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What Else is New Around Here?

Smith-Tower-full

Hello blogging world!

I am still alive and at the drawing board – and the keyboard too.  March was an amazing marathon of a month with getting all the initial work on the Etsy store up and running.   Added to that – Urban Sketchers reposted a few of my sketches on their Instagram profile – I was thrilled!  Back in February I actually got registered for their symposium coming up this summer in Chicago.  I’m excited and nervous – I’m leaving Frank here in Calgary and going all in to fully immerse myself in the experience.  I’ve got workshops with a few of my personal heroes in the Urban Sketching world and I hope I can go there and charm the daylights off everyone with my sparkling personality.  All joking aside – I’m spending five days surrounded by people I know of online – not even personally.  I’ll try to seek out a capoeira class while I’m there too because hey, why not…but it’s going to be a lot of learning in addition to a lot of time spent outside of my comfort zone.  They do say this is where the magic happens however…so we will see.

a few of my sketches that Urban Sketchers shared on their Instagram platform

a few of my sketches that Urban Sketchers shared on their Instagram platform

 

 

I’ll leave you with that – and apologize yet again for the lack of commitment to blogging on a regular basis.  It is not from a lack of new material to share – it’s from focusing my energy elsewhere.   As always – please come visit me on Instagram – I’m pretty active over there!

 

 

 

 

 

Workin’ on Etsy…

Paris-Street-framed

And on the inside singing the song “Runnin’ on Emptyyyy”…just me?  Well that’s fabulous.

I am ever so grateful for having had an open weekend this week.  Somehow I got ultra focused and spent at least eight hours sitting at the computer working on the Etsy store.  This is no easy feat – let me tell you.  I have managed to go through all my paintings to date and gather a collection of about 20 works.  I’ve been learning about product photography and stock photo licensing.  I tried to leave Frank alone today and puzzle through things on my own – then called him while stuck on something that it took him about ten seconds to fix and another thirty seconds to show me a better way.  That husband of mine, I tell you!

Alas, the product shots and scans are just the beginning.  I’m reading articles learning about how to use SEO tagwords to get found in search, and once that’s done I need to do more looking into shipping guidelines, packaging, swag for my fine future customers (you?) and if all that fails, figure out how else to get myself found on the World Wide Web.  It is quite the endeavor.  I’m writing notes to myself to remember not to get overwhelmed – that the purpose of this is to grow but to have fun.  And then I laugh – because I can tell myself to walk away from the computer but don’t settle into an alternate activity.  Classic Steph…

Paris-Street-with-brushes

In any event – these are a few of my product photos so far.  What do you think?  Do I look legit?  Would you buy from my site?  I think once it’s up and running to the best of my current ability I’ll be seeking an exchange of services.  I will offer a free set of prints from my shop for an Etsy pro to take a good look through and tell me what I need to do.  Is this you?  If so – please don’t hesitate to get in touch!  In the mean time, I’ll be here.  Trying to become a Photoshop expert, and then an Etsy expert, and then a shipping expert…and then hopefully a millionaire.  Kidding!  Hah.

Rear detail PBY

Happy Sunday evening all – here’s to a productive week ahead!

PS – shameless self promotion – please check out the store here!  Updates to come…likely all week long :)

Something changing around here…

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Well hello and aren’t we looking fabulous!

No surprise, I continue to be an absent blogger.  Let me assure you – it is not for lack of time spent on my craft.  I have been drawing and painting so much this year, it blows me away.  You know they say small changes can add up to big things?  I don’t have a facebook account – but I did have access to Frank’s account on my iPad.  I finally just deleted the app one day.  And suddenly I was spending less time on other forms of social media and more time getting things done.  Amazing.

And that brought me to the next step.  One of the girls whose fashion illustration blog I have followed since about 2013 posted that it was the 8 year anniversary of starting her blog.  In that time I have watched her quit her full time job, move to New York City, become managed and marketed by luxury brands and cosmetic firms worldwide, and travel – all while settling into a style uniquely her own.  It got me thinking.  While reading about it over the years it felt like something of a fairy tale, but she started that momentum on her own – no one did it for her.

