Sketchbook #41

Art + Craft, Photography, Writing

It’s the end of March! And, since it’s also the end of the first quarter of 2019, this feels like a particularly significant creative check-in. I’m trying to focus on 90-day goals this year, or at least breaking down my bigger goals into smaller milestones, and… well, the end of March is my first big deadline of the year.

Sketchbook #22

Art + Craft, Photography, Writing

I knew going in that April wasn’t going to be a very productive month. There were a million little disruptions to my schedule (this is actually the first full, uninterrupted week I’ve had this month), but I’d planned for them, and I’ve (mostly) been able to work around them.

The story outlines are progressing nicely; I still really love having two different projects on the go. It slows both of them down, of course, but it’s fantastic being able to switch from one to the other when inspiration starts to flag. (And inspiration always starts to flag at some point. It’s inevitable.) For now, I’ve pretty much abandoned the daily freewriting that I was trying—I still haven’t found a way to make it work.

And I’m still looking for another writing project, something low-pressure to work on in my downtime, and that doesn’t require months of world building and outlining. It’s… surprisingly difficult. I’ve got a few ideas, but nothing that’s quite clicked for me yet.

But, yeah: it’s been a pretty good month, despite everything.

Anyway. Photography!

I’m actually really happy with how that’s going this month. The 365 project is still my main focus (though that’s going to start to change, now that the weather is improving) and I don’t think I’ve used a real camera for any of this month’s photos, but I am genuinely proud of some of the photos I’ve taken this month.

In some ways, I kind of like the limitations imposed by using my phone for so many of the pictures. On good days, I start off with an image in my head that I want to create, but I’m still kind of lazy about the whole thing. I could pull out the DSLR and tripod and choose the perfect lens and wait for the perfect lighting. And I’d be pretty much guaranteed to get the shot I’m imagining.

But most of the time, I can’t be bothered. This is supposed to be a quick-and-easy project, and most of the time, I just want to grab my phone and take the picture. Which actually makes me work harder to get the photo I want, and sometimes it doesn’t work at all and I have to come up with an entirely new plan, or I end up with a happy accident that’s so much better than the photo I’d planned.

That’s the good stuff.

I’m struggling with drawing lately. Or… not struggling, exactly. I’m just not feeling it lately. Part of the problem is that I don’t feel like I’ve got a goal to work towards, or at least not one that I can define. ‘Get better at drawing’ (or even ‘get better at drawing people’) is ok, but… it’s kind of vague. I don’t have a specific project to work on, or a reason to want to improve.

At the same time, I’ve been thinking about how I spend my time. Lately, it feels like I’m being “productive”—I’m checking everything off my to-do list—but I’m not actually doing the things I want to be doing. Some of it is kind of obvious (I’m really hating the entire concept of grocery shopping right now), but some of it is just a matter of focussing on the wrong things. And drawing might fall into that category. I’m not sure if all this practice is because I want to draw, or because I kind of want to be someone who can draw. (If that makes sense? I don’t know if it does.)

I need to think about it some more.

And the sewing project that’s been on my list since last fall, and that I’ve been working on since sometime near the beginning of this year… hasn’t gone well. It seemed like it was going well. I was all ready to finish up the assembly. And then it just… didn’t work.

It’s entirely my fault. It’s weirdly complicated for what amounts to a tote bag, and I’ve been improvising the whole thing. In the end, the pieces just didn’t come together the way I’d been picturing.

I’m not sure if I can salvage it, or if I can even make the project work at all the way I’d been planning. I do know that I can make a simpler version of the bag, but… meh. I’ve set the whole thing aside for a while, but I’ll probably come back to it eventually.

So… yeah.

The things that went well in April went really well, and the things that didn’t go well… I’d rather just forget about entirely.

The good thing is, May isn’t nearly the scheduling disaster that April was. I’ve got time. I fully expect to start writing the next draft of the NaNoWriMo novel, and I feel like it’ll move fairly quickly once I start. (I probably just jinxed it, didn’t I?) I’ll be able to really dig into the outline and research for the next story. I’m ready to start work on the painting that’s been kinda-sorta in the works for a couple of years, and I’ve been thinking about a couple others. I’m finally starting to feel inspired photographically, and excuses to get out and take pictures.

