Musing about Creative Goals 2k21

Hey Y’all, I’m Lady T. and I make the New Adult Fantasy Comic MagicalMashup!

Planning up a storm!

We are moving through the New Year and folks are either working on New Year’s resolutions or moving past them. I’m not the biggest fan of resolutions as they sound so do-or-die with little room for adjustment, and when not met exactly as stated just makes me feel like… why should I even bother D: BUT you know what I’m a big fan of? Goals! Making goals any time of the year with strategies to reach them heifers is my jam!

Side passion project I do

Whenever I make goals I try to make them specific to an area I want to improve on instead of being general with them. Like instead of saying “I want to draw more this year.” I’ll say > “I want to complete 1 finished work of art once a month that is either for a friend/collaboration or towards my _Fantastical Lovers collection.”_ a side project that I work on that brings me joy featuring creature and non-creature folks romancing each other with the occasional short story to go with XD. I have posted some on my Insta, but plan to do more on my Patreon down the road since it’s self-indulgent a-f and I don’t wanna worry about censorship :).

This goal takes into account that I am working on a comic and a wedding and I want these goals to be realistic things I can accomplish so I’m spacing them out quite a bit. Being able to reach the goal is such a big part of the goal making process y’all. Being able to reach the goals you set is such a high. It’s Addictive.

These are my creative goals for the new year (had them formatted but the forum wigged out sooo yeah)

Save the dates!

Throw a fun A$$ wedding! That’s on my list bc if y’all hadn’t figured it out yet, I’m pretty extra and I decided that I’d be doing all the Graphic Design work for the wedding and assembled a team of bombastic buddies to help me with the other DIY elements. I Just finished designing, layouts, and printing! I will be cutting, stuffing, stamping, and mailing invitations in the next 2 weeks (pat pat on the back haha). Sneak peek

(It’s adventure fantasy-themed so I’m having a blast with that theme and getting artsy as funk with it!)

Watercolor practice

Participate in at least 2 art challenges. Last year I did #worldwatercolormonth

but didn’t do any others which was a bit of a bummer as I usually do #Inktober or #drawtober and one other like #24hrcomicday (that one is madness, but I did it once) or #folktaleweek. I’m thinking of #huevember for this year and #Worldwatercolormonth again as it was so nice to practice another medium and get immersed in the process of painting traditionally. Huevember bc I LOVE color and exploring the depths of one color a piece should be a great exercise for me and there are always such lovely results posted.
My backup will be participating in at least 3 artist hashtags that last at least 3 days with new original work for them. There was a calendar of # posted a while back (this is rare for me but I don’t have a link to it:sweat_01: sorry y’all, but maybe someone knows it and will share, and I put a bunch of the dates in my planner). I know this year is going to be busier than usual for me, but art is my passion so I will make time for it (outside of my comic that I very much love making :purple_heart: )

Finish drawing and post chapter 2 and start drawing chapter 3 of my comic MagicalMashup! Each chapter is about 30 pages so yeah; I’m in it for the long haul XD. I’ve genuinely gotten faster at making pages now vs 3 years ago (still not Sonic speeds yet lol). The only thing slowing me down is working a full-time job during the day, haha, but it be like that. Maybe someday I’ll be able to contribute to my household through just working on my art, but It’s not something I’d peg our livelihood on any time soon, and that’s ok (as for as capitalist societies go anyway ahah).

Start a YouTube channel called Musing with Lady T. where I post my speed paints and muse about that creative life. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but want to put effort into it so I’m trying to figure out how I want to go about it. I’ve seen some lovely folks on this forum who have YouTubes and I’m inspired! Totally open to suggestions and tips too!

Anywho, I want to know what kind of creative goals y’all have going on or recently accomplished and want to pat yourself on the back for!

TLDR: My creative goals for the year are 1. Throw a fly wedding. 2. Participating in 2 art challenges. 3. Start posting Chapter 2 of my comic MagicalMashup! and getting to work on ch. 3. 4. Start a Musing with Lady T. YouTube channel. Tell me about yours!

Diversity in Comics

Some examples of the characters features in my webcomic MagicalMashup! and all them beautiful skin tones!!

Hi, y’all fellow creatives and musers of the world!