I started my Etsy shop around this time last year with no idea what to do.  It’s a lot of work – there were about 10 hours put into the back end before it ever went live.  My first sale did not come until the 2017 Calendars went live.  But that first sale was to someone who follows me on Instagram – a complete stranger otherwise.  What a fantastic feeling.  I decided recently to start putting more energy, a lot more research and even more work into the Etsy store.  I have been drawing and sharing it now seriously for five years.  I’m ready to take things to the next level.

I have read about fear and what it means in various artistic professions.  One is being ridiculed or hated.  But equally highly ranked?  Being ignored.  Lucky me(?) – I’ve been ignored largely online for about five years.  That scab has healed.  So with that – time to put myself out there.  Like really out there.  This image is the new banner for the store – I’m trying to evoke the sense of magic I feel when I look at the world so often.  My about page in the shop has been updated, and Frank and I will be doing a photo shoot to end all photo shoots in the very near future to attach my face to the name behind Design by Streetlight.  In FIVE years of doing this I have managed not to have a single professional photo taken of me.  Good grief.

So that’s all for now.  Wish me luck!  Any words of support and encouragement and especially advice would be very welcome right now.

 

first rooftop sketch – and the struggle of calling myself an Urban Sketcher

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I’ve seen images such as this all over Pinterest and Instagram and was on the lookout for rooftops to try.  I was initially put off of this one because of the snow on the rooftops (see my last post!) but ultimately decided just to go for it.

Here’s the other funny thing about me (okay, like any of us have just one!).  Labels?  Really trip me up.  Totally off the sketching topic for a second, I got a new belt in capoeira last year.  When I was going up to the stage to accept it they called me Graduada Baqueta.  I’m a graduada – a graduated student.  We don’t use that as an official title in our school – others do, and I think it’s a big deal.  I’ve seen videos online of other Graduado’s/Graduada’s, and a ton of them could kick my arse in a second.  I think because of both of those I shy away from calling myself Graduada in and around capoeira.  Shouldn’t I feel like I know way more?  Can DO way more?

Transfer that over to my art.  The first three years of this blog I was doing fashion illustration.  Was I a fashion illustrator?  Maybe.  Sure.  Why not?  It didn’t bring me joy, in fact at times it was downright boring.  I can see in my own work the initial improvement and then the fall off where I fell out of love with it.  It wasn’t until the end of 2014 that I stumbled into Urban Sketchers.  All that time spend online and it took three years to stumble onto my first urban sketch.  I think it found me when it was meant to.

Urban Sketchers did start following me on Instagram at the end of 2015.  Then they started reposting my work.  I was over the moon!  My followers have grown which has caused my confidence in trying things to grow.  It’s been a positive growth relationship – until I started overthinking the title.  Urban Sketcher.  Right in their manifesto, it says you draw on site.  I’ve done that.  But not all the time.  So does that make me a fraud?  Not sure!  These rooftops.  They’re from a photo.  Sure I could find a high point in Calgary and draw some of our rooftops, but these ones are way nicer.  And this was a daunting subject to tackle! No clear perspective, angles didn’t necessarily connect to anything.  I spent hours on this and was hesitant to post it, because is it technically not an Urban Sketch if I didn’t do it on site?  Even though it is an urban scene?  Even though I did it, all alone, and brought a piece of the world to life in my own perspective?  What about drawing from photos I’ve taken?  They’re totally mine and I make them into a painting…a sketch, an urban sketch, no?  Lots of Urban Sketchers will state something was drawn on site and coloured later in the hotel.  That’s legit then, isn’t it?

Tough – for me –  to say.  I read books, so I’m a reader.  I rarely go more than two days at a stretch without drawing or painting, and if we call that doing art then I am an artist.  I do yoga several times a week, making me a yogi.  I am a capoeirista, even if the title of Graduada sits pretty heavy on my shoulders.  But an Urban Sketcher?  Even if I don’t draw on site all the time, I think I am an Urban Sketcher.  Just trying to clarify for both of us.

