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Inputs and Inspiration :: September

APPS

I probably spend too much time messing with photos on my phone. I consider it my "game." I don't play Two Dots or Angry Birds or whatever; I play pictures. So today I'm going to share two of my newest apps that take my still photos and make them move.

Burstio :: Have you ever captured a funny moment or bit of movement with your camera's burst mode? But then what? This app lets you make those bursts into little videos or gifs and gives you a few options on speed, and format. The catch is it only recognizes the camera's bursts. Thus the need for the next app on the list.

Gif Maker :: This app lets you make gifs out of video clips or any series of photos on your phone. It only makes gifs and has some other limitations but it's free and fun, and let's you run your photos through any editing or filtering apps first before you create the moving file. I'm having fun making some happy baby gifs! *Now that I am looking for links I see there might be better options.

BOOKS

The Three Little Pugs :: There was good news on Facebook yesterday! Fellow pug mom and illustrator, Nina Victor Crittenden, announced that she is coming out with a new book. It is her debut as an author/illustrator and the book stars pugs! Me and Luna are excited.

A Child of Books :: I also saw that Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston collaborated on a picture book, you can see the book trailer here. Looks purdy.

INSTAGRAM

Lucy Knisley :: Lucy is a new mom too, just a month behind me and my baby bean. Suggest her feed to any new mom to get friend points! Her comics are perfect and funny and heart-warming.

VIDEO

Finally, if you have ever pondered the trolley/train philosophical thought experiment, you might appreciate this two-year-old who, without hesitation, comes up with the answer. Out of the mouths of babes, uhoh.

 

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Inputs and Inspiration :: August

My blog always falls into disuse. It's quite a bit of time and energy to create a good blog post. But I've recently been inspired to try sharing a few new things in a few new ways, so I'm going to try sharing what's got my attention on a weekly basis.

My husband calls the media we consume "inputs"—food for our biological computers clicking away in our heads. So I'm going to be posting a weekly list of my favorite inputs. Maybe you will find something to distract, inspire, or create with here:


APPS

Ink Cards :: This app creates and mails a postcard from your phone. Almost everyone I love that has any interest in my new little man can hop on Facebook and see him anytime, but my grandma stays off the computer and off social media, so this app has been the perfect way to physically send her updates and pictures of her new great-grandson with none of the hassle of having to get off my butt and actually do anything. Bonus: I feel like a good granddaughter when I send off the newest photo of my son being the cutest baby ever. PS: If you want to try it let me know, if I send you an invite we both get a free card!

MUSIC

One of my friends asked for new lullabies on Facebook and this song was my favorite response.

We also got hear new-to-us artists Hamp & Janet this past weekend. One of my favorite songs they sang was called Strawberries. It gave me that happy-sad heart-achey feeling in the middle of my chest. You can listen to it here.

BOOKS

Show your Work by Austin Kleon :: I just finished this book! I'm going to try some of his suggestions about sharing more stuff, and sharing more constructively (this was the book that inspired me to start this post!) but I'm going to ignore other suggestions; I will probably always post pictures of babies and puppies forever and ever.

Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer :: I read this a while back, but I had to take my post-its out of it for its trip back to the library. It's definitely a shelf-worthy keeper of a book. One of the paragraphs I especially loved I thought I'd share:

I take great pleasure in gathering plants, filling my basket with roots and leaves. Usually I go with a specific plant in mind, when it’s time for elderberries or the bergamot is heavy with oils. But it’s the wandering itself that has such appeal, the unexpected discoveries while looking for something else. I get the same feeling in the library. It’s so very much like picking berries—the peaceful field of books, the concentrated attention of the search, and the knowledge that hidden somewhere in the thicket is something worth finding.
— Gathering Moss, Robin Wall Kimmerer

INSTAGRAM

Did you know there was a #slimemoldsundays hashtag? There is, and I want to participate!

ARTICLES

So this list will be devoid of TV and movies for the most part. As I previously mentioned, our household has a new tiny human, and once he started glancing over at episodes of Orange is the New Black I did a little googling and found this article. TL;DR version: Kids shouldn't watch TV before they are two. So there is an old quilt thrown over the TV for now. It's probably good for all of us. I think I get to sleep better with no TV viewing at night. If I WAS going to watch something it would be Kubo and the Two Strings!! But it looks like I'll be waiting on it to come to Redbox. I'll live.

