2017 Favorites: September

September doesn’t seem like it should even be here let alone be over. But it is and though I love autumn and Halloween and everything that comes with this time of year, it’s strange to already be here. September had a lot of great things in it, though, and here are some of my favorites.

I recently purchased an iPad and have fallen in love. My MacBook’s battery has been iffy lately and I haven’t been able to unplug it from the charger without it shutting down immediately, and with my job, the convenience of an iPad would work well. So far, I love it, and most of my favorites have to do with it:

Procreate App

While working on my illustration skills, I downloaded the Procreate app for iPhone a long time ago, liking it but not loving it. Now with the iPad, I purchased the Procreate app for iPad and love it. It’s an incredible app for illustrating on – it has incredible features, layers, tools. It’s wonderful and easy to use. I’ve been playing around with it all month and can’t wait to work with it more.

Scrivener App

As a writer, I use Scrivener on my computer exclusively for any project I’m working on. With the convenience of the iPad, I’ve been able to sync my projects (through Dropbox) simply and easily to use the Scrivener app for iPad. It’s amazing. Once a week, I’m the passenger of a one hour drive, there and back, and have been able to (among other things) write while on the go and it’s been great. I don’t particularly love typing long form on an iPad, so I’m working on the right orientation and angle that is most comfortable, but the app itself is wonderful.

Photo Editing

Polarr and ColorStory are two digital photo editing apps I’ve been working with on the iPad. They’re not perfect and I know there’s better ones, but I found these to be great while wanting to edit a few pictures. Polarr has some good filters and lighting editing, and ColorStory has a few filters I like and some effects that are cool.

Makeba – Jain

I first heard this song on a Levi’s commercial a few weeks ago an fell in love. It’s such a cool, fun song that is literally the perfect example of my favorite type of music. Jain is a French artist and I’ve since fallen in love, but this song continues to be my favorite. I’ve been listening on repeat almost ever since buying it.

Z by Therese Anne Fowler

This novel is a fictionalized version of the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, artist, writer, and wife of the famous writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. The story chronicles her life from meeting Scott and all their struggles and successes throughout their life. They lived through the Roaring Twenties, directly in the middle of the Gatsby-like parties and the rise of modern art. It’s a great read, completely hooking me in right away. I really couldn’t put it down—I had to force myself to go to bed. It’s fascinating, about a decade I love, and is paced so well that I was never once bored, and with the shorter chapter lengths, I just kept reading and reading and reading.

Audible

I’ve been hearing about Audible forever, and as someone who is subscribed to a lot of YouTube channels, I hear about it almost daily. But I never tried it because I didn’t think I liked audiobooks. But boy was I wrong. I love them. I listen to podcasts on my walk, but when I don’t have a new episode to listen to, I usually just listen to music. And then I started a free trial of Audible and got two free credits (TWO WHOLE AUDIOBOOKS FOR FREE) and now I’m hooked. I can get even MORE reading done this way. I was unsure of the $15 a month for a while, but hadn’t realized that you get a credit every month with that. So really, it’s just like buying one audiobook a month. I don’t know if I’ll continue, but I’ve been loving it so far. I’ve been listening to Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and preordered Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman.

And that’s my September! I’m very excited for October, as it’s my favorite month of the year, even if I’m upset that it’s already here.

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Illustration Progress #3

So, the last time I made an update about my illustrations was in May. I hate to say it, but I haven’t had much time to work on a whole lot. But I have done a few and I think I’ve improved, just from looking at the ones I posted back in May. I haven’t been sketching every day like I’d planned and the summer has been so busy, I haven’t been working with my Copic markers or doing anything too elaborate. I’ve wanted to do more animals and take a shot at some landscapes. I haven’t done a lot, but I’ve done a few that I’m proud of.

Here’s some illustrations and doodles I’ve done over the summer:

2017 Goals: Checking In – 6 Months

2017 is halfway over and I’m in a constant state of panic because of it. June was the most insanely busy month I’d ever had (the small business I co-own launched another product) and went by as quickly as if it were a week long. Around the end of April, I decided that I would break up some of my goals and focus on one more than the others during each month, and so far it’s been working…sort of okay, mostly not. Anyway, it’s time to go over how well I’m doing with my goals for the year.

