Another year is on the wane, winking out like the stars in the morning. 2015, as with all years, has had its own distinctive personality, with quirks and vices and virtues. Think about it—not only defined by the things we hear about on the news, the ups and downs of economies and politics, but fed by the individual experiences of 7.3 billion people. All those dreams, plans, successes, failures—feeding into the collective construct of one arbitrary turn around the sun. And all of us have our own unique facet on this gigantic sparkling gem hanging in time: some dark, some brightly coloured, some shining like a sun.
My own particular facet of 2015 looks rather like Italian marbled paper. You know; the kind they still use as endpapers on fine letterpress books. There are swirls of many colours: dark, light, rich, dull—lots of contrast. The patterns are all mixed together and swirl back upon themselves like a maze, the labyrinth I have walked for the last 365 days.
I thought this year would be pretty straightforward. I had Plans, and Resolutions (and silly me, I even blogged about them). Well, 2015 dragged a marbling rake through my carefully laid expectations, and gave me some real surprises. My creative year ended up being an intricately interlaced series of illustration projects, from which I learned a lot—a lot!—but which sometimes kept me from the comics-making path. No matter; I managed to wander a fair bit there, too: I got my webcomic, Mermaid Music, running and published the first chapter (though it is currently on hiatus). The Quadra Cats continued their adventures, which are soon going to take off beyond the quarterly ones I do for the neighbourhood paper.
I completed two video illustration projects this year, each of which was the equivalent in energy and time expenditure to doing a picture book. Thank goodness all I had to do was the illustration part, and not the video editing — though that was one of my “to-learn” list items for 2015. Here are a couple of my favourite illustrations from each video:
I managed to show at several events this year: CCAF, VanCAF, the Enchanted Forest Festival, VCON, the Duncan Comics Expo, the Monterey Centre Artists and Artisans show, and of course my own recent open studio. Not as many as I would have liked, but looking back, it was plenty!
I also taught two 6-week comics courses this year at the Monterey Centre in Oak Bay, a new subject for me to be teaching, and as a result, I added that nifty “comics class” button that you will see if you look up on the top of the left hand column. I also taught a 5-week Perspective course and a couple of weekend workshops in watercolours and coloured pencils. One of the things on my list from last year’s post was to do more tutorial-type stuff, and I guess that fits the bill!
However, life has a way of biting back when you’re running full tilt. In June, my beloved kitty muse, Mak, passed away suddenly, still a fairly young cat, of a mysterious illness, despite an agonizing week of hope and despair in the pet hospital. As those of you who have been following this blog know, Mak hung about my studio helping, was the subject of several paintings, had his own comic story, and was the inspiration for Tux in the Quadra Cats comic. Between this loss and trying to obey my inner slavedriver, I managed to exhaust myself to the point of needing to visit the doctor. I ended up doing a lot of reflecting and rearranging of my priorities (which could be a blog post in and of itself, but not now).
So I’m slowing down a bit. I put Mermaid Music on a temporary hiatus (I was hoping to get back to it in November, but projects, conventions, and holidays intervened). I wasn’t ready to get back to a long term project yet; I needed something that I could do in small bites. Enter Inktober! The little kitty drawings and fairies I did throughout the month helped give my muse some exercise (yes, Iris the Art Muse is still with me, just not posing for comics at the moment) and help ease some of my sadness.
I also ended up organizing the December exhibition and open house at my studio co-op, Xchanges. What can I say? I have a bad case of volunteer-itis. Fortunately, I’m also good at delegating. I love having minions. But I saved one fun task for myself—making the poster! I designed this box of “art chocolates” for the poster, and later made postcards for myself from it.
Another thing I’ve managed to shoehorn in this year is to start a RedBubble shop. Take a look! I ordered some of my own merch for Christmas presents, and I’ve been impressed with the quality of the products so far (still waiting for the t-shirts, totes, and journals — I think we’re going to have New Year’s presents at our house). And oh yes… I still have to make a “shop” button for the menu here!
I’ve got other projects on the go; I’m in three bands at the moment, which vary in their draw on my time — but there have been practices and gigs and even a band trip to a festival. There’s a new comics collective in Victoria, which I am helping to organize, and we’re just about to start our first anthology publication. I’ve got more ideas for comics than I know what to do with, and plans for one more book of Mermaid Music in the works, and a Quadra Cats collection. I want to learn Adobe Illustrator, and Manga Studio, and get better at digital art. I want to learn to knit. I want to learn to play my new silver flute and my new keyed Irish flute and hubby’s grandpa’s fiddle. I’m considering doing pet portraits. I want a new kitty muse.
Writing this year-end post has been an enlightening exercise. Sometimes over the past year I’ve felt that I wasn’t doing much of anything because I wasn’t getting my New-Year’s-Resolution goals accomplished. I can’t see ahead, but I can look back, and what I see has pleased me.
2015 was a very full year. Looks like 2016 will be too. And any resolutions I make? Well… they’re more like guidelines.