Finding Joy in Art

Maybe the reason why I feel motivated to write a happy article is because of how happy I feel right now. As of this morning, I posted page 4 of Dragon Rider’s Dance on time! I realize I didn’t mention this in my last journal entry, but I’m going to be posting every Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Actually… let me go put that ON the website…

Okay! Done!

One of the reasons why the comic is bringing me so much joy is because a couple months back, I decided to improve my digital art skills. I’ve been a traditional art painter for so long and the last time I’ve done any digital art was ten years ago (so my current skills are that of a highschooler! Haha!), but I kept getting frusterated just making “A digital painting”, but with this comic, I’m learning how to use the program tools to make my art quickly (something highly valued if you’re going into making comics or concept art), to make artwork of my characters, and I’ve written pages and pages of history, lore, and backstory working out philosophical questions that I have: for example: What happens when you were once a hero, but as you age, rather than accepting your new place as a mentor fostering the next generation, you desperately try to hold on to that glory at any cost? Whereas before, I didn’t have a means of working them out.

WIP of Matthias- my main POV character. This will be a digital art piece! So excited!

I would LOVE to get rich off this comic! Sell comics, make t-shirts, merch, present at cons, see cosplayers of my characters at said Cons, all that good stuff, but if that never happens, that’s okay. I’m happy. This is already helping me improve my skills, I’m having fun, and it’s helping me think through stuff in an entertaining narrative fashion.

My characters are also my beloved children (who I put through difficult situations because it builds character).

This is the kind of power art should have. Art should help you wonder, help you harness your creative power. Art should be a thing of beauty that you want to add to the world. Art should help you think, enrich your mind, perhaps change it. Art is patient, art is kind, art is never jealous, yadayadayada.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful Tuesday!


Should You Draw Things You Hate?

You know what I hate? Buildings.

Can’t stand them.

The very sight of a building makes me sick.

Okay, that last part’s not true, I love old buildings. Old castles, old churches, old banks. I love being in them.

You know what I hate? DRAWING buildings. PAINTING buildings especially.

I don’t know what it is, but every time I have to draw or paint a building (which is not often), I can’t stand it. They never look the way I want them to, when I start a painting that has buildings, it’s as if my brain/creative spirit turns into a cat or a toddler throwing a tantrum where every time you try to pick them up, they turn into liquid and escape through your arms, I have to paint them over and over again- and the multiple layers of failed buildings add to the yuck factor even more.

And I believe lots of artists have something like that. That one cursed subject that they just are not good at no matter how hard they try.

Somebody who likes drawing horses might not like drawing motorcycles, somebody who likes drawing animals is asked to paint a portrait of a human and they run away screaming (with good reason. Humans are insanely difficult and only drawn and painted by masochists).

This is the work in progress of someone who enjoys suffering

So… should you keep trying to draw things you just don’t enjoy? Here are three reasons you shouldn’t… and five reasons you should. You can decide

Why you should NEVER draw things that don’t inspire you.

1. It can be detrimental if you’re a beginner and just learning how to make art.

If you’re a beginner artist especially, this is important. You’re not going to learn how to paint or draw things as quickly if you don’t enjoy it. I believe that if you enjoy drawing or painting horses, you are going to be motivated want to learn everything you can to make those horses as beautiful, believable, and something for you to be proud of as possible.

2. It’s taking away time from drawing things you DO enjoy

If you’re not a professional artist, a student at an art school, or otherwise don’t have a lot of free time, then chances are you don’t have a lot of time in the day where you have the energy to create art. If you decide for whatever reason to draw things you don’t enjoy, then that’s taking away time from drawing the things you do enjoy.

And chances are the things you do enjoy require a lot of training and skill. You might have gaps in your knowledge on how to draw those things you enjoy. Wouldn’t you rather fill those gaps rather than waste time drawing things you don’t enjoy?

3. Life is already full of “chores,” art does not have to be one of those things.

If you have a 9-5 or retail job, bills you have to keep up, student loans, then you already know that life is difficult and unfair. Not to mention war, famine, corrupt politicians, and those things you can’t control yet are constantly bombarded with. Art is therapeutic, fun, and gives you the opportunity to create and add something beautiful to this world, to create a gift for someone you love, and it can spiritual needs to if you’re a spiritual person (most artists I know are VERY spiritual in some form or another). Why why WHY would you want to make art yet another chore?

Why you should ALWAYS try to draw things that don’t inspire you

1. Sometimes, you have to.

If you do go to art school, work for an art director, or have freelance clients, chances are they’re going to want you to draw things you don’t enjoy. Sure, maybe they are better off hiring someone else who actually does enjoy drawing the things you don’t, but what if you were still good at drawing those things even if you don’t enjoy them? That would be very valuable. Another thing too: what if you, like me, hate drawing buildings, but love making portraits of people (because you’re a masochist).

