Trying Tuesday · Uncategorized

Trying Tuesday | Critique Edition 1



I’m going to try something I haven’t done since college; a critique.


In my painting classes, all of the students would gather their current projects together and crowd around them.  One by one, we’d discuss our thoughts on each painting.  At first, it was scary and painful.  Your art is your baby, and putting it on display is like putting your child out there for the world to judge.  Our professor encouraged constructive criticism, happily.  No one was looking at anyone’s painting and calling it crap.  Or you know, not justifying why they didn’t like it.


Taking criticism is an important skill.  Not everyone is good at it, but you can learn to take it.  You just have to be able to discern the difference between people who are being mean for the sake of being mean, people who genuinely want you to improve, and people who are too nice (or just don’t have the eye for it).  I want to get better.  As such, I have to be willing to hear where I can improve (and why I should improve).


I don’t really have anyone right now to give me constructive criticism on a regular basis.  My hands are still catching up with my eyes, so I feel, that at the moment, I can give myself some level of a critique.  I think also that examining what I’ve done is a good chance for me to learn and improve.


I did this portrait fairly quickly, only looking at a reference for the hair (couldn’t think of how to style it).  I really want to be able to do quick portraits.  Right now, I just draw and hope the pieces come together.  I don’t try to draw any specific person, just whatever comes out is good enough.  Drawing people I know can be a little scary.  If they see it and they ask “who is that?” it’s pretty horrifying.


Here’s the portrait:




Positives:  I think I captured an uncomfortable expression, which I’m satisfied with.  I like the depth to the bangs.  I like the outline of the left side of the face.


Negatives:  My line work is clumsy.  Rather than draw a line, I go over it again and again until it looks like what I want.  I do often like that style, but it can go from a cool style to sloppy real fast.  Other than her bangs, the rest of hair is flat and something seems off dimensionally.  If I can put my finger on that, I think I can really work out some kinks in general.  The background doesn’t really give a good enough balance.  There’s too much white space at the bottom.  I don’t mind the texturing, but I think it could have a better structure to it.


Happily accepting constructive criticism.  It’s hard to look at your own work objectively.



Uncategorized · Working Wednesday

Working Wednesday

I have to admit that I’m a little underplanned today.


Working isn’t just me doing art, there’s a different side to it.  A side that terrifies me.  A side that I should be WAY more comfortable with considering my background.  I’m an accounting major.  Do you know what scares me?




Specifically selling my art taxes.  Like, I know when you’re self-employed you pay the full amount for social security and whatever.  Got that.  But what about sales tax?  Also, do I need to be making invoices?  What about contracts?  Oh my gosh, I’m giving myself a panic attack.


It seems like way too much to handle.


But lots of people do it.  Which means I can figure it out.


So now my plan is to slowly study taxes (I mean, come on, I went to school for stuff like this) and to do that thing where by teaching others, you become an expert in something.


What I would love to do if I wasn’t so terrified of talking to people, would be to interview artists who make money from their art and small business owners and just figure out how the heck they do what they do.


But until then, I’ll be studying taxes on the internet.


Also, I happily take advice.



Trying Tuesday · Uncategorized

Trying Tuesday

I’m starting this Trying Tuesday with keyboard problems.  It’s very…trying.


I was struggling to think of what I should try to today.   So I thought big.  Or at least, try something I’ve done small…big.  I have a certain origami pattern memorized.  Mostly because I did it again and again when I was trying to de-stress at work.  I don’t know what the technical name is…but I call it “Big Blow Up Cube.”


Also, I own wrapping paper.  Always prepared, this one.




Obviously, you have to make a square:




And then cut it out:




Now fold it diagonally the other way:




Now fold it hot dog (hamburger? does it matter if it’s a square?) both ways:




Now is probably the hardest (maybe second hardest) bit.  It’s much easier to think through on a smaller piece of paper first and then try to replicate it on the very large piece of paper you’re dealing with.  Kind of grab the sides and squish it in together?  Think of it as a brain teaser.  You can do it.




