Aah how I love October! The leaves are changing and the weather is getting chill here in Georgia. It’s been a busy month now that we’re settled in the new house and I’ve been able to really put my nose to the grindstone for the Birthstone Goddesses.
We also got to leave candy for the kids in our new neighborhood and that made me happy! I hope next year, we’ll be safe enough to hand out candy directly. I love dressing up and seeing all the fun costumes!
(I cheated with a phone filter costume this year. )
I’ve also been working hard to pretty up my online presence with the holidays on the horizon (which by now my annual holiday sale should be going strong. More on that soon!). Patrons got a behind the scenes peek at all the invisible tasks I’ve been doing to improve my presentation.
Posts You May Have Missed in October
- (Patrons Only) Behind the Scenes – Shop Makeover Part 1 – Mockups
- (Patrons Only) BtS – Creating the Birthstone Goddesses Calendar Part 1 – Planning & Research
- Artist Asks Questionnaire – Part 1
Rewards Added in October
- ($5+ Patrons) New Coloring Page! “Archangel Uriel”
Coming in November
I hope to keep the energy up in November as I continue work on the calendar, start storyboarding the art book, and indulging in some fun creative challenges!
- NaNoWriMo! I’m taking on the national novel writing challenge this month! I’ll be sharing snippets of the tabletop inspired novel I’m writing on my project’s social media account, so tune in there if you’re curious about my writing muse!
- $5+ Reward Coloring Page – I’ll be sharing a coloring page of Archangel Azrael painting this month!
- Patrons-Only Behind the Scenes Posts – I’ll continue to share development posts about my journey with the calendar and art book.
- Part 2 of the Artist Asks – I’ll be wrapping up the last few questions!
That’s all for now! Thanks for being awesome during all of our constant life adjustments. At least it’s always exciting around here!
Back in September, this survey was a nice distraction and an informative journey for my Twitter followers. Now, I’ve compiled it here on my blog so it can be easily read all in one place. Enjoy this list of answers to some of the most frequently asked questions!
Meanwhile, you can read this list with the original gif accompaniment here.
1. Do you prefer digital or traditional?
Both! I prefer to paint color digitally & line art traditionally. I feel like I have better motor control & work faster with trad tools! It also depends on what mood I’m in. Sometimes I’ll draw my lines by hand & scan to paint digitally.
2. How long have you been drawing?
Since I could hold a pencil! I loved writing & illustrating my own horror & unicorn stories as a kid. I distinctly remember when I was around 8 that I wanted to be like Trina Schart Hyman, who illustrated my fave fairy tale books.
NOTE: By horror & unicorn stories, I mean entirely different unrelated stories & not stories about horror unicorns. I had my Last Unicorn phase 1st followed closely by my Scariest Stories Ever Told phase. Though now I wonder what actual Unicorn Horror stories might be like!
3. How many classes have you taken?
I’ve taken college art classes (BA in Studio Art & MA in Arts Admin), but have also kept my learning going with:
And more. I’m always up for learning & experimenting!
4. Do you have a Devart, site, or blog?
I’m not as active on DA as I used to be as I spend more time on ArtStation now. I share articles about my process & happenings on my blog.
- Devart – http://angelasasser.deviantart.com
- Site – http://angelasasser.com
- Blog – http://blog.angelasasser.com
Bonus links to where I spend most of my time lately:
- The Mothership Art Group on FB
- Sisters of Fantastic Art Group on FB (Exclusively for female, non-binary, & trans women artists. This is an invite-only group so if you are a female identifying of NB artist, drop me a PM and I can invite you!)
- My ArtStation
I’m also around a few community Discord servers for Drawn+Drafted, D&D Fantasy Art, Forge of Wonders (an Exalted server where I’m a mod) etc.
5. What’s your fave thing to draw?
Anything elegant & dark. I love capable &/or mysterious female characters and intricate costumes. Give me mystical moods & scrumptious intriguing narrative details to chew on! Detail of my Priestess of the Keeper piece which is def my aesthetic.
6. What’s your least fave thing to draw?
Not a fan of architecture, cars, or machinery! I have trouble wrapping my brain around the intricacy and perspective planes and don’t find them as fun to draw as more organic subjects.
7. How often do you use reference?
Very often! My brain only has so much room to store all the knowledge of human anatomy. I don’t consider it cheating, but essential to maintaining realism. I also share my pose ref photos over at my art resources project, The Muses Library, if you need inspiration!
8. Do you draw professionally or just for fun?
I am a full-time professional working on indie projects, but sometimes I actually miss doing art purely for fun! It’s a bad habit now to automatically monetize what I’m drawing or needing every.single.thing to be masterfully done.
9. How long do you spend drawing on an average day?
I split my time between answering emails, writing articles, managing sites, updating shops, managing orders, and ACTUAL art-making, so my ratio is usually 4-6 hours of art. Maybe more if I’m lucky and/or there’s a tight deadline!
10. Are you confident about your art?
Some days more than others! I try to be realistic about my art skills. Many of my fundamentals still need work, but I’m proud of my sense of narrative details, composition, & posing. Just need to keep on working on color, light, & anatomy!
I like to do inspiration maps & evals about once a year to get a sense of where I’m going with my art, stylistically & emotionally, & to be more aware of what skills I should be working on. Portfolio reviews also help immensely!
Full art sources here.
11. How many art blogs do you follow?
I keep up with the industry via FB groups but also: –
- @imaginefx for tech reviews & inspo
- @muddycolors for inspo & tips
- @GurneyJourney‘s blog for inspo & tips
- @StanProkopenko for tips, artist interviews, etc
Any others I should check out? Let me know in the comments!
12. Is it ok if people ask you about your process?
As long as folks don’t mind that it takes me awhile to reply, I’m happy to share what I know! I also discuss my mixed media watercolor, color pencil, and ink techniques in my howto book, Angelic Visions.
My Patrons also get an in-depth glimpse into my techniques & product development via my Premium Tutorials & Patron-only posts. Additionally, I share -free- tuts & info via my YouTube channel. I’m very sporadic about updating, but there’s good stuff there!
Finally, here’s a comprehensive list of my fave tools & materials for watercolor painting!
13. Do you prefer to keep your art personal or work for others?
I prefer my own projects! It’s fun to occasionally explore other people’s topics, but after starting my career doing freelance work that didn’t really grow my portfolio much, I switched focus to my own projects.
14. Do you ever collaborate with others?
I’m contributing to The Changeling Artist Collective’s The Woven Path Tarot & have also contributed to their Olde Fae (Old Maid) card game. I’ve also worked with Sam Hogg on a lovely Special Ed gold foil print of my Lady of Eternity!
(My Rose Fae set for the Olde Fae game)
(My “Temperance” card for the Woven Path Tarot)
(A gold foil print made with Sam Hogg and available exclusively through my Patreon Secret Shop.)
I’ve even designed jewelry in the past, which was a rare, but exciting opportunity! Though the final design hasn’t been released yet, to my knowledge. I’d love to collaborate on more topics that interest me, including TTRPGs, feminine empowerment, folklore,& dark elegant horror.
15. How long does an avg piece take you to complete?
It depends! My extremely detailed intense ink & watercolor Birthstone Goddesses took about a month a piece, while others might only take 1-2 weeks. I’m an intensely research & detail-oriented person, so I usually take longer.
This entry’s getting a bit long, so I’m going to save the next 15 questions for the part tune. Stay tuned!
(Part 2 Coming Soon!)
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!