2021

Artwork, Design, Miscellaneous
colored sketch of happy cat on back

2020 is finally over! What a strange year it was. And a long year. I’m hoping 2021 will be better, but it didn’t get off to the best start. But as the month has progressed, it’s calmed down a bit. So that’s good!

Looking back at my year, I was really fortunate. I was able to keep my job and work from home. I got to see my Grandma before she died, and I have some really good memories from that. And Nick and I have proven we are capable of inhabiting the same space for really long amounts of time and not murder each other!

There were some bad moments too, of course, but overall, I tried to stay positive. When the pandemic first started, I honestly didn’t think it would last for as long as it has. I tried to keep my schedule relatively the same, so that I could jump right back in to my normal life, as soon as we all got back into it. And I tried to see the opportunities that it was giving me. I drive a long way to work, so I gained extra time every day! The extra time gave me more time to do the things I’ve been wanting to do. Practice guitar daily! Draw more! Extra time to blog more! Run longer distances! Extra time to treat myself by doing face masks, painting my nails, and relaxing! And extra time with Nick!

Unfortunately, as time has moved on, I have adjusted for this to now be my normal. I don’t get up as early as I used to. I have spent more time in front of the TV than I have in years. I’m not practicing guitar as much. I’m not blogging much. I’m sitting around more, and my running mileage has not progressed at all.

But it hasn’t all been bad. I’m almost finished painting our Last Night on Earth Hero game figures, which has been on my list of things to do for awhile now. I’ve started knitting again, which I haven’t done in forever. I have been taking more time to focus on me. I’ve gotten to play more video games. And Nick and I have tried to come up with fun and creative things to keep our days from becoming mundane (we have formal Fridays, had a coffee date on the porch, set up a photo booth, had a cultural fest, and our very own version of GenCon!).

The biggest takeaways I got from 2020 are that exercise is very important for me, it’s ok to relax and not feel guilty about it, and yes, I am definitely an introvert!

I always knew that exercise was important to me, but I guess I thought it was more of a want than a need. But as it got colder outside, and I kept indoors more and didn’t move as much, I started to notice it in my mood. I started getting easily irritated by things that didn’t bother me before, and I started to feel really down and depressed. This past year, I reached my lowest low, and it was not a good place to be. I’m glad I was able to break out of it, and I hope to never get there again. ‘Cause when you’re down, it affects the people around you as well, and when you are stuck indoors with them, it makes for some really terrible times.

Being ok with relaxing and not being productive has always been hard for me. And I’m not saying that I’m such a productive person, I’m constantly doing things and never relax. I’m saying that I’m fairly productive, but I push myself to be ultra productive, which then ends in me being slightly productive and feeling guilty that I’m not more productive. So when I am not being productive, I feel guilty that I’m not, and I stress about it, and I’m not able to relax. But by getting rid of those thoughts that every second of my day has to be ultra productive has caused me to be more productive because when it’s time for me to relax, even though I could be doing something else, I’m relaxing, which has been so helpful for my creativity and is so restorative. When it’s time for me to do something to be productive, I have way more energy and get more done.

For some, being stuck indoors has been horrible. For me, this hasn’t really been a problem. I’m not sure if it’s just my personality or if I just had so much going on in life before, that I’m enjoying all the free time and not having to rush off to another appointment or engagement (and I’m sure a lot of this has to do with driving. When I was doing improv, my drive from work to improv was about an hour!). Don’t get me wrong. I do miss my friends and family. And I’m looking forward to the spring when I can sit outside more. But I’m also perfectly content to sit at home all day. I’ve always known I’m introverted. But I guess I didn’t realize just how introverted I am. If introverts get their energy from being alone, I am storing up so much, that people are not going to be able to handle me when I’m finally back in the world!

One really great thing this year was that I got to attend the Adobe Max conference. In normal times, I don’t think I would have ever gotten to go, since it’s really expensive. But last year, they offered it virtually and for free if you had a Creative Cloud membership. In true Melonie-fashion, I booked myself full of classes every day. Anything that sounded even slightly interesting was on my list. I even got up early to watch classes. It was so great! But the best part was when I stumbled into some of the celebrity talks. I wasn’t planning on going to any of those talks, since I didn’t thinks they’d be interesting. But when I had some down time, I decided to check one of them out, and I’m so glad I did! They were so inspiring!