Design & Illustration

In the month of May, I focused on practicing hand lettering! It went fairly well, though I didn’t do as much as I wanted—I’d wanted to do one piece a day, but only ended up doing about half. Still, I definitely see an improvement in just that short of time and want to do more to get even better. I’m still not great at it, but a few of them turned out great. Along with this, I’ve been wanting to redesign book covers of some favorite books for two reasons: 1) to do more design projects in between other work that I’ve been doing and 2) to get more works that could go in my portfolio, specifically because I’d like to start marketing myself as a freelance designer that does book design covers (as well as branding and marketing design). It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and think it’s a good time to focus on it more. I’ve done one book cover with some hand lettering on it (still in the works, will post along with whole hand lettering post). In other ways, I’ve done very little design work outside of my day job (and even within that, hardly any) because June was so chaotic. And guess which month I chose to be my month of illustration focus? That’s right! June. I did very very little sketching and illustrating. But it’s okay, because I plan on choosing another month to focus on illustrating later in the year. Disappointing, but okay. I just have to press on!

Writing

Guess what I’ve been doing very little of? That’s right! Writing. But it’s okay. I posted about it last month here. July is writing and reading focused, so I’m going to be taking some extra time to write. Do I try to do to much? Too many interests? Probably. Anyway, my other writing month is September and then again in November (NaNoWriMo baby!), so I know I’ll be doing a lot more later in the year. Hopefully, July will be good to me and I’ll be able to care out the time to write.

Reading

Don’t look at me. I’ve only finished five books. FIVE. The year is half over and I’ve only read FIVE BOOKS. How does this happen to me? I feel like I read all the time but I just…am not. Again, hopefully July will be super great with reading. Well, I know it will be, because BookTube-A-Thon is this month! It’s my favorite time of year, where I stress myself out trying to read every extra minute I have for an entire week straight. I don’t sleep enough, I stop functioning as a normal human adult. It’s great.

Film: Import

I’ve actually watched a lot of films this year! I’ve seen almost 15 already. However, none in theaters—yet. I planned TWICE to go see Alien: Covenant in theaters, but couldn’t make it both times for dumb reasons (like work and stuff, ugh) and now I have no money to see any films in the theater. I do want to see Atomic Blonde, Valerian, and Baby Driver but I don’t know if I’ll be able to. But there are even more films I want to see in the fall, so I’m not worried. Five films in the theater is manageable, I don’t know I’m struggling. Stay tuned.

Film: Export

Though I haven’t made any film-based projects this year so far (my camera has been hijacked by a relative who needs it for work, as her camera broke, so I’ve been unable to really do anything yet) but I plan on doing some later in the summer. But—as I said in my last goals update post, I finished writing a short film called Anya, and I spent some time in May editing it. So there’s that.

Exercise

THIS IS THE ONE I’VE MADE MOST PROGRESS ON! I’M VERY EXCITED ABOUT IT! I made a post recently about changing up my diet and how I’ve been walking/jogging nearly every day (except for most of June and the first week of July, but I’ve been getting back to it now) and have lost a total of 25 pounds! That’s the most I’ve ever lost! I’m extremely happy and pumped up to keep going. I’ve reached my first weight goal, so now I’ll be targeting a second goal and aiming for it to be hit by the end of the summer!

Instagram

I’ve still been posting every day (or at least having one post per day, sometimes catching up with two or three a day) and I’ve been really loving it. I’ve almost hit 200 days and love a lot of the photos I’ve posted. Some are just okay, needing something to post or just posting a fun memory, less of a Photograph but it’s been a lot of fun.

