Playing Around

I had some free time sitting around in the doctor’s office the other day to play around with some mandalas and color. Still dealing with my medical issues, but at least the mandalas turned out well! 😛

I started out with a mandala that I thought looked like a quilt block – all straight lines and angles. My color palette selection could have been better, but I do like how the colors highlight the various pieces of the mandala. After some reflection, I think next time I will add more colors into the outer layer – some lighter colors in those lines would make a big difference in the overall appeal, I think.

This mandala was one that I used while trying a different coloring route. Rather than coloring in the empty spaces, I put color in the lines of the mandala itself. I would like to try this one again, but with some bolder colors next time. I like how it turned out, but wish the colors weren’t quite so muted. Something to remember for next time! 😀

What Have I Learned?

Here is the first mandala I published on this blog. I thought it would be interesting to compare it to my latest mandala and decide whether I can see any growth from the start to where I am now in my drawing.

This is my most recently published mandala. I am happy to say that I can see growth and development from where I started. My lines are cleaner, more distinct, and more assured. Even though this latest mandala is not my favorite, it does have a coherence that my first one does not.

It’s definitely been a learning process, and I’m still learning with each mandala I draw. Some day I’ll gather them all together and put them in a book.

Some day. 😀

Playing with Color

I spent some time this week playing around in Procreate with some of my mandalas. It’s always interesting to me to start coloring them in and see what works and what doesn’t. If I was just printing the mandalas out on paper and using colored pencils, they would all work.

But if I’m coloring them digitally (with Procreate or another app), sometimes how I’ve created the mandala causes issues when doing so. For instance, the net sections I left white above, because coloring them in using Procreate isn’t as easy as dragging and dropping the color like I do with most sections.

It’s a good exercise for me, so that I know when I create the next mandala what to do or avoid. Case in point – the circles on the inner layers of the above mandala. I used white to create them, so you can’t color them in digitally, because they are already white, even though it just looks like open space to color.

You can see the same use of white in this mandala to create the circles. Had I used the eraser to create the circles, the background color would show through them. Instead, you get this stark white on top of the layered gradient background.

An interesting effect, but definitely something I need to keep in mind when I am creating the mandalas. Draw and learn, right? 😀

Enjoying Life

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It’s been quite a little while since I felt like I had something to say here. Life is busy with other projects and – well, you know how it goes. 😀

While I’ve been working hard on other things, it’s been too easy to let this space slide into the background. I don’t know if that will continue or not. I am keeping up with the Monday Mandalas, so at least that’s something!

Life is good – I’m making progress on many of the projects I am currently working on, and it feels good. There have been some frustrations and setbacks, sure, but I am working on things I WANT to do, so even setbacks don’t seem as daunting as they once did.

Things are great at home – everyone is enjoying their summer vacation and trying to avoid thinking about the work that will be in front of us in just a few short months as we return to school. Except for my poor hubby, who works outside all day in this ferocious heat. But we are planning and saving for a family vacation, so he doesn’t mind too much. 🙂

Speaking of saving, we are still working on our journey to being debt-free. We are down to just our mortgage and one car loan, and we are paying extra on both of those every month. I hope to have the car loan paid off well before the end of the year, so fingers crossed! Even though we are paying extra on the remaining debts, we are still managing to ‘pay ourselves first‘ and put some money away in savings every month. Some is earmarked for specific things – like college tuition and vacation – but the rest is going into a rainy day/emergency fund. Just in case, because you never know.

On the miniature front, I haven’t painted anything lately. I’ve been busy with my newest project, which is my diamond painting YouTube channel. Though I jokingly call it my ‘obsession,’ the truth is that discovering this hobby/form of therapy has saved my sanity in a lot of ways.

For the first time in a long while, I am happy where I am. I have plans for the future, of course, but the present is good, and I’m remembering to BE present and enjoy it. I hope you’re doing the same!

Feeling Good

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It’s been a good couple of weeks for me. I’ve been trying to make some pretty big changes in my life, including trying to be more fit and healthy. Of course, that goal also involves losing weight, but I’m trying (and learning) to not make it all about the number on the scale.

I signed up for Noom about a month ago, and it’s going okay. I’m not over the moon about the program, but I have seen results from the effort I’m putting in. My disappointment is that the effort from others, particularly the ‘support coach’ they have assigned me, is pretty lacking. The ‘cohort group’ they put me in doesn’t appear to have been made with any thought other than our date of sign up.