2. You don’t have to do it ALL the time

Again, this is more geared at people who are trying to get by freelancing while juggling the 9-5 job. What if you tried drawing or painting things you hated… just for a week? Make a challenge out of it? You don’t have to draw the things you hate all the time, but if you did so some of the time here and there, it won’t kill you, and you’ll probably learn something… even if that something is you truly NEVER want to draw those things again.

3. You can learn new things from drawing things you can hate…

It seems that certain subjects have different rules for drawing them. If you draw animals, you have to know how to draw fur or scales well. If you draw buildings, you draw lots of geometric shapes. If you draw people, you draw more curves and soft edges (not to mention hair).

I’ve always found that learning to draw something new, or coloring in a different medium actually improves your skills when you go back to your usual subjects or mediums. I’ve learned a lot about oil painting because of the different rules I had to learn for colored pencil. I’m also finding that drawing humans requires a lot of geometric shapes that I’m learning more quickly when I draw buildings.

4. …Then apply it to things you love!

What if somebody gives you a really cool commission where you paint a relative of theirs, and the paint the old family home in the background? Wouldn’t that be cool? Creating a little bit of history there?

5. In the end, you might realize that you don’t hate it after all.

Maybe you never really hated those subjects, but instead, you were just never taught the right way to draw/paint them. After spending time learning to draw the things you hate, you might find you don’t hate it after all, you would have learned a lot more, and become a more interesting and well rounded artist!

So I Started a Webcomic…

Alright, so in my last blog post, I was going to try doing a digital art challenge to improve my digital painting skills, but right after that, I got a really bad flu, then went on vacation right afterwords. After all that, I’m finally back at 100% and getting back to my normal routine.

For over ten years, I’ve had this fantasy genre story about a dragon rider, his dragons, and the adventures they go on, in my head. When I first came up with the idea in middle school, I drew these comics all the time. They weren’t anything overly dramatic or serious- just silly, fun comics more based on the early 90’s comics featured in Dragon magazine (such as Dork Tower and PVP).

I don’t remember how it started, but I do remember being grounded a lot (for good reason!) in middle school. I drew these comics because I couldn’t watch TV or play computer games.

As I got older, I wanted to write a more dramatic story. My characters would go through more high stakes adventures, have more tragic backstories,- Dragonslayers would be legitimate threats instead of minor nuisances, yadayada. I would keep writing and rewriting and rewriting the story. Finally, I came to this conclusion: it’s been over ten years, and I have nothing published or online.

I wanted it to be perfect before releasing it. These characters are still in my head, they have a story that needs told, and it must be in comic format (because I’m an artist).

Looking back, I realized one of the first things that really jumpstarted my art skills were these comics. I learned how to draw landscapes so that I could draw more beautiful environments for my characters to live, I learned anatomy and poses so that I could draw my characters better.

Here’s one problem I’ve had with my story: I have certain things that are constant: like my characters, the genre, and the places, but I’ve come up with dozens of different plots for the story.

So! To overcome this, I’ve decided to play a game: Schrodinger’s Webcomic: All realities exist at once until a comic is drawn and put online… or something along those lines. My plan is to upload a comic panel, then play on the previous panel, then keep everything as consistent as possible. So no retcons, or anything like that (hopefully).

It’s going to be fun! It is fun so far! I’m already learning a lot about digital art in the process.

If you’d like to check it out, The Webcomic is called Dragonrider’s Dance (might change the name. It’s still in the early stages). For now, I’m going to be uploading every Tuesday and Thursday.

Here’s the link:

The art’s not want I want it to be… YET! But I don’t care! I’m having fun! ^_^ I missed these guys.

7 Day Digital Art Challenge!

Focus: Character Design

Day 1: Black and White Self Portrait (Before)

Day 2: Practice Drawing Lines (or go to line boot camp)

From here on out, practice drawing lines for 5 minutes prior to additional exercises

Day 3: Writing a story/ sketching concept

Day 4: Line art

Day 5: Color

Day 6: Different Color Pallets

Day 7: Finishing Touches- simple background

I’ll using these series of videos by Marco Bucci to help me:

Hours Total: 3.5- typical week at a university class.

Well gang, I’ve done it! I’ve worked extra shifts at work, stayed late, would’ve come in early if the boss wasn’t always 3 minutes late, and I finally got my new graphics card, which means I can now create digital paintings again! Hooray!

This was a happy day for Mr. and Mrs. Meyer, lots of hard work went into making this possible… little did they know… that God decided for some reason they haven’t suffered enough (read on)!

