My Artistic Flaws to Overcome

Otherwise known as, my personal failings as an artist. ;)

Not exactly a “New Year’s Resolution” list–I’m nearly a month late on posting that–but it could serve the same purpose.

Anyway, the things I’m trying to overcome as an artist:

1. I’m impatient.
I can take a long time to get a story written down without trouble, but I can generally see the event unfolding in my mind only slightly faster than I’m capable of typing.
But with a single drawing, I see the entire image in my head, all at once, and I want to get it down! Right! Now!

I’ve long ago learned that what looks like a simple sketch might take a more practiced artist (which is to say, one with any practice at all) several hours to draw, so I know I’m being unreasonably impatient with my own work.
But there is a fine line between knowing this and being able to act on it.

And on the subject of projects that take far longer to create than to imagine, I’ve recently taken up woodcarving, and would also (once I have the tools) like to give wood burning a try.
So now I really need to work on drawing; I’d like to make some of my own patterns, instead of relying entirely on images other people provide… though there’s nothing wrong with using a premade pattern for practice, or occasionally for gifting under certain circumstances.

2. I hate to waste resources.
It is almost entirely for this reason that I prefer working digitally. Granted, the ability to undo a mistake with the click of a button is nice, but what really interests me is that I can never “use up” my papers and pens.
But I do have plenty of sketchbooks, bought over the years with practicing in mind. As I admitted to a friend on deviantArt, how is that not waste if I never use them?

3. To follow up with the digital art, I like to experiment.
I take very much a “what does this button do” approach when trying out different tools and features. I’ll willingly use any shortcut for the sheer curiosity of seeing what it does.
That being said, I still try to make something good.

4. And another “digital” flaw–I am terrible at drawing on one surface (graphics pad) while looking at another (computer monitor).
I think a lot of people who do digital art have this problem.
The other common problem is that computers break down. If I rely entirely on digital art, never practicing on paper, then the loss of such a tool represents time that I am not practicing. Note that this is just as much a problem for writing as for drawing. And a digital file is much more easily corrupted than a piece of paper.

5. I am forgetful.
In seeking advice, I might ask an artist how he or she achieved a particular effect… and then ask that exact same question the next time that artist puts up something using the same effect.
This is also why I don’t enter many contests, or don’t often reply to comments or thank people for following/liking my work (or for offering constructive critiquing), in spite of leaving such messages in my inbox for the very purpose of reminding me.

6. In spite of being a writer by choice, I don’t always convey my intended meaning very well, especially in “real” communication (as opposed to all those fantasy narratives I dream of publishing).
Case in point, if I ask what tools you used to achieve a particular digital drawing, I’m not asking what program you used–I’ll actually ask what program it was if I want to know that, and I’ll usually only be interested in that for financial reasons.
No, if I ask you about tools, I’m asking about details like line thickness, opacity, number of layers, and so on. I consider those to be the tools. The program you’re using is merely the canvas you use those tools on, and makes less difference to me than whether the piece is digital or hand-drawn.
And speaking of which–the tools we use do not make the artist, but they can make a difference to the art, else why do we choose certain kinds? Why would we need to?
The answer: we choose them because they make a difference. Different tools work better for different projects, and our talent allows us to learn those tools and decide which one is best for the effect we want.
I see it one of two ways: either the time and talent, as “things” used to produce our art, are just as much tools as the physical implements (in which case tools most definitely do make the artist precisely because talent does ;) ) or….
The talent makes the artist, the artist chooses the tool, and the artist uses both talent and tool to make the art.

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Minor Nitpick: Context and Correct Word Usage

I could go so many ways with this one.

There are the “commonly confused word” lists, words that sound a lot alike but are spelled different and have obviously different meanings, like “its and it’s” or “there, they’re, and their.”
There are the (apparently) less commonly recognized, yet still commonly confused or misspelled words like “nitpick” or “knitpick.”
And there are words that aren’t really words (or so grammar teachers keep telling us) like “irregardless.”

Or there are the words that have no connection between them, that one couldn’t imagine how anybody could confuse them for each other, yet the confusions still happen.

My nitpick here is thus: What is with this trend of using the word “cannibal” to describe a man-eating creature regardless of what that creature’s own species is?
Are professional writers using a dictionary that is magically available only to them? Because I can’t find any definition of the word that specifically means eating people. A person eating other people, yes, but every definition I’ve seen is that a “cannibal” is something that eats its own kind.

