Friday, November 4, 2016

Goal Update

In my last post I was thinking about goals.  I had completed most of what I set out to accomplish (professionally) for 2016, but was way underachieving in my drawing goal.

Original drawing goal:
  • Thirty minutes of drawing 3 times per week.  
  • Two completed card drawings per month.
  • One completed comic per month.

I revised my drawing goal and it looks more like this:
  • Thirty minutes of drawing 5 times per week, or a total of 2.5 hours per week.

Why wasn't my first set of goals successful when it was so easy?

Truly, I think the biggest barrier this year has been my health:
In May I began treatment for active chronic Lyme disease.  The illness can be pretty debilitating, but so can the treatment.  Imagine being in the throws of something like the flu and your calendar reminds you that you have the goal to draw for X amount of time or complete X numbers of drawings that day.  It might be something you put off until you feel better.  Imagine if you only feel better a few days a month (if you're lucky).  Yeah, not a lot getting done.

The health issue really made a bunch of smaller barriers into larger ones.  For example:
  • Only being able to draw when I felt well enough.
  • The pressure to complete three works per month, but not feeling well enough to even do enough sketching to come up with anything worth taking to the finish line.

So, my goal revision was an attempt to reduce whatever barriers I could.

I decided that what was most important was for me to actually get drawing!  Yes, I want to complete things and have new images for my cards or new comics to share.  But more importantly, I don't want the pressure of having a finished product to get in my way of just practicing.

So, how have I been doing?

Some weeks are lacking, but most weeks I am able to meet my goal or get close.

What has helped?
  • Taking away the pressure of three completed pieces each month has helped tremendously.  Now, I have no completion goals.  So, there is no pressure to create something "worthy" of being out in the world.  This means I can just play and practice.  This allows for spontaneity and taking risks - and that is when I tend to create things that I want to take to the finish line.  In fact, I've even completed an average of one card and one comic page per month since I removed these as a goals.
  • Allowing the drawing time to get combined if necessary.  Perhaps one day I draw for a few hours, but the rest of the week I'm too ill to even touch my pencils, or all my free time is consumed by medical appointments and driving to and fro.  No problem, I still meet my goal.  I'm still practicing.

I'll keep up with this revised drawing goal the rest of 2016, and do my best.  As I draft my goals for 2017 I'll keep in mind what I've learned.  And just as I've reviewed and adjusted my goals when I wasn't meeting them, I'll do so as my health improves (which I have to believe it will).

The take away: Reviewing and revising my goals actually allowed me to become more productive.  And isn't that... the goal?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Time to Revise 2016 Goals

I've freed up about 20 hours of time per week.  I was temping two days a week and had an hour commute each way (with my sweetie), and now I'm done.

Before I can truly recoup this time, I've actually got company visiting throughout most of July.  But once everyone heads to their respective homes and I'm left to myself, then what?

I figure it might be a good time to review my 2016 goals, and create some structure for myself so that I can achieve (or get closer to) some of the overlooked goals I've set.

One in particular that I haven't given proper attention is drawing in general, and another is working on my comics.  Comics have completely fallen by the wayside and I'm very displeased.

In all honesty, I have managed to do a bit... but I had intentionally set some pretty achievable goals:
  1. Create two drawings per month for greeting cards
  2. Complete one comic page per month
I believe I've completed one or two greeting card drawings, and two comic pages possibly 3 depending on when I completed it.

I've been a bit more successful on other goals:
  1. Contact 3 vendors by June 30th about stocking my cards
  2. Create 50 ready-made books this year
  3. Take one class
One of the vendors I contacted actually worked out.  I've created about 40 ready-made books and it's only half way through the year.  And I learned a new book structure in the class I took this spring.

I'd like to add on to some of these during my goal review.  I feel like there is still time to catch another class, if I can find something of interest that I can get to.  And maybe make even *more* books.  And possibly contact even more vendors (this one isn't particularly difficult, but is very scary and rejection is hard on the feelers).

I've also accomplished several personal goals (like painting my kitchen cabinets, attending yoga, and only buying clothes that hone the particular styles I've decided to cultivate).

It's just those goals around drawing that haunt me.

Why?  If you don't practice your craft, you can't get better at it.  And I want to be better at drawing, and better at making comics.  I also want to get better at storytelling and telling the story I need to tell.

