Miniature Painting

Along with my new obsession with diamond painting, I have continued to paint my trove of forgotten D&D miniatures. I broke down and purchased some of the new contrast paints, and I’ve been building up my colors in those as well as the Vallejo Game Color paints.

I have finally said goodbye to my craft paints and moved to solely using paint made for miniature painting. I’m still learning, but I think I’m getting better?

I started off with some small pieces – some familiars from various packages that I found among the pile of forgotten minis.

First up are the eagle and some sort of tree/woodland creature familiars. The tree was super simple – black primer and some brown and green drybrushing. The eagle had to be glued together and then I used some of the contrast paint on the branch he is sitting on and on his beak. He got a coat of brown, then some tan drybrushing and green on the base.

Familiars 2

The other familiars are a small fairy and a vulture. The fairy was not fun to paint. It is made of plastic and the sculpt was lacking a lot of detail. However, I powered through and got enough paint on it to call it done.  The vulture was another simple and quick job.

Monk

After the familiars, I started working on some of the other plastic minis I had. This monk was purchased for a player at my table, but never got used. Not a lot of detail on this one either, but now she is done.

Next I chose a mini I thought I would have more fun painting.  It was a Hero Forge purchase for a PC my youngest was playing at the time.  Poor Tink sat on the table unpainted for quite a while, then got thrown in a box and forgotten.  But the 3D printed minis generally take paint well and have a nice amount of detail. 

Tink

Again, a simple color scheme, but it did give me a chance to practice painting eyes.  Eyes are so hard to paint, especially with my shaky hands, so if they look close to human, I call it a win. 😛

Following Tink I picked another plastic mini.  I wanted to play around with the contrast paint and see how it took on the plastic.  This mini was supposedly primed, and I wanted to see how the paint performed on it. 

Ranger

The cloak was painted using the contrast paint.  It wasn’t horrible, but I have a sneaking suspicion that repeated handling will end up causing the paint to flake off.  Lesson learned, and I primed all the rest of the plastic minis I had, even if they said they were pre-primed. 

Finally, after struggling with the plastic minis, I chose an old pewter mini to paint next.  I primed it white and then used both contrast paint and the Vallejo paint on it.  It was such fun to paint this one, as there was a ton of detail. 

Dwarf Fighter

I have a soft spot for dwarven fighters, and this one is a favorite of all the minis I’ve painted so far.  I was able to give his weapon, his armor, and his chainmail all different colors, something I hadn’t been able to do before, because my paint colors were so limited.  I love his braided beard and hair – and his bushy eyebrows!

He will certainly get used on our table – if we ever get back to playing face-to-face.  In any case, I can mark these all off as ‘done’ and move on to the remaining pieces.  I’m currently working on a vampire and another ranger.  I’ll post again when I get them finished. 

Diamond Painting Mandalas

I mentioned in a previous post that I had discovered some new art forms for mandalas.  I’ve already posted about my experience with dot mandalas and making them in Procreate.  I loved creating the dot mandalas that way, and I will be making more of them in the future.

Diamond Painting

During one of my YouTube forays, I came across people who were ‘diamond painting.’  I had no idea what it was and I fell down a YouTube hole learning all about it.  Essentially, it is like cross-stitch, but instead of a needle and embroidery floss, you use small gems (diamonds) called drills and create a canvas using them.

I loved cross-stitching, but my eyes and my carpal tunnel keep me from it these days.  After looking at a LOT of videos about diamond painting, I decided I would try it and see if I liked it.  I hopped online and started looking.  I found some simple ones that were mandalas and ordered them, thinking that they would be a good way to find out if I wanted to stick with diamond painting and order more.

I ordered them in April, and thanks to the pandemic, it took until the middle of June for them to arrive.  There were 4 mandalas in the package and each canvas was 30 cm X 30 cm.  Not huge, but big enough for me to see if I liked it.

Diamond Painting Mandalas

I opened the first one and got started.  At first glance, there were a few surprises.  The size was fine, but I had expected the design to be ‘full drill’ – ie, every piece of the design would be filled in with a drill.  Not so.  And all of the mandalas had differently shaped gems, rather than all being round or square.

DP Mandala 1

This particular mandala was annoying, because as you can see, I was short two gems to finish the design.  Not the end of the world, but aggravating.  It did give me an introduction to diamond painting, though – and the was the point.  If I really cared, I could source some extra gems to finish, but I’m fine calling this an experiment.

