Tongue Twisters

June 14, 2016

I never imagined myself being able to say the “She sells sea shells down by the sea shore” tongue twister very well. I always preferred “Rubber baby buggie bumpers” myself. I’ve even started to make up a few of my own: “Ghastly green goblins gagging on ghosts,” “Saint Steigan’s sword standing,” and “The only girl in the world for Arlyn.”

So what’s the point of all this?

I’ve been busy recording The Three Books as an audiobook. I’d love to say that I was nearly done, especially since I’ve now recorded the book three times (a prophecy in the title maybe?) and partially gotten through it I don’t know how many times but at least two more. I thought I had a good recording when I was done with it the second time through, then I discovered this wretched hum over the top of the vocals and trying to get rid of it just mangled the audio. I never imagined that I’d learn so much about audio engineering.

It was supposed to be simple: record the audio, edit it to clean out bad phrases to make it follow the book, and upload it.

Wrong.

Now I’ve never been one for perfection, but cleaning up mouth clicks is a booger. Sometimes I think I push it too far. I’m learning to let go. Let’s just say that I’m to a point now that I can step in my booth, say my tongue twisters, and record a chapter without any hesitation. Editing cleanup work later is the part I’m starting to dread. It takes so long.

Okay, enough of my complaining. I really just wanted to let you know that I’m still working on the audiobook and that it is coming along, just not as fast as I would hope. If I could just keep my tongue from getting all twisted and making all sorts of weird sounds. You just don’t notice them until you attune yourself to them. I recently bought some Thayer’s Dry Mouth Spray. I haven’t yet listened to any of the chapters I’ve done with the spray, but I hope it helps. The dry mouth spray came as a recommendation from Eric Stuart at Anime Oasis. I’m so glad he took the time to answer my question as well as to hear about my silly little project. When you’re doing everything right but still having issues, it’s time to get additional help. Now I dread having a recording so good and so clear in those last few chapters that I decide to go re-record the earlier ones before the throat spray. How many times through would that make?

Yeah, recording an audiobook when you’re not a profession is not an easy thing to do. It takes time, patience, research, and perseverance. I feel like the universe keeps asking me, “How badly do you want this?” Badly! I want to be able to do it myself too, because once I have my small backlist done, I want to be able to keep up, preferably on a daily basis. That thought alone probably qualifies me as insane. Here’s to hoping.

If I don’t lose my mind on this first book.

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It’s okay

February 4, 2013

It’s okay to dream.

It’s okay to have wallpaper on your computer desktop that makes other people wonder about your sanity.

It’s okay to fall in love repeatedly with different subjects.

It’s okay to have toys on your desk (and even to play with them).

Lego Loki

Lego Loki sits on my desktop.

It’s okay if others think you’re weird.

It’s okay to have imaginary friends.

It’s okay to hear voices.

It’s okay to be an artist.

It’s all those things and more that make you sparkle.


Vulnerable

January 31, 2013

It’s hard to put yourself out there when your heart is in what you do.

Rejection stings the worst when you do your best and someone tells you it’s not good enough. That criticism can tear you down.

Hate to tell you this, but that’s exactly what you need.

You have to keep putting yourself out there, testing and pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. Adventures were never taken by those who wanted to play it safe. When was the last time you heard a successful person say, “Oh, I just stayed home, never went out, and the success just spilled into my lap.” No, chances are the stories you’ve heard are about risk and failure. Inspiration comes from hearing how people overcome their obstacles.

As for rejection and criticism, those make sure that next time you try harder and learn more. These make you grow beyond what skills you have. If you aren’t seeing progress, seeing yourself getting better, then you aren’t pushing hard enough. If someone is telling you that you can do better, there’s probably a reason it’s being said. (This is not to take into consideration the advice of ‘Trolls.’ There is a difference between criticism which will help you grow – at least after the initial sting wears off — and the venomous hatred of Trolls – who tear down only because they wish they were out doing what you’re doing.)

So, I thought I’d show you a picture which shows my progress. No one was ever supposed to see this picture. It’s horrible! I knew it from the moment I painted it. I tucked it away. I found it this weekend when I was cleaning my office. I almost threw it away, but I hid it away because I know that it shows my progress.  Unfortunately, I don’t even have it dated (bad me!) but I’m guessing it’s sometime between 2007 and 2009. Okay, here it is. Don’t laugh!

