“Make it work!” Mondays: … How do I animate?

I wanted my videos to have animation in them. Animation was something I’ve always wanted to learn how to do, and it would give my videos a much more surreal quality to them if I hand made every inch of the frame. It would also be much, much, much more time consuming. Was I ready to commit to a project like that? Did I even know how to realize a project like that?


I had messed around with a green screen in a class once, and found it surprisingly easy to use. This was encouraging. Maybe I could act in front of a green screen and then add in animated backgrounds?

All I know is I’ve got a lot of work to do…

That Creative Life: Getting back on the horse!

The past  couple of weeks have been unfortunately busier than anticipated. I felt quite drained a lot of the time. My morning routine went all to shit, and I definitely felt the negative effects. My online course was wrapping up and so there were assignments and final reflections to write. At the same time, my teaching job was starting up, so I had lesson plans to create. I suddenly had a bunch of things on my plate that I didn’t want to do. I wanted to keep working on my art and my blog, but the idea of doing so felt irresponsible. I kept telling myself, just get those nagging tasks done and then you can go back to creating. The problem is, my brain is really good at telling me I should do nothing at all instead of getting my homework done. It wouldn’t be so bad if I had spent the time doing work that I loved, for fun, while procrastinating… but no, instead I just wasted time with nothingness. I don’t know about you, but when I procrastinate, because I feel the weight of my to-do list looming over me, I can’t even ENJOY the internet junk food I consume when procrastinating. I’m too stressed and flit from social media site to social media site, searching for the rush I want but am incapable of feeling. It really is a negative cycle, and one that can only be broken by actually doing the work.

Eventually, my brain will snap out of it’s frantic internet squirrel mode and begrudgingly decide that it was finally time to get this stupid work out of the way. And then, while I hated every minute of it, I would complete my homework. Part of the reason why I dread homework so much is that it always seems to take way longer than I think it will. Maybe I’m just a slow worker, I don’t know.

One of Gretchen Rubens’ Happiness Project resolutions was to “Act the way you want to feel.” She didn’t want to be tired when her daughters wanted to play at the end of a long day, so she tried to act like she was full of energy and found that, by doing so, her tanks were refilled! I’ve been experimenting with this idea, and find that while it may not work all the time to trick myself into actually liking doing work I don’t like doing, it has been able to put me in an energetic creative mood when I was otherwise “too tired” to do so before. 

Once I start doing something creative, my whole mindset improves. It took a quarter century but I’ve discovered how important having creativity in my life. A creative outlook is vital.

The important part is that you start back up. Don’t beat yourself up for stopping, or falling off the horse as it were. Remember: Day one is better than one day, after all.

What always invigorates you? What is your favourite thing to do? What do you wish you did more of? What do you “not have time for?”

WEEKLY UPDATE: June 25 – July 1st. Busy, Busy, Busy!

This week

Day 24: I drew this at 9:30 am today, not so patiently waiting for the finale to be posted on a streaming site, while simultaneously avoiding any social media site or other possible place where I might accidentally find out who had been crowned America’s next drag superstar. I drew this without a reference because I was terrified of googling @sashavelour and having the result spoiled. So, at 9:30 am, as I said, I drew this image out of pure hope and faith that Sasha would be the seasons winner. AND I WAS RIGHT!!! AND SHE KILLED THE LIPSYNCS! Amazing! So happy! Bravo Sasha! Well deserved title. You are the perfect combination of beauty and brains, creativity and oddity. I can’t wait to see what you do next! #teamsasha
Day 26: Three-headed boxer with the winning punch!
Day 27. Drama, highlighted.
Day 28: tired.
Day 29: sweet dreams are made of this. Looking forward to sleeping in and staying home on the weekend.
Day 30: finishing off this months challenge with yet another drawing of @sashavelour She has been a huge inspiration to me since I saw her on Drag Race, blown away by her combination of intellect, oddity, kindness and pure talent! If you haven’t seen her lipsync to “No More I Love Yous” look it up right now!!