2017 has been a difficult, busy year. But it’s all exciting! And hopefully worth it! I do know that I’ve already decided to lessen my goals next year. I have so many interests and things I want to accomplish, but I have to remember and realize that I can’t do it all. I can’t fit everything in one year. Doing two “everyday” projects in one year is too much (sketching daily and an Instagram post daily) and pressuring myself to create a certain number of illustrations, books read, and movies watched is taking the fun out of it. So I know what I want to change for next year, but want to finish this year out before doing anything different. Hopefully I don’t start to feel burnt out by the time 2018 comes along…ha ha…

Illustration Progress #2

For the past few months since my last update about my journey in bettering my illustrating skills, I’ve been incredibly busy. Because March was busy and April was spent focusing solely on reading in my spare time, my sketching every day streak I had going dwindled to a few times a week. And, I’m behind on doing a full color illustration a week—by like ten. But! That’s okay! During the month of May, I’m going to be focusing on hand-lettering (another one of my goals for the year, I’ll also have a full post about this after the month is over) and in June, I’ll be focusing more time on illustrating specifically. Instead of trying to do all of it all the time, I’m going to work on one more heavily than the other in certain months, which is why I have very few works in this post. But still, I’m very  happy with the progress I’ve made these last few months despite not being able to put the time I want into it.

I definitely have a tendency to draw exclusively people, so in June, my hope is to illustrate more animals and objects. And, all of the self-portraits of myself seem to have much larger heads than they should—I don’t know if I’m just bad at proportions or my brain just knows I have a large head and is making fun of me. I think that I’m starting to develop a style, at least somewhat of one, which is great. The floating heads all together with names are characters from one of my book, a little series of sketches that have been so fun to do! Anyway, my skills are improving, I’m still learning a lot, and most importantly, I’m enjoying the process!

2017 Goals: Checking In – 3 Months

Three months have passed since the beginning of the new year, so a quarter of the year is over (how did that happen so quickly?) and I’ll be checking in on my goals I set for myself this year. Overall, I think I’m doing fairly well, though I could better with some. I have changed my goals a little (which I’ve posted about) and will go off of those.

Design & Illustration

I’ve been doing more illustration work lately, with a goal of sketching for a half hour daily (though it’s become almost every other day, when I can) and full illustrations once a week. I’m a bit behind on the full illustrations, I should have 14 done out of 52 but I’ve only done 9. However, I’m doing better and expanding my skills, which was the point, so I’m doing well here. I’ve also been working on more design projects, like a few prints, a calendar, and working on doing some screen printing, which is exciting. I haven’t done any freelance work or hand-lettering practice, but am working toward it still. Each month, I’ll be focusing on one goal more than the others, and plan to do this with hand-lettering. Overall, I think I’m heading in a good direction in this department.

Writing

Now, my writing goals changed significantly (as I wrote about here) and have changed my goals to writing one new draft, start revising it, finish the first draft of the book I did NaNoWriMo 2016 with, complete NaNoWriMo 2017, and continue working on the other books I’d been working on before, here and there. Still a lot, but I’ve already began the first draft of the new book. After realizing I need to schedule my goals a little, focusing more on one than the others in a month, I’ve planned for writing to be the focus in May—April is reading.

Reading

As I just said, my goal focus for the month of April is going to be reading. I’ve read one single book so far. Well, that’s not entirely true. I finished one book. Because I finished reading some of my 2016 reads in January (I read most of the Luminaries by Eleanor Catton in 2016, so counted it toward last year’s count, but it still took most of January to finish—it’s long, y’all) I haven’t had as much time as you’d think. So really, I started in February. And in the two months since, I’ve finished one book, but have started three—I’m still in the middle of all three, all long. It’s my own fault to starting out the year reading this way. But hopefully, I’ll be back on track by the end of April as it’s my goal to set aside a few of the other goals to spend more time reading (like sketching a few times a week instead of every day, pushing some time working on design projects, etc.).

Film: Import

I’m doing pretty well in watching films this year! I’ve watched ten films so far this year (though, sadly none in the theater yet) and have found a new favorite (Frances Ha). I’m halfway to 20 new films not in the theater, but still have seen none of the 5 I’ve set to see in a theater—though I have plans to see Alien: Covenant when it comes out, so I’m not too worried. And there are several other movies coming out later in the year that I’m more excited to see anyway.

