Hello, Autumn

I can’t believe it’s been nearly two months since my last post. I think about writing one from time to time, and then I forget. And then another week passes. And then another. It doesn’t help that, as far as illustration work goes, I haven’t been up to too much. Not that people aren’t asking me to draw them things. I’ve just been procrastinating real hard. Thankfully, most days, I’m actually busy- between my “real” job (the one that pays the bills), writing long overdue letters to many far-away friends, reading books that have sat on my shelves for years, trying my best to make friends/a life for myself here in Columbus, and working on a few secret projects. Hopefully, soon, I’ll have more to share about those things. In the meantime, here’s some work I’ve done in the past two months and haven’t yet shared here.

First up, a portrait of Tami Taylor (from the show “Friday Night Lights”), done as a present from Jen to Heather. I believe Heather also, by chance, received a “What Would Tami Taylor Do?” t-shirt from a different friend the same week!

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Next, an illustration for Synthia of the zine “Damaged Mentality.” This took me much longer than it should have, but it was a learning experience, as I generally draw people as opposed to objects. Thank you, Synthia, for presenting this challenge to me! Can’t wait to see it in the zine:

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Last month, I drew many many more objects for Mend My Dress Press. Colleen asked me to draw an assortment of office/craft supplies- typewriters, scissors, glue, pens, markers, etc.- to be used as a background image for their online store. These were my initial drawings, plus I redrew a few items later on (as you’ll see in the third image). I was so very happy with how these turned out, particularly the typewriters, which took so much more work than I thought they would:

colleenINKED1 colleenINKED2 colleenREDOColleen then chose a few to make into their web store’s background image (which you can view here), as well as colored five of them and turned them into a button pack, which you can buy through the shop!

toppersminilovebuttonstaplebutton Last, but never ever least, I did a portrait for one of my favorite folks in the world and my Dearest zinester sibling, Maranda! We decided to do a trade for their first novel, “Ragdoll House” (which is, of course, fantastic and I urge you all to get a copy!) It took me a few tries to get this the way I wanted. Below, you’ll see the initial sketch, followed by a watercolor version, and then the finished portrait, which I made with my trusty Prismacolor markers. One day, I’ll get the hang of you, watercolors. One day.

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The final portrait was recently used on Maranda’s blog, on a post titled “Writing = Working / A Discussion of Support & $upport.” Compensation for art (whether it be illustrations, writing, music or otherwise) is certainly something I have thought a lot about, especially since making the initial decision to charge for my artwork. Maranda has some good points to make on the subject, so I suggest you go read their post.

That’s all for now, folks! I’ll hopefully have more things to share soon.

The Past Month

Exactly one month has passed since I last updated this blog. Certainly more time than I’d hoped would go by between two posts, but these things happen. July has been a trying and busy time in my life. While I haven’t been working on illustrations as much, I have been spending quite a bit of time writing and traveling.

The second weekend of July, I got to co-facilitate two zine workshops at the Athens Rock Camp for Grrrls with my friend TJ of “Blackout.” I’ve always wanted to volunteer at a rock camp, so when TJ invited me to take part, I jumped at the opportunity. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked with kids so that part was a little nerve wracking. I often times felt like I had no idea how to respond to things they’d say. Regardless, they were all amazing and the showcase on Saturday night after our workshops was a blast! I truly admire the kids who chose to try out drums, knowing that they picked all of that up in just a week’s time.

The following weekend, I attended the third annual DC Zine Fest. Getting there was quite the horror story (no) thanks to Greyhound, who overbooked several busses so that my arrival in Pittsburgh was delayed by five hours, which led to missing my Megabus to DC. I had to purchase another Greyhound ticket in order to make it to the fest. I was given a $50 voucher to use towards said ticket, but still, Greyhound will be getting a very stern letter from me in the near future (and I hope I’ll be getting a refund for both of my tickets in return!)