And I’ve got some time to think, and to play with my daily schedule a bit. There are things I want to do, with both writing and photography, and I need to figure out how to make them happen.

Sketchbook #19

Art + Craft, Photography, Productivity, Writing

I generally plan to post these creative roundups on the last Monday of each month.

You might’ve noticed that this isn’t the last Monday of the month. Or that I didn’t actually do a post like this at the end of December.

I’ll be honest: I was busy in December, and blogging wasn’t my highest priority in January. The political situation in the States is still taking up most of my attention, and everything that’s left has been devoted to finishing the novel draft that I started in November and starting the two photo projects I’ve decided to tackle this year.

On the bright side: I finished the NaNoWriMo draft! It took a little longer than I expected—the last major set piece, in particular, was tricky to write—but it’s done. The final count is around 90,000 words, 40K of which I’ve written since November ended.

I promised a proper postmortem once the draft was done, and that will be coming soon. I need to take a couple of days to decompress, and then I’ll be ready to think about it.

I’ve also been thinking about what comes next. I am going to revise this particular story (that alone is a small miracle: I actually think the story is worth revising!), but I need to step away for a week or two to get a bit of distance. But I learned over the holidays that two weeks away from writing is just too long; it took almost a week to get my pre-Christmas momentum back. And since it’ll be a few weeks before I’m ready to start the actual revisions on the NaNo story (I think the next draft is going to need a whole new outline), I need something to work on in the meantime.

I’ve been playing with some other story ideas, trying to decide which one to work on next. Two of them in particular feel promising, but they’re both a bit vague right now. I’ll give myself a day or two to not think about writing at all, then see if I can turn one or the other or both into something like a story.

It’s been a good writing month.

It’s been a good photography month, too.

I already mentioned that I’ve started a 365 project for 2017. I already covered my reasoning in the introductory post, so I won’t bother going into too much detail here, except to say that I’m still really happy with how it’s going. It’s only been a month, but I’m still really happy with how it’s going. Are all—or even most—of the pictures brilliant? Yeah, no. But there have only been one or two so far that I’d call completely terrible, and considering how uninspired I’ve felt some days, that’s a pretty good record.

That particular project aside, I’m trying to be a little more intentional with my photography this year. I didn’t take many photos in January (this is always a slow time of year for me), but I’m trying to think about the photos I do take, and make an effort to improve my craft. I’ve been printing some of my work—not just the good pictures, but the ones that I can learn from—and I’m (slowly) learning to keep a sketchbook.

It’s an interesting process, and I’m having fun with it.

Speaking of sketchbooks… it’s taken some time, but I’m starting to get back into drawing again. I set it aside in November so I’d have more time to write, and December got busy, so it hasn’t been a priority for a while. But I’ve been picking it up again, and I’m starting to see a little bit of improvement. (It sort of feels like setting aside my story for a couple of weeks: I need to find some distance in order to see my progress.)

So, yeah: I didn’t really have a solid plan going into January beyond finishing the NaNoWriMo draft, but it’s been a good month. Just a little unfocussed.

My big goal for February is to prioritize my creative work.

And that means eliminating—or at least minimizing—some of the distractions that have been getting in my way. The first thing I’m going to do is to cut out (almost) all news and social media before I’ve reached my creative targets for the day. I’ll probably still check the headlines (just to make sure that the world hasn’t, in fact, ended overnight) and I can check the social media that inspires me rather than drains me, but that’s it. Everything else can and will wait until after my writing and photography and art is done for the day.

It hasn’t been easy (it really hasn’t been easy), but I can already tell it’s going to benefit my work.

So, that’s where I stand going into February. I’m… pretty happy with everything, actually. It’s a weird feeling right now.

