Taking A Casual Saturday Stroll On A Wednesday {APADO #17}

(It has come to my attention that some of the individuals who have not subscribed to this weblog are unfamiliar with the series depicted by the above acronym. Each letter in the acronym is the initial letter of a word in the phrase “A Post A Day – October”, combined in sequence to create the nonsensical word “APADO”.)
(that was unnecessarily verbose)

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I like to take walks – on Saturdays. When it’s sunny and people are home to walk with.

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But today was a Wednesday, I was on my own, and it’s been forty degrees and drizzling all week. Which is great when you’re watching from behind glass and worth complaining over when you’re out in it with no gloves.

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^ raw enthusiasm.

I had big plans. I was going to attempt some aesthetic photography and selfies, just to see if I could. And possibly for the vain reason that I wanted a good picture of myself.

And as far as I could see, it wasn’t going to be too difficult.

Hehe.

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Three days of drizzle means beautiful water beads on the grass.

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Which is great until you walk through that grass and soak your shoes that are not meant for this kind of weather. And then the West Texas Wind™ kicked in and thoroughly refrigerated my feet.

I was not ready to give up yet.

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With things all nice and overcast, it was time to try for those shots.

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Nope. I just look like I’m wondering if it’ll rain. Which it is raining.

Maybe I can get some walking shots.

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Eh. Um. I think the gravel is filling the frame and ruining my composition.

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Is it just me or do I look like an android trying to imitate a human?

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After this little gem of a photo, I decided to pull the plug on my whole aesthetic photography thing. What’s the point?

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So I just played around on the cold, stiff playground equipment and froze my fingers off.

Which was definitely a lot more fun than trying to be someone I know I’m not.

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I found this tiny pine tree and played around with the self timer on my camera and ended up looking like Godzilla, roaring over a towering pine tree…

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The minute I let go of this ideal that photos of me should look a certain way, the minute I stopped noticing the cold and the fact that I was alone.

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^ actually enjoying myself

My feet were still frigid. Oh well.

On the way home, I took some cool pictures of the largest river in my hometown.

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I was so worried that I’d plunk my camera in it, though.

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Fortunately, it survived.

I stood in the middle of the street and took pictures of this puddle because why not.

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I almost felt…like a photographer. Like I was having fun taking photos. Maybe I finally understand why y’all like cameras so much.

Before my fingers were completely done for, I ran over my camera.

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And somehow it looks cool?

I found this key on the sidewalk just before I went back inside to sit on my hands and laugh my head off at my failed aesthetic photography.

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I like to think it’s symbolic.

Because I may have unlocked a big secret that many people are too embarrassed to share.

The harder I try to make myself look good, the worse I feel about myself.

But the minute I throw all the aesthetic-Pintrest goals out the window and just have some fun, I end up with photos I like?

It’s a weird paradox, isn’t it?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

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Today I Found Out… {APADO #16}

(*insert spiel about APADO here*)

(and we’re back to inspirational stuff. honestly i now know why people don’t try to post every day.)

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First thing this morning, I found out that humans need sleep. Or perhaps they don’t, and are just weak enough to crave it.

While studying genetics today, I found out that I’m probably heterozygous for blue eyes. Meaning if I have kids, there’s a good chance one of them will be blue-eyed, thanks to our recessive gene buddies.

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closeup of my eye (feat. heterochromia)

That’s comforting. I’ve always wanted blue eyes, even though I like my hazel/central heterochromia iridium.

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In my government course, of all places, I found out that the CIA and the US Postal Service are on the same legal level – independent agencies working for the Executive Branch.

(Also I discovered that taking a photo of sunglasses that doesn’t have a weird reflection is impossible.)

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At the barn today, I found out that you really should break a flake of hay in half to feed it to two horses. They will chase eachother around over it. Aren’t we all possessive over food?

Maybe I already knew it. But I also discovered something else today.

Staying curious is staying positive and connected to this world. Asking questions, choosing to be interested in what you’re learning, and making mistakes go a long way to making life exciting.

Even if it’s just over genetics.

Today, I found out that not everybody is curious.