After I voiced my concerns to my coach, she asked how she could help – and then promptly went on vacation for 2 weeks. :/ So it’s been a bit disheartening to not have all the support that was promised when I signed up. However, I am going to see the program through (and not just because they’ve already hit my bank account for the fee). I do genuinely want to make changes in my lifestyle so that I can get where I want to be.

So far I’m exercising more, eating less, and feeling more energetic. Which is good, because I have a lot of plates spinning in the air right now. I have this blog, my Etsy shop, my YouTube channel, as well as my ‘real life’ tasks, like work and taking care of my home and family. I’ve also launched a second YouTube channel for my diamond painting addiction, and I am knee-deep in everything diamond painting whenever I have a spare moment. 😀

The school year is almost over, which means that hopefully I can devote more time to my other projects, including the last batch of miniatures I have left to paint. I’m looking forward to the summer and hopefully a move north sometime in the near future!

Hectic, But Good

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It’s been a hectic week for me. Work has been crazy because we had Parent-Teacher conferences this week. Which means I have to work several evenings, so my schedule gets thrown out of whack.

But it’s all good, and now it’s over. 😀 I’m still trying to make various changes in my life, including getting healthier and working on other projects. I did farm out my quilt/blanket projects to someone else, which lifted a huge weight off of me. The pieces for those projects have been languishing around my house forever, so getting them on track to be finished feels amazing, even if there is some slight guilt for not doing it myself. :/

Since I am having someone else complete those projects for me, I can focus on other things – like my baby YouTube channel where I draw mandalas real time on screen. Click the link and see what you think – maybe like and subscribe while you’re there? 🙂

There was also some good news this week. After completing our 2020 taxes, we are getting a refund. One that will allow us to finally pay off the last of our remaining credit card debt! Once that is done, our only remaining debt will be our mortgage and one car loan. It feels like it took forever to get here, but I am so excited to finally see that last credit card bill!

That means we can start taking the money that would have been applied to that debt every month and start doing other things with it – like investing and/or saving it. It’s taken years, but it definitely feels like we have rounded a corner with our debt. My oldest graduates college in May, so that is another huge load off of us. I’m extremely proud that there will be no student debt on her shoulders when she graduates.

I posted before about paying yourself first and since the beginning of 2021, I have been doing that. Once we get paid, I immediately take 10-15% of our pay and put it in savings. I get to feel better about watching that savings balance grow, and we are still able to pay all of our bills (including extra on debts). And since that money is gone immediately, we don’t miss it – which means we have been spending more than we should anyway.

It has also been really great to buy things and pay cash for them. A few months ago we were able to purchase a new smartphone for my husband and pay for it in full without having to do a payment plan with our phone provider. And when our dishwasher finally became so loud you couldn’t hear the TV over it, we were able to go to the store and pick out a newer, quieter model. (Confession – it did get put on the store credit card, but we have the cash and will be paying it off in full when I receive the bill – we saved 15% on the price by doing it that way.)

I’m excited about all of the changes in my life so far. I can’t wait to see what is waiting for me next!

More Dots!

In addition to the regular Monday Mandalas I draw, I also like to play around with dotted mandalas.

I first saw this technique on a YouTube channel, and she uses physical paints rather than making digital designs. However, the concepts are the same, and I’ve had a lot of fun playing around in Procreate with them.

I like the color palette of this one, though the middle of it does remind me of an old rotary phone dial. 😀 Using Procreate for these makes it really easy to make the dots all a uniform size – I’m sure there’s much more of a learning curve when doing these with paint.

It is relaxing to just play around with the colors and sizes and patterns when making these. Now that I think about it, it’s kind of reminiscent of diamond painting. Or maybe I just have diamond painting on the brain. 😛

It’s always amazing to me how differently these all turn out. This color palette reminds me of Dippin’ Dots – you know, that ice cream treat that’s made out of various flavors of dots mixed together? Not sure what flavor this would be – Neopolitan, maybe? In any case, it’s fun and relaxing to sit down and just doodle some of these into existence.

Introverted Hermit on YouTube

Getting a YouTube channel up and running has been a goal for a while now. However, I just never seemed to get it done. So instead of dreaming about this fictional channel and all the fancy (translation: expensive) equipment I’d need to do it, I decided to just get it done.

I sat down and filmed myself drawing with what I had – my phone, my iPad, and some ok lighting. Am I making mistakes?

Oh, yeah.