Now that a month of 30 minute drawings has come to a close, I’ve challenged myself to participate in the #sketchbooksummer challenge, where you have to fill a sketchbook in a month. I did the math: That means 3.5 double wide spreads every day. Doesn’t seem too bad. I’m looking forward to getting back to traditional mediums. It will be nice to have a moment to unplug, especially after a busy day teaching, something to quiet the mind.

This has been a crazy busy week. Too busy!

ESL camp started. There are 50 Mexican fifth graders visiting this week. All are very sweet, and OBSESSED with “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi.  Not that I can blame them… it is catchy as hell!

It’s me!
These are the team names the students gave themselves. They came up with them all by themselves with no influence from me.
I pride myself in teaching only the most vital English phrases. (But for real, they loved this game)

 

Ontario’s provincial coat of arms


We took them on a tour of Queen’s Park, Ontario’s Parliament Building. Unrelated, but check out this cool old bike light that I saw on display there!

Cool antique bike light from my home town!
Look at how it attached to the handlebars!

A close friend of mine is an event planner and he gets invited to all kinds of cool open houses. On Monday I was lucky enough to get to go with him to a hella swanky event at the new Globe and Mail building. Lots of delicious food – AND VEGAN OPTIONS! Hooray!… on reusable plates no less! (As someone trying to reduce the amount of waste she produces, I try not to use disposable plates or straws).

Gorgeous views!

The venue had no walls, which means gorgeous 360 views of the Toronto skyline. The best part, hands down, was the cocktails. My god! Strawberry-Rhubarb syrup, rum, whiskey, orange twist, ginger beer, gin from Canada’s north…. I had a little bit (read: a lot) of everything. Mmmm!

Normally there is only wine and beer at the events I go to. This line up is much, MUCH more to my liking!
Maybe I was enjoying the free cocktails a little too much? Naaw!
For entertainment they had an electric violin player, harpist and flutist playing covers of pop hits. Was pretty cool! This guy really got into it!

 

Tuesday, we took the kids bowling. I am very rusty and my wrist was not very happy about having to hurl heavy balls again and again. Am I getting old?

July 1st is the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Canadian confederacy, so there was a lot of big celebrations going on. Friday I went to see a Canadian music staple, The Barenaked Ladies. They were a huge part of my childhood soundtrack. I remember listening to the Maroon album on repeat on my CD walkman in the backseat, as I third-wheeled a date night with my mom. It was mainly to drown out Rod Stewarts “Great American Songbook” playing in the card. That was the hottest record among 50 year olds at the time. Also, funny story: One Christmas, my Oma asked my mom what I wanted for a present, and my mom said “The newest Barenaked Ladies CD.” My Oma, mortified and embarrassed, had to go into the record store and ask where she could find the Barenaked Ladies. Sorry Oma, but thanks for the CD! 

 

 

The Barenaked Ladies were fantastic! So playful and engaging, with such control of the audience; I couldn’t help but think “wow, these guys are Professional musicians.” I would definitely pay a lot of money to see them perform again! First Nation folk singer and Canadian Icon Buffy St. Marie played that night too. I’m glad I got to see her perform. The fireworks were pretty great too!

Thing I learned this week: The power of facepaint. I painted rainbows on my friend’s faces because they were going to be part of the Pride parade, and they apparently got a lot of attention, which was awesome! On Thursday, the campers went to see a Blue Jays game, and I spent the afternoon painting the Jay’s logo onto 50 children’s faces. If anyone wants a Blue Jay on their cheek, come see me. I’m an expert at this point! Finally, for Canada Day, I painted a Canadian flags on the faces of my friends, and even made new friends with a super-sweet couple by offering to paint them! Facepaint: bringing people together!

How was your week? What did you get up to? While I enjoyed my busy week, I learned that it was too much. I need more downtime! That is my goal for next week!

