Saturday Round-Up – 26/09/2015

GACIpiS

Yay, I’m doing the round up thing again. Just a quick post once a week to highlight what I’ve been up to.

Youtube is coming along nicely. In the last week I started a regular live stream of Dead Rising on the 360. It has been a lot of fun, check it out here, if you like killing zombies and weird Japanese knock offs of American B-Movies.

Art stuff: I’ve been painting a bit less since I started focusing on webcomics, so no paintings this week, but I have been bringing my old Deviant Art profile back from the dead. Check it out, send me llama badges.

And speaking of that comic, I spent most of the early part of this week getting Timeshare’s site more usable. I’m still making little tweaks as I go. The latest strip is up today, so take a look. (It has a dinosaur in it.)

The Podcast is rocking along as always, with a new exciting episode every week. We had a few technical glitches this time, but we also cover that political scandal, so check out episode 39, The Pig and the Prime Minister.

Elsewhere on the blog, you’ll find a piece I wrote about how taking things in little steps made me a better person, and a very little story about tea.

Those Aren’t Biscuits – 039 – The Pig and the Prime Minister

"Run Boys, the PM is coming!"
“Run Boys, the PM is coming!”

Hey guy, it’s podcast time again. I’m trying to get back in the habit of posting podcast updates and similar hear again. With that in mind, it’s time for episode 39 of Those Aren’t Biscuits, the show in which Jon and I discuss pop culture from a trans-atlantic perspective.

In this week’s exciting episode of Those Aren’t Biscuits we tackle David Cameron’s ham sandwich, the Metal Gear Solid musical, Jon’s latest quest FOR JUSTICE and Owen gets all preachy.

You can subscribe to the show on iTunes, add it on Stitchervisit the homepage page, or download directly.

How I learned to embrace little habits.

I am a terrible procrastinator.

I always I have been. I’m not sure why. I suffer from a terrible discordance between the person I’d like to be, and the person I am. In my mind, I am a true renaissance man. Artist, writer, pundit and politician. Thinker, doer, adventurer. Equally at home publishing his own fine collection of short stories or painting pretty little still-lifes for the whole world to enjoy. In reality,  I fight a never ending battle against my own laziness. I have some achievements under my belt, a few things I’ve done I’m pretty happy with and a few ongoing projects that I really think could become something. The problem is I’m just not one of those people who finds it hard to do nothing. Some people get itchy at the idea of doing nothing, the get bored and irritable, they need to work at all times. I wish I was one of those people. I have to rely on other tactics. (Mostly guilt.) I’ve said it before, there are lots of things I enjoy, lots of things I quite like to do. I love the feeling of having created, of being proud of something and being able to put it out there. There are some things I love the process of. I can become totally absorbed in art. Drawing and painting would be enormous time drains, if only they paid the rent.

But getting started? Getting up in the morning with a to-do list and happily working through it until the sun sets. Working without pining for a time when I can put it all away and vegetate in front of Netflix while my waistband steadily expands. Well. I’m not that person. And I’ve fought against it. As a child, society helped. Go to school, do your homework, don’t be late. I was kicked and shoved begrudgingly into something the resembled an organised life, but the older one gets. The longer we are left to our own devices, the less we can count on society to mould our lives into shape. When the plaster is removed, some of us turn out to be exquisitely sculpted clay, but I ended up as something squidgier. I’ve been trying to mould myself ever since.

The first failure was in trying to fix everything at once. I would have phases of firing on all cylinders all at once. For a while, the shape would stick. I would work hard, without stopping, on everything I wanted to achieve all at once, and tidy the house at the end of the day too. The results were predictable. My life would stop and start, I’d oscillate between moments of giddy, productive joy and utter, depressing mediocrity.

