Monday, April 20, 2020

What I've done and What's to come...

Hi everyone, if there's any one left that follow my posts.  Sorry for that; I've been more productive than interactive.

What to say after it's been about a 16-months hiatus since I've posted anything here?  I can say that I got some things cleared away from my backlog of projects or just simply dropped, leaving less things on the back burner of my mind.  I can say that I have changed some of my old habits, working out what tends to do better for me at different times of the day.  I like to say that I'm in a better place in my life in comparison to where I was last year but I don't seem to feel that.  However, that's probably a good thing as I can be motivated to keep improving myself until I start to feel happier.

As I'm starting to make all this purging more of a timed-weekly chore list rather than stuff to take up my free time in-between my work shifts, I'm getting what I want to do as an artist worked.  It is about time I start to do this more professionally rather than as a side-hobby.  I'll reveal how I plan to in the near-future.

In the meantime, I might as well show you some photos from one of my projects that I cleared off last year.  Or you can click/tap away from this page for something else, it's up to you.

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One of the longer projects was my scarecrow doll project, taking a lot of the scrap fabric to use up for a halloween decor idea. Depending of some features, it took weeks to get one of them done.  For the 1st half of the year, I was getting all 4 of them sewn and stuffed into blank sitting dolls:

  • Sawing and gluing wood scraps into a weighted head spikes for styrofoam heads.
  • Drawing out the templates for their fabric limbs.

  •  Cutting out multiple sheets of limb templates from discounted canvas cuts.

  • Strenuously Hand-Stitched (Machine-Stitched for some parts thankfully) and Hand-Fluffed & Stuffed all 4 into blank canvas dolls, button eyes and thread smiles.

And that was just before I start working on each one individually by summer time in-between my work shifts.  I've worked roughly from July to October to complete 2 of them before Halloween, only to have it pouring rain on the big night (Thank you for front porch awnings).

The first one was a funky mop-head hippie.  The hardest and longest part to work on it was the hair, not just for twinning into locks from literally a discounted disposable mop head but the stitching it all in staying in place with multiple cut strands.  I remember this took about 3 weeks to do out of its difficulty and having to find another mop-head that came close enough to complete the whole head.  After that, I decided to make hats for the rest of them to cut down on all that hand-stitching work.

 Next came making its clothes. Much of it was possible by sewing machine but for some aesthetics, I used colourful threads that I've double-double folded for decorative hand stitching.  A lot of the fabrics are ones I've found (and cleaned) via salvaging while some are old worn clothes and textiles like old throw pillows or seat cushions.

After many hours and hours of sewing, I took old dried corn leaves or some plant fibres and hot glued  to the hem ends of the sleeves for a straw-stuffed look. They looked a bit too long so I trimmed them.  I'd also hot-glued some extra decor for finishing touches.

...And after about 2 months' of work, this is its final look. It definitely carry much from the original sketch I drew.  It doesn't have many halloween colours but the project was about using up the old materials I had hoarded for a long time.  

Now onto the 2nd one, which is a more autumn-coloured country girl.  I used a lot of old denim pants' scraps to make her dress, embroidered with some orange threads courtesy of my sewing machine.

After the dress, I did the pointed hat in denim too but made more patch-like with both sides and discoloured wrinkles.

I decided to have a colourful inner-liner for the hat. This took lots of sewing to get every bit of that dollar store-bought dishcloth to fit under but the patchiness works with the hat.

After a few adornments included to the hat and dress, I've moved onto the hair.

Taking unwoven dishcloth strands and dyed raffia fibres left-over from my Scarecrow Angel Makeover project, I've hand-stitched front banes and back hair to weave into a braid.  Remembering how much trouble I had for the first one and I didn't have enough "red hair" for the 2nd, I used the hat to cover over the "bald spot," giving the illusional look.

And then after a few additions, voila the second doll is done and just a week before Halloween.  Had some trick or treaters said that they liked how they looked.

Well, that's what I got done for this project last year.  After putting in about 6-8 months of my spare time into those, I took a break from them, just to take time for clearing other things and to get a gift idea for my niece done.  That's part of the old habits I was talking about, how I tend to drift off into other things than to stay focused on my current task/work.  Youtube clip-watching while working is another one, should stick to more non-lyrical music videos.

