The Newest Children’s Book

You are So Special TeaserHere is a little teaser for the next book that shall be releasing soon! I am quite excited about this fourth title I was blessed to illustrate for Barbara Poor!

This one took me 7 months. I am praying that it makes little children smile.  I absolutely loved illustrating this one.  Barbara is such an incredible author, poet, and lyricist. She never ceased to amaze me with her unending talents! Stay tuned for more.  Those who follow me on Patreon have had a greater behind the scenes tour of this and all of the books I have illustrated.  If you think that sounds like something you would be into, be sure to follow me on Patreon.  It comes with tons of perks.  You can check it out here.

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Papered Creations And Keepsakes

Hello there! I hope everyone is having a beautiful summer! It still seems odd that it is already summer here.  Of course, with a heat index at 103º and over 80% humidity, there is no denying it is a Florida summer.  Normally, I would be writing about our epic summer adventures to the state parks or museums.  However, this year we have not been able to, as it seems Mother Nature has decided we need rain. Each….and…..every….single….day!

Within as much, we have been spending more time indoors, playing games, and frequenting stores.  The latter part is dangerous as an artist.  Especially if you are an artist with influential artist friends! I have to find someone other than myself to share the blame with!

Now, I have a propensity to have a million projects going at once.  Believe me, this is only a slight exaggeration. Presently, I have 3 paintings I am working on, another 5 that need varnishing, two pendants, 5 VR sculptures, 3 sketches, and then, of course, there are the 30 some odd illustrations I am amidst for the next book I am illustrating, as well as a few commissions.  So, artistically speaking, I already had a relatively full plate.  And these are just the items I can remember without checking!

Why would ANYONE possibly add more…………………………………….

Then, I decide after my frustrations of hand making cards this past Christmas, that I should return to hand making all of my greeting cards. I mentioned this previously, here.

Kira and I crafting together

The image above was from December 2017. Kira was hand making bracelets as Christmas gifts, while I desperately tried to figure out how to hand make shaker cards.  Every tutorial included instructions for machines like the Cricut. Trying to be precise with scissors and an exacto was difficult at best! Because I have neuropathy, holding tools is incredibly difficult and painful.  I drop things, a lot. The cards each took approximately 3 days to make. My husband would tease me and say I could just buy a box of generic cards for the same price the embossing powders, ribbons, glue, and paper cost. However, I have always had a passion for creating cards.  I knew I could do this.

card

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing it all by hand without a cutting machine or stampers was a bit taxing.  It took more time than it should.  I took a short cut, I drew the snow man digitally, printed it up on card stock, and fussy cut him out to add in.  I wish I had thought to photograph the other cards I made.  I created a total of 6.  They all either had the snowman or a reindeer I created. Hardly professional at all, but completely from the heart.

Conceivably, I could do this every year if it were just 6 cards I needed.  However, I have 6 siblings; each have their own children, and virtually all of their children now have children of their own.  Add to that my blessings of many close friends, and Aunts, Uncles, cousins, and well, the average is well over 100 cards.

Over the years, I have sent less and less cards, despite the fact our family has continued to grow.  Every holiday or special event that passes makes me feel a little more guilty for not doing what I really loved to do, all simply because it took more time than I had.  As a homeschooling parent, and an illustrator, time has become a very precious commodity.

I had learned about the embossing powders from a dear friend, who mentioned it in passing. When I first acquired the powders and heating tool, I figured it would help me create envelopes for a special envelope group I was a part of. Then I started seeing images of cards on social media that several of my artist friends were making.  I was simply enamored with the professionalism and exquisite designs I saw.  Then…I…saw it….the…SHAKER CARD!  I instantly fell in love.  I knew I had to create one.  I spent virtually hours watching YouTube tutorials and reading tutorial blogs in my spare time. All, of course, touting their wonderful cutting machines.  I already had an over abundance of cutting tools for my pop up greeting cards and kirigami that I had been creating for years. I figured I could do it all myself, not realizing just how long it would take.

This dear friend who first mentioned embossing powder to me then mentioned acquiring a cutting machine, specifically the Gemini Jr. I began to research.  The price tag was simply more than I could ever dare dream of.  My friend kept sharing pictures, videos and websites.  I was slowly falling in love with the idea, slowly realizing I would inevitably acquire some sort of cutting machine.

