Creative Christmas: I Am Groot

Halfway through the Beetlejuice pictures another image popped into my head.  I watched a ton of Guardians of the Galaxy during the holidays and the idea of drawing a baby Groot was just too tempting to pass up.  It would give me a chance to practice color and see how much I could play with the new medium.

This one actually went so fast I didn’t have a chance to take pictures of the process.  Like many of these I wasn’t used to the methodology so about four times during the drawing I thought I’d ruined it.  I did manage to get a picture of the finished version:

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I didn’t have a brown pastel at the time so I ended up mixing my own.  It worked relatively well even if it came out a bit green.

I added the glowing parts after I finished and found the composition to be a little left-heavy.  Plus it gave me a chance to try something I couldn’t do in pencil.

I was pretty happy with it for a spur-of-the-moment picture.  And it got drawing Groot out of my system!

Freelance Writing: Fact or Fiction?

Revenant Publications

For many, freelance writing seems like a dream career. A lot of people consider it or jump into it thinking it’s a life full of flexibility and freedom. Many romanticize the idea of freelance writing and also have misconceptions about it.

I have freelanced for more than 10 years and know 100+ freelance writers, so I wanted to clear up some common misconceptions. Here are some freelance writing truths to help you decide if it’s right for you:

You have all the free time you want.

Fiction. To be a successful freelance writer, you actually have little to no free time. Your salary depends on how much you do, so it’s easy to work 60 hours a week. Because you are not a traditional salary employee, there’s a constant pressure to produce as much work as possible. Our free time depends on our workload. Some weeks we have it, other weeks we don’t.

You make a lot of money.

Depends. At first, you won’t make much because you have to build a client base. Once you have a client base, you have to adjust how much work you take and who you work for. Some companies pay $1K for a feature; some pay $200. If you’re new to the industry, you’ll probably land the $200 clients. So, if you want to make $30K a year, you have to take 150 features at $200. That’s roughly 13 features a month.

You set your own schedule.

Fact. Freelance writers can usually set their own schedule, but keep this in mind: we work a lot. Sure, we can take two hours to go to lunch or run errands, but we pay for it later. Many of us don’t work 8-5. Some of us have full-time jobs during those hours. Our days range from 8 hours to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, depending on workload and deadlines.

You meet new people.

Fact. Whether it’s through email, phone or in person, you make a lot of good connections. I’ve worked with people all over the country and most have been wonderful. I’ve been invited to events, lunch, offered free accommodations, and more. You also learn about new industries, people, and cultures. Fun tip: If you’re writing for a Southern client, it helps to have a Southern accent so you understand each other.

It’s easy.

Fiction. Some people think because we work from home and “set our schedule” we have it easy. I challenge those people to take an assignment. When you work from home, you never get a break. You have to balance work and home life 24/7. Also, try writing fours hours a day, every day, for one week (28 hours worth). Speaking from experience, there’s only so much writing a person can do before they get stuck. That amount depends on the writer.

You write about different topics.

Fact. Once you have a client base, you will probably write about different topics. In one week, you could write about news, arts and culture, health care, and politics. The variation keeps things interesting, and it helps you master the art of changing gears. You also learn to tailor your writing skills based on client guidelines and needs.

You have to pay your own taxes.

Fact. Most employers who hire freelancers do not take out taxes. That means you receive all of your income, so you have to take it out yourself. You must be financially responsible and save all year. A good base to save is 25-30 percent of your income. For example, if you make $30K a year, you need to pull out $7K to $9K. Depending on your situation, you can deduct some expenses, but it’s best to pull out a higher amount and budget wisely.

Is it worth it?

Depends. I love taking freelance projects. Most of my freelance friends love their jobs. We’re not confined to a cubical all day. We don’t have a traditional office environment with the politics and bs. Freelancers can work from anywhere. We don’t deal with traffic much and control our workload. To be a successful freelance writer takes discipline and hard work. It’s a career like all others. If you love what you do, then it’s worth it.

Creative Christmas: Beetlejuice Lydia

In my last post I described my process in creating a chalk pastel Beetlejuice.  I wanted to do a nice version of Lydia to go along with it, but unlike Beetlejuice I didn’t have a clear image to go on.  Also she’s identifiable but not quite as iconic, so she had to come more from my own head than the Ghost with the Most.

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I originally wanted to go with revulsion but I didn’t like the way it paired with the Beetlejuice.  So I changed it before the final.

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I actually found a picture of “costume ideas” for Lydia cosplayers that I used as a base.

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I was particularly proud of my spider necklace design.

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She ended up looking more like the cartoon version of Lydia than Winona Ryder, but as the artwork was a little cartoony I ended up being ok with it.