Okay, I'm starting to sound unfocused here, partly for extending my bed time and still am working during this pandemic.  But this was a long overdue post that I should've made months ago, a habit that I want to be less tardy about.  So, fairly soon, I post up here what I plan for my future work as an artist. Succeed or fail, I'm going to go for it!  Laters!

Monday, January 7, 2019

My Future Planning for 2019

So it's the new year now.  Much like everybody else, I had thought about what I would like to accomplish for the months ahead.  I'd also thought about how the last year went.  Dad's passing was a huge transitional trigger for both Mom and I. There was a lot of purging that we are still doing between our work shifts. I'm still trying to use up or donate my old materials and clearing off my old project or DIY projects, on a weekly budget basis.  It's getting whittle down to less and less on the back burners but eventually this year, I should get all of it or almost cleared off.  I do have two goals that I would like to get underway among the purging.

The first goal is about my health. After spending about a decade nursing and living around Dad's health problems, I'll definitely want to avoid having my final years in sickness like that. I have some general idea of where to start: 1) work on my dietary intake, control better what foods and their portions that goes in me, 2) have an exercise regimen that's compatible with my job activities and 3) keep up with reading ways of improving myself with my health.

I have had the exercise equipment for doing the work, part of the problem was keeping my bedroom space clear for doing the work. As I'm getting rid of things, I'm also getting what helps to organize my remaining stuff better (under bed containers, vacuum bags, storage totes, etc.). It's getting better for having more space to stretch my limbs or just not knock/whack into anything. When the warmer weather comes back, I can do stationary workouts on the back porch area again. The other part is doing the work around my work schedule. The shifts are random so I could work late at night, then early the next morning on some weeks.  It's also an exhausting job if you don't pace yourself sustainably, like a long 8 or 4 hour rep session; it feels like a long workout sometimes on top of the mental stress from some customers so I might not do any exercising for that day because of work.  During the warmer weather, I would commute to work on my bike but only on half-days, 4-hour shifts because that's all what my body can handle for now.

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My second goal is about my employment.  While my current part-time cashier job is giving me money for savings, essentials and project funding, I've been reading or watching internet videos about how to improve my skills and to make a better living. Things like, Jumpcut, Udemy Courses, whatever allows me a flexible pace with my random work shifts.  I won't make the same mistake again of quitting a job before you have another one to fall back on but I wouldn't want to do the cashier job for the next several decades of my life for all the muscle strains it gives me.

Mainly the one thing I want to do career-wise is get back into freelancing or just sell my artwork again.  Just not like it was with the online freelancing where you seem to get paid in peanuts (less than minimum pay) for work that I could be pay much more for at a 9 to 5 retail job. I would like to be make as equal or more as my art skills are worth (though I'll likely have to brush up on some of them).  My lack of confidence is on the legal/business side of freelancing.  I have some general idea for how a freelancer goes about their job, it's about getting a business number registered, collecting taxes and reporting the income properly among other matters.  The legal requirements are different on geographical areas (Like CRA in Canada and IRS in USA) so I need to learn what those are. My teachers back at OCADU did do their best to explain the whole process but they made a point of researching into the matter itself (rule updates, hands-on experience, etc.); internationally, they don't know how every country's set of rules for having a business are like.  With some dedicated time, I could finally get around to understanding the process in Ontario, Canada.  If I were have to suddenly to get by on my own, I would need to make better income than my current job allows right now.

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Well, those are my thoughts for the future for now.  I'll be posting up any artworks I make as I go though I might not do weekly as I tried in the last few months.  There are some things as I said that I want to clear away for good and that won't always be art-related stuff.  Basically, if I got something art-wise to talk/showcase about, I'll post them up here.  So, for whatever you guys aim to make of your year, I wish for you all the best success for it. Until next update!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Christmas Works

Anyone else getting those winter muscle aches and dozing nods (those in the Northern Hemisphere anyways)?  Been getting those a lot lately so sleeping in or having multiple cups of coffee isn't doing it.  According to health articles online, I need to stay warm with extra layers while drinking lots of fluids/water.  Not overstraining your muscles with workouts too is good but with my current job, that's a might bit difficult.

