Ithanes

Not too long ago, I showed a picture from my sketchbook of the main character of my Sacred Knight series, Steigan.

A few nights ago I was flipping through my sketchbook again and came across a picture that reminds me of Ithanes. Ah, Ithanes!

He doesn’t come into the story until book 2, Manifest the Magic, but he was so full of surprises for me. I’ve come to utterly adore him. He’s like the king of snark, and very powerful with his magic. He knows what he’s good at, and lets people follow their strengths. He’s a good leader in that he finds people to compensate for the areas where he is weak. I think that’s why he likes Steigan so much. Yet, he also doesn’t often show weakness in himself. He’s lord of two lands, Dubinshire and Gohaldinest, and he lets everyone know it. Don’t let him fool you, though. He does have his deep, dark secrets.

And speaking of which, I so want to look through that curio cabinet he keeps locked in his chambers. In book 3, To Birth a Destiny, the reader gets to see that curio a couple of times and Steigan even describes some of what he saw. But let me tell you, I was right there when Steigan was discussing what he was seeing and he certainly didn’t get to some of the more interesting items toward the back. Some day I’d like to draw that cabinet and all the trinkets in there. I’d also love to sit down and talk to Ithanes about how he collected all of them. Oh, the stories!

This sketch was done in 2018. I do think if I’d intended it to be Ithanes, it should have had a teardrop-shaped gemstone hanging from the circlet. Maybe I just needed practice drawing a circlet, even a wiry one. (grin)

Maybe someday I’ll get around to doing an illustrated Sacred Knight edition, or maybe even a graphic novel. Someday.

Thoughts on Secret Thoughts

Let me begin by saying that I don’t suffer from impostor syndrome. Absolutely not. No way.

At least not until the moment I step up to the canvas and begin painting. Then, all bets are off.

For the last couple of years I have been asking myself just what is wrong with me. I have all the confidence in the world when I’m writing, and heck, even when I’m narrating. But I would just turn myself inside out when I thought about drawing or painting. It use to not be that way. Call it “beginner’s luck” or whatever, but I started off feeling successful with my newly discovered art skill, but as the years went by, I felt more and more like a fake, a fraud, and a hack — a full-blown impostor. It ground me to a halt. No matter how many times people told me that my art was beautiful (and I only believe about 50% of the people that tell me that), I didn’t believe anyone. This reaction made no sense to me.

I, like everyone else, don’t like to be judged or criticized. I know this is part of it, but I realize that there’s a certain amount of exposure that comes with creativity. I’m all right with it in my writing. But my art… it just feels different. I don’t even think I can explain it.

I have no schooling in art, writing, audio engineering, or acting. Oh, I’ve taken a class here or there, gone to a few conferences, read lots of books, and bloody well jumped in and started doing the work figuring out what I need to know as I go along. I have no fear; I know I can learn anything I need to know. I’ve even taken painting classes with Jerry Yarnell. But for some unknown reason, not being school in art, art history, color theory, etc., really bugs me. I have taught myself about artists I’m interested in and can identify their work on sight. I may not know everything about them or their work, or even their creation process, but I can say that about many writers too. Why do I not feel worthy of being an artist? If it’s just a matter that I haven’t put in as many hours as I have for my writing, why can’t I drag myself to do more, to practice?

I realized toward the end of last year that I really needed to work on this, especially if I was going to get back to painting this year. So, I focused on some articles and books for writers about overcoming self-doubt.

There’s still a part of me that venomously hates that word, especially in reference to me: self-doubt.

Now that I’ve spat the awful taste off my tongue, my search took me down some very strange places, places I really didn’t feel I belonged. At least not when I took it from a writer’s point of view. I got into things about intelligence and creativity, multiple talents, creative anxiety, etc. I’m still working my way through some of it. But, in my search and while I was looking for my next audiobook to listen to while I walked, I came across The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Valerie Young.

While this book is geared toward women, it also addresses men and the impostor syndrome. It is not slanted to creative types — Valerie Young works more with students, professors, and professionals. I have many people in my life who I really think would benefit from listening to this book.

It was very hard for me to listen too. I kept thinking, “This does not apply to me!” I suspect this is what many women I know would say if I suggested it to them. I kept having to round myself back and remember that I was not needing this for where I was confident, but where I was weak, where I did feel like an impostor in my own life. In trying to stay focused on this and knowing that I was seeing where I felt other people needed to know about this book, I realized that deep inside, many women felt small and insignificant. I kept thinking about all the quotes that speak to the fact that if you feel fear about something, that is the direction you should be heading in.

I have long known exactly where my own feelings of inadequacy came from. So when Valerie describes coming to understand your Crusher, the thing that gave root to the impostor syndrome in your life, I already knew mine. I could feel it.

Now for me, because of how my life has gone, I could see oh so clearly how I overcame this Crusher, which could have stopped me from telling stories, and gave me the confidence that my writing has today. It was sheer, dogged persistence that I could reject my Crusher in regards to writing. But art was always so different. It was clear to see how that became my impostor path.

I didn’t agree with the whole book or the exercises to help, but how much of that was coming from the extreme self-directed part of me I don’t know. I did bookmark a few questions and places that I thought would be helpful if I started feeling like a fraud again. I really do want to conquer this irrational side of myself. It’s holding me back from achieving my goals.