Pretty tricky.  Now you’ll take the bottom right of the pyramid (Christmas tree?  weird shape?) and fold it so it touches the top corner (where you’d put the star on top of the Christmas tree):




Also, fold the left tip the same way (except it will touch the right tip in the middle making a diamond shape).  Then flip the shape over and do it on the other side:




Once that’s done, you’ll have a nice diamond shape.  Then take the corner on the right and fold it in so it hits the very center of the diamond:




Do that on all sides and you’ll end up with something looking like this:




At the top, there are two corners that are un-attached.  Fold them down to meet the corners of the other flaps:



Do that on both sides.  You’re going to need to tuck them into the flap, which is totally easier if you bend them over the flap first to make a crease:




Do that on all sides and it will look like this (the same as before!  But now with things in pockets!):




Now we do more creasing.  You see those top and bottom diamonds?  We’re going to crease them both directions as firmly as possible (pro-tip use your fingernails or a sharp object):





Here’s the hardest (or second hardest?)  part.  There’s a hole in one end.  When you make tiny ones, you can blow in it and you have a cube!  Ummm, it’s not so easy with giant cube.  Sadly.




So what I ended up doing was pulling carefully at the sides and getting seriously frustrated with the wrapping paper for not being strong enough.  But I got there…eventually:




Here’s what I learned:

  1.  Wrapping paper is not strong.
  2. Making things bigger is hard.
  3. I really like my hands.



Famous Artist Friday · Uncategorized

Favorite Artist Friday

Art Nouveau is one of my favorite art styles.  It just encompasses so many things.  I mean, it wasn’t just paintings.  It was everything.  Furniture, architecture, advertisements.  EVERYTHING made beautiful.  Even hair brushes.



Honestly.  Who makes hair brushes that pretty now?  Maybe it’s a little bourgeois (am I using this word right?).  It’s fairly excessive.  And obviously, I love it.  I want everything to be beautiful.  Why shouldn’t it be?


Common theme, I think nature is beautiful.  Art Nouveau totally borrows from nature, like all over the place.


Alphonse Mucha.  Alphonse Mucha.  I love his stuff so much.  I have seen so many people copy his style.  AND I LOVE THEIR STUFF TOO!!!  It’s just so pretty.  The curves and the color.  I don’t care if it means anything or not.  It’s just beautiful and I like to stare at it.  That can be a thing, right?


I bought this poster at a college poster sale my freshman or sophomore year.  It hung over my bed until I graduated.  I had never heard of Mucha before.  I was immediately in love.





I just found that website while looking for pictures AND APPARENTLY YOU CAN BUY PRINTS OF ALL OF HIS WORK AND I’M CRYING.  Obviously, I know what I’m putting on my Christmas list.






And if I had a library, I’d totally put as much of the Slav Epic throughout the room.



Also, shout out to Wikipedia for making it super easy to reference back to the picture’s source:  HERE!!!


I want to end this on a happy note because I love his art work so much.  But, even though he lived to the ripe old age of 78, people thought his work was outdated.  Also, he died from a lung infection after being interrogated by the Gestapo.


Happy note?  Look at this awesome drawing of his daughter (got a bit of a teenaged glare going there, like “ugh, dad, stop drawing me.”):




Famous Artist Friday · Uncategorized

Famous Artist Friday

Before I start making oohing and ahhing sounds, I’d like to point out that I have no idea what I’m doing.  What’s allowed, what’s not allowed, etc.  I would like to discuss one of my favorite artists.  And show his work.  And discuss him.  I don’t know if this counts as a review, I know with movie reviews or music reviews, you can have a clip and it’s totally ok.  I don’t know about art.  Also, he’s dead…so I’m all kinds of confused.


So, here goes nothing.


Piet Mondrian.  Dutch.  Artist.  Best known for neoplasticism, which to those not in the art community could be put in a large group called “I could do that.”  Basically, white background, throw some stripes on, and fill in some of the newly created blocks with primary colors.  If you’re into art and that kind of thing, it’s a lot of geometry and asymmetry, and oh my gosh, no wonder I love him as I am an accounting/art person.




*I would like to say that I found the above picture at this link and they do a great job of breaking down Mondrian’s artwork in a totally professional way.  Unlike me.  It’s about to get unprofessional up in here.


But honestly, that’s not my favorite stuff by him.


Story time.  I took painting in college.  In fact, I took 4 painting classes because I love painting and hate having extra time.  One of our assignments was to replicate and artist’s work, but it had to be a certain kind of artist.  Or at least, I vaguely remember thinking it had to be a specific kind of artist because I remember being irritated that I would have to paint straights lines or things I wasn’t incredibly fascinated by.  And then I found this book on Mondrian.  It might be the one by David Shapiro that I found on Amazon after a quick look up.  It might not.  But it was a book on Mondrian’s flowers.  I fell in love with them immediately.  I thought they were heart-shatteringly beautiful.  Also, the rebel in me was satisfied that I could fill the project requirements and do WHATEVER I WANTED.  Winning on a technicality.


