A Mazing Time

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.

Endpaper from a book published in Scotland in 1842. Encyclopædia Britannica 7th edition

This is a perfect image of my 2015: Endpaper from a book published in Scotland in 1842. Encyclopædia Britannica 7th edition—from the Wikipedia article on Marbled Paper

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.

The dream sequence from Book One of Mermaid Music. You can read the webcomic here.

The dream sequence from Book One of Mermaid Music. You can read the webcomic here.

The Quadra Cats met a new friend this fall. He hasn't got a real name yet, but he thinks his name is Scat Cat.

The Quadra Cats met a new friend this fall. He hasn’t got a real name yet, but he thinks his name is Scat Cat. You can see all of them so far here.

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:

This was for a project about private vs public donors. I had great fun doing a bit of caricature of famous folks, and drawing all the people behind them—in my mind they all had interesting and unique stories. This was created in watercolour and ink, and then digitally broken apart to "pop in" different segments of the illustration. You can see the whole video here.

This was for a project about private vs public donors, and how they are viewed by the recipients. I had great fun doing a bit of caricature of famous folks, and drawing all the people behind them—in my mind they all had interesting and unique stories. This was created in watercolour and ink, and then digitally broken apart to “pop in” different segments of the illustration. You can see the whole video here.

This was for the second video project, which was about finding ways to bridge the frictions between factions in environmental disputes, and get them talking to each other. This project allowed me to do some digital colouring, as the client preferred that look. This illustration is about the muzzling of activists and scientists in Canada.

This was for the second video project, which was about finding ways to bridge the frictions between factions in environmental disputes, and get them talking to each other. This project allowed me to do some digital colouring, as the client preferred that look. This illustration is about the muzzling of activists and scientists in Canada. This video is not yet public, but I hope to be able to post about it soon!

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!

A collage of some of the shows I did this year. And this jumble is a good illustration of what it felt like!

A collage of some of the shows I did this year. And this jumble is a good illustration of what it felt like!

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!

… and stories of one page to many, as well as poems.

Some of the work of my comics students!

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).

Mak a year ago. I've been wanting to write a proper memorial for him, with some of the art he's inspired, but I'm still too tender.

Mak a year ago. I’ve been wanting to write a proper memorial for him, with some of the art he’s inspired, but I’m still too tender to write properly about him.

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.

"Tabby in the Garden" — one of my Inktober cats that I hadn't posted here at the time. Brush pen and Prismacolor markers

“Tabby in the Garden” — one of my Inktober cats that I hadn’t posted here at the time. Brush pen and Prismacolor markers

One of my Inktober fairies. I made little rhymes to go with them and packaged them up as colouring packets to give away on Halloween. The idea was to be candy-free, but my hubby couldn't stand the thought of not offering the kiddies chocolate, so he went out and bought some really good chocolate (in case there was any left over, of course)! What a guy!

One of my Inktober fairies. I made little rhymes to go with them and packaged them up as colouring packets to give away on Halloween. The idea was to be candy-free, but my hubby couldn’t stand the thought of not offering the kiddies chocolate, so he went out and bought some really good chocolate (in case there was any left over, of course)! What a guy!

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.

I made this almost entirely in Photoshop; only the basic outlines were done in brush-pen.

I made this almost entirely in Photoshop; only the basic outlines were done in brush-pen. I’ve been learning lots about doing digital art this year!

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!

My order of kitty stickers came from Redbubble yesterday! I'm going to stick them on everything, buwahaha!

My order of kitty stickers came from Redbubble yesterday! I’m going to stick them on everything, buwahaha! (Redbubble gives a 50% discount if you buy six or more stickers)

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.

15 responses to “A Mazing Time

    • Thanks, Sharon — I certainly astonished myself with this post. It was a hard summer, but I’m feeling pretty much like my old self again. On to more adventures! Thanks for reading, and thanks for all your comments throughout the year — I truly appreciate hearing from you!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks, Marcia. Yes, we are still very sad. He was a real gift to our lives. Thank you for letting us be his second family.

    I don’t know how I do it either. If I ever figure it out I’ll bottle it and sell it! But seriously, my thought at this point is that a year is longer than it seems, and when you look back at it, 365 days is a fair bit of time to make stuff and do things. If I have one resolution this year, it’s to make even better use of that time!

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  2. Pingback: New Year, Fresh Start! | Mermaid Music·

  3. That’s only part of what you did too. I’m exhausted just reading this! You must have mastered time travel. Also, all of that Photoshop and digital learning stuff takes me forever and you have many new skills under your belt this year. I salaam in awe and adoration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heehee, thanks! Well, it HAS been a rather busy year! No time travel yet. Working on it, at least in a comic. Digital stuff is kind of like anything else, for me — first I figure out the basics and practice, then collect new things a bit at a time. And practice. If I don’t practice, I forget.

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  4. I had not seen that character before! (I looked him up) I don’t watch a lot of videos, though I have started watching some animation recently because there is so much to learn from it for comics. I did visit your blog — I loved the baby break dancers!

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