Where did July go?? It’s been a crazy summer so far, but I’ve really been enjoying myself and getting tons of work done! In this video I’ll share what I’ve been up to, and a brief tour of my workspace!
I had a surreal moment this week: I scheduled all of the pages for chapter 1 of my comic*. All of the pages. They are drawn, inked, edited, lettered, and scheduled. There is no more work for me to do on chapter 1.
I’ve been working on this comic for years. Originally, it was in short story format, and then novel, and now as a graphic novel. Even as a comic, there are have been many rounds of drawing and re-drawing, and constantly second guessing myself. The courage to “do and let be” is something that I struggle with. I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist, so much as a “finish-phobe.”
IT’S SUNNY AND NOT FREEZING ALL THE TIME YAY.
I’m pretty proud of having made it half way in this challenge! These gouache paintings are the highlights of my days, and I just enjoy them so much! I’m looking forward to having all 30 at the end of the month.
My goal for the second half of this challenge is to really get into bold, bright colors. I love the soft, gentle pastels, but gouache looks sooooo rich when it’s at “full power”! So here’s hoping I can muster the courage to turn it up a notch (or 10 ha ha!)
Can you believe it’s the 3rd month of 2018?? January and February seemed to slip by so fast! Here in Illinois, I’m watching the incredibly insane weather shift from snow to sun to rain and back all in the course of a single day. So crazy and unpredictable! Just to play it safe, I’ll spend my free time inside painting.
One of my resolutions for 2018 was to really step up my color work… meaning make colored work period. Specifically, I want to really get better at painting with gouache, so I decided to give myself a 30 day challenge for the month: 30 gouache studies of my very own OCs!
What is an OC, you ask?
An OC is internet shorthand for Original Character. These are fictional folks (new hashtag?) who exist in the imaginations of writers and artists alike. I’ve been inventing OCs since very young age, so for this month I’m taking a walk down Pretend Memory Lane and revisiting some of the characters I love most.
And yes, there are 31 days in March. But I’m giving myself 1 free day just because I’m nice like that! If you decide to draw or paint your characters, I’d love to see them! Use the hashtag #MarchofOCs on Instagram so I can check them out!
Well I did it! I finally produced a new YouTube video! I felt that an appropriate topic would be fear of failure… since that’s the main reason I haven’t produced a video till now! Please check out the video, and leave a comment with any suggestions for improvements or future topics!
You paint on the weekends. You doodle at work. You write random bits of dialogue while riding the bus. You share your daydreams over a beer with your friends. We all have little things we do in our spare time that help us unwind and relax, or perhaps it’s that kind of hobby that energizes you. After an hour or two, you go back to the demands of the “real world.”
Here’s my question: is your hobby waiting to get on stage?
It’s hard to make the transition from hobbyist to professional. It’s scary and intimidating, and it places demands on a pastime that usually helps you escape pressure. But there’s no denying that some of us relish that pressure and want our crafts and talents to expand beyond our personal enjoyment. We want to share it, and we want to nourish it, and watch it grow. How do you know when it’s time to take your hobby-relationship to the next level?
- You can’t stop thinking about it.
Much like having a crush on a person, your hobby stays on your brain even when you’re doing something else. It’s an intrinsic part of your thoughts, something that never lets go. Let’s be real: if it crosses the line between “hobby” to “obsession”, then it’s begging for more than the occasional get-together.
- You want to get better.
After a certain point, you actually want to hone your craft. Doing it “just because” isn’t good enough anymore, and you actually want it to improve. I’m not saying hobbyists don’t care, but the same pressure to meet a certain standard isn’t there. If you’re striving for excellence, then surely there’s more to it than just “fun.”
- You want to share it with others.
I still have certain hobbies I don’t generally share, such as music composition. But drawing and writing are two things I can’t contain, not without feeling like I’m suffocating a part of myself. Sharing my work with others was certainly scary at first, but ultimately, an audience gives an ear to an artist’s voice. Without that, we’re only whispering to ourselves.
- You want others to take it seriously.
What I really mean by this is “You want others to respect you as a craftsman.” This means not giving your time and effort away for free, or working for less than you’re worth. With a hobby, it’s no big deal to donate your talent, but if you’re starting to take your hobby more seriously, then you’ll want others to do the same. (This means getting paid, and getting paid well.)
- You’re willing to work a day job to pay for it.
Surprise! You thought the last step would be about quitting your day job and doing your hobby full-time, didn’t you? WELL NOPE. The real test is whether or not you’re willing to support your hobby with a job you don’t necessarily enjoy. Sure, some jobs are more soul-sucking than others. But if you think your favorite hobby won’t have dream-crushing lows, then you aren’t facing reality. The reality is this: your hobby needs you alive and well, and if a day job makes that possible, then you’ve got to be willing to make that sacrifice.
Don’t get me wrong: I think hobbies are super important! I’m not saying you need to capitalize on everything you love. But if there’s something that’s tugging at your heart, begging for more attention, maybe it’s time to give that something a chance to shine. Maybe you’ll find that novel, that painting, that blog, whatever. Give your hobby a chance to grow and let yourself be surprised.
I’m in the muddy-middle of my developing comic right now. The story almost totally nailed down, and the art for the first chapter (50 or so pages) is well underway. In a way, it’s the hardest part: the end is nowhere in sight, and the initial burst of inspiration has faded away. Around this point, I start to have doubts about what I’m doing. In particular, there’s one doubt that bears a lot of weight in my mind…
Someone else has already done this.
As artists, we are under pretty intense pressure to be creative and original. We want to be groundbreaking geniuses, so that people will marvel and say, “We’ve never seen that before!” But this pressure is so great that our fear of failure (and being labeled uncreative) is paralyzing. It’s so easy to convince myself that the comic I’m working on (heavy on the Victorian romance) isn’t original or unique, and I should go back to the drawing board until I come up with something new.
During one of the low moments, when I feared that I was a total rip-off, I decided to reread Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and my way of somehow crossing time to commiserate with both Eyre and Bronte on the troubles of storytelling and
men with wives in the attic wait what. But Jane Eyre does more than give me an escape: it reminds me that the number of times a plot has been used doesn’t matter. What matters is that we find the audience who needs to hear that story again.
There’s no limit on a good story.
Jane Eyre is the story of a young woman who grows up in hardship, falls in love only to discover her lover’s dark secrets. After she leaves him (rather than compromise her morals), she inherits a small fortune. She suddenly feels called back to the man she loved, and discovers that his dark secret (and wealth) no longer stands between them. That’s…that’s pretty much it. The story of a young, lower class woman clinging to her virtues and eventually guiding the man to redemption… it’s been done. But instead of throwing the narrative away like an over-played melody, I ask myself…
Does someone still want to hear this story?
The answer will almost always be yes, no matter the narrative. The stories may have been told before (perhaps even told by brilliant storytellers), but there’s something to be said for taking on the role of a contemporary storyteller. Past literature, art, and music are all important parts of where we’ve come from. But why not share what we (you and I) feel and think right now? Bronte and I share a love for a brooding intellectual man: rather than let that commonality be a barrier for my own stories, why not use it as a building block? Surely my love of Broody McDarkster isn’t that unusual.
So instead of trying to create something that no one has ever seen, I’m trying to do the opposite: I want to tap into universal, timeless stories, with characters that (while not generic or flat) ring with certain familiarity. This isn’t copying. It’s a matter of recognizing the why behind the myths and legends that shape our very cultures. And let’s be honest: there’s no such thing as too many Mr. Rochesters.