Case in point: a cannibalistic human like Hannibal Lecter would eat other humans, yes.
But a cannibalistic tiger would eat other tigers.
A cannibalistic giant, as Doyle called the Allegewi in The Secret Saturdays, should eat other giants (not necessarily humans as the Allegewi was actually known to do and which was Doyle’s reason for calling it a cannibal).

And a cannibalistic tree would eat other trees, or “seeds and cones” as one kid claimed a carnivorous tree would do in… well, I’m not sure where I’d heard that one.
thought it was an episode of Sleepy Hollow, but I can’t seem to find that dialogue in any transcripts. Or maybe it was Grimm, but I’m having the same problem finding dialogue transcripts.
(I do recall quite clearly that the tree in question was found to be full of human skulls, so the double incorrect word choice besides the point, the kid was still wrong about that tree’s “diet.”)

That’s not to say that cannibalistic creatures would not also be man-eaters, just that that isn’t what the word means.
And there’s no way to tell whether this is the author using the wrong word for the purpose, or that the character is. There’s usually nothing else in these stories to suggest that the author–or the character–typically misuses different words, just that one instance with that one word.

And on the subject of words that are completely wrong for the context, how about one that’s less “nitpick” and more “blatantly annoys me?”
What about “deluxe” sandwiches at burger joints?
Now, I can understand using that word way back when, when burgers (or chicken sandwiches in my case) used to be fairly plain, and the lettuce and tomato on the “deluxe” version simply wasn’t provided on the regular cheaper kind.
But not any more. Rare is the sandwich without those toppings, and therefore rare is the need for a “deluxe” sandwich that adds only those toppings.
Deluxe means luxurious. And there is nothing luxurious about a sandwich with a poorer cut of meat, full of gristle, and fewer toppings than what the restaurant previously carried (like many of McDonald’s apparently disappearing Premium Chicken sandwich options like the Ranch BLT that I prefer), yet still costs just as much as that previous offering.
Or the “Ultimate” Chicken Grill at Wendy’s. Ultimate means “final” or “best”… so why  does Wendy’s bother promoting their Asiago, or any other kind of chicken sandwich, if they themselves believe that their plain “chicken lettuce and tomato” with no other toppings is better than anything else they could ever make?

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Places to See and Souvenirs to Find

So I was talking with some relatives and family friends about the State Quarters a while back, and it got me thinking about traveling.

Assuming, for sake of argument, that you had the time and money to go anywhere they wanted, how would you choose where to go next?
And what would you consider an ideal souvenir when you got there?

State Quarters and Random Destinations

The family friends had mentioned using the State and National Park quarters to make such a choice–when it’s time to go on a trip, you look through your pocket change, and you pick your destination from whichever states or parks are represented.
That may be fine if you’re willing to visit a random destination, and if you’re keeping your travels within the country.

But what if you want to go someplace specific? What if you want to visit another country?
My idea, then, would reverse this process. My idea is to visit another country, and obtain as a souvenir at least one coin of that place’s currency.

Specific Destinations and Souvenir Coins

The importance of the souvenir would depend on how I’ve obtained it: the best coins are those I acquire in the normal course of my stay, that I receive in my change when making purchases.
We have plenty of such coins from Canada and Germany alike, now I simply need the means and opportunity to visit other countries for the purpose.
Naturally countries that have gone over to a more “global” currency like the Euro would make this more difficult, but I would still try to obtain other coins.

The second, and less desirable, option would be to visit a shop that deals in older coins and buy the ones I want.

A third option, which falls somewhere in between the two, is to be given such a coin by someone else. If a friend or relative has visited the country and I have not, I would be willing to accept such a coin, but I would set it aside, a gift from the list of “places to visit” rather than a souvenir in its own right.
Or if I have visited the country, a coin given by a local–a friend I’ve made while I’m there, or perhaps a hosting family if I am so lucky as to not need a hotel–could work as well as a coin obtained during any normal purchases.

Themed Ornaments

The “coin” idea could happen, funding and free time depending, any time of the year. But there is another souvenir idea that I came up with recently, one that is specific to this time of year.

And that idea is Christmas tree ornaments.
I visit one country, purchase an ornament specific to that country. Visit another country, purchase another such ornament. And so on, until I can make a themed Christmas tree decorated only with those ornaments… and with any others that have sentimental value, of course.