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "30. Mixed Media" | Reghan Skerry

Weekly Photo Challenge 2016 | Week #30: ‘Mixed Media’

Art + Craft, Photography

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "30. Mixed Media" | Reghan Skerry

This was one of those weeks when I had lots of ideas, but none that seemed to work out the way I hoped. In the end, I was able to combine a lucky encounter with a ladybug with my recent experiments with hand lettering, and get something that… I don’t entirely hate. It’s not perfect (I was more interested in meeting my deadline this week than hitting “perfection”), it’s barely even finished, but I like it. (I like the original photo a bit more, though. I’ll put it on Instagram soon.)

Sketchbook #14

Art + Craft, Photography, Writing

I think I’m starting to get back into the swing of things.

If you remember, June… well, it wasn’t the best month for me, creatively. I’ve been feeling a bit adrift, and frustrated, and I made up my mind to try to take things slowly in July while I figured things out. (Or, while I tried to figure things out.)

And, generally, that’s what I’ve done.

As far as writing goes, I’ve maintained my 500 words a day, and haven’t pushed myself to increase that. I’ve been thinking about my NaNoWriMo story, and I’ve done some outline work, but I’ve tried not to put too much pressure on myself. I’m starting to realize (like, just now, as I’m writing this) that I know a lot more about this story than I think I do. When I sit down to try to write an outline, I get overwhelmed by all the things I don’t know yet. But when I just jot down my ideas and put them in some sort of order, things are starting to click together and work in ways that I don’t expect. (I also tracked down my old login information for the NaNoWriMo website. I had to reset my password, but somehow the account itself still exists. So that made me feel good. Weird, but good.)

I’m drawing every day, but lately I’ve moved away from the figure-drawing practice I’d been focussing on and spent more time playing with hand-lettering techniques. (Which has been fantastic. I’m still kind of terrible, but I’m having fun again, which makes me actually want to open up my sketchbook and try to get better.)

Now. Photography.

That’s not going well. I did get around to editing the last of the photos from May, which eliminates a huge source of stress. But as far as actually taking pictures goes… yeah. I’m still not feeling it, even with my 52-Week project. I’m trying not to feel too bad about that—and I hope to catch up with some of the backlog this week, without falling further behind—but it still doesn’t feel great, you know?

All that said, I have spent a lot of time this month thinking about my creative process and what I want to get out of it. I’ve started looking at a few new story outlining techniques, trying to find something that works for me and for the story I’m planning. I’ve been thinking about how I can find my enthusiasm for photography again, and how I can maintain it once I have. And I’m thinking about how to motivate myself to do the work that I want to be doing, when it’s so much easier to just watch cat videos all day. (That’s an exaggeration. Kind of.)

So. What’s next?

I’m ready to start increasing my daily word count again. Five hundred words a day is good, but not where I’d like to be. Think of it as the actual physical training that I have to do to be ready for NaNoWriMo after a few years of not really writing. I need to build up my endurance. And I’m going to start moving forward with my story outline—I had some pretty good momentum going when I first made up my mind to do this thing, and I need to find that again. (And I need to do it without freaking myself out again.) I have three months (!!) to turn what is still just an idea—a good idea, but still just an idea—into an actual story with people and a plot that I care about. Right now, it’s just some awesome backstory, a really fun premise, and a couple of cool scenes. I can do it, but it’s going to take work.

For now, I’m going to leave my drawing practice just as it is. I intend to get back to other subjects soon, but the whole hand-lettering thing is working for me right now, and I’m reluctant to let that go while I’m still struggling with so many other things.

And I’m going to try—really try—to find some enthusiasm for photography again. I’ve got a couple of weekly prompts that are going to be a challenge, and that I’m not particularly looking forward to, but… I’m going to try to do them anyway. And I’m going to try to take some photos that aren’t for the 52-Week Project, which would be a nice change. It’s also a good time to update my portfolio, which will at least remind me that I do take pretty good pictures, sometimes.

But my big project right now (which I’ve already been working on for the last few weeks) is making sure I don’t end up a rut like this again. I’m starting to feel better about things, which makes it really easy to just go back to the same habits that got me here in the first place. I’m trying not to fall into that trap. I’ve been reevaluating the goals I set earlier this year, weeding out the things that aren’t really important to me—the things that feel productive, even when they’re stealing time from writing, or photography, or anything that really matters—and finding ways to really move forward on the rest of it. I’m looking at what I want to do in the long term (which has never really changed), but making an effort to focus on what I can do in the short term.