Are you being held back because you feel unworthy or because you feel like an impostor who is waiting for someone to find you out? If so, this book might be worth your read.

I think I’m finally done!

I’m done. This time, I mean it. I swear. Done!

Okay, remember this painting I showed you about a month ago or so?

I’ve been working away at it slowly. I worked really hard on it last weekend because I wanted to have it done in 2018.

Here’s a couple pictures of it in progress:

I even said I was done on my progress blog because I really thought I was done. Here’s a picture of it “completed.”

Not a bad little picture, right? I was so happy with it. Yea, a nice little space galaxy. *insert happy smiling face here*

NOT!

Two days ago, I painted a picture that blew this one out of the water.

Ka-BOOM!

I picked this picture up last night and nearly started to cry. It looked so bad, horrible, blah! Especially when compared to the other one.

So I wasn’t done. I knew I could do better. Back on the easel it went. Awhile later, here was the result:

I dare not say that I’m done yet. Who knows what tomorrow will bring,

Now, aren’t you excited to see the picture that inspired this one? Yeah, I think you’ll be just as amazed on that as me. How about I show you tomorrow? Great! It’s a date.

Sketchbook pages

While I was going back through my sketchbooks looking for an egg picture I drew some time ago, I started thinking that it’s been awhile since I showed a sketchbook page. I never did find the egg I was looking for (though I did find several others which I’d completely forgotten about – talk about a surprise).

I’ll share some of my egg sketches later. This page, however, I wanted to post. I found a lot of horses in my journal. I can’t say I’m surprised that I have a lot of horses, but I just didn’t remember drawing so many. I know I have a habit of drawing Steigan, the main character from my Sacred Knight series, but I obviously have been feeling a need to draw horses so I can draw the unicorns in the series when I finally get there.

Here’s the full page:

sketchbook page1

Below is a closeup of the upper section of the page. I don’t know what inspired the drawing, but I do enjoy it.

sketchbook closeup

It was fun going through the sketchbooks, even though I was flipping through pages quickly looking for an egg. Not only does it show how much I’ve grown, but also how I’ve developed as an artist. It’s silly, but when I started with my sketches, I would only draw on one side of the page — the right hand side. And I left a lot of white space around each drawing. Then, I started paying attention to the sketchbooks of other artists and saw how interwoven a lot of drawings were. I began to fill up the pages more. Then I saw an artist who was drawing on both front and back sides of each page in their sketchbooks. You can see from the top picture that this is actually the back side of the previous page as its on the left. I’ve even added some things I’ve cut out from junk mail or advertisements. I like to find phrases within junk mail and figure out how to make something new out of it. That’s the writer part of my, I’m sure. The sketchbook that had this page in it is stuffed to the brim with all sorts of goodies. I have little taped flaps, phrases, thoughts, ideas, journaling about what I’m thinking on a certain day, life sketches, folded pictures I thought were interesting. It’s fun to look back at all these treasures.

Yet, I couldn’t let it delay me right now. I would be too easy to go through every picture and waste all evening in nostalgia. So I kept my visit short and sweet.

But in flipping through them all, I found it interesting that I had needed permission to open up. I started off all closed up, tight, keeping things separated. But as I saw what more and more artists were doing, I loosened up and started to let things flow more and more. It seemed like a track that I needed to walk. It was a good reminder to keep trusting the process with the art in my life too.

Putting forth the work

I’ve been working with Manga Studios (or I was before I got taken down with this awful cold that’s been going around). I’ve said in prior posts that a person can make great strides in accomplishing whatever they want to do even if they only work on it in 15 minutes a day.

Well, as proof I put forth some *beginning* examples of some of my coloring attempts from Manga Studios. I say *beginning* because I feel like I teach myself how to color and then I “forget” and have to teach myself again. I keep feeling like I’m not leaving the starting block.

So, this first example, I was going to start with a circle, but then I remembered that I’ve done the circle, square, and triangle before when I was “learning” so I wanted to branch out. I picked on my next favorite circular thing, the pumpkin. Mind you, this was after watching one of the coloring videos and thinking about it in conjunction with some other coloring videos I’ve seen. I really wanted to try out some of the tools. This took me about 15 minutes to color after doing the initial sketch.

Okay, not great. Hey! Are you laughing? You are! Right, so much for “great” art — how about just creating something decent! Ha, ha. <>

But that’s not the point here. Improvement is the purpose. That was 15 minutes of work put in. Now I wanted to see how far I’d come, which meant I needed a comparison piece. So, what to draw now? To decide, I started drawing and just let the shapes guide me into my drawing. As soon as the puzzle came together and I knew what I was drawing, I also knew how I was going to color it. Here’s the second piece — which took me about 20 minutes:

Yes, better than the first. I did actually feel like I’d accomplished something, like I’d put in my first steps on the path to coloring my digital work. Still, I couldn’t help pushing it just a little further:

Aw! Isn’t he just the cutest?

Well, it’s a start. I have so much more to learn. Someday I do hope to have something worthy to post to Manga Studios’ website, but for now with my first attempts, I’ll just show them here. When I started drawing these pictures, I didn’t intend on them to be for anyone but me and my own practice. However, after seeing the growth I (believe I) achieved in less than an hour, I thought it would be worthy to share. What do you think? Do you have a favorite?

What do you think you could do or learn in 15 minutes?