Category: Blog Posts

[ 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!

May 2020 Wrap-Up – Fanarts, Refocusing, and Next Steps!

Post Originally posted on Patreon

May went by way too fast, you guys!  I was able to take about a week off before I had to hop back to prepping Backerkit for the Goddesses of Spring Kickstarter to make sure that was working smoothly for those of you who picked up pins.  But do not worry, I plan to take a true and proper break once this FINAL Kickstarter finishes its ‘lifecycle’ and everything is shipped!

In that bit of downtime, I took on the Six Fanarts Challenge which are my first paintings in Procreate!  I’m extremely proud of these.  It’s nice to be reminded I can still paint this way after years of working almost primarily in ink and watercolor:

(Check out this post for the collection and narrated time lapse video!)

I’m also pretty terrible at downtime and as usual when I am trying to take a break, my brain is alight with all the things I’d like to do!  I’ve been thinking of the ways I want to re-focus and make some changes to organize my studio, refine my social media output, etc. now that this project has finished one major phase and begins to enter another.

The focus of this next and final phase is going to be the Wall Calendar and Art Book, the latter of which will feature some unpublished pieces (that my Patreon Patrons will totally be getting a sneak peek of before everybody else!).  These pieces are going to be much more in a dark and elegant vein as I bridge the gap between Mucha’s style and my own personal style.  It’s going to be very different, but still something I hope you all will enjoy!

June is going to be about finishing up one last Art Challenge to let my brain wind down (The 6 Outfits Challenge), setting a study schedule, wrapping up Kickstarter (I hope! These delays are killer), doing taxes, and re-organizing the studio to be more efficient now that my inventory has grown so very much!

Lastly, as much as I like to focus on my fanciful art here, this month has also been mentally rough for so many folks, especially as I write this.  For those who don’t know us, my husband and I are an interracial couple.  Seeing recent events unfold is a strong reminder of how safe my husband and family are not in this world, a constant 24-7 truth we’ve become good at ignoring just so we can live our lives.   I’ve shared some places you can donate here where you can also help others during these tense times, if you are able. 

Please be kind to others and speak up when you see injustice!  Let this horror help us come together with renewed and combined strength.

Much love!

♥ Ang

Digest of May’s Posts

Patreon Rewards Added in May

April 2020 Wrap-Up – Going on Art Vacation!

Hello from Day 52 of self-isolation!  This week has been the first week since self-isolation started that I haven’t been crazy busy juggling pin samples, Kickstarter promotion tasks, etc.  The final campaign for the Birthstone Goddesses Pin series on Kickstarter wrapped up this month and I’m celebrating finishing up this next phase of this project!  All that’s left now is to produce the pins and ship them out.  

Next, I’m excited to start work on the next phase of the Birthstone Goddesses with some new art I hope to create in a more fantasy vein for the art book, plus the long-awaited wall calendar.  Wonderful things are on the horizon, which I hope to work on this year and release next year via Kickstarter when things are hopefully a little more stable for everyone!

But first, I’m enjoying some downtime!  May is going to be about letting myself rest and relax to recharge some of my burnt out batteries now that the Kickstarter gauntlet is officially over.  We had been planning a trip to Myrtle Beach to celebrate, but until it’s safe to travel, we’re having a staycation instead.  I’m amusing myself catching up with shows like The Expanse and Dr. Stone and playing video games like Overcooked 2 and Bloodborne.

I’m also excited for letting my muse off the leash to explore something new for a little while!  I’m planning to take on some short term art topics for May, including the May Sketch A Day event (which is where you try to sketch anything once a day in May), plus these other fun ideas:

  • 6 Fanarts Challenge – Drawing fan art from suggestions! I’ve already drawn two out of the six portraits and will share the finals here when I’m done.
  • 6 Outfits Challenge – Draw 6 outfits suggested for one of my characters. I’ll be taking suggestions here soon!
  • 5 Minute Artist – Draw a little portrait and share a little about yourself as an artist!
  • Color Palette Challenge – Pick a color palette from this site and create a piece around it!

Along with posting the next few Birthstone Goddesses related Rewards, I’ll be sharing my adventures with art memes in May.  Feel free to do them along with me!

New Rewards Added this Month

Posts You May Have Missed this Month

How have you all been holding up?  How are you keeping yourselves busy?  I’m looking forward to having a little quiet time for art and introspection now that this phase of my project is well and truly finishing up!

More art soon!

♥️ Ang

 

Mar 2020 Wrap-Up – Arting through the Pandemic

Reading my last posts and writing this one right now feels so surreal.  Last month, we were canceling cons just in case. Now?  Kev and I have been self-sequestered for 3 weeks and adjusting to a new lifestyle.

Funny enough, my husband is handling this very well, while I’m the one who’s been an anxious mess working in my pjs, taking twice as long to do anything, and reading news late into the night (a bad habit I’m breaking with reading manga/comics instead!).