Film: Export

I haven’t done any film projects as of yet, but again with the monthly focuses, I plan to do them during summer. However, I did accomplish something big! I wrote a short film. I didn’t think that I’d get it done so soon in the year, but I have, and I love it. It still needs a lot of work, especially because it’s my first finished screenplay, but I’m incredibly happy that I actually did it.

Exercise

I haven’t done a lot of exercising lately, but with my Fitbit, it’s been easier to keep track of eating and getting more steps, which has brought my activity up a little. But now that the snow has melted and it’s getting warmer, I’ve been walking in the morning more and more, and have been more focused the last two weeks to keeping it up.

Instagram

I have posted every day since the beginning of the year, almost 100 days in and still enjoying doing it. Though, I will say, sometimes I post for the sake of needing to post for the day, and not really stretching my photography skills with some of them—which was sort of the point. But I’m still doing it and hopefully will be able to focus more on taking quality photos and not just posting anything.

I think I’m doing well! There’s more that I need to do and focus on, but I think with focusing on something every month, I’ll be able to accomplish more. But so far, 2017 is going fine.

Art + Design: Favorites

Since the last time I posted about my recent art and design favorites, I’ve stumbled upon more – as I often do thanks to Pinterest and Tumblr. There’s a mix of new album art of songs that I’ve bought, some art and design finds from scrolling through Pinterest, and some newly discovered books with incredible covers. Here they are:

Album + Single Art

Illustration + Miscellaneous Design

Book Cover Design

Note: the cover of A Conjuring of Light, the final book in one of my favorite trilogies by my favorite author VE Schwab, is A+ and matches perfectly with the others, which I love— they’re my favorite covers of all time.

2017 Favorites: February

This past month of February, I’ve enjoyed several new things that I want to share. I have a perfect variety of favorites this month: a YouTube channel, a book, a song, and a film. Here are my February favorites:

Aubrey Aiese’s YouTube Channel

I’ve been subscribed for a while to Aubrey’s channel, HurricaneAubrey, and have enjoyed her videos a lot. She took a long hiatus on her channel, but eight months ago she’s uploaded several videos and vlogs that I found so wonderful to watch (I marathoned her latest on a playlist I made of videos I’d missed over the last few month because of being busy). She’s an artist (she does all the lettering for Lumberjanes!) and lives with her boyfriend, also an incredible artist, in Portland. Like in the video here, she vlogs about her life and the places she goes and the work she’s doing. It’s fun and light and even inspirational to see the life of another artist, how they work and live. I love watching these types of videos from other artists and designers and illustrators, it’s fun to see how other people in your general field of work live and work.

The Bad Beginning

A long time ago, in like the fifth grade, I read the first book in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. I never finished the series for some reason, even though I enjoyed the book, but I loved the film with Jim Carrey. Now that there’s a Netflix series of the books, I decided to reread the first book and read the rest of the series in time with watching the show. I haven’t started the show yet, as I just finished the first book, but now that I have, I’ll be watching the first two episodes (as the show goes two episodes per book) and will read the rest of the books probably along with watching the show. So this year, I plan on reading the first four books to watch the first season. The book itself, after not having read it in almost fifteen years, is incredible. I mean, it’s terrible, but a really great read. I can’t wait to continue with the rest of the series and finally learn what happens.

Sick of Losing Soulmates – dodie

I recently discovered this song by dodie, a singer song-writer and YouTuber. Sick of Losing Soulmates is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. The lyrics are lovely and emotional, dodie’s voice is soft and wonderful, and the video is A+ incredible.

A Single Man

One of the best films I’ve watched, A Single Man is a beautiful adaptation by Tom Ford (I read the book last summer) and has one of the best performances by Colin Firth I’ve ever seen. The cinematography and the sets are gorgeous, the entire aesthetic of the film is beautiful, highly stylized and vibrant. It makes the day-long story of a man (after having lost the love of his life, Jim, in a car accident) going about his day with the plan of killing himself at the end of it less bleak, though not any less sincere. It’s an incredible, tragic, beautiful film.

