Week 39 – New creatures in the making

Week 40 – After completing my bookkeeping and my quarterly review, I caught a tummy bug, and staring at my computer was one of the few things I was capable of while being sick in bed. So, I decided to work on my strategy for 2021/2022. 

Strangely enough, rather than being discouraging, it sparked a range of activities, including progress on my artwork. I completed the base shapes for four new creatures over the weekend and can’t wait to see how they turn up once the details are finished, and they are painted. 

Paper mache work in progress
Paper mache work in progress

I don’t plan to ignore that I need to decide the next steps for my book project, but I will make the best use of the newfound energy to progress my little paper mache tribe.  

Work on my strategy was invigorated by the Brand Strategy on Instagram course by Julieta Tello on Domestika – the Spanish presentation slides and screenshot made it very hard to follow, and the subtitles alone do not help. Still, there is enough substance in the course materials to make it worth a look. (And any marketing jargon and the word brand make me want to run away usually.)

I also dug out the discovery strategy I developed with my clients over the years, and things start to take shape. I will aim to create a useful and usable framework to share with other artist and crafters. 

Now back to my creatures!

Progress log

Art(work): Good progress after a patchy start … 

Promotion and social media: Uhhhh … well a new start has been made

Editing and rewrites:  3088 words – approx. 617 words per day … kind of okay with two sick days. 

Renovations: Very slow progress on wardrobe doors.

Garden: More work on section 3b.  

Week 39 – Quarterly Review

Week 39 – In Week 13, I estimated that I needed another 120 days to complete the third draft. With five days per week and two weeks holiday, that would have meant this week. Not. Going. To. Happen.

I had to revise my 1500-words-per-day target down to 1000 words. So, in theory, I would be looking at 60 days more, and 12 more weeks would take me to Week 51 … . Let’s call this a maybe not so bad sign.

I do my best to ignore my more soul-destroying doubts, but the what-if-all-this-is-for-nothing question does come up, and it warrants some attention. What does for-nothing mean? leads straight to Why am I doing this? The this-is-what-I do;-I-write answer feels genuine, and, even though I have barely scratched the surface of what I-write means for me, I-am-read is a part of it.
I have a rough understanding of the editing and publishing process after a manuscript is completed (in the unlikely case I find a publishing house). I am not expecting to go down that road. I write in a foreign language, have no connections, no network, and there is no reason why any publisher would even look at the manuscript. If I self-publish, I want to do it in an as professional manner as I can manage … .

Lots to think about in the next 13 weeks, I guess. My overall plan was not to make any decisions around going back to a paid job for 12 months, and I plan to stick with that for now.

Other news: A new quartet of paper mache creatures is in progress :).

Paper mache work in progress
Paper mache work in progress
Paper mache work in progress
Paper mache work in progress

Progress log

Art(work): Not good enough, but not an utter loss either … 

Promotion and social media: Uhhhh … yes well … 

Editing and rewrites:  4237 words – approx. 1059 words per day (another 4 day week) , so … YAY! target met three times in a row. 

Renovations: The wardrobe doors have moved from slow going to a grinding halt, but the bookshelves are completed. And work in the backyard has started – thanks to a helping hand over the weekend. 

Garden: I have moved from shuffling earth to hard landscaping. Yay! Section 3b is taking shape. 

Week 38 – Taxes

Week 38 – The business year for most small businesses in New Zealand runs from 1 April to 31 March, and we have about four weeks to get our GST and Income returns in, so bookkeeping looms depressingly over April … especially if your temporary filing system looks like mine: a zip bag full of crumpled receipts. But I hunkered down over the long ANZAC weekend, flatted paper and entered data into my spreadsheets … very old school :).
Progress on the book has been good – I am working through the third draft of the second chapter of Part 6 – where my protagonists find themselves in maybe my favourite location – and things have been happening on the house and garden.

I continued my experiments with watercolours, exploring options around digital retouching following the instructions the very talented Ana Santos offers in her Domestika course Illustrated Portrait in Watercolour. Not something I usually dabble in, but it allows you to quickly work through your colours and composition before ruining your original, and Ana’s process is refreshing – and surprisingly – analogue.

watercolour experiments, work in progress
watercolour experiments, work in progress

And now, back to my taxes.