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She mostly wears black except for her red wedding dress. Drawing black clothes on black paper is trickier than it seems…

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For a first big piece in chalk and color I was pretty happy with them!

Creative Christmas: Beetlejuice

After the Halloween artwork I did I was itching to do some other dark, horror-related art as an X-Mas present to my RevPub Partner since the previous one turned out so well.  I originally thought Ghostbusters but after some thinking I decided to do a piece of Beetlejuice and Lydia.

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I was still starting with pencil but I was encouraged by the basic premise.

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After some thinking I decided I wanted to show his icky teeth so I gave him an open mouth smile.

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This was the first time I added real color to the image.  I liked how it turned out and this was a great first color project as if it looked a bit ragged it was ok on the Ghost with the most.20151113_164031

I was really happy with the finished product.  Now I had to figure out what I was going to do with the other pic I decided to do to match it, Lydia!

Adult Coloring: A Worthwhile Trend

When adult coloring books showed up in stores, I snubbed them. I liked the idea but immediately thought this was someone’s way to help adults relive their childhood. It was just another commercial tactic to make adults feel younger. I felt if adults wanted to color, they could just buy a kid’s coloring book.

This past Christmas I was shopping and found an adult coloring book with “happy” designs for $12. The holiday season is not my favorite time of the year, so I decided to buy it. If I was going to hop on the coloring trend train, happy was the way to go.

I’m glad I did. After Christmas, I colored my first page. I was hooked. It was a heart made of butterflies. Those who know me will laugh because I’m not a heart-with-butterflies-kind-of-girl, but I really enjoyed it. Coloring the picture pulled me out of my head, where my to-do list runs on overdrive. The activity relaxed me and made me feel better overall.

Adult Coloring Butterflies

I did a little research and learned that art has been used in adult therapy for years. A couple of studies say therapists use art to do the following:

  • Build self-esteem
  • Relieve stress; reduce anxiety
  • Improve motor skills; work both sides of the brain
  • Help the mind focus/problem solve
  • Deal with/work through emotions

Whether adult coloring does all this is debated, but in my experience, it’s true. After a long day, I pop in a movie, sit on the couch, and color. I control every aspect of the piece, which is sometimes needed after a day of feeling out of control. I listen to the movie and create something I’m proud of while benefiting from the science behind it.

I knit for the same reasons, and coloring gives me another healthy stress outlet. I can’t always work – and don’t try to – but I am a busy-body. My body will not let me just lay there on the couch most nights. I have trouble sitting still and always feel a need to do something. I have lots of nervous energy, and art in any format has been a good outlet.

It also occurred to me that as a writer/proofreader, the last thing I want to do is read or write. Coloring is much easier on my eyes after a 10-hour day on the computer. Hard copies and good lighting are gentle, and there’s no glare. Coloring is somewhat mindless, while reading requires comprehension.

Trying this new trend also taught me that trends aren’t necessarily bad. I don’t pay much attention to them, but this one does have its benefits and I hope it stays for a while. People would feel better if they found healthy ways to deal with stress and slow down.

Here are a few of my pages just for fun. If you color, feel free to share those with us!

Adult Coloring Designs

Adult Coloring Happy

Adult Coloring Cool

Creative Christmas: Sir Daniel Fortesque

As was said in my RevPub Partner’s Christmas Post creative presents are the best presents.  I decided not to buy random, useless stuff for people this year and do some artwork.

I’m normally a black and white pencil illustrator, but ever since my experience with chalk pastels on Halloween I’ve been eager to try more.  I’ve had random images pop into my head since Halloween and a “classical” portrait of Medi-Evil’s Sir Daniel Fortesque was remarkably vivid and I knew I had to draw this one right away.  Since my friend Mike and I are a huge fan of the series, I knew this was going to be his present:

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Roughing out images for chalk pastels is super fast.  I don’t know why it so different from pencils, but for some reason I can get a rough outline done in chalk in a matter of minutes and have it be relatively accurate.

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During nearly every chalk pastel I’ve done there is a point where I think “Oh blessed Omnissiah, I’ve ruined it…”  This was the point in this one.  I didn’t have a brown pastel, so I was mixing my own.  At this stage to me everything looked wrong.  I learned on previous images that continuing and correcting as you go works very well.  I don’t erase as much in chalk as the medium is easier to cover with subsequent layers.

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At this point the corrections started to make me feel better…  I always draw the eyes in last but I was pretty happy it was all going to work out.  As an aside, I’ve had a clip on drawing board for years.  It’s worn and damaged but it’s served me well.  Especially for medium-sized pieces.

20151219_215358Final Sir Dan.  I decided not to overly detail his leg armor so it didn’t draw away from his upper body.  I was incredibly happy with this one, and it made for a great Christmas to a fellow Medi-Evil fan.  Just shy of a NEW installment in the series.