I Saw the Light

I’m not sure whether to call this a win or a fail, so I guess I’ll call it a tie. I posted before about my frustrations trying to take a picture of one of my mandalas that I had colored.

Creating the mandalas, both the ones for this blog and the ones I’m designing for my (someday) online store, has been a huge creative outlet for me. When I started doing them for this blog, it was more to have something creative to do and share. It also let me learn how to use my iPad, Apple Pencil, and Procreate app better.

In just a short few weeks, I have experimented with all kinds of elements and designs and have felt comfortable enough to move on to experimenting with new brushes and effects and such in Procreate. It has made a huge difference to how I create the coloring mandalas – I am much happier with what I am creating now.

Since the ultimate goal is to create mandalas that people can color, I wanted to try some of my designs and see how they worked. The coloring part went great. The getting photos part – not so much.

After several weeks of teeth-gnashing and hair-pulling, I saw someone on social media talking about DIY light boxes that would help you take better photos. I don’t have a good place in my home to take a photo, so I thought, well, I’ll just make my own light box.

So I watched a few videos about how to do that and then decided that by the time I gathered all the materials and put in the time to make one, I could probably just order one. Amazon, here I come!

I found an inexpensive light box for around $25, which was less than I would have spent on materials and time to make it myself. It came with a little tripod to hold my phone, the box, and 4 different colored backdrops. It’s made to refold and travel, but I’ve just left it set up. It has 2 LED light strips that I run off a portable battery charger and it has a hole in the top that I use to take the photos from above.

Image from Gyazo
Photo from Amazon.com

There are a ton of them online and some are even cheaper, though the quality will probably differ as well. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done and I was able to set it up quickly and take the photos I wanted all in about 15 minutes.

So, I’m calling this a win because I did manage to get the photos I wanted of the colored mandalas. However, I feel like I kinda cheated because I ordered the light box in order to do it.

Sitting here writing about it, though, I’ve decided I’m being too hard on myself. Professional photographers use lights all the time and no one considers it cheating, right? So – win!

Stay tuned for posts with the actual photos of the colored mandalas. 😀

Letting Go

img_0087-1People think of failure as the end.

It isn’t.

It’s a chance to start again.

I’ve always been the kind of person who has several projects going at once.  When I was younger, I had the energy for lots of things, but not the time.  The older I get, the more time I have, but the less energy.

So, that means I sometimes have to admit defeat.  Not every project I start will get completed.

And that’s okay.

Failure is how we learn.  My most recent failure taught me that starting over is okay.

Over a year ago, I started to crochet an afghan for my mother-in-law.  It’s a simple pattern, and one I’ve made before, so I know I can do it.  However, this time the pattern was giving me fits.

Every row it seemed like my stitch count got off somehow and I would have to rip it out and start over.  I finally got through about 25 rows.

Or so I thought.

On row 26, suddenly my stitch count was off again, and I couldn’t figure out where.  After ripping out several rows and still finding myself off, I decided to put the project aside for a while.

Fast forward to last week, when I finally picked it up again.  (That old adage – “Out of sight, out of mind” – is apparently true.)

I still couldn’t figure out where I was off.  So I decided to admit defeat.  My frustration with the whole thing was exacerbated by the fact that I didn’t have enough skeins of matching yarn to finish anyway. (I kept telling myself I’d go buy the rest, but I never did.)

So I sat down and unraveled the whole thing.  I now have a large 3-skein ball of yarn.  I don’t, however, have a barely done afghan sitting in my office taunting me.  And when I was done rolling up the yarn, I actually felt better.

I made a decision about the project and now I am able to let the guilt about not completing it go.  My mother-in-law didn’t even know I was making it, so the only person it was bothering was me.  And frankly, I have better ways I can spend my time than feeling guilty.

So if you find yourself lamenting a project you haven’t completed, think about why you are hanging on to it.  Is it because you truly want to work on it? Probably not, or you would have completed it.

In the words of everyone’s favorite ice princess – Let it go! 😀

Mandala Monday 8

Mandala_8This mandala is a little different than the ones I’ve been drawing before.  I’m trying to experiment with various motifs and elements.  Some I like better than others.