Progress log

Art(work): Sketching, watercolour experiments, and R&D

Promotion and social media: Uhhhh … yes well … 

Editing and rewrites:  5067 words – approx. 1015 words per day … YAY! met  my 1000 words a day / 5 days a week target two times in a row. 

Renovations: The wardrobe doors are very, very slow going – I might have to move the schedule for the decks and porch back a few weeks :(.  

Garden: Levelled more ground … that can put you off gardening in no time. 

Week 37 – Page by Page

Week 37 – Two new paper mache sculpture – Autumn spirit #1- Paper mache sculpture and Autumn spirit #1- Paper mache sculpture are now photographed and available online on esty.com and felt.co.nz. Yay!

Autumn spirit #1 and 2- Paper mache sculpture
Autumn spirit #1 and 2- Paper mache sculpture
Autumn spirit #2- Paper mache sculpture
Autumn spirit #2- Paper mache sculpture
Autumn spirit #1- Paper mache sculpture
Autumn spirit #1- Paper mache sculpture

Progress on the book has been good – Part 5 is now through the third draft – and things have been happening on the house and garden as well.

I have also made time to experiment with watercolour, and I hope to have something to show soon. I was amazed how much I enjoyed this technique, having dismissed it as not for me decades ago … approaching new and old techniques with fresh eyes from time to time is a worthwhile exercise. I hope this will prove as a roundabout way to get over my ‘printmaker’s block’ … we’ll see, I guess.

Painting by painting, page by page.

Progress log

Art(work): Sketching, watercolour experiments, and R&D

Promotion and social media: A tiny bit better … I managed two new pins and two instagram posts … . 

Editing and rewrites:  5100 words – approx. 1020 words per day … YAY! met  my 1000 words a day / 5(4) days a week target. 

Renovations: Progress on wardrobe – plans for building the doors have progressed, first set of materials are bought, work area is cleaned-out.  

Garden: Levelled more ground and made a plan for section 3B. 

Week 36 – Creature by Creature

Week 36 – Night spirit #1- Paper mache sculpture and Night spirit #2- Paper mache sculpture are now photographed and available online on esty.com and felt.co.nz. Yay!

Night spirit #1 and #2- Paper mache sculpture
Night spirit #1 and #2- Paper mache sculpture
Night spirit #2- Paper mache sculpture
Night spirit #2- Paper mache sculpture
Night spirit #2- Paper mache sculpture
Night spirit #2- Paper mache sculpture

 Progress has also been made on house and garden. Writing is moving onwards – I am nearing the end of part 5 of 8. So … onwards and upwards, page by page, and creature by creature. 

Progress log

Art(work): Two photoshoots and product listingsSketching and R&D

Promotion and social media: Ah well … I can’t win every game. 

Editing and rewrites: 3914 words – approx. 1000 words per day … not counting the long weekend, so again within my 1000 words a day / 5(4) days a week target. 

Renovations: Progress on wardrobe: the skirting and architraves are painted, progress on the sliding tracks, and plans for building the doors. 

Garden: Levelled more ground, installed my first vertical wire trellis and planted two climbers. 

Week 35 – Steady now.

Week 35 suffered, of all things, under public holidays. Teetering between taking the long Easter weekend off or not resulted in a mishmash between a not-break and a feeling of not having done enough … .

So, my endeavours are crawling forwards and slipping sideways and need last weeks well-structured chaos. 

On that note, I added one list item to my new routine:

  • Leaving tasks in a state to be easily continued the next time you can work on it.

This has maybe the most impact on my writing and editing progress. I am working through the second draft front to back, checking for consistency and coherence, flow and style, as well as grammar and word choice. I aim to have a third draft that can be given to first readers and is not too embarrassing to be put in front of a native English speaking editor.  

This might sound easy, but it is hard work. Really hard work. The last third of the second draft was never fully developed and requires writing missing scenes as well as rewriting existing scenes because … of many reasons that can be summed up as not-good-enough (and not-even-barely-good-enough).

So dropping the pencil – or keys – midway through a scene or checklist means I have to start from the beginning of the scene or checklist again the next day. 

Lesson learnt, but it is a hard habit to break, especially if it involves telling others that this needs doing now whatever our plans were … . 

