Inspirational Wasteland

There are moments in life when pursuing creativity is easy. I feel inspired! I have all the right tools! I have the time I need! I’m so excited to sit down (or stand up) and CREATE! Those a golden moments that all creatives look forward to. It’s easy to create work in these moments, because we feel like there are no barriers between us and our clearly-visible goal. It’s like road-tripping with your GPS: you know how to get to your fun destination, and you even know how long it will take.

What all creatives quickly discover is that there is no GPS for most projects. There are no quick rides or shortcuts. After the initial burst of motivation, we’re left staring at the vast stretch of just do the work. I’ll be honest: that’s the part that I dread. There’s just so much, and the end seems to be totally out of sight. After I run out of that first explosion of energy, I generally fall flat on my face and wonder how I’ll ever get moving again. It really feels like I tossed myself into a massive wasteland, empty of any clear paths or signs. How do you navigate such a dried up void?  Continue reading “Inspirational Wasteland”


Maybe I’m a Morning Person

I’ll be honest: this was a slightly horrifying realization. I’ve gotten through school/life by sleeping late in the day and staying up late into the night. Writing, drawing, reading, or video gaming well past midnight and then sleeping until lunchtime: that’s always been my ideal day. But in the last few months… that just doesn’t work. Continue reading “Maybe I’m a Morning Person”

Don’t Put Up Your Open Sign First

Taking little steps has never been a strength of mine. I’m a brainstorming, big picture, grand scheme type of gal. I prefer to immediately leap into action rather than plan or inch forward. When I approach a new project, I love developing the brand and marketing approach… actually developing content behind the scenes? Much less glamorous. Not enough of the ol’ razzle dazzle.

Continue reading “Don’t Put Up Your Open Sign First”

Best Mom Advice Ever


“It wouldn’t be so hard if you did it more often.”

My mom has said this about laundry, cleaning my room, doing dishes, dusting and sweeping, mowing and raking, and exercise. Do it more often, and it gets easier.

After writing about habit in a previous post, this bit of Mom Advice occurred to me, and I had one of those moments (everyone has them) where you realize that your mom was right. She knew! How did she know? It also applies to creating!

Towards the end of last semester, I realized that I went days without writing or drawing anything creative. Once in a while, okay, but days? It’s very much like exercise; the longer you spend not doing it, the harder it gets to start again. So I made a conscious decision to make sure I draw (even just a little bit) everyday. To this end, I toooootally rearranged my desk so that my computer AND my hard sketchbook both fit comfortably, and are constantly accessible. (I technically have two desks, to be honest… a cheap one from my school’s architecture surplus and a cheap one from Wal-Mart.) I moved my files, binders, and notebooks to another spot in my room, so just drawing and writing materials are around me (plus some books on Renoir, Cassatt, and Degas). It. Is. So. Marvelous.

In fact, it’s so great that it has me ignoring one of my other good habits, which is going to bed before midnight. I now stay up late to draw, even if I was drawing all day. I write several paragraphs, and each day, the amount that I write grows. Daily practices are super hard to start, and it takes something like 30-40 days for a new habit to form. So what if you made a goal to draw or write for X hours a day?

It would get easier.

Visual Library: A Vocabulary of Pictures

I’ve been trying to identify and correct bad habits I have as an artist. “And correct” is kind of the important part, and it’s the part I usually forget. I am generally pretty quick to point out (to myself and a few “lucky” others) what I’ve done wrong in a drawing, but I generally “fix” it by hoping that I don’t do it again. This is probably the negative side effect of being out of the art classroom… no one’s there to make me figure out answers. Sigh.

But anyways, I’ve been trying to do better. One thing I want to work on is my visual library. What does this mean exactly?

cassatt-01It’s just like learning a new language or simply new vocabulary from your own language. You have to hear the word, then you repeat it, then you have to write it a few times, and then it finally sticks. That’s how you learn words, and with art and creative writing, it’s not really any different. If you want to get better at drawing people, you study and draw people. If you want to get better at writing mysteries, you read and write mysteries. It really is that simple.

You put out what you take in.

I’m going to improve (and increase) what I take in! I’m deliberately going to try to build my visual library! I’m probably going to drink more coffee!

And that brings me to the new plan for this blog! I thought this whole “visual library” thing might be a cool theme. This could be a place where I can post the artwork I’m taking in, and the notes I’m making in the process, and my visual studies based on my notes. I want to blog this for two main reasons: because I know it’ll help me be more accountable, and also because I think it’ll be helpful to other artists. To start with, I’m trying to improve my color theory by
studying Impressionists (such as the piece above, by Mary Cassatt.) I used to not like impressionism, because it wasn’t In_the_boxrealistic (I was THAT person), but as I got more and more interested in digital painting, the more I felt drawn to impressionism. I really liked the way they could do SO MUCH with so few marks! You can see an entire form, but if you get closer, you realize that there aren’t really any sharp details. The sophistication is in the color, I think, and the mark making. If you can make juuuuust the right mark, with juuuust the right color, then it gets a big job done.

To make a long(ish) blog short, I’m going to conduct an art crash-course for myself, and I’m going to share it with you all!

I hope you all enjoy (and benefit from) the ride!

Dear Future Me

I was recently re-reading Jason Dorsey’s My Reality Check Bounced! and thinking about what I wanted my future to look like. I started thinking of questions I had for my future self, and being the time-travelling junkie that I am, I really liked the idea of writing a letter to my future self. Enjoy!

self-01Dear Mary Claire In Five Years,

You’re 29 now, in your last year before the big THREE-OH. That’s so crazy!

Are you in your own place now, or are you sharing a house with Regina? I hope you got a snazzy studio space for all of your craziness. How’s René? I hope she kept going strong! Remember, her story is your story. If it seems boring, unpopular, hard, or confusing, that’s because it’s got a lot of reality in it. Keep her alive!

Right now, I feel like I’m on the beginning of a very good time in my life. I hope you remember 2014 with mostly fondness. I want you to be super happy, so I’m going to work hard for ya. You better appreciate it! I’ve got a lot of opportunities coming up, and I want you to remember taking those opportunities bravely and successfully.

When I’m you, I want to enjoy looking on the work of my hands, and I want the pleasure of knowing that my work helps me live. Maybe financially, maybe not. But I’m starting to realize just how much energy, joy, and satisfaction I get from knowing that I put something in this world that wasn’t there before. I want to remember that each day, and I hope in 2019, you still remember it.

I hope that Captain America, Daredevil, Aquaman, Samus, and Gordon Freeman are still around, and maybe joined by Link.

Do you feel like a Boss yet? Like you have the world in your hands? I’m starting to feel like that now… but I think it’s just the weight of the world starting to lift from my shoulders. I hope it doesn’t come crashing back down on me.

Be confident. It may seem harder, but it takes a lot less energy than being doubtful. And you’ll be happier.

Maybe this is secretly a letter from my future self. Who knows.

*Doctor Who theme song*


You, Five Years Ago

PS: You can’t change everything, and you can’t control everything.