As an artist, I’ve always been insecure about my work. I worry that what I do is not good enough, since it doesn’t look perfect. Or it’s not as good as what someone else can do. Or as imaginative as what someone else might have come up with. This year has been especially hard on me at work, since we’ve hired new people in my department. They both have much more experience in graphic design than I do, since I spent more of my time doing prepress than actual design. So with these new hires, I’m sharing the creative side of things. And whenever I’m not a part of a new project, I do sometimes wonder if it’s just because that’s not where my strength lies, but it’s where the other person thrives or is it because I’m not good enough? So it was nice to hear celebrities and established creatives talk about their own self doubt. And to be reminded that my work isn’t worse. It’s just different.

So going forward into 2021, work-wise, I’m hoping to get better at 3D modeling, learning to better work creatively within a group, becoming an art director, and pushing my design abilities. Artistically, I’m hoping to continue drawing, finish painting all of the Last Night on Earth figures, and squeezing in some traditional/digital paintings. Craft-wise, I’d like to squeeze in a few sewing and some knitting projects. Personally, I want to continue to work on myself and my marriage to make both of them the best they can be. And I also want to learn to play one song in its entirety on the guitar. Happy New Year to everyone, and I hope this year is better for you all than last year!

Last Night on Earth Miniatures

Miscellaneous
front of 4 miniature characters from Last Night on Earth

As you may already know, I like to play board games. When Nick and I first got into the hobby, one of the games we purchased was Last Night on Earth, which is a zombie apocalypse game that has miniatures. Shortly after seeing other people painting their miniatures, I decided I was going to paint ours. Sadly, we’ve had the game for years now, and I hadn’t even primed any of them!

So last year, I decided to give myself a little push by priming all of the heroes in the game. I did it in the fall, knowing that in winter, I would probably get the bug to paint, but was not going to go out in the garage in the cold and prime everything. Plus, priming works best in non-sub-zero temperatures!

And now I have some painted miniatures to show you! So far, I only have four done. It’s been a slower process than what I thought it would be. But they are so small, that whenever I get an area looking how I want, I end up hitting the brush somewhere and having to touch things up. (After taking photos, I saw that one of them has a spot of blue in their hair that needs fixing!) But I’m getting better at it! And I purchased some magnifying glasses, which is helping, and added bonus, I look super cool wearing them (that’s sarcasm, in case it didn’t read).

Before starting, I watched a lot of videos and read painting guides. Plus, one of my co-workers, Andrew Chesney, is a really good painter, so I’ve gotten some tips from him. It’s crazy to watch him work. He can complete a couple of minis in a night, and they look awesome! I take way more time than that! But I also haven’t been doing this for years. I did try to paint one of my brother’s minis back in high school. It didn’t really work well. I didn’t understand shading or even how to paint and make something look 3D. So the mini ended up looking really flat and kind of cartoonish. Good to see that these are much better, and I’m making progress!

I started with the heroes because they will be the easier ones to paint. For me, it’s really confusing when you play a game, if the mini doesn’t look anything like the character’s photo on your character card. So I am painting the minis to match what I can see of the character’s hair color, skin color, and outfits. But for the zombies, I can do whatever I want. So I thought it would be better to get these started and make them match something, and then for the zombies, go crazy!

One thing I do wish I would have known before I primed my minis was that the minis should be cleaned up a bit. Especially with game minis like these that are more cheaply made and tend to have mold parts and other pieces that weren’t meant to be a part of the mini but ended up not being removed in manufacturing. One of the female minis looks like she’s wearing a necklace, which she could be, but I don’t see a necklace in any of the photos. So it could be a mistake. But since I had already primed it, I just went with it, and she’s now wearing a necklace.

Another difficult thing with minis that are more cheaply made is that they don’t have a lot of detail. So the dry brushing technique tends to not work the same way it would with really detailed minis. I think the faces have been the hardest part for me. I have had to redo the eyes so many times because I feel like they should be more detailed, but the eyes are so small, that just getting them to look like eyes and not make the characters look cross eyed has been hard!

I’ll post more as I get them done, but for now, this is what I have. Enjoy!

A New Skirt

Miscellaneous

Last year, I bought some new fabric to make myself a classy pencil skirt. I don’t know that I’ve ever owned a pencil skirt, so I was excited to add one to my collection. Since I planned on wearing it in colder weather, I also decided to line it, which proved to be pretty difficult!

I got the fabric from S.R. Harris, and I love it! It’s recycled, so it’s a little different from anything I’ve worked with before, but it’s nice because it’s hefty and looks classy.