From the archives - Lilu #13 Two Ravens
From the minu archives – Lilu #13 Two Ravens

Nothing new to show on my artwork front for this week. Progress has been made, but it’s too early to share. So naturally, my social media activity was underwhelming. A campaign calendar would help … . I always try to make my clients put in the effort – but it is another thing to juggle, and it can affect your authenticity and voice when you campaign on your own behalf in a one-person outfit. 

Progress log

Art(work): Sketching and R&D

Promotion and social media: Ah well … I can’t win every game. 

Editing and rewrites: 3998 words – approx. 1000 words per day … not counting the long weekend, so just within my 1000 words a day / 5 days a week target. 

Renovations: Progress on wardrobe: The inside and the wall beside it are primed and painted except the skirting and architraves. The basics for the shelving system is installed. 

Garden: Finished my ladder shelf for pots and plants, removed about 20 square meters more turf and levelled more ground. 

Week 34 – Silver lining(s)

What I set out to do in last week’s post worked: I met my writing targets for the first time in weeks, finished four paper mache creatures, and still made progress in the house and garden. Yay!

Work in progress, paper mache figurine by minu
Work in progress, paper mache figurine by minu

So, what did I do differently? 

Better time management

I moved my writing sessions back into the priority morning slot – 9 am to 12 am – and voila, I met my writing target for the first time in weeks, and the words flowed from my keys even in the dreaded editing cycle. 

Better organisation

Again, I re-established my usual process of making lists with measurable targets in the morning and having stuff ready for each subsequent tasks. This includes making sure I have my running gear ready in the morning and don’t need to go through the clothes to find my sports bra. I also track my time slots in a calendar with colours to see where I spent my time … it might sound a bit neurotic, but it takes less than ten minutes a day, and the colours highlight time traps like social media or binge-watching.

Work in progress, paper mache figurine by minu
Work in progress, paper mache figurine by minu

Shut up and create 

The Shut up and write mantra from Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg* should be applied to any creative endeavour. Finding reasons for not writing or creating takes away precious time and, even worse, mindset. As does complaining there is never enough time, so I made sure to shut up and write and create. 

Breaks and R&D

Breaks and R&D are easy to let slip, but I achieve more on days where I stick to my 30 minutes running or yoga routine in the morning and take mini-breaks every hour. Plus, my writing and my artwork improve if I allow time for experiments and personal development. 

Progress log

Art(work): four paper mache creatures finished. 

Promotion and social media: Ah well … I can’t win every game. 

Editing and rewrites: 5416 words – approx. 1080 words per day, well within my 1000 words / 5 days a week target. 

Renovations: Progress on wardrobe: plastered side wall, started on front frame and painting. 

Garden: Levelled more ground and started on a ladder shelf for pots and plants … and bought heaps of plants for the next steps. 


Footnotes

*) If you haven’t listened to the Audiobook, do it! Most public libraries will have it, so check your Libby!

Week 33 – What to do, what to do …

Afternoon tea self portrait, course work
Afternoon tea self portrait, course work

Work has fallen behind schedule on all fronts. The reasons are the usual suspects:

  • completing tasks takes longer than expected or tasks don’t go according to plan
  • my mind-space is scattered across too many tasks
  • creative work – like most other tasks – is not always ‘plan-able’

The solution is obvious: In a perfect world, I would review outcomes and priorities, backlog some tasks, and concentrate on completing others.

To recap, I am

  • writing a book
  • creating artwork, refining and improving my style, and promoting my work online
  • completing the renovations on the house and section – currently, the living room and a new in-built wardrobe, as well as landscaping in the garden (already on weekend back-burner)

The overarching idea is to develop a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle.

Sketchbook, the scarf
Sketchbook, the scarf

So yes, things obviously clash. In short: too much is going on (it’s called scattering and is the doom of ‘getting anywhere’).  But, the one thing that I can put on the back burner is already  backlogged – the work on the section and garden. Any progress is ‘nice to have’ until the basics in the living room are done. Everything else are must-haves: We – okay I – can’t go on living in a half-done house; this is the last chance to complete a book that is ten years in the making, and concentrating on my writing and my artwork is part of my model future. Making all of this work is part of the challenge.

So the next text book solutions are:

  • better time management
  • Higher efficiency  better organisation

I have left ‘throwing more money at it’ out of the equation, and efficiency and creative work are not natural companions, so let’s call it better organisation.

