Frame Mandalas!

You can use these mandalas to frame a drawing or a photograph, or just color them and leave them as-is! Use them however you want really, it’s up to you 🙂 I’d love to see your work if you ever do use them for anything!

You can find these and all my other digitally-drawn coloring pages in this Google Drive folder.

These were inspired by my mom, who decorated clear photo holders to have fun frames, in which she displays photos of her granddaughter! I would love to paint real frames in the future, perhaps after my No Buy is over!

Thanks for stopping by, stay safe and healthy! I’ll see you in the next post 😀

My sketchbook system: 4 is the magic number!

(If you take a sip of water every time I use the word “sketchbook” in this post, you should be quite hydrated by the time you’re done reading!)

Like many artists, I have suffered from constantly craving a shiny new sketchbook. I would often buy a new one before finishing the one I was working in, leaving the old one to collect dust. This is why one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2022 was to finish filling 3 of those partially-filled sketchbooks, and at the beginning of July I was able to achieve that goal! Yesterday I went above and beyond, completing a fourth!

Through my Art Supply No Buy I have come to accept that I am not a “sketchbook monogamist” and that variety of materials is important to me. Tidiness and a minimalistic lifestyle are also important to me though, so I have come up with a system: I may have 4 sketchbooks active at any one time, but they each have their own use. These four categories of sketchbook are as follows:

  • One medium to large, white paper, dry or mixed media sketchbook.
  • One medium to large, black paper, mixed media sketchbook.
  • One watercolor paper sketchbook, of any size or color.
  • One pocket size sketchbook, of any media or color.

These categories allow me to have just enough variety for all the mediums and sizes I want to work with, while also giving me a hard limit on sketchbooks to prevent over-purchasing. When I run out of sketchbooks in one category at that point I may purchase one new one for the same category. So for example: if I fill up my black paper sketchbook I may buy a new black paper sketchbook, but not a new sketchbook of any other category… No matter how tempting the options may be!

My No Buy rules allow for replacements and refills when necessary. Because of this, depending on just how much I create this year, I could possibly find myself purchasing a new sketchbook before the year is over. Black paper is the category I am most likely to actually go all the way through, because I only have one small pad of black paper in surplus besides the sketchbook I am currently working in. We will just have to see what happens, but that could be quite exciting!

I decided to take an inventory of all the sketchbooks I have left that are waiting to be filled:

  • 2 in the medium to large white paper category, the larger one is about half-full and the other is completely empty.
  • 2 in the black mixed media category, one is about half-full and the other is a pad of removable paper I have only used one sheet from.
  • 2 in the travel size category, although they are a bit bigger than I’d prefer. In the future sketchbooks of this size will be in the medium to large category, I just don’t want to buy anything right now so they will stay put. The smaller one is about half-full, the other is completely empty.
  • 1 in the watercolor category, with a few pages full. You would think I might find myself needing another before the end of the year, but with a crazy almost-9-month-old it is hard to find time to watercolor.

Between filling up 4 sketchbooks and donating a few others, I have dropped my surplus numbers into the single digits! This is very exciting for me. I now see a number of sketchbooks I could imagine myself filling in the next 12 months, maybe even less, especially if I keep drawing as often as I have been lately.

I have to attribute a lot of this success to my change in lifestyle choices. I have not been playing video games for 42 days now, and over the last several years I have been working on cutting down on my internet consumption and overall screen time. Forcing oneself to allow for a healthy dose of boredom works wonders for increasing creativity and productivity, at least in my personal experience! Now I find drawing to be fun, a time for play and exploration, when previously it mostly felt like work and a chore compared to the instant gratification of the digital world.

Obviously technology still serves me, as I am currently writing this blog post on my smart phone. It has just become more of a tool than an entertainment device! I am currently very satisfied with my relationship to my tech and my art. It’s such a pleasure to be able to deliver such news!

It’s nice to get another post out again so soon, last night’s achievement has given me some momentum! My next post may take a while longer, but I will see you all there when it’s done. Stay safe and healthy!

Yet another sketchbook filled! That makes 4 this year!

Stickers courtesy of The Dollar Tree. I would love to credit the original artist but unfortunately they don’t so I have no idea who painted these lovely cacti!

These images are just a small sample of my favorite pages from this sketchbook.

The comic strips are collaborations with my partner, Jasper Rae. She did half the panels and I did the other half! It was a drawing game we came up with, one person draws a panel of a comic and then the other draws the next but with no communication or context other than the panel itself! It is based on other drawing games we’ve played and probably already existed in this same form before we thought of it, but nonetheless it is loads of fun and I highly recommend it!