I like the interior pieces of this design, but I’m not as happy with the elements towards the outer edge.  Ah, well, that’s why I’m doing this – experiment, experiment, experiment!

You’ve heard that old adage about needing to practice something for 10,000 hours before you’re good at it?  I’m not anywhere close to 10,000 hours yet, so it’s okay if it’s not exactly the way I want it to be.  It gives me something to strive for, and that’s something we all need, I think.

Happy Monday!

Photo Fail

I’ve been working on drawing and coloring mandalas, experimenting with all the different ways to use them so that I can get an idea of what people who purchase them might want to do with them.

I printed out a couple of my Monday Mandalas from this blog and colored them in with my favorite colored pencils.  I wanted to take a photo of them and show you how they turned out.

Unfortunately for me, my photo skills aren’t up to par and apparently neither are my photo editing skills.  I’ve taken a million photos and I can’t seem to get the paper to look white – there’s always a weird yellow cast.  I’ve tried editing the photo, but whatever I do also affects the colors I used on the mandala, which I don’t want.

So, after much frustration and face-palming, I’ve decided that this is a fail that I need to accept and move on from.  The photo itself wasn’t the point, the experience of coloring it in was.

The failed photo:

Colored Mandala MeSee how it’s dark on the right side?  So, clearly, one of the things I need to work on is how to take better digital photos, especially if I’m going to be posting some of my designs for sale on Etsy.

Ignoring the lighting fail, actually coloring in the mandala went well.  This one is a fairly simple design, but that meant that I could color it in quickly, which is nice.  I like how it turned out, even if my photo skills don’t do it justice.

Maybe I’ll try taking some of the photos with my digital camera rather than my phone and see if that works better.  In the meantime, I’m also experimenting with layering some of my designs and turning those into coloring pages.  Hopefully I’ll have something to post about that here soon.

iColorama App

One of the blogs I read uses the iColorama app for digital art.  It looked intriguing and it wasn’t expensive ($3.99 if I remember correctly), so I bought it.  It’s not exactly what I thought it would be and it’s gonna take some time to learn it, but I can’t wait to play around with it.

My Procreate app is more like a scaled-down version of Photoshop for my iPad.  It uses layers like PS, it has a lot of the same filters and options as PS, and it works really well on my iPad, so it’s easy to take my drawing on the go with me.

iColorama doesn’t use layers, but it does have a lot of options for textures, filters, and the like.  I’m still figuring out how it works (hello, YouTube tutorials), but I’ve had fun just experimenting with some of the easy stuff.

(Side note – the iColorama app is the one you want for the iPad.  There is an iColorama S version out there that appears to be for your iPhone – make sure you’re getting the correct one for what you want!)

I tried out coloring one of my mandalas digitally with Procreate, but I wanted to see what I could do with the iColorama app.  Granted, I haven’t had much time at all to play with it, so I really just played with a couple of filters and textures, but it looks like a tool I will definitely use more once I understand how it works. 😀

So I took my Mandala 6 over into iColorama.  Here’s what I ended up with:

IColorama Paper MandalaIt’s the colored mandala I made in Procreate, but I added a texture filter in iColorama to make it look like this was colored/inked/painted on paper.  Pretty cool! Like I said, I still need to spend some time learning how to use iColorama, but I’m excited to have another tool in my box to use when I create.

Mandala Monday 7

Mandala_7Again, more experimentation with variations of shapes, rather than the more traditional circular mandalas.  I think I started off thinking about a feather motif and then it morphed into more leaves and flowers.

That’s all part of the process, I think.  Getting into the feel and flow of creating the mandala, rather than being focused on forcing into something preconceived.

I haven’t actually drawn one just for fun in a while, as I’ve been concentrating on producing ones for a coloring book.  I think I need to draw a couple that are just for fun – find my mandala mojo again!

 

Digitally Coloring Mandalas

I’ve been playing with various options with the mandalas I’ve created so far.  I’ve made a bunch that I’ve posted here on my blog, but I am also working on others that will hopefully go into my Etsy store for sale as digital downloads.

