Weekly Blog 2/18/19: Beauty for Ashes: Receiving Negative Feedback, Processing Failure, and Starting A Period Of Study

Hey guys! It’s Taylor. I’m here with a bit of a difficult blog, on a bit of a difficult topic: some difficult feedback I’ve gotten, and the process I’ve gone through in integrating that information and figuring out “if I suck at the one thing I really want to do, where do I go from here?”

So, basically, a few days back I showed my latest creation, the comic Beauty for Ashes, issue 1, to a friend. He complimented the art and printing, but said finally: “I can’t follow the story. Like, at all.” It was a punch to the gut. I hadn’t realized that with all the corners I cut – reading lots of comics (but not drawing much), only practicing drawing females (to the detriment of learning to draw males), spending years practicing making comics but never really learning the theory behind it – I realized, after this difficult conversation, that my slacking and freeform study had not resulted in me being able to draw comics. It had resulted in being essentially a writer who can’t plot a novel, or a screenplay author who can’t format. I had the passion and the practice and NONE of the study.

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For a few days I languished in despair (intentionally using dramatic language there – I was being dramatic). My whole world felt jumbled. I had spent the past 15 years or so actively trying to become a comic artist, and, to my mind, had failed. Then a thought came to me – one of my favorite quotes:

“If you need a tree, the best time to plant one was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”

Meaning that yes, we may waste time, and yes, it may be too late for some things in some senses – but that doesn’t mean you give up. You still plant that tree, and you water it and make the best of what you can.

So I got thinking: What did I do with other art forms that I have gotten good at (novel-writing, painting, etc)? “Practice,” “study,” and “start small” came to mind immediately. With novels, I studied the craft (taking classes and reading how-to books), I practiced (I’ve written 8 or 10 fiction books depending on whether you count picture books), and I started small (the picture books were my first foray into fiction). With watercolor, it’s been a similar path.

For some reason, I guess I’d thought that my years of striving with comics would result automatically in learning. Turns out practice makes progress, but it works a heck of a lot better if it’s combined with academic study (or at least learning from experts) and starting super-micro.

Thus I’ve been coming up with a sort of course of study for myself, going so far as to also learn about “how to teach yourself stuff in general,” involving books and courses on how to make comics. It includes some of Eisner’s instructional works on sequential art, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and Making Comics, Hirohiko Araki’s Manga in Theory and Practice, and other resources.

The important thing is…I’m going to study. I’m going to do the homework. I’m sad that it’s taken me this long to be ready to do it, but it takes what it takes. For me it took four comics that didn’t make sense – and some incredibly helpful but very painful feedback – to figure out that I need to do the homework, have beta readers, and study – the same as everyone else.

In the next year or so, I don’t plan to release much in terms of comics, but I’ll definitely still be making art, the Tarot deck, and my blog and YouTube content. It will be a year of practice and study, and that’s okay. I’m excited to tackle this, and I’m excited to see where I end up in 2020.

If you’d like to support this whole operation, please head over to my Etsy shop. You can purchase art, prints, even stationery and Tarot accessories, all handmade by me. And if you’re enjoying my site, please hit the follow button on the right to get notified whenever I post a new blog (about once a week).

Wishing you all the best,

Taylor

Monthly Update September 2018 | Tarot Reading, Angelic Divination, Day Job Advancement, and Enjoying Writing Again

Hey everyone, it’s Julian! Have I got updates for you…not much tangible, not much I can post, but lots of news.

First off, since everyone’s going to ask, here’s the latest Tarot cards I’ve painted:

Aside from that project, which yes, is ongoing, I do have several things going on…

Tarot Reading: I’m going to be doing professional tarot reading! Yes, that’s right, I will be offering tarot readings (as pre-recorded video sessions) on my Etsy shop, starting next month (or possibly a little later this month). Watch this space, as there will be a half off coupon posted on this blog when I do start doing them.

I’ve wanted to be a Tarot reader since I knew what a Tarot reader was, and since then, I’ve branched off into oracle cards, angel cards, and even channeling. I’m a certified card reader and I feel that after 16 years of study, it’s time to share my gifts with the world. So yes, if you’re interested in a Tarot reading, follow this blog to get notified when I do post that announcement and coupon.

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Angelic Divination: This is a side project I’ve been working on lately, and while it has its own YouTube channel already, I’m not sure yet whether it will be part of this site or have its own. I feel really moved to give it its own platform, but this project doesn’t really have a budget yet, so I’m not sure a site for it is in the cards. I suspect that once I’ve established it as a brand on its own, then I can invest in a site.

