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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┬árelaxing 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. ┬áThe 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!

Digital Painting Progression – ‘Remote Space’ 0

Posted on May 08, 2013 by Keith

Yesterday I created my first full digital painting, a piece of space art I’m calling ‘Remote Space.’ It’s based upon a tutorial in Geoff Taylor’s How to Draw and Paint Science Fiction Art, though I added some elements that weren’t in the tutorial, such as a nebula and better color variation for the planet.

Remote Space

‘Remote Space’ – Digital Painting

For this painting, I used my Wacom tablet, the default pen, and Photoshop. It took me about 3 hours of total time to complete the painting. The biggest issue I had was tired eyes. After about an hour, my eyes were tired enough that I wasn’t seeing where I was missing detail. I was also foolish and worked entirely with the painting at 1/3 of full size because I wanted to keep it all on screen. I should have gone to 100% or larger to ensure my detail worked well. As a result of these issues, I had to perform some cleanup after I was done. Extra credit for noticing the differences between the video and the image above, as I did the cleanup after making the video.

I’m really looking forward to doing both more digital painting and more space art. I have ideas aplenty, and making them come to life is going to be a lot of fun!

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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