Studio Journal 3: The Easy Stuff, and a Photo Safari

When faced with overwhelming details in a big job, if there is no clear beginning point, I often start with the easy stuff just to get started. From there, order, sequence, and comprehensibility seem to radiate outward like the warmth of the sun after a cold winter. (OK, I’m dreaming a bit here.) Last time I wrote, I shared pictures of the Chaos Zones of my studio. Some areas were better than others, some were downright scary. I decided to sneak up on the scary ones by starting with an easy one, my small drawing table and its surroundings. Here’s the after pic:


All ready for work! I hung up some pictures that needed to not be on the floor, organized my watercolour stuff and my sculpting stuff, and sorted the drawings for the upcoming Quadra Cats spinoff book, Alien Cat’s Compendium of Galactic Felines. Looks all cozy! Now if I could just ignore the rest of the room…

But I won’t. And I won’t take so long to post again, but I can see that sometimes I’m not going to be able to go by strict weeks. Last week just seemed to grow things-to-do every time I picked my head up from whatever task I was finishing, so I barely went into my studio. Then I took the weekend off to spend with a dear old friend that I haven’t seen in over a decade — and one of the things we did was to go on an urban photo-safari!

Beacon Hill Park is the gem of all the many parks here in Victoria BC. Even though it’s winter, flowers are beginning to bloom, the peacocks are strutting around, and the textures of bare trees and moss present photogenic opportunities almost everywhere you look. Here are a few of my favourites:


The tangled branches emerging from the mud by the duck pond caught my eye with their subtle colours.


I chased peacocks around in slow-motion for quite a while before I managed to get this shot. They will pose beautifully still for a while, then just as you go to snap the shutter, they move. I’m sure they are giggling.


This peahen is posing like a queen! The peacocks were already starting to fluff up their not-quite full-grown tails and court the ladies; I think it’s going to take a pretty showy gent to win this proud one’s favour.


These rhododendrons started blooming a couple of weeks ago, and I was astounded to find them. When I posted the pics of the first shivering blooms on Facebook, expressing amazement, a friend told me that these bushes always bloom in January!


There are wild-ish areas to the park, too. This path leads up to an overlook of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the body of water that separates our island from the Olympic Peninsula to the south, which is part of the US. I imagine this as a good setting for a hobbit looking back and waving at the beginning of a journey.


Signs of life! The bulbs (daffodils here, I think) are popping up all over the place, and the fuzzy buds of magnolia trees are growing fatter. The annual beds haven’t been planted yet and look so bare, but it makes things like this stand out all the more vividly.


Hellebores in bud. If I go back this week, I expect these will have opened. I’ve been wandering the park often lately, since I swim twice a week nearby, and it’s been fun to see the changes as spring approaches. Taking photos causes me to notice details I’d never see otherwise; it makes me slow down and really see what I’m looking at.


A different variety of hellebore. I love the fact that the centre structures in three of these flowers are in three different stages of development. I think these would be fun to draw, and I might just do so. Another benefit of taking so many photos is that I never lack for my own unique reference material!


There is so much water in the park: little streams and waterfalls, tiny ponds and small lakes, canals… everywhere are ducks and other waterfowl. They are used to being fed, so they swim over to see you if you come near the water. But they quickly lose interest if bread or kibble is not promptly produced, and go back to eating their pond-weed, cute little duck-bums in the air.


The rocks wear their cloaks of moss proudly, gazing at themselves in the still pools.


Moss is everywhere, brightening up with the longer days and the constant rain. There is even a moss-woman sleeping in a hidden glade.


This medieval-looking bridge over one of the lakes is a favourite spot of mine. Someday, someday, I’ll get around to drawing it. Maybe even on location.


The Garry-Oaks (a variety of white oak) are magnificent in the winter. Their twisty branches create labyrinths of shadow and light that I never grow tired of pointing my camera at. And then sometimes…

garry oak fairy tree

I take my photos home and play with them some more. This one started as the photo above, then got half a dozen or so passes through Photoshop filters, ultra-saturation, and some circular-gradient fairy lights before I decided I was done playing and let it be.

See you next week! Meanwhile, I’ll be in the studio — besides my project of bringing order to my small creative space, I’ve got some comics to ink (can’t post about that project yet), a little spot-illustration to do, and a Kickstarter to plan!


4 responses to “Studio Journal 3: The Easy Stuff, and a Photo Safari

  1. Your studio looks good. I’ll be doing some organizing over the weekend myself. It’s been awhile since I’ve been there, other than to grab a few items to work on outside of the studio.

    You should be very inspired from your outing. Have fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Good for you — I can tell from your posts you’re on a creative roll, and getting back in the studio will probably inspire you even more. And you’re right — getting out was inspiring too. I think there’s some kind of balance thing happening here.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, both for the compliments, and letting me know that this journal is a positive influence. We creative types tend to go from creating one thing to the next so eagerly until things pile up — it’s hard to stop just for the pesky reason of clearing some work-space, haha!

      Liked by 1 person

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