But what is Angelic Divination? It’s an approach to Tarot, oracle, and angel cards that uses the energy of the Archangels, and while it started out as just my own approach to such, it’s grown into so much more. I intend to make at least a few courses on this divinatory approach, and I’ll be posting them over on that channel.

Day Job Advancement: I have been selected for an art fellowship, so I guess you could say I’m going pro as an artist. It’s a little weird in that it doesn’t feel weird or scary at all, just…right. Which probably means I’ve been ready for a while and just haven’t had an opportunity/the courage to go for it! I’m very grateful for the opportunity, though, and don’t worry, this won’t change anything here…I’ll still be my same old weird comic-drawing, blogging, cardslinging self. Wild horses couldn’t drag that out of me.

But it’s very exciting to be essentially doing a mix of a day job and a long-term commission. I’ll be working at home, designing elements for 3D virtual environments, painting, as a part time job. I’ll…actually probably make more from this job than I do from my current day job. Which is appropriate, but still feels wild.

Enjoying Writing Again: I honestly didn’t grow up as an artist – I spent the first 15 or so years of my life intending to be a writer. Art was a hobby; writing was my vocation. Over the years, I got more and more interested in art, and sort of burned myself out with writing by authoring several novels while struggling with bipolar disorder.

I associated writing with my illness for a long, long time. I had concluded that since I wrote a lot when I was ill, writing must be encouraging my hypomania – an error of confusing correlation with causation – and so I stopped almost altogether. There is a gap of a few years when aside from journaling, I just didn’t write much. I was kind of afraid to, and it felt exhausting to even think about the amount of work it took to write a novel.

But this month I had to write a pitch for that day job thing, and when I let friends and family read just the handout for the pitch, I got some really positive feedback. People were surprised by how well-written and clear and elegant it was. I’m doing well right now, no hypomania, so clearly the writing was good but was also not the product of illness. Who knew I could write while in my right mind, too?

So I’m thinking I’ll just get my toes wet at first, and write some more frequent blog posts for this site. I have 2 or 3 more blogs written that are just waiting to be queued/scheduled, and I’m excited to share them with you. I’m writing more about Starseed/Lightworker stuff, as well as Tarot and art.

Also, it’s been a year that this site has been up, and I could not be more proud and pleased with the interactions I’ve had and just the pride I feel from having maintained a website all year. Feels good to have accomplished something like that.

Year 2’s goal: Get to 200 followers!

All the best,

~Julian

Monthly Update August 2018 | Re-Prioritizing, Final Stages of my Tarot Deck, and Why I’m Staying With Etsy

Hey guys! It’s Julian!

I have a lot of updates to post in this one, so let’s just get to it.

Re-Prioritizing

Last month (July) I attempted to do World Watercolor Month. I did not, in fact, succeed in doing World Watercolor Month – in that I didn’t complete it. I do feel that it was a success in that I quit for the right reasons: Three – no, now four commissions came in during July, and so I really had to let WWM go.

I am trying to think of it as reprioritizing rather than quitting. Really, making a speedpaint video for every day, on the day, AND painting every day, was ridiculous. But I managed it until the 17th – when a few BIG commissions came in. Not just “draw my OC” or “can you vectorize my logo” stuff. No, I’m talking “part-time jobs for the next few months” type things. I can’t tell you about most of them yet, but gosh I am BUSY.

The one I’m able to tell you about is that I’m now going to be handling all the social media and blogging for OgreWare. I’ve been working in partnership with them for some time now on their Calling All Heroes app game, and now I’m their social media manager! It’s pretty darn fun, I gotta say. I’m honestly not much a social media guru, but I’m learning, and it’s…like I said, pretty fun. You can check out ogreware.net and facebook.com/ogreware to see what I’m up to with them. Please do go follow their accounts, by the way, because you’ll get to see some of my art there that won’t be seen anywhere else.


 

BIG Tarot Deck Update

So here’s the most exciting thing I have today: I HAVE FINISHED INKING MY TAROT DECK. As of July 31, all the cards are inked. All 79 of ‘em. Fully inked. Ready to paint.

Holy carp.

It’s taken four months, which is actually just about what I expected. I intend to have all the cards painted in another four months, and will then take the second half of December off to recuperate. Then in the first couple months of 2019, I’ll sort out printing – and then my Tarot deck will be on sale in spring 2019!! So damn excited about that.