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My New Magic iPad Pro

I have always had a bit of a disconnect with my digital tools. I love working in a digital space, I like the infinite variability, I like the flexibility, I feel at home playing with pixels.

But I've always used a Wacom tablet, and it has seemed like a compromise. I never liked drawing on the hard blank surface to have my marks jump up and orient themselves on the screen in front of me.

So of course, I got excited when info started coming out about the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil (yes, I know I could have gotten a Surface Tablet. I didn't want to.) Thanks to my husband, family, and a really good friend, the magic tablet and stylus is exactly what showed up under the Christmas tree, and I've spent much of my time learning what I can do with these new tools.

We have a new puppy, and a new baby on the way; celebration doodle drawn in Procreate!

I was worried. There was a lot of criticism about it still being a tablet, it is dependent on apps. It won't run a full version of any of the standard graphic software, and that is exactly what I use. But I wanted to keep an open mind about where this can function in my workflow, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much it can really take over.

Idea sketch created in Procreate.

SKETCHING & IDEATION

This is where I thought the set up would really excel, and it didn't disappoint. Although I was frustrated at first because Adobe's sketching app doesn't have layers (and I love layers) I soon abandoned the app for the more robust Procreate, which I love spending time in.

From personal doodles, to thumbnails for clients, to full illustrations, this has become my go to app for digital painting, and I really feel like I'm just starting to get into it.

My big goal for 2016 is to stick with using the iPad Pro everyday so that the tool becomes as familiar to me as a drawing pencil.

Snippet of a full illustration created in Photoshop using Astropad and the iPad Pro.

FINAL ILLUSTRATIONS

Having all the bells and whistles of a full version of Photoshop, along with my library of brushes and the ability to create masks is just not happening yet in any app I've seen. That said, there is a workaround that is a viable option, I finished my latest Texas Parks and Wildlife illustration with it.

It is an app called Astropad and it mirrors your computer to your iPad, and it works! It takes a little to get used to the interface, but I had no problem completing my illustration in Photoshop while drawing on my iPad.

Lovely, I say.

Vector Illustration work-in-progress in the Graphic app.

BONUS: VECTOR ILLOS!

Usually I prefer pushing pixels to arranging anchor points, but a recent personal project has me experimenting with new processes. This is brand new so I haven't played in many vector apps, but a little online research had me looking at Graphic, and I've found it to be easy jump into and start using. 

I think the best thing about this set up for me is its portability.

I can lounge on the couch and sketch. I can sit outside and watch my puppy chew sticks and work on an illustration. I can draw while I sit in a waiting room. And it doesn't feel like a compromise.

The apps react wonderfully to the pressure and tilt sensitivity of the Apple Pencil. I'm really enjoying it so far and can't wait to see what else me and my magic tablet can do!

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wildflower wednesdays

To keep myself drawing and playing with shape and texture and digital color I've given myself a weekly assignment; to draw a wildflower once a week to be posted on Wednesdays. I am terrible at keeping up with these little self assignments but I am trying to keep this task doable and fun and create a habit I can follow through with and enjoy.

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animated gifs

My list of things to draw and ways to experiment with images and words is a growing pile of unrealized ideas. But I just stack them up in a lump of potential and pick out things to do when I have time and energy. Adding and experimenting with motion is one of those things that I finally yanked from underneath the heap and starting messing around with.

eyewonder.gif
butterflypug.gif

In my first image I started working on an idea I had for animated type. This idea was an "I" that I want to use in the phrase "I wonder." It was a lot of fun.

My second experiment was a moment I wanted to capture when a butterfly landed on my pug's head while we were on a walk. Part of the challenge of this gif was that I wanted to finish it in one day so some of the motion elements I'd like to come back to later and refine.

Both of these were created using frame animation in Photoshop. I'd like to continue to work with motion; animated illustrations, animated type, movement in comics; and experiment with new ways to make the software work for me.

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Violet and the Bear

It's a story I started imagining while hiking the AT and I'm excited about continuing and exploring through different storytelling mediums. I know I like all the pieces that have been living in my brain these past few months, I just don't know for sure how they will all come together.