It’s Black History Month, but there is always time to talk about diversity in my book. I make a comic called MagicalMashup! that features a black female protagonist who is also fat or plus size if you prefer, I’m fine with fat as it’s just a descriptor and it is what it is, but I’ve noticed a difference in tags for fat and plus size so yeah… cover all grounds… (body diversity is a whole other can of wigglies that I’m sure I’ll get into at a later date). My cast is also filled with a host of other racially and ethnically diverse characters too with sexualities as beautiful as a rainbow as I draw inspiration from my life. As it is a fantasy setting, the ethnicities are all fictional, but racially speaking I pull from the real world for some relatability and representation. Today I want to talk specifically about characters in our stories and that we draw/illustrate/write that are not white.

As a creator of any racial/ethnic group, do you make black characters or other racial identities that aren’t white and based on real-life people of color for your stories or illustrations? If you do, what leads you to do this? Fill free to share pics of your characters. If you don’t, why not? Are you interested in diversifying your cast or writing?

I think it’s important to look at these types of questions and think about them in earnest and face them head-on as story creators and artists so that we all grow and expand our horizons about each other. I am aware that some folks live in racially homogenous areas so thinking about other races isn’t something that would cross their minds regularly or if you only tell stories based on your life and have never come into contact with someone of another race that would be included in your personal tale, but if you have access to the internet and partake in social media it isn’t hard to come in contact with the diversity of the world and this is about promoting and encouraging that contact.

I thrive in creating works based on fantasy and sci-fi and those two genres are where I like to spread my wings. Growing up much of my exposure to these genres was through white lenses and oftentimes black characters and other racial minorities would be cast as tokens and stereotypes. Even if I didn’t really connect with them, I appreciated them for existing when they showed up in those two genres specifically (Sci-fi had more rep than fantasy for sure though). It’s hard to notice how the things we consume growing up can impact us down the road, but craving representation in the fields that I adore is such a driving force for me that It got me to create art focused around the type of characters I wanted to see (and still do).

I’m not here to accuse or police anyone’s work and I can only speak from the experience I have as a cis black woman living in the USA who is tall, and fat has had a run in with cancer, and often mistaken for a drag queen (no shame in that game as DragQueens are beautiful and extra and I love them, but gotta keep it real as can’t talk about that life from persona experience), but I am curious to know the thoughts other creators have when it comes to racial diversity in their work (which is different from ethnic diversity as racial specifically means physical traits for how people look [skin color and features] while ethnicity is more based on culture. These two tend to go hand in hand, but not always, to be honest, there are more nuances that go into even that so it can get a bit eye-crossing for folks who fall into mixed groups or folks that fall into other groups). For example, my race is Black which gives a basic description for how I look (emphasis on basic), my ethnicity is African American when I fill in paperwork, but I’d put Black American if it were an option as unfortunately I nor my family have had any cultural ties to Africa in generations due to slavery and the loss of any records of where my lineage comes from before my great-grandma. Being Black and American is what I know and there is still more to me than that, but I think you get the gist of what I’m saying.

I started off just doing skin recolors of favorite cartoon characters and making OCs off of them as I didn’t understand the nuances of the differences in illustrating racial groups, but through anatomy studies and people watching (an ongoing learning experience for life), I have been able to apply that to my character designs to make more racially distinct-looking characters. Observation and studies are something I recommend any artist do, and if you are a writer, this also helps when being able to describe your characters with a flair that doesn’t always center around a type of chocolate or food (I love my sweets too, but the verbiage for dark skin is as wide as the sea is vast so don’t be scared to expand form that). There are tons of fabulous resources on writing with color and this is one that I recommend, but there are many more out there, and if you know of any feel free to share 🙂

TLDR: Do you create characters that are Black or other racial identities (different from ethnic identities) that aren’t white? if so, how/why do you? Feel free to post examples of your characters of color. If you do not, how come and would you like to? Any resources for creating with diversity in mind are welcomed as well!

Checkout the post on the Tapas forum foe more replies!

Favorite Tools of the Trade: Pen Edition

Hi y’all!