But here’s why I fell in love with his flowers:  they’re so sad.  They’re so beautiful and they’re so sad.  Here is the closest image I could find to what I fell in love with:


sad chrysanthemum


I wish I had a picture of the painting I did, but I cannot locate it at the moment.  So save those hopes and wishes for another day.  (Oh also, I found this picture through Pinterest and landed on a website with a language I couldn’t read, but just to be safe.)


I love all of his sad chrysanthemums.  Flowers are normally so happy or romantic, but his art so sad.  I mean, when you think of it flowers are kind of sad, you cut them off from what keeps them alive and decorate your house with them until their petals start falling off.  Until they lose their beauty.  I don’t know what his artistic intentions were.  I wish I cared a little more, but I don’t.  I’m just in love with these flowers.  They are beautiful in their moment of darkness and immortalized in paint.


Look how sad this sunflower is!!!!:


sad sunflower


And no, not all of his flowers are sad.  Some are just beautiful.  I think I vaguely recall (sorry for the extreme generalities, memory is flexible and full of errors and I don’t want you thinking that I trust my memory for one second), the author of the book mentioning that Mondrian didn’t particularly like his flowers.  That they didn’t fit in with what he wanted his art to be.  But he couldn’t stop.  And I’m so glad he couldn’t stop.  I love these flowers.  Flowers may be common or basic or something ridiculous like that, but they’re beautiful and I love them.


I mean, just a quick Google search and you can find gorgeous pictures like:


sad chrys pt 2


Also, while looking for all of these pictures, I found this post and while I wasn’t feeling not lazy enough to translate it, I am so happy that someone decided to put so many of his flower paintings in one place.  The internet can be so good sometimes.


Totally related side note, it’s really cool to find out someone you’re a fan of does other stuff.  I mean, Mondrian was famous for neoplasticism or whatever, but I was psyched to find out about the flowers.  BUT DID YOU KNOW!  Billy Dee Williams (my favorite Harvey Dent and the coolest guy in the Star Wars universe) is a painter!!?!?!?!?!


Seriously. Billy Dee Williams is so cool!




PS:  Don’t be mad at me for not knowing what neoplasticism is without looking it up.  I only had one art history class, and it didn’t exactly cover neoplasticism or anything like that…it was pretty neat though.


Thinking Thursday · Uncategorized

Thinking Thursday

Today is Thinking Thursday so I’m going to talk about what’s on my mind today.
I was sitting on meetings today and yesterday, and as refreshing as it is to get away from my terrible desk, I’m not an active participant. I am a doodler. The less informative the meeting, the more advanced the doodles. It keeps me awake (which is more than I can say for everybody else). I was also feeling a little down because I haven’t posted what I would call my “good art.” The stuff of mine I genuinely like. Which, in a way, is more terrifying than posting junk. I know my junk is junk, I don’t care if other people agree with me. But posting my babies out into the world to be judged? That’s scary.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. I set out to draw a real human being the other day, which I posted. The drawings looked like a person, but not the person. I wasn’t using my preferred pencil and I was sketching with a purpose. But dangit, when I sketch with no purpose, mindlessly, I draw things I really like. (For example, the woman in the middle below).
I can do good work (in my opinion, until I learn more and realize it wasn’t as good as I thought) when I work really hard.
So my question for myself is, why do I like my bored sketches and my hard work but not the middle of the road stuff?
And honestly, I think I have an answer. Now that I’ve thought on it. When I work hard, I’m focused, I fix things. When I’m bored, I do a TON of sketches. Obviously, some are bound to be good. Some are bound to be mind-numbingly atrocious. But when I do middle of the road stuff, it’s like doing one semi-focused bored sketch. Which probably only gives me like a 50/50 shot of it being any good.
Such is life.
Money Monday

First Money Monday

People often find it strange that I went to school for art and accounting.  As if someone who likes math can’t be an artist or vice versa.  I don’t necessarily excel at either, but I made good grades and really appreciated both.  Finances are very important to all people.  Oil paint costs money, scanners cost money, Photoshop costs SO much money.  Art is a very expensive hobby sometimes.  I also struggle with anxiety at times, so being prepared has been my best defense against worrying about money.

There was a time when I was afraid to look at my bank account or my loans.  I was too scared to deal with it.  Which only got worse as time went on, obviously.  It’s like filling a bath tub with water and instead of turning the water off when it gets to high, leaving the room and closing the door behind you.  So I looked.  And I planned.  And I figured it out. I still get anxious.  Even my little emergency fund doesn’t totally keep that at bay, but I feel a lot better.