So, Mr. Meyer and I got the graphics card installed… slight hiccup though… the motherboard mistook the new graphics card for that scumbag that ran over her chihuahua with an SUV… repeatedly, and in short used the lame-ass excuse, “did not recognize the new hardware”, which was FRUSTRATING, but we got it figured it out.

But then when I went to test the one thing I broke my back so hard to save for the stupid thing… aka the brush lag on Paint Shop Pro…

… it STILL wasn’t working. Thankfully, I got up at 5, immediately called up support, and two hours later, it’s finally working. It involved uninstalling and reinstalling the thing, point is it works.

It was NOT the most frustrating day of my life, but it was kind of pain, yes.

The Challenge!

Boy do I love my 7 Day challenges. I always mean for them to be 30 days, but that always sounds too daunting, but once 7 days have past, usually the remaining 23 days go by without a hitch!

So, adding on to my 3 Hour Workday Challenge, the next 7 days are going to be more about enhancing my digital painting skills. Learning Time is going to consist of 30 minutes following along tutorials on how to digitally paint, and 1 hour Commissions is going to be dedicated to spending 30 minutes on two digital “commissions” I’m working on (they’re not real commissions, one is an example character design piece I’m working on and one is actually a gift for some good friends of mine), and 60 minutes dedicated to Business (probably learning photobashing).

On top of that, I’m also going to be posting various things I learn:

Here is what I did today. A self portrait. Much like how the artists of the Renaissance worked in the old days, a common recommendation among digital artists is to make a black and white painting, then add color over it. Hence why my painting looks like something from Haunting of Hill House (or was that Betrayal At House on the Hill…? Ah whatever).

If anybody knows a horror game board game maker in need of an artist who also isn’t dumb enough to ask said artist to work for free, please let me know! and all that!

Doesn’t this look like the work of someone who did a ton of digital art in high school, gave it up to run off to Europe to learn art restoration, then picked it up again as she fast approaches her early 30’s?

Have a beautiful day!

2020 Self Portrait Project: Half Photo/ Half Painting

I’m thinking about writing in the near future something to do with the philosophy of digital art vs. traditional art, but in a nutshell, I want to expand my knowledge and artistic ability as much as I can, so lately I’ve been learning more about how to add “digital artist” to my arsenal of titles.

Now any digital artist worth their salt knows that mastering masking layers is the key to creating the best digital art there is… at least when I’ve been watching tutorials by guys who do this sort of thing for a living, that’s what they say.

I don’t use Photoshop, I use Paint Shop Pro, which is less expensive than Photoshop, but still more intuitive and user friendly than Gimp. Even so, knowing how to use masking layers is not as intuitive in Paint Shop Pro as the other more expensive program, so I spent the whole morning at my computer learning how to make masking layers.

On a slightly unrelated note, there’s this new self portrait trend on Instagram where you take a photo of yourself and paint half of it. Here are a few examples below:

Now, it looks like a fun challenge, of which I definitely want to take part, but there’s a teeny-insie-beensie little problem.

AshMeyerArt has a very VERY strict policy of not having any photos of the artist!

Self portraits, yes, but no photos! Darn!

However, I figured out a way AROUND this problem- inspired by Caravaggio. I have taken a photo of myself in a dark room, and have a light source on one side of my face. You can barely barely BARELY see the half of my face where the photograph is.

So, I have the photo getting printed (I do not have a good printer at home), but while I’m waiting for that, I used the photo for my learning how to make masking layers.

That was when I discovered Paint Shop Pro has this fun little plug-in called “Pic to Painting” where you can take photos and put a painting filter over them. I had a lot of fun playing with it this morning, and I also used the masking effects to give that painting to photo transition:

So yes! That was a lot of fun! I’m still going to use a traditional medium (I thought oil paint, but I realize watercolor would also be interesting, especially with the pretty pastel light effects that this image inspires), but I really think that digital art can help enhance traditional art, and vise versa. I’ve seen oil painters use Photoshop to create their references, play with color pallets and almost work as a way of practicing making the painting before they use those expensive oil paints to make their finished product.

New Project: Character Design Portfolio

Good morning and hello!

I’ve been keeping up with my daily art- and my one hour dedicated to “business” has been really helpful to get me inspired, figure out what about my art do I like that could also create an income. For the past few weeks, I’ve been teaching myself a “class” on character design- which means finding successful artists in the industry and learning what they do.

I do feel like I’ve hit a bit of a block because I really need a new graphics card, so I’ve been putting in extra hours at my day job to make digital art, now, am I a digital artist? No! I’m an oil painter, but it’s still a very valuable skill to learn if you’re like me, a huge nerd who’s always loved designing characters.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a comic book artist, I designed characters and wrote entire stories all the time. I’ve never stopped loving doing that, and while my career path has diverged into the art history/conservation side, I want to get back into character designing. The more I’ve been doing it, the more I realize how much I loved it!

