiroth stands as one of the prolific villains of Final Fantasy 7, the game that also acted as my first real exposure to a Japanese RPG. It captured my imagination in a way that few things had up until that point! And so this piece came into being, a fangirl’s dedicated expression to the infamous moment of Sephiroth peering through the flames at Cloud.
Created in color pencil, which was my favored media at the time. I really pushed myself to capture the drama and the gore (something that felt absolutely scandalous for me to draw at the time).
But then this image shot up in popularity on DeviantART and I had my first taste of DeviantART fame! It was a wild ride back then when I was just getting my start selling my Fan Art at cons.
Nowadays, I don’t do much Fan Art anymore, but I’ll always remember the passionate fervor I had at the beginning of my path as an artist. Fandoms helped me grow in skill and ambition.
DAY 3 – “Blacksent”, 2006
Way back when I was a young and bright-eyed college student, Mick LaFlamme hired me for my first ever book cover job for he and Michael Poe’s Fantasy novel, Blacksent: Book of the Umbra. This was a milestone for me in my artistic growth and career.
I pushed myself hard to capture the mood and details of this otherworldly setting in the countless hours of shading and layering in color pencil. Blacksent’s characters pushed me in wonderful ways to level up my character design, wardrobe, and character acting.
That same year, I also started to seriously learn digital painting techniques where I unlocked a whole new level of detail and potential for my paintings. (More on that in Day 4’s feature!)
Day 4 – “Angel of Penitence”, 2006
I created this particular piece as a birthday present for my darling husband, Kevin. It represents my first real try at digital painting. Before this moment, I had only done anime style cell shading or photomanipulated backgrounds with my hand-drawn figures using digital techniques.
I challenged myself to paint the atmospheric perspective and to try harder than I usually did to include a background with the figure, backgrounds still being a weakness for me to this day. If memory serves, I painted this on an old Intuos!
I learned so much with this piece that lit the fire for me to keep on learning to paint semi-realism digitally!
Day 5 – “Archangel Azrael”, 2010
I was surprised to look back on my work and realize this piece represented an unexpected milestone for me. It was the final piece created for my Angelic Visions book and the culmination of my watercolor and color pencil mixed media technique.
I also pushed my symbolic elements and remained dedicated to the details, right down to every skull in the apples and the 300+ eyes in the angel’s wings.
Ironically, I plan to experiment with the evolution of this technique by blending color pencil and acrylic in my next traditional pieces.
Day 6 – “Keeper of Secrets”, 2011
Despite being a few years old by now, this has been my favored image to feature on my business cards, banners, etc. This painting represents one of the most perfect unions of my ‘light’ and ‘dark’ sides, symbolically and technique-wise.
She was made by scanning in my hand-inked lines, then painting the rest digitally in yet another a mixed media digital+trad experiment. This painting also encapsulates that dark elegance I want to channel in my work in the future.
In the past, I’ve felt very boxed in stylistically and subject-wise by my Art Nouveau paintings. The Keeper helped me break out of that box and have faith in my future intent to keep working in this aesthetic direction.
Day 7 – “Kushiel’s Dart”, 2013
Despite this being one of my most popular pieces, I struggled with it the entire time (a clear sign there will be a level up, usually). It just wasn’t working in its early stages and I almost gave up on it. This painting was the first image completed for my Kushiel Concepts project, where I’ve been redrawing the covers of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series to help build my skills.
I ended up shooting reference photos myself. I took the time to do a master copy that inspired me to re-work the colors and textures of the piece. I had to rework the color scheme twice.
This painting took weeks upon weeks and I didn’t back down! Because of that, it still stands as one of my strongest works. I sometimes worry I’ll never be able to paint this good again!
Donato Giancola also complimented the hands of the piece when I had my portfolio reviewed at IX that year and I’ll always be eternally grateful for the ego boost!
Day 8 – “Oathbound”, 2014
For those who don’t know, I have designs on writing my own novels some day. One of those novels tentatively titled “Song of Exile” follows a politically exiled prince who must return to his kingdom to face his estranged father, a ruthless king, his ex-wife, now a rebel politician on the rise, and a nest of political plots and supernatural problems he wants no part of anymore.
