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.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Computer Problems, Marathon Runners and More Halloween Decor

Oye! I'm having a hard time with my computer lately! My Photoshop CS2 via Parallels/Windows XP is slow as molasses (I say that instead of a turtle because I remember how surprisedly fast my late pet turtle Zack was when he wanted to be) and it was just making a simple sketch cleanup look like a hi-res filter application that take an hour at least to apply.

It may be high time that I start replacing or upgrading my computer studio equipment; though a gift from my brother, this 2012 Mac Mini is getting slower each year and these years old art programs aren't keeping up with the latest technology much now. I started looking into what to buy/get though the funding may take a while to get saved up. Cheap alternatives in the meantime?

And that's my personal rant of the week, now onto my work for this past week.

For sketches, I happen to been just getting off from work when the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon was going by my workplace (Lake Shore & Leslie).

After grabbing a hot latte to drink, I sat on to watch all the runners going by and thought to sketch them while I could. It definitely a challenge to capture the runners' likeness within a minute before they completely out of view.

What I like drawing them the most was getting each runner's movement down on paper. By confession, I did winged some details by guesswork and memory.

I don't usually sketch real people too often; usually it's my made-up characters. This was one of those rare times that you could sketch a stranger without that person feeling uncomfortable of being stared at while being drawn.

Next is my Halloween Decor progress. I got my Scarecrow Angel all done! I chose to add a plaid cloth (originally dish cloths newly bought) with a couple of old throw pillow cases with the indian ink-dyed burlap dress and sew them together as such in the pictures.

A shawl was added as well including a handkerchief to cover the bamboo neck.

The wings were a hassle to not only clip onto her dress but to also to position accurately parallel to the bamboo shaft as well. I managed to get done though.

Getting her hands back onto the sleeves took some hand cross-stitching. 

After putting her old straw stuffing for her arms back in, I've hot-glued more faux leaves to give the look being "stuffed" with more of those leaves like I did for her head and hat.

Lastly, I've also hot-glued some shimmering maple leaf confetti onto her shawl and sleeve ends. To include a reflective element into her dress as I did for her wings and head.

Overall, I'm happy with how she turned out.  Before, she looked like a generic store-bought or a plain homemade craft. Now she looks like she's ready for a party.

The only other decor I made was decorating this store-bought black cat wreath. Originally a black tube-cleaner wrapped around a plastic frame with plastic yellow eyes and whiskers, I took some glitter berries, faux leaves and maple leaf confetti and hot-glued them onto it as such.  So now I have a Halloween Wreath that should grab attention from nearby treat 'n' treaters.

So that's all I got here for now.  This week, I have a pumpkin to carve into a jack o' lantern and may have some more sketches to show later on. Till next week then.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Fall Market, Inktober sketch and Halloween Decor

For this week's showcase of creativity, I did two sketches and work on a seasonal project that I wanted to be done before Halloween.

Leslieville's Flea Market, Simple Pantry
Due to using every day off that I could on clearing off backlogs of projects, I didn't go out much for day trips to outdoor events, let alone do urban sketching. I kept wanting to see this flea market that's in my workplace's neighbourhood, Leslieville, Toronto all summer so I made the effort to see its' last outdoor date for the year.  There weren't too much there, understandably due to the cooler temperature but it was a nice sunny day. There was one stand I really liked so I did my sketch on it.  I even bought one of the vendor's goods.
Inktober Sketch, Day 11 - Prompt: Cruel
I love the idea of inktober, getting to do small improv ink sketches or grander ones depending your time and creativity.  For taking a breather from house chores, I decided to do at least one ink sketch and that day's prompt was "CRUEL".  My main thought for that word while checking emails were seeing's petition updates on Tyson's cruelty to their chicken breeding.  So seeing a flock of chicken stuffed into a small cage was the sketch I went with (an earlier idea was having a pig stuffed into a rectangle cage that it was bulging thru the gaps).  There's unfortunately a lot of big name companies or farming practices that treats the animals that we'll be eating eventually more like commodities rather the living creatures that they are and it keeps happening often away from the majority of public awareness.  