I started this sketchbook all the way back in November of 2019, right after filling up the first sketchbook I ever filled from cover to cover! Most of it was actually filled in the last few months though, as part of my Art Supply No Buy side project of trying to finish up as many of my partially filled sketchbooks as possible. I “restarted” this sketchbook back in March, so it took only 4 months to fill the remaining 2/3 of the sketchbook!

While I won’t put a ton of pressure on myself to do so, I think it would be amazing if I actually managed to fill all of my semi-filled sketchbooks before the end of this year. I do own some blank ones still, so I won’t count those, but to just finally use the rest of all the ones I abandoned would be excellent. I hope to never abandon sketchbooks in such a way in the future, I plan on making much better purchasing decisions from now on!

I’ve got a couple things cooking in my drafts. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted (relatively, given how I used to go months between posts) I’ve just been rather busy lately! Thankfully it’s not because of procrastinating anymore, I’ve come to really enjoy writing and I look forward to making these posts.

I sincerely hope you are all doing well. Thanks again for all the support! See you in the next post, whenever that may be!

New Year’s Resolution: Complete!

(My tiny travel sketchbook started falling apart! A whole clump of pages fell out, which was very disappointing. So I decided to fill up the remaining 16 sheets as quickly as possible, which took 2 days. I had 3 more exactly like it, but unfortunately I will be donating them since they do not suit my needs. I hope they will serve their new owners well, they are very cute but they just aren’t durable enough for me.)

Included in my list of intentions for 2022 was a goal to finish up 3 of my partially filled sketchbooks, and near midnight of June 30th 2022 I accomplished exactly that!

My partner actually made it possible to finish before July, because she took on the job of filling the last 4 pages in my tiny travel sketchbook, much to my relief! I had been worried an hour and a half left in the day wouldn’t be enough time, as I am a chronic over-thinker! I set the deadline of midnight for myself because I heard it helps to set deadlines, especially if you’re prone to procrastinating. She really saved the day, I was feeling exhausted from the long day we had, and I’d already filled so many pages in such a short time!

My sketchbooks aren’t only for me, I love to invite others to draw in them and leave their mark. I cherish the drawings provided by others, they are the most special to me, far more important to me than anything I draw. I’m aware many artists may find me crazy for this, as for them their sketchbook is a sacred place for only them. I’m just not like that though, I enjoy art-making so much more when it’s with friends. My sketchbooks are like journals for me, which is why I also write in them and paste things in, they are books filled with memories. In my eyes, the doodle of a friend is a treasure.

I am so relieved to have, with plenty of help from my lovely partner, succeeded at finishing up 3 sketchbooks in a year. While it’s not quite as impressive as filling 3 brand-new sketchbooks from front to back in a year, I couldn’t be happier to have less clutter in my art cabinet! In the future I need to be diligent about not buying new sketchbooks if I don’t have a genuine need for one. I could write a whole post about my sketchbook categories and how I plan to handle purchasing new sketchbooks in the future, and I probably will honestly.

I would love to finish up even more sketchbooks this year, but either way this marks 7 sketchbooks filled, I am very satisfied with my progress! It took me twenty-something years to finally fill even just one, when I was younger I never would have imagined I’d actually fill seven entire books filled with intimidating blank paper.

That’s it for now, just wanted to share the celebration with you all! Have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next post!

Confusion of Love

I made this piece in February of 2009, when I was in the 7th grade and questioning my sexuality for the first time. By the time I created this I knew for certain I liked girls, but couldn’t decide if I also liked boys. That struggle continues to this day.

In a previous post I had labeled myself as pansexual, but that was a very recent decision. I had concluded I would probably love and stay with my partner regardless of how she identifies, therefore being attracted to her regardless of gender. However, today I decided to change the wording of that post and revert back to the Nonbinary Lesbian lable I have been so comfortable with for the past 5+ years.

Although it may sound contradictory to someone unfamiliar with the terms, yes I do identify as both Nonbinary and a Lesbian. This is because our language lacks words that would better describe how I feel. Sex, as in one’s body parts and chromosomes, is not a factor in who I am attracted to. Gender on the other hand, a personal identity and social performance, does for some reason. I am attracted to people that, for lack of better words, have “feminine energy”. This isn’t to say I am not attracted to masculine women though, and I’m not sure how to explain better what I mean by it.

I am also “woman-aligned”. My relationship to gender is so tumultuous I can no longer return to the label and identity of “cisgender woman”, but when forced to “pick a side” between man and woman I always choose woman. This unfortunately happens quite often, an example is when filling out forms that only have two options for gender and there is no way to write anything else. When I can discuss my gender more at length as I am doing here, I am able to convey that I reject the binary and don’t want to be forced into a box. I also continue to struggle with gender dysphoria that once had me identifying as a trans man for a few years, but I no longer feel comfortable identifying as and behaving as a man.