But I’m learning from them. And that’s the point, right? For instance, I’ve already learned that you can’t upload a video longer than 15 minutes unless you have ‘verified’ your YouTube account. I’m not sure why I have to do that, since really all they want is a phone number, which Google already has.

In any event, I haven’t taken that step. It doesn’t generally take me longer than 15 minutes to draw a mandala, so I don’t need to – yet. I have taken the step of ordering a soft box light to help with my lighting issues. I can’t seem to find a good/comfortable place to draw that doesn’t result in some kind of glare or reflection from the light.

I’ve also learned that dealing with music on YouTube is a pain. I don’t want my videos to be silent, but music ain’t cheap. I’ve looked at a couple of options for *gasp* subscription services for this, but I decided I want to wait for a bit. YouTube has free music options, although they are admittedly not great. But they are free. 😀

So right now I film, use iMovie to edit/remove the audio and then upload to YouTube. Then, I find free music to use and add it. Then I wait a million years for YouTube to process the videos with the added music. THEN I can schedule/post the video.

Finding songs longer than 2-3 minutes also took some searching. And, while I’m not thrilled with the music I found, it’s free and I don’t have to worry about downloading the same song EVERY TIME I want to use it with a video. (Some of the subscription services make you do this – which, to me, misses the whole point. I didn’t want to download a file every time I made a video, so for now, I’m making do with what I have – access to YouTube’s free (albeit not great) music library.)

Filming with my phone has also been an experience. I have an older phone, so there isn’t a lot of space on it for filming videos. I can film one video at a time – then I have to delete it before I can film another one. And then I had to learn how to really delete the videos, because Apple. :/

Luckily, my husband gifted me his old phone. The screen is cracked, but since I’m just using it to film, it doesn’t matter. And since no one is using it as a phone, there’s nothing on it, so there’s lots of storage space. 😀

Now I can film several videos at once when the creative mood strikes, rather than being forced to do everything one step at a time.

I’ve gotten several done and uploaded to YouTube, so if you want to head over and check them out, click here. These are different mandalas than the ones I do for Mandala Monday, so they won’t be repeats of what you see here.

I am debating whether I want to add the mandalas from the videos to my Etsy shop. They are not necessarily drawn with coloring in mind, but I think many of them would work nicely. Something to think about while I revamp my Etsy listings. 🙂

If you like what you see in the videos, don’t forget to like and subscribe!

Making a Plan

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My thoughts are all over the place today, rushing full-spreed through my brain. I also have a migraine, so that makes it so much more fun. :/

Yesterday I was determined to be productive, and I was. I ‘adulted,’ as the kids call it, paying bills, organizing my office, and marking off things on my to-do list. I got so much done I gave myself a reward and diamond painted for a couple of hours.

Today, my motivation is nowhere to be found. I have a whole list of things I ‘should’ do and I don’t ‘feel like doin’ anything,’ as the song says. I do just wanna lay in my bed. Alas, the real world beckons. I have to go into work today. I am already prepping for classes in January, though I still don’t know whether they will be in person or remote. In any event, I need to get the prep done, so into work I will go.

I’ve also been trying to make myself some concrete goals for my online business ideas. I have so many ideas running around in my brain that I end up doing nothing because I can’t figure out where to start. So, I’m going to take some of the advice I give my students and break things up into smaller chunks. That way the task doesn’t seem so overwhelming. I try to set three goals a day for myself when my motivation takes a hike. If I get those three things done, then I can call the day a win. 😛

I’ve had some of my coloring mandalas listed on my Etsy shop. The other day I discovered that I should probably be calling them zendalas instead of mandalas, since I use a lot of zentangles as elements of my designs. I’ve also decided to add a .png and .jpg file to the listings, so that people can add them into Procreate or other apps for coloring. I may at some point sell them as SVG files as well.

I also want to finally add some of my planner stickers to the shop as well. I’m going to be sitting down and designing them for my own planner, so I might as well get double duty out of them and put them for sale as well. So there’s my to-do list for today – work, add files to the mandala listings, and design my monthly planner stickers. I probably won’t get it all done, but at least I have a plan. Even if I don’t get everything done, I will have at least gotten something done. 😀

And since today is Friday, I can look forward to some relaxing time this weekend working on my latest diamond painting project. I’ve only completed one small section so far, but I can already tell it’s going to be a challenge, as the painting is mostly shades of blue and white. If you’re interested, you can find the painting here.