It’s freezing down here in the south and I just want to be in bed with a heated blanket. Anyways, I may be cold, but something that helps take my mind off of not feeling the best is looking up and trying new art supplies. One of my fav places to scope out and test new supplies is JetPens. They provide extensive reviews of all the drawing and writing supplies that they have for sale. Not only that, but everything is OPEN STOCK!! That’s such a big deal. You artist know why ;). Just to not be that one for those that don’t get it though, it means you can literally buy 1 of any pen or pencil/accessory. Try before investing!! That’s such a big deal when trying to figure out what materials you even like to use. Not only that but if you run out of one thing from a pack, you can buy just what you need. Ultimate customization!

Pens pens and more pens! Checkout my book pouch too hehe.

I wanted to share some of my favorite Pens that I use for making comics and why I dig them so much.

That tip is nice for being fast and keeping it loose!

For Work

Pentel EnerGel .35mm ball Needle Point pen (black). This pen has become my favorite pen to do quick sketches within my Notebook. It has sharp lines and great for cross-hatching and tiny details. My handwriting isn’t very legible with it. but that’s not what I use it for.

I’ve never had pretty handwriting (barely legible on a good day) but this pen gives me the control I crave!

Zebra Sarasa clip 0.5. For making notes on thumbnails and having legible handwriting I like this baby. It goes down smooth, doesn’t skip, and not as sharp as the Pentel, so delicate details arent really its thing, but makes my chicken scratch look semi-legible and I like the way it feels in my hand.

For Legibiliaty
Zebra Tapli Clip Ballpoint Pen – 1.6 mm. Since I write fast and loose, I’ve found that bigger tipped pens that glide instead of run over paper give me a bit more control. For that most any pen with a tip of at least 1.5mm gives me that.

Every Day
Papermate Inkjoy .7MM. These are pretty easy to find most anywhere locally and I totally recommend them. They have a nice mate body that stays put in your hand, great ink flow, a variety of tip sizes & colors, and they feel nice in the hand. I use these for scheduling and keep spares in all my bags.

An example of what these pens look like. The highlight sparkles were made using the red/black pen .

For Fun

Pentel Hybrid Dual Metallic Gel Pen – 1.0 mm. These pens are purely for being cute. I just like to use them to add a lil pop to a bunch of black ink. Though sometimes they serve as a color block to help me remember I want to color a feature in a unique or cosmic way. They provide such a neat effect and flow out of the pens nicely, so you can get some good coverage area.

Tiny tiny color pops

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Gel Pen .4mm. They aren’t the best gel pens, but I like the colors they have and will do in a pinch for details or notes. I seem to always have one somewhere…

I love this lil sloth with its lil smile!

Just Because

Sloth Pen – I just love this lil pen from Earthbound and it puts a smile on my face while at work (not the comic work, but the 9-5 job haha). They don’t have it on the site anymore, but they have other kinds and they are surprisingly good writing pens. The ink tube is also replaceable so woot! They also have journals that I really want to get my hands on, but that’s a whole other deal.

What are some of your favorite pens and where do you get them?

TLDR: List of my favorite pens and a good place to find open stock supplies. Do you use pens for your comics or writing? If so what kinds and why do you like them? Feel free to leave reviews of your favs and where you can get them for anyone curious to try them out :).

Books About Art that Give Life

I thought I posted about the books I’ve been reading during the Pandemic to brush up on my knowledge and skills as an artist already, but turns out I forgot to actually que them up so yeah, let me back track real quick and talk about some of them :}!

Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter by James Gurney, he also has a blog and YouTube channel with lots of fantastic information and art. His book combines a lot of lessons and more from his blog and compiled into a beautiful book filled with color theory explanations and examples anyone from a novice to expert can gain something from.

Reading this book gave me everything I wanted from the studio art classes I took in college. They were good classes, but I didn’t get the understanding I thought I would from the on portraying light and color…or figure drawing. I’m still haunted by cow skulls :/.

Anyway, each chapter is broken up to a two page spread or less with all the key points you’d need to understand the concepts James is talking about. Not just talking, but also showing examples of!!

Idk about you, but nothing makes my eyes roll harder than a book about art techniques or color that’s is all text with small examples. I need to see what you are talking about, and I never had a problem grasping anything James talked about because he creates fantastic examples. All art or photos that he has created or taken himself (often from his Dinotopia series) That’s hella baller and makes this book a most have for any artist.