But maybe tomorrow, I’ll find people realizing that they’re a lot more curious than they think.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

Making A Drawing (Step By Step) {APADO #11}

(i think i’m still damaged from yesterday)

(what’s this? it’s apado, my weird little blog series brainchild. so far it’s succeeded in making me post once a day for the entire month of october. which has been…less than two weeks. i’ve still got a long way to go.)

(disclaimer: i’m not a professional artist. or tutor. or anything. well, i’m a professional weirdo…but just be warned.)

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Making a drawing takes a lot of work.

As in, the drawing featured in this post took me at least an hour. For just this little drawing that literally takes up less space than an ice cream cake.

Honestly, I don’t know how I have the patience to sit down and draw, seeing as I usually have the attention span of a sugar-spiked monkey with ADHD. But there’s something unnerving about leaving a drawing unfinished. And there’s something fulfilling about actually finishing it.

It’s a long haul from the idea stage, but good things come to those who keep working and pouring blood, sweat, and tears down their pencils. Because who wants to just sit around waiting for good things to happen?

Let’s go through a sort-of step by step guide of the process.

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I’m not going to be a Sponsored Blogger With Sponsored Supplies™ and say that you have to have a certain brand of anything to draw. That’s ridiculous. Good art supplies are nice, but they’re not everything. Use what you have and let your determination carry you the rest of the way.

(However, most of my pencils are Prismacolor and I can’t recommend them enough.)

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Did someone say...lamp?

Moth memes aside, good lighting is definitely important. Even if it smells weird. Like mine. But to me, it was worth inhaling melty light bulb to be able to see what I was doing.

(This lamp is seriously whack though.)

Quick tip about lamps: if you’re right-handed, put the lamp on your left side so you don’t cast shadows onto your work. And if you’re left-handed, you’re probably used to reversing directions, so do the exact opposite of what I just said. As usual.

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Having sharp pencils makes your work look better. Somehow, I missed this vital piece of information until recently. Go figure. Actually, go sharpen!

But before my pencil touches the paper, I have to narrow my ideas down to one cohesive thought. Which is honestly the hardest part of the process. I have to constantly remind myself that it’s better to do one thing well than fifty things badly.

And write down everything else I wanted to draw. And inevidably forget about all of them. It’s to soothe the anxiety.

For this drawing, I wanted to draw a character of mine that I’d roleplayed with that day and got caught daydreaming about. So with her in my mind’s eye (and everything else shoved out), I moved right into the next phase – sketches. Some artists call them “studies”.

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I use my big sketchpad for this. He’s big enough to encourage me to try new things.

Don’t be afraid to find new angles. Who wants to get stuck drawing the same pose over and over again? Expand your horizons! Excite yourself!

(The more this post goes on, the more I sound like Bob Ross.)

When I’m doing studies, I draw small. Since small drawings always look amazing, it keeps me going in the stage when I’m most likely to quit.

I knew her basic character design and that I wanted her looking up, so I played around with that until I got an idea of what I wanted.

Richard Williams says that sketches are “seductive”. Meaning, they trick you into thinking they have more vivacity than they actually do. Something about line pressure and width, I think. Once stripped down, they don’t look nearly as lively as they did.

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I know what he means. I almost like this little sketch better than what I came out with. Ah well.

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It’s time to start sketching on my good paper! I like to use this sneaky little guy – a non-photo blue pencil. His lines won’t be picked up by scanners, so if I leave a trace of a weird-looking sketch, it won’t be there to haunt me later.

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Artists have to have imagination. Because how else is this supposed to look like a nice-looking lady? Right now it’s a weird lookin’ head. With a little oval mouth.

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Slowly, the details are filling in. I decided to try something new and draw a side braid from the front. Honestly, it was a lot easier than I thought. It’s…kind of like armor plating, if that doesn’t sound too weird.

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After I was finished sketching out my details, I went over everything with a sharp 4B drawing pencil, just to make sure I liked the way it looked. The braid looked much better than I’d expected, and everything else was looking good, so…time for the nerve-wracking part.