 

As for these rooftop sketches – they were hard, and fun, and challenging, and enlightening.  I want to try again with different cities, with different approaches to the watercolour and with integration of the colour theory I’ve been slowly but diligently trying to study.  So…there.  Urban Sketcher or not – I am giving myself permission to keep working on anything and everything that brings me joy.  And in the back of my mind – one day I will draw these from life.  One day.  Until then, there’s always that internet.

Rossland and area sketches

Christmas this year was exactly what I needed.  We headed out to Rossland to spend the week with Frank’s family – longer than we’ve ever stayed out there.  I asked for an absolute ton of reference books for Christmas – I feel like I go through bouts of enjoying fiction but then shift into learning more about illustration or my other passion – life hacking.  Sounds like an odd category, but I have loved spending hours learning about creativity, finding your purpose, financial independence, minimalism, all of it.  I keep waiting for the day I want to explore religion further but it hasn’t happened yet.  I’m okay with it.  Everything in life in due time, no?

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Snowboarding Selfie!

A little heavy for a blog post.  The lead in was really just to say in between reading new books, sleeping, trying SNOWBOARDING (loved it!) and yoga, I got out a few times to sketch on site.  Once in a coffee shop to gain some insight into people practice, and once to draw buildings.  Shari Blaukopf writes a lot about her car studio for winters in Montreal.  I’ve let winter be a hindrance before.  I did start sketching a little more on site last year, and it was a learning curve to be sure.  At first I was so nervous I would completely drop scale, then once I got over that I would overthink things.   I also had to get over feeling self conscious.  Then once it got cold it was the perfect excuse to stop…wasn’t it?  But the truth is, the more you do it, the more you want to.  There’s an unexplainable rush that comes from sketching on site once you get past that initial curve.

Rossland-1

There are two cars in this image buried completely under snow.

This first sketch was done from the car in Rossland.  Frank and his family left a few minutes behind me, I went out on my own, pulled over at the first thing to catch my eye and I started sketching.  I know Shari has said she prefers to sit in the drivers seat with her paints and equipment in the cup holder at her right hand.  I’m left handed but found the first hump for me was actually trying to angle my sketchbook around the steering wheel.  It was uncomfortable – so instead I moved to the passenger seat.  Things went much more smoothly there, but I also found I was cold enough that I stopped at the base sketch, retreating to the warmth of the house to do later ink and watercolour.

The unexpected upside of this exercise though, is that it made me look more at all of my surroundings.  Things you’d normally dismiss or even find unattractive are suddenly calling to you.  A view down the road that you once would have said was way too much is all the sudden so appealing.  There’s a quote about this.

“How strange painting is, it delights us with representations of objects that are not pleasing in themselves” – Eugene Delacroix

Right he is.

Warfield-in-December

my version of magic

This painting was my favourite.  I did have to do it  from a reference photo – it was the day we headed back to Calgary.  We stopped in at a friends house to drop off a package and I was sitting in the passenger seat of a very packed car, staring at the road in front of me.  It was magical.  The photo I took, when I went back to look two days later, was not.  But I could remember that feeling from before, and so I persevered.  I was really happy with the result.

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my reference photo. slightly less magic, no?

And here’s my last bout of sketches from the trip.  To be honest this was from a mashup of photos I took of houses around Rossland.  Frank asked me once what I was looking for that would draw me to a house and I couldn’t give him a definitive answer.  I just know when I see it.  What I DO love about Rossland is that the houses are not uniform – there’s so much variety, clearly no architectural controls, and a lot of stuff is built into the side of the mountain so there is rarely a flat surface for any extended stretch of  the road.

Rossland-2

The other big thing to point out – I just got over fear of painting snow in the last little while.  It was this mental block.  How do you paint a colour that isn’t there?  No idea.  My solution has been an exercise in fun and I can continue to tweak colours on it later, which I likely will.  But it’s to start with a wash of water and then to drop in purple and blue around the edges where I feel the weight of the snow would fall.

So that’s it for now!  Hope you enjoy it.