Take a Look…

…It’s in a book!
This came to me as I was wondering what to draw today.
I love reading. Books open my mind to all sorts of things and were key in shaping who I am today.
When I had television, I loved to watch Reading Rainbow, Wishbone, and a few other liturature based shows. I loved books already, but seeing other interpretations of the stories was eye opening. These shows helped me realize and understand that people are different, have different experiances and will understand things differently.  They made me want to know more about people and what makes them different, and the same, as me.
Yes, books can do all that.
Not only do they teach you things, they make you ask questions about the world and yourself.  More on this in another post… when I am not on a mobile device. Some books aske the questions and you have to figure out the answer. Fiction or Non-Fiction, if you want to KNOW read.

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Take a look, it's in a book. I am going to be singing this all night now.

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Finally Done… for the day.

There was no post last night.  I started a drawing and ended up going to a random art show up in Seattle.

The art show was pretty neat.  It gave me ideas for things that I might try later.

Here are my submissions for yesterday and today.

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Crazy ribbon like kelp. I have fond memories of kelp. The green tint was added in Picasa. Because it is fun.

Kelp!

I used to play with this stuff when it washed up on shore, when I was a kid.  A really long “bull kelp” could be used like a whip and even make the noise.  It is also fun to draw the ribbon like leaves.

Reading_girl

Let’s Read!
Another face to practice on. I think I got the features right. Now it is shading and line improvement.

Lets Read!

Reading is awesome.  I am going to do a larger version of this over the weekend.  Practice my faces and try to get a better mediation between my highlights and shadows.  It is so much easier to do the transitions with paint.
Practice, Practice!

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After Emerald City Comicon 2015

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Self Portrait of me making a smoochy face for a selfie. Joker makeup theme. It was fun

I had a great con this year.

I managed to snag a hotel room.  Worked my butt oft.  Bought stuff and saw tons of art.  I even managed to hang out with some friends.

I already posted a book review for one of the books I bought, Serenity Rose – 10 Awkward Years by Aaron Alexovich.  Now comes the rest of the stuff I acquired.

I purchased a collection of comics published by IDW.  Edward Scissorhands drawn by Drew Rausch, written by Kate Leth.  This new Edward Scissorhands series takes place many years after the movie.  I blew through the 5 comic books available and feel like I will be purchasing them as they come out.  They are pretty interesting.

On a visit the the neglected “6th floor” I got a gorgeous print of a lady playing a cello from Sasha Yoss.  You can see her work at www.sashayoss.com.  This is the only thing that might trump Serenity Rose for the coolest thing I got.  I also snached up a Princess Mononoke print and “the Sires of Time” comic by J.M. Dragunas. His site is www.dragunasmonster.com. I have not read the comic just yet.  The art is very detailed and it looks interesting.

The 6th floor also introduced me to Martha Hull and her work. I purchased her two books. “Death’s Daughter & the Basket of Kittens” and “Untimely Death Alphabet.”  Both were very entertaining to look at, despite the morbid topics.  Her work can be seen at www.marthahull.com.

The last things I acquired are not going to be used for their intended purposes.  One is a writers guide to the history of fictitious creatures such witches, faeries and vampires.  The other is a horror writers workbook, both by Ty Hulse.  More items I have not looked at much.  I plan on using the books for ideas.

My art has turned a bit dark lately, us artists go through phases.  Dark and creepy things interested me this year.  Last year not much was interesting ( I was broke anyway) and the year before that I got a bunch of cute stuff.

My illustration today is a self portrait based off a selfie.  I really enjoyed having green hair.  I am also going to be drawing more people in preparation for a painting/illustration that I will be starting shortly.

What will I draw tomorrow?

2015 Goals

I have taken my time to come up with some attainable goals for 2015.  Not resolutions, people break those to easily.  Goals are much better,  they are SMART, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Goal 1. Complete12 Fine art pieces this year.  It usually does not take me more than a month to create most of my art.  I do have pieces that are really detailed and take longer.  I also can work on more than one piece at time.  I already have 4 finished pieces and plans for 3 more.

Goal 2. Create 12 Graphic Design / Marketing packets.  This should include a flyer template, business card, and website template.  If this is not challenging enough I can add a FaceBook banner or something similar.  I have plans for 5 already.  I just have to sit down and do it. I also need to work on creating some clip art for various projects that are ongoing. I am working on some flowers, traffic jam, cars, and some monthly banners, to name a few.