From my personal experience, I would add:

  • apply the shut-up and write principle (or make, create, renovate, etc.)
  • allow for R&D slots

I work based on an overall plan with ‘smartish’ goals, and I also compare and adapt the plan with reality each month. Time management is easy: make a list of tasks and time slots and stick to the plan. Better organisation is easy as well: review the list of tasks from above and be realistic with what you can achieve in the given time – everything counts. Make sure you have all you need for that task ready to go at the allotted time, review and repeat.

So WTF is the problem … well, let’s see how I do next week :).

Progress log

Art(work):  More sketches, exercises, and progress on paper mache … not meeting my targets.

Promotion and social media: Also not good enough …

Editing and rewrites:  3361 words – approx. 670 words per day … better than last week, but still under the 1000 words per day / 5 days a week target :(.

Renovations: Progress on wardrobe: made plan, side wall is built up to the plaster boards, and materials for the front frame are bought.

Garden: Worked on the east border, some levelling, and more thinking on how to progress.

Footnotes


A day after I wrote this post, I found a video on YouTube – like one does – called The drawing advice that changed my life by Australian Campbell Walker’s Struthless channel. It screams clickbait but is worth watching :). And now, no more procrastinating.

 

Week 32 – Celebrating the little wins

I admit keeping this blog going is getting hard … I feel I am so far behind I can’t even see the tunnel anymore … ouch. But resilience is the mantra of this year, so here we go. 

Good news first: I completed my first painting in years! It was not an easy journey. The first version did not turn out quite right – the woodgrain and staining were too busy and ‘woodish’. I switched to a smaller salvaged plywood board, stained it ‘moody dark’, and changed the colour pallet to match an older painting that conveyed the atmosphere I am after. 

I also reviewed the idea to anchor the character by adding plant motives around it – nice idea, but it’s not me. My characters are solitary or bring their imaginary friends; they sometimes carry gifts or are surrounded by strange symbols; if I want to change that, the leavy bits were not the right way to go. This lesson was underpinned when I tried to use the seedling motives you can see in other paintings and almost had to start all over a third time – one sleepless night and an early morning of meticulous sanding with 900-grain sandpaper saved that day. 

Now, the sleeping beauty is anchored by a couple of dream leaves, a red moon, and a crystal – therefore the title The tree, the moon, and the crystal.

Work in progress - The tree, the moon, and the crystal (painting by minu)
Work in progress – The tree, the moon, and the crystal (painting by minu)
Work in progress - The tree, the moon, and the crystal (painting by minu)
Work in progress – The tree, the moon, and the crystal (painting by minu)

Progress log

Art(work):  One ‘completed’ painting. More sketches and exercises … not too bad.

Promotion and social media: Nada :(.

Editing and rewrites:  2801 words – approx. 570 words per day … well under the 1000 words per day / 5 days a week target. Ouch.

Renovations: There is no way feasible way to insulate the floor, so I switched to finishing the living room.

Garden: Section 3 in the garden is ‘finished’. Yay!  Plan for Section 3B is in progress … .

Week 31 – More running in circles …

Week 31 – Okay, week 31 was not a week for creative success. I lost the never-ending battle with the house renovations taking up way too much of my time and mind space completely last week – I caved in, desperate to complete the exterior painting … which I did … so yay for that, I guess.

I made progress on the first painting in the new series but only to discover that the colour palette is not what I had in mind … so back to the drawing board … yikes.

I am struggling to create a distinguishable style across the sculptures, painting, and printmaking. And the only way out of this is to shut up and put in the hours. I am thinking about starting a small challenge. 12 works in 12 days … something doable to get into a routine.

Celebrating the little wins - sunflower in one of the new beds
Celebrating the little wins – sunflower in one of the new beds

Progress log

Art(work):  I am the circle, and the circle is me, and around we go.

Promotion and social media: Another so la la.

Editing and rewrites: 2853 words – approx. 570 words per day … well under the 1000 words per day / 5 days a week target. Again! (And even worse than last week … buhuhuhuuuu.)

Renovations: Exterior paint – Completed! It only took me three summers! Piece of cake …

Garden: More work on the little woodblock patio. Clearing of Section 3B is in progress so that I can start on that … .

Week 30 – New paintings to come!