So, that’s where I am this month: still not great, but better than I was in June. Now, I want to build on that: make August just a little bit better than July, without falling back into bad habits.

That’s all I really need right now.

Sketchbook #8 | Reghan Skerry

Sketchbook #8

Art + Craft

It’s been a couple of months since I posted one of these creative updates, so this one’s going to cover December and January—both of which felt like I didn’t really get anything done, but when I actually look back, both turned out to be pleasantly productive.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

First off… the site redesign. I’m really happy with how it’s turned out. (If you’re reading this via email or RSS or whatever, and haven’t seen the new site… please, come take a look!) I’m still working on bits and pieces of it—and the ‘Photography’ section in particular is still very much a work in progress while I sort through years of pictures—but I’ve finished most of the minor tweaks.

I think.

Speaking of photography… that’s actually where most of my creative energy has been going for the last two months. Of course, there’s the Weekly Photo Challenge, which has managed to actually be a challenge, and is pushing me in just the ways I’ve needed. And there’s a second, daily, photo project I’ve been working on since the beginning of the year (I’ll probably talk about that later, but I’m not certain when). And… I’ve had some of my photos (a couple of the Montréal pictures) printed. Which really shouldn’t be a big deal (I grew up shooting film, and getting my pictures printed all the time), but it kind of is. I—like a lot of people—tend to leave my digital photos on the computer, and never really see them unless it’s on a screen. Which is a mistake. I’m really happy with the prints, and, more importantly, so is the person who got them for Christmas. 😀

That’s the big stuff. Since the year began, I’ve been easing back into drawing (which got lost in the shuffle around Christmas), which has been… ok… and I’ve started working on The Steal Like an Artist Journal. That’s been better. (I have more thoughts on it than just “that’s been better,” but I’m only really getting into it now, and it feels too early to go into detail. I’ll have more to say when I get further into it.)

Like I said: it hasn’t felt like the most productive two months, and I’m still kind of reeling from losing one of my most important creative heroes. But despite everything—and despite the month-long existential and creative crisis that always hits me in January—I’m happy with the work I’ve been doing, and I’m starting to get excited about what I’m going to be doing in the next few months.

Snapshot #34 | 10 Things for 27 September 2015

Personal

Currently…

1. getting… ready to cut my hair. It’s definitely time, but I seem to need to talk myself into it.
2. rearranging… the kitchen. I don’t have nearly enough counter space.
3. breaking… out the scarves and fingerless gloves.
4. filling… up my sketchbook. I don’t think I’ve ever filled a sketchbook cover-to-cover before. (Granted, there’s a six-year pause in the middle, but that’s not the point.)
5. slacking… off a bit. I didn’t mean to, but I’m not too worried about it. I’m getting back on track now.
6. feeling… productive. (This weekend. Not necessarily in general.) And ambitious. (In general. Not necessarily this weekend.)
7. making… bread. We’re into that odd time of year when I’m baking bread one week and making ice cream the next. (I love this time of year.)
8. thinking… about Art and Life and how I want them to fit together. (Pretentious? Yes.)
9. checking… things off my list.
10. adding… more things too my list.

Sketchbook #3

Art + Craft, Writing

Recently, I started sharing updates and behind-the-scenes looks at the various creative projects I’m working on: writing, painting, photography, whatever works I happen to have in progress. It’s probably going to take a couple of tries before I figure out the format, but you can expect to see these Sketchbook posts on the last Monday of each month. Love it? Hate it? Have something else you’d like to see? Tell me what you think!

Sketchbook #3 | reghanskerry.com

Old-school editing: printed copies and a red pen. Not sure if it’s any more effective than just doing it all on the computer.

I’m not going to lie: the last few weeks have been a struggle creatively.

I lost two weeks to a stupid summer cold (summer colds are always the worst), and then just when I started to come around, I got distracted by travel plans. Doing anything creative has been difficult.

But I’ve been trying. And now that the major plans are in place for the trip, it’s been getting easier to focus.