Things changed when I went into writing. At first I tried to do it all at once, I was going to write the greatest novel ever written, and I was going to do it in three months, self publish it and live off the fat cheques that followed. It didn’t work out like that. I got half way through the first draft, burned out and never returned to it. My next attempt wasn’t much better. Eventually I realised I just didn’t have the stamina to write what I wanted to write. I was like a Sunday jogger trying to run a marathon. I switched it up, I decided to go into training. I set myself a very modest goal of writing 500 words a day. The 500 words became 1000, then 2000 and eventually 3000. (Oh how I miss those days.) It changed the way I wrote, and it changed the way I saw my own progress. For once, I’d stuck with something and I actually felt like I was growing. It affected me in other ways too, just getting up in the morning and writing first thing put a different spin on my whole day. Of course, I still kicked and screamed my way through everything else I had to do, but I had one solid goal under my belt already that day. It was a step forward. Progress, if nothing else.

Since then, when taking to something new, I’ve always tried to break it down into little daily goals. Little habits to build. I find it much easier to approach everything I have to do if I take it one tiny decision at a time, and at the end of the day, I can look back and see what those decisions added up to. If I let it expand, if I try too hard to worry about the big picture, I get overwhelmed. I shut down. The lazy gland kicks in and I want to hide from my to-do list. Over time, however, if I keep working at these little decisions, they become habit. The brain heads to them without thinking, until you can almost work on autopilot. After a little while, I found I was one of those people who couldn’t go too long without writing before they started to get itchy feet.

I’m still a terrible procrastinator. I have to resist the tendency to slack off every day. I’ve had to learn that what I want, and what I think I want, aren’t always the same thing. I want to draw comics and read great books, I want to tell stories and make art and connect with people through these things. But most of the time, I think I want to crash in bed and watch TV. I know I don’t really want to do it, because if I give in to that temptation I end up hating myself for it. I don’t feel happy again until I can work closer to that goal. I’ve been in a slump with writing for a few months now, I haven’t written as much as I should. I’ve started lots of other projects, but they’re all easier, more comfortable. I’ve let the challenging things slip while I worry about leaving my job, and where to go moving forward. It has been a while since I worked on my little habits, but I know where I need to go from here.

A little writing every day, a little blogging every day, a little around the house, and the rest will take care of itself.

Introducing Timeshare – A Webcomic

Hey guys,

timeshare7
Probably my favourite so far.

As you know, I’ve been getting back into art lately. Part of that has been relearning to use a wacom tablet and finally teaching myself some decent graphics software. As part of that, I’ve been producing a weekly webcomic for the last five weeks now. I’ve mostly kept it on the quiet because it has been quite a learning experience, but the next few weeks of comics scheduled have been work I’m really happy with so it’s time to start sharing it around. The comic is available here, and updates Saturdays. Read on for a bit of a taster.

 

Timeshare is about a guy whose roommate is a time traveller. At the moment it’s a simple self contained gag-strip but I’ve got a few cool ideas for running storylines.

 

The art is a little clunky in these early strips, but by around strip 9 or 10 (already drawn and queued up) I start to settle in a little more and get comfortable with the characters.

Feel free to leave me any feedback, I’d love to know how you think I could improve. Thanks

Green About the Gills – A Micro Story

This is a very little story so I’m not going to spend much time introducing it, but I’ve been deep in writers block for weeks now and so this was the result of really pushing myself to just write from the cuff and see what happened. Let me know what you think. 


Sit down. No, not there. The chair by the fire is much more comfortable. I’ll put the kettle on and join you in a moment. When we’ve had chance to enjoy the tea, I’ll tell you about my little murder. Don’t look so surprised. How else would you find me here. Of course, I knew it was a risk, sending the box to the papers, but I’m older than I look. I’m starting to feel it you know. There, the kettle’s on the hob. It’ll be whistling in no time. What was I saying?

Oh that’s right. I don’t notice quite where you’d expect. I was chopping wood for the fire yesterday. My husband, he used to take care of that but… well we’re getting to him. Anyway, I went all morning and didn’t feel it, but when I got up to answer the door just then. Oh you’d think I’d been buried already. There we go. That’s the water boiled. Now, where did I put that towel. I like the old kettles, but you you’ve to be careful. The handles get hot like you wouldn’t believe. It was tea you wanted, wasn’t it dear? I have some coffee somewhere but I couldn’t tell you how good it was. We don’t drink it, Bertie and I. There. I’ll give you the good mug. We got that shortly after we moved in, from Burrows, on the high street. Do you remember it? No, you probably wouldn’t. It didn’t close all that long ago, but the standards had been slipping since to rules on selling baccy changed. You don’t smoke, do you dear? No. It’s a nasty habit. Stains your fingers. I used to tell him off, but he never listened. Now isn’t that good? I only buy the best teabags, y’know.