Well, I've been drawing a bit in-between chores and clearing-off DIYs. One of them being my nightgown project. I wanted to make a complementary gown to go with a pink night coat I had for years; figured it would make for a quick project (like my summer dress project went 😁).

1st and 2nd Concepts

The colour scheme is mostly pink/hot pink with a starred pattern and lace.  So about 6 concepts I drew.  I think I'm liking the 3rd & 5th concepts the most.  I'll draw and cut out pattern pieces for the one I'll go with soon enough.

3rd → 4th ↙ 5th → 6th Concepts
I've also got onto my Christmas Card sketches done.  It was hard for me to think up some diverse ideas. Seemed to be tired each time I've work on it, mostly after work or a lot of chores. Maybe too is that I have a hard time thinking of creative ideas when I'm in a time crunch (Should work on that after the holidays). I kept on wanting to draw minimalistic reindeers so I figured to just do that.

This is the finished look of my Christmas Card.  A little bit simple and it was fun to illustrate it.  I've already sent out several printed cards of it to family and friends (or just anyone that I had mailing addresses from).  This is the most Christmas themed thing I did this holiday; I haven't started decorating the house yet with our tree or other decor.  The Holidays for retailers are very customer heavy and can demand extra work hours from their employees.

It'll definitely feel different here for Christmas this year without Dad.  I remember how he would love to see our Christmas Tree all lit up with decorations in the living room.  The most presents we had on it nowadays was small gift cards and some small parcels.  There isn't much for what Mom and I could do for the holidays.  Maybe we could prepare and eat Christmas Dinner.  Maybe I can persuade Mom to drive out to see some of our relatives (if she can get over her worries with highway driving and we can both get the time off together).

Speaking of the Holidays, this post will be the last one of this year.  I'll be posting again in January when there's more available time for artwork.  I suspect that I'll be called on a lot at my job to fill extra shifts and it'll be takin a lot out of me to do that much bagging work for hundreds of customers.  

So, I hope that everyone does have a great and safe Christmas, New Year's and Happy Holidays. As one year comes to a close to a close, another one gears up for new possibilities and new growth.  I definitely hope to see myself in a better position with my life in the next few months.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

It's the most stressful time of the year...

If you had a job in the service/retail industry, you would know what I mean.  For it being this time of the year that you would expect others (or just the public) to show the better virtues of society like gratitude, charity, consideration and just being respectful towards others, we, the helpers, unfortunately don't get it back as much.  Getting more than usual heavier foot-traffic of people along with the expectation of you being able to keep up the work pace like a machine; you can't expect the public to remember that we're still human beside those actual machines and that they're guests in the stores that have to show good manners just as much.

This is the only issue that I have during the Holidays. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way with holiday crowds. I do love everything else about the Holidays but it isn't easy to endure all the stress and fatigue of running a cash register for hours with near nil assistance and with an endless lineup with heavily packed cartfuls of goods to bag up and hair-triggered egos to deal with. Well, I don't want to rant on and on over it; this is a seasonal trend that'll never change no matter what.


On a more positive note, I've finally got around to purchasing new Adobe Programs.  It isn't the subscription one that the company now does; it's an older copy of their Adobe Master Collection CS6 for the Mac platform, never opened or used.  With my older Adobes being on an even older Windows XP platform that I need Parallels to have access to them, it causes a lot of slowdown time / memory usage on my Mac Mini.  Plus I like to see about getting not only faster performance on my art programs but also more compatibility between them and my Wacom Tablet.  Just hopefully I didn't get scammed on it for the lower price compared to past listings; this was over on eBay with only 3 available at the time. I should expect it in about 2 - 6 weeks approximately.