Since my original arrival time in DC was set for 1 PM the day before the fest, I had planned on laying out the latest issue of “Motor City Kitty” once there, then copying, collating and stapling zines that night. I didn’t get in until 7 PM, however, and didn’t make it to the house I was staying until almost 8 PM, right when the nearest copy shop closed. I managed to layout MCK #22 while on the bus. I’m sure you can imagine the strange looks I got from my fellow passengers when I whipped out a tape dispenser and a pair of scissors from my purse! Then I awoke very early the morning of the fest to copy zines. I discovered the magic that is having a copy shop cut large stacks of paper for you, rather than sitting there for an hour or two doing it myself. I will gladly pay $2 to have someone else do that from now on.

I arrived a few minutes late for the fest, set up my table as quickly as possible then spent the first hour or so collating and stapling zines. The day flew by after that. I only walked around to a few tables at the end of the day, but got to catch up with some faraway friends and make a few new ones, which was really my main reason for going to the fest. Isn’t that the main reason of going to any zine fest?

dczinebabes(Maranda, Rachel and I posing for a zinester babes shot at the fest. Photo courtest of Rachel.)

mck22cvr(Issue #22 of MCK, finished just in time for the fest! Check the zine page for more info.)

Afterwards, Maranda, their partner, Cal, and I dropped off our bags, then took a break in the air conditioned living room at our hosts Ryan and Kevin’s place. Once well rested and cooled down, we grabbed dinner at Everlasting Life- an amazing vegan/raw/organic soul food restaurant- and walked around the monuments at night. On our way, we spotted an ice cream truck and, of course, had to stop. Lying beneath the Washington Monument, eating a strawberry popsicle and looking at the stars was one of the best feelings ever.

wcbzru(Low quality cellphone snapshot of the under-construction Washington Monument.)

t3zsqo(Showing my Ohio pride at the WWII Memorial, wearing the My Chem t-shirt Amy gifted me!)

After DC, I headed straight to Cleveland to retrieve some items from a storage locker- where the majority of my belongings have been this entire year- then moved into a new house with a few friends the next day. I am now writing from my lovely, half-unpacked mint green bedroom. I haven’t had a room of my own since I left Cleveland in January, and let me tell you, it feels great! Also, I’ve got a job again, and some exciting projects on the horizon (though they’re top secret for now). Things are still a little rough, but I’m hoping to make the best out of the next year that I’ve chosen to spend here in Columbus.

That’s all for now. I’ll save the few commissioned pieces of art I did in July for another post, another day. But soon, my friend! I promise.

Life Updates and Pet Portraits

It’s been much longer since my last post than I would like, but unfortunately, June has been a rough time for yours truly. On top of my usual struggles with “untreated” mental illness– as in, I don’t see a therapist or take any medication– I’ve been unemployed and crashing with folks since January. My partner and I also split up at the start of the month, and I have no option but to continue living with him until August (thankfully, most days, things are pretty okay in regards to this, but it’s still made much of this month not so great). Lastly, I was having some issues with my hands shaking, which made drawing quite difficult. This seems to have just been from over consumption of caffeine, and I’m hoping I can get back to work soon as I have cut back on the coffee!

I managed to draw quick pencil sketch comics every day until the 18th, as part of my June Diary Comic Challenge. I’m disappointed, as I really thought this was going to be the month I’d finally achieve this, but I’m trying to not beat myself up over it. I’ve got enough things to worry about without feeling bad about something that is supposed to be fun! Perhaps I’ll try again in July. Or August.

Thankfully, things aren’t an entire bummer all the time. I recently got hired by a local business that I really love and start training on Monday. I’ve found several housing options for August, and believe I’ve made a decision on the best option for me. I’ve been playing music once or twice a week with some friends. And, maybe most importantly, I’ve been going to meetings for a local Radical Mental Health Collective, which is based on The Icarus Project. The other people involved in this have been real life savers. Just as I was starting to feel like I had zero support in this city, I stumbled into this amazing group of people who understand the things I struggle with and make me feel less alone. Having meetings to look forward to once a week is such a good feeling.