Finally is my main focus for the week: my old Scarecrow Angel.  Unfortunately, I didn't think to take any "Before" photos of how it looked like before but it was long overdue for a makeover.  I think I first got it when someone was giving it away (maybe back when I was in the Girl Guides) and had used it for Halloween Decor since.  Rain damage and Ink dye run-off plus a bit on the plain side, I wanted to revitalize it for this Halloween. Starting with the head, lifting and tightening her burlap face (giving her literally a facelift 😉) I've hot-glued the burlap in place then repainted her eyes, nose and mouth in acrylic paints, adding some more head bangs with her straw hat.  Her hat was a bit plain so I've decorated it with raffia strands, dollar store decorations like faux leaves, styrofoam glitter berries with twigs and for the heck of it, a small styrofoam lacquer pumpkin. 

Another feature for me to fix was her torso/bust.  It used to have a plastic bag stuffed with newspaper that got thrown out.  For a replacement, I took an old throw pillow that no one really uses and with thick thread, cross-stitched it around the scarecrow angel's pole and shoulder dowling.  Much more permanent than the cheaper materials used before.

I've made more progress than this on it last week but I'll save that progress report for next week.  I have an early morning work shift next and I'm pushing it as it is with getting enough sleep tonight.  Post to ya then.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Pixel Icons for Desktop Organization.

Hey everyone!  So whenever it is possible, I'll like to post up weekly updates of anything artistic I've done.  Could be a bunch of random stuff or more professional works; in any case, it'll be about restarting my routine of reaching out with my artworks.
Last week while I was organizing my desktop files/folders, I learned that you can customize my icon images, by opening the 'Get Info' window, then selecting the icon image and pasting a new image for the icon. Maybe you can overlay a new image that better associate with the file/folder's content than the generic default icon image. So I ended up spending my whole day off doing pixel icon images to better identify my files/folders by sight.

 Some of them you may see being more blocky than others. I was experimenting with different format sizes (32, 64, 128 Px2). Strangely, when I go to apply (copy & paste) pixel icons in 64 pixels for the new icon image, the image turns blurry. If anyone knows why, could you comment about it?

All of these are enlarged to 512 pixels from their original formats. I've decided to do pixel works because it would be the easiest way to change the icon images. 

Some of them for routine things like my finances, work and some are for ongoing projects. I did them all in my Photoshop CS2 program (I've been meaning to get an upgrade soon for it).

I'll likely make more of these as I need them or I make stock art from them. Though there's probably lots of people who can do this themselves. Still, it's a possible venue to get my artwork out to others.

So, that's it for now.  If I make anything art-wise this current week, I'll post it up.  See you then.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Half-Yearly Update, Hi Again Everyone!

Hey Everyone, It’s been a good while, like 6 months ago.  There’s been a few big changes going on in my life since I’ve posted in April last. First of all, I’m emotionally okay; just been keeping busy with housework and figuring out what to do with my life here on out.

Aside from getting used to not having Dad around the house anymore, we’ve been clearing out some old junk that really don’t mean anything important to us or that we have no real use for.  For my mom, we got a renovation going for our living and dining rooms’ area and that involved moving a lot of old things out of the way. The house was originally built around the 1920s with signs of poorly done DIYs, so a lot of old plastered walls, flooring and wiring to replace/upgrade. Even got my windows replaced to stop leakage above the front 1st floor of the house.

For myself, I’ve been gradually purging away some of my old things or upcycling my years’ of accumulated materials (e.g. fabric, old clothes, crafting items) into new things for a few hours per week.  So far , I've made or tailored a few clothes, a new wallet, repaired a few decorative items to give away, growing transplanted off-shoots from my houseplants to give away too. There’s also buying some new materials to improve or fix what I have at home like my papasian chair’s cushion. It would be faster to just dump it all into the waste bins or donate it all away but I guess I’m too eco-conscious to let materials that are still in decent condition to waste away in a landfill. Plus before my new cashier job, I gotten into the habit of scrounging around for free/discarded things to look reusable again after a little mending. I want to get back to my artwork soon, as soon as I can get over half of the purging of old stuff and these back-burners projects out of the way.

If I have to start anywhere for resuming my artwork, learning better the business side of freelancing would be a good place. Taxes, legal paperwork and simply network/market in different selling venues had never been my strongest area of skills so I want to improve on that.  I also want to get a better handle of my health and diet as I’m getting older and need to have a healthier body soon. For now I’ve made a new routine schedule that’s going to help improve my progress and get things done quicker than in the past few months, hopefully.