For a lot of this week, it's been doing several DIYs between work shifts (when I'm not overly exhausted that is). Small odds and ends to help streamlining my chores or clear up more things on my To-Do List.  While I didn't do much artwork, I should have an easier set of shifts this week to invest for this week.  In the meantime, here's a sketch I did while dealing with updates for my tablet. More Christmas-y theme works for next week, hopefully.
Still got Halloween on the brain, apparently.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Drying Pains and Jump Ropes

Sorry for not posting last Sunday. I didn't honestly have much for artwork to discuss or showcase for this week, unless it was on the backlog of projects that I'm trying to clear off.  For last week, I was assembling together a set of beaded jump ropes.  Having saved aside several beads from one of those wooden beaded car seat covers when its' plastic strings broke, I had finally decided on what to use those beads for.

As if counting the number of beads, natural and dark brown, wasn't a pain (there were 1,028 altogether by the way), I also had to drill-funnel each one of them to make their holes consistently the same size. That took a few days, along with a couple of power drill's battery recharges and several breaks for my sore hands (this was a while ago before I was working on the Halloween Decor; OK, ok, last time I'll talk about it until next year or when I make any progress on the scarecrow dolls).  Luckily I didn't need to coat any of them with polyurethane.

As you can see, I needed to keep count aside from memory.

After that prep-work, I've done a bit of division math to figure out a pattern for the beads. A ratio of 1:4 for all the beads and 1:5 for the main body of beads (e.g.-@00000-) excluding the pattern for the end sections. Since I don't know where I could get some cheap plastic cord/string, I decided on using jute crafting rope. The cut ends would be a pain to string all those beads so some clear scotch tape was wrapped around them like aglets, plus it kept them from unravelling. I didn't know how long the rope would need to be for stringing on all the beads; it surprisingly took over 70 feet of rope, providing I had to split up some of twine strands to make the rope fit thru the beads' holes and sewn & weave the connecting ends with sewing machine thread. With both the weight of all the beads and the exceeded length, it was decided to make 2 long jump ropes (both about 25 feet) and 1 single-user jump rope.

The pattern plan for the ends and main sections

Now what was left was the handles.  The best I had around were a couple of green painted natural bamboo poles. Natural bamboo grows like hallow column blocks, plus very resilient against bending/snapping so it was a good choice to use.  I needed to saw 6 pieces (fixed any peel-off splinters with glue later) and drill out the inner knot "walls" to make it possible for the rope to go thru. After doing that was painting polyurethane on them. I had some leftover Minmax Polyshades (Wood Stain + Polyurethane) from a past project with art stand displays, applying it onto the bamboo handles after sanding off the old paint and any other rough spots.
I goofed on one important step with it; even if the polyurethane had dried to the touch, it isn't solidly harden yet and I kept getting fingerprints and rope fibres imprinted on the handles' finish.  Polyurethane, depending on its thickness of the coating, usually takes hours for each coat (this time, about 8 hours) to fully dry and harden with little tackiness. Painstakingly annoying but that's the price for a good quality work. I fixed those goofs by sanding down the first coatings and repainted them, allowing them to fully dry this time.

My drying setup for the bamboo handles
So after the handles have been finished, I've just threaded the rope ends thru them and knotted both ends.  This was one of those projects to use up old materials though I did had to buy the ropes at Dollarama, not much more than $7. I'm thinking on what to do with them now, either gift them to someone or donate them; I already have my own jump ropes. With Christmas coming, that's one opportunity to do that.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Some Future Planning and Seasonal Planning

Hey Everyone! Sorry for the late update; I wasn't back home until this evening and wasn't aware that my images weren't on here. How are you faring for the coming winter?  Toronto had already got its first snowfall for the season. Not much had stayed around for long but it’s only the start of dealing with the snow for the next 5 months.  I’ll least have more chances to sip hot drinks from cafes around now.

I had wanted to get more of my Halloween decor plans done back before the end of October but my time-management to balance prep time with work was fluctuated at least. Plus the scarecrow angel had taken the most time to finish. If given the infinite desired time, I would’ve got these made as well.

Wanting to use my excess pile of fabrics, I had the thought of making other smaller scarecrows. Supposedly a bunch of old fabric scraps including some new materials to expand my seasonal decor.  I might’ve already said this but I would like to create/buy a new decoration piece for each year; just like to upkeep the same love for Halloween as my Dad did. As for these thumbnails, I’ll probably be working on them on & off thru the upcoming year so not to be pressed for time for next Halloween.