Fast forward, I am now considering selling these cards. I am attempting to design cards for everyone.  I want to create unique cards that cannot be found anywhere else, that perfectly suit sentiments for those who simply do not have the time (like me) to create them! The absolute worst case scenario being I do not sell a single card.  But it matters not, as I enjoy the process and now have the means to create my cards for my friends and family for all of our special moments in a fraction of the time, but still containing the full sentiment and still my own magical creation from my heart!

The card pictured above is my first sort-of-successful creation.  This is an anniversary card that I am sending to a very special couple.  I have enjoyed this process and am forever grateful to my friend for nudging me in the direction of cutting machines!

Stay tuned for more from Papered Creations and Keepsakes!

 

 

The Year Is Almost Half Over

The Year Is Almost Half Over

Wait, what did I just say?

The year is what?!?!?!?!?! Okay, can someone please tell me where this year has gone? For me, quite possibly, it has gone to sleep.  This Graves Disease is kicking me in the rear.  Post my last Endocrinologist appointment, my medication has been increased.  Crossing my fingers that this helps.  The symptoms of having my thyroid ablation are certainly taking a physical toll.  I went from a multitasking maniac to a lazy blob! My ambition to do anything other than sleep is at an all time low.  I am not sure how long the increased dosage takes to make an effect, but it has now been 4 days. So far, I have been a bit more productive, albeit not as much as I would like. On the upside, my ophthalmologist says I am at 20/20 and my vision issues are simply eye fatigue.  Guess all this sleeping makes my eyes tired?????

My over ambitious self has a million tasks that I want to do, plus a million more that are presently incomplete…  The biggest of which being the book I am presently illustrating.  It has been 5 months now….normally by now, I would have had everything complete, and here I sit still working on the illustrations! Thankfully, the author and the production company are completely understanding and patient with me. I wish I could be as patient with myself.

One of the illustrations I am presently working on

I have acquired new tools to begin my greeting card line endeavor. It seemed silly to allow another company to sell my cards and reap the rewards by keeping the lion’s share of the profits for my work and design. Thankfully, my family is extremely supportive in this expensive venture. Anything artistic I try to do, they always allow me to dive in head first.  Their support is an amazing blessing for which I shall always be grateful.  I also know the investment is not foolhardy when my daughter is a creative artist too.  Now, if only we had a home that would support this both structurally and specially we would be set! If I sell enough cards…

First trial making a shadow box card

I also received my new set of lenses.  Photography has become one of my favorite hobbies lately. There is something so incredibly satisfying about capturing what I see as I see it and being able to share it with others.  My art is always fantasmical and photography has become my realism. Nature is simply too gorgeous to not photograph.

cool mishap, picture of the lens

Then there is this little high schooler here.  How my baby has turned into a high schooler seemingly over night is beyond me.  With high school comes career choices and extra studies, college focusing and testing.

Adding in the little other chores life provides, cooking, cleaning, pets, review, etc….

So sleeping over 8 hours each day is not acceptable, yet if I get less than 10 I am unable to function lately. This is even with coffee!

 

 

 

 

Living The Dream

I always giggle when someone tells me they are jealous of how I can sit around and draw all day. I have been told by several that I am living the dream.
If that were what I did, I could see why someone might envy me. However, that could not be further than the truth. In a year, I earn less than what an average minimum wage salary provides. And for that I work, on average, 120 hours a week. Out of those 120 hours, you may be surprised to learn that approximately only 30-40 hours are actually spent ‘drawing’. Behind the scenes, I do way more. I am doing social media managing and marketing, all PR, all advertising, and customer service completely alone. I am not allowed to use my own Imagination on every project and have to create what another wants. This means multiple revisions to achieve what a client sees as perfection. On virtually every book, with the exception of two children’s stories that I have illustrated, I also did the editing, formatting, cover creating, and submitting to the printers as well as all advertising, social media and book trailers.
Why do I bring this up today? Because I just spent my entire morning and afternoon updating my own website, http://www.alysathena.com/ to reflect new laws. If you are anything like me, you really never read the “terms of service”, “privacy policies”, or “use of cookies”. Yet I had to add these lovely bits of information. So when you think I am doodling and drawing all day long and how lucky I am, please realize, I work. I work VERY hard. It is incredibly time consuming and hardly lucrative. Most part-time workers earn more in a week than I do in two months.
I love my job because I am able to do it even though I am disabled and can still educate Kira.
I am not complaining at all, I know I am blessed.
But, please, never confuse my hard work for luck.