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I like my art to have thick lines. Maybe because I’m not so adept at shading yet. But this step always scares me because one slip of the pen and I’ve wasted all my time.

Especially with a brush tip pen like this guy. I love the lines he makes, but he gives me anxiety.

Careful…

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Phew. Not looking too bad. The shoulders are a bit thick, but they’ll look all right once I go back over the rest.

Which will mean more anxiety.

Thanks, Brush Pen.

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Time for the fun, relaxing part – coloring! I love coloring. It doesn’t like me, but I love it.

Coloring is a really informal process of layering on a million colors all at once and working with several pencils at the same time. I can’t really say everything I did with the color, but I…made a gif so you can see the layers stack up?

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Some notes on the color:

  • Colors go from lightest to darkest. So, if you wanted to make green, you would put down yellow before blue. (I’m not really sure why. It’s just…what I’ve been taught.)
  • In past, I’ve used my black pencil to add the few shadows I know how to add. The more I do that, the more I realize it’s wrong. Using darker tones of the same colors often leads to better shadows – especially in skin.
  • I like to tint hair with my mauvey-red pencil. He gives it a really nice glow, no matter what color goes over it.
  • The gold colored pencil is very easy to overuse. Just a light coat of him is enough for most things (I mean, unless you want to deck something out.)

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I like to go back over the lines with my pen after I’m finished with the colored pencil, just to make them stand out a little better.

And to give myself a little more anxiety.

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Add my signature, a little color in the background, and we’re done! For now. Until I get tired of looking at the one thing I missed and go back and obsess over it.

Right now, that thing is the tendril of hair on the left side of her neck.

It looks like a curly fry.

tl;dr: This was an art post with some advice but probably not nearly enough.

But honestly, all the advice in the world couldn’t get you there on it’s own. Practice and time are big keys in getting good at anything.

I think I’m going to try to fix the curly fry.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

Journalling {APADO #8}

(you’re reading APADO – a post a day, october – a self-inflicted blogging challenge that i’m kind of regretting but kind of not.)

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I think it’s safe to say that I’m a veteran journaller. I’ve been writing every single night since I was about ten. Even though I’ve thrown away my first eight journals (it was a horrible idea and I regret it so much), I keep count like I still have them, which puts me on working on #14.

I’ve often stopped and wondered what it is that keeps me journalling. I don’t write anything groundbreaking, it keeps me up for fifteen extra minutes, and I’m the only one who’s reading them. Isn’t that a waste of time and effort?

But if it’s such a waste, why am I still doing it?

After my most recent self-debate about this, I came up with some reasons – and some thoughts about journalling in general.

Why journal?

  • It’s therapuedic. There’s something relaxing about getting your thoughts out on paper – maybe it’s just that we humans love to write about ourselves. Whatever the reason is, I’ve found that it’s fun and soothing.
  • It helps create a healthy bedtime routine. I’m lucky to not have any sleep problems, even when I’m travelling. I think it has something to do with my journal. When I open it up, it triggers my brain to calm down. And calmness, especially with how busy my life is right now, is something I could use a whole lot more of.
  • They’re fun to go back and read later. Not only do they remind you of exactly what you were thinking back then, but it’s also hilarious to see what you used to think was cool – or abhorrent. Trust me, I know.

Journal myths:

  • You have to write a bestseller every night. Absolutely not. A journal is an intimate, private thing. Since no one will be reading it but yourself anyways, it’s more important to write frequently and truthfully.
  • It has to look pretty. Pintrest and inspirational blogs make it easy to think that looks are a must. Yes, it’s nice to have an aesthetic journal, but it doesn’t have to look good to be important. In fact, I’ve found that trying to make my journal look nice tires me out instead of relaxing me.
  • You can’t write about stupid stuff. Um, yes you can. This is your personal book. There are no rules about what you can or can’t write about.