Illustration Progress

Since late last year, I’ve been working on my illustration skills by trying to sketch everyday for about a half hour, as well as working on different projects more often, when I can. So far during the first month and a half of the year, I haven’t really been able to sketch every single day—but I’ve been sketching as often as possible—probably a few days of the week. Because I hadn’t done any art for a while during design school, it took a while to relearn how to do the basics. I can definitely see the difference and improvements since starting again, even if they are slight.

Right now, I’m just drawing, sketching, whatever I feel like to sort of feel a groove, find a style. I’m looking at a lot of other illustrators and work for inspiration, feeling things out. Here’s a few examples of sketches and illustrations I’ve been done over the last few months—some are just quick doodles, some took a little more time. Some more cartoonish, some more life-like and shaded (and obviously, some are better than others, especially from the start of all this to now). And apparently, I tend to draw girls almost exclusively.

I’m really excited to be doing art again, learning and growing. My goal has always been to get better at illustration in order to be able to incorporate it into my design work and be able to do more. And just being better at illustration in general, having another outlet and getting back to what I fell in love with as a kid.

2017: New Year, New Goals

2017

It’s a new year and the following are my new goals—some the same as last year, some tweaked to better suit my life. 2016 was definitely a year of realizing things (you were right, Kylie Jenner) and I realized I needed to stop aiming so high.

So here are my goals for 2017:

Design & Illustration

In the new year, I want to work on more design projects for future plans of mine, continue working on my illustration skills, and practice my hand-lettering skills more. Since I just finished with school, I’ll be hopefully doing some freelance work here soon (after I’m able to quit my current job and make all the necessary preparations to start) and I’ll continue to do all the design work for the small business I co-run.

Writing

My goal for this year is to continue revising the two projects I’ve been working on. Both books (and related series) still get me excited after years of writing and rewriting and outlining and planning whenever I could fit it in while being a student and working. (And now that school is finished, I may have more time? Fingers crossed.) Whichever book is the strongest when finished, I’m planning on using it to start the process of querying for a literary agent (which may be this year or next year—the hope would be this year). Another writing goal is to finish the book I won NaNoWriMo with in 2016—I still love that story and want to get back into it, just to finish the first draft. And the final writing goal of mine is to again participate in NaNoWriMo. Though the election sort of made it more difficult to concentrate, making it harder and less fun, I had a blast doing it in 2016 and I want to do it again!

Reading

After the disaster of a reading year 2016 was, I’m setting my goal much lower: 35 books. That’s it. I always set it for 50 on Goodreads, always mark it down several in July and again in December after I realize 50 is too much. Not this year. I’m starting low and being less rigid with my list and schedule, because it only made reading more stressful than fun. I think I’ll be able to reach my goal this year of 35, which will be more than 2016’s 24 books and 3 books more than any other year of reading for me. And who knows? Maybe because of being more relaxed about reading, I’ll hit 50? Probably not, but you never know. (I know, actually. I probably won’t.)

Film | Part One: Import

Last year, I had a goal to see at least 12 films in the theater (as I realized I hadn’t seen a single one in 2015) and only saw two films in the theater; better than nothing, but disappointing. My goal for this year is similar, but on a smaller scale: I want to see 5 films in the theater, as well as watching 20 films via other sources (DVD, Netflix, TV, etc.) bringing the total of 25 new films in the year of 2017. A goal, I think, I can do—at least I will with the 20 outside of the theater, as I see most new (to me) films that way (and I’ve already watched 3).

Film | Part Two: Export

I want to do more film projects, but on a small scale. I first want to write a short film (should this have been up in the “writing” goals? oh, well)—I have ideas and ideas scribbled in notebooks and on files on my computer and on notes in my phone, but I’ve never sat down and finished a screenplay (though I’ve started a few). Second, I want to do more experimenting with the camera, making smaller videos like I used to do. It’s a muscle I haven’t stretched in a while.