Alright, don’t look at me like that. I’m getting to it. You saw the box I suppose? Letter, newspaper clippings and all that. I don’t know why I kept them. Why does anyone do anything. I suppose I just wanted someone to know, I never thought there’d be spotty boys from the newspaper at my door. Truth is, I thought if anyone pieced to together it would be the police. Young people are so ambitious today though, aren’t they. Anyway, I put in my little notes and all those thoughtful missing person articles they ran in the local paper for me. I suppose a photo was a little too much but I got carried away. I didn’t even say how I did it.

“Well.”

Oh, it speaks at last, does it.

“Maybe I could tell your side of the story, before it all comes out. You know? Make things go a bit easier for you.”

That sounds a little too good to be true, if you don’t mind me saying. What is it with young people today. So detached from reality.

“I could try. Why don’t you tell me what happened and we’ll go from there.”

Oh it’s not very complicated. You can be doing the same thing your whole life, and then one day you don’t want to do it anymore. Haven’t you ever felt like that?

“No, not really.”

Pity. It’s quite enlightening. You know, they say guns are so dangerous not because they’re so lethal, but because it’s so easy to pull the trigger.

“You shot him?”

Oh no, what do you take me for. But I’ve had a long time to think about it, guns are so quick aren’t they, but it didn’t take much more thought for me. I just slipped a spoonful of rat poison into his tea and… Oh what’s the matter dear? You look positively green about the gills.

Daily Painting – Day 6

Goomba

Here we have another Mario themed painting. This time I went with a Goomba instead of another power up because once you’ve done the Mushroom and the Blue Shell there rest are all derivatives or less interesting. I like how this turned out but if I were to do it again, I’d aim for a more realistic feel and less of a cartoony look to it. Not easy with a Goomba, of course, but I like a challenge. As usual, this was painting in Manga Studio on a Wacom Tablet. Speed painting vid below.

Daily Painting – Day 5

We skipped yesterday as I was busy celebration 28 cycles around the planet, but here’s my next daily painting. It’s a cow. Isn’t that awesome.

Cow

Again, painted in Manga Studio using the oil paints. I think the cow turned out alright, but not so thrilled with the background.

Daily Painting – Day 4

blueshell

This is another nerd painting, but I enjoyed doing my Power Mushroom so much, I had to return for the classic Blue Shell. Truth is, I hated this one when I painted it but that was about 24 hours about and today I feel a lot happier with it. Again, painted in Manga Studio with the oil paint brushes. The original video took around an hour and a half. Check out the vid below to see this painting right from the bank page!

Daily Painting – Day 3

peppers

This is probably my favourite of the paintings so far. I think it’s more fluke than talent, but I still think it looks great. I think I’m finally getting a better grip of light and shadow, though backgrounds could use a little more work for sure.

No speed painting video of this as I’m reserving those for more pop-culture, geeky paintings that will appeal to my Youtube audience, but I think the painting stands well on its own. Subject is a pic summoned by google, painted in Manga Studio.

Daily Painting – Day 2

PowerMushroom

I feel like this wasn’t a great choice for my second daily painting. I wanted to do something a bit quirky, and a bit geeky so I went for the Mario Power Mushroom. My source image was CGI and so there wasn’t a huge amount of detail, just a lot of very smooth, sterile lighting that was tough to get rough. I feel like the face turned out well, whereas there just wasn’t enough to do with the cap to bring it to life. Still, it could have been worse. Tomorrow I think I’ll return to something more naturalistic. A leaf perhaps.

If you’d like to see me painting in action, I recorded this one as I painted it.