After finishing the first one, I moved quickly on to the second one.  It went a bit quicker, now that I had an idea of what I was doing.  This one was a bit more fun, as there were more drills and the pattern matched up with the printed design, something that was lacking on the first mandala.

DP Mandala 2

Each canvas has a key on it that tells you which color/shape drills to use on the corresponding grid on the design.  The painting is covered with an adhesive which the drills stick to as you place them.

I was on a roll, so I moved on to the third mandala.  Thankfully, none of them were missing drills or had the designs offset like the first one.  This design looked more intimidating than the first two.

DP Mandala 3

After working on it, I realized it wasn’t really that much more complicated than the two I had already completed, which was a bit disappointing.  I wanted a challenge.  Some of the drills were very small and placing them often resulted in me dropping them on the floor, followed by lots of cursing. 😛

By the time I got to the fourth one, I knew I was hooked.  Diamond painting is a nice, relaxing craft that I can do while my husband and I watch TV of an evening.  The final mandala had a lot more drills, so it took a while longer to complete than the first three.

DP Mandala 4

Ready for More

After finishing up the fourth one, I decided I wanted to try a ‘full drill’ painting, and I also wanted to try using the square drills instead of the round.  I ordered one to make for my nephew, but when it arrived, it had round rather than square drills.  I must have not paid enough attention when I was ordering it.

So I ordered another painting, making sure that it was square drills.  I also ordered a storage kit for all the extra gems from the mandalas, thinking that I could store those and the extras from the next painting in it.

It was smaller than I realized, and after sorting and storing all the extras from the 4 mandala kits, it is now full. :/

I ordered another (larger) storage kit this time.  I’ve already started on the diamond painting for my nephew, so we’ll see how quickly I can get it done.  I’m trying really hard not to just go out and ‘buy ALL the things’ for diamond painting.  I still need to see what options are out there, and what I really NEED.  I am excited to have discovered a new (to me) crafting hobby!

July Planner Layout

I’m behind this month in getting my planners laid out for July.  I set up my budget planner for July last week, but I didn’t get my personal planner set up until this week.

I didn’t want to do the traditional ‘stars and stripes’ for July.  I wanted something different.  So I decided to do a Canadian theme in honor of my husband.  Bonus points for me because July 1 is Canada Day. 😀

It’s a very simple layout.  I found a couple of free designs on Pixabay and used the patterns to plug into my planner template.

IH July 2020 Big Pg 1

I use the Big Happy Planner and this is my template for the headers and footers on both monthly pages as well as date covers and some full boxes.  The red and white is admittedly a plain color scheme, but it works for what I wanted.

June feels like it went really quickly, which is strange, because March and April seemed to take forever.  And I think I missed May completely!

Dot Mandalas in Procreate

I’ve been busy this week working at my job. Everything has to be pulled out, cleaned, and sanitized so that if/when school resumes this fall, all the toys are ready for the children. It’s a huge job, but the satisfaction of making progress on it has done wonders for my mood this week.

Even though I’ve spent nearly every day working, I’ve still managed to find time to explore more mandala art. I’m still drawing new ones for the Monday Mandala series, and I’m working on additional ones for my Etsy store (shameless plug). My diamond painting mandalas finally arrived and I’ve now finished all of those. I’ve been avidly watching YouTube videos on making dot mandalas. Using simple tools like a pencil, a Qtip, and a toothpick, I’ve seen people create some amazing art.

A few days ago, one of the planning YouTubers I follow demonstrated her newfound obsession with dot mandalas and she created one in Procreate. And I thought, Duh! Why haven’t I tried that? So I did. 😀

My first attempt was so awful I didn’t even save it. However, the next attempt was good enough to encourage me to keep going. I’ve mentioned before that I am not good at picking color palettes, so I used some palettes I had stored from previous projects.

I like the color palette and I’m happy with how it all came out. It did take some fussing with settings in Procreate to get the effect I wanted with the dots, but it worked.

The next attempt I got a little carried away. I didn’t realize until I was about halfway through the mandala that I had zoomed in WAY too much at the beginning, so the final mandala is too busy in the middle. But I’m learning from my mistakes.

The last attempt is my absolute favorite of the three, and a lot of that is because I love the color scheme of the design. It has a retro/vintage feel to it that I love. I’m going to keep experimenting with these and perhaps even put some of them up for sale in my Etsy shop as printable art downloads.

I’m debating whether to keep the backgrounds or offer just the mandalas themselves, so people can print them on whatever background they wish. In any case, I’m having a ton of fun drawing them and I can’t wait to make more.