This painting was a spiritual milestone for me because it was the first time I defined Prince Ramah in a way that felt right. I had tried to draw him many times before, but nothing ever worked up to this point. This painting also leveled up my storytelling, color usage, and sense of lighting. It is one of my most shared paintings, aside from the Kushiel piece, which tells me I really need to come back to this story world sometime!
Ramah’s design is no doubt going to evolve even more since this old piece, but this was a milestone in his visual development and my artistic development I’ll never forget!
Day 9 – “Lady of November”, 2016
This piece happened during a huge time of stress for me. Kevin and I were working through many medical challenges in the middle of it, with a move happening on top of that.
Even still, I didn’t back down from the vision I had for this one. She was perhaps the first Goddess in my Birthstone Goddesses series who I allowed to be true to my own personality as the artist, while the others were more a slave to their color palettes and outside symbolism (with the exception of March, I’d say).
This Lady brought in the narrative of the monarchs, traveling souls returning to their loved ones for the Day of the Dead, as well as the Aztec Lady of the Dead, Mictēcacihuātl. This piece made me realize the overarching narrative for my Birthstone Goddesses was our own reflection of mortality we see in the waxing and waning of life and death throughout the seasons. She changed everything about how I was approaching this series from that point forward.
I also made a horrible mistake while I was inking the nose! This mistake, which required me to re-prime the area, also led to the decision to leave the skin the blue of the underpainting, which ended up being a really fascinating character quirk for this corpse-Goddess.
She is one of the VERY few pieces I have kept the original of to hang in my home. She has also won an award at a show, which shows me she resonates strongly with others the same way she does for me. As the artist, she represents a process struggle, renewed dedication, a renewed spiritual connection to my topic, and so much more that makes this piece a level up close to my heart.
Day 10 – “Gilded Wings”, 2020
The most recent level-up I have to share! It’s not a perfect painting nor is it my best piece, but I learned a lot in the doing of it. This piece represents my first attempt at drawing my Exalted character (and other novel’s protagonist) in a more realistic style. I’ve struggled with this for a long time, as I’ve always drawn Kalara in a more stylized way.
Not only did I achieve the first image of Kalara that felt right in a more realistic style, but I also proved to myself I could turn out good results in Procreate, a program that I had just started learning to use last year. I had dabbled here and there in it, but this is the first piece where Procreate clicked in my brain and I felt comfortable with it. This program has some of the best FX brushes I’ve seen and I look forward to seeing what else I can make with it! It’s especially useful when I want to escape my normal space to create art on the go on the tablet.
Looking back makes me look forward to a future utilizing all the knowledge I’ve accrued to make even better pieces! I sense a lot of mixed media in my future and really sinking my teeth into my dark, elegant aesthetic.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the past and my evolution as an artist! If you’re a creator, I challenge you to do the Share 10 Challenge as well. Share 10 of your pieces for 10 days (or when you have time) on social media and feel free to tag me so I can see and enjoy your pieces. Let’s fill the void of the internet with our sparkling creations!
It feels like it’s been an age, but I’m happy to say that we’re finally in our new temporary rental home! It’s a lovely little place in a quiet neighborhood nestled in a patch of the forest next to a creek. I’m excited by all the trees, flowers, and birds around! I’ve spotted a cherry blossom tree, a hibiscus so large it might as well be a tree, along with a beautiful crate myrtle. We also have rosemary in a pod, yum!
Here’s a view from the back, which has a path leading down to a creek:
Now, I get to turn this spread of boxes into the office/digital drawing/writing area:
I get to turn this lovely little sunroom into a traditional painting space. There are windows on two sides for plenty of natural light as well as an easier way to set up good ventilation when needed. I adore the book shelves built right into the wall!
I’ve got quite a task before me to get everything set up, but I’m looking forward to being in this new space while we use the time here to recuperate from a rough few years as well as to start hunting for a permanent place of our own. We both love the space in here so much, though, that I’m really hoping we can find a similar house. Fingers crossed! We have a year lease here to get sorted. Till then, I think I’m going to enjoy our stay surrounded by our little forest.
I’m going to let pledges resume as usual for September! This means I’ll have a new coloring page to share this month at the very least, plus some new character art I created for stress relief while we were undergoing this flurry of rental-hunting, moving, etc.