I got so into reading this book I had to crack open a fresh notebook to take notes in bc the highlighters weren’t enough! For each new topic I created an exercise for practicing what I’ve read. It’s actually something I’ve carried over to any reading regarded art improvement. It’s pretty nifty when I’m trying to decide where to start. Just open the lesson planner and pick something.

He has another book as well that’s called Imaginative Realism that focuses on bringing your imagination to life that I also picked up too. It’s also pretty good, but I found not nearly as practical as much of the advice would then say, “make a maquette” and I’m like….I ain’t got the time, clay, or space for all them figures (as cool as that’d be). Buutt when thinking about it, I can translate it into making 3D models for reference so not a complete bust.

I really love a lot of the fun sketches in this book and models (even if I’m not going to be making them).

The next books are geared towards watercolorist.

The New Encyclopedia of Watercolor Techniques is an incredibly helpful book for exploring watercolors. Everything is laid out neatly with ample examples for each technique discussed. This book has a nice balance of text and art that illustrates each point clearly.

It’s hella comprehensives on the many techniques and tools that can be used when painting and discusses terminology native to watercolor as a medium.

Glazing is a pretty baller technique that I’d like to play with more in future pieces.

The last book I’m going to highlight is actually from a series of how to books by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law that details how she creates her dreamy fantasy watercolor paintings.

Stephanie has created books on making fantasy worlds and the creatures that reside within them. Each book serves as a how to guide for creating fantastical creations in her style. It’s a beautiful style filled with wispy and elegant lines, and soft colors that make a splash on the page.

A lot of my line work tends to lean on the bolder side, but I definitely appreciate studying different kinds of artistic styles since you never know what you may pick up. I’m still reading through the Dreamscapes series, but I’m loving the step by step Stephanie takes from sketch to completed painting and the techniques and tools she used to get there!

When I have more recommendations, I’ll be sure to let y’all know :).

World watercolor month day 4, Quiet

Color Picks and Swatch-O-Mania

Sat down with my paints and got to swatching! Check out my charts woot!

Swatch chart made from my studio palette

These are the colors I have in my Studio Palette. I’ll break them down by brand, but they are all mixed up on my palette. All the brands I’ve chosen have fantastic colors, but as I was being very picky, some do have colors that just spoke to me more during my comparisons.

From Daniel Smith I have the most colors from Buff Titanium, Burnt Sienna, Quinacradone Gold, Quinacradone Coral, Neutral taint, and Cascade Green. Daniel smith has a huge line of beautiful colors and a ton of fun colors I just wanted to try out, Cascade Green is one I look forward to playing with more. Daniel Smith makes beautiful earthy colors, but also vibrant jewel tones too. Quin Coral is just a gorgeous color and so I had to have it. Buff titanium is a convenience color I like for mixing skin and pastels. Neutral tint is for darkening without black and more convenience.

Da Vinci: Raw Umber. I want to try out more Da Vinci colors, but many of the colors I picked out for them lost to M. Graham when I compared my swatches before buying. Now that I have it in my palette I really want to try more colors of this brand bc they set up solid and re-wet so nice and creamy! Not to mention that bang for our buck!

Sennelier: Lemon Yellow, Indian Yellow, and Ultramarine Deep. Sennelier swatched some of the loveliest light colors I’d seen, so I knew I wanted to get my yellows from them. The Ultramarine was a last minute swap, but I dig it as It works well as a softer blue.

M. Graham: Quinacradone Rose, Phthalo Green and Blue. M. Graham has some of the move vibrant colors around. They don’t set up as nice in palettes, but so long as I don’t leave them in the heat and then put them in my bag, they set up enough to travel with. I’m totally in love with the vibrant colors I get with these colors alone, and when mixed, chefs kiss!!

Holbien: Terre Verte. This was a last minute addition. I needed something that would be able to create earthy colors and decided on Terre Verte. I wanted the one from Sennelier, but was sold out so went with Holbein. I wanted to play with some Holbein colors anyway since they aren’t as granulating and offered more control when painting, but again, most of the colors I had picked out for them lost in the color comparisons to M. Graham and Daniel Smith. Now that I’ve played with this color, I also enjoy how it sets hard and re-wets well. Much like the Da Vinci, so I’d like to explore them some more in the future.