So, an easily attainable goal I have is- build a portfolio!

As such, I’m kind of taking this learning backwards, rather than learning character design first, I think it’s better to learn how to build a good portfolio- that way you know what art directors and clients are looking for, and can make your art reach that goal.

My portfolio will consist of character sketches, a few variations (characters with different color schemes and costumes, turnarounds, poses, and of course splash (the kind of art you would put on your wall).

I’m really excited about this because it’s an opportunity to hone my art skills in various ways: story telling, figure design, still life art (maybe your character holds objects that you wouldn’t generally draw otherwise), and even making some beautiful, print-worthy art!

Wait a minute! I already have a few character sketches! Lookie here!

Okay! So, goal for next week: Make more character sketches (maybe less scribbly), then I’ll post them here!

5 Reasons You Should Dance Every Morning!

Good morning and hello everyone!

I don’t quite know what prompted me to do this, but I’ve started the day by turning on a silly song (lately, it’s been Melodika Bros’ cover of System of a Down’s Chop Suey, brewing coffee, grabbing a glass of water, and while the coffee’s brewing…

…and dance like a silly person!

I mean, it’s the PERFECT morning song! The lyrics start with “Wake up, grab a brush and put on a little makeup” that means it’s GOTTA be a happy-go-lucky morning song… riiiiiiiight?

So! 5 Benefits I’ve noticed:

1. It’s Good Exercise

Dancing, taking many steps all at once like that gets your heart pumping, your blood flowing, and it doesn’t even take that long. Unless your job requires a lot of movement, chances are you’re going to be spending most the day in front of a screen whether that’s work, school, or even at home.

2. You Start the Day More Confident

Like before, how dancing is good exercise, moving your body boosts your confidence. I think the silliness factor helps a bit- not being afraid to make an utter fool of yourself in private, practicing doing that a while, then when you’re out in public, you can be a little silly, but more confident. So, that exercise, confidence boost, and starting the day a little silly can make you a more interesting and charismatic person. Most importantly, your energy will affect others, and they can have a good day in turn!

3. It Carries on the Rest of the Day

Think about this, if you start the day by reading a negative news, or miserable because you’re dreading work, then you’re stuck in traffic and that jerk cuts you off, that’s just another thing to add to your list of misery. Starting the day off by moving your body, being positive and silly, and having a bit of fun, in my experience, I found diminishes these negative experiences. Rather than, “Great! I spilled my coffee everywhere, what ELSE can go wrong?” you end up thinking, “I’m in such an an AMAZING mood! I never want this feeling to go away!” And you don’t! You look around, and find more happy things, it didn’t rain on your way to the train, there’s a cute bird playing happily, and adorable dog out for her walk walked right by you and you have the confidence to ask her owner if you can pet the dog! The owner ignores you, but no big deal! Today will still be awesome!

4. It Makes You More Creative

At least it does me, as an artist, creativity first thing in the morning is very important to me. There is evidence to suggest that grogginess helps with memory and creativity, not only is that lingering grogginess still there, the dancing helps me to put my desire for creativity and productivity into overdrive. I want to make more art, build my art business even more, heck this is the second article I’m writing today (scheduling it for the next day, of course) all because I started this day happy. In fact, the things that generally bother me- ie, the dread of going to my day job, are nonexistent. There is only now, and I must create!

5. You’re Happier!

So, you started the day with exercise, more confident, having a much better day, and more creative. Have more days like this, and you’re happier!

Coffee with Art: Drawing Hair

Good morning and hello!

I just wanted to share this:

It’s not super realistic. But I don’t care! It’s still fun!

I haven’t posted anything on this website in a short while, but I definitely have been keeping up with my 5am morning routine (only slept in once since I started waking up at that time again in December and that was only until 5:45!)

For those of you who might remember, back in December, I did a 3 Hour workday challenge where I got up at 5 am then dedicated 30 minutes to Learning, 1 hour to working on projects, 1 hour learning Art Business related stuff, and 30 minutes blogging.

While I’ve still been getting up at 5am, a couple things happened that made my morning routine go out of whack. For starters, I used up my whole sketchbook (yay!), but that meant I didn’t have a sketchbook to continue practicing art during Learning Time, and the other thing was my painting projects got to a point where they feel 99.999% finished, but I feared if I did anything more with them, I would ruin them (Law of Diminishing Returns).

Well, today was all about learning how to draw hair! I followed this digital painting tutorial using pencils!