I didn’t have a regular pattern for this skirt. I used the book Flirt Skirts to draft one by measuring out the pattern in the back of the book and recreating it on a large sheet of paper. The original size that I drafted wasn’t fitting right, so I put it on inside out and did some alterations. In my altering, I tapered the skirt in a little more near the hem, since the shape looked more pleasing. I didn’t realize until wearing the skirt to work one day, that my tapering was too much, and I now have to unzip the skirt to use the bathroom, since I can’t bring it up over my hips! Oops!

As I mentioned above, the lining was difficult for me. I’ve never lined anything before, and the book didn’t have instructions for it. So I searched the internet, watched some YouTube videos, and got started creating the lining. I’m not exactly sure what I did wrong, but the lining is much smaller than the skirt. So it’s a little tight in some areas that would not be tight if it were just the skirt. I also had a hard time making the waistband of the skirt because the lining was so slippery. I put the skirt on and folded the waistband, since that seemed to be the easiest way for me to figure out how to get it to work. But that caused its own problems, and now the zipper is not lined up correctly. But on the good side, the skirt feels pretty hefty, and the lining is nice.

If I were to make this skirt again, I would also have added a kickpleat. Not having one makes it difficult to get in and out of the car. And I’m a tall person and take large steps, and without a kickpleat, I feel like I’m being restricted to walking slowly, which I don’t love.

So, overall, I’m pleased with the skirt. As long as I wear a longer shirt to cover up the zipper, it looks nice and is a great new piece for my wardrobe!

It’s Been Awhile…

Miscellaneous

It has been so long since I’ve posted anything…too long. I’ve never been a really consistent poster, but I’ve always tried to at least post once a month. Part of the reason I haven’t been posting is because I’ve been trying to decide if I should stick with WordPress or go back to Squarespace, where they take care of everything in the background for me. For some reason, this has been a really difficult decision. On the one hand, letting someone else take care of all the back-end stuff, all the coding, and all the keeping up with the newest trends sounds so appealing. Then I can just focus on making art, designing things, and writing. But then on the other hand, there is no reason I can’t learn how to set all this stuff up, and the thought of paying for a website when it doesn’t make me any money, seems silly. And if you know me, the thought of learning how to do something is soooo appealing! But this time, I took too long to decide, so the decision ended up being made for me, and it’s WordPress now for a little while longer.

A lot has also been going on in my life that I really need to spend more time focusing on. So that has meant my blog has had to suffer. On the good side, while I’ve been silent, I haven’t been sitting idle. I’ve made at least two pieces of artwork every month, did some sewing, and was busy at work getting our latest title, Cloudspire, ready to print. I also went to Origins again this year.

I am planning to post my backlog of things that I’ve been up to. And, for those of you who have been checking, updating my portfolio. I haven’t put anything that I’ve worked on in there since I started at Chip Theory. So you will be hearing from me more in the coming weeks as I post everything from my backlog.

The photo for this post is our cat, Johnny. Sadly, he is no longer with us, after his battle with kidney failure. But I had to share this photo because it’s one of my favorites, and he looks so happy! Even though things were a bit rough in the end and incredibly sad, a photo like this makes me feel like he enjoyed his time with us as much as we did with him…or he just really wants to go outside…I’m going with the first idea!

Another Year Down…

Miscellaneous

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great New Year’s, even if you spent it going to bed early. I was happy to ring in the New Year by belting out songs with some friends and Nick in a basement while playing Rock Band. Good times!

I’m not really a New Year’s resolution person, since I think if you want to make a change in your life, it’s better to just do it right away versus waiting for a magical date (if you don’t actually want to make the change, no specific time is ever going to be the right time), but I do think the new year is a good time to look back at your past year, see how you did, and set new goals.

So how did I do last year? Goal-wise, not so great. Out of the four goals that I had, I didn’t complete any of them. Mid-year, I had re-evaluated my goals and deleted three of them. Two were very time intensive, and after starting a new job and having travel as a new thing in my life, I was not dedicating the time needed.

Work-wise, things were good. A new, fun job! Travel! Conventions! Lots of design! Working with creative people! Things were very good on the work-front. I’m definitely looking forward to what 2019 will bring.

General-overall-life-wise, ok. There were some really great times and some really horrible times. Overall though, if I look at the entire year, the positive outweighs the negative, so that’s good! And the horrible times helped to remind me what an amazing man I married! He’s so supportive and funny and sweet! I’m lucky to have him in my life helping to make it great and pushing me to be the best I can be!

And now for 2019. What do I have in store? Art, sewing, and photography! I’ve already completed a painting, sewn a skirt, and taken some photographs. The year is off to a good start, and I hope to continue this forward momentum! This year will be better!