One solution that pops out at me with this 20 extra hours per week that will officially be mine in a couple weeks is a daily drawing practice.  I'm going to have to be disciplined, and set a daily time, and just do it Every. Single. Day.  Even if I hate what I draw.  Maybe even if I don't draw anything at all and am just sitting there with pencils/pens and paper and nothing else.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Creative Shifting

Okay, so I didn't make that caterpillar, but I did take the photo.  And really, my point is that I'm trying to be outside more, and actively trying to be inspired and practicing... *gasp*... gratitude... or something like it.  Also, I'm trying to practice "letting go", which I think I've been better at in the past than I am currently.

I'm a bit stuck creatively with book arts, drawings for cards, and comics, but really bulldozing my way through a pile of cover paper as I make Ready Made wedding guest books.

Gold and Cream Wedding Guest Book by Amy L. Burns

It's funny how that works... being blocked in some creative areas but not in others.  In the past I've thought of it as waves of creativity, and maybe it was wave-like.  But maybe a better way to think of it is that my creativity shifts between things.

I'd rather be working on those other things, but binding is the thing that isn't blocked right now, so it's where I go until things shift again.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Don't Feed The Birds

Though this isn't my first ever comic, it's my first "hey, I'm showing everyone out there what I did" comic.  That makes it special.  Enjoy.

Bird Feed Comic by Amy L. Burns

Monday, November 23, 2015

Linocut Holiday Cards

So, last year I made my own holiday cards.  I did some sketches of an idea I had about two people walking through a birch forest in the winter.  I wanted white trees on a darker background, maybe with a splash of color.

When I had a sketch I liked, I decided how to best translate my image to a card.  Then, I transferred a completed drawing to a couple different pieces of linoleum (multiple colors mean multiple templates).  Next I did some test prints on different colors of scrap paper.  I found a black background too stark and spooky, but a cool grey looked just right with my red caped and black shodden folk as they travel to their winter destination.

I made about 45 of these 4.25" x 5.5" cards, and sent out around 20.  I packaged the rest up for sale and have waited until today to release them on my Etsy site, and to reveal the "how I made this" process here.

I started by creating a frame to hold my linoleum.
Nothing fancy, I use what is at hand - in this case cardboard.
  Since my linoleum isn't on a block, cardboard is a fine depth.
I outline my piece of linoleum on the cardboard,
and cut out the rectangle so the linoleum fits snug within.
Adding white ink to my brayer.
With my linoleum in the frame,
I drop down a protective cover for the edges, and began to roll.
I lift the protective layer up
so I can place my card on a clean surface.
Aligning my card stock with the inked linoleum.
A white bit of paper covers an inked area I didn't want to print.
A brayer will apply an even pressure to the raised areas of linoleum.
A bone folder works well if you don't have a brayer,
or if you need to focus on a spot that didn't print well.
And of course, you can use a spoon in a pinch.
The result of my print.
Next, hand-painting my people!

I actually flipped the card over
and used a small bone folder to print my people.
Here's how they printed... walking down the path.
Check out the finished product listing on Etsy, as of right now there are three sets left, each has 5 cards.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Playing with New Paper Colors

Every time I re-order paper for wedding guest books, I try to order a new color as well.  So, my last order included a bright and wonderful green!  I've been playing around with color combinations and just love how this paper looks with bright Lokta covers.

Just so you can enjoy these fun papers, too... I've made a little collage of some of these delicious books.
Clockwise from left:  Magenta with green pages,
Burnt orange with diamond pattern pages, Cream damask with black pages,
Series 2 books - some with colorful pages!
To choose new paper colors for pages, I'll usually browse through swatch books looking for a page color that would look great with several different cover colors.

Lately, I've been drawn to both bold and subtle colors. For example, I really enjoy the grey with grey. Sure, grey goes fine with white, but I prefer how the greys make a more cohesive whole together.

On my list of future colors are brown, red, turquoise, and pink.  In the year or so it will take me to acquire these, I'll need to build a home for these stacks of 25x38 inch sheets.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Brunetti Week 1

I'm back from a week of creating comics with some talented and delightful folks at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction Vermont... AND some of us are working through Ivan Brunetti's "Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice".

The first exercise is to draw a particular object several times, each time a bit faster.  The first time 3-4 minutes, the second in 2 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds, 15 seconds, and then 5 seconds.

Looking for that happy medium where my drawings retain some substance but are still doodles... I'd say usually 30 seconds to 1 minute.

I prefer my 30 second car, castle, telephone and self-portrait, along with my 1 minute cat.  Although I do kinda enjoy my 5 second self-portrait, too.

After I doodle my way into something amazing, I'd like to print my work on cards, perhaps journal covers, and maybe small posters.  We'll see.