I’m not only attracted to women, but also to fellow nonbinary people. If more people understood that “bisexual” doesn’t just mean “attracted to both binary genders” but often means “two or more genders” perhaps I would use that instead. Unfortunately in our current world many people do not know that, and therefore lesbian is the best word I have to convey my sexuality in simple terms.

If you would like to read more on the topic of nonbinary lesbianism, I found an article that I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to understand the lable better. I am aware that it can be very confusing to people both in and outside of the LGBT+ community, but I urge you to approach the subject with sympathy and compassion, we are all just people trying to navigate this very complicated world.

At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter what my sexuality is, because as I’ve said before I am happily partnered (hopefully for life) to my favorite (also nonbinary!) lady in the entire world. I continue to question the labels I use for the sake of understanding myself better, as well as being understood better by others, not because I need other women to know I might find them attractive. Anyway, at this point in my life I think I would choose solitude over another relationship if the one I am in happens to end for any reason.

My relationship to sexuality and gender has always influenced my creations, as all other aspects of my identity and life experience do. So today I publish this very old artwork on this blog to pay homage to the very long journey I’ve had questioning my labels, and to thank my younger self for making this piece that I still resonate with so deeply.

Thank you for reading this and for keeping any unkind thoughts to yourself (wink!), I hope you have a wonderful day and I will see you in the next post!

Art Supply No Buy: Mid-year check in!

Last week I let you all know that I had made a mistake and broke my No Buy rules. I never really laid my rules out in a list, so I’ll give that a go now:

  • No purchasing new art supplies, duh!
  • Replacements and refills ONLY and only when genuinely necessary.
  • Borrowing is only okay occasionally, prioritize using owned supplies.
  • Buying things that aren’t necessarily art supplies with the intention to use them as art supplies is NOT allowed.
  • Upcycling trash is allowed, but buying something you wouldn’t have bought with the intention of upcycling the packaging is NOT allowed.
  • Trying free digital art programs is okay, taking free traditional art supplies is not.
  • Organizational items (such as pencil pouches, desk organizers) don’t count as art supplies and are okay to buy if there is a genuine need.
  • Art supply gifts should be discouraged, but if given by someone ignorant of the No Buy may still be accepted. Don’t use gifted items until 2023 unless they would become unusable by then.
  • Buying art merch from fellow small artists, such as stickers, prints, or pin buttons, is ok and actually encouraged.
  • Don’t look for loopholes, if it feels like it would violate the rules then it would.
  • If you stumble or fall just pick yourself back up and keep going. You haven’t failed unless you give up entirely.

(All instances of the word “you” in that list are referring to myself, but feel free to follow my rules if you like them and think they would apply to your own No Buy!)

Now that I’ve laid down the rules, we can see that I have violated the first rule once by buying a phone stylus that doubles as a ballpoint pen. Since this is my first and only slip-up this entire year so far I am actually quite proud of myself! This whole thing is turning out to be a lot easier than I expected.

Since I am not buying any art supplies until 2023 I started a shopping list for when the No Buy is finally over. Only items I think would truly benefit me made this list, there have been many temptations but these all feel like logical purchases!

  • Pentel pocket brush pen
  • Magnetic drawing board toy
  • Top coat for acrylic painting
  • Base coat for acrylic painting
  • Button press machine

The Pentel pocket brush pen is something I’ve only heard good things about and definitely suits my art style. I love using brushes, I love refillable things, and I love things that are very portable. It would definitely be great for limiting my supplies for my travel sketchbook. I have had black brush pens before, such as the Sakura Pigma brush pen, but never ones with bristles and never refillable. This may actually be the item I look forward to most, though it is small and simple I think it will be a game changer.

The magnetic drawing board will be perfect for my daughter and I to get creative together as she will be just the right age to start doodling when the No Buy is over. I also just want one for myself to revisit childhood memories and make some low-effort art without the guilt of “wasting” paper!

Painting rocks is something I’ve really wanted to get into for a while now, especially because a local park we go to actually requests you paint rocks and leave them there! It doesn’t feel right to start now though, as I have so much paper to get through, and it really is advised to use a top coat to seal the rocks so they will last longer outside.

The button press machine is a big pricey investment, especially since I don’t plan on selling pins for profit, but it is something I have wanted for over 5 years. The first time I got to use one was at a pride festival and since then I have always thought it would be awesome to make my own pins and help others make some too!