Money is a Tool

When I started my journey towards being debt free, it was because I realized that I am tired of working for ‘things’ that I often don’t enjoy and/or have the time to enjoy.

My husband works 10 hour days and many times it feels like we are passing ships, greeting each other as we go about our daily routines. We’ve had many conversations about what we want our life to look like, and none of them include killing ourselves working to be able to afford the latest new gadget or the biggest house. I like our current house, but it was never intended to be our ‘forever’ house.

I want to downsize our next house. I want to be able to pay less in bills so we can spend more on things we want – whether that is a vacation, books, a new hobby – whatever.

Our current house is a good fit for our life right now, because my children are still living at home. But once they move out, we will be getting a smaller house. My car is over 10 years old, but it is paid off, and that makes it worth more to me than a newer car with a payment. Would I prefer to drive a newer car? Sure, but I don’t want the ridiculous payment that would go with it.

I was watching a financial YouTuber and she made a comment that has stuck with me. “Money is a tool – not a measure of your self-worth.” I think I’ve gotten so used to thinking about what we’re “worth” that I forget money isn’t everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I know money is important. But it is important because having it enables me to do what I want. Experiences are always going to be more important to me than material things. Do you know what is important to you? Or are you killing yourself trying to keep up with the Joneses?

I wonder sometimes if the ‘instant gratification’ culture of today is why so many people are in debt. No one wants to spend time saving up for a purchase, they just want it right now. So what if they have to pay 25% interest on the credit card to buy it?

I’ve tried to instill in my kids the need to budget and save and to consider the future. For example, my oldest wants a new pet desperately. So I’ve had several conversations with her about how expensive pets can be. Our last pet needed back surgery ($3K) as well as the routine costs for things like shots and grooming. Even though it was HER dog, WE paid the bills. (She got him as a gift when she was little.)

While it would be nice to have a pet, I’m not ready to get another one right now. And since she still lives with me, she isn’t getting one either. Although she isn’t happy, she understands the reasoning. Her money right now is better spent saving up for when she is ready to move out and live on her own once she is done with college.

I think people would be happier if they thought of money as a tool to help them achieve their goals and desires, rather than money being a goal itself. After all, you can’t take it with you. 🙂

Busy Bee

The last week has been very hectic. We’ve had a lot of appointments and obligations and I feel like I’ve been running around all week, which means lots of things I normally take care of haven’t gotten done. That leaves me feeling anxious and uneasy, because I don’t like leaving things undone. This weekend is looking like it will be just as busy, so – ugh.

There are always positives to celebrate, though. My husband is getting a promotion at work, which means a pay raise – awesome! 😀 My youngest may finally get to have a graduation ceremony – also awesome. I’ve been diving into my new job as well, which right now just means I’m spending a lot of time sorting, cleaning, and disinfecting so that everything is ready if/when we open up in the fall for students.

We’re still working on paying down our debt – something I hope we’ll be able to do a bit faster now with that pay raise. I’m still plugging away trying to create other income streams for us. My dream is to make a living virtually, so that we can live anywhere we want and still have a stable income. We’re a long way from that, but – baby steps.

I did also have someone ask me about buying one of my Monday Mandalas. In case I haven’t made it clear, the Monday Mandalas are FREE. You can grab them off the blog anytime. They aren’t very hi-res because of storage limitations on WordPress, but they are free. If you want to use them for something, an attribution would be nice, but if you just want to print one out to color or load into your favorite digital coloring app, feel free. 😀

If you’d like something a little more challenging/intricate to color than my Monday Mandalas, you can take a gander at my Etsy shop and see if there’s anything you like. I don’t have many items there at the moment, but I’m hoping to get some added this weekend.

That’s if I can peel myself away from my newest obsession – diamond painting. 😛 I discovered diamond painting one day when I fell down the YouTube hole. I used to needlepoint and embroider, but my carpal tunnel (and my bad eyesight) has made that impossible. Diamond painting is sort of like cross-stitch, but with little sparkly bits called drills. I found some cheap ones on Amazon (they are mandalas, of course!) and bought them to experiment with and see if I liked it before I spent a lot of money on some bigger, fancier pieces. So far – I love it. I’m a little annoyed with the first one (I got a package of 4) because they shorted me two gems for the design, so I can’t finish it. However, I do like doing it, so I’m planning on adding it into my craft rotation.

And, of course, I’m still trying to finish up those darn minis I discovered hiding in the basement. I have quite a few of them done – I just need to find the time to take some pics and get them posted. Maybe after graduation, when I have a few spare moments!

Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.