All the Self-Help Books…

I like to do research into things.  Sometimes the research is for a project.  Sometimes the research is prep for something I plan on doing.  Research and planning are ways I deal with the fear of doing something.

In my research I have read several “self-help” books.  “Feel the Fear and do it Anyway” by Susan Jeffers, is one of them.  I have also just finished “Guerrilla Marketing for Artists” by Barney Davey.  I have read quite a few more, but these two are stuck with me right now.

Both these books, and most of the other self help books, have at least one piece of advice in common.  You have to do things you do not like.  You have to go out and meet people. You have to go new places.  You have to do things outside of your comfort zone.  However you want to put it, it is the same.  Do stuff you do not want to do.

I started my “do stuff I do not want to do” last year.  I went some place new by myself every month.  This may not seem like much to some, but I am a serious “home body.”  I do not like to leave my comfortable and familiar home.

This small change in my routine, created tons of new art ideas for me.  I filled three sketchbooks and created many illustrations that I would never have thought to create before.  I used mediums that I had not use.  I used old mediums in new (to me) ways.  It is exciting, how just going to a new park alone changed my mind.

I was afraid of doing it, but I did it anyway.  Thank you Susan Jeffers, for that lovely phrase.

This year I am going to try to do a few more things that I do not want to do.  Most of them involve talking to people.  Talking to people about my art.  Something I have down played most of my life.

HOWEVER if I want my art to become self sufficient I need to get people to buy it. The only way to do that is talk to people, about my art. So says Barney Davey.

Ms. Jeffers and Mr. Davey are both right.  If you want to reach your goals, see your plans succeed and do that thing you want to do, you have to put yourself out there.  Feel your fear, figure it out, get over it, and succeed!  No matter how much you do not want to do that thing that stops you.

May 2016 be the year you take those steps to make your dreams reality!


Colored inks on Yupo Synthetic Paper. Even did my own calligraphy on the words. My skills are expanding 🙂



One Flower at a Time

Busy already… or is it again?

I am working on TWO large scale drawings. The largest one is 3ft by 4ft, the largest sheet of paper I could buy at Blick.  It is intimidating to start something so large with one nib and stylus… 12sq feet is huge.  Having painted large walls and theater sets, this is not the largest project I have undertaken.  Just, teeny pen and all that paper to cover.

How does one do it?

One section at a time.

I avoid looking at the thing as a whole, as much as possible.  This section is blossoms or hair or leaves.  Nothing else exists until this section is done.  One stroke, one shape, one flower at a time.

You do have to step away from time to time to asses the drawing as a whole.  Are the parts going to come together properly?  Is this line going to meet with that line?  Are the colors going to work?  Where does this go?

It really is the same as a rough time in life.  Take it one hour, day, week, month at a time.  Do not look at the big picture.  It is immense and intimidating.  You do what you can to make it through an hour.  Then the day.  Then the week.  Soon you have made it through a whole month.  You still need to step away every so often to make sure that you are on the right path, that things are going to fit together.

Life is challenging and happens to everyone.  We all go through easy times and times that test our abilities to cope.

I have an outlet for these things.  I draw it, or representations of it.  I am very thankful for this.

Not everyone has an outlet that is healthy.  People get into drugs, sex and violence.

I know I am not equipped to help much.  I can be an ear, an arm, a rock.  Each of us can do little things to help those in our circle.  In the end it is up to each person to live their life.  To draw their own picture.

Letting someone help with your drawing is hard.  You are letting someone else’s “soul” touch yours.  Even the tiniest bit of help will change your drawing.  It is hard to step away from the drawing long enough to check the progress and see if the help is working.

Yet it must be done so you can see if things are where they should be.

Work on your drawing, one flower at a time.


Hydrangeas! Lots of them. This is just one corner. I just started planning out the 1/3rd of the drawing.

Better Blogging!

I have decided that I am going to try to be better at this blogging thing.  Since I started posting the tutorials I have gotten quite a few more followers.  I like that.  I want to reach more people and share my interests.  I never really thought I was a good teacher (to scatterbrained) but I think I can keep my posts structured and educational.  I learn through the tutorials, so it is a win, win.

How am I going to be a better blogger?