The shopping list definitely soothes my anxiety about things I think I “Need To Have” because I know I can survive another 6 months without them and I won’t forget anything important. I can always add or remove items as my needs change as well. It gives me lots of time to think about the item and I won’t make any impulse purchases. I really think this shopping list is probably the thing helping me the most through this challenge so far, otherwise I may have slipped up (in a more serious way) by now!

I don’t really consider buying that stylus pen a true slip up because it was a genuine accident. I was rushing to get in and out of the Dollar Tree as fast as possible, I didn’t take time to look at the item thoroughly, and honestly my No Buy was the furthest thing from my mind that night. Accidents happen and there’s no point in dwelling on something so silly. Nonetheless I still found it important to hold myself accountable, I can learn from my mistake and avoid doing the same thing again in the future.

Recently I have decluttered even more art supplies that I haven’t touched the entire first half of this year, many of which suited my mom’s needs so they went to her. Anything else went to the local charity that will give them away for free to families in need. I started my minimalism journey in 2019 and since then I have come to believe if I am not using something it is selfish of me to hold on to it when someone else could be using it. I still tend to hold onto things for quite a while before deciding to get rid of them, because sometimes things do come in handy later on.

I find it incredibly rewarding to pass an item on to someone who will value it so much more than I do, especially because I understand exactly how it feels to be on the receiving end, I grew up very poor and the same charity I donate to now served me and my family back then. The markers I regretted buying probably made a huge difference in a child’s life, and because of that I no longer regret buying them. When I end up donating something I regret purchasing. I just keep in mind that it’s like buying a gift for someone else, and that puts my mind at ease. I won’t let the sunk cost fallacy keep me prisoner any longer!

In summary, so far so good. I look forward to finishing this year out strong, hopefully with no more accidents! I will not let one tiny mistake ruin all the progress I have made over these last 6 months. I hope the lessons I learn from this No Buy will stay with me through the rest of my life, and maybe I won’t have the need to do No Buys in the future. I already feel that I have learned a lot about myself, my art, and my shopping habits through the first 6 months of this challenge.

My next No Buy check-in will be in a few months, probably around the beginning of Autumn. There should be plenty of new posts between now and then, so I’ll see you in the next one. I hope you have a wonderful day!

I’m on a roll!

Released a new traditional art coloring page today, and even got a sketch in too! Just as I had hoped, as a side effect of not playing video games, I am creating more frequently. I’ve started using my watercolor sketchbook more, and I’m hoping to actually get it wet soon.

Working on my mid-year Art Supply No Buy check-in post, so stay tuned! See you soon!

(Water)coloring page!

I drew this new traditional coloring page in my watercolor sketchbook! I plan to use my watercolor paints to color the original myself.

I’m “getting high on my own supply” so to speak, I’ve recently started coloring my own coloring pages. Now I’m addicted, and I need more line art to color! It’s not like I’ve never colored before, I spent my childhood coloring like many of us did, and being an artsy type it was one of my favorite activities. However, over the last several years I have mostly focused on drawing, and for some reason I never really considered coloring my own coloring pages.

Now I’m coloring out of boredom and a desire for some low-stress creativity. I consider coloring to be an art form in and of itself, but there’s something particularly rewarding about coloring in line art drawn by oneself! I figured that since I have created so many of my own designs, and I think buying coloring books goes against my Art Supply No Buy, I might as well have a go at coloring them myself.

Since I started using Mandoo I have been able to create line art so much easier, it has really helped me ease back into drawing regularly. Wanting new designs to color is also a huge motivator for me now! I have been itching to get back into watercolor but I have been feeling intimidated, so I figured coloring would be a great way to start again.

I do plan on showing off some of my colored coloring pages soon, so stay tuned! Have a wonderful day and I’ll see you in the next post!

Neurographic Mandalas

Using Mandoo I was able to combine the concept of neurographic art with mandala and I love the results!

Doing this traditionally would be a lot harder and probably not a “true neurograph” since one is meant to start a neurograph with a random scribble, but with a mandala-making program it is completely possible and very easy!

If you are interested in coloring these I have uploaded them all to my digitally-drawn coloring pages Google Drive folder, so please enjoy!

Happy Pride Month!

You can find the original files for these coloring pages in my digitally-drawn coloring pages Google Drive folder!

This coloring page was a special request from my mom, who gave me the idea for the little blank flags. I went with something super simple and open-ended so it is very customizable! I am eternally grateful to have a mom who accepts me and wants to support me and my community.

My queer identity has a very long and complicated story behind it. Today I have settled with the labels of “nonbinary lesbian” but it’s still something I continue to question on a regular basis. Luckily I am happily partnered to the most wonderful woman in the world so I don’t really need to think so hard about it!

I hope June is kind to each and every one of you, see you in the next post!