QOR: Dioxazine Purple. I was afraid to get to many QOR colors as I do enjoy having control over my paints as opposed to letting them fly around the page, but the more I practice with watercolors the less I fear that. I mean watercolor paint only goes where there is water so control where the water is and that settles that ha! This purple is such a fantastic color to mix with and a nice convince purple as purple is my favorite color. I’d be down to try more primaries from QOR for sure, specifically reds!

The colors in my Portable Paint Palette are Quin Rose and Coral, Buff Titanium, Dioxazine purple, Phtalo blue and green, Indian and lemon yellow, Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber. This palette is the one I’ll be using mostly for World Watercolor month.

Portable painting palette

These are my swatch cards for my portable palette. I just used some practice Bee Watercolor paper and then cut and laminated the swatches once dry so I could tuck them into the palette when on the go. They are front and back FYI.

I’f you are reading this live, I should have a few paintings up on the right where my Insta feed is. Im particularly proud of this one below though :3c.

Warm Junah looking up in profile

Prepping for Watercolor Month and Beyond

I have spent a good bit of this pandemic reading and getting lost in the YouTube art scene. Seeing so many talented people create beautiful and dreamy compositions really got me excited and gave me the inspiration I needed to get serious about getting on track with improving my skills with physical media again. Deciding to focus on one medium at a time for now, I’ve gotten serious about refreshing what I know, or thought I knew, about these mediums. I’m going with watercolors first as the challenge month is upon us and I’ve been itching to make my own color palette based on all the notes I’ve made thus far. I talked about the book I found most rejuvenating by James Gurney, Color and Light in an older post.

I’ve been meaning to improve my watercolor game for a few years now. I first explored the medium in high school and totally fell for how the colors looked like they were glowing when applied to paper. I tried to play more with the medium after high school, but could never achieve the same results I had in class, so I moved away form it. A few years ago I got back into wanting to use the medium again and looked into buying a decent premade set. I found the 24 pan White Nights set and used that for a bit, and even though it’s a beautiful set, I still didn’t feel as attached to it and wound up going to Gauche when my local art supply shop closed down and had a massive sale on everything in stock.

I have since left Gauche alone as the ones I had did not re-wet all too well and I rotate mediums, so ones that expire fast are off the table, but hey, play and learn.

The mediums that I come back to repeatedly and have this considered my stickers are Alcohol markers, Watercolors, Acrylic Ink, and of course digital painting (Procreate and Clip Studio Paint). I know that sounds like a lot, but trust me, this is the narrowed focus list. I LOVE customizing and that extends to every part of my life. From what I wear, to what I eat, and of course what I create. I can never just follow a recipe without throwing my own spin on it and the same goes for picking my supplies. The mediums that I actually stick with are ones that I invested the time to create my own custom sets of. It took me a second to really think about that (even though it’s totally obvious).

I spent months comparing colors for my Copic collection before ordering each marker individually. I spent weeks looking into ink properties and color combinations for my Acrylic Ink sets, I spent years looking into individual pens and pencils for drawing. When it came to watercolors, I just found a decent set and wondered why I wasn’t as excited to create with it. Even if it was a fantastic set. Open Stock is truly the way to go for me. The study, comparisons, and care that go into selecting each color makes it meaningful and gives me that much more reason to want create. That’s what was missing from my watercolor selections. Not the quality of paints, but the journey of customizing my own palette.

Painting is such a unique medium. You can make new colors from just having a small selection of colors available to you and that’s pretty neat, some knowledge on color theory will helps to avoid a ton of repeated color mixes, or over mixing in general when building a custom limited palette. Limited color choices in painting palettes are a fantastic way to see color theory in action too. My style is definitely more illustrative so I knew that I would need the ability to mix bold colors and a range of skin tones.

I studied swatches from Jane Blundell’s blog, if it’s worth a dang in the watercolor world, she’s swatched it. I then would check out Denise, of In Liquid Color to see the paints in action as she has extensive color spot light videos, reviews, and tutorials on color mixing. I also enjoyed checking out Sadie Saves the Day for more examples on beautiful illustrations and helpful reviews and information on the medium too!

For anyone that wants a quick cheat sheet to putting together a legit color palette, I’d recommend this really neat post On the Jackson’s Art blog. It’s a short and sweet entry about choosing colors for a limited pallets and its fantastic advice for crafting a limited pallet that will create a wide array of lovely mixes. Definitely worth a read if you are trying to figure out what colors to use and why when you’re starting in watercolor.