I will be using Mijello Mission Gold watercolor paints to paint this deck. To be entirely honest, I am not super super crazy about them; I much prefer the M Graham paints, of which I admittedly only have one, but which I’ve seen many reviews of and which I’m fairly sure I would prefer. But I wanted to buy a big set of moderately nice paints, to figure out which pigments and hues I like – then I could buy those individual pigments in a nicer brand. That was the plan from day 1. So I’ve figured out my sort of “12 color dream palette” list, and I’ll be purchasing the M Graham versions of those from Blick in a year or so.

I wasn’t a painter until this year. I’m a newb, and I still don’t feel ready to do this project, but it’s here, it’s time, and I need to just DO it. I can always do pieces over if I absolutely have to. This project already taught me so much about inking – I can’t wait to see what it teaches me about watercolor. 🙂


 

Shop Expansion

I’m looking into expanding my Etsy shop, and I actually wanted to talk a bit about Etsy. In defense of Etsy, actually. Most people these days are going “oh!! Etsy!! They increased their fees for no reason!! They’re awful!! Boycott!!!1!1” But honestly, Etsy is still the cheapest handmade goods salesplace around for smaller shops – most other platforms for online storefronts have a subscription fee or take exorbitant “commission fees” out of your profits. And Etsy has a massive marketplace following to boot. Most people who buy handmade goods and art turn not to Shopify or Amazon Artistans, but instead head straight to Etsy.

And no, Etsy has not paid me to say any of this. It’s based on my own research, and my own experience, which has been, overall, very good. I’m happy with Etsy for now. Someday, yes, I’d love to have a storefront on my own website and only sell through there. But for right now, considering the size of my shop and the amount of traffic I get, Etsy is ideal for me.

Anyways. About expansion: I’m going to be offering more new items soon, like stickers, a wider variety of traveler’s notebooks, and original paintings. To make room, I’ll be putting some items on clearance that either haven’t sold or that I just want to move along a little faster. So please check out the shop frequently – I’ll be updating it with new items and new sales soon! You can find it at http://julianjaymesart.etsy.com.


Well, that’s about all I’ve got for today. Until next time, guys, I hope that YOU are HAVING a REALLY EXCELLENT day, and I’ll talk to you again very very soon. Bye!

~Julian

Monthly Update July 2018 | World Watercolor Month, Video Creation, and Art Coming Naturally

Hey guys, it’s Julian and it has taken me AGES to get this update out, but here it is. 🙂

Things are looking better. Long story short, things are not nearly as dire as I’d thought, and while I am still likely going to lose my insurance and part of my income, the repercussions are not going to be (quite) as drastic as I’d thought. I’m still going to have my housing, my medication, and the treatments I need. I’m just going to have to work very hard to make ends meet.

But really, the future is looking brighter already. I’m working through the details of a really exciting collaboration – with my sewing, of all things! – and my Etsy shop is doing well. I’m really grateful to everyone who’s been shopping with me. It truly helps a lot. 🙂

I’m doing World Watercolor Month this month, which is…exhaustion. No, seriously, it’s an awesome project in which people paint 31 watercolor paintings in 31 days, and I’m doing it despite also having all this craziness going on…I’m really proud of myself, I’ve got 11 done so far and it’s the 10th. (I have to work ahead some days because I’m working so much at my day job that some days I can’t paint at all.) I hope to make it to 31 paintings by the end of the month. Here are the ones I’ve done so far…

That’s not why I’m exhausted though. I’m exhausted because I’ve been filming all of these AND editing them AND doing voiceovers AND posting them on my YouTube channel!

I must be delusional, to think I can keep this up for a month.

The worst part is that after this, I’ll be expected to do a video every day…or at least three times a week…because people think it’s that easy…I seriously don’t know how I’ve been able to put all of these together so far.

But really, it’s going to be okay. And after this I may be able to get more videos out, because I’m definitely learning a lot about videos and video editing in addition to learning about watercolor!

My art is flowing in a way it never has in my life. I just…churn out art. More, even, than what’s filmed and posted on my sites. It’s like I used to be a little inkjet printer that struggles to print a single page, and now I’m a high-capacity color laser multifunction that doesn’t bat an eye at 600-page documents.

Yeah. I’m feeling pretty good about my art lately. 🙂

Anyway, I had better finish this up. I’ll note that there is now a subpage on this site for my World Watercolor Month posts, and I’ve updated the Materials I Use page. I’m trying to keep active online, but that’s mostly happening on Instagram and YouTube. I’m hopeful that after WWM ends, I’ll be able to do more on this site – maybe posts some reviews or something – but for now, it’s acting as my portfolio and housing links to the places where I’m actually active. I apologize for the inactivity, but with any luck I’ll soon be back in business here. 🙂

If you have any questions or inquiries, you can contact me using the contact form. If you’d like to support this whole operation, please head over to the shop. Thanks for all your support, and have a great day!