Tips for better entries:

  • Write about what happened, not what’s going to happen. Writing about future plans can make you sound like a Burma-shave sign. Ten more days until x! Nine more days until x! It’s best to stick to the present and write about things when they actually happen. (Y’all have no idea how much I struggle with this.)
  • If you’re stuck, write song lyrics. They’re a good reflection of your mood that day, and they don’t take much effort. Another bonus: later, you can see what music you liked back then.
  • Don’t be afraid to be a little crazy. Crazy is fun. In the mood to write a stupid poem? Do it. Feeling like writing the entire entry in Ubbi Dubbi? No one’s stopping you. The crazy stuff is the stuff you’re going to remember the most.
  • Try to get in the habit of writing an entire page a day. You’ll be surprised how much this improves your entries.

And NEVER:

  • Throw away journals. Ever. Trust me, you’ll regret it.

tl;dr: Journalling is fun and relaxing – especially if you let yourself be free with it.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

(i’m probably going to go write in my journal that today’s apado post was about journalling. and that will be really meta. and i will also write about how meta it is. now do you see why i’m slowly going insane?)

Improvement: It Happens To The Best Of Us {APADO #1}

(Welcome to APADO, where I attempt to post once a day for all of October: A Post A Day – October, that is the last time I’m spelling that out. I’m making more rash promises than Josef Stalin but let’s see how far I can get.)

(also this post might be inspirational? how did that happen)

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I want you to go on a quick trip down memory lane. Remember the first time you tried to be creative? And how good it felt when you signed your first drawing, finished your first story, threw your first paint-dipped potato at the wall?

It felt good, didn’t it? You were proud of what you made, weren’t you? Even if it was pretty bad-looking, there was something about it that you liked. Maybe it was the excitment. The raw creativity. Or something similarly poetic that I don’t have the aptitude to make up.

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2016

Now, let’s flash forward a few weeks. Months. Years. If you’re anything like me, you’re discouraged, burnt out, and wishing you could do it better.

It’s normal to feel that way.

I struggle with self-confidence and patience. There are times when I want to just throw in the towel and be done with everything I do, just because it isn’t exactly the way I want it to be. I have to remind myself that I’m still learning. I’m always learning. And that I’m never going to go anywhere sitting around moping about it.

Big Secret No. 1: You have to want to improve.

In this day and age, we’re told quite often that we’re perfect just the way we are.

I’m not saying that we’re not, but that kind of thinking tends to trap us into never doing anything with our lives.

You are perfect. But what you do needs work.

If you want to be mediocre, you can give out half-polished work. You can “do what you can” and never want anything more. And spend the rest of your days as an amateur.

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2018

Or you can give it your 110% best. You can go the extra mile. You can keep going, even when it gets tough and when you don’t feel like it. That’s the big secret to getting better. And it comes from the place you’d least expect it – yourself.

Big Secret No. 2: Improving your skills takes time.

We live in an instant world – instant coffee, instant ramen. Instagram. It’s only natural to think that our skills will come quickly and easily (and that just one podcast or blog post will enable us to churn out a finished, polished novel.)

Honestly, if it were that easy, it wouldn’t be worth anything.

The cold hard fact is that becoming better at what you do takes a long time. You’re not going to be an expert overnight. And this is what makes pushing yourself difficult – it’s much easier to sprint down the block than to run a mile.

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2017? where are his appendages

Patience is a virtue. And an asset. And a challenge worth conquering.

Big Secret No. 3: Creative pursuits are subjective.

Why do we want to improve? So we can be better. Duh.

But what does better mean? Is it an end-all point where we can be done with what we’re doing?

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2018

Ha!

There shouldn’t ever be a point that you stop learning to do what you love. You might as well get used to the feeling of not knowing everything, because it’s going to follow you for as long as you’re creating great content.

If you’re doing it right, you should always be improving.

The point I’m trying to make with all this:

Improvement is tough. It feels like the more you know, the less you think of yourself.

But you have a fire burning inside you. Use it. You’ve got what it takes.

And you’ll never, ever, ever get anywhere by throwing in the towel, saying you’re not good enough, and leaving your dreams to turn to dust. Quitting is for losers.

Be patient. Keep working. You’re going to make it. You’re going to do this.

tl;dr: Don’t be a pushover. Keep your chin up and go make something great.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}