I wanted to see what some of my designs would look like if they were colored in, to make sure that the designs were intricate enough to be interesting to color.  I also experimented with different ways to color them in, since I want to give people options.

I took one of my favorite mandalas so far (Mandala 6) and tried a few ways.  I’ve been using my Procreate app on my iPad to create these mandalas, so I wanted to see what they would look like if I colored them in using Procreate.

I know many people have coloring apps on their phones and iPads, so I thought this would be a good way to see how well my designs worked doing so.

Mandala 6 Colored ProcreateI’m pretty happy with the results.  I think there is a good amount of detail in the design and that it works well coloring digitally.  I can see where I’ve made some mistakes in creating the design, but since these designs weren’t specifically created for coloring, I’m not going to worry over it too much.

It would probably look even better if I had used a variety of colors rather than sticking with a blue scheme, but I had a reason for doing that, which you’ll see in a later post.

I am also hoping to offer the option to purchase my mandalas (together or separately) as stickers, so I need to test out coloring them on sticker paper as well.  If nothing else, I’ve had a lot of fun creating the mandalas themselves, so I’m calling all of this a success! 😀

Mandala Monday 6

Mandala_6So far, this is one of my favorite mandalas that I’ve created.  The lines, the shapes, the symmetry of it, all turned out much better than I anticipated.  I feel like I found a good balance in all of the layers, as well as making it detailed enough to be a good design for coloring.

Speaking of coloring, perhaps I should print some of these out and color them and see how well they actually work. Maybe you could help me out and do the same – and then send me photos of your work to share? 😀

Off to the printer I go. 🙂

Doing It Backwards

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Source Credit: Pixabay

I’ve talked before about how I’m a person who needs routines.  The stability of routines is a comfort to me, but I often find it hard to follow a routine.  It was easier when I had a full-time job, because the job itself required routines – you had to show up on time, lunch was a scheduled time, you went home at a scheduled time.  Since most of my day was scheduled for me, life was somewhat easier.

For many years I was a stay-at-home mom, and I’m thankful that I had the opportunity.  I only work part-time now, and I’m finding it more difficult, especially as my kids get older, to find a routine that works for me.

When my kids were younger, their days consisted of routines (mostly because of school), so it was easier to stay on track, especially when I was also working full-time.  Once I wasn’t, and they were older and able to take more responsibilities themselves, I found myself with time on my hands and no idea what to do with it.

Well, that’s not strictly true.  I had things I wanted to do, I just couldn’t seem to make myself do them.  I mean, I wasn’t working, I wasn’t tied to a job routine, so my day could be whatever I wanted.  Unfortunately, that usually meant my day was either spent mindlessly in front of the TV or reading.  Now, I don’t consider the time spent reading a waste, but I certainly wasn’t getting anything else done – cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.  You know – all those things that make your household run smoothly.

For the past few years, I’ve had a part-time job and that has helped.  The days that I work I am forced into a routine.  However, that still leaves me with much of the week unscheduled and unstructured, and usually me bored out of my mind.  Boredom is bad for me for many reasons – I eat when I’m bored, I get overwhelmed with all the things I think I should be accomplishing, and that kind of thinking sends me a downward spiral.

Finally, I hit that wall.  You know the one – where you finally decide enough is enough and you have to get off your lazy bum and get something done.  Determined to find a way to force myself into a routine, I tried a variety of things.  I tried the Fly-Lady method – which is great, but just doesn’t work for me.  I tried making lists (I’m a list-maker from way back).  I tried Bullet Journaling.  I couldn’t stick with any of them.

I have a ton of empty journals – because I love analog writing.  You remember that, right?  With an actual pencil or pen and paper?  But I never seemed to stick with writing in journals either.  I decided to try something different.  Instead of a never-ending to-do list that only ever seemed to get longer, no matter how much I did, I decided to do it backwards.

I would keep track of things I’d done, but only after I’d done them.  Which sounds kinda crazy, now that I’m writing it down.  But so far, it’s working! At the end of the day, instead of focusing on all the things I didn’t get to, I can see all the things I did.  I’m still not accomplishing as much as I want to with this method, but I’m certainly accomplishing more than I used to, which is the goal, so I’m going to call this one a win!