~Julian

Drawing from Life: Benefits, Tools, and How to Get Started

Drawing from life is an incredibly rewarding, surprisingly fun practice for any artist, and I hope that others will learn from my experience and do as I say, not as I have done, and NOT wait 18 years into their drawing study to start doing daily drawing-from-life.

Drawing from life is also known as observational drawing, and refers to drawing something that you are looking at, rather than drawing something you’re imagining or “from your head.” Drawing something that’s physically there in front of you is ideal, but even drawing from photo references is excellent practice. There are many reasons why life drawing is such an essential skill and practice to cultivate; here’s a few that have been most obvious to me:

  • You’ll need it later: The ability to draw from reference is essential for any artist. Every artist, even fantasy artists and surrealists, will need at some point to draw something that exists in the real world – and some of those things will NOT be objects that are familiar enough to draw from memory. Could I draw a rhinoceros right now, off the top of my head? No. Probably not. But if I don’t cultivate the art of drawing from reference, I won’t be able to USE that reference effectively.
  • Build your own reference library: Say you eventually need to draw a shoe. Or a pincushion. Or someone’s ponytail in a hairband, in detail. If you can say “Oh, I’ve drawn that before,” it’ll be much easier to do it. But if you’ve never drawn any of those random things before, you’ll be making it up as you go along – which is fine, but it’ll take longer and you’ll be sort of reinventing the wheel in some places. 
  • It teaches you to look: I’ve always believed that art is less about making marks on paper and actually more about learning to look and see what the world really looks like. Making marks on paper is the easy part, believe it or not. Mentally translating what we visually process into an idea of how something actually looks, and then sending that to your fine muscles to draw on paper – that’s the hard part! So drawing from life challenges you to really look, and see what the world actually looks like. It forces you to draw things as they appear and not how you think they appear. It’s actually an intense right-brain exercise that most people never cultivate, including many artists.
  • It increases your visual/artistic vocabulary: I have found that my favorite thing to draw plein air is people on the train. I definitely suffer from “Same Face Syndrome” with my own art, but when I draw people at random, I end up challenged to draw clothing styles, body types, and features that I might never have chosen voluntarily for my own characters. Plus people on the train are usually so wrapped up in their phones that they don’t notice me (thank you 21st century!), so it hasn’t caused any trouble so far.
  • It’s actually pretty fun: I always thought “I don’t want to do drawing from life, that’s where they make you draw a shoe.” But really, once you start looking, there are fascinating people, structures, objects, plants, vehicles, and other things all around us. Visually fascinating, if not interesting otherwise, these unique visions will jump out at you if you just get yourself to start looking with drawing in mind. And it will be fun, I promise you.

What tools do you need? Really, whatever YOU are comfortable drawing with/on. I do recommend self-contained tools like pencils, pens, or markers, rather than paints or inks, because you’ll often be out and about doing this and it can get difficult to manage a whole watercoloring setup when you’re at a bus station trying to draw an interesting architectural structure.  If you’d like to see what I personally bring with me, check out this video tour of my pencil case:

So how to get started with this fun, useful, valuable practice? I want to do a whole YT video on that, but here’s some tips to get you started…

  • Devote a sketchbook to it: If you can afford to, get a small sketchbook (or a cheap one) and use it as your life-drawing sketchbook. I have one that I made myself, a 5×7” hardbound sketchbook with Coptic stitching and 200 pages. If possible, bring that sketchbook with you – EVERYWHERE. You never know when or where you’ll see something that you want to capture in pencil (or charcoal, or whatever you use).
  • Have a daily quota: Say to yourself that you have to fill half a page, or a page, or five pages, or do three individual drawings – but just pick a number and stick to it. I recommend choosing either two to five individual sketches, or one to two pages, to start off with. Challenge yourself to fill that quota either every time you go out plein air sketching, or three times a week, or flat-out every single day – whatever works and will keep you drawing on a regular basis. I actually am just trying to do 200 pages/drawings in the next 8 months, 5×7”, in pencil. But I am sticking to that goal.
  • Have accountability: Post on an Instagram account, or in a Facebook album, whenever you make one of those drawings. My accountability is my Instagram, julian_jaymes, where I
  • Play scavenger hunt: Imagine that there is one really interesting person/object/structure out there for you today. (Believe me, there is at least one that you’ll run into each day.) Go walking around your town, or the next town over, or the woods – whatever you like – and try to find that one thing. If you find something better on the way back, double points!