Goal 3 Get healthier!  What kind of year would it be without some kind of health goal?  I would like to get healthier this year, lose a few inches and pounds.  I have a figure in mind, but with the injury I received in December (darn irresponsible dog owners)  I have not been able to work out as much as I would like. This also impacts goal 2, since it is painful to sit for more than a few minutes at a time.

Goal 4 Read 10 Books.  This is not a high goal.  I have been known to read three or four books in a 24 hour period.  I really want to finish some books that are non-fiction, Tim Wu’s Master Switch, some coding books and a few more on how social media is changing our minds and perceptions.  I do have to finish a few fiction books to.

Goal 5 (Bonus Goal) Find some meaningful volunteer work.  I have been looking and looking for some kind volunteer work that is meaningful to me. I like to help people but I have found that many people who “need” an artist are looking to take advantage of the artists skills and will work them into depression. It would be cool to help with a mural or some kind of artsy fundraiser. Perhaps an advert on Craigslist or something will help. I have not done that yet.

I am working on some bits for my tutorial series. Updates to those should be forth coming.

Have a good 2015!

Book Review: Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

I have been reading and painting and working and painting and reading.  I have (had now) three books going and two paintings, one website and a full time job.  Life has been nuts.

To break back into blogging I am going to take the easy route and review the book I just finished reading.  It was amazing!

The Lies of Locke Lamora is an awesome book (fiction.)  It is gritty and one of the most action packed books I have read since Luck in the Shadows, by Lynn Flewelling.  I would like to say I was not able to put it down, but I did, several times, only to eager to pick it back up at the next free moment I had.

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Cover art from The Lies of Lock Lamora

Usually I would go over a summary of the book.  Not with this one.  You can read a summary of the book almost any place on the net.  I want to go over the atmosphere of the book.  That is what really makes this story special.

The city of Camorr, where the story takes place, is a vivid, gritty, dirty, corrupt city.  I spent some time trying to picture it and have come up with a pretty good idea.  Imagine, if you will, a massive island with six smaller islands evenly spaced around.  Each of these islands is topped with a glass looking tower of different colors.  Imagine if you will a huge island surrounded by six smaller islands, reasonably evenly spaced.  The islands are topped by tall dazzling spire towers, each inspired by one of the four basic elements, air, earth, fire and water.  The center tower, more of a palace, is white and silver (life,) and one of the small islands is black (death.)  Each of the towers is connected to the center tower by a wired basket tram system, very high above the ground.

Now this sounds all glorious and pretty, stunning even.  But you forget about all the people that live in the slums, and this is where the story takes place.  Camorr is corrupt.  It is run the same way gangs are run.  Each level of society has its leaders and slaves.  The leaders of the slums are of the worst sort, deformed and malicious (though not any more so that the nobility.)

The slums are dark and bleak, yet thriving with life.  Thieves are abound and ply their trades all over the city.  The city makes the people and this city has had a definite impact on the hero, Locke Lamora and his clan of misfits (or maybe the fit to well…)

I will be reading this book again and the others in the series.

Five Stars!

Book Review! The Fault of Our Stars ~John Green

I just finished reading The Fault of Our Stars by John Green, off the recommendation of kraves88 (in 5.5 hours since you will ask.)  A very thought provoking book to say the least.  I am up at one am because it has spawned many thoughts and brought up some memories as well. I did not post this at one am because my computer restarted.  I now have time to edit this post. Woo..

fault of our stars_coverThis book may have had more of an impact on me if I had not already discovered the heart wrenching books created for the Make a Wish Foundation in my early teens.  Then the Humane Society put out a series of truly depressing books about rescue pets.  I also made the mistake of purchasing some books via a mail-in book club thing that our school was doing.  This got me the book Ghost Girl by Torey Hayden.  The story is about a young girl that was being molested by her family.  Truly shocking for a girl who just entered junior high school and thought she was getting a horror story (I was really into Steven King and Dean Koontz at the time.)

Back to John Green.  Mr. Green has written several books and has a thriving YouTube Channel.  I did not even realize that he wrote this until my spouse pointed it out.  Mr. Green is very charismatic on YouTube and he writes well.  I was able to visualize much of the story and characters.

Without giving out to many spoilers, the book is about a teenage girl named Hazel that has terminal cancer.  She meets a boy and stuff happens.  Earlier today I likened the story to Romeo and Juliette only with cancer instead of poison.  I stick by my assessment.  Mr. Green does well with his words, I had a hard time putting the book down (hence the fast read.)  I only cried in two spots. Dinner in Amsterdam was just so beautiful, and the pre-funeral was brilliant.