Besides playing catchup, I also wanted to share some pet portraits I completed last month yet hadn’t posted. The first was a portrait of two black and white kitties named Harry and Marla. This was the initial sketch, which I still think looks pretty cool on its own:

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Molly, who commissioned this portrait, had me add in a braided rope frame, as I sent her a photo of the piece I was working on at the same time for Grace and suggested it as a way to make this portrait a little more interesting. Molly chose the colors dark green and gold. Admittedly, these wouldn’t have been my personal choice for colors, but I think it turned out well. Molly seems very happy with the final product, which is definitely what matters most!

mollyfinishedI also did a portrait of a thirteen year old pitbull named Daisy J. Dog. She can be found on both Twitter and Tumblr! The portrait was commissioned by Daisy’s mom, Nina, as a birthday present to Daisy’s dad/Nina’s husband, Will. I’ve been waiting to post this one, as I wanted to be sure it had been gifted to Will first!

My initial sketch was a full body shot of Daisy, with just a banner:

daisySKETCH(Graph paper makes sizing and centering things so easy. Is this what they teach you at art school?)

However, Nina preferred that the drawing be just a head with a curved banner, and since I was already doing two other pet portraits with braided rope frames, I figured why not a third? Nina was a fan of my “Everything is Awesome!” pug portrait, and asked that Daisy be similarly drawn in just black and white. Daisy’s fur is white and light tan, though, and I was concerned that too many lines in black ink would make her fur look too dark, so we agreed on using some light greys to represent the tan:

daisybandwSince I am still new to using color in my illustrations, I always get a little hesitant to do so. I was happy with this as it was and worried I’d ruin it by adding color, but I also knew that the right colors would really make it pop. After sending Nina some samples of the different options from her chosen color palette I had available in my collection of Prismacolor markers, I set to work. Sure enough, the final product turned out bright and beautiful!

daisyfinishedIt may be my favorite thing I’ve drawn to date. And what did the birthday boy think? “He LOVED it. LOVED LOVED LOVED,” Nina told me recently in an email. So happy she chose me to create this gift! Plus, getting to look at all kinds of adorable photos of Daisy was quite the treat on my end! I mean, just look at her in this orange hoodie. What a cutie!

IMAG0118(Photo courtesy of Daisy’s Tumblr)

I’ve still got lots of other commissioned work to do. Hopefully now that my shakey hands have seemed to calm, I can finish the few projects I’ve started and share them with you all soon. Please don’t let that deter you if you’d like a pet portrait of your own, or some other type of illustration. I’m capable of working, it just may take a little time. Feel free to fill out the form on my Commissions page if you’re interested!

June Daily Comic Challenge Update

I’m almost a week into my June Daily Comic Challenge and I haven’t completed much. Something unfortunate happened June 1st, after I’d already posted about the challenge, and it threw me off my game. Still, I’ve been trying to at least get the basic ideas for each day down regardless:

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These are obviously very messy, but I kind of enjoy that about them. I might possibly just continue making them like this for the rest of the month, and then work on redrawing them larger and neater throughout July.

Besides working on these and several commissioned pieces, I practiced drawing my own hands the other day:

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I know these aren’t super fun, exciting things to share, but I wanted to post something. Something to remind myself that I’m still creating. That there’s still some drive in me somewhere, even when I’m feeling completely devastated and like there’s just no hope. That I can still Know Hope (as my pal, Maranda, might say).

Besides working on art, I’ve been drawing a tarot card after I wake up each day. I shuffle the deck as much as I see fit, asking it to help guide me through my day, then hold the deck in my right palm with my left hand placed over it and ask it once more. I set the deck down, cut it in half to the left, place the right half on top of the left, and pick the entire deck back up in my right hand. I turn the first card over with my left hand, like the page of a book, and that is my card for the day.

I started learning to read tarot cards when I was thirteen or so (you better believe I was a teenage witch!). However, I never memorized all of the cards’ meanings, so I’ve been referring to this page, which also refreshed my memory on how to do a reading. I’m sure plenty of people find it silly to put your faith into a randomly drawn card with a preassigned meaning, but it’s helping me survive right now. If that’s what it takes, then so mote it be!

Hello, June!

ImageI decided recently that I would like to try a drawing challenge. I need something to keep me drawing daily, as that is definitely not something I do (though I’ve been drawing much more than usual thanks to all of the lovely folks who are paying me or trading me for my art!) and I want more things to post about on this blog.