I currently have about $8,500 left on what was originally a $15,000 loan plus a good amount of interest.  My plans, all things remaining the same, will have it paid off in November.  Sometimes it’s a little painful paying out $1,200 a month (WAY above the minimum…I have a friend whose minimum is $1,100, which sounds terrifying).  The thought of having no debt so soon alleviates a lot, but things pop up.  Emergency lights in vehicles informing you to take it in to fix things you don’t understand.  A dog with what seems like a tumor growing in her armpit.  I’m in a better boat than a lot of people, I realize.  I have a decent job, no serious debt outside of student loans, an emergency fund.

So I employee methods to keep my spirits up.  I get a little too excited about payday because I get to whack a chunk out of my debt.  I check to watch the numbers go down.  I play with spreadsheets to predict the exact date of final pay off if I pay $100 extra more here and there.  I keep a piece of paper that I slowly color in to visually depict the debt going away.  I plan what I’ll do with all that extra money when the debt is over (invest! so exciting!).  I think about how much easier (certain) problems will be to take care of when I don’t have to worry about my loans.  One less bill to never ever pay again.  One less thing to think about.  I like that.  I like that a lot.  I am really risk-averse.  I am very cautious.  But I definitely sleep better at night knowing I have a plan (I also have a sleep mask, which helps considerably too).

Kill with color

Still kind of horrified when people talk to me in the check out line though.

Can’t win them all.

Working Wednesday

Farting Around

Is an “About Me” lame?

Whatever.  I don’t care.  I mean, who doesn’t like to talk about themselves?

So, how about I call myself “Smudged” and not my real name because I love anonymity (and also have no idea what I’m doing, so for all my know all of my contact information is easily obtainable…it took me 10 minutes yesterday to figure out what button to press to put a post out into the world).

So here are details of my life that may or may not be obscure enough to figure out who I am.

  1. I have a bachelor’s in accounting and an art minor.
  2. When I was 9 I wrote and illustrated a ridiculous (and realistically terrible) mystery book in which the heroine got caught in a trap that caused her to hang upside down by her toes.
  3. I must have some danged soft skin because I keep getting splinters from my dog’s hair.
  4. I keep an old-fashioned checkbook and enjoy payday (and paying bills) because it gets me one day closer to kicking my stupid student loans to the curb.
  5. I desperately want to learn more about art and get better at it, but I’m also too cheap to pay for lots of classes…so here I am starting a blog in order to keep myself accountable to my art and my finances.
  6. Dangit, I just want to learn how to paint some clouds.
  7. I’ve never broken a bone in my body and have only had one cavity.
  8. I’ve forced myself to like tea without sugar because who needs all that added sugar?
  9. Every time I go for a jog, I think I’m going to get murdered.  The poor ice cream man is totally a suspect.
  10. I have one tattoo.  And if I ever get a following, maybe I’d post a picture and have everyone try to figure it out.  But with reverse image searches on Google…it’s probably too easy.
  11. Eleven is my favorite number ever since I won a bunch of spelling bees in 6th grade.  It’s a long boring story.   That strangely leads to me wearing only the color blue for my entire 8th grade year.

Here are my plans.  I’m laying them out for me because again, I have limited confidence in my ability to communicate with people on the internet outside of my sister and my best friend (who I met in 3rd grade and only had class with for three years).

  1. Blog 5 days a week (is that too much?  Oh gosh, it’s probably too much).
  2. One blog a week about an art project I’m working on (which will keep me accountable to my art…hopefully).
  3. One blog a week about an art thing I’m attempting to learn (attempting being a BIG part of that, sorry for the fails in advance).
  4. One blog a week about financial stuff (which is so interesting to me, plus, you know, might sell my art someday which will take a ton of financial acumen and I’d love to help other people learn from my failure).
  5. One post a week in a series entitles Famous Artist Fridays (thanks to my dear sister for thinking that one up).  I was also thinking I could switch it up to be FANTASTIC or FAVORITE because sometimes I like people who aren’t famous.  Or are, and I just don’t know they are…etc.  Can I just say that I don’t know a lot?  I mean, duh.

I’m going to go now and pat myself on the back for completing DAY 2.  Even though I haven’t done any of the above things?  Maybe I can have a general farting around day.


PS:  Notes on the picture.  That is not my typical style.  I have no idea why my body is shaped like a bean (except…well if you’re propelled by farts, being a bean makes sense).  You can still see my half-erased pencil lines.  I drew this in 5 seconds.  I acknowledge it’s awfulness but still think it’s fun.