Week 29 – Now that the latest set of paper mache sculptures are listed on Etsy and Felt, I started a new series of paintings. Exciting! I was running in circles of the last 6 month trying to find a new direction … or better a way forward with my artwork. Eventually, the way forward seems to be to go back to the beginning. My first exhibition in Wellington was comprised mainly of paintings on recycled wood, and this is where I picked up the loose ends.

Work in progress - New paintings
Work in progress – New paintings

Now that the latest paper mache sculptures are listed on Etsy and Felt, I started a new series of paintings. Exciting! I was running in circles for the last six month, trying to find a new direction … or better, a way forward with my artwork. Eventually, the way forward seems to be to go back to the beginning. My first exhibition in Wellington was comprised mainly of paintings on recycled wood, and this is where I picked up the loose ends.

Progress log

Art(work):  Paper mache sculpture are listed on Esty and Felt. New series of paintings is in progress

Promotion and social media: I give that a so la la.

Editing and rewrites: 3593 words – approx. 720 words per day … well under the 1000 words per day / 5 days a week target. Ouch!

Renovation: Exterior paint – Two windows are painted. The laundry wall is more or less ready to be painted, new eves and gutter have been prepared as well.

Garden: Work on the little wood block patio is progressing. The last peach tree is planted and the first red tomato made my day.

The first red tomato
The first red tomato

 

Week 29 – Getting things done.

Week 29 – I finished the final touches for the next set of four paper mache creatures! The new winter spirits have little, articulate arms, which took a while to figure out : ). The photoshoot took ages, but the super simple, new set-up is proofing to be faster than the light tent.

The first winter spirit is listed on the minu online shops on etsy and felt.

Writing and renovation are crawling along, but overall, I feel this week was an achievement. There is an end in sight for the external painting, which took ridiculously long … I think I started over three years ago … ouch. Well, I hope to achieve 98% completion in February – 2% are reserved for the too-hard bucket.
So … things got done.
A few.
Small ones.

Paper mache tribe - photo shoot
Paper mache tribe – photo shoot
Paper mache tribe - photo shoot
Paper mache tribe – photo shoot

Progress log

Art(work): Final touches and photoshoot for four paper mache creatures – one listed on esty and felt.

Promotion and social media: Better, with the most likes on a post on Instagram so far for these little fellows.

Editing and rewrites: 6551 words – approx. 1300 words per day … over the 1000 words per day / 5 days a week target. Yay!

Renovation: Exterior paint – The whole eastern wall is done. Yay! One window has been started. Weatherboards have been replaced on the laundry wall.

Garden: Work on the little wood block patio is progressing. Bed for the last peach tree is prepared.

 

Week 28 – A well deserved rest.

Week 28 – I took a well-deserved rest this week … if I say so myself. Not so much a holiday but a quiet time at home … well, with some external painting and some garden projects. It also gave me some time to consider the next steps; I decided to work on some new paintings on recycled wood next week, and finish the next set of paper mache creatures.

Wonderful relaxing afternoon at #chocolatefish #shellybay and a walk through #seaton and #worserbay
Wonderful relaxing afternoon at #chocolatefish #shellybay and a walk through #seaton and #worserbay
Wonderful relaxing afternoon at #chocolatefish #shellybay and a walk through #seaton and #worserbay
Wonderful relaxing afternoon at #chocolatefish #shellybay and a walk through #seaton and #worserbay

 

Week 27 – Onwards and upwards. Again.

Week 25 – I made better progress this week … with a bit of cheating; this post is two days late, and I ‘finished’ the four new paper mache creatures yesterday :). All four still need the final touches and varnish. The white ones are awaiting further detailing, and I keep changing their feet – stripes or no stripes seems to be the questions and which colours to choose.

Papermache creatures in the making
Papermache creatures in the making
Papermache creatures in the making
Papermache creatures in the making

I finally completed my course work and final project for the Domestika course Illustration Techniques to Unlock your Creativity. Nothing I am super proud of other than the fact that I completed all the exercises with stubborn resilience no matter the often clumsy results.   

Lessons learnt: 

  • Bigger sketchbook (A4 might be a good size)
  • Heavier paper (200+ for water work)
  • Concentrate less on a presentable outcome and more on trying new things 
  • A reminder that monoprints, stencils and collages as fun. 
  • A reminder that I am most comfortable with fluid acrylics, but I can see the usefulness of the techniques discussed in the course for work that is scanned and printed or used as a base for digital illustrations.  

