Wow! It’s been five years since my last post to my sketchblog. Are blogs still a thing? Do I even know anyone who still keeps a blog?
I don’t think I do!
I’m kind of drawn to the relative anonymity this blog must have now. I loved blogging, and the only reason I stopped was because posting would take too much time with each entry. That, and also because social media basically replaced casual/personal blogging.
I think I’ll try writing some entries here though! I miss writing in general. I’ve been doing more personal writing lately, and it’s been great fun developing stories and themes.
But first, let’s update this blog with some recent work.
I’m not even sure which artwork I should post here first – where to begin after five years! This post will likely be a little haphazard, but let’s embrace it for the time being – I can always do more concise follow-up posts later on.
Let’s start with something I posted earlier today on social media – a rough painting of Vaknaa! Vaknaa is now one of my older characters. She is the same character in my last post from 2015.
I’ve been playing around with her design lately, though I’ve tried tinkering with it in all the years since 2015. I’ve always wanted her design to combine human and avian features, but I was never completely happy with the designs I came up with so far – I’m not sure if I’ll keep this current design of her, but it’s been a lot of fun to paint with in the meantime!
I should post some of those other designs here sometime – there are a lot of designs I haven’t posted anywhere because they don’t seem like things I particularly want to share on social media, but they’d probably be suited to a personal blog like this.
I’ve made a few other sketches of this design this week – actually, I think I’ll post them here now. It’s interesting how used to I’ve become with social media – things I’ve become used to adhering to, like staggering posts as to not potentially annoy anyone with too frequent updates.
It’s kind of freeing to not have to consider that at all with a blog like this, since this is mainly just for my enjoyment, as I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have traffic to a blog nowadays.
Anyway, more artwork!
Rough sketch of Vaknaa – I’ve been playing around with a much looser, possibly more expressive style lately. It’s been really enjoyable so far, which is a little surprising for me, because traditionally I’ve been told my artwork can be on the tight side, sometimes too much.
These were all painted this week, mainly as either warm-up paintings or break paintings. I’ve enjoyed painting them, and want to explore more paintings in this style!
Recap from 2015 – 2020
Now that we have some artwork here, I thought it might be fun to do a brief recap of what the past five years have been like. I’ll probably put these thoughts under a cut.
A lot has happened! Much of it is personal, and I won’t go into anything too personal, because the aim of this blog is the artwork. One of the major changes from 2015 is I moved to San Francisco early this year. It’s been a pretty significant difference from living in New York!
I was traveling to San Francisco every few months for a few years, and also managed to do some travel in general – mainly domestic, but also a trip to Malaysia and Japan at the end of 2019, right before the Coronavirus swept the world.
Maybe I will write about this more in a future post.
ArenaNet Creative Partner Program
Another difference is I became an ArenaNet Creative Partner in 2017. This has been a very cool experience! I started writing a bit about it here, but I think I’ll write more in a future post, this way I can also include some of the relevant artwork I’ve painted during it.
I’ve also continued with commission work since 2015. I am very grateful for my clients, who are all amazing to work with and who have given me the opportunity to work on many projects and ideas I would not have explored otherwise. Thank you always to everyone!
One thing through the commission work that I need to become better with is keeping my artwork updated, and social media in general. To me, social media is a tool, a necessary and useful one (and I’ve also met amazing people though it), but for some reason posting/keeping them updated generally takes me more time than I think it should.
I always think I should be working on commission work instead! But I understand social media is also important.
For me it becomes distracting, even if all I need to do is post. I think it’s because I have a tendency to overthink things when I write. I think I’m becoming better with recognizing when it’s more useful to post something that might be written imperfectly, versus delaying a post indefinitely because it isn’t “perfect.”
I can feel my thoughts on this segueing into social media in general – I’ll save that for another post, because this one is already rather long!
The 2016 Election
This is probably self-explanatory, haha. What a wild ride the past four years have been, and it was capped by the wildest year yet in 2020. It’s appropriate that the first post here since 2015 is right after 2020’s election!
Covid-19 / The Coronavirus
It is still surreal to me how much our lives have changed since the outbreak of this virus in early 2020/December 2019.
And many more things!
I could continue on with the list of things from 2015-2020 – so much occurred over five years! – but I still want to keep this blog somewhat focused on art and art-related things, and only wanted to touch on the broadest strokes over the past four years.
I also want to keep this blog primarily focused on a positive and optimistic note, because I think it’s healthy for our minds to have a place to rest from the stress of our day-to-day (and there are certainly many stressors in 2020!) – I want this blog to be a refrain from our hectic lives, and my little corner of the internet where I can relax a bit and post my art and random musings into the void (as I am likely the only audience for this blog after neglecting it for years, haha).
Next are some thoughts on social media, which is more relevant with regard to art due to how it is the main platform I and the majority of artists today use to share and promote our work.
Blogging / This Sketchblog / The Tumblr Exodus
I think in 2015, even though I enjoyed it, blogging felt a bit like a chore because of how much more streamlined posting to social media was by comparison. I think this was very apparent during the Tumblr years – posting to Tumblr took minutes, versus how posting to WordPress (this blog) likely meant 30 minutes or an hour lost (another change from 2015 – that mass exodus from Tumblr a year or two back!).
Now that Tumblr has seemingly faded (though I’ve been trying out using it again this month), my main social media today surprisingly became Twitter. In comparison to Tumblr’s minutes, now a post to Twitter often only takes seconds.
I think because of this, whereas in 2015 blogging felt like a chore, today it has a novelty around it for me. Social media tends to emphasizes short, bite-sized posts – content easily consumed and shared, with future bite-sized content promised to its audience.
Anyone who has seen me write about anything knows I tend to write too much – it’s something I need to work on, but at the same time, I think there can be a place when writing more might be appropriate!
One downside to social media, to me, is how it has a tendency to over-simplify complex topics. We now live in a world where there is an easy tendency to make snap, potentially under-informed judgements about complex issues – from ideas to people – based on a single sentence, or a single Tweet.
This has severely polarized the country I’m living in (the United States). It became worse in 2016, and it seems to have become even more divided since then.
I thought this was a problem since 2015-16, with not much awareness being written or spread about it. Because of this, I was very heartened when earlier this year, Netflix released their docu-drama, “The Social Dilemma.” The short film delves precisely into social media’s role with polarization. This gives me optimism, because more mainstream awareness is beginning to form.
Today, in the fall of 2020, I hope we can begin to find a way to bridge divides and work together in a way that works for everyone.
Call me naive, but I still aspire toward something like world peace for our world globally – and world peace isn’t possible if aren’t able to work together and first bring peace between ourselves as a nation.
It’s the nation-level version of “think globally, act locally.”