Practice Painting

Bad, bad painting
12×9 Acrylic on Bristol
©  Dawn Blair

Look at that hair! What was I thinking. And what’s she got in her hands? Terrible, huh? Oh yeah! This painting was never meant to see the light of day. Back to the nether realms it should go.

But, if I’d never tried that, would I ever have done this following painting?

Windswept Angel 20x16 Acrylic on Canvas © 2010 Dawn Blair

Windswept Angel
20×16 Acrylic on Canvas
© 2010 Dawn Blair

If I’d never done Windswept Angel, which wasn’t perfect but definitely progress forward, would I have gone on to paint this?

Manifest the Magic book cover

Holding What Matters
20×16 Acrylic on Canvas
© 2012 Dawn Blair

Let yourself be vulnerable.

We all learn as we go. If we fear the process, the world will never see us shine.

Make your magic.

Sparkle.


Smaller projects

May 23, 2012

Awhile back I said in one of my blogs that I was working on something but I wasn’t ready to say what yet. Now I’m ready.

I’ve been learning animation. Mostly just messing around and tinkering. I’ve always loved cartoons. My parents didn’t understand why I could jump out of bed at 6:30 on Saturday morning without trying to have my waffles ready by 7:00 when cartoons started — boy doesn’t that date me! — when the rest of the week it was a struggle to get me up. With computers, I see great possibilities.

All these were done completely with Anime Studios Debut 6 — more great software from Smith Micro, the same company that makes Manga Studios.

So here’s one that started off as a tutorial that I expanded. I had a lot of fun with this one. Watch for the rain!

Here’s another modified tutorial.

Okay, last one if you’re still up for it. This was actually their character from the start-up screen that I played around with.

I see many great things coming with this new skill I’ve been working on. I have a couple promo videos I want to put together for Sacred Knight that I’m really excited about! So much so, I want to have them done now! Alas, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly in the beginning. I hope these aren’t too terrible. I did have fun with them (I’m sure I’ve mentioned that). To me, that’s what counts — having fun outweighs other people’s opinions of my “student work” attempts. I do hope that you enjoy seeing an artist’s early attempts — I feel too many artists only want to show what they feel is worthy which gives an unrealistic opinion. I’d rather show what I’m enjoying doing.

Okay, there’s a lot more there that I should save for another blog someday! Grin!

Anyway, let me know if you enjoyed my first animation attempts. I certainly hope you got a laugh.

One more thing I want to share which I hope you find as much inspiration as I did. This video is what gave me the courage to try out animation. I’ve just included it as a link here because it has sound — so if you’re able, turn up your speakers and Get Busy Living. If you can’t turn up the speakers, come back and play it when you can. Enjoy.


Winter Delight

June 7, 2011

Another week, another student work painting from Painting Basics by Jerry Yarnell. I was worried about the sky again since my last couple haven’t been that successful. However, this one seemed to work out well. I was actually happy with it, though I kept reminding myself of Jerry’s saying of, “Don’t piddle, play, or putter.” You have to know when to quit fiddling.

I did have a problem early on that I lost all of my basic sketch while painting the sky. I kind of had an idea where I was going to put the cabin, but as I worked the painting I started wishing I’d redone the sketch (or at least part of it) before putting in the background mountains and trees. Because I didn’t, I got a little overly ambitious with my background trees too.  When I got to doing the nearby pine trees, I had to sketch the cabin back in and make a couple changes.

At this point, I have to take a break. I’m too tired to paint. Good thing it’s dinnertime. And while I’m eating and occasionally looking over at the painting I’m reminding myself that I do need to step back from the painting every now and then to see what’s really going on with it. Isn’t that what I’m always telling my own students? Yes — come on, Dawn, practice what you preach!