For September, I hope to get myself back on track to finish my final lessons of Emily Jeffords’ Making Art Work course so I can share my thoughts on the experience here, as well as get myself back to continuing the final phase of the Birthstone Goddesses. Having our living space in flux made it hard to plan things, but now that we have a clearer view of the future, I can get back to making the calendar and art book happen!
Thanks to everyone who has hung in there to support me during this period of change and the folks in my Patreon’s Discord who provided encouragement along the way during this stressy chaotic time. You all are awesome!
More soon as I get settled!
It’s been a busy month behind the scenes! I’ve continued my journey with Making Art Work, despite our official graduation happening this past Friday. There was so much great material that I needed time to absorb and I got a little behind!
I’ve kept a whole list of changes I’d like to make to my art business based on all the revelations I had during this course and I’m STILL adding to it as I wrap up the last 4 of 12 modules I’ve yet to complete.
I’ve also been caught up in a massive redesign of the Birthstone/Gemstone Goddesses website utilizing all the wonderful info I learned in MAW. It’s probably the most ambitious I’ve gotten with a website to date and I can’t wait to (hopefully) roll it out with a launch celebration this month!
I can also finally share the GREAT news we were waiting on before. I’m so hyped to report my husband, Kevin, will be starting a new job soon! It’s the kind of IT job he’s always wanted where he gets to advise others on networking and cloud services. We expect a lot of doors to open thanks to this amazing opportunity!
This means things are about to get crazy for us now that we can resume our plans to buy our first home! We’ve endured mold, gas leaks, and more at our current rental and can’t wait to get into a safe place that we can really call home. I expect this will mean more comfort that will be conducive to happiness and making art!
Coming in June
Here’s what I have planned to share this month:
- A new digital coloring page for $5+ Patrons
- New addition of Metallic Stickers to the Secret Shop for All Patrons
- Website Launch Celebration! (Hoping I get it all done by end of the month!)
- New Birthstone Goddess fashion sketches for my Fine Art shop. All Patrons will get first dibs on them in a post here before they go up in the shop!
Upcoming Changes to this Patreon
As we enter into a new phase of the Birthstone Goddesses where I have less art to share and more invisible work like designing page layouts, writing, etc. for the art book, calendar, etc, I’m considering changing the way this Patreon works. Patreon has been stressful to maintain of late with everything going on and I always feel bad when I don’t have new art to share.
To keep my stress levels down, I’m considering changing this Patreon to a Tip Jar format temporarily (possibly permanently). The tiers will still be similar to what I have now, with a base tier and a couple more premium tiers for those who enjoy some of my higher priced perks, like Premium Tutorials, etc.
The main difference will be that I only add material when I feel I have something interesting to share, which may not be each month. You’d basically be tipping me to help support my art and for the following perks, (which should all look familiar as it is exactly what you’re getting now, I would only be changing the frequency at which I add to some of them):
- Access to archives of coloring pages, digital wallpapers, & Premium Tutorials added as and when I’m able to produce them
- Access to Patron-only posts (Behind the Scenes peeks, Secret Sketchbook posts, etc.) added as and when I’m able to produce them
- Secret Shop access for all Patrons
- Ability to vote in polls
- Private Patreon Discord server access
- Eternal discount codes that don’t expire
- Art launch announcements, including first dibs on collecting new originals
I also hope to add a fancy Merch tier that will be replacing the Art Collector tiers down the line. These will be tiers where the longer you stay pledged to them, the more cool swag you will accrue as you reach your loyalty milestones!
These plans are all in the works, however, and I will definitely warn you all before things get massively shuffled! For now, my Patreon will remain the same as it is currently with at least one post per week. I just wanted to give you all a head’s up for my plans for the near-future!
Digest of May’s Posts
- Behind the Scenes: Photographing Art
- New Secret Shop Items! Prototype Tote Bags
- Behind the Scenes: Redesigning the Gemstone Goddesses Site
- MerMay 2021
Rewards Added In May
For now, I’m celebrating learning so much via MAW and can’t wait to share the fruits of my labors with you soon! Thanks, as ever, for your generosity and encouragement.