So get out there and draw what you see! You don’t really have to go anywhere special; just drawing items in your house will definitely still help. But it’s so fun to have adventures out in the world doing art and getting outside your studio on occasion.

I do plan to do videos on plein air/urban sketching/observational drawing in the future, on my YouTube channel, and will definitely post links here when I make those videos. 🙂

~Julian

Weekly Update 4-9-18: Life Drawing, Book-Binding, and Even More Tarot Cards

Hey guys! Julian here. And have I got sketches for you!

In the olden days, when I was on DeviantART all the time and emo was a serious thing, we used to post what we crudely called “sketchdumps” – essentially collages of sketches we’d done over the past week/weeks/month, but which weren’t “nice” enough to justify giving each one its own post.

This, my friends, is a sketchdump.

Each of these images is a page from a sketchpad I’ve been carrying around – mostly on public transit, as you can probably tell. All the art is done in graphite pencil, since that’s what I carry with me when I’m out.

I enjoyed these so much that I decided to devote a whole sketchbook to “out in the world sketching.” But I didn’t really have one…so I made one! Yes, I have learned Coptic stitching method, and have been making some sketchbooks. Just little projects for fun, but you can find a couple on my Etsy shop, just so y’know. 😉

So this is my plein air (out-in-the-world drawing) sketchbook:

I like the idea of it so much that, at least for now, I’m giving it its own page. You can find it at Julian Jaymes > Works > Life Drawing 2018. I’ve also been working on a whole special non-update blog on life drawing/plein air sketching, so stay tuned for that sometime this week!

And yes, I’ve been working a lot on my Tarot project this week – that hasn’t gone anywhere. Here’s the latest:

Still just drawing and inking, because I can’t afford the watercolors I need right now. With my disability pay dipping and my job situation up in the air, things are more than a little tense financially. But with any luck, I’ll be able to get those paints soon enough. I’ve got til the end of the year, after all – and until I get the paint, I’ll be endlessly inking, which I don’t mind at all. 🙂

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing really well. I’m going to have more timelapse drawings (“speedpaints”) soon, I promise, WITH a top-down camera setup (thanks to a wonderful patron who ordered me a desk mount for my phone).

We live in interesting times, friends, but art has survived this far, and so have we. Stay strong.

Until next time…

-Julian

Weekly Update 3/26/18 – Arteza Brush Pens, The Wheel of Fortune, and a Speedpaint!

Hey everyone!

I’ve been puzzling over the ongoing issue of what watercolor to use for my in-progress Tarot deck project, and I’ve settled on yet another option.

I’m not using watercolors.

Yep, found an alternative. But it’s still what a lot of people call “watermedia” – like watercolor pencils or diluted inks, this option requires a brush and water, but comes in…pens!

Meet the Arteza Real Brush Pens.

They’re essentially brush-tipped watercolor markers, and I love them. If you want to see how they work, check out the video below!

(If the thumbnail is a darn My Little Pony toy, don’t mind it, YouTube is wonkier than usual today. It’s a speed-paint of me coloring The Wheel from my Tarot deck, in Arteza brush pens!)

I did a sort of review of the pens in the video, so you can get an idea of how I use them and what they’re like while you watch. I actually really love them. Arteza is no joke, guys – at least with these items, they are surprisingly good quality for a newer company. And that makes me super happy! I love supporting newer art companies WHEN the art supplies are worth it, and Arteza’s (at least what I’ve used) certainly are.

I’m hoping to get that 96-color set for my birthday in June, so I may try some other items too when I make that order! I’ve heard good things about their waterbrushes and watercolors so maybe I can try those. 🙂

It’s been a very productive week, and I’m looking forward to more of the same. I had a medication change about a week ago, and I’m feeling much more clear-headed and creative. I’m excited to show you what’s coming up! Until then, please enjoy this mini gallery of what I did this week:

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Ten of Swords
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The Wheel of Fortune
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Six of Pentacles
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The World
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Two of Cups
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The Hierophant

Thank you so much to everyone who has been commenting, liking, and even ordering from my shop. This is the most active month I’ve had since I started the whole Julian Jaymes thing, and it feels awesome. But none of it would have been possible without you, the readers, the watchers, the clients, the shoppers. From the bottom of my artsy little heart, thank you.

~Julian