What am I watching? (In five words or less)

  1. Preacher, season 2
    “Best comic book TV Adaptation
  2. Fireworks!
    CN tower and City Hall”      
  3. Sasha Velour LipSyncs
    Expressive reveals YAS QUEEN!”

What am I reading? (in five words of less)

  1. Make your own luck by Kate Morross
    “Relaxed attitude to graphic design”

WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE? How to live a more creative and fulfilling life

Do you want to live your life more creatively? Do you have an artistic hobby but feel that you are just mediocre at it, and therefore have denied the possibility of it ever becoming a career? Are you unhappy with your job, your field of study, or your life in general? Are you not even sure you know what you like to do?

If the answer to any of those questions is “Yes,” my heart goes out to you. This is a tough place to be, and “hopeless, wasted potential” is a horrible feeling to sit with.

I have good news! You have the power to change your life! But how, might you ask? Well, I’m no expert, but I’m trying to answer those questions for myself at the moment and I thought I would share what I’ve learned and tell you what I’ve tried. I’m only at the beginning of my journey, but have already seen improvements to my happiness and sense of fulfilment. Hopefully this post will help you take the first step to realizing the same in your life.

SUGGESTION NUMBER ONE: READ!

I love self help books. I think they’re great. At the start of my journey I spent an hour or two in a bookstore browsing their self-help section and writing down the titles I found interesting. I went home and put them on hold at my local library, because I am broke university student and can’t afford to buy every book that catches my eye. The library is a great place to check out books, risk free! Since placing all of those holds, a new book seems to come in for me to pick up at the library every week! It’s like a free subscription service for books! Amazing!

Blogs are also a great free source of inspiration. I love blogs because they contain stories and advice that come from real people. They often come with updates, so you can see how that person progressed over time. Don’t worry, Google won’t judge you about the questions you ask it. And there is no harm in asking. Just keep a critical eye out in case you come across a website or two making promises that sound too good to be true, or cost money, or suggest radical life changes. Stay safe.

Books I recommend

1. “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron

This is an extensive 12 week course contained in a book. This book will help you discover what it is that really matters to you, and what you want to spend your time doing. I am only half way through, and it has been very helpful. The Artists Way is critically acclaimed, with good reason. While I am not a huge fan of the religious overtones of this book, it is easy to set those elements aside and still receive the help that is contained in these pages.

2. “The Four Agreements” by Don Migeul Ruiz

I read this book in the park on a beautiful pre-summer day. It was poetry to my soul. In just 80 some odd pages, Don Miguel Ruiz teaches you how to take your life back into your own hands by trying to do four things: Be impeccable with your word; don’t take things personally; don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. I am just starting to apply the Four Agreements to my life, and know that they take a lot of work to live by, but I believe that they will bring positive change and growth. This book has been a best seller for ages. Supposedly it was the book that gave Ellen Degeneres the courage to come out and live her life truthfully! Oprah loves it too.

3. “Steal like an Artist” and 4. Show Your Work”  by Austin Kleon

I loved both of these books because they were quick reads that gave tangible, real life examples of things you can do to bring creativity into your life and turn your passions into a career. This blog was totally inspired by “Show Your Work” because Austin taught me that you need to put yourself out there, share what you’re making, because you never know what opportunities may come from it.

5. “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo

This book started it all for me. I’m one of those people who needs to clean her room before she can start studying for a test, so environment is a big influence on me. Marie Kondo will help you declutter your life and create your own castle. Your house should be your favourite place on earth! Your room should be a paradise! You probably know already that you own more things than you need. Giving things away is scary, I understand. But I dare you to try it!

SUGGESTION NUMBER TWO: DO!

Now that you’ve read some things to get inspired and you’re motivated to actually get to work, that’s exactly what you need to do… GET TO WORK.

The number one thing I recommend is to set aside10-30 minutes every day to DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE. I believe that the thing that helped me the most was challenging myself to do a drawing every day. I only started this practice back in October 2016, and already I have seen my art skills get exponentially better. Austin Kleon agrees with me: There is power in doing something every day. 

