Life should be fun!

Mindless Pursuits

Goals for the Next 3 Months 0

Posted on May 31, 2015 by Keith

With the change in careers, I’ve also been shifting about my way of setting goals. I have weekly, monthly, 3-month, 6-month and yearly goals now. I’m finding it easier to break down my goals in that way, with sub-goals defined, rather than work on an ever-evolving larger set of goals. It also allows me to better track the use of my time so that I can better estimate the time and ‘spoons‘ I need to be able to accomplish them. For today’s post, I’m going to discuss the goals I have set for myself for the three months between the end of the current school year and the beginning of the next. However, I won’t be discussing my consulting goals as those are confidential to those projects, so if my goals seem short (time wise), that’s because there’s consulting in there that I’m not discussing.

So – with a break after a busy school year, my first goal should be to relax, right? Yes but no. I’ll spend a few days relaxing right after the school year ends while my daughters are finishing their last few days of school, but after that I am going to get to work on my first goal: preparing for the next school year! That’s right – I’m going to get right to work on the items I want prepped for next year.  The reasoning is pretty straightforward: I don’t know how long it will take me and I don’t want to be under the gun once school starts again. A lot of my instruction will be delivered through eLearning modules, gamification, and other non-traditional channels, so I need time to get everything made and tested in advance. Additionally, while I have a set of curriculum maps created, I need to create the above content for 8 different grade levels so it’s a lot to accomplish. I also want to implement a menu of options related to each unit, so I need to map those out and create them as well. The first priority is to create the ‘must do’ pieces of each unit, and then evaluate the menu goals for time.

The second goal is art. I really need to put some time and focus back into my art. I’ve been away from it too long, with only a couple of weeks a couple of months ago spent painting in about the last two years. So my goals for this are two-fold. First, I want to get a couple of paintings completed. Second, I want to get some drawing time in each day. I know I can improve my drawing skills if I put regular effort into it, and I never make myself do it. That’s going to change!

The final goal is to finish developing one small game. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, or with the greatest art, or anything else. I just need to FINISH one. I have been starting game projects for years and have never actually finished any. It’s time to finish one so I can get past that hurdle and prove to myself I can do it! More on this goal as soon as I figure out what small game I’m going to focus on. Odd are that I’m going to combine this goal with my first goal and complete an educational game. Time will tell!

What are your goals over the next three months? How are you planning to tackle them? Are they large goals, or a smaller set of your overall goals? I’d love to hear from you!

Of Weight and Webcomics 0

Posted on May 13, 2013 by Keith

Let’s start off with the bad news: I gained 1.4 pounds since last Monday. That’s not the reason why I’m not videoblogging today. I’m not videoblogging because I had a mild reaction to a new shaving cream I tried. I’m certain it’ll clear up and I can do the VBlog tomorrow. Anyway, in the aftermath of last Wednesday’s news about being cancer-free, I rather overindulged in sweets in celebration. Cookies at home and multiple times of going out for pie with my family (not celebratory pie – just pie). I’m actually quite amazed that I didn’t go up more, but I guess that’s the benefit of having gone cycling around the neighborhood most days!

Doctor Cthulwho - Pencil Sketch

Doctor Cthulwho – Pencil Sketch

In other news, I launched ‘Mindless Pursuits – The Comic‘ over the weekend. It’s a baby step towards my ultimate goal of publishing a graphic novel and will help me further develop my drawing and digital inking/coloring skills. It’s also a chance to let loose with some of my more absurd thoughts and whimsy! Above is the pencil sketch of the first comic. To see the completed version, go to the comic site!

That’s it for today, as I am back to working on my ‘Grand Endeavor’ full time. Have a great week!

On Art, Weight Loss, Books & Entertainment – VBlog 0

Posted on May 06, 2013 by Keith

Hey — I made it to a second week of Video Blogging! I really wasn’t certain that I would. Hopefully today’s VBlog is a bit tighter and less full of ‘ummmm’s. I filmed a quick take at the local park, but unless you like the vomit-inducing effect of ultra-shaky-cam, I realized I’d better re-record it! Today I thought I’d talk about a few things that are central to my daily life: art, weight loss, books and entertainment.

Sand Creek Park

At the park by my home.

When I restarted this blog last week, my weight was 418.4 pounds. Today I am at 415. Woo! It actually wasn’t too difficult for a few reasons. First, I pretty much stuck with eating pre-made, frozen Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers meals when it was just a meal for myself. Second, when it was a meal with the entire family, I stuck with good portion control. Finally, I forced myself to get some exercise by going for extended walks a couple of times during the week and taking the girls to the park yesterday for some baseball, kickball and more walking. I even made my personal kryptonite: cookies. Despite the temptation of fresh cookies, I was able to keep the willpower to eat just one. I also made a ‘tracking sheet’ to keep myself accountable. All of that added up to a respectable 3.4 pounds of weight loss. I look forward to continuing the momentum this week.