Yeah, so lots of clearing out to do as well as planning for the future. At best, I’ll hopefully get many things done due by Christmas or the Holidays (that my PT job will allow). Just got to keep putting in the time for them, one footstep at a time. Maybe for now, I'll work to put any sketches that I can on my spare time.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Family Loss

Hi everyone, sorry for yet another long break from posting. It's been a month of anxiety and last week had been very emotional. There's been some real-life emergency happening with my family of late, keeping well-occupied from doing any artwork or even from my part-time job.

Just before midnight on Wednesday night, my Dad, Kenneth A.J. McMillen, had passed on while in Palliative Care at Scarborough General Hospital. For the last 10 years, he had chronic kidney disease along with his earlier type 2 diabetes to be treated with hemodialysis, insulin, etc. He'd been in the hospital for a month with showing no sign of improving and finally after suffering a stroke a week prior that basically "killed" his brain, my Mom had to make the hard decision of stopping his treatments and allow him to naturally pass on comfortably. He was 63 years and a half old. My older brother along with other relatives were able to come in to see him one last time (or several) before then.

Dad was a stubborn but loving man for most of his lifetime.  He worked for the Toronto Transit Commission for many years as a vehicle driver, a fare collector and distributor. He grew up to take care of his mother, younger brothers and sisters when his own father passed on from a heart condition and for better or for worse, worked hard and long overtime shifts to support me and my older brother Jason.  He even helped paid my educations at The Art School (Central Tech High School) and at Ontario College of Art and Design (now OCADU) and helped for my late rabbit's medical fees.

In a lot of ways, I do resemble my Dad. His eyes, his temper (when actually provoked), his sense of preparation, planning and work ethics. There were some things with him that he could've tried to help himself with while there was still time but it just wasn't in him strongly enough to make those changes to hopefully improve his life.  With whatever he had left behind now, I have to learn from both his good and bad examples what to be doing more or less of, to help myself to hopefully avoid going out the same way as he did.

For now, it's a big transitional time: Dad's funeral service this Thursday, clearing out some things from the house, fixing things up with the warm weather coming back, figuring out what Mom and I are going to do without him. Don't worry; Dad left behind some coverage for us and we both got our jobs and each other. As I said before, I do want to get back into my artwork soon. Well, I'll have more time for it now.  So, thanks for reading all of this if you got this far. Maybe in another month, I'll have some content to showcase but family matters takes first-priority right now.  See you again fairly soon.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Winter's Commuters

It certainly had been a while since I've last posted up anything new.  After the holidays (Late December), you would've figured that there would be less hours to fill at a retail store; not for groceries anyways.  Not to sound unappreciated of getting the extra hours still, but it takes you away from many other things going on in your life if overdone. In my case, it's my artwork and online schooling, among household obligations.  

Despite having slim spare time for it, I'm making efforts to keep steady progress on my artwork.  From my most recent TOUSK meet up on Toronto's TTC subway lines, I've started to make ink drawings of people's portraits.  It was easier to sketch the heads than trying to capture the whole bodies, not knowing when fellow passengers will up and go.  I've actually liked how I was capturing interesting head portraits with their winter gear, kind of like they're all dressed up.  Yeah, not really for everyday things but it helps accentuate their appearances, meaning that they look more interesting.

So, aside from that, I'm just trying to keep up with everything (using my timer, set limits on a chore/project per day, etc.) and keeping myself sane yet productive.  Hoping for an early spring with each winter thawing we get (I miss riding my bicycle)!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Happy Holidays and Raving' Retailers

Finally with some money coming in, I'm taking time to go to any events that catches my interests.  The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto during early November had always been a favourite due to the animals.  If people aren't a challenge to draw as it is, animals are fairly similar.  At least they don't get touchy about being drawn, just some about being petted.

Wanting to finally see it in person for myself, I went to see this year's, Toronto's Santa Claus Parade. It was a bit chilly (luckily I thought of packing a wool blanket & hot coffee in a thermos) so I tried my best to sketch in the cold. I've ended up taking a few photos and videos.  

Two more sketches from my last TOUSK group meet up at the CF Eaton Centre. Not too many showed up due to large holiday shopping.

 And this last one on my own time (just before my extra shift at work)

The holidays I have to say are definitely keeping me busy, between extra work hours, winter house chores and personal side projects. I'm doing my best to keep it all balanced though I do admit, I have to put some things off at home for a couple of days at least. Frankly, our Christmas Tree isn't even put up yet. So hopefully after the holidays like New Year's Day, there'll be more time at home to get creative again.