My 2018 Year in Review

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2018 was quite a year, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on last year and keep the momentum going into this new one!

12 Glimpses of My 2018

During 2018, I created a lot of original art in a variety of mediums as well as making huge strides on my writing goals!  Here are twelve of my most memorable moments:  

1. "Raven Secretkeeper II": I took part in my first art show in some time this year, Women of Art, and that included the inclusion of three pieces of art, including this original acrylic painting on a piece of exotic padauk wood. I really enjoy doing projects like this, but I didn't do many of them in the wake of my injury or move, and I'm looking forward making more in the coming months!

2. Story Art: This year I tried to make an effort to spend a little less time creating art related to my story, because there are simply so many hours in the day, and I wanted to focus a bit more on the actual writing. That said, I did work on a few pieces, this one included. I wanted to challenge myself a bit, and so I chose a particular scene from my book that I really wanted to illustrate that included things like perspective, multiple characters interacting, different materials, atmospherics, and the like. I'm proud of how it's shaping up, but there's still more to go for sure!

3. Ah, Piranha Bear! I'm including this piece here because it was a fun reminder of keeping my sense of humor alive in my art. I'd originally sketched this a few years back, but poked it a bit this year so that I could turn it into a surprise embroidered shirt design. Working on pieces like this has helped me start to think of my art as more than just one-offs, and instead I've started to envision more of them as potential products and designs.

4. "Fern Lion and Friend" - This is another piece I worked on for this year's art show! While it's a companion piece of sorts to the smaller Fall Friends piece I did the previous year, I really enjoyed just sort of embracing the fantasy of this piece. I feel like that has been one of my big themes of 2018: just trusting my gut and creating things that I enjoy and just... going along with it in a sort of open, ongoing self-discovery. 

5. "Purrberus" - This was a fun little sketch to me, and was another one of the pieces that encouraged me to really improve my designs. It was my first piece that encouraged me to open my Redbubble! I really like the idea of infusing some sweet humor into designs like this.

6. "Wolf Mage": I did a lot of regular sketching after my fourth leg surgery in April, and I found the challenge of starting and finishing pieces in one session to be a fun and compelling challenge!  Having access to limited materials at a time has also prompted me to try new things. This piece was one of those sketches, and features a wolf mage casting a spell in a bit of a Doctor Strange style. 

7. Wood and Resin Pendants: This year I created around a dozen wood and resin pendants, and learned a lot in the process as I tried new styles and finishing techniques, some with more success than others. I'm really proud of how far I've come, even if they are still a lot more labor-intensive than I'd like!

8. Art Supply Rests - During my recovery, I had a lot of molding and casting supplies that unfortunately went bad, and in order to get back in the saddle, I wanted a nice, simple project that would be low risk if my supplies failed. I decided I would try a piece of usable art, and created some colorful art supply rests! They aren't exactly my most detailed sculpture by a long shot, but it was a nice and bite-sized project to get me rolling again after many months away from my workshop, and it brings me a lot of joy to imagine them in use my artists all around the world!

9. Crystallized Dragon Claws - This year I made a few more full-sized crystallized dragon claws, as well as some smaller, pendant-sized ones. Along with the wood and resin pendants, it's been fun to explore creating new sorts of wearable jewelry!

10. Leopardess - This is another piece of story-inspired art that I've been working on off and on this year. I still have a little ways more to go on it, but it's been nice having a way to further explore my characters through my art.

11. Mandala Kitties - My precious, colorful kitties! This particular project has brought me a lot of joy this year! When I started this sculpture some months ago, it was around the time that my own kitty's health was having issues, and I was spending a lot of time tending to her. Pets and animals play such a huge role in my life, and when I was working on this sculpture originally, I remember worrying if people might not like the added mandala design I was intended for it since I hadn't seen that sort of thing before. But I figured I would chase the vision I had for the sculpture and go from there. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the reception I got, and it left me a lot of freedom to explore various colors, materials, and finishes. I simply can't wait to try some new things on these and other sculptures!

12. “Sashah's Song” – Mixed Media Sculpture (Work in Progress) and Novel Progress: I started this sculpture way back in late 2014, and it's gone through periods of heavy work and delay in favor of other projects, but it's hardly forgotten! It stalled at one point because I needed to work with resins as well as more complex molding and casting to continue working on it, and at the time I acknowledged there was a very real possibility of damaging it if I didn't take awhile to step back and skill up before continuing work on it. That said, 2018 taught me a lot, and I'm hoping to continue work on it in 2019 and hopefully finish it off! It's a sculpture of one of the lead protagonists of my stories, who happens to be a werewolf enchantress. She's been a labor of love, and I figure I'm around 200+ hours in at this point, and to date, this is very possibly the art project I'm proudest of so far! Along these lines, this year I made an absolutely *massive* amount of progress on the first novel in my series, and I'm thrilled to report I am ending the year with a completed first draft that is over 200k+ words, or about 800+ pages long! This milestone means a lot to me, especially with the numerous setbacks I've had this year and the variety of projects and obligations fighting for my time. 

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My 2018 Year in Review

The good:

  • Tried to be kinder to myself and more realistic with my goals in 2018, and felt that really made me a happier person. While I still sometimes burned the candle on both ends and overdid it, I made the most out of the energy I had.

