I’ve been obsessing about house plants for the last few months or so. It started with an article I read about how having plants in your work space can increase productivity. I read that a long time ago. Since I read that article, I had been trying to bring in plants. It didn’t work out to well, until recently.
I started my collection with just the elephant ears and bamboo in one water filled vase . They surprisingly thrived. And so did the mosquitoes that were nesting in my beautiful mini water garden. Gross. Allan wanted me to get rid of the plants. I compromised. I moved the bamboo into an old glass 7UP bottle. The narrow bottle neck took care of the mosquito problem while keeping the bamboo in water. I moved the elephant ears in to a Jack Daniel’s Coffee tin with dirt I snagged from a plant outside.
Since then, I’ve found more containers to fill with dirt and plants from our yard. I even bought a little plant from Home Depot. That was a disappointment though. It brought aphids with it. Thankfully I caught it before it turned into a furry white epidemic spreading to my precious boonie plants. Even after saving it from the aphids the poor little guy shriveled in to a sad pile. I probably should’ve changed out the soil and gave it some of the love filled local dirt.
Elephant ears are definitely my favorite. I love the huge leaves. I also love these neni leaves that I can grow in itty bitty jars, like the one above. Most of the plants are in the living room of my apartment. I keep the bamboo and the small elephant ears in my art space though. The coffee tin elephant ears outgrew their spot in the studio – from 2 leaves to 4 going on 5.
I’m not sure if the indoor plant life has increased my productivity, but the plants have been an inspiration. They’ve been showing up in my art and doodles a lot.
Do you have any tips for keeping houseplants happy and healthy? What are your favorite house plants? I’d love to hear if about it.
I’ve always appreciated a well put together retail window display. I don’t remember seeing too many really stand out displays here in Guam, from my childhood. I do remember seeing them in movies though. I always wanted to visit New York in December to experience the Christmas window displays.
Now Pleasure Island, our tourist strip, is lined with luxury retailers and a few boutique shopping centers with some flashy window styling. I’m guessing that DFS, now T Galeria, has the only windows that have a local design team. I might be wrong about that, but I doubt it. The rest probably receive props, brand collateral and plans sent in from their corporate offices. Bummer. We have a lot of creatives here.
For the last year I’ve been styling the window of a local flower shop, My Secret Garden. It’s definitely on my list of dream jobs.
I’ve spent quite a few hours on the flower shop floor cutting props out of cardboard and folding paper flowers. I’ve spent many more hours with my back exposed to the sun and traffic in the shop window painting sunsets, bright mosaics, and trees on to the wall that acts as a background for the display. And I love it! Okay, I wish I had a cloak of invisibility for those high traffic days, but otherwise I really enjoy having a consistent seasonal project. The staff at the flower shop are so talented and great to be around also. They are extremely professional and knowledgeable at their craft. I love watching them create their beautiful floral displays.
I’d love to hear what some of your dream jobs are. Let me know in the comments what they are or if you’re currently working your dream job.
I’m not a stranger to drawing deadlines. When I was cartooning I would do about two cartoons a week. When I was working on “Guaiyayon Na Trongkon Mansanita” I was on a pretty strict two to three drawings a day schedule. Deadlines are stressful, even when you’re doing something you’re passionate about. It’s a bit easier to stay motivated when you’re held accountable by an editor or a publisher. This month I’m doing a drawing challenge and I don’t have anyone to answer to except for myself. Self accountability can either hurt you or make you stronger. I’m hoping I can whip myself into illustration shape. Inktober is kind of the Cross Fit of art challenges.
Inktober is a 31 day drawing challenge that was created by the artist, Jake Parker. He started the challenge in 2009. I can’t remember when I first heard about it, but I think I learned about it from a You Tuber. I never committed to the challenge before. I would always do a day or two and then lose motivation.
This year, for some reason, I’m really trying to commit to the full marathon of it. And It might seem a bit silly, but I’m really proud to say that I completed a whole week of the challenge and fully intend to cross the finish line.
