Great Goddess


My mythology course required a sketch this week as commentary on the Great Goddess.  The topic was pretty interesting and discussed how at one time we saw many contradictory aspects in the Goddess and how it is an ancient idea that we lost with time and changing perceptions of women.  The contradictory nature of the Goddess traits made me think of the emotions in Pixar’s Inside Out because I was struck by how well rounded and dynamic the original version of the Goddess was–she represented motherhood & sexuality, civilization & nature, and tradition & transformation (the character I drew is also representing ‘clairvoyance’ which in this article went a long with transformation).  That is just a few of the traits that She embodied.

For the drawing part of this–I tried to get my sketch to show more character and not be ‘just a pretty picture’ as I’m often critiqued for.   I don’t think I’ve quite nailed that yet so I’ll have to give it another go in my next illustration/sketch–remember–specific characters Amber, specific characters with specific emotions/thoughts/etc!!


Warm ups — Turns Out They’re Kind of Important

Its been a pretty intense couple of weeks (midterms + my thesis have made me a bit crazy!) but I thought I’d make a post of some of the sketches I’ve been working on.

Recently I’ve started doing warm up drawings pretty regularly. I used to do them occasionally when I felt like I ‘had time’ but it wasn’t a normal part of my drawing practice.  I knew that warm-up drawings were ‘good for you’ but I never really understood what is was you got out of them until just now.  For me they’re a way to get out all my ‘bad ideas’ and ‘bad drawings’ so that I can start stiff and get looser and get lost in making an idea rather than just shapes or a ‘pretty picture’ (my most dreaded and most often told critique!!)  They also help on days when I’m feeling exhausted and pretty inspired–I can turn on a quick show and just draw sort of whatever comes to mind–like pictures of me drinking coffee or looking tired or scenes from books I’ve been reading or weird ideas and concepts I see on Tumblr. I’m learning that my best ideas are definitely NOT my first and often I’m not even sure what I want to do on my first drawing but they get better as I go…So far I think it might also be helping my animation –which has gotten more loose at the beginning and I feel like I can more confidently get my poses right or at least work on them until the ARE right.  So more warm-ups it is! :)

Inktober 05

I’m tried today (can you tell by how many sleepy Amber drawings I drew?) so my Inktober #5 is sketchy & just done in Bic pen. Here are some drawings of me and my goofy cats for you–because they kept trying to sit on my paper!!

When you need to loosen up…

When you need to loosen up apparently you need need to draw on a bumby train–here’s a few sketches from my train ride home last night.  Usually the train is bouncy and too annoying to write or draw but the internet wasn’t working so I started trying to get more into story and character in a few sketches–some sketches are of me on a train, and from a medieval book I keep trying to read and a myth we just read for my mythology class–pretty fun! I’ll have to make a habit out of this.

Hopefully  I’ll be able to turn a couple of them into Inktobers and catch up tonight!

Inktober 02

Tonight I got a little bit carried away with my inktober sketch and worked on it way too long on it, but I’m pretty happy with the result. :)  Maybe its the creepy ads for a Victorian horror film that keep playing on my Hulu but focused on the creepy other worldly side of the Victorian era this time!

Here’s the photograph that inspired it–old photographs–so creepy, so cool!

Inktober 1

Inktober 01

I’ve decided to participate in Inktober this year, or at least attempt to anyway.  My plan is to make some kind of quick sketch each evening in October and focus on character and storytelling.  For tonight’s sketch–I follow several Victorian and Edwardian image blogs on Tumblr and the people often look so solemn but a few photographs showed glimpses of real people and so I tried to capture a ‘behind the scenes’ version of Victorian photography subjects–no one can be that serious all the time!–I think I could explore this idea more and want to see where it ends up at the end of the month!

For tonight I’m just breaking into it after much animation on the same scenes so I think the idea could use some improvement–but for tonight–this is my Inktober #1 — enjoy :)

You can find my reference photo here.  (Can we still dress like this?!!??)

Working with Cats

Working with Cats Illustration
Working with Cats Illustration
Working with Cats

Rearranged my workspace this weekend & I think I might have finally found a configuration where my cats find next to the desk more appealing than ON the desk (and all my frames and computer and in my cup of coffee)…drawing with cats–the struggle is real.

Lately I’ve been busy thesising–more sketching posts later! :) (Why does 9:30pm on a Sunday always feel SO late!)

Ultra Running and Animation

One of my late night work  spaces

When I was in middle school my favorite saying was ‘I only run when chased’–I tried this excuse for my pitiful mile time in PE as well as that time I joined track because running was the lesser evil to waiting after school for my sister who ‘thought track might be fun.’  I am probably the last person you’d ever expect to want to read a blog about ultra-running.  And I admit that when I first came upon them in a long search to find blogs about doin’ healthy stuff (my desk-life is killing me!) I thought it was completely and utterly INSANE–now, even though you’ll never see me in one, I think I understand their appeal and why I’m oddly drawn to reading about them from the comfort of my desk-life–its not killing me enough to make me want to run an ultra, thanks.