In the end I was left with a churning mind and an after taste of sad.  One thing really I liked about the storyis that it was not as selfish as the Make A Wish books.  Humans are selfish beings, but Mr. Green manages to make Hazel, Gus and Isaac seem much less selfish than any of the protagonists in the Make A Wish books.  Those teens seemed to use their wishes on more selfish things (I would too though.)  I have a feeling that the writers may just not have used the right words or my limited understanding made it seem that way.  Alas, that is what I think.

Again, I would not recommend this book if you read for enjoyment.  The book is sad.TheDispossesed Cover

Kraves88 I have read the book.  Reviewed the book and I feel that I got a short straw on it.  I hope that you enjoy Ursula Le Guin‘s The Dispossesed.  I would recommend anything by Ms. LeGuin any day to anyone.  She has something for just about everyone.

Finished the Book, Part 2

Happy Friday!  I am so glad that I will have a few moments to think about one thing at a time for a few days.  Every weekday I cannot help but to attempt to process more large tasks than I would like.  Multitasking really just slows down the whole to do list and nothing gets done quite right.

Anyway.  First thing on my single task to-do-list was finish reviewing the book The real business of web design by John Waters.  I left off with the types of designers needed to make a site, Interaction Designers (the front end people,) Functional Designers (the coders or back end people,) and the Business Designers (people with the money.)  Each aspect of a site can be covered by  a team that contains someone from each category or discipline.  Of course the team can be as small as one member, or as large as needed.

Each website should be as different as the company that owns it, the team that created it and the people that interact with it.  This is where a bit of marketing can come in handy. 

Marketing has to had to change with the times.  We do not get our primary dose of product placement from magazines, TV, or news papers anymore.  We get it from banners, social media and super short  ads before our free videos.  We usually ignore the ads that do not interest us, making the ad agencies work harder to catch our attention and target the advertisements.

Funny enough the ads do not really change.  We know that a Big Mac does not look like the pictures in the ad.  We know that we will not attract countless women (or men) by using a specific type of deodorant.  Things really do need to change, and they are, very slowly.

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I really enjoy these “posters.” They are usually clever and show exactly how each of the different view points see something. Marketing is supposed to give us a new way to see things, but usually we just end up shouting at each other.

 

Ads are becoming much more interactive. shoot the duck, hit the boxer, they are animated, and getting more personal and sophisticated all the time.  You can get your ads personalized to you, your gender, location and all sorts of other things. They still rely on the same principles though.  People look at certain things, colors mean certain things, the rule of thirds, and you have to tell the customer what they want and need.

Thankfully companies are starting to learn that we customers know what we want.  They are giving us feedback forms and asking OPEN ENDED questions.  They are even listening to the customers and changing their sites to be more useful.  Again the changes are very slow.  We do not need brochures and flyers telling us about the product, we want to touch, taste, smell and experience the product (even virtually is better than a glossy image on a sheet of paper.)

Small companies are able to use free sites like WordPress to create a nice site with all kinds of interactive features.  Large companies are still paying for static online brochures.  But they are learning that customers want to interact and slowly budgeting for better, deeper sites.  One the people that handle the money realize that web development can improve their revenue they start to plan and budget.

In chapter 20 Mr. Waters goes over some really good points that make a good site. Things that we would think are self-evident.  Make your site interactive. Companies have seen crazy high returns by allowing customers to shop with friends, chat with a sales rep, and even things we take for granted like remembering what colors you like in your paintings, that you like fiction books, or that rap is your preferred music type.

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I am not sure what movie this is from, but we sure do love a good action movie. A website can contain some edge of the seat action points that will have the customers coming back to visit the site.

 

Provide a customer with multiple action points. Logical drop-down menus, hover tips, buy now or view now short cuts, and even contact pages are considered action points.  Lastly Mr. Waters recommends compiling data. This will help you understand your customers better and aid in the success of your business.

While all of this is important I think that the final chapter is where the real changes are going to happen.  Mr. Waters speaks out against the use of “proprietary language,” The use of acronyms and slang.  This leaves people out of the conversation and will hinder their understanding and will slow the growth of any industry that is growing.  If we change the way we speak about things, we will change the way we think about things and be able to improve the way we treat our customers, clients and even each other.  How deep is that!?  He says this in a lot more words and even pulls in some excellent examples. 

What summary did I reach?  This book is awesome.  There are so many key points that we (designers and developers) forget to look for, over look and just don’t think about once we reach a certain level of adeptness.  I had forgotten so many already and I am just starting!

I really hope that other designers, of all types, will check out this book.  My local library had a few copies, I am sure your library will.  If all else fails, Amazon had some copies.