I’m using the prompt list that is posted on Jake Parker’s site. Prompts are an awesome tool for artists. Cartooning is basically drawing with prompts thrown out at you by society and politicians. Illustrating a book involves working with prompts from the author. So I like the challenge of prompts and the official list is single word prompts, which gives artists a lot of flexibility. There are lots of other Inktober prompt lists available on the internet too. I noticed a lot of witchy prompts and spooky themed prompts on Instagram. I think some artists also come up with their own personal lists. I might try that next year.
I made a mini haul purchase from Jet Pens to prep for Inktober. I needed new pen nibs and I really wanted to try Prismacolor’s Col-erase pencils out. I’m loving them! Seriously, I think they’re great for sketching and they do erase pretty well. Look out for a review later this month. I’m also using Deleter ink, Copic markers – mostly in grey tones, and Sakura Microns. By the way, Jet Pens is a great place to order supplies online. If you spend over $25 they ship for free, even to Guam! I love them and I’m not getting anything to say that. I just really appreciate being able to buy supplies at a reasonable price and not having to pay double for shipping.
Art supplies are fun, but I have to say that a great part of this challenge is that you don’t need a ton of special supplies. All you need is ink and paper. A ball point pen would do. And there is a lot of great artwork out there done entirely in ball point pen.
I’m documenting my Inktober experience on Instagram and Twitter. Both those feeds are embedded in this blog, but I’d love for you to follow me on either platform: @illusdreted. Are you doing the Inktober challenge? If you are, comment with your Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat username so I can follow you! And if you’re looking for some drawing motivation or inspiration check out the hastags: #inktober & #inktober2016 . There are artists all over the world participating. They use all kinds of different techniques and are of all skill levels. It’s kind of become a world wide online gallery allowing you to observe artists’ work as they challenge themselves and grow. Thank you, Jake Parker!
I like the way watercolor nail art looks. I’ve seen the tutorials online for a while, and have wanted to try it out but I can totally see myself making a huge mess of it. So I set out to find a way to get a similar result with out so many opportunities for me to make a mess of my hands and whatever work space I’m occupying.
Why not use actual art supplies? A paint brush has got to be a lot easier to work with than a piece of plastic. And nail polish is pretty thick, unlike watercolors. I guess you could use cheap nail polish, but what if you just used watercolors? Watercolors might drip right off of a glossy base. So you’ll need a matte base. And how do you get the watercolor to not react to your top coat? That’s where Derwent’s Inktense pencils come in. These pencils are similar to watercolor pencils, except their workability stops when they dry. Hence the “ink” part of the name.
So here’s what you’ll need:
- A light base nail polish – I used OPI’s I Cannoli
- A clear matte polish – I used Revlon’s Transforming Effects Top Coat Matte 790
- Small paint brush(es)
- Small jar of water
- Two or three Inktense Pencils – I used Sea Blue, Deep Indigo, & Ink Black
- A glossy top coat – I used a super cheapy top coat
Once you gather all of that:
- Paint a coat or two of your light base.
- After your base is completely dry, apply the matte polish.
- After your matte coat is completely dry you can start painting on the watercolor designs. I wet my paint brush and run it against the rim of the jar to make sure it isn’t over saturated. Then I get pigment from the tip of the pencil on to the brush. I painted in layers starting from the lightest color and ending with the darkest. Paint random blobs with the first color. Allow it to dry almost completely. Paint smaller blobs with the second and allow that to dry almost completely. Then paint sparse tiny blobs and wispy swirls with your darkest color.
- Once the paint has completely dried paint on your glossy top coat. This should bring out the colors and pattern contrast in your designs. I did two coats of top coat.
If you do try it out and share it on instagram or twitter please tag me, @illusdreted, so I can admire your work.
I missed a pretty awesome opportunity a little while ago. A series of workshops for children’s book authors and illustrators was being offered. If you had an interest in creating children’s books and could commit to all the days of the workshops, the opportunity was available and it was funded through a grant, making it free for participants. I was definitely interested, but sadly could not commit to all the days of the workshops, because like many local artists, I have a day job. – Just a side note, I switched jobs twice last year. It was a year of … transitions.