I looked around for some 30 day drawing challenges on Tumblr and Deviant Art, but none of them really interested me. Literally almost every challenge I found consisted of the same things: Draw yourself! Draw your favorite character from a book! Draw your best friend! None of them seemed like much of an actual challenge to me/the daily tasks bored me. This one was tempting, and maybe I’ll do it one day even though it’s meant as a photography challenge. I think mostly I’d like to draw the contents of our fridge:

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But alas, I felt the biggest challenge I could take on would be the one I’ve tried and failed at so many times before: DIARY COMICS. And then to post about it on my new blog so that I can feel guilty if I find myself slipping up because the readers! They are few (and I love them) and they are waiting!

Oh, and I decided that I didn’t want to draw them in either of the styles I’ve drawn comics in before. So, that should be fun and all the more challenging! I’m sure there will be a lot of experimentation over the next month, finding what works best for me and doesn’t just feel like a copy of other peoples’ work, since my initial idea is indeed heavily inspired by other comics I’ve seen.

I won’t be posting a comic every day, as that would mean seeing comics to completion every. single. day., and I know myself well enough to know that won’t happen. Plus, as I learned in a diary comics workshop led by Sofie Yanow last June, it’s better to just try to get the general idea down each day, to figure out what message you want to convey and plot out how you want to frame things. Then you can go back when you have the free time to add detail, ink things in, color the page and so forth. This bit of advice seriously demystified the practice of diary comics for me. I’d never understood how people could keep up with them, because I thought they were drawing complete pages every day! (You sneaky comic artists, you!)

You can, however, expect updates on my process, sketches and a few completed comics. After all, I did say one of the reasons I wanted to do this challenge was to have material to post on this blog. I’m also taking on a few other daily/weekly challenges, but I’ll save talking about those for the comics themselves.

Coincidentally, June marks the fourth annual 30 Days of Creativity- an annual event in which people all over the world dedicate the month of June to all sorts of creative projects. What will you be doing this month? Are you taking on the 30 Days of Creativity challenge? I’d love to hear about your projects, too!

My First Piece of Commissioned Artwork, Part Two

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Just wanted to share this photo with you all of my first commissioned piece of artwork, now on display in Grace’s home in this lovely yellow frame. I want one for myself! Don’t you?

I’ve finished three portraits in total now- all involving pets! One is a surprise gift, so I have to wait to show it to you all, but it may be one of my favorite things I’ve drawn yet. I hope the recipient of it loves it as much as I do!

Last night I started work on my fourth commissioned piece and learned very quickly that I draw people and animals much better than I draw things (especially if that thing involves certain lines/perspectives that I don’t know much about because I never took any kind of art class), but I think it will still turn out well. I’ve got a good handful of projects lined up right now and I’m excited about it all. The support I’ve been receiving from both friends and strangers is overwhelmingly awesome. Thank you all, and keep it comin’!

I also recently spent an entire day scanning artwork, editing photos of older artwork that I don’t have with me here in Columbus to scan, and posting it all to my new online portfolio. It’s all organized by year, which made me realize how little I did art-wise in 2011, the year after I graduated college. (That also happens to be the year I discovered Tumblr. Suspicious.) There’s some things I’ve never posted online before, including pages of my zine, Motor City Kitty. Please check it out and follow along if you like what you see. I’ll be posting new works over there as I complete them- but don’t worry, you can still see new things here, too.

My First Piece of Commissioned Artwork

At the beginning of the month, I made a post on my Tumblr asking folks to buy my zines, buy prints of my existing artwork, and/or to pay me to draw them something. I’ve been unemployed since January. In that time I’ve been going on lots of adventures, including my first ever zine tour (which you can read about in Motor City Kitty #21), attending the fourth annual Chicago Zine Fest, and moving around from Cleveland to MontrĂ©al to Columbus. I am forever grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to do these things. Now that I’ve been in Columbus for a few months, I’m seeking part time work, but haven’t had much luck.

