One of the things I reluctantly did last year was start an Instagram account, as I knew if I was going to have to start marketing my own stories and works more I needed to take the plunge into this visually-driven social media site.
I have only been on it a few months with just around 500 followers (small potatoes in Instagram terms, so I’ve been told), but I still thought it would be interesting to use one of those “Top Nine” free apps that collect and reveal a user’s top nine most liked posts of the year. Compared to the grand majority of Instagram users, my numbers were humble, to say the least. I didn’t care about that as much as I seeing how my art progressed, and the different paths I took to navigate my way through this past year.
Like everyone else, it stated in March when the “stay safe” “stay at home” mantras begin, and like many other people I found myself out of a job. I’ve talked in the past about starting my own home business and trying to market it, but I also found myself with less excuse not to do what I always loved, drawing and painting…and I am admittedly not very good at it.
However, with each little doodle, each drawing, each “drawing prompt” challenge, and each new idea, I documented my own personal path of the wild journey which was 2020.
I always liked to sketch, and doodle, and talked about several times here at GeekMom. I even shared how my family has been trying to keep “Creatively Challenged” as recently as last April.
It was about that time, I had found some great ways artists were sharing ideas on helping both kids and adults stay focused and artistically active with ideas like the #SixFanArts or #ABCFanArt challenges. My daughters and I enjoyed these little daily sketching challenges, and I threw myself into the landscapes of Gotham City while I contemplated what to do next with my life.
I begin sketching more ideas, trying to sell some of my arts and crafts on Etsy, hoping to focus on some retro nose art styles, but I begin to expand my interests. My Etsy items that were selling weren’t my paintings, but my little clay sculptures, but I felt a day was lost unless I had done at least one little drawing. These ideas were surfacing as I watched both my daughters move out of the high school and elementary school phases of their life without the usual ceremony and fanfare that comes with this.
Over the summer, I made sure to take part in summer challenges like Toon June, which helped of escape when we couldn’t travel over the summer months. I also did my share of binging, and the results of my different new fandoms inspired my sketches. As a longtime supporter of the importance of fanart, created my share of mediocre images inspired by the series Lucifer. Somewhere around August, I even did a Lucifer DIY for GeekMom, and shortly after the official series Twitter begin following me. This means I need to up my game and make another craft when the second part of Season 5 comes out. The drawings, however, were a more personal passion.
I had a big revelation in the summer, as well, and that was I didn’t mind “cheating” a little with camera obscura techniques or drawing with a stylus on a tablet. I used to think if you used any type of digital means, you weren’t a real “artist.” Some of my “noir sketches” and digital paintings changed my perspective. If I was enjoying the process, then I was being creative. I even used digital apps like Procreate to clean up some of inconsistent flaws in my hand-drawn art, and relied on it heavily during all through a “Classictember” art challenge focused on the works of Blake Edwards and Alfred Hitchcock. While I did these, I thought about the classic movies my father got me into, and was able to show him my progress. My dad died of cancer in December, but at least he got to see I was still appreciating the movies I first learned about through watching with him on “the cable.”
About October, when my favorite time of year when Halloween and crisp fall days were passing by without the cool festivals and happy haunts, dove into Inktober, which used to be one of the few October prompts around. This year, were at several different month-long prompts, some of them focused to a specific “universe” like Bendy and the Ink Machine or Studio Ghibli. I couldn’t do them all, so I focused on two, Inktober and Mabs Drawlloween Challenge, and combined both word prompts into one sketch. I made some watercolor washed backgrounds, and ended up creating my most popular “Top Nine” piece, my retro Werewolf, as well as another personal favorite of the year, my floating “ghost girl” who reminds me of Japanese horror movies.
After “Inktober,” came “Noirvember” which helped get me to the last month of the year. Getting through December and the holidays, I made up my own schedule. I did a holiday special “advent” countdown. While juggling holiday plans with family, funeral preps and end-of-the-year necessities that come with being “a grownup,” My little sketching moments were my little time to myself.
I drew and I drew, and I sketched and I sketched, and the ideas, and art challenges, either set up by others and self-imposed, just kept coming. Whatever was going on in my life, good, bad or tragic, I found and excuse to sit and squeak some markers over paper or play with a stylus and tablet. I’m still in the middle of one series no one but me even cares about, but that’s okay. I have another slew of ideas already in my mental queue.
I guess, for me, trying to jot something out at least once a day has become a sort of compulsion, or even a mild addiction. Should I stop and concentrate on more practical matters best suited for a mom in her early 50s (whatever the heck that is)? Well, my family isn’t neglected, I’m keeping up with writing and my physical activity, and I’m trying to sit down and read more again, so my answer to myself is “Nah.” When I read about how cases of depression and suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic crimes and other very, very unhealthy realities happened this past year, I should feel blessed my biggest “addiction” has been the overwhelming urge to stay creative.
At least, even when I look back at my 2020 in house, at least I have something to show for it, even if it is a pile of amateurish fan art and goofy doodles. Some people like them, and I’m grateful could bring a smile to their faces. With each drawing, I can recall exactly what was going on in the world, and in my world at the time.
Of course, with 2021 barely ticking in, people are already finding things to argue, gripe and complain about. That won’t ever change. There’s already a meme circulating sharing the sentiment “if you read this year out loud it says “2020 Won.”
I’ll admit, 2020 got in a few jabs in my life, some of them will leave some permanent bruises, but I can tell you it didn’t defeat me or my family.
No matter what is coming up the road in 2021, I’ll still keep trying to pay a few bills with writing jobs, but I’ll have my handy little sketchpads (paper and digital) ready to keep me creative and sane.
If you want to keep my sketching life in 2021, and perhaps begin your own journey on paper, you can give me a follow on Instagram at @ghouliegardens.