For the rest, see the video, but here are links to some of the things I discussed:

Crunchyroll – A streaming anime service where you can watch some anime for free on your PC or subscribe and stream it to media devices like the Playstation 3 in order to watch it on a TV.

Funimation – An importer and dubber of anime for many years, Funimation is also responsible for the HORRIBLE dubbing of Ultraman Tiga that was shown on TV many years ago. While I like to watch some of the free streaming anime, I’m not a fan of their dubs at all.

A Certain Scientific Railgun S – Along with ‘A Certain Magical Index,’ Railgun involves the super-science ‘Academy City’ where conflicts between magic and Esper-users occur. This series revolves around the ‘Sisters’ story arc from the light novels / manga. It and ‘Index’ are currently our favorite anime series.

Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos – A very random and energetic ‘harem’ anime involving human-looking personifications of elder deities from the Cthulhu mythos and the Earth teen they live with!

The Fletch Series of Books – Written by Gregory McDonald, the Fletch series of books are not comedy like the movie was. They are played straight, and are my favorite series of books. I highly recommend them for some light reading!

Shoujo Manga Techniques: Writing Stories – I bought this used for Alex, but read it myself as well. It’s a manga that talks about how to write manga! I wasn’t expecting much, but it’s actually quite useful and makes for an enjoyable read.

Comics Crash Course – I picked this up for all of six cents plus $3.99 shipping through a used seller on Amazon. Whiule it has the same ‘basic drawing skills’ that all these types of books seem to have, this one is nice because it speaks more to breaking down a sequence into panels, how to create dynamic layouts, how to use a scripts, and other non-drawing elements of creating a comic.

That’s it for this week’s VBlog post. Now I’m going to go try to relax on the deck and enjoy this beautiful day.  See you later!

Battle of the Giants – A Work In Progress 0

Posted on May 02, 2013 by Keith

I started a new drawing at the beginning of last week called ‘Battle of the Giants.’ It’s the largest drawing I’ve started to date, and it’s mostly a learning exercise in perspective. I spent about three hours drawing the linework for the framework of the street and city. After that, I wasn’t entirely certain what I wanted, other than for a giant robot to be fighting some sort of ‘monster.’ I eventually decided that the ‘monster’ would be a dragon, as my daughter and I are also learning to draw those at the moment. It was then that I needed to take the next step, and start trying to draw the figures, but first I needed to determine a pose….

Battle of the Giants - Using Tracing Paper to Work on Pose

Using tracing paper to work on pose structure
(I apologize for how dark this is, but it’s the only way I could get the lines to show as they are so light)

Because I knew it would take me multiple tries to get the basic structure of the pose correct and interesting to me, and I didn’t want to draw and erase numerous times on my nice perspective framework. I don’t know how other artists handle this, but in my case, I opted to work on my forms by putting a piece of drawing paper over the perspective drawing so I could see the lines underneath, then sketched out various forms. By using the tracing paper, I didn’t have to touch my line drawing until I was satisfied. Surprisingly, the tracing paper held up better than I expected to constant erasing, so I only needed to use one sheet.

Battle of the Giants in Progress - Adding Figure Roughs

Adding Figure Roughs

Once I had the structure of a pose that I liked, I then started putting it into the actual drawing. My feeling right now is that I should have done the figure roughs on the tracing paper as well, then used my lightbox to transfer the roughs to the main drawing once they were more developed. I didn’t, but as this is a learning experience, I’m not sweating it. What I found once I started doing more work on the figures was that I was having problems visualizing how the legs would work in the pose. I could look in a mirror and use my cheap wooden pose mannequin to figure out the torso and arms, but that wasn’t working for the lower half of the robot. What I’ve decided to do is to set up some pillows against a wall to be the dragon’s lower half, and then have one of my daughters recreate the pose for me so that I can see how the legs and lower body would work.

I’m hoping to have this done next week. So far I’m happy with the progress, even with the flaws I need to work on, but it’s a long way from finished. I’m thinking after I get the figures done, I’ll actually scan it all into the PC and try to do the inking and coloring digitally. I’ll also try to do it using traditional media, just to improve my knowledge in both areas. I’ll do additional posts as things progress. Learning is fun!

