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March 23, 2023

Girl and ribbon, touched up

I love doing these picture edits. The original artwork is from 2012.

One lesson I learned from this one is to stay as close to the original as possible. I'm not happy with how much this one ended up straying away. Oh well.

March 22, 2023

Statue - touched up

I haven't had much free time to draw lately, but in the meantime I've gotten carried away with touching up old artworks. I wanted to see if I could fix an artwork I dislike, and so far, I am super happy with the results! This artwork is originally from 2014, AKA the dark ages. A lot of what I did back then is, uh, not good.

The other reason for touching up older artworks is because there are some things I miss. The goal is to bring back elements of my old style with the new. I will use these edits as a reference for future artworks. 

In the original Deviantart description I wrote that this artwork was a slog to work on and I wasn't that interested, taking months to finish. One thing I recently discovered is how to make art fun again. I have always followed a carefully laid-out methodology for digital art with dozens of layers and folders. I still follow this, but that's only half of the process. 

The fun part starts when I flatten the image and start drawing over it, adding details that would be tedious if I had to sift through 50 different layers. Layers can be helpful but also a detriment. I love going over the drawing and emphasizing lines, details, and colors, just as if I was coloring something on paper or canvas.

Trust your imagination

A new strategy for visiting more ideas, and having fun with art in general

There is joy and freedom in allowing raw material to see the light of day. You can’t edit something that only exists in your head. Get it down on paper first. Forget about external validation. Forget about making CoNtEnT for social media. Draw for yourself. Draw whatever the hell your little heart desires. Because at the end of the day you’re the only one who gets to see everything you make. You might as well make what you love.

Just keep making art. Draw from imagination. Grab references. Repeat. I picked a random idea: “Interesting Door”. I could spend 20 minutes looking for Parisian doors to copy down, but then get distracted by Pinterest. OR, I could just start drawing. After I doodle these interesting doors from imagination, then I will look up pictures for inspiration, then go back to doing more drawings. I struggle with perfection when it comes to composition and general setup. My workaround is to just be brave and stick with it. Forget coming up with 50 different thumbnails. This isn’t a commissioned 10’ oil painting of the president. It’s personal art. Just have fun.

Make reference collages throughout the process. The first collage is for major elements and overall look.  As I progress through the project, I will seek out more specific, minor details for another collage. Things should be separated by importance and wait for their appropriate turn. Otherwise, the collage will get overwhelming and confusing. A microscopic detail should not have the same importance as the fundamental setup of the artwork.

I have permission to be sloppy. Be okay with vulnerability and the crudeness of just doing what you set out to do, instead of waiting for the perfect conditions. I’m doodling interesting doors from imagination. I will draw it even if it sucks. That’s my approach to writing and other areas of life too. Be brave and forgive yourself. Just like with memory training, it is intriguing to compare what you know with what you don’t know. The most fascinating of all is watching in real time how this new knowledge and experience changes your approach moving forward. Even if the artwork sucks, stick with it. Once it’s complete, that’s an excuse to revisit the idea! I redo older artworks all the time.

Remember the story about the pots. You could have dozens of imperfect pots but learn valuable lessons along the way; or focus on one giant perfect pot - “grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.” My story is my giant, perfect pot project, 15 years in the making. Stop theorizing. Just write the goddamn thing!

I love writing about my ideas, but I wonder if this can be stifling as well. In How to be an Artist, Jerry Saltz declared that “certainty harms creativity”. Conceptual ideas - such as a burning rose - don’t need lengthy rants and rambles. Just draw the damn rose. What is there to say? When I start with the writing for an easy conceptual idea, that can make it hard to draw something because I already laid out all the potential possibilities. This is better explored through doodling. My new approach is to pick out an idea and start doodling. Doodles and thumbnails. Save the writing for later.

Despite this - I can and will keep writing about my ideas. Certain types of ideas - i.e. Open Concepts - are more appropriate to start with writing first, due to the nature of it. Abstract ideas require more thought. I enjoy writing about my ideas, but it is important to know when it is appropriate. For conceptual ideas, the writing would come after the initial drawing stage. At that point, I will have something to work from. The bottom line: It is about doing things in the best possible order. Identify the situation. I enjoy the iterative process. Sister Mary Corita Kent: “Don’t create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes.” Now I realize why I would spin my wheels so much.

I want to do more traditional art. I miss the tactile quality of traditional artwork. I want to make something real that takes up real space. I miss oil painting class. I want to use my watercolors and gouache paints,  my markers and colored pencils. There is so much out there I want to try. When I dabble into these different traditional art mediums, I get lost in my own little world, and it is wonderful!

Too much digital art has numbed my critical thinking skills. I make decisions without thinking, because I have the safety net of Ctrl+Z. Traditional art teaches you the lesson of making careful and conscious decisions. It teaches you good habits and hones your skills through trial and error. Bring this wisdom back to digital art, and you’ll enjoy the best of both worlds!

I am going to draw more pictures in my sketchbook. More “serious” sketches and not scrap paper doodles. For now this is baby steps towards drawing traditionally. Eventually, I would like to draw traditionally from start to finish. The two main rules are to be brave and to focus on the fundamentals. For now the main shapes are blocked in, but the detail will be saved later for digital. The sketchbook page is for focusing on the general setup and foundation. Even though I am importing the sketch to a digital format, I still want the drawing to look as good as possible - not from detail - but the setup. Once I import the sketch, I want to start drawing over it right away instead of spending 40 minutes reworking the drawing. 

I am excited. All it took was a slight rearrangement of steps taken, and a more relaxed (but brave!) mindset. Just pick an idea and stick to it. Even if it sucks. That’s just an excuse to make a new version later on. Part of the fun is picking ideas through the random number generator. Let’s try it out: I randomly landed on Fushigi Yugi group artwork. I have already brainstormed this idea, but I went straight to doodling how it would look. What is most important is what I remember. It’s coming along well!

March 17, 2023



I wanted to see if I could take an artwork I dislike, and turn it into something I do like. Worst part is, this was for an art trade. I wish I could go back in time and grab 2014 Mel by the shoulders and ask them what they were thinking. Wish I had a mentor back then. But alas!

March 15, 2023

Hawaii value studies


In the process of coloring these three paintings. Now if only I had the time!!!

Emily - Touched up

Emily, touched up

Original from 2012

I re-colored this lineart recently, but to be honest, I was not happy with it. This time, I went directly over the original artwork and touched it up. The goal is to keep editing to a minimum, while enhancing certain details. Out of all my attempts, this is my new favorite version.

March 13, 2023

Divine Light - Touched up

Original from 2013

I haven't had much time or energy to start anything new, sadly. But in the meantime I decided to touch up one of my personal favorite artworks. This is from a whole ten years ago!!

Many of my personal favorite artworks were done between 2012 and 2013, including this one. I really enjoyed revisiting the artwork, fixing mistakes and enhancing certain details. Editing old artworks helps me remember how want my art to look.