There are more resources that I used, but these are the ones I found myself going back to repeatedly when crafting my palette. Once I had my list of colors together, I was ready to shop! Of course the pandemic has art supplies in short supply, but I was fortunate enough to find what I needed through three store: Dickblick, Jerrys Artarama, and Jackson’s Art in the UK, sadly my local art supply shop packed up shop last year, so I’ve had to move supply hunting all online now since they only things left in town are Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, so yeah…nah.

The other supplies I purchased were a palette that I’d be able to add more to later for my studio, the MITJELLO 18 well palette and the Portable Paint Palette for on the go. It has 12 wells and I love its design! I had all the other tools already, but did up my brush game as I realized of all the brushes I have, the only ones I use are the Jackson’s brand Quill Brushes, I have this brush in a variety of sizes. The only brush I use that isn’t in this quill family is a 00 round for detail. They are such lovely and cheap brushes. They feel good, have a variety of sizes, go thin to thick, hold a good amount of water, and they are forgiving if I leave them in water by accident. I KKKNOOOWWW that’s a terrible habit, but I have short term memory problems that crop up at funny times and finding my brushes in good health after one of these bouts feels good.

While waiting on my supplies to arrive, I continued to practice with my older paint sets, is what I‘d love to say I did, but I didn’t. Instead, I got familiar with setting up mixing charts and read the New Encyclopedia of Watercolor Techniques: A step-by-Step Visual Directory of Watercolor Techniques by Diana Craig & Hazel Harrison and the Dreamscapes watercolor series by Stephanie Pui-mun Law. Fantastic books on using watercolors and achieving neat practical effects. I created a whole list of exercises to practice as I read too! Once I received all of my packages, I primed my palettes (made dot cards of the access paint to not be wasteful) and let my paints dry. Check them out!!

Next I’m going to paint out my watercolor mixing chart for my large palette and then make some smaller swatch sheets for the portable pallet to use for reference. I’ve studied for this and know the colors I have will make some cool colors, but being able to see the nuance of each color in person has me excited.

Practicing what you Suck at

I suck at backgrounds. Well, I find them difficult. They seem so time-consuming and in the background so who cares right?


Backgrounds set the scene for your world and give your characters a world to live in. without them, they are just floating in the void of space.

I know there are shortcuts to get out of drawing backgrounds, but a shortcut only works if there is a way to get to your destination already. That means you gotta make the background before you can come up with ways to avoid it. This applies to other weakness artist face too ie. perspective, hands, expressions, same-face, and etc. The only way to make any headway on this weakness is to face it.

I know it sucks, it’s draining and can be hella frustrating, but they will stick out like a sore pimple the more you develop what you are strong at as an artist.

Drawing from life is probably the easiest way to get a hold on these issues (even if it’s not the most fantastical of solutions. On the other hand, I have been having great success with the tips provided by the Etherington Brothers. Their approach to drawing is organic and their tutorials are to the point, but with ample examples (haha that rhymes).

Their How to Think When Drawing series has been a blessing to thine eyes. Unfortunately the book is hard to come by, but hopefully early 2019 they will be launching a Kickstarter to reprint the first book and launch their second one (alongside a few beautiful sketchbooks I’m sure). In the meantime, definitely check out their website and social media links! They post a ton of free tutorials that I have been using and they have given me life when approach backgrounds. It’s actually made creating them kind of fun.

A lone wizards cottage

That background isn’t gonna draw itself. Hop to it!

-Lady T.

Making the Most of College

It’s been almost 10 years now since I said I wanted to turn the drawings of my OCs into a full-blown comic. Since then I have countless doodles, notes, illustrations, and even a few character sheets to refer to. I’m a visual person so of course, it was hella easy for me to just start drawing and make pieces fit into the world, but that leads me to a dead end after a while.

I had all of these awesome pieces floating around, but they weren’t connected. I had all of these loose ideas for how everything could be related, but without written guidelines, it all just spiraled into piles of papers and one-off posts with long-winded comments on my DeviantArt paged. I started to make a ton of continuity conflicts that made my head spin. Naturally, I just stopped pressing the issue and took a break. I was in college at the time and I had to focus on my degree: Studio Art with a minor in Graphic Design.