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Paying the Price

You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft—then you can add all the genius you like.
— Phyllis A. Whitney

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Collaborative Sketchbook

Kerri's drawn dots, with my embroidered continuation in progress

My brilliant and talented friend Kerri Augenstein asked if I would like to start a collaborative sketchbook with her. I said "YES!" but was a little worried about the idea at first. All that worry disappeared the moment the sketchbook arrived in the mail. First of all, can you ask for a more wonderful gift to arrive? Nope, no way, it was magic in the mailbox. With friends as widely dispersed as mine currently are, thinking of when I might next see them can be a little depressing, but Kerri was right, here she was, right in my hands. Secondly, any worry I had about how my marks would meld with Kerri's, what I would put in the book, what standards I would have to hold myself to in a shared sketchbook, went away as soon as I started drawing. In these pages I was being invited to play. 

Kerri started pages that asked me to join in, the first was her dots, which I realized I wanted to continue on as embroidered dots. My second large-ish contribution to my first round with the sketchbook was a quote I illustrated for her and her partner. I realized that drawing out the entire spread I was not inviting collaboration in, but it meant more to me than if I was drawing it in one of my own sketchbooks, because I felt like I was making it as a gift.

quote from A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis

I can already see how this exercise will challenge me. I tried to create some pages that invited Kerri in to play, invited her in to interact with shapes I made, lines I drew. Our aesthetic differences are already allowing me to try new things in the book. It requires me to let go of the outcome, enjoy the book for the process, and be glad of the surprises that come with sharing something that is usually so personal. I cannot wait to see how this evolves.

This project, although barely begun, is so fun that I just ordered another sketchbook for me and Christine Valerio to begin!

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My first Bigfoot sighting!

I've been spending some time with my parents in Cloudcroft, New Mexico amid the Sacramento Mountains. I've spotted elk, chipmunks, and squirrels. The air is filled with the chitter of hummingbirds and the Steller's Jay keeps an eye on my hikes from it's evergreen perch. But yesterday I saw the elusive bigfoot! I think he was as startled to see me as I him. I barely got this shot before he turned and ran into the dense brush beyond the aspen grove.

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room to roam

The way creative work gets done are always unpredictable, demanding room to roam, refusing schedules and systems. They cannot be reduced to replicable formulas.
— Rebecca Solnit

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VCFA Love <3

While I was off hiking my classmates from VCFA have been busy. The amazing and talented Leslie Tane curated a show, TADA! that featured work of 25 VCFA students, faculty, and alumni. Although I couldn't make it across the country, I did back the kickstarter for the video so that I could have the show come to me. The kickstarter was just funded and this short trailer posted!

And although none of us had to be told VCFA is amazing, Print magazine recently published a list of the best MFA Graphic Design programs in the country. We were all excited to see our small, young program appear, and it was great to see the work of my talented friends featured.

Of course I needed to brag, I love these people.

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Thesis!

As I'm putting together digital files of my thesis documents for VCFA I've decided to share them here as well. I've uploaded both my thesis and the accompanying rewritten fairy tale to issuu for any interested friends.

I love this picture of us; my VCFA cohort post-graduation. 

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Life Deserves Better Merit Badges

As I travel from national park to state park, the thing I end up collecting is patches. But as I stand in the little ranger station gift shops I am often disappointed by the little embroidered images. Sometimes they don't reflect my experience at that park, or sometimes they just seem cheaply made. Each time I think, "I could design a better patch." I imagine making merit badges for my grown up life; little embroidered rewards and mementos for going to new places, achieving significant goals, or maybe just for fun. 

After the hike, I decided to try and make one, so I bought some canvas, embroidery thread, and a little hoop at the craft store and started designing a patch in the Paper app on my iPad.

One of my favorite things about the hike was my daily contact with wildlife. I ate lunches with chipmunks. Young deer with velvet antlers walked into camp to watch us brush our teeth. Cold grey salamander would hide under my boot while I filtered water in the small stony creeks. And on the many days I found myself hiking miles and miles in a cold foggy drizzle, my day would be lit up by for a moment by these fire-orange newts crossing my path.

Later, when I went to research this little guy, I found out that it is really a Red Eft, which is the terrestrial juvenile stage of the Red-spotted Newt. Red-spotted Newts are born aquatic, and as adults are aquatic, but in between they get a little wanderlust and strike out across the forest for new ponds. That's when they crossed my path and made me smile, despite my sopping wet socks.

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