journal / week 1

I guess this will be the start of my weekly journal posts (let's see how long they'll last). I tend to do much of the same each week and spend much of my time at my desk, but perhaps that's not as mundane as I imagine it to be to you; it's not mundane to me. Anyway, I'm dedicating this post to my desk--the structure at which I envisage a vast majority of my ideas and make poor judgements in online shopping and digest too many hours of too loud music. Thus, I've captured some *special* moments during which I was illustrating myself in a peachy, terra-cotta wash of gouache at that very place--my desk. Bonus: if you actually take the time to read/scroll through, you'll catch a glimpse of my dog, the true star of the show. I know he's the reason you find yourself here.

This week was different. Because I had the whole weekend off (including Monday) for the first time since February.  I didn't even check my e-mail. Maybe once or twice, but I didn't reply to any e-mails and that's what counts.  And I can't deny that it was weird. Last Saturday when the sun poured into my room and urged me to kick away my throw and enjoy the morning, I kind of just sat there and tried to remember what I never had time to do. That's the nice thing about loving your job; everything tends to blend into one happy color and you really don't mind working (usually). Thirty minutes later I was more conscious and gained the ability to recall the activities I normally try to squeeze into a summer.  

So, I went on a trip to the botanic garden. The traffic was horrid, the sun blazing, the surrounding drivers fed up. I didn't mind, I wasn't in a rush. What a new feeling. No deadline to meet. No schedule to follow. Freedom.

I saw poppies (my favorite flowers). The rose bushes blossomed and little flowers poked their heads out everywhere. I drove home in more traffic.  The next day was reserved for the beach. Traffic. The softness of the sand on my toes. Ice cold, bone-chilling water. Fiery sun. Traffic.

The majority of the weekend went by in the most pleasant haze, in the fingers of the sun's overarching rays--mainly felt on my bright red back and shoulders, I would find out later. I know, how could I ruin that perfect rhyme with an unnecessary complain about my sunburn?

Come Monday, my sunburn and I felt the need to stay home. And the decision was made easily: a day inside it was. I remembered that I had been putting off reorganizing the shelves under my desk. Excitedly, I pulled out the baskets, along with all of the junk I had acquired. Well, mainly art and packaging supplies. Cleaning is an activity I thoroughly enjoy, if the occasion is right. I threw out old markers, recycled sketches and notes, and better organized everything. Inspired by Tiny House Hunters, I constantly think I could go tiny someday. Then moments like this remind be that 57% of my room is filled with prints, stickers, five different sizes of bubble mailers, six different sizes of cello sleeves, t-shirts, enamel pins, and tote bags and another 23% with block printing supplies, gouache, markers, pencils, oils, acrylics, canvases, pads of watercolor paper, sketchbooks, and a large bag of fresh micron pens. That in mind, going tiny is probably not a great option for me. At least everything is well-organized in my (not big enough) space.

Oh right, I dedicated this post to my desk, so I should focus on that portion. The rest of the week I worked on some (secret) projects that I'm not going to share with you just yet and a few fun illustrations like this self-portrait. Basically, I found myself in an unending cycle between paper, iPad, Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator (at my desk). And cake. That's the only hint you'll get in regards to the projects.

A lot of times after long periods of non-stop commissioned work and assignments, I forget that I can actually illustrate anything I desire. Which brings me to the self-portrait that you can see here. Whenever I need a break from non-personal projects, I paint or draw self-portraits. Self-portraits are unique in that the reference photos are easy to obtain, they may be however easy or challenging to create as you desire, and they are a great opportunity to test out new ideas.

This time, I focused on ditching ink and pencil for one of my favorite mediums, gouache. The reason I tend to reach for gouache more than I do for watercolors is because of its versatility. Water it down, and it's like painting with watercolors. Add just enough water and it's semi-opaque. Leave the water out and you get full coverage. I also prefer mixing gouache than I do watercolors. Oils are my absolute favorite and mixing gouache is reminiscent of mixing oils. Just a little bit. Not so buttery, but still smooth.

Additionally, I wanted to play around with pattern in the shirt. If you haven't already noticed, I am pretty crazy about all things 70's, desert-related, and cowboys, so I usually tend to incorporate some of those elements in my work. More times than not, I'm drawn to warm color schemes and specifically, as is evident by too many of my pieces, the color pink. It's just a very pleasing color to look at.

Overall, it was great to take a break from the usual and reach for the paint brush again. I ended up with a self-portrait that I am happy with and a reaffirmed obsession with gouache.

I guess since I'm writing about illustration and gouache and my desk, I'll throw in a little bit about my creative process. When I'm not working, I try to absorb as much as I can. Art and design is everywhere. On Pinterest, on the way to the grocery store, on TV, on packaging, on clothing. Everywhere. I take note of what I like. I look at colors in nature or in architecture. I'm inspired by nearly every square inch of the antique shop I frequent, by the innards of Target's home section, by the horses in the fields I visit once in a while, by the blandness of the suburbs, by abandoned places, by the music I listen to. Being observant is just something I've trained myself to constantly do and most of the time it comes naturally.

If I'm working on a personal project, I first select a topic (usually I'm not very spontaneous, even if I'm just doodling). If I already have a topic to work with, I'm ready to go. If it's not a doodle, I make a quick list of objects I associate with the topic on a scrap piece of paper. Sometimes after I do that, I come up with ideas right away. Sometimes it takes more time. Sometimes I look through books and magazines, past work, or Pinterest to create a mood board.

I do a couple of (very) rough sketches; this helps bring vague ideas out from the depths of my mind. These are usually stick-figures and indiscernible to anyone but me. I don't spend too much time planning after that. I usually come up with an idea I feel very strongly about and I start on the final sketch right away; I pencil it in very lightly. At this point, I choose my medium (sometimes I choose before the rough sketches, it depends on the project). And then it's straight to the finish.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this week's journal. It's sort of disjointed, but most of these posts will probably be that way. If you have any suggestions about what I should write about, send them my way. I'm sure there will be some days when I don't feel like writing or when I won't know what to write about. Looking forward to next week. xx

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