The trick here is that it would either take a long time to collect enough ornaments, would require visiting multiple countries during one Christmas season, or would require finding such ornaments outside of the Christmas season.
Or all three at once. Or, quite possibly, buying such ornaments online if necessary, but like with the coins, the ornaments would really only count as “souvenirs” if I’ve actually visited the country, and as such should only be attempted as a last resort.
But I believe it can be done if someone wants to try it.

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All I want for Christmas

is my two front teeth.

Oh wait, didn’t I do that joke already?

*Ahem*

Anyway, my Christmas wishlist for this year, in no particular order:

A job doing something I enjoy. Or right now, any job.
Making enough money on so I can pay off my student loan while putting money into the bank, not depleting my account. The more money I earn, the faster I can pay off that loan.

A winning lottery ticket.
And on the “student loan” front, that means I either need a jackpot winner, or the Cash for Life on one of those scratch-off tickets.
Not that I expect to get either one, but I can dream, no? ;)

A Windows tablet, Android, Chromebook, or even an iPad.
I need: a keyboard to work on my fiction, a touch screen and stylus support to practice drawing, and good enough guts to run PhotoShop or a similar program. And maybe a bit better hardware so I can take it to school and use it to do my classwork instead of using the school’s computers.
Also it has to be small, but not too small. The 10-11 inch models sound good.

A better digital camera/camcorder, or both.
One that can record high definition video, and can support at least a night-time filter similar to the night-time lenses I keep with my motorcycle gear.
And has a long video battery life–I want something I can use to record our day-or-longer motorcycle trips, and the one-hour battery life most such cameras report is a dealbreaker.
Even if I use a separate camera for photography, which I’m seriously considering if and when I can afford it, I’ll still want those three things for the bike rides.
For my purposes, a feature like GPS capability would be nice, but isn’t a requirement. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is simply redundant, though wirelessly connecting to a separate (not smartphone!) display might be useful for the rides if I go with a helmet mount.

A FitDesk or similar compact exercise equipment.
Something I can use to exercise while working on the computer. Taking breaks may be fine for an occasional workout, but why not find something that lets me stay active even when I get back to work?

Assorted wood for carving.
Basswood seems to be recommended for beginners, but I wouldn’t mind trying other types of wood when possible.
Also graphite paper for transferring patterns to the wood.
Also patterns to try. ;)
Also a case or sheathe for my Murphy knives.

A PlayStation 4 and/or PlayStation Vita.

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NaNo 2014 Day 22

Thanks to NaNoWriMo changing when you can validate, the official report is:

I won! I won! Doing the happy dance! I won!

And yet, plot-wise, I’ve still got a long way to go.
*cue record scratch*

Well, seeing as the semester isn’t over, I’ll likely be using the rest of the month, and then some, to make sure my homework stays caught up, and won’t be getting back to completing that novel, let alone the Doctor Who rewrites I’d also planned on starting into, until finals are over and done with.
But I will get back to them. I must get back to my writing. I must finish the novel, get something ready to publish…. Not to mention add an “author’s note” of sorts to the back of my short story and reupload to the various sites.

According to MS Word, The Graft’s final word count was 50,417.
According to the NaNo site’s validator, that final count is 50,336.

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NaNo 2014 Day 21

A bit of writing here, a bit of writing there, a bit of NaNoWriMo everywhere. I’m kinda jumping around in my scenes again, but I think I’m done with that fight between the summoner and the Wanderer… as well as the introduction to the summoner’s lair.

Oh, wait, I just noticed some big areas needing editing, like where I chose to swap names between Sima and Ris; seems I forgot to change them all. ^^;
Oopsie. Probably want to fix those before I forget again…. Now I’m going to have to go through and try to remember which character was supposed to have which name, but I think I can manage that just by giving my short story, Rite of Passage, another quick read-through.

Still, progress is progress, though I think one of the upcoming scenes will require a bit of old content again.
Namely, main character Voalt is going to face down the Beast of Gevaudan (or his world’s equivalent) in a scene very much like the one young Doyle faced in my Secret Saturday’s fanfic, Ships in the Night.
So for that scene I’ll be rewriting old content more than creating anything new.

Anwho, speaking of progress….

Daily goal: 1667
Daily written: 2391
Total goal: 35,000
Total written: 43,394
Report card: At this rate, you will finish on Nov 25.

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NaNo 2014 Day 20

I’ve finally finished adding to that first section of the prologue, whoo!

I’m sure I still have editing to do, but now that’s going to have to wait until December when NaNoWriMo is officially over.
Funny how all those “no progress” days cut into my head start, innit? ;)
Now, though, I can get back to plot progress.