Sculpting Virtually

I may have previously mentioned sculpting and art within virtual reality, I do not remember if I have. Another fun health issue, my ever failing memory.  I combed my previous posts and did not site one addressing this, and as it is one the mediums I seem to be adoring the most as of late, I would be remiss to not mention it.

The above is a quick burst of some of the sculpting I have been trying to learn in Virtual Reality.

When I first tried VR a while ago, it was on a unit that went with my cell phone.  The VR Gear from Oculus, designed specifically for Samsung.  I knew the minute I “stepped in” that I would be hooked.

Many moons ago,  (1995 to be specific) I fell in love with a television show called VR5*.  The concept behind this show truly drew me in. Once the show stopped airing, my fascination remained.

Fast forward to 2015, a friend tagged me in on a post via Facebook.  The post showed someone immersed in a virtual reality scene and drawing all around them.  I swear to you, my heart stopped.  My eyes filled with tears.  Okay, even now as I am typing this, I am welling up with tears.  I really cannot explain to you the feeling.  It was just incredible. I knew I HAD to have this.

When it was time to replace our cell phones, I was surprised to see that as a bonus, the company was offering the choice of either the VR kit or an expanded memory card.  My husband chose the expanded memory card and I, obviously chose the VR. Thankfully, later my husband gave me the memory card too as between the VR and my propensity to take pictures of everything and everything I needed it.

When the kit arrived, I dove right in.  I was a bit gutted to then realize the art program I was tagged on earlier was not available on the phone based VR.  I was shattered.  Okay, that is a bit dramatic, I wasn’t shattered, but I was a bit saddened.  Nonetheless, the fact that this amazing device made everything look better to my failing eyes was amazing.  Plus, well, I am a gamer, so I got straight on that aspect and began playing non stop.

Suddenly, I started reading more and more about the virtual art.  I found one app that actually did work on the set I had.  Sadly, it was just not as intuitive as those I was seeing advertised and boasted about.

My husband is an amazing man.  He is not an art fan, whatsoever. However, he has always been extremely supportive of me and my career and the many financial burdens it places on us as a family.  Let’s face it, artistry and illustration is hardly lucrative. Nonetheless, he has never once suggested it is a burden. So, it should be no surprise that he went in head first and purchased me the full system needed to use Oculus Rift. Though my computer was not that old at the time, it certainly lacked a lot that was the required minimum to run a Virtual Reality system. As if the system itself alone weren’t expensive enough, this required a brand new computer and monitor. Did I mention he is amazing already?

It has been a love affair ever since.  I do not manage to do art and sculpt nearly as often as I would like to enable myself the time needed to learn it all.  However, for now as I am amidst normal day to day chores, home schooling my beautiful teenager, and illustrating children’s picture books, I realize any time at all to do anything else at all is precious!

My eye sight is worsening and I missed my last appointment and must reschedule it soon.  I fear I may not be able to achieve all I would like via VR as if I cannot see, that will be something I absolutely cannot do.

To see my sculpting progress please feel free to follow my Oculus Gallery.

You can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel. For now, I am not publishing sculpting videos, I hope to once I learn more.

 

My first attempt at sculpting.

 

 

 This is supposed to be a love monster.

 

 Tried making a lighthouse.

*To learn more about VR5 please visit it’s Wikipedia Page or the IMDB Page. Episodes are also available on YouTube.

March

A quick little post wishing everyone a blessed March.  Hard to believe we are already passed the middle of the third month into 2018.  I swear, the older I get the faster time flies!

Here are a couple of my March doodles.  Once celebrates today, St. Patrick’s Day, the other for Pi day, March 14.

pi st pattys day

I Am Excited!!!!

new curly

I am beyond excited to announce that I am presently amidst illustrations for a fourth children’s book written by the incredibly talented Barbara Poor!
It is an honor to be allowed to illustrate for Barbara once again. Her stories inspire my inner creativity and help me grow immensely as an illustrator. Barbara is always kind and goes above and beyond in all that she does. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and look forward to this new artistic adventure with her. Stay tuned for more!