So Christmas is coming and I usually do a Christmas Card Illustration to mail out to friends & family.  I’ll be doing that again, along with working on other DIYs.  Eventually when a lot of my DIYs done (about 5 or 6 big ones left) and I've mostly purged out anything else that I don't want to be routinely dealing with, I’m going to have to start planning my career path for freelancing my Illustrator skills soon enough.  I have some general idea of direction but I really need to work out the business half of it, plus can't hurt to build up a buffer of savings should when I choose to go full-time again or stop having my part-time job for any reason.

Well, that's enough for now.  Got to get back to trimming away my perpetual To-Do List.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dental Hassles and Belated Halloween Photos

Sorry for not posting up anything last week; I've gotten a bad problem with my mouth that took over my available time during last weekend that kept me from it (including back to back 8-hour shifts).

It started with just not being able to bite down on one of my molars (bottom-right-middle). I've had that tooth to be a sensitive one for years since I've got it last filled in replacement of an older one. It was so close to the dentin (the soft tissue of the tooth past the enamel, before the nerve roots) that it may have been beyond the nerves to heal.  It got extra sensitive whenever I had ate too much sugar or citrus-acid or bit down on dense foods like a steak but I usually could treat it myself or the dentist would disinfect it for me.

Well, it finally got to where it couldn't just be disinfected anymore; the nerves had rotten out from within the root canals and my gum line swelled up painfully from the infection that it throbbed constantly.  Before knowing that, I was at first seeing if it would pass the sensitivity, by last weekend at least but the throbbing was too much. Had you tried to work on a grocery superstore cash during one of the busiest times of the week, constantly moving your sore mouth for 8 hours? I had to cancel my remaining shifts for the week to see the dentist to confirm my condition and to get a root canal treatment done.  That was how bad it was.

I had an "interesting" side-adventure to that dilemma while waiting for my root canal treatment on Thursday.  On Tuesday morning, I was taking my medication prescribed by the dentist. I'm to take these Amoxicillin pills for the disinfection in my nerves. However, Mom informed me that I had when as a child that I had taken Amoxicillin before to the point of developing an immunity to it.  I was told to also take some painkillers like Advil for the throbbing.  There was another painkiller pill by Life Brand I was taking before, being composed of acetaminophen, caffeine and codeine which was working well despite being a bit old. Well, I took one Amoxicillin pill, one Advil pill and two Life Brand pills all together that morning with water. About half-hour later, I took a big sip of my coffee and a few seconds after, my mouth, throat and part of my chest started to swell up.  It may had been a bad combo of medicine with the coffee drink that triggered it or I had an allergic reaction to it all; Mom helped me to the hospital emergency to help clear out the medicine/swelling from my system. Got strapped with chest sensors while they put some IV and Benadryl in me, monitoring me until I felt back to normal.  It wasn't easy waiting for about 5 to 6 hours on a hospital bed in a bright hallway with only your pants and a hospital gown on, including trying to nap to pass time with hunger cramps.  When I left the hospital, I got a new prescription to take instead. They recommend that I avoid taking Amoxicillin or Codeine for medicine in the future.  The good thing I'll say that happened for it was that it got rid of the painful swelling I had (the abscess bursted out from the gums from the overdose swelling apparently), not that I would try that again.

So, now I have my molar cleaned out and refilled without the rotten nerves and taking the new meds to clear up the remaining infection in my gums. Doing okay with everything this week except for having a lesser paycheque for next payday.

It's late and past the holiday now but better late than never.

So I got the jack o'lantern carved out before the big night. Bought some interesting pumpkin carvings tools that made the work easy. Like cookie-cutting hole punches and mini-carver.

I decided to carve the face similar to my scarecrow angel with a catty look.

And this is how it looked all lit up!

So this is how my Halloween Setup looked like. A bit minimal but I can remedy that in coming years with new decorations.

And despite all the rain, it didn't dampen my scarecrow angel's debut. Got some people commenting  nicely on it.

Well, not much artwork due to my molar but I'm getting back to routine of clearing off extra things.  I'll have to be a penny pincher for a while until I get my dental bill paid.  I should also something better for artwork next week too, as long as I don't get any more sudden health problems popping up.