The college I attended was great for many things. Friendships that I still value, memories I cherish, Art History (the only history I have ever enjoyed), and knowledge in general, but for what I wanted…kind of mixed. I figured art would be a subjective thing and open to interpretation, but once I started classes I began to think a private liberal arts Jesuit college was maybe a bit to high brow for what I actually wanted to do.

It didn’t take long for me to get a clue. After a few traditional art classes, I had a dawning realization while stretching a canvas in a room smelling of mineral spirits with tubes of paints that cost more than the clothes I wore and abstract paintings adorning the walls that this was not really me.

I love that I learned classical skills and wouldn’t trade them, but painting on canvas isn’t cheap, and I come from humble origins. The price tag on everything made it hard for me to dive in and create, so my pieces never had that “Thick painterly look” and that was a pretty big critique I would receive in my reviews. I also had it in my mind that the only thing I could paint on canvas had to be a masterpiece, but since “I thought” we were discouraged from drafting on the canvas in pencil I spent a ton of time lost since I didn’t want to F* up the canvas. When I did paint, everything was always skewed to one side, didn’t fit on the canvas, or painted over so many times before drying that it turned to mud.

I would have felt lost if I didn’t know about digital art. DeviantArt was still the rage back then and I had a page since high school ( )it’s still up, but I don’t use it as much as Instagram). I got reimmersed into the digital art world and after seeing all the amazing art being created I knew that’s the scene I wanted to be in on. I bought a rinky-dink “my first tablet” and just started to draw.

It was weird not looking down to draw and that tablet I used was way to slick. I was bent on making it feel natural though. I knew that digital art would be the way to go in my foreseeable future since, after the initial deposit of money, it would be cheaper in the long run and offer a ton of versatility depending on the program I used. Thinking of it like that made it feel like a worthwhile investment to my broke ass.

I started to bring my off-brand graphics tablet into class and the professor (the hippest old lady ever) loved it! She immediately ordered tablets for the computer lab and boy was it an upgrade. Wacoms were game changers. Drawing on it was more fluid and the pen control… it was just awesome. My artistic friends and I would just gush over them. I started spending more and more time pushing digital art into my design work over using stock images. More and more classmates started to use the tablets as well. By my sophomore year, the Graphic Design department went all out and made a unique Mac lab filled with Intuos Graphics Tablets. I thought I had seen the height of digital art equipment, but I was wrong. Drawing directly on the screen beats everything else!

College is a marvelous time to single-mindedly devote yourself to your passions. I had to work and do classwork of course, but when I wasn’t having a social life I would learn as much as I could about digital art, Mostly independently since there weren’t any digital art specialist to teach me what I wanted to know. I mean,  my class being the first to have a legit Design Lab with tablets. Even if my design professors weren’t as knowledgeable about digital art, they were incredibly encouraging of what I created.

I received a fine understanding of Graphic Design and Typography from the design classes I took and I soaked those lessons up. My typography professor was a sharp dude and was the real deal. He did not play. He could take your designs apart from the core and critique them. It could be hard to hear, but he was always constructive. I’m glad he took his lessons as seriously as he did (even if they could be stressful). I spent more time putting in extra hours to learn Adobe products for there design uses as well as art then I did in the Artist Studio painting. I should have just switched to a Design major, but I had my reasons. Two words: Senior Artshow. 

By sophomore year I knew that I wanted that Fine arts gallery showing over the Graphic Design one for my senior project. The tricky part would be convincing my fine arts professors that my digital works would qualify for a gallery showing. I figured I would approach that bridge when I hit it, but in the meantime, I would keep making art and learning all I could. Who knows, I might get hip to the traditional stuff.

It didn’t happen. Even when I tried to be open to it. I completed my lessons, but most of my pieces were pretty meh. From painting to sculpting, everything fell kind of flat.

To this day I am 3-d challenged and my mind doesn’t comprehend sculpture. Like my faces are always flat and I just cannot make dimensional forms from clay.

The only somewhat ok pieces came from when I got to work in mixed media. I love mixed media! I never got the nude figure drawing class I was promised, but heeyyyyy, thanks to the Internet and having other artist friends, I have made do.

Procreate on iPad is pretty fun and convenient to create with!

What you have may not be the best, but you can make the best of what you have.

~Lady T.