Summary: Back to basics can be helpful. Not all the techniques worked for me, but my main aim was to loosen my tight ‘produce, produce, produce’ knot and to rediscover that making art should be fun :). 

Sketchbook experiments - paper cuts
Sketchbook experiments – paper cuts
Sketchbook experiments - printing with paper stencils experiments
Sketchbook experiments – printing with paper stencils experiments
Sketchbook experiments - trees experiments
Sketchbook experiments – trees
Sketchbook experiments - paper cuts
Sketchbook experiments – paper cuts

So … onwards and upwards. Again.

Progress log

Art(work): Completed course work for one online course, ‘finished’ four paper mache creatures, shipped new orders.

Promotion and social media: Ah well …  shame on me, I guess.

Editing and rewrites: 4481 words – approx. 890 words per day … better than last week … still under the 1000 words per day / 5 days a week target.

Renovation: Exterior paint – The undercoat for the whole eastern wall is done (with lots of help from my partner this week). Yay! The gasmeter has been moved.

Garden: Little brick patio is done, and work on the little wood block patio has started.

Week 26 – the dreaded half time marker

Week 25 – Things are better but not quite back on track, and the dreaded half time marker has been reached. In short, there is a need for more focus on the artwork part – everything else is going okay-ish. There is no way around the fact that I wanted to be in a different place by now. But that said, I don’t feel discouraged. The ‘things need more time as planned’ mantra is more true than ever, as is ‘I am no longer 20 … or 30 … or even 40’ … skies, when did that happen?

Sketchbook - experiments with ink
Sketchbook – experiments with ink

Progress log

Art(work): Progress on my sketchbook experiments, including monoprints using paper cuts and inkwork with nib brushes and bamboo pens.

Promotion and social media: Ah well …  shame on me, I guess.

Editing and rewrites: 3961 words – approx. 790 words per day … better than last week but still under the 1000 words per day / 5 days a week target.

Renovation: Exterior paint – The underside of the eaves are now blood red 🙂 – took three coats of paint and a lot of cursing.

Garden: built the brick edging for the mini seating patio next to the deck and more paving.

Week 25 – I’ll do better next week (ouch)

Week 25 – Ah well … the renovations did get way too much attention last week (again … grrr … totally my own fault). The writing and my artwork took second place, and things slipped behind schedule … so,  let’s say I’ll do better next week. 

Harvest from the garden
Harvest from the garden
Papermache creatures in the making
Papermache creatures in the making

Progress log

Art(work): More progress on more paper mache work, but a bit behind schedule

Promotion and social media: A well …  let’s say I’ll do better next week.

Editing and rewrites: 2857 words – approx. 570 words per day … oops … again, I’ll do better next week.

Renovation: Exterior paint – The trim and the eaves got two coats of white paint.

Garden: moved 1,5 cubic meter of crushed lime from the street to the section (not an easy feat in Wellington), started compacting the lime around the boardwalk and the beds, started paving the mini seating patio next to the deck.

Week 24 – A week of summer

Week 24 – Summer had a short stop-over in Wellington. The city beaches were packed, and I enjoyed a cool bath at princess bay – one of my favourite south coast beaches.

For now, things are back on track, and more paper mache work is in progress. 

Papermache creatures in the making - image by minu
Papermache creatures in the making

 

Papermache creatures in the making - image by minu
Papermache creatures in the making

Hopefully, the first set of four creature will be ready for a photo shoot next week.

Progress log

Art(work): More sketching and progress on more paper mache work

Promotion and social media: A bit more targeted efforts this week … . I will concentrate on Instagram and Pinterest for now.

Editing and rewrites: 5236 words – approx. 1000 words per day (and 150 more than last week … one needs to celebrate the small wins)

Renovation: Exterior paint – The priming along the eastern wall is more or less completed.

Garden: ‘boardwalk’ in Section 3 is prepared for gravel, two new mini beds are planted (grasses and succulents along the ‘boardwalk’), started to level area for new mini seating patio next to the deck.

