Category: Blog Posts

November 2020 – Giving Thanks, Anime Recs, etc.

I can’t believe it’s December and 2020 is almost over.  I hope everyone has been well this past month!  We’ve been in good health, though we spent a couple of nerve-wracking weeks being quarantined, but with negative tests.  We’re thankful we’ve been so lucky and also to everyone who had decided to continue to support me here on Patreon this past month!  

I know these are hard times for many right now and I’m incredibly grateful so many have chosen to support me here in spite of everything. It has really helped us during these thin times when we haven’t had the income from in-person shows.

I spent the month concentrating on the next phase of the Exalted Art Challenge and frankly glad for the distraction of a topic list while I’ve been anxiously crawling up the walls.  We’ve been in isolation from friends and family since March 8th (267 days aaaaah!) and I’m definitely reaching my limit!  Since Kev cannot remain totally isolated, as he must still interact with folks inside and outside of the office at his job, we cannot maintain a safe bubble with friends and family who are also in at-risk groups.

Sooo we’re doing what we can to stay sane!  We’ve been playing tabletop games online with friends, catching up on anime, and reading. Lots of reading!  This month I discovered the absolutely enthralling anime The Promised Neverland on Netflix.  It’s gorgeously animated and the suspense is killer.  I’ve not seen something this well-written in a long while. Do highly recommend if you don’t mind a darker (but still hopeful) story!

Synopsis:  A family of orphans lives a happy life at Grace Fields, though they always wonder why Mother tells them never to cross the gates around their home.  Children seem to be adopted, but never write back.  The top three students at the orphanage band together to find out what’s not quite right about this place.

(From The Promised Neverland manga.)

Coming in December

  • The Exalted Art Challenge’s Conclusion – I only have about 10 topics left now!  I wasn’t able to quite wrap them up in November, but I’ll be sharing the rest of the topics created in December a week early instead of a month early so that folks who are non-Patrons won’t have to wait till next year to see them.

    – Check out the thread on Twitter to see when each topic goes public.

  • New Coloring Page – Keep your eyes peeled for a new coloring page added to my Patreon library for my $5+ Patrons!  My efforts continue to translate all of my angel-themed art for a future collection and physical book.

    – Stay tuned here and at my coloring group on Facebook for updates!

Digest of November’s Posts

Rewards Added in November

December is also the time I look forward to taking a look back at what I’ve created this year, as well as start getting hyped for what happens next year, so stay tuned for the Year In Art memes that come along with the year-end season as well.

Much love!  Keep busy and stay safe, friends!
– ♥ Ang

October 2020 – Fate of the Art Challenge, NaNoWriMo Joins the Fray!

Right off the bat, I have to say that October has been such indulgent fun for me!  Thanks to those of you who stuck with me through the wacky weirdness that was my Exalted Art Challenge.  I know it’s a bit different than the art you’re used to from me, but I hope it has been interesting for you all, just the same! 

I’ve had a minor conflict in that I was supposed to finish up the Exalted Art Challenge by the end of October, but for reasons (aka. my own meticulous nature), I’m only about halfway through the topic list!  As such, I’ve decided to continue the EAC into November as well.  This might be a little complicated because I’m also doing NaNoWriMo.  I’m going to try to do both and see how insane I go!  I have been looking forward to NaNoWriMo all year and could not give up on it this year again.  The plan is to put on an hour timer and write.  Keeping it simple and also not letting myself spend too long on it!

This may all be complicated by the fact that we’re planning to move in a couple months as well!  With luck, it’ll be into a house all our own.  We’re currently working on the details, so keep your fingers crossed!  Between packing up boxes and finishing up my last professional obligations of the year so I can focuson the move, I hope to keep myself sane with a creative escape to the EAC and NaNoWriMo!

Coming in November

  • The Exalted Art Challenge Part 2 – Continuing the 2nd half of the topic list!  Sketch collections will be shared with Patrons early and released a month later for the public.  Keep up with the Challenge’s final art at the Uncrucified’s project blog or this Twitter thread.
  • NaNoWriMo for The Uncrucified – Become my NaNo Buddy here!  I’m going to be continuing the 3rd person rewrite/novelization of The Uncrucified and sharing daily posts on my main Twitter.  I’ll be sharing progress in my Patreon Discord as well, so feel free to come join in the fun there with your own stories where we can encourage one another!
  • New Downloadables!  Also keep an eye out for a new coloring page for my $5+ Patrons and a wallpaper pack featuring Kalara’s “Garda Wings Attack” piece for ALL Patrons!

Digest of October’s Posts

Rewards Added in October

New Coloring Page! Angel of the Eclipse

Anyone taking on NaNoWriMo?  Did you do any fun challenges in October?  I’d love to hear about it!