  • Finished the first draft of my first book, "The Wolf and the Clockwork Hummingbird!" I've been writing for years and years, and it's felt absolutely *incredible* to finally hit his major milestone!

  • Celebrated 11 years with my SO and hugged him even tighter. <3 He is such a wonderful, supportive light in my crazy life.

  • Continued to donate, purge, sell, and gave away a dramatic amount of stuff. Downsizing has been *amazing* and it's made me much more honed-in on the value of future purchases to boot!

  • Work has been great! I am very pleased with my career trajectory, and am eager to continue to learn, grow, and support my department and Blizzard as a whole!

  • Somehow, even with all the crazy, I managed another extremely productive productive artistic AND writing year! I completed easily over 100 pieces of original art in a variety of mediums, as well as over 100k words of writing on my novel!

  • I deepened my focus in my art side-business, and managed to have a surprisingly great year of sales, including rehauling my website, trying to turn more of my designs into products, improving my shipping and fulfillment workflow, becoming more active on Instagram, and diversifying and deepening my Patreon content.

  • Along these lines, this was a year where I was able to take inventory of things I didn't need and things I did, and over the course of the year I upgraded some workshop supplies, scanner, camera, and more. While I hardly need the best-of-the-best, I realize I have limited time available to me, and that means I need to make the most of the time I have in whatever creative ways I can. Along these lines, I am going to try to make a concerted effort to better document my completed works, rather than to just have them hide somewhere in a Twitter post or similar.

  • Continued to use and update my Personal Productivity trackerto try to hold myself accountable for how I was using my time.

  • Learned more about woodworking and molding and casting, and leveled up some necessary skills in that realm!

  • Pushed myself to learn and try new things and experiment with a number of things like real media painting and sketches, digital art, new products, wood and resin art, wearable and usable resin art, and just... art. I realize that my art is running a bit of a gambit, but for the moment, I feel like that's okay as I really explore what I enjoy making and my personal aesthetic.

  • I'm putting this in the "good" category, because for me it was: I didn't take on any major commissions. Over the last year, and especially due to my injury, I really started to think about my full-time work at Blizzard more as my paid/commissioned time, and viewed my time outside work as even more precious. As a result of this, I tried to focus this time on exploring my own designs, and I feel like I've grown immensely from giving myself the freedom to focus on cultivating my inner Art Director.

  • Finally sort-of resolved the repetitive stress hand/wrist injury I previously suffered at work. 

  • I managed to navigate a careful line between keeping busy, but not becoming overwhelmed.

  • Kept my optimism intact through a truly challenging year

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The not so good: 

  • I wasn't able to walk unassisted at the start of 2018, and I was only able to do so a few days before my April surgery.... and then I wasn't able to walk unassisted for another few months. So that means that for about a year and a half (July 2017 -> ~November 2018), I wasn't able to walk unassisted. :/ 

  • Surgery #4 and further recovery from last year's Major Leg/Ankle/Foot Injury. It's been a rough year medically for sure, but I'm glad things seem stable else wise. BUT I also want to point out with full transparency that surgery #4 led to +pain BUT +mobility as well. I haven't fallen since, and it's really been wonderful to start to feel a bit more like myself physically. I wouldn't have been able to do any molding and casting had it not been for this critical surgery, which later allowed me to be able to do things like stand and walk without assistance.

  • My cat Opal had a really rough year medically speaking starting from around May and on. Her vet care ended up costing us around $7k, but it saved her life, and since she's only 7 years old, we're hoping she still has a lot of good years ahead of her. While the financial hit was a bit sudden and steep, I'm thankful that I was able to leverage my side-hustle and help offset the costs of her medical care. It wasn't how I anticipated spending the last few months, but in the end, it was so very worth it.

  • Didn't lose much weight.

  • Didn’t finish “Sashah’s Song” sculpture, but hopefully next year!

  • I guess looking at my art, I wish I'd completed more paintings, but on the flip-side, I created an *insane* amount of resin sculptures and writing this year, so I am willing to give myself a bit of a pass. ;)

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On to 2019!

All-in-all it's been quite a crazy year, and I am hopeful 2019 continues to be even better! Here are how 2018 stood up to some of my goals:

  1. Complete first draft of "The Apprentice of Rook." (Renamed to "The Wolf and the Clockwork Hummingbird") - Complete! 

  2. Continue to further grow my art business. - Yes!

  3. Complete "Sashah's Song" Sculpture -  ...Nope. :/ 

  4. Create some new small sculptures and mold and cast them.  -Yes! 

  5. Create new wood and resin art.  - Yes! 

  6. Learn to walk again.  - Yes! 

Some personal things I'm aiming to accomplish in the new year include: 

  1. Complete the second draft of "The Wolf and the Clockwork Hummingbird"  (Bonus points if I can get to third draft!)

  2. Continue to further grow my art business and my personal aesthetic. 

  3. Complete "Sashah's Song" Sculpture. 

  4. Create some new small sculptures and mold and cast them.  

  5. Be more physically active. 

2018 felt extremely long in some respects, and but a brief blip on the radar in others. This was a year where I learned healthier ways to push myself, and it ended up being one of my most productive and creative years to date, without getting too perilously close to burn-out! 

I’m eager to see what 2018 brings personally, professionally, and creatively, and I’m so thankful for all of your support along the way of this crazy journey. <3 Happy New Year, and I hope you're well on your way to achieving some of your goals as well!