Well, for starters stop letting Stumble Upon distract me for 45 minutes before I start a post (but it is VERY fun.) I have written down things that I want to cover in my two main topics; Beginning Web Development and Beginning Artist, which will each get posts once a week.  I have also decided that I want a random post each week on a topic that interested me.  It might be news, a freak out, a book review or perhaps an ode to my preferred tea flavor that week (Touch Organics – white tea this week, fyi.) It will be a surprise every week.

That sounds like a lot of work each week.  Three posts! How is that going to work?

I am going to do most of the typing and research on the weekends and schedule them for the week.  I LOVE the scheduling feature! (That is three exclamation points in this post.  I need to calm down.  We will see how that goes, hehehe…) I still do not have set days I will be posting things.  It kind of depends on how fast I can create content images for each of the tutorials.  Drawing takes practice and Web Development is all about tinkering, both take time to do.

I am also looking for feedback and input.  If you read something in a post and it is not clear (or wrong) please let me know.  I value the feedback and will use it in future posts.  It is hard to correct things when I do not know they are wrong or explain things that are unclear if I do not know.  Tell me!

Thank you for reading and I look forward to writing more and better posts.

Beginning Web Development : Planning Basics

So I got all excited with my plan to build a test page and do a tutorial and I forgot the planning phase of the website.  Silly me.

Planning is kind of important and should be one of the first things you do.  Planning the site can be really simple, it was for the test page.  It can be complicated as you become more advanced and need the site to do different things.

Since the test site is super simple, I sketched out a layout on some paper and colored it in with some crayons.  I want to see the basic layout and know when I have finished designing the site.  When we start adding more complicated code to the page we will plan out the code.

Today it is just planning the layout.  Scratch paper, a pen, and crayons are just fine.  You can be more professional and build it in MS Powerpoint, Adobe Photoshop, or a free variant.

My quick website layout. I have three ideas on what I want the layout to be. I can also try out some coloring schemes.

My quick website layout. I have three ideas on what I want the layout to be. I can also try out some coloring schemes.

I sketched out three quick layout ideas.  I am discarding the one on the bottom right.  It is to “different” which can lead to low popularity of the site.  The other two are quite common layouts and will not alienate any viewers. We can easily try out both styles with our CSS file and not make any major alterations to the HTML code.

I have a personal preference to have the navigation bar on the left side of the page.  Especially when there are not going to be any other secondary columns.  The body section seems ridiculously large without a smaller secondary column.

On the other hand we are going to have a portfolio and it will be a bit cramped if you do not have that little bit of extra width.  I think we will go with option 2, top right.

The other nice thing about sketching out the layout is we can try color combinations.  We can get a sense of what things will look like with different colors.  I like the way that the body looks white, and the green to blue gradient for the back ground.  I think that the nav bar should probably be white also, so it does not disappear between the banner and the body of the email.  The footer of this site does not have anything very special in it.  I am going to leave the background clear so you can see the background behind it.

There is my quick and dirty post about planning.  Don’t be like me and forget to do it!

A Head Full of Other People’s Problems

I have a pretty good life.  I have a full time job (even if it is boring.)  I have a great spouse and marriage and I have no children.  I have money to pay the bills and even some extra to spend.  I get to go out and have fun, relax and enjoy myself when  I want to.

My life is so “pretty good” that I let my head get full of other people’s problems.  Other people’s money problems, family problems, and even friend problems. All these problems that I have read about or spoken about roll around in my head waiting for me to come up with a solution. Even if it is not my place to work on these, it happens.

head and bulb

The gears in my head are always turning.

I realized that I am quite boring in person.  Even though I have done and seen things, I cannot tell the story well (just not one of my skills.)  I think have always supplemented my boringness with the problems of other people, things for me to mull over and solve.  Got money issues, I will mull over it and see if I can come up with anything that might help.  Significant other dressing like a slob, I will mull over it and see if I can suggest anything that will change the behavior (just let them know what you think of their cloths.)  Need an idea for a story, game or other project?  Let me mull it over, I will have something for you, probably lots of somethings.