It’s gonna be a fun November, which is also my birth-month.   I’ve been looking forward to crisp Autumn days and writing inspiration, despite everything else!

More soon,

♥ Ang

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

My journey with the Exalted Art Challenge started off a bit slow, as just when I was going to begin we were placed in quarantine due to a COVID exposure at my husband’s work!  Luckily, he has tested negative and we’ve had no symptoms, but it meant a slow start till I was able to focus on art.  

We’re just going to try and relax till our days are up and I will meanwhile continue taking it slow and enjoying my time with this challenge!

1 – Favorite Caste

The Solar Exalted are chosen for a caste by the Unconquered Sun based on our propensities for violence, for diplomacy, or for many other specialties. Sol sees our potential and blows on the embers of our ambition, no matter our station in life, no matter if we are good or evil, as long as we can bring about the change that this world in chaos needs. We are marked with a symbol that shines upon our foreheads, a beacon of purpose and power for all of Creation to recognize, if not respect.

– Memoirs of Kalara Vadras, The Uncrucified, RY 800.

My Favorite Caste is the Eclipse Caste. They are the voices of reason, the keen wit, and the clever bargainers.  Their ancient treaties and trade deals helped reinforce the fabric of Creation.  As someone who enjoys both art and business, the Eclipse connection with culture and commerce as a positive force really speaks to me!  Plus, they are excellent at winning a fight before it even begins with their social graces.  (Admittedly I am not good at social graces IRL so part of my enjoyment of playing this caste is vicarious wish-fulfillment!)

For this topic, I took the basic Eclipse Caste mark and customized it for my Exalted character, Kalara, bringing in aspects of her middle eastern-inspired homeland. I explored Moroccan tiles for inspiration and eventually settled on a flame-inspired motif evocative of the element of Kalara’s homeland with hints of silver, the color associated with the Eclipse, as well as phoenix feathers, a personal symbol of Kalara’s own rise from her near-death into the Eclipse Caste.  The cartouche includes the honorifics this caste is called in Creation, my favorited being “Quills of Heaven”.

(Though my own gal, Kalara, would earn the name The Silver-Tongued Devil in her time.)

2 – Regional Fashion

I wonder sometimes if I would even recognize myself back then. I still remember the soft light of Gem’s crystals and the teeming underground marketplace that never slept. As a slave of Iblan, I was dressed in attire to represent the household of my master, an aging master goldsmith.

I owned no finery of my own, not even the bangles I wore which served as an example of Iblan craftmanship for all to see and admire, for even their slaves must convey everything about their stature as Gem’s famed goldsmiths. Instead of gems sewn into my shawl as any fine lady of Gem might own, mine was painted and embroidered to mimic gems. I was a pale imitation of what a noble Iblan lady might be.

– Memoirs of Kalara Vadras, The Uncrucified, RY 800.

I explored many variations for this topic, ranging from a fancier look of a current-day Kalara who can afford to dress as a noblewoman, to versions of her past self who was dressed as a servant.  I really liked the image of her eating lunch next to a crystal cluster in Gem, the underground mining town where she grew up, but went with a closer view so I could show off more clothing details.  

Gem prides itself on its extremely regulated gemstone production and I wanted to get that across in its gemstone-inspired trims. I definitely want to explore local wardrobe further with story concepts in the future!  For the final illustration, I took cues from Muslim and Anatolian clothing, but hope to explore fashions of the region more in-depth later.

3 – Favorite Charm

I didn’t have the final image done for this topic yet, but I was so excited about how these came out that I just had to share today!  Charms, or magical abilities, come in epic flavors in the world of Exalted!  I’ve always drawn Kalara posing elegantly, so it will be fun to finally get a chance to see her in action, even if she would usually consider this a last resort when diplomacy fails.

Kalara practices a celestial martial art called Righteous Devil where the charms center around the theme of judgement and justice.  At higher levels of this art, she can judge the soul of her enemy, dispatching them to their deaths and directly into their next reincarnation!

However, a Righteous Devil must be careful, for if they falter from a path of justice, the original Righteous Devil who invented the art will hunt them down!

I’ll share more about this topic with the final art in next week’s compilation.  Till then, I leave you to guess which thumbnail from this set I’ll pick for this topic’s final art!

Do you want to see my sketches and art for this challenge as soon as I do them?  Be sure to join my Patreon Discord Server where I’ve been actively sharing challenge topics and discussion as I go!

Hope you enjoy this little diversion. I know it’s quite the subject matter shift from my usual stuff, but MAN I’m having so much fun!

♥ Ang

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!

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!

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 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