I’m back to writing (almost) every day. I’ve been working on a few different projects (because I keep finding shiny new things to explore), and I’ve started serious editing work on the scene-turned-short-story I mentioned last month. Some of it has been terrible (I have a hard time writing dialogue-heavy scenes that don’t suck. I mean, the actual dialogue is decent, but I tend to forget about all the stuff going on in between… this might be why I kind of enjoy the screenplay format), but when it’s good, it’s really good.

I can’t remember the last time I was this happy with anything I’d written.

Drawing isn’t going quite so well. Nothing terrible, but… every time I put active effort into improving my skills, I hit a wall. Things go well for a little while, and then suddenly, I just… stop seeing any progress, and I get frustrated.

I’m at that point right now.

Now, the good thing is, this time I know that this is a pattern I fall into. I know that I just have to keep working on the particular techniques that I’m having trouble with, and eventually, I’ll start to move forward again.

It’s going to be boring. It’s going to be annoying.

But I will get past it eventually, and then it’ll start to be fun again.

I’ve got another disruption coming up this week, and I don’t know how much time I’m going to be able to spend writing or drawing. But It’s going to be a really good week for photography, so I’m not going to worry too much about anything else.

Sketchbook #2 | reghanskerry.com

Sketchbook #2

Art + Craft, Writing

Recently, I started sharing updates and behind-the-scenes looks at the various creative projects I’m working on: writing, painting, photography, whatever works I happen to have in progress. It’s probably going to take a couple of tries before I figure out the format, but you can expect to see these Sketchbook posts on the last Monday of each month. Love it? Hate it? Have something else you’d like to see? Tell me what you think!

Writing is still going surprisingly well. I’ve mostly been focussing on one scene-that-turned-into-a-short-story (it still fits within the universe of the other writing I’ve been doing, but it stands on its own better than it slides into the rest of the story), but I’m making progress on the story as a whole, too. Though I still haven’t gotten round to, you know, outlining the thing. And I need to do that soon; the ideas are growing faster than I can keep up with them, and I need to put them in some sort of order or the whole thing’s going to turn into a mess.

I haven’t been painting much this month (though I did buy the canvas for the giant piece I’ve been thinking about), but I have started actively drawing again. It’s been a few years since I really put any effort into drawing (before this recent work, the last page in my sketchbook was dated ‘2009’, so…) but I’ve been feeling the lack, lately. I want to move beyond the semi-abstract paintings I’ve been doing, I want to be able to storyboard some of the photo projects I’m thinking about—hell, I’ve got a weirdly-ambitious video project rolling around in my head, and I need storyboards for that before I even think about starting it.

Of course, since it’s been so long since I put any real effort into drawing, I’m kind of rusty. I’m back in skill-building mode, and trying to approach things the same way I’ve been doing with my writing: take it easy, try not to be too much of a perfectionist, and trusting that, eventually, I’ll be ready to tackle some of the projects that I’m so excited about.

Snapshot #26 | 10 Things for 7 June 2015

Personal

30 May 2015

Currently…

1. wanting… to just spend all my time making cool stuff.
2. playing… this Salt N Pepa & The Stooges mashup, over and over again. I can’t stop. (via)
3. looking… for a basic recipe for hamburger buns. I’ve got recipes, but I want something fairly simple (and relatively quick. I’m willing to sacrifice some taste for convenience in this case.)
4. catching… up on the current season of Orphan Black.
5. getting… back into drawing. Or… I’m trying to. (For various reasons. I’ll probably go into more detail soon.)
6. realizing… that I really need to build up my summer wardrobe. (On the bright side, it’s not feeling remotely like summer yet, so I’ve got time.)
7. thinking… about how I approach creative projects, and some of the assumptions I work under. I’m reassessing a lot of things. It’s good.
8. feeling… you know that weird sense of loss that comes with finishing a really good book? This isn’t quite that, but that’s the closest description I can come up with.
9. needing… a few sunny, dry days in a row. It doesn’t even need to be warm; I just need to be able to paint the patio furniture. (But! I’ve managed to get my planting done! So that’s good.)
10. being… a bit of a bad influence. No regrets.