Here’s a picture of it halfway through:

Winter Delight - halfway

Just between us, I’m really hating this painting at this point. I tell myself that I usually feel this was upon getting paintings blocked in, but this feels different. I’m just not happy with how it’s coming together. But I know the problem. I’m not being bold enough. I wonder what will make me have more courage with my painting — what will it take? Really! Boldness is an element I feel I’ve lost. I started art because I wanted something to challenge me. I always jump into the challenge. Yet lately I’ve let fear control me. “I’m not good enough,” I keep telling myself. Then I turn around and look at the drawing of Happy Shoe, Sad Shoe hanging on the wall with the 1st place ribbon hanging from it. Or I look at the 1st place ribbon on the wall that use to go to another painting that has since been sold. When I penciled my shoe picture, was I ever worried about how it turned out? Did I ever stop to think that I couldn’t do it? No to both question. I just did it. I allowed it. When did I stop allowing myself to be an artist to try to be an artist. Just today I commented on a friend’s blog about the difference between the two. And in trying to be an artist, I’ve squared myself to fit into a box of what I think an artist should be and I’m trying to fit in a mold which doesn’t allow me to be bold. It’s like those skies I’ve been fighting with: I want them to be perfect and smooth with no imperfections, but cloudy skies are messy and the only way to make them is to not blend them perfectly together. I have to be bold enough to trust my strokes.

So, I keep painting. Here’s the end picture:

Winter Delight - final

Now I know it’s not the best because my youngest son looks at it and says, “It’s just not as ‘wah!’ as the last one you did.” Both boys took a look at last week’s painting and were impressed — this one, not so much. As I reflect on it, I see that my fence is leaning into the turn — cars should do that, but not fences. My icy puddles in the road are not bold enough. Even the cabin could be better. My sky, I am happy with my sky. It looks good.

I guess the real question here is: do I feel like I’m learning anything? Well, honestly with the actual work of painting, no I don’t feel like I’m learning. I actually feel like I’m getting worse. I’m so concerned with following the recipe that I’m not feeling free enough to go outside the box and trust my instincts. However, I am learning a lot about myself as an artist. Eyvind Earle said in a video reflecting on his life that when he painted he often composed essays about art. I get that, especially as doing each one of these paintings makes me see deeper into my own artistic process.

Next week we go from winter (boo!) to my favorite time of year with Autumn Memories.


Evening Flight

May 31, 2011

It has been one of those weeks and I didn’t know if I was going to have a painting or not.

You’d think that after a three day weekend, I’d have plenty of time. Yep, that’s what I thought. Oh well, I guess other things needed to be done instead.

I’d thought about writing a “What happened to the painting?” blog, but then on the way home I was listening to Dan Miller’s newest podcast and he talks about commitment and being dedicated to something for your business, making it habit no matter what. DANG!

Okay, so my evening was free. So I started painting.

Maybe subconsciously I was afraid of this painting. After all, it has the same kind of messy, cloudy sky the last painting was supposed to have. That, and there’s geese.

Last year I painted a deer just to prove to myself that I could do it. When I was in high school, the only thing I could draw with some resemblance of what it was supposed to be was a duck. So painting a goose, how hard could that be.

I didn’t take any progress photos of the painting this time. But let’s just say that I still need to work on those cloudy skies. My geese — those are a story in and of themselves.

I got them sketched in, hated every one, so I just told myself to paint carefully and smalled than they were drawn. Okay. I got them underpainted. Then they needed to dry. I sat down to start writing this blog.

That’s when a soft knock came to my door. I thought it was the boys coming home, so I stupidly answered it. Nope, it was a salesman. He spoke so softly that I could barely hear him, except to repeat over and over that his boss was in the car. He wanted to come into my house. Here I am in my painting apron, covered in paint, paint on my hands, obviously I’ve been busy. Besides, a salesman in my house. Do I look stupid? Not in this day and age. I told him I have a no solicitation sign on my door. Granted it’s small and faded. “Oh, really?” he asks while I slide back inside and lock my door. Damn, next time just remind me to call the cops. I’m so tired of door-to-door salesman. Especially near 9:00 at night.

Anyway, now my geese are still needing to dry and my whole groove has been thrown off. I sit back down to my blog and happened to go back to see what I did last time. Guess what? I notice that my blog that was supposed to post on Sunday didn’t! Now I’m frustrated. My tags and categories aren’t there even though I fully remember adding them. I even grabbed the shortlink to put into another blog, so I’m sure it posted. Good grief. As if social networking hadn’t been the bane of my existence since the previous Friday! But I won’t go into that. That blog is now set to post tomorrow.

Well, it looks like my geese are now dry. I should have some time left before the boys get home, so I’m going to go see if I can finish up this painting. Be right back.