Exercise

Hahahahahaha—No, wait. I’m serious this time. I started 2016 off really well with walking/running almost every day for a while and I lost ten pounds. I’ve since gained it back and slowed down on walking to a full stop, only to slowly start up again at the end of the year. But when I was doing it, I loved it. Now that I have a Fitbit Alta, I’m really getting back into it. My goal is to just try to exercise more. I don’t want to have a rigid schedule, I don’t want to set too high of expectations—especially in the winter when it’s more difficult to get up to drive to use the treadmill. I do have a recumbent bike at home that I can use and the treadmill once in a while, and I have an app on my phone for a 7 minute workout (which should be called 7 Minutes in Hell because omg working out like that instead of just walking is so awful how do people enjoy it???) So I’m going to start slow and really get going for when spring arrives and I can walk/run outside again—I really, really enjoyed it when doing it outside in the fresh air. It truly makes a big difference.

Instagram

I’ve been wanting to post more on Instagram and decided to post one a day for the entire year. Some will be from planned photo sessions, spread out over a few days, some will be just random and whatever I’m doing that day. I’ve already done it for 14 days in a row and I’m really enjoying it.

Those are my goals for 2017!

Monthly Selections – November 2016

November! I have a lot of favorites from November (even more than I’m listing here) and I’m completely surprised. I haven’t had much time lately for anything but work and NaNoWriMo, so to have found anything this month other than those things is incredible. Here we go!

True Lemon

I struggle with staying hydrated, mostly because water is my last choice of something to drink because it’s boring and flavorless (duh). I force myself to drink it as often as possible by itself but I usually add fresh lemon juice, which can be a hassle and costs a lot when produce prices go up, or I add some unhealthy, sugary drink mix. So my aunt introduced me to True Lemon packets, which are the GREATEST THING EVER. It’s crystallized lemon in a packet that you add to water and it TASTES EXACTLY LIKE YOU SQUEEZED LEMON INTO IT. I’m obsessed. I’ve been using it everyday and it’s been helping me stay hydrated.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is a beautiful story about a flu that wipes out most of the world’s population and the characters’ lives, intricately entwined, center around the life of a famous actor who died of a heart attack the same day the pandemic began. It’s a fantastic book that I know I’ll probably want to reread again one day (which is rare for me, as I’m not one for rereads) and recommend it highly.

Good Behavior

A new show on TNT called Good Behavior, starring Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery, is full of bad behavior done by the character she plays, Letty, an addict and thief who is trying to be good to win back custody of her son. This is complicated when she encounters and steals from a man named Javier who kills people for money. It’s a great show, solid performance from Michelle Dockery, and has a humor to it that makes you root for the characters, even if what they’re doing is very wrong. And the show has a killer soundtrack. Every episode, I’m Shazaming like no one’s business.

goodbehavior03-590x224

Copic Markers

As I’ve posted before, I’m wanting to practice my illustrating skills and have purchased—thanks to a lovely birthday gift of cash from my sister, always the best present—some brush markers I’ve been looking at. I’ve heard some good things about Copic markers and so far I really like them. I’m still practicing with coloring and have nothing worth showing for now, but hopefully I can continue to make progress in this medium. I’d like to work with watercolors, too, in time.

But the Copic markers—I have the Ciao duo-tip markers in various color that I liked and plan on getting more—are really great. The brush tip is beautiful and the colors look beautiful on the paper, though I’m still trying to find the best paper to work with them. The sketchbook I have seems to absorb too much ink, though I like the look, and another paper I have absorbs less but seems more faded. Anyway, the markers are fantastic and I can’t wait to have some more time to work with them once school is finished.

Death of a Bachelor

I’ve never been a huge fan of Panic! At the Disco—I mean, I liked the songs I heard on the radio, but never sought out more than that. Until I heard Death of a Bachelor, which is one of my new favorites. Brendon Urie’s voice is incredible and the song sounds, as he stated as an influence, like a Frank Sinatra song covered by the band.