Week 23 – 2021 here I come

Week 23 – goodbye 2020, hello 2021 … I guess. While covid-19 rampages through the rest of the world, we sit here on our island and are complaining about a cold and wet summer … it feels – not so much wrong, but strange; like drifting further and further away from everything else.

The halfway point of my one-year sabbatical is coming closer, and there is no denying that at the end of 2020 ‘things’ started to slip through my fingers – so new year, new – or a timely adjusted – plan.

What will be different: I decided to revert to a Monday to Sunday schedule on my sprint planWednesday did work to a point, but Wednesdays turned into Thursdays, Thursdays turned Fridays, etc. So, new plan – Monday and Sunday stand-ups (with myself as the only participant :P) and Sunday blog posts.

So stay, tuned … 

Progress log

Art(work): Sketching and start on new paper mache tribe

Promotion and social media: random efforts at best …

Editing and rewrites: 5086 words – approx. 1000 words per day

Renovation: Exterior paint – 2-meter gap-filling and priming along the eastern wall, Interior paint – prep and painting in the living room (ceiling 50% done).

Garden – a new bed planted (letters and herbs), surface levelling in preparation for ‘boardwalk’, start on ‘boardwalk’.

 

Week 20 – Happy Holidays!

Week 20 – 2020 is nearing its end – nobody could have foreseen what the fates would throw at us at the start of this year, and I think most of us feel like good riddance. The last orders are shipped and, as I write this post-Xmas, the public holidays are more or less done, and New Zealand prepares itself for the summer break.
Only there is no summer really … instead, we are huddling in front of the wood burner! Ah well, the sun is supposed to return next week.

My Pinterest minu page is set-up, and I am going to fill the boards over the next weeks – feel free to follow me! I added Ratty, Wind in the Willows – Soft sculpture (Plush) and Moleshe, Wind in the Willows – Soft sculpture (Plush) to the online artwork catalogue. I made no headway with finding a new approach to my printmaking endeavours, so I decided to park this for a while and explore a more painterly approach to my new illustration series.  While working on the colour scheme, I discovered an unexpected love for some bling :).

Colour experiments for new series, sketchbook by minu
Colour experiments for new series, sketchbook by minu

I haven’t dared to look at the sprint plan for the last two weeks – it’s going to be red, red, red. Having said that, I feel strangely positive that things will fall into place over the next weeks.

So … a belated Happy Holidays and a happy summer break!

 

 

 

 

Week 19 – Upwards and onwards

Week 19 – Ratty and Mole-she moved into their new home so I can show you some pictures. The brief for the custom order was to create Ratty and Mole plush sculptures based on the characters in The Wind in the Willows – only Mole is a Mole-she. 

Ratty and Moleshe - plush sculptures by minu
Ratty and Moleshe – plush sculptures by minu
Ratty and Moleshe - plush sculptures by minu
Ratty and Moleshe – plush sculptures by minu
Ratty and Moleshe - plush sculptures by minu
Ratty and Moleshe – plush sculptures by minu

On all other fronts, the sprint plan remains red – it will require a reshuffle for the coming year … ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

The good: I have finished the editing and rewrites of two more chapters or 6321 words last week. After my neighbour’s builder for the retaining wall and fence along our sections did not show up for about three months, I got a young landscaping business to step in and do the deed. The retaining wall is up, and the fence palings are installed as I write this post. Let’s hope it will last.

Skills learnt this week: How to repair a water blaster when it does not start up … flush any trapped air in the system! 

 

Week 18 – Resilience

Week 18 – Resilience is one of my favourite English words. I remember using it as a mantra when I first arrived in New Zealand and found seemingly insurmountable obstacles around every corner. 

resilience | rɪˈzɪlɪəns | 
noun [mass noun]
1 – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
2 – the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity

For me, resilience doesn’t mean to toughen up and move on whatever life throws at you, but to take the road less travelled while keeping your authenticity and integrity – a sense a staying true to oneself. 

Now, based on the Science of Storytelling by Will Storr, we are all biased, tribal barbarians unable, or at least struggling, to change. I would not dismiss his notion any day and thoroughly enjoyed the book, a must-read for writers of any genre; however, the arguments in the book around how our brains resist to review long-held believes and support the tendency to retreat into a narrow group of like-minded people, is a timely reminder that there is a long-known and fatal flaw in how social media enable and emphasises our pre-programmed behavioural deficits. Combined with Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers, my reading / listening week was equally filled with doom and gloom and food for the mind and made me want to shut-up and write.