Let’s see… where did my old content leave off? Oh, yes, the fight between the Wanderer and the Demon Summoner…..

Daily goal: 1667
Daily written: 2762
Total goal: 33,333
Total written: 41,003
Report card: At this rate, you will finish on Nov. 25

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NaNo 2014 Day 19

So much for my “more progress on busy days” inane rambling. ;)
But this time it makes a bit more sense. See, this time, I not only had that class, I also had some errands to run in the morning (that kept us out until it was about time to head to class), and this Boy Scout turkey dinner thing in the evening… and more errands in between.

While I was on the computer in class, it was to work on the PHP segment of one of our projects… easier said than done when the router wasn’t working so I couldn’t get online to look up error codes and such.
I guess that keeps “my own laptop/tablet” on that Christmas list. For some inexplicable reason, the students who had laptops of their own could get online just fine; it was those of us who were stuck using the school computers that couldn’t access the internet.
I wasn’t on the computer at home, except to post my blog update… and check for new messages on assorted sites and email.

Meanwhile, I’ve just joined up with the Tardis wikia.
No guarantee I’ll post much on there, but I have seen the occasional detail in need of editing, so once my account is finalized (such that it may be), I might start making the odd fix… provided nobody fixes those details first.
Trouble is, the one fix I can think of that needs adjusting right now crosses three pages (an actor’s birthdate); if I fix it on just the profile, does it automatically update the other two, or would I need to update those as well? Need to look through their help info a bit before making any actual changes. For now I’ll just muck about with my profile.
And maybe I’ll (eventually) start joining other wikia for assorted reasons. Maybe.

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NaNo 2014 Day 18

Can someone explain why I seem to get more work done on  my NaNo–which, some days, is to say any work done–on the days I have class?

One would think, since I’m not only in class those days, but have a whole bunch else going on, that I’d get very little writing if any at all done. At the very least, one would think that I’d get a lot less done those days than the rest of the week.
I think the issue is that I’m doing everything else the other days–things to do with Winter and housecleaning, after which I don’t want to do much but sit around with a cup of hot chocolate–but it’s still weird that the days I technically have the “busy schedule” are also the days that I accomplish more writing outside of that schedule.

Anyway, at last count, either I’d mistyped my progress from Day 17 or I managed to delete a bit after, because my word count is a tiny bit lower. (Very tiny, just a 20 word difference.)
I don’t recall doing a whole lot of heavy editing since my last count, but okay, whatever.

For all purposes, I’ll just leave it as “no progress,” mmkay?

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NaNo 2014 Day 16-17

Finally, a more recent… ish NaNoWriMo update! ^^;

I’ve gone back to the prologue, but I’m actually working on new content. Right now I’ve got pirate captain Denizen working himself into a frenzy as he tries not to pace (he hates having to stand still ;) ) while former desert nomad and current First Lieutenant Fahd keeps on eye on the merchant ship’s movements.
Soon they’ll get to attack, which will bring the pirate’s part of the story right up to where the first part of the prologue leaves off. But only after Fahd notices something very peculiar abut the merchant ship… or more accurately, about the people on it.

Outside of NaNo, I am of course continuing to work on homework–why does it always seem like there are more assignments towards the end of the semester? The assignments were laid out from the beginning, and the weekly workload never changes, but it always feels like there’s more to do….
Anyway, I am also attempting to catch up on my reading–only 100 items on my Kindle to go, plus the (shockingly low) half dozen books I still own print copies of. Maybe someday soon I’ll start putting up more reviews.
I’m looking around for a better carving knife, and hoping to hear back from a certain co-author sibling pair regarding lineart from one of their books… also hoping for a chance to meet them afterward; the whole reason I want to do a relief carving from their book is to give it to them as a gift. :D

And back on the subject of reviews, I’ve just found out about the Goodreads Giveaways! Lots of people entering, and plenty of books that I’m not interested in, but it’s worth putting my name in, just in case.
I’ll post something more on the subject later on.
And if I win something and leave a review here, I’m guessing that qualifies as a “Sponsored Post“? Near as I can tell, Amazon Affiliate links would still be allowed, as per WordPress’s Affiliate policy.

Anyway, the numbers as of Day 17.

Daily goal: 1667
Daily written: 3277
Total goal: 28,333
Total written: 38,261
Report card: At this rate, you will finish on Nov. 23.

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