One of my late night work  spaces
One of my late night work spaces

An ultra marathon is anything upwards of 100km in a single race–its marathons that often span more than one full day with these crazy runners running long into the night with headlamps fueled by bananas and coffee and this stuff called GOO which no one really knows what it is but athletes pretend its food.  Sound crazy? Yup that’s pretty crazy–but then I’m sure if I explained my life to an ultra runner they’d think I was nuts too.  I spend my evenings and weekends after a full day of work drawing hundreds of drawings of the same character, redrawing them, showing them to people so they can tell me everything that’s wrong with my hundreds of drawings and hours of work and then redrawing it all, and then redrawing it all at least a few more times before REDRAWING IT again but this time for PERFECTION in the evil process which is clean up animation where art has right and wrong answers and most of the time I’m doing it wrong.  Then I start the whole process over again for another scene just to create 2 minutes of film–sound crazy? It probably is–but I love it, I could spend 12 hours in the lab and not even notice time has passed, I wish daily I could spend more days locked up in the animation lab for 12 hours just to complete my couple of minutes and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life.

What I'm currently redrawing & redrawing...and then redrawing some more!
What I’m currently redrawing & redrawing…and then redrawing some more!

So other than having ‘normal’ people think this is crazy how the heck is animation related to ULTRA RUNNING??  Well, its the coffee and bananas.  This is a whole post about bananas.You’re welcome.

Just kidding!

Both Ultra running and animation require a unique kind of mental stamina and will power to keep doing this crazy thing day in and day out (…or all night).  In ultra running, as UltraRunnerGirl’s blog beautifully explains is 90-100% mental–its not about being a terribly good or fast runner, its about staying in the game till the end, who can outlast the mental and physical exhaustion to accomplish a crazy near impossible feat.  Its about your brain telling your body to keep going even when all logic and common sense say otherwise–when you’re tired and you’re toes are purple and everything sucks because YOU’VE BEEN RUNNING FOR 24 HOURS STRAIGHT!  Animation (especially grad school) is equally about finding a way to work through your mental and physical exhaustion.  Its about finding the motivation within yourself after a full day of work to pull out your frames and tackle the problems, to face poor, painfully honest critiques and keep working.  Its about reaching the point of frustration where you’re ready to throw in the towel and question why you even wanted this degree/this life and sitting back down at your desk anyway to restart that scene for the millionth time.  Its accepting a lifetime of rejection in a competitive field where you’ll constantly be asked to find that mental strength to keep going anyway.

Often when I tell someone I’m studying animation who isn’t involved in the art field, they tell me a story about how they knew a child, friend, cousin, etc. who tried that but you have to be in the top or you’ll never get anywhere–thanks–how uplifting.  Realistically–yes–you must be good but that statement seems to imply that these people in the ‘top’ just woke up one morning and could animate like the pros, that the reason their child, friend, cousin, dog couldn’t make it in the animation industry was because they just didn’t have the skills–Damn those genetics! Whatcha gonna do–NOT TRUE.  These people in the top they had the mental perseverance to keep going in the face of rejection, long hours, and exhaustion–yes they had above average skill but that alone wont land you a job in the industry–or at least it wont keep you there.

And so that’s why I read blogs from ultra-runners–they get it, I think they’re kinda crazy, but they get it.  And in a world where most of my peers have settled into full time jobs and go to bed at 10pm–I need to read about SOMEONE that doesn’t tell me ‘I NEEEED 8 hours of sleep’ or ‘I’d go to school, but I can’t do those hours’–Weeks like this week when I’m crazy busy but starting to see progress–FINALLY–I’m tired–SOOO tired but I wouldn’t trade it, I love animation and illustration–I’ll sleep when I’m dead (actual advice from my actual art teacher at UCD).

Animation Thoughts


My train is runinng a bit slow this morning so I thought I’d share some of the things i’m learning about creating animation with you this morning–also if I don’t do anything I’ll fall asleep–fun fact about grad school + working it means some pretty late nights & early mornings–last night was no exception, now if I could only get the internet to work in Amtrak–we’d be in business–but no such luck–so far.  Anyway–animation–

Correct your keys and breakdowns BEFORE moving ahead to in betweens.

Okay this sounds like it should be a no-brainer for anyone doing animation but in my last scene I second guessed myself and thought I couldn’t tell if the animation ‘worked’ without the in betweens. I moved ahead too early and am paying the price– a painstakingly slow redo of work I ‘completed’ over the last couple of weeks.



When I’m first coming up with acting for a scene my mind is everywhere and I try several different variations to of the same action–and then inevitable choose some strange combination of everything I’ve tried. No No No! Good animation is simple and relies on motivation driven ACTING to point A to point B not the strangest most complicated action imaginable. I need to first get into who my character is and why they are doing what they are doing (motivation!) and cut out the rest of the fluff. Surprisingly I think the acting/posing/expression stuff might be one of my strengths but I tend to second guess my choices–stop that!–and come out with something strange.