Not that much writing happened. 

The list of excuses is very long. There are good excuses and bad excuses, but all excuses are in vain, and resilience is required given a now completely red sprint board … #ouch.

Directions, painting by minu

The good: I am super happy with my two custom order soft sculptures (photos to come soon), and I keep my fingers crossed that the customer is satisfied with her purchases. More paper mache creatures are sold and shipped, and on days I don’t need to worry about money or waste my time by being upset and helpless in lieu of insurmountable stupidity, I feel incredibly fortunate and privileged in the here and now.

Directions, painting by minu

Skills learnt this week: Not so much a skill but what you might call experiences as in the sense of stuff you never wanted to know, and, in particular, how your local council can decide that something infringes on your rights but has no adverse effect on you without so much as due diligence – who needs a survey plan when you can use google maps, eh? Neither do they feel the need to consult or notifying you about their decision … so beware when a digger arrives out of the blue on your neighbour’s property … #sigh.

The Badger, painting by minu

So … breath in … calm, beautiful thoughts … release … breath in … resilience oooohhhhhmmmm resilience … release … repeat.

Week 17 – how bad can things get?

Week 17 – I used to love watching George Clarke’s Renovation Man TV shows on Youtube. For those of you that do as well, you’ll remember the dark-night-of-the-soul moments when all seems to conspire against our heroes: tears are flowing, tools are thrown against walls, and the world as a whole is ending in the staged reality TV format we all like to live through vicariously. This is about the point my renovations have reached.

My evil neighbours turn out to have previously unknown, unsurmountable villain superpowers, and all is lost. So the hero of this little venture spent week 17 crying and cursing and in utter misery, until a moment of enlightenment after she sent a text containing an f-word to the said evil neighbour and started shouting at a builder. 

A shortlist of epiphanies: 

1 – You don’t send texts containing the f-word – or the c-word, or the b-word – to your neighbour. You reserve these word for conversations with your friends – people that you love and that get you and are members of your universe in general and your tribe in particular. 

2 – You don’t shout at random people either – again you do that with people that share the same universe as you do … and maybe a select few members of your family. 

3 – In troubled times, you need to be extra kind to yourself and the people that are close to you. They love you, you love them, and they are not the enemy. 

4 – Even with all the Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom combined, life will throw you in a river of shit from time to time, and you will need to paddle to keep your head above the water. 

Being upset and drowning in self-pity takes a lot of time, so I better run now and start to concentrate on the things that really matter … like making two stuffed heroes that I am sure will live in a very lovely and kind home and very seldom encounter super villains too big to topple. 

Badger, by minu

Skills learnt this week: Not so much a skill but the realisation that I am human with all the flaws, rough edges and pain that condition entails. 

So let’s hope this is as bad as things get and mistress fate throws in a few silver linings! 

Week 16 – ah, well ….

Week 16 – More of the garden beds are completed, the second apple tree is planted as are the guava and blue berry bushes and the few rhubarb plants that survived the resettlement process – who would have thought rhubarb is so fickle? Other than that … I have to admit my sprint plan looks quite red #blush.

My only consolation is that the builder that is supposed to built the retaining wall and fence seems to be in hiding … I don’t think anything is going to happen there this side of the holidays.

I am now tracking the process on the book in greater detail and I only managed to edit 3732 words 40% of the weekly target … #ouch.

New skill learnt last week: installing weathered steel edging around garden beds and carving a reed or bamboo pen.

Sketchbook experiments 2020
Sketchbook experiments 2020

So far, my experience with the courses on domestika.org is positive, and I have subscribed to another Adolfo Serra class. My sketchbook experiments are progressing and I re-discovered that I hate don’t like watercolour pens – the only exception might be the black one – but love ink and dips or fountain pens. I am not 100% sold on the water brushes I bought, but they are a much cheaper and – in my opinion – a better alternative to the watercolour pens. To my surprise, I am not opposed to the use of oil pastels.

Sketchbook experiments 2020
Sketchbook experiments 2020

This week, I am planing to move on to mono prints, stencils, and paper cut-outs.  If this week is more productive than week 16 … ah well …  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I guess.