Halfway through these geese and I’m wondering what I think I’m doing. Why did I think that these birds would be easy? They look easy. So I change tactics and tell myself to loosen up a bit. I keep working. Soon, they are finished and I’m fairly happy with how my first up-close geese came out.

What do you think?

Evening Flight

Now, let’s hope that this week flows a bit better than the last. Next time: Winter Delight. It looks like another messy, cloudy sky. Third times the charm? We can hope!


High Country Majesty

May 24, 2011

My mother once told me that when making a recipe, be sure to read through the whole recipe first.

Recipes always seemed like instructions to me! (grin)

But you know, after starting on this painting, I realized that maybe it’s important to think things through to the end. You can’t just jump in, paddle around, and expect it all to end well. Funny how many things in my life have been pointing that direction lately — telling me to get the end goal in mind before beginning.

Even starting with a sketch on canvas is still having some sort of goal in mind. Yes, it’s loose and leaves room for improvisation, but it’s still a direction to move in. (Kind of like the framework of a business plan and a budget — an end result that can still be tinkered with). So here’s the initial sketch:

High Country Majesty initial sketch

Well, now that I have the end goal in mind, I start moving forward.

Part 1

The hake brush and I cooperated much better this time, but I felt like there was something missing. There’s an instruction in painting the sky that I really don’t quite get. Maybe if I’d read a couple steps ahead, I would’ve understood it better. I had a nicely blended sky by the time I was done, but no clouds. Oops! I realized this about the time I was putting in the waterfall, so I went back and added some cloud formations.

This was also my first time making pine trees with the hake brush. I’m not quite sure — I probably should’ve pulled out a video to review, but I just tried. Overall, I’m okay with our they turned out.

Now I’m to lining the clouds. Really not sure about this step.

Part 2

Since my clouds weren’t right to begin with, I feel like I’m messing this up more. Dang “read the recipe before you begin” advise. But, understanding where I was going beforehand really would’ve made a difference I think. Chalk that up to another thing learned (of course we’ll see how well I follow the advice when I get to the next painting).

Then I highlight the mountains. Again, should’ve read all the directions before beginning, not just the sentence or two that I needed at that moment. I also made a change in brushes — I felt the size Jerry recommended was too small and I’m all for letting the “workhorse brushes” do the work. Still, I thing the highlighting on the mountains came out very well. In fact, after doing that, the sky doesn’t look so weird after all. Sometimes it’s just a matter of stepping back for a moment and viewing the piece as a whole to really see what needs work. Hmmm, another good piece of advice: even while moving forward, don’t forget to stop sometimes and make sure the whole picture looks good and is moving in the overall direction of the goal. Cooking, art, business — I’m really starting to think there isn’t a whole lot of difference between them. Really, there’s probably not a whole lot of difference between anything in this life except for our perception of it.

Okay, enough philosophizing. Back to painting.

Waterfall needs work

Right about now I’m hating this painting. The sky’s not right and my waterfall looks all wrong. I do like the colors I’ve got going in the big rocks, but they all are lining up. Also, look at the top of that waterfall. Do you know what happens when you fill water into a funnel and the funnel outlet can’t keep up? Yep, that’s right, it overflows. I’ve got the same thing going on here with this waterfall, so why isn’t the water running over these rocks? Gravity has no mercy!

Well, I make a few changes to the waterfall. I also add some more colored clouds to the sky. This painting looks simple, but it’s not. Deceptive and devious this painting is. The more I work on it, the more I realize that I really need to start over. Had it been my own composition, I may very well have. But since this is part of my learning, I carry on to the end.

Finished painting for High Country Majesty

So it’s not perfect. Really, that’s what I get for not reading the recipe first. My rocks are still way too lined up and the waterfall not right. The sky — oh, don’t even get me going about that. I do like the mountains, but even they could use work. It’s dang hard trying to paint in someone else’s footsteps! I keep rinsing out my brushes with a vengeance while reminding myself that I do know how to paint. If I’d just loosen up and let myself paint how I paint and not worry so much about making my painting look so much like Jerry’s I’d probably get somewhere. Isn’t that what I said last time too?

Well, for next time, it’s Evening Flight. More dead pine trees! Egads! Okay, wish me luck as I dive back in!