That was a major bummer until I got a message from a friend, asking me to call her. Victoria Lola Leon Guerrero is the managing editor of University Press, which just created a branch, Taiguini Books, that focuses on publishing cultural books. As it turned out, Taiguini Books decided to choose a few of the stories that were worked on at the workshops to produce in time for FestPac. They picked four stories to publish. At the time of the selection the authors had already chosen illustrators. Lola called me because one of the illustrators had backed out and she needed an illustrator who could turn it out really quickly, like a month. Yeah. Despite the deadline anxiety I enthusiastically agreed. A lot of that enthusiasm was brought on by the story and the fact that I could relate too it.
Guaiyayon Na Trongkon Mansanita is about young siblings and the Mansanita tree that they grow up with. Delores Indalencio Camacho, the author, wrote the first draft of this story over a decade ago. She’s been holding on to it in her mind even longer, since it is in fact the story of her, her sisters, and their mansanita tree. My cousins and I grew up with a siniguelas tree at our grandparents house. It shared a similar life and fate as the Camacho’s mansanita tree. Children played in it’s shade, their laughter carried by the wind through it’s leaves. They climbed it’s branches and were treated to the fruit it lovingly produced. I think a lot of people who grew up in Guåhan, at least my generation and earlier, can relate to this story.
It ended up taking a little over a month to complete the illustrations. It was a fun filled journey. I spent most Mondays in Lola’s office with her and Ms. Camacho going over sketches, the line drawings, and finally the colored and completed illustrations. I’ll explain more of the behind the scenes details in a future post. It was a truly great experience. A lot of that had to do with the support that Taiguini Books provides through Lola’s hard work. I’m honored that Ms. Camacho agreed to have me illustrate a story that was so very special to her.
Guaiyayon Na Trongkon Mansanita was written by Delores Indalencion Camacho and Illustrated by myself, Andrea Nicole Grajek. It is written in CHamoru with english translations in the back of the book. If you’d like to purchase a copy they are available at MARC at UOG, as well as the UOG bookstore. You can also purchase them at Bestseller. They are $17 each. You should also check out the other three children’s books that Taiguini Books published. They would all make a great addition to your children’s book shelf.
In the coming weeks I’ll be posting about the illustration process, the importance of literature for Pacific children, as well as my experience working with the author and publisher. So look out for that.
July is World Watercolor Month! Learn more about how that came about and the great cause it supports over at Doodlewash. In celebration of World Watercolor Month and my return to blogging, I’m going to do a bunch of watercolor related reviews and posts throughout July.
For the longest time I was intimidated by watercolor paints. Watercolor painting did not come naturally to me and, unlike acrylics, if you mess up you can’t just paint over your oops. It only gets worse if you try. Because of that I mainly painted in acrylics and when I started focusing on illustration I gravitated to ink. When I decided I wanted more color options in my illustrations I added Copic Markers and then Derwent’s Inktense pencils. Both are amazing, but pricey. I needed something for washes that wouldn’t leave me feeling reluctant about wasting product. So I finally ended up buying a really inexpensive school grade set of watercolors. I tried tubes to start, but cheap tubes were just not working for me, so I moved on to pans.
My cheapy watercolors were great to mess around with – watercolor blobs – and I actually used them for the work I did for my solo exhibit a couple years ago. I even used those same watercolors, with ink and Copics, to illustrate a children’s book. I’ll tell you more about the book in a future post. They served me very well, especially considering the price.
A few months ago I saw an art supply review on You Tube for Prima’s Watercolor Confections. I’m not going to lie here, what really attracted me to them was the packaging. Many of the affordable watercolor pan sets I see come in white plastic packaging and they usually have a poorly designed sticker on them. The Watercolor Confections come in a plain black tin, no branding at all, and it manages to still offer mixing / palette space while maintaining that minimalist look. It’s a form and function win.
There are three sets available: The Classics, Decadent Pies, and Tropicals. I was gifted The Classics shortly after watching that review. The 12 pans come individually wrapped and you just pop them back into their slots after unwrapping them. They do slide around a bit if you have them in your bag. It’s not a big deal, but it would be cool if Prima made the pans a bit more snug in the tin. Of course you could just put some double sided tape down and fix it yourself. Did I do that? Nope. Not yet.