To recap: The way to a creative and more fulfilling life has two steps: READ and DO. 

 

I hope this post inspires you! If you do happen to read any of these books, or have read them in the past, let me know what you thought about them! Have a favourite book about creativity that I missed? Leave it in a comment down below! I’m always looking for book recommendations. And, of course, if this post inspires you to create something, please share it with me. I’d love to see what you made!

Good luck!

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Note: This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products that I have used myself, enjoyed and benefited from. If you make a purchase through these sites, you’ll be supporting my dream of being an artist and living my life to the fullest, so thank you!

MerMay 2017 Complete!

Wow! Has it been a whole month already?

For those of you not following me on instagram, I’ve been participating in “MerMay” – an art challenge where you are asked to draw a picture of a mermaid every day for the month of May. I learned about this challenge too late in the year last year to join. This year, however,  I had it written down on my calendar so I wouldn’t miss it!

Here are all 31 images together. If you’d like to see them in greater detail, pop on over to my instagram (@leslietaylordesign)

What I am proud of:

  • My use of colour. I have discovered not only the opacity tool, but the hardness slider on my photoshop brush, and suddenly the world is my oyster. I also experimented with adding little dots for colour and texture and really like the effect!
  • My line work and image quality Somewhere around day four, May the Fourth (be with you), my line work really improved! I had been challenging myself to work from a reference as little as possible and under no circumstances copy an image in and trace it in photoshop. As a result, I am really blown away by some of the faces and bodies I drew this month.
  • Mer-Basset Hounds, Mer-weimaraners and Pug-topuses! This month was full of cute doggy sea creatures.

My goals for June’s daily drawings

  • Speed! I am going to restrict myself to 30 minutes per drawing. When the time runs up, I post what I have. My drawing teacher at college said that time is the money, meaning you could take 30 minutes to complete a painting, or five hours, but if you’re only getting paid $50 for the piece, you could be earning $100 an hour, or $10, it’s up to you.

 

My daily drawings will continue, though I’m not sure what I should draw for the month of June. Any suggestions?

This post is dedicated to Ravyn, the smiling weimaraner I mermaid-i-fied on May 12th. Unfortunately, she passed away on the 30th due to poor health. She lived 15 wonderful, yet neurotic, years.

Daily Drawing Challenge: Enter InkTober!

Wow! Has it already been a week since my last post? I’ve been quite swamped by school work but I am making good progress on my projects. While I do not think I’ll be 100% done weeks in advance with tonnes of free time to play around in, I do think that I can get the bulk of my course load done so that I am free to focus on my practicum. Four weeks of being in the classroom is a lot of work, so I want to be able to give it my all.

The following drawings are from Sept 27 to October 3rd. I’m participating in InkTober for the first time ever, so you’ll notice a change in my drawings done this month. If you’ve never heard of InkTober, it is a month long drawing challenge started by Jake Parker. Back in 2009, Jake challenged himself to draw and ink a picture every day and he shared those drawings with the world through his blog. More info and the official prompts list can be found here. It’s been strange to adjust to following prompts as my inspiration, but I’m liking the challenge thus far. I’ve allowed myself to use references for this month, since I want to create images that respond to the prompts as best as I can. While I am liking the close study of objects through using references, I do kinda miss the freedom of just drawing whatever like I did when I forbid myself from using any reference of any kind at the start of my daily drawing challenge.

Here are my little art babies born this week:

Daily Drawing #17. Zebras. #drawing #dailydrawing #draweveryday #dailysketch #sketch #sketchbook #colour #zebra #drawingchallenge

A photo posted by Leslie Taylor (@leslietaylordesign) on

Are you doing InkTober? Please live your instagram handle or a link to your blog below! I’d love to check out what you’ve drawn!

Have a great day, everybody!
– Leslie