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Today's been windy and I haven't been doing too much in the way of visual art.  I did snap some photos of four rather lively quail, who were pecking around in my bountiful gravel parking lot.  We don't have many stormy days this time of year so the wildlife was acting differently.  I saw a hawk fly low overhead and that made the quail and all the pigeons scatter - till he was gone, anyway.

Rather than doing visual art, I've been catching up on my editing business, my various books, and my main site and blog.  I decided to share some of my cover art, go over to the Gallery to check that out if you like.

Soon I'll be back to doing things, including asking the editor of a magazine I sometimes illustrate for if she needs something else for her next issue.  Cheers to all, and good luck on your art!
  • Listening to: Classic rock, heavy metal
  • Reading: A Writer's Companion by Richard Marius
  • Watching: that a trick question?
  • Playing: Table-top role playing, Aywas
  • Eating: Stew and fried eggs on toast
  • Drinking: Dr Pepper with real sugar
I met a fair number of my goals for 2016.  I improved my art, completed a couple of big projects, and even did a couple of commercial pieces.  I call myself professional because I do make money from my art, but paying commissions are somewhat few and far between.  However, this year I did an illustrated book of short stories, an illustrated comedy book, the yearly holiday tale that is illustrated, and had a drawing accepted into a fairly widely published magazine.  So that wasn't too bad.  I also wrote and published two medium length short stories.   I also did a full 31 days of Inktober and completed NaNoWriMo.  Those didn't pay financially but I reaped many rewards from them.  My blog has about doubled in readership as well.  I've also been featured on other blogs, done some author interviews, and guested on a couple of my favorite blogs.

For 2017, I will continue working on my blog, expanding it to include my artist feature.  I want to continue writing for others as well.  I want to complete at least two novels, and I want to market what I already have.  I want to write a couple more short stories as well.  Around November I want to print out some copies of the holiday book and try to sell them, too.  I also want to do more art and illustration and continue to hone my craft.  There are many sunny days ahead of me, many days for drawing and painting and writing.  I want to create at most opportunities and continue to grow as a person and an artist.

Many people see darkness coming in 2017 but I see many opportunities.  Remember what a great man once said - "your focus determines your reality."

Happy New Year!  We've a bright future ahead! 

  • Listening to: Classic rock, heavy metal
  • Reading: SSN by Tom Clancy, The Regiment by John Dalmas
  • Watching: that a trick question?
  • Playing: Table-top role playing
  • Eating: Candy cane Hershey's Kisses
  • Drinking: Water
I just finished reading a great article on Sharpies - from now on, they are just for temporary things.…

I already use Sakura Pigma pens, which are pigment based, not dye based, and that gives them awesome lightfastness and longevity.  I'll be looking for markers for wider areas though.  Does anyone have a good suggestion?  In the meantime, I'm glad I've been digitally archiving all my drawings!

Speaking of archiving and time, it's nearly the end of the year.  I've done a lot.  I've gotten my blog a lot farther off the ground, met some cool people in various writing communities, and taken my art to a much better level of quality.  I intend to continue that, working harder, using better tools, and continuing to be as precise as possible with my straight lines, my corners, and my points.  My goal is to have the technical drawing skill of a draftsman combined with the soul of a painter.  I've also put a couple more books in print and am well on my way to the next one.

Here's to the end of the year, and a successful new one!
I wanted to take a picture of the moon tonight, but it wasn't in the right position to use my usual trick of bracing my camera on the back fence.  Still, the sheer beauty of the moon made me find a way, and it worked well enough that I wanted to share it here.

I sat in a chair so that part of me was braced, and for a monopod I used a sponge mop!  It was dry, so no harm to the camera.  However it worked well enough that I was able to get several shots of the moon.  At maximum zoom, it's of course rather hard to hold still, and this little help was invaluable.   The spongy texture was stiff enough to support my hands and the camera, and soft enough not to scratch the finish, and the pole handle made a sturdy base that I could angle as I liked.
I thought my art site was nearly done.

Really, I did!

I had the storefront working, I had all the copy edited, I had all the pictures selected.

You know what they say - 

"every time you edit your site (story, novel, book, whatever), you will find something."

So it was with me.  I found that the theme I'd picked let me adjust my text placement and picture placement.  Better.  I found that it would also let me put some of the more bothersome menus farther down so they weren't bothersome.  Still better.  I also found that some of the formatting for my images was messed up - rats!

With everything I did, I went for simple, clean, classic.  The opposite of busy.  I wanted clean lines and very easy navigation.  If I mentioned a link, I'd link to it.  I only have a few pages.  Home, portfolio, commissions, shop, blog, links.  Simple.  I modeled the site on other peoples professional sites.

You might do the same, if you have an art site and haven't already done this kind of a nitpicking revamp.  After all, you want to put your best foot forward.

If anyone wants to see the results of my careful detail search, they can go here:

Damn right, DeviantArt.  That's why I occasionally buy POINTS.  With real money.  Meanwhile the paltry few cents you get from your ad affiliates won't really mean much in the long run.  So why don't  you either quit harassing me about my odious use of an ad blocking program, and be grateful for the fact that I spend real money on the site, or watch my exhaust plume as I head somewhere else?

I'm not here for the ads, I'm here for the art.  If I don't get the art, or if it's too annoying, I leave.  Simple as that.  And you don't get my points money.

If you imagined the perfect place to do your art, what would it look like?  Sound like?  Smell like? 