The only time this becomes a problem is when I cannot come up with a feasible solution.  I have tons of ideas on how to market your product (I really do) but you are going to have to invest time and probably money.  If you are broke, that does not really help any.  I wish I had more money to throw at the problem for you, but I cannot afford to do that (not to the amount needed, anyway.)  I have time to help, but I cannot DO it for you.  I wish I could, but I am not as skilled at      (your skill here)    as you are.

All I can do is give you suggestions.  If you choose to put the time and effort into the suggestion, I know it will turn out well.

Today my head is full of other people’s problems, and I cannot do much about it.  I just let them float around and propagate solutions that will probably never be used, so sad.

picassoNot being able to act on the ideas is the most frustrating thing for me, and others like me.  The ideas are there, like ripe apples on a tree.  All you have to do is reach up and take them.  I would rather you take my idea and run with it, then let it rot on the tree.  Yes the idea can come back next time the tree fruits, but it is not always the same and not always as tasty.  Taking an idea is not stealing if I am okay with it.  Plus you taking an idea, vs letting it rot, will allow me to have more ideas, better ideas.

I would really love to make all my ideas a reality on my own, but I am not really able to.  I do not have the skills needed for many of them.

So, let me know if you are in need of an idea.  I will mull over it and let you know.  I will even sketch things out.

My Year of 300

I have spent the past few weeks trying to plan out a solid plan to reach my goals for the year.  It has been difficult, work has been busy, I have been avoiding spending extra time on the computer (waaay to much computer time at work,) and life gets in the way.

ImageI think I have a plan now.  I am calling it 300!

The idea is to get 300 hours of work (web dev and coding,) exercise, and art (computer and “fine”) completed by the end of the year.  It may not sound like much, but that is 900 hours total this year, and that is quite a bit.

So far the art has gone smoothly, I have completed 20 hours, half painting and half making icons and logos.  I have not fared so well on the work or exercise front.  I have no real excuses, I am just not motivated right now.  Plus I am kind of avoiding computers unless I HAVE to (I had to do the icons and every hour was a struggle.)

I am now trying to figure out a way to visually track my progress.  I was thinking about a finding a WP progress meter or maybe print out 300 Leonidas heads and color them in for each hour completed (sounds like fun right?!)

Why 300?

Well there is the Spartan Meme aspect to it.  I really did not think about that until after I did some math.  365 days in a year, about 251 workdays (http://www.workingdays.us/workingdays_holidays_2014.htm#)  a good median is 300.  That leaves me with a few rest days and some days where I can do “make-up” hours.

Now I just have to figure out what I want to paint/CG and what I want programing languages I want to study.


Many people spend the two weeks before a new year either looking forward and planning the next year or looking back and tallying the hits and misses.  Many people do both hoping that they will learn from the failures and make the next year better.  I have already done that.  I spent one day on both.

While I am thinking about the past and the future it is not what my focus is.  My focus is today.  Today I made sure I got up in time to get the morning routine done, started the pea soup (slow cooker for the win.) and even was able to take out the recycling.  I made sure I had everything I would need for my after work meeting (which was just canceled.)  Now when I get home I can focus on the home things.  Today I need to make sure to clean up after the plumbers, spend time with the spouse, clean more, exercise and have some personal time, all before bed.  I really need to go to bed on time today, too.

I really think that during this time of year people forget about the “Today.”  These are still days.  They still count to whatever goals you have.  Discounting them is short changing yourself and will mess up your figures for the year.  Instead of distributing things across 365 days you end up distributing things across 351 or less, depending on when you start your Holiday Season.

Hypothetically I could have planned on doing 365 hours of self prompted education (learn to code or speak a new language, learn to knit, something new.)  If I dismiss the two weeks before a new year I have just increased the daily duration.  It is only by two and a half minutes (estimated,) but those minutes add up (to two weeks!) and soon you may find yourself back logged if you choose to skip out on them on a daily basis.

It is important to remember the past and learn from it, it is also just as important to plan for the future.  The thing that ties the two tenses together (past and future) is the present.  It is where we exist and where things happen.  It is what makes the past and where we take the steps that will bring us to the future.

Look at me, slinging around analogies in math and English!  I must be “on” today.

Have a great new year everyone.

Look behind, look ahead, but live in the present.