Learning Experiment: Manga-Fusion Style 0

Posted on May 01, 2013 by Keith

Random Manga Fusion Girl

Isn’t she cutely deformed? This is my first experiment in attempting to drawing using the style referred to by some as anime-/manga-fusion. I admit that I didn’t put a lot of effort into it, as I did it just before going to bed Monday night, and I was already tired, but in keeping with my intent to draw something new every day, I wanted to get something done. My guide for this attempt was an example in Christopher Hart’s Drawing Cutting Edge Fusion: American Comics with a Manga Influence. I’m not actually a big Hart fan as I find his books to be bland and repetitive, but I found this book used and most of the examples aren’t drawn by Hart so I found it more compelling.

Another book I have that I like but haven’t followed any examples out of yet is Andy Smith’s Drawing American Manga Superheroes (Used bookstores can be your friend!). I find it to be a much better book for overall completeness, but started with the Hart book because it was still on my nightstand, having just gotten it.

My ultimate goal, like so many comic fans, is to eventually make my own comic. I already know the characters, the plots, have bits of dialogue written and even a universe guide as I’ve been developing these characters since high school. I just can’t decide what art style I want to focus on for them so am eagerly trying out multiple styles now that my drawing is improving. Sometime this week I’ll sit down and work on another manga-fusion example but spend more time on it. I look forward to seeing the difference between them!

Quick and Dirty Zentangle Time-Lapse Video 0

Posted on April 29, 2013 by Keith


I made a quick and dirty Zentangle today as I plan on recording the occasional time-lapse video of drawings or paintings or other artistic endeavors, and I wanted to test a setup for recording overhead while I’m drawing. I think it worked pretty well, even if the end cut off when my camera ran out of space!

On Widely Varied Interests 0

Posted on April 29, 2013 by Keith
Waterfall at the Japanese garden at Como Zoo

Waterfall at the Japanese garden at Como Zoo

I always have multiple projects going on at any one time that reflect my widely varied interests. If there’s anything that can be said with certainly about the way my mind works, it’s that when I spend much time focusing on just one interest, I fall into deeper depression than I do when I’m exploring a number of interests concurrently. Of course, I really suck at time management, so oftentimes, my various projects sit idle or with very little attention. It’s something I’m working on but still have a way to go.

What I am finding works for me is to dedicate one big block of time to the most important interest/activity — in this case a project I consider my ‘Grand Endeavor’ that draws upon my software architecture and development skills. I try to maintain two 3-5 hour blocks of time each day for working on it. I use two large blocks instead of one big block as I find I can stay focused more easily if I work in two mid-sized chunks than I do in one large block. Sometimes smaller blocks work, but I still work to maintain the same amount of time each day.

For my other interests and activities, they get splayed out as I have time. Some interests, like anime and drawing, I can explore with my daughters here, as they share the same interests and we do a lot of it together. Some, like painting, I dive further into when my daughters aren’t around because I need more focus and more uninterrupted space. Unfortunately, these interests tend to receive a lot less time and focus because I’m always hesitant to begin something if I think I’ll have to leave it in the way when the girls come over (like my easel and painting table, or my polymer clays and oven). I tried restructuring my time so that I’d use an evening for each activity when the girls weren’t around, but the creative muse doesn’t flow that way. What it’s caused me to do is to learn to relax a bit about my creative workflow.

For instance, I now leave one small table set up in front of my easy chair. It sits over the ottoman quite nicely so that it doesn’t really take up more tha a couple of inches that the ottoman wouldn’t use already. So I’m not wasting space, and I can leave some extended projects on it, such as a detailed drawing I’m trying to work on this month. I’m also trying to learn to shift some of my interests towards the digital realm. I have this wonderful Wacom tablet that I need to explore using more, and the software tools to support digital art workflows. It’s time to take advantage of that as well as my traditional mediums.

It’s also time to recognize that, with my varied interests, it’s okay to let some drop from time to time, because I know eventually I’ll return to them. I haven’t painted with oils or acrylics in six months. I’m feeling the urge again, and the ideas are flowing, whereas they weren’t when I felt I had to force it. Additionally, as my drawing skills increase, some other fun ideas have come up that I may want to explore, such as working on a periodic web comic. What I’m also starting to reinforce in myself is that these pauses and changes over time are fine, because while I like to show others what I’m working on and create, my desire to create is entirely for myself and as such, I’m okay with it changing, evolving and occasionally being cyclical. I think that as I learn to ‘go with the flow’ I’ll become an even better artist and more inspired in what I create.

The best part? Always being able to look forward to what new idea I’ll surprise myself with tomorrow!

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