I knew someone who had a studio that was hand built of logs in a beautiful forest, with furniture outside made of hand chosen and shaped pieces of deadfall.  I thought that was a pretty cool place.  I've been in university studios which are fairly featureless, but at least they have sinks nearby.  Yet another studio I've seen is that of a writer, and is a haven of dark wood, overstuffed furniture, heavy shelves of books, and innumerable oddities and artifacts.  When I imagine a studio, I have visions of white walls, smooth, unpainted wood, and ample light.  I have often thought a studio in a tower room would be neat, or maybe an old lighthouse.  A studio would be a place where I would be able to be alone, and the spot itself would serve to inspire me.

I'm about to move so these thoughts are heavy on my mind.  We'll have a spare bedroom that might be turned into a studio space, though truthfully I'd rather use the light, airy, tile floored living room!  I know I'll have to make some compromises because I'm paired with another artist, but this is what my ideal studio would look like.  Perhaps I can incorporate at least a few of these elements.

My ideal studio would have lots of light and easily cleaned floors, like ceramic tile or even linoleum.  It would be north facing (like my new living room is) and have high ceilings for my easel.  All the walls would be white.  It would have a wall of shelves with bins to keep everything in.  Every art supply would have a place to live.  I'd also have a couple of wooden cabinets and space to put my smaller easels and watercolor equipment.  At least one of the walls would be left empty so I could use it as a photographic backdrop.  I'd have a sink nearby, for washing brushes etc, and a good chair and drawing table in one corner with a view out the window for daytime and full spectrum lights for the night.  I'd probably completely neglect to hang curtains.  I'd have a low profile computer desk too, for looking things up and using reference images.  The studio would be easily accessible from my living space so I could stay in touch with various other goings on.  There would be at least one cat bed in it too.

If you have a studio space, what's it like?  What would you want to change about it?  If you don't have a studio space, what would you want to have?

Always photograph in even light.  Make sure no shadows are falling on the work.  I like to lay my piece down on the ground in the morning light, it's bright but even.  I brace myself against a nearby wall and take the picture from above.

Try to make sure the paper is not crinkled or curled. If I'm photographing a watercolor piece, I'll do it when it's still taped down, if it's a drawing, I'll do it still on the pad.

Take a moment to line up the work so the camera is square with it.

When you take the picture, keep very still, but relaxed, and breathe out as you click the button.  This prevents jiggles that cause blurring.

You can use a photo processing or art program (GIMP is a really good, free choice) to increase the contrast on drawings.  I really like the "white balance" feature in GIMP, it takes a lot of the work out of making a drawing visible.  It's especially good for making pen and ink work stand out.

Always crop your image at least to the edge of the paper or surface, if you are just showing your work.  This puts the focus on the image, not the floor, a bedroom, or the tape on the edge of the paper!

Great people throughout history have said that success is a result of not giving up, of trying again and again and again.  They say that perseverance is not just the true key to success, but the only key to success.  This sure relates to art.  I've been far too tempted to give up, including with my art, but I haven't quite done so yet.  I think about this sometimes as I try new techniques with manga pens.  There was a time when I couldn't draw anything decent with them.  However, the more I practice patience and a light touch, the more my work improves.  

I guess it's like that with anything - perseverance, never giving up, counts for a lot more than raw talent ever could.  With only raw talent, success is still usually a fluke.  But with sheer practice, you can predict and expect good results.  So if there's something you just can't make work in your art, whatever it may be, don't give up.  Success might be just over the next hill.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

                                                                                                                - Winston Churchill
It's nice to be back to dA. 

Some of the art here is incredible, and I learn from it just by looking.  I'm constantly blown away by the talent I see here, every day.  I wonder why some of these people aren't working for a publishing company, illustrating books, or hanging in a brick and mortar gallery! 

It's good for me to drop in from time to time.  Submitting here gives me a place to put up my less serious works, my odd little ideas, my test pieces.   Commenting and swapping llamas helps me remember that art isn't just about hunting down the next commission, or trying to find new places to advertise my site.  Art is about doing the best I can, but it's also still a bit about passion and enjoyment. 

So, thanks everybody, for being here, and helping to make this possible.
  1. How long have you been on DeviantArt? About a week.  But I was on for over a year, before.

  2. What does your username mean?  It refers to the fact that I am First Prime of the Goa'uld known as Cessna, and bear her mark.  See my bio for details.

  3. Describe yourself in three words.  Not really possible.

  4. Are you left or right handed?  Right.

  5. What was your first deviation?  My very first one, a very long time ago, was a drawing.

  6. What is your favourite type of art to create?  Right now, pen and ink.  It changes monthly.

  7. If you could instantly master a different art style, what would it be?  Real Manga!

  8. What was your first favourite?  Um, impasto expressionist stuff?

  9. What type of art do you tend to favourite the most?  Ink work, acrylics, good digital work.

  10. Who is your all-time favourite deviant artist? I have many, and have forgotten all my favorites.  Time to discover new ones!

  11. If you could meet anyone on DeviantArt in person, who would it be?  SteamPoweredMike.

  12. How has a fellow deviant impacted your life?  They have taught me new techniques, and inspired me.

  13. What are your preferred tools to create art?  Manga pens, watercolors, acrylics, computers.

  14. What is the most inspirational place for you to create art?  Outside, or in front of an inspiring image.

  15. What is your favourite DeviantArt memory?  When I finally got the ninja llama, last time.