I have a confession to make. As a young budding artist, I had a unicorn phase. But what most people don’t know is that coinciding with and shortly after the unicorn phase, I also had a mermaid phase! Okay, I won’t say they were phases because I still love these staples of high fantasy. I couldn’t let May’s MerMay art event go by without drawing at least one mermaid!
For those who haven’t heard of it, MerMay challenges you to draw mermaids inspired by various prompts. I didn’t have the time to participate this year, so I chose to do one really cool mermaid instead. For this mermaid, I had everyone play the Let’s Make A Mermaid game over on Twitter!
Commenters on my Twitter suggested a purple and teal-haired frilly tailed mermaid with koi & tan skin with a goth aesthetic. Poor thing is also afraid of the dark & a bit absent-minded!
Our bioluminescent gal, Lucy, here is the result! I painted Lucy in Procreate on the iPad with a looser style than I’m used to. I’ve been trying to break my reliance on tedious line art for my own health. The results were quite fun!
I really need to try this event properly some month! What fun I could have with mermaids, octomaids, and more.
What’s your favorite kind of Mermaid? Did you do MerMay this year or enjoy drawing seafolk? I’d love to peek at your creations!
I’d normally save this kind of article to be exclusive for my Patrons, but I wanted to share this particular article with everyone to offer a little peek behind the curtains of building a website for a creative project.
I’ve already written a Patrons-only series of articles where I go deeper into the website re-design process for my Angelic Shades site, should you want a more in-depth glimpse of why I made certain design choices, designing with my audience in mind, etc. with many visual aides that guide you through the process.
You can check out that series here as long as you’re pledged at any tier here:
- Secret Sketchbook – Website Redesign Part 1 – Planning & Layout
- Secret Sketchbook – Website Redesign Part 2 – The Index Page
- Secret Sketchbook – Website Redesign Part 3 – Galleries
The Old Site
Lately, I’ve been re-centering my art business and making sure I have a strong core presence online with my websites and social media before I move into expanding any further. The pandemic taught me that I’ve let my online presentation go lax and without the promise of consistent income from in-person events anymore, it’s been far past time to step up my online biz game!
While I have Angelic Shades as my main Art Nouveau/Fine Art site, my Gemstone Goddesses project has far outgrown the single page space it had on that site! I’ve created so much work for this project that it doesn’t fit in a single collection anymore.
I also had a problem. I started out this adventure creating with the intention of a single Birthstone Goddesses set. Somewhere along the way, my ambitions evolved and I realized it would be amazing to do more Goddesses dedicated to other gemstones, as well! Why not a Goddess for sunflowers and Sunstone and the like? And thus, my project evolved to be more inclusive with the name Gemstone Goddesses.
This meant that my old website that featured the Birthstone Goddesses in a calendar-inspired splash page became outdated:
The New Site
Now, my website needs to be more inclusive of other Goddesses and future-proofed for additional entries into the series. I took what I liked about the layout from my Angelic Shades redesign and applied it to my old Gemstone Goddesses site. Here’s the redesigned Angelic Shades site for reference:
Here’s a mockup created in Photoshop of how I want the new Gemstone Goddesses site to look. The dotted line shows where the viewer will have to scroll, with everything above that line being the most important info I want my viewers to see first.
I’ve included a lot more info for viewers to explore on the new site. I’m not sure if I need to include the bar which lets folks explore by gemstone color, but I like the idea that if someone doesn’t know the name of the stone, they can search by color to find what they need. What do you all think? Would searching by gem color be useful to you?
A side by side comparison of the old vs new Gemstone Goddesses site:
Before I even made this mockup, I did a very rough version on paper first to sort out my thoughts. This helped me figure out how to minimize the navigation menu and what sub-menus I’d like to include.
Next comes building the new layout in WordPress! I also want to re-photograph all of the Birthstone Goddesses’ framed pieces, but that may not be doable until after our house move.
I want to do something a little special when I re-launch the site. Perhaps a give away or a hidden Easter egg? We’ll see what strikes me when the site becomes closer to being a reality! For now, it’s nose to the grindstone to create all the interconnected gallery pages that will form the vast majority of this website.
I hope you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes! Working on this site may mean less art being shared for a little while since I do everything myself, but thus is the cost of wearing multiple hats for your creative business.