It’s been rough for me launching a Kickstarter this month as well because I honestly thought “With everyone in survival mode right now, why would they support a Kickstarter? I wouldn’t blame them for saving!”.  I’m so incredibly moved that even during this tough time, you guys came out to support me so that we’ve already fully funded the Goddesses of Spring!  So many of you have also chosen to stay as my Patrons, which I am so eternally grateful for.  My fans are the best!  Thank you so much for supporting the arts during a difficult time for all!

Right now, Kev and I are both safe, working from home, and financially stable.  Knock on wood!  I hope you all are doing well.  It’s okay if it’s difficult to focus.  The world is going through something it hasn’t seen in years.  Just remember that we will endure!  

I’ve decided to keep on working through the Birthstone Goddesses and try to do my best.  I still want to work on a calendar and Art Book for my Goddesses and am still excited to indulge more Fantasy Art to share with you all!  In these dark times, we turn to art for a hopeful escape.  A little light goes a long way!

On that note, I thought I’d round up a few resources that are keeping me sane that might also help you guys out (feel free to share more with me in the comments!):

Free Comics for 60 Days – Comixology, my fave comics reader, has extended their Unlimited subscription service free trial to 60 days.  They have a ton of comics in the Unlimited program!  They also integrate with Amazon for easy sign in.

Free Virtual Museum Tours – Here’s a collection of some of the biggest museums offering tours online.

StayHomeWrimo – The minds behind NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) are doing a daily event where they share writing prompts and self-care tips.  Camp NaNoWriMo is starting up in April as well!

The Uncrucified Free Audiobook + Book – My shameless plug! If you’re interested in my current writing project, check out this story inspired by my adventures in the Exalted tabletop roleplaying game.  

It’s a mature fantasy tale about a young girl who rises to greatness from a childhood spent in slavery.  After being granted abilities by a god to help stave off the world’s destruction, she chooses instead to use her newfound powers to forge her own path of revenge to right the wrongs of the world.  But will absolute power corrupt absolutely?

Also, gunslingers, Queenpins, sand, and sorcery!

It’s my hope that those who aren’t into Exalted can still enjoy it!  Come marvel at my very first try at audiobook reading and perhaps become invested in a writing project near and dear to my heart. (Currently seeking Beta Readers for the expanded rewrite!)

New Rewards Added this Month

Posts You May Have Missed this Month

For April, I’m hunkering down to ship out as many of the Birthstone Goddess pins as possible, while managing the Goddesses of Spring campaign.  Then, I’ve promised myself a break afterwards to work on other non-Birthstone Goddess things for awhile.  I’m excited to share new work after being focused on more decorative art for so long. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into some narrative art!  We may be seeing more art inspired by the aforementioned writing project.

Stay safe and healthy, friends!

♥ Ang

 

The Goddesses of Spring Enamel Pins Have Launched!

The moment we’ve been building up to for almost a year has finally come.  The campaign for the final set in my Birthstone Goddesses enamel pins has launched on Kickstarter!

This launch almost didn’t happen, however.  In uncertain times like this, I was very afraid to push the button!  Does anyone have time for art right now?  Won’t everyone be saving for other things?  It felt almost irresponsible for me to do this.  After some thought, I realized that it was ok to do this.  Art is there for us during the dark times to bring us a bit of shine and beauty.  If people connect with my project and want something to help bring that feeling to them, they should be allowed!

And honestly right now with all of my conventions canceled for the year, I’m grateful for any support that comes my way.  I almost cried during my livestream of the launch after seeing the enthusiasm of fans in the chat and the fact I raised so much during my first minutes of support.  It means a lot right now to me!

(Watch the launch’s livestream recording here)

Thank you all for your kindness!  Especially those of you who have continued your support here on Patreon as well!  It truly helps and warms the heart.   I understand if anyone must drop their Pledges for financial purposes right now and doubly appreciate anyone who chooses to stay! 

Before I get all sappy again, here’s the Press Kit of images and links to help with sharing my project!  Ya’ll are my biggest fans and your voices are always the loudest when I run these campaigns.  Share away, my lovelies!

Links to Share!

Remember to add your own commentary, if you have the time!  People love to know what you think.  Did you enjoy your last pins? Do you have a fave Goddess you can’t wait to see as a finished pin?   Let everyone know!

Downloadable Images

(16:9 aspect ratio Cover Photo)

(Cover Photo – Square for Instagram)

(Cover Photo – Facebook Cover Size. Feel free to snag this to use for your own Cover!)

(March’s Pin – Square for Instagram)

(March’s Pin – Rectangle for Facebook)

(April’s Pin – Square for Instagram)

(April’s Pin – Rectangle for Facebook)

(May’s Pin – Square for Instagram)

(May’s Pin – Rectangle Facebook)

(Selected Reward Tier Images)

Thanks to everyone who has been cheering me on through this project. It’s been a year of pushing and creating something grand with these pins (and more years before that for the paintings)! I can’t wait to see all of these lovely designs together soon.

I hope these beauties bring you all a bit of light and happiness today!

Stay safe, friends!

♥ Ang