On to the real meat of the review, are the actual paints any good? I like them. The color variety of The Classics works for me. They’re pigmented well, but maintain that sweet water color transparency. Some colors are definitely more intense than others. I haven’t had them long enough to tell you how they rank in permanence. I will use them for illustration projects that will mostly end up digitized, so that isn’t the biggest concern for me. Overall I’m a fan of the product and I’d love to get my hands on the Tropicals and Decadent Pies sets. The sets are around $18 – $27, depending on where you purchase them. I know you can find them on Amazon, that way you can compare prices.
I haven’t tried any other Prima products, but I noticed that they also sell watercolor pencils, water brushes, and watercolor panels. Have you tried any of their products? I’d love to know if they might be worth looking in to.
Since the first of this month, I’ve been looking forward to a kind of special day. But today I realized that my special day passed with out me realizing it. May 23 2014 is the day that my first editorial cartoon was published. May 23 2015 – I was super busy and completely forgot about my cartooniversary. 😦
Oh well. My next cartoon will be my 100th published cartoon. I guess I can celebrate that, hopefully on Friday.
I was planning to do a special blog post about cartooning for the last year. I’m kinda bummed about missing the day so I don’t really want to write much… So instead I’ll leave you with a comic strip glimpse of what comes with cartooning.
Social Distractions - by Nezumi - Reconstructing Wonderland - comic strip
I’ve been drawing people a lot lately. It’s been mostly in cartoons and working on comic concepts. Sometimes I use poses straight from my imagination, but more often I use pictures of friends or myself. There are a lot of resources online that can be helpful too though. I’m trying to get a better grasp at drawing people so I’ve been looking in to finding more of those resources and thought I’d share them with you. I made a list of some of my favorites.
Croquis Cafe – On Air Video, Inc. produces their Croquis Cafe. This is on You Tube and it’s a series of videos with nude models in various poses. The 360 series presents the models slowly spinning. This allows you to pause the clip at the angle you wish to draw the model at. It is also a great reference for sculpting. The In Real Time series has the models switching poses in 1, 2, and 5 minute increments. It’s great for timed practice sketching or if you want to do a more detailed session you can pause the clip on your pose of choice.
New Masters Academy – Also on You Tube, the New Masters Academy produces videos of models posing. They offer a series of nude and clothed models. Their channel also offers demos and tutorials.
Pinterest – Pinterest searches are great ways to find gesture drawing reference material. Some fun searches are belly dancer, jumping, and aerial silks.
Deviant Art– It’s not just artwork on display here. User submitted stock images and reference photos are made available on Deviant Art also. You can check out SenshiStock for some action/adventure poses. Drawing someone walking is sometimes easier said than done. Pyjama-Cake has you covered on those “seems basic, but WTF – this is hard,” poses.
The start of a new series, I hope. Maybe a book? Or magnets? We’ll see where it goes.
Nezumi’s cartooning essentials:
My cartoons for the Mariana’s Variety Guam Edition are published in black and white. This makes my essential supply list pretty simple. I sketch with a basic Steadtler HB pencil. I add the grippies because they’re a lot more comfortable when you’re drawing for a while. I use two different erasers. While I’m sketching I use the Pentel Clic Eraser 2 and to erase the sketch after I finish inking I use the Pentel Black eraser. Sakura Microns are great for inking. I really want to get one of their brush pens. I use an assortment of Sharpies when I’m making really bold lines and coloring in large spaces. Sometimes I use my black Copic for large fields too. My white Gelly Roll is the icing on my cartoon cake and occasionally an inky oops corrector.
Nezumi’s cartooning extras:
When I first started cartooning I inked with dip pens and brushes. This was how I had grown used to illustrating so I thought it would be okay with my cartooning. I quickly learned that it was not convenient or time efficient. I don’t always get to cartoon at my drafting table and I don’t want to have to pull out ink bottles, pen holders and nibs at my day job. I mean they’re cool, but not that cool. I do miss the sound of nibs on paper though.
Sometimes after I’ve sent in my cartoon, I color them for fun. Copics and Inktense pencils are awesome for doing that. I need to work on an adult satire based coloring book. Would that be a hit? What are your favorite creative supplies?