Alas, I’ve been left to try and figure out how to make some cash in the meantime, so that I don’t completely deplete the small amount of savings I have left. Begging for money on the internet felt pretty weird, but I tried my best to offer something in return, even for those who might donate money as opposed to buying something. Not too surprisingly, no one has sent me random cash (yet!), but several people did take me up on the offer to draw them an original piece of art.

The first person to contact me was my friend Grace- a fellow Ohioan and feminist whom I met at the first annual Chicago Zine Fest. The only times Grace and I have ever been able to hang out together has been at fests like CZF and Ohio’s own Berea Fest (R.I.P.), but we’ve had some great conversations and fun times together.

I was beyond stoked when she contacted me about drawing a cartoon-ish portrait of her and her dog, Harmony. After she sent me a few photos for visual reference, as well as a description of what she’d like done, I got to work:

graceSKETCHThis was my intial sketch for Grace. I wasn’t quite sure just yet how I wanted to frame her and Harmony (if it all), so I sent her this cell phone snap shot of a few ideas I had to see what she liked. She picked the heart. I’ve been pretty into braided rope frames ever since I got this beautiful tattoo from Alana Robbie, which she based on a design I sent her:

columbiatattoo(My Angelique Houtkamp inspired drawing on the left. Alana’s reinterpretation on the right.)

Next, I transferred and inked the illustration on a heavier cardstock paper via my DIY lightbox, which I’ll make a post about in the future:

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Then, after one last check in with Grace, I hand colored the drawing with Prismacolor markers. I have a large collection of these markers now, thanks to my friend, Kevin, who draws amazing comics that I urge you to check out! This was the final product:

ImageMy scanner isn’t of the highest quality, so the green looks a bit more yellow and the blue a bit more aquamarine than in real life, but you get the idea. I am very happy with how this turned out, and Grace seemed to be as well. I hope she’ll send me a photo once she has it hanging or framed in her home.

If you like what you see, I am still doing commissioned work for a very low price. Feel free to fill out this form and perhaps we can work together to create something unique!

That Daunting Introductory Post

A large part of creative blocks for me is feeling the urge to be amazing from the get go. I own a backup supply of sketchbooks and notebooks because I am constantly buying new ones, thinking, “This will be the one. If someone were to open this to the first page, they would instantly be amazed.” Even my journals need to start off with perfect handwriting and something interesting to say. I pick up my guitar and put it down within minutes because I couldn’t find the right chord progression immediately.

We all know that isn’t how it works. Honing your craft takes time and practice, and that isn’t going to happen if you don’t just do it. Write. Draw. Pick up your guitar. Write that first blog post.

This is not my first try at creating a blog. I had three separate endeavors over on Blogger, all of which I would write a ton of content for within the first week, then I’d forget to post again until months later. Then I’d post a lot for week. Then forget for another few months. It was an awful blogging cycle. I tried to have a blog for my poetry (when I still wrote poetry), a blog about my cheap foodie adventures, and a fashion blog. I tried to combine all three. Needless to say, nothing stuck.

I set this new blog up a few weeks ago and have been postponing the first post because I don’t want to mess up again. I’ve been postponing the first post because I want it to be perfect. But, ya know, just like with my art, my journals and my song writing, a blog isn’t going to be The Best Blog Ever right away. Figuring out the things I want to say and how I want to share them will take time and practice. And that’s okay!

I am telling you this, dear reader, in hopes of holding myself accountable. I’d really like to have a successful blog- meaning one I manage to update on the regular and don’t forget about, not necessarily one that’s read by millions of people. I’ll be happy if I get 10 followers! (Though of course I hope for more.)

So, hello! My name is Brianna Dearest. You can read more about me here. I’m currently making a “living” by selling my art and zines. I needed a space that could work as an online portfolio for those things until I can afford my own Real Website Dot Com, and WordPress seemed like a great option. For awhile, I plan on just sharing my art- things I’ve drawn both for money and for fun- but eventually I hope to expand my posts to include things like fashion, music, recipes and other stuff I think is cool/important.

Thanks for stopping by and check back soon for actual posts containing